A Quadrille of Conjoined Tankas

Gusts pierce old windows
As I enter cold kitchen.
The new year still creaks. 
Calendars change as snow falls.
Aromatic tea wakes bones.

Silent draft reminds:
You are blessed to be so warm!
Howling wind reminds:
Halloween is not scary
Compared to homeless winter!

Poem crafted in response to Quadrille Challenge #71 by dVerse. I am currently decompressing from preparing for Sunday’s Annual Meeting at the church I serve by using the creative side of my brain. Too much analysis and planning leaves my creative side in need of expression. There are worse things to do at your desk while enjoying a sandwich and cup of tea!

“Epiphany Tanka”

Before I even share my poem, a Merry Christmas Eve to all of the Orthodox folks out there who will celebrate Christmas tomorrow. May God bless you and your celebration!

Snow falls through dark sky
Shifting past still planter hooks.
Light will brim at dawn
On lands awaiting the thaw
After Jack Frost settles abed.
My poetry journal. Yes, I did have several composition books bound together…

Let us Ramble: Pursuit of Smokiness

Yesterday was Independence Day in the United States. For most folks Independence Day is marked by celebration with a barbecue of chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, sausages, or any other number of delicious foods. Tradition usually lends itself towards children staying up late to see fireworks and to listen to patriotic music.

The day celebrates the Declaration of Independence being ratified by Congress in 1776. The day celebrates a far different time in our nation. A lot of the celebration would probably be considered obtuse, strange, and irreverent to most of the folks who lived through the events of 1776. I must admit that I am less concerned with the historical tension in this holiday than with many of the religious holidays which normally pique my interest. I happen to like Independence Day.

One of the reasons I like Independence Day is that I like to grill. I enjoy using our grill. This year I did a bit of minor surgery on my charcoal grill/smoker with a dremel to add a rotisserie component. I woke up very early, set the fire smoking, and watched a turkey spin around and around on the spit. We were invited to a wedding renewal ceremony and picnic about noon. The turkey hit the perfect temperature right on time to head out to the party with a smoked bird. Here’s the bird about an hour before she was finished. The tiny yellow bits were part of an olive oil baste with thyme, marjoram, and garlic. When finished the turkey was deeply colored and extremely fragrant.

My smoked turkey about an hour before completion

I was really proud of the turkey, but I refused to put pictures online. My wife knows that I love to share bits of my cooking adventures, so she took a picture to post on my behalf. I almost stopped her from posting the picture. What was my reasoning? What if I had made a huge mistake and the turkey was awful? What if people saw the turkey and told me I had messed it up?

The turkey was decimated at the party. The turkey was just torn to shreds by people who had spent a good half hour smelling the fragrant meat while waiting for the guests of honor to arrive. I’m glad my wife saved me a piece when carving because the turkey was just destroyed. I understood why immediately upon tasting the meat. The meat was deeply flavored, deeply delicious, and tasty in a way that only smoked meat can taste. This turkey wasn’t just store-bought turkey. The bird had been prepared carefully, slowly, and it was absolutely delicious.

It raised a question in my mind. Why am I so afraid of failure? I have good gifts, I have talent, and I practice my craft. I cook dinner regularly in my house and I have never been afraid to attempt new things. I should believe in myself, but I regularly look in the mirror and assume the worst about myself. What if my fear really is just fear that should be put aside?

The situation reminds me of FDR’s first inaugural address in 1933. President Roosevelt stated “let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.” Facing a nation in a fiscal crisis with a vast imbalance of population and resources, FDR approached a dangerous situation with the belief that the nation must advance or perish. While my concerns are not nearly so dire, I will say that my own fears in life are often unreasonable and unjustified. President Roosevelt said later in that address:

“Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.”

If true happiness lies in the joy of achieving things, then why am I so terrified of failure? Why do I fret about money, resources, and future criticism when happiness will not lie down those paths? Why do any of us live in such fear? I smoked a turkey that I filled with herbs from my own garden, basted in an oil I infused with my own instincts, and then slow roasted in a smoker that I altered with my own hands, My wife was right to be proud of me. Smoking a turkey is not rocket science, but the turkey was something that I enjoyed creating which I brought together through my own efforts in cooking, gardening, crafting, and patience. What’s more, I took that gift and shared it in a place where people could enjoy it without price or cost. I used my talents to bless others.

What would the church look like if we were to live out this love together? What if we were more concerned with our ministry to ourselves and to others than with looking at what we can take from the world around us? What if we found joy in our work as a community instead of chasing our own profits to our own doom?

The Catapult

via Daily Prompt: Catapult

My family has had two cats over the past few years. We have lived on church property and we need to deal with church mice. One of the cats had extra toes. My wife says she should keep her name. She called the cat Debbie. I called it Thumbs. Thumbs was a great mouser for many years.

The second cat is a black cat named Pepper. I’m allergic to cats. I didn’t need to rename this cat. Pepper makes me sneeze when it gets in my nose. Pepper make me sneeze when she rubs against my face. The name fits. Pepper is not the greatest of mousers.

Thumbs was very relaxed. Pepper seems a bit uptight. The two are almost completely different cats in terms of personality. I personally think it is because Pepper can’t operate the catapult. We have to get rid of those church mice somehow…

Distracted by Panic

via Daily Prompt: Panicked

The phone rings. I greet the caller, answer questions, and look around before hanging up. My office is my world most mornings. My time is filled with notes to send, calls to return, and things to ponder. I look over to the stack of four books, but there are only three. I will have to run home as that book is on my to-do list.

I dash in the door a few minutes later. The dogs are excited. The cat could care less. I am thinking about a ringing phone with a frustrated person wondering why I have not answered the phone. I stumble over my daughter’s jacket. I careen into the kitchen while promising to have a word with her when she gets off the bus.

As I dash through the kitchen I gaze longingly at the coffee maker and the tin of cookies sitting nearby. The tempting tin is waiting for the kids. I filled it with cookies just last night. I bet they would taste great right about now. After all, the tin might be waiting for me. I think of my office phone ringing. I run into my office. I search for the book. I find nothing.

I dash in the kitchen again. I see the book sitting underneath a clean coffee mug. I remember that I left that breakable mug there to remind me to slow down that morning. I’ve been getting too worked up lately. The mug was a reminder to slow down.

I look at the coffee maker. The coffee maker is still warm and ready to brew. I pop in a pod, smell the coffee as it brews, take a sip, breathe deeply, and then I think of the phone. I can practically hear it impatiently ringing.

I rush in the door as the phone rings. I sit at my desk with the still warm coffee in my hands. I greet the caller, answer questions, and look around before hanging up. I breathe deeply, take a sip of the smooth blend, and look at my pile of four books… I remember where I found the mug as I count to three. Well, at least I have a cup of coffee.