This is what happens

Depression Era FamilyThis is what happens when you throw your lot in with a madman. This is what happens when you give yourself away to an idea that is not ready to be born, barely formed enough to be recognizable as a coherent thought. This is what happens when you’re lying on the ground in a dirty dress, with your hair falling in your face and your breath knocked out of you so that you’re gasping.

Gasping. And grasping. Grasping at the straws of belief. The belief that you thought would give you a foundation and a shelter from the storm. This is what happens… This is what happens when you put all your eggs in one basket, when you decide on a truth. This is what happens when the truth turns into nothing more substantial that a burned out building.

Building. Building what you thought was a dream world, but it turns into a nightmare. A nightmare that you wake from, screaming and panting. This is what happens when the nightmare is real and you don’t know what to do or where to go anymore. This is what happens when truth turns into a lie and all you want to do is lie.

Lie. Everything was a lie. This is what happens when you’re afraid to admit to yourself that you were wrong again. This is what happens when you allow yourself to be duped. This is what happens when he leaves in the night with the car and the rent money and you’re stuck with unpaid utilities and five hungry kids and nothing to eat in the house but half a summer sausage and a bottle of Jack Daniels. This is what happened when you try.

Try. But fail.


Amity and SorrowI wrote this after finishing another chapter in a fabulous book, Amity & Sorrow (by Peggy Riley, published by Little, Brown & Co., 2013). I was inspired by the book, and this is not a direct reflection of the plot, though it has similarities. It just up and flowed out, and I couldn’t stop writing. I wish all writing was this easy.

Five Favorites: Part Deux

Five Favorites Moxie Wife Joining up with some other ladies to exchange a diet of delights as we share the five favorite things that’ve recently caught our attention. Low key fun all around, and a great way to discover some interesting things.

1. Aussi Instant Freeze Spray

Aussi Instant Freeze Hairspray

My go-to hair spray–this stuff is amazing. They call it Instant Freeze, and they’re not kidding.
I really think it could suspend me off the ground. Just sayin’…

2. Knitting Socks

New socks for Sophia 001

I knit. All the time. I carry knitting in my purse. Socks are the most useful things, and they fit. Easily.
I made these for my daughter last year.

3. Papal Conclave

Papal Conclave

The waiting is the hardest part.

3. Rolling Stone Magazine

Rolling Stone Johnny Depp Cover

People sometimes ask me how I manage to stay abreast of pop culture without watching television. This is it.
Bonus picture of Johnny Depp!

4. Brocante Home

Brocante Home header

Cute and oh-so-very-British! Housekeeping superstars, unite!
Charming vintage pictures and tips, all served up by a lovely lady, Alison.

5. Laura Ingalls Wilder

Laura Ingalls Wilder

I saw the very first episodes of Little House on the Prairie on television, and then I found the books. Even better!
(Believe me, the TV series may be interesting, but it’s not for aficionados)
Always inspiring, never objectionable.

There and Back Again, Sort Of

From inside on of the hobbit holes, on locatio...

From inside on of the hobbit holes, on location at the Hobbiton set, as used in the Lord of the Rings films. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mixed emotions would be one way to describe it. Ambivalence would be another.

Yes, we’re going to see Peter Jackson’s rendition of The Hobbit, and I’m a little nervous. No, nervous isn’t really the right word. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I do really want to see the movie, but I’m expecting to be disappointed. Believe me when I say that, having read The Hobbit, I really think there’s no way Peter Jackson can do justice to is, given his reputation. That’s not good. At the same time, this movie (like his previous trilogy covering The Lord of the Rings) will certainly expose more people to J.R.R. Tolkien. That is good. Anything that gets people reading is good.

In a way, what we’re doing is interestingly evocative of The (real) Hobbit. Bilbo was pretty nervous about starting on his journey, and so am I.

Around and About

Great food and atmosphere.Despite a brisk wind and a temp of 23° (-5° C), Paul, Lindsay and I walked the six and a half blocks to the excellent Milwaukee institution Beans and Barley this morning for lunch. Excellent Pesto Lasagna for me, Paul got one of their legendary It's a great store!burritos and Lindsay had the egg salad with sprouts. Excellent  fortification for braving the wintry walk back, though we did stop at Whole Foods for some staples, since I decided I wanted to make bread this afternoon, a decision that seems to always be seconded, no matter where I am.

Reversible Knitting by Lynn BarrOnce I put the bread in the bowl for the first rising, and knowing it would take at least two hours, given the temperature of his (soon-to-be our?) kitchen, Paul and I decided to walk to Boswell Book Company (yes, another half mile each way—we’re no wimps!) to check out the selection for some holiday gifts. They’re not late, because I don’t give gifts until Epiphany anyway.Kilvarock Kilt Hose

I was fortunate enough to receive (a big thank-you to Paul) a book I’d had my eye on for a while. Reversible Knitting by Lynn Barr. I wonder what I’ll make first. Well, the first thing to finish is the kilt hose I’m making for Paul. Such are the labors of love.

The Weekly Yumster: 30 December 2011

Milwaukee 014Reporting from Milwaukee this week, we found ourselves at the amazingly wonderful and well-nigh irresistible Peter Sciortino Italian Bakery. They haven’t changed a bit since I was last there, over ten years ago. Thank God, because if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.Milwaukee 011

Sciortino’s carries the full complement of Italian baked goods, from delicate cookies and hearty yeast breads, to luscious cannoli. Everything is super, and the place looks and smells delicious. I got a dozen cookies and figured that would be more Milwaukee 012than enough to be satisfactory.

What I don’t remember from the last time I was here was a display of gelato—a dozen delectable flavors in all. Sooooo hard to decide… Peach mango won the Milwaukee 013day—though any would have been excellent.

Next we stopped at Glorioso’s Italian Market. Though we only needed butter and eggs, it was SO HARD not to walk down each and every aisle, so varied an intriguing was the selection. However, lest we come home with pasta in unpronounceable shapes, and sauces of indeterminate usage, not to mention pocketbooks of flaccid emptiness, we quickly left. I’ll have to make a list first, next time.

Stuff Catholics Like: Love Wins (Part I)

If you haven’t already figured it out by some of my earlier blog entries, I’m a Catholic. Depending on which school of thought you fall in, that usually (but not necessarily) makes me one of the following:

Love Wins by Rob BellGiven these possibilities, my review of Rob Bell’s book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived will probably just serve to cement your point of view. In my experience, most people prefer options that reinforce their currently held opinion, regardless of what it is.

When I first ran across this book at the store, my only thought was, “Hey! I didn’t know he’d written another book. Cool!” So I bought it and read it over the course of a couple days. (It’s not a hard book to read, and I could’ve finished it in one sitting, but I was working on another book at the time, which is all too common for me.) I found it well-reasoned, thought provoking, and ultimately, exciting! One of the things I like most about Bell is his willingness to admit that while he might not have all the answers, he’s not afraid to ask the questions.

So imagine my surprise when I posted a brief entry last night mentioning it, and found that there were no less than approximately fifteen thousand separate articles I could’ve used as “Related Articles” that reference this book and the astonishingly strong reactions it’s provoking among some members of the Christian community.

I’ve decided not to reference most of these strong-minded articles. One, because they’re really easy to find on the Internet. Two, because all the ones I’ve read so far completely miss the point of this book, which is, oddly enough, the title.

Because I’m a Catholic, I’m pretty used to being the subject of intense opinion and curiosity. (Maybe it’s because I’m open minded and approachable, and generally come across as an intelligent person with a sense of humor. I don’t know.) There have been people who have asked me, in all honesty and without a hint of sarcasm, why Catholics worship statues. (We don’t.) I know, for a fact, that there are people who believe Catholics worship Satan (we don’t) and are all bound for a justly-deserved hell. (We aren’t. Well, maybe some of us are. But not me. Oops. But not I.) And there are people who believe that if we only accepted Jesus as our personal Savior, we’d finally come to realize that the Protestants are right. (We won’t.) And naturally, there are people who just don’t care about that sort of thing. (I, however, do.)

What’s interesting about most of these reviews is that they seem to completely miss the point of this book. (It really makes me wonder if the writers have actually read Love Wins.) One reviewer basically said that because the book didn’t have copious footnotes and could be read in under two hours, it basically wasn’t worth it, theologically. (Point of reference: the Bible doesn’t actually have any footnotes, and the entire Gospel of John on CD clocks in at only a little more than two hours, and that’s because it’s being read aloud. Hmmm….) Another writer said that if Jesus wasn’t really the only way to get to heaven, and if everyone really does a “get out of jail free” card, then why not live a life of unbridled self-indulgence?

After a thorough reading and re-reading of this book, I can not, for the life of me, see how Bell is saying that what amounts to using people for personal advancement, defrauding the poor, or engaging in wild sexual abandon, is okay with God, and He “lets you in” anyway. What I do see is that Bell’s view of salvation is a lot more expansive than that of a lot of conservative, self-proclaimed Evangelical Christians.

Stay tuned, because I’m nowhere near done with this.

The Weekly Yum-ster!

True Lover's Farewell

This week’s successful forays into the realm of dining excellence included:

And this CD (pictured at left), The True Lover’s Farewell: Appalachian Folk Ballads by Custer LaRue is excellent listening music for cooking—and eating!

Spinach Pesto:

  • Lots of clean, fresh spinach (at least a large colander full), stems removed
  • 3 garlic cloves, cut in several pieces
  • small handful of pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • pinch salt
  • 1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • zest of 1 lemon


Place a few spinach leaves, the garlic, nuts, basil and some of the oil a food processor container. Cover and puree until leaves begin to look crushed. Continue adding spinach leaves a few at a time with small amounts of oil to blender, using a rubber spatula to help to combine pureed mixture. Add Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Cover and process until spinach pesto mixture is relatively smooth. You may need a little more oil, and adjust seasonings to taste.

Yummy, yummy!