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there is only one way to bring in the new year properly. some may choose dick clark and a dropping ball, which really, is anti-climatic

but the mennonites have a hold on a better tradition. the new year’s meal: portzelky or new year’s cookies. yes they may actually be closer to a donut but really apples and oranges.  i will be serving them tomorrow for brunch and believe me all the coinciding breakfast dishes will be neglected. whenever spoonfuls of batter, fried in hot oil than rolled in sugar are an option there is no comparison. no distant second.

after a good new year’s palate cleansing, it is time to write the resolutions. what will 2010 hold…i’m thinking of tag-lining it: the year i made wildly inappropriate decisions.

anyways here is my top 10 for 2010

i will take one dance class
i will read two books a month.
i will make three wildly inappropriate decisions
i will hand write four letters a month
i will complete five sewing projects
i will have coffee with six strangers
i will practice self discipline seven times a week
i will allot myself eight hours of sleep each night
i will complete nine credit hours of grad school
i will run ten miles in one stretch

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the drifts are 12′-14′ high. i kid you not. careful when you ask for a white christmas. i didn’t but i know some little kid did…correction: quadruple plural on the kid.

so what do you do when you’re snowed in at the farm with only one of 11 family members  and outside the window it looks like God is violently shaking the snow globe (emphasis on the shaking)?the wave drift on the way to our house

time travel to 1888- the schoolhouse blizzard: a piece of history every child in nebraska knows. i ate up the stories from this history lesson; already then i was drawn to morose and morbid tales.  the blizzard is historic because within a short time the temperature dropped to 4o below and was met with heavy snow and the notorious nebraska high winds. there was no way to predict what was about to happen and so many people were out doing their every day activities when disaster struck….it was dubbed the schoolhouse blizzard because most of the casualties were children walking home from school.

lets revisit mrs. ratzlaff’s classroom to rehash the most memorable accounts:

  • -Lois Royce found herself trapped with three of her students in her schoolhouse. By 3pm, they had run out of heating fuel. Her boarding house was only 82 yards (75 m) away, so she attempted to lead the children there. However, visibility was so poor that they became lost and all the children froze to death. The teacher survived, but her feet were frostbitten and had to be amputated.
  • -Etta Shattuck got lost on her way home, and sought shelter in a haystack. She remained trapped there until her rescue three days later. She soon died due to complications from surgery to remove her frostbitten limbs.
  • -Minnie Freeman safely led thirteen children from her schoolhouse to her home, one half mile (.8 km) away. The rumor she used a rope to keep the children together during the blinding storm. She took them to the boarding house she lived at about a mile away and all of her pupils survived. Many children in similar conditions around the Great Plains were not so lucky, as 235 people were killed, most of them children who couldn’t get home from school.

roads are closed to keep people who think themselves capable of manhandling mother nature from venturing out. i haven’t seen a moving vehicle in 2 days. my dad isn’t even attempting removal with a tractor. therefore, i will continue to do what you do when you are not doing anything: watch mindless television, bake a key lime coconut cake, play cards, pull out old piano music, read the bottom billion, stare at the mouse in the trap, make cinnamon stick votive holders, look out each window and compare drifts, try not to open the gifts under the tree (trust me i am restraining myself from opening each one and taking a picture of me playing with it before re-wrapping it.) and pray that i will actually get to see my family members.

{thanks to wikipedia for my research}

HOPE.

a silent presence, a driving reason, a nameless pursuit.

it is taking me a while to collect my thoughts concerning this overwhelming concept, reality.  i keep confusing hope with desire in my mind and though they may be interchangeable, desire relies on hope. hope is what pushes desire into the expectancy of obtaining something better. with confidence, not clouded by worry or anxiety.

i’ve tried to decipher if hope is subjective or objective. is it fair that i have a higher hope for my niece than a child here at the center. (i know, entirely different topic)  ok so maybe we do lower our hopes for certain situations (is that stunting them?) but hope is still hope, conditioned specifically for the soul it is illuminating.

desire is planted, a simple seed of wanting something good. it’s complications begin when it is exposed to the outside elements of doubt, pain, disbelief, guilt, unworthiness.

that is when we ask, search for hope- for confidence that regardless of exposing vulnerability (which is scary as hell), our desires can be fulfilled. a little secret- hope strengthens faith.

i was recently asked ‘why do you do what you do?’ (context: why do you work with hurting, poor, parenting drug addicts)

this summer i was helping a client set up skype on her computer so she could talk with her young daughter her sister “took” to another state. and she was telling me the horrible things her ex-husband did to her when visiting her older daughter around the corner

averting my face from hers to avoid tears, i felt her gaze she looked at me with peaceful eyes and said ‘sheree, i’m worth it. that’s what i’ve had to learn. that i am worthwhile despite all the bad choices i’ve made.’

and this is my hope personified. i think having hope is easier than succumbing ourselves to its very near presence.

my friend j.s and i pride ourselves on being able to use a metaphor the duration of a conversation, officially using it do death.

today the metaphor i bring to you is that of a handful. (stealing a scene from ‘amelie’) the satisfaction of sticking your arm into a large bag of cool beans, grabbing the extreme capacity of beans your hand can hold. it requires using rarely used muscles in your wrist, engaging all 5 fingers…

and then admiring through the space between each finger, all that is held within your palm.

imagine its a handful of popcorn and you’re racing to each kernel because when you eat a few, others loosen and can potentially fall to the unclean floor, so you  maneuver to eat each piece, satisfied because a fingerful is never enough.

but now it’s snowing you need a handful of snow to make a snowball because a thimbleful thrown won’t even make it past your shadow.

as a measurement, a handful of cherry tomatoes in a salad is complete. its enough to be noticed but not too much too dominate.

it can seem like a lot and other times it seems not enough

but even though it is exercising dormant muscles, tiring fingers from maintaining an unnatural pose, it is not an impossible task- to hold on to something that takes the entire space of your hand. something that needs to be held even though it may make one of your hands useless, you are not weakened.

because what is in your hand can be satisfying, burdensome, annoying, tiring, rewarding, useful,

and beautiful (the bouquet of wildflowers behind your back)

and powerful (handfuls turn into fists too)

however, if you let go of the handful, it can leave without a trace, or leave a wet/sticky residue behind or an empty sensation

because your hand remembers what is once held.  and it remembers how it felt.

salted caramels, introduced to me about 2 years ago, were a small revolution…as were the delightful balsamic truffles from an amazing chocolate shop in jackson hole…the combination of things that i wouldn’t have put together.

but this is a whole new level: candied bacon fudge.  i’m wondering if i make it for the cookie exchange will it be well received?  will people rant and rave over it or will i find chunks of it in the bathroom receptacle? it does seem rather genius, though. collaborating two important food groups (that’s chocolate and bacon if you were wondering) into a delectable treat, not for dogs.

i’ll also put them into the same category as pickled grapes with cinnamon and black pepper.  i admit it was the amazing photography that most enticed me to attempt them…but also because i had no category in my mouth in which to place grapes marinated in vinegar?  and so one afternoon L (my fanatic foodie friend) came over and we de-belly-buttoned grapes, added some yellow mustard seeds…

and i will say, that reminiscing about making them is causing my tongue to remember their flavor which quite simply, is making me crave one.  perhaps they will make great christmas gifts for people…hmmm…can you tell what i need to be doing?  it’s that time of the year.

i do feel extremely proud of myself for coming up with a gift idea for several friends that will be relatively cheap ie. free but quite meaningful. i know you’re wondering what exactly i will be “making” but what if you read this blog, than it won’t be a lovely surprise. and you may judge me for “skimping” your gift. so i’ll just let you wonder if the slippers you’re getting are a re-gift.

i love it when i feel like a genius.