Poon With Marshmallows

My sainted grandmother used to make a thing that was called sweet potato poon.

It had marshmallows. That’s all I remember about it. That and the year she was NOT DRUNK, NOT DRUNK I TELL YOU and left it under the broiler until the marshmallows caught on fire.

A few years ago, I went looking for a poon recipe. Couldn’t find one. Not online. Not in my Charleston cookbook. Not in my Oklahoma cookbook.

I chalked it up to family tradition, kind of like the Charleston Shorts cookies she made every year, for which there is no recipe on earth.

Wednesday, I was reflecting on my Thanksgiving menu, and out of the clear blue sky, it hit me—maybe she meant pone. I will chalk this inspiration up to Outlander and Charles Frazier. I searched sweet potato pone and bingo—1 million recipes.

I called cousin Lesley and yelled “She meant PONE!” and because we’re family, she knew exactly what I was talking about. Then we conference called all our parents who happen to be staying in one place this week. We had a good laugh about the little ol’ lady from Charleston

“What is pone?” Lesley asked. Good question, especially since the pictures I was looking at online did not look like the poon I remembered. The official definition is unleavened cornbread in the form of flat oval cakes or loaves, originally as prepared with water by North American Indians and cooked in hot ashes.

No mention of marshmallows. Huh.

Thirty seconds after we hung up with our parents, my mom called me back.

“You aunt just went in and turned on the Today show and GUESS WHAT AL ROKER IS MAKING????”

This.

Poon

I could hear my grandmother laughing at me all the way from heaven.

PS: My English/Irish/Hawaiian husband cannot hear this word without snickering, thanks to the 70s. Turns out neither could Twitter after Al Roker’s segment, which drove some folks to investigate further and yes, poon is a Southern variation of the word pone.

PPS: I made the poon. I damn near burned the marshmallows. Broilers are a tricky business and it had NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SPIKED EGGNOG.

100 Days

 

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Somehow in the mess of the world, I lost sight of the fact that IT’S OCTOBER.

And you know what that means??????

100 days of Holidays has officially begun!

We have red trees and orange trees and yellow trees and yes, that is SUPER early for us, but everyone is saying the 30 days of Smoke (which is quickly becoming another part of the Oregon social calendar) is to blame.

I’ll take it. The skies are blue and the clouds are fluffy and white and the smokey days of August seem so far away.

I am not coming at you with Halloween decor, or recipes for 10,000 things to do with an apple.

I’m going to start you off gently.

  1. It’s time to ask your kids what they want to be for Halloween. It is. I’m sorry.
  2. Go to this website and order the world’s greatest coffee: http://www.doorcountycoffee.com. I recommend Wisconsin Harvest and a BIG 5 LB BAG of Door County Christmas.

That’s it, friends. Two things. Ease into the crazy.

I’ll be back later with the stuff about the apples. In the meantime:

26 days til Halloween

48 days til Thanksgiving

81 days til Christmas.

 

Maybe Like Me

Maybe like me, you didn’t know that what happened to her, to you, to all your friends, was assault. Maybe you thought that a torn shirt or ripped jeans was not a crime. Maybe you knew someone who had been raped and told yourself “It wasn’t like that, so it must not have been anything.”

Maybe like me, you internalized the narrative that boys will be boys, and if you go where the boys and beers are, you know what you’re in for. Maybe you learned to stay away from the narrow spaces of clubs and bars where men seemed to stand and grab at every woman who walked by.  Maybe you gathered a tribe of sisters around you and pledged to keep each other safe. Maybe you told each other that it was the price to pay for a night out with drinks and dancing.

Maybe like me, you never wondered if the men had to do the same.

Maybe like me, one night you looked at your teammate broken on the beer soaked floor of the bar and decided you’d had enough. You socked the man who did that to her right in the eye. Maybe you felt great satisfaction for the two weeks he walked around campus with the black eye everyone knew you gave him.

Maybe it took you twenty years to realize that his black eye was poor payment for what he did to her.

Maybe like me, you still hate to walk into a bar alone. You hate it so much that even when your giant husband is with you, you make him go first so everyone in there knows you’re with him and that feels safer. Not safe. But safer.

Maybe like me, you haven’t counted the cost of being a young woman then. You didn’t realize how much you carried it with you until you heard people yelling “It was 35 years ago! You can’t hold that against him now!” and you knew that you have been holding it this whole time, the scar from that culture that patted drunk frat boys on the head and promised them the future.

Maybe like me, you’ve thought about that man you punched, and why you did it, and if you would have the courage to stand up and tell that story to the world if he was being considered for the highest court in the land.

And maybe like me, you’ve spent the last weeks really considering what Dr. Ford’s story means to her and to him–and to you–and how the world was then, and how it is now and what that should mean to her and to him–and to you–but the one thing you know for sure is that she isn’t lying.

Because like me, you saw it. You lived it. And that’s exactly how it happened.

 

 

Why I’m Staying In The Catholic Church

I learned that the clergy was full of liars in 1994.

We had a pedophile priest in our parish. His name was Ted Llanos and in 1994 he was accused of sexual abuse of a minor by a person connected to my family in such a way that we knew the accusations were true.

Two days later, I sat at a meeting in our parish hall, facilitated by Monsignor Timothy J. Dyer from the Los Angeles Archdiocese. When he was specifically asked the question “Has this happened before?” he said no.

My dad leaned over to my mom and said “He’s lying.”

It would be two years and dozens of victims coming forward from parish after parish before the lie could no longer be sustained.

Over the next ten years, the American Catholic Church instituted diocesan child protection plans that are too stupid to be believed. Background checks for the parent volunteers? Yes. Gnarly video with lay pedophiles who went to prison (making them different from their clergy brother pedophiles)? Yes again. Parents voicing their guilt and shame that their children were abused by priests? Trifecta.

Victim blaming because God forbid the church take the full and complete blame for any sin it has ever perpetrated in its 2000 year history.

In The Archdiocese of Portland, there have only been two incidents of alleged abuse since the institution of these programs. But that has everything to do with awareness and nothing to do with the clergy.

Now Pennsylvania proves to us that the clergy have not repented. The last 16 years have been a tap dance for the public. The church still keeps secret files. The church still pays lawyers to defend statutes of limitations. The church still lies—Vigano, I’m looking at you—to protect the priests over the children.

Enough already. And not like 16 years ago when all the words were right but the intentions were not. For reals this time. Real shame. Real accountability. Real penance. And until the clergy walk this road to Calvary of their own making, the rest of us HAVE TO STOP RECOGNBIZING THEIR AUTHORITY.

Yes, we need the man in the collar to make the Eucharist. It is his ordained spiritual gift. But we are all ordained through our sacramental vocations. He is different from a husband or a single man. But the idea that he is better is how we got here.

My pray-pay-obey sisters and brothers, listen up. You are a huge part of this problem. I know you live in the penance-punishment construct because you like to believe you are dirt on the bottom of God’s shoe, but here’s the thing: that’s NOT Gospel. And when you preach it and practice it—mostly against others, don’t think we haven’t noticed—your mental/emotional illness is showing. You have to cut it out because God really does loves you AND IT MAKES YOU COMPLICIT IN THE SEX ABUSE.

Yes, it does. Your sadistic Christianity requires an authoritarian regime and the wily and ambitious among the clergy were happy to volunteer. You gave them absolute power and we all know what Lord Acton said about that.

They are a brood of vipers but you are tending and defending their nest and that has got to stop. Same with Church Militant, FOCUS, Conservative Catholic America, EWTN and so on. They actively support clericalism and THEY ARE COMPLICIT AS WELL. Stop sending them money. Stop tuning in. Read your dang New Testament once in while in between sacrifice beads and daily fasting. Repeat after me: The children are more important than my addiction to feeling like a bad person all the time.

Here are the other things that need to happen:

  1. The church should work actively to reform the selection, formation and ordination of the clergy. The system is broke. Fix it already. Stop ordaining the mentally and emotionally ill.
  2. The church has to root out clericalism. Like, yesterday. Offer a stark choice: Accept your humanity with humility or turn in your collar.
  3. John Paul II—he knew. He called the accusers “enemies of the church”. He is complicit and should be stripped of his sainthood.
  4. Pope Benedict—he knew. He needs to say he knew and repent. He was the man in charge of investigating abuse cases and for the twenty years prior to his elevation as Pope, he opened not one investigation. He is complicit.
  5. OPEN THE FILES because the truth will set us free.

Which brings me to my point: Why do I stay?

The answer is simple: I have walked away from God and my faith, and that’s a fastpass to no good. I have been to other churches and while the people there are lovely, they are not my faith tribe.

The people kneeling next to me celebrating Eucharist are my faith tribe.

This is my beloved church. I will write, fight and pray.

But I will not cede it to the vipers.

Still Hopeful

A word from my mom, Terri: 

In February of 2017, 9 days after the inauguration, I wrote a guest blog for Full of Graces. It was entitled #Candles4hope.
In it I wrote that I was scared because the new administration seemed to be uninformed, clueless about the intent and beauty of the Constitution and unaware that we are only one great nation in this world and we needed to collaborate, not dictate to other nations.
I was worried about a seeming lack of truth, rudeness, making top appointments based on wealth, not experience and a disregard for a free press.
I stated that Light drives out darkness. Hope trumps hate. And asked you to join me in lighting a candle in your window until you are no longer afraid.
I kept that a candle in my living room window for more than a year, until we moved the furniture for a project we’re working on.
Today I remembered the candle when the national news told me that the midterm elections are only a few weeks away. My fears about this administration have not decreased–they are greater now than ever before. Things have not gotten better.
Our president is a liar–yes, we must start calling all who make their own truth what they are.
We are at odds with countries who have been our allies for 5 wars.
He is repealing laws that are helping to protect and repair our planet.
And he meets privately with heads of state of countries who condemn our principles without sharing the agreements or discussions with anyone.
He makes me afraid for my children and grandchildren who will have to contend with the results of this man’s egoistic attempts to be a dictator.
It would be easy to feel helpless. But I don’t.
I DO have a say in what happens and my say WILL make a difference.
1. I WILL vote
2. I WILL remind my friends and neighbors to vote.
3. I WILL sign up to help in any way possible to make sure that we have a huge turnout in this election.
4. I WILL put that candle back in my window.
Light drives out darkness. Hope trumps hate. Will you join me?

50 Years

Three years ago I wrote a post about an EPIC night shared by my parents and aunt and uncle on the occasion of their 1st and 5th wedding anniversaries.

It involved fishsticks and champagne and steep San Francisco streets and a poor dude who had the nerve to drive through an intersection when it was not his turn.

This year is my aunt’s and uncle’s 54th wedding anniversary. Two weeks ago, they were there for my parents’ 50th anniversary party. We had fishsticks and champagne. I understand why there was puking the first time.

Two days later, there was a party and everybody came. My dad asked my brothers and me to speak at the party, and we did. But before the party, I told my parents this:

The world knows how we feel about you. That will not be news to anyone in the room. 

But the ones who should talk are you. You’re the ones who made it. You know the secret for being married 50 years and still liking each other so much that you spent 7 weeks in a trailer the size of a laundry room and lived to tell. Explain that there was lots of champagne and there were also fishsticks. Probably more fishsticks than champagne on the day to day, if we’re being honest. Dispel the myth of the perfect marriage for everyone in that room.

I knew what I was asking: that they consider speaking with truth about their relationship on a day when it would have been so easy to sit at the head table and let the admiration wash over them like a wave.

But I also know my parents. They want to serve others, even at a party in their honor.

So they did it. They told the truth about being married 50 years. They did it with humor and grace, and they did it for the newlyweds in the room, and the couple with young kids who haven’t slept in years, and ones with three kids going 12 different directions who feel like ships passing in the night, and the empty nesters who are about to get to know each other all over again, and the almost retireds who are worried about how they will fill their time together, and the ones where “for better or worse, in sickness and in health” has become a challenging reality. They lived each of those seasons, and spoke about them with wisdom and faith.

They took a room full of married people and reminded us that our experiences are common, the good and the bad, and that we have each other to lean on. It was hopeful and life-giving.

It was so much better than a champagne toast in their honor.

(We did that too, though.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loaves and Love

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We paid off the new church.

We got a new pastor.

The newly paid off church almost burned up in a wildfire.

The new pastor had to be threatened to put down the garden hose and leave the church in the face of the wildfire.

For your personal edification, I asked my dad (He Who Used To Work For A Bishop) if there was any official protocol for evacuating a church in the event of a wildfire.

“Take Jesus and go.”

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Father Freddy is from Columbia and he has his English in such a way that he knows the words, but he sometimes says them in the order of the Spanish in his head. This is not the way we speak them. It is so much better.

Today the reading was about the loaves and the fishes, which is propitious because next week is VBS and it’s all about encountering Jesus and one of the focus stories is loaves and fishes. So when Father got up to preach, I snuggled down into the pew to listen.

It was beautiful. He talked about how the little boy in the scripture brought what he had, which was not much. He gave it willingly though and Jesus took it, blessed him and made it BIG. Five thousand people big—well, scripture says men, so if they had wives and kids with them, it was even bigger than that.

Jesus fed them all til they were full.

Father said if we could just be like that little boy, and bring our love to Jesus, he will make it big. Even if we don’t know how our little love could be enough. Jesus knows.

I was super on board with this. Yes. YES. Father is using metaphor. The loaves and fishes are a metaphor for the love we have for others. And if we bring that love to Jesus, he will bless us and make it BIG. Awesome. I am SO using that at VBS.

And then, a little voice inside my head wondered if maybe Father should have explained the metaphor better because you know, not everyone is a used-to-be English teacher.

I started thinking how I would make that connection for the kids at VBS, maybe a giant math equation with a loaf and a fish and an equal sign to a heart…

And then it hit me. He’s not saying love. The whole time, he’s not saying love.

He’s saying LOAF.

The English teaching in me went down screaming, because she doesn’t like to be wrong. The rest of me laughed all the way to Communion.

I mean, it still works. Bring your loaf, which by your very willingness to bring it, shows your love. Jesus will multiply it and use it to feed others. But for reals—the story has stood the test of time. It doesn’t need improvement.

Just better listening skills.

Welcome, Father Freddy. I promise to try harder.