Friday, April 18, 2014

Pääsiäisleipä and Paska

I love to bake bread.

Yesterday, I had the luxury of a whole day without interruption to bake. So I tried two new ( for me) recipes for Easter bread.

Usually on the Christmas and Easter feasts, I make Stollen, but this time I tried Pääsiäisleipä, a Finnish bread, and Paska, Ukrainian Easter bread.

They turned out well.  Here's what they look like.  I didn't take these photos -  forgot, and at this point, the loaves are in the freezer and will appear on Easter morning, and the samples I set out for the hungry hordes  are largely demolished.

Pääsiäisleipä ( no idea how to pronounce this one)


very similar to Stollen, but just sliced almonds and golden raisins .

Paska:


very similar to Challah, but the dough is even softer and finer with the recipe I used.


Here's a poem I wrote a long time ago about making bread. It seemed appropriate to post now, during the Paschal Triduum:


Recipe


Yeast rises
like praise
clings to the cloth,
leaves its thready face there.

Dough rolls smooth
springs back
seamless in hand
as thought.

The oven opens and closes
its arms.
Smell seeps
from room to room.

Bread, as finished
as a child.
Every slice of the knife
it sings its fearful litany:
I live in the jaws of hunger.
I break as I give
I rise as I die.





 


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hope Strums Her Harp

a villanelle I've been working on for a while... inspired by this painting:


Hope   1885   George Frederick Watts




  Hope strums her harp and sits astride the world.
  A blindfold keeps her focused as the sound
of peace and mercy’s fragile flags unfurl.

 As music from the hemlock trees uncurls
as unresolved boundaries still resound,
 Hope strums her harp and sits astride the world.

 While syllables of weapons clash and whirl
 while oceans twist with Fukushima waste,
 still  peace and mercy’s fragile flags unfurl.

With music smooth and cool as oystered pearl
 Pacific tides blunt poison gas until
 Hope strums her harp and sits astride the world

 This time let no trench gas grenades be hurled.
  The ship won’t meet the iceberg this time round.
 Hope strums her harp and sits astride the world
 as peace and mercy’s fragile flags unfurl.





Monday, April 14, 2014

You Talk Too Much









You Talk Too Much

You talk too much
You worry me to death
You talk too much
You even worry my pet
You just talk
Talk too much

You talk about people
That you don't know
You talk about people
Wherever you go
You just talk
Talk too much

You talk about people
That you've never seen
You talk about people
You can make me scream
You just talk
you talk too much

You talk about people
That you've never seen
You talk about people
You can make me scream

( Joe Jones, 1960)



As usual, I was tuning in to the webcam and chat on the Great Dane Service Dog Project this afternoon, and listened in to the online moaning ( I can’t think of any other name for it) of one of the women who is new to the site and who went down there to the farm to volunteer today.  She had her feelings hurt in a large way by the owner of the farm, who is known to be , shall I say, a blunt and even rude speaker.
 
Anyway… it boils down to the part where the would-be volunteer was asked to go to one of the outbuildings to do some chores; on her way out , she overheard the owner say to her other regular helpers ( who had been very nice to this volunteer). It was on the order of  “How did you stand that woman in here with you these hours?  I’m glad I just arrived. She drives me crazy: she never stops talking!  Blah! Blah! Blah!”

I do not think the owner intended for the volunteer to hear that, but she did, and she left in tears.
She had the whole chat room buzzing through the afternoon, debating about rudeness, ingratitude( on the part of the owner), entitlement, oversensitivity ( on the part of the volunteer).

This episode got me thinking about  bluntness and rudeness; but also about people who really do talk too much.   How do you tell someone in an unhurtful way that he/she talks too much?   I can’t think of a way.  I generally avoid such people because even though they are generally wonderful souls, they get on my nerves.  It’s that unconsciousness of one’s effect on others.  I have been guilty of this plenty of times, but in recent years, I have become aware of it in myself, and generally keep pretty quiet. 


As one wit has observed, “It’s a terrible death to be talked to death.”





Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palm Sunday


This isn't specifically a Palm Sunday poem, but it is a Lenten poem, by Phyllis Levin:

Lenten Song

By Phillis Levin
That the dead are real to us
Cannot be denied,
That the living are more real

When they are dead
Terrifies, that the dead can rise
As the living do is possible

Is possible to surmise,
But all the stars cannot come near
All we meet in an eye.

Flee from me, fear, as soot
Flies in a breeze, do not burn
Or settle in my sight,

I’ve tasted you long enough,
Let me savor
Something otherwise.

Who wakes beside me now
Suits my soul, so I turn to words
Only to say he changes

Into his robe, rustles a page,
He raises the lid of the piano
To release what’s born in its cage.

If   words come back
To say they compromise
Or swear again they have died,

There’s no news in that, I reply,
But a music without notes
These notes comprise, still

As spring beneath us lies,
Already something otherwise.
 
 
 
 
( source:  Poetry magazine  2013)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Seventy Years Married


This photo was taken when my parents were courting. The car is my mother's -  new Chevrolet she bought with her earnings as a registered nurse.  She used to tell the story that this car was from the last batch off the assembly line in Detroit before they stopped producting cars and began producing machines needed for the war effort... and the doctors she worked with kept trying to buy it from her, but she wouldn't sell it.

They were married April 10, 1944.  They celebrate this anniversary on the other shore.

Here's a poem I wrote about them a few years ago:
 
T


Corot Blue

puckered with clouds,
Damask wards off rain
Father Hopkins, lick ink into my pen
shake blue over paper.

My parents’ wedding day
Cold and blustery in 1944
Outside the rectory of Saint Agnes Parish
In the brittle afternoon sun.
My mother holding her hat on her head,
Shivering in her new suit.
No wedding gown for the non-Catholic ceremony
Of thirtysomethings in the rectory.
My father dapper happy in a new dark suit
So glad she said yes.




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Even the Weeds are Welcome




Green lawn rolls softly to the wakening garden.
Daffodils,yes, and
Bluebells, Hyacinths,
yes, and Dandelions,
Violets,
Chickweed, Crabgrass,
even you,
Indian Mock Strawberry,
I rejoice to see.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Dreaming of Cheetahs


 Reported in the UK Daily Mail:
The incredible scene was captured by German photographer Chris Du Plessis, when he was shooting wildlife in a South African animal conservation area, a cheetah came to him quietly and lay there...

For some reason, the Cheetah has long been my favorite wild cat.  Something about the face.

Anyway, on this chilly and rainy April night, I post a poem about, not this photo, but dreaming of Cheetahs.






Dreaming of Cheetahs


I stand in the bedroom of my childhood.
I open up my pencil case
and find
a living Cheetah and a wolverine
freeze-dried and condensed there.
I take them out and watch
as they grow into their real size.
They begin to fight each other
with much snarling and lunging.
I wonder which one will win.
I think it will be the Cheetah.

I stand on the porch of a house
I do not recognize.
I see a Cheetah running out of the woods,
running swiftly
directly at me.
I stay where I am. The Cheetah
curls up beside me and
puts her head in my lap.
I pet her. She begins to purr.

I am a cheater.
I wear cheaters,
glasses currently broken
at the stem,
glasses that can’t wipe off
the grey slipper in my left eye.