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Archive for March, 2010

>Tomato Soup Cake

>This morning we had an unexpected visitor in Missoula – snow. What a relief, I was getting worried spring might actually appear!

Actually, it wasn’t bad, only a dusting. Really it was quite a lucky walk. Cool, very cool, and quite crisp. My delicious cup of coffee, complete with cream and always a treat, didn’t stay hot very long, since I had poured it into a tea cup rather than an actual travel mug. The clouds were yellow and pink with sunrise, and despite the below freezing temperature, reminded me that Easter was only a few days away.
The trees on the mountain, a deep blue green, stuck out against the white mountainside. The contrast reminded me of toile, which of course took me back to Williamsburg. The wild mountains of Montana made me feel slightly at home, as if I was walking in a different version of the manicured streets of colonial Virginia.
On a different note, this weekend we will be travelling to Hays, MT, a JV community on a reservation, about 9 hrs away for Easter. And thus, we will have to rent a car. Which costs a pretty penny. In order to save up some money for this, we decided not to buy groceries this week. We’ve suggested doing this before, for different reasons. One, to use up food that is in the pantry/freezer (we are pretty well stocked in those areas) and two, as sort of a fast since this week is Holy Week.
Unfortunately, we are out of some things, such as milk and eggs. There are thousands of vegans who can do without these two essentials, so I figured we could too. Earlier this week, I had been looking at a recipe for jam cake. I love jam cake. I haven’t had it in years, when a family friend would make it. (Mom, do you remember how much I liked Mae’s jam cake?) Unfortunately that called for 3 eggs. Right next to that recipe in my Joy of Cooking, I saw a recipe for “tomato soup cake.” It’s a spice cake that uses tomato soup instead of eggs and milk. (It did use butter). It really wasn’t bad. None of my roommates guessed that tomato soup, which was actually tomato paste plus water since we were out of tomato soup as well, was the secret ingredient. I think if I had put in cloves and raisins like it called for (out of those too) and remembered to put in the walnuts, you would have never been able to guess the difference.
I really want to make jam cake to take to Hays for Easter. I think I’ll be able to scrounge up a couple of eggs by then!

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>”One of those you have to laugh or you’ll cry times”. That’s how my area director in Spokane would describe some of the stories I would tell her about my job. And it’s one of the best ways to describe my days. Sometimes I go home to tell my roommates what I think is a funny a story from the day, and they respond, “aww, how sad.” But if you focus on what as sad, especially at a drop-in center like the Salcido, you’ll get too bogged down.

So here’s some of my more light-hearted moments:
The clients picked “Cats” (yes, as in the Broadway musical) to watch a few days ago. The next hour went like this:
“Who the hell put this in?”
“Not me. It’s stupid.”
“Oh yeah right. I bet you like it.”
“I don’t like it. He likes it. He’s the one that likes it.”
“NO! I don’t like it either.”
Yet they kept watching….
Or after I got engaged. Here are a few of the client reactions I logged (names changed, of course)
* Bill: “Aren’t you a little young to be working on your first ex-husband?”
* Adam: “Do you think I’m too old for you to marry me?
“Well Adam, I’m already taken.”
“That don’t mean nothin. If you marry me, after four years you can get my retirement.”
* Jessie: “Do you need a band to play at the wedding? My band will come play.”
* Jessie two minutes later: “Can I come to the wedding?”
* Seth: “Congratulations by the way.”
* Jake: “Congratulations! That’s great!”
* Kyle: “So when’s the funeral?”
* Jeff: “I’m mad at you. I was going to ask you. But I didn’t tell you how I felt cause I was on the streets, and now you done gone and met someone else!”
* Al: “Why don’t you guys just move all the chairs out of the way and have the wedding down here?”
Or the time I tried to help a client set up an e-mail account who was a little on the paranoid side. The computer kept “lying” to him every time the e-mail address he wanted was taking. And you know those squiggly words they make you type in? He kept resetting them because he didn’t “like” the word they gave him.
Or the time I was asking an intoxicated man to leave and he kept saying “No. You don’t even know my name” as his friend was saying “T.J. you need to leave!”
Usually you just have to laugh.

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>I honestly don’t know which is harder to wait for, spring or Christmas. Today, it is sunny, in the 50s, and beautiful outside. I am at work, in the basement, with a light that keeps shorting out. Lovely. Tomorrow – same forecast, tomorrow – I’m working. Monday and Tuesday – rain, and my days off! Alas.

Usually I’m not a fan of early spring. The weather is unpredictable and frustrating. But it has been beautiful in Missoula. The town is surrounded by mountains, and they give incredible reflections of the weather. Yesterday for instance, there were low clouds over the eastern mountains, sun shining on the northern ones, rain in the west. In the evening, the low sun will shine on the mountains, framed by dark clouds, and remind me that this is Montana. This wild, unpredictable, welcoming and intimidating place.
This week I’m working over the weekend so that next weekend our house can go to Hays for Easter. I forgot tomorrow was Palm Sunday, so I guess I will try to run over to mass after work. (I usually get done around 6:15-6:30, and mass starts at 6, but its only 2 blocks away). Palm Sunday is my favorite mass. And it usually means spring is inevitable.

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>Reality check

>So I have a fair amount of downtime at work, which involves a lot piddling around on the computer. Which…recently…has ended up on a lot of wedding websites. It seems like there is an endless number of things which I am supposed to decide between…what kind of shoes to wear (high heel, low heel, flat, peep toe, sandal, pump). How to do my hair (up, down, chignon, braided, curled).

But to be honest, it gets tough to care about having blue favors verses yellow favors when someone interrupts my idle day dreaming by telling me that they were beat up the night before. Or I have to call 911 because someone tried to kill their self. Or when I stop to realize that this will cost in a day more than I make in a year. Or many years of doing JVC.
Not to say I’m not having the typical wedding stress. But I do realize that at the end of the day, details are just details. Besides, most of it is taken care of: date, church, officiant, dress, bridesmaid dresses, photographer, florist. But no, we probably won’t have a color scheme or memorable centerpieces. We’re not going to try very hard to have “unique” invitations or the most unique cake topper. Its just not worth the effort.
But what I have learned that I want is friends, family, music (we do still need to take care of that one), and an an ice cold beer. And a husband. That’ll be nice.

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>WOOO!

>Health care reform passed in the House! This is great news for my clients who might start receiving some health care. (There is a clinic that serves the homelesss…but what do you do once you get into housing? stop going?)

Something that is not so successful…me giving up meat. For transparency purposes:
I ate meat 3 days in a row last weekend. I had friends in town, what could I say? Then a few days later I had a turkey sandwich. I had had a cold, and I think it was from the lack of protein. At least that’s what I’m telling myself. It sure tasted good though.
But I am back to being meat free. 2 more weeks till Easter!

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>

Walking to work on a beautiful, sunny morning in downtown Missoula.

Quiet streets.

The sun rises behind these mountains.

Sunset over the Clark Fork River.

Sun setting on downtown Missoula.

Pink mountains.

Sunset over the mountains.
I took these pictures last week when it was my first walk to and from work in day light. I can’t tell you how much it shortens my day to be arriving to work in the sun, and leaving in the sun. I feel like I have a life again! Every extra minute of sunlight feels like an additional blessing, an additional chance to enjoy the world. I love summer, and when it gets to this point in the year, late winter still, I am already dreaming of barbecues and long hikes in the mountains. So the chilly spring weather is a reminder for me to slow down, enjoy where I am, and relish the moment.

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>Community

>Two of my old housemates are in town, one just got engaged, and I spent an hour catching up with another on the phone a few nights back. And of course, one lives in Missoula! One of my current housemates is staying in Missoula next year.

So this week I’ve been thinking a lot about community. I’ve been very blessed in the relationships I have found and formed in the past few years.

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>So I was debating about writing this or not, seeing as how when you fast, you shouldn’t advertise that you’re fasting. But I figured this was about letting people know what’s going on in my life, and this is pertinent.

I gave up meat for lent. (minus fish…) For a couple reasons:
1. It’s a traditional thing to give up. Usually Lent is a time of fasting, and I wanted to experience an actual “fast” where I was cutting out one major thing from my diet. Sure, I’m still eating full meals every meal but by not eating meat, it influences each of my meals, rather than times when I’ve give up chocolate and am only tempted when I see it.
2. “Environmental” reasons. I put environmental in quotation marks, because as it is, I rarely buy meat. Most of the meat I eat is from the Poverello, which means that its meat that would’ve gone to waste otherwise and thus my eating it doesn’t really have an environmental impact. I do, however, always order meat when I’m eating out. I think that as a whole, the way I choose to eat is fairly ethical, so this isn’t a huge departure from that.
3. Solidarity. This is probably the biggest one. Most of the world doesn’t eat meat every day, but growing up, I definitely did. Or 3 times a day. The main reason I gave up meat was to remember 1) what a luxury it is, and 2) how much I enjoy it. (Trust me…I’m not going veg anytime soon!)
So how is it going?
1) Lots of pasta. Which is ironic, because I’ve cooked vegetarian most of my meals for the last 2 years. However, my roommates made chili last weekend and ended up eating the leftovers for the weekend, so I just ate pasta.
2) Really tough at the Pov. Most of the lunches there are meat based, so I end up eating potatoes/bread/salad. This is the part where its more the “fasting” part than the “solidarity” part. It’s not enjoyable, I’ll say that.
Health reasons aren’t really a factor here. I think you can eat meat and be healthy, and eat vegetarian and eat unhealthily. But trust me – I can’t wait for Easter!

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>Retreat Pictures!

>

Here are pictures from our retreat 2 weeks ago:

Driving in Big Sky Country
Foggy Washington morning

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