Most of the estate sales I go to are pretty predictable — a Duncan Phyfe dining room table, some midcentury furniture, cut glass, silverplate, bad artwork, needlepoint, rooms full of Christmas ornaments and decorations, piles of linens, abandoned toys, and unfinished crafts. But occasionally I run across something truly bizarre, like say, a backyard full of dismembered mannequins.
I’m not talking just one or two mannequins, but dozens of naked, maimed mannequins:
As I stood there surveying the mannequin massacre, trying to wrap my head around it, all I could think was that I had to take a picture to show my husband. As I was snapping the pictures, however, I saw people looking at me, and started to worry that they might think I was weird. And then I thought, “I’m surrounded by piles of mutilated mannequins, and I’m worried that someone might think I forgot to take my meds?” Reality check!
I have no idea how those mannequins met their demise or why they were cavalierly tossed in the backyard. Isn’t that what dumpsters are for? The scene brought to mind an old Saturday Night Live skit with Dennis Hopper, involving a party with inflatable dolls, and he had a fit because someone “popped his girl.” Or the Jonestown mass suicide. Anyway, I’ve since revised my will to include instructions that any dismembered mannequins of mine be discarded before my children expose the contents of my home to complete strangers in the hopes of making a few dollars.
The mannequins weren’t the only disturbing thing in this backyard. Check out the pool:
See it back there, in all its brilliant pea green glory? I’m guessing the pool guy took one look at the mannequins, realized life was too short to mess with it, and hightailed it out of there.
Looking at the pool (1) makes me want to take antibiotics, and (2) makes me think of split pea soup (sorry — can’t help it). I’ve been feeling crummy this past week with the flu or allergies or both, and we’re about to get yet another cold front, so inspired by the discarded mannequins lounging around the pea green pool, I made a big pot of Split Pea and Ham Soup. The recipe is adapted from the one in The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins (my Silver Palate heroines). It is a comforting, familiar soup, with an interesting twist from the sherry and tarragon.
|SPLIT PEA AND HAM SOUP||
- 1 pound dried green split peas
- 5 cups chicken stock
- 5 cups water
- ½ cup diced smoked ham
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, divided use
- ½ teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1 cup diced peeled carrots
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons dry sherry
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Rinse the split peas in a strainer, then combine them with the stock and water in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil over high heat, and add the ham, celery, 1 tablespoon parsley, and tarragon. Reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots, onion, and leek, and continue to simmer for another 30 minutes. Add the sherry and remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper, and heat through. Serve hot.
Not for dummies!