Thursday, March 18, 2010

Small Differences

Good morning.

It is the day after March 17. Yesterday the kids and I went shopping for our St. Patrick dinner. We finally located corned beef, though there were all much smaller than what we were used to buying. We didn't find buttermilk so we had to pass on making soda bread. Tried to find pistachio ice cream, had to settle for minty chocolately frozen dessert (like ice cream, but with plenty of non-ice-cream type ingredients.) Tried to find new potatoes, had to settle for white boiling potatoes. Tried to find turnips, but decided to pass on the rutabagas. We did see some nice looking artichokes that I think we'll pick up for Saturday's delayed St. Joseph meal. All in all, the meal was good, with no leftovers.

We have lived in enough places to realize that small differences are quite common. Since I shopped at the same Kroger in Houston for over 5 years, my eyes had grown used to what I could purchase there. Naturally, in Peru, we knew it would be different. However, moving to London I am still taken by surprise when we can't find something we were used to in the States. I'm still going to look for buttermilk. It could simply be that the small grocer chain I habitually go to simply isn't large enough to stock it.

This morning Tom and I went to mass at St. Peter's downtown, then walked quite a while trying to find a restaurant for breakfast. Apparently bars are far more numerous than restaurants. I got my exercise in for the day, lol.

Our days have been so deliciously warm we aren't certain that our trip to the sugar bush will be in time to enjoy watching the maple sap being harvested and boiled into syrup.

In the meantime, I hope you are enjoying spring time weather, receiving grace from your Lenten practices and direction in your life.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Back in December, while our two college daughters were visiting over their break, we decided to make homemade ravioli. This is a tradition from my husband's family. They get together late summer or early fall and hold a huge ravioli making party. One year we were in Colorado and got to join in. Another time when Cathy visiting Houston she treated our girls and son to a private lesson. Tom's mom makes certain we get some frozen ravioli to enjoy with our Christmas dinner.

This year, without any frozen ravioli to pull out of the freezer, we decided to tackle the job on our own. The whole process is one of repetition, and lots of flour. I remember Meghan commenting that she remembered a lot of flour when Cathy taught them, but until we got the project underway we didn't realize how much flour was involved! We had a whole lot of fun, learning as we went along. Kate played photographer while we rolled dough, spread it on the mold, impressed it, filled, sealed and pulled them off, only to begin again. When we finished we thought we had made too many. Turned out, it was just the right amount. Our first effort was delicious, and helped to make our Christmas Eve meal one to remember.

The recipe? Sorta like the one Cathy gave me for her famous beans! It involves developing a "feel" for what is the right amount, if you have the ingredients, amounts depend on the cook, within basic parameters. The really big items that helped was a nice pasta machine we bought at a garage sale a long time ago for only $5, a ravioli "kit", an old cookbook "Our Favorite Italian Recipes" that Cathy gave to me as a young bride, and some scribbled notes our oldest daughter, Elizabeth, made while learning to make ravioli with Cathy. Could be that it tasted great because of all the wonderful memories it invited into our conversation!

I've been a Rinaldi for over 32 years now, and I finally made my first batch of ravioli. It won't be my last, and though I'm only Italian by marriage, like Cathy, I hope this becomes another tradition to pass on to our future grandchildren.

The Things You Learn

Sometimes what we think sounds true simply isn't. Such is the case way back when I repeated information concerning stickers on produce. The idea was that the numbers help discern whether items are grown commercially, grown following the organic code, or if grown from genetically modified seed. Alas, it isn't true. If you'd like more information:

In many ways I get caught up in what perhaps is best called secular gnosticism. I enjoy having the satisfaction that I know the inside scoop, live it, and hence am protected. This can be with good things, like choosing to exclusively nurse our children as infants, all the way to actively not using the cfl bulbs. Over time, though, I have also come to realize that it doesn't matter whether I do the "right thing", make the "wise choice" if I haven't become a more humble person.

Pride is my deadly sin. It sneaks up on me, sideswiping me before I realize it has reared up. This Lent I am seeking a humble spirit. Oh, but when those opportunities come how they can sting my sensitive ego.

If you've followed my posts, you know that I was part of creating a beautiful quilted banner for our parish's Advent decorations for the sanctuary. It was nice to hear positive feedback anonymously. Last night, I visited with a group of women from my parish to present information about ENDOW ( - if you are interested). One of the women said, "Oh, you were one of the women who made our Advent banner." Truth. My ego was really wanting to proclaim how much of a role I actually did play, but I refrained. It jarred me deeply, when I realized I really wasn't content being anonymous. My pride wants to shout out how much "I" contributed, how much work "I" did for the project.

This is good to happen during Lent. A humble spirit is not a natural part of who I am. I was raised to be proud of my accomplishments. I was raised to compete. I was raised to seek recognition. Those are the old ways. Learning new ways, a humble spirit that is rooted in true anonymity, a true spirit of service comes in fits and starts. Last night jarred me out of my assumed humbleness and laid bare my own struggles.

Look for the next quilted creation.. and yes, I design them. But, in all practicality, it isn't simply my work. Without the help from several other women and our quilter (a man) it wouldn't become reality. When it is finished, I'll share. In the meantime, your prayers that I really can learn and become humble would be appreciated.