10 November, 2008

lunch when it's raining cats and dogs

You know, when you look out the window and the little subconscious hope you had of lunch out fades in the face of the deluge? I had really promised myself a bit of time in my local cafe, drinking a decaf latte and eating something I had not labored to produce myself. Alas, I just couldn't bear the thought. So after rummaging through the larder and the fridge, I came up with a frighteningly good salad, and with a little advance planning, you can easily have everything on hand, all the time. The only fresh ingredients are things you probably possess anyway: little tomatoes and sugar snap peas.

Everything Tuna Salad
(serves two easily, as in me, two days in a row)

190g jar of tuna fillets, the most pretentious and expensive you can get, packed in olive oil
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup lentils, rinsed and drained
handful sugar snap peas, sliced on the bias into bite-size pieces
handful little tomatoes, sliced in half
handful pitted olives, sliced in thirds
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp peperoncino olive oil
1 tbsp olive oil drained from the tuna (discard the rest)
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
2 hard-cooked eggs, quartered

Simply mix everything together but the juice and oils: shake those up in a jar, seasoned to your taste, and pour over the salad. Arrange one of the quartered eggs on a plate and place a nice mound of the salad beside it. It is satisfyingly pretty, and with a piece of Ryvita (or toast if you're feeling self-indulgent), it is quite the perfect lunch.


Alas, I DID have to go out. It was Wimsey's day for his sort of monthly shot of anti-crazy steroids, and he was definitely looking crazy so it was no time to be selfish. I wedged him into the carrier and set out with him over one shoulder and an unwieldy umbrella over the other, and felt distinctly sorry for myself. We were soaked by the time we reached the vet, which is that annoying distance away that is too short for a taxi (if such an apparition were to manifest itself in my neighborhood, which is unlikely), and slightly too long to walk in the downpour. I had settled him down on a chair beside me when the waiting room door opened and admitted a heaving, hurling, snarling canine thing that simply LEAPT at my poor cat, nearly knocking the carrier to the ground and completely terrifying the poor soul. "Georgia!" shouted the owner, grasping her by the collar and dragging her away. He was a picture: a huge, beefy, tatooed, toothless old soldier type, grunting and straining to control her. Georgia? For heaven's sake. With Georgia and her loving owner was a second man, a shriveled, tiny Japanese fellow smiling shyly and looking as if he wished he were wearing a bathing suit. I think they were a couple, and Georgia their loving offspring. For goodness' sake.

Wimsey put up with his shot and we came home. I felt quite, quite martyred. Now as a reward for my good behavior, after school I must shuttle Avery to the dentist to have two teeth extracted. I can tell you with absolute certainty that she has spent the entire day at school suffering in advance of this ordeal and I cannot say I blame her. Poor child. Do you think a person who's lost two teeth by professional intervention can eat lasagna for dinner? It's the only thing I could think of that was completely soft and yet with nutritional value. So in order to have it ready after the dentist and the compensatory trip to the swimming pool, I have undercheffed it and the dish reposes proudly in the fridge, ready to be slipped in the oven when we get home.

I've spent the day glued to my desk, absolutely determined to make something of my next book chapter: but it's hard going. I am beginning to think that when a chapter is sucking, and sucking badly, it's time to abandon it and move onto another topic. While belaboring and tinkering and persevering may work for writing a dissertation (actually I didn't belabor that one much either), it does not seem to work for more expressive, creative projects. The piece has to FEEL right, there has to be a sort of heart-pounding, "I'm loving writing this" feeling, a sparkle. I have felt it often enough to know when I'm not feeling it. So I'm going to walk away, try not to beat myself up too much, and come back to it later. You know it's bad when you'll do ANYTHING: fill out Christmas Fair raffle tickets, clean the litterbox, make a dish of lasagna: anything to avoid writing that *&^* chapter.

Right: I can delay it no longer. The dentist beckons. Wish me luck.

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