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Archive for December, 2010

letting go
Letting Go, one of the themes at the Natalie Goldberg silent retreat in Taos, December 2010,  collage made of magazine paper, wax crayons, and pen and ink in Moleskine journal, image © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 
 
 

It was strange to find myself sitting in the zendo at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, our teacher Natalie Goldberg urging us to Let Go. I had just a few weeks before made the decision to leave red Ravine, although QuoinMonkey and I had agreed to wait until the end of the year to make the announcement. Though not intended as such, the week in Taos could be a test of how ready I was to let go of this special virtual space that had inspired and sustained me for so long.
 
mabel's houseIt was in Taos, after all, that red Ravine was born. The year—2006. QM and I, having already written together for some time, are both participating in a four-season Intensive with Natalie Goldberg. This Intensive is part of a bigger plan I have for myself, a wannabe writer-and-artist withering away inside the body of a corporate manager and breadwinner for my family of four. I am bored and unhappy. I want to write and do art, but I can’t seem to motivate myself to do much with either except to dream about it. QM and I and a couple of others hatch red Ravine over intense working sessions in Taos and through the phone lines while back at our respective homes. Setting up a blog is hard work, but it is also real. For the first time, I am motivated to do more than fantasize about writing and making art. red Ravine promises to be the impetus to actually producing. 
 
Those first two years of creating red Ravine, QM and I worked our butts off and had a blast doing it. The blog was a perfect outlet for the deep, low creative growl that the Intensive seemed to unleash within us. Some days we posted more than once, and often we had to make sure that we weren’t publishing over one another. For my part, I was making art like crazy. After years of being fearful of the lack of control inherent in a brush (as compared to a pencil), I took a workshop at Ghost Ranch and learned to paint. My corporate job changed around the same time, too. I landed an assignment that took me back and forth to Vietnam. I bought myself a slew of different colored inking pens and began using the long trips back and forth as opportunity to take on a doodling practice.

QuoinMonkey and I worked surprisingly well together. We were both committed to the idea of a creating a space where we would each be inspired and where we might inspire others. She brought to red Ravine and to me her strong values around Community and Giving Back. Her thoughtful and thorough turtle complemented my quick and often irreverent spirit. (What animal am I anyway? The brown bird, I guess.) We found ourselves in synch whenever we wanted to try something new or make a change. We pushed each other to do our best.
 
 
what I learned

 
mabel's house 2 for red ravineOne of the things I love about Taos and Mabel’s place is how they never seem to change. Here I am, early December 2010, and I’m crossing the same flagstone patio that I walked those years ago back when red Ravine was still an infant. Over the past several years, I’ve brought my daughters here, and my husband. I bring my father back each year after we clean his parents’ graves in Costilla, 42 miles north. One summer he laid some of these very flagstones,when he was about 16 and living on Morada Lane in a house with a storefront.

It doesn’t matter what I have accomplished, what roles I have taken on in the years since I’ve been back. Inside the zendo, Natalie reminds us to Let Go. For me this means letting go of my responsibilities, my ego, any self-assigned self-importance. Here, in Taos, I am zero. In my raw, stripped-down state I feel my sadness. It is deep inside me, under everything else I carry. 

My heart breaks open.
 
Letting Go in Taos means being able to clearly see that red Ravine was, in fact, the catalyst for change in my life. It means being grateful for everything I’ve learned as a result of opening up to others. Because of red Ravine, I’ve had a place to publish my writing, to experiment with and share my art, to meet other writers and artists. red Ravine has been Muse, sounding board, supportive audience, friend, family, mentor.

I started a fledging business because of the creativity that flowed out, thanks to red Ravine. Because of this blog I’ve learned to commit to and follow through with my practices; to make jewelery; to turn unpolished writing into finished pieces; to put my creative self out into the world. I used to think I couldn’t finish anything; it took having this blog to realize that I’m an actualizer at heart. 

Of course, there are downsides to setting and realizing intentions. Jim long ago gave up complaining when I’d spend hours socked away in my writing room. But I don’t take for granted any more, not since April of this year when he collapsed on the bed clutching his heart, that he will always be there waiting when I need to take a break. And my daughters—full-fledged teenagers! Just today I accompanied my oldest for nearly an hour while she drove us all around town, adding experience under her belt in preparation for graduating from learners permit to drivers license. I don’t have much time left to influence their lives.

 
 
letting go

 

la morada (taos)At the December retreat, we walk the dirt trail out at the morada, just down the way from Mabel’s place. Natalie often takes her students there. The day we go, boys and men from Taos Pueblo run past us in the cold air. I feel alone and sheltered in my layers of warmth, and for a moment I am homesick for family and our traditions

My parents are old now. They’ve passed from the stage of old-yet-mostly-healthy to being old-and-frighteningly-frail. I visit them every Sunday. All year long I struggle to keep up with everything I have on my plate. Some weeks it feels impossible to eke out even the simplest of posts.

QM is a rock. Her posts are—like her—consistently high-quality, thorough, and deep. I am honored to have worked with her for this long.

A good friend of mine who a few years back started up his own blog had this to say when I told him I was thinking of leaving red Ravine: “Blogging has no exit strategy.” Which is another way of saying that unless you’re getting paid to do it, blogging is a labor of love. This particular labor has born much fruit. 

It has so much more potential, so much yet to become. I’m going to be here, on the other side of the screen, cheering on QM to keep moving it forward. I know I’ll always be proud to say I was a part of creating it.

Thank you for everything you’ve done, QM. Thank you to the friends I’ve met here. So long for now. See you in Comments. 8)
 
 

 

self portrait
Self Portrait, December 2010, collage made of magazine paper, wax crayons, and pen and ink in Moleskine journal, image © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

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Fresh Ginger Root & Cinnamon, BlackBerry Shots, Golden Valley, Minnesota, November 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


During the Holidays, friends and family shared two cranberry dishes that were so delicious, I’ve saved the recipes for next year. I thought I’d post them on red Ravine so they would be easy to find next time I want to whip them up. The recipes are fast and easy. Maybe you’ll want to try them, too. Even if you are not a cranberry lover, I guarantee they will not disappoint you!

_______________________________


Liz made this fresh and tangy Cranberry-Orange Relish for one of our Holiday dinners. It was even better after we left it in the fridge for a day or two. You can spread it on leftover turkey sandwiches to add a little zest; it’s also good with roast pork or chicken. One ingredient that really makes this cranberry recipe sing is the fresh ginger root (a spice that is also a winner when it comes to motion sickness!).


Cranberry-Orange Relish


12 ounces cranberries, fresh
1 medium orange, navel, washed, unpeeled & cut into chunks
1 cup sugar
1 piece ginger root, fresh, peeled, about 1-inch, chopped
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon


Put cranberries, orange, sugar, ginger and cinnamon in a food processor (we used an ordinary blender). Pulse until finely chopped. Scrape into a serving bowl (or storage container if making ahead). Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Makes 16 servings (at 2 2/3 tablespoons per serving). One tip — if you find the orange peel too strong, you can add fresh orange zest instead. Then remove the peel before cutting the orange into chunks.


_______________________________


I had this Cranberry Salsa at a potluck and it dazzled my taste buds so much, I asked for the recipe. It would be a perfect addition to New Year’s Eve. Just add your choice of chips and you are good to go. At first glance, both of these recipes look like they have a lot of sugar. But when you consider you are dealing with tart, fresh cranberries, it all evens out in the end!


Zesty Cranberry Salsa


1-12 ounce bag of cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 bunch cilantro, washed-leaves only
1 bunch green onions, washed and cut in small pieces
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and cut into small pieces
1 lime, juiced
½ scant cup white sugar
1 pinch of salt
2 cloves garlic


Combine everything but the sugar and salt into a medium food processor fitted with medium blade. Chop to medium consistency. Transfer to a glass storage container. Stir in salt and sugar until well mixed. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Enjoy!


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Cranberries & Oranges, BlackBerry Shots, Golden Valley, Minnesota,
November 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, December 26th, 2010

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sit walk write in Taos
Sit Walk Write Fly in Taos, pigeon coop at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, December 2010, collage made of magazine paper, wax crayons, and pen and ink in Moleskine journal, image © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.










Joy is s i t   w a l k  w r i t e
with Mabel’s pigeons in Taos
learning how to  f l y












-Related to posts WRITING TOPIC – JOY and haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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Joy. My heart is full of joy. Even though much of December has been a struggle. Joy is connected to giving. To the Holiday Spirit. I feel joy when I am connected to people who are close; I feel joy when I am alone, writing, doing art, sitting in silence. I live in the times between. Joy is not temporal, not limited by time or possessions or Earthly matters—like human happiness seems to be. Joy rises above the everyday slothing about. When I remember what I am grateful for, I feel joy. When I see the Downy Woodpecker at the suet feeder, I feel joy. I feel joy when I am out shoveling the driveway at 8pm, stop to stand in the snow and stillness, view the December Moon rising in the dark.

I remember a time when I was afraid to feel too much joy, or let it grow too big in my life. I was afraid of what would be left behind when it vanished. I waited for the other shoe to fall. I feel more connected to a Higher Power these days. I believe in what I cannot see. Joy lives in the invisible places. Tears that well up when I watch a sappy movie; the director’s vision, a tugboat of joy. Things no longer bring me joy. They might make me happy for an hour, a few days. But I’m not in the mood to accumulate things to fill the Void.

Driving through the snowstorm this week, I started thinking about the future. A solid Cancer/Taurus combo, I dwell mainly in the Present or the Past. The Future, it’s not here yet. I have to sit down and make myself plan. That’s where a yearly practice comes into play. Scheduling time in the studio, writing retreats, or art events. Goals, deadlines, something I can shoot for in the creative fields. What I was thinking about on my drive along snow packed roads and layers of black ice, is that if I live a full life, I may only have a good 30 years left. Then I started to panic. I have so many books I want to write, so many photographs I want to take, so much love. How will 30 years ever be enough?

The thought process continued over lettuce, ham & cheese, past the Grain Belt sign on the Northeast Gateway, and around the bend where the Mississippi River crosses the Plymouth bridge. Then it came to a screeching halt. There are no guarantees that I will live to the end of the day. I am planning for the future; I don’t know if I will even be alive. I still need to plan. But it’s not where I’m going that matters. It is where I am. The panic subsides. This morning I am too serious. Yet the Joy — she’s still there.

No matter what happens, I feel like I have already lived a full life. During one of my 10-year, single jags after art school, I started a timeline of my life. I drew a long thick line on a yellow parchment scroll, began with the year I was born, and started marking in significant life events. The scroll is rolled up on a shelf in my art studio. I want to take it out and look at where I left off. It’s been at least 7 years, maybe longer, since I added a new cairn. It’s a way that I honor my life, the fact that I have walked on the Earth. I am only a small dot on the planet, loved by a few, invisible to most. It’s easy to get lost. The visual teaches me to pay attention to what has passed; it informs the future.

Joy is a day of making art, writing a story, working on photographs, posting on red Ravine. Joy is not fleeting like happiness. It’s always there, waiting for me to recognize its face. Joy is not what numbs me. Joy is the first strawberry on the vine, the Strawberry Moon, the Winter Solstice, Summer in Minnesota. Joy is a film that moves, a tumble in the hay, a Stripeypants in the hand, a Kiev curled in a ball next to me on the couch. Joy is a loving partner, a new dream, the center of the labyrinth, along the edges, too. Joy is a handful of October leaves, tumbling down a mountain path. Joy is a Giant Moon rising over the Bitterroots, half in Shadow. Joy is Light.


-related to Topic post:  WRITING TOPIC — JOY

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Joy is the giant snowflakes that fell last Thursday night after a solid day of rain. The temperature dipped below freezing and the water turned to slush then white fluffy flakes. Dee ran outside and took photos with her iPhone, she later showed me the flakes, which looked to be about the size of big white apple blossom clusters.

Joy is the bed Jim made for us on the patio the night of the lunar eclispe. I’d fallen asleep on the living room couch, the girls in their beds, and he roused us all from sleep. Come on out, he said, I have a cozy spot for you to lay down. We piled into the sleeping bags that he’d placed on a mattress, then he covered us with a Pendleton blanket and another blanket, we were warm and for about a half hour, up to midnight, we could see shadow creep across the lower right hand corner of the moon.

Joy is the woman who I saw standing in front of Walmart with her Salvation Army bell and kettle, she was thin, wore a red sweater and red Santa hat, but other than that she had no costume, and I admired her courage to stand in front of the automatic doors as shoppers walked all around her, in and out, in and out, paying her little mind. She shook that bell, smiled at everyone and said Merry Christmas. What drives a woman my age to be on that side of the shopping experience?, I wondered and wished we could trade places so that I could ring and remember that this was the true meaning of Christmas.

Joy is the Christmas lights last night, a pale blue, the kind you know have been around for decades, each year more of the blue paint on the bulbs chips away or fades until what remains is a ghost of the color covering the white light, an uneven string of blue, blue-white, white, all around the roofline of the house. Those are my favorite lights although I love any place that’s lit up, this is, after all, the season of light.

Joy is our Christmas tree, it’s a live one, or rather, cut, and we don’t usually go in for buying cut trees but we got one this year, I like the way it’s not perfect or symmetrical, how big vacant spots open up between boughs and even after I hang three or four ornaments in them I still see plenty of empty space.

Joy is sitting in a cafe with friends, drinking too much coffee, not thinking about what you still have to do or not do, just being present to the moment, Joy is Taos in December, sit walk write, just being, just sitting, just writing.

Joy is the few minutes I have left in this write, the sound of the space heater, the taste of coffee with soy milk, the Christmas cards I got even though I once again didn’t get mine out on time, Joy is the misshappen tamales I made with Mom and Bobbi and the girls, they will be the laughing stock of Christmas Eve, and see?, that’s Joy.


-Related to post WRITING TOPIC – JOY

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Fire & Ice

Fire & Ice, Winter Solstice Celebration, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2010, photos © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Sitting, staring out the window. The Hairy Woodpecker has found our suet feeder. This year we moved the deck feeders two feet South to protect them from the squirrels. The rodents can jump about 4 feet from the deck rail to the feeders if they put their minds to it. I love the woodpeckers and am happy they have found a safe place to feed for the Winter.

Last night we celebrated Winter Solstice. Holding On, Letting Go Letting go of what we want to leave in the Dark, making conscious choices about what to bring into the Light. I was quiet, more withdrawn than usual. Liz wore the Bear this year. I loved watching her dance down the path, calmly and playfully.

Ice Candle The night was cloudy, with a frigid West Wind blowing right into our faces. My fingers grew numb; I pulled them into my coat to keep warm. Homemade ice candles lit the path down to the fire ring. We didn’t hear the coyotes. Or the Great Horned Owl from last year. There were times when we stood by the fire in complete Silence. Other moments when drums and rattles were going full force. The drummer in me is happy at these rituals.

Morning finds me tired, sore, smelling like smoke from last year’s Yule tree. Solar Tree It’s 4 degrees as I type. A powerful Solstice is a day away. What makes it so potent is something that has not happened in 450 years — the combination of a Winter Solstice Blue Moon (the original meaning of a Blue Moon was Four Full Moons in one season) which coincides with a Total Lunar Eclipse.

According to NASA, an eclipse of the Moon can only take place at Full Moon, and only if the Moon passes through some portion of Earth’s Winter Solstice Fireshadow. Unlike a Solar Eclipse, it is safe to view with the naked eye. From a Shamanic perspective, the Total Lunar Eclipse collapses time and accelerates what’s already in motion. The rare Winter Solstice Full Moon Total Lunar Eclipse is a time that creates maximum synchronization of Solar and Lunar cycles, strengthening the power and intensity of the Sun and Moon together. When this happens the New Year brings increased understanding of a larger cycle of events at work in the world, and of lineage, the knowledge passed down from the Ancients.


Here are the times for Solstice & Eclipse events in Minnesota (CST):

Total Eclipse of the Moon — Tuesday, December 21st, 1:41am to 2:53am CST
Full Blue Moon in Gemini — Tuesday, December 21st, 2:13am CST
Winter Solstice 2010 — Tuesday, December 21st, at 5:38pm CST


Hours to view the reddish hues of the eclipsed December Moon vary, depending on where you live. In Europe and the eastern United States and Canada (time zones AST, Tiny Solstice MoonEST and CST), the entire eclipse occurs during the early morning hours of December 21, 2010. For the western United States and Canada (time zones MST and PST), the eclipse begins before midnight on the night of December 20, and ends sometime after midnight on the morning of December 21. In Alaska and Hawaii (time zones AKST and HST), most of the eclipse occurs on the night of December 20, but ends early on December 21.

You can find official times in your area at Mr. Eclipse and a detailed breakdown of the phases of this year’s Winter Solstice Total Lunar Eclipse. If you don’t feel like braving the elements, NASA is providing a live webcam at their site.


Another year is coming to a close. The frost on our windows tells me Winter is here to stay. We have had a cold December. One that finds pleasure in mimicking the sub-zero temps we usually see in January. And the snow! Almost three feet of it. Last weekend we were digging out. This weekend, back to the mundane chores of living. Chop wood, carry water. You can’t get away from it. Blue sky peeks over the oaks and ash. The woodpecker has flown from the feeder; a Lunar Eclipse is on the way.


2004 Lunar Eclipse Sequence, (c) 2004 Fred Espenak, courtesy Fred Espenak, Mr. Eclipse at http://www.mreclipse.com


-posted on red Ravine, Monday, December 20th, 2010 , partially based on a Sunday Writing Practice about Frost

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Joy Is, Joy Is Not, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis,
Minnesota, December 2010, photo © 2010 by
QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


The days are dark, the nights long. Five days until Winter Solstice. Holidays draw us to friends and family, gift giving, service work. I want to go inside. Reflective heat, ambient light. Darkroom blues. I have spent hours under red safelights in black and white darkrooms. What color is Joy?

At times when there is the least light, we need to find ways to tap more joy. I look to the small things. Sunrise, Tuesday morning. Snowstorm, Friday night. Digging out. Digging deep. An old recipe. A new flame. Joy takes many forms. Clay dangling from red string. One new liver. Two hibernating black bears. Three things I am grateful for.

Some are afraid to feel the full strength of Joy. The intensity makes them fearful. What if Joy leaves in the middle of the night. How will I fill the hole.

What brings you joy?

Joy is a giant taproot of swirling lava at the center of the Earth. Joy is a burning ember in the middle of an indigo night. Behind every Black Dog, Joy sits like the mountain.

Write I feel joy at the top of your Writing Practice notebook. Or sink into the underbelly — I don’t feel joy

Joy is, Joy is not. Ten minutes, Go!


-posted on red Ravine, Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

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Balloons
Balloons, paint, pen & ink on vellum, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, December 2010, photo © 2010 by Louis Robertson. All rights reserved.


While we were digging out from a December blizzard in Minnesota, my brother was painting in Pennsylvania. His transplant recovery is going well. He’s driving again, working full-time, and almost able to lift as much as he could before the surgery. We chatted a little about his painting when we talked on the phone this morning. I asked what it meant. He said, “What does it mean to you?”

I see layers. Color. Community and separation. Vellum, which resembles parchment paper, is an unusual medium which was once prepared from the skin of a young animal, like calf or lamb. The word is derived from the Old French Vélin, for “calfskin.” These days paper or vegetable vellum is commonly used for technical drawings and blueprints. I always look at paper and media choices when I look at art. Process is important to me.

Maybe it’s a piece about process. On the other hand, the painting could simply be a bundle of balloons. What do you see in his painting? What does it mean to you?


-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, December 12th, 2010

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View from The Gatehouse,” Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos,
December 8, 2010, photo © 2010 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

 





Sleepwalking I arrive
but silence awakens me
to our suffering










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On this second full day of silence, something snaps. I thought I came here because: I had vacation time to kill, I wanted to give myself a gift, it had been a long time since I’d been to a silent retreat in Taos with Natalie Goldberg. Today I am reminded that this is not play. When I go into silence, pain emerges. I wake up.

A quick step out of silence to give you an update, QM. I am also reminded that I met you here, that our friendship was created in silence and through the humanity and compassion we find when we come here. I am grateful for you, for all the friends I have met through Taos, and for everything I have learned about myself through coming here.

I am not writing much since arriving. In fact, I have only thus far written in the zendo during collective Writing Practice. Outside of class, I have spent my free time in The Gatehouse, where I’m staying. I’ve read, slept, and worked on collages. After I publish this post, I might venture out for a walk. I crave the cold air in my lungs.

It is good to be here, to wake up to all of me. To be humbled again.

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-Related to posts Sitting in Silence and haiku 2 (one-a-day)

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shadow auto 2

Moon Over Taos Mountain, Taos, New Mexico, January 2003, Tri-X black & white film print, photo © 2003-2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


December marks a time of darkness and silent reflection leading up to the Winter Solstice. Most Decembers, Natalie holds a writing retreat around the time of December 1st through 8th. In Zen, this time is called Rohatsu Sesshin and marks the enlightenment of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama. For those heading to Taos to write, it’s a time of community solitude, an opportunity to go within.

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Slow Walking, Natalie Goldberg, Taos, New Mexico, January 2003, Tri-X B&W film print, photo © 2003-2011 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

This week ybonesy and several other writing friends will be making the jouney to Taos to sit in silence. I find comfort in knowing they will be there under Taos Mountain. When they sit, they sit for all of us. The zendo casts a wide circle. Everything is connected. We can sit and write in solidarity.

There will be long nights under Mabel’s lights and slow walks into Taos. Some will walk the morada, visit the graves of Mabel and Frieda, soak up places that Georgia walked on her first visits to New Mexico. Notebooks will be filled with Writing Practices, later to be reread.

Whatever’s at the surface will fall away. What’s important is what is underneath.  Underbelly.


Sit, Walk, Write. With Gratitude to a long lineage of mentors and teachers. For all that has come before. And all that will be.


Note: ybonesy and I met in Taos at a Writing Retreat. We’ll be forever connected by that thread. And the practice that became red Ravine. We’ve written many pieces on our time spent in Taos. To learn more about Sit, Walk, Write or our experience of studying with Natalie Goldberg at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, check out the links in this post. Or click on any of the posts under Taos. With Gratitude to our readers, those at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Natalie, and all the writers and artists who keep showing up to brave the silence. We are all in this together.


–posted on red Ravine, Sunday, December 5th, 2010

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Taco Soup

Taco Soup, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Family Recipes

Family Recipes, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




Simple Taco Soup


1 lb. lean ground beef
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can Mexican chili beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
1 large can petite diced tomatoes
1 package taco seasoning mix


Brown ground beef and stir in the taco seasoning. Add canned veggies and simmer until flavors are blended — about 20 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top with your choice of cheese, sour cream, cilantro, or tortilla chips.




Top With Your Choice

Top With Your Choice, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Comfort Food - Taco Soup

Comfort Food - Taco Soup, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Sometimes it’s a gift to be a product of a blended family. There are different sets of parents, plumes of siblings, cousins galore. When I was in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago visiting my brother after his liver transplant, part of my Southern family showed up on the doorstep and surprised me. After driving the 10 hours from South Carolina, they literally stepped right out of the front seat of their car and into my brother’s kitchen. They came bearing gifts for a celebration of Thanksgiving. It was the first time in 45 years the Robertson side of the family had been together.

Though I’m not much of a cook, I love easy-to-make meals. One of my favorite gifts was a spiral bound recipe book. Daddy and Judy had handwritten simple recipes they collected from different members of the family. And behind the pages of the recipe cards, they tucked vintage family snapshots.


Like this one:


April 1973

April 1973, Vintage Family Snapshot In Recipe Book, Morristown, Tennessee, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


If you look closely, you might spot me there in Tennessee, in a half circle with my paternal grandparents, Ada and Jess, smirking behind that 70’s smile. So many memories.

Back in Minnesota, it’s a lot colder, and I’m a lot older. I pull the ground beef out of the freezer and open the handmade recipe book to Taco Soup. Since I’m late getting home, Liz starts dinner (if you are from the South, you might say “supper”), and I walk right into the middle smell of a family memory. The recipe book makes a creative Holiday gift. All you need are recipe cards, a fast writing pen, and a strong wrist. Food and family photos are a natural combination, a memory maker that keeps on giving.


-posted on red Ravine, with gratitude to my family, Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

-related to post: Memories, Writing, & Family Recipes

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