Senses Afire

Sudden acrid smell of burning rubber

Quick!  Pull over to the side of the road.

Tug on handle and open car door.

Get out!

just in time….

Trusty dented little blue car,

festooned with bumper stickers

Inexplicably goes up in flames

Traffic stops for miles.

Kind strangers leave their cars to

stand beside her as she


amazed, unscathed

and lucky to be















Occasionally I crave something just a bit decadent for breakfast, and on those mornings, John is the best taste tester.  This was one of those mornings.  I remembered reading an All Recipes idea for a scrumptious version of French toast, and I thought I could adapt it, keep the flavor and the lusciousness, while cutting some of the calories and fat. The result,according to John, was delicious.  Here’s the recipe.

Split two cinnamon raisin bagel thins, and spread a layer of whipped cream cheese on all four slices.  Then on two of the slices, press  ten fresh blueberries into the cream cheese in a circular pattern.  Next firmly press the bagel slice tops onto their blueberry strewn partners.  Afterwards, cut each ” stuffed ” bagel thin sandwich in half and set it aside.

Heat a skillet sprayed with Pam.

Then, using a small mixing bowl, whisk together two eggs and 1/4 cup of milk, and dip each sandwich half into the mixture.  Cook in the preheated skillet until each side is golden brown.  Add any remaining egg mixture to the pan and scramble.

Warm some maple syrup in the microwave, and add fresh strawberries and blackberries to the skillet for just a minute.

Serve the blueberry cream cheese stuffed bagel French toast with a topping of the heated fresh berries and the warm syrup, and on the side, add a couple of spoonsful of scrambled eggs.

A sweet start to the morning, and less calorie laden than other stuffed French toast recipes.





Mexican Chicken

My good friend MJ is a chef and blogger extraordinaire, and the inspiration for my sporadic “Just Getting Started”blogs.  Often she posts recipes which I borrow, make (following the recipe, kinda sorta) and share.  This past Monday we served dinner to our wine group of twelve, and MJ’s Firehouse Chicken was such a hit that her recipe went viral.  Everyone wanted a copy.

Tonight, I tried something new, which both John and thought was terrific.  For lack of a better name, I am calling it Mexican Chicken, but someone with a better imagination can give it another name.

Often when I cook, I glance at a recipe, get the gist, and then go off on a  tangent to make it my own. (That’s because I do NOT bake.  Baking requires precise, chemistry class-like measurements and calculations.  I did poorly in high school chemistry, and thank God, never had to study the subject in college.)

So tonight,  I took stock of what was sitting in the fridge and on cupboard shelves.  I surveyed my collection of cookbooks and grabbed a little used book by Kathi Long, titled Mexican Light Cooking.   I had some chicken breasts and four corn tortillas.  What could I do with them?  Kathi Long provided some inspiration, and I tweaked a couple of her recipes to come  up with this one.  I think it could easily be doubled or tripled.  This served the two of us, with more than generous portions.  I think I  could have fed four with this recipe.  But I served no dessert.


2 portion sized Perdue chicken breasts, one fresh lime, 4 corn tortillas, 1 clove garlic, crushed, one half small yellow onion, diced,  one quarter fresh red pepper, diced,

1 tsp. oregano, 3 tsp parsley, one half can corn, 1 can Rotel original diced tomatoes with green chilies, one half can refried beans, one half cup shredded cheddar cheese.

2 tablespoons olive oil, PAM spray


In a glass bowl, marinate the two chicken breasts in a mixture of 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, one tablespoon  olive oil, sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste, one crushed garlic clove, (I use jarred minced garlic) and 1 tsp oregano.  Let it sit, covered with plastic wrap, at room temperature for about 25 minutes. Flip the chicken over once to make sure marinade mixture covers all the chicken.

Meanwhile,  saute  the onion and red pepper in a small amount of  olive oil for a few minutes before adding the mixture to a drained can of Rotel diced tomatoes with green chilies, a tablespoon of freshly squeezed lime juice, and half can of corn. Mix well, adding salt and pepper to taste.   Add parsley.  Put aside to let flavors blend.  This will become your tortilla salsa topping.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Remove the chicken from the marinade. Discard the marinade.  Sear the chicken in a small amount of olive oil in a frying pan at medium high heat for about 3 minutes per side.

Remove seared chicken from frying pan and place each breast in oven safe glass baking dish.    Bake chicken for 30 minutes.

Spray each side of the corn tortillas with Pam cooking spray and place on a cookie sheet.  After the chicken has baked for 20 minutes, put the tortillas in the oven.  They will crisp in ten minutes.

Remove chicken from oven and let it sit for about five minutes. Remove tortillas from oven and spread a couple of tablespoons of refried beans over each tortilla.  Top with shredded cheddar cheese.   Return to oven until cheese melts.

Slice each chicken breast into bite sized medallions.

Remove topped tortillas from the oven and place two on a serving plate. Top with salsa.  Arrange chicken medallions on either side of the tortillas.  Put a dollop of sour cream in the center of the plate.





















Jean would have wanted it that way…

This afternoon I attended a memorial service for Jean, a fellow volunteer I’d come to know and respect.  She was an amazing woman who embraced life, and tackled it with flair and gusto, kindness and conviction.  She would have been pleased to hear the words of tribute and love spoken by her family and friends.

Tonight we went to a raucous performance of La Cage Aux Folles, acted with flair and pizzazz by an incredibly talented cast.  Thoroughly entertained, we laughed, we howled, and we cheered.

I can’t help but marvel at this most unusual day of extremes.  One moment, heads bowed, reflecting on a life well lived, friends shed tears, and consoled one another.   Yet a few short hours later, we were laughing uproariously at the hijinx in a packed theater.

An emotional day, a good day.   I am pretty sure Jean would have approved.

Stone Circle Feast

In the lovely Irish seaside village of Glandore,

we stand at the ancient stone circle

midst forty shades of green.

We ponder the mysteries of the past as we

we lick our fingers.

There were, you see,

alongside the narrow road we hiked to get there,

long stretches of bushes laden with

luscious fat juicy blackberries

ripe for the picking

and irresistible.

Ancient Stone Circle in Ireland

More precious than jewels….and lost forever

My mother was in her late teens in war-torn Belgium in 1944 , when she met my GI dad, who was stationed in her village.  He knew a few words in French; she knew fewer words in English,  but they overcame that obstacle and communicated somehow.  When WWII came to an end,he was shipped back to the States, and she thought that would be the end of their budding relationship.

To her delight, however, he wrote her a letter, with the painstaking use of an English to French dictionary.  That began a two year love affair by mail. Her French to English dictionary became dog-eared with repeated use, as did his English to French dictionary.  Their letters became longer, filled with descriptions of how they spent their days, and over time, with plans for her to join him in America.  In one of his letters,  Dad proposed to Mom. In 1947, with only  the clothes on her back, and  carrying a flimsy suitcase containing her few garments and the much prized packet of love letters, my mom bravely bid adieu to her father and her country.

That packet of love letters travelled with them from their first cramped apartment in Boston’s now razed West End, to each of their succeeding homes in Dorchester, Somerville, and Wakefield.   When they retired and decided to move to Florida, they entrusted their belongings to a moving company that took their boxes in a large van along with the property of a number of other folks moving to Florida.

Mom and Dad eagerly awaited delivery of those boxes, which arrived on schedule.  But examination revealed one box was missing, the box containing the packet of love letters.  Mistakenly, it had been delivered to someone else.  Bereft and heartbroken, they tried to learn who had received that packet of letters.  Who else would want them?  Mom and Dad never found out.  Most likely,  the letters ended up in a trash heap somewhere.

Dad lost his battle with cancer twenty-two years ago, and Mom would like nothing more than to be able to read those old letters, more precious than  jewels and gone forever.

These boots are made for walkin’

These boots are made for walkin'In a summer of surprises, making Grand Canyon memories with grandkids, we rafted down the white water of the Colorado, camped at its shore, climbed upon its rocks, and had a blast.  Then SPLAT. A clumsy trip and a limping continuation of the adventure.  Weeks later, back home, another “trip”, earning me these Frankenstein boots until healing is complete.  Vanity, thy name is ….Frankenstein!  In the immortal words of an old ABC sports program: “The thrill of victory and the agony of De Feet!”

A lesson learned

Friends and family who had “followed” my short-lived blog have asked me why I haven’t written anything for such a long while.

For the better part of the past year, I wore a new hat that never felt as if it fit properly. I was asked to fill a vacancy that would prepare me to take the helm of a pretty substantial non-profit agency. I said yes, when I should have heeded the little voice in my head that screamed no.

It’s been an eye-opening year, providing a behind-the-scenes look at a world I had glimpsed only from the perspective of a volunteer. Feeling out of my element from the start, I struggled to learn as much as I could about things that have never interested me, such as finance, business development, and fund raising.

Sapping my emotional energy, this gig was going to occupy my thoughts for a term that would stretch for another two and a half years. I would be 70 before it was over.

Today I resigned, so I shall indulge in some alliterative overkill…

Immediate immeasurable relief:
An albatross lifted from the
Melancholy micromanager
Who mulled over
A mountain of minutia

Maybe now I will feel like writing once in a while, and I will be “just getting started”…again!

King Lear and Driver’s Licenses

During a recent class on King Lear, our instructor led a discussion based on two questions: What is the basis of one’s sense of self? And what does a person need to maintain that sense of self? In the play, the daughters of the king, 80, want to dictate what he can and cannot do. He is past his prime, and they believe they know what he needs better than he does. They want to render him powerless.

A large part of Lear’s sense of self derives from his authority over his subjects, his ability to make decisions that are respected by others.

Something the instructor said made me think about my mother and mother in law, each of whom revelled in the freedom to get in their cars and drive anywhere they wanted to go. But now, 89 and 93, they have had to relinquish their drivers’ licenses. Their lives have utterly changed as a result. They must rely on others for every single thing they want to do outside the confines of their homes. They have become dependent prisoners.
Daily, each one bemoans her inability to drive.

Do they have a diminished sense of self? I suspect they do. Their licenses helped define them as capable, independent women, with the right to make their own decisions.

I regret that as they age, we adult children increasingly deny them their autonomy. We are convinced we know what is best for them. We become impatient at their protestations at the role reversal that is gradually occurring. The child is becoming the parent.

While we do not share the evil motivations of the daughters of Lear, we do contribute, albeit with good intentions, to the erosion of our parents’ authority, and consequently, their sense of self as well.

Will I too want to shout at the world when I am inevitably robbed of my fierce independence? Absolutely.

Why WWF Is Driving Me Nuts

I must admit to some degree I have been guilty of hubris. Thought I possessed a fairly decent vocabulary. From the time I was tormented by my high school friends for describing Lake Quannapowitt as “placid”..( PLACID??? PLACID???? Are you for real?), I have been accused of having vocabulary OCD.
All that is changed now. I suffer ignominious defeat at the hands of WWF masters who find that the Computer considers WAE,QI,ZA,OE,SAB,TOR,VAR,and GAE acceptable. “Use it in a sentence!” I want to shout. And that’s why WWF is driving me nuts.