Put a cork in it

A fine local restaurant has a wine steward named Mr. Cork (he’s actually the owner, but if you ask about a wine, here comes Mr. Cork). That fills me with such glee as cannot be explained. But I don’t drink wine, so when I assess the meal I had the other night, I can’t bring the wine into it. I believe the table had a couple of bottles of a Pinot Noir from Cloudline. There was a general sense that this was a Very Good Choice.

I had the French Christmas dinner: pate, lobster bisque, rack of lamb, peas francais, with a slice of buche de noel for dessert.

What I didn’t realize until partway through my meal was that I had never had lamb before, aside from the odd gyro. I had to beg the waiter not to bring out the little ramekin of mint jelly–considering the Mintcident of my childhood–and he was gracious enough to agree. That didn’t stop my brother in law from minting up the place in a gleeful disregard of the mint sensitive among us.

The pate was wonderful, the buche de noel flavorful, and the lobster bisque to die for. I wasn’t sold on the peas, but that is probably due to my shocking lack of bacon love. They were more like bacon with peas than peas with bacon, and I could happily live my life without ever having bacon again.

But the star of the show? Lamb. It was is lovely, very pink and very tender. And the next morning I thought about it and said, “I ate Bambi!” only it was more like “I ate Lambi!” and I felt some guilt.

Food guilt. I’m not often prone to it, though I really can’t justify eating mammals to myself. I like meat, but I might like pillaging villages if I tried it. That wouldn’t make it an ethical choice.

I can eat lobsters without a qualm. Perhaps I should build my diet around shellfish. It’s workable so long as I never decide to become an observant Jew, but I figure the whole atheism thing I’ve got working will prevent that from happening.

And since I won’t be able to afford much, this could be the weightloss plan of the century. That’s what’s wrong with vegetarian diets. I can afford too damned much rice.

Julie Ann-iversary

I have now officially been married for eight years. What, you may ask, is my husband smoking? I can’t answer.

I’m a pain. I can’t deny it and it would be unhealthy to try. On top of that, I forgot to get him a gift and had to scramble around at the last minute. Don’t cry for him, Argentina; he’s making out like a bandit.

Detritus groan

Tin can

Never let them give the ashes back.
Never tuck the corpse into your pocket–
leftovers tinned, or hair inside a locket.

When my sister’s dog died, I had only one bit of advice–don’t get the ashes back.

When we picked up our beloved Tuffy’s ashes, we found that he would have fit inside a soup can. No matter how many movies I had seen with people carting around urn of Uncle Vernon, I wasn’t ready for a life to shrink to Cream of Chicken. The tin had flowers on it, of course, but I suppose Tuffy would have preferred the chicken anyway.

He’s been dead for a couple of years. Why am I thinking of this now? Murder will out, I suppose, and that cat killed something inside me for a while–optimism.

Tiramisu and Tigger, too

There are times when living in backwoods Ohio is fine and times when it makes me rend my garments and crawl under the hedge. Today is one of the latter days.

And it’s all because of dessert.

Some evil person mentioned tiramisu in my presence. Bastard! Don’t you know that I can’t get that here? I used to be able to buy tiramisu gelato at the store. They stopped stocking it. BASTARD!

Pardon me while I gnaw on this root. Mmm. Tasty.

The first person to comment about how the cutest little bistro down the street has tiramisu dies. Or gets a very stern glance. And makes the baby Jesus cry.


But worse than that, he’s dead, Jim

But Soon

I’m writing speeches for my father’s wake,
deciding how I’ll hold my hands and head
while speaking calmly of the newly dead.
Enunciating grief without mistake.
I will not pull away if strangers break
my spine in crushing hugs, attempt to thread
their fingers through my own. I will not dread
their platitudes or pity, and will make
myself a smiling puppet. Casseroles
will bring me solace. I will never cry
in public, nor permit my hands to tremble,
nor fuss when dripping calla lily bowls
leave lasting rings on the piano. I
shall be as still as that man I resemble.

This poem is getting to be pretty ancient, an artefact of my father’s first stroke. What frustrates me about the damned thing isn’t anything in the poem. It’s my inability to do anything else. My father died two years ago, a couple of years after this poem was written, and I have yet to come to terms with that death, emotionally or poetically. I’m still writing speeches for a wake that is long past, deciding how to hold my head instead of deciding how to hold my pen.

I’ve had glimmers of being able to break out of it, but then I slump back into a general malaise. Blaming the dead for my inability to write poetry. Now there’s a mature attitude.

I don’t have writer’s block, I have writer’s don’t wanna. I don’t wanna push past this. I want to be past it, but not to do the work to get there. I think part of me even thinks that it’s disrespectful to my father if I get over it. I don’t know. I’m writing speeches, writing speeches, writing speeches.

Those who wolf can’t read Wolfe

I was a teen. My friend Jo loaned me a book, Memoirs of an Invisible Man.

I began to read, and I became violently ill with a stomach virus. It wasn’t the book’s fault, I don’t suppose, but it didn’t matter. My stomach thought it was the book’s fault. My brain is in thrall to my stomach and dares not contradict for fear of revolt. If there is one thing you can be sure of in life it’s that you do not want a revolting stomach. Trust me.

In any case, the stomach won. The book was Bad. Evil and No Good. The book caused more queasiness than mayonnaise in the sun. I gave it back to Jo who, safe in her ignorance, didn’t know that it was barftastic.

Years later, I found that my boyfriend had a copy of the book. Despite that, I still married him, thereby proving that it’s occasionally fine to upset the stomach, but only if there’s sex involved.

Fast forward to Friday. I was reading Gene Wolfe’s Shadow of the Torturer. (I had qualms about checking this out of the library, though my husband assures me that they’ll just think I’m reading about politics again.) I was hungry and had some leftover chili in the fridge. Too much chili for one bowl. Too little chili for two. I got a bigger bowl and I wolfed. Verily.

Oh, and did I ever pay. But that is another tale, a colorful one. Let it just be said that I became indisposed and that Shadow of the Torturer has become only the second book on my stomach’s hit list.

If I were honest, though, I’d admit that I don’t really mind. It’s a good book. I was far enough in to say that. And far enough in to say that I wanted to escape it, wanted to tear myself free from its relentless melancholy. I chose an awfully dramatic way of going about it, but guilt free. Next, my stomach is planning the overthrow of Communist China through the consumption of spring rolls. Never underestimate its power.

Honk if you’re an anthropomorphic penguin

I just realized who I sound like. Topper.

No, not the little man with the ghosts. The little penguin with the scarf.

If that isn’t at least tickling the dusty edges of your memory, then you’re no child of the seventies. Poseur! Er, not that you claimed to be a child of the seventies. Maybe I should lay off the cough medicine.

Topper, you see, was a lone penguin, crying out in the wilderness of Germany, when Kris Kringle find him and, well, no. It doesn’t make sense. But it was stop-motion animation and Kris Kringle looks like my brother-in-law and don’t you judge me!

Surviving is Underrated