When I started making challah nine months ago, I did so because it was one way that I could acknowledge and participate in this faith with which I was falling in love.
I wasn’t new to bread making. About eight years ago, I was very much on a homemaking kick and wanted to do as much as I could from scratch. I made bread every week and even made homemade dog biscuits for the dogs every Saturday. Over time I got away from it because, let’s face it, making bread can be a real pain in the tuchus. And I’m not a neat cook. Making bread usually meant flour everywhere – even places where it made no sense as to why flour ended up there at all.
So when it came time to start making challah, I cheated. I’d buy frozen yeast rolls, let them thaw and raise, and then I’d roll them out and make challah rolls. From there, I used those pre-made yeast rolls and started braiding a small challah loaf.
Since the presidential election, I’ve been unable to find the right words to express how I feel. I jokingly tell people that I’ve put the election results in a file labeled “I’ll deal with it later” and I’ll finally crack it open and tackle it when I’m emotionally able to do so. It’s like I’ve stuck my head in the sand, or I have my hands over my ears and I’m screaming at the entire world: “La-la-lah! I can’t hear you!” While I say these things with my lips curved slightly upward in what might be the beginnin’s of a smile (because smiling hurts these days), I kinda-sorta actually really mean it.
I haven’t blogged much lately, but in my defense, I was just promoted and have been very, very busy. I’m extremely grateful for the promotion and the generous raise that came with it, but it does require more work to be at this new level and I realize that. I used to be a prolific writer and blogger, but my career took a turn four years ago and I’ve struggled with finding time to write ever since. That’s likely to continue!
All that being said, I just went through my first experiences with the Jewish High Holy Days and it affected me profoundly. I have been struggling finding the right synagogue, and there aren’t a lot around here to choose from in the first place, but the one I was attending is no longer palatable. The rabbi I’m studying under, who was at the helm of that synagogue, has left and, out of loyalty to her and disgust with the leadership there, I haven’t gone back. This frustration, though, led me to a synagogue about 25 minutes away that I now know will be my future home for Jewish life and worship. Rosh Hashanah services there were absolutely breathtaking. My old synagogue was tiny, like being in someone’s living room, but this new place is large, with pews and the most gorgeous, two story ark that holds the Torah. They also have a choir that sings in Hebrew (of course). This music, combined with the prayers, moved me greatly. Rosh Hashanah is now my favorite Jewish holiday, but Yom Kippur is the one that affected me the most.
The time between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is called the Days of Awe. It’s a time to “get right” with those we have had strife and struggle with over this past year. As Yom Kippur approached and then passed, one person kept appearing in my head, over and over again: my brother.Continue reading “Forgiveness. Can you imagine?”→
Of all my memories, the one I associate most with my grandfather is a crushed velvet couch piled six across and two high with Cabbage Patch Dolls. Blondes. Brunettes. Redheads. Boys. Girls. There seemed to be one of every kind displayed on that couch in that wood-paneled living room.
After months of waiting, my 64 square foot, silver metal-roofed tiny office was delivered today! It’s a utility shed cabin made by Old Hickory Sheds, and because it’s cabin-style, it has eight foot walls instead of the typical six. I will use this building as a home office and writing space.
I have a confession: in our two years here in Washington state, I have started to think of Mt. Rainier as mine.
Yes, I know that Mt. Rainier is a national park and, under duress, I will share it with America and the rest of the mountain-loving world. The problem is – or I guess it’s not a problem at all – that most times when we venture into the park, the crowds are light and we can end up on roads and paths and in spaces where we’re the only two people around. Just us and a waterfall rushing toward a creek below.
Add to this the fact that every visit to Mt. Rainier National Park is a religious experience to me. The mountains and valleys and acres of trees inside the park are my synagogue, my chapel, my spot to connect with the divine. There’s no place I’ve been with fresher, cleaner air, which seems to fill my lungs while simultaneously cleansing my spirit.
I love mornings in the Pacific Northwest. There’s something about the chilliness in the air, even in July or August, and the crisp, clean smell of evergreens mixed with salt water that just infuses my soul with thankfulness. After two years here, I still find myself borrowing a few moments just to take it all in, observe the scene before me, and send up a prayer of gratitude.
Each new day here reminds me why I love this place so much. I have to do weird things here, things I never anticipated when I lived back east, like check the tide tables so that I know which foot ferry I want to use. When the tide is out, the ferry dock a quarter mile from my home has such a steep gangplank that is like climbing up and down a ladder to get to the float and on the boat. It’s not fun, especially since I’m in a medical walking boot right now due to tearing the fascia tendon in the bottom of my foot, so I’ll choose to use the ferry 1.5 miles away in town as it’s in a marina and doesn’t require feats of strength to get on the boat.
Who could anticipate a Midwestern woman worrying about tides?
I’m going to confess up front that I’m riding a wave of nostalgia right now. It’s sharp, it’s somewhat piercing, and the memories are sometimes so sweet that they make me ache.
I created a Facebook group last night to spur conversation for my graduating high school class’ upcoming 20th year reunion next summer, so my mind is, for the most part, awhirl with memories of life in and around the small town of Hanover, Indiana. This morning on the hour-long ferry commute into Seattle, I pulled out the latest issue of MaryJanesFarm magazine, which is almost a spiritual text to me in its place of importance in my life, and discovered that this particular issue is all about chickens and eggs, with adorable ducks making a few appearances because Mary Jane is, obviously, a genius.
Chickens and ducks – namely the waddling waterfowl – send me right back into my spiral of whimsy.
Being on the other side of the continent from my family – both close and extended – these past two years has afforded me a lot of freedom. I’ve been able to do a lot of soul searching and self-analysis without the family pressures of “maintaining status quo” or just going with established norms. This time has allowed me to come to terms with who I really am, what I believe, and solidify my core beliefs about what is right. Raised conservative, I’m now about as far left politically as a person can go, and close-minded people who spend their lives lobbying against the personal interests, private matters, and basic freedoms of other people are, in my opinion, not worth my time. I’ve also always been outspoken, but I’m now that way more than ever, and all of this leads up to what happened a few weeks ago.