Here’s that rainy day

Finally! This song has been happily playing in my head, sung by my favorite jazz singer, Molly Holm. You can’t hear a recording of her doing it, but you can hear Rosemary Clooney sing it.

tumblr_lckuc65Fei1qbyf2jo1_1280Meanwhile, we’re in Calistoga, where we spent the night, about to take a mud bath. Ever done it? It’s a unique experience, sort of like floating in warm chocolate pudding, and a delicious rainy day experience.

I’ve been reading Keats’ selected letters, and have a few gems for you:

“An extensive knowledge is needful to thinking people–it takes away the heat and fever, and helps, by widening speculation, to ease the Burden of the Mystery…

…axioms in philosophy are not axioms until proved upon our pulses. We read fine things but never feel them to the full until we have gone the same steps as the Author.”

These excerpts from a letter almost 200 years old seem more vibrant to me today as any contemporary tweet!

If you want to try some poetry by Keats, I recommend “To Autumn,” “Ode to a Grecian Urn,” and “La belle dame sans merci,” for starters.

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Here’s an odd little poem I came across:


We know there must be consciousness in things,

In bits of gravel pecked up by a hen

To grind inside her crop, and spider silk

Just as it hardens stickily in air,

And even those things paralyzed in place,

The wall brick, the hat peg, the steel beam

Inside the skyscraper, and lost, forgotten,

And buried in ancient tombs, the toys and games,

Those starry jacks, those knucklebones of glass

Meant for the dead to play with, toss and catch

Back of the hand and read the patterns of,

Diversions to beguile the endless time,

Never to be picked up again…They’re thinking,

Surely, all of them. They are lost in thought.


Mark Jarman, from To The Green Man, Saraband Books

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A morning in the room of available time

lilaThis morning, I open one of the four books on my desk, Mothers, by Rachel Zucker. I have to read it right away even though I only took it out on Wednesday, because someone at UC requested it and now it’s due Friday.

I drink my organic High Mountain Red Tea and read “I am lame in the memory,” quoted from Jorie Graham quoted from Sylvia Plath, and go downstairs and get Plath’s collected poems and find “Little Fugue,” the poem it was quoted from. Meanwhile, I text back and forth to my granddaughter about the cats. I find this strange photo she made of herself on my phone when I go to text her a picture of the cats eating.cats Continue reading

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A Monday gift


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

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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.”


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Lots of them out there…

Larry Logan_optThis 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.

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Poet, too

225px-Bertolt-BrechtI 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

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Update to the Great Turkey Test

IMG_0208_optBefore 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

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A short poem for Monday

I think of Raymond Carvercarver 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.

Late Fragment

And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
I did.
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.

Raymond Carver

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Je ne suis pas…

unnamedAround 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

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