Sunday, September 30, 2007

French High Art?

I made a comment earlier about the current Grand Master of the French Legion of Honor's being moved to tears by third-rate Altman, but edited it for (less snarky) content. Seriously though, what gives here, as I honestly don't see the appeal of either reconstituted (and dated) reggae or Buñuel.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Et voici le projet en cours actuel: a pair of mittens in a sky blue aran yarn.

Cuddly, isn't it? A little womb-like, maybe, as well? I think it'd be kind of nice to curl up inside to gestate for a bit, anyway. But then again, I'm usually in a curl-up-fetal-like state nowadays.
I think that this might have supplanted Tzu Hsi's tourmaline as the girly thing I most lust after.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Done! And out the door. I love how it turned out and am thinking of making one for me (with matching gloves, maybe.)

Next project: Something involving an ice-blue wool from a place called Harmony and double-pointed needles. My fingers have been itching to work this pattern for a couple days, now.

I guess I'm getting over my block.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

No Herodotus last night. Instead, Pablo decided to treat me to a bit of the Book of Ether.

Maybe it's time for another pilgrimage to the Burned Over District, as it's over a year since I've been back.
Plenitude IV

Damsons, Macs, itty bitty Seckels and a couple heirloom tomatoes from the roving Farmers' Market in Harvard Square on Sunday morning. I also came home with two Spaghetti squashes, a cauliflower, and a christmas-tree ful of choux de Bruxelles.

Summer's too hot, too dry, too much for my nordic constitution. I'll take Fall with its crisper evenings, shorter sun angles, second lettuce crops and other good eating over that any day.
Plenitude III

The first day of Fall here is when Raphaella exchanges the hubcap scarecrow for the hot peppers on a hanger:

She's probably got enough of these to make two or three more such strings, but I think a lot are going to end up pickled with the remaining green tomatoes.
Whenever I get stressed out, I dream of quitting and apprenticing myself out to a bakery.

I was a baker once. It paid my way to college. Gosh, how I loved that work.
Perfect Storm.

Let's see: three different versions of the P and L; four different categories of receivables; all the financials for two subsidiaries plus three federal grants. Then there're the operations reports. Quarterly position control. Payroll. All due now.

Sheesh. No wonder I'm waking up in the middle of the night with the heart racing and difficulty breathing. No wonder I'm nauseous in the morning and starting to lose hair again.

Monday, September 24, 2007

For weeks, I'd fretted over schematics for a cabled watch cap. Finally, yesterday, inspiration struck. (Love it when that happens.) With any luck, it should be speeding its way overseas by tomorrow morning.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Safe and Holy Yom Kippur to all my friends.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Someone overstepped a boundary at work today. I reacted as my conscience dictated, and was called, among other things, an ingrate. I am so unhappy right now that it took all my energy to not burst into tears several times throughout the course of the day.

The lack of professionality happens as a matter of course and I adjust my attitude accordingly as a means of survival. What happened today, though, was personal in nature and totally took me by surprise. God, I hate it here.
An Admonishment from a fellow I'm developing a considerable respect for.

The foreign affairs side of things won't change, so I'm not thinking a lot about that. What worries me considerably is what's going on on the domestic front. On the surface it all sounds like American-style house cleaning (Pension Reform! Employment Choice in the Public Sector! (Sarkozy used the unfortunate term "Cultural Revolution" to describe his plan yesterday.) Judiciary reform! Education Reform!), but I honestly don't think that it's going to play out that way, given the entrenched management culture there.
In fact, I get this cold feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I think about it.

These booties knitted up quickly. The problem was (is/ever shall be) sewing the buttons and weaving in the ends, which I finally managed to do the other night. Though meant for a newborn, they ended up toddler-sized due to the gauge of the yarn. (I know, I know! My fault entirely!) Still, they're pretty nice, and I'm thinking about tinkering with the pattern to make a grownup-sized pair.
Though so tired that the day felt like a (bad) dream, I managed to not only get home, but get home fast and even run up the stairs of the Prospect Hill monument last night.

Brought in the mail, watered the tomatoes, clicked the radio on. What a nice surprise to find Jessye Norman singing the Four Last Songs as royal blue gradually replaced the band of tomato red to the west:

Im Abendrot (Eichendorff)

Through trouble and joy we have
walked hand in hand;
we can rest from our wanderings
now, above the peaceful country-side.

The valleys fall away around us,
the sky is already darkening,
Only a pair of larks still rise
dreamily into the scented air.

Come here, and let them fly
For soon it will be time to sleep
and we must not lose our way
in this solitude.

O broad, contented peace!
So deep in the sunset glow,
How exhausted we are with our
can this then be death?

Raphaella had left another bowl of soup for me in the back hallway, so that was dinner. Since last night was a break from Herodotus, I picked up my Larousse Gastronomique and read about the cuisine of ancient Greece and Rome.

I was too tired (and a bit demoralized) to tick another project off the knitting to do list. More than anything else, I want to make something nice for me, but there feels like too many other things to complete first.

Opted instead to read a couple essays from Second Person Rural. Mr. Perrin's writing soothes me; I like to imagine him across from me at the kitchen recounting these little stories of country life. This time around, "quaint" covered bridges were my lullabye. After the second or third time of finding myself using the book as a pillow, I forced myself up to turn off the light.

The sleep was so deep that I didn't remember any dreams or wake up until the alarm went off this morning (a rarity).

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Only got about four hours of sleep last night, so am dizzy and weak tired.

How the heck am I going to navigate my way home much less tackle any of the work I'd scheduled for myself tonight? (yawn)
L'Autre Chaussure a la Baisse.

So I see that the five major rail worker unions are planning to strike on October 17th in response to Sarkozy's proposal to cut "special" SNCF employee pensions. It's going to be intesting to see how this plays against the Minimum Service Law voted into effect last month by Parliament.

Also, the teachers' union is crafting a strongly-worded denunciation of the recent budget cuts and suppression of positions. In addition, they are looking to have a "week of action" followed by a strike before the All Saints' Day holiday.

I never envied the French their way of life, and I'm feeling particularly badly for the rail workers and teachers right now. Teachers in particular have had it badly, both under the Socialists and the UMP.
Last night, it was ham steak with fruit sauce (Steak with apples/powdered cloves/a bit of brown sugar and some rum soaked raisins baked at 325 degrees for 1/2 hour), puree of potatoes and broccoli stems, steamed broccoli and apples for dessert.

Book six so far: Ionia falls, Samothrace falls. Histaeus gets his just desserts. Lots of conflict between the Greek states. Bad jokes regarding "entering bodies."

Things are definitely starting to heat up.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I loved how the force of the water feeding the turbines feeding the machines above made the building rumble. I loved thinking about two horses worth of power could reduce 10 hours worth of carding work to 10 minutes. Thank you, Mr. Smeaton.

There were three mills at Sturbridge: a sawmill, a carding mill and a grist mill. All had different ways of using the stream that flowed beneath - this one used the speed of the water through a channel to turn a turbine, which in turn powered a series of gears. (Wooden Gears with Leather Belts!) The gristmill had a breast wheel (a large wheel on the side of the mill that harnessed gravity to turn a series of gears within). The sawmill used a somewhat similar setup to that of the carding mill, but I couldn't get close enough to see it working, unfortunately.
Stuff to ponder while walking to work:

If one showed evidence that a bird was smarter than your average Boston pedestrian, would that be saying much?

(Inspired by something I ran into earlier this week.)
Thoughts before heading out to therapy.

My last therapist really knew how to lay down the law: when I got all Good Will Hunting on her, she did the shrink equivalent of go after me with a rolled newspaper. I really needed that. Also, she was very, very smart - way smarter than me - and commanded respect. She helped me start the process of disentangling the past from the present. I'll never be fluid in this, but I am learning.

I'd go back to her if she were still nearby, but she isn't.

I like and respect my current therapist but I don't think she's capable of helping me where I need it. Whenever I'm down or anxious, she suggests going to the psychopharm for another assessment. I'm very smart (way too smart for my own good), but undisciplined and lacking in ambition. I realize this; thus far my life's just been a series of flights, of narrow escapes. No long-range planning.

She's not so organized, and doesn't seem to have it in her to dole out kicks in the pants or help with structure. I often wonder if I'm not better networked in her world than she is. What it gets down to is, though I feel safe with her, I'm starting to feel like I'm stagnating.

I don't feel like looking for another person, though. It's about as appealing to me now as dating or going on a job search. I could just stop going and worry about all this later, I guess. Don't know what to do.
Time marches on

Still Life with apples. The alentejo wasn't too tannic, as Portuguese reds can be sometimes. The cut glass platter under the apples was yet another objet trouve: I rescued it from the trash at work.

as do the Histories. Last night we finished Book Five and started Book Six - the Ionians' revolt and their subsequent takedown by the Persians. Pablo's a bit impatient to get to the Battles of Marathon, Thermopylae and Salamis, but I'm just happy to be along for the ride.

Though it's technically still summer, the cool air and lengthening shadows gave us the taste for more autumnal fare: pork chops broiled with tarragon and thyme, whole wheat kluski, and sweet-and-sour cabbage (sweetened with apples and a teaspoon of brown sugar, sauteed in olive oil instead of bacon grease). This was rounded out with an apple for dessert and some "unpretentious" Portuguese red.

After dinner, we took a walk up to Davis Square and back. Scored a couple of promising-looking end tables that just need a little love (some primer and paint wouldn't hurt, either). Lunches were made, then the bedtime reading commenced. Pablo went home to the Book of Mormon, and I curled up with my new love.

Since I've started getting extra walks in and cutting down on sugar and fat, I've lost 20 lbs and my clothes are fitting much better. Another fifteen to go and I'll be back down to my fighting weight. Maybe there is hope for me yet.
A coworker returned after a bereavement period for a violence that's sadly too common here. I am so happy to see her again, but am afraid to say anything. She's very reserved and I'm extremely shy. Not the best of combinations when one needs to communicate something.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Call me a cynic, but I'm not quite ready to join the squad leading the cheers for Team France.

What concerns me about all this, and I feel it's a pretty justified worry given France's habit of selling dangerous stuff to unsavory regimes, is what prompted Kouchner's announcement, what information is this based on, and what might they have possibly sold the Iranians (either directly or through an intermediary, say like Libya or Syria) that now has the potential to bite them on the ass?

It's just a gut feeling, but it proved surprisingly accurate (much to the Frenchie's chagrin) regarding the both the Libya deal and why the the Ministry of Arm Candy was sent as an envoy last July.


Interesting. Kouchner's claiming to have been misinterpreted by the media. Kind of like what happened over the weekend to Greenspan. If wishes were horses, etc.
Not very helpful.

The new roommate asked me where, if one happened to be in the mood for this sort of thing, one would go to meet a man in our general age range.

Took a minute to think about this. Honestly, outside of taking one's lunch to the park next to the local elementary school and being chatted up by fathers looking to score a bit on the side, I'd be damned if I knew.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Damn, I'm tired.

I don't ask for chaos, really I don't. And I don't seek out these situations.

Home - almost-crisis in which figure sleazy real estate agents and now, potential squatters

Work - another monkey slinging sh*t to take distract from his having dropped the ball

At least the love part, though inherently stressful, is relatively stable.

Really, I can't keep limping along with (at least) two out of three major aspects of my life being dysfunctional. I'm old. I don't bounce back like I used to, and I'm still trying to recover from literally being driven crazy by all this BS last year.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I like my new roommate: she's older, has a cat named Mona and is an art historian. The old roommate (the landlord's brother in law) was a positive presence in the house, but we had too much of an age difference and absolutely no common interests. Though I do miss him a bit, I am really happy with how things turned out.

Mona and Mamasan

Detente. That's Mona scrunched up in a corner on my banquette. Escher-esque, says Pablo.
Raphaella caught me on my way out this morning and contributed (again) to my lateness at work. What kept me at her door way after when I should have left was the gorgeous, warm, tomato-ey scent wafting by.

"You're not making sauce, are you? Smells like sauce. Gosh it smells good."

"No. Not sauce. I wanted to make pizza but Rosie said she wanted soup, so I'm making lentil soup. You want some? I'll save you some. You have to come over and get it, though." (She drives a hard bargain.)

"Of course I do, and I'll be over tonight. Promise."

Got home at a bit past six and heard the yell out the window: "Get over here!"

Dropped my bag on the grass, hopped over to her patio and let myself in.

"Sit down. You gonna eat with us tonight? Rosie'll be down in a minute."

"Raphaella, I'm tired. They kicked my ass again today. I just want to go to bed."

"Not before you eat," and she started ladling soup into a tupperware. "I warmed it up for you, so eat it before you go to sleep. You go to sleep, then you wake up too late to eat, and you get a stomach ache."

"No, really, I'm tired. I want to sleep first."

"Sleep first? fa'un culo.* Rosie's here, eat with her." The soup went from tupperware to bowl, cheese and bread (pocket bread and Jew'sh bread - pumpernickel, as she calls it) came out.

After dinner, Rosie asked me, "Did Ma tell you what she asked me this morning?"


"Didn't you tell her, Ma? Bev, she wanted to buy a new dress and shoes."

"What's wrong with that?"

"I got up in the middle of the night and decided I better get what I want for when I'm buried now. Jesus Christ knows what the kids'll dress me in." (I snorted.)

"Is there something you should be telling us?"

Rosie sighed. "She was getting more tests back from the quack**, and she thought that this time would be it."

Was really hard to keep from choking, but I held it in. "Well, when you gotta go, you gotta go, so that's good planning on her part. Raphaella: I can only assume you're not gonna want to get buried the dress you're wearing right now, right?"

I pointed to her muu muu, a pretty one with a navy blue background and pink and red flowers. If ever I find myself wearing muu muus, I want one like hers.

"No, 'course not."

"Well, then, get yourself something bang-up and some heels like you wore when you were younger. Oh yeah, and be damn sure you will me your housedress. I love that thing. However, I do get the feeling you're going to be around for a while, as the Good Lord isn't through with tormenting you. I know for damn sure that I'm not. That's why I signed another lease with Luc'. To give you another year of hell. You're not going to deny me that, are you? How fair would it be for you to die off on me now when I have a whole 'nother year to go?"

Raphaella laughed; Rosie just shook her head at us like she usually does.

"Bev, you're gonna get all my clothes, you know. I told the kids."

"Well, good. I need a few old lady dresses, as I'm just about an old lady myself. Do you know what a pani is? That's a Polish old lady. It's what I'm going to be. Someone has to keep up the tradition of harassing the neighbors and getting in everybody's business. Might as well be me."

At that point we were both roaring and Rosie even started to chuckle.

After I got up to leave, Raphaella pulled out a tin with six blueberry muffins. "Here, take one. I made them from the blueberries from Maine." She pulled one out of its cup still warm and wrapped it in a napkin. "Eat it hot, it's better."

"Can I save it for breakfast? I really want to go to bed and dream about it."

"Do what you want: it's a free country."

As I headed out the door, Rosie told me that she was actually going to call me last night because her mom was having a hard time breathing. Just as she was trying to decide between yelling for me and calling 911, stuff got better. I told her to call me whenever she needed to, that I was a light sleeper anyway, and that if anything happened, we'd take care of Raphaella. She patted me on the shoulder and thanked me, calling me the younger sister she never had. I slung my bag over my shoulders, took my breakfast with me and got outside just in time to catch last bits of red peeking out from under Royal Blue.


* This is Raphaella's stock phrase. It means, literally, "do a butt." Figuratively it has a variety of meanings ranging from 'f#ck you' to 'yeah, right.' The Polish equivalent that I use an awful lot is k'dupjasc (pardon the spelling) - a vulgar term to express something like "my aunt Tilly."

** Her doctor's not very good: in the time I've been here, she's been misdiagnosed as having a bunch of different cancers and endocrine disorders...our goal is to convince her to get a referral from one of her specialists for someone else.
Sniffling away in the bay window with my tissues and chips, I noticed a bit of red reflecting off the floor. Turned around to see the start of another sky by Parrish:

Ran out barefoot to the end of the block to catch things really lighting up:

Went back into the house and felt better.
Okay, it was partly the weather, partly hormones (allayed partly by sour-cream and onion potato chips, a glass of white and a good cry), and mostly this which got me down yesterday:

The Vanity of Power.

Six years have gone by since the September 11th attacks against the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington which burst open the contradiction between America superpower and vulnerability. For the first time since the war with Great Britain in 1812, the United States were attacked on their own soil*. They acted as a "hyperpower," looking to drag their allies, and, beyond that, the entire international community into a total war against terrorism.

They succeeded in forming the "Coalition of the Willing" to fight the Taliban, who'd welcomed and supported Bin Laden. They failed at recreating this alliance when they wanted to take Saddam Hussein down by force. The quasi-spontaneous solidarity of which they were the objects the day after September 11th, 2001 was reduced to, at best, mistrust, at worst hostility. The popularity of the United States and its President was never weaker worldwide.

In increasing surveillance and not hesitating to limit individual liberties (especially those of foreigners on their soil), the Americans have, until present, managed to save themselves from other Al-Qaida attacks. This does not mean that they have become any more invulnerable than other democracies. Six years after September 11th, 2001, they are just barely less vulnerable and are no longer all-powerful. If the United states is still the strongest militarily, their power runs up against, both in Afghanistan and Iraq, the harsh realities of guerrilla warfare. The technological revolutions in military affairs does not appear to be any more adapted to this situation than large battalions.

The political side of things over the past six years have not been particularly stellar, either. The Utopian idea of democratization of the Middle East has gotten stuck in the sands of Mesopotamia. On the other hand, the "Axis of Evil" has been strengthened with the Iran of Ahmadinejad. He looks to profit from the unpopularity of Americans and of the West in general, which he judges to be on the defensive everywhere - from Afghanistan to Palestine. Persuaded that George W. Bush, caught in the morass of Iraq, cannot engage in another conflict, he continues his nuclear program paying no mind to warnings and sanctions.

The American president is convinced that the present difficulties are but passing incidents in the scheme of things, and that History will do him justice. While waiting, he puts other western democracies and his allies in the most uncomfortable position: that between disapproval of a dangerous politic and petitioning the friendship of a great people who are mistaken.


La Liberation and Marianne (France's Guardian and Independent) had the tact to lay off, since they probably couldn't say anything remotely nice. I guess I'd have expected better of Le Monde.

Of course, the roles played and methods used to bring us to this point are not aboive debate. What's really getting to me is (aside from the historical innacuracies/rewrites...don't even get me started on France's part in all this since around the late 18th century) the clear relish with which the writer regards the takedown of the great, mistaken hegemony.

Having heard first-hand from practically 9/11/01 that we may well have deserved this from some members of my European contingent**, I can personally attest to there never having been much good will to squander. Reading this brings up the memories of the trauma of that day (as well as other traumas), makes my mind reel and my stomach churn.

(Had to give it a day before I could look at it again to translate, as the anger was giving me a headache.)

* Pretty major error in the second sentence. I wonder if this is a record.

** Really poor taste given the time and place.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Perhaps it's the gray, perhaps it's the date. Maybe even the lack of sleep. Heck, I'm probably premenstrual, too. Whatever the reason(s), I just feel so awful. All day long I've been on the verge of tears.

Hate this.
Last night was another restless one that ended with another one of my dreams of my needing to defend myself.

This time around, it was two women trying to break into the house. Instead of watching them from inside with the feelings of fear and hopelessness, I went out the side door and confronted them. One woman kept trying to hit me with a stick or a baseball bat but I kept up blocking and parrying (like my little brother taught me). After waking myself up, I remember thinking that they weren't terribly bright for not doubling up on me and for not using anything more damaging than the bat.

No more sleep after that.
What a nice, long, calm stretch of rain we're getting today. Hopefully it keeps up for another day or two and gives the yard a good soaking.

(Did it even rain in August? I don't think so.)
I'm glad that today's a gray day. Sunny skies and a summery feel would just be too much.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Rock on.

The youngest and last of the Three Sisters just turned 91. Best wishes, Aunt Jeannette, and here's hoping for many more happy birthdays!
This Summer's Numbers:

3.5 = number of weeks the Frenchie stayed

0 = number of weeks I got to stay in France

22 = number of potential roommates I interviewed in July and August

3 = number of interviewees I even could even remotely see sharing space with

15 = number of pounds I gained while on the new medication for my nagging problem

25 = number of pounds I've lost since getting off said medication, exercising more and cutting out as much sugar as possible

15-20 = number of pounds necessary to lose before I'm back to my "fighting weight."

9 = number of inches my ponytail's grown to

3 = number of inches more it needs to grow before I can lop it off and donate it to the people who make wigs for chemo patients

10 = number of jars of peach jam made/doled out

3 = number of cats in the house as of mid-August
There's been an awful lot of this going on, particularly in the past couple weeks. The relative lack of coverage compared to the fare jumper incident last Spring is kind of interesting. I guess it's not much of an issue as no one's trying to score a free train ride.

This teeny bit I can see for free in Le Monde tells me that for the third time in a week, rival gangs clashed. No injuries were reported, but there were 15 arrests. The fight started in a club in the 10th arrondisement and spilled out on the street. (The club was described as one "frequented by inhabitants of the suburbs to the north of the capital" - read: African.)

This snippet talks about fighting between the Def'Mafia (La Defense) and GDN (Gare du Nord) gangs after R & B night at a club in the 9th Arrondisement. Club patrons are described as being largely Sub-Saharan Africans dressed in American Rap Star (ghetto) style.

Le Figaro has a first person account by someone who participated in some of the recent gang fighting as well as an analysis on why the police are having such a difficult time with this. (I'm sure I'll get around to translating later - have my day job to contend with right now.)

La Liberation:

"In ten years, it'll all be resolved with gunshots. We're only a bit behind the United States."
(Ordinarily I don't bother with the French version of the Guardian's Anti-American fluff. However, given how things have been going in Dorchester and Roxbury lately, it's hard for me to find fault with this line.)

Efforts to coordinate anti-violence measures in Ile-de-France. (Uh oh).

Girls Enter the Fray.

The latest edition of Marianne's cover story questioned why the media in general chose not to cover the ongoing violence until just recently.

My parano self keeps thinking that this all goes against the preferred narrative of the new administration being Tough on Crime and keeping things under control, so folks would like to gloss over it. I hope I'm wrong.


Of course (somewhat tangentially related), this doesn't do much to allay these feelings.
In my efforts to spruce the place up a bit during the roommate search, I had a bleach-related accident that left a few spots on the (relatively) new slipcover and a favorite skirt. Nice job, Be.

Though it bothered the heck out of me, I don't think that anyone else noticed (least of all the new roommate).

I'm not a big fan of patching things up, as this requires sewing and I have a block against that. Knitting, however, doesn't bother me. Eventually, decided on some lacy flowers featured on a scarf I knitted up a few months back.

Positioned them over the largest spots, gussied them up a bit with some embroidery, then worked little stars/blossoms over the remaining little bleach pinpoints.

I have to say, I'm really pleased with myself on this.


Next project will be to fix the black spandex skirt that bit it on the same bleach puddle. I'm thinking of working some flowers in pastel-colored embroidery floss on size zero (lace) needles.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Plenitude II

Because the front plot is so sunny and on a slope, it's nearly impossible to keep things wet and alive there. I've tried just about everything to remedy this, too, from using a sprinkler to mulching and even levelling it. I always ended up with the same results: dead, dry annuals, wasted water and a gutter full of topsoil.

After about year two of knocking myself out fighting nature, I gave up and started filling the place with more drought-tolerant perennials. Right now, I think I have a couple varieties of stonecrop and some liveforever. Nice, low maintenance (save for the weeding), good for holding in the soil.

This summer, a coworker of mine who's an avid gardener with lots of money and space to devote towards heirloom tomatoes started asking me if I'd take some purslane off her hands. It apparently was growing so out of control that it was choking out her babies. Never one to say no to free, green and organic, I jumped at the offer and found myself with bushels of the stuff. What a treat!

How nice, too, to find out that this green, a succulent tasting a bit like baby spinach and watercress, was growing like gangbusters along side my purchased groundcover! I'd thought it a weed, but kept it there because it looked like a native variety of the expensive perennial I got at the local garden boutique.

Since there was so much of it, I had ample opportunity to share and experiment. (Turns out that my neighbors are crazy about portulacca, as they call it in Eye-talian. They only ate it raw, though. Until now, that is.) I've had it in salads, soups, omelettes, and, my favorite, stir-fries. All this was made even sweeter by my discovery of it selling for roughly $4-$5/lb at the farmers' markets that have cropped up volunteer-like in the gentrified areas of the city.

Edible purslane (Portulaca oleracea) has glossy, plump, green leaves and juicy red stems.

Don't mistake it for spurge (Chamaesyce maculata), which looks kind of like the good eatin' stuff save for flatter leaves with a red spot and spindlier stems, or you're going to get sick.


One of my favorite recipes so far:

Sautéed Purslane With Shitake Mushrooms

A couple handsful (4-5 cups) of purslane, rinsed thoroughly and broken up into manageable-sized bits

1/2 cup shitake or other mushrooms - either dried and soaked or fresh.

herbs (I used a couple sprigs of fresh tarragon and thyme, but a half teaspoon of whatever your favorite dried variety will work, too), salt and pepper to taste

A clove or two of garlic, minced

2-3 TBS olive oil

Heat oil in saucepan, then add garlic. When garlic is a bit golden (but not brown! Yuck!), add herbs, then purslane. Sauté until purslane is slightly softened, then add mushrooms and continue until those are tender.

Serves 2-3.

Great with broiled chicken, pork chops, steak, you name it.

Friday, September 07, 2007

My last thoughts before falling asleep are usually about the first stirrings six time zones away.

(Paris S'Eveille - - Paris Awakens, possibly one of the prettiest songs ever. Of course, Dutronc's no slouch. I guess you could sort of call him France's anti-Dylan with his suits and ties and sometime fun-poking at the 68 sensibilities. Nowadays he lives in Corsica with 30 cats. He's still pretty darn gorgeous, too. I'm pretty sure that he's still with Françoise Hardy, his partner since forever. Now, that's sexy.)

Sweet red and bell peppers were combined with cubanos, fresh garlic and a lone, green tomato to make a Marimekko-like stir fry. Delicious with a melange of beans and some jasmine rice.

After the Summer's excitement, an already anemic bank account was depleted. Current projections indicate a shoestring budget until mid November. For the moment, though, we're not wanting for anything thanks to a growing season that rivals the summer of the thirty jars of vinegar peppers, that of the zucchini "as big as baseball bats", or "the year we couldn't make enough peach pies." Already I've distributed a bushel of peaches between friends and have taken dozens of tomatoes into work. Greens from the side of the house provide twice daily salads and a stirfry of kale and or rocket a few times a week.

Ten jars of peach jam were flown off to the four corners of the Earth this week; apple jelly and butter will soon follow. Wild grape, too, if I'm lucky. (H's aunt, with whom I'd make jelly every fall used to say that I should sell Jam shares - I'd make a killing). The bounty is a bit overwhelming, but it feels good not only to not want, but to share and to see the happy expressions that come of this.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Left Behind.

Happily glowing from the dinner's wine and the excitement of the fireworks I was attempting to photograph, I only half-tuned-in to the speculation going on around me. We'd already heard that Landlord was going to go to NY for a year for business reason, but that wasn't going to happen until Fall. Plenty of time to plan, plenty of time to decide about the future. Let's just enjoy this bubbly little moment now, why don't we.

Suddenly, a van showed up in our driveway and an army of swarthy men descended upon the house. Landlord changed his mind apparently, and was moving right then.

Two days later, my roommate (the boy. I'll talk more about him later.) told me that he was moving back home to save up for college.

All of a sudden, I was alone.
I'd always wondered if my cycles of frenetic activity / drop-dead exhaustion were organic in nature; turns out they're not. The life I lead just seems to be structured into periods of compression followed by decompression.

Spring to Summer was nuts. This was to continue into Fall, but (mercifully), some of what was planned out/thrusted onto my plate ended up not working out. Hopefully maybe there'll be time to catch my breath, regain my strength, and find my lost voice before I take the next plunge this coming Winter.
Four years since I started the blog.
Six since I moved to Winter Hill and started the current job.
19 since I moved to Boston.

Am wondering if maybe I've been staying too long at what were always meant to be temporary situations.