Monday, September 7, 2009

Just back from a weekend at the Ranch

Mark and I went to Las Vegas, NM to visit Patricia and family at their new home in NM. The property, the home are BEAUTIFUL.

We left about 3pm and did not run into any traffic in Denver or Colorado Springs. In the city of CS the traffic did pick upbut there was no congestion.

The obligatory photo of Walsenburg was accompanied by a text to PJ and she texted back with LOL. (This is story that I give PJ the privilege of sharing as it is her story to tell!)

The best part of the trip was THE BOYS. Cody greeted usand showed us around his new house.

Tyler was sleeping but when he woke up at 2am we brought him into bed with us for a late night milk bottle. He wasn’t sure who we were but a milk bottle is a milk bottle.

Mark took Cody for morning walks, finding all kinds of treasure—golf balls were a big hit. But they are for throwing outside.

Since it rained we did not have a chance to enjoy the newly constructed fire pit—Jason did a GREAT job. This is a future activity that will be relished.

Jason and Lenny participated in a gold tournament (Dwayne’s business partner runs it) while we went to Santa Fe to check out the campgrounds for Jamboree 2010. Check out the Monkey Blog in a day or two for that update. Suffice itto say it is perfect for young families.

While in Santa Fe we hit the Children’s Museum. This is the best child ren’s museum I’ve ever been to, bar none.

Kids have a great time and older kids do too.

Patricia cooked for us all weekend and it was good from the pastrami sandwich for lunch to the beef enchiladas for dinner. Breakfast had special treats too—yogurt parfaits ala McDonalds-style.

One evening we joined Dwayne and Tracey (and Kellie) on the deck outside their home. It was a beautiful evening. Beautiful time.

It was sad to say good-bye to my boys. But PJ will be here for her birthday and I’m sure Las Vegas will be in our travel plans before the end of the year. The quick 5 ½ hour drive is pleasant and doable.

I won’t have to miss my boys very much.

Friday, August 28, 2009


So one week down on the new adventure of working at The Mental Health Center. No comments, please on hiring from the "customer" pool. Actually that is increasing the view, hire from within.

When you think about mental health or recovery it makes sense if you believe in what you are doing to "main stream" your clients.

It so reminds me of my friend Melinda. She and her husband Tim pioneered many programs and processes to help not only their daughter, Miller, but all people with "special" needs. EVERYONE has a place. Sometimes you need to make some accommodation but all are welcome, needed.

Under the category of: One of the funny things about work. Since I began my adult "working" career as a wife/mother of the stay-at-home variety where I did not work outside the home, it continues to be difficult for me to easily adapt to the "we are friendly, not friends" mentality of the work environment. In the past, my work was entirely relationship focused. I did not have to work with people I did not like--I was a volunteer. I picked the team I worked with--I was a volunteer. I was in charge--this was MY ministry. Hmmm. It was a good life but did not prepare me for the real world. Now, I work for others, do their bidding with others I'm not personally connected to.

I used to think I did not like working with women. Not true. Women as a groupof people are lovely. I no longer have a need to compete or compare. I have a man that loves me, cherishes me. My children despite all their attempts otherwise, respect me. Friends, true friends surrounds me. The kind you can call at 2 a.m. and their response would be, "I'm there for you; how can I help." What else in life really matters.

Under the category of musing: Women are allowed to be more expressive emotionally which I did not like in my youth. This was probably due to the women's movement -- we thought we had to be more like men to be seriously considered in the marketplace. With the hindsight as the guide we might better have considered changing the standard to include the feminine perspective which would include a more compassionate, personal, tenderness. How different the world might be if we (women) wanted to be more womanly. Hmmm.

You’re a good cooker …

Many years ago Andrew complimented me on the dinner meal with the words, “Mama, you’re a good cooker.” Before you think I’m bragging it is noteworthy to mention the menu, Chef Boyardee Ravioli (it was with meat—I think),
canned green beans,
and generic white bread.
It was a seminal moment. I reconsidered my audience at that moment and returned to considering the menus preferences only of Mark and myself. Translation: onions and mushrooms returned as ingredients.

Earlier this week we had a chicken stir-fry for dinner. This is really fast food. Andrew asked me where I got this recipe. I shrugged because it was more or less “invented” with leftovers. It rated an 8+ so here you go with the proportions—substitute with what you have on hand and FYI, I buy the rice at Fan’s for $1.

Stir Fry Chicken and Vegetable

3 tablespoons canola oil

½ pound cooked chicken breast, cut diagonally in to ¼” thick slices

Frozen vegetables (I used peppers)

Fresh vegetables (I used mushrooms, onion, zucchini, etc.)

2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Heat a large, heavy skillet or work over high heat until water sizzles when dropped on to the skillet. Add 1 ½ tablespoons of the oil and tilt the pan gently in all directions until the oil has coated the surface. When the oil is hot (not to the point of smoking), add the chicken breast slices and stir fry for 2 minutes. Remove the chicken to a bowl.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet. When hot, add the fresh vegetables and stir-fry for about 4 minutes, until the larger pieces are cooked through, but still crunchy. Then add the frozen vegetables and stir-fry for 2-4 minutes (I put the frozen peppers in a colander and ran some cool water over them to remove the “ice” and then towel dried them before I put them in the skillet). Return the chicken to the skillet, add the water and soy sauce (I used low sodium since you get all the flavor and reduced sodium), and stir-fry for an additional 2 minutes. Cover the pan and steam over medium heat for 4 minutes.

You can use chicken broth as a substitute for the water. It is more flavorful and adds dimension. You may need more than 2 tablespoons for water/broth.

Remove the chicken and vegetables with a slotted spoon. Spoon the liquid into small bowls and serve as gravy.

The Chef

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

This is a photo of the White Tiger that is in my living room, like Coco's car, not Meme's. She drives El Diablo Caliente.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Meals and Memories

Lest you think all the meals are a hit (8 and above). We had Lemon Couscous Chicken this week and it only rated a 7.5 so no-go for posting.

This week’s picture is an actual shot right before consumption (it appears there is some doubt that my meals are turning out like the magazine photos—and I was so proud of myself for downloading).

So here’s the modification of The South Beach Diet’s Chicken-Pistachio Salad transformed into …

Chicken Pistachio

½ cup shelled pistachio nuts, finely chopped (this really does need to be done a rough chop will not cut it)

½ + ¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon + 1 pinch freshly ground pepper (okay, to taste. I like more pepper)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

½ cup sliced sweet white onion

Preheat the oven to 375°. Mix the nuts in a medium to large size plate with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Press the chicken into the nuts. Heat the oil in a skillet (1-2 minutes) and cook the coated breasts 2 minutes per side (use a medium hot skillet). Place the breasts in a baking dish and bake for 15 minutes (I sprayed a little canola oil on the pan for quick release).

Increase the heat to medium high and add the sliced onion into the skillet with the “crumbs” and little bit of remaining oil already in the skillet. Cook until the onion is browned about 3 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Dressing (for the accompanying salad)

1 teaspoon grated sweet onion (don’t use a micro-planer—it won’t work)

½ large ripe avocado, pitted and peeled

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)

2 tablespoons water

I served a salad of mixed greens, the other half of the avocado sliced and a few of our “yellow pear” tomatoes. Dress the greens (this means add the salad dressing just to the lettuce and toss) and then place the avocado and tomato on top.

Additionally we had a crusty whole-wheat bread that had been warmed in the oven.

About a 45 minute prep and cook time.

Rating: 8.5, Coco – “this was very good.” We all agreed the salad needed something. After discussion agreed asaigo cheese added to the greens, maybe 3 tablespoons would add the missing punch that was needed. I think using an entire avocado and slicing an additional avocado would have been helpful, too. (The original recipe calls for 1 avocado—go figure.)

There is some dressing left over and it will serve as a sandwich spread for during the week.

Note: we also served olive oil (with herbs) for the bread. Tonight we added some balsamic vinegar—yum. Special was remembering that Andrew had purchased this vinegar in the airport in Madrid hoping to have a small bottle of wine. There might have been 2 bottles of vinegar for me but alas, the opened one minus a swallow was discarded before boarding the plane home. J

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Contender

Well, tonight’s dinner is the leading contender for the overall winner. It was DELICIOUS.

Beef Tenderloin with Mustard and Herbs


  • 1 (2 ½ pound) beef tenderloin, trimmed (ask the butcher s/he will do this)
  • Olive oil (as needed, approximately 2 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard


  1. Prepare grill. You want a HOT grill, 450° or so.
  2. Lightly coat beef with olive oil; sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Place beef on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Reduce heat to medium, about 350°. Grill 30 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145° or until desired degree of doneness, turning to brown on all sides. Let beef stand 10 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle parsley, thyme, and rosemary in an even layer on an 18 x 15–inch sheet of plastic wrap. Brush mustard evenly over beef. Place beef in herb mixture on plastic wrap; roll beef over herbs, pressing gently. Slice beef.

Ravioli with Spinach


1 pound cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen)

2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (heat a skillet to hot, stir nuts quickly for 1 minute or less)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, sliced or minced

2 bunches fresh spinach, thick stems removed (about 8 cups)

kosher salt and black pepper


Cook the ravioli according to the package directions. Drain and divide among bowls.

Heat the oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the spinach, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, tossing, until just wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon the mixture over the ravioli.

And dessert, easy, delicious, sweet ..

Lemonade IcedTea Sorbet


2 cups boiling water

4 regular-sized English Breakfast tea bags

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)

1 cup ice water

Mint sprigs (optional)


1. Combine 2 cups boiling water and tea bags in a large bowl; steep 5 minutes. Discard tea bags. Add sugar to tea mixture, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cool completely. Stir in juice and 1 cup ice water; chill 1 hour.

2. Pour tea mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer; freeze according to manufacturer's instructions. Spoon sorbet into a freezer-safe container. Cover and freeze 1 hour or until firm. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.

Rating: This rated a 9.7. Flavors danced lightly on the tongue. The tenderloin was tender and PERFECTLY seasoned—no one added salt or pepper to their plate. The ravioli dish was garlicky, crunchy (pine nuts) and creamy (cheese in the pasta). This dish could be a main dish with some crumbled bacon or left-over grilled chicken. The sorbet, what can I say. The addition of this 78 calorie dessert was GENIUS. Sweet and tart, light and satisfying. Brilliant

Note: Timing in the preparation can be tricky. Don’t be tempted to cook the ravioli before the meat is cooked. The water can be boiling, but put the pasta in when the meat comes off the grill.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

You’ve Been Holding Out On Us …

Fruit and Walnut-Stuffed Pork Loin


1/2 cup dry red wine

1/4 cup dried sour cherries

1/4 cup chopped dried apricots

1/4 cup chopped dried plums (I used fresh)

1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind

2 (1-ounce) slices French bread

1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 (2 1/2-pound) boneless center-cut pork loin roast, trimmed

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Cooking spray

Parsley sprigs (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 2 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes or until fruit is plump. Drain mixture through a sieve, reserving fruit mixture. Combine fruit mixture, walnuts, shallots, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and rind.

3. Combine 3/4 teaspoon salt, French bread, and next 3 ingredients (through garlic) in a food processor; process until fine crumbs form.

4. Cut pork in half lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, other side; open halves, laying the pork flat. Starting from center, cut each half lengthwise, cutting to, but not through, other side; open halves, laying pork flat. Cover with plastic wrap; pound to an even thickness. Discard plastic wrap. Spread fruit mixture over pork, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Roll up pork, jelly-roll fashion, starting with one long side. Secure with wooden picks. Sprinkle outside of pork evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; brush evenly with mustard. Sprinkle breadcrumb mixture over pork; press gently to adhere. Place pork on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 55 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 155°. Let pork stand 10 minutes. Remove wooden picks. Cut into 16 (1/2-inch-thick) slices. Garnish with parsley sprigs, if desired.

Unlike the above photograph, I served with roasted vegetables (eggplant, summer squash, mushrooms, onion). French bread with olive oil (special spread that includes olives—yum) and a beet, goat cheese spinach salad.

The variety of flavors complimented one another, creating an explosion on the palate (Andrew waxing poetic).

Rating: This is a 9.5. However, it is not a beginner recipe and somewhat time consuming—lots of prep for a week night dinner. There were lots of “hmmm.” “This is delicious.” “If this is what we get when we finish projects we are going to finish a lot more.”

This meal has spurred us to designate categories, beef, chicken, pork, and vegetarian with an overall “grand” prize winner. So right now, this is the pork winner. Too early to tell if it’s the grand champion.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

10 Days

Work at the Mental Health Center begins in 10 days. I am very much looking forward to this work.

My new boss, Kitty deKieffer is a strong, gentle woman with a varied life experience—both work and personal.

I am very much looking forward to getting to know her even the more.

The mission of the Mental Health Center, “In partnership with others, we improve quality of life and reduce the burden of illness by providing comprehensive, community-based mental health services for those with the greatest need” is a purpose I can wrap my heart around.

There is so much to like about this statement. “In partnership with others,” ALL recovery, healing happens in community. It truly does take a village and not just for raising children.

“Improve quality of life and reduce the burden of illness” ... my own life and the lives of so many around me are affected by both mental and physical illness. This statement beautifully encompasses the hope and the weight of the work that seeks improvement, hope.

“Providing comprehensive, community-based … services” there is no one answer, no one way to meet the myriad of need that our community faces. My faith is NOT the answer to the practical problems that illness reveals. BECAUSE of my faith I want to be part of the force that provides the hands, the effort, and the work that creates solutions to problems, both individual and community-based.

“for those with greatest need.” What a beautiful statement. Weak, hurting, smelly, odd, these are adjectives that we spend hours of effort to make sure do NOT describe us. To serve those among us that are unlovely is an effort that requires me to tap into reservoirs that do not originate in myself.

This is going to be a fun job.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Aroma Makes My Mouth Water

This is a beautiful meal, very "company" in presentation.

Sauteed Spinach with Pecans and Goat Cheese
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, halved, and thinly sliced (I used less)
1 1/4 pound baby spinach
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/4 cup soft goat cheese (about 2 ounces), crumbled (I used feta)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened, about 5 minutes. Add spinach; cook, tossing, until spinach has started
to wilt, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter.

Add vinegar to skillet and heat 5 seconds. Drizzle over spinach and onion. Sprinkle with pecans and goat cheese. Gently toss. Serve immediately.

Hummm. This is DELICIOUS.

Unboring chicken -- Lemon and Rosemary Golden Chicken
Grill (or saute in 1 tsp. olive oil) a boneless chicken breast until cooked through, 5 minutes per side; set aside. In the same skillet, combine 2 tsp. olive oil, a small chopped clove garlic, 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary leaves (I used more) and the juice of one lemon. (Use less, it was a smidge too lemony). Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes. Drizzle over chicken. Serve with slices of crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

THIS was a superb meal. Easy -- 45-60 minutes from start to "dinner is ready!" And that includes the chicken being frozen (microwave defrost).

Wine: Stella Italia, Pinot Grigio 2007

RATING: Mark says, "you can cook this again." Andrew rates it an 8.5 (only because there was the too- much-lemon) and I give it a 9.5 -- easy, delicious, aromatic, pretty.

Stellar meal. It's simplicity, complexity and over-lapping flavors, we WILL have this meal again. And again. And again.

And again.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fast Food

This is DELICIOUS. Mark says he has 3 ratings, don’t cook this again, it’s okay and we can have this again.

Poached with capers and chives

¾ cup dry white wine

1 pound sole (or other white fish)fillets, cut into spatula-size pieces

Sea salt and pepper

2 tablespoons capers

2 tablespoons chives

Heat the wine in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the fish, drizzle with the oil, and season with ¼ teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle the capers over the top and cook, covered, until just cooked through, opaque, and beginning to flake, about 4 minutes. Sprinkle with the chives. Divide among individual plates, spooning the wine and caper sauce over the top.

Rating: 9.5

We will have this again.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I went to a birthday party last week. A friend of mine turned one. Yes, she’s a friend of mine, but her parents are the ones that are most familiar with me.

She had the BEST birthday cake. I almost (almost) cannot wait to have another birthday so I can have the same kind.

A few birthday celebrations standout in my mind. Under 10 years old I had a Barbie cake.

My mother and Mamaw made a cake skirt for the doll. I really don’t remember, just saw the pictures.

For my twenty first birthday my dad took me out for my first “legal” drink at the El Presidente restaurant on the corner of Devonshire and Reseda Blvd.

The rest of the birthday was not so memorable—I just don’t remember it (and not because I drank too much). I think you should remember your 21st birthday, friends, partying, being the center of attention, something should stand out. But, alas the memory is shared with my dad. Upon reflection, not so bad I guess.

There was the birthday when I got a romance novel from my children and husband.

Being a book snob I was surprised they thought I would like a book covered with a Fabio impersonator in a bend-her-back embrace with a busty wench, but the things a mother thanks her children for …

Well, the kiddos insisted I look through the book and so I did. The pages were cut out to hold a ring box which held a pearl anniversary ring—a vintage ring I had lovingly admired at a darling little Niwot jewelry store. Mark had told me the ring had been purchased. I remember glaring at him as if to say, “You said the ring was sold.” As if reading my mind he said, “It did sell. I bought it.”

I love that ring, but I think I really, really love the memory of the delight on my children’s faces as they truly surprised me. Even Andrew kept the secret.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tonight's Dinner

Steak with golden zucchini

6 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds strip steak
kosher salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds small zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (parsley, basil)
2 tablespoons bread crumbs

Heat 3 teaspoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the steak with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Cook to desired doneness, 4-5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 20 minutes before slicing. Meanwhile, return the pan to medium heat and heat 2 teaspoons of the oil. Season the zucchini with 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook, cut-side down, covered, until browned and tender, about 6 minutes. Cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces and divide among individual plates. In a small bowl, combine the lemon zest,garlic, herbs, bread crumbs, and the remaining oil. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture over the zucchini and serve with the sliced steak.

Rating: 8 The lemon zest was forgotten. Probably would have warranted a 9 maybe 8.5. But this was quick, easy and delicious.

If you are wondering what's going on with the food posting. It is developing into a weekly post. Andrew, Mark and I are looking for nutritious, delicious meals we can prepare after a long day of work instead of "fast" food. Some are good, some are not. We will only post those 8 or above.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


This year I am growing a pot of basil outside the kitchen. Not really a kitchen garden because it's off the the piano room, but close enough. I step outside to snip the fresh bloom to add to the evening's meal. So here are some favorites:

1 cup sugar
1 cup fresh basil leaves
8 cups lemonade
(use the amount for the proportionate balance)

In a small saucepan, over medium heat, bring the sugar and 1 1/2 cups cold water to a simmer. Cook, without stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly, bout 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add the basil, and let cool to room temperature. Strain the syrup into a resealable container and discard the solids. Pour 2 to 3 teaspoons of the basil syrup into each of 8 ice-filled glassed, then fill with lemonade. Garnish with an additional spring of basil. RATING: 10+ This is a really yummy way to enjoy simple syrup kicked up a couple of notches. It tastes good with iced tea, too. Although I did not like it flavored tea.


2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 cup pine nuts
10 ounces fresh spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups fresh basil leaves

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add the pine nuts and cook until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium and add the spinach, salt, pepper, and 2 tablespoons of water (I used apple cider vinegar for a bit of a punch). Cover and cook, tossing occasionally with tongs, until the spinach wilts, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the basil and toss until it wilts, about 1 minute. Serve immediately. RATING: 7 but only if you use fresh spinach. Frozen (okay I didn't check to see if the fresh was any good and thought I could substitute) was too dry and too chopped. Flavors were GREAT, though. Garlic and pine nuts added the soft crunch, basil the aromatic fragrance.

And for the entree:


1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 large eggs
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1 teaspoon kosher salt (I used sea)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan
4 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 400F (we used the grill so the house would not be so hot). Thinly slice the tenderloin on a diagonal into 8 pieces. Pound the slices to a 1/4-inch thickness. Place the flour on a plate. Place the eggs in a shallow bowl and beat lightly. In a separate bowl, combine the bread crumbs, salt and Parmesan. Working in patches, lightly coat the cutlets first in the flour, then in the egg mixture (allowing any excess to drip off), and finally in the bread crumb mixture. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 of the cutlets. Cook until golden, 1-2 minutes per side. Place the cutlets on a baking sheet. Wipe out the skillet and repeat with the remaining olive oil and cutlets. Transfer to oven and heat until the pork is cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. RATING: 7-8. Andrew thought an 8; I only gave it a 7.The crust is crispy, the meat tender. You will think it is going to be dry and over cooked but it's lightly parm and yummy.

That's the ingredient of the week. All three were quick, easy, 4 on the skill level and left overs will make a delicious pork cutlet sandwich for tomorrow's lunch.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Well, Andrew is home.

You may have noticed he helped me update my blog. Stay tuned for the next update (probably tomorrow--although he said I had to leave it for 6 days for all the poll numbers to come in).


I love flowers. My grandmother taught me about flowers. She grew roses back in the day. Blowing off the aphids on the individual plants.

The flower I remember though, is the moon flower vine.

The large white blossom unfolds in the evening. The dark green heart shaped leaves surround the fragrant flowers. When evening would come, Mamaw (a good Southern name for Grandma) would quietly bring me around the side of the garage to witness this evening ritual of the new life of the intoxicating, luminous flowers. It always seemed she whispered as we gently walked up on the flowers so as not to disturb the tranquility. The next morning when we were hanging the laundry on the line (google it--not everyone, always had dryers) the mass of vining would remain leaving the promise of tonight's fragrance of memories.

Did I say I love flowers? I do. Pincushion,

gladiolus, daisies, lily of the valley,

you name it. I don't' grow my own too much any more so I really appreciate a good bouquet. Some people say it's a frivolous expense, but cut flowers in any room make for a brighter, sweeter environment. Beauty is truth.
(Money is available to anyone who knows the source--without Google).

This last week a good, dear, sweet friend gave me some flowers as a thank you for some help I gave her.
Initially I said something like, "Would you do this for a sister?" Hmmm. Like a thank you needs an explanation. Or somehow close, loving relationships preclude the kindness of "thank you" expressed.

Anyway, the flowers adorned my desk and now my beside table. Because, just because.

Monday, March 2, 2009


I’m in the retelling mode. Now when I talk about Addis I tell the “best” story. This is not good. It means I’m not so connected—it’s more of a memory. I’ll work it. I promise to remember.

The next day of our trip was confusing to me. We travelled to Peter’s drop in center.
The puppet theatre did not set up correctly so that was left for another day. Noah was connecting with the crush of children and his 20 matchbox cars or so were “distributed.” It too was not optimum.

Then we sang with the children and then did a craft. Singing is always fun with children, especially in ET.

Then we proceeded into the classrooms to help with a craft. There were enough supplies. We made bookmarks. This was a little puzzling since I’m pretty sure none of the children own a book. They really enjoyed making the craft though. Kind of reminded me of some of the MOPS crafts I did—fun in the process but no earthly use for the item.

Over and over again I kept pondering why are the people so hopeful? Joyful? The conditions in Addis are not bleak.

The landscape is BEAUTIFUL. But to an American there are not a lot of “things.” The houses are not large. The gardens are utilitarian not English gardens full of blooms. Clothing is simple and there certainly is not the volume of garments that crowd our closets.

Buildings are run down. Nobody is fat. All the “stuff” that glitters to the American eye is missing.

BUT and it’s a big but, the people are full of promise, hope and contentment. They LOVE God and each other. Problems exist but God is bigger than the problems. The men who lead the ministries, Peter, Nega, Ephraim, Yohannes, are trusting God for big things—

things like food for hungry children, soccer jerseys for street boys that need something to do and someone to do it with, books to read to learn of God and all He has created, and the generous giving from people with things, some many unnecessary things.

These men and others like them are gracious, kind, hard-working men of prayer that believe God is who He says He is and He will do what He says He will do, men of faith. Superheros.

Thursday, February 12, 2009


At the end of Wednesday it seemed like a good idea to pick a word to describe the day—a way for me to remember the significant impression of the day.

I shared this with one couple I met, Michelle and Chad from Indiana. She picked the word Freedom for Thursday’s adventures.

We saw children loved, cared for and children making a future. We stopped at a drop in center where the children swarmed us!!!

Not being one who enjoys an abundance of physical touch it was overwhelming.

I fell in love with a little girl with large brown eyes. (Half of Ethiopia, by the way).

She didn’t join in the play with the parachute, preferring a spot on the concrete step. So I joined her. She did not reach for my hand so I took hers and held it for a long time. When they were called to the meal time (lunch, I think). I reluctantly let go of her hand, touched her cheek and kissed her good-bye.

As a group we hung around for awhile longer so I wandered over to the lunch room for a peek inside since the children were singing and tapping as they waited for their food. She was sitting at the end of the table and when she looked at me a moment of recognition flickered across her face. Then when it really was time to say good-bye, I waived and she waived back with a big smile.

Then we headed over to the vocational training site of Win Souls for God

Gizachew Ayka is one of the founding members with an inspiring story of youthful passion to serve God and help the poor and needy of his community, making a profound different in the lives of hundreds just by obeying God.

The final stop of the day was a residential facility for former commercial sex workers.

These beautiful women are living in a large, clean building where they work together with each other raising their children. Yohannes spends his “free” time here providing prayer and counsel to these ladies – he’s a godly man who shares an example of a protecting, kind, honest, non-abusive man.

Hope abounds for these ladies as they re-construct their lives. They prepared coffee for us and showed us their babies.

Like all mamas so proud of their babies. We prayed with them and now continue to pray for them.

Freedom isn’t just another word for nothing else to lose. When you know you are safe, you will have at least one meal a day, you have an opportunity for learning and you can be secure in the love of God for you and yours that’s free.

Addis at night.