26 November 2008

fun book meme! yay!

* Grab the book nearest you. Right now.
* Turn to page 56.
* Find the fifth sentence.
* Post that sentence along with these instructions in a note to your blog. (Or post a comment here)
* Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST.

It is also easy to see why only persons of means could patronize a temple involving sixty-four or more divinities.

Indeed. from Desire and Devotion: Art from India, Nepal, and Tibet, the catalog for the Walters Art Museum South Asia collection. There's a pretty picture of a goddess on p. 57. I get to look at pretty pictures for a living. hee hee

aur aap?
amdana ti?
und Sie?

25 November 2008

surviving the recession I: vegetarianism

meat is lovely. it's easy to cook (flame!), provides tons of calories and protein, and tastes yummy. And yet it is also expensive. Like insane-o expensive. because cheap meat tastes terrible. so either you fork out the cash or you go veg.

one aspect of our reentry culture shock has been the difficulty with internalizing food prices. ya leave a country for three years, the world goes into a recession, and whammo, suddenly milk and eggs are out of budget range and meat is an unaffordable luxury.

In other words: we were paying a lot for food in the UK. Because it was the UK. we are, shockingly, paying much the same for food here. so it's back to basics: root vegetables and dried legumes. in honor of the coming food-fest of Turkeyday, I offer my pretty root veggie dish:

slice into 1/4-inch rounds:

three beets
four parsnips
two medium sweet potatoes
(note: I scrub and leave the skins on. this saves time and retains nutrients. also, buy a decent knife. life is too short for crappy knives. and you just need one good one.)

Layer in a casserole dish, alternating (pretty colors!) layers for each veg.
in between each layer drizzle some peanut oil (cheaper and takes heat better than olive) and grind some pepper.
after three layers, put some home-grown rosemary. Or similarly earthy/piney seasoning of your choice.

cover with tin foil and roast in oven at 375ish for an hour-ish, depending on how deep you've layered.

Yummy with yogurt, sour cream, or as is. goes well with dal--another cheapie for another day. we can eat meat again after the recession. mm. bacon.

22 November 2008

indictment of the MSM, from 1927

It is remarkable, all that men can swallow. For a good ten minutes I read a newspaper. I allowed the spirit of an irresponsible man who chews and munches another's words in his mouth, and gives them out again undigested, to enter into me through my eyes. I absorbed a whole column of it. And then I devoured a large piece cut from the liver of a slaughtered calf. Odd indeed!

(Hesse, Steppenwolf, p. 39)

exactly. precisely. this must be why I've been craving organ meat. ah the slaughtered calf. we are all anemic.

21 November 2008

snowy thursday

actually, it's friday. But the first day of real snow will always and forever be snowy thursday, in honor of the main day of snow we had in Swansea our first year there. the snow today didn't stick, but it floated in the air like fluff, resembling nothing so much as movie snow. ah, when reality matches representation.

I finished Tom Robbins' Jitterbug Perfume yesterday, a party gift from my sister's wedding earlier this month. the happy couple put books from their own collection about on the tables and guests, as a result, enjoyed fighting over and claiming various texts as the evening wore on. because readers know readers, and this means that your wedding guests know books. and so. the choices spoke volumes about the choosers. we scored three books: Robbins, Hesse's Steppenwolf, and a book about latitude. or longitude.

Robbins' book is about perfume, immortality, and beets. after a traumatic tooth-breakage in my childhood after which the dentist told me I could not eat anything that stained (blueberries, cherries, beets) I failed to explore the glory of this particular root until a trip to Australia when I was 18, when I ordered a ham sandwich "with salad." the last bit translates from Australian to American as: "with cold beet slice." This is not a good introduction to beets. While in Swansea we were reintroduced to beets through two avenues: Paris and the organic veg delivery. The latter involved a huge paper sack of various veggies, most of the time (for we were in Britain) various unidentifiable root vegetables. when beets came in the bag, they usually were accompanied by their greens--beautiful dark green leaves with blood red veins that stained everything in sight when cooked. And the beets were fabulous. Nothing tops roasted beets, parsnips and leeks. Nothing. Okay, maybe like two things top it. okay three. Paris because we discovered already cooked, prepared whole beets at the markets there. chop, add pepper, and eat with plain yogurt. could not be more fabulous.

turns out my tooth has not been overly stained, and my happiness has improved with the beets. I therefore recommend both Robbins' book and beets. good luck, and wear an apron.

20 November 2008

down the squirrel path

The upside of living in a wealthy community planned in the first decades of the 20th century is the attention to space--public space integrated with private. Throughout our neighborhood, we have pathways that run between houses, marked sometimes with discreet signs, but othertimes just turning off from the sidewalk and going seemingly nowhere. Exploring them is an exercise in trust, as is all exploring--trust that they will lead you somewhere, trust that you'll be able to find your way back, trust that you aren't inadvertently trespassing and, if you are, that the person whose land you have "violated" fails to own a gun. Little things.

Luke and I discovered the Squirrel Path a few weeks after arriving--it leads off from the end of a cul-de-sac through hedges down to a choice of steps wending their way down the hill. There are indeed squirrels, and leaves, and views of the sunset at the right time of day. And very few people tend to use these paths, at least not when Luke and I explore them. Perhaps no time for exploration. Perhaps these are known territories for many long-time residents. Perhaps steps are too 20th century for folks.

A word of thanks to those elite planners, putting together this suburb, who felt that pathways to nowhere were important. That climbing up and down stairs on foot might take precedent over climbing into the SUV (they also didn't allow garages when the community was built--there were shared stables which could accommodate your fancy horseless carriage if you had one). Here's to walking, to watching the leaves change, to the surprise of the first snow in the air.

I call this philosophy not the Middle Way, but the Squirrel Path.

12 November 2008

Barack Obama is NOT today's most articulate African American Politician

Has everyone else out there noticed Cory Booker showing up all over the place? I think I saw him first on election night coverage and I thought he was great, but then he was on Rachel Maddow's show and he was just unbelievably impressive. So I had already become a fan when I caught the Bill Maher from last week and he exceeded my already high expectations. Don't get me wrong, the guy has no shot at national office, and I'll tell you why: 1) he refers to Pericles and 2) he uses Latin.

Check it out:

04 November 2008

I Voted!

Last time, in central PA, we waited 2 hours in a retirement home to vote, in a precinct that overcame its previous record for numbers of voters at about 10 am.

This time, in Baltimore, we waited for 5 minutes in the basement of a church (address number? 4700. Love it). I had three books in my backpack just in case. So much for optimism. While waiting in the short line, a woman left the polling area with tears in her eyes. "Big election" she explained.

Yep. Didn't know what she meant really until I was tapping the touchscreen to vote for Obama/Biden. Something about the ritual of it. Millions of people doing this same thing, today, all over the country. The buzz of excitement in the room. The nervous energy. The historic stuff about voting for a black man, too. Almost two years of watching the campaign, debating, cheering him on, and it's not really real until just then. Brings a tear to the eye.

And now the wait begins.