Here Is What I Know Today, September 24,2017

I have returned to writing on my blog. I enjoy both my siblings' daily postings, so I am jumping in to join them. You can find their daily writings here and here. I have done much thinking and writing in the past months, but haven't put any of it here.

Here Is What I Know Today, September 24, 2017

Getting a new puppy during a time full of grief and stress was a good idea for me. We said good-bye to our Springer Spaniel Annie in July. Mom was struggling with congestive heart failure and complications that come with it. Hard decisions were required. As I was often surrounded by a fog of grief and depression, Riley, our new Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier brought sunshine into the household. He gave his herding brother Tucker a job, a big job!vWhen Mom died, he provided love.

Music transports me to other times and other places. I am putting together a play list for my mother's memorial service and in listening to songs I am remembering the memories those songs  evoke. Here is one of those songs, remembering how much Mom and I loved watching this film together.

As a form of written word, poetry has often provided me a way to understand the world. Here is a favorite I often return to. I have been surrounded by kindness during my mother's illness and death. I will never forget all that kindness.


Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. 
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
     purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye
from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems 

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,


Annie: Good-bye Hello

In the last few weeks our dear, loyal Springer Spaniel Annie has not been herself. The vet ran tests, prescribed meds, and gave us the best diagnosis he could. He felt Annie was in the early stages of liver disease. We had gone through this painful diagnosis with Shelby in the early summer. We were devastated.

We took her home and coddled her, loved on her, and prayed. One day last week she collapsed and couldn't walk. She wouldn't eat and was lethargic. Could this be the end? We carried her in to the vet and he wasn't sure all of it was liver disease. We took her home, changed her diet, and prayed even more.

On Tuesday night we cried and shared memories of Annie thinking she would need to be put to sleep on Wednesday. We didn't want her to suffer. It was a tough decision.

She was not ready to say good-bye. She got up on her own and ate. She came begging for people food in the kitchen. She headed out the doggie door and went outside. Her tail wiggled, she was Annie again.

It may be short-lived, but Hello Annie. What a joy to spend more time with her. Tucker was pleased also.


Sibling Photo Assignment #11: A Study of Black and White: Annie and Tucker

 I gave the assignment once again this week.
What makes effective black and white photos? Is it the subject, the light, the composition? Take a series of photos in black and white, explaining why they are effective. I will post my siblings' posts when they are completed.

The coloring of my dogs and where I took these pictures just seemed right to being edited to black and white. In this case it is the subject. It is effective doing black and white images with dogs because it causes the viewer to focus more on the expressions or actions of the dogs. See what you think.


Sibling Photo Assignment #10: Road Trip

I gave the assignment again this week. . Road Trip: Get in your car before the end of Sunday and take pictures where the road takes you. Write about why you headed there to take pictures. Have fun. Brother Bill took picture in Manhattan. New York. You can find his photo assignment  here. Carol will soon post hers.

The road took us to Priest Lake. I had planned a photography workshop at Priest Lake in October. Not enough people registered, so I decided to take the money I had saved and do my own private photography workshop on Priest Lake My husband and dogs joined me in a relaxing road trip. Join us in a photo series of our trip.


Sibling Assignment #185: Reading the Cookbooks

Brother Bill gave the sibling assignment this week: "Write about what's been occupying your mind in the world of food preparation. Have you been trying anything new and different? Are there recipes or cook books that have excited your imagination? Utensils? Appliances? I think you get the point -- go about this assignment however you'd like -- but write about your life in the kitchen, going back as far as you'd like."

I have collected recipes since I was in college. I was always drawn to cookbook collections that members of an organization or church or community put together. The contributors chose their favorite recipes and there was always a favorite pot luck salad to try or a new dip which sounded perfect for a Super Bowl party. I have also cut recipes out of magazines, wrote them on note cards, and shared them with family and friends. I do find I don't use as many of these Velveeta Cheese, cream soup, shoestring potato recipes now.

Then there are favorite online recipe sites and Pinterest.  Why do I need anything else? Every recipe I would ever want to prepare could be found online. I am old school. I like the paper copy of most recipes. I print them. Mine are organized into notebooks. I scribble notes on them. I make changes in ingredients. I spill food on them.  Because I love food photography, I also love to visit a group of favorite food blogs. These sites are go- to places when looking for specific recipes or information on preparation. I learn from other cooks what worked, what they tweaked, what they would change next time. I also get to study the gorgeous food photos. 

Nearest and dearest to my heart are my cookbooks.  I have learned about food preparation and how to put a recipe together by reading and rereading my cookbooks. Sometimes when I am making a dish for a family dinner I find five or more different versions of the same recipe, then study what was added or combined to make each recipe unique. I have also gained knowledge with the tips and advice cookbook authors add.

What has been occupying my mind in the world of food preparation? Cookbooks. I have been reading each of them more like a memoir than a book of instructions. I have gained new and vital information about food by reading the authors' stories and studying how a recipe builds flavors and how the science of measuring ingredients is the secret to successful baking.

One of these cookbooks is My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl. When she learned the magazine Gourmet which she served as editor in chief was ending publication, she rediscovered cooking, the joy of textures,the pleasures of fresh food from the market, and quiet, simple meals at home. She also shared a delicious collection of recipes that were not daunting to prepare. They just embrace the goodness of food. I reach for this cookbook often these days. I want to try her "Gingered Applesauce Cake Glazed with Caramel" with apples that were just picked. Enjoy more with Ruth here

I have been following Deb Perelman's blog "The Smitten Kitchen" for awhile. I decided to get her cookbook recently by the same name. One reason is because she manages to do amazing things in a tiny kitchen. I had to read her tips since I have now acquired a tiny kitchen. Her stories are a family history, as she shares recipes relatives has passed on and new, exciting ones using fresh food and herbs. One of my favorite parts of her book is the section "Build Your Own Smitten Kitchen". She gives sound advice that helps cooks see what they really need in their kitchens to cook effectively. Her food photography is spectacular. You can find her blog here

Melissa Clark's In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite is the third cookbook I am loving. It is organized in chapters that make sense to me like "Things With Cheese" and "My Mother's Sandwich Theory of Life". Her recipes give a background story, things she has learned by making and remaking the recipe and variations. She presents so many  delicious things to do with chicken I haven't even began to try them all. Her book is user friendly and her stories draw you back again and again. You can find her "Recipe Box" from her food column here.

This may have to be another part 1 with more coming. I have only touched the surface of my cookbook reading.


Sibling Photo Assignment #9: Comfort

 I gave the latest Sibling Photo Assignment: "Create a series of photos that depict a sense of comfort.
Brother Bill's is here. I will link sister Carol's soon.My photos only need a few words. Here is what brings me comfort.


fuzzy blanket

strong coffee in a favorite mug

autumn leaves


scented candles



Sibling Photo Assignment #8: Looking Up Through the Trees

Last week we looked down . This week my assignment was this: We will be looking up this week. Create a series of photos by finding art while looking up.
You can find sister Carol's stunning view of rain by looking up here. Brother Bill will be posting soon.

I have a fascination with autumn trees. No surprise since it is my favorite season and I am surrounded by spectacular autumn color in Kellogg. Today I looked up, out, over, and down but I will only share my favorites here when I was looking up.

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