Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

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Reading and Writing and the Occasional Recipe

Finding comfort in the words of others

Thursday, June 7, 2018


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I have loved writing a blog….and I may again. But it’s been a long time with a lot of beginnings and no finished piece. I think you understand….about the world moving head-spinningly fast and, with it, our understanding of our new reality.

I find it increasingly painful to see our country move each day farther from what I have thought of as its best vision of itself. I’ve been trying to find a way to live now without feeling constant despair. I am grateful for the life I have and the people I love who are part of it., and I would like to stay in touch with those who have read my blog in the past and responded to it. So until I can bear to think my own thoughts here again, I offer the thoughts of others that give me comfort, beginning here with a poem by W. S. Merwin.


To Paula In Late Spring

Let me imagine that we will come again
when we want to and it will be spring
we will be no older than we ever were
the worn griefs will have eased like the early cloud
through which the morning slowly comes to itself
and the ancient defenses against the dead
will be done with and left  to the dead at last
the light will be as it is now in the garden
that we have made here these years together
of our long evenings and astonishment


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In the eye of the beholder

Monday, July 10, 2017


A few years ago, while walking through the Radcliffe Quad, Dr. D. and I saw several piles of what seemed to be building or gardening supplies—earth and various kinds, sizes, and colors of gravel. We assumed a modest project was about to begin. But then we noticed a sign with the title and creator of what, it turned out, was an art installation.

It became a joke. We started noticing “art installations” everywhere—a quarry, a nursery, a building site. Who knew there was so much public art to be seen?

But then the joke turned a little. Why not an art installation? With all the hurrying and busyness, the thousand daily annoyances, worries, to-do’s, and random distractions, why not pause and take a different look at things we usually don’t give a second glance? A pile of rocks, their shapes and random as a John Cage composition. A heap of dirt or a stack of bricks on their way to becoming a garden or a walkway. On their way to being transformed by effort and imagination.

I’ve seen art installations in parks that seem to tell us something like this—a field of feathers, a tiny doorway at the base of a tree, a group of sculpted ants picnicking beside the Muddy River—pointing to a new, unexpected way to see what surrounds us. Prodding g us not to let our assumptions or our busyness dull us to the possibility that there could be wonders to see around us.

And this, too--isn’t this what we do with all our heaped-up moments—try to shape them into something worth noticing?

Thank you, Radcliffe Quad and that art installation.




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The Occasional Recipe: 4th of July Lemonade Syrup

Thursday, June 29, 2017

 I’ve definitely given this recipe before, but it seems the right moment to do it again.
As they say, when life—or in this case the political process—gives you lemons, well, you know.

Here we are, celebrating a moment that we look back on with a certain amount of reverence along with a large dose of 2017 reality.  We see clearly the compromises the FFs made as they stated boldly that all men are created equal, though we know they didn't really mean all men any more than they meant those who held up the other half of the sky. A decent respect to the opinions of the current population requires that we balance gratitude for the wisdom our founders had with understanding of their flaws and of the flawed compromises they made.

For several years I’ve had the pleasure of being in a class at Temple Israel where we look at our ancient texts and create new midrash, or stories behind the stories, stories that tell other ways it might have happened. Always our teacher, Rabbi Elaine Zecher, tells us to start with two things—context and world view. That’s what we need to do with our Declaration of Independence, too, if we are to try to realize its most idealistic objectives.

Right now I am finding idealism hard to come by. I am dismayed and disheartened by what this country, or at least its leadership, is at this exact moment. But I’m going to try to make lemonade, and I offer you this recipe.

Lemonade Syrup

Combine and boil for 5 minutes:
            2 c. sugar
            1 c. water
            the rind of two lemons
                        I’ve always cut the rind into thin strips which I leave in the syrup, but
                        I’m also thinking zesting the rind would work, too, so I’m going to try that
                        next time.

Cool and add the juice of 6 lemons. Strain (optional) and refrigerate.

This recipe makes a pint of syrup. When you’re ready for a glass of lemonade, just add 2 Tbsp. of syrup to a glass of water.

Happy 4th of July. Gulp.

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