Zucchini a la Bacon   Leave a comment

Looking for a new way to enjoy zucchini?  If you like something Italian that does not involve any form of tomato, you will like this.  I adapted a recipe that is in the cookbook Creme de Colorado that was published by the Junior League of Denver.  Yes, good things can come from the Junior League.

Here’s what you do.

 

12 ounces cooked angel hair pasta

15 pieces of bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled (or as many pieces as you can fit in the pan!)

1/2 cup butter

4 cloves garlic

3 medium zucchini sliced thin

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups heavy cream

freshly ground black pepper to taste

 

Cook the pasta as directed.  Don’t use a lot more than 12 ounces because your end result will be too dry.  Melt the butter in a large pan.  I use a Dutch oven for convenience, and saute the garlic and zucchini over medium heat until tender.  Reduce heat to low.  Add the pasta, Parmesan and heavy cream stirring gradually to get them as mixed as possible and warm.  Sprinkle with pepper.

This is just wonderful!  The original didn’t include zucchini and was a bit too rich, but the addition of zucchini helps create a better balance of all the flavors.

If I knew anything about wine, I could tell you whether to go for red or white, but personally, I like this with a salad and some blackberry lemonade.

 

Blackberry Lemonade

 

3 cups fresh blackberries, washed

1 cup sugar

1 cup lemon juice

6 cups cold water

Put the berries through a food processor that can remove seeds, and discard that pulp.  Pour liquid into a large pitcher and stir the sugar, lemon juice and water in gently.  Serve over ice, and taste summer.

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Posted August 16, 2018 by swanatbagend in food

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Unsettling   1 comment

My reading over the past several months has brought me to a question.  I read about the Equal Justice Initiative, a non-profit that legally defends those who have been sentenced to prison without the benefit of a just trial.  Most of them are minorities, many have disabilities, and some are children.  See more on their work here: https://eji.org, or read Just Mercy, written by the founder, Bryan Stephenson.

My reading has also included coverage of world news in The Economist.  Over time, the catalog of acts of injustice, of persecution of minority groups within countries, of country after country led by immoral strongmen adds up.

Then I picked up Generous Justice by Tim Keller.  It’s an exploration of what the Bible teaches and what the Christian church’s understanding should be about the relationship between mercy and justice.  In the course of the book, Keller explores the church’s lack of understanding of what situations individuals face in difficult environments.

For example, Keller describes a situation where a young woman who lived in a housing project was being harassed by a local gang to become a prostitute for suburban white men.  The believer who was meeting with her didn’t comprehend the full situation until she explained that her father was beaten in order to get her compliance.  When he asked why she didn’t involve the police, she responded that the police were those wealthy suburban white males.  She perceived that she was unlikely to get justice from that quarter.

These are just a few specific books I have read recently that have caused me to think new and uncomfortable ideas.

I’ve had a really good life.  I’m not saying nothing bad or unjust has ever happened to me–it has, because that is the nature of life in this world.  But I look at the sheer volume of despair out there that is endured by those who don’t have power, and I wonder.

What if some of the circumstances of my life that I have taken to be answered prayer are just class or race privilege?

Posted August 14, 2018 by swanatbagend in reflections, justice

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So Loved   Leave a comment

How could I be so loved?

I know for sure I didn’t deserve it.  I mean, yes, I work hard, I try to be a decent person, but really, I fail at meeting my own goals as well as other people’s expectations.  He couldn’t have been rewarding me for doing well and never being a whiner! because that just doesn’t happen.

He knows what I like and what is most relaxing and peaceful for me, and after months of some stressful times, we went and stayed somewhere we love.  We saw natural beauty and were out in it, hiking to a waterfall among thick forest.  We had brownies and Cokes in the afternoon.  We had a four course dinner.  It was amazing!  It was a true feast, in the best sense of the word, because we were there together, eating some of the most delightful food I’ve had in years, and celebrating all that is good in our lives and all we’ve been given.

Not only that, as a further surprise, he took me to a pottery shop, where we sat down with an instructor and two other women who were there, and made our very own ice cream dishes on the wheel!  We were engaged in freakin’ arts and crafts–together!

My husband insisted that we get away for our thirtieth wedding anniversary.  He arranged it all himself, planning some specifics that he knew I would enjoy, but not over-booking us, so that the prime detail was our companionship.  He wasn’t just tolerating the hike, my talking, and pottery making.  There weren’t any loud, pregnant sighs as there have been in the past when we stayed in a bookstore too long.  I’d have to say from everything I observed and experienced–and at this point, I do know him quite well–that he really just wanted to be with me.

Somewhere along the way, a shift happened, and he isn’t doing these things to get a certain outcome.  His commitment to me has transformed.  He just wants to love the beloved.

This, my friends, is the mystery.

Posted August 10, 2018 by swanatbagend in relationships

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Do You Need Me to Read You a Story?   2 comments

If you’re an adult you’re probably reacting to that question in one of two ways: either you are rather grumpy that I should ask you a question that’s for babies and children, or you are curious and ready to find out where the question leads.

Those of you with analytic minds may be wondering why I chose the word “need” instead of the more traditional “want.”

I love those analytical minds because you are already traveling toward the destination of this blog!

My daughter, almost an adult, has experienced a great deal of angst over the past five years about what she wants to do when she grows up.  What path should she chose?  Our culture demands that you know what you want by the time you are fourteen, and heaven forbid if you don’t have a firm career path mapped out by the time you’re a junior.  Also that career path will involve college; there are no other options.  If you haven’t already been busting your butt studying for the ACT/SAT, it’s too late; you won’t be able to get into a good enough school or pay for it, and then where will you be?  And, if you aren’t choosing a STEM major, what’s the point?  We all know that technology and medicine are where the high paying jobs are.  You’d be an idiot to pursue anything else.

At least, this is the message she’s been taking in.  I’m not 100% sure that’s the main message out there, but I’d agree that it’s pretty strong.

So, she’s graduated and is still feeling her way toward the future, while I remind her that life is what is happening right now, and as Allen Saunders famously remarked, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”  As next steps, she’s working on life skills and has enrolled to take several courses at our local community college–a very practical and wise choice.  She’s considering a couple of paths in the liberal arts that involve art, writing and film-making, but has not been certain enough to commit to them yet.  So this is a good place to begin.

But here’s what I want to tell her, as she contemplates the practicalities of life in our society, the realities of someday making her own living, and as she thinks some more about what the interface is between what she loves doing and what our society seems to demand.

There cannot be a society without storytelling.

There cannot be a city, a community, a culture, a civilization.  It’s literally impossible.

No interrelated group of people can create a world together without having a shared story, and of course, having many of them.  We by definition need stories to tell us who we are and where we’re going.  I don’t know how one can get paid for writing a story.  Our culture doesn’t reward storytelling in the same monetary ways it does STEM fields.  However, the entire civilization we have rests on stories.

Stories are a very good place to begin.

Posted August 8, 2018 by swanatbagend in writing

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Parallel Lives   Leave a comment

When your children are little, you live in the illusion that you know their lives completely.  You spend all your time together, most often very near, nursing them, changing their diapers and holding them, sleeping next to them.  It follows that as they grow you are still so near that you know their lives very well.  Or at least you think you do.  Within all of us is the tendency to do what research says babies do–assume that what they feel or perceive is what their mothers also feel and perceive.  And maybe some of that is going on.

As your child gets older, he ventures forth into the world for several hours at a time, and more and more as he grows up.

I don’t know when the moment will come for you.  It probably depends on your life choices and your child’s temperament, and on yours as well. Since I homeschooled all three of mine, we spent most of our time together.  I didn’t have six to eight hours a day where the kids were away.  We weren’t doing things together all the time, not by a long shot, but we shared our space and our lives in a way that you just don’t unless you’re together that much.

So, there will come a point at which you realize that there’s a separate life out there, doing its thing.  And while you will rejoice at that reality, and be thankful for your child’s maturity because, yes, that is the goal–there will be a longing to have it both ways.

I love the companionship we share and I don’t want it to end.  I’m interested in my son’s thoughts, his work, his days.  After years of sharing that with him, I can’t disconnect without wishing there were a way to be both places at the same time.  I long to travel both the arc of my life and the life of my child.

I don’t want to miss anything.

 

Posted August 6, 2018 by swanatbagend in motherhood

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Freedom   Leave a comment

The first track on Michael W. Smith’s album Freedom gave me a vision once.  In the years after it happened, there were times I wasn’t sure it would come to pass.  But in June, my son did what I saw him doing 17 years earlier.  My son did launch, and it wasn’t his first plane trip.  He took a flight back to his life on the other end of the continent.

It was one of those unforgettable moments–not the flight departure this year, but the time when he was just five years old.  His baby sister was sick that morning and I didn’t want to take her out in order to get him to his morning preschool.  I asked his dad to do the taxi job for me.

My husband was able to do that, and as they left for town I was sitting on the couch near an upstairs window with the baby.  The Subaru Loyale pulled out of the driveway; I glimpsed my boy in the passenger window.  For some reason I already had music playing that a.m. and the first track of Smith’s album was on.  I swear it’s true; the final transition of the piece where the music soars upward into the future was playing at that very moment.

Nobody else had ever taken my son to preschool before.  He’d always been with me.  This was the first time, and he was leaving me.  Just for a few seconds then, I got a glimpse of the future.

It’s come back to me every time I hear that music.  That look into the future, that insane moment in which one leaps forward months and years to something different.  It’s so crazy.

That moment is totally in the past.  But for me, I think it will remain eternally the present.

Posted August 1, 2018 by swanatbagend in motherhood, waiting

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An Unintended Travel Goal   Leave a comment

I don’t have a bucket list, but even if I did, I would never have decided on this travel goal.  I would never have deliberately set out to put this many miles on our mini-van.  I’m calculating…I think it ran about 9,000 miles?  We go camping every year somewhere, so that’s not unusual, just enjoyable.  However, putting three disparate pieces together, we got an amazing fact.

  1. We regularly travel to the Florida panhandle for spring break to camp in a beautiful, peaceful state park that some friends introduced us to ten years ago.
  2. We considered going to Maine last year.  We generally go west, and we thought it would be a good change of direction to see New England, and get all the way to Acadia, which I’d heard is lovely.  However, other travel trumped that as our oldest child was moving to California.  I wanted to see where he’d be living, he wanted the help moving, so we dropped the Maine plan and instead took a Penske truck and the mini-van with pop-up to northern California.  We moved our son into his apartment and then we all went camping for five days.
  3. So this year when we revisited the question of where to go on our camping trip, we still wanted to go to Maine, and although we didn’t have as much vacation time to work with as we had originally hoped, we decided to go anyway, because it was such a different place and we’d never been.

9,000 or so miles between the three trips, and here’s the thing we managed to do, which I would not necessarily recommend: We got our feet wet in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, the Atlantic Ocean, and the Gulf of Mexico within less than eleven months time!

Posted July 30, 2018 by swanatbagend in travel journal

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