Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fruit and Veg, Woeful Sprawl, White Teeth

It was a hot weekend of playing in the garden. We now have edible green beans, strawberries, arugula, mountains of chamomile for tea and skincare formulation, lemons and limes, spearmint for tea, Morrocan mint for mojitos and juleps, three kinds of lettuces, and some decorative plants. We planted zucchini and hope that will be ready to harvest in a short while. In the meantime, have a look at our chard and apples!

We returned from our little vacation on Friday. It was an unexpected delight. We had planned a week of camping in the redwoods but we got rained out after the first night. So we packed up our camping stuff and checked into a chain "inn" in Santa Cruz to ride out the rainy days. It was a lot of fun. There were hikes in the redwoods, lots of train and trolly rides in various places (because vehicles, particularly the antiquated kind, are my toddler's current obsession), and day trips to Big Sur and Monterey. Except for beautiful Big Sur, I noticed a depressing abundance of chain restos and awful tourist traps everywhere we went. It got me thinking: has the landscape of this state changed so much that there is no longer any place to go except nature, tourist places and chains? Are we lazier now that we travel with a child or is there really, as Gertrude Stein once said about my neighboring town of Oakland, California, "no there there?"

This feeling of opressive sameness was mitigated somewhat by the glorious, gritty descriptions of North London and its varied population in Zadie Smith's fantastic 2000 novel, White Teeth. I loved this book, with strong, funny characters and an epic narrative that spans WWII to 1996 or so. Smith has wit and spark as she touches on such issues as colonialism, race, class, sex, beauty, religion, ethics and coming of age. White Teeth spans generations and locales--India, Jamaica, Bangladesh and London-- to weave together seemingly disparate people into a surprising story line that I whipped through because I couldn't put it down. I believe I am the last semi-literate person on Earth to pick this book up (there was a time that everyone I ever encountered anywhere was reading it). But if there are any other latecomers out there, expecially those who love Salman Rushdie (who I would have guessed was the writer here in a blind taste-test), I recommend it most highly.

Now I'm onto a reread of Living the Savvy Life and a book of short stories by the very promising Katherine Mansfield.

What are you reading?


  1. Oh, I so envy your garden. What a bounty!

    Just started re-reading Hemingway's "A Moveable Feast," which I first read 16 years ago while getting ready to visit Paris for the first time. A few days ago, I copied Fiona's 30 Days of Chic postings from last year into a Word document and printed them. I finished re-reading those last night. Good stuff. Tomorrow, I go back to work and will be reading (well, editing) chapters from a book on immigration law. Not good stuff.

    Happy 4th!

  2. You scored in your garden. I make a swiss chard and goat cheese pizza that is phenomenal, so I am always on the lookout for some fresh bunches.

    I finally finished the Edith Piaf biography that I found out about here on your blog and just began that Guernsey potato peel book that is so popular. I didn't realize it's all letters back and forth between several people - and epistolary novel, I think it's called. I am not sure it's my thing.

    Other than that, I have a big stack of unread books to choose from...but now I want to read "White Teeth".

  3. Nice blog. I got some information about Woeful Sprawl etc...
    Thanks for sharing. And looking forward for you reply.

    Carlos Saunders
    teeth whitening kit


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