Thursday, September 23, 2010

365 Days of Poetry: Over the Hill and Through the Dale

365 Days of Poetry: Over the Hill and Through the Dale

Yep. Sunbob is getting old. I turned the big six oh today. I'll let Christy have this space today.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Wednesday On The Hill

“My name is Hanna”.  The bespectacled little lady with the huge smile had just returned from shuttling in a pan of freshly barbecued hamburgers and was bringing back the pan for me to fill again.  “Thank you Hanna, I really appreciate your help.” - “No problem”, she said over her shoulder as she ran back into the church to rejoin her friends.

It was the first night of Wednesday On The Hill.  This is the Rev’s plan to reclaim Wednesday night as church night in our congregation.  She asked me to fix dinner for everyone for the kick-off.  Last Sunday she invited everyone to join together for dinner before they ran off to choir practice, youth group, committee meetings or just on to live their lives.  She told them all that I would be fixing the meal - “and he’s a good cook” she proclaimed.  Thanks my love - no pressure there now is there?

“So how many am I cooking for?” I asked the Rev.  “I don’t know, it’s the first time”, was the honest estimate.  So we decided that we would prepare for 100 and hope for the best.  Burgers and Brats on the grill was to headline the menu.  I found a recipe for a pasta salad on the web that looked good so that became our side dish.  The Rev added fresh veggies and rice crispy bars to the presentation. A quick run to the store for Kettle Baked chips (3 flavors, of course) and assorted cookies and we had a menu.

I started early Wednesday morning and decided that this was a pretty pedestrian menu so I toasted all of the hamburger and brat buns.  I had to have something that was “special”.  Then it was off to the church about 2:30pm to get ready to go by 5:15 - the scheduled start time.
I was told the church had a grill that I could use to prepare the burgers and brats. Hmmm, a gas grill - I’m a Weber kettle/charcoal guy myself.  Oh well, let’s give it a go.  I lifted the lid and discovered, of course, that it had not been cleaned since it was used last June.  I had suspected that might be the case so I had brought my grill brush.  No problem - I had that grill ready to go before too long.  I opened the valve on the gas tank and hit the ignition button.  Thank you Lord, it fired the first time.  Okay let’s throw on some burgers and see what this thing will do.  Five minutes a side is the usual time on my grill so I checked them in five and found that the left side of the grill was hot and working just fine (though a little slow) but the right side had barely cooked the surface.  I eventually developed a system of starting on the right and working the burgers to the left - then I used the very right side as a “warmer” to hold the finished burgers as I progressed.  I cooked all afternoon.
By 4:30 people started to arrive. They would stick their heads out and say “It smells great - I could smell it all the way out in the parking lot”.  It was about this time that I met Hanna.  I finished up about 5:10 - 80 burgers and 36 brats.  I hoped it would be enough.  The Rev was going to have her meal after-all.

We figure we served about 75 people, young and old, last night.  All of the brats disappeared but we did have some burgers left-over.  The pasta salad was a hit although we had made about twice as much as needed.  Six bags of chips was the right amount and two trays of rice crispy bars were gone.  Several of the ladies commented on the toasted buns - they liked the touch.

By 6:00 everyone was off to their meetings, practices and groups.  One young man offered to help with the clean up so he and I packed up the left overs, cleaned the dishes and wiped down the tables.  By 8:00 I was home in my recliner and totally exhausted.

Yes, I was wiped out but it felt great.  I had never cooked for that many before and we had pulled it off.  This is something that I can do.  And I enjoyed it.  The sound of people talking and eating together was great.  This was community - this was fellowship.  It may be just a few hours on a Wednesday night, a brief break in the routine of life, but this is church.  This is good.

May you also find a break in your routine this week - and as always I pray that you find . . . Peace.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Block by Block awarded $1.35 million grant

OMG - I just found this announcement.  Remember Block-by-Block?  This is the program in Cedar Rapids that is helping rebuild the flooded communities "block by block".  Well, they have received a $1.35 million grant from the state of Iowa to support their efforts.  Here is the story on the Iowa UMC Conference site.

If case you have not followed this site - this program is very dear to me.  I have written before of their efforts.  It also holds a special place in the heart of The Rev as she helped in getting it started.  Courtney, Clint and all of the staff and hundreds of volunteers have done marvelous work in rebuilding after the flood.  I see on their website that they are up to 21 blocks now.  Here is a link to a Google map of the blocks.

Two years ago this was just a dream.  But this shows what can happen when people work together.  Two groups came together to form this effort.  Matthew 25 was a small neighborhood outreach mission of the United Methodist Church.  They were directly effected by the flood and had to rebuild their location.  Four Oaks is a large, well known family services agency.  The two heads checked their egos at the door, sat down and hammered out a program - and it works.

If you want to know more about Block-by-Block here is a link to their website.  Check out the list of donors and funding sources - this is truly a combined public and private effort that deserves everyones support.


Friday, September 10, 2010

Iowan to receive the Medal of Honor

The White House Friday announced that Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, 25, of Hiawatha, Iowa, will be awarded the nation's highest medal for valor for his actions in Afghanistan, and he will come to the White House to receive the medal himself.

This is the lead from the CNN report on Salvatore Giunta.  I wish I could say I knew this young man but, even though he went to school at Kennedy HS - one block from my home in Cedar Rapids, it was after my girls graduated.  All of Eastern Iowa - heck, all of Iowa - should be proud.

We can argue all night about whether or not we should even be at war in that part of the world but I am thankful that most Americans recognize the sacrifice our sons and daughters are making for this country.  I came of age during our little escapades in Viet Nam and the attitudes were different then.  The war was unpopular and unfortunately so were the poor men that had to fight it.  I think that is one lesson that my generation learned.  Now when our troops return home, they are treated with the respect they deserve instead of being shunned and ridiculed.  I never had to serve but my brother was in the Navy during Viet Nam.  I was in school and then working on campus at ISU during those days.  I worked with some of the returning vets back then - it was not one of our shining moments.

So let's be proud of this young man, and all of the other men and women who have gone off to fight this war.  I wish they didn't have to do this and I pray we will end this soon - but these people have earned our respect and our thanks.


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The Wilderness Experience

If you have Google Chrome as your browser you have got to check this out.

And if you don't have Google Chrome - WHY NOT??????
Now you have a good excuse to try it.