Saturday, March 24, 2018

Driving Dangerous

I was first rear-ended when I was 16. I was driving my old VW Bug in the grocery store parking lot when the girl behind me, also 16, ran into me. A 1969 Bug has a very simple metal bumper and the impact shmooshed it pretty good. I couldn't open the back to check the engine oil. My dad hooked a chain onto the bug and onto his Ford Econoline van. He only had to drive the van a few inches to pull the bumper away from trunk.

Fast forward 25 years and I am driving home from my job at Bradley University in a fall dusk. One of those huge lurking pickups is sitting behind me at the stoplight. The dude behind the wheel lets his foot slide off of the brake pedal and the truck lurches forward, striking the back of my VW Golf.

I called the police and, as luck would have it, the truck driver was cited for driving without insurance. Not a good sign.

The next morning I woke up with my neck and shoulders in extreme pain. I went to an orthopedic doctor and he diagnosed me with a herniated disk and other cervical spine issues. Eventually the pain in my neck and left arm got so bad that I sought a surgical remedy at Rush Hospital in Chicago. The recovery process was horrible, and I ended up having to quit my job at Bradley. Stupidly, I was in such pain that I didn't have the presence of mind to claim disability (my years of staring at a computer screen certainly contributed to my problems).

Last Wednesday Andy was rear-ended in our brand new Subaru Outback. It has 5,000 miles on the odometer. My question is whether a body shop is equipped to evaluate the AWD system and the rear-view camera. Not sure.

This accident shook Andy up pretty bad. He was disoriented, confused, and experienced some amnesia of recent events.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Prayer Booth on the Miracle Highway

I grew up on the outskirts of a small farming community in central Illinois. The soil was about the most fecund that you could ever imagine. I would bet it was about the best in the world. Long ago, the glaciers moved into Illinois and brought with them and then deposited rich loam that could grow about anything you wished to plant.

Our yard had this wonderful soil, plus a deep well of mineral water. Dad would tap into this well with an old gas engine to water our yard and garden. We had beautiful flowers, deeply colored green beans, fresh potatoes, full stalks of corn, rhubarb, and many other fruits and vegetables.

But in my youth, I didn't always appreciate the garden. To me it meant work (weeding and harvesting), which didn't seem like fun. I was fascinated, however, by the blacktop that ran past our house. If you look it up on Google Maps today, it is called "Gilmore Road." I never heard that name when I lived there.

When I was a teen I had a Newfoundland mix dog and a spunky pony. We would often head out together down this rural blacktop. Sometimes we would meet neighbors who lived along this road in more dire circumstances than I lived in. I remember meeting a young boy about my age who also had a pony. We raced them down the road. A few months later I learned that this young man was driving a car along a rural road and collided with a farm implement. He was decapitated.

All of these memories seem to collide in my dreams even to this day.

I dream about riding a horse down this road and coming upon something miraculous.

In one dream there is a structure I call a "prayer booth."

It was a place you could enter and feel something magical. The boy with the pony was there. My Dad watering the garden with well water was there. The beautiful beloved dogs were there.

You could pray there and feel very special and happy. But then you had to exit the prayer booth. And walk home.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Blog test--Arlo showing in Topeka

OK, updating the blog so you can all "subscribe." This is one of my favorite photos of Arlo. Paul Catterson's assistant, Michelle, showed him beautifully in Topeka last August. She seemed to give him so much love. He is a lean youth, but showing potential.

Friday, November 18, 2016


Does anyone remember this headline from the Republican primaries?

Donald Trump: 'I could shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.' He was right. His supporters believe in their anointed billionaire god.

He told us he was going to do all of these things: take away DACA and threaten the lives of many wonderful people, the "dreamers" who are now working hard in college and in jobs. He told us he was going to create a registry for Muslims. He told us that we were going to have "law and order," which is code for I pick the laws that get enforced and I pick the order. 

His picks of Steve Bannon, Gen. Flynn, Sen. Sessions, and Rep. Pompeo, confirm that he plans to do what he has promised. These are all white men whose views on race issues, immigration, and the Muslim religion make them way outside of the American mainstream, even outside of the Republican party, on these issues.

The problem is: he can do any of this and his supporters will still support him. They will cheer him. He just might whip out some heat and shoot someone. He might grab a reporter "by the pussy." Everything else he has done and said has been so ridiculous, and the outrage has not happened. If he now murders or molests someone, will anyone care?

When he has conflicts of interest with his businesses in foreign countries, will anyone care? When he encourages Putin to continue cyber-attacks in our country, will anyone care? When he designates himself the supreme ruler will anyone care?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Awesome Summer Soup: Tomato Basil

This morning I was thinking about tomatoes and lunch. We have a huge Roma tomato plant that has given us more fruit than we can eat in salads and sandwiches. We have tomatoes on the vine, on the kitchen counter, and ripening on the deck.

I opened Bernard Clayton Jr.'s The Complete Book of Soups and Stews (a present from my sister Sara) and turned to "tomato" in the index. When I saw Iced Tomato and Basil soup I knew I had a starting point. Of course my current diet eschews the oil and mozzarella crostinos recommended in the recipes, but I adapted quite nicely. The result was delicious. When Andy came home for lunch and we ladled up the soup, we felt like we were dining in a multi-starred NY restaurant.

Ingredients: 5 pounds of tomatoes, which equals about 20 Roma tomatoes
5 garlic cloves
1 cup shredded fresh basil (or one Tbs dried)
One box vegetable broth (or chicken if you are so inclined).
Salt, pepper, to taste; dash of sugar
Optional toppings: 1/2 cup soy milk; cream; pesto 

Clayton's recipe called for 5 pounds of fresh garden tomatoes. I rounded up about 20 small Romas.

He suggested dipping them in boiling water and, after a minute and a half, dunking them in cold water. This allows the skins to slip off easily. He also advised slicing them down the middle and removing the seed cores, which I did. I also trimmed off any tough stem ends.

I then followed his directions to dice the tomatoes into small pieces and cook them in a pan for 5 minutes. He uses oil; I used a nonstick pan with a little water.

Meanwhile, I sauteed his suggested 5 cloves of minced fresh garlic in a non-stick skillet. Since I didn't add oil, I deglazed with a few tablespoons of vegetable broth.

After the tomatoes had cooked down for 5 minutes, I added the garlic and 1 cup of shredded basil and simmered for 5 more minutes.

Then I added a box of vegetable low-sodium vegetable broth (Clayton uses chicken) and let these all meld together for several more minutes.

I sprinkled in salt, black pepper, and a dash of sugar.

I departed from Clayton's recipe by dumping this all in my food processor and churning it to remove any tomato pulp and chunks of garlic and basil.

When I returned it to the pan, I added about 1/2 cup of soy milk. If you are into cream, that would do nicely too.

I had plucked extra basil from the garden and, before churning the soup, had made a pesto using fresh basil, one garlic clove, nutritional yeast, and about one cup of walnuts.

A spoonful of this pesto added to the soup was just … hmm … je ne sais quoi

Oh, yes, Clayton recommends eating this chilled ("iced") but admits it is delicious hot also. That's how we enjoyed it, due to timing issues. By the end of lunch hour the pan was empty so we'll have to try the chilled version another time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My friend asked for my ratatouille recipe. Here goes

On Jul 23, 2014, at 5:03 PM, Cheryl Richards wrote:

I got a couple of eggplants from my Amish connection today. You and your Mom had a good recipe for them, ratatouille? can you email this to me?

My friend, Cheri, doesn't love fresh garlic, but I assure her and any others with the same feelings that sauteed garlic adds depth. Once it is cooked it loses its intensity. 

1 large onion
3 cloves fresh garlic (when it's cooked you won't really taste it so much), but use powder if you prefer.
1 eggplant (or 2 if small) sliced thin
several zucchini and yellow squash - sliced thin - and cut in half if they are larger
Optional: thinly sliced or shredded carrots
Depending on the quantity of vegetables, 1-2 cans diced tomatoes with juice
Lotsa Italian seasoning - fresh basil if you have it
Salt and pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese (if you dare) for serving - sprinkle on top. I use nutritional yeast.

Use a large pot.

Saute onion and garlic in a little oil -- or not if the pot is nonstick. Let it brown a little.
Add sliced veggies. Let them brown a little also.
Add diced tomatoes -- if it doesn't seem moist enough add some tomato sauce or veggie broth - as the veggies simmer they will release more water so keep that in mind
Let the tomatoes and veggies simmer for at least 45 minutes til everything is tender
Add seasoning - let simmer a few more minutes.

Serve over couscous (preferred) or rice or pasta.

Just made some the other day (sans eggplant) and this is basically what I did.

ratatouille is one of those dishes that is better the next day

Good luck.

Tips for Preparing Eggplant

When cutting an eggplant, use a stainless steel knife as carbon steel will react with its phytonutrients and cause it to turn black. Wash the eggplant first and then cut off the ends.

Most eggplants can be eaten either with or without their skin. However, the larger ones and those that are white in color generally have tough skins that may not be palatable. To remove skin, you can peel it before cutting or if you are baking it, you can scoop out the flesh once it is cooked.

To tenderize the flesh's texture and reduce some of its naturally occurring bitter taste, you can sweat the eggplant by salting it. After cutting the eggplant into the desired size and shape, sprinkle it with salt and allow it to rest for about 30 minutes. This process will pull out some of its water content and make it less permeable to absorbing any oil used in cooking.

Rinsing the eggplant after "sweating" will remove most of the salt.