The Brace of Betrayal and the Not-So-Funny-Seitan

Previously on A&A's Adventures in Cohabitation (2014 edition): Canadian pirates quell the rampage of boisterous boxes! Garagean ghettos of mountain-biking splendor erupt in one grand snap of the twisting coil. Just as rapidly to be gone. Garage once lost, and now regained. Balls bobble in one-legged kneels at tall tables, and cores crepitate. 

Coming up: Fathers and daughters speed toward the ariose tragedy awaiting all who dare step foot across the fourth wall. And the winds howl on. Will the rivers rise up against the heavens? Will father and daughter survive sackless and unhunched? Andrew battles the volcano. Can he survive its hibernal horrors or will our hero be swallowed in the ice and powder that courses in his heart? A full-throated whirr of the kitchen appliance harmonize to trainer's rumbles. Will seitan keep the celiacs at bay? Will sorghum cause sore gums and if so, would the peanut sauce dare to draw the pun? 

Read on, adventurers... 

La Donna e Operaed up For January

Nothing says father-daughter bonding like driving through ever drivinger rain to watch singing daughters betray their singing fathers in favor of betraying singing lovers, while fathers betray daughters by fixating on vengeance against the betraying lovers who in turn are being betrayed by their lieges who in yet more turns are betrayed by their hit men ... and the inevitably big operatic morass of salacious sonority coaxing the curtain with a final susurrus death-diapason. Oh, daddy, I feel so close to you now realizing that we both survived my first several heartbreaks without my ending up stabbed in a sack (in any literal sense, at least), and you ending up with a hunchback! Incidentally, Rigoletto is based on a Victor Hugo work, which makes me ever so idly wonder if hunchbacks are a theme of his. I don't recall any in my double chassé through Les Mis way back when, but there was a whole lot of back story with the Napoleonic Wars and whatnot, so perhaps my memory errantly erased those little references. 

But I diverge (are you divergent... friend?). Yesterday was opera day! The heavens obliged with roiling Tristan chords of convergence zones along our merry path! Drama queen that heavens are, I believe these heavens flung enough tears to fill a lake or two.... celestial subtlety is sooo overrated. But regardless of all weather and predicted construction, we made it to McCaw hall and tucked in for some of that chatharsis nonsense. I'd never seen Rigoletto live before, although it is such a stock standard that I know it by rote. They cannily revived their prior set and costume concepts from 2004, setting the opera in fascist Italy during the war. There's a certain brutality to the political environment of the opera that fits exceptionally well in this period. The idea of kidnapping and "seducing" the daughters or lovers of one's enemies (oh hell, if there was ever a place to refer to frenemies of the Romantic Era, this is the place) certainly fit the Verdi landscape; it all took on a modern and insidious burnish cast in a familiar era. A minor twang of Tarantino to the end production. 

I found it particularly effective, and quite subtle, that Count Monterone (the man who is - in this version- savagely beaten and arrested for protesting at the Duke's "seduction" of his daughter, and who then gets the story going by cursing Rigoletto) was Jewish. Simply a yarmulke and a mocking NAZI gesture at the beginning bought he savageness of our literal-bodice-ripper into visceral view. I thought it equally canny that the Count's daughter appeared completely drugged and not entirely willing or happy to have been there. Verdi is so lush, the sheer seediness of some of his subject-matter isn't necessarily apparent to a contemporary audience. This gave a hint without dragging us into the crackhouse. You suddenly understand why the main character has taken such pains to hide his daughter away and the catastrophe the discovery of her - mistaken for his mistress - becomes.  

Another  effective choice was emphasizing the youth and innocence of Gilda, Rigoletto's daughter. After the Duke finds her at home and attempts to seduce her, she sings her famous aria - an intricate piece requiring exceptional maturity and skill from the singer. But in this production, she does so while hopping down stairs, laying on the ground in reverie, and dancing about like a teeny-bopper sighing over Bieber. 

A minor plot point that has baffled me a bit resides near the end of the opera. After Gilda has been seduced, kidnapped and exposed at court, Rigoletto swears vengeance against the Duke. He hires a hitman whose beautiful sister lures marked men to their inn to stab the duke. The duke, of course, seduces the beautiful sister, who in turn doesn't want her brother to kill such a charming little man (especially not before she has a go at him upstairs, from the subtext of this particular production). 

She suggests that they simply kill Rigoletto when he returns with money. The hitman is outraged and disgusted with such an idea, asking whether she thinks him a common thief, and boasting proudly that he has never betrayed a client. Immediately after, he agrees that if somebody else stops by, he'll kill that person in lieu of the Duke. This of course sets the final gears in place, since Gilda has been hiding outside listening in and decides to sacrifice her life for her unfaithful lover. While it's clear that the assassin is hoping to just dump the body covered in sack before Rigoletto discovers his target is alive and well, surely he knows that it's unlikely that Rigoletto would not soon find out that the Duke remained alive and well. And surely, one body is not worth another and such substitution constitutes cheating his client at the best. I'm not faulting the storytelling, but I am curious about this distinction between killing and robbing a client directly versus just ripping him off. If I were a very self-absorbed graduate student with no creative works of my own to foster, but lots of theories to bloviate... I might write a paper on that. Bet I could milk the material pretty well. 

Regardless of the ethics of base or bass assassins, it really was an exceptional performance, and I could barely see through the tears as we trampled weak and the elderly in our mad dash to escape upon curtain's close. Andrew may not have the stomach for such mercenary tactics, but by god we WILL BEAT THAT TRAFFIC so hard that its family walks with a limp!!!

While we were afoot in Seattle, Andrew was aski up at Baker, which apparently had its own share of tumult and operatic excitement. From what I hear, several people were skidding about over ice and snow and sleet and lord knows what else. That, my pets, is another story for an able tenor, so I'll perhaps resume on a subsequent day. 

Until then, I'm back at work quite early to get some things done before leaving a spell during the morning. I snuck in here at 5:00 a.m. just like old times! As seems always the case, I got things done about twice as quickly as I do when I "sleep in" a bit more. But this logic, I could do a days' work if I just came in at 4:00 a.m. and went home at 6:00 a.m. or so... hmmmm...  

The Tenor's Tale: Frozen Footsies and the Hobbled Honey - 

As promised, that tale for another day. Elaborated upon handily by a wife whose experience is limited to vicarious community property experience. 

Overture: (after sufficient pause for applause as the conductor flickers into the limelight): Andrew, among other things, is a skier. Not somebody who skis, necessarily. But somebody with snow in his blood, edges that cut like a samurai's blade, and a headful of blissful  memories involving "snow pack" and "powder". He's even made a season of being a ski bum. He skis, therefore, he is Andrew. 

Needless to say, skiing has skidded in and out of our lives as the seasons change. I first met my future family-in-law on the slopes of Tahoe (well technically, at the airport, but then we went to Tahoe). I imagine I was accepted at least in part due to my miraculous ability to pick up skiing without too much flailing or sobbing or falling off cliffs.  The family ski trip has been a longstanding tradition that pre-dates me, but which has rearranged enough of the ski gear to afford me a pocket of space along. Every year but this year. When the weather gods got drunk and lazy. Instead of skiing, this year, we stayed in the warm embrace of San Francisco and skiing ambitions were forestalled. 

The weather had not been locally propitious either, despite our proximity to Mt. Baker. December, essentially, was one lathery little wash of a pre-season. Oh my how things have changed. Or at least, how winter progressed and storm fronts frolicked about in more amenable fashions for slipping down slopes and so forth.

Raising the glittering curtain with a stampede of timpanis:

And thus the first day of the (W)right season was born of sturm and only a minor twang of drang: while I hied through churlish cumuli towards my father-daughter musical betrayal fest, Andrew headed north with ski gear in town.  

Through turgid traffic and spotty conditions, our hero careened, mocking death with a tacit nod and wink that may have amounted to whistles in a cemetery. Skis blew in the wind. Skiers turned acrobats in the bluster and vicissitudes of the hieman gruel atop old Baker. 

He triumphed, but that gelid volcano still took its pound of flesh. During his return, the pianissimo murmur of pain in his wrist came to a caterwaul. Yes, the dreaded injury not otherwise specified. 

By the time I'd returned from betrayal-fest 2014, he had gotten it wrapped and iced, and was looking for urgent care centers on the internet. None are open past 5:00 p.m. on the weekends. The ER was haughtily rebuffed as an inadequate suitor for such exquisite pain (or at least, the pain was searing, but not utterly mind-melting as the wait at the ER would well have been). 

And so, our "ski trip" vacation continued into yesterday. Andrew felt sure that he was fine to drive (and his experience driving home from Baker supported this estimation), but I rather preferred to minimize the potential aggravation and be there in case heavier medications were prescribed. Mostly, I just wanted to "help" by insisting on retrieving his wallet from his pants pocket and other slightly salacious public acts of "assistance"... one must take advantage of the helplessness of one's beloveds. In between acts of "assistance," I am sure I demonstrated deep uxorial fealty and affection. 

Having been assured he had a sprain, Andrew returned home with a brand new brace (very strapping - not just literally), and I once again returned to work. The thing about long commutes is that, even if you say that you can certainly take a half day for a minor errand, you probably won't ever actually feel like going into work after a morning's errand. And he has sick days, so why not convalesce appropriately. Of course I believe he spent all of three minutes resting before growing restive. By the time I returned home, he'd taken a run and spent what must have been an interesting one-handed spin on his trainer. 

Needless to say, the training calendar has been tweaked appropriately. No mere sprain will hinder his years' toil! It may be a few more weekends before the next ski excursion though. Just possibly. I'm not entirely sure of such sanity, but he does have his moments! In the meantime, the brace really does look kind of bad ass. Just needs a little more glitter and perhaps some tassles! 

Some seitan walks into a peanut sauce - 

And the peanut sauce says "why the long face?" To which the seitan looks kind of confused, because seitan doesn't have a face, and then says "a child of five would understand this... quick somebody send for a child of five."  But none was to be found, so we ate the peanut sauce and the seitan with some sorghum and they bothered us no more. 

Last night I conjured up heaping quantities of celiac-bane. I like to drape it around the home to protect us from invasions. I know that gluten intolerance only enters the home if invited, but it's a tricky little intolerance, and sometimes seduces invitation where none was intended. Best to keep the vital wheat protein ablaze and vigilant. 

If somebody had revealed all the gastronomic alchemy of cooking to me at a younger age, I may have found myself far more drawn to both cooking and science. Alack, I was drawn into the licentious lures of liberal arts instead and fell headlong into the inevitable lawyering that besets our ilk when they are not foolhardy enough for a life of academia. But I can still play with food and giggle "ooooh magic"these days. The things that eggs, gluten, flax and chia do under various conditions alone is better than the slooshy suckle of a million mud-pies. 

Seitan always surprises me a little in its determined battles with moisture: very much the archetypal antagonistic romance of lore and prime time. Their twisted love child: primordial hunks of spongy food-like beast. I had also forgotten how gluten can expand when recipes are followed. I often use wheat gluten as an additive to sauces or egg dishes for a plumping effect, but these elastic qualities are mitigated by the culinary context. Left alone to rage freely in a seething simmer, wheat gluten comes into its own. Goes a little funny, perhaps. Puffs up like a politician on the campaign trail. 

Anyways, I was proud of my overabundance of celiac-bane, and the ad-libbed chili sauce I made yesterday afternoon after realizing I had none and my recipe called for it. I was even more pleased with the peanut sauce for which these former ingredients were intended. Incidentally, a really heavy sauce like peanut sauce goes surprisingly well with sorghum. In my opinion, sorghum can taste a little dry absent a good soaking (which is fine if we're popping mini-pop-corn, but less succulent in a main dish). 

We'll call it all a moment of parallel play. Andrew, still nursing a smarting wrist (and the sheer humiliation of being a mortal in possession of friable appendages - he may never quite get over this), was home for a hearty trainer session yesterday evening. I admit that I tend to retreat upstairs when the bike begins its growl. And I did briefly waylay up on the sofa rereading the book I had read for Christmas after rereading another book by the same author that tied in incidentally to this book and which then raised memories of the first book, which... It's been a week of rotating between three works in interphased cycles. But with ear plugs and dinner to attend, I found myself content with the muted mews, and barely minded the chance to cast an occasional oeillade towards my glistening Bikedonis. 

Today, my limbs are feeling the orange barracuda (round four of HRT with little to show for it than a perpetual bevvy of side effects that simulate an alternating state of pregnancy and pms - not necessarily recommended for the faint of heart... literally, I read the warning labels) with bit of sotten free fall. Inertia is strong with this one, but peanut sauce is stronger. Even if it has a very strange sense of humor. 
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