Archive for the ‘Totem Produce’ Category

You might need to become a member of the Artichoke Aficionados Club?

Or join a 12-Step Program: Artichokes Anonymous?

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There’s been a disturbing trend toward autosarcophagy here at Artichoke Heart Headquarters, what with the advent of artichoke season and all. Sometimes I like to steam up a couple in the vegetable steamer for a light dinner. I dip the leaves in Miracle Whip Lite, into which I mix in gourmet green curry spice. I love how the artichokes keep one busy for awhile with the pleasure of eating . . . it takes time to peel off each leaf, and scrape of the soft nutty rind of flesh with one’s teeth. I love how the flavor’s complicated and difficult to pin down: Is it nutty? Is it bitter? Is it sweet?

I re-upped my artichoke stash at the grocery store yesterday, and in typical small-town fashion, the contents of my grocery cart were fodder for scrutiny and commentary.

“What are these?” the cashier asks.

“Artichokes,” I reply.

“How do you eat them?”

I explain, but avoid getting all Antonia’s Line about it.

“That’s weird,” the cashier says. “That’s really, really weird.”

Yes, maybe weird . . . but delicious. All you have to do is to steer clear of the thorns, which are readily apparent. Because of their thorniness.

* * *

My father still does all of his writing on an Olivetti Studio manual typewriter. Sometimes I mock him for being a Luddite. Sometimes I have to order him typewriter ribbons from eBay. Amusingly, his typewriter is now considered somewhat of a collectible vintage antique.

I learned how to type (and write) on a manual typewriter. I admit, there is something highly satisfying about writing and having the sound of one’s writing bear a vague resemblance to artillery fire. It makes one feel busy, and as if one is producing something terribly noisy and important.

I periodically switch things up in terms of writing tools when I feel that I’m getting potentially complacent or lazy. Sometimes I worry that it’s almost too easy to word process. You can go in and change one word here, and one word there, and poke at it from what occasionally feels like maybe too much of a distance. When I draft by hand, it feels more connected/visceral. More deliberate. When I type, the process of revision really means to re-vision. Every single word has to be retyped, and therefore reconsidered and redeliberated. The same with every line break. Goldsmithery. Hammerplating.

With that in mind, please meet the most recent soon-to-be acquisition at Artichoke Heart’s House of Wayward Cats & Co. This is the Olivetti Valentine, designed by Ettore Sottsass in 1969. (I found it for a song! Well, okay, maybe not quite a song . . . more like a recitative and aria . . . but it usually goes for an entire opera). Not only is it a typewriter that nostalgically evokes my own literary roots — a back to the source kind of thing — but it is also a Design Icon!

Featured on page 245 of Landmarks of Twentieth-Century Design: An Illustrated Handbook, by Kathrynn Hiesinger & George Marcus, the description contained therein reads as follows: “Having used color and referential shapes to humanize the office equipment he had designed for Olivetti since 1957, Ettore Sottsass, Jr. further personalized it with the Valentine typewriter he designed with Perry A. King for use at home. Rejecting the cool efficient image of Olivetti’s earlier portable models, he conceived a typewriter that would visually suggest an alternate context and be appreciated less for its function than for its novel design–of orange-red molded plastic accented by two yellow buttons on the ribbon spools (“like the two eyes of a robot”). It was made, he said, “for use any place except in an office, so as not to remind anyone of monotonous working hours, but rather to keep amateur poets company on quiet Sundays in the country or to provide a highly colored object on a table in a studio apartment. An anti-machine machine, built around the commonest mass-produced mechanism, the works inside any typewriter, it may also seem to be an unpretentious toy.”

What could be better than that?

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Lately, I’ve been fickle about apples–every week declaring another variety my current favorite. A few weeks back it was the Cameo. Before that the Pink Lady. Last week it was Braeburns. And Galas, to me, taste like flower petals. Now, though, I’m in love with the Pacific Rose. They are honeyed and crisp and big and pinky-red and round and well . . . just so darn pretty.

And then there’s the fishnet bag full of Clementines. So bright and juicy, small and sweet. Their thin, sunripe skins making my hands fragrant.

* * *

Last week I read fiction at NSU in Abber Dabber, SD and visited with my dear friend P. at her charming new house. It was fun to read and talk about the music school stories, and gossip about my characters behind their backs. All in all, a great trip.

* * *

In the wake of the recent Shower Curtain Mauling by Crazed and Ferocious Beastlets, I was forced to go shower curtain shopping. I found the curtain depicted below (which is fabric, and hopefully therefore less gnawable) on clearance at Target, but it’s just not, well . . . doing it for me.

I confess, that I tend to have unreasonably high expectations from a shower curtain. I want it to coordinate with my towelage and my bath mattage. I need it to complement the claw foot bathtub, but I’d like for it to be modern at the same time. I want it to brighten up the room. I want it to be a little bit of a surprise. I want it to be aesthetically pleasing, but not take itself too seriously. (What’s worse than a pretentious shower curtain, yes?) I want a touch of whimsy, but I don’t want the shower curtain to be goofy, because the shower curtain’s visible from most of the rooms in the apartment. So it also needs to function organically within the apartment-at-large. And, as if this order weren’t already tall enough, the shower curtain apparently now needs to be gnaw-resistant.

So here are the current candidates under consideration. I’m leaning toward Option #1 (Geisha kitsch! On the shower curtain!) vs. Option #2 (Entomologically correct butterflies! On the shower curtain!), but perhaps you, oh blogosphere, would like to cast your vote in the Who Wants to be Artichoke Heart’s House of Wayward Cats’ Next Shower Curtain Primaries?

Option #1:

Option #2:

* * *

Look closely. Here is the vet-assistant-with-no-pants toy that Yuki likes to prop up against the futon pillows in the middle of the night for me to find in the morning. Because she’s funny that way.

Yuki has named the vet-assistant-with-no-pants toy shortmark. Because she’s just funny that way, too.

* * *

Also? I’m considering moving my headquarters over to WordPress.

That is all.

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I’m rushing around today because I’m a No-Goodnik and a Procrastinator. (Is it me, or does the word procrastination always sound just a little bit naughty, like some sort of specialty fetish?) But a few quick snippets:

First of all, I would like to confess that I’m obsessed with artichokes. So much so, that one of my secret desires it to someday attend the Castroville Artichoke Festival. The Agro-Art involving artichokes, in particular, would be worth the trip.

You should also probably know that I occasionally like to visit the Artichoke Advisory Board webpage. Is it wrong that I sometimes fantasize about being made an honorary member of the Artichoke Advisory Board? I particularly like to check in on the Artichoke News link. I mean, how can one resist a headline such as: “California Artichokes Basking in Cool Summer Days for a Season of Great Summer and Fall Fun”? It’s fucking hypnotic . . . I’m telling you.

And finally (I love this): the heartichoke.

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Behold the glory of the irrationally- and hugely-coveted Albino Pumpkin! It’s albino-ness, in tandem with its pumpkin-ness, have left me beside myself with happiness. When I snagged it out of the parking-lot pumpkin display at the Hy-Vee this week, I wandered through the aisles in a blissful haze (which, okay, may have been partially exacerbated by general lack of sleep and aggressive over-caffeination), and I wanted to hold up my Albino Pumpkin and show it off to passers-by: See? Look at my Albino Pumpkin. Isn’t it marvelous? But I didn’t. Because that would have been dorky.

So I’ll just post pictures of my Albino Pumpkin for everyone to admire on the internet, instead. (Which, realistically, may even escalate the Dorkage Factor, I realize, but you know what? Too fucking bad!)

Thoughtful readers have kindly taken the time to notice that The Bean Bean has plumped up rather nicely from the tiny, sickly smidge of an abandoned kitten that he was upon his arrival at the Artichoke Heart House. He was so tiny and wispy and frail that I nicknamed him The Beansprout, which later became The Bean Bean. Of course, now that he’s filling out so nicely, perhaps he’s turning into a veritable Garbanzo Bean?

I know, I know . . . I’ve been Cat and Pumpkin Blogging for three straight entries now. What can I say? The semester’s been kicking me in the ass a little bit these past few weeks. Which seems to cause, well . . . obsessive Cat and Pumpkin Blogging.

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Having since learned that the Albino Pumpkins referenced below are also tasty, I was bound and determined to Get Me Some of That the next time I stopped by the grocery store. Sadly, though, all the Albino Pumpkins were gone today! Needless to say, I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed. Even a little bit depressed, to tell the truth.

As I write this, Yuki and The Bean Bean are leisurely circling around the apartment, idly playing with rubber super balls. This is how they play: they carry around the balls in their mouths and wander around with these disconcertingly large balls in their jaws. Periodically, they drop the balls on the floor, so that they bounce, and their heads bobble up and down as they track the waning bounce of the ball. When the balls are through bouncing, they pick them back up in their mouths and wander around some more. There is something oddly hypnotic about the sound of rubber bouncing against the hardwood floors.

All throughout the day today there were ladybugs thumbtacked to the ceilings and studding the window panes. I find their carcasses limning the sills and floorboards of the apartment, floating in the kitchen drain. They have a sharp, fresh scent–like grass clippings, only with the hint of something more bitter. I wonder where they all go at night?

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