Sunday, November 25, 2012

Time and Temperature

Last year I was part of a poetry group on Sanibel Island. Each week we were to bring a new poem to share and to be critiqued. At times, the most difficult part for me was coming up with the idea -- but not the week I shared this poem. It happened (almost) just like this:

More Than Time and Temperature

I, looking for Twenty Techniques,
met a man in the cookbook aisle,
looking for validation.

We spoke
of poaching shrimp in butter
and searing meat
to hold its juices,
merits of roasting
poultry on low versus high,
buying directly from the farmer, and
"How can you know
if it's really organic?"

He told me
about salmon and a sauce
he makes with sun-dried tomatoes.
I told him
about yellow rice with saffron,
and the wine at Opus 32.

He handed me the book
I had been looking for.
I liked the way he stood,
and his salt and pepper hair.

He had a new idea
for how to cook
the turkey this year,
but he couldn't find
a recipe like it anywhere.

Then he said
his fiancé was a vegetarian,
but there are certain traditions
he just has to keep.

"Yes, I understand," I said.
And we looked at each other
just long enough
to know we both did.

     by Carol Drummond

Even though some friends really liked this story-poem, I was too embarrassed and self-conscious to send Thanksgiving Day Chef a copy.What if the connection was just my imagination? What if the fiancĂ© would take exception  to...what would one call it?  (Yes, we had exchanged e-mail addresses in the cookbook aisle! After all, I was to send him the exact name and address of a particular restaurant. He was to send me the results of his turkey experiment.)

But, my readers, this year I sent the poem. Two days went by without a response. I felt foolish. The third day went by, and then I forgot about it. On the fourth day -- an answer came! He said it "took him back to the moment," and he "especially liked the title and the last two stanzas."

It had not been my imagination!

He went on to tell me what his plan was for the method this year. He thanked me once more for the poem.

I'm sure we will not communicate with each other again. But the story, for me, has a happy ending. I hope it makes you smile.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rarely Only What They Seem

This morning for breakfast I ate a plum. Normally I would hold it in my hand, and take bites out of  it till it's gone and throw away the seed without a thought. But for some reason, this time, I sliced it into a green glass bowl and ate it slowly with a fork. The skin was purple and slightly bitter. I thought all plums were red or purple throughout, but this one was golden on the inside and sweet and cold.

We think of watermelons as red, but they are green on the outside. We think of apples as red, but they are white on the inside. We think of bananas as yellow, but they are pale on the inside. We think of orange peel as orange, but it is white on the inside. And so on.

A few years ago I was having dinner at an Italian restaurant. A young, plain-looking woman without makeup, hair pulled back into a low ponytail, and dressed quite modestly, approached the table next to ours and began singing opera, beautifully. Everyone in the room fell silent, all eyes on her, caught in the magic of this unexpected moment. I remember thinking this person looked so ordinary. She didn't look like she could sing like that.

What? How easily we sometimes dismiss others. We never know about the stranger standing in front of us in line at the grocery store or sitting in the car next to us while stopped at a traffic light -- his talent, her abilities, his burdens, her struggles. A singer, a poet, a marksman, a water colorist, a person who speaks 5 languages, someone whose mother is dying, someone whose child won a scholarship, or has a loved one addicted to cocaine. Everybody has a story.

People, and things, are rarely only what they seem.

Just as this poem is not only about an old woman eating a plum.

To a Poor Old Woman

by William Carlos Williams

munching a plum on
the street a paper bag
of them in her hand

They taste good to her
They taste good
to her. They taste
good to her

You can see it by
the way she gives herself
to the one half
sucked out in her hand

a solace of ripe plums
seeming to fill the air
They taste good to her

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Out of the Storm

Job 38-40


The Lord Speaks

38 Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:
2 “Who is this that obscures my plans
with words without knowledge?
3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.
4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone
7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?
8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,
9 when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,
10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,
11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?
12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,
13 that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?
14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.
15 The wicked are denied their light,
and their upraised arm is broken.
16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?
17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness?
18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.
19 “What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?
20 Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
21 Surely you know, for you were already born!
You have lived so many years!
22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,
23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?
24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,
26 to water a land where no one lives,
an uninhabited desert,
27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?
28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?
29 From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
30 when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?
31 “Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
33 Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s dominion over the earth?
34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?
35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?
36 Who gives the ibis wisdom
or gives the rooster understanding?
37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
38 when the dust becomes hard
and the clods of earth stick together?
39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
and satisfy the hunger of the lions
40 when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in a thicket?
41 Who provides food for the raven
when its young cry out to God
and wander about for lack of food?
39 “Do you know when the mountain goats give birth?
Do you watch when the doe bears her fawn?
2 Do you count the months till they bear?
Do you know the time they give birth?
3 They crouch down and bring forth their young;
their labor pains are ended.
4 Their young thrive and grow strong in the wilds;
they leave and do not return.
5 “Who let the wild donkey go free?
Who untied its ropes?
6 I gave it the wasteland as its home,
the salt flats as its habitat.
7 It laughs at the commotion in the town;
it does not hear a driver’s shout.
8 It ranges the hills for its pasture
and searches for any green thing.
9 “Will the wild ox consent to serve you?
Will it stay by your manger at night?
10 Can you hold it to the furrow with a harness?
Will it till the valleys behind you?
11 Will you rely on it for its great strength?
Will you leave your heavy work to it?
12 Can you trust it to haul in your grain
and bring it to your threshing floor?
13 “The wings of the ostrich flap joyfully,
though they cannot compare
with the wings and feathers of the stork.
14 She lays her eggs on the ground
and lets them warm in the sand,
15 unmindful that a foot may crush them,
that some wild animal may trample them.
16 She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers;
she cares not that her labor was in vain,
17 for God did not endow her with wisdom
or give her a share of good sense.
18 Yet when she spreads her feathers to run,
she laughs at horse and rider.
19 “Do you give the horse its strength
or clothe its neck with a flowing mane?
20 Do you make it leap like a locust,
striking terror with its proud snorting?
21 It paws fiercely, rejoicing in its strength,
and charges into the fray.
22 It laughs at fear, afraid of nothing;
it does not shy away from the sword.
23 The quiver rattles against its side,
along with the flashing spear and lance.
24 In frenzied excitement it eats up the ground;
it cannot stand still when the trumpet sounds.
25 At the blast of the trumpet it snorts, ‘Aha!’
It catches the scent of battle from afar,
the shout of commanders and the battle cry.
26 “Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom
and spread its wings toward the south?
27 Does the eagle soar at your command
and build its nest on high?
28 It dwells on a cliff and stays there at night;
a rocky crag is its stronghold.
29 From there it looks for food;
its eyes detect it from afar.
30 Its young ones feast on blood,
and where the slain are, there it is.”
40 The Lord said to Job:
2 “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Suppose The Day Is Being Photographed

Have you ever taken a trip and, when you looked back at your photos, appreciated the remembering of the experience more than when you were actually there?

I recently went to Paris. It was what I expected and nothing of what I expected. I did expect fine art and architecture, flaky croissants and crisp baguettes, all wine and cheese to be good, and to wish I could better speak the musical language. I didn't expect the women to be wearing very little makeup or perfume, or for The Louvre to allow flash photography, or for it to be so crowded that one would have to use elbows to get to the Mona Lisa. Needless to say, who could really see it under those conditions?

I knew I would like the Paris Opera House. I knew I wouldn't care about going up in the Eiffel Tower. I thought I would find high fashion everywhere, but didn't. And while there, I was already making plans for what I would do differently if I ever went back.

I had a good time--I especially liked it when the French woman who sold me a scarf offered to tie it for me. And though it wasn't funny then, I now laugh about getting stuck in the turnstile at the train station. In reviewing my pictures when I came home, I found it curious that I had snapshots of so many doors. And I regretted I had only 1 of the 17 bridges on the Seine.

Doors. Bridges. I have done the same in other cities. Hmm.

And your pictures from your travels -- have you realized a pattern?

If a person from the other side of the world came to visit us, what would she take pictures of that we no longer pay attention to?

What about today or tomorrow, here at home? Suppose the day is being photographed. Are there things that will have passed us by until we look back?  Could your breakfast omelette filled with crisp bits of bacon and topped with snipped fresh chives next to three firm red-ripe strawberries have been  pretty enough for a picture? Maybe someone joined you at the table, poured your orange juice, and expressed thanks with a kiss on your cheek. Or maybe you remember the day it was so.

Perhaps on the way to do something as mundane as gettting the mail from the mailbox we see a rainbow in the puddle from last night's rain. The toddler from next door is trying to pick up a watermelon. His mother is laughing. Her husband is in Afghanistan.

Pick up the blue-black feather on the sidewalk. Listen. Look up. Note the exact blue of this morning's sky. Yes -- today is a photograph.

And before we step back inside, let's not forget to notice the door!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Abundance of Little Things

I am leaving today to spend the week with my daughter and her family. She is having a baby -- what an abundant Thanksgiving we will have!

I wrote a note to my grandchildren to find out what they want on the menu, since I get to cook for them this year. They are okay with turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie if we can add whipped cream, and apple pie please, and somewhere one has seen marshmallows on sweet potatoes and wants us to try that, and one wants pineapple, and one pulled the ginger plant so we could use it somehow.

But not everyone can be with family. Or has a family. Or can find the extra funds to prepare the traditional feast. Dear Lord help us share, or to not be too proud to let others share with us.

Days are made of hours and minutes. But memories are made of moments. Let us look for them, and find them, and cherish them.

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Names of Things

One of my favorite places in my little house is on the sofa facing the wooded area adjacent to the property. It's where I curl my feet under me to read, watch TV, sip tea or coffee or wine, write my poetry, and jot ideas or ruminations down in one of several notebooks. But without the view, it would be just a sofa. What I see when I gaze outside makes it a revered space in my corner of the world. So this morning, when I read an excerpt from Mark Doty's The Art of Description, I knew I must do more than has been my custom. 

"...the more we can name what we're seeing, the more language we have for it, the less likely we are to destroy it. If you look at the field beside the road and you see merely the generic 'meadow,' you're less likely to care if it's bulldozed for a strip mall than you are if you know that those tall, flat-leaved spires are milkweed, upon which the monarchs have flown two thousand miles to feed, or if you can name sailor's breeches and purslane, lamb's-quarter, or the big umbels of wild carrot feeding the small multitudes. Isn't the world larger and more valuable, if you know what an umbel is? Thus, in Eden, paradise became a more intricate place, artfully arrayed, and its loss was felt all the more sharply."

When I tried to name the things I saw--oak trees, bougainvillea, bleeding heart, grass, squirrel, butterfly--I was lacking. What is that vine other than just a vine, what is that fern other than just a fern, what is the name of the tree with the large glossy dark green leaves, or the one that blesses with those magenta orchid-like flowers in February? I know the blue jays and cardinals, but which bird  has the tail with the brown and white stripes? Whose wingspan is it that swoops down at dusk, and which insects sing like a thousand violinists on high notes warming up before a concert? Is that a lizard or a chameleon or a gecko? Are they white oaks or scrub oaks or water oaks? And how could any butterfly be just a butterfly?

One of the most memorable pieces of writing which contains the naming of things comes from The English Patient, by Michael Ondaatje. A woman was reading notations describing winds, written in the margins of a book:

     There is a whirlwind in southern Morocco, the aajej, against which the fellahin defend themselves with knives. There is the africo, which has at times reached into the city of Rome. The alm,a fall wind out of Yugoslavia. The arifi, also christened aref or rifi, which scorches with numerous tongues. These are permanent winds that live in the present tense.
     There are other, less constant winds that change direction, that can knock down horse and rider and realign themselves anticlockwise. The bist roz leaps into Afghanistan for 170 days -- burying villages. There is the hot, dry ghibli from Tunis, which rolls and rolls and produces a nervous condition. The haboob -- a Sudan dust storm that dresses in bright yellow walls a thousand metres high and is followed by rain. The harmattan, which blows and eventually drowns itself into the Atlantic. Imbat, a sea breeze in North Africa. Some winds that just sigh towards the sky. Night dust storms that come with the cold. The khamsin, a dust in Egypt from March to May, named after the Arabic word for "fifty," blooming for fifty days -- the ninth plague of Egypt. The datoo out of Gibraltar, which carries fragrance.
     There is also the __________, the secret wind of the desert, whose name was erased by a king after his son died within it. And the nafhat -- a blast out of Arabia. The mezzar-ifoullousen -- a violent and cold southwesterly known to Berbers as "that which plucks the fowls."  The beshabar, a black and dry northeasterly out of the Caucasus, "black wind." The samiel from Turkey, "poison and wind," the simoom, of North Africa, and the solano, whose dust plucks off rare petals, causing giddiness.
     Other, private winds. 
     Travelling along the ground like a flood. Blasting off paint, throwing down telephone poles, transporting stones and statue heads. The harmattan blows across the Sahara filled with red dust, dust as fire, as flour, entering and coagulating in the locks of rifles. Mariners called this red wind the "sea of darkness." Red sand fogs out of the Sahara were deposited as far north as Cornwall and Devon, producing showers of mud so great this was also mistaken for blood. "Blood rains were widely reported in Portugal and Spain in 1901."
     There are always millions of tons of dust in the air, just as there are millions of cubes of air in the earth and more living flesh in the soil (worms, beetles, underground creatures) than there is grazing and existing on it. Herodotus records the death of various armies engulfed in the simoom who were never seen again. One nation was "so enraged by this evil wind that they declared war on it and marched out in full battle array, only to be rapidly and completely interred."
     Dust storms in three shapes. The whirl. The column. The sheet. In the first the horizon is lost. In the second you are surround by "waltzing Ginns." The third, the sheet, is "copper-tinted. Nature seems to be on fire."

And can we ever again think of (Lord help us) just the wind

Monday, July 18, 2011

What Are We Doing?

The Wind, One Brilliant Day
   by Antonio Machado
      translated by Robert Bly

The wind, one brilliant day, called
to my soul with an odor of jasmine.

"In return for the odor of my jasmine,
I'd like all the odor of your roses."

"I have no roses; all the flowers
in my garden are dead."

"Well then, I'll take the withered petals
and the yellow leaves and the waters of the fountain."

The wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:
"What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?"

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Choose Happiness

I have been taking a four-day vacation from work, and if you include the weekend, it will be six days.  I sigh twice -- first for the reason it is almost over, second with contentment because I feel so relaxed. I have accomplished only half the things I planned to do in the realm of Spring cleaning, but no matter. Half is better than nothing, and I determined not to put pressure on myself during these much anticipated days off.

Not wanting to feel pressure applies to a book I was reading. It had been recommended and given to me by a friend, whom I will see again in a couple of weeks. It was quite well written, (a national book club selection), and the characterization and sense of place were real and credible. But the protagonist led a depressing life, and as I typically identify with the main character in a book, I did not want to live in her world. I kept reading. I realized I was feeling pressure because my friend wanted me to read and like the book, and I didn't want to disappoint. Nonetheless, about halfway through, I purposed to go no further.  Any friend who is a friend will understand. For me, enough sad things come our way unbidden without living, even vicariously, more of them unnecessarily.

So I picked up a different book, and this is the page I turned to --

So Much Happiness
  by Naomi Shihab Nye

It is difficult to know what to do with so much happiness.
With sadness there is something to rub against,
a wound to tend with lotion and cloth.
When the world falls in around you, you have pieces to pick up,
something to hold in your hands, like ticket stubs
or change.

But happiness floats.
It doesn't need you to hold it down.
It doesn't need anything.
Happiness lands on the roof of the next house, singing,
and disappears when it wants to.
You are happy either way.
Even the fact that you once lived in a peaceful tree house
and now live over a quarry of noise and dust
cannot make you unhappy.
Everything has a life of its own,
it too could wake up filled with possibilities
of coffee cake and ripe peaches,
and love even the floor which needs to be swept,
the soiled linens and scratched records...

Since there is no place large enough
to contain so much happiness,
you shrug, you raise your hands, and it flows out of you
into everything you touch. You are not responsible.
You take no credit, as the night sky takes no credit
for the moon, but continues to hold it, and share it,
and in that way, be known.

Let me savor the ripe peach and love the floor which needs to be swept. Let me never forget the clutch of  my newborn's hand around my finger, or the solid embrace of loved ones who have passed.  Let me open my eyes and ears to all things beautiful, and choose happiness whenever, wherever I can.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Can I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?

I met my daughter and her family at her grandmother's house in the country this past weekend. I took pictures of her feeding leaves to goats, of the baby eating mulberries fresh from the tree, of purple juicy hands, and of chocolate Easter bunnies on my grandsons' faces. I snapped a photo of my granddaughter walking down the lane to borrow eggs for cornbread. And I took a picture of clothes drying on a line.

It was like stepping back in time. I don't think we ever had goats, but my husband had cows and chickens. I had been a city girl, so every day in the Ozark Mountains was an adventure for me, or should have been, but I took a lot for granted. He raised a vegetable garden, and his mother taught me how to can tomatoes and corn and squash, and make jam and jelly and syrup.  It was common to borrow a cup of sugar from a neighbor. A couple of days later she would borrow it right back. We definitely hung our clothes out to dry -- inside-out for colors so they wouldn't fade. (Watch out for puppies. They will pull towels and sheets down every time.) At night the bed smelled like the warmth of the sun and apple-orchard air.

What is happening in our lives right now that we will be nostalgic for in a few years?  Let's appreciate green spaces and wildflowers and slow-cooked, real food. Let's turn off the TV and radio for awhile, and be treated to the conversations of  bluejays and cardinals and sparrows.  Let's knead dough and bake bread.

Who knew I would ever miss being able to hang my sheets out on the line?

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Banks of the Seine, Isand of La Grande Jatte, 1878

Wild Geese
   by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
     love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Missed? Not Really

One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You AreSaturday night we were supposed to be able to see the full moon at its largest and most grand, because its orbit was to be closest to the earth.  Scientists referred to it as the Super Moon. If we missed it, we would have to wait many years (till 2029, I think) for it to be this close again. But I forgot about it until 11 pm.

When I stepped outside and found the round bright-white object in the sky, I didn't see much difference than on other nights when there is a full moon perched high. In the past, when I've been outside early enough on a special evening, when the moon is full and still rests close to the horizon in the east, and when I've been able to watch it rise and glow as if lit from within, its magnificence can almost take my breath away. Or at these times, if driving, I want to pull over to the side of the road and just be still, I wonder how many other drivers see what I see and want to do the same thing.  But it was higher now, and rather ordinary.

I took a step forward, still contemplating what I had missed, and the branches of a tall oak formed a frame around the moon. I saw it as a work of art. I stepped back, then forward again. I was reminded of a Chinese painting, or a scene on a kimono from Japan. I breathed in the cool air of evening, and thought about the difference taking one step forward and one step back had made.

My beautiful daughter sent me a lovely book by Ann Voskamp titled One Thousand Gifts, A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.  The woman tells of her quest, in the middle of her daily struggles, to record one thousand things she loves:  Morning shadows across old floors, Old men looking for words just perfect, Faint aroma of cattle and straw. And one of my favorites so far is on page 62:  Suds...all color in sun...April sun pools into a dishwater sink, liquid daylight on hands. The water is hot. I wash dishes. On my arms, just below the hiked sleeves, suds leave delicate water marks. Suds glisten. And over the soaking pots, the soap bubbles stack...And I only notice because I'm looking for this and it's the rays falling, reflecting off the outer surface of a the rim of bubble's inner skin...and where they meet, this interference of light, iridescence on the bubble's arch, violet, magenta, blue-green, yellow-gold. Like the glimmer on raven wing, the angles, the hues, the brilliant fluid, light on the waves. 

What was I thinking?  How could I have ever thought there could ever be just an ordinary moon?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Singing Bird Will Come

Today is my first day without going to work in several weeks. It isn't always like this, but now is the "season" in our area if you are in the hospitality industry. We have learned to do more with fewer people and resources. Not all learning is good.

I didn't realize how stressed I was until Tuesday. I went to an auto repair shop because one of my headlights wasn't working. It is dark when I leave work, and for several evenings I was a little nervous during the drive home.

This was not your typical auto repair place. It was a wide open space with just a few chairs along the windows. They were of wood, not plastic, and were polished and shining. The art consisted of enlarged photographs of orchids, and there were a couple of paintings of island scenes. Live plants in lovely pots were here and there throughout the room. The only sounds came from the water feature on an unobtrusive table in the corner. No TV. No radio. No - not your typical auto repair shop.

I stood by the uncluttered counter, behind which was another fountain with running water. A plaque with the symbol for Harmony was next to it, and above were two framed sayings. One said something on the order of:  The quieter you are, the more you will hear, and the other:  If you have a green tree in your heart, the singing bird will come.

When the woman presented my bill, I told her I wished I was not in such a hurry because it was so calming in there. As I said those words, tears ran down both my cheeks. I was embarrassed. Yes -- I now realized I was obviously, definitely stressed.

I suddenly wanted to clear everything from my office, everything from my home, everything from my mind, except the necessary and the beautiful. I don't have time, I don't have time, I don't have time, I kept telling myself. And as long as I keep saying that, the more I will believe it.

Somehow we find time to do the things we really want to do. Today I could have gone through drawers and thrown away old paper, but instead I baked some banana-nut muffins. I could have boxed some clothes I no longer wear to take to the local shelter, but I sliced some strawberries and opened the curtains and lazily listened to the rain. And there are many other things I might do this afternoon, but sometimes doing nothing is the best stress reliever for me.  Even God rested on the seventh day.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


This story and picture were sent to me by a dear friend. I copied and pasted the e-mail, which apparently is one that is circulating. Though I have no proof of its veracity, it somehow rings true.


 In Washington, D.C. , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

 About 4 minutes later:
 The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk. 

 At 6 minutes:
 A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

 At 10 minutes:
 A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

 At 45 minutes:
 The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

 After 1 hour:
 He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.
 No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

 This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities.

 This experiment raised several questions:
 *In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
 *If so, do we stop to appreciate it?
 *Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

 One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:
 If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . ..
 How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

 Enjoy life NOW .. it has an expiration date.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Stuffed Pumpkin

I heard about this stuffed pumpkin recipe on NPR as Dorie Greenspan was being interviewed about her cookbook Around My French Table.   I just finished two big servings. It is delicious!

You start with a 3 lb. pumpkin, hollow it out, and stuff it with bread, cheese, onion, bacon, thyme and nutmeg.. Then you pour heavy cream over the filling, replace the top of the pumpkin, and bake it for a couple of hours. I am looking forward to guests, for it is pretty when it comes out of the oven, and tastes great.

The cookbook is now part of my collection. It is full of interesting stories, color photographs, and adapts French recipes to the way we cook in the United States. I'm planning my entire Christmas Eve menu from this book. (Did I say Christmas? Yes, believe it. It is only 5 weeks away.)

But this week we celebrate Thanksgiving. I wish you a happy one, and hope you can be with those you love. Thank God for them, and tell them so. And you know what else to thank Him for. Go ahead. He's listening.