Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Mighty Army in the Night

Thus says the Lord: You shall arise and go to a faraway place, to attend a memorial service, and you shall lodge in the hotel chosen by your husband’s brother. 

And lo, even on that selfsame day I shall cause a great horde of teenaged girls to descend upon that same hotel.  I shall set you in the midst of them; verily, even shall you be staying on the same floor of the hotel as this mighty army of girls. 

And it shall come to pass, in the black and dark hours of the night, that they shall run up and down the hallway making a noise very like Pharaoh’s chariots and horses rushing into battle.  At all hours of the watch they shall talk and cackle and make all manner of noise, like a grievous swarm of flies. They shall repeatedly open and close doors, and across the hall from your room they shall stand at the door and knock, saying in a shrill voice, “Where is Benita?  She has my key!”

Then shall you arise from your bed, cry out in the night, and phone the hotel front desk, pouring out your heart like water.  And lo, for a short time all will be quiet.   Do not rest easy, though, for does not nature teach you that teenage girls without a chaperone must make noise, a noise even as the sound of war?  And lo, it shall come to pass, in less than twenty minutes time, that the noise shall be as before.

Be not hasty in your spirit to be angry: you shall for a time lie in your bed.  And you shall, in your mind, alphabetically go through hymns, singing the first verse of these praises to the Lord:
            Amazing Grace
            Be Thou My Vision
            Crown Him with Many Crowns
Draw Us In the Spirit’s Tether
            Every Time I Feel the Spirit
            Fairest Lord Jesus
And lo, you shall reach the letter “M” and be sore vexed that it is 2 a.m. and the young maidens are still awake, shouting as if in battle, slamming doors, making a joyful noise.

You shall arise once more, in your lavender paisley pajamas with hair askew. And you shall suddenly open your door, and shall confront the teenage girls who stand frozen in place in the hotel hallway, holding hair dryers and makeup.  And you shall say to them with the voice of the fierce lion, “You girls have got to quiet down!”  And they shall reply in unison, each while pointing to another, “It’s her fault.”

Then shall the Lord say unto you: Forsake your wrath.  Be joyful that these girls are not malicious.  Upon seeing you in your lavender paisley pajamas they did not mock you; neither did they threaten you or take up violence against you.  Be glad that they are not breaking the furniture or setting things on fire.  With thanksgiving in your heart, think of your own child, who is not riotous or unruly, and remember in the light of morning to tell that child that she had better not behave like these girls when she is on the marching band trip, or else.   

And there was evening and there was morning, only one night, but a really long one.  In the morning light, you shall descend to the first floor for breakfast. And there in the breaking of the bread you shall meet your husband’s brother.  And you shall recount to him the tale of your woeful night.  And he shall say to you, “What noise?  There was no noise on the fourth floor.”

                                                                                    - The Book of Peregrinations 5:1-57

Teenage Girls (but not the ones in this passage)
 - capable of making a
great deal of noise at night

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spring in Earnest

Today spring began in earnest here, with plants and flowers bursting forth from the earth, and warm sun to cheer us all.  
However, I myself seem to be lacking enough energy to write.  Chalk it up to too many religious services, I guess.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m glad to recognize and celebrate God’s mighty hand and outstretched arm, both in providing the exodus from Egypt (or escape from Emperor Palpatine, if you prefer) and Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.  

So instead of prose, I’ll just provide you with photos of flowers.  Most of these are inside flowers.  I wanted to take more photos outside, but some scofflaw in her pajamas was walking her dog without a leash, so I had to run inside.

This evening I expressed my profound gratitude to my husband by saying tenderly, "I'm glad you don't take your dog for a walk without a leash in your pajamas."  He replied, "What would a dog be doing in my pajamas?"

Bulbs to plant - a gift from a dear friend last week.

Daffodils, bowed over by stormy weather

Bunch of beauteous bulbs

A week later, these tulips are gorgeously in bloom.
I am enjoying them so much!

The hyacinth worships the box of matzo.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Episode IV.I To The Promised Galaxy

It is 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?