Tag Archives: delight

little girls


I am getting a pedicure. The technician has lulled me into a stupor with her gentle, rhythmic foot massage.

Nearby, two little girls are chanting one of those pat-a-cake rhymes that every generation has had since there were little girls.

My version had something to do with a cookie jar.

As I watch them I remember my own daughter, giggling with her friends about nothing. And a single tear escapes from each eye.

This seems awkward in a nail salon and I discreetly brush them aside. And smile.

Little girls.




heartfull_choose_love_-5587Sometimes you have a day in which you feel everything is falling into place.

You didn’t do anything; you’ve just been putting one foot in front of the other, trying to do a little better with your diet and exercise, maybe taking five minutes to meditate, reaching out to a friend who’s struggling and telling her that she matters.

Maybe it’s because your doctor tweaked your meds a little. Maybe it’s because the rain cleared the air and it’s easier to breathe. And maybe it’s simply grace.

Whatever the reason, those days have been few and far between over the last several years, and I am grateful for this one. And I want to tell you: don’t give up. You can have one, too. It’s my belief that God wants us to have an abundant life and that our struggles ennoble us. And with a little gratitude, I can see that my life is already abundant, that I have more than everything I need.

That’s all. I love you and I know that you love me. We can’t help it. It’s how we’re made.

Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread


bread My advice: read this post all the way through before starting.

Cornbread making is a true kitchen art, and even the best cooks have to practice it.  So don’t freak out if your first attempts are disappointing.  The secrets include a hot oven, a hot skillet, and a moist batter.

These ingredients are liable to vary widely: the dryness of the meal, the moisture content of the sour cream, the size of the eggs. So you have to be willing to guess a lot. Eventually you’ll do this without using measuring cups or spoons. You’ll just throw everything into a bowl and mix it up.

I’ve never used anything to make cornbread but a large, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet.  You can certainly adapt this recipe to your favorite technique.

And it’s easiest if you mix all the runny things first and then add the dry things. But you want to start with eggs, then oil, and then milk. If you add pickled jalapenos and/or sour cream to your eggs it might curdle them.


2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil: see my note at the bottom***.
Milk, half&half or cream — whatever is on hand.
1/2 c sour cream
Self-rising corn meal mix (yellow is best, but white is OK. If you can get the buttermilk kind, that’s even better.)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (sharp, medium or mild — your call)
Diced jalapeno pepper (I like the small cans already diced.  If you’re brave, you can dice your own fresh ones.)


Put 2 T oil in your skillet and put into the oven to heat at 400 degrees.  You want a hot oven and a hot oiled skillet to start with.

Crack the eggs into your mixing bowl and stir lightly with a fork.

Blend in 2 T canola oil and about 1/2 cup of milk. This isn’t precise and I’ll explain why in a minute.

Add in sour cream and a heaping cup of corn meal mix. Don’t be afraid.

Add cheese and jalapenos.  Start with 2 T of the peppers, unless they’re fresh or unless you’re new at this.


Now here’s where the artistry comes in.  There’s almost no way to mess up this cornbread, especially if you have no preconceived idea of what it’s supposed to be when it’s done. But you do want it to be moist.

What you want is a batter that’s about like sour cream.  You want it to flow into your skillet with the help of a spoon, but you don’t want it to be too thick.  Nor do you want it as runny as pancake batter.  So here you’ll add a couple of tablespoons of milk to thin it down, or a couple of tablespoons of meal mix to thicken it up.

You can’t go wrong.  The worst thing that can happen is you’ll end up with too much batter, and that just means more cornbread.

When the oven has reached 400 degrees, remove the hot skillet.  Be very, very careful at this point.  Remove children, pets, and clumsy relatives from the area.

Gently spoon the batter into the skillet and bake for 10 minutes.  Then check the bread by jiggling the skillet handle.  If the top of the bread shivers, give it another 2 to 5 minutes.  The bread is ready when it pulls away from the sides of the skillet.


If you’re happy with the way your bread looks when it comes out of the oven, or if the idea of flipping makes you nervous, you can just serve it straight from the skillet.  If you’ve used an aluminum pan for your baking or you’ve made muffins, you can just skip this part.

To finish the bread, you want to flip it out onto a ceramic plate, upflippedside down.  Then slide the bread back into the hot skillet, bottom side up, and leave it for a few minutes.  This gives the top a nice color.

Flip the bread back onto the plate right side up to serve.

Don’t forget to turn off the oven.


I always put butter and honey on the table.  But sometimes we just think they’re superfluous.

And if you’re easily distracted and tend to burn things, it’s a good idea to have a loaf of French bread on standby.

***A word on oils

Canola oil seems to be the food snobs’ latest whipping boy.  It comes from rapeseed, which gets people all aflutter.  Rape is the Latin word for “turnip” and is a plant from the mustard clan, which is high in erucic acid.  So somebody reengineered both the oil and the name to let folks know, hey, this is CANadianOilLow(erucic)Acid, abbreviated CANOLA.  My advice is to read both sides of the argument and shop carefully. A good organic canola oil is great in recipes where olive oil is just wrong.  Or you can pay more for something else if it makes you feel better.


Weasley Blanket


I made a small blanket for Elijah when he was about four, and it came out as a distorted parallelogram.  If any of you use Photoshop, you know exactly what this looks like.

When I frogged it out it became a pile of small balls of worsted weight acrylic yarn, which I never use any more.

Now I hardly ever go to movies.  I think it’s because I watch them so much on my laptop that I get used to having a (mostly) purely cinematic experience.

Watching a movie in any of our local theaters is sort of like seeing them at a bus stop.  I just find it hard to tune out all the cell phones, the conversation in the seats behind me, the feet up on the seat next to me, etc., etc.

So one weekend I decided to catch up with the rest of my family by watching ALL the Harry Potter movies back to back.  By the time it was over I was sure I had been living at Hogwarts for two days.

Ron in his room at Hogwarts

every boy needs a blanket.

Then somehow when I was trolling my usual sites I came across a wonderful project by Jackie Wierzbicki— The Ron Weasley Blanket.

You can read about her journey at http://penguineerspurls.blogspot.com/2011/12/potter-pattern-done.html.

So I found yet another destash project, this time using those orphaned balls of worsted.  I’m averaging about three squares a week and hope to finish this by the time Eli needs a blanket on his bed.

I ran out of stitch pins, so I substituted whatever circular needles were hanging around, just transferring the squares and letting the needle tips dangle on either side.

I also had a hard time keeping up with where I was, since I didn’t QUITE have all the colors I needed in progress (Ravelry, Listia and eBay to the rescue, of course) so I stuck the squares up on the wall with pushpins.

My daughter likes the look of this, so I told her for my next project I will knit her a wall.




I just walked into the house after a morning drive. More on that later.

I’m having sort of a freefall of the senses; something in it very reminiscent of the one and only time I jumped out of an airplane.  Gravity and direction seem sort of vague, and I feel something that whispers both of euphoria and of panic.

I’m current on my meds and my blood pressure is probably just fine.  I am short of breath and my heart rate is rapid.  I noticed on the drive home how wretched my distance vision has become — it was kind of alarming to notice that I couldn’t read the street signs until I got right up on them.

I came across a small journal recently and found several pages outlining the symptoms of a bad fibro relapse.  It was interesting to read it while I’m essentially in a remissive phase.  There were days when I would get up and run an errand, go back to bed; get up, complete a short assignment, go back to bed.  I would sleep up to 14 hours a day and still feel tired.

People suggested I was sleeping too much.  Hell, I knew that.  I also know my body.  I know the difference between the malaise that comes from sitting around too much, which exercise will remedy.  I also know the bone-crushing exhaustion of fibromyalgia when it surfaces as chronic fatigue.

These weather precursors that I experience occur 1 to 2 hours before a front moves in.  The more dramatic the symptoms, the quicker and more violent the weather becomes.  When I was very ill I would pass out, as if from an attack of narcolepsy.

Now the precursors are less possessive, and are similar to the sensation I have when I’m approaching a channeling state.  It’s hard to describe, but it’s sort of a feeling of vertigo, a gentle pleasant humming in my head.  My sense is that I can almost touch the spirit guide that is present.

Sometimes I can channel the guide through writing or typing, but the session is always best when I’m channeling on behalf of someone else.  When they are receptive, they contribute their energy and their bandwidth, so to speak, to the communication.  And sometimes remarkable things happen.

My mission today was to pick blueberries.  The weather has been lenient of late and I practically missed the strawberry season, and blueberries just started.  So I sped off to Nesbit, only to find that there’s no picking on Sunday and Monday.  But I had a nice chat with George, stopped at the Dairy Bar for a vanilla shake and made my way home slowly up Highway 51.

The sights and sounds of the country nearly almost always sprout hope in my heart.  I see little rundown shacks and I think, I could live there.  The Capricorn in me points out that I couldn’t live there without Internet access and a lawnmower, but surely that’s manageable.

But there was something about seeing the clusters of blueberries on the bushes, thick as grapes, still green, that feels like money in my pocket.  They’re just waiting for me, just like the angels.  I just need to reach out a little.

Hopscotch (excerpt) ~ Julio Cortázar


My hands want to hide in your hair, stroke the depth of your hair while we kiss with mouths full of flowers or fish, of living movements, of dark fragrance.

And if we bite each other, the pain is sweet, and if we drown in a short and terrible surge of breath, that instant death is beauty.

And there is a single saliva and a single flavor of ripe fruit, and I feel you shiver against me like a moon on the water.

~ Julio Cortázar

The Laughing Heart ~ Charles Bukowski


your life is your life

don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.

you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

@Charles Bukowski

YouTube: Tom Waits Reads “The Laughing Heart”

Sunday Morning ~ Jack Grapes


Sunday morning. Spring. I wake to the sun lifting one leg over the top of the Ticor Building on Wilshire Boulevard. The new leaves on the tree outside my bedroom window are tinged with sunlight. If only I were a photographer or painter I’d freeze this moment and crawl into it.

Sunday morning. I have to get up but my body wants to drown right here in the bed. Spring ambles up the street waving its arms. A matinee today. I have to be at the theater by two. Yesterday, I find out from my agent that I didn’t get the part I was counting on.

Eat this, they say.
It’s good for you.
You’ve eaten it before.
The next one will be sweet.

I eat and concentrate on the window, on the tree, on the sun beginning to beat its chest as it comes over the top of the tallest building.

I drive down Beverly Boulevard, take the curve where it changes into 1st Street, turn on Grand and park right across from the museum. It’s just after ten, hardly any cars on the street. MOCA doesn’t open till eleven. The sun has followed me all the way, reflecting off the Security Pacific Bank Building, glass and steel going all the way up.

I get off on this urban sleekness, especially the unfinished building across the street, another skeleton of steel and concrete. Someone should stick a sign on it, make it part of MOCA, part of the Permanent Collection, and leave it just as it is, unfinished. No clear line where the museum ends and the rest of the city begins. One easy flow, stretching all the way back into our homes, into the very center of our lives.

I walk past the California Plaza sign, running my hand along the chrome and glass, then head downstairs for a cup of coffee and cinnamon roll at the “Il Panino.” There’s a girl two tables over, in the sun. We both drink our coffee in silence, checking our watches, writing something down in our journals.

She’s an art student from Santa Barbara come to see the Jasper Johns. She asks what am I here to see. “Oh,” I say, “the art. Just the art. I don’t care. Just something.”

I don’t understand anything.
Hot and humid days;
nights, dark and mysterious.
They take me to school.
I stare at the blackboard.
The kid from around the corner beats me up at recess.
Some nights my father doesn’t come home.

My mother shrieks on the telephone.
My pet turtle dries up in the sun.
My uncle dies on the floor in the empty kitchen.
Who is the world?
Why is the moon where the sun is?
If the street goes nowhere, why is it in my bed?
What is the rain that rains just rain,
and why does it rain crows, or bats, or baseball gloves?
How is the pencil writing my name,
and why is my name the name for the thing that fixes tires,
the name for the flag on the pirate ship,
the name for the clown crushed in the box?
Outside, the kids continue to jump rope on the sidewalk,
singing, “A my name is Alice,”
seeing everything, but knowing nothing.

The class takes a bus with Miss Cook
to the Delgado Museum on Elysian Fields Avenue.
We’re going to see Vincent Van Gogh.
Later, when I tell my mother,
who was born in Antwerp,
she says to say it like this,
Vincent Van Gough,
and she coughs as she says it.
Van Gough! Van Gough!.
But Miss Cook says Van Go.
We are marched single-file from one room to another,
walking past each painting that hangs just above our heads.

Vincent van GoghI look up at the painting.
I can’t believe what I am seeing.
Everything mysterious and horrible about the world vanishes.
He paints like I paint!
Trees outlined in black.
All those wavy lines, all those colors.
And he piles the paint on.
He’s wasting all that paint,
just like I did before they told me not to waste all the paint.

He sees everything I see.
The moon is where the sun is.
The street that goes nowhere is in his bed.
It’s not just raining rain,
it’s raining crows and bats.
He sees the blood, he sees the faces.
Everything so bright it’s on fire.
Everything so dark it swallows me up.
The man cuts his ear off.
The man leans against the table so sad.
The man dies on the floor of the empty kitchen.

I stop in front of the painting with crows above a cornfield.
The world I see is real.
I bring my hand up and touch the dried paint.
It’s real!
Mounds of paint,
swirls of paint,
rivers of paint!

But it’s not paint.
It’s real.
It’s the world.

“Don’t touch the painting!” Miss Cook yells.
She pulls my hand away.
She yanks my arm into the center of the room.
“Never ever touch a painting!”
She shoves me into a seat in the back of the bus.
It doesn’t matter.
The world is real.
I fold my hands in my lap.
I know what I will do.

I will write about the real world.

Frank Gehry11 o’clock. The girl heads off toward the Jasper Johns. I walk into the J. Paul Getty Trust Gallery and find the Geary cardboard chairs and cardboard houses. “Can I sit in them?” I ask the guard. “They can be sat in,” he says, “but you can’t sit in them.”

“Oh,” I say, and walk into the room with the huge pavilion shaped like a fish. I walk into the belly of the fish. The wood inside is so beautiful.

“Don’t touch the wood, please,” says the guard.

I wander over to the Nauman video. A clown is being tortured on simultaneous video screens. “Clown Torture,” it’s called. Later, in the Permanent Collection, I bump into the girl from Santa Barbara. In the center of the room, a metal sculpture of a man moves his motorized mouth up and down. A silent




This, I understand. I stand as close to it as I can. The guard watches me suspiciously.

Over in the North Gallery there’s an empty spot in one corner. Something was there, but it’s been                 removed. I make a sign for myself and hang it around my neck. I stand in the corner of the Permanent Collection, North Gallery, as still as I can, one arm out in the gesture of an actor about to speak.

Eat this.
You’ve eaten it before.
The next one will be sweet.
The street that goes nowhere is in your bed.
You know nothing,
but you can see everything.

A woman and her little girl walk up to me. “What does the sign say?” the girl asks.

“Touch me,” her mother says. “The sign says touch me.”

So the child reaches out a hand and touches my own.

by Jack Grapes