|The Squirrels Strike Back|
For those of you unfamiliar with the State of Michigan- my sympathies, but I hope you stay that way and don't come here in hordes to shatter my tranquility. Well...you can come in the summer months if you wish, for that is when I stay away.
I myself am only familiar with the delights offered by the southwestern part of the state where it snuggles up to Lake Michigan and is within a 75 minute drive from Chicago. That is good enough for me at this point in my life.
I write this from Michigan, a log fire crackling in the fireplace which is really the best place for it. Birdsong competes with a Fürtwängler Ring from La Scala 1950 and the gently falling rain. I am even wearing slippers which is a sure sign that I have left the hurly-burly world far behind.
I can only ever speak for myself (and my ventriloquist's dummy- but that's another story) as can you, and we are all different. I need to travel, it is not an option, even though it may mean just an 80 mile drive out of the city. I need to stare at the sea or feel sand or grass beneath my feet and to be quiet and unrushed.
My pulse at the moment is probably unmeasureable though it will take leaps and bounds at the end of Act I of Siegfried which is playing- when the hero smites the anvil and the band goes berserk with joy. Don't worry- I will take a dip in the hot tub afterwards to calm my nerves. Log fire, birdsong, Wagner and chilled beer.....hey! Life is good!
So much of one's time is not one's own, to do with as one pleaseth. The cliché "Stopping to smell the roses" carries weight with me. I have been as guilty as the next man (I think his name is Jim or Bob, or er, maybe Jim-Bob) in taking on too much all at once, trying to be here there and everywhere, of living life to the maximum. But of course you can't be in two places at once and there are always choices and compromises to make. Too much planning can be a bad thing with schedules to adhere to. In Michigan there is no schedule for me. What comes next, comes next.
What in fact is coming next, back in the real world, is a trip to San Francisco to see Rheingold, Walküre, and Siegfried in June. That will be a quick in and out, over in less than 6 days and there will be no rose sniffing given the time constraints. I will, however, get to visit with Terri on her home turf for the first time and sample her tasty wares. It will be a rush though and not what I have been recommending all along. Of course I want to hear some Wagner in the newly refurbished War Memorial house as it was closed when I was last in SF to hear Lohengrin in '96 (Heppner, Mattila).
Hearing live opera has become a travel lure and all of my vacations in the past 5 years have been spent in an opera city, usually to hear Wagner. This I hope or imagine, will continue for the rest of my life.
There is no opera close by in Michigan but that is not why I am here. I am here to watch sunsets from a perch on the beach where I can drink wine and eat Brie and then go sizzle up a meal on the barbecue while listening to more Wagner.
Tonight I am doing shish kebabs featuring chunks of fresh squirrel (a little like chicken, only more "nutty" in flavor). If you need a change from 'burgers and steaks in your diet of charred outdoor meats, then I'd say give squirrel a try, but skin it first. I learned this the hard way, for the first time I tossed one on the barbie it was still in its fur and it smelled like a smouldering doormat and 'ere long there were squirrels perched on the picket fence and in the branches above, pelting me with acorns. I may know a bit about opera and nothing about pulling my punches and wear some pretty big trousers but I draw the line at messing with an armed band of vengeful squirrels. We ordered in some Chinese food until the heat died down.
Would that I had some of Terri's yummy truffles for "afters". My record stands at 5 of her truffles in my mouth all at once and, had it not been for a cigarette and the bottle of beer vying for room, I think I could have squeezed in another.
I much admire people with culinary skills, as I love to eat and occasionally get the urge to cook. I have been cooking since I was five years old when I was allowed to peel, boil and mash the potatoes that we eat for every meal in Ireland and this simple and filling food is still at the top of my list of comforts.
A well-meaning friend recently passed me a hand blender when it came time to mash the potatoes and I scoffed at him for I use only a dinner fork to whip them up into a delicious consistency. Blenders are fine if your guests are toothless old fogies who like to suck their potatoes through a straw or when you want to make a potato Margarita on a hot summer's day (popular in Ireland) but I scoff at them. I need only a fork, some butter, pepper and some whole milk to whip up a delight which I then mould onto the plate in the shape of a volcano, complete with open cone at the top for a knob of butter or as a reservoir for some gravy. Using the fork, I draw lines down the volcano to make it more realistic.
In Ireland we take our potatoes seriously which would make the potato famine of the 19th century all the more poignant. There are many more varieties to choose from there and in the countryside where I lived one could grow fond of a certain farmer's crop in a specific area of the county and seek out only those for a special treat.
I digress... I had just seen some truffles on Terri's newest page and that started the juices flowing.
Wherever you are- bon appetit!