Thursday, August 29, 2013

Summer's Bounty Ratatouille


It has been a while since I  have posted a recipe, but here is what simmered on my stove tonight, making the whole house smell heavenly.  I made a double batch of this summer favorite--some for us and some for a recovering-from-illness friend for dinner tomorrow.  At some point soon, I need to put a few containers in my freezer for a January treat when fresh garden vegetables are a distant memory.

Summer Garden Ratatouille

2 onions (chopped)
4 cloves garlic minced
1 bay leaf

Saute' in 3 tablespoons olive oil about 5 minutes.

1 medium eggplant (chopped)
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh basil chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh marjoram chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)

Add cover and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until eggplant is soft about 15-20 minutes. 

2 summer squash chopped
2 green, orange or red sweet peppers (cut in strips)
2 cups tomatoes chopped

Add and simmer until peppers and squash are tender about 10 minutes.  Serve over pasta or polenta sprinkled with chopped fresh parsley, black olives, or freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Pay Attention

"From the simplest lyric to the most complex novel and densest drama, 
literature is asking us to pay attention...

Pay attention to the frog.

 Pay attention to the west wind. 

Pay attention to the boy on the raft, 

the lady in the tower,

 the old man on the train. 

In sum, pay attention to the world and all that dwells therein 

and thereby learn at last 
to pay attention to yourself and all that dwells therein.”

from Whistling in the Dark
by Frederick Buechner

Monday, August 19, 2013


Her bib says, "It's my birthday," and indeed it is.  Today our sweet Rosemary is one year old.  We wish for you so much as...

The world unfolds before you--

new people, spaces, and
wonders await each day
 you adventure along the way.

Happy Birthday, Rosie!  

(Miss Rosemary's birthday sweater made from this pattern.)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Circles of Women: Circles of Friends

It was a week of circles of friends, gathering with many of the women who spin the spheres of my life.

Tuesday my fellow yearning yogis encircled our mats and our hearts around our Altheda, who lost her husband of 25 years just the day before.  This magical moment of tender mercy and deep affection gave testimony to the wisdom and guidance of our inspired teacher as well as to the faithfulness of our group of two years.  Together we have grown in strength, flexibility, spirit, and friendship as we breathe and flow together.

Wednesday some of my dearest school friends pulled up chairs and lounged for hours in our sun room catching up, celebrating good news, and relishing time to sip a glass of wine and simply be together. It was hard to part.  Some of us return to the classroom this week, others of us continue carving out a life in retirement, but all of us care deeply about education and about each other.

Yesterday, a sizable group of church women of all ages, met to work on mission quilts.  We ate, and cut, and pinned, and sewed, and knotted, and taught each other; women for centuries have met in churches doing much the same, quietly and gently making this world softer, warmer, and brighter.

Today, some family and family friends met to celebrate our Rosie's first birthday.  Her Nonna and her Nana both love this little girl so deeply as together we add depth and dimension to her ongoing story.

The women in my life comfort me, guide me, inspire me, delight me, showing me new paths on this journey we share.  I am better, blessed, and most grateful to have them all in my life.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Okay is all right

Television coupled with knitting is routine evening relaxation for me.  Jim and I have been binge watching the series Parenthood this summer, and we are both captivated by the realistic story lines, the compelling acting, and enthralling themes of this absorbing comedic drama.  At a time when so much of tube watching seems vacuous, this is good television.  Since I don't want to be distracted while enjoying my show, my knitting projects often proceed automatically; they are, what I term, "television knitting."

Television knitting has to be something requiring minimal concentration and focus.  That is largely why I gravitate toward easy patterns, ones that contain elementary stitching such as seed stitch, garter stitch, stockinette stitch etc.  I can knit socks pretty effortlessly, as well as children's sweaters, prayer shawls, hats, cowls, etc. etc.  Lately, I've been working on a green basketweave throw.  I took it with me on our four-hour trip to New Jersey last weekend, since car knitting is much like television knitting.

I think I do the same thing with sewing projects--chose simple projects (except for the applique quilt I recently finished).  I like to make easy-to-sew patterns that are roundly useful.  I have made and continue to make a lot of tote bags.  It is fun to choose combinations of fabric,  and they are ever so handy for so many things,  especially a quick personal gift.  This one is for Jamie's daycare has a lettered print lining.

Joshua Foer in his book Moonwalking with Einstein calls this settling into what's comfortable and not too taxing the "OK plateau," or "the point at which you decide you're OK with how good you are at something, turn on autopilot, and stop improving." I guess that is why knitters and quilters keep taking classes to hone their skills and expand their ability boundaries.  Most of the time, I perch on this OK plateau, content with what I consider an acceptable level of performance for me.  My handwork fuels a need for a daily dose of creativity, serving as a switch to tune my brain to another frequency, a resting place for wandering thoughts.  Keeping my hands busy  calms my mind.  And it need not be virtuoso performance to soothe my soul.

Friday, August 2, 2013


Happy! Birthday to our sweet little Jaybird who is two years old today For certain our lives and the world is a better place with this happy little guy around.   Enjoy your day, Jamie!  We are so glad you are here....

(Jamie's birthday sweater, knit from  this Cottage Creation pattern out of Berroco Comfort  yarn.)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lost and Found

My husband lost his wedding band last week.  And then it was found.  It makes for a good story--you know, the kind with a happy ending.

Last week, Jim took our grandson to one of his and our favorite summer swimming holes, Whipple Dam State Park.  They were having a grand old wet time when Jim felt his wedding ring slip right off his finger.  For over an hour, he, Alex, and a couple kids with goggles searched to no avail for the gold band.  At one point, a worried grandson asked his grandad, "Are you going to tell Nana?"

When my two guys came home, the first thing my husband of 41 years said to me was, "I lost my wedding ring."  I could tell he was really sad about it.  So I listened to the story with appropriate sympathy, and then in an attempt to make him feel better, I suggesting resizing my father's gold wedding ring. If Jim could not longer wear the ring I gave him when we married over four decades ago, I would feel really good about him wearing the band my father once wore for over 50 years.  The next day, Jim retrieved Dad's ring from our safety deposit box and took it to the jewelry store to have it sized, engraved with our wedding date (alongside Mom and Dad's initials), and polished up.  I considered this the best ending possible to Jim's tale of woe.

But my husband wasn't willing to give up so easily.  He remembered a recent story in our local newspaper about a Penn State student who had discovered a 50 year old State College High School class ring.  "If I can find the name of that student, maybe I can contact him and he can find my ring," Jim asserted.  After searching unsuccessfully online and fruitlessly through our stack of to-be-recycled newspapers, we walked down to our local library when they archive a bigger stack of recent local newspapers when Jim easily found the article and the name.  After a quick search of the Penn State directory, he found what he thought was the man he was looking for and he dashed off an email.  That night we met Rob, his blue truck, and his charming girlfriend Ally at the state park.

While Ally and I stood at waters' edge, Jim and Rob waded in, metal detector and shovel in hand, to the approximate site where Jim was fairly certain his ring left his finger.  A systematic search ensued. After almost an hour, I was just about ready to suggest that we abandon the quest. Rob was shivering, and it seemed to me highly unlikely that a small gold band could be found in a rather vast lake, even if Jim had isolated the probable area.  Our ring finder extraordinaire, suggested that perhaps moving inland a bit might be good idea.  Maybe, he said, the ring had been kicked in.  Within a couple minutes of repositioning the metal detector, Ally and I could hear a distinctly different buzz.  Rob said, "we definitely have a reading here of something located about four inches down.  I don't want to get your hopes up, but I think we are on to something."  In went the shovel.  One scoop.  Nothing.  The second scoop.  Nothing.  And then....Rob lifted up the third shovelful and whoop and holler erupted simultaneously from both Jim and Rob.  Right on top of the the small mound of sand rested Jim's gold ban.  Success!  I couldn't believe it! My husband was right all along--the lost can be found if you hope, believe, and search enough!