Oh, Beloved, it was another blustery cold and winter stormy morning, and we took advantage of a week day quiet to snuggle into a dark theater with a bag of popcorn to see one of this year's Academy Award winners.
And the magic happened. i truly could believe that Abraham Lincoln was on screen. And i loved him. The way you love a great man, your leader, someone who is connected to you, has become part of you and defined who you are.
Popcorn was laid aside as the rustling skirts and bloodied fields of the Civil War pulled us in; indeed our theater was not very far from the very fields in Petersburg where the battles on screen were fought. The scenes were peopled with lively, colorful, flesh and blood beings of the figures that ghost the historical landmarks of this part of the country and who linger in the hallways of the old farmhouses and courthouses of our countryside. The story being told was first told to me by grandparents and aunts and uncles and parents. This was our story, our lineage, and that alone made it moving on so many levels.
Appatomax Courthouse, less than 10 miles from Round Rock
i, who have choked up at many movies in the most pleasant way possible, struggled painfully to subdue sobs that rocked silently through me, my cheeks to chin wet with tears that flowed so freely, i gave up trying to wipe them away.
it was a story about our country's past, about my past, both cultural and personal, a story about how once in a great while a man or woman steps forward to bear on his or her back the weight of the nation, it is a story played out in the morning and evening news as our congress struggles with civil war in its halls, and we wait, hoping to see our way through to the light. it is a story about about the great cost of freedom and the evil that opposes it. it is the story of Jesus Christ.
"With malice toward none,
with charity for all,
with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right,
let us strive on to finish the work we are in,
to bind up the nation's wounds,
to care for him who shall have borne the battle
and for his widow and his orphan,
to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace
and with all nations."
i sat on the edge of my daughter's bed last night, just before turning in, and i thanked her for all that she had done that day and spoke of how carefully she had performed her tasks. And then, just before leaving so that she could turn out the light, i said softly, "Today was Purim. Meditate on Esther before you go to sleep." She nodded, receiving the invitation with sweet seriousness. Esther, these many years, has become a by-word for my daughters and me to consider the weight of responsibility that comes with being a woman. God has given every woman the gift of influencing men.
it is a good week to re-read Esther, i think.
Let me explain.
The washer is sitting in the upstairs hallway, sulking. Pitiful really, its electric cord tucked into one corner of its mouth, feeling betrayed.
it's not my fault. i kept her much longer than i should have. The top half of the agitator has not worked in a couple of years.
The mismatched dryer with its chipped enamel doesn't know yet. He's still sitting in the laundry room thinking he's been unplugged while Lori, who finds a paintbrush in hand therapeutic, finished painting the laundry room at 3 a.m. . . .while we slept.
She does her best work after midnight.
i stumbled down the dark hall a bit after 3 a.m., and popped on the light.
i meant this. . .
There's only one problem . . .
what to wear for laundry day?
Today, i made hummus. This is not a picture of my hummus. Mine turned out a little green.
But it is yummy. And garlic-y, which i like very much.
1 15oz. can garbanzo beans (chick peas), drained
1.5 oz. poblano pepper, sliced (or jalepeno, which is a lot hotter)
3/8 tsp ground cumin
1.5 T lemon juice
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 C tahini or olive oil (or as needed)
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Drizzle in the tahini or olive oil until the mixture reaches desired consistency. (i drizzled 1/4 c of tahini which made the hummus creamy, and then drizzled 1 T of olive oil to give it flavor and shine.)
Serve with toasted pitas, raw veggies, or crackers.
or Veggie Stix. Which are, of course, real vegetables. Yes, they are.
i told you it was green.
i made my own nutrition label by loading the ingredients into the Recipe Builder at myfooddiary.com.
i need another label to write down all the things i've learned about hummus today. For example, it is considered the perfect food and one of the oldest foods. It is very good for you.
Did you know that hummus is in the Bible? A fellow over at the Hummus Blog suggests that it is so.
The first time Ruth and Boaz met in Bethlehem, he offered her some humus: “And at meal-time Boaz said unto her, Come hither, and eat of the bread, and dip thy morsel in the hometz” ~ Ruth 2:14
It seems every moment of the day, no matter how mundane, i catch the trailing scent of the LORD's presence. . .as if He were there just ahead of me, leaving a trail of simple, ordinary grace gifts to follow. . .
Are you feeling a little disconnected right now? Might i suggest this post today: As it turned out, she found herself. . .
The last episode of Season 7 spilled from the highlands, windy with bagpipes, breathtaking with panoramic skies over heather-thick moors, and gilded with bright streams of trout . . . and never once upstaging Downton Abbey, standing regal, proud, and condescendingly secure.
i loved every minute
- except the Ghastly Bit at the end, of which i was forearmed and forewarned, but My Man was not. i waited sadly for his gasp. But Ghastly Bit aside-
Season 3 piped an idyllic tune, from the sure-footed Ghillies ball to Carnival swings and merry-go-rounds, manly men trumpeting the tug-o-war, and wooing suitors- both cad and gentle folk - and one irascible butler bouncing baby on hip.
Julian Fellowes wove a story where characters stayed true to nature, even if that nature was adapting, reassembling, or growing.
Matthew moved from his too-long stay as a one-dimensional guppy spouting indignation to the full potential of his character: charming champion of Edith the Misunderstood and Under-appreciated; the charismatic, glint-eyed Tamer of Mary the Shrew; and Man-is-a-Giddy-Thing new father. His joy at being a new papa rang so true and sweet, i still smile thinking of him whipping along the roads to Downton, singing in the sunshine.
Lord Granthom's humble epiphany and paean of surprised thankfulness was Robert Crawley at his best; we've seen it before and it is why we can forgive the largess of his old-fashioned, aristocratic bigotry.
Lady Granthom spoke softly to the mother's heart in me when her blue-eyed sweetness melted in contact with the bright flame of her neice who reminded her of Sybil.
The background of Shrimpy MacClare, Marquess of Flintshire, Laird of Duneagle and sag-faced Susan, his Marchioness, draped in plaid and bickering bitterly lifted Rose, their daughter, from the tired cliche of spoiled and rebellious beauty the week before to a young woman scorched by scathing parental editing. And even that sometimes overplayed situation was graced to our benefit by Lady Cora's poignant insight,
"It is so complicated with a young daughter who's full of new ideas. She thinks you are fighting her when all the time, you're just frightened. . ."
i cannot stop here as memories from last night's viewing keep rising. i loved the picnic-basket tease and sweet kiss between Bates and Anna, and his loving gaze as we glimpsed dancing Anna through his eyes.
i'm still shaking my head that Fellowes was able to create the cold fury of a stone-faced lady's maid who could make O'Brien, even in her wicked moment of revenge, look the gentlewoman taking the high road.
And Mosely, i always watch Mosely. He doesn't have many lines, but his facial expressions have flavored the season as a savory, non-verbal undernote to Violet's bon mots.
All of these characters and moments were so beautifully drawn, that it is quite a lot for me to say that i had a favorite; flowing from Julian Fellowes' pen both changing, yet springing from original source was Tom Branson. I had not liked him at first; his fiery passion and arrogant wooing of Sybil irritated me when he had not so much to offer and so much he would take away. Yet Fellowes rounded out the character for us to see what Sybil had seen, that the chauffer is a Gentleman, in the best sense of the word; quiet dignity, egalitarian response to man or woman high or low, wisdom in chosing his battles, the maturation of principles, the steadiness of character, and the strength of his love for Sybil moved my heart. Well-done, young Allen Leech. How elegantly you played the masculine heart.
And stop here i must, the day draws on and there is Monday work to do. . .but the dozen or so characters i have left here unnamed are with me still in the delightful way Fiction Folk seem most real the morning after a good read or a favorite show.
Literature is a good and gracious gift from our Heavenly Father. i counted what i knew to be the Last Looks as last night's viewing progressed, and the sobering application to real life is with me still.
Most importantly, Lady Mary has much to say to me this morning, if i would listen, about being kind, patient, and above all, greatful.
Icy wind swept around store-front corners and sped on frosty hooves between the tall buildings, and i turned the collar up on the best woolen, winter coat i have ever owned and zipped the leather trim up to my chin. We left the winter woods for shopping in Short Pump, and blue and white fleeced skies made pretty promises the bitter Wind would not let her keep, and for all that, i thought me how i love February. My mother speaks of how dismal the month is and how large the obituary pages seem to be this short-lit time, but i don't feel that way. The bareness of the landscape is antiseptic, and winter winds run through my veins, and pepper my cheeks, and i waken to life.
And somewhere, wild horses run free along cold waves, flicking hooves and shimmying snow flecked manes as glass-fragile flakes whirl in a winter wind off the Atlantic.
And i am glad for the cold of February that will not be tamed.
This Valentine's Day overlapped with Ash Wednesday.
And on the Day of Repentance and Ashes, Round Rock was festooned in pink and white and hearts.
And Someone whispered to my heart. . .it is not so different.
The same ardent wish is spoken:
Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her.
There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. . .
~ Hosea 2: 15 - 16