The Memory of Kindness

I once wrote a poem that Kristi stands for kindness but she actually sat together with me on her kitchen bar stools. I am reminded of this kindness as winter approaches, a chill sends us scurrying inside, the darkness forces us to find light and warmth. This is en especially challenging time for caregivers who need reminding to care for themselves. But equally important, to remind others who may have contact with caregivers to take them into your circle. Share with them your kindness. Because kindness has a memory.

Years ago, I was in Seattle caring for my first husband who was undergoing a stem cell transplant. The apartment manager was constantly updating the lobby in order to improve upon not his good fortune, but to light up the lives of those who stayed there. He took a liking to our son and arrived at our door one evening, with a bike and a keyboard, playdough kit and a soccer ball. No one will ever forget the surprised look on my son’s face when he began poking at the keys. Of course, we soon learned how to turn down the sound. But I will remember that look in my son’s caramel apple eyes. He will remember, maybe not the house manager or his name, but the kindness associated with that act. Some day, he will do the same.

Kindness has a memory, I tell myself. That is why I remember Kristi, who sat for hours, listening, probing, caring, while I grieved my husband’s death. She cared for me, when I had completed my task of caring for my husband and couldn’t care a less about myself. She reached out daily to share a hug, a smile, a barstool and candy molds for unmentionables. She is where I went when I didn’t know how to be kind to myself.

I recall the National Family Caregivers Association (http://www.thefamilycaregiver.org/) promoting three tenets of caregiving: Believe in Yourself, Protect Your Health, Reach Out for Help. As much as we would like to think we are empowered to believe, protect and reach out, some days I was just too darned tired to do so. And that is when kindness stepped in. On the days that I couldn’t get out of bed, coffee and donuts arrived at my door and made me believe in living if for that day only. On days when I couldn’t lift a finger in the kitchen, or didn’t care to, kindness arrived like Mary Alice in Desperate Housewives, perfectly timed, perfectly prepared, to protect my health and my son.

Kindness has a memory. Not for specifics, but in my genes, in my cells, I feel a wave of gratitude as I reminisce about the kindness of mere strangers. Perhaps as the caregiver I was not feeling all too empowered to greet up each new morn. But Kristi felt empowered. She knocked and I let her in. And that power translated into energy for me, on days when I needed it the most. I guess that’s why I surround myself from mementos from that time – a rock here, an old phone bill, a picture, a pencil. I even have the bar stool pillow, located out of reach but not out of sight, to remind me the soft landing she offered after my husband died. When I merged with my new family, the bike was outgrown, the soccer ball busted and the playdough had dried to a flake, but the keyboard survived the cut. Occasionally some youngster will begin plunking on the keyboard and the broken hum of hot cross buns in a disco style will send a shot of warmth to my soul.

I believe we are a world waiting for kindness to come in and sit in our kitchen. So we shouldn’t let it get too late before knocking on that door or someone may not rise up in the morn.

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  1. We all know the effects (and after-effects) of beer. But lifting a glass of cool liquid to your mouth on a scorching hot day, have you ever stopped to consider the processes and ingredients involved in making it? Well maybe not but here is the answer anyway!Simply, beer is a fermented combination of water, barley, yeast and hops. The major variation in any beer is the type of yeast used in the fermentation process.Let’s look at the properties of this beverage.Water is the main ingredient of beer. In the past, the purity of the water influenced the final result and was specific to the region of the earth from which it came. Today, water is filtered of these impurities, although pure water supplies are still ideally preferred by elite brewers.Barley malt is an extremely important ingredient in beer as it is the main source of fermentable sugar. Many new breweries use barley malt extract, in either syrup or powder form, as this form ferments much quicker. It also contains many minerals and vitamins that help the yeast to grow.Without yeast, beer would not exist. Yeast is a unique single cell organism that eats sugar and expels alcohol and carbon dioxide, two of the more recognizable ingredients of beer. Yeast comes in several variations, of which there are two major categories that determine the type of beer produced; Ale yeast and Lager yeast. If yeast alone were used the beer would be extremely sweet and therefore another ingredient needs to be added to reach the final product.Hops are the flowers of the hop plant, a climbing vine plant that grows well in many differing climates. Hops contain acids which add bitterness to beer. Adding bitterness to beer helps to balance the sweetness, as well as acting as a natural preservative. Add more hops to the mixture and you will get a more bitter taste. This kind of beer is extremely popular in Britian and is simply referred to as “Bitter” (the original names are always the best!).Variations of these ingredients create different tasting beers as well as having an affect on the alcoholic content.When making your own beer many good resources are available which provide home brewing kits. It is important to read the ingredients of the packets in order to ascertain which has the best mixture according to your needs. One quick tip which many home brewers fail to adhere to is this: “Use fresh still water”!Many have often sought information on how to make beer and the basic homebrewing equipment is not very expensive you can get what you need, for as little as $100.In order to start making beer, you will need the following: A brewpot, Primary fermenter, Airlock and stopper, Bottling bucket, Bottles, Bottle brush, Bottle capper, and a thermometer.In addition you can even use items from your kitchen to aid in the beer making. A breakdown of all the equipment is as follows: Brewpot A brewpot is made of stainless steel or enamel-coated metal which has at least 15 litre capacity, but it’s no good if it’s made of aluminum or if it’s a chipped enamelized pot, (these will make the beer taste funny). The brew pot is used to boil the ingredients thus begins the first stage of beer making.Primary fermenterThe primary fermenter is where the beer begins to ferment and become that fabulous stuff that makes you so funny and charming. The primary fermenter must have a minimum capacity of 26 litres and an air tight seal it must also accommodate the airlock and rubber stopper. Make sure the one you buy is made of food-grade plastic, as it wont allow the bad stuff in or let the good stuff out.Airlock and stopperThe airlock is a handy gadget which allows carbon dioxide to escape from your primary fermenter during fermentation, it is this process that keeps it from exploding, but it doesn’t allow any of the bad air from outside to enter. It fits into a rubber stopper, and is placed into the top of your primary fermenter. The stoppers are numbered according to size, so make sure you use the correct stopper for the correct holePlastic hoseThis is a food grade plastic hose which measures approximately 5 feet in length. It is needed to transfer the beer from system to system, and it is imperitive that it is kept clean and free from damage or clogsBottling bucketThis is a large, food-grade plastic bucket with a tap for drawing water at the bottom, it needs to be as big as your primary fermenter, because you need the capacity to pour all the liquid from your primary fermenter into a bottling bucket prior to bottling up.BottlesAfter fermentation, you place the beer in bottles for secondary fermentation and storage. You need enough bottles to hold all the beer you’re going to make, the best kind of bottles are solid glass ones with smooth tops (not the twist-off kind) that will accept a cap from a bottle capper. You can use plastic ones with screw-on lids, but they arent as good for fermentation and dont look as well.Whether you use glass or plastic bottles, make sure they are dark-colored. Light damages beer, i would recommend green or brown bottles.Bottle brushThis is a thin, curvy brush which is used to clean bottles because of the the shape of the brush it makes it very affective at getting the bottle spotless. We haven’t even gotten into how clean everything has to be, but we will, and the bottle brush is a specialized bit of cleaning equipment that you will require in order to maintain your bottle kit.Bottle capperIf you take buy glass bottles, you will need some sort of bottle capper and caps, of course, and you can buy them from any brewing supplies store. The best sort of bottle capper is one which can be affixed to a surface and worked with one hand while you hold the bottle with the other.ThermometerThis is a thermometer which can be stuck to the side of your fermenter, they are just thin strips of plastic which are self adhesive, and can be found in any brewing supplies store, or from a pet shop or aquarium. Not everything costs money though even some household equipment can be used.Household itemsIn addition to the above specialized equipment, you will need the following household items:* Small bowl* Saucepan* Rubber spatula* Oven mitts/pot handlers* Big mixing spoon (stainless steel or plastic)So there you have the ingredients and the method to make your home brew, all you need now is to get yourself a beer making kit and your on the way to beer heaven. < HREF="http://www.marios-bar.com/bar-stools.html" REL="nofollow">bar stool<>

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