Six months with Ryon

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Junk in his trunk
He gleams like a newly minted penny in the sunlight, a warm reddish brown colour.  It's the peak of summer and when there isn't a breeze and the humidity is close to 100% (on a day like today), his coat is mottled with dark brown patches of sweat.  Not that we haven't tried everything to prevent that and keep him cool, including buying him a second fan that sat on a ledge inside his stall.  Luxury accommodations, I tell you.  Fearing horsey shenanigans, we ziptied that sucker to the wall.  The next day, we found the box fan, hanging by its electrical cord, laying face down in the shavings of his stall.  Not to be deterred, we tried bungee cords, which were subsequently ripped apart.  So as far as I'm concerned, the boy can stand to sweat a little bit longer.

He spotted the decomposing corpse of the possum long before I did.  It was lying on the side of the path, pinkish-white belly up and swarmed by a swirling cloud of flies.  His head perked up and his ears pricked in the corpse's direction.  I had been daydreaming, surrounded by the damp, earthy smell of fresh greenery after the past week's rain, and idly scratching one of my many mosquito bites.  Both of us wrinkled our noses when we drew closer, a bit in shock at the dead body, incongruous with a Sunday afternoon trail ride.

He sees things - my bright-eyed boy - notices things, hears things before I do, indicating with loud snorts that all is not right or normal.  "Pay attention, mom" he seems to be telling me, as he did with the shirtless hiker crouched under the bridge, wringing sweat from his shirt and kneeling down to catch his breath.  He trusts me to take care of him and to protect him.  No longer does he nervously back up 20 yards at the sight of the monstrous wooden bridge.  Patience and persistence won the day and he daintily picks up his hooves and clip clops across it.

We've come a long long way Ryon bub and I can't wait to see what comes next.

I may have to move...

Thursday, July 17, 2014

... Into this home featured this week.  I'm so not over this 1920s Colonial located in Fort Worth of all places.  Doesn't it sound like I say this same thing every week?  But seriously, this time, it's for real.  I'm such a sucker for grand old homes that have been lovingly restored and this has got to be my favourite.  This one.  With the fireplaces in every room.  With the absurdly large front porch.  With the beautiful bathtub in the master bathroom.  And I don't even take baths.  The furniture can stay as well.  Okay, okay, I'll just take the 400 square foot garage apartment.  Anyone want to buy this home and be my landlord?

Cold as ice-box strawberry cake

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Sympathy weight - oh it’s a real thing alright.  In bulking my mom up five pounds (in less than two months), my dad and I have probably collectively put on double that much.  The best thing to have for dinner is company, right?  And we’re not doing physical rehab with intense cardio three days a week.  Well, I know my dad isn't...

I served this strawberry icebox cake back over July 4th weekend at my parents’ dinner party and for a group of “old folks” that were purportedly not fans of dessert or sweet things,  they enjoyed it immensely.  So much so that I had made two cakes and they finished both of them.  Even enemies of dessert and those who claim not to have a sweet tooth can be vanquished by a simple frozen treat that requires zero baking.  No need to turn on the sweatbox of death during these stifling summer days.

Mixing is really key to this recipe and allowing the fruity, buttermilky, cookie goodness to get all muddled up with one another during the freezing process.  This means lots of trips back and forth to the freezer.  But it also means lots of dirty spoons and lots of tastings in between.  Silver lining, folks.

Icebox Strawberry Cake

Adapted from Strawberry Delight by Matt Lee and Ted Lee


1 lb. fresh strawberries, trimmed and halved
2/3 cup sugar, divided
1  pint heavy cream
2  pinches kosher salt
1  cup half-and-half
1  cup buttermilk, whole or low-fat
3 oz. of crumbed lady fingers, roughly crumbled into oyster-cracker-size pieces
1  cup chopped pecans, toasted

Put the strawberries, 1/3 cup sugar, and 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes, until the syrup is glossy red but still runny. Allow to cool for 20 minutes.

In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream with the remaining 1/3 cup sugar and the salt until peaks begin to hold their shape. Fold in half-and-half, buttermilk, cookies, and toasted pecans until evenly combined.

Line a 3-quart loaf pan (or two 1.5-quart loaf pans and divide cream mixture evenly) with plastic wrap and pour the cream mixture into it. Then pour in the fruit and syrup from one end of the pan to the other, but do not stir (if using two pans, divide the fruit and syrup evenly between them). The syrup and fruit may float on the surface at first but will gradually sink through to the bottom. Lightly cover the loaf pan(s) with plastic wrap and place in the freezer until a cap of crystallized cream has formed about an inch thick, about 2.5 hours (or 1.5 hours if using two loaf pans). Use a broad serving spoon to break up the cream and fold the ingredients together, taking special care to lift the strawberry pulp up off the bottom. With the back of the spoon, smooth the surface and return the pan to the freezer for 1.5 hours (about 45 minutes if using two pans). Fold again, freeze for another hour, and fold a third time (if using two loaf pans, you might not need to do a third fold). Allow to set for an hour more.

To serve, turn an entire loaf upside down onto an oval platter and slice off individual portions with a knife warmed in hot water.

Disappearing act

Monday, July 14, 2014

I hid in my cell phone-free cave this weekend.  Honestly, I feel as guilty as all get-out admitting it but I dodged human company, opting instead for the quiet companionship of books.  I know I’ve been singing this same song for months now, but I am fatigued.  And people wear me out more than anything, more than the cleaning and baking weekend marathon sessions and more than working seemingly endless days (okay maybe not less than the last one).  When you tack on the soul-crushing heat that we’ve been experiencing the past week or so, it’s basically all I can do to remain upright.  What better excuse to have than that to remain indoors, in the blastingly frigid breeze of A/C and devour stacks upon stacks of summer reading that have piled up over the past few weeks?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I didn’t speak to anyone this weekend.  I checked in on the parents; they’re doing just grand.  My mom has gained five pounds (hooray - the combination of ice cream, bread, and beans are working (don’t worry, it’s not all in one dish)) since she came out of surgery in June and has resumed almost all of her pre-surgery schedule.  I just skipped the typical weekend debauchery of bars and clubs, of sweaty cologne / perfume anointed bodies crushed into a tight space, all angling for the best position to be seen and to be served. I bypassed the weekend experience of hemorrhaging cash from our respective wallets and common sense from our respective better judgment.  Hair done, faces on, it’s all just a little much for me right now, so I stepped back from the crush for a pause, an intermission.

I can count on one hand the number of people I interacted with this weekend.  I responded to even less than that many number of emails.  It isn’t difficult for me to unplug, to put my phone in another room and just forget about it for a few hours.  It is even easier still for me to do that with my work blackberry.

At the end of it all, though, it must end.  No one, not even I, can survive the swirling vortex that is me alone with my thoughts.  Like an Escher painting or an endless set of fluoresced dressing room mirrors, they repeat each other ad nauseam, into infinity (and beyond).  One could go mad (and maybe one has).  The disappearing act is only made magical by the reappearance, without which it would remain grotesque and twisted.  And so, come Monday, much like the carriage at midnight, I'm back again.  Until next weekend.

Speaking of amazingly magical things, my dear friend's musical is being featured Off Broadway in NYC.  If you're in the vicinity, please stop by and check out As We Lie Still.

where we are by Gerald Locklin

Thursday, July 10, 2014

This Paper Ship

Ahh, Gerald Locklin, you sure do speak to me now.  For more of Mr. Locklin's work, please visit him here.

where we are by Gerald Locklin

(for edward field)

i envy those
who live in two places:
new york, say, and london;
wales and spain;
l.a. and paris;
hawaii and switzerland.

there is always the anticipation
of the change, the chance that what is wrong
is the result of where you are. i have
always loved both the freshness of
arriving and the relief of leaving. with
two homes every move would be a homecoming.
i am not even considering the weather, hot
or cold, dry or wet: i am talking about hope.

Get away!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

1: Everlane Weekender 2. GoRuck Civvy Kit 3. Qwstion Weekender 4. Filson Medium Duffle 5. Herschel Novel
To say I've been bitten by the travel bug is an understatement of the very worst kind.  If anything, I've been mauled by the Travel Shark.  He has taken me into his tremendously massive maw and torn my limbs asunder, flinging them into the surf in bits and pieces.  In between "serious work time," I browse tiny studio apartments for rent close to Notre Dame, B&Bs to sink into in Savannah and Charleston, cafes to stay awhile at in Belgium, and even beach & surf horseback rides on deserted islands.  And what with Lauren's trip to Greece, Freya's journey to Japan, and three of my coworkers' recent vacations to Germany, I'm feeling quite envious indeed.  I pack my imaginary bag with various fabulous yet casually chic vacation outfits, tuck my passport in my back pocket, and I'm ready to go.  And although packing is the very worst (honestly, it's worse than unpacking because then you can at least just throw everything in the laundry hamper), it can be improved a smidge by having the perfect bag.  So I'm enlisting your help in picking one out.  Which of the above is your very favourite?  Honestly, I'm leaning toward either #2 or #4 but want your opinion as well.

PS: There are a few travels that are coming up in my future and I can't wait to share those details with you very soon!

Quick retreat

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

My get-home ritual has become rote at this point, with six months of repetition to drill it into my head.  Drop all bags by the door.  Peel off all uncomfortably sweaty, dusty, straw encrusted (and other stuff encrusted) clothing - some may make it into the laundry hamper and some may not.  Jump into shower and take the quickest wash in all of history.  Jump out, hair still soaking wet, and spend the next two to three hours reading, writing, and generally dripping water everywhere.  No interruptions, no phone calls, no television, no distractions.  Occasionally I'll venture out, scavenge for some food, check the mail, and drop off recycling and then it's a quick retreat back.  My home is my sanctuary, is my fortress of solitude, is my tall, tall tower with no entrance, is my cave hidden away in the mountains.

By luck of the draw (or the gods' intervention), my apartment has the WORST cell phone reception known to man.  Even worse than the dorm room my freshman year when T-Mobile hadn't yet glommed onto every cell phone tower in the Austin area.  I get two bars of service, if I'm lucky but it's usually the dreaded "E" signal.  We may chat for five minutes before the call is dropped.  It's a convenient excuse to have for not talking long, particularly when I'm in my zone.  This is my decompression time and trust me, you do not want to see what happens when all of that pressure builds up with nowhere to go.  America may have an ice cream shortage at that point in time.

In other news, I'm never moving, not ever.  What about you, what's your get-home ritual?

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