Category Archives: this little life

Fib.

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People lie, have you noticed? Cell phones open a new channel for the untruth observer. Yesterday afternoon, for example, I was riding the Number 61 bus placidly towards home when the phone of the woman behind me rang. She started telling her caller about some bureaucratic errand she’d been on and then said, “I’m waiting on the sixty-one bus.” Did I hear that right? I thought. Maybe she said sixty-three? But no, she repeated, “I’m waiting on the 61 bus,” and while my mind spun trying to derive a scenario where one could legitimately be waiting for a bus while riding it, she doubled down by adding, “But not long, it’s moving out soon.” So no, it was just a lie; perhaps to confuse her caller about when she’d be home, or something. I don’t know.

The toy dragon is just for fun. I found him on the street. Rawr!

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Wouldn’t you?

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I looked up from my seat on the subway to perceive that a woman on the opposite bench had a skirt and t-shirt of precisely matching, rather aggressive solid turquoise green; and then that her big square tote bag matched as well; and then that her sandals with their rosettes of suede fringe, her toenails, yes, and her fingernails, and the big earrings half-hidden by her blonde hair all matched. (Her eyes, as best I could tell, were blue.) So can you blame me for wondering briefly, so to speak, about her underclothes?

Rose redemption.

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Fantin-Latour rose

I think of my friend Nicole every day; this weekend by recalling her seasonal motto: “Memorial Day! When we honor¬†our war dead by going to the beach.”

As I used to say, “I myself represent the decline of western civilization.” Well, if it’s All Gonna End Soon, all the more reason to take advantage of the beautiful days, right? Which I wish I were doing better. Can’t complain of Saturday morning, though. I walked up to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (free entry Saturdays before noon) to see the roses and peonies. Lots of giggling in the Cranford Rose Garden as visitors got sprinkled in succession by the rotating sprinklers, with our gratitude as it was HOT. The earliest old shrub roses were done but plenty of my historical favorites bloomed on, like the lovely Mme. Hardy with her flat white face and little green eye, and other damasks, centifolias (like Fantin-Latour, above), gallicas, albas, and spinossisimas. And many non-rose non-peony beauties as well.

We went out for drinks after Christian Harmony singing a couple of weeks ago, you know, the usual three hours of hymns, an hour in the bar. I told the bartender I wanted to try a new bourbon and he suggested something called Redemption. Of course! (“480, I think,” said Stina, meaning the page number of the song REDEMPTION.) It was tasty.

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The glass cat paradox.

Opening a box, I found a small glass cat, purple, from Venice I think, that a friend once gave me. To whom besides a cat person would you give a glass cat? But that cat person cannot display it, because the cat would knock it over.

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Leavened.

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Latest loaf, all purpose with some whole wheat and a couple of tablespoons of oat bran, olive oil, molasses as sweetener.

All the years I’ve lived alone, I’ve always kept one of those classic strips of three yeast packets in my fridge. Sometimes it’s been years between attempts to bake with yeast, and sometimes I’ve pulled the packets out to discover they were three years past their use-by date (long even by my loose limits), but they were always a cheap just-in-case item. Well, now I have been baking bread almost every week for a year and more except for the months when it was too hot to turn on the oven, so a few weeks ago I went to the supermarket to pick up another Fleischmann’s three-pack. “$2.79?” I thought. “Really?” I looked at the shelf label and it told me that the unit price was $59.39 per pound (or something like that). Hmph! snorted I to myself, I know that the price for a full pound from (say) King Arthur isn’t anything like fifty-nine dollars. Key Food didn’t have any full pounds to check this, but Whole Foods, when I was lured in there by Z a day or two later, did. Price per pound? $5.39. That is, buying yeast in packets raises the price tenfold. Which is perfectly acceptable if you use one packet a year for three years, but not if you’re baking every week.

Canny Brooklyn shopper that I am, however, I waited till my next trip to Sahadi’s, where I found four different kinds of bulk yeast and got a pound of SAF Blue Label for $4.25. And look how dynamically my latest loaf rose! I always trust Sahadi’s for fast turnover, so I don’t doubt this is the freshest and happiest yeast I’ve ever had; and I am not tempted to skimp on it, but can dip my teaspoon luxuriously.
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Let me know if you want to share my pound of yeast. I figure I have six or eight more loaves till summer, by which time my investment will already have paid for itself,¬† and then I’ll move the package from the fridge to the freezer for the hot months.

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Overheard in Brooklyn, Prospect Park edition

elmblossomAll these within a minute or so on a single path in Prospect Park:

“‘Bunnies and Twinkies,’ she said to me, ‘bunnies and Twinkies, that’s all I want you to think about.'”

“I could do the dark road, too, another time.”

“To steal a Monet . . .”

Witch hazel, red maple, elm, and cornelian cherry are in bloom. (Photo borrowed from the City Birder.)

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Overheard in Brooklyn, junior scientist edition.

On Union Street in sudden warm weather. A girl of about five, pushing her scooter along, her father walking beside her. Insistently: “The SUN doesn’t move. The EARTH moves.” Geez, Dad.

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Cinema phile.

I went to a movie with Zach, HAIL CAESAR!, at the modest local movie house. I was happy to see that the theater, admittedly a small one, was basically full for a Saturday afternoon grownup movie. “All the grownups in Carroll Gardens are here,” said Z. (The ones not owning children: those were flocking to ZOOTOPIA, also at that theater.) So much more pleasant than the modern zilloplex up the road. Plus they are showing the National Theatre HAMLET on Wednesday. I wonder if I can find an unemployed friend to go to the 2:00 show with me.

Anyway, HAIL CAESAR. Silly but handsome and basically good-natured, kind of like George Clooney’s character, now I think of it. You do suspect that the Coen boys thought of the movie genre setpieces and stock characters they’d like to recreate and then came up with a “plot” to connect them together. I mean, kidnapped by Commie screenwriters (to a modernist cliffside gem in Malibu)? Go for: the water ballet; Scarlett Johansson’s accent; the sailors’ musical number; Josh Brolin’s sincerity; the adorable Alden Ehrenreich; Clooney’s beefy, sandal-strapped calves; and the palmiest palm trees. I even enjoyed Tilda Swinton’s double act. I will have to quit saying I can’t stand her.

Relativity in daily life.

Dressed for lunch with a lawyer, I headed first to my local library, where they are accustomed to see me in my casual, not to say shabby, neighborhood clothes. Explanation? “I’m going downtown, that is to say, Midtown, which of course from the South Brooklyn perspective is uptown.”

Dangerous breakfast.

The hazards of a simple petit dejeuner.

I was sitting peacefully at my little kitchen table, drinking coffee, working on my task list for the week, and waiting for my toast, when the smoke alarm on the wall above my head (which apparently hates and fears toast) went off. I jumped up to climb on my chair and turn it off; that is, I tried to jump up, instead becoming entangled in the limbs of chair and table and bringing all, and myself, crashing to the floor. In one gesture I managed to sweep clear my bulletin board, to soak my notebook in coffee, and to break the table, my favorite Snork Maiden cup given to me by my late friend Nicole, and my glasses. And apparently I bruised my elbow along the way.

By the time I got to my feet, the alarm had stopped.

It was certainly time to get new glasses, and Ikea probably still has the little tables, but breaking the cup is irremediable.

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