Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Shredded wheat/Candied Ginger Scones

It's rare to have a rainy day in late June in our part of California.  Being inside during a rain brings on the baker in me.  I love the smell of cakes, cornbread, scones, brownies filling the house.  Today I promised Ron I'd make one of his favorites:  Shredded Wheat Scones.  We got this recipe from the SF Chronicle food pages about fifteen years ago.  I've made it dozens of times.  I've added a frosting to make it wicked.  I get a jar of Lavender sauce (lavender elixier in a sugar syrup) at the Farmer's market.  I use the liquid to moisten powdered sugar to make an icing.  Yum.  Here is the recipe.

Harvey’s Shredded wheat and Candied Ginger Scones

1 cup crushed shredded wheat cereal (two large or about two cups bite-sized)
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
2/3 cup candied ginger cut into tiny pieces
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter at room temp
½ cup milk (or can use half and half or cream for even richer taste)
1 egg
(a few tablespoons of milk to glaze tops before baking)

Icing  (Mix sugar with liquid until consistency of icing to dribble)
1 cup powdered sugar
Lemon juice or Lavender syrup or just milk(about 1 Tablespoon)

Preheat oven to    375-400 degrees
Stir and toss together cereal flour, sugar, ginger, baking powder, salt.  Once well mixed add the butter and with your fingers or a pastry blender mix the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.  (Will not be fully consistent or smooth.  Bumpy is good)
Mix egg and milk together well.  Then add liquid to flour mixture.  Stir until combined.  It will be sticky and soft.  Now turn this gloppy mess out onto a counter or board that has lots of flour.  Knead gently about 10 times until you have a ball all holding together.  Flatten ball unto about a half  inch- 2/3 inch.  Cut the whole thing into triangles or square small biscuits.  Brush tops of scones with milk.  Place on baking sheet.  Bake for 16-20 minutes watching to make sure they don’t burn.  Golden brown but not too much.  Careful not to over bake.  They continue baking after you pull them out.
While partially cooled drizzle icing onto them.  Let cool, (if you can stand it) before eating.  Enjoy.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Radio Interview on Saturday evening

At 6:05 Pacifiic time on Saturday, 6/18/11 I'm going to be on the radio.  You can listen on the internet.  Here is the announcement from Good Vibrations Radio:

 "Patricia Ryan Madson will be a guest on Good Vibrations Radio™: Tools for Transformation with Solarzar & Kyralani on AM 540, KRXA, Monterey, California on June 18th, from 6:06 PM to 6:57 PM (PDT). The full show broadcasts from 6-9 PM (PDT) and can be live streamed on the Internet using the Live Link at the home page of www.GoodVibrationsRadio.com. To join in the discussion listeners may call 1-831-899-5792 (KRXA)"

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

The Summer Day   

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean— 
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and for the
instead of up and down—
who is gazing around with her enormous
and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and
thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll
 through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

by Mary Oliver

Monday, June 13, 2011

What is compassion in action?

This article was written in April, 2008.  It was never published.  I found it today as I was cleaning a hard drive that holds backups.   

  "One morning Joshu was walking in front of the Zen Hall, treading on the deep-drifted snow.  He accidentally lost his footing and fell in the snow.  He cried out loudly, 'Help me out!  Help me out!'  A monk heard him crying, came running, raising clouds, and instead of helping the Master out of the snow, 'threw himself in the snow too.'  That is, the monk laid himself down in the snow like the Master.  Joshu, who could very well have given the monk a blow of his stick, quite calmly returned to his room.”

     "Now, did this monk help the old teacher out or not?"  (Shibayama, 1970, p. 226)

What is compassion in action?  How can I help? asks the title of a 1985 Ram Das book.  This koan is a clever reminder that help comes in many forms.   The answer to Shibayama’s question is both yes and no.  No, he did not help: Master Joshu had to get up out of the snow by his own efforts.  We are essentially alone in this life, and it is by our personal efforts that we live, move and advance.  No one can live your life for you, no one can do your work, take on your burden, and settle your debts.  And, while it is natural to cry out for someone to lift us out of our problem, it does not work that way. 

However, it is arguable that the monk did help in joining his teacher in the snow.  Sometimes there is no fix, no cure, no balm that can change the reality facing a person.  Although we might wish with all our hearts that we could “help” at a fundamental level there is suffering that must be borne alone.  But this is not to say that a compassionate heart may leave the scene.  Simply staying in the room, listening, abiding silently can offer some relief.  We are not alone.  And, yet we are.  We will each face our own deaths very much alone.  And, yet there is a kind of solace in having a warm presence near at hand.  When someone is in trouble or pain my strongest reaction is to call for help . . . run somewhere to get an expert.  It is uncomfortable to stay next to the person suffering.  And, yet, staying is often exactly what is needed.  It is often all you can do.

Just weeks ago I learned that my best friend who lives half a continent away in Canada was diagnosed with a virulent strain of cancer.  One day she was fine, healthy, active, a locomotive of grace and action . . . doing what needed doing—running a household and breaking in a new job (in what was to become a terrible irony) as a cancer counselor for the highly respected Wellspring  of Canada, and on the next day she was scheduled for a radical mastectomy.  Mounting discoveries pointed to a type of cancer with a high incidence of recurrence.  Her team of oncology specialists set forth a yearlong course of aggressive treatment, including six rotations of chemotherapy. While there is every reason to expect a good outcome, there is much that remains unknown and unknowable. 

And so I take a nosedive and join her in the snow, in the cold.  How am I doing this?  I have decided to do all I can not to turn away from her suffering.  I want to stay focused and listen intently when she tells me about her treatment and her fears and feelings.  I want to hang in there with her when the going get tough and to celebrate when there are moments of triumph or special happiness.  We are instituting a weekly telephone “date” on Monday mornings.  At 8:00 am California time and 9:00am her time we will ring each other and have a gossip fest.  I am sending her a hand made card each week, and small gifts as they appear.  Also, I’ll be reading for her, looking for quotes that might appeal or inspire or simply divert.  I’ll send or recommend books and music and internet sites. 

In yet another irony Trudy recently made her swansong as Associate Editor of Thirty Thousand Days, a quarterly journal published by the ToDo Institute in Vermont. In the final spring issue she published a brief article on being an “all weather friend” and on the importance of choosing to be the kind of friend who is reliable and creative.  Now, I aspire to take her advice and to be an “all weather friend” to her during this crisis . . . and beyond. 

In the “monk in the snow” koan the young monk chooses to be IN the snow with his teacher.  This is clearly different from standing nearby, warm and secure, possibly saying encouraging words.  By jumping into the snow the monk selects to suffer with his friend—to feel the chill and experience the panic of the situation.  Sometimes what we can do is to suffer with someone."
Patricia Ryan Madson  April 28, 2008

Note on June 13, 2011.  .  .  I am happy to report that Trudy, the friend mentioned here, has had a wonderful recovery from her ordeal with breast cancer.  Her life now is flowering in wonderful ways. During her year of treatment she kept a daily blog that has been a balm to many.     

Friday, June 10, 2011

Temple Grandin the movie

Once a decade a film comes along that is profoundly uplifting.  That film is Temple Grandin, made in 2010 by HBO.  It won Emmys for Best Made-for-Television Movie, Best Director, Best Lead Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Music Composition, and Best Camera Editing at the 62nd Emmy Awards on Sunday August 29, 2010.   It is the true story of a modern heroine.  Claire Danes plays her with deep understanding.  And the supporting cast is masterful.  Autistic from birth this young women showed courage, brilliance and determination to change the world's understanding of animals.  She has literally changed our world.  I urge you to find this film to rent.  Netflix has it on DVD (but not streaming at this time.)  You will want to know more about this astonishing woman.  Her website is an inspiration.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Anonymous Poem

An Anonymous Prayer from England
17th. century

Lord, thy knowest better than I know myself
that I am growing older and will someday be old.
Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say
something on every subject and, on every occasion.
Release me from craving to straighten out
everybody's affairs.

 Make me thoughtful but not moody, helpful not bossy,
With my vast store of wisdom it
seems a pity not to use it all.
But, Thou knowest Lord
that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind from the recitals of endless details.
Give me wings to get to the point.

Seal my lips on my aches and pains.
They are increasing and love of rehearsing them
is becoming sweeter as the time goes by.
I do not ask for Grace enough to enjoy the tales
of other's pain but, help me endure them with patience.

 I dare not ask for improved memory, but, for a
growing humility & a lessening cocksureness
when my memory seems to clash
with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson
that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet
I do not want to be a Saint.
Some of them are so hard to live with.
But, a sour person is the works of the Devil.

Give me the ability to see good things in
unexpected places
and talents in unexpected people.
And, give me, O Lord, the Grace to tell them so!

I am indebted to Richie Mommers of Brownfield, ME for sharing this wonderful poem.  It perfectly expresses my current hopes and dreams. 

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Lanyard

The Lanyard

The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the pale blue walls of this room,
bouncing from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one more suddenly into the past----
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that’s what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white one for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sickroom,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then let me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I, in turn, presented her with a lanyard,
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is your clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a camp counsellor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
Is a smaller gift-not the archaic truth

that you can never repay your mother.

but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hands,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

 By Billy Collins, The Trouble With Poetry

Friday, June 3, 2011

Today's flowers

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Prayer by Mary Oliver


It doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.
By Mary Oliver