Category Archives: shopping

Books that keep me happily reading.

My project of reading “easy” books continues, as I find a certain satisfaction that comes from the process of reading itself, and not from digesting new (or even old) and difficult ideas. Trashy books, however you interpret that term, will not do. They have to have content I can grasp, and/or be reasonably well-written, if they are to keep me going past the first few pages, and to satisfy me.

I stopped listing “Books I Am Currently Reading” on my blog sidebar when I gave myself permission to pick up and put down titles in quick succession if necessary. At my stage in life I don’t want to bother with an annoying writer or boring content.

I have re-read some from years ago, and that is a happy activity; I’m often surprised at how much of the content seems completely new. I am not the same person who read the book back then, so my relationship with the author and the work is bound to be different.

I feel a review of one such recent engagement shaping up in my mind, but while it’s slowly forming, I thought I’d share this funny list, taken from a book I haven’t read, and don’t think it likely I will ever read. Have any of you read it? Unfortunately, for me most books in the world, including Calvino’s, must fall into his fifth category below.

To be honest, I rarely shop in brick-and-mortar bookstores. I feel guilty about this. But the last few times I did shop in the old-fashioned way, I brought home books I didn’t ever crack open once I got them home. What was that about? And I had spent hours wandering, wasting time I might actually have been reading one of the venerable favorites at home on my shelves. Calvino’s categories apply nonetheless.

SECTIONS in the BOOKSTORE

– Books You Haven’t Read
– Books You Needn’t Read
– Books Made for Purposes Other Than Reading
– Books Read Even Before You Open Them Since They Belong to the Category of Books Read Before Being Written
– Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered
– Books You Mean to Read But There Are Others You Must Read First
– Books Too Expensive Now and You’ll Wait ‘Til They’re Remaindered
– Books ditto When They Come Out in Paperback
– Books You Can Borrow from Somebody
– Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them, Too
– Books You’ve Been Planning to Read for Ages
– Books You’ve Been Hunting for Years Without Success
– Books Dealing with Something You’re Working on at the Moment
– Books You Want to Own So They’ll Be Handy Just in Case
– Books You Could Put Aside Maybe to Read This Summer
– Books You Need to Go with Other Books on Your Shelves
– Books That Fill You with Sudden, Inexplicable Curiosity, Not Easily Justified
– Books Read Long Ago Which It’s Now Time to Re-read
– Books You’ve Always Pretended to Have Read and Now It’s Time to Sit Down and Really Read Them”

― Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler

Painting above by Tavik Simon – “Vilma reading on a Sofa”

Daughters are Friends.

gl 2009-04 neighborhoodIt has always been in my plan that on the other side of the fountain from the back door would be a table and chairs,  a place to sit and catch the first rays of sun in the morning, or any time that the house is cold and the great outdoors is warmer. That happens frequently around here. When the pool was there, the northwest corner of the yard, where in this shot you can see a Cécile Brünner rose bloooming,  provided a square yard of pool decking where one might place a chair, and I did it many times.

gl P1020653

As the months flew by, I started to wonder how I would ever force myself to trudge around stores to find the table and chairs I had envisioned. If a thing can’t be easily ordered online, I am the worst shopper.

Why would I want to spend hours in stores comparison shopping, being the Consumer of our consumer culture, when I could be the Contemplative sitting in the garden and reading, or the Creator potting up a succulent in the greenhouse, or the Friend writing a letter, etc. etc. ad infinitum.

But my Daughgl daughters 3-16 table IMG_1893crpters came to the rescue! When two of them were here last week and we found ourselves without the men for a few hours, we first thought of being Outdoorswomen and going on a walk or hike with the children. But they could see I needed some help of the sort that women often give each other, so we became Shoppers together for the morning, and they made the whole process seem easy. When we got home they immediately started putting my table together for me.

The next day we had begun sitting in this corner spot with its view of the whole backyard garden, doing our more pleasurable kinds of work and play. And yesterday I shopped all by myself and bought some pretty acrylic tumblers and pitcher, so when you come by for a visit we’ll drink lemonade together.

gl P1030841

Happy April!

Beauty and Function – Rugs

On a day when some people are shopping early and late, we went to the countryside to celebrate our oldest grandson’s nineteenth birthday. Didn’t enter a store all day! But I do have a shopping story all ready to tell you:

The home-decorating saga of unhandy people continues.

Mr. Glad and I have more time lately, for home-improvement projects of all kinds, but we aren’t the sort to relish this sort of activity. I’d rather rummage through my sewing room clutter, or read blogs. My husband likes to practice on his drums. And when more responsible homeowners might be painting or sawing to improve their surroundings, we might be taking a walk to Starbucks to sip our caffeine and read poems for an hour.

But on the way home my mind might race ahead and arrive before us, to contemplate the physical realities of our house, and the danger that our procrastinations pose to our guests.

This monchromatic photograph may remind some of you of a time two years ago when I asked you dear readers for help with our entryway floor safety problem. I am embarrassed to say that we have taken this long to solve it, though not for trying somewhat faintheartedly again and again.

We researched Amanda’s rug idea. We contacted several people about Mark’s wood inlay idea. I borrowed a dozen books from the library thinking I might stencil the floor myself. I lay in bed thinking how some lights such as Celeste suggested could be installed under the lip – thinking how at Christmastime it would be fun to switch them for colored lights!

All this time guests went on stumbling and occasionally going all the way down, as we envisioned broken legs or noggins and how ashamed we would be of our negligence if that happened. Recently, when we were waiting for one of the contractors to tell us exactly when he was coming to do the job that it turned out was too small for him to even use his good manners on, I applied zig-zags of thin red masking tape. We were expecting first-time guests and feared for their safety. The tape aged and cured while we came to realize that Something Else must be done.

Now we have a rug. I photographed it without vacuuming it first because my husband was watching a movie and I didn’t want to disturb him with the noise.

It’s not the most stylish rug, but it is the narrowest one we could find in a workable color. Perhaps someday someone will like to do something more artistic and permanent to this step, but for now we are just relieved to not have to think on it any longer.

[Update: I didn’t stop thinking about it after all, but kept noticing how that chocolate brown runner was too dark a mass of color drawing unnecessary and conscious attention to itself, so I bought a red version and am happier now. This picture including the red-toned rug next to the wood stove shows how things have become more coordinated.]

For some reason I put the most ho-humly functional rug at the beginning. The other solved-by-rugs situations include more beauty.

An expanse of wall that has been needing something for three years now has a rug to make the toy area of the living room more cozy. This is my view from the kitchen, of a wallscape that has warmed up considerably.

While I was rug shopping I decided to update and brighten up our entry with a new rug for the front door. I had to open the door to get enough light on my subject; that is a little piece of its blue exterior lower right.

Rugs are my new favorite artistic indulgence, and I’m enjoying all the time that has been freed up now that I’m not perusing decorating websites anymore. It’s a beautiful life.

 

Fennel and Curd

Monday when I was on the cooking roll it was partly to use up some produce I’d bought when I shopped unwisely. It’s always unwise to make purchases when sleep-deprived, and I’ve had lots of experience with making tired and muddle-headed decisions.

Fennel: In this case I’d been shopping at Trader Joe’s and I was trying to make it the only stop, even though I needed some vegetables and don’t usually buy much produce at that store. The fennel bulbs seemed to be a good price, so I picked up a package of two medium-sized bulbs (20 oz.) for $1.99.

The wisdom I lacked was from being too tired to know that I was too tired to cook. I didn’t have a plan for using fennel, so I got along for a couple more days by raiding the freezer. But I didn’t want the vegetables to go bad so eventually I read recipes online and opted to make a simple soup.

I started by chopping and sauteeing the vegetable. Already I can’t remember if I used olive oil or butter, but some people liked to use a combination. I was looking for a caramelized or roasted effect, and I didn’t want to heat up the oven for such a small amount, so I used a cast-iron skillet. I sprinkled on salt and pepper and cooked the fennel slowly. Some of the pieces were too large to actually caramelize, but there was enough sweet roasty flavor coming from the licorice-flavored bulbs to make for a great taste in the resulting soup.

After all the fennel was at least tender, and some was very brown and some was even black, I blended it with water (I meant to use some chicken broth but forgot), then tasted and tested as I added small amounts of cream, sugar and lemon juice, more salt and pepper. I chopped up some of the unused ferny green top to sprinkle on top before serving….and Mr. Glad declared it fantastic. I didn’t take a picture of it, but it was brown and full of browner flecks. We ate the whole panful.

Curd: The big bag of lemons I bought even earlier would have lasted weeks more in the cold garage, but lemon curd was easy to put together, and it makes a prettier picture than brown soup, too.


Lemon Curd

1/2 cup butter
grated peel of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt if using unsalted butter
3 whole eggs
3 egg yolks

Beat the eggs and yolks together slightly. Melt the butter in the top of a double boiler and stir in all of the other ingredients. 

Cook over boiling water, beating constantly with a wire whisk, until thick and smooth, about 20 minutes. Store the refrigerator up to 6 weeks.

Lemon curd makes a nice gift if you put it in a little canning jar with a flowered lid. Too bad for my friends, I just happened to have a pint jar that conveniently held my whole batch. But if you come by for tea really soon we can makes some toast together and slather it on.