14 August, 2009

one down, two to go

It's true: one of our foster kittens has been adopted. The shelter in Danbury called us up and said they had potential clients for "two black kittens," so we packed up all three (several sweaty forays under beds, backs of hands scratched) in the carrier and headed off. I found it quite stressful, trying to sell kittens! Avery was a total star, enumerating their good qualities, trying to pretend they weren't hiding under cages and sofas, calming each one down so they could be held by the would-be new families. An hour later, Amelia had been chosen by a lovely couple who in a slightly Too Much Information moment confided their infertility problems and every other intimate detail of their lives. "My first wife left me," the fellow confided, rocking on his heels, "and she said we'd have to split up the cats, she'd take one, I'd keep one. Oh, NO, I said, you want to leave, you leave. But the cats stay. Then they died. So now my new wife [head gesture to very demure lady standing next to him, hands folded] is having female problems, and I said, with everything that's going on with maybe a baby, it's no time for a kitten. But then the baby didn't work out. So I said, OK, let's get a kitten. And now he's driving us crazy, just as we get home from work all tired out, he's ready to play. ALL NIGHT. So he needs a friend." Oh, sad. But sweet. So away went Amelia in their very posh carrier. And Dorrit and Nemo came back home with us. We can only hope we'll find homes for them before we have to head back to London.

We're in desperate denial that our time here is dwindling. Avery's reading straight through the Southbury library, I'm reading through my shelves here, and let me just share with you what's got John's literary hearbeat pounding: "Derivatives and Equity Portfolio Management." I swear I am not making that up. And you know the best part? He says it's a SEQUEL to a book he read in London. A SEQUEL.

Avery has made the most amazing discovery: Willow Creek Farms, a nearby equestrian concern with quite a magical horse and trainer in The Red Baron, and Amie. It's the familiar stable world filled with shy girls leading ponies, forking hay, setting up jumps. The Red Baron is enormous! The jumps even more so! I try to be calm as she races around the stable in a complicated series of overcoming obstacles. She will not get hurt! I'm sure of it. And Amie seems to love her, which is mutual, so everyone's happy. The setting is idyllic: typical rolling Connecticut hills, blue blue skies, all harmony and peace.

I have a philosophical question for you: do you ever successfully really enjoy things, or do you just do them frantically to save them to enjoy later when life calms down? Like the philosopher (I forget who) who says that happiness isn't something we experience, it's something we remember. I do feel I spend each summer packing the hours full of people and things and food and events that serve more than anything else as memories, not the actual experience. Maybe it's inevitable, when we are here for such a short time.

Even more significant than these musings is the following: I admit it: I really miss English sausage. There. I've said it.

So the days are winding themselves down, kittens find a place to sleep in the least comfortable spot in the entire house: on a windowsill perched above my staircase. Both kittens sleep there now at night, since Avery has reluctantly closed her door to them, finding it impossible to sleep with them biting her nose, burying their faces in her ears, tucking themselves under the covers to find her alpaca teddy bear to snuggle with. For some reason they don't try it on with John and me. Nemo made an appearance this afternoon to sit on the trampoline while Kate bounced and tried on my shoes (I am not exaggerating, she is simply obsessed with shoes), and he was completely adorable, limp and sweaty in the late afternoon sun, folding his paws, showing off the white chin that's so symmetrically and perfectly placed under his mouth!

I look around my house and see burned-out lightbulbs that I can't reach, spider webs ditto, a place in the shower that should be bleached, dried out and caulked, and I think: next summer? I'd rather relax and gaze at the pink and green rose-patterned vintage lampshade on my bedside table (a rickety affair of four chipped legs with a vanilla-colored painted top), looking across the room at the brass-handled four-drawer wooden affair with scattered faded flowers painted across it, and the three-drawer Indiana piece from my graduate student shopping trip in Vincennes, Indiana... if I squint generously all I see are the memories these objects evoke, and not the dust bunnies that blow forth when a kitten crawls under them and disturbs the years of fluff.

Excitement is building for my mother's birthday party on Sunday: odd packages are being wrapped, and for obvious reasons I cannot tell you what is in them, but the funny assortment of things represent who she is! I cannot wait to see them tomorrow when they arrive sometime in the mid afternoon. Avery and I will spend the day baking desserts for her party, and my dad will pull up in the driveway with a car filled with his precious tomatoes for Jill (perhaps she'll share), with stories of their two-day cross-country journey. Jill and her family will arrive for dinner, with Jane no doubt bouncing off the walls with excitement, Molly gazing at all the hilarity with her usual brow-furrowed concentration.

I'll leave you with a spectacular and spectacularly simple lobster recipe. You can afford it this summer, with lobster prices the lowest in more than 20 years (but spare a thought for the poor lobstermen). It's summer on a plate.

Grilled Lobster with Pesto Butter
(serves 4, one lobster per person)

4 lobsters, 1 1/2 pounds each
1/2 cup pesto
1/2 cup butter, melted

Drop lobsters headfirst into a pot with 2 inches of boiling water. Clap lid on pot and steam the lobsters for 12 minutes. Cool lobsters until they can be handled, then cut them in half lengthwise and remove claws. Liberate meat from claws and set aside.

Mix the pesto and melted butter. Brush each lobster half, flesh side, with the pesto mixture and grill over a high heat for 4 minutes. Serve with fresh pesto mixture brushed on, and with claw meat on the side.


This dish is rich, buttery, massively flavorful and redolent of August. You'll love it. And if you come for dinner, I'll throw in a kitten. Or two.


Foxi Rosie said...

God knows, I tasted this food... thank you Kristen for a weight watchers recipe in virtual space... Yum, yum and not a calorie past my lips...

Poor kittens, impending orphandom... bring them to England... a lap and an overhead view of a cats 'you know what' through a plate glass window... priceless... Lets hook up soon honey when you're home and settled back into a routine.

A girly shop and a meal and a drink or two.... I hope MOM is pleased with her gifts, no doubt she'll think the biggest one is having you and family around. However, brief the encounter in the sense of the lifespan of the universe and life, trust me it will be the biggest gift.

Kristen In London said...

Oh, how funny you are! The lobster claws still repose in my fridge, and I'm contemplating adding them to my potato salad tomorrow for my mother's birthday party.

How right you are that the perfect gift is our being together. So true... love to Jo, even though I don't know her yet! And to you, we'll certainly get together very soon upon my return, my friend.

Nell said...
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