(Sweltering) Sunday Afternoon: Planning Dinner & The Return of The NYTBR

Be careful what you wish for. Just a week ago, self was complaining how cold it was in the Bay Area. The weather made her groggy and tired and self wanted to sleep all the time.

In contrast, yesterday and today were hot. This afternoon, self wheedled hubby into watching “Mrs. Pettigrew Lives for a Day,” showing downtown.

The streets felt empty. The two restaurants across the street from the Redwood City Main Library on Middlefield Road — A Tavola and Milagros — were shuttered and silent. Self used to love seeing the customers chatting at tables on the sidewalks, but A Tavola hasn’t been open for almost a year now — a sign says the restaurant is closed for re-modeling, but no work has been done. She hopes it hasn’t shut down.

There was a little more life in the theatre lobby. Self couldn’t help thinking: Is this what a recession feels like? Silent streets, and everyone moving sluggishly? Hubby declared the movie “sappy” (though self thought Lee Pace was dee-lightful!) He said he wished he’d spent the afternoon watching Tiger on TV.

Now, self is home. Ah, what to do, what to do? She watered, a few buckets. She continued digging a hole for the passiflora vine she’d bought from the Mountain View Farmers Market before going to Tel Aviv. The vine is so long now that its stems flop all over the place. But the ground is so hard and gravelly that self gives up after just a few minutes.

Self should probably plan dinner. In Cooking Thai Food in American Kitchens, Book 2, there’s a recipe for “Delicious Hamberger” (spelled exactly that way). Self thinks she can manage this: the photo shows a white serving plate, hamburger patties (in some kind of brown sauce) arranged around a centerpiece of pearl onions, cherry tomatoes, and chopped green beans.

Perhaps that’s too simple. Here’s another dish: on a round serving platter, an arrangement of brussels sprouts, asparagus, and broccoli. The caption identifies the dish as “Asparagus, Broccoli and Brussels Sprouts in Oyster Sauce.” Self doesn’t have the asparagus or the broccoli, but she does have brussels sprouts. And, how silly, this morning self was in Costco and she forgot to get soy sauce. Also, hubby complains about the rice she bought a few days ago from Marina Mart, which is some fancy Japanese rice that he says is too sticky. But since self bought a 25-lb. bag, it will be several weeks yet before self can think of getting a different kind. She’ll just have to put up with hubby’s grumbling.

In the meantime, self has begun reading The New York Times Book Review again. Amazing that it’s been almost a month since she read the last one. This morning, she reads the March 9 issue. And here once again, dear blog readers, is the list of books self is interested in reading after perusing it:

(1) After reading Walter Kirn’s (in self’s opinion, somewhat digressive) review of Richard Price’s new novel, Lush Life:

Richard Price’s new novel, Lush Life

(2) After reading Thomas Mallon’s review of Joshua Kendall’s The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, and the Creation of Roget’s Thesaurus:

Joshua Kendall’s The Man Who Made Lists: Love, Death, Madness, and the Creation of Roget’s Thesaurus

(3) After reading Scott McLemee’s review of Eric Alterman’s Why We’re Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America:

Eric Alterman’s Why We’re Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America

(4) After reading David Rieff’s review of Michael Scheuer’s new book, Marching Toward Hell: America and Islam After Iraq:

Michael Scheuer’s earlier book, Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror

(5) After reading Lorraine Adams’ review of Jenny Siler’s — aka Alex Carr’s — new spy novel, The Prince of Bagram Prison:

Jenny Siler/ Alex Carr’s first Stella Rimington spy novel, 2004’s At Risk

(6) After reading David Berreby’s review of Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions:

Dan Ariely’s Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions

Today: A List of “Firsts”

Conversations: Self’s first with a San Francisco taxi driver in decades. Of course, it began with the standard, “Where are you from?” But what was interesting was, before self had a chance to answer, driver said, “Mongolia?” (!!@@##)

Eats: Self’s first “Golden Gate Roll”, at the Japanese restaurant behind Books, Inc. in Opera Plaza. Ingredients: salmon, tempura shrimp, manggo and tobiko. Self thinks hubby’s order, “Dragon Roll,” looked much much more appetizing (When self asks hubby what the ingredients were, he replies: “I don’t know.”)

Music: Don Quixote-themed night at the San Francisco Symphony. At the talk that preceded the concert, extremely entertaining gent (James Keller) imparted the following information:

    Cervantes’ Don Quixote is the best-selling fictional creation of all time, having sold half a billion copies since its first publication in 15-something something (Its sales bested only by the Bible and Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book)
    Miguel de Cervantes had a rather shady character for a father. His father’s trade was listed as “surgeon,” which is more akin to what we think of today as a barber, though Mr. Keller explained that “a 16th century surgeon removed other things than just hair.” (What sort of things he coyly left to audience’s imagination)
    Miguel de Cervantes fought at the Battle of Lepanto (1571).
    He was captured by Barbary pirates and held for ransom for five years in a filthy stinking jail.

Reads: David Sedaris’ Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, the first book by Sedaris that self has ever read (And after Billy Bathgate and Welcome to Hard Times, self is extremely, extremely excited to read a book where the most horrible thing that can happen to you is getting kicked out of your house because your father has discovered you are gay)

Reads 2: Because self was able to drop by Books Inc. and pick up freebies like the San Francisco Bay Guardian, self learns about these two exceedingly interesting San Francisco events:

    At Yerba Buena Center for the Arts: “Tracing Roads Through Central Asia: On Traders’ Dilemmas and Travelers’ Perspectives,” at the Terrace Galleries, Apr. 17 – June 29. The exhibition ” explores the complex relationship between the process of nation building and the political nature of historical memory in the work of artists from Central Asia’s newly developing countries.”
    The 51st San Francisco International Film Festival opens April 24 and runs to May 8.

And now, self is off to bed. Stay tuned, dear blog readers, stay tuned.

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