Dei/dea ex machina
It’s tipping it down out there. It’s like the weather gods are saying, right, you really wanted the snow to go away? Okay. Try this instead. I didn’t even get hellhounds walked today–not what we call walked–we went out for about half an hour’s swim this morning, and none of us had a good time. I dislike being hellgoddess in these circumstances most extremely: when the weather is frelling awful and I have two beady-eyed acolytes staring holes of accusation through me. I believe other gods have had similar experiences when natural phenomena exhausted the patience of their worshippers.*
It’s also been hanging around about two-thirds of a degree above freezing–just enough to keep the rain rain, I’m trying to be grateful here–so if the sheer weight of the stuff falling doesn’t drive you to your knees you will eventually go numb and fall over because you can’t feel your legs any more. I brought hellhounds home, dried them off, and started looking for their coats. I bought coats for them a year ago** after Chaos was so scarily ill in December, and he wore his***, and I bought a second one for Darkness just in case, which has never been out of its packaging. Until today. I stuffed them into their coats and tried to take them for another walk . . . which was a dismal failure. We lasted maybe twenty minutes second time with the hellhounds muttering, Barbados! Oahu! Algarve! Phuket! Baja! And I gave up and dragged them home again. And dried them off again. Feh.†
And I should have gone bell ringing tonight–it’s the once a month practise at the village next door. And I’m the one did the phoning round this weekend reminding people it was happening in the hopes that they’d come. And I told myself, as I lay on the sofa covered with damp hellhounds††, that I should have lots of extra energy because of all the walking I hadn’t done today. It didn’t work.
So I watched WAITRESS instead.††† And I decided we needed a pie. Specifically we need one of those pies that I can’t eat any more–the opening credits of WAITRESS nearly did me in–and I was even thinking of this one when I pulled my Bad for You Recipes notebook out of the cupboard and lo! it fell open to this page. I believe every American woman of a Certain Age has this recipe, I don’t know how widespread it is in the population at, ahem, large. But I absolutely adored this in my depraved youth.
Refrigerator Lemon Pie
15-oz can or 1 1/3 c sweetened condensed milk
½ c lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon rind
¼ tsp lemon essence or ½ tsp lemon extract
2 eggs, separated
4 T sugar
9″ graham cracker crust‡ which you have made long enough ago for it to have solidified in the refrigerator
Put milk, lemon juice, rind, essence, and yolks into bowl; stir briskly till it’s a thick homogenous gloop. Pour whites into separate bowl; beat till half stiff, then add sugar gradually, beating till fully stiff, and then stop before what the books call ‘dry’ and I would call ‘friable’ but I’m an English major. Fold whites gently into the lemon mixture. Pour into chilled crust. Chill pie at least six hours and overnight is better.
* * *
* I’m having STAR TREK flashbacks. Remember The Paradise Syndrome, when Kirk shacks up with a really embarrassing comic book version of a Native American girlie? You knew she was Marked for Death as soon as she got pregnant, but she gets offed by her own people when Kirk the deus ex machina fails to save them from the return of the–meteor, wasn’t it? Only the size of a small planet, and the real machina which is supposed to take care of these little galactic mishaps has gone phut. And Spock is up there on the ENTERPRISE crunching logic not quite fast enough to save Minnehaha from her ersatz Dakotas and their lousy aim.
** They wore coats when it was cold their first winter, when they were still little puppies. They hated them. They hung on the ends of leads and moaned, especially Darkness, who rarely feels the cold anyway, which meant that Chaos was not going to cheer up and lark about and let the side down. You could see him working up to it and then Darkness would start moaning again and Chaos would instantly sober down: oh. Right. Solidarity. No larking. But they wore their coats. Mike^ got one of those old puppy coats about a month ago. Toooo cute. Every now and then Never Throwing Anything Out is a good thing.
^ Daisy’s Cocker puppy: see various previous entries
*** To begin with he was too frail to argue and then he got used to it. Chaos, in general the waaaaaay more problematic dog, doesn’t really do outrage that much. Despair, yes. Outrage, no. Darkness does outrage.
† The temperature is now rising steeply. It’s trying to persuade me to leave the flowering fruit trees, the tender camellia, and the rose hedge outdoors over night, as well as the geranium out front unwrapped. If I do, no doubt the temperature will plunge again, equally steeply.
I should probably go walk hellhounds. At this time of night? Are you kidding? I don’t think it’s even raining. Whimper. It’ll be 32.5° and sheeting again tomorrow morning, I guarantee it. The meteorological guys say it’s going to take our recently insane weather several weeks to settle down again! Several weeks!
†† Very practical. They steam your jeans dry as they steam themselves dry.
††† About which I have mixed feelings. It is very sweet and funny and charming and it has real roles for women, I mean, you know, more than one, the heroine has friends, and some great dialogue. But I write fantasy, and this makes me extremely literal-minded.^ I’m also not very clever about where the lines run in what you might call real-life fantasy. I’m willing to go with the Andy Griffith character, who is flagged as the deus ex machina from the first scene; with the particular, uh, quality of our heroine meeting cute with Dr Thingummy, although for myself having an affair with my obs/gyn guy is very, very high on my creepiness scale; and with our heroine’s Road to Damascus revelation on first holding her baby in her arms. Oh yes and I’m another of these sad mid-Atlantic types who go all soppy for a Southern USA accent. The thing that got on my nerves is the leisurely way that restaurant was run. I’ve never seen anything so laconic as the way our supposed national champion pie queen ran her spoon around her mixing bowl. Is this irony, and I’m missing it? And I’m just a little uneasy that the two main guys are both total jerks, although Doc Thingummy is cuter.^^
^ I’ve done this rant, haven’t I? That fantasy has to be even more grounded in reality than reality does to make it work because it’s, you know, fantasy?
^^Note that I think Nathan Fillion looks like he needs to get more sleep.
‡ You can’t get graham crackers over here, except in specialist American shops. Digestive biscuits work fine, however, once you’re over the name. Only the Brits would name a sweet cookie something that makes it sound like it’s going to taste like Milk of Magnesia.
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