Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Reading habits

I've beenr reading The Art of Eating In by Cathy Erway. When I first picked it up, I thought to my dismay that it was going to be one of those "Look at me, how clever I am to have given up restaurant eating for two years" things. Sort of in the vein of Julia and Julie.  I was dismayed, especially because I'd given it as a gift to Elizabeth, but she reported she loved it. So after I finished Steig Larsson (wow, did I have a funny dream last night, Larsson inspired, I'm sure), I picked it up again. In for a surprise. I found myself reading with great interest about her evening trip with freegans to dumpster dive--they don't so much dive as they sort through black plastic bags of trash. Bakeries especially throw out day-old food, but some people found other treasures--cold cuts, vegetables, etc. I don't think I could ever do that (besides not wanting to be out at night like that) because I'd worry about contamination. And it seems to me we should have a more efficient way of recycling that food to the homeless and needy.
Of more interest to me was a trip she took with a group led by a naturalist through a NYC park, in which he pointed out edible greens--Cathy picked wild onions and garlic, dandelion greens, and other goodies, while the naturalist clearly warned them about poisonous plants. She figured she could make a summer's worth of salads on what she could forage and never buy garlic again. I could so much more see doing that. The next chapter was on waste--and she had amazing statistics on how much waste we all create by eating out and ordering in. But the book is heavy going, and I decided I needed fiction.
I turned to Pat Controy's South of Broad. I've loved reading Conroy before and in reading this prologue I reveled in the beauty of his prose. But I was ready for escapism, not beautiful prose. I turned on my Kindle and began a sample of a mystery that I'd ordered--never heard of the author or title, but I'll probably order it. I'll get back to The Art of Eating In and South of Broad, just not today.
A book I reviewed lately that fascinated me, all 152 small pages of it. It's Bothered by My Green Conscience, by Canadian artist Franke James. James opens with four questions: 1) Do you feel guilty if you throw paper in the trash, instead of recycling it? 2) Do you turn off lights to save energy? 3) Do you apologize for driving a gas guzzler? 4) Do you worry about climate change? If you answer yes to two or more, you have a green conscience; I answered yes to all but the third, because I drive a VW bug. Written in her own hand and whimsically illustrated by her,  James' book chronicles her experience with going green, including a decision to get rid of her SUV and turn her driveway into a garden. The borough of North York (in Toronto) had objections: driveways must be asphalt, concrete or interlock and you can only grow one tree. What? When we all know the more trees, the more pure the air? Eventually she got her garden driveway.
Something you should know: the book was printed on chlorine free paper made with 100% post-consumer waste, which saved 32 fully grown tress, 11,787 gallons of water, 23 million BTUs, 1,514 pounds of solid waste, and 2,840 pounds of greenhouse gases. Pretty impressive, isn’t it? Shows what we can do. I recommend you read this book--and then go back to it when your green conscience needs a jog.
Aside from reading and the nearly 900 words I wrote today, I had dinner with Betty at Lamberts--I had quail, and she had wild boar ribs, which I intended to order  until the waitress said they were spicy. I ate a bit of one, and it was good--but the spiciness of four or five would have been too much. My quail was delicious, though I wished for another one, and we split a side of green chili grits--a huge side. We each brought some home. Nice day, but hotter than  you know what outside. Is this our repeat of the summer of 1980?

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