Friday, April 29, 2011

Like Buttah

I didn't intend to watch the Wedding of the Century, as some over-excited commentator called it. Today was the day of the annual Literacy Bee, in which I was participating as a member of Team KAOS (Kent Area Orthography Society) and I had spent most of my dream time spelling words like "fescennine," foehr" and "Boeotian." This is a fundraiser for the literacy coalition, and our team had already won it twice. So I woke up around 5:30 a.m. and decided to divert myself by watching the Event. First I had to listen to the likes of Baba Wawa, who has a habit of telling you much too much trivia, and others blathering away as the royals left Buckingham Palace for the Abbey.Gawd, they were so annoying. I could have turned the sound off, but then wouldn't have known who all those overdressed, mega-hatted people were, and what's the point of watching if you're not going to learn one royal from another? I did recognize Elton John, looking sweaty in the Abbey, bless him.

Before Kate showed up, there was much speculation about what the queen would be wearing. Well, HRH appeared on the red carpet, looking like 1.) a giant daffodil or 2.) one of those butter sculptures so beloved by Midwestern state fair goers. I almost went out to the kitchen to make toast to go with her, but Kate, whose dress has been the subject of much discussion, was about to make her entrance.

It seems that she had borrowed her grandmother's wedding dress from the dowdy fifties. (At least it wasn't like that outrageous monstrosity that poor Diana was burdened with. And I mean burdened; that dress was wearing her, I do believe, poor dear. She could have bee sheltering a passel of street urchins under that thing.) So Kate looked okay, if a bit retro.

So she and William were solemnly married, and now it's on to married life. The word is that they will not have a household staff (right!) so Kate will have to contend with the dried up blobs of toothpaste in the sink and hearing :"Honey, have you seen my epaulets?" and "What! Chicken ala Me for dinner again?" like any other married couple. I wish them well.

I got to hear the magnificent "Jerusalem" ringing through the Abbey. What is it about that song? Makes me all verklempt, and I'm only a teensy bit British. I had to miss the royal carriage and all because I had to get back to studying "keratomileusis." "autochthonous," and "xanthosis" for the bee. Those words never came up, but we won our third title. I missed on the word "propitiate." Go figure. I was SO prepared for those other words that I blew it on a simple one. I threw in a "c" instead of "t." But we won it anyway, thanks to the level heads of the other two team members. And I can get back to simple words and Spell Check.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Mum's Day

So here is an opportunity to bring a tear of joy to the eye of the old lady in the rocking chair: a nice little illustrated memoir of the life of a mother from another age. It's better than chocolate or roses, since it will last 'way beyond the second Sunday in May. She can leaf through its pages when lonely, sigh over the quaintness of another time and place. I'm tellin' ya, it's a fine gift. Would I lie?

By the way, what do you think about the "Three Cups of Tea" scandal? I can guarantee that every word in MY book is the absolute truth. It's called "May: A New England Childhood." and you can go to, click on the Bookstore tab and type in that name, or my name. Very easy and they ship fast, so it will be ready for the big day. If you want to throw in a few chocolates and a rose or two well, that's okay. Or if you're a mother and would like o gift yourself,m , hey, do it.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Mystery

I have mentioned my underwear before ' in spite of the fact that such things used to be called "unmentionables." But, hey, we're in the 21st century and "reality" TV seems to find nothing unmentionable or unshowable.

When I did mentioned my unmentionables, I wrote of my favorite underpants, the cotton ones with the lacy elastic waistband, and how they don'[t seem to make them any more. For that reason I treasure them, the somewhat well-worn ones I have had for a number of years. I started out with six of them. This past year, one pair disappeared and I had only five. I have no idea where that one pair went. I am not in the habit of leaving my nether garments scattered about. I did not do that even in my younger days. I was not that kind of girl, as they used to say.

So this week, when I did the laundry, there was another pair missing, so now I am down to only four. How do these things go missing? I do not hang them out on the line , at the mercy of a passing pervert. (There was actually someone stealing underclothes off clothes lines a few years ago. I don't know if he, or she, was ever caught, but in any case, mine were never in danger, not being hung outside.)

I have, of course, scrounged around the washing machine, since things can get caught up inside the spinning tub. One of my sister's song hits is "The Lord of the Socks," a lament on the phenomena of finding only one sock of a pair in the laundry. The Lord of the Socks eats them, but she wrote nothing about his appetite for underpants. I mean,m yuck!

So I am slowly losing my favorite smalls, and I have no idea what has happened to them. They are not he sort of thing your average transvestite would be interested it; too plain, too unsexy. And I don't know how that person could even get at them, or how any person could. I know that Dupree has not taken them, even though cats do like to sleep on clean laundry.

I guess this will just have to be a mystery.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Whole Lotta Singin'

In the past two weeks I have managed to take in three operas...and there's another coming up this Saturday. On April 9, I got in two in one day. The first was the Met HD live broadcast of Le Comte Dory, with adorable Juan Diego Flores, a bel canto comedy by Rossini. The opera started at 1 o'clock and Renee Fleming announced that Flores' wife had given birth to their first child within the hour. At the intermission, he said that it was born at 12:25 and he still made it to the Met by 1. That's dedication, I'd say, and he sang like his usual angelic self. I've see him in three operas now, and nobody has died in any of them.

The second opera I saw that Saturday was "Semele," by Handel, and it was a student production at the university. It had its comic moments, but Semele died at the end because she wanted to be immortal, like Jupiter, who had just whisked her off for a roll in the hay. She was good enough to bed,m but not worthy of deification, I guess. It was well done - well staged and directed, but there were some voices which need seasoning. I mean, after the Met production, how could any students measure up to that?

The last opera was an outstanding production by the Akron Symphony Orchestra of he great American opera "Porgy and Bess." The conductor started auditioning hundreds of local Black church choirs last winter, selecting a few singers for some parts and many for the chorus. The main leads were nationally known singers, but a couple of the local ones were just amazing. I had heard a concert version of "Porgy "with the Cleveland orchestra many years ago, but had never seen it staged. It was just wonderful, and the audience went wild with cheers and applause. Great stuff.

Coming up Saturday is "Capriccio," which I've never heard of even, with Renee Fleming getting to wear great clothes and being glamorous. Don't know if I'll like it. There are only a couple more of these things this year and it's been a very good year, too. Lotta good singin' goin' on.

Friday, April 15, 2011

What's for Dinner?

If I should ever become rich, the first thing I would do is to hire a meal planner/cook/. I enjoy eating, but I am not one who finds cooking especially pleasurable. I cook from necessity. The actual act of preparing a meal is not the part that I find the most boring. It's figuring out what to have. I mean a person can't just have chili every night, or spaghetti, or macaroni and cheese, to say nothing of wienies and beans. A person needs variety. There are people who eat out a lot and always get the same thing, but I am not one of those people. And finding variety at home is hard, requiring foodal imagination, of which I have none.

However, the Akron Beacon Journal, one of the daily papers I read, has always had really good, creative food editors who are also very good writers. I now there are folks who buy cook books to read, and I am also not one of those people. I do not watch any of the food channels on TV, finding them not very funny or thought provoking. But I do look forward every week to the Wednesday BJ food section. The current editor, Lisa Abrams, has written some lovely pieces about her Lebanese family's life and cuisine. She did a little piece on a neighborhood ethnic grocer/bakery store a while back which made me feel ass if I'd been there. It's gone now, of course, like all neighborhood shops. She also provides some great recipes for all kinds of dishes, and includes recipes from other sources. I have a little box full of them, almost all of which I have tried, and in many cases, repeated. Some are easy, some are not.

This past Wednesday, there was a recipe for a chicken mango soup, which looked pretty good, so I decided to try it. It turned out to be quite labor intensive. First I had to find mangoes, which took trips to a couple of stores. Then I had to find affordable limes and cilantro, which I found in one place. Then I had to find creme fraiche without going to Akron, which I did not find because I was already tired of looking, so I got coconut milk, which the recipe said I could do. I already had curry powder and cinnamon.

There was a lot of peeling, chopping, dicing. Peeling a mango is easy; chopping is hard because of the enormous pit around which one must carve. I misread the amount of curry and had to scoop it back into the container, only I scooped it into the cinnamon container by mistake and then had to scoop it out of that. (The next time John makes an an apple pie, there may be an unusual, but interesting flavor added.) There was sauteing, blending, stirring. I opened the can of coconut milk without reading the label first, not realizing that it solidifies while canned, which means you gotta shake it or roll it or whatever so I had to transfer it to a lidded container and shake the hell out of it.

By the time it was done, the whole house smelled wonderful and I was exhausted. However, it was the most delicious thing I've eaten for a while, and even better the next day. Now I shall have to make it again. It should be easier, since I know where to find things, and that I should shake the coconut milk can before I open it. And I Shall get a good night's sleep before I make it and perhaps a nap in the afternoon first.

All the favorite soups we have here, carrot ginger bisque and butternut squash (John makes that one) require a lot of chopping, sauteing and blending, which must be what makes them so very good. But tiring. And I would still like someone else to do it.

If anyone wants to try this, get some rest beforehand.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Little Restoration Work

Out house doesn't qualify as a historical property, but the in-house restoration expert did a little of his expert work on the front stoop. The 60 year old supports for the overhang had developed a rather disgraceful condition.

They haven't been painted yet because it has bee too rainy and damp. They are made of cedar, and I think they'll last for more than 60 years.

Although John mostly works with stone and old brick, I think he did a very nice job. It gave him a chance to use his new table saw and to develop a new skill.

And I am very grateful to have an in-house restoration specialist.