Feb 19, 2012

The Face of Jesus

Abigail and Dolley readers about three years ago I was doodling around on the internet and came across a web site on The Shroud of Turin.  The site led to another, which led to another, and as I recall I spent most of that weekend finding out everything that I could about it.  It is a fascinating study where science and history collide in a manner that is not mutually exclusive.  Occasionally, I will Google Search the Shroud of Turin to see if there is anything new and recently came across the six part History Channel special on recreating a 3D face out of the data extrapolated from the Shroud.  I was enthralled, I love this stuff, you know?
(My nine year old said, "That's not Jesus, that's Desmond!")
I watched all six parts, I wanted to savor the journey.  I wanted to make the discoveries on the way with the film makers.  The film itself is basic facts and history, sort of a Shroud 101 but the purpose is not a new analysis of the cloth, it is about trying to build the face of the Lord.  I enjoyed it tremendously.

I will not post a spoiler face as I encourage you to take the journey yourself.  For me, a few things emerged, that I would like to share.  First of all, the Jesus is a Jewish man.  Now I knew this intellectually but for some reason the mental image I had in my head was the Hollywood version of Christ.  Second, was that when they revealed him at the end of the film my breath was taken away and my first thought was, "I know you!"  I knew him on an elemental level that is beyond description.  I knew him in my Soul.

Feb 18, 2012

The World's Greatest Pancakes

Abigail and Dolley readers I wish to share with you the ultimate pancake recipe.  Developed over the years, I would put these wonderful little cakes of deliciousness up against any and all comers.  I have to admit that my pancakes were not always spectacular.  Actually, my first solo attempt has become a family legend, told and retold by my Dad, who was the victim of the first disaster.

It was the Spring of 1977 and I was 8 years old.  My Mom and Sister were out of town and Dad and I were flying solo for a week.  I was excited to have him all to myself and was determined to impress him with my new found culinary skills.  I got up early that first Monday morning and decided to make pancakes for breakfast.  I believe the batter was just right but I erred on the cooking technique.  The pancakes all ran together and formed a giant skillet size cake about 2 inches thick.  Flipping it was a bit of a task but I managed.

I proudly presented a black on one side (which I plated face down...) monstrosity for his eating pleasure.  He smiled encouragingly and accepted the syrup I offered him.  His smile turned to a grimace through the first bite which we discovered was raw... I don't know how he did it but he ate a respectable amount before we left for work and school.  In the car, he casually suggested we eat cereal for the rest of the week until Mom got home, I agreed.

As the weeks went on, he began to tease me about my pancakes.  The pancake grew to epic proportions of awfulness, it was ribbing done in good fun, tempered with love, and it never hurt my feelings.  Over the years, at any mention of pancakes, he would give me a look, crack a joke, or generally razz me about my first real culinary debacle.  Perhaps I developed this recipe over the years out of some deep psychological need to make my Dad proud of me or perhaps, and more likely, I did it because I really love pancakes...

Flap Jacks

1 c of Regular Bisquick or Jiffy Baking Mix
1 c of Gluten Free Bisquick
3 tbl of Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 2/3 c of Milk
1 Egg
1 tsp Vanilla
2 tbl of Lemon Juice

Vegetable or Corn Oil and Butter - for cooking (don't mix in batter)

Mix all dry ingredients together, hollow out a "lake" for the wet ingredients.  Stir a few times, just enough to incorporate everything.  Batter will be relatively thin and lumpy - don't over mix.  Depending on the humidity the batter might need a little more Bisquick or a little more milk, I just can't teach or write that, it becomes something you know.  In a large skillet, over medium heat, combine oil and butter on a one to one ratio.  Ladle about a quarter cup for each pancake.  Flip when the edges look dry.

Top with syrup and enjoy.  Serve with bacon or sausage to prevent a diabetic coma.

This recipe makes about 20 pancakes and the left overs can be refrigerated or frozen for a quick breakfast on the run.  

Enjoy, my friends!

Feb 14, 2012

Bestest Buddies - Forever

Abigail and Dolley readers I read recently that many scientist believe that our most painful memories are stored in one spot in the brain.  It's a dark corner, with a closed door, bolted shut and rarely, if ever, accessed.  That is until something happens that needs to go into that spot.  For me, the death of my Dad has slung the door wide open.  Anguish long forgiven and forgotten is as real to me as it was when I was 12 years old.  Perhaps only children of divorce can understand how painful those memories can be, but this is not a blog about pain.  Nor is it one about divorce or grieving, this is a story about friendship.  I'd like to share with you an extraordinary tale of God's wisdom, mercy, and care and how He looked down on two of His daughters and blessed them with each other.

It was the late Spring 1981, my world was a disaster and my family was in shambles.  All hope of reconciliation between my parents was gone and without going into the gory details, it was ugly.  Uprooted, heart broken, and completely friendless I found myself in a new city, a new house, and a new school.  I was 13, which is a horrible age to be a girl under normal circumstances, let alone the ones that were facing me.

I'd been there about two weeks, rattling around and moping.  My Mom asked the neighbor if her daughter would come introduce herself because, in her words, "All Dolley is doing is cooking, and eating, and getting fat!"  One day, the doorbell rang and there she stood, "Hey, I'm Abigail, I live next door.  Do you want to come over and listen to some records or something?"  She teases now, that I beat her over to her house.

Over the Summer, Abigail and I bonded stronger than any two friends, ever.  She was a year older than me and a couple years further down the divorce road.  Our situations were eerily similar and in a world of uncertainty, in a world of abandonment and pain, we became each others strength.  We didn't talk much about how we felt, we were kids, we did not have the intellectual or emotional capacity to deal with what was swirling around us.

Ironically, if I had to describe the Summer of 1981 with one word it would be laughter. We laughed every day, all day.  We made up our own language, we went to the mall specifically to laugh at the people.  We listened to Bill Cosby's "Noah" album until every word was memorized.  We told each other stories and we would fall out in fits of hysterical laughter constantly.

We settled into a routine that had us together from morning until the wee hours.  We loved each other best in the world, we knew we were never going to let each other down, we knew we could count on one another.  Abigail is fierce and feisty, Dolley was not.  She fought for me, she stood up for me, she protected me from the other hateful teenage girls in the neighborhood.  No friend had ever done that for me before, ever.

Her family moved to a new house about 10 miles away, but that did not stop us.  She would just ride the bus home to my neighborhood and spend the weekend.  I don't remember, but our Mothers must have decided they were going to accommodate us and they did. Since she was a year older than me, she went to the High School and I to the Middle School, this was tough.

This part is hard to write, after 30 years I can still feel the pain.  Toward the end of the Summer in 1982, my folks decided it would be best if I left Houston and moved back to Charlotte to live with my Dad.  I fought them with everything that was in me.  I had made a life, I had settled in, I made new friends, and I had Abigail.  Nothing I said or did would change their minds.

On top of loosing my family, on top of having my life torn asunder, not once but twice, I was being forced to leave.  To go back to a school where everyone remembered me as a bit of a geek, not the cool kid I was in Houston, where my friends had turned on me over and over again, and where Abigail would not be beside me ready to knock someone's block off.  I was going to loose the person I loved most in the world, my Bestest Buddy.

I had a week, one last week.  It was like being in the hospital with a critically ill loved one.  I moved like I was in a daze.  When we weren't together, we were on the phone - crying and promising that we wouldn't let 1100 miles get between us.  The picture was taken the last day I lived in Houston, there is a sadness about our eyes that defies words.  The back of the photo reads, Bestest Buddies - Forever.

In the weeks after, my Dad would find me crying in my room.  He told me I would have friends come and go in my life and that in a few years we probably wouldn't even talk.  I sobbed that he was wrong and that he just did not understand; I know now that he couldn't have possibly understood.

In spite of all odds, in spite of long distance phone calls costing a fortune (and boy did we get in trouble for those calls), in spite of the distance, we stayed friends.  We would live for the times when I would visit my Mom, I think I looked more forward to being with Abigail.

As we grew up, our lives paralleled in many ways.  The major one was that we both rededicated our lives to the Lord in 1998.  At a time where none of my other friends understood the new rebirth and the passionate love for Jesus that you feel as a new Born Again Christian, Abigail understood.  We shared that with each other along with marriage and children.

31 years later, we are still Bestest Buddies.  She called me the morning my Dad died and prayed with me on the phone as I drove to the hospital.  She called me today, to check up on me and to tell me she was sorry I was grieving my Dad and wished she was here to hug my neck.  At her wedding, I smiled at her Mother and asked her if she thought that after all the years that we would still be friends, she smiled brightly and said, "You two are soul sisters, Dolley.  It doesn't surprise me a bit."