Love. Listen/Observe/Read. Act. Repeat.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Overheard in the Wolfe House #186

Paige (emerging from bedroom): Is he wailing?
[Sam (upstairs): Kitty! Oh, no!]
Peggy: Yes, I've been listening. I think I hear him laughing. (shouting upstairs) Sam, what's going on?
Sam (shouting downstairs): The cat is drinking from my toilet.

Monday, July 16, 2012

On writing, on reading and The Mayborn

People often ask artists who has influenced their work -- musicians, painters, sculptors, filmmakers, writers. It's a tough question to escape. I've asked it, but not too often, because I've found that many good artists don't seem keen on bringing that kind of consciousness to their work.

I write intuitively, too. I try to edit consciously. And editing often seems to be slightly under the influence of whomever I'm reading at the time.

(Except Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, and Joan Didion. They are always there.)

This year, Paige has left behind collections from University of Iowa students. Home of Iowa Writers Workshop, there comes from Iowa always something fresh, and often ever-so-slightly unworkable in those pages. I enjoy them. And my friend, RunnerSusan, has loaned me a dozen of her favorite works of fiction that have taken me down unexpected paths.

I took a break from reading the authors scheduled for this weekend's Mayborn conference to pour over essays for a writer's workshop. My essay, Carrion (see the pages on the left), has been accepted to the workshop, so I am reading the work of others who will be sequestered with me and our workshop leader. More new voices and ideas.

Like a book club, only on steroids, it's the eighth Mayborn writer's conference this weekend. It doesn't seem that long ago that I threw the manuscript for "See Sam Run" into the workshop to see what would happen. There won't be anything on that scale for me this weekend, but it will be for someone, and there is all that other talk of writing and reading and writing that is so inspiring to us all. I can't wait to see what this weekend will bring.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Overheard in the Wolfe House #185

Peggy (obnoxiously checking voice mail on speaker at the dinner table): Hmmm.
Paige (listening in): Well, way to go Mom. You got a call from a famous person.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Caramel Popcorn

I cannot believe I have not shared this recipe earlier, at least before I shared Parmesean Rosemary Popcorn.

When I was a teenager, I tried to make caramel popcorn by making the caramel recipe in Joy of Cooking and pouring it over the popcorn. We always had to eat it fast, because by morning, the brown sugar returned. Instead of caramel-coated kernels, they would be more like brown-sugar dusted.

When Michael and Paige were in nursery school (we were members of Cornerstone, a longstanding parent coop nursery school in Denton), one of the mothers brought homemade caramel popcorn to a school Halloween party.

It was incredible. I asked her what the secret was, and she said that after she made the caramel, she roasted it for an hour. Here's my version of her recipe:

Caramel Corn

3/4 to 1 cup popcorn, popped (about 10 cups)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt

Prepare a large bowl and a large cookie sheet by spraying with cooking oil. Pour the popped popcorn in the bowl.

Combine the sugar, butter, corn syrup and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium hit heat. Once the mixture is bubbling, do not stir, but wash down any crystals that stick to the side of the pan with a brush dipped in water. When you see a couple of wisps of smoke coming up from the caramel (after about 3-5 minutes of gentle boiling), immediately pour the caramel over the popcorn and stir well to coat. Pour the coated kernels onto the cookie sheet and roast at 225 degrees for an hour, stirring every 15 minutes.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Melon Pops

I hauled off a 10-pound watermelon from the farmer's market last week. We ate some straight, the seed-spitting way. We made salad. We made granita. I couldn't find the melon pop recipe. I thought I'd lifted it from epicurious or Martha Stewart websites, but I couldn't re-trace my steps.

I remembered that Sam really liked them and when that happens, I usually write it down. Found it in the recipe box last night.

Cantalope, honeydew, watermelon. Any melon will do.

Melon Pops
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup lime juice (or lemon if you think it goes better with the melon you're using)
1 melon, cut up (about 6 cups of chunks)
Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and boil to make a simple syrup. Cool. Puree half the melon chunks with half the lime juice. Then add the rest of the lime juice, melon and syrup and finish puree. Pour into molds and freeze.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Ok, I'm just going to come out and say it ...

When I wrote See Sam Run, I was filled with gratitude, and no small measure of awe, for the teachers and administrators of Argyle schools. It took a team to get Sam to high school graduation and we passed out nearly 250 "Team Sam" buttons to all those people who made it happen.

It started with Gaye Pittman, principal of Argyle Elementary, who turned off the school bells because they bothered Sam. She bought everyone time to figure out another way for him to get past his fixation on when the bell would ring.

What a heart they all had!

Now, again, our district is in the national news. Last time it was for that manufactured outrage over immodest prom dresses and dirty dancing. That was the class legacy my youngest took with her to an out-of-state college.

Yes, really.

This time it's because, as far as I can tell from reading news reports --

News9 new results for Denton
Texas mom accused of placing camera in locker room
Bradenton Herald
A North Texas middle school principal is accused of placing a hidden video camera in a locker room during her daughter's high school basketball game to see how much the coach yelled at the players.
See all stories on this topic »
Wendee Long, Middle School Principal, Accused Of Hiding Camera In Girls ...
Huffington Post
DENTON, Texas -- A North Texas middle school principal is accused of placing a hidden video camera in a locker room during her daughter's high school basketball game to see how much the coach yelled at the players. Wendee Long, 46, was indicted by a ...
See all stories on this topic »
Texas principal accused of secret locker room video of coach
Wendee Long, 46, principal of the Wayside Middle School in Fort Worth, was indicted last week by a Denton County grand jury. She posted $25000 bail and has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation by the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ...
See all stories on this topic »

Firefighters battle heat, house fire in Denton
Lexington Dispatch
DENTON | Firefighters with the Denton Volunteer Fire Department battled a house fire and temperatures in the mid-90s at a home on East Carroll Avenue on Thursday afternoon.
See all stories on this topic »
Mission Denton: Making Disciples
Dallas Baptist Standard
The Baptist Standard :: The Newsmagazine of Texas Baptists, Amber Gonzales--My first impressions of Mission Denton were not what I had imagined. It actually turned out to be much more intensive than I had originally thought—which is great!
See all stories on this topic »
Texas Principal Accused of Planting Camera in Locker Room
ABC News (blog)
If convicted, she could face a $25000 fine or 20 years in prison. Long was released Tuesday on a $25000 bond, according to ABC affiliate WFAA-TV. “The intent is to invade someone's privacy,” Denton County Assistant District Attorney Jamie Beck said.
See all stories on this topic »

ABC News (blog)
Word perfect
Denton Record Chronicle
Music Theatre of Denton packed houses for its last show, the cheeky Avenue Q. The local music theater company could have chosen to put on the brakes for the next production. But instead, the company stayed in the same gear — irreverent comedy that ...
See all stories on this topic »

Denton Record Chronicle
Texas principal on leave in locker-room recording case
The principal of a middle school in Fort Worth was put on administrative leave after telling her supervisors that she may face charges in Denton County in a case involving a video recorded in a girls locker room, a district spokeswoman said this week.
See all stories on this topic »

-- what another reporter once asked about Argyle ISD, really needs to be asked. One of those truths that's hard to see from the inside, but plain as a termite swarm on the outside.

(By the way, just because I work in a newsroom doesn't mean I know more than what anyone else knows.  On many occasions, I've felt, as a journalist, to be the last to know. Newsmakers know that once a journalist finds out, everyone who reads a paper is going to know. I'm not talking about Long's guilt or innocence. That will be sorted out soon enough.)

Here is the question.

What is it about Argyle ISD that makes the adults eat their young?

Monday, July 2, 2012


A friend brought a jar of honey by today. Making a batch of Puffs-o-honey had been on my to-do list ever since we left Trader Joe's two weekends ago loaded with all kinds of items for the pantry, including four bags of puffed grains.

I would have bought Puffs n'Honey if they'd had it. It's made by the Bread Shop, but I don't know any retailers that carry it here.

It's hard to get even mainstream items. I asked Albertsons off and on for years to get Grape Nuts Flakes. The store manager said he would get requests for it from time to time (probably all mine, he just wasn't remembering) and he was having a hard time getting it. I about fell over when I saw it on the shelves for the first time two months ago. Also because it was $5.19 for a box.

Puffs n'Honey was one of Sam's favorite cereals as a child. When I couldn't get it here, I experimented with adapting granola recipes to make it. He was almost giddy watching me put a batch together tonight.

"Doesn't it give you memories of California, Mom?" he asked.

Yes, with Trader Joe's, the local farmer's market and my own garden, it's only taken 20 years to get back the kind of cooking we could do back in Sacramento.

So, here it is. Plain, the way Sam likes it, but vary it by adding spices you like -- a couple teaspoons of cinnamon or cardamom, for example. Arrowhead Mills makes good puffed cereals.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In large bowl, combine one bag each of (unsweetened) puffed wheat, puffed rice, puffed corn and puffed millet.

Combine in saucepan, then bring to a simmer:
12-ounce can of apple juice concentrate
1/2 cup canola oil
3/8 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup honey

Cool slightly, then pour over cereal and toss to coat.

Roast for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool and store.

Overheard in the Wolfe House #184

Peggy (after nearly bumping into Sam hustling through the kitchen to the laundry room): Uh, pardon me.
Sam: I'm not pie. I'm a man on a mission.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Writing Prompt #17

The final entry in Sam's summer school journal:

I feel usually excited before I go camping. I can roast marshmallows, stick them on a chocolate on a Graham Cracker, put the other Graham Cracker on top of it, and then eat it. -- July 24, 2002