May 16, 2016

“All that is gold does not glitter; not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither; deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
~ J.R.R. Tolkien


A couple of weeks ago I read that singer Billy Paul had recently passed away.  One of Paul’s biggest hits was a song called, “Me and Mrs. Jones”, a soulful tune, sweetly describing an extramarital affair between a man and his lover.  I was just a little girl when it came out and too young to understand the lyrics, but I liked the song and so, when I found a stray black and white kitten on the way home from elementary school, I named my new kitty “Mrs. Jones”.  I used to sing the chorus of the song to her as we snuggled in bed or on the couch together, “Me-yee-aah-and….Mrs… Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones.  We got a thing… goin’ on…”  She would look up at me, smiling and purring.  She loved her special song.  Mrs. Jones lived to be 15 years old.  Years later, every time I heard Billy Paul’s song, I would think of my dear cat Mrs. Jones.  When I read of the singer’s passing, I thought of her once again.  They will both continue to live on for me, through his music and her memory.

That’s the beautiful thing about music, about art, about memories.  That which is created lives on to remind us, not only of the creator, but of the moments and emotions that we associated with a particular song, painting, movie scene, person or event.  Bowie, Prince, George Martin and many other great artists and musicians have passed beyond the veil between the worlds already this year.  Even though many felt their passing to be a great loss, their artistic spirit lives on to be enjoyed, reinterpreted and appreciated for generations to come.

Nothing is ever truly lost.  What we seem to lose merely transforms, reshapes and reemerges to inspire, to teach us and to bring us joy in new ways.

Mark Landry, a homeless man in Montreal, had been playing the violin since he was 17 years old.  Last month, his precious violin, which he often played for donations in the city’s Metro system, was stolen from him.  A local orchestra, L’Orchestre Métropolitain, found out about his loss.  With the help of a neighborhood violin shop, the orchestra members were able to provide Mr. Landry with a brand new violin, case and bow.  Said the grateful musician, “I talked to God this morning and said I cannot live without my violin. I am going to go play right away.”

Mr. Landry’s violin was stolen, but the story of its loss and replacement has brought his music to ears that would never have heard him play otherwise.  His story may inspire others to reach out and be of service in their own communities.

Adrianne Haslet, a professional dancer, lost her left leg in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings.  She was not running in the marathon herself, but merely standing near the finish line in order to cheer on the runners.  When the second bomb went off, she was injured badly enough that her leg had to be amputated.  After the attack, she promised herself she would dance again and run the marathon.

A few weeks ago, with the help of a carbon-fiber blade prosthesis, she ran the 26.2 mi/42.2 km Boston Marathon.  She began the race at 9 a.m. and crossed the finish line at 7:15 p.m.  Her loss and subsequent triumph over difficulty and pain will no doubt serve to inspire and give hope to others now and in the future.

Loss can be difficult, stressful and sometimes deeply painful.  But loss can also be an opportunity to begin again, to look at life with new eyes, to create something different and beautiful, inspired and informed by what once was.

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”
~ Henry David Thoreau


Don’t lose a single drop of your pasta sauce or soup.  Use a nice piece of bread to deliciously clean your plate.  Italians call it “fare la scarpetta” or “to do the shoe”.  After you finish your meal, a piece of bread becomes the shoe and your fingers the leg as they push your bread around your plate, soaking up any leftover sauce.  Pop the sauce-filled bread into your mouth and enjoy.  Use this easy to bake Rosemary Ricotta Quick Bread to practice your skills as a “scarpettaro”.


Rosemary Ricotta Quick Bread
This moist and delicious homemade bread requires no yeast and no kneading.  You can also make it into individual servings by using muffin tins.  This savory quick bread is perfect for accompanying soups, salads and anything saucy.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
3/4 cup milk (whole or 2%)
1 cup whole milk ricotta
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon crumbled, dried rosemary
Butter or olive oil, to grease pan


Preheat oven to 375°F

Grease bottom and partly up sides of a 9-inch round cake pan
Line 6 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and pepper.  Mix well with a fork or whisk.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, garlic, milk, ricotta and egg.  Beat with a fork or whisk until thoroughly mixed.

Add dry ingredients to bowl with wet ingredients and stir until just combined.  Fold in dried rosemary and mix until evenly distributed (do not overmix batter).

Spread batter evenly in prepared cake pan.  Bake about 30 minutes.

If using muffin cups, use 1/4 cup of batter for each. and bake about 20 minutes.

Serve warm or cooled.

Makes 6 servings.

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