Monday, March 10, 2008

Dreams, Newspapers, and Scotland

I dreamt last night that my brother and his wife, John and Cindy, bought a huge house in Dallas. It had at least three levels, with eight or more bedroom suites. Part of my family gathered there for a reunion and the others planned to come the next weekend--I think my mother was also to come the next weekend (but she's been gone twenty years). John and his chldren were there too, but I really remember Cindy bustling around in the kitchen. And I was most impressed that my brother could afford to buy this property while maintaining his rural property in Tolar. But they operated it as a b&b, with a price list that gave you cheaper prices if you brought your own bedding and towels. (Note to John: If you can buy this big house, please do so in Fort Worth. It would be much more appropriate for reunions of the entire family, yours and mine!)
Where did that dream come from? Well, the Houston Alters are coming next weekend and maybe the Frisco Alters; the weekend after, maybe the Frisco Alters again and Jordan and Christian and Jacob--so maybe that's the staggered vision (and Mom is watching over all of us). And last night at dinner Charles gave me credit for giving him and his late wife, Reva, the idea of using their ranch as a b&b--so that's the price list. Cindy in the kitchen? Well, she always seems to be there, and John had just told me about a wonderful meal she'd made. Funny how little things of the day weave themselves into your night-time consciousness.
Yesterday the Fort Worth Star-Telegram ran the 24th and final episode of a series of articles on the gruesome murder some years ago of three young Hispanic women, girls really. I have no idea why this newspaper, with space dwindling, took up that much space with something few people would read. I wanted to ask why they ran it. It didn't ennoble anyone; it didn't teach people how to be safe from the occasional sociopath; it was preoccupied with violence, grief, and evil--what good did it do anyone to read it? If anything, it gave the spotlight to an apparent serial killer, now imprisoned for life but still saying, "I'm not admitting to nothing I didn't do." Entertainment? I doubt it, and if that's your cup of entertainment tea, I'm glad I don't know you. When we hunger so for a newspaper of substance and watch it shrink daily, wrapping arts into another section, then food, shortening the weekly opinion section--why use all that space--often front-page space--with such banal material? The newspaper, like many, is faced with the internet dilemma, and all I've heard indicates that they are trying to steer readers to that venue. I've made my dismay clear in a letter to the editor--yes, they published it--but what I haven't said is that when I go to the internet version, it's unsatisfactory. If someone tells me something I missed in the paper, and I try to search for it, I can never find it. If I'm away from the city and try to read online, I feel I haven't really gotten the news. I am truly upset and aghast at what's happening to newsprint these days--and while the newspaper publishes my letter, it doesn't listen to the message.
My dinner last night was a success, and my main course buffet made a stunning presentation, which my guests raved over appropriately. Tonight, Jordan grazed on leftovers and kept saying, "This is fun. So good!" Last night, though, was a lovely, comfortable evening--good friends, lively conversation, all the things I like around my dinner table. At one point Sharon, who is very goal driven, results oriented, asked me "Why go to Scotland?" I had no immediate answer, so I said, "To go to Scotland," and she replied, "Fair enough." But when she asked what I was writing and I said I was thinking about a book on Scots in Texas, she said, "Oh! Where did they settle?" I explained that they never settled as a community but came individually and became part of the culture. "Then why write about them?" she asked. "Because I'm Scottish, and I want to," seemed a lame reason, and I'm not sure what I mumbled. But it's a good question and one I must come to grips with if I mean to do a significant book. I think part of the answer lies in the widespread infiltration of Scottish culture in our state--festivals, etc. And of course there's the fact that most of the heroes of the Alamo were of Scottish descent. I'm still working on that question--and will be for a while, I suspect.
Scottish food did not make it to Texas. A friend gave me today a book she picked up at an estate sale, titled A Feast of Scotland. I'll never remember what cock 'n leekie is, nor colcannon, nor clapshot. But I'm having a wonderful time reading about it. I found a recipe for salmon steaks cooked in a mixture of light cream, drambuie, and anchovy paste--Jordan shook her head when I mentioned it. I think I'll make a list of the things I want to eat while I'm there, like kippered herring which I remember my father ordering for me when I was very young--and I hated it.
I brought Scooby in early tonight, because I heard there were door-to-door people in the neighborhood--his ferocious attitude is enough to scare anyone away. They don't know he's a softie, and I feel safe.

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