Another Change

Well, it happened. For the first time since  re-launching this blog, I missed a post. I had committed to posting at least once a month but I missed October. It’s not for the lack of trying. I wrote two pieces but hated one and didn’t finish the other. I sat up Halloween night hiding from the trick-or-treaters while trying to come up with something. Nothing. I closed my laptop and turned on the TV.

I have this problem more autumns than I want to admit. I seem to follow a pattern. The leaves change color and start to fall and I get depressed. Then the temperatures dip and I begin to eat for comfort (and store fat for the winter, I guess). I have trouble writing, which I hate because writing is my real comfort. I swore I was going to resist the pattern this year. I thought I’d stored enough warm sunshine in Tulum in September to see me through. But the empty takeout containers in my recycling bin and the lack of an October post seems to mean it wasn’t enough.

It’ll be ok, I’ll make it through. At this point in my life I’ve learned it’s not either this or that, warmth or cold, light or dark, it’s both. There is beauty in the warm sea tides and the fallen leaves. So, I’ll share with you poems about both. The first is one I wrote which is actually part of a larger work by the same name.

autumn autumn leaves branch color
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Only Things Certain

Dying
green
cascading brown
down

to stream water
wearing still rock.

Degrading
green
turning red
up

reaching, beseeching
to moving sky.

Trees, stream, sky.

Passing out of,
seen
and unseen
beauty

in change
and death.

(©Kat Tennermann2018)

 

And then there’s this one from the beach in Tulum. It’s a Navajo poem courtesy of Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation. I read this out loud every morning.

beach beautiful bridge carribean
Photo by Nextvoyage on Pexels.com

Walk in Beauty

In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again
It has become beauty again.

 

 

Subtitle: Seasonal Affect Disorder in March

Today’s break in this year’s unending winter weather prompted me to take a nature walk.  I wanted to take advantage of this: 

Glenn Carlyn Park today
Glenn Carlyn Park today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before the weather once again turns to this:

My yard last week
My yard last week

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It wasn’t a beautiful day, the sky was milky but it was warm which brought out all manner of creatures;  squirrels, joyriders, walking widows and kids. Lots and lots of kids. There were also lots and lots of birds, mostly robins.  I didn’t need my binoculars to watch them as they were confident enough to hop and peck around the mish-mash of natural material on the ground. Apparently they gathered, discussed and decided we walkers were no threat. I  thought I was there in the park to bird watch but it turned out I was actually there to contemplate, write and look for signs of spring. It appears, we’re not the only creatures sticking our “necks” out on hope and optimism:

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Anyhoo….Today’s weather reminded me of a poem I wrote a few years ago titled:

Spring’s Deception

Do you feel the sun waking warmer in the morning?
It’s gentler when rising every day.
It spends time a little longer now
Chasing the winter blues away.

Did you notice the air has changed its’ smell?
It’s including a trace of the earth.
It’s teasing with that aroma of promise
Suggesting of green and rebirth.

There are days when the chill is obstinate
Then spring’s certainty seems a cold deception.
But March winds will blow the clouds from here
In time for the sun’s scheduled reception.

  

Wrap It Up

webclipart.about.com

NEW YEARS.  It’s the time we use to mark the passing of the old and the beginning of the new. I don’t go in much for traditional rituals so I do my year-end assessment a little differently. First, I don’t think of a year as being “gone”. I like to think I bring every precious, previous minute into the one I’m living right now. In that way time is never “lost”. Secondly, I don’t make resolutions. I feel that’s a sucker’s game and I try not to set myself up for failure. What I like to do instead is reflect on the best lessons I’ve learned in the past year. I have no doubt that the best lesson I learned in 2013 was disciplined anger.

Last August I wrote about a conversation we had in my church group about anger. We were considering whether as Christians we can ever accept anger as justified. It took place a few days before the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and I admit, I had righteous anger on my mind. I was loud and adamant in my opinion. I blogged about it and even made a video to bring home my point. In the post I said, “I think anger and a thirst for justice are at the forefront of movements for equality and non-violence is not so much a belief system as it is a political strategy.” Well, I was wrong. I made a mistake by framing the question in foot-stamping emotional terms. I was childish and churlish. I didn’t take the opportunity to reflect maturely in a deeper spiritual way. Then a wise friend of mine sent me a link (http://www.inc.com/hitendra-wadhwa/great-leadership-how-martin-luther-king-jr-wrestled-with-anger.html) to an article about Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. (Thanks Janie!) Here’s the quote from it that was the eye opener I needed, 

“…the words of another great leader, the one who taught Martin Luther King, Jr. his signature technique of peaceful struggle, Mahatma Gandhi. “I have learnt through bitter experience the one supreme lesson to conserve my anger, and as heat conserved is transmuted into energy, even so our anger controlled can be transmuted into a power that can move the world.”

Wow, “heat conserved, “peaceful struggle”. I guess that’s why Martin Luther King could admit he was angry that his home had been bombed and still move forward; he learned the lesson. How spiritually well grounded does a person have to be to transform anger into a positive power, including the power to understand “the other” and practice courtesy? And how mature does a person have to be to then use that energetic power as a tool for positive action? I had to sit with that and be honest enough to say I was lacking. And I’m still working on it because I realize the lesson doesn’t just apply to social justice. I had to look at the behavior in my personal life and admit I have a pattern of seeing my anger as justified. As we all know, it’s easy to be an ass when you feel righteous. I’m very good at rationalizing my opinion as fact in order to feel superior or feel I have “won”. Even knowing that, I have to remind myself of the power of disciplined anger constantly because I forget so often. (Sorry to the apartment management and the daughter who gave me the gift certificate for Christmas.)

There are other lessons I learned in 2013 but that’s the best one. I’ll take it and the others, along with the cumulative moments of my life gratefully into the time to come. I hope you look at the days past, realize the good and go forward wishing for the best.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Before We Continue……

IMG_2047Brrr…..It’s finally starting to get cold here in Virginia. As happens every year, the increasing cold weather has caused my body to crave food that will bulk me up for the winter. It’s a occurrence that proves my primal link to nature. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Anyway, as a result I’ve been cooking like a fiend and putting up delights for colder days. I froze the last of the season peaches and pears in homemade syrup. And I preserved a wonderful jam thanks to the recipe Marrow (Squash) & Ginger Jam by WordPress blogger Random Thoughts. Since I had some ingredients left over from making the jam, I made some Squash and Apple soup  as well. This time a year I spend lots of time making soup. As is well documented, soup is a soul nurturer and spirit lifter.

I’m not a domestic goddess by any means but I buy into the idea that taking time for the preparation of fresh, basic foods is important for good health. I used to have a Recipe Page on this blog but it got lost in my redesign. I’ve decided that I do want to share some of them, so here are two cold weather recipes from past posts.

Healing Super Broth

This is a recipe is based on one that I first discovered on the CarePages website (I made it for my husband while he was battling cancer.) but I’ve seen variations on other websites including drhyman.com and doctoroz.com. I use it as the base for most of the broth soups I make. You can also drink the broth alone. For every three quarts of water add:
1 large onion
2 chopped carrots
1 cup of winter squash cut into large cubes
1 cup of root vegetables (I use parsnips) for sweetness
2 cups of chopped greens (I use kale, collard greens or chard)
2 celery stalks,
including tops
½ cup of sea weed
½ cup of cabbage
4 ½-inch slices of fresh ginger
2 cloves of whole garlic (not chopped or crushed)
Salt, to taste
Add all the ingredients at once and bring to a low boil (remember that boiling reduces the vitamins) then simmer for approximately 60 minutes. It may take a little longer. Simply continue to simmer to taste. Cool, strain (throw out the cooked vegetables), and store in a large, tightly-sealed glass container in the fridge. Makes: 2 quarts

IMG_1160Butternut Squash and Apple Soup with Pancetta

This is another winter soup recipe to warm the body and soul. I got this recipe from the Hannaford Supermarket flyer 6 or 7 years ago. They billed it as “naturally thick and creamy without the addition of cream or butter.” Let’s face it the pancetta is what gives it the flavor. Bacon (even turkey) will work too but honestly, not as well. The original recipe called for thyme but I use rosemary instead because I think it compliments the pancetta.
1 ½ tbsp olive oil, divided
¼ lb pancetta, sliced
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 lb butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
½ tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary or 2 tsp dried
2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cord and cut into chunks
1 cup Vegetable broth
½ cup water
In a large pot, heat first amount of oil over moderate heat. Add the pancetta and cook about 4 minutes per side until golden brown. Remove and drain on a paper towel. 
Add remaining oil to the pot. Add the onions and cook 8 to 10 minutes over moderate heat until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the squash, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Cook; stirring for 5 minutes. Add the apples, vegetable broth (or chicken), and water, and bring to a boil over high heat. 
Reduce heat to low, and simmer, covered, 15 to 20 minutes, or until squash and apples are tender. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Working in batches, puree the soup until smooth in a blender or food processor. 
Add the mixture back to the pot and bring to a simmer over moderate heat. Crumble the pancetta and add half to the soup; taste for seasoning. 
Serve piping hot with the remaining pancetta sprinkled on top. Serves 6

Bon appetit and stay warm!!

 

Cool Change

IMG_1805Well, fall is officially here. The autumnal equinox occurred just 2 weeks ago and I already miss summer. It could be my imagination but I feel cold. One of the many reasons I moved south is because I like it hot and humid. In the summer, I enjoyed going out for my 8AM morning walks when the temperature was already a steamy 80 degrees. I’d rather sweat than turn on the A/C. Ok, that might have more to do being cheap but when it’s below 70 and the air is dry, my lips get chapped and my hands get ashy. My friends and family in Boston feel differently. They wilt in the heat and perk up on the first crisp morning with a nip in the air. Fellow blogger The Modern Philosopher  lives in Maine and recently described summer and fall the way a typical New Englander does.

There is a lot to like about the fall, though. I do love the autumn foliage, exposed as I was to its glory growing up in New England. The trees here in Virginia turn later than they do in the Boston area. It feels to me as though in New England the change is dramatic but too fast. The trees have started to color here and I’ll grudgingly admit that it is beautiful. It feels as though the slower southern way of life extends to the foliage and I can take it in over a longer period of time. I saw a tree today that was green except for the tippy top, which was bright red. (It reminded me so much of a Dr. Seuss character.) And of course there was the stunning Harvest Moon last month.

Still, I’m slower to wake in the mornings now that the sunrise is later and I experience some anxiety since the sun sets sooner. Did you know Daylight Savings Time ends on November 3rd , darn it? There are days when I ask the migrating birds stopping by my feeder on their way farther south to take me with them. They give me looks of pity with black birdie eyes then fly off without me.  On the other hand, I watch the squirrels pull the acorns from small oak branches and throw the defoliated sticks to the ground. They dash across the streets of my community with stuffed cheeks to hidden homes. Obviously their internal season sensors are telling them there is limited time left to store their supplies for the winter. I’m taking heed and doing the same by making soup and canning vegetables. I appreciate the heads up.img_0344.jpg

So while I feel the pangs of a loss of summer’s delights like long days, dips in blue water and inhaling warm, moist air instead of using my neti pot, I also appreciate the wonder of the change of seasons. I don’t take for granted the blessing of awareness; intellectual, sensory and spiritual, of nature’s cycles being played out miraculously and in living color.

My gratitude goes to Little River Band for the title of this post. I couldn’t think of anything that didn’t sound banal.

Reblogged for:  The Daily Prompt: Mid-Season Replacement, October 11, 2013. 

To Market, to Market……

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Is there any thing better than the fresh produce available at this time of year? I certainly don’t feel there is.

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Going to the farmers market: the colors, smells and interacting with other people. It’s a complete experience for me.

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Preparing the produce is a lesson in mindfulness: slowing down time, listening to the birds while I cut and chop.  I try to really taste the food and appreciate it.

Where I live in the mid Atlantic area of the United States, it seems as though the winter offers only limited agricultural products; apples, oranges and the roots of plants. They are wonderful in their own right, they’re just not my favorites. I gravitate toward the kinds of produce available during the warm seasons. I love the abundance and variety of fruits and vegetables like strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, tender lettuces and lots of fresh herbs. It’s one of the many, many advantages of summer. One of my favorite recipes that uses vegetables available now at  farmers markets is Pasta with Greens and Tomatoes. I’ve added to the Heaven’s menu page.

Happy Summer Solstice!

Pomp and Circumstance

Since it’s graduation season again, I decided to reblog this post from 2011. I still feel the same about them.

Stop Along The Way

Ok, I said I was going to talk about graduations as rituals so here goes. Rituals are very important in most cultures. With all the traditions, trappings, pomp and circumstance, I think we can all agree that graduation ceremonies are rituals. What fascinates me is the current odd mixture of the old school and new school sensibilities.

As I mentioned in the previous post I’ve attended three graduations this season so I’ve had a lot of down time to think. I’m sure that what was once just faculty acknowledgement has now morphed into half hour self-congratulation fests at the beginning of graduation ceremonies. Please give these people their own party! Schedule an event where they can pat each other on the back for all their intellectual achievements without boring the hell out of innocent families.

Counting the three this year, I’ve sat through at least 99 guest speakers. Or maybe…

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Jingle All The Ways???

Sometimes it's hard to stay focused at Christmastime
Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused at Christmastime

It’s a hallmark (pun intended) of this season to say “I can’t believe it’s holiday time again already!” I know it always seems to come around more than once a year to me! Maybe it’s because I’ve gone through a lot of them and I’ve done Christmas (which is my family’s tradition) in every way possible.

It started after I had my first kid and I wanted to teach her the true meaning of the holiday. It was one of the many mistakes I made while child rearing. Anyway, in my search for a way to “authentically” celebrate the holiday I’ve tried a lot of different approaches , the first of which was,

IMG_1096The Purist Way: It involved a real tree with only wooden ornaments and strung berries. I wanted to put candles on it but my husband grumbled something about our homeowners insurance. I wrapped our homemade gifts in brown paper. I insisted that the only bought gifts were given to the poor. My family didn’t see the virtue in this approach, especially my kids who were in elementary school at the time. Everybody ridiculed me for months which prompted me the following year to try,

The All In Way: That was the year I got a six-foot tree and decorated it with so much stuff it took until February 1st to take it down. I also watched as many holiday movies as I could, left my car radio on the all-Christmas-music-all-the-time station, tailored the gifts to the individual recipients and baked like it was my job. Strangely, it was also the year I suffered from a severe feeling of emptiness and had to be prescribed an anti-depressant. My mood was stable but very serious after that which led me the following year to,

The Religious Way: I refused to put up a tree and limited the decorations to an antique crèche on the mantle. I researched the history of all the secular traditions associated with Christmas. I “shared” the information with my family at the annual Christmas breakfast and I admonished them for not keeping to the true spirit. I then led them in a very long prayer while the food got cold. That was the year they banished me to a tray table in the corner and threw my gifts at me.  After that I lost my mind one year and tried,

IMG_1099The Martha Stewart Way: I maxed out a credit card and risked divorce trying to look like someone I’m not.  Now I have pink and purple plaid ornaments and oh so tasteful bows along with a hostess gown, matching apron and oven mitts that are useless. I started an eBay box with them.

There were other years and other approaches; the Give Till it Hurts year, the Who Cares year etc., but now I just go with the flow.  I’m grateful when I get to see another holiday so I try to enjoy them. I’m grateful for the family members still here and I love the excitement in the eyes of the new members who have joined us recently around the tree. I want for nothing and use the last few days leading up to the holiday as an excuse to drink hot chocolate and eat cookies, guilt-free.

So, here are my very best wishes for a very merry Christmas to you and yours if it’s your tradition.  If it’s not, a very happy, blessed New Year.

BTW– There are some gift idea ads I haven’t seen on TV this year. I miss them for their entertainment value and I wonder what happened to them. Where are the ads for; the Ov Glove, Isotoners, Chia Pet and Norelco (with Santa riding the razor)? Have you seen them?

The Power of Love

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

In my post “The Love in Loss” I talked about the power of Love. Because of the time of year, because of the death of my stepdad and because of the shooting in Connecticut last week I’m going to continue to speak to that power.

I actually used the term power of Love because of a great song that’s been one of my favorites for a long time. “I Have Learned to Respect the Power of Love” was a modest hit by Stephanie Mills back in the 1980s.  I think it’s about romantic love but to me, it’s about all Love. From the first time I heard it my heart was touched in a “feeling the Holy Ghost” kind of way. I missed my highway exit once while I was sing along to it.  Every time I listen to it I want to testify.  These are the lyrics to the first part of the song:

I was a victim of my foolish thinking
Carelessly I’ve risked my love and my life
There’s no self-pity I admit I obliged
Overpowered by love I pretended to be blind

Faith has survived all the doubts I’ve summoned
My heart has stood all the failure and loss
Helpless I cannot further be driven

I’ve learned to respect
The power love…….

How beautiful is that? Say Amen?  I absolutely relate to the foolish thinking that leads to careless risk part. That could be the title of the first half of my life. But then I was thinking about the idea of being overpowered by Love. I feel like the Love we need to pay attention to and live by can be overwhelming. I’ve talked in this blog about how I can’t show as much compassion as I’d like. I think it’s because there’s too much negativity inside of me to get over in order to be that compassionate. I guess I feel like my love can’t outmatch my negativity. But I’ve come to realize that my love with a little “l” can’t. It’s only when I participate in the larger Love with the big “L” that it’ll work. And that participation takes getting over the petty sense of myself. That’s the part that’s overwhelming.

I thought about that this week in terms of the shooting of those babies at the elementary school. Like everyone else I was blindsided by how terrible an act it was. How do the parents, the community and the nation get over that much horror? Then I saw the footage of the prayer services held that night. The collective prayers sent up demonstrate the power of Love. They provide the pathway to the Love that can overpower that kind of hate.  Witnessing all those people earnestly praying for the comforting of others (for a lot of them, others they don’t know) was so encouraging to me.  Those people in that moment put themselves aside to give Love through prayer. I know the effect that kind of positive energy can have because I’ve felt it in my own life.

Just as the lyrics say, our hearts can stand all the failure and loss if we have faith in Love, even when we feel as helpless as we did this week. It can survive all the doubts we have about ourselves, about others and about the condition of the world we live in. It’s hard to hold on to though, when it feels like our daily lives are filled with nothing but failure and loss. But there have been so many good and spiritually blessed folks who have come along to remind us of the truth of the power of Love. Mother Theresa and the Dalai Lama come to my mind immediately. Who just came to yours? And for those of us who celebrate Christmas, Jesus of Nazareth is supposed to be the number one bearer of that exact message.

So since it’s the season we’re supposed to be thinking about it and because we really need it at this challenging time, let’s sing along with Stephanie; “I’ve learned to respect the power of Love, (Yes I did!)”

You can read all the lyrics to the song at this web address. http://lyrics.wikia.com/Stephanie_Mills:I’ve_Learned_To_Respect_The_Power_Of_Love I couldn’t find a video of Stephanie Mills singing it but here’s a YouTube link of the recording. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDkCSf6cRRY.

I’m grateful there are words in the form of lyrics, poems, and psalms, et al that can express what I feel in my heart. Amen.

By The Way

Holiday food. Yum!
Holiday food. Yum!

I didn’t want the month to end without adding to the recipe page, so please head on over to Heaven’s Menu for my seasonal selections of Mince Meat Balls and Pumpkin Mousse. I hope you can use and enjoy them.

Full Moon over Virginia
Full Moon over Virginia

If you’ve read this blog in the past you know I have what I call “moon mania”. Did you see the full moon the other night? As usual, it was both breathtaking and beautiful. (It helped a lot in my reflection on the nature of life as I processed my stepdad’s passing.) It was an unusual full moon in that it was the smallest full moon of the year and Jupiter could be seen just to the left of it. (Star of wonder!) There are some beautiful pictures of it at earthsky.org. Here is the link: http://earthsky.org/space/photos-from-friends-jupiter-and-moon-awesome-in-late-november-2012

I’m off to Boston for the funeral. I hope your weekend is one with peace and love.