poetry

It’s Peaceful Here Beside the Sea

I recently had the pleasure to read a book of poetry and interview the author, who is local to Portland. I was sent the book by the publisher but I enjoyed the book of poetry so much I wanted to write a post about it and hopefully turn on some readers to it.

Here is an excerpt from my favorite poem in the book:

Beside the Sea

It’s peaceful here beside the sea,

Where waves crash on the sand incessantly.

The sand just sifts and throws them back

To echo in the mist.

 

The ghostly moon throws shadows faintly

Upon the phosphorescent crests,

Silently weaving endless thought

As to and fro it pulls the mind.”

The reason the above poem was my favorite in the book was because it made me immediately imagine the Oregon Coast. I grew up in Seattle and as a kid we spent summer vacations at Rockaway Beach every year. I grew up feeling home whenever we were at the beach. I’d wander the dunes, dip my toes in the thick, wet, soft sand and feel the wind on my skin and just feel content and happy.

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What I loved about the book was that each poem was a different little story and the author was very good at evoking so many different emotions with each poem. What I found as a common theme through most of the poems was love. And I’m a sucker for a good love poem.

Donald Elix is a local author, which interested me further, and I love supporting local people. Here is the link to his book:

Poetry to Challenge the Senses by Donald Elix

Poetry to Challenge the Senses explores life, death, love, solitude, relationships and nature, and their meanings from his perspectives. Elix connects thoughts from his imagination and applies them to the real world, offering an array of insight on subjects like self-discovery and family.

“The book explores various historical places and time periods, in both the past and present, through brief yet thought-provoking verses,” Elix said. “My hope is to spark inspiration in those who are looking to explore life’s meaning and learn and develop from other’s experiences.”

I was happy to interview the author because as a writer myself, I want to know what the process is for other writers. What inspires them? Where do they write? How do they stay focused? Here is that interview:

  1. How do you begin a poem?

    I usually begin a poem by first selecting a title and writing to the title.

  2. When did you realize that creating was something you absolutely had to do?

    I realized that creating was absolutely something I had to do, when I wrote a poem in 30 minutes in an art class to submit in the English class that came next, while in high school. That poem titled “Spring” was published in the national high school poetry book for that year.

  3.  What kind of creative writing routines or rituals do you have?

    I am establishing new creative writing routines and rituals to get back to writing, as I have not done much for awhile. My plan is to disappear to a quiet sport for 2 or 3 hours on a Sunday to allow for creative thoughts to flow as I did several years ago.

  4. What are you reading right now?

    Richest man who ever lived.

  5. What’s the worst advice you’ve heard authors give to other writers? What’s the best advice?

    Your book will sell itself, don’t stress out about it, is the worst advice I’ve heard authors give to other writers. The best advice I’ve heard authors give to other writers is to keep writing, keep publishing, and stay in touch with your readers.

  6. Who inspires you?

    I’m inspired by people who are positive, who work hard and have varied interests.

  7. Love seems to be a common thread in your poetry. Do you find it easier or harder to communicate these emotions in your poetry vs. real life?

    I don’t find it easier or harder to communicate love emotions in my poetry vs. real life, although when face to face it is more inspirational for me to express love than with pen to paper.

  8. I love that you are a local author. Are there particular places in Oregon that bring you the most inspiration?

    The Oregon coast is the place that brings me the most inspiration, although the forest and the mountains are a close second.

  9. One of my favorite poems in your new book is “Escape to Imagination”. What was the inspiration for this poem?

    The inspiration for “escape to imagination” was scenes remembered from my homestate of Ohio and visits to mountain areas in Oregon. Additional inspiration was derived from the need to escape urban areas that I worked in, both Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington.

  10. As a writer I know the habit of starting and stopping something, putting it away, coming back to it, maybe never finishing it. How do you know when a poem is finished? How many half finished poems do you have stashed away?

    Most of my poems were done in one sitting. I may have a half-dozen poems sitting in the file unfinished. They are there mostly because I found I didn’t have a good title. I know a poem is finished when the ideas cease to come to me. I do not stop writing in a sitting until ideas to continue cease to come to me.

I really appreciated the author taking the time to let me interview him and share his process with me and my readers. I’ve read his book several times now, relishing the poems and finding different meaning in the poems each time I read them.

I hope you check out his book!

Frittata Recipe + Wedding Ceremony

My friend Star came over for dinner and to help us write our wedding ceremony. She’s the officiant and we both have been working on the ceremony and vows for a bit now on our own. It was time to come together and make it all fit.

Since she’s a vegetarian, I wanted to make a recipe that was veggie friendly and that also used up some of the zucchini from our garden. I found a few different frittata recipes and decided to make one of them. I used two different frittata recipes to make my own. I liked the spicy ingredients in this recipe, but I also liked that the other recipe called for ricotta cheese (which I needed to use up).

Zucchini Ricotta Frittata Recipe

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 2-3 servings

Calories per serving: 410

From: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/zucchini_ricotta_frittata/

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 small zucchini, or one larger one, washed and sliced into thin rounds (about 3/4 pound)

Instructions

  1. Beat the eggs in a medium bowl. Add the ricotta and Parmesan and beat to combine. Add the salt, freshly ground black pepper, basil and thyme and beat to combine. Set aside.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a 10-inch oven-proof stick-free skillet on medium high. When the oil is hot and begins to shimmer, add the zucchini slices. Stir so that the zucchini slices are all coated with some of the oil. Cook, stirring only occasionally (if you stir too much the zucchini won't brown), until the zucchini slices are lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove zucchini slices from the pan with tongs or a slotted spoon to a bowl. Let cool for 30 seconds or so, and then stir the zucchini slices to the egg mixture.
  3. Reheat the skillet. There should be a couple of tablespoons of oil left in the pan, if not, add some. When the oil is hot, pour the egg mixture into the pan. Do not stir it. Reduce the heat to medium. Let the egg mixture cook. Run a spatula along the edge of the frittata, separating the cooked edges from the pan. Let the egg mixture cook until the bottom is golden brown and the top is beginning to set, about 5-6 minutes.
  4. Set the top rack 5 inches from the heating element in the oven. Preheat the oven broiler. Once the top of the frittata has started to set in the pan on the stove top, remove the pan from the stove and place it in the oven. With the broiler on, the door of the oven needs to be open. You can let the pan's handle stick out from the oven through the open door. Cook under the broiler until the top starts to become lightly browned, about 2 minutes.
  5. Alternatively, instead of using the broiler, you can place a plate face-down on top of the skillet. Flip the skillet over to release the frittata on to the plate. Then slide the frittata from the plate back on to the skillet. Let cook for a couple of minutes more until the bottom side gets browned.
  6. Slide the frittata out of the skillet onto a serving plate. Let cool for a minute or two and serve.
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The recipe called for 6 eggs and said it fed 2-3 people. I think it actually fed more like 5 people. We each had a fairly large serving and there were two more servings left over (which I had one for lunch the next day). I put most of the spicy jalapenos on one side of the frittata and used the banana peppers on the other because they are less spicy and that was for Star.

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The recipe called for cooking the frittata on the stovetop for 5-6 minutes. I ended up cooking it for more like 10 I think. It was really jiggly and a little too wet still. This was the first time I made a frittata so I used some of Michael’s experience to figure out when it was ready to be baked. Perhaps using a cast iron skillet is why it took longer…? Who knows.

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It was looking much better. I put it in the oven under the broiler. Again, the recipe called for 2 minutes. I did more like 3-4 minutes. I took it out twice and tested it with toothpicks to see if it was done. It was pretty obvious when it was done. Here was the finished product:

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Star brought over  a loaf of olive ciabatta bread from New Seasons. It’s A-MAZING. Oh my gods, between the three of us we almost ate the entire loaf of bread. I can’t remember the last time I had this bread–maybe a year ago? It’s not something I eat very often and usually when I eat bread it’s the Costco gluten free stuff. So this was quite a treat! I also brought out some of the pickled red onions I made. Star LOVED them. 😀

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We sat outside on the deck and listened to the kid’s football (or soccer) game going on in the distance. The crickets were singing nearby and the there was a lovely breeze that cooled down the hot day. I had a glass of the Trader Joe’s Coastal Sauvignon Blanc wine (it’s fabulous) with dinner and lots of water. Dinner was good but Michael and I both agreed that it needed a meat. Chorizo would have been nice. I think diced ham would be great, too. The dish would definitely be better with some salty, flavorful meat in it. Despite that, it was a decent vegetarian meal and Star loved it so that’s what counts.

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After dinner we worked on the ceremony. We ended up getting it done, a rough draft that still needs a little tweaking, but it’s done. One more thing to cross off the to-do list!

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I also printed out a bunch of poems I liked. One of my friends will be reading a poem during the ceremony. I narrowed it down to four and Michael read them all and picked his favorite. The runner up, that I still love, is this one:

TITLE UNKNOWN
~ By Carl Sandburg ~

I love you for what you are, but I love you yet more for what you are going to be.

I love you not so much for your realities as for your ideals.

I pray for your desires that they may be great, rather than for your satisfactions, which may be so hazardously little.

A satisfied flower is one whose petals are about to fall.

The most beautiful rose is one hardly more than a bud wherein the pangs and ecstasies of desire are working for a larger and finer growth.

Not always shall you be what you are now.

You are going forward toward something great.

I am on the way with you and therefore I love you.

Isn’t that wonderful? Still love it. We ended up choosing something else for my friend to read. TBD. Star is Najavo and we are including a Native American blessing in the ceremony as well as some other elements that mean a lot to me. Michael seemed more interested in the words, as I was more interested in the symbolism, and he picked out things he liked for the vows from various print out examples. I liked all the ones he picked, as well as a few others. Despite what he says, there will NOT be the words “obey” in our vows. 😛

On Sunday I went to yoga and then spent some time in the yard pulling weeds (god it’s been never ending this summer!). After that we went to Cartlandia for lunch. I got a buffalo chicken wrap in a spinach tortilla from the Good and Evil Wrap. I love that place and was craving it lately.

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SO GOOD. After lunch we had a dance lesson. The DJ we hired for the wedding also teaches dance. I brought the shoes I am going to wear for the ceremony (my grandmother’s shoes) and also my favorite pair of heels just in case. They had converted their garage into a dance studio. It was pretty nice. The private lesson was an hour and we got a discount due to hiring them for the wedding.

I have some dance experience. I took ballroom dancing classes but it was over a decade ago. At that class I learned the basics of ballroom dance–tango, salsa, box step, etc. I remember it being hard and a  really good workout. I was hoping some of that would come back to me once we started but…not so much.

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Lynn and her husband Mark taught us how to dance to our first song and showed us a few choreographed moves. It was so hard! It just didn’t come naturally like I thought it would and I felt like Michael and I were out of sync often. I also noticed that *I* try to lead too much. It’s just not in my nature to follow. LOL. We spent an hour with them and when we switched partners and I danced with Mark or even Lynn, I was impressed with how good they dance. I also noticed that I danced better with them because they were confident leaders. I think Michael and I need a LOT of practice still!

We may end up doing the typical prom dance sway if we don’t practice…