Tuesday, December 30, 2014

C'est la Vie.

 Dear Everyone,

You don't have to like it, but you do have to bear up under it.  How will we do that, I wonder? 
Dignity?  Beauty?  Certainly Truth.  Find a place where one of those is missing and make a contribution today.

The end of the year has us all considering how to best proceed, and I so I will direct you to the manifesto of the Dark Mountain Project again.   Here is a song, too, to inspire us to bear our burdens with grace, and to fill this world up. 

Fill it with what you want- don't let it be all shoe ads and soapboxes. 

Tell the Future

I wanted to write.

A big, rambling poem. 
A capacious clattering of lines, stanzas and pages.
A poem that would tell the future.
And the past.  All about the past.

To give it to the future. 

This wasn't here then, it was open; you could see the sky.
There was a dirt road there, and a little path.
A tree grew just there.
This used to be a field; with flowers in the spring.

It is the story of loss. 

You lose your shirt.
Your house, your wife.
Your looks, your youth.
Your keys.

Your loved ones.

It is the story of loss.

Your stone cairns, your dusty libraries,
museums and attics. 

It is the story of loss.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Push the Button, Max!

Dear Max,

You know what to do...  push the button.  Thinking of you, as always. 

Why push the button?  Here is why.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Celestial Mechanism.

They were my brethren, my fellow beings, and I felt attracted even to the most repulsive among them, as to creatures of an angelic nature and celestial mechanism.

From Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Skateland Lives!

Dear Mournful,

The news is good!  Skateland Bakersfield has re-opened!  Some saintly, lovely, visionary, generous and kind, people have bought it, and they are open and ready for you to roll with them.  We went last weekend, and had a grand time.  I hope you will visit them soon, and often.  I will keep an eye out for you!

What is there to prevent from attending tonight's session?

 Here's a roller skating jam for your Saturday, to further encourage you to visit Skateland.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Way of the Song.

Dear Somewhere,

In Bandelier National Park, on the Pajarito Mesa, on the Tsankawi Trail, there winds a path, worn deep into the soft tuff of the earth.  First trod by the Ancestral Tewa peoples, 600-odd years ago, it is worn ever deeper by visitors today.  Setting your step into one of the narrow ascending footholds, or the wending downward chutes, you think of the feet that came before you; and the numinous traces of their lives.   

A song is a similar path, made manifest by repeated listenings-  you can easily touch times past in listening or singing along- and beyond, perhaps?  Touching even others who have sung along, too?

Try this experiment and see for yourself.  Listen and sing or hum along to this lovely palimpsest of a song, and see if you don't travel great distances, visit far away times, and hear the stories of old.

Hey La and Somewhere.

And once more,, maybe?  Encore?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Little Look at the Country.

Dear Everyone,

I took a little trip recently, and I met a woman with a fabulous knot in her yellow necktie- and, because she was in Texas, and everyone in Texas is charming and generous, she un-did it all for me, and demonstrated how to tie the boutonniere knot.  I offer a link here, to introduce to you the surprising variety of nifty neck tie knots available to you.  It's enough to send one right out for a wheelin' dealin' desk job, isn't it? 

I'll be watching for you in your new knot.





Monday, December 8, 2014









Dear Tamale-ists,

Thank you all for joining us yesterday for the Great World-Wide Tamale Make.  We had a delicious time.  If you feel like we do, here at the Dodo, you will want to make them again. 

Here is a much more advanced recipe and instruction from the divine Diana Kennedy, who authors most of the Mexican dishes we make.  If you don't know her cookbooks, well, you know what to do- they are delightful reading and filled with history and scenic description.

A little more on Diana Kennedy and taste, right here. 

Shall we meet again, at this time next year? To make tamales together again?

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Let Now be your Next Time.


Another enjoinder, today-  Won't you watch your feeders with us?  The season of counting birds for Project Feederwatch began a few weeks ago.  There is still time to join.  This is our 13th year of counting birds, and a bird I have been expecting, the Pine Siskin, has arrived at our thistle feeder for the first time ever.  Imagine, if you will, setting a place at table, and the guest finally arriving, after a dozen years!  Is there anything more gratifying?

I imagine that you might be worried about where you will find the time to watch your feeders and count the birds.  I want to assure you that you can contribute just a little time, a mere five minutes per day on two consecutive days, every two weeks.  You will want to spend much more time, though, once you begin.  Invite a friend to join you, make a cup of tea and set awhile as you watch your feeders' visitors.  It requires another kind of attention, it is a practice, a meditation even-  you will love it, you will thrive and rejoice in it.  Have a little patience, in the beginning, and soon, after a decade or so, you will see your Pine Siskin, and you will feel so brave and steadfast, so righteous, so hope-filled:  Because you alone waited up to see the wonder of it all;  you alone kept the faith.

Are you worried, also, that you lack the skills for watching and identifying?  These are easily learned too, in exciting, sleuth-like observational deductions.  A field guide is all you'll need, and if you like, binoculars.  This is your year to learn the birds' names.

Next Time

I'll know the names of all of the birds
and flowers, and not only that, I'll
tell you the name of the piano player
I'm hearing right now on the kitchen
radio, but I won't be in the kitchen,
I'll be walking a street in
New York or London, about
to enter a coffee shop where people
are reading or working on their
laptops. They'll look up and smile.
Next time I won't waste my heart
on anger; I won't care about
being right. I'll be willing to be
wrong about everything and to
concentrate on giving myself away.
Next time, I'll rush up to people I love,
look into their eyes, and kiss them, quick.
I'll give everyone a poem I didn't write,
one specially chosen for that person.
They'll hold it up and see a new
world. We'll sing the morning in,
and I will keep in touch with friends,
writing long letters when I wake from
a dream where they appear on the
Orient Express. "Meet me in Istanbul,"
I'll say, and they will.

Reprinted from:   The Writer's Almanac.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Apple, Dumpling?

Dear Harvesters,

Tomatoes are slowing down, and apples are ready for all the things Old Bess the Oven loves to bake on fall evenings.  The first apple treat of the season:  Apple Dumplings with Hard Sauce.  A funny thing about hard sauce is that it is neither hard nor saucy- no booze at all, in fact.  What it is, is stiff and sweet- you let it melt onto warm things, like apple dumplings.

This recipe is a gift to us from Ruth Reichl- from one of her recipe-laced memoirs:  Tender at the Bone.  She gives wonderful recipes in several of her books- but don't fret, you needn't don an apron to read her charming books.  I loved her candid writing, and I love her recipes, and I loved her editing of Gourmet magazine.  You will love her, too.

So gather a few folks to help you peel and roll; or get to your library and read Ruth Reichl's books, if you don't feel like eating dumplings.  If you want to know why our oven has such a literary name, read Mr. Putter and Tabby Stir the Soup.  While you are at it, read everything Cynthia Rylant has in your library.  Then you can head out to the bookshops for more!

Alice's Apple Dumplings with Hard Sauce
(adapted from Tender at the Bone, by Ruth Reichl)

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cups shortening
1/4 cup ice water
5 apples, peeled and cored
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
Mix flour and salt; cut in the shortening in the pastry way.  Add ice water until it gathers into a ball with a fork.  Roll the dough and cut it into five squares.  Put an apple in the center of each square.  Mix the cinnamon and the sugar.  Fill the cored center of each apple with the sugar mixture, and put a dab of butter on top.  Bring the pastry up around the apples, pleating and joining the dough with water to seal.  Chill for 30 minutes, then bake at 350 for 40 minutes.  I find it takes more like 60 minutes to get the apples tender, but this all depends on the kind of apple you have.  Serve them warm with the following hard sauce.

Hard Sauce
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
dash of salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
Cream butter until soft, gradually add sugar, then salt and vanilla.  Chill it until firm.