Cubs working on deal with Toyota | News

Cubs working on deal with Toyota | News

The Cubs, looking for sponsorship opportunities, are working on an agreement with Toyota in which a giant logo for the Japanese carmaker would be erected behind the left-field bleachers at Wrigley Field.

Yes, you read that correctly. And no, today is March 17, not April 1st. I’m guessing now’s a good time to try to make deals with Toyota ;-D

For me, this may be the last straw. Now that I can only follow games on the radio, I’ll be catching very few Cubs games, but lots of Twins games.  Part of me will always be a Cubs fan, but it may be time for a few years off (like until Lou and Soriano are both gone).  I guess this means I’ll have to start working on a new set of header photos for this blog. Not sure whether to do a “Logorama”-style version of Wrigley, or just defect to the Twins (though I’m sure there are plenty of Target bullseyes in the new stadium). (BTW, if you haven’t seen the Oscar-winning Logorama, do check it out. You can see it here.  Not the best of the Animated Shorts (IMHO), but still worth seeing. )

Lent & Spring Training

Lent has continued to be more exhausting than my usual “Lenten Retreat.” Week 2 included more music, less cooking, some minor sewing, ongoing reading, and (most important) the start of the 2010 Baseball Spring Training Season!


I hadn’t been to Jazz Ensemble practice in almost a month (due to snow, vacation days, etc.). This week my violin and I finally got there. And now we have to come up with a 14-bar SOLO for “Play that Funky Music.” This should be interesting 😉

Over the weekend I attended a performance by the Mary Louise Knutson Trio, with special guest violinist Randy Sabien. Picked up one of his CDs to help me with my jazz violin studies.

This week was also the 200th Anniversary of the birth of Chopin. MPR carried some great concert segments celebrating the event. And of course I had to pull out my books of Chopin’s piano music (and even ordered some more from the library).

Quite the musical week!


I’ve decided one way to spend less money on food during Lent is to clear out my rather extensive pantry and freezer collections. So this week I roasted some chicken leg quarters (from the freezer) and had them with some beets (from the freezer) and sautéed kale and brown rice (from the pantry). Then ate the leftover baked rigatoni from a couple of weeks ago (from the freezer).  Next I’ll be whipping up a curry from a combination of fresh and frozen veggies in the frig. That should last a while!


Never got back to the big sewing projects started last week, but did manage to do some mending and patching this week.  I guess that is in the Lenten spirit of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”.


Made it through Book IV of Lactantius’ Divine Institutes (see previous post).  Still not wild about his style of argument.  Also not sure many of his arguments have the Biblical support he claims for them.  But the group is still interesting, so I will plod on.


Spring Training has begun.  Listened to part of yesterday’s Twins/Red Sox game.  Another game is on this afternoon.  Probably should take it slow.  Don’t want to wear myself out before the season even starts 🙂  I tried not to pay too much attention during the off season.  The Twins actually made some impressive acquisitions (Orlando Hudson, J.J.Hardy).  Maybe now that Daddy Pohlad is gone, the wallet will open enough to produce a winning team.  Not as sure about the Cubs . . . no cable means it will be harder for me to follow them (except when the radio reception from Chicago is good), but that might not be such a bad thing.


Temps were in the 40s most of this week, so I tried to go for a few short (10-15 minutes) walks.  I tend to get post-exertional malaise and/or excessive fatigue and/or post-exertional headache from even the briefest attempt at exercise (other than yoga), but I needed the fresh air.  Also added “take your daily vitamins” to my list of lenten disciplines (along with flossing and drinking more milk).

Lent 2010: Week 1

Here’s what I’ve been up to during the first week of Lent. Giving up Facebook has provided time and energy for other projects.


I decided not to obsess over food-related Lenten disciplines, though I have managed to do without cookies and cakes. After finishing off last week’s Baked Rigatoni and Italian Herb Focaccia, I brewed up a big batch of Lentil Soup and baked a loaf of 10-grain bread (using the recipe in Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Bread Bible). So I’ve been eating simple but hardy soup & bread all week (and have quite a bit frozen for future meals).

Lentil Soup


Several years ago I bought this beautiful, bright fabric to make a curtain for the window in my stairway.

curtain fabric

A few days ago I finally made the curtain. I think it looks perfect!

Stairway curtains

The remaining fabric will go for a similar curtain for my back door.

Lenten Reading Group

After my Willa Cather Book Group disbanded, I decided to join a Lenten Reading Group through the University Episcopal Community in a study of Lactantius’ Divine Institutes.

Lactantius Divine Institutes

The syllabus describes this project as follows:

Lactantius was the first Christian to compose a comprehensive account of the faith of Christians in the Latin language. The Divine Institutes, written during the last Great Persecution of the Church by the Roman authorities (303-13 A.D.) was meant as a definitive description of Christianity that would answer all possible pagan objections and provide a permanent way which would draw middlebrow folk on to ‘that full and overflowing fount of teaching which slakes thirst in the inmost parts’. Among these middlebrow folk was Constantine the Great (306-37), who emerged from the years of the Great Persecution as the first Christian emperor. The Divine Institutes open a window onto the Christian experience of persecution and onto the sort of Christianity embraced by Constantine. What they have to say, in particular about Christian ethics and the Christian hope, still has the power to illuminate lives today.

For the first week our assignment was Books I-III, 225 pages setting the stage for the rest of the book’s defense of Christianity. I made it through 187 pages. So far Lactantius’ primary rhetorical device seems to be ridiculing the beliefs of the pagans and calling them “stupid.” He is rather witty (probably more so to those more well-versed in classical literature) and I did mark several passages that made me laugh out loud. I marked even more passages that seemed to contain criticisms which could be as easily leveled against Christianity as against the pagan gods.

In any case, the man leading the group is entertaining and full of great stories, so I’ll likely plow through the remaining 250 pages, which spread over the next five weeks should be less arduous than this first section.

Images of Haiti

Images of Haiti Cover

My church, which has a partnership with a church in Bigonet, Haiti, has produced a book of stories (and a set of posters) about Haiti, in English and Haitian Creole. I’m helping out with a bit of internet research locating Haitian Studies and Creole Language Programs for possible marketing of the book and associated posters. The book and posters are being sold through  Or contact me to learn more about it!


On top of all that, in the evenings I’ve been trying to stay awake to watch the Olympics, though don’t get me started on the NBC Olympic coverage–ARRGGHH!!

And I’m still managing to take my naps, do my yoga, and otherwise manage my CFS. I doubt I can keep this up for long (I occasionally have bursts of energy followed by periods of total exhaustion), but I’m thankful for this productivity nonetheless.

Shrove Tuesday & Ash Wednesday

Spent today, Ash Wednesday, recovering from overindulgence on Shrove Tuesday*. My traditional Shrove Tuesday* involves pancakes, not running drunk & naked through the streets of New Orleans, but it is still possible to overindulge, especially when you attend TWO pancake events in one day. At noon I had pancakes prepared by a British gentleman (which means they were the style of pancake slightly thicker than a crepe and served with sugar and lemon) shared with Episcopalians and Lutherans some of whom were beginning a Lenten Study of Lactantius (more on him later). In the evening was a more traditional U.S. Episcopal gathering involving traditional American pancakes (plain and pumpkin), sausage, & eggs followed by a raffle in support of Haiti Relief. Between the two events I consumed more eggs, butter/fat, and other things I don’t usually eat than I should have.

Thus, today, Ash Wednesday, was spent with tea & juices, later some yogurt, banana, and eventually a bowl of leftover minestrone soup and some leftover focaccia. I think my system has finally recovered.

This year my Lenten Disciplines are mostly about clearing away some distractions so I can be more mindful about how I spend my time. I suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, so I need to be more careful about how I spend what little energy I have. I find that when I’m tired I often do mindless things that seem to take little energy, but in reality are draining. Many of these involve the Interweb: Facebook, email, reading news feeds, etc. Last year I gave up Facebook for Lent, though I checked in with folks on Sundays (‘cuz technically “Sunday’s don’t count” in the 40 days of Lent). This year I’m going to try to stay off of FB altogether. I hope to spend the time reading, resting, playing my violin, and working on some projects I’ve been neglecting.

Most years I also try to include some food-related discipline during Lent. I’ve been doing quite a lot of baking (cookies and cakes) the past few months, though I’m really not much of a dessert eater. So, I’m taking a break from baking cakes and cookies during Lent. I will still bake bread, because I hope to eat simpler during Lent (mostly soups and bread) so as to focus on other things. I had considered attempting the 2 Dollar Difference challenge during Lent (where you attempt to eat on $2 per day and donate the difference between that and what you would usually spend), but when I calculated my current food expenditures (approx. $5.50/day), I realized how much work it would be to try to keep track (and find lower cost alternatives) and decided that wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time. I still like the general idea, which you can read more about at 2 Dollar Difference , but my tendency toward obsessive compulsive record keeping would likely ruin any positive effects of the practice.

I promised I would say more about Lactantius, but he will have to wait, as I’m running out of energy.

For those of you observing Lent, may your Lenten Journey be a meaningful and insightful one.

according to my dictionary, the name comes from “shrive” which means to administer the sacrament of reconciliation; to free from guilt; or to confess one’s sins, esp. to a priest; and is related to the words prescribe and scribe (to write). Only instead of preparing for Lent by confessing our sins, modern Christians cleanse their pantries by using up all their eggs, sugar, and butter.

Back to top

Turkey Mushroom Rice Casserole Update

Happy New Year!  Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!

Apologies for long delay between posts. Ho Ho Ho drained all my energy.

Much of my attention right now is directed toward the earthquake in Haiti (7.0 on Tuesday January 13, 2010), but I will need some more time to process before I blog about that . . .

Not much news on the cooking front. Haven’t been exploring many new recipes and have already posted most of the old favorites. Speaking of . . . I made my favorite Turkey Mushroom Rice Casserole a few days ago and discovered that the recipe I had posted was missing a few steps. (I had listed herbs and S&P in the ingredients but never mentioned when to add them.) You can see the corrected version at: Turkey Mushroom Rice Casserole.

I also made another batch of my Black & White Burritos. This time I cooked dried beans instead of using canned. I used the oven method suggested by Marcella Hazan that I described with my Minestrone recipe. The surprise was that even though Black Beans typically take at least 90 minutes to cook on top of the stove, they were done in less than an hour using the oven method (I used 1-1/2 cups beans and the same 3-quart casserole mentioned in the instructions in the Minestrone post. I’m going to be eating lots of rice, beans, and pasta in the next few months (due to winter budgetary restrictions), so I’m thrilled that this method works with a variety of beans.