Sunday, July 26, 2009

Trip to Venus

A week ago I ran away to visit my dear friend, Venus, and her family.

A drive down beautiful country roads, past sprawling farms and small pristine churches, I arrived in the early afternoon, bearing fresh plantains for our Jamaican feast of the evening.

An afternoon of girls gabbing, catching up and finishing off the kitchen work so the next few days would be all play and no work. Later we fancied our Jamaican Jerk chicken, fried plantains and a luscious garden salad.

The following day the picnic basket packed, we trailed off to the Daniel Stowe Garden. There, on the patio, we dined before our tour, then set off down the serpentine paths under arched fountains, awestruck by the beauty of a paradise of floral and botanical wonder. Intermixed in the plan were sculptures, topiary and a larger than life bird cage that emanated as from a fairy tale, filled with brightly colored birds, flitting and flirting and posing. The finale of our tour was a venture through the orchid house exhibition, so much more loveliness than I have words to describe.

Back to home, we relished in some communal studio time, building clay, sewing and more chat. Breaking in the new studio space, giving it soul, filling its space with the love of creation and being together. Friends who have long loved the artistic link that binds us.

Another great dinner of homemade garden pizza ended our day.

Watering the garden, walking on country roads, reading, we spent the next day mostly out of doors.

Venus sensed a large truck approaching.
We accepted delivery from Mr FedEx of a couple of Way Cool chairs for the new studio. A gift for the lovely lady, from the lovely Mr. C.

Girls night out at the Patti-O Bar and Grill. Big Juicy Patti-Melts and brews and still more girl chat. These girls can talk. A Blue streak. A mile a minute. All day and All night.

It's a beautiful thing!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Act II

For my next act, I will become a mermaid.

note to self: sign up for swimming lessons

Monday, July 13, 2009


Ancient Chinese Remedy -

Take one chicken soup each day for one week

May have better effect when eaten while watching

Old movie or sports game on television

Some cracker may also make more yum yum

- - -

Easing in to the mid summer days, the humidity rises, the sun blazes, the reading session at the dock moves to an earlier hour of the morning.

Soon the days will consist of the gray haze that looms over us in the dead of summer, as the grayness of winter looms in mid February. It is the anti-pole, the extreme opposite. It is the reason why some cannot abide summer in the Carolinas. I do my best to find activity that allows tolerance and brief escape. Going to an ice box theatre for a matinee. Going for a swim. Taking a nap while a fan gently whispers a cool breeze overhead.

Some of these have been blue summer days. The question of when the right job will come along. The intent to make each day meaningful and productive and not fall into a funk that debilitates the motivation of moving forward, seeking the answers and making some progress, regardless of what it is.

I planned this pleasant day to be a day in the kitchen. A day to make happiness food, comfort food. To make use of the harvest of neighbors gardens. To taste the tangy sweetness of the first locally vine ripe tomatoes. To crunch on crispy cold cucumbers. To crisp up some fried okra that was just picked yesterday.

I returned from the market to a marathon of "No Reservations" with (have I mentioned my favorite foodie?) Anthony Bourdain. Oy vey, will I get anything accomplished today? Possibly, intermittently. This is not just an indulgence, it is my geography lesson.

Shanghai, Dali Province, China. The cormorants assist the locals in fishing for their food. I wonder if the cormorants we spotted on the north shores of Lake Robinson Crusoe are trainable?

I retrieve the remains of the butterflied lemon Chicken a la Nigella Lawson that I made on Friday. Just enough to compose a chicken salad a la Annie's Natural Cafe. Olives, Nuts, Herbs. It's the Best, if I do say so. One of my most fulfilling sabbaticals was working as the salad girl at Annie's in the early '90s. The folks I met during that time are irreplaceable. It also makes me happy that the very same kitchen is now home to Giorgio at Trattoria Giorgio, where he masters the art of the finest Italian fare that I have ever sampled.

So to cure what ails me, to wrestle with my culinary muse, I will prepare the Bongo Bongo Soup of Traitor Vic's, the original version having been made with Toheroa clams from New Zealand.
Alongside the Bongo Bongo I will stir and fry a Shrimp Chow Dun, a specialty from Don the Beachcomber in Palm springs, CA. You may find these and many other exotic and fascinating recipes in "Taboo Table" by Beachbum Berry.

And while I pass the time in the solace of my own home, I travel vicariously with Tony, and Beachbum and savor the flavors of the world and the memories of meals in faraway places and what in inspiration they have been.

Tomorrow, Cold Cucumber and Yogurt soup and a new outlook.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mid-Summer Breezes

dockside reading. water ripples. fishermen compare their catch. puffy clouds drift.

a strolling stone gathers moss for her garden.

picking berries in the early morning breeze. humidity subsides. peppers ripe add fresh hot bite to fruit salad. melon peach blueberries mint. juicy refreshment for a midsummer day.

a pre-holiday quietness hangs on the air like a silent prayer.

painting: Marshy Gracias