Friday, September 27, 2013

Review of Charlotte's Web at the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis

Quote of the Day:  Old age is a special problem for me because I've never been able to shed the mental image I have of myself - a lad of about 19. E.B. White, author of the classic children's book, Charlotte's Web, Adapted for the stage by Joseph Robinette, Directed by Greg Banks, and performed by The Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN, September 17 - October 27, 2013.

Photos by Dan Norman
Ethan Davenport (Wilbur), Gerald Drake (Homer Zuckerman), and Brant Miller (Lurvy)
Charlotte's Web at The Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN

Emma Thvedt as Fern

The amazing Joanna Harmon as Charlotte. 
She was acrobatic in her web spinning, stunning!

Like the gifted author, E.B. White, I also maintain my childlike sense of wonder, especially at the theatre. Sometimes, I get so caught up in the show, that I forget I'm there to view and review. Then, I get lost again, accepting that mesmerized moment will come back as I type my review. I don't think I'm the only adult who laughed and giggle, sighed and cried along with the children as we watched the stunning performance of Charlotte's Web at the Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis.

Charlotte's Web is one of the most loved stories of all time. The characters are delightful, and the story endearing. My favorites have always been those silly gooses who say everything three times. And, the show really was terrific, terrific, terrific. The actors take on the movements of the animals they portray and give them life. Joanna Harmon's portrayal of Charlotte is breathtaking. She makes her entrance from above and descends the rafters of the barn. I gasped in awe, and Erin, who was sitting next to me said, "I want to play Charlotte." A girl after my own heart. However, you can't be afraid of heights to play Charlotte. She spent the entire show dangling from the rafters, weaving in and out, walking backwards up one way and down the next. She had acrobatic qualities, and must be exhausted by the end of each show.

Even when you know the story backwards and forwards, and wish for a different ending, you read it again anyway, or watch the movie, and in this case, see it come alive on stage because the story is so beautiful. It's about friendship between unlikely creatures, and it's about saving a life, only to lose it and have your heart broken, and then to learn that we go on living and loving and forming new relationships. 

Watching Charlotte's Web come alive on stage is a memorable experience. As we walked out of the theatre, Erin exclaimed, "We've got to come here more often!" I agree. Treat the kid inside of you to this stunning performance.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt:  What are some of your favorite scenes or characters in "Charlotte's Web?" What brings out the kid in you?

150 Mile Summer- Part 3

I remember being a young mother sitting in the living room of our student apartment over ten years ago. As my two small children tinkered there in front of me with Legos and plastic kitchen food, I wondered if I would ever have anything wise to say to them. Aren't children supposed to grow up and think back on some simple, but powerful, bit of wisdom they learned from their mother--something Mom always used to say? 

Would I ever say anything wiser than "never put play dough up your nose?"

It was a few weeks ago when I turned around to see Sophia struggling up the mountainside behind me. Her head was bent down in hopelessness and she was laboring over every step. It was a steep climb and we had been at it for a good while. The hot sun reflecting off the rocks around us settled oppressively on Sophia, adding extra weight to what was already the difficult task of moving forward.

Sophia is not usually one to complain while hiking. In fact, she usually leads the pack. But the trail to Snow Lake had her just about beat. Nothing in her posture reflected momentum or purpose. It was draining just to watch her.

"Go forward with purpose," I heard myself say to my daughter.

Go forward with purpose? Where did those words come from? They sounded sort of...wise, which immediately made me doubt they came from my mouth.

With Sophia plodding up only a few feet at a time between water breaks, I had plenty of time to consider the idea that just maybe our 150 mile summer would turn into the kind of memory I had hoped. Something our children could look back on and find real growth- wisdom even. And all at once in my mind came this collage of sage advice that somehow mysteriously escaped my mouth at one point or another this summer--

We can do hard things.
Hard things are always easier with a smile.
Go forward with purpose.
Stick to it. Follow through.

Weird. I'm pretty sure it was only yesterday I told someone not to stick play dough up her nose--I'm not talking about Lyla, either.

And if my children don't immediately appreciate all that wisdom and the persuasive family experiences that went along with it, they can someday read them here. When they do, I hope it will all come back to them and be magnified.

I can't end this three-part series about our 150 161 mile summer without sharing two noteworthy traditions attached to our family hikes. The first is turning on The Vinyl Cafe for some great stories on the ride home. If Stuart McLean hasn't told his way to the end of Dave and Morley's latest shenanigan by the time we pull in the driveway, we all sit there and stare at the garage door until he has. Our family loves good storytelling.

The second tradition sometimes serves as a slight distraction from the first, as each of us tries to stifle the noise of our growling stomachs. No matter how many snacks we snarf down along the trail, we inevitably get back in the car absolutely famished. 

The kids got so hungry on the way down from Cooper Lake that by the time they reached the car, they had a pretty catchy chorus going.

Gotta love the "you're out of tune" Beau manages to squeeze in at the very end.

I'm grateful for the opportunity to build memories and grow "wiser" with my children. Sometimes I wonder who's raising whom.

Click here and here for more about our 150 mile summer.

If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Spaghettini with Arugula and Black Olives

There is just nothing better than a plate of pasta, especially when fresh vegetables are involved.  I picked up some Organic Arugula at The Fresh Market.  Rather than use it in a salad,  why not toss it with some pasta?  The added flavors of black olives, hot pepper and garlic contribute to the overall  fresh and spicy taste of this dish.  Enjoy!
Ingredients: Ingredients for up to six people
One pound of Spaghettini
Place a large pasta pot of water to boil.  Add a tablespoon and 1/2 of salt to the water. 
One large skillet to accommodate your finished pasta dish.
3 tablespoons olive oil
One bunch of Arugula, cleaned, stemmed and left in large pieces
One or two large garlic cloves, cleaned and smashed (for easy removal before serving)
One 1/2 fresh chile to taste
One can black olives, sliced thin or diced in a food processor
Heat your oil in your skillet on Medium.   Add your smashed garlic and saute for just a few minutes until fragrant.  Do not burn or you will be starting over.   
Add your black olives and chile pepper and mix.  Heat for just 2 minutes until your olives sizzle just a little and are fragrant. 
Turn your heat off and add your Arugula.  Move your pan to a cool element, while your pasta cooks.   Your Arugula will begin to wilt from the heat of the pan.  

 Cook your pasta until al dente and toss.  Any pasta will do.  Remove the garlic from the pan before serving. 
Make some tonight.
Buon Appetito!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Minnesota Renaissance Festival, 2013

Quote of the Day:  Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself - and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That's what real love amounts to - letting a person be what he really is.  Jim Morrison

Oktoberfest was the theme at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, so we went because sometimes, you just need to get away, spend time together in a relaxed, unscheduled way, and enjoy. I spent a considerable amount of time this morning looking for a quote on getting away, attending festivals, getting dressed up and going out, but found nothing that fit. The above quote has little to do with any of that. It's just a good quote. In other words, be yourself, and hang out with people who embrace who you are. In some ways, that's what the Renfest encourages. You see all kinds of folks there, dressed up like fairies, pirates, knights, wenches, dragon-slayers, whatever is their fancy. I saw Moms & Dads and the kids all dressed up and having a good time. Couples of every kind were spending time together, buying cool stuff, and eating giant turkey legs. (That was the biggest food line!)

We tried on vests, then had to have'em!
Thanks for the birthday present!

The Chef, sportin' the colors!

Intense on the "Puke and Snot" show. 
They've been performing here every summer since 1974.

I got fun festival hair again!

I wish it would last longer!
When I took it out on Monday night, my hair puffed out like Hermione's in the potions class scene in the Harry Potter movie!

I think these two were headed to the Fairy Wing Forest!

We picked another large crowd day!
Great weather, fun theme, and much to see and do!

This performer has a trained raven. If you held out a coin, he'd pluck it out of your fingers with his beak.

A cask-totin' turtle.

I hope you have a chance to get out to a festival or fair, or some other social gathering. It's a hoot to watch the performers and the people. There are definitely some characters out there!

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt:  Do you dress up for festivals? What would you wear if you dared? Where do you get ideas for characters?

Pizza ai Frutti di Mare (Seafood Pizza)

A seafood Pizza is just perfect on a night when one doesn't feel like having pasta.  What no cheese?  In Italy, there are quite a number of dishes where cheese just doesn't belong.  This pizza is one of them.  Dairy is not often mixed with Seafood in Italy, however there are exceptions.   For now, savor in the this pizza with the flavors of the sea.  You might be pleasantly surprised. 
 I receive countless inquiries on how to make the perfect pizza crust.  The problem is, we tend to over think the simplicities of the every day kitchen.  Get your frying pan out and give this a try.  Another secret is pre cooking your seafood some in the same pan you will ultimately turn out your pizza.  The crust takes on all the flavor.  
There is no turning back.  Buon Appetito!
One 13 inch frying pan (Cast Iron, any size will really do).
3 large cloves of garlic, sliced in half (you will later discard them)
One pint of small cherry tomatoes
2 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon  hot red pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 cup of white wine (clams)
1 additional tablespoon of olive oil to brush onto your dough
6-8 jumbo shrimp, cleaned, leave the peeling on.   You will finish cleaning them before assembly on pizza
1 pound clams (baby, small, little neck or of equal kind), fresh or frozen with shells if available in your area
One pizza dough  recipe cut in half (I had one in the freezer, ready to go)
Unlike the usual pizza, using a skillet or frying pan requires some extra steps.
When dealing with fish and tomato's, there is almost always pre cooking involved.  Just be patient.  I promise it comes together.
Preheat you oven to 425 degrees/ bake/
Make appropriate adjustments for convection cooking.  I do not suggest it here.
Roll out your dough a bit larger than your skillet.  Leave it right on the counter.  Be sure there is plenty of flour underneath so it won't stick to your counter.
Heat your pan/skillet to medium
add your garlic and swirl in the pan.  Leave them large, you will remove them later.
Add tomatoes and smash them open with the back of a wooden spoon.
Add salt and cook for 5 minutes.  They will soften.  Let them almost stick to the pan.  
Remove them and place in a bowl.
Add your shrimp and cook for 1 minutes on each side/ remove into a bowl.  Mine were jumbo shrimp.  They will finish cooking later.

Add your clams, turn the heat up a little more and mix until heated.  If you are using fresh / frozen, keep mixing for a few minutes until the clams open.  Add 1/2 cup white wine and let the clams continue to cook until all the liquid is practically gone from the pan.
Place in a bowl.  Begin removing the meat from the clam.  Keep your shells for presentation.
Once your ingredients are cooked through, remove them from the pan.  Wipe out your skillet with paper towels.  Drizzle some cornmeal on the bottom of your skillet.  This will help to keep the bottom of the pizza dry, firm and crunchy when cooked.
Set it on the stove and carefully place your dough inside the pan.  Any overlap can be folded over.  You might need to cool your pan first some. 

 Let it rest inside your pan for 10 minutes.  With a pastry brush, brush some olive oil across your dough.  Sprinkle with salt. 
Place in a preheated, 425 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Keep a watchful eye on it.
Don't panic if it rises some again.  When its slightly stiff and light golden, remove from the oven. 
Carefully place your ingredients around your pizza.  Place your shells onto the pizza too.  You should remove them before slicing.  
Bake for 10-15 minutes more until everything is dark golden in color. .If you are not using jumbo shrimp, add them at the end, about 5 minutes or so before your pizza is ready.  
 Check under your pizza by lifting with a knife or metal spatula.  The pizza is done with the bottom is slightly golden and stiff, the cornmeal has stuck some to the bottom  and you can smell the fragrant pizza.  Don't forget to remove your shells from the top of your pizza before taking a bite.   There for additional flavor and you will impress your guests.
 Ovens will vary.  Grab some light, crisp, Pinot Grigio and enjoy!  Buon Appetito!
Special note:  Use the largest shrimp Possible.
Adjust your cooking time for a thicker crust.  This takes practice.  It's extremely important to pre cook your crust or your pizza will not rise while cooking and be to soft. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Review of Uncle Vanya at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis

Quote of the Day:  I hope that in the next world I shall be able to look back at this life and say: "Those were beautiful dreams..." Anton Chekhov (quote used in the program at the Guthrie Theater for the play Uncle Vanya by Anton Chekhov, adaptation by Brian Friel, directed by Joe Dowling.)

Andrew Weems as Uncle Vanya (Ivan Voynitsky) and Jim Lichtscheidl as Ilya Telegin (Waffles)
Photo by Joan Marcus

If you've ever wanted to see a production of an Anton Chekhov play, but were a little leery about connecting to a play written in the late 1800's in Russia, then The Guthrie Theater's production of Uncle Vanya is for you. Even if this isn't one of the events on your bucket list, I say add it, now. This is your chance to see superb actors bringing to life a classic piece that has been adapted for the stage by a living playwright, Brian Friel, who has kept the feeling of the setting, while making the play accessible to a modern audience.

Valeri Mudek as Elena, Jim Lichtscheidl and "Waffles", Andrew Weems as Uncle Vanya, 
and Emily Gunyou Halaas as Sonya, photo by Joan Marcus

The characters in the play are just like you and me, and the guy down the street. We're dealing with similar issues today, dissatisfaction with your position in life, loving someone who doesn't return the admiration, a longing for what could have been. The play even has an environmentalist concerned about deforestation. As each of the characters move through the story, as we move through our own lives, we examine who we are, where we came from, and what we'd really like to be doing. Some people remain stuck in the "coulda, woulda, shoulda" thinking, while others live in the moment, making the best out of what they have.

Jim Lichtscheidel as "Waffles", Andrew Weems as Uncle Vanya, and John Catron as Mikhail Astrov
photo by Joan Marcus

Chekhov, Friel, and the actors who portray the characters, do a nice job of adding levity to heavy subjects. I attended this show with the Biker Chef. I asked him to tell me three things he liked about the show. His first answer, Jim Lichtscheidl playing "Waffles." What a great comic relief character. He has humorous lines, a sweaty condition, and a great attitude about life. He lives in the present. The other great character who got many laughs was Nanny, played by Barbara Kingsley, wonderful. She reminded me of Estelle Getty's character in "The Golden Girls," well beyond holding back on an honest assessment of the characters or their situations.

Nanny played by Barbara Kingsley, and Robert Dorfman as Alexander Serebryakov
Photo by Joan Marcus

The third thing, the Chef and I agreed, that made the show was the music. Victor Zupanc, listed as the Music Coach, made the selections for this performance. Jim Lichtscheidl plays the guitar live on stage, and Nathan Barlow (Yefim, night watchman) sings a haunting melody during some of the evening scenes. This, along with piano music, set the mood of the show, beautifully.

Uncle Vanya is playing at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, MN, September 14 - October 27, 2013, on the Wurtele Thrust Stage. Go to their website for ticket information. We went on a game day, meaning the Vikings' game was also that afternoon and therefore, huge hikes in parking prices, but we were able to prepay for a spot in the ramp across from the Guthrie Theater. Call the box office for assistance with that, 612-377-2224.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt:  Make a list of the things in your life that give you joy and a feeling of satisfaction.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Thought I Loved You Then

"Do you want to listen to something?'

It had been quiet ever since we both sat down at our desks ten minutes earlier. We share an office, my desk facing one wall and his another. In the evenings, after the kids are all in bed, it is our retreat--nothing but the two of us tapping away at our keyboards.

"Yeah," I replied in perfect confidence, knowing my husband's taste in music mirrors closely my own.

He snickered as The Hamster Dance rudely interrupted the peaceful ambiance I crave after 9 pm.

"Uh...NO thank you."

I can always count on Wes to make me laugh at some point in the evening.

Within a few minutes he found something perfect on Spotify.

"Ooooh. This is nice," I said, recognizing the instrumental version of a song by The Fray.

More tapping on the keyboard.

"This is something you might hear in an elevator," I said. "You know, the easy-going instrumental version of a popular song."


"We just made elevator music our listening choice for the evening," I continued.  "I think that makes us old."

Truth be told, I love growing "old" with Wes.

A few weeks ago we showed our kids some YouTube videos of people running the Snake River. It brought back memories for both of us of falling in love in between our own river runs.

That night, in the the family room, ten wide eyes stared up at us, captivated by the stories of the younger versions of their mom and dad.

There's nothing quite like remembering that time when we were just beginning to define our lives by the other's presence. Each of us laying awake at night, wondering if the other could possibly feel the same way. Hoping the time apart, before we could see each other again, would pass quickly. Starting to picture the rest of our lives together.

All that is young love wells up in my heart again--only it's layered, compounded by fourteen years of complete emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual intimacy. A feeling hardly captured with a cliche, "I thought I loved you then."

And I know we're not ancient. But fourteen years of the kind of closeness marriage can foster makes me feel "old" in a good way.

The other day I sat in my car, bawling my eyes out as I listened to Fred's story of Sweet Lorriane on NPR. Have you heard the song he composed for his wife of 73 years?

Again, "I thought I loved you then," just isn't adequate.

How grateful I am for the covenants we have made in the Lord's temple. To know that though we grow old together and one day death will take us, we will be together again. Eternal marriage is a gift from a loving Heavenly Father, made possible through the Atonement of His son, Jesus Christ.

For more information on LDS temples and eternal marriage, go here and here.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Very Full Heart

There are some days I wish I could copy and paste into all my tomorrows.

Today was one of those days.

Every moment of this morning with Lyla was sweet. We ran a few errands, worked in the garden, ate, and read stories. Nothing unusual, really, but the sun seemed to shine on everything we did.

On Fridays, the kids have early release from school. So after piano lessons we had plenty of time to hike Twin Falls. Everyone kept up. Nobody whined. Nobody fought. The kids played by the river for a long time-throwing rocks, collecting pebbles, and playing survival games.

Dinner was easy- fish and lots of tasty vegetables from the garden. 

After everyone helped straighten up the house, I read aloud, alternating between picture books for the little ones and The Mysterious Bennedict Society. Reading to my kids makes my heart so happy.

At 8:45 PM the chanting started:

"Daddy's home! He's here! Dad! Dad!"

My own heart skipped a beat.

There's no way this man can feel unloved.

Tonight we bent our bedtime rules, grabbed blankets and pillows, and curled up to The Croods. I could devote an entire blog post to what I love about this movie.  I'm glad our whole family feels the same. It was nice to share some laughs together.

As we tucked their sleepy heads into bed tonight, the reality of my blessings overwhelmed me. I lose sight of them sometimes in the midst of all the demands of family life, but every once-in-a-while one of these days comes along with nothing to distract me from all that is good-so very good in my life.

My heart is full.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Alfredo's Pork Roast (Arrosto di Maiale con verdure)

Ingredients:  One 3 pound Pork Tenderloin
2 handfuls of fresh Rosemary  (one diced fine for baking/ the other for decoration on plate)
Handful of fresh Sage
A sprinkle of ground sage all over your meat
about 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
2 teaspoons pepper
2 teaspoons salt
one cup flour
one cup of white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil (plus more for the plate)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Roasted Vegetables:  2 pounds red potatoes, cleaned, sliced thin
1/2 pound baby carrots
2 tablespoons olive oil
one teaspoon salt
one teaspoon pepper
Place your vegetables into a bowl with the above ingredients and toss.

One large baking pan that can go from stove-top to oven (do not use a glass dish)
Oven string to tie your roast
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees/ bake
Method:  In a large skillet or baking pan, heat olive oil on low.  In the meantime, salt and pepper your meat.  Make tiny holes across the top and bottom of your meat and place some garlic and rosemary pieces into your meat.  Tie your roast.  When you tie your roast, it give it an even shape.  Turn your heat up to medium.   Coat in flour and place the meat into the hot pan.  Cook a few minutes on each side until golden.   When all sides are golden, (after 5 minutes), add your cut up vegetables, salt, pepper and mix. Add some additional herbs (Leave the herbs in big pieces so you can remove them before serving).  After just a minute, add your wine and let cook for about 6-8 minutes.  Place your pan directly into the oven for 45 additional minutes cooking time.  This is a very easy dish to make.   Cut up some additional rosemary for your plate for decoration, and remove your pan from the oven.  Your vegetables should be golden and meat completely cooked.  Use an oven thermometer if you are not sure.  Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing.  (If your vegetables are not golden, return your vegetables into the oven for an additional 5 minutes on light broil). 
Remember, oven temps will vary.  Don't be afraid to add additional cooking time depending on the weight of your tenderloin. 
Buon Appetito!

Some Pig Winners!

Quote of the Day:  
“Templeton was down there now, rummaging around. When he returned to the barn, he carried in his mouth an advertisement he had torn from a crumpled magazine. 
How's this?" he asked, showing the ad to Charlotte.
It says 'Crunchy.' 'Crunchy' would be a good word to write in your web."
Just the wrong idea," replied Charlotte. "Couldn't be worse. We don't want Zuckerman to think Wilbur is crunchy. He might start thinking about crisp, crunchy bacon and tasty ham. That would put ideas into his head. We must advertise Wilbur's noble qualities, not his tastiness.” 
― E.B. WhiteCharlotte's Web

Photo by Dan Norman, featuring Emma Thvedt as Fern

The winners for a pair of tickets each to a performance of Charlotte's Web at The Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis are:
Jodie Tweed Norquist
Jill Neumann
AnnaMaija Lee

Thank you for participating and congratulations!

I hope you enjoy the show!

Remember that the Children's Theatre Company offers a select amount of $10 tickets for shows. You need to call, or stop in to the box office, on Sundays, starting at noon. The tickets are available for the upcoming week. You can also visit their website (link above) or call, 612-874-0400. The show runs September 17 - October 27. That means, their first performance is tonight. Break a leg! And, Save the pig!

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt:  Have you ever saved anyone or anything?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hearty Fall Salad

With the kids all back in school and fall right around the corner, our menu is beginning to change. A few soups and chillies have already crept in on cooler days and I've been thinking more and more about my crockpot.

The other day Lyla and I went out to the garden to harvest what we needed for one of my favorite fall salads.

I came back inside with broccoli, red and green Winterbor kale, and red and green cabbage. Just about any cole crop will work, including thinly sliced Brussels sprouts.

Wash everything up and make sure it's good and dry.

The trick to a good salad with these robust veggies is to cut them up really small.

Set the vegetables aside and start making the walnut-pumpkin seed clusters.

Combine the following in a non-stick pan:
2 cups walnuts
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Stir often over medium heat until the liquid is just absorbed. The nuts should still look sticky, not dry. It's a quick few seconds between perfection and a tad overdone.

Pour out mixture onto greased wax paper, breaking up any large clusters with a spatula.

At this point I remind all my children NOT to touch the nuts. They are crazy hot. I allow them to cool a bit and then remind them AGAIN not to touch the nuts. Seriously, I've made these before around 4 PM and by 5 PM had hardly any left to go with our dinner salad. Buzzard children (head shaking).

Speaking of buzzard children...these Craisins WERE in a bowl, waiting to be the finishing touch for our colorful salad.

I've been lazy lately. No homemade dressing here.

All that's left is tossing it all together.

I served this the other day with grilled tuna on rye, but it goes so well with salmon. Not only do the flavors work well together, but the rich color of a good Alaskan salmon combines with the bold colors of the salad to create an incredible feast for the eyes.

Hmmm...I think I need to buy some salmon for later this week...

Hearty Fall Salad

Cut or tear in small pieces any combination of the following:
Brussels sprouts, thinly sliced

Set aside.

In a non-stick pan, combine the following:
2 cups walnuts
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water

Stir often over medium heat until the liquid is mostly gone. Pour nut-mixture onto greased wax paper, breaking up any large chunks with a spatula. Allow to cool.

To assemble, toss leaves with walnut-pumpkin seed clusters and Craisins. Dress with poppyseed dressing.

Sliced Asian pears make a yummy addition, too.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Richard Blanco Visits Brainerd, MN

Quote of the Day:  Of course, it is always good advice to write every day. But, it's not always possible to sit down at the same time every day and write a certain amount. What is important is to pay attention to the world, to life, every day. Paraphrase from Richard Blanco's presentation at Central Lakes College in Brainerd, MN, Sept. 13, 2013. What a thrill to meet the poet who was chosen to write a poem and recite it at President's Barack Obama's Inauguration on January 21, 2013. I shook hands with a man who has shaken hands with the President of the United States of America!

He said, "More than that. I hugged the president." 

We had a Meet & Greet Brunch before the presentation.

Richard Blanco and Krista Rolfzen Soukup

(left) Larry Lundblad, president of CLC, Richard Blanco and me

Richard Blanco sharing his writing style, his inspiration, and his beautiful poems.

I sat enthralled as Richard Blanco talked about his writing journey, which is also his life journey, and the one that led him to stand on the podium on January 21, 2013, and recite a poem that he'd written for President Barack Obama's Inauguration. He was discovered by someone connected to the president. "Your work was brought to my attention," he said. Something in Richard Blanco's story and his poetry resonated with President Obama, and the rest is history.

Richard has an expressive and captivating style. As he reads his words, I see the images. I hear the sounds,  and I can almost smell the pork roast and the spices from Cuban American kitchens in Southern Florida. The audience hushed at the emotion of it all, and laughed at the humor which is challenge to get into poetry, "but, I like that challenge," he said. He says that there is an emotional center of a poem, that moment when you open up to the poem as a human being. You "give in" to the poem. I think he was talking about it as a writer. I felt it as a listener. It's the point in the reading where I feel that emotional response. Sometimes it's laughter or an intake of breath. Sometimes, it's the moment when the tears come and start to roll down my face, like the line in his inaugural poem, One Today, "the empty desks of 20 children marked absent today, and forever." It represents our collective grief, what brings us together, and it doesn't matter in what kind of church they held those funerals. We all felt that emptiness.

Richard Blanco says that he is constantly asking, and trying to answer, the questions: Who am I? Where did I come from? And, Where do I belong? 

The book signing.

I'm still so happy to meet him, and star struck.

Dear Mr. Blanco,
Thanks for your inspiration!

Go. Create. Inspire!

Visit Richard Blanco's website where you can hear him reading his inaugural poem, One Today.

Journaling Prompt:  Have you ever met a famous person? Where do you have a sense of belonging?