Archive | Country Matters

Of Course I’m Green, I’m Growing*

Photo of me a sloppy second because I ate the salad pasta too quickly to capture it.

You can tell I’m at an impasse with my book because I’m writing to you my cooking and colors have gotten downright baroque, especially while I’m upstate, where the greens are so fresh they’re muddy. Any drive I take entails my pulling off the road to fetch fresh eggs and sun-warmed strawberries from a farmstand, treasures like a chartreuse tee and sky-blue bowl from a yard sale. So, uh, dinner tonight? What I call salad pasta–a bowl of penne and fresh herb pesto topped with peppery greens dressed with horseradish and ginger vinegar and chopped in with mint, chives, parsley, garlic scapes, strawberries (why not?) and, oy vey ist mir, smoked trout. It was pretty good but then again only strong flavors are registering to my still-sinusy sinuses. Ah, and my costume? The lady wore green–a kelly-green shawl K ferried back from his overseas adventure wrapped around a lime sarong from a street fair. As I said: baroque. But that’s the beauty of living and working alone. If you’re lucky, you can tailor to your exact specifications, which matter even when they don’t because attention is love, and love is how we grow. Really, it’s the only way.

*and other lost Erma Bombeck titles.

Schmucks of the Universe (Parenthetically Speaking)

Exhibit A: Gonzo spacecrone neckgear

So I’ve been having one of Those Weeks (years, but who’s counting?). Lots of luck but not all of it good. To wit, this week I am in Hudson (good) staying with Grace and Daisy the Dog (good) but still have this cruddy summer cold (bad).

Today I went out for sick-lady supplies and stopped at Salvation Army because the one up here is le bomb (good). In there for two dollars I find this absolutely gonzo gorgeous necklace–like, it looks like decorative weaponry for a space crone superheroine (good). I walk out on cloud 9 but as soon as I turn on my car the CHECK ENGINE light starts flashing and Minerva the Wonder Hyundai starts shaking (bad). God’ll get you for that, Walter, I thought, subbing in “vanity” for “Walter” (Maude reference) and nodding at the Legend (who loved that phrase). I run into the tire store down the road to ask where I should bring my car and instead one of the young fellas working there plugs a diagnostic tool into my car and announces (I shit you not), “Not all your cylinders are firing.” (All hail this metaphor called 2019 Lisa.)

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The Quiet Revolution of ‘Diane’

What follows is a film talk I gave a few months ago on Diane, about a 60something New England widow struggling to reconcile with her past and the ravages of time. I always loved talking to the now-defunct Westchester Film Club, but it was especially meaningful to discuss this small, mostly overlooked indie with them. N.B. To read this, it’s not necessary to have seen the film, but I encourage you to do so. It’s one of the best of the year.

I consider Diane a quiet revolution of a film.

Its median age is above 60, everyone is lower middle class, and it is is mostly populated by women–the kind of bossy, pointedly unpretentious women who are the backbone of every New England town I knew growing up. For that matter, this film stars Mary Kay Place, whose plainspoken, peevish manner I’ve loved ever since Mary Hartman Mary Hartman, and who has deserved a hefty starring role ever since. That Diane also costars the great Andrea Martin in a rare serious turn, Joyce Van Patten, and Estelle Parsons speaks to how unobtrusively grownup-feminist this film is. Even the crew is mostly female. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy