Monday, March 31, 2008
Pretty basic: cut up a 5 lb. duck and render surplus fat/ make cracklins. With a film of duck fat remaining (you will get about a cup for other purposes: confit, etc.) , salt and pepper, then add the duck pieces fat side down, and brown well on all sides: 15-20 minutes, over moderately high heat. (BIG pan: 12" at least) Season with ~ 1/4 t. salt, two branches fresh rosemary, and two bay leaves. Turn heat to low, add 1 1/2 lbs. Parsnips, peeled and cut into 1 1/2 pieces, two c. shallots peeled only, and two large heads divided but unpeeled garlic. Cover and steam for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are just tender. Scoop out vegetables and duck with strainer, draining latter on paper towels.
Serve with green salad/ mustardy vinigrette, and baguette. Eat duck with fingers, like fried chicken. Enjoy garlic with baguette and spit hulls on plate, as I have been doing for the last 30 minutes or so.
Pepin again, this time from *Jacques and Julia Cooking at Home*: pretty and big almost coffee table book, but with some good recipes, hints, etc. inside.
Serves 4 normal appetites, and who wants to encourage gluttony? You gotta know by now I losing that fight.
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Anyway, I didn't have the ingredients, nor want to chase them down, for Boeuf Bourguignon, though I had the onions and a lovely cut of chuck, so I froze the Chuck, but the duck wasn't gonna be thawed until tomorrow, so what's tonight? All the fish looked so lovely last night, and I have this delicious malo-lactic fermented (In stainless, not Oak barrels) Chard, so off I go, with recipes in my head, looking for trout.
It's a simple recipe, thinks me: Herb-encrusted Braised Trout. Ah, but it calls for 12 3oz fillets, which seems excessive, so I have two: a little over 8 oz. With a mushroom medley and a seasoned breadcrumb mixture: no problem. On detailed reading of the assembly, problems begin to show themselves; it's a layered dish, like a Lasagna, but I only got two fillets to layer. Furthermore, I must cut the proportions of the mushroom mix and the crust WAY down. Way FURTHER down next time, but that's what this is about. Of course, after everything from olive oil to reconstituted mushrooms and broth to raw fish is laid out (my counter space being twice the size of my chopping block), Miz Scarlett T. demands ...? What? Not food, a clean box, nor attention, it seems, but demands, nonetheless. A decision must be made. (Yea passive voice!) She loses, for now, and sulks.
Clearly, the accompaniment for this needs to be simple, and well-known: a Salade composee of Bibb Lettuce, fingerling potatoes, leftover green beans, and scallions.
Everything comes out surprisingly tasty, given the sturm und drang and the skullsweat that went into producing it. Too much crust, but hey: bread crumbs, a dab of oil, and chives. It's obvious that, with the right balance of ingredients, this is a simple and delicious winner.
Thank you, Mr. Pepin, even if you do like ketchup on your burgers. And thanks to your lady friend (RIP) for the dry rub blend. The recipe in question is from Jacques Pepin. Simple and Healthy Cooking. Rodale: 1994. It's a beautiful book, with charming illustrations by the author, whose paintings were on display at a museum in the town where I shop for vegetables and bread; the menu for the reception was as you may imagine: to make the poor foodie crazy with longing.
Why the hell did I get an invitation?
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Southern writer. Catholic writer. Hmmph: writer.
Perhaps my very favorite beginning of any novel is that of *The Violent Bear It Away*; may I?
Francis Marion Tarwater’s uncle had been dead for only half a day when the boy got too drunk to finish digging his grave and a Negro named Buford Munson, who had come to get a jug filled, had to finish it and drag the body from the breakfast table where it was still sitting and bury it in a decent and Christian way, with the sign of its Saviour at the head of the grave and enough dirt on top to keep the dogs from digging it up.
The letters were collected and edited by her friend Sally Fitzgerald and published as *The Habit of Being* by FSG in 1979.
My last year of Seminary a granddaughter of John Dewey taught a required “Christ and Culture” course in which many of the students were coming in as shocked Bible Belt believers. We read *A Good Man Is Hard To Find*; they couldn’t believe the author was a Christian. I loved reading The Misfit’s lines aloud: heh. If you looked carefully, ya could see the tiny explosions going off behind their eyes.The Library of America volume is all you need, and you do need it: both novels, both major short story collections (there are none better in English), and letters and essays.
Rest in peace and rise in glory, Miss O'Connor: great American writer.
Monday, March 24, 2008
When I got married, our daughter had two demands to go along with the deal: a new kitten and a jar of pickles. Hey, she was barely twelve; she's thirty six now, and still a bit of a fruitcake, which is just fine with her Daddy.
Well, the kitten was named ("Wait for it!") PJ, after the baby in the strip: the littlest member of the family. It helped Amy to think she was bigger than somebody, I suppose. Shortly thereafter, I was driving my cranky step-daughter and her totally stoned cat in a twenty three foot U-Haul with everything we owned from to , to drop her off at her Father's (the reason she was cranky: step-mother straight out of and a wus who wouldn't stand up for his daughter; I nearly punched him at her first wedding), then two more days of driving in strange country ( ) with a pill down PJ's throat every morning to keep her amiable.
PJ was a bit of a pill after we got to ; she keep running across the road, getting her hip broken, then spending the night to work the pins out, and to deposit moles as gifts at the garage door each morning. We and the Docs finally gave up, which resulted in a screwy move as she planted her right rear foot, but it didn't keep her from doing what she liked. We kept her until Amy moved to . Poodge and Peedge were some of her nicknames; as usual (including the current case sleeping in the armchair behind me) I ended up as primary care-giver, and got pretty attached to the little varmint.
Friday, March 21, 2008
I don't know what to do anymore. The urge to give up, to not vote, to withdraw is overwhelming. But we can't. Can we?
March 21, 2008 12:18 PMNo, we can't give up, which doesn't mean we must go to every fight we're invited to. It also means we don't have the luxury of giving in to that sense of helplessness we all feel.
It may seem to be an incredibly long string of defeats, but it depends on where we start from. If we took it for granted things have mostly been just and fair throughout American History, and the Indochina Wars were an anomaly, it does seem inexplicable. If we accept the cultural myth that ordinary people have power because it's the American Way, we wonder why "our" government is so unresponsive.
It was these questions, in part, which drove me back to the study of American History after I came back to "the World". I am more convinced, after thirty five years as Amateur and Professional, that the U S invasion of Indochina was not an anomaly, but just another damned example, and that ordinary people only rarely and indirectly make political decisions, and don't follow through very well.
My point is, we are not working against forty years only, and a rare mistake, but the American Experience for over four hundred years; Vietnam is who we have always been, and the rest of the world has begun to tell us so, which may be, much as I hate to consider the possibility that there may be one, a positive contribution by Dubya. His callous arrogance has finally pushed the rest of the world far enough to get them to say what they really think of us.
One of the themes that made this history possible was the notion, derived in part from Puritan views of their New World mission, that America was to be an example--"a city on a hill"--for the rest of the world to emulate. Once they meet us, they will do their best to be us--native peoples, exploited immigrants, other countries, etc. Given this belief, it may be difficult for us to hear that they don't want to be invaded, used for cheap resources and labor, etc., so we may continue to lord it over them as "the only Hyperpower".
It may be one of those "camel and needle" jokes, only I'm not laughing. Individually, most Americans are good people you'd like to know; collectively, we are the world's a**hole. So, despair is not an option, even though the job is a little bigger than we allow ourselves to notice most of the time.
Peace and solidarity, all y'all.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
The Indochina Wars are ancient history to a good many Americans, for we are a radically ahistorical people: always ready to pull up stakes, "Move on to Texas", and forget what we left "back there". It always surprises me that it's been forty years (on April 4th) since I arrived in Vietnam; the memories are often more immediate and pressing than what I did this week. I am not the only one; I got an Anonymous comment this week on the "Quang Tri, Summer, 1968" thread.
Still, many of us--the survivors of violence, substance abuse, and self-destruction, the victims of which have outnumbered those killed during the war since the early 1990s--now have been warehoused in relative comfort; we lead quiet and modest lives for the most part, in out of the way places. We go far out of our way to avoid any semblance of conflict. We are remarkably gentle and often loving people, once you get through the veneer. We keep a low profile, rarely expressing ourselves with those we do not yet trust.
Remember Gulf War I? Run by Vietnam Veterans like Schwartzkopf and Powell, it was the Anti-Vietnam: quick, clean, did the job and came home to much acclaim. We vets were glad to join the acclaim, in part because we knew it was partly a guilty reaction and a wish to recognize us, however belatedly and indirectly. No need to say more to civilians; I've been in group with GW I vets.
And now we are at the fifth anniversary of the (Forgive me!) Godde damned invasion and occupation of Iraq for the domestic political benefit of the worst President in American History and his collection of fuckwitted callous arrogant thugs to distract the public from their utter incompetence and cluelessness about how to interact with the former colonial world. They lie to exploit the fears of the people for their own gain, and they trash what were once honored symbols of our country as they lead us, please, Godde, not irreparably, into fascism. And, once again, as in the Sixties and Seventies, our Congressional leaders put their Constitutional duty off the table, and posture for re-election. And what have we veterans been doing?
When I got back in 1969, I hoped, and prayed, and worked, and begged, that the American people would learn something from what we had done. That way, at least, there would have been a positive outcome from the blind arrogance, the futile overwhelming violence. Yeah, right.
The speed with which we as a people went from outrage to burial was stunning; despairing, I turned to my own affairs. Stunned and disgusted , I watched the Reagan/ Bush counter-revolution; if this is what my fellow citizens are capable of, better for us both if I avoid them.
And then Junior, who managed to make Dan Quayle look good, the world's best argument against inherited privilege, was given the golden opportunity; so he continued to read My Pet Goat until his handlers took him off-stage. Promptly, his advisers hid the evidence they had ignored, and made up a connection against a country, Poppy's old nemesis, full of oil: surprise! They drooled nonsense about "Mushroom clouds" which the press release transfer media presented as fact. After all, they were Very Important People in Positions of Public Trust.
Some of us not so important people demonstrated, of course. We argued the case was flimsy, and that war wasn't the only, or even a good option. But, within a couple of months, Captain Codpiece's media consultants declared "Mission Accomplished!". But nobody came home yet. And now nearly four thousand will have come home in secret, in aluminum tubes at midnight. And tens of thousands will drool in powered wheelchairs while their mothers adjust to a life of caregiver. And hundreds of thousands will fight to get what their government promised them, and be denied, until they give up, or kill themselves in one way or another: unnoticed again.
Five years. A presidential election. Until January of last year, a completely complaint Congress run by a man with slaves in American Samoan factories. Five years of demonstrations. Of supporting alternative candidates, including combat veterans slurred as "soft on security." Of ranting on the internet (Natassihusb--"Nat"; read it backwards) Of a Fascist court. Of a completely embarrassing foreign policy on display to a world that was sympathetic, briefly, in 2001, until they were told their pathetic and stupid help wasn't needed. Of the decimation of professional Intelligence, Foreign Policy, Defense, and Legal personnel, who were crushed and driven out by the the White House, AKA Dick Cheney.
And now we who have cried, and begged, and wept, and despaired to be delivered from the plague we called upon ourselves, are being driven from our homes, are losing our retirements, and face the whirlwind. We do not even dare to ask for justice from the Hague, for example, but only that the storm cease, and we be left to piece together our lives.
It has been a very painful five years to live through. The Abu Ghraib scandal was especially difficult for me, who had dealt with POWs. "Disappointing" seems too much an understatement, but we veterans are used to disappointment after all this time. We learned, long ago, not to expect anything for what we were asked to do, and did, except heartache and bitterness. We learned to watch others succeed, while we struggled. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama's former Pastor, has been in the news for his "anti-American" views lately; the difference between him and a lot of us, and not just veterans watching the horrors of another useless war, is that he's being noticed.
There's "shock and awe" this last couple of weeks that this is going to cost us more than $3 trillion dollars in direct costs, and multiple times more than that over the coming decades, even if we ended it promptly in the Spring of next year, which all sane people hope for. But there are the other costs, in lives diverted and destroyed, in so many needs not met, in all the slow, little seen ways we destroy our own security and pull our own civilization down to the dust. This war, too, will continue to bring woe to many who were young a few years ago.
Let's end this.
The Invasion of Grenada
I didn't want a monument,
not even one as sober as that
vast black wall of broken lives.
I didn't want a postage stamp.
I didn't want a road beside the Delaware
River with a sign proclaiming:
"Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway."
What I wanted was a simple recognition
of the limits of our power as a nation
to inflict our will on others.
What I wanted was an understanding
that the world is neither black-and-white
What I wanted
was an end to monuments.
W. D. Ehrhart
Sunday, March 16, 2008
And who wouldn't? Good-natured, to everyone including children, but ready to spit in the eye of any transgressor, and never hiding that fact, even from children. She was too much like her mother, perhaps, who was proud of a supposed connection to Thomas Jefferson (grandmother's oldest son, Uncle Alvin, did genealogical research which, ironically, demonstrated that, not only was Jefferson an upstart (everybody in Virginia knows that) but so were his well-born Randolph in-laws, in comparison to their family. heh.
Alas, both Aunt Myrt and her Mama--Grandmother-- had an abundance of the family gift for butting heads; I'm sure Myrt's teen-age years were dramatic. Thank Godde for Johnie Frizzell, who rarely but effectively kept them both from going too far. Grand dad's "Now, Hattie" told her when she was pushing it; she counted on him to do it.
Aunt Myrt grew up in a company town--the lumber company owned the town, the buildings, streets, sidewalks, etc., and employed all the town officials. SE Oklahoma was not entirely civilized at the time; the New Yorker, in a 1970s profile of then Speaker Carl Albert, pointed out it was hard to get a jury there in a murder trial, in that most believed in "Judge not, lest ye be not judged." Aunt Myrt enjoyed taunting the town cop on the streets as a young teen, who would happily have used his hog-leg .45 to end the matter, except for her father and her mother's brothers. One of my family pictures shows great Uncle Orville in a Black hat, with his right hand drawing back his dress coat in a practiced gesture; you can't quite see what you know is there.
She married, several times, her great love being the Native American Denison, who died working on a pipeline in Texas. She was a "Rosie the Riveter" at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma City, and I doubt she gave up her independence willingly, except on her terms. Her terms were "Ol' Bill Jones," who was very sweet to me, but not always to her; he had been on the Italian Front in WWII, and, in retrospect, clearly had a bad case of PTSD. They fought, and eventually split.
By the time I was in seminary around 1980, she was living next door to her son (and my mama's childhood playmate) South of Oklahoma City. There were deep eroded gullies behind the house, and beautiful red sandstone rocks shaped like blooming roses which are unique to the area. I liked to stop and spend an afternoon and evening with her on my way to visit my folks. Within a few more years, her son and my father had died, she sold the farm, and moved to the old folks' housing in my hometown where Mama was. She had a few more "good" years, until Dementia took hold, and even that in her style; among other things, she began to hallucinate her handsome young Doctor dancing naked on the rooftops across the way. And what's so bad about beautiful young doctors dancing naked for you, I ask?
I like to think my ninety year old Aunt, that lovely, lively strong loving woman, was dancing naked into Heaven, with whomever she damned pleased. We are so quick to call it "Dementia", because it no longer fits into our arrangements. But I like to entertain the notion, though it may well offend her mother--my grandmother--that such states are an advance welcome party from Godde, welcoming another beloved child to her true home.
I love you, Aunt Myrt.
Friday, March 14, 2008
-- George W. Bush, during a video conference with military briefers in Afghanistan
Garry Trudeau's "Say What" from Doonesbury
Thursday, March 13, 2008
He is, by all accounts, a terrific speaker/ campaigner, and he is telling us something we want very much to believe; we can work our way out of this disaster together (the last seven years or the last thirty: your choice). Last Autumn, just before the selection process began in earnest, I hoped so, too. I do believe this nation is deeply, seriously off course, for reasons that have become legion: torture, wiretapping, the erosion of production, an economy based on one real estate bubble after another and vast debt, unnecessary invasion and occupation of whatever country the idiot damned well feels like, the stalking terror of illness, and so, on and on.
We need change, and need it desperately: absolutely. What change?
Brzezinski as Sec. of State or again as National Security Advisor, as under Carter? Going back far enough is change of a sort, I suppose. An incremental approach to health care to put more of the burden on the sick? Not much change there. National Security policy seems to be mostly open options, or a blank slate.
Given the alternative of a traumatized ex-fighter jock with a legendary temper who's spent the last quarter-century in lobbyists' pockets, Mr. Hundred Years' War, whose a F***in Republican besides, I suppose I must hope that Obama is better than than I've been able to sense thus far, especially in the last six months.
How 'bout a little help, friends? Please, no links to long news items or cheerful statements about how so many young people are back in the process and especially no BS about making nice with the Republicans across the aisles; my memory is not that short, or that bad. Why, in general policy terms, do you believe Obama will be a good President? Hell, for now, even half-way decent: no more incompetent, well-meaning outsiders, please.
I'm serious; I need this.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Here are the rules:
1. You have to post the rules before you give your answers.
2. You must list one fact about yourself beginning with each letter of your middle name. (If you don’t have a middle name, use your maiden name or your mother’s maiden name).
3. At the end of your blog post, you need to tag one person (or blogger of another species) for each letter of your middle name. (Be sure to leave them a comment telling them they’ve been tagged.)
1. is done
2. R is for rebellious. I don't like to be told what to do.
O is for Onery or Obstinate, depending on dialect
B is for brave. I've been told this by people who should know; and no, I don't
mean the official version
E is for evasive, which makes these things a pain in the patootie
R --What wuz that other one? Risque or Raunchy sense of humor, though I can't remember
jokes to save me.
T I am something of a tease; it's one of my ways of expressing affection
Six people is ridiculous, given the length of time this has been running, and given some of the more...deserving, shall we say? tagged me.
Play if ya want or have time: Jane R, Mimi, Kristin, Paul, Crimson, and Nina
Monday, March 10, 2008
The grooming is necessary in that her fur is so long and thick it becomes tightly matted despite any brushing she will allow, which becomes an irritant. It is especially bad around her neck and throat/ chest, which she begins to scratch constantly; this is the sign she's as ready as I am to "git her done." (Not very in either case)
It is a semi-annual reminder how much I miss her when she's not around. Whatever did I do before she came?
Friday, March 7, 2008
The original caption was "Redneck Mansion", with the implication that the owner/ residents are from the shallow end of the gene pool. The location is likely some area where infrastructure, development, and resources do not flow endlessly from competing megacorporate Cornucopias, where ingenuity and making do are more valued than what's in your wallet.
Why stay where living is so hard? The beauty of unspoiled land, the real community of friends and extended family, suspicion that chasing rats in a gas-guzzler in the suburbs while your teen-ager deals Cocaine is not worth the move; in short, that the American Dream is not about Consumerism. A lot of us pay lip service to those values, even as we wait in line at Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts to chant our well-rehearsed order.
What catches my eye, as a former Architecture major, is the planning of a small community--six or so family units--with the landscape. The footprint is not large, the "found object" or reclaimed units, are arranged creatively and attractively in a unified composition, allowing for public and private spaces. There is a cold frame for gardening, a pond, a weather worn teak bench, planted borders, ivy from the balconies, a lawn chair or three. I doubt a bulldozer was used to scrape the land bare, followed by more machines to dig, and deposit chemicals, finally topped by a spray on lawn.
I find this a hopeful place, vital in ways that most suburbs will not be until they are obsolete forty years after they are built. Think of almost any condo development, with their rulez about your tacky picnic blanket over the rail or your child's toys visible after 5:00 PM.
Let them bury themselves, or, better yet, don't let them at all.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
The schismatic heretic Schofield has "resigned", but still claims to be bishop of the diocese of San Joachim, Province of the Southern Cone. The Primate of all Nigeria, his indirect patron, responds to questions about ordering a massacre of women and children with a smile and a "no comment." , though he says Muslims don't have a monopoly on violence. Both are still invited to Lambeth this Summer, as is the bishop in the CoE who is notorious for declaring "Once you've had Black, you'll never go back." in reference to his serial Gay affairs, while the good family man, the Bishop of New Hampshire, may not go as an "official" guest because he is "immoral."
The two candidates for President (you don't think I'd count a Repiglikkin, do you?) are tied, and practically indistinguishable, and the MSM-created identity gotcha contest is practically the only subject of discussion, though Bob Herbert (one of the columnists the NYT has no reason to be ashamed of) pointed out this week the War has passed the 2 trillion mark, and will go to 3 trillion before anyone can imagine it will be stopped. The gain thus far has been to turn a tyranny into a failed state. The long-term obligations to the U S economy, should the Chinese allow us to meet them, will be considerably more. And only a few advocate televised drawing and quartering for the guilty parties, who are legion. Pre-existing illness, long-term illness, and being wiped out by corporate fiat are common forms of economic death in these United States.
Given the best of foreseeable worlds, Dubya will not start WWIII, but go quietly, leaving all this to his Democratic successor. Even with massive and unobstructed effort, some of the damage since the Reagan era will not be reversed. The destruction of the Constitution, the arbitrary seizure of power by the President, will not be relinquished by anyone in that office, for the best of reasons, of course.
I hang with and comment on a progressive feminist blog, where most are secular and a number declared Atheists or Agnostics. I love and respect them, I prefer their company, I was one myself many years ago, but I can no longer grasp what gets them up in the morning and through the day. From whence does their help come? Everywhere I look today I see human evil, in the church and without, in high-minded and gutter politics, in my own heart, for that matter; ya don't have to go looking for trouble: already here, and thriving.
So, if history is just "one damned thing after another", do I have any remedy, any advice? No, I don't "have" it, but I know where I'm looking for myself; you can take it or leave it: it's always been free.
37 For God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah; *
they shall live there and have it in possession.
From today's Psalm in the Daily Office. Rulers fall, and the high are brought low, but the people, though they suffer, often unjustly, continue.
"Happy are they whose trust is in the Godde of Israel: Rachel and Leah"
paraphrase of Ps. 146
A peaceful night and a blessed end be to all of us