The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: refugees

COVID Clench, Pandemic Hair and Cardamom Braids

In my fantasies of what I’d do first once I was fully vaxxed, getting a haircut was the primo #1 Big Thing.

I’d been gearing up for the Big Leap into an enclosed, hair salon experience during the 2 weeks-after-my-second-jab clearance and figured it’d cross off two ToDos at the same time.

#1 – Getting that haircut!
#2 – Re-entering the world at large in a calculated and precise manner.

However, my teeth had other ideas.

Over the course of those 2 weeks, jaw pain, migraines, searing earaches, and weird teeth nerves asserted themselves to the point of my having to call the dentist for an appointment. Considering my last checkup/cleaning was in 2018, and we’ve since dropped dental insurance, I was a bit miffed.

Long story short, I passed my exam with flying colors. In fact, the dreaded cleaning itself was deftly performed by the dental hygienist with narey a wince on my part. Strange to say, but I had a fantastic experience.

So, what was the source of the pain? If not a rotting tooth, then what?
Something dentists are seeing a lot of lately – teething grinding (or technically, bruxism).

Aha. Makes sense. Only I’m calling it “COVID clench“.

The day after my dental needs upstaged that longed-for haircut, I called for an appointment and got in that very afternoon. I also got out in less than 30 minutes. The strange part was not the actual haircutting, but the torrent of words that flew from my mouth whenever I opened it to say something simple like, ‘please cut it a bit more’. Instead, a tumbling jumbling of words totally out of my control followed in quick succession.

I apologized to the hairstylist and ventured to tell her that I’m usually the lady in the chair who’d rather not chat with the one cutting her hair. But somehow that statement didn’t ring quite true to what was occurring at that moment.

Aha. Makes sense. Re-entry means remembering to use certain social skills.

Laura Bruno Lilly Mother's Day 2021
Luckily, I got that stringy Pandemic hair whacked off in time for my Skype Mother’s Day celebration…

As for those braids…(obviously not of the hair type)…I had a hankering to try out a non-sourdough bread recipe. Like many of you, my kitchen was dubbed The Sourdough Lab during the height of the Pandemic. I’m sick of it. All of it. But have a slew of very cool sourdough this and sourdough that recipes I created and perfected during that season of isolating in place. Someday they’ll see the light of day again, but not right now.

Instead, I treated myself to a non-sourdough bread making experience. Using Cardamom, a spice first introduced to me by my Palestinian sister-friend Hiam back in the early 80s while we were living in the Bay Area.

She used it as the defining ingredient in the making of her fabulous coffee. As a result, I have been enamored with other uses of Cardamom ever since.

Her basic recipe?
A handful of cardamom pods, a handful or two of sugar, a handful or two of whole coffee beans in a pot of water set to boil until it becomes thick.              

I’ve never been able to recreate that luscious and potent brew by myself. She did it best.

I miss you, Hiam.

Anyway, here’s the recipe for my Cardamom Braid Bread.

It makes for a delicate flavored loaf with a good crumb. Tastes good with both sweet and savory meals but I like it best by itself, smothered in butter!

Cardamom Braid Bread

Cardamom Braid Bread

Ingredients

  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 packages (1/4 ounce each) or 2 scant tablespoons active dry yeast
  • 1½ – 2 teaspoons ground cardamom (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups plus 2 tablespoons 2% milk, divided
  • 1/2 cup butter, cubed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Directions
  • In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast, cardamom and salt. In a small saucepan, heat 1½ cups milk, butter and honey to 120°-130°. Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened. Add eggs; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a firm dough (dough will be sticky).
  • Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  • Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide in half. Divide each portion into thirds. Shape each into a 14-in. rope. Place 3 ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Repeat with remaining dough. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
  • Brush with remaining milk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 375° until golden brown, 20-25 minutes. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.

Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day 2019

Holocaust Memorial - Beth Israel Congregation - Florence, SC

Holocaust Memorial – Beth Israel Congregation – Florence, SC

Some of the symbolism of the memorial as explained on the Beth Israel Congregation Website:

  • Yellow Star of David – This universal symbol of Judaism was perverted by the Nazis. Jews were instructed to wear a yellow star on the outside of their clothing so that they could be instantly recognized, and shamed. Many Jews, however, and others of different communities, wore the star as a badge of pride, asserting that despite it all, they proudly clung to Israel’s covenant with God.
  • Outline of the Ten Commandments Tablet – Beth Israel uses this symbol on the doors of the Holy Ark in the Sanctuary, and the opening words of the Ten Commandments are on the back wall of the Sanctuary. It is used here to tie the Memorial to the life of our congregation.
  • Memorial Wording – The Hebrew word below the outline of the ten commandments reads HA-SHO-AH, the Holocaust. It is the word chosen by world Jewery to express the horror of the death of six-million of our brothers and sisters in Nazi Europe. The following words were edited from “Gates of Repentance” the prayer book used for our High Holiday worship.
  • Posts and Chain – These were added to the Memorial to represent the guard towers and the fences surrounding the extermination camps.
  • Gray Gravel – Spread at the base of the Memorial, the gravel, and the particular color chosen, are a sad reminder of the ashes of those Holocaust victims who were killed and cremated, their ashes left to blow to the corners of the earth.
  • The Memorial Stone – Thrusting upward, the stone stands proudly to indicate that Jews and Judaism have survived; will continue to do so; still reach for God, for human perfection and for God’s Kingdom here on earth. In our quest for God, we affirm that the victims of the Holocaust shall never be forgotten. In our quest for God, we affirm that it is our personal responsibility to cry out for all who suffer at human hands. (emphasis mine)

longest night, Reflections during

Winter Solstice: a day with the least amount of sunshine potential; the shortest day and longest night; a time of reversals.

To me, the Winter Solstice feels more like the ending of the past year with the dawning of the true ‘new year.’  An organic New Year’s Eve, so to speak. What better time to reflect on the past year, letting go and easing into the ‘new year’ as each day from this point in time gains length.
With these reflections comes the announcement that this will be my final posting for 2018 with an undetermined first post date for the upcoming year. That’s just my convoluted way of saying I’m taking a blogging break!
😉
That said, let us continue.
In reviewing my Morning Pages* over this past year I realized it has been a full and satisfying 12 months. No family or close friends died or declared any horrific medical diagnosis, the selling of my folks’ house went smoothly and the settling of their estate is almost completed, we visited and celebrated with family members and friends throughout the year and throughout the country, and the scary emergencies we did encounter were accompanied by His ‘peace that passes all understanding’ as we walked through those life-paths.
It seems we landed in a junction of respite from several years of elder care, personal pain, disappointments, grief and such.
Fielding the good with the bad, several themes** emerged as well – often revealing forward movement on goals, desires, hopes and dreams; working through the ups & downs of life; grappling with deeper issues in living a purposeful life.
Why then this lingering sense of sadness?
Is it the darkness? The longer nights and shorter days? Grey black skies, claustrophobic fog?
Not really.
I relish this Winter Solstice evening – prolonged darkness, giving permission to hunker down, and delve into soul searching, validating this yearning to be still and listen to what the Lord through His creation and past events is speaking to me.
Then what is contributing to this heaviness, this disheartening sense of impotence in making a difference in life’s inequities?
Ah yes, of course. Events over this past year, worldwide and oh-too-to-close-to-home local happenings.

  • Parkland school shootings, Las Vegas, Nevada concert shootings, synagogue slaughter, humble town of Florence, SC massacre and on & on infinitum…
  • Manchester arena bombing anniversary representing terrorism in a free country with strict gun control.
  • Never ending hordes of everyday people fleeing their beloved homeland for a safe place to stay alive…Syrians, Central Americans, Africans…
  • Governments killing their own citizens in the name of advancing their own personal agenda.
  • Free world border ‘wars’ using displaced, desperate persons, families & children as fodder for unwinnable negotiations.
  • Increased homelessness in the midst of hardworking middle class professionals – and all the ramifications of undeserved shame while struggling to continue to survive in an ever increasing hostile American society.
  • Constant bombardment of Trumpian Temper Tantrums affecting everyday Americans (sorry, I don’t normally specify political opinions…please give me latitude during this Winter’s Solstice)

And yet, this is all not new…the poor have always been with us, the rich and powerful have always manipulated laws to benefit themselves, increasing their wealth and opportunities, to the detriment of everyday people, and, what of the ever presence of war – always with us.
1968 was a bad year – Vietnam War, numerous assassinations, student protests…Decades earlier, WWII, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, the Holocaust
The world’s suffering is so personal.
It hurts.
And yet, I am reminded:

“God wastes nothing – not even our darkness”


*from which I am taking an indeterminate break also, after 28+ years of faithful jottings!
**my music, hubby’s new business, finding home, strengthening relationships…

Giving Voice: Violins of Hope

Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day 2018
(begins – sundown 4/11)

 

Amnon Weinstein with a restored Star of David violin

Amnon Weinstein with a restored Star of David violin*


Quote symbolFor Jews enduring utter despair and unimaginable evil during the Holocaust, music offered haven and humanity. The strains of a beloved song supplied solace, even if only for a few moments. The chords also provided a vital reminder that even the most brutal regime could not rob them of their faith. No matter what, their souls could be free.
In some cases, the ability to play the violin spared Jewish musicians from more grueling labors or even death. Nearly 50 years ago, Amnon Weinstein heard such a story from a customer who brought in an instrument for restoration. The customer survived the Holocaust because his job was to play the violin while Nazi soldiers marched others to their deaths. When Weinstein opened the violin’s case, he saw ashes. He thought of his own relatives who had perished, and was overwhelmed. He could not bring himself to begin the project.
By 1996, Weinstein was ready. He put out a call for violins from the Holocaust that he would restore in hopes that the instruments would sound again. (from: Violins of Hope)

*Photo by Debra Yasinow

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