Thursday, August 20, 2009

the unfinished sympathy

“Now there's a cloud coming up out of the sea, no bigger than a man's hand.”

It may not have been as dramatic as the announcement from Elijah's servant, but there was the obvious portent of a storm on the way.

All day Wednesday, neither Jiggs nor I could find any place comfortable in the house or on the patio. The temperature was not too bad. But the humidity kept increasing -- and there was no breeze. It was the no breeze part that made us restless.

Matthew Pearl was keeping me enthralled with his latest thriller: The Last Dickens. (Classy author. Classy book. I recommend it.) But even Pearl's well-crafted Dickensian sentences were not enough to disguise the fact, in the words of the immortal (but departed, go figure) Cole Porter: "It's Too Darn Hot."

Several of our fellow bloggers have asked what people prepare for dinner during these New Orleans afternoons. For me, the choice was easy.

Years ago I developed a salad recipe that can easily be modified no matter where I am. I slice 3 cucumbers, 3 tomatoes, and an onion as thin as possible. Sprinkle them with basil, tarragon, oregano, and pepper. And douse it all with enough rce vinegar to dampen it. Then I chill it for at least an hour.


The nice thing about this salad is that it keeps for a couple of days -- marinating away at the vegetables.

I was eating my dinner while sitting on the balcony just as the sun was going down -- wondering if
we would need the air conditioner to fight the humidity tonight.

And then I saw it. Not a cloud "no bigger than a man's hand." But it was an obvious rain squall.

Usually, clouds off to the southwest do not head our way. I look at it longingly -- like another romance that was worth keeping only as it headed out the door.

I should know that being patient n Mexico is not merely a virtue -- it is a life style.

Within the hour, we had high winds, lightning, thunder -- and, best of all, rain. If I had not been working on the computer, I would have gone outside to tango in the rain.

There is a moral in this tale, but it is so obvious that I feel as if I am dealing in doggerel to write it down. So, I won't.

You are all adults. Here is your chance to end one of my tales.

Because, I ain't gonna do it.



Anonymous said...

I am sure there is some obvious literary reference that would properly end the tale. But, being only semiliterate, I won't even make an attempt at it. Here is my ending....

Storm over, you proceed to the beach with Mr Jiggs to find an empty treasure chest that washed up on the beach. With disappointment you watched as a deliriously happy couple tangoed their damp way down the beach with the treasures that had been in it. You wished that you had ventured a damp tango yourself.

Steve Cotton said...

The last chest we saw floating in the bay here was a failed drug drop. That certainly would have added a bit of Hunter Thompson to the tale.

glorv1 said...

Maybe there is no ending because it will happen again and again and you will feel that humidity that makes you cringe. I would just say that when the high winds, lightning, thunder and rain came, I would have summoned to Mr. Jiggs to go outside and would have put aside the computer work and gone outdoors to dance the "Jig" with Mr. Jiggs. heheheehe. Seeya!

Croft said...

That salad looks delicious Steve. We sometimes make a variation of it using slices of tomato, mild onion and mozzarella cheese. We layer them horizontally in that order and pour the dressing over it. After it marinates in the fridge for an hour or so it is served and there are seldom any leftovers.

For some reason there is nothing like tomatoes in hot weather!

Steve Cotton said...

Gloria -- That would have been a delightful ending. Unfortunately, the 20 tiled stairs leading outside were wet, and there was too great of a danger of slipping while carrying him down the stairs. Once he is upstairs, he does not go out until tyh next morning. It is the pits to get old.

Steve Cotton said...

Croft -- When I have the ingredients, I will often add Greek olives and a high-quality feta. But that is another salad, I guess. I had a bowl of mine for breakfast. It hit the spot. I wish I had a source for good bread. A baguette is the perfect accompaniment.

Croft said...

Finding good bread is always a problem in Mexico. Sometimes you find a pretty good selection in the larger Mega or WalMarts but in general all you see are the buns that the locals seem to prefer.

Steve Cotton said...

Croft -- As yesterday's comments indicate, Mexican baked goods are not what the country is known for -- as you well know. I often just give in and have a tortilla. If I need sandwich bread, I drive to Monzanillo and pick it up at WalMart.

Nancy said...

Steve, The salad looks good, I eat several tomatoes a day and am partial to the small cucumbers about the size of a large dill pickle.

If you want good bread, make Constantino's recipe for sourdough, it is easy and delicious.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Cotton,

I cannot express to you how much I despise and detest the cheap rhetorical device of ending an essay with an obviously insincere comment of self-deprecation -- the point so obvious it bears no mention.

So, am I to guess? Sometimes we get what we pray for, so now that the house is about to float away, you're thinking you should be careful about what you pray for?

Or, a big wind blows humid air through your ears, inspiring a new blog post?

It's wet outside, so stay inside?

There's lightening, no golf today?

Although the cloud looked no bigger than a hand, it was because your eyes are going and you no longer can judge perspective?

See, this is driving me crazy!!!!!

Shame on you!!!!!

Anonymous said...


You're kidding about the lack of good bread in Mexico, right?

Bolillos, hombre - bolillos simples, bolillos tostados, o empapados en mole, salsa verde o pico de gallo. En todas sus formas el bolillo le supera al pan bimbo/pan americano. Y, ¿qué me dices del pan dulce?

¡Te hace falta "mexicanizarte" un poquito más!

Alee' ;-)

p.s. How's Jiggs doin' today?

Croft said...

I have discovered that the sun is smaller than my hand. We have been told it is huge but I can easily cover it with my outstretched hand. Perhaps that cloud is as large (or small) as the sun...

Steve Cotton said...

Nancy -- I only use the small cucumbers for salads. They are as sweet as any English cucumber I have ever eaten. This may be surprising, but I have not baked a single item in my life. But I am willing to try the bread recipe. It looks interesting.

Anonymous -- I think I need another stringer for each of the fish that just took the bait.

Alee' -- I put bolillos at the top of the bad bread list. I was excited when I first saw them. They looked delicious. But I agree with Islagringo; they taste like stale hamburger rolls.

Jiggs is doing a lot better this evening. See tomorrow's post. By the way, he thinks bolillos taste great -- even though he is supposed to not have any bread.

Croft -- Aristotle still walks amongst we mortals.

Anonymous said...

¿No te gustan bolillos? Creo que tenemos que deportarte. ¿Que piensas Alee'? Que gringo raro.

Steve Cotton said...

Anonymous -- Bolillas? No. Tortillas? Si.