Celebrations!

Happy April!

This year, we have several celebrations from April 1 (April Fool’s Day) through through Easter weekend to Earth Day on April 22. There may be others but these two, plus other holy-days, are the ones we honor most of the time.

For me, the calla lily will always signify Easter. May this graceful calla lily growing out of lava represent whatever holiday you are celebrating this season. May it exemplify the simplicity you seek in your life and the purity you hope to develop in your heart.

A hui hou!

Cherry Crumb Pie

This is the month of George Washington’s birth, the lad who said “I cannot tell a lie. I chopped down the cherry tree with my little hatchet.” At least, that’s the story that many children heard when they were in the early grades. Truth or myth, I will always associate Washington with cherries.

I continue to buy fresh cherries because they are so good for you – not to mention delicious! Wonderful cherries have been filling up our markets, and although they are not “local,” they are hard to resist.

One of my favorite ways to eat cherries, other than right out of the box, is this crumb pie. I seldom have the patience to work on an elaborate lattice top crust for pies, so I tend to use a crumb topping for most fruit pies. But it allows for more cherries per bite!

Pie Crust

This is extremely fast and easy – always delicious and reliable! You’ll never roll out another pie crust the old way again!

Place 1 ½ cup all-purpose unbleached flour + 1 ½ teaspoon sugar + ¼ teaspoon salt directly into ungreased pie pan.

Into ½ cup canola oil, add 2 Tablespoons cold milk. Mix with fork until milky.

Pour over flour mix in 9” pie pan, and mix it all together. Press the mix onto the pan until it resembles a regular pie crust. Be sure to leave enough up on the sides to squeeze into a fluted rim. It’s light and flaky. No one ever leaves the edge of this crust on the plate!

Filling

Combine 1 cup sugar (I use ½ cup Splenda and ½ cup sugar) NOTE: If the cherries are sweet, you can get away with less sweetening, 1/3 cup flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt

Add this combination to 4 heaping cups of pitted cherries that have had 3 drops of almond extract added to them.

Toss the sugar-flour mixture with the cherries until they are thoroughly coated. Place into unbaked pastry-lined pie pan. Cover pie with crumb topping


Crumb Topping

1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup all purpose unbleached flour
½ cup (1 stick) chilled butter

Mix together until crumbly, and spread to cover top of pie.

Bake in hot oven (425 degrees F.) about 40 minutes. If the edges look like they are browning too quickly, cover loosely with a strip of aluminum foil.

I usually dig into this long before it’s actually cool enough to eat! This can be eaten with some kind of whipped topping, ice cream, rich coffee cream, or creamer, or just alone! I promise you will not be disappointed!

A hui hou!

Happy Birthday!


HILTON'S EGGPLANT
My brother sent this picture to share his amusement. He and I both tend to have the same weird sense of humor most times. He couldn’t resist taking this picture at the Gulfport, FL Tuesday morning market.

Today is his birthday! I send him oodles of love and hugs. No, I won’t tell you his age, but even though he’s almost eleven years younger than I am, he will always seem like my “big brother,” not my “little brother.” I look up to him in so many areas. I’ll describe just two of those.

Technology – Whenever I get stumped on a computer glitch, he comes to my rescue. He continually tells me I know more than many women my age, but next to him, I do feel like a klutz. Thank you, bro!

Music – We both started out life in a musical family where everyone played some instrument or sang well. When he was five years old, I gave him his first piano lessons. Although I am a fairly accomplished pianist and musician in my own right, he left me in the dust. He became a professor of music composition, a concert organist and pianist, and too many other areas to mention. Check out his website and listen to some of his music. (I have a sister’s right to brag!)

Happy birthday, “little” brother

from your very proud “big” sister!

A hui hou!

Hau`oli Makahiki Hou!

New Year's decorations

This is a repeat of a post I write periodically for the first of a new year. It’s been nine years since I last posted this, so it seemed appropriate to post it again as we leave 2021 behind us.

Tonight at midnight, it will become 2022. I’ve never believed in making resolutions for the New Year. What I like to do instead is set goals or intentions, both long-term and short-term. These are usually in several categories.

My favorite book for this is Your Best Year Yet! by Jinny S. Ditzler. It’s just a little paperback that asks ten questions “for making the next twelve months your most successful ever.” I’ve used it for the past twenty years or longer, not only for myself but for my students and friends.

This book can be used in any area of your life, from income to relationships to self-esteem. One reason I love this book is that it starts out with looking at what you accomplished over the past year. This acknowledges the positive aspects of your life rather than just those things that didn’t work out.

We may think we know what we want for our life, but until it is written down with a bit of structure and planning, it goes nowhere. We cannot leave our life up to chance.

At the end of just a few hours you end up with a one-page summary of your plan for the next year. They become your own words of wisdom for the year. This kind of exercise can help to change your life from merely “good” to “great!” That’s something we all deserve!

May you create joy and abundance in all things this next year!

I’m off to work on my own 2022 goals!

Hau`oli Makahiki Hou! (Happy New Year!)

Orange Bread

When I was in high school, I worked as a Saturday receptionist for one of the local optometrists who was also a member of my father’s church, which was probably the reason he gave me the job. His wife was known to be a great cook, so this is the recipe from Bea Henderson of Litchfield, Illinois – one I’ve made for many years.

This recipe became a staple when I lived on my boat. It was not only a delicious and fast bread to whip up in my tiny galley, but it used up the orange peels instead of tossing them overboard. Jokingly, I called it my “garbage bread,” but it is anything but garbage!

Decades later, I’m still making this bread and it continues to be one of my favorites. The picture above shows it fresh out of the oven.

Orange Bread

¾ cup orange rind, cut into fine strips
1 ½ cup sugar
1 cup water

Boil the above until tender.

Add 2 tablespoons butter and ½ teaspoon salt. Cool.

Beat 1 egg and add cooled orange mixture.

Mix together:
3 cups flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons baking powder

Stir – put in loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.

Good for “teas,” sliced thin and buttered (my mother’s words)

My Note: Many “heirloom” recipes don’t give specific instructions on what to do if the batter is too thick, what size pan to use, and the like. I think the thickness depends on how long you let the orange peels simmer. If it’s too thick, I add either water or a little orange juice when I’m mixing. But do expect this to be a thick dough. I sprayed my loaf pans with a canola oil spray to help it come out easier.

I’m afraid my loaves never last until a “tea.” It’s just too good not to eat warm and fresh out of the oven! It’s all I can do to limit myself to one (or two) slices right out of the oven. Also, I usually double the recipe and freeze one loaf for later. It makes great toast or just sliced up and eaten cold. This is absolutely a wonderful, simple bread to make, and tastes like autumn.

A hui hou!

Saintly Gardening

Today is All Saints’ Day, or the Feast of All Saints, and there is little that is more spiritually fulfilling than working in your garden. Many of the saints are thought of in connection with gardening.

The saint whose statue appears most often in gardens is St. Francis. He is the patron saint of animals and the environment, or ecology. Every creature was sacred to Francis, and he made no separation between the natural world and his faith. Please take time to read “The Canticle of the Creatures.”

Even though he is known for hating women, my personal favorite is St. Fiacre, known as “the gardeners’ saint.” He is considered to be the patron saint of medicinal plants and gardening.

Fiacre was an Irish priest who was born in 600 AD and died in August 670. After his ordination, he retired to a hermitage in County Kilkenny in Ireland. But people wouldn’t leave him alone, so he sailed to France to get away from the world. He was given a place there in the middle of the forest in Brogillum or Breuil in the province of Brie.

Fiacre built a hospice where strangers could rest, even though he lived in a small cell off by himself. He spent his time in prayer and fasting, and laboring in his garden. He is known for having miraculously cured all sorts of illnesses with his herbs.

In particular, he is said to have cured hemorrhoids and venereal disease. There are several stories about him that would make this appropriate, but I won’t go into that here.

While many of us have seen the statues of St. Francis in gardens, we really should have St. Fiacre. He is usually depicted as standing with his healing plants in one arm and a shovel in his free hand.

There are many other saints you could call on to help with your yard work. The Spanish San Ysidro, El Labrador is known in the Spanish speaking countries as the patron saint of all farmers and ranchers and workers. I like him because he got the angels to come plow his fields for him. If you know of any angels that aren’t busy, send them to my place, please.

Perhaps I should make St. Dorothy my saint. She also is considered the saint of gardeners and florists because she could produce apples and roses in an area where they don’t grow. It would take her miracle to produce apples and roses in lava yards here.

Or maybe St. Barbara needs to be my personal patron saint because she is the saint for stonemasons and miners – for anything that is difficult to work with (like our lava rocks). Those with lava gardens could use all the help she can give them.

I have heard of several who are considered the patron saint of beekeeping, flowers and vegetables. One is St Bernardo-Abad, but I haven’t been able to find much about him. I’ll keep looking.

Other saints somehow connected to bees and beekeeping (necessary for pollination in anyone’s garden) are listed here.

I’d love to include St. Patrick to drive away the snakes, but we have no snakes here in Hawai`I (one reason I love living in Hawai`i). Maybe St. Patrick has already been here! It wasn’t really live snakes that he drove out of Ireland, however, but the Druids with snakes tattooed up their arms.

Whichever saint you decide to call on for your garden, I suggest that at least one corner be set aside as a place of meditation, peace, and contemplation on what your saint can do for you.

There are saints and angels all around us waiting for us to ask their help. I am not Roman Catholic, but years ago I learned about St. Anthony. Whenever I have lost something, I call on St. Anthony to help me find it, and within minutes, the lost is found. I try to remember to thank him for his help.

I recommend looking for an updated volume of the spiritual classic, The Magic of Findhorn by Paul Hawken, written in 1975. I have many friends who have spent time in this spiritual community of Findhorn in Scotland, where you discover a way to connect with the plant devas and nature spirits.

I have several books on Findhorn and similar places in this world. I highly recommend one autobiography in particular – To Hear the Angels Sing by Dorothy Maclean. The back cover states: “The success and subsequent fame of the Findhorn gardens arose in part from Dorothy’s telepathic contact with these [angelic] kingdoms.”

Another “must read” is Behaving As If the God in All Life Mattered by Machaelle Small Wright.

Call me superstitious, or whatever you want to call me, but I do believe the spirits of saints and all of nature are anxious to prove their ability in helping. They are everywhere around us, waiting to be acknowledged.

NOTE: As I was writing this post, I had an overpowering sense of a surrounding spiritual presence – sort of a personal acknowledgement that we are not alone.

Until next week, Lava Lily says, “Go find your devas.”

How Do You Dance Your Life?

Some of you may know that among other things, I love gardening, writing, reading, traveling, and much more. What you may not know is that I am a recently retired college associate professor and a retired United Methodist minister. When I served a church in Tucson AZ, many of the funerals I conducted were victims of AIDS.

Because of my close connection with this population in my church, I have a special place in my heart for those who suffer from this disease. It is in honor of those who have the disease, as well as in memory of those I have buried, that I write this blog.

There is a special dance from the early church community called the TRIPUDIUM. I learned about it nearly twenty-five years ago when I took a workshop from Doug Adams who was a professor of religion and the arts at the Pacific School of Religion.

I had no idea that Doug had left this earth until I looked him up on Google. According to articles I read about his death, the memorial celebrations outdid Doug in creativity.

The following information on liturgical dance is something I learned from Doug that will stay with me always.

TRIPUDIUM actually means “three step” or “jubilate” in Latin. Later, dance in church was suppressed as being too sinful, and thus it came to mean “the Jubilation.”

It was a style of processing to church, symbolizing the progress of not only the individual, but of the whole church and community.

It is a process of three steps forward and one back – three forward and one back. Often someone could call out three signs of HOPE on the forward three steps, then call out one sign of SETBACK on the backward step.

In other words, the SETBACK becomes part of the dance. It isn’t outside the rhythm.

HOPE – HOPE – HOPE – SETBACK

HOPE – HOPE – HOPE – SETBACK…

We don’t want to include the back step in the dance. But it’s all part of the dance! It gives us a more optimistic spirit, helps us see setbacks in the context of life, of ongoing progress.

Another interesting fact is that this dance was not done in single file, but in processions with many abreast with arms linked, row after row. It is done in community – not alone. It is a deliberate moving forward.

The people would move through the streets and into the church and around in it during the songs of the service and back out through the streets as a recessional. The dance was a communal act of worship and celebration.

The Greeks believed in an afterlife, so they danced a ring dance to make safe passage for the deceased. The Greeks appreciated dance as an aesthetic experience. Everything was a dance for them – victory processions, weapon dances, displays of power, ball games, wedding processions, and funeral processions!

The early Christians drew on this custom. They circled the grave with lively funeral dances to celebrate the person’s birth into everlasting life. Rose petals were dropped on the open grave, as they sang, “Ring Around the Rosie…Ashes, ashes, we all fall down.”

When life and mortality seem difficult, I invite you to put on some music and dance the Tripudium, shouting out three signs of hope for every setback. This particular version of Lee Ann Womack’s song “I Hope You Dance” seems appropriate today.

A hui hou!

Act of Human Kindness

Since many of you are new readers to my blog, I have been updating older posts from over ten years ago. Today’s post is on the theme of MITZVAH. In an earlier post on “Mitzvah” I talked about the many young men going through their Bar Mitzvah at the Wailing Wall of the old Temple in Jerusalem.

The top photo is one a colleague took of me standing at the Wall, offering up my prayers. You can tell I’m the tourist by the backpack!

The photo below is one I took while there quite a few years ago on my first visit to the lands they call Holy.

The best meaning for Mitzvah I can find is that it means “to express an act of human kindness.” What a wonderful theme for today’s world! I think need as many acts of human kindness as we can provide, so I’ll do my share!

It is said that prayers written on a tiny piece of paper, folded, then stuck into a crack in the wall, are received and answered by the Almighty. If you want to know the origin of this, read this.

Every faith has some form of prayer. Even those without a faith are praying when they say silently (or aloud), “I hope I pass this test.” I believe that any desire or need is received and acted upon. Words that are commonly used for the receiver are God, Holy Spirit, Higher Power, Allah, Great Spirit, Universe, Almighty, Energy Flow, and so many more. Regardless of the word we use, the meaning is the same.

To me, prayer is not so much what we are asking for, but listening to what we are to do. It is when I stop the “asking” that I begin “hearing.” Someone once reminded me that the answers we receive are either “yes” or “wait, because I have something better in mind for you.”

When I stood at the Wailing Wall, I was listening. When I worked on the lava field that was my home on the south end of the Big Island of Hawaii, I was listening. When I stand before my classes, I hear. Every sound in nature is telling me something. Every word uttered by another person is the answer to a prayer, whether I recognize it as that or not.

If more of us listened before we spoke, it might be a better and more peaceful world.

A hui hou!

Sea Turtles

For quite a few years, I lived right on the ocean. I was so close that the salt spray covered everything in my home. But the view was unbeatable. I watched the surfers at both Banyans and Lyman’s Point.

The salt did a lot of damage to my belongings, but I didn’t mind it for the years I lived there. The surf roared and crashed twenty-four hours a day, and I loved it. When I finally left, it took me a while to become accustomed to the silence.

Some days, I watched dolphins play in the little bay outside my deck. Other days, I had the pleasure of the whales on their journey. There was always something going on.

There was one bit of sea life I could depend on every single day – the many honu, or sea turtles that sunned themselves on the rocks. Sometimes there would be as many as eight of them on the lava rocks.

As the tide gradually came in and covered the rocks, they would slip away into the water, then return as the next low tide began. Watching them, I learned the personality of each one.

This big guy is in the water part way. He was funny to watch. As the tide crept up, he would haul himself just a little higher up the rock until he finally couldn’t stay above the water. Reluctantly, he would slip back into the ocean and swim away.

Many times, I had to shout at visitors who tried to touch them. The turtles are protected and don’t react kindly to being teased. So if you are visiting Hawaii, please stay away from the turtles. Take pictures from a distance and go away knowing that you are helping to preserve our natural environment and care for our endangered honu.

A hui hou!

No Labor Day For All

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We love Labor Day for giving us that last bit of summer for cookouts, beach trips, one last vacation day, and more. But not everyone gets to take off on Labor Day. You know who you are:

• medical personnel at the hospitals
• pilots taking you on your trips
• clerks in the grocery store for those few items you forgot
• farmers with animals who need care every day
• workers in any store that stays open today
• police who are always on the job
• radio and TV announcers
• and so many more . . .

It is to you who keep our world going even on holidays that I send a big MAHALO today!

A hui hou!
Lucy