Saturday, October 28, 2017

The hermeneutics of batshit dog crazy

I've got it really, really bad. 
My life is very happy right now, albeit at the expense of this blog.

First, school. I’m a lot busier with this than I’d anticipated. Which is great. It keeps my mind occupied and out of trouble and that was critical this fall, given my toxic fixation on Donald Trump and the political situation on the Korean Peninsula, where, as I’ve mentioned, my firstborn currently resides. I don’t have time to dwell on any of that, thanks to school. I’ve decided where I want to teach and what I want to teach when I finally get my degree in 2019, and it will have nothing to do with close-reading Country of the Pointed Firs and learning to casually drop “hermeneutics” into a sentence but meanwhile I’m enjoying close-reading Country of the Pointed Firs and learning to casually drop “hermeneutics” into a sentence. I’m not quite there yet — I can use “hermeneutics” in a sentence, but not casually and perhaps not even correctly. 

Second, Gracie. Our perfect dog. We kept her. Of course. I adore her. Of course. Because she is perfect. She is sitting next to me right now chewing on her beloved furry, filthy squeak toy (thank you Gardner Trimble) and it sounds like a clown car is driving through the living room. But like everything she does, including destroy books, steal shoes, and bark at dogs on TV, I find it utterly delightful. Like I said, Gracie is perfect. I spend every evening at the dog park now watching her play and swim in the bay with her pals Zoe and Atlas and Marigold while I talk to their owners about — what else? — dogs.  

I used to think the library was the best thing about living in Mill Valley. Now I think it’s the beautiful, bayside dog park. 

Obviously, when you’re at the dog park at 6 p.m. beaming at your adorable, frolicking puppy you’re not simultaneously cooking an ambitious dinner and when you’re sitting in a classroom the next morning discussing Edith Wharton with people in their teens and twenties you’re not blogging about that ambitious dinner you didn’t cook.

I’ve been cooking, but not Korean. It turns out that Korean cooking requires a little too much planning ahead for my current dog/commuting/hermeneutics lifestyle. I went to the supermarket on Monday without a list, bought a bunch of random food, came home, and cooked dinner every night this week without looking at any recipes.

I felt like a rockstar.

The dish I want to quickly mention because I love it so much is a beef salad I used to make all the time, pre-blog. It started with a recipe from Marcella Cucina, but once you’ve made it, you’ll never need to look at the recipe again. You thinly slice leftover pot roast, drizzle a layer of  meat with olive oil and lemon juice, sprinkle with salt, repeat with as many layers a you choose. Refrigerate. It’s hard to imagine how fatty, gray pot roast could ever be delicious served cold, but it is. Trust me. I served the beef salad with some fresh tomatoes the day after I served the pot roast and it was so good I couldn’t believe I hadn’t made this for at least a decade.  I just had some of this for breakfast and if Mark weren’t in the room I would let Gracie lick the plate.

But he is, so I will just wait until he steps away.


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  2. You are forgiven, much as we relish each post. Enjoy your new pooch and new pursuit! (And keep posting once in a while)

  3. Lovely to hear from you! I know the feeling - when I was in graduate school I pretty much subsisted on cereal, egg sandwiches, and frozen pizza from Trader Joe's. I occasionally made giant batches of soup and ate that for a week. I'm so glad you kept the pup! She sounds like a sweet little friend.

  4. Of course you kept her, how could you not? I had a sweet dog named Gracie (Amazing, actually) long ago and she was crazy but so worth it. I'm glad you found each other.

  5. I am glad that things are going well! It is always nice to know that someone you haven't heard from in a while is having fun, and it certainly seems you are. Gracie sounds delightful. And, it seems you have conquered the rhythms of school again. It was great to see a post from you. I will certainly try the beef salad. I am making a pot roast tonight! Tell us of your plans when you feel comfortable doing so. You and Gracie sally forth and conquer all obstacles!

  6. This is really great news to hear. Sounds like you are busy enough to actually sleep through the night, something I have not been able to accomplish since November eighth. This makes me think I should enroll in an html class or something to keep me occupied. Some of my happiest days were when I returned to school at 44 years of age. Anyway, I don't like to toot my horn here, but but I think you may be interested in my loose adaptation of David Leibovitz's delicious split pea soup. It's easy and good to have hanging around. His recipe as written is, of course, splendid, but I like the few changes I have made. I cook the bacon until it's crisp and then crumble it on top. That way there are no limp pieces of bacon in the soup. In my post I mention Marcella's Smothered Cabbage Soup soup - a real winner. It doesn't look good, but the way it tastes makes up for it. You might not be able to take the time to cook from Jerusalem these days, but I bet you can happily use Meera Sodha's Made in India, which I think has a lot of uncomplicated tasty dishes. I hope you will take the time to occasionally let us know how you are doing; we all love to hear. Best of luck with everything - classes, the dog, your family.

  7. The previous respondants are very gracious; however, I am so grumpy for you not to blog every day! You were saving me from Trump and Meaghan Kelly despair. I will try to take the high road and I do wish you good luck with school. It tickles me to imagine your conversations with teenagers about literature. You will be the best teacher ever in the world. We all love you. So will your students.

  8. So happy to hear from you! So happy you are happy. I have never understood "fostering" dogs, I would keep them all and become that crazy lady with too many dogs. /Gretchen

  9. I'm so glad you kept Gracie! We got a new kitten in July 2016 after a year sans pets. Despite my reservations about jumping back into pet ownership, I really think it's the best thing I could have done. That cat has saved me in so many ways and I am head over heels in love with her. It sounds like you're experiencing the same, and that makes me so happy.

  10. I just downloaded a copy of The Country of the Pointed Firs. Details to follow.

    I was so demoralized by the death of my cat, and so liberated by the absence of the litter box, that I haven't adopted another creature. But maybe I should.

  11. Glad to hear about the joys of the dog park and the effective distraction of coursework. The cooking inspiration thing comes and goes in my experience. Cheers!

  12. Wait - didn't Mark say something about no dogs, no way? What happened? I am totally pro-dog, so yay!

  13. I'm very pro-dog, so I'm extremely happy for you -- they give us so much joy and unconditional love. And well done for you with school -- we all need distractions from the clown car that is the current White House administration.

    I have read The Country of the Pointed Firs, which I enjoyed very much. I also love Edith Wharton but I suspect her brilliance may be lost on teenagers and twenty somethings. I didn't read Ethan Frome until I was 40 and then I totally got it. House of Mirth is brilliant, I hope you read it someday if you haven't already.

  14. If you won't post here, please develop an Instagram habit so we can see more of sweet Gracie :)

    But please post here. Please.

  15. That little dog is about as charming and adorable as she could be. I have grown more dog-susceptible as I've gotten older. I keep finding myself enchanted by the little buggers. I'm really happy for you and for Gracie! I would probably melt in her presence.

  16. I love that you adopted Gracie. I've been batshit dog crazy for 17 years. Thanks to my dogs, I've made a lot of friends and gotten to know my neighbors. Another bonus, they will appreciate every single thing you cook.

  17. Several years ago, when I was trying to research what the early American pioneers in my area would have cooked, someone referred me to this PhD dissertation:

    Ever since then, I've used the phrase "hermenuetic of appetite" as my personal code for "needlessly complicated academic-ese." To be fair, it's probably a fairly interesting paper. But I was looking for recipes.

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