Finding Green or “#findinggreen”

For this ending of March/ beginning of April, Betony and are heading to Iceland. We’ll be celebrating our 10 year anniversary and will, of course, be posting lots of pictures of the adventure.

In keeping with our March Almanac we’ll be tagging those photos with #findinggreen. Because, hey, it’s spring in Iceland too!

Would you like to join us in this hashtag? Imagine how beautiful to go to the tag and see dozens of pictures of spring bursting forth!

Follow Betony on her instagram (betonycoons) if you’d like to see our photos and we look forward to seeing your all’s pictures as well.

 

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“Why We are going to Iceland” or The Table, the Synagogue, and the Pilgrimage

In the past few weeks as we tell people we are going to Iceland for our 10 year anniversary we get two reactions. The first is the usual excitement over a big trip. The second is confusion settling in.

“Why in the world would you want to go to Iceland?”

It’s a great question. And my answer is fairly unrefined and open. But I wanted to share it here.

It’s not about Iceland.

The place and trip really is secondary in our minds.

Really, Betony asked me if there was any place significant and meaningful I wanted to go for this big 10 year marker. I couldn’t think of anyplace. I gave a half-thought answer, “I’ve always wanted to try and see the northern lights”. That’s all it took. She started looking up Iceland travels and seeing how stark and beautiful the country is.

No, it’s not about Iceland. This trip is first about the importance of having a marker, a large gesture, to celebrate and recognize this point in our relationship.

Because I’d honestly be just as happy to have a week-long jaunt in Denver with my wife. But I completely recognize this: It’s important to tell a great story. And it’s important to have a grander gesture for the grander moments in our lives.

For example, I didn’t want to go to my college graduation. My parents made me and I’m so happy I have the memory of that weekend with them.

And I’d have been happy to elope with a couple friends. I’m so glad our wedding was a spectacular affair with friend and family surrounding us.

In my life I want to make sure and do this. I want to take the time, energy, finances and celebrate things right. When we do this it creates alters and markers in our minds of the important event. It creates a place we can return to that is large and grand in our memories. It’s a bright past that propels us forward when we need the reminder.

The writer Phyllis Tickle writes and talks about the rhythms of family. It’s in our rhythms that our values are passed to our children and we live out what we believe. She points out three major rhythms, putting it this way:

The Table: it’s where we daily gather together, pray, break bread, share stories
The Synagogue: is where we weekly lean on each other, encounter God, talk about the most important things
The Pilgrimage: is the great trip to Jerusalem, done yearly or only a few times in a lifetime, the unifying event

As I process taking this trip to Iceland with my wife, I’m thinking of it as a Pilgrimage.

It’s something you only once in a lifetime. It’s to celebrate this woman I love so deeply. It’s to create bright memories that I can return to when the path forward gets difficult.

That’s my answer. That’s why we’re going to Iceland.

 

 

 

 

POEM by Spoken Word Artist Dale Fredrickson

New Growth

Through winter nights,

I brave barren heart;

slowing down finding myself in shadows,

shedding all parts within me past spent,

sitting in silence mounded by sorrows.

 

Frozen dirt stubborn,

I yearn for spring’s mysterious garden;

It’s secrets breaking through frosty harden.

 

Snowdrifts melting —

the gardener within me begins again:

 

God lives on the edges of spring’s daylight.

warming frozen dirt, breathing new life,

cultivating daring dreams, fresh insight,

building trellises where community thrives.

Dirt softens spring pushes through —

I burst with renewed joy and delight,

flourishing gardens growing within heart,

fresh gripping roots of purpose for this life,

found in this hope, sowing seeds now my part

FREE Download! Art from Kelly Cook!

Kelly Cook is our featured artist for this month!

Bio:  Kelly Cook grew up in Wyoming where she learned to appreciate quiet days and big empty spaces. Recently she has found her place in art, restoring broken things. She loves to recycle … One man’s junk into another man’s treasure. Most of her paintings and drawings are done on something that needed to be alive again, like old book pages and four panel doors.

She lives and works in Greeley Colorado, with her author husband Jeff Cook, her sons Augie age 9 and Beckett age 7. It’s an honor to work with Tim and Betony on this project, wondering what it would be like to be a giant… And knowing what it is like to be a pilgrim. You can find her work at Cookstah.etsy.com

Kelly has added a special surprise to her artwork, that will only be revealed when you download it from giantsandpilgrims.com this month.

[purchase_link id=”408″ style=”button” color=”white” text=”  Download”]

(Note: click the download button, then the purchase button – it will be $0.00, then click “download now” to get the high resolution file)

See more of Kelly’s work at her etsy shop – https://www.etsy.com/shop/Cookstah

 

 

A Collection of St. Patricks Day Blessings and Toasts

Here’s to your health!
You make age curious,
Time furious, and all of us envious.

The health of the salmon to you:
a long life, a full heart and a wet mouth!

-Irish

To your good health, old friend,
may you live for a thousand years,
and I be there to count them.

-Robert Smith Surtees

Success attend St. Patrick’s fist,
For he’s a saint so clever;
Oh! he give the snakes and toads a twist,
He banished them forever.

Who’d care to be a bee and sip
Sweet honey from the flower’s lip
When he might be a fly and steer
Head first into a can of beer?

Ale’s a strong wrestler,
Flings all it hath met;
And makes the ground slippery,
Though it not be wet.

Here’s a health to the future;
A sigh for the past;
We can love and remember,
And hope to the last,
And for all the base lies
That the almanacs hold
While there’s love in the heart,
We can never grow old.

May you enter heaven late.

Come in the evening, or come in the morning,
Come when you are looked for, or come without warning,
A thousand welcomes you will find here before you,
And the oftener you come here the more I’ll adore you.

-Irish

Here’s to Dan Cupid, the little squirt,
He’s lost his pants, he’s lost his shirt,
He’s lost most everything but his aim,
Which shows that love is a losing game.

Here’s to fertility-
the toast of agriculture and the bane of love.

I drink to your charm, your beauty and your brains-
which gives you a rough idea of how hard up I am for a drink.

-Groucho Marx

I love you more than yesterday, less than tomorrow.

Say it with flowers
Say it with eats,
Say it with kisses,
Say it with sweets,
Say it with jewelry,
Say it with drink,
But always be careful
Not to say it with ink.

The love you give away is the only love you keep.

-Elbert Hubbard

Eat, drink and be merry
for tomorrow you diet.

May you always have red-eye gravy with your ham,
hush puppies with your catfish,
and the good sense not to argue with your wife.

-Toast From Tennessee, quoted by Timothy Noah in the New Republic

To Mom’s cooking:
May my wife never find out how bad it really was.

To soup: May it be seen and not heard.

March Recipe: Shepherd’s Pie

We’ve crafted a tradition for the last several years for our St. Patrick’s Day celebration. We ask people to bring a poem, a song, or an Irish joke.
Over appetizers and drinks we sing, speak, and laugh together before
the big meal. 

As fun as this is, it’s never the highlight of the evening. Betony makes an incredible spread for our celebration: soda bread, corned-beef and cabbage, irish desserts… But the star is her Shepherd’s Pie. It’s a good one.

-Tim 

For the potatoes:

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 ounces unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk

For the meat filling:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb (or ground beef)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving. – Adapted from Alton Brown

 

 

March Playlist: Luck of the Irish

Each month for our Almanac we do a playlist or two of song collections. This is music to center you deeply in the season. Here we present two playlists for the week of St. Patricks Day. The first we put together. The second is crowd sourced from Facebook suggestions!

You can hear the toasting, raucous singing, and feet stomping on the floorboards of the local tavern in this first list of Irish songs. So, Erin Go Bragh! (translated- Ireland forever!)

 Live from Matt Molloy’s Pub • The Chieftains
The Sick Bed of Cuchulainn • The Pogues
Drunken Lullabies • Flogging Molly
Lord, Blow the Moon Out • HEM
Drink the Night Away • Gaelic Storm
Beer, Beer, Beer • The Clancy Brothers & The Dubliners
I’m Shipping Up to Boston • Dropkick Murphys
Sally MacLennane • The Pogues
Jessie Smith • Alasdair Fraser & Jody Stecher
There Were Roses • Moloney O’Connell & Keane
Danny Boy • Celtic Woman
Over the Moor to Maggie • Arty McGlynn & Matt Malloy

Here’s the collection people of the Facebook-land suggested. There were lots of band  and songs given and we’re making an extensive playlist for it. Look up Betony Coons on spotify to follow it!

I’ll Tell Me Ma * The Chieftains
The Parting Glass * Glen Hansard
Bold Riley * Traditional
The Rocky Road to Dublin * Dropkick Murphys
Bothy Band * Solas
Whiskey in a Jar *
The Unicorn Song *
Goodbye Mursheen Durkin *
The Foggy Dew * Sinead O’Connor & The Chieftains
Irish Rover * Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers
Finnegans Wake * Darby O’Gill
The Parting Glass * Wailing Jennys
The Valley of Strathmore * Silly Wizard