Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More thoughts on death

I have been riveted to the TV today, every time there was something on about the Kennedy family in general or Ted Kennedy in particular. I think my neighbor, in her forties, was right when she suggested the Kennedys resonate with my generation particularly. Certainly they had a lot of warts and faults, and Joseph Kennedy, Sr., was fairly frightening in his pursuit of power and influence. But I always wonder how three sons came out of that environment, raised in luxury, to care so much about the ordinary person. What I'm hearing today is that Ted Kennedy may have the most lasting legacy--he was of course the only one who lived to old age and then was not allowed to grow old peacefully but struck with glioma. Yet he lived out his last days with a beautiful grace, still devoted to the causes he believed in, making appearances when he could. I think he truly was able to put Chappaquidic behind him by proving his worth and legislative skill over the years in the Senate. The Lion of the Senate, indeed. The coverage has been fascinating to me--I'm watching now a 2-hour PBS special on the entire family, their history, and their legacy. There have been too many deaths that have hit close to home lately, and even so my prayer list grows longer. Yesterday I added Lisa's nephew who has cystic fibrosis and is losing lung fuction far too rapidly--I think he's about seven or eight, but I'm not sure. And today a woman I used to walk with early in the morning died. As Jim Lee says, "There's a world of hurt out there.
With Jordan in Mexico, I fixed dinner for Jacob and Christian tonight--chicken burgers, which Jacob seems to love, "Christian's" green beans (with bacon and vinegar--sort of like my mom used to do wilted lettuce), and salad. I think I thought I was making salad for Jordan, who eats enormous amounts of it, but I got too much dressing for the amount of lettuce. Still, it was good, and I was enjoying it, when some of that vinegar-y dressing went down the wrong pipe. I coughed, I drank water, my eyes watered, and when I could speak it was with a high squeak. It has happened to all of us, but it sure is uncomfortable. Christian said he decided he didn't need to do the Heimlich manuever because I was coughing, but Jacob's concern was really touching. He kept asking, "Juju okay?" or "Juju sad?" (because of my tears). When I went to get a Kleenex, he followed me into the bathroom, obviously worried. I finally recovered enough to get him strawberry ice cream, and he decided all was well with the world.
The salad that did me in was one of our favorites, but you have to have a good wooden bowl: slice a garlic clove and rub the bowl thoroughly; then add salt (I used Kosher) and dry mustard and rub that into the bowl. Then put blue cheese into the bowl and add plain old cider vinegar--that's where I got off on the wrong foot. Added too much vinegar and then had to balance with oil, but I don't think I ever got to the usual 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 oil ratio. Anyway, you mush the blue cheese up with the vinegar really well, until the blue cheese disappears into the liquid, and then add olive oil. Then add greens and toss. It's really good, but tonight I fell into two of Jordan's common failings--getting it too tart and making too much dressing for the salad.
I was amazed this morning at how much there is to do besides desk work--get ready for dinner, do my yoga, start a wash, etc. But I did make progress on the cookbook. Betty and I went to lunch at one of our favorite places--the Tokyo Cafe--and had a salmon sashimi salad with roasted beets, goat chese, and a good lemon vinaigrette--neither soupy nor too tart like my salad dressing.

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