In my town, I’ve seen signs all over unmowed lawns, stating, “No Mow May.” This has proved very convenient for our family as our lawnmower is on the fritz, so I guess we’ve got one more month to get it repaired or replaced.
Sustainable Saratoga has some helpful tips on how not mowing benefits bees, which benefits all of us. Of course, check your local ordinances for property upkeep, but generally, you’re only required to mow your lawns in June, July, and August, but it varies by locality. Also, visit their link for Pollinators and Native Plants (Saratoga County and parts of Upstate New York.)
If coloring’s your thing, visit my new page: Coloring Sheet (link in the menu) and look for the World Bee Day sheet to download and color.
And if you like a snack while helping the bees, stop into your local Starbucks where they have the new Bumblebee Cake Pop, but I took photos of it from all angles, and all I see is a yellow cat. If someone could show me the bee, I would very seriously appreciate it!
Sometimes, you just need a mindless break. But some of those mindless breaks can actually be mindful.
Yesterday, after mass, and the May crowning, and then praying the rosary in the garden there, I came home to my husband and daughter heading out for some Mother’s Day shopping, and I opted to stay home. What did I do with myself?
I sketched and I colored and I read.
The reading was a heavy, emotional book, and the coloring helped me through the traumatic chapter. As you can see from the photo, I wasn’t able to finish the coloring page. I plan to do some more tonight.
In addition to the sketches, I’ve included photos from this week. When I was in the depths of my depression, I’d drive a little bit and take photographs. At that time, my focus was on church architecture and really old cemeteries where the names were barely visible. Today, I take photos of nearly anything that catches my eye.
Drop some of your art and photos into the comments. And remember to breathe.
For those who know, Wednesday is new comic day. It’s a weekly collaboration and celebration of reading and community tied together with a pull list and a handful of new issues. They range from black and white and vibrant color and everything in between, where words and pictures mesh to create something new that cannot be done with only one or the other.
Each local comic store has its own personality, and Earthworld Comics in Albany, NY’s personality was as big as the heart of its owner, JC Glindmyer. As the motto stated, they (and he with an assortment of helpers) had been rotting minds and seducing the innocent since 1983. We moved to the area in 1995 and had been visiting Earthworld whenever we were in Albany before that, well befoe our kids were born. My husband wouldn’t move to a place that didn’t have a comic store, and with Earthworld he found the best.
JC died this week.
We missed him on Free Comic Book Day due to a family obligation – it was the first one we’d ever missed, and this one really stings. Each first Saturday in May we’d get there early, waiting for the doors to open, hanging out with the costumed superheroes of the day that JC arranged to be there: Spider-man, Gamora, Batman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman. There were special days all through the year: Batman’s 75th anniversary, Halloweenfest, Fangirls Night Out, and while Free Comic Book Day was filled with free comic books and entertaining heroes, the biggest hero was JC, raising money each year for local charities.
I would also be remiss in not mentioning how often he helped us by floating our comics from payday to payday, knowing our struggle, but also knowing that we were regulars (for a couple of decades) and needed the respite of reading the new issues without the embarrassment of not being able to afford them. Kids don’t always understand the money aspect of life, and JC knew how important some of those books were to the little ones.
If Halloween was on a Wednesday, Earthworld would be our first stop before trick or treating. Below is a photo or our kids dressed up as Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman – the one trio we couldn’t wait to dress them up as!
During the covid pandemic, I’m sure he was worried about business, but he pulled together a curbside delivery after one week or so, and we tried to get there each week. We didn’t necessarily need the comics, but supporting JC was something that we didn’t even have to discuss. He met us (and other customers) curbside in his Earthworld t-shirt, Superman cape, and of course, his mask and gloves. A real super-hero.
We’ll be there today because it’s Wednesday, but the store will seem emptier, quieter, sadder.
If you’re visiting upstate New York, stop in at the Albany store, and see the magic for yourself. If you’re too far to appreciate our bounty, visit your local comic book store and see the magic there.
May your memory be an eternal blessing, JC. You will be sorely missed. ❤
“If we wish to live and to bequeath life to our offspring, if we believe that we are to pave the way to the future, then we must first of all not forget.”
Prof. Ben Zion Dinur, Yad Vashem, 1956
A few links to follow to learn about this day as well as reflect on it. In addtion to Holocaust Remembrance Day, which began at sundown last night, it is also 80 years since the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. I have a well-worn book about the Uprising that I’ve kept since childhood.
Yom Hashoah is specific to commemorating the Jewish people who perished in the Holocaust.
Yesterday was the 112th anniversary of the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. This tragedy has become synonymous with workplace safety and ongoing regulations to protect workers. There were so many things wrong with the working conditions at Triangle Shirtwaist that it’s hard to believe that at the time none of it was illegal:
Stairwells and exits were locked.
There were no fire alarms to alert anyone to the fire.
There was a single fire escape.
In addition, fire department ladders, when they finally did arrive could only reach the seventh floor.
As a direct result of this fire, many changes, thanks to unions and current OSHA requirements have made things safer, but as we can see in today’s news, deregulation of trains and how chemicals are transported led directly to the Norfolk Southern train derailment and the new Governor of Arkansas, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, signed into law a roll back of child labor laws, allowing children, ages 14 and 15 to not fill out a form for work, commonly known as working papers. Other child labor laws remain in effect. In the case of Ohio, the governor took advice, not from the professionals but from the CEO of the train company to burn the chemicals in a controlled way. This led to people being evacuated and becoming ill. The CEO chose the most cost-effective option rather than the safest in many people’s opinions. Actions like these will likely lead to environmental disasters and workplace injuries that will affect these children for their lifetimes.
The Triangle Shirtwaist Company was situated in the Asch Building on the corner of Greene St. and Washington Place in Greenwich Village’s garment district. It resided on the 8th, 9th, and 10th floors and employed about 500 workers, mostly immigrants, mostly young Italian and Jewish women and girls who worked fifty-two hours a week including Saturday, earning between $7 and $12 a week.
The fire broke out around closing time. The only warning was someone on the 8th floor calling the 10th to warn of the fire on the 9th floor. The common practice of locking stairwells and exits was in effect and the person who held the stairway key had already escaped. Dozens escaped by going to the roof. A crowd escaped to a single fire escape which buckled from the heat and the weight and collapsed sending about twenty to their deaths on the ground below. 146 people died and 78 were injured.
As for the fire, arson was not suspected despite four previous fires considered suspicious by companies owned by the same two co-owners.
The fire spurred a host of new labor laws including minimum wage and worker protections that included adequate bathroom facilities and a lessening of working hours for women and children. It also saw the burgeoning advancement of unions including the International Ladies Garment Workers Union, which had been established in 1900 and only expanded and diversified after the fire.
In Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn is a memorial to the six unidentified victims. They have recently been identified and their names were added to the list of victims known since 1911.
Today the building is the Brown Building and is part of the New York University campus and part of the National Historic Register.
For more information on this tragedy and its aftermath, check out the links below:
St. Patrick’s Day has long been one of my favorite holidays. Long before I met and married my husband with Irish roots, and well before I set foot on the Emerald Isle. I have always been fascinated by the Celts, their people, their land, their culture, especially in relation to ancient and medieval culture. I have also been a questioner. Why? Why do we do this? Why don’t we do that? As a young child being told that I couldn’t write during Rosh Hashanah, I was devastated. But writing isn’t work; it’s writing, I whined to no avail. Becoming Catholic has not broken me of that – is it really a – failing.
And so, I question – why?
Why can’t we eat meat on Friday? Is it because Peter was a fisherman? Will there be a dispensation for today? It is a saint’s feast day after all. I waited for Pope Francis, and then was told that it’s up to the local bishops. I still couldn’t find it, so I texted my godmother and she okayed the corned beef which made my husband happy (as if he wasn’t going to indulge on his holiday).
But I still wondered: Why?
In googling and asking my questions of the internet, I discovered the controversy that is North Dakota. Apparently, they have three dioceses, and two have them have allowed meat today, and one has not. The idea that North Dakota has three dioceses makes little sense to me, but I found no less than twenty-five separate links about St. Patrick’s Day in North Dakota. Amazing.
Archbishop Nelson Perez of Philadelphia popped up as did Cardinal Dolan in New York City’s Diocese. I didn’t see Boston, but I came to the logical conclusion that there would be dispensation for Boston Catholics. What holy hell would be raised if even one of those cities banned meat on St. Patrick’s Day? I hope we never find out.
During Pope Nicholas I in 866 CE, Friday abstinence became a universal rule. Fasting also on Fridays was common by the twelfth century. It was expected for everyone, including those as young as twelve with very few exceptions.
It also used to be that you couldn’t eat any animal products on Fridays, not just during Lent, but ALL YEAR. I learned that Fat Tuesday began as a way to use up all of the animal products that you couldn’t eat – butter, cheese, eggs, lard, and of course, meat.
Pope Paul VI changed things in 1966 in his Paenitemini. His object wasn’t to end abstinence and fasting but for Catholics to choose to abstain and fast as part of their own penance practices; let their conscience be their guide.
With Sunday being a weekly Easter, shouldn’t every Friday be a Good Friday? This was asked by the US Bishops in 1966 and I tilt my head wondering the same thing.
Lent is an opportunity to lend mutual support on our spiritual and faith journey. We are in it together and have a shared experience through Christ’s death and resurrection.
So why the exception for St. Patrick’s Day?
I mean, look at this filled soda from Northern Ireland! Resistance is futile. This was a breakfast sandwich shared between my husband and myself (and after twenty-three years of marriage he still had to take it under consideration).
I can imagine that they might have thought they’d lose all the Irish American Catholics if they said no corned beef on Friday of St. Pat’s Day, although this quandary occurs once or twice a decade, so it isn’t exactly a pressing issue.
I would also note that the traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebration food in Ireland is different from the traditional food eaten in the US. In Ireland, sausage is usually eaten, and not your teeny-tiny frozen breakfast sausage, but a lovely, large, grilled bit of deliciousness. Bangers and mash. In the US, we serve corned beef and cabbage with mashed potatoes and carrots. Yesterday, I had cabbage with leeks, and it really boosted the flavor.
What are you to do?
It becomes a crisis of conscience.
Well, as I mentioned, dispensations are local, so check with your diocese.
Is it a pass? Not really. You’re expected to abstain from meat on a different day during the week.
Usually, you’re expected to give up meat on a day before the next Friday after St. Patrick’s Day and (or) perform acts of charity and good deeds to atone or call it even with the meat eating.
We’ll be having corned beef, cabbage, mashed potatoes (possibly champ), carrots, and Irish Soda bread with Kerrygold butter.
When I was in college, my friend was in England student teaching. When she invited me to fly over and meet her and travel the United Kingdom, I thought there was no way I could afford it. She told me we’d be staying in hostels.
I had never heard of hostels before. I had to join the association (for an annual membership) and then I could pay a small fee and spend the night in a safe, clean, dormitory. The Youth Hostel Association was for young adults, between the ages of 16 (without a parent) and 25. This is less common now. At the time, they also suggested that before you stay at a foreign hostel you should have a dry-run at a local, American run one. I did not do this, and it worked out fine for me. Of course, I haven’t gone hosteling in a couple of decades, so I can only imagine how much has changed. Part of that was because of my friend, who was the expert in my opinion, having been in England and traveled about quite a bit during her days off from teaching.
Where to find Jamie and all her wonderful food expertise and recipes.
I “met” Jamie Schler in the midst of the pandemic and through the former guy’s administration and our mutual resistance. She offered recipes from her home in Chinon, France and brought her followers along as she went (post-pandemic) to a family reunion stateside. I downloaded her free e-book, Isolation Baking, which along with Chef Jose Andres’ #RecipesForThePeople kept us creatively cooking while “trapped” in our own homes and kitchens. She makes an amazing assortment of homemade jams that she offers as part of her bed and breakfast at her Hotel Diderot in the beautiful Loire Valley. I’m looking forward one day to actually make her French Onion Soup, which is one of my favorite things to eat, and whose recipe I share below.
Jamie is generous with her time and love of food on social media and now on her Substack. She shares her techniques for making jam, which she does in abundance as well as recipes and insights. The jam is one of the highlights of the hotel’s breakfast and jam-making has been a hotel tradition since it’s early days of the 1960s. Each new owner has introduced new varieties of the jams, bringing the total to over 50 kinds.
The main building of the hotel dates from the 15th century. I can feel the history through the splendid pictures Jamie posts on her social media.
I came home from my day and tapped into my social media to find this statement from The Carter Center. I knew this day would come, and everytime I saw Jimmy Carter’s name in the news I would hold my breath until the all clear. I had considered (pre-covid) to try to attend one of his Sunday School classes/lectures that he holds at the Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia. Cars line up at midnight waiting for his teaching, which he’d been doing for over forty years, only stopping as recently as 2020. I was not able to make it down to Georgia, things getting especially complicated after the bulk of the pandemic.
I have always thought of writing to him, but I never got up the courage. What could I say? Hey, Mr. President, I admire you. You inspire me. You’re a great man and humanitarian and a wonderful example of Christian love. I suppose I could have done just that.
I will tell you that I hold him up to the highest example of dedication, public service, and as a servant leader.
Food and cooking are universal. We all eat, we all need to get food on the table, and even if it’s not us directly, someone needs to cook. From small galley kitchens in apartments to large farmhouse kitchens looking out over lush, green backyards, whatever kitchens we are destined to be “stuck with” we adapt and we learn how to work with what we have. If we don’t have an ingredient, we try a different one. When my kids were little, in the summer we held taste tests. I would get things they’d never eaten and we’d try them. It was great fun, and the kids had an awesome time choosing what new food, mostly fruit they wanted to try. Some (donut peaches) did better than others (anchovies).
I had the privilege of working one of my first jobs out of college as a civilian for the US Navy’s child development program and through that job met people from all over the country and we shared food and recipes and cultural traditions, and it was wonderful.
One of my mentors, Sylvia was an African-American woman from New Orleans. She had a demeanor of floating on air, gliding through our lives, and expressing and encouraging our wonder in the world and in diversity. I learned so much from her. She was ethereal and offered her words and advice as a sage. From her, I learned to make her sweet potato pie for Thanksgiving.
I followed her recipe exactly for years and my family loved this new item in our Thanksgiving celebration. My mother could not reconcile that sweet potato pie was served cold and as a dessert. She just could not get used to it, and soon it became a side dish in our house. The only difference between Sylvia’s and my version was temperature and time to eat.
After a while, after three kids and depression, and “I don’t have time for this” I converted it to a casserole, but I still miss that original version that Sylvia introduced me to. At the bottom, I’ll share my recipe, which, while excellent is not what you’d find in New Orleans.
Combining Sylvia’s traditions with mine was one way I blended her African American heritage with my Jewish heritage and then further blending Jewish and Christian traditions for holidays, in classrooms as a teacher and in my husband’s Catholic family.
This has been a longwinded introduction to a Twitter friend of mine, someone I met on the social media site in the last few months.
Michael W. Twitty is a proud African-American Jew who expresses himself through cooking and writing about food and culinary history. His Twitter handle is KosherSoul, which exemplifies his focus.
I’m going to quote from his website because this epitomizes how I think of my own cooking: Michael has introduced me to the term, “identity cooking.” “Identity cooking isn’t about fusion; rather its [sic] how we construct complex identities and then express them through how we eat.” This is a truism that if you follow me for any length of time and read my food posts, you’ll see that connecting different foods has always been my cooking style. Bringing together flavors that don’t necessarily go, but manage to surprise. None of us eats in a singular “culinary construct”. We often work with what we have and adapt. My mother-in-law was excellent at pulling things together from her cupboards and turning it into a gourmet meal. She had a rare talent.
As for Twitty, I could easily just copy and paste his website to describe how he blends the two diasporas of African-Americans and the Jewish people and their food, but I’ll let you visit him yourself as he explores their crossroads. He is a two time James Beard award-winning author and his recent book, KOSHERSOUL: The Faith and Food Journey of an African-American Jew was the winner of the 2023 National Jewish Book Council Award for Book of the Year.
Find all his socials below as well as his website and links to purchase his books.
He also offers classes in the DC/Baltimore area. Information here.
As promised, my recipe for Sweet Potato Casserole
To make this as a pie, pour into a graham cracker pie crust, cover with mini marshmallows and bake for about 35 minutes at 350, until marshmallows are golden brown.
Ingredients & Directions:
1 large can of sweet potatoes (cook, drain, mash) 1 stick of butter 1/4 cup of brown sugar (whatever variety you prefer – I use dark, Sylvia used light) I don’t measure the spices, but I add about: 1 TB cinnamon 1/2 tsp nutmeg Incorporate everything together and pour into a small, any shaped casserole dish. Cover the top with mini marshmallows and bake for 35 minutes at 350 degrees.
Scoop and serve. If pie, let cool, slice, and serve.