So, the story goes . . .

It all began because I wanted a cake for my birthday. With the pandemic, and social isolation, I knew we would not have visitors and I rarely ever celebrated my birthday anyway, so I did not care if anyone other than John and I were here to enjoy my day. But, for some reason, this year I really wanted a cake.  I found a recipe for a Lemon Meringue Angel Food cake and decided that would taste lovely.  Angel Food Cakes are low in fat because they only use egg whites and no butter so this would be perfect me, can you say high cholesterol.  They are easy to make, as well. The hardest part about an angel food cake is separating the 12 egg whites from the 12 egg yolks.  So, I whipped up, literally, the cake and when done took it out of the oven.

Now one thing you should know is you have to invert an angel food cake as soon as you take it out of the oven to let it cool or it will collapse.  Well, my perfect cake came out, I went to invert and . . . wait for it . . . dropped the pan. My angel food cake was now a “fallen angel” food cake.  I was in tears.  I so wanted this cake.  Instead of being light, fluffy, and about 8 inches tall, it was dense, soft, and 4 inches tall.  It tasted ok but had the consistency of one of the Easter peeps!  ACK.  My husband John tasted this demon cake and decided it was wonderful and has been snacking on it ever since.  Maybe I have found a new treat for him. 

Now I had no cake, but I did have 12 egg yolks.  To paraphrase an old saying “when your angels fall, make a pound cake.” I dug out a recipe for a 12-Egg Yolk Lemon Pound Cake and while this would not be a fat free cake the only cholesterol would come from the yolks because this cake did not use butter either so not too bad health wise for me.

However, the universe’s jokes were not yet done with me.  I began to beat the yolks with my stand mixer, and it went well for about a minute then . . . wait for it . . . the mixer began to slow down and finally stopped.  I turned it off, unplugged, waited a minute, felt the motor (it was not hot), then plugged it back in, started it up, and it barely turned on. Now I have a dead mixer.  Ah, but wait, I do have a hand mixer and grabbed it and finished my cake. 

After I put the cake in the oven, I looked at my lovely Kitchen Aid stand mixer, which my mother gave me some 22 years ago, and wanted to cry. She has been my baking buddy for a long time and now she was dying. Together we made bread, cakes, cookies, and rolls and I am going to miss her. I will look forward to a new Kitchen Aid Mixer, but I will miss this old girl. 

Well, the second cake of the day came out perfect and I had my birthday cake. At the end of the day I wondered if, somehow, I was not supposed to make a cake? Sometimes I just do not listen to the universe when it says stop. Most of the time when I do that it does not turn out well, today it did and I ended up with a nice cake, John discovered an interesting snack, and I was not too frazzled. All-in-all not a bad day, or birthday.

Ruth Jewell, ©March 11, 2021

Image: Ruth’s Birthday Cake

Memories, Memories

Birthdays make me reflective and as I get older the more reflection I seem to need. I just had my birthday and I have been contemplating memories of the last 72 years.  I find it hard to believe that I’m in my 70th decade and it is even harder to believe I survived all those years. 

Have you noticed memories are kind of weird? We never really remember them as they were but as we want them to be. I also don’t remember them in order and one memory seems to trigger another that may have happened years before or years after.  But, the act of remembering is a re-membering of me.  It is a process to remind me from where I came and how each memory created me.  It is a little like a yearly ‘Examen.’ It isn’t just remembering but an accounting of my life.  It is an opportunity to remember the good times and the bad, to forgive others, and to be forgiven, and to offer myself forgiveness.

I find God’s grace in memories, grace I hadn’t noticed when I was living them. I sometimes discover angels who have been my guides or protectors that I didn’t recognize when they entered and left my life. Each grace and angel helped form me into the person I have become. Unfortunately, I have also recognized a few individuals who lead me from my path, and I had to struggle to return, often with the help of one of those angels. It is one of God’s enduring graces that angels come when we need them and it’s usually when we have gotten everything all wrong.

I have been rescued so many times that my guardian angel carries an extra-large emergency kit.  I am sure she is grateful I haven’t needed to be rescued for a while. I started very early with getting my self into trouble. I was 6 when I pulled a deep-fat fryer down on top of me, resulting in 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 75% of my body. My memory of the incident is I wasn’t alone, I was being told I would be alright, and I was.  An angel in the shape of a plastic surgeon came and volunteered to perform all the skin grafts, paying for the hospital himself, and not charging my parents.  Without the skill of Dr. Meany, I would have been severely crippled. I would have been unable to live a normal life. My gratitude for the Doctors and nurses who worked so hard to save and heal me has no bounds.  To give back the gift given to me I have tried to be present to those who have been burnt, giving them comfort, and sitting and listening to their fears.

Passing on the gifts of grace has become part of who I am. I have been on the verge of homelessness a couple of times in my life and each time one of those angels was sent in to help. To pass on that gift I have helped others who have been on that edge, never expecting I will be repaid but always expecting that they will pass on their gift of grace.  If everyone did that no one would ever be homeless.

Those are nice memories, but I also have memories I am not proud of.  In my early 20’s I worked with a woman who could be abrasive and, quite honestly, we didn’t just not get along, we disliked each other intensely. I am ashamed to say that I started a not so nice rumor about her. There was a small, very small, bit of truth to it but essentially it was an exaggeration of the facts.  I never apologized to her, in fact it wasn’t long after it happened that I left for college. I regret that. I will never see her again, I don’t even know if she is still alive. A few years ago, during a ritual of forgiveness, I asked God to let her know, wherever she is, that I am truly sorry. I also offered a prayer to forgive myself in order to let go of the feelings of guilt, and, anger I had felt towards her. It took a while to feel within the forgiveness I sought but eventually I did.

Memories are funny things, I don’t remember the same ones every year but the ones I do seem to be the ones God wants me to remember.  As I am 72 I have a lot of memories, I sincerely hope I have enough time in the life left to me to ask for forgiveness, and to express gratitude for those I haven’t remembered yet.  Only time will tell. 

Birthdays are not something I celebrate, but I find them useful.  They offer a time to recognize grace, ask for forgiveness, and find peace in a life that has seen some rocky roads.  I have no idea what memories I will form in the next years and I hope they will be good ones. I also hope they won’t be too embarrassing, but if they are, I know God and the angels will be nearby.  After all my guardian angel has that huge emergency kit just waiting for me to mess up.

Betty Buckley – Memory (1983 Tony Awards)

Ruth Jewell, © March 12, 2019

Party with Prostitutes – Prayerful Tuesday

Last week a friend posted this video of Dr. Tony Compolo and I thought I’d share it with you this morning. I really don’t need to add anything except the following two requests.

  1. If you know someone who is in need of love give it to them.
  2. Don’t let stereotypes get in the way of remembering what Jesus taught and love all with the same passion as Jesus did.

Enjoy the Video.   http://www.youtube.com/embed/DRBM_YY_YX0?autoplay=1

 

Published on Jul 25, 2013

Throwing a party for a bunch of prostitutes…..
Tony Campolo shares with us what Jesus would do if he was among us once more.
In fact – he shares what Jesus instructed us to do… to love one another!

May God grace you with love, and may that love warm your heart as it passes through you to someone in need. Amen

Ruth Jewell, April 8, 2014

 

Birthday Celebrations

Rose Galaxy, NASA
Rose Galaxy, NASA

When you were born, everyone was laughing but you were crying.  Live your life so that when you die, everyone is crying, but you are laughing (Islamic hadith)

Today March 11, 2014 is my birthday and let me get this right out front; birthdays are not my favorite days in the year! I do have a reason, and to most people it seems weird.  You see my family of origin just didn’t put an emphasis on birthdays.  If we were lucky my mother might bake a cake, or in my case a pie, but other than that we just didn’t mention our natal day.  As an adult I chose to use my day as a day for reflection, taking the time to think about the past year, what I’ve done or could have done and what I would like to do in next year.  It has become for me my time to remember family events, the good and the bad.  But most people think there should be a party or some kind of celebration.

I am wary of people inviting me to their homes on my birthday because inevitably there will be a surprise party with all the trimmings.  When the word “surprise” is shouted out I, being the introvert that I am, want to crawl under a bed and stay there until all the hoopla is over with.  I actually hate opening presents because the giver is waiting with such expectations of my joy over their gift.  Unfortunately, there have been way too many gifts where I smile and say “oh how lovely, thank you”, and I’m thinking “what the heck is this and what is it used for.”

But my mother taught me, and I do believe this, each gift is a given in love and love must always be received with joy. I’m not the best thank you card writer, but will send them to people I can’t thank personally, but coming up with the right words for a gift I can’t recognize is always difficult.   My mother’s lessons on receiving  gifts is the reason I have stuff in closets of my house I have been caring around for 60 or so years from state to state, house to house, and I still don’t know what they are or what to do with them.  I can’t remember who gave them to me but they were given in love and therefore I keep them.

So while I prefer to have a quiet reflective day I am married to someone who thinks all birthdays should be grand celebrations.  His family made a big deal of birthdays and they had parties with all the trimmings, just the opposite of mine so I too must join in the fun. So I try to live up to his and his family’s expectations of joy and surprise.  I try, I really do.  For him and his family’s birthdays I bake a cake and make the day special, because I love them and they get great joy out of the celebration.  And, bless their hearts they just can’t understand my reluctance to celebrate my day in the same way they do.

Now don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all of the Happy Birthdays I receive.  It is nice to have someone stop me and say “Happy Birthday, I hope you have a great day,” it’s just that my idea of a great day is different from everyone else’s ideas.  So please tell me Happy Birthday, but, don’t expect me to tell you I’m doing something exciting because my idea of an “exciting Birthday” is sitting curled up on the couch, wrapped in a warm blanket, my dog asleep on my lap, a cup of green tea beside me, and reading a good book.  That is the perfect gift for me.

So I have to go now because my husband wants to take me to lunch to a restaurant of my choice, probably Wendy’s or IHOP (I told you I was weird).  But I am going to steer him to Home Depot where I can pick up the lumber and compost I need for a new raised garden bed.  I am hoping the weather will hold today so that I can put it together and set it up.  If I get that done, that will make this a very good birthday.

So, thank you for all of your birthday wishes, they are appreciated. And may all of you have a wonderful day in your own way.

Ruth Jewell, ©March 11, 2014