bon marcher

sycamores along the seine
magnolia and gentlemen
shiny shoes in cordovan
jacket tweed in blond and fawn
gravel pressed and cobble flat
bon marcher, the breeze begat
a bountiful and healing view
sunny stroll on road and rue.


I pray that all may go well with you
and that you may be in good health,
as it goes well with your soul.
3 John 1:2

image: Seine River Walk by Petek Design

chili and cake

Lynda was Howard Sortland’s wife.
I remember Howard better,
I think because he was especially fond of me.
I remember dancing for him
in the kitchen on Arden Avenue,
dandelion yellow cabinets behind me
as I twirled and stretched.
Howard was a big man ~ tall and broad,
with well-combed gray hair and very large gentle hands.
He’d chuckle and grin as I performed,
his huge hands on his knees,
his heart wide open to me.
I didn’t think to wonder,
basking in his delighted approval,
how many others Howard could fit in his big heart.
Arks-full as it turned out.
I can see now what a blessed and admirable talent it is
to make everyone feel native in your country.
My memory of Lynda, though more pixilated,
is short, round and full of glad greeting.
I see a small square head
(small at least compared to Howard’s)
and appealing squinty eyes.
Lynda gave mom her chili recipe when I was a baby,
and it was the only chili Howard would eat.
It is not fancy or from scratch,
just simple, savory and budget friendly.
It tastes like weekend late afternoons
and family coming over for football or golf or birthdays.
I’m making it today,
and a yellow cake with chocolate frosting for dessert,
thinking of The Sortlands, and of us,
and of so many good gatherings over chili and cake.


The native people showed us unusual kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed us all, because it had begun to rain and was cold. Acts 28:2

Mom’s Basic Chili (originally from Lynda Sortland):
1 1/2 lb ground beef
1 med onion, chopped
1 lg (24 oz) can tomato sauce
2 can stewed tomatoes
2 cans chili beans (pinto beans in sauce)
2 Tbs chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
6-8 drops Tabasco
2 lbs ground beef for a meatier texture
a gulp of red wine
4-6 shakes of Worcestershire

Saute onions in a couple Tbs of olive oil. Add ground beef and brown. Drain excess grease/fat from the pan. Add can of tomato sauce and one can of water (use tomato sauce can). Add stewed tomatoes and seasonings. Bring to boil, lower heat, and simmer for 45 minutes or longer on low heat, covered, stirring occasionally. Beans can be added at the beginning or last 1/2 hour of simmer.

Some possible toppings: shredded cheese (mexican blends or a sharp), sour cream, green onions chopped, crushed tortilla chips (I like blue corn).

Serve with saltines, fresh bread or corn bread.


Fort 1: Notes

The fort measures (roughly) 10ft x 7ft and is composed of three main areas: nursery, dinosaur room, construction site.

The nursery or “baby room” has a pink and white fleece floor with tied edges. A bookcase and corner chair create one wall support, while a floral deco pillow hides any unsightly detachment with shabby chic warmth. Two babies, Harriet and “baby” are inside, cozy in a red stroller and blue and cream antique quilt.

We chose a green and off white cotton floor for the dinosaur room. The walls, mainly charcoal cushion since we required a substantial material for this mostly freestanding area, are placed at unexpected angles as a modern and practical balance solution. Jumbo T-rex and a large bucket of dinosaurs inhabit the space, though I have discovered miscellaneous guests as the day unfolds. (Dinosaurs are so social).

The construction site, though well intended, fell a little flat. The Tonka mat had to be laid askew with turned up corners due to fort width. It might have been a failed space entirely, but the spirit is in tact due to the XXL bright yellow dump truck with industrial wheels. We’re grateful!

The broadest wall, spanning both nursery and construction site, is the highlight. We covered the wide panel wooden chair with an ivory quilt for the impassable piece, offering a castle-like corner in contrast to the more accessible “peasant” patterns. Next to it, the white metal computer bench draped in purple, teal and blue acts as a tunnel entrance. Only children fit through.

No roof. This is a difficult and understandably disappointing reality, but early on in the process we were faced with a decision: size or ceiling. We chose size. I am resolved this was the best choice for the day knowing that the morning will opportune a roofed redesign to our current walled city.

Three older brothers, an advantage in adventure play, perhaps stunted my fort-building experience. Simply happy to dwell in the results, I was infrequently an architect of our endeavors. The New Year brings new challenges and I am learning, getting better every hour and blessed with a patient and enthusiastic client.



Go up to the hills and bring wood and build the house, that I may take pleasure in it and that I may be glorified, says the Lord. – Haggai 1:8

image: ; Fort 1