Thursday, June 30, 2011

the color of summer

I don't really like alcohol. Just don't. I grew up begging sips up my parents' wine at dinner, and waiting for the time when my taste buds would suddenly change and I would also drink that magic liquid from pretty glasses. My favorite Bible story was even Jesus at the wedding in Cana; I would enact the scene in the bathtub at least once a week.

"Jesus, there's no more wine!" I'd say while my mom or dad sat on the edge. "Please make some more for us."

After filling the "jars" (read plastic 1992 Alabama National Championship cups), I would take a huge swig of bathwater and proclaim that "this is the best wine I've ever tasted."

I tell you all this to make the point clear: when I turned 21, I was disappointed to discover I don't like wine (which turned out okay; more on that later). When we went to Spain, I thought maybe this would change. If I had to drink red wine at every meal, surely I'd learn to at least tolerate it, right? Nope. Especially after this one horrible night where I drank it cause I was thirsty and then the wonderfully generous bartender gave free lemon liqueur to the strange family of Americans as a sign of friendship, and Jim was hissing in my ear, "drink it all, or you'll look rude" and NO I never wanted to see the stuff again in my life.

Except. Except for this magic in a bottle:

Tinto de verano. Ice, lemon, and you've got yourself the best summer-afternoon-at-a-European-cafe drink, ever. I thought it was sangria. Literally, it means red wine of summer.

When I got home, I missed tinto de verano more than even the groaningly delicious Italian pastas. I found the recipe after a search of about, oh, 3 seconds. Wanna know it?

Red wine + Sprite + ice + lemon.

That's IT. I've even substituted ginger ale for the sprite.

So go put on some Drunkard's Prayer by Over the Rhine, set out on the porch, and sip your glass of summer.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hear Me Calling Your Name

On Friday morning, I woke up from the first night in my bed in over a week, wrote one poem and finished another, cleaned my room, and got in the car to go to a family lunch. At the bottom of the driveway, there was a dog. This dog, in fact.

In our lives, there has been the lack of a dog. One dog, in particular, but also dogginess in general. In fact, the night before we had just been talking about getting a dog, whether it was too early, etc. I slammed the car stopped, jumped out, and the tick-covered little love ran straight into my arms.

I could tell you about how she crawls way down low because of mean people that hurt her, how she flips over on her back and puts up her tummy to be rubbed, how she scrambles herself into one's lap as if she thinks she's still a small puppy. I could tell you about the sickening number of ticks that covered her, the way her ribs feel as though they are about to break through her skin, the complete sweetness and trust with which she endures medicines and tweezers and all kinds of doctoring.

But to make a long story short, I'll tell you only this: her name is Gypsy.

Monday, June 13, 2011

tulip poplar iris. and no, i didn't forget my commas

Today, I went out to feed the amazing survivalist cats (another post on them another time), and a blur of neon orange and yellow caught my eye. "TULIP POPLAR," I thought. Dr. Brown and the folklore days brainwashed me well. On closer inspection, I found it was an iris, but imitating the tulip poplar blossom in its electric colored blossoms (I should write for an agriculture publication, no?).

Warm and lovely and velvet. I can't get enough of color these days, and this much pure joy saturation sates my hunger.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Stove by a Whale

 At some point during high school, I decided that I needed to read Moby Dick. Even then, I think, I knew my calling as an English scholar, that my commitment to musical theatre was fading and I needed to start preparing for my future discipline. 
Or maybe I was just a stupid teenager who read big books for show. 

Either way, I had no idea what I was getting into. I had a tempestuous, tenacious relationship with Melville from then on. "Why do I need to know how they swab the decks?" I wailed. "Can we stop talking about harpoon technique?"
Perhaps if I'd known Melville based his gargantuan tome on a real live story, I would have found it more interesting. Probably not. But what I'm trying to say is - Moby Dick was REAL. And there weren't no happy ending for them fellas, either.


A couple of weeks ago, I picked up this book. I've been a Nathaniel Philbrick nerd-fan for four years now, since I read Mayflower. (Every American needs to read this book. Not even kidding. Did you know Squanto was evil? It's TRUE.) The man can make any history into a fascinating adventure-mystery tale. If I was ever to teach Moby Dick (or any of Melville's sea stories, for that matter) I'd have the students read this first. Philbrick explains the Nantucket culture, ship life, and the whaling industry with clarity, sharp and urgent prose, a sense of humor and humanity (he was an English major, yepthat'sright).

Did you know that men spent 3 years at sea? Did you know that men went out in these tiny little boats and stuck their own dang tiny harpoons into these enormous creatures? Did you know how amazing their ships were?

Oh my word, yes, I admit it. I'm interested in whaling. And I sort of have a huge academic crush on said Nathaniel. 

I won't say much about the Essex history except: a whale rammed their boat. But they didn't die then, oh no. There were 94 more days of horror at sea in tiny boats to come. Fascinating. Terrifying. Superlative-ing. It - it even - it makes me want to (sort of) read Moby Dick again

And if that's not an endorsement . . .