Monday, June 5, 2017

Lively, bluejay and Marigold goes under cover

A while since I did a book review, though I've been reading all along.  I don't review books I didn't get much out of, or that I really didn't like, not fair, just my opinion.  But when one seems really worth the energy, I do.  

And, it's Monday, not that Marigold is particularly concerned about that, more that it's rainy and she was disturbed by my insisting on a picture. But readers who had to go back to work might enjoy a suggestion of a book to check out.

So here's the current choice:  latest collection of short stories from Penelope Lively.  
It's a bit uneven, but has a lot of layers and levels and is definitely worth reading.  She likes to slide between real and surreal, points in history, points of view.  Her writing is a kind of rollercoaster of technique, and very engrossing.  You always feel she's pulling your leg a bit, and is really onto you.

One odd choice: usually the title is from the strongest story, and it's put at the end of the book.  Probably to keep people reading.  In this instance it is the strongest story, but it leads off the collection, which, to me, tails off a bit after that.  I think Lively really is better at following a thread or ten throughout the whole novel form, rather than encapsulating them as in the short story.    But read it, and let us know what you think.

Aside from a lot of other things going on, some too soon to write about in the art side of life, I've been observing the feeder, kept supplied with suet put together in Minnesota and NJ birds seem to think this is the best thing ever.  The feeder is mobbed and I get to observe a lot of interesting and some comic avian capers.

There are about three or more bluejays feeding regularly.  One has got the hang of clinging to the side of the feeder, one is dedicated to standing on top of it, even when the food is so far down he can hardly reach.  And the third, my favorite, tries to hover under the feeder and snatch food which he eats on the deck.  You get to know birds as individuals if you observe them enough.

Here's a pic of him trying to flutter up to the bottom of the feeder.  He's a bit off course, feeder being over there on the left, in front of the lantana on the fence. Which attracted the first hummingbird of the season a couple of days ago.  Just a flash of a sighting.

Then there was a standoff between a female cardinal and the red bellied woodpecker, neither conceding until they feed at the same time before flying away at the exact same moment.  And a real fail from a male house sparrow going beak to beak with a little downy woodpecker.  Sparrow had no hope of holding on, eating, and fighting all at once, against the downy, small, but with that tail that enables them to hang on to trees.  Sparrow eventually basically fell off, chuntered and stomped around the deck, catching the crumbs that the downy dropped.

But it's not all birding.  Cooking is happening, too, since I got back the gumption to do a big shop, vegetables and tofu and parmigiano, and all kinds of good things.

So today, I roasted vegetables.  Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, carrots, squares of firm tofu, all tossed in olive oil, mustard seeds, fresh ground pepper, kosher salt, turmeric, home ground curry powder (from Bill Veach, let me know if you want the directions). Then roasted at 425F for thirty minutes, sort of stirred about a bit, then another 25 minutes and all was done.  And very good.  You can make a whole meal from this mixture.  Which I did.  And three more meals to come.  Probably next time Handsome Son gets here for a dinner, he'll get some of this.  Maybe with sausage or chicken or something.

Here's the before:

and the after:

As you see, they shrink a little, but everything was just right.  A bit crisp and spicy on the outside, tender on the inside.  Highly recommended on a day when you can tolerate a hot oven.

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