national fare

Very likely this is not an original thought, but has it ever occurred to you that our national cuisines are affected by the utensils we use to eat them?
In the British/ Teutonic culture, for instance, everybody had his own knife to stab into a piece of dead animal flesh. Hack and cut and chompa chompa chompa.
Whereas in China, only the cook had the knife and everything was chopped into tweezer-sized pieces and consumed delicately (or slurpily) with chopsticks.
Is this possibly a result of a more metal-centric culture because of readily available natural resources or—oh my, you could just go back and back . . .


for the fans

Some of you may have seen this man on television, in your journalism class or in war zones around the world (no, it's not George Clooney). I see him for lunch. We once calculated the number of beers we have consumed together for the last 20 years and, trust me, you don't want to know. If we were up to speed we could reduce the national debt, bottle by bottle. In fact, maybe that's the problem.


block island report

Another nation heard from. DaDa sent in this pic: "Intrepid HHH Renters." I forwarded it to the subjects admiring their bravery in riding out Irene, and they wrote back, "Nothing can stand in the way of our BI vacation!"

The cleaning crew weighed in as well:
 Dear Claudia, The hurricane didn't hurt the Island,we got some winds and a little bid of rain, thanks God. Yesterday we went to you property to check and take care outside furnitures. Claudia's tenants were there, we did the big table and chairs, they said they will do the others. Hanna's tenants said they will do it, I told then some advices for the water on the main door but they weren't any hard rain. I be there tomorrow to see if everything is okey. Love, Ana


irene, the aftermath

Most stores on Broadway closed yesterday (Zabar's closed at 3:00 pm) and remain shuttered today, though the Internet at McDonald's is apparently still up and running. There is barely any traffic, and you don't have to wait for stoplights. Not that we do much anyway. The 83rd Street entrance to Riverside Park is closed due to a fallen tree.
     All in all, we had a worse storm just a week ago on the Upper White Side.
     Block Island reports that nor'easters are much worse than Irene was—they are just as powerful and last for three days. Power's still on there. We don't have the tree issue.
     Power is out in Hollistan, Mass., and Woonsocket, R.I., where rain came through the windows.  Erin lost a tree, which fortunately doesn't seem to have fallen on the house.
      And that's the way it is.


hurricane prep

 It started raining here!
And the subways quit running!


good night, irene!

OK, guys, chill. Yes, there is a storm headed for us, right into a vacant news hole while everyone is on vacation —many at the shore. Yes, New York, where I am at present, is in its path at the moment.
Yes, so is Block Island. Today is changeover, and I have been in touch with the tenants who are planning to show up today as always. For one set, this will be the second hurricane they've ridden out. They know how to lash the furniture to the deck, etc. Hannah is leaving the others a note to ask them to do the same and close the storm doors.
My prep for the storm here will include the phone number for Ollie's takeout and a case of Becks. If I get real worried, I may fill the bathtub with water.
If you'd like to follow the storm and worry about us anyway, here's a great map.


why new york is great

Just got the following note from Sweetheart, the Lady in Green (top).

Dear Claudia ,
The pictures are great. Thank you for sending them. Green is so positive and I love it. I have been green for awhile now, about fifteen years. My front door is Lovely Green, all my accessories in my house are green. My garden and fig trees are green.  Etc. Do you live in the neighborhood? Maybe we could meet for coffee. I have to run now.
Love Sweetheart


unnatural phenomena

"What is that, the doorbell?"
"Nope, the hanging pots and pans are banging together."

And then there's the hurricane. . .


american food

It wasn't all Chinese food over the weekend—there was a trace of foreign influence as well. Who can recognize this Great American Food Palace we visited?


the big city

Everyone wants to come to the big city. Except people who live here. The streets are empty of natives these summer days, and there are parking spaces galore. Soon enough, it will be back to school and back to work and no more sand in your hair or mosquito bites or sunburns or days in the hammock and the sound of waves at night but just the long slog until next summer.


rockin' the rodeo

A Texas duo and their band slide from seductive harmonies to tight breaks and then, inevitably, bust out rocking. You can sing along or stomp your feet. First time I've ever seen a front man with a standup bass.
Video quality: Poor. Sound quality: Poor.
Check them out at Beck & Cauthen or, I assume, iTunes. Good fun.


$7.50 worth

This has been a very sad tomato season for me, but for the Alabama harvest. Missouri was a bust, with none of the heirloom farmers showing up at the market this year. These tomatoes, approximately $2.50 apiece, were purchased at the farmers' market in NYC. They were quite good, after I had cut out the black parts. I also bought a smallish Cherokee Black or something at Fairway for $3. It was not that great.
I did learn about the Otoriko this year, grown by a friend in Missouri. Pink and quite yummy. And my old winter standby, the greeny brown kumato, continues to remind me of what a tomato ought to taste like.
Something needs to be done.


american cake

I am praying that somebody will smear this cake into Mr. America Rick Perry's face. Pray for me.

In other news, if you look in the back row to the right of the big guy in the soccer scene, you can see CBA in this movie trailer.
And if you are at all interested in the history of Thomasville, Mo., you can read about it in this excellent article by an acquaintance of mine who coincidentally was a musician in the movie Winter's Bone.
Oh and PS, Zabar's "lobster salad" that was actually made of crawdads that caused such a furor? I had some relabeled "seafare" salad yesterday, and it was delicious. Wonder how many other people tried it for the first time.



It's beautiful in New York, too.
Especially after 10 inches of rain.


tiedye twins

"We weren't always this kind of people," the man from Arkansas told me when we met in a state park. "Just since we retired and entered into our second childhood."


bear says

The hot rods blasted through Thomasville, Mo., population 50,  and the gas fumes dispersed into the evening.
Said Bear,
"You'd think there's something really here, but there ain't."


home again

Cruised down the road with Carla and Bill, across the mighty Mississippi to Memphis, rushed onto an early plane, was delayed, got to Charlotte, was delayed again and then, finally, to New York.


grillin' and chillin'

Frank did not think I cooked the pork chops enough. . .


big spring

Photograph by FL Martin

Photograph by CGD
What do you do on the hottest day of the summer with the U.S. credit rating downgraded and the stock market about to tank?
You grab the dog and pile into the Chrysler and stop at the Jolly Cone en route to one of the biggest springs in the nation, known as, um, Big Spring. If you stand close to the mist as the tens of thousands of gallons come roaring out of the ground, you can feel cool for a second, and the financial world seems very far away.


dusk at the goose

Finally got to sit out on the porch last evening—it's been too hot. Got to watch the comings and goings at the cafe, on the highway and in the heavens, as the lemon-slice moon rose and the cumulus clouds shredded away.


local produce

From the neighbors' yards, we got your rare variegated crepe myrtle, we got your naked ladies, and we got your 'maters. What could be better?


at long last rain

Record highs in the Ozarks yesterday—108 degrees in the nearest town of West Plains. And humid. But no rain for weeks until at last this morning a bunch of water came down, too late for my tomatoes.
I spent yesterday's record high in the river, submerged for most of the afternoon. My fingernails are really clean.


uh oh

Leading Bear into bad ways. He says hi to everyone. "C'mon out and I'll buy you a beer."



 A lot of people have ex- pressed interest in my ride. They know that once CBA and Wooda split, I had no way to get around. Well, I do now: The Olds.
This was my friend Frank's mom's car.  There are no Oldsmobiles any more, so I'm proud to be driving what Dianne calls "the old lady car." She waxed it up real nice. It floats over the roads like a boat. Sometimes I feel like I should hunch down behind the wheel and go about 20 mph in a 55 mph zone. I am a granny, after all.
About the pix: One represents what it feels like here, tempwise, and also features stray dogs, the cooler and a disused Shop Vac; the other features bug spray and the compressor unit for the ac, newly propped up with concrete blocks. Both feature the Olds.
Which do you like better?