Friday, July 25, 2008

Food for the week

I love summer when it’s easy to be a locavore. Last Saturday we came home from the market with this. I stare at it cuz it’s so beautiful and so good. We are blessed and bless the farmers who raised it. Thankyou. The first sweet corn showed up and we’ve been eating fresh tomatoes for awhile. Denis has no stop button and eats 2-3 a day.

About this time of year when it’s hot and humid I like something fresh, tangy, and cool. I admit cucumber yogurt soup with a hint of raisins is a little weird (they surprise your mouth with a tiny “closing note” of sweetness – sorry to talk like that, but how else to describe?), but you should try it cuz it’s a keeper. About 75% – though skeptical at first glance – end up loving this. 25% stir it slowly, steel themselves, look at me with pleading eyes -- would I be offended if they dumped it in the toilet? Yes. Let me eat yours.

Cold Yogurt Soup
1 boiled egg, chopped
½ cup raisins, soaked in water for 5 minutes, then drained
2-3 cups lofat plain yogurt
½ cup light cream (non-fat ingreds are ba-ad for this recipe)
1 cup cold water
6 ice cubes
1 cucumber, grated
¼ cup green onion, chopped
2 t. salt
pepper to taste
1 T. chopped parsley
1 T. dill weed, chopped.
Mix all ingredients except last two. Refrigerate 2 or so hours before serving. Garnish with parsley and dill. Optional to garnish with more chopped egg.
Serve with sliced ripe tomatoes drizzled with olive oil and chopped basil, a loaf of crusty bread, and a light wine.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dark Knight for The Joker

In the movie, The Dark Knight, The Joker declares, “You know who people are in their last moments,” and I wondered who actor Heath Ledger was in the last moments of his life. When I saw him as the Joker on the set of The Dark Knight I looked with concern and wonder, knowing he was no longer alive, knowing that most think he committed suicide after the movie was filmed, although that can’t be proved – he died of a drug overdose, a toxic cocktail of pain and sleep medication. I watched him, trying to perceive, is this just acting or is this partly witness to the pain and darkness of his true beliefs in the meaninglessness of life as he pursues The Batman across Gotham City detonating everything in his wake?

At the end of the Dark Knight I was left in want of a hero large enough to make life meaningful again, someone who could bring light to the set, who could heal the lives ruined by injustice, crime, ambition, violence. The Batman, the faltering, finite hero we love, disappears into the night still determined to try to fix the world, but everyone, including him, knows how impossible and grievous this calling will be.

The movie underscores how hopeless this task for human heroes – to heal the earth of all its injustices, to offer choice even to The Jokers of the world. We wait for consummation, like Simeon the priest waited for the Consolation of Israel. Dostoevsky describes it perfectly in The Brothers Karamazov:

I believe like a child that suffering will be healed and made up for, that all the humiliating absurdity of human contradictions will vanish like a pitiful mirage, like the despicable fabrication of the impotent and infinitely small Euclidean mind of man, that in the world’s finale, at the moment of eternal harmony, something so precious will come to pass that it will suffice for all hearts, for the comforting of all resentments, for the atonement of all the crimes of humanity, of all the blood that they’ve shed; that it will make it not only possible to forgive but to justify all that has happened.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Hazardous waste disposal: $5.00

The rest of the damage? Priceless. I hit a cement column backing out of the bank parking lot this morning. I shoulda walked back in and signed my life over. I was on my way home from Sherwin Williams who said no when I begged to return a gallon of “Mystic Grey.” Too dark. Had to go lighter. That was another money dump. And now I’d wrecked the car. I went home to tell Denis the news and look up auto body shops. After he sucked in his breath he was very kind and said I shouldn’t beat myself up. Dan, the kitchen painter, helpfully suggested maybe I could drive the “coach” while the car was in the shop, referring to the ad I placed to sell our old sofa, having accidentally listed it as an “antique coach” and I wonder why no one has called.Finally, there are fruit flies hanging around my toothbrush. Denis says I’m probably brushing with larva and tiny eggs. This makes me sick. If any one says this is the day the Lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it, it’s going to take me a minute.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Bones of Toad Hall

Every one of you said, “Keep the bricks.” When I thought back on some decisions in life – most of my regrets are of the – I should have taken the risk variety. I know you didn’t say, keep the lath and mortar, but I’m doing that, too. Fortunately, I had three days to stand in the midst of the mess like a refugee (all our stuff is piled in the dining room and I can’t find the French press, but I know where Caribou’s is) eyeing my wall, while Dan, our English teacher, summer-time painter, went to Missouri for the Fourth. He had already measured the drywall and left it leaning against the chimney. When he walked in on Monday morning, I said, “I’ve been thinking…,” and he started laughing and couldn’t stop. He was remembering this old series from the 80s – Murphy Brown, who had a painter as a regular character on the program. I guess Murphy messed up his life regularly. Apparently Dan was sort of picturing himself in that position. I retaliated with: Well, I was thinking of episodes of Fawlty Towers with O’Reilly, the drunken Irish painter. (Basil Fawlty, played by John Cleese, always hired him when his wife was gone and O’Reilly’s favorite solution to everything, with a wave of his hand, was, “No problem, a lick-a paint here, a lick-a paint there, and she’ll never know.” Of course, the wall always fell down.) Anyway, the vision I had was applying something so the ribs of lathe looked like they were emerging from the plaster, like the bones of the house were showing up. We could clean them up, seal them a little, round out the edge, and… Dan consulted with some contractor type guys standing around at Home Depot just waiting for some dumb idea like this. One guy thought it was nuts. “Drywall it!” Another guy who was a LOT younger thought it’d be cool to go for it. Dan came back with a kind of concrete, and applied it with the finesse of a real artist. I think it looks great. And look at the close-up to see what we found in the vent – a real, vintage California Prune Box! Just kidding. I had it and sacrificed it. It sort of looks like the thing a guy mighta, coulda done in 1923, as in: Oh ya, let’s just cover that hole with this, then. If when we’re done it looks like I hired TGIFriday’s to decorate, I will kill myself. Oh, wait, I’ll just start over. In all this, Denis is, “Whatever, you want, Sweetie, is fine with me.” Ah. The freedom.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Toad Hall showing its ribs

We’re getting the kitchen repainted in our 1916 Sears house. The flowered border and strip-y wallpaper are going far, far away. We need to keep the vintage formica countertops: they’re orangey-apricot with a little gray boomerang pattern. They’ve endured 27 years of Ajax scouring, dropped hammers, and visitors cutting bread, and it still looks pretty decent. The ancient metal cabinets have to stay, too. (why would previous owner opt for metal cabinets? Yuck.) Denis and I are going to prep and paint them the most painless way possible. (budget considerations).

We had to expose the wall behind the range (see pic) and found the chimney beside lathe and plaster wall. I was planning to have it dry-walled when a friend walked in and said, “o, that’s so beautiful, we have many friends who’ve renovated homes in Nashville and left it exposed” causing me to rethink. What if we shaped up the edges and left the house skeleton showing like that? I’m going with a single wall color “Mystical Shade,” (i.e. gray. who names these things anyway?) white trim, and “Teasing Peach” for the cabinets.

At first I thought, that’s ugly. But perhaps there’s a kind of beauty, the house showing what kind of heart it has? No one builds like this anymore. Would I be crazy to clean up the brick and slat and leave it as is on that one wall? Help! I have until Sunday night to decide.