Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The week in details

What I've been...

Reading/Abandoning: John astutely observed last night that he and I both read for style, and often, when you've read a third or a half of a book, you've pretty much got that down—which may be why I haven't finished too many books lately. I read the first half of Elizabeth Costello, which I liked very much, but then I put it down for a couple of weeks and realized I don't care a whit "what happens to the characters" (it's not that kind of book). I read ~40% of Tampa, which is very smutty, and that's fun, but the book itself, outside the smut, is not my thing at all—it's not a language novel like Lolita, and it's not realistic enough to be shocking. I read most of Farrah Field's recent book of poems, Wolf & Pilot, which is beautiful (small essay upcoming in Lemon Hound about that), and now I'm reading Madness, Rack, and Honey, Mary Ruefle's book of rambly, discursive essay-lectures on poetry. It's terrific. I like her prose much more than her poetry, in fact; her poems have always struck me as a little dopey and downmarket.

Eating: I've been making refrigerator pickles, using this brine on carrots, cucumbers, onions, bell peppers, and jalapenos. They are incredibly easy and require no fancy canning supplies/skills. I will never let veggies go bad again! Have also been making variations on this Vietnamese-ish noodle dish almost weekly. The nuoc cham and the shallots are so good.

Sniffing: SOTM is Angel Liqueur de Parfum, an even richer version of the original. Last night I tried Santa Maria Novella Tobacco Toscano, which was lovely, but (#protip) almost identical to the more affordable and widely available Midnight in Paris. Aside from sampling, I've been wearing L'Eau Mixte a bunch, my new favorite grapefruit scent. Like a good Campari cocktail, it strikes a perfect balance between sweet and bitter.

Otherwise: We did six performances of The Designated Mourner, the first production of Denver Poets' Theatre. They were terrifying, awesome, etc. Our last show (for now—our lead, Aaron Angello, has left for a month-long hike on the Colorado Trail) was at our friends' Noah and Sommer's house, and one of our best I think. Noah took this crazy picture—it appears I've gotten so much into character I'm now actually a ghost.


Speaking of photographs and immanence, etc., I posted this portrait of my mother (taken in high school) on Twitter and everyone was all, "That looks just like you!"


Isn't it weird how you don't see your own family resemblances? It's like how you can't tickle yourself.

17 comments:

  1. I think it's easy to focus on the differences in the faces we're most familiar with, the faces of family. When you've been around them so long, they're too specific to think of in broad strokes.

    So I definitely see the resemblance here, but I always think it's strange when people act so surprised that children look like their parents. That is generally how biology works.

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    1. I don't think they're surprised at the biological fact of it, I think they're surprised to see the same features rearranged on an entirely different body. It gives one an uncanny feeling, because the familiarity creates the sense that you know this stranger better than you do.

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  2. Your posts are like to-do lists for me! I must try both those recipes; and read Madness, Rack, and Honey (I too have only read some of Elizabeth Costello, though I finished Tampa); and smell Midnight in Paris (SMN's Tobacco Toscano is one of LB's very favorites) and L'Eau Mixte (gimme grapefruit). And I *wish* I could have seen one of your performances! Would have been top of the list were I anywhere near Colorado.

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    1. E! I see you haven't left the country quite yet, I will send you samples of MiP and L'EM!

      What did you think of Tampa?

      As for the performances, we want to do more in the future -- if you ever come to Colorado?! We could also do one in Boston if we're ever all there, only requires the 3 of us and a setting/audience.

      xoxo

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  3. I am reading Madness, Rack, and Honey, too on the recommendation of a bookseller from Malaprops Books in Asheville, NC. It is really great so far! It was making me want to go find the 1969 New York Times from the time when the moon landing took place. It must be hard for a poet to be better at prose. Poetry is hard, yo.

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    1. It makes me want her to be my teacher! I love all the little facts 'n' asides, like that Jane Austen wrote "How true!" in the margins after "poems she was not fond of"

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    2. I'd love to have her as a mentor.

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  4. Most of the novels I've been reading lately have been the spy novels of Alan Furst (they're set in Europe in the 1930's and 1940's, before and during the Second World War). I've enjoyed them, though they don't require a lot of concentration. Last year I also got heavily into Game of Thrones books by George R. R. Martin, and I've been waiting for the fifth one to come out in paperback. Again, with those, I enjoyed the books though they didn't need a lot of concentration to stay with them.

    I recently read a little less than half of F. Scott Fitzgerald
    s novel Tender Is the Night, and it just didn't keep my interest. I just couldn't get seriously interested in the fine nuances of the emotional lives of people so wealthy that they could spend all their time lounging on the beach in southern France or having nights of drama in hotels.

    (At one point I put down the Fitzgerald book, and went and reread Hemingway's story The Snows of Kilimanjaro, and remembered again why I've always liked most of Hemingway's writing.)

    *

    I'm curious, have you attempted (or given thought to attempting) making watermelon pickles? (I.e. pickled watermelon rind.) The brine recipe you're using seems like it should work. When my Grandma made them (old home canning method with Mason jars), she cut the watermelon rind into pieces about an inch and a half long and a little less than an inch wide, and boiled the pieces of rind for something like 24 hours. They were one of the dream delights of my childhood.

    *

    When I saw the photo of your mom, before I read what you say about it here, I initially wondered if it might be a photo of you from some number of years back. So yeah, I guess I can see a resemblance.

    When I was a kid and we would go to visit relatives in Iowa (both my parents were originally from there), when we were around my dad's relatives, from time to time I would meet one of his uncles or cousins, and I kept thinking they all looked like my grandpa (my dad's dad), and I could never quite figure out why. It was years and years, decades, before it occurred to me at some random moment that they reason they all resembled each other was that they were related to each other.

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    1. Oh, I hated Tender is the Night when I read it for a class in grad school ... I'd take Hemingway any day of the week.

      Never have! The beauty of this recipe is you can use the brine on raw veggies. The watermelon rind idea is intriguing though how do you boil something for 24 hours?!

      Ha ha! When I see photos of my paternal grandmother when she was young, I think they look like me, but it helps that she is more unfamiliar to me I think.

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    2. Funny, until you asked I'd never really stopped to wonder how you boil something for 24 hours. Though when I went and Googled, and checked a couple of random recipes, what I figured out is that she boiled the rind for a *total* of 24 hours, though not all at once -- I vaguely remember my mom saying it took a couple of days to make them, so I'm thinking my grandma must have boiled them for, say, 12 hours the first day, let them sit in fresh cool water overnight (not sure if they had to be refridgerated, and anyway back then it may have been an icebox (with blocks of ice) rather than an electric fridge. Then boil them for another 12 hours the second day.

      My grandma home canned a lot of foods in Mason jars, she would have had it down to an efficient routine. Over the years when she and my grandpa would come up to visit, she would always bring along two or three jars of something she'd canned.

      The reason for boiling the watermelon rind for so long was to soften the texture of it. When we ate it, the texture and consistency was something like a well-cooked carrot. (The spices were sweet-pickle spices -- they were food of the gods.)

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  5. I'm going to try the noodle recipe, but with tempeh instead of chicken. Thanks for posting it!

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    1. It's very adaptable! You ok with fish sauce?

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  6. The fish sauce will have to go, too.

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    1. It's kind of all about the fish sauce I'm sorry to say. For a vegetarian noodle dish I recommend this one: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2009/06/soba-noodles-with-asparagus-red-pepper-tofu-recipe.html

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  7. I hate tempeh. I used to live with a bunch of vegans, and they put tempeh in everything. I'd as soon eat excelsior or some other packing material--styrofoam peanuts, for example.

    I read fiction for style, philosophy (trenchant/epigrammatic/aphoristic thoughts), smut, and identification (something that will prompt me to redefine my personal style). And to get my mind blown without a rubber. (I liked Nicholas Christopher's Veronica for that.)

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  8. Thanks for the pickling link. I don't want to do the fancy canning thing, so an easier alternative seems great. And yes, your mom does look like you (or vice versa).

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