Eyre Affairs

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Location: New York, United States

Monday, October 31, 2005

"I watched the slumber of childhood - so tranquil, so innocent..." ~ Jane Eyre

I just spent a sweet Halloween with my nephew. He is my little peanut, and I loved celebrating his first Halloween with him. He is the best treat I have ever had in my life...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

*email from Amy Lisa with subject "mine too!" : my grandpa loved our 1/3 acre too! I remember my poor dad and uncle traipsing around after him, looking like the grown kids that they were, poking at the ground with their rakes and shovels as he energetically directed everyone. Thanks for that memory! Did these armenian guys all shop at the same red-plaid-shirt store??? xoxoxoxoxoooxoxoxox alk

"I surveyed the grounds laid out like a map: the trees, the roads, the tranquil hills, all reposing the autumn day's sun." ~ Jane Eyre

This fall day is as spicy as nutmeg.

Very few days are quintessential fall days, so I relished in this one: hazelnut coffee, pumpkin spice candles lit, red wine with football, a walk to the library.

On days like this I wish we didn't have gardeners. Raking leaves would have made this day even spicier.

Grandpa Hovannes loved to come each weekend in the fall when I and my sisters were little. The quarter of an acre we had was his field of dreams. Since the backyard in Astoria was too small for him to enjoy his favorite aspects of landscaping, visiting us and working on a cold fall day brought him joy.

He would come wearing some kind of baseball cap that he never bent at the brim, a red flannel coat, work boots, and a smile. Raking the leaves was a time of solitude and meditation for him. Very rarely did we disturb him. Grandma Allie would call him in for some coffee for a break, but he was quick about it and was eager to get back out to gather the layer of leaves on the grass. I wonder what he thought about all day as he stared down at the colorful leaves.

When my grandparents came to visit, Grandpa Hovannes would sometimes request that my sister, Robin, play the piano. Not playing at random, but to play a specific song: Autumn Leaves.

If you have never heard Autumn Leaves sung by Nat King Cole, than I recommend that you do so in this moment. I picture him listening to it somewhere in Italy or North Africa, missing my grandmother during World War II. He insisted on Robin playing it so often that I know the melody traveled deep into his soul to a place he would not share with anyone, except perhaps for my grandmother.

I always cry when I hear that song because I think of my grandfather. At his wake, I ended his eulogy with the ending lyrics to the song. It was fitting, and in that moment I finally understood the weight of those lyrics in my heart.

"And I will miss you most of all my darling, when autumn leaves start to fall."

Saturday, October 29, 2005

"Mrs Fairfax made jellies in the store room..." ~ Jane Eyre

Perhaps in my next lifetime I shall be a chef.

I would love to have my own bistro with tables for one on a small street in Paris. My bistro would be named Aimee's. The place would be petite, catering to single young men and women who want to linger over their food and wine as they read, meditate, or daydream without having to be disturbed by the noisy conversations of others.

The specialties of the house would be French onion soup, beef Burgundy, and profiteroles. I would order special half bottles of wine from a local winery that experimented with blending wines together, like a merlot with a cabernet.

A customer would not be permitted to leave without having a cup of cafe au lait on the house.

I would have art all over the walls, such as Vincent's nighttime at a cafe. Cooking is an art, so what goes on each person's plate is in the same genre as what is on the walls. After all, one must be coordinated entirely when one decorates; there is no difference between art on the wall and art on the plate.

There will be plenty of candles on each table, and a fireplace in the corner that will be lit in the wintertime. In the summer, the tables would spill out to the sidewalk where I would have a small shelf of books and periodicals for my customers to borrow.

Music? That is simple. Edith Piaf.

In the spirit of this entry, I decided that each week I will share a recipe I made during the week for you to try.

This week's recipe is Butternut Squash Soup. I made this for my mother and for my sister, Missy, two weeks ago for a ladies lunch the three of us had, and I also made it for Sarah when she came to lunch. I served it with some crispy bread and a Waldorf Salad. All of the women enjoyed it, and it is very simple to make. Today is a perfectly cold October day to try this. Enjoy...
1 butternut squash, peeled
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and pepper
1 onion, chopped
6 cups chicken stock
Cut squash into 1-inch chunks. In large pot melt butter. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add squash and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender. Remove squash chunks with slotted spoon and place in a blender and puree. Return blended squash to pot. Stir and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Serve.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

"At last the coffee is brought in..." ~ Jane Eyre

Coffee is a trend in my life.

This flavor of this week is the delicious vanilla spice at Dunkin' Donuts (or D.D. as Cassie calls our only place of sanity on a cold weekday morning). Last week it was the pumpkin spice latte at Fourbucks, and the week before that it was the dark and vibrant blend at Panera Bread.

I started thinking about the origins of coffee today. I discovered that my taste for it runs in my bloodlines. I read a very interesting tidbit about the history of coffee in Paris: "In 1672 a coffee house was opened in the marketplace of St. Germain by an ARMENIAN named Pascal, created in Turkish style." This note of history is interesting, but not surprising to me. Clearly I inherited this coffee addiction from my good ol' ancestor, Pascal!

Some of My Best Coffee Experiences:

a. Cafe Du Monde: Neither myself nor Sarah realized how small the cups of chicory coffee were at Cafe Du Monde. Leave it to us to be sitting outside in the sweltering heat of New Orleans in June drinking hot cups of coffee. We sat and ate our sugary beignets in silence like an old married couple. Clearly something was amiss! We realized that the coffee was half milk, so our morning coffee fix was as awful as a LoupGarou!

b. Soorj: I made soorj for Steve two weekends ago. He took one sip and said, "Its not like my mother's!" Of course its not! MINE IS BETTER!

c. Kona Coffee: John gives me such a hard time about my coffee addiction. Alright, so he gives me a hard time about everything, but that is why I adore him. He is constantly telling me how gross he thinks coffee is and how the smell nauseates him. However, one of my best coffee experiences involves him. I will never forget when he arrived from Hawaii and brought me entire bags of Kona coffee when he came to my place. This present meant a great deal to me - one of the most thoughtful gifts I have received, actually. He gave me something he didn't like and probably hated spending money on. However, because it was important to me, it was important to him. I will never forget that.

d. Sanka: My dad loves coffee but insists on drinking instant. It makes me want to SCREAM! I love mornings where I go there using subterfuge and get him a cup of nicely brewed coffee. I am proud that I inherited my dad's Brooklynese pronunciation of cawfee.

e. French Press: Missy still uses the French press I got her for her bridal shower five years ago. When I look at it I always think of the shower, even today. In case you were wondering, Carltun on the Park made a great cup of coffee at her shower.

f. Percolating: My grandma Allie loves her coffee, and one of my favorite childhood memories is smelling the coffee percolate when we went to visit the Catskill house. Those were great breakfasts. Although feeding us was grandma's main priority, she had to get the coffee going first. I respect this philosophy.

g. Affgato: Sarah and I had this during our first visit to Inoteca. It is a shot of expresso poured over vanilla gelato. Many things would inspire me to move to Italy, but this could be number one.

I am off to have a cup of coffee, so here are some sites for you to peruse and enjoy. Ciao!


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

"My pupil was a lively child..." - Jane Eyre

En route to making photocopies on packets about Romanticism, Allie screamed my name from the back of the Student Activities office. I love talking to Allie because her sarcasm and dry sense of humor always make me laugh. She has bright blue eyes, and a round face that is constantly making odd expressions at me in the hall for a joke.

Walking into the office, I noticed that she held a clipboard. I peered over her shoulder and saw a computer generated list of faculty names.

"You made the finals for a teacher superlative!" she screamed.

Uh oh.

I wondered what embarrassing superlative I could possibly have been nominated for by my senior classes that would forever encapsulate me in the 2006 Yearbook.

Hmmm. Lets see: Most likely to get stopped in the hallway being mistaken for a student? Most likely to bounce off of the classroom ceilings because she drinks too much vanilla spice coffee from Dunkin Donuts in class? Most likely to allude to a South Park episode during the midst of an in-depth literary lesson?

I stood next to Allie and she pointed to the slot. I am up against Ms. Zarnia for "Most Likely to Brighten Your Day."

I don't need to win. This was one of the best moments in my teaching career.

The irony - and oh how us English Teachers love irony - is that it is my students who brighten my day.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

"In the midst of my pain of heart, and frantic effort of principle, I abhorred myself." - Jane Eyre

In chapter 27 of Jane Eyre, Jane bolts from Rochester.

As a reader, I understand why she leaves despite having no sensible plan as to where she is going. To stay would compromise herself, and she has enough self-respect to place her dignity above all else. If a mousy, glorified babysitter can assert dignity, it amazes me how I sometimes I am unable to do so.

However, I ask if her bolt from Thornfield was dignified or dumb?

My true Jane-ian moment of bolting occurred two nights ago. This was not a mechanically coordinated exit like Jane executed; a bit sloppily done, really. Jane certainly pays the price for leaving without having a plan, and I paid the price because I had one. She ends up passed out, starving, and soaked. Is that dignity? I ended up completely humiliated on a full stomach in a warm, dry place. Nope, no dignity there. Instead we are both left feeling like absolute crap. Perhaps I am being too hard on Jane and on myself. Sometimes it comes down to fight or flight, and when you are emotionally exhausted and drained, you are just too tired to fight anymore. Your weariness makes you irrational, and I don't think my weariness has eased up since June.

She had to get away from that attic, and I had to get away from the bar's basement. She left an Edward of a first name, I left an Edward of a middle name. She missed him. I miss him.

I don't know if I want to talk to this Edward again. That is easier typed than put into practice, but there is a truth in this. My true friends allow me to be my true self with them, and this particular Edward has a role for me in his life that seems so unnatural and scripted. I am supposed to play a character who must turn off all emotions, meet him in specific places during our scenes, and pretend that no previous love scenes ever existed. He is writing this script and constantly editing it to the point where I feel as though I have nothing true to contribute anymore. My spirit is too independent for this kind of packaging.

During our last conversation (either for a while or forever), he reiterated that he had issues. I wanted to say to him, "Baby, your issues are my issues, so lets work together." But it would be so wasted on him.

Lewis tells me I need to forgive this particular Edward. It is hard to forgive stupid stubbornness, but I shall try.