Wednesday, June 29, 2016
O black day.
They have killed my white horse, my pony boy.
Right now, which will be 'then' by the time you read this,
I can see the hole growing larger and larger, behind the cottonwood tree.
The backhoe pivots, leans down and curves itself full,
pivots again, and a rain of earth falls.
The sheriff came about a week ago, but my pony boy said nothing to the deputy;
who stood, near his truck, with his black boot on the white rail of the fence;
while the white horse stayed in the middle of his corner of the world.
I saw them this morning. They entered, two of them, they hesitated; my pony boy stood
in the center of his field, as he has for 10, 15, 20 years; and then they walked up and put on a
There he goes now. They have lain him on a flatbed trailer, and they are driving him,
in state, over the field, towards the stream, to the hole.
O black day.
Dear A. M.,
Today I offer you a Breakfast Pie. The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, by the charming Marion Cunningham, says that Breakfast Pie used to be very common among the early rising agriculturalists of our nation. Around here, much more recently, a prominent Dodo-ist remarked: "Breakfast Pie! What a great country this once was!"
Make it and bake it and decide for yourself what you think about our country and breakfast pie.
Creamed Oatmeal-Walnut Pie
(Adapted from The Fannie Farmer Baking Book, by Marion Cunningham, 1984, Alfred A. Knopf, NY.)
Oatmeal pie crust:
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup vegetable shortening or butter
2 - 3 tablespoons water
Mix the dry ingredients and cut in the shortening, or toss everything but the water into the food processor. Add the water slowly. Roll it out, and patch it, because the oats make it very fragile, so it will break frequently as you fit it into a 9 or 8 inch pie pan. Prick it with a fork.
Blind bake the crust partially- use pie weights, or another pie tin, or beans on parchment to prevent the crust from rising in the oven. Bake it for 6 minutes at 425 degrees, then take out the weights and bake it for another 4 or 5 minutes.
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup raisins
3 tablespoons butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until it begins to bubble and thicken. Remove pan from heat and temper the beaten eggs a bit before adding them, by mixing half a cup of the hot porridge into the eggs, then stir the eggs into the pan of porridge. Add the walnuts, fill the pie shell, and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. The center will be shiny, while the edges will look dry. Let your breakfast pie set for 30 minutes and then eat it warm, with heavy cream, if you have a cow, or even if you just have a pint of it from the store!
Saturday, June 25, 2016
I know that you are worried about pollinators, and that you curse the day that we began to apply economic values to things like air, scenery, and species diversity. It seemed like a good way to get through their thick skulls at the time, but I wish we had never gotten into bed with them in the first place.
Now that the damage is done, what do we do with ourselves and our billions dollar industry of fill-in- the-blank? I do not know. I do not know.
I do know that in our perfect world, the one we live in; not the other one, not the one where everything is quantifiable in currency and utility to humans; there is plenty of gorgeous, useful, and exotic treasure to be sentiently enjoyed.
This year we had some real humdinger bumblebees in the wooly blue curls. Golly they were great! They were of regal bearing: Large and loud and remarkable. I wish I could be sure about just which bumblebees they were; a carpenter bumblebee perhaps; I am really only going on size, though, and that isn't much to key a species on. I don't let my lack of proper identification diminish my enjoyment, however.
While you are contemplating those that buzz and hum, you might want to watch this film about a particular kind of bumblebee.
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Dear O Best Beloved,
Saturday, June 18, 2016
Here is why I love to write you here: I can erase my words. In speaking, I am just as careless with words as the next yahoo; sputtering nonstop meaningless drivel like David Mamet's characters, but, when I write my words, I also must read them, and that means that I choose them much more carefully. I am composed, instead of blathering. It is nice to construct oneself this way- I recommend it.
If you imagine talking to people, a dialogue, you can see that silences must be filled, and sentences must trail off, and words are more about sound than precision. I often rehearse, in my mind, what I will say when I see so and such a person, and then when I am with them, of course, a million things happen, and all the beautiful sentiment that I practiced pouring forth has evaporated in slanting sunlight through a window, or a Mustang roaring by, or the flurry of energy in my companion's mood.
Which is why, dear reader, I love to say to you the things I mean in written words. Although, if the sunlight slants in, I accept that you might misconstrue in the actual moment of reading, but you can rest assured that I meant if not what you read, then at least what I wrote.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Dear Stoned Cherry,
This is a short story about waiting a long time- you might sit there, and think that you don't have time to read a little paean to drupes, and so you might want to run along now. If you do have the time, begin with this sweet song that has been around since the 15th century, which will help to put the next few minutes of our lives into historical and philosophical perspective.
I have never met a cherry I didn't like- I like their blossoms, I like their pits, I like they way they grow in twos, I like their color, their scent, their wood, and even the very word cherry- so close to cheery. I love the rainiers, the morellos, the queen annes, and the bings- but cherries do not grow easily or well here at Twittering Patch, and over the years, most have perished one saddening way or another- I make sculptures out of the their straight, sapling, hopeful remains. But this Spring one of our orchard trees exploded in a cloud of white blossoms. Then, even more surprising, green pips appeared! They then grew into actual factual edible red cherries. We ate about half of them right off the tree, hurrying to beat the birds and the deer. The other two dozen we made into ersatz tarts.
The little tree gave us Montmorency cherries- what they call a sour cherry: the spunky kind to be made into pies. I could not be happier at our extreme good fortune in getting a small harvest this year. It really does beat all!
Ersatz Cherry Tarts
If you have a little more time, you can set back and wait until winter and you can get yourself a bare root cherry tree and you can put it in the earth. After a few more winters, maybe two, maybe four, you can make these tarts and you will have all the glory of a project completed after half a decade. They are just cut squares of pastry with pitted halved cherries set on top- tip a spoonful of sugar over the cherries and bake them at 400 or 425 degrees, for 8 minutes or so. They taste like a beautiful five years.
If you do give your love a cherry, you might want to sing along, or play these easy guitar chords.
Thursday, June 9, 2016
How can I explain myself? I hear the people, they say: "It was amazing; it was awesome." They say: "It was the worst; I hated it." These emphatic phrases are flaccid little balloons of emptiness, and I am left searching for words to persuade you by, because, dear ones, I am not convinced, after all these years, that a picture is worth a thousand words; in fact, I am not sure you could get as many as ten words for a good sized picture, from even the venerable old masters. Talk is cheap, yes, but often people don't even look up.
Marks no bigger than a lizard's foot print. An attention to precision that speaks of human frailty. Repetition that allows one to see every hair is numbered. The unspeakable beauty, the meaning of such marks as a dot in the center of a circle. All the wonderfully open areas of space and time.
It isn't what it should be, this enticement and description of the wonderful retrospective of Agnes Martin's work at LACMA, but it might be enough to encourage you to drop by. The thing, the absolute central thing, about Agnes Martin's work is that you must see it in person. It simply does not reproduce in the camera's eye. If you have seen her work, then you love her with a passion already, and you know what I am trying to say. If you haven't seen it, then please step into the desert of her wide and generous mind by seeing these paintings- it is a real treat to see so many of them! So many of the charming and shocking small works on paper! I hope you are there already!
Oh! But the beyond, I almost forgot the beyond! You will not only appreciate these pieces as glorious testimony to the grandeur of life itself, but you will dash home ready to transform your jumbled and tangled objects and notions into glowing metaphor and shining statement. No, really, I mean it! You will be rattling around in your junk drawer for those old wooden knobs to make a sculpture out of, and you will sharpen your Way of the Dodo pencils to make a field of blossoming dashes and dots. It really will inspire and motivate you! Take my words for it.
As long as you are there already, why not take a look at these wonderful objects of excess too? They seem in some ways related to Agnes Martin's work, don't you think?
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Can you believe I have been stumbling around in the dark without this song? My goodness, I must make a point of getting out more. I really must, and you should too. Meet me tonight at the nearest rotating restaurant and we can talk about it at length.