Echoes From Ecclesiastes

Echoes From Ecclesiastes

by Stuart James Beall

The daughter of music sang to me when grinding sounded low.
Doors were shut in all the streets. At the voice of the bird, I arose.

My pitcher wasn’t broken then. The cistern held no fear.
Although I was a young man, the windows were not clear.

There is no pleasure in these years. The evil days have come.
Fear watches in the way, beneath the dimness of the sun.

The grasshopper is clinging to a loose silver thread.
Now the keeper of the house desires a long home for his bed.


Remarkably You

Remarkably You

by Stuart James Beall
This poem was published by and The International Library of Poetry in the year 2000 collection “The Harmony Of Silence”. It also won an Editor’s Choice Award.

Sometimes making changes requires a female grace
and seeing things more clearly begins with her embrace.

Until I met you woman, my flowers had no bloom,
my music had no melody, my humming had no tune.

The rain was only teardrops, and as I traveled on,
the road was leading nowhere, toward the glowing horizon.

Now the wind is whispering the love you hold for me.
I hear your laughter splashing on the surface of the sea.

Fields imitate your beauty, no matter where I roam.
Hills reflect your countenance. The sunset calls me home.


Chicken Cabbage Salad

I first learned about this recipe from Tonnette, before she became my wife. Her recipe included “Accent” which is a brand of MSG; poison to me. So I figured out a better way to season it, and this version elicited praise from my hard-to-please roomate.

First Group Ingredients:

* chicken breasts – 2 large. Partially frozen.

* lemon pepper seasoning – 3 teaspoons. No silicon dioxide, no sand.

* sea salt – 1/2 teaspoon. No silico aluminate.

* soy sauce – 4 Tablespoons.

* vegetable oil – 3 Tablespoons.

Many frozen chicken parts have water added. Allow your chicken meat to partially thaw in the refrigerator, in a covered dish. Dump off the liquid, then cut into small chunks. It will be easier to cut if it’s partially frozen.

Stir in the lemon pepper, sea salt, and soy sauce. If your lemon pepper already has salt included, you might hold off on the sea salt. Cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Cook the chicken in a skillet over medium high heat, with the vegetable oil. I use olive oil, but you can use any good cooking oil. Do NOT drain off the soy sauce. Stir with a wooden spoon to break apart the chunks. Make sure it is well done, and any liquid has boiled off. Allow to cool.

Second Group Ingredients:

* dry ramen noodles – 2 packages.

* raw sesame seeds – 3 Tablespoons.

* blanched slivered almonds – 1/2 Cup.

* vegetable oil – 3 Tablespoons.

Gently crush the ramen noodles in the package, using the heel of your hand, or a wooden rolling pin. Don’t reduce it to powder, but crumble it so it’s small enough to chew. Then open the packet and pour the noodles into a non-stick skillet. Discard the seasoning packets; toss them into the garbage.

Add the vegetable oil, sesame seeds, and the almonds to the skillet, and place over medium heat. Stir, stir, stir, gently. Keep this stuff moving, so it doesn’t scorch. It should only be lightly toasted, or browned, and this should happen slowly, as you stir. If it gets brown suddenly, get your skillet off the stove now. Allow to cool.

Third Group Ingredients:

* green  cabbage – 1 large head.

* green onions – 8; about 1 bunch.

Cut the core out of the cabbage and discard. Cut the remainder into bite-sized chunks, and put into a large salad bowl. Wash and chop the green onions, including about two inches of the stalks with the bulbs. Pay attention to the bulbs, that they get chopped finely. Add to cabbage.

Now add all prior ingredients to the bowl of cabbage. Don’t need to stir it yet.

Fourth Group Ingredients:

* rice vinegar – 1/4 Cup.

* grapeseed oil – 1/4 Cup.

* natural cane sugar – 1/8 Cup.

* sea salt – 1/2 teaspoon.

You can substitute olive oil, or sunflower seed oil, for the grapeseed oil. You can substitute white wine vinegar for the rice vinegar. Stir the vinegar, oil, salt, and sugar together in a cup, then pour over the salad.

Stir up the salad well, and refrigerate for about 1 hour.

Cucumber Tickles


Cucumber harvest is upon us here in Boise. Lots of people prepare home made pickles of one sort or another, and they always taste better when they come from your own garden.

My wife’s family has made this a sort of family tradition – one of the more memorable foods I “married into”. Problem for me was that when I inquired for the recipe, there wasn’t one. Or let’s just say, my wife makes up her own recipe, as she goes. No need to get complicated.

I’ve seen Hispanic street vendors do some interesting things with cucumbers. Once in Chicago, I ordered a bag of fresh cucumbers with lemon juice, salt, and cayenne. It was quite good. Tonight I started asking my wife about the ingredients she uses. I figured, if I could at least get a list of ingredients, I could slowly figure out the measurements.

Since this is not an exact science I will probably make some adjustments in the weeks ahead. And I welcome comments on your own experiences.

Cucumbers –> 2 or 3 medium sized

Sliced onions –> 1/2 Cup

Apple cider vinegar –> 1 Cup

Water –> 1/2 Cup

Cane sugar –> 2 teaspoons

Sea salt –> 1 teaspoon

Ground peppercorns –> 1/4 teaspoon

Crushed red pepper –> 1/2 teaspoon

• The objective here is NOT to produce a fully pickled product. Just add a tickle of flavor to ordinary cucumbers.

• So  lets start by choosing some nice cucumbers. Peel them, and cut them into slices about 1/8 inch thick. Or, thick enough to bite into, but thin enough to chew easily.

• Slice up a small onion. If you like rings, you can keep it in rings. If you like it chopped up small, then chop it up in small chunks. Doesn’t matter. If you like green onions, or pearl onions, chop up a bunch of them instead.

• Put the onion & cucumber into a large bowl. We use a deep Rubbermaid container, so we can cover it and refrigerate it. Pour in the vinegar and water, then stir in the sugar, salt and pepper.

• Let it marinate for a few hours in the refrigerator before serving.

Reflection on Rejection

Reflection On Rejection

by Stuart James Beall

Having offered my intentions, and made my feelings an affront,
feelings left me wondering … ¿What could cause this hurt?

Only care in back of it could move a body here,
where, staring at an empty room, inhaling stuffy air,
realization can slap you.
Realization can slap you.

As the Christmas gathering ended, young acquaintances lived on.
There wasn’t a name for the feeling I had.
It was here where I saw that innocent plant.

Its leaves were wide and shiny, obscured by evergreen branches,
and begging to be seen.

Beautiful, colorful lights, reflected back toward me,
inviting someone’s reach.

My hand reached down and pulled it from the place it waited.
It bore the name of somebody else. It would not accompany me.

Others left with gifts galore, but nothing left with me.
Nothing, that is, except for the memory of smooth, green, prickly leaves.

Imaginary refreshment awakened me;
as if with shiny, red, and poisonous berries.


Eyeglasses – Living With It

At the tender age of 11, my eyes were checked by an ophthalmologist, and found deficient. He had exactly three different eyeglass frames to offer, nylon frames. I picked the frame I’m wearing in this photo; my first pair of eyeglasses.

At my school – a convoluted social club where personal appearance was far more important than functionality – I became a ‘nerd’. It was not cool to be a nerd, in those days. I detested the eyeglasses, but had to learn to wear them, protect them, clean them. Every day. There was no respite.

When my school teachers told (not invited) all the boys to play soccer, the soccer ball was kicked into my face, which broke my eyeglass frame. My father taped the break together, and for many weeks I sported eyeglasses with tape on the frame.

While still a teenager, I purchased the book, Better Eyesight Without Glasses, by William H. Bates, with the hope that it would help my eyes. I did various eye exercises over several weeks, with no improvement in my eyesight.

A certain girl I once knew, a love interest, suggested that I could improve my looks with contact lenses. I decided to try it, and wore contact lenses while shopping, at church, at movies, dances. But I could not completely get away from eyeglasses. It seems that most of the jobs I had required the use of safety glasses. Contact lenses could not protect my eyes from flying glass, wires, or other projectiles.

There was a time when I paid a large sum of money to participate in a program called “Precise Corneal Molding”. The idea was to wear hard contact lenses, day and night, to gently reshape my corneas. No surgery involved. I wore the special lenses as prescribed, and my vision did improve. After about 16 hours, I’d take the contact lenses out for a rest, and my vision was near perfect for a few hours.  There were caveats with this treatment. My corneas would always tend to revert to their habitual myopic curvature; the hard lenses abraded and desensitized my eyelids; my eyes would itch so badly during pollen season, that I had to remove the lenses; keeping the lenses clean and disinfected was more difficult than I could have imagined; when I lost or broke a lens, they were expensive to replace.

I was in a hurry to go somewhere one morning, when I had not been wearing the lenses. My vision was poor, so I put the lenses in, only to find that one eye was stinging; the contact lens was not properly disinfected. With impaired vision, I ran a red traffic light, and destroyed my truck. After that experience, I was finished with Precise Corneal Molding.

For a short time while I lived in Memphis, I knew an eye surgeon, who was in training to perform RK surgery. He suggested that I try the surgery, but I didn’t feel right about it.

In 2002, I purchased the See Clearly Method, which offered me some hope for vision improvement, but it was a disappointment – just as the Bates Method had been.

Times have changed, since I was a boy. It has become fashionable to wear eyeglasses. There are girls with perfect eyes, who choose to wear eyeglasses as a type of jewelry. I have learned to live with eyeglasses, where necessary. But the stigma (and the astigmatism) still annoys me, in some ways.

Two of my sisters have had LASIK surgery to correct their vision, and both are pleased with the results. I’m suffering from an acute case of pessimism.

Sometimes, at my leisure, I will wear contact lenses, and wish the sense of freedom from eyeglasses could last forever.

081_eyeglasses 1973