1. You know how it is. You stumble out of bed, reach for your phone, turn on the TV, or if you’re old school, check the headlines on the front page. There is this urge to find out if the world is still intact.
Even though you don’t want to, you check Twitter. Which of our allies has been insulted by the highest office in the land? Who’s been given a new nickname and attacked? What lies have been told?
Mornings are hard enough, but all this is . . . unbearable and demoralizing. For survival sake, we all need a little levity. Why drink your first cup of java in a ho-hum mug when you can brace up, smile, and be a little naughty? 🙂
Check out the cool camping mugs at pnwenamelco (Pacific Northwest Enamel Company). I love owner and designer Karen Simpson’s irreverence! Political humor not your style? She’s got designs for outdoor lovers, nerds, Harry Potter fans and more. These make a fun novelty gift, or if you’re in the mood, treat yourself! Nephew cracked a rare smile when he received the Covfefe mug for his birthday last summer . . .
2. So, as the joke goes, “How do you like your eggs?” Answer: “In cake.” 😀
But if you’re Michele Baldini, your answer would probably be, “Fried up as a work of art.” The 20-year-old medical student from Mexico makes breakfast magic with his eggstraordinary yolk and white creations.
Using a plain black frying pan as his canvas, he’s done people, a little Van Gogh, countries, animals, symbols, whatever comes to mind.
His wolf howling at the moon is a fan favorite, but I’m quite partial to the kitty face. Wonder how many yolks he’s broken in the process? Lots more at Michele’s Instagram, “The Eggshibit.”Omelet you go now . . . 😀
“This isn’t spaghetti,” my daughter says loudly to the waiter who is pouring the first taste of a fifty-dollar bottle of wine for our host.
And I have to agree. Take me back
to when I hadn’t discovered
sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil
and angel-hair pasta.
Hadn’t begun to refine my pork roast past,
or stay cool within my nodding circle
of low cholesterol friends.
I’ve learned the best restaurants,
sigh at the price of saffron,
accept only thin buttery lettuce.
Why should I shun the diner’s stout coffee
and mashed potatoes from a box,
and frequent instead the new coffee bar
with raspberry flavour and mocha and Java,
those little brittle Italian breads,
My mom made sauce
red and sweet from cans of Contadina
and spread it out, ladled it out
on thick, straight spaghetti noodles.
Not one of us said, “Pasta.”
She made meatloaf and potatoes,
used garlic salt in plastic shakers,
served fluffy, white bread,
the kind that stuck in wads
to the roof of my mouth.
Big meals in big pots
served over the counter,
fat meatballs, mostly bread.
This was food, quick, filling,
not savored. Our due.
We held up our plates
for mom to fill once more
before we abandoned the table
for the urgent games of dusk,
hide and seek, and pick-up basketball
under the street light.
My daughter knows
the emperor has no clothes,
and for fifteen dollars an entree,
we should recognize the sauce.
The richness of our need,
the effortless nature of eating what could fill,
where is it?
I will listen to my daughter,
join her disdain for spaghetti
that is not spaghetti.
My life is a closed circle
the love of meatballs always on the periphery.
You want some now, don’t you? Well, here you go. Help yourself!
This poem got me thinking about how complicated eating has become. We didn’t have “pasta” growing up, just good old spaghetti. Remember when it was either white bread or brown bread, instead of whole grain, multigrain, seven grain, cracked wheat, honey wheat, German dark wheat, oatmeal, fifteen grain, with or without seeds?
Just like designer clothes, there’s designer food. Cool people only eat eggs laid by liberated chickens, drink water bottled in France, and swear by “non-GMO,” “organic,” “grass-fed,” “sustainable,” “100% natural.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all on the side of healthy eating, being kind to the planet, and I know first hand about food allergies. I just wonder about people who go “gluten free” not from necessity, but fad. These days, it’s even hard to invite people over — everyone’s on some kind of “special diet”: lowfat, vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, no artificial colors or preservatives, paleo, low carb, low calorie, low (or no) sugar. Sigh.
How I yearn for simpler times! I don’t want to worry about whether what I’m eating is politically correct, nor do I want to pay a fortune for three teensy but artfully arranged slices of tenderloin on a sleek white plate in a fancy restaurant. I don’t want to fall into the “food as status symbol” trap.
Just give me comfort food, plain and simple, preferably prepared by my mother. Her spaghetti rates pretty high on my list. She never used a recipe for her sauce, and it came out a little different each time. But it always tasted so good. After all, the best spice for any dish is love.
Speaking of spaghetti, I do believe it’s the great equalizer. Whether you’re young or old, rich or poor, spaghetti always hits the spot and takes you right back. Just ask these folks:
What’s the best spaghetti you’ve ever had? 🙂
The wonderful and talented Jone MacCulloch is hosting the Roundup at Check It Out. Noodle on over to view the complete menu of poetic goodness being served up in the blogosphere this week. Are you eating spaghetti this weekend? 🙂
“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.” ~ Lucy Maud Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables)
Have you ever noticed how often the characters in Anne of Green Gablestake tea? Apparently it’s the drink consumed most often in the Anne series, with cake and pie topping the list of foods. Of course there’s also apples, preserves (cherry, blue plum, crab apple, strawberry), biscuits, cookies, puddings, taffy and chocolate caramels. Is it any wonder I want to live in these books? 🙂
We had an elegant tea. Mrs. Barry had the very best china set out, Marilla, just as if I was real company. I can’t tell you what a thrill it gave me. Nobody ever used their very best china on my account before. And we had fruit cake and pound cake and doughnuts and two kinds of preserves, Marilla. And Mrs. Barry asked me if I took tea and said, ‘Pa, why don’t you pass the biscuits to Anne?’ It must be lovely to be grown up, Marilla, when just being treated as if you were is so nice.
For some reason I didn’t read Anne of Green Gables until I was an adult — and not until after I had seen the 1985 television series with Megan Follows as Anne. I immediately inhaled all the Anne books, wishing Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert would adopt me, and that I could have a bosom friend like Diana Barry and a dreamy admirer like Gilbert Blythe. I could picture myself sitting at the Cuthbert kitchen table, pouring from the brown teapot, buttering thick slices of homemade bread, and trying to make conversation with shy Matthew.
Last Fall, when the revised and expanded edition of The Anne of Green Gables Cookbook came out, I decided to reread the original novel, which in turn aroused my curiosity about Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery.
What an exciting day for fans of children’s and young adult literature and media!
The 2018 Youth Media Awards were announced this morning at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver, Colorado. This was the first time in recent memory that the conference was held in February instead of January, so the suspense had really been building. Which of our favorite books published in 2017 would join the ranks of the “best of the best,” on their way to becoming modern classics?
“It is interesting to note that poetry, a literary device whose very construct involves the use of words, is itself the word of choice by persons grasping to describe something so beautiful it is marvelously ineffable.” ~ Vanna Bonta
We sometimes hear people say, “words fail me.” Have you ever been stymied trying to write about something you care deeply about, frustrated that everything you come up with falls short?
Whether grief, elation, bafflement, or love — we often fall victim to cliché or manage a fair approximation at best.
In this poem, Jack Gilbert suggests that love — the most intense and wide ranging emotion human beings are capable of experiencing — might be the most challenging to describe in words. It’s ironic how Gilbert acknowledges the imperfection of language with a poem that is perfection in itself. 🙂
THE FORGOTTEN DIALECT OF THE HEART by Jack Gilbert
How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say, God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient tongue
has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind’s labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not a language but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses and birds.
Pittsburgh native Jack Gilbert once described himself as a “serious romantic.” Born four days after Valentine’s Day in 1925, he flunked out of high school but was admitted to the University of Pittsburgh due to a clerical error (yes, really!).
After his first book of poetry, Views of Jeopardy (1962), won the Yale Young Poets Prize and was nominated for a Pulitzer, he became quite the literary and media darling. He did not embrace this role, however, and for most of his life went into self-imposed exile, eschewing fame and traveling around Europe where he sometimes taught American Literature for the U.S. State Department. He would not publish another collection of poetry for twenty years.
Many of his poems are about love and his relationships with specific women. The “Michiko” in “The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart” is the sculptor Michiko Nogami, a former student 21 years his junior, with whom he lived in Japan until she died from cancer at age 36.
The cultural references in the poem, especially the “spiral Minoan script,” reflects Gilbert’s time living in Greece and brought back fond memories of my visits there. The Phaistos Disc in the photos is one of the greatest archaeological mysteries of all time. At least 4,000 years old, it was discovered by an Italian archaeologist in 1908, and people have been trying to decipher its mysterious code ever since.
Recently, after working together for six years, Dr. Gareth Owen (linguist researcher with the Technological Educational Institute of Crete) and John Coleman (phonetics professor at Oxford), figured out what the mysterious language sounded like and what some of it means. Reading in a spiral direction from the outside to the inside, they’ve concluded it’s a prayer to a Minoan goddess.
Because the inscriptions were made by pressing hieroglyphic “seals” into soft clay, producing a text with reusable characters, the Phaistos Disc is considered by some to be a very early example of “movable type printing.” Fascinating!
Jack Gilbert, who published five volumes of poetry, died at age 87 in 2012 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. I love the idea of dreaming about “lost vocabularies that might express some of what we no longer can.” And I am grateful to poets for inventing their own “lost vocabularies,” giving voice to our deepest yearnings.
Enjoy this reading of the poem by Tom O’Bedlam:
How will you express your love this Valentine’s Day?
🎈 CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? GIVEAWAY WINNER! 🎈
Thanks to everyone who left comments last week. We are pleased to announce that the lucky person receiving a copy of CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? by Irene Latham and Charles Waters is:
🌺 GAYLE!! 🌸
Congratulations!! Please send along your snail mail address to receive your book.
Next giveaway: Anne of Green Gables Cookbook on Tuesday, February 13!
The talented and clever Sally Murphy is hosting the Roundup this week. Take a trip down under to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being shared in the blogosphere. Have a good weekend. 🙂