Dear Diary: Salad


This afternoon, I invented a chicken salad. I probably did no such thing, but what I came up with was new to me. I tossed the white meat from a roast chicken (Kathleen and I eat only the dark when the bird comes out of the oven) in a dressing made up of mayonnaise, a half teaspoon of curry powder, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, two tablespoons of fresh orange juice (left over from breakfast), a splash of white wine vinegar, a few pinches of dried tarragon, and salt and pepper. How much mayonnaise? Enough to make a slightly runny dressing. I covered the dressed chicken and set it in the fridge for a few hours. (In winter, I should have left it on the counter, wrapped.) At the last minute, I added two avocados, chopped, and one small tomato, seeded and chopped. That was that.

While different from anything that I had ever had, the result was not at all strange. Like most tasty food, my chicken and avocado salad tasted like a secret that I’d just been let in on. The sweetness of the orange juice combined with that of the tarragon to brighten the roast chicken, and the hours of steeping in the fridge had moistened it nicely. As we enjoyed the salad, I thought of how often in the past I have ruined chicken and avocado combinations with the greedy but deadening addition of bacon and mushrooms.

As for the rest of my day….

Yesterday — was it yesterday? I think so — I was trying to select an RSS feed in Outlook when I noticed a problem: the reading pane was blank. Worse, Outlook was suddenly “not responding.” Rebooting, deleting the feed and replacing it with a new one under a different name — nothing worked. Presently I discovered that the laptop was similarly afflicted. The net result was that I gave up on Outlook for feeds, and started a page in Google Reader. I ought to have done this a long time ago, for when you’re working from two or three computers, it makes no sense to channel all news feeds to just one of them. Clouds, my dear, are all silver lining.

Unfortunately, I had by that time deleted whole folders of feeds. Of course I remembered the sites that I depend on the most, but I’m afraid that I lost many of the new possibilities that I’d begun following in the past two weeks. A few years ago, the loss would have put me in a tragic frame of mind for at least a week. Now, I’m too busy for that sort of thing. I say this not to show off my newfound stoicism but to thank heaven that I am too busy for tragic states of mind about… lost RSS feeds.

Thanks to one of the new blogs whose name was rescued from the debacle, I discovered the site of an artist who paints disturbing oils. You could say that the pictures are pornographic, or at least I can, because I responded to them, more or less, as one responds to dirty pictures, if you know what I mean by that. (I looked at every last one of them.) But the paintings are disturbing in a way that has nothing to do with bizarre couplings. The young people who are shown in various states of undress, smoking and drinking at a party held in a Eurotrashy-deluxe setting, look terribly lost, and anything but happy. They’ve clearly been drinking too much, or drugging too much; and the men especially seem to be wondering how they got to this swinging soirée. When, that is, they’re not in a state of leer. I also had the most peculiar sense that they were for the most part still living with their parents, whose servants had ironed the shirts that hung unbuttoned on their unbalanced chests, and pressed the jackets that, despite the décolletage, they had neglected to shuck. The women are rarely absolutely naked, but almost always elaborately nude. The air is rancid with the scent of privilege gone wrong. For what it’s worth, the artist appears to fancy Cartesian, geometric titles.

You’ll be waiting for a link about now, but I’m not ready to give it. There’s no need for you to risk feeling as complicit in unseemly doings as I did for hours this afternoon.