Thursday, August 25, 2011

It all Began at Churchwide

Just got this from my Northeastern Iowa Synod office:
ELCA Hay Lift Update

Three to six semi trucks will be loaded with hay at 10 a.m. Monday, Aug. 29, at two Luana farms as part of a hay lift sponsored by the Northeastern Iowa Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The trucks will leave Northeastern Iowa on Monday for delivery on Wednesday to Texas ranchers affected by that state’s severe drought.  

The hay lift is spearheaded by Pastor Harold McMillin of St. John Lutheran (ELCA), Luana. While visiting with Texas residents at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Churchwide Assembly in Orlando, Fla., last week, Pastor McMillin learned how Texas ranchers were having to sell their herds due to a lack of food. McMillin suggested a hay lift, and the three ELCA bishops from Iowa met with three ELCA bishops from Texas to plan a joint project. They decided to designate the Northeastern Iowa Synod as a pilot synod to get the hay lift project off the ground. If this initial effort is successful, plans are for Iowa’s other two ELCA synods to organize hay lifts statewide.

So far five local farmers, including four from St. John Lutheran (ELCA), Luana, have donated hay for the project. Lutheran Disaster Response has contributed $25,000 to purchase additional hay and to pay for trucking costs. Plans are to help the ranchers have enough hay to last until they are able to have their own crops again. The biggest challenge has been finding the trucks and drivers to deliver the hay, but McMillin says that as word spreads, people have been coming forth with referrals of drivers and equipment

 I love my church.  I love my synod!
Iowa Farmers Organizing Hay Lift for Texas

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Enough with the Depressing Family Crap - Have a Pickle!

I have NEVER had so many cucumbers as this summer.  

Really there's only so much you can do with cucumbers.  But there are a lot of ways to make pickles.  I've made sweet spicy pickles (I also have a lot of jalapenos in the garden)  Today - Spicy Garlicky Pickles!

About 10 medium sized Cucumbers, quartered.  (I cut the spears in half because I didn't have quart jars and this way they fit in pint jars)
1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced
6 cloves of garlic
3 sprigs of fresh dill
1 tsp dill seed
1/2 tsp turmeric
3 tbl Kosher or pickling salt
1/4 Cup sugar
2 Cups white vinegar
Pickle Crisp Granules (optional but it does keep them from getting soggy)

Bring vinegar, 1/4 Cup water,  sugar, salt and spices to a boil.

Sterilize 3 pint jars.  Fill each with 2 cloves garlic, 1 sprig of fresh dill, 1/3 of the chopped jalapenos and 1/8 tsp Pickle Crisp.  Then pack cucumber spears in tightly.  You may or may not get ten cucumbers in the jars.  Honestly  I didn't count and it depends upon the size of the cucumber.  If you have left over cucumbers, make a salad or something. Fill the jars with the boiling vinegar mixture.  Cover cucumbers and leave about 1/4 inch space from top.  Water bath 5 minutes.

I swear my mouth is watering just writing about this but they say you should wait a couple of weeks. 

Saying Good Bye (or not) to Mom,

Mom and I, seeing my aunt off on a Cruise, around 1964

My mother is 96 and dying. 

 It's not going to be easy for her to die because she's healthy and tough.  Too mean to die, that's my Mom.  She's in California, I'm in Iowa.  The congregation I'm serving as generously given me a gift in honor of my 25th ordination anniversary early in case I wanted to use the money to go see her.  

In a different story, I would take that money, fly out to see her before she dies and we would all have "closure" and no regrets.

But that is not going to be our story.  

See, my mother never wanted me or any of her kids for that matter.  As she told us many times, in those days you had no choice but to get married and have kids.  She was a negative, critical, unhappy person.   Fortunately, I did not notice that growing up. My husband noticed it.  "I am never going out there to see her again.", He told me,  "You will have to go without me"

So I did one last time, a little less than 20 years ago.  My children were toddlers.  I never tell anyone this story because it's just so unbelievable but this is what happened.  We were staying at her house.  She was pretty irritated because my children spilled ketchup on her white tablecloth, didn't want to eat dinner at her usual time of 4 pm and they liked to watch cartoons on television.  What kind of a mother was I?  I was washing clothes and she came in to tell me how to do it.  Well you know mothers and daughters.  I rolled my eyes and said "MOM! (you know, in two syllables) I know how to use a washing machine!"

She kicked me out.  "I can't stand you.  Get out of my house"  I said I was sorry.  I cried.  I begged her not to be that way.  But she was done with me.  It was 10 at night.  I had to call a friend, pick my babies up out of their beds sleeping and leave.  And I never came back.  Not because I wasn't willing to forgive, she was not willing to forgive. 

I have an older brother and sister from another marriage. When I was younger.  I never understood until then why they never came to see her.  Now I do.

But she tolerates visits from them.  Me, she never wanted anything to do with although we have exchanged a few polite phone calls.   

I've called her a few times since she's taken to her bed trying to die.  "I love you Mom," I say, "Okay thanks for calling, goodbye," She says.  That and "Don't come visit me"

There is something wrong with her.  I know it's not me.  It took me a long time to realize that.  I used to feel guilty about messing up her life for being born but she chose to get married again, get pregnant at 43 and have me.  

Oh, yea she would tell me how everyone told her she should abort me but she didn't.   Oh how noble. Abortion was illegal,  she was not stupid, she didn't feel like dying in some back alley.   

I could make excuses for my Mom and believe me I have.  But excuses can get in the way of forgiveness.  If  it's not your fault, then what do you need forgiveness for?  

My mother had a hard life.  But she had choices.   We all have choices.  I do forgive her.  I do feel sorry for her.  I do pray she dies soon and finds some peace.   If there is a hell I'm pretty sure she's already served her time there on earth.

So I'm not going back there.  She's not going to die alone.  My sister takes a bus (because she can't afford a car) every day to go see her and listen to her complain.  My brother, who is very successful, pays for round the clock care for her in the house he bought for her.  She never says thank you, she just complains.  And she has the housekeeper she's had (paid for my brother) for 30 years.  That's who she is close to.  The housekeeper.  

Sometimes I look at how lucky she is to have all that care, to be in her own house and think "nobody is going to do that for me when I die" .  

That's right, I'm not going to die the way she is, bitter and closer to a housekeeper than her own children. 

She's had a hard life but so have I and I am not going to die like she is, only thinking of the hard things, not all the blessings and love and good things there have been along with the hard things.   

There is always something to be thankful for.

*Update - my mother died a week later on August 31, 2011.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Pepper Relish

I love pickled banana peppers.  I have a few bushes growing in my garden and they are great producers.  But the one time I tried pickling them they were pretty mushy.  So how about some relish? 

8-10 Bananna peppers
1/2  Red Onion
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1 Cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 Tsp course salt
 1  Tbl Pickling spice ( I made my own with some mustard seed, celery seed, whole cloves, cayenne pepper and turmeric.)

So I chopped half of the peppers and mixed the rest in the food processor to get a mixture of fine and more course vegetables.  I seeded the jalapeno because it came out of my garden and they are usually hotter out of the garden then from the store and banana peppers have a little heat.  I like heat but not so much that you can't taste the relish.

Bring the vinegar, sugar and spices to a boil.  Then add the vegtables and cook, stirring often for about 10 minutes.  This makes about  3 half-pints.  Water bath for 5 minutes.