Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Will spring return?

God, Facebook. Years now since I've looked at it, but I'm big with this universal theme, the possibility of spring. We've all sometimes given up hope during this endless winter, though we know how dangerous that is. Without hope for spring it's as if we're in some circle of Dante's Inferno -- an eternal winter, eternal hopelessness. Icicles dangling from the tip of your nose, eyelids frozen together, toes perpetually falling off from frostbite. Something like the killzone on Everest. For me the best part of spring is the signs. I have to stretch my neck to see the patch of snow in a neighbor's yard, and the patch is pathetic. Driving by the carwash, I saw a dozen cars lined up, expressive as the return of migrating birds. Any day now I'll hear the first motorcycle. But the major indicators for me are the buds on my naked Japanese maple. All winter the hard knots of winter buds looked frozen solid, coiled as if they'd never uncoil again. I don't know exactly what modicum of life goes on in those hard coils, just that it's hunkered down as tight as life can be. That tree's my window tree, the one I look at when I'm working at the computer. I take it in many times each day. And this mild morning I'm almost sure I see "it' -- not so much a greening as a faint golding ("nature's first green is gold," as Robert Frost said). It's like the moment when you look at a woman in a certain way and she returns that look. Yes, it will be, it will be.

Monday, February 21, 2011

How Tolstoy First Conceived of Anna Karenina, as told to Vladimir K. Istomin

I was once lying on this divan exactly as I am now, in this very room after dinner. Then too there was twilight. I was tired and fighting sleep when all of a sudden a naked female elbow appeared in front of my eyes. I, unintentionally, began to look at it more closely. The elbow reappeared and before my eyes it gradually assumed the shape of a bare necked woman in fabulous ballroom attire. Her face was beautiful and she was looking at me with her pensive and suffering eyes. It seemed to me then that I could not tear myself away from this apparition for a long time. Finally it disappeared in the same way as it had appeared. But ever since then it never left me. I carried the image in my soul, had silent conversations with it and without realizing it, I discovered its secret. From then was born a burning desire to reveal this secret and I could find no peace until I got down to it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Modern times

Yesterday I called them to straighten something out. Their machine immediately told me how proud they were to serve me, then put me on a five minute hold. During the five minutes they renewed their welcome every thirty seconds or so. At the end of that time they switched me to another program asking how much I loved the service. After telling them insofar as their questions allowed how I didn't love it at all the line went dead. Five minutes invested in banging my head against a stone wall. Ah, modern timnes.

Bon app├ętit

Did you read Calvin Trillin's recent piece on Mosca's restaurant, outside New Orleans. Here are some of the dishes he savored.



Shrimp Mosca
Serves two to four


Ingredients
2 lbs. large, whole fresh shrimp
¾ cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. rosemary
3 bay leaves
6-10 cloves unpeeled garlic, mashed
½ cup dry white wine
Procedures
1. Place all ingredients except wine into a large skillet.
2. Cook over medium-high heat for fifteen to twenty minutes or until the shrimp are pink and the liquid produced by the shrimp has almost completely disappeared.
3. Stir occasionally.
4. Reduce the heat and add the wine.
5. Cook at a low simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about five to seven minutes.
6. Serve the shrimp hot with the pan juices.


Chicken a la Grande
Serves two to four


Ingredients
3-lb. chicken, cut into eighths
¾ cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
6-10 cloves unpeeled garlic, mashed
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. oregano
½ cup dry white wine
Procedures
1. Heat olive oil in large skillet until hot.
2. Add chicken pieces.
3. Turn chicken often, cooking until browned.
4. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
5. Add garlic, rosemary, and oregano, stirring to distribute seasonings.
6. Pour the white over the chicken and simmer until the wine is reduce by half.
7. Serve chicken hot with pan juices.

Chicken Cacciatore
Serves two to four

Ingredients
3 lb. chicken cut into eighths
¾ cup olive oil
1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
6-10 cloves unpeeled garlic, mashed
1 tsp. rosemary
1 tsp. oregano
½ cup dry white wine
1 ½ cup tomato sauce
Salt to taste
Procedures
1. Heat olive oil in large skillet until hot.
2. Add chicken pieces.
3. Turn chicken often, cooking until browned.
4. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.
5. Add garlic, rosemary, and oregano, stirring to distribute seasonings.
6. Remove the pan from the stove; pour the wine over the chicken.
7. Add the tomato sauce.
8. Return to heat.
9. Simmer ten to fifteen minutes until wine and tomato sauce has blended and thickened.

Roasted Potatoes
Serves six

Ingredients
7-8 peeled potatoes, halved
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. rosemary
½ cup chopped onion
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup olive oil
½ cup dry white wine
2 cups water
Procedures
1. Place potatoes in eight-inch-square baking dish. Sprinkle salt, pepper, oregano, rosemary, and onion over potatoes.
2. Add crushed garlic.
3. Pour olive oil, wine and water over top of potatoes.
4. Cover baking dish with foil.
5. Place in 450-degree oven for one hour.
6. Remove foil and bake another thirty minutes or until brown.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Motion and Stillness

Last few days rabidly social: two book signings, Grace Paley annual reading, Bagel Bards, evening with Brooklkine poet friends. Next Monday we head up to the Adirondacks for a Christmas week. Almost always, as I step out of the car I feel layers of tension melt away. Ah, a life of just looking around at snow in trees, mountains coming in and out of clouds, snow falling, the excellent company of my sister-in-law, who is the very spirit of the mountains.

Off the Grid matters move like a string of train cars in a switching yard -- a few steps forward, a few back, big clanks, big silences in between. We're still short the money we need to launch the contest, and every week the complications of the project reveal themselves. But I still expect to announce our contest this spring. I'm very set on building something tht, if anything is, might still be around in another ten years.

Bright moments: how alive Grace remains in her work. And, ah, scenes, inhaling their neighbor's honey-cured bacon through a hole in the wall, making her scatter breakfast with Bob "more grand."

Listening to a former president of Smith introduce the reading by our friend (and OTG board member) Gwen Jensen-- and find her so down to earth. And Keven Bowen's easy, egoless eloquence in his intro to the Payley reading. And hearing Gwen read from poems in which Tam was deeply involved, and Allen West, our most recent OTG poet, read poems that Tam and I saw through to a book.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Miracle Cure

I've been coughing and hawking since the end of a three-week cold. This morning I drank a tsp of honey and three tbsps of cider vinegar. Viva la difference!