Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Clean out dresser drawers - Find a treasure

Once upon a time, I was a rabid Braves fan. 

This was back in the day when they were still playing in the old OLD stadium. 

I was there even in the days when they couldn't win a game for trying. 

I would go with a group of girls two or three times a week and we would sit in the cheap seats. 

But because the games were televised, the security people would come get us and put us next to the dug out in the corporate seats when they weren't being used. 

My dad said he could keep count of how many beers I had during a game 'cause we were right there, front row, TV seats. 

We also got to know some of the players, their wives and partners. 

Today while cleaning out dresser drawers (Marie Kondo would be proud) I ran across this ball. 

It's not one of the stamped signature balls that you can buy, it's one that was hand signed. 

Some of the signatures include Dale Murphy, Phil Niekro, Joe Torre, Bob Gibson, Raphael Ramirez, Brett Butler, Gene Garber, Bob Watson. So cool.

AND I've ended up with some empty drawer space.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019


Because I think recipes are fun to make your own, I never follow one to a "T."

Play around, add what you want - remove what you care to.

Below the "notes" is my basic blueprint for chili.

When I was working at Georgia Tech, our office was invited by the GT Physical Plant to participate in their chili cook-off.

We won first prize.

And that was the day I met Donald Barley.

He mistakenly thought I could cook, but hung around even after finding out that my cooking skills are fairly limited.

But this chili is pretty darn good - thanks to our main chef, Georgia Tech Campus Architect, David Savini.

He'd be proud, I think, that this recipe is still around.

(Notes #1 - The original recipe had beans, but I do not like beans in my chili and neither does Donald, so you won't find them in this recipe, but feel free to add them back in.  Note #2 - This recipe can easily be halved.  Note #3 - Play with the recipe and change it around to your heart's content, I've never been one to believe a recipe needed to be carved in stone).

Bon Appétit!!!

The Day I Met Don Barley Chili


3 ½ lbs. Boneless chuck roast cut into 1/4" cubes
4 lbs. Ground chuck
3 lbs. Extra lean pork loin cut into 1/4" cubes
5 medium sized onions (chopped)
1 medium sized bell pepper (chopped)
6 cloves of garlic (minced)
1 Tbsp. Sugar
2 Tbsps. Salt
2 tsps. Ground pepper
4 dried chili peppers (chopped fine)
2 Tbsps. Cayenne
1/3 cup chili powder
2 Tbsps. Paprika
3 Tbsps. Ground cumin
2 Tbsps. Oregano
1 Tbsp. Mole paste or powder
little Worchester sauce
1 10 ½ oz. Can beef broth
1 12 oz. Can of beer
1 stick of cinnamon
Tomato sauce

Sauté each meat separately in a little butter flavored crisco or oil.  Throw away the liquid and store meats overnight in the refrigerator. 

Sauté onions and bell peppers in butter.

Place everything in a large pot, add tomato sauce to get your chili to the consistency you want.

Bring to a gentle boil, turn down to simmer.  Simmer for at least a couple hours before serving. (OR in your crockpot - that's what I do now).

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Mary Oliver

My heart is broken.

I claim no personal connection with Mary Oliver.

I was never lucky enough to meet her, or even glimpse her from afar.


I can, like many others, attest to a deep connection to her work.

I can, like many others, rejoice in the fact of her words.

I can browse through Facebook posts and catch snippets and phrases from her work.

Snippets that resonate.  And urge me to find the full piece from which it came.  

And then allow me to rejoice, wallow and indulge myself in her words yet again.

I can walk around our house and reach up to a shelf to pull out a book of her work -- poems, essays, prose poems -- and smile that it's there.  

She has helped ease me through some tough times.

She has soothed me into sleep.

She's been there simply for the joy of reading words written in such a way as to cause me to catch my breath and read again - oftentimes aloud.

Mary Oliver could not help but know she was admired, loved, and revered by many.

I wish she had known that I was one of them.

Knowing the possibility of ever catching that brief glimpse has now passed makes me enormously sad.

I know I'll never be able to tell her how much I truly loved her work.

But I celebrate her life by gathering her books, placing them on my nightstand, and knowing she will be here.  

Here on my nightstand, and here in my heart.

Monday, January 14, 2019

An Icy Day at Home

is beautiful.

Especially when observed safely from the back door.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Finding that one special gem

I had an accumulation of books that had ended up in a huge pile in our sunroom.

Usually I am pretty good about going through piles of books I bring home from Malice, or Bouchercon, or a full day at 2nd and Charles. 

But for some reason (laziness, truth be told), I'd been pretty slack about this the past few years. 

Resulting in a pile that intimidated me. 

Motivation finally hit and I've spent a lot of time sorting the pile, deciding what would stay, what would go, finding some gems along with some "why do I have this?"

That woman who thinks you shouldn't own more than 30 books would have vapors and quite possibly pass out if she were to walk into this house, bless her heart.

This is just one corner of one room of a home full of books.

I have gotten rid of many of "that pile" of books, but have also kept many (way more than 30).

Here's the last pile to be sorted (those shelves will just have to happen at another time!)

BUT - I found one book I do not remember buying or winning or being gifted with and I must say - it most definitely "sparked joy." 

I'm reading it now and hoping it never ends. 

Alice Steinbach's "Without Reservations."

I am completed captivated by Ms. Steinbach's stories and her voice. 

Rather than being sad not to have discovered her sooner, I'm celebrating the fact of discovering her. 

She was a Pulitzer Prize winning self-taught journalist and columnist at The Baltimore Sun who interviewed some amazing people before taking a sabbatical to travel and write about her experiences and adventures. 

The sabbatical became, I believe, a full time adventure of writing, traveling, teaching and lecturing. 

What a lovely, fun loving, curious, observant, honest, gutsy, storyteller extraordinaire woman Alice Steinbach was.

One of those women we all would love to have in our lives.  

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Taking Down the Tree

“Give me some light!” cries Hamlet’s
uncle midway through the murder
of Gonzago. “Light! Light!” cry scattering
courtesans. Here, as in Denmark,
it’s dark at four, and even the moon
shines with only half a heart.
The ornaments go down into the box:
the silver spaniel, My Darling
on its collar, from Mother’s childhood
in Illinois; the balsa jumping jack
my brother and I fought over,
pulling limb from limb. Mother
drew it together again with thread
while I watched, feeling depraved
at the age of ten.
With something more than caution
I handle them, and the lights, with their
tin star-shaped reflectors, brought along
from house to house, their pasteboard
toy suitcase increasingly flimsy.
Tick, tick, the desiccated needles drop.
By suppertime all that remains is the scent
of balsam fir. If it’s darkness
we’re having, let it be extravagant.

     by Jane Kenyon

our little tree in our little sunroom
photo by "me"