Monday, January 28, 2019

Freezing temps ` blowing snow `

It's another snow day here in Iowa; a good day to get caught up.  With all the bitter cold weather we've heated up the kitchen a time or two with some great recipes. 

German Pancakes ~ delicious, a good mix between a regular old pancake and a French crepe.  We covered ours with berries, syrup, and a little dusting of powdered sugar. Groovy Girl and I made it, baked it, and ate it in short order.

{NYT version}
Rhubarb Pound Cake ~ I made this for a small birthday gathering for our new minister's wife.  Baking is not always easy for me as you have to follow the directions perfectly. Unlike making dinner where a little of this and a little of that can work even with changing out key ingredients; baking not so much. I had rhubarb in my freezer so right away that changed the recipe and how it baked but really it turned out...better than expected!  I will definitely make this again, maybe even in the summer time when I can use fresh rhubarb.

{my cake~half eaten}

Lentil white bean Chili ~ By the way it has been a very cold winter so my slow cooker is living on my countertop. I whipped this chili up last weekend to keep us warm. I specifically looked for a chili that had lentils and bless the internet this one popped up.  This was a delicious recipe with lots of flavor ~ I opted to make this meatless and it was still great!  My family, used to eating many meatless meals,  didn't feel like anything was missing.

Brown Rice Risotto ~ I made this for book club because I wanted something new and different for a beautiful butternut squash I had.  I would make this again but I would alter it a bit by roasting the squash first and adding it in after the rice has cooked through. The squash was pretty flavorless after soaking with the rice. I'd also add in more goat cheese.

I got up early this morning, even though it was a snow day for us, because it was the BIG American Library Association award announcements at 8am (Pacific time) only to realize that meant 10 am our time. I curled up and went back to sleep for a little bit before watching the official webcast live. I always just look at the announcements after because it takes place while I'm teaching so this was a treat. I was happy to note that I had quite a few of the award titles already and will order the few that I don't have over the next few weeks. Good books, good food - this is how we survive winter.  Plus a roaring fire helps.

Monday, January 21, 2019

My heroes

I don't know the whole story of the stand-off between the young "Make America Great Again" hat wearing Catholic student, Jake Sandmann and Native American, Vietnam Vet Nathan Phillips or any of the other students involved but what I can recognize is a clear smirk on Jake's face and his choice to stand as close as possible to Nathan, which to me is a sign of disrespect. He is attempting to stand down and act superior to the Native elder person in front of him. It's just one more unbelievable moment in time showcasing how much work we have before us. It feels like it is a constant battle whether peacefully done or not. I bare witness to it in school when young people choose to leave the one black student to sit at a table on their own, or when head-scarfed young mothers have trouble fitting in to our school culture. Will it always be this way? I am one who is filled with an unbearable amount of hope and yet I wonder.

I have a few heroes that I look to when I wonder.  How would Dr. King view our world today? Would Shirley Chisholm, Barbara Jordan, or Maya Angelou feel we've made positive strides compared to their early days or would they feel like I do that we are traveling back in time. I see a new slew of representatives in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Kamala Harris, Hodan Hossan (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MN); these are women who quite possible can make a change in government.  Right now with our current administration we need ALL the help we can get and it's more than just good representation. We need a mindset shift so the haters don't get out of hand. Everything Dr. King tried so desperately to teach us had to do with the power of love.  How am I carrying that torch? What are we doing as a nation to carry the torch? the first step would be to end the current administration, the entire lot. Or we could build a wall around the White House.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Just do it!

I'm happy to share that I've made it to a yoga class the first Saturdays of January.  State Street Yoga  has a new teacher, Corinne, on Saturdays at 10:30, which is a very good time for me, because I can't roll myself out of bed too early on a day off.  Corinne is slightly unconventional, with a very soothing voice, good energy, and I've learned some new poses from her.  New learning is always good. So I'm happy to have started again and found someone interesting in that process.

I'm reading several books right now, trying to read more than watch, which is a struggle especially because Groovy Girl introduced me to Grey's Anatomy. I didn't pay attention when the show aired originally but now I'm genuinely interested in the characters and what's going on. It's a bit like watching General Hospital while I was in college.

Books I'm reading:

The Library by Susan Orlean - so beautifully written, would not have thought I'd enjoy a nonfiction book about a library fire.

Endling by Katherine Applegate - I am just about 6 chapters in and curious about where the story is going. This morning I had the book in my arm at church and a precocious 10-year-old reader told me she thought the story was great. That recommendation alone should keep me going...

Code Girls: the untold story of the American women code breakers of WWII by Liza Mundy - This is for book club and I've cracked the cover twice and read a total of one page.  I'm not encouraged to read this whole (572 pages) book.  I'm a fiction girl at heart and struggle with titles like this. I'll take a fiction book about this topic any day. If you loved this title, let me know...

My hands (and the house) smell all spicy from chopping onions, garlic, and ginger for a big batch of chicken korma.  Friends are coming over for a beer tasting first and a bite to eat after. I'd already planned the korma dinner for family; I just had to double the batch. It smells delicious.


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

New Year, New Me

Not really. Why would I want a new me? I like me, most of the time and I've had a really pretty great 2018 so I say more of the same in 2019.

{Happy graduate with his two sisters}
Psychologically at this time last year, I had a major life meltdown. Things were not good in my family of 5 and we had a breakdown in communication. I bring this up only as a way to say we worked through it and we made it. That kind of life event does take a toll and I forced myself to find a therapist. I wasn't sure how it could ultimately help but I needed someone to talk to other than family. It took two tries to find the right one and with that came the realization that talking to someone, sharing your inner struggles and concerns, is about wellness; not about being broken. While this life concern was resolved positively (thank the mighty universe) I am still happily visiting my therapist's office every few weeks. I might choose to close that door soon but I know I can go back to it at any point.

{Celebrating Anton's 24th birthday together}
In the midst of that family struggle, I worked hard to get our fostered adult Anton out on his own. While he really disliked living with us with our reasonable family rules and expectations he was afraid of how hard it was going to be in the real world on his own. He lived with us for 16 months trying to begin a different life. He was a community college student for two semesters, he held down a job for almost a year, and he learned (sort of) he was not a great money manager. He also learned once he was fired that finding another job is no easy task and that once you have a job it is so very important to treat it with care and respect. The world is filled with rules and expectations, ideas and norms that many people never grow up understanding. 

It's not that collectively we all need to know the same things but it is important for your own personal survival to understand how to get along. And the better you are at code-switching the better you are going to get along. I mean simple things like how to address an envelope, put on a stamp or pay a bill, how to dress up for a job interview no matter what position you are applying for, how to not bend rules at work to make it easier for you, how to get along and work with others who you might not like, oh the list is endless. Thankfully this young man is now living in our community with his friends trying to make it work. I'm glad that I still see him and can help him out when I can. I'm also very happy that he isn't living in our guest room anymore. It was adding a great deal of undue stress into my family life. All I can do is remember that we did our best to help him create a new life; one where he can see past cyclical poverty and unemployment, even if he doesn't understand those recurring roles in his life. Thank you to these lifelong friends for helping me through this tough journey. And for all my friends who support me.

My goal for the year is to bring yoga back into my life as it was the one thing I let go of in the wake of last year. I chose sleep over yoga but I have to find a way to have both.  Other than that more writing and reading, more time for being tranquil. Peace and love my friends and hello to a new year.