Saturday, February 21, 2009

More is More and is Enough Really Enough?

Although this was a short week for me because of last Monday being Presidents Day, I think I was suffering from a bit of cabin fever due to the amount of work both Saul and I had to finish, the fact that it took me a couple of days to finally get rid of the heavy feeling in my chest from my allergic reaction, the fact that I won’t be seeing my granddaughters for a few weeks, and that I suddenly realized that Saul and Ari will be leaving for Israel next Friday. The only time I ventured out the door during this week was to run over to Costco to pick up supplies for the next couple of weeks while I am further shut in taking care of Mom.

My computer is both a curse and a blessing. I love my work doing desktop publishing, but it keeps me sedentary and terribly frustrated on occasion. On the other hand, my computer allows me to vicariously participate in the pleasures of others’ travels and lifestyles in ways that were never before possible. During this week, some of the cousins that Saul and Ari will be visiting in Israel were traveling in Thailand and sent us their photos, 172 of them, which are brilliantly colorful and fascinating. Tonight, before sitting down to write this, I viewed them again. That reminded me that I had never really found the time to view all of our friend, Larry’s, photos from his trip to Southeast Asia. He has been neatly depositing his specially-prepared photo DVD’s and CD’s from his travels on my desk for several months now. I really enjoyed spending an hour taking an armchair tour and comparing the two sets of photos. On Facebook, I wrote a list of 25 random things about me and #16 was that I have not been able to give up my dream of taking a bicycle trip across the south of France. Knowing this, Saul sent me a link during the week to a Smithsonian trip that is a bicycle trip through the Burgundy region—more delicious, vicarious travel. I will definitely cling tighter than ever to my dreams of visiting all these places, and my computer allows me to feel more connected to the outside world and my family and friends. Ari will be taking his laptop on his journeys in Israel and, hopefully, I will be able to speak to him and Saul as we are able to view each other through the magic of Skype.

Last night, after dinner with Larry and Beth, and Beth’s new friend, Bob, we were discussing the features of Ari’s new car. Ari hadn’t really wanted to drive out with a new car that day we were test driving, so he kept saying to the dealer that when they had a car with all the features he wanted in stock, he would return. They kept finding cars that had all the features he could name. Finally, we learned that one of the features they offer is a panoramic roof. Practically the entire roof is glass with electrically-operated screens that open and close at the touch of a button. Ari wasn’t really wowed about the feature, but I was. While we drive around DC, I am usually sitting in the back seat craning my neck to try to see the tops of the buildings we pass. I love architecture and the Belle Epoch style of DC buildings provides endless varieties of visual stimulation. At the time I was studying art and architecture in college in the late 1960’s, the less-is-more, Bauhaus-style architecture was very much in vogue, and old ornate buildings were being torn down and replaced, left and right, by modernistic concrete and glass monoliths. Although that happens today in every modern city, it seems as though DC has made a special effort to preserve and restore its beautiful ornate old buildings. Tonight, looking at the extremely ornate architecture of southeast Asia, I was struck by the contrast to western-style architecture. The Asian spirit embraces decoration in ways that seem over-the-top to western tastes. As much as I could appreciate the movement toward pure functionality of design, though, I find that my eyes want to feast on that which is more complex. Tonight, foodie that I am, I was saying to Saul that ornate Asian architecture is like feasting on an elaborate banquet. After a while, the tastebuds become over-sated and require a palate-cleanser, an amuse-bouche, before one can continue to enjoy the complicated flavors. Modernistic buildings are visually the equivalent of a palate cleanser. They are delicious in their own way, a necessary component and counterpoint to a visual palate that can be over-stimulated and therefore, cease to bring pleasure. Just as I would not want to live on a constant diet of rich and complicated food, neither would I want to live on palate-cleansers. The contrast is what makes life enjoyable. For me, where architecture is concerned, more is more, and variety is the spice of life.

Shabbat dinner this week was homemade challah, more chestnut soup, caesar salad, cod lamaize, mashed potatoes with three lillies (sweet onions, red onions and elephant garlic), and steamed buttery asparagus. I had a lot of leftovers in the refrigerator and freezer which I needed to use up, so I made a trifle. Trifle is a magical dessert that binds failures and leftovers into something new and beautiful. The following items went into the trifle: the last of Izzy’s leftover birthday cake, sliced thinly into three layers of the trifle; a half-jar of morello cherries and their juice that had been leftover for a few weeks; a pint of pistachio ice cream that Ken had brought for Mom that was an awful turquoise-y color and had no pistachios in it from Maggie Moo’s; a pint of delicious home-canned peach chunks that was a gift from our friend, Laurel, last weekend; layers of home-made vanilla custard sauce, the essence of a trifle; a half jar of Trader Joe’s blueberries in syrup; some beautiful fresh strawberries; and whipped cream. Larry complained that there was no chocolate, so I also served some leftover Asher’s chocolate-covered pretzels that were a gift from our friends, Betty and Jerry as well, all downed with French-press coffee.

Maybe for some, less is more, especially if it causes you to lose a few pounds. For me, visually and food-wise, more is more, and if enough was really enough, what would be left of the creative urge?


Anonymous said...

OMG! It's uncle Jack's green trifle!!!! In technicolor!

Marilyn said...

Dad said exactly the same thing as soon as we assembled it. For the rest of you in the family who knew Uncle Jack, he used to rave to us while he was staying with us recovering from surgery, about a friend's trifle who "really knew how to make trifle." When we were curious as to what made it so special, he told us that she made a green trifle and an orange trifle. That was all the information we ever could get out of him about the contents of "the best trifle in the world."

Ari said...

I remember him describing it as a trifle with "Green and Orange Stripes."