Thursday, November 27, 2008

Apple Pie and Motherhood

My daughter, Lillian, served a beautiful and delicious Apple Pie at our Thanksgiving get-together, and my wonderful Mother read the 100th Psalm, led us in a prayer of thanksgiving, then served us a wonderful meal of her dressing with turkey, ham, various and sundry cranberry sauces/relishes/compotes, mashed potatoes, delicious spiced carrots, cantaloupe, mac & cheese, and pecan pie, chocolate pie... I could go on. I am unsure of which of the wonderful cooks were involved in each of the dishes, but all were delicious.

Here is Lillian with her pie:
And her recipe (adapted from a recipe at ):

Caramel Apple Pie

  • 1 recipe pastry for a 9 inch double crust pie (I just use the store-bought Pillsbury Pie Crusts. They're easy, and you can find them in the refrigerated section).
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup water (for a different taste, use orange juice instead of water).
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 5 or 6 apples (Granny Smiths are my favorite, but if you have some apples lying around, that'll work).
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • pinch o' cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, or any other spice you like.
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar and brown sugar, vanilla extract and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
  2. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Add spices directly to the apples. Cover with a lattice work of crust. Gently pour the sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.
  3. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sunday Concert -- A Thanksgiving

One of our favorite recordings of all time has been A Thanksgiving of American Hymns by the choirs of Brigham Young University. Enjoy.

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Victim of AOL?

If you like me have been a victim of evil AOL's unannounced (to me at least) closing of long-standing websites hosted on that non-service, there is a possible, probably partial, solution! It is called the Wayback Machine. I was able to recover a major portion of the text and some pictures from my several AOL websites -- that I created in the nineties!

These Wayback guys archive gazillions of websites. You are likely to find multiple copies of your webpages archived in the Wayback Machine.

I found my main website - sans pics; my poetry website pretty much intact; a website I created to commememorate my favorite musical theater role, Charlie in Shenandoah. I would like to recover my genealogy pages, even though I have that info elsewhere. I also created a starter page for our church a dozen years ago that was superceded at least a decade ago -- I can't remember the exact name for it and so am unsure if it's still out there or not. I'd like to recover some of the text and pics from that.

In my humble opinion, the once great America Online deserves a good paddling for destroying these records, especially with so little warning. Of course, having relearned the AAABU* lesson many times since I bought my first Mac in 1988, I should have known better.

* Always, always, always backup!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

PTSW: Dirty Dishes

I have had the privilege of hearing excellent thought-provoking sermons often. Sheila and I have been members of Trinity United Methodist Church for several decades now. Our pastors have included James Sanders, Paul Hanna, David Naglee, George Freeman and other excellent speakers.
Our current young pastor, David Campbell, speaks from the heart, without notes, and delivers some of the best constructed sermons I've ever heard.
A while back Jim Turrentine, my brother by way of marriage to my sister Joan, retired from fulltime ministry and came to our church as a parttime associate minister, so I get to hear his excellent sermons fairly often.
My father was a Methodist minister during my first 39 years, so I got to squirm each Sunday, hoping he wouldn't use me as an illustration!
And tonight I once again got to hear another of my favorite pastors, my mother Ruth Shaw. You can read her blog at Ruthlace.
Mother began her full-time ministry two Sundays after my father's death in 1986. She completed seminary at Emory's Candler School of Theology and became a fully ordained Methodist Elder a few years later. She is now retired but, as the youngest 85-year-old you'll ever see, still frequently preaches at our Sunday evening services.
Tonight she spoke about thankfulness. She used Luke's account of Jesus healing the ten lepers, only one of whom took time to thank Jesus.
As an illustration Mother told about the weekend she stayed home in our tiny apartment in Wilmore, Kentucky, with little Debi who was two months old and very sick while Daddy traveled to Dunkinsville, Ohio to preach at his parttime appointment at three churches in that area. (Our parsonage at Dunkinsville was a nice little house, as I remember it, three bedrooms and a path.) When fretting Debi finally got to sleep mother still had chores to do, so she turned on the radio in the kitchen and started washing the big mound of dirty dishes she and her five children had used that day. As it happened the radio preacher asked a relevant question as my young mother's water-wrinkled hands scrubbed plates and rinsed them: Have you ever thanked God for dirty dishes? "Hardly!" she thought. Then he recited this little poem.

Thank God for Dirty Dishes

author unknown

Thank God for Dirty Dishes,
They have a tale to tell.
While others are going hungry,
We're eating very well.

With home and health and happiness,
I shouldn't want to fuss.
For by this stack of evidence,
God's very good to us.

Mother said she had never seen the poem in print but she could still recite it. I googled it as soon as I got home and found it sown all about the internet. No one seems to know the poet's name.

I find it easy to be thankful for the "goosebump moments" my mother mentioned elsewhere in her sermon, but for the next few days I may find myself expressing a silent prayer of thanks for things like grass to mow, broken gutters to mend, joints that ache, papers to grade, expensive gas to buy, -- maybe even taxes to pay.

God's been very good to me.

Friday, November 07, 2008

How did I do?

Last week I made some predictions about the election -just for the fun of it. My prognostication came out remarkbly near the mark. Here was my electoral college prediction:

The actual electoral vote seems to have finally been settled* to the map below:

I underestimated Obama's outcome in two places. Though I noted that North Carolina would be very close, I thought McCain was likely to outperform the polls enough to take the Tar Heel state. He nearly did. (Most of my calls for Obama were to North Carolina, the rest split between Ohio and Florida. So I'll take the credit. -hehe) The other spot I missed is Omaha. The state of Nebraska is one of two that alots an electoral vote to the candidate who wins each congressional district and two additional votes to the overall winner in that state. Obama squeaked by in the Omaha district that I knew was close, but neglected to include in my "best case" scenario.
Even though Indiana was polling slightly red the last week of the campaign I just felt it might break our way and, correctly it turns out, picked it as my upset. The other toss-ups/battlegrounds I put in the column most pollsters put them when forced to make a choice: McCain - MT, ND, GA, WV; Obama - PA (never really in doubt!), NM, CO, NH, NV, VA, OH, FL

I made several other guesses:
- Obama will be the first Democrat since our bicentennial year to poll over 50% of the popular vote - I predict 52%. Obama beat my prediction with 53%!
- Sleazy Saxby Chambliss will find himself in a run-off with Jim Martin. Right on!
- Elizabeth Dole will lose her seat in the Senate as will Ted Stevens, Gordon Smith, John Sununu, and Norm Coleman. Smith's two Democratic first cousins will be elected in Colorado and New Mexico. I was right about Dole, Smith, Sununu, and the two Udalls! Convicted-felon Stevens is slightly ahead but many absentee and provisional ballots remain to be counted. Coleman will probably squeak out a tiny plurality but a recount is underway.
- Counting the two independents the Democratic caucus in the Senate will number at least 59.
Still possible in the unlikely event that two of the three undecided races turn blue. We are currently at 57.
- We will elect 260 House Democrats. It looks like we will come up several seats shy of 260. Right now the count is 255.
* There is still a very slight possibility that Missouri could turn blue by a few votes.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Today, Kenya Celebrates A New National Holiday: Barack Obama Day

One great thing about Barack Obama’s election is that through this man, people all over the world are uniquely connected to the United States. Shown above is Kenyan Sarah Obama, Barack Obama's 86 year old step grandmother.

Today has been declared a National Holiday in Kenya. Obama’s father was Kenyan and Obama has four half brothers, in addition to step grandmother, Sarah, who live in Kenya.

Speaking of Obama, the President of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki, said, “We the Kenyan people are immensely proud of your Kenyan roots….Your victory is not only an inspiration to millions of people all over the world, but it has special resonance with us here in Kenya.”

I keep thinking about the one Kenyan I knew personally, fellow Asburian, Solomon Lasoi. He tragically died over twenty years ago, but, I believe, somewhere he is rejoicing. Solomon was Terry's room-mate and Terry has written about Solomon here and here.

I took these pictures from a collection of pictures shown on Huffington Post that shows reactions to Obama’s victory from around the world. Below, children from Obama’s former school in Jakarta, Indonesia, celebrate Obama’s victory.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

All men, all women, No more three-fifths

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed --

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Whatever a person's political persuasion, whatever his or her beliefs regarding tax cuts for the middle class, drilling in ANWAR, global warming, abortion, the War in Iraq, etc., he or she must appreciate the wonderful inspiration this is for America in its march forward toward brotherhood for all.

Barack Obama will not be a perfect President. He will stumble. He will misspeak. He will make decisions that will alternately aggravate Republicans, Independents, Democrats, Libertarians, and Vegetarians. But America is one step farther along the path toward the ideal of its founding documents.

I dedicate this post to some special people:

To the old coot who told me a few weeks ago that he wouldn't vote for that black man.

And, dadgum it, even to the poor fools who called me "nigger-lover" back in the sixties.

But more especially t
o the black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, female, handicapped, mixed race, and other students that I have taught or will teach who need the hope this man offers.

To the black boy cruelly mistreated for the theft of a watermelon back in the twenties. My Daddy was only a boy himself when he witnessed that event.

To Silas McComb, the janitor at Trinity Methodist Church and the Desoto Theater in Rome, Georgia back in the 1960s. Mr. McComb, uneducated himself, labored at many menial jobs to enable his children to achieve doctorates from prestigious colleges. I wish he could have heard that speech tonight.

To Solomon Lasoi, my late Kenyan friend and college roommate who, like Barack Obama, loved Kenya and the United States.

To Toot.

To that 106-year-old voter in Atlanta.

What a wonderful speech.
What a marvelous night.

Yes we can.

God bless President-Elect Barack Obama.
God bless the United States of America.

President-Elect Barack Obama

First votes: Obama 15; McCain 6

As I head to bed this election day just past midnight, Barack Obama has taken a commanding lead by upsetting McCain and taking 71% in the vote at Dixville Notch, NH. This is the first time since 1968 that a Democrat has taken the famous first precinct to vote in each election.
I choose to consider this a good omen.
Good night.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Final Predictions

Well, this is it. The final votes will be cast tomorrow. Some time ago I made a map of a narrow win for Barack Obama. I now believe the following scenario is the worst (please!) he can do! John McCain's only hope is to hold the red states on this map and somehow grab Pennsylvania.

On the other hand this next map is the very best scenario that I believe it is reasonable to hope for. I actually think it is reasonable to hope for Georgia's 15 electoral votes to go to Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

But for the fun of it, I'll give my actual best idea of where the map will stand when all the votes are counted. No one really knows, of course, but if Fred Barnes and Chris Mattthews and Bill Maher can put forward predictions, why not me!
The closest margins will be (IMHO) in Indiana, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida, and -- just maybe -- Georgia.

The final Gallup likely voter poll predicts a big Obama win:

A few other predictions from the Limb:
- Obama will be the first Democrat since our bicentennial year to poll over 50% of the popular vote - I predict 52%.
- Sleazy Saxby Chambliss will find himself in a run-off with Jim Martin.
- Elizabeth Dole will lose her seat in the Senate as will Ted Stevens, Gordon Smith, John Sununu, and Norm Coleman. Smith's two Democratic first cousins will be elected in Colorado and New Mexico.
- Counting the two independents the Democratic caucus in the Senate will number at least 59.
- We will elect 260 House Democrats

Whether my idle predictions work out or not, at least we know that the Bush era is over.

Politics has provided some of the great inspiring moments of my life and some of the greatest disappointments. I will never approach election night without an elevated heart rate and blood pressure and, despite high hopes and a basic optimism, an underlying sense of dread that, however sure the polls look, bad guys might yet pull some shenanigans and scare good people into voting against the best interests of liberty.

Barring the biggest upset in Presidential electoral history, Barack Obama will be our President next January. That is a wonderfully comforting thought to this American. But blog predictions are a dime a dozen. We, the People still have to seal the deal at the polls.

And after all, unlike political junkies like me who see Red and Blue State scenarios, Barack Obama calls on us all to remember we are the UNITED States of America.