TORRONE… It’s was long a tradition in my family to get little boxes of Torrone (almond nougat candy), along with a hot steaming cup of ovo bastutto, as my dad used to call it, at the Christmas holidays … Ovo bastutto was indeed a beaten egg – but only the yolk – whipped into a foam with sugar and then spooned on like whipped cream to a hot cup of java. Since Vincenzo only made it for the family once a year, its place in the pantheon of childhood rituals was high … Torrone was a block of hard or soft nougat dotted with almonds and sandwiched between ultra-thin layers of unleavened bread (we kids all thought was paper) – not unlike the round wafers we stuck our tongues out to receive at communion during the Roman Catholic mass. It made the candy seem even more special, almost holy. And the tiny boxes they came in were decorated with Florentian frescoes and villas – too lovely to toss, often made to hold one’s special collections of bugs or odd coins … The last couple years I’ve been making up little packets of torrone for the county staff, along with chocolates and other (more American) goodies … But this year, Lita Bilotti did me one better. In return, she made me some homemade torrone – something I’d never had before. They were even more delicious than any commercial brand I’d found … Grazie, tanto, Lita!
WEEKLY QUOTA … "What has destroyed every previous civilization has been the tendency to the unequal distribution of wealth and power." – Henry George (1839-1897), American political economist
LANCE CHRISTIE… It was sad last year losing Moab’s elder statesman, Lance Christie. A brilliant man with wide-ranging interests – political, social, environmental – Christie wrote regularly for his friends on all kinds of subjects. I was a lucky recipient of those amazing emails. Here’s one little gem (I’ve gently edited) from the last of those rants and exposés he would send a select group of friends – pertinent as we face some good and bad choices in our energy future.
ENERGY POLICY … What we really need to make market change in expansion of renewable energy generation investment by the private capital sector, as well as significant reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, is a combination approach: 1) adoption of a feed-in tariff law modeled on the European; and 2) levying a $300-per-ton carbon-dioxide-equivalent greenhouse gas emissions tax on fossil-fuel-power consuming ratepayers, phased in at $50 per year over six years. Half the proceeds of the carbon tax would go to lower-income taxpayers as a dividend – to offset the burden of higher energy costs resulting for a while until renewables supplant coal. The other half would go into a national renewable energy grid-development fund. That fund would pay for the transmission infrastructure to bring power from renewable source centers onto load and for rebuilding the entire transmission grid of the U.S. into a “smart grid” system as developed and perfected in Europe. It would also pay for underwriting renewables research and development, for providing tax credits for energy efficiency investment by businesses and residences, and for subsidizing energy efficiency investments for lower-income households.
STEVE SANFIELD … When Gary Snyder moved up to the San Juan Ridge, a whole community of mountain poets developed – dubbed by one touchy feminist as the “Bearshit-on-the-Trail” school of poetry. One of my favorites of the batch is Steve Sanfield. Like Snyder, he hails from California’s Mother Lode country where – “the miners came in 49, and the whores in 51, and when they got together, they made the Native Son.” … He’s been writing American haiku for many years, and the chapbook this week’s Talking Gourd came from is called The Perfect Breeze (Tangram, 2010), a collection of the many short poems Don Russell and Nancy Carahan have published in Downieville’s The Mountain Messenger – California’s oldest weekly.
THE TALKING GOURD
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