The age of isolation

I rode a Citi Bike to and fro Whole Foods yesterday morning, 7:30 a.m.-ish. It was a mistake. By the time I made it back home and up the four flights of stairs to my apartment with my many bags o' foodstuffs, I was sweating with real alacrity. I hopped into the shower with all my clothes on and then I reclined on the sofa whilst watching the Olympics for the rest of the day. Why exert when others are willing to do it for me for glory and precious medallions, is my new summertime policy. Per Robert Frost, the best way out is always through. SarahB did join me @ lunchtime so I was the social butterfly kind of shut-in. I do it for the people! And the air conditioning. 

This is from Laurie Colwin's Home Cooking, which is a beautiful book and a wonderful, empathetic summertime read, although of course it's too hot to cook anything. Don't be insane.

The pudding was brought to the table. My host and hostess, my future husband and a woman guest looked at it suspiciously. I cut the pudding. As Jane Grigson had promised, out ran a lemon-scented buttery toffee. I sliced up the lemon, which was soft and buttery too. Each person was to get some crust, a slice of lemon and some sauce.

What a hit! I thought. Exactly the sort of thing I adored. I looked around me happily, and my happiness turned to ash.

My host said: "This tastes like lemon-flavored bacon fat."

"I'm sure it's wonderful," said my hostesss. "I mean, in England."

The woman guest said: "This is awful."

Be whole and generous with your mistakes, is what's she's saying, which is always welcome news.

Reading: Shine On, Bright & Dangerous Object by Laurie Colwin

Her two remedies covered all ailments: a hot shower if you were sick, a cold one if overemotional. Everything at both her houses was immaculate and arranged for comfort, and she was a good, plain cook. When you saw at Little Crab Harbor the wicker baskets of freshly pressed sheets she brought up from Boston, or the bunches of red basil hanging upside down from a beam in the kitchen to dry, or the sheen on her copper pots, or the intelligent books and eclectic pile of magazines she kept in the guest rooms, you thought you were in the presence of domestic splendor. But when you got to know Meridia, you saw she didn't much care. If her boys, or a storm, or a wrecking company with the wrong address had smashed her house, melted down those gleaming copper pots and burned to ash her needlework couch and braided rugs, you had the feeling that nothing would flicker across her face, and as she coped heroically she might make a case for the charm of a spare life. There was not an ounce of sentiment in her, and she doted on nothing she owned. She remembered birthdays, anniversaries, and other ritual events with the aid of a big leather diary in which she noted the upcoming social events of her life. Meridia had replaced feeling with efficiency; it served her very well and it looked like the same thing. Sam's drowning was only a hard, harsh fact in her life.

— Laurie Colwin, Shine On, Bright & Dangerous Object

Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object
$13.99
By Laurie Colwin

Reading: Happy All the Time by Laurie Colwin

Of course my favorite character in Laurie Colwin's Happy All the Time has a prickly, proactive crabbiness that mostly reminds me of me. That she's pursued by a nice young handsome rich man doesn't hurt much, either, nor does the fact that she remains crabby even in happiness.

The florist escaped into a back room after looking at Vincent in a way that made it clear he dealt regularly with emotionally turbulent young men who knew nothing about flowers. Vincent himself knew very little. About all he knew was that his Aunt Lila had once bred a hybrid rose and named it after her cleaning woman, Mrs. Iris Domato. The florist returned with a huge bouquet of tea roses, snapdragons, and stock.

"Usually you wanna spend this much, you have a fight with your wife," said the florist. "You have a fight with your wife?"

"Girlfriend," said Vincent.

"Flowers help sometimes," said the florist. "And sometimes they don't.

Vincent was almost sure Misty did not like flowers, but he wanted to bring her something huge and showy. A gesture of affection and hostility was just the sort of thing she might appreciate.

โ€” Laurie Colwin, Happy All the Time