Friday, December 18, 2009

Ode To Nuts & Bolts

During Christmas days
Comes a snack to amaze
That surpasses all the buffets
And makes you just want to graze

In a Rubbermaid tin
Comes temptation to sin
While shoveling it in--
You can't stop once you begin

John's granny started this tradition
Which has become Crissy's mission
To assemble the secret composition
And make stuffed library workers her ambition

Nuts, Cheerios and Chex
Then butter soaked pretzels next
Worcestershire and celery salt flecks
Flavors and crunch more addictive than sex

Just a little more, then I'll quit
Put it away--I'm ready to commit
Well, maybe a handful I can permit
It's all gone, I'll admit

Now Christmas can commence
and I will say in my defense
that it's only common sense
that Nuts & Bolts be consumed without pretense.


Friday, November 27, 2009

East Side Crisis Center & Food Pantry

When I began helping at the East Side Crisis Center about 6 years ago, I was taught to interview by a woman from my church, Virginia Mann. We have to ask folks who come to receive help whether they are working, what their job prospects are, what their monthly income is. Part of it is to fulfill a federal guideline. Part of it is to get a sense of what people’s needs are and if there is any way we can help. Our interview ends with me asking people if they would like to pray with me.

Nothing prepared me for the answers I get. People tell me about living on $300 a month, some people on SS get $600-$700 for a couple. Of course some have no income at all at the moment. Some have just had their sister’s kids or their grandkids move in after the mom has gone to jail. Some have had huge medical bills that sapped their resources. Most are folks that have just lived their whole lives in poverty and don’t seem aware that their incomes are shocking to me.

But the really surprising part is that many tell me how blessed they are by God, how they couldn’t get by without God’s help, and I have only met a handful of people who did not want to pray with me. I have been humbled by people who can get by on less per month than I spend on groceries, and who still can count their blessings.

I’m not trying to paint a picture where everyone who comes in is wonderful and spiritual because it isn’t like that. But each time I go I relearn the lessons that there is a big difference between what I think I need and what I really need, and that our sense of gratitude to God has more to do with our hearts than our wallets. It is also a way to remember that there are lots of people, real people, who are struggling on a daily basis just to get a meal on the table. It’s easy and convenient to forget them, and the Crisis Center helps me not to forget.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Push/Precious


I read Push by Sapphire last night. The reason I read it is probably more interesting than my thoughts on the book.

I know this guy professionally, Gerald, and he's shy, pretty content to stay in the background. Or at least that's been my impression. We ended up sitting next to each other at restaurant after a day getting ready for a conference we both had a part in organizing. I wondered if we'd be able to find anything to talk about. I asked him what the library branch he manages is like. After some small talk he warmed to his subject, he started talking about some authors he liked, and how he has tried to find African American fiction that his patrons, his customers, will read. He said how he loves Toni Morrison, but he knows she's hard for lots of folk to start with, so he's built up the collection with other books to draw them in.

Gerald really got excited when he talked about Push and how much he is looking forward to the movie. He said even though it's a really disturbing book to read, it is eventually redemptive. I was just loving how eloquent and enthusiastic this shy man had become, so I had to read it.

He made me happy I'm a librarian.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Persimmons

This has been the fall of persimmons. It started on a walk through campus when I saw something orange squashed on the path. I looked up and beheld a tree full of small orange fruits. I picked up the squashed mess and smelled a rich fruit smell. Looking around I found an intact fruit and sampled it--yum! (I guess many civilized people wouldn't do that, but I am channeling Euell Gibbons).

From then on I started gathering persimmons, reading up on them, and learned a bit about different varieties. The native ones (diospyros virginiana) are small and need to be very ripe to have a sweet taste--firm ones are extremely ascerbic. I tried dehydrating them but the seeds are hard to remove and their presence in the dried fruit made them too difficult to eat. So I tried cooking them with a little water and rubing out the seeds. This wasn't easy but the resulting pulp was great in a cake. The flavor was reminincent of dates.

Today I bought Fuyu commercial persimmons (grown in Georgia) at Publix and they are great! Such a soft, sweet flavor.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Reading Something Different

Book clubs are good because they give you a nudge to read some things you wouldn't normally gravitate to. Like right now I am reading a Western called Big Sky. Written in 1947 byA.B. Guthrie, it is set in the 1830s. There are no cow boys and fewer cows, just buffalo and big horned sheep and lots and lots of open land. It's not exactly chic lit!

Guthrie, who died in 1991, grew up in Montana and had a passion for the West. I read that his novels don't idealize the open untamed country, but neither does he consider all taming of the wild as progress. I am trying not to read too much literary criticism yet, because I already saw two "spoilers" and I hate knowing what will happen. But I will read more when I finish.

Meanwhile I am really grossed out about how the "mountain men" had a diet that consisted almost entirely of meat! They had whiskey and coffee when they could, but no bread, vegetables, or even salt for their meat! They just kill buffalo and roast their favorite parts on sticks over the fire. I'm not vegetarian, but all that mean--yuck!