throw it out and start all over

Be willing to be a beginner every single morning.
Meister Eckhart


(harvest time, in the dead of winter, go figure / Julie Cook / 2018)

Here in northwest Georgia, we are currently in the midst of our typical dreary Georgia winters…
grey, damp, misty, rainy and utterly foggy…
all of which gives way to just a sunless chilly dampness that gives way a heavy case
of the “meh’s”…
Not depressed but not joyful.
Not sad but not perky.

Yet despite this damp dreariness, believe it or not, all the citrus trees, that have been
moved to the basement for the season, are now bearing a plethora of fruit…
go figure!

So when life gives you an abundance of lemons in the dead of winter…
I suppose one gets busy making
something lemony.

Of which I did…today (yesterday by the time you’re reading this today)

I was going to look up lemon recipes that require a good bit of juice but I was
in the process of “migrating” again my old computer to the new computer.
It seems that the 5 hours required the other day was not enough,
I needed to add two more hours today in order to complete the “migration”…
I don’t think it takes geese that long to migrate!

Computer migration meant I wouldn’t be looking for all things lemony on the computer anytime soon
so I would be doing so with my phone instead. Sigh.

Searching, reading and squinting, I found a recipe for a lemony loaf cake that needs 1/2 cup
of fresh juice.

Perfect.

I headed to the basement in order to pluck what lemons were ripe…6 for now.
3 limes and 2 tiny calamondins.

I zested three lemons and juiced them while the butter softened.

My phone screen kept closing so I kept having to find a clean finger in order to touch the screen
and click back on the recipe.

I read over what I needed, what the oven needed to be set on and scanned over the step by steps–
in between the on and off screen…

I creamed the butter with the sugar, I added the eggs, I shifted the flour,
I measured the baking soda, baking powder, salt…
WAIT
was that 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder or
was it 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon baking powder???????

It was too late, I had gone with the first thought…
that being the full teaspoon of the baking soda and
the 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder.

When I clicked my phone from black back to the recipe, I read I had reversed the two…
I tasted the batter…yuck…definitely too much soda.
The lemon juice seemed to make it start growing in the bowl.
Now I’m no chemistry major, but there was certainly a reaction beginning to react…

But what the heck, what’s 1/2 teaspoon too much??

I poured my “growing” batter into the pan…oddly it was now right at the rim and seemed
to still be growing…
I fretted what would happen when it hit the heat????

I shoved a sheet of foil underneath in case it opted to spill over.

I set the timer and quickly grabbed my phone now with two dirty hands yet full attention.

I quickly googled what happens if one adds more soda than what is called for.

All of the listed articles might as well as have had a nuclear warning sign as a header
as each one read of disaster.

The batter will taste bitter and soapy. Check
The batter will expand beyond capacity especially if an acidic base is added. Check
The batter will flow out of the pan once it’s placed in the over. Double check,

Solution…

Throw it all out and start over.

One article did advise that you could possibly double the flour, butter, eggs, sugar
and make a double batch but I wasn’t going there.

I yanked open the oven door and grabbed the now overflowing pan and headed straight to the trashcan.

I started over.

This time being careful to get my soda and powder measurement right.

I threw out 2 cups of flour, 1/2 cup of lemon juice, 3 eggs, 1/2 cup of milk, 1 stick of butter,
1 Tbl of lemon zest…a huge waste but the only salvageable option.

And so as I started over from scratch on this now seemingly costly cake of mine,
I was reminded that we are currently perched on the tossing out of one year
as we prepare to start fresh on a new year.

I can honestly say that I am happy, for many reasons, to be tossing out this past year.

It’s like my batter with the too much soda, it just needs to be thrown out and started anew…
despite the seemingly lost cost.

On a personal level, this past year was a blessing in that we had great joy with the birth of this
first grandchild of ours…and the news of another one soon on his way…
As well as with the successful retiring of a 50-year business.

Yet I can’t help but think about this country of ours and of our global community.
The uncertainty.
The hatefulness.
The sinfulness.
The anger.
The turning away from our Judeo / Christian heritage.

I can only pray that God, in His Mercy, will continue to afford us His Grace…
And that He will indeed remain gracious and merciful to his wayward children.

I pray that we can hold onto a continued sense of hopefulness while we look forward to a
fresh beginning…because Lord knows, it’s time we get a brand new fresh start!
Just like my cake…that finally turned out a great success.

Here’s to a hope-filled successful new year for us all!!!

“Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…”

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:16

So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary

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Psalm 63: 1-8
O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
My soul is satisfied as with a rich feast,
and my mouth praises you with joyful lips
when I think of you on my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
(Revised Standard Version)

Here is the aside lesson based on the photograph:
The above photograph is a picture of deer moss, Cladonia Evanii, (or so I think identified properly) which is not so much a moss or plant but rather a lichen…it is also known as Reindeer Lichen. It’s a bit between a cross of a fungus and an algae. Lichens are known to grow from woodland areas to the tundra areas of arctic regions and are found on all 7 continents. This particular lichen grows in pillow-like mats and is an indicator of a healthy environment. They are edible, with proper preparation, and have been used as the catalyst for distilled spirits in Scandinavian countries as well as in Russia.

These types of lichen have been the go to nutrient for those lost in the wilderness and yield themselves to being great tinder for starting a fire—a wonderful little survival gem which may be eaten (do prepare with soakings and cooking as I read it can cause terrible gastric distress if consumed raw) or made into a nutrient rich tea. If you’ve ever watched a Bear Grylls show, this stuff is right up his alley!

In the photograph you may be able to note some red little specks dotted about–these are the tops of another member of the lichen family known as redcoat lichen, matchstick lichen or British moss—as the little red tops “liken” 😉 themselves to the coats of the Revolutionary British soldiers. I’ve remembered the story about these little guys ever since I was in girl scouts.

We had gone to Callaway Gardens, a 65,000 acre resort complex first envisioned in the 30’s by the Callaway family, and opened to the public in the 50’s—it is a vast tribute to nature, horticulture and agriculture—a wooded respite about 1.5 hours south west of Atlanta founded by the wealthy Callaway family–and is today a living legacy to their vision of protecting native plants, in particular a specific species of azalea–our girl scout troop had made the journey to Callaway Gardens for a weekend campout. We were escorted through the nature trails by a guide who pointed out all sorts of native plants, moss and trees….it was just one of those little tidbit pieces of information that just seems to stick in one’s memory.

One of my favorite pastimes is to traverse local woods–escaping the “cityesque” urban life, albeit momentarily, to wander aimlessly through the woods. I can still marvel at the various plants and trees—often finding antler sheds from the deer, feathers from birds—with the owl, turkey or hawk feathers being of great significance. I suppose I often yearn to leave my world and enter into what I consider to be “God’s” world—as nature is truly His creation—certainly not ours.

It is when I am out and about in the woods, or mountains, or by the sea….any place that is of Nature- that I can feel closer to God. I’ve often said that throughout my posts–how I feel closer to God when I’m out of and away from my manmade world. It’s as if a transformation takes place within my very being. Everything slows down. The looming troubles of life seem to dissipate. All that seems to matter is that very moment, me and my surroundings. The songs of the birds, the rustling of the leaves underfoot, the wind rushing through the tops of the trees, to spy a glimpse of a deer or wild turkey —all tiny gifts delivered to me from my Creator.

It is at these times I can almost hear God….”so I have looked upon you in the sanctuary….”–this is when I realize just how “my soul thirsts for you…” this is where I feel as if “I have been satisfied with a rich feast…”—a feast for my eyes and senses….it is here when I know that “I am sheltered under the protection of His wing….and I will sing praises of joy…”

Thank you for Your creation—the wonders that renew and refresh my weary soul.

Seek out “nature” and all that it represents.

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(photograph: Yachats, Oregon, The Pacific Rim trail/ Julie Cook/ 2013)

“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard.”
Standing Bear

I often find that if I can remove myself slightly from my world–form those things which constitute my world…a city, an interstate, a town, a computer, a cell phone, a house, a school, a television, concrete, wood, metal, plastics, glass, gasoline, oil, synthetics, chemicals, buildings, manmade structures, electronics, stores, malls, strip-malls…on and on the list goes and grows—if I can remove me from all of that or remove all of that from me–or at least from some of it….striping down to the bare bones…stripping down to me and what remains—then it’s pretty much just me and what is not of me and my world…that which is left behind from all of the bravado of man—and that is the simplicity of “nature”—this is when, finally, I can clear my head, my thoughts, my vision….I can gain an entirely new perspective—

Standing Bear is correct in his observation. Man’s heart does become hard in “his” world. We incorrectly take the stance that we are masters of our world. We falsely believe we have conquered the world—as our high rise buildings rise up into the clouds. As our mass transit whisks us here and there…as our planes ascend heavenward taking us with them to new lands and new people…as we bombard our senses with the constant drone of noise—music, television, bells, whistles, engines, sirens, screeching…..on and on it goes…..

But the silence—-the silence of the wind, the lapping or even roaring sea, the swaying rustling trees, the songs of the birds, the rambling, babbling streams and creeks, the small buzz of a bee moving from blossom to bloom…..that is the catalyst for a calming spirit…the ability to finally exhale. To clear the mind. To hear one’s thoughts. To hear one’s heartbeat……….

I need “nature” and all that it entails. I need it to cleanse my spirit and soul as it helps me to be more humane…a better human. It reminds me that I am not master of the universe. That I, and my world may come and go, but that “It” will remain—perhaps battered and bruised in our wake, but it will indeed remain long after I come and go.

If it’s been a while since you’ve gotten to remove yourself from your world and seek that which is not man-made—it is important that you do so—even if it is to make for a city park, taking your shoes off and setting foot in the cool grass. To hear the birds sing, to breathe in something other than exhaust. To slowly meander by the waterways……it immediately has a physical effect on your body as your pulse and heart rate slow—your breathing not as labored…it is refreshing and renewing and essential…..

On this new day to a new week, promise yourself some time to seek that which is not man made—even if it is but a drive out in the country—just being able to change your view to that which is of Nature and not of man is powerful!

Breathe deep whenever possible………