Travelogue

  Last month my dear husband and I traveled from our Pennsylvania home to Iowa and back, visiting friends and family, taking in a nephews wedding and enjoying the scenery. I never get tired of the scenery but I didn’t take very many pictures because I’ve been this way so many times before and there are pictures. And I do it to amuse myself.

But since then my mother has passed from this life and we are on our way back to celebrate her life with our family. The trip feels a little swan songish as we won’t feel the same compulsion to make this annual trek. So we are driving again and I am taking in The beauty. When we came through a month ago I was in awe of the each states beauty and how they differ, not only in their landforms but the foliage, the types of trees. The goldenrod was nearly bursting everywhere or had just burst. We traveled a little north to Kalamazoo to see my aunt and uncle and as we went up 94 it felt like we were in a meadow! Kudos to the Michigan DOT for not mowing all the wildflowers along the highway! When we got back to Pennsylvania, I thought, this is beautiful, too! I think that always runs through my head when I get home.

Yesterday as traveled through the mountains we took in one Vista after another. The ones I like especially is of deep broad valleys with the village in them and farms scattered around. The Mail Pouch tobacco batns, the preserved barns, the dilapidated seen better days barns, the Georgian farmhouses and sometimes the tiny house where people live to keep the farm alive. I felt compelled to tell Joel I will always dream about owning/living on a farm, but I probably don’t have what it takes. So he drives and I drool. The harvest has begun by this time and the corn and began feels are tan, the corn cobs hanging heavy. The tan sets off the green patches around them . We can see how farmers have begun to diversify with sunflowers, potatoes and watermelon!

Illinois so far. Thankful for RainX
Do you know who Ernie Pyle is? The name is familiar, but now I want to look him up and read what he wrote. I’ve been fascinated with early 20th century lately.
My parents began their married life and family near here and his parents lived here. Whenever the sign I feel like saying hello to what used to be.
Spaghetti squash?
Sunshine on trees in a cloudy patch

A patch of sunshine on the field
Oh how I love what this space does for my mind and soul!
Interesting sight as we travel on the highway!
Watermelon field with a loo!😃
Migrant workers

Those are Ohio. Now for PA

So the top one is entering the mountain range and eventually you see us coming through the last tunnel of four into sunny evening. Now I’m caught up and will add to the top so if you want to follow this, the top will be the most recent. I’ll edit from time to time. recent.

Life’s little breakthroughs

I call myself n old lady Y grandmother didn’t like that term. She preferred to think of herself as an elderly woman, but you get o the same place. You’ve lived long enough to do the same things over and over, ad then you get a little breakthrough.

All m life I have dreaded vacuuming the stairs. When I was a kid we had a canister vacuum to lug up the stairs as we vacuumed. It was heavy and I as clumsy and I worried every time that I would drop it. Then one day I did. Someone said, “Now look what you’ve done!” I could see that pretty much without anyone pointing it out. My mom got out her handy dandy masking tape and taped it back together and we listened to the air swooshing through that tape every time we vacuumed. As I had children, I could assign them to the stairs, buying had held gadgets to make the job easier. But they are long gone and I am stuck with it. I had a long hose for awhile which wasn’t so bad but about a year ago I got another vacuum and the long hose didn’t fit. So I was hauling it up and own the stair with me.

It’s a Shark and there are buttons for this and that to maintain it and I saw one I didn’t recognize so I pushed it and voila! The motorize head detaches, making the upper part easy to carry as I work, no need for long hoses! I can whip through all 26 steps in one blow, going upstairs and down to the basement! There’s no unsteadiness! Ain’t life exciting?

Black and White

Yesterday we went to a funeral of a 93 year old woman from my church. Old enough to be my mother.  Our lives bumped into each other more than they intertwined. Her husband had been a (retired) interim pastor in a church our pastor moved to. Her daughter went to the same church we did for a while. Where we really made contact was at a women’s retreat where I led the singing. The speaker was  a woman who had lost a son some years before. My friend, Bert, had also lost a son. It was an emotional time. I had had my own emotional stresses that year. Bert’s song  for the time of sadness in her life was ‘For those Tears I Died’. And she wanted to sing it. And, lucky her, I have this great memory bank, I could do it. I pretty much cried through it while Bert stood next to me and propped me up! We were friends after that. I usually saw her at special church events and knew I would have a good conversation partner. When we started to go to the same church as she did a few years ago, she had aged , but she was almost always in the foyer, in a comfortable chair, ready for a chat. The day came when I noticed she hadn’t been for a while, so I went for a visit. That was when I learned about their pastorate in Baltimore city, in a community that was largely black . In the 60’s.  In the riots of 1968, the whites got outta that neighborhood, but Bert and her family stayed. They stayed for nearly 30 years. But that was some time ago. Practically 30 years have passed since then. But yesterday, for her service, they drove up to Pennsylvania for her memorial service.  They told how Bert and her husband had stayed, served, were real with them, mentored them, fed them, treated them like their own kids. They were the reality of Jesus’ love to them. That is how Black and White can come together and worship and praise God together. It was a thing of beauty. I think it was Martin Luther King would refer to as the Beloved Community. I long for it.

A Bunch of Half thoughts

My desk is covered with a bunch of half thoughts. Things that take more steps to finish, waiting for someone to call back, or open up,. So I go do something else. And there you got it , another half thought sitting on my desk. And then there are the might as wells. I would like to meet Mrs. Finishathought someday, like in the mirror! I feel like it would take me all day to finish the half thoughts on my desk! And I don’t want to do that today! I had other ideas! But maybe I can finish a few… There, I can see the top of my desk and move my computer a little without knocking something off, oh and space for the pencil sharpener. But maybe I can go sew without feeling guilty about the messy half thought desk in the room. Nope, not taking a picture. Its too dusty. That’s a half a thought that can wait!

Country done gone to Town….

….is an old saying to describe how odd it is when a country person goes to Town and acts ‘country’. I am that person. But that’s not exactly what I mean now. What I mean is that Country (me) has gone to Town and I like  town. I did not know how long I could last here and some things Are a trial, but I think it has made me more tender-hearted  toward people. 

People live in the city for different reasons. They like the city; they are scared of the country; they want to be close to what cities offer; they don’t have a car; they are handicapped. We were looking for a house under $100k. In this crowded space, I have learned to live communally in a way I never did in the country. A little while back I had been away for a week. I was trudging down the sidewalk , dragging my suitcase and my 3 yr old neighbor popped out the front door and said , “Surprise!” What a welcome home! Driving through the city makes you think about everybody. I used to think city people have no street manners. When you live here ,it is not houses, sidewalk , street. It is a fluid cityscape and you need to be aware if you are sitting behind a motor with a steering wheel. There is a lack of manners, but that happens with any People group. It’s just easier to see when it’s not your people group.People do lovely things in their little tiny gardens/yards./spaces.  I often walk down an alley to go to The market and there is hardly more than wall. space . One resident puts flower boxes on top of the wall for a spot of color with vines trailing down. There is a rain garden full of wildflowers like a meadow. Someone else had a trough water garden in the 3 foot space between the house and the alley. I used to peek over the fence to see in it. And then there is the willow tree. It was cut back to the trunk when the house was on the market. The house sits on a bit of rise and I can see far and wide. It made me think I could live here. And then the neighbor let it sprout. It now towers high above the house and is the bane of my existence in several ways I will not go into, except to say it dominates the backyard. It does get cut back now and then, but it is still huge. The surrounding neighbors love it. They think it looks cool. It is a landmark. Whenever the saw comes out for a trimming, they gather round, worrying it is going to be cut down. I have lived here for 13 years. There has been a lot of talk about what to do about the willow tree. The last conversation , I felt sort of shut down. I mused about it for a while, and then decided I had to let it go. We can think of so many nice things we could grow there, if it weren’t shadowing and taking up all the energy, but no one is interested, or can picture that.

I’ve mentioned before how we had three houses go up for sale on our short block and we got three great replacements. They have all had babies since they moved here and we have watched them grow, learn to talk, to say our names. Their ages range from almost 4 to 7. We look out for each other in a way I never could if I were living in my 5 dream acres.

There are a couple things I have done over these years. One is learning a piano piece by Brahms and the other is copy poetry. I wouldn’t call it calligraphy,but I do use specific alphabets. What happens inside of me was unexpected. One can never skim over Brahms. You have to experience every note to get it. When writing the poetry in a careful way, it makes me live inside of it and absorb it far more than if I just read it. You don’t understand a thing until you take it in and accommodate it, whatever it is.

Back to Basics

Aargh! I am tired of the silence! I may have much not to say, but I am going to let out what is in my head. I will warn you, it may not even be interesting, it may sound stupid or boring to you, but I need to write and I think it will do my insides good if I do, And you can read and listen of you want. What is my catalyst is a printout I made of my first year of blogging. It is pre-facebook and so I blogged about everything. So I have decided it is where I want to be, at my desk and punching a keyboard. If I miss some typos, sorry. So here are some changes in my life. I don’t teach so much anymore. It makes me feel like my life is boring and I haven’t much to say. I did teach this past year one day a week. I don’t know the families well, so I am not saying much about the kids in this very public place, but it was a good experience Not going back. No bad feelings, just where I have arrived. I have blood pressure issues. It makes me tired. Working on them. One day my 40 something doctor called me young and strong and I thought about it for the next few days and came to the conclusion that what I am is not young and strong. I didn’t see how she could look at me and think that. Then I went with the 60+ to get my vaccination, and the cardiologist and as I looked around, I thought, “Yep, I’m young and strong!” I told her the next time I saw her! BUT, there are new realities. I feel like I am at the opposite of the life spectrum from a 12 year old. Change is happening, it won’t always be this hard, but I am not going back to what I was. Yes, I had a sleep apnea test, in case anyone of you are wondering about that and if you want to know about it, you can call me and Talk. My physical stamina may be going with my emotional stamina right behind it, but my capacity to enjoy life is not. Roaring fun is overrated, but simple pleasures of life are not. We have had several days with wonderful breezes and I can hardly bring myself to be inside. I am in front of a window as I write. When I wash dishes I am in front of a window. For the past year, I have enjoyed walks nearly every week with an old friend I contacted via FB. I think it has saved my sanity in this year of pandemic. She was my neighbor when we lived in Neffsville in the early 80″s and we got along great then, and we still do! This week we had lunch together for the first time with an author who wrote about her life growing up Mennonite in Lancaster County. I follow her blog and she recently moved back here for the first time after moving away in her young adult life. We have had the wonderful blessing of neighborhood projects of mural painting and a community garden nestled between them. A young man happened by today and saw what we were doing , having a community work day in the garden and put his hand to help us. He told me later he was feeling depressed and it was such a blessing to be able to do it. What we were hoping for in re-organizing. This morning I was filling my watering can and I thought, “I love summer”. That is not me. I have always been an endurer of summer. But the breeze, the little kids playing freely (they ‘hid’ in the mint, it’s big enough by this time of year!) and the ability to haul the water and work outside with my neighbors… It made me love summer. I fell in the pond yesterday! I was mowing and I backed up just a little too far. Okay… only my foot/leg went in. I smashed the tradescantia and probably scared a fish… Oh I have to tell you about the fish. I was looking at the free stuff on C’s list and someone had fish to get rid of. And then I thought about my friend , Mary, who has lots of fish. I hadn’t seen her in a couple years and so I checked to see if she was home and if she had spare fish. She was and she did! She lives near Middle Creek and I love driving up there, so I soon found myself making the trip. I walk in the door and her husband, who has retired and taken over the kitchen, wanted me to try his eggplant parmigiana almost right away. And the trout he had caught and fried! We ate and laughed and talked about our families and how we occupy ourselves at this time in our lives. I felt like I had visited family and I was home. They gave me fish and insisted I come back and bring Joel with me. I have treasures of friendship.  

Seasonal Storms

Sometimes, in the change of seasons, we get storms of various intensities. Sometimes they are just high winds that scatter sticks, and sometimes they obliterate our homes or livelihoods. I have been watching ‘The Gilded Age’ in a video series called The Great Courses on Amazon. It is roughly late 19th century and early 20th century. These are not entertainment or even documentaries. It’s a lecture. But still pretty interesting and done in several chapters. These times had their storms of high intensity. What came of them were systems that we take for granted today that bring us peace and prosperity. But in the process there was a lot of fighting. People lost their livelihoods, their homes, became sick. Some were so uncompassionate they seem hardly fit to live and others go to battle for others in such a way that they never ought to be forgotten, and yet many of them are. There were struggles for clean living, fair wages, the right to vote, and the right to govern locally.

This is only in the first century or so of our country’s existence. My grandparents were born during this time. Their grandparents would have been born when this country was new. What the ‘founding generation’ struggled for in making this a country was lost to the ears of people in the late 1800’s. They often behaved as badly as the people that we had fought for our freedom. (We, meaning Americans). What we might think of as the good old days (I’m picturing Anne of Green Gables… but then that’s Canada) were really bad in a lot of ways for most people. The rich were powerful, and often their power was sanctioned by the government and they had no interest or incentive to better other people’s lives. And along comes Teddy Roosevelt. He makes appearances in several chapters of this series. So far as I am concerned, he is at least as great as Abraham Lincoln! He is moneyed-up, but he is ashamed of the way rich families in his circle live and sets about to make long lasting differences. Part of his reach comes from having been President twice, once as a VP for William McKinley , who was assassinated, and another of being elected. There is always an uplift in the lecture when TR appears. He is called a Progressive, and for a short period there was a Progressive or Populist party. The Progressives fought for a lot of the reform we enjoy today. A lot of it had to do with holding people accountable for how they affected other people. The Socialists were also in this circle. At another time in my life I would be turned off right here, but I am asking you to keep reading if you feel compelled to do so.

One thing the lecturer conjectures is that we Americans fight a lot because we have always had the right to fight. In a weird sort of way, I find this comforting. I learned while teaching middle-schoolers how to give them a place to disagree with me. I believe conflict goes on long and unresloved if there is not such a place and then emotions just cook longer and hotter. So in the years of the Gilded Age people fought. Their times sound very similar to ours. What might have been of sound judgment a hundred years before is so not working in our time and it is not a bad thing to struggle with it and revise to help as many groups of people as we can. In that time , as well as ours, they had to give up some personal freedoms for common good. In my church we believe in something called Covenant theology. It is a belief in a connnectedness and working together. It is most emphasized when a child is baptized (brought into the covenant) but it is a mindset of the family life of the church, a belonging to one another. I am sure it is practiced with extreme variation, but there is the thread, the ideal, the concept to strive toward. I understand civil government is a different situation, but think of this. There are lots of ways we give up personal freedom for common good. Personal freedom is not a virtue. There are always those that, in the interest of common good, over-regulate. I’ve probably done it myself. Ask my kids! But there are also those who are clear-eyed and can sort through both the personal freedom and the over-regulators. We should make way for them, but instead they are being censored by their own political party and demoted from leadership responsibilities.

Another thing I have learned from this series is how enamored the rich were with the European aristocrats way of life. They wanted to duplicate it. It is what the American Revolution was meant to turn over. This is what TR despised. This is not a disease particular to one generation. For decades our country had prospered without classes, but when big wealth hit, and people could do more traveling and see how others lived, things began to shift. Of course, in order for someone to fancy themselves in a higher class always means shoving someone else down into a lower class. Looking down one’s nose does not leave room for broad views. When I hear people calling us to Make America Great Again, I believe it is this kind of view. Maybe it’s not the 19th century aristocrat that is being aspired to but I will wager it smacks of ‘having what I want when I want it.’ (Remember the shortages we were having a year ago?)I believe that is what Roger Stone meant when he coined that campaign phrase for Ronald Reagan. Maybe you mean something else like those decades of classless living. That wasn’t working anymore by the late 19th century. They came up with so much infrastructure we can’t imagine living without. Or being able o rest in being stronger than everyone else (firepower) or being so free that everyone is super talented and productive. more than any other country or nation.. Why do you want to rest your trust in that?

So I am proposing that we are in a Seasonal Storm. To say that our American way of life is threatened as never before is not true. It is often threatened and it often takes decades to re-work how best to go forward. That is not a reason for despair. What TR put his muscle to came into fruition with FDR.

A large family will have more structure than a small one. A boarding school will have more structure than a a large family. It has to in order to function well. So when words like socialism and common good are thrown about, don’t shut your eyes. Aspire to be one of the clear-eyed ones. You won’t be right all the time . You might even have to repent and apologize for some things you say or attitudes you have harbored. I certainly have. That is part of remembering God is the Judge of all the earth, not me….or you.

February 2021

For the record, I wrote this yesterday and posted in the wrong site.

February seems to be the limbo land of winter. Not much sun, the scenery changes only when it snows and the newness of snow has worn off. Even the excuse to get out the snow blower and actually use it this year seems to wear off and sidewalks are cleared later, after the snow finishes falling. That’s the way it works in my neck of the woods! In the house the food gets dull and there is little variety in company as we struggle with our personal ailments. One day of cloudy weather after another. I read an essay in a magazine this morning where a woman maybe around my age described an experience and her feelings this time of year in 2020, and they aren’t much different than mine are right now! And to think it’s the pandemic that does it to us, it might just be February! Some people go on vacation this time of year and I’m always a little surprised when I see it. I just can’t quite imagine it, my brain has gone dull as well. But March is right around the corner, and, as Frog puts it, so is spring! My neighbor and I made a big seed order last month and Joel promised to start seeds for us in the greenhouse and we have several broccoli sprouts already! I have always loved going to Longwood Gardens in the winter because in the conservatory you can see green grass, smell soil and the orchid display is phenomenal. It’s about my favorite time to go. As long as the roads are good, which is not true today. So today I will finish my project of sorting photos and getting them into empty photo albums that have been sitting around for an undisclosed number of years. I never really run out of anything to do. I just run out of energy to do them. Even in the summer.

Today it is snowing…. again. I’ll stay in my house near my wood stove and be thankful our joints can go up and down the back steps with another load of wood. Actually, my house is brighter when there’s snow on the ground , it almost makes up for the lack of sun! Have I cheered you up yet?? Do you need to hear yourself laugh? Go read the comics

On Wendell and Work

I have been eyeball deep in Wendell Berry for the past couple of weeks. He usually convicts me of my attitude toward work and this morning was no exception. I don’t mind working and have some of my own opinions about it. I think it is a great healthy thing not only for our bodies, but our minds as aouls. I get that. It’s housework. It’s the work that Must be done before I can do what I enjoy. I never developed a good attitude for it. If my parents tried to give me one, I think I was deaf. And I probably didn’t do well teaching my children, either. And yet they are good workers. I think part of my problem was and is the idea that it interferes with other stuff – work- I want to do. Another part is I feel like I am not good at it. I miss things. When I had been running my own household several years it was revelatory to me that there was dust on the lampshade. There ought to be a household physics class in our education system! If I clean the house especially for company and have the thought to express my love/honor for them by telling them “I cleaned specially for you” I zip my lip because I’m afraid they will be thinking ‘You did??’ I should give my friends better credit than that, but that is what runs through my head. I think I have attained cheerfulness and comfortabili ty, and hope that camouflages my other failings.

But if I had the ability to go back and teach my children the worthiness of work, what would I want to express. I think I have written before that one time one kid said “What are we doing this for? ” and anotherbreplied “So people don’t think we ‘re pigs.” I knew I had missed something when I heard that. When I was young we were taught to do as we were told, and I think I was generally difficult because I really do want to know why. That household physics class would have held my interest.

My last blog I quoted ‘Food is love’. May I also assert ‘Housework is love? I listened to a TED talk on garbage removal one time and it was eye opening. Mostly for the lack of respect for it and how not knowing what it accomplish es for us affords us that lack of respect. Wendell Berry would call that disrespecting the body. We shouldn’t clean the house out of fear of what others will think. We should clean because it needs doing for our good health and we can

do it ourselves. I would have taught household physics to my kids if I knew it. I would have taught that it is a privilege to share a well-ordered house, not a perfectly clean at all times one. I would have taught that cleaning is Part of what makes a house a home, but there are several other things as well. It doesn’t have to be so either/ or. Life doesn’t have to be so either/or.

My mom is different than me. She is a doer. I’m a thinker. I can think and write this, but she would have it all done by now. Now I’ll go do my housework, and at end of the day we can both say, ” I’m done. ” Generally.

Food. What of It.

I have been trying to hang on to these thoughts all day! Hardest thing I did! Yesterday someone posted how no one ever tells you that when you are an adult, you will have to think up supper every day for the rest of your life! Its’ that time of year again. The garden is really gone, the holidays are over and so is the fun stuff. Eating ‘out’ is barely an option these days. And it is easy to get weary of thinking up supper. One of my daughters, who is a really, good cook said, “Supper is overrated.” (Second time I have quoted her this week.) And it is. When I started to work 5 days a week my family quickly learned if it was hot and edible, it was good. I would get this frozen meal in a bag for a reprieve from cooking. I had my quickies, because there just wasn’t much time to cook. I have cooked for large groups of people and I have cooked for a family of seven. Now that it is just the two of us, I should be cheerful all the time, right? And full of good ideas and the time to make it, right? Well… there is still a kind of ebb and flow. The post did give me a laugh. The birds are probably rolling their eyes. Maybe no one told us we would have to come up with supper every night because they were doing it!

Back when I was cooking at a boarding school in Iowa, I ran a little short one night at supper. ‘A little short” means that most people probably got a little bit. It was the first night after coming back from Christmas vacation. One of the dorm parents said to me, “When you are far from home, the days are short and cold, plenty of warm food is a comfort.” Even when you aren’t far from home plenty of warm food is a comfort!

A couple weeks ago we seemed to be ‘eating through the kitchen.’ I kept coming up with another meal without going to the store. But we were really scrapping for lunches. I’m a fairly good supper planner and figure lunch will take care of itself, but my creativity at supper was limiting what there was for lunch and some days I get hungry and if I don’t eat, I just don’t have much energy. And the Man of the Place doesn’t have much time to invent lunch. So I made a plan to cook every night and then we have lefties for lunch. Not that original of a plan. One thing I find helpful is to look at my schedule for the week and plan food to fit it. There are always a few easy meals like hamburgers or spaghetti or fish, but there different ways of doing them. I try to spend some time in the week cooking a little extra and I think that is key. We remodeled our kitchen a few years ago and that seems to make a huge difference. So if you sorta like cooking but get sick of it, think about your space. When I was cooking at the boarding school, the head cook had a three week schedule of meals for 3 different seasons. You don’t repeat anything so very often and you can see what is coming before you get there. I am not as strict as that, but I do have a list of ‘Winter Meals’ and a list of ‘Summer Meals” and I don’t cross them….. except for maybe spaghetti and hamburgers! I love to cook easy with a flair. We eat a lot of fresh vegetables, as long as we can get them. We have a good, local market for fresh food, and some good stores, too.

So here are some ideas for easy stuff:

One of my friends is the rotisserie chicken. I didn’t think about this when I was teaching 5 days a week. And I like cooking a whole chicken myself, too. Once cooked there are few things to do with it. A standby is Chicken quesadillas.

Saute a chopped onion and some garlic. Mix in cumin to taste, and about a cup of salsa and about 2 cups shredded chicken. When heated through, spoon into tortillas that have one oiled side (the outside), grate some cheese over it and bake at 450 for 10-15 minutes. Or fry them in a pan. Sometimes I give up on the tortilla and just cook rice and add it to it. For the outside of the tortilla, I usually brush one with oil, then I rub the others with it so they all have just enough coating to make them crispy brown.

Lately we have resurrected an old favorite. Chicken and broccoli casserole. I do it pretty much without looking. You do use pre-cooked chicken and at least partially cooked broccoli then I make a cheese sauce and pour it over them , add carrots if I want, and , almost always onion, and top with stuffing Oh yes, I think Thanks giving mad s hungry for that one!

It is nice to have extra chicken in the fridge to add to stir-fry or top a salad with.

Another idea claimed from aforesaid daughter is what we call Fall Crack. Can’t get enough. Peel and chop a butternut squash into smallish cubes. You get out of it what you put into it. Saute it with some sausage and some sliced Brussels sprouts. Add cranberries, dried or fresh, if you choose. When the meat is brown and the squash is tender, it’s ready. Doesn’t take long. Another thing we do with butternut squash is slice it lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and put in a ball of sausage in the cavity and bake like a potato. It takes a good hour or more in the oven, and can bake unevenly in the microwave. I do it in the oven and start it early. You can always keep it warm till you are ready to eat. ‘Early ‘ means a couple hours ahead of time. Butternut squash soup is good and easy, too. I also put it into a recipe called ‘Turkey chili’.

A jar of hoisin sauce, found near the soy sauce is the ‘next best thing to sliced bread’. It is not easy to make yourself, unless a reader wants to tell me. I’ve looked and figure it was worth the buy. I saute’ whatever vegertables I have, cook some rice , add whatever leftover meat I have, and finish it off with hoisin sauce. Always make plenty. I always use onions garlic and ginger in a stir-fry. And fry in sesame oil for best flavor.

We like our potatoes steamed. Any kind of potatoes. I call meat and potato meals fast food. I call spaghetti Italian fast food. Sometimes we have salad and potatoes.

Last Christmas I got Jamie Oliver’s 5 ingredient cookbook. Sometimes I don’t know what stuff is, but generally I do. Lately I have tried the pesto burgers. A little jar of pesto added to your burger meat, with some spread on the buns, ooolala. . I think I add about half a jar per 3/4-1 # of burger meat. Theres also a recipe I call Jamie O’s sloppy joes. He has a more sophisticated word for it. You add canned tomatoes to the burger meat and maybe basil and oregano. And , as always, onions. I keep the onion growers in business. And I grow some too!

Once in a while I go to the library and grab a bunch of cookbooks that look anything like interesting, write down anything I might like to try. I give them a star or cross them off as I go along. My sister could find the best recipes in magazines. I could get the same magazine and miss them and then have it at her house. My daughter went to France to study and came home reminded that ‘Food is love.’ It really is. Sometimes I have to rise above my personal doldrums and not worry about variety and just have something ready. Because if you have worked away from home (or at some other job at home) , coming home to a meal ready to eat is just the best.