It has been a bad month or so at school. Late fall and early winter, the extended holiday season, is often difficult for many students. There are more fights and arguments, more bad behavior as tensions at home escalate with the season. That’s normal. There has also been a great deal of tension and angst, exhaustion and frustration amongst the staff this year. We are trying to articulate the problems and work for change, but it is difficult. And then, there have been three suicides within ten miles of CHS – two graduates and one student in a neighboring town. And, although it is not as bad a current student death—that is a bomb dropped in the middle of the community that sends shock waves out for months—there are ripples and undercurrents, small explosions and deep sighs from the ones that come too close for comfort as well. It is a dark time, even without looking beyond my own doorframe.
In an attempt to find some of The Light, I went to the staff party this year. Despite the rough day, people were glad to come together and eat and laugh, although serious conversations swirled around us. I had to leave early to finish making Lucia Day buns. “Lucia Day?” one woman asked, puzzled. “The holiday where the young girl wears candles in her hair and brings food to her family and farm animals,” I reminded her and she nodded. Feed my family, I thought, that is what I am doing. The people who gather with Mark and I every Lucia Day are not our blood relatives—as an only child, I have very few and Mark’s are all in Tennessee—but they are family. Who else would climb out of bed before dawn in the middle of December, put on layers of clothes, and head over to the Bald Hill Barn to drink cocoa, eat Lucia buns, and climb to the top of Bald Hill, every year?
Bean and Tortilla Casserole bulked up from Still Life with Menu
This is a substantive layered creation with lots of room for adaption. I'm going to put some squash in tonight.
Tear a dozen corn tortillas and lay half of them in a large casserole pan.
Saute onions, green chilies, garlic, corn, carrots, perhaps some zucchini if you have it, until cooked. Season with cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. Pour over the tortillas. Add two to three cups of cooked pinto beans.
Cover with the rest of the tortillas and one and a half or so cups of grated jack cheese.
Make a custard of four eggs and three cups of buttermilk, beaten together. Pour this over all and give the pan a shake or two to settle everything in. Add a little more buttermilk if needed.
Bake in a 350 degree oven until set. Eat with homemade salsa. Heat up leftovers for the rest of the week.