Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dear Diary

Keeping a Diary
It's now after the Fourth of July and my first entry for 2011 is: "April 25th Mysore raspberries." I usually plod along till mid March with the daily "orchid house," the weekly, "Netflix, Open Sat."and then even that fades away. Well, V. S. Pritchett did say that the secret of happiness was "a pleasing monotony." Obviously the Mysore raspberries this year were a total disruption.

Every December when I buy calendars for Christmas I choose a diary for the New Year. Should I go for a real leather one with all the maps and international time zones? The one with the daisy on the front and This Diary Belongs To..? But of course you don't want your name there if you are actually going to write Dear Diary stuff. And being the trad English type, I don't go in for expressing deep thoughts though looking in the mirror, I think about old age and death quite a bit. That should remind me to keep a diary as memory fails because as Donald Rumsfeld said: stuff happens.

If we do something really big like going to India or North Carolina, then I take along an exercise book and it all goes in there right from the airport:"Buy NYT." But day by day? Well, until 2011, dear diary started on January 1st, with all the other resolutions; tea, skim milk, half grapefruit. That diet one was on its way out by Jan 2nd because of New Year's Day football: (wine, popcorn, chips.)

People coming and dogs needing shots go on the calendar with tax deadlines and Recycling days. Really big things get engulfed in their bigness. I don't remember sitting with my diary on the night Andrew or any other hurricane arrived. I do have one other entry for this year when our son got engaged and we all had dinner. Not even an exclamation mark but next to it, "fish and broccoli."

Friday, June 10, 2011

Hurricanes? Think Italian

We have gas. A gas stove. If the power-lines go down, unlike most of our neighbors, we will enjoy hot tea and three meals a day. Bummer. When an advanced civilization collapses and we are back to foraging for food, that should be the good part, guilt-free survival on chips and cookies.

But, in fact, after Andrew we had so much stuff to eat out of the freezer, we were eating heartier than we had done for weeks. Slaving over a hot stove, even by candlelight, was not my idea of the aftermath of a hurricane.

Anyway, when the ice in the cooler finally melts, you need a plan. Basically, you return to pre-fridge days: think old gnarled peasants, their old gnarled garlic sausages hanging from sooty beams, with a string of onions. Add a can of tomatoes, red wine and good old happy-to-be in-a-cardboard-box pasta. Think Italian!

In fact, getting ready for a hurricane is just like preparing for our Fourth of July party- Not how many people do we estimate are coming? But how many days do we need to provide for? How many paper plates? napkins? chips? crackers? water? sodas? fruit juice? red wine? Get Jim Bean.- No one wants warm beer.
And then not dusting and polishing but fill water bottles, find hurricane lamps, nail plywood over windows and sit in front of the TV in the gloom, while there's still power, waiting for the big news. When is Andrew, Gustave, Pedro or Doris arriving - how far away. That's why, when the hurricane misses us, we are resentful. We did all this? For a no show, for a cancellation? Nothing but a few leaves and twigs on the ground! We gave a party and nobody came!

But now forecasting is sharper; no longer: "Tie down your trash cans and bring in the dogs! From Key West to Orlando!" On the other hand, things appear to be heating up and we may find in the future our quaintly named hurricanes are not so much expected guests as mindless party crashers.