Tonight I had some fried peppers with my dinner. I love fried peppers! Sauteed in a little olive oil with a sprinkle of salt, the onion rings tinged with gold and the peppers crisply tender. Surely there is no culinary image more beautiful than a panful of bell peppers, the scarlet and emerald green of the peppers contrasting with the white of the onion slices. Almost too pretty to eat. Almost!
Of course, bell peppers come in other colors, as well, yellow, orange, even purple, but they do not vary significantly in taste and and are often very pricey, so I used to buy them only when I wanted to make a presentation. No problem these days. I no longer make "presentations".
I also love stuffed peppers. One of my favorites is a recipe given to me many years ago by a Swedish friend in Stockholm. It is essentially a creamed chicken filling and she used to throw in a can of crabmeat for good measure. Very delicious.
My Lakeport grandsons are big pepper eaters. Raw. They nibble the peppers out of the salad, or steal bits before the salad is assembled, or slice them up for school lunches. One of them won't eat squash in any form, the other one can find the tiniest sliver of mushroom in his casserole, which he picks out and discards, but they really like peppers. Among many other things, of course.
(As you can tell, this discussion concerns bell peppers. Hot peppers are another subject. )
"I like the way you walk! Some of the old ladies are so SLOW!" A take-out boy at the supermarket once said this to me while helping me carry out my groceries. I was pushing 80 at the time and he looked to be about 16. One of the best compliments I have ever received!
Pianos I Have Known......I have never lived far from a piano. The first one was my mother's, a big bulky upright of the sort that graced American living rooms throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. This was the piano on which I learned to play. It had a beautiful shiny case, kept gleaming by my mother who loved the look and feel of the satiny wood. Itinerant tuners who passed through the countryside from time to time kept it tuned and regulated. When my grandfather, who suffered from dementia, came to live with us we moved the piano into a spare bedroom so as to disturb him as little as possible with my hours of practice. Of course it was not possible to shut it out completely and one day he said to my mother, "Does that girl read music?" When assured that I did, he muttered darkly, "I thought so!"
The first piano that I owned on my own, was a pretty little studio upright in a dark case with a lovely rich tone. I can't remember the make, but it was far superior to the parlor "spinets" that came later after WWll and were often just additions to the decor. These were the pianos that I encountered in the bars, lounges and dancehalls where I played during those years. They were mostly scarred-up veterans of the night-club scene, covered with rings from highball glasses and burns from neglected cigarettes. Likely not tuned regularly. I often had to transpose to another key to be in harmony with the sax or trumpet or the arrangements of the current guest singer.
When Erik and I married, he owned a small spinet, Kohler and Campbell, I think. Not a good piano, but it accompanied us on our various journeys and served the purpose for several years. All the kids practiced on this little piano. After we settled down in Alamo, I purchased two Mason and Hamlin pianos which I still have. An excellent studio upright, which I used in my studio, and a beautiful smallish grand, just the right size for our living room. These pianos have given me much pleasure and I hope will live long and useful lives after I am gone. Electronic keyboards are versatile and produce some exciting music, but no other instrument can ever supplant the sonorous, pure and brilliant sound of a good piano. Alexander Liebermann, my wonderful teacher, thought of his piano as an old and good friend. I do, too.
It sometimes seems to me that the world is divided into two parts: There's the dog lovers. And there's the rest of us.
Now, don't get me wrong, I am not a dog hater. I am just not a "dog lover." I have known several dogs in my life that I liked a lot and I admire many things about this wonderful creature. I admire his liquid eyes, his beauty (or not), his wagging tail, his silly grin and his undying devotion and loyalty to the people he loves. I do not admire his shedding coat, his poop, his personal hygiene habits, his snarl and bared teeth. I do not appreciate his vocal sounds, ranging from the basso profundo "woof" to the falsetto "yip-yip- yip".
I have the same reservations about cats. I like other people's cats and I admire their beauty (no "or not" here, you seldom see a cat who is not beautiful), their playfulness, the inscrutable eyes, the comfortable coziness of a sleeping cat, their aloofness, the mystery that seems to surround them. I do not like them drooling in my lap, kneading their claws into my leg, twining around my ankles so walking is difficult. I do not like them prowling the counters, licking the butter dish. While I appreciate the thought, I do not enjoy having gifts of mice, frogs and moths (mostly still mostly alive) deposited on my doorstep when I step out to retrieve the morning paper.
I do not like personal contact with animals and where this aversion came from, I do not know. But I don't want to pet, rub, stroke, cuddle, or otherwise interact with them and I sure as heck don't want them licking my face or sharing my food.
While I do not understand the personal interaction between people and their pets, I don't have any quarrel with it as long as I am not asked to participate. You snuggle with Tiger and Fido and I will sit over here and enjoy them from a distance. I realize this puts me in a distinct minority of the population, but as I have said before, we are what we are. Somewhere along the road to my development I picked up this prejudice and it has remained with me. I don't especially like it but it is too late to change now!
(My apologies to Barney, Juice, Hazel, Duffy, Nureyev, Chico, Rags, Old Dane, Winkie and the other pets who have shared my life. I really was fond of you all even if I didn't want to rub your tummies.)