Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Fairy Dust

If it would only make it all go away. Sprinkle some on this post and it too, will disappear.

In the course of my reading I come across a word or phrase that's especially scintillating. It's something I'd use as a title to a short story, a blog post or perhaps a chapter title in a book that's trapped inside me. I came across just such a phrase in Peter Robinson's book, In A Dry Season.

The two other books I borrowed from the library at the same time to tide me over a cold and snowy weekend were returned Monday in disappointment. One, the story of a library cat, I label ugly schmooze. I love animal stories. Merle's Door is probably one of the best dog stories I've ever read. I find that the "library cat" book is panned by my library angel who read somewhere that the supposedly true story is a fake. The other, the follow-up book after the book that inspired the movie Field Of Dreams, is an insult to the reader. The author takes a humorous way of describing persons, places and events and flogs it without remorse. For example, if I were to assume the author's pose, I'd describe myself as Gavrillo, the goat bearded man. Throughout a story about Gavrillo, I'd refer to him as Gavrillo, the goat bearded man. Endless repetition, if you get my drift. I'll return to the musings of Gavrillo, the goat bearded man.

Because I didn't write down the phrase and this morning's search was fruitless, all I have is a memory of a clever way of writing about life. Do not despair. In The Week, I ran across another one:

..." I hope he gets what he deserves, a collective shrug and yawn. "

It's a subtle put-down without shouting, fisticuffs or gun play.

Yesterday, when the temperature struggled to rise above 3 degrees by noon, I did the collective shrug and yawn. Then I got out my cookbooks. There are thirteen hundred things I SHOULD be doing. In my garage workshop I have a church pew I'm going to saw in half and refinish into two hard benches. One will go into the entryway as a place to sit and remove boots and other winter gear. The other will go up for sale or be installed in a panoramic location outdoors for me to reflect on the human condition or do penance. I was raised Catholic so there is a mote of sins I've probably committed in my ensuing heathen years. I work at home which is a curse and a blessing. Yada yada yada.

My cooking skills are much like the rustic furniture I create. With a healthy dose of inspiration, I take leftovers and make something useful. In yesterday's case the leftovers were buttermilk and cabbage. The buttermilk became ricotta cheese and the cabbage-crunchy cabbage salad. In the interim, I surfed the French cookbook.

French cooking and me do not get along. Given that the frogs drink too much and slather heart clogging butter and cholesterol in their recipes, it's no wonder that the national death rate from heart attacks is alarming. A recipe will sound enticing, yet call for creme fraiche. Unless one has a bank of refrigerators in which to culture creme fraiche, you're stopped dead at creating this culinary delight. ...And no, there isn't a cool spot anywhere. I frequently put up "Beware" notes warning Dawn there's a pan of swill in the closet, a bowl of this or that in the summer kitchen or "watch out, do not spill" warnings as a result of yet another cooking spree.

Spare me a diatribe about the French. My ancestors on my mother's side came from Alsace Lorraine. I secretly want to wear a beret, go around pinching women's fannies and uttering Oo La La at every woman except those who live in Lafarge, which Johann characterizes thus: " It takes three women in that town to make a complete set of teeth." Johann said it not me. Since he once dated a woman there, I assume it's the truth.

The French cookbook has a recipe for yeast dough. Combining half the ricotta I made previously and eliminating the 3/4ths cup of butter, results in tender, flaky rolls. We have nothing in the fridge to put on the rolls. That calls for a road trip for sliced mesquite turkey and Virginia baked ham. I drop off a plastic bag full of my fresh rolls at the liberry, stop off at my mechanics garage to cancel an appointment and check the movies at the Village Market.

When I amble down the stairs this morning, the cat is nowhere to be found. Strange. I remember hustling him out of the studio before we went to bed. Dawn complains of a cold draft wafting from the back addition to the house. I close the french door with the cat lolling on the cedar chest watching varmints out the double door windows. Run back upstairs, no cat. Check all the closets. Open the studio door. Look in the basement. NO cat. The thermometer on the kitchen window hits -20. Noooo. We sometimes call him flash for his ability to sneak out without being seen. Did he sneak out on the last trip outside with Mandy? God I hope not. He is not the same cat that I found on a -10 February night, sleeping under the neighbor's deck.

Last place to check is the garage. When I grab the keys to the garage and open the door, he runs out into the breezeway. As luck would have it, I've been heating the breezeway and garage with ambient air from the wood furnace in the basement. Garage temps are in the high thirties. My potatoes in the summer kitchen must be kept at or near 40 degrees. The Pooch, as I write is sleeping comfortably on the warm throw at the back of the couch. Mandy is curled on the cushions of the couch. A trip outside for Mandy is a race to chase the birds at the feeder, pee next to the pine tree and drop a load on the driveway before racing inside to my praises of "good girl".

Minus twenty degrees is a little much when you walk outside in slippers.

And so we come to the end. As I eat breakfast, I glance out the east kitchen window and sparkling bits of snow drift by the window. Fairy dust? It's sunny outside. Not a hint of a snow filled cloud. When I get up to look at the phenomena, there's a fog like haze off to the hills in the east. It appears that fog caused by some unknown has been frozen into ice crystals.

If it would only make the weather disappear.

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