The Clean Plater

Sometimes Ogden Nash just says it so much better than I ever could. Case in point:

“Some singers sing of ladies’ eyes,
And some of ladies lips,
Refined ones praise their ladylike ways,
And coarse ones hymn their hips.
The Oxford Book of English Verse
Is lush with lyrics tender;
A poet, I guess, is more or less
Preoccupied with gender.
Yet I, though custom call me crude,
Prefer to sing in praise of food.
Yes, food,
Just any old kind of food.
Pheasant is pleasant, of course,
And terrapin, too, is tasty,
Lobster I freely endorse,
In pate or patty or pasty.
But there’s nothing the matter with butter,
And nothing the matter with jam,
And the warmest greetings I utter
To the ham and the yam and the clam.
For they’re food,
All food,
And I think very fondly of food.
Through I’m broody at times
When bothered by rhymes,
I brood
On food.
Some painters paint the sapphire sea,
And some the gathering storm.
Others portray young lambs at play,
But most, the female form.
“Twas trite in that primeval dawn
When painting got its start,
That a lady with her garments on
Is Life, but is she Art?
By undraped nymphs
I am not wooed;
I’d rather painters painted food.
Just food,
Just any old kind of food.
Go purloin a sirloin, my pet,
If you’d win a devotion incredible;
And asparagus tips vinaigrette,
Or anything else that is edible.
Bring salad or sausage or scrapple,
A berry or even a beet.
Bring an oyster, an egg, or an apple,
As long as it’s something to eat.
If it’s food,
It’s food;
Never mind what kind of food.
When I ponder my mind
I consistently find
It is glued
On food.”

P.S. Thank you, leetle brother Philip, for introducing me to this gem.


Reasons to live in Mocksville

If you are lucky enough to live in an upstairs apartment in the middle of downtown (not sure how I made the grade), the view is lovely. Two large old trees grace the square, and the old brick buildings hold so much mystery and history in their walls.

If you go for a walk, you never know what will happen. For instance, recently I was marching down the street minding my own business when suddenly I heard someone call my name. Surprised, I turned around to see who on earth knows me in Mocksville, and here it was the owner of the new coffee shop that just opened today. “Come in,” he said, “And I’ll make you a free latte. I need more practice.” Who is to turn down an offer like that?

And if you are a walker, not only might you get a free latte, but you never run out of places to go. There are so many wandering little streets with adorable houses, or you can walk to the library and take a break there to get lost in its aisles, or the park is close enough to walk to, with its lovely trails. Main Street is hard to beat too, especially if you make up stories to go with each of the grand houses as you go by. The house with the shutters that look like scary eyebrows? Probably belongs to a villain. The grand old southern mansions with magnolia trees must needs be inhabited by classic southern belles with their big dresses and big hair and drawls. The house with its windows closed probably houses a famous author who is trying to hide from his public life. Really, I can’t go often enough to all my favorite spots to satisfy myself.

You think small towns lack entertainment? Think again. With a Daniel Boone festival each year, bed races to look forward to (yes, you heard correctly), random street musicians, farmers’ market each week during the summer, and several dollar stores to shop at, why would we ever need to leave?

O’Callahan’s deserves a paragraph all its own. Go. Eat the fried pickles or Reuben bites.Admire the ceiling tiles. Try the whiskey mustard. Thank me later.

Since Mocksville is the closest town for a lot of my friends, I never know who I might run into. Pie with a random person at the restaurant across the street? Check. Sitting in the Secret Garden and hearing all about a friend’s new love interest? Check. Waking up at night to people trying to climb onto the roof beside our house? Check. Tagging along to meetings I don’t belong at, just for the food at O’Callahan’s? Check.

Of all the places I’ve called home (what is it by now, fifteen houses?) Mocksville is fast rising to the top of the list. Come see me here and we’ll go out for fried pickles and ice cream. Not eaten together.

Law-Abiders Never Prosper

When I was a child, I was exceedingly sensitive. If I thought I had done something wrong, even accidentally, it bothered and bothered me. However, recently I learned a valuable life lesson, namely, “Law-abiders never prosper.” This is how it went down.

Around the beginning of the year, my sister got married, and I was in her bridal party. We were out marching about the town, freezing in our short sleeves, getting pictures taken by the fabulous Grettagraphy. At one point, we needed to cross a street to get to our next photo spot. Most of the bridal party took off across the street, even though the little red hand clearly told them not to go, but my escort and I decided to be good, law-abiding citizens (his personality being much like mine) and not jaywalk. The result of our upstanding decision was that one of the coolest candid shots of the day does not include him or me, and that is how it will always be.

After grieving our exclusion, we came to inevitable conclusion that clearly, law-abiders never prosper. What else could be to blame for this? So from that day on, that line has been much on my tongue, and I have justified multiple decisions based on it.

I jaywalk.

Sometimes the tires of my car cross the yellow line.

Do you think I’d have found the secret garden I wrote last about if I hadn’t learned this?

I eat grapes without washing them.

I climb stairs that aren’t mine, for a better view of the town.

I sit on the roof beside our apartment, which I’m not at all sure I’m supposed to do.

And my latest rum schpringa adventure is this: Lyn and I have a small rooftop garden, consisting of tomatoes, cucumbers, basil, and mint (and yes, it’s on the rooftop we aren’t sure we are allowed to access). When I bought the tomato plants, the pack came with one more plant than fit into the pots on the rooftop, so instead of  dumping poor little tomato into the garbage, I decided to give him a better life. Behind our apartment is a neglected patch of dirt, with just a few straggly plants in it. All that empty soil is simply begging to be filled, so late one night, Abby and I snuck out, armed with a spade, the tomato, and a water bottle, and we redeemed both the tomato and the forlorn flower bed. Some young people sneak out to smoke pot; we sneak out to plant vegetables. 

See our evil, sneaky faces? It was great fun, and I look forward to eating my fill of fresh salsa later this summer from our clandestine plant. So you see it has been proved, law-abiders never prosper, but living a life that is risky at best is totally worth it.