Thursday, April 21, 2011

And the verdict is...

…totaled.  I cried.  I didn’t expect myself to, but I did.  I think my tears were not because of an emotional attachment to my 14 year old car, Birdie that I have had for 12 years.  Rather, I think my few tears were because I have tried so hard for those twelve years to take good care of her so she will last until, well…it’s our style to run our cars into the ground until they won’t run anymore.  I was doing a great job of this until I was completely startled back to reality while waiting for a light to turn green.
The part that upsets me most is that the difference between the cost of the repairs and the value of the car is only $100.  A hundred dollars!  But the problem is that I can’t take his insurance’s money and buy a car that is in better shape than mine.  I know the entire history of this car and I know it is going to last a few more years without significant problems and to me that is worth more than a new $2,000 vehicle.
So we will chalk it up as blessing in disguise; keep the money and nix the repairs.  After all, it doesn’t look that bad and it still drives perfectly.

And on an unrelated note, my mom is coming to town today!  I foresee a trip to the Austin Farmer’s Market for Fredericksburg peaches and Poteet strawberries, followed by a lesson from my mom on her award winning Poteet Strawberry jam recipe.  If you're lucky I just might post the recipe.  For some eye candy, here are the strawberries I grew last year.  In the words of Rachel Ray, they were de-lish!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Mermaid Chair

I just finished reading it this week.  Have you ever finished a book and been sad that it was over; like saying goodbye to a dear friend?  Well, that wasn’t the case with this book for me.  The first book I read by Sue Monk Kidd was The Secret Life of Bees.  It is and probably will remain one of my all-time favorite books.  For The Mermaid Chair, however, I was actually looking forward to the end and ready to put it down and say goodbye.
Perhaps my dislike of the book came from the fact that I could hardly relate to the main character who was a middle-aged woman who had been in a seemingly perfect marriage for twenty years.  She suddenly found herself dissatisfied and decided to have an affair with a widowed, Benedictine monk, of all people.  I read most of the book with a sickened feeling in my stomach and aches in my chest.  It was not a story that reached into my soul and held me close.
The character I appreciated most was the monk.  He wasn’t afraid to ask those hard questions of God that get stifled in many by some for fear of the “dangers” of doubt.  If “no doubting” were a pre-requisite for belief in God, I would have failed years ago. I resonate often in life with Brother Thomas who,, “felt God the same way the arthritic monks felt rain coming in their joints.  He only felt the hint of him.”
The story did end on a redeeming note for me.  (Slight spoiler ahead if you plan on reading the book.)  There is forgiveness in the end.  It is not an overwhelming, outpouring of love and words like any of us who have ever been on the receiving end of forgiveness might want it to be.  Instead, it was a quiet and steady shedding of grace and mercy.  It was the kind of forgiveness that has to take place again and again and again, day after day.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sustenance in the Garden

Some Sunday mornings I go to church in my garden.  This is generally after a busy weekend when I didn’t get any “down-time”.  I will wake up with an unrelenting craving to get my hands dirty and enjoy a peaceful afternoon in the rich, life-sustaining soil in my backyard.  And so I caved to my craving yesterday morning.
I don’t want this to sound cheesy or trite but I am often amazed at how easy it is for me to “find God” in my garden when it is often so difficult to do so throughout my week or even on a Sunday morning in my own church.  Even just ten minutes on a sun-shiny, breezy day caring for my little green plants with an occasional visit from a cat or two in between bug catching, will speak to my soul and revive me for an extended amount of time.

The only thing missing from my Garden Church is a communal presence.  Sure I have the community of the leaves swaying in the trees, the bees and butterflies visiting my flowers and other bits of life teeming in the garden, but I do miss the communal presence of family and friends.  I need this bit of isolation from time to time, though.  I also enjoy listening to some of my favorite pastors and preachers such as Greg and Julie via podcast so I can be challenge and rejuvenated.
So tell me, where is your favorite place to meet God?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Springtime Parties

The first day of April marks for me, not a time of wild pranks and charades, (though if you ask my parents, I have given them a healthy dose of those in past years,) rather, my husband’s birthday.  Though I love my February birthday, it is often a little too cold to have any kind of outdoor celebration.  Not the case for his!  The weather was just right for me (probably even a little warm for others) to enjoy a lovely cookout with friends.
I started the day off right by licking clean the bowl of Double Chocolate Stout Cake batter from where else but my favorite online cookbook.  This is one of my favorite past-times complete with sitting on the kitchen counter.  It tasted great and then this happened:
I took a shower and Greg pulled his own cake out of the oven for me.  He thought it looked and smelled great but with one look I knew that I blew it.  It was half of the size it should have been in the bunt pan and I instantly knew that I left out the baking soda.  (I knew that of course, because that is not the first time I’ve made this baking mistake.)
It’s a good thing I made some vanilla-banana pudding the night before.  I melded the recipe from More With Less with another not-so-healthy cookbook to come up with a tasty recipe of fluffy vanilla smoothness that melts in your mouth (though with a splash too much vanilla.)
Next Sunday, we are hosting Beer Church in our back yard.  Don’t ask me what this is yet because I haven’t quite figured it out.  Greg has gone once and I’ve met the “pastor” of Beer Church…a very hospitable and nice guy.  So, I think it will be fitting to make the Double Chocolate Stout Cake again to share with the other parishioners of Beer Church, especially since I still have the chocolate chips ready to go in my make-shift double boiler, (a pan within a pan of boiling water) for the ganache.
By the way, I’m calling this a “Double” Chocolate Stout Cake because I always make it with Young’s Double Chocolate Stout beer.  Another variation of this cake are the to-die-for cupcakes.  They are quite labor intensive (I have to set aside several hours to do them well) but are worth every minute.  Mind you, these are adult only cupcakes since the Jamison whisky and Bailey’s Irish crème does not get cooked out of the ganache and icing like the beer does out of the cake batter.

And on a final note, we have not had internet for over a week.  I’ve not stopped writing though!  So as not to overwhelm my readers (are there any more of you out there?) with four posts at once, stay tuned for belated updates.