Saturday, January 26, 2013

Perspectives on Suffering

I remember a book from my childhood about a man who was having trouble sleeping--I don't remember the name of the book.  There was a tapping on his window from a tree and a leaky faucet.  He went to the judge and told him he was having trouble sleeping, and the judge told him to get a cat.  That night, the man heard the taps and drips and the cat meowing and moving around on the bed.  

He went to the judge and said that he still couldn't sleep.  The judge told him to get a dog.  Of course, then the man had a dog and cat making noise and moving around in addition to the tapping and dripping sound.  The story continues with the judge recommending that this man fill his bed with a cat, a dog, a cow, a horse, and I don't remember how many other animals.

The man goes back to the judge, desperate, and tells him: "I still can't sleep!  Now there's mooing, neighing, barking, meowing, tapping, and dripping!"  And the judge says: "Get rid of the cat, the dog, the cow, the horse, and all the other animals."  And the man gets blissful sleep.

I feel a little bit like the man in that story--before getting rid of the animals.  I had sleep troubles in Philadelphia, where there would be sounds of car engines, occasional loud music from cars in the block behind us, a very occasional block party that lasted until 11:00, or an occasional dog left outside at night or overnight.

Now I live in the Dominican Republic, where each night there are roosters crowing, dogs barking (dogs live outside, it's warm and theft is a huge problem here), and my neighbor's unbelievably loud house alarm going off in the middle of the night.  Needless to say, I feel like I've jumped out of the frying pan into the fire.  I can only hope that things for me will end as they did for the man in the story.

This morning, after the house alarm woke me up at both 1:30 and 3:30 during the night and I didn't sleep much at all (after a week of interrupted sleep from the house alarm across the street), I was feeling a little low.  I must admit that I don't often listen to sermons, but in my discouraged state I thought it would be a good idea.  I found a sermon on suffering by Tim Keller to listen to while I made granola--Tim Keller being my favorite preacher both because he has such great insight and because he doesn't have a "preacher's voice."  

The sermon was really powerful and addressed a more profound suffering than I'm experiencing.  I found it really moving, though, and felt very encouraged.  I wanted to share it, in case anyone's interested:

(You have to click on the sermon with this name when you get to the webpage of free sermons related to suffering.)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

An Original Favorite Color

Abigail, conforming to gender stereotypes, likes pink.  She is starting to learn other colors, but she could only correctly identify the color pink for the last year.  Every day she wants to wear pink, every day she wants a pink accessory, every day she wants to drink from the pink cup.  The most amusing recent example of pink insistence is that when we sing "Jesus  Loves the Little Children" Abigail wants us to add the color pink to the list.  She told me she's pink, so it's a legitimate request.  Since in somewhat recent years the color brown was added (well, since when I was little), it's pretty tough to squeeze the pink in:
Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world:
red, brown, yellow, black, pink, and white, they are precious in his sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
I'm glad Jesus loves our pink little girl.

By the way, we took that picture yesterday.  85 and sunny.  :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Better Late Than Never

A techie friend of mine explained how to get the pictures off my phone using my husband's Blackberry charger (thanks Steve!).  I thought late Thanksgiving pictures of the slaughter of our turkey were still interesting enough to post in January for those of you who read the November entry and won't go back to see the pictures I now added:

The last two pictures are of the butcher who slaughtered my turkey for 50 cents and a chicken head that was on the floor of the slaughterhouse that I almost stepped on by accident.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Homemade Ground Cinnamon

Yesterday morning, I realized I had no ground cinnamon left for the baked oatmeal I was making.  But I found a big stick of cinnamon I'd bought at the big central market when I was there buying my turkey in November.  (A side note:  I had also bought two very affordable metal and rubber slingshots which I thought the boys would love for Christmas--and which were a tenth of the price of the beautiful wooden ones I'd seen on Etsy, but I had them in my carry-on when I flew in to the states and they were confiscated by TSA, who did not think that metal slingshots were appropriate carry-on items.  I'm pretty sure some TSA children are at this moment causing all kinds of mischief with them somewhere near Miami airport).

So I needed cinnamon and had a big yard-long stick of it.  I broke it into pieces over my knee, put it in a bag and smacked the pieces with a hammer, and then ground the pieces into powder in my coffee grinder (which is almost never used for coffee but rather for grains and seeds).  It made just the right amount to refill my ground cinnamon container.  And I felt like the conquering pioneer woman!

Blender Spaghetti Sauce

I like homemade spaghetti sauce, and because I don't like to use canned tomatoes because of the BPA, I have in recent years canned tomatoes in the early fall  and then use them for the fall, winter, and spring when I wanted to make spaghetti sauce.  And it's not rocket science: I'd just saute some onion and garlic, and then add the jars of tomatoes I'd canned along with some roasted peppers from the freezer, kale from the garden, red wine, salt, pepper, oregano, bay leaves, chopped mushrooms, hot pepper flakes, a little sugar . . . and whatever else struck my fancy.

Since we moved to the Dominican Republic, I have had fresh local tomatoes year-round.  This actually didn't seem so great for spaghetti sauce making, initially.  Because while the above formula makes a quick and easy sauce when you have canned tomatoes on hand, somehow a bag of fresh tomatoes and peppers inspires less motivation for making spaghetti.  Too much work.  And so, always driven by a sort of creative laziness, I came up with a quick pasta sauce for when all you have on hand is fresh ingredients . . . using the blender.

I throw the onion and garlic in the blender first (with the peppers, if there's room), and do my best to pulse them without pureeing them.  Then I dump them into the pot with some olive oil and salt and get them sauteing.  Then I throw the tomatoes into the blender and blend lightly (usually I have to do a couple of rounds, for a full pot of sauce) and once the starter veggies are sauteed, I add the tomato and a little wine.  Sometimes (when I'm in a hurry, which I usually am) I'll even blend the mushrooms with some of the other vegetables.  I add the seasonings I mentioned earlier, and then I'm done.

Then I just let it cook on the stove while I make eggplant or ground beef and while I cook the noodles and make a salad.  And when everything else is ready, the sauce is ready.  Anyway, I realize that for most of my readers, this is not the season for fresh local tomatoes or peppers.  But it really is fast and easy, and if I don't share it now, I don't know if I'll remember to later.  So at the very least, here's something to try this summer when you have fresh tomatoes on hand! :)

Two Week Winter

I had gotten so hungry for some "real" winter.  Caribbean Christmas lights flashing at night as we drove by in our air-conditioned car just didn't feel right.  And somehow muggy, rainy afternoons listening to Christmas carols near our decorated houseplant couldn't compare to the afternoons in PA we'd spent in sweaters or blankets next to the fresh-cut tree.  We were doing our advent each night, and our church had a great Christmas service the week before we left, but I was really excited for the cold!


So when we got to Pennsylvania again, it was amazing!  I prayed for snow, and we got some three different times.  We only took pictures this first time, when there was barely enough snow to cover the grass, but the next two times were actually deep enough for sledding (the fact that it was not deep enough to sled on Christmas day, as you can see, did not stop us).

We had a great time with our family and friends, it was a blessing to see everyone and to have some relaxing weeks to get a break from school.  But, I must confess, it was dark and bleary much of the time, and the wind was sharp and not too enjoyable.  By the time we got back to our warm Caribbean D.R., and were unloading from the plane in 80 degree weather, I must confess I said, "Wow, it's good to be home!"