The road ends, but the journey continues...

Tag: senseless shootings (Page 1 of 2)

Virtual Brownie (Muffin) Sharing Circle: Susan's Single Step

Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him
Psalms 34:8

 Some of you may remember my VBSC posts (#1, #2 and #3).

In keeping with the spirit, if not literal brownie connection, of these Virtual Brownie Muffin Sharing Circle visits, today’s installment features a recent post by Chef Susan Nye.
On her blog, Susan freely shares a plethora of tried & true, homey & experimental recipes and meal suggestions along with a huge helping of good storytelling. I often peruse her recipes looking for something new and interesting to try, but more often than not, I find myself drawn to the tales and thoughts she shares along with those recipes.

Begin with a Single Step & Rhubarb-Walnut Muffins

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
From Tao Te Ching by Laozi

I need a new word; one that combines sad and angry. Three mass murders in eight days created this mix of emotions. These most recent crimes are on top of the tens of thousands of annual gun deaths and injuries. Foot-dragging politicians talk about mental illness, video games  and the need for more information. Then, if history repeats itself, they will do nothing. No study group will be formed. No funding will be provided. The outrage will subside. The moment for action will pass until the next crisis.
While I am sure that common psychological or sociological threads can be found, let’s face it – each crime is perpetrated by an individual. Some are fueled by hate, some by despair. Some are part of a larger criminal enterprise; others are powered by extremist religious or political fervor. Some are the product of mental illness, drugs or alcohol abuse. Some perpetrators were bullied. Others are bullies. There is no one root cause, no single, elusive answer. Gun violence is complex. There is a long list of explanations for each terrible crime. However, there is one constant, one common denominator. Regardless of the crime – mass murder, drive by shooting, burglary gone bad or family violence turned deadly – easy access to guns makes it possible.
We will never make any progress, if we don’t take a first step. The vast majority of Americans want sensible gun control. And yes, my definition of sensible may be different from yours. But again, we will never get anywhere if we don’t take a first step. We need to make the effort. We need to try. The step can be small. It can be a compromise. We just need to take the first step … and then another and one more after that. Eventually, what is now very imperfect will become a little less so.
This morning I made muffins. I find peace in the Zen of everyday activities. Simple tasks, done one after another, are grounding. Recipes, no matter how complex, are nothing more than taking one step and then another and another to make something. Something you can share. Something that makes the day a little better or brighter or at least keeps you from going hungry.
I measured flour, baking powder and spices. I preheated the oven. I chopped rhubarb and nuts. I whipped butter and sugar, added eggs, vanilla and sour cream. The dry ingredients gradually joined the wet, followed by the rhubarb. Not done yet, I scooped the batter into muffin tins and then slid them into the oven. All told, I guess it took about a dozen steps.
Fifteen minutes later, they were golden and delicious. However, if you arrived at my door hoping to find a big breakfast, an all-encompassing solution to your morning hunger, it wasn’t there. Only muffins, one piece of what could become a more comprehensive feast.
A friend did come over. I took two more steps; brewed coffee and heated milk. We sipped lattes and ate a few of the muffins. We had a lovely chat about writing and freelancing and making a living as well as life and a few other things. Progress of a different sort was made.
Although some may lead you astray, most steps take you at least a little closer to where you need to be; closer to a more perfect imperfection. If the life of one child, one teenager, one man, one woman can be saved by taking the first step, isn’t it worth the effort? Isn’t it worth a try?

Here’s to a safer tomorrow and bon appétit!

Rhubarb-Walnut Muffins
A neighbor gave me an armful of rhubarb the other day so I made muffins. They are delicious as a little something to nibble with coffee or tea. Or include them in your next brunch – maybe you refer to it as a comprehensive solution to morning hunger. Enjoy! 
Makes 36 muffins

Susan Nye's Rhubarb-Walnut Muffins

Susan Nye’s Rhubarb-Walnut Muffins


4 cups all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups sour cream
12 ounces fresh rhubarb, cut into small dice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.
Put the flour, baking powder and spices in a bowl and whisk to combine. Add the walnuts and whisk again.
Put the sugars and butter in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and continue beating until smooth. Add the sour cream and beat until well combined.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the dry ingredients. Gradually add the rhubarb and continue beating until just combined.
Use an ice cream scoop or two spoons to fill each muffin cup about 3/4 full with batter.
Bake in the middle of the oven until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, 15-20 minutes. Cool the muffins on a rack for a few minutes.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

The State of Our American Backyard

from cnn: (comments in italics are mine)

“A beloved Northern California festival (Gilroy grows great garlic and is a small town for goodness’ sake), a neighborhood Walmart in Mississippi (who doesn’t go to Walmart?), another Walmart near the US-Mexico border (Cielo Vista Retail/Mall is a major shopping area that even Las Cruceans go to…) and a popular entertainment district (summer evening activities in the heart of the city…should be safe). All four were the scenes of shootings in the last week — events that together left at least 34 people dead and more than 50 wounded.

A week bookended by violence has left residents shaken, frustrated and grieving.”

“A weekend bookended by violence…”

That phrase, that sentence keeps resounding loud and clear in my mind along with the images of the people and places known and unknown to me.
We lived in the Bay area during the 1980s often joking about Gilroy because of the garlic in the way most large metropolises talk about small towns. Hubby is from Las Cruces, NM where we’ve lived at different times in our married life and where the connections with El Paso and Juarez are more profound & active than with Las Cruces’ New Mexican cities to the north. In fact Cielo Vista Mall was the place to go from all around to shop for clothes. And as for the other two places – who doesn’t go to Walmart or enjoy a summer’s evening out?
Who doesn’t go to school or church, temple or mosque for that matter?
Everyday Americans doing everyday things.
Then the loudest voice among ‘experts’ chiding us everyday Americans for not carrying weapons in order to protect ourselves while going out and about doing our everyday activities…(ref. Larry Ward responses to Amna Nawaz interview questions on PBS Newshour)
Lord have mercy.
20 years ago our kiddos sat in their respective classrooms in Boulder County schools (the eldest in high school) during the shock-surprise of Columbine just 34 miles away from us.
Not directly in the line of fire – but definitely in my backyard.
Our backyard. Our American Backyard.
This cannot be our new normal.
Lord have mercy.

st francis quote

from St. Francis of Assisi, prayer

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…

At the Y Wondering Why?

South Florence, SC water tower

February 2018 – repairs being made on the South Florence water tower


Wednesday, October 3rd I drove the 5 miles across town to the newer Aldi’s on the West side of Florence, SC. It’s a better one than the one in our neighborhood as I live one block west of the area demarcated as ‘the other side of the tracks’ on the South side of town. I’ve long since given up taking casual walks around our neighborhood due to safety issues and drive to an area across town, not too far away from that same Aldi’s, to walk the Rail Trail when weather permits. All of that to say, most of my exercising occurs indoors at the YMCA a few blocks from our little rental home.
Around 4ish that same Wednesday afternoon, I wheeled my almost empty grocery cart to the only open check-out lane. I arrived third in line, standing behind two others, each with heaping shopping carts filled with groceries and cases of special Aldi’s offerings. After waiting about 10 minutes, watching the lone checker struggle with the bulk purchases of the first customer, I decided to return my 3 items and come back another day. That put it at 4:15 when I left the parking lot to return home, empty handed, around 4:30ish.
Meanwhile, about 3 miles further northwest of that same Aldi’s, in an upscale neighborhood, an ambush was taking place. 7 police officers were shot…making National News. Continue reading

For all the children who will not know – collaborative poem

For all the children who will not know

Laura Bruno Lilly, Andrew James Murray

 ~ 5/22/2017 ~

For all the children who will not know

the warmth of sunshine upon their cheeks;
the cold of dug snow-forts and candy-land  castles.

For all the children who will not know

the slurpy free love of an old faithful mutt;
the drooly mouth kisses from kids of their own.

For all the children who will not know

the joy of youthful wanderings;
the joys of returning home.

Laura Bruno Lilly

 

~ 22/5/2017 ~

The flowers bloomed early
and were cut down by a cruel frost.
We all came together
– but at what cost?
For what was gained can’t be measured
against what was lost,
and those children will never know.

Andrew James Murray

Giving Voice: Walkout Wednesday (The Rise of the Next Generation of Change)

In an effort to reflect solidarity with students in today’s walkout, I am pubbing this post at 10AM local time on March 14th.

ash wednesday 2018 parkland school shooting

Parents wait for news after a reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Joel Auerbach)


Just one month ago on Valentine’s Day/Ash Wednesday 17 students and faculty members of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School were violently killed by Nikolas Cruz with an AR-15-style rifle.
war is not healthy for children and other living thingsAs with the Manchester Shootings, teen aged ‘children’ were victims but unlike Manchester, this is an internal ‘war’ waged by American citizens against itself.
I am proud of the students of Parkland – but not proud of the reasons behind this desperate need for change. They have somehow been graced with the gift of channeling anger and grief into a rational and highly visible form of social activism.
Finally, a palpable ‘changing of the guard.’
Hubby says this is their Vietnam…and I’d say they’re rising to the challenge.
 

The following are snippets of articles gleaned to read as a single narrative (sources are referenced in highlighted links) to document this living history of a rising “Next Generation of Change.” Continue reading

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