What A Summer!

First, Paul’s traded.  Now the A/C on the second floor is down.  Paul’s not coming back, but the A/C guys allege that they are showing up today between 1-3.

Could it get any worse?

At least progress of a sort is being made on my book proposals on Japanese rice and resiliencies among non-resident Indians.  Note: No connection between rice and resiliencies.

Not that a lot of writing is getting done.  Though I am finishing up a wonderful novel by Karel Capek, “The Absolute At Large,” just finished a great book of stories by Peter Stamm, and will start very soon a collection of letters and diaries from fascist Italy, a novel called, “Crazy Rich Asians,” Bee’s Wilson’s great new book, “Consider the Fork,” and a memoir by Kulka: “Landscapes of the Metropolis of Death.”

That and grilled chicken sausages, ice cold gin, and three miles daily at the gym and we are good to go.

Back in Boston

I know what you’re thinking, but while I’m upset about the Paul Pierce trade, I also realize that it was necessary to build the team and think of the future.  And there are other things about Boston that help me get through this difficult trade.

For one thing, Shake Shack is opening in Harvard Square.  Along with Tasty Burger, that makes two really wonderful places where you can eat ground beef on rolls.  And Just Crust took over the spot of Upper Crust!  Last night I enjoyed a delivery of a perfect, thin sausage pizza.  With a Mint Julep and the latest Bruce Willis “Die Hard?”  Perfect.  The movie had the bonus of a nod to my hometown of Plainfield, New Jersey, where the Willis character said he was from.

Indeed, Boston is enjoying a number of new and renovated pizza and burger places.  From those mentioned to the new Batali pizzeria opening soon on the Waterfront.  And, in addition, several other restaurants are opening up or have opened where you can enjoy pork in big portions, from innards to feet.

Who needs fish, vegetables, or pan-Asian food when there are pizza and burgers?


What Would You Do?

I woke up to a hot review of BACK OF THE HOUSE, which appeared in a North Carolina newspaper, and then waited to decide what to do this morning.  The penne arrabiata last night?  Delicious.  The croissant with my name on it later today?  Priceless.

The A/C is down on the second floor where I sleep and the truck outside the window is nature’s way of saying that it’s time to get started on the day.

So much to do, golly.

First, the dogs.  Then the iced black coffee.  Then the order for more coffee from Porto Rico in NYC.  Then supplies for the long week ahead.

The city is empty, as usual, and soon I’ll stock up.

Nothing Ever Happens Around Here

Ho hum, old news, new news: Yesterday it was a descent from the timeless mountains to Aegerisee to visit dear friends and drink good Swiss wine and eat grilled sausages and swim.

Then today it’s in transit @ JFK en route to Boston: Got my bread, got my chocolate.

Tonight I think I’ll cook up some kind of chili and serve it with beautiful, dark Swiss bread.

Oh, those mountains!

What Goes Up

Today’s the day: Descent from Muerren and out of the range of the magic mountains with their profound solace and down to Aegerisee for a night with old friends before departure on Sunday for the wild West.  These Alpine mountains suggest a majesty of peace: We’ve seen people come, and we’ve seen people go.

Yesterday we hiked for about six hours up a mountain and down a mountain, to a mountain hut for hard cider, and back to Muerren for beer at the pub where locals go to unwind at the end of a day.  That very night I cooked good schnitzel from meat at the butcher and served it with salad and delicious stewed and shredded beets.

I’m hoping to return here sooner rather than later, but meanwhile I hope to keep the vistas in view and the feeling in my heart as I prepare to enter the OK Corral.

News Bulletin from Mountains: Peace & Quiet

Yes, that was me on the seven hour walk above Muerren through Alpine fields of flowers and grasses, past cows blocking the trail, and at the base of a mountain hut deep in a glacial bowl.

Could it be more satisfying?  On one’s feet and in motion, up a mountain and down a mountain, picnics on rocks of Gruyere and thinly sliced meat from the butcher, pieces of chocolate.  And yesterday, in Gimmelwald?  I found a farm where I bought two bottles of fresh, cold milk.  Heavenly.

The evenings in Muerren, from seven on, the one long and narrow alley lined mostly by homes, a few hotels, and less than six shops (baker, butcher, market) is as silent as can be.

Today we’ll go down to Stechelberg by Luftseilbahn for a long walk again.

Later it’ll be schnitzel in the kitchen and a good Pinot.


Another Day, Another Dollar

On our feet most of the day, we went from Kleine Scheidegg to Grund and then back by gondola and Luftseilbahn to Wengen and then by funicular to Lauterbrunnen and then by foot again to Stechelberg and then up by Luftseilbahn to Muerren.

Busy, busy, busy.

Up above were peaks, one after the other, reassuring and the opposite of mysterious.  Stern, sure, but more secure than that.  No wonder people leave their money here, no wonder that the symbol of Prudential is a huge rock.

Food, as it should be when things are going well, was an afterthought and so it was delicious: Beeler cheese (Gruyere) enjoyed in a meadow, and Swiss salami and seeded rolls.  in the evening: Arctic char and roasted eggplant and zucchini.

The sun is rising on the Eiger now, and that can only mean one thing.

Wednesday in the Mountains

You’d never know it from looking out at the mountains from the balcony that the world carries on as usual.  The appeal of the glacial formations is obvious, and if I didn’t know better I’d say that time has a different relationship to us here.

On Monday we went to Bern for the day to send one of us on his way, and there we cherry-picked the best the city has to offer.  It’s a place I know intimately for a variety of reasons reaching back decades.  So a stroll through the old city, down to the river, lunch at a lovely and local spot, a swim in the Aare (for some who braved the cold), and a run through Globus for supplies for dinners here.

Yesterday we reached the top of Jungfraujoch and though the train was jammed and the site brimming with visitors, what we saw overwhelmed cognition and emotion: Vast glacial fields and mountain peaks.

Then a walk from the last stop below Eiger down to Wengen, and then beers in a cafe in Muerren, and later still lake fish and good Humagne Rouge.

Carry on.


Monday Morning Blues

I had heard that it would be rain this morning, but it’s blue skies and clear views of the snow covered peaks and a great day for a long hike, but rather than wander, we’ll be in Bern, perhaps at the Aare, perhaps not.  Muerren is a perfect village in which if not to escape reality at least to add to it.  But its Bern for reasons of family.

Yesterday we climbed up to Birg, through snow, and reaching the top felt a good exhaustion.  Later that same day we capped things off with small beers and later still with raclette and good wine.

The mountains stave off Monday morning blues and encapsulate what’s best.  You take them into your heart, if you’re lucky, and plan accordingly.


Alpine Retreat, Sunday

Of course, yes, the sun is beating down on the peaks.  From our narrow balcony there’s Eiger!  Mönch!   Jungfrau!  The village isn’t stirring, many homes are shuttered, and the few shops and cafes are closed.  At 8 A.M. the bakery will open and then it’s full grain bread, I hope, and rolls for the hike up the Schilthorn.

Last night, after wandering in the hills from 11 A.M. until 5:30 P.M., we first had beers at our table on the terrace of Hotel Alpina, and then made our way home for a dinner of penne in fresh tomato sauce followed by pan seared steaks and dried porcini along with braised fennel and beans.

Fitful sleep: hardly even dreams, just the noise of temporality.

Which makes the mountains more important.