What if?

For the past 6-ish weeks, I’ve been engaged in an experiment known as Get It Done Lab, the brain child of Samantha Bennett and her team.

First… the punch line. I have, in fact, been getting a whole lot of “it” done!

Next… a bit more of the story.

As part of our adventure, Sam has been sending out daily emails. Super quick. Pointed, even. And they all begin with the same two words…

What if?

If you’ve been reading along for a bit, you’ve probably already guessed that this is an approach that really works for me!

Day 40’s email said this:

What if…. you forgave everyone everything?

What if, indeed?

But, for many of us, there’s another obvious question… How?

If we’re being real, forgiving can be really hard. And that sentence led me on the proverbial rabbit trail – figuratively, at least – to the endless bookshelves in our basement.

(Okay, with a bit of help from Google, I found what I needed to know in my phone and didn’t need to tackle the stairs!)

The book in question is titled, Is Human Forgiveness Possible? by Dr. John Patton.

John was one of my seminary professors. I read the book for a short course while I was doing my DMin. and serving a church in Virginia.

Here’s the gist of what I remember…

No, we can’t make ourselves feel forgiving.

We can choose – or intend, as I’d say these days – to allow forgiving to happen within us.

Which doesn’t make it any less a challenge!

Think about our world.

For me, it often feels overwhelming with the need for personal forgiveness – which is sometimes the easier part – to political forgiveness and ancestral forgiveness and… well, fill in what works for you.

Here’s what I do know…

Feeling forgiveness might just be connected to feeling thankful.

And symbolizing forgiveness often helps. (Think paintbrushes, or music, or…)

And forgiveness doesn’t mean putting up with whatever harm others might heap on us. It just means declining to harm ourselves further by holding onto hate.

At the risk of being redundant… it’s hard. Perhaps the hardest thing many of us will ever learn. And one of those things we probably need to learn over and over.

But, all that being said, what might we do with the energy it takes to hold grudges? To hate? To look back instead of forward?

I’m feeling blessed by a whole lot of teachers who’ve helped me learn – along a pretty complicated road – to intend forgiveness.

And by the possibility that I might just be one of those teachers for someone else.

For this moment, though, there is a Hearth to tend and an email to write and a big dog who needs to be brushed.

A big dog who, by the way, has taught me a whole lot about forgiveness.

And about being thankful for the kind folks in the world. Like you!

Blessings, from Phoebe and Luther and the Legendary Husband and me!

ps… should you be tempted to shop for creative gifts, I’d be thrilled if you’d wander through the updated FierceArtWithHeart shop and let me know what you think. There’s even a print of “Heart of Creation”! (The elves have decided that holiday discounts are in order and shipping is free in the USA!)

pps… Intentional Creativity® can help with the forgiving thing. There are new things on the horizon! email me if you’d like more information… suesvoice@gmail.com

Mixed metaphors, a bit more heresy… and a recipe!

My Granny, on my mom’s side of the fam, used to tell a certain story before big holiday meals. Imagine her frown and clenched teeth, please.

It seems Granny and most of the family would work and work and bake and roast and fry and bake some more to spread the table with some really great food for big gatherings.

Except for one particular Aunt. Aunt Madge, I believe, but don’t hold me to it.

It seems she showed up for such events with the same contribution every time.

A pound of butter and a jar of olives.

I’ve got the butter managed. We’ll skip the olives until Christmas!

I’ll also admit that this blog post is feeling a bit like one of those big pot luck events as it hatches in my head.

I spent much of today taking photos and writing descriptions of the kind of art pieces around here that are looking for forever homes.

That, with frequent breaks to count the quarts of bone broth in the freezer – we’ve got to have gravy!

And keeping up with the world.

You can check my Facebook page for a whole bunch of the stuff I related to. Here’s a hint about a favorite, with thanks to my buddy, Lori Knight-Whitehouse…

A reprint of an article the amazing Anne Lamott wrote years ago about Thanksgiving. She was discussing the issue of table grace in her family and lamenting the fact that they were inclined in the direction of Cheers. Bottoms up. Dig in! while wee Annie longed for words she heard around the tables of friends.

And that reminded me of Dave when he was just getting the hang of pronouncing what he heard… you see, he and I did the traditional God is great… thing before meals. This was what my dear, kind boy heard. And repeated with care:

God is great. God is good. And we thank God for our food. Bite God’s hands and all be fed.

Give us, Lord, our gravy bread.

I must add that my little guy was enormously proud of his participation.

And, much to everyone’s dismay, I didn’t correct him. In fact, I cried the first time he managed it in the more usual fashion. I’m still pretty sure the Divine was delighted all along.

Which, in a stream of consciousness sort of fashion, brings us to Iron Chef America. The gang has been keeping me company as I work.

In one of my all time favorite episodes, Iron Chef Guarnaschelli is matched with a challenger who describes himself as a Norwegian Japanese Black guy. The secret ingredient was lamb. The whole critter! As it turned out, Chef Justin Sutherland took the winner’s bow, wearing a hat that read, In Diversity We Trust.

I’m thankful for that!

Now, for the promised main event…

Since I’ve already confessed to the heresy of not doing turkey the way we’ve always done it, it’s time to move on from Wednesday’s brining directions … there’s still time… to the part that smells so good. Actual roasting!

Of course, you’ll need your bird thawed, even if you skipped the dry brining process. (Note: It can take up to 3 days to thaw an 18-20 pound turkey in the fridge!) For Gorgeous Juicy Turkey, you’ll want to plan on roughly 2 hours for roasting and 1/2 hour for resting. See * below for additional info on timing according to turkey size!

A small amount of math is inevitable.

Remove your lovely bird from the fridge about 4 hours before you’re planning to serve your fabulous dinner. Allow it to sit out and come to cool room temp…about an hour. Put it somewhere the dogs really can’t reach it!

Preheat oven to 525 degrees F. 

Pour out any juices from the inside of the turkey and the bottom of the pan and discard. Pat the bird gently dry, inside and out, trying not to disturb any remaining brine mixture on the skin.

If you brined, no additional salt or pepper is needed!

(If you didn’t brine ahead of time, remove any innards, etc. now and generously season the inside of the turkey with good sea salt and freshly ground black or mixed peppercorns. )

Your marvelous dressing goes into a pan to bake. Trust me. (Sorry Granny!)

Fill the cavity with aromatics. Try a mix of your favorites… any combination of these will add to the cooking juices, keeping the turkey moist and making tasty gravy. (This part will take about 1/2 hour of our 4 hour timeline.)

  • Quartered onion, skin on.
  • A whole garlic bulb, cut in half.
  • A quartered, cored, firm organic apple.
  • 3-4 bay leaves, preferably fresh, crushed briefly to release oils.
  • A handful of fresh thyme sprigs. 
  • A fresh lemon, cut in half.
  • Rosemary and sage are good too, but may overtake other flavors. Tread lightly!
  • Any stems from fresh parsley you may have around.

After the cavity is filled, tie the wings and legs, pulling them close to the body with kitchen string so your bird will roast more evenly.

Then, scrub and roughly chop about:

  • 6 small carrots.
  • 3 – 4 peeled onions.
  • 6 ribs of organic celery, including some leaves if desired.

Place chopped veg in your roasting pan, forming a “rack” for the turkey. Place trussed bird, breast side up, on the veg.

Put in 525 degree oven for 11 minutes. Reduce oven temp to 400 degrees and continue to roast. 

(Any yummy veggies you’re roasting for dinner will do well at the same 400 F.)

Baste turkey every 20 minutes or so with good olive oil (or melted, unsalted butter), using a small brush.

* Alice Waters says to figure about 12 minutes per pound for a 15-pound, unstuffed turkey and fewer minutes/pound for larger birds. If you’re roasting our mythical 18-20 pound bird, start checking temp about 1 hour 45 min. after you reduced the oven to 400 F. by inserting an instant read thermometer into the deepest part of the breast, making sure tip does not touch the bone. Check the plump part of the inner thigh the same way. As amazing as this sounds, my 18-pound birds are brown, sexy, and beautifully done 2 hours after I turn the oven down to 400 degrees! Cook to 160 degrees F. on your thermometer.

If you jiggle the ends of the legs, they will move freely and whatever juice comes out when you take out the thermometer will be clear. Remove your gorgeous bird to a deep platter or cutting board with grooves for the juice and allow it to rest for 30 minutes. If you like crispy skin, leave it uncovered!

Remove the string. Carve your masterpiece as desired, adding the juices to your gravy.

Enjoy, with thanks in your own fashion. I’m thankful for you!

ps… save the non-gnawed bones for broth! Dogs don’t get cooked bones!!!

pps…so hoping you’ll resist doing all your Black Friday shopping before Wednesday’s blog! All that work on photos of art I mentioned??? BIG changes coming to Fierce Art With Heart! Details here in 3 days. If you just can’t resist, there are lots of new listings up, and holiday prices, now. I just haven’t finished all the “decorating”! Hint – everything that isn’t an original painting or a giclee print is in the collection called, “Small Things.” The elves appreciate your patience!!!

Heresy… ’tis the season!

In a bit, I’m headed off to a training in something known as IMM. I’ve had this same adventure before. Now – at this moment – it feels even more relevant.

It has to do with letting go of beliefs that hold us back from the things that matter most. With getting free, if you will, of lots of old stuff that more or less got installed in us like computer bugs in our bodies at times when we didn’t know we could choose our beliefs.

If you’ve been reading along for a bit, you may have noticed that I like having choices.

So, my choice for this moment…

It’s about to be the holiday weekend known in the USA as Thanksgiving. (Also as the excuse for Black Friday buying mania.)

Many, many of us are choosing what to do with the culturally growing realization that the fairy tale version of the first Thanksgiving we learned in school was, to say the least, a rather limited viewpoint.

And, if you’re like me, that feels like a call for some more learning.

And, if you’re like me, you have people you love.

One of those people in my world is the Legendary Husband who LOVES turkey!

So, we’re doing the thankful part and the bird part of the holiday.

Here comes the heresy part…

We’re not doing it the way we’ve always done it!

In fact, we’re starting with a whole different question. (Yep… you can probably guess!)

What are we trying to accomplish?

The answer, at our house, is some time to hang out together. A really good bird. Bones for broth. And – this one is important around here – not messing with Bill’s blood sugar!

All while keeping up with other things that matter and looking forward to what I am now calling the likelihood of Christmas with our kids.

So… my heretical recipe for dry brining the bird. And my confidence that my Grandmother is NOT going to disown me, especially not at this point in her adventure, for doing it differently. Dry brined turkey is really, really good and she’d probably have done it this way if she’d known. Wink! Wink!

And, for what it’s worth, a virtual bit of red ink for you. A reminder that all the stories we’ve learned – many, many of them before we reached the age of abstract thought – have been edited through the years and it’s more than okay if we edit for ourselves.

So celebrate if you choose. Or remember. And, maybe, ask some new questions…

In addition to What are we thankful for? how about What might we do to share our thanks and blessings with others? And, What other stories need telling?

And, yes, we want to stay age appropriate for the littles. No good comes of terrifying them!

Just making space for more stories. And the wonder of a world full of stories to learn!

Now for the bird…

Ingredient Notes: Buy the best you can get. It takes some hunting. Local farmers. Whole Foods. Dean & DeLuca, Zingermans, White Oak Pastures. This year, ours is a Heritage breed bird, pasture raised by my local, sustainable farmer friends at Carlton Farms. I like turkeys in the 18-20 pound range because they fit in my oven and I want lots of bones and leftover meat for soup. I can actually feed 75-100 people from one turkey by making bone broth and using it well! (You can, too!) Thaw bird, if needed, in a fridge. It may take up to 72 hours to thaw a turkey this size. Or, scale down, if desired!

Brining: This is optional but I highly recommend it. I’ve tried both wet and dry brines and I like dry the best. It’s easier, often cheaper, a lot less messy, and ultimately, more effective. And it has no sugar! The purpose is to season the bird, while holding juices in the muscle for a moist, tender turkey, with gorgeous, crispy, perfectly seasoned skin. Wash your hands a lot during the process! You’ll need:

Coarse grey Celtic sea salt

Freshly ground pepper (black or mixed colors)

Dried thyme (or other herbs as desired)

A pan large enough to hold the turkey loosely. (ie Eco-foil from your local supermarket. Nobody’s perfect!)

Mix together in a small bowl: 4 Tbsp. coarse sea salt with 2 Tbsp. ground pepper and 1 1/2 Tbsp crushed, dried thyme, etc., if desired. (You can also do this with just salt, in which case you may need an extra Tbsp. for coverage.) Don’t use regular table or fine grind salt! It leaves a bitter taste and you have to reduce the amount significantly so it’s hard to cover the whole bird without making it too salty.

For an 18-20 pound, thawed turkey, remove any neck and innards. Reserve them for other uses as needed. I freeze the neck, heart, and gizzard for soup stock or feed them to the dogs, if that’s the sort of thing yours are used to. The liver is great for dirty rice and may be frozen, separately. (Or added to the dog feast!) Pat bird dry, inside and out, with paper towels and place bird in pan. (If using foil pan, place that on top of a sheet tray or similar pan for stability.)

Working in the pan, season the dried inside and outside of the bird well with salt mix. Get down around the wings and legs and thighs. Pat and rub. Leave uncovered or cover loosely with parchment paper. Place in fridge, preferably the old one in the basement, and just leave it alone for up to 3 days. I like 18-24 hours. It will be fine. What you’re aiming for with the timing is that miraculous moment when the skin is crispy, the meat is juicy and tender, and the bird is perfectly salted.

You’re well on the way to the best Thanksgiving feast ever!

On Sunday I’ll be back here with roasting directions for Gorgeous, Juicy (Easy) Turkey.

ps… the dry-brining thing also works really well for a nice, farm raised chicken, should you be looking for something less huge. Just scale everything, including time, down accordingly. This is art, not science!

pps… the art is my Forest of Grandmothers work-in-progress. The particular bit in the photo is where I’ve pasted images of my teachers in the heart wood of the tree. Squint… you may see some folks you know!

My head feels a bit like this…

I suspect you’ve been here, too!

Lots of things on your list. Many of them feeling huge. It’s not necessarily the most comforting place to be.

Especially on about four hours of sleep!

At some point in what passed for morning around here, I happened to check the groovy moon phase app on my phone. (This is definitely a growing edge in my education!)

We are currently in a waxing Gibbous phase, which means growing toward the full moon.

According to the app elves, my advice for this day was:

Break new ground, get back to the things you have been putting off, turn your creativity into success. Your family and home will benefit the most from this lucky day.

Maybe it was enough to shift some of the stressful stuff from right in front of my face to a bit farther out of focus. Or, maybe, the lack of solar guys crawling all over the house improved my perspective.

In any event, for some reason, today I could see how many things I could make better just in the course of wandering through the house.

So, I spent the day putting away and straightening and recycling as I made my way from one official thing to another.

You know the way..

On the way to the studio? Take the new box of neurographia pens and put them away!

Waiting for soup to bubble on the stove? Clean some stuff out of the fridge. (I mean, how many tiny partial bowls of bar-b-que sauce do we really need???)

Stashing a book on the bedside table? Scoop up a load of sheets and head for the washer!

Is a day like this going to save the world?

Nope!

But, it did let me get some stuff done on a very tired day.

Possibly because I put the energy it takes to ignore things to good use… And, I got some extra movement in there, too!

All of which suggests, not only with the moon app elves, but with a lot of the things I’ve been learning lately, that I am, indeed, a bit closer to creating good things with creativity.

Also, for the things that weren’t going so well, but need to, I actually asked for some help!

One day, as the old saying goes, at a time… with much love from me and the Studio Angels who are, not surprisingly, sound asleep!

ps… the painting is deep under-layers of a journey called Codex.

Follow your tears…

As long as I can remember, I’ve gotten choked up talking about things which matter deeply to me.

Eventually, I guess I got used to it, even while realizing it made others uncomfortable, or judgemental, which made me wish I could quit.

Fast forward to my first year in Seminary. The whole tear thing happened a lot there. So many things mattered deeply! I began to get really concerned when it came time to interview for my summer internship after my first year at CTS. You see, in my very limited practice preaching, I cried.

During my interview with my about-to-be ministry supervisor, I mentioned my concern. Gary, a fairly recent CTS grad himself, gave me this advice:

Be sure to have tissues in your pocket. You wouldn’t want to blow your nose on your sleeve!

We laughed together and I knew I had found my place!

(We’ll ignore for the moment that back in those days of the late 1980’s, women had to pay extra to get a pocket put into a clergy robe! Men, as the theory went, only needed a slit in the side seam of the robe because then they could reach their pants pocket! Anyway…)

The tear phenomenon didn’t stop, though I felt less “bad” about it.

Others, it seemed, did not feel less bad.

The bottom line is this… I cry when things matter.

Yesterday, I found a new way to understand that bit of me.

My discovery came in the midst of some work I’m doing with Dr. Kayleen Asbo. Kayleen is a writer, teacher, musician, artist, historian, and pilgrimage leader whom I first met on my Black Madonna Intentional Creativity® journey, four years ago.

In her Magdalene Emerging reading for Tuesday, I discovered this:

Tears are a royal road. If we want to find our truest path and calling in life, we are to follow our tears!

And in my notes, the ps… And not apologize for them!

I’m in! And now I know why!!!

These days, my tears show up most often when I dream and write and paint about empowering Grandmothers to survive and thrive in this world so they can empower their littles – the ones they love the most – to do the same.

And all this tear-knowing made me wonder…

Where are your tears calling you to follow?

I really hope you’ll share! Leave a comment here, or email me. suesvoice@gmail.com

In this moment, I’m off to work some more on my Intentional Grandmothers Archetype project. It’s closer and closer to ready!!!

I’ll leave you, though, with a bit of Kayleen’s prayer:

May I pay fierce attention to where I am called by love’s deepest longings.

May it be so for you, whatever your tradition. May it be so for all of us.

ps… That’s a glimpse of my Bella Mama in the photo.

Apple Pie and Miracles!

We’ll start with the miracles. Pie is for dessert!

In a few hours, the Intentional Creativity® adventure known as Vivid will begin. (Well, technically, we began last night with our opening circle and lots of new Sisters!)

This year’s version is called Tapestry, after the miraculous weaving that happens when we gather together and create.

I’m ready! Not just emotionally. Like, actually… in the real world. There’s even a photo! And, yes, this feels like a miracle! (Thanks, Bill!)

You see, there’s been a lot going on. A big part of that is an adventure known as the Get It Done Lab, the brain child of my friend, Sam Bennett and her amazing team. The structure of this adventure – and community – is helping me to, well, get things done!

Here’s what I posted in the group yesterday…

This is, indeed, another miracle! Not simply a free horizontal space – which is amazing enough – but the fact that all the things which were piled on the table have new intentional spaces to be. Spaces where I could, you know, find and use them!

There’s no photo for the next miracle, but there is a story…

An old friend and dear paint peep asked me a question. (You know how I love questions!) And, with some help from the Muse, and very little sleep, I found an answer to that question living deep inside me in the place that’s not quite conscious.

Some paper and markers later, I had a whole lot more conscious awareness AND a visual model of that answer that I could actually share.

And it helped! (Both of us!)

So, why apple pie?

Well, because many of us are planning for Thanksgiving and I come from a family just non-traditional enough to have finally realized we all liked apple better than pumpkin and we got to choose!

So do you! Thus, Mom’s version of apple pie, just in case you’re exploring new choices. It’s really, really good! And, it’s my gift to you.

My Mom’s Apple Pie

This was Dave’s favorite growing up. Great for summer holidays, but also for Thanksgiving, when you can often get superb local apples. Really good fruit pies crack and run a bit when you cut them. This is really good pie!

            MAKES 1 PIE, ABOUT 8 SERVINGS

            [Note on Ingredients: Since pie crust is a very personal thing, I’m going to leave it up to you. You’ll need enough for a 2 crust pie. Organic Granny Smith apples are great, or try local, seasonal, organic apples. You want something crisp and a bit tart.]

            Arrange oven racks so that pie will bake in center of oven.

            Preheat oven to 425 F.

            Prepare pie crust as above or remove purchased crust from fridge to warm.

            Wash, peel, quarter, and core:

                        6-7 organic apples, as above.

            Into large bowl, slice apples into ¼ inch thick slices, so they’ll retain their shape and some texture when cooked. No applesauce, here!

           In separate bowl, mix together:

                        2/3 c. sugar, more or less, depending on sweetness of apples.

                        1 Tbsp. sprouted grain or all purpose flour.

                        1 tsp. ground cinnamon.

            Add dry ingredients to apples and toss to coat.

           Add apple mix to pie pan with bottom crust.

           Dot with small pieces of butter, about 2 Tbsp. total.

           Cover with top crust. Roll and crimp edges to seal.

            With sharp knife, cut 6 slits, about 1 inch long, into top crust to let steam escape. Place pie on a sheet tray to catch any drips. Place in oven and bake 50-60 min. Check after 45 min. or so to see if edges of crust are browning too much. If so, fold strips of foil, about 3 inches wide and curve to arrange over edges. Top should be nicely browned, with bubbles of juice visible at edges of crust and slits in top when done.

            Cool on rack. Serve warm-ish or at room temperature, garnished to taste with:

                      Good vanilla or cinnamon ice cream.

                        Freshly whipped heavy cream.

                        A slice of sharp cheddar cheese.

            Enjoy!

ps… Giving you the gift of Mom’s apple pie also allowed me to Get [this blog] Done a day early so I could be fully present for the gift of Tapestry. I’m so thankful for that. And for you!

pps… The recipe comes from my book, We Gather Together… holiday feasts with the family you have, which has a recipe for pie crust if you need one. OR you could email me and I’ll send you my very best one, from Granny and Mom and me! suesvoice@gmail.com

It’s been a long time since 1st grade!

When I was about 3 1/2 years old, my Dad got a new job which meant a move from Cleveland to Pittsburg. As the oral tradition tells it, I had two questions before I “agreed” to the move.

Did Pittsburg have corn on the cob? And, did they have Romper Room?

It might have been a sign. I’ve spent a whole lot of my time since then learning.

After Pittsburg came St. Louis, where there was no public kindergarten. There was a ballet teacher but she was scary and I didn’t want to pretend to be a helicopter!

I started first grade able to count to 10 and write my name, which, in this time would be considered woefully behind the curve.

Had I known about Heaven, I would have thought it was first grade and assumed that Mrs. McKnight was God. I’ve pretty much been at it ever since.

It feels like the pace is picking up a bit in these days and, somewhere in my consciousness, the voices have awakened again.

The Muse is delighted.

The Critic, not so much.

We’ll let the Critic go first as she is decidedly the loudest.

No! Run! Very Scary! People like us don’t think things like this! What will other people think?

Perhaps you’ve met.

The Muse, on the other hand, has taken to quoting my friend Sam Bennett.

Oh!

To get the full effect, tip your head slightly to one side and, with rounded lips and a little lift to your voice…

Oh! (Like curious surprise…)

They’re keeping me up, nights, those two, which is no particular surprise. You see, they’re both trying to help.

The Critic believes that we know what’s safe by the fact that it’s familiar. That we’ve lived through it before. Preferably many, many generations of before. (But, sometimes, those things didn’t really work very well at all… they were only familiar.)

The Muse, on the other hand, likes possibilities. She’s a What if? kind of girl.

Here’s what kind of got left out on much of my long educational path…

I get to choose!

And here’s the really, really good news…

So do you!

There is a bit of a ya-but to this story, though.

It works better when we choose out of fierce compassion. When we choose out of the most good for the most people. When we choose empowerment rather than domination and subjugation.

So, that’s pretty much my what these days, sprinkled with a fair amount of STARDUST!

There’s more how coming soon.

For now, though… homework! And blessings for your learning.

ps… “ya-but” was one of our son’s favorite phrases when he was about 14 or 15. I think he caught on to the choosing thing early!

pps… the painting is deep underlayers of something which no longer exists in that form. It’s known as, “Oh!”

Sue Boardman, Certified Intentional Creativity®
Color of Woman Teacher & Coach

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