Entries in Deep Thoughts (38)

Friday
Feb232007

All we are saying...


When I was sixteen, I spent my spare time either looking for the least traditional prom dress possible or trying to prove how smart/cool I was by reading a lot of Hermann Hesse and Ayn Rand. Most teenagers I have known have been similarly preoccupied, differing only in their definition of 'cool' and the group of peers they are trying to impress.

Imagine my delight and wonder yesterday to find a sixteen-year-old not caught up in the trivialities of appearance and acceptance. Ava Lowery is a homeschooled girl from Alabama who spends her spare time working on her informative and heartbreaking blog, www.peacetakescourage.com. There are many anti-war web logs featuring news stories the networks are tired of covering and astute commentary thereon. Mother Jones's website, for example, this month features "Iraq 101," an excellent Cliff's Notes-style article on the particulars of the War in Iraq--highly recommended.
But what sets Ava apart (other than her age) are her homemade videos, featuring tragic photos she has pulled together from all over the web and assembled in professional and affecting fashion. Only 30 seconds of one of her more famous animations, WWJD, was enough to reduce me to a puddle of despair. But I find I don't want to sit and wring my hands any longer. I want to DO something.
Ava Lowery's pieces are not for the faint of heart or for young eyes, in my opinion. But the rest of us would do well to watch a few, then look into our hearts, get together and talk, and discover what we can do to Stop. The. Insanity.

Wednesday
Feb072007

Let Us Eat Cake



Once in a great while, I laze about in bed on Saturday morning, only getting up when other people in the house start moaning about impending starvation. Last week I got up to discover that there really wasn't anything in the house ready-made to eat. To forestall any fainting spells on the part of my housemates, I sent Patrick to the store for some Entenmann's donuts. These were wolfed down in a heartbeat once they arrived home.
Next morning on the way to church, Christian confessed to wanting more of the donuts. I answered that we could make some homemade donuts in the afternoon; he replied that his craving was specific to the Entenmann's. I reminded him what happened when Edmund ate the White Witch's Turkish Delight, and quoted C.S. Lewis from memory: "Nothing spoils the taste of good ordinary food half so much as the memory of bad magic food.”
Anyone who knows me knows that I am not anti-sugar. I do believe, though, that homemade treats trump store-bought (i.e., 'bad magic') most days of the week for several reasons. First, they taste better to all but the most process-jaded palates. James asked me the other day why his friends at school like the cafeteria food and he doesn't. I told him it was probably because they didn't get to eat really good food very often. Poor things.
Second, my Puritan roots influence me to believe that we value more highly what we work to create. My children do stop to savor the food I make, probably because they witnessed (and helped) my labors.
Of course, they balk at some things they are served. Hope has taken a dislike to corn off the cob. James can't abide fried eggs. Tess only eats beets because they make the soup a pretty pink color (and because she's not allowed to leave the table until they are gone). With this many people in our household, at least one person per day is eating something that is not his or her favorite. But not eating it simply is not an option.
Third, I subscribe to the Eastern philosophy eloquently articulated by the Maha Chohan:
"If a woman could see the sparks of light going forth from her fingertips when she is cooking and the substance of light that goes into the food she handles, she would be amazed to see how much of herself she charges into the meals she prepares for her family and friends."
Food is more than macro- and micro-nutrients, more than sustenance. It is frequently a catalyst for bonding; a part of sacred ritual; a celebration of life.
Speaking of celebrations, and good magic food--a friend at church is getting married this Saturday. Her mother, who was going to make the cake, has unfortunately gotten sick, so I was asked to step in. I'm so excited! I haven't made a wedding cake since Roselyn's wedding in Manhattan almost ten years ago (photo above).
For cakes, nothing beats The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. I've been using it for years with never-fail, mouthwatering results. I'll be making her three-tier Chocolate Butter Cake (this is the recipe I use for my Chocolate Lace Cake) and using her White Chocolate Mousseline Buttercream for the frosting. For the filling, I'll use the Magnolia Bakery's Caramel Coconut Pecan recipe. Linda wants just the minimum of piping on the cake, since her sister will be decorating it with flowers.
I was so glad to look at my calendar and see that I had nothing scheduled for Friday; the cake will take up the bulk of the day, and I will be able to proceed at a leisurely pace, unhurried by the stress of any other events. A wedding cake is and should be a labor of love, and I intend to enjoy every minute of it.

Monday
Jan012007

The valiant man and free


I love the peculiar mix of melancholy and hope that is Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem "Ring Out, Wild Bells." That's exactly how I feel standing on the cusp of the new year. New Year's Resolutions have become a painful irony in today's society; nonetheless, I continue to make them. And not just at the beginning of January--I tend to make them at the end of August as well as I contemplate the start of another school term.
Self-sabotage comes when we don't make our goals simple and reachable; more comes when we lose the vision of why we made them in the first place. I'm taking my cue from Tennyson this year. A little more kindness, a little less greed. Less feeling sorry for myself; more trying to help others. We can all do that, right?

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