July Notes

The garden is rocking right along. I confess to pretty much hating summer – OK, summer lovers, is it the bugs, the heat or the humidity that you like best? – but I adore my garden. I like walking out the front door of the house and seeing everything growing and blooming and going crazy and I REALLY like picking up dinner by, well, picking it. Last night I made a pasta salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and just barely cooked green beans that I picked 20 minutes earlier. It was awesome. I feel healthy. Well, healthy-ish. I mean, it turns out that not only vodka but bourbon as well mixes admirably with fizzy lemonade, so, yeah, healthy-ish.

In scholarly notes from the garden, I have singlehandedly figured out why old school cookbooks – and by old school I mean 19th century, not just jello molds, aprons and hideously technicolored photos of meat – always have salads that are either straight up greens or the perennial favorites: cucumber salad, tomato salad and (whoa, Nellie, this one is a stretch) cucumber-tomato salad! That would be because you don’t get lettuce and cucumbers and tomatoes all at the same time. The lettuce is bolting and done by the time the tomatoes come along and thus your basic tossed salad relies on shipping and is in fact actually a modern thing. Which discovery I think is kind of cool. Have I recommended Animal, Vegetable, Miracle on here yet? If not, I am now. Read it. Think about it. And while, no, she is totally wrong and it is in fact financially out of reach for the economically challenged among us (like me) to actually eat 100% or even 50% organic and local, it’s well worth trying to get as close as you can.

In further, less foodie, scholarly notes, I want to write a thesis on Amish romance book covers. You – I am assuming that if you are reading this, there’s a really good chance you don’t identify as Christian or at least not evangelically so – may not know of the existence of Christian romances. I didn’t, back in the days before I worked in a bookstore, but yes, the Christians, who seem determined to create a sort of parallel, separate but equal, world right here in River City in which everything has a Christian equivalent – let me present, for example, a Christian rubber spatula – have a thriving business in romance novels. There are gazillions of them, mostly trade paperbacks, and they are avidly read by a large swathe of the population. These books are presumably more or less the same (OK I confess, research only goes so far, I haven’t actually read one) as regular old secular romance novels except that a) there is no sex or, I guess, married sex only and it is probably described more in terms of colors than body parts and b) everything is god’s fault and he gets mentioned a lot. One of the biggest subsections of Christian romance novels is Amish romance novels. Amish. I know. It boggles the secular mind but yeah, the Amish are often held up as exemplars of ideal living. These books are not, mind you, written by actual Amish people – they’re written by Christian romance novelists who presumably once took a bus tour through Lancaster county. Or maybe twice. Anyway, you can easily identify an Amish romance novel by the cover, partly because the Christian publishers are only just now beginning to grasp the concept of actual professional graphic design, having mostly relied before on, like, one secretary with a copy of Photoshop 2 and partly because they apparently can only afford maybe four models, who they use over and over and over again.

These models wear bonnets. Every. Single. One. is wearing a bonnet, whether she’s gazing off pensively – they’re pretty much all gazing off pensively, which you would think would take up more time than they really have, what with the 8 younger siblings and the chores and all – to the left or to the right, upwards or downwards, in a pasture or the woods or by a barn. And, this is where my thesis comes in, in most of them the bonnet strings are untied! What is the point of that, I ask you? Why would you leave your bonnet untied when that means that at any minute your bonnet might just – fly away?

. . .

. . .

Substitute pants for bonnet and LO, the steamy secret behind romance themes becomes clearer and the bridge between secular and Christian romances is apparent. There’s my thesis: untied bonnets as a sign of sexual availability in Amish themed Christian romance novels of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Loose bonnets = loose women, people. Think about that when you’re picking up the next five Beverly Lewis opuses. The scary overlap between the people who buy Christian romances and hardcore S&M erotica in the vein of 50 Shades and Sylvia Day’s handcuff covered 400 pagers is not, however, something I’m going to address. But I am leaving the image with you, because I’m evil like that and also, sharing my pain is what this blog is all about. In a totally non sexy way.

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