Thoughts on Literature, Food, Faith and the Subversive Power of Living Small

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Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel
In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner
Fools Crow by James Welch
What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt

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Body and Soul
Rittenhouse Review
Making Light
The Julie/Julia Project
Struggle in a Bungalow Kitchen
Real Live Preacher
Blog of a Bookslut
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A Perfect Rain

We've had two days of perfect spring rain. No downpours, just soft, soaking perfect rain. For those of you who don't live in the West, it's important to remember that we only get 14.5 inches per year, on average, and the past couple of years we haven't even gotten that, so the general mood is one of deep relief and nascent hope for a good season this year. Here on my little backyard farm, the pathetic-looking chard and parsley plants I transplanted on Monday are looking good. They like real dirt. They like soft rain. They're looking kind of perky, and the chives are looking good too. I planted the first of my raised beds on Monday -- one has parsley, chives, chervil, two kinds of arugula and cilantro (and will get thyme and tarragon later, the oregano is going in a container because it's so invasive, and I have tons of mint already in the front flower garden). The other bed got spinach, mache, frisee endive, carrots and those lovely long French breakfast radishes. I covered the beds with a sheet of plastic, to make a sort of cold frame, although the rain's been so great I've only been covering them at night in case of frost. With this lovely rain, I think I'm going to plant a bunch of the wildflowers that don't like to be transplanted, since nature seems to be cooperating and keeping the ground damp. It's spring, and the world is puddle wonderful here in Montana ...

posted by Charlotte at 4/24/2003 07:45:00 AM


Snoopy-dancing All Over The Room

Run run run to the nearest good newstand and snatch up a copy of the Oxford American Magazine. This much-beloved Southern Magazine of Good Writing has been resurrected after a hiatus when some of us feared it was gone forever, and is back with the ever-astonishing Music Issue. Fabulous writing and a CD of amazing music. Here's the playlist:

"Why You Been Gone So Long" by Johnny Darrell
"Total Destruction to Your Mind" by Swamp Dogg
"1952 Vincent Black Lightning" by the Del McCoury Band
"La Chanson d'une Fille de Quinze Ans" by Ann Savoy and Linda Rondstadt
"Swan Blues" by King Pleasure (Oh my G*d -- this is a great cut!)
"Run on for a Long Time" The Blind Boys of Alabama
"Evelyn is Not Real" By My Morning Jacket
"Lake Charles Boogie" by Nellie Lutcher
"Hot Rod" by the Collins Kids (very Snoopy Dance, this one)
"No Headstone on My Grave" by Esther Phillips
"El Paso" by teh Gourds
:"Leaving Loachoapoka Behind" by Marshall Chapman
"Grits Aint Groceries" by Little Milton (yes yes yes yes yes! "Grits ain't groceries, eggs ain't poultry, and Mona Lisa was a man.")
"Killer Diller Blues" by Memphis Minnie
"Miss Maybelle" by RL Burnside
"God Moves on the Water" by Blind Willie Johnson
"Nicky Hoeky" by PJ Proby
"See That Coon in a Hickory Tree" by the Delmore Brothers
"Leaning on You" by the Yo-Yo's
"You and Your Sister" by Chriss Bell
"Columbus Stockade Blues" by Willie Nelson
"A Little Girl from Little Rock" by Marilyn MOnroe and Jane Russell
"Goodnight Moon" by Will Kimbrough

Music that will make you snoopy-dance all over your living room, and if you're lucky, if you have a talented dog like our Raymond who will jump up, put his forelegs around your waist, and dance along, you may be in the blissed-out state that I was in all afternoon, with this CD on LOUD (not something I usually do). This is also great music to sit on the porch and drink beer by. This is just great music. Go buy it on the newstand. Buy it for yourself. Buy it for your friends. And then go subscribe so we won't lose this great magazine a second time.

posted by Charlotte at 4/21/2003 04:27:00 PM


Everybody Likes Cake, Part 2

Yesterday I moved a dumptruck load of compost into my new raised beds. I do not recommend moving a dumptruck load of compost by oneself, especially if one is, as I am, a small-ish woman who is no longer the strong thing she was in her twenties. It was hard. It was really hard and I had to get it all done yesterday because had been dumped in such a way that it blocked open the big gate to the alley. The dogs were pretty good about it, but every once in a while, something interesting would happen out there and the puppy would overcome his fear of the Big Blue Tarp and dash out into the alley. Once there, he would become deaf, forget his own name, and I'd have to stop in mid-wheelbarrow-load to go fetch him.

So, by the time the Darling Brother returned from Bozeman, I was very cranky. I was deep in a nobody-loves-me-and-I-had-to-do-this-all-by-myself funk. The Darling Brother returned from Bozeman with a cute little white bakery box tied up with a pretty purple ribbon. Clearly the work of the Nice Girlfriend. Of course, I snapped at the D.B., who nonetheless did the last four or five wheelbarrow loads for me, and told me to go put the cake in the fridge. It was for Easter morning and the NG had spent quite a long time picking out just the right one. I put the cake in the fridge, we had a beer each on the comfy patio furniture, and between the beer and the late sunshine at 6:30 pm, and the fact that it was still a balmy 50 degrees, all was well once again.

So this morning I made a pot of tea and opened the little cake box. It was the most adorable little yellow layer cake you've ever seen. It has candied violets and mint leaves on it. It has little tiny rosettes. It tasted very good. It was a very nice little cake, and like all cakes, went a long way to lifting spirits. Everybody likes cake.

posted by Charlotte at 4/20/2003 07:22:00 AM


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