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  Sunday, July 23rd, 2017

Let’s understand, my friends, that true perfection means loving God and loving our neighbor. The more perfectly we keep these two commandments, the closer to perfection we will come. All spiritual rules are nothing but means toward the end of spiritual love.

—Teresa of Avila

  Tuesday, July 18th, 2017

Simply Sane

The dichotomy between an attitude of participation in healing and an attitude of doing the healing occurs everywhere. It is not confined to the doctor’s office. Once can see it clearly in the way one approaches one’s own mind. If some psychological problem occurs, some fear or ambivalence or worry, one naturally does one’s best with it. Usually this involves some attempt to bring things back to normal, to cleanse, and to rest. But often people don’t stop at that. They don’t allow the natural healing to occur. They keep picking at the emotional scab, rewrapping the psychological bandage, re-opening the mental wound. Checking to see if it’s doing all right. Applying this technique or that method. Picking at it again and again. All the time feeling that they are trying to heal themselves.

With this kind of picking at one’s mind, healing may find it difficult to happen. The attempts to make things more natural wind up making things more contrived and artificial. The attempts to cleanse wind up adding more and more contaminants. And the attempts to give rest wind up making greater and greater demands. I laugh at myself in this repeatedly. “Don’t bother me,” I say to my family. “I’ve had a rough day and I’m trying to rest.” Trying very hard to rest. Working at it, even.

But if one simply did one’s best, did what one could do to respond to a problem, and then allowed room for healing—gave space and light and air for healing to happen—that’s when healing can happen. When it’s allowed. This seems to require an element of trust. That with one’s fingers out of the wound, resting instead of meddling, healing just might happen. Or it requires despair. Realizing that no amount of additional meddling will make the healing any better anyway, so that one might as well rest. Either trust or despair is necessary. And either one will permit the healing to happen.

—Gerald May

  Saturday, July 15th, 2017

Still Life with Beets


  Thursday, July 6th, 2017

Postcard from Paradise


  Thursday, July 6th, 2017

From An American Childhood

When I was fifteen, I felt it coming; now I was sixteen, and it hit.

My feet had imperceptibly been set on a new path, a fast path into a long tunnel like those many turnpike tunnels near Pittsburgh, turnpike tunnels whose entrances bear on brass plaques a roll call of those men who died blasting them. I wandered witlessly forward and found myself going down, and saw the light dimming; I adjusted to the slant and dimness, traveled further down, adjusted to greater dimness, and so on. There wasn’t a whole lot I could do about it, or about anything. I was going to hell on a handcart, that was all, and I knew it and everyone around me knew it, and there it was.

***

I was growing and thinning, as if pulled. I was getting angry, as if pushed. I morally disapproved most things in North America, and blamed my innocent parents for them. My feelings deepened and lingered. The swift moods of early childhood—each formed by and suited to its occasion—vanished. Now feelings lasted so long they left stains. They arose from nowhere, like winds or waves, and battered at me or engulfed me.

When I was angry, I felt myself coiled and longing to kill someone or bomb something big. Trying to appease myself, during one winter I whipped my bed every afternoon with my uniform belt. I despised the spectacle I made in my own eyes—whipping the bed with a belt, like a creature demented!—and I often began halfheartedly, but I did it daily after school as a desperate discipline, trying to rid myself and the innocent world of my wildness. It was like trying to beat back the ocean.

Sometimes in class I couldn’t stop laughing; things were too funny to be borne. It began then, my surprise that no one else saw what was so funny.

I read some few books with such reverence I didn’t close them at the finish, but only moved the pile of pages back to the start, without breathing, and began again. I read one such book, an enormous novel, six times that way—closing the binding between sessions, but not between readings.

On the piano in the basement I played the maniacal “Poet and Peasant Overture” so loudly, for so many hours, night after night, I damaged the piano’s keys and strings. When I wasn’t playing this crashing overture, I played boogie-woogie, or something else, anything else, in octaves—otherwise, it wasn’t loud enough. My fingers were so strong I could do push-ups with them. I played one piece with my fists. I banged on a steel-stringed guitar till I bled, and once on a particularly piercing rock-and-roll downbeat I broke straight through one of Father’s snare drums.

I loved my boyfriend so tenderly, I thought I must transmogrify into vapor. It would take spectroscopic analysis to locate my molecules in thin air. No possible way of holding him was close enough. Nothing could cure this bad case of gentleness except, perhaps, violence: maybe if he swung me by the legs and split my skull on a tree? Would that ease this insane wish to kiss too much his eyelids’ outer corners and his temples, as if I could love up his brain?

I envied people in books who swooned. For two years I felt myself continuously swooning and continuously unable to swoon; the blood drained from my face and eyes and flooded my heart; my hands emptied, my knees unstrung, I bit at the air for something worth breathing—but I failed to fall, and I couldn’t find the way to black out. I had to live on the lip of a waterfall, exhausted.

When I was bored I was first hungry, then nauseated, then furious and weak. “Calm yourself,” people had been saying to me all my life. Since early childhood I had tried one thing and then another to calm myself, on those few occasions when I truly wanted to. Eating helped; singing helped. Now sometimes I truly wanted to calm myself. I couldn’t lower my shoulders; they seemed to wrap around my ears. I couldn’t lower my voice although I could see the people around me flinch. I waved my arm in class till the very teachers wanted to kill me.

I was what they called a live wire. I was shooting out sparks that were digging a pit around me, and I was sinking into that pit. Laughing with Ellin at school recess, or driving around after school with Judy in her jeep, exultant, or dancing with my boyfriend to Louis Armstrong across a polished dining-room floor, I got so excited I looked around wildly for aid; I didn’t know where I should go or what I should do with myself. People in books split wood.

When rage or boredom reappeared, each seemed never to have left. Each so filled me with so many years’ intolerable accumulation it jammed the space behind my eyes, so I couldn’t see. There was no room left even on my surface to live. My rib cage was so taut I couldn’t breathe. Every cubic centimeter of atmosphere above my shoulders and head was heaped with last straws. Black hatred clogged my very blood. I couldn’t peep. I couldn’t wiggle or blink; my blood was too mad to flow.

***

For as long as I could remember, I had been transparent to myself, unselfconscious, learning, doing, most of every day. Now I was in my own way; I myself was a dark object I could not ignore. I couldn’t remember how to forget myself. I didn’t want to think about myself, to reckon myself in, to deal with myself every livelong minute on top of everything else—but swerve as I might, I couldn’t avoid it. I was a boulder blocking my own path. I was a dog barking between my own ears, a barking dog who wouldn’t hush.

So this was adolescence. Is this how the people around me had died on their feet—inevitably, helplessly? Perhaps their own selves eclipsed the sun for so many years the world shriveled around them, and when at last their inescapable orbits had passed through these dark egoistic years it was too late, they had adjusted.

Must I then lose the world forever, that I had so loved? Was it all, the whole bright and various planet, where I had been so ardent about finding myself alive, only a passion peculiar to children, that I would outgrow even against my will?

—Annie Dillard


  Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Values Map


  Friday, June 16th, 2017

Rainier strawberries

Released by Washington State Univ. in 1972. WSU 685 (Northwest x Sierra) x Columbia.

The Rainier strawberry plant is a full sibling of Shuksan. It is a late-season cultivar with good-flavored, large fruit. Yields are intermediate. It is not suited for the processing market as it does not cap well, but makes a good addition for local fresh sales. It is tolerant to powdery mildew and red stele.


  Wednesday, June 14th, 2017

Apricots

The origin of the apricot is disputed. It was known in Armenia during ancient times, and has been cultivated there for so long that it is often thought to have originated there. Its scientific name Prunus armeniaca (Armenian plum) derives from that assumption. An archaeological excavation at Garni in Armenia found apricot seeds in an Eneolithic-era site. Despite the great number of varieties of apricots that are grown in Armenia today (about 50), according to the Soviet botanist Nikolai Vavilov its center of origin would be the Chinese region, where the domestication of apricot would have taken place. Other sources say that the apricot was first cultivated in India in about 3000 BC.

Apricots have been cultivated in Persia since antiquity, and dried ones were an important commodity on Persian trade routes. Apricots remain an important fruit in modern-day Iran, where they are known under the common name of zard-ālū (Persian: زردآلو).

Egyptians usually dry apricots, add sweetener, and then use them to make a drink called amar al-dīn.

Today, apricot cultivation has spread to all parts of the globe with climates that support it.

The fact that apricot season is very short has given rise to the very common Egyptian Arabic and Palestinian Arabic expression filmishmish (“in apricot [season]”) or bukra filmishmish (“tomorrow in apricot [season]”), generally uttered as a riposte to an unlikely prediction, or as a rash promise to fulfill a request.

The Turkish idiom bundan iyisi Şam’da kayısı (literally, the only thing better than this is an apricot in Damascus) means “it doesn’t get any better than this.”


  Friday, June 9th, 2017

Animal Fat

What were the foods that were considered most important for women and men who wished to conceive a child, for pregnant and nursing women to nourish the child, and for growing children to achieve their optimal physical potential? Price studied this question in great depth. His answer, based on his careful observations, was that foods from one or more of six different groups were absolutely essential:

  • Seafood: fish, shellfish, fish organs, fish liver oils and fish eggs.
  • Organ meats from wild animals or grass-fed domestic animals.
  • Insects.
  • Fats of certain birds and monogastric (one-stomach) animals such as sea mammals, Guinea pigs, bears and pigs.
  • Egg yolks from pastured chicken and other birds.
  • Whole milk, cheese and butter from grass-fed animals.

The foods in the last group were eaten raw and unprocessed, as were a portion of the foods in the other five groups. These are the foods that native people everywhere said were most important for their strength and health, and for making perfect babies. Seafood and dairy foods were often fermented so that they provided high levels of enzymes.

And raw or cooked, all these foods are rich in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2, in important fatty acids, minerals and a host of other nutrients essential to reproduction and good health.

—Ron Schmid, The Untold Story of Milk

  Saturday, May 27th, 2017

Hindu Hospitality

Sheela Venkatakrishnan of Chennai, Tamil Nadu, told Hinduism Today, “You offer your guest the same love and respect that you would offer to God. Simple! A striking example of hospitality is when the whole town of Kumbakonam, where my father hails from, turns host during the week of the Mahamaham.” Thousands upon thousands of people come for the holy bath in the tank of the Kumbareswaran temple, and every home opens its doors to accommodate and feed all who reach its doorstep. No one is turned away.

Sheela explained, “Houses in the villages and towns of Tamil Nadu usually have a fairly large platform just outside their front door, called a thinnai. This serves two purposes. One is temporary storage of grain during the harvest and also an airy place to sleep during the hot and humid summers. It is not unusual for a traveller to use this as a resting place. You could open your front door in the morning and find someone sleeping on your thinnai. This is where you would find the strangers during Mahamaham. Of course, family and friends would be accommodated inside the house. But everyone is fed, irrespective of caste. It is possible that in the morning there is one set of people, in the afternoon another and a totally different group at night. The meals served would be according to whatever time of day it is. Also, the bath area often has a separate access from outside the house.”

In her grandfather’s day, Sheela noted, it was the practice for the head of the household to stand at his doorstep at mealtime and ask loudly, not once but thrice, “Is there someone who needs to be fed?” Sometimes a traveler or a poor man would come in for food. It was only after the guest had been fed that family would eat—one of the explicit instructions in the dharma shastras.


  Sunday, May 14th, 2017

Sonnet to a Stilton Cheese

Stilton, thou shouldst be living at this hour
And so thou art. Nor losest grace thereby;
England has need of thee, and so have I—
She is a Fen. Far as the eye can scour,
League after grassy league from Lincoln tower
To Stilton in the fields, she is a Fen.
Yet this high cheese, by choice of fenland men,
Like a tall green volcano rose in power.
Plain living and long drinking are no more,
And pure religion reading “Household Words”,
And sturdy manhood sitting still all day
Shrink, like this cheese that crumbles to its core;
While my digestion, like the House of Lords,
The heaviest burdens on herself doth lay.

—G.K. Chesterton

  Saturday, May 13th, 2017

Buckwheat

Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum) is a plant cultivated for its grain-like seeds and as a cover crop. Despite the name, buckwheat is not related to wheat, as it is not a grass. Instead, buckwheat is related to sorrel, knotweed, and rhubarb. Because its seeds are eaten and rich in complex carbohydrates, it is referred to as a pseudocereal. The cultivation of buckwheat grain declined sharply in the 20th century with the adoption of nitrogen fertilizer that increased the productivity of other staples.

Common buckwheat was domesticated and first cultivated in inland Southeast Asia, possibly around 6000 BCE, and from there spread to Central Asia and Tibet, and then to the Middle East and Europe. Domestication most likely took place in the western Yunnan region of China. Buckwheat is documented in Europe in Finland by at least 5300 BCE as a first sign of agriculture, and in the Balkans by circa 4000 BCE in the Middle Neolithic. Russian-speakers call buckwheat гречка (grechka) meaning “of Greece”, due to its introduction in the seventh century by the Byzantine Greeks; the same is the case in Ukrainian.

The oldest remains found in China so far date to circa 2600 BCE, while buckwheat pollen found in Japan dates from as early as 4000 BCE. It is the world’s highest-elevation domesticate, being cultivated in Yunnan on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau or on the plateau itself. Buckwheat was one of the earliest crops introduced by Europeans to North America. Dispersal around the globe was complete by 2006, when a variety developed in Canada was widely planted in China. In India, buckwheat flour is known as kuttu ka atta and is culturally associated with Navratri festival. On the day of this festival, food items made only from buckwheat are consumed.

Kasha is one of the most popular Russian national dishes, the second after shchi. Kasha is commemorated in the Russian saying, “щи да каша – пища наша” (shchi da kasha – pishcha nasha) literally “shchi and kasha are our food” or, more loosely, “cabbage soup and porridge are our kind of food.”

Kasha can be used at any meal, either as a dish in itself, or a side dish. They are cooked from a great variety of grains and their derivatives. There are three main types of Russian kasha: liquid, viscous and thick. The most loved in Russia is crumbly kasha seasoned with butter. Hence the Russian saying, “you’ll never spoil kasha with a lot of butter.” The most common additives for kasha are dairy products—milk, thick sour milk, sour cream, curd and cream.

As an Ashkenazi-Jewish comfort food, kasha is often served with onions and brown gravy on top of bow tie pasta, known as Kasha varnishkes. Kasha is a popular filling for knishes and is sometimes included in matzah-ball soup.

The buckwheat plant is celebrated in Kingwood, West Virginia, at the Preston County Buckwheat Festival, where people can participate in swine-, cattle-, and sheep-judging contests, vegetable contests, and craft fairs. The area fire departments also play an important role in the series of parades that occur there. Each year, a King Buckwheat and Queen Ceres are elected. Also, many rides are available, and homemade, homegrown buckwheat cakes and sausage are served.


  Sunday, May 7th, 2017

Endure

#lifehacketc


  Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

Millions long for immortality who don’t know what to do with themselves on a rainy Sunday afternoon.

—Susan Ertz

  Saturday, April 29th, 2017

Romans 8:38-39

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.