Inspire. July.

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I’m not feeling particularly inspired this month after last month’s partisan, rogue display by the Supreme Court, so I will leave you with two quotations that I listened to today on Jon Meacham’s podcast, Reflections of History, both by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall:

We must never forget that the only real source of power that we as judges can tap is the respect of the people. We will command that respect only as long as we strive for neutrality. If we are perceived as campaigning for particular policies, as joining with other branches of government in resolving questions not committed to us by the Constitution, we may gain some public acclaim in the short run. In the long run, however, we will cease to be perceived as neutral arbiters, and we will lose that public respect so vital to our function.

Thurgood Marshall, 1981

I do not believe that the meaning of the Constitution was forever ‘fixed’ at the Philadelphia Convention. Nor do I find the wisdom, foresight and sense of justice exhibited by the Framers particularly profound. To the contrary, the government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war and momentous social transformation to attain the system of constitutional government, and its respect for the individual freedoms and human rights, we hold as fundamental today. They could not have imagined, nor would they have accepted, that the document they were drafting would one day be construed by a Supreme Court to which had been appointed a woman and the descendant of an African slave. ‘We the people’ no longer enslave, but the credit does not belong to the Framers. It belongs to those who refused to acquiesce in outdated notions of ‘liberty,’ ‘justice’ and ‘equality,’ and who strived to better them.

Thurgood Marshall, on the Bicentennial of The Constitution, 1987

Friday Food. June.

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My family has made meatballs since I was small-ish. In time, I was expected to mix and cook the meatballs (and meatloaf) which my mother made with jar sauce. It’s okay – we’re not Italian. Her recipe is relatively simple (for either or both although I’ve changed up my meatloaf recipe cooking for my own family).

When I read Stanley Tucci’s 2021 book, Taste, I was a little astonished with how he described his family eating Friday night meatballs (his third favorite meal on Friday). In addition to his spices and bread, typical for his Southern Italian palate, they were rolled in bread crumbs, fried and eaten without sauce. That’s right. NO SAUCE. His family would add a green salad and crusty Italian bread with butter, and that was dinner.

Of course, they made many more meatballs than they needed for that dinner so they had plenty to add to Sunday’s sauce (ragu).

Fried meatballs with salad, no sauce, and Italian bread. Hmm. Okay, I thought to myself (and who else would I think to), maybe we’ll give that a try. And we did. My family wasn’t used to nude meatballs, as Stanley Tucci refers to them in his book, so we added a tiny, just a little bit of sauce for dipping, and they were happy. We’re planning on it again soon,

Our version of Stanley Tucci’s meatballs served with a small slice of leftover baked ziti. Delicious.
(c)2022

Other food things to enjoy:

The Kitchen Survival Guide by Lora Brody. I got this the first year I was married, and it was a lifesaver for someone who was a novice in the kitchen. Now that I’m a bit more advanced, I still use her recipes for perfect white rice, homemade cheesecake, cornbread, and other awesome and easy recipes. Ten out of ten would recommend.

Are You Hungry, Dear?: Life, Laughs, and Lasagna by Doris Roberts with Danelle Morton

And of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend The Fresh Market‘s Big Little Meal. It is a full meal that feeds a family of four for $25. A great deal that we avail ourselves to often.

Friday Food. The Last Soup Delivery.

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Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,

and delight yourselves in rich food.

Isaiah 55:2b (NRSV)

I had a quick Friday Food, and then I went on retreat yesterday. Let me explain about the retreat first and give you some interesting background as we enter into the last days before Holy Week (on the Christian calendar). It was a look at The Last Supper and the day began with Mass where we ate of the Eucharistic bread. Then a look at The Last Supper in each of the four Gospels, how they were similar and not.

We ended with a beautiful lunch of open-faced turkey sandwiches. I only mention this because of the base of bread that held the rest. The songs chosen for the mass were perfect, the homily was perfect, and everything reflected the entire day’s subject. We were fortified in so many ways: intellectually, spiritually, emotionally, and nutritionally. We were a week ahead of Jesus as we shared in the meal with our friends, some of whom we hadn’t seen in the past two pandemic years save for Zoom. In fact, one of the women I encountered I didn’t recognize with her mask on since I’d almost only seen her on the computer!

One of the other huge joys of yesterday was the amount of familiar faces that I did see. Every time I turned in a new direction, I was met with a wave from someone new, and someone I knew, and who I’d known for years, but hadn’t seen in several, again due to the pandemic.

There was also a hug, unexpected but welcome and it lifted me. Such joy shared. When it ended we prolonged it with another deep embrace, and coming so soon after mass, it just set my day in the right direction.
I was open to possibility, to upcoming knowledge and history, and continuing my faith journey, and doing it especially among friends.

All of this occurred one day after my weekly sustenance from our parish soup delivery. Every week during Lent (during the pandemic since before covid we shared a soup meal in the parish hall), my parish has prepared soup and bread and delivered them to parishioners. My son, who recently began to work, looked forward to Wednesday when he came home to a delicious bowl of soup for snack prior to dinner. This week was the last week, and it is what I call a legacy soup.

The woman who created the recipe was a friend of mine and she died last year. At the very beginning of the pandemic, she left a voice mail for me, expressing that Father Jerry asked her to call and to check on our family and see if we needed anything. It was so typical of this woman and my priest, and the entire parish that I belong to. (Our school district did the same thing regarding school lunches and internet access. We are well and truly blessed.)

The soup is similar to chicken noodle but no noodles. It’s been called Mary Lou’s Famous Chicken Pot Pie Soup and it was brought with homemade pie crust crackers. It is the most unexpected taste in a cracker, and eaten with the pot pie soup it is a perfect blend of joy and faith in the mouth. I love that this is the last soup of the season, and as I ate it, I thought of Mary Lou and her always positive greetings and cheer. She was one of the first people I saw in church in that long ago March of 2020, both of us wearing homemade masks (I in my folded bandana) and nodding at each other. It was one of the things that kept me going and kept my faith from deserting me. In fact, it was also my parish that kept my faith from deserting me.

Food is foundational. Before the pandemic, my church had a community Holy Thursday dinner before the Mass. At the Thanksgiving mass, we are given a small loaf of bread to bring our church into our family meal. During the pandemic, we held online cooking classes from a parishioner who is a professional chef. Food is central to our being, and as I’ve found, to the church family.

Food nourishes, and replenishes, and gives us a banquet of sharing with our families, and as the presenter expressed it yesterday, a table of fellowship, spreading our personal news and sharing the Good News.

What also connected it for me, was two of the links she provided as resources that I am excited to share with you:
1. Food and Drink in Luke’s Gospel (website)
2. Eating Your Way Through Luke’s Gospel (book)

As this Holy Week begins, I hope you’ll find friends and family around your table, breaking bread together and remembering the first Eucharist demonstrated by Jesus at The Last Supper.

Lenten Labyrinth – Week 4

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Publishing these in the middle of the next week gives me time to reflect on the week that’s passed, reevaluate my journey and see what changes need to be made in my spiritual life. It’s a when, not an if. There are usually a few. I think I’ve put writing in the center of the labyrinth since even my spirituality involves an excess of writing, but I feel that there must be more that I’m looking for when I get to the center. I may take a walk later this week (or more probably next) at one of our local labyrinths.

I’m also a little stuck on the exercises in Felicia Day’s book Embrace Your Weird. She suggests filming yourself. (Not going to happen.) But I still need to step back and watch myself with new eyes and then answer her questions. This guide is for fostering creativity, but I find that the parts of my life are so interconnected that I can’t help but reflect on my faith and spirit. I’ll pick it back up this afternoon when I get home from my errands. I think I’ll do my daily readings then as well.

I still haven’t been able to answer what it is I’m being called to, although I feel the tugging.

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Friday Food. Lent and Leftovers.

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Friday night Lenten meal.
(c)2022

It’s hard to find food for Fridays in Lent. Our family doesn’t eat fish at all. My son and I will enjoy a fish fry during Lent, but the rest of the family still needs to eat something so we’ll usually go with a pasta or pizza and my son and I will hit the church’s fish fry at least once. Cracker Barrel also at least once.

Last week was an off-pay week, so we were being frugal, and it was leftovers on the menu. The problem for me was that leftovers was pork loin. My daughter didn’t want the pork and decided to make eggs, so I asked her to make some eggs for me. I like my eggs well done scrambled.

She and I divided the leftover over white rice, which I microwaved. I added butter to mine with peas and a couple of leftover packets of duck sauce and then mixed in the hot scrambled eggs.

It was such a simple meal, and it was very satisfying and delicious. I feel like having it again sooner rather than later, although to be honest, tonight will probably be pizza.

What are all of you eating for your Lenten Fridays? And if you’re not observing Lent, what is your favorite simple but delicious go-to meal for a Friday night?

Friday Food – Super Bowl Snacks

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Whether you’re watching the Big Game or the Commercials, a big part of your Super Bowl Sunday afternoon is food. In our family, we always have snacks and appetizers for dinner with the occasional pizza now and then.

Some years we’ve done a nice selection of homemade snacks like pigs in blankets, waffles and chicken, soft pretzels, deep dish loaded mashed potato pizza, and mini cheesecakes.

This year our primary caterer will be Trader Joe’s. The following is our menu for this year’s Super Bowl Sunday.

  • Dill Dip to go along with pretzels, chips, and veggies as well as cheese and crackers. Our favorite veggies are cucumbers, sugar snap peas, raw green beans, baby carrots, grape tomatoes.
  • Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken on toothpicks.
  • Hebrew National Mini Hot Dogs in Blankets with mustard.
  • Pork Gyoza Pot Stickers (from Trader Joe’s)
  • Vegetable and/ or Chicken Tikka Samosas (from Trader Joe’s)
  • Chicken Spring Rolls (from Trader Joe’s)
  • Mini Beef Meatballs in Teriyaki sauce on toothpicks.
  • Cupcakes for dessert.
Super Bowl Sunday Snack Foods. (More pics on Sunday.)
(c)2022

But Me No Buts

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In a Twitter thread unrelated to the books, I was introduced to the Amelia Peabody mystery series through her umbrella and a reference to whacking someone, who shall remain nameless, in the shins with it. This was in 2018 in the middle of July. I immediately checked the first five books out of the e-library and began my adventures. And that was that. No more books were available. And then recently, I was informed that all New York residents were eligible for an e-library card from the New York Public Library. And thus begins a new chapter in my reading material. I discovered to my delight that they had all but one of the books and I was able to read the rest of the twenty book series in a ridiculously short period of time.

And then I read them again.

Since the end of October, I have been in constant touch with Amelia Peabody and her family. I am currently finishing the last in the series (chronologically) for the third time and each reading brings with it notices of new things, new insights, new critical looks: at the Emerson journals, at the time period, at the caste system and bigotry of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

My first read through was in publication order; my second was in chronological order. I read some excerpts from the later books to witness more of Ramses and Nefret’s relationship and in my continuing reading I realized how much I have in common with Amelia, both to my satisfaction and my chagrin.

I wanted to share some of my thoughts today on National Umbrella Day as well as during the month of February when so many things occurred after the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun: the opening of the burial chamber in 1923 (February 16), the raising of the sarcophagus lid in 1924 (Feb. 12), and the suspension of the excavation (for a year) in 1924 as well, returning to work at the end of January of the following year.

National Umbrella Day. Art of Amelia Peabody’s umbrella, open and closed with the background of one of the pyramids of Giza.
(c)2022
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