Here and There

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Psalm of Life by Longfellow

Last night, while waiting in a crowded hallway to go into the Longfellow Winter Concert, I read the bulletin boards I could see and saw a few portions from Longfellow's poem, "A Psalm of Life".  And I looked at his portrait and I thought about these words, the closing stanza to the poem:

"Let us, then, be up and doing,
        With a heart for any fate;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
        Learn to labor and to wait."

After reading a sermon on advent called "Watching" by John Henry Newman given way back in 1838, I've been thinking about this part:

"He watches for Christ who has a sensitive, eager, apprehensive mind; who is awake, alive, quick-sighted, zealous in seeking and honouring Him; who looks out for Him in all that happens, and who would not be surprised, who would not be over-agitated or overwhelmed, if he found that He was coming at once."

Wanting to live a better and more honoring life.  Honoring the value of life, honoring the value of time, opportunities, gifts.  Watching for Christ does not mean I look right over what is happening around me now, it means that I am watching for Christ in the moment and in the future.

Monday, December 10, 2012

on repeat

The song Working Titles by Damien Jurado.  I love it!

"I want you and the skyline.
These are my demands."

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ah, the nineties

I heard this song at Trader Joe's last night after church.  Shopping for fruit for school lunches.  It made me smile so much.  "Do whacha like!"

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Poem for Wednesday

The Secret Sits

We dance round in a ring and suppose,
the secret sits in the middle and knows.

Robert Frost

Middle of the night Northern Exposure viewing to thank for remembering this little poem--Chris says it on the radio after his trial to see if he has to go back to West Virginia for breaking his parole.  The judge decides that it would be a hardship to the town for him to have to leave, so gives the town 3 years to find a new disc jockey.  Then he will be summoned to West Virginia, if the state remembers to do so...which was always an unsettling ending to me.  The case was built on the idea that Chris in Cicely is not the same Chris who was in prison in West Virginia.  That he is so changed, he is a different person.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Lately I love...

Browned butter rice crispy treats...i will never make them another way again.  Thanks, Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.

Downton Abbey, I tried to watch this a couple years ago and didn't get the appeal.  Then, after waking up at 1am and not being able to go back to sleep, I thought putting it on would help us just fall asleep instantly to the British muttering sounds, but at 5am, we had watched almost all of Season One and now are about to embark on Season Two.

The monologue on SNL this past week--Anne Hathaway is great on SNL anyway, but when the whole cast did a spoof of One More Day, I was delighted!

Getting started on construction projects that will prepare us for Baby #3...the garage has a new wall and Peter and his dad are working on the electrical today, we will have a new office out there hopefully by Christmas!

Putting a little apple juice in a hot cup of Orange Spice tea.  So delicious!

Preparing for Advent.  Getting some ideas together for an Advent Conspiracy Group, a new candle set up, a meaningful calendar, etc.

Using up leftovers well.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Blue Nights

I'm reading Joan Didion's Blue Nights.  If you read A Year of Magical Thinking and needed something else to break your heart, try it out! 

It is very sad, of course.  But totally thought-provoking.  "When we are talking about mortality, we are talking about our children."  and also, “In theory mementos serve to bring back the moment. In fact they serve only to make clear how inadequately I appreciated the moment when it was here. How inadequately I appreciated the moment when it was here is something else I could never afford to see.”

She describes a wall in her home, with framed mementos, art, a childhood poem of her daughter's, a map, random pages...I have always vacillated between wanting my walls covered in bits of things that I love or admire or remember and wanting to save NOTHING.  If you open my closet doors or bathroom medicine cabinets, you'll find the bits there, postcards, photos.. The bits.  I thought of her wall as it was described and was very attracted to the image, and then reading later about how mementos ended up making her feel, I was back in the "live it, then toss it" camp.

But when I lived in my grandma's house the bits were everywhere!  Every whim I had, every new song lyric, or image I fancied, I put it up (or simply wrote it out) on the wall.  Discovering Paul Simon's songs for the first time and being obsessed with "These are the roots of rhythm and the roots of rhythm remain".  I had to write it in sharpie on the doorjamb of the garage.  I still have that impulse!  But I restrain myself.  I also am searching for what lasts.  The memory, the memento, the bit of song, the bit of color or word on the page.  Maybe part of each of those, but mostly the feeling of surrender to experience fully.  Surrender to experience it fully.  That sensation is it.  It makes for a contented backward glance.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Saints, Poets and Children

Photo by Lily
In the play Our Town, when Emily goes back to relive her 12th birthday, it is so painful to her, seeing the beauty of the day she took for granted.  She asks if anyone enjoys life while they're living it, really, each  minute.  "The saints and the poets, maybe some" is the stage manager's reply.

Have you seen a little girl running in the grass?  It's absolutely marvelous.  You can see her feel her hair lift from her neck in the wind.  You can see her feel strong and free.  She doesn't run to be fast or toward a goal.  She runs to feel herself running. It makes her laugh, she's so happy.  She is running in a wide circle for the joy of it.  I can barely stand it.  It's so beautiful.  

Watching her enjoy the minute makes me enjoy the minute.  So maybe we can add children to the list of those who can do it.  I wonder when they stop doing it?  7?  9?  12? 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Little Gidding #3

We're expecting another little gid at the end of February.  So, knowing me, probably the ides of March and he or she will make an entrance!  Thankful that the fevers are gone.  Feeling very lucky to have the chance to do it again. 

Reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with Lily, isn't Charlie Bucket a special character?  He is so kind and honest.  I am struck reading about the poverty that the Buckets are neck-deep in and realized just how perfectly  it is written how Charlie finds the ticket.  Roald Dahl has built this incredible tension and the family is starving.  Charlie is making little changes to conserve energy, one of which is walking very slowly.  And in walking very slowly he sees the dollar on the ground that will buy him that chocolate bar with the golden ticket.  But not the first chocolate bar he buys, but the second one.  Ah!  So nerve-wracking!  Lily kicks her legs with anticipation on the bed when these exciting parts are happening.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


running fast in the open spaces.
hearing the hounds above on the hillside.
to run or to hide?
to hide.
she darted to a mass of branches woven together tightly,
a thicket.  a thicket.

a safe cage.
be still, nestled in the tangle.
she waited, they would run right by.

she heard them--jowls flapping and whining, whining.
they stopped with their snouts to the earth.
they were there at the edge of the branches.
the branches snapped and fell away so easily!
eyes wide.  too late to reconsider.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Aunt Stacy's Lentils

These lentils are very good and kid-friendly.  Peter's Aunt Stacy made them and gave the recipe to Jan, so it's been passed around as Aunt Stacy's Lentils, which is fun.  I know T. Monica makes them too.  Very cheap and easy, too.

Aunt Stacy's Lentils
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped fine
3 TB fresh basil, chopped
3 TB Italian parsley, chopped
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 and 1/2 cups red lentils
1 quart chicken broth

In a large pot, saute onion and garlic until translucent.  Add tomatoes and herbs.  Simmer for a few minutes.  Add lentils and broth.  Bring up to a simmer and simmer until done.  Takes about a half hour.  Transfer 4 cups of the soup to a blender and puree.  Return to pot and check for salt.  It may need it, it may not depending on your broth.

I like to serve this with buttermilk biscuits or Acme olive bread.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Pumpkin Enchilada Sauce

This is a super easy, healthy no-cook enchilada sauce (from this recipe) :

1 can of pumpkin puree
4 garlic cloves
1 tsp. chili powder
2 1/2 cups water

In a blender combine all ingredients, blend until smooth.  It is very tasty.  I love enchiladas so much.  Green, red, pumpkin, I like them all.

Just warm corn tortillas, wrap shredded chicken and cheese inside, pile them up and douse them in this sauce.  Sprinkle a little cheese on top.  You only need a little cheese, the sauce tastes rich.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Health Muffins

I love these muffins.  My mom makes them a lot and I've started making them regularly lately.  They are so healthy and tasty and easy to make.  We call them "Health Muffins" at our house.

Mash 3 very very very ripe bananas (since this is where all the sweet comes from).  Add 1/2 cup of kefir or yogurt, 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 egg (or two egg whites).  Mix it up.  Add 1 1/2 cups high fiber cereal (like All Bran, or the TJ version or Fiber One) and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.

Add 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/2 cup oat bran, 1 tsp. baking powder, 3/4 tsp. baking soda.

Add the goodies.  I've been adding 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut and 1/2 cup walnuts.  Chopped dates, raisins, pecans, pumpkin seeds are also all delicious.  

Scoop into greased muffin tin, makes 12 muffins, bake at 400 for 20 minutes or so.

Also, about 3 points plus values on weight watchers without any add-ins.  4 pts. if you add fruit, nuts or coconut.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Homemade Laundry Detergent

I've read a lot of recipes for homemade laundry detergent.  I've been wanting to make one, because it seems very frugal, but some of the recipes sounded too involved.  Boiling a pot of soap on the stove sounds gross. Another annoying thing is the measurements all seemed so arbitrary.  One cup of Borax (even though you have to buy a 4 lb. box?) 2 bars of soap, etc.

I decided I wanted to try a simple, large batch of powder-type detergent.  So I went for the basic 3 part recipe, but in the easiest quantities:  1 large box of borax, 1 large box of washing soda (which is different from baking soda in that is is sodium carbonate NOT sodium bicarbonate...interesting.)
and a bar of laundry-type soap.

I did this outside, I grated a bar of soap and combined all three ingredients in a garbage bag.  It was powdery.  It looked suspect.  Very "Breaking Bad".  I filled an old container I had sitting around and labeled it "Laundry Soap".  About half my batch fit in this container, I have the rest in the garbage bag waiting to refill the container. 

Here's the kicker.  You only use 1 TB of soap per load.  This batch of detergent could last me months and months! 

I used it to wash a regular load of clothes and it was great.  I used it to wash a sheet and mattress protector that had been in an accident, a pee accident.  There was no pee smell lingering after I washed with the detergent.  So, thumbs up so far!  I will say the smell of the soap bar is a little weird to me.  The clothes don't smell like it, but when I open the container to use the detergent, it's not my favorite smell.  Next time I would use a bar of Zote (another laundry soap) and see if I like that better. 

You can get Borax at Target, and I got the Fels-Naptha at CVS, but the Washing Soda was hard to find.  They had it at Berkeley Bowl West.  All the ingredients together cost me about $8.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Zombies Attack!

Okay, now that I've shared that I get fevers with somewhat frequency.  I want to share an interesting result of this.  The fully written in my head poems that I come up with laying there in the wee hours.  I mean, literally the words are in sentences that I picture in print on a page.   In the moment, I think these are genius!*

Zombies Attack (inspired by fever dream, Paula Deen, and a scene in the film, Titanic)

She watched the fires burning out her window.
All over the city, small fires, like someone took all the possessions of his home, put them in the street and struck a match.
The children, a boy and a girl, sat at the table waiting for dinner.  They didn't know that tonight was the last night.

She fed them the best dinner she could come up with.
She ate a stick of butter.  She contemplated eating a second.  Then regretted eating the first.
Then she opened the fridge to eat the rest of the quarters.

As she stood at the drawer, the light in the fridge went off.
All the lights went off.
Oh my God!

She told the children "Bedtime!" in her lightest voice.
They followed her as she led them to their beds, sang a song and prayed a prayer.
Tonight her prayer was like one of a very old woman.

*They're not!  But the next day I think they're funny!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

On chronic illness, and reading.

I've been dealing with a chronic health issue for 8 months now.  It's hard for me to even believe it's been that long.  But it has.  As I look back over those months I feel like I've changed in a way, the person who I was before I started getting fevers was carefree, spunky, hopeful.  Now I feel more reserved.  I don't take my health for granted when I am doing well.  I notice that I feel strong.  I notice when I feel a fever creeping on and can call it at 99.4.  I hesitate to plan weekends away or parties.  My doctor said it's two steps forward, one step back.  That I will get better, and my body will get rid of this virus sometime.  I don't really know.  When I feel depressed about my health, I remember there are those who are much, much more seriously ill.  I try to be grateful for what I have.  I try to maintain my sunny disposition that is such an integral part of my identity.  I try not to talk about it too much.  I don't want to feel "robbed" of who I am because I'm going through a negative experience.  I guess I am forging the more mature personality of a generally cheery person who has had some negative experiences.  That is a very good thing to hold on to.

I've had more time to read this year, with some increased rest-time.  I've taken a page from Bora's booklist and read Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri, checking it out on my kindle from the library.  (Which is an amazing way to access books!)  I recommend it.  It was a beautiful book of stories and those last three stories were so rich and heartbreaking.  Absolutely beautiful.

Now reading A Walk In the Woods by Bill Bryson.

Trying to keep track of what I've read in 2012:
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Black Nature:  Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry
Radical by David Platt
White Fang by Jack London
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


A small spot to glance at, every time I go in and go out, to remind me.

Monday, March 12, 2012

from "Woods" by Wendell Berry

Though I am silent
there is singing around me.
Though I am dark
there is vision around me.
Though I am heavy
there is flight around me.

Browsing in a book store is one of my favorite "date" activities.  It is luxurious and unhurried.  You can zone out. We got a date on Saturday and found ourselves wandering in a bookstore.  I found the poetry table and read this poem of Wendell Berry's.  The last words I couldn't help but memorize.  I also read a few poems from a collection by Gary Young and was impressed.

I wrote a poem about a fox a few weeks ago.  It's not great.  But it was nice to work on it.  Working on a poem is good work, you have to be precise.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Change in time.

i found this drafted post: {Early Autumn: Brussels Sprouts.  Cleaning under the couch.  Napping house.  Oven on.  Oatmeal with peanut butter.  The bag of brown rice sitting on top of the bag of arborio rice.  Rooibos tea.  Doll blankets.}

and now, early spring:  Plum Blossoms.  Shirley Temple.  Chocolates.  Dark purple smoothies.  Sharing supper with friends.  New/old green sweater from Buffalo Exchange.  Latte.  Songbirds.  Poetry.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Poem from a Godly Play gathering yesterday...

 in a palest pink room with dark wood trim and leaded glass windows.

Letters to a Young Poet--Letter 4-- July 16, 1903

Be patient to all that is unresolved in your heart
and try to love the questions themselves
like locked rooms and like books that are now written
in a very foreign tongue.

Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given to you
because you would not be able to live them
and the point is, to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps you will gradually, without noticing it,
live along some distant day into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Monday, February 06, 2012

4am thoughts

I'm sure I'm not the first to say so, but I was thinking about how 30 Rock is so much like The Mary Tyler Moore Show.  The comparisons just kept presenting themselves.

Liz = Mary
Jack = Lou
Pete Hornburger = Murray
Tracy Jordan = Ted
Jenna Maroni = Sue Ann

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Did Martha ruin coloring eggs?

I read a blog post where the writer was feeling nostalgic for the good old days of her childhood, where coloring eggs involved a box of PAAS and that's it.

With Pinterest, blogs and all the ideas to be seen, to be tried, it is kind of sad that it makes the basic celebration activity seem boring.  Just a heart shaped doily.  Just a colored egg.  Just a party hat.  But, it's a heart shaped doily!  It's a colored egg!  It's a party hat!  Along with the not taking of granted of things, I want to enjoy the basic celebration activities that I've always done, without the pressure of trying something NEW all the time.

The difference between feeling inspired and feeling inadequate is sometimes hard to pin down.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Taking it for granted.

I'm noticing things all around me that I take for granted.  I want to be grateful instead. 

Smoothies for breakfast.  I am thankful for frozen berries, bananas, yogurt, and a machine to whirl it all together. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Music as survival.

I've been re-reading all the "Little House" books.  In the last few pages of "On the Banks of Plum Creek" I was reading out loud to Lily, and Laura is describing how warm, how pleasant she feels in the evening with her family in her home.  The last line of that book is her Pa saying, "Look, Caroline, look how Laura's eyes are shining."  and I couldn't even read it out loud I got so choked up.

What was there?  I didn't even know.  Something about how hard it was for the Ingalls family, how hard-working and optimistic they all were.  How it would have been shameful to lose hope, how Laura seemed to see the value and cherish the moments of peace and joy.

It seems every time I re-read these stories I find a new part--last time it was The Long Winter, I could not get over how close that whole town came to dying of hunger and cold.  How Laura and Pa worked so hard for survival.  This time, it was Pa's fiddle.  I came across a story called "Grandpa's Fiddle" by Rose Wilder Lane, Laura's daughter.  In it, Laura tells Rose just how important the fiddle was:  "It's the first thing I remember, Pa's playing us to sleep when we were little, in the Big Woods of Wisconsin.  And by the campfires, all through that awful mud, across Kansas and Missouri, all the way down to Indian Territory and back, and all the way out here, across the whole of Minnesota and beyond the Big Sioux river clear to Silver Lake.  He played the fiddle by the campfire at night.  We never could--I see it now, though I didn't then--we never could have gotten through it all without Pa's fiddle."

It's true that in the stories, Pa often picked up the fiddle and played when it was probably the opposite of what he felt like doing.  He encouraged and comforted his family with his music.

It was their worship, it was their entertainment, it was their escape.  The fiddle, the music and the singing.  It was some sort of survival technique that humans have that animals don't.

Then, I came across the song, In the Evening by the Moonlight, a version sung by Nina Simone.  There is something in the singing and the fiddle.    There is something about the pleasure of it, linked to "getting through it all".