Thursday, February 11, 2010

Shrimp and oysters

Work today. I spent two days in Orange County working with Shari on BB website photos. Shari is in photo below with a new red sweater. This was an experiment to see if I have enough stamina to actually work (other than  mindless construction projects) again. Although officially retired, I would like to work on the occasional project because it's stimulating and I still find work (the creative part) fun.

The only disagreeable part of the endeavor was the drive up and back. It's just too long! A nice visit with Jim, my brother-in-law, was an extra bonus. After three years of struggling in the kitchen, he's actually developed a little repertoire of recipes and gaining confidence that he can care for himself. The house is tidy and orderly, he's doing his own laundry and getting the help he needs with house cleaning and gardening leaving him time to pursue his many interests: bridge, music, volunteer projects, suduko and his relationship with Stella. I'm relieved that he appears to be happy.

We completed six shots in three days, despite the occasional glitch including burned toast as pictured,  using tiny shrimp, medium shrimp and oysters. The tiny shrimp are very small but well suited to certain dishes - chowders, dips and spreads. Oysters, well - they are not my thing so canned oysters to me are not as shocking as they might be to a fresh oyster lover.  The oysters out of the can have a bit of a blue tinge, which reminded me of the famous poem, the Walrus and the Carpenter. As a child I thought this was the saddest tale and my heart ached for the poor, duped little oysters. My Dad used to recite the middle stanza (below in italics) as he'd ease himself into his chair with a glass of whiskey.

The Walrus and the Carpenter, by Lewis Carroll

The sun was shining on the sea,
shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright --
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.
The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done --
'It's very rude of him,' she said,
'To come and spoil the fun.'
The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead --
There were no birds to fly.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
`If this were only cleared away,'
They said, `it would be grand!'
`If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose,' the Walrus said,
`That they could get it clear?'
`I doubt it,' said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.
`O Oysters, come and walk with us!'
The Walrus did beseech.
`A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.'
The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head --
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.
But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat --
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.
Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more --
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.
`The time has come,' the Walrus said,
`To talk of many things:
Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing-wax --
Of cabbages -- and kings --
And why the sea is boiling hot --
And whether pigs have wings.'

`But wait a bit,' the Oysters cried,
`Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!'
`No hurry!' said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.
`A loaf of bread,' the Walrus said,
`Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed --
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.'
`But not on us!' the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
`After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!'
`The night is fine,' the Walrus said.
`Do you admire the view?
`It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!'
The Carpenter said nothing but
`Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf --
I've had to ask you twice!'
`It seems a shame,' the Walrus said,
`To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!'
The Carpenter said nothing but
`The butter's spread too thick!'
`I weep for you,' the Walrus said:
`I deeply sympathize.'
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.
`O Oysters,' said the Carpenter,
`You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none --
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.


  1. Oh, no, that's the saddest thing I've ever read. Of course I know the part you put in italics but I've never read the whole poem. I'll never eat another oyster! Not that they're often offered to me. I do love them smoked, though, and it's become my tradition to have them on New Years eve. Now what will I do?
    By the way, we're in the running for a new cooking job. Maybe we'll all be working again- just as we're starting to enjoy retirement!

  2. We can get together and cry over the oysters on NYE.
    I'm happy to hear you've got a possible job simmering.
    I did just fine working two days...I committed to doing two days every two weeks for a little while. The nice thing is that I can drop out any time and Shari will carry on.
    Hated missing book club but Beth sent a report.