Still Waters Run Deep

Still Waters

Sometimes this space doesn’t accurately reflect the amount (or variety) of “writing, music, and photography” I actually do. (Or my love for long sentences…) My clipboard, college-ruled notebook paper, and favorite pen are constant companions — not to mention my camera — along with a stash of notebooks dedicated to ideas, to-do lists, poetry, musings, letter-writing, scribbling, and attempts at journaling. (My piano is also mere steps away.) Not so coincidentally, the aforementioned notebooks are color-coordinated and/or have hand-picked covers to match my wordy moods… writers are entitled to their quirks.

Currently I’m editing an amazing cookbook (more on that in a future post); last week I jammed with my fiddle-playin’ buddy, Joe, twice (we’re also playing for a cancer fund-raiser this weekend); and I was recently humbled and honored to have one of my photos published in an esteemed international literary journal. There’s often more going on in my life than meets the eye — or blog — and I apologize for my frequent lapses.

One of my ongoing writing projects — my “Dear Friends” letters — began over a decade ago. I was employed as a church secretary and each week I’d mail copies of Sunday’s sermon to ten or twelve elderly ‘shut-ins’ or folks who couldn’t attend church. (I’d also include a handwritten note of encouragement, but a sentence or two quickly became a paragraph or two, and finally a page — or two.)

When my tenure was done, I couldn’t help but keep writing to my Dear Friends (some of them tell me it’s the only letter they receive) and through the years my ‘list’ has grown from the original dozen to over 50 folks around the U.S. — often at the request of loved ones: “Mother so enjoys your letters… would you please keep sending them… and could you send one to my Aunt?”

What began as a simple act of kindness through ‘writing’ evolved into a passion for keeping the art of correspondence alive and well.

I used to write my Dear Friends letters by hand (back when I only wrote 10 or 12), but due to the increased volume I finally had to resort to a computerized version — which turned out to be easier for everybody over age 70 to read — my penmanship is nearly microscopic. Did you know it’s easier for the aging eye to discern Sans Serif fonts than Times New Roman? (I do my research.) That aside, I still insist on addressing every envelope by hand and signing each letter personally… and, I often include a handwritten note of encouragement.

Frequency-wise, my letter writing has slowed down a lil’ since moving to the lake, not counting the ones I regularly pen to my family (gotta have ‘deck time,’ not that I need an excuse!) — it’s just that I don’t have as much to write about as I did during the “trucking years.” What used to be an every-other-week travelogue gradually reduced itself to a life-on-the-lake update once a month — then every other month — and now four or five times a year.

Rather than regale you with further ‘hows’ and whys, here’s a (slightly revised) version of the latest edition:

Canoe 2

“God blesses us with His presence in so many ways, from the tiniest miraculous garden sprout to a sky-full of majestic panorama…”

In between, it’s the ordinary moments that bless us: simple things like food on the table, a roof over our heads, a better-than-usual cup of coffee, and the comforts of home. Day to day ‘ordinary’ gives us a deeper appreciation for the extraordinary.

This past Fourth of July, Russ and I opted to stay ‘home for the holidays.’ (Our usual modus operandi involves packing up the Jeep with a week’s worth of clothing and food, driving 24 hours up & back, and shuttling between our families in southern Minnesota.) This year our plan — or rather God’s plan — was to stay put! After the years we spent over-the-road (a transient ‘home’ at best), it was glorious to wake up in our own bed.

Ironically, we both woke up at 3:30 a.m. — don’t ask me why. But, it wasn’t too far off from our usual 4:30 a.m. start to the day, and the coffee and companionship made up for our lack of sleep. Of course, we were missing our families! Sometimes you have to make ‘the hard decision,’ but we knew in our hearts God meant this one just for ‘us.’

Once the sun got up over the hill, it became apparent that it was an ideal morning for canoeing. Earlier this year we’d acquired an ol’ ancient canoe full of dents and patches (still seaworthy in spite of its forlorn appearance) and this was the first time we’d ever taken it out on the lake together. It didn’t take long for us to resume our mutual cadence — Russ at the stern, me at the bow — slicing our oars through the water as though we’d been canoeing every day, instead of for the first time in almost a decade.

We paddled about two-thirds of the way across the lake, then let a light breeze turn the canoe so it drifted slowly back toward the bluff, and Russ spent the entire time casting and ‘trolling’ (of sorts) while I alternately closed my eyes and basked in the sun or scanned the scenic shoreline. (“Don’t ask me why” #2 — I didn’t get my fishing license this year, so I didn’t have my pole along.) Somehow I suspect we might have fared better fish-wise with two hooks in the water instead of one, yet I was content to observe — and he caught a keeper.

Russ has such a natural grace about him when he’s fishing. The way he holds his fishing rod and the rhythmic way he reels in or ‘jigs’ borders on art! I derived more satisfaction out of watching him ‘at work’ than if I’d been handling a pole myself. (My attempts at fishing usually involve hooking every ‘snag,’ tipping over the tackle box, and spending more time with my hook out of the water than in to replace lost lures…)

After we reached the ‘driftwood trees’ in front of the bluff, we paddled between those massive petrified ‘ghosts of a forest’ from days gone by. Their weathered trunks and branches are much larger than they appear from our deck and I enjoyed getting ‘up close and personal’ with them. They must have hundreds of stories to tell — in fact, they do! Dozens of fishing line remnants dangle from their gnarled, silver-gray grip where anglers have lost their lures. (Made me smile; at least “I’m not the only one.”)

An added bonus was seeing the Great Blue Herons perched on random stumps. Slipping by in the canoe with no motor to startle them, we got close enough to see just how large those majestic birds truly are. Numerous cranes also glided back and forth to wherever a beak-sized breakfast could be found as their white wings blazed in the sun against a backdrop of aquamarine lake and azure sky.

Not quite ready to go in, we paddled westward along the rugged shoreline. The wind picked up a bit (not enough to swamp the canoe) so we paddled to the next bay and back — about an hour ‘by water.’ Just then, a bald eagle suddenly took flight, soaring above the treetops in singular, spectacular glory. Moments like those make your senses come alive… seeing that regal bird leading the way overhead, feeling the steady strokes of our paddles, hearing the rippling water caressing the canoe. It wasn’t just a blessing, it was a hug from God!

Our other senses were blessed, too — following this adventure, I grilled some mighty-good-smelling burgers and topped ’em with tomatoes right out of the garden. (You just can’t beat that ‘fresh tomato taste’ on a sizzling burger!) It was a wonderful holiday for both of us.

Sometimes I think Jeremiah 29:11 has become ‘popular’ because of the “implied” blessings in the NIV translation (no disrespect intended) and our inflated expectations of what they might be. Per the King James version (vs. 11-13), there’s more involved than God simply doling out His goodness and grace. He does intend to bless us, and He will — when we seek Him with all our heart.

I’ve come to believe that God’s greatest blessings are His peace and presence. They turn ordinary moments into extraordinary ones.

Enjoying doing what I do,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

The Mad Dash ~ Smoked Salmon Canapes

Smoked Salmon

When I was a kid, one of my favorite games was Musical Chairs.

(Remember that one?)

There was something thrilling about circling those chairs — minus one — while trying to appear calm & in control, one ear tuned to perceive the slightest pause in the music. (The other was listening for covert plans by my circle-mates; elbowing and edging-out were entirely acceptable.) My eyes were constantly riveted on the passing prospects for my imminent future… a familiar tale.

Then, there was the inevitable mad dash. The scrambling and the squealing — the flailing of arms and legs (with more than a few nudges) — as everybody tried to find their place in this world, at least temporarily.

Minus one…

(I don’t recall if I was a winner or loser at musical chairs or not.)

More than likely I had a distinct advantage with my finely tuned auditory nerves. (Big fan of the Bionic Woman in later years!) My latent memory is rather fuzzy when it comes to traumatic childhood events masquerading under the guise of games.

Conclusion?

Shuffling between chairs (and piano benches) seems to be my lot in life.

I hadn’t really given much thought to that from a posterior perspective… in fact, this is the first time it even occurred to me. But (no pun intended), wherever I’m ‘parked’ is pretty much what I’m doing at any given moment.

At least it’s less random…

And I get to pick the music. ;)

My concert is finally behind me (no pun…) and I’m breathing a huge sigh of relief. Much as I love performing, rehearsals were taking a big bite out of my… time.

You don’t just whip off excerpts from Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique or Debussy’s Clair de Lune or Schumann’s Concerto in A Minor (among others) without a lil’ preparation — or at least I don’t.

I’m tickled to report though that it was a resounding success. Fun, too!

I added a lighthearted segment at the end including such favorites as “Moon River,” “Over The Rainbow,” “Besame Mucho” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” — which seems to be my theme song these days. Ahem…

All in all, enough funds were raised to send ten teenagers to camp this summer (hallelujah!) and in appreciation, they presented me with this:

(Ain’t it gorgeous?)

Thank You Bouquet

And… notice any resemblance to this?

Smoked Salmon 2

Smoked Salmon & Lemon Pepper Avocado Creme Canapes

4 oz. smoked salmon, flaked
Crackers of your choice (I used Glutino gluten-free multi-grain crackers)
1 ripe avocado
Juice of half a lemon
2 T. butter, softened
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pink Himalayan salt (or sea salt), to taste
Fresh thyme for garnish

Peel & seed the avocado; mash pulp in a small bowl. Add lemon juice and mix thoroughly to prevent discoloration. Stir in butter, pepper, and salt until creamy.

Place a dab of Lemon Butter Avocado Creme on each cracker. Top with smoked salmon and garnish with thyme. Easy, peasy!

(Believe me, I was ready for a lil’ “easy peasy” at this point!)

Life and fabulous food always have a way of coming around…

Like musical chairs.

Enjoying the mad dash,

~ Kim

© 2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

Lessons Learned

Piano Lessons

I was seven years old when I began taking piano lessons.  Too young to know full well the implication that this was my calling (or at least one of them) and too naive to realize that what I learned applied to life.

That’s nigh on fifty years ago.  I can’t recall the early years; somehow I just knew how to play.

But, I distinctly remember piano lessons on Mrs. Rogers’ front porch every summer.

Once a week from the first week of June until the end of August, she conducted lessons in her home — a welcome break from my calculated walk down the long, tiled hallway leading to the piano room adjacent to the band room.  Trudging was my pace back then, especially when I shirked practice.  The minute my fingers hit the keys, Mrs. Rogers could tell how much time I’d put in the week before.

“There’s no faking it.  You either did it or you didn’t.”

Yet she was patient… forgiving… encouraging.

A note from 1973…

“It seems no time at all since, as a small child, you came to me to learn more about music.  In that short time, how you have grown to become a good musician and a lovely person!  Working with you has been a treasured experience for me, and a pleasure and reward, if perhaps I may have helped you on your way to a high degree of musicianship.  Affectionately, Edith Rogers, April the fourteenth.”

To this day, I can still hear the delicate, hand-painted glass wind chimes tinkling in the screen window of her front porch, prompted into melody by the slightest breeze… feel the frosty glass of freshly-squeezed lemonade in my hand offered before I took my place on the piano bench in her pale yellow, white-trimmed house… taste the paper-thin sugar cookies with a hint of lemon that she graciously extended on a 1950’s-style hostess tray with a fragile paper napkin, along with an update on her latest knitting project consigned by Saks Fifth Avenue.

Her artistry with knitting needles was as exacting as her piano lessons — proficient enough to supply Saks with sweaters knit to their customers’ specifications.

“Take pride in what you do.  Give it your best.  You never know who may be blessed by it.”

She was also a gifted painter.  Laser precise water colors of botanical specimens… tigers… flora & fauna vaguely reminiscent of Georgia O’Keeffe adorned her walls.  Yet, they were rendered softly — with restraint.

“Develop your own style.”

Ironically, her chief concern regarding whether or not I’d become a concert pianist was my inability (or unwillingness) to “narrow down my interests.”  That thought still tickles me, considering her diversity.

I also marveled at how her “reach” outdistanced the confines of the rural area where we resided by many, many miles.  In her younger years, she attended The McPhail School of Music in Minneapolis.  She confided once that she’d been given an assignment to harmonize a familiar melody.  After reviewing it, the instructor chided her for breaking every known rule of harmonization.  Then he stated, “It’s absolutely beautiful.”

“Rules were meant to be broken, or at least challenged by another perspective.”

Later, she taught at a school for the blind in Boston.  Whenever I’d balk at a difficult passage, she’d get out one of her Braille music books and have me run my fingers over it note by note.

“Never let yourself be limited by vision.  There are different ways of looking at things.  Try again.”

She subsequently married and moved to Minnesota.  Acquired a job as an organist at the Catholic church half a block from her home.  Became widowed, but continued to play hymns every Sunday and religious holiday in the stifling hot balcony with the aid of a rear-view mirror perched on the organ console.  Insisted that I learn how to do the same.

Frankly, during the summer of sixth grade, I was more interested in stealing a kiss from the boy who lived across the street than learning rudimentary pedal techniques.  Yet she insisted I learn.

“Who knows?  One day you may have to support a family.”

I went on to play for hundreds of weddings and funerals.  Became a substitute organist at so many churches I lost count.  And I still managed to steal that kiss… my first.

Excerpts from a letter in 1974…

1)  Transpose #5, P. 9 “Heller 50 Selected Studies” into the following keys – A Major, E flat Major.

2)  Do study #12, P. 20, “Heller Thirty progressive Studies.”  Work for a fine Legato with hand position close to keyboard.  Pay close attention to phrasing, accents, and dynamics as indicated — always with a firm touch, so there will be clear, beautiful tones.

3)  Arpeggio Etude #2, P. 6.  Czerny Selected Studies, Bk 111.  Flexible wrist to allow easy movement of thumb under the fingers.  Divide study into portions as a check for practice and to avoid fatigue.

4)  This is your assignment; please give it the respectful consideration which it deserves.  Any less is unworthy of you.  Never settle for less than your conscientious best… never sell yourself short by a “ho hum” attitude or performance.  Whatever profession you eventually follow, do today’s work today.  For the rest of your assignment, do some piece of music of your own choosing and do an accurate job — again — your best!

Piano Lessons II

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Mrs. Rogers passed away when I was a junior in high school.

It’s taken me until now to appreciate the blessing that she was and the magnitude of what she taught me.

She was not only my teacher, she was my mentor.

My friend.

How grateful I am.

Enjoying lessons learned,

~ Kimby

Food Is A Mood

Cajun Sweet Potato Crisps

It was an innocent flirtation, courted in the confines of her kitchen.

Spicy, but safe.

Thoughts of New Orleans wafted through her imagination like a blues riff drifting into the night from a street corner in the French Quarter.

She closed her eyes and pictured herself on a wrought iron balcony surrounded by wisteria, crepe myrtle, and magnolia — a rainbow of blossoms intoxicating her with their heady scent.

Although she’d never been to Mardis Gras, the idea of it exhilarated her. The colors. The music. The food.

Mostly, the food.

Well, maybe the music…

Playing with my food

Cajun Sweet Potato Crisps with Red Hot Mayo

1 baked sweet potato, unpeeled (great way to use up leftovers)

1 egg, beaten

1 Tbsp. water

Salt & pepper to taste

1/2 c. Panko bread crumbs

Cajun seasoning to taste

1 to 2 Tbsp. oil for frying

Slice sweet potato into 1/4″ rounds; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine egg, water, salt, and pepper.

Place Panko bread crumbs in another small bowl.

Dip slices into egg wash, followed by Panko crumbs; set aside.

In a large skillet, heat oil until sizzling. Fry coated slices until golden on both sides; remove from skillet.

Sprinkle liberally with Cajun seasoning.

Red Hot Mayo

1/2 c. mayonnaise

Louisiana Hot Sauce to taste

Cayenne pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. (Don’t be shy — jazz it up!)

Serve with Cajun Sweet Potato Crisps.

Mood Music

Food is a mood. Music sets the tone. Imagine the possibilities…

Enjoying a little jazz for dinner,

~ Kim

© 2011-2014 Kim Bultman and a little lunch

My Ideal Day

Today was the first day in a long time I’ve felt like myself — not that I go around masquerading.  Everything I do is a variation on the things I love doing most!  But, sometimes the signs point to whatever you’ve been neglecting (or doing without, intentionally or “un”) and today was one of those days.

“Hello, YOU!” said the Universe this morning, with a smile.

It started out with a surprise package in the mail — an olive server from my sister.  Sweet!  I quickly e-mailed a thank you and told her I’d feature it in a forthcoming post — maybe with an earthy tapenade and some garlic baguette rounds or a handful of Castelvetrano olives when the fall shipment from Sicily arrives at Lovera’s?

I love dreaming up “what to make” based solely on the merits of a serving dish.  (I also couldn’t resist giving you a sneak preview of my sister’s thoughtfulness — isn’t it darling?)

Clearly, this was a day to rediscover the things I love… things that make me “me.”  Camera in tow, I went outside.  A brisk south wind was tugging and the waves were rolling in… too pretty not to share.

Back in the house again, I pulled my hair into a pony tail (slightly disheveled from the wind) and donned my favorite house dress.  Yes, I love wearing dresses when doing domestic duties…  (This one is nicknamed my “Sophia Loren” dress… the only necessary accoutrements are a saucy bow, pretty earrings, and bare feet.) :)

Then I put on my favorite music…

And tackled a few more domestic duties (won’t bore you with photos of the domestic duties), followed by more favorite music…

And then I went into the kitchen to sauté and simmer to my heart’s content.  To me, cooking is a “reward” after taking care of the more mundane things in life.

Tonight’s dinner was Boeuf Braise Aux Carrot by Chef Denie Bernierdivine.  I’ve made it several times and it never disappoints.

(Apologies to Chef Denie; I “pinch hit” using leftover roast and sun dried tomatoes in lieu of the tomato paste.)  Whatever works — and tastes good.  Incidentally, The Man Of Few Words ate two helpings!

As dinner was simmering, the tantalizing aroma triggered my hunger… hmmm… what shall I have?  Not quite hungry enough for “lunch” (even a little lunch) :), I made Chilled Canteloupe Soup instead.  (Had to use up the rest of an organic canteloupe and heavy cream I treated myself to earlier in the week.)  Thanks, Cooks & Books & Recipes!

Although the cream swirl in the photo isn’t picture perfect, this soup tasted like a cantaloupe Dreamsicle.  Need I say more?

Since the Cabernet was open (for the aforementioned simmering dinner…), I decided to treat myself to a glass…

Followed by a leisurely stroll through the house (which I still consider to be a form of exercise…)  First stop: my writing nook.

Even when I’m not actively engaged in writing, I’m a writer!  (It took me 50+ years to say that with confidence, thanks to you and a few inspiring friends…)

Next stop: my music room…

(Apologizes for the glare… I washed and ironed curtains today…)

I also write in here, as evidenced by the hodgepodge on the re-purposed baker’s rack in the corner… and yes, I feel extremely blessed that a recliner (and bed) are part of my “office” decor.

(Insert nap here… zzzzzzzzzzz…)

Granted, ideal days aren’t an every day occurrence, but when (and if) they do happen, I appreciate them for all they’re worth!

For those of you who manage all of the above while working and/or going to school and/or caring for young children, I applaud you.

(Been there, done that…)

Believe me, I’m not “spoiled.”  My domestic bliss resulted from giving up many things I used to take for granted — shopping, dining out, basically going anywhere, and having a grocery budget in excess of $100 a month (!), which makes days like these all the more special…

Pick a life and live it, that’s my motto.  (Along with unending thanks to The Man Of Few Words who supports my dream… we both “work” to make it work!)

What’s your ideal day?  Have you treated yourself to one lately?

Enjoying a break from the mundane,

~ Kim

Life Beyond The Kitchen

As I was wandering about the house today (which I consider a form of exercise…), I was so thankful to be “here” (life, home, blog world), it inspired me to share a glimpse of life beyond the kitchen… plus, an updated photo of yours truly… the weathered version. :)  For those of you who follow me on Facebook and Google+ (yes, I joined the ranks), thanks for bearing with any photographic repetition.  Here’s what I’m peering at…

I count my blessings every time I look out that window…

Behind each and every blog is a human being — a life in progress — yours (and mine) included.  That’s why I decided to share my current “life and times” — a catching up and a jumping off point, of sorts.

(Public declarations mean one must do something about ’em, right?)

Take art, for instance…

When I’m not in the kitchen, I dabble.  Or dream.  Or both.  Actually, there’s more dreaming than dabbling at this point… I’m just now feeling settled in after our trip to Minnesota… but I’m pursuing it!

Way back when, I used to draw all the time — sketches, posters, illustrations, and what not.  I also loved wood burning — the texture of it fascinated me.  But, somewhere along the line, I put it all away.

(Not sure why, but it’s nothing to get hung about…)

Then “art” started calling my name (again) and I decided to answer back.  FYI, I don’t have a clue how to paint with oils yet — the hodgepodge above was a gift from a friend — but it’s messy and fun, and it makes for mighty purdy “art” photos. ;)

Whenever I set up that easel — my easel — I feel like a kid with a new toy.  (Tons of possibilities… will keep you posted.)  I’ve also joined an artists’ group whose mission is to leave Random Acts of Art in public places.  (More fun!)  Here’s my contribution…

Then, there’s music… and writing.  My constant companions.  Best friends, really.  They’ve been with me longer than anybody else.

Music and writing are the essence of my life — a source of solace and inspiration — not to mention some pretty interesting characters over the span of 50+ years.  (In current terminology, for-eh-vah…)

Truth be told, when I’m not carrying around my clipboard and pen, I’m carrying a tune.  That’s just the way it is.  (Yes, Bruce Hornsby & The Range are playing right now.)

So, how is it for you?  What do you love to do besides cook?  (Or is cooking your best friend?)  Is there something you’ve set aside?

No matter what stage of life you’re in, creative longings have a way of making themselves known.  Even if you can’t do anything about them right now, the important thing is to make a dent.

Whether life grants you five minutes (or 50 years) to scribble something down, throw it in a file and save it for later.  Write a “someday list” and review it now and then.  (Not the same as a “Bucket List” — I’m talkin’  deep down things that have always been a part of you — unless your lifelong dream is to jump out of an airplane.)  Hey, how ya doin’, Missy? :)

“Someday” may arrive when you least expect it — like it did for me.  Keep your dreams alive.  And, when you finally can do something about them, pick up where you left off and don’t look back.  No excuses, no regrets!

By the way… I’ve always loved playing with food.

Enjoying creative license,

~ Kim

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“Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes” (Rosemary Garlic Roast Chicken)

Did you know the fastest climbing #1 hit record in history was “Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes”?  It was.  Deemed a one-hit wonder, the song was lip-synched by The Greenfields — aka Edison Lighthouse.

Music history aside, rosemary tops the charts at my house, too.

This Rosemary Garlic Roast Chicken is infused with flavor and, best of all, it’s easy peasy.

Rosemary Garlic Roast Chicken

1 whole roasting chicken

Olive oil

Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper

2 sprigs of rosemary (reserve one for garnish)

1 whole head of garlic

Preheat oven to 325° F.

Remove giblets and neck from chicken cavity.  (Save “parts” to simmer for stock, or discard.)

Rinse chicken inside and out with cool water; drain, then pat dry with paper towels.

Place the chicken breast-side-up in a shallow roasting pan; rub skin with olive oil.  Season liberally with salt and pepper.

Insert one rosemary sprig into the chicken cavity.  Cut the garlic head in half horizontally (peel & all) and insert into cavity with rosemary.

Lasso the legs together :) — truss or tie the drumsticks together with kitchen twine.

Roast uncovered for 2 hours (adjust roasting time as needed, depending on the size of your chicken — mine was 5 pounds) and baste once, halfway through cooking time.

Chicken is done when juices run clear.  (Test by slicing between the drumstick and thigh; if in doubt, use a meat thermometer.)

Remove twine; discard rosemary and garlic.

Transfer chicken to a warm platter and garnish with the remaining rosemary sprig.

(For a printable version of this recipe, please click here.)

By the way, Rosemary is alive and well…

And growing.

Enjoying life’s musical interludes,

~ Kim

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