Monday, November 23, 2009

Neighborhoods filled with perfect weirdos ...

What you are about to witness is a lot a words. Tread carefully. Here is how I spent the past week.

Braised Sausage with Chilis: Hmm. So this was good. But I think it has more to do with the kickass sausages I used than with everything that the sausage floated around the Red Wine Vinegar and 12 ounces of dark beer with: onions, red pepper, jalapeƱo, mustard, and garlic. The recipe calls for it to be served over rice. I opted for corn meal mush instead, keeping it Southern, sans rice. I pretty much hate rice. I got this one from Louisiana Cookin,' a magazine I picked up with a mad hope that it would have a gumbo or jambalaya recipe. *This recipe is close, but not the one I used.

Tempeh and Eggplant Potpies: I can't believe this was actually good. Talk about flying blindly into a recipe, not understanding how the tastes are going to work together, and then creating something more good than not good. Steamed eggplant and tempeh, mixed with sauteed onions, capers, fennel seeds, some tomato sauce and red pepper flakes. Topped with doughy mix. Mmm.

And man. Did we need the veggies.

Curried Red Lentil and Swiss Chard Stew with Garbanzo Beans: Spicy mush of stew featuring chickpeas and red lentils, with a dollop of yogurt. I liked it. I liked it a lot. Very easy. It reminded me of one of those food periods we went through where every food I made was orangeish and/or featured chickpeas.

Spicy Cheddar Bread
: Look! I made bread. This is just bread the usual way with cheddar cheese and red pepper flakes. I have been using a recipe from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian cookbook for about 9 years.

On Writing by Stephen King: There is a place in my brain that had seized up and was unable recognize writers who produce book after book after book. It was nothing I ever thought about, just on some subconscious level I had created an equation that quantity diminished quality.

In my adult reading years, I have completely ignored Stephen King. There’s more to it than just his feverish pace. I read a handful of Stephen King books when I was a tween, so it was like “Psshhh. How could I like something that I liked in sixth grade?”

I have since combated that argument with two words: Beastie. Boys. If three dudes in hoodies and sneaks from Brooklyn can rock my world for upward of 20 years, why not Stephen King?

Great book about writing, but also about King. More here.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novelby Jonathan Safran Foer: Put on your hip waders, folks. I’m about to heap an enormous amount of praise on to Jonathan Safran Foer’s novel.

The star is 9-year-old Oskar Schell, perhaps the most likable protagonist to ever land on a page. To quote his own business card, Oskar is an inventor, jewelry designer, jewelry fabricator, amateur entomologist, Francophile, vegan, origamist, pacifist, percussionist, amateur astronomer, computer consultant, amateur archeologist, and a collector of rare coins, butterflies that died natural deaths, miniature cacti, Beatles memorabilia, semiprecious stones and other things. He doesn’t have a fax machine. Yet.

I loved this book. It is unlike anything I've ever read. Full review here.

Grey Gardens (HBO): Love this story of recluses Edie and Little Edie Beale. My favorite part is that Little Edie dances like Fannie McFanster. We've been quoting this movie for days.

Harold and Maude: Saw this one at a midnight show at Zinema. The young grim Harold takes up with the 79 year old sassafras, Maude. So funny. The Cat Stevens soundtrack will strip the grooves in your brain.

Orphan: Troubled couple adopts pleasant Russian child who tries to kill everyone. All the people you want to die will die.

Most of the houses we are looking at are pretty similar on the surface level. Wood floors, an arched entryway between the living room and dining room. Two levels, unfinished basement. The kitchens vary between dishwasher and no dishwasher, with the latter being a deal breaker. (I know, I know. We can buy a dishwasher. But I know us, and I know how we function. I know that we would bitch about not having a dishwasher for seven years until it became a routine, and that routine became more important than actually getting a dishwasher).

The first house we looked at this week was pretty cute, with all of my favorite things, including the very-Duluth random deck jutting out of the side of the house. I love this. I like thinking of it as my Rupuntzel perch. We have one now, and I always think of myself sitting sentry. The basement was actually over finished with drywall creating a tunnel-like space to walk through. Like the bowels of a stadium, before a player is belched onto the field. It made it seem too small. Chuck's shoulders actually brushed the walls as we crawled through.

I ran into the Norwegian Wonder a few weeks ago, and she started telling me about a friend who had died. She finished the convo with, "So anyway, here is the address. Her place is really cute." Sure enough, a few days later, our Realtor sends the address to me as a new listing to check out.
This place was adorable, in a hard-to-find Chester Creek neighborhood that Chuck assured me is full of a bunch of perfect weirdos. I cannot wrap my head around a two bedroom. It seems like a waste to buy a house with two bedrooms. But if this exception were to be made, this would be the one.

We looked at was this old barn in West Duluth with a fantastic view of the cityscape. It looks like someone bought it and intended to turn it into a $350,000 home, but never finished it. What you have is an edifice stripped down to the bare bones. Outlets were put in sideways, light switches were upside down. A toilet sitting in a room in the basement. Stripped of appliances. "Did you notice there isn't a refrigerator?" Our realtor pointed out. "Um, no. I guess I didn't." This place was totally haunted -- with a malevolent force, according to Chuck. "Looks like someone left in a hurry," our realtor said quietly. This place gave me the creeps, but I found those creeps to be intriguing. What would our life be like here in this giant echoing home? Chuck said an evil force would turn one of us insane, and break us up. Then there would be the exorcism. Blood pouring out of the walls. Gah. If I were the sort of person who wrote short stories, I would write one about this place and call it "The Shining."

We looked at a ton of places, touring open houses on Sunday. Included in the mix: A gigantic place about $70,000 out of our price range. You probably heard me wailing as I opened doors to find a staircase leading to an awesome attic; beautiful glass doors separating the levels; a kitchen that would reject frozen pizza -- just spit it right out into the backyard mud room. Two matching big, fat bedrooms with amazing windows. Then three more bedrooms just for fun. Gah. It's interesting to know what you can't afford. It's also cruel. "Do you have kids?" asked the realtor, a former local weatherman. "No," we said. "Well, you could comfortably have six to eight here."

I don't remember anything we looked at after that, although I'm told we checked out a few more places. Oh yeah. One had steps leading to a bedroom in the attic that were build at about a 85 degree angle. That seemed dangerous for a girl who sometimes drinks outside the boundaries of what is considered moderation.


Kaeti said...

I just finished On Writing the other week and it totally charmed me. I don't think I've ever read a Stephen King book before this one, unless it was as a kid when I wasn't supposed to and had to sneak it into the house and hide it under my mattress (how I worked my way through most of R.L. Stine's body of work).

christina said...

Kaeti -- That is exactly how I read Stephen King books when I was younger. I even went so far as to put a book cover on it so I could take it to school.

Wahkonamama said...

That bread looks very delicious.

I hated looking at places beyond our means - it made me all bratty and whiny afterwards. But then, when we found the Money Pit, I forgot all about the bigger fancier houses. Yay for cliches!