Sunday, June 30, 2013

Adieu, Uncle Beno

The world lost another fine character this past week.  Benjamin Gibbs Philpott, the BFF's big brother extraordinaire, headed off into the sunset.  He will be sorely missed by his son, his wife, and his baby sister.  Not to mention the church full of friends and family members at his funeral on Friday.  I loved Ben because his sister loved him.  I got to know him over the years, most memorably at Sunset Beach.  After I returned from sabbatical in 2008 and the Ex-Ex and I reunited, we re-tied the knot there on our original anniversary, July 24.  The party was fabulous, held at the King-Philpott compound.  Good food, good drink, six boys, one girlfriend, and Gran Helen.  This is how I will always remember Ben.

Photos of the day--

The happy couple...

My family after the ceremony

My BFF and best maid/matron/buddy/look-a-like/QOATM rocking the pink cowboy hat with me

Ben and his bride

Ben and his family

BFF's oldest and Helen (I wonder what he was up to, too, Gran)

Helen surrounded by the girls-- she treated me like a daughter

The master working his magic with Frogmore Stew (note the amazed, hungry looks!)

The secret ingredient?

That night, Ben introduced me to Frogmore Stew, but he also introduced me to M.F.K. Fisher and her writings about food and France.  Ben knew me well enough to know that I would devour her books.  He was a reader and a writer.  I kept up with him through his blog, which he started back in 2009.  His buddy Lee made us laugh and cry with his remarks at the memorial service.  He also read this entry from Funkybeno.  A fitting way to say good-bye.
I am sorry if I have made you cry, BFF.  I want you to remember this fabulous day, too, though, in the midst of your sadness and tears.

I am not what anyone would call a religious person anymore.  I only very sporadically attend a church service.  I was, once upon a time, a very faithful Baptist.  I have not forgotten God.  I still speak with him on a daily basis.  I just consider myself more spiritual now, embracing all that is good in all religions, but not what people have done since time began or continue to do to one another in the name of religion.  Several of the passages from the service at Grace Episcopal Church struck a chord--

2 Corinthians 

We do not lose heart.  Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

Doesn't that describe love?  The love we have for all those we hold so dear, but who we will have to let go at some point?

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures;
he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul;
he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his Name's sake.
Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; for thou art with me;
thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
thou anointest my head with oil;
my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I like the image of God/Jesus as a shepherd who looks over his flocks and cares for them.  I don't believe in a God who punishes people by sending horrible afflictions and death.  Humans are the ones judging, not God.

John 10: 11-16

Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away-- and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.  The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep.  I am the good shepherd.  I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.  And I lay down my life for the sheep.  I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.  I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.  So there will be one flock, one shepherd."

I saw this little guy in a field near Les Baux de Provence on Thanksgiving Day in 2008.  I watched him and his buddies frolic and play for several minutes that day.  A joyous sight that I will never forget.  They leap and run around in circles!

We will never forget you, Uncle Beno.  And we will party again someday.

Never better!

The recipe for Frogmore Stew can be found on this Sabbatical Chef blog post:  Context
It is on the menu for the upcoming trip to Sunset.

Many thanks to Deirdre and the BFF for some of the photos.

Bon appétit and happy memories to all!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Simple pleasures

We had a storm yesterday that blew in and blew out pretty quickly, taking the 95˚ temperature and humidity with it.  Thank goodness.  Bright blue skies this morning for my walk.  The BFF wasn't feeling well so I went solo.  Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance company has a trail close to chez moi and I decided to take that route.
There's a path through "the woods"--

An employee garden to admire

guarded over by the BCBS cow (we have these all over town).

Flowers along the way

I listened to Billy Joel and spent about 45 minutes enjoying the morning.
I came home to toast, jam, and coffee.  There is not much simpler than that.  Or more delicious.

Strawberry jam from Lyon Farms.

Simple ingredients.

They have a weekly spot at the Durham Farmers Market and their produce and products are always top notch.

Here's a simple pleasure for Rusty, the cat.  The Ex-Ex brushing him.  He loves it so much that he can't sit still for long.

And finally, here is a very simple summer vegetable dish that I made a couple of nights ago.  The Ex-Ex doesn't care for hot tomatoes, but he did try it before leaving most of it for moi.  The leftovers were good cold the next day.  It's ratatouille-ish.   Just no eggplant in this version.  I think that next time I will add a layer of eggplant.  Caramelized onions would be good, too.  Red pepper slices, maybe.

Baked Zucchini-Tomato Slices
from Tina Arnold

Slice zucchini in half.  Slice off the rounded part of the bottom to make the slices stable.  Place the slices on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper for easy clean-up.  Brush the slices with olive oil.  Sprinkle with minced fresh garlic.  Top with sliced tomatoes (I used roma), sprinkle with salt and pepper, if you wish, and /or herbes de Provence.  Top with mozzarella and/or Parmesan cheese.  I picked some fresh basil leaves off the plant on my deck and cut them up with kitchen scissors to place on the cheese.  Bake in 350˚ preheated oven for about 30 minutes until soft.

Bon appétit!  Enjoy summer!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Avoidance and an empty nest

I have been avoiding both my blog and writing for the past few weeks.  I cannot explain it.  I love this blog.  I love to write.  The end of the school year is always very busy and I have more writing than I care to acknowledge-- writing exams, writing progress reports, writing what seems like thousands of emails...  I have been too worn out to write for fun, I guess.

Now the school year is over.  My 33rd year has come to a close.  Last Thursday was the official end.  And it ended with a bang.  I won the F. Robertson Hershey Award, given annually to one of the faculty members.

I was nominated by one of my colleagues.  The award is named for the head of school who took a chance on me.  He interviewed me, a 21 year old college junior/senior, and offered me a job teaching middle school French, after making me promise that I would go to summer school and actually graduate.  ($9500 a year seemed like a fortune back then.)  The award was presented to me by the retiring head of school, a man I admire and have enjoyed getting to know over the course of the past 14 years.  (I figured out it was me when joie de vivre popped up in the description... I am thrilled that that expression was used about moi.)
Our nest is empty this summer.  Son #1 has been on his own for a couple of years now.  Son #2 came to us in late April with a proposal to live at the coast with one of his buddies.  He will be interning there with one of our North Carolina senators in July so... "Of course, it only makes sense to live at the beach for the whole summer, Mom."

He is working in a sushi restaurant, his first experience as a host/server.  The deal was that he had to have a job and he managed to make that happen.  So, it's just the Ex-Ex and me.  And the cats.  Can't forget them.
For the first summer in quite some time, I am not working.  I just finished a two-day iPad meet-up, as our tech guru likes to call the summer workshop.  I am feeling more competent.  What am I going to do with myself this summer?  Well, first of all, I am taking the Ex-Ex to The Big Apple.  Yep, we are heading to New York City for four days.  I've been busy cashing in frequent flyer miles and searching for a hotel in mid-town.  I have two other summer ambitions... exercise and writing my book.  I've started my morning walks.  The writing is starting to flow again.  I think it is going to be a very good summer.

Avocado and Tomato Summer Salad
from Tina Charlene

2 avocados, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 c. grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half, if you wish
2 c. cucumbers, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 red onion, diced
4 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of one lime
1/4 c. olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Lettuce, if desired

Toss all ingredients in a bowl.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve on a bed of lettuce, if desired.

8 servings

Bon appétit et bonnes vacances to all teachers and kiddies!

Thanks to our wonderful 5th grade science teacher for lending me her nest long enough to photograph it!