Kissing the Earth (And No Bake Stuffed Summer Squash)

by Maria Theresa Maggi on July 21, 2015

No Bake Stuffed Squash

It was late March, the very beginning of Spring, and I had just planted some red russian kale seeds in the one patch of dirt getting direct sunlight at this early angle in front of the studio in the backyard of the house on Van Buren Street. It was unseasonably warm. I had just finished The Brother’s Karamazov for the second time in my life. Why did I read an 800 page novel again? I could say it was because the librarians told me this new translation was excellent. But the real reason was this: there was a line in it I wanted to find, that those of you who have read all my blog posts may remember me quoting a couple of summers ago: “It’s funny, isn’t it, Karamazov. . .all this grief, and pancakes afterwards.”

Since I hadn’t read this classic masterpiece since college, I could no longer remember where it was or why this line was spoken. And I just had to know.

Although I loved it the first time I read it, the second time I loved it more. Or maybe I understood it more, from the accumulation of years and living and reading I could now bring to it. Each afternoon for a couple of months it was my “after naptime” reading. As I approached the very end of those 800 pages, I still hadn’t found the line I was looking for. I thought I had missed it once again or worse yet it wasn’t there at all in this translation. And then, just 2 or 3 pages from the very end, there it was. I laughed out loud.

Another more reverent notion I took to my literal heart this second time around was how Alexei’s teacher the Elder Zosima told how he would bend down and kiss the earth. On that infant Spring day I planted the kale seeds in the one little sunny and warm patch of open dirt, I was all alone in my little nest of a yard. So I did what Zosima did: I knelt down on the ground and kissed the earth fresh with shoots of new, green grass. And I tried to remember to do it again whenever I could.

The experience of selling the house on Van Buren Street turned out to be a lot like trying to find that line in The Brothers K, although I didn’t see that until the very end. The last time I wrote a blog post I believed all that was left to selling my house was to sign the closing papers, and I was celebrating the acceptance of my offer on the little place that will be my new home in Portland.

Then the bottom fell out. It’s not possible to share the details of real estate contracts here, but no one, not even the loan officer at my buyer’s bank, or her real estate agent, saw this one coming. All of a sudden, the whole thing was upended, with no timeline for a resolution in sight. Then when a timeline was offered, it was most certainly one that would lose me my little condo. Either way it seemed I was sunk. Except. . .

A woman had contacted me out of the blue a week or so previously, describing herself as a design consultant who was looking for what she called a “town cabin.” Might my house still be available? I had written to her kindly to tell her it seemed as if we were on the runway to close. But there was something about the way she signed her first note to me “appreciatively” that made me feel comfortable with her. I was sorry I wouldn’t get to know her more. So when the bottom seemed to be falling out of the necessary chain of transactions, I simply wrote her back and said there was now an element of uncertainty. She wrote me back immediately that she would be in town when I would and could she see the place in person then. And that she would be willing to be a back-up, at least, that she was trusting the universe on this one. A woman after my own heart.

Meanwhile I was waiting to find out what kind of timeline my original buyer’s bank could deliver. When I learned that it was not something the seller in Portland would likely be willing to work with when she had five other offers she could move on to, I hit rock bottom and cried. I wanted out of this no-win situation, but felt terrible it would mean starting over and staying with my generous kids who have rearranged their lives for me the past couple of months for yet amother unknown amount of time. When I told everyone that there seemed to be another prospective buyer interested, both my family and my agent said, “well, if she’s a cash buyer. . .”

The morning before I got the terrible no guarantee timeline e-mail I had written to the design consultant and asked if she could tell me what her financial readiness to buy the house was, not daring to dream it would be any different than most people’s.

After my cry my kids cajoled me into going to Lowe’s to look at toilets with them for their bathroom redo. That made us all laugh, and I sucked up my sniffles and decided to check my e-mail one more time before we left. And there was an e-mail from the design consultant, explaining to me who she was and how she was prepared to make me a cash offer. I have never had such a swift and unexpected answer to a prayer.

We traveled back to Moscow the next day  to pack up as if somehow this was all going to go forward, but not yet knowing how. The day after we arrived she came to view the house. She stayed an hour and a half. We trusted each other instantly, and by that evening, she had made me an offer. In 5 days. she moved heaven and earth to make her funds available so I could close on time in Moscow, so I can close on time in Portland.

It wasn’t easy to tell my buyer’s agent I chose to exercise my option to cancel the original contract since it could not be fulfilled on time, because I knew it would also throw my original buyer’s life into upheaval. But there wasn’t any way I could extend that contract with the timeline and terms involved and hope to keep the condo. I still keep her situation in my prayers and hope it will all resolve for the best for her in the larger picture, despite this difficult setback. But the way it all played out made me feel like I was both finding the line “It’s funny, isn’t it, Karamazov. . .all this grief, and pancakes afterwards.”and living it too. Instead of a deadline, thanks to my new buyer, finishing on time became a lifeline amidst the formidable challenges.

It turns out the woman who bought my house in 5 days and I have lived our lives thus far intertwined in amazing ways we were unaware of until now. One public interconnection is that we both won Orchid Awards for downtown preservation projects in Moscow last summer and were both at the ceremony, but didn’t know each other or meet. And there are many many more private interconnections and understanding that filled us with awe and reverence for what we were brought together to do for each other.

And just like I certainly didn’t expect any of these miraculous rearrangements to happen, I also didn’t expect I’d have a recipe to share with you in this post. To call it a recipe might be a stretch, because I honestly can’t give you exact amounts for everything. So we’ll call it a strategy, and a delicious one, for stuffing large summer squash or zucchini when it’s too hot to bake. This strategy is inspired by my daughter-in-law Kelly’s bountiful garden. She’ll be harvesting a lot of zucchini this summer, and I’ll be hoping to share with you some of the fun ways we prepare it, or remind you of the other fun ways I’ve shared with you in summers past.

Here’s to the lifelines that connect us, even if we don’t know they are there. And the mysterious bounty that shows itself amidst the most challenging of situations, like seeing the fruit hidden in the tangle of the vine.



Last March when I planted the kale seeds and kissed the Earth in Moscow, I never dreamed I’d be writing this post from Portland. Today I signed the closing papers here. Once the transaction is all finished and I’m moved in, I’ll be writing my next post from yet another new home. And that’s worth kneeling to kiss the earth in Portland, too. Usually my life is inscribed by what I call slow motion miracles. But this past week has reminded me that sometimes miracles in my life happen at the speed of light.

Maria (moonwatcher)





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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Pam July 22, 2015 at 9:29 am

Maria, what an amazing story of selling your house! I have happy tears in my eyes reading about your connections with the woman who bought it. Sending you good wishes as you work on getting settled in to your new place in Portland. <3


2 Maria Theresa Maggi July 22, 2015 at 10:59 am

Thanks so much Pam! It really felt like a miracle the way we came together and made this happen. I appreciate all the good “settling” thoughts, too. xo


3 Stephanie July 22, 2015 at 10:09 am

Truly a lovely post!! Thank you!


4 Maria Theresa Maggi July 22, 2015 at 11:01 am

You’re welcome, Stephanie! So glad you liked it. 🙂


5 Airyfairycelt July 22, 2015 at 12:50 pm

Well now, synchronicity……
A wonderful meeting of mindS and bodies too. Your hearts obviously arrived before both of you did in person!
Oh you made me laugh with the re-reading and the understanding that comes with experience over the years and the mubpndanity of shopping for loos!!!!!!’
I hope you found a suitable pancake to celebrate these oddities and fulfilling that, and,oh my memory, six thing, proved it to a nicety. You always give me food for thought and food too!
Off for sleep, following several incidents here over the last few weeks. Looking forward to hearing you are comfortably settled. Oh you sound swell loved,how very nice


6 Maria Theresa Maggi July 23, 2015 at 8:32 am

Thanks so much AiryFairycelt!! I am very much hoping for a suitable pancake to celebrate with once I am all settled. My son makes a gluten-free sugar free blueberry one sweetened with dates. 🙂 And yes, I am fortunate to be so well loved. Hope things calm down for you as well. Here’s to food for thought and food too! I like how you put that. 🙂


7 Deborah July 22, 2015 at 3:01 pm

faith rewarded
love it
Maria, I think it was Byron Katie who popped up in my Facebook news feed yesterday with something like: “Gratitude. Not gratitude for…simply gratitude.” and I thought of you.


8 Maria Theresa Maggi July 23, 2015 at 8:33 am

Amen to that quote from Byron Katie, Deborah. Thank you, and thank you for these kind kind words. xo


9 Pat July 22, 2015 at 5:36 pm

What kind of squash is that? I don’t think I’m familiar with a summer squash shaped like those you pictured. They almost, but not quite, resemble acorn squash and I know those can’t be lightly steamed. Seems the only summer squash I know of are zucchini, green or yellow. Have they developed an oval zucchini now? Thanks!


10 Maria Theresa Maggi July 23, 2015 at 8:35 am

Hi Pat! Good question! It came from a “variety pack” of summer squash seeds my daughter-in-law planted last Spring. From it sprouted yellow zucchini, green patty pans, and this round striped wonder. Kind of like a light green striped zucchini, only round. And definitely the texture of summer squash inside. Sweet tasting, sort of like a patty pan. If I find out the exact name, I’ll add it here.


11 Ivy July 23, 2015 at 6:14 am

Hi, Maria. Susan Voisin sent me here 🙂 What a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing.

Is there anyway to make the wasabi spread less spicy? I imagine it’s ear-warming hot. Could I use a tiny bit of powder?


12 Maria Theresa Maggi July 23, 2015 at 8:30 am

Welcome to my blog, Ivy, and thanks for your kind words. 🙂 Of course you can use just a tiny bit of wasabi. I do that, or if you are like me, and seldom use wasabi powder, the one you’ve had open will lose lots of its kick. In that case you can use more. Always try these kinds of spices to taste. Some of us like it REAL hot, and some of us don’t. 🙂


13 Ivy July 23, 2015 at 8:33 am

Thanks, Maria! 🙂


14 Veronica July 23, 2015 at 11:56 am

Sometimes things like this make me believe that miracles just might exist and happen. 🙂 I’m so glad that things worked out for you; I can imagine the stress and helplessness you were feeling. And then the weight being lifted!
I hope you had some pancakes?


15 Maria Theresa Maggi July 25, 2015 at 9:18 am

Thanks Veronica–if I wasn’t already a believer in miracles, this certainly would have converted me! I know you get the whole west coast real estate scene, and appreciate the roller coaster from experience. I DO hope to have a BIG blueberry pancake one of these days very soon. . .:)


16 Lee at Veggie Quest July 26, 2015 at 8:58 am

Maria, how wonderful that everything worked out–and that you’ll have someone you really connected with living in your old house in Moscow! Somehow, I think that makes moving easier. So as dramatic as it was, it all seems to have worked out beautifully. Congrats on selling your home! (And for sharing a recipe in the meantime–especially one that requires minimal heating–it’s about 150 degrees here in Maryland!) Hope all goes well as you settle into your new digs! 🙂


17 Gena July 29, 2015 at 5:47 am

Dearest friend,

I am so sorry that you were confronted with unexpected circumstances with the sale of your house; it’s incredible how things can seem so solid one day, and so uncertain the next. That said, this is an incredible story, and it sounds as though there are some really powerful resonances between you and the new owner of your home. It must feel nice to put your house into the hands of someone whom you feel spiritually connected to.

I also love the reference to Karamazov here! It’s one of my all-time favorite novels, and I’m well overdue for a third read. Dostoyevsky is known for his drama and intensity and dialog, but it’s easy to forget that he’s also wonderfully funny.

As for the recipe, I can only say that a) it looks fabulous and b) wasabi chickpeas! I’d never thought to flavor a legume dish with wasabi, so thank you for the inspiration to think outside the box. I love stuffed summer vegetables, and I’m sure I’ll give this a try soon, baked or un-baked.

Finally, thanks for the theme of kissing the earth. I’ve been confronting some difficult scenarios this summer, and your words are strengthening, a reminder to surrender and have faith.



18 Maria Theresa Maggi July 29, 2015 at 9:08 am

Dear Gena, thank you so much for this beautiful comment and all its sentiments. Yes, despite the gauntlet it was, I do feel a peace that I have handed my house over to someone who is actually a part of the chain of people who have made it what it is, and who is fluent in the same spiritual language and practice as I am. It truly is a miracle to me. And oh my GOSH, I loved hearing that The Brothers K is one of your favorite novels!! I have to say it is one of mine, too, and I so agree with you about how Dostoyevsky can be wonderfully funny–indeed–I laughed out loud a LOT this second time through the 800 pages. 🙂 I’m so glad you like the inspiration of wasabi in the chickpea spread too. Desperate times make for creative food, at least in my experience. 🙂 But most of all, here’s to kissing the earth. May we all remember to do it. She is our mother, holding us in love, grace, and bounty, through every moment of every day. xoxo


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