Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Episode IV.I To The Promised Galaxy

It it part of the Passover seder tradition to tell the story of the Exodus.  Here's the version we used last night.

To the Promised Galaxy
Or “My Father Was A Wandering Alderaanian”
A Passover Story
By Youngest Daughter

Long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Abraham was told to go to a place that he would be shown by God, and to count the stars. One day, God said, his ancestors would number as much as the stars, and even live among them. This is the story of his ancestors, back then, when they did the Star Wars Exodus.

Our story begins on Alderaan, with the Emperor. He had ordered all Alderaanian boy children to die, unless Princess Leia told the location of the secret rebel base. However, one family set a young boy adrift in a space pod. His name was Moses, but his nickname was Luke Skywalker. He was discovered by Darth Vader, who took him in, and they both became servants under Emperor Palpatine.

However, when Luke was grown up, he saw the Death Star getting ready to destroy the planet Alderaan so as to get at the rebel base, and he felt a connection with the Alderaanians, which he’d never felt before. Then, he realized that he must be an Alderaanian, too, and took a shuttle to the Death Star. He destroyed the Death Star, and fled to Dagobah, where he stayed for a very long time, herding Yodas.

However, after he’d stayed there for a long while, he saw a burning bush, which is not a very usual sight in the swamp. God spoke to him through this bush, telling him to go back and convince Vader and the Emperor to let the Alderaanians go from their slavery to the Empire.

So, Luke went back to the Empire, and brought upon them 10 plagues.  First, he changed all of their water rations into blood.  Second, he brought on the uncertainty of not knowing who shot first in Han Solo’s battle with Greebo. Third, he sent down a plague of Geonosians, or alien insects. Fourth, he sent the plague of Jar Jar Bink’s extremely annoying personality.
Fifth, he sent a terrible sickness to all on the Imperial ships. Sixth, he sent Jabba the Hutt to get people frozen in carbonite. Seventh, he sent asteroid hail down on the Empire. Eighth, he sent a bunch of those worms of those asteroids, the ones that eat people unless you engage the hyperdrive.

Ninth (and this was one of the really bad ones), Luke sent down the Star Wars prequels. However, the 10th plague was the worst, as this was the death of all the first born children. Vader, who had become like a son to the Emperor, died in this plague.

After Vader died, the Emperor was convinced that he had to let the Alderaanians go, so they baked matzah and set off in their spaceships towards the Promised Galaxy.  However, Emperor Palpatine changed his mind, and sent the whole Imperial fleet after them. Soon, the Alderaanians became trapped on the edge of an asteroid belt, with the Imperial fleet closing in behind them.

However, then God sent down a miracle, and the asteroid belt was parted, allowing the Alderaanian ships through. However, God sent the asteroid belt crashing back together when the Imperial fleet came through, and the Emperor and all his soldiers died.

All Rights Reserved (that means link, don’t copy)

Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine:  The traditional wine for
Passover, no matter where you are in the universe.
Sweeter than Kool-Aid.

Alderaanian matzo bouquet

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sibling Rivalry Over Passover Bagels

Dear Reader, I don’t know if you noticed, but Passover is nearly upon us. Get ready to leave Egypt on Monday night! 

This year, I am not quite ready to leave Egypt.  I have only found time to make two batches of Passover bagels (one batch for our college kids) and one batch of Passover lemon squares ahead of time.  Right now I am off to do more baking, so I leave you with this tale of sibling rivalry from last year.

* * * * * *

First off, I made Passover bagels.  My husband suggested that next time I vary the flavoring (gasp), and his suggestion for once did not involve Cream of Mushroom soup.  So I made a foray into uncharted territory (appropriate for Passover, eh?!): cinnamon raisin flavor.  I left half of one on my son’s plate at dinner, for him to try.  He is our biggest consumer of Passover bagels, so if he likes them, I’ll make more.

He saw the inexplicable brown thing on his plate, was suspicious, and said, “What is this?” 

My husband said, “It’s the Dead Sea bagel.”

Son:  “Do you mean it’s a dead Sea-bagel, or it’s a Dead Sea bagel?”

I said, “It’s a Red Sea bagel, actually.”

Son:  “Do you mean a Reed Sea bagel?”
(He references the assertion among Biblical scholars that the Bible misnames the sea the Israelites cross.  They contend that it is not the Red Sea, as labeled on today’s maps, but a sea of reeds.)

Me:  “It’s a cinnamon raisin Passover bagel.  I want to know if you like it.”

Youngest Daughter:  “Why don’t I get to try some?”

Me:  “You told me you didn’t want any because it has raisins in it.”

YD:  “Well, if he gets to try a piece, then I get to try a piece too.”

Me:  “Okay.  Son, give your sister a piece.”

They tried this delectable baked good.   “Do you like it?” I asked.

YD:  For a Passover bagel, it’s not too bad.

Son:  It’s okay.

Me:  I guess that’s a ringing endorsement, considering it’s a Passover food.  

I wonder if Moses, Aaron, and Miriam fought over their Passover bagels, and if they had the same lukewarm testimony about them.

The Four Questions.  Add the fifth question:
"Why don't I get to try some?"

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Polyglot Snacks

A few weeks ago, our two oldest kids came home from college for March Break.  It was just like old times, with all five of us at dinner. I served a fine Italian meal:  angel hair pasta with Ragu sauce from a jar.  This is one of my ‘emergency’ meals, served when

(a) I can’t think of what else to make, or

(b) I am in a hurry because I have to go on a trip out of town the next day,

either of which constitute a Common Household meal emergency.  In this case, both (a) and (b) applied.  Here is the conversation that ensued.

Husband: This angel hair is like Ramen noodles, only without the flavor packet.

(With this comment, my husband probably intended to criticize the meal.  I considered it a compliment.  I may use sauce from a jar, but I draw the line at using flavor packets.)

Older Daughter:  You know, “flavor packet” would be incomprehensible to somebody from the 1920s.

Me:  Or to the French, at any time in history.

Son:  How do you even say “flavor packet” in French?

(Despite the fact that I was a French major in college, at that moment I could not come up with a French equivalent for either “flavor” or “packet.”)

Me:  Well, the French have flavor, but not in packets.

Husband:  Maybe you call it a “flavor pouch” in French.  “Sac de flaveur!”
(He said this with a vaguely French-like wave of the arms.)

Me:  “Sac” means “bag.”
(Anyone can easily remember this because in middle school French class we all learned that “cul de sac” means “ass of bag.”  Aren’t we glad we are not in middle school any more?)

Older Daughter:  But bags are for Cheetos.  “Sac de Cheetos!”

Son:  Their advertising slogan is “Dangerously Cheesy.”

Older Daughter, drawing on 6 years of Spanish classes:  Peligrosamente Quesamente!

Younger Daughter:  I wonder how you would say that in Latin.

* * * * * * *

Later thought led me to conclude that a direct translation of “flavor packet” into French might be “paquet de goût” (pronounced ‘pah-KAY deh GOO’).  That sounds an awful lot like “packet of goo,” which confirms to me that the French have too much culinary intelligence to need to refer to flavor packets at all.  Paquet de goo is what you get when you open a can of cream of mushroom soup, another of my husband’s favorites.  I’ll bet the French would not recognize that stuff in the can as cream of mushroom soup.

How would you say "flavor packet" in your native language?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

As Close As Air

       Prayer Poem

O Lord,
Cheer the lonely soul,
Calm the troubled heart,
Set straight the confused mind,
Be as close as air.

O Lord,
Comfort the grieving soul,
Tame the war-bent heart,
Open the proud mind,
Be as close as air.

O Lord,
Lend music to the joyful soul,
Swell the loving heart,
Lead the searching mind,
Be as close as air.

O Lord,
Enter the souls, hearts, and minds of your children.
Teach us to cheer, calm, set straight,
Comfort, tame, open,
Lend, swell, and lead
Each other toward your heavenly kingdom.
Be as close as air.

Written on Good Friday 2009, while tending the Spiritual Walk at church

* * * * * * * * *

The Common Household is feeling stunned by an unexpected death in the extended family.  I am preserving the privacy of the family so I will not say more about it, but I also could not stand to let it go completely unmentioned.

I wrote this prayer-poem five years ago, and except for sending it to one friend, this is the first time it has seen the light of day.  I wrote it a few days after a tragic, sudden, inexplicable event in Pittsburgh, an event which is still raw for many.

Upon re-reading, I realized that this poem says nothing about the body.  Yet the text of the poem itself is, in a sense, a body, containing words about hearts, souls, and minds.  

Though bodies can fail and expire, I believe hearts, souls and minds can live on.  I also believe that someday our bodies will also live again, but that particular belief is more inexplicable than any tragedy or death.

Peace to all, body and soul, heart and mind.  May you find some beauty in today.

Art work by the Common Household children, in elementary school.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

This week vs last week

Here is what we had on the ground last week.
The typical scene looking out of my front door,
for the past 37 weeks.

Then this week spring arrived. Yesterday we broke the 70 degree mark.  Woo hoo!

I was outraged when I went out today, this afternoon, and saw this.
Do you see those white vestiges of snow?!  They should not be there!

On closer inspection, I was not outraged, but just slightly annoyed.

It is not snow....

It is fake cotton fluff.  Well, okay then.
Trash is psychologically acceptable.  Snow is not.

But then I saw this, and I was overjoyed.

These have survived so far, thanks to being sprayed with Rabbits B Gone.

Yellow croci and future mini-daffodils

This is my only tulip.  I hope the deer don't get it.
Update:  The magic stuff that keeps rabbits and deer away is actually called "Liquid Fence".  Last year Cassi recommended it.  I still have the bottle from last year, and it still stinks adequately to keep the pesky critters away.  Wear old shoes and pants and don't stand downwind when you use it.