A mother’s cooking lesson

vegetable tian

I am sitting here looking at all the beautiful cookbooks I have on my shelves: “The Way to Cook” by Julia Child, “Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics,” “The Silver Palate Cookbook” and “Bon Appetit.” Plenty to choose from, but I find myself more and more these days surfing the web for a recipe. Last month I wanted to make a chicken, mushroom and sherry dish for a holiday get-together. I could look through 10 to 20 books on my shelf or go to the Internet and in seconds get 10 recipes for that one dish. The websites give me pictures to look at and ingredient lists to shop from. Most helpful are the recipe reviews detailing what folks liked about the dish, what they served it with or how they adapted the recipe for themselves. I have to admit, those recipe books are quickly becoming “old school.” My magazine recipes are easier to search. I thought I was doing something pretty advanced when I snipped recipes from my cooking magazines and archived the ones I wanted to keep in plastic...

Housing choices for life

old woman looking out window

According to former MLB pitcher Vernon Law, “Experience is a cruel teacher. She gives the test first, the lesson afterward.” My neighbor quoted Law the other day in regard to the lessons she learned caring for her father. If she’d only known then what she knows now as a result of her experience, she said, the journey might have been better for both her dad and herself. This rang in my ears as I recalled a conversation I had with a woman named Mary over the holidays. This strong, stubborn Irish woman, who had lived through many challenges in her life without so much as a tear, was in front of me sobbing. “I never thought I would end up this way,” she said. “What way?” I asked. She recounted how she’d worked since she was a young teen and saved money with her sister to come to America. Once in the United States, she married and raised three boys. She and her husband put the boys through Catholic school, then college, then graduate school for two of them. But in her later years...

Living more by doing less


A friend of mine, a college marketing professor, amazes me with his ability to conversationally lay out his year in a way that gives him a clear picture of his future, recapping all the things he will plan for and look forward to. He’ll say, “In January I will attend a conference in Switzerland. In March I will go with my brother to visit my mum in India, and we will help her to sell some property. In May the next edition of my marketing textbook will be released, and I will travel to a few cities to meet with professors. When I go, I will take my daughter, who will be on break from college, to have some great father-daughter time and visit grad schools.” The picture he paints and plans for often involves travel, but it also includes personal and family highlights. I think sharing his plans with his friends in this way helps him to process what’s important in his life. I am a planner by nature, a card-carrying member of Life Planning Network, yet with this new year I’m thinking...