I took this photo many many years ago when living in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire (the Ivory Coast), West Africa. We were upcountry in the “bush” when a halo formed around the sun. Such a mystical experience. I’ve only seen it once in my life.
From under one of those giant, tropical Africa trees that reach for the sky, I captured the shot using a red filter on my Nikon and Kodak slide film. Much later, I took a photography course in New Jersey to learn to print paper positives from color slides. This photo is the result. I love it still.
Here you have two photos from an adventure I treasure. The first time I went to Egypt, my husband and I stayed at the historic Mena House, a converted Pasha’s hunting lodge at the feet of the Pyramids. Can you imagine the thrill when we arrived late at night and were ushered into our room? The bell boy threw open the shuttered doors to this heart-stopping vista of the lighted Great Pyramid. I don’t ever remember a thrill greater than that moment. Better than anything I’d ever dreamed.
The following dawn, the growls of camels and shouts of their drivers awoke us. “Yellah! Yellah!” the turbaned men urged with sharp cries.
With no strength or will to tear myself away from the terrace, we ordered a room service feast with hot crusty rolls, thick apricot jam, plump fresh figs, and syrupy black coffee. While Jesper gazes in wonder, the early morning mists melt in the warming sun. Magic. Just plain magic.
I hadn’t started my trilogy yet. The Red Mirror was still years in the future, waiting for me to stumble over it in a Las Vegas antique mall. Isis hadn’t spoken to me; she hadn’t shared her story. But the seed was most certainly planted that dawn, on that very terrace, at the old Mena House in the shadow of the eternal Pyramids.
Being a fan of the Oxford comma, and having been corrected by editors when using it, I am especially fond of this superb example of why we sometimes need it.
BTW, the Oxford comma may also be called the Harvard comma. The term refers to the comma placed immediately before the coordinating conjunction (usually and, or, or nor) in a series of three or more terms.
Thank you to Alexander MacDonald @alex_macdonald for sharing this on twitter and Indira Lakshmanan
@Indira_L for RTing.
The French Côte de Provence Domain de Beaupré was a rosé wine I’d been saving for a special occasion. It was delicious at the beginning of the meal but seemed to turn a little sour at the end. If I made this again, I’d go Italian all the way.
When I saw this delectable Italian artisan pasta (sagne torte) at our local deli, d’Paolo & Sons, I couldn’t resist. Too elegant and tasty to be smothered in sauce, I came up with the following recipe that accented the rabbit every bit as much as I’d hoped it would.
Sandra’s pasta con funghi
4 cups whole dark mushrooms, then chopped fine
6 scallions, chopped fine
2 garlic cloves, chopped fine
olive oil to cover bottom of frying pan
pat of butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons crème fraîche
salt & pepper
au jus from the roasted rabbit
note: As always, I eyeball ingredients: oil, butter, white wine, crème fraîche. You must sense how much you need and add more if necessary. The sauce is not meant to be “runny,” so go easy on the wine. You achieve the right texture with the crème fraîche, which also binds the flavors. Salt and pepper is according to taste.
sauté onions and garlic in olive oil and butter for 3 minutes
add mushrooms, salt and pepper
sauté until soft, turning gently
add white wine
simmer 5 minutes
add crème fraîche and turn.
turn off heat and let sit until ready to eat.
boil pasta in salty water according to instructions (about 9 minutes, stirring every 1-2 minutes). DO NOT OVERCOOK!
while pasta is boiling, warm the sauce gently
drain pasta but do not rinse
turn onto a platter
add mushroom sauce and turn quickly and gently
spoon generous amount of the au jus (sauce) from the rabbit over the pasta
There’s a bit of an interesting story surrounding this picture. And I’m not talking about the wild adventures through Central America that led up to this moment. We had planned a wonderful wedding and dinner at the San Angel Inn, a beautiful 16th century colonial restaurant now in southern Mexico City. Just one month before the wedding, I came down with hepatitis, amoebic dysentery and salmonella. With the doctor’s assurance that I’d be fine for the wedding date, we didn’t change our plans.
Three days before the wedding, we accepted the reality that I was not going to stand out of bed for more than an hour. Jesper quickly arranged for the Mexican judge to come to us instead of the San Angel Inn. BTW, all marriages in Mexico are civil. The religious ceremony comes after and has no legal status. My girlfriend rescued the dress which I had intended to sew myself, finishing the last touches at the last minute, and our friends crowded into our apartment in Coyoacan overlooking Mexico City.
I literally stood up, got dressed, inked my thumbprint into a massive ledger, gave the appropriate responses in Spanish to the questions posed by the judge – and then went back to bed. As you can imagine, there were quite a few jokes about the bride waiting in the next room.
What easily could have been taken as a terrible omen didn’t turn out that way. 40 years later, we’re still holding hands. And still smiling.