Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Reaching out

This shot was taken in Mystic, CT Aquarium. I love how this woman is reaching out to touch the beluga whale even though she knows there's a few inches of plexiglass between her and the water. The whale even stayed there for a few moments staring at us as if he wanted to reach out to us.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Back to New York City

Bryant Park, NYC, behind the New York Public Library

Ok, so I couldn't keep away from New York City. My two sisters and I had our annual sisters outing in the city. Spent the day looking at Christmas display windows, Rockefeller Center, the inside of a few pubs and playing with our friend's baby. Well worth the train and cab fares. I turned into "designated tourist group picture taker" at Rockefeller Center. In the time it took my sisters to find a Starbucks around the corner, I had taken 22 pictures of families, friends and tour groups with their own digital cameras, disposables and cell phones. Most were taken in front of the statue below. You're all welcome wherever you are...and...Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

New York Times
The Thanks We GivePublished: November 25, 2004

It's not the turkey alone we're grateful for. Not the cranberry sauce or the stuffing or even the pumpkin pie. Some of the people seated at the table are strangers - friends of friends, cousins of in-laws - and some are almost desperately familiar, faces we live and work with every day.
In any other week, today would merely be Thursday and the gathering of all these people - the cooking and serving and cleaning - a chore. But today it doesn't feel that way. The host - perhaps it's you - stands up and asks that we give thanks, and we do, each in our own way. And what we're thankful for is simply this, the food, the shelter, the company and, above all, the sense of belonging.
As holidays go, Thanksgiving is in some ways the most philosophical. Today we try not to take for granted the things we almost always take for granted. We try, if only in that brief pause before the eating begins, to see through the well-worn patterns of our lives to what lies behind them. In other words, we try to understand how very rich we are, whether we feel very rich or not. Today is one of the few times most Americans consciously set desire aside, if only because desire is incompatible with the gratitude - not to mention the abundance - that Thanksgiving summons.
It's tempting to think that one Thanksgiving is pretty much like another, except for differences in the guest list and the recipes. But it isn't true. This is always a feast about where we are now. Thanksgiving reflects the complexion of the year we're in. Some years it feels buoyant, almost jubilant in nature. Other years it seems marked by a conspicuous humility uncommon in the calendar of American emotions.
And this year? We will probably remember this Thanksgiving as a banquet of mixed emotions. This is, after all, a profoundly American holiday. The undertow of business as usual seems especially strong this year. The shadow of a war and misgivings over the future loom in the minds of many of us. Most years we enjoy the privacy of Thanksgiving, but this year, somehow, the holiday feels like part of a public effort to remember and reclaim for ourselves what it means to be American.
That means giving thanks for some fundamental principles that should be honored every day of the year in the life of this nation - principles of generosity, tolerance and inclusion. This is a feast that no one should be turned away from. The abundance of the food piled on the table should signify that there is plenty for all, plenty to be shared. The welcome we feel makes sense only if we also extend it to others.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Frost on the Pumpkin

It's a "Frost on the Pumpkin" themed blog! Ok, I'm tapped today...long weekend... so here's some silly stuff on theme...
(click song title to hear)

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Alice In Artland

Every so often, I am overcome by an inexplicable urge to visit New York City. Sometimes I just need to shed the moss from my hiking boots and take on the mortar morass at full stride. It usually results in a few lame touristy photos of midtown buildings, a hasty meal and much regret over my poor choice in walking shoes. But this last visit, I went downtown to a new part of the jungle for me! It was called "Chelsea" and in it were "art galleries."

Art, to me, has usually meant a painting...something recognizable and not in the genre "moderne." But I'm expanding my horizons (and, in the future, my shoe width...ow) and I chose to visit some very fine small art galleries. Not "small art"...small galleries! Some of the art, was, in fact, small...in size and, in my uneducated opinion, small in meaning. Or maybe my small mind just couldn't get around the artist's larger meanings.

Take for example, the display of dead deer pictures. Apparently this particular state of natural life, or death, caught the eye of an artist...she captured dead deer in various states of death, bleeding, gutting and de-carcassing...(ick), then mounted the pictures with earthy items like leather twine, stitching, branches and called them creative names like "dead 1" "dead 2." I never found "dead 7..." But anyway, this was her art. So, I saw it. And suddenly, I felt the urge to see 5th Avenue and the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Center or a park with trees. I found myself re-checking the train schedules.

Before I escaped, er, left the city, I caught one photography exhibit and captured the shot above. The real photo by Wijnanda Deroo can be seen here at the Robert Mann Gallery.

Also check out Michael Kenna's gallery there.

Crazy link for the day: Llama Song
(Warning! This song will stick in your head all day long!)

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


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Stuffing is very personal. Each family has their own method and ingredients and vessels in which to bake it. Our family is of the classic Pepperidge Farm stuffing recipe variety ( want the recipe from the back of the bag? See below!!) with bacon and sautéed onions and celery and tons of butter and it is, most definitely, cooked inside the bird. The inner cavity stuffing preferable over the neck-stuffed stuffing. Substitutions are not tolerated.

NY Times Stuffing Article (may require free registration)
Maya Angelou's "Hallelujah! The Welcome Table"

Pepperidge Farm Stuffing as my mom prepared it:

One bag "seasoned stuffing"

Bacon, eight slices, fried to just crisp, then rough chopped

One large onion, 1/4" dice

Two stalks celery, 1/4" dice

(one cup mushrooms, sliced, optional: that's my addition...mushroom lover!)

One cup chicken broth

One cup milk

1 1/2 sticks butter

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp thyme

2 Tbsp. parsley

In a large frying pan, add one stick of butter. Melt it over medium heat.

Add onions and celery and saute until onions are translucent, and just starting to caramelize, about 10-15 minutes.

Add the remaining butter and melt. Cool slightly.

In large bowl, add stuffing bag contents. Add seasonings. Toss well. Add bacon and onion/celery/butter, mixture. Mix well with hands or large spoon. Add milk and 3/4 of the broth and mix well. Let it sit for a few minutes so liquid is absorbed, then take a handful of stuffing and squeeze it in your palm. If it binds together loosely, it's moist enough. If it doesn't bind at all, add the remaining broth. You don't want it soggy, but not too dry either.

If you're cooking it in the bird (the best way, if you ask me), you can add slightly less liquid. If cooking in a separate pan, moisten it a little more, with water if necessary.

When I roast a turkey, I do it this way cooked breast-side DOWN for the first 2/3 of the cooking time, then flipped over for the last 1/3 to brown...always moist, juicy, tasty and cooks quickly.

Clean out the bird, etc, and dry cavity. Season with salt and pepper inside and out. Stuff bird inside cavity (don't pack it or overstuff...leave enough room so you can fit your fingers in the top above the stuffing. Stuff the neck area at the other end, don't overpack. (secure that with long skewers). Cook remaining stuffing in a greased loaf pan covered with foil for 20 minutes, then uncovered for the last 15 minutes. Grease bird lightly with bacon grease (ack! I know, but it's just a little and you skim it off the drippings before you make the gravy, I promise). Place bird breast side DOWN on the roasting rack, set in a large roasting pan.

Roast turkey in a preheated 450degree (yes, 450) oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce oven to 325degrees and cook for one hour without opening oven. After one hour, flip bird over carefully, watching the drippings because they're hot...so that the breast side is up for the last 1/3 of the cooking time (depending on your bird size...figure 15 min. per pound for unstuffed, 20 minutes for stuffed). Baste every 20 minutes after that with pan drippings (use a large spoon). Cook until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat (breast where wing joint attaches) reaches the food safe temp of 165. Make sure the stuffing gets up to 165degree temperature, too. But there's no reason it won't unless you packed it in or you chilled it beforehand (don't!).

Remember, cooking is about giving love. Giving love to the food you're preparing and giving love to the people you share it with. It's not about the food in the end. It's about the gathering. The food just gets them there! No worries. Cook, love, eat, be happy, repeat.

Happy Holidays!

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Saturday, November 13, 2004

First Snow of the Season

Where did fall go? Sneaky mistress, that Mother Nature. Dumping three inches of the white stuff overnight! Don't you know they don't even have sleds on sale yet?? Snowmen must be made...buttons must be found...birdfeeders must be filled and kept from the squirrels. Ack! I don't have an ice scraper! The shovel is missing!!

I guess cardboard inside plastic bags will have to suffice as sleds. I did manage to buy the snowboots early this year and wash the mittens, scarves, hats and snowpants. The snowmen won't be high fashion, but sturdy enough until that fall wind warms up a bit and sends them tipping. The birds will make due, I suspect, and the squirrels always have a stash.

For me...I'll don my boots and scarf and head off to the woods with the camera. And leave the snow where it is... a beautiful surprise dusting softly sitting on evergreen boughs and oak branches. The clean, crisp air will be refreshing and the crunch of my footsteps on fallen leaves will be replaced by the soft, cold quiet of winter.

First Snow pics

First Snow from Up High

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Bread is good

I am thoroughly convinced that Atkins is the Devil and South Beach is Hell. But my pants do fit better. Dammit.

Scale Humor

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Counting blessings

How many times have we started the day off wrong because something so small and insignificant has gone wrong...we let it fester inside and cast a gray cloud over the rest of our day. We're worried about our weight, the frizziness of our hair, the newspaper's being delivered late, the school bus is early, the diet we're on is difficult, the gym was crowded at lunchtime. We are so busy finding things to make us unhappy that we forget to seek out those things that bring us joy!

Today I found out a friend's father was in the hospital because a wound he'd had became infected. His life is in jeopardy. To add to the dismay, he is the primary caregiver for his invalid wife. The burden of her care and their financial stability now lies with my friend. On Monday she went from wondering which class she might take at the gym to figuring out how to maneuver her way through the emergency medical services at the hospital, to inquiring about how to get power of attorney over her parents affairs, how to juggle care for her own family and visit her father and still care for her mother, her parents household and their pets.

We are blessed to have our families, our friends, our health, communities, jobs, beauty in nature and comfort at home. As Thanksgiving rolls around, we are reminded to count our blessings. Why wait?

Here are some thoughts on thankfulness to share...today. Peace.

* * * * *

"O Lord that lends me life, Lend me a heart replete with thankfulness."
- William Shakespeare

"I do not think of all the misery, but of the glory that remains. Go outside into the fields, nature and the sun, go out and seek happiness in yourself and in God. Think of the beauty that again and again discharges itself within and without you and be happy."
- Anne Frank

I sit beside the fire and think of all that I have seen,
of meadow-flowers and butterflies in summers that have been;
Of yellow leaves and gossamer in autumns that there were,
with morning mist and silver sun and wind upon my hair.
-J.R.R. Tolkien, Bilbo's Song

We are taught as Traditional children that we have abundance. The Creator has given us everything: the water, the air we breathe, the earth as our flesh, and our energy force: our heart. We are thankful every day. We pray early in the morning, before sunrise, the morning star, and the evening star. We pray for our relatives who are in the universe that someday they will come.
-Looks for Buffalo, Oglala Sioux Spiritual Leader

Be still, my heart, these great trees are prayers.
- Rabindranath Tagore