Wednesday, November 30, 2016

A Little Pot, A Brave New World

Sometimes revolutions sneak up on you.
You'd think that something as life-changing as a revolution would announce itself, like Donald Trump at the White House, but sometimes these things creep in on little mouse feet.

Take the Instant Pot revolution for instance.

I was only slightly aware of this way of cooking because a friend gave me an electric pressure cooker a while back, and I found out that it was pretty great for rice or potatoes. So I used it a few times, if only just to prove my culinary mettle, and that I had enough courage to stay in the same room with the spitting, puffing devil. My mom had put the fear of all things pressure cooking into us when we were kids.
 "Don't even come into the kitchen! These things can blow up and kill people! It's happened!"
I'm not sure how she knew that it had happened, because it never happened to anyone we knew and the internet was years away. Urban legends had to be handed down personally back then.

Sometime around September, some of my Facebook friends started posting questions about this new wonder; the Instant Pot.
"What is this dark magic?", I wondered.
It was one of those times when I felt like I had come late to the party and everyone there had already met the guest of honor and was on a first-name basis. One of my friends asked a question, and the replies came pouring in, and I had to google to know what was going on. So...the Instant Pot. I was intrigued. Mostly pressure cooker, partly steamer and fry pan, with a few special features that nobody needs. I already have all of those things, so I figured this was an expensive flash-in-the-pan, so to speak, and put it out of my mind. And it was expensive, very, still it kept coming up in conversations all over social media.

October arrived bringing the season of beef stew and soups, and my attention was pulled back to the great idea of something that could allow me to have the attention span of my Golden Retriever, because I never have anything thawed by 4:30, and yet enable me to get a wonderful home cooked meal on the table by 5:30.  I started paying attention. It seems everyone was paying attention. All of a sudden Amazon was putting Instant Pots everywhere I went online. A few people I know already had them, and it seemed like they were very happy. Well, anyway, I couldn't see paying 89.99 for something that was really a want, but not a need. I joined the Instant Pot community on Facebook. It couldn't hurt to watch the videos and read the recipes. It wasn't like I was actually going to become one of THEM.

Then Black Friday happened, and the revolution knocked on my door.
$59.99 on Amazon.
One per customer.
Join us, and live in a brand new Instant Pot world.

 I asked Tim. I began to repeat all the propaganda that I had been reading. I told him about saving money, electricity, saving the environment, cheesecake. I had him at cheesecake. So I clicked. It went into my cart and as I went to checkout I thought about how I could still go back. I could stop now and no one would ever know. I looked at the picture, I read the reviews, again, and I took that final step.
As soon as I did I knew that I had made the right decision.

 I wanted to share this with someone. I thought of Laura and how good this would be for her. All those kids eating wholesome food, cooked in minutes, saving the environment. So I tried to buy another one. One per customer the site said. How could we get around that? Another account? Have someone else buy it? This price wouldn't last and they would all be gone!! I looked around the internet wildly. There, on the Walmart page, I found them, at the same price. I ordered quickly and was able to purchase one for her. Nina had already told me that she didn't want one, but these things happen in families. Often times a family has to deal with the fact that one of their loved ones refuses to embrace the way of the future.

That evening I looked once more at the email from Amazon saying that my order was processing. I went over to the Instant Pot community page, and while it wasn't actually in my possession yet, I was able to announce that I had taken that crucial step and I now belonged.
When it shipped, I counted myself among the lucky ones who had a pot on the way, because several people were informed that their shipments had been delayed. I grieved with them.

When it arrived, there was no question that it was to be given prime real estate in the pantry. Other small appliances have been moved, like Woody to the toybox. I got it out, did the "water test" which everyone says is mandatory, and decided to take my first step up the learning curve with hardboiled eggs, which I was assured would be so much more perfect than anything ever boiled in a pan on the stove. They'd better be. They were pretty awesome. But they certainly aren't cheesecake.

I have now thrown myself wholeheartedly into the movement. I am learning how to use the different features, I know all about high pressure and low pressure and the timing functions. I have made a couple of amazing meals and I am well on the way to being fully integrated.
I think I may be saving electricity, I will be saving money as soon as I purchase that springform pan and a couple of accessories, and the environment is probably fine.
What's important is cheescake.

Join the revolution. You know you want to.


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Lessons Learned

I guess if you have a blog you kind of have to blog about the things that happen in life that shake you.
We had one of those this past Friday, and I am still trying to process what happened and put it into the proper perspective.

The day started out great. We had been at dress rehearsal late on Thursday night for Paul's play, "Lost In Yonkers" and so Henry spent the night.

It was a beautiful day so the boys walked to co-op and I drove all the stuff down, and then when it was time to go home, the boys had a couple of friends, Will and Frank, and Henry again, that were going to come home with us and attend the play later. Since the weather was still really nice, they all decided to walk home. I took the car and came home ahead of them.

It usually takes about twenty minutes to walk from the Boys and Girls Club, so I started watching for them when I figured they should be showing up. I looked up the road and I saw them walking down the hill and into the driveway, and a small blue car pulled up and stopped at the end of the driveway. A young woman got out, yelling at the boys and came up the driveway. She was really upset, and I couldn't understand what she was saying, so I went outside to see what the problem was.

She was telling them off, and John was trying to explain while also fending off her accusations. She wasn't making any sense, and so I told everyone to just be quiet so that I could try to understand what was happening. She said that they had called her a name and that it was a racial slur. I was shocked because one thing I know about these boys is that none of them has a racist bone in his body.
She said that they had called her Anime.
I was trying to process that and asked John to explain. He said that Paul had been goofing around and had been asking the people in their cars as they drove by "Do you like anime?" I only have ever heard the word anime associated with the Japanese art form that is frequently found in graphic novels. I have never heard of any word even close to that being used as a racial slur, and I told the woman that.  I told her what anime is and that I couldn't understand how it could be offensive. I also said that maybe where she comes from it has a different meaning but how could we know that? John was trying to explain what had happened and she was just getting more and more upset.
I sent the other boys inside and John stayed out in front with me to try to help get to an understanding but it was like we were speaking a different language than she was and she just couldn't calm down.
I told her that I was sorry for her misunderstanding, but that was what it was, a misunderstanding.
She stomped back to her car. We came in the house and locked the door because she had sounded threatening as she left.
I asked John for the rest of the story after we got inside. He said that after Paul had called out to her car she had turned it around and come back up the road and yelled "Who the F*^# is anime?"
John told her what they had actually said,  she went off and started cursing, using extremely foul language and calling them names.
They tried to just keep walking, but she kept her car next to them and just kept spewing her anger.
At one point she got out of the car. John told her to go away and stop harassing them or he was going to call the police.

After we went in the house, John told me the rest of the things that she had said and how threatened they had felt. He went downstairs and immediately started writing up the story, and we had all the boys read it and sign it.
John then called the police and they told him that the woman had called and they were talking to her and would come up to our house after.
When the officer got here, we went out and introduced ourselves and John gave him the written account.
The officer said that she was visibly shaken and that she said that they had also said something about Donald Trump. The boys said nothing of the sort, and I am still stunned by that.
The officer also said that she had to file the report for work, as she was on the job when the incident occurred. I guess she figured that we were going to call the police and that she had better file her report or lose her job.

The whole thing was really unsettling and disturbing and something that I had never expected in our little town. Sure, Paul was being silly and acting like a kid, but he had been saying that to all the cars as they drove by.

John's question to me later was "Why are they so mean?"

The anger and bitterness was the thing that was the most distressing.
So much hatred that she didn't even want an explanation, she just wanted to believe that the boys were a bunch of racists and that she had been the victim.
I don't see the boys as victims, but I do wish that they hadn't had to experience that kind of anger aimed at them just because someone needs a target.

This has been a lesson to all of us. I don't feel sorry for her. I don't feel like the boys owe anyone an apology. We tried to give an explanation, and if she had stopped for a minute, she would have seen that it made sense. What I feel is still being processed. I am praying that this was a one time unfortunate incident, and I am praying that this woman can see that wallowing in bitterness only makes the bitter person unhappier.

Lessos Learned

I guess if you have a blog you kind of have to blog about the things that happen in life that shake you.
We had one of those this past Friday, and I am still trying to process what happened and put it into the proper perspective.

The day started out great. We had been at dress rehearsal late on Thursday night for Paul's play, "Lost In Yonkers" and so Henry spent the night.

It was a beautiful day so the boys walked to co-op and I drove all the stuff down, and then when it was time to go home, the boys had a couple of friends, Will and Frank, and Henry again, that were going to come home with us and attend the play later. Since the weather was still really nice, they all decided to walk home. I took the car and came home ahead of them.

It usually takes about twenty minutes to walk from the Boys and Girls Club, so I started watching for them when I figured they should be showing up. I looked up the road and I saw them walking down the hill and into the driveway, and a small blue car pulled up and stopped at the end of the driveway. A young woman got out, yelling at the boys and came up the driveway. She was really upset, and I couldn't understand what she was saying, so I went outside to see what the problem was.

She was telling them off, and John was trying to explain while also fending off her accusations. She wasn't making any sense, and so I told everyone to just be quiet so that I could try to understand what was happening. She said that they had called her a name and that it was a racial slur. I was shocked because one thing I know about these boys is that none of them has a racist bone in his body.
She said that they had called her Anime.
I was trying to process that and asked John to explain. He said that Paul had been goofing around and had been asking the people in their cars as they drove by "Do you like anime?" I only have ever heard the word anime associated with the Japanese art form that is frequently found in graphic novels. I have never heard of any word even close to that being used as a racial slur, and I told the woman that.  I told her what anime is and that I couldn't understand how it could be offensive. I also said that maybe where she comes from it has a different meaning but how could we know that? John was trying to explain what had happened and she was just getting more and more upset.
I sent the other boys inside and John stayed out in front with me to try to help get to an understanding but it was like we were speaking a different language than she was and she just couldn't calm down.
I told her that I was sorry for her misunderstanding, but that was what it was, a misunderstanding.
She stomped back to her car. We came in the house and locked the door because she had sounded threatening as she left.
I asked John for the rest of the story after we got inside. He said that after Paul had called out to her car she had turned it around and come back up the road and yelled "Who the F*^# is anime?"
John told her what they had actually said,  she went off and started cursing, using extremely foul language and calling them names.
They tried to just keep walking, but she kept her car next to them and just kept spewing her anger.
At one point she got out of the car. John told her to go away and stop harassing them or he was going to call the police.

After we went in the house, John told me the rest of the things that she had said and how threatened they had felt. He went downstairs and immediately started writing up the story, and we had all the boys read it and sign it.
John then called the police and they told him that the woman had called and they were talking to her and would come up to our house after.
When the officer got here, we went out and introduced ourselves and John gave him the written account.
The officer said that she was visibly shaken and that she said that they had also said something about Donald Trump. The boys said nothing of the sort, and I am still stunned by that.
The officer also said that she had to file the report for work, as she was on the job when the incident occurred. I guess she figured that we were going to call the police and that she had better file her report or lose her job.

The whole thing was really unsettling and disturbing and something that I had never expected in our little town. Sure, Paul was being silly and acting like a kid, but he had been saying that to all the cars as they drove by.

John's question to me later was "Why are they so mean?"

The anger and bitterness was the thing that was the most distressing.
So much hatred that she didn't even want an explanation, she just wanted to believe that the boys were a bunch of racists and that she had been the victim.
I don't see the boys as victims, but I do wish that they hadn't had to experience that kind of anger aimed at them just because someone needs a target.

This has been a lesson to all of us. I don't feel sorry for her. I don't feel like the boys owe anyone an apology. We tried to give an explanation, and if she had stopped for a minute, she would have seen that it made sense. What I feel is still being processed. I am praying that this was a one time unfortunate incident, and I am praying that this woman can see that wallowing in bitterness only makes the bitter person unhappier.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Amazing Grace



Today I am so thankful that God is a Merciful Father that loves us wherever we are. We are all prodigals. If we were "good", like the older son in the parable, we would not be able to appreciate the incredible love that our Father has for us. In His mercy, he longs for us when we leave Him and he still loves and protects us, even as we wander and squander His gifts. As we find our way back, He meets us with joy, not waiting for us to come up to the house, but running down the road and pulling us into an embrace.
He does this over and over.

The power of His Mercy, if we receive it with open hearts and allow it to work in us, begins to sculpt the rough edges and sharp corners of our hearts, as surely as an artist takes a rough stone and cuts and shapes it into something beautiful. We are changed by mercy. We become new every time we ask Him to forgive us and receive His sacramental grace. We are strengthened and lifted.

It isn't easy, and it isn't natural to see ourselves the way He sees us. Some of us are too prideful to go to Him, because it means letting go of our old way of life. Some of us are afraid of the changes that we will have to make and afraid that we will fall again (we will). Some of us feel like we are so unworthy that we can't even ask for forgiveness. Yes, we are all unworthy. There is nothing we can ever do to be good enough to be called children of God, and still He calls us. We will fall and fail, we will crawl back to the foot of the cross and beg for His forgiveness, and He will meet us and embrace us and rejoice with us every time.

We can separate ourselves from doing His will. We can refuse to live in the light. We can, through fear or stubbornness, refuse to turn back to Him. We cannot, however, keep him from loving us. He will love us and wait for us until we take our last breath.

He wants more than anything to be a part of every day and every moment. He wants to show us how beautiful life can be.

Romans 8:38-39

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Happy Feast Day Papa!

Today is the feast of our dear St Pope John Paul II, or as I frequently refer to him, our dear Papa.
He is such a central figure in my life, and always has been, even when I don't recognize it.

The theme of Mercy has been resonating so constantly in my life lately, and this was something that our dear Papa taught us throughout his time with us. Being at the foot of the Cross in Confession this afternoon, and knowing that the flood of Christ's Grace and Mercy was right there for me in the Sacrament, I am strengthened and encouraged to go out and conquer those stumbling blocks. Get up again, and try to walk in the way of Christ.

The gift of Mercy should flow from Christ, through us, and to others. One of my frequent failings is in letting the Mercy stop with me. I have to learn to be Merciful. I know Jesus will help and I have the many writings of my dear Papa to go to for encouragement.

God never gives up on us. I am the least deserving, but I pray that He will keep working on the rough edges to make me a work of His loving hands.


Monday, October 10, 2016

Right Now

Right now I am supposed to be blogging for my job. I am supposed to be coming up with some content on Downsizing. I am supposed to inspire, and motivate and promote and inform. Right now I just don't have the mental discipline. Right now I want to take the dog for a walk and pray the Rosary. I think that would be much more inspiring, motivational and productive.
I just don't have any ideas and I am drawing a complete blank. If I were actually in the home of a client, and we were discussing an upcoming move that was going to require a serious attempt at downsizing, I would know just what to do. I would make lists and we would set goals and I would share resources. We would walk through the house and discuss the size of the new home and the amount of stuff in the old one. We would talk about what needs to be distributed to family, what to do with what they don't want, who to contact to sell valuable goods and how much stuff is just trash.
I would have ideas, because I would have to have ideas. I have no ideas because I have no one to look at and share them with. So, I think I am going to take the dog for a walk and say the Rosary. Maybe Mary has some ideas about downsizing. I know she had to move a few times. Maybe that's not what she will tell me at all, but it will be what I need, I know that.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Miracles and Mercy

Fr Henry said something the other day that really went to my heart. He said that when we are in the Confessional we are at the foot of the Cross and The Lord can pour His Mercy down on us. He loves that we come to Him in our sin so that He can give us the Grace of His Mercy. When we make going to Confession about us, it's a pride thing. It's a kind of vanity to think that our sins are so special that we should dread going to Him and His Love. When we make it about God and the Miracle of His Mercy, we run to the foot of the Cross, and we can't be there often enough. We are embraced by the God who made us.