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Archive for March 20th, 2014

Books, Documentaries, Reviews: Renata Adler’s PITCH DARK

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Books, Documentaries, Reviews:  March 20, 2014

Renata Adler’s PITCH DARK

I’m reading a very different kind of a book:



I heard about it recommended on one of those NPR programs just before Christmas–the best of the best books of the year.

Only, this book was published in 1983.  Adler was a staff writer for The New Yorker for 40 years or so–and comes with an impressive list of credentials (Bryn Mawr, Harvard, the Sorbonne, Law degree from Yale and an honorary doctoral law degree from Georgetown) and of fiction and nonfiction books.  The recommender said he had recently reread Pitch Dark and thought it a classic in some way.

The book is very modern, very spare–and is written in a kind of stream of consciousness where it takes the reader a few pages to figure out what’s going on–a love affair with a married man.

At first the text is distancing, even off-putting.  But then one runs across a nugget of observation that just pulls one right in.  Many observations concern the nature of the thing we call “love”–and the observations are not confined to the failing relationship at all or even to people–though the ones I’ll cite below are about the relationship:

He knew that she had left him when she began to smoke again….Years ago, he had smoked, but not when they met.  So she stopped, as people do when they are in love  Take up cigarettes, or give them up, or change brands.  As people do to be at one at least in this.  Long after that, she began to smoke again (8).


You can rely too much, my love, on the unspoken things.  And the wry smile.  I have that smile myself, and I’ve learned the silence, too, over the years.  Along with the expressions, like No notion and Of necessity.  What happens though, when it is all unsaid, is that you wake up one morning, no, it’s more like late one afternoon, and it’s not just unsaid, it’s gone.  That’s all.  Just gone.  I remember this word, that look, that small inflection, after all this time.  I used to hold them, trust them, read them like a rune.  Like a sign that there was a house, a billet, a civilization where we were.  I look back and I think I was just there all alone.  Collecting wisps and signs.  Like a spinster who did know a young man once and who imagines ever since that she lost a fiancé in the war  Or an old fellow who, having spent months long ago in uniform at some dreary outpost no where near any country where there was a front, remembers buddies he never had, dying beside him in battles he was never in (9).


Sometimes he loved her, sometimes he was just amused and touched by the degree to which she loved him.  Sometimes he was bored by her love and felt it as a burden.  Sometimes his sense of himself was enhanced, sometimes diminished by it.  But he had come to take the extent of her love as given, and, as such, he lost interest in it.  She may have given him this certainty too early, and not just out of genuine attachment.  One falls out of gradations of love and despair after all, every few days, or months, or minutes.  With courtesy, then, and also for the sake, for the sake of the long rhythms, she kept the façade in place and steady, unaffected by every nuance of caring and not caring.  He distrusted her sometimes, but on the wrong grounds.  He thought of her as light with the truth, and lawless.  And she, who was not in other ways dishonest, who was in fact honorable in his ways and in others, was perhaps dishonest in this:  that not to risk losing him, or for whatever other reason, she concealed, no, she did not insist that he see, certain important facets of her nature.  She pretended, though with her particular form of nervous energy she was not always able to pretend this, that she was more content than she was, that her love for him was more constant than, within the limits that he set, it could be (12).


I’ll let you know the outcome of the read…


Written by louisaenright

March 20, 2014 at 3:37 pm

Turkey Tracks: The Best Cup of Coffee Ever!

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Turkey Tracks:  March 20, 2014

The Best Cup of Coffee Ever!


I don’t drink coffee in the morning.  I’m mostly a tea drinker.

But, I love a good cup of coffee after lunch or dinner–as a special treat.  And, bad as they are for you–bad, dead milk and too much sugar–I am almost always tempted by lattes.  Vanilla lattes.  Mocha lattes with real whipped cream.  Fortunately, actually getting one happens only when I travel or off and on in the winter.

So, when I was recently in Virginia, my niece Meg Challand, made me a cup of after-dinner coffee using a cone-shaped porcelain drip affair with a filter inside.

Oh my!  It was the best cup of coffee I’ve every had in my life.  Smooth and sweet–with no bitter taste at all.

So, guess what sister Susan sent me yesterday for my birthday???



I have just enjoyed the BEST cup of coffee since the one Meg made me.

And mine has local, raw unheated honey and local, thick, gorgeous raw cream from Jersey cows–which is full of good fat and lots of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, K) crucial for health.

I am spoiled beyond belief!

PS:  You do NOT want one of the cheap plastic drippers as plastic off-gases chemicals.  And there is something called a “pour over” stand that allows you to see how much coffee has dripped into your cup.  Online, the ones I found are incomprehensibly expensive given that they are just a few pieces of wood or a pre-formed plastic.  So, I’ll look locally in our kitchen stores for something.  Or ask a local carpenter to make me one…

Written by louisaenright

March 20, 2014 at 2:57 pm

Books, Documentaries, Reviews: Toxic Hot Seat Movie

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Books, Documentaries, Reviews:  March 20, 2014



The documentary Toxic Hot Seat is going to be shown FREE at the Strand Theater in Rockland, Maine, on Sunday, March 30th, at 2 p.m.

Maine’s own Hannah Pingree, former state congresswoman and now a young mother, is featured in the documentary.  Hannah Pingree has been instrumental in getting the information in the documentary to the public–which has been largely unaware of how the chemical industry has used fire safety as an excuse to douse so many of our products (furniture, rugs, clothing, etc.) with highly flammable and poisonous chemicals.

Ms. Pingree was raised and lives on a pristine coastal Maine sland.  When she participated in a “body burden” analysis about ten years ago, she was shocked to discover how many chemicals were present in her body.  One of the participants of this study, MOFGA’s beloved Russell Libbey, died last year of cancer, many years before he should have died.  (MOFGA is the Maine Organic Farmers’ and Growers’ Association, and it hosts a yearly fair, the Common Ground Fair, each year in late September.)

I hope that many of you will be able to see this documentary in your own communities and will stop buying products saturated with these chemicals–if you can find them.

Take a look at the trailer and read the information:  Toxic Hot Seat Movie.

Know, too, that this situation is another of what I am now calling a “kool aid” circuit–based on the notion that a group of people followed a charismatic leader into the jungle and willingly drank the poison he gave them.  This fire retardant issue is such a circuit since an entity (in this case the chemical industry) knowingly manufactured, publicized, and used bad information in order to sell a product for you to use.  Often, and it’s true in this case, “safety” is the mechanism being used to promote lethal practices that harm people and that have NO reputable science behind them.  So, yes, there is a conspiracy here.  Here’s a quote from the web site about this documentary:

Set against the backdrop of the award-winning 2012 Chicago Tribune investigative series “Playing With Fire,” TOXIC HOT SEAT threads together an intricate story of manipulation that details how Big Tobacco skillfully convinced fire safety officials to back a standard that, in effect, requires all furniture to be filled with toxic flame retardants. The film continues to untangle how the chemical companies obscure the risks to public health and misrepresent chemical safety data by paying “experts” to alarm legislators and the public about the deadly risk of removing chemical flame retardants from our homes.

AGAIN, know that you CANNOT depend upon the government regulatory agencies to protect you from what industry is doing in this country.

You have got to investigate and act for yourself–and that is where I am trying to help all of us understand where real science exists and where the notion of it is being misused.

Written by louisaenright

March 20, 2014 at 2:43 pm