"As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame; / [ . . . ] Each mortal thing does one thing and the same: / Deals out that being indoors each one dwells; / Selves -- goes itself; 'myself' it speaks and spells, / Crying 'What I do is me; for that I came'." --Gerard Manley Hopkins

30 July 2011

Summer Storm

Distant thunder draws our attention to incoming rainclouds long before the sky darkens above us. The first drops stir me from a doze over the slow-moving novel I've been trying to read and bring me to the front porch.

By the time I step outside, silver sheets glitter from sky to earth, turning the sidewalk into a shallow rushing creek. Drops bouncing upward off the neighbor's roof look like steam rising, then falling back down to slide to the thirsty lawn. Tightly closed crepe myrtle buds cling to silver droplets even as the wind thrashes them in every direction.

Two balls of golden fire whip through the slowing drops, finches swooping from the dogwood to the crepe myrtle. To the east, the mountains rise in their customary smoky haze; to the west, the mid-day sun lightens the edges of storm clouds into grey-white sky; overhead the thunder rolls farther and farther away as the heat begins to rise again and birds call back and forth in the newly-cleansed air. The finches swoop out of the crepe myrtle and over the roof, and tree branches still as wind and rain slow to silence, attempting feebly to rise again and yet again until only the glimmer of grass and leaves bears witness to their passing.

A choir of praise swells from someone's stereo to fill the neighborhood.

25 July 2011

I'll Take Mild Sauce, Thanks

The other day, I made a pot roast. K bought potatoes, carrots, and onions to go with it, but I used only a small portion of them. So I decided to cook the rest in the leftover broth, mash them up, and freeze them in one-meal portions.

The carrots were bubbling away in the broth, I'd cut up the onions and was getting ready to start on the potatoes -- both to go in later since they take less time to cook -- when K pointed to the two small, brilliant orange-red peppers the neighbors had given us, and said, "Hey, you could put those in."

I'm not much of a pepper person as a rule; bell peppers on pizza are about as daring as I get. If you bring stronger than mild salsa into my house for chips, you're welcome to it. So I demurred: "I thought you said they're hot; I want to be able to eat this, too."

"I don't know that they're hot; I'll find out." He cut off the tiny tip of one, chewed on it for awhile, and pronounced it no more hot than bell peppers. Well, okay, then. As long as they were small and bland, I could handle some pepper in the potatoes and carrots.

Holding the peppers in my left hand, I sliced and de-seeded and diced them, then scooped them up, also with my left hand, and dumped them in with the carrots. They were small; it didn't take long. Then I licked the juice off my fingers (and must have licked my lips immediately after).

Two seconds later, I said, "These are too hot." Five seconds later I was running cold water over my hands and very nearly screaming for ice. K came in, baffled, remarked again that the bit he'd eaten earlier hadn't been hot. Had I bitten into a seed, maybe? No, I had not; I had licked the juice from my fingers.

He took a bit from the pot, put it in his mouth, and almost instantly spit it out, horrified. He poured soap over my hands, got me ice, got me ice cream, got himself a popsicle. He took the pan outside and dumped out all those lovely carrots in that savory broth, then cleaned the pan, the knife I'd used, the chopping board, assiduously. Meanwhile I continued running ice cubes over my tongue and lips, moaning. I washed my hands, again and again, afraid to touch anything for fear of contaminating it with that flaming juice. I wiped my hands on my apron only, then threw it into the wash.

Two hours later, the fire in my tongue and lips had mostly abated. I accidentally touched the corners of my eyes with my fingertips and ran for the eyedrops; thankfully, I'd barely touched them before I thought and they only burned mildly for a few seconds. I wondered, seriously, if I'd have been blinded if I'd touched them earlier.

The worst pain gone, I began to realize that the fingers of my left hand were burning. Examining them closely, I found they had actually blistered from the pepper juice. If I touched them to my tongue, my tongue burned again. All night they burned; they still burned when I got up this morning. Only now, 16+ hours later, are they beginning to feel almost normal, the blisters receding, the burning relieved.

Who said beauty isn't dangerous?

05 July 2011


Because we are lazy, we shorten words:

telephone --> phone

refrigerator --> frig

weblog --> blog

Because we are lazy, we write long redundant phrases:

"all throughout" --> through

"due to the fact that" --> since

"the reason why is because" --> because

I don't understand human nature.