Bread, not cake. . .

 

I want bread. . .thank you. . . .

 

I have worked out this loaf that pleases me greatly.  It is a favorite when it is fresh and toasted it is not to be believed.  An open faced cheddar sliced cheese melted on it to toast with a couple of slices of crisp bacon on top  makes it a meal in itself, with some fresh slices of cucumber and tomatoes on the side.

Few ingredients are necessary.  I had on hand a 3 ¾ quart stainless steel saucepan with cover and stainless steel handle that is perfect for a baking pan. I line it with parchment.  I did not have discretionary income to buy the elegant baking pan that was thought necessary for the no knead bread.  I had also on hand a stainless steel thin spatula from as far back as I started to cook and it works perfectly to scrape the dough into a mound.  These are the tools with a rubber spatula to make this.

My No Knead Bread

3 cups white unbleached flour     (I use King Arthur)

1 cup whole wheat flour               (I use good stone ground)

1 tsp active dry yeast

2 tablespoons molasses
2 ½ cups hot water       (put molasses in bottom of cup and add hot water and stir)

1 tsp salt                         (I use kosher)

(optional    –   added grains,  like millet,
bulgur,  flax,  oatmeal or even crushed granola)

 

The bowl should be large enough to let dough rise above double the amount.  I dip the measuring cup of flour in flour canister and shake to measure .  I stir all the dry ingredients very well to distribute evenly and add the hot liquid.  Mixture should resemble drop biscuit dough.  Enough liquid should be added to work dry ingredients into center of wet batter.  It should not be liquified,  just wet.  Stir to blend well.  Cover with plastic wrap or large lid tightly and put in draft free place.

I let rise overnight in oven with no heat of course or if I want it that day I put in oven with light on (some oven lights do with no heat on)  to rise in warm place.  The dough should rise for at least 3-4  hours and better if  time allows overnight.  But it can be done with no discernible difference in less time.  I have let it go 12 hours and as little as 4.

Spread a half cup of flour in a six inch circle.  When dough is double and ready, take spatula and gently turn out on floured counter with few motions.  Enough flour should be on counter to allow dough to sit.  Spread a handful of flour on top of dough and here you can add whatever grains you desire.  I add 2 tablespoons each of bulgur and millet and sometimes flax seed and a handful of oatmeal.  Sprinkle on top of mound of dough.  Whatever your favorite.

Take your steel spatula and lift the edges of the dough onto the center.  Keep doing it 12-15 times to make a firm half mound.  If you need more flour,  sprinkle more so it will not be tacky.  The less handling,  the better.  When you make  it several times,  it will be done in a few minutes.  Lift it into the pan lined with parchment.  Put the cover on and slide it into the oven for an hour with no heat to grow.

After an hour leave it still in oven with cover on and turn on  oven to 425 degrees.  Bake cold oven start for 40 minutes.  After 40 minutes , with hot mitts on lift hot cover off and put cover  in sink.  It will be hot so be careful.  Leave pan with bread in oven for another 20-25 minutes. Mitts on, be careful removing hot pan with bread and turn onto wire rack.  Peel off parchment and let cool before slicing.

This makes a healthy, excellent loaf and easier than going to the store for a loaf of bread.  My mother would be envious and grown men would cry.  That good.

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A Balanced Judgment. . .

Many Chances. . .

I had written that it is a wonderful play on words when we are given a phrase and then run like the wind with it.  I had written about  ‘a sense of snow’ and someone with this sense can tell you many things when seeing a footprint in the snow and who made it.

There is also a sense of time and also a sense of place,  a sense of self and a sense of who we are and what we bring to the moment.  It sums up what we do in gathering ourselves,  the many parts of our self and bring to the present moment the substance of us.

When we see our place in the larger scheme of things, when we enlarge our premises and push out boundaries, we see how we contribute to universal evolution.  It is our purpose in life in this dimension to contribute to all of life.  When we become aware of our sense of this, we cannot become unaware ever again.

(I scribed the following for a journal entry. . .’unite whatever effort in mind with hand and you will have consumed an enormous portion of this life.  Be it for the benefit of mankind and you will have found your life’s purpose.’)

In that same journal entry I mentioned that we had friends over for dinner that night and were enjoying the conversation concerning issues ongoing and deeply felt.  We were discussing Mozart and the movie about him and at one point the conversation was silent. 

It was everyone’s question which was why it was voiced.  Why,  a kind and gentle man asked,  why would God have put such wonderful music into such a vulgar man?

Precisely why,  I said, precisely why.  And no one at the table understood my comment nor saw the connection when I explained that it was sobering to offer judgment without knowledge of the substance of the subject.  Persons are vast subjects and to presume judgment limits all parties.

When there is a sense of self and many selves,  all in evolution,  and we are aware,  we see the fullness of who we are.  As the wise Ethel Waters said, ‘I am somebody.  God don’t make no junk.’  We are not a whim of the Potter.  Life is a soul keeper and we are given many chances to achieve our potential.

(Excerpt from poem)

When I Change My Life . . .

When I change my life for a new one,
I will have another chance
to love, to feel, to laugh
and to stretch my psychic bones
and shout to a world a hello again!

When I change my life I will remember
what made my life sad and
not to do it again and what made me glad
to remember to do that again.

I will remember why you cried
and why you went hungry.
I will remember we are two haves
and I will share what I have
and you will share what you have.

It will be a better world and
we will work to make it so.
I can say that because I know.
If daffodils get many chances
to come up new and mushrooms too,

am I not worthy of many chances?

 

 

4

An Observation. . .

Nowhere Else To Go. . .

 

There are  those who are quick to say that all of life consists of making choices.  And choices are made many times.  But what is not considered is that Conscience is a heavy determiner.  There are circumstances that prevent choices and options are non existent.  Commitment and responsibility are obvious reasons for negating personal preferences.  The road becomes narrower as one ascends.  Be compassionate before leveling a charge of ‘you made your bed’ at anyone.  One cannot know the weight of the world Atlas shrugged.

 

 

 

An Observation

You say. . .
What I see as your reflection
is not what you think.

I say. . .
I don’t only think but I see
this face I don’t know.

Her contours are strange to me,
speaking of an old one
who can no longer
remember another face.

You say. . .
Her light shines for me,
speaking of a road traveled
long and hard.  One that would
not be freely chosen unless
one loved much.

I say. . .
The road I traveled was mine
because of circumstances I
could not change.

You say. . .
Hard it was
though not for naught. . .
The derision is only surface
signifying a significant accomplishment.

I say. . .
It did not make
the face beautiful.
My eyes do not deceive.

You say. . .
Other eyes see differently.
And one day other eyes will be yours
and with those eyes  you will say
. . . there was nowhere else to go.

And nothing else to do. . . .but do.
And we will vouch for your authenticity

and share the awakening.

 

 

art by  Claudia Hallissey

 

 

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What Is A Mind For? . . .

What is a Mind For?. . .

When I read that it is nearly impossible for a youngster in high school to take upon themselves a novel and read it through to  report on it,  I had trouble believing it.  A high school student?  And the reporter of the article also had trouble.  She took a difficult book and it took her three times to begin and finally stay with it.  She was a young woman faithful in her reporting.

Because of the use of devices and the brevity of transmitting language, the young are losing the ability to keep in mind sentences longer than a few characters.  Texting someone a hundred times a day perfects this ability to transcribe thought.

And to keep a sentence, let alone a paragraph in mind for a complete thought trashes what centuries took to make civilized countries literate.   What went into making us humans and to help evolve our species has put us all into the lane for Sunday drivers.

We have lost a generation that was going to save the planet and help mankind big time.  We have instead a distracted generation that checks their devices all day to see their Likes from those invisible but yet influences their behavior to such a degree that relationships between touchable humans are ignored.

Discovering exciting information or pursuing insightful curiosities are not enticing.  Learning requires focus and a challenging pursuit of something that changes one’s life to broaden one’s frame of reference.

The explosion that occurs within our mind when something is learned is not forgotten because it is never experienced.  From the toddler who swivels to music by pressing a button on a toy that blares rhythm is enough because it brings laughter and applause.

It is with effort that the first Dick and Jane equivalent is attempted.  They soon know the pictures on their tablet can be changed within seconds.  Focus with study is not learned because effort is required.

You think too much, I soon was told.  You read things into conversations.  That was not said, they would tell me.  Stick to the point I heard.  Answer the question.  Spare me the drama was the demand.  And the list was endless.  I was young and wanted what the adults knew.

Tell me what you know about this.  But know they did not because they had given no thought to the subject in question.  I was asking them to reveal their inadequacy and they resented that and me.  My intent was to connect.

How can a language be a weapon of war?  Easily.  Maybe we will regress to grunts and groans again and leave body language to add meaning to a question.  It was during mid life that courage came to answer to ‘you think too much’ with ‘what’s a mind for?’

The Talmud teaches the purpose of life is to learn.  What we fail to learn and live will be repeated with ongoing life in worlds and circumstances not so pleasant.

The heartbreak will be in not reading a book is because they are unable.

4

As I Watched. . .

 

 

My journal entry says it was a Tuesday when my world folded onto itself, the trees blending into oblivion and the screen folded onto itself.  I was in a place as close to a cabin in the woods as I could be.  I loved it.  It seems I have been a recluse in several lifetimes and in this one it still was an effort for me to mingle with others.  As the world faded from view for the last time, I felt within, whole, and that I could step over whatever boundaries were beneath me.  It was the way I entered my nights voluntarily and traveled.  I lost it then because the next I knew were burly men shunting me over a gurney and into an ambulance.  ER became a reality as did the next days.

 

 

As I Watched. . .

Part of a whole,
yet wholly here.
Slowly as I watched
the silence was encompassing.

Piece by blessed piece,
each tree, each entity
slowly folded upon itself
and laid itself down.

The screen protecting
vanished as it bent itself
into nothing,
a wisp of an idea
no longer useful.

Trees,  one by one,
bent over themselves
and laid themselves down
and disappeared onto
the forest floor.

And I thought now neat!
No evidence, no residue
of debris to litter
the surroundings.

I murmured his name
as I watched the scene disappear
and he said to me, don’t move.

And time collapsed for me
and events catapulted me again
into the frame of reference
I know as mine. . .

And again the journey continued
and I sit and wonder and marvel

at this multifaceted existence I know as life.

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Peace Of Mind. . . .

We persist in thinking we might make a difference because we don’t know when we might make a difference.

*****
When illusions are unmasked, coping mechanisms prove unable.

*****
Death is a triumph.  The tragedy would be had we never been.

*****
A cynic is someone on the threshold of understanding.

*****
Man’s God is a ‘controlled substance.’

*****
Man is a prime example of ‘substance abuse.’

*****
An image is a reflection of an idea.

*****
All worlds are reflections of ideas in various stages of completion.

*****
Love underwrites the hope always.  It has to be the basis for all of life.

*****
We. . . are always safe.

*****
Sometimes the body goes out of control and aches.  It is an ache with a memory.

*****
If you are not gun shy after being shot,  then you don’t understand the purpose of a gun.

*****
Within is the treasure and without the within,  there is no without

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With Hope Eternal. . .

 

There are times, and this is one of them,  that is a heartbreaker.  I have long loved this Earth of mine and readers know even as a child I have felt this love.  When weather devastates the very places I have known, it is a keen pain.

Last week it was Houston and that was difficult to view.  This weekend it was Florida and up until November I was a resident in the state.  The evergreen forest that backed up our property was a delight for me.  And always in my mind and heart will be the rest I  found when my eyes sought their profound beauty.  To think now that forest must be in shambles hurts greatly.  The devastation that has come with this hurricane to the people and homes I have difficulty accommodating.  Facing the problems that come with flooding and the work involved has me hoping there are young bodies with boundless love and energy beside the homeowners.

Having been in a wicked storm with a basement flooding and boxes still unpacked and damaged, the only solution was to discard them.  Though years have passed I still have thoughts that begin,  I wonder what happened to??? And I used to have???  And then I had a copy of the book??? And of course what else was in those boxes,  at this time I have no idea.  But as a grandson said to me at the time, it’s only stuff,  grandma,  only stuff.  He is right of course and I remember to this day that it is only stuff.  Because when a family comes through a time of devastation and everyone is accounted for,  that is what is important.  When arms hug bodies and leave their imprint on your heart it is gratitude that we feel having come through together.  Most stuff can slowly be replaced.  Beloveds, never and we know that.

But my generation of elderlies came through some times that the youngers have no way  relating to because many generations separate us.   I remember saying to my mother when something was discussed and I said to her, but it only costs a dime!  And she from a time I could not relate to because I knew  love and a full stomach, said,  but when you don’t have a dime, it is a lot of money.  So many things lost that are memorable because planning and yearning at a time of no money in lives when those items or collections had a meaning.  Gone are those symbols and icons of a life lived.  Meaningless in themselves but representing a something.  Stuff yes but a time remembered.

Grateful always that beloveds came through.  The work begins now to rebuild with hope eternal.

 

(click on the photo to fill your screen.  That was my forest.)

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Gratitude For A Good Teacher. . . Nancy Zieman

 

Gratitude For A Good Teacher. . .

Amid all the events of these weeks,  a saddened addition for me was the knowledge that a favorite TV person of mine is retiring due to ill health.  For over 30 years Nancy Zieman ,  (Sewing With Nancy)  has been a visitor to my home.  I happened onto her program and she became a mentor in sewing for me.

She was a wondrous teacher.  Sewing was not a natural talent for me.  Everything I did was with effort and sweat.  A straight seam was never a reality.  I wobbled.  I frayed.  But I did not give up because of Nancy.  With a lifetime of obstacles,  she persevered and ended up with a business that gave work to both sides of her family and friends included.  How could a crooked seam stop me?

Recovering from the events in my life at that time,  I was taught that uniting effort in mind with hand  you consume an enormous portion of life.  Woodworking was cherished until fraught with carpal tunnel and the thought of lost digits,  so the sewing machine became the medium of choice.  Nancy showed me how to put together small pieces of fabric to make a something.  And that something was not only useful but accepted with gratitude!

Fortunate it was at that time  knit fabrics became desirable.  I became a proud owner of one of the first sergers. Nancy taught me to use it and I still do.   Difficult to thread even now but I learned.  I became queen of tee shirts and knit shorts and would never have known the joy of having a daughter say to me ‘we were already late but he threw all the pants out of his dresser and shouted that he wanted the soft pairs that grandma makes!’  And that child was overjoyed when I learned to double line the knees in the knit pants that Nancy taught.

I take pleasure in learning.  It is a joyous (sometime) way to live. She was an exceptional teacher.  She made the steps easy and I could do them.  She said there would be errors but nothing that could not be fixed.  She encouraged me to think on my own.  She showed how to do  something and I took her ideas and ran like the wind.  She taught quilting and though after 30 years I am still very primitive in my execution,  I love the art.  Because she taught me to love the process.  She taught me that my effort counted and was felt in the wearing or the looking.  How could you not love a teacher who taught that?

My age will put me there first Nancy,  but I hope there is a world that we meet.  Good teacher that you are,  I would be honored.  This is a talent that you profoundly fulfilled and I thank you. There are those whose work is undoubtedly professional,  but none would match my gratitude for what you taught me in so many ways about my efforts.  That is what is priceless.

1

Apriori. . . the twig is (already) bent. . .

 

Apriori. . .the twig is bent. . .

It’s a loaded question, this one of evolution. Ask  anyone’s definition,  they will either stutter or give  an answer that barely touches the meaning.  Mostly they will be arguing whether it is man-animal or animal-man we have in mind.  Or they do.  To confirm the statement that evolution has been stagnant in many areas,  let us look at some things.

The simple meaning of please and thank you is something everyone! they say knows.  But they don’t.  In some cultures it is unheard of for males to say please and thank you.  Or to ask for anything when they assume females should know their wants.  Not needs, but wants.  A cuff upside the head tells of their displeasure.

For some areas of the world, evolution enhances the abilities of people to conceptualize.  That is to conceive of a thought  and to be able to see it manifest.  For others, the ability is not yet evident and is outside the frame of reference.

Draw a picture, they say.  Show me what you mean.  They are unable to take the steps from point A to point B simply because the brain has not evolved  to do this task. Yet in some areas they show magnificent talents to feed themselves from local wild spaces   Knowing inherently the difference between edible and toxic plants.

There are emotions that are unknown to various peoples.  Groups arrive from worlds where emotions are unknown,  not evidenced even in the toddler.   By example they must be taught to hug and love and show some feelings.  In some even honest anger is unknown.

Mythic writings tell of worlds (Lemuria is one) where fight or flight is the way of life. Our world calls them myths but myths have weight to them when we are confronted with members who cannot face obstacles or facts that cause unrest.  We say in today’s world they are in denial,  when their inability to confront may indeed stem from the world they came from.

We know the saying that as the twig is bent, so shall it grow.  The majority assume that life after birth bends the twig.  It is long past time for us to note that there is a history to each of us apriori.  We come from worlds  that have already shaped us and continue to shape us.

This does not mean we cannot change.  Because of the example of someone we admire, or love or honor,  we by due process change ourselves.  We evolve,  we grow.  And we take giant steps.  Evolution.  We can become all that our full potential promises.

You Must Not Think. . .

You must not think
it is useless to have trudged
the overgrown path
to make a road
easier for the one to follow.

We must grow up
and put on training pants.
It is time.
We must develop discipline
to house the night’s pleasures
and discipline
to work our days.

Evolution is what the name
of the game is,
but it really is life;
a way station only to the stars,

on the way home.

 

photo  by John Stanley Hallissey

1

Worlds I Know. . . to speak of. . .

A few weeks ago there was an evolutionary find with a faceless fish.  I knew that graphic because I have what you see beside this in an October 8. 1987 journal entry.  I knew it was somewhere in my journals but there was no way I could remember where.  Last night as I was note taking I came across this.  In my night treks I have entries that depict worlds I encounter.  I will share them when I come across the entries.

From this journal entry October 8, 1987. . . .I wrote. . . There were so many exquisite dreams  or consciousness of worlds so gentle.  A Nord, a Kern,  so many little gentle  fishes and  animals shaped so strangely,  but so gentle.  These creatures were moving with their babies, scurrying every which way.  Blunt heads and tails moving.

So much is given, so much to write about but who cares.  I care and that is a beginning.  Why not create a need for something that will expand the limitations structures have given us.  Something that will move the lines out that will give my grands memories of life in other dimensions.  I cannot be certain,  but knowing who I am,  only within my structures, I can suppose what they are, carrying what I am in them.

 (the following quotes are the Teacher’s response from August 12, 1987 concerning the worlds I know. . .)  we are using what you do to the fullest extent and you will be remembering more and more of where you have been.. . The worlds you inhabit are worlds most avoid because they are unfamiliar and cause discontent and frighten.  You appear where you are needed and the one looking for you appears where you are.

They are not just one world.  There are places of beauty that still the heart.  Places of poverty that touch the living heart and strum with songs of despair that cannot but help but be heard.  There are barren places, lush places and places that speak of the mind.)

 

 (when I did the journal entry on the date, I drew the fish as I remembered them in the margins.  I copied them on the board this morning best as I could.  When I saw the graphic on Television,  I knew it right away!.  I am humbled.)

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