Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Reformation, and poetry

I've been taking a class on the history of Christianity this semester.  The author of the textbook has done a marvelous job presenting many of the different social movements and the people in history in a very sympathetic light so that I keep reading about a change in history and thinking "Yes Yes that addressed the problems of that era.  I so deeply agree or sympathize with what this person does" and then find myself turning around and saying "That was really sick.  There is so much wrong with what just happened there.  I could never accept that action or that opinion."  The experiments of human society are messy and unpleasant much of the time.  But I can' reject them because I'm human and my own world is subject to the same human imperfections.  This experience of relearning about the reformation led to my writing this poem.


The past is covered in blood.
Food robbed from the hungry
Water taken from the thirsty.
Quarrels broken into pools of blood.

I must escape this pool of blood
Restore food to the hungry
Give water to the thirsty,
And mend the wounds with the gift of my blood.

Sick of gore, the red sunrise beckons.
Come eat without price
Come drink without money,
Come cleanse your soul from blood.

The red mirage transforms to blood
The people are hungry
The children are thirsty,
And through my veins, flows blood.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What do you think, when there's nothing to think about...

Years ago I used to listen to what my family called "Boo tapes."  It was a bunch of audio dramatizations about the scriptures where a talking dog and a tree house full of kids act out and reimagine different stories.  One song that touched me deeply was talking about what must have Moroni spent his time thinking about after everyone that he knew was dead.  It suggested there were many awesome wonders of the world to contemplate and asserted that what you think about when there's nothing to think about defined who you were.  I don't like short cuts to defining yourself or other people, but it is hard to figure out how to handle those times when the emptiness just seems to want to fill up everything.

I'm socially isolated enough and have been socially isolated for long enough that I simply don't handle feeling alone very well.  I get lonely feeling pretty quickly and depression can follow as well, making it difficult to function.  Sometimes things are better or worse at work but it has not been uncommon over the last few months that I've been unable to find a way to consistently interact with anyone that I know.  When I'm dealing with an unstable group of strangers you might say that the engines in my mind that deal with socializing more or less freeze up like a car with no oil in it.  It takes me a long time to be able to function with a group of people, even when I do know them.  When I get home from work its not necessarily much better.  My wife has trouble getting proper sleep with the kids waking up during the night or trying to wake up absurdly early in the morning.  So she's typically about ready to fall asleep somewhere between 8:30-9:30 PM.  I don't get off work till 10 PM and probably won't get home till 10:30ish.  When school is going full swing we see each other during the days mostly for meal times.  Since dishes are hard to do with little boys trying to help sometimes doing the dishes falls to me after I get home from work.  I need to find ways to relax, detox all that work stress, clean up any perishables that might have gotten left out, and make a dent in dishes.

That's a lot of time spent alone.

Sometimes I listen to music, sometimes I watch movies, sometimes I listen to audiobooks.  To me, music can be a great way to do an emotional stretching exercise.  I can let the emotions of the music move me around and help get me unstuck from a negative mindset.  Movies are about social interactions between people.  If I'm having loneliness caused depression setting in watching people interact socially in a movie can be a painful reminder of the social skill sets that I don't have.  So I haven't done as many movies recently.  I only sometimes have a good audio book on hand and they are a life saver when I have them.

Mostly these days I have listened to podcasts.  I had decided that many ways in which I viewed the world were just fundamentally wrong and I started information binging to try to help myself sort the world back out again.  On some subjects there are many people who are more than willing to give you hours upon hours of time listening to them babble on about just about any subject you can imagine.  When trying to redefine how I understood the world made me feel alone in even more ways than normal those talking heads in my earphones were a life saver.  At least someone else understood the sorts of questions I was dealing with and I could listen in as they discussed all sorts of research and thinking on the subject that I simply didn't have the time to do.

I could still spend hours upon hours listening to those, but there is a problem.  I've come to a new more or less stable outlook on life.  I'm not driven as much now to answer every new question and examine every new angle on those subjects anymore.  This is good in many ways.  You can only spend so much time staring down the uncertainty of the world without it taking a severe toll on you.  But in the meantime, what do I do now for all those hours that I still am spending alone?  The podcasts no longer meet a deep need for me.  I'm typically too out of sorts to spend the time on homework.  Movies are fun, but I honestly can't enjoy watching them properly late at night like this.  It simply doesn't work.  I could just read books, but paper books are often so enthralling for me that if they were worth it from the stress management perspective I'll end up not being able to sleep because I won't be able to tear myself away from the story. 

I need a better way to not be alone when I'm alone. Unfortunately there is no easy out for an issue like this.  Life is boring sometimes.  When there is nothing to think about you still have to go on thinking.  It's just life.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

I love home made pasta

So Bonnie Jean and I purchased a pasta maker to help reduce the amount of money we spend on pasta.  I tend to take pasta to work on a regular basis as my lunch, so even though it isn't all that expensive its still something we were buying all the time.  The basic recipie we were working with turned out so well that I decided I wanted to get a pasta cookbook to help us learn all the other crazy fun ways we could use the machine.  We've gotten one cookbook so far that focuses on how to make the pasta itself and we might get another focusing on how to use the pasta in recipies or how to make sauces to go with it.  It's been a blast.

So far we've made a
basic fettuchini
half whole wheat half white flour pasta
        Either of the above altered by adding in basil, marjoram, or Garam Masalla
Lemon pepper pasta
         served with either a dijon chicken or with a pecan/garlic/olive oil/bread crumb sauce
Lime pepper pasta
         Serviced with basil avacado sauce or with sun dried tomato pesto
Chocolate Pasta
          Served with mole on top
Spinach raviolis with a filling made of feta, ricotta, breadcrumbs, onion, and spices

All of these attempts have been smashing successes.  We also used the chocolate pasta to make a chocolate/strawberry lasagna, but that needs some more work still to get it right.

The lemon pepper and lime pepper doughs are surprisingly strong.  As in strong enough that if you eat them straight the aftertaste will leave your mouth burning.  But just combining it with another sauce mellows it out and still leaves a strong citrus flavor behind.

It does take some time to make these dishes.  If I'm not helping Bonnie Jean will normally make up the noodles the night before for dishes.  But they are also fairly cheap.  For the every day pasta that I will still take to work, the 50% whole wheat dough tastes worlds better than any store bought whole wheat pasta I've ever had.  I love getting to experiment with new cooking techniques and foods.  Even if it weren't going to be so much cheaper, the 60$ or so we spent on the pasta maker was well spent.