For Dinner Tonight

  It was fast food. I sauteed mushrooms and spinach in olive oil and butter. The Italian cookbook often gives that instruction and since I generally like the food out of that book, that’s what I did. If I had fresh garlic and onions , I probably would have put to that in too, but I’m out. So the dry stuff went on top of the eggs with the salt and pepper. I put in the eggs , put a lid on and turned it down to the 2 on my burner. The 1 is nearly useless. This was in the cast iron skillet. I made salad on our plates with young lettuce, sprouts, tomatoes, grated carrots, and tomatoes. Freshly grate parmesan cheese on any or all of it. Multigrain artisan bread toasted. No more than 10  minutes.
This was Mary Ellen inspired.
Anybody, I can’t figure our how to post a picture to just Cooking with Cousins.Did I mot do something I should have.? I can’t even find the option for saving a picture from FB to my Kindle so I can use it here. So here is the DEETS and on my regular FB is the PIC.
Happy Eating!

Whispering Hope

Soft as the voice of an angel

breathing a lesson unheard;

Hope, with a gentle persuasion

Whispers a comforting word.

“Wait till the darkness is over,

Wait till the tempest is gone.

Hope for a brighter tomorrow,

After the shower is gone.”

Whispering Hope, o how welcome thy voice! Making my heart in its sorrow rejoice.

(some versions say after the ‘darkness’ is gone.)

The past week has been spent saying good-bye to our Uncle Buzz. It’s no insult to anyone to say that he and Aunt Lee have been stand-in parents and grandparents for us when we have lived far away from our own. And for that we treasure them. He was 83 and died as peacefully as you could pray for. The phrase from the Bible that says “…that you sorrow not, as those who have no hope” we don’t sorrow without hope, but we sorrow! There are tears and chatter and regrets and sympathies and above all, Comfort! Death is a mystery. It is at once profound and common.

Babikow family funerals are unique in a sense, because of the family business. Business associates are friends , even if they are competitors, or have been. There is healthy respect for someone who has strived to do well and treat others with respect, even if you don’t always agree. This is also a generational business , (not so much the same local business but the same kind of growing and selling plants, Buzz being the third. His grandfather’s business still operates ) .Uncle Buzz took a long shot and hired a bunch of 20-something’s (and younger who were his kids and nephews and nieces) who didn’t know much about the greenhouse business but were interested and willing to learn. I think almost all of them started by driving a truck! They showed up at his funeral 20 years after he retired. I think we would have been surprised if they hadn’t! Maybe I underestimate people but I find this very touching. So if any of yooz read this, thank you! ūüėčWorking at the Greenhouse

We thought when they took Uncle Buzz off the ventilator he would stop breathing within the hour. He breathed for two more days. It gave us a little time to get used to the fact. Not much. I can’t believe I had lunch with them a week and a half ago and they put his body in the ground yesterday. And that when I walk into their apartment, I’ll see only Aunt Lee. I told Joel that my head is still swimmy. He said his is too.

The song I quoted at the top is a favorite of theirs that we sang at the funeral. I had heard of it but had not heard it in decades. It was such a pleasure to discover it. Whenever I listen to the YouTube video I posted onFB , I want to say “Lassie! Here Lassie!” ¬†So if you can’t get past that sound of a former era, read the words straight through ¬†in your head. They are very sweet.


Writing in the Now

  Sometimes coming up with a title helps me focus what to write about. Lately, in my own disciplines, I’ve been working on the Now. Maybe people my age or situation get the same question that high school or college graduates get. What will you do now? Meaning in the future. It’s a little bit scary of a question when it is asked of you but the asker is usually expressing interest . Am I using my time wisely? Am I making the the best of my abilities? Am I connecting with others in meaningful ways? Will I be sorry tomorrow if I don’t do this today? By now you identify with this OR you think I think too much.
  NOW, I’m with the Bailey boys, who are 11  and 12, ready to answer questions as best I can, making sure they have a plan and to settle the very rare squabble and make sure they unload the dishwasher before their mom gets home. We started the day with  a hike at the park, because the weather
Is so beautiful. I let them take the larger loop of the walk because they skim over ground I basically plod. They saw a deer. I saw a red wing blackbird. The flowering trees are in their glory. Now they are revved up to do their school work. Funny how fresh air has that affect. It’s a good time for me to write.
    Lately, we have been taking a break from our city church. It is about 8 years old and we have been involved from the beginning. We have grown to feel like it was more job list than church, so we’re trying to work our way through that. When visiting another church, we just have to get dressed, grab our Bibles and go. It is refreshing. So far we have only gone to churches that give us music, and we can sing every song that way instead of just standing there when you don’t know  the song. There must be a cure for that. And how do we stay involved in our church life without burning out. Those are the questions that grind around inside me. The first one is larger than I stated. I think I have  some answers but nobody is listening….yet. I hope this doesn’t sound like a tantrum.
   I think my downstairs needs fresh paint ,too. The  living area we did most of before we ran out of drywall and money. Now we just have to finish the rest and paint. Previously the downstairs had been all one color from front to back, but we don’t want the coral color all through the kitchen. I think I have it narrowed down and Joel likes the choice so I’ll get moving on that soon. I scrubbed the caked mildew off my back porch with vinegar. Not a hard job but a nasty one. Then I brushed it with boiled linseed oil and turpentine mix. The smell has lingered for days. It is crummy old wood. By the time we get plants on th  porch it will be okay And my conscience feels better.
     I’ve been tutoring a couple of other homeschoolers , too. We know each other well and look forward to it. I’ve been reading ‘Wheel on the School ‘ to them . I loaned it to Joel’s aunt and uncle a while ago and they read it and passed it all over Willow Valley! I think they are a couple of left brainers so I have to sharpen my left brain skills! The two I am with today I read ‘The Yearling’ to. It’s fun to do these journeys with another bunch.
     I got the respiratory virus twice, I think, that has gone around  with  vengeance. I’m not coughing and blowing all the time but I don’t feel like it has quite left. I still have that a wheezing

laugh and singing does not come easily. And I cough Hard when I cough. I succumbed to the Rootology ad. We’ll see how that goes. Started doing yoga again this week.
      I’m not quite used to the fact the weather is warm again. We’ve had a long streak of sunny days since soon after our April snow. It’s a bit of a wonder.

Waxing Political

I am going to get my little political discussion out of my system. You can read it or just scroll on. There are so many things that are being said that are frustrating to me, so you can listen, as in really listen, or go somewhere else.

I am frustrated by the barrage of comments posters that say, “If you don’t work for it, you shouldn’t get it.” I believe the Bible where it says, ‘If you don’t work, you don’t eat.’ But we are 50 years into a welfare system and to just pull a plug would be disastrous. When was the last time you employed someone who was unemployed? Do you know that if anyone ¬†on the welfare system works at all they completely forfeit their benefits? They can’t go partial, it’s all or nothing. This shoots them in the back. And us. Do you make a contribution to the electric company when they ask so they can cover people who are in need? A lot of people I know can afford to educate their children but send them to public school for the government to do it, and this is public welfare. I know these are hot buttons. Just raising the issue. While I am on education I saw someone say, “So we are going to pay taxes for all the immature college students’ drinking parties??” The Sanders proposal is to fund Tuition, not Board. And when a candidate announces such things, as President, they never get entirely what they hope for. What if community colleges were free to people under a certain income level, for two years? A skill can be developed, maybe even a business begun. Can we start thinking like that instead of this polarizing rhetoric? And I’m speaking to people who name the name of Christ! I hear a lot of carrying on about Socialism. We’re already pretty socialistic. I can’t choose my internet company or garbage carrier, or if I want a garbage carrier. Bernie Sanders will not usher an era of Socialism. It’s here and has been here a while. I am not saying I whether I think it’s right or wrong, but the panic buttons that are being pushed are just plain wrong, brothers and sisters.

I also believe the Bible’s ¬†teachings on how we treat the poor and the downtrodden. Several times I picked up the book¬†Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. DuBois… and put it back down, because he was a Marxist. Finally I bought it and read it, because I was curious. I must say that capitalism never did anything for the ex-slave in America or the generations that followed. Maybe socialism is worse, but all I can say is there are plenty of people who will stick their shoe in other people’s faces and if the government will not rise to stem that, or those who do, it should be ashamed to hold its head in a world court. When I finished, I told my black pastor that white people have No Clue. We have No Clue in this country. Even if we experience derision from others now and then, the systemic de-humanizing the African -American in our culture is impossible for white people in the USof A to understand. That will always influence how we think about such things as welfare and law enforcement and education.It is one of the most moving books I have ever read. Highly recommend.

When ¬†all this mess of economy exploded and we listened to so much rhetoric, OI thought,”Is there anyone in government office having an alternate income they can live on who is willing to give up their government income, for a season till things are balanced?’ ¬†I only heard of one, the current governor of Pennsylvania, my state. I voted for him mainly for that. I, a registered Republican and he a Democrat. Now we have Bernie Sanders who initiated his campaign by vowing not to run negative ads (Haven’t we had enough and don’t we have better ways to get real information?) and he never has, in all his campaigning? Does character count for Nothing in this election? It would seem so. We have a Republican who is ‘up front about being a Christian’ and doesn’t hesitate to shoot his rivals in the foot and ¬†thinks we should vote for him because it would be so great to have a Christian in the Presidency. Well, surely not if he’s not going to act like one! What would be the point of that?? Stop reading the damn ads, and I mean that. Read something more lengthy. Listen to the candidates when they are given a chance to talk. Understand that a short interview never says much. Do they address the question being asked like they understand them? Are they belittling to the questioner? Leave the door open for surprises and don’t think they can’t mean what they just said. ¬†And love your neighbor, even if they vote differently from you! Character is Always Important. There is a Proverb my mom had us memorize that goes like this. “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it come the issues of life.” Okay, I’m done. See you at the voting booth, if I can stand it. (whew!)



The Lord of the Rings

  We went on a LOTR marathon this past week. It is the second time I have seen it and the first time must have been about 12 years ago. I have a very strong, impressionable visual memory so I  am cautious about what I watch. I refused to watch it in the theater. I was sitting in the computer lab at school one day ,minding own business while of a few of the teenage boys, who had once been my students, were discussing the movies. Then one turns to me and says, “You’ve seen the LOTR, haven’t you, Mrs. DiBernardo? ” I turned to them and said, “When I watch the LOTR, I am going to be safe at home with a clicker so I can fast forward anything I don’t want to watch.” The days came. We had snow days upon us and I watched it safe at home with clicker. Mostly I skipped through Orcs fighting…..again.
  For some reason, this last blizzard gave me an urge to watch it again. I don’t think we fast forwarded so much this time, if any, but volumes went up and Down! I hadn’t remembered other than the beginning and the end. I have to say this about it. It is profound , delightful, and….traumatizing. There is so much reality in this fantasy. There is warning of what happen when bury our heads in the sand and ignore the evil around us. There are messy relationships and strong, courageous ones.(sorry about repeat- can”t delete it) There are funny, great one-liners and lots of cliff-hanging.
The wars don’t bother me so much as the faces and guttural sounds. I have always thought that machine guns take all the fairness out of the fight. There is something about the abandon of rushing  in, come what may, that is admirable to watch. The emotion of it leaves me exhausted, and it is high emotion most of the time. The few times it cools off and there is a quiet moment it is a delight. A view into time where life is “normal” and peace reigns. The characters are beautiful and good-natured and the natural world prospers. It covers the scope from evil and betrayal to loyalty and deep, abiding love.
It may be another 10 years till I watch it again.

January Snowstorm

My fingers have been dying to get here and record the storm. I am a Midwesterner, and will confess to the fact that snow fascinates me. I know that there are those who suffer with form of helplessness that I am currently not a participant of, and I am not attempting to write from their perspective. I am simply acknowledging it.

About 9:00 on Friday night I said to Joel, “Wanna go to Dipco?” So off we went, parka-ed and boot-ed up, in the quiet snowfall to a favorite pub. We just had a lot of fun taking pictures on the way; the streetlights on the snow and the columns of light filled with tiny swirls of snowflakes alongside the Market building, and ourselves!

It is kind of an idyllic snow, and idealic! It was well forecasted so that there was actually plenty of time to be prepared, so we stocked up on food and wood. I know there isn’t a whole lot of gas in our car and I still get anxious about water getting in the gas lines, which we had to be vigilant about when we lived in Iowa. It is a light snow, making it easier to shovel than if it were heavy and no ice. It even fell on the grass. And enough of it to be sensational, both in the news and its beauty.

On Saturday morning Joel went down to the basement declaring in his low key way that he was going to straighten up his space and move my stuff out of it. I have been trying to figure out how for years, so I hastened to join him. And we did it to mutual satisfaction! I cleared a set of shelves and a place to move them and got rid of stuff I didn’t care about. I cleaned and re-covered my gas stove that I hope will be put to use again. I miss it.

I had gotten some vegetable for stock and started some vegetable stock and chicken stock. I find it helpful to scan some recipes other than the ones I have and made a few changes. One recipe reviewer said, “You don’t have ¬†to roast a chicken before making stock.” I never have, but I do know that I think the best stock I’ve made I have used a rotisserie chicken that I had bought. So I turned the oven to 400 degrees and put a covered chicken in for a half hour. The idea is to keep the chicken tender. Water can actually drain the juice out of the chicken meat itself. so if you intend to use the meat, I do believe this is a good step. I had gotten a small chicken. Sometimes I get just the bones. ¬†The other thing I learned was to use the onion skins! A neighbor told me she puts her onion skins in the freezer till she enough to make a broth from them. Light bulb moment! I also got mozzarella balls and olives for snacking!¬† Not what I would have done with a houseful of kids!!

Neighborliness abounds. Shoveling snow gets us out for mutual enterprise. One of my neighbors called me and said we ought to eat supper together and invite some others, and there ought to be a big table. I have a big table. I have always had “supplies”, too. Like plenty of plates and silverware. So there were 11 of us gathered around for our first neighborhood potluck. Guess I needed a little push. I told her she could do it again. The food was absolutely delicious. A couple years ago we had three neighbors sell up and move out. It’s a little dicey because one bad neighbor can ruin a block. We were blessed not only with good neighbors but great camaraderie. I’m sorry I didn’t get a picture. We had a lot of fun. The widower among us came. The baby of the block spiced things up for us. We learned something about each other by playing ‘love/hate’. The teenager was one of the best guessers. Warmth and hospitality in my house. Gladness in my heart.


Going to the Met via the Cinema and finding the Opera

In Spite of the love to sing, and even being referred to as an opera singer (when people aren’t used to loud singing without a mike), I have never developed an affinity for the opera. I have leaned more toward the recital or the oratorio. My first opera was when I was in the 8th grade, I think. At first the costumes and the dramatics are fun, but operas are long, and in a foreign language ¬†it is easy for the non-focused to get bored. I went to another one as an adult in my 30’s. I couldn’t get my head away from my surroundings. My husband and I sat ‘up top’ ¬†and the radiators banged and banged. I was tired. It was long. We left at intermission. It was probably already 10:00 and our lives were pretty intense in those days. I haven’t a shred of remembrance of what it was.

I’m not very good at listening to Saturday afternoons live broadcast on the radio, either. But this magical thing has happened. A local theater broadcasts it. So I decided to give this another shot. The Pearl Fishers has one of my favorite duets in it, so that could be my foot into the door of this world. I actually went to a replay on Wednesday evening, but you can go watch it live on Saturday afternoon.

I was almost daunted by the snow forecast, as I drive a little tin can of a car and I¬†hate driving in snow, but the forecast went sketchy, so I kept my resolve. I slid into my cozy theater seat and looked up to see musicians tuning and a crowd gathering inside the Metropolitan opera house and I thought , “Oh! This is the way to enjoy the opera!” It felt like like¬†so much more behind the camera than less. We got all the interviews up close and personal, we went and watched people backstage. The focus stayed on the opera, without scanning the audience or the orchestra. On top of that, get this: there are subtitles. I do not have to sit in the dark wondering what the heck they are saying even if I do know the story. Even the fave duet was made even more beautiful by this. And if you didn’t know the story before you came , you certainly can follow along and not miss out! It was¬†all wonderful, and I stayed plenty awake! oh yes, It started at 6:30 and ended at 9 with about half hour intermission. The Old Man was still awake when I got home. I told him getting him a ticket to the opera would be waste of money, but I think he would have liked at least most of it. The girl in the story was a little crazy.

So they did this at the beginning….


After that you have decided to stay. The sets were amazing. They had a boat gliding in on the water. There was a great use of the chorus. Nice to watch adults who have memorized their music! They had this rolling water light effects for a storm while they changed sets, and it was funny, because you couldn’t hear water but you could hear coughing in the audience!

Well, I’ve got a photo fail argument so no more pictures. They make more sense with text but I’ll probably just put them on Facebook.

Anyway, I am in.