Sunday, February 26, 2012


The menu for a church dinner depends on where it’s held. In the mid-West, it’s usually chili or spaghetti that is served. In Louisiana, folks gather to eat seafood gumbo and Po’ Boy sandwiches. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, stacks of pasties are enjoyed by those who gather around the tables. In Boston, no doubt, baked beans and clam chowder are the main attractions. In north Texas, barbequed ribs are popular.

In south Texas, however, everything, including church dinners, have a Mexican flavor. For over forty years, the little Methodist church we attend in Edcouch, Texas, has annually served a fund-raising dinner of enchiladas made by the members of the congregation.

For all of you non-Texans, perhaps we need to explain the nature of an enchilada. A small tortilla is rolled around one of various fillings: meat, beans, or cheese. The rolled tortilla is then nestled tightly in a pan with others of his kind and they are generously covered with grated cheese and a thick sauce. I suspect that every cook has her own favorite recipe for enchilada sauce including ground meat or refried beans, and tomato sauce, and spices which can vary from bland to three-alarm fire in the mouth! The enchiladas are then baked in the oven until bubbly and served hot with rice and beans, some type of salad and a sweet pastry for dessert.

As you can guess, making enchiladas is labor-intensive. But it’s also fun when it becomes a party! About twenty of us gathered on the appointed Saturday morning in the former fellowship hall of the church. (It and the Sunday School rooms are now rented out to a Head Start program for local children.) Tables had been set up and prepared with coverings of wax paper, stacks of warm tortillas and piles of grated cheese.

We carefully scrubbed our hands, took a seat and began rolling the first of the 3000 enchiladas that would be needed that evening. It’s a simple enough routine but the folks who have been doing it for 35 or forty years have exacting standards for the finished product!

1. Take one warm tortilla. Put a small handful of grated cheese near one end of it. (Don’t use too much cheese or the supply will run out before we reach the magic number!)

2. Gently roll the tortilla around the strip of grated cheese until it is a compact little roll. (If you get in too big a hurry the tortilla may tear and have to be discarded – or eaten. If so, we might run out before the 3000 are prepared.)

3. Lay it tenderly in the prepared pan, lining up exactly nine of your culinary creations in each row. (It has to be nine because each serving at tonight’s feast will be three.)

4. Take a deep breath, and start all over again, and again, and again!

Helpers kept us supplied with warm tortillas, piles of grated cheese, empty pans to replace those we filled, and wax paper so we could stack the finished product in the larger pans. Sometime in mid-morning fresh doughnuts and pastries from the local bakery were passed around.

Before we knew it, we were done. We had rolled about 3000 tortillas, enjoyed several pots of coffee, finished off the doughnuts and pastries, caught up with local news, discussed some church business, admired the homemade pies coming in for the upcoming feast, and begun to set up for the evening’s event.

We’re glad we’ve had the opportunity to learn this new south Texas skill! No doubt it will be invaluable to us in our old age! After several years of experience as described above, our advice to you is this: never roll enchiladas alone. It’s lots more fun in a crowd!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


On our way home from a local shopping trip yesterday, we witnessed the unbelievable! We were northbound in the right lane on a four-lane street, waiting for the light to change from red to green. Traffic was heavy and the lines of vehicles waiting with us were long and closely packed together.

Suddenly, a large old car turned left off the cross street, heading south on our street. With little hesitation, it then turned left again, right into waiting line of vehicles on our left! At a right angle to the direction of the stopped traffic, the car inched its way between the tail of the truck in front to our left and the front of the car stopped beside us. We couldn’t believe our eyes.

The driver continued creeping forward until the nose of his gas guzzler was aimed at our front bumper. His car was now crosswise to our direction of travel. We were close behind the truck in front of us so it was a tight squeeze for the crazy car to get through. Ever so carefully, the dumb and daring driver continued his forward progress between the grill of our truck and the tailgate of the truck ahead. It must have been frustrating because he began to point his finger at us, making stabbing motions, as if to say, "Back off! You didn’t leave me enough room to get through!"

We did not move. We could not move. The vehicle behind us was too close. Besides that, we were in "traffic shock," unable to comprehend what was taking place. We listened for the sound of scraping metal – but it didn’t happen. The driver squeezed past us, blindly crossed the right turn lane, and zipped into the gas station on our right.

All we could do was stare at each other in response to this jaw-dropping traffic maneuver. Then we broke out in the laughter of disbelief. If we hadn’t seen it with our own eyes, we never would have believed that idiots like that would be allowed to drive! (Perhaps the anticipation of encounters like this is why he drives an old clunker.)   A new item for Ripley’s "Believe It or Not."

Sunday, February 19, 2012


I don’t want to sound ungrateful,
Lord, I’m thankful for the rain.
I’m glad to see the flowers bloom
And grass get green again.

The drought is finally broken
As raindrops fall so steady.
But really, don’t You think that it
Has rained enough already?

The drought caused folks to pray for rain.
(Perhaps I’m being petty!)
You answered "Yes" and showers came
For weeks! Enough already!

Our world has turned from dust to mud,
and all we touch is gritty.
Our clothes are damp and clammy.
That’s rain enough already.

Your rain falls on both good and bad
The Good Book tells us so.
But what about Your sunshine?
Oh, how we’d like to know

What we can do to bring it back.
Those rays would make us giddy!
Please send the sun to cheer us up.
We’re soaked enough already!

Thursday, February 9, 2012


They must be at least in their 80s.   Almost everywhere and anytime we go out dancing we see them. They are stately and attractive, neatly and modestly dressed in fashions of several decades ago.   Their faces show the signs of a wisdom gathered over a lifetime.

He is tall and distinguished, a gentleman with manners learned in the days when men opened doors for women and pampered them in other ways.   She is a lady from the top of her perfect hair-do to the soles of her color coordinated shoes.   She wears thick glasses but they cannot hide the smile in her eyes that lights up her whole face.   They are oblivious to the crowded dance floor and the noise of the other dancers as they gaze affectionately into each other’s face.

And, hour after hour, they dance.   In the midst of the dance floor, they waltz, two-step or invent their own steps to the varying rhythms of the music.   Their steps are tiny and their movements sedate, but always faithful to the beat.   They rarely sit out a dance.   When one piece of music ends, they wait patiently on the dance floor in each other’s arms for the next piece to begin.  They seem to have an endless supply of energy for dancing.

One evening she came into the ladies’ room just as I was going out.   I remarked to her how much I enjoyed watching the two of them dance.   She smiled, thanked me, and said, "Yes, we do like to dance."

I went on to express my amazement at the energy and stamina which enabled them to dance every dance without resting.   "Well," she replied, "we’ve been dancing since 8 o’clock this morning, and we do that most days of the week."

I left her presence shaking my head in disbelief.   How do they do it? I am at least ten years younger than they are.   And yet, I get tired and have to sit out a few dances every hour to rest.

I’ve not yet discovered their secret for having endless energy for dancing – or anything else, for that matter!   But research tells us that activity is the key to healthy aging and longevity.   If that is the case, those two may live forever!   I can almost see them dancing right into eternity!