Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I have this poem on my refrigerator...

where I see it every time I'm in the kitchen. I haven't found any of Patrick Donnelly's poetry in my library, but an internet search has led to many such lovely works on his webpage,

On Being Called To Prayer
While Cooking Dinner for Forty

When the heavens and the earth
are snapped away like a painted shade,
and every creature called to account,
please forgive me my head
full of chickpeas, garlic and parsley.
I am in love with the lemon
on the counter, and the warmth
of my brother’s shoulder distracted me
when we stood to pray.
The imam takes us over
for the first prostration,
but I keep one ear cocked
for the cry of the kitchen timer,
thrilled to realize today’s cornbread
might become tomorrow’s stuffing.
This thrift may buy me ten warm minutes
in bed tomorrow, before the singer
climbs the minaret in the dark
to wake me again to the work
of thought, word, deed. 
I have so little time to finish;
only I know how to turn the dish, so the first taste
makes my brother’s eyes open wide--
forgive me, this pleasure
seems more urgent than the prayer--
too late to take refuge in You
from the inextricable mischief
of every thing You made,
eggs, milk, cinnamon, kisses, sleep.

-- Patrick Donnelly

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Creamy Spaghetti Primavera....

I realize I haven't shared any recipes here's one that's just too good, really.

Creamy Spaghetti Primavera


(I take no credit for this, and I can only heartily and humbly thank Rachael Ray for creating this amazing comfort-food dish. I make it for myself on my birthday every year. Yeah, it's that good.)


5 c vegetable or chicken stock (I generally use chicken)

2 Tbs olive oil

2 Tbs butter

4 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 pound of spaghetti (or substitute orzo, which makes it more risotto-like, but still tastie)

1 onion, chopped

2 carrots, cut into thin sticks

1 zucchini, cut into thin sticks

2 Tbs chopped fresh thyme leaves

salt and pepper to taste

3/4 c dry white wine

1/2 c heavy cream (no, this dish is not the most healthy you can make yourself.)

1 c grated Asiago cheese

grated peel of 1 lemon

1/2 c chopped flat-leaf parsley


* Simmer the broth over medium heat; keep hot.

* In a large deep skillet, heat the olive oil and the butter over medium heat. Stir in the garlic. Add the spaghetti (or orzo) and toast lightly, 2 minutes or so. (Do not let your garlic overcook.) Add the onion, carrots, zucchini and thyme, season with salt and pepper. Cook until the veggies are tender, stirring with tongs, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and cook until completely absorbed. Add a cup of warm broth and stir the pasta. Let the broth become absorbed and continue to add more, cooking like you would a risotto, until all the broth has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.

* Stir the cream and the cheese into the pasta, remove from the heat, and continue to stir for another minute until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately, topped with lemon peel and parsley. Oh, happiness. And if it's your birthday, follow up with cake. Because you deserve it.


Another one, just cause.....

—Anne H├ębert

Better not go to these deep woods
for great fountains
sleep in their depths.

Better not wake the great fountains
A false sleep closes their salty eyelids
No dream invents the blossoms
underwater white and rare.

The days around them
and the lean and chanting trees
sink no image into them.

Water in these dark woods
is so pure and uniquely fluid
and hallowed in this flowing source
a sea profession where I gaze.

O tears inside me
in the hollow of this grave space
where erect columns oversee
my old patience
keep intact
eternal solitude water solitude.

A stunning poem, and a link tro the song...!

Mary Hynes

(The most beautiful woman in the West. Padraic Fallon translation
of the Anthony Raftery poem)

That Sunday, on my oath, the rain was a heavy overcoat
on a poor poet; and when the rain began in fleeces
of water to buck-leap like a goat, I was only a walking
penence reaching Kiltartan

and there so suddenly that my cold spine broke out
on the arch of my back in a rainbow;
this woman surged out of the day with so much sunlight,
that I was nailed there like a scarecrow.

But I found my tongue and a breath to balance it,
and I said:

'If I'd bow to you with this hump of rain, I'll fall
On my collarbone, but luck I'll chance it'; and after falling bow again
She laughed: Ah! she was gracious, and softly she said to me,

'For all Your lovely talking I go marketing with an ass, I know him.
I’m no hill-queen, alas, or Ireland, that grass widow,
So hurry on,
sweet Raftery, or you’ll keep me late for Mass!'

The parish priest has blamed me for missing second Mass
And the bell talking on the rope of the steeple,
But the tonsure of the poet is the bright crash
Of love that blinds the irons on his belfry.
Were I making an Aisling I’d tell the tale of her hair,
But now I’ve grown careful of my listeners
So I pass over one long day and the rainy air
Where we sheltered in whispers.

When we left the dark evening at last outside her door,
She lighted a lamp though a gaming company
Could have sighted each trump by the light of her unshawled poll,
And indeed she welcomed me
With a big quart bottle and I mooned there over glasses
Till she took that bird, the phoenix, from the spit;
And, 'Raftery,' says she, 'a feast is no bad dowry, Sit down now and taste it.'

If I praised Ballylea before it was only for the mountains
Where I broke horses and ran wild,
And for its seven crooked smoky houses
Where seven crones are tied
All day to the listening-top of a half door,
And nothing to be heard or seen
But the drowsy dropping of water
And a gander on the green.

But, Boys! I was blind as a kitten till last Sunday,
This town is earth’s very navel.
Seven palaces are thatched there of a Monday,
And O the seven queens whose pale
Proud faces with their seven glimmering sisters,
The Pleiads, light the evening where they stroll,
And one can find the well by their wet footprints,
And make one’s soul!

For Mary Hynes, rising, gathers up there
Her ripening body from all the love stories;
And rinsing herself at morning, shakes her hair
And stirs the old gay books in libraries;
And what shall I do with sweet Boccaccio?
And shall I send Ovid back to school again
With a new headline for his copybook,
And a new pain?

Like a nun she will play you a sweet tune on a spinet,
And from such grasshopper music leap
Like Herod’s hussy who fancied a saint’s head
For grace after meat;
Yet she’ll peg out a line of clothes on a windy morning
And by noonday put them ironed in the chest,
And you’ll swear by her white fingers she does nothing
But take her fill of rest.

And I’ll wager now that my song is ended,
Loughrea, that old dead city where the weavers
Have pined at the mouldering looms since Helen broke the thread,
Will be piled again with silver fleeces:
O the new coats and big horses! The raving and the ribbons!
And Ballylea in hubbub and uproar!
And may Raftery be dead if he’s not there to ruffle it
On his own mare, Shank’s mare, that never needs a spur.

But ah, Sweet Light, though your face coins
My heart’s very metals, isn’t it folly without a pardon
For Raftery to sing so that men, east and west, come
Spying on your vegetable garden?
We could be so quiet in your chimney corner–
Yet how could a poet hold you any more than the sun,
Burning in the big bright hazy heart of harvest,
Could be tied in a henrun?

Bless your poet then and let him go!
He’ll never stack a haggard with his breath:
His thatch of words will not keep rain or snow
Out of the house, or keep back death.
But Raftery, rising, curses as he sees you
Stir the fire and wash delph,
That he was bred a poet whose selfish trade it is
To keep no beauty to himself.

Behold! 'Tis the artist himself, Mr. Liam Clancy:

Liam Clancy - Mary Hynes (+playlist)

Monday, April 21, 2014

It's springtime and that means...

it's time to plant! Well, mostly. Almost. It's time to start seeds indoors? I have. In a pot on the kitchen bar I have three sweet little tomato plantlings valiantly reaching to the sky. Ceiling. Whatever. The peppers I planted in an accompanying pit have yet to do much of anything, which just proves their contrary nature. Outside, covered, are pots of lettuce and basil, and the window box's chives wintered over beautifully, and are doing their thing. I let my little bitty plant some sage and pansies in the window box as well, but I'll probably just buy some herbs to add to it. I have all kinds of photos of the work-in-progress, and blogger won't load any of them, so just use your imaginations while I try to figure out why blogger is being as contrary as my peppers. (I can't even copy and paste my own photos. How annoying is that??)
   Anyway, I've already grabbed my pickle buckets from the restaurant downstairs--the 5 gallon buckets make perfect pots for a back-step garden-- and have my 'garden plan' all drawn up. Two pots with tomato and pepper; one with zucchini; one with a mix of cucumbers and peas; one with tomato and eggplant; and one for the little guy: purple beans, pansies, Wee-Be-Little pumpkins, Thumbelina carrots, and if I can find them, Easter Egg radishes. (Not that he'll eat them, but my husband and I love radishes, and the little one will love pulling pink and purple radishes from his garden and feeding them to us.) This may sound like an awful lot to plant in one five gallon bucket, but provided I do it right (i.e., follow directions as laid out in The Bountiful Container) all should go according to plan. 

   Another one that I love, but do not own is Grow Great Grub:

Both are incredibly helpful for the new (in other words, completely clueless) gardener (me) who only has a small space to try and have a garden. I'd love to try to do more, but my back stairs do need to be accessible in case of any kind of emergency. So six big pots, four smaller pots, and two window boxes will have to do for now. We actually have three community gardens here in town as well, and I'm thinking about putting my name in for one. Sadly, I have heard from neighbors that participate that the vegetables have a habit of disappearing before the gardeners have a chance to pick their produce, so I'm a little leery about spending my time on a garden that others will benefit from because they'd just rather take my stuff. It bears thinking about, though.

    I just found this one on Amazon as well, and it looks worth reading simply for the sake of reading  it!

Here are some links to books (on Amazon) that I can't seem to paste. Happy planting! And playing! And getting dirty!

Kids Container Gardening:

Gardening Projects for Kids:

Kids Garden:

Compost Stew: (We use yet another pickle bucket for composting, but we don't actually use the contents. Every time we fill a bucket we drop it off with the restaurant's collection, and they cart it away to whatever garden supplies the restaurant with veggies.)

The Edible Balcony:

Small Space Container Gardens:




Mr. Keats

     One simply cannot post entries for National Poetry Month without acknowledging, nay, swooning, weeping, lamenting and living the agony of the doomed romance of John Keats and Fanny Brawne. And so, dear readers, with my heart full and my eyes welling, I give you

                        Bright Star

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death.

John Keats 

     Oh, Mr. Keats. Alas that thou didst die one hundred fifty-six years before I was born. Oh, my heart.

Behold, a link to the trailer for one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking movies EVER.