A room without books is like a body without a soul.
Cicero
Story of an Angel

This is the story of an angel. No, really!

image

That’s an angel, at least at one time it was easily recognizable as one. Now, not so much, but we will get into why in a minute. The important thing is that this is the angel I am talking of today.

You see, when I was a young’n, maybe 11 or 12,  I took myself to a flower shop for Mother’s Day and had them make up a little bouquet of carnations. I think they were yellow. Whilst there I saw this little beaded angel for a couple dollars, if that, and added it to my bouquet because my mom liked angels. It was a little ornament with confetti wings and a pipe-cleaner halo. But it was pretty, and it was a gift from her daughter so my mom hung it from her rear-view mirror and there it remained for years.

Flash forward to the summer of 2003. I was 15 with a driver’s permit on my way to a summer league basketball game.

I was driving, logging some hours because my state at the time required either a Drivers Ed course or 30 hours of logged driving time before one could upgrade their permit to a license starting at 16.

It started to rain. No matter, I kept driving. This the exit was coming up and I pulled a little closer behind a truck than mom liked and she freaked out which in turn caused me to slam on the break in the rain storm and started skidding. Well, the advice from the driving handbook was an epic fail and I was unable to regain control of the vehicle before hitting the wheel of the semi in the lane next to me and ricocheting into a guard rail. The back window imploded as the car came to a halt on the shoulder.

A pair of witnesses pulled over behind us, one called 911 while the other checked on us, evidently my head had appeared to snap back during the collision but I never noticed. Ironically, the person making the call was a kid I had known most of my life and the other was his cousin, both students at my new HS, so they possibly were on their way to the very same game my mom and I were. The cops arrived and we got out of the car to answer a few questions, they seemed bent on blaming the semi-driver (who had stopped farther ahead), but it wasn’t his fault and we finally convinced the cop as much.  Mom found her metal headband in the back seat, and the tow truck gave us a ride to the collision center where we waited for dad.

Ultimately the car was totaled and we noticed the angel had lost a wing.

Of course there are any number of factors that led to us walking away from that wreck with little more than a couple nicks from the broken glass and mom had a sore wrist from automatically holding it out in front of her to catch herself. We both were wearing our seat belts. Also, the airbags never went off, which is probably a good thing since I am not tall and thus had to be pretty close to the wheel to reach the pedals so an exploding airbag would probably have cracked a rib. What we found interesting is that the angel had lost a wing in the process, almost like a symbol. Almost as if a heavenly body that the angel ornament represented, a guardian angel if you will, had manifested in front of us (invisibly, of course) and lost a wing in protecting us.

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Definitely not our car, our damage was much less dramatic…believe it or not the driver here also survived with barely a scratch, the fire department took this picture (from: http://en.paperblog.com/angel-saves-woman-from-horrific-car-crash-355420/ )

But it doesn’t end there. The car was replaced and the angel was transferred to the new rear-view window, missing wing and all. I had always intended to replace the wing, but I never could find the right type/color of confetti and eventually I went to college. At some point the string broke so the angel could no longer hang, but rather than pitch it, it simply shifted to the center console and eventually the glove compartment.

But then it lost its other wing.

Nearly a decade after the first wreck, mom was driving to work in the car that had replaced the car that had replaced the one that wrecked when I was 15. A little old man in a big pickup truck ran a red light and t-boned her car. The little old man evidently had some mild dementia and tried to claim that mom had ran the red light, but there were witnesses and his grown children came to get him.

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Not mom’s car, but very similar in size and damage, including the same side. Image found here: http://www.bishopandhayes.com/tag/auto-injury-law/

Once again the car was eventually totaled, but mom was physically unhurt. Once again she had been wearing her seat belt and the collision was on the passenger side. Once again the airbags did not go off, though side-airbags might not have been standard yet when the car was manufactured. Emotionally she was hurt, she had been exceedingly fond of that car, but, as I repeatedly pointed out, she could have been hospitalized.

After the wreck, dad gathered her bits and bobs from the car and put them in his SUV, where they remained until mom was able to purchase a replacement vehicle. One of the first things she asked after was her angel. Now woefully worn and tattered and wingless, she refuses to drive without it for long.

Whether you believe in Angels or not,  it is interesting to note this little inexpensive angel lost each wing during separate car wrecks wherein the vehicle was totaled, but the occupants were largely unharmed.

You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.

 Madeleine L’Engle

Oh don’t mind me, I’m just making molds out of sand and casting a metal stool using molten metal that was melted by the power of the sun…typical day at the beach.

Want to spend time here!
books-forever:

The Bodleian at Oxford, oh to get into that collection.

Want to spend time here!

books-forever:

The Bodleian at Oxford, oh to get into that collection.

Making Butter La La La

I made butter today, just because I could. Its really easy to do too, no butter churn required. A lot of people use a mixer, which can get messy, but it cuts the time, some also use a blender or food processor…but these can be hard to clean, and dangerous if you are accident prone like me. I just shake it!

All you really need is some cream, it’s best if you can get it fresh from the cow (or other dairy animal), but if you cannot, heavy whipping cream from your grocery store works fine, though it take some more fanangling to make “cultured” butter due to the fact that most cream from the store is ultra-pasteurized and thus has no living natural microbes, “homogenized” cream apparently doesn’t separate so check your label if you have to get the cream from the store. Mine came from Wal-Mart, I bought the Great Value brand. You also need a container that you can SECURELY attach a lid, this is IMPORTANT. I have a Tupperware container, any clean container with a secure lid works, just make sure it’s big enough for the amount of cream you wish to use, you’ll need a little extra space to accommodate the cream as it whips and puffs up before breaking down into butter and buttermilk. Some optional things are salt, garlic, dill, etc, but these are not necessary to make butter.

First thing you do is pour your cream into the container, I used about half a pint of cream. It is generally recommended the cream is room temperature before you start, some people leave it out for a couple hours to add some flavor, however, not sure how well this would work with pasteurized cream from the store, plus I’m impatient so I just let it get to room temperature. This makes it easier to break down the cream.

All creamy and liquidy, but not for long! Slap you lid on, make sure it’s good and tight unless you want cream all over your kitchen!

This lid is stubborn! But once it’s on its time to start shaking! Nothing fancy here, no special technique, just shake it. Shake it like a Polaroid picture! Sorry, had to.

Your cream will start changing, it will go through a “whipped cream” stage (because this is how Whipped Cream is made as well) before breaking down and separating.

Mmm, creamy coating!

It’s whipping!

Now it’s starting to break down, but we aren’t there yet! Keep shaking!

SOO CLOSE! Keep Shaking!

Just a little more! Keep Shaking! And 5 seconds later….

Now THAT’S what I’m talking about!

Let’s strain that sucker! Into a Christmas glass because, why not?

Buttermilk! You should keep this for stuff, like pancakes. You can also drink it, but it is different than the store-bought Buttermilk, just a fair warning.

Try to squeeze out as much Buttermilk as you can, apparently if you don’t the butter will go bad faster.

Using ice water, it’s time to rinse the butter, I just rinsed out the shaking container to save dishes and put the butter lump back in it. Pour some ice water (don’t want the butter to melt!) in there and shake the container (I reattached the lid).

Drain off the “milky” water and repeat the process until the water no longer gets “milky”.

Now slap down some wax/parchment/butcher paper, a plate would probably work too, but hey, less dishes this way.

Dump your lump, we are going to squeeze as much excess liquid as we can from it.

SQUISH! Not a ton comes out, but there is a little.

Here is the point where you can add your optional stuff. The butter has a fresh taste on it’s own, but I wanted to salt mine. Just sprinkle and mix to taste, pretty easy. I’m using ordinary table salt here, but Kosher or Sea Salt works as well if you want a bit less sodium.

Once you have it to the taste you desire, find yourself a “butter mold”…in my case, I am using a glass dessert cup.

Shape it if desired (I made a tree!), cover and stick it in your fridge for glorious consumption. Won’t keep as long as store bought, but hey, you know what all is in it. And plus, you just made butter!

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haha!

haha!

Bahaha, everyone needs these!

berlinski:

Check out my ad for WVU IMC Masters program where I’m all professional and stuff. Let me know if you want an autographed copy. They are going fast!

Check out this ad featuring my OXO sister!

berlinski:

Check out my ad for WVU IMC Masters program where I’m all professional and stuff. Let me know if you want an autographed copy. They are going fast!

Check out this ad featuring my OXO sister!