Stories

Crime and Culinary Punishment

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by Carolyn Foster Segal

bonesIt’s amazing that some can go through an entire detective novel or TV series without eating. I’m not talking about readers or Netflix viewers; I’m referring to the characters, for whom the ratio of meals to angst seems to be inversely proportional. The band of agents in Criminal Minds has stopped to eat, by my count, just twice in seven seasons. The Bones team, however, logs almost as many hours in the diner as in the lab. The biggest mystery of the show is why Booth doesn’t weigh 350 pounds.

It seems to be feast or famine for anyone trapped in a crime story. In episodes of the British shows Inspector Lewis and Midsomer Murders, the upper-class villains eat far better than the coppers. The downside for the affluent is that they rarely get out of the dining room alive.

The protagonists of culinary mysteries—from Rex Stout’s gourmand Nero Wolfe to Virginia Rich’s chef Eugenia Potter to Joanne Fluke’s baker Hannah Swenson—enjoy breaking bread as much as breaking cases. Most enforcers, however, subsist on coffee and whiskey (Law & Order—all versions) and the archetypal donut (Dexter).

A Picnic Table Changes Everything

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by Susie Middleton

dsc 8901 1A few days before my birthday, a picnic table arrived in our yard, carted down the driveway in Roy’s truck. Roy held out for as long as he could, swearing he was not going to pay money for a picnic table when he could build one for much less, or better yet, build us a really lovely outdoor dining table. I know he was disappointed not to have the time to do it this summer, but at least he didn’t leave us without something to sit around for the birthday gathering.

We positioned the table under the shade of the giant maple, which just happens to be about halfway between the back door and the garden gate—the path we travel most often. We intended to move the table after the party, since it’s in the way of the rope swing. But it seems to be settling in, letting us know it’s happy where it is—and happy to do for us whatever we need. Oddly enough, it’s as if the table was always meant to be here, as if the backyard beckoned it to come complete our outdoor living room. (The grill is right nearby, too.)

The Olympics: Not So Much

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by Ann Nichols

olympics2012I’m pretty ambivalent about the Olympics. I watched the opening ceremonies so that I could hear the announcer say “ceremony” the British way, and because I love a good national spectacle. I was thrilled to hear Branagh recite Shakespeare, I am always teary when I hear the opening strains of “Jerusalem,” and I admired the man-made Tor that acted as centerpiece to Danny Boyle’s history of Great Britain.

He lost me somewhere around the Industrial Revolution hand jive, and I was kind of skeeved out by the childrens’ nightmare sequence with “Tubular Bells” and a gigantic baby; taken as a whole, the idea seemed to be that children were tucked into bed at Great Ormond Street Hospital by smiling, dancing doctors and nurses and then abandoned to nightmarish characters from literature until they were all saved by a fleet of Mary Poppinses. Presumably the Marys speared Voldemort, The Queen of Hearts, Captain Hook, et al with their proper British bumbershoots and eased the minds of all of us who associate “Tubular Bells’ with Linda Blair’s green and rotating head.

But I digress. My problem with the Olympics has nothing to do with its location (a place, frankly, that I would rather be than where I actually am) and everything to do with sports-related media. If a person is interested in watching Olympic coverage during prime time, which is the only time we watch television in this house, one is necessarily watching network coverage. Network coverage is kind of like “American Idol” with contestants who swim, vault and run. Favorites are cultivated, highlighted and vignetted; we are basically fed everything we need to know about who will probably win, who we should like, and why.

Power, Politics and the Olympics

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by Cathy Pollak

olympicflagHave you ever called someone you knew to ask a simple question and before you know it you are having a full-fledged discussion about everything that's wrong with the world.

This happened to me when I phoned someone to ask a simple question about "paint" and in polite conversation asked if they had been enjoying the Olympic Games, as I have.

Oh holy hell.

The person I was speaking with said they absolutely DO NOT watch the Games because the Games are shaped by politics.

Oops, I knew our light-hearted discussion was over at this point.

I guess it's obvious politics and not sport dominate the Olympic events. But if you've ever spoken to someone who feels VERY strongly about this, ummm, look out.

So we had a huge discussion about everything wrong with the Olympics for the past, I don't know 100 years.

I was just calling to ask about some paint colors but instead we went for the gold...

Glad it’s Summertime

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by James Farmer III

shellingpeasI’m writing this ode to summertime while being serenaded by lovely summer music – an orchestral enchantment of a summer thunderstorm. We’ve been dry down here in Dixie and every little drop is a blessing. Fill our cups please!

Peas, purple hulls to be exact, sunflowers, peaches, butter and snap beans – all coming in with gusto from our farms and gardens. Mimi’s favorite thing is to shell peas, and after a myriad of places, we finally tracked down unshelled peas for her pleasure and leisure.

“So many places sell them shelled... I just want to sit and shell peas all day.” Mimi.

The nerve of us buying shelled peas – that would be robbing our grandmother of a blessing! Shell away Mimi…shell away! My grandmother’s delight I count a richest gain, for all I have to do is eat the peas. For there again is a favorite pastime of our matriarch – cooking peas. Alas, I shall resign my attempts and glory in the pot liquor of Mimi’s peas.

“I eat my peas with honey; I’ve done so all my life… I eat my peas with honey, so that they stay on my knife!” another Mimi-ism.

 

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