Sunday, March 25, 2012

What I don't like about Eastern Kansas

Humid summers
Lack of mountains*
A lower concentration of great friends than it had 7 years ago
My super-cool jogging stroller is par for the course here
I don't have a job here.

I had to remind myself of the above list as we drove into Lawrence yesterday
and it felt like we were driving into spring personified. Flowering trees! Green grass! Buds! Kids in shorts! People drinking on patios!

I have lived in some very beautiful places in my life. Non-Kansas friends are surprised when I rank Lawrence very high on the places-I-would-like-to-live list. Anyone surprised by this did not live through Lawrence today. Heck, the place even smells fabulous with the Korean Spice Viburnums and crabapples in full flower.
And I was going to comment upon the perfect place for today even before the happy mob that descended upon downtown tonight.

Alas. Western Oklahoma has some nice wind farms.

*Shared with my current home.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hungry Books

The ethereal oranges mentioned in the earlier post are just one of the foods mentioned in The City and the Mountains. That AR and I both selected the orange passage for our blogs is more telling about our knowledge of each other than the writing of Eca de Queiros. I'm into creative cooking of all forms, including wanting to try real molecular gastronomy (I would have loved to dine at El Bulli, for instance, and would seriously consider wd-50 for my fantasy weekend of food in NYC*) and AR is into mocking fancy food**.

In another post, or at least a post in my mind, I will write about the various kinds of things I don't know how to read, and what that means. I very much enjoyed The City and the Mountains, but felt I was missing a great deal because I know so little. So little about Portuguese history, so little about Portuguese literature, so little about the times, that I didn't really know when I was being made fun of. In the novel, Paris is Civilization and Civilization is soulless, at best. The Mountains (of Portugal) have their own issues, but the air is clean, the work is meaningful and the food is satisfying.
Perhaps, because, unlike AR, I have no experience with soul-satisfying food in Portugal, or perhaps because one of the wonderful moments of my life was an extravagant dinner in Paris (in 1984***) of the sort that a modern Eca de Quieros would mock (roster kidneys! pigeon! bitter chocolate souffle!). So I'm not sure the point really resonated with me.

Anyway, interestingly, The City and the Mountains did not make me hungry while reading it. Scant food though there is in The Hunger Games (and Catching Fire, and Mockingjay) the food there is makes me want to eat. I want to eat the breads of all the districts. I want to eat the cookie Katniss tosses aside. I hear of roast birds and lamb stew and I just plain want to eat.

So yes, Hunger Games discussion on for sometime soon. It feels weird to be on-trend. Janet, don't worry about the deadline. It will go fast. One of these times I'm going to contact my cousin who gave me the book and tell her she's starting a discussion.

In the meantime, what do you know about Portuguese food, what books make you hungry and what you want to discuss concerning The Hunger Games.

*But I want to eat at Le Bernardin, pretty much anything Momofuku group, the Red Rooster and a whole bunch of ethnic restaurants, to name just a few.

**He might actually be a bigger foodie than I am, but he is the post-fine dining kind of foodie that is really into perfect fried chicken and restaurants of the least ambiance. I very much enjoy the perfect local burger and street food and soul food, but I also like dining as theater and sniffing corks makes me foolishly happy.

*** I figured out that my mother had just turned 39 on this month-long Europe trip. My parents were such adults at my age. I'm so far behind on so many life experiences, but it pleases me to think about how many great meals my parents have eaten since that pivotal summer and how many more opportunities I could have.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

But those were my quotes!

Over at Wuthering Expectations, Amateur Reader has started our discussion of The City and the Mountains by Eça de Queirós.
I've been reading this Portuguese STIR novel differently than I read most novels. First, I have read it in ridiculously small chunks (not due to any particular characteristic of the book, but because of the set up of my life and the age of my child who has become an efficient breast-feeder). Secondly, I have been marking specific passages to have something to discuss with AR.
If one reads Wuthering Expectations at all, one quickly notices that AR writes about the actual text. Surprisingly, a focus on the author's sentences is not the norm among book bloggers. Actually, if you've been in a typical book club, this is not surprising at all. How much we liked the book, what it reminded us of, what we liked better, what we are going to eat, what we are going to read next. . . this is what my book club actually talked about. The writing of the book in front of us, not nearly as much.
So I started marking passages in The City and the Mountain.
I marked a passage that reminds me of most modern offices:

From the foot of [Jacinto’s] desk, soft, fat cable snaked over the carpet,
scurrying into the shadows like startled cobras. On a bench, and reflected
in its varnished surface as if in the water of a well, stood a Writing
Machine, and further off a vast Adding Machine, with rows of holes from
which protruded stiff, metal numbers, patiently waiting. (21)

And a passage that deals with food:

And for dessert, iced oranges in ether.
“Why in ether, Jacinto?”
My friend hesitated and made a rippling gesture with his fingers as of an aroma being wafted away.“It’s a new thing. Apparently the ether develops and brings
out the soul of the fruit.” (28)

And everything I typed after this disappeared. Hmmmm. Who is in for The Hunger Games, by the way?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Spring is in the air

. . . and thus our itchy eyes and congested heads (although the latter has improved greatly for me while the former may be getting worse. Hmmm.)
In any case, the spring report . . .
First daffodils (south side of house) bloomed a full month ago. The daffodils on the east side of the house are tapering off now. Bradford pears have been out for a week and are just going past. Apricots peaked on Friday (March 9) and cherries are full out. Red buds are starting.
The golden currant (clove currant) at my house is in full bloom and is fabulously fragrant.
Maples and elms are setting fruit but haven't started shedding them.
Little violets are blooming in my yard, as is Vinca major and Vinca minor.
We've had lamium and shepherd's purse blooming all semester because I use them all the time in my plant taxonomy class.
The buds on the lilac are swollen and I wouldn't be surprised if it blooms over spring break (next week).
What's springy where you are?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Someday . . .

I will reminisce fondly about my children and their youth. And I will think back on my jolly baby Aster and my charming toddler Dianthus. And I will smile.
And I won't be remembering yesterday.
Or the day before.
Unless I am smiling at how delightful it is that those days are long past.