A Poem from Long Ago: “For You, Mom, On Your Brother’s Death”

My uncle Nathan, my mother’s brother, would have been 70 this month. He was only 40 when he died in 1988. Sad and shocked, I wrote this poem for my Mom at the time and it was part of his memorial service.  Just today, I found it while browsing through old files from my Dad’s computer; it is sweet that he kept the poem all these years.

For You, Mom, On Your Brother’s Death

Love, the wind, God, memories:
all intangible,
all to be touched with
thoughts and feelings,
not with fingers.

All so precious:
lives, souls, people.
Does one quit existing
when the breath is gone
     or
simply become an intangible,
touchable with thoughts,
with feelings,
like the wind?

Can we not summon Nathan
by thinking of him?
Is he not crystallized
into being in those
vignettes of him that
we remember?

Isn’t he still the same young
man who made
risqué remarks about the
pantaloons on my
doll Elizabeth,
because I remember
him that way?

Won’t I make a present
of a never-known great-uncle
Nathan
to my children by
conjuring his image,
remembering him that way?


With the wisdom of hindsight, I wish I had spent more time talking with my Mom while she was still alive about how she dealt with her brother’s death. I didn’t know then that I would also lose a younger brother while in my 40s.

Nathan and Steve 1966
Nathan holding my brother Steve; both would die young but leave lasting memories and wonderful children

Reading this (clumsy) early poem of mine again in the wake of my Dad’s death just six weeks ago, I still feel the same way about touching the intangibles, conjuring the images of the loved ones through stories and memories.  My Dad is sitting on my shoulder right now, next to my Mom.

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My Mom, her brother Nathan, and me, 1966; shocking to see that cigarette
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A cocky young Nathan while he was at Texas A&M Galveston earning his degree in Marine Transportation

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Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Hey 19! Joy, Friendship and Future, All in a Few Frames

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Just getting started: our kids are colorful, but the “Welcome to Colorful Colorado” sign is brown…hmmmm…

Hey there, Glover Gardens followers, you might or might not know that this week, I’ve had the distinct privilege and pleasure of being in Southwest Colorado with three 19-year-olds from the University of Texas.  One of them is my son, known in the blog as “our last millennial” or the “Jazz Composition Major at UT”.

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Our last millennial, the jazz musician

Our “last millennial” wanted to visit  our Colorado cabin, Little House in the Rockies, with his two (amazing, marvelous, smart, pretty and nice) friends, but didn’t know the inner workings of our tiny cabin, so – presto! – I got an invitation to come with them.  I’ve been joking that I’m here because of a lot of C-words…car, chauffeur, cooking, cleaning, cash…but that’s not really the case. In fact, when I sprung the C-word theory on them, they chimed in with “charming, charisma, character, creative, culinary, courageous” … (although it might have been me that contributed a couple of those).

Anyway, it has been a marvelous week! They’ve gone off on their own (at my urging) to many nature-rich locales, such as Jefferson Lake, Pike National Forest, Tarryall Reservoir, Buena Vista and Leadville.  And I was with them at the breath-taking Royal Gorge, muscle-aching McCullough Gulch hike, and fun-making Breckenridge Main Street and gondola.

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At Royal Gorge, all full of life and cajoled by me NOT TO BACK UP!
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Before the big hike just south of Breckenridge

One thing I forgot to mention is that these kids, these 19-year-old future leaders, are very, very close.  They love each other, “warts and all” (not that I saw any warts). They are generous with each other while at the same time holding themselves and each other accountable. I only caught bits and snatches of their deep conversations (and wouldn’t dream of actually eavesdropping because that might pre-empt any future travels with this trio), but I am confident that they will be friends for the rest of their lives.

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Looking to the future together, friends forever

Here are a few more photos to illustrate our week, all taken atop Boreas Pass on an old Colorado and Souther train caboose, with apologies to my friends who have already perused my Facebook photo album, entitled:

Hey 19! – Colorado Road Trip

My lovely week with three 19-year-olds from the University of Texas who might one day rule the world (or at least make it more interesting, safe, entertaining and livable!). An added bonus is the amazing natural beauty of Colorado.

 

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Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook

Paris is a Beloved City

More hateful violence by bad actors in Paris this week, and therefore, all the more reason to reinforce the goodness and light of that beautiful city. Reblogging this post in solidarity with Parisians and folks all over the world who reject prejudice, hatred, violence and vitriol.

Glover Gardens Cookbook

I am very sad about yesterday’s shootings in Paris. It is such a beautiful, magic place, populated with wonderful, friendly people who enjoy life and rich with history, architecture, art, cuisine and culture.  My heart is heavy for the victims of the shootings and their families, and for all Parisians as they struggle to recover from the shock and horror of the violence.

My tiny contribution to the healing process and return to normalcy is to reinforce the positives. Today’s post is just a quick couple of photos I snapped on my iPhone as part of a texting dialogue with my son while I was walking along the Seine. He traveled with me to Paris 5 years ago and we had an amazing experience, but that is literally another story (click here for “The Thankful Foreigner”).  He has great memories of Paris, and longs to return.

Me:  “I’m at the…

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Comfort Food Alert: The “Best Gratin in Paris” (or maybe anywhere)

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Bistro Des Augustins is perfectly situated on the Left Bank at the Corner of the Pont Neuf and the Seine River, in the middle of the action without seeming the least bit touristy

Amazing gratin!

Most satisfying meal in Paris!

The best gratin, bar none…

Read the online reviews of Bistro Des Augustin in Paris and you’ll be hooked.  There’s no way to overstate the simple deliciousness of the gratin at this humble little restaurant at the corner of the Pont Neuf and the Seine river in Paris, on the Left Bank.

Also billed as a wine bar, Bistro Des Augustin is known primarily for its gratins and provides a nice selection of them, from vegetarian with tomatoes or eggplant, to duck breast or chicken, to smoked salmon. But the one that four of my colleagues chose on a recent summer evening after work (on a business trip) was the Bistro Gratin.

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My colleague was gracious not only with regard to letting me snap a pic of his Bistro Gratin after he had already dived into it, but also in giving me a taste and then letting me finish the last few bites; the others cleaned their plates and wouldn’t let me anywhere near them!

As you can see, this dish is swimming in creamy, cheesy goodness, browned to perfection on top and sprinkled with extra herbs of Provence.  Bits of bacon dot every bite of the perfectly cooked potatoes. All four of my colleagues who ordered this meal were close to swooning with the goodness of it.  I realized after begging a bite that I had made a huge error in judgment by ordering a (very good) smoked salmon and goat cheese salad, copying our only French colleague in the group and trying to eat healthy.  Mistake! The salad was lovely, fresh and flavorful, but the Bistro Gratin far surpassed it – it was downright heavenly.  You know those dishes your grandmother made waaaaaay back when you were a child and no one has ever been able to reproduce, no matter how hard and how often they tried? That’s the taste in this gratin; it’s grandmotherly good, an instant and permanent deep-seated taste memory.

The menu lists the ingredients for the Bistro Gratin: potatoes, cream, egg, bacon, herbs de Provence, garlic and Emmental cheese.  I haven’t been able to find a recipe with this precise mix of ingredients on the internet, but I am on a mission to recreate this cheesy, rustic masterpiece.

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Diverse gratin selections
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The smoked salmon and goat cheese salad was beautiful, light and very tasty, but paled in comparison to the gratins my colleagues ordered
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A photo of the duck gratin from the Adventurous April blog post, Three Days in Paris; she said: “Bistro des Augustins, amazing duck au gratin dish. Magnifique!”

I can’t recommend this restaurant highly enough, and noticed in the online reviews that many of the testimonials include a mention of eating there two or more times during the same vacation! In addition to the mouth-watering, jealous-making (if you didn’t order it) gratin, Bistro Des Augustins has a Parisian homey charm and an authentic, true sense of place.  Did I mention that it is tiny? There are perhaps a dozen tables, half inside and half out.

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Folks stop in for a quick beverage while walking the Left Bank 
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Exterior shot from the Bistro Des Augustins Facebook page

Here’s one final shot of the Bistro Gratin, until I can replicate it at home and share it with you here.

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The grandmotherly good Bistro Gratin, with its browned, cheesy top and the smattering of herbs of Provence – heavenly!

Resources

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens Cookbook ~ with thanks, again, to my colleagues for sharing their time, their photos and those bites of gratin (from just the one) ~

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: “Swear to Me”

Here’s a call for submissions for original work about mental health, to be published in an anthology.

Free Verse ReVolution

It’s been quite a busy summer for me, but I’ll try to keep this short. My forthcoming anthology was nixed, and I’ve been actually working on a novel for the first time in nearly eight years. I will be talking about that more in the future.

I have spoken at length about mental health, which is something I used to champion a lot more, back in my early days of blogging.

I killed my next anthology, yes, but only to make room for another. If you haven’t picked up my 2013 book, Ground Zero, it basically brought several writers together to explore mental health. It’s super cheap on Amazon and features some remarkable writers. It was a huge privilege to work with all of them, and to that end, I would like to repeat the experience.

Starting today, you can submit your poetry and writing about mental health to…

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12 Radical Reasons to Write Poetry

The list in the blog post referenced here is a wonderful and persuasive set of arguments in favor of writing poetry, by a self-proclaimed “shameless and impassioned advocate for the poetic voice as an integral player in an integrated life”.  Kelly Belmonte is the founder and Chief Muse of All Nine, and, in her words, “offers just a few of the best reasons to give a go at writing a poem every now and then”. Read them here: 12 Radical Reasons to Write Poetry.

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The header for the All Nine blog, the nine being a reference to the nine sister muses of Greek mythology who represent multiple domains of creativity and intelligence. 

My own “radical reason” to write (poetry, essays, blog posts) is quite simple: the words dwell within me, but have a life of their own and must be released. What’s yours?