Paris and Back

I’m back from ten days in Paris with my husband and a Montana granddaughter. We saw all the sights. The Eiffel Tower at night from a river cruise…

Eiffel tower at night

We took a cooking class. That’s Chef Constance in the red apron. We went to the markets, bought fresh ingredients, came back to cook and then ate the best meal we had in Paris. I learned I’d never cooked mushrooms properly.

Ellen cooking

We walked and walked and walked. Took the subway and rode buses. My FitBit was still on East Coast time, but clocked one day at over nine miles. The granddaughter got oriented right away and after two days I think we could have turned her loose and she would have found her way back to the hotel.

We love Paris, despite the drama two years ago when Roger’s leg was broken in the subway and he had to have emergency surgery. It was so much fun to introduce the City of Lights to our granddaughter. She’ll go back at some point and explore. We were thrilled to be able to open that door for her.


Now that I’m home there are things to accomplish.

While I was gone both Laura and I both were elected to the board of Eastern Shore Writers Association. We had lunch last Thursday with the incoming President, Mindie Burgoyne, to plan strategy. The Association needs to revisit what it’s members want it to be. That process will begin in July. I am the new Parlimentarian. Robert’s Rules of Order is on its way from Amazon. Laura is the new Secretary.

Bay to Ocean Writers Conference plans continue. We have most of the speakers lined up but need commitments from a few more. Then work on the website begins. Registration for the early March conference begins in October. We always sell out and have a long waiting list.

I’m involved in the annual summer Membership drive for the Eastern Shore Writers Association. There are labels to make from the database for the renewal letters which go out in mid July. Then work begins on the Member Directory as the renewals come in.

Laura and I are planning to publish our screenplays (and one play) on Kindle. I was working on the formatting before this trip. We need to decide on a strategy. All of them at once? One a week? And, of course, how to let the world know they’re out there.

We’ve had lots of rain and the helicopters from our six maple trees are sprouting endlessly. If I wasn’t pulling up the baby trees, our lot would be totally overgrown in a couple of years. When I get over my jet lag and am feeling less like I barely survived the Zombie apocalypse, I’ll spend some time every day pulling weeds.

My bed at the St. Michaels Community Garden is doing well. Eight Roma tomato plants and a couple of rows of beans. That bed gets more sun than my raised beds at home, although I have tomatoes here as well. I’ve already eaten a few Sungold cherry tomatoes and have fruit on all the other tomato plants – the heirloom Nebraska Wedding plants I raised from seed and the Costoluto Fiorentino given to me by a yoga class friend. She had been in Italy and said there were only two kinds of tomatoes in the markets. Romas (paste tomatoes) and these ridged Costolutos. She tracked down seeds, started them and I was a lucky recipient. Canning tomato sauce will begin by the end of July.

For now, between ticking off the list, I’m trying to keep up the walking. Those croissants are going to take their toll if I don’t. Paris was wonderful, but it’s good to be home.

Dinner on the Terrace

Laura served dinner on the terrace and sent me photos. With that view who needs dinner!

wine glass for blog

On the menu: Chicken Marinara

Time: 30 minutes.

Baked chicken breast medallions over angel hair pasta with an artichoke, black olive, and tiny squares of fresh mozzarella marinara topped with basil. A side of (canned) green beans tossed with olive oil, vinegar, and chopped walnuts, refrigerated. You just can’t mess this one up. Mala note: canned green beans. Seriously? I could have given you fresh radishes, arugula and lettuce from my garden. My beans just started to bloom.

Chicken Marinara

For my recent birthday Laura gave me a bottle of black truffle oil. Last night I made mushroom risotto and used some of the oil. Wow. It really ramped up the flavor. What a great gift.

Summer crabs should be available soon. Stay tuned.

Little Shop of Horrors Plant

A gardening friend asked if I wanted a night blooming cereus. It was a cutting from her Grandmother’s plant that was over 100 years old. What gardener could possibly turn that down.

Mary brought me the plant and said if a piece broke off, to just stick it into the soil in the pot. That should have been the first clue, but I was totally fixated on the origins of this cactus. She said to keep it in  low light and on the dry side. It is a cactus, after all. I had a spot on my bookshelf and put it there to live.

night blooming cereus

Six months later it is taking over the spot. What to do. Another friend who has one of these plants told me to cut it back and put it outside in the shade for the summer. Her plant had eighteen blooms last winter. She also said hers was now in a huge pot and she practically needed a forklift to move it.


Today I am taking my night blooming cereus outside and cutting it back. I’ll keep you posted on what happens.