30 November 2007


joyous, humble, hesitant, restrained...the time of expectant waiting in the darkening days leading up to Christmas.

the quieted world...a time to ponder in the silence. the closeness of winter...a sense of drawing in, of homing~~ lighting candles & fires...the softest of light. the very last day of november...i would know this by the thin sunlight & its slanteven if i had no calendar. today we are cleaning our home in a very thorough manner to make room for the empty manger...advent wreath...and more candles. tonight we will light the strings of lights that will lessen the deepening dark of tomorrow's december.the last day of november also marks the end of NaBloPoMo & NaNoWriMo. i am giving a special shout-out to 2 she who blogs members who met the 50,000 word mark this month while working on their novels...

congratulations, ladies!!!!!!

and with this post, i come to the end of my own 30 days~ a post a day for this whole month! what a wonderful, creative experience it has been...i have been grateful for every single moment~~ working on my own posts & reading posts of others.

tomorrow, for the beginning of advent, please be sure to visit britt-arnhild's celebration. for those of you celebrating advent...may it be a peaceful time of renewal.

29 November 2007

dewdrops & whatnots...

oystering on the bay...string of pearls...a whole world reflected in one tiny drop...

28 November 2007

la dolce vita...

sweet!! there is a contest going on over at shelley's blog...just in time for the baking of the season...i have been a big fan of mario batali & his magnificent pastry chef gina depalma for some years now. her fig walnut biscotti from the babbo cookbook is one of my all time favorite variations on these italian cookies. in honor of ms. depalma's new book, dolce italiano, shelley & 4 other bloggers (see list below) are presenting recipes from the book, monday through friday, this week & next. all you must do to enter the contest is stop by one of these lovely blogs & leave a comment on the day of the featured recipe. the prize...a copy of ms. depalma's dolce italiano!! how much easier could this be?!? hey, even if you don't win, you still get a first-hand look at some awesome recipes...
monday...ms adventures in italy (please check her monday post!)
tuesday...lucullian delights (& check her tuesday post!)
wednesday...bleeding espresso (go here today!!)
thursday...at home in rome (the contest hostess, shelley)
italian sweets on wednesday also means what's cooking wednesday!this week's recipe has become an old stand-by & i have experimented with many variations on its flavors. i hope you enjoy it as much as we do. so brew yourself a cup of espresso or pour a glass of vin santo & enjoy...
2 c. + 2 T. flour (for chocolate biscotti, substitute 4 T. cocoa powder for 4 T. of flour)
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
whisk all together in a bowl & set aside
3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. unsalted butter
cream together until well blended & then add:
2 large eggs, one at a time. then add:
2 T. grand marnier
grated peel from 2 oranges or tangerines
blend well & then add flour mixture...finally, stir in:
1 c. nuts (walnuts-our favorite, almonds, or pecans)
1 c. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (chopped or chips work)
flavor variations we have enjoyed...
chocolate (see flour note above to adjust)
lemon (substitute grated peel from 2-3 lemons & eliminate grand marnier, use almonds)
cranberry (use orange flavorings & add 1/2 to 1 c. cranberries)
raspberry (substitute raspberry liquor for grand marnier, may keep or eliminate grated peel as preferred, & use raspberry filled chocolate chips if you are lucky enough to find them...we had them locally last holiday season)
you can, of course eliminate any flavoring, nuts (my children's request), or chocolate (why???) as you prefer...mix & match...be creative!
gather well-mixed dough & divide in half. refrigerate for 2 hours or until it handles well. flour hands & work surface well then shape each half into logs...15 inches by 2 inches, & place them on a prepared baking sheet (lined with parchment). bake about 30 minutes at 350...until logs are golden brown. transfer logs on parchment to cooling rack & cool for 30 minutes, also reduce oven temp to 300.
using a serrated knife, cut cooled logs on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices...place them upright with a bit of space between on baking sheet. bake approximately 30 minutes at 300, then cool on rack. store in airtight container.
buon appetito!!

30 days of thanks...for sweet things found on wonderful blogs!!

27 November 2007

angelus bells

i opened the door to a blast
of cold,
late november won & the warmth
slipped away.
the bell tower sounds filled my heart
with a memory of times past
when the angelus bells
meant "going home;"
not tonight, for me
as the musical notes changed
& the five dongs rang across the city
i caught my breath
& knew,
between each sound - the heralds of
the silence of the pause
whispered in my ear
of her passing
& again these angelus bells
meant "going Home."
for you, mom, today...with a heart full of gratitude.

Requiem Æternam
Réquiem ætérnam dona eis,
Dómine,et lux perpétua lúceat eis.
Requiéscant in pace.

26 November 2007

solitary refinement...

the last leaves of autumn...

hanging on in their jeweled perfection...

30 days of thanks...for the short burst of "indian summer" at the end of november. for comfortably warm days & cool fireside nights. for the nudge of anticipation i am feeling as we edge toward december. & for the celebrations of the season on the horizon!

25 November 2007


this morning, during the family-free-for-all conversation...

"does anyone want to travel in eastern europe?"

"what!! i'd love to go to 'not italy'!"

gulp. do you think i may be a bit overzealous about the bel paese?? (is that even possible?)
30 days of thanks...for brevity & levity...for a family filled with humor. for possibilities. for dreams & wishes. for a sense of adventure. for chances to see the world

24 November 2007


i didn't decide to cry
it swept over me
like a rogue wave
& i just gave up
to its current,
the salty flow
from deep within.
it gushed forth
& i struggled for breath
struck like the rock at Horeb.
dry wells do not yield
to quench thirst;
dust does not cleanse
& so these tears
were alive to me
drawn from a fruitful depth
to wash
the places of hurt.

30 days of gratitude...for comfort in the sorrow. when my parents passed away, we lived in a new place far from them. one death was expected; the other a total shock only 11 days later. 2 funerals in 7 days. no matter how hard i try each year , i cannot dodge the memories of these days...even if i did not know the calendar, i would know by the slant of light & the rhythms of life. in the midst of this time, i was certainly moving forward in the current of "what must be done"...but my heart was wrapped in a protective layer of shock.

it was in this time that love had so many faces in my life...friends who cared not one whit for the charges on their cell phone bills~ they called often & talked as long as i needed. friends who dropped everything & came. friends who told other friends who told other friends & for the prayers of them all~ i could feel them every waking moment. new friends who were far away were no longer new friends...on our return home just days before Christmas after nearly a month away they had filled the frig & decorated the entire house & made sure we did not celebrate Christmas alone. friends who took the children out for fun (they really needed that) when i needed some down time. friends who recognized my slobbery, weeping voice when i called but could not speak for a bit. for Father F. who listened to my sorrowing struggles & gently helped with the funerals...as did B., a family friend & our funeral director~~a man so very kind & so very gifted in his work~ he is just what a grieving family needs. D.'s parents, who had the children nearly the entire month surrounding the illness, hospitals & funeral planning. D.~~ who was a circle of love around me the entire time protecting me from so many things, never considering himself through it all.

& i have a deep, deep gratitude for my faith...somewhere, at the core of it all, in the worst days, i could feel the love of God wrapped around me like the most comfortable quilt. i can't explain. i don't even care to.

23 November 2007


after the bountiful table of yesterday,i sit here visiting blogs & sipping my favorite coffee, still full (if you can believe it). in my blog-weaving i found a new read & yet another reminder to feel gratitude for the abundance. bella mocha (a fellow haiku writer on one deep breath) mentioned a site...free rice...which i had previously found on bleeding espresso.
as they both note, this site can be addictive. while you are testing your vocabulary (& possibly showing your great skills to your family & friends ;), you are helping alleviate world hunger. for every word you correctly choose, 10 grains of rice are donated through the United Nations. the rice is paid for by the advertisers you see at the bottom of the screen. if you like words, you can't go wrong here...unless you inadvertantly lose an hour or so playing the game!
if you are wallowing in abundance today, why not take a moment or two~~ maybe even skip lunch~~ to donte rice & boost your brain. also please take a few moments to explore related sites...
poverty.com ~ sister site of free rice

United Nations World Programme ~ they distribute the rice

30 days of thanks...gratitude for the internet & those who make it a place of peace, hope & joy (you know who you are ;)

22 November 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!!

30 days of thanks...gratitude for an entire day that is one giant reminder to be grateful!...for family & friends near & far, for safe journeys, for food that is wrapped in lovely memories...

may you all have great joy in counting your blessings!

21 November 2007

getting in the holiday spirit...

30 days of thanks...

can this be day 21 of this wonderful theme? is it really Thanksgiving here in the US tomorrow already? my kitches says it is so!...the counter is beginning to fill with baked goods, the ever-present turkey is ready to be stuffed. i look around at all the abundance of this season of plenty. how can i not feel gratitude... for having enough to feel full~ in the heart & in the tummy, for the delights of the season's produce, for the recipes handed on to continue the traditions, for the aromas that will swirl all through the house today & tomorrow, for the chance to sit together at the table~ all six of us!~ & enjoy the bounty of laughter & love!...

i also feel deep gratitude for the memories of shared holidays with those we love... those who cannot be here any longer. my momma prepared thanksgiving dinners for most of my earlier childhood. by the time i was in high school, daddy's sister~ aunt O.~ decided that her siblings needed to draw closer as they were aging. she began hosting a beautiful thanksgiving meal every year over a period of a decade. she prepared the bird & its dressing with many side dishes. my aunts & momma also provided sides to the affair. many of the recipes were similar to momma's own recipes. these meals, overflowing with love, are some of the very best memories from my teens & early 20's. as happens with the passing of time, aunt O. found herself too overwhelmed to host on such a grand scale. this was around the time Baby Girl & K-Bug were babies. i was also overwhelmed at this time with the obvious tasks of early motherhood & found myself preferring to not pack the car for holiday jaunts. logically, this lead to yet another way to celebrate...i would host the holiday! i did so with great joy...my momma, my aunts & i in the kitchen with babies at our feet. what a very special few years they were.
now, my momma & my aunt O. have gone from this world. but the love does indeed live on. those babies are no longer at my feet...their hands are in the preparations. & i pass the torch of family recipes to them! for what's cooking wednesday i decided to share one of momma's traditional recipes (nearly identical to my aunts' recipes too)...her stuffing/dressing/filling~~whatever you call it...i call it very good!
Stuffing for a 10-12 lb. bird + one casserole dish (~2 qt.)

*melt 2 sticks butter on stove top & add 1 large yellow onion, diced, & 2-3 ribs celery, diced. saute until desired softness.

*place 16-20 cups semi soft bread cubes (i now use whole grain wheat - 2 loaves) in a large container

*season bread with salt, pepper, parsley, & nutmeg...i use fresh ground spices & fresh parsley, but momma did not~ it's all good!

*pour butter mix over the bread

*whisk 5-6 large eggs & pour over bread

*add milk to bread mix to achieve desired consistancy

*stuff your bird's cavities

*for remaining stuffing...butter a 2 qt. casserole dish & pat stuffing into it...poke holes with your fingers across the top of the stuffing...pour basting juices from your baking bird over the top of the stuffing...bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, then serve.

may you all have a blessed, peaceful, wonderful thanksgiving!!

20 November 2007

opening...4 stories high

travel (nearby)...what a very special treat...while on the town with D., having lunch in a darling caffe, we saw the poster for an opening exhibition featuring Xris Kessler's art..."you were there with me: New Perspectives on the Sky"..."Closedown"...acrylic on canvas...source

the light was perfect...

an admiring public...Xris with our favorite work of the evening ("Faith"...oil on canvas)...his inspiration...actual view from the 4th...also from the 4th...model for "closedown"...& Xris - we've got your back. literally..."last dance" & "prayers for rain" by spinning fire light...room with a view...
fire theatrics...amazing!...thank you Xris, Johnnie, Bobby (videographer) & Seraphire Productions (fire theatrics!) for a fabulous evening!

please respect the artist & his exceptional work...do not use his images without permission. please click on the link (his name above) & contact him directly if you have any questions.

all artwork in this post is Xris's; all photos are mine.
30 days of thanks...
for those who live their gifts, sharing the beauty with those around them...

19 November 2007

"four score & seven years ago..."

a travel reflection for today...D. & i were frequent visitors to gettysburg, PA when we lived nearby. i wrote this a few years ago on the anniversary (november 19) of lincoln's gettysburg address while we were staying in gettysburg...a reflection on why so many return to places of great battles, tracing steps & remembering...

the solitary leaf, the very last from the tree, fell without a sound in late november's heavy twilight. surrounded by shades of grey & brown, in the somber quiet, i wondered why we had come. is it to mourn those who passed more than a century ago, those we never knew? is it to pray for the healing of a national wound that still pains us?

when we are at peace as a people, death comes in many places, mostly solitary, sporadic. but when we are at war, when there is a great battle, death comes with much fierceness. the solitary, sporadic deaths of our ordinary lives create rippled voids as life's energy leaves our dimension. the mass deaths in war, so many at one time, in one place leave a great vacuum in there ~ a huge void that we, in later times, struggle to smooth & soothe.

it takes many of us, over time, to restore the gentle balance & heal ~ we come to stand in that place, imagining...bringing our energy to the vacuum...asking, "why?"...praying, "never again."

30 days of thanks...remembering those who have died for freedom's sake...with much gratitude.

18 November 2007

sacred objects...

30 days of thanks...gratitude for memories of a life fully lived...

the thought of this, the looking deeply around myself ~ what an experience, to count one's blessings like this!
so many beautiful memories rose to the surface as i pondered...
what a journey filled with joy...

i did not need to look very hard for the first...my wedding band (just like rochambeau!)...the meaning behind this simple piece of jewelry (the one i always wear)...promises of an endless love that circle round the two of us each & every day...
my momma's chapel veil & First Communion rosary & my grandpa's childhood prayerbook...they passed their faith to me, so lovingly...i cherish them...
my daddy's wedding band...i also wear it now that he is gone from here...it was always on his finger my entire life...his devotion to my momma also an endless circle of love & a beautiful example to me...
my daddy's binoculars...what did he see when he held them to his eyes? the world was full of wonder for him & every time i look through them i hope to have clarity... a handful of love notes my daddy wrote to momma when he was stationed in the territory of alaska while she remained in pennsylvania...the sweetness of new love & the longing across the miles...
my daddy's last birthday card to my momma...he was so very ill, nearing death...he called me & asked what he should do...he had never, ever not given momma a card, but going out to buy one was out of the question...i suggested he make a card...he just said, "oh"...& i found that card while going through my momma's treasured items after her death...
another treasure...a silk red & gold scarf that made the journey with my great-great grandfather from ireland to the US...
3 quilts, made by my daddy's momma...from scraps of their depression-era life...pieces of shirts, dresses, pants, & things unknown...a patchwork of life, each stitch a story of ordinary days laid out in a pattern of homemade love...
more notes...just a sampling of them...hand-created by each of my dear children for a myriad of occasions...i cannot part with their sweet expressions of love...& thus i tuck them in books all about the house...only to find on a day when i least expect it & most need it...
a sweet, delicate bracelet threaded with my birthstone...the second birthday gift given to me from my birth mother, J. (the first gift she gave was life!)...after a very long stretch of years, we finally celebrated together last year!...
small & tall...2 delicate pieces, one from each grandmother...the limoge pitcher from daddy's momma & the other from momma's momma...her "little girl" cup...
a heartfelt gift...filled with sentiment...so very treasured...a gift from my D., made from a find on our beach...my very favorite necklace charm...
another note...the kind that requires a tissue with every read...found at the very bottom of my momma's valuable papers...she was not a lady of letters, for sure...but she knew that i would find & treasure her simple reassurance when she was gone from here...
& finally...17 red roses that washed up on our beach & into my arms 2 days before last Christmas...that story will have to be another post, i promise...
my sacred objects...each & every one of them lead back to the people i love so dearly!

what are your sacred objects?