Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I was alone in the house for a stretch of hours, a little miracle, and I didn’t waste a minute. I was trying out a new recipe for salmon blackened with a spicy rub. Along with it, some asparagus made the way I always do, and for dessert, rice pudding with strawberries. Every time I cook fish inside, someone inevitably hollers, “Oh, eeewww, pheww, it stinks…” and this recipe was particularly aromatic, so I had the windows open, and though it was hot outside, there was a lovely warm breeze blowing in and it felt so good on my skin.
Listened to the show Saturday, and it was not bad. I’ve been quiet, I know. It’s nearly summer, and I started with my stack of books a bit early. I’ve been reading, in between doctor and eye exams for the kids, while waiting in the car at interviews, while dinner is cooking and just after mowing (instead of a nap). Reading Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle and Susan Cain’s Quiet. Bits and pieces of Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath, and a must-read on Kindness in an article from The Atlantic, and I just today picked up Charles Portis’ Masters of Atlantis. Reading up on recipes in waiting rooms, and old notes from the kids when they were very young, and emails that have piled up in folders needing cleaning up. Words upon words, words which follow me into my dreams where they fill meadows and pile themselves up in stairways to the sky. There are shelves lining my dreams, vast walls reaching over continents filled with books I’ve yet to read, and dusty paths behind paved with books I’ve already read.
I can smell them, those books. The mossy must of some, the clean sweet fresh of others. Covers that crackle, bindings that groan and crack, pages that whisper as I turn them with my eyes. Dreams of books and people reading books, and the lives they hold within (both the people and the books) and the sound of the word book, and the feel of books in my hand. The pull to open and to begin, the draw of willing suspension of disbelief, the wonderful loss of myself in the pages.
Yes. Books. Let there be books, always. May you have books near you, always, waiting. May you have time, and the presence of mind to take that time to choose one, to open it, and to let yourself dissolve awhile into another place and time, to embrace an essayed thought, to listen to the voice speaking from a wilderness of pages. May you be taunted, lulled, haunted and kept by books and the words they contain, from this day forward, until death do you part. And that’s all she wrote, just as the buzzer went off and the pasta bake was done, just right.
Here’s a light and creamy dream of a treat, just right for a hot afternoon in June.
Orange Pineapple Cream Mold
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 11 oz cans mandarin oranges, drained
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
1 cup orange juice with pulp
1 cup boiling water
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 16 oz container sour cream
1 8 oz can crushed pineapple, drained
Line bottom of 6 cup mold with desired amount of orange segments. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sprinkle gelatin over orange juice, let stand 1 minute.
Add boiling water and stir until gelatin is dissolved
Add sweetened condensed milk and sour cream, mix well.
Fold in pineapple, nuts and remaining orange segments.
Turn into prepared mold, and chill 4 hours or so until set.
Place onto lettuce and garnish as desired.
Refrigerate leftovers. Makes 10-12 servings
You can make this one in a pretty bowl and sprinkle extra mandarin orange wedges and walnuts on the top.
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I was out on the deck this time around, sitting in a comfortable chair and drinking iced tea and thinking about life as usual. Sometimes I think I think too much (I’ve been told that along the way) but I can’t help it. Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living, and I must say I agree. Thinking is right up there with feeling when it comes down to some of what makes life good. But that’s not why I do it; I give myself over to thought because it’s my nature. I remember, long ago, and even not so long ago, my father asking me, “Now, what the hell were you thinkin’?” after I did something on the foolish side. A question which also reinforced the importance of thought. And the risk of not thinking.
Like most people, I think a lot about relationships, and people in my life. I think about “what-ifs” a lot, too, and mull over, on occasion, the “what the hell was I thinkin’?” times. I think about how to get myself out of messes and what’s coming up next and why certain things happen and why others don’t. I think about my mortality, and how I’m going to pay my taxes on time, and what I’m going to bake tomorrow and what Mr. S might be doing at this very moment. Sometimes I let myself dwell in memory, those days that have taken on a golden glow.
We’re celebrating our son’s graduation from high school, and the birthdays of both daughters this week. All a big deal. All important. Each requiring some planning, a good amount of forethought, a measure of creativity, some forward-moving energy. This week, I find myself remembering the years these three young adults were young children. I think about how quickly time has passed, and those repeated warnings: “Enjoy these years; they pass all too quickly.” I knew that, because I was a child once, and it was no time at all between kindergarten and graduation, and between graduation and now. Poof!
I was reminded recently about the moment, and how important it is to inhabit them. I’ve been working on it. Impossible to inhabit each one, but I have gained appreciation for the Pause, which I’m honoring at this moment, and for the fine balance between Thought and Feeling, and how each embraces the other, and how sometimes they fall away briefly like a tide pulling out, and what remains is being alive in this moment: the clock ticking on the wall, the even breathing of the sleeping kids, the refrigerator’s hum, a train approaching in the distance, the sun rising and spilling itself on the birch leaves, the smell of my coffee, and of the strawberry cake I’m making for our older daughter, the damp of the air on my skin, the click of my fingers on these keys, how my heart is beating — even and strong. This is where Life is.
One of the best things to wake up to if you’ve got a lot going on is a pan of egg bake ready to hit the oven. Mix this one up the night before, and you can sleep a little longer in the morning.
Aunt Jill’s Egg Bake
1 lb bacon (or 2 lb pork sausage)
4 cups milk
1½ tsp salt
1 tsp mustard
5-6 slices bread, cubed
3 cups grated Swiss and Cheddar
Brown meat and drain. Beat eggs.
Add milk, mustard, salt and bread to eggs.
Stir in cheese and cooked sausage or bacon, and pour into a 9×13 greased pan.
Cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Bake at 350 for 25 minutes, uncovered.
Let stand a bit before cutting.
Serve with juice and cinnamon rolls.