The writing is not going well. Has not been in a long, long time. So I turn to cooking. That’s been going better. Larry gave a qualified endorsement of the shad. Since the weather has turned March/November cold, I’m embarking on Hoppin’ John, which requires long hours on top of the stove. It’s weird to be making a New Year’s dish at the end of May.
Next up will be an adventure into the thousands of recipes that are languishing in my files. Some I’ve made before. Others have been hoarded from Mother and other good cooks. I’ll try to stick to the season. Given that we’re going from shad to winter beans to god-knows-what, I may be baking zucchini bread (an August special) next week. I’ll post a recipe or link to a recipe as I go.
Hope that the writing will return as I cook.
Tomorrow is the full moon. There’s green and yellow and red on the weather map. My contact lenses will not be playing nice till next week. I had planned a brilliant exegesis on … something … I forget. Time to settle in with a six-months old New Yorker and wait out the storm and bad eyesight.
I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the disaster inflicted by the Moore tornado. Following so close on the Newtown shootings it feels as though the Universe has it in for children. That period of their lives should be a time for joy and innocent pleasures. Instead those poor children, the ones who survived, will carry always the pain and terror of witnessing the loss of life and suffering. I wish for them the healing that only time can bring. And I hope that the people who offer support will have the patience and love to wait … to listen … to just be there.
The other side of this tragedy is the venal response of the congress creatures who opposed aid for victims of Hurricane Sandy, all those children, all those adults. Now they claim that aid for Moore victims is different. Oh, really? People suffering from a natural disaster. People who lost everything. People in many cases living on the fringes. Owners of small businesses who were contributing to the local economy. The only differences I see are 1) the Sandy victims lived east of the Mississippi River; 2) the Sandy victims weren’t “their” people.
To end on a more positive note. There’s been much talk about the resiliency of the human spirit. I believe without any doubt that it is true and will remain so. Maybe I should change the headline to “Inspired.” When the Okies see us all as human I will.
Between lenses grown scratchy in the bad air and pollen and reading glasses that just interfere, I’ve been struggling to read. I think I’ll just give up on both, which means no driving at night and no leaving the square mile around my house. Not a bad thing.
Feeling mournful today as I made Shad à la Ma for the first time without Ma. The pieces were all there, and it tasted OK. Of course it lacked that certain something that I don’t know if I’ll ever recapture.
As I chopped and seasoned and squeezed lemon, I remembered with great fondness the day last year when we spent the morning chatting and gossiping as I learned the procedure. I remembered that after I left she told her brother, “Yes, Liz acted like she almost knew how to cook!” That was greater praise than my father ever bestowed. The best I ever heard from him was, “It tastes almost as good as if I made it myself.”
Aside from the lack of Ma’s gentle touch, the shad pieces were huge. For the last few years I have bought two filets per person. This year I bought two for Larry and me, and cut them crosswise. They wouldn’t fit in the baking pan at full length. With two more filets we’d be eating shad into bluefish season. I didn’t buy the roe, but it looked enormous too. Maybe gargantuan bodes well for future generations, or maybe they spent too much time hanging around the nuclear power plant in Waterford before hanging a right at the Saybrook Point Light.
Another mystery: I paid about half the price of previous years. We’re talking Connecticut River shad here, so I’m hoping that the drop means greater supplies because of clean water. Or it could just be that we had a cold spring so they returned later and hung around longer to mate. (Would you like makin’ it ice-cold water?) Whatever the reason, I’m not complaining.
Here’s to you, Ma, thank you for sharing.
My computer looks like a pack rat’s nest. I freely admit to having a moderate case of hoarder syndrome. Downloads, websites that I mean to read, links to books that I read for a bit, then bookmark for future perusal, and on and on.
The efficient Blogstuff folder contains my friend Betsy’s Fractured Anecdote and this one.
There’s stuff labeled tech that seems to have disappeared. My research folder has libraries – Russell, Wesleyan, World Cat, plus Google News Archive.
There’s an organization problem between books and shopping. Barnes & Noble and Amazon show up in the shopping folder, but twenty-one books await purchase or borrowing in the Books folder. Among them: The Face of Connecticut, Cutting for Stone, and Marion Cannon Schlesinger.
The shopping folder also includes Ring It On! I would without doubt scratch my face! What was I thinking?
“Food” has one entry: Epicurious.
The myriad news sites include Slate, Marketplace, All Things Considered. The Courant, Patch and the Middletown Eye round out local sources. I am adding the Onion. Along with Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, it makes the most sense these days. I’m ditching the radio stations I listen to on iTunes but will keep jazzradio. Pandora and Spotify will go, since I never listen to them.
Stay tuned, there’s more.
It’s possible that I began making a difference today, though not in the way I expected. A few weeks ago I saw a call to volunteer for a study by the American Cancer Society. I filled out an online questionnaire.
Today I went to the hospital to do the first data collection. I had to fill out another questionnaire, mostly same questions as the online version. These new contact lenses impair my reading, but there were glasses on the table. I tried a pair and experienced a severe case of vertigo. Tried the second pair, not so bad. One of the volunteers took my questionnaire and put a bracelet on my wrist. It fell off as I removed my sweater. She put stickers on my questionnaire and handed me the rest of the sheet.
Then she measured my waist. No one explained why, but ACS cites a study from 2010 (that was the study 2, except that one used Roman numerals). Larger waist sizes are tied to increased deaths from cancer as well as other diseases. “Larger” means forty-two inches for women and forty-seven for men. “Smaller” is less than thirty for women and thirty-five for men.
Next came the blood draw, or I should say draws as they took four vials, which will be “frozen and stored for future analyses of genetic and biologic markers of disease.” All those extra stickers went on to the vials. And then I was done, except that my bracelet fell off again, and I threw it in the trash.
The phlebotomist who drew my blood said one hundred twenty-eight people had signed up to volunteer just that day at just that location. She was headed to Weston on Saturday, and the woman next to her had been in Enfield a few days earlier.
It was nice to leave with a little sticker that says “Cancer Prevention Study- 3 Supporter.” I really hope that a great many people volunteer and that the study produces lots of terrific insights to help ACS wipe out this disease. Not knowing what to expect, I had looked up my grandparents’ causes of death. Turns out there was only one. My maternal grandfather, Peter Clark Lane, died of carcinomatosis. I’m participating for him and for Mother, who died of pancreatic cancer, and Daddy, who died of esophageal cancer. Maybe I can help save other people’s mothers and fathers.
I’m still seething over the seizure of AP phone records, and over Holder’s reaction: He’s saying that it was in the top two or three leaks of his career. But last year, when AP wrote the story about the threatened bomb plot, the administration was saying there was no threat. So which is it? I agree with various folks who say that the feds knew the source of the leaks and went after AP to build evidence for a conviction.
To the Tea Party folks who are outraged over the IRS scrutiny: Welcome to the world that the NAACP and other organizations lived in under Nixon, etc. Tell Congress to write guidelines to determine what constitutes a proper 501(c)(4) organization.
We are living again in the days of J. Edgar Hoover and Joseph McCarthy. The sad part, the perpetrators of this current violation of rights hide under the progressive cloak.
The U.S. Department of Justice seized records of calls made twenty phone lines (including personal and cell phones) belonging to reporters and editors of the Associated Press. The records covered April and May of last year and included offices in New York, Washington, and Hartford. DOJ claimed the records were needed to find the source of a leak about a foiled al-Qaeda bomb plot. The feds have not responded to the AP’s request for an explanation, nor has they indicated what they were seeking.
I’m not sure what to make of the fact that AG Eric Holder had to step aside from the investigation. He said the leak was among the top two or three worst he’s ever seen. Before the AP story ran the government said there was no threat to the American public. If there was no threat, where’s the harm in the leak?
AP also asked for the return of the records, which DOJ has so far refused. Now, the feds have to confront heavy media hitters Cox, NPR, the NYTimes, and Politico, led by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. These folks will not let the issue fade until they receive a satisfactory response.
Congress is adding its voice. I’m not generally a fan of Connecticut’s senior senator, but in this case I hope Dick Blumenthal goes for the jugular.
If journalists have to try to do their work with the threat of Big Brother tracking their phone calls, we will all suffer.
The Center for Community Partnerships ended on a thought-provoking note with the presentation of Middletown’s foray into urban renewal. I knew nothing of this era in the city’s history, which began in the early 1950s. I had witnessed the last stages of the plan in action with the elimination of the African American neighborhood in the South End circa 1974.
It turns out that the original renewal was intended to compete with such towns as Hamden, by enticing businesses to the central part of the city.
Earl Lin’s presentation stressed the democratic methods involved in the early stages. Voters approved the first steps by a ratio of nearly two to one. The turnout was spectacular given that people had to travel through a blizzard to vote.
The man behind the plan was a thirty something who happened to be president of Wesleyan University, destined for Princeton and Harvard. He proposed razing a cluster of tenements that occupied several blocks between Main Street and the river and replacing them with commercial and government buildings, including a new city hall, which is now bursting at the seams. While there is some commercial activity today, much of the area is occupied by parking lots (not free) and the palatial courthouse (a state project), which lurches out at anyone driving by on Route 9.
The unanswered question for me was, what happened to the displaced residents? Lin said they were not poor but rather working- and middle-class even though they lived in squalid conditions. A trip through the city directories of the 1950s and 1960s should provide the answers.
A final observation about the Center’s project: Based on the engagement between the Wesleyan students and the audience, I would recommend expanding the program by approaching high schools in Middletown and the surrounding area. As my headline indicates, the history presented here is dynamic, involving real people, and siginficant events. No dead generals to bore us. I also suggest that Comcast use some of its required community access hours to film these presentations, supplementing the papers that will be available online.
Please forgive any typos. My contact lenses are not playing nice.