Category Archives: Food

Easing back in

Eight years ago this week I was in Oslo and Copenhagen. The weather was tremendously cold!

In the Vigelund park, with snow falling on Oslo.

Random Sunday afternoon thoughts:

After a strange and unexpected few weeks of travel and family and estate and such, I am easing back into the flow of the forthcoming semester.

As I write on this Sunday afternoon, we are expecting some ice and sleet to arrive.  My two voice lessons today both asked to postpone, and I am quite adrift in silence at home, which is delightful.

On the way back from Lee’s Summit two weeks ago, having just buried my father the day before, I stopped by one of the many antique malls that dot the I-70 corridor, and purchased an old floor lamp with a lovely and gaudy half-globe painted glass shade.  This is the only light illuminating my living room, where I sit in my chair and write.

After a full Saturday that included five hours of voice lessons and a visit with a friend, this Sunday has been peaceful.  I made some banana bread this morning, and have watered some sourdough starter this afternoon.  I’ve spent time in my home office and done some tidying and tossing here at home. I’ve done some laundry.  And I recorded some tracks for one of my students, texted about various things, and have read a bit today as well.  This is truly a lazy Sunday — gray and overcast and chilly but not frigid.

The past few days have been strangely internal.  The reality of my father’s death — of now being the eldest, with no one above me in my immediate family — has finally sunk in.  After days of doing the things that needed to be done, I’m now finally grieving some.  And then on Thursday evening I saw Call Me By Your Name, and I was gutted by the father’s final speech, not to mention to the entire film.  For three days now, all of this has been rattling ’round in my conscious mind, and probably in my unconscious as well.

Meanwhile, this week ramps up at work, culminating in a Friday afternoon faculty workshop (for which I’m not ready).  Spring 2018 classes commence on January 16.

[And just like that, Auggie hops up from his perch on the sofa, starts doing his I’m-about-to-puke routine, and I grab him from the Persian rug and put him on the hardwood.  He retched in the right place.  Aug did not eat his breakfast, so I wondered if something was amiss.]

I picked up a new voice student this weekend, and will enjoy working with him tremendously, I think.  He’s smart and grabbed onto ideas immediately at his first lesson on Saturday.

The bone-jarring cold snap seems to be over, with the arrival this afternoon of some freezing rain.  My frozen pipe has now unfrozen.  The forecast calls for more moderate temperatures this week.  And perhaps I won’t be running my furnaces 2/3 of the time now.  (I fear for my natural gas bill and electric bill after these last two weeks.)

Part of my inheritance from my father’s estate is a lovely Seth Thomas wall clock, dating from the mid-19th century.  The clock is currently at About Time, a local clock shop, for an overhaul and fine-tuning. I also picked up my parents’ cuckoo clock and took it to the shop.  The cuckoo clock had been boxed for well over 30 years, and the bellows are shot.  This one will take some work to repair.  My father’s safe deposit box also included two pocket watches.  One of them was a much-used American Waltham railroad watch with a serial number that dates the watch to 1902. This would have belonged to one of my paternal great-grandfathers.  It’s also at the clock shop for repair and refurbishment.

And with some of the inheritance I’ll be receiving, I’ve made two purchases, one for me and one for the house:

  • for the house, the final installment of new Pella windows for the living room.  I had purchased new custom-made windows previously for the master bedroom, the back porch, and the kitchen.  This will finish the window updates.
  • for me, a new gold and diamond ring.  I traded in my Uncle John’s gold wedding band, a red coral and gold ring I purchased in Santa Fe, and my father’s high school class ring (although I did keep a diamond and synthetic ruby gold ring that my father was wearing) . . . and upgraded to a lovely five-diamond gold and white gold pinky ring. The only jewelry I have ever really purchased is cufflinks or a pinky ring, and I think this one will be with me until my dying day.

Speaking of inheritance, executorship of an estate is a part-time job.  Just sayin’ . . . .

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2017 in photos

Chicken enchilada casserole

Somewhere in my recipe file is a sheet in my mother’s handwriting, with the recipe for a big pan of chicken enchilada casserole. It’s a yummy concoction, using flour tortillas.

As I was cleaning my desk yesterday, in my home study, I found a little recipe book from Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City.  I had purchased this a couple of years ago, and dog-eared a few recipes, then left it out of mind on the side of my work space.

One of the recipes was a similar concoction to what Mom made.  And so on Sunday evening I threw together a homemade cream of chicken soup base, sour cream, corn tortillas, a cup of diced chicken breast, a can of green chilies, a bit of onion, and some chicken broth . . . and had a wonderful, cheese-topped homemade casserole.  With leftovers for the week.

This tasted almost like Mom’s recipe.  For a moment, I was transported back to the kitchen on Wingate in Lee’s Summit.

A Thanksgiving story

On this day after Thanksgiving, I am seeing shadows.  

The Thanksgiving holiday was spent primarily at my family home in Lee’s Summit — the white, two-story 1920s home that my parents purchased in 1979, and which is now owned by my youngest sister and family.

As I made the traditional cheese grits on Thursday afternoon, I found myself thinking about a particular Thanksgiving in the 1980s.  Mom’s brother, Uncle Edwin, was in town with his wife Mary.  My grandmother was there too.  And perhaps Aunt Esther, although I don’t recall.  

Mom had worked hard on the Thanksgiving meal, but when Mary and I found out that she did not plan on having stuffing, we set to work.  Mary made cornbread, and the result was some of the most wonderful stuffing ever.  Several of us raved about it, at the expense of raving about the rest of the meal.

Mom was not happy.

I still remember how badly I felt.

This is now the 20th Thanksgiving without Mom here.  The traditions continue.  We ate food from my maternal grandmother’s plates on Thursday, and we had the traditional family additions of cheese grits and paper-sack apple pie.  My sisters and I shared the cooking duties, with the addition of Karen’s adult son Blayne and Beth’s wonderful husband Robert.  New traditions are set too, including plates of things like cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.

More shadows are emerging, and more additions are present too, including the lovely young great-niece Lily.

On this Thanksgiving, I am thankful for SO many things, not least of them family, and shadows that ground and remind and connect me to a place and people, and most importantly for the means of grace and for the hope of glory.

Random photos

Random photos from this past week!


I thought about renting this beauty at the airport in Phoenix…. Of course they walk you by the exotic car collection on the way to Kias and Hyundais.

According to Starbucks at Lambert airport, I am now Jaff.

Thursday dinner of chicken with lemon artichoke sauce, pasta in a light cream sauce, and Parmesan bread.

The boy loves the fireplace.

5.30 a.m. Friday. Lawn Place.

Tuesday on campus.

Marlettos hit this Tuesday lunch out of the park. Chicken and beans and red peppers in a sweet sauce, with scallions and cashews. SO yummy.

Monday evening at the Missouri Botanical Garden, after leaving a cooking class.

From the Japanese Friendship Garden in Phoenix.