Saturday, June 27, 2009

Port in a Storm

I said to the doctor, “Did I do this to myself? Should I go back to never drinking, not even a beer a month, a glass of wine? Should I never eat meat? Give up dairy? Should I give up sex? Doesn’t that stir up hormones? Isn’t it bad for me?”

And the doctor answered, “It’s not just about longevity. It’s about quality of life. If you enjoy something, that is the best medicine. Do what makes you happy, and have fun. Don’t give up doing anything that a normal person would do.” (In short: "Live Life.")

So I ordered this case of port, a terrific extravagance; it is the first case of wine that I have ever bought. But it’s so good, will stay good for years, and I won’t drink it [all] myself. I’ll give bottles to friends, drink it with friends. And give bottles as a thank-you to the people who helped and encouraged me while I cried and was down, and to hosts who’ll invite me to parties and dinner. I’m going to have fun.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Dinner is Served

Knights of Columbus barbecued in the parking lot by the ballfields today, and at dusk I got my dinner there, and would like to share it with you, so here it is, the Midwest's finest meal: Barbecued chicken with sauce, corn on the cob, cole slaw dressed with oil and vinegar, and baked beans (not too sweet. I like to slice a jalapeno into them).

Leave the city. Y'all come on over for dinner -- I'll buy you your own dish of barbecue, just like this one -- and you will know true bliss. Say grace first! ("Mumble mumble thy bounty, mumble our Lord Amen.") Happy first day of summer. I love your company. To my British and Aussie readers: This is what we eat in America.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Don't Got No TV

After last week's digital changeover, I get only 3 TV channels and they are channels of nightmare: one broadcasting over and over, in English and then in Spanish, the message that if I'm seeing this message I am f----d and should call some number that never answers; and two digital channels owned by, run by, and featuring the best-known local evangelist. (And his toupee.) (Whatever it is about toupees, I can't take my eyes off 'em.) The only entertainment offered is reruns of "I Spy." I sh-t you not.

Getting any signal at all proves my antenna and TV do receive digital -- without a converter box -- but most signals from the city, 35 miles away, are too puny now to reach me. AT&T U-Verse doesn't serve this area. Guess I'll try a company a day until I find one that will. Wonder how many people are diggin' through their pockets to do the same as I.

In the meantime I let the TV mumble through its repeating nightmare. For company. To fill the dark corners of the house and the mind. And I don't chide myself. I've seen TV all my life and can't be expected to go without it for the remainder.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Wild in the Lawn

Unable to mow the lawn right now, but why would I mow anyway, when what grew up is this riot of orange wild daylilies (also called "ditch lilies" and "junk lilies"), brown-eyed susans, and fleabane. It's better than a botanical garden, because it's 100 percent natural. A metropolis for bugs, bunnies, chipmunks, snakes and all kinds of birds in the corner of my yard. And all I had to do was -- nothing. Let that be a lesson to me.

Each lily blooms for only one day. Let that be a lesson too!

Monday, June 15, 2009

German Contributions to America

Visiting Hermann and other formerly German settlements along the Missouri River, one remembers the things German immigrants brought to America; how wonderful:

  • Breweries
  • Beer gardens
  • Wineries
  • The town band
  • Oktoberfest
  • Clock towers
  • Turnverein (fellowship groups, like today’s “athletic clubs”)
  • Bratwurst (and knackwurst, liverwurst, wieners, and so on)
  • Dance halls
  • Potato pancakes
  • Music schools and conservatories
  • Pumpernickel bread

Thank you!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Wine Country

Pictured, my old schoolfriend Anthony from New York State, born in Brooklyn. Yeah, he's Italian. In fact he's a professional Italian, so wanted to visit Missouri wine country, about 30 or 40 miles northwest from the Divine homestead. Particularly Hermann, MO, because it's a German-settled town and his wife is of German descent. Germans settled there in the mid-1800s because its hills and view of the Missouri River reminded them of the scenery on the Rhine River. Immediately on the south-facing slopes of their hills they planted grapes. And this picture proves that wherever you have wines, you have Italians. He's holding up a blush wine. He also bought me a bottle of port -- he said, "this is the best domestic port I have ever tasted--" I figure I should listen to an Italian. Because he can't take it on a plane I will be shipping him bottles of port to Ithaca, New York. Missouri has 78 wineries.

Monday, June 8, 2009

A Baby Bird Was Born

Probably a sparrow's egg. Found it on a walk along Doc Sargent Road, brought it home because it was so beautiful. Also inspirational.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

What's Biting Today?

I fished today. At the local Shell I asked where I could buy bait. “You’re in the right place,” said the clerk, and sold me 2 dozen night crawlers $2.99/dozen. “I hope you catch a load,” she said, “and I don’t mean coal.”

So I get to the Big River (that's its name), dazzled & stupefied with the joy of first-fishing-of-the-year. About 60% of the time spent untangling, retying, cussing, getting hook out of bushes, etc. Thunder in the distance. An angler across the river caught a catfish. I want one. I won’t leave. Finally, God lets my old folding chair’s nylon seat rip in half, suddenly dumping my ass full-force on wet sand. I only hoped nobody saw this, because I bet it looked hilarious. Took this as a divine signal to go home.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cooking for Midwesterners

I’ve discussed Midwestern dating. Now I address Midwestern dining, specifically home cooking for company. I’m a cook so I know.

  • Fry it, they’ll like it.
  • Grilled Sea-Bass Tacos with Fresh Peach Salsa and no one will ever marry you.
  • Serve Four-Cheese Macaroni and 3 of your cheeses are wasted.
  • “Seafood steaks” is an oxymoron. I made tuna steaks & cream sauce for my mom and stepdad in 1994, and the only meal they hated more was my cousin’s new wife’s Duck L’Orange in 1971 -- and I still haven’t heard the end of it.
  • Midwestern adults aren’t afraid of squash.
  • These are the best people to invite to a potluck, but they call their own such parties “pot blessings.”
  • A Midwestern all-day picnic is the greatest experience life has to offer.
  • God gave you elbows so you can put them on the table and eat more.
  • I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter should be served in its tub so as to prove its authenticity.
  • Midwestern men are the best grillers in the world.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Phases of the Coneflower

If you can plant one perennial, plant coneflowers (Echinacea). Missouri coneflowers do beautiful things every day in June. Like fireworks in very very slow motion. Plant them once and they will do the rest. These are the most popular flowers around, visited by bees, sipped by hummers, and finally – when the seedheads are dry– swung on by goldfinches. All photos were taken June 1: the best, most promising day of the entire year.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The True Meaning of Summer

Fishin rods waitin' on my porch, bought last summer by David. Pink for me, blue for him. He's that kind of guy. They're waiting for a good fishing day and for David. I re-did the terminal tackle on all of em using a knot he taught me. Yes, I bait my own hooks, with minnows too.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Jelly-Bellied Friends Part 2

To kill slugs in your garden, put out a pan of beer. Slugs are not churchgoers, so even on Sundays they will belly up to the rim, drink, and die. Told that to a friend who remembered a steamy Sunday in 1954 when his beer-drunk uncle fell into the thorn bushes, had a heart attack, and died. I said, “Gross.” He said, No, it was the way everybody should go, doin’ what they liked.