Not much has been happening in the Glover Gardens blog, because so much is happening at Glover Gardens. Spring keeps us busy! Not one to shuck a heavy load, Spring is busy, herself. Look at what she’s done with the jasmine. Our whole yard smells heavenly.
I did a little research on the smell of jasmine and it turns out that Glover Gardens is an aromatherapy district! The Telegraph, a venerable UK publication, said in a 2010 article,
The sweet smell of jasmine is as good as valium at calming the nerves with none of the side effects, according to new research.
These pages have been silent for a short while; so much has been going on at Glover Gardens that there hasn’t been time to stop and chat with you. I miss that! Once I get a handle on things, I’ll be back.
But I don’t want to miss the chance to wish you a Happy Easter. It was a vivid, verdant and temperate spring day here in Southeast Texas. After church, we were surrounded by family, enjoying a meal together here at Glover Gardens, reminiscing, missing our loved ones who were at this table at Easters past, and still, making plans and looking to the future. Easter is like that, with its theme of rebirth, second chances, faith in things you can’t see. Whatever your beliefs, I wish you the peace that comes from living in accordance with them.
For your visual Easter basket, here’s a photo of a Glover Gardens rose that the Grill-Meister texted to me while I was at work the other day. (I love it when he does that.)
Again, Happy Easter. I hope your spring of 2018 is wonderful.
If you’ve been following Glover Gardens, you know that Sandwich Wednesday is a thing. Ever since our blended family was established nigh on ten years ago, the Grill-Meister has been the Sandwich-Meister on Wednesdays. It might just be my favorite weekday.
A variety of bread-ensconced offerings have come my way on Sandwich Wednesday, and nary a one has disappointed. The Grill-Meister is great about taking requests, and I recently realized that I hadn’t experienced most of the sandwiches he used to produce at his restaurant, the Bavarian Bistro. This phase of his career was before my time, but I don’t want to miss out on the sandwichy goodness. The only Bavarian Bistro sandwich I had experienced to date was the U-Boat Sub, and it was worthy.
So we decided that there should be a Bavarian Bistro series for Sandwich Wednesday, until I have experienced every sandwich. Lucky me! The Grill-Meister rooted around in his computer and dug up the 15-year-old menu, and let me pick. The first one was:
Der Red Baron: A triple decker of real breast of turkey, lean corned beef, imported Swiss cheese, crisp lettuce, tomato, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing.
So there isn’t really a “recipe”; it is all assembly. The list below is ingredients without specific amounts.
Pumpernickel, dark rye or other sandwich bread of your choice, 3 slices per person
Thinly sliced turkey breast
Thinly sliced corned beef
Swiss cheese slices
Sliced ripe tomatoes
Sauerkraut, room temperature or warmed
Thousand Island dressing, mustard, or other tangy condiment of your choice
To assemble each Red Baron, slather a piece of bread with the condiment of your choice, then top with a Swiss cheese slice. Mound a generous amount of corned beef atop the cheese, then add another slice of bread. Repeat with another slice of Swiss cheese, a mound of turkey breast, and a generous dollop of sauerkraut.
Place the sandwich(es) on a panini press and cook on medium high until the bread is nicely toasted and the cheese is melted. (You can also cook in a skillet if you don’t have a panini press – press down on the sandwiches with a spatula to compress them.)
When the bread is toasty and the cheese is melted, remove the sandwiches from the heat. Open them up and add the lettuce and tomato slices. Serve immediately, potentially with more of your preferred condiment on the side.
Because the world doesn’t have enough cat pictures, here’s Fiona on high alert after she heard a very loud and unrecognizable sound. She was hanging out with the Grill-Meister and me during our weekend morning routine, which we affectionately call “Happy Coffee” (more on that another time).
Fiona is a rescue cat who was found huddled in the hood of a car at a nearby mechanic shop, very frightened, dehydrated and severely undernourished.
Fiona’s rescuers, the owners of the car shop, saw the signs from our desperate search for our missing cat, Scout (who was never found), and called me. Their message was this: we have a scared, abandoned, almost feral kitten who needs a home, and since your cat is lost, would you like to come over and meet her?
The rest is history.
Fiona has been with us for 7 years now. She’s in charge of the house here at Glover Gardens, a fact that the other cat, two dogs, numerous fish and both of us humans don’t dispute.
But let’s help write the next chapter for some other fine animals – please consider adopting a rescue animal when you get your next pet. There are many excellent organizations that take on the special commitment to make a good life possible for homeless animals.
One of my favorites is Austin Pets Alive!, an amazing example of how an innovative mindset and an ever-growing group of very determined people can save furry lives and connect them with loving homes. Their mission: “to promote and provide the resources, education and programs needed to eliminate the killing of companion animals.” I can get behind that! Also, Austin Pets Alive! has a special place in the heart of many Houstonians because they stepped up and took in thousands of displaced Houston pets during the floods in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. So did many individuals across our state and beyond – one friend in Louisiana fostered 8 or more dogs after the storm! Anyway, here’s to humans who care about animals, and to the animals themselves who deserve a happy life with a forever family.
I got a new camera for Christmas, the first one ever that has interchangeable lenses that detach and rates a case instead of rambling about in the bottom of my purse like my previous little point-n-shoot models. A respectable camera. A DSLR. I’m the family historian and photographer and have always been a shutterbug, but a very uneducated one. I didn’t even know what DSLR meant until I looked it up recently.
So – I have a lot to learn! I’m very excited about this new journey and wish I had more time to spend on absorbing the basics, but for now I’m mostly using the automatic settings.
I’m sharing all this to set up a photo for you. We had a snow day here in Southeast Texas in January, and then the sun came out at the end of the day. I took a very chilly walk about the neighborhood with my brand new camera and took photos of everything and nothing, just to play with the zoom lens. I was looking through my photos just now and found this one from that day, and it made me happy.
Trees and sunsets make me happy in general – how about you? They embody the reassurance of renewal; they speak to me through their beauty. Indulge me for a moment.
The trees are saying,
Sure, I lost my leaves for the winter, but don’t worry, I’ll get them back! I’ll grow a big canopy for you to picnic under come summer. I’ll be here for your future grandkids to climb.”
The sunset chimes in.
I’ll only be around for a few minutes – enjoy me! I’m here to remind you that while today was challenging, another day is on the way. My partner, the sunrise, will be here before you know it. Use the coming darkness to rest and reflect, and I’ll see you again tomorrow.”
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:
Having this forum to share thoughts, ideas, cool stuff and things that inspire me is such a blessing. Today’s post would be in the inspiration category.
I have a colleague/friend whose favorite word is fabulous, and whose unstintingly positive outlook is, well, fabulous. She will have her third child very soon, about which she says, “Fabulous!” She shared her family photo shoot on Facebook and I had to ask if I could post them here, because they are…(you can see it coming)…fabulous.
The joy each member of this family finds in the others is evident. I couldn’t pick my favorite pic, so I’ve shared several, to help you feel the (fabulous) love.
You can see the romantic love.
You can see the familial love.
You can see the parental love.
You can see the self-confidence.
All photos by Emily Wischnewsky. Apparently, Emily just called up my friend and proposed an impromptu photo shoot. My friend said:
I was ecstatic… 1.) because we haven’t any type of family pic since my daughter was 2…she’ll be 9 this year, and 2.) because I didn’t think I’d have the opportunity to take any type of maternity pics. Plus any family time is awesome for me so we were just out there having fun!!
The instant I saw these, the old Sonny and Cher song, I Got You Babe, started running through my head (and now it might be in yours!).
I Got You Babe
They say we're young and we don't know
We won't find out until we grow
Well I don't know if all that's true
'Cause you got me, and baby I got you
I got you babe
I got you babe
They say our love won't pay the rent
Before it's earned, our money's all been spent
I guess that's so, we don't have a plot
But at least I'm sure of all the things we got
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got flowers in the spring
I got you to wear my ring
And when I'm sad, you're a clown
And if I get scared, you're always around
Don't let them say your hair's too long
'Cause I don't care, with you I can't go wrong
Then put your little hand in mine
There ain't no hill or mountain we can't climb
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you to hold my hand
I got you to understand
I got you to walk with me
I got you to talk with me
I got you to kiss goodnight
I got you to hold me tight
I got you, I won't let go
I got you to love me so
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I’ve posted several jazz originals from our Musical Millennial (my son, a college sophomore majoring in Jazz Composition). Tonight, I am thrilled to share his latest (and my favorite), a 12-minute suite with multiple movements that (in my humble opinion) is heartbreakingly beautiful. It was performed by the University of Texas at Austin’s Jazz Orchestra at their winter concert a couple of weeks ago and I was blessed to be in the audience.
Live Recording of “Repurification (Laura, Ryan, and the Thunderstorm)”
The piece is titled “Repurification (Laura, Ryan, and the Thunderstorm)”, and was written for a special performance at the opening of an art exhibit at the Blanton Museum Museum of Art in Austin. The video is below; if you play it, I encourage you to listen to the whole thing – it is like several different but complementary tunes, or perhaps several stops along a journey. My son is on piano and melodica, and every one of the musicians brings their A-game in this performance, directed by Professor Jeffrey Helmer.
In the Composer’s Words
If you’ve gotten this far, you might be interested in the program notes. These are my son’s words about his composition.
From the time I started composing, I have always attempted to channel at least a portion of the music I grew up with – Pat Metheny, Weather Report, Stevie Wonder, Jobim/Regina, etc. However, in more recent days, I’ve been reevaluating just why it is that I’m consistently called back to the earliest memorable parts of my life for artistic inspiration, and I’ve reached a conclusion: we view the world differently as children. Some adults describe this phenomenon in a glass-half-empty way, saying, “A child’s world is so much smaller,” but I tend to see the exact opposite. We experience small, routine things (such as the raw atmosphere of our front yard on a cold cloudy night or a bike ride through the neighborhood on a sunny Saturday morning in June) through a magnified lens when we’re young, innocent, and unencumbered by any kind o cynicism brought about by the burdens of adulthood.
It was this part of my thought process that was completely electrified this past fall, when the Blanton Museum of Art’s photography exhibit The Open Road brought with it a selection of works by Ryan McGinley, almost all of which exclusively aim to capture millennials throwing their troubles away out in the open country, particularly one entitled Laura (Thunderstorm). McGinley’s ability to capture this same youthful, pure human warmth in sometimes cold, bleak environments not only intrigues me to this day – it inspired, and almost demanded, that I take aim at the same goal musically, culminating tonight in this piece, entitled Repurification (Laura, Ryan, and the Thunderstorm). — Thomas Wenglinski
At a Loss for Words / My Heart Grew Too Big for My Body
I’m not often at a loss for words, Dear Readers, but is hard to explain how I felt, reading those notes before the concert, and then hearing my son’s composition played so beautifully.
My heart grew too big for my body.
Coincidentally, or perhaps not, I had just posted in the blog about how my own world changed when I became a parent all those years ago, because it gave me another lens to look through: his. (See Haiku: Little Ones).
Hmmm. Perhaps all parents of musicians and artists feel this way when they experience their child’s art; it is both surprising and not, like getting a long-awaited response to a question that you already knew the answer to. As in, “Wow, I can’t believe he created something so beautiful / Gee, I always knew he would create beautiful things.”
Ryan McGinley’s photo that inspired the tune, “Laura (Thunderstorm): click here
I’ve been doing this National Haiku Writing Month thing now for a couple of weeks, and it will come to a close as February transitions into March. Today, I’m going to utilize the daily prompt from NaHaiWriMo: homemade soup. It’s a reference to a post from two years ago at around this time when some of my European colleagues made a fantastic soup at Glover Gardens during an open house for my team.
pot luck perfect in-the-moment lentil soup my colleagues rock
To read the whole story and check out their kick-butt (that’s a technical term) recipe for lentil soup, click here.
And if you want more soup recipes for a cold and rainy winter’s night, I’ve got a couple: