Monday, August 31, 2015

Acknowledging That ALL Lives Matter

(You may find something that you disagree with here.  If you do, it's fine to share your opinion, but please do so in a kind way that promotes conversation instead of shutting it down.)

~

Darren Goforth, a 47 year old man who had been a police officer for 10 years was killed this weekend. Reports say that it appears to have been an unprovoked attack, simply because Goforth was in a cop's uniform. Josh Feldman writes:

The sheriff said the attack “strikes at the heart of law enforcement” and noted the “very dangerous national rhetoric that’s out there today.” And when it gets to a point where cops are being assassinated, he said, this rhetoric is “out of control.” “We’ve heard black lives matter,” he said, “all lives matter, well, cops’ lives matter too. So why don’t we drop the qualifier and just say ‘lives matter’ and take that to the bank?”


Photo courtesy of Fox News

I'm glad you asked. I'll tell you why.

Black lives matter.
Women's lives matter.
Men's lives matter.
Cops' lives matter.
Babies' lives matter.
Indigenous people's lives matter.
All lives matter.

Saying any one of these things doesn't preclude the others; it merely speaks to a problem that the speaker sees in front of them.

Cancer is a horrible illness.
ALS is a horrible illness.
Parkinson's is a horrible illness.
MS is a horrible illness.
All illnesses are horrible illnesses.

Saying any one of these things doesn't preclude the others, it merely speaks to a problem the speaker sees in front of them.

If someone says to you, "Black lives matter," don't respond with "All lives matter." You wouldn't react that way to a cancer patient.  Imagine that conversation...

~

"Cancer is a horrible illness."

"Stop saying that! All illnesses are horrible. Can't we accept that ALS and MS are bad too? My Grandma has Parkinson's and Lewy Body Disease. Why are you going on and on about your cancer all the time? Can't you acknowledge my Grandma?"

~

No one says that. That would be incredible hurtful to the person walking through everything involved in dealing with cancer.

Cancer is horrible.
Dementia is horrible.
MS is horrible.
All illness is horrible

Black lives matter.
Cops' lives matter.
Babies' lives matter.
All lives matter.

When someone kills a police officer because of the "Black Lives Matter" campaign/rhetoric, that person clearly does not understand that ALL lives matter. It is good and important to remind the world that ALL lives matter. It is also good to tell our stories about why individual groups of people's lives matter. That's how we are able to understand the world around us. Asking us to remove the qualifier negates many conversations that could be had, conversations that would allow us to understand each other better.

So, yes, "Lives Matter." ALL lives matter.

There will always be evil around us. The way we discuss life, with its good and bad, forms the framework for how we act and react. The man who killed the police officer clearly did not understand that all lives matter.  Have that conversation with people if you haven't.  It's a good and important comversation to have.

And when someone tells you that a specific life matters, please listen. There just might be a reason they're feeling that way.

(Inspired by a June 20, 2015 Facebook post by Jamie-Grace Harper. Spurred on by a quotation from Sheriff Ron Hickman.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Glazed Vanilla Bean Scones

This is a fully-bad-for-you, totally-indulgent, not-healthy recipe, so any Paleo or gluten-free diet people can just read for funny comments, drool, and move on. The rest of you should just go ahead and print this one off because you're going to be the hit of the next pot luck with this recipe.



Vanilla Bean Scones

Scone Ingredients:

2 vanilla beans
3/4 cup heavy cream

3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, chilled and cut into small cubes

1 egg

Glaze Ingredients:

1 vanilla bean
1/4 cup half and half cream
5-6 Tbsp milk
3 cups icing sugar, sifted


Heat oven to 350 degrees F.

Split 2 vanilla beans lengthwise down the middle and scrape out the goodness, stirring it into cream. Let it all blend together like wide-eyed freshman at a school mixer, for 15 minutes. (Do they still have school mixers these days?)

Sift together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients using a pastry blender or your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Add egg to cream mixture, then add to the flour mixture; stir with a wooden spoon until all comes together.

Put down parchment paper and form dough into a rectangle on paper. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and roll the dough until it is about 1/2 inch thick.

Cut dough into 12 -16 even rectangles. Cut those rectangles in half diagonally. Put on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 12-18 minutes, just until the edges are barely browned. (Cooking time varies greatly depending on size.)

Let scones cool for at least 30 minutes before you attempt to glaze them.

To make the glaze: Split the remaining vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the goodness. Stir the vanilla bean goo into cream and milk; let it mingle like singles at a speed dating dinner for about 15 minutes. (That doesn't even make sense. If they're speed dating, don't they jump around from person to person within a matter or a couple minutes or so? I don't know; I've never speed dated.) Whisk the milk mixture with the icing sugar until smooth.

When scones are as cold as a polar bear's toe nails (or, really, room temperature would do just fine), baptize those scones until they are fully immersed. After it's had a chance to drip dry, put each scone on a cooling/drying rack for speedier drying. (Speedier drying means speedier eating.)

Let scones sit for about an hour before you indulge. They taste best fully drip-dried.

Sources say these scones will last for several days if placed in a dry, sealed container, but we've never had them last that long.

Makes 24-32 scones.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Paleo "I'll have another" Choco-Peanut-Butter Bites

"Mom, can I have another one of those little circle things?"

I just made these...  No sugar, but so tasty, as evidence by the quote above, just spoken 10 seconds ago by my girl.
"Mom, can I have another one of those little circle things?"


Peanut Butter Brownie Balls

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dates

1 cup ground almonds
2T cocoa powder
1/4 cup natural peanut butter

Instructions

Add hot water to dates and let them sit for 5-10 minutes.

Have a coffee or tea.  Brush up on your Latin and Greek. Play Candy Crush and Farmville.

Drain the water from the dates.

Place all ingredients in a small food processor and process for 30 -60 seconds or until the dates are smooth and incorporated.

Roll into balls and try not to eat them all at once.

Have no guilt because that was a guilt-free treat!

Thank your friend, Wanda Whoopie-Cushion.

Friday, July 17, 2015

How to Get a Free Gigantor Hot Fudge Sundae, in 16 Easy Steps

How to Get a Free Gigantor Hot Fudge Sundae, in 16 Easy Steps

1. Meet a boy.

2. Decide he's cute.

3. Make sure he thinks you're cute.

4. Invite him to see The Lost World with your youth group.

5. Wait for him at the back of the theatre since he said he'd be late coming from his softball game.

6. End up sitting next to him since your youth group saved seats next to each other for you.

7. Realize that you are both slightly obsessed with John Williams' music.

8. Get engaged a year later.

9. Pick up a coupon somewhere along the way for a free small sundae from McDonald's.

10. Get married 14 months and 2 days after you got engaged.

11. After you leave your wedding reception, stop at McDonald's before you get to the hotel.

12. Drive up to the speaker, tell them you have a coupon and place your order.

13. Before pulling forward, tell them that you just got married that day and ask if they can give you some extra chocolate sauce.

14. Present your coupon.

15. Collect your Gigantor Sundae that has been made in a large soft drink cup.

16. Drive away celebrating.

~

Happy 16th Anniversary of getting that Gigantor Sundae, Aaron. Here's to many more!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Pictureless Picture-Perfect Day

I took so many mental snapshots today. The pull to run off and grab my camera was real. I stayed in the moment and saw this...

~

Picture this:

Around 11:30 this morning, there was a red picnic blanket spread out in my backyard under my black maple tree, green grass sprawling beyond the blanket's reach. A cornucopia of lunch was spread out in the centre of the blanket... Chips, salsa, sour cream, salmon, crackers, cucumbers, peanuts, and of course some napkins to mop up the inevitable mess. A couple lunch bags had been placed down as well, for the young cousins who were joining us today. Gathered around the perimeter of the picnic blanket were five smiley, sweaty kids, hungry from a morning of playing together, connected by genetics, but bound by their obvious love for each other. Older kids helped younger kids open juice boxes and younger kids gabbed away about their morning together, punctuating the tales with unbridled giggles.

Bellies and hearts were filled. It was picture-perfect.

~

Picture this:

This evening, after a raucous dinner, our family of five headed out to the ball diamond behind our house. I stayed behind to wipe up the counter while the kids and Dad got the ball gear out.  When I peeked my head out of the gate, I saw two brothers, one wearing the baseball mitt he got for his birthday last year, the other beaming with joy that he finally got to try out his brand new mitt, the one Dad just got him a week ago. The two brothers were throwing the ball back and forth. The older one caught it nine times out of ten, the younger one leapt for it but missed often. About 15 paces beside them were dad and daughter, also throwing the ball back and forth.  The girl took a step and threw the ball. It arced beautifully in the sky and landed in Dad's glove. He threw it back. She took a protective (albeit unnecessary) step back as it bounced where she stood two seconds earlier. I walked over to join in on the fun and caught several fly balls off Dad's bat.

The fun of sport and family togetherness was exhilarating. It, too, was picture-perfect.

~

Blogs look so much nicer with colourful pictures to draw you in. I was greedy and kept the pictures to myself today, savouring the moments instead of running off to grab the camera. I don't, most days. But then, the memories just aren't as meaningful because I wasn't in them.

Here's to being in the memories a little more these days.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Gardening: A Modern Day Parable

It is finally warm enough for me to think about planting little seedlings in my garden - tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, basil, squash...

However, I've realized that I don't have enough room for all the vegetation that I want to plant. In order to make room, I've had to look at my yard through fresh eyes.

I have a patch on the west side of my yard that has clematis, day lilies, violets, a rain barrel, and some unknown plants (which I used to think were violets.) Day lilies and violets, while pretty, will not feed my family. They grow and spread and grow more little plants which only take up room. That is room where I could instead grow squash and lettuce and broccoli and anything else that the animals don't eat.



So I put on my gloves, put on my gardening shoes, and went out to tackle the patch that needed to be transformed. The day lilies left a few days ago (thanks to a collaborative effort from my family) so all I had left to do was get rid of the violets. As I pulled the violets, I remembered that they weren't all violets. In fact, most of the green leaves and roots that I was pulling out came from an unidentified plant that I once thought was a violet. I let it stay, thinking that it was a heartier violet but, alas, it has crept in and choked out most of the violets. (I shall henceforth call these plants "The Little Deceivers.")

I also noticed that my neighbour's orange poppies had crept over to my side. While they were beautiful, they won't be tasty on our dinner table, so they had to go as well.

As I pulled and yanked and lifted those unwanted plants from my garden, I made sure to leave as much of the soil as I could. Unwanted plants are harder to remove when you have that heavy soil, the soil that is supposed to stay in the garden, clinging to them.

I thought of the bind-weed that we used to have running through our yard. It was all through one section of the garden and I just ignored it. It spread to the grass and we mowed it down.  It reached our second garden. That's when we started to really try to tackle it. We got most of it but every so often, I see a vine creeping out of the ground, trying to twist its tendrils around my tomato plants. But I have spent so much time getting that weed out of my garden, and I have spent so many years looking at that weed, that I know what it looks like and I know that I don't want it around any longer.


There's this one section of the garden that continues to harbour a bind-weed root. I let that bind-weed grow for so long that the root is too deep for me to totally eradicate it. So, I watch for that weed, knowing that as soon as I see its ugly fingers, I'll give it a good yank and toss it with all the other weeds... Far away from my garden.

I've not ever thought of myself as a good gardener, and I certainly don't consider myself to be an expert (not yet, at least) but as I see the results of pulling those unwanted plants so that I can plant things that will nourish my family, I am encouraged to stick with it.

I know that I didn't get all the violets' and Little Deceivers' roots. But when they start to grown in my garden, I know what to look for. It's easier to recognize weeds when I've planted good strong, nourishing food in that soil. Some weeds will poke through tentatively while others will unabashedly break through and try to set up shop in my garden. No more. They are not welcome. Recognizing that you have a weed problem is one thing. Resolving to do something about it is another. I think that it's only once you have good plants in place of the weeds that you actually realize how much life and nourishment the weeds were preventing.

Now go - Pull your weeds and plant nourishing vegetation that will be good and useful to you and your family.

~

(Lest I leave anyone confused, go back and replace any reference to "unwanted weeds" with the word "sin.")

Thursday, April 30, 2015

To haiku or not to haiku

My kids' poetry for the day...  The first few are the silly ones.

9-yr-old
My haiku will bore
You will not like it at all
And neither will I

11-yr-old
This haiku is not a haiku
And it is really super wrong
All the lines have eight syllables

12-yr-old
I'll tell a haiku
It has a giant mistake

And now for the one's they actually tried to make into real haiku.  Haiku is actually supposed to be an observation of a tiny thought in the vast expanse of nature.  These poems reflect the intended subject of Haiku:

12-yr-old
A tree's buds will burst
They turn into big green leaves
But soon they will fall

11-yr-old
A flower in bloom
Surrounded by all the grass
And tall trees around

9-yr-old
The fluffy bunny
Hopped around on the green grass
Later, we cooked it

My youngest wrote three actual nature haiku...  This was the most pleasant one.

Addendum:
11-yr-old
The sad little fly
Oh no - he's a black fruit fly
His life just ended