Saturday, December 18, 2010


and a lecture today.  the lunch was designed to accompany the lecture called "Appetite for Africa" given by Professor Robert Launay from Northwestern University.  friends Sheila and Mary invited me to go about ten days ago and it sounded interesting- for a couple of reasons.  first of all I really know nothing about African food and secondly since I am going to Africa next year I thought this might give me some ideas of what to expect. 

I quickly learned that this was only west African food not food from all of Africa. however the presentation was interesting and the menu for the lunch - drawn from both actual dishes from the region and some inspired by the regional cooking was excellent.

we had six courses, some of them are memorialized in really awful cell phone photos from my blackberry- sorry- didn't even think to bring my camera

so you will have to trust that everything actually looked appealing and was not just edible but yummy-

we started with Akara - bean cakes made from black eyed peas- they were fried to a crispy outside and looked a whole lot like falafel- they were served with a sauce that had some kick to it.

then we had a fish course with a wonderful lemony-savory sauce served over Attieki (fermented manioc) which was also really tasty.

next on to goat stew with ground nuts over a polenta-like maize "pudding" (another flavorful dish)

then a beef dish that was stewed with cassava leaves and served with jollof rice (a kind of rice flavored with a savory tomato sauce I think)

the sweet at the end was fruit over a couscous like scoop that had been sweetened with honey.

by the end of the lunch - which was served with two South African wines by the way- we were well sated.

so again while I apologize for the photo quality - I did learn my lesson not to rely on cell cameras - it was a worthy endeavor and excellent meal!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

in need

of a distraction - so I finally dug out my disk of photos from my first trip to India in 2005.

I fell in love with India- it is teeming with life and maybe that is why I am attracted to it today.  My mother is slipping away- so I turn to a place with a life force so enormous it carries on -

on the Ganges-  in Varanasi - each evening the Aarti ceremony takes place- the offering of the light- at sunset.  people also release their own cares and wishes in smaller offerings directly onto the water with these lights:

here is a picture of the ceremony from the water-

 and one of the sunset over the Ganges

here is a photo from the early morning of the ghats that lead down to the river:

we went down the river to the place where the funeral pyres burned.  families of mourners attended as their relative was cremated and the spirit released- my mother has requested to be cremated and her ashes scattered.  my father's ashes were scattered in the Gulf of Mexico - something that is apparently available to veterans of the US Navy. 

while this seems to be kind of a downer post I am feeling mostly peaceful for my mother.  she leaves on her own terms and while she never got to India in life, my intention of returning there in the next couple of years will allow her to get there in a different form. 

I returned to India in 2007, two years after the first trip- that was the trip where we attended the wedding that is in a video in an earlier post.  in that same year we visited Bhutan - and there is a photo from that trip that I am especially drawn to today- prayer flags flying in a mountain pass - so close to "heaven" - the flags stay in place until the elements carry off the prayers and there is nothing left but the string they hang on. 

energy can neither be created nor destroyed....we go on...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

half a sucky week

is what it has been.  sunday morning I arose at 5:30 AM to get to my Board meeting and after that was over around 1 PM I drove through crummy weather for six hours to visit my mom.  when I got to her place on Monday morning I found her still in bed and feeling poorly.  

here is a photo of my mom when she was a young hot babe-

she is now almost 81 and has been battling cancer for ten years.  she is an amazing woman- has traveled all over and done lots of things in her life-been a teacher and an accountant and a buyer for retail.  everyone who works where my mom lives, in assisted living, loves my mom.  she is unfailingly upbeat and positive so it came as a big surprise to us all when she announced Monday that she was not feeling well enough to go on.

she has chosen hospice care to carry her through her transition.  this is a huge loss

she is and will always be a spectacular woman- a woman of great kindness, immense generosity, incredible intellect and insatiable curiosity- I have had the best role model a daughter could wish for.

so yes - it has been a kind of sucky week- I was already missing my sister and now I am facing the loss of my mom.

here are some photos of her:

a trip to Mexico as a teen- she is the beauty on the left-

and then Morocco (on the right) with her sister Phyllis

China and Africa

I pray her transition into spirit is an easy one and that her suffering will come quickly to an end.  Love always-