Mince pies and history

kanzensakura:

This is a beautiful post and especially at this time of year when thoughts of our beloved who are gone, but certainly remembered. I hope it resonates with you all as well. Please go visit Sue and her lovely small dog Ani. You will Bo so glad you did!,

Originally posted on Daily Echo:

David Emile Joseph de Noter (1818-1892), A Maid In The Kitchen

David Emile Joseph de Noter (1818-1892), A Maid In The Kitchen

I managed to resist a whole ten minutes… my guest won’t really want a whole dozen after all… eleven will do…

I may have mentioned that I have a bit of a thing for mince pies. Especially home-made ones. Especially mine.

I know, I know… but I do make good pastry…

My great grandmother was the first one to teach me to bake so my skills date back to her… and through her to her mother. Great Granny was born in 1892 … her mother in 1869… and their Victorian, and more importantly, Yorkshire culinary skills were passed to me.

Great granny taught her own child and granddaughter to bake and they taught me too. So generations of knowledge came down to ‘keep your hands cold and handle it as little as possible’ as far as pastry was concerned…

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Peace: Let it begin with someone else…

Quote by Albert Einstein picture from WikiImages public domain

Quote by Albert Einstein
picture from WikiImages public domain


“Peace can become a lens through which you see the world. Be it. Live it. Radiate it out. Peace is an inside job.”
Wayne Dyer,Woman’s Day Magazine, Jun. 1, 2007

Peace….one of the aspects of Advent. In order to have peace, true peace, let us suspend some of our prejudices. Let us start with the words God, father, brother. If you let these words stop you cold and turn off your mind, you’ve already stopped the process of peace. You are letting Peace begin with someone else.

We all want peace but we can’t have it in ourselves, in our lives, in our homes, in the places we live, in the world until we open ourselves to it – until we clear our brains and hearts of words that stop us from listening to the thoughts of other people, to the beauty around us, to living in the moment instead of living in a small place called Prejudice.

it’s okay if you don’t believe in God of any kind. It’s perfectly fine if you’d rather say Sister, Mother, Goddess. As long as you say and live and promote peace, you are fine. And once you skip over all the gobblegook, psycho-babble, labels  – you come to the end of the road that says: The End. That’s it, the end. Turn around in a different direction. Open your mind and your heart. Share those dreams of peace. Start anew.

But…but…why can’t somebody do something about…..???? Why can’t YOU do something about….??? Until peace truly begins within, it can’t spread to others. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with…..ME.

Blessings to you all.  Let there be peace on earth and goodwill to all.

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The Smell of Home: A true Christmas story

a slice of sweet potato pie

a slice of sweet potato pie (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

NOTE:  I originally posted this in 2012.  We all have stories and memories that are part of the fabric of our lives.  This is one of those stories.  It happened about 10 years ago on a cold, sleety day in December as I was making my way to be with my mama for Christmas.

 

I’m sorry.  This might be a little long for some of you, but I hope you will read.  I was born and raised in the South and except for occasional sojourns on Long Island, Philadelphia, London, Tokyo, and San Francisco, I have lived in the South.  I grew up in a neighborhood close to the Duke east campus.  People had lived there in the same homes for generations.  We knew each other, knew all the stories about each others’ ancestors, who had converted their sleeping porches and when and when finally (we were among the last) who sold their portion of the mews and sent their last horse to live with relatives in the country.

In 1965, the impossible happened – the Pollard family next to us, finally died out.  The house was sold to strangers – maybe even folks from up North!!!  Of course, if they were connected to Duke, it might be okay.  Imagine everyone’s surprise when an African-American family moved in.  Well, nobody moved from the neighborhood or did any nastiness; after all, that Greek family had moved in a couple of streets over and nothing bad had happened.  In fact, they organized block parties and gave away thousands of Christmas cookies!!!

The McGill family consisted of the father Richard, his wife Arlene and sons – Junior (my age) and Bob. Mr. Mc and my dad became instant and best friends.  The two sons kept to themselves and Mrs. Mc considered us all a bunch of jumped up no accounts because after all, she was descended of long standing upper class Creole families in N’awlins, so there!

About three weeks before the McGill’s first Christmas in Trinity Park, the neighborhood was permeated with the most delicious, spicy, mouth watering odor.  It was slightly familiar, but better – richer and headier.  I took it upon myself to go through the hedge and knock on the McGill’s back (kitchen) door.  Mr. Mc himself answered and greeted me with a huge smile and welcome on in.  I looked in amazement – covering every surface in the kitchen and the dining room beyond, were sweet potato pies.  The kitchen was warm from the ovens (like us, he had two stoves – a gas and a wood burner).  My eyes were huge and I looked at him and without having to ask, he said, “Sweet potato pies. Every year, our church has a fund raiser to provide clothing, food, toys, rent, whatever for the needy in our parish.  I bake 100 pies for sale and I do that because I bake the best. I am the king of sweet potato pies.”

“Here’s one that is a little ugly and I was going to cut a slice and have with a cup of coffee. Want some?”  “Yes sir, I surely do.” and we proceeded to sit and eat and chat.  I discovered why my dad just loved him – funny, erudite, gentle, kind, generous….I fell in love with himself.  “That is THE best sweet potato pie I have ever had. How do you make it?”  His eyes twinkled at me and said, “Won’t tell you, it’s a secret.”  And from then until I left for college, sweet potato pie and coffee became a yearly tradition with us.  Sometimes we were joined by Junior who like his dad, was quite a cook.  Like his dad, big, gentle, kind, and funny.

Years later, I was living in Philadelphia.  One morning, I received a call from my mother.  My papa was in hospital and it was not going to be good.  I dropped everything and caught the first flight home.  All the way, I was  truly a wreck.  I jittered in my seat, bit my nails, thought about a future that did not include my father.  I wondered who would pick me up from the airport.  Papa always did.  I came to the baggage area and there was Mr. Mc waiting for me.  when I saw him, I began crying and he folded his big self around me and held me tight.  We grabbed my bag and went to the car.  In the car, as he was driving me home, he handed me his handkerchief and said, “Let me tell you how I make my sweet potato pie. But remember, it’s a secret and you can’t tell.”

My father died. I don’t remember much about the events of the days.  I choose not to.  Hidden in a blur of an unmended heartbreak, those memories will remain that way.

One thing I have learned in past years, is this:  Don’t fight with God. He always wins.  And when he tells you to do something, don’t argue, just do it and save yourself a lot of time, trouble, and stupid. More years later:  I was driving down a lonely stretch of Rt. 360 to go visit my mom.  It was a bleak, wet sleety day.  On the side of the road, a black van was pulled over with the hood up.  Two huge men were standing beside the van looking into the bowels of the vehicle and looked up hopefully as I drove past.  God says “Go back and help them.”  and of course, I argued.  it’s desolate, I don’t know them, they’re big, blahblahblahblah.  God says, “Go back and help them.”  and He said this several times.  About two miles down the road, I pulled over and just gave up.

“Alright already. I’ll do it.  But I’m just going to put my window down a bit and ask if they need help.”  God says, “Whatever. Go back.” I u-turned and headed back.  I pulled beside the van and inched my passenger window down.  The largest man leaned down and looked in the window.  Suddenly, he said, “Kanzen?”   I looked closer – “Junior?”.  Immediately I unlocked my car door and he climbed in.  “We need help. I’m on my way to Clarksville to preach a funeral and the van just stopped.  I can’t get a call through either.”  No good coverage in that area…”I go right past that funeral home. Y’all get in and I’ll have you there shortly.”

As we rode to Clarksville, the associate pastor crammed into my small back seat and Junior with the passenger seat back as far as it would go and our shoulders touching each other like old friends.  We talked about the past years to catch up.  Mr. Mc had died two years earlier. I told Junior how grieved I was to hear this.  “y’know Kanzen.  it’s hard and this time of year, it is just harder.  The house don’t smell right.  I know you understand.”  I nodded.  I did indeed understand.  “I’ve tried to fix those pies, but they aren’t right.  Mom lives with us now and she has talked about how she misses Dad. How she would love to smell one of his pies, just one more time.”

I sat in silence for a couple of miles.  I thought of my papa.  I thought of Mr. Mc and his grieving son beside me.  I smiled and though I had tears in my eyes, I turned to him.  “Junior, I know how to make your dad’s pie.  He told me when papa died.  I’ll tell you, but it’s a secret. You can’t tell anyone.”  and I began to tell him the secret of Mr. Mc’s sweet potato pie.

A couple of weeks later, I received a note in the mail.  “The house smells like home.  The home smells right.  God bless you.  Merry Christmas.”

And no, I’m not going to tell you.  It’s a secret.  Merry Christmas and God bless you. May your home be filled with love and joy and making of memories for your heart.

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Sunday Sky

copyright kanzensukra

copyright kanzensukra

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All the earth rejoice – It’s Christmas

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One of the candles for advent is Joy.  This is not your average Christmas video.  I like it because it is so happy and makes me want to dance, even when my heart is heavy or I feel overwhelmed with commercialism.  Why I celebrate Christmas.

“Born unto us this day a Saviour
Gifted from heaven to a manger
The hope of the world
A light for all mankind
All of the earth rejoice
It’s Christmas time

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas

Goodwill to all the earth
And peace divine
All of the earth rejoice
It’s Christmas time
It’s Christmas time

So lift up your voice and sing out His praise
It’s Christmas
Born is the King, rejoice in the day
It’s Christmas
Make a joyful sound
It’s Christmas
Let His praise resound
It’s Christmas”

Hillsong, Scott Ligerwood, Matt Crocker

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The Walk II – The Heron

Gray rainy day,
Steady drops changed his Umbrella into a drum.
Rain, plops of drops
Around them.  No conversation
But man and woman agreed – the hill.
They both walked to the
Cherry trees at the top of
the hill, rain spattered pond below.

The grey heron stood
In the pond blithely ignoring
The falling rain.
Knowing him well, the woman
Balanced herself down the slope
To stand on the rock
That reached out
Into the small pond. The heron
Stood still, waiting for
The bread she held in
Her hand.  They’ve done this before.
Bread dropped and floated on
The water bobbing
Before he quickly scooped it up
With his long bill. 

The man at the top of
The hill laughed in delight but
Halted at her upright
Hand.  “He doesn’t know
You.  Stay there. “   She climbed back up
The slope to stand and
Watch the heron as
He finished his treat.
Envious geese muttered
And flapped their wings.

The man is quiet
and waits for the heron to
Fly away.  The cherry trees drip
And the rain softly
Falls around them.
“No wonder this seems like home
To me.”  He whispered.
“I could be happy
In such a small grove of trees
With a pond nearby.
There was a place like this,
Near our home.”
He held out his hand,
solemnly watching the rain
create a tiny pond in the palm of his hand.
“寒雨 Kanu.” He whispered. (cold winter rain)

She smiled at him.
He walked her back to
Her office, holding the
Umbrella carefully over her.
“I want to come here again”
He whispered.
“Then we shall.”
She bowed deeply to him.
“おかえり Okaeri” (welcome home)
He bowed in return.
“ただいま Tadaima.” (I’m home).

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#Authors #Bloggers #Readers – Be aware of Intellectual Property Theft Laws!

kanzensakura:

Very good information.. you will note I have copyright information on my website and the photos I take and post.

Originally posted on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog..... An Author Promotions Enterprise!:

Intellectual Property Theft – a growing problem that hurts everyone in this writing business

By Susan M. Toy

Recently, I’ve become aware of the increasing amount of Intellectual Property (IP) theft that’s taking place online. It’s been happening for a long time: artists—visual, photographers, musicians and writers—seem only able to stand by and watch as what they have created is either copied and pasted elsewhere on the net without permission or no attribution at all is given for their work. Yes, there are copyright laws in place to protect us and the illegal use of our IP. But internet users seem unaware of these laws, or blatantly flout them, or truly believe that, whatever is on the Internet is free for their own personal use and by anyone who wants to copy and paste it into their status update or to their blog.

I’m going to speak specifically to the…

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