How the West Was Won by Melinda

So I just finished watching ‘The West’, the documentary by Ken Burns. I have watched probably an inordinate amount of KB documentaries in the past year because I had the time on my hands. I started watching this one because somewhere in the gun control chatter I said., “How the West was Won.” and that truly has something to do with it, but it is even larger. KB does not gloss over much, or play French horn triumph music in the background. In fact the theme music for this one was an Indian chant, the sound a little foreign to my Western Civilization ears.   I have three words for  how the West was won: treachery, greed , and arrogance. And guns of course. I was going to say treachery, treachery and treachery, and it all seems the same. Not much else. There are appalling government sanctioned  and sponsored acts of violence against certain kinds of peoples, or peoples in a given area. So those who had a hatred for a certain kind of people or what they stood for could legally go in and wipe them out. Or if they were just feeling blood-thirsty or self-righteous. I have read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee some time ago, so I knew something. I had even read a little about the conflicts of Kansas and Missouri, at least to know they existed, they were bloody, and they involved the issue of slavery. But there was an extent to which I had no idea. There were slaves who gained their freedom and settled in Kansas and they were attacked with the intent of driving them out, with the law on the side of the attackers. It was like its own Civil War before the Civil War. There were peace -keeping Native-Americans who were driven from one place to another, till they were driven to Canada or shot. There was history of the NA as well, which is ill-served by a generation watching cowboy and Indian television shows. The Transatlantic Railroad was SLAMMED through the mountains. Some of it is over dead people’s bodies because they were in a race. Only the Chinese were willing to work that hard and the white American man worked him. There were whites who gave their lives for the railroad, or lived in slums, because that is all working for the railroad afforded him, but the Chinese bore the worst of it. There were Mexicans in California for several generations before it became a state. Then they were treated as unwanted newcomers. I suppose the Californios are a mix of people who came to California at one time or another. I was ready to not watch anymore when the story was told that in their villages the oldest man would walk through the village singing in the morning to wake everyone up. I bet he didn’t let them sleep in! But can you imagine?? The railroad upended their whole way of life. Then Los Angeles was built where a city could not be sustained. So when they ran out of water, they got permission from the federal government to drain the Owens River Valley which was being used by farmers who had previously gotten the feds promise that it would not be drained. So a tunnel was carved across the desert for over 200 miles just so LA could grow bigger and have water. And, yes, the farms were irretrievably ruined. I am sure I am re-stating this in pretty simple terms, after all,  it was nine episodes. Oh yes, then there was the de-culturization of the NA by the missionaries.  The children were taken away, they did not learn their own language, they were dressed ‘properly’ and lived in proper houses, because we all know we can’t abide that squatting community outside of town. You get your square of land and you stay on it. It’s genocide.

There there is the Lakota Indian who tells toward the end of the documentary how he would go into the mountains and pray. One night while he was up there, he had a vision of all the promises and treaties that were broken one by one. When he awoke, he just wanted to go down the mountain and start shooting. But then the sun began to rise and he watched it. As he watched it, he wanted to live. But he understood the only way he could stand it was to forgive. Every day he has to forgive. He said it what they all have to learn to do or they will end up drunk or dead on the road.

The point was made at the end that is has always been about the land. As much as it is scarred, it still has incredible beauty that has a measure of healing in it.

I think there is something seriously flawed in the American DNA, because freedom-seeking people wrote ‘All men are created equal’ and continued to allow slavery to exist. While this may be the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’, I have begun to think the free and the brave are not the people we usually think of. We white people live here largely (but not exclusively)  because someone else was treacherous to someone else. A social worker once told me that those who are abused tend to pass the abuse to the next generation. I’ve heard stories how ex-slaves of one kind of people treat those who serve them , of another kind of people, as slaves. There is something like a drug in our brains that finds controlling other people satisfactory, and it is not particular to any one kind of people, not even exploitative white Americans. It gives a false sense of importance and meaning to our lives. When I read how Jesus responds to people in the Bible, he most often says things they did not expect or understand, but what was needful. They wanted him to be the one who would get on his horse and charge at the Roman army and forever end their oppression.(Why? So they could be on top and look down at their oppressors?) It didn’t happen. I think Jesus will continue the unexpected and the incredible, even in our time, because it is still what is needful. Maybe he will use the Lakota to teach us how to forgive. Or how to use the land for healing. Maybe these awful ugly scars can be made tender, but stay as reminders. Maybe I need to think outside the box of my house, the square of my city, the customs I am used to as ‘normal’.

By the way, I have also watched ‘The Roosevelts’, ‘Prohibition”, and ‘The Dust Bowl’.  Probably all blog worthy,but this is the one that is getting it.

Winter warmth

We have lived in our city house for nearly 9 years. I have griped Way too much about how hard it is to keep it warm in the winter. In April 2015, we found a way to start working toward installing a wood stove. We ended up renovating our living area. We painted a different color that we mixed ourselves, we reconfigured shelves, we painted a chimney and a tree, and rearranged the furniture. We used whatever freebie wood we could get.

    This year somebody tipped us off to some good supply of hardwood. Never thought I’d say it, but this house is toasty in the winter. Sometimes I even walk around in my bare feet! It feels like luxury. If you need a fire to sit by, you are welcome to ours. We are home in the evening more often than not. Feel free to bring a book or your knitting. The mugs and Tea are in good supply.

Yule’s come And Yule’s Gane

I have to make another blog post in December while there is still snow on my page. It seems like Christmas came so fast this year. I feel older in that sense, like can we just finished singing Christmas carols? I always have to think so hard about it and I just didn’t have time to this year. So we’ve done what we can and enjoyed it. We went to an 11 o’clock service on Christmas Eve for the first time in a long time. It was nice. It was long. We didn’t open presents when we got home like we used to with the kids. We are still fussing about what we’re going to get for each other. I just got done telling Joel he’s an all or nothing man. Either it’s perfect or he’s not interested. He threw back, “that’s a good way to cop out of getting a Christmas present.” I laughed. I think I’ve said that to him. He doesn’t say ‘cop out’ , at least not as much as I do! 

   Not long ago I saw that a leg of lamb at the grocery store was $80. I figured it would be a long time if ever I bought a lamb leg of lamb again. Then The grocery store  had a sale and I got one for $30. Counting it for Christmas dinner. We had our friends, Stan and Terry Morton, over for dinner and it was a cozy foursome. Hard to believe we’ve known them for nearly 20 years. I remember when we met. Joel and I served dinner at church on our 20th anniversary and I remember meeting them that night. And, Yep, this summer we will be married for 40 years. No wonder I feel old!😏 having the family Christmas tomorrow.

  I went to a concert with my concert going friend, Judy, at the beginning of the month. It was New York polyphony. Simply… Lovely… Singing. I have to get in at least one concert in a December and that was it.

I’m going to try a new project today. It looks simple enough to not botch it up. 

I was cleaning out my Google drive the other day and read a letter that I had written to my mother outlining my January projects last year and I didn’t do them! It was great inspiration to try and do them this year! And I have the stuff to do them!  I should lead a rich and full life if I just do all my undone projects for a year.

Well, I better get going while I have something going on me!

Signed, Musing Melinda 

Pumpkin stories

I just popped pumpkin pie into the oven. I wish I had some idea of how many I’ve made over my lifetime. I think the first one I made I was 11. It’s not a fun age to teach but I begged my mom to teach me how to make a pie. I am one of those messies on top of it. But she let me. Pumpkin it’s not too hard and I whipped whipped cream and put it on top and it was beautiful. I asked my mom if we could hide it because sometimes she had the desserts she made and surprised us at the end of the meal. But she said no and went in the other room. I make sure she wasn’t looking and I picked up the pie and scooted off to my bedroom with it. When I stopped moving, the whip cream did not, and it went sailing off The pie! I quickly decided it was not a moment to hide, and hollered for my mom. When she came in the room she said, “I saw you do that. ” 👀

Then there was the pie that was really beautiful and did not have any sugar in it. What a shock! But my granddaughter loved it and ate as much of it as she could! And then there was the pie I took to my daughters, carrying it in a box. I set the box on the floor in the kitchen. Later we let the one-year-old out of his chair to crawl around on the floor. We know now what we did not know then. He is a foodie! When his dad stepped into the kitchen for something he found a little boy having a regular pumpkin party!

One day before Thanksgiving we found Martha Stewart on TV and watched everything she did. She made this beautiful sweet potato pie and then she cut out from the pastry a vine to decorate it with. I thought, “I’m going to do that with my pumpkin pie.” And then she told us it would not work with pumpkin pie. And then she said what you do if you want it with pumpkin pie, was to make the pastry separately and bake it of course, and then put it on the pie when it is baked, otherwise it will sink to the bottom. I was so glad she added that because I would’ve had gunky pastry at the bottom of my pumpkin pie.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone

Interrupted

“You are interrupting,” I say to a young child who is eager to let out out her head things that are rapidly flying around. It happens a lot in a day. Sometimes a finger on the lips is sufficient, sometimes more is needed.  Yesterday I went to grab my lunch  out of the fridge and it wasn’t there. So I hastily packed a lunch that wasn’t as good and for which I had not allowed time. I tell my families not to break their necks getting to school on time and I had to preach it to myself. I hit all red lights getting out of town. I get a little before our starting time and a mother is waiting. She was more on the ball than me. I told her my lunch story  and then I realize I am not holding it. I check the car. No lunch. Ach. One child came in with a dinner plate sized fungus. Interruption. We ooooh and ahh. I bring out my shells I had collected the day before, thinking of them and all the looking it would give us. Day is thrown off course. They shared cheesy crackers, raisins and sliced turnips with me. I am bringing them banana muffins today. It was the second time Od forgotten my lunch!  Moms come for pickup and I tell my silly lunch story again. One mom had come from the grocery store and grabbed out a container of yogurt for me. I stood leaning against the back of my car, eating my yogurt and saw this imageand thought I’d take a picture…..only to find the weight in my via pocket was my gloves and not my phone. Thankful I was still at school, I unlocked and got my phone. And now you’re reading this. And seeing this. Color interrupted. Or is it intervened? Or interloped? Or….

Life is full of this. Unpredictable, unexpected. Embrace it. (Talking to myself)

For Dinner Tonight

  It was fast food. I sauteed mushrooms and spinach in olive oil and butter. The Italian cookbook often gives that instruction and since I generally like the food out of that book, that’s what I did. If I had fresh garlic and onions , I probably would have put to that in too, but I’m out. So the dry stuff went on top of the eggs with the salt and pepper. I put in the eggs , put a lid on and turned it down to the 2 on my burner. The 1 is nearly useless. This was in the cast iron skillet. I made salad on our plates with young lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes, grated carrots, and tomatoes. Freshly grate parmesan cheese on any or all of it. Multigrain artisan bread toasted. No more than 10  minutes.
This was Mary Ellen inspired.
Anybody, I can’t figure our how to post a picture to just Cooking with Cousins.Did I mot do something I should have.? I can’t even find the option for saving a picture from FB to my Kindle so I can use it here. So here is the DEETS and on my regular FB is the PIC.
Happy Eating!

Whispering Hope

Soft as the voice of an angel

breathing a lesson unheard;

Hope, with a gentle persuasion

Whispers a comforting word.

“Wait till the darkness is over,

Wait till the tempest is gone.

Hope for a brighter tomorrow,

After the shower is gone.”

Whispering Hope, o how welcome thy voice! Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

(some versions say after the ‘darkness’ is gone.)

The past week has been spent saying good-bye to our Uncle Buzz. It’s no insult to anyone to say that he and Aunt Lee have been stand-in parents and grandparents for us when we have lived far away from our own. And for that we treasure them. He was 83 and died as peacefully as you could pray for. The phrase from the Bible that says “…that you sorrow not, as those who have no hope” we don’t sorrow without hope, but we sorrow! There are tears and chatter and regrets and sympathies and above all, Comfort! Death is a mystery. It is at once profound and common.

Babikow family funerals are unique in a sense, because of the family business. Business associates are friends , even if they are competitors, or have been. There is healthy respect for someone who has strived to do well and treat others with respect, even if you don’t always agree. This is also a generational business , (not so much the same local business but the same kind of growing and selling plants, Buzz being the third. His grandfather’s business still operates ) .Uncle Buzz took a long shot and hired a bunch of 20-something’s (and younger who were his kids and nephews and nieces) who didn’t know much about the greenhouse business but were interested and willing to learn. I think almost all of them started by driving a truck! They showed up at his funeral 20 years after he retired. I think we would have been surprised if they hadn’t! Maybe I underestimate people but I find this very touching. So if any of yooz read this, thank you! 😋Working at the Greenhouse

We thought when they took Uncle Buzz off the ventilator he would stop breathing within the hour. He breathed for two more days. It gave us a little time to get used to the fact. Not much. I can’t believe I had lunch with them a week and a half ago and they put his body in the ground yesterday. And that when I walk into their apartment, I’ll see only Aunt Lee. I told Joel that my head is still swimmy. He said his is too.

The song I quoted at the top is a favorite of theirs that we sang at the funeral. I had heard of it but had not heard it in decades. It was such a pleasure to discover it. Whenever I listen to the YouTube video I posted onFB , I want to say “Lassie! Here Lassie!”  So if you can’t get past that sound of a former era, read the words straight through  in your head. They are very sweet.