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

Click here for information about Charlotte's novel, Place Last Seen

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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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Rittenhouse Review
Making Light
The Julie/Julia Project
Struggle in a Bungalow Kitchen
Real Live Preacher
Blog of a Bookslut
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Summer's Over

Summer appears to be, rather suddenly, over. The temperature dropped early this week, and this morning my (highly unreliable) thermometer reads 50 degrees. Highs have been only in the 70's and with the light rapidly receding, well, I'm not feeling hugely optimistic about all those green tomatoes out there. We had hail on the solstice, and here at the end of August I would estimate a hard frost is only a couple of weeks away. The challenges of short-season gardening. Sigh.

posted by Charlotte at 8/29/2003 06:59:00 AM


Granny Got A Brand-new Hip

My 93-year-old grandmother had her hip replaced on Monday because she wants to ride again. It's been three years since she could sit a horse, and since riding is her greatest joy, she willingly went in and let them, well, cut her leg off and put it back on again. (Although my cousin Jason tells me that her old horse, Ben, died last month. He swears he's not buying her a new horse, but I have a hunch there will be one in that barn soon.) And since she's 93, they didn't want to risk putting her under, so they did it with just an epidural. An epidural! That means she was conscious -- which I have to say, really kind of freaks me out. May I be so brave. Tough old bird, that one.

So, she comes out of surgery Monday evening, and she wasn't supposed to have anything to eat or drink, in case of complications I suppose. But did this stop her? No -- she demanded cake. I want cake! she said. And because she is my very formidable grandmother, they brought her cake, and ice cream. Because what's not to celebrate when you're 93 and just got a new hip and the surgery went well.

As we like to say here at LivingSmall -- Everybody likes cake!

posted by Charlotte at 8/27/2003 07:23:00 AM


Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches

It's that time of year -- there are ripe tomatoes in my garden, which means, it's time for BLTs. Because what's the point of a Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich that isn't made with a real tomato -- a tomato grown locally, a tomato grown to ripeness and juicy perfection? A BLT made with a supermarket tomato is a travesty. It isn't a BLT at all, it bears the same relation to a real BLT as silicone breasts do to real ones. It is a Bad Thing.

Whereas a real BLT, made with a real tomato -- a ripe, red (or yellow) oozy juicy tomato is perfect. On white bread. Always white bread. With, if you're lucky enough to live here, Matt's Meats own home-cured bacon, and Hellmans/Best Foods mayonnaise. And lettuce out of the garden as well (although it's a little past its prime, and getting bitter).

And, if you're really a lucky person, this BLT will instantly transport you back to an island in Lake Tomahawk, in northern Wisconsin, and to memories of Mr. Kennedy's big old Cris Craft boat with it's deep-voiced motor. Because if you were a lucky kid, and got to go out in that big boat and do a little fishing (the amount of fishing being in direct proportion to your height, because when you're very little, fishing is excruciatingly boring), you also got to go to Mr. Kennedy's island and have a Shore Dinner. Which was BLTs made with bacon, deep fried in an entire bottle of Crisco Oil in a big cast iron pan over an open fire. On white bread, with big old beefsteak tomato slices, some of which Mr. Kennedy would shake salt on and hand to you directly, telling you it was a tomato cookie, and you'd never heard of such a thing but because he was enormous, and had a deep voice, and knew everything, and because you always felt absolutely safe with Mr. Kennedy, you ate them and said how good they were (and you weren't being polite, although you were a polite child. Tomato slices with just a little salt are very good). And later, after the BLTs, and some real cookies that Mrs. Kennedy made and sent along, and after you'd watched Mr. Kennedy scour out the cast iron pan with sand and re-bury it like hidden treasure, you got to go back across that great big Northern Wisconsin lake in the beautiful wooden boat the color of iced tea, the wind whipping across the bow and the grown-ups hollering conversation at one another and the boat would bounce up and down across the waves with an absolutely even rhythm and all would be well in your little-kid world.

Which is why it's worth the wait every year for a good tomato. Worth not sullying a perfect memory with a bad tomato.

posted by Charlotte at 8/24/2003 01:16:00 PM


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