Honoring the Fishermen!

Every summer Gloucester pays tribute to the 10,000 fishermen lost at sea. This year I had to work and missed covering the service. So with this installment I included images from past services. Fog bank approaches.  Fishermen's Memorial in the fog.  A foggy Boulevard.  A foggy walk!  Beauport Hotel takes shape.  Laying a wreath 2009  Little one climbs the monument base 2009.
View from my porch
I come from a long line of porch-sitters. My parents and both my grandmothers lived in houses with big porches with swings on them. Most of my happiest memories involve sitting on someone's porch. It's a beautiful past-time. I've written before about how my Gram Werner would spend Sunday mornings on her porch with two of her brothers. Uncle Eddie and Uncle George would come with rye bread, liverwurst (we called it braunsweiger), onions, mustard, and beer. We would eat sandwiches and drink beer on the porch while they reminisced about old times. I loved every minute of it and it made me the story-teller I am today.

The house I live in has a narrow porch that runs along the back of the house. It overlooks the oldest Universalist cemetery in America. It is a quiet, shady place where people walk dogs and come to read headstones. Most people don't even know it is there. For years I rarely went out there except to hang a towel out to dry or sweep off the leaves. The porch is very narrow and didn't offer a lot of space for furniture.

Then a few years ago I saw a nice canvas camp-type chair. I bought, brought it home, and found it fit quite nicely on the porch. For that entire summer I spent as much time as I could on the porch. It was wonderful. I read, knit, day-dreamed, bird-watched, star-watched. Ever since that aha! moment I have spent most of winter longing for porch-time.

I am now on my third collapsible chair. This one is a real beauty with lots of pockets to store things in—my reading glasses, binoculars, bird book, etc. I made some cushions covered in water-proof blue and white striped fabric, and I look forward every day while I am working to porch-time. I take my iced tea and my book or Kindle and head for the porch. This summer I have been exceptionally greedy about porch-time. I've read nearly 2 dozen books out there, plus it gives me a chance to visit with the neighbors. It's just a delight that I get to catch up with people I haven't seen all winter. When they see me out there reading, they come by to say hello and that always makes me happy.

There are quite a few porch-sitters in the houses surrounding the cemetery. I hear people talking and laughing together coming from several directions. The other day I heard one group of porch-sitters singing Happy Birthday to someone. I love the sounds of people being happy.

And we have critters—lots and lots of birds, squirrels, and this year we have a bunny. He hops out of the hedges while I am reading and spends the afternoon or evening scavenging the yard for clover. My one neighbor has been putting out Cherrios which the bunny likes and kale which he does not. Another neighbor puts out birdseed and it is always amusing to watch the birds compete with the squirrels for seed. We have lots of sparrows and wrens, some cardinals and blue jays, and this year there have been gold finches. There are also butterflies and moths. It is a wonderful place.

August is winding down but as long as I can sit outside even wearing fleece, I will do it. Sometimes I have had to brush falling leaves off my book as I read. Autumn in New England is unpredictable. There have been years when I was stilling sitting on the porch at Thanksgiving and there have been years when I had to take the chair in by Columbus Day.

There is something so beautiful to me about porch-sitting. It is part of my heritage and it nurtures my soul.

Thanks for reading.
I have a sometimes boring yet interesting part time job with a long name, "New Balance Track and Field at Newell Stadium Supervisor". I've seen people from around the world running or walking the track or playing soccer, lacrosse, field hockey and football. All types of boats go by in the canal  and on trailers going to and from the Dun Fudgin boat ramp behind the high school. But most
A fellow author recently asked me if I thought it was worth it to produce books in paperback these days. She said that several of her books sell well in digital but hardly at all in paper. I had to agree with her—my experience is pretty much the same. I have an advantage over a lot of independent authors in that I was a book designer long before I was a writer so I can create my own paper books. If I had to pay someone else to do it I might not bother. Also, because several of my books series are short works, they simply would not be practical to produce in paper. However, once I have three or more books in a series, compiling them in an omnibus paperback is easy to do.
Civil War Re-enactor wearing a Bucktail Cap

That being said, I have two new paper books available from previously published e-books.

The first three Beacon Hill Chronicles—The Crazy Old Lady in the Attic, The Crazy Old Lady'sRevenge, and The Crazy Old Lady Unleashed—were relatively short works available in digital only. However with the third one I had enough to justify an Omnibus edition in both paper and digital. Sales of the paper version have been slim but, since sales in digital are good, I don't feel bad about that. So, when I wrote Volume 4, The Crazy Old Lady's Secret, a full length novel, offering it in paper was easy enough to do. Because the story is set in Boston, and is jam-packed with Boston locations, legends, history, and folklore, I decided to create a Bonus feature for the book. It is a gallery of the locations and legends in the book with more information and resources for further exploration. I recently created a Pinterest board as well for my gallery.

This whole series has astonished me with its popularity. It all began when i was trying to come up with a story in time for Christmas. I wound up writing The ReluctantBelsnickel of Opelt's Wood based on a tradition practiced in my home town for the Feast of St. Nicholas. That grew into the novel-in-eleven-stories, The Whiskey Bottle in the Wall: Secretsof Marienstadt which I first released in Volume 1, Volume 2,and Volume 3, then in a digital Omnibus and finally in a paperOmnibus. The paperback has sold well around Christmas time. I followed that with The Christmas Daughter: A Marienstadt Storyin both digital and paper. Now, after two years of laboring on it, The third book is read. It is called The Bucktail Cap in theTrunk: More Secrets of Marienstadt, which consists of thirteen stories. The title story is special to me because it is based in a very, very proud part of my hometown's history—the men who fought in the Civil War as part of the Elk County Rifles. They were one of the most feared and relentless regiments in the war, also known as the 42nd Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment or The Bucktails.

This new book is available in digital Volume 1, Volume 2, and Volume 3 and now also in paper with all thirteen stories included.

It may take awhile but I have a sense there may be another book in this series—I can't talk about it right now, it is still in the planning stages—but the working title is The Legend: A Marienstadt Story and I'm excited about it.

So, ever onward. I am currently at work on a third story in my Halcyon Beach Chronicles to be called Ghost of a Dancer by Moonlight. When it is ready I will think about whether a paper book of all 3 Halcyon Beach stories is worth while. We shall see.

Thanks for reading.
Three more books in my #readtheworld adventure:


In 2001 shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan, journalist Anna Badkhen made the arduous journey to Northern Afghanistan. There she developed friendships with many people and fell a little bit in love with their culture and their openness and humanity. At the time they welcomed what they believed would be protection from the Taliban. Nine years later Badkhen returns to the north to see how their friends were doing. This book is a travelogue of her journey. As she reconnects with her friends she is both pleased by their happiness in seeing her again, and heart-broken over what they have suffered. Life is, if anything, worse, not better but still they persevere and live their lives with courage, fortitude, dignity, and no small amount of humor. This is a short, quick read but packed with detail and inspiration.

The Vanishing of Katharina Linden by Helen Grant

This book started out great! I loved the setting and the description of the town. I really liked the characters and the descriptions of the rituals. Much of the folklore (which I always love in stories) was just fabulous and the holidays and much of the dialog reminded me so much of my own German grandma. The town itself became a character on its own.

But then about two-thirds of the way through something happened. It deteriorated into a slightly more colorful Nancy Drew mystery--okay, but certainly a let down from the beginning!

The author is a gifted writer and she did a great job of setting up an intriguing plot. I give it an extra star just for the beautiful intermingling of folktales. But I wish she had made the mystery more compatible with the rest of the story. Plus I really liked Wolfgang and Pia seemed to adore him and he just got dropped from the story. This is a good book if you appreciate colorful settings, rituals, and mythology, but as a mystery it was rather flat.

Iraq (again):

This book is just devastating! The end had me too weepy to actually read. The story begins in a Beirut hotel where the unnamed narrator is about to carry out a mission he refers to as “the greatest operation ever carried out on enemy territory.” We learn that he was a university student from a small village in Iraq but after the invasion the university closes and her returns to his small village. For awhile life is as it has always been. He is restless and wishes he could return to school or at least find work but then reminds himself that at least the war has not affected his village. Then things change.

Following the killing of a mentally handicapped village boy by soldiers at a checkpoint and the then the bombing of a wedding party, young men from the village grow increasingly restless and begin leaving for Baghdad, hoping to fight back. The narrator grows increasingly frustrated. When his family home is invaded and his father humiliated in front of the family, he can no longer bear it and he too leaves for Baghdad. At first he tries to lead a normal life but conditions there make that impossible. He winds up on the street and after weeks of being homeless he discovers his cousin Sayed has a prosperous business selling appliances. Sayed takes him in and gives him a job. In no time the narrator discovers that his cousin's appliance business is a front for much more dangerous operations, which he is ultimately recruited into.

One of the things I found most touching about this story was the way the young men of the village, trying to make sense of the invasion, cling to the belief that sooner or later the West will understand the beauty of their culture and leave them alone. They cannot believe that technology and capitalism are any match for their long history of art, music, mathematics, and creativity. They say, “when the West realizes how much beauty we have, they will leave us alone.”

The ending of this book is just shattering. I won't ruin it for other readers but let me say that the mission he eventually undertakes is so horrible and the reason for his ultimate decision is so beautiful it just tore at my heart. I will not forget this book for a very long time.

Even though I have read a book for Afghanistan I think I'm going to read another one, A Thousand Splendid Suns, which I have been wanting to read for awhile. It is going to take an incredible book to live up to that last one. The adventure continues.

Dam Thunderous!

T-storms and nice weather was the theme this past week. And I was surprised of the new Babson Dam. I was driving along Poplar Street when my eye caught a sight of it. I never knew it was being rebuilt. Then it was a quick look at the progress of the Beauport Hotel which is scheduled to open the the Spring of 2016. Babson Dam  A look at the spillway.  Lining up on the rail.  Salt
For several years my literary web site at has languished, neglected. The shoemaker's children have no shoes. So this week I decided to get serious and update it. I am not quite done yet but I think I am getting there. This is from the About Kathleen page. Please stop by to download a free sampler!

August 8, 2015

Dear Reader,

I always find it hard to talk about myself because I think the most interesting thing about me is the stuff I write. If you want to know who I am, read my work. But to give a little more context, I grew up in a Pennsylvania Dutch town in the Allegheny Highlands—now called The Pennsylvania Wilds—called St. Marys. My father was a carpenter and my mother was a the full-time mom of eight kids. Both of my parents were avid readers and always encouraged all of us to read. In fact, under the steps to the upstairs bedrooms was a large closet. My mother kept our sleeping bags and boxes of books—comic books, story books, novels, encyclopedias—in there. When one of us needed a “time-out” she would send us to the closet where we could curl up in the sleeping bags and read.

My favorite childhood memory was people telling stories everywhere we went. On Sunday afternoons my Grandmother Werner and two of her brothers would be sitting on her front porch with liverwurst, rye bread, and beer, and they would start telling stories. Everywhere we went—visiting aunts and uncles and cousins—people were always eating, drinking beer, and telling stories. Neighbors gathered in my mom's kitchen or my dad's shop and the stories would begin. I loved those times so much!

I attended Catholic elementary and high schools then went on to Penn State where I graduated with a degree in The Arts. While there I took a few courses in folklore and oral tradition. They were my favorite subjects. During my first two years of college I lived in Erie, Pennsylvania, and worked in a diner. It was that experience that inspired me to write The Old Mermaid's Tale many years later.

After college, I worked as a graphic artist and typographer in ad agencies as well as a couple energy companies and high tech companies from Houston, Texas to Camden, Maine, finally settling down in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1995 where I have lived ever since. In 2003 I started my own design business, creating web sites, advertising, and promotional material for clients. I also began to write and, when the digital book revolution arrived I was ready. Two of my short works, The Crazy Old Lady in the Attic, and Ghosts of a Beach Town in Winter, were highly successful, climbing to the top of Amazon's charts in 2011. This encouraged me to keep writing and, though the competition is far more fierce than it was back then, I keep writing.

So far, I have published three stand-alone novels, and a variety of shorter works. My special loves are my Marienstadt stories which are based on my home town and all those stories I collected on all those porches and kitchens and living rooms as a girl. I am a lover of stories and a teller of tales. That is who I am and will always be.

Thanks for reading,


smokey eggplant with feta

I’ve recently been making this recipe, from my cookbook “In Cod We Trust, from Sea to Shore, the Cuisine of Coastal Massachusetts,” because it is truly the ideal August dish: a platter of roasted eggplant puree festooned with every color tomato you can find, all dressed in a bright vinaigrette, lest that smoky eggplant get too gloomy.

But I have been showering the whole platter in more vegetables, and adding a healthy pile of briny feta cheese. This truly ramps the whole thing up to a summer dinner.

The original recipe is from Martha’s Vineyard resident Jan Buhrman, who describes this as “one of those dishes you whip up right out of the garden or just home from the Farmer’s Market.” Yup.

Smokey Eggplant Platter

serves 4-6 as an appetizer, 2 as dinner


2 medium-large eggplants cut in half lengthwise.

6-8 cloves garlic wrapped in foil for the grill with 2 tablespoons olive oil

1-2 teaspoon smoked paprika, or more to taste

2 medium heirloom variety tomatoes and 1 dozen colorful cherry tomatoes

1/4 small red onion thinly sliced (in arcs) or 1/4 cup chopped scallions

6-8 ounces good quality feta cheese, or more to taste

⅛ cup olive oil

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

juice of one lemon

1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley or shredded basil

1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Instructions Light the grill, allow it to get hot. Place the eggplant skin side down on grill. (Alternatively, do this in a very hot skillet, with a tablespoon or 2 of olive oil, on the stove.)

Place foil package of garlic on the grill. (or roast in a 375 degree F. oven for 20 minutes) Remove the garlic from the grill after 5 minutes, but leave it in the foil as it will continue to cook.

Cook eggplant until the skin is charred, turning as needed, and each half completely collapsed. You should be able to stick a knife into all parts of the flesh with no resistance at all. Allow to cool.

Into the bowl of a food processor scrape the eggplant flesh out of its skin. Squeeze in the roasted pulp from garlic head. Add the paprika and process very lightly, not letting it get too smooth. Spread the eggplant onto the center of a platter, pushing it neatly around to the size of a dinner plate. Arrange tomatoes on top of eggplant. I like to use a variety of cuts: one tomato sliced. one tomato cut into edges, small cherry tomatoes cut into halves, etc for variety and interest. Sprinkle on the onions or scallions, and feta. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup mix together olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, chopped parsley (or basil), salt and pepper, and distribute all over the tomatoes and eggplant.  Serve with toasted pita wedges or sturdy crackers.

Once In A Blue Moon!

A Blue Moon is the second full moon in the same month, very rare hence the term "Once in a blue moon"! Blue Moon  A closer look.  Swirling clouds over the Good Harbor Beach marsh.  Departing T-storm.  Fishermen's Memorial in the light of a sunset.  A gull perched on the Fisherman!  Looking around  The Fisherman is prepared!  City Hall from Railroad Ave and Prospect Street.

Continuing with my Reading-the-World challenge, here are three more books. 

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquival 

I read this a number of years ago but reading through it again, I was reminded of what a wonderful story this is. Plus the book is graced with a number of recipes and home remedies. The story is both sad and uplifting. Tita loves Pedro and Pedro loves her back but Tita's mama is a dictator and she has determined that Tita will not marry but stay home and take care of her. So Pedro marries her older sister just to be part of Tita's family. Naturally, this is problematic for all concerned. But Tita is a wonderful cook and she pours all her emotions and passion into her cooking--which results in some powerful reactions by those who eat her food. The scene where the wedding guests eat the cake Tita has made for her sister's wedding to Pedro is classic. 

Like Isabel Allende and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Esquival is absolutely brilliant at evoking sensuality and a sense of magic in her writing. I not only fell in love with her characters but felt the atmosphere was so rich and delicious I could almost smell and taste it. A beautiful book that I'm only too happy to read again. 

The Opposite of Hate  by Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar 

I knew very little about Laos when I started this book and found the historical background mesmerizing and terrifying. The story opens when Lao engineer Seng and his Vietnamese wife, Qui, attend a beautiful evening ritual but things are changing rapidly in their world. Communists have invaded the capital city, Vientiane, and the centuries old traditions, arts, and folk customs are being destroyed. When Qui is killed in an airplane crash, Seng is persuaded to marry the teenage daughter of a friend so that she can escape Laos. Neela and Seng escape to Thailand where life in a refugee camp is, quite simply, dreadful. As they wait for visas to America, they do the best they can to survive and care for each other.

Eventually, Seng and Neela, now pregnant, make it to America but, though life there is more comfortable, making a new life for themselves is not without problems. Seng cannot find work and prejudice is strong. Even though he is Lao, most people take him for Vietnamese and want little to do with him. He is a determined and hard-working man who eventually builds a life for himself. The problem is that once pure survival is no longer at issue, he and Neela have to confront the fact that their relationship is built on tradition and the need to survive with very little actual knowledge of each other. I loved Seng and thought he was a great character. Neela was somewhat less sympathetic in my estimation but I found this book enlightening, both historically and culturally. 

Spring Flowers, Spring Frost by Ismail Kadare

This is a strangely beautiful book with a rather dreamy quality to the writing. It is filled with folklore and unusual characters and has a Kafka-esque quality to it that I found entirely appropriate. Set in a remote mountain village at the end of a dictatorial regime, the people of the village are constantly on guard, afraid to trust in their new freedom. A bank robbery has the people of the village in a state of shock and mistrust as to how this could possibly happen. As the restrictions of the old dictatorship fall away, ancient folk traditions and customs begin to emerge unleashing terrors of their own. I loved the story of a girl who married a snake.

Amid all of this the central character, and artist named Mark, loves a girl who models for him sometimes. Their love story is tender and beautiful and, though problematic in some ways, filled with passion. The central theme that holds all the stories together is a combination of longing and the fear of being able to trust again. A very beautiful story.

And now I am on to Bahrain, or maybe Germany, or perhaps Trinidad. I'll let you know.

The Wonder of Nature!

While in my yard I noticed one of two resident Red Tailed Hawks sitting in a tree across the way. I had to get my camera and that guy sat there a good 20 minutes. I was hoping to get a shot of his majestic takeoff but I had to wait and wait. When I zoomed in on him I noticed he was sleeping! So I started yelling and he soon woke up. Shortly he began to flutter about as I steadied the camera and
In 1514 in Nordlengen, Donauworth, Germany, a baby named Leonard Köbel was born. In 1538 he married Anna Reyschlag and 2 years later they gave birth to a son named Klaus. Klaus married Magdalena ? in 1560 and they had a son named Nicholas and the Köbel family continued to reproduce. By 1729 the Köbels had moved to Switzerland and there a baby named Abraham was born. He turned out to be quite an adventurous young man.

By the age of 24 Abraham had moved to Somerset, Pennsylvania, in the New World and there married Mary Magdalene Bardy. He fought in the Revolution with George Washington where he advanced to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and fathered 16 children. He was an ambitious man.

Eventually the Köbels dropped the umlaut and changed the spelling of the name to Koble and then to Cable. Five generations later John B. Cable and his wife Ida Caroline Gnagey gave birth to six children including a little girl named Minnie in 1883. That's her in the photo above. She married William Valentine of St. Marys, Pennsylvania, bore eight children including my father.

Naturally, I can only imagine what the lives of these people were like (other than Grandma Valentine—I actually knew her) but, being a writer, it's not hard to imagine possibilities. As I was working on the title story for The Bucktail Cap in the Trunk: More Secrets of Marienstadt, which tells the story of 4 brothers who came to Pennsylvania from Germany as children, joined the prestigious 42nd Pennsylvania Regiment, known as The Bucktails, and fought in the Civil War, I needed a character to fill the role of their foster-father's ancestor. I decided to use my own Great-great-great (keep going) Grandfather Köbel to fill the role.

I have to say, though it is a small part of the story, it is one of my favorite parts of the book. It's a little daring to put my own ancestor in as a character but, why not? He sounds like the kind of guy who would relish the part.

The book has gone off to press and a paperback should be available soon. The Kindle version is already live. I hope people will read the book and I hope they like Abraham—he's in it briefly but he makes me smile every time I read his name.

Thanks for reading.

Corn Pudding w smoked cod and vegetables

Arrowhead Farms from Newburyport brought their first homegrown corn to the Rockport Farmers’ Market last Saturday. Those extra June rainstorms, farmer Justin Chase told me, was just enough to send the coastal Massachusetts cornstalks skywards, and to plump the yellow kernels.


I knew right away what I would make for dinner that night. Reminding myself of the treasures I found researching my cookbook, I’ve recently been cooking from In Cod We Trust, the Celebrated Cuisine of Coastal Massachusetts.” I will boldly say, in honest celebration of the coast of Massachusetts, that there are some wonderful recipes here that people would be proud to have in their repertoire.

This “1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding,” discovered on a hand-written card within a family file in the Nantucket Historical Society, may be antique, but it is the most wonderful thing to do with sweet, tender local corn. “Like corn-on-the-cob in a cloud,” 1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding elevates New England sweet corn from the farm yard to the throne.  A farmers’ market in June or August is exactly the place to look for flavors that will compliment this ethereal dish.


Arrowhead beets


Shopping at my farmers’ market in Rockport, I created a stacked dinner with the corn pudding as the centerpiece. My first layer began with swiss chard, stems removed and chopped separately, all sauteed for 15-20 minutes with olive oil and garlic. Upon the swiss chard I rested a healthy square of corn pudding, which is easily made ahead, and divine served at room temperature on a warm day. Over that I tumbled a salad of chopped fresh tomato, red onion, fresh basil, olive oil and salt and pepper. Meaty chunks of Sasquatch Smoked Cod came over the tomatoes, and a freshly whipped-together aioli was spooned on top as an added measure of decadence.

Feel free to adapt the stack with what you find in your farmers’ market; my basic rule is that crops arriving in the same season usually taste good together. Strawberries and rhubarb. Tomatoes and corn. Butternut squash and apples.

So, almost anything in your farmers’ market this month would love to cozy up to corn pudding, which, again, is delicious served at room temperature on a hot night. Like so many summer market recipes, this one begs aggressive adapting. My next corn pudding trial might look like this: sliced beefsteak tomatoes + corn pudding square + a Geno Mondello codcake (also in the cookbook) + crispy Seaview Farm bacon + red pepper mayonnaise. See?

But the cornerstone of this stacked recipe is that corn pudding, the simple virtues of which were already well known almost 150 years ago “away off shore.”


1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding with Swiss Chard, Tomatoes & Smoked Cod

serves 4

Swiss chard and Garlic (recipe below)

1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding  (recipe below)

Tomato Salad (recipe below)

1 large piece, about 1/2 pound, smoked cod

Aioli (recipe below)

For the Swiss Chard


2 tablespoons olive oil + more for drizzling

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1 pound swiss chard, stems removed and diced, and leaves loosely chopped

salt and pepper


1. In a wide skillet heat olive oil to medium.  Add garlic and cook for 3-5 minutes or until soft.  Add swiss chard stems, and cook for another 5 minutes or until stems begin to soften.  Add leaves, stirring all together well, and cook for 10-15 more minutes or until the leaves are soft and have lost their raw taste.  Add more olive oil if desired, and season with salt and pepper.

1874 Nantucket Corn Pudding (recipe from the “In Cod We Trust, from Sea to Shore, the Celebrated Cuisine of Coastal Massachusetts,” halved)

6 ears of fresh corn or 3 cups kernels

1 cup loosely crushed oyster crackers (not too fine)

1/2 teaspoon salt

black pepper to taste

2 cups whole milk

3 eggs, lightly beaten


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 2 quart glass baking dish.  With a food processor pulse the corn many times to achieve a mixture of half-ground and half-whole corn kernels.  Pour into a large bowl.

Stir in remaining ingredients, and mix together well.  Pour into a prepared dish.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until a fork inserted in the center comes out clean.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Tomato Salad


1 pound ripe red tomatoes, chopped

1/2 medium red onion, halved, and sliced into thin arcs

1 handful chopped basil

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste


Mix all together in a small bowl, and let sit for 10 minutes.



2 egg yolks

1 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

2 cups oil (I like 1 1/2 cups olive oil, and the rest either canola or walnut.)


Place all the ingredients except the oil in a bowl, and stir with a wire whisk.  Add the oil slowly, whisking at the same time.  Keep mixing, adding the oil a little faster as the aioli begins to bind.  Remaining aioli will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

To Assemble Dish

In shallow bowls, like pasta dishes or shallow soup bowls, put a layer of swiss chard, scattering the brightly colored stem pieces around the edges.  Lay a square of corn pudding on top.  Next divide the tomatoes among the dishes.  Put about a 1/2 cup of smoked cod, separated into chunks, on top of the tomatoes.  Top with aioli, and serve.

Rockport Farmers' Market

No real theme in this post. I caught the sunrise from my office window and took a few cloudy day shots around the Boulevard and shots around Newell Stadium. The last two from last year just for the heck of it. Sunrise  Pine cone (The out of focus tree in the background is in the image above)  The Beauport Hotel taking shape.  Stacy Boulevard repairs underway.  Little League lights
Continuing with my Reading-the-World challenge--a challenge I have set for myself based on Ann Morgan's A Year of Reading The World web site, here are three more books. 

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Kambili is fifteen, her brother Jaja is two years older. To people on the outside they live an idyllic life in Enugu, Nigeria, unlike most people. Their father is wealthy, they live in a beautiful house and attend an exclusive missionary school. But both of them and their mother walk on eggshells all the time because inside their father is a fanatical Christian who rules with an iron fist—a fist that often lands in tender places.

Their father, Eugene, has no relationship with his own father because he is a “pagan” and would prefer not to have a relationship with his university professor sister, Ifeoma, but she is a force of nature who isn't in the least intimidated by her tyrannical brother. Ifeoma has suspicions about why Kambili and Jaja are such quiet, withdrawn children and she manages to convince her brother to let them come stay with her for a vacation. There a whole new world opens to them—the house is small and crowded and poor but filled with books and love.

This is a powerful story told from Kambili's perspective. For so long she has accepted her father's abuse—including her mother's many miscarriages—that trusting others is virtually impossible. The story has an ending that is both tragic and hopeful but I found it to be a reminder that families in all parts of the world often deal with the same things. And, also, that religious fanaticism is the root of much misery in this world—whether it is Christian, Muslim, or anything else—there are always people who will use “God” as an excuse to act in ungodly manners.

The Greenhouse by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir

One of the most beautiful and enthralling books I have read in a very long time. Growing up in Iceland, Lobbi lived with his parents and his handicapped twin brother and worked in his mother's greenhouse. She had developed a rose of rare beauty called the eight-petal rose. When Lobbi is 20 two events shake up his life—he shares a brief intimacy with the girlfriend of one of his friends during which she becomes pregnant, and his beloved mother is killed in a car wreck. Anna, the mother of his daughter, names her Flora but makes no effort to involve Lobbi in their life. Lobbi, unhappy and desolate, takes a job at a monastery in a remote mountain village that was once famous for its gardens which have now fallen into disrepair.

Lobbi travels to the village in an unnamed location and finds a land that is strange indeed. The people there are kind but they speak their own language—a language that is dying—and there are no children that he can see. He begins work at the monastery and meets a monk who is a movie fan and who invites him to join him for his nightly movie watching. Just as Lobbi settles into a routine, he receives a letter from Anna telling him she has to go away for a month and wants to know if he will care for his now nine-month-old daughter.

The writing is lovely, the people are touching, and the descriptions of this mysterious land are positively enchanting. Possibly my favorite book so far in this adventure.

Damascus Nights by Rafi Schami

In 1950s Damascus Salim was the most popular coach driver in the city. Everyone wanted to ride in his coach because Salim was such a great storyteller. When he finally retires, he spends every evening with a circle of friends telling stories and drinking tea. Then one day an amazing thing happens—a fairy appears to him and tells him she is his Storytelling Fairy and she wants to retire. She says he has 21 words left and then he will be unable to communicate ever again. When Salim protests she says the only way he can get a new Storytelling Fairy is if he receives seven gifts. It is up to Salim to find a way to get these gifts but how can he convey that in the words he has left?

His friends discover what has taken place and, because they love his stories, they want to give him the seven gifts but what could they be? They try bringing him food and flowers but finally conclude that they must each tell him a story and so they do.

This is a lovely, lyrical, and often collection that honors the ancient tradition of Arabian tale-telling. The tales his friends spin range from ancient tales of djinns and princesses to modern tales about the frustrations of contemporary life. At the core is the age-old truth that how we communicate with one another shapes our worlds and our lives. Intoxicating in atmosphere and deeply endearing characters.

I am so enjoying this adventure--every book so far has been eye-opening. I took a little break to devour The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel by Nina George and, since she is German and the story is set in Paris and the south of France, it can count as a Read-the-World Book. Next I will be traveling to Laos!

Thanks for reading.

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