Karen in the Kitchen

First, I will don my way cool apron that my friend from Canada sent me, and that has the Canadian word “Eh?” written on it in really flamboyant letters.  Of course, putting on the apron isn’t going to actually keep me from having flour all over me by the end of my culinary adventure – but I think I look sort of cute in it. And that’s the important thing.

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Next I will haul the turkey out of the fridge, where it’s been thawing since Sunday. I will dice home-grown onion and garlic, apples from our orchard (yes, apples – using apples in turkey stuffing is a Karen tradition – because I, traditionally and invariably, FORGET TO BUY CELERY!!! and then I find myself scrambling around the kitchen, looking for something crunchy I can throw in the dressing… and… yeah… well… apples …and, true to tradition, I just realized that I, once again, FORGOT THE CELERY!!!), and toasted Dave’s Killer Whole Grain Bread (the bread will be toasted, not Dave).  I’ll sprinkle sage and rosemary over everything that’s within arm’s reach (this includes the dog, the cats, and the sons). Then I will yank out the turkey’s innerds, and replace it with toasted Dave, and put the whole shebang in a pre-heated 325 degree oven.

Pie-making comes next. I love making pies. There’s something kind of comforting about pie-making. I especially love making pies when there’s rain pounding against the windows, and a fire in the woodstove – the rain adds a certain ambiance, and it looks like we might be getting a lot of ambiance today.  I’ll combine the flour (2 cups), and butter (2 tbs, plus 2/3 cup) and water (6 tbs) in a bowl, and then grab half of it and roll it out on a floured cutting board, and lay it in the bottom of my glass pie plate. The bottom crust will be a picture of perfection – it will be seamless and smooth. Next, I’ll put the frozen blackberries that I picked last summer into the pie shell. I’ll add 4 or 5 tbs of flour, and 6 tbs of sugar, and loosely mix the pie’s filling.  Now it’s time to roll out the top crust and place it on top of the pie. The top crust is the crust that everyone will see. It will have holes and tears in it. That is another Karen tradition. Once I’ve got my holey crust attached to the pie, I’ll lightly sprinkle sugar over the top, to make the pie look sort of sparkly when it’s done.

By the time we sit down for our feast, our plates will be full of turkey, stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes with butter and cinnamon, and cranberry sauce, and we’ll be half-way through dinner before someone – probably one of the sons – will ask me about the dinner rolls. And they will either be burning in the oven, or still sitting in the cupboard. It is another Karen tradition.

May your holidays be filled with a feast of love and laughter.  And don’t forget the dinner rolls.

– Excerpt from The Madcap Christian Scientist’s Christmas Book

http://www.amazon.com/Madcap-Christian-Scientists-Christmas-Volume/dp/1500855154/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1417005354&sr=1-3

The Gift of Gratitude

In God I find a precious gift
That knows no fear, no feud,
That glows so still, serene and pure:
The gift of gratitude.
– Christian Science Hymnal, #146

Monday is my errand-running, photo-taking, take-time-to-create-something, walk-on-the-Bellingham-boardwalk day. It is a sacred day for me – the day I set aside every week to be an explorer, and an earth-tourist.  I am hugely grateful for the gift of Monday.

With confidence it hails each task,
With courage undismayed,
For naught against Infinity
Can ever be arrayed.
– Christian Science Hymnal, #`146

I had a boatload to accomplish yesterday – needed to prepare readings for Wednesday night, mark my books for Thanksgiving, and choose hymns for Wednesday, Thanksgiving and the Sunday morning church services; had photos and writing I needed to print; books and packages that needed to be mailed;  food for Thanksgiving that needed to be picked up; and a Thanksgiving service that needed to be rehearsed. When I looked at all that needed to be done, I was a little overwhelmed. But, taking each thing one at a time, step-by-step, trusting in God, Love, I was able to get the bulk of it done by noon.

The oldest son is home from university, and at noon – just about the time I’d finished getting most of my to-do list done – asked me if I was planning to go up to Bellingham for my walk. I told him I was, and asked him if he’d like to join me. Within the hour both my sons had joined me for an expedition to Bellingham’s Boulevard Park.

It was good to be all together again – good to hear the rascally sons laughing with each other again, wonderful to be able to sit down together at Mambo’s Italian Restaurant, eating pizza and calzones, and talking about books we’re reading, plans for the future, good memories from the past. It was just good to be in the same space and time together.

So much good! Family and friends, home, satisfying work, endless opportunities to give and share and love…

I am enjoying the moments of Life. Right now. I’m not going to wait for Thanksgiving to be grateful. The gift of gratitude is one gift we don’t need to wait to open. 🙂

Thank you, Life!

In seamless gratitude I weave
A silent, healing prayer,
With shining threads of ceaseless joy;
For man is God’s great heir.

– Christian Science Hymnal, #`146 

Thanksgiving: “What a Wonderful World”

A grateful heart a garden is,

Where there is always room

For every lovely, Godlike grace

To come to perfect bloom…

 

As we began planning for Thanksgiving, we realized that, due to scheduling conflicts and human limitations of time and space (we haven’t yet overcome the belief that we can’t be two places at once, but we’re working on it – we’ll keep you posted) we wouldn’t be able to celebrate Thanksgiving in our home on Thursday. We decided to move it up to today. And it feels right. Even though we may still be trying to overcome limitations of time and space, we have no limits to the time and space wherein to express our thankfulness.  Today is as good a day as any day.

And today I am brimming over with gratitude for all the good in my life: The sons are home from university and we’ve spent the last couple days watching our favorite movies together, laughing and sharing our latest news with each other – it’s good to hear their male laughter again; my husband and I are both gainfully employed in work that brings us satisfaction and contributes in a positive way to the world; we have food in the pantry and a roof over our heads. We have so much to be thankful for!

 

A grateful heart a fortress is,

A staunch and rugged tower,

Where God’s omnipotence, revealed,

Girds man with mighty power…

A year ago, things seemed a little bleak for me, professionally…. or they might have seemed bleak to an outsider looking “in.” But from the inside-out, I was entering a journey that I found wonderfully exhilarating and freeing.  I had no idea where it would take me, and couldn’t have possibly guessed that in a year I’d be working where I’m working today.  Today I am in the best gig I’ve ever had in my life.  Get this! – during the course of one day last week one of my high school students brought me a big beautiful bouquet of tulips; another let me hold and croon to her infant while she worked on her Social Studies – and, as I’m sure you know, there is nothing more comforting than the feel of a warm baby nestled under one’s chin; and a third told me she’d been looking forward to me reading the story of Pegasus to her and asked me if I would please read to her the last ten minutes of our session together. Yes, it’s true! – I’m actually working at a job where I get to help students with their schoolwork, read to them, and help guide them into adulthood – and how cool is that?!

Had I not stepped over the brink and trusted that God, Good, had a place prepared for me, I wouldn’t be where I am today…

As I wait for the sweet potatoes to boil to perfect softness, I am listening to Louis Armstrong work his magic on my CD player.  Louie’s What a Wonderful World is on – sweet and beautiful – thanksgiving in music:

The colors of the rainbow,

so pretty in the sky

are also on the faces

of people going by,

I see friends shaking hands,

Saying, “How do you do?”

They’re really saying,

“I love you”….

And I think to myself,

 what a wonderful world! 

Okay, time to go whip up some sweet potatoes.

And this year I’m going to remember to get the rolls out of the oven, too… 🙂

Wishing you all a most wonderful Thanksgiving with friends and family – may you and yours be enveloped in laughter and love sublime!

A grateful heart a temple is,

A shrine so pure and white,

Where angels of His presence keep

Calm watch by day or night.

Grant then, dear Father-Mother, God,

Whatever else befall,

This largess of a grateful heart

That loves and blesses all.

-Edith Wasgatt Dennis