life

Saved by Insanity

My first husband was really into cars.  That year we had a t-top firebird, which was not all that suitable for winters in Michigan.  So during the icy months I drove Trooper – a retired state trooper car which had been painted orange.

I was a social worker in Detroit and my job took me into some neighborhoods.  Into some neighborhoods. One dark-by-five-o’clock winter evening I was heading home from work when Trooper’s steering went out.  I pulled into a gas station and called my husband.  He told me to sit tight until he could get there.

So I sat in the gas station, alert to my surroundings, and waited.  It wasn’t the kind of place where you could play 2048 on your cell phone to kill the time.  Too dangerous to let yourself be distracted.  Plus, cell phones were only phones back then.

Scanning my surroundings I saw someone approach.  He began circling me and licking his lips, like I was some sort of tasty treat.  I had to think fast.

I pulled a small Bible from my purse and started reading it – aloud – in as crazy a manner as I could muster.

(1 Samuel 21:12-15 and Psalm 34, for those who don’t know…)

It worked. The potential perp decided I wasn’t worth it.

Saved by a double-edged sword.  And feigned insanity.

Today is the hub’s birthday so I’m off to the store.  He wants pot roast.

Oh, and sorry for mucking up your reader with two posts in one day, but I just felt like responding to the daily prompt.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Saved by the Bell.”

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life

What’s With the Hit & Run?

You know, the comment that consists of a link and little or nothing else.

Near as I can figure it’s one of three (possibly four) things.  One is excusable, the others are not:

Rookie Mistake:  You’re new to blogging and you’re eager to let people know you’re out there.  You haven’t yet figured out that there are ZILLIONS of people out there.  And some, if not most, are more interesting than you. (Sorry to say.) So simmer down.

I cringe to admit it, but I did it, too. However, if you’ve been blogging more than a month, it’s no longer a rookie mistake, it’s one or more of these:

Shameless Self-Promotion:   Which I read as, “I’m really not interested in what you had to say, but LOOKY at me.”

Sorry, no.  You haven’t given me any reason to looky at you.  Link deleted.

Arrogance:  Which I read as, “I read your post, now go read the master.”

Sorry, but heck no.  Talk to me, not at me.  Link deleted.

Laziness:  “I have something to say about that, too, but I’m too lazy to actually converse with you so just go read my post.”

Sorry, no.  Link deleted.  If you want me to read your post, you have to at least tell me (and the other readers) why you want me (us) to read it, what it has to do with my post, etc.

I violated my “never include a link in your comments unless it is to a blogging friend” rule the other day.  I shouldn’t have.  I thought the blogger might be interested in another perspective on what she posted but it would have been SO MUCH BETTER and less obnoxious if I had just told her what I liked about her post and then said, “I recently posted on that topic, too, but from a different perspective.”  Then, IF she was interested in reading my perspective, she could ASK for the link.

It’s so much better and more polite to wait for the person to ask.

I hope I don’t sound harsh, but the daily prompt asked about online communication so I thought I’d take the opportunity to get this off my chest.  I hope I don’t scare any commenters off because I do love commenters and their comments.  I just don’t get the hit and run.  Anyone want to join the gripefest?  Or perhaps enlighten me?  Or perhaps repent?

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life

Blessed Geography

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The thornless, climbing roses that adorn my arbor did not bloom last summer.  Neither did the oakleaf hydrangeas.  I blame the preceding winter’s brutally cold temperatures.   We are coming to the end of another brutal winter and I’ve been wondering whether my roses and hydrangeas will bloom this summer.  And whether my garlic survived under a blanket of 6 inches of straw and three feet of snow.  I wonder how many brown hedges my dogs and I will see as we walk through the neighborhood.

But I won’t complain.

I won’t complain because cold winters keep the bugs at bay.

When my newlywed dad was stationed in Texas, he and my mom would go for walks in the evening.  Once they encountered a cliff that seemed to be moving.  Upon closer inspection they discovered that is was covered with scorpions!  Too cold for those here.

The hub and I rented a house in Florida one week.  It was the first time I had ever seen a cockroach.  Two, actually.  They were in the bathroom and they were HUGE!  Apparently they grow big in Florida. They don’t grow big here.   It’s too cold.

The third sentence of the third post on my reader this morning read, “I worked among roaches, too.”

I haven’t lived or worked among roaches that I know of and thank God.  Though I’m sure I’d get used to them.  I’m sure I’d get used to them and say, “At least it’s warm here.”

Betsy ten Boom thanked God for the maggots that infested her bunkhouse because the guards were so grossed out by them that they rarely came inside.  Which allowed her to conduct a Bible study undetected.  Now that’s looking on the bright side.

When my daughter was little she came to me one day all concerned about hurricanes.  She must have seen something on tv.  I assured her that we don’t have hurricanes where we live, you have to be near an ocean.

She thought for a minute and then asked about snakes.  I told her we have garden snakes but we don’t have any of the poisonous kinds.

She asked about earthquakes.  Nope, not here.

She went merrily back to her play, thanking God we live in Michigan.

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Third From the Top.”

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Light

L7

“Pollyanna!,” she spat with sisterly disdain.

But I took it as a compliment.  Every single time she said it.  Because I liked seeing the good in people, in situations and in life.  It beat the heck out of being miserable her.

“You’re not funky enough,”  he said matter-of-factly.

Funky is highly overrated. But I already told you that story.

“It’s easy to embrace heaven and goodness in a safe protected privileged bubble,”  he jabbed.

I found it ironic.   Because not too long ago he told me about a time when he almost drowned.  He was under water in a protected bubble for quite some time.  And he liked it there.  He didn’t want to leave.  But a voice told him to swim toward the light so he did.

So why insist that I leave my protected bubble? Is it just a matter of misery loving company?  “Join the f*ing human race,” he wrote.  Why on earth?

God placed Adam and Eve in a protected bubble.  It was called the Garden of Eden.  To be accurate, the garden was not the bubble – there was danger lurking there – the bubble was the protective warning God gave them.  The one thing He did not want us to have was a knowledge of good and evil.  But Adam and Eve insisted upon it and look what it got them.  Look what it got us.

Immediately after gaining carnal knowledge, Scripture says they were afraid.  An emotion I am guessing they had never experienced before.

Jabber cursed that I am not and never will be an effective counselor because I will not climb down into the pit and embrace the dark side.  I have three things to say about that:

#1  I am not a counselor or therapist.  I’m a wife, mom, and speaker.  And I invite people on retreats now and then to listen to their stories.  Even if I were a professional counselor, I don’t believe climbing into a dark pit would help anyone.  Which leads me to

#2  When I used to lead women (and sometimes men) through post-abortion Bible studies, from time to time someone would ask, “How can you lead these studies since you’ve never had an abortion?”  Usually it was asked in an angry manner by a participant who was going through a rough patch on the road to recovery.  Here’s what I would tell her:  Jesus hasn’t had an abortion either and He’s the One who heals you.

#3  We’ve all heard that FBI agents (or whoever deals in counterfeit $) don’t study counterfeit bills in order to catch counterfeits.  They study the real thing.  Because when you know the real thing inside and out, you can easily spot what is not.

I received a lot of praise and attention from teachers for being smart, for quickly understanding things.  Being smart became a big part of my identity.  Back then, if someone would have insinuated that my understanding and effectiveness were deficient because I hadn’t descended into some dark pit, I might have been tempted to go there just to prove something.  But I have nothing to prove.  My identity isn’t wrapped up in being smart anymore, and I know that going deep does not mean going down into a pit.  It means looking up to heaven, seeing what healthy looks like and aiming myself and others in that direction.

If having a knowledge of good and evil were so stinking important, then God would not have warned against it.

So to that sister who tried to shame me into the pit by saying that I was not as savvy and sophisticated as she was, I say “scram.”  And to the boyfriend who invited me into the pit by implying I’d be more interesting, I say “beat it.  I’ve seen it for what it is.”  And to those wolves in sheep’s clothing playing their sick game, I say “get behind me satan.  Luring me into the pit by insisting I’d be more spiritually complete, further along in my walk with the Lord and more like God may have worked with A & E but it didn’t work with me.”

Call me Pollyanna, call me not funky enough, call me not spiritual enough.  Just don’t call me late for dinner.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness
shall follow me all the days of my life.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever and ever and ever.

© 2015, The Reluctant Baptist

 In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Weaving the Threads.”

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Food, life

I Love a Good Cookbook

I would choose Nora Ephron to write my biography.  I’ve said it before on this blog, but when she weaved recipes into Heartburn it gave me a literary thrill.

I made a killer chili when I was a kid.  So if Nora were to tell you about the year my parents divorced and how I used to run home after school, make dinner for my younger sisters, and then run back to school in time for track practice, I am positive she would include my chili recipe.

And because it was such a big, special event, I am sure she would tell you about the retreat I planned for a group of college kids.  I wore a lot of hats at that retreat: planner, organizer, speaker, and head chef.  For Saturday’s lunch I served my version of a fatoush.  As we ate one of my guests – a young woman from Tennessee – excitedly exclaimed, “I have never had food like this before!”  She grew up on biscuits and gravy and other Southern specialties.  After she returned home she e-mailed me for the recipe.

I’m thinking Nora would include that one, too.

And so will I:

Grilled Chicken Fatoush

dressing/marinade:
⅓ cup olive oil
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. dried greek oregano (or 2 Tbsp. minced fresh)
salt and pepper to taste

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I buy cutlets because they grill faster).

salad:
English cucumber, sliced into thin half moons
Campari tomatoes – cut however you like them
big bunch of fresh parsley, rough chopped
pitted kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
red onion sliced super thin
romaine lettuce, chopped
fresh dill, chopped (optional – if it’s summer and your garden is producing)
fresh mint, chopped (optional – if it’s summer and your garden is producing)
LOTS of feta cheese, crumbled
a pinch of ground sumac berries (optional – the kind you buy at the spice store, not the poisonous sumac berries that grow in your yard)

garnish:
pita chips (recipe follows)

Whisk together the dressing ingredients until they are emulsified. It should make about ⅔ cup. Reserve ⅓ cup of it to dress the salad, and pour the rest into a ziplock bag with the chicken. Put the chicken in the fridge and let it marinate for 30 minutes (longer is better but not too long or the texture of the chicken will get a bit mealy).

Combine the salad ingredients – use whatever quantities you like.

Preheat your grill to high. Grill the chicken until thoroughly cooked – about 3-4 minutes per side if you use cutlets. Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.

To serve:

Toss the salad with the dressing. Toss in the pita chips (right before serving so they don’t get soggy.) Pile salad on each plate, lay slices of grilled chicken on top.

pita chips:
2 or 3 of the large, thin pitas
olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400.

Cut or tear the pita bread into small pieces.

Throw it in a large salad bowl. Toss in the minced garlic. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss thoroughly with clean hands.

Spread in single layer on a large cookie sheet.

Bake on second rung of oven until toasted, 7 -10 minutes in my oven.

Use the same large bowl to make the salad so the little bits of garlic that cling to the bowl don’t go to waste.

Note: If it’s too stinkin’ cold to grill, sear the chicken on the stove in a cast iron pan (grill pan if possible) and then finish it in the oven as soon as you pull the pita chips out.

Bon Apetit!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Ghostwriter.”

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life

Let the Blogger Beware

Today’s daily prompt asked What’s the most surreal experience you’ve ever had?  

Well, it was just this week as a matter of fact.  When I first started blogging I went to the WordPress support page and asked:

Can I edit/remove comments I left on someone else’s blog?

The answer was “No. It is not possible to edit or delete any comments you have left on other WordPress.com blogs.”

Yikes!, I thought, Maybe I shouldn’t leave any more comments.  (I was already feeling commenter’s remorse for my first lame attempt.)

But the paragraph went on:

“Blog owners are in full control of the comments on their blogs, so you can try contacting the blog owner and ask them to edit or delete a comment for you.”

Oh good, I thought, people are reasonable, I’m sure they’ll honor my request.

Well, I won’t go into the unfortunate details, but this week I discovered that people are not always reasonable.

So, fellow bloggers, beware.  Actually, fellow commenters beware.

And just FYI:  I made a couple of my recent posts private today because they were reblogged on a site with surreal comments attached and it felt like harassment.  I might make them public again in the future, though, because some of you shared really good, interesting and delightful remarks.

Onward.

“Whoa!.”

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life

I Hope I’m Going to Be Okay

Rhonda Fleming Hayes, Creative commons

Rhonda Fleming Hayes, Creative commons

I was going to tell you about my olfactory hallucination.  The other night, after I had spent all day roasting squash of various kinds, the aroma of freshly roasting pumpkins wafted past my nose and woke me from a sound sleep three separate times.

It was the same each time: I awoke, sleepily thought, “Did I leave the oven on?  Did I leave pumpkins in the oven?”  “No,” I assured myself, “the oven is off and the pumpkins are in the fridge.”  Then I would go right back to sleep only to be awakened again.

I came up with the term “olfactory hallucination” when I was in college – the one other time an aroma woke me from sleep.  My roommate and I decided to fast for two days.  On the second night, I woke to the smell of bread baking.  More than once.  The third time I walked up and down my dorm hallway to see who was baking bread in the middle of the night.  All was dark and quiet.  Was the dorm kitchen baking bread?  Why had I never smelled it before?

The next morning I asked.  The dorm didn’t bake its own bread.  “Hmm, I thought, must have been a fasting-induced olfactory hallucination.”

So Wednesday I was going to mention it in my post, but first I googled to see if olfactory hallucinations are a real thing, or something I invented.

Turns out they are a real thing and if you experience them you should seek immediate medical care.

So for Wednesday’s post, I cut the part about the hallucinations. “I can’t post about that right before Thanksgiving, people will think I’m a goner.”

I’m pretty sure the episode I had in college was real.  And I’m still here, sans medial intervention, these many years later.

The one I had the other night may or may not have been real.  Perhaps it was brought on by a lack of sleep.  Or maybe it was my sweatshirt.  I put the sweatshirt I wore all day on over my pjs because I was cold.  Perhaps when I rolled over in bed, I caught a whiff of it.  But the warm, wafting aroma was so vivid.

The only reason I am telling you about it now is because The Daily Post prompted us to share a leftover today – something that I cut from a previous post.  So here you go: a nice turkey, cranberry, olfactory hallucination sandwich with a smear of bread sauce on a sweet potato roll.  Enjoy.

And if you have ever experienced this, please tell.  And if you are a medical professional, feel free to render a diagnosis.

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