Monday, November 24, 2008

L'attitude de Gratitude

Dear readers, Happy Thanksgiving. Our virtual community is one of the many things for which I am giving thanks today. Even when we disagree, or perhaps especially when we disagree, our dialogue helps me understand that no matter the circumstances, an attitude of gratitude makes for a happy life.

Back when I started this blog, I could only dream of the day that I would feel mostly grateful -- instead of mostly confused and bitter -- for my childhood in the OALC. I can honestly say that day has come. The loss of one commmunity opened up so many others.

So I'll be lifting my glass of cheap "champagne" (Chateau St. Michelle Extra Dry de Costco) to you, my friends, around 6:30 pm PST.

To your health and happiness!

(Photo credit goes to my hubby, from the last time we opened the bubbly. The image on the TV is a clue to when that was.)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Pastypalooza

Inspired by ijumped, I baked up a passel of pasties today, both steak and chicken. The steak ones are for a friend we are visiting tonight. Although he speaks and breathes Finn, he hasn't had a pasty "in years." The chicken ones are what my mom calls a "must go" meal (the chicken was getting any younger). But hey, they aren't bad at all!

Here is my recipe. I quadrupled everything, and had enough pastry left over for a batch of joulutorttu. The whole affair took hours, and my kitchen looks like a flour bomb exploded in the middle of it. After a "sampling" of pasties and joulutorttu, my grateful hubby has offered to do the dishes while I take a bath. I call that a good deal.

Pasties

Pastry
2 c flour
1/3 c Crisco, diced
1/3 c unsalted butter, diced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup ice cold water
1/4 cup half and half, for brushing

Mix flour and salt, cut in shortening and butter, add water. Mix until well blended. Form into log, cut in 4 rounds, and chill in the refrigerator while preparing filling. Roll into 8" circles.

Filling
3/4 pound steak (I used eye of round) or chicken breast, cut in 1/2 inch cubes
1/4 cup red wine
2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 cup sweet onion, diced
1/2 cup rutabaga, diced
3 cups potatoes, diced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup fresh parsley

Marinate meat in wine and garlic salt while preparing vegetables, then drain. Mix with veggies and seasoning in a large bowl. Roll out dough in 8" circles, trim. Brush edges with half and half. Place 1 cup filling on half of pasty, and fold over other half. Seal edges firmly and and flute, or press with fork. Place on cookie sheet. Cut 3 tiny slits in each for steam, and brush top of pasty with milk.

Bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes. Serve with ketchup and, unless you are a Yooper purist, Thai rooster sauce.

Please share your recipes for pasties or anything else you like.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Obama on Faith, and Doubt

This just-released, uncut 2004 interview is worth reading from beginning to end. I find Obama's spiritual consciousness to be profound, and I share his suspicion of certainty, his understanding of "sin" and "heaven," and his personal practice of moral realignment. We have almost nothing else in common, so if I'm feeling this way, there must be millions of others who are as well. That's a stunning thought for a former Laestadian!

Here's a quick quote:

I'm a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it's best comes with a big dose of doubt. I'm suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding.


Pinch me! That we elected this man is just too amazing to be true.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Teacher's Lament

"Jeff" posted this over at the OALC Discussion blog:

I find it very hypocritical to want large families and then need assistance to support them. My wife and I would have loved to have a large family but knew that we could not adequately support the children emotionally and financially. I cannot afford to drive the nice cars or travel extensively that the majority of these families are capable of doing while still qualifying for governmental support.

In my experience, I have seen many young mothers suffer great depression and advised from the church elders not to pursue assistance or counselling as this would be a weakness of their soul. I think they may be afraid that the women may find that counselling might expose the family to some "errors" for lack of a better terms in their beliefs. Would this be accurate?

As a teacher, I have witnessed a level of disrespect that is unbelievable and parents unable to guide (what most people would consider discipline their children) their children when they provide no financial or emotional support for them. It is very evident that the students feel that they do not have to respect us "worldly" people as we are called. The students on the playground are confronted and told they are going to hell because they believe in Santa Claus. How can a Christian even begin to criticize the premise of Santa Claus. I would be the first to admit that Christmas is excessively commercialized. But the generous spirit (not giving your kids expensive gifts) is a very Christian value.

Learning to be tolerant and work together with others motivates students. Jesus did not exclude anyone that believed, yet I often see a great deal of racism and exclusion.
Participating in sports can be fun and rewarding and when taken in context can build character within students. I don't understand why they may not participate.

I do not intend any of these comments to offend anyone and admire their christian beliefs. Even though my frustration is very evident - I just seek greater understanding.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Hope, bliss, gardens, mutts, life

Wow. The past 3 days I've been fighting a cold but enjoying the most ebullient feelings about our country and our future. "Bliss it was to be alive" is the Wordsworth line making the rounds, warming English-major hearts everywhere. Check out Judith Warner's "Tears to Remember" column (unless you are still weeping for McCain).

This morning at the grocery store, heading for the tea aisle, I nearly ran into Congressman Jim McDermott (D-WA), who looks JUST like he does on TV, with white hair and rosy cheeks. He was radiant, seemingly walking on air, and smiled broadly at my greeting, no doubt more at my Obama button than my mush-mouthed gee-willickers greeting. I was so flustered I read and re-read all the tea boxes, several times over.

He was gone in a flash (the cashier said the congressman joked about not being a good citizen because he forgot his tote bag) before I could ask him for tickets to the inauguration. Apparently tickets are free, and Congress gets a bunch to give away to constituents. Of course, getting to Washington, DC and back is not cheap. Sigh. I'll be at home on January 20th glued to the tube, and be glad I'm not freezing among the hordes on the Mall.

Yes. But I do so hope to get to DC at least once in my life. Our son is studying the Constitution in his 4th grade class, and next summer his school is leading a tour group to DC and Colonial Williamsburg. How I would love for him to go, and for me to go with him! But $2,200 per person is not chump change. (Business has been super slow, but if the stimulus package stimulates, we're on that plane!).

Later this morning I got a phone call from our local paper, asking for my reaction to Prop 2, the city's parks levy that just passed overwhelmingly. It includes $2 million for four community gardens (my bailiwick). Again, alas, I was gee-willickers inarticulate and giddy. I distrust most reporters, having been misquoted a lot, but this guy was really nice, so I found myself extemporizing about the economic, ecological and health benefits of urban food gardening, and recommending we go back to calling them "Victory Gardens" like our grandparents did during the Depression WWII, and in general, enthusing about the "can do" grassroots spirit that drove the Obama campaign and will continue to drive positive community change. And by the way, did you know seed sales are up and organic food sales down? Thank goodness I got another call or we'd still be talking!

The next call was from a dear friend, a former OALCer and very wise soul, who is just as elated about the election results. After catching up, I asked for advice about something that has been weighing on me lately: how should one advise folks to deal with OALCers?

I get emails from people who have found this blog and want advice, either in dealing with a romance, job or school conflict, or other situation that involves Laestadians (usually OALC).

I hesitate to give advice, because (1) the details are always scant, and (2) I'm no expert. So I usually offer vague recommendations (the kind I give to my friends): talk directly, set clear boundaries, model respect for differences.

Is this enough? I asked if I had a duty to learn more, or to call OALC leaders and let them know what I was hearing (even though that would cause more strife to me and my family). Well, I was relieved when he did NOT encourage that, and gave me props for taking the high road. Such as it is. What do you think, readers?

During that phone call, I missed most of Obama's press conference this afternoon. Apparently he was boring, except where he talked about the new First Puppy, saying that he prefers mutts "like me", but they need a hypo-allergenic dog as Malia has allergies. That made me laugh, as it hit home:

Yesterday for his homework, our son had to write a letter to the new president, advocating for an issue. He chose education, and encouraged "more schools" in order to reduce class size, so "teachers and students can have more one-on-one time." He also mentioned, "by the way," that his dog is a great kind of dog.

As a cocker/bichon, Bodhi is a mutt AND hypo-allergenic. As I write this, Bodhi is sleeping beside me, dreaming of chasing squirrels. His paws and tail are twitching. While there are moments I'd be happy to give him away (he gets carsick and he chews on sofa cushions), the Obamas will just have to find their own.

Okay, back to work, everybody!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The Arc of History



May we all be as gracious in defeat as McCain and in victory as Obama this evening. Whatever your views, there is something to celebrate for every one in this, that an individual who could have been bought and sold as a slave just seven generations ago was just elected to lead our nation.

What a country!