Be The Light: Of Ladybugs, Love & A Clever Little Girl

I’ve joined in a yearlong monthly event called We Are The World Blogfest.  

The purpose of this event is to highlight positive news stories, presenting them on your blog on the last Friday of the month.

This being the last Friday of April, I have a story to share with you, my gentle readers. 

* * *

THE NEWS STORY:  

Did you know that in the Jewish religion when visiting a loved one’s grave it’s customary to leave a stone on the grave?  These stones are called visitation stones.

I wasn’t aware of this tradition until I read about a girl who took it upon herself, in response to cemetery vandalism, to create some pretty hand-painted lady bug and heart visitation stones.

The complete story [found here with video] tells of 6-year-old Ayel’s response upon learning that vandals had damaged her great-great-great-grandmother’s tombstone in a St. Louis cemetery.  Ayel decided to paint some stones for herself, and for all the other families who had experienced this vandalism, as a way of showing kindness to the living– and respect to the deceased.

* * *

* * *

MY COMMENTARY:

If you took the time to watch the video, then you’ve already realized that Ayel is cuter than the bee’s knees.  I mean, how could you not love her?

That smile!

But beyond that fact I like this kid’s spirit.  She understands what happened in the cemetery and that it was a lousy thing for anyone to do.  However, instead of ignoring what happened or giving in to helplessness, she’s opted for kindness.

Ayel intuitively gets what many adults have forgotten.  She understands that creating something healing and meaningful doesn’t have to be complicated.  It just has to come from the heart.

Which, as anyone with even just an ounce of kindness in their soul knows, is a great place to start.

* * *

Share Your World | On The Deck With The Usual Suspects

~ ~ ~ ~

Re: what I mentioned last week that I was looking forward to doing. On our deck we now have a small herb + vegetable garden with the usual suspects: [l to r] Italian Oregano, Rosemary, Husky Cherry Red Tomatoes, Cute Stuff Gold Peppers, and Sweet Mint.

~ ~

• Wanting something to quench your thirst, what would you drink?

Water… or maybe Iced Tea.  Of course what is Iced Tea but Water fancied up, so my final answer, Alex, is: what is water?

• Complete this sentence:  Never In My Life Have I…. 

Wanted to go to the moon.

• If you could be given any gift what would it be?

Are we talking gift, like a present? Or are we talking gift, like a skill? Or a superpower?  I need a bit of clarification here before I can gift the world with my answer.  😉

• What do you do if you can’t sleep at night? Do you count sheep, toss and turn, or get up and try to do something productive?

I’m a good sleeper, so I rarely deal with sleeplessness.  But when I do, I lie in bed and compose blog posts in my head.  This tends to put me back to sleep almost instantly.  🙂

• Optional Bonus Question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? 

Last week’s gratitude award goes to the needy selfish people who caused me angst and trouble– which then lead me to remember one of my favorite hymns, It Is Well with My Soul.  I share a beautiful rendition of this hymn, sung a cappella by Sisters, below. In the rotunda!

This week’s looking forward to something goes to having lunch with an articulate out-of-town friend who I’ve known for year and agrees with me that most of the people who we know are whacked.  We’ll have much to talk about.  Imagine that!

 ~

~ ~

This post is part of Cee’s Share Your World Weekly Writing Challenge.

~ ~ ~ ~

[Unofficial] Share Your World | I’m Pivoting Here

{ Image via The Public Domain Review }

I’m sorry to report that Cee is ill this week so there are no official Share Your World questions for me to answer.  

This, however, will not stop me from sharing my world with you, my gentle readers.  Oh no it won’t.  

Thus I give you my answers to The Pivot Questionnaire made famous by James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio.

~ ~~ ~

1.  What is your favorite word?  

It’s a toss-up between snazzy & neat-o.  I like them both equally.  Although flapdoodle & groovy are good ones, too.  Can I get back to you on this one? 

2.  What is your least favorite word?  

Close-minded.

3.  What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Blue sky, fresh air, being outside in nature or in a city, walking or sitting, taking it all in.

4.  What turns you off?

Hypocrisy.

5.  What is your favorite curse word?

“Frostbite.”  Stated thusly because this is a PG-13 blog.  Use your imaginations and I’m sure you can figure out which F-word I’m thinking of.

6.  What sound or noise do you love?

I like the sound that the leaves make when the wind blows through the trees, resulting in a quiet rustle that, along with a few happy bird chirps, is the epitome of mellow.

7.  What sound or noise do you hate?

Donald Trump’s voice.

8.  What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

I’m fascinated with interior design, so I’ll say that.

9.  What profession would you not like to do?

Trash collector.

10.  If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Welcome! We have your favorite table waiting over here on the deck out of the direct sunlight. Now it’s chilled Sauvignon Blanc, right? And will you need to see a menu today?

~ ~~ ~

In Which I Politely Turn The Tables On The Holy Rollers

THE SETTING:

Late summer in a midwest suburb. Saturday afternoon. Beautiful clear blue sky with white clouds. Green lawn, well-tended. Leafy trees aplenty. Pink roses blooming along sidewalk up to front door. Daisies giving it their last hurrah near front door.

THE CAST:

Me, free spirit & lapsed Presbyterian

Holy Roller #1, Amy Winehouse wannabe, brandishing iPad

Holy Roller #2, Olivia Walton doppelgänger, carrying Bible

THE STORY:

When the doorbell rang I was sitting in our home study, which is on the first floor of the house, with the window open.  The women who had walked up the sidewalk could see me in the study, so I couldn’t hide from them.

I answered the door.  Reluctantly.

Amy said “hello.”  She introduced herself and her sidekick, Olivia.  They were from Jehovah’s Witnesses, dressed in black: Amy opting for the H&M cool vibe, Olivia going with the tried & true Salvation Army look.

Amy explained that they were bringing the word of God to the heathens people on my street, and could she ask me a question?

“Sure,” says I.

To which she said: “what gives you comfort?”

Without a moment’s hesitation I answered: “nature.”  Then I pointed out toward our front yard with flowers + trees– and the sky above.

My answer, immediate and honest as it was, stopped Amy.  She didn’t know what to say.

But Olivia, consummate holy roller professional, jumped right in and agreed with me: “Yes, God surrounds us all with His majesty.”

I nodded my head to show that we were on the same page here and smiled.

Nothing happened.  Neither one said a word to me.  They just stood there staring at me.

So I asked them: “Is this a poll?  Are there more questions?”

They chuckled and quickly assured me that: “Oh no.  This isn’t a poll.  There are no more questions.”

Thus giving me the opportunity to bring this unwanted conversation to a conclusion: “Well then, we’re finished here, aren’t we?  Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your mission.”

At which point I slowly shut the front door, leaving them confused by what had happened.

I mean, from their perspective they’d brought the word of God to a presumed heathen who had just got rid of them by turning the conversation around to where they admitted they had nothing more to say.

From my perspective, it was a conversation that would make Jesus and Emily Post proud.

Can I get a hallelujah?

~ ~ • ~ ~

dscn7446

~ ~ • ~ ~

Making A Good Pie: Ingenuity, Good Judgement & Great Care

My mother collected cookbooks and I still have some of them.  They provide fascinating glimpses into times gone by.  I never know what I’m going to find when I start looking through one.     

I saw the following recipe while I was glancing through The Marion County Historical Society Heritage Cookbook published [I believe] in 1975.  The Heritage Cookbook had reprinted it from an earlier cookbook.      

This recipe, with its moralizing introduction and decided lack of measurements, was originally published in 1901 in a cookbook called, Recipes Tried and True by the Ladies’ Aid Society of the First Presbyterian Church.    

~ ~ • ~ ~

“WHO DARES DENY THE TRUTH THERE IS POETRY IN PIE”

~ Longfellow

There are plenty of women capable of choosing good husbands, or if not good when chosen, or [sic] of making them good.  Yet these same women may be ignorant on the subject of making a good pie.

Ingenuity, good judgement, and great care should be used in making all kinds of pastry.  Use very cold water and just as little as possible.  Roll thin, and ALWAYS AWAY FROM YOU.  Prick the bottom with a fork, then brush with white of egg, and sprinkle with white sugar.  This will give you a firm rich crust.

For all fruit pies, prepare as above.  Stew the fruit, sweeten to taste;  if juicy, put a layer of cornstarch on top before putting on the top crust.

Be sure there are plenty of incisions in the top crust.  Then pinch the edges.

Sprinkle white sugar on top, and bake in a moderate oven.

~ ~ • ~ ~

[After a bit of research I found this: Recipes Tried and True. On Kindle. For free.]

Answering The Quaker Questions

[Please note: I updated this post August 2015 to include additional links that did not show up on my original Google search when I wrote the post in June 2012.]

•  Once upon a time Zen-Den and I joined a Presbyterian Church.  At one of the New Members Meetings we answered The Quaker Questions.  Here are the three questions:

  1. Where were you born?
  2. When you were 7 years old how did your family heat your home?
  3. What person in your real life growing up influenced you in a way that makes you who you are today?

•  Curious as always, I did a Google search on The Quaker Questions.  I figured that they were probably rather standard;  but I was wrong.  I found the following links– none of which duplicate what I’d call The Quaker Questions.

•  As you probably know I’m a firm believer in the idea that: if something works, stick with it.  Therefore I’ll be answering THE [PRESBYTERIAN-ESQUE] QUAKER QUESTIONS that were asked of me years ago.  So without further nattering, I give you my answers:

1.  Ohio

2.  Our home was an old house that consisted of two apartments, with a modern addition at the back of it.  We lived in the upstairs apartment.  The original part of the house was 100 years old and heated by a huge old clunky gas furnace in the basement that sent warmth to large hissy radiators in the rooms upstairs.

The newer part of the house, at the back of the building, had a coal-burning fireplace with a gas starter [that used a really cute little metal key that my 7 y.o. self adored & wanted for her very own.]

3.  My 10th grade English teacher had a big influence on who I am today.  She believed that everyone could write well.  She was a cheerful soul who gave me the courage to express myself on paper;  she taught me how to enjoy whatever life had to offer, knowing that later I could write it down to share with other people.

•  Care to play along?  Do so in the comments below OR on your own blog.

When A Presbyterian Decorates Her Coffee Table

~ ~ • ~ ~ 

~ ~ • ~ ~ 

Two weekends ago after we put away our holiday decorations the coffee table in the living room was looking a bit puny— despite the fact that I keep a crystal bowl filled with jingle bells on this table all year round.  [The jingle bells are from my childhood.  Remind me sometime to tell you the story of how they came to mean so much to me.]  Clearly the table needed something more on it, but I was all out of ideas.

Then a few days ago while I was shopping at the grocery store I saw a small houseplant of ivy for sale.  It looked very healthy so I bought it, brought it home and transplanted it into the first pot that I found in the garage.  However, once I got the pot inside the house I realized that it was too small for this table and that it needed some height.  So I pulled some gardening books from the adjacent bookshelves and placed the potted ivy on top of the books.

Still I wanted something more on the table, so I took the plain vanilla candle that had been in the screened-in porch all summer/fall, brought it inside and put it on the table.  Suddenly, I had a pretty look for the coffee table.  Very coordinated & cheerful.

Or so I thought at first….

~ • ~

It wasn’t until the next day when I lighted the candle and sat down in the living room to read a book that it dawned on me that I’d set up a tableau that amounted to the Roman Catholic Church’s time-honored excommunication ceremony.

“The bell represented the public character of the act, the book the authority of the words spoken by the presiding bishop.  The candle was believed to symbolize the possibility that the ban might be lifted by the repentance and amendment of its victim.  The ceremony was performed in some conspicuous place….”

~ Encyclopedia Britannica

After I stopped laughing at myself I got worried that maybe I’d really offended Someone– or some System– or some Being.  You know how I like to live a harmonious life.  So I did a bit of research about how one gets himself or herself excommunicated, and discovered to my relief that:

“The purpose of excommunication isn’t to allow you to quit or make a political statement or pursue some other private agenda. It’s to allow the church to throw you out. If you’re already out — that is, if you don’t partake of the sacraments or otherwise participate in Catholic activities… — excommunication is likely to strike church authorities as a waste of good holy water.”

~ Cecil Adams, The Straight Dope

~ • ~

Finding out that I couldn’t excommunicate myself while decorating a coffee table has set my mind to rest about this situation.  Also, considering that I’m not Catholic I figure that the authorities won’t want to waste holy water on me either.

Of course, I have to admit that upon closer self-examination during this situation, I’ve come to realize that as a [lapsed] Presbyterian I really need not worry about how I’ve inadvertently offended the Roman Catholic Church, as much as the fact that I rarely go to church.  Which I suspect is going to reflect more poorly on my character when I reach the Pearly Gates– than my accidental excommunication-themed decorating tableau.  🙂