Tag Archives: Community

Young Ben’s Soldier

Young Ben

Young Ben

Benjamin Thomas Powell, 11, is a 6th grader in Middle School at Blue Ridge.

Ben has a ready smile, a lot of enthusiasm, that’s in fact quite infectious, and he especially loves soccer; Ben even likes school, every subject, but especially science.

Recently, he went with his Mom, Suzanne and Father, Brent, to the Olive Garden Restaurant in Sterling.

It was busy that evening and so they sat at the bar; Ben was laughing, consuming lasagna with abandon, “having a good time,” Ben said, and talking up a storm with his Mom and Dad.

Unbeknownst to Ben, there was a young marine back from service in Iraq, dining with his family at the same restaurant.

We live in a time when persons talk about community and connectedness but are inclined in their day to day life to act only selfishly, on behalf of themselves, turned increasingly inward, mirroring what our technologies say about us, i-Phones, i-Pads, i-Tunes, i-Pods, all about about I, and so much less than when it used to be about “us” about “we” as a community of people.

But this young soldier, in his late 20s, had seen things this family at Olive Garden had not, and perhaps Ben, if he’s lucky, never will, and it affected this young marine.

He happened to tell Ben’s father, “I picked up your check.”

Brent asked, “Why would you do that?” Continue reading

Gratitude, Community, and Eating Fresh/Eating Local

Two of the contributors to this site, Epluribusunum and Pariahdog, came over to our house for dinner Friday. And they brought with them a dozen eggs that had been laid by their very own chickens that very day. The eggs were things of beauty, all different colors and sizes. Most of them were a pastel blue. And Stevens and I and our son ate our way greedily through most of them over the weekend (as I write this there are 5 left).

Really fresh eggs

Honest-to-goodness fresh eggs from real chickens.


This is what I did with three of the eggs.

I mixed them with flour, yeast, salt, honey, and milk into a dough. Then I set the dough into a greased bowl to rise.


Dough in a bowl

Letting the dough rise


When it had risen for two hours, and was doubled in size, I punched it down, divided it in three equal portions (yes, I weighed it, I’m a geek), made them into balls and let them rest for 15 minutes.

Then I made each ball into a long rope and braided them together.


Dough Braid

Dough braided together.


Then I let it rest for another thirty minutes while the oven preheated to 375.

I brushed it with a mixture of egg yolk and water, and put it in the oven for 40 minutes.

When it came out of the oven, it looked like this:



Beautiful Challah Bread


Looks delicious, doesn’t it? And the picture doesn’t do the flavor justice. YUM.


Better than the bread, better even than the eggs, was the intense, fun, and unfailingly interesting conversation that we shared Friday night over dinner, and late into the night.

My dear friends, I am so grateful for the eggs, but way more than that, I am grateful for your friendship.