Tag Archives: questions

Pavlova Meditation


Some cakes I can bang out in under 3 minutes: measure, dump, stir, oil tin, whack in oven. But pavlovas tend to be a more meditative experience. Incredibly simple, only 2 ingredients for the actual pav (and really, you should call it a pav, it’s what we Aussies call it and it’s our unofficial dessert*), but with 2 double handfuls of opportunity to drift off into hushed dreams and gentle musings. Even when I’m in a rush to make one, I’m always side-tracked by the odd thought as I make the gorgeous meringue deliciousness.

Pavs are astoundingly easy to make, and hugely impressive as a dessert. The fact that they are a luscious confound of sweet, light, chewy and melting, let along the ability to dress up elegant or slouch for a casual event, makes it even more worth the simple (and wonderfully hands free) process. The meditation/daydreaming is an extra delight.

You can make pav with a handheld mixer, but a stand mixer is best, with a whisk attachment.  You will need 4 egg whites (make sure there’s no egg yolk lurking in there), 1 cup of fine sugar (not confectioners or icing sugar – caster or white sugar’s fine, brown sugar is a lovely choice too) and that’s it for the actual pav. Seriously, just those ingredients. The decoration on top comes later and is totally up to your own preferences.

So, toss the egg whites into the stand mixer or bowl, and start whipping on medium speed. When they start to thicken just enough to see the beater marks left behind, add in a quarter cup of sugar.  Meditation prompt: How on earth is this going to make a decent dessert? Think about other messes that turned out well.  Mmmm, good desserts… remember great desserts of stomachs past. Continue reading Pavlova Meditation

There is Room to Ask: How, What, and Why

“In the Church, we want everyone to feel welcome, safe, and valued, and of course, there is room to ask questions. But how we ask is just as important as what we ask.”
–Ally Isom

In this statement regarding communication in the Church, Ally Isom makes a distinction between the “how” of questioning and the “what.” To begin with, I’d like to address the interpretation that what we ask or say is less important than whether the message conforms to a contextually appropriate how. Most people, I think, can feel the untruth of this. As one friend put it, “Saying it sweetly don’t mean you’re sweet.” Some refer to this as the “bless your heart” phenomenon—the idea that linguistic venom can somehow be alleviated by adding a little semantic sugar. But even under sugar, bitterness can still be tasted. The what matters, and being sweetly or jokingly mean is still being mean.

The second aspect of Isom’s statement, the how, has frequently been reduced to one word: tone. Often, tone is understood to mean the emotional characteristic of voice, either written or spoken—whether we sound happy, upset, depressed, angry, contemplative. Some may also understand it as referring to register—formal, casual, direct, etc. (speaking differently with our friends than we do with our boss or colleagues or our children). Tone can also involve language features such as word stress, pitch, volume, and speech rate, all of which contribute to meaning.

In all of these instances, tone is an aspect of pragmatics, which is a branch of linguistic study dedicated to explaining “how language users are able to use context to interpret utterances, to ‘do’ things with words, and to ‘say’ things without actually uttering them” (Parker & Riley; emphasis added). Continue reading There is Room to Ask: How, What, and Why

Rhetorical Questions

Questions to ruminate over

Have you cut your hay where you had no right to or turned your animals into another person’s grain or field, without his knowledge or consent?

Have you branded an animal that you did not know to be your own?

Do you wash your body and have your family do so as often as health and cleanliness require and circumstances will permit?

During the Mormon Reformation era of 1856-57, church leaders devised a catechism of questions asked of apostles, bishops, missionaries and regular church members to discover areas of personal attitudes and behavior that could use improvement. These were among the questions asked. These soul-searching questions and others designed to measure spiritual and behavioral commitment to the church had an influence on our contemporary temple recommend interviews.

I renewed my temple recommend this past week, and the experience caused me some useful introspection. Continue reading Rhetorical Questions


Today’s UP CLOSE piece is by Emily Falke.  Emily lives near Austin, Texas with her fantastic little family consisting of her husband, her daughter, and their really big dog.  She relishes the sweet busyness of home life, and she quilts and tutors in her spare time.  She blogs at www.memoirsofmotherhood.wordpress.com.

Two little blue lines on a little white stick. Just two little lines, and one little stick, but with far-reaching consequences.

And questions.

There was the beginning. Is it the right time for us to try? Could we handle it if I got pregnant right away? The answer came: “Can you ever handle it?” Continue reading Questions

Rock the Boat (don’t tip the boat over…)

You know how you can pinpoint the exact place and time you were when you learned about the events on September 11th? Certain days become frozen in time; indelible impressions that mark a change. On 9-11 I was leaving to shop for a washing machine. My in-laws were visiting. My mother-in-law was upstairs ironing. There aren’t many events in life that leave impressions as unforgettable as this one was for me. There comes the realization that something horrible is happening—that forms the lump in your throat; the pit in your stomach: The thing that rocks your boat.
Continue reading Rock the Boat (don’t tip the boat over…)