Remembering doesn’t do the remembered any good, of course. It’s for ourselves, the living. I wish we could dedicate Memorial Day, not to the memory of those who have died at war, but to the idea of saving the lives of the young people who are going to die in the future if we don’t find some new way – some new religion maybe – that takes war out of our lives.
That would be a Memorial Day worth celebrating.”
I wholeheartedly agree. It makes me want to sing: “the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind”. The whole clip is worth watching.
A Hummingbird’s Salute
For a Memorial Day photo, here’s a hummingbird and our flag. Just because. The hummingbirds have been happy with our feeder over this Memorial Day weekend here at Little House in the Rockies. Perhaps that tiny bird is saluting our fallen men and women by posing for me in front of the flag.
I’ll leave you with these lyrics from Bob Dylan, so very much in line with the theme from Andy Rooney’s commentary.
How many roads must a man walk down Before they can call him a man? How many seas must a white dove sail Before she sleeps in the sand? How many times must the cannon balls fly Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind The answer is blowin’ in the wind
How many years can a mountain exist Before it is washed to the sea? How many years can some people exist Before they’re allowed to be free? How many times can a man turn his head And pretend that he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind The answer is blowin’ in the wind
How many times must a man look up Before he can see the sky? How many ears must one man have Before he can hear people cry? How many deaths will it take ’til he knows That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind The answer is blowin’ in the wind
How fun! I was nominated for a Sunshine Blogger award by the A. Joann blog. “The Sunshine Award is given by bloggers to bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community.” Cool! It isn’t a huge thing, just an opportunity to connect and pay it forward. I’m in! What happens is that I will answer the questions from my nominator, and then nominate some more folks and ask them different questions. It’s kind of like a more positive and transparent version of the chain letter of old, and I’m ok with that!
Questions from A. Joann for Me
Here are the questions and my answers.
How do you stay up-to-date on current issues in the news?
I have several devices – a personal phone, a work phone, an iPad…and I subscribe to Apple News on all of them. It doesn’t discriminate; any public news source is available through that feed. I check it a couple of times per day, usually the first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. This keeps me confident that if there’s a nuclear war, I’ll know about it just about as soon as anyone else. I also have at least two hours commuting to work in the car each weekday, and my radio is permanently set to NPR – Morning Edition on the way to work and All Things Considered on the way home. I also have a son in college, a sophomore at University of Texas, and he makes sure I know of any current outrage. : )
What is one goal you have for today?
My goal for today – or any day – is to figure out a way to stay positive no matter the obstacles and challenges that come my way. And to do it without being annoying, and in the hopes that some of it rubs off on others (without being annoying – did I say that?).
How often do you write your posts?
I write in bursts. I’d like to post every day…but no, that’s not possible. I have a very rewarding and challenging corporate job that keeps me very busy during the week. Three days a week is my realistic goal for writing, but even that isn’t possible sometimes. I tried to post every day during National Haiku Writing Month (once I joined up) and didn’t quite make it. However, on weekends, especially if it is raining, I can bank several posts for later release. And I am a writing fiend on business trips, because of the down time in airports, the lack of responsibilities in the evenings and the free time on weekends. This is one of my favorite travel finds / travel posts: April in Paris: Rue des Martyrs.
What food is your least favorite?
There’s no question. I have ranted about this many times. Beets! and alligator and mayonnaise. Check out this post if you’d like to join the beets discussion.
If you were to pick a famous person to travel with, who would it be and why?
Gosh, that’s a hard one! Does it have to be a famous person? I like traveling with my sonto see the world through his eyes. But if it does have to be a famous person, I’d like to check out the world with Langston Hughes, because his poetry was so beautiful and moving and I’d love to pick up his vibe, vision and inspiration. Or Sam Houston, a truly interesting historical person whose story is anything but predictable. (I wanted to name my son Sam Houston but his father objected.) Or maybe Emmeline Pankhurst, the British suffragette, so I could learn from her drive and dedication, or Laura Ingalls Wilder, just to hear her tell all those Little House stories. Or the Gershwins, just to listen.
What (or who) inspires you to exercise?
Nothing inspires me to exercise for its own sake. Nothing! But – I love to work in the garden, walk in a Paris park, crew on a sailboat or chop-chop-chop doing my own sous chef work. Does that count?
What was the last thing you ate?
My 87-year old German mother-in-law had us over to dinner and made a pork roast, “potato balls”, and sauerkraut and sausage. We also had an appetizer that I put together, a goat cheese and herb ball surrounded by smoked salmon atop vodka-dressed arugula, and crowned with caviar.
What is the best color for a car, and why do you think so?
I don’t care about cars in the least. Whatever color is the cheapest.
What movie would get you to sit down and watch it again on a rainy afternoon?
OMG, there are so many! My Dad and I used to watch old movies together, and they are my go-to relaxation tonic. How to pick? There could be one of the Thin Man collection (see photo below), or one of the ten Fred and Ginger movies, or a thoughtful, meaningful treatise on social injustice like To Kill a Mockingbird (my favorite movie) or Gentleman’s Agreement, or a lightweight musical comedy with a classic American songbook musical score like Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or American in Paris.
What flowers do you think have the best fragrance?
Jasmine? Roses? Gardenia? Golden Dewdrop? All of which I have in my back yard, a couple of which are shown below.
What is the most rewarding aspect of blogging?
The connections! The unexpected connections… wow.
I have heard from someone in Australia who knew of my grandfather and has some geophysical historical information to share with me. He found me because of this post about my grandfather, I now have several 70-year-old photos of my grandfather in his professional life, as a result.
I have made friends who have helped me to look at, unravel and translate emotionally confusing parts of my past; not directly, but simply through listening to and absorbing their life philosophies.
I have connected with folks who have a similar culinary outlook to mine, and learned so much from their more diverse experiences with ingredients. I’ve found some wonderful recipes, and have rejoiced when people tried one of mine.
I have interacted with lovely people who, like me, are curious, love to travel, love people, and love to connect. I’ve taken their travel advice, and shared a bit of my own.
I’m putting forward some nominees for this Sunshine Award, although I suspect that several of them don’t participate in these kinds of activities. No worries (although I think your answers to my questions would be fascinating)! And the nominees are:
I hate beets! They make a promise with their glorious color that they cannot keep with their taste. To say it in haiku:
dear beets, please explain the dichotomy between your color and taste
Most foods are A-OK with me, but beetroot is tops on the Bad List, along with alligator and mayonnaise (the jarred kind).
I’ve tried to like beets, really I have, but they taste like the dirt they come from. I’m not even sure they are actually food! Maybe the first human who ate them were just really hungry.
My son’s godfather (known as the Raconteur here – see this post about his margaritas) used to come to my house so we could cook crazy things together oh-so-many years ago. I was alone at home with a small child and the Raconteur, who was yet to be married, had spare time, adored my child and is an adventurous cook and eater. We once we tried a dish that used ground fenugreek on chicken served in a beet-yogurt sauce. It was so bad that it was funny – my musician husband actually laughed out loud when he arrived home at around midnight and we served him Fenugreek Chicken with Beet Sauce. It was close to inedible. I’m not hating on the fenugreek; the beets just spoiled the whole dish.
What were we thinking?!!! It was actually the Raconteur’s fault; I was a doubter the whole time but he thought beets had gotten a bad rap because of the way our moms served them – pickled, from a can. His theory was that fresh beets with fresh yogurt (I think we made that, too) would be a whole different animal. Nope. Tasted like dirt.
The Raconteur married the lovely Kat-Woman, and we still find time to cook together when we can, now as a foursome with the Grill-Meister (another beet-hater). Kat-Woman also hates beets. But the subject keeps coming up. It seems like they want to like beets. (What’s up with that???) Last month, Kat-Woman sent us a text with a photo:
Continuing our discussion about beets…… Maybe this version will be edible?😆😳🤔
I doubted it. And since I never heard back from her about this travesty (beet hummus???), they must not have been edible.
Then today, this message and photo:
We’ve found a way we will eat beets. They do it right in London.
They keep going back to the beet thing. I’m still very, very doubtful, but the thing is – Kat-Woman and the Raconteur have excellent palates and we love many of the same foods. I might just have to try this the next time I’m in London. Maybe.
While I’m confessing my feelings about beets, I’ll have to admit that I’ve never tried borscht. I should, it’s a traditional food that a foodie should have knowledge of…but again, it’s got beets in it! Convince me, someone!
Or maybe not. Beets are beets, and I’m a beet-hater.
February is National Haiku Writing Month, a juxtaposition of the shortest month of the year and the shortest form of poetry. The hashtag is #NaHaiWriMo, to make the whole thing even shorter. The idea is to write and post a haiku every day in February.
Haiku is a favorite pastime of mine (see the archives) and I applaud the effort to get more folks to create and appreciate it. I’m going to join the one-haiku-per-day movement for the rest of February, relying in part on a cache of unpublished little unrhymed verses I’ve written and saved, all in the 5-7-5 syllabic structure.
But according to the NaHaiWriMo site, 5-7-5 (syllables, that is) is an urban myth, a somewhat contemptible English interpretation of the traditional Japanese structure for haiku. The late Japanese-American poet Keiko Imaoka explains in the essay, Forms in English, that the more appropriate number of syllables in English (if one was counting, which one should not), would actually be about 11. About. To drive this point home, the NaHaiWriMo site has adopted the “anything but 5-7-5” image shown on the left. It’s a mantra to remind us haiku writers, in their words:
not to get a case of mumpsimus, or being stuck in your ways despite evidence to the contrary. With English-language haiku, you have no need to persist in any adherence to the incorrect idea or belief in 5-7-5 syllables.”
In addition to being edifying and enlightening, I find this all rather stuffy and amusing. Why should it bother anyone if I choose a 5-7-5 structure for my little “Texas gal with the bigger-than-she-expected life” haiku pieces? Like a woman who wears an inappropriate dress to a party but feels like a million bucks in it, I think I’ll just write haiku my way, even if it means I have a case of “mumpsimus”. It may be a stretch, but I think it is possible that an English-language haiku could be a decent poem, even if it adheres to that back-water 5-7-5 syllabic form Americans adopted in the 50s when haiku became popular.
Or maybe I’ll just throw caution to the wind and mix up my syllabic count. A haiku a day for the rest of the month – anything could happen!
the rule-makers rant: “5-7-5 – it just can’t be a true haiku”
And yes, I know, the piece above does not fit the thematic form of any kind of haiku. So be it!
cloaked in potential plagued with inconsistencies one word fits: Jenga
This is one of my favorite haiku creations, ever, and I can’t really take credit for it. It truly is three unrelated sentences that I heard, strung together. As far as the meaning, you can make your own; I have mine but would love to hear what you take from it.
Hello world, friends, family and neighbors: I wish you peace, love, happiness, serenity, interesting hobbies, low blood pressure and job security.
I’m not Catholic but I have a spiritual crush on St. Francis – how can you not love the patron saint of animals???!!! I ran across the St. Francis peace prayer today, and it is too beautiful not to share.
I hope to one day embody even a small portion of this kind of goodness, optimism, acceptance and love.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Isn’t that lovely? Although it turns out that St. Francis didn’t write this beautiful supplication…the first record of it is in the early 1900s, and the syntax doesn’t match the dialect from the 1200s when Friar Francis lived (see this article). But the prayer was thematically accurate, according to Wikipedia: “As a friar later summarized the relationship between the prayer and St. Francis: ‘One can safely say that although he is not the author, it resembles him and would not have displeased him.'”
And hey, does it matter who wrote it if it is meaningful? And it ismeaningful.
Because of my crush, the Grill-Meister gave me a St. Francis bird feeder some years ago, and we keep it full.
I love love love love love watching the birds, especially the cardinals, enjoy the feeder; it is an investment in peace, love, happiness, serenity and low blood pressure!
For my birthday in 2014, the Grill-Meister commissioned a beautiful work of art representing Glover Gardens in which our St. Francis and my beloved cardinals are featured – see below.
The artist said, in her Facebook post of the painting:
This piece was commissioned by Tom for his wife, Kim. He wanted a painting that brought together all of the special pieces they have in their yard — a statue/bird feeder of St. Francis, the wrought iron heart/cross with a butterfly, Kim’s favorite flowers (blue irises), her favorite birds (cardinals), their saguaro cross on the tree with the turquoise center, the “Blessings” sign hanging from the branch, and their bird house (tucked in the trees). I wanted St. Francis to almost “come alive” — like a haven for all the little animals. And as I thought about St. Francis and the birdseed, all I could think of was that it wouldn’t be complete without a little squirrel!!!
Isn’t that wonderful / peaceful / serene? Find the artist here: Paintings by Shannon Gurley O’Donnell. She rocks, and exemplifies the St. Francis frame of mind. You should check her out!
It seems like yesterday that I was creating this post, Happy New Year!and looking ahead to 2017, and now here we are again, at the brink of yet another new year. I look forward to sharing and connecting with you all in 2018 via the Glover Gardens blog, and looking back at what you liked here in 2017 is giving me some ideas for the days ahead.
I was so grateful that I wrote this one about my childhood while Dad was still with us, and he commented on it: my days by the water.
Haiku for My Dad was a Father’s Day tribute to him just three days before he died. What a gift we had, Dad and me; when my husband took the early morning phone call that Dad had died and conveyed it to me, my response was: “I’m ok, we had no unfinished business.” I didn’t remember saying that until he reminded me later, but it is so true, and I am so incredibly blessed by the honesty and mutual regard of our relationship. And its awesome that you read my raw writings that tried to express this incredible blessing, and found some value in it.
Hurricane Harvey Captivated You
The #2 and #4 posts in 2017 were about Hurricane Harvey: Houston is Paralyzed by Flooding and How You Can Help Texas Right Now. You were interested in what was going on down here in the wetlands. And you didn’t just read the posts, you went to sites where you could help – there were 62 click-throughs on links I shared for donating to help Texas recover from Harvey, from the food bank to animal shelters to the Red Cross and the fund created by Houston Texas JJ Watts. Thank you; we are grateful for your empathy and support. Harvey was horrific for Houston.
You Shared My Travel and Restaurant Experiences
Two of the posts in the top five in 2017 were essentially restaurant reviews, a retelling of amazing meals that I had while traveling.
I Like Taking Requests – and You Like Reading the Results
One of my readers asked how to make an antipasto platter, so I answered with a post about it and included a long reminiscence about my Mom’s approach to antipasto. I loved getting the request, and you liked the post enough to make it the 12th most viewed in Glover Gardens in 2017: Antipasto Advice from Mom and Great Tastes from the Texas Coast.
A New Name
As I hit the 2-year anniversary of the Glover Gardens Cookbook blog earlier this year, I realized that I was talking about much more than just recipes, my original intent. I asked your opinion about the name of the blog in What’s In a Name? Seeking Your Input. You gave me great feedback, and one of the suggestions was simply to call it Glover Gardens. A couple of months ago, I made this change with no fanfare, and changed the tag line to reflect the multifaceted nature of the topics.
What’s Next? Authenticity, Curiosity, Empathy
I don’t make specific New Year’s resolutions these days because I don’t really believe in them, but I do want to move in these directions in my life in general, hopefully reflected in the blog:
to be courageous and speak more with my own authentic voice, as I did with the poem about my brother’s suicide.
to be more in-the-moment-mindful and curious about the world – and to share what I learn.
to listen more and practice “cognitive empathy”; to truly understand others and learn from their truths.
You Matter to Me
I have learned a great deal in 2017 through my interactions in this blog, spanning a huge spectrum. You validated my beliefs and ideas and added context and color to them. You challenged me and provided a different lens for viewing life and love of all kinds. You gave me interesting perspectives on photography, travel, spices, recipes, mindfulness and your own challenges. I am inspired by you!
The Collective Muse
Although I started the blog to capture my recipes for our sons and their (eventual) families, I actually thought my muse for this blog was my Dad. Then he died. He died. He died. He died. I probably haven’t accepted that – he died.
I wrote about Dad being my muse and losing him: Mourning the Loss of My Father and Muse. Especially during his last year when he had a mysterious illness, I wrote most of my posts hoping to inspire Dad and ignite him.
Reality: Dad died. I have to have a different muse. What a hard truth to absorb.
I kept on writing.
Maybe I’m my own muse? Maybe the muse is this vast expanse of strangers who read, and “like” and comment?
I wrote about joy. I wrote about frustration. I wrote about travel, the world and food. I created haiku for silly things, and profound happenings. I shared recipes.
I kept on writing. You listened.
A marvelous thing happened. One of my nieces said, “I read every one of your posts, and if I’m with my friends, I read them out loud.” She mentioned a specific post about her Dad (my brother) and referenced a phrase or two from it. Oh. My. Gosh. She’s a living, breathing muse. She is part of me, and someone I can write these memories for. So are my other family members.
And, in addition, so many of you reached out. You said that you had lost a loved one and felt something similar, or you liked a silly haiku I wrote, or a recipe looked delicious, or a family memory stirred an emotion. You shared an approach for editing a photo, or using a special spice in a recipe, or a trick you use to stay sane in a crazy world. You empathized with me. You cared.
I kept on writing. You let me know you were reading, and you became my muse / the source of my inspiration. My family, my friends, my special set of strangers – you are my muse and inspiration. Thank you. Here’s to a great 2018!
I laughed out loud this morning when I walked into the kitchen. There was an empty Beringer White Zinfandel bottle on the counter next to the stove. Horrors!
But actually, it was there for a reason. While we don’t imbibe the super-sweet pink stuff that swept the U.S. in the 80s and became THE wine for non-wine drinkers, the Grill-Meister uses it for his smoked salmon marinade. (That’s right, we’re getting the gift of Tom’s Smoked Salmonhere at Glover Gardens today for our “Christmas 2017, Observed” – yay!)
The marinade doesn’t use a whole bottle of “pink”, as the Grill-Meister calls it, and we never drink the rest (perish the thought!), so I asked him to pour the rest of it into the soup pot where I was making stock overnight.
While much too sweet for us to drink, the “pink” is just fine for stock, even though Julia Child famously declared that one should never cook with a wine one wouldn’t drink. That rule has been debunked or was just completely misunderstood – the great Julia probably meant that we shouldn’t use so-called “cooking wine,” which has added salt and zero-added value. Check out what Food & Wine magazine had to say about using mediocre wine for cooking here.
And in case I offended anyone with my obvious distaste for white zinfandel, you’re not alone! Follow this early conversation between the Grill-Meister and me, when we were just starting to date years ago:
Grill-Meister: “What kind of wine do you like?”
Me: “Anything but pink! What do you like?”
All is well now, though, as the Grill-Meister’s palate has expanded nicely, and his wine of choice these days is always what’s right for the meal. He calls the white zinfandel “cloyingly sweet” but for marinating salmon before smoking it, he says, “Think pink!” See his recipe here.
I love a good provocative article to get my juices flowing and my heart rate up. Check out this well-written piece from the Washington Post, which is not, as the title might suggest, an elegy for cookbooks and recipes, but instead is conjecture about technology’s impact on traditional cooking. Chef and Food Channel personality Tyler Florence waxes prophetic in this article and says that recipes are dead: “the same way paper maps are dead.” The story goes on to say that Florence “had signed on with what he says will be the kitchen equivalent of GPS. He joined Innit, a start-up building a ‘connected food platform’ — connecting the smart kitchen with software that aims to personalize and automate cooking.”
I find all of this a bit alarmist, like a proclamation that oil painting is dead simply because we have digital art software. While new mediums can extend an arts or science genre and provide innovative ways to access traditional methods and results, the appeal and value of classic, time-honored approaches are not diminished. In fact, they are more sought-after and prized as shortcuts become commonplace. Case in point: if you’re a serious cook, wouldn’t you rather make your own stock than use sodium-laced canned broth? Cookbooks and recipes tell you how to do it, in fail-proof detail.
Having said all this (vehemently!), the article is a good read, and I like one of the major themes, which is that experimentation while cooking is important. But for me, the recipe has an important place as a good starting point, a baseline against which you can create your own riff like a jazz musician taking a solo during an American songbook tune that’s been around for 80 years. The form of the tune provides a foundation for the improvisation – just like the recipe provides a springboard for your improvisational culinary art.
Says the article: New apps aim to help you — and your connected kitchen — make highly customizable dishes without traditional instruction.