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H4H: It’s Time January 21, 2015

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Dear Helen:

It’s time to get the band back together.

I know. You never expected to hear that from me. I never expected to suggest it.

But after twenty-five years, maybe it’s time to let bygones be bygones. I mean, we were good. We were really good.

It’s not fair to the world, keeping separate those parts of a whole that, when merged, become a raging, well-oiled talent machine. We were loud and intense and fücking beautiful.

I can barely remember why we broke up. Maybe some of us didn’t handle the drugs as well as others. Maybe some of us got a little cranky when hungry. Maybe when that BradPittWannabe you slept with in OK City stole my bass I got more than a little pissed off. Maybe when a person rents a Tuscan villa, she should invite the entire band to join her.

But that’s all water under the bridge. We’re reuniting, and we are gonna rock. We still look good. All of us. And now that we’ve matured a bit, we’re better prepared to deal with the stress of your superior beauty. We’ll keep our jealousy on a tight leash with a studded collar. Pinky swear! I mean, looks aren’t everything, right? Not all of us can have hair like yours. (Bitch.)

Mali and I have been working on some stuff that will knock you on your ass: “Fish Runner,” “Stick Shift,” “No Kidding.” Your voice is perfect for “Mi Dispiace.” I know you say you’ve stopped writing, but that can’t be true. We need you back in it, with more songs like “Procrastinitus Interruptus.” Or “Paris Rumble.”

Ah, Paris.

Can you start rehearsals next week? Wednesdays are good for the rest of us.

Face it, Helen, we were freakin’ epic, utterly great together. This is going to be extraordinary. It’s impossible to think that we’ve wasted this much time. It’s impossible to imagine that anything could have ended the wonder that was us.

Of course, there was that thing with Deloney.

Shit. I swore I wasn’t going to bring that up.

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AM4M: Tree’s End January 19, 2015

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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As my core group of readers may or may not recall, there have been many years when I do not get a Christmas tree. For instance, if we spend the week of the holidays visiting family, it seems like a lot of work to put a tree up (and take it down). We put one up in 2009, but then not again until 2013. We managed to be home for the holidays both in 2013 and 2014 and amazingly have had a tree both years.

I used to worry about the whole annual-tree thing environmentally, and on some level, I still do. All these people cutting down a tree to put in the house for a few weeks, then discarding—it seems crazy and, depending, expensive. Frankly, an upside of traveling was not dealing with what I thought about the Christmas tree industry.

But I love ornaments, and I love the smell of balsam, and I sometimes love a tree in spite of myself.

Early on in our Vermont days, if we decided to get a tree, we’d go to a nearby farm with a cut-your-own patch. It felt like we were helping out with the local economy a bit (and it was fun). The past two years I went to an expensive nursery but got really beautiful trees; as a bonus, a wonderful man was there to wrap the tree and put it on the car (I dutifully cut the plastic wrap up with scissors while watching TV). I justify the expensive tree by reminding myself that it costs less than ordering flowers.

This year I heard radio stories about how much greener it is to support the Christmas tree industry (growing trees is good!) than to buy a fake tree that would someday be one more thing in a landfill that will not break down. I want to believe this story.

Of course, after you get a tree, you have to dispose of a tree. We have done this various ways: dropped it onto a neighbor’s burn pile, taken it to the dump to have mulched (allegedly), dropped one down by the creek behind our house for the birds and animals to deal with.

But I recently learned that goats will eat Christmas trees—including the goats right down the road at the cheese farm. We got permission to leave our tree there, “with the boys” (the pregnant females’ diets being closely monitored). On Saturday, after at last disrobing our tree (my pinched nerve had delayed that task by at least a week), Tim threw the tree on the car roof, tied it on with twine, and we drove down to the farm.

The tree approaches the goat pen.

The tree approaches the goat pen.

There appears to be interest.

There appears to be interest.

The boys immediately tuck into the balsam snack.

The boys immediately tuck into the balsam snack.

Hipsta goat posing with our tree.

Hipsta goat posing with our tree.

And here’s a short video. We live on a quiet road, but apparently a truck was going by right at the moment of filming. Sorry about that. The other sounds were worth retaining, I think.

I was texting with a neighbor after Tim posted this video. She said, in part, “This has significantly helped to tip the scales in favor of a tree, as we have an annual angst-ridden debate over whether or not we should get one.” (Apparently, I am not alone in my angst.)

Indeed, the goat option makes things much less angsty. And if we’re lucky, maybe we have a new end-of-holiday tradition.

H4H: Fish Runner (even though Helen is a vegetarian) January 14, 2015

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This week we have whole cleaned black sea bass. These fish are caught in traps (very sustainable) and are the very best roasted fish around. They make for a super-impressive dish. They run around 2 lbs. and are $25 each; leftover racks also make a great stock. We have cape sea scallops 10/20 scallops a lb., $20/lb. Line-caught haddock $12/lb. Please order by 5:30. Stay warm. Thanks. J.

The fresh-fish thing, which was to start this month, got a bit of a jump start in December when the first delivery happened Christmas Eve. Because pickup was at the market building but not during Friday market hours, that special delivery felt way more like a drug deal, our fishmonger meeting a half dozen of us at the appointed time and place, dangling lobster and oysters and flounder before a gang of wide-eyed foodies.

Another LB photo.

Another LB photo.

I got a pound of flounder. It was divine.

The first Friday market I got monkfish. Last week I got mussels. Not only am I lucky enough to have fresh seafood delivered eight doors down, but I’m married to a guy who knows how to cook. Seriously, these meals have been heavenly.

I’ve ordered the black sea bass.

The cheesemonger told me that the fishmonger has suggested either shucking lessons or on-demand oysters for Valentine’s weekend. I don’t know if I’ll be around that night. And I can’t be trusted with a knife of any kind. But it sure sounds good.

H4H: How to Acquire Four Masterpieces January 7, 2015

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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First, set up a studio: stretched canvas, oils, brushes, etc. Choose a masterpiece, and paint a copy. Make sure it looks a lot like the original.

Next, go to the museum or private home housing the original masterpiece. Switch your painting for the original.

Send the masterpiece to the first person on this list. The name in position #2 moves to #1. Write your name in the #2 spot. Send this to two people. You will eventually receive four masterpieces.

Please do not break the chain.

 

(Note: Sculpture is also acceptable but generally costs more to ship.)

AM4M: Report on the Limoncello January 5, 2015

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Mali has asked for an update, and commented:

I’m going to try it myself. (I’m already designing the label in my head—I’m thinking “Sergio’s Limoncello” with a small picture of a blue bird beside it.)

I have a crush on this comment. A label! Lovely.

The limoncello turned out well. I can’t drink a lot of any creamy sweet drink, and this is no exception for me, but it’s lovely to have a shot of it now and then.

Things I might do differently next time:

  1. Follow Sergio’s recipe exactly. This time, I found a recipe online that was nearly identical but used 100-proof vodka and less sugar (and notes the considerable time it takes to reduce the mixture). Someday it might be good to find the contraband grain and try the recipe exactly as he wrote it, even with all that sugar (which scares me).
  2. I would not double the recipe, which I did this time, because the one I was using said it served eight. Eight what, I wonder? I gave a lot of it away. I still have nearly a quart.
  3. Tim thought we should try a pricier, tastier vodka. He may be right, but really, do the heavy lemon/sugar/milk flavors warrant trying that? I’m not sure.

Mostly, I wish Mali was here to have some limoncello with me.

3BY4: Quarterly Report and Summation January 1, 2015

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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Turns out 2014 was a lot like 2012 in terms of number of species, no trip to Arizona, no hired bird guide, and almost no additions in the last quarter of the year. I’m three species ahead of that year, but since September 30, I’ve only added two: pine siskin and ring-necked pheasant.

So here’s the big list, for me, the 2014 bird poem:

American goldfinch, mourning dove, dark-eyed junco, black-capped chickadee, northern cardinal, American tree sparrow, white-breasted nuthatch, tufted titmouse, blue jay, American crow, rock dove/pigeon, red-tailed hawk, European starling, Canada goose, belted kingfisher, northern mockingbird, great blue heron, downy woodpecker, common raven, mallard, hairy woodpecker, purple finch, house sparrow, American robin, Carolina wren, horned lark, barred owl, eastern bluebird, snowy owl, northern harrier, pileated woodpecker, house finch, bald eagle, red-bellied woodpecker, wild turkey, red-winged blackbird, American kestrel, common grackle, turkey vulture, herring gull, eastern phoebe, common merganser, song sparrow, wood duck, common loon, common eider, osprey, black-backed gull, double-crested cormorant, northern flicker, chimney swift, rose-breasted grosbeak, tree swallow, yellow-bellied sapsucker, barn swallow, indigo bunting, Baltimore oriole, warbling vireo, yellow-throated vireo, ovenbird, eastern towhee, gray catbird, yellow warbler, American redstart, field sparrow, chipping sparrow, white-throated sparrow, black-billed magpie, pinyon jay, ash-throated flycatcher, black-throated sparrow, violet-green swallow, lark sparrow, blue-gray gnatcatcher, lazuli bunting, black-headed grosbeak, Eurasian collared dove, white-crowned sparrow, Bullock’s oriole, spotted towhee, juniper titmouse, yellow-rumped warbler, western kingbird, bank swallow, Wilson’s warbler, black-chinned hummingbird, spotted sandpiper, white-throated swift, green towhee, brown-headed cowbird, western meadowlark, common yellowthroat, brown thrasher, bobolink, veery, hermit thrush, killdeer, eastern meadowlark, ruby-throated hummingbird, wood thrush, black and white warbler, eastern wood peewee, house wren, green heron, cedar waxwing, prairie warbler, northern waterthrush, ruffed grouse, arctic tern, ring-backed gull, lesser yellowlegs, snowy egret, great egret, brown pelican, dunlin, sanderling, pine siskin, and ring-necked pheasant. (118 species. 2013: 173. 2012: 115.)

Watching my feeder at breakfast this morning, in 2015, I’m up to nine.