Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Call of the Asparagus

Sorry I've been so absent this week, my activity calendar went a little berserk and shows no sign of abatement today, what with the dodgeball tournament and all. Don't ask. However, there is always time to whip up an Asparagus Ricotta Bacon Tart when the season beckons. And it definitely beckons.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Reason #5 to Go to Colorado

Brilliant-colored flowers.

Reason #4 to Go to Colorado

To channel Dr. Hunter S. Thompson over strong margaritas and awesome enchiladas at the good doc's old stomping grounds, Woody Creek Tavern, on the outskirts of Aspen.

Reason #3 to Go to Colorado

To be among the first up Independence Pass near Aspen on the day it reopens for the year, traveling in just minutes from lush, green valley to snow-covered mountaintop 12,095 feet high at the Continental Divide.

Reason #2 to Go to Colorado

For the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see two incredible musical artists--in this case, Carrie Rodriguez and Romantica--play together on a tiny stage at a little guitar shop in a friendly, hippy mountain town.

Reason #1 to Go to Colorado

Breathtaking, snow-capped mountains beyond a blanket of sage and alfalfa and dazzling yellow dandelions.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Indian Wedding

I know I'm a little obsessed with the snow crab trees outside my front door, but who can blame me? Even when they stop giving the world bright pink blooms, the delicate petals fall to the ground and cover it in a thick lavender blanket. The whole place feels bright and happy, full of color, like an Indian wedding.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Behold the Demon Dog!

Northeast Minneapolis' annual homage to art, Art-a-Whirl, was in full swing last weekend and there was no better way to celebrate it than by biking to Grumpy's and sucking down $3 Pabst tall boys while standing outside in the sun watching local bands perform. Well, there was one better way to celebrate it, by eating a demon dog. 

A demon dog is a high quality dog split down the middle and stuffed with shredded cheddar and diced jalapenos. It's then tied together with string and grilled to melty perfection. Just before serving in a delicious bun, the strings are cut off and a delicious demon dog is born. I would have liked the jalapenos to be hotter, but it was such a tasty treat on a sunny spring day that I'm not even going to complain. 

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Last week at the care center Katherine stated that she wasn't sure she'd still be around when I returned this week, seeing as how somebody was trying to kill her and all. I'm happy to report that Katherine was there last night, decked out in plaid and surly as ever.

Speaking of surly, Albert was on a tear. Albert is a new favorite whom I've not met, only smiled at from across the room. He's old, but his eyes aren't. They still have youth in them, albeit a confused youth. His hair is unintentionally hip, turned into an ultra cool faux-hawk by uneven sleep. When his eye catches mine he waves at me flirtatiously, using just one finger. But last night there was no flirting because Melvin was too much for Albert. Melvin is too much for most people, what with his penchant for disrobing and inappropriately relieving himself.

Last night the kitchen forgot to include Albert's dinner tray and even though the food looks ghastly, Albert was not pleased that he didn't get anything to eat. The staff went right to work to get their hands on Albert's dinner, but that didn't calm him down right away. Kollie, the male nurse from Liberia, put his arm around Albert in a sweet hug and told him that, as his friend, he was going to see to it that his dinner was brought up immediately, that he was really sorry. This placated Albert, at least until Melvin went too far. When the tray arrived, Albert tore into his ham sandwich like a man who hadn't seen food for weeks. So when Melvin's hand ventured a little too closely into Albert's space, as it probably does fairly frequently, Albert would have none of it. Suddenly, the faint musical strains of Jesus Loves Me, This I Know coming from the CD player were interrupted by the exasperated cries of an old man who just wanted his ham sandwich. "Goddammit, you bastard!" Albert yelled, giant food crumbs spraying out of his mouth and all over the table. "Get your hands off my food, you son-of-a-bitch!" My adorable, across-the-room sweetheart, Albert, was clearly not amused by Melvin's childish antics. Then, just as quickly as his temper flared, it was gone and he quietly finished his meal.

Maybe the youth I see in Albert's eyes is a reflection of the child he's becoming again. Regressing, revisiting his childhood one failing synapse at a time. Falling backward into a time when restraint wasn't well known and anger exploded quickly. Then, a moment later, gone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Three Days

Oh, what a difference three days makes. Here's the same snow crab branch I posted a photo of on Sunday, but today it has bloomed. Finally!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pilates vs. Cake

Pilates, a weird form of exercise that involves a large contraption that looks like the hospital bed in which you would lay in traction after you were run over by a combine on Highway 212, is my latest effort to offset my love for cake. Specifically, this lime coconut cake I made for my mom for Mother's Day. I don't know if Pilates has the power to fight a lime coconut cake, but all I can do is try.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Riches of Citrus

Key limes are gorgeous. These golf ball-sized yellowy green spheres would make a beautiful necklace for someone who is a bigger fashion risk-taker than me. Which, let's face it, could be just about anyone. The fresh scent of a lime would make a lovely, romantic perfume that would draw suitors from the world over, for someone who knows how to create exotic perfumes, at least.

I prefer to just cut my limes into tiny little wedges and throw them into beer or my beloved Palomas, or to squeeze the milky pale green juice and bake it into a delicate coconut cake. This won't land me on the cover of Vogue anytime soon or attract a million dollar check from the house of Estee Lauder, but my simple relationship with key limes suits me just fine.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Open Sesame

My flaming pink snow crab trees (and by "my" I don't mean they belong to me, but they're really close to my front door so to me they're mine) are absolutely screaming to pop wide open, but just haven't quite yet. Two years ago they were in full bloom on May 7 and last year on May 20, so it should be any minute. I'm jealous every moment I walk around the neighborhood and see all the other snow crabs in full bloom. 

Snow crab trees are like the Kentucky Derby, a bunch of gorgeous, exciting fun that's over almost before it even starts. Except I never lose money on the snow crabs.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Eat the Worm

Cinco de Mayo fell on a Tuesday this week and since Tuesdays are not great party days, we decided to celebrate at work on Friday with Ocho de Mayo. It has about as much fiesta significance as Cinco de Mayo, after all. Really it was just an opportunity to eat chips with guacamole and salsa, drink Mexican beers with lime, and to watch my coworker Patrick gamely eat the worm.

I happened to have brought back several small bottles of Mezcal from Mexico over the years, each with a fat little worm resting at the bottom of the yellow liquid within. Patrick had never experienced this phenomenon, so to ready him for what was about to happen, we all gathered in the conference room and viewed the scene in the movie Urban Cowboy where Scott Glenn, Debra Winger's bad boy rebound lover, drinks a good portion of a bottle of Mezcal and then eats the worm in a most dramatic fashion, Mezcal dripping down his face and chest. I demanded Patrick emulate Glenn's performance precisely. 

I'm not going to pretend it was exactly the same as watching the movie, but Patrick did a good job grossing out the crowd by wiggling the worm in his teeth while wearing an oversized straw sombrero. Then he swallowed it. I must say, Ocho de Mayo has it all over Cinco de Mayo.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

If You Hear a Bang

When I got to the care center tonight I sat down between a grumpy Angie and a sleeping Mary, ready to cajole them with mushy, starchy vegetables and gravy, when in walked another volunteer and stood over me, watching me. I've met this volunteer before, but only once or twice. She's from Africa and she's very nice, but she obviously wanted me gone from Angie's table. I pretended I didn't know it because I wasn't sure why this volunteer gets to "call" Angie and Mary, but she didn't move. Finally, before the food arrived, piping lukewarm, I asked the volunteer if she wanted to feed Angie and Mary. She told me yes, in a way that indicated that it was never going to be any other way. So I was banished to...the other table. 

The other table was my original table, the one where I first met Ardella and Mattie, all of whom have moved on (to other places in the building, not heaven). But the only gal left from my original group was Lorraine, and she was in a bad mood. When I arrived I had placed my hand on her shoulder like I always do, but she brushed me away, so I knew she was having a bad night. I pulled up a chair between Gudrun and Eileen and asked the nurse what level Gudrun was at so I would know whether to physically feed her or just encourage her. I know Eileen and I really like her. She sits in her wheelchair, looking maybe sixty years old at the most, head bowed in either meditation or sleep or thought. I'm not sure. Usually Eileen breaks out into a falsetto song while her head is bowed and if you don't know where the singing is coming from, you wouldn't think it was from this sleeping woman! 

Gudrun talks. A lot. In Swedish. With a little English thrown in from time to time. Swedlish, really. She just talks and talks and talks and I just nod and nod and nod. Then she picks up her napkin and starts to walk away. I have to convince her to stay and eat, but it's not easy. Occasionally the nurse has to warn her sharply to sit still and eat. I feel bad for her, chastised like a child. But it's necessary. I pretend to understand Gudrun between bites of pureed hamburger, but I think I'm just agreeing that she should get up and leave, which she shouldn't, because she just keeps trying to do it. Lorraine swipes at the nurse, not wanting to eat and upset that he keeps asking her to try some food. Eileen feeds herself except for the applesauce. Then she secretly sings.

All the while I can't take my eyes off of Katherine, who is sitting next to Lorraine. Katherine is the woman who cried and cried at the Christmas party saying she didn't deserve any gifts because she shot him. Whatever that meant. I don't always see Katherine, but when I do I am mesmerized. She's tiny, like a frail old kitty. She's all bones and eyeglasses and thinning hair (perhaps a bonnet is in order!) and always a man's plaid shirt. And she always talks about very dark things. Tonight when crazy Anita, the lady who screams everything she says at the top of her lungs, pushed her clothing protector one too many times toward Katherine. Katherine just looked at Anita over her giant glasses and said meanly, "Do that one more time and I'm going to hit you in the face." But Anita is too far gone on her journey of dementia to understand it. Which would seem like a nice place to be, until you see Katherine. Katherine is constantly scared and angry. Tonight she repeatedly said that he "might try to kill her tonight." But she never explained who or why and she probably doesn't even know. At one point she kept eying a man at a far away table and telling the nurse that "he" was over there. The nurse asked who was over there and where? Katherine said she couldn't see him right at that moment but that he might just be hiding behind someone fatter than him. That was kind of cute, compared to the nightmares she usually talks about. Finally she decided it was time to leave and I said, "Good night, Katherine." She replied that I was talking about her, wasn't I? I told her no, I would never do that. She said I'd better not. I told her I'd see her next week and she said, "Probably not. I'll be dead before morning. If you hear a bang, it'll be from my apartment." What on earth happened during this woman's existence prior to the care center? Did she live a life of violence? Was she oppressed by someone, kept from realizing any of her dreams? Or was she a regular happy wife and mother whose new reality bears no resemblance to her old one? I couldn't stop thinking about her as I left the home for my own.

When I arrived back at my place with its snow crab trees busting at the seams to bloom but not quite ready, there was a giant rainbow towering over the neighbors' homes. Nice reminders that there is still beauty in this world, if not in Katherine's head.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

With All the Frills Upon It

Tonight driving home I happened to be listening to a very current female-centric radio station when a commercial came on for a hair replacement center aimed especially at the ladies. Good enough, I thought, if I was losing my hair I would run, not walk, to my closest hair replacement center. But then the gal talking about her struggle with hair loss and subsequent success with hair replacement therapy mentioned some of the issues she suffered when her hair was thinning. The woman complained (fairly enough) that as her hair grew more and more sparse, she found herself having to wear a bonnet to cover the problem. Did I hear that right? This poor gal was wearing a bonnet?

I'm no fashionista, but are bonnets hip again? Or was this woman Amish? And, if she chose to wear a bonnet, are we sure hair loss was her biggest problem?

Please Explain

I get that it's a Greek fast food restaurant so they're stealing Telly Savalas' famous line from Kojak because Savalas was a super famous Greek guy, but I don't get that lonely apostrophe hanging awkwardly to the right of the word "loves" on their cups. What is it doing there? Was it accidentally moved there from its rightful place as a comma after "ya"? Whatever the case, please change it before I throw up my chicken gyro. Thank you.

Friday, May 1, 2009

No Hummingbird

Why doesn't the world appreciate Tim Easton? His music, haunting and beautiful and happy and sad, tells common stories that anyone could relate to. He's open and friendly and creates an intimate atmosphere with his audience. Of course, it's easy to have intimacy in a bar with just dozens of people around. I was hoping last winter's Easton concert was a fluke, the few people in attendance a tragic result of the brutal cold. But this week it was just a little rainy out, nothing worth missing a great show for, and there weren't many more folks at the 400. Even though he didn't sing my favorite song of his, Hummingbird, he gave us a show with lots of heart and great new songs. Hopefully the next time he's in town from his home base in Joshua Tree he'll sing Hummingbird, and hopefully more people will be there to enjoy it.