Gratuitious recipe post, because I made up this recipe the other night, and it turned out to be really good:

Buffalo chicken enchiladas

Two boneless chicken breasts
Half a bottle of your favorite wing sauce
Eight corn tortillas
Shredded cheddar
Can of enchilada sauce
Sprinkle of cumin
Sprinkle of chili powder
Sour cream (or jalapeno chip dip, if you prefer)
Black olives

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put chicken breasts in Crock-Pot with wing sauce and cook on low for several hours. When chicken is cooked through, let it cool, then shred with a fork. Divide chicken among tortillas, sprinkle with cheese, and roll up. Place tortillas in casserole dish. Cover with enchilada sauce, sprinkle with spices and more cheddar, and bake until cheese is melted and enchiladas are heated thoroughly. Garnish with sour cream and black olives.

I imagine you could make these with Mexican rice instead of chicken and have a pretty good vegetarian dinner.

A high note

A few weeks ago, we noticed our retired racing greyhound, Jason, displaying some symptoms associated with an old elbow injury he’d apparently suffered on the track before we adopted him.

In her book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy assures us that “whatever it is your duty to do, you can do without harm to yourself” … and while we can debate the relative morality of the greyhound racing industry, there’s no question that on the track, it was Jason’s duty to run as fast as he could and do his best to win the race.

In working to understand that Jason could not be harmed by carrying out his duties as a racer, I experienced a sudden healing of my own.

I’ve always enjoyed singing, and I’ve always had a high soprano range … but after spending the better end of a year living directly downwind of an oil refinery and straining to be heard above the noisy, unruly high-school English students I was trying to teach, I found that my range had lost half an octave off its top end, and singing at all — even in my lower register — left my throat sore and my eyes brimming with tears of frustration and disappointment.

Like Jason, I’d spent years suffering as a result of the incorrect belief that right action (in my case, teaching) had somehow exposed me to a set of circumstances (air pollution, vocal stress) under which I could be irreparably harmed.

As I worked to understand the falseness of that belief as it applied to Jason’s situation, I found myself in the car, singing along with a recording of Sarah Brightman doing a song from The Phantom of the Opera that contains a cadenza with a high B-flat at the end.

I hadn’t been able to hit that note in years … but suddenly, without thinking about it at all, I caught myself singing the entire cadenza — including the high note — without a trace of discomfort or difficulty.

My voice was healed.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Jason was back to normal within a day or two as well … and I must say, he’s been remarkably patient about his mistress’ sudden compulsion to sing almost constantly, too.

Good dog.


Ulee’s Gold

We watched Ulee’s Gold tonight. If you haven’t seen it, go rent it. It’s good. Peter Fonda plays a beekeeper in Florida. His performance is very understated, which is just what the role calls for, and we liked the fact that they got the details right in the scenes where he was working with his bees.

On a semi-related note, Ron is going to get me a bee suit so I can work our hive with him. I get such joy out of sharing honey with our friends — especially seeing the looks on their faces when they realize the honey was made right in our backyard, by our bees — and I’d really like to add another hive or two next year so we have more honey to share and maybe even a little to sell. I don’t think it’s fair for Ron to have to do all the work taking care of said hives, so I’m going to put on a bee suit and go out there and learn what he’s doing so I can help more next year. If it goes well, maybe we can add a couple of hives every year until we’ve got enough to justify the cost of an extractor. That’d be cool.


Glowing history

This sign used to hang on the Bryan Furniture store in West Frankfort, Ill. The company also has a location in Herrin, so when the West Frankfort store closed this spring, the owner had his spectacular neon sign — which was something of a family heirloom — restored and moved it to the Herrin store.

I could tell you how gorgeous the sign is, or how amazing it looks with its elaborate animation, but I think the pictures speak for themselves:







You have no idea how effective that sign is at attracting attention. It’s impossible not to look at it when it’s flashing and changing colors and spelling out the word “BRYAN.” You can see it over half a mile away. It’s a glorious bit of commercial art — every bit as nice as anything in Albuquerque.


Bat boy found in Southern Illinois


Sweet Baby James models his stylin’ new bat hat.

I had a lovely weekend playing with Jamie, visiting my family, photographing Jamie, playing with Jamie, eating food I hadn’t had in years, playing with Jamie, photographing an utterly gorgeous neon sign with the most elaborate animation I’ve ever seen, playing with Jamie, hanging out in Carbondale, playing with Jamie, buying toys for Jamie, having my picture taken in a photo booth with Jamie (scan forthcoming), and playing with Jamie.


Jamie is really into drumming right now. He has figured out that an empty orange juice carton makes a good conga.


Lamb Chop and Grandpa are Jamie’s two best friends. Here he is with both of them. He wasn’t too sure about my camera, which is bigger than the one his grandma uses to take pictures of him all the time.

Another thing Jamie loves is playing horsie on Grandpa’s knee. What you can’t tell from the picture is how hilarious his hat looks when he does this. Every time he bounced, the little bat wings would flap. Ridiculous.


This isn’t the best picture I shot this weekend, but it’s one of my favorites. The stuffed animal in Jamie’s arms is my old Pooh bear. Pooh was my best friend for the first five years of my life. He’s not very soft or cuddly anymore, because I loved all the fuzz off of him when I was little, but he’s still pretty huggable, and Jamie seemed content to hold him while he slept.

I’ll post more images from my trip when I get them worked up, but in the meantime, I’m starving, and I hear a bowl of chili calling me, so I think I’ll head over to Stroud for dinner.

Hope your weekend was good.



Gratuitous recipe post as I throw together something simple for dinner this evening:

Refried beans

Your favorite kind of fat (vegetable oil, bacon grease, whatever floats your boat)
Can of pinto beans, drained
About 1/4 c. chopped onion (frozen is fine)
Minced garlic to taste
Can of tomatoes, drained
Small can of chopped green chiles (OK to substitute fresh peppers if you have some)
Cumin to taste
Chili powder to taste

Put everything in a heavy skillet and cook on high until the onion is clear, stirring as needed to keep the beans from burning. Mash with a potato masher, heat through, and serve with rice, chips, or as a filling for burritos. I sprinkled mine with a little Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt and am scooping it up with Tia Rosa Megathin Tortilla Chips, which are my favorite.

I like this recipe because it’s cheap, good, and faster than driving through Taco Bell … plus I usually have all the ingredients on hand, so I can make it on nights when I’m just puttering around the house in my pajamas.

On a totally unrelated note: I have two volunteer cucumber vines coming up in the garden. I hope they have time to set fruit before winter. I love late-season volunteers. (Speaking of gardening, I need to finish the supports for the potting table and get some pavers and plastic to turn it into a passive-solar greenhouse so I can grow spinach and lettuce on the patio this winter. Cold-frame salads are so reassuring….)

Hope you’re enjoying your evening.




If the disciple is advancing spiritually, he is striving to enter in. He constantly turns away from material sense, and looks towards the imperishable things of Spirit.
— Mary Baker Eddy

Sunflowers are my favorite flower, partly because they’re pretty and fun to grow, and partly because I love the spiritual implications of their growth habits.

Sunflowers have a curious tendency to thrive in areas that seem unfit for human habitation: blighted neighborhoods, harsh climates, industrial wastelands. I actually saw some growing in the middle of a toxic waste dump at a notorious Superfund site a few years ago, their stems as tall as a man and their unruly branches covered with a profusion of bright yellow blossoms with big dark centers.

Rather than letting the apparent barrenness of their surroundings distract them or interfere with their natural expression of growth and beauty, these dazzling wildflowers focus all their attention on the sun, following it through the day and waiting patiently through the night for it to return. Even when storms shove them over and bring them low, they continue to bloom, undaunted, constantly turning toward the light, constantly expressing Life and beauty to areas that desperately need it.

I have lessons to learn from sunflowers….


P.S.: I shot the photo above on Route 66 near Tucumcari during our recent trip to New Mexico. The oddly shaped mesa in the background is Tucumcari Mountain.


As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been toying with the idea of rearranging my blog’s furniture for several weeks. I have several reasons, but most of them are boring, so I’ll just give you the upshot.

If you’ve been peeking in during the past 24 hours, you know that I test-drove a watercolor painting I’d done featuring downtown Red Fork as part of my blog header. It wasn’t bad, but after sleeping on it and looking at it again this morning, I just wasn’t feeling it. The main thing I like about Red Fork is its sturdy, gritty, blue-collar sensibility, which just doesn’t come across in a froufrou little watercolor.

The old image wasn’t quite the right size for the new template, so while I was editing it to fit, I went ahead and tried a new name to go with it. I like it. I think it fits me — and my blog — a little better.

There’s a long story behind the name change, but the Cliff’s Notes version is that both the blog and I have outgrown convenient catch-all labels. I like to define myself on my own terms, and that’s hard to do when I’m embracing a label that carries a litany of connotations imposed on it by other people. And even without others’ impositions, my own definition of the term is too narrow to contain my whole identity. I’m afraid I’ve reduced myself to a caricature, which doesn’t suit me at all.

Does my individuality contain a great many “hippie” elements? Absolutely. But it’s a whole lot bigger than that, and its many aspects find expression in different ways at different times, depending on the circumstances and the sensibility I bring to the moment. In the end, we’re all children of God — “neither Jew nor Greek, … neither bond nor free, … neither male nor female,” neither hippie nor Establishment — and it doesn’t make sense to confine ourselves within a single, limiting term.

To quote a celebrity from my home state: “I yam what I yam.”