Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Three Beautiful Things 01/21/20: Quick Check Up, Kibbeh and Granola, Lucy Cooke and *Master and Commander*

1. I'm finished with the medical/industrial complex until March. Originally, I was scheduled to see my Primary Care Provider just before Christmas, but I rescheduled that appointment because I wanted to talk with her after I had my annual transplant list review in November, a second (limited) echocardiogram a couple weeks ago and talked with the cardiologist, and after my nephrology appointment last week.

I'm glad I did. I had blood work done in November and more done for Dr. Bieber. I was hoping not to have more. She didn't order more. Once I reviewed with Dr. Herold that I was feeling good and the results of the recent blood work, she listened to my heart and lungs, recommended that I not gain any more weight, and said she'd see me in six months.


2. Back home, I heated up a chunk of the kibbeh I made yesterday and plopped a fried egg on top of it. I liked it -- in fact, I thought the kibbeh tasted better after it rested for a night in the fridge. The bulgur softened up and, while I still would like to season my next kibbeh more than the recipe calls for, it didn't seem as bland to me today.

A few years back, on Pinterest, I found a chart for making granola. I consulted it again today, realized I had what I needed on hand to make a batch, and combined oats, golden raisins, chopped walnuts, cinnamon, vanilla extract, melted butter, and brown sugar, stirred it up pretty good, and baked it on a sheet for a half an hour at 350 degrees.

The chart is here.

3. I finished Lucy Cooke's book, The Truth About Animals and read her conclusions about the history of the troubling relationship over the years between humans and the animal kingdom, both in terms of the wildly inaccurate ways humans have written and thought about animals over the centuries and in terms of the impact our habits of making animals into one kind of a commodity or another have had on these animals' daily lives and, in the bigger picture, on their very survival.

It's among the most enjoyable books I've read. Lucy Cooke has a wicked sense of humor, especially in her discussions of animal genitalia and breeding habits, but also in her assessments of crazy ideas early naturalists had about animal life.

So, her book is at once very funny and sobering. Lucy Cooke's love of animals, boundless curiosity,
sharp wit, extensive work in different animal habitats, and shimmering writing style make the book a joy to read even as it confronts its readers with dark truths about the perils of animal life on Earth.

What to read next?

I'll answer this question with a slight detour.

I'm wondering if any of you reading this post do something I enjoy from time to time. I do SmartTV searches for movie titles, call up the movies, and watch trailers. Sometimes, I'll watch six or seven trailers in a row. My reasons are various. Sometimes I like to remind myself of highlights from a movie I watched years ago; sometimes I like to watch a series of trailers of movies featuring a particular actor; sometimes I'm curious how the trailer makers went about creating a trailer about certain movies; and, sometimes I want to see if the trailer further rouses my interest in a movie I think I'd like to watch. I often have a trailer viewing session later in the evening when I know it's too late to start watching a new movie, but I'm in the mood for some cinematic stimulation.

I do the same things with books.

I look up titles on Amazon and, when available, I click on the Look Inside feature and read passages. Let's say, for example, I would like to just sample a bit of George Eliot or Henry James or Charles Dickens. This Look Inside feature gives me a way to do this.

Well, today, after finishing Lucy Cooke, I was in an Edith Wharton frame of mind. I'd recently watched trailers for movie adaptations of two of her books, The Age of Innocence and Ethan Frome. I realized that years ago I had started to read The Age of Innocence, but, for whatever reason, I didn't stick with it.

So I sampled The Age of Innocence and ordered it to be put on hold at the library.

What did I have on hand, though, that I could get going on?

Well, reading Edith Wharton put me in the mood for a certain elevated style of writing. I spotted Patrick O'Brian's Master and Commander in our bookcase and I remembered that even though he started writing his series of nautical novels in the 1960s, he employed a more antiquated and certainly an erudite writing style, packed with obscure nautical terms, non-nautical words on the very edge or outside the realm of common usage, Latin phrases, allusions to philosophers and other thinkers of antiquity, and references to composers of music.

Exactly, as it turns out, what I was in the mood for.

So, with my handy cell phone by my side to refer to constantly as a dictionary, I plunged into the deep waters of Master and Commander.

I got hooked immediately, so hooked that I canceled my plans to go to KHS and watch Kellogg play Sandpoint and I read O'Brian instead of watching two Big East basketball games with the sound on. I had the games on the Vizio, but I muted the sound, looking up occasionally to check scores or watch an occasional spurt of action.  But reading took precedent over the St. John's game (they lost to Marquette) and Villanova's win over Butler.

Reading O'Brian is slow going, but his prose ignited past pleasures of reading novels written elegantly, demanding close attention, sending me every few minutes to the dictionary, and developing intriguing, psychologically complex characters.

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