Two new recipes

It’s amazing the kinds of recipes one can find in a Weight Watchers newsletter. Tonight Lore made spiced pork chops with pineapple salsa. It was like Hawaii and Mexico got together and had a delicious baby. (The hoopla surrounding the impending royal wedding  has me in an anti-monarchist mood, so I suggest calling this dish “pork chops Liliuokalani and Maximilian” after those countries’ dejected monarchs.)

A pan of melted chocolate and marshmallows contrasted with the recipe photo.
We're not sure where this one went wrong.

For dessert Lore attempted chocolate marshmallow bark, a simple recipe we thought. The result was an unattractive goop which, though at variance with the appealing photograph in the recipe, will probably taste just fine.

 

MC-252

I saw this in a movie once:
The farther upstream you go, the crazier everyone gets.
So two New Yorkers on a fast boat brought me way out to this desert island.
There is no water and no shade
But fifty people in hard-hats and Ty-Vek suits work in slow motion
In Mississippi’s midday sun shoveling oily sand into Hefty bags.
I think the heat is getting to them.

February 2, 2011. Each year the city solicits poems for its Poetry in Public Program. Again, I dashed off a last minute verse. Again it was not selected. That’s the problem with living in a UNESCO City of Literature—too many poets.

I saw this in a movie once:

The farther upstream you go, the crazier everyone gets.

So two New Yorkers on a fast boat brought me way out to this desert island.

There is no water and no shade

But fifty people in hard-hats and Ty-Vek suits work in slow motion

In Mississippi’s midday sun shoveling oily sand into Hefty bags.

I think the heat is getting to them.

Unfamiliar Fishes

An interview last month with Sarah Vowell on “The Daily Show” alerted me to the availability of her new book “Unfamiliar Fishes”. I completed this short read about the annexation of Hawaii in a tidy five days.

When we honeymooned in Hawaii a couple of years ago, I sensed a sad aspect to the place: the greasy slackers, the high prices, the cluttered beaches, the struggling aboriginal culture, the besieged native flora and fauna, the suffocating military presence. I admit most of these were greatly amplified in Honolulu’s urban environment. I didn’t find Maui quite so distressing but such things were easy to overlook while swimming in the turquoise surf under perfect weather and backed up by lush green scenery.

The sad aspect of America’s archipelagic paradise resonates throughout Vowell’s book. Her narrative reminds me that Hawaii is a very different state, in terms of its historical perspective, from those on the mainland. For example, it is the only state that used to be an independent kingdom. Vowell writes of how attached some Hawaiians still are to their long-ago deposed monarchy. To them the monarchs are symbols of the islands’ cultural heritage, though the former kingdom’s lame attempts at creating a modern nation-state also laid the foundations of its demise.

Such an attachment to a ruling caste of unelected inbreeds is a bit unhealthy in a modern democracy. At times while I was reading I worried that Vowell would miss this and lapse into a bleeding-heart narrative of gentle savages victimized by big, bad white men. As usual, though, Vowell’s account is more nuanced than that and describes how concern for the royal lineage’s well-being has its roots in certain traditional Hawaiian values.

The fall of independent Hawaii is also a story about the fall of America’s self-image as a repository of republican virtue. In annexing Hawaii, the United States justified its new empire of island possessions by rejecting many of the moral pretenses articulated in the Declaration of Independence.

In “Unfamiliar Fishes” Vowell does somewhat less linking tangible places and things to broader historical themes than she did in her best book, “Assassination Vacation”. If we go back to Hawaii, though, I’ll try harder not to breeze past the museums and historic sites on our way to the beach.

Bad movie, good movie

I recall reading a good review for Despicable Me somewhere. I wish I could remember what the reviewer thought was so redeeming about it. Animation studios ought to take a closer look at Pixar films and see how technically excellent movies can also be fun and interesting.

Then, we saw The Fighter. If you are like me you were probably thinking, “Finally, a movie about Massachusetts white trash,” or “Finally, a movie about boxing.” And yet it is a very good movie, mostly because of the strong performance by just about everyone with a speaking role (especially Christian Bale but especially Melissa Leo).

Shh… the eagles are sleeping

The Decorah eagles are all the talk here in Iowa. We checked out the live webcam stream from the Raptor Resource Project last night. It shows a nesting pair of bald eagles with two hatchlings and one unhatched egg. The third egg is expected to hatch any day now.

The eagles have a cache of dead animals—birds, mammals, and fish— piled on one side of the nest. They feed the chicks from the carcasses at their leisure. While convenient, that nest must be one putrid, vermin-infested homestead. I’m glad I can watch it and at the same time I’m glad I can’t smell it.

Most of the time a lot of nothing is happening. For example, right now the eagle is sleeping. Occasionally it wakes up and preens or maintains the nest. But this morning there was a nesting duty shift change: the arriving parent picked at one of the carcasses and fed the chicks before settling in.

I’ve seen nesting bald eagles before, but only from the ground and from a distance. Even sleeping eagles are pretty exciting.