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Friday in the snow

It’s another Friday. Down to my last month at work. Snow on the ground. Cold and windy. 

Nothing earth shattering in the news. Death, hate, war, celebrities, rich people, poor people, homeless people, bad politics, lawsuits, repeat. My crisis of the week? Didn’t have one. Actually I haven’t been out of the house all week. I’m reading a book called Up Like Thunder by Colin T. Nelson. A VIP’s daughter goes missing in Burma (Myanmar) and this Private Investigator goes looking for her. It is kind of slow moving but interesting. Lots of color on Burma. I’m about half way through, will finish it this week. 

St Paul is full of skyways connecting the buildings downtown. I use them all the time to get around out of the cold. They are all on the second floor of the buildings. From my window I can see one lone skyway way above the street that connects two buildings. It is thought to be the world’s first modern skyway, built in 1931. Merchants Bank and First National Bank merged and the buildings were next to each other. The floor heights were different so the skyway connects one building’s 16th floor with the other building’s 17th floor. It is a private skyway so, unless you work at the bank, you won’t be able to use it. It is the tallest skyway in the Twin Cities. And it is green.

I leave you with Poem VIII from Pablo Neruda’s Book of Questions:

What is it that upsets the volcanoes
that spit fire, cold and rage?

Why wasn’t Christopher Columbus
able to discover Spain?

How many questions does a cat have?

Do tears not yet spilled
wait in small lakes?

Or are they invisible rivers
that run toward sadness?

Ponder that…..

Armistice, Veteran, Poppy, Remembrance Day

photo of poppy field
Photo by Elina Sazonova on Pexels.com

Happy Veterans Day. Or Armistice Day. Or Remembrance Day. Or Poppy Day.

I went to a British grade school in Mexico City.  We wore a uniform.  I was 7 years old. In November of my first year, kids started showing up with red paper poppies pinned to the lapel of their blazers.  I had never heard of Poppy Day but I loved the color added to the otherwise mundane clothing.  I bought one and wore it even though I didn’t understand why. I looked forward to it every year. That splash of red.

It was the 11th month, 11th day, 11th hour when hostilities ended.   It was the end of the First World War, the war to end all wars. Poppies bloomed all across the fields where the battles were fought and lives were lost. A sea of red.

My first trip to Paris was over Armistice Day weekend. I was 16, and wandering around on my own. The city was empty. I was the only person at Napoleon’s tomb. I remember it was snowing that day.

In Washington, DC, Veteran’s day always meant Rolling Thunder. Motorcycles from all over the country converged on the Vietnam Memorial. They used to parade down to the Mall from Virginia and Maryland. You could hear them all morning. I was there for the 25th anniversary when they expected 500,000 motorcycles. It was impressive.

Dreamers

Soldiers are citizens of death’s grey land,
Drawing no dividend from time’s to-morrows. 
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win 
Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
They think of firelit homes, clean beds and wives.

I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain, 
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
And mocked by hopeless longing to regain 
Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,
And going to the office in the train.
by Siegfried Sassoon, Selected Poems (1968)

I voted on Tuesday. I was relieved the red wave turned into a pink drizzle.
It also got dark this week. Short Dark Days until the end of the year.

We made this yummy cake earlier this week. It is gluten free in case anybody cares.

Almond Cake

4 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
2.25 cups finely ground almonds (I use almond flour)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Separate eggs into 2 large bowls.
Beat yolks, gradually incorporating 3/4 cup sugar
Fold in the almond flour

Whisk the egg whites until foamy.
Gradually beat in 1/4 cup sugar
Continue to beat until stiff

Stir 1/3 egg whites in to almond mixture, then carefully fold in remaining egg whites in 2 batches.
Pour batter into buttered 9-inch cake pan and bake about 30 minutes.

Allow to cool.
Dust with powdered sugar.

drive empty highway lane

Friday Exploration

pexels-photo-5988878.jpeg
Photo by Łukasz Kondracki on Pexels.com

I watched a documentary this week on Prime called the Bikes of Wrath. Five young Australian guys who loved John Steinbeck’s book, The Grapes of Wrath, decided to retrace the trip. On bicycles. They started out with about $400 which was the equivalent of what the Joad family had when they set out. They traveled 2,600 miles on Route 66 from Oklahoma to California over 30 days. It doesn’t really work, though. These guys are well educated, fairly affluent and competent guys from another country. They are welcomed time and again by locals putting their best foot forward. People living in poverty hand them money and food and provide lodging and care. They are overwhelmed with generosity.  Because they are making a movie? Because they are non-threatening? Because they are white? Because they are male? I must say I did not have a very positive experience the time I got lost in Amarillo, Texas in the 70’s. Maybe times have changed….

I love the British Baking Show as much as the next person. But Mexican Week? Really? Brits making tacos? It was somewhat amusing to watch. They had no idea. Even the judges were a bit embarrassing in their ignorance. Luckily this week they were back on task.

Speaking of Brits and embarrassing moments… How about that Prime Minister? Five weeks must be some kind of record.

I spoke to a woman last week who said she is convinced our doom is imminent. Within the next 20 years. Climate change will destroy us all. Pollution, disease, financial collapse, food and water shortages. I think there is something in our brain that deflects all of that. When I was little, my mother was all over that. Fifty years ago, she worried about teeming landfills, water conservation, power shortages, and communicable diseases. I guess she was ahead of her time. Or was it because we lived in developing countries where all that existed already? I’ve read my share of science fiction. I know what is possible. Why can’t politicians have brains? Why can’t policy makers wake up?

Enough. Deflect deflect deflect.

And now for something completely different… (click for larger view)

I leave you with something sweet.

Lemon Sponge Pudding

Combine:

3/4  cup sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel
1 1/2 Tbsp. soft butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2 egg yolks, beaten

Add:    

1/4 cup lemon juice
1 cup milk
(Mixture may have curdled appearance, but no matter)

Beat:    

2 egg whites until stiff and fold into mixture.

Pour into buttered 1.5 quart casserole.

Place in pan of hot water

Bake at 325°F uncovered 40-45 min or until set (1 hr).

Serve warm or chilled.  I like it warm!