A Trip to the Farmers Market for Ingredients to Make Crockpot Butternut Squash Soup

On Saturday while I was at work at the library, Denise and Terry were talking about making soup in a crockpot. That idea intrigued me and since I’ve been cooking a bit, I decided to look at gluten and dairy free soup recipes. I found a recipe for GF and Dairy Free butternut squash soup. Sounded good to me!

When I arrived in Philadelphia, I headed to the Farmers Market for vegetables and apples. I wanted fresh and let me tell you, I’ve never really been to a farmers market and assumed it would be cheaper than a grocery store. Some things are, but others aren’t. The squash was $2.99/pound, where they are $2.99 each at Trader Joe’s. Live and learn. The Rittenhouse Farmers Market was crowded and I felt like a kid in a candy store. I also found a GF booth and found things I haven’t had since the diagnosis like dinner rolls and thumb print cookies.

Sunday was cook day. Mom helped cut the butternut squash and after it cooked for 6 hours, she was the one who blended it together. We bonded in the kitchen and that was really nice.

Here is the recipe I used. Butternut Squash Soup recipe

WRTI / Astral Arts Presents the 2nd Annual Block Party

I missed last year’s first block party since I went to as far as my fingertips take me, and I didn’t want to miss it this year. Two weeks ago when Gregg Whiteside announced the block party on air, I made note of it and the daily e-mail reminders helped too.

After work at the library ended at 12:45 pm, mom picked me up and took me to the train and after 45 minutes, I arrived in Philadelphia. I was early, went to a Farmer’s Market (first one, I’ll have to share that experience tomorrow), and walked around until 2:30. The Block Party didn’t start until 3 and although the Farmer’s Market was on 18th and Walnut, the six block walk only took 15 minutes. I was still early.

But, that was okay! I walked around and mingled with people. They had GF smores and I made myself a smores. Nydia Hahn, one of the 6 ABC news anchors was there and I had the chance to meet her. She put on her sunglasses for the selfie, which was understandable. Schmoozed with others for bit. Gregg didn’t show up, which bummed me out because he is my favourite, but I did meet Bliss and Deborah, the other classical hosts. I was too nervous to ask for a selfie with them and when I worked up the nerve, the event was over.

I did meet Ms. Blue, one of the jazz hosts, she gave me a big hug and agreed to photos. She was a joy to chat with and meet. I love classical music, but it seems like the jazz host was a bit more excited to be there and opened to people. Makes sense… I see classical musicians as more introverted than jazz musicians. While I’m sure jazz musicians are introverted, they are most likely a different type of introverted than a classical musician. I added the photo with Ms. Blue to my Happiness Box.


I also met some friendly dogs and their kind owners. The one eyed dog, which his owner said he was born that way, loved having his photos taken and it looked like he was smiling. The pibble (pit bull) was sweet too. I actually feel for pibbles because they get a bad rap for wrong reasons. The doggies and babies loved the classical music; classical music puts us all in a happy/joyful mood.

The Astral Artists were amazing too!

While one of the WRTI staff members was taking a photo of me with Ms. Blue with my DSLR, someone else shot a photo with their phone and posted it to WRTI’s Instagram feed. I was so happy to see my photo with Ms. Blue!


I really hope there is a 3rd annual Block Party next year. WRTI’s Block Party 14 September 2019

Thankful Thursday 12 September 2019

It’s looking like September is an early November in the sense I consider November to be a month of gratitude and thanks. I’m finding that this September, I have a lot to be grateful for.

On Sunday, I got up at 7am to let Sandy out and I decided to watch Family. I ended up buying the DVD because it’s my favourite movie. I was sitting on Aunt Kathy’s floor, watching my favourite movie, on an early Autumn morning and all felt right with the world. I felt at peace; I find morning to be the most peaceful and quiet – that’s also when I am at my best in terms of work. I’m thankful for the moment of peace.

On Tuesday evening, as I was walking home from work, Aunt Marie spotted me and picked me up to take me home. I was grateful for her kindness; I am grateful for all of my family members and I love them all.

I am also thankful for Mitch, my counselor. Tis the season of hard feelings… 11 September 2013 started the chain reaction of what led to my rape. On 11 September 2013, I ran into someone from high school, we hung out for a bit and he wanted more, I said no, he listened but made fun of me. This was when I started frequenting the cupcake shop and that’s when I met Brandon.

I’m also realizing that autumn 2013 isn’t the only reason for the sad feelings, though it is significant. I realized last week that in autumn 2012, I was losing Nan. After 15 years, her lung cancer came back and it was late stage. She was 89 and didn’t want to do chemo or radiation, she lost a lot of weight. I knew that this would be my last autumn with her and although I displayed some anger towards her, once I realized everything, I spent all of my free time with her.

She died on 25 January 2013 and 2013 as a year sucked. It was an emotionally draining year. The case was dropped on 5 December 2013 and that was when I still celebrated Christmas. I graduated 10 days later and I felt so empty. A lot of people demonized me for what happened and Nan was a major support for me. I felt more angry than sad, but it was very tough that year. I am thankful for those who didn’t walk out at that time and through the healing process. I’m also thankful that during this time, I have help. I have three more sessions until I have to find something through insurance.

I’ve been listening to a lot of TED talks lately and I felt solace in this talk from Andrew Solomon: the worst moments in our lives make us who we are

Brandon died. He was 32 years old and I felt sorry for his parents because no parent should bury their child. Some were surprised I wasn’t happy that he was dead. While I’m glad he can’t hurt others, I actually feel sorry for him. He is dead and can never experience life ever again. He tried to take my life and I survived. I am very much alive and have a bright future ahead of me. In two years, I will be the age he was when he died and in 3 years I will surpass him in age. It’s sort of ironic. The bastard wasn’t successful in pushing me down, but he pushed himself down at the end.

What are you thankful for?

34th Annual Mushroom Festival | Kennett Square, PA | 8 September 2019

We’ve been enjoying the Kennett Square Mushroom Festival for 25 years, off and on. I asked mom how she found out about this annual festival while we were enjoying lunch and she said, “when you were a little girl, I loved researching free or inexpensive events that we would all enjoy.” Well, her research yielded gold since we’ve been going year after year!

Kennett Square is the Mushroom Capital of the world and we decided to eat lunch at the Kennett Square Inn first. I was happy because their mushroom soup was GF. This was my first time having mushroom soup since my diagnosis. I ordered a cup, with a Caesar salad (without the croutons) and I was in GF heaven. Mom and dad enjoyed their lunches too.

Our view from the restaurant was amazing. We watched people passing by with their bags of mushrooms, or soil with fungus to grow mushrooms. Dad and I thought that was neat. The weather was beautiful yesterday – 80 degrees with minimal humidity, and a nice breeze cooled us down as we munched. Mom, dad, and I enjoyed lunch as a family, shared some stories and laughter.

After, we walked around. I ran into Ms. Birch Tree and she agreed to two photos with me. I loved her outfit and I’m thinking I might be a baby maple tree for Halloween. I don’t think the outfit would be too hard to make. As we walked, we tried samples, and I loved the portabello mushroom jerky. It was fun just walking around.


I can’t wait ’til next years Mushroom Festival. The big 35! I’m just thankful that there are local events that we, as a family, can enjoy together. Autumn festivals are the best!

Sonya’s Elegy

One of my co-workers at my full-time job unexpectedly died last week. I didn’t know Sonya well – 46, major heart attack – but I remember her lively presence on the train and when I first started my job, she was the AA for the IT department. For the three months that my cube was on the second floor, she lit the office. When my department moved up to the third floor, I only saw her on the train when I was going to Philadelphia. Ms. Ernestine wanted me to write a poem that she could give to Sonya’s mother. Here is my go at it.


Sonya’s Elegy

Red and yellow leaves cover the train tracks,
howling wind groans and howls, a sudden cold silence.
A week ago, the green leaves burst in laughter,
music and dance filled the train;
laughter about the upcoming weekend-
DJing, endless scratching of records
from sun down, the moon lighting the sky,
her amber eyes reflect the stars,
her voice, a seranade of summer.

One night, sound held in the city’s landscape
drowned in August, partygoers hum,
car horn’s in a cacophony, yelling a symphony,
she has her friend by her side,
wild laughter as they wait for the train,
while all of Philadelphia slept.
Those crazy kids in the twilight,
the train lights the way.

I never thought there would be a day
where her laughter ceased,
her friends an empty shadow
as they wait for the train;
summer subsides into autumn,
green turns to gold, gold to bare,
I see you singing,
wandering, adventuring,
taking hold of the shooting star,
I can see you forever in the cityscape.
Red and yellow leaves cover the train tracks,
you are the wind wrapping me in warmth.

Thankful Saturday 7 September 2019

I’m dogsitting for Aunt Kathy this weekend and today I had work at the library. I finished an hour early so I could go food shopping before I had to get back to puppy at 2:30. As I was waiting for the community bus, Aunt Marie saw me sitting in wait. She called out to me and asked if I needed a ride.

Aunt Marie is my great aunt, she took me to Wegmans and we went grocery shopping together. We bonded while shopping and I also ran into an old college mate. I haven’t seen Steve in seven years, he recognized me right away and we caught up for a bit. That was nice too. After, Aunt Marie dropped me off at home and said, “it was a pleasure shopping with you! If you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to reach out. It’s fun roaming around with you!” I’m verklempt and thankful.

Aunt Kathy didn’t go GF grocery shopping for me, but that’s okay. At 6, I snuck out to the mall and had a delicious pho dinner. I always eat half, so I wrapped the rest. I decided to visit Jack at his job, we caught up, he brewed me some tea, and gave me a discount on an ounce of delicious tea because he knows my situation. After I paid and had to get back to puppy, he came out and gave me a big hug. It was a nice evening, even for an hour out. It was inexpensive – $10 for the pho, $4 for the tea, and my spirits are lifted. I am also thankful for Jack.

Thankful Thursday 5 September 2019

Happy September! After some hot and humid days, the temperatures have dropped and autumn is in the air! Woohoo! I’m also feeling better, now it’s just my dreaded allergies. Tis the season!

I’m thankful that mom is giving me her old laptop. Last weekend she bought a new one and said I’m free to wipe it, then install Windows 10 (she has Windows 7). This weekend while I’m dogsitting for Aunt Kathy, I’ll be a techie. I’m looking forward to having a “new” functioning computer. Mom’s excited about her new computer too.

I’m thankful I’m dogsitting for Aunt Kathy this weekend and I’m thankful that I’ll be catsitting for Terry on 19 October and over Christmas/Hanukkah. They know my predicament and they want to help out a little by offering me small jobs. I don’t want to be given money, I want to work for it, and they both have needs too. They both trust me and I take good care of their furbabies. I’m verklempt about these opportunities.

I’m thankful for my two jobs, friends, and family. I’m thankful for therapy and my counselor. This is the season where I get triggered; 7 November will mark six years and 2019 has the same days as 2013. 7 November was a Thursday in 2013 and it’s a Thursday this year. I started triggering a bit earlier this year and in the three sessions I have left, we’ll be working through these triggers. I’m thankful that there is help out there.

What are you thankful for?