Tuesday, August 31, 2010


THE LITTLE ACTOR is back in town!!
(He did some traveling on his summer vacation).

He came to see me today. We had a little discussion
about scripts, how it might advance his career if he
learned to read.
So he's working on the fundamentals.

Step One: Get a grasp of words,

Do a little word play.

He seemed enthusiastic about it
(though I suppose he could just be acting!)


Monday, August 30, 2010


AHHH. NOOO. DON'T GO, don't go! (That's me, with my arms wrapped around the legs of summer, wailing up at the big hot sun and the leafy green trees already starting to look a little haggard.) Last night, when The Yard Man and I went to the final concert of this summer's series held at a local park, and planted our chairs amidst the great throng of people with their french fries and cones and their dogs (the four-legged kind) and their shouted greetings to one another and their collective joie de vivre, I started grieving the end of the season. It's not that I don't love autumn; I do! But, oh, my...there's no other season that's shared quite like summer!

This big crowd, sharing this spot in the great outdoors,
enjoyed the fabulous summer evening together.
And together we clapped and cheered and danced
(even some of the dogs) to the music of
C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band.

Nobody wanted to leave!
The band said goodbye again and again...
and then kept on
playing that zydeco!



Sunday, August 29, 2010




I had one last conversation with myself. Then I got up and put on my clothes.

This is just incredible! I thought, as I drove through the dark of night. I was laughing out loud. Surely I'll get there and find the place deserted! It was 5:10 a.m. and the lovely moon was high in the sky.
Then I thought, Hmm. Just what would I do if no one were there? I drove a little slower.
What had I been thinking?! Would it really matter so much to have an excellent spot--I mean, could it possibly be worth a whole hour of sleep?! Although, since I didn't get a wink after 2:30, anyway...
Well, here I was, and by the dim light of the moon I could see that two or three other flea marketers were setting up shop. This looks good, I thought.
I will find an advantageous spot before the big influx.

However, none of the small handful who were there, or the several who arrived soon after, seemed to be vying for any particular area of the parking lot. There were vast open spaces. So I parked next to a friendly woman who informed me that it didn't really matter where one set up on Friday; Saturday--now that was the day things got busy!

I wrested the table from the car and unloaded the trunk, reassessing the value of things as I set them out for the whole world's inspection (...well, at least the world of local folks who are looking for bargains on a Friday morning. A world, I discovered, which is not that large).

I felt a little silly erecting my beach umbrella before the sun had even peeked over the horizon,
but I pictured a hoped-for swarm of eager shoppers arriving at dawn...best to be prepared.

I got out my folding chair, and
my book: Mao's Last Dancer;
my sustenance: small bag of almonds, banana, and water bottle;
my equipment: cell phone, camera, masking tape and pen;
my bag of change: two ten's, two five's, lots of ones and a roll of quarters.
I had a nice, satisfied feeling of preparedness as I settled in to wait.
And then I realized I was freezing! Which is to say, of course, that I had forgotten to bring anything to protect me from the early-morning chill. And when I say chill, I'm talking about unseasonably cool, goose-bumpy temperatures. The friendly woman next to me had donned a heavy jacket. But what good fortune was mine--offered for sale at my very own space was an orange cotton sweater, exactly my size!

Eventually the sun arrived, and heat and light showed up hand-in-hand. But shoppers? Let me just say, I was well engrossed in the life of Li Cunxin before I saw anyone hand-in-hand (It was the "hat people" [a name this big-hat-wearing couple gave themselves, for obvious reasons (not so obvious was why they would want that name. Nevertheless, I had only one hat for sale--its size: Newborn;
and, hmm, they showed no interest.)])

In spite of the very slim crowd, and the even slimmer sales, I was having a splendid time. Walt, on my right, convinced me to take a spin on a bike--one of the two he had for sale. (Let me point out, this is the kind of thing one can do, Dear Reader, when shoppers are scarce as hen's teeth.) I enjoyed chatting with Judith on my left, and her eighty-nine-year-old mother, who showed up to give her a break. The elderly one (her daughter informed me) is planning to drive herself to New England later this summer.

And here's the story of an interesting fact that I learned: I saw Judith using a magic marker on a sign she had taped to her card table loaded with bric-a-brac. "Are you lowering a price already?" I asked, as it was still early in the day.
"Well, no, not really" she said. It was a mumbled response, and she didn't explain. But when a woman who was perusing her items at the time had walked out of earshot, Judith pointed to a deerskin in a heap under the table. "I'm giving away this deerskin," she said. "It's illegal to sell it."
"Really?" I exclaimed.
"Oh, yeah," she replied. "No animal skins or taxidermy stuff. You can be fined. I know of one man who got caught and fined at a yard sale." Then she pulled the sign around for me to see-- Pay $25 for the moose--deerskin is free!
She showed me a silly little statue of a moose on its hind legs. "Twenty-five dollars for this, and I give 'em the deerskin!" Then she added, "It's not illegal, of course, to give it away!"

Well, the pleasant morning wore on. The scarcity of shoppers could certainly not be blamed on the weather. Judith reminded me, however, that paycheck-stretching is common near the end of the month; it's not a good time to be selling.
But it wasn't all that long before a man came by and asked Judith, "How much you want for the deerskin?"
"Oh, you can have it," she said. "All you have to do is buy this statue." She pointed it out.

He studied the statue. "Well, I don't really want it," he said.
"Just buy it!" she said. "You'll get the deerskin!"
He looked at the statue again, closely. Then he forked over the twenty-five dollars and she rolled up the deerskin and gave it to him.
"And shall I put the moose in a bag for you?" she asked.
He leaned over and gave it one last intent look. "No, you can keep that," he said.

And evidently that's what most of the trickle of shoppers were thinking when they looked at my stuff. When Judith began to pack up her moose statue and other unsold items around 11:30, I followed suit. Walt was still trying to sell his two bikes, but half of the sellers had called it quits. I had gotten to page eighty in my book; Mao's Great Leap Forward was in full swing.

It was perfect timing for a quick reloading of the car and a trip to the thrift shop, where I made a sizable divestment. Then home...where I took
a sizable nap!


Saturday, August 28, 2010


YESTERDAY MORNING AT 2:30 I awoke and looked at the clock. Two more hours! I thought. In two more hours the alarm clock is going to go off. I was alone, as my yard man had left about twelve hours earlier to head for Kentucky on horse business. (Dear Reader, he's got so many jobs on the side, it's a wonder he manages to get any yard work done!) Before he left, he'd rigged up a bucketful of bricks to hold a big beach umbrella, and he helped me finagle a heavy folding table into the back seat of the car. I was the one, then, who stuffed the trunk with armloads of stuff and boxes and bags that I'd stuffed full of stuff--stuff from the attic and stuff from closets and stuff from the basement and stuff....well, you get the idea--we had too much stuff! I'd decided to give one more shot to Investment of Time in Divestment of Things--the plan: to drag paraphernalia to a flea market (as we're too far off the beaten path to have a yard sale in the yard).

Enough time had elapsed since I tried this before--the kind of time that glosses over the drudgery involved and shines a light on the enjoyment of watching people poke around in one's pile of stuff and--oh, yes, please!--make it their stuff (the idea of which was the stuff of which my dreams were made).

I had called the number posted where the flea market is held each Friday and Saturday of summer. "Is Friday a pretty good day to come?" I asked the man who answered the phone.
"Oh, it's often been as good as Saturday," he said.
Excellent, I thought. I'd rather go on Friday. "And what time do the people who are selling usually come to set up?" I inquired next.
"Well," he said, "it officially starts at six, but folks usually show up at five to get a good space."
"Five o'clock?!" Suddenly the word 'cockamamie' came to mind.
"Where are the best spaces?" I asked.
He told me the area that vendors seemed to prefer, and talked a bit more about the procedure. And then we hung up. There was no need to register--one could simply show up.

Which meant, of course, that a decision as to truly and actually following through with the plan could be made at 2:30 a.m. or at 2:50 a.m. or at 3:14 a.m. or at any old time...as I tossed and turned and failed to return to sleep. The conversation with myself went something like this: Oh, good grief, if I manage to go back to sleep RIGHT NOW, I'll only get five and a half hours of sleep (needless to say, the number kept dwindling). I could turn off that blasted alarm and forget the whole thing--drive directly to the thrift shop tomorrow. Yes! That's what I'll do! Except, geez...all of that time I've already invested...... And won't it be fun? It's to be a fabulous day, not anything like the last time I tried this scheme! Then I'd breathe very deeply and tell myself I was going to. go. to. sleep. NOW.

I didn't make a decision.
I didn't turn off the alarm.
But twenty minutes later, I was sneaking a peek at the clock again. I was weighing the pros and cons.

Until finally I looked at the clock and it read: 4:28. I'd had three and a half hours of sleep. It was time to decide!
I reached over and turned off the alarm.

(to be cont'd.)


Wednesday, August 25, 2010


THIS TIME IT'S AN OLLA PODRIDA rolling your way: Olio. Hodgepodge. Do I really need to explain, Reader Dear? (I think not).

*A while back I gave you the story of my journey to partially bovine existence. The one thing I neglected to regale you with was the silly little action that was my very, very (and I do mean very) last exercise as a total human being. Because my recollection of the deed is so foggy, I'll just show you the note from a nurse:

And here's what I remember: In my chat with the guy who was going to be performing the transformation, I learned that he is exactly one year and one day younger than myself. Aha, I recall thinking, we're fellow Librans! Some time elapsed before the nurses were dragging me along on a gurney--straight for the execution (uh, execution of the surgery, I'm pleased to make clear). One of them handed me a purple marker. "Use this to write your name on your chest," she instructed.

I laughed. "So this is to make sure I don't get a tonsillectomy and somebody else wakes up with the cow valve?" I took the marker. And that's where all memory of the event fades away for me.

When I found this note, I was very eager to have the nurse confirm what she'd written. "Is this for real?!" I asked her.
"Oh, yeah." she said, "We all laughed. We were amazed that you wrote it upside-down and backwards so that we could read it from our angle."

I love it when I'm driving around in the summertime and find little offerings like this here and there. I do wish the owner had put up a sign:
Have a seat!

Later the same day, I had to make a trip to the hardware store--the friendly little neighborhood one. And there I could have taken another seat--just taken it!

I glanced in the boxes, all
marked "free," and one item
tugged at my heartstrings.

Oh, Arlene, how could you?!I murmured to myself. (Which explains a good bit about the condition of my overcrowded attic).

                                                               "To Arlene from Mother"

*Here's another plus of the summer season: When you need to put together small flower arrangements (for the tables) at a funeral meal you are helping to serve (at your church), it's so easy to collect the needed flowers from a summer garden (provided you have one; it may be just as easy to collect from a stranger's garden, but I wouldn't recommend it unless there's a sign that says "FREE").

The trickiest part of the whole operation is transporting the flowers. Hmm. Or maybe it is making the flowers come out even in those twenty-six vases.

*Okay, so perhaps I should have entitled this olla podrida "Bounties of Summer" because here's one more: Random Fireworks. I never know which evening of summer I might be able to step out onto the balcony (most favored spot of this house in which I live) and enjoy a fireworks display. This one a few weeks ago caused me to call for The Yard Man and inquire of him if he knew the where or the wherefore of this showy display. He didn't.
I enjoyed hearing the rousing applause almost as much
as the sight of exploding pyrotechnics.

*Now is the time to be in praise of peaches, I know. The section of the season for strawberries is over. Strawberries just happen to be showier, in my opinion, and I had these (non-locals, alas) atop my cereal this morning.

Aren't they just ooo-la-la?!


Sunday, August 22, 2010


MY DAUGHTER-IN-LAW had a birthday yesterday. I certainly don't want to divulge her age...especially since it is a birthday which some women wish to repeat again and again, claiming each time is the first. So my lips are sealed on the number. What I will tell you about, Dear Reader, is the fabulous dish I served for the birthday meal when she and my son delighted my yard man and me with their company today. Everyone murmured or readily spoke their approval of the Gingery Quinoa Salad. And the yard man, after he'd scooped a small serving onto his plate and taken a bite, even gave me notice, "Oh, you're really going to like this!" (The clever man--he's not so fond of vegetarian dishes himself.)

He was absolutely right, of course. The fates had come together on this one. When my son had informed me that the birthday girl preferred to eat vegetarian, I immediately went for the vegetarian magazine I had just picked up for a quarter at the thrift shop that morning. It's a March issue, so the recipes it features are the late-winter sort; but a salad is a salad, after all, and this one looked tempting. When I scanned the ingredients and saw beet juice, I couldn't believe the serendipity of the whole situation.

My daughter, the organic gardener, had just given me three beets on Tuesday. After weeks of pining for some, I had hurriedly chopped and cooked them and gobbled up a good portion without stopping to make any plans. But the glorious juice--hmm, I had spent a few moments on planning its future--I wanted to pickle the portion of chopped beets that remained. Yes, that had been the plan. The problem was, I hadn't been able to keep my fingers out of the beet jar; the dwindling supply of chopped beets made it more and more certain I'd have to find some other use for that juice.

I've also had a large bag of quinoa just sitting in my cupboard. And I happened to have sliced almonds in the freezer. Wow. You can surely understand, Dear Reader, why my eyes would alight on the magazine's photo and the title of this enticing ruby-red salad! But, let's see, it called for chopped apple. Now, residing in my kitchen at the time were five bananas, a bag of frozen blueberries, a grapefruit, three kiwis, a lime, some sliced orange, four peaches, a handful of fresh strawberries and most of a medium-sized watermelon. No apples.

Too finicky about following the recipe to the letter, I ran out to buy one apple. And, how handy, while I was at the store I could get shredded coconut and a piece of fresh ginger! Then I made up the salad. It's so quick! So easy! In case you'd like to try it, Dear Reader, here's how I put it together. I read the first step:

1. Toast almonds in saucepan over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Cool.
Then I put two tablespoons of oil in the pan and added the almonds. I tried to watch them closely, but I was chatting with my son and before I knew it the pan was sending up a delicious aroma of cooking almonds that too rapidly progressed to slightly scorched almonds and I grabbed the pan from the burner and read step two.

2. Wipe out saucepan. Add oil and onion and saute 2-3 minutes until translucent, stirring often.

WAIT A MINUTE. Add oil?!!
I started over.

1/3 Cup chopped almonds (1& 1/2 oz.)
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 Cup chopped onion
2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
1 Cup quinoa
1 & 1/2 Cups beet juice and/or carrot juice
1 Cup frozen peas
1 apple chopped up
1/3 Cup unsweetened shredded coconut

3. Stir in ginger, quinoa, juice and add salt and pepper if desired. Bring to a boil. Cover. Simmer 15-20 minutes over medium heat until liquid is absorbed.

4. Remove from heat. Add frozen peas and cover again. Let sit for 10 minutes, covered, to thaw the peas.

5. Uncover and stir in the apple and coconut.

6. Serve warm or at least room temperature.

(Serves six vegetarians. Lots of yummy leftovers if served to one vegetarian,
one quasi-vegetarian, and a couple of enthusiastic meat-eaters.)


Tuesday, August 17, 2010


WHEN I WAS A CHILD, storms moved across the river. (I'm certain they still do, but I'm not there to verify). One could simply look to the south to see if rain was arriving. From a mile or two away, its approach was visible on the surface of the water.

Now I see the cloud, and the air is heavy with suspense, but there's no certainty of rain until it's falling on my head.


Sunday, August 15, 2010


CHARMINGLY, THOUGH INADVERTENTLY, TODAY WAS First Annual Front Row Music Day for me and my yard man. Twice we found ourselves enjoying the live performance of an international music group, in each case listening from very close proximity. Later I pouted to the yard man that I had no sound proof of our evening's attendance at the Long's Park concert by the Irish group the Saw Doctors. You'll just have to take my word for it, Dear Reader--it was fantastic. From the front row at the very edge of the amphitheater where we stood, the music beat a rhythm in our chests and took two or three weeks' worth of hearing off the end of our lives, but it was worth it.

Earlier in the day we had taken a notion to go and enjoy the performance of a German boys choir--Knabenchor Wuppertaler Kurrende--and of that I've got plenty of footage! When we arrived at the local church where the event was being held, it was packed out to standing room only; folks were leaving, in fact--not content to be seated on folding chairs in the nether regions of the building. The doors to the sanctuary had been closed and the lobby was thick with people milling about.

But being the resourceful person that I am, and much to my yard man's amazement (okay, mine too), I managed to secure seats for us at the very front of that expansive auditorium. We sat on folding chairs with a dozen or so other folks who had an excellent view of the conductor's facial expressions and a close-up side view of the choir. Even better, we were privy to behind-the-scenes scenes that enhanced my viewing pleasure immensely.

Already I'm looking forward to the second of these annual events
(whenever it might inadvertently occur),
and hoping for the same delightful diversity!


Saturday, August 14, 2010



(the corny kind)!

Who doesn't love 'em?!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010


THIS MORNING I WOKE EARLY to get to the appointed restaurant for an important breakfast meeting.

I was greeted by friends!

When I say we had a feast,
it has nothing to do with the food.
These are old friends I'm talking about--we know each other well.
The charter members of this group have been meeting together for twenty-six years!

How we pay the bill when we meet is predicated on various factors; alas, I'd have wished to bring you the lengthy discussion pertaining to this--wry comments and all. My good friends, however, would not re-enact (they're not that accommodating, and besides--I'm afraid we'd have found it too amusing [pretty good chance, since we laughed at the real-life version]. On the other hand, you, Dear Reader, quite possibly would be shaking your head or knitting your brow. What fun is that?!)

I'll just have to be more agile and stay on my toes at the next monthly meeting.
Hey, hey, did you hear me there, friends?
('Cause [pssst] I said 'monthly!')



Tuesday, August 10, 2010


YESTERDAY I GOT A CALL from a decorating store in the city: We have your name and number written down here. You were interested in carpet samples, and we have some we're discarding.

It took me a minute to recall, but yes, I'd been in the store a few months ago and admired the stack of carpet samples. When I asked what becomes of them when the store gets new designs, the salesperson had said, "Oh, we just throw them away. You want them?" Well, I didn't know exactly what I'd do with them, but I found them irresistibly appealing (which means, of course, that I answered in the affirmative), and thus got this phone call.

So I told the woman I'd pick up the samples today. And I thought, "Ah, ha, I will also visit the jewelry store that is just up the block."

Now the reason for the stop-off at the jewelry store is another story altogether (oh, don't worry, Dear Reader, it's a short one): With all this recent talk of diamonds, the elderly aunt of my yard man (who happens to live next door) had something to show me one day. "This is a pin that my father bought," she said, "when he was a young man and traveled out west." She held the piece of jewelry up to the light so that the stone in the middle sparkled. "I've always wondered if this could be a diamond," she said.

I had the pin with me today on my trip to the city. The expansive and very old farmer's market is open every Tuesday, so the city was bustling with shoppers and tourists. I was making a big circle of the downtown area, looking for a parking place. Stopped at a traffic light, watching the heat waves shimmer off the pavement, whom should I suddenly see--crossing the street right before my very eyes--but the Little Actor!

Now, like any other huge fan of a celebrity, I went a little nuts--blowing the horn, waving my arms. I frantically searched for a spot to pull my car off the street, and rushed to see him up close! As luck would have it--wow--not only did he pause to greet me, but he and his mother were free for lunch! How could I turn down this opportunity to dine with the Little Star--those groupies of other celebs would be shrieking and crying over fantastic fortune of this sort!

And since I got to dine with the Little Star, I can give you this exclusive footage:

Life Gives the Little Star a Lemon!

And He Makes Lemonade!

Then, just as he's getting tired of lemonade, and becoming a fussy patron, entertainment arrives!

By the time I bid farewell to the Little Actor, the afternoon is waning and the temperature still rising. I trot over to the jewelry store, where it's mighty nice and cool inside. It takes some time for the woman with the truth-seeking equipment to make a determination as to the dreams-come-true quality of the stone in the pin, during which I daydream about the sit-down-Ann-I've-got-some-awesome-news-for-you! nature of the message I'm going to deliver. But, wouldn't you know--the news that I get is nothing but a fat slice of lemon.

Ah, well. I can't make lemonade, but I know that a slice of lemon can be a thing of beauty, too. There would even be instances, I know, where its value would outweigh a diamond... (Surely you can think of some, Dear Reader. If not, I sincerely hope you are never marooned on a desert island with scurvy setting in. Or mixing up Aunt Ruby's Pink Lemonade with Vodka at the county fair competition, working to win the grand prize, and one lemon short. Or...[never mind, you get the juice, I mean, the gist.])

And now I've stopped by the decorating shop and I'm off for home; I'm a regular carpetbagger. It's temping to look at my samples, and show them to you, but it'll have to wait. (Hope that news is not too much of a lemon for you, Reader Dear!)



Monday, August 9, 2010


THE FOLLOWING MORNING there was nothing I could do about it--I had to make up a platter of those fantastic photogenic figs. And then, because they really did lend themselves so readily to being photographed, so modest yet strikingly beautiful, so humble yet elegant...I soon had more pictures than I could ever possibly use--certainly far too many to show you, Dear Reader!)

And we had far too many figs to eat just as they each reached the prime moment of ripening, as well. Some of them were racing to old age already by this afternoon.

But I knew what to do: Hadn't my mother put a recipe for Fig Preserves in the notebook of family recipes she'd made for me?

There it was under 'Miscellaneous,' right between Swedish Glug and Daddy Dan's BBQ Sauce.

It's just about the simplest thing in the world to make--chop, chop, chop; add the sugar; boil 'til thick. Duh. (I told you--simple!)

And I love this little kitchen experiment: the way it starts out with the glistening mound of sugar atop the figs, which gets stirred into a juicy mass of spritely bubbles (sometimes too energetic, leaping out of the pan)...that grows more and more stodgy, finally giving poofy little sighs of exhaustion, until it tells the stirrer --Enough already! Any thicker and YOU'LL be the one complaining!

I put the stuff into two little jars and screwed on the lids. Then I...ahh...snacked on the...oh, so warm and sweet...few tablespoons left over. I swooned. I licked the spoon and I licked the knife. I scraped every last tiny sticky morsel from the pan. I looked looongingly at those freshly sealed jars. And I made a little note to myself: If I am ever called upon to order a final meal, I've got to be sure to include (freshly-made) fig preserves!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

(Cont'd...as promised)

I SLIT OPEN THE LID of the box and folded back the flaps. Thick layers of newspaper hid whatever was giving the package its heft. My brain was still fiddling--what heavy thing would be so well-packed?

But a few second later, I beheld the gift.

I cried. "They sent FIGS!" It was almost a sob. I rushed up the stairs, and exclaimed to the yard man, "Come see! I have something to show you!" He looked a little hesitant, so I added, "The box!"

Oh, yes--The box! He climbed out of bed and eagerly followed me down the stairs. "Just look!" I said, with awe in my voice, and I showed him the gift.

He was duly impressed. "Wow!" he breathed. "It's figs!!

We stood there and silently admired for a moment or two, worshiping at the altar of Precious Fruit. And then, as one, we fell on those figs and began our passionate consumption!

Have you ever tasted a truly ripe fig, Reader Dear, just plucked from the fig bush in its warm, honeyed state? Everything you may think you know about figs, it slinks to the sidelines with that first succulent bite!

And the truly ripe fig, Precious Fruit that it is, will keep about as long as a fleeting dream. You have to live in a warm sunny climate and be there near the fig tree when it offers its wealth. The only other thing...if you're ever so lucky, is to have yourself a kind, thoughtful friend or two who will go to your old home place and gather the figs and send them Priority Mail to your door! Along with that (not required, but a definite plus) you should have some sweet memories to savor with the figs.

Oops, where was I? I was so busy savoring those figs and the memories; and then I glanced over at the book I'd been savoring mere moments before. It's the one, you know, that I'd purchased just a half-hour earlier at the used-book store in the city:

It's titled: a platter of figs


!!! (Those exclamation points are expressly
in honor of the fabulous, figgy coincidence! So
sweet. So amazing.)

Friday, August 6, 2010


SUCH A JUMBLE OF THINGS to tell you about, Dear Reader, I hardly know where to start: the box, the evening, the treasure in the box, and ...(my goodness, they seem to be searching me out)...another coincidence!

A mysterious package arrived in the mail today.
It was only the contents that had me guessing,
as I could easily see who had sent it. It was heavy! What heavy thing would George and Suzanne be sending to me and my Yard Man? (This package was coming from my old home area, same place I blogged about only a fortnight ago, Reader Dear.) Suzanne was a very dear friend of my parents while they were still living. Now George and Suzanne are friends of The Yard Man and mine. But I hadn't a clue what was in that box! (Dear me, I said it was heavy--I suppose you could call that a clue, but it sure was a paltry one. It didn't help me one little bit.)

It was such a puzzle! I let the box sit there, savoring the suspense and surprise, wanting the Yard Man to help with the opening. But my Yard Man was busy all afternoon. And he barely had time to wolf down his supper before we set out for First Friday--that monthly event in the city where throngs fill the sidewalks, a few really serious about music and art, but most simply filling a fine summer evening.

That's what we were doing, the Yard Man and I. Happily for us, global warming was taking a tiny break--doling out weather custom made for a stroll in the city.

Musicians abounded: One whom we know very well.

We appreciated them all, though some were decidedly
better than others.  We maneuvered through some of the galleries and shops, loitered when we ran into people we know.

It was a lovely evening, we both agreed, in spite of the over-crowded galleries and sidewalks (or perhaps because of them.) We marveled that the city was still pulsing with people long after this event usually dwindles down.

Then, just as The Yard Man himself was dwindling down and was touting the benefits of leaving, we came upon a used-book store. Oh, please, please I said, and he followed me in. So we spent some time there, and the last thing I did in the city was to purchase a book--a cookbook, no less! (Once again, it was the fetching cover that drew me in. And, oh my...the photos! Just like a kid who can't read, I loved the book for the pictures.)

By the time we got home, it was late. That Yard Man of mine headed straight up the stairs to bed. But I sat poring over the pictures in that book. Only momentarily, however, did I forget the box. The box! I wasn't going to wait another minute...

I tore open that box!
I rushed upstairs for The Yard Man...
I promise to tell you more, Dear Reader.

I promise.


Thursday, August 5, 2010


UP UNTIL A HALF-HOUR OR SO AGO, I could safely say I'd never once cried over a cookbook; never even got teary-eyed or a lump in my throat, much less real tears splashing down on the page! But no more...(sniff)...can I make that assertion. I'm about to tell you why.

This morning I said to myself, Do me a favor, Self! It's about time you got busy and used up these boxes and bags and containers of dried foods you have stockpiled in your quasi-pantry cupboard and keep overlooking for quicker and easier options. Uh-huh, you know that you do! Look at all this stuff--three kinds of beans, lentils, quinoa, slow-cooking rice...you oughta be ashamed of yourself!

Self rather meekly admitted she could make up some hummus with that jar of garbanzo beans she'd been pushing to the back of the cupboard and trying to forget each time she purchased the store-bought kind. That's when I and myself put a pot of said beans on the stove to soak, and later turned up the heat.

Then a half-hour ago I went for the cookbook that's been on my counter for a few months or more. I got it green at the used-book store, and (another admission I will blame on Self) it was mostly because she was smitten by the vibrant dust-jacket. Well, that and the motivating title: The Passionate Vegetarian--oh, so inspiring! I planned to tote that book home and become one myself--(no, not a book, Dear Reader!--a regular meat-eschewer!

I've never stopped eating all flesh before, but I was toying with the idea when I purchased that rich-looking bag of orange lentils...and those fine kidney beans.)

So I brought the book home, and I leafed through some of the recipes; there must be a thousand (it's a very fat book)! But I had not read the opening pages--I had no idea I'd find a memoir! And, ahhh--hand to chest--it's a love story! When I opened the book a short while ago, there was no way to know I'd be reading my favorite genre, or that I should settle in with a box of tissues! No. I just stood there, hunched over the counter with my pan of garbanzos simmering away, and I simply devoured the author's story.

And I bit my lip. And my eyes got wet. And I cried as I read that cookbook! Right onto the pages. And into my pan of garbanzo beans.

If you want to read this chronicle of true life (and true love), you can probably find it at the library. You'll see why I cried. And you'll get about a thousand recipes, besides!

(If you cry into your supper,
remember to add less salt.)


Wednesday, August 4, 2010


THE drive-through spa
on these hot summer days.
I recline my seat and breathe
deeply, while my car gets
a watery massage.
At first it's relaxing,
and then, the abrupt

When we get to the mesmerizing rinse cycle
(my car and I),
I imagine opening
the sun roof

and letting some of
that cool pampering
fall in on me.


Sunday, August 1, 2010


FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD. That's the real title. And, the subtitle: HAPPY BIRTHDAY! (a big one) TO JUDY (my friend), who was born a long, long, looong time ago on this very day! (Yet amazingly, every time I check, remains younger than myself). The celebratory lunch we had together was two days ago and featured an impressive platter of sweet potato fries (a big one), which must now be the feature of this photograph, since Judy (my friend) gave me clear and explicit instructions not to make her the feature. Alas.

And speaking of food. And of friends. And of Kobe beef...oops, hadn't mentioned that before, but here at this elegant restaurant, where my chauffeur and my LTF shared a most delightful meal with me last weekend, the waiter described it in glowing terms: The happy cows, bathed and massaged and left to frolic in sunny meadows, now available to grace our dinner plates! (Gulp. I ordered the crabcakes.)

My yard man and I had a conversation concerning the benefits of seeded versus unseeded watermelon. It was a lengthy and uninformed discussion. He extolled the virtues of unseeded (it's so much easier to eat; it's just as nutritious as the seeded kind), and I was of the opinion that the seeded variety, considering the fact that it's still got all its God-given attributes, must certainly contain more nutrition and is the better choice. (Also, with its seeds, it's a first-runner-up to the beet.)

We did come to an agreement: polka-dotted or not, it's still a most glorious food of summer!

And speaking of seeds: amazing how one little sprout that grew in my daughter's garden last summer is now taking pleasure in this year's crops!