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Be sure to stop by my author page from time to time

In the meantime, while you're here, pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee or a cuppa tea, have a piece of pie and always feel free to speak your mind, and your heart, here at Meanderings and Muses.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Mary Oliver







My heart is broken.

I claim no personal connection with Mary Oliver.

I was never lucky enough to meet her, or even glimpse her from afar.

But.

I can, like many others, attest to a deep connection to her work.

I can, like many others, rejoice in the fact of her words.

I can browse through Facebook posts and catch snippets and phrases from her work.

Snippets that resonate.  And urge me to find the full piece from which it came.  

And then allow me to rejoice, wallow and indulge myself in her words yet again.







I can walk around our house and reach up to a shelf to pull out a book of her work -- poems, essays, prose poems -- and smile that it's there.  

She has helped ease me through some tough times.

She has soothed me into sleep.

She's been there simply for the joy of reading words written in such a way as to cause me to catch my breath and read again - oftentimes aloud.

Mary Oliver could not help but know she was admired, loved, and revered by many.

I wish she had known that I was one of them.

Knowing the possibility of ever catching that brief glimpse has now passed makes me enormously sad.

I know I'll never be able to tell her how much I truly loved her work.

But I celebrate her life by gathering her books, placing them on my nightstand, and knowing she will be here.  

Here on my nightstand, and here in my heart.






Monday, January 14, 2019

An Icy Day at Home


is beautiful.

Especially when observed safely from the back door.







Sunday, January 13, 2019

Finding that one special gem


I had an accumulation of books that had ended up in a huge pile in our sunroom.

Usually I am pretty good about going through piles of books I bring home from Malice, or Bouchercon, or a full day at 2nd and Charles. 

But for some reason (laziness, truth be told), I'd been pretty slack about this the past few years. 

Resulting in a pile that intimidated me. 





Motivation finally hit and I've spent a lot of time sorting the pile, deciding what would stay, what would go, finding some gems along with some "why do I have this?"

That woman who thinks you shouldn't own more than 30 books would have vapors and quite possibly pass out if she were to walk into this house, bless her heart.


This is just one corner of one room of a home full of books.



I have gotten rid of many of "that pile" of books, but have also kept many (way more than 30).


Here's the last pile to be sorted (those shelves will just have to happen at another time!)





BUT - I found one book I do not remember buying or winning or being gifted with and I must say - it most definitely "sparked joy." 

I'm reading it now and hoping it never ends. 

Alice Steinbach's "Without Reservations."




I am completed captivated by Ms. Steinbach's stories and her voice. 

Rather than being sad not to have discovered her sooner, I'm celebrating the fact of discovering her. 

She was a Pulitzer Prize winning self-taught journalist and columnist at The Baltimore Sun who interviewed some amazing people before taking a sabbatical to travel and write about her experiences and adventures. 

The sabbatical became, I believe, a full time adventure of writing, traveling, teaching and lecturing. 

What a lovely, fun loving, curious, observant, honest, gutsy, storyteller extraordinaire woman Alice Steinbach was.

One of those women we all would love to have in our lives.  



Thursday, January 10, 2019

Taking Down the Tree



“Give me some light!” cries Hamlet’s
uncle midway through the murder
of Gonzago. “Light! Light!” cry scattering
courtesans. Here, as in Denmark,
it’s dark at four, and even the moon
shines with only half a heart.
The ornaments go down into the box:
the silver spaniel, My Darling
on its collar, from Mother’s childhood
in Illinois; the balsa jumping jack
my brother and I fought over,
pulling limb from limb. Mother
drew it together again with thread
while I watched, feeling depraved
at the age of ten.
With something more than caution
I handle them, and the lights, with their
tin star-shaped reflectors, brought along
from house to house, their pasteboard
toy suitcase increasingly flimsy.
Tick, tick, the desiccated needles drop.
By suppertime all that remains is the scent
of balsam fir. If it’s darkness
we’re having, let it be extravagant.

     by Jane Kenyon



our little tree in our little sunroom
photo by "me"

Monday, December 31, 2018

Another New Year's A-comin'



Laura Lippman is a writer I admire. 

Additionally, she's a woman I admire. 

And each year she reminds me, and others, by her own example, to choose a one-word resolution for the new year. 

Reading the words that others have chosen is always something I look forward to and enjoy. 

And it's always a bit of a challenge for me to come up with a word that I might actually be able to observe and follow. 

My word for 2019 is savor. 

I want to try to remember to savor the good things in my life. 

While I will not stop fighting and speaking out against the things I do not savor, I want to be more respectful to the goodness I am blessed with.


Here's wishing you all a Happy New Year!





Sunday, December 30, 2018

Paris is always a good idea


A few days ago while browsing around in Facebook at some of my favorite art pages, I ran across a new-to-me artist, Dee Jenkins, and her painting; Missing Paris.

It struck a chord with me.

People love Paris, and have for many years.

It remains at the top of the list, for many, as the place they most want to visit, or once visited, return.



Some of us having visited Paris now feel its pull.




Recently, someone asked "Why on earth would you want to go back to someplace you've already been?"



While I knew what they were getting at, I was still a little stunned.




It's PARIS!





Okay.  So.  Maybe some people aren't as fascinated by the French as I am.  

Maybe some people believe the French to be rude.

I've only met one waiter in Paris who fits that old stereotype of "rude French people/waiters."






How many rude people/waiters do you meet in your own environment on a fairly regular basis?









Convincing Donald to go with me last year proved to be a very good thing.





We had a lovely time.  

We explored and had adventures.  

We got lost and laughed.  





We ate well, which is ALWAYS high on our list to do while traveling.




And, he too, fell in love with the City of Light.





It wasn't long after arriving back home, while reminiscing about our trip that we started talking about the fact that we had not gotten to all the Parisian carousels we had intended to.





There were several reasons for this.



My hip, for one.  

Walking in Paris was hindered by my wonky hip.





And - we were't there long enough.





And some of the carousels we did manage to find were closed.




Or, they had been moved.





So, naturally, it's only right that we return to Paris and finish the job.




And, thanks to a kind and very understanding publisher, we were granted an extension on the book we're working on.  





Our photo book of the carousels of Paris may be later than we had originally hoped, but it's still in the works.



We'll be going back next year.




And in addition to the carousels for photos, we'll get to visit some places we have not yet been.





And revisit some places that are tugging at our hearts to come see again.













Liberté, Equalité, Fraternité





Sunday, December 23, 2018

It's "Let's Bake a Cake" Day



And I have THE book for finding THE perfect recipe.


I was up very late last night.  I was reading an advance copy of Ruth Reichl's "Save Me the Plums: My Gourmet Memoir."


I love every word Ruth Reichl has ever written and reading her stories about her time with Gourmet Magazine is sublime.  


I was a Gourmet fanatic for many years and saved several year's worth of magazines until it was just ridiculous to continue.


It was hard to toss them all, but toss them I did.  


But only after tearing our many, many, many articles and recipes.


One article was saved for a lot of years until that particular dream came true.


It was about Greece.  And it mentioned a jeweler and a tiny shop which could be found on an out of the way side street in Athens.


(I think I'll save that story for another day . . . )


Suffice to say, I did finally get to Greece and I did find the little shop and I did buy a little something and I will treasure it forever - the trip, the experience AND the piece I brought home.


Back to Ruth Reichl . . . 


As my eyes started telling me it was way past my bedtime last night I realized I was starving.  You cannot read too much written by Ruth Reichl without wanting to eat.


At 3 a.m. I was prowling about the house eating pecans and looking for my old Best of Gourmet cookbooks, which refused to show themselves.


But I did find Bibb Jordan's "The Pound Cake Cookbook."


I adore this little cookbook!




If you've been reading Meanderings and Muses for awhile, chances are you've seen some recipes I've posted here.


I "almost" pulled out a Bundt pan at 3:20 a.m., but realized that was just a dumb idea - only because I'd probably fall asleep while the cake was in the oven and, at the very least, burn the cake to the cinder, if not the house.


So.


I got up this morning (okay, I admit - late morning) with  a plan.  





A plan which was tempered by the fact that every recipe that appealed to me asked for something that was not here, and me getting in the car, leaving the house, driving 10 miles to the grocery store, was not in today's cards.  No. 


Not going to happen. 


So I found a recipe that didn't ask for much, but which I knew would be delicious.  It's Bibb Jordan, after all.


I had eggs, I had sugar, flour, butter and an unopened bottle of orange extract.  


Perfect!


Susan's Orange Pound Cake is cooling as we speak.





While it's cooling - here's the recipe:

Ingredients:

3 sticks of butter (room temperature)
2 cups of sugar
6 large eggs (room temperature)
3 cups of sifted flour
2 Tbsps. orange extract (1 fluid ounce jar)


Instructions:

Butter and flour a 10 inch tube pan.
Cream together butter and sugar.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Add flour gradually.
Add orange extract.
Pour batter into prepared pan.
Place cake into a COLD oven.
Set temperature at 325 and bake for an hour and 15 minutes.
Allow the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15-20 minutes.
Turn cake out onto the wire rack and allow to cool.


If, you're like me and Donald, you won't be able to let it cool for long . . . 




Ummmm, ummm - Enjoy!


And now I'm going back to finish reading my new Ruth Reichl book!


Here's wishing you something good to read, AND eat!







Friday, December 21, 2018

Toward the Winter Solstice - Timothy Steele


Although the roof is just a story high,
It dizzies me a little to look down.
I lariat-twirl the cord of Christmas lights
And cast it to the weeping birch’s crown;
A dowel into which I’ve screwed a hook
Enables me to reach, lift, drape, and twine
The cord among the boughs so that the bulbs
Will accent the tree’s elegant design.
Friends, passing home from work or shopping, pause
And call up commendations or critiques.
I make adjustments. Though a potpourri
Of Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and Sikhs,
We all are conscious of the time of year;
We all enjoy its colorful displays
And keep some festival that mitigates
The dwindling warmth and compass of the days.
Some say that L.A. doesn’t suit the Yule,
But UPS vans now like magi make
Their present-laden rounds, while fallen leaves
Are gaily resurrected in their wake;
The desert lifts a full moon from the east
And issues a dry Santa Ana breeze,
And valets at chic restaurants will soon
Be tending flocks of cars and SUVs.
And as the neighborhoods sink into dusk
The fan palms scattered all across town stand
More calmly prominent, and this place seems
A vast oasis in the Holy Land.
This house might be a caravansary,
The tree a kind of cordial fountainhead
Of welcome, looped and decked with necklaces
And ceintures of green, yellow, blue, and red.
Some wonder if the star of Bethlehem
Occurred when Jupiter and Saturn crossed;
It’s comforting to look up from this roof
And feel that, while all changes, nothing’s lost,
To recollect that in antiquity
The winter solstice fell in Capricorn
And that, in the Orion Nebula,
From swirling gas, new stars are being born.





Tuesday, December 18, 2018

What is the colour of Christmas?



What is the colour of Christmas?
Red?
The red of the toy shops on a dark winter’s afternoon,
Of Father Christmas and the robin’s breast?
Or green?
Green of holly and spruce and mistletoe in the house,
dark shadow of summer in leafless winter?
One might plainly add a romance of white,
fields of frost and snow;
thus white, green, red- reducing the event to the level of a Chianti bottle.
But many will say that the significant colour is gold,
gold of fire and treasure, of light in the winter dark; and this gets closer,
For the true colour of Christmas is Black.
Black of winter, black of night, black of frost and of the east wind,
black of dangerous shadows beyond the firelight.


— William Sansom

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Oh, Annabelle


Me: 
"Who's a pretty girl?" 




Annabelle:
"I'm a pretty girl!"



Annabelle:
"Now take this dumb thing OFF my head!"