Nobody’s Perfect**

August 29, 2007 § 2 Comments

Our house is on the horse-and-carriage tour loop for Lunenburg, and while our place isn’t a feature, it is a highlight for some because both Frank and Bob (horses, you understand) have decided that the spot right in front of my window is prime space for letting the turds fly. Of course, the drivers have a script for that.

“This is the best part of my job,” they say. “The souvenirs are free, if anyone is interested.”

Ho, ho, ho. That chestnut brings a chuckle from tourists at least 35% of the time.

So we always hear the same bit of the tour. Clip clop, clip clop coming up the street “…was built in 1874. Seven years later, his brother built his house next door; the two are. Nearly. Identical.”

At this point there are usually two or three cars behind the carriage that the driver waves by, or, again, the bathroom break. Anyway, there’s a lull in the tour, and often someone asks about real estate prices. Sensibly enough, because a third of residential Lunenburg is for sale, and another third is being spruced up for sale in the next year or two.

“So,” the tourist will say. “So, how much do houses around here go for?”

And every single time the driver will spout some horseshit(!) about how Lunenburg is very expensive by Nova Scotia standards, and I’ve never seen a house go for less than $250,000 in Lunenburg, and this one? This one right here? The one you’re pointing to? Well, that one wouldn’t go for anything under $500,000.

But, you see, Internet, I am connected to you. Fifty seconds of research and I find that the house across the street from us? The one they were pointing to? $279,000. NOT $500,000. And also, just down the street, there’s one for $215,000.

I’ll wait while you look at the interior shots. Nice, huh?

And another thing!

Tourist: What does UNESCO stand for? I know UN is United Nations, but what are the rest?
Driver: Well, actually, I don’t really know… [despite having been asked 32 times previously this summer alone]

UNESCO.gif

Guys. Listen. United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. They don’t keep it a secret.

But never mind. Sorry to have interrupted your rhythm.

“Have you ever seen a bear in a tree? Look to your left, there he is. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the smallest church in Lunenburg…”

Having said all this, I would like to take the tour someday (it’s $35 for 30 minutes; not in the budget) just to see what they have to say about our other, uh, landmarks.

**Another bit of our tour involves a door that’s quite crooked in the frame. Last year they had a script about not knowing whether the architect had lost his square by the time he got to the door, or whether he was just shit-faced.

But! This year! They mixed it up! One older fellow always tells his group that “it just goes to show you, nobody’s perfect” while a younger girl comes by proclaiming it’s the architect’s signature. And I just don’t know who to believe.

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All Disjointed Like a Bonsai Kitten

August 28, 2007 § Leave a comment

I’m reading A String in the Harp by Nancy Bond, and I’m having some trouble with the Welsh. Does anyone out there have a quick-and-dirty pronunciation guide for me? I have no desire to learn Welsh, but the word cwm, for example, keeps popping up and I’d like some idea of how it’s said.

I read How Green Was My Valley in Summer 1996, so I have a smidgen of understanding— “dd” being pronounced “th”— but what about something like Tre’r-ddôl?

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Also, journalists! Like Richard, I am concerned with the dilution of the English language, and I especially hate over-using milquetoast words when the language is so illustrative.

Don’t just say he’s an embattled former Attorney General. Beleaguered is better, but what about fraught, bedeviled, besieged, harried, or plagued?

Vivid language, please!

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While we were in Maine, Richard and I ate at DuckFat, a restaurant run by Rob Evans and Nancy Pugh. Evans was a Food & Wine Best New Chef 2004, and runs Hugo’s, which has been lavishly praised by Gourmet Magazine, Condé Nast Traveler, The New York Times, et al. DuckFat is the cheaper little brother, but its menu is still quite sophisticated, and our meal was sublime start to finish. Two-thirds of it was French Belgian fries. Frankly, it’s the perfect neighborhood restaurant.

Anyway, Richard ordered one of their housemade lemon verbena sodas, and it was so sprightly and tingly and zesty and fun that I wanted to try it on a smaller scale at home. Till now, all my fresh-herb drinks were better in conception than execution*, but the lemon verbena almost-kind-of-worked. I’d still double or triple the amount, but till then, here’s a quick-and-dirty recipe.

Lemon Verbena Lemonade Concentrate
In this recipe I’ve tripled the lemon verbena I used this afternoon, so don’t triple it again. Also, this is a recipe for concentrate, to be mixed with sparkling water, or tap water, or water and vodka; whatever you like. But don’t drink it straight.

Ingredients
Six fresh lemons, rolled and juiced (about 2 cups juice)
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 cup sugar
6 large sprigs (10-15 leaves each) lemon verbena

For the simple syrup
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar with ½ cup water and four sprigs lemon verbena and zest. Heat slowly, stirring occasionally until sugar completely dissolves. Don’t let the sugar stick to the bottom, but don’t stir too vigorously either, or the sugar will crystallize up the sides of the pot. Bring just to a boil, then remove from heat. Cool and discard lemon verbena and zest.

For the concentrate
Pluck the leaves from remaining sprigs of lemon verbena and slice into thin ribbons. Chiffonade it, if you’re being a fancy-pants.

Once cool, combine the syrup, juice and lemon verbena. Shake or stir to combine throughly. Chill.

To finish
Pour 1-2 finger widths of concentrate into a pretty glass, and top with the water of your choice. Add ice and serve.

*An experiment executed many times with negligible results. Three cups of mint later, my tisane’s flavor was vaguely vegetal, if you concentrated on it with your eyes closed. Fresh lavender simple syrup tasted… like simple syrup. Dried lavender was much better

The Saddest Thing You’ll See All Day

August 26, 2007 § Leave a comment

My balloon. It collapsed.

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Sorry about the blog-flake this Summer, ladies and gentlemen, but I will work harder. I suppose I did have a lot to say, but Autumn is a promising time, too. I’m still fresh enough out of school to think of it as the beginning. And so it will be.

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