A day so happy.
Fog lifted early, I worked in the garden.
Hummingbirds were stooping over honeysuckle flowers.
There was no thing on earth I wanted to possess.
I knew no one worth my envying him.
Whatever evil I had suffered, I forgot. Continue reading
This morning Larry was reading about the bribery indictment of New York State Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver–the front page headline in the Times. The lead editorial was “Silver Should Step Down.” Larry’s comment, “He will, for a fee.”
This morning at breakfast I was telling Larry about a terrific new book I just finished (more on that later). I mentioned that I had to look up five words when reading it. My favorite was: tertulia, an informal meeting of people to talk about current affairs, arts, etc.
“I have a good vocabulary. It’s unusual for me to have to look up so many words,” I added.
“Well, there’s a lot of them out there,” he responded.
I think of Bertolt Brecht as a playwright, mostly his collaboration with Kurt Weill and the often performed Threepenny Opera. But he was also a poet, and this poem of his made me laugh as well as think:
The Buddha’s Parable of the Burning House
Gautama the Buddha taught
The doctrine of greed’s wheel to which we are bound, and advised
That we should shed all craving and thus
Undesiring enter the nothingness that he called Nirvana.
Then one day his pupils asked him:
What is it like, this nothingness, Master? Every one of us would
Shed all craving as you advise, but tell us
Whether this nothingness which the we shall enter
Is perhaps like being one with all creation
When you lie in water, your body weightless, at noon,
Unthinking almost, lazily lie in water, or drowse,
Hardly knowing now that you straighten the blanket,
Going down fast–whether this nothingness, then,
Is a happy one of this kind, a pleasant nothingness, or
Whether this nothingness of yours is mere nothing, cold, senseless and void.
Long the Buddha was silent, then said nonchalantly:
There is no answer to your question.
But in the evening, when they had gone,
The Buddha still sat under the bread-fruit tree, and to the others,
Those who had not asked, addressed this parable: Continue reading
Before the New Year, I posted the results of my turkey experiments based on J. Kenji López-Alt’s ideas for spatchcocking and baking stone approaches. But for my last experiment, I combined the baking stone with a method I learned from the late Marshall Harrison, owner and chef of a famed Connecticut steak house (and my cousin by marriage). His method was to put the whole bird on a rack over an inch or two of liquid in a tightly covered pan. The pan should be airtight–or at least have a very tightly fitting lid. I bought a good tight-fitting large roasting pan years ago from a restaurant supply company. You heat the oven to 500 degrees, steam the bird, then turn down to 450 and let it brown. Continue reading
I think of Raymond Carver almost exclusively for his short stories, but he wrote poems, too. If you haven’t read his work, it’s spare–I think the term minimalist was first applied to his work. “Cathedral,” “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love,” are two very famous ones. “One Good Thing” is one of my favorites. And here’s a poem.
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
Around the world but especially in France, people have been holding up signs, Je suis Charlie Hedbo (I am Charlie Hedbo), in a show of solidarity with the cartoonists who were assassinated. Of course, this costs nothing. No one is likely to assassinate them for holding the signs. So here’s my own little anti-terrorist rant…
At the same time of the emergence of these Je suis Charlie Hedbo signs, anti-semitism has been sweeping through Europe (and most especially France) in an alarming way, often under the guise of pro-Palestinian or anti-Israel sentiment. This creates a fertile ground for terrorism. Here’s a quote from the NY Times: “From the immigrant enclaves of the Parisian suburbs to the drizzly bureaucratic city of Brussels to the industrial heartland of Germany, Europe’s old demon returned this summer. “Death to the Jews!” shouted protesters at pro-Palestinian rallies in Belgium and France. “Gas the Jews!” yelled marchers at a similar protest in Germany.”
And here’s one from the Wall St. Journal: “In France, worshipers in a synagogue were surrounded by a howling mob claiming to protest Israeli policy. In Brussels, four people were murdered in the Jewish museum, and a synagogue was firebombed. In London, a major supermarket said that it felt forced to remove kosher food from its shelves for fear that it would incite a riot. A London theater refused to stage a Jewish film festival because the event had received a small grant from the Israeli embassy.” Continue reading
We were gone for part of the holidays, and were lucky to have an expert photographer, Evan Harrar, as a house sitter. He took some photos of the yard and chickens (as well as some stunning bridge and city photos which he will offer for sale).
The garden is full of greens, potatoes, garlic, and fennel, with morning-glory doing what it does (that is, getting out of hand):
We had breakfast this morning right from the garden: Continue reading
I have been going through files, discarding bales of no longer relevant paper, but came across this wonderful short poem by Jim Chapson that seems a good antidote to the fervor of New Year’s resolutions:
What Are You Doing?
Tomorrow you will fall into a pit.
What are you doing today
To prevent this from happening?
Today you are digging the pit,
Today you are covering it with leaves and branches
So tomorrow you can say, “I didn’t know it was there.”
How many self-dug pits have I fallen into in a lifetime? As for Jim, he seems to be gliding above ground in Milwaukee.
I’m going to be busy with family events through New Year’s, so will be taking a break. Update on chickens, garden, poems, on my return. Here is my holiday card, beautifully designed and printed by Lis Rappoport of Littoral Press in Richmond: