French Pastry

A few years ago, I hired a French Pastry Chef to come to my house to teach a group of friends how to bake in the French way. She had studied in France and had quite the resume so it was a real treat that she agreed to make a house call. How she imparted her wisdom and magic to us was to hand us recipes and told us to start working. I thought she would take us by the hand and show us slowly step by step what to do but not that was not the case.

Basically she threw us in the water and observed our attempts. It was like when you learned to drive a stick shift.

You have to drive and jerk the car ound until you feel what it needs. You have to absorb the knowledge.

She talked us through the four hours we worked. It was so great to have her there to correct us along the way. Each step needed plenty of correction too.

I have a brother who is a chef and he told me to immediately do all the baking again the very next day so it would ingrain . Good advice. Sort of a get back on the horse thing.

Poem to French Pastry

flour , grams , butter, stir, folding , kneeding, sucre,

You become magical floating mystical miracles in the oven

transforming mere ingredients into joy.

The Houses

We bought a few houses in our time. The first one was in an old neighborhood on McKinley Hill in Tacoma. The owners had it for sale a long time because they didn’t want to sell it just anybody. I knocked on the door and said I saw the sign and they let me in. I was with Susie Cowan who is my magic friend.

Every time I spend time with her magical things always happen.

 The house was sort of in disrepair but it had wisteria in full bloom in the back yard and a fountain and 75 trimmed boxwoods. Each was a perfect ball shape. I didn’t care about the neighborhood or anything structural or any of the normal things you look at when you buy a house. I loved it because I felt the souls of the people who designed and built the house. It was a Williamsburg style house; probably the only one in Tacoma.

 The original owners visited there and fell in love with the style and recreated it. We went to Williamsburg  on a trip once ,and saw that yup, that was the style of houses there. I called my husband and told him we had to buy this house. When he saw it he agreed and we moved there from Lake Stevens.

The first thing we did was to build the serpentine brick walls. 

They were in many of the yards in Virginia and we thought “how hard can it be?”  Well it was not easy

First we had to take out a huge tree and terrace the side of the house. Then we had to find a million used bricks that were old but not too old, All the bricks were in Seattle so we had to disassemble  chimneys there and haul the bricks home.  They all needed to have all the cement scraped off and that took eons. Building the wall was tricky as Jim had zero experience bricklaying. We finally consigned ourselves to hire a bricklayer to do the whole yard. I cannot believe we collected enough bricks from countless trips to do the entire yard, but we did. 

Everything was shabby so we had to rebuild the fence and the wisteria needed better support so we had to do that too. 

This was step one. 


This head was too beautiful not to get. We had to drive over to Seattle to buy it.

Some people react in horror at having a taxidermy head in my kitchen, but I am grateful to be able to have it. This impala was killed in 1914. thats the beauty of taxidermy. I imagine that the heads I saw in France in the hunters lodge were even older than mine.
But my impala was from Africa and was killed by a man who owned a hotel in Seattle . Now we are the keeper of the Impala .
This painting of him is one that Im not going to sell because I cannot recreate it. I can’t recreate any of my painting really, but this one is like impossible because of the way I made it. It is a painted over painting that was a painted over painting and a painted over painting with each layer getting thicker an thicker. I added the glue and jewels and practically everything in my studio to make a collage and then I painted over the whole thing in White paint. So it was a practice experimental canvas for years. I took paint remover and scrubbed off the paint and then used a wire brush to get off the glue and jewels to see what that would be like and the more I beat it to death the more beautiful it became. It was shocking to see that going at it with a wire brush would not budge the glued on things. Since I could not get them off I decided to lean into it an embrace it as meant to be. So the last step was just draw a simple line drawing of the Impala and leave it. 100 percent of being an artist is just knowing when to stop.

A Tiny Cut

My neighbor had a tiny cut on his foot. It got infected and he went to the doctor and they ordered antibiotics. The store was a little late in getting them in and his foot got worse. He went to the hospital and they did an MRI to see where the infection went and in the middle of that , He had a heart attack and died.
This horrible but true story is just like a relationship. A small cut in your heart grows and gets infected and spreads all over in no time and if you don’t get healing for that cut, your relationship will die. Not just be wounded but it will actually die.
Did I say anything that was a cut that turned to sepsis to someone? The only way to find out is if the wounded tell you. Just like your body tells you”Help!” Your person has to tell you.


I always lose my phone. It is always texting me or ringing or it is slipping under a cushion. It is just the right size to slip under blankets or out of pockets or fall down in the void between the seats in the car.

The old phones were stable and stuck somewhere permanently attached on one place. They didn’t move with you. So all the talking was brought to them not visa versa. They were not like English ivy , growing into every square inch of your life. You were not your phone. Your phone was not you. Those were the old days.

At least computers stay put, Wrong they move with you too now and are on your phone.

I wonder how that face changes society? Is easier better 100 percent of the time?

Are we closer than ever because of them , or are they actually security walls that we have between ourselves and everyone else.

I am grateful that my. Mom has a land line and I have to call her. She got a cell phone but doesn’t charge it so basically its useless . So you have to call her. I call her all the time to talk about the smallest stupidest things that are so minuscule life things that I would never text to anyone, because of how small they are. But those small things are so delightful and important to us and we have the luxury of talking on the phone for a long time. She will tell me she has to go when her arm falls asleep, That s out cut off point. I wouldn’t trade a half an hour on the the phone with her for anything.

error: Please do not copy.