The Parting Glass for Year’s End

The new year approaches quickly! A few months ago, a co-worker suggested instead of New Year’s Resolutions, we should begin a challenge in November. We started a walking goal to complete by Christmas. Many students and instructors offered encouragement as we walked laps around the parking lot or strolled the halls on our breaks. We were excited to reach our goal on the last day before vacation! After we return from break, a new challenge begins!

What are your goals for 2019? I’m focusing on activities that improve the mind, body, and spirit: Exercise challenges, meditation, reading (starting with Lewis’ Mere Christianity), singing at the Commission on Aging, and performing with Kilkenny Corkers.

Below is a New Year’s Gift for our fans-Slainte!

Happy New Year and thanks for reading!

Follow Kilkenny Corkers on Facebook for videos, concert dates, and other bits of “craic!”


How to Cope with Depression

Why are so many throwing it all away? I hope my story helps those out there who have walked the same road. I have suffered from depression from 1998: The combination of a traumatic delivery, my parent’s divorce, the national scandal, and my eccentricities created a perfect storm that needed to be dealt with. Over the years, I developed a collection of tools to help me cope. If you suffer from depression, I hope you find a few useful tips:

1. Get some exercise: It doesn’t have to be daily, and it doesn’t have to be sweaty or excessive. Go for a 20 minute walk, choose 3-6 sets and lift light weights for 10-15 minutes, whatever helps you move around a bit. Trust me, it makes a huge difference!

2. Find someone to talk with: Whether you rely on friends or a professional counselor, find someone to share those many moments of self-doubt and grief.

3. Eat healthy meals: Do you include a fruit or vegetable with every meal? If not, start now! Are you limiting foods that make you feel low? Are you including foods that bring you up?

4. Limit alcohol: Alcohol is a depressant and will just expand those feelings of hopelessness and grief. I know the first drink or two has the opposite effect, but trust me, limiting alcohol is a positive!

5. Embrace your passions: Do you have an activity that brings joy? Then do it! I love my music! Singing at our local Commission on Aging and performing with my local Irish girls’ band helps me forget the darker times and focus on more positive things.

6. Surround yourself with friends and loved ones: Spend the majority of your time with those who want what’s best for you. Of course, we should make time for our family. However, occasionally we have to spend time with family or family friends who are not kind; you do NOT have to devote excessive time to those who enjoy your discomfort. You have the right to head home early or pass on a get together.

7. Read The Untethered Soul: Do you have a frequent negative monologue? Read this book and learn how to cope with your “Watcher at the Gate.”

8. Have you thought about ending it all? First, take a deep breath. You have options and you are not alone. I strongly encourage you to reach out to someone and just talk, talk about what ever is on your mind, the last day’s adventures, your favorite meal. If you are not ready for that step, have you tried the steps listed above? You owe it to yourself to try. You are worth it!

Be kind to each other!

Saying Goodbye…

Here we are on the last day of April, and this month’s post remains incomplete. I planned to share pictures of our baby goat. However, I either recorded the dates incorrectly in my calendar, or that goat ain’t pregnant! I can always count on humorous chaos from the goats. It was appreciated this weekend.

Once or twice per year, I like to include an earlier, memorable post. After the loss of someone special over the weekend, I knew which post to share! Reflecting over the past few days, I encourage you to take time to connect with loved ones. Have time for a visit? Stop by! Too far to travel? Send a note or call! I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to spend a long weekend with Donna last summer, and while difficult this past weekend, I’m grateful that her son held the phone to her ear, so I could say a few last words. Has someone special been on your mind? Today is the perfect day to get in touch!

RIP, Donna

Seeing America: The Long Weekend Road Trip

Originally published, July 6, 2017

By Maggie Murphy

The summer remains a busy time around here with gardening, the farmers’ market, summer classes at the college, and the upcoming county fair. However, Chad and I recently found time to enjoy a long weekend in Tennessee. The primary reason for the trip was to visit an old friend, Donna. Growing up, the demands of my parents’ work kept them from home for months each year. Donna worked for my parents for over 25 years. She was there to greet me most mornings, often provided rides to Fowler’s farm where I boarded Goldy, was there for many overnights when Mom and Dad were fundraising for the college, and was always a phone call away for any of us kids.

Donna commanded respect. She was one of the few people who would tell Dad if she disapproved of his actions regarding the kids, and he would even seek her advice during our difficult teen years. Donna also never hesitated to put us kids or our friends in our place. When she used my first and middle name, I was in trouble!

We had time for several visits with her and dined at her son’s restaurant in Knoxville. We even arrived in time to watch the prep work for the smoker. Chad particularly enjoyed trading poultry smoking tips with Donna’s son, Randy. On a later visit, there was time for an impromptu concert for Donna and the other residents at the senior living center (Strumsticks are perfect for road trips!).

We stayed in a lovely one bedroom cabin, just a stone’s throw from Marble Springs, the home of Tennessee’s first Governor, John Sevier. We found time to hike the grounds and view the log cabins on the property. Our cabin also had a covered front porch with rocking chairs, perfect for sipping morning coffee, reading, and even playing music.

On our last day, we headed south to the Great Smoky Mountains and hiked Middle Prong trail and drove Rich Mountain seasonal road near Cade’s Cove. The long weekend went so quickly! I look forward to returning someday for more hiking, fishing, swimming, good eats, and perhaps even some white water rafting.

(The Sinks-A swimming hole near Townsend)

Thanks for reading!

(Traveling to Knoxville? Check out Mario’s Pizza and Grill-10943 Kingston Pike)

Move over Fondue: Introducing the Raclette Grill

We finally had the opportunity to try out a new foodie toy: The Raclette Grill. Historically, the Raclette referred to a block of hard cheese shepherds packed for long treks with their flocks. At the nightly camp fire, they would heat one side of the block and scrape softened cheese on their bread.

While this is one tasty aspect of the modern Raclette, many more food choices are available. This is similar to fondue, but rather than using pots of heated oil, people gather round a grill. Adding a light coating of oil and a dash of salt on the grill surface, diners enjoy a healthier option, avoiding the vast quantities of oil required for fondue. The Raclette also offers a broiler section with individual pans, so diners can utilize two cooking areas at the same time.

The broiler section is best for melting cheese, poured over potatoes or baguette slices. We also broiled pear slices with some dark chocolate and later topped with whipped cream.

Other items we enjoyed included steak, shrimp, oysters, mushrooms, zucchini, and summer squash. Items can be grilled individually or on skewers. There were even enough choices to keep our resident vegan busy!

Finally, Raclette Grills are affordable, ranging in price from $50-250 (Based on size and extra features, such as a marble cooking top). I highly recommend gathering around the table with friends or family and trying this wonderful tradition!

Thanks for reading!

A New Year’s Gift

Dear Readers,

As many of you know, this past fall was filled with challenge and loss. Losing a parent is a path we all must walk. On Mom’s final day, we moved to a private room where music played frequently. Sometimes my phone played Thais, Barber, or Chopin. Other times, I would pull out my strumstick and sing songs.

A few days before, my brother shared a memory, one of Mom’s favorite songs. In the early 60s, as Dad was in Colorado earning his PhD, the family frequently had to commute via car. Mom loved listening to music during the long trips. Henry Mancini’s soundtrack to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was a favorite, especially Moon River.

I spent an evening learning the song, so I could surprise Mom. I think she liked it. In the weeks that followed, the song haunted me. However, time can heal, the days are easier, and I enjoy the beautiful music again. So friends, as this year draws to a close, think of your loved ones, enjoy them, be patient, listen, and show them you care.

Here is my New Year’s Gift to you.

Peace, Friends.


Chihuahuas, Dry Roast Peanuts, and a Second Hand String of Pearls

Louie and Vada


I’m sitting on a plane after a visit to an old, dear friend, Vada Pitchford. She and her husband, Louis, were life long friends of my parents. Louis and Dad met in graduate school at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Later, Dad asked Louis to work at Hillsdale College where he became a well loved history professor before retiring in 1982 and moving to Billings, Montana.

However, there is so much more to this special couple. Vada was a school teacher for 14 years. She was teaching a few miles away from Texas City during the 1947 explosion, our nation’s worst industrial accident. She recounted the fear and confusion while evacuating students and the challenges of the days that followed.

Louis served as a Naval Officer in WWII on the USS Washington, participating in several missions, including the Solomon Islands. He continued to serve after the war as a member of the Naval Reserves for 22 years. When he shared his plans to join the reserves, Vada asked why. He simply said, “Someone’s got to do it.”

When I think of this amazing couple, I remember dry roasted peanuts (Louis’ favorite snack), Vada’s famous jalapeno grits, their pet Chihuahua, Cha-Cha, Sunday dinners, Vada’s string of pearls, and most important, Vada’s smile and Louis’ kindness.

During my visit, I was so happy to be given Louis’ silk flag from WWII. If you look closely at the picture below, you will notice there are only 48 stars. This special gift will have a place of honor in our home.



Fish, Friends, and Fire: The Great Lakes Fishboil

This past weekend, we participated in a Labor Day tradition, a Great Lakes Fish Boil. This gathering is the ideal time to enjoy the bounty of our beautiful lakes and last weekend of summer. Since this may be a new experience for some readers, I thought I would explain our unique tradition.

We began by gathering supplies (enough for 12-16 people):

  • 16 potatoes (scrubbed and ends cut off)
  • 8 onions (peeled)
  • 8 lbs. of fish, skin on (whitefish and lake trout are favorites)
  • 1/2 lb. non-iodized salt, divided
  • 8 lemon wedges
  • Fresh herbs
  • 3/4 c. melted butter
  • Tartar sauce

This dish is prepared over the fire, so we also use the following:

  • Large pot with wire handles
  • Smaller pot that fits inside with holes drilled throughout the lower half (We also added a wire handle for easier removal)
  • A stand to set the large pot over the fire (We use an old turkey fryer stand).
  • A metal bar to put through the wire handles on the large pot (for easier removal after final boil over)
  • One small cup of gasoline or kerosene for final boil over
  • Heavy duty hot pads
  • Shovel, hose, etc. for basic fire safety

NOTE: Because this dish is prepared over an open fire, all appropriate safety measures should be taken, including the use of heavy duty hot pads, the appropriate location for a large fire with a shovel and/or water, spectators should not sit or stand too close to fire as final burn off creates a large amount of heat, and children should NOT be involved with any of the cooking process.

First, we started a large bonfire and waited an hour or two for the appropriate cooking coals. Next, a large covered pot filled with two gallons of water is added to the fire. Once the water was boiling, we added 1/4 lb. salt.

fish boil 1

Then the potatoes are added, cooking uncovered for 16 minutes. Later, we added onions, which cooked 4 minutes. After the onions were cooked, we added the last 1/4 lb. of salt.

fish boil 2

Placing the fish in the smaller pot, we added the basket right on top of the potatoes and onions, cooking uncovered for 10 minutes.

fish boil 3

Now, our favorite part, the final boil over! We carefully tossed a cup of kerosene on the fire, creating enough heat for the pot to boil over and reduce the fire’s intensity.

Then we removed the pot from the fire and placed our bounty on platters, the perfect end to summer! We usually serve with cole slaw and rolls. Thanks for reading!