From the Desk of Garrison Keillor
A prolific writer, Garrison Keillor is a frequent contributor to newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and abroad. To the right, you find a selection of articles published since 1989, and a few unpublished pieces.

The Rice, the Bat, the Baby
From Time Magazine

September 4, 1999

I am a hero today for this morning I removed a bloodthirsty bat clinging to the curtain in the family room and protected my wife and daughter from an eternity of undeath and now this evening I am making risotto, which my wife claims is the Van Gogh Sunflowers of risotto and superior to anything found in restaurants. This is the life of a man acquainted with grandeur. I simmer the chopped onions and fennel in a pool of butter until they are limp and shave Parmesan into a bowl while my clients sit out on the front steps, enjoying the summer hush of St. Paul, watching people stroll by, waiting for one to pass with a dog.

My daughter is nineteen months old and is thrilled to the tips of her toes by dogs, any dog. She has never met one she didn't adore on sight and toddle toward and reach out to touch, jabbering endearments to it, trembling for joy. What you or I would feel if an angel appeared, my daughter feels a dozen times a day on meeting a dog.

She is the one in the family who most lives in the moment, as we are told in poems to do ---- to gather rosebuds while we may and treasure the hour of splendor in the grass and all the pleasures prove that this brief summer yields --- hers is the age of sheer delight, and when she awakens in the morning and squawls and I open her bedroom door, by the time I open the blinds she is already laughing.

I don't say that mine is a great risotto, by the way, only that of all the bat-catchers in St. Paul, I probably make as good a risotto as any of them. The secret, besides lavish amounts of butter and cheese, is to rush the rice toward the finish line at high speed and, just short of it, turn off the heat and coast. My little girl thinks my risotto is more than good enough, but she likes every dish we set before her. The chapter on finicky eaters does not apply to her: she licks her chops the moment the bib is tied, she digs into her risotto with profound gusto, a spoon in her left hand, grabbing fistfuls of food with her right. Between this and swimming pools and her books and her dog pals, she is gathering rosebuds left and right.

I love to see her delight, since I am down with a bad case of the summer blues. Winter lifts me up, for some reason, and summer drags me down and always has. A good thunderstorm makes me feel better but then the sun comes out.

I used to enjoy playing golf in the summer, but golf is a game that brings out the worst in people, and fishing is a very poor use of time, and basketball is perilous for the older guy. He fights for a rebound and snaps an Achilles tendon and spends six months in a walking cast --- I wouldn't even want to be in the cast of "The King and I" for six months. Risotto is the summer sport for me. It's easy, you're indoors, it takes an hour, you get a feeling of accomplishment, then you get to sit down and eat.

Last night, my daughter woke up at four a.m. in high spirits and shouted at us to get up, until we did. We all went downstairs to the kitchen, and she dug into her toy basket and got out her favorite doll, which laughs when you whack it, a perverse invention indeed. It has a late-Seventies feminist activist hairdo and it is teaching my daughter about sado-masochism. She walked the floor with this doll, as if trying to put it to sleep, and my wife and I sat like two war-torn refugees and thought blank thoughts and longed for our bed. And then she went upstairs and discovered the bat.

The bat hung from the curtain and I approached him slowly, a plastic bucket in my right hand and an LP jacket in my left, and scooped him up and toted him outside and released him. My brother-in-law does it by hand, with gloves, but he is a park ranger and I am an English major. The bat flapped away into the night, looking for a sleepy maiden in a diaphonous nightgown on a balcony, and when I returned to the house, the other two were upstairs asleep in the big bed. I crawled in alongside and clung to my edge and slept for a few hours and got up and had coffee. My wife thanked me for removing the Evil One. I shrugged. All in a day's work. "I sure wish you'd make risotto again tonight," she said. "You make the best risotto."

Past Articles
  • Phil Keillor Benefit for the Tenney Park Shelter (04/17/09)
  • Bill Holm, 1943–2009 (02/26/09)
  • Happy New Year, Friends (12/29/08)
  • Talk of the Stacks (11/17/08)
  • What Makes St. Paul So Great? (09/03/08)
  • GK On Historic Preservation (10/05/07)
  • Welcome to St. Paul (09/23/06)
  • "Homegrown Democrat," Chapters 1-4 (08/10/04)
  • Sing the National Anthem—and Try it in the Key of G (07/02/04)
  • Holiday Greetings from Garrison Keillor (12/23/03)
  • Remembering Plimpton (10/01/03)
  • Crankiness in Decline, Says the Old Guy (04/19/02)
  • A Governor Works in Mysterious Ways (10/19/01)
  • In Praise of Laziness (09/10/01)
  • I Just Needed a Valve Job (09/13/01)
  • A Eulogy for Chet Atkins (07/03/01)
  • A Foot Soldier in God's Floating Orchestra (04/01)
  • Exile on Main Street (10/02/00)
  • Walking Down the Canyon (07/31/00)
  • The Mysteries of Prom Night (05/15/00)
  • How I Write (12/04/99)
  • The Christmas of the Great Flu (12/99)
  • Let Jesse Be Jesse (10/10/99)
  • The Rice, the Bat, the Baby (09/06/99)
  • Faith at the Speed of Life (06/14/99)
  • The Republicans Were Right, But (02/15/99)
  • Minnesota's Excellent Ventura (11/16/98)
  • The Dangers of Christmas (04/06/98)
  • Gasgate (11/10/97)
  • Talk Radio (10/97)
  • The Seven Principles of a Successful Christmas (09/08/97)
  • The Seven Deadly Sins—Envy (04/97)
  • You Say Potato (04/04/96)
  • The Poetry Judge (02/96)
  • With All the Trimmings (11/27/95)
  • In Autumn We Get Older (11/06/95)
  • Minnesota's Sensible Plan (09/11/95)
  • The Art of the Embrace (02/95)
  • The Voters are Angry (08/94)
  • Word Play (05/18/90)
  • We Are Still Married (12/18/89)
  • Elevator Tales
  • A Graduation Speech

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