Archives for December 2010

The Golden Rule – Universal Truth or Coincidence?


“As you wish that men would do to you, do so to them.” -Luke 6:31


“Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” -Udanavarga


“That which is hateful unto you, do not impose on others.” -Talmud, Shabbat 31a


“Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you.” -Mahabharata 5:1517


“Do not unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” -Analects 15:23


“No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” -Sunan

Universal truth or coincidence?  I don’t know, but for me it’s the handiest guide when I’m trying to decide if my action is the right thing to do.

Recipe for Health and Prosperity

Of course, I also dabble in the kitchen.  One of my sort-of-crafty goals is to make a recipe book for my children — our life as told through food — a cross between family history and a recipe book.  Being a southern woman, it would be mandatory to include the traditional New Years Day menu.  One (especially not a southerner) can’t hope for health and prosperity in the new year without a taste of black-eyed peas, hog jowl and collards.  Here’s my recipe for Hoppin’ John which we enjoy much more than one day a year.  The hog jowl is replaced with pancetta, and  I serve it with Swiss chard (the rainbow variety is my favorite) sauteed in olive oil, chopped garlic and a splash of vinegar.

Family Favorite Hoppin’ John

Saute 4 oz of pancetta in enough olive oil to lightly coat the pan.  When fat is rendered, add one chopped yellow onion and 4-5 chopped cloves of garlic.  Continue sauteing until onions are clear, but not browned.  Add either one can of black-eyed peas (drained and rinsed) or about 2 cups of cooked fresh black-eyed peas.  Add one cup of long grain rice along with one can of chicken broth with enough water added to the broth to make two cups. Salt and pepper to taste.  And then (this is very important!), splash on a generous amount of Tabasco.  Cover and  continue to cook for about 20 minutes until rice is tender.  Serve with greens and enjoy!

Your belly will be happy and you can look forward to a healthy and prosperous 2011.

The BEginning

As I was saying, this creative yearning has been wanting out for a long time — actually a long, long time.  I recently made a few small steps — bought a new camera, bought a new journal (added to my collection of about ten blank journals) — no real steps.  After attending a short journaling retreat with life coach — Sharon McWilliams, I began weekly coaching sessions.  I wanted to get myself organized, balanced and into a better “work” schedule before the upcoming tax season, but to my surprise, Wise Woman Sharon’s gentle encouragement has been the most wonderful jump-start for my creative self.  It’s as if she gave me permission to give myself permission to explore these creative yearnings.  The result — an unleashing of a passel of little girl selves all with their own agenda for my creative time.  Let’s take pictures — after all we just bought a new camera!  What about our Philosophy blog we’ve been dreaming of for years?  Buy paints and canvases — remember how we used to love to paint?  The journaling — we have so many beautiful journals and so many stories to write.

I started my Philosophy blog, Neglected Seeds.  I took an e-course from Kim Klassen on photo texture with Photoshop Elements. And I’m so excited with all the possibilities ahead!


Burley on my mind. . .

I loathe tobacco products and all of the grief that accompanies them.  With that said, burley tobacco has a special place in my heart and has been on my mind recently.  Can one have a fondness for one aspect and overlook the destructive side, or am I encouraging that which is harmful?

The process from seed to finished leaf has changed very little in the hundreds of years since our forefathers began growing it as a crop.  There is something “connecting” about this participation in the crop cycle.  Whether sitting on a setter on a beautiful May day, chatting with your fellow worker while keeping rhythm with the clicking of the wheel, or days later witnessing a miracle as those wilted, straggly plants rise to become a study plant.  A miracle that reminds us that we too are resilient.  All in the same manner as families and communities for generations past.

Burley is a beautiful plant — those broad green leaves topped with a most delicate pink flower.  And even more beautiful as it hangs cured in a barn; nothing compares to the rich, golden hue and earthy fragrance.  Each step of the process — just as generations before — cannot be done by one alone.  It requires community.  Burley forces one to cooperate with others.

For generations this crop has made the farm payment, or paid the taxes, or in some other way allowed the small farmer to continue with his passion.  These days are gone.  Although a few farmers still take the chance that their crop will be purchased for a fair price, most burley is moving overseas.  The economic loss is great, but also there is the loss of tradition and community.  The big empty tobacco barns a haunting sight.

When I pulled those golden leaves from the stalk in a warm, chatter filled room — enjoying participation in an age old tradition — was I contributing to the world’s suffering caused by tobacco products?