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Wavy scarf for Christmas present in Manos del Uruguay (mostly on the shuttle, so it's slow going)

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Roasted peppers with crumbled queso fresco

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My poor garden - totally neglected and dry.

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Artwork © Lian Quan Zhen


i got a new attitude - September 24, 2004

- - September 22, 2004

- - September 20, 2004

Is this thing on? - September 20, 2004

- - September 15, 2004

November 24, 2003

November 24, 2003 - 11:22 a.m.

It was an all-food weekend.

After much cursing and plenty of demi-legal u-turns, I finally located Jade Fountain Cafe. (I'm an idjit; forgot to write down the address to look for the damn place!) For $4, they served the most delicious bowl of shrimp wonton noodles I've ever had. Glistening with sesame oil and loaded with young gai lan, it was one of the best meals in recent memory. I sat in a vinyl booth, dipping the spoon over and over, re-reading the part in Ruth Reichl's Comfort Me With Apples where she gets to eat at Danny Kaye's house, utterly content. That lunch will stay with me for a long, long time.

See, it's events like that - completely unexpected, brought on by an empty refrigerator and icily clear day - that make me truly happy. Earlier I'd had to put my life out for inspection, beginning the beg for a refinance from Bank of America. With bad credit (only a year's worth, thankfully; before then I was shiny clean), they have me by the tenders. But after noodles and crisp prose, I could have died content.

Sunday Scratcher and I discovered an itty-bitty coffee shop, divey and almost perfect. It's the kind of place that serves fried ring bologna. Cash only. I went for a scrambled egg and tomato juice, but he protein loaded on linguica and over-easy eggs with perfectly crisp edges. At one point, drinking deeply of lemony tomato goodness, I heard a small sound to my left. He denies it, but I think he was moaning in happiness.

Afterward we went for a drive along the Delta, not talking, just watching the two-lane road curve beside water glinting like fish scales. Then we passed a Harley hangout in Locke, initiating a two-hour conversation about motorcycles. I know squat. He knows things that only a true obsessive can. The man can ID a bike in under ten seconds. His voice has such joy in it when he scorns the British electrical systems in Triumphs, or longing when he talks about Motoguzzis from the 70s.

We returned home, where I cleaned bathrooms and set a corned beef brisket to cook. Three hours later, scent of brine in the air, we feasted (me on veggies only) while watching both disks of the extended Two Towers.

For almost two days, I was just happy. Full, too.

November 24, 2003 - 10:57 a.m.

So, the concert.

Set List: Old Friends/Bookends, A Hazy Shade of Winter, I Am a Rock, America, At the Zoo, Baby Driver, Kathy's Song, Hey Schoolgirl, Wake Up Little Susie*, Dream*, Let it Be Me*, Bye Bye Love*, Scarborough Fair, Homeward Bound, The Sound of Silence, Mrs. Robinson, Slip Slidin' Away, El Condor Pasa (If I Could), Keep the Customer Satisfied, The Only Living Boy in New York, American Tune, Cecilia, My Little Town, Bridge Over Troubled Water, The Boxer, Song for the Asking, The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy).

* = with the Everly Brothers

Ambitious, yes. Slow-paced at times. The arrangements were meant to let everyone sing - no rewrites or uptempo adjustments. I sometimes felt as though I were at home, watching a PBS channel during the beg-a-thon, hoping to flip channels when Law and Order came on. Don't get me wrong; I love show-going, and because my musical tastes are so eclectic, the Aging Rocker phenomenon is very familiar to me. (Last year it was Peter Gabriel, David Bowie and Elvis Costelllo within three months; collectively they're about 175!)

Highlights: Paul Simon's voice, which has always given me the shivers, hasn't changed one iota. He still enunciates lyrics in a unique way that makes each word seem unusually important. And the few Simon a' solo songs that were performed made me sigh with contentment - especially Slip Slidin' Away. Lyrically there isn't a songwriter who makes me think or care more.

Low point: Art Garfunkel, though he's clearly been careful with his vocal chords over the years, is losing tone quality. He also doesn't hear as well as he used to, which means that on occasion he's a little bit off pitch. Once or twice I had to close my eyes and will him to open up the back of his throat and come back into tune. Eek.

As you'd imagine, the crowd couldn't have been more gentle, and though there were plenty of aging hippies in the audience, there wasn't a single whiff of pot. (Too bad, in some ways!) While waiting for the show to start, I counted 20 mullets and 45 pair of shoulder pads. The only downside to all of this? Shows aimed toward baby boomers - and especially those with a pre-determined set list - lack the spontaneity of new arrangements of great songs, lack the dynamism of a true live performance. What I witnessed was fun, but it was mostly a rehash. Still, I'm glad we went. If nothing else, it made me very happy to see Paul Simon graciously blush on stage.

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