Sacred Music Friday: Day by Day

“Day by Day” is something I need to keep at the top of my mind these days:

“See the more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
Follow thee more nearly,
Day by day.”

I’ve shared this one before, but I really love this version from the Godspell revival earlier this decade.


Northland coverNorthland: A 4,000-Mile Journey Along America’s Forgotten Border
Porter Fox
W. W. Norton & Company (July 3, 2018), 272 pages
Kindle edition $12.99, Amazon hardcover $19.86

I haven’t read a travel book in a while, so it was a pleasure to delve into this one.

The book focuses on the border between the United States and Canada. Fox writes of his own travel along the border, moving east to west. He also includes a substantial amount of history, and even current events.

He describes how long it took for the border to be agreed upon and about how errors in mapping and surveying put the border in the wrong place at various locations for extended periods of time. Political considerations played a role as well. He goes into considerable detail about his visit to the Standing Rock protest of the Dakota Access pipeline.

Fox also writes about how the events of 9/11 and how the current administration’s attitude towards immigration have made border crossings much less pleasant than they were in previous years.

Porter Fox is a skilled writer and as travel books go Northland is one of the better ones.

using rojo taco seasoning

Rojo SeasoningSome time back the folks at Penzeys Spices were promoting their Rojo Taco Seasoning. I ordered a jar and it sat on the shelf for a long time. I decided to use it recently and put half the bottle in my tostada beans in the pressure cooker. I totally, completely botched that meal. Seems the seasoning completely altered the composition of the beans and I failed to respond to the signals my nose was getting to turn the damned heat off under the cooker. Sometimes I’m slow on the uptake.

I used the remainder of the seasoning in a far more foolproof manner. I marinated cut-up flap meat for tacos. I let the meat marinate for a good seven plus hours and then cooked it in a cast iron skillet. Terry and I did our tortilla production line.

Really marvelous! The taste is hard to characterize, but I would call it a sort of chili and citrus combination. A different flavor than we’ve had on our tacos previously.

It worked out well.

Just Play

I am not immune to the current streaming phenomenon. We subscribe to both Netflix and Hulu and we can get movies via Amazon Prime as well. (In addition we’ll re-subscribe to CBS All Access when Star Trek: Discovery returns in January.)

Just Watch app screen shotThe problem is that it’s not easy to find out what is available where. I have had to check each service individually to see where a given movie is available. I was looking for a better solution and found one. It’s called Just Play. When I set it up I specified the services to which I subscribe. Now I can search for a movie and it will tell me which services have it available for streaming.

How cool is that?

It’s available for iOS. Google couldn’t find the app, so I don’t know if there’s an Android version.

Joyce Maynard and me

I have had a long-term relationship with Joyce Maynard. It goes back to the 1970’s. Joyce does not know me and has no idea as to who I am. Yet she has influenced my life and thinking for over forty years.

Looking Back coverI first became acquainted with Joyce shortly after I graduated from Pitzer College in 1975. It was not long after I went to work at B. Dalton Bookseller when I read her 1973 book Looking Back: A Chronicle of Growing Up Old in the Sixties, expanded from an essay that appeared in the New York Times Magazine. I felt an immediate and deep connection with her and recognized that we shared many of the same values about growing up, leaving home, and heading out into the world. The book touched me deeply as I was leaving the sheltered world of academia and figuring out how to buy my own groceries and pay my own rent. At that time I had no clue that she was the 18-year-old who had moved in with J.D. Salinger.

I was disappointed, therefore, to hear Joyce’s commentaries for the Spectrum series on CBS radio. Back in those days CBS radio had a rotating group of commentators who offered short audio essays on current affairs. Joyce always took the conservative perspective, very much at odds with her viewpoint in Looking Back. I was further disappointed, devastated, and hurt, I felt stabbed in the back, when I read a piece of hers, I don’t remember where, in which she wrote that what she said in Looking Back was not what she really felt but what she believed readers of the era wanted to see. Joyce, how could you?

In spite of this betrayal I paid attention when I saw her name, and I was compelled to buy and read her 1998 “tell-all” book about her life with Salinger, At Home in the World. I felt sympathy for her naiveté and ineptness, but she wrote nothing to heal the original betrayal.

Joyce resurfaced recently, when I turned the page of the September 9 New York Times Book Review and saw her name on a full-page essay. She notes that twenty years have passed since the publication of At Home in the World. She reminds me that we are very close to the same age (there’s only three months difference, in fact). She writes of being ostracized by the literary community for the perceived betrayal of Salinger in her book, and about how, after all these years and after all of the novels and other books she has written over the decades, she is still most remembered, by some at least, for her brief relationship with Salinger.

I feel a certain sympathy, even some empathy for her. But Joyce, you still betrayed me more than forty years ago. I should be over all that, I know. The truth, nonetheless, is that I hardly knew ye.

Sacred Music Friday: One Bread One Body

Church of Saint Michael – Stillwater, MN

LED lighting has come into its own

Like most of us I have been using CFL light bulbs as the incandescents have been phased out. They work well, but being fluorescent they are somewhat toxic as they contain trace amounts of mercury.

I have long had my eye on LED lighting, but that was traditionally on the expensive side. No longer.

A while back I needed to replace an indoor flood in the kitchen. What Lowe’s had was a box of reasonably priced LEDs, which I bought. The light was clear and bright. Very nice.

More recently I needed to replace two CFLs in my office that had burned out and I saw that I only had one in the cabinet. I make a point of buying the daylight part of the spectrum as that helps alleviate my winter blues when the days are short. I went to Amazon and found that the daylight LEDs were cheaper than the daylight CFLs. Now that is a major reversal. I bought a box and am pleased with the bright, clear light I get.

We can now move away from CFLs and migrate to LEDs. That is a Good Thing.


Circe coverCirce
Madeline Miller
Little, Brown and Company (April 10, 2018), 400 pages
Kindle edition $13.99, Amazon hardcover $17.33

I generally read books on my iPad Kindle app, and I usually only pull out my iPad in the evenings after we have read our newspapers. I read the hardcover edition of this book, as it was in the house since Terry had read it. That meant I might pick it up at any point throughout the day, which I did.

Madeline Miller has degrees in the classics, that is the study of the Greek and Latin languages and Greek and Roman literature, history and archaeology. She made superb use of that knowledge in her first novel, The Song of Achilles, as she does here. Both books are written in the first person, and both in the voice of a minor character in Greek mythology: Patroclus, companion of Achilles, in the first and the witch Circe in this book.

In both books Miller stays true to the mythology that we have while expanding, filling in, and speculating. In the Odyssey of Homer the story of Circe is one episode in the expansive epic, but Miller makes en entire novel out of the character, the daughter of the Titan Helios and Perse, a minor nymph. In this book we see many of the figures in Greek mythology including Athena, Hermes, Daedalus, the Cretan king Minos, and others.

Much of the novel involves Circe and her relationship with Odysseus. While early on the Odysseus that we see is very much the wily trickster that we know from the Odyssey and other mythology, the Odysseus she portrays after his return to Ithaca is that of a bitter, unhappy man. The end of the book is, well, a surprise and an interesting speculation on how Circe might have ended up.

If you enjoy mythology you may well find this novel engrossing.

not fettuccine alfredo

penne pasta alfredoI was planning our dinners, and it occurred to me that I hadn’t made fettuccine alfredo in quite some time. I bought the alfredo sauce, but rather than buying fettuccine, which we were out of, I used penne pasta. I sometimes get tired of the long pastas: fettuccine, angel hair, spaghetti. They tend to be a lot of work at the table when you need to either wrap them around your fork or cut them with the fork. Using the penne made the meal nice and easy to eat and we got the full flavor of the alfredo sauce.

For the protein I cooked pieces of chicken seasoned with Cajun spice.

It all worked out very well.

new Birkenstocks

I had my most recent pair of Birkenstocks for a very long time. I don’t know how long, probably ten years, perhaps more. They are made to last.

new BirksBIrk insideRecently, however, I noticed some nasty chafing on the top of my right foot. Taking a look I saw that the leather had worn through, exposing the underside of the buckle. Yikes!

I don’t make purchases lightly these days, and Birkenstocks are not cheap and rarely if ever on sale. They are an important part of my day, however. I put them on each evening. I knew that buying a cheaper brand of sandal simply would not be the same.

So I chose to spend the money, and I’m glad I did. I’m expecting another ten years out of this pair.