17 June, 2010

The Crucible (of June)

Stop the presses: SUNBURN! Not a lot, I rush in to say, but today we got... sunburned. I'm old-fashioned enough to say I put on "suntan lotion," when my PC side knows I really mean "sunblock" or "sunscreen." But hey, 30 years ago I was slathering myself with baby oil and lying on a bed of aluminum foil, so I think I'm due a little leeway.

It's that time of year again, when I look at the calendar and think, "Really?" Did I really book tickets for three more plays, RSVP for Avery for three more parties, encourage her to throw one of her own, and schedule two more sales for Lost Property, not to mention out of town guests, doctor and dentist appointments and the vet, all in the three weeks left before we go to the States?

Drinks parties, dinner parties, really?

The girls deserve it after the hellish week they put in last week, 12 exams in five days! I'm relieved to have it over, and I never even cracked a book! The whole ordeal was brought home to me most visually when Avery held out a pen. "Do you see how there is no ink in this pen?" she asked rhetorically. "This pen was NEW at the beginning of last week!"

This week, we've been out and about playing tennis (I will not succumb to tennis elbow, will NOT, I'm sure it feels better if I play than if I don't), and seeing a new bit of the Victoria and Albert installation, of architects using the museum itself to explore architecture's experiments and limitations. "The Ark," by Norwegian architect Rintala Eggertsson (would you have guessed that was a man? I wouldn't) completely charmed us: a two-story two-by-gour construction, tethered to the staircase by thin metal cables, and sheathed entirely in... paperback books! A giant bookshelf, going round and round, admitting only four people at a time because it... moves. From side to side, just slightly, but enough to remind you of your own mortality. In between contemplations of that, you can sit on the sheepskin covered seat on floor two, and browse. Really, they invite you to browse! Go, do.

And then onto "The Crucible." At Regent's Park Open-Air Theatre, one of my most favorite places in the world, where we have seen "The Importance of Being Earnest," "Much Ado About Nothing," always in these waning days of the school year before we decamp for our American summer. This year it was "The Crucible." McCarthyism! Shades of today's hysterical shoutings about Obama, healthcare and Communism! Everything that changes, simply stays the same. The sun beat down, Avery's class occupied the upper regions of the theatre as we cooked in the "better seats", and we reveled in the American play playing itself out in the English atmosphere. I wondered how the religious fervor would play out in America... there was some nervous tittering as the predominantly-schoolkids audience came to terms with Miller's deadly earnest treatment. "No religion that demands your blood deserves your faith..."

And how difficult it is for me to withhold the secrets of my culinary excitement of last weekend! Filming! Studios! Cars and drivers! But my lips are sealed. Until mid-August, when I can reveal all... Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I await the big reveal of my new blog design. There have been delays, as there always are with big projects, but I am hopeful of massive excitement in a week or so. To deal with this, I had better offer:

Cucumber and Yogurt Salad with Chillis and Lemongrass
(serves 4)

1 large cucumber, outer sides sliced off and seeds left behind, cut into slender sticks
1 red onion, diced
1 medium-hot red chilli pepper, minced
1 stalk lemongrass, peeled of outer layer, minced
zest of 1 lemon
lots of fresh-ground pepper
1/3 cup fat-free yogurt, mixed with juice of 1 lemon
Maldon salt to taste

Mix everything but yogurt and lemon juice, then toss with those. Salt to taste.


This salad is beautiful and fresh on its own, but also surprisingly lovely with a rather heavy main course, as we had this week: beef ribs in a tomato sauce. The two bounce off each other: rich and light, dark and springlike.

I wish you luck in achieving all that June has left for you, as we dance through the excitement left for us... then HOME!

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