Thursday, January 27, 2011

Putzing Along

Mark Bittman, the New York Times' Minimalist columnist, has a list of his current 25 favorite recipes -- some of them perfect for a cold winter evening. (His steamed shrimp dumplings sound even better, though. Good with a zippy sauce of soy, a shot of ginger and some Chinese cooking wine.)

The hallway is clear. I can (sort of) kick a path through the kitchen. (Husband still needs to put in an electrical outlet for the new dishwasher The Mama so generously provided, so there's an extension cord to trip over yet.) Clean underwear and pressed shirts for all. Coffee's perking, and a tiny pot of yellow roses blooms cheerfully in the morning sunlight. Aaahhhh...

     It's been a pleasure to begin to catch back up. Now if I can keep things at the same steady pace...

   Just finished The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Edmund Morris. More than 800 pages (!!!) but infinitely worth it. In spite of good birth and privilege, this man had several huge failures in life. He lost several elections, and could only get a lackey's appointment as a Civil Service commissioner, not long after a winter of snowstorms decimated his income as a cattle rancher. His first wife died; his second, nearly. He was forced to spend a great deal of his time away from his family, working. Many of his decisions, made on the basis of ethics, caused him to endure ridicule and alienation.
    Yet he kept on. At book's end, he faces yet another challenge -- he has just become Vice President, in March 1901. (The previous VP, Hobart, died. I had never known this. Roosevelt, the mayor of New York, is appointed to take his place.) Then in September 1901, his boss, William McKinley, dies from an assassin's bullet only a few weeks after his visit to the Pan American exposition.
    Roosevelt is on a camping trip with his family. He sees the messenger coming with a yellow paper. 'I wanted to be President,' he says, 'but not like this.'
    I can't wait to read the next in Morris' cycle, Theodore Rex. Amazing, minute details, and all backed up with footnotes and references -- perfect for a 'suck-it-dry' type sponge like me.

"It is not often that a man can make opportunities for himself. But he can put himself in such shape that when or if the opportunities come he is ready to take advantage of them."
                                              Theodore Roosevelt

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