Monday, March 28, 2005

Blueberry Crunch

I made this dessert for our Easter Sunday Supper time last night. The folks loved it and it was very easy to make. I am including in this recipe a brief history of the homemaker's organization cookbook where this recipe was found.

Blueberry Crunch
from Pamela Williams, Ninnekah (Oklahoma) Home Demonstration Club. This club was organized in 1929 by Home Demonstration Agent Nettie Coryell. The members initially met in homes until later when Mrs. A.L. Wright gave the club 2 acres for a club house. Members went early and stayed all day canning vegetables and meats, quilting, cording wool, making hominy, etc.

Their main project over the decades has been to raise funds for maintenance of the local cemetary. The group also sponsors two scholarships, a Thanksgiving Dinner, and a community Rabies Clinic. They serve food and sponsor awards for the 4H Achievement banqet, the local FFA/4H livestock show and donate and serve the new Ninnekah Senior Citizens Center. This group has won the Gold Award for outstanding Community participation every year since its inception and they received the 50-year Certificate of Merit at the 1999 state meeting.

The proceeds from their award winning cookbook, where this recipe originates, helped enable them to donate $100,000 to the Fairgrounds restoration.

Cake Ingredients:
2 sticks of butter
2 cups of flour
1 cup of chopped pecans
Optional: 2 egg whites (or Egg Beaters)

Melt butter in sauce pan. Mix in flour and nuts. Spead in a 9x13" pan. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes until brown. Let cool.

[Optional: Spead egg whites onto mixture (use a basting brush) to help keep the crust together after it cooks.]

Filling ingredients:
1 - 8oz package of cream cheese
1 large carton of Cool Whip
1 box of powdered (confectioners) sugar
2 cans of blueberry pie filling

Thoroughly mix cream cheese, Cool Whip, and sugar. Spread on cooled crust. Top with pie filling. Will serve 10 to 14 guests.

Holy Week is Over


Okay, now don't get all pious on me.. I love Holy Week especially Maundy Thursday and Easter Sunday. This year we added Meditations on Holy Saturday and it was wonderful. Our new interim pastor is a Zen Buddhist and he led a wonderful time of meditation that I hope in incorporate into my daily prayer time. And, Easter Sunday was a wonderful service. The Preaching was great, the music was inspiring and the Sunday Supper (our meal time after worship) was extra-friendly and warm. I thoroughly enjoyed this season.

And I am glad it's over too. I haven't been this busy in years- working long hours and sleeping less. I've been to the gym only twice in two weeks- and my apartment hasn't been tidied up for well over a week now. Today, as I am catching up with old emails, weblog entries, and correspondance, I hope to get caught up with many things I've left undone.

I hope your Holy Week was as fab as mine- and, for all the ministers reading my blog, I hope you take a nice vacation too. We all deserve one!

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Interesting Books

I've finished reading two great books: Magical Thinking, by Augusten Burroughs and, The Mole People, by Jennifer Toth.

Magical Thinking is leg-slapping hilarious. I got some mighty strange looks as I was laughing loudly on the subway. If you've been reading Burrough's trilogy of books (Running with Scissors and Dry: A Memoir), then you'll really enjoy Magical Thinking. The first two were funny but being biographical, they were also a bit disturbing, especially Running with Scissors. Laughing while reading that book was more of a nervous laughter because of the bizzare life experiences that shaped Burrough's early life. Dry was an honest portrayal of living life as an alchoholic and the how he's been working to stay dry.

Magical Thinking is altogether different. In this book, he recounts life as it is today- and he has story after story that are less about the dramatic craziness of his youth and more about how he looks at life today. Through his lens, life is both funny, bizarre, and yet, wonderfully surprising.

The Mole People was a different book altogether. In it, the author writes about her experiences as she was researching a story for a newspaper she was writing for. Realizing the material was much larger than what could fit in a newspaper, she compiled her experiences for a book. The Mole People is the true story of the communities that live in the abandoned subway and train tunnels beneath New York City. Often reaching 7-10 stories underground, Toth relates the lives of the homeless in a starking and honest way. Reading this book will give you more compassion for the homeless as well as feeding the imagination for those old Beauty and the Beast re-runs we saw on television in the early 90s.

Sermon Excerpt

On Thursday, March 24th, I preached a sermon entitled, "Not Just As I Say, but As I Do". Here is an excerpt:

In our New Testament reading in First Corinthians, Paul is talking with the church at Corinth. Bringing to their attention the divisions than began to creep into their practice of the faith, Paul was concerned that the early church wasn’t practicing their faith in a way that honored everyone. Being both practical and parental, Paul gives the early church a different perspective of the Last Supper in order to facilitate a greater sense of justice. How did he do this? Like any good southern or northern matriarch, he blames them and makes them feel guilty. He does so by interpreting Jesus’ Last Supper to mean something more than it probably meant to Jesus himself. Paul tells the early church,

"So, if anyone eats this bread or drinks this cup unworthily, that person is guilty of sinning against the body and the blood of the Lord. If you eat the bread and drink the cup unworthily, not honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself." (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)

He then says that those who are sick and who have died in the Corinthian church are those who have brought God’s judgment upon themselves because they took advantage of the spiritual implications of the communion meal. In other words, God killed them because they dishonored the Lord’s Supper.

later, I said...

Re-interpreting events to give them new meaning may often strip the original intent away. For instance, Communion was once a meal that Jesus shared with his disciples with great intimacy. For Jesus, he wanted his disciples to remember him, remember what he said, and to live the Good News. Did Jesus have in mind that his supper was a meal in which his disciples must first confess their sins before Jesus passed the bread and cup? Probably not—and yet, ironically as it may sound, the meal that the church today has reinterpreted may indeed have great spiritual blessings—yes blessings developed by the church can still be rich and rewarding too.

To read the sermon in its entirely, go to

New Email Program

You've read that I have switched my default web browser to Mozilla's Firefox. Well, I also switched last week to Mozilla's Thunderbird. It is a great email client that offers more flexibility as compared to Outlook Express. I still use Outlook at work along with Microsoft Office where I need the combined programs of Microsoft Office.

At home, however, Thunderbird works great! And, this is really cool- you can block java script from automatically loading when you accidently open an email that might contain a trojan virus. This is the reason I got it- I was getting trojans through my email on a weekly basis (I have a bajillion emails a week, it seems). Thunderbird disables java and to enable it, you have to turn it on for each email! Go here if you're curious about the program- it'll explain what it does a lot better than I can.

A Hectic Holy Week

Sorry for the absence of posts this week- with Holy Week here, I've been swamped. The last thing I've wanted to do after coming home from work was to get online and put up a post. Heck, I've been coming home and going right to sleep.

On Thursday, my church along with the Evangelical Church of the Advent, observed Maundy Thursday by offering both communion and a Lavation service. There were 5 ministers involved and I preached the service. This service was the first one that I designed by myself to include all the other ministers as well as preaching the service. During the service we offered communion and instead of having a footwashing service, we adapted a handwashing service. Inviting the entire congregation to come forward (like we do with the communion), I held a large ceramic bowl for the participants to dip their hands in and the other ministers dried the hands while offering a personal blessing/commissioning to each person.

Last night both congregations observed Good Friday by reading the Passion narrative and including a Tenebrae service. Today there are meditations (I am going to the 4:30pm service) and then later, we'll have the Holy Saturday Service. And tomorrow is Easter. Yayy!

In the midst of all this, I upgraded the church's website to have greater online space, extra email accounts, and greater bandwith transfer. Everything is done and now we're going to be able to put videos, audio sermons, and other such "big space" items on the site.

It's been a busy week and next week I'll see if I can play hooky a few days to recouperate. I do need to get the church newsletter out though- so I can't be gone too long. :) I'll write more on here later. I want to include a piece about the sermon I preached on Sunday.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Re-inventing Myself

Okay, so I shaved my mustache and goatee, got a haircut, and bought new glasses. TA-DAAA!! Actually I think its a mid-life crisis as I am dealing with the bifocals thing. But then again, I live in New York City and we are all about reinventing ourselves over and over again.

Friday, March 18, 2005

A Ranting Site

My Wordweb computer program defines a rant, when used as a noun, as "a loud bombastic declamation expressed with strong emotion." It also says that such declamations are "pompous or pretentious talk or writing."

When I was in seminary and later when I worked for McKinsey & Company, I and a few friends would gather after work and have rants accompanied with beer, cigars, and good food. I haven't actually enjoyed a rant of late because one of my fellow ranters is now a pastor up in Wisconsin, leaving this fine city of New York.

You can then imagine my surprise to find a blog this morning (it was emailed from a friend) about a liberal ranting about the evils of our conservative lawmakers and a whole host of other loud and bombastic tirades. I am going to read this site regularly both of content and its rant-value (which I'd give an 8- if you knew my ranting friends, you would understand my scale seeing how my friends are what I judge true rants to be and therefore are 10s). Give it a shot and visit the blog, Capitol Hill Blue. If you want something particular to read, check out this rant on the religious right. And, when you're done reading, you can locate on its website a, 'It happened on this day' feature, which is doubly cool.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Maundy Thursday

I know I should be concentrating on Palm Sunday, since I am preaching it and have yet to hammer out a sermon for it. However, my mind keeps pondering Maundy Thursday. In my faith tradition, we honor Holy Week by observing Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday. Each particular day has its own special observance and unique particulars.

Maundy Thursday is the day in which the church celebrates Jesus gathering his disciples for the Last Supper. Also, many services add other elements of the service to make it more special. In our service, we will have a modernized foot washing, a communion meal, and a stripping of the altar at the end of the service.

Our modernized foot washing will actually be a "hand washing" where the pastors will kneal with a ceramic bowl and a towel draped over our arms. The participants will sit and we'll wash their hands (as opposed to their feet, since most people where socks and shoes- and since most people end up touching all sorts of dirty things like subway handles, park benches, wiping the snot from their kids' noses, etc.).

So, in addition to these activities, I am also preaching. I know I'll need to keep the sermon short, I have found myself thinking about what Jesus must have thought knowing he was about to die. It calls to my mind what a person with a terminal illness might hear from his or her doctor when given the news, "Jack, I am sorry to say this but you have a terribly advancing cancer. I can't do anything for you. You need to go home and 'get your house in order.'" What would a person be thinking given this sudden sad news? What would be the first things s/he would do? Would he first talk with those he loved? Would he make sure his will was up to date? Would he set priorities?

Jesus seemed to know what he needed to do. While he may not have had too many possessions to worry about, he did gather his disciples and friends for a special meal. He also instructed them how to behave. All in all, he spent time with those he loved.

As I think about life and death and what a person must feel as they approach such a scary and unknown time, it makes sense that Jesus would surround himself with those he loved- just as it makes sense that a person given a short time to live would do the same. Even Jesus needed the comfort and support of his friends as he faced death.

This is where I am going with the sermon- or at least, its what I am thinking I might say.

I supposed I oughta really focus on Sunday's Palm Sunday message, since that is just a few days a way. ;)

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

I found a hole...

it's a hole about 3 inches high and 3 inches wide- its an honest to goodness, mouse hole! I have only seen holes like this on cartoons shows. Do mice actually make these things? It was hidden behind some hard to get at pipes, which explains why it went unnoticed for so long. And, it explains where the odor is coming from.

I am now searching for steel wool to put in the hole (its supposed to keep the mice from gnawing on it and getting through the hole.

I was going nuts looking for that daaaaaaaang odor- there must be something behind the walls but was wafting through the hole.

Crazy, right? Anyways, I'll plug the hole today and let you know how it goes. :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Okay, fine.. FINE...

Kicking and screaming does absolutely no good.

I was so bummed out yesterday as I walked back from my optometrist. I went and bought new glasses because my old ones got sat on, were 4 years old, and things began to be blurry for some reason. The optometrist said that my perscription really hasn't changed that much and the reason things are getting blurry when I read is because my really bad astigmatism has brought the need for me to get bifocals a bit earlier than most.

Sensing my horror, the eye glasses shop recommended progressive bifocals. The are the kind that make it impossible to notice whether I have them or not. And, by the way, they are expensive as hell! But the salesperson assured me that whether or not I am get progressive or regular lined bifocals, its going to be costly.

After some haggling, I got the price down considerably but its still going to cost a lot of money. With the cool as heck designer frames ($249) + the bifocal lens ($200! and this is with the $60 discount) + the optomitrist visit ($50), the final cost came to $499. They didn't charge me for the UV coating, the anti-glare coating, and the scratch resistent coating. These additional costs would've been an extra $150.

These are the most expensive glasses I've ever purchased. So, not only am I falling apart, it's now COSTING me. Grrrrr...!

So I stopped off at a church member's apartment yesterday to glean some sympathy. My friend said, "Wait'll you have to purchase TRI-focals!" "Tri-focals?!," I said. "Gads, what the heck are those?" Suddenly I felt better although I think my friend sensed it and said, "You just wait, you." It was then that I realized that I am already falling apart and I am not even 40 yet. (Sigh)

Still Tracking the Odor

I still can't find it. The smell of that decaying mouse is not only driving me nuts but giving me a big ol' headache too! I've moved the appliances (again), went through all my shelves, took the food off, moved the pans.. everything, I can still NOT find where it is.

Sure, it's probably in the walls. But then, the smell is moving- moving as in a breeze wafts the odor here, and then there, and then over there.. and back again. I am thinking I need a friend to stop over and help me look. Perhaps I am just overlooking the dead and decaying carcus. (This is SO gross!)

Monday, March 14, 2005

Answered Prayer

Last night during our worship service, I was leading the pastoral prayer and the prayers of the people. When it came to lifting up the prayers of our congregation, I mentioned my court date tomorrow afternoon where I am representing the church in a slip-and-fall situation that occurred more than 2 years ago.

I prayed, "And Dear Lord, I pray for myself as I represent the church at Tuesday's deposition at the Court House. You know how I can talk Lord and you know how I can go on and on and on... And, you know that going on and on and on is not a good thing to happen in a deposition, please Lord, help me not to go on and on and on."

I had asked my secretary to confirm the meeting place and time for Tuesday and to call me first thing Monday morning with the details. She called this morning to say that their will be a delay in the procedings because the person bringing the suit has yet to complete all the necessary forms and paperwork. This same person didn't complete the forms the last time, when the court date was scheduled for December 23rd. It was then rescheduled for tomorrow. Now, Lord only knows how long it'll be.. THANK GOD!

God answers prayers for sure. Amen, Glory Halleluia, Come Lord Jesus. Amen. :)

Where's that funky odor?

I know exactly what that funky odor is, I've smelled it before. The last time, it was in my office stuck to a glue trap decomposing. Yes, I have a dead mouse in my kitchen and for the life of me, I cannot locate it. And it must've just died because DAAAAAAAAAAANG, the smell is just nasty.

So, I've moved everything in my kitchen, pulled out all my pans, move the appliances. Nothing. I've looked under my sink, in all my pots and pans, and in my cupboards. Nothing.
It must be in the walls. Living in NYC has its drawbacks and one of those drawbacks are the vermin. And, when you take into account that I live one block from the train yards, two blocks from the Department of Sanitation's furnaces, and three blocks from two big ol' parks, it isn't a wonder that I have vermin.

The thing is I hate vermin. Even more than sin, I hate vermin. My apartment is full of those stickum traps (I've checked them all, by the way, and no vermin is stuck on one). During the summer, I catch about 2-3 mice a week. Thank gawd I keep my apartment clean- I wish my neighbors were as neurotic about this as I am.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

A New Song and Dance

The folks over at have recommended a new animation that you're gonna love, and it's just as hilarious as something jibjab would have done. The gist of the animation is a petition to recommend that drug companies be more honest about the results of their clinical trials. There is even a petition to sign once the "song and dance" are over.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

It's all about the weather

Last week, it snowed 10 inches in 10 hours. Yesterday it was 60 degrees here in New York City. Two hours ago it was 50 degrees in New York City. Now, its 37 degrees. By the end of the day, the temperature is supposed to plummet to 5 degrees. The wind chill is being estimated in the negative double digits.

No wonder people say, "You New Yorkers are sick people!" Sure, non-New Yorkers are referring to our appreciation of art and human dignity, but we New Yorkers just nod our heads in agreement and say, "Dang right we are, if you lived here, you would be too."

And that is how we confuse folks, fuel their anger and self-righteous indignation, and generally piss them off. They think we're talking about our morals, and we're just talking about the weather.

21 days and still counting..

Can you believe it?! 21 days! I am amazed this time- not because I have done it but because its been easier than ever before... (knocking on wood, or in my case, partical board, my apartment is full of it). I am still chewing the Nicotine gum though, and will probably stick to it for a while. I am chewing less of it though, so I know my body is being weaned from the nicotine.

Well congratulate me already. Shhheeeesh. ;)

How many of us can relate to this?

"Speak when you are angry, and you'll make the best speech you'll ever regret."
- Laurence J. Peter (1919-1988)

This makes me wonder if, a) I oughta never respond in anger, or b) learn to have fewer regrets.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Good Cup of Coffee

Lately, I've noticed that while I usually make a pot of coffee, I've only been drinking one or two cups. Thereby wasting the rest of the coffee (I hate cold coffee). So, I decided to check out those pod coffee sytems. After doing some brief online research, I made my way over to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and purchased a Senseo coffee pod system that makes one cup of coffee at a time. Let me tell you, it makes one heck of a GREAT cup of coffee.


Thursday, March 03, 2005

Adolescent Development

This week something wonderful happened, the US Supreme Court banned executing those who committed murder as juveniles. I am becoming more and more of an anti-death penality advocate lately especially in instances where it just makes no sense (ie, executing retarded folks) or not challenging the reality that over 80% of death row inmates are people of color. Or understanding that once DNA evidence has been used, in some states 50% of death row inmates have been released after their DNA proved conclusively they were not involved in the crime they were sent to prison for in the first place. Did you know that when a person is excuted, all their trail records and trial evidence is destroyed? It makes me wonder how many people our State's have executed, not because they were guilty but because of their skin color. Our criminal system needs an overhaul- and all death penalty cases need to be put on hold until that happens.

Anyways, that's not the point on this blog entry.

At the end of January, a report was released explaining teenagers ability to make decisions is hampered by their physiological development. In part, the study said:

"Just as kids go through a growth spurt where they shoot up in height and fill out into more adult-like proportions, the brain has its own timetable, which varies among teens. Changes in the brain's frontal lobes, largely responsible for controlling impulses and measuring risk and reward, are among the most dramatic, according to brain scans performed on teens at the National Institutes of Health.

"It appears that reasoning and problem-solving skills are among the last abilities to mature in the brain," Rickert said.

The research may have implications for a wide range of social and health-related concerns, including why teens can't seem to get enough sleep and how parents can help them make decisions that protect their safety."


If a teenager's inability to determine and make responsible decisions are a part of his or her physical/mental maturing, then those who are in positions of power need to take this into consideration when laws are developed. Whether we are talking about sex education or interpreting laws to better handle our societal well-being, we need to keep into consideration what makes us tick. Doing so might help us not only live in a more compassionate society but also develop methods to help prevent those from making "ill-advised or improperly reasoned decisions" in the first place.

It's sort of like the admonition in our faith tradition that encourages us not to cause others to sin. Whether its Jesus' admonition that "its better that we get drowned in the depths of the sea" for doing it or the Lord's prayer when we ask God that we'll not be led into temptation, these instances remind us that life isn't just about staying free from sin but even understanding the human nature to the point where we try and prevent others from being tempted in the first place. Okay, so maybe this is a stretch, but you see what I mean, right?