Monday, April 19, 2010

Naomi Barlow Larson, 1923-2010, R.I.P.

"I have an idea that some [wo]men are born out of their due place. Accident has cast them amid strangers in their birthplace, and the leafy lanes they have known from childhood or the populous streets in which they have played, remain but a place of passage. . . .Sometimes a woman hits upon a place to which she mysteriously feels that she belongs. Here is the home she sought, and she will settle amid scenes that she has never seen before, among men and women she has never known, as though they were familiar to her from her birth. Here at last she finds rest." W. Somerset Maugham
Moon and Sixpence

In the early spring of 1996, I began to make much-needed changes in my life and to fulfill a long-held dream. Now, fourteen years later, I am constantly grateful to be living that dream in the home that I found on Beara and to all those who through their moral, spiritual, and financial support helped make that possible.

My mother, Naomi Barlow Larson, has been my most valiant supporter. On Wednesday, 14 April, she successfully finished "winding up her own ball of yarn," and as we say in Eyeries, I am lonely after her. Not only did she have faith in me, she put her resources behind that faith. At a time when it was assumed by many that I would be returning to my childhood home, she encouraged and supported me to follow my heart, to find the home I sought.

Because her touches are everywhere, she is very much a part of the "dailiness" of life at Anam Cara. Her presence is probably most felt in the kitchen -- in the meals prepared from recipes remembered from my childhood and in the conversations around the table. (The photo is of pecan pies made from her recipe* as gifts for Anam Cara neighbours at Christmas time.)

I chose to name the retreat Anam Cara (Irish for soul friend) in the hope that it would house many, including myself, who would become such to themselves and each other and because my first anam cara, my mother, helped to make my dream a reality. For all she was and did, I will be eternally grateful.

*Pecan Pie from Naomi Barlow Larson
3 eggs
½ t. vanilla (Mom uses Mexican vanilla.)
2/3 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup butter, melted
1 cup dark corn syrup (or ¾ cup light corn syrup plus ¼ cup molasses)
1 cup pecan halves

Beat together with rotary beater, slightly. Pour into pastry-lined pie pan. Bake at 350˚ F. for 15 min. and then at 325˚ for 30 more min.

Never-fail Pie Crust Pastry from Lois Barlow Hill
2 ½ cups flour
1 cup shortening
1 egg, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and enough water to make ½ cup of liquid
1 teaspoon salt

Blend flour and shortening until it forms smallish crumbs. Add liquid and mix together to form pastry dough. Roll out on floured surface to make sheet to line pie pan.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fish Publishing Announces Second Place Winner

For her story "The Birthday Book," Eve Vamvas from Brighton, England, was recently named the Second Place winner in Fish Publishing prestigious Short Short Contest. She will claim her prize, a week at Anam Cara, following the launch of this year's Fish Short Story anthology, at which she will join the other winners in reading their stories. The launch is scheduled for Wednesday, 7 July in Bantry, Co. Cork and is the centrepiece of the annual West Cork Literary Festival. For the complete list of winners, see