Sunday, November 17, 2013

Autumn Thoughts

1. The mist soaks through my boots
Presumably through osmosis
And it creeps into my bones
Where my soul lives

2. I hear the tip pitter tap patter
Of dry leaves brushing gravel
But it is my black beauty
Clattering on dog claws

3. The season is palpable
In the warm cold air
In the glowing face of the full moon
In the glimmer in my partner's eyes

According to, tonight the full moon is in Taurus, allowing us to clearly see the beauty in things. Maybe it's just because I read about it this morning, but this has definitely been true for me today. At BJ's, Elijah became engrossed watching this giant mechanical nutcracker "play" a little drum. Usually that would creep me out something fierce; I hate animated inanimate objects. Today I was able to see it through a child's eyes, fascinating and wonderful. When I was driving home I saw beauty in a MOST unexpected place. You know how there's that part of your mind that thinks thoughts before the rest of your mind has the chance to catch up and be rational? That part of my mind thought, "What a lovely stained glass window!" before the rest of my mind caught up and said, "That's the Burger King sign as seen through the branches of a tree, Captain Oblivious." I felt really stupid at first and a bit miffed by being taken by surprise by such a mundane, even disliked, object. But then I realized it's just like God. Beauty, like God, is in every thing, even things we don't like. Because we have the "second thoughts" the "observer," who places limits on our unfiltered perception, we are so often unable to see it but there It is regardless.

Have you found God, Beauty, or any other wonderful thing in life in an unexpected way?

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Eggplant Sandwiches of my Dreams

I had a dream recently that my mother and I were in the kitchen cooking. She was making eggplant sandwiches and I was making cheese sauce, which was getting all over the place! I have no idea what the dream is supposed to mean symbolically (maybe that my motherly side is of substance, while my childlike side is like character junk food?), but I woke up with the compulsion to make eggplant sandwiches. Let me clarify that I do not mean some eggplant between slices of bread. Rather, the eggplant substitutes the bread. And it's battered and fried. Is your mouth watering yet? In between the succulent yet crispy eggplant slices is gooey mozzarella cheese and savory prosciutto with sweet and spicy marinara sauce. If your mouth isn't watering now, check your pulse, you're dead. There was one obstacle in my way to preparing this delicious dish. (And for once it wasn't funds!) I have no idea how to cook eggplant, let alone batter it. So I did what any reasonable Tech Gen-er does, I asked my Facebook friends. And then I posted pictures of the result. And then people wanted the recipe. So here, by popular demand (sort of) is the recipe for eggplant sandwiches. It's stupid easy. Serves 2. Prep and cook time about 20 min.

 Eggplant Sandwiches over Pasta Marinara

 You will need:
A big ass pan. Mine is like 12" in diameter
A small sauce pot
A medium pot
A sharp knife, a large-ish spoon, a fork
A large colander
A small colander or steamer basket
A small bowl
Tomato sauce
A large-ish eggplant
Two eggs
Some flour
Some sort of pasta. I used fettuccine but linguini or spaghetti would be fine. 
Some fresh kale (I used three leaves of the dark green curly-leafed kale, but kale is something you want to use to taste. Fresh spinach would be a good substitute. You could also add 2 or 3 mushrooms.)
Italian spices
Garlic powder
Half an onion
Olive oil
Mozzarella cheese rolled up with proscuitto (You can skip the prosciutto if it's prohibitively expensive for you or want to go vegetarian with it. It doesn't make a huge difference. Don't buy that crap shredded "mozzarella" in the bag though. It's bad for you and it sucks.)
Grated Parmesean cheese
I know that looks like a lot of stuff but it's really not. Trust me, I'm a doctor. No, I'm not, actually; that's an even better reason to trust me. [Dah-DUM-Schi]

1.  Go ahead and get out all your pots and pan; it's just easier this way.
2. Cut the eggplant in slices about 3/4 in. thick and remove the peel. You'll need eight slices. My friend told me to salt them and put them in a paper towel to soak up the excess moisture but that sounded like a time-consuming pain in the ass, so I didn't and they turned out great. Oh yeah, chop up that half onion now too.
3. Crack a couple eggs and scramble them. Get out your flour.
4. With a spoon or your fingers, sprinkle a layer of flour on the eggplant slices, flip and repeat.
5. Grab that egg and spoon it out onto the slices. This is sort of a pain. It will get everywhere. You'll have to smear it around with the back of the spoon. Then you'll get tired of that and just use your hands. Theoretically, you could just dunk the slices into the egg but I figured this would get the flour everywhere. Ask someone smarter than me about that, I guess. Flip slices and repeat.
6. Repeat the flour step. Flip, repeat.
7. Coat your pan with a medium-thickness layer of olive oil and turn the burner on medium. Throw in that onion.
8. Pour your sauce into the small pot and turn on medium-low.
9. Your oil is ready to throw the eggplant on when you sprinkle some water in and it spatters.
10. Place the eggplant slices in a single layer in the hot oil. Be careful or you'll lose your eyes! Don't bother moving the onion out of the way, it will stick to your eggplant slices and will taste delicious! Turn the heat down to medium-low.
11. Sprinkle a thin layer of salt, pepper, and garlic on the top side of the eggplant slices.
12. Throw some Italian spices in with the sauce (to taste) and cover, stirring occasionally.
13. Put the pasta water on to boil (high heat). Use the small colander or steamer basket to steam the kale over the pot. Cover the pot. Throw the pasta in when it starts to boil (turn the heat down a little).
13. Flip the eggplant slices when the bottom side is golden brown and it looks like they're starting to get mushy, but not all the way through. You might have to shuffle them around a bit; if your pan is warped at all it won't heat evenly and some slices will cook faster than others. The middle will always cook fastest, so you'll want to swap that one with the one from the coolest part of the pan (the least brown slice). After flipping, do a very light dusting of the salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
14. When the kale loses crispness, but is not yet soggy, take it out of the steamer and throw it in with the pasta sauce. Now is also a good time to throw in your mushrooms, if you so choose. Please don't forget to wash them and chop them into slices about 1 cm thick.
15. Your eggplant is done when the new bottom side is golden brown. Identify which slices are a similar size and shape. Slice the mozzarella (about 1 cm thickness) and place in a single layer on four of the slices, top with the corresponding piece. Cover if you have a lid big enough. Turn off the burner (or put to lowest setting for gas burners).
16. Your sauce and pasta should be done by now. Turn the sauce off, give it a good stir. Drain the pasta.
17. Flip your little sandwiches and cover again.
18. Plate your pasta, spoon sauce over it, leaving a small amount in the pot. Dust with generous amount of Parmesean.
19. Place your sandwiches on top of the pasta, and spoon remaining sauce over them. I originially envisioned the sauce between the slices rather than on top, but I think that would interfere with the mozzarella melting and sticking the slices together.
20. Enjoy with a glass of red. I had Shiraz Cabernet, but could have gone for something a little lighter.

Cheap chicken soup from scratch.
1. Buy a rotisserie chicken.
2. Eat it until you can't stand it.
3. Put the dessicated carcass in a big ass pot and completely cover with water, simmer on medium-low for, like, ever.
4. Throw in whatever random veggies and starches you have laying around the house.
5. Add a carton of chicken broth.
6. Simmer it for another eternity.
7. Take out all the bones.
8. Delicious.
9. You'll have tons left over unless you throw a party. Freeze that shit.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Small Miracles

You may remember from my first blog that I experienced a small miracle in BJ's, regarding telepathic Virgil's soda. Well, I had another BJ's miracle today. It was a series of small miracles, actually. The first miracle was the arrival of our rewards card. (When you're a rewards member they send you a card every 6 months with a value of 2% of however much you spent there in the preceding 6 months.) This was a miracle because I have 4 cents in my bank account and had coupons for some items I couldn't afford that would expire before Eoin was able to give me my weekly allotment again. So I very carefully selected the items to make sure it didn't exceed the amount on my card. When I got to the register I owed 65 cents. Luckily, I had 65 cents handy. But I thought to myself, "That's not right at all. I calculated carefully, there should be like $10 left on that card." Well, I realized JUST BEFORE I left the store that I hadn't given the cashier my coupons! So I ran over to the customer service desk. I approached nervously because I didn't know if they would give me the refund like they normally do since I had paid with my rewards card. But she did! Why is that a miracle you ask? Because I really didn't need the $10 for BJ's, I needed it to pay for my unwise ebay purchase of three Stark Trek magazines! (I bid before I knew I only had four cents in my account.) If I hadn't made that stupid mistake I would be stuck needing $10 cash, with $10 plastic I can't spend! It's even enough for another small purchase I've been setting myself up to make before October 1st! This reinforces a very important lesson: When you think you've done something stupid or you think something bad or inconvenient has happened, it is just Spirit shuffling things around to be more beneficial to you. It's up to you to recognize it and take advantage of the opportunity.

I also experienced a sort of bait and switch miracle. Over the course of this little shopping adventure I got a call from a friend, saying her mom's cat had attacked a squirrel and she needed the address of the wildlife rehab center I used when my dog tried to eat a turtle (we named him Crunchy). I have no idea what their address or phone number is, or even what they're called! But the miraculous part is that, although we're usually at least an hour apart, I just happened to be only one minute from her at the time AND I was with our mutual friend who hasn't seen her in a long time. So I told her I'd come scoop her up and show her where the vet is. I thought that was the miraculous part. But I found out the real miracle as I was leaving the store... The squirrel, who had been acting quite poorly off, up and ran away, perky as you please! Goddess bless the little baby and keep him safe from cats and all manner of harm! Hopefully it was a learning experience for him!

So, the miracles continue... On my way home I was thinking, "Boy, I really need some extra money. Where am I going to get extra money? My birthday already happened and Christmas isn't for months!" When I got home I had a message from a friend who wants a Tarot reading tomorrow night! This reinforces the important lesson: God provides!!! And another important lesson: Building bridges rather than burning them will always bring you to the greenest pastures!

Another beautiful little bit just happened as well. I was chatting with a friend about my schedule naturally reverting to "nocturnal" and at the moment I typed "nocturnal" I heard an owl hoot! I've never heard an owl hooting at my house before, but it chose that exact moment to do so. No, I wasn't imagining it; he continued to hoot after that. This reinforces the lesson: Synchronicity is always happening. Spirit is always trying to give you reminders that She is ever present!

All in all it was a beautiful day! Losing my bracelet somehow is a perfectly acceptable payment for all the little miracles I've experienced. (I'm pretty sure I flushed it down my friend's toilet! Haha! Hope it doesn't screw up her plumbing!) [Update: I found the bracelet the next time I chilled with that friend! The weird part? I found it at my house, under the baby's changing table. Which means it fell off before I even left the house to go see her. Even though my friend's mom swears she saw me wearing it, she even described it to me. Tell me how THAT makes any sense in the mundane, linear world we all think we live in!]

I hope you all have days as providential as mine! Have you experienced any small (or large!) miracles recently? Share them with us in the comments!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Ode to Luna Llena

Rainbow Moonbeams
Kiss the clouds
Caressing her bright visage
Softly whispering
Sweet nothings
In my soul.

Shining Madonna
Floating gently
In that dark ocean
Enigma in engima
Like Russian dolls
With sweet painted faces

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Errors of Education

I recently read an article claiming children shouldn't enter formal school until 6 or 7 because they need time to develop social skills. I find that ridiculous. Where are kids going to learn social skills if not in school? Not everyone lives in a nice neighborhood where there's lots of kids your child's age; I don't. I don't even have any friends who have kids my child's age. Don't misunderstand, I realize that, for example, home schooled children have access to social activities through churches and rec centers and so forth. However, in considering whether or not to home school my son when the time comes I keep coming back to the issue of diversity. I think school is simply the best way to expose your child to maximum diversity because it has the largest sample of the population. Yes, there will be "bad influences" but it's important for kids to know all sorts. I grew up in richly diverse schools all the way through college and it has been one of the most valuable aspects of my life. It gave me the ability to see things from the perspective of people who come from vastly different backgrounds. It gave me the ability to communicate and get along with people from all walks of life. Most importantly, it gave me an intuitive understanding that not everyone is like me, nor should they be. One of the most distressing aspects of our society is the need to be "right" at the expense of understanding that sometimes, often even, there is no such thing as "right:". It reminds me of my mother's books about creativity, which remind us that there is rarely one right answer.

This brings me to what really makes my blood boil: The woeful inadequacy of education on the United States.Our educational system hammers it into children's heads that there is only one right answer, thus stripping them of their God given creativity. Think about the tests you took in school. Often multiple choice, right? Think about that for a moment. Think of the implication that is subtly infecting our children's minds when they see that out of many possible answers only ONE is right. This sort of mentality has very real consequences for how people interact with life. It leads to a constrictive notion that there will be horrible consequences if they chose the wrong answer, even if such a thing does not exist, as is often the case. It leads to the idea that if someone has a different perspective they must be wrong. The sort of thinking that has made our political system the mangled train wreck it is today. This sort of mentality is even applied in subjective areas of study. The humanities are the subjects in which you are most likely to have been tested by essay. That seems like it would be better, right? It gives children a voice, an impetus to think critically about something. Unfortunately, even this is often pigeonholed into the right/wrong paradigm. Instead of justifying your position on (for example) the symbolism of the scarlet letter or the implications of the cultural divide in the republican party, one is forced to justify their teacher's position. And don't even get me started on the disgraceful lack of respect these crucial subjects suffer from. (They're called the humanities for a reason, they're the study of that which makes us human!) It would be bad enough if this were the only malady from which our education system suffered, but it gets much worse.

Returning to the aforementioned infuriating article, it boggles my mind that we continue to underestimate children at every opportunity. The suggestion that we strip our children of two years of learning is offensive to me. Children are ready to be challenged, to have their minds broadened, from the moment of birth. I could add, subtract, multiply, and divide by the time I was in kindergarten at age 4, about to be 5. With pennies, not on paper, to be sure, but teaching concepts and applications is far more important than teaching methods. Yet another bass ackwards aspect of current educational practices. Moreover, I could write words like my name and address when I entered school. I remember my best friend could even write his name in cursive. Yet what was I doing in my SECOND year of school? Getting yelled at by my teacher for writing my "t" from top to bottom instead of bottom to top! It's ridiculous! The problem isn't the age at which kids go to school, it's the curriculum. Or lack thereof, as the case may be. Kids are far more able than we give them credit for. We should be challenging them more, not coddling them more. Someone who commented on the infamous article was angry that her grandchild was learning Spanish in elementary school instead of "being a kid". Kids SHOULD be learning Spanish before they're even 4. I speak to my son in Spanish at every opportunity. I count to him in 6 languages (to 3, that is, only in three languages to 10). My cousin is a languages teacher and her son could count to 10 in three languages when he had barely just begun to talk! The younger you are when you learn a language the easier it is to learn and the longer it is retained. That is scientific fact. The ability to learn a language drops off precipitously when one gets older; even by middle school it's "too late". Elementary schoolers should be doing algebra and learning world history instead of doing the same thing every year for 6 years. There's no reason 10 year olds should have the same curriculum as 5 year olds as was the case when I was in school. I recently watched a TED Talk by an educator named John Hunter (embedded below for your convenience). He has his students doing complex problem solving that emulates global realities... in the 4th grade! This is stuff they didn't trust my generation to do until college, and by then it was too bloody late! We'd already been dumbed down too much by low expectations and terrible teachers. I hope you don't take this to be arrogance, but I was generally recognized as one of the smarter pupils in my K-12 days. Yet I consistently observed that the international students at my college were better prepared for collegiate expectations than I was. I specifically remember a Nepali woman about my age in my World Politics course who outclassed me in virtually every way. I was astounded how superior her education was, being from a place most Americans think of as a third world backwater. I think she may have even spoken better English! HA!

I look back on my education now and see a clear division in the sorts of teachers I had. There are a few shining stars, almost all humanities teachers. Mrs. Ogliaruso, who taught us about the scientific method in hands on experiments in matter density in the second grade. Mrs. Nunnally, my fifth grade history teacher, who taught us to look at history from perspectives other than just the victors' and took us on more field trips than I can count. Mrs. McGloine, my AP Euro teacher, who taught us to evaluate sources for bias and to see history as a story rather than a set of absolute facts. Sra. Solomotis, my Spanish III teacher who recognized that pupils are people, not objects, not challenges to be overcome to reach the next paygrade. Sra. Cosimano, my Spanish IV and AP Spanish teacher, who immersed us in the language AND the cultures of those who speak it. Ms. Watson, my AP Government teacher, who taught us to cherish our freedom, to understand the document which protects it, and to look at politics as a process rather than a popularity pageant. Unfortunately, these are just the bright lights of an otherwise dismal abyss of people who truly do teach because they cannot do. I had a math teacher (7th grade advanced math - algebra) say to us, "I'm not a math teacher, I'm an English teacher. I don't understand this stuff and y'all little people have a language all your own. You gonna have to teach each other." And she literally sat at her desk all year while we taught each other algebra. (I take leave to doubt she would have been a very good English teacher either, as she didn't seem to have a very good command of the language herself.) She's now a principal. I'm not sure if that's a blessing that she can't undereducate children any more or a curse that she is in charge of evaluating the next generation of teachers and students. Another horror, I had a teacher who had so little knowledge of her subject (World History I) that I had to raise my hand during a test to tell her that none of the multiple choices for a question were correct. You might put this off as a typo, but I then had to find the exact page in the book that discussed the Battle of Tours because she didn't believe me and didn't know what the correct answer was! It probably won't surprise you if I admit I don't either anymore. It probably also won't surprise you that this teacher went out of her way to make the rest of the year miserable for me, including not letting me make up a test that I missed because I was out sick. There was an English teacher I had junior year; American Literature was her subject. She graded her papers solely on the basis of how much she liked you. She was a vile human being. She told one of my friends "You're not fit to live" for being a lesbian. Then there was the long-term substitute that took over for my Algebra II teacher in the second semester. She was retired, just filling in for my teacher while she was on maternity leave. Every. Single. Student. Failed. Now if you ask me, that's a better indication that SHE had failed as a teacher. She was replaced after that quarter. The next quarter every single one of us got As. I'm not sure that reflects any better on the teacher who replaced her. I couldn't tell you a single thing I learned in that class other than that the Barefoot brothers look nothing alike and that jocks like Matt Barcus aren't always jerks. Our children spend more of their time with their teachers than they do with their families, and these are the people to whom we entrust them? We probably take more care with whom we hire as babysitters than teachers! To begin to reform our educational system, we must start with the teachers. This will mean keeping a closer eye on teachers, evaluating them on more than mere SOL scores. Yes, this may also mean paying them a better wage than we do now. Don't have a conniption fit. We could afford to do it if we cared more about our children and less about our wars and allocated our funds accordingly. (More on this in a blog to follow.)

To end on a positive note, let me return to John Hunter. He is truly an inspiration. He embodies everything that education should be: free-thinking, inter-active, student-led, creative. I could go on and on about how to reform the educational system (as I originally intended) and I probably will, some time when it's not 3am and I'm not too angry to be solution-minded rather than problem-oriented, but in the mean time, I'll let him speak for me. Every one should watch this talk and every student should take this class!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Dull daisies droop low
Beside the lilies in their neat little rows.
Parched petals kiss the pavement,
As if too shy to show their faded ornament.
Reminding that beyond the blush of bud and bloom
The winter-bringing autumn looms.
Though sun is master for today
The Frosty thief will steal his warmth away.
And so the flowers now relinquish their plumage
And the trees will follow shedding their foliage.
Unimaginable in the moments dry heat
The dull daisies hint at the wet and cold of snow and sleet.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Freedom Pies

I considered writing a rousing yet sappy blog on liberty and the corruption thereof, but I'm not sure I want to pollute this space with politics and the negativity it breeds. So instead, I'm posting a recipe for that quintessential American treat, apple pie! I think it will do your soul -and mine- a lot more good than an enraged rant! Plus, it will make you oh so popular at your Independence Day BBQs this weekend!

Whenever I bake, I Google, Google, Google until I can't take it anymore. Then I create my own recipe, blending the best together. The recipe below is one such little mezcla. My top 3 sources are cited at the bottom.

Also, in baking recipes they give you the ingredient measurements for this part and that part separately, which makes sense for when you start using them but doesn't help when the baby's crying, you're trying to get to the store, you don't know if you have enough flour (eggs, butter, etc.), and you're thinking "How damn many damn teaspoons are in a damn cup?! Aaahhh!". (Apparently, 48) For this reason I've included a master list of ingredient totals before the recipe. Specific ingredients lists are given before the instructions for the pertinent part of the recipe.

Finally, use your head. In so many recipes it specifies to use this or that particular pain-in-the-ass thing. I based this recipe on what I keep in the house. If you want to zest a lemon and/or and orange and/or go buy special chunky sugar to top your pie crust, that's your business. (Hopefully, if you do, it is your business, because if you're doing that for personal enjoyment you should probably just give that time and/or money to some starving African kids or homeless dogs or something.) But I didn't include it because I think it makes recipes overly complicated and not user friendly.

Freedom Pie

Yield: One 9” pie (8 servings)
Prep Time: 20 Minutes (plus time to refrigerate crust dough - 30 minutes minimum)
Bake Time: 50 minutes

For you health nuts, et. al., one website gives this nutrition information:
1 serving (1 piece) equals  
    414 calories
    16 g fat (7 g saturated fat)
    14 mg cholesterol
    227 mg sodium
    67 g carbohydrate 
    2 g fiber
    3 g protein

Total Ingredients:

1 egg
6-8 apples (or 3-4 lbs or 8 cups) (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Cortland, and Jonathan are commonly recommended. I used Fuji, FTW)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
3 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
14-18 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 7/8 sticks – 2 ¼ sticks)
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening (optional)
½ cup (6 to 8 tablespoons) ice water
1 tablespoon milk

 Crust Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup (6 to 8 tablespoons) ice water
choice of the below:
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
(refrigerate dough 4 hours)
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and diced
1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening

(refrigerate dough 30 minutes)


Crust and Baking Instructions: 

1. Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture.
2. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor or large bowl.
3. Add the butter (and shortening, if desired) by pulsing 8 to 12 times (or use your fingers or two bread knives, cutting opposite ways) until the butter is the size of peas.
4. With the machine running (or your tired little hands still working) add the ice water until the dough begins to form a ball.
5. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball.
6. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate as described above.
At this point you should either be moving on to the filling, going the f... to sleep, or doing some other likewise productive activity. After what is sure to feel like a million years for one eager to eat pie...
7. Sprinkle flour onto rolling surface.
    I. Tip: I used plastic wrap. That way cleanup was easy and I could just flip the dough into the pan instead of trying to peel it off and pick it up without tearing.
    II. Tip. You will need to constantly flour the rolling pin and dough, otherwise the dough will just tear off when you roll it.
8. Cut the dough in half.
9. Roll each piece into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn't stick to the board. (Honestly, I didn't do this. Dough was too flimsy.)
     I. Tip: I needed to add more cold water at this point but I only used half the water when making the dough.
     II. Tip: Press rough edges back in to keep dough both from cracking and from becoming an irregular shape.
10. Place one circle in the pie pan, making sure it fits snugly, with about 1/2 inch overhanging the rim. (If it's too small, just put it back on the board and re-roll it. Don't stretch the dough!)
11. Add filling and dot with butter. (See below)
12. Brush the edge of the bottom pie crust with the egg wash so the top crust will adhere.  
13. Place second circle over top, folding the extra from the bottom crust and pinching together with your fingers or a fork.
14. Slice about 5 slits in the top.
15. Top with egg wash. (See below)
16. Sprinkle with sugar.
17. Bake that bitch. 
      I. 400° for about an hour, depending on your oven.
      II. Tip: It's ready when the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling.
      III. Tip: To avoid excessive browning of crust edges, wrap in foil (just the edges, not the whole pie!) for the first 15-25 minutes of baking. In my experience, this is a bloody waste of time and tin foil, but it is consistently recommended in pie recipes. The recipe that recomended it this time says to bake at 375°.
      IV. Tip: If you're not down with foil, you could try baking at 425° for 15 minutes, then reduce to 350° for about 40 minutes.
      V. I baked at 400° for the first 20 minutes and 375° for a further 40 minutes and it came out perfectly.
18. Cool it, bro. On a wire rack, that is.
I somehow wound up with a bunch of extra dough. Eoin gave me the idea to roll it out and bake that too. I had plenty of egg wash left over, so I threw that on there with some sugar and cinnamon and it was pretty good. Obviously, you only put that in for a couple minutes.


Filling Ingredients:

6-8 apples (or 3-4 lbs or 8 cups) (Granny Smith, Golden Delicious, Cortland, and Jonathan are commonly recommended. I used Fuji, FTW.)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
¾ cup white sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons butter 

Filling Instructions:

1. In a small bowl, combine sugars, salt, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger.
2. Cut each apple into quarters.
    II Tip: Find a comfy chair.
    I. Tip: Peel the apple before you cut it, with a potato peeler instead of a knife, using diagonal strokes.
3. Cut each quarter in thirds, crosswise. (I thought the pieces could have been a little smaller, honestly, but it might have affected cook time, and it turned out fine anyway.)
4. In a large bowl, toss the sliced apples with lemon juice.(Seriously, large means HUGE!)
5. Add the sugar, spice, and everything nice mixture and toss to coat. (I always make a mess on this step. For less mess, you can use a large tupperware container with the lid on. If your bowls fit together right, you might be able to shake between them. Or just make a mess, whatevs.)

Topping Ingredients: 

1 egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon sugar


Topping Instructions: 

1. In a small bowl, beat the egg and milk until foamy.
2. That's it. There's only one step. The sugar is for sprinkling overtop, not for beating with the egg wash. You're done. Move on already.

Don't forget the vanilla ice cream!


Friday, June 28, 2013


Romanesque ants roam their olfactory avenues oblivious to obstacles, on an inexorable exodus from their kitchen conquests to their colony's core and then farther than before, to explore new mores of sinks and drink rings.

Their tiny bodies somehow supporting unbearable burdens of cake crumbs and chip mist, they march meandering lanes from baseboard to cheese board and back.

Their way, a labyrinth winding to a city under our world. The odyssey a mystery no man may see. We wander numbly through the world of the human being.

 Down our asphalt avenues, oblivious to aught but ourselves, on an inexorable exodus from our carbon conquests to our capitals and then further than before, to explore new mores of hedonism and humans being.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Inaugural Address

What happened to me recently illustrates how fast God grants wishes:
    I've been craving soda for about a week now, but I can't justify spending the money on something I don't like to keep in the house anyway. The only soda worth drinking, in my opinion, is Virgil's. 
 No preservatives, all natural ingredients, great microbrew taste, and if I don’t want to drink the whole bottle I pop a wine cork in it and it stays good for about a week. I promise I’m not being paid to write this.
However, their fine soda is prohibitively expensive for everyday consumption. So I was at BJ’s Wholesale Discount Club thinking, "I wish BJ’s sold soda worth buying, like Virgil's." At that exact moment, I turned around and *BAM* there it was! Virgil’s is usually $5 per 4pk at any normal retailer, at BJ’s it is $10 for three 4pks! The tale becomes stranger still; when I was putting them away at home, I found a bottle of Virgil's buried in the back of the fridge! It was there the whole time but I didn’t notice it; if I had it would have sated my craving and I wouldn’t have had the experience with which I was blessed.
Patient reader, you might think this is silly, but I think this is an example of God setting Life up just right for you to get a little present to remind you Spirit is looking out for you. (The emotion evoked in moments like this reminds me of when I was a kid and I would visit my dad's parents. PopPop would give me one piece of candy from his special stash in the end table drawer.) Not only did I get a lovely demonstration of God’s gracious serendipity, but the synchronicity continues, as the experience gave me the inspiration needed to write this, my inaugural blog.
   You see, there’s a reason I’ve called my blog “The Bridge”, for the same reason I call my divination practice “Bridge Tarot”, and it’s not just a play on my last name (Pethybridge). Please bear with me, though my train of thought might seem to switch tracks. If you’re a part of the online poker community you have probably heard of my father, who goes by mpethybridge online, the only man in the world (as far as we know) to offer poker coaching based on database analysis. It is a lovely coincidence that his “handle” sounds like “Empathy Bridge”. This gave me the inspiration for the name of my practice. Through both my divination practice and my writing I seek to be a bridge between you and Source, like the aforementioned experience was for me. I seek to facilitate communication and communion for what I hope will blossom into a personal relationship between you and God. Sometimes it is hard to hear God speaking in our lives. At some point in everyone’s life the busy-ness of it all can distract us from picking out the peace amidst the chaos. It is at those times we need a reminder that Spirit is with us, we need a guide to the source of the Divine voice echoing off the walls of the dark, uncharted cave that is Life. I find these guides in the voice of the trees as the wind rustles their leaves, in the thrice appearance of an animal or concept, in the words of a poet, in the song of a musical artist, in the honest advice of a friend. I am blessed and honored to have been allowed to be that guide to many people through the Tarot and it is my hope that what I set down here might also help the weary traveler as they seek Truth. So, welcome, bienvenidos, céade mile fáilte! I look forward to exploring the richness of Life with you!

Post Script:
    I just realized a further synchronicity. Virgil is Dante’s guide in the Divine Comedy!

An afterword on the spiritual tone:
    I have described myself as both a Pagan and a Christian in the past and have studied all major world religions/mythologies, in varying detail. I consider comparative theology my life’s continuing work. All of these perspectives influence me and my writing. I have come to consider myself a mystic, which means that I value the personal relationship with God over ancient hearsay. Mystics come from any and every religious tradition, but they will all tell you that God speaks with many tongues, wears many masks, and does not withhold Truth from any People or Seeker. I believe the religious traditions of the world are all wells, tapping the same underground river of Divine Truth. And I think it is possible for every single Human Being to dig their own well! I enumerate this because I don’t want to alienate anyone. I might write one day about Jesus, the next about Buddha, and the next about Bob Marley. I take Virtue where I find it, and I find it everywhere, because nothing exists that is not God.
   To my atheist friends, I don’t wish to alienate you either. There may be aspects of my writing that you can’t relate to on a word-for-word basis. However, I think you’ll still be able to share in the “richness of Life” that I seek to express here. For example, in this blog, maybe you don’t see it as Divine guidance but I’m sure you can appreciate and take comfort in the Wonder that such synchronicity happens.
I encourage everyone to view my work in the way that is most useful to you, regardless of what it meant to me initially. And I hope you’ll contribute to the richness and depth of Life by sharing your pertinent perspective and experiences in the comments!
   With much Love and Light, I bid you adieu, adieu, remember me…