Records are meant to be Rogered

Y’all, I am a truly outstanding Roger Federer fan. Really, he couldn’t ask for a more committed, enthusiastic supporter, and I have been that for so many years now. I watch every possible match whilst wearing my official-from-his-website RF hat. I know that he and darling wife Mirka have two sets of twins, Myla and Charlene, Leo and Lenny. I feel that Roger has great hair, including the perfect amount of arm and leg hair, and lovely skin and incredible legs.

As you can see from the six recent examples below, I am not kidding about the extent of my fandom.

Roger is class incarnate, just champion AF. I once heard him say that in his early years on the pro tour, he would sometimes emote in peevish fashion, yelling, say, or thrashing his racket. Watching replays of his behavior embarrassed him, and so he cut it out and has since acted with elegance and grace as far as the eye can see. Would that everyone be so self aware and willing to work on themselves, including in small ways like changing a bad hairdo (see early Roger below; OMG, code red).

Roger has both temper and hair fully under control today, and he is a shining example of masterful sports psychology, self-containment, and on-court compartmentalization. As I pace, cringe, jump up and down, hide my face with my RF hat, talk to the cats, text friends who sympathize, post updates to Facebook as if it’s my only outlet, send Mirka vibes of strength and understanding from afar, and quietly wish bad things toward Rogie’s opponents, Roger is cool as a cucumber. I mean, in today’s Wimbledon semifinal against Rafael tic-master Nadal, Roger lost the second set so mortifyingly badly (6-1) that John McEnroe and Chris Fowler were nearly speechless. Which is saying a lot. They finally concurred with much brevity that it was the single worst set Roger has ever played at Wimbledon.

Did Roger freak out? No he did not. He came back and whipped out wins in both the 3rd and 4th sets to advance to the finals, Rafa picking at his nethers and obsessively aligning his water bottles all the while.



I mean seriously. I had to go work out after the match because I was a mess.

I actually made this during the match because Mirka, me too! I feel you! But, our man won.

I actually made this during the match because Mirka, me too! I feel you! But, our man won.

Meanwhile, the man is a month shy of 38 years old and is setting records left and right. In the quarterfinals earlier this week, Rog became the first player in history to win 100 matches at Wimbledon. He has won more Grand Slam singles titles -20- than any other male player and more Wimbledon championships -8- than any male peer, spent a record 302 weeks as the world ranked #1, and won a slew of sportsmanship and humanitarian awards. His eponymous foundation has invested nearly $30 million in education and children in Africa and Switzerland.

I love him. He’s a total dish.

Nanny and I always loved the same players. We were hardcore Sampras fans for years. YEARS. We called him Petey and cooed sweet nothings at the TV every time he played. Then came Roger and our adoration moved on. I still think of Nanny every time I watch Rog play (and also the way I used to mock how nervous my dad and grandfather would get during sporting events and now realize that I am exactly them), and I thought of her today. Send vibes for Sunday’s final, Nanny. It NEEDS to be Roger’s day. Novak “I look like an angry muppet” Djokovic has years more to play and win. Step aside, sir.

You know where I’ll be this Sunday! Breakfast at Wimbledon hoping Rogie rogers another record: becoming the first man to win 9 Wimbledon crowns.

All the thoughts on a Friday, which has now turned into Saturday

My youngest darling was the burp contest champion at camp this week. He can do, what he calls, "constant burp," and it's pretty impressive if you appreciate that sort of thing. 

I came across and bought this manly tomato today, just after having a really wonderful, fulfilling lunch with a relatively new but total gem of a friend. 

Those two things are not remotely related except that she responded to this picture in this way: "Yes! I love it when I find lewd veggies! This is a fine specimen!" She's a keeper.

I really do feel so terribly rich with friends. Last weekend I was lucky to get to host my online writing group for our first in-person retreat. We've been writing together for a few months now, though several of us have done so before. Ah, the interwebs. But, not all of us had met each other in real life prior to everyone's arrival on Saturday. 

We needn't have worried. It was one of the easiest 48 hours ever and included spending enormous amounts of time in pajamas eating, watching Roger win Wimbledon, leaving the house after more than a day to eat a delicious meal at Ghibellina, and enjoying a last morning together at Politics and Prose (although the customer service in the cafe was staggeringly terrible. Ex: "I'd like that chocolate croissant." With a sneer she replied, "That's not chocolate." My friend: "May I ask what it is?" Reply: "Yes." WTF?!?!) It did not include any writing. Hah!

Champion of champions!

Champion of champions!

The boys returned to Calleva on Monday, and despite the horrific heat wave DC has been steaming in for the past week, they had, as always, a fabulous time. It's such a great camp. They are so filthy at pickup every single day that I send them directly to showers when we get home, no delays. You should see the seats of my car; they've been tinted by their bums this week, the aftermath of literally lolling about in nature, on shore and in the river.

We resumed our 2Amys Monday for pizza and meatballs and sitting in the front window tradition. We've been going there regularly, sometimes weekly, for eleven years, but 2Amys Monday is a Calleva-specific ritual. That's a long time to have a place in your life, and I love that. One of the managers, Darlene, has been there the whole time. She has seen the kids grow up, and we have watched with delight as her commitment to pink winds through hair, nails, outfits, and so on. 

The heat and humidity this week have been tough, even for me and my Louisiana blood. Temps have topped 100 most every day with not a cloud or drop of rain in sight. We have had thunder though; one clap broke a neighbor's glass patio table. And today, Saturday, I'm watching as dark gray clouds roll in like a storm surge from nowhere. The trees keep blowing to near horizontal positions before returning to an eerie stillness. 

Because of the oppressive sultriness, it has felt near impossible to cook. Everyone is basking in cold, raw opportunity: salad, chilled soup, crostini with lots of cheese. I managed to grill pizza one night, and inexplicably (beyond my desperate need to use up a ton of rhubarb) I made some jam. Today, because our tomatoes are going nuts, I passed the black krims through my food mill to make the base for gazpacho and then had the opportunity to use up all my bell peppers, green onion bulbs, and cucumbers.

pain de campagne, burrata, tomatoes, basil, and great olive oil

pain de campagne, burrata, tomatoes, basil, and great olive oil

Not pretty but very delicious gazpacho

Not pretty but very delicious gazpacho

A few days ago I went to Politics and Prose (again) to hear Angela J. Davis in conversation with three of the contributors, Roger Fairfax, Kristin Henning, and Renee McDonald Hutchins, to her new book of essays, Policing the Black Man. Each essay constitutes a different perspective on the racism pervading America's criminal justice system: how black boys and young men are stereotyped and treated by police; implicit bias; various legal viewpoints; the history, present, and possible future of our justice system; and so forth. It was a terrific event, and I look forward to reading the book.

Angela J. Davis and her newest book

Angela J. Davis and her newest book

In other book news, I'm about 2/3 of the way done with Quiet Until the Thaw, and I must say that while there are some beautiful phrases and passages full of wisdom, I am disappointed. I have zero idea why Fuller decided to fictionalize this story. It puts her, as a non-Native American, in the voice of one. I'm not surprised by the flak she's taking from native writers, not least because the style in which she's chosen to write often feels glib. It too frequently feels like a poorly rendered stereotypical description of Indians and reservations- names, headdresses, alcohol abuse... There is a better way to respectfully treat Native American traditions and people in literature although I sincerely believe she has a profound respect for them. Which is why this is disappointing. I wish she'd just written of the months she spent on the Lakota reservation, from her perspective. 

Ok, the rain has passed. God did we need it. Perhaps we'll actually be able to cook something for dinner. Dessert at least. 

Cleaning out my recipe trove and watching Wimbledon- a trip through time

I'm skipping yoga and spending today at home. The boys are at camp, it's hot as get-out outside, I have desperately needed to clean out my recipe files and transfer them into the organizer I bought three years ago, AND Wimbledon is on and Roger is playing.

Growing up, watching Wimbledon every July was one of my family's favorite ways to spend time and time together. We'd make "nests" of blankets and pillows on the floor in front of our TV and tuck in for days of good tennis. Weekends were the best because Dad was usually home. I remember the times he was on call, and his beeper pinged; he'd call in and answer clearly and responsibly, but his eyes never left the TV screen.

Periodically, someone would take one for the team and get up to fetch snacks and drinks. There were stretching and bathroom breaks too, but for the most part, if our favorites were playing, we were enthused fans glued to every point. Lendl, Edberg, Agassi, Graf, Sampras, Navratilova. We could not tolerate Martina Hingis's scream which sounded like Henri! after every whack. I can track my childhood with tennis players and tournaments.

Nanny would often come watch with us although she stuck to  an upright chair rather than the floor. When she couldn't drive anymore or didn't want to go out, she'd watch from her house, and we'd chat via phone periodically. She and I always loved the same players, most notably Pete Sampras; we both called him Petey and loved him even though some said he was cocky and others said he was a dim bulb. That man could play some tennis, y'all.

When Tom and I had been dating just a few months, a friend gave me tickets to the US Open. I called Tom with mad excitement: "Honey, I have tickets to the Sampras-Agassi match. Can you fly up?" Because we were young and unencumbered (and he was still in DC and I in NY) and he has a kazillion frequent flier miles because he was a consultant then, he did come up, and he and I and two friends watched that epic men's singles final: 6–3, 6–4, 5–7, 6–4, Sampras. It was Petey's last pro game.

I called Nanny during it, thankful for my relatively new cell phone. After Sampras retired, Nanny and I took up with Roger Federer, or Rogie. You see a nickname theme here. Until she died, Nanny watched tennis, and I would always call her at least once when our boyfriend played. 

The past few weeks haven't been much slower than those surrounding the end of school. And so today, when I saw my Rogie would be playing Raonic in the quarter-finals, I decided to cancel everything on my schedule, stay home and watch for old time's sakes, and enjoy some quiet stillness. I am a bit stressed because Raonic beat Rogie last year in the Wimbledon semis, and I was heartbroken. Hopefully today will boast a different outcome because let's face it, Rogie isn't getting younger and will surely retire soon.

Going to Wimbledon is on my bucket list, and although I'll probably never seen Roger play, I'll get to see his name listed as the winner for so many years (Petey too) and will just be thrilled to wander around those hallowed grounds, a place that has meant much to me over the years.

While waiting for the match to start, I've started sorting through my recipe files and kept Wimbledon on in the background. Querrey beat Murray (WOOT! I am NOT a fan of Murray, and also America could really use a bit of good news right now), and Cilic and Muller are duking it out in the fifth set now.

I didn't expect to find that as tennis helps me track my life in some ways, so too do my recipe files. 

I've just thrown out a good 90% of the Cooking Light recipes I clipped long ago before Jack was born. Those are from a time of rigidity that I neither wish nor need to return to. I've gingerly transferred old favorites, some from Nanny and others from friends, into plastic sleeves for safer keeping. I love looking back over the notes I've taken on dishes- whether they work as written, what I've changed, what I loved.

<HOLD UP- Rogie and Raonic are into the second set already, and Rogie is on fire. GENIUS playing. And his legs. Meow!>

I found the little yellow pamphlet I got at the Reston, VA, Whole Foods when Jack was a baby. It included a recipe for sweet potato pancakes, little orange silver dollars of health, that I cooked for Jack for years. I'd make stacks and stacks and freeze what he didn't scarf down, hoping they'd last at least a few days before I needed to get out my griddle once more.

I've contemplated my favorite cauliflower recipes and discarded those that don't make the cut. Tom is not a cauliflower fan (unless I curry it, and neither are the kids, so I don't make the veggie as often as I might like. I can tell that I've been through beet, sunchoke, pea, and bulgur phases. I see that I don't make nearly as many soups as I've ever intended and that at the end of the day, I rarely follow recipes which is why so many of these hopefully, lovingly clipped ideas have remained just that.

And I see that over all these years, since first learning to cook by Nanny's side, I've gotten to be a really good cook, one whose roots and preferences remain clear. I like good, clean, real, well-seasoned food, and I like to make it for those I love.

OMG, y'all! ROGER just beat Raonic handily AND Djokovic had to retire because of injury. Lawd a'mercy, maybe Roger will win one more. Go, Rogie, go. Do it for Nanny!