No one knows what the body can do. -Spinoza

Friday, September 17, 2010

We've Settled in Just Enough for Champagne

Picture it.

We lived in a house with pine-slat floors, high ceilings, light gushing from every window to fill the inside with warm light, without too much heat. In one room my yellow and floral duvet cover brightened the bed, while my various clothes hung in an open closet along one wall. There was a double door that swung open to a deck and private garden area. In the living room a multi-colored silk braid rug covered the pine slat floor surrounded by walls covered in books, and a black leather sofa (I way too much like black leather) plus chaise lounge welcomed guests to relax. In another room, the ten year old threw her things everywhere, papers covered every used-to-be-visible inch of the floor, and a cockatiel called for kisses! kisses! Okay, actually, let's ignore that room. Except for the bird. kisses! kisses! isn't that lovely?

There was a private back garden, a grassy yard, an apple tree in the back, a juniper, and a birch in the front. The kitchen was enormous, the bathroom had a claw-foot bathtub, and plenty of light. It was a wonderful home. I loved living in Flagstaff (once I got accustomed, which, when moving admittedly takes a while).

Remember how I mentioned all that change that's gone on since Spring? Well, truth is, we've moved. We've moved a long long way away. I've accepted a one-year dissertation writing fellowship at an ivy league college in the Northeast United States. It's unreal, really. After spending 2002 -- present as a single mom, doing full-time coursework, and also working, I now have a year where I am simply a single mom, and finishing my dissertation?


Not only that, our housing is included as part of the package. I get my own office, a one-bedroom apartment, and a stipend to live on. Wait. WHAT?!! A one bedroom apartment?!!

Yes, remember that picture I was describing above about our idyllic house in Flagstaff? We no longer have that house. Today we live in a one-bedroom apartment with high ceiling, industrial carpeted floor, stand-up-shower bathroom. We have our own oven and stove, our own sink, our own refrigerator, and no rent to pay. I am unendingly grateful. (See how by listing all the things we have I am SHOWING that I am grateful? Honestly, I am. We could have to use the stove that is out in the common room area of the rest of the house. We would have, in that case, a stove to use, so I would still be grateful. But I like so much better that we have our own stove in our own apartment.) I honestly feel incredibly lucky.

It's hard to imagine, really, that I've fallen into a situation where someone is giving me free housing. I can't say enough about what this means to me; what it means to have the opportunity for less obligation, more support, fewer expenses. As a single mom trying to finish graduate school THIS IS HUGE. The truth is that whole "2002 -- present" thing has been really intense. I've had more to do than any of my friends have been able to imagine getting done that whole time. They repeatedly tell me, "I don't know how you do it." The truth is, I haven't known either. I tend to avoid thinking about it, and instead just focus on getting it done.

I mentioned the kid, right? Well, we're living together in a one-bedroom apartment. We talked and she decided she wanted the living room. Really. SHE decided. So, we've been converting the space into her version of a dream-though-in-a-living-room-without-the-frickin'-paper-catastrophe-everywhere bedroom. It's been its own stressful situation, but we're doing pretty well with it.

Now that we're finally settling in well enough, I decided to make a dinner that would adequately capture the reality of our situation--incredible blessings within subtle constraint. What combination would celebrate the reality of free housing in a place a little too small for me and an almost-eleven-but-still-ten, ten year old?


Four cheese--Monterey Jack, Cheddar, Queso Quesadilla, and Asedero--grilled cheese sandwich on seed and carrot bread
with Gosset Brut Grand Rose Champagne

(She didn't get champagne. She asked for soy milk instead.)

Rules for pairing wine with food (they are few):

(1) always go drink, eat, drink. That is, you taste the wine, THEN eat the food.
(2) pay attention: you're drinking AND eating--frickin' enjoy it!

That's it! Those are honestly all the rules! There are other guidelines that wine-foodies will tell you about what foods tend to go well with what wines. And those GUIDELINES can be helpful. But they are not strict, cut from the cloth RULES. When it comes right down to it THEY ARE ONLY GUIDELINES. Your job, as I said, is frickin' enjoy it. And part of the best way to do that is to try something unexpected, unpredicatble, and so, possibly fantastic. So, here I am trying a grilled cheese sandwich (admittedly FOUR cheese on a seed and carrot bread) with champagne brut rose.

jaunty bubbles; a golden, slightly caramel color; strong, bright, weighty nose; heavy flavor--a touch of burnt caramel, light apple, touch of heat at the tip of the tongue, with a hint of ginger. intense, but lively. strong flavors, that are fresh on the palate (and the gut). medium weight.

actually goes great with the grilled cheese sandwich. the sandwich tones down some of the intensity and heavy flavors of the champagne, bringing out more of the fruit, while retaining a touch of spice. i think i feel fall coming on.


  1. awesome call on dinner. i too had a croque monsieur for dinner, not quite as fancy (aged cheddar on rustic brown bread, with asparagus side). WISH i had the champagne too!!

  2. Good to see you are finding a way to keep up the real life writing. Miss you and the ten/eleven year old BTW. Tonight I celebrated the completion of a project from hell with Green and Black's Cherry Dark Chocolate (with real bitter dried cherries) and a (fresh from Italy) Rocca Di Fabbri, Sagrantino Di Monitefalco 2004. Yum. Intense, dry, currants, tar and 14%. Looking forward to champagne with Ginny next week. So happy for you!