Friday, May 29, 2009
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
I’ve decided I’m going to stop testing my blood glucose several times every day. My doctor was concerned because my reading was 134 when she did my blood tests. She put me on the starchy carb free diet that I’ve already talked about. I’ve known several people who monitored their own blood sugar readings and I thought it might be a good idea for me to do the same. You can buy glucosometers without a prescription. Each one comes with a lancet tool and requires test strips to obtain the number reading. The lancet is inserted into a little trigger device that makes it easy to poke yourself. Then a test strip is inserted into a slot in the meter and a tiny drop of blood from the lancet prick is picked up on the tip. The system tests this tiny sample and gives a readout number for the amount of glucose in your blood. That’s a very simplistic explanation and I didn’t bother with the technical medical details, but you get the idea.
The American Diabetes Association recommends that morning ‘fasting’ numbers should not exceed 126 (with ‘normal’ being 70 to 99) My doctor said below 140 was acceptable, but my 134 was high. Since I’ve been following her eating plan my fasting numbers have been between 84 and 125, usually about 110. That’s pretty good, I think.
The recommended testing schedule is before breakfast, then 2 hours after breakfast, again just before lunch and two hours afterward, finally again before supper and again 2 hours later. Then you are supposed to go at least 8 hours before eating again and test your ‘fasting’ level. It is all kind of a bother. But for those people who have sugar diabetes it is sometimes vital.
My friend, Dixie, has a serious diabetes problem and she carries her test kit everywhere with her. I’ve seen her have to leave church service to go and test her blood sugar. I’m not sure but I believe she carries insulin and emergency food items with her to control sudden spikes and lows. It is that important to control her blood sugar levels. For her it is serious business.
I started it on my own just to get an idea of how my eating plan was affecting my blood glucose. Now I know, so I’m not going to mess with it quite so often. The Diabetes Association says that the normal person's 2 hours after eating numbers can be between 70 and 145, but for diabetics you are recommended to stay below 200. I’ve been consistently at between 110 and 136. I think I've had two spikes at 164, once follwing pizza and again after a steak dinner with baked potato, texas toast and coleslaw. That’s twice in two months. So I’ll live with it.
Now I know. Avoiding starchy carbs and tablesugar-y items results in excellent numbers. (Lots of people who are on this eating plan cheat by eating breads etc "because they have lots of fiber." I make special efforts to get fiber from veggies and fruits. This is absolutely necesssary to avoid the starch that accompanies grain products.) Allowing ONE serving of starchy carbohydrate each day will still give me good numbers. I don’t do any more than that except on the very rare occasion that a steak dinner is in the picture. Even then if we’re eating at home, I might have a salad and a serving of broccoli or cauliflower or Brussels sprouts. Rachael started out accompanying me to provide moral support. She's dropped two dress sizes and has become a believer! LOL AND she's comverted several people at her job!
Anyway, now that I know how different foods affect my blood glucose, I’m going to drop back to testing in the early morning before my coffee. No sense buying those expensive test strips if I don’t have to. The good news is that the controlled carbohydrate eating regimen does definitely control my blood sugar levels. It has already had a positive effect on my weight and Rachael’s. And it does not leave me feeling ‘deprived’ the way lots of ‘diets’ do.
This has all the veggies I want, all the fruit I want (except I avoid bananas, they have lots of carbohydrate/sugars and have a negative impact on blood sugar if I eat a whole one plain) but veggies, fruit and proteins- meat, cheese, nuts, beans- they are very satisfying.
At first you wonder how you will ever get ‘full’ on just that. I come from a farm and working man background. The high carbohydrate starches were needed to fuel long days of hard physical labor amd of course they taste good as well. No meal at my mom or grandma's house was complete without bread or potatoes and gravy. But I like veggies and fruit to start with and once I started this eating pattern, eliminating the starchy carbs, I found that it didn’t really take that much meat and veggies to make me satisfied. It actually required less food bulk than when I was eating potatoes and spaghetti with garlic bread. I don’t even fuss much over fats or butter. Of course I don’t eat either by the spoonful either…
This has had great results all around for me and also Rachael. I don'tsay it will be perfect for you, but still it won't hurt and it certainly is healthier than frenchfries, big macs and Pizza Hut!
Try it. You might like it.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Today has been a hard day for me, but all is at peace and rest now. Sometimes things make your heart ache, but the Lord is always there to pour out comfort. What in the world do people do without the Lord?
In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God. Psalm 62: 7
Some times I feel discouraged,
If you can not preach like Peter,
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Now today, things are turning even greener than that were Tuesday morning after the little sprinkles Monday night. The mockingbird appreciates it. Yesterday morning he was singing this long complicated melody. Today he’s singing in short little bursts of joy. Like he’s giggling!
If you’ve read here you know lots of times I relate events and scenes to scriptures and this morning I’m thinking of Isaiah 40. 12Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?....
21Have ye not known? Have ye not heard? Hath it not been told you from the beginning? Have ye not understood from the foundations of the earth? 22It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; [He] stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:…
25To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. 26Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.
When you live in the east, (or the Midwest , Ohio, West Virginia, the area where I grew up and lived for much of my life:) those are beautiful descriptive words. But the trees and hills and little mountains crowd close around you blocking your view of the scope of the earth. It’s not until you stand under this desert sky and look from one set of mountains on the east to the other set on the west, that you comprehend the gigantic majesty of God. The word “awesome” is over-used in our society, but “awesome” in all of its meaning and grandeur is the only description that applies to God and the Work of His Hands. Grand, over-whelming, breath-taking, splendid, fabulous, tremendous, remarkable, outstanding, amazing, superb, impressive, marvelous….
Come to the southwest and go out in the desert. Stand between the mountains and look up and away. You will see what I mean.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Pappy laughed and said it would be here sooner than I thought. Time went faster and faster the older a person got. I could hardly believe that! He was too old to remember how slow time went.
Well now I know. Just a couple weeks ago, I was arriving here to visit, looking ahead toward three months visiting. Now it is down to just a bit more than a month! It has been nearly sixty days of bright blue mornings and windy afternoons, with the mocking bird singing in the kitchen tree and the road runner strutting past the front window.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
When I first came to NM I remember seeing Navajo walking calmly through the falling rain as though it were a sunny spring day. I marveled at their cavalier attitude toward rain. Then after I’d lived here a while, my attitude changed, too. I learned to walk through rain and revel in it. It is only water, it will dry, even if you get soaked through. My body seemed to soak up the moisture like the dry ground.
I missed it tonight because the rain blew up suddenly after dark, but I always enjoy watching the storm clouds roll across the distant land. The storm clouds boil up over the mountain and then you can watch the individual columns of rain marching toward you. Only a few times do I remember it being entirely overcast like it gets in Ohio. Usually if you turn in a slow circle you can see blue skies and sunshine not too far off.
And in the evening, the rays of setting sun stream across the land underneath the dark clouds and in places through the falling rain. The entire landscape becomes scorched with gold. The bushes and grass are thrown into high relief and people become long shadow giants walking through the sagebrush.
And over it all, pervading the senses. is the fragrance of desert rain. It is different from any fragrance any where--heady, resinous and invigorating. You have to stand in our doorway to appreciate it!
Monday, May 18, 2009
But you can go back. I sat in my open door this morning and smelled the fresh scent of sage and juniper mixed with a very slight moisture and when I closed my eyes I was opening the door of our little pink house in Rock Springs. The fragrance came in and mixed with that of coffee cooking on the stove. The coolness of the breeze on my face vied with the warmth of the morning fire at my back. The barking of the dog and the maa-ing of the goats in the distant silence was countered by the laughter of a little boy bouncing on his father’s stomach in bed.
I sat there a few minutes, remembering. Yes, you can go back
Sunday, May 17, 2009
4How shall we sing the LORD's song in a strange land? Psalm 137:1-4
What a fantastic and glorious account we find here of what it is to have known the glory and beauty of the Church of God and then be forced through circumstances to sit in a worldly church and experience the shallowness of false religion. This, like so many of the scriptures presents a dual picture. First, it is the account of the captivity of the Israelites in Babylon. They were forced to be away from their spiritual and physical home in Zion and they wept for it. But it is also a picture of the Church of God as compared to worldly religion typified by “Babylon.”
A few times during my life I have, for one reason or another, had to be present in a false church. The first time was when I was in college. My room mate was greatly bothered because I was so conscientious about my life and living for God but I didn’t go to church services. (There was no church of God close enough for me to get to without transportation) She attended the close-by Methodist church every Sunday.
After several weeks I agreed to go with her. Remember, I grew up in the Church of God. I had quite literally never experienced false religion. I had no idea what to expect. We walked into a beautiful facility full of stained and varnished natural wood with plush carpet and stained glass windows. There was lovely organ music emanating from a hidden source. The atmosphere was hushed and reverent. But the building was absolutely devoid of the presence of God.
How did I know? I’ve never been able to explain it except to say that once you have known the presence of God, you will never be fooled by beautiful surroundings, a reverent atmosphere and sweet music.
Everyone sat reverentially as the choir filed in and the ministry took their seats on the platform. Everyone sat very still and solemnly bowed their heads while a deacon stepped to the podium and intoned the opening prayer, read very expressively from a prayer book. Then the minister of music took his place and announced the first hymn. While the choir carried the melody and harmony along with clearly pronouncing the words, the congregation muddled along trying not to disturb the worshipful mood of the atmosphere.
My heart cried with in me. I had only ever known the happy songs of people who loved the Lord, who triumphed over sin and trials and sang to rejoice in the victory. This music I was hearing here was something much less than music of the Beatles that resounded from every dorm room on our hallway. There was no joy. There was no experience of trial. There was no victory ringing in the words. Frankly, the Beatles' music had more feeling and definitely a better beat.
The minister spoke of Gideon and how God chose 300 men to fight the Midianites out of the massive army that the Israelites had assembled. (Judges 7, if you don’t remember the reference) But the emphasis was not on how God delivered the people, but upon how these were chosen because of their watchfulness and strength. The message emphasized that instead of the mighty God overcoming the massive forces of the Midianites as they “lay along in the valley like grasshoppers for multitude; and their camels were without number, as the sand by the sea side for multitude.” The glory was not in “The sword of the LORD, and of Gideon” but in the strength and faithfulness of the human. It was a very encouraging sermon, encouraging the human to be their best and do their best…
This verse settled deep into my soul and grew roots. Truly, there [I] sat down, yea, [I] wept, when [I] remembered Zion. Thank the Lord I didn’t have to stay there, but the Lord taught me a deep compassion for those trapped in false religion.
While I was waiting for Michael in front of the church building a lady from the congregation came out with fire in her eye and verbally attacked me for leaving. She had no idea that I hadn’t left until the Holy Spirit had departed….
Oh, so many people are trying to sing the songs of Zion in a strange land today! And they don’t even know it.
Friday, May 15, 2009
When Kerra got Peepers she was all white ( ooh, ooh, ooh! A little “gaalth baa’ii” just hopped by the window. THAT got her attention! ) Anyway, Peepers was all white with just the edges of her ears outlined in black. Ear-liner instead of eye-liner. Then, as she got older, color began to show on her body. Now she has irregular spots of tan and black scattered all over her and her tail is all dark brownie-black. I think she is more than a little Siamese.
Peepers is a wild thing. She tears around like her tail is on fire. And we think maybe the house is haunted because she will be sitting quietly and suddenly fly straight up into the air and take off. The only explanation is that a ghost pinched her!
There is an old red fuzzy tattered mouse that lies around the house. I don’t know where it is at the moment, but Peepers keeps track of it. From time to time it comes to life and attacks her! Then there is a wild battle all around the house, from one end to the other. I never knew a stuffed mouse could move so fast! Nor jump so high—above the counter sometimes!! But Peepers always manages to subdue it. I wonder who would protect us if she weren’t here.
Several mornings ago I woke up to find the mouse floating face down in the dogs’ water bowl. Guess she taught that mouse a lesson. Kerra fished it out and squeezed the water from it. I guess maybe it is drying out someplace.
Peepers is currently looking for a husband. Last night about midnight, she was sitting in the kitchen window very loudly calling for any one who would listen. I shushed her, but it won’t be long before she is yelling again. Such a noise from such a dainty lady. I’ll accept donations for her surgery….
So now Peepers is still on the window sill. She is resting her head against the screen. One ear is crumpled against the screen and her eyes are half closed. The rabbit disappeared but she is still staring at the spot where it was. Maybe she’s waiting for it to come back.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I’ve said many times that I never understood David’s statement in Psalms: I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. I mean, how could the hills help him? It just didn’t make sense to me. Then I met New Mexico’s mountains and it all began to connect.
Our door faced east when I lived in Rock Springs. (All traditional Navajo doors face east) It was there I learned to lift up my eyes to the hills. No matter what my problems, they were dwarfed by those mountains. No matter how pressured I was by time or how late someone was in arriving, those mountains made me understand the value of waiting patiently on the Lord.
The mountains provided an orientation for my sense of direction. I don't ever remember being 'lost' in the desert and I hiked a lot, by myself and with others. The mountains in the east were always there to provide a point of reference. All I ever had to do was turn around, head back toward the mountians and I'd end up on the road again, eventually. In the same way, David's mountains were always there providing him with his direction. And the 'mountain of God" still provides spiritual direction for us. It is there. All we have to do, if we wander and become lost, is go toward it.
David said, ‘from whence cometh my help’ -- not really comprehensible to me either. Then I came to realize that inevitably, I could depend on the Sun rising over those mountains, No matter how dark the night, I knew that morning was coming. No matter how cold the wait, the sun would rise above the mountains. Help came, in one sense, from those hills. No wonder the semi-arid desert Jews related the faithfulness of God to those mountains and hills surrounding them.
The prophet Malachi referred to Christ as the Sun of righteousness. ( But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; ) I never understood that until I saw the desert sun blaze out above the mountains. The whole world then was lying in darkness and the Sun of righteousness arose over the mountains of sin and doubt and superstition and confusion and trial. Jesus came into our lives just like that too. Oh, we consider our selves more civilized and educated; we don’t have superstition and ignorance in our lives…But when the Sun of righteousness arises over our personal mountains, we find that we do have them. Then Jesus comes blazing over our horizon and His brightness burns away everything unlike Him. That’s when we discover just what we were and we can praise him for the healing He brings to our spiritual condition.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
I wake up early--nearly every morning at 3:00 or 3:30. That’s New Mexico time. In Ohio it is 5:00 or 5:30 and for many years that was the time I got up to prepare for my day. I’m not a morning person, believe it or not, even though I get up early. I simply need those extra hours to get my mind and body in gear to work for the day.
Even discounting my problems with my knees and difficulty getting around, I still needed to move at my own unhurried pace, thinking my slow thoughts and drinking my coffee….and finally taking that slow and careful crutch-trip from my back door to the garage. I won’t claim to have done much meditating or bible reading during that time. My mind barely put coherent thoughts together to remember to put my glasses on! Don’t reproach me, just realize that I’ve never been a quick starter. I did and still do a lot of staring into space until my mind comes up to speed.
Now, I no longer have to be someplace at some specific time, but after all those years of getting up at five o'clock my body is adapted to the early wake-up time. And now, no matter where I am, I guess my internal clock still runs on Ohio time. So now here at Notah's house I still wake up at 3:00 AM but I can spend the time doing other things besides getting up and dressed. I play the news or creationscapes (quiet hymns and gospel music accompanied by a background of scenery and scripture) or something else lulling and sit here thinking or sometimes putting myself back to sleep.
This morning I was thinking about how people serve the Lord and how some seem to step into living for Him and go onward and upward,never looking back while others seem to embrace the concept of salvation but never really make a success of pursuing godliness. Some set out to serve the Lord with joy and commitment but others treat it as a arduous task. Some struggle over certain things but persevere to victory. Others just don't seem to make any effort to triumph over sin or questions in their Christian life. The first group continues to grow and prosper in the Lord. The second group is up and down in their experience, even, at times, losing out with the Lord entirely, but professing highly all the while.
I came to the conclusion, simplistic maybe, but still here it is: It all depends on how much we love the Lord. Jesus said of the woman who broke the box of ointment over Him, Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. How much we are willing to do for God depends on how much we love Him. How much we love Him depends on our perception of how sinful we were.
In other church buildings, there are pastors who are true to the souls of the flock. They not only give their flock a firm characterization of sin, but they present specifics. And with that preaching comes a perception of our sinfulness before God and firm conviction. THEN when we come to God in repentance we truly realize the depth and breath of our sin and with forgiveness comes a great love for God. That love is so great that we refuse to let anything interfere with our devotion and service. And like the woman we love Him much.
Thank the Lord for faithful ministers in His Church!
Monday, May 11, 2009
One of the best places to see this is in Romans 11 as Paul again explains the way the Kingdom was opened to the Gentiles. For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
Here we find the explanation of how the Jews were ‘broken off’ because of unbelief. And in those empty spaces we, as believing Gentiles were able to be grafted in. The Jews who did not accept Christ as Messiah/Savior were broken off. They lost their part in the Promise of God and now we become partakers of that promise. (That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Ephesians 3: 6)
Now we come to those Jews who will be saved. Paul says that even if they had initially been broken off, if they come to believe in the Christ they can just as easily be grafted back in. It is by this method that Jews will be saved thus fulfilling the promises. blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved And so all Israel shall be saved:
“In the fullness of time,” those Israelites who come to believe in Christ will be saved, just as the Gentiles were . . . thus establishing the entire Family of God: For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him, Romans 10:12
And what is wonderful is that the same message is repeated in other places in the Word. It all fits together and supports all other parts. It is 'cohesive.'
Saturday, May 9, 2009
It’s morning in the desert. The silence, even in our little housing development, is overwhelming. Heaven and earth seem very close to one another and Man is like dust on the balance. The mountains are steel gray underneath the huge vault of our blue sky and the sun is dazzling. Shadows are long behind the sagebrush and rabbit bushes; every stem is highlighted by the bright sun on one side and the deep shade on the other. And the quiet, the quiet is like a fluffy comforter over everything.
There is a cool breeze coming in the window. It must be blowing all the way from the mountains, maybe even the Pacific, carrying the fragrance of pine and sage and juniper. It has moist underscents this morning that make me think there must have been a sprinkle of rain somewhere this morning. The desert sand and plants have a light but distinctive fragrance when a bit of moisture falls on it. If we could bottle it I’d keep it with me for memory’s sake when I go back east.
I watched two meadowlarks playing in the wind earlier. One settled on a fence post and the other soared up until I lost it in the blue of the sky. To me, the name ‘meadowlark” implies green pastures with bubbling brooks running through them. Why is it then that I’ve seen more meadowlarks here in the desert than I ever saw in Ohio? They love to sit on fence posts here and on the tips of the sagebrush and sing. When a meadowlark sings, he throws his head back and opens his beak and sings to the heavens. His pleasure in the song is evident in every part of him.
It will soon be time for the sound of the mocking bird that sings in the tree by our kitchen window. He regularly tries to prove there are at least three different species of birds living in the same tree at the same time. I’ve only glimpsed him once, but he makes himself very evident every day. I’m still waiting for our resident road runner to put in an appearance. He makes his circuit around the house every morning around nine o’clock. That’s one thing I like about living here in the Belen area; we have road runners. Rock Springs is too high in elevation for them and I only saw one the entire 10+ years I lived there. They are such sassy, presumptuous birds, thinking they can match anything on two or four legs and claiming every foot of land their long legs can cover. I like ‘em.
Some piece of heavy equipment just started up down the hill closer to the road. Seth just woke up and clicked on cartoons. Kerra came in and started a cycle on the dishwasher. All normal Saturday activities. I’m glad I found the quietness first.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Those of us who have been raised up in the Church sometimes aren’t fully aware of the inroads Satan has made into changing the truth through influencing the printed Word. It is appalling. New converts have had contaminated bread and meat placed in their hands from their birth. They have been told the old translators were not well enough educated to correctly interpret the passages. Modern scholars do a better job. I even had one man tell me that King James had exerted specific control over how many passages were written, even though he was not involved in the process of translation except to order it and to fund it. He was king, but not extensively educated in the classical languages. Not to mention the fact that Gentile kings were never very well portrayed in the Bible. What’s more, many of the injunctions for moral integrity were not very well followed in the courts of English kings. Surely King James would have eliminated passages on both of those if he had chosen to influence the translation!
Many honest hearts are being left in confusion when the Spirit is leading them toward righteousness but modern translations and ungodly pastors are telling them that following the Spirit isn’t necessary. One thing I’ve noticed: the passages that modern scholars are finding to be “incorrect” or not “properly translated” are nearly always those which teach holiness. Isn’t that a surprise! The more common simple historical or descriptive accounts are seldom “incorrect” I never realized that until it was possible to quickly and easily compare all the versions. It isn’t really enough to simply tell modernists that these new translations are changing the scriptures we need to be able to point out specifics. These sites make it possible to do that.
There are also alternative, older translations that have endeavored to give a word for word interpretation of the original texts. These versions support the KJV almost entirely. The Amplified Version is the one study tool I’ve come to value because it expands on the actual word for word rendition. From my own experience with the Navajo language, I found out that there is no such thing as a word-for-word translation. Too many English words can have multiple meanings in Navajo, and vice versa. The speaker has to be fluent in both languages to truly understand and translate. It is easy to change the meaning of a passage by just using the wrong word. It is a real translation, but it may not follow the essence of the text. This is what is happening where the Word of God is being subtly altered to meet modern philosophies.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
The biggest cultural shock was the way the kids were fed. In Anglo society, young toddlers are given their own high chair and plate—usually prepared ahead of time. School kids and teens are either seated at the table with adults and their own plates or put at another table to the side.
Notah was a toddler then and I was at a loss at where to ‘feed’ him the first few times we ate with Mom. There was no formal table for everyone to sit around. There were a few mini tables made of pieces of plywood or metal laid atop stools or stumps. That was all. Where did I feed my baby? I decided I wouldn’t worry about it and I’d feed him when we got home. I could just give him bites off my plate ’til then.
Then it dawned on me. EVERYONE was doing the same thing. As we all ate Notah toddled around to all his family. Every time he came within reach of a big kid or an adult he had a tidbit handed to him! He got a very well balanced meal. And if he saw something that wasn’t offered to him, he just reached on the plate and took it! I was horrified at his manners, but the teens and adults looked on and chuckled!
What an amazing way to feed babies. Notah was stuffed to his little gills by the time we went home. He was so full and sleepy I hardly got him cleaned up and into his PJ’s before he was asleep—no supplemental food needed, no bottle necessary!
Neither did Mom give the other kids their own plate. The skillet or a plate was put on a low table or stool with a pile of tortillas and everyone sat round that table and ate from the community pot, using pieces of tortilla to scoop up the food. No one gobbled more than their share. No one tried to grab the best pieces. There was very little squabbling about food.
Amazing. Anglo kids would have had a humongous fight. I can just imagine Seth and Keva having to eat that way! One giant argument—“He’s taking all the potatoes!” “Keva grabbed the big piece of meat.” “ I don’t like this! Only fat is left!” “Keva ate all the meat!” “Seth won’t let me have any.” “Seth is feeding the tortillas to the dogs!” I can hear it.
For so many years, the Navajo people lived so much on the edge of want and starvation that they developed almost genetic habits of sharing. If your friend or family had something, you had it too. If you had something that someone needed you shared it with them, no questions asked. Because you knew that probably very soon in the future you would have a need that would have to be supplied by family or friends. Whether it was material or money, it was shared.
I wonder if it is still that way today. I've had to live in the east for many years since Louie died. So I can't be with them as much as I was years ago. Anglo false values and greediness have probably had an impact on those good old habits.
Sunday, May 3, 2009
I remember once when I was visiting Mom in Rock Springs. The kids and I were staying in her little blue house. She was sleeping in the hogan that summer. The window was open and the house was dark except for the lamp that was turned down very low. I happened to look up to see this hand groping through the window, feeling for the radio that was sitting a little to the side of the opening.
“Haa’at’ish ba naaninaa?” I said. “ Daniel sha’? ” a voice answered, obviously more than a little drunk.
“Hola” I told him, ‘Doo hoghandi sida” It was a young guy, evidently one of Daniel’s friends who was probably looking for a place to crash for the night, but saw an opportunity to grab a free radio and just got caught. No maliciousness intended. He wandered off looking for Daniel and I went back to sleep, window still open.
We spent much of our life outside. Mom had a tree in front of her house, between the house and the hogan. For many years, the boys had faithfully dumped water on it and by the time Louie and I were living out there it was a good sized tree. When the kids and I visited Mom after he died the protective fence was gone and Mom put her water barrels and various chairs, stools, and so forth under it. We sat there during the day for much of the summer. One summer there was an old sofa there; another there was a bed under the tree. Sometimes when you went out to sit there, you had to flip the accumulated sand from the last little whirlwind off the old quilt that covered it, but that was okay. Or you just ignored it and sat down anyway. It was just honest sand.
A lot of times in summer we cooked supper out there over an open fire, especially if it had been hot—no sense heating the house up even more than it was. Someone would build a fire about ten feet from the sofa and carry out the stool and the iron drum top out to put on top of it, making a table. Someone one would peel potatoes—usually me—and somebody else would make tortillas—usually Mom. I wasn’t that great at shaping tortillas.
The boys would tend the fire until we had a decent bed of coals and then we’d put a grill over it balanced on four pop cans. The tortillas and meat cooked there directly over the fire. The potatoes in an iron skillet either went there or on a bed of coals at the side. We would sit and talk and watch the kids play, while we flipped the tortillas and watched the meat. The coffee pot sat close up against the coals to cook and keep warm. Once in a while Mom would send one of the boys to get some more wood.
When everything was cooked we sat the skillet on the round drum lid with the tortillas in a basin beside it and the meat piled on a plate there. Adults got a plate and filled it, then cut up the meat in bite sized portions for the kids. We all sat on the chairs and the sofa/bed. The boys sat on stools or stumps around the drum lid and ate. Everyone fed the little kids from their plates, giving them meat or potatoes. with a piece of tortilla wrapped around it. Oh! And I can’t forget the green chilis either roasted over the fire and eaten with the potatoes and meat or just raw, taking bites off the end! I can still taste it all!
After everyone was finished eating, we waited for a kettle of water to boil over the coals while one of the boys took the skillet off to scour with sand and another one filled the basin with hot water and soap. Mom or I would wash the dishes and rinse them with clean water poured over them. We piled them in a big dish pan and sent them in the house with yet another kid. The potato skillet got washed last, filled with the dirty dish water and scrubbed and rinsed, then refilled with warm water and soap and rinsed again. Not too much soap though because that destroys the patina that helps keep food from sticking. The bottom, that had been sitting in the coals, just got a perfunctory scrub with a piece of paper towel or a rag—it was beyond redemption from many, many meals spent sitting on the hot coals.
I love those days, imprinted indelibly on my memory.