Thursday, February 28, 2008

Not merely Formal Evening Event but
Black Tie Formal. Oh.
There will be gowns, ie, Cinderella.
Organza, tulle, taffeta, silk:
all those sumptuous fabric words.
Where do I order a pumpkin carriage?
From Catherine Reynolds' Spanish Table Newsletter:

Jamon Iberico's simply amazing. For one, it's got a gorgeous mahogany color that immediately sets it apart from jamon serrano. These pigs have lived the good life. On the approach to your salivating palate you'll notice wondrous nutty aromas even though these aren't the true acorn-fed bellota pigs, but you would think these swine dine exclusively on Marcona almonds. This is all flavor with no gaminess, meltingly tender as Armandino's culatello, and astoundingly worth every penny. My favorite description came from my co-worker Steven who aptly coined the term, "meat butter".

So get a group of your favorite foodies together to chip in for a tasting--it's not cheap at $30 a quarter lb--or go build yourself the most decadent ham sandwich of your life.

This sure better be worth every penny
of the $120/pound pricetag!!
(We're going to splurge on some this weekend.
I'll keep you posted!)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ah, serendipity: the dress I wanted
(for a formal evening event) DID NOT
cost $200; the price tag impossibly said $69.
Impossible in that it both fit the bill
and looked good. Imagine my surprise
when the clerk rang it up at 50% off -- $34.50!
This pleases me to no end.
Check out Rosanne Olson's new book,
this is who i am, our beauty in all shapes and sizes.
It's hot off the press and I had the pleasure
of skimming through it last night at my writing group.
Rosanne is not only a talented photographer,
she's also a poet. Looking forward to a closer look!
Available at Amazon.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Today is Homemade Turkey Stock Day.
A couple of meaty wings, an onion,
a few celery stalks, a carrot, parsley
sprigs, ten peppercorns, a bay leaf, salt:
heaven simmering in the kitchen.
Especially lovely when spring tempts us
then winter pushes back in. I'll let it
cool, then skim the fat, refrigerate
until tomorrow when I'll strip the meat
from the bones and boil up some eggy pappardelle.
Perhaps a basket of Touch of Grace biscuits too.
Is there any need for anything else?!
(Oh -- butter for the biscuits!)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Found myself with a free block of time
this afternoon, over at my house,
so I decided to grab clippers and tackle
the rampant grape vines. Not dressed for gardening
(black boots, slacks, nice sweater), but ambient enough
outside to shed my jacket, I began by hacking
at the lowest-slung vines, intertwined
with wild clematis and wisteria. Chaos!
Important at this early stage to not look at
the big picture but to focus on just cutting back,
pulling the dry brown strands from the tangle.
The fluff of clematis gone-to-seed
catching in my hair, my sweater.
And what's this? What's this thin crackle
insidiously wound around and around every stem?
The Dreaded Bindweed. Common morning glory.
So, battling four species knitted together.
Clip and clip. Pull. (Some of the grape vines
reach to twenty-four feet.) Clip again.
Finally, the snarl loosens; a framework emerges.
Detritus cast aside. Clarity.
All so that new growth may flourish,
and next winter I may have the privilege
of repeating this exercise.

(Realized, also, how necessary this cutting back,
this making way for what must surge forth
in the warming days.)
Yesterday I discovered that I can walk out the door
and take a forty-minute walk through woods
wedged between apartment complexes and
the behemoth Microsoft. Puddled ponds,
trickling streams, ducks, ferns clinging
to the sides of maples, windfall Doug firs,
cedars. The temperate rainforest
in winter's grey cloak. Nearly nature.
I was out for pussy willows though, and found none.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Roethke, Jive-ized

De Wakin'

I wake t'sleep, and snatch mah' wakin' slow, so cut me some slack, Jack.
I feel mah' fate in whut ah' cannot fear. Ah be baaad...
I learn by goin' where ah' have t'go. 'S coo', bro.

We dink by feelin'. Whut be dere t'know?
I hear mah' bein' boogie fum ear t'ear. Ah be baaad...
I wake t'sleep, and snatch mah' wakin' slow, so cut me some slack, Jack.

Of dose so's close beside me, which is you?
God bless de Ground! Right on! ah' shall walk softly dere,
And learn by goin' where ah' have t'go. 'S coo', bro.

Light snatch'd de Tree; but who kin tell us how?
De lowly wo'm climbs down some windin' stair;
I wake t'sleep, and snatch mah' wakin' slow, so cut me some slack, Jack.

Great Nature gots anoda' din' t'do
To ya' and me, so's snatch de lively air,
And, lovely, learn by goin' where t'go. 'S coo', bro.

Dis shakin' keeps me steady. Slap mah fro! ah' should know, so cut me some slack, Jack.
Whut falls away be always. And be near. Ah be baaad...
I wake t'sleep, and snatch mah' wakin' slow, so cut me some slack, Jack.
I learn by goin' where ah' have t'go. 'S coo', bro.
Finally, my boys came over to dinner, together,
tall, handsome young men that they are! Driving
home last night from work, anticipating their
arrival, I wondered once again how is it
possible that I'm a mother? When did this happen?
When did they grow up? Who have I become?

Driving east over the Floating Bridge the Cascades
and foothills were lit purple by the setting sun,
traffic was easy -- a world contained
in that moment, that thought.

And then in the kitchen, I became aware
of the universe having shifted: now they are guests,
and I'm the hostess/mom (better, I suppose, than hostess/cupcake!).
What a difference a little space makes!
This was no longer a perfunctory friday-night
dinner but an event. Hors d'hoeuvres included.
So much joy in this inevitable movement forward!

My Morning Laugh

Visit this site. You won't be disappointed.
(My favorites are jive and cockney.)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Absolutely The Easiest Scratch Cake

It has turned out to be a Blueberry Poundcake night:

3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup
pinch salt
3/4 cup blueberries, tossed with a handful of flour

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and beat well.
Add flour and salt, mix well, then fold in blueberries.
The recipe calls for a 10" springform pan,
which would be too large, I think. And lacking
that (at other house!) I just used an 8" square
pyrex pan -- not as pretty, but turned out
and dusted with powdered sugar, I don't think
anyone will turn it down because of its right angles.

Almost forgot: bake at 325 degree for 45-60 minutes.
Tonight may just be an Apple Pie Night.
My secret: use half goldens, half Granny Smith.
Cinnamon only. (No other spices.) All butter crust.
No substitutions allowed. Can't go wrong.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

No Penance

I'd bet money that I'm the only poet
in North America who did not watch
last night's lunar eclipse. Instead
I opted for Project Runway at ten,
then cozied myself between the sheets
for some semi-trashy reading (Spending,
by Mary Gordon). Alas.
I wonder if there's a special confessional
just for Bad Poets. (I wouldn't go.)

I was a bad Girl Scout. In fact, my deceased troop leader
still owes me badges. We argued
(in grade five, mind you) about some protocol
in documenting the badge-earning process.
She made up her own rules and expected us
to abide by them. And the only graffiti
I ever did was during a scouting weekend
at Camp River Ranch in Carnation,
on the canvas walls of our covered-wagon "cabin."
Used a permanent marker -- don't remember what
I wrote -- and someone told on us. Bleach
was not much help removing it! Victory!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Just discovered a great website that's an online
personal food diary, nutrition tracker and exercise log
all in one. Calories in, calories out. I've always
resisted keeping a food diary just because it's so
time consuming, and so what -- it's just a list.
But this site instantly breaks down your latest
consumption into fat/protein/carbs/sodium, etc.
There is a little bit of work involved,
especially for those of us who cook from scratch.
This involves entering the recipe (recipe? People
use recipes?!) into their database, which then
converts to pertinent info. per serving.
Very easy if you're a brand-name shopper
or eat at chains. (Not me.) But once you mess around
with the site a bit, it's easy to make-do.
For $9/ month, it's worth it. And think of all the
calories you burn just entering all those recipes!
And two days into it, I can honestly say I'm hooked.
(Had only a 1/2 cookie after dinner. Only 35 calories.
Still under my daily limit.)
My cat weighs three pounds.
Check out The Carnality of Food on Killiansaid.
(Scroll down to the February 18th post.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gotta love that internet. One of yesterday's
submissions was via e'mail, and lo and behold
there was an acceptance waiting in my in-box
this morning for not one but two -- yes two --
poems! A new magazine -- Motel 58.
I guess that secretary-role-playing pays off!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Four packets of poetry in the mail for today.
The dreaded job. I've never been anyone's
secretary because I WOULD MAKE A BAD SECRETARY.
Too much paper shifting and file attaching
and save as and printing and stamping.
Etc., etc., etc.

Some new reality shows I've been contemplating:

Who Wants to be a Poet?
Project Poet
America's Next Top Poet
Dancing with the Poets

perfectly possible potential. Ponder it.
I had my assessment at the gym today
and while I'm off the charts in the upper body
strength category AND apparently have grown an inch
(thanks to two years of yoga and better posture)
I have to conclude that THE SCALE AT THE PRO CLUB IS EVIL.
It's back to eat less and exercise more. Boo.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Years and years ago, perhaps I was six or seven,
I had an abrasion of some sort on my leg
which I fidgeted over, didn't let nature
do its timely healing. I showed it to my sister P.,
who had a scientific, doctorly bent to her,
and upon examination, she stated with assurance,
Yes, it's leprosy.

Leprosy! Horrors! I was too shocked to let anyone else
in on this frightening "fact." I recall losing sleep
over this accumulation of ragged cells above
my ankle, in constant fear of loss of ear/nose/foot.
(I never considered the possibility, at that young age,
that I might be transmitting this disease to my family.
Ah! The self-involvement of youth! If I was going to die
a tragic, agonizing, untimely death, I was going to do it
alone, by gum.) But first I was going to have to endure
banishment and dress in tatters as my skin and bones
left a trail behind every step.

The fears eventually diminished when new symptoms
failed to appear. It had to be at least a year
before this happened, and I began to believe that maybe,
just maybe, P. had been mistaken. I didn't for a moment
believe that my beloved older sister had been
pulling my leg (off!)!
My sister M. sent me an e'mail that said
"Wonder Polenta Recipe" in the info. line.
At first I thought it was a message about
a polka band:
Vic Dogwinkle and the Amazing Wonder Polentas.
Definitely accordian.

But I jest. (Sounds like a great recipe.)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentine pruning: blood-drop
from thorn-ripped skin, and gloves
no help. Dull shears --
a blister threatens. How much to cut?
How much to leave alone?
Every year the same conundrum.
( But each stout hip, the heart
of the matter: relinquished.)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Today, and only today, I am on the
Heart-Shaped-Iced-Sprinkled Cookie Diet.
It's the best diet of the year.
Complete with Red Dye #40.
And lip-shaped sprinkles.
Hee haw.
If you come to my house
I will give you some. Hurry.
Chocolate heart.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A few years ago on Valentine's Day I gave a poetry reading,
and decided to read any poems I had containing the word "love."
Thinking it might be perhaps two, or three, I scanned through
a lot of work, and found I think at least a dozen poems --
love indeed, but none of it sentimental, or easy.
This was love of the fractured cardiac variety,
or of skimpy proportions, eked out. Nothing
lavish, lace-bejeweled or chocolate-dipped.
Raw-edged, crushed, minced.
Propped with a kickstand
smack-dab middle of a dark road.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

(Trying desperately not to write about the weather
or what I had for dinner. When cavemen-and-women
blogged (on their cave walls) did they draw
pictures of mastadons roasting on a spit?)

Looked at a house high up the slope above Leschi
today, on a dead end, on a 9,000 sq.ft. lot.
Very cabin'o'the'San'Juans, musty, drafty,
lots of (leaky) windows, greying cedar shingles,
charming as a ($$$$) vacation home, probably.
It didn't feel substantial enough for everyday
living, if that makes sense. Something
was atilt, perhaps the foundation. I mean,
I kept looking over my shoulder for the goats
and chickens. The ox, even. (Not that I have
anything against goats, chickens and oxen.)
It's just that it felt lonely and remote: Road's End.
And a goat, a few chickens and an ox or two
would've cozied it up a bit.
If I lived there I would name it The Hermitage.
Winter trudges on. I'd much prefer
endless days of rain upon rain
than this unceasing grey. I'm in love
with the notion, the fact of water
falling from the sky. When it freezes
and we are blessed (yes, blessed) with hail
I am enraptured. What was that the priest
did with his censer at benediction?
Incense, holy water, holy smoke.
A blessing. A part of Catholicism
I won't reject.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Oops.....what I meant to say in my previous post is
when the time comes that I breathe my last breath....
Not anytime soon, with any luck!
Just getting ducks in a row. I mean cakes.
In case anyone wonders.

As I breathe my last breath
I want a piece of chocolate cake
and a sip of champagne to pass my lips.
(Have I already written this?!)
And not just any chocolate cake,
and not Cold Duck.
Two cake recipes (yes, homemade) are acceptable;
one recipe is below, the other is in my private cookbook.
The champagne sure as hell better be French.
High heels are optional.
As per request:

Devil Dog Cake
--from February Gourmet

2 cups flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/4 tsps. baking soda
3/4 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 cubes) butter, softened
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/3 cups water
1 tsp. vanilla

350 degree oven. Butter and flour
(I use parchment) 8" square cake pan.
Whisk together dry ingredients.
Cream butter and sugar, add eggs, then vanilla.
Add water alternately with flour mixture
to creamed butter mixture. Pour into
prepared pan, bake 45-60 minutes.
Cool; turn out onto cake plate.

Seven Minute Icing

--from Joy of Cooking, adapted by T.

5 T. water
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1-1/3 cups sugar
2 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 tbsp. dark corn syrup

In top of double boiler set over simmering water,
combine all ingredients. Beat with electric mixer
for seven minutes, until mixture thickens
and triples (at least) in volume.
Remove from heat, continue to beat
until it starts to cool and is thick enough
to spread. Add vanilla. Ice cake. Eat. All of it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

P. and I hosted our first dinner party
as a married couple last night. Post caucus
I ascended into cooking heaven and whipped
up pizza (three varieties) a chopped salad
(sparkling with color!) and a single-layer
dense, buttery chocolate cake piled high
with seven-minute icing and a dusting
of cocoa powder. We tried some sparkling
shiraz (a gift from ? I don't know)
which was less, much less than a hit.
(I poured it down the drain.) We also
opened a bottle of '94 Cab. Sauv. that Paul
had stashed away, forgotten, in a cupboard.
(We poured that down our throats.)
Candlelight, Michael Feinstein singing
pop and film standards (on the iPod, not live.)
Now here's something interesting for you foodies:
the icing recipe called for 1 tablespoon
light corn syrup, which I thought I had.
Well, I had dark corn syrup, which I substituted.
Amazing, subtle taste shift! It didn't affect
the lovely white color of the icing at all,
and there was just a hint of more complex flavor,
a je ne sais quoi (except I knew
what the quoi was) which only added to the perfection
that is Seven Minute Icing.
Three posts in a row with a political theme:
I am married to a man who is passionate
about politics. It's catching, a little bit.
So, my first caucus yesterday,
and what a first it was: people lined up
outside Whitworth Elementary, my people,
out to do the right thing. Whoooo-eeee!
And to quote my friend Cz,
"The number of people roaming Capital Hill
just prior to caucus was astounding…
like a happy earthquake just happened,
or something prophetic enough
to put ‘em all on the street."
Some complained at the chaos, but it felt like
the way democracy should be: visceral, gritty,
people elbow-to-elbow, people close enough to each other
so that you could feel the living, breathing body
of your fellow democrats, as opposed to a paper,
mailed-in ballot. Of the people, by the people.
The beating hearts of people. People sick to death
of deceit, war, dishonesty, apathy. I saw more hope
in the faces of my neighbors yesterday than I've
seen in many years. This was true community.
The icing on the cake was when Reilly
raised his hand to be a delegate!
Go Reilly! Go Barack!

Friday, February 8, 2008


Tried to get close enough to Key Arena today
to attend the Obama rally and couldn't manage
to break through the backed-up traffic of 17,000 people
and gave up, finally. Watched it on TV at work.
My younger son, however, arrived late
and managed to gain entry because he knew
someone working security. Go figure.

(Winter rain, unrelenting.
The interminable dark.)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Barack Obama is in Seattle Friday morning
and you can sign up to attend his rally here.
(If you're of the Obama persuasion.)
I've just this week leapt into his camp.
Not that I leapt out of Hillary's camp;
I believe both candidates are intelligent,
capable, articulate and compassionate.
But a comment from an elderly black woman voter
from Georgia pushed me to Barack's side --
I can't find the exact quote (from All Things
Considered on NPR) but essentially she said
(when exit-polled) that she was so delighted
to have the opportunity to vote for a woman,
but as she probably won't be alive for another
presidential election, how could she turn down
the opportunity to vote for a black....

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Chicken tagine tonight, recipe from the February
issue of Gourmet. Cinnamon stick, turmeric,
pine nuts, saffron. The kitchen smells like sun,
which is good because there's little of it
these days. The airwaves are ablaze with candidates,
maps of the country with varying colors
alternately lighting up. God I love the scent
of freshly chopped cilantro.
It's dead-on winter and often in winter
there are just no words at all.

Dreamed last night of a large grey
fur-covered bird (no feathers) who
was wearing a collar and license.
Perhaps a desire on my part
for flying felines?

I bench pressed 65#'s yesterday
and when I told my oldest son, he was amused.
He told me that in high school
he topped out at 185# (in the bench press).
Well. Teenage boys.

The PI published Paul's letter to the editor
today. (Scroll down to "Peace and prosperity
are significant achievements.")

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Today we took Flat Stanley on a tour of Seattle,
upon request of Paul's nephew Bobby from Fort Worth.
Stanley went first to Microsoft, then traveled
to visit the Fremont troll. Next stop was Archie McPhee,
the Space Needle, and EMP. He was photographed
with the Pike Place Market pig, on the ice
with king salmon, in a pile of fresh oranges,
and with a Washington State Ferry in the background.
Lastly he sat at the base of the Tsutakawa mitt
at Safeco Field. Phew! Flat Stanley kept us running!
Tourists in our own city! We mixed in a few
townhome viewings (all thumbs down) and lunch
at a sports bar where we did not have the $22
everything-on-it Kobe beef burger.
I am very tired of Flat Stanley and want Paul
to take a photograph of me setting F.S. afire,
which we will not send to the nephew.
This old man, he played one,
he played knick-knack on my thumb
with a knick-knack paddy-whack
give a dog a bone,
this old man came rolling home.

We sang this at work yesterday,
up to the number ten.
G. said that this rhyme creeped her out
when she was a child, made her scream.
Said she didn't want any old man
playing knick-knack on any part of her.
Max said, "What's with the old man rolling home?"

I couldn't find any definitive origin
of this nursery rhyme. We used to sing
it holding two spoons together back-to-back,
plunked against the thigh.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Some poem titles:

The Man I Lost in My Bedroom
Squid Proportions
Living in the Heart

(No poems, only titles.)