The privilege of a lifetime

My husband mentioned that psychologist Carl Jung was born today (July 26) in 1875, just as I was trying to think of a good quotation with which to preface some photos to share here:

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” ~ Carl Jung

Last week we bought some zinnias to brighten up our front step. I tried to choose plants that had both some existing color and plenty of buds yet to open, and as the photos below show—one each from the past four mornings—we weren’t disappointed. In reviewing the photos today, I thought about how easy it is to miss the clear but small growth and blossoming we all make from day to day.

Sunday self-reflection: How have I made progress this summer toward being who I truly am, even in small ways or in places that no one else sees?

  • Day One
    Day One
  • Day Two
    Day Two
  • Day Three
    Day Three
  • Day Four
    Day Four

The Lunar Eclipse of July 16, 1935

mountains of Pluto

Recent images from NASA’s New Horizons mission show mountains that, according to New Horizons scientist John Spencer, “would stand up respectably against the Rocky Mountains.”

Pluto's Surface
Pluto’s Surface (NASA photo)

From CNN’s Amanda Barnett:

“The height of the mountains is important because it’s a clue that there may be water on Pluto. Scientists know that Pluto’s surface is covered with nitrogen ice, methane ice and carbon monoxide ice. But Spencer says, ‘You can’t make mountains out of that stuff. It’s too soft.’

That leaves H20—water ice like we have here on Earth.

‘The steep topography means that the bedrock that makes those mountains must be made of H2O—of water ice,’ said Stern [New Horizon’s principal investigator]. ‘We can be very sure that the water is there in great abundance.’

‘Who would have supposed that there were ice mountains?’ said Hal Weaver, another New Horizons project scientist.

‘It’s just blowing my mind,’ he said.”

One of my daily pleasures is transcribing entries from my great aunt Hattie’s diaries, which she kept from 1920 – 1957, so that relatives and anyone else interested in everyday history can read them. The project has become almost a form of meditation on history and progress, life and meaning. This year I am posting entries from the years 1925, 1935, 1945 and 1955. This is from Hattie’s diary from July 16, 1935:

“Mr. Chauncey, Billie and Neil came last eve and brought us Peas and Radish and men watched Moon Eclipse from 9:30 until toward 11 o’clock.”

Lunar Eclipse, July 16, 1935
Lunar Eclipse of July 16, 1935 (AP Wire photo)

Canadian author Albert R. Hassard wrote in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada (Vol. 29, p. 321) that the July 16, 1935 full lunar eclipse was the “most interesting lunar eclipse it has been my privilege to observe.”

“The centre of the moon at totality had developed into a colour I have noted as ‘bloody red’, like the interior of a blood-red orange…. The moon had an ‘eerie’ appearance. One had to reflect for a moment or two to realize that the body out there was really our celestial sister, and not Mars, or some other strange object which had suddenly obtruded itself upon our view. The Milky Way was well defined, much clearer in fact than it oftentimes appears upon a clear and moonless night.

At the end of the total phase I cased observing. I was well repaid by what I had seen, and felt that such a spectacle as this might not again be seen by me in my lifetime.”

While Hassard observed the eclipse through a telescope, his description helps me to imagine the farmers and ranchers of rural South Dakota gathering on the wide open prairie, in essence a natural planetarium, to watch together a spectacle over 200,000 miles away. Just think of the wonder they would have upon seeing the images of the mountains of Pluto, which had been discovered only five years previously in 1930.

In our 21st century’s onslaught of headlines and information and clickbait, we are reminded to stop for a moment to indulge in the wonder of something truly awesome—inspiring awe and blowing our minds.

Lunar eclipse image: AP Wirephoto. [Photograph 2012.201.B0405.0011], Photograph, July 16, 1935; ( : accessed July 15, 2015), Oklahoma Historical Society, The Gateway to Oklahoma History,; crediting Oklahoma Historical Society, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Depression-era Fourth of July Celebration

July 4, 1933

How did rural America celebrate the Fourth of July during the Great Depression? With generosity, community, and fun. The following video features images and words from the Great Plains Diaries of Harriet E. Whitcher, July 4, 1933, Rosebud Indian Reservation, Okreek, South Dakota.

A Glorious Fourth of July

Eat with Dragons: Game of Thrones Vegetarian Recipes

IMG_8182 (2)

Sometimes I forget how relaxing, rewarding and motivating it is to spend a weekend afternoon in the kitchen. As promised, here are the vegetarian recipes I made to celebrate the Season 5 finale of Game of Thrones. Enjoy!

Volantene Chilled Beet Soup

Beet Soup
Volantene Chilled Beet Soup

“Sweet beets were grown in profusion hereabouts, and were served with almost every meal. The Volantenes made a cold soup of them, as thick and rich as purple honey.” (A Dance with Dragons, p. 86)

  • 3 cups cut red beets (trim and peel beets, then cut in about 3/4″ thick slabs)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange beet pieces in a single layer on a foil-lined baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until tender when pierced with a knife, 20 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven.
  2. When beets are cool enough to handle, combine with buttermilk, orange juice and sour cream in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.
  3. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours. Serve chilled. If you’d like, garnish with a dollop of sour cream or drizzle of buttermilk. Makes about 4 small servings.

Unpoisoned Mushrooms Bathed in Butter and Garlic

Unpoisoned Mushrooms Bathed in Butter and Garlic

“‘Mushrooms,’ the magister announced, as the smell wafted up. ‘Kissed with garlic and bathed in butter. I am told the taste is exquisite. Have one, my friend. Have two.’” (A Dance with Dragons, p. 27)

  • 8 ounces white button mushrooms, cleaned and halved (clean with a brush or paper towel rather than water so that mushrooms won’t get soggy)
  • 3-6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • Pinch of crushed dried thyme
  • Salt to taste

Sauté mushrooms, garlic and thyme in butter over low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add salt to taste (may not need to use much if using salted butter). Makes about 4 small side-dish servings.

Hobb’s Onion and Cheese Pie

Hobb’s Onion and Cheese Pie

“‘Hobb is baking onion pies,’ said Satin. ‘Shall I request that they all join you for supper?’” (A Dance with Dragons, p. 706)

  • 1 frozen deep-dish pie crust
  • 2 large (softball size) Vidalia or other sweet onions, peeled and sliced uniformly
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • large pinch of salt
  • 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar (the best quality you can afford)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Sauté onions in butter, olive oil and salt for about 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often, until onions are very soft and sweet and only slightly browned. Add balsamic vinegar, and sauté another couple of minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes. Drain any excess liquid.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. Sprinkle flour over bottom of frozen pie crust. Arrange grated cheese in a layer on the bottom of the pie crust. Add onions and arrange so that top of mixture is even. Pour egg mixture uniformly over onions.
  5. Bake until pie filling is set (when a knife inserted in the center emerges clean), about an hour.
  6. Remove from oven and cool completely before slicing (the filling tends to fall apart a bit, because of all the onions, but waiting to cut it helps). Makes 6 servings.

Queened Cherries with Cream

Queened Cherries with Cream

“Illyrio smiled as his serving men spooned out bowls of black cherries in sweet cream for them both. ‘What has this poor child done to you that you would wish her dead?’” (A Dance with Dragons, p. 29)

  • Fresh sweet cherries, pits removed
  • Cream or half-and-half

Serve cherries in bowls smothered with cream or half-and-half.

Vegetarian Mother’s Mercy Menu

I admit it: I am doing an inner happy dance with dragons in anticipation of tonight’s season finale of Game of Thrones. It seems fitting that this morning I finished re-reading the first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series and eagerly moved on to the next. The first time I read the books, I devoured them. This time, I am savoring, tasting and appreciating each chapter and phrase. Daenerys’s simple mantra “If I look back I am lost,” for example, fills her penultimate viewpoint chapter with a significance realized only by her later journey.

Another admission: While I am aware of (and have enjoyed following) all of the controversy regarding recent GoT episodes, I have enjoyed this season. I love the books and characters and world. I am bewitched by the television adaptation and actors and screenwriting. Where the two diverge (and converge) only increases my interest and enjoyment. If that makes me undiscerning, so be it.

Beets ready for roasting
Beets ready for roasting

Having just spent three weeks in London, we came home two days ago to a nearly empty refrigerator—except for more than half a dozen large sweet onions. So, this morning, while putting together a menu to celebrate “Mother’s Mercy,” I began with ingredients for an Onion and Cheese Pie, and the rest of the meal fell neatly into place:

  • Volantene Chilled Beet Soup
  • Unpoisoned Mushrooms Bathed in Butter and Garlic
  • Hobb’s Onion and Cheese Pie
  • Queened Cherries with Cream

The beets are in the oven now, filling the house with their rich, dusky aroma. I will post more photos and the recipes later tonight, and here are the sources of inspiration from A Dance with Dragons (page numbers refer to the Bantam 2011 hard cover edition):

  • Sweet beets were grown in profusion hereabouts, and were served with almost every meal. The Volantenes made a cold soup of them, as thick and rich as purple honey.” (p. 86)
  • “‘Mushrooms,’ the magister announced, as the smell wafted up. ‘Kissed with garlic and bathed in butter. I am told the taste is exquisite. Have one, my friend. Have two.’” (p. 27)
  • “‘Hobb is baking onion pies,’ said Satin. ‘Shall I request that they all join you for supper?'” (p. 706)
  • “Illyrio smiled as his serving men spooned out bowls of black cherries in sweet cream for them both. ‘What has this poor child done to you that you would wish her dead?'” (p. 29)

How will you be celebrating “Mother’s Mercy?”