As a non-kid haver, I’m gonna argue here that age 8-11 is the best window to hang out with other people’s kids. I had some family in town recently, including 8-year old nephew Patrick. Most of my favorite moments from the visit were spent just me and him, walking the dog and talking about stuff he’s seen and stuff he thinks. No toddler fussiness. No teenager attitude. At this age, they’re just cruising around being little humans. It’s refreshing.
The wedge salad: Do you know it? A crucial salad event—half a head of lettuce, chopped down the middle and sprinkled with blue-cheese dressing, tomato, and boiled egg. Plus (if you’re lucky), more blue cheese crumbles, caramelized onions, toasty croutons, et cetera. I don’t do bacon. Aaanyway, I’d never even heard of the wedge until recently. I apologize for my tardiness on this matter.
Grey’s Anatomy: I’m watching the whole series, start to finish. Kinda melodramatic, sure—but there’s some wow moments in almost every show. Don’t start an episode unless you’re prepared to blow a night on three or four. Cliffhangers.
Going home: Fun is sorta fragile. It tends not to last. When the fun expires, you can feel it in the room like a drop in the air pressure. There’s a skill to identifying this moment and promptly saying goodbye.
The National, Trouble Will Find Me: Didn’t you know that The National had a new album? It’s nice. Fraught, and sad in a lovely way. Also, two out of thirteen songs have my name in them. A sign?
We all need things to look forward to. I’m looking forward to the new Coen brothers movie. Love you, guys!
So … set in Bob-Dylan-era Greenwich Village. Yall know how I feel about Bob. Also, cats, guitars, downtrodden folk musicians, John Goodman, JT (Justin Timberlake, for peeps who don’t know), and a bunch of other good stuff.
“That’s why all the same shit is gonna happen to you—because you want it to!” ……. I can relate.
Last weekend, for a whole weekend, all I did was what I wanted. There was blue sky in the afternoon. I worked in the garden. I skated several mini ramps and drank wine out of a honey jar while everyone else drank beer, and Lefty laid in the shade of a table stealing scraps when they fell like a good boy. It felt like summer. It was summer?
Roll Me Up And Smoke Me When I Die—Musings From The Road, by Willie Nelson: I’m gonna put this on my nightstand and pick it up now and then when I want to be told a little bedtime story that—before it really gets anywhere—always seems to disperse into a cloud of weedsmoke.
This Is How You Lose Her, by Junot Diaz: A book of nine short stories by this magnif Dominican-American writer concerning such summery topics as love and sex and obsession and stuff.
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle—A Year Of Food Life, by Barbara Kingsolver: I love me some Kingsolver. Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees are so, so good. The desert! Take me there! Aaanyway, this one’s a non-fiction, all about how she and her family “abandoned the industrial-food pipeline to live a rural life—vowing that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it.” I like food. I’m intrigued.
As I may have mentioned before, this here log cabin—the house I grew up in; the one my dad and grand dad built back in the ’70s when I was just a sliver of a pine cone inside my parents’ tinder box—was bulldozed recently to make room for a mansion-y type thing. Vacation home for the owner of the San Diego Padres I think? I could be wrong, I don’t follow sports. Anyhoo, I’m not sad about it. It’s sad to say goodbye to your roots, but I did that a long time ago. What’s nice is to think about the place and all the happy, wild days I had running around barefoot in the middle-of-nowhere mountains.
-Shot the plate-glass window out of the green house with a BB gun during an ill-fated target practice and got in the kind of trouble you still remember 24 years later.
-Climbed on the roof regularly to sit atop the chimney and feel free.
-Fell in the creek countless times—never drowned.
-Crept around in the pastures eating bugs and examining plant life.
-Woke up early on the first day of summer—smelled the green grass smell; heard the crop duster flying overhead spraying mosquitos—and knew instinctively that everything desirable was already around me in abundance.
French bread: The very fresh kind, from a real bakery—I’d forgotten all about it. Soft as a pillow with a lovely crunch. Employ it as a makeshift spoon to consume your bowl of soup, and be rewarded with joy.
Ray Romano: He’s got this salt-and-pepper, funny-awkward thing going that I’m pretty down for.
Sleeping easily: You don’t really appreciate it until suddenly you don’t have it—the kind of night when you fall asleep naturally and sleep deeply, waking only once to let in the cat and maybe lie there for a moment listening to the rain out on the lawn before slipping off again.
Milk Music, “The Final Scene”: Wild, beautiful stuff. Eight minutes, sure, but ride it out—it won’t be a chore. Let the reaper laugh, let the mountains crumble.
Oh hi. It’s Friday and I don’t have anything to say. I haven’t read anything or watched anything or heard anything or done anything good lately (with the exception of red wine and spicy almonds at Box Social with Trish the other night—which was a kinda chocolate sauce on the top of my boring week). Besides that, though, all I can do is live vicariously through Lefty and hope I stumble upon one of life’s unmolested softballs to dig my own teeth into, ya know?
Fresh, just-ripe strawberries can make your head spin. They’re deeply sweet and tragically tender. Wait too long to eat ’em and they disintegrate into a pile of mold and mush on your countertop. Wait too long to buy ’em and their season (the fleeting cusp of summer) is over.
With that in mind, I bought a couple pints of said berries last weekend and simmered up a tiny batch of homemade jam. No pectin or fancy canning equipment—just three simple ingredients (strawberries, sugar, a few lemon wedges) and a spell simmering on the stove. This recipe makes just the right amount—and the way the jam tastes is rivaled only by how a pot of bubbling strawberries can make your house smell. Divine is a pretty good word to employ here.
3 1/2 pounds strawberries, washed, hulled, and halved
2 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 lemon, quartered
Mix all ingredients in a heavy medium pot. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until fruit releases juices, about 30 minutes. Continue to cook, stirring as needed to prevent sticking, until thick and slightly darker, about 1 1/2 hours.
Chill jam in airtight containers up to 1 month or freeze up to 6 months.
About The Great Gatsby. It’s a movie—maybe you’ve seen a trailer or something? Yes? So, some friends and I went to a private screening last week. Champagne was involved, just like in the movie. Anyhoo, here’s my big verdict: I liked it.
Now, I’ve read some bad reviews but ya know I’m not gonna be too hard on it. The book is lovely and haunting—hard to pin down. The movie is a spectacle. They’re two different things—it’s okay. See, I’m a reader first and movie watcher second. I don’t need to love movies as much. I’m not spending hours and weeks of my life steering my eyes over tiny black markings on paper in an effort to divulge meaning. I’m just sitting here for a couple hours and I wanna be entertained.
So …. Go to see Leo perform. Go to hear how Jay Z and Kanye jazz up the jazz age. Go to see the costumes and the hairdos and the cars and the colors and the imagery. But don’t go expecting tears and truth and the best movie evah. Just FYI.