Cass Community Social Services, 500 Biblical Meatballs & 375 Memorial Challah Onion Rolls.

RE-POST from April 2014:

There are at least six, solid, Biblical references regarding meatballs.

“Hi, we were wondering…”

I received a significant, mid-week invitation from a dear, don’t-get-to-see-often, friend. It was one of those jump-to-it, second-chance, “you don’t want to miss this,” opportunities. The last time I rode along became a scary freeway ice-dancing event featuring sliding cars, sudden lane-swerving, and frightening brake pumping. A few near-accidents in, a committee of concerned participants made the reluctant decision to head home before reaching our destination. It was a hard call to make, because individually and as a group, we don’t take volunteering lightly. In this case, it was clear a no-show would have serious consequences, but the severity of the travel conditions could not be ignored.

That’s how a recent early Saturday morning found me munching a Clif protein bar, hanging in the far parking lot of Sam’s Club, waiting on another ride.

In mission work there are sometimes great gaps of knowledge. This one wasn’t much of a mystery. We knew where we were headed, and what we would do. Still, the informational brochure I was handed filled in a lot of unknown blanks in my perception of the project. The impressive scale of Cass Community Social Services in Detroit is something to behold. The volunteer schedule is equally as impressive.

The Saturday kitchen schedule was filled by a church confirmation class from Alpena, a church youth group from Northville, the Detroit chapter of One Brick, some Michigan State-ers on spring break, and a women’s church group from Tecumseh. It started off slowly, but at one point I counted 24 people in the kitchen.

We had arrived believing we would be making sandwiches, and left not having made a single one. The new first order of kitchen business was slicing semi-frozen flanks of meat. The first problem I encountered was a lack of latex free gloves. By default, I became the dishwasher.

A volunteer named Bobby, who has been washing dishes at Cass for 9 years, so far, demonstrated the basics. Food down this shoot; rinse, load, fill, sanitize, stack, and re-shelve. I really wanted a bit more instruction from Bobby, but he wasn’t inclined to give it. He walked away and I proceeded to process dishes, utensils, pots and pans for two hours straight. Bobby would fly by every once in a while, saying the same thing, “You’re doin’ alright!”

During one of those passes, another volunteer pointed to my cleaning stash and requested an aluminum scrubbie. When I turned for it, Bobby was in my way, so I asked him to please hand it over. He didn’t. “The scrubbie,” I reiterated, thinking perhaps he hadn’t heard my quiet voice in the ruckus. He just stood there, shaking his head at us. I tried again, carefully explaining and renaming the item, “She would like that scouring pad, please.” Finally, he cracked a semi-smile and pointed behind her. There, at the exact spot where the question had originated, in a rather obvious place, was another one. 

In those two minutes, my pile had grown to overflowing the staging-space allotted to dirty items. but went back to work with a conquer-this-mountain attitude. Eventually, I was relieved of dish duty. I didn’t want to be relieved, but Miss Lonetta – head cook, kitchen orchestrator/coordinator, menu planner – insisted. She handed me two bowls with bananas, oranges, and grapes, pushed open a door and told me to go sit outside. A few minutes later, I became the fruit sharer, offering fruit and fresh-air seats to the also forced-to-take-a-break cooking crew.

The beef slicers also chopped a lot of broccoli and garlic, grated carrots and cheese, made rice, cracked dozens of eggs, and melted butter. From 9:00 AM until Noon, the principles hustled us along. It was about then that some of the volunteer shifts had ended. There were only about 6 of us left. Lonetta told me to go grab some parchment paper, and pointed in the general direction supplies. I wasn’t exactly sure where to look, but eventually I spied, grabbed, and delivered.

Then she wanted to know why I wasn’t making meatballs, with the few remain-ers who were also running out of time. I explained about the latex, and she gleefully cried. “Grab an apron and suit up!” One of the volunteer groups had shown up with a box of latex-free gloves. On my first grab, it was interesting to discover my right hand was reluctant to roll anything. It was sorely sore from squeezing the hand-held faucet. Still, I did my best with the sticky stuff. Out of 500 meatballs needed, jumping in at the last minute, I probably rolled somewhere around 50.

During the course of the morning and early afternoon, Lynetta changed her meal plan three times while we were prepping. Due to a lack of peppers, Pepper Steak turned into Steak ala Cass, which is actually pepper steak minus peppers, plus onions and mushrooms. Ten trays of garlic bread were prepped for the oven. For the most part, those who come for Cass meals, don’t eat vegetables if they’re presented as a side. Miss Lonetta devised a way to sneak them in. Meatballs were beefed up with carrots, broccoli, and onion, and stretched with crumbs, eggs and cheese. At the last minute, we learned a vegetarian entry would also be needed. We reviewed ingredients available, put our thinking caps on, and came up with a very improvised veggie stir-fry.

I’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: each person’s mission experience will differ. I can’t say this is an accurate reflection for anyone else but me, but, the 30-second do-this dishwashing brief, the here’s-two-bowls-go-sit-outside directive, and the frantic search for parchment were unnerving in a successful, hyped-up sort of way. There is something to be said for being available and able to fumble around, change directions, and do whatever has to be done. It brings a little self-pride, a little coping confirmation, and an absolutely miniscule idea of what may be expected next time.

My unofficial three-part summary of Cass Kitchen philosophy:

Be aware of your surroundings.

You can find whatever is needed, if you look.

If you can’t find it, improvise.

Quote for the week:

Cass Community Social Services: http://casscommunity3.wordpress.com/

Philippians 2:4: Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens.

John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Out-do one another in showing honor.

Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Colossians 3:12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

The Hot Dog War

I don’t love hot dogs. I don’t hate them, either. A few times a year, I actually get a craving for one, although I honestly believe that craving is more attached to sauerkraut, mustard and a good ball game.

Let me tell you this: If I came to your house and you served me a hot dog, I would eat it knowing it won’t have the same life-changing impact on me as a young woman I know.

Let me explain: The biggest impression a hot dog ever left on me was after Hurricane Katrina. On mission trip 4 or 5, working on a roof, we learned our homeowner’s pantry factually consisted of two ingredients: eggs and rice. So, our team leader called and asked for a few more sack lunches to be made and brought out, and delivered them with the invitation to join the crew for lunch.

To thank us, the very next day, these people with nothing but rice and eggs spent whatever small amount they had to purchase and serve the entire team hot dogs. There was a declared vegetarian in our group, and to my astonishment I heard she ate a hot dog. She could have easily said, “No thank you.” No one asked her to change her beliefs for those 5 minutes, but for this young woman, the immensity of the gift outweighed her objection.

Let me point out: This was her choice – I am not advocating for or against. I wouldn’t expect anyone else to do the same, and I do not know how or if her convictions remained or changed. I do know that disrupting an annual well-attended, televised hot dog eating contest isn’t doing anything to support a cause or solve the world’s problems.

Let me ask you this: When was the last time you saw carnivorous humans gather intent on disrupting an animal rights meeting with meat pelting, sausage face-slapping, hot-dog slinging, chicken chucking, egg bombing or storm a vegetarian restaurant blood-splashing, ruining clothes and chairs and livelihoods and profits and whatever else may be with complete disregard?

I Googled it – many different ways. Couldn’t find anything close.

Let me be clear: My objections are not aimed at or around the hot dog industry or animal rights activists. They’re aimed at the outdated media-created notion that any type of publicity is good publicity, and the truth that purposefully hateful and idiotic behavior isn’t going to drive me toward your idealism.

Whoever you are – whatever your point – stop wilding, causing confrontation and property damage in the name of conversion.  You’re just being bullies.

Yep, some of those who cry loudest demanding “respect” for whatever point of view they hold and complain about being bullied for their beliefs see no hypocrisy in attempting to bully others out of theirs.

Want to make a difference in this world? Stop being ridiculous.

Share intelligent information, intelligently.

Patiently, kindly, explain your educated point of view

Be passionately professional, calm and rational.

Remember no one’s perfect; we’re all works in progress.

Love your fellow humans without reserve and forgive them their trespasses.

Maybe then….

Quote for the Week:

2015 07 28 How to Change the World jakorte

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

The event: https://www.facebook.com/NowThisNews/videos/859950344095091/

Duh: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/study-hot-dogs-bacon-pose-big-health-risk/

Study this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belief

Grafted (3 Chicks with Sticks)

We double tooled and took a short trek to Chapel Street.

The explanation and demonstration made sense. Using the tools on-hand made sense.

I like sense. I like adaptation, too.

Teams spread down the sidewalks searching for X marks and O marks, and root-bagged trees that weren’t rejectedly rolled into the street.

There we were; three chicks with sticks staring at an off-center X over a shallow-welled median with a spade and a square, a spade and a rake, a spade and a pick-ax, a tree and a plan.

Fresh from a mini tutorial, feeling feisty, we set about it.

We measured and consulted, measured some more, got a rhythm going.

After a while, there two piles of dirt, a pile of skimmed grass, and a hole.

The hole wasn’t exactly round. We fixed that.

The hole was a little too deep. We fixed that.

The ball was a little too heavy for advised two rollers, so we used three to get it going and in.

We eyeball straightened our charge (assumed a tulip tree by the botanical tag “tulipifera”) from three directions.

Lacking a knife to break the binds, we waited, short-shoveling handfuls of soft soil in and around to perfect stance while assuring our homeowner we were enjoying ourselves, and it wasn’t as hard as it seemed.

Root bag ripped, unrecyclables corralled, wires de-bent, we ran into a problem. Everything was fine, until exposure. Then, suddenly, it might be all wrong, or it might still be right.

Lopsided, rooted more heavily on one side than the other, not knowing which three-fingers-below measure was true.

There were two knuckles; one previously hidden in burlap garb, angled slight degrees from the one we had been focused on.

Stem straight, angled roots uneven in a way that wouldn’t promote stability. Rocking the sapling in favor of rooting, the stem was oddly askew.

That’s when we learned something new. The tree and the root were established together post graft. Combining the best of both, strong roots, tall tree, for immediate success and future longevity.

Consultants called. Though our true root was a slight inch higher than preferred, no retraction was required. Adaptation meant lightly packed stability soil up a little higher, and cautiously tamping air-pocket caverns where water could possibly pool and encourage rot.

We raised our berm a little higher, for better protection, and watered away from the roots. When we were finished, it passed muster, earning a blue sleeve of advertorial protection.

And that was it; about three hours later, including stand-up breakfast pastries and coffee, finding the right Zone assignment, name tags, gift bags, tool toting, street scouring, instruction, demonstration and the command to go to it. We’d done what we’d set out to do, added our imprint as one group of three in a group of One Brick Volunteers planting one tree among 120 goaled.

My best guess is that it took nearly 200 people from many different community groups, instructors teaching, volunteers planting, and forestry-minded reviewing to reach that goal.

While that might seem impressive, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the 500,000 trees lost during a three decade Dutch Elm blight from 1950-1980.

Since 1989, The Greening of Detroit has orchestrated placement and replacement of 85,000 trees. Mathematically, that’s still a significant environmental shortage.

There are still at least dozen upcoming The Greening of Detroit events, and there’s room for you, too.

It all adds up. Make a difference in Detroit.

Quote for the Week:

It doesn’t have to be one or the other  04 14 2015

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links: 

The Greening of Detroit: http://www.greeningofdetroit.com/get-involved/volunteer/

Urban Forests: https://www.americanforests.org/conservation-programs/urban-forests/

Top 22 benefits of trees: https://www.treepeople.org/resources/tree-benefits

On Twitter:

#OneBrickDetroit    @GreeningDetroit    #SocialForestry

Goodly Abandon

For the greater good, I’m going to abandon the condo crises (plural) for a few days.

Mostly because I can do nothing about being stuck; partly because I’ve been told I’m starting to look like Grumpy Cat. Grumpy Cat has been internetly credited with obviously unreal verbalization of issues scarily close to my heart. While I find her amusing, and adorable in a weird way, I certainly don’t want to be permanently associated with an unusually high level of grump. Even though, admittedly, my recent level of grump has been unusually high.

It’s easy to ask, over and over, “Why Me?” I’m not amused by the “God only gives you what you can handle” rote. I think there’s been a whole lotta name confusion. I theorize my name has made it onto the “little tests” list one too many times. I supposed that’s what I get for changing my name so many times.

It’s easy to believe we have been abandoned; that we are alone. It’s infinitely easier to feel this way during a forceful holiday season. We abandon good sense. We over-spend; we over gift, we over please. Lineal, I cannot image Mary and Joseph not feeling abandoned. Why would God not have a room saved for them? Why didn’t someone last-minute cancel a reservation or change a plan to make way for a comfortable evening before an uncomfortable birth?

Perhaps our view of abandonment in context of negativity isn’t all there is to say. Moses was abandoned. Laid down in bull rushes, carried to greater care and cause; a life redeemed. Our view of abandonment as negativity isn’t all there is to say. Holding on is only a precursor to letting go, somewhere between Moses’ “Let My People Go” and that song that even those of us who have not seen the movie cannot ignore.

My Let-it-Go list will never see paper. I’ve heard its cathartic, but I can’t go there. I should have let some things go a long time ago.

I enjoy art as a consumer and creator, despite the fact that 15 years of creating and tweaking the same design, has given the same result year-after-year. Steadily unsuccessful at craft shows, I thought my luck would change if I wasn’t standing there like a nervous ninny hoping to make enough to cover the cost of the table. I thought I’d lucked out when there was interest and a generous offer to set them alongside other creations. It was disappointing that only 3 out of 51 sold, and that the plain, brown-paper hatbox I meant to decorate more than a decade ago remains crammed full of unchosen pieces.

There’s a put-off that’s been stress-listed for months; falling lower and lower, not even warranting a check box after so long. Weighing every little task against sleep, I’ve abandoned hope, and so much more. December’s Art Abandonment theme popped up in my feed three weeks ago and made me smile.  Noted and forgotten.

It passed by again today. Starry, Starry Night re-played, conjuring Don McLean, VanGogh, and painful artistic poignancy. It’s not unusual to love the things we create. The disappointment begins when these things do not love us back.

It’s important to pay attention when a blank mind begins to buzz, repeating until understood, waiting for that click of a moment, turning into “I know it’s in there… exactly what is needed.”

Today is my first day of goodly abandonment – a simple thing that could make a spirit bright.

They say timing is everything. I certainly hope so.

 

Quote for the Week:

It’s not unusual to love the things we create 12 23 2014

Enjoy This Week’s Discovery Links:

Positive Abandonment: http://michaeldemeng.typepad.com/art_abandonment/

Where to Find Good Stuff: http://www.artfaircalendar.com/

Let It Go: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moSFlvxnbgk

 

 

 

Dear YouTube

Thanks to you, YouTube, the renovation of one tiny bathroom seemed like a workable solo project. A few simple prep steps, and I’d be on my way to easily saving three hundred dollars off a last-minute quote that came in at half the near $6,000 price of two others. Thanks to you, I could have what I wanted within a 10 x 10 space and within my budget. I got glittery-eyed when I realized I would not have to decide which elements of condo repair to put-off indefinitely. I bought in.

It’s not like I was going in with my eyes closed. Demolition in an unsafe environments, covered in Tyvek suiting, a construction helmet, steel-toe boots, long pants, safety goggles and working in 100 degree temperatures with 100 percent humidity had me envisioning November’s delightful little cool, easing into Michigan winter as a blessing. No sweat required, and even if I happened to break one, it wouldn’t come close to the New Orleans soakings post Katrina.

Thanks to you, YouTube, I gathered enough I-can-do-this confidence to tackle removing 1978 tackiness. Thanks to you, I knew I had to know what was underneath it all. Obviously water-soaked cabinet bottoms, the view from the basement up, cracked tiles and chips in the steel tub forewarned of scary issues that were better known than un. Scenes from The Money Pit and Mouse Hunt had me terrified of stepping into a fall scene.

Fears rallied commitment; commitment rallied knowledge. Knowledge decided YouTube would be the way to go. Numerous DIY tile removal blips demonstrated quick tap-taps scoring and popping off tiles in rapid succession, no special tools required. Any old putty knife and mallet would do. Did I mention with ease? Because, truly, YouTube, your guides were perfect and thorough, promising ease of removement as if life were a PG rated Disney movie, and wearing a ball gown would only aid my efforts.

Less than a dozen tiles in, my YouTube visions crumbled, unlike my walls. There was no firm tapping to score grout. Full blown arm and hammer swings sent miniscule shards flying, caused flint-arcs, smoke puffs and concern. Somewhere around a dozen and half down and three hours later, the putty knife gave up. The handle withdrew, but a major piece of flimsy metal remained lodged behind another stubborn tile, leaving the tool with some wicked curved edges and sharp points I theorized would make the goings easier.

My dear YouTube, the recommended rubber mallet scuffed up the neon turquoise walls a bit when I tried to come in at a closer angle, or when I full-out missed the shortened putty knife. I rarely missed, though. I mean, before the mallet head bonked me in my head and the handle flew past me in trajectory. It was a rather old mallet. I’m estimating its demise at 40 years or so.

After four hours, according to YouTube time, I should have been much further along, and not nearly tool-less. Resolute in non-deterance, YouTube savvy once again, proved not every demonstration employed a rubber mallet, and that the removal of tile is truly a cinch. My ancient ball-peen and I continued pounding brittle, yet indestructible, porcelain. Imagining life without the use of the top two digits holding the smooshed plastic putty knife handle I’d been less-surface-area-with-which-to-hit-the-target miss/whacking out of sheer won’t-quit stubbornness called an end to evening one.

Quote for the Week:

The smallest thing can be our biggest challenge

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

Every Tile Was Like The First: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ML3wo4vYPI

Comedic-born Fear: https://www.google.com/search?q=gif+from+money+pit&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS483US483&espv=2&biw=1600&bih=775&tbm=isch&imgil=25O7Wt8LxHp6uM%253A%253BRqHT1-5NDap3kM%253Bhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.tumblr.com%25252Fsearch%25252Fthe%2525252Bmoney%2525252Bpit&source=iu&pf=m&fir=25O7Wt8LxHp6uM%253A%252CRqHT1-5NDap3kM%252C_&usg=__WFryHpZnZPiOcOR9JiSFL3xzUF4%3D&ved=0CDEQyjc&ei=Vc2QVPrHE9LZsATfvoGIBQ#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=rRk-Xf0S3tOxhM%253A%3BRqHT1-5NDap3kM%3Bhttps%253A%252F%252F38.media.tumblr.com%252Ftumblr_lp5puciWMi1qze9ylo1_500.gif%3Bhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.tumblr.com%252Fsearch%252Fthe%252Bmoney%252Bpit%3B500%3B256