Soap Report

After 3 days, we gently took the bars out of their molds. One set of molds had an image of a tree as part of the mold. The other set required a soap stamp and a careful use of a rubber mallet – which produced a very awesome image.

Now the bars need to continue curing for 4 to 6 weeks and rotating the bars every few days before using. However, the book also recommends not using for 10 months!

This was a lot of fun. I am going get some new ingredients and make another type in a week or so. I highly recommend making your own soap.

Transformation

When my father died two months ago, I found myself with an inexplainable need to order some craft books; I ordered three of them in fact: leather crafting, candle making, and soap making. I decided to start with soap making and I got on Amazon to order the supplies I needed. Then I suddenly lost my enthusiasm, feeling tired when getting home from work. Everything sat in a box.

Today, I decided it was time to get into that box and I really enjoyed it too…way more than I anticipated I would. Why? What is that enjoyable about making soap and what did those three crafts have in common? Well, for one thing the essential orange oil did smell very nice. It also felt good to know the ingredients of the cleansers that will eventually be on my skin and the skin of those I love. But, it was something more than those things. I think it was all about transformation and I think it is no coincidence that it was timed with my father’s passing.

Soap making is all about transformation. The lye interacts chemically with distilled water, and that mixture is added to olive oil which turns all of it from liquid to the beginnings of a solid state. While I was doing all this, I kept thinking about the process of transformation and how much I enjoy it. My songwriting hobby is all about transformation, usually starting with one chord and a sense of some kind of rhythm into, eventually, a complete song. Gardening gives me the same joy of transformation…So did making my own batch of beer, which I labeled Jackass before there really was a Jackass label.

Was this need to become more active in transformative hobbies tied to my father? I think so. You see, I have come to believe that the entire message of Jesus’ life was all about transformation- transforming from a physical awareness to a spiritual awareness and existence. It is complicated, but it makes perfect sense in my mind along with eliminating much of the negativity of my religion.

Living almost exactly on the imaginary 40 degree North Latitude line, we experience four distinct seasons every year. Surrounded by rivers, I can watch the salmon come back from their ocean journeys to lay their eggs and start a new transformation cycle. Evidence of transformation surrounds us when we bake a cake, raise children, or even make soap.

I know, I know, who thinks about these things because of making soap? That is what makes me weird, or wise…your choice!

Whoops…Me a Bit of a Hypocrite

Just a short post here to acknowledge all the enlightened things I said in the Simply Beautiful post (the one before this one) came from a hypocrite.

I was driving around Chico, California today, going from crowded store to crowded store, which were full of self-focused, stressed out people. Right from the start, I got cut in front of at a McDonald’s drive thru lane – but I stayed cool and calm.

Later though, some goofy (dang, did it again) some person on a bicycle almost rode right into our car in a crowded parking lot and I made a terrible comment about their appearance. Immediately, I thought about the Simply Beautiful posting.

So I am fessing up, sometimes I can still be Simply Stupid.

But you should have seen this person…

Simply Beautiful

As I have grown older, my appreciation of Simply Beautiful has grown deeper. I suppose it is somewhat related to my own physical appearance. Never having the classic physical attributes of, say, a movie star or male model, I had a more “swarthy” appearance. In the end, I think this was a blessing because as someone once told me their mother once told them, “There is always someone more beautiful than you, more smarter than you.” In other words, it is a game not worth playing.

As I slowly came to accept myself as is and to appreciate my sight, hearing, ability to walk, although with a limp, taste food, smell fresh air and fresh flowers, I also started seeing people differently – their physical appearance was no longer their defining attribute. And, all this took place while I worked in an environment, university, that appears somewhat like the mythical Fountain of Youth – every year a new cohort of 17 and 18 year olds take the place of those ‘old’ 23 and 24 year olds. Also, I am surrounded by human and cultural diversity. It all leads to finally recognizing the eyes really are the light of the soul. I used to have a hard time looking into people’s eyes when talking with them. Now I realize that is about all that matters, not because of color or shape, but because it is a doorway into who they really are. Yes, it is a form of Simply Beautiful.

Simply Beautiful surrounds our lives, through music, acts of kindness and love, poetry, puppies, and in our environment to name just a few things. The color of just one autumn leaf can grab your entire attention, even in the midst of urban chaos. A flower can stop you in your tracks, stop all the endless internal chatter of your mind. And a sunset? Oh my goodness. How its beauty is constantly changing and how just Simply Beautiful.

My wife sent me these two photos of yesterday’s sunset from our front porch. Simply Beautiful, … just like you.