Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Best Defense Against Vampires...

…garlic. Gotta go for the garlic. Today was a garlic-sort-of-cooking day. Yesterday my Sweetie and I bought and planted a couple of trees, which here at the Bunker involves digging great big rocks out a a soil/gravel/powdered granite mix that resembles concrete. Think pick axe and 6-foot rolled steel rod, used to dislodge or shatter rocks. Then we had to armor the trees against the deer, who carry shovels and bolt nippers. Really. I pray God the deer don't discover sawzalls.

So today we were all creaky and poppy this AM. Because it was such a spectacular day, though, we took Newt on a long hike on some trails that are less traveled. Apparently not less enough traveled, since I got a parking ticket. Can't say I have a lot of respect for park rangers —revenue collectors — anyway, so nothing lost. Clown show. Anyway, since I haven't unpacked my summer clothes and have only one pair of shorts, which has one of those sewn-in belts instead of just loops, I sucked it up and carried a Ruger LCR .38 and a speed loader of Corbon. I'm thinking I'm definitely going to shift to the LCR 9mm, which is a wee bit heavier than the LCR .38, but I don't have enough rounds through it to bring it into service yet.

I decided to do shrimp scampi for dinner. I have a great scampi recipe, but for last Thanksgiving we did a dish from The Stinking Rose, one of my favorite restaurants in San Fran...bagna calda, garlic slow-roasted in olive oil and a bit of butter, plus a bunch of anchovies. So I made bagna calda, transferred it to a skillet on the stovetop, and added shrimp, a little fresh lemon juice, fresh parsley, red peppers flakes (I always stock up when I'm in Santa Fe), a bit of Dead Sea salt infused with lemon (got it while I was there), and served it over rice.

Yeah, baby! We are 'way safe from vampires for another few days!!!

I made strawberry daiquiris for desert…which of the Undead do strawberries repel? Minor demons? Jersey Devils? Spring-Helled Jacks? The strawberries were fresh and sweet, but in truth I don't have as strong a handle on rum as I do with tequila and gin. Mixology is hard. I tend to default to Mount Gay Barbados rum, "Kill-Devil," which is sort of the Caribbean equivalent of lighter fluid. It has a soft spot in my heart from a stay in Barbados after my budding, albeit nitwit, career as a (small) war correspondent during the invasion of Grenada. Well, that's another story. Suffice to say that I had I realized how the country would go over the next 30 years I would have never turned over the stack of blank valid passports from various countries, needing only a name and a picture, I discovered to Army Intelligence. These days, you never know when you're going to need a different "you!"

The world was all tied together in some mysterious tangle of invisible web, single strands that reach impossible distances, glimpsed but rarely when the light caught them just right.

"The Green Ripper"
John D. MacDonald, 1980

I've been reading vintage John D. MacDonald lately. One of our commenters noted how JDM's 1980 Travis McGee novel THE GREEN RIPPER, which won the National Book Award, was amazingly prescient on the future of terrorism. I haven't read THE GREEN RIPPER since it came out, but I remembered it was the follow-up to THE EMPTY COPPER SEA, JDM's breakout novel in 1978. So I got THE EMPTY COPPER SEA to read first, then THE GREEN RIPPER.

I had forgotten that THE EMPTY COPPER SEA, despite it's upbeat ending, was one of the most depressing novels I've ever read. Travis McGee, MacDonald's "salvage consultant/beach bum" character, was burned out, reflecting on a life that no longer seemed worth it. Aside from the brilliant writing and, even today, the cutting edge observations on the human condition, Travis McGee exuded an air of weary exhaustion. Of course, in the way of JDM novels, he found the girl of his dreams, Gretel Howard, who dies under mysterious circumstances in the next book, THE GREEN RIPPER.

And oh yes, there will be blood.

THE EMPTY COPPER SEA was a formative novel for me because I was living in Florida and, like Mr. McGee I was taking my "retirement" a little bit at a time, in advance. I'd get a big writing gig, make a good fee, and head to the beach. I occasionally taught windsurfing, had a killer tan and ran a lot.

But the world is indeed all tied together in a mysterious tangle of invisible web, single strands that reach impossible distances, glimpsed but rarely when the light caught them just right. Fair to say I understand THE EMPTY COPPER SEA better now than when I read ti the first time. And THE GREEN RIPPER is amazing…when I read it the first time, I thought JDM was a little bit nuts. Boy, was I wrong!


fast richard said...

Looks like I have a couple of books to add to the stack.

Jordan said...

Great post here! Glad you're defended against the vampires (LOL). I've never read The Empty Copper Sea, so I'll have to try it out. It sounds like quite a read.

Unknown said...

If you really want a treat the state just north of you can help,Filaree Garlic Farm.They sell gourmet garlic seeds you can plant yourself ( garlic will grow in darn near any ground ).Store bought garlic can not even begin to compete with it.

Unknown said...

I used to love JDM's books, think I read them all. I was going through boxes in the garage this weekend, and pulled some old books out to put in a new bookcase. The Empty copper Sea, The Dreadful Lemon Sky, Free Fall in Crimson, The Green Ripper, and A Tan and Sandy Silence. All MacDonald's books. Is this karma or what.

Unknown said...

Gilroy, CA. The garlic capital of the world, you will never have to worry about Vamps. I was transferred there in 1980 while working for GTE and I could smell the garlic for miles before reaching town. They have an annual garlic festival where you can taste everything imaginable made from garlic. The thirty-seventh annual festival is July 25-25.

Unknown said...

Also dug out The lonely Silver Rain, and Free Fall in Crimson! Two more MacDonald books! I think I will start to reread these. I enjoyed them back in the 70's.
Gilroy Garlic festival is a great weekend for all that have not been. Early Sunday morning head south to Moss landing on the coast, for one of the largest flee markets.
They close off a street for 24 hrs. about a mile long, both sides nothing but vendors. All family, nothing commercial.....

Michael Bane said...

I have indeed been to Gilroy to kneel at the foot of the Garlic King!!! Or something like that. I bought abut a ton of garlic there. Garlic is a wonder thing, and I may try to grow some. We're getting ready to build grow boxes here at the Bunker.

I too have FREE FALL IN CRIMSON and THE LONELY SILVER RAIN, so I can ripple into real spring (snow again on Thursday).

Poached some salmon tonight with garlic caper butter…yeah, that sucked!!!!


Will said...

One must be careful about reading too many Travis McGee stories in a short time frame. Too depressing. Made that mistake back about '75, when I spent a few months vacation in Ft Lauderdale.

I was there long enough to get a library card, and read all they had. After three of them, I had to take a break. (Reading was all I could really do, as I had a bunch of stitches in my scalp, and couldn't get wet.)

I'd ride my Norton down to the marina (not sure slip #F18 actually existed) and read one a day. Loved that book series, and kept waiting for the final book to be published, after Silver Rain. Turned out to not be one in the works after JDM died. Major bummer.