Archive for March, 2012
God helps those who cannot help themselves and also those who can.
Jesus said, “What do you have? Let’s use that.”
Sitting on top of a hill at 2051 South Lee Highway, Ms. Vickie’s (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a neat and clean arrangement of storage booths and vendor tables. Ms. Vickie can be reached at 423-650-1879.
On that one day, vendors offered glassware; birdhouses; sports gear; Barbie dolls; a small flat-screen television set; a stroller; dream-catchers; clothing; socks; a baby bed mattress; a fanny pack; a Kate Smith cassette tape of inspirational favorites; teddy bears; a turquoise backpack and clear angel ornaments trimmed in gold-colored paint. You get the idea. There’s just about anything and everything.
“Everything on that rack is 50 cents,” a lady vendor said, encouraging folks to stop by her table.
One gentleman bought a hand-crocheted afghan for his sick wife at home and he spoke out about how much precious time someone had spent on crocheting that covering.
A woman who joyfully reported she’d lost 100 pounds bought a size 12 dress for $3 in flowing midnight blue and green with gold. She looked happy.
One vendor thoughtfully picked up a pink blouse that was about to fall to the ground. “I think it was there by imagination,” she said. “It was barely hangin’ on.” Don’t we know.
A blonde lady with long legs like the actress Melanie Griffith floated through the tables wearing a red satin blouse and slim black pants. How did she manage that? How did she look bold and shy at the same time? She looked gorgeous.
A small dog barked, people sashayed through the tables and booths and rainbow-colored streamers on a girl’s bicycle whispered in the breeze on that bright blue day at Ms. Vickie’s.
The sun was hot enough for sunburns and shades. For $1, you can buy soft drinks from a cooler packed with ice at Ms. Vickie’s. Nobody got perplexed. Vendors walked or talked or relaxed in fold-out chairs.
At first, the soft-spoken lady who got the soft beige shoes looked hesitant, but her husband or partner (maybe both) said, “Try them on” in a protective voice.
“Oh, yes,” the lady said. “That’s my size! The shoes feel good.”
Barbecued pork and chicken, along with a considerable variety of other foods, are featured Monday through Saturday, 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., (but not on Sundays) at Murray’s barbecue place on South Lee Highway in Cleveland, Tennessee.
I tried the pulled pork one recent Friday with sides of coleslaw and sweet baked beans. Texas-style fresh bread goes with the barbecue, too.
Be careful driving by, but look for the barbecue grill that sits near the concession stand. Murray, a former construction worker, built the grill out of scrap metal and he also does maintenance work for Wal-Mart.
If you hear a little about this man’s story, you’ll know sacrifice and sorrow somehow brought him to sharing good food and God’s grace in this southeastern Tennessee city. Murray’s expansive vision already sees hungry souls being fed along with hungry bellies. He wants to feature gospel preachers and gospel singers as well, right there on the paved surroundings next to the grill and concession stand.
From inside the stand, the preacher-cook took out a CD of “God Sends the Rain” and I don’t remember which singers sing the songs, but I recall the generosity of spirit shown that day by Murray and his friend, Bill Carroll, a former United States Navy cook and current owner of real estate at B & B Marina in the Cleveland area. Carroll prepared that Friday’s coleslaw, which was also very, very good.
Everything about Murray’s barbecue stand soothes the soul, from the colored Christmas lights designed to shine in the darkness to the old-fashioned comfort foods like biscuits or fried potatoes or fried bologna and egg with several other selections and soft drinks, all served with such cleanliness and kindness it would be difficult to go away feelin’ lost or hungry.
You may not believe this, but early that night when I walked to my car with my take-out barbecue plate, it started rainin’. Maybe it was a sign of blessings on the way…drop by drop, plate by plate, song by song and soul by soul. Stop by the barbecue place on the hill. If nothing else, you’ll be blessed by real good barbecue. (Update: I drove by this particular outdoor barbecue place just a few weeks ago. It wasn’t there anymore, that I could see. Don’t know what happened, but didn’t want to send you on a wild goose chase).
- Is New York City the New BBQ Capital? (esquire.com)
- Safeway Barbecue Battle (auambassadors.wordpress.com)
- Cool weather helps draw crowds to River Roots Live (qctimes.com)
- Grilled Fruit and Other Uncommon Barbecue Fare to Try this Summer (personalcreations.com)
Sometimes it seems like doing just about anything is better than doing nothing.
Feeling powerless to effect good change vexes the soul. Today so many things remained and frustrated me, I just headed outta town to Murphy, North Carolina in the gorgeous sunshine. Maybe I’ll find a job there in Murphy, I thought. Maybe that city will be different from this city.
Ever felt that way? Things aren’t changing! It’s the same as it was 100 years ago!
Some sameness is comforting, but too much sameness is stifling.
That stifled feeling is dangerous if you think about it, but we’re usually not thinking about it. When we make some rash decision, we are usually feeling too much of something or too little of something. Neither feeling will always take us to a good place, will it?
It can all work out in the end, God love us, but God is the key. Only God can turn our curses into blessings, but we have to follow God’s lead and trust He has our best interests at heart when we mess up and mess up real fast. Jesus did lots of things immediately, but He never did anything hastily. There’s a difference.
Anyway, about 30 minutes, more or less, out toward Murphy, I turned back. What good would moving really do? Who said it? “Wherever I go, there I am.” The only real change we can make is within ourselves. God will help us if we really mean it. If we change for the better inside, I’m betting it creates lots of free space and then we don’t feel stifled and cluttered up and mad and scared so much.
Make things work here. I gotta make hay while the sun shines. If you look it up at http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings, you can learn that Tudor farmers had to make hay while the sun shines. They didn’t have fancy equipment and weather forecasts that make feeding livestock as stress-resistant as it is today. Tudor farmers had to cut, dry and gather hay, which took two to three days, literally while the sun shone, because apparently you can’t make hay in the rain.
Pushing through sameness and futility hurts and frustrates, but what else can we do sometimes? I dropped a job application off at an ice cream parlor and they need cart pushers and other people at Wal-Mart and a local news station needs some help.
And I’m writing this to you and it’s not makin’ hay because there’s no pay, but maybe it counts somehow. Glean all you want and maybe we will all have enough.
- Alasdair Hay named as chief of Scotland’s new national fire service (scotsman.com)
- Sufferers endure the longest hay fever season in more than two decades (independent.co.uk)
- Hay Shortage Has Ripple Effect Across Colorado (denver.cbslocal.com)
Whether it’s good music, good food or good people, there are some things in life we want to enjoy right now and today I craved lemonade.
I was so thirsty this afternoon in Cleveland, Tennessee, where temps hit around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, I thought about Chick-fil-A lemonade and suddenly I just had to go buy a cup full of refreshment. I rarely drink lemonade, but Chick-fil-A lemonade is a treat to try if you want to, especially in summertime.
As lemonade goes, this was perfect lemonade. Just the right amounts of lemon juice, water, sugar and crushed ice to make your heart glad while you sit in a hot car or even a cool car or at a library or wherever you want to just relax a little. The young lady who waited on me at the fast-food restaurant drive-through was one of the sweetest and she wished me a good day and I wished her one back while we took part in a little lemonade ritual.
The refreshment sat in the cup holder just waitin’ for me to take a sip. I tore the paper off the straw and what can I say? The icy sip of tart sweet drink just made my day. I drank it all down to the last cold wonderful drop.
Chick-fil-A goes to lots of trouble to keep its customers happy and the lemonade is an example. According to the restaurant’s website, it takes four pints of freshly-squeezed lemon juice to make one urn full of Chick-fil-A lemonade.
If you want to learn more about lemonade in general, go to Clifford A. Wright’s website, a “premier source” of food facts. At the site, I learned the first uses of lemons were as ornamental plants in early Islamic gardens. The earliest written evidence of lemonade comes from Egypt. There are records of medieval Jewish communities where lemonade was enjoyed and exported.
Lemonade was brought to America by European settlers and markets expanded for cold drinks when the ice trade started in the mid-19th century, according to www.foodtimeline.org. Lemonade was a special treat in America during the Temperance movement that outlawed alcohol.
That’s an understatement if I ever heard one, because today’s lemonade not only quenched my thirst, but blessed my soul. I hope you can enjoy a nice cold glass of lemonade soon, with plenty of ice and maybe an elegant slice of bright lemon. Ahhh…nothin’ quite like it on a balmy day.
Who doesn’t enjoy flowers?
Ralph Waldo Emerson said “The world laughs in flowers”–and I believe him.
The other day I went shopping for some summer clothes. The weather outside this March is almost balmy and the long, hot summer is well on its way.
I bought one striped shirt in pale blue, light yellow and white and another in blues, purples, a little green and lavender in a big wildflower print. Other choices went to K-mart’s layaway department, layaway plans being true godsends for those of us who cannot pay for or charge items all at once.
Then I decided to learn more about florals. I discovered flowers can be symbolic and really can say something. According to FTD.com and Withers Place Publications, the chrysanthemum, for instance, is considered a noble flower in China. A bright orange mum is speaks of the sun’s bright color and means “fascinated and enthused.”
But what about the wildflower blouse in shades of blue, violet, orchid, a little green and lavender? At Teleflora, I found that blue can mean calmness and peace. Another site said violet may signify imagination and spirituality, while orchid is delicate and luxurious. The green leaves mean resilience and the gentle lavender speaks of grace.
Is it possible to live up to a blouse’s message? Maybe we will all someday be as wonderful as those florals, speaking to God and each other in favorable tones and hues, always mindful of quiet meanings and the context of all living things.
I especially like the way Baskin-Robbins in Cleveland, Tennessee features twinkling tiny white lights in the outdoor patio area and greets customers with a bright neon purple “Celebrate” sign in clear view when you walk in. The place was exceptionally clean and friendly, too.
Not that I’ve tried that many scoops of butter pecan, but Baskin-Robbins butter pecan ice cream must be some of the best. The color is not the cream color I’ve seen in other butter pecans, but it’s a very light tan color with the dark brown toasted pecan bits throughout. The buttery taste stood out, especially when I crunched the toasted pecans. But there was a hint of something…maple, maybe?
Butter pecan is not really a weird ice cream flavor and, according to a USA Today article last summer, written by Bruce Horovitz, seven out of ten Americans buy strawberry, vanilla or chocolate ice cream. But, for the three who don’t, Baskin-Robbins of the famous 31 flavors has offered varieties like French Toast.
This month in the United States at Baskin-Robbins, there’s Tax Crunch flavor, full of chocolate and coffee flavors, along with Love Potion No. 31, a fruity vanilla flavor.
The hint of what I thought might be maple might really be brown sugar, which is featured in a butter pecan ice cream recipe at the Taste of Home website.
Information at About.com indicates that in America, the delightful mixture of cream, sugar, flavoring, all set to salty ice and churned, was served by presidents as well as by one of the most famous First Ladies, Dolley Madison, in 1832.
About.com also noted that in 1848, a woman named Nancy Johnson patented the first hand-crank ice cream freezer, which established the basic ice cream-making methods still used today.
The idea of ice cream, first in the minds of the wealthy and powerful like King Tang of Shang, China, eventually worked its way down and out to the tired huddled masses needing a little break and aren’t we glad?
Sometimes we just stand over the sink and eat ice cream right out of the carton, tryin’ to chill.
One small step can help the whole world. Making even one tiny move, as small as offering a cup of cold water, counts.
A wondrous example of how one heart, full of compassion, can make life better for millions is Jean Henri Dunant, whose heart broke into pieces and actions all at once.
After seeing wounded soldiers suffering in pain after the Battle of Solferino, Dunant had to do something to help. Dunant’s parents had nourished their son’s heart into grandness through their own humanitarian actions.
We can read enough history to learn how it moves, in bad ways–but also in good ways–across the globe and through time. Really living requires some form of action.
Today, when I read about how Dunant’s active and caring heart eventually led to the formation of the International Red Cross humanitarian movement, that one word struck me: movement. To do something good, we must stir; budge; change positions; go forward. The body will often follow the heart.
This can seem impossible at times. Yes, nearly impossible. Maybe, for a time, it is impossible to move or go forward. But, what if, by sheer faith, against all lack of feeling and motivation, we take just one step, make just one tiny move? Who knows what good things may happen?
Because, long ago, Henri (or Henry) Dunant and his parents cared for some, the International Red Cross organizations still care for many. Clara Barton took generous and decisive action in her own nation. She is honored at the Clara Barton National Historic Site. There are currently thousands of Red Cross volunteers moving to help people hurt by war or disaster.
The Red Cross is now a world-wide symbol of mercy and protection. Even enemies know that Red Cross volunteers will do whatever they can to keep people safe under the wide red encircling arms of that living symbol.
- Red Cross: 150 years of humanity (english.ruvr.ru)
- This Day in Yesteryear: The First Geneva Convention Is Signed (1864) (euzicasa.wordpress.com)
- Story: Bringing Disaster Relief to those in need (newsroom.redcross.org)