[Today is just like] January in India

Despite a  forecast dangerous for State Fair goers,  it had been a fruitful morning for me, personally   – air conditioned Mass, then a promising meeting on St Cecilia’s Domestic Violence work  with the pastor, as well as  with one of my all-time  personal heroes,  Mary Louise Klas.

Once home and  planted safely  in front of my a.c., I did a broad-stroke outline of  this year’s Escape-Winter-Ice Travel Plan,  then began the memoir thrust upon me earlier in the day by Judge Klas.  My weekly ESL work  is allowing  me just the narrowest glimpse into Somali (Muslim) women’s lives, and yet  the experience has sparked my interest. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should say the experience has also raised questions [aka flags],  as I watch the   women in this 23-floor high rise, so I am fascinated by Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s INFIDEL.

Reading for a sweltering day

Reading for a sweltering day

Spice Grinder for Garam Masala

Spice Grinder for Garam Masala

IN OTHER NEWS:I have started cooking Indian this summer: coriander, cumin, cardamon… 

My first batch of Garam Masala, that defining pleasure of many Indian dishes, was…well… Mary Briel,  you will remember how I had  you  taste that finely-ground brown mixture   I’d  brought back from Chennai? Remember how we decided I’d mixed up the plastic bags, and you’d just tasted Ananda Ashram DIRT,  instead of  Spencer Plaza GARAM MASALA?

Yes. Well, let me say this: my first batch of GM tasted just like India…the dirt of India.  “…you will want to  play with the flavors,” said the lovely Sri Lankan who sold me the spices and the grinder online, then called several times to check on my progress.  (I was being overzealous with the nutmeg; the GM is improving).


Ths afternoon, as we edged into the upper nineties in St Paul, I did what the women who cook at the ashram do: made a spicy chicken dish.

Indian GM ChickenThe picture won’t make you envy me, but it really is quite perfect, especially with a little of this…

IMG_4826                              (and I see it’s only 84F in Chennai today!)

Ceci’s Day

(click on circles to enlarge/read captions)

Most elegant sun in months, and it appeared for Cecilia’s First Communion

Processional (that’s Kieran cheering as he recognizes his sister)


We had been talking about Eric Weiner’s piece in today’s Times: “Where Heaven & Earth Come Closer” In it he describes a Thin Place as “a locale where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent, or the Infinite Whatever….It’s what a place does to you that counts. It disorients. It confuses. We lose our bearings, and find new ones. Or not. We are jolted out of old ways of seeing the world, and therein lies the transformative magic of travel.”

Weiner describes a temple in Delhi, a bookstore in Portland, even the airport in Hong Kong as Thin Places. So, as we walked east on our street this afternoon, thrilling to the sight of brown grass and bare trees, we tried to think of Thin Places: The temple at Shantivanam, with its smells and bells? the restaurant at the top of Naxos, that served such amazing Loukoumades with drizzled honey?

Continuing east, we came to the Cathedral of St Paul. We went in as Vespers began, and stayed through the Magnificat.