Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I Stand With Courage

Sunflowers have a distinctive and brilliant appearance. It is easy to see why they have long held our fascination. Sunflowers were first grown in Central and South America more for their usefulness (providing oil and food) than beauty. But perhaps their unique combination of striking beauty and utility is, in part, why sunflowers have appeared as such revered symbols throughout the ages.

Sunflowers are the 3rd wedding anniversary flower and the state flower of Kansas. The flowers turn to follow the sun during the day. Their open faces symbolize the sun itself, conveying warmth and happiness, adoration and longevity. It is no wonder that Minnesota author, Kathi Holmes chose the sunflower as a symbol for her book cover as it is the happiest flower, mirroring the sun and uplifting the spirit. 

Kathi has written a very moving and inspiring memoir that profiles her journey to conquer paralysis.
In 2008 Kathi 's ongoing health issues over the years related to autoimmune disease escalated. It was at this time her husband was also facing his own medical crisis with heart issues and a leg injury not healing properly. When Kathi was diagnosed with paralysis she began a journey into despair and helplessness. She was unprepared on how to cope with such a profound disability. But over time Kathi was simply not willing  to take "no" for an answer to paralysis. A rehab center became her home while she searched for strength of body and mind. Faith, determination and courage became her models.

Kathi and I met this past August at The Northwoods Book and Art Festival in Hackensack, MN. I am the chair for their Poetry Recognition Event. Kathi had submitted a poem for the event. Also Kathi was at the festival selling her book in the Book Arts section. Her poem The Branch was one of the 6 winners in the Popular Choice category. The win was quite meaningful to Kathi since she only started recently exploring poetry as a literary art. I was thrilled and honored when an autographed copy of I Stand With Courage arrived unexpectedly one day in the mail from Kathi.
One recent warm afternoon I sat outside on the deck overlooking the lake having lunch with her book.  Kathi was my invited guest. I had planned to browse the book but by page 21 with tears in my eyes, I was hooked. I read all 65 pages in one sitting.  What a moving and mesmerizing story. Truly an inspirational read. 
For more information on  the book and the author Kathi Holmes here is a link to her website. I found it quite easy to navigate. 
Her book can be purchased on Amazon

The Branch
By Kathi Holmes
Today a branch fell from our tree
Weakened by the storms of life.
It clung onto its lifeblood
Until it could hang no longer.

Yes, the tree still stands
But without the same grace and dignity
As when the branch kept it aligned
With form and function.

The tree will heal
And new branches will sprout
Although never totally covering
Traces of the knot left by the fallen branch.

Those who did not know the branch
Will find the tree a joy
But those who knew what had been
Realize the emptiness within.
Apple Crisp
Cook's notes: Sure signs of fall just around the corner are cooler temperatures and the arrival of comfort foods such as Apple Crisp. 
Apple Mixture
  • 8 large Granny Smith apples or a tart baking apple- peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3 TB. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2-3 TB. cinnamon
Directions for Apple Mixture:
  • Mix sugar, flour, salt and cinnamon
  • Add in apple chunks and mix well
  • Place apple mixture in a 13 x 9 baking dish 
Topping Ingredients:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  •  2 cups of quick cooking dry oatmeal
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  •  1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1-2 TB. cinnamon
  • 6 TB softened butter
Directions for Topping and Apple Mixture:
  • In a large bowl mix all topping ingredients
  • Place topping in Cuisinart, pulse to mix 
  • In a 13 x 9 pan spread apple mixture and sprinkle topping evenly over the apple mixture
  • Bake uncovered @ 350 for 35-40 minutes or until apples are bubbly and tender 

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