The World Is My Oyster

Painting ©2012 Nadine Robbins

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.” ~ Ernest Hemingway, ‘A Moveable Feast’

What is it about oysters that people either love or hate? It’s a slippery slope, and oysters slide right into one of those polarizing food categories, kind of like cilantro. I happen to love fresh, briny, sweet oysters. But my daughter…not so much. These sea-dwellers don’t float her boat.

Nevertheless, a few weeks ago, while I was vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard with my family, my daughter and her partner (in business and life) were in the midst of branding their client, Honeysuckle Oyster Farm. To inspire the design process, early one morning, they set out by boat to go oyster farming. Their research is this photo story:

The seafarers returned with a full bag of oysters. As it turned out, my daughter sampled a raw oyster on the boat and she was still not enamored with the texture and taste. So my recipe resourceful husband decided to make oysters more palatable for her and grill them over an open fire (with a few clams). Here’s his recipe:

Wood-Fired Grilled Oysters 

  1. Scrub oysters clean. If available, use oak or hickory wood.
  2. The fire is hot when you can’t hold your hand above the grate for a few seconds.
  3. Place the deep cupped half of the oyster shell facing the fire (flatter part facing up).
  4. In 2-3 minutes the oysters will open. Immediately, take the oysters off the grill before the liquid dries up.
  5. Can be served with a simple Rose Mignonette sauce.

The beauty of this dish is that it is like inhaling the sea…and while my daughter may not have “lost that empty feeling” towards eating oysters, she was inspired to “make plans” and brand Honeysuckle Oyster Farm.

Photos (except the grilled oysters): Ben Scott for Bluerock Design
Painting: Nadine Robbins

A Watched Pot

Lately I’ve been blogging to a beach party of one…me. Earlier this summer, I started squirreling away posts ideas. New ideas kept tumbling into the pot. Unfortunately, I did not keep a close enough watch on the swirling wellspring and it boiled over. I was all poised to push the pause button on the whole exercise and let the unpublished draft simmer down, and then the pot kept going round and round.

These 10 timely ideas rose to the top:

  1. Put pests in their place with this DIY bug zapper tutorial (yes, it is eco-friendly and humane).
  2. My husband will be happy to know that if air conditioning could make me fat, and maybe even sick, I just might be persuaded…But not this summer.
  3. Just for fun: Don’t these Monkey Orchids make you smile?
  4. I have more than a few problems with the word “unconsumption.” The Unconsuption blog says, Unconsumption means enjoying the things you own to the fullest – not just at the moment of acquisition.” I can live with that.
  5. I swore I wouldn’t stir the political pot, but doesn’t this list scare the living daylights out you?
  6. I generally think Dr. Andrew Weil is on the right track. I’m a sucker for posts that reveal weight-loss without deprivation. This post left me hungry…and thinking I should be dancing more.
  7. As an ex-teacher, the end of summer always brings stirrings, especially when I read poetic notes written to school kids.
  8. Don’t you wish politicians would sacrifice more to make this world a better place? (OK, I broke the political promise, but I hope you agree it was worth it.)
  9. The balance between creating and consuming lures me into stuff like this. Then I worry that I suffer from stuff like this?
  10. Did you know that 90% of all Americans get married? I tied the knot 29 years ago today, and really have no revealing sage advice, except love, luck…oh, and the secret of a long marriage still seems to be a secret.

Photo: Ted Fink

The Ones Who Know

I have kids that come and go. They are 23 and 27. They don’t live here, but they come more often than when they were in college. It took me a while to get accustomed to the coming and goings. Each time, I was surprised when the tears welled up as the bags piled up by the front door. You know, that nagging ache that blankets your gut when your children take flight. Really, it’s no different than the first day of kindergarten, or the overnight middle school trip, or relinquishing the car keys, or walking up the steps of the freshman dorm and being greeted by the smell of pot wafting from the windows, or offering advice about bosses who are borderline abusive. Each time, that pit down deep tells you to grab them tight and not let go…

Don’t get onto that bus.
Don’t get into the car.
Don’t step foot in that office.

But you don’t. You love and respect them too much to do that. Really. But we’re the ones who know. We know what we’ve given them. We know where they’ve been. We know what they are capable of. But we don’t know where they’ll go. So we talk like we’ve been demoted, telling them to text us when they get there. But they know.

No Such Thing As An Empty Nest

I have changed my tune over the last few years about empty nests. The pain is unbearable at first. The empty place at the dinner table cannot possibly heal. Then it’s swell. Candlelight dinners at 9 and adult conversations. Could all this freedom be real? Now I’ve come to the conclusion that there really is no such thing as an empty nest. They come. They go.

My friend Carrie’s daughter has moved home. I can tell it’s not easy. But it’s necessary. She writes an eloquent account of the situation, asking herself whether or not she’s mom enough for this new phase of parenting.

The Ones Who Know

A few years ago, I interviewed singer, Dar Williams. The themes of her music speak to many issues that resonate with me…the environment, family. Dar has young children and wrote this song as they began their journey. She echoes the ones who really know.

The One Who Knows
Dar Williams

Time it was I had a dream, and you’re the dream come true.
If I had the world to give, I’d give it all to you.
I’ll take you to the mountains; I will take you to the sea.
I’ll show you how this life became a miracle to me.

You’ll fly away, but take my hand until that day.
So when they ask how far love goes,
When my job’s done you’ll be the one who knows.

All the things you treasure most will be the hardest won.
I will watch you struggle long before the answers come.
But I won’t make it harder, I’ll be there to cheer you on,
I’ll shine the light that guides you down the road you’re walking on.

You’ll fly away, but take my hand until that day.
So when they ask how far love goes,
When my job’s done you’ll be the one who knows.

Before the mountains call to you, before you leave this home,
I want to teach your heart to trust, as I will teach my own,
But sometimes I will ask the moon where it shined upon you last,
And shake my head and laugh and say it all went by too fast.

You’ll fly away, but take my hand until that day.
So when they ask how far love goes,
when my job’s done you’ll be the one who knows.

Discover Dar Williams’ music here.

Photo: Chris Scott Snyder

Here, There And Everywhere

Where have I been besides dreaming I had an outside bedroom to ward off the impending heat of summer?

  • Wishing this memory bank had been around years ago, sickness so I could remember who the first boy I kissed was?
  • Enjoying the return of my local outdoor farmer’s market even more after viewing this.
  • Buying a new dress here.
  • Planning a few adventures similar to last summer. Anyone going to the Vineyard or Blogher?
  • Trying to follow Kurt Vonnegut’s advice: There’s only one rule I know of: You’ve got to be kind.”

Well, sale that was fun. Do you like curation posts?

Photo via Remodelista

Band Touches Earth

“See that storm over yonder
It’s gonna rain all day
But then the sun’s gonna shine
Through the shadows
When I go away” ~ Levon Helm, When I Go Away

I have been listening to a retrospective of Levon Helm’s life and music this morning. He was well loved, and his passing sent waves through my Hudson Valley community where he lived. The Band’s music defined a cavernous slice of my teenage heart. A renewed love for their sound rose up a few years ago when my son played with a band that closed out their performances with “The Weight.”

When I heard Levon Helm’s voice on the radio this morning singing, “When I Go Away,” it reminded me of the time my dad came upstairs to my bedroom just before I left home for college. My room was a teen shrine to the music of the ’60’s and early ’70’s. My dad was a musician in his own right, and he appreciated all types of music. He often brought his trumpet up to listen to “my music.” That day, I was lying on the shag rug staring at the ceiling, listening to The Band. With instrument in hand, he laid down next to me, and we had a conversation that went something like this:

Dad: What are you listening to on your victrola?
My dad always called my record player, a victrola…even though I referred to it as my “stereo.”
Me: The Band.
Dad: What kind of name is The Band for a band?
Me: The perfect name for whatever you are listening to.
Dad: Yes, well you won’t forget this dusty sound, they sound like the earth.

Earthy sound. Earthy Day. Keep ’em in your heart.

Credit: Ambera Wellman