"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Tag: celebrating family

Chao-girls galore! . . .

my three daughters on a sunny Fall day

my three daughters on a sunny Fall day

“Chao” (pronounced “chow”) is my maiden name and two of my daughters have incorporated it as their middle name as well. The Chao family (my father’s side) were renowned for their adventurousness, drive and determination. They made names for themselves in philosophy and religion (my grandfather as Dean of Religion at Yenching (Peking) University,); science (my Dad, an astrogeologist who trained astronauts to retrieve moon rocks during the Apollo moon shots) and literature (my Aunt who translated poems by T.S. Eliot and Walt Whitman from English into Mandarin.) That’s why we took up the name “Chao” and turned it into “Chao-Girls” as a way of characterizing and celebrating that standard of grit and accomplishment. We have a couple of granddaughters who are “Chao-Girls” too.  One is five and lives in Minneapolis; the other is a sophomore at Johns Hopkins (yeah!)


me and A. who is at JHU. . .

me and A. who is at JHU. . .

J. at the age of 3 . . .

J. at the age of 3 . . .

The (grown) girls all get along pretty well now – something that wasn’t always the case while they were growing up. We lived in a rambling Victorian house in Lexington, a suburb of Boston where the girls went to school. Our house was next to the East Lexington firehouse, which was a fortunate thing I discovered one day when the lawnmower had burst into flames; and another time when a chicken had been placed inside the oven to roast without a pan underneath!

Things were not always easy but they weren’t always that hard either. A bountiful raspberry harvest meant that boxes of extra raspberries were hawked on the red Radio Flyer wagon pulled up and down our street, Locust Avenue. Meals were eaten outside on the back deck shaded by Wisteria vines dripping with tendrils of pale blue flowers. On Patriots’ Day, the town parade could be seen from our 2nd floor bedroom window. Sour cream doughnuts dipped in sugar were a tradition for watching the festivities from our house.

We lived for twenty-two years in that house and the girls got a good enough education to go on to stellar colleges afterwards. They still mention some shenanigans that went on with various babysitters when their parents were at work. I guess we’ll never know everything that we all went through, growing up. And maybe we won’t get around to telling each other our stories for awhile.

But life is long (my second marriage is going on twenty years next year!) and who knows what miracles might still occur?


soup! . . .

spinach soup 1

Yesterday, I made a simple vegetable soup (onions, celery, carrots, broccoli and diced tomatoes simmered in homemade chicken stock from the freezer) that we shared with G.’s mother and brother across the street at lunchtime. It was a warming treat during a grey, drizzly, cool day. Today, I was thinking about how meager our lunch choices were and thought about making the soup again. Instead, I looked around and discovered some fresh spinach that was looking a little sad but still good, so I looked online for a spinach soup recipe and found one that incorporated a sweet potato too!spinach soup 2

We love Japanese sweet potatoes but I’ve been avoiding them for awhile to adhere to the “no starchy vegetable” guidelines of the eating regimen that I’ve been following. However, I thought bending the rules to add one would be all right, especially since the recipe looked and sounded so scrumptious. I was also looking for a recipe that avoided adding cream or milk to a creamy spinach soup, wanting to use almond milk instead. This recipe fit the bill perfectly,

Since I’m meeting my daughter, C., for dinner tonight, (we’re celebrating by ordering Peking Duck in the same restaurant that we went to when she got her first job in high school! – imagine that!) There will be enough soup for G.’s dinner to enjoy here at home by himself tonight too.

Some things stay the same (like the Chinese restaurant still open after thirty years in the same location!) while recipes made with sweet potato and almond milk offer new approaches to cooking healthy!

The more things change, the more we can still find ways to savor our time together, right?