First things first: an update on our Nora. Yesterday was her last day for pain medication and the Vet has prescribed another two weeks kennel rest before we start any sort of free time. Then she mustn’t wrestle with Nicky, run, jump nor go for extended walks. I’m not really sure how all this is going to end up. She is after-all a dog and even now in the brief periods she is allowed out of the kennel she does everything, as she has always done, at double time. However our past experience with Bundnie and Reesie has also told us what the alternative is. It is definitely a rock and a hard-place situation. But we will do what is best for our girl.
Well now I was rather surprised when completing Spelling Bee on Wednesday. I had been told by the good people at the NYTimes Crossword that bitch “can be interpreted as inappropriate or offensive” but in a moment of daring-do I entered the word fart and it took. Apparently it is neither “inappropriate or offensive”. But then my friend Debra out in Edmonton managed to do a whole post on farts only last week while asking the musical question (perhaps brought on by a bean diet) How Low Can This Blog Go?
Speaking of our Debra, she mentioned my use of the word nonce early this week thinking that perhaps I had confused it with nance. She was quite right about nance, it was a pejorative term used in burlesque and vaudeville for a comedian who played an effeminate character. However nonce as well as meaning “for the time being” is British prison slang for someone who has been convicted of child molestation or other sex crimes and stands for : Not On Normal Communal Exercise. It is also slipping into common slang as a term for a paedophile. As Debra mentions, her – and my – knowledge of British prison slang is pretty limited and hopefully it is not something either one of us will ever have need to expand upon
Amongst his extensive output the late John Julius Norwich made a specialty of writing “popular” histories of the Mediterranean. I’ve lost count of the number he’s written and I’ve read over the years. The first would have been his History of Venice in the late 1980s. It was one of the first books in my collection of histories, cookbooks, murder mysteries, and travel guides to my beloved Serenissima and one that I return to every few years. Rather ingenuously, to my mind, he always prefaces his work by emphasizing that he is not a historian and his books are not the work of an academic. Academic they may not be but they are filled with quick character sketches, small but revealing details, and anecdotal and often bizarre vignettes.
Back in 2010 I picked up two volumes of his three volume story of Byzantium. The bookstore had the first and third but the second was not available. Ah well that could be found at a later date, could it not? Well yes it could but I hadn’t meant it to be eight years later. I finally ordered a copy through my local bookstore earlier this month. I had read about the battles, mutilations, castrations, blindings, palace intrigues and religious strife of the Roman Empire from the birth of Constantine around A.D. 274 to the crowning of Charlemagne on Christmas Day in A.D 800. And then I skipped on to the battles, mutilations, castrations, blindings, palace intrigues, and religious strife from the disastrous defeat by the Seljuk Turks in 1071 to the total defeat by the Turks in 1453. There was a glaring gap of almost three centuries of battles, mutilations, castrations, blindings, palace intrigues and religious strife left unaccounted for – a period that Norwich called The Apogee.
Much of what we know about Byzantium has been coloured by the view of earlier historians particularly Edward Gibbon. JJN feels that in his Decline and Fall Gibbon did a disservice with his hostility to the Byzantine Empire and further that his very English view that Byzantium betrayed all that was good in ancient Greece and Rome coloured subsequent histories. It has been years since I read Gibbon’s magnum opus but perhaps that will be the next challenge coming up. Meanwhile I reread Norwich’s Volume 1 in January and as I’m finishing off Volume 2 things are starting to decline and the fall, when Sultan Mehmet enters St Sophia, is 436 pages off. I have to admit that John Julius tells a good story but then eleven and a half centuries of battles, mutilations, castrations, blindings, palace intrigues and religious strife gives you some good stories to tell.
There have been some dietary changes in our household over the past month or so. No formal resolution has been made but it is more than apparent that Laurent and I both could/should lose a bit of weight. A cut in carbs was in order with smaller portions being served and more in the way of fruit and vegetables. My friend Maggie posted a great recipe for Pork Egg Roll in a Bowl and I gave it a try. We both loved it and it’s become a bit of a house favourite.
I decided to investigate the cookbook it came from: Craveable Keto by Kyndra D. Holley. No we haven’t gone all hipster* and joined the Keto movement but some of her recipes are excellent. One of them is a Jambalaya recipe – and I love Jambalaya but how can you have Jambalaya without rice a big carb no-no? Well she uses cauliflower rice! Now there are a few vegetables I just don’t like – well quite a few but let’s not go there – and cauliflower happens to be one of them. But ever game I gave it a try and… I love cauliflower rice! Now that doesn’t mean that Uncle Ben has been expelled from the house just that on occasion he’ll be replaced by cauliflower florets pulsed in the Cuisinart to rice-sized pieces.
And as for the work in progress that is weight reduction – slow and sure, they tell me, wins the race.
March 1st is Employee Appreciation Day.