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.

That Looks Easy….

Jeff’s penchant for home improvement shows came in handy, sort of.

If you watch enough of them, you’ll absorb some basic knowledge. Most of that will need to be supplemented by online videos, step-by-step instructions or just jumping into the deep end to see how it goes.

Basic knowledge was enough to get me through numerous post Hurricane Katrina rebuilding missions with a construction based Michigan team, and various issues at home alone, later.

If Jeff was still here, he’d be telling humorous stories about some of our least successful attempts at home repair and renovation. We’d always start out thinking, “That looks easy enough.” We’d always end up bickering, and then, laughing at our bickering.

In mid-September, we finished an attempt to ‘easily’ replace the gate at the top of the back deck stairs. We needed one that  our dog, Sadie, wouldn’t be able to plow through, wiggle through or accidentally (or maybe not so accidentally) open. She’d managed to escape a few times, in all those ways.

The installation, actually, went pretty well. We had it done in a little under an hour, and tested our work. That’s when we realized we’d installed it to open the wrong way, by setting it in place upside-down.

“I thought that seemed a little harder than normal,” Jeff commented. Also, more difficult than ‘normal,’ the hardware wasn’t easily removed. Parts of screws broke off or were stripped, nuts fell between the cracks and tumbled down our long flight of stairs.

A lot of banging, two trips to the hardware store and four hours later, we were finished. To celebrate, Jeff suggested we fire up our newly repaired grill and cook-out.

The grill had been another frustrating fiasco. A 15-minute fix turned into two-hours of gentle Jeff cussing while installing a new lighter thingy.

I was inside cutting tomatoes and onions and gathering impromptu picnic supplies, when I heard Jeff shout.

“What the?”

“WHAT the?”

“Hey!”

“HEY!”

“Come here, YOU!”

As I ran to the slider, his voice volume was over-excitedly escalating.

“HEY!”

“Ouch!”

“Come HERE!”

“OUCH!”

Stupefied, I watched him pull and throw chucks of sizzling beef over the 5-foot drop at the back of our deck.

“Jeff!” Alarmingly concerned about his mental state, I slammed the screen door open. Suspecting he was having some sort of serious negative medication reaction, I blurted out, “I’m right here! What are you doing?”

Startled, he turned quickly, giving me a incredulous look, like I was the weirdo in this situation.

His stop-arm reaction time was a bit slower than his body turning time. Set in motion for an airborne release, he lobbed a glob of barely cooked ground in my direction.

I watched it wobble in a somewhat graceful arc, my mental slow-mo calculating: no – that’s not gonna happen.

It happened. Direct hit to my face.

Quote for the Week:2019 03 19 Nothing is ever fool proof jakorte

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

half-truths, whole lies, and the doubts that remain.

Reprise: The clinic visit biopsy result was clear.

Warning: You may not like what I have to say.

The container I discovered had a September expiry date. The package at the gas station,  also had a September expiration date; just a handful of days later.

The chew wasn’t old and I wasn’t angry. I was astonished and livid. I went directly to the den where the tv was blaring. Jeff was sleeping, so I startled him awake by shouting his name. “What! What?” he came awake, swiveling his head in a panic.

“Here’s what!” I slapped my evidence into Jeff’s hand. “The expiration date.” I clipped. Not completely awake, Jeff stared at me.

“Within a week of Speedway.” I continued. Jeff continued to look puzzled.

“I took it to Speedway, Jeff! It’s NOT old!”

Shaking his head from side to side, he rolled his eyes, and very rhetorically and quite dejectedly, asked, “Why’d ya have to do that?”

My reply was a throw-back, “Why’d you have to?”.

“Don’t do it again, Jeff,” I warned him. I didn’t specifically define which one he shouldn’t do – lie or chew. I assumed he knew it was both.

I have a weird sort of smile on my face as I look back at this one. My warnings were weightless, useless, and void of consequence. If he did it again, it wouldn’t result in any drastic action. I wouldn’t stop loving him. I’d never leave him. It happened. Again, and again. I’d be angry and he’d be sad. He’d be sorry. I’d be forgiving. That’s how it went. Every time.

The thing is… I can’t just leave it on that loving note. That’s not how the story ends for me.

It was a mission trip discussion that clued me in. I have no proof. I’m the only eye-witness. Everything I know, leads to an unpleasant theory.

One of the ladies I evening coffee’d with began a conversation about smoking that revolved around a male member of our team. I mentioned how I’d bugged Jeff to quit smoking way before I think he was really ready to. I shared that the next step for him, in order to avoid smelling like smoke, was a clandestine move to chewing tobacco.

I reiterated the mouth cancer biopsy story and how that’d turned out. Then, went on to share that he never did quit and that it became a sore spot between us. One of my friends asked, “Even after the doctor said it was benign? He didn’t quit?”

“Nope.” I said. “He just couldn’t do it.” I don’t think that he didn’t try. I think he truly did. It just took me a few years to recognize it for what it was; an unbreakable addiction.

Hours later, I thought about the word ‘benign,’ and the fact that I’d never heard it.

1.     Jeff went to the desk, he said, “To ask a question.” I assumed it was about the wait.

2.     He insisted on going without me. “You stay here.”

4.     Body language: as far across the room as he could get from us, arms crossed, looking at his feet, lips pursed, seemingly annoyed. 

5.     The doctor, curtly reporting, “The results were clear.”

6.      He never told us in what way, or which manner, they were ‘clear.’

6.     Those few words used did not include: cancerous, non-cancerous nor benign.

7.     The abrupt end to our meeting. One sentence, and we were dismissed.

8.     I hear the attending’s voice in my head in a different tone, now. A warningly sarcastic parting shot. “Good luck to you, Sir.”

Two years after Jeff passed, on a bunk bed in Slidell, Louisiana, I put two and two together and came up woefully short. I no longer believe we dodged a bullet.

I wonder if Jeff told the clerk that he didn’t want the doctor to say it in front of me if he did have cancer. I wonder if he maybe said, “I don’t want my wife to know the results.” I wonder if he already knew the results before we even got there. I wonder about the doctor visits he went to with his father. I wonder if he confided in anyone. I wonder if it didn’t matter anyway; if he was already too ill for treatment, or if it was just too late.

If it wasn’t for 8 years of tobacco half-truths, little lies and bigger lies, I wouldn’t wonder.

 

Quote for the Week:   (ps. yes, that’s a real onion. made a pot roast.)2019 02 26 You don't know what you dont know jakorte

 

 

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