an image diary

"And if he left off dreaming about you, where do you suppose you'd be? ... You'd be nowhere. Why, you're only a sort of thing in his dream! If that there King was to wake you'd go out -- bang! -- just like a candle!"

"Hush! You'll be waking him, I'm afraid, if you make so much noise."

"Well it's no use your talking about waking him when you're only one of the things in his dream. You know very well you're not real."

Monday, November 24, 2008

winter break: week one


Princeville, Morning Fog Light


Oh yes I've fallen away, and yes some of that is lack of interest, for what you don't know when making for yourself a notebook anyone can read is that you will prove to be dull four years later, even to yourself, as those things you find most perpetually interesting you wouldn't say in company--and are precisely inappropriate to say in company because they are in fact not true. What is the use of keeping an online notebook, they ask. It keeps you honest, darling, as much as you are capable of being honest anyway. My interior life is full of whining about time and busyness and little injustices and another onset of winter, short days, overcast days, nightfall. Why bother.

To be clear, it turns out I need rest.

Today, from here in the big blue chair in the study, I can see a full square of sunlight draped into a longing narrow stretch over the back of the striped chair in the living room. The red crocheted blanket hangs on the arm. The red fur pillow perches on the other arm. The striped chair is loved.

I would have written about bringing in the container garden and hanging geraniums and daisies in the windows, about my mother sending a set of red pots for my birthday, which I also hung on hooks I stole from the basement, and which have kept me quietly at work in the kitchen making rich warm soups and wishing a little for someone else to feed. I would have written about Romulus vomiting and shitting in the closet, on the rugs in the bathroom, in the kitchen, in the living room entryway, almost daily, several times a day, for the last two weeks as he suffered some illness, and about the frustration of cleaning it up with mounds of paper towels and pairs of latex gloves and orange scented disinfectant, along with his clumps of fur and his litter tracks--which the yellow vacuum refuses to eat--how it overwhelmed what time I had in the house. Or all the new books I taught this term in the Latino literature course, I would have written out my readings, short reviews, little notes to myself to mull over, because the teaching was hard this term, not the least of which involved attempting to make the books palatable to a group of students who found them just barely readable.

But had I written it, the soups would have waited. Teaching the books as well as I could hope would have waited. Photographing the hanging pots for my mother to see would have waited. As it is, when the 12 inch glass lid slid from the dish rack and shattered, breaking the vase and the cobalt blue baking pan, the shards sat on the counter and winked in the sun for five days before I could sweep the mess into the trash.

It's astonishing I keep at this blog at all.


Meanwhile sweet potatoes are 33 cents a pound, so I bought three yesterday, each the size of my balled-up foot, and wrapped one whole in foil this morning with olive oil and cinnamon, skin and all, and put it in the oven for nearly two hours. When I unrolled it from the foil, the skin slid away from the knife and the middle was hot-soft, orange, and meaty. I cut it sweetly in half, and ate half of it this way: a drizzle of olive oil, a tiny crumble of brown sugar and ground nutmeg, a tinier garnish of finely snipped parsley. That was lunch. It would've been as good plain.


More to the point, if you make the awful mistake of also buying the original flavor rotisserie chicken at $4.84, you will get it home to discover it is dry and tough and too salty to eat, as if the guy behind the deli case was making jerky. Which is a crying shame because I would've thrown it out or made a phone call to the deli for an exchange or a return or whatever you do in this situation ("here: you eat it"), but you can't get back what the chicken gave up. It's not five bucks we're talking about. It's a chicken.

So while the sweet potato was yamming in the oven, I pulled the sad chicken from the fridge and put it into the red stock pot with water to the brim and squeezed two full lemons into it, added oregano and fresh grated ginger, and let it boil into dropping from its bones. I took the bones out and put the meat back into the pot. In a sauce pan I let a cup of white wine cook away with a slurp of olive oil, minced garlic, a mandarin orange, a cup of apple cider, a quarter of a diced onion, and a Granny Smith apple which I mashed into the mix after removing the orange slices. When the reduction was all soft and pulpy I poured it into my stock and let it simmer. I pulled out three quart-sized freezer bowls and filled each one half full of hot chicken stock. I filled the other half with water to balance the concentrate. I let the bowls cool and put them into the freezer.


Thus endeth the first day.


"and what is the use of a book...without pictures or conversations?"

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