Photography ~ Cooking ~ Life

Friday, January 7, 2011


Today would have been my dad's birthday. He died seven years ago this coming March. He was 87.

My dad was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1916. He was one of sixteen children born to Italian parents (one of four boys).

Dad was handicapped by polio during his early childhood. That handicap impacted his life, though not in the way some might expect. It made him stronger. You'd never really know that he grew up at a disadvantage to anyone.

I think about how terribly hard it must have been for him, at age ten or so, when polio changed his life forever.

He never talked about his childhood much, but the hand that life dealt him certainly made him more determined to succeed at whatever it was he decided to do.

I know he had disappoints in life, and probably quite a few regrets. Most of us do, but people didn't talk about those things during dads time. You just bucked up and went on, did what you had to do, lived your life as best as you could.

Dad at age 22, looking quite dapper.

My dad was an expert swimmer. During my own childhood I remember being in awe of how gracefully he moved through the water. I often said he swam like a fish. lol

He was an expert horseman. As a young man he rode in several Pasadena Rose Parades (I got my love of horses from him).

Dad with his beloved NiƱa - 1945

He could fix cars with the best of them, and this Cadillac was his pride and joy.

Though dad had wanted to serve during WWII, he wasn't allowed to because of his handicap. He watched his two brothers serve (one at Pearl Harbor), but was even turned away from a desk job. He went on.

Dad became a builder (he and my grandfather built homes in and around Baldwin Park CA), a machinist (losing several fingers during his career), a baker (one reason I hate donuts to this day), an accountant (the man had quite the head for numbers), and held several other jobs throughout his lifetime.

He withstood the stares of strangers with dignity. Stares he probably endured his entire life. I remember kids staring at him when I was a kid. Staring because he was 'different'. Because he walked with a limp. Because his brace was visible beneath his pants leg. I remember staring back at those very kids who were staring at my daddy.

I learned early on never to judge a book by its cover, never to judge a person with a handicap.

Dad never attended high school, but he was always learning. I remember him working two jobs and attending school at night, all in an effort to better himself and to provide for his family. In his mid-60s he went back to earn his GED. It was something he wanted, and he saw no reason that his age should be a barrier.

He said a person was never too old to learn.

We were never close he and I, and I spent most of my life trying to win his approval, but in spite of everything, he taught me a great deal.

I still miss him now and again, even with the way things were. So I think of him today.

PFF - Shore Path at Lake Geneva Wisconsin

The 21-mile Geneva Lake shore path allows hikers a remarkable opportunity to have close-up access to a stunning lake of great natural beauty, and a walk through the back yards of some of the lake's oldest mansions.

The path was created by the region’s earliest settlers, who determined that the 20 feet of land directly up from the shoreline would be granted as public domain. Their decision provides walkers with an extraordinary lake side walk.

Geneva Lake is the second deepest lake in Wisconsin (135 feet deep and 21 miles around).

The postmark, July 13, 1938
Dr. Lydia L. Lightring
c/o Michigan State College
East Lansing, Mich.

The text reads;

Dear h:-

Don't despair I'll be writing soon. Hope you are tying to take it a bit easy. Are you teaching? We've had rain and more rain. Just now Edith and I are alone for a change. 
Love Jean

See other participants in PFF here.

Friday Freebie - Sailor

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pasta and Bean Soup

There are as many soups in Italy as there are Italians. Each region has it's own. This pasta and bean soup originates from Campania.

It can be made really quickly using canned beans, but using dried gives the flavors plenty of time to blend together.

Very simple and satisfying for a cold winter day.

Pasta and Bean Soup (Campania Italy)

•    1 1/2 cups dried cannellini beans, or about 2 1/2 cups fresh or canned
    •    2 cloves of garlic, minced
    •    1 tablespoon olive oil
    •    1 3/4 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
    •    1 cup dried pasta (ditaloni, small elbows, or orzo))
    •    4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped (or equivalent canned)
    •    1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
    •    sea salt and freshly ground pepper
    •    crusty Italian bread to serve with the soup, if desired

If you're using dried beans, soak them overnight and drain before you're ready to use them. 

The next day, put the drained beans into a large sauce pan. Add olive oil, garlic, and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered for 1-2 hours or until beans are tender. They should be quite soft.

Working in batches if necessary, blend the beans and liquid using a food processor or food mill (or an immersion blender). Return the puree to the pan, adding extra water or stock if necessary (the soup should be thick, but not super thick). Add the pasta and simmer gently for 15 minutes or until pasta is tender (add extra water or stock as needed).

**Stir in tomatoes and season with salt and pepper.

Serve with an extra trickle of olive oil, chopped parsley, and croutons, if desired.

*Alternate if using dried beans; Put the rinsed dried beans, broth, garlic, and olive oil in a crock-pot, and cook on high for several hours (until beans are softened).

When done, liquefy the beans using one of the above methods, or an immersion blender (using an immersion blender allows the liquefying to be done right in the pot). Return to crock pot and add tomatoes and pasta. Cook for another half an hour or until pasta is al dente.

Serve with chopped parsley and/or croutons on top, if desired.

**I actually added the tomatoes (canned this time out) in with the beans at the beginning, pureeing them right along with. It gave the soup a wonderful color.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Barn Charm

I took this photo last summer while on one of numerous trips to Champoeg State Park (click to enlarge).

I've always loved old barns, and have photographed them for years, even when the only camera I owned was a little snap-and-shoot (as evidenced by the photograph below). Upon discovering the Barn Charm section at Bluff Area Daily, I can now spend some time sharing the barns that dot the NW countryside.

In years past the barn looked quite different, larger, run down, and in desperate need of repair.

In 1992, restoration began on this historic building (one of the oldest barns remaining in Oregon). Although the barn is dated at 1862, during restoration, strong evidence suggested that the interior section may have started with a much older building (1840s or even 1830s). If true, then this barn would be the oldest building still standing in the state.

Originally designed for harvest and storing of wheat, the barn later housed cattle and sheep. A mechanical hay fork was installed to bring hay to the second story. Sheds were attached, extending out the sides and over the original doors. A cupola was added and later removed again. The barn was even electrified.

Time took its toll, but the building was eventually rescued.

To read more about the historic barn and farmstead - Manson Barn.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Looking back....

Most of us have these 8x10 grade school class pictures. At least I assume most of us have them. They're hidden in a box some place, attic, basement, closet. Or maybe they still reside in our parents house in some deep dark corner, never to be seen again.

Some of us even know the names of all of those kids in the pictures, if not from memory, then because our mothers carefully hand wrote the names of each and every child on the back. Mine did, so that years down the road I'd still know who those kids were.

I've had my school pictures stashed away in a Rubbermaid tub for years, along with the few family photos I have.

The one above is from 1968-69. I was in first grade.

Look at us all sitting there, bright eyed, smiling, hands folded on our desks. Our whole future ahead of us.

Looking back at these photos I always wonder what happened to all of those little kids staring back at me. I know where I ended up, but what about them? What did they end up doing as a career? Did they marry, have children, move to another state?

The kids in the photo above were only my classmates for a couple of years, as my parents moved to the area where I currently live. Honestly, I don't remember most of them at all, but for a brief time they were a part of my every day existence.

I don't even remember my teacher, though I do know her name (but only because it's printed on the bottom of the photograph along with that of the school principal). 

Funny how many people come and go in the course of our lives. Some make a lasting impressions that we never forgot, others simply flutter through leaving no real impression at all.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday Photo - Birch Trees

Black and white version....

Played with in Photoshop.

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