08 October 2011

Vegan French Vegetable Soup with Pistou

Perfect soup for the first snow day of the year.


2 Tbs. unsalted butter (or olive oil to make it vegan)
3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts medium finely chopped (about 5 cups)
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 medium potatoes - russet works but I like gold
6 medium carrots (try to get some different colors), chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced (I like more...)
1 Tbs. fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
1 Large bay leaf
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cups water
1-3 tsp. truffle oil (to taste)


1 cup firmly packed basil leaves
1/4 cup walnuts (toasted is nice but not essential)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

What To Do:

1. Melt butter in pan over medium heat.
2. Add leeks and shallots and a 1/2 tsp. of sea salt.
3. Cover and cook until leeks are softened. Stir often. Maybe 10 minutes.
4. Add wine and garlic. Cook uncovered until the wine is mostly evaporated.
5. Add carrot, potato, thyme, bay leaf, broth and water. Cover and bring to a boil...reduce heat and simmer for 35 - 45 minutes (until everything is really soft).  If you have time, turn the heat off and let it all sit there for a couple of hours before reheating and going to the next step.
6. Remove bay leaf. Add one tsp of truffle oil. Purree in batches in blender or processor or use an immersion blender until smooth. Season with pepper (unless you used low sodium vegetable broth, it probably doesn't need salt). 
7. Add a little more water if its too thick. It should be on the thick side of creamy not the creamy side of thick. Taste and add more truffle oil if you like!
8. While all that is cooking you can make the pistou in your processor (hard to do in a blender). Drop the garlic into the running processor. Scrap down. Add the basil and walnut. Pulse to combine. Add oil and blend until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

To Serve:

1. Place a dollop (a Tbsp or so) in the bottom of each deep bowl. Ladle 2 cups of hot soup over top to cover the pistou. Sprinkle with a little fresh thyme if you have any. Serve.
2. Your guest then stir the soup to mix in the pistou.
3. Bread and cheese board on the side.


07 October 2011

Sluggo Koan

At one time Nancy asked Master Sluggo, “Does a cartoonist have Buddha Nature or not?” Master Sluggo answered: “No.”

19 September 2011

A Matter of Life or Death

"Do not waste your time by night or day." - from a poem called Sandōkai (參同契) by Sekito Kisen, 700–790, a fundamental text of the Sōtō Zen.

It started with my birthday in May.

A nagging question of life and death. One that I had been put aside for decades. At least put aside from any serious consideration. But the question here at 55 is, once again, the meaning of life, the purpose of life, the what of life, and maybe most importantly, the why. I had the same question in my dorm room at St. Cloud State University way back in 1978. Thirty-four years later the question has much more immediacy than it did then. I am pretty sure I won't live to be 110 years old - Twinkies as a favorite snack will only get you so far after all. So it feels like this line of inquiry is once again open.

And because it is no longer just an academic line of inquiry it has a certain vitality.

We thought death had come for my sister-in-law yesterday. Her lips were blue and her breathing shallow. She lay on the sidewalk, unmoving, while we waited frantically - and you can indeed wait frantically - for the emergency rescue crew to get there, outside the Dave and Busters at the Mall in Columbus, OH on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. We thought she was slipping away...but she didn't. Instead of a heart attack, it was some type of food poisoning that left as fast as it came. Death stopped by to remind us all that life is fleeting.

I need those reminders apparently. Its quite easy to distract myself here in our interconnected age. I do it every day with books and treehouses and The Big Bang Theory. Oh, and work of course. And Facebook. And Twitter. And... it goes on and on. I distract myself from having to think about meaning. And so death.  Because I don't know what the meaning of life is...at all and so its much, much easier, and much, much less distressing for me to distract myself. I know that I am supposed to believe that Christ died for my sins and so by that Grace I get to go to heaven. But seriously, that can't be the meaning of life can it[?], because you know God could have skipped this step and just started us all off in heaven. Why this in-between step? Life as God's waiting room doesn't hold my interest much. Life as an airport. We get a layover instead of a direct flight. Why? Cheaper fare? There is a step in here that doesn't have an obvious purpose. A layover without rationale.

What is this life? Who is living it? Why is that "who" living it? Who is that who?

What is this?


12 April 2011

How To Be A Poet

Some people visit graveyards
to make rubbings of the gravestones they find there;
usually those of relatives.
They do this by putting a piece tracing paper on the stone,
then rubbing across it with charcoal or a pencil,
until they’ve reproduced the words of stone.

To be a poet, you need
to hold up a really big
piece of tracing paper to your life,
then rub it and rub it and rub it.
Then tear it up. Then burn
it. Then throw the ashes
into the air. Then watch them settle on the flowers,
the bodies, the blood, the dead,
dreads, red cars, blue lies, the
people you love, the one’s you
the pies, the cakes,
lust, sweet whiskey,
envy and ivy, cop and carpenter,
grocer and barber,
Sandinista, the jerk in the next car,
the girl you loved, the pine trees,
the bumble bees, and, at last,
the fast flowing river of spring that
carries them all far
from the sun.
Then, you must gather
the ashes back somehow,
and make pencils of them. Yellow
pencils that, when carefully
sharpened, you can use
to trace your life,
word by slow word.


31 March 2011


Thirty poems, thirty days. April is National Poetry Month and many have accepted the challenge of writing thirty poems in thirty days to celebrate; i.e., NaPoWriMo.

I've created a seperate blog for these and other poems called "open window press" - follow along as I post good, bad and horrible poems throughout April!

Join in the fun - all you need is a pencil and paper!

28 March 2011


The woman came sobbing
through the clothing store,
vomiting grief into her phone,
pushed through the throng,
and vanished into the afternoon.
But the source of her anguish -
an unexpected death,
harsh words of a lover -
really, we preferred to speculate.
We finished our coffees.
Clerks folded t-shirts.
Traffic waited at the light.

Did she sob on the subway, then
get off at Times Square?
Did only children risk
looking at her?
If only she had collapsed
right then and there,
we might have rushed to her side,
held her hand, and waited
for the ambulance
while people all around us,
clutching the so dearly bought,
hurried on their way
to that place we never share.


27 March 2011


30 poems in 30 days.  Yes, It's National Poetry Writing Month in celebration of National Poetry Month. Write 30 poems in 30 days.  I'll be posting each and every day. Not saying they'll be any good but it will be fun to let go of perfection and just let the Muse rip!  Join me!!!

07 March 2011

poem for a new year

the sun has gone into hiding here in ohio.

the rain walks across
the yard carrying snow
down to the flowers
in their cold beds.

the jagged trees, waiting along the road
for their rides, slowly think,
on the cusp of this new year,
that losing their leaves
in october
was a grave mistake.

they remember no springs.

here, inside, it is warm. the family is
gathered. the extravagant meal
has been eaten. the toast to the new year

the past year is in bed,
past caring, accepting the long sleep
ahead. in hindsight, the year
seems both benign and foolish.

we imbued him with
powers. we wished him
to change our lives. his magic,
a desired con.

but the year ends
mostly as it started.
the spells we threw like dice
have won us nothing.

there is no magic after all.

on the cusp of this new year,
i feel a kinship with the trees
who have forgotten spring,
with the flowers in their deathly slumber.

but with the clocks poised to
leap the chasm,
I sense that one day soon
we will be surprised,
they and I;

so very,
very surprised.

13 February 2011

A Winter's Day Hike

The sun talked to me today through my skin.
The pine trees made small talk about spring with each gust of wind.
The snow whispered to me with each step about the fleetingness of winter.
The water laughed playing in the mud.
The rocks were quiet,

but only because they were thinking.

24 January 2011

Ten Things For Which I Am Grateful - Week of January 24

1. Skiing with Nanny, Charlotte, Brad, Justin, Jill, Ethan, Becky and Cassie at Beaver Creek, CO last weekend.

2. The good doctors at Avon Urgent Care in Avon, CO for treating my skiing related concussion so well!

3. Nanny teaching me how to quilt.  Someone's getting a Christmas present...if I have the patience.

4. The sheer stupidity of "Jersey Shore".

5. Being able to use email and Facebook to stay in touch.  It gets bad press but it really does keep me in touch with friends and family.

6. Kashi Go Lean Crunch Cereal.  Its yummy.

7. Our piano. I can't play but I love fooling around on it anyway.

8.The King's Speech. What a film, what a joy.

9. Having Charlotte in my life.  She keeps me sane and grounded.

10. Poetry. I understand it less and enjoy it more than I'll admit.

Bonus Round: Andrew and David. My two sons. Individuals both. Smart as whips. Funny and generous souls who make my life better way more than ten ways.