quench your thirst…and make some $$$

Sen. Joe Biden buys lemonade at the 2007 Itali...

Image via Wikipedia

Have you ever sold lemonade from a makeshift stand as a child? I have. Those were the good old days, when making a living was simpler. When I needed some spending money, my best friend and I would just throw together some cardboard boxes, from which we’d sell our freshly-made beverage.

In my time, we probably sold a cupful of lemonade for no more than a nickel. Maybe some kind adult would spend a dime so we could sell out faster, and get down to the real business…of playing. This recipe reminded me of my childhood and some of the fun times my friends and I had. Of course, in those days lemonade was…well, lemonade, made with lemons, water and sugar. I don’t think my mom would’ve pitched in for some fancy, schmancy fruits to add. She’d have probably asked “What are you making? Watermelon Raspberry Lemonade?!?” I don’t think she would’ve followed it up with “Are you crazy or something?!?” But you never know…you never know.

So go help your kids set up a lemonade stand, and do pitch in for the extra ingredients. After all these are not the “good old days,”…these are the “better than ever days.” And have a cupful yourself. Then get out there, enjoy the day with your kids…and play!!! Take the opportunity when you can, for one day you’ll be reminiscing like me…about the “good old days.”

Watermelon Raspberry Lemonade

Raspberries (Rubus Idaeus).

Image via Wikipedia

6 cups watermelon cubes (seeds removed)
1/4 cup raspberries
1 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 lemon juice

Place watermelon, raspberries and water in blender
container; cover and blend until smooth. Strain
through fine-mesh strainer into pitcher. Stir in sugar
and lemon juice until sugar dissolves. Refrigerate
until chilled, about 1 hour. Makes 4 servings.

Obviously you’ll have to up the quantity of ingredients. I don’t think 4 servings is going to make successful entrepeneurs of your children. Unless, of course, they have a little bit of Christ in them. You know, like when he multiplied a few fish and loaves of bread in order to feed the masses gathered about him. Or unless your little ones can pull off some of the stunts I’ve seen magicians do now days on America’s Got Talent.” What am I thinking? If you’ve got budding magicians in your household…forget about lemonade stands…even ones selling fancy, schmancy…Watermelon Raspberry Lemonade!

…save me a cup…oh, by the way…what’s the price?…hugmamma.  

 

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an easter gift to ourselves, feeding the hungry

Spent a couple of hours Saturday evening volunteering once again at the community hall serving dinner to those who wandered in from the street. My husband and I decided to fill in wherever needed, rather than commit to a regular schedule. As with most who offer their time, it’ll probably work out to be once-a-month that I prepare a dish that we bring along for the meal.

While 2 or 3 of the women are there more often because they coordinate the effort, others like us are there now and then. As for the needy, most seem to be regulars who are familiar with the routine. They’re very respectful as they enter the hall. Early by about 15-20 minutes, the men and women mill about, settling into chairs while they wait. If dessert is set out some might help themselves to a little, probably too hungry to wait, while others wander about aimlessly, perhaps too antsy, and hungry, to sit still.

Meatloaf

Image by su-lin via Flickr

The woman-in-charge was delayed, so we waited until she arrived to serve up dinner. We didn’t know where the second pan of meat loaf and a side dish of cauliflower were, or if they’d even been delivered. The coordinator arrived, the food was found warming in the oven, and the meal was ready. Meanwhile, the diners had lined up along one side of the hall, patiently waiting to be invited to step up and be served.

Salad with vinaigrette dressing

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I served the meatloaf, another woman served the risotto dish she’d made, a middle-school boy helped with the tomato/mozzarella salad with balsamic vinaigrette I’d assembled, while his mom served up an ambrosia fruit salad. The diners helped themselves to garlic bread and the dessert of homemade strawberry shortcake.

There were a couple of newcomers that made me reflect. One was a young boy about 15 years old, I think. He looked as though he’d not bathed in a while, his hair disheveled, his face streaked with dirt, his ti-shirt and pants wrinkled and perhaps a little smelly. He arrived late, quietly approached the table, and mumbled that he was starving. My mother’s heart quickly sprang into action, offering him a couple of helpings of meatloaf, huge servings of mashed potatoes and risotto, and several slices of the tomato/mozzarella salad. He also got a spoonful of the cauliflower dish from another volunteer.The boy accepted everything gratefully, as they all do. Of course they may not like everything, but they’re not forced to eat it all. Later I did see the young man very discreetly throw out what remained on his plate, including the tomatoes and cheese. I felt for him as he stood at the  trash bin, seeming unsure as to whether or not he should discard the food given him. I think he did, finally. I’m glad. Just because he’s destitute, doesn’t mean he’s not free to still choose. My husband said he’d encountered the boy as he neared the hall. Standing outside until he could be useful, my husband informed the boy who asked what time it was, that, in fact, a meal was being served for any who desired to partake. My husband was also touched to see such a young person obviously in need of something to eat.

strawberry shortcake

Image by QuintanaRoo via Flickr

Late into the meal, a mother pushing a stroller arrived, accompanied by a younger relative carrying the baby. We had to scrape together what remained of the food, except for the salad of which there was lots left since I’d brought 3 platters. The latecomers seemed happy to be getting whatever they could. They, and the others, are a reminder that there are those who will eat anything, rather than have nothing whatsoever to eat.

As he did the last time we volunteered, my husband got to work scrubbing what serving dishes were emptied of food. Most had been cooked in disposable aluminum foil pans which were tossed, so there was less to clean up than before. As a result we left earlier than others who remained behind chatting. In taking our leave, we agreed that it was another evening well spent at the community hall. It felt especially good since we were celebrating Easter the following day. Feeding the hungry meant we were doing what Christ had done.

What Good Are These For So Many?

Image by andycoan via Flickr

giving to others…what we take for granted…hugmamma.  

“balancing action and inaction,” life

Jesus entering Jerusalem on a donkey

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Today is Palm Sunday, signifying Christ‘s triumphal arrival into Jerusalem. A week from now we will be celebrating His resurrection from death. That is the pivotal point for all Catholics, when we are saved from eternal damnation. And so today begins the holiest week in the Catholic Church, and the busiest. Each day provides us an opportunity to participate in the ritual leading up to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection.

During Jesus life on earth this next week, Holy Week, unfolded as his own personal hell. He went from riding on a donkey, his followers waving palm branches as they honored Him, to being scourged and made to carry a wooden cross, upon which he would then be nailed, a sign over his head mocking Him as king of the Jews.

The Passion of the Christ

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Actor/Director Mel Gibson‘s movie shown several years ago, was the most horrific representation of Christ’s suffering from the moment He was struck repeatedly with leather straps whose tips bore lead beads, to the crown of thorns shoved mercilessly into his scalp, to the huge nails that were hammered into his hands and feet. I was unable to watch most of the film, and I tried to muffle the sounds by shoving my fingers into my ears. I hadn’t imagined how overwhelmingly gruesome the depiction would be. That is one movie I will never be able to watch again. Never.

I find it difficult to fathom the suffering human beings can endure. After today’s lengthy reading of the scriptures, Father Brian launched into his homily. The contrast was jarring. Somber words one minute, near-shouting the next. A mimimum of movement one minute, bold, sweeping ones the next. He spoke of a friend with whom he visited in Bellingham, a town bordering British Columbia. It was almost as though Father was speaking of Job, the man who couldn’t get a break from the bad stuff life was throwing his way.

Andy, Father Brian’s friend, was married, with a baby on the way. At about the time he and his wife learned of her pregnancy, he was stricken with cancer throughout his abdomen. He was going through chemotherapy treatment, which left him depleted. Advice from friends and loved ones runs the gamut from fighting the disease with all of his might, to letting go and allowing God‘s will be done. Needless to say the ordeal has Andy wafting in and out of depression. Somewhere along the line, the doctors discovered that the cancer has spread throughout his spinal column.

Jesus calls Lazarus to Life

Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

Wouldn’t it be nice if Father Brian had the ability to relieve Andy of the cancer, by performing a miracle? That’s what the non-believers taunted as Christ hung on the cross. If He was truly the Son of God, then why didn’t His Father rescue Him? That, as we know, was not God’s will.

While Andy’s situation exemplifies human suffering at its worst, Father Brian drew a parallel between his life, Christ’s life, and our lives. Though our challenges may not be as great as theirs, like them we vacillate between agressively promoting that about which we are passionate, to passively accepting our fate and putting our lives into God’s hands. We are constantly seeking the right balance. In doing so Father concluded that we should not only pray for guidance, but that we should also find someone with whom we can openly share our sorrows.  Both will enable us to shoulder whatever burdens we will bear throughout our lives.

a fine balance…this gift of life…hugmamma.   

 

“comcast comes through!”…again

Great news! Mark Casem of Comcast Corp’s National Customer Operations has returned to save the day! I shouldn’t have doubted him, but this hectic, fragmented world being what it is, one never knows if connections will be maintained, or lost. Beyond that, I’ve always been a “doubting Thomas.” For those unfamiliar with the metaphor, Thomas was a disciple of Christ‘s who wouldn’t believe that He had risen from the dead Easter morning, until he, Thomas, could place his finger in the wounds inflicted when Christ was nailed to the cross, and where the guard had pierced a sword into His side ensuring that He was indeed dead. That’s me to a tee, a “doubting Thomas.”

My friend Sylvia has finally been in touch with Mark, and I’m hoping when I see her later today, her phone issues will have been resolved. As for my daughter’s phone problem, seems it’s gone away on its own. I pray that too will remain in the past…way, way in the past.

Should you encounter issues with Comcast, you should contact Mark Casem saying “hugmamma sent you.” He can be reached at We_can_help@cable.comcast.com, (Note that between “We” and “can” is an underline, as well as between “can” and “help.” They’re not visible because of the underline beneath the entire email address.) Mark can also be reached on Facebook or Twitter at Comcast cares or ComcastMark. He will need your account information and a link to my page. I’m not certain how you link to my blog, that’s why I recommended telling him I sent you.

we “davids” need to face “goliath” together…hugmamma.

“juxtaposition,” the holiday and the preparation

As we prepare for the holiday season, we were reminded in Mass yesterday that we are embarking upon the journey towards Christ’s birth, Christmas. As is Father Bryan’s custom, he related a personal anecdote that brought the message home.

As a seminarian, Father and others, were given the task of removing the stump of a huge, old tree that had been cut down because it was diseased. An all day job, they labored mightily to extricate every bit of remnant that remained. That included the use of crowbars, and burning the core of the stump, attempting to soften it. As he said, their voices reached skyward in prayer, as they undertook the painstaking chore. Was that his subtle way of saying that if they could swear, they might have? I’m positive most men, and women, would’ve mumbled a few choice words, and not necessarily “under their breath.” Ahhh..but Father Bryan’s on the path to sainthood, so he must mind his p’s and q’s.

The following morning, Father wandered through a garden on the property, sipping his tea, and enjoying the beautifully maintained haven. When his gaze fell upon the hole where the stump once was, and the surrounding unkempt area, he reflected upon the juxtaposition of what was lovely, and what was ugly.

During the weeks before and during Advent, we must rout out all that remains of “the ugly stump,” so that we can fully enjoy the beautiful “garden,” Christ’s birth. Father’s metaphor is probably one of the most vivid I’ve ever encountered, so that it’s imagery will probably remain with me as I prepare myself for the holidays.

Another part of the homily which was an “aha” moment, was Father Bryan’s affirmation of something to which I already subscribe. The minutiae of our daily lives is who we are, and upon them we should focus our efforts and energies. We may not always enjoy what we’re doing, but we should do them nonetheless.  I’m sure he was referring to having to remove the tree stump. 

What we do, day in and day out, as a matter of course, is the source of our happiness. Singular events come and go. They may give us a temporary boost, helping us to soar momentarily. But we always return to the mundane, the every day, the minutiae. It’s best if those things are uplifting, and positive, so that they help us move forward, living our best lives. Disapproval and negativity encourages fretful, less fulfilling lives.

preparing for the holiday season, hugs…hugmamma.

“life is messy”

I’ve decided that along with aging comes a treasure trove of “20-20” hindsight. Life would’ve been so much easier if I knew then, what I know now. Only recently, very recently, have I arrived at the conclusion that life is messy.

Because of my strict upbringing where chores were done before playtime, I was always cleaning and organizing. It’s not to say this routine isn’t a great building block for a happy life, but it contributed to a personal uneasiness as an adult, if my home wasn’t in tip-top shape.

During the first years of married life I was always stressed and upset that I had to spend the entire weekend cleaning, when I would’ve preferred to relax after working all week. My husband didn’t demand it of me; I expected it of myself as a result of the residual effects left over from life with my mom. In retrospect, I should’ve engaged my husband in doing the minimum housework necessary, and enjoyed our time doing fun things together instead. I know I would’ve liked myself better, since I wouldn’t have wasted my time and energy trying to convince my husband that he should be as anal as me about a clean house. It’s insane to think I spent those years being a martyr to a stupid house; I should’ve reveled in being the pretty, young thing my husband married, with the vision that life would be a fun-house, not a mad-house. Yikes!

I think it’s fortunate that my legacy to our daughter has been a more practical attitude toward housecleaning. Within the last decade or so, my mantra has been to  keep a “straightened and vacuumed” house, so that company is welcome any time. As long as they don’t venture to do the “white glove” test for dust, then they’ll enjoy their visit. Raising a child and accumulating a gaggle of pets quickly convinced me that I had to take things down a notch, or I’d be in an insane asylum, or my husband would have bid me adieu, or both.

But what has finally convinced me that life is messy, and it’s perfectly okay, is the current state of my home. My daughter is on a sabbatical from her job, and is home with us. We have had to reorganize closets and dresser drawers, making room for her things. Her cat Misha is also visiting. Our main bathroom has become his stomping ground, as well as the hallway where his food is located. Gates are up, keeping our dog Mocha and Misha apart when we’re asleep or not at home. My 3 cats remain downstairs in their domain, being allowed upstairs only after Misha has had his roam of the space. There have been face to face encounters, with hissing on my cats’ parts.

Misha is curious about these seemingly mysterious critters, since he’s an only “child.” He wants to get up close and personal, fearlessly getting in their faces. Luckily our cat sitter recommended hormonal wall plug-ins which have calmed our menagerie considerably, as well as lavender-scented collars which have the same effect. So far, we’ve been spared any bloodshed. Maybe one day soon, all 4 cats and 1 dog will be able to pass each other by, without so much as a backward glance. I pray for that day.

Straightening and vacuuming occur less frequently than usual. Small piles of stuff tend to accumulate here and there. My daughter and I play “bananagrams” pretty religiously. We’re definitely relaxing more than we’re cleaning, enjoying each other’s company. The pets are getting more attention, since we’re making a concerted effort to maintain peace.

Life is messy, but having our daughter and Misha share our humble home is a blessing for which I’m grateful. Cleanliness is NOT next to Godliness, my family’s happiness and togetherness is Christ present in our lives. I’m richer for the mess with which I’ve learned to live.

Life is not linear, for “detours” constantly overtake us. Life is, in fact, what we make of those “detours.” We travel a path, divert to another, retrace our steps, take another path, continue as far as we’re able, until we face another “detour.” That’s life in a nutshell! Rather than resist, we should be grateful for the gift of adventure with which God has blessed us. It’s exciting to live in the moment. Having a positive outlook can only make that moment, momentous.  

I believe we begin to die the minute we are born. But we never think of life that way; instead, we look forward to living with every ounce of our being. Nothing should diminish that excitement, so we should draw upon all the positive energy we can muster to enhance our lives, making them the best possible they can be.

Life is an hour-glass, and time is running out. Focus upon making every grain of sand, a beach on Maui where the foam-tipped waves rush up to meet you, as you run to become one with the warm, Pacific waters, contentment welling within you. God bless our lives, as “messy” as they are.

works in mysterious ways, God…hugmamma.