ealgylden: (Complicated Simon (bravo_icons))
[personal profile] ealgylden
I had to laugh when I saw MaryAnn Johanson's post on Lawn Darts and the amazing fact that any Gen Xers survived their childhoods. Elvira Kurt used to do a bit in her act along the same lines, about towering jungle gyms built on concrete and metal slides at violent angles and, yes, Lawn Darts. Or Jarts, as I always knew them. Little Sister and I had a set, actually. Lord only knows where they came from, since they really don't seem like the sort of thing our parents would have bought. Illegal-in-NY fireworks, yes; giant metal spikes for throwing, no. And yet we had them, and merrily pitched them around the lawn, usually aiming for the snowball tree or the chicken coop (which only occasionally had chickens in it, since they were unfenced and free to wander the farm and preferred to sleep in the cedar in the front yard anyway. Anyone who tells you chickens can't fly is a damned dirty liar. Ahem).

You can probably guess where this anecdote is going.

One summer day, when I was about ten-ish and Little Sister eight or so, we were taking turns trying to impale the poor snowball tree, when one of the Jarts got stuck in the branches. Not a problem, as we had a big stick to knock it loose. So off I went, shake shake shake thunk, the Jart was free. And THUNK, a different Jart lands right on the middle of my poor young skull. Point down, of course, since those suckers were carefully weighted. Little Sister had thought I was safely out of Jart's way and slightly jumped the gun with restarting the game. It was totally an accident; pitching things at each other was hardly unknown when we were fighting, but only things like pillows and hay bales and the occasional very unhappy cat. Not weapons. And you know how cops on TV are always brushing off their worried partners by pointing about that scalp wounds bleed a lot? Ten-year-olds are not so casual about it. Eight-year-olds who think they've killed their sisters are even less so. But luckily we had sensible parents who were very close by and could drive like Formula One racers, if need be. Even more luckily, in this case they didn't really need to. I was fine. Not even a concussion out of the deal, just a miniscule scar that no one could see thanks to my hair, and enough trauma for the whole family. Oh, and a box of Jarts that was never seen again. How very mysterious. But I do feel a bit sorry for the kids of today, all protected and coddled and asbestos-free. Is it really playing without the looming specter of Horrible Accidents? Do kids today even get eye patches anymore?

Now, the time Little Sister pulled a hyuuuuuuuuuuge icicle down on her head and was, of course, gushing blood, and had the Formula One drive to the hospital on icy roads in a snowstorm and did have a concussion, that was rather dramatic. And we were even younger then. She was a fun kid. Fearless to the point of maiming. Our poor, poor parents.

Suddenly my new icon (from [livejournal.com profile] brave_icons, again) seems somewhat appropriate. How unsettling. And she is so going to beat me up if she ever reads this (not to mention my mom...).


Non-religious Yom Kippur traditions in our family being what they are, I spent most of the day reading cookbooks. Joan Nathan is always a good choice, as is my hero, Claudia Roden, but the one book I absolutely have to read every year is Mimi Sheraton's From My Mother's Kitchen. I actually don't cook from it much. It's full of yummy recipes, but in a lot of cases they're things for which I'd rather use my mom's recipes. It's a great read, though, with most recipes prefaced by personal anecdotes and cultural snapshots, and extended versions of the same, on topics like "Eating Out," "Sour Pickles," and "Washington Market," in interesting chapters between the actual recipe sections. There's something rather perverse about reading it while fasting, because it's a book ideally designed to make you crave comfort food. Just read this bit from "The Joys of Being Sick in Bed":

Toast was a big item in my mother's culinary pharmacopeia. At first it was served plain and dry, but that was soon followed by crisp, sweet cinnamon toast, then baby-bland milk toast that tasted soothingly of fresh air. Thick slices of French toast, crisp and golden outside but moist and eggy within, would probably come next, always topped with a melting knob of sweet butter and a dusting of confectioner's sugar. I knew I was close to recovery when I got the toast I liked best-- almost-burned rye bread toast covered with salt butter.

Shortly after that, chicken soup would appear, first as a clear golden broth perfumed with knob celery, leeks, dill, and the sweet root of parsley, petrouchka. Later it would be served adrift with bits of chicken, carrots and celery, sprinklings of parsley, and rice or broad, buttery noodles.

Beef tea was an alternative to soup, and to make it my mother put chunks of tough but juicy beef into a narrow necked glass milk bottle, which was then set in boiling water where it stayed for hours, until all of the beefy broth had been extracted. This was then salted and served in warm mugs, or poured over riced potatoes.

Eggs had a prominent place on these convalescent menus. Lightly poached, they would be served on toast or in the center of what my mother called a "bird's nest" of creamed spinach. They might be stirred into those tiny macaroni starlets, pastina, to which butter and grated cheese would be added, or scrambled with spicy caraway seeds. Finally, they arrived in my favorite guise-- fried with crisp brown edges and a sprinkling of coarse salt and black pepper.

It was only when my mother considered me more than half well that she began to serve milk. She and my grandmother were both of a mind that milk was bad for a fever or a cough, because, they said, it caused congestion. Once milk was permitted it came in thick, whipped eggnogs fragrant with vanilla and nutmeg. Or it was baked into custard in chocolate-brown earthenware cups. Cinnamon-topped rice pudding studded with currants and warm baked apples with cream, cloudlike floating island pudding and pink junket were other stand-bys my mother used as "build-up" foods. So was red Jell-o, whipped when half set to become a snowy, mousselike froth.


Mmmm. Yeah, definitely twisted to read this when you can't eat.


Speaking of food, earlier I was hunting for a certain Neruda poem about tomatoes when I found a weird, cool, interesting site about soup. A fansite for soup, how could I resist (especially since it did have the poem)? It has lots of recipes, lists of appearances by soup on stage and screen, soup customs from around the world, soup in the news, soup history, soup jokes... lots and lots of soup. Very neat! And one of the jokes has nuns, so of course I have to share it:

At a particular convent, the nuns lived under a vow of silence that could be broken only once a year. One year, at the appointed time, the clock struck 12 noon as the nuns were eating lunch and one spoke up and said, "This soup is terrible." A year passed, and at the appointed time, another sister volunteered, "I don't think it's so bad." The following year, as the clock struck 12 noon, a third nun spoke up: "Bicker, bicker, bicker!" she said.

Hee hee! Okay, I admit that I'm easily amused when it comes to monastic humor.


My only comments on tonight's TV (remember when I actually used to comment on TV? Good times, good times): CSI, eh, but as ever, I love Nick. A whole heck of a lot. I'm mostly enjoying this season, but the past has made me gunshy. And WaT had much to hate, including the continuing presence of some jerk who has taken my beloved TechKid's job and will not give it back, and yet... was that Justin Kirk in the preview? Snarling at Jack? This goddamn show. It's an abusive boyfriend of a show. It hurts me and hurts me and breaks my heart every time, and then it waves turkey sandwiches and longing looks and Justin Kirk at me, all "hey baby, don't be like that, I love you!" And I go back for another week. I rue the day I ever fell for you, show.
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Joan

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