Detail of a Dia de los Muertos painting of Frida in the Hollywood Forever mausoleum.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
"As we can see from last year's Pumpkin Patch, we have grown a bit this year, thanks to after Halloween clearance sales."
"Tucker loved his pumpkin costume...well in truth he had to be baited with some turkey. I started to take the red eye off him but left it as I liked it with the colors of the chair and his costume"
Thursday, October 29, 2009
When you are next in town, I would be honored, sir,
if you would dine with me. I have a small place,
a little shabby perhaps, but cosy. The lamps
glow soft and warm, and with the curtains drawn,
you’d think you were in some New York or Paris bistro.
I would serve you something humble first,
home-made hummus, say, with warmed bread,
salad from the local farmer’s market, tasty
green beans, roast chicken, with peach
and honey sauce, rice—and wine, of course.
For dessert, I would offer my apple pie with cream.
And I would have Schubert playing, something quiet and sweet,
with a touch of sadness, to remind us of all life’s delicacies.
And I could read to you, or sing, or we could both sing,
or you could recite poems over cognac or coffee or tea.
And we could talk, of extraordinary or ordinary things.
For there is something to be said for the quiet, daily ritual
of breaking bread, for the discussion a meal engenders—
nothing fancy, neither food nor talk, just the old
stories, the old good-natured teasing between friends.
I don’t think Horace or Homer and his Odysseus
would disagree that at such moments people
are at their best, that spirited conversation over lunch,
or dinner or tea, or even breakfast, may be the essence
of humanity. Sir, let’s put this theory to the test.
That Evening at Dinner by David Ferry : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.
That Evening at Dinner
by David Ferry
Dinner Guest: Me by Langston Hughes
Dinner Guest: Me
I know I am
The Negro Problem
Being wined and dined,
Answering the usual questions
That come to white mind
Which seeks demurely
To Probe in polite way
The why and wherewithal
Of darkness U.S.A.--
Wondering how things got this way
In current democratic night,
Over fraises du bois,
"I'm so ashamed of being white."
The lobster is delicious,
The wine divine,
And center of attention
At the damask table, mine.
To be a Problem on
Park Avenue at eight
Is not so bad.
Solutions to the Problem,
Of course, wait.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
And it was. Now it's Thursday. It seems the post I never made made its way into publication. And for that, I apologize.
Yesterday was a full day, with a friend from two states away coming to visit. We sat by the woodstove and talked and caught up as best as three can, and I broke away into the kitchen, only feet away, to make dinner: roast beef pan-browned with onion and peppercorns, then oven-baked in chicken broth. Very simple. I would however, have added a bay leaf to the pot, and some cloves of garlic, but I was out of garlic (a crime, I know), and didn't want to disturb the conversation by going outside to pick the bay leaf. It was still pretty tasty, in all its simple-ness.
To go with, we had mashed potatoes and oven-baked acorn squash, with a pat of butter added half way through, and a touch of brown sugar on each half, near the end of the baking. And while I created a gravy from the juice of the roast, the asparagus steamed.
> My method for making gravy: Mix melted butter and flour in a measuring cup until well blended. Since I had no fat drippings in the roast pan (having cooked it in chicken broth): Add little by little some of the juice from the roast pot, then pour into a warm skillet. I sometimes pour this roux-of-sorts through a strainer in case there are still some solids, and this for me prevents lumps in the gravy. Finish in the pan as normal.
* * *
So while this was going on, the fire was heating the house, it began to rain, and the pumpkin breads cooled on the counter. And a sure-fire method for not-worrying about the doneness of the roast? Sit down to a slide show of a recent Alaska trip/cruise. By then end of that, the asparagus can steam while the potatoes are mashed and the gravy made. The roast was done. We sat down to eat, and the evening was good.
* * *
I said on Facebook yesterday that I need more time. I am becoming antsy about writing more, and am thankful that this year's Poem-A-Day challenge is nearing. The month of November one writes a poem a day - or - by the last day of November, one has a poem for every day of the month. Loosely translated: one might not actually write a poem every day, but one makes up for it on other days. Like Lent, this is incentive to write daily. (I have used Lent as a time to take on daily writing if I haven't been good about it, and the work often draws from what's going on during that time, especially as we head into Holy Week.)
* * *
I didn't post my Wednesday poem, so I'll go looking for one, and it'll show up soon enough. Think of it as a bonus for today, a way to lengthen the love. In my family birthdays are celebrated on the day, but the bigger celebrations were held on Sundays, and sometimes a party on Saturday as well. I think Birthday Week is a better way to handle the situation, making sure you include everyone.
It's fall today, with rain and wind and leaves leaving trees. It's Thursday, and I'm off now to find a poem.
Note: this post is doing double duty, appearing also on Nourishing Words, Beautiful Food.
Monday, October 26, 2009
Here's what this photographer has to say:
Billy Collins at D.G. Wills
Poetry Reading at D.G. Wills Books - La Jolla, CA - October 19, 2008
Here's an article in today's paper about how Dennis was able to talk Billy Collins into coming to the bookstore:
Sunday, October 25, 2009
"19th century --- Chromolithograph of Lord Byron --- Image by © Chris Hellier/Corbis"
And from Wordsmith: A Word A Day
This week's theme
This week's words:
with Anu Garg
"Proper names that have become improper and uncommonly common" is how the author Willard R. Espy described eponyms, and that is the theme for this week's words in AWAD: words coined after people's names.
We are going to meet a poet, a novelist, a prophet, a statesman, and a legislator. They wrote poems, novels, holy books, political treatises, and laws.
In our quest for eponyms, we are going to visit England, Persia, Italy, and Greece. All aboard!
adjective: One who is melancholic, passionate, and melodramatic, and disregards societal norms.
After poet Lord Byron (1788-1824), who displayed such characteristics, as did his poetry, i.e. a flawed character marked by great passion who exhibits disrespect for social institutions and is self-destructive.
A little-known fact: He was the father of Ada Lovelace, today known as the first computer programmer, who wrote programs for Charles Babbage's analytical engine.
"Zenovich casts [movie director Roman] Polanski, whose face repeatedly fills the screen with a Byronic luminosity, as a tragic figure, a child survivor of the Holocaust haunted by the murder of his wife, the actress Sharon Tate, at the hands of the Manson family."
Bill Wyman; Whitewashing Roman Polanski; Salon (New York); Feb 19, 2009.
"Laurie may have his pet theories as to why [Gregory] House-the-character has become a cult -- the damaged, Byronic genius/healer who can say the unsayable and (almost always) get away with it."
Stuart Husband; Hugh Laurie Interview; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Jun 3, 2009.
A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts. -Khalil Gibran, mystic, poet, and artist (1883-1931)
Too Much Information/Too Many Ingredients or, Of Viruses and Apple Chutney or, I'm Baaack in the Kitchen Agaaain
Mostly because of all of this business surrounding the swine flu, or H1N1, as we are calling it in effort at political correctness. My son has diabetes, and I have asthma, so neither of us can be vaccinated until the shots become available. Reason: the flu mist contains live virus, and the shot form, the killed virus. What with all of the news and hubbub these days, I think we probably all know that.
So, the two of us elected to miss a Halloween dress-up/local band party last night. I don't know who was the more disappointed, but after DH pointed out that 90 % of people showing up in local clinics of late are there because of this virus. And I concluded that if anything were to happen to DS, I'd never forgive myself. We stayed home - DS, to watch the newly released dvd of Transformers, and me, to can chutney with a friend.
So, this canning thing. It started out as an innocent endeavor, somewhere around 1:30 or 2 in the afternoon. I'd made some Indian Apple Chutney two weekends before, and all went quite well. DF and I tried a new recipe yesterday - this one with tomato paste in it. While I sliced cucumbers to make a quite batch of dill pickles, DF prepared the ingredients for the chutney.
The pickling went very well, except for the fact that I needed to make a touch more syrup to complete a 6th jar, but no matter. They look great, with one grape leaf at the bottom, one clove of garlic and teaspoon of dill seeds (I'd forgotten the dill heads and the Missouri Health Extensions said this was a doable substitute: 3 tsp. dill seeds to 3 heads of fresh dill).
Once I was in the canning stages, DF headed home briefly to let the dogs run. When she came back, I'd dumped the cut and chopped ingredients into the pot and was moving on to adding the liquids.
I love looking at the mixture of apples, garlic, onions, raisins and spices in the pot before it cooks. Fresh and vibrant. Then the softening phase, where the liquids begin to be absorbed, the apples release their juices, the raisins plump. There is nothing like the pungent scent of chutney in progress, vinegar, tomato paste, sugar and spices filling the kitchen, the living room, the upstairs hallway. Even our bedroom.
The chutney continued to cook, but lo and behold, it was too watery. It didn't seem to be thickening the way a good chutney should. So, we let it simmer while we cooked chicken curry (which we sat down to eat with spaghetti squash and cucumber salad). And when we were done, the dishes still on the table, we checked the chutney pot to find it still not thickened, the fruit softening beyond the the chunky stage. In an effort to coax it into shape, we busily chopped more apples, added more onions and raisins. DF needed to return home to care for her dogs, and I said not to worry - I was sure the chutney was just about ready to can.
After she left, I added more apples from my crisper (where we store the Liberties from our tree). Now the mix of apples was more diverse - two or three kinds from her trees, and these Liberties from ours. There was a half onion left, so I added that, and the rest of the tomato paste. Already the (now sauce) was beginning to thicken. I tested for flavor, added more cumin, cayenne, ginger, and another half cup of sugar. At around 9 pm, I pronounced it ready to can.
At 10:17, three batches later, no lids un-sealed, I went to bed. On the counter: 25 containers of chutney: about 32 cups worth.
* * * * *
Really, I *did* have the little jar of applesauce I'd been saving for the vicar on the table. Trouble is, it's still there. Next Sunday! All Saints Day - the day I also need to remember to bring photos of my grandparents to add to the table of those whom it is important never to forget.
* * * * *
This morning at church, I learned that even the regular flu shots are hard to come by. I've had both DD and DS vaccinated, just not myself and DH. And as I type, my skin is prickling, DS is very tired (with a high glucose reading), and DD is wiped out and feeling crummy, too. DH appears to be fine, knock on wood.
This morning at church, I also had some of the best brownies I've had in a long time. At coffee hour, I made it my mission to track down the baker and interrogate her until I wrested the recipe from her. It was actually a lot easier than all that. I found her in the kitchen, the empty (and quite large) platter awaiting washing. She confessed she used a Ghirardelli brownie *mix* and topped them with a simple butter and cocoa icing (homemade). We agreed that when using good chocolate, you can't go too wrong, and these are very very heavenly. Oh, and I should mention that this dear baker added a little bit of cinnamon to her icing, which made them all the more special.
* * * * *
I swore today was going to be a writing day. A reading day. But it has been more of a trouble-shooting day. A day to listen, a day to figure out why, after downloading and installing both Photoshop CS3 and CS4 neither of them want to cooperate. Is it a Snow Leopard thing? First, CS3 refused to open, and then, when we tried installing the trial version of CS4, it didn't like the photos we tried dropping into it. To make a long and boring story short, I'm waiting for an answer from the folks I *bought* CS3 from, and DS finally did get something usable from CS4.
Tomorrow, after work, I am determined to do a little writing/revising. Maybe something about chutney, about pickles brining in dill and grape leaves. Nothing whatsoever about Photoshop woes, and definitely not a word about H1N1.
I'll let you know how that goes.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
In order for me to change the new title of this blog to "Portrait of a Poet," I've got to write more regularly. At least, that's how I see it. And as I'm in front of a computer screen often, what better way to transfer my energies from unimportant tasks than to take a few moments to toss a few words in this direction. Right?
So friends, if you find that I don't visit at least twice a week, feel free to remind me gently that I'm not holding up my bit of the bargain. I'll be happy to do the same for you. Just let me know.
Much love, and a blueberry~
From AGNI online:
Love Poem for Wednesday
You’re the day after Tuesday, before eternity.
You’re the day we ran out of tomatoes
and used tiny packets of ketchup instead.
You are salt, no salt, too much salt, a hangover.
You hold the breath of an abandoned cave.
Sometimes you surprise me with your
aurora borealis and I’ll pull over to watch you;
I’ll wait in the dark shivering fields of you.
But mostly, not. My students don’t care for you
or your lessons from the life of a minor god.
Can you hit the high C in our anthem?
Can you bench press a national disaster?
I fear for you, Wednesday. Your papers
are never in order. Your boots track in mud.
You’re the day I realized I didn’t even like him,
and the day I still said yes, yes, yes.
Sometimes I think you and I should elope,
and leave this house of cards to shuffle itself.
You are love, no love, too much love, a cuckold.
You are the loneliest of the three bears, hoping
to come home and find someone in your bed.
* * *
This morning, at 6:50 am, I turned off the alarm. My good intentions of getting to bed early so as to wake up fresh aren't working. Something (PBS's Latin Music USA, a sink full of dirty dishes, a good book of poetry) always seems to lure me into the depths of the eleven-o'clock hour, and the next thing I know, it's morning.
A rainy morning, not too dark, and still full of color. I know the winds are coming and the trees won't be able to hold on to their true colors for very much longer.
Which is probably a good thing.
It seems that now it's all I can do to stay on the road properly when I'm driving. Savage Plants, a nursery near our home, has the most amazing row of trees that glow crimson in any weather, and I'm not altogether sure why more accidents don't occur on our road this time of year. The reader board for Savage reads : "They are Fairview Flame Maples, and yes, we have them." I tell you, a row of these will pretty much knock your socks off.
So, I'm the deer in the headlights these days, the love-crazed possum crossing the road, the crazy hair woman who's realized she's left the house without checking her tresses before going public, one hand on the steering wheel and aiming a camera out a rain-soaked window on the way back from school. . .
It's time to write a poem.