Saturday, December 30, 2006

Spicey Decadence

Ah, Chocolate! My favorite food! It soothes my soul, calms my spirit, indulges me, takes my mouth on an exotic vacation, and I'd probably wear it if I could.

There's something spiritual about my love of chocolate. So it seems totally appropriate that Body & Soul has a wonderful chocolate recipe on their website. I want to share this recipe with you. Like Emeril, it kicks things up a notch.

Linking to the recipe didn't work. Apparently a login process took place when I clicked on my email. Copy and paste doesn't space quite the way I want but I'm not experienced enough with html to change the table structure. Please forgive the lengthy scroll and Enjoy!

Spiced Hot Dark Chocolate

Serves 4; Prep time: 5 minutes; total time: 10 minutes
By swapping soy milk for regular, you ensure that dark chocolate's antioxidants will be more fully absorbed.

1 quart soy milk

6 ounces dark chocolate, coarsely chopped

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

teaspoon coarse salt

1. In a small saucepan, combine all ingredients and whisk over medium-low heat until the chocolate has melted completely and the mixture is steaming hot, about 5 minutes. Serve.

Per serving: 327 calories; 14 g protein; 17 g fat; 38 g carb; 6 g fiber.

html and speed don't mix

Yesterday as I was finishing a post, I checked the preview and it didn't look right. I had copied and pasted from a web page and along came some html. What was nicely spaced on the website stretched forever on my blog. So I looked at the code and tried to take out the last part of it, erroneously thinking that it was just spacing. That's when I was reminded that html has a beginning and an end and in cutting out the part that looked like spacing I had taken the end. It wouldn't save. Because I was rushed at that point I wasn't thinking clearly so I closed blogger in frustration and gave up. Sigh! Today I am remembering I could have pasted back the cut out part. Oh well, guess I'll have to start again.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Linking to New Worlds

Sometimes I get pulled into a new website by an interesting title. That's why there's a new link on my sidebar today. When going through the Yahoo Picks page I found this story about "the most dangerous roads in the world." So I went to look. It had pictures from all over the world and they are scary enough...I certainly wouldn't want to drive any of these roads.

I was going to just look at the post and then I noticed the cool SciFi links that were on the web page. This page is now beginning to look VERY interesting. So I added the link and hope to spend some time exploring. And that brings me to one of the neat things about blogging. You can find yourself almost anywhere by clicking on interesting links.

A long time ago...on a website far, far away...there was a online SciFi convention at Being new to the web and loving all things SciFi, I attended from my computer. My friends came over to attend this live online event with me. This would be oh...'95 or '96 (g) One of the cool things they had at that online convention was a pretty good art. The piece of art that wins the novelty award hands down was this picture of nothing but worlds all over this canvas. These worlds were really colorful and came in all sizes. Sometimes they overlapped too. I don't remember the artist or the title of this piece but I kept it bookmarked for a long time. You see, when you clicked on the worlds in this picture you went places. Each and every globe in it was a different link. There were enough of them that you were never sure just where you were going to end up. It was a cool way to surf. And to me blog surfing is kind of like that. You never know what you will find when you connect to something interesting that someone else wrote.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Weeding the bookmarks or Forgotten Treasures

How big is your bookmark collection? How many sub files does it have? Mine is prolific. I'm not sure that's a correct usage of the word, but I suspect that my bookmarks are generating new ones when I am not watching them carefully, which is most of the time.

Today I decided to weed them out and rid myself of ones that were no longer useful or interesting. So far I've gone through two category files. First was the Art file. During that I got to remember who I liked in art. Then I went down to the "Educational and Interesting" file which is a catch all for anything that doesn't generate a file of its own. Its the biggest file. After getting rid of the dead wood I moved a few links into their proper categories.

Hidden away in that file were two more links to decent photography sites so I put them into the Photography file. Those links are: and These two sites have quite a lot of good photography on them. Both of them seem to focus on the digital camera which is the popular format today if you can afford one and know how to use the software to crop and adjust your pictures to your satisfaction. They have forums and enough informative articles that they can be instructive to the up and coming photographer.

Other rediscovered photography sites were more art galleries than teaching and support pages. Here are a few of those: Sensitive Light, Robert Cable Photography, and Greg Downing Photography. These pages by individual artists are beautiful works of art in and of themselves. I enjoyed exploring them again. About the last one, I used to know a guy named Downing. He married a college friend of mine. This guy isn't him but possibly a brother or relative since he photographs some of the same area we both grew up in. Any way, feel free to explore these sites. I hope you gain as much pleasure from them as I did.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Small additions

There are two new links in my sidebar now. One is a link to the American Photojournalist website. It is there as a gift to a friend who is really into camera work. The other link is to Sacred Space. It is a place where you can go and do daily prayer. Run by a group of Irish Catholic Jesuits, the entire website has a meditative and purposeful feel to it. From it you can go on a virtual retreat or just find a few moments of guided meditation. I hope you'll take the time to check them out.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Images of Christmas

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping on your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,
Help to make the season bright.
Tiny tots with their eyes all aglow,
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Santa's on his way;
He's loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh.
And every mother's child is going to spy,
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.

And so I'm offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although its been said many times, many ways,
A very Merry Christmas to you

Christmas memories are so poignant that there are probably more well remembered songs about them than any other holiday. Every year we make memories of the season and the day to carry on to the next. We create family rituals around it, entire cities celebrate in nationally broadcast parades, all the media is doing shows about how to make it the best ever. And in all of this we find time for quiet contemplation of the meaning of the holiday. We go out of our way to give to others as we do on no other holiday. Everybody has a dream of the perfect Christmas.

The fact that part of this season's tradition, in the ending of one year and the start of the next, arise from old pagan images isn't mentioned often. The idea of a Christmas tree didn't arise from the Christian church but from ancient rituals of the green man and mother earth being honored. Most of the major religions do something to celebrate this time of year. When it all gets added together year after year, and century after century the season builds its own mystique that is self-fulfilling and self-perpetuating. It would take a lot more than a Grinch to kill Christmas.

We all have favorite memories of Christmas and often find ourselves trying to recreate them year after year. Some want a white Christmas. Some want it all sparkling and wrapped brightly under the tree. Family is often involved. One of my favorite memories of Christmas is not so much a memory as a family photograph. The photo shows me and my grandfather sitting close to one another on Christmas day and if you look closely, from the angle of our heads, you can tell that I inherited my grandfather's ears. Until I saw that photo I hated my ears. I'd even thought about having them altered someday. But I love my grandfather and would never think of disrespecting something he gave me. So now that photo and my ears are loved. And that was a gift received long after the holiday when it was taken.

I wish I had a scanned copy of that photo to share with you. It isn't very interesting but it has a lot of sentiment for me. Yesterday I was looking anxiously all over the web for the perfect Christmas photo to put with this post. I didn't find it until today and so this post is being written a day late. Although I will change it for traditions sake, I don't think the date matters so much. You can celebrate Christmas anytime of the year. We don't really know when Christ was born. It is the spirit that counts.

So, in the spirit of the season, here is another of my favorite Christmas poems, a handwritten copy of which was recently sold to a private buyer, who read it to his company at their annual Christmas party. If you are interested you can read the article here.

'Twas the Night before Christmas' Poem

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Friday, December 22, 2006

Amazing Beauty

Have you ever seen something so beautiful in someone that it took your breath away? A friend did that to me today. Two actually. One listened carefully and then thoughtfully provided a light for the path. The other looked, saw, reached out, and loved selflessly. What she saw, God has been trying to show me for some time. I am blown away! Now the path is a journey and I have the heart glimpses of friends for perspective when my own fails. Words can't express what I am feeling.

Today I am loved!

Thank you!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Holy Longing

For the past two Sundays, a class called "Holy Longing" has been going on at church. It has been wrapped around the scripture, "As the deer longs for the water-brooks, So does my soul for you, O God." Psalm 42:2. This beautiful verse talks about the desire of man to know and draw closer to God. And that is what we discussed in class. Our longings, our desires to know Him, what made us on fire to know God, all were shared in that room of church family.

There are a lot of different ways to see God or to be on fire for him. In the last class we listed some of the ways we felt that longing, or what set us on fire. Answers received were, "Wild Joy", "Awareness of life together", "Passing on_____ (to ones children)", "Wholeness", "Connection", "Be the prayer", and on and on. We had the entire board filled with responses by the time we were through.

Some of it was delightfully amusing. One man, happily married for many years, said that to name 3 ways he was set on fire he would have to say his wife's name 3 times. While we were talking he expressed a love of growth through learning more about communion. I felt a connection to that reasoning. My service as a Lay Eucharistic minister is a function of my desire to understand more about the ritual, sacrament and mystery that is Holy Communion.

We then started talking about knowing Jesus and seeing him in our longing. It was brought to mind that Jesus looked at each person with love and knowledge. For some reason that inspired me. I started writing down a poem/prayer. I don't do poetry often but I thought I might share this one because it describes what I hope to see in others as I strive to know Christ. It doesn't really have a title so I am giving it the title that was the question we were answering at the time.

What is the pattern of Jesus Christ?

Learning of others,
a longing to know.

Communion of spirit,
a meeting of soul.

Love reaching out,
heart knowledge grows.

Christ brought to life
in the you that I know.

May the spirit of Christ be with you through this holiday season and all the coming year.

Peace! Hope! and Joy!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Woo Hoo!

What a GREAT way to start a day! Carnival of Hope is up at Rickety Contrivances of Doing Good and one of my posts is in it. Thank you, Susan!

I get such a kick out of being included in Susan's carnival. Part of it is the being included. The other part is that she seems to think my writing is good enough to use. Two of my strongest desires met in one fell swoop. Does everyone that gets included in a blog carnival get the same reaction?