Friday, March 29, 2013

Tenebrae, the darkness and the shadow

Tonight is the eve of Good Friday.  Tonight, I will attend my church's Tenebrae service.  Tenebrae, Latin for darkness or shadow.  It is a most somber event, yet in truth ("What is truth?", I hear Pilate say), it is the core of the entire Passion.  For without the darkness, we would not have the Light.

Ever since childhood, even before I believed, I have been fascinated with the last week of Christ's life, the Passion Week.  The interplay between Jesus and the Apostles, Judas, between Jesus and Pilate.  For Pilate was afraid--fearing more for his own life under Tiberius (and his Praetorian Prefects) if he allowed an insurrection in Judea.  He feared recall to Rome, and probable execution.

During the all too brief time Jesus is before Pilate, Pilate tries passing responsibility to Herod, and when that fails, he tries to get the rowdy crowd to allow Jesus to be released for Passover.  He fails here too, as the crowd is mostly the Sanhedrin's own mob.  Eventually, in order to appease his own feelings of guilt at crucifying an innocent man, he washes his hands (literally) of the affair.

Pilate was eventually recalled to Rome, at the same time as Tiberius's death, and the installation of Caligula.  Historical reports indicate Pilate committed suicide (like Judas, but for different reasons) in the early part of Caligula's brief reign.

I think sometimes, that my interest in the Passion, was God's way of giving me a gentle pop upside the head, saying, ” Hey!  Pay attention!  This IS important.  There will be a quiz, and it is pass-fail.”  It just took me a long time to finally see the Light.

Random 5 Fact Friday 3/29

Today's Random 5 Fact Friday:

1.  Wednesday night's full moon was gorgeous!  It looked like a big fat orange hanging in the sky just after dark.

2.  Patience pays off this week, with a number of purchases of "unobtanium" items.  It pays to pay attention to those "In Stock Now" email alerts!

3.  My pulled hamstring from last week's dirt moving, seems to have healed.  Last night's bike ride was uneventful.

4.  Roasting coffee beans at home smells bad, but oh my, the resulting coffee is SO much better than anything you can buy in the stores!

5. The Monkeys are starting to learn Spanish, with a CD set, The Learnables.  So far it is interesting, and bits of my own ancient Spanish is coming back to me.  Now that's scary!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Soup! Food for a chilly day.

Yesterday was not a particularly good day if one has planned outdoor activities.  With temps hovering in the upper 40's, and rain falling heavily (with hail along the 50mi route 3 times!), Dave decided discretion was the better part of valor, and declined to ride the Ataxia Ride in Denton.  He was already cold & wet just from crossing the parking lot--and that's in his good cold weather/rain gear for cycling even.

Knowing this (ahh...text messages), the cunning plan was to make soup for dinner.  Since our friend and regular Saturday evening guest and cohort in dining  agreed with me, he brought the accessory food items, and I made soup.  The choice was Barley Beef Soup.

I got this recipe from Dave's mom, back in 2011.  It cooks up quite nicely--part soup, and part stew almost.  The barley provides a lovely texture, and cooked long enough, even the toughest beef is tender.  All the big people had second helpings, and the Monkeys had a full bowl each (gotta save room for cherry cobbler!)

Barley Beef Soup

1 diced chuck roast
2 C chopped carrots
2 C chopped celery
2 T cider vinegar
1 large onion diced
2-4 med-large potatoes diced (I leave the skin on)
3-4 large spoonfuls of Better Than Bouillon mix
1 t fresh ground pepper
Salt to taste
2 bay leaves (or, 1 1/2 T Penzey's  Bavarian Seasoning)
1/2 C pearled barley
1/2 t thyme (if you don't use the Penzey's Bavarian )
1 t dried dill
If you desire a darker brown color to the soup, add some Kitchen Bouquet.

Water to cover (in my stock pot that was about 6-7 C).

Brown the meat and onion together in the pot.  Add the water, vinegar, and everything else.  Bring to a boil and cover, reducing heat to keep it simmering.  Cook until the meat is tender.  Serve with fresh bread.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Random 5 Fact Friday

So I have decided to play along with the Random 5 Fact Friday meme...

1.  The dogs need their rabies vaccines this month.  I';m not looking forward to taking two large Ridgebacks to a vet that has shop-cats roaming around!    It could turn into a real furball!

2.  The trees and shrubs around here are mostly blooming now, but the drought damage is obvious, sadly.

3.  I'm trying to let all the broken, short bits of my hair grow out, so I can either try a new style, or just get it all pulled back into a ponytail.  But I hate the process, and it looks horrid!

4.  I'm having trouble keeping up my motivation for the exercising and weight loss.  Coming up on year 2, but it is getting difficult.

5.  I'm thinking of getting some Kryptoglow scales for this knife, the BK-11.  I really like the look of the scalloped dark blue set at the bottom of the page, but the glow-scales are cool too!  Which would YOU get?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Texas Chainsaw Massacree!

No, not the bad movie, based loosely on Ed Gein, though I bet most folk who have seen the movie didn't know about Gein.  Which is just as well...

No, I am referring instead to the fun and amusement I get, from encouraging my better half to occasionally buy new tools...Stihl tools!  And the enjoyment I get, hearing him tell of the looks and comments he gets when he tells the guys at the shop, "Well, my wife said to go out and buy myself a new chainsaw!"

Turns out our almost-new Stihl MS170 14" chainsaw is very popular with our friends at the dog rescue ranch.  It is light and easy to run all day, especially for those of us challenged with various forms of arthritis.  We had been thinking of getting a second used saw, and donating it to them.  But used saws were selling for near-new prices, and honestly, you just never know how a used saw was treated.  I would hate to donate a saw that didn't run well, like a Stihl.

So I suggested to Dave that he shop for a new saw for us, and donate our existing saw, which has less than 20hrs on it (if that!), and which we know how it was cared for.  That meant my sweetie got to go Stihl shopping.  Now, what red blooded American man doesn't like shopping for a new chainsaw?

I did the legwork on the phone, checking prices and configurations at the local Stihl dealers.  He got to go buy it.  A Stihl MS180CBE, which comes with the easy-pull start.  It should serve us well.

And here is the lucky guy, with his new saw!

One of his coworkers saw this pic and said "Run!  It's Halloween!", but I favor Arlo'ing things, hence the "Massacree".

Stay safe out there folks, and have fun!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The other Irish...

All my life I grew up more aware of what was going on in Northern Ireland than most folks in the Midwest.  My father's kin hail from Belfast, having worked in the great shipyards there, Harland and Wolff.  Though my father grew up across the Irish Sea in Liverpool, he was at times, profoundly Orange.

To midwesterners, orange and green are merely colors, and on St Patrick's Day, one of course wears green so as not to be pinched!  Unless you're me, who grew up singing along with the Irish Rovers, to some of whom I am likely related by blood... Even in high school I was known to wear an old Orange Crush t-shirt on St. Patrick's Day.  A couple of my closest friends understood, and sadly, only 2 HS teachers ever got it!

After dinner last night I decided to go a little Irish. My personal favorite beer is Shiner Black, but having spotted a Guinness Black Lager, I decided to try it.
Not as tasty as the Shiner, but not bad, and not as bitter as a traditional Guinness.  Today I will probably have the Harp Lager, as I know it is tasty.

A couple weeks ago,  whilst perusing the aisles at my local Walmart, I spotted a CD of Irish Music, and saw one of the original Rovers was featured.  Waxing a bit nostalgic, and missing my Dad, now passed some 4 years ago, I bought the CD.  I surprised even myself, by remembering the lyrics of the familiar songs on the CD.

This is what I remember...listen closely to the lyrics and you will understand a little bit about "that awful color problem of the Orange and the Green!"

Their music still makes me smile.  As they still tour, and perform I guess their music still strikes a chord with many others, both young and old.

So in honor of my background, and maybe to play Poke the Bear just a wee bit, this is what I wore to church today!  And to my surprise, one of our elders understood!  It made my day.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Workin' Like a Dog!

It was a working weekend this past weekend for the family.  We went out, Friday evening, to our friends' dog rescue ranch to spend the weekend working for the dogs. All three of our dogs came through or from this particular Rescue Ranch, and the folks there are dear friends to us.  So when opportunity presents itself, and we can all manage to arrange schedules to match, we go out and help out at the ranch.

You may recall our last trip out there in June 2012.  We cut wood, and cleared brush all weekend.  Not having access to a wood chipper (Fargo, eh?), we were forced to pile the wood into monster brush piles, and pray for cooler weather.  Texas, being in the South, tends to be hot and dry--can you say, Fire Risk??  Yeah, so since it isn't summer yet here, it was time to try to remove as many piles of brush as possible.  We heard there were 3 piles--the Monster (estimated at 20'x30'x10'), the big one (10'x20'x4') and the small one (8'x20'x2').  Since it was going to take the tractor to tear the Monster into manageable heaps, we opted to tackle the smaller two instead.

Around 5hrs later, we finally finished the big pile.  Luckily there were no serious injuries from walking on the brush pile (no turned ankles or snake/scorpion/spider bites).  However we have all developed an intense hatred of Texas brambles!  Ouch!  They're everywhere out there, and thorny!  And I fared best of all there, having kept my long sleeve shirt on, and used my Camelbak Frogs gloves.  I only ended up with a couple scratches from the brambles, and a couple bruises from getting whacked by branches going into the chipper.  One glove did get mangled by the chipper (not mine) and fortunately, the branch pulled the glove cleanly off the hand wearing it BEFORE the hand got into the chipper!  Whew!

After lunch we picked up a 4th helper and tackled the smallest pile.  The chipper, though dull as a butter knife, ran like a champ, and mangled everything we fed into it.  It was surprising how small the piles of chips were, compared to how large the brush piles were.

We finished up just as the storms arrived, and got in before the rain.  The rain kindly washed the chipper off for us too, though it did end up stuck in the subsequent mud for a while...

Sunday dawned clear and chilly with some moderate winds.  I wanted a warmer jacket, but once we got into the woods, it wasn't so bad.  Dave and I cut and stacked a mess of dead wood, as Sunday it was just the two of us, with one saw.  Monkeyboy helped a lot with stacking wood, and learned an important lesson in keeping ones eyes on the tree being cut, 'cause sometimes they fall in the wrong direction!  (Yes he did get out of the way.)

It was a fun, hard working weekend.  We were hurtin' by the end of each day, but it was worth it.  It's always fun to see all the dogs there, and to let ours run in the pens and play with the other dogs.  I know the kids took some pictures of the dogs, so perhaps next time I will put up a post about little Rosie....

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Gift of Fear

I cannot say I am enjoying reading this book, The Gift of Fear (De Becker). It's unsettling. It's creepy at times. It stirs up all those little hind-brain bits we "civilized" folk would prefer to forget or ignore. And that is exactly the point!

I generally consider myself one of those women who does not look like an inviting target (at least I hope so!). I try to keep my head on a swivel when I'm out and about. I don't hang out in questionable areas, or bars. I tend to shop in daylight. I am by nature somewhat suspicious--but probably not suspicious enough often enough. I don't carry a purse--my pistol is far more comforting and comfortable! I like cutlery. But I realize by my very gender alone, I have a moderate target on my back, and have had all my life. And it is exacerbated by having my 3 kids in tow whenever I go out. Now, the kids are getting older, and are less of a hindrance, and more of another 3 sets of eyes, but still...

DH and I recently decided to sell off some gear in order to budget in some private instruction in managing unknown contacts, threat assessment and home/family defense. We are hoping this will help us in our daily lives, by giving us the insight of professionals in identifying threats, and then figuring out the options to deal with said threats--be it at home or at the Walmart parking lot. It should be interesting.

I am pleased to live in Texas, where the right of self defense has not been neutered, as it has in some states. I am also pleased to exercise my rights to arm myself, which in Texas is suitably straight forward, though more expensive than perhaps is necessary. In fact, currently Texas only restricts one's CCW pistol, to the type you qualified with (revolver or semi-auto). If you qualify with a semi-auto, you may carry any pistol (including revolvers), whereas if you qualified with a revolver, you are restricted to CCW'ing a revolver. Knives on the other hand, are far more restricted under the laws...go figure!

De Becker is not a huge fan of firearms, it appears more for personal reasons. And that's ok--I'm not looking to him for firearms advice. My purpose in reading his books are to learn something about what makes attackers reawaken my own 'early warning system' in the brain, so I can buy myself time to act, rather than just react. Because if you are reacting, you are already behind the curve, and that is not a great place to be!  That reawakening is hard to do--the mind resists breaking the status quo, the relative peace it has known for nigh on 50 years. "It can't happen to me" is a hard mentality to completely get rid of.

I don't want to live in fear of life.  That would be a miserable existence.  It's not who I am, it's not who I want to be.  But I also don't want to be a victim.  The world today is not the one I grew up in.  That makes me sad--not so much for myself, but for what my kids will not have--that freedom to roam around town in relative safety, bike riding all over, or just walking.

I see other women out there, on the MUP, maybe out jogging, usually by themselves even at night...iPhones on, music blaring through earbuds, oblivious to everything except the pounding of their feet and the rhythm in their ears.  While I applaud their exercising, they make me want to scream!  They make me want to rip out the earbuds and scream into their half-deaf ears that they are making themselves into prey!  That they are unknowingly drawing predators into MY neighborhood!  Their neighborhood!  Our town!  Even worse are the walkers, plugged in and playing on the smartphones...they are not only deaf, but blinkered as well.  At least the joggers have their heads up to see where they are running...the walkers, all plugged in and texting or whatever they are doing, well it wouldn't be polite to print where their heads are!  And guys, don't think you are immune to violence either, because you're not!  Don't act like prey in my town, please!

I'm going to end this's focus has changed from my original intent, and I don't want it to get out of hand.  Those of you who know me, know where I stand.  Those of you who do not know me well, will probably figure it out sooner or later if you keep coming back here.  I will merely leave you with a quote from one of our Founding Fathers...
"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759