Thursday, August 30, 2012

One Dog's Tricks

Dover has several tricks. He does the usual: he sits, stays, lies down, heels, turns, and poses majestically when a passer-by stops to admire him. He brings in the newspaper every morning, exchanges the Peace when asked (using his left paw), stands ever so briefly on his hind legs and hops towards an extended dog biscuit lure, and, reluctantly, weaves in and out between my legs.

But his real tricks involve tennis balls. He is an expert shortstop, shagging balls from any angle with graceful leaps and twists. When he brings them back for more, he deposits them a few feet away from his partner, and gives them a determined swat with his snout which propels them into the partner's playing field. I guess that counts as a trick also.

His newest trick is in the water. He has braved the waves to find his quarry since he was a puppy, but now he stands mutely on shore until we hit a second tennis ball out into the sea. Then he plunges in, cuts a straight line through the waves to snatch the first, and with an expert eye, tracks down the second, captures it, and brings both in.

And then he requests a repeat. And a repeat. And a . . . .  
[The second ball is tucked into his
jowl behind the lead ball.]

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Place at the Table for Everyone

Eating one by one: The day started inauspiciously with the usual mix of Cheerios and granola for me, assorted other cereals, breads, and eggs on toast for others. People straggled down at different times, took their breakfast to private places in the house or on the porch to eat in morning solitude, enjoying the morning papers and the sight and sounds of the waves, gulls, and osprey diving for her own breakfast.

Eating in small groups: For lunch, we had shakshuka, an Israeli/Arab dish prepared by a friend visiting from Texas. This is, essentially, poached eggs in tomato sauce, with bread for dipping and scooping, and, in this instance, the added attraction of Mexican chorizo along with it. People showed up and ate in small groups of 4 or 5, depending on when they arrived for the meal, who they hadn’t seen for a while, and miscellaneous other variables. Children ate their trusted and true sandwiches, but a few of the older kids, plus the 2-year old, tried the shakshuka and, like the adults, pronounced it outstanding. The 2-year old was even heard to ask for more.

A place for everyone at the table: The dinner menu started with an appetizer plate of assorted cheeses, crackers, grapes, and cherries, accompanied by wine, beer, juice, and pop. About twelve adults gathered by the kitchen sink and out back by three charcoal grills to preside over peeling, trimming, dicing, slicing, washing, marinating, lighting, and organizing stations. Others took their turns on the porch to demolish the appetizers, and kids set to work trundling knives, forks, plates, and other eating paraphernalia from their resting places in the kitchen to the tables lined up on the porch. Everyone took turns shepherding the two-year-old future marathon runner as he careened from the front to the back of the house, up the step stool to inspect the pantry shelves, and onto the swing on the front porch.

The meal was produced, carried in, divided up, and eaten by 25 friends and family of greatly varied ages amidst delight, pleasure, and raucous laughter. 

Here is the menu:
  • Roasted garlic from our son’s organic farm;
  • Butternut squash roasted with grapes and onions;
  • Corn on the cob;
  • Mussels garnished with a mystery topping – check out the picture;
  • Sweet Italian sausage with an optional garnish of sautéed peppers, onions and other stuff;
  • Grilled flap loin, flank, and t-bone steaks, seasoned or non.
  • Hamburgers, cheeseburgers and sliced ham for the culinarily suspicious. There were to be hot dogs as well, but the wrong package was taken from the freezer in Boston and transported south, only to have it be discovered that it was marked by an X, meaning it was full of rotting hot dogs destined for trash pick-up rather than the grill;
  • And one of the pieces de resistance: home fried French friesl We mowed through 4 huge batches and not one strip was left.

Finally: Ice cream topped by Tom’s homemade, chemically inspired, crystallizing, private-recipe chocolate sauce.

The take away message: Everyone had a place in planning, providing, and preparing (except, perhaps, for the two-year-old) and everyone had a place at the table. There was plenty for everyone, and some was even left over for another day. Listen up, World!

Blessings all around.