1. Over about 12-13 years time I developed the course I used to teach on occasion at LCC entitled (something like) The Literature of Comedy into a study of what in life gives us vitality, what invigorates us, what animates us. Because comedies, when viewed in a literary sense, tell stories and capture the experiences of renewal, forgiveness, compassion, comfort, togetherness, goodness, and other constructive elements of human experience, I hope my students came to learn that these aspects of life are sources of vitality and invigoration.
So, a while back, when the friends I Zoom with on alternate Sundays asked me if I'd consider being their teacher again (and for the first time for Diane) and give an informal course, I agreed and today we started a low key exploration of the literary genre of comedy.
We focused quite a bit on the idea of comic rhythm, that is, the recurring patterns of goodness, delight, gratitude, and care for others we see in works of comedy. To illustrate the idea of comic rhythm, I read Billy Collins' poem, "Lanyard" in which Collins goes back to boyhood and transforms a kind of crappy summer camp project, the making of a lanyard, into a means of understanding his mother's love and devotion to him and expressing gratitude for all she's given him, epitomized by her receiving the gift of the lanyard as a way of making them even, of completing a circle of love.
We discussed a lot of other things, too: Shakespeare, movies we've seen that portray characters experiencing new life and delighting in love and service to others, some of our own experiences, and, I think, examined our own inclinations or urges, how our lives move us and we move our lives toward being constructive, but also destructive and divisive (the anti-comic).
I look forward to continuing this project for however long we all want to do it. I suspect I'll be willing to go on for a long long time!
I thought our discussion of these elements of comedy prepared the way for a later discussion we had about grief, especially in light of Bridgit's father having just died.
2. When we were done with our Zoom session, I dashed immediately to the kitchen to prepare my contributions to tonight's family dinner. To start, I had read a recipe for ham and potato hash. I didn't follow it, but it gave me some ideas for how I'd like to combine chopped yams, russet potatoes, zucchini, mushrooms, red peppers, and bacon. I knew this dish didn't need gravy, but I thought it would be fun to make a bacon and mushroom gravy and so I did.
Carol also assigned me to make a fruit salad. Again, I looked at a recipe for a yogurt and honey dressing. I thought the recipe overdid the honey, so I used less, but I liked the idea of putting the yogurt and honey in the bottom of the bowl and of adding the fruit pieces on top of it and mixing it all together. Again, for the heck of it and because I thought it might be fun and taste good, I added Cointreau and cognac to the yogurt and honey and then added pieces of apple and tangelo with blueberries and red grapes and mixed it all together. I love eating blue cheese with apples and other fruits. I remembered I had a small amount of blue cheese and I put crumbles over the salad along with slivered almonds.
I really liked this salad. I loved how the pungency of the blue cheese offset the natural sweetness of the fruits and that the smaller amount of honey allowed us to taste more of the yogurt's sourness. I also liked how the crunchy almond slivers complemented the softness of the tangelo slices, blueberries, grapes, and yogurt.
3. I arrived at Carol and Paul's for family dinner and discovered Christy had prepared each of us a Gin Bloody Mary, prepared with Clamato juice, loaded with olives, dill pickle, lime, and asparagus spear. And that's not all! Carol prepared us each a shrimp cocktail featuring four plump, sweet, and juicy shrimp with Marie's cocktail sauce.
Having enjoyed our cocktail, we all staggered to the table.
Carol was in charge of our dinner and her idea was to enjoy a late afternoon brunch. (I'll spare you all my dumb jokes about us not having mimosas.)
Carol prepared a perfect three cheese quiche, including a homemade, light, flaky, buttery crust. She made the quiche with eggs and cheddar, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese with some added herbs, including chives fresh from her garden.
I described my potato dish and gravy and fruit salad above.
Christy prepared a childhood favorite: a Bisquick coffee cake. I loved its buttery, brown sugar-y, cinnamon-y flavors and had nearly forgotten what a miracle product Bisquick is!
After about a half an hour of groans of pleasure and words of gratitude to one another, we retired back to the living room for a small mug of decaf coffee spiked with bourbon cream.
I'm afraid I hogged up too much of our dinner and after dinner talk asking Christy and Carol to explain who or what they were talking about! Often their knowledge of people and places in the Silver Valley leaves me in the dust -- so all I have to say is "Dust!" and they stop and try to bring me up to speed about the people or places they are telling stories about.
It's my own fault. I don't sit on any local boards, don't get my hair cut uptown, don't tend to see many people I know at Yoke's -- in fact, I spend a lot of time at home! But, slowly, surely Christy and Carol tell me about the houses they are talking about or the people they know and I can quit coughing as the dust clears a bit!