Monday, December 22, 2014

Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

One of the things Mom said was “two wrongs don’t make a right.”  In working with children, inevitably there is a “he said/she said” saga that goes something like this…..”She hit me first.” Which is immediately met with, “UH-UH! He spit on me!” While the rhetoric and actions may differ with subtlety, the idea is the same.  One action doesn’t justify the other, no matter who acted first.  I would further add to the wisdom of my mother that there are ALWAYS, at the very least, two sides to every story.  Those who witness a quarrel of any magnitude will see it through their particular lens, including the angle at which they stand;  each individual lens is highly affected by their current--and most especially their past--environment.

Like many, I have witnessed from a distance the growing tension in our country.  I have demonstrated peacefully in my youth with government actions I disagreed with.  Peaceful demonstrations do not include looting, destruction of property or threatening behavior.  Further escalating these actions are those who “stir the pot” such as Al Sharpton and Eric Holder.  When there is a rush to announce action or a verdict before all facts are known, mistakes are inevitable. Big mistakes.  Limited even further by my own lens, I am probably foolish to attempt even one facet of the discussions.  Nonetheless, I am my mother’s daughter and I will rush in where angels fear to trod.

1)      Yes, there are definitely corrupt and evil law enforcement officers but they are rare.  Attempting to make all peace officers into “bad guys” is tantamount to saying that you can’t fly on a plane because there have been plane crashes. 

2)      Crimes are committed every day and often by those who have a previous criminal record.  Human nature is such that if I take one cookie without any repercussions, I can possibly trash the kitchen without anyone stopping me. I will make no assumptions about the cookies or the color of the hand in the jar.

3)      There are bad people. There are good people. There are angry and bitter people who have allowed their souls to be consumed by that negativity like a cancer.  There are positive and adjusted people who refuse to allow the past to ruin the future. My Dad believed that you find what you’re looking for (if people at your church are hateful, maybe you should start by taking a long look in the mirror rather than jumping churches. Again.) You make your own choices and chose the color of your lens as an adult.

4)      Slavery was a horrendous and unspeakable evil.  It still is.  There is still prejudice in our country, by too many folks of ALL colors. Period.

5)      There are some people who believe themselves competent leaders but in reality are only successful in creating a new crisis to use as their soapbox. 

You simply cannot say Michael Brown was innocent when eye witnesses and a camera verify his behavior.  When protestors change from carrying signs to chanting death, it begins to sound more like a conspiracy and they lose much of their credibility.   It is little wonder to me that two police officers were murdered by yet another person who has a criminal record.  Where are those who decried the actions in Ferguson? Those who whipped the crowd into a frenzy last week, actually demanding dead cops? And like so many, I wonder….if there were to be a crime against Al Sharpton or Mayor de Blasio, who the heck are they going to call if not the very police that they have demonized?

Just maybe it’s time to get new glasses.  Change the lenses, even at the cost of letting go of the pretty carrying case for the glasses or the tint that is too dark.  Or maybe, just maybe, some of us need to wear glasses to see the current situation accurately.  

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Christmas Card Tradition

This morning I was transported back to my childhood and the traditions passed on to me by Mother ...without speaking a word about what I should or would do as I grew into adulthood. There are multiple layers of tradition in this picture and, my heart like an onion or artichoke, harbors many layers. The stronger and sweeter the memories as you peel away to the heart. 
The needlepoint manger scene on the mantle was made for me by the wonderful choir at FUMC Somerset and I believe there is love in every stitch.  For many years when our furnishings were sparse, it was displayed year 'round.

On the table is a card file full of addresses of life-long family and friends, the same way my parents kept the addresses of esteemed friends at their fingertips.  The table, handmade by the late Orville Harner of New Vienna, Ohio, was used many times in my parents living room for just such activities. Yes, my folks had a fireplace and that was where my Mom hovered in the winter because she was always freezing COLD.  In her later years, she would be bundled up in 3-4 layers and gloves inside the house!
A few of the Christmas cards I used this year were ones that my Dad had crammed into the furniture before shipping it to Georgia. While not necessarily the sentiment or picture I would choose, it surely reminded me of my Mother ...who had definite ideas of what the cards should look like and what the sentiment should convey. One of which was that Christmas should be fully written, never abbreviated, especially as "Xmas".

Lastly, the rocking chair, my very favorite part of the picture. The rocking chair, pictured, and its matching straight back are my most prized possessions.  They belonged to my Mother's parents and sat in my own parents living room for as long as I can remember.  It is my hope one day to restore them through some tender loving care to their original 100+ year old glory---at least that is what I estimate for their age. In my imagination, Lucie is rocking her baby of three children, my mama, in that chair. I remember seeing my own children rocked there by my Mother. 

One day I dream of having my own grandchildren and being able to rock them in the same chair and tell them of their great grandparents and great, greats. If that rocker could speak, oh, the stories it would tell! In the meantime I will keep the tradition of writing Christmas cards to friends far away (I don't send local cards....go ahead, call me "Scrooge"....but that is another tradition my Mom kept). As I write, I take a moment with each to remember the best of memories. Then I say a prayer as I seal each envelope,  that God would enfold them in His loving care.  He surely has enfolded me with His blessings, many of which began long before I was born.  

Sunday, December 7, 2014


Most folks have never heard of hamloaf.  It seems to be a regional thing and I grew up in Ohio.  Mom was a gifted and opinionated woman.  She loved her family, she was passionate about God, politics, travel and reading but not always prioritized in that manner.  You notice cooking did not make the list.  By the time I'm old enough to remember (as the youngest of 5 kids and Mom was over 40 when I was born), cooking was not even in the same zip code as her priority list.  Cleaning?  That's a whole 'nother blog post but I don't want to make Mama roll over in her grave.  Hamloaf is the subject at hand.  While I've never seen her recipe, I've played with others to attempt to get close to hers.  Here is my latest and it's pretty close to what I remember:

2lbs ground fresh ham (not'll probably have to go to a butcher shop to get it.  All the hams at the big box chains seem to be pre-cooked or smoked)

1 sleeve round butter crackers (Ritz if you want the name brand)

12 oz tomato juice or something that resembles it

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup mayonaise

1 large squirt mustard

1 small-medium jar "designer" mustard (optional), set aside

Combine all ingredients and press into a square or rectangular pan.* Bake at 350 for approximately 60-90 minutes. Smear designer mustard on top before popping into the oven.  The one I used most recently had Champaign or something like that in the name, I think.   Pair with real, fresh sweet potatoes (not the processed ones that look like hocky pucks and doctored with cinnamon and brown sugar that kids might actually like!) and as many green vegetables as you can humanly find.  If you ever visited my parents home, you realize the enormity of this statement.  All meals were accompanied by milk, lots of milk.  Beets are good, too.  Mama loved beets.

*I've baked this in a 9x13 pan and it ends up dry and over done.  I suggest a slightly smaller pan or even square.  I like it best when the edges are almost nearly burned and the center looks "dry".  Again, it's a regional thing!