Dear John Cougar, I Get It Now. Really. Love, Jeff

I didn’t see the constellation Orion. But I felt a sense of profound relief that I came of age just after the Friday Night/Heavy Metal/Laser/Astronomy at the Observatory thing.

Seriously, There was a point on the return leg of the road trip that found me absolutely mesmerized. I had to ease the Hoopty off the the side of Highway 46, sit out on the front fender, and look up at the stars. I’m willing to risk that sounding a little bit trite, but seriously, it had been a long time. It was a clear night, with great visibility and no glare save from a dimly lit A-frame farmhouse about a half a mile downhill.

And I try not be cavalier about the word “awe,” but there are times when it just fits. I sat there dumbstruck for what had to be a half an hour, staring blankly into a sky that just teemed with life. I didn’t see the space station, but I found the Big Dipper, the North Star, and this faint streak of powdery white that I knew wasn’t a cloud, but I think was the outer arm of the galaxy. I think this image was seared into my mind as the most compelling visual of 2009.

Yeah, I need to get out of the city more often.

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Bell Curve Chicken

So Poultry and I have reached an understanding over the years.

If a loaf of homemade bread is the culinary sacrament that gives meaning to my Sunday afternoon, a roast chicken represents the final official act of my weekend. It carries significance far beyond the kitchen or the table, with powerful, if obtuse, associations that always resonate with me as I cook. Like with the laundry that I always have to have done before I start dinner, or the dishes that I have just enough time to wash before the little guy comes out of the oven, or the abundant leftovers that will save me from having to make much effort to prepare lunch.

All of this bodes well for the upcoming week, one in which my socks match, my lunches are taken care of, and the kitchen sink can hold itself together for a couple of days.

Not to mention the fact that I can sit down with a plate of roasted chicken, good potatoes, a salad, a slice (or two) of bread, maybe with some homemade saffron mayo if I’m feeling especially saucy, and a glass of obscenely sweet iced tea with the store bought ice I love chewing so much.

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