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On the day of a verdict

Poetry, offered as prayer, that captures what my soul feels…

A verdict means to say the truth.
A judge and jury, in this case, convicted an executioner.
May the truth we say always be
that black lives matter
that justice is more important than order
that militarization of police hurts us all,
and we have a lot more work to do.

Some days, the world seems to wake up,
even just a little bit - 
still groggy, still bleary-souled,
asking us to notice the glimmers of hope
shining through this weary world.
We need to keep waking up, again and again.

Sometimes,
guilty is the glimmer we need
to keep doing the work
and saying the names
of George Floyd, of Sandra Bland, of Emmett Till,
and countless other sacred names,
speaking them with reverence as speaking the name of the holy,
until we can all breathe.

    Rev. Luke Stevens-Royer, April 20, 2021

Other items of interest · Travel

Underfoot

BeckyB’s “Brightly Coloured” post featuring an earlier photography of a mosaic octopus in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park offered an inspiration for sunny textures under my feet.

Travelogue:

  • Chişinău, Moldova – October 14, 2018
  • Parco Ciani, Lugano, Ticino, Switzerland – September 4, 2018
  • Chinese Garden, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – July 7, 2017
Other items of interest · Travel

Water – Travel – Squares

Mirroring an earlier installment for this quarter’s Squares Challenge by BeckyB — This time from my travels as near as Wisconsin and as far as Italy with water made bright as sunlit waves break on a rocky shore, from a high vista over the river and even higher clouds filter sunlight on the Trans Canada Highway , or white rapids on two rivers half-a-globe apart at sunset.

Travelogue:

  • Lake Superior along the Minnesota shore – 2013
  • Columbia River above Revelstoke Dam, British Columbia, Canada – July 9, 2017
  • Pozza di Fassa, Italy (in the Dolomite mountains) – September 6, 2018
  • Chippewa River from the High Bridge in Eau Claire, Wisconsin – May 6, 2016
Other items of interest · Reading

Another Minnesota Shooting

The news that a Brooklyn Center police officer fatally shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop Sunday afternoon haunts my thoughts this week.  There is a shocking dissonance in this spring time, this vaccination time, when we should be focusing on new beginnings as the sun shines longer, crocuses offer a burst of color and vaccinations rates are increasing, that we are once again facing the ugly underbelly of an unjust society.

Last summer, I was appalled by the sinful video footage showing George Floyd’s murder on a Minneapolis street.  After the death of so many black men and, as we know from the shooting of Breonna Taylor in her own home, the shooting of black women, I wondered, how can this happen?  With those first thoughts of outrage I wanted to place responsibility for what we as a society were becoming on the rhetoric of the past four years.  But life is not that simple.  I knew we did not simply become a racist society with the results of one election.  I recognized that it was only as the hateful rhetoric went viral and the incidents of violence against People of Color went virtual that I became increasingly aware of what is and what has always been a dramatic difference between my safe white environment and threatening world faced daily by People of Color.

I did take some hope that we may have reached a tipping point last summer as people across the world spontaneously marched.  White celebrities sat down with Emmanuel Acho for Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black ManLewis Hamilton wore a Black Lives Matter t-shirt on the starting grid and on the winner’s podium even as racers sprayed champagne.  And, Formula 1 cars now carry a #WeRaceAsOne logo as a visible display of a new “initiative aimed at tackling the biggest issues facing the sport and global communities – the fight against COVID-19 and the condemnation of racism and inequality.”

Over the past seven months, our Common Read at church delved into the hard and realistic truth that the injustice playing on our screens again this week is not new but is as old as the country itself.  As we read, we were reminded with each well crafted paragraph, each page we turned that injustice is deeply woven into the fabric of our society.  That violence happens every day.  We need only look to other April days to recall shocking events: 

  • April 1873 – A white mob massacred an estimated 150 Black voters over the results of a hotly contested gubernatorial election;
  • April 1956 – Four white men attacked signer Nat King Cole while he was on stage performing for a white audience;
  • April 1968 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

Earlier, I blogged about one of our Common Read titles, a powerful anthology, A Good Time for the Truth:  Race in Minnesota.  It is an eye-opening collection of personal stories shared by 16 Minnesota authors of Color that sheds light on life in our state and in our time.  In the book’s introduction, poet Sun Yung Shin, who edited A Good Time for the Truth, offers both a challenge and words to help guide us.

Good people need to take action continuously, and I would say daily, until [racism] is dismantled.  Because lives are at stake, every day; on sidewalks, in doctor’s offices, in the waiting room of the bank, and, most importantly, in classrooms.

I believe we can do it.  I know I am not alone in this conviction.

People of color and Indigenous people know with a specific, agonizing intimacy that racism was constructed and upheld by white society (in spaces such as the police precinct, the courtroom, school board meetings, newsrooms, Hollywood studios, mortgage loan offices, and everywhere power has resided in America) in order to confer unearned advantages on white people.  It is as simple as that.  It’s not a law of nature.  It’s culture.  It’s something we made, invented, maintained.  Since it was made, like a vast machine, it can be unmade, and it must. ...

Change is necessary.
Other items of interest · Travel

Squares Challenge: Bright with BeckyB

While following BeckyB of Winchester in the WordPress blogosphere, I became intrigued by her Squares Challenge.  The directions are simple:  Post a photographic square every day, or once a week, or even just occasionally.  Her April theme is Bright with a definition covering a wide spectrum of adjectives “sparkling, polished, shining, clever, cheerful, colourful, astute, brilliant, sunny, glorious, translucent, distinct and clear.”  Inspired by her Bright and Early in Portuguese Moments on April 1, I’ve selected a small collection of far and wide travel pictures some on sunny days and others just capturing the bright wonder of the moment.

Travelogue:

  • Cathedral of God’s Mother’s Birth at the Curchi Monastry, Orhei, Moldova – October 15, 2018
  • Phoenix Botanical Garden – March 23, 2019
  • Lake Como, Bittersweet National Forest, Montana – May 17, 2017
  • Westminster Abbey, London – October 12, 2018
  • Chicago – June 18, 2019
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Shoulda been…

It is March and we have been in pandemic quarantine for a year.  For me, our world shifted on March 15.  I know others may mark a slightly earlier day of that same week, but I started counting on a “Sabbath Sunday”.  That first day when we stayed home with a Covid purpose, treating Sunday as if it was a snow day, without gathering at church but still creating quiet time for reflection and meditation.

Like others, I could not have envisioned I would be writing this post 365+ days later.  Our Covid journey has been varied.  Days when it simply felt right to be home and other times when anxiety took hold in my temporal lobe and I wondered would it ever be safe to be together.  Now, with the first vaccines in our systems and second doses coming next week, I am starting to think beyond our small Kutzky Park environ, especially today when we shoulda been celebrating John and Hannah’s wedding in person rather than online.  Maybe we will all gather for an anniversary party next year but, in the meantime, Lynn Ungar’s poem, written as we went into lockdown, still offers sustenance.

Pandemic
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
 
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
 
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
 
–Lynn Ungar 3/11/20

Other items of interest

Waffles + Mochi

Continuing her quest to encourage kids (and adults too) to explore and enjoy healthy food, Michelle Obama is launching a new adventure with her puppet friends Waffles + Mochi.  They will travel the world to find just the right ingredients and, along their way, meet new friends that viewers will certainly recognize — Chef José Andrés, Common, Jack Black and more.  Just a quick view of the promotional trailer will have you smiling and looking forward to meeting Waffles + Mochi on the March 16 Netflix debut. 

Art · Other items of interest

Missing Lunch

Pressed Leaf by K. Lindsay, 2020

February 20, a year ago, was the last time I had lunch with the friends I dub my Art Group.  We were in that in-between time.  Corona virus was already in our vocabulary.  We had made the definitional change from epidemic to pandemic.  We had friends or family in parts of the world or on either coast that we were worried about but, in our small corner of Minnesota, Covid-19 still felt distant.  We were still a month away from our first statewide lockdown.  That day, as always, the food and libations were delicious and the company even better but little did we know as we set a March date for our next Ladies Night Out Lunch that it would simply slip by in a flurry of social distancing, masks and sanitizing wipes.

Over the years, I have self-described as the voyeur among this talented group of women all of whom were or still are SEMVA artists.  Despite being the odd duck without any artistic training (although I did get A-s in my art appreciation college classes) I was always enthralled by the intriguing discussions about gouache and pastels, resists and French dyes, plein air and pallet knives.  When I was still working, it was such a treat not to talk about library politics and, believe me, librarianship can be filled with intrigue.  In my retirement world, lunch with my Art Group was always inspirational and nudged me to explore new fibers and different knitting patterns.  Plus, what is not to like (and certainly miss!) when people appreciate the newest project off my needles.

While missing my lunch companions, I enjoyed a touch of Covid humor shared by a friend. This math word-problem is a spot on description for the year just ending and how 2021 is shaping up:

If you’re going down a river at 2 MPH and your canoe loses a wheel, how much pancake mix would you need to re-shingle your roof?

Art · Other items of interest

Caradori Kintsugi

A number of years ago, a friend described the Japanese art of Kintsugi in her opening words on a Sunday morning.  Amazing to think that in this all too quick to pitch, always buy new consumer world, there are those whose art focuses on the broken, carefully recreating that which was valuable and making it even more beautiful by re-assembling it with precious metals.

I am sure I must have passed ancient porcelain repaired with gold or platinum in the Asian Art collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) but nothing immediately comes to mind.  Although, to be honest, we frequently walk the long corridor dividing period rooms without careful study simply because it is the most direct route to our timed entrance to tour a featured exhibit.

One day, while visiting Caradori Pottery for bowls to give as wedding presents, I indulged my love of pottery and treated myself. Unlike a piece of pottery broken by use, this vibrant green glazed bowl had developed a small crack during firing.  Rather than reject this beauty, David, artfully filled the gap with 24K gold.

Baking · Other items of interest

Clara’s Cashew Cookies

The recipe card reads Cashew Cookies but I always add the extra nomenclature in honor of the gracious hostess and great baker who, years ago, sent me on the road with a fresh batch of these sweet treats.  I don’t usually make them.  My cookie baking tends towards the quick, crunchy kind without the extra step of frosting.  Plus, this frosting calls for browned butter requiring extra vigilance since butter can go from nutty caramel to burnt in just those few seconds when you look away from the stove.

And, of course, there is a story with this recipe — In 1978, I had been invited to teach a summer storytelling class at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.  At the time, I was working as a school librarian and going to Library School at UW-Madison.  The chance to teach at the academic level, even if only for a week, would have been a great additional to my resume.  However, I was seriously considering declining the offer simply due to the math.  Even though I would be totally responsible for developing the curriculum, teaching unsupervised and managing all the required paperwork I would only receive an un-degreed TA (teaching assistant) stipend.  By the time I covered a week’s expenses – motel, meals, gas and maybe a glass of wine or two – I would be paying the university for the experience.  Then a friend connected me with a retired parish housekeeper who loved to host short term guests.  It was like a private B&B as Clara baked fresh pastries each morning and when I left at the end of the week she gave me a “care package” for the long (90 mile) journey from LaCrosse to Eau Claire.

And yes, those with a discerning eye will note it is a pistachio and not a cashew atop each cookie as I claim a baker’s prerogative to modify the recipe so these are made with chopped pistachios.