Grace

When I was in college, I took a philosophy course. One day we talked about what grace is and how it affects our lives. Grace is one of those things that is tricky to define; look it up and you’ll see many meanings for it.

I found these quotes on grace both humbling and wonderful. I hope you do, too.

Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal. It’s a way to live. The law tells me how crooked I am. Grace comes along and straightens me out.”
Dwight Lyman Moody

 Grace is free sovereign favor to the ill-deserving.”     

Benjamin B. Warfield

 The grace of the spirit comes only from heaven, and lights up the whole bodily presence.”      

Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.”
Saint Augustine Of Hippo

Grace is the love that gives, that loves the unlovely and the unlovable.”
Oswald C. Hoffmann

Grace comes into the soul, as the morning sun into the world; first a dawning, then a light; and at last the sun in his full and excellent brightness.  ”

Thomas Adams

The law detects, grace alone conquers sin.”

Saint Augustine Of Hippo

When grace moves in… guilt moves out.”
Max Lucado

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When Did THIS Become OK?

Personally, I’m not a fan of social media. In fact, I have no social media footprint at all. It isn’t because I feel I’m too good to participate; it just doesn’t interest me. I’m not surprised, though, that so many like it and take part in it. To each his own.

There are some websites I really enjoy, such as Etiquette Hell  (check it out at http://www.etiquettehell.com/). It’s sort of a mix of Miss Manners and Dear Abby, focusing on what is or isn’t good manners at this point in our culture. It’s interesting, entertaining, and gives the reader some pretty good guidelines to manners in this day and age.

There are always readers who respond to this or that story, and it’s interesting to see what people have to say about the different stories. Sadly, there are also zillions of Internet trolls who love to post cruel or mean things in response to this or that person.

Here’s the sad outcome: when you hide behind a fictitious name and post something hurtful, accusatory or just plain mean, you get to be a troll with no real name. You can be as awful as you want to be with no apparent consequences. Oh, you can have an online war over it if you like, but it’s hurtful and cowardly—because you’re an anonymous troll.

If someone wants to make an accusation or snarky comment, they should have the guts to put their real name on it and take the heat. It’s bad enough when adults do it, but just imagine how devastating these trollish comments can be to young people who have a hard enough time trying to figure out who they are.

At that tender and vulnerable age, we often feel inadequate, awkward, uncool—plus all the worry and angst that comes with being that young. At that age, many have not found their own authentic selves or their own special “tribe” in which to belong. Hurtful comments are devastating at that age, and the effect can last for years.

It was bad enough in the ’60s when there was no social media, no cell phones, no Internet. Simple word of mouth was bad enough. The slightest adverse comment (spread through the school, naturally) could ruin a reputation in a day. Sadly, those kinds of allegations often stuck for years.

So, now that we have all this access to everyone and everything, look what’s happening. A person no longer needs to be accountable for their nasty and hurtful remarks, false accusations, and so on. Worst of all, pictures taken on a cell phone; say a shy and insecure girl in the gym shower, can be routed instantly to hundreds of cell phones.

We have already seen the devastation that this causes. Many young people have taken their own lives out of shame and hurt. When did this become OK? When did we lose our better angels? Most of all, what happened to the Golden Rule (treat others as you would like to be treated)?

I am not blaming social media per se, I am just stating that it appears to have dulled our consciences, minds and hearts in many ways. I wonder how many kids today have been told by their parents “how would you like it if someone said that to you or someone you loved?”

When did we let this become OK?

 

 

 

The Breakfast Mug

The Crankee Yankee and I have discovered and fallen in love with the Breakfast Mug. What is it? Only the best and easiest to prepare breakfast EVER. Ever since we discovered “mug cakes” (literally, a cake in a mug; just check the net—there are loads of recipes out there, and they are easy-peasy to make), we have kept watch for more food to “mug.”

As the Crankee Yankee gets up far earlier than I do, his standard breakfast “go to” is a tablespoon of peanut butter and a cup of coffee. Not good, especially when he is outside in the cold working in the back yard.

We both love *oatmeal, which is a fabulous way to start your day; it is filling and delicious, and you can add all sorts of healthy items to it. I had heard of “refrigerator oatmeal” and read some of the recipes.

Here’s the one I use, and you can use your own imagination to make different versions of it:

Ingredients:

  • a shallow mug or small plastic container with a lid
  • 1/4 cup of oatmeal (your choice)
  • 1/4 cup of water or milk (we like almond or almond coconut)
  • add a squirt of agave or maple syrup or brown sugar or honey for sweetness
  • add your favorite fruits, nuts, jam, etc.; you don’t need a lot
  • Put the lid on it, and stash it in the refrigerator overnight (or for a few hours)
  • In the morning, remove the lid, put the container into the microwave and bake for about two minutes. Remove and add more milk if you like and enjoy!

Directions:

Stir the ingredients, and now comes the fun part; adding fruit, nuts, peanut butter, etc. Here are a couple of combinations we’ve tried and loved:

The Peanut Butter Bomb

One tablespoon of peanut butter

Half a banana, sliced

Sprinkle of cinnamon

The Decadent Peanut Butter Bomb

One tablespoon of peanut butter

Two small squares of dark chocolate

A small handful of walnuts

The Dried Fruit Delight

2-3 dried apricots, chopped

2-3 dates, chopped

a sprinkle of flax seed

The Fresh Fruit Delight

5-6 fresh raspberries

5-6 fresh blackberries or blueberries

Sprinkle of chopped coconut

You can make up any combination you like. We have been enjoying these every morning and not only are they delicious, but they’re wonderful for you. Best of all, you can prepare them the night before. In the morning, just heat and eat and enjoy your coffee.

This is a great breakfast and easy as can be: in fact, you can be barely awake and still have a great breakfast. Just keep one eye open so you don’t spill your coffee.

*From “Everyday Foods” here are the reasons why oatmeal is so good for you:

  1. Oats contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fibers form a viscous gel that helps to lower cholesterol and stabilize blood glucose levels. The insoluble fiber in oats helps provide a “moving” experience by curtailing constipation and improving intestinal health. What a delicious way to make your heart and colon smile.
  2. Oats make an easy, balanced breakfast. One cup of cooked oatmeal contains about 150 calories, four grams of fiber (about half soluble and half insoluble), and six grams of protein. To boost protein further, my favorite way to eat oatmeal is with a swirl of almond butter nestled within. This powerful combo will keep you away from that mid-morning visit to the vending machine.
  3. Oats provide important mineralsNutrient-rich oatmeal contains thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese, selenium, and iron.
  4. Oats are naturally gluten-free, but check with manufacturers to ensure that their products are not made using the same equipment as other potentially contaminating grains. (Always purchase gluten-free products from reputable companies and read food labels carefully.)
  5. Oats could help you control your weight by keeping you feeling fuller longer. Sadly, carbs are often shunned and feared by those looking to drop a few pounds, yet choosing whole grains could squash hunger and simultaneously provide that pleasant “ahhhh” feeling carb-lovers crave. But, as with any other food, be mindful of portion sizes.

Too Many Green Tomatoes

The Crankee Yankee and I have eight raised bed gardens at the front of our house. This year we had a super-bumper crop of roma and cherry tomatoes, green peppers and garlic along with the other produce. By the end of the summer, I had made tons of tomato sauce, froze dozens of tomatoes and of course we ate as many as we could. The rest we gave away.

But when the tomatoes stopped producing, we still had loads of green tomatoes. What to do with them all? I started looking up recipes for them; coming from a long line of frugal women, it went against my grain not to use them.

I tried a green tomato salsa, which turned out to be “meh.” That went into our compost heap. I made a green tomato pie with lots of cheese, and that was ok. And of course I froze some green tomatoes; I’d hate it if I found the best recipe in the world for green tomatoes and then didn’t have any.

But when in doubt, make soup. Believe it or not, those little green tomatoes are fabulous for soup; who knew? I found the following recipe for curried green tomato soup.

Check it out and try it; honestly, it’s one of the best soups I’ve ever had!

Curried Green Tomato Soup
Adapted from the Boston Cooking School Cook Book, 1948

2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs minced onion
1 tsp curry powder
2 cups green tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper

Melt butter, add onion and cook slowly until soft. Add curry powder and tomatoes and cook until heated thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now here is where the recipe became mine…

*To the tomatoes I added:

5 cups or so of roasted peppers, mostly red but a couple small green, yellow and orange ones
2 cloves of roasted garlic, smashed
1 can of garbanzo beans
Cayenne pepper
Cumin
Coriander

I let this simmer a bit over medium-low heat, then added:

1 cup light coconut milk
More seasoning to taste

Using an immersion blender, I blended the soup until it was smooth but still had nice big pieces of pepper, tomatoes, and whole beans.

It turned out great! The green tomatoes added a nice amount of tartness and surprising crunch. I imagine if you cooked the soup longer than I did (about 15 minutes) the flavors will blend more and the tomatoes might become softer.

*The comments are not mine; but from the one who tinkered with this recipe to make it so delicious. I’m embarrassed not to have found her name; she deserves the credit!

How Lucky Are We?

Many  people will tell you that luck is a myth; that things happen either in our favor or not. Greater minds than mine have discussed this for centuries. I could spend the rest of this post on quoting everyone from Buddha to Einstein on luck, but here is my own take on it.

We make and carry our own luck. Things may go our way today, but not tomorrow. Is it pure chance, coincidence; what? Personally, I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe that things happen for a reason. We may not ever know the reason, but it’s there just the same.

Like most everyone else, I say my prayers, I try to stay positive, I try to look on the good side of things, and so on. When I’m searching for a parking spot on a busy day, I say to myself ‘I always find the best parking space.’ And I do. Call it what you want to, but it works for me.

Oh, I’ve never bought a scratch ticket and won a gozillion dollars, but it could happen. I have occasionally found coins and bills on the ground, and twice, a diamond ring. For those, I went to the nearest store where I found them, and turned them in. I always hoped that the owners came back for them.

Once I found a $70 gift card to Barnes and Nobel in a library book. Now I love books, and I love buying books. However, that gift card had bad karma written all over it. Taking that card and spending money that wasn’t meant to be mine would have had consequences. I took it back to the library, hoping that the owner got it back.

I believe that staying positive is good for having good luck, but I can’t prove it. It’s just one of many happy enigmas life tosses us; so just keep your catcher’s mitt on to land some.

Saved By a Ukulele

Since my dad died this past April, I found I had no interest in playing my ukulele any more. I didn’t feel like making jewelry, either, or reading; two of my other favorite hobbies. Writing was all that remained. We all have different ways of dealing with life-changing events, and I wrote it off as just POP (Part of the Process).

I just couldn’t bring myself to pick up the uke and play. I felt too bad to let myself enjoy the happiness that playing always brings me. I sort of lost myself and that joy since losing Dad.

However, on Thanksgiving day, the Crankee Yankee and I went up to visit his daughter and her family. I especially wanted to spend time with my two granddaughters, Ava (6 years old), and Juliette (19 months old). While dinner was being prepared, my very welcome job was to keep the girls amused.

After Ava demonstrated her impressive gymnastic skills she learned in school, she asked if I would like to hear her read aloud. Would I! She read beautifully and with barely a word she had to sound out. Then she asked me if I would like to hear her play her ukulele. As she played and sang “Hawaiian Flowers” to me, I realized that I was itching to play as well.

After a wonderful dinner, we all got bundled up to go for a walk. We walked down the hill beside the house, and took in the sights. It was a chilly but beautiful day, and we and the three dogs had a great walk.

At one point Juliette put her hand up to me to hold, and we walked along together. As we walked past one of the dogs’ toilet area, Juliette stopped walking. She looked down, then pointed her finger to the ground, looked up at me and said solemnly “poop.” Then we laughed our heads off.

Back in the house, Juliette went upstairs for a nap, the Crankee Yankee and our son-in-law talked politics,  and Ava and I pulled out the Lincoln Logs to build houses. It was a lovely day, and playing with Ava lifted my spirits.

When we got home, put the leftovers away and had a drink, we talked about what a great day it had been. And it was! Somehow I felt lighter, happier, and more hopeful that I’ve felt in a long time.

The next day I took down my ukulele, blew the dust off the case, and opened it. Of course the uke was way out of tune. Once I tuned it up I pulled out my sheet music and began to play. It had been so long since I played that all my finger calluses were gone and I had forgotten most of the chord structures. But I played and sang. I found that I remembered more than I thought I would.

My mind and heart took a tectonic shift, and I am joyful. There always will be ups and downs, but that’s how life is. I feel better than I have been in a long time. And all it took was a little girl and a ukulele.

 

The “Me, Too” Uprising

Personally I am glad to see that women from all walks of life (not just celebs) are coming forward to speak up about the *men who took unwanted liberties with them years ago. This can mean anything from a lewd remark to actual rape. I’m sure that, along with all the truthful allegations, that there are some who just want attention or money for real or imagined pain and suffering.

Unfortunately, there were (and still may be) often unwritten rules in Hollywood; women often had to “go along to get along,” which is a real shame. But I can tell you, as a women who worked with men from the mid-70s to 2013, that there was a lot of bad behavior going on, and no one stopped it. In fact, it was an accepted part of work life. It truly was a big boys’ club.

I and most of my fellow females I worked with endured sickening jokes about women, disgusting conversations fit only for a mens’ locker room, the occasional grope, grab or rub, and so on. It didn’t end there, either. It wasn’t uncommon for a woman to advance a great idea for a product, or process, etc., only to find out days later that her boss had taken all the credit for it. She, of course, got no recognition.

Heaven forbid that a women in the office would cry or complain or just plain stand up to a man about something. That woman would be considered “all emotional, just like a woman,” or labeled a “whiny bitch,” or worse, a “woman who thinks she’s as good as a man.”

As a woman in business during those times, you either learned to ignore it, rise above it, leave the company, or worst of all, become ‘one of the the boys.’ Trying to pretend that the awful things grown men said and did were ok didn’t make things easier; it made things worse.

Back then a man could get away with just about anything. For example: in a company I worked for, a VP and his secretary got caught in a conference room having sex. This happened, believe it or not, on work hours. Guess who got promoted to a better job at a different location to save his reputation, and guess who got fired?

People may ask, “why did these women wait so long to talk about this?” From my perspective and my own experience, here’s why:

  1. The powers that be at the time didn’t consider that any unwanted groping or sleazy talk in front of a woman was a big deal. It was a man’s world, and women just had to suck it up and deal with it, because it wasn’t going to change.
  2. Start complaining, and you would be blackballed and eventually marked for dismissal. Of course, it would be in the guise of the economy slowing down or the company having to cut back because sales were down. Bull! It was always because the woman spoke up and tried to upset the apple cart.
  3. Most men felt that women had no business being in business with men. That was the culture of the time, and had been for years.

Because of my own experience, I get it about not speaking up at the time. It would rarely get you anywhere because it was the culture of the times. We grew up with the old “boys will be boys;” this was how things were.

Granted, we have all come a long way. Attitudes have changed, we are in the PC times and that sort of thing just doesn’t fly anymore. Oh, it still happens, but it’s much more covert than back when I was working.

I understand why so many women are getting on board the “Me, Too” movement now. It isn’t so much about what happened in the past as the anger, frustration and humiliation they/we have lived with for years afterwards. All the therapy and meditation and sedatives in the world can’t take that experience away; it lies deep in the soul.

This current movement is much more about finding peace than anything else. It is transformative when you get to speak up and name the blame. This goes a long way toward healing for good. I personally believe that the “Me, Too” movement is more about finding peace and closure than anything else. When there is finally accountability for what happened years ago, that festering splinter of hurt, humiliation and shame can finally be pulled out for good.

*I understand of course that many men were taken advantage of as well. Being gay does not mean that he or she escapes victimization; sadly, it can happen to anyone.