Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Cranberry Streusel Coffee Cake

Here is one of my favorite recipes:

Cranberry Streusel Coffee Cake
Coffee Cake

½ C unsalted butter, room temperature
1 C granulated sugar
2 eggs, large
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBS grated orange zest
2 C flour, unbleached, all-purpose
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 C sour cream
2 ½ C whole fresh cranberries

Streusel Topping
¾ C light brown sugar, packed
½ C flour, unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 TBS unsalted butter
½ C walnuts, coarsely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and lightly flour a 13 x 9 baking pan.
2. Prepare the coffee cake: Mix the flour, baking powder, soda, and salt together. Set aside.
3. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla and orange zest.
4. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture alternately with the sour cream to make a smooth, thick batter. Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan. Sprinkle the cranberries over the top.
5. Prepare the topping: toss the brown sugar, flour and cinnamon together in a small mixing bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture is crumbly. Stir in the walnuts. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the cranberries on the coffee cake.
6. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, cut into squares.

From the kitchen of:
Bob Frank

For those who love it, cooking is at once child play and adult joy-Craig Claiborne

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Burning Books Column

The 'earth quake' link in the burning books post didn't always work. So please read the column below:

To keep warm, library books sacrificed

By Munir Ahmad
Associated Press

December 12, 2005

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan -- When night fell after the Oct. 8 quake, many survivors burned broken furniture to stay warm. Some, however, stormed the shattered state-run Khursheed National Library, pulling out books and newspapers to make bonfires.

An estimated 10,000 books went up in smoke that night. Three days later, half the library's books--including Korans--had been turned into ashes. The army then stepped in and stopped the burning.

Mohammed Hanif, a clerk at the library for 14 years, "did not believe it" when his brother came rushing to Hanif's home and told him what was happening at the library.

"But when I rushed there, I saw several people taking books to a nearby park where they were staying with their families after their homes were destroyed," Hanif said. "The books are like my children. I wept when they were throwing the books into the fire.

"I tried to stop them, but they started beating me."

After the army halted the looting, Hanif came back and retrieved what was intact, salvaging copies of an American encyclopedia, a Koran, novels and non-fiction works.

The 25,000 books that survived are in two garages guarded by Hanif. They will be sent to a library in Mirpur, another city in the Pakistani part of Kashmir, and returned when the Muzaffarabad library is rebuilt over the next two years.

The 7.6 magnitude quake killed at least 87,000 people and left 3.5 million homeless, mostly in northwest Pakistan and Pakistani Kashmir. Aid workers have been racing against time to get aid and suitable shelter to the needy with the arrival of the brutal Himalayan winter and plunging temperatures.

The library housed rare books on Kashmir, handwritten manuscripts hundreds of years old, government records and the works of local poets.

Some of the library's 1,500 members who borrowed books before the earthquake are returning them, Hanif said.

Nazir Durrani, a government official who frequented the library, said he did not believe people realized that copies of the Koran were going into the fire.

"The burning of these books was a tragedy. When I think of those who did it, they would never be forgiven by God," he said.

Copyright © 2005, Chicago Tribune

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Burning Books

So much is lost when books are burned. Culture, ideas that could inspire new and better ways of living, enhancement of one's life are just a few things that are lost when people intentionally burn books.

But when an earth quake strikes people's basic survival needs must be met. If it is cold outside, people need to be warm. My thought was did they have to burn books? What other items were available rather than books? Was the burning done by people who have little or no regard for books?

As these questions continued to come to mind, I was sobered when reading that at least 87,000 people were killed and an estimated 3.5 million left homeless. More will perish as a brutal winter sets in.

Somehow book burning seemed less important.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Read a Review or Read the Book?

Sometimes I feel that it would be fun to read every book that I hear about. For example, I listen to an interview with an author on the Diane Rehm show. As I'm listening 'Very interesting', I think, 'Sure would like to read it'. But I know that that would not happen because there is just not enough time in the day or night for that matter to read all those books.

What's the alternative? Find a book review and read it. Often times that is enough information about the book to satisfy my curosity. Or my interest is heighten and then take the book out of the library if that is possible.

Recently my Plymouth Library 'Meet the Author' email newsletter arrived which featured an interview with Barbara Ehrenreich. Her latest book "Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream" was reviewed. After reading the review I was satisfied. However if I wanted to read more reviews then I would put a Google search command in starting with the word review followed by the book title. Usually the first page of hits reveals some well written reviews with varied points of view.

To be sure, reading the book is the last word on knowing something about the work.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Caution Writing Emails

Some emails are sent in such haste and then after it's gone perhaps it could have been said with more thoughtfulness. Jane Goodall gives some good advice about taking advantage of the high speed technology of email.

Also what is a good thing to do is click on spell check.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

New Blog: Citizens For Peace District 11

The Citizens For Peace District 11 blog is up and running. Colleen's posting today, November 17, 2005 outlines the group's accomplihments for the past two years. All of the members have done an excellent job to promote peace and the Department of Peace and Non-violence legislation.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Iraq: Risks in Leaving -Risks in Staying

Without a doubt the Iraq War is very complex. Whether we stay or go many lives will be lost. Two retired U.S. Army generals, Robert G. Gard Jr. Lt. Gen. U.S. Army (Ret.) and John H. Johns, Brig. Gen. U.S. Army (Ret.), have provided and excellent analysis in their essay "There are risks if the U.S. withdraws from Iraq. Are there greater risks in keeping them there?" .

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My grandaughter Maya, b. 7-27-05

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

New Orleans vs Mumba (Bombay, India)

Several nights ago Nancy and I were visiting with our friends Al and Dolly. (Both are from India) We got to talking about Katrina. Al mentioned that Bombay had a record rainfall on July 27, 2005. He said there were about a 100 deaths. And he said that there was no looting. "Really", was my response. Al continued to point out that the Indian army and navy were on the scene within 12 hours.

The next day Al sent me the following information:

New Orleans vs. Mumbai (Bombay, India)

  • inches of rain in new orleans due to hurricane katrina... 18
  • inches of rain in mumbai (July 27th).... 37.1
  • population of new orleans... 484,674
  • population of mumbai... 12,622,500
  • deaths in new orleans within 48 hours of katrina...100
  • deaths in mumbai within 48hours of rain.. 37.
  • number of people to be evacuated in new orleans... entire city..
  • humber of people evacuated in mumbai...10,000
  • Cases of shooting and violence in new orleans...Countless
  • Cases of shooting and violence in mumbai.. NONE
  • Time taken for US army to reach new orleans... 48hours
  • Time taken for Indian army and navy to reach mumbai...12hours
  • status 48hours later...new Orleans is still waiting for relief, army and electricity
  • status 48hours later. Mumbai is back on its feet and is business is as usua
  • lUSA...world's most developed nation India...third world country..

One could say that the two storms are different, the elevation is different and the city scape is not the same etc. But we are a fully developed country with huge resources. We just spent billions on a new Federal Department. Emergency Planning was paramont and yet rescue efforts failed.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Letting Go

When I retired in January 1994, two of my volunteer service projects were hospice work and tutoring adults in an English as a Second Language (ESL) class.

My first hospice assignment, after completing a comprehensive training program, was to sit with a hospice patient while his caregiver would have a two hour mid-day break once a week.

While sitting with the patient, I would write in my journal and sometimes write letters to my friend Phil. I would write in a steno pad with pale green paper. The letter pages were torn out and mailed to Phil. Well, at least most of them.

Recently I found the steno journal notebook, while empting my heavy denim, monogramed RCF, maroon Landsend attaché bag. I needed something to put my laptop in. And there’s where I found this journal. With the curiosity of finding someone else’s love letters, I started reading these pages written in 1995. And that’s when I found an unsent letter to Phil.

The letter brought back so many memories. Oh my, so very much has happened to me in the past ten years. The letter is about four people, Phil, the hospice patient, his wife, the caregiver, and I. It covers two visits. At first I was going to edit out all reference to Phil and myself, but so much would be missing that now looking back is vital to seeing this smidgen of the past.

The names of the patient and caregiver have been changed to maintain confidentiality. But everything else is as it was written.

The patient was in a hospital bed in the living room opposite from the picture widow.

What follows is the letter:

Tuesday April 18, 1995
Larry & Olive's 1:07 p

Hi Phil,

“Bye Hon I got to go shopping…the post office”, as she leans over and kisses him on the lips, his face is very expressive, a direct response to her words. She grabs a plastic wrapped, flat package and leaves.

Before leaving she was telling me about her brother who worked for Ford for 3o years and retired. She said that they called him back to do follow-up warranty work at various plants. He just retired a second time after 7 more years. My guess he probably worked for a Ford contractor.

Well good friend you don’t have to think about me doing something like that. I’m finding that I’ve got shorter and shorter days. Now that I’m tutoring and hospice care work along with sailing instructor work my days are flying by.

It’s a cool rainy day, so Olive has Larry’s sheet and blanket up to his chin. He is sleeping, breathing regularly. The refrigerator motor breaks the silence. The bird still makes a calling sound outside. [He moves his legs. Inhales a deep breath.]

I’ve been reading “Writing Down the Bones”, lately. Re-reading it actually. What a fine writer Goldberg is. I’m starting to find that my morning pages are flowing better. I’m lighting up on myself. Being less of a perfectionist. Can you believe that? You don’t know what courage I had to muster to write to you. I’ve always looked at your artistic talent – writing, painting, drawing, photography to be too intimidating for me to express myself on paper. To reveal myself on paper has not been easy for me.

One reason was I thought my grammar, spelling, sentence structure and thought patterns had to be just right. I’m thankful for your encouragement to write. This morning while writing my morning pages the thought occurred to me that these letters from Larry’s place have a journal quality. Sometimes I feel that I’m not sure whether I’m writing to you or just writing down my feelings and observations and sending the pages off to you. Either way I’m glad you accept my letters.

Did I tell you about my new tutoring challenge? Last Thursday J.C., Literacy Council Coordinator, approached me about Rose and I tutoring 6 year old and 8 year old Japanese kids. The younger one, a boy, is in J.C.’s son’s class and the older one is the boy’s sister and is in the same school.

The kids arrived here about 2 weeks ago and will be here for 3 years. Just think of it—these kids will be fluent in both languages by the time they leave here.

J.C. was saying that the little boy can count up to ten and he knows some colors in English and that’s about it.

We are going to continue tutoring the adults for 1 hour, 9a to 10a and then finish up the morning with a 1 hour session at another school with the Japanese kids.

I’m looking forward to relating to kids again. It’s hard to think back what my kids were like at 6 and 8. Rose seems to recall much better than I. Is it because she spent more time with them?

[Larry is breathing with more regular rhythm than at any other time. The pattern is putting me at ease. I too feel like taking a nap. He mumbles a couple of words about 10 minutes ago but that has been the most or all of his ‘talking’ today.]

Yesterday I was thinking how sad it is that our society views the last days or months of a person’s life as a failure. The medical community treats the dying process with a failure mentality. I view the development of these life support systems that cost large amounts of money as a result the medical community’s basic attitude: keep people alive at all costs.

2:56p Olive returns.

Friday April 21, 1995
Larry is really sawing them off today. He said, “Hey…hey”, about 5 minutes ago. But now just a nice easy snore. His hands move under the light shaded green sheets, similar to the color of this paper. His green and white plaid robe hangs over the back of a metal folding chair, opened up next to his bed. A wooden TV table is next to the chair with a plastic glass of water with straw in it sitting on the table.

Let me tell you a very important story. Last Tuesday (4-18-95) when Olive came in she took off her coat and walked over to Larry, bending over saying, “I’m back Hon”. She kisses him on the lips. Before she kisses, she touches his right cheek with the back of her left hand. This scene is very familiar to me. It’s routine now. You know how when scenes become routine your awareness drops off?

I’m relaxed. I’ve seen these kisses before but still admire them. Moments of intimacy that Olive allows me to witness. Without fore thought. I find myself thanking her as I walk to the coat tree in the hallway. As I put on my coat, I’m facing her as she turns toward me, her back is to Larry, less than 4 feet away. We’re commenting about the weather and then tells me a story about herself.

“I was telling the kids (her daughter and son-in-law) coming back from the doctor’s the other day that I feel strong enough to drive to Seattle. My daughter said, ‘Do you?’. Sure I’d just get in the car, put my foot to the gas and get on Route 2 and on to Washington State”.

She’s half laughing all the while she’s retelling the story. Spreading her hand and arm out away from her body, pointing with her knotted index finger to that highway she could see so clearly in the minds eye.

The half laugh was to wipe out any doubt in the listener’s mind about whether she was ‘strong’ enough. The half laugh said sure’ I’ve been through a lot but believe me '. The half laugh was not the only expression that gave her feelings credibility, it was her firm stance and the sweep of the hand and arm saying, ‘Yes I could do it’.

The tone of her voice, the body language gave as much meaning to her message as the words.

I worked at absorbing this story. I knew that it was meaningful and for that reason I was trying to record it all- the words- the pointed finger- half laugh-especially the word ‘strong’. I wanted to record it in my mind. “Remember it”, I kept telling myself. In away I’m glad that I was relaxed, unprepared because my mind was not filled with thoughts to block the message.

When she was through, I asked a question that I already knew the answer, “Is Seattle where your daughter lives?” She responds with a simple, “Yes”.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Department of Peace and Nonviolence

A breakthrough!!

U. S. Senator Mark Dayton (D. Minnesota) introduced the Department of Peace and Nonviolence (S. 1756) legislation in the Senate on September 22, 2005. Now there is a bill in both houses.

The House of Representatives bill ( H.R. 3760) was re-introduced on September 14, 2005. The bill now has 60 co-sponsors. An additional six members have signed on since the last session.

I am grateful!

For more information on the DoP, see my September 14, 2005 posting.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


"Hope criticizes what is, hopelessness rationalizes it. Hope resists, hopelessness adapts."

William Sloane Coffin

Credo William Sloane Coffin, p 19, ISBN 0-664-22707-4, Westminster John Knox Press 2004.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Department of Peace and Nonviolence

So many of us want peace and nonviolence. From my observation, I see many, many people pursuing peace and nonviolence. So why not have our government reflect what we want? For after all, in theory , the power of the government flows from us the people.

So today the Department of Peace [DOP] legislation has been re-introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. It is Bill #HB 3760

Here is a brief overview of the Department of Peace-

What is it?
DOP is a citizen, grassroots lobbying effort that establishes nonviolence as an organizing principle of American Society.

It will:

  • Establish a cabinet level post that will provide the U.S. President with an array of peace-building policy options for domestic and international use.
  • Create and empower methods and perspectives that will address the root causes of violence.
  • Focus on peaceful conflict resolutions, work to prevent violence before it begins and promote justice and democratic principles to expand human rights.

  • Provide much needed assistance for the efforts of city, county and state governments in coordinating exciting programs in their own communities, as well as programs newly developed and provided by the DOP.
  • Teach violence prevention and mediation to America's school children.
  • Effectively treat and dismantle gang pschology.
  • Rehabilitate the prison population.
  • Build peace-making efforts among conflicting cultures both here and abroad.
  • Develop policies to address domestic violence, child abuse, hate crimes, racial violence and mistreatment of the elderly.
  • Support our military with complementary approaches to ending violence.
  • Gather and coordinate information and recommendations from America's peace community.
  • The DOP will create and administer a U.S.Peace Academy, acting as a sister organization to the U.S. Military Academy.


  • Make our homes, schools, businesses, cities, states, nation and the world a better place to live.
  • Reduction in violent crime and associated costs, thus saving millions of dollars in the crimnal justice system.
  • Reduction of violent crime will foster the business community resulting in economic growth.
  • Improve the quality of learning in shools. School violence disrupts learning thus a loss of valuable quality time.

How can we make DOP happen?

Call your Representative at the U.S. capital switchboard: (202) 224-3121. To find your Representative, visit http://www.vote-smart.org Tell the staffer who answers your call that you want your Representative to sign on as a co-sponsor of the Department of Peace and Nonviolence Bill #HB 3760 legislation. Request a written response explaining your position and the reasoning behind it. You can call your local office as well. It is most effective if you call the D.C. office first, then follow-up with a fax or email.

Remember the DOP legislation is a grassroots effort therefore it is up to us to take action by contacting our House Representative. Also discuss the DOP with your friends, neighbors, relatives and collegues. When our conversations center around the topic of violence, the DOP is a positive way to carry on our discussion.

Writing letters to newspapers, TV producers and magazines is a good way to get the word out regarding DOP.

Much of the "What is It" section above are exerpts from a white paper by John R. Shack, Ph.D, Clinical Psychologist, in the booklet titled, "Michigan Department of Peace Campaign, Political Action Guide 2005-2006, pp 4-5. Contact John R. Shack john4041@msn.com for more information.

For copies of the booklet contact Citizens for Peace District 11, Colleen Mills at (734) 425-0079 or email cmills0079@yahoo.com

"Be what you want from others" (Ghandi)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

9/11 Thoughts

When I think of September 11, 2001, my heart goes out to those who are grieving losses from that day.

But at the same time my thoughts are for everyone who are grieving the death of a loved one regardless when that passing occured. Also my thoughts are for those who are grieving the loss of a pet.

Grief is a universal emotion that knows no national or cultural boundaries.

But let us all honor our loved ones who are physically no longer with us by affirming life.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Jim Hall Concierto

Jim Hall Conierto

The Concierto ,track 4, in the CD is a little more than 19 minutes of modern jazz that leaves me feeling so good to be alive. Yes I'm grateful to hear and cherish sounds that come from the alto sax of Paul Desmond. And than the soft tones of Chet Baker is full of feeling without any fooling around, nothing but healthy notes.

The rhythm section carries everyone along. Jim Hall, guitar, Roland Hanna, bass and Steve Gadd, drums. Each takes a solo or two that made me want this music to go on and on.

Eric Friesen played this track a couple of weeks ago on his CBC Radio Studio Sparks program from Canada. Even though this music was recorded in April 1975, it has the feel and newness of a contemporary work.