November 2004

29 Nov 2004 01:08 pm

In chains all that was left of freedom was life, just existence; but to exist without choice was the same as death. -Bernard Malamud, The Fixer

Hugh Hewitt posts about books twice read today and it got me to thinking about books that have made great impressions on me. I read Bernard Malamud’s The Fixer while a junior in high school and it had an amazing impression on me. Later on in college I did a painting of The Fixer and went on to read more of Malamud’s books. The Natural was great but in my opinion The Fixer was magnificent. The book was set in Kiev which makes it a timely read for those who haven’t yet been so privileged. I would hope that conditions are better in the Ukraine but current news casts doubt on that.

Although I haven’t read it twice it has been so long since I did read The Fixer I want to read it again.

I have read Dicken’s David Copperfield, Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, George Eliot’s Middlemarch , Jane Austin’s Sense and Sensibility and Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind twice.

I discovered Susan Howatch years ago and her Starbridge books about the Anglican Church in England were excellent. Absolute Powers was my favorite. I have read every book written by her.

And how can I forget Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? I read this book first when I was thirteen (it was one of my mother’s favorites) and then again in my twenties and another time when my daughters were teenagers. It’s a classic.

And of course I have read C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia several times, and once with my son when he was little. Mere Christianity touched me more than all of Lewis’ books because it helped me to grow as a Christian. Touched by Joy was also wonderful.

I love the Harry Potter series. I was taking a train from Paris to Heidelberg with my daughters when I was reading the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and there was something magical about sharing Harry’s first train experience. I have read and reread these books.

I was thirteen when I first read The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone, a biographical novel about Michelangelo. After reading that book Michelangelo became my first crush.

Reading about great artists became interesting to me so while still a teenager I read Lust for Life also by Irving Stone about the life of Vincent Van Gogh. I was touched by the devotion of Vincent and his brother Theo so I read The Letters of Vincent Van Gogh Edited by Mark Roskill. I still read this book as I teach my students about art history.

I’m putting The Fixer on my Christmas wish list.

26 Nov 2004 07:01 am

I cooked all afternoon and evening on Wednesday and all morning yesterday. We were going to my brothers as is tradition but I was also cooking for the leftovers we would have later. I like that because everyone can just grab what they need out of the fridge.

But as we arrived home late yesterday I discovered our refrigerator was not working. Had to round up everything and take it to my son and daughter-in-law’s house. You can’t call a refrigerator repairman on Thanksgiving. Besides, we are renovating our house and will be getting a new kitchen and new appliances so don’t know whether it is worth the call to a repairman.

Other than that we had beautiful weather yesterday and it was great to be with the family.

24 Nov 2004 05:18 am

I wrote this article on November 26th, 2001 for our family website. My husband and I had had Thanksgiving for the first time without our family as we were stationed in Germany. I am still searching for that Holy Grail of Dressing Recipes so for once, my husband will like it as much as he did his late grandmother’s. But, I am starting to think that he may just be “funnin” me.

On Thanksgiving Day I spent most of my time in the kitchen, preparing the turkey, dressing and all the rest. I like the way my dressing tastes although it doesn’t really suit Bob. He says that the dressing that his grandmother made was the best he ever tasted.

That got me to thinking about the food that we had when we were kids at our grandparents’ houses. I know that we ate because I remember being there but I don’t recall how it tasted at all. I remember that Mamaw Webster always grew her own sage and thyme and it was a treasured ingredient in the dressing every year. I remember the ambrosia that Aunt Jeanine always brought and I was first in line for but I can’t recall how it tasted.

I remember that we always had great pies that my Mother was the major producer of so I can remember them because she continues to make great pies. I can remember preferring the dark meat of the turkey and sitting in the kitchen while the adults were in the dining room but I don’t remember how the dressing tasted.

I recall that my mother prepared at least two batches of cornbread before Thanksgiving Day and the cornbread was a major ingredient in the dressing. I think that I spent some time tearing bread into pieces to also go into the dressing and that some hard boiled eggs were also prepared ingredients but still, I can’t recall how that dressing tasted. It must have tasted good because as I grew up and started cooking on my own I wanted to know how it was done.

The first few years of our marriage my dressing was pathetic but as I have persevered it has improved and now Kate, for one, says that there is nothing better than my dressing. But, still, Bob longs for Mama Wera’s dressing. He says it was crunchy on top and smooth inside. Mine is too. But, it is still not what he expects. I remember the lemon meringue pie that I enjoyed every Thanksgiving and I still have trouble making it taste like my mother’s but I can’t for the life of me remember the dressing.

I remember the delicious Spinach Florentine that my cousin, Vicky brought to our Thanksgiving dinners when we were older teenagers. I definitely still crave that and remember how tasty it was. But, the dressing leaves me cold. Wish I could remember how food tasted when I was young. I can remember some food but not a lot.

I can remember the delicious Texas Hash that mother fixed and, of course, her amazing gravy. And, sometimes I recall the lumpy but very tasty mashed potatoes for which Junior and Jeanne were responsible. I definitely remember the great hambugers and french fries that Frisby’s served. They only served Pepsi and to this day, Pepsi tastes better with burgers than coke.

I remember the Pizza Burgers at Portas and the yellow rolls at Portas on Grand. I remember the smooth mashed potatoes at Woolworths with the smooth brown gravy. But, the dressing didn’t leave an imprint in my tastebuds even though I know it was great. It could be that I have struggled for so many years to perfect my dressing that I have lost the original standard.

Now there is dressing in the refrigerator and it probably won’t be eaten even though I had quite a bit of it on Thanksgiving Day and a few days after. But, Bob won’t eat it, he dreams instead of Mama Wera’s Holy Grail Dressing. I wish that we could return to the days of Thanksgiving at Mamaw Fletchers (and, sometimes, at Mamaw Websters) at least for a day.

I would love to once more sit down at the table with Vicky at my side, giggling about passing the butter and sugar. Then, maybe we could all recall how good it was, with Uncle Max, popping off jokes and teasing us, Daddy fussing that it was taking too long to get the dinner on the table, Mamaw Fletcher merrily ignoring him and Mother and Mamaw Webster hovering over the stove in the kitchen.

Everyone had their place and we were always playing our roles. Kids in the kitchen, sneaking into the bowls that still remained on the counter. Adults helping the elderly grandmothers or guests to their seats. Football on the tv. Dressing on the table, and it tasted so good. But how did it taste? Hopefully, like mine does nowadays.

Here is my recipe:

Sage-Cornbread Dressing

Description: Very old fashioned and good tasting. As good as Mama Wera’s. I usually double all the ingredients to make a lot. It will take two 13×9x2-inch baking dishes when doubled.


3 cups crumbled cornbread

2 cups coarsely crumbled day-old bread

2 cups chicken broth

2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

2 large onions, finely chopped

1 cup finely chopped celery

1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted

1 tablespoon dried whole sage, crushed

Directions: Combine all ingredients; stir well. Spoon mixture into a lightly greased 13×9x2-inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until golden brown.

Number Of Servings:8 to 10

Preparation Time:1 hour

23 Nov 2004 04:22 pm

Well, kinda sorta. Maybe. He’ll be around until next March and then will continue “reporting” on Sixty Minutes.No word on the “investigation.” No word on any firing of Rather or Mapes or Heyward. Not that I care. I haven’t watched CBS in years and doubt that I would recognize Rather on the street if I met him. Except for the photos of him on the internet he could be bald for all I know. Or have had a nose job or be wearing nose rings or have tatoos on his forehead or elsewhere.

22 Nov 2004 06:14 pm

I was shocked Saturday night to discover that President Bush had to rescue his Secret Service agent from the police of Chile. I of course enjoyed watching the footage of the President “getting it done” but I am bothered that he may have been in danger too. I will be glad when he gets home. Here is a great article by Matt Margolis.

18 Nov 2004 06:32 pm

November 2nd, 2004 started quietly for me. My husband and I had decided to vote before going to work and we were at our voting place fifteen minutes before it opened. There were about ten people in line before us and by the time we had finished voting the line was out the door. I noticed that most of the people were middle aged like us. Only one twenty something in the line.

So we went to work. Around noon I had a break that enabled me to check out the internet. There wasn’t a lot of news except the reports of the votes already being on the voting machines in PA. So I got back to work and had a busy afternoon. After work I had a meeting to go to that I couldn’t avoid.

I turned on the radio and listened to a very tense Sean Hannity talking about the exit polls. That was a jolt to me and very hard to believe. I really didn’t believe it. I went to my meeting and finally returned home around five in the afternoon and fired up the computer again so I could listen to the Hugh Hewitt Show. I also got on his blog.

Ahhhhhh……..Hugh. What a voice of reason. I read his report and listened to his account of the bogus exit polls and began to believe again. I had decided earlier that whether the election was good or bad I wasn’t going to let it ruin my day. I had invited my sister and her sons to spend the night and as we listened to Hugh the news kept getting better. I had a confidence that never flagged that night.

It turned out to be a long one. I took the mute off my channel changer after Hugh’s show ended on the station that I was listening to on the internet and listened to Brit Hume call Florida for Bush. After what seemed like forever he also called Ohio for Bush. Around two A.M. I went to bed. I was the lone awake person in the house (but I enjoy being Wide Awake) and the burst of joy that I was feeling in my heart had to be contained so that I wouldn’t disturb the sleep of those who were sleeping.

16 Nov 2004 08:05 pm

I discovered a vile comment left on a post that I wrote last August by someone who must be literally foaming at the mouth that President Bush was re-elected. There have been other quite unfriendly comments but I had chosen to ignore them but not anymore.

14 Nov 2004 06:44 am

From IowaHawk this article is hilarious. It starts like this……

“I’m not sure where we went wrong,” says Ellen McCormack, nervously fondling the recycled paper cup holding her organic Kona soy latte. “It seems like only yesterday Rain was a carefree little boy at the Montessori school, playing non-competitive musical chairs with the other children and his care facilitators.”

“But now…” she pauses, staring out the window of her postmodern Palo Alto home. The words are hesitant, measured, bearing a tale of family heartbreak almost too painful for her to recount. “But now, Rain insists that I call him Bobby Ray.”

11 Nov 2004 04:56 am

As I go off to work on this Veterans Day I will be thinking about the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and those who are serving and have served all over the world. Many in my own family. May God bless all of them and their families.