Saturday, May 30, 2009

282: twin cities farmer's markets

Week One's "haul": Lychee, sweet peas, and cherries from the Hmong market on Como in St Paul (near Frogtown), and radishes and romaine at the Mill City Market, which meets between the Mill City Museum and the Guthrie Theatre.

Also: a frangipane and pear tart as well as a blueberry, sour cream, and lime tart from the Queen of Tarts booth at the Mill City Market. They were both so good.

They didn't last long.

Tonight we're brewing a honey wheat beer. It's been put in the carboy, sharing a towel with its partner the barley wine. I'm hoping neither explode onto the ceiling as they are wedged between two bookshelves, and I unwisely have my collections of signed poetry books atop said bookcases.

One local summer starts up (today is the last day to sign up!), and I'm thinking about those radishes. Farm to Philly has some recipes here to try out. This recipe for cherry tarts doesn't include a box of instant vanilla pudding, so there's hope for local making and an experiment with my new adoration of mini-pies. Oh, and in case I thought I would simply eat them raw (as we tried them in the car), here is a collection of lychee recipes. The muffins seem to be calling my name. June first is the start date, and I liked having my posts on Mondays last summer, so I think I'll try the same again this year.

Anyone have any recipes for any of the above market items you want to recommend? I love how this challenge not only allows me to celebrate something I value, but also requires I stretch myself in the kitchen--something I haven't been doing for quite some time. It gets so easy to make soup and bread in the winter, and the winter is so long here. Now that it's spring, I'm celebrating easy vegetables (asparagus, squash, etc.) but nothing that has too many steps. I'm ready for that now.

Happy summer eating!

Friday, May 29, 2009

281: frontenac state park

At the state park closest to our home, there is a trail, a quick drop off that leads down to Lake Pepin, which is part of the Mississippi River. The woods were dark--mossy, full of ferns, and when we sat still, we could hear patter above, the creek sound of leaves moving in the breeze.

Field notes: mushrooms curled in the cracks of wooden steps, columbine in bloom, the sound of bald eagles, then, at sunset, spotting them above the water, hearing "Penny, get out of that fish!" for the first time, watching the dogs swim out into deeper waters, walking on rich dirt sloped, bumblebee stalking, wild turkeys, deer scampering across the prairie, the eagles again at the top of the bluff, resting on switchbacks, drinking enough water for the stomach-gurgle.

I'm well out of shape and though I was cursing Ryan for his hiking idea in the duration, my boots stiff from winter neglect, I'm glad I came home, slick with sweat, not nearly ready for next weekend's camping adventure, but a little less shameful at my skills on the flat ground.

What a lovely way to spend a Friday evening, and how much I love this man.

Thursday, May 28, 2009


Just a few small things before I go out to vacuum my car (eek, I'm packing four other poets in and traveling to Wisconsin to go spelunking, and it's got a carpet of pet hair all over--how vile!):

- I joined One Local Summer again this year. I'll miss a few weeks due to travel, and this year we opted out of the CSA for the same traveling reasons, but I hope that will, in turn, allow us to seriously invest in the local farmer's markets. Sign up is until May 30th--let me know if you are joining too! I'd love to keep up with your recipes.
- The dogs pushed out another panel on the fence two days ago. And I was just standing right there too, checking on the garden, pulling small weeds. There was another dog on the other side of the fence, and Zephyr slammed into it; fortunately, only one side of the fence popped out, so it didn't collapse onto the pup, but it certainly shocked the three adults observing! I had Ryan guide me through repairing it so I could do it on my own next time. I wonder if, instead of repairing the fence, we ought to put little weights on Z to keep him from jumping up? If only. He's becoming more neurotic as he ages, and I'm trying not to let it stress me out, but he'll slam his two front paws onto window sills to bark at people walking by outside. Maybe he needs blinders.
- I don't know what it is about me and cycles, but after four months of not wanting to knit a thing, I've become a maniac. Yesterday was an extraordinarily dreary day, so it was easy to pick up the needles. I'm always curious about what makes it so addictive and if I kill that mood by overdoing it. I also want to bring out the sewing machine and tackle a few projects...
- Speaking of machinery, I'm still on the lookout for a letterpress. I went to the antique shops in town; one had a press several years back and I didn't buy it then. Now it's gone, and I'm back to searching online for a good solution. I'm finding it easier to be patient these days.

That's all. Tomorrow, we're supposed to head to Crystal Caves, have a little picnic, and I have four neat stacks of books I want to pass along to my poet-friends. I'm looking forward to the adventure, though I must admit, I'm a little concerned about my backwards sleeping schedule. I should have made more of an attempt to fix it this morning, but sometimes I'm having a dream I want to end... and the bed is so cozy...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

279: making

Making: clearing out the refuse of autumn in the landscaped areas of the yard. Finding more tent caterpillars, finding out husband burned the last branch, thinking it was only eggs, glad the caterpillars had slipped out. This time, I take the branch the dozen blocks to the cemetery, thinking of how it's all dead there anyway, but how lush the trees are, a few snacks for these unburnt creatures.

Making: lettuce from last year, returning. Bitter to the taste. Asparagus sadly did not make it this year, harvest year. We will try again.

Making: black under my fingernails. This weekend, it was from the lead blocks, and on Monday, it was from the garden.

Making: I love the process of callouses. The one most reliable is that on my ring finger of my right hand and my thumb, from holding a pen. This callous developed when I was about seven or eight (I kept a diary, I wrote letters, I wrote stories) and hasn't diminished since. Hard bumps. I'm returning to the one on the forefinger of my left hand, from pushing the bamboo knitting needle through.

Making: hands covered in sticky bread dough, waiting to rise, the crunch of knife through crust. Jam, hoping to learn jam-making, summer.

Making: that swift turn of wrist that comes from knowing something, from repetition and the pleasure of regularity. The way making becomes an art, becomes a process, a series of movements that bring comfort.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

278: letter:press

This weekend was an intense workshop at the Minnesota Center for the Book Arts with an incredible instructor: Letterpress I compacted into a weekend. It was mostly work time: blackening our hands with lead type, learning the jargon of the letterpress, carving into linoleum blocks, paging through haiku books, setting my own brief poem, learning about mixing paint, thinking about folios. Our instructor encouraged us also to continue on, and when we did, to also thinking about press names. Ryan suggested Paper Tattoo as we were driving home; there was a beat, then we both said, "You/I kinda like it" simultaneously. It might stick.

Friday, May 22, 2009

277: spring is pretty

Visit the original photos here (these are all from my flickr favorites):
1. peonies, in white, 2. Untitled, 3. inspiring me,
4. in the bath, 5. If there's a heaven,., 6. Untitled,
7. IMG_4334.JPG, 8. sweetest sleep, 9. :: ranunculus frenzy ::

Things I'm loving about spring: dirt under my fingernails and strawberries in the ground, the breezes that push curtains open, dog snot streaks along the windows (people are outside to watch!), letterpressed invitations for wine tasting, summer book plans, peonies budding along our fence, eating dinner outside, the way white feels clean again (no more snowy sludge), lilacs in the air, farmer's markets and anticipation of corn on the cob and fresh fruit, honey from the fields, drinks on the porch, the sound of ice cubes in a glass, reading in the grass, long walks with the dogs to the Mississippi, Hay Creek and drenchings from the pups in the backseat, blisters from hoeing from walking from writing, dinner with friends, sleeping beneath a single sheet, curling up against my husband, listening to the hum of the window fan.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

276: michael pollan

Tonight: Michael Pollan giving a talk in the Twin Cities suburbs on eating locally. He spoke mostly on content, which, as a journalism instructor, I can understand, and knowing your audience is crucuial too; I only wish he could have come a few weeks earlier, visited the program, given a craft talk for some of us studying creative nonfiction. I love his work not just because I believe in what he is saying, but also because he has an immense talent for saying it--we studied his book The Omnivore's Dilemma, and while we discussed content on some levels, we also did a lot of work examining the craft of his book.

Even more so, I was grateful for the good company: Angie, Emily, and Emily's friends Suzanne and Laura. We went out to PF Chang's beforehand, and I loved the chatter--the diversity of the conversation, but also I loved so much that it can come back to passion, to words, to language. Being in the bookstore reminds me of how much I love to read, and even though I'm thoroughly enjoying my poetry book-a-day project, and though I'm also glad I'm going to focus myself with the summer reading list, I also look forward to the expansive narrative of prose. It's something I'm glad I've returned to through the creative nonfiction class; one bit of academic history is that my undergraduate thesis was in nonfiction, though I loved all genres as an undergraduate and still do, here and now. Sometimes I feel as if I'm stomping around in frustration so much over the poetic experiences in the program that I've forgotten all the blessings in between. It's been such a good first year, and I feel a bit high, a bit floaty as we go into summer, and I hope I don't lose that momentum.

Tomorrow: I'm going to pack up my things and work at a coffee shop. I figure if I change venues, I'm more likely to not get distracted. And no laptop either. Just me, my chapbook manuscript (such as it is), and my writing notebook. Fully focused. I hope.

(PS: Also--a few more Michael Pollan shots in this photoset.)

Monday, May 18, 2009

275: kansas city

This weekend, Ryan and I made the seven and a half hour drizzly trek to Kansas City to visit his grad school friend Dan and wife Tracy.

My favorite moments from the trip:
- Pulled pork barbeque. How can you not celebrate the bbq when in Kansas City?
- Feeding carrots to an elk. Petting that wet nose. And even more joyful: when a family came along and we gave the remaining carrots to the four kids to feed the elk, their dancing and squealing and urgent, "Watch your fingers!" bossily proclaimed.
- The fields of wind turbines in Iowa.
- Lola, the Jones family kitty, alternating between hissing at Ryan down the hall, then rubbing against his legs.
- Reading books of poetry (while Dan et all reveled in the birthday Wii purchase), jotting ideas down for poems, feeling that energy carrying over from the last two weeks of the semester. My two favorites from my book-a-day thus far? Filibuster to Delay a Kiss by Courtney Queeney and The Watercourse by Cynthia Zarin.
- We're redesigning my pathetic homepage. Because it's faster to upload, and because Ryan is programming my webpage from scratch (no templates for us), we decided that my "news" tab would be a blog, which is located here. Reminds me that I need to start sending things out again so I can bulk up the "Poems + Publications" tab.
- Thunderstorms on the first night. The following two days were gorgeous, sunny, not sweltering, bright, and their backyard lit up with light.

More trip images here.