Thursday, April 8, 2021

Boomer Covid Safety: The Three Things You Gotta Do


 (1) Above, the basic outfit, worn anywhere outside the house.  Naturally, you wash the face shield with dish soap and hot water when you come home, and toss the FFP2 mask or at least spray it with that mix of citric acid, water and dish soap you can find on the net and hang it up to dry. After it's dry, you only use it to take out the garbage or get your mail. For actual outings--to the grocery store, the post office--and on public transport, you're wearing a brand new FFP2 mask.



(2) The basic test, but do it at home, not where you find yourself in a very non-socially-distanced line with fifty other people, some of whom made appointments--and do the administrators here give the proverbial damn? Notice the single line on my test. Negative! Now, let me dance wildly (or at least use my cross-trainer) to the tune of Sting's Synchronicity:

 With one swab! 

Just one poke!

You will know

Negativity!

A sharp wince

A Q-tip hints

Will it evince

Negativity!! 


(3) The hardest part, but easier for Boomers: get your doctor to fill out a form. A letter's not enough. A filled-out form, like a uniform, commands a certain respect. Form in hand, proceed to the vaccination center, even if they won't give you an appointment. Trust me, they don't want to have to throw away that BioNtech they took out of the deep-freeze if people fail to show up for their appointments. And people do. The folks who follow Facebook instead of CDC recommendations . . .  oh, don't get me started. Curmudgeonhood is upon me. On the bright side, I'm negative.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

A Rant: Teutonics in the Time of Covid (apologies to Edvard Grieg)

 

The Hall of the Mountainous Bureaucracy

 

Recycling is what the Germans do:

The paper’s gray to show it isn’t new

Throw green glass bottles here, not white glass too!

If basic sorting’s not your thing, they’re blue.

 

But filling forms out is their chiefest joy

Their second, stamping them in red or black

And saying no’s orgastic, don’t annoy

The thin-lipped, red-faced clerk or show you’re slack.

 

“Verboten!” or “Privat!” is what they grunt

Just fail to fill it out or estimate

A date, just show a failure to confront

Exactitude, and you will have to wait:

 

Oh, look up from that form and see the sun!

And turn to stone, bean-counters, one by one.


 

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

How I Cut Through the Gordion Knot of German Bureaucracy and Got Vaccinated

I ought to be first in line. Really. I'm in my sixties and have metastatic breast cancer. Granted, I feel fine and live a normal life, but I'm not in the first bloom of youth. So I checked the local list and I was supposedly in Group Two--Group One being doctors, teachers, therapists. My boss wrote me a letter. No dice. My oncologist wrote me a letter and filled out a form. No dice. But I did, as advised, phone the vaccination center and tell them all about my letter.

    "Oh, we are sorry but . . . blah, blah, blah . . . you can try again in a few weeks."

Which I did do. And they said, 

    "Oh, we are sorry but . . .  blibber, blibber, blibber . . .  you can try again in a few weeks." Now, I happen to live right next to the testing center, so after getting my free test today (and feeling as though my nose had been electrocuted) I thought I'd just stroll right on over to the vaccine center (in a different building from the testing center, just to complicate things) and see if they threw me out.

I entered and was asked to show my ID card and the printout of my appointment--proof that I had one. Instead, I whipped out my doctor's letter and kept my face sterner than it's ever been. My face, ladies and gentlemen, looked like it was cut out of oak and I've been massaging it ever since. 

The guy at the desk looked deeply puzzled. Now, when teutonic administators get deeply puzzled, I have noticed, they do one of two things: they throw you out or they find and fill out a form you've never seen before (and neither have they, probably). He filled. I watched, waiting to be thrown out, but he waved me through to the next room, where I was stopped at a table and urged to fill out several more pages of forms. I did so. And take a number. I did. 

When they called a group of numbers I thought was 200-250, I followed those people, though, as it turns out, they'd called up to 240 and I was 241. We were seated and my number came up. Into the little booth I went, where a man who looked and sounded like Dostoevsky's Underground Man inquired whether I had my vaccination pass. This is it, I thought. Damn, so close, but now they'll throw me out. But no! He pulled out three--or was it four?--more forms and I had to fill out one while he diddled with the others. One of those forms, I realized, was my next appointment. They were offering BioNtech that day, he said. Did I have any concerns? No, I answered, my one concern having been that he would throw me out. One jab later, the doctor said I had to sit around for fifteen minutes. I did, but things were chaotic enough that I could have walked out immediately and no one would have noticed. It's been five hours since the shot. No side effects. Yet.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Boomer Black Beans

 

Here are some things you can put into your black beans--a big bell pepper or two, some sun-dried tomatoes, red onions, and shallots. I wash the pepper, chop the sun-dried tomatoes, and let them all sit around while I get the beans ready. Which is something you do the night before. Yes, soak them--about a coffee-mug filled with beans if you're feeding two teenagers and yourself. You can freeze leftovers or keep them in the fridge for around four days.

What kind of beans? An important point. I used to scoop up whatever was available at the local Asian market, but my experience with those beans is that they never get soft enough, no matter how long I soak them. One of my kids seems to like them chewy, but I don't. I like Camil brand Brazilian beans--generally speaking, any South American brand will tend to be less chewy.

The night before: put the beans in cold water--completely covered with at least an inch of water. Put a sheet of aluminum foil over the bowl overnight. No need to refrigerate unless the weather is very warm.

The next day: about three hours before you want to eat, drain and rinse the beans. Put them in a Dutch oven with a fresh bay leaf or two, and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, then lower the temperature and allow the beans to simmer, covered. Non-vegans may wish to add chopped chorizo, or any kind of sausage you like.

Sauté the shallots, chopped red onions and pressed garlic in olive oil, gradually adding the pepper and red onions. Feel free to substitute carrots or other vegetables. Set aside. When the beans are getting soft, add the vegetables and a little veggie broth. Eat over rice--lately, we've been enjoying this over sticky rice, which you can make in a rice cooker. Just rinse in hot water first.


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Why Megyn Kelly is Wrong about Piers Morgan

Yesterday, Megyn Kelly appeared on BBC defending Piers Morgan's right to "free speech."


 

The way she had it, he was ostracized for stating an unpopular opinion. In a ladylike fashion, she said she didn't have to agree with Morgan, but she defended his "right" to speak freely.

But Piers Morgan wasn't "speaking" freely. He was having a tantrum. He was ranting. He was one minute from flopping on the floor, kicking and screaming, toddler style. 

If Morgan had quietly stated that he didn't believe a word Meghan Markle said about feeling suicidal, people would have listened and wondered. If he'd had the slimmest of facts to back up that opinion, he'd have been on a roll. But stomping off into the wings yelling "not doing this!" and yelling (not stating calmly, but exclaiming angrily) "I wouldn't believe her if she were reading the weather report!"--that's just bad behavior. Volcanic, Morgan was spouting hatred, not articulating any particular thought.

Think how a woman behaving that way would be treated. Not sympathetically. Try to imagine Christiane Amanpour or Oprah Winfrey or Katie Couric tantrumming the way Morgan did. They wouldn't get a second set of interviews the very next day. They'd be silenced.

The way Meghan Markle was silenced. Megyn Kelly, too--she made a mistake thinking blackface was okay in a Hallowe'en costume because, as I recall, "Who doesn't wanna be Diana Ross?" Wham! Was she OUT.

But she's defending Morgan--not for inadvertent crassness, not for unconscious racism, but for a childish, rage-filled rant, for which he should be ashamed. At the very least he should offer reasons for his beliefs instead of casting Meghan Markle as Darth Vader.

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

What's Wrong with Piers Morgan?

I've only seen the snippets, not the whole interview, but was rooting for the young couple the whole time. Piers Morgan's response genuinely shocked me--I used to think of him as reasonable and honest. Back in 2013 I posted about his interview with lunatics who think the "right to bear arms" means they can roll out tanks and shoot anything that moves. I watched him defend Susan Boyle. Why doesn't he get the difference between random hostilities like the "Waity Katie" remark and the ominous racism obvious in questions about how dark Meghan's unborn child's skin would be? Why was he ranting about Prince Philip's health as though the interview were designed to insult the ailing grandpa when he's down? What bee was buzzing inside Morgan's tight little bonnet? Why is he defending Meghan's oafish, self-centered father, whose manipulative attempts to force his daughter to sympathize are repugnant? Meghan has risen above her dreadful family, kept her head with the help of her lovely mother and attentive husband. Morgan's script is boringly familiar: "She's a bad woman!" (Like Eve--things have been going downhill ever since she handed Adam that apple.) No matter what her father did--publishing a private letter is pretty damn bad--she should forgive him. I'm sure Meghan's forgiven her father and moved on--that doesn't mean she'd want to see him again. Nobody in her right mind would want to cozy up a parent who has harmed her.

I guess Piers Morgan is typical of a bunch of mostly white, mostly males shouting, "How Dare She?" in response to the wise, resourceful, brave, vulnerable, courageous Meghan and her deeply concerned husband. I think of the end of Pretty Woman:


What happens when the prince climbs up the tower and rescues the princess? Why, she rescues him right back, she answers, and they kiss.

Harry and Meghan are no longer just surviving--they are thriving.  Those who believe in the stiff upper lip and duty are those who pretend to rise above the constant insults, the invasion of privacy, that always seems to go with celebrity and--in this case--the actual presumed link, however faint it may seem, to divine right. The royal family has it worse than Hollywood celebrities, since the monarch is Head of the Church and Defender of the Faith. God's right-hand woman, ruling by His grace. The price of all that godliness is emotional numbness. No wonder Meghan longed to escape, and Harry realized that other ways were possible. He defended her and by her example she revealed that nobody has to be "trapped" as he certainly was.

How much members of the firm must wish to park their aching clay feet on a table and not be asked about podiatry, shoes, marriage, hygiene, or any other topic a tabloid can sell. Harry's feet, in the latest photo with Meghan and toddler Archie, have been scrutinized by prurient podiatrists along with everybody else. The further he walks from the royals, the less the tabloids will long to scrutinize toenail clippings. And those poor royals. They really think that exposing feelings is declassé.

The escape seems complete: Harry and Meghan are Californians now. What if Harry applied for American citizenship? Against all odds, they escaped alive from the firm, fought back, and are firming up their own plans. I salute them and can't wait to see the baby girl.

P.S. One friend's theory: Morgan has a crush on Harry. My theory: Morgan's actually got a crush on Meghan and she dared to say, "no, thanks." On the other hand, Morgan's claimed he's falling on a sword for the truth--that metaphor tips the balance toward Harry again.

P.P.S: The antidote: 



Saturday, March 6, 2021

A Very Green Boomer Meal with a dash of COVID Rejection

A vitamin-packed, easy and delicious meal. You will need:

An artichoke (which you'll enjoy with melted butter and lemon juice whisked together or Hollandaise sauce--the packaged kind you heat up for two minutes)

Salt

Olive oil--about two tablespoons

One or two red onions

Several cloves of garlic, pressed

Several small packages of spinach or one big one

Feta cheese

Filo dough

 

The artichoke is the appetizer. If it's a large one, it needs about an hour to boil. Dump it into a large pot filled with water at a rolling boil and a handful of salt:


While the artichoke is incubating, or before, wash and drain your spinach. While it's still draining in a colander, chop the red onion gently sauté it. Add the pressed garlic and then the spinach: 


The spinach will fill the pan, but quickly cook down: 

Now you can get out your filo dough. I used this: 


Unpack the dough--you'll have about eight sheets--and cut it in half. Take two or three of the half-sheets and place them in a large baking dish (or cookie sheet) you've slicked slightly with olive oil. Each sheet should be baptized in at least a drop of oil, then spread out. Expectantly.

 Onto these anointed sheets, place a dollop of the spinach-onion-garlic mix. Savor the aroma!


If you're vegan, you're nearly done. You just fold the ends over the spinach mix, bake the little thing for about twenty minutes at around 190º, and yum!

But I'm a Boomer so I added the feta:

Then I folded up the ends:


Bake this til it's crispy brown--generally about fifteen or twenty minutes, but keep checking to make sure it doesn't burn. You can cover it with a sheet of baking parchment for a few minutes (or loose aluminum foil--you don't want to steam it though).

And to drink? This stuff looked fun: 


Red wine. But not just any red wine. You Americans: The title translates as VACCINE. But this being Germany, there's a cute little disclaimer underneath, reading: "Protects against no virus but makes the situation somewhat more comfortable."

Sure thing. It's also a "Qualitätswein" for "everyone with a sense of humor." Now is the wine a joke, or is this a really fun wine also belonging to that specifically German category of pretty good table wine--definitely a notch above rot gut, but not the very highest level. Probably pretty damn good, but I'll write a postscript if not.


Postscript: Chateaux Pissoir. Oh, in my opinion.

Monday, March 1, 2021

Boomer Drumstick Delight

Chicken drumsticks are easy and, according to boomer ideology, nutritious.  

(1) Place the drumsticks on a large plate or in the baking dish you plan to use. Coat with the flavored salt of your choice; Americans might like Lawry's seasoned salt. I used a German equivalent that includes paprika, cumin, and sugar. Leave in fridge for several hours or overnight--this ensures crispier skin.

(2) Remove from fridge. Wait until chicken is at room temperature.

(3) Chop and place in the bottom of the baking dish the following: a red onion, a red bell pepper, some garlic cloves (you can leave these whole), a few black olives, a few artichoke hearts (from a jar or a can) and some lemon slices. Put the drumsticks on top of all of this.

(3) Bake at 190º-200º C (400-ish F) for around an hour.  About fifteen minutes in, loosely place a sheet of aluminum foil over the dish. You may also wish to turn the drumsticks when you're about halfway through. 

Voila!

I served it with polenta made with lemon juice, vegetable broth and Parmesan, but potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, rice, are all good.

Enjoy!

Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Accidental Gardener: A Tale of Uncertainties

I was always fond of plants, but now I'm buying them the way some people scoop up detergent or panty hose on sale. We've acquired approximately nine plants since we moved in, plus the avocado seed I'm trying to grow. I did what has worked in the past: dump the seed in lukewarm water in a coffee cup, so that half of it is above water, and set it in the sun. Lo! The seed shows signs of germinating, namely splitting halfway down the middle, dramatically. If I'm lucky a thin green stalk will be sticking out of the seed some morning soon. 

I bought a bag of potting soil at the local Edeka, stuff that claimed it was good for all balcony and house plants, and I re-potted a few that were getting a bit cramped in their original pots. I didn't notice the smell until later: fertilizer? As in, cow manure? Whatever was wafting strongly across the living room sure stank. Meanwhile, the avocado seed's already dug its little heels into the dirt, and I hope is satisfied. This all-purpose soil might not be "loamy" enough; let's hope it doesn't give our little plant high blood pressure. Here's how things look at present:



According to the package, however, there's nothing but "plant" or composted plant material in that earth. "Just wait a few days," said a friend, "the smell will go away." Or I could add more coffee grounds--they're just filled with nutrients!--to camouflage the odor. 

 Here are some of the avocado seed's neighbors: a sweet little lemon tree, a sturdy cactus, and a God Knows What thingie with pink buds that seems happy on the sunny windowsill:


The lemon tree was advertised as having a "lovely aroma." We could sure use a lovely aroma around here, but maybe the lemons (which are still green and slowly turning yellow) aren't strong enough to produce it yet. Lemon tree, very pretty . . . 

Here are a few of the larger members of the clan:


And here's the one making us keep the balcony door open most of the time!

And a few of the ones needing, theoretically, less light. The rubber tree got a little sunburned before I put it here . . .  one leaf started going orange. 

I love plants, and had thought they'd help with the cigarette smoke wafting through the walls from our partying (alas in the time of COVID) neighbors. Maybe they do, maybe they do. They are delightful to look at and yes, following Prince Charles's lead, I chat with them. They never answer, of course, but I imagine that they perk up.


Thursday, February 18, 2021

Boomer Vegan Curry

Even a boomer like me, who can't give up milk, cream, and the occasional chicken with crispy skin, goes for emergent cuisines. I like to combine the ease of Betty Crocker with the palate of the modern age. Although I am perfectly capable of assembling my own set of spices, I found this product handy:


But of course a bottled curry is rarely as zingy as I want it, so I added more of some key ingredients, namely coriander and garlic, garlic, garlic. The other ingredients, potatoes, red and orange bell peppers, red onions and carrots, enjoyed a brief stir-fry before I mooshed in the curry paste, the extra coriander and a dash of cumin. I can't remember whether I threw in grated ginger, but you can never go wrong with grated ginger. After all was nicely mixed, I stirred in 400 ml (around 14 oz) of creamy coconut milk:

I let the mixture bubble, bubble, boil with no trouble before turning it down to a brief simmer and serving it over red cargo rice. Pairs nicely with red wine: 

The nice thing about curry is its inexactitude. Only have an eight-ounce can of coconut milk? That's okay. Add a little vegetable broth. In fact, add that anyway. You can add it dry to the fourteen-ounces of coconut milk or reconstituted in boiling water to the eight ounces of coconut milk. Or perhaps you prefer less coconut milk anyway. But I love the stuff. Could swim in it. 

A tasty desert after this meal: candied ginger with the last of the wine.



Thursday, January 28, 2021

Another Boomer Meatloaf

Few things please me more on a cold winter night than a delicious meatloaf and a glass of red wine. The basics are always the same: around a half kilo of ground pork, onions and garlic sautéed in olive oil (I prefer red onions) and an egg. Variations are endless, and this time I discovered a bottle of capers in the fridge and remembered we had some Sambal Oelek and a flavor pack. So I stirred in the mixed spices and spread the Sambal Oelek and the capers on top:

Then I baked the meatloaf for about an hour at about 180º, covering it with aluminum foil for about the last half hour. Voila:

Polenta and sautéed spinach rounded out the meal:



The leftovers (alas, not many) made a good lunch the next day.


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

The Critical Mom and the Maskless Mansplainer

They're called "Querdenkers" here in Germany, a term that used to mean "maverick" or "unconventional" but now implies "dangerous" and "lunatic." They've been spotted among my children's teachers, yes, an unmasked person giving an unmasked talk about his supposed civil rights being violated in front of an unmasked audience. All on social media. And then this dude is back in the classroom, resentfully manslipping his mask, that is, letting it slide below his nose. 

We stepped into the elevator, my child and I, in our FFP masks, and never before or since have I wished that I'd had more than a meter's distance between myself and other person. 

The bald, leather-jacketed fellow wore no mask, but I'd assumed he was heading home, alone, so felt no need of protection. We stepped into the corner. 

But he turned toward us, eyes blazing, and announced: "You know, those masks don't do anything. They don't prevent viruses."

We wanted to inch even further into the corner, but were unable to do so.

"If there's another lockdown," he said, "Well, I hope there won't be another lockdown!" He rolled his massive shoulder proudly, as if they would have looked insecure if he'd had a mask on. 

After less than two minutes, we were in the open air. 

Manslippers, mansplainers: put your FFP2s on and behave yourselves.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Mr. Deformity, Our Snow Man

 

Here he stands in all his dubious glory. So eager were we to see the first biggish snowfall since my children were young that I forgot to bring along a carrot for his nose. I assumed I'd find pebbles for his eyes, but I assumed wrong. I tried leaves, and the poor thing ended up with one eye much higher than the other. Oh, well. Maybe some budding Cubist painter will come along and find him inspiring. On our way home, we found a large indentation in the back of his head, which had been assaulted by falling melted snow . . . no more brain. We decided he now resembled the outgoing POTUS, whatsishame. But our Mr. Deformity is much friendlier. See his funny little head, tilted as if in greeting, his leafy eyes and twiggy nose wagging a hello. He'd hug you if he were able to do so.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Clueless American and the Kindly German Bureaucrat

Such persons as kindly German bureaucrats do not exist, you might think. I'd been waking up at night worrying about one of my many bureaucratic issues . . .  to live in Germany is to have bureaucratic issues . . .  but this one had me sweating. When you move, you're supposed to register your new address with the "Citizen Office" or "Bürgeramt" within two weeks of your move.  And to register, you need all relevant documents. Did I have them? Well, somewhere. After all, I'd just moved. Everything was in boxes. And I was thinking like an American, a problem I tend to have, repeatedly.

Imagine moving from New York to Chicago and being required to go to an office to document that you've left your New York address behind for your Chicago address. Why would anyone care, I wonder. But they do care. Oh, they do.

Last night I was talking with one of my teenagers about this application and explained--my explanation eliciting a startled look--that this kind of registration wasn't required in the USA. 

"But Mom," said my child, "How do they know how many people they have living in the city, then, or where they live?" 

"They don't care that much," I said. "Anyway, there's always the census and your taxes." I had to explain that in the States, I'd just send my new address around to various important places, like my accountant's office.

To register at our local Bürgeramt, my older kid told me, I'd need my American passport, my German residency permit (Oh, and everyone has a card--if you're a citizen you have to have a personal identification card, too. Yes, in addition to your passport) and proof of my new address. I'd need the lease and some other document I've forgotten the name of that my landlord gave me. "And," my kid said, "You need the original, mom!" 

Which of course I had. In a box somewhere. I unpacked those boxes. I looked into those big gray notebooks I now stick various documents into . . .  though I never know what to do with the various documents I've stored there. I paged through those notebooks repeatedly, sure I'd stuck the lease in there.

I hadn't. But then I did find it, in a box. Then I discovered that a huge part of the lease had been sent only via email. The email was actually the original! I printed out all nineteen pages and stuck them in a plastic document pocket with the passport, the residency card, and the "original" part of the lease and went off to my appointment hoping for the best. Waiting on the tram platform, I nearly turned around and went home, since I hadn't brought the bill from the moving company documenting the date on which I'd moved.

My head swimming with dire tales of people who'd waited a few months instead of the two weeks, and had to pay a 500 euro fine, or even a 1,000 euro fine, or lost their benefits, I trembled into the agency, sat down in the waiting area, and pulled out my book. I'd been told to keep my eye on the screen until my number came up, and I figured I'd have a good two-hour wait. Barely had I gotten through a paragraph when my number came up, and I went to the assigned booth and nervously explained, before anyone even asked, how sorry I was that I was late with this, there'd been family illnesses and  . . . 

The young woman with the non-matching fingernails (some were pale pink and some were red glitter) waved a hand.

"Ist in Ordnung," she breathed, as if she saw Americans like me every day and accepted their odd ways.  I could hardly believe she wasn't going to yell and scold and explain that this one time there'd no fine but I'd better watch out next time . . . .

And then there was a problem. But only a little one. They want the personal id card of the child who is living with me. Having it is "very important!" but I can bring it by in a day or two. I hope I get the same clerk or somebody just as nice. Kurt Tucholsky, a German-Jewish writer, observed: “The German nightmare is to stand in front of a counter, the German dream is to sit behind a counter.” But today I saw the exception to that rule, and I feel downright cheerful.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Our Global Warming Snowfall

 


I almost thought I'd never see snow again. Here we are--the third week in January--and nothing but a few lazy flakes that dissolved before they hit the ground. But here's the real thing. I hope it's there when I wake up in the morning. I won't be able to go to the gym--or anywhere--but as I leap, not with enthusiasm, onto my cross trainer while Barry Manilow Coca-Cabanas, or Blondie Heart-of-Glasses, I'll enjoy the sight of the snow.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Our Decaying Slum Upon a Hill

When I tuned into the live hearings, yet another senator was hauling out that frayed phrase, "a city upon a hill . . . " popularized by John Winthrop's 1630 sermon, but hailing of course from the Bible--the parable of salt and light in Jesus's Sermon on the Mount. I've lost track of how many presidents and how many politicians have pulled that moldy old thing out of the drawer, but I'll never forget that Sarah Palin attributed the metaphor to Ronald Reagan. 

The bad part is that our senators still think America is exceptional. Or feel they have to claim that it is. The eyes of the world are upon us, because we're exceptionally awful. We elected a gangster, we spread COVID like wildfire, we've colonized oil-rich regions under the guise of bringing them democracy, and don't get me started on our other sins. 

Some leader ought to be pointing out that we've failed dramatically but plan to do better. "Some day," the speaker of the house ought to say, "we'll be worthy of the notion that America is a shining example--a city upon a hill." If we try really hard, and we'll start by taking Greta Thunberg seriously and acting on all her recommendations.

If American were the City Upon A Hill, Mike Pence would have invoked the 25th Amendment. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and every other possible platform--Parler.Com I Mean You--would have banned Trump the nanosecond he displayed his un-presidential qualities. We would not be engulfed by Q-Anon.

In this kind of chaos, as Yeats observed, the best lack all conviction and the worst are filled with passionate intensity. Let's have some passionate intensity from the best, and some spine. Remove this horrifying criminal from office. If we can't do that, we're not America.



Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Pasta While the Capitol Burns

Okay, Nero's not playing his violin. The dead aren't jumping out of their graves and wandering the streets; the horses aren't eating each other. But it's bad. The Trumpistos are out there; the police aren't using tear gas or rubber bullets--they're not nearly as violent as they were at peaceful Black Lives Matter protests. The MAGA folks aren't exactly the "fierce fiery warriors" in Julius Caesar,  but they still

drizzled blood upon the Capitol.
The noise of battle hurtled in the air.
 
Nobody's rounding these rowdies up. What to do? Hole up in a place far, far away--I'm in an order-loving neighborhood of an order-loving city in order-loving Germany. Traffic noise all but disappears when I shut my window. I stare at CNN in sorrow and then, since I can't magic away the bad guys or erase Trump's latest rot about the election being stolen, I cook. 

This is what I made:

Call it Pasta Insurrectionista. Details: 

I went to my local REWE, where I shopped among the masked octogenarians, purchasing that fennel sausage I love so much, two little bags of fresh spinach, red onions.

At home: I chopped the red onions, put them in the olive-oil-drizzled pan. Added chopped garlic. How much? Lots. Around ten cloves. Added the sausage, each one sliced into four or five pieces. Stir. Add the spinach. Stir. Add a sliced tomato. Stir. Boiled water, added four-cheese tortellini. Boiled two minutes, drained, added to sausage mix. Add freshly ground pepper. Stir. Grate Parmesan or Asiago. Voila! A glass or two of red wine help to blot out the reality on the screen.

P.S. Also watched the second Borat.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Inspired Winter Chicken

When it's freezing outside, chicken and potatoes are always good, but I was looking for a new spin on an old meal. I've tried plain chicken: salt and pepper the bird, put it in a dish, leave it in the fridge overnight so the skin gets crispy, and bake it. That was my husband's favorite recipe. But I liked stuffing the bird with a lemon, or lemon and garlic, or lemon, garlic and rosemary. We always had fresh rosemary growing in our garden, but the children didn't like that particularly tangy herb, so when they were eating with us, we had to leave it out. 

Browsing in REWE, I came across fennel-stuffed sausages and vaguely remembered a restaurant meal involving chicken and sausages. I've tried different versions of this recipe--you can use chicken thighs instead if you like--but tonight's version involves the following:

One entire (preferably corn-fed) chicken that has been seasoned and left in a pan in the fridge overnight. This time I used a salt-rosemary mix. 

One pack fennel sausages--the kind you'd normally fry in the pan, or skewer and roast over a campfire. The kind you can't eat raw. 

Red onions--sliced in largish chunks

Garlic--lots. Whole cloves--six or eight. 

Roma tomatoes or any juicy-looking medium sized bunch of tomatoes. You might want three or four.

Put the bird in the pan. Slice the sausages--usually about four come in a pack--and stuff them into the chicken. Add around three cloves of garlic. You can truss the bird too, with twine (I did) but you don't have to do so.  

Slice the tomatoes and the red onions and put them in the pan with the rest of the garlic. Place the bird on top. Bake at 220º for around an hour and a half. I put aluminum foil over the bird so it wouldn't get too dry or too brown on top, and basted it a few times. 

I fully intended to provide a photograph of the finished product--but most of it was inhaled by a hungry adolescent before I could do so. 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

O Christmas Tree!

 


Here we are in our new place with our resourceful Yucca tree--to whom I gave extra water for all its labors. I was tempted to spike the water but realized in time I'd like that better than the tree. We're having a very merry one, both Vegan and non, the non part duck a l'orange. Also dumplings. Also red cabbage. Also, possibly, Ben-Hur. Now's the time to sit around lazily and listen to Elvis Presley crooning Christmas. Have a good one!

Dinner: Duck, swimming in orange sauce, dumplings, red cabbage with apples, cookies, red wine. Yum. 

Dessert: a movie? Gossip? We're still deciding.  Red wine. Glug.  

P.S. The kids said Die Hard was "a Christmas movie."  ("It's SET at Christmas, Mommy.") Alan Rickman was so young!

Friday, December 11, 2020

Our Continuing Covid Crisis

 

In the olden days, teenagers gossiped about who was dating whom. Or who was wearing what. Or who’d done this to that. Times have changed. Now they invent stories about who has COVID or who should be quarantining. A teacher at my daughter’s school came up to her in the hall and asked her why she wasn’t home quarantining—classmate X had said my daughter and another friend were in quarantine because a third friend had COVID.  No, said my daughter, she didn’t have COVID. She’d already done a rapid test that was negative. 

 

When I took her to the internist for the rapid COVID test, I was ushered out to the stairwell, where, ensconced in my FFP mask and plastic face shield, I stood reading, shrinking toward the back wall whenever anyone exited the premises or arrived in the elevator. My corona app continues to inform me that I had “one encounter” with “low risk” and that could have been on the tram or in the supermarket. My daughter texted me: “I have to wait fifteen minutes for results.” The oversize Q-Tip up the nose had been anything but pleasant. The fifteen minutes turned into thirty. I WhatsApped, “??????” but she was still waiting. Another ten minutes rolled by. “I bin waitin’ on the railllroad,” I texted. She emerged. “Negative!” Right behind her, a woman with a grim look emerged, the words of a nurse behind her audible: “Call us if it gets worse.” Once the infected person had left, we held our breath and charged down the stairs. In the open air we breathed again and I went into the local pharmacy to stock up on FFP masks. 

 

At my teenager’s high school, orchestra rehearsals have just been cancelled “because of rising cases of COVID,” even though the windows are always wide open, the musicians sit six feet apart, and the wind instruments, who can’t wear masks, have an elaborate segregated area all their own. Meanwhile, gym class in a room with maskless sweaty boys dashing about and almost no ventilation takes place regularly. A teacher was spotted on a video giving a speech at an anti-maskers protest. Where going maskless was de rigueur. Another teacher said something along the lines of COVID being “not that bad.” Reportedly, a local doctor writes anyone who wants one a medical excuse claiming the person cannot wear a mask because of breathing problems. When the movers came to take my furniture to my new apartment, several weren’t wearing masks. I offered one an FFP and he thanked me. But didn’t wear it. The next time I saw him he had on a thin cloth mask. I retreated upstairs. 

 

Like Greta Garbo, I Vant To Be Alone. But I’m a relatively old person. I can write, do a few ballet exercises, use my cross trainer. From time to time I like to come out to see my family, even if only on Zoom. I rejoice to see my kids in person whenever doing so is possible. But I feel for those who can’t be alone, hope they survive, and yearn for them to keep their contagion to themselves.