Sunday, November 20, 2016

What Makes America Great



I with my Turkish nose stuck on a half-Polish, half-Serbian face spend hours at the Global Foods supermarket fascinated, listening to a dozen different languages and feeling privileged to have access to all the great foods of the world—through all the people who’ve come to this country bringing their food specialties along.

Counterclockwise, starting from the eggplants: Indian eggplants (grown in Honduras); Matcha green tea (Japan); Longlife Tofu (locally manufactured in Granite City, Illinois); Wasa wholegrain rye crackers (Denmark); stuffed grape leaves (Greece), dried plums (USA), blueberries (product of Argentina); fire-roasted whole peppers (no origin given); avocado (Mexico); vacuum-sealed tofu (California); fresh bell peppers (Mexico); sour cherry jam (Poland); fresh ginger (USA), black tea (China) in the “Prince of Wales” blend (Britain), organic “chicken of the woods” mushroom, also called maitake (USA), bean-thread noodles (China); bananas (Honduras). Already in the fridge: feta cheese (Bulgaria). Back row: pears and tangerines, USA. Hand-painted demitasse cup (Portugal) for espresso (Rwanda). Lemon, and a butternut squash, USA. The owners of the Global Market are Thai.

Happy Thanksgiving, when native people shared their food with recent immigrants and their kids because they were just plain decent.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The View and the Light

October used to be the month to winterize the single-pane windows with sheeting or insulation, but this November has been so deliciously mild that I dawdled. October ended; still not cold enough to insulate. One by one the flannels came out of storage: pajamas, sheets, robes. Then the wool socks and the fleece vest. But still we haven't had a hard freeze and that's when I block the windows, the view, and the light, so as to keep the indoors a bit warmer. During real winter the cabin's logs are cold as a witch's boot all the way through and the walls radiate cold that gnaws the bones.

So I don't usually get a view in November from the bedroom window: a quilt of trees, foliage and red berries. I love watching the moon sail by at night. I chose blue sheets so I can pretend I'm floating in the sky. The pillows are pink because it was either that or white. I've used satin pillowcases for decades. Unlike cotton, satin pillowcases don't pull on your face and hair and leave it all matted and striped in the morning. This was taken before I made the bed. I must make the bed every day. If I don't I feel as if chaos might engulf me.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Red State

That Missouri is a red state there is no doubt. But in case you need a reminder in your fridge, for $6.99 at a shop in Hermann, MO you can get a red Missouri-shaped cheese (there is no blue version).

Things I did and am still doing to keep 2016 from driving me nuts:
  • discontinue satellite TV service. Bought a Roku for my one small TV and I watch selected YouTubes with it and nothing else.
  • deleted my 7-year Facebook account.
  • ended my newspaper subscription because it kept publishing, instead of news, "stories" about what might happen, or threatens to happen, or "reactions" to events, none of which are news.
  • subscribed to enjoyable magazines instead.
  • minded my own business.
  • worked very hard.
  • worked on changing my habits of thought.
  • quit trying to control the future.
  • visited a foreign country; very educational.
  • deep breathing exercises.
  • yoga.
  • Pilates.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Cleaning the Garage

To hear my neighbor Terri tell it, her garage was piled to its rafters with furniture and craft supplies and papers all wet because of leakage, and all of it mouse-fouled, and when the job of cleaning got started, about halfway in, in the hutch under a desk an opossum had built himself/herself a little nest. Excellent choice of residence: well-protected, with an endless food supply. Terri had during the summer photographed a nice fat adult copperhead coiled in her garage; that's food for an opossum--they eat snakes and are immune to most venoms. And mice we have always with us.

When exposed, the possum played dead and allowed itself to be picked up by the tail and gently dropped onto the other side of the fence.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

No One Has Ever Been Happier

November 1 was a gorgeous 80-degree day, spent working, tooling around in the car on errands all midday and eating two mozzarella sticks and a tangerine for lunch, then getting minor foot surgery I have needed for seven years (no, it does not hurt) and unflinchingly paying cash I had saved for that: so satisfying. Then at 4:00 p.m. at home serving myself my real lunch out on the Divine Porch, watching beautiful birds occupying the golden atmosphere, and after that, dessert. I had bought Golden Delicious apples because a recipe specified them. Compared with the cloying sweetness of Red Delicious apples, these are wonderfully tasty.

Apple slices with my day's cup of coffee, espresso, in the tiny hand-painted cup I brought home from Portugal after touring a ceramics factory in Coimbra and watching eight artists wielding pinpoint-tipped brushes to build amazing, entirely original designs on cups, plates, pitchers, and so on.

Sitting in the rocker, taking in the sunlight and scenery, breathing the delicious scent of coffee in this unique and pretty souvenir of a wonderful country, I thought that no one has ever been as happy as I was at that moment.

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Neat Trick

Happy Halloween, when people dress in costume except when, like me, they are too much of a character already. This very fine Walking Stick I met on the door frame had its legs stockinged green to match the paint. How that happens I don't know, but it's marvelous and someday we humans will be able to do that.

Days have been wonderfully, exceptionally warm for October, and I deeply appreciate the warm weather extending until now, and perhaps until December. I've barbecued on December 6, and last December 21, the solstice, maxed out at 66 degrees (above zero), warm enough to sit by the Yule Log until long past sunset.

After we are into November, the solstice is only seven weeks away.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Happy Hunting Grounds

Carmel moved from the city to the country for two years and then back to the city again, where there's work, and she now visits my place for her shot of woods and countryside and, by the way, my expertise with pot roast, this time with Italian red wine sauce and served with polenta. Tres sophisticato!, or something like that. Carmel's friend with the lolling tongue is Janey, her exceptionally fine purebred border collie. The two of them are among the waning number of my friends still willing and able to walk the woods and bushwhack for the adventure of it. Beautiful and temperate late-October days can't be wasted! So off we went (with me wearing hunter orange; it's crossbow season) climbing some strenuous slopes, descending into ravines, and Janey reverting to feral dog and kicking up as many leaves as she could. I had explained why mushroom-hunting season was over and how I had preserved my finds when we found a fresh Hen of the Woods between the "toes" of an oak tree.
       I said it was edible but I'd leave it there because I had my year's supply, and Carmel, who'd never seen one in the wild before, to my surprise said, "I want it. I'll take it." So we cut it from the earth, and I explained its anatomy and how to cook it (break or cut it into florets and sautee or roast like cauliflower), and here she is with her prize. She took it back to the city--what an adventure for the mushroom!--and cooked it for herself and boyfriend, who was once Demetrius's best friend, and they pronounced it delicious.