Friday, December 24, 2010


--pictures at Old Colorado City (used to be with Santa)
before the lunar eclipse
 relaxing few hours with the four girls at Wisdom Tea of our newer, but favorite traditions.
an evening of cookie decorating
 and reading by the fire

Wishing all of our friends peace and joy this season!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

blessing and time

Because rituals remind, the experience of time during the holidays can be bittersweet for us. Maybe, because of what is lost, we have to "fight through," pretending to enjoy for the sake of those we love. 
As O'Donohue writes, the work of day-to-day living is precarious:  there can be danger or darkness anywhere. Habitual time can turn in a second, and suddenly some unforeseen suffering is taking up tenancy in one's life... 
Blessing, he says, calls the potentiality of the future into the present moment and into the loss of the past:
To live like this is to experience time as a constant invitation to growth--to become more than you have been, to transform loss into presence, and to allow what is false to fall away. At the gates of time, blessing waits to usher toward us the grace we need....A blessing awakens future wholeness...a blessing 'forebrightens' the way. When a blessing is invoked, a window opens in eternal time.

One of my favorite poems by Wendy Cope evokes this achingly beautiful image of forebrightening, one I hope is present for all of us this year.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


"We're going to start with a headstand." I felt my shoulders tense and evidently every one else in the room felt tense too. The instructor commented on the sudden heaviness and fear in the room. So she told us to breathe and notice where that tension was settling. To detach and look at it. I immediately started thinking about the vertigo I was feeling in my life, like my world was upside down. How do I retain any sense of balance, of vision, when it just feels like I'm about to fall?

John O'Donohue writes, in his book of Celtic blessing, about how we encounter those tilted spaces between and within us: 
We never see the script of our lives; nor do we know what is coming toward us, or why our life takes on this particular shape or sequence. [But] a blessing...opens a different door in human encounter. One enters into the forecourt of the soul...Our longing for the eternal kindles our imagination to bless. Regardless of how we configure the eternal, the human heart continues to dream of a state of wholeness, a place where everything comes together, where loss will be made good, where blindness will transform into vision, where damage will be made whole, where the clenched question will open in the house of surprise, where the travails of life's journey will enjoy a homecoming. To invoke a blessing is to call some of that wholeness upon a person now....When you bless another, you first gather yourself; you reach below your surface mind and personality, down to the deeper source within you--namely, the soul. Blessing is from soul to soul.

Perhaps the way out of fear is through blessing, giving and receiving it. If you've ever tried a headstand you know that it helps to cultivate a strong inner core as well as to focus on something other, outside yourself. And the result just might be balance, even when, especially when, all around appears upside down.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


     Jan Richardson, over at The Advent Door, writes about the first readings (Matthew 24) of Advent:
It can be tempting to recoil from the imagery...: Christ as burglar, coworkers and companions left bereft, the anxiety of not knowing when or how the Word who became flesh for us will come again. Yet the season of Advent challenges us to resist recoiling and instead to press into the insecurity and unsettledness of this passage—and of our lives. Advent beckons us beyond the certainties that may not serve us—those sureties we have relied on that may have no substance to them after all. Advent is a season to look at what we have fashioned our lives around—beliefs, habits, convictions, prejudices—and to see whether these leave any room for the Christ who is so fond of slipping into our lives in guises we may not readily recognize.
     What an odd image. What an uncomfortable picture.  Isn't advent supposed to be about hope? about  joy and peace on earth? Yet the picture we get here, where advent begins, is one of pain, of freedom and salvation coming in disguise, more than that, in ways that we would not choose, that we may not recognize.
     And what do we do with it? I know my tendency is to hide in business, in taking care of others. Because it's scary to see Christ as a thief...and yet that is what he calls himself in this reading. And that's what he feels like sometimes. Have you ever felt like the one left in the field or left grinding the meal? Alone and with all the work?  Have you asked where is the Christ for that person? Where is freedom? Richardson says it's in the seeing, in being awake to uncertainties, to the unexpected. Perhaps it's in letting go of the expected.
     Read the rest of her poignant, yet encouraging writing here.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


We are not huge cranberry sauce fans around here, but discovered an amazing recipe this year. If you use cranberries for Christmas are two delicious recipes:


Cranberry Sauce:      
1/2 cup  agave nectar
1 cup orange juice
1 cinnamon stick
12 oz. fresh cranberries

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix agave nectar and orange juice. Add the cinnamon stick. Stir in the cranberries, reduce heat to low and cover pan. Simmer until they start to pop (about 8-10 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool for about 5 minutes. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Transfer to bowl and remove cinnamon stick. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Christmas Cobbler (with pear and cranberries)
1/4-1/3 cup Agave nectar
1/3 cup sugar
1 T. cornstarch
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2 medium pears, unpeeled and sliced
3/4 cup flour 
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 cup uncooked oatmeal
1 egg, slightly beaten

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray 9 inch square or round baking pan. In medium saucepan, combine first 3 ingredients. Stir in cranberries. Heat to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes or until cranberries pop open. Stir in pears. Pour into baking pan. Combine flour and 1/2 cup sugar. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in oats; mix well. Add egg, mixing until just moistened. Crumble evenly over fruit. Bake 30-35 minutes until top is golden brown. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream (we devoured this!).

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

aesthetic moments

The last few weeks have been a blur. So glad for some space to breathe again. This past weekend I finished Comprehensive Exams for my Masters--just have oral defense and a couple of elective credits left (my sister calls it the never-ending Masters!).

Our family is all together for Thanksgiving for the first time in a long time. I am thankful to crawl out of the philosophical cave I've been in to breathe, to cook, to laugh, to spend time loving with family and friends.

One of the authors I've been reading writes of the "aesthetic moment," those timeless, ephemeral instances when true connection occurs, when because of, rather than in spite of, all our differences we see  the Other and respect and create something new and beautiful. My wish for all of us  during this often stressful time of year is a season enchanted by aesthetic moments.

Friday, November 5, 2010

playing for change

I love this idea!! Have you seen?

(thanks to experimental theology for the introduction.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Defending Halloween

" night a year the world seems to become re-enchanted. Halloween night feels different. That night is spooky and menacing. For one night a year we go back in time and become medieval again. That's what makes Halloween so interesting. It's the last vestige of the Dark Ages. Smack in the middle of our disenchanted modernity." --Richard Beck

This past week, Richard Beck has written a series of posts on the healthy aspects (candy aside!) of Halloween:

It’s October. And that means I face the yearly question from students: “How should Christians respond to Halloween?” There’s an interesting conversation to be had about Halloween. A place to explore the intersection of faith and culture. To add my voice to that conversation I’d like to offer some psychological observations in defense of Halloween.

Psychologically, I think Halloween performs two important functions. First, Halloween allows us to collectively process our eventual death and mortality. The graveyards, corpses, blood, skeletons, and coffins of Halloween allow us, on a yearly basis, to confront our physicality and work through our largely repressed fear of death. In this, Halloween serves an important existential function. Second, Halloween allows us to work through our fears of the uncanny, the things that go bump in the night. This is the second major theme of Halloween, which manifests itself in Halloween’s evening and monster motifs, the bats, owls, ghosts and goblins. The world is a scary place at times, a strange and mysterious place, and we tend to fill its dark corners with “monsters.”

Read the series here. And while you're there, check out his fascinating series on The Theology of Monsters (one of my favorites).

Our family's traditions: carving pumpkins, eating popcorn and drinking cider, and roasting pumpkin seeds.

     Jacque and Pierre

 Jack doing the popcorn on the nose trick

However you celebrate this time of year, I hope you enjoy time with family and friends!

Friday, October 22, 2010

at last

 rainy day.

fireplace day. studying and reading day. 
baking day.

Easy Banana Quinoa Muffins
3/4 cup Quinoa flour
3/4 cup Quinoa flakes
3 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
3-4 T. honey
3 eggs
3 ripe, mashed bananas
Mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients in separate bowls. Add wet to dry until just moistened. Pour batter into muffin tins till half full. Bake 400 for 15-20 minutes. Makes 1 dozen.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

moments of grace

This "betwixt and between" season has always been a favorite of our family. Like Turner's "liminal moment," fall is the boundary season. It both reminds and anticipates. This last week some of us enjoyed a break from the busyness. Time with family, time with friends, time in nature. It was lovely...

The birthday girl below about 13 years ago (at The Happy Apple Farm)
The youngest turns 14!
celebrating in Denver
dad and oldest daughter--in her typical pose :-)
she's the girl amid the trees below

beautiful tea with good friends (pumpkin bars, scones, yummy grilled chicken salad, English tea)

our backyard this morning
perfect day for Farm and Art Market at The Margarita
and colorful purchases

Sunday, October 10, 2010

outside margarita

The first set of pictures are up from our night at The Margarita. You can view them on Lydia's blog or here, to see more beautiful shots.

Friday, October 8, 2010

the margarita and gezelligheid

 One of my daughters and I spent a beautiful evening recently at The Margarita at Pine Creek thanks to the generosity of a good friend.  She was playing harpsichord with a classical guitarist that evening, so we sat as her guests at the musician's table. The food was outstanding, the atmosphere magical, the music lovely. I especially enjoyed the conversation with my friend, my daughter, and new friends, the guitarist and his wife. The talk ranged from Ravel to the anthropic principle, from Liszt to free will and determinism (the guitarist happens to be a physicist and "armchair" philosopher). It was one of those unexpected perfect evenings, when everything fits....warm companionship, the intimate atmosphere, the music, the food and wine, the weather (a crisp, fall evening). Beauty and community...a definite sense of gezelligheid. My daughter captured the evening well--hope to link her pictures when she posts.

Friday, October 1, 2010


We've had such a fast paced week around here, from the oldest to the youngest...late nights and early mornings for all of us. Combine that with the unseasonably warm, dry weather and a prolonged fall allergy season and I awake too early (again) feeling fairly ragged. After a morning of  "catch up" errands, the hammock and warm weather beckon.  The house and neighborhood are quiet. Who knows when the hammock opportunity will come around again? It could be months...It's been too long and too busy, and I've been reading Thoreau with my American Lit. students. So I give in (despite all the grading and the lesson planning and the research writing that needs to be done...not to mention the cleaning and laundry!). Note to self--Friday is the perfect hammock day.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

grilled butternut squash

Fall was definitely in the air this morning after a rather long, Indian summer. Cool temperatures, strikingly blue skies, the perfect morning for a hike with my daughter at Ute Valley Park, just around the corner from our house.
And a perfect day for grilling. It gave me a chance to experiment with a recipe from a new friend who cooks exclusively vegetarian. Grilled butternut squash, with peppers and onions, topped with feta cheese and almonds and served on fresh spinach leaves.

1 butternut squash, peeled
1/2 red pepper,
1/2 orange pepper,
1 small yellow onion
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
 sea salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup nuts (you might use walnuts or pistachios instead of almonds)
6 oz. fresh spinache leaves
Slice the squash into 1/4" rounds, scooping out any seeds with a spoon. Place in a bowl with 1 T. olive oil and toss with salt and pepper. Slice peppers and onions lengthwise (any combination of vegetables might be used: e.g. zucchini and eggplant).  Toss in a large bowl with 1 T. olive oil and minced garlic and season with salt and pepper. Grill the squash on a medium hot grill. I use a vegetable grilling pan, but you could place the squash directly on the grill racks. Sear about 3-5 minutes per side. Place the squash on a plate and grill the peppers and onion/stir fry if you have the vegetable grill pan a few minutes till hot yet still crunchy. Add the squash briefly to heat.  (All the vegetables might be stir fried in a skillet on a stove top too).

Place the spinach leaves on a large serving platter, and add the vegetables, feta cheese, and chopped nuts. Perfect colors for a beautiful fall day!

Here's another gluten free dish I prepared last week.  The pizza dough was adapted from gluten free day, a lovely blog full of delicious recipes.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

best of times...

I love having my daughters and son(in-law) so close by. I love that they love hanging out together. Though I missed their apple picking outing this year, my youngest captured these lovely pictures.


Then she made this yummy pie...

and the oldest made this amazing strawberry rhubarb, her specialty. It's been pie heaven around here lately! (see her fun post of their pie making adventures)

and finally a Banana Walnut Quinoa Bread --my launch into gluten free baking.

Combine dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl: 
1 1/4 cup Quinoa flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda 
1 t. cinnamon
 pinch of nutmeg,
 pinch of salt 
Combine wet ingredients in another bowl:
2-3 mashed ripe bananas
2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup raw honey
Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just moistened. Fold in:
1/2 - 3/4 cup chopped walnuts 

Spray loaf pan with Organic Canola and bake at 400 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes. Enjoy warm from the oven...the quinoa adds a sweet, nutty flavor to the bread.