Thursday, April 30, 2015

Camden Yards 4-29-15

What is it like to play baseball in a silent park

No peanut vendors calling out.

No warbly rendition of the national anthem.

No expletives hurled at the other team’s fans.

No boos at the umpire's call.

No cheers for the single from the new kid.

No gasp at the fast ball too close to the batter's helmet.

No 7th inning stretch with "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

No applause for the pitcher exiting with a shutout.

No sounds at all

except maybe

the cries of anger and despair

from the streets of the city.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Cooking: It's Never Like it is With Giada

Ever since I stood beside my mother at the counter on Lancaster Street, I have enjoyed cooking. Living alone, I don't often try exotic recipes, but being a fan of Food TV, particularly Giada De Laurentiis, I get ideas for things I'd like to try, but it's even better when a friend serves something I enjoy and offers me the recipe. That's what happened recently when I complimented a friend on the squash soup she had made.

I looked over the neatly printed card she sent to see what I had on hand and what I needed at the store. I had some homemade chicken stock in the freezer, so I took it from its Zip lock bag and put it in a shallow dish on the counter next to the stove to thaw out overnight. The next morning there seemed to be a lot less stock in the bag. When Riley scooted by me to start licking up the puddle on the floor, I realized what had happened. The bag had leaked! He did a good job of cleaning up what was visible, but it had run under the stove, so I had to pull out the stove (always fun) and mop the floor underneath it.

Then I was off to the store to buy the other items I would need: squash, tomatoes, cannellini beans, onions, and, of course, some canned stock. After returning home I put the kettle on to make myself a cup of tea while I put the groceries away. Soon I smelled something burning. I thought maybe it was something from a previous cooking adventure that had stuck to the flat surface. No, upon lifting the kettle, I found the recipe card--now black and flaming around the edges. Quickly extinguished, it was deposited in the trash. Now I had to imagine exactly what it had said.

Tonight was chilly—a good night for soup, so I set out to make some sort of soup with the ingredients I had. I've made soup before. I can do this. So what if I don’t have the recipe. My idea was to sauté the onions, garlic, etc. Then I would put everything into the slow cooker and let it go.

While I was sautéing the onions and garlic, I poured the stock into the slow cooker. But as I was pouring it in, I knocked the top of the slow cooker on the floor where the handle broke off. It's important to know that this is the NEW top to the slow cooker that I had just replaced a couple of months ago, having to order it online for some outrageous price. It wasn't my fault that time. The screws that held on the handle became corroded and broke. Seems like a design flaw to me, but not a battle worth having.

Well, it's all in the slow cooker now, covered by the top with no handle that I have to wedge open with a knife. I just hope it's worth it all.  Sometimes I miss Julia Child and her chicken that fell on the floor.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Patriot's Day 2015

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet 
sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”
Mark Twain

I will admit right off the bat that I have no idea of the anguish parents must suffer when a child dies, even more so when that death is violent. Although I have had many children in my life whom I love dearly, I recognize that the bond a parent has is something much deeper and stronger. It’s understandable that these parents may feel a need for revenge when the person whom they love more than life itself has been taken from them. There is a need to take that fury and do something with it, something that feels like justice. Yet, there are loving parents who choose another path, a quite extraordinary path. I lift up three stories here.

Bill and Denise Richard’s 8-year old son Martin was killed in the Boston Marathon Bombing two years ago, and their daughter Jane lost her leg. This week, as the sentencing phase of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial begins, they have asked the federal authorities to spare their son’s killer the death penalty, to end what could be years of appeals causing  them to re-live the horror over and over. They have also founded the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation that honors Martin's message of "No more hurting people. Peace" by investing in education, athletics and community.

In 2006, after their daughters were brutally shot to death in their classroom, Amish parents went to the home of the killer’s widow to grieve with her, and to say that, true to their religious beliefs, they forgave him. Later, donations totaling $4.3 million came from all over to support the families of the victims. The money was used for medical expenses, local emergency services, and a portion was given to the widow and children of the killer.

In 1993 Peter and Linda Biehl’s 26-year-old daughter Amy, a Fulbright scholar who worked with disadvantaged South Africans, was stoned and stabbed as a crowd shouted anti-white slogans. Four black men were convicted in her death. The Biehls went to South Africa, and when the perpetrators asked for amnesty, they supported it, and shook hands with the men who had killed their daughter. The Amy Biehl Foundation, a charity that dedicates its work to putting up barriers against violence, was formed, and two of the convicted men now work for the foundation.

These are extraordinary stories, hard to believe, and yet each ends with a legacy of peace and rebuilding and a hope for a better future. Revenge cannot offer that.