10 Things I Love
Well, this isn’t the kind of thing I blog about at all. But when @52Betty challenged me, I felt compelled to answer with my list. Here is her list, so that you can check that I didn’t just copy hers.
1. Red Vine Licorice. It must be Red Vine; Twizzlers will not do. Red Vine Licorice isn’t even really licorice, in that there is no licorice flavour to it at all. It comes in a trim cardboard box, wrapped in cellophane. It tastes of sugar and wax and my childhood. It is the first thing I buy when I land in Los Angeles and it is often the last thing I buy at LAX when I leave.
2. Chipotle peppers. Smoke-dried jalapeno peppers. When I open my last bag, procured from some Mexican grocery store, I begin to worry. They can be crumbled into food or soaked and chopped. They can be put in a blender with olive oil to make a lovely, smoky, chile paste. They are essential for enchiladas.
3. White sweet peas. Every year I put them in too late and every year I am disappointed when I get no blooms. But this year, I am feeling smug. This year I found two flats of them on-sale at a garden centre, about to be dumped for being “past their sell-by date”. Since when did plants have those? I put them in on time and I am rewarded, even as I type, with twenty-seven flowers. I feel invincible.
4. Old maps. Who can resist them? I came back from Berlin with a suitcase full. I love how names change, roads move, empty spaces fill up with people and buildings, then empty again. I do not love Google maps, however.
5. Sun salutations. I should do more of them. They stretch everything in you, in turns and all at once. They start slowly and mindfully, with stillness, and lead you to downward facing dog, which is a name that anyone could love. I currently have a sprained rotator cuff, and it finds downward facing dog rather a challenge. But soon, I will be back to it, saluting the sun with reckless abandon.
6. Louise Erdrich. Bookseller, poet, artist, German-Chippewa novelist. I don’t keep fiction in the Blue House, but I do keep Louise Erdrich there, sandwiched in and around the research books of the American west and the fundamentalist Mormons. Her books are what I turn to when I require comfort, on a tough day’s write. Her books are filled with people who love one another but do not understand one another. Her stories are filled with grace, humour, compassion, as well as ghosts and history and tiny bits of magic. I couldn’t possibly single one out, but start with Antelope Wife, if you don’t know her yet.
7. Sleeper trains. When I was little, we took sleeper trains to Albuquerque. I don’t remember much about them, but they must have seeped into me, because I adore them. I never sleep well on them, but sleeper trains aren’t designed for sleeping. They are designed to help you transition from place to place, slowly, moving between states of mind. I would much rather arrive somewhere new by sleeper train, dazed and scratchy-eyed, having prepared myself for it through many hours of darkness in a gently rocking room. On Amtrak, lovely men unhook and make your bed up for you while you sit in the dining car, rolling your way toward Portland or Sandpoint, Idaho. When planning my trip to Berlin, I knew I should have to arrive by sleeper train. The Man in Seat 61 made it possible.
8. Fleetwood Mac. I love the feel and the sound of them. I never tire of Second Hand News or The Chain. I love their tragic love stories, how they played them out through their soft rock, their bohemian costumery. I love everything about them except for Tusk. No Tusk, thank you.
9. Summerdown Peppermint Tea. I didn’t know that the English were historically famous mint producers, and Summerdown assures me that they still are. Black Mitcham peppermint tea is farmed in Hampshire and brewed daily, here in my kitchen.
10. Turquoise. Really, I could have had a lot of Number 10s. What of clogs? What of folk music? What of Morris dancers, stopping traffic, stomping down high streets with their painted faces and trailing ribbons? Arbitrarily, I plump for turquoise. I wear a lot of turquoise, handed down by grandmothers. I am often told in airports that it is good luck for travel and that it protects the throat chakra. I like its weight and solidity, its age, its pits and pockets. Here’s me with my favourite stone.
Thank you for giving me time to think about things and love, Betty. If you want to share the things you love, why not add them here? Or add them to your own blog? Or tell Betty – she’d like to know, too, I’m sure she would.