Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hanukkah Day Eight 2011

Hanukkah Day Eight - 2011

The last day of Hanukkah came with even more snow and we watch the growing piles and snowdrifts with a bit of fear and trepidation.  Today we planned to have company for dinner and that required us to go forth from our cozy little "Nest" and drive to the supermarket.  Not such a big deal on an ordinary day as we live little more than a couple of miles away, but with icy roads to navigate the task becomes a little more than ordinary.  

There are two routes from our place to the main road.  Both of them require us to make it up an incline to the stop sign before turning onto the highway.  If we're forced to stop short because of traffic ahead of us, the question stands as to whether we'll be able to get going again.  If we use our momentum coming up the hill to get us to the stop sign, the equally important question at the top is whether or not we'll be able to stop AT the stop sign.  Both concerns weigh almost equally on us no matter which route we chose to take so going anywhere in this snow is no small matter for us.  

To make matters even more interesting, just getting the truck out of it's parking space can be a little bit daunting depending on where and how the snow has drifted.  We have a narrow run between our rig and a large fence to navigate.  There's no room for fast moves or any kind of "craziness".  There's also almost no more room for snow as we try to find places to shovel it aside.  However, in the end, we did manage to get to the store and back without incident and dinner was on as planned.  

One of our friends brought Challah bread that he had baked himself especially for this occasion and our other friends brought pumpkin pie and whipped cream.  We shared a nice angel hair spaghetti dinner and the story of Hanukkah and then enjoyed watching the candles burn down on the last day of our holiday with our new friends.  

One of the things that has intrigued me the most about our Torah life and celebrations of the feasts and festivals given to us by YHVH Elohim has been the importance of food to fellowship.  Sharing meals with friends and family is so much a part of the human experience and it's easy to forget that this is the way that our FATHER has seen fit for us to share fellowship with HIM also.  If you do a word study on the Scriptures just on the words, "bread and wine", you come away with a very different picture of HIS idea of "table fellowship".  Bread always tastes so much better when it's shared with others, don't you think?

Happy Hanukkah!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Hanukkah Day Seven ** 2011

Hanukkah Day Seven - 2011
This morning we woke to even more snow and it was beautiful to behold.  Alaska, or maybe it's just Homer, seems to take the business of clearing the roads not too seriously.  This snow required plowing, but ofttimes, there's just some small effort to put out some sand and little else.  The roads are never plowed to the pavement and no one seems to mind.  

I've eavesdropped on more than one conversation about tire chains and studded tires, but there's no consensus that they're really necessary to get through the winter here.  People with four wheel drive seem to put a great deal of faith in that, but for the most part, people drive without anything beyond all weather tires.  

We don't have four wheel drive, tire chains or studs and our winter driving skills are a bit rusty, but we're doing okay.  My biggest challenge occurred in a school parking lot that was coated with ice.  I had backed into a parking space with my rear wheels up against the parking curb.  When I came out to go home, I couldn't pull out of the space.  My wheels were just spinning uselessly on the ice and I couldn't back up because of the curb.  

This is where you need to pull out your handy dandy shovel and bucket of sand, but of course, this isn't a part of my gear.  As I considered this problem, I noticed that my floor mats were full of sand and gravel since cleaning the truck hasn't been a priority lately.  I thought that I might get enough from there to gain some traction.  Pulling out the floor mat revealed only a little sand but it gave me enough light to think to just throw the mat down on the ground in front of the tire.  

That worked very well and my problem was solved and YES!! for all you guys out there who are wondering....I did stop and pick up my floor mat and put it back into the truck.  Besides, who knows when I might need it again to get out of a jam!   

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Hanukkah Day Six

Hanukkah Day Six - 2011
The sixth day of Hanukkah came with quite a bit of snow.  It was good for us that we didn't have to go out anywhere further than necessary to satisfy Ariela's needs and I say "we" more out of sympathy than reality as DannyLee is my hero in this regard.  He's the one that is most apt to be at the other end of her leash much to her delight.  

She seems to have gotten used to the feel of snow and ice on her feet and has learned to do "her business" quickly and then make a mad dash for home with her tail waving smartly.  Their last trip before bed brought them both back frosted with snow from head to toe.  I had to laugh at the sight of them though DannyLee wasn't finding it all that funny.  

We have "officially" passed over the winter equinox and I say that somewhat "tongue in cheek" as there's a bit of confusion on my part as to what day actually constituted the exact time that this happened.  I'm used to the date being December 21st, but the Anchorage paper reported that here in Alaska, it's more like the 23rd.  No matter.  The good news is that our days from here on out will be getting longer.

In Homer, we never did reach the point where it was dark for an entire day.  The sun always managed to find it's way over the tops of the mountain peaks to the south of us at least for a short time.  While I enjoyed the summer days where it stayed light almost 24 hours, I'm not sure I would really enjoy 24 hours of darkness.  I have enough trouble trying to keep my days straight as it is.  

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Hanukkah Day Five - 2011

Hanukkah Day Five - 2011
These are our "new" Hanukkah candles.  While they lack the personal touch of "Danny's Hands", the light they give warms our hearts as we are able to continue celebrating this year's Feast of Dedication.  It was very sad, the last few days, to think that we might find ourselves unable to complete the festival.  Our hearts are much lighter this evening as we watch the candles burning once again.  

There is much for us to contemplate this evening as we had listened to an interesting teaching on Friday evening.  Eddie Chumney was the surprise guest teacher on Lion & Lamb's weekly Torah broadcast.   He brought out a very intriguing overview of the importance of Hanukkah for those of us that are carefully watching and waiting for the return of our Messiah and King, Yeshua Ha'Mashiach.  

As he contrasted the events that led up to the revolt headed by the Maccabees with the news items that are front and center in the assault on believers today, our hearts ached with yet another confirmation of the days and times that we live in.  

He listed the "evil decrees" put forth by Antiochus Epiphanies and pointed out the blatant similarities to the religious practices embraced by many today.  These decrees included bans on studying Torah, honoring Shabbat and the other appointed Feasts of YHVH and the ritual of circumcision. He required the eating and public sacrifice on YHVH's altar of unclean animals, namely, pigs, and that all people would follow the laws and customs of the Hellenistic Greeks abandoning any and all other forms of worship and government.  

As we move closer to the Tribulation events, those of us that find ourselves alone and set apart in a world that hates us because it hated HIM, will find ourselves targeted by many that call themselves "believers".  The thought is sobering and we struggle to focus our hearts on what must lie beyond those events when we are gathered with HIM into HIS Kingdom in Yerushalyem.  

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hanukkah Day Four

Hanukkah Day Four - 2011
With one day left to solve our candle wick problem, we sat together on the bed and tried to think of options.  I had a vague idea from the candle wick recipes that maybe we could use melted wax to "prime" the wicking material that I had stripped the zinc wire from and get it to burn correctly.  We had plenty of wax from the candle making kit that we could use for this attempt.  The problem was in finding an appropriate container for melting wax.  The RV life doesn't lend itself well to having things like old pans or other such containers tucked into the back of anywhere.  

DannyLee came up with the idea of using birthday candles and that gave me the idea of using them as the core for our honeycomb beeswax candles.  This would solve our wick problem and look beautiful too!  The only question was if the two different types of wax would actually work together or somehow melt apart making another mess.  

We once again set off on a mission to visit the Salvation Army in search of an old pan for melting wax and to find birthday candles at our new favorite hardware store.  A quick search of the Salvation Army store came up empty and we left there "sans a pan".  While I'm definitely in need of new pans, buying them at this point just isn't in the budget so the idea of melting wax moved to the backseat.  It looked like birthday candles were our only option at this point.  

Heading to the hardware store or any store at this time of the year is an exercise in restraint.  Both of us have struggled with the long and difficult process of extracting ourselves from the miry clay of religious traditions and social customs that are in direct opposition to being in a close relationship with our FATHER YHVH Elohim and MESSIAH Yeshua.  We still struggle with an appropriate response to those that cling to such things.  We find it far easier to avoid going anywhere so as not to cause offense to others even as we struggle to try not to be offended.   We steeled ourselves for another unwanted trek into "shopping hell".  

Slipping in the back door of the hardware store to avoid the "ringers of bells" at the front, we headed over to the greeting card/party section of the store.  Here we found several options in birthday candles that just might work to solve our wick problem.  Turning to head for the registers, we found ourselves face to face with...........LO and BEHOLD!!....a Hanukkah display that had one box of small candles, one box of larger candles, several sets of hanukkiahs and various kinds of decorations for the holiday.  

YAY!!!  Problem solved!!  We grabbed the box of small candles and headed to check-out.  After paying a small price ($1.99) for our candles, we headed home with a sigh of relief.  It was time to hunker down for a long quiet weekend!  

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hanukkah Day Three

Hanukkah Day Three - 2011
A quick search of the internet revealed various "recipes" for candle wicks.  One variable that came up in each version was the amount of soaking and drying time required to make wicks.  Some required hours, others days, and a few even longer.  Having only two days before my candle supply would run out, I wasn't up for experimenting.  

The other hitch was a similarity that all of the recipes shared, the need for "boric acid".  I'm not much for chemistry experiments.  Especially during the winter months where we live in an enclosed space with limited ventilation.  I'm not familiar with boric acid or why it would be necessary to make a candle wick and a quick call to the local pharmacy wasn't encouraging.

They didn't have any and suggested another place as it's mainly used to kill ants.  Playing around with something used to kill other living things isn't my idea of fun or a viable option.  It was back to the drawing board!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Best-made Plans - Hanukkah Day Two

Hanukkah Day 2 - 2011
Today we went off in search of candle wick in our little town of Homer.  There weren't a lot of places to look.  We were scrambling to think of anything that could be used as an alternative.  I even tried lighting various bits of pieces of string and linen cloth on fire to find another way.  No luck with any of that!  

We started with the most obvious place which is a hardware store that far exceeds the simple basics of hardware.  They even play host to a quilting/fabric shop tucked in a far back corner to my surprise and delight.  Tucked in a corner of this back corner, a surprised and  perplexed store clerk led us to 3 reels of candle wick tucked onto a high shelf on the back wall.  He also had no idea that such an item was carried in their establishment.

After carefully reading the labels on all three reels, I finally made a selection.  My new concern was that all of the wicking material had a zinc wire at the core.  This didn't seem to be a particularly healthy burning material and I was not too keen on this, but need drove us to give it a try.  

We went home and started rolling up more candles with the new wicks.  The wire core made the job much easier, but that didn't work out to our advantage.  

Lighting our candles on Day Two presented a very unhappy and unpredictable result.  As the candle burned, the wire heated up and coiled itself into a circular pattern that ripped through the side of the candle causing wax to spill and the candles to melt haphazardly.  It was quite obvious that the candle wick was not right for this job at all.  

In a flash of "brilliance", I decided to try pulling the wire out of the wick on the other candles that we had already made.  This simply took away the function of the candle wick and the remaining string only burned to the top of the candle and went out.  

It was back to the drawing board on how to get more candle wicks.  We had enough of the original candle wick to get through Day Three and Day Four, but timing was working against us with the season.  I started searching for instructions on how to make candle wicks, but that's a story for another day......

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hanukkah - Alaskan-style!

Although Hanukkah is not one of YHVH Elohim's commanded feasts, it is a feast that we know our Messiah Yeshua celebrated during His life.  (John 10:22)  Following the traditions that have been handed down to us from our "fathers" has been a long, difficult and ofttimes, painful process of sorting out what is right, what is totally wrong and what really adds nothing to our walk before our FATHER.  Following in the footsteps of our Messiah, helps to simplify at least some of the confusion we have about how to keep all of the feasts.  Our Hanukkah is a simple celebration as we find ways to make our own traditions.

Danny's Hands

Here you can see DannyLee making the little candles for our Hanukiah.  This is our first attempt at making our own candles so we bought a candle making kit.  The little kit came with an instruction booklet, 8 sheets of beeswax and a minimal amount of candle wick - very minimal!  We only had enough wick to make 14 candles, far short of the 44 it would take for all eight nights of Hanukkah.  

Not quite up to the faith levels of our brothers, the Maccabees,  we found ourselves setting off on a search for more candle wick, but that's a story for another day.  Fourteen candles are plenty enough to get our holiday off to a great start.  Here you can see the first day of our Hanukkah lights!  

Hanukkah Day 1 - 2011