Imperfection

ImperFectioN

ImperFectioN

There is comfort when we deal in absolutes and certainties. We seekers often think we must be certain about things. But our reality suggests that we are not certain at all and this becomes the beginning of the loss of faith!  It has happened to me.   To assist us the Church feels its job is to make absolute truth claims and feels very fragile when it cannot. So, faith and our religious organizations are crumbling beneath this impossible and false goal, it seems to me. What if the church is imperfect—there is nothing wrong with “not knowing” as Richard Rohr says—there is beauty and faith in imperfection.

I understand the need for clarity, some basic order, and identity but absolutes don’t work in God’s creation as I see it. The Church then needs to abandon this need to be perfect—but from the inside by using internal resources (leaders and parishioners) to self-correct. A beginner’s mind filled with humble, patient, wordless unknowing, combined with sincere curiosity, is how I have learned to restart my life. Only then was I truly teachable. Otherwise, we only hear whatever confirms our present understanding.  I have had to become teachable in my own life to begin my quest to be the much better version of myself. A human being that I can love.  From the bottom of a deep hole, I had to stop digging, become a beginner in life, and learn how to live at the age of 62.  The Church is not too old to adopt a beginner’s mind. In fact, many spiritual thinkers are giving new meaning to the Christ and I am hopeful that unlocking the door will allow this message to enter.

Without much humility, religion has cried “wolf” too many times in history and later been proven wrong.  These mistakes could have been avoided if the requirement for perfection had been abandoned. Twisting one line of Scripture to prove a point was an unjust usage of the word. The biblical text was not allowed to change us as much as many Christians would have preferred but was used to exclude and judge other people. A new way of thinking is required. I want to be part of the whole.

I choose to believe what Richard Rohr says: “God’s presence was poured into a single human being, so that humanity and divinity could be seen, then and now, to be operating as one in him—and therefore in us! But instead of saying that God came into the world through Jesus, maybe it would be better to say that Jesus came out of an already Christ-soaked world. The second Incarnation flowed out of the first, out of God’s loving union with physical creation.”  He loves me and He loves you and He loves all of creation.”

When I realized that God loved me and I was like everyone else in the Spirit, I was united with everyone and everything, even a blade of grass and it was okay not to know, I began to see myself and the world differently. I was loved and I could love even with all the imperfections that abound. I see that it truly is as St. Francis said about loving: “It is better to love than to be loved.”

I want to be loved but loving someone else and that blade of grass is much better. And all love is unconditional. At one point in my life I detested the phrase “I don’t know.”  But not knowing is preferable and my burgeoning faith keeps me in love with God and Christine and the blade of grass.

ARE YOU ANGRY?

ARE YOU ANGRY?

ANGRY MAN!

If you’re angry about the political feud (Trump v Dems) that drove the federal government to partially shut down, or about a golden parachute for a CEO who ran a business into the ground (Kraft Heinz), you aren’t alone—but you probably won’t do much about it. Folks usually respond to two types of injustices: when bad things happen to good people, and when good things happen to bad people. Human beings are reliably motivated to help when a bad thing happens to a good person, such as a hurricane devastating a town—, but only in a nominal way. When a hurricane happens, we want to help, so we give $10 to disaster relief or the RED CROSS, but we don’t try to build new houses. Even a small amount can help us feel that justice is restored.

But the converse is not necessarily true: When the universe rewards bad people despite their rotten behavior, people are usually reluctant to do anything about it, even when they’re angry at the unfairness of the situation. The forces at play in creating an unfair situation are often beyond our control or would be too costly to make the effort worthwhile. So, we stay angry, but often we settle for the hope that karma will eventually catch up.

On the rare occasions when someone does decide to act, they go for broke, spending all their resources and energy—not just a token amount—in an effort to deprive a bad dude of everything he gained unfairly. The desire to completely wipe out a bad dude’s ill-gotten gains is driven by a sense that justice will not be served until the bad dude is effectively deterred from future bad behavior, which is unlikely to be the case if the punishment is a slap on the wrist. But given the difficulty and expense associated with this response, many Americans stew in anger and hope for the best.

So, when ordinary people see bad things happening to good people, pitching in a few dollars feels good enough. Pitching in a few dollars to punish a bad person who has been unjustly rewarded, however, doesn’t cut it.  Only when people feel that their actions are guaranteed to send an effective signal to the bad person will they feel compelled to act. Since that sort of guarantee is hard to come by, most people will just stand by and wait.

The United States is an angry country.

Check out my blog

www.weaver1888.com

NUTTY BUDDY

NUTTY BUDDY

Nutty Buddy is an ice cream cone topped with vanilla ice cream, chocolate, and peanuts.

The “Nutty Buddy” was originally created and produced by the Seymour Ice Cream Company, located in the Port Norfolk section of Dorchester, Massachusetts and named after its owner, Buddy Seymourian. Seymour Ice Cream ceased operations in the 1980s.

The official Nutty Buddy is no longer produced commercially in large numbers across the United States. Its former manufacturer was the Sweetheart Cup Company, which was also the manufacturer of the machines that produced the cones; Sweetheart went out of business in 1998. One of the last manufacturers of the Nutty Buddy is Purity Dairies in Nashville, Tennessee.

Purity Dairies is a dairy company and ice cream manufacturer that provides products throughout Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, and Virginia. The company is owned by and operates as a subsidiary of Dean Foods and their products include milk, cultures, ice cream, orange juice, lemonade, tea and water, and it is one of the last distributors of the Nutty Buddy ice cream cone.

Please do not confuse the Nutty Buddy ice cream with nut butter.  Nutty Buddy Nut Butters are artisanal nut butter that is always gluten-free, vegan, dairy-free, soy-free, and free of refined sugars! Organic coconut sugar, which is unrefined and has a lower glycemic index than traditional refined sweeteners, is used to sweeten the butter. Nuts are dry roasted to emphasize their naturally sweet aroma and maintain the mineral-rich nutrients your body needs. No palm oil or artificial additives are used at all- it’s just naturally delicious!

My favorite way to enjoy nut butter is spreading it on toast with banana & cinnamon or just eating it straight out of the jar! There are endless options when it comes to nut butter: make a nut butter & jam sandwich, savory pasta, sweet cookies, and more. Anyone can make a nut butter if you can grind the nuts. I love Almond Butter and you can grind your own at the Roanoke Co-op or Fresh Market.

Nutty Buddy is also the name of a well-known athletic cup that was invented and patented by Mark Littell after he learned that nearly 50% of his athletes refused to wear athletic cups because they said that the only available cups were uncomfortable and restrictive. He created a premier athletic cup with a patented design that is anatomically shaped to conform to the male body providing unprecedented levels of comfort and protection. After all, the most important thing is to “protect the boys”. The patented Nutty Buddy has won multiple awards for its comfort, design, and protection and has become a staple for athletes all over the world. Nutty Buddy’s safety gear protects the boys while playing baseball, softball, ice hockey, field hockey, lacrosse, football, martial arts, paintball or other contact sports. Nutty Buddy is now expanding their market into the law enforcement and military fields by creating the world’s first ballistic cup!

The patented Nutty Buddy Ballistic Cup is essential protective equipment that is required when entering a hostile environment. It is designed to protect the groin against bullets, fragments, and other impacts. The Nutty Buddy Ballistic cup follows the same anatomical design as the original Nutty Buddy. This design allows the cup to shape to the body to deliver comfort, and in addition, there is a “tail” that resides between the legs to center the cup during activity and provide protection under the groin area.

I bring this to your attention for several reasons. I find it fascinating that there is such a vast array of items that use the name, Nutty Buddy.  But there should be no confusion about the product that our community is fearful is going to be rationed.

Several ladies were talking in our Grille (at my senior residential community) about the lack of Nutty Buddys in the display freezer.

Alice was sitting in her motorized chair talking to Eloise.  “I have seven of them in my basket. I’m going to put them in my freezer.”

Eloise replies, “We won’t have to use them until next week. I have five in my freezer. That’s one for you, one for Maggie, one for Janet and a fifth one if Joycelyn shows up.”

“Great! We can use mine next week on Friday.”

“Don’t give up. I was told that another box was found in the central freezer.  Since I have the last seven in the cooler, they’ll probably bring out more. We’ll need to check tomorrow and the next day.”

“Let’s just get five at a time. We don’t want to create suspicion.”

Alice gets this devious smile on her face and says, “maybe we can corner the market and have a Nutty Buddy auction.”

They smiled and departed. 

This truly happened!!

Or maybe I just imagined it!! Nope! You can’t make this stuff up.

THREE RECIPES

Three Recipes

Here are three recipes for excellent winter delights that I have prepared.  For that reason alone, they are clearly simple to fix, but they are so good.

Chicken Soup with a Twist

INGREDIENTS

  • 1pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 9-11 cups low sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 15 oz can canneli beans, rinsed and rained
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
  • 1 tsp EACH dried parsley, dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp EACH dried oregano, dried thyme, salt, pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • dash- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 10 uncooked lasagna noodles broken into approx. 1-2-inch pieces
  • 2-3 cups half and half (may sub fat free evaporated milk)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)
  • 10 oz chopped frozen baby spinach, thawed
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Garnish with shredded mozzarella cheese

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large Dutch oven/soup pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until almost cooked through. Remove to a plate.
  2. Melt butter with 2 tablespoons olive oil in the now empty pot and heat over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots and cook, while stirring, for 3 minutes. Add bell pepper and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Sprinkle in flour then cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes (it will be thick).
  3. Turn heat to low and gradually stir in 8 cups chicken broth. Whisk 3 tablespoons cornstarch with 1 cup additional chicken broth and add to soup. Stir in chicken, beans, chicken bouillon, and all remaining herbs and spices. Stir in lasagna noodles.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until lasagna noodles are tender, stirring occasionally so noodles don’t stick to bottom (approximately 20-30 minutes).
  5. Turn heat to low, discard bay leaf and stir in half and half, optional heavy cream and spinach and warm through. Stir in 1 cup Parmesan cheese until melted. Stir in additional half and half or broth if desired for a less “chunky” soup. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Garnish individual servings with the desired amount of cheese.

BEEF STEW FOR COMFORT

This beer and horseradish beef stew is the definition of pure comfort food!  Cooking it in the slow cooker makes for the most tender pieces of beef and veggies with a rich, silky sauce!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 – 2 1/2 lbs. boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1-2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 12 oz dark stout beer (I usually use Guinness)
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/4 lb baby Yukon gold potatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh sage, minced
  • 2 Tbsp beef base (better than bouillon)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1-2 Tbsp prepared horseradish
  • 1 Tbsp softened butter
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Season beef pieces with 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt and 1 tsp black pepper.  Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet over MED-HIGH heat until shimmering, then add beef in a single layer (you may have to do this in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan).  Brown on all sides, about 1-2 minutes per side, then turn off heat.  Remove beef to slow cooker.
  2. Pour beer and broth into hot pan and stir to loosen any browned bits.  Let sit for a few minutes while you add other ingredients.
  3. Add carrots, parsnips, potatoes, onion, garlic, sage, beef base and tomato paste to slow cooker with the browned beef.  Pour beer/broth mixture from the skillet into the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on LOW for 7 – 7 1/2 hours.
  4. Mix together butter and flour to form a pasty ball.  Remove lid, add horseradish and butter/flour mixture, stirring well.  Cover and continue cooking another 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Taste, and add additional salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve!

RECIPE NOTES

If your stew gets a lot of fat particles at the top after cooking, either skim it with a spoon or remove beef and veggies to a bowl, then pour liquid through a strainer into the bowl with the beef and veggies.

PECAN PIE

Even bad pecan pie is good!!

INGREDIENTS

  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup light corn syrup or maple syrup
  • ½ cup butter melted
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 1 cup pecan halves or pieces
  • 1 unbaked pie crust

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Add granulated sugar and eggs to a large bowl. Whisk together until well-combined. Add in corn syrup, melted butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir in pecan halves and pour into unbaked pie crust.
  2. Place in oven and bake 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your oven. A piece of foil may be placed over the top for the last few minutes of baking to prevent the edges of the crust from becoming over brown.
  3. You’ll want to make sure that the center of the pie does not jiggle a great deal when you move the pie pan slightly. If it does, leave it in the oven for about 5 more minutes and test again, repeating every 5 minutes or so until it just barely has any movement in the middle. It will continue to firm up once removed from the oven and cools. Also, if you touch the center of the pie, it should slightly spring back to the touch. The more you make it, the more you’ll have an eye for when it is just right to remove from the oven and not overbaked or under baked. You may place a piece of foil over the top for the last few minutes of baking to prevent the edges of the crust from becoming too brown. Enjoy!

 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE CRUST

  1. Butter a 9-inch pie plate or skillet and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening and butter with a pastry blender or two forks until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
  3. Gradually add enough ice water to the mixture while mixing with a wooden spoon until a ball of dough is formed.
  4. Pour the dough onto a lightly floured sheet of plastic wrap and form into a disc. 
  5. Lightly flour the top of the pie dough and place another sheet of plastic wrap on top. Rolling from the center, roll until the dough is about a 1/8-inch thickness. Remove the top piece of plastic wrap, fold the dough over and lay across the pie plate and remove the bottom piece of plastic wrap. Press the pie dough lightly into the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Cover the pie plate with a piece of the plastic wrap and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes to overnight.
  6. If pre-baking, use a fork and lightly prick the bottom and sides of the pie dough. Then preheat the oven to 425º F and bake the pie crust for about 8 minutes.
  7. If not pre-baking, simply fill the pie crust with pie filling and bake according to instructions for the pie recipe.

OR

  1. Buy a nice pre-made pie crust at the grocery store.

THE VALUE OF A BUSINESS

I am part of a microcosm that supports big business. I utilize Facebook as a convenient communication apparatus to keep up with friends and family both near and in distant places. Amazon is for stuff ranging from cat food to books and is a source of entertainment with the Fire Stick and Alexa. I have an iPhone, although it is a 5s.  I use Netflix for TV watching and Google plus Google Chrome for surfing the net.  I feel I should be using local businesses and I truly felt good about buying Virginia Diner peanuts at Northwest Hardware. BUT when the guy behind me got upset because the cashier was taking too long, I insisted he go ahead of me.  He was a bit embarrassed but moved ahead of me anyway. It was aggravating. This doesn’t happen at Amazon.

Which takes me to Christmas and the Hallmark Channel.  The town of Hollyvale, North Dakota is very typical of a Hallmark location and the Christmas Spirit in the digital age is a moving topic. What strikes me about this program and others is how business-centric they seem to be.  Though there are other types of plots, a common theme is that there is some business, or a town filled with businesses that revolves around Christmas and is enjoyable for the townsfolk but relatively unprofitable.  The characters have to find a way to make the business viable, in this case by helping Kate Harper, a national news reporter, find her Christmas spirit and draw people to the town. You can’t turn this plotline over to a soulless corporate operator who will lay everyone off and destroy the essential character of the town.  Typically, this involves teaching someone the true meaning of Christmas and the special value added to a company by longtime employees who put their hearts into their work.

A FAANG company would maximize profits by automating the bakery and relocating production to a central facility in Illinois. The ski lodge would be renovated, and new management would be brought in.  Of course, the toy store would close.

But the characters in this movie find a way to generate some minimum profit that’s enough to keep things running while providing steady jobs for devoted employees and special memories for customers. Plus, they find the Christmas Spirit for Kate Harper by reuniting her with Jack Brewster, her special friend, and her estranged father.  And that’s the happy ending. I cried a little.

The goal is to create a sustainable business that meets the needs of the various constituents without making anyone wealthy, just happy.  Too me, this is a noble goal.

I asked myself a question—what does this storyline mean? One possibility is that the Hallmark movies are a “true” reflection of our culture and of natural human values. We know that capitalism drives resources to their best use and this does not benefit everyone. Is Shareholder driven capitalism bad for people, even unnatural.? The role of business schools, as well as CPA, CFA and CFP training programs, are to indoctrinate young people in this unnatural value system just as the role of military boot camp is to get young people to overcome their natural instincts and run toward the fighting.

I suppose another possibility is that there are many folks who think about shareholder-value capitalism as synonymous with democracy and do not worry about the discriminatory aspect. I have come to believe that the role of Hallmark movies is to indoctrinate people in the unnatural part of the capitalist system. I like the idea of a small town filled with people who have a common purpose such as finding the Christmas Spirit or peace on earth or love for each other.

GRIPS, GAFFERS, &; Best BOYS

GRIP, GAFFERS, & BEST BOYS

I love movies. My beloved and I watch at least two movies a week.  We recently watched The Kominsky Method and Mr.Roberts, a movie starring Kevin Kostner playing Kevin Kostner, but using the surname Roberts.  As always, I waited for the credits to see the names of the Key Grip, the Gaffer, and the best boy.  Christine asked what these folks did on a movie set and I could not give her a coherent answer.  This happens a lot when I don’t know what I’m talking about but should.

Grips are technicians critical to the making of a film. They have two primary functions.  They support the camera department, particularly if the camera is mounted to a dolly, a crane, or assumes an unusual position such as hanging from a helicopter on one of those James Bond sequences.  A dolly grip specializes in operating camera dollies or camera cranes so that mobility is enhanced. Grips work closely with the electrical department to create lighting set-ups for a shot or sequence under the leadership of the Director of Photography.

The key grip is the leader of the grip gang. He supervises the building and maintenance of all the equipment that supports cameras.  This includes tripods, dollies, tracks, jibs (a boom type device), cranes, and static rigs. This equipment uses heavy duty parts but is quite delicate. It requires a high level of experience to operate and move.  The assemblage of the equipment is based on meticulous specifications for virtually every scene in a movie.  These guys push, pull, mount or hang cameras and equipment from a variety of settings including a basic tripod or the mounting of a camera on a 100ft. crane.

Where did the use of the term grip come from?  In the 30s-40s, the slang for a tool bag was a grip. But the explanation I like the best is the notion that during the days of the hand-cranked camera, several guys had to hold onto the legs of the tripod to keep the camera steady. The director always wanted the fellows with the “good grip” and it stuck.

A gaffer is the head electrician on a film set. If it has to do with lighting, the gaffer oversees it. The term originally related to the movement of overhead equipment controlling lighting with a gaff, a long pole with a hook on the end. Deep-sea fishermen also use gaffs.

The gaffer must have a mastery over the vast array of lights, lighting equipment and lighting techniques required for a particular film.  In turn, this demands a knowledge of the set, script, and the inclinations of the director.  The gaffer has the responsibility for making certain that all lighting workers are up to speed on all the changes being made and are working well with other members of the crew. The lighting crew has to be constantly available even if that means working 18-hour days. The gaffer has to make sure the team meshes well by avoiding accidents and short tempers.

Best boys are responsible for the day-to-day operations of the lighting department. Their many responsibilities include the hiring, scheduling, and management of the crew; renting equipment; workplace safety and maintaining discipline within their department; completing time cards and other paperwork; planning and implementing the lighting or rigging of locations, and coordinating with the photography unit. He is the second-in-command to the key grip.  On large film crews, the gaffer also has a best boy.

The term “best boy” most likely originated as a term for a master craftsman’s most able apprentice.

The next time you are watching a movie look for the name of the key grip, the gaffer, and best boy. These are the guys that make it happen.  It will mollify your need to be totally satisfied with the two hours spent gazing at a screen. Kevin Coster just plays Kevin Costner.