Sunshine Blogger Nominations and Q&A

One of the Cool Kids (I got the chain letter!)

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?

nprpolitics_red1400px_sq-6bc03b536409ec88fd8d3abb637b560e93865bad-s300-c85I 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?

Langston Hughes’ poetry was/is brilliant

Gosh, that’s a hard one! Does it have to be a famous person? I like traveling with my son to 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?

From a Paris garden, in the spring of 2017
  • 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.

My Nominees

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:

  1. Storyteller
  2. Pleasant Peasant
  3. Glasgow Gallivanter
  4. Loving Leisure Time
  5. Keralas Live
  6. Recipe Reminiscing
  7. David Bruce Blog
  8. Julie H. Cares
  9. Rhapsody Boheme
  10. Bill Waters Haiku
  11. Love Traveling

My Questions

Looking forward to your answers – here are my questions.

  1. What advice would you give to your younger self?
  2. What’s your favorite food memory, a meaningful meal that you will never forget, and why? What was so special about it?
  3. If you’ve experienced a time when everything stood still for a moment, and you realized in that split second that you would remember this event for your whole life, what was that time?
  4. Where do you want to travel next, and why?
  5. Who inspires you?
  6. Why do you blog?
  7. What’s your favorite book?
  8. What skill have you always wanted to master, but haven’t yet started on?
  9. In one sentence, what is your life philosophy?
  10. What do you want to do tomorrow?
  11. What is your favorite dish to cook, and why?

It’s About Community

The Sunshine Award is given by bloggers to bloggers who inspire positivity and creativity in the blogging community.  The rules are:

  1. Thank blogger(s) who nominated you for a blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  3. Nominate up to 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or on your blog.




Thank you for nominating me for this Sunshine Blogger award to the A. Joann blog. It took me a few days to respond, but it was really thought-provoking and fun. You rock!

© 2018 Glover Gardens


Haiku: The Dangers of Hubris (NaHaiWriMo)

This point of view of this blog is (usually) positive, but sometimes contemplation requires lamentation.

Hubris, invited,
accepts, and stays for good (bad).
What price ignorance?

Hubris arises in many ways.  I leave it to you, Dear Reader, to apply your own meaning.

Hubris Haiku

The haiku was created as part of the NaHaiWriMo initiative, a commitment to produce one haiku per day in February.  Read more here.

And you can find lots more Glover Gardens haiku here, most of it unfailingly positive, (except for the one about beets) honoring such favorites as cats, flowers, food and Dads.

© 2018 Glover Gardens

I Hate Beets (Haiku and Rant for NaHaiWriMo)

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.

Photo from The Goods, which has a nice article about beets, including their health value and history (I still hate the pernicious red root, but it’s a good article)

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.
Beetroot and Goat Cheese Risotto from a restaurant in London; photo courtesy of Kat-Woman

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.

© 2018 Glover Gardens (cover image from

National Haiku Writing Month (#NaHaiWriMo) and the 5-7-5 Controversy

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.

no205-7-5But 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.”

haikuIn 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!

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens


Haiku: Random Sentences I Heard Today

cloaked in potential
plagued with inconsistencies
one word fits: Jenga

Image from

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.

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens


St. Francis Prayer of Peace for a World That Needs 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.

By Anonymous – da web, FAL,

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 is meaningful.

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.

Original art created by Shannon O’Donnell

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!

Life is good.

Copyright 2018, Glover Gardens


2017 in Glover Gardens: Looking Back to Look Ahead

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.

Popular Posts and Themes from 2017

You Read My Heartfelt Poems

My brother Steve

The #1 post, by far, was My Brother’s Suicide: Out of the Darkness and Into the Light.  The poem honors my brother, who left us in 2013. It was hard to write and share this, and yet so cathartic and restorative. Your response uplifted me.

Dad and me in 1970

Four other poems were in the top posts of 2017, two of which reflect the unexpected loss of my Dad: you, amazing you / footprints on our heart-sands (another poem for Dad from a grateful daughter) and memory-honey (another poem for Dad) .

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

AP Photo/David J. Phillip

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.

Edinburgh’s Hipster Food Court and the Butcher Bad Boy Burger was the #3 post.

Butcher Boy Burger

Close behind at #5 was Comfort Food Alert: The “Best Gratin in Paris” (or maybe anywhere).

Bistro Des Augustins - Bistro Gratin Up Close
Amazing Gratin at Bistro des Augustins in Paris

Another restaurant outing that was quite popular with blog readers was Simple Dishes: Venison Casserole at the The Ensign Ewart in Edinburgh.


fullsizerender-3I did a series of posts looking ahead to a trip to the New Orleans Jazz Festival, and two were in the most-read category: New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: The Importance of Hats (and Bandanas) and New Orleans Jazz Fest Anticipation: Bayona is a Foodie’s Delight.

A haiku celebrating a marvelous cemetery in London also caught your interest: Haiku for Highgate Cemetery.


The final travel-related post that piqued your interest was our September 30 experience in Colorado, Blizzard on a Train!


You are Interested in Stories about Our Next-Gen Family Members

Thomas Wenglinski Cool Background
Photo by Mallory Frenza

Our kids were featured in a couple of top-viewed posts. Our Milennial Musician and one of his original compositions is the subject of this one: A Little (More) Music for a Sunday Evening. (Another of his compositions was the subject of the #1 post last year: A Little Music for a Sunday Evening.)

Our other milennial, The Best Eater, got married this year to The Girl Who is Always Hungry, and you liked this post about the newlyweds a lot: Our Next-Gen Couple (Now Married!) and Their Glover Gardens Aliases.

Photo by Dreamy Elk Photography

Three Recipes Make the Top 20 Posts

I posted lots of recipes in 2017, and these three were the most popular.

Comfort Food Alert: Mary’s Magical Mexican Cornbread was a post that originated with a friend’s Facebook post of a picture of his Mom’s meaty cornbread.


The Chipotle Chicken Salad recipe is something I’ve been making for years but hadn’t documented until now.


I like to experiment and create new recipes, and this one caught your interest this year: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries, Bacon and Bacon-Jalapeño Jam.


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.

My Mom and me in her kitchen, waaaay back when

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 kept on writing.

IMG_2025I wrote about Dad. Here’s one: you, amazing you / footprints on our heart-sands (another poem for Dad from a grateful daughter) . If you read this, you’ll understand me.

I wrote about Mom. Here’s one: Labor Day: Cherries and Empathy at the BeachThe Real Nancy (1)

I wrote about Steve: Looking Back and Finding Joy: Happy 51st, Dear Brotherfullsizeoutput_1a25

I wrote about death, and loss, and grieving.

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!

Copyright 2017, Glover Gardens