Happy New Year - we made it to 2024! No resolutions here, but I like the idea of intentions i.e. write daily and submit work, breathe deeply, take walks. Sending you all warm wishes for creativity in 2024 and Gaiman's well-said wishes.
“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” ~Neil Gaiman
I've been reading Natalie Goldberg's The True Secret of Writing which affects me more than I'd expect, especially the part on dying, and her love of literature including poetry. The book has indexes of the titles used in her silent retreats over the years. What a rich collection! I've read many, but now I want to read or reread all of them. Plus she had some good prompts based on the poetry of Wei Wang which helped me on the travel piece I'm working on, a list of places I've seen.
Here's a craft idea with which I've had fun -- from Laura Moulton Truth & Dare https://www.lauramoulton.org/lets-take-the-wings-off/: "Create a collage postcard from old magazines or new, weird ones. Bonus points for lifting one from the waiting room of a doctor’s office. (Simple is good: glue stick, scissors, images). Send your postcard to a person."
The other night, two a.m. found me wandering the house during a big windstorm watching from various windows at bent trees and flying trash cans; the next morning I leaned forward to see if there was any snow dusting the Katsura Tree outside the bedroom, but there's a special silence when it snows. Weather is my fixation. It's one of the few parts of the news I hate to miss. I flip channels continually away from war and death to watch the aftermath of floods and tornadoes with fascination. No snow sticking in the yard, but I see neighbors' roofs have a smattering of white stuff. Roofs vs. rooves? How do words come to be in English? I have an ancient etymological dictionary called Origins by Eric Partridge which I got from BOMC in the eighties. Roof is from an OE (Old English) word referring to a roof, top or covering, no plural listed. But hoof shows plural of hooves but now usually hoofs (again from Old English). But what about the cacophony or woofs at the dog pound; or the woofs crossing the warps. I can get lost in this stuff. Should have majored in philology which probably would be as fruitful and profitable as Latin American Studies turned out for me. But is college for earnings? Or breadth? I lean toward the latter since I know plenty of folks who did not end up doing what they studied in school. But few who regret the things they learned.
Read the new Teju Cole, Tremor. His novel includes much about the music of Africa encouraging me to Spotify some of the artists he's mentioned--Ali Farka Toure is the only one I'm familiar with. His various playlists are listed here: https://www.tejucole.com/playlists/
Cole also talks about J.M.W. Turner's painting "Savers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying"
which is familiar with its foreground of roiling seas and brilliant red sky and the ship, the Zong; in the water are the Africans, some in chains, who the slaver is throwing overboard, cargo he is transporting to America. Lloyds of London has since offered reparations. There were at least 130 who drowned in 1781. Evidently, according to the BBC this ship and the crime paved the way for eventual abolition of the slave trade.
Cole also discusses the unreliability of Western custody of artworks citing the WWII destruction of work by Van Gogh, Courbet, Murillo, Rubens, Titian, Goya, Botticelli, Tintoretto, and Caravaggio by allied bombs.
I am caught up in another good, compelling book called All the Beauty in the World by Patrick Bringley in which the author describes his twelve years working as a guard in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and communing regularly with different works of art from Renaissance painters to Impressionists to the Egyptian temple of Dendur. Interspersed with the museum encounters, he describes the devastating loss from cancer of his older brother and the grief which drove him to quit his job at The New Yorker and move to the Museum. He is anecdotal and empathetic and interesting. Highly recommended.
Don't forget the library digital collections. Did you know that one can read The Atlantic fulltext and bypass the irritation of a subscription demand every time there is an interesting article. The latest issue on what if T wins is available on their electronic resource Flipster with a library card. But I haven't read it.
[Almost didn't get a picture before we ate it up! Twelve servings?! Ha!]
Ridiculously Easy Orange Olive Oil Cake (from The Café Sucre Farine) https://thecafesucrefarine.com/recipe-index/
This delicious, tender-crumbed Orange Olive Oil Cake can be thrown together in minutes with just one bowl and a whisk. The crisp, candy-like, fresh orange glaze adds fantastic flavor and a beautiful presentation! Author: Chris Scheuer
Cake Prep Time: 15 mins Cook Time: 40 mins Total Time: 55 mins Servings: 12 Calories: 310 kcal
Ingredients For the cake: 1 cup sugar 3 large eggs ¾ cup buttermilk (whole milk buttermilk) finely grated zest from one medium juicy orange ¼ cup fresh orange juice 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 tablespoon baking powder ½ teaspoon salt 2 cups all-purpose flour ¾ cup good-quality extra virgin olive oil For the glaze: ½ cup powdered sugar ¼ cup fresh orange juice
Instructions For the prep: Preheat the oven to 325˚F. Spray a 9-inch cake pan (with at least 2-inch tall sides) with baking spray. Line the pan with a circle of parchment paper. (you can also use a 9-inch springform pan).
For the cake: Combine the sugar and eggs in a medium-size bowl. Whisk well until light and fluffy (30-40 seconds).
Add the buttermilk, orange zest, orange juice, vanilla extract, baking powder and salt and whisk until everything is well combined.
Add the flour and whisk just until incorporated. It’s okay at this point if there are still some lumps.
Add the olive oil. At first, it will seem separated but then it will come together. Whisk until the olive oil is incorporated and the mixture is smooth (30-45 seconds).
Transfer to oven and and bake for 35-45 minutes until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake. Cover the cake loosely if it seems to be getting too brown before it’s done.
Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then invert onto a cooling rack that has been set on top of a piece of foil.
For the glaze: While the cake is cooling in the pan, make the glaze by combining the powdered sugar and orange juice and in a small bowl. Stir until smooth.
With a pastry brush, gently brush and pat the glaze all over the cake. Just keep going over the cake till the glaze is gone. Some of it will drip off, but most of it will soak in. Allow cake to cool. Sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired and serve.
Try to keep busy in these fraught times, and eat cake!