This weekend a long lost friend invited me over to make bread. She and I are both novices and so needed some guidance. While the bread turned out nicely, the words we read from The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book, ended up being an even more helpful lesson for my heart:
Adjusting the Consistency
Now before you continue, take a moment to evaluate the dough and decide if it is too slack or too stiff. You can learn to do this by feeling the dough. Clean your hands and moisten them slightly. Pick up the dough and squeeze it. Feel deep into the dough, not just the surface. It’s sure to be sticky and wet, but is it soft? or is it stiff? A soft, pliable dough makes a lighter bread.
Does the dough resist your touch? Does it strain the muscles in your fingers when you squeeze it? Then it is too stiff. On the other hand, the dough must have enough flour to hold its shape. Does it feel water logged, as if the flour is not contributing much substance to it? Does it have a runny, liquid quality? Then it is too slack. Again, feel deep into the dough.
This past week my mom and grandparents came out from Wisconsin to meet the newest (great) grandchild. It was a full, mind expanding week for these small-town Midwesterners. At one point I introduced my mom to some co-workers who apologized on behalf of the smoggy, cold Salt Lake weather. My mom replied in our heart-warming accent, “Oh, nO, this feels like spring tO us. This weather is great. We are just trying tO get Used tO all these big buildings. Da barns in WiscOnsin are nOt this big.” (I think she was joking, but that line still makes me chuckle. My mom is actually very well traveled).
Later that weekend I sat between my grandparents with my laptop and showed off some videos and photos from my work’s website to help them get a better idea of what I do. After the science-loving show-and-tell the following conversation ensued:
Grandma: “Harold, ask her to show you Moji Port.” (I learned that’s where my grandpa had been stationed in Japan during the Korean War, and just recently one of his closest buddies from that period of his life called him up saying that he could go on the internet and see photos of that same port).
Grandpa: “Oh, no, she’d need the internet for that.”
Me: “Actually, I am on the internet right now.”
Grandpa: “Well, do you have (pause) The Google?”
Me: “Why yes, I do have The Google!”
I proceeded to show my grandpa (who has never touched a computer in his life) the wonder that is Google Earth. We zoomed from satellite images of the farm where he grew up and raised his own family, to the other side of the globe where he served as a soldier 50 some years ago. This quiet man, who is usually just observing from his lazy-boy, kept pointing and telling stories, which trailed off in mutterings of “I was there… Gosh it’s changed a lot….” We found more photos of Moji Port on Flickr, which stirred more memories. I think we were all marveling at the wonders of modern technology and the impact it was having on my grandpa. After some time of silence my grandpa threw out a seemingly random question, “So, does anyone know what DNA looks like anyway??”
“Oh Grandpa, we do! Let me show you!” My grandparents only have high school degrees, and by the time the double helix had been discovered they were putting in long hours on the farm; DNA was familiar in name only. Using images I found on Wikipedia, I attempted to help my grandparents understand how it is possible to trace a strand of hair back to it’s original owner, and how it is possible to tell just from DNA samples how closely related two people are. My grandma was asking, “so the same exact DNA that in in my toe nail is also in my eyeball?”, when my little 2-year-old niece turned to show me something. She was playing a game on her uncle’s i-phone. While my grandpa will likely leave this world without ever using a computer, his great granddaughter will never know life without them.
The wonders did not stop there. That Sunday I witnessed the crumbling of a 30-year wall. When my mom joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, her Catholic parents were furious. They threatened to disown her as their child. She was the oldest of ten kids, raised in a home where holy water can be found at each entrance of the house and where a cross hangs above every door frame. While my mom continued to return home and we grandchildren were embraced with loving arms, we all note the silent tension when religion is spoke of. My grandparents didn’t attend our baptisms, strictly forbid other children from attending worship services with us, and frequently gave my mom anti-Mormon literature. In fact, my grandma would fly out to Utah only on the condition that they went to Mass on Sunday.
Last weekend, I was assigned to give a 10-minute talk on Christ-like Service during church, and I gave my grandparents an open invitation to come listen to me speak. When Sunday morning came, we attended Catholic Mass with my grandparents, and afterwards they joined us for Sacrament meeting, so they could listen to my talk. So simple. And so beautiful. That simple act of openness and love is still blowing me away.
I get a kick out of the stats that wordpress provides for me concerning traffic on my blog. While traffic is sparse (thanks to you few who read this), sometimes the results are entertaining. Recently, the top word search that directed people to my blog was: “middle school streaking”. These words can be found on this post. Love it.
While recently staring into a slushy puddle on the side of the road, a spot of oil spillage reminded me of the Hubble’s 2009 Advent Calendar. My memory tripped me back to 2001 when I learned the phrase: “as is the microcosm so is the macrocosm. I learned about this concept during a course I was taking entitled Science of Creative Intelligence. It was taught through 33 films by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who you might know from this song.
Here are some of my favorite Hubble Space Telescope images from the 2009 Advent Calendar:
And here are my microcosmic photos taken of the oil-splotched puddle on the side of the road:
There is little more glorious to me than waking bright-eyed in the early morning hours and being fully alert to witness the earth’s rotation sun-ward. It was Thoreau’s passage in Walden about mornings that made me fall in love with the man.
Here’s a taste:
“All memorable events, I should say, transpire in morning time and in a morning atmosphere. (…) It matters not what the clocks say or the attitudes and labors of men. Morning is when I am awake and there is a dawn in me. Moral reform is the effort to throw off sleep. (…) To be awake is to be alive. I have never yet met a man who was quite awake. How could I have looked him in the face?
“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by a conscious endeavor. It is something to be able to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful; but it is far more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which morally we can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts. Every man is tasked to make his life, even in its details, worthy of the contemplation of his most elevated and critical hour” (Excerpted from Walden “Chapter 2: Where I Lived, and What I Lived for).
In the spirit of Thoreau I have begun a new tradition. Rather than staying up extraordinarily late on New Year’s Eve–and subsequently starting the year off in a drowsy slumber–I choose to wake up with the sun on the first of the year. Last year I went snowshoeing at sunrise. This year, in honor of the blue moon, I went snowshoeing at night and awoke early to enjoy Lehi’s Saratoga Hot Springs.
I thoroughly enjoyed the past week in the marvelous Midwest. I feel incredibly blessed to have such a wonderful family. (and I feel incredibly blessed that my flights went smoothly since my connecting airports canceled hundreds of flights during the duration of my travels). In Wisconsin, 4 foot snow mounds lined the streets and the lakes had long frozen over, allowing trucks and herds of cattle to safely traverse them. Highlights of the trip included the precariously entertaining game of ‘ice soccer’ on the pond behind grandma and gramp’s house; nourishing conversations with kin and friends; jumping on the bed and reading books with my 2-year-old niece; cleaning out the 30+ year-old food storage from my mom’s shelves; ice skating; side-splitting games of Quelf; and a mini road trip with my siblings who are all growing up so fast! Unfortunately I left my camera charger in Utah so I have very few pictures to document the holiday, but here are the few frozen memories:
ice soccer. (courtesy of Quela)