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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Into Great Silence

Today's Scripture Reading  1 KINGS 19:9A, 11-13A

At the mountain of God, Horeb,
Elijah came to a cave where he took shelter. 
Then the LORD said to him,
"Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD;
the LORD will be passing by." 
A strong and heavy wind was rending the mountains
and crushing rocks before the LORD—
but the LORD was not in the wind. 
After the wind there was an earthquake—
but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 
After the earthquake there was fire—
but the LORD was not in the fire. 
After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. 
When he heard this,
Elijah hid his face in his cloak
and went and stood at the entrance of the cave.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Friday, August 4, 2017

Pato's Garden

Our friend Pato is an agronomy professor at the University of Nebraska and travels the world for his research. While away to Indonesia and Italy this summer, he and our friend Caterina gave us permission to raid their amazing backyard garden. Pato's garden is an unassuming patch of land quietly nestled in a small cul de sac in the heart of Lincoln. We did not reap the bounty as often as I had hoped we could, but every time we were there, we were so impressed by the enormous tomatoes hanging heavy on the vine; the yellow zucchini flowers tucked under prickly green branches; the summer squash camouflaged under the shady plant; the squishable grape tomatoes that fell easily into our baskets and tasted so good right off the vine; the leafy spinach and lettuces that kept getting bigger and greener as the summer progressed... This garden really put my novice attempt at gardening to shame, but it provided so much inspiration and techniques for my future attempts at backyard farming. Whenever we eat anything from Pato and Caterina's garden, the kids ask if this is from the "master garden"? I am so thankful for the abundance of our earth and for farmers/agronomists like Pato who devote their lives to cultivating the earth and feeding the world...

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Martyrs of Compiègne

Guillotined on July 17, 1794, the Discalced Carmelite nuns of Compiègne were executed for their unwavering vows of obedience to Christ. During the Reign of Terror, these women offered themselves as victim sacrifices to God: they prayed daily for the restoration of peace and faith throughout their beloved France; and they refused to abandon their monastic community even after the civil government demanded the dissolution of the Christian faith. The vulnerability, goodness, and martyrdom displayed by women such as these is startling in its simplicity and virtue. These sixteen women speak to us still today from their mass grave in Paris---Salve Regina!

Thursday, July 13, 2017

January Ice Storm

On a hot summer July day, there is something refreshing thinking about the ice storm from the beginning of the year. The morning that I took these pictures,  I could hear the tinkling of thousands of ice crystals swaying in the breeze, and soon after, the rush of the melting ice to water was audible all around. Such dramatic ice melt always reminds me of the defeat of the White Witch in Narnia by Aslan; the brave and devoted children; the fawns and beavers and centaurs of the forest; and Father Christmas too. Later in the day, with warmer temperatures, the children played outside and collected a few icicles before the ice melted away in their hands. One of the good things about living in Nebraska is the division of seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Taste of Tree

It has only been within the past decade or so that I realized that there is a major, significant difference between pure maple syrup straight from the tree and syrups like Aunt Jemima and  Mrs. Butterworth's which are filled with hydrogenated corn syrup and all kinds of processed, artificial ingredients. So, today, my kids are spoiled on the real thing. And, since I'm already splurging on pure maple syrup, I try to avoid the artifices of plastic as well, so I only buy maple syrups sold in glass jars. For cost-effective measures, I make discount stores like TJ Maxx and Home Goods part of my usual shopping/hunting routine, and if I find any pure maple syrup in glass jars, I clean out the store. While I'm at it, I also keep my gourmand eyes open for any kind of decadent oil by La Tourangelle (avocado, grape seed, walnut) and good balsamic vinegars---if I spy what I like, I buy every bottle on the rack. It is so worth it and really makes a difference to our cooking sensibilities and taste buds. Bobo's (see video above) is one of our favorites...I am so appreciative of the 50-plus gallons of sap that make up each bottle of syrup; and I am so grateful for the human effort that goes into tapping, collecting, and boiling down the sap-cum-syrup that ends up on our kids' pancakes, waffles, and egg breakfasts.


I am so proud of our little strawberry patch this year! Since planting the strawberry plants a couple of years ago, we have had weak harvest results. The disproportionate seed-versus-fruit ratio on our small strawberry plants always made such seedy and strange jam, and the strawberries themselves offered such slim pickings. This year, we have dutifully watered and weeded our tiny patch, and now, we can't keep up with the strawberry bounty! On hot days, we have to go outside to pick the berries at least twice a day, morning and night, so that the sun doesn't spoil the fruit. We also have to contend with pesky garden rabbits. (In the past, we were always on the side of Peter Rabbit, but these days, we are Team Mr. McGregor all the way!) The strawberries taste so good that there is nothing leftover to make jams or jellies: the girls eat the fruit right from the garden with the juice dripping down their fingers and onto their pretty summer dresses. It is such a simple, wonderful family activity this strawberry patch business. Now, we wait for autumn to see how our pumpkin plants will fare...