Shrove Tuesday

We are sitting on the edge of a Lenten journey.  I am completely one for practising rites and ceremonies!  (Perhaps you have gathered that if you revisit my writing here.)  I think that ‘making things happen’ is just what I am about!  I like to mark my life by events and if I can, along the way, I want to have influence on them. 
 
I like to think that by moving through this reflective journey, I may become closer in relationship with Jesus Christ….in deeper relationship with my family and a more conscious ‘awake’ person with my friends.  So much of what I do and think is influenced by Douglas Spaulding and what he learns in a single summer.  Dandelion Wine is packed with lessons about how to live life ‘fully’.
 
For the longest time, I would prepare a morning feast for my children at home before school, but as the years passed and they became students of mine for a number of years, they enjoyed the feast at our school.
 
Today we made scrambled eggs, pancakes and sausage for about 700 of our 1100 students.  I’ve been scrambling eggs on Shrove Tuesday for fourteen years now….it’s nice to work alongside six wonderful women, doing something for good. (I packed up some sausage and pancakes for my son today…it was one of the last things he asked me to do before he went to sleep last night. Historically, there are some quirky, almost unacceptable notions surrounding this day.  I see it as a door to step through on the way to my spiritual walk and contemplation…a day to share with others.

Shrove Tuesday
28 February 2006

Shrove Tuesday is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday which is the first day of Lent. It’s a day of penitence, to clean the soul, and a day of celebration as the last chance to feast before Lent begins.

Shrove Tuesday is sometimes called Pancake Day after the fried batter recipe traditionally eaten on this day.

But there’s more to Shrove Tuesday than pigging out on pancakes or taking part in a public pancake race. The pancakes themselves are part of an ancient custom with deeply religious roots.

Penitence
Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the ritual of shriving that Christians used to undergo in the past. In shriving, a person confesses their sins and receives absolution for them.

When a person receives absolution for their sins, they are forgiven for them and released from the guilt and pain that they have caused them.

In the Catholic or Orthodox context, the absolution is pronounced by a priest.

This tradition is very old. Over 1000 years ago a monk wrote in the Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical Institutes:

In the week immediately before Lent everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him.

Shrove Tuesday celebrations
Shrove Tuesday is a day of celebration as well as penitence, because it’s the last day before Lent.

Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up. So Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge yourself, and to use up the foods that aren’t allowed in Lent.

Giving up foods: but not wasting them
In the old days there were many foods that observant Christians would not eat during Lent: foods such as meat and fish, fats, eggs, and milky foods.

So that no food was wasted, families would have a feast on the shriving Tuesday, and eat up all the foods that wouldn’t last the forty days of Lent without going off.

The need to eat up the fats gave rise to the French name Mardi Gras; meaning fat Tuesday. Pancakes became associated with Shrove Tuesday as they were a dish that could use up all the eggs, fats and milk in the house with just the addition of flour.

The origin of pancake racing
Pancake races are thought to have begun in 1445. A woman had lost track of the time on Shrove Tuesday, and was busy cooking pancakes in her kitchen.

Suddenly she heard the church bell ringing to call the faithful to church for confession. The woman raced out of her house and ran all the way to church; still holding her frying pan and wearing her apron.

Going for gold in the pancake Olympics
One of the most famous pancake races is held at Olney in Buckinghamshire over a 415 yard course. The rules are strict; contestants have to toss their pancake at both the start and the finish, as well as wearing an apron and a scarf. The race is followed by a church service.

Since 1950 Olney has competed with Liberal in Kansas, which holds an identical race, to see which town can produce the fastest competitor. After the 2000 race, Liberal was leading with 26 wins to Olney’s 24.

 

Italissima Caperberries and Other Delights

Brian is ‘tickled’ (I think) that his dinner party is getting ‘blogged’ this morning!  Perhaps it’s a special status thing to be ‘blogged’.  This concept makes me smile.  Perhaps he just thinks it’s ridiculous that someone he knows can be such a regular and fanatical writer/recorder of events.  Regardless, he told me to use his name…no initials.  I try to maintain a sense of anonymity when I’m writing out to the universe.
 
Somewhere on the highway, I realized that I had left my digital at home.  That was to some degree, a frustration, as there were so many elements to the evening that I would have photographed, certainly new images in my life!  I don’t think my words this morning will capture the warm, rich, friendly sense of the event.
 
First of all, Brian lives in a small town surrounded by country…the beautiful vast sort of land that makes every Albertan quiver…well, at the least, it makes me that happy!  I love the sky…I love how the land spills out and then how small roads take you down into river/creek valleys…and how once again you are scooped up to a new view.
 
Brian and I became friends in 1975.  He was the one who had the patience to hike the coulees with me. (I was somewhat obsessed with walking EVERYWHERE at the time.)  He was the one who showed me the mountains for the first time (as they really need to be seen/experienced)…civilized hiking it would seem to him now compared to the sorts of places/distances he hikes these days. 
 
 
Bill and Brian have been hiking sections of this trail for some time now…an amazing experience and apparently, this vision only after having shared most of the Rocky Mountain wilderness together!
 
Brian shared Waterton with me.  He opened up the wilderness to me.  And this is a gift that can only grow inside a little painter-lady’s heart.  So, I feel much gratitude this morning as I write for the quirky little bit of time we shared along this road called life.
 
I was welcomed with open arms.  I hadn’t seen Brian since 1978.  And there I was smack dab in the middle of his livingroom, receiving a warm hug, an enthusiastic welcome and the sense that our friendship had transcended 28 years.  One of Brian’s friends was standing at the counter, setting beautiful fresh flowers into a dinner table arrangement.  And shortly thereafter, I met Brian’s three well-spoken and interesting children…and R’s fiance.
 
I was poured a glass of the most wonderful wine, A-MANO!  The chef was somewhat frazzled as he announced that his gourmet delights were two hours behind schedule.  His Jeep had ‘cratered’ while he was running his errands that afternoon….an unexpected twist to the day!  A lovely antipasto tray was filled up with wonderful cheeses, meats and treats….asiago….provolone…prosciutto….lovely roasted peppers….artichokes….Caperberries…olives of every sort!  It was heavenly!  I was participant in the little ‘rolling’ action…and given a camera, I would have taken a photograph of Brian at this point, mixing homemade ravioli dough.
 
No, I had never heard of Chris Isaak before!  I can’t believe that this particular link compares him to Roy Orbison…but yes, for fact, he is a crooner!  It was a very cute thing to hear Brian singing along to the tunes.  I experienced a tad of nostalgia as I heard Yellow Bird a few times through the course of the night.  That was a song that my father used to love.
 
 
Brian was heavily ‘into’ this music, although it seemed briefly that Nora Jones interjected a tune or two.  He’s a good enough friend, that on another visit, I will bring some of my tunes and see what he thinks!
 
We chit chatted, all the while working away at things.  At some point I viewed photographs of ruins and geckos and three guys having a ton of fun on a recent vacation to Mexico.
 
Cooking was interspersed with tours of Brian’s beautiful home, spilling over with personal touches and renovations…a gorgeous combination of earth tones, amber light and warm inviting features.  At different points, guests arrived and all began to participate in the meal prep in one way or another.  I moved into the position of ‘pasta roller’ and began to fill the ravioli.  It was a delightful experience!  I failed to write down the entire menu for the evening….but, will attempt to summarize it here.
 
Homemade ravioli stuffed with potato, parmigiano cheese and Italian sausage….covered with a beautiful savory vegetable ragou. Risotto, Tuscan chicken breasts prepared with oven-roasted lemon, olives and capers, beautifully prepared spinach….this all served with lovely red wine.
 
 
Dessert….lemon souffle, along with homemade icecream and a lemoncello liqueur.
 
Dinner conversation was as rich as the menu…filled with chat about movies, books, the state of the worlds resources, race, stereotypes, India, global weather patterns, wedding planning, Paris, London, painting, law, career paths, life.  I met very good people with interesting experiences to share.  I felt welcomed into a new and ‘magical’ circle of friends.  As I drove home late last night, I was truly FILLED TO THE BRIM, having shared in abundance of every sort.  I am going to rent two movies as a result of some bits of conversation….Water and Born Into Brothels.

On Writing

The act of writing is something inherent for me…morning writing is like eating breakfast and sometimes I just can’t get enough of it! ?When I write, it’s as though I’m consuming a beautiful muffin, broken up in a bowl, sprinkled with fruit and soaked in cold milk.  Writing is THAT good!  Some of my friends wonder how I find the time to write.  I likely choose to write sometimes when I could be washing the bathroom floor. I don’t think that life should be so busy that you don’t routinely take the time for the things that you love.  Do you? 
 
A person has to wonder about blogging as well.  Why is the globe covered with a zillion bloggers…all writing their thoughts down furiously? They share words about pain, pleasure, relationship, suffering, world events, politics, faith, their children, their cats, journeys and sitting still.  What is this about?? I think that writing gives human beings the sense that they are touching a new part of themselves, a part that lies deep down in a quiet, undiscovered spot in their hearts. Goodness!  Bloggers even write about words…and writing! Some of my favourite blogs are written by playwrites and poets and published authors…writers wondering about the act of writing!   
 
My favourite times involve writing handwritten notes and letters to my friends.  I like lighting a candle in the early morning hours.  I like warming milk and sipping it, all the while writing.  I put my feet up on a chair and think about the person I am writing to…think about my intent…explore memories and offer out to them, my words.
 
I have a writing project underway at my workplace.  A student and I are collaborating on a book about writing poetry through a school year.  It is our goal to attempt publication at the end of next year.  While the structure has some work, the bits are ‘beautiful’ and we are both excited.  There are other sorts of writing that I explore as well…but I hesitate to say, "I am writing a book".  The truth is, I wouldn’t be surprised if I write several books…I just find writing such a natural extention of my thoughts, sometimes more so than my painting.
 
Speaking of which…
 
This day begins with writing…like all days.  I will be spending somewhere near six hours in the studio today alone, painting. Writing gives my day a capital letter.  And if all moves smoothly, writing will also give the punctuation mark.
 
 

Rice Pudding

Stovetop Rice Pudding

I have pretty good memories of rice pudding from when I was growing up, though that’s equally tinged with less than fond memories of buffet restaurants serving their idea of rice pudding. In any case, I finally decided it was time I give it a try. Typically I’ve always had the baked ones with the nice brown crust on top, but I was feeling kind of lazy the first time out. This recipe is pretty good, though not quite as tasty as I remember the baked ones my Mom made being, but it has the big advantage of only requiring one saucepan. Just cook the rice, then dump in the milk, sugar and so on, and go from there.

I found this recipe as posted to rec.food.recipes on December 31, 1995 by Robyn Walton <mikeace@ix.netcom.com> under the name Creamy Rice Pudding. Personally I’d say it makes two good servings, but after a large meal I expect you could stretch it to four.

  • 1.5 cups cooked rice
  • 2 cups milk, divided
  • 0.33 cups sugar
  • 0.66 cups raisins
  • 0.25 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 0.5 teaspoons vanilla
  • Dash nutmeg or cinnamon, optional

Combine rice and 1.5 cups milk, sugar and salt in heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat. Stir occasionally until thick and creamy, 15-20 minutes. Blend remaining half cup milk and egg. Stir into rice mixture. Add raisins. Cook 2 minutes longer, stirring occasionally. Add butter and vanilla. Spoon this into serving dishes. Sprinkle with nutmeg or cinnamon if desired. Serves 4.


Baked Rice Pudding

Encouraged by a request for my mother’s rice pudding recipe, I got it from her. It’s actually even easier than the pudding above, and also takes only one dish, but it bakes for a long time. The long baking is great to warm the house on a cold winter’s day, however, and fills it with a great smell.

  • 0.5 cups rice
  • 1 quart milk
  • 0.5 cups white or 0.66 cups brown sugar
  • 0.5 teaspoons salt
  • 0.25 teaspoons nutmeg
  • 0.5 cups seedless raisins

Combine rice, milk, sugar and salt; pour into buttered 1.5 quart baking dish. Bake in slow oven (300F) one hour; stir occasionally. Add nutmeg and raisins; continue baking another 1.5 to 1.75 hours. Makes six servings (though I ate it in two sittings).

 Brian Edmonds

My favourite-ricepuddingexperience, until recently, was enjoying the recipe prepared daily by Bill of The Deluxe Restaurant.  While waitressing through my University-year summers, Bill would share his secret recipes with me over our coffee breaks. I remember that I read the book Dear Theo (Van Gogh’s letters to his brother) over the same coffee breaks. Yes…for sure!  Rice Pudding!  Perhaps I’ll send Bill’s recipe for Pork Hocks at a later date!  Somehow I don’t think it will be quite so popular! Funny!

I apologize that some have misunderstood this to be my Mom’s recipe for rice pudding…however, I DID publish the author’s name….the Brian dude.  What’s funny though, is that almost everyone who has written me today, including my daughter in London, England is making a version of rice pudding at this very moment!  I’m going to make some when I get home as well!  It just seems to be the thing to do!  Adding raisins??

Images

I can not sleep.  I think it has to do with busy thoughts around some painting that I begin next Wednesday night in our church sanctuary.  I browsed some books before bed…historical works around The Sacred…very literal works and I’ve become consumed….and late at night!  Good grief.
 
I’ve warmed milk and am sipping…and breathing and thinking that shortly, when tucked into warm blankets, I will be able to sleep.  I’ve spent some time looking at Michael Kenna’s black and white photographs as I’ve been attempting to quiet my mind.  The images are so subtle that they feel calm…give a sense of simplicity…and yet, are complex through that simplicity.  Good night.
 

Hockey

It’s unfortunate…the result of Canadian Men’s Hockey today…I celebrate the fact that the result was not the same for Canadian Women’s Hockey!  I’ve met Cassie Campbell…what a fine woman!  Truly an event to celebrate!  Go Canada!  Go!
 
 
Take the time to look at the other photos on this site please.
 
 
At home, it was always Hockey Night In Canada on Saturday nights.  A huge bowl of popcorn held in my father’s lap…to be dished out in small portions to the rest of us.  Cold Pepsi was poured out into glasses, along with a couple of ice cubes.  It was always a magical time.  I grew up with three brothers playing hockey.  I liked their games.  It meant hot chocolate and connecting with friends.  There was lots of bellowing from the benches.  Often the games were played out in arenas built in hangars on the airbases where we lived. There was skating at night on my Dad’s backyard rink.  I grew up loving hockey. It’s a sport still very close to my heart!
 
I remember my mother scratching my back as I poured myself over her lap while the Saturday teams played…names like Esposito, Keon, Horton, Beliveau, Richard, Mahovlich, Howe….the players of the original six!  Those were such days for Canadian hockey!

Weekend Bliss

The weekend comes to an end and I am left with a feeling of such peace.  It will be a busy week as I am swooshed up into the events of teaching, all of the rituals surrounding assessment and mark entry and accountability.  However, I enter into it, with the sense that there is a remarkable balance in my life.
 
The time I shared with my children this weekend was of the sort of quiet conversation and connection.  Sometimes a parent supposes that it’s essential to DO SOMETHING….attend a movie or go out to a restaurant for ‘eats’ with her children.  In contrast, this was a flopping-on-the-bed-and-talking-sort-of weekend…laughter while observing the pets…sharing food-inventions.  It was nice.
 
These events were mixed in with an 89th birthday meal in the country, a ya-ya gathering and a lunch shared with teaching girlfriends.  There was a special chess game and lots of candle light….time painting/chatting in the Chapel….and watching slideshows at kitchen tables.  It was a full rich time and I leave it feeling rested and grateful!

Elliot Eisner

 
It was a wonderful opportunity today to hear Elliot Eisner in person…to shake his hand and to share brief words of mutual support and validation.  He lacks charisma as a public speaker, but the content of his lecture was rich.
 

"As you can tell I am not thrilled with the array of values and assumptions that drive our pursuit of improved schools. I am not sure we can tinker towards Utopia and get there. Nor do I believe we can mount a revolution. What we can do is to generate other visions of education, other values to guide its realization, other assumptions on which a more generous conception of the practice of schooling can be built. That is, although I do not think revolution is an option, ideas that inspire new visions, values, and especially new practices are. It is one such vision, one that cuts across the grain, that I wish to explore with you today.

The contours of this new vision were influenced by the ideas of Sir Herbert Read, an English art historian, poet, and pacifist working during the middle of the last century.  He argued and I concur that the aim of education ought to be conceived of as the preparation of artists. By the term artist neither he nor I mean necessarily painters and dancers, poets and playwrights. We mean individuals who have developed the ideas, the sensibilities, the skills, and the imagination to create work that is well proportioned, skilfully executed, and imaginative, regardless of the domain in which an individual works. The highest accolade we can confer upon someone is to say that he or she is an artist whether as a carpenter or a surgeon, a cook or an engineer, a physicist or a teacher. The fine arts have no monopoly on the artistic.

I further want to argue that the distinctive forms of thinking needed to create artistically crafted work are relevant not only to what students do, they are relevant to virtually all aspects of what we do, from the design of curricula, to the practice of teaching, to the features of the environment in which students and teachers live. "

 

Taken from:

http://www.infed.org/biblio/eisner_arts_and_the_practice_of_education.htm

A Map of Glass: Urquhart

A beautiful read!  I’ve just finished this book….a Christmas gift from my wonderful daughter!  There are so many notions explored here that come up again and again for me…given my military upbringing…my preoccupation with issues of memory, writing, art and landscape…given my forever-concerns around the changing environment!  I’ve collected just a few questions to be considered as one tackles this book.  Urquhart is not a writer for everyone…but I find her themes of utmost concern to me.  Enjoy!
 
1. "Renaissance poets and playwrights were obsessed with what they called Mutability, or change. So is Jane Urquhart, who broods in most of her novels over a lost, pristine landscape and the smaller, more human settlements of the nineteeth century. Change is the central theme in A Map of Glass, affecting everything from forests and shorelines to human memory. List some of the irrevocable changes detailed in the book. What are some of the natural symbols Urquhart uses to underscore this theme? What is the relationship in the book between human arrogance and change? What are some of the ways characters try to arrest change, or record what is passing? Is change ever seen as good in the novel?"
 
2."Several characters in A Map of Glass are visual artists, whether they know it or not — Annabelle, Bran, Jerome, Mira, and Joseph Woodman. When Sylvia tells Jerome about the tactile maps she makes for her blind friend Julia, he tells her that she, too, is making art. Some art fixes something real or imagined into permanence or semi-permanence; other art, like Mira’s performance work, is transitory. Discuss the different kinds of art and artists in the book. How do they echo or illuminate some of the novel’s concerns."
 
3."After he finishes reading Andrew’s journals, Jerome remarks that “maybe landscape — place — makes people more knowable. Or it did, in the past” [p. 336]. How do various characters in the novel exemplify this idea? In A Map of Glass, landscape or a strong sense of place can be an imprisoning force; with other characters, it is a source of safety or freedom. Discuss the main characters’ reaction to their present or remembered landscape."
 
 
Ask yourself about the landscape you most ‘connect’ with…what is the history you have with that place?  How do you return to it again and again;  if not physically, then in your head?  Write your thoughts down and give them to someone you love.