Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not sure how or where to begin...



How are you?

Me? I'm great. Today, I'm great.

Yesterday was another story. I did not drink coffee and, well, the best way to put it is things got a little weird. I considered yesterday a useless day, but I was wrong. Dead wrong. It turns out my weird day was actually a very productive incubation day. It has allowed today to be a day in which I am bursting with so many thoughts and ideas I'm just not sure how or where to begin. Some little things and some big, all of them in a beautifully tangled mess.

Red Leaf & Radish, 2010

There was the day last week that really felt like summer (San Franciscans don't often have these feelings in July). It required a cool crisp salad with a very particular buttermilk dressing. I adore this dressing. My salad was super simple, just red leaf lettuce and a few thinly sliced radishes. After finishing my delicious salad, I couldn't stop eating buttermilk dressed carrots. This somehow leads me to my desire to make Rachel's fiori di zucca. Simplicity at its best--no mozzarella, no ricotta, no anchovy...and served with prosecco. Oh, yes. Rachel is my hero. So I'm thinking of fresh fruits and vegetables (and flowers...and prosecco) and the way I am gravitating toward food with little to no adornment. Is there more to say about this? Perhaps. Maybe this is enough. Not sure.

Crumb, 2010

And then there is the day I felt like going for a ride over the Golden Gate Bridge. Chris made it happen. It was a gloomy morning and we escaped into the sunshine. We ended up in Larkspur at Donut Alley. I've been craving a peanut donut ever since I wrote The Pier. They didn't make peanut donuts, so I ate this one instead. They made a fresh jelly-filled donut for Chris. Such service! This also reminded me of a recent chat with my father and one of the many food memories we discussed. The memory about the orchard where we used to pick apples and the little shack with a screen door that sold warm donuts. This made me think of Mom's early cookbook collection visible in the background of a 1970s photo of my little sis and me. Do I have additional thoughts about food and memory? Pull up a chair. This might take a while.

The End, 2010

I've almost finished this warm weather scarf. Something for early mornings in San Francisco. It is complete with the exception of an end that requires weaving. Summer knitting is not something that ranks high on my list of summer pastimes, but the use of a cotton based yarn, along with living in a city that has a summer like no other (usually cool), has me changing my tune.

Thinking of Ms. Pym, 2010

And most importantly, Barbara Pym. Ms. Pym has been on my mind for a while. I'd like to talk with you about her. About her writing style, her characters, what she's made me think about my own writing, and some other bits. I'm organizing my thoughts. These thoughts feel most important and are therefore more difficult to articulate.

W.S. Merwin too, but I'm trying (unsuccessfully) to address one item at a time, take it one step at a time.

Thank you for your patience.


  1. mmmmmmmmmm, fresh doughnuts always make me happy

  2. Wow, this is quite a thought provoking/hungry making post.

    Maybe I should go a day without coffee?

    Naw, I'd just have a headache and be cranky.

    Barbara Pym. Haven't read her in years....

  3. Yesterday I had a super crappy day.
    why, you ask?
    -it was only 63 degrees....I thpough fall was arriving a little too early.
    Today is a good.
    Your salad looks so good Denise...I can only imagine.
    Love the texture and color of your scarf...divine.
    Well, have yourself a sunshiney day.

  4. Char, Hubba hubba.

    flwrjane, And now today (11:48 am)...I have not eaten a crumb of food. What is going on with me? Thankfully, I started the day with a nice strong cappuccino.

    Camilla, The sun is shining here. I hope the sun is shining for you today too. We cannot be expected to be ready for autumn. No no no.

  5. If you figure out the peanut donut thing, will you let us know? I, too, have been craving one ever since you wrote about it! And is that one of those brown-bag Moleskine's peeking out from your books? I love those.

    Eat something, will ya? (We're making your noodle salad for dinner again tonight. We're crazy about it.)

  6. Shae, I'll be checking Bob's Donuts (Polk St.) next... I need to figure out dinner too. Cucumbers could be tasty, but I'm fixating on beets. Maybe both. Yes, you are looking at one kraft brown Moleskine and one literary journal I covered in kraft paper because the cover was disturbing me. Enjoy your sexy noodles. I'm finally off to find some lunch!

  7. I love the beautiful randomness of this post. I haven't had a doughnut in forever and that dressing sounds so good.

    Also, would totally trade those cool summers for the unbearable TX heat...

  8. Annje, Thanks. I feel for you. I felt a little hot walking up the hill with my grocery bags today and thought...most people would have my hide for calling this 60some degrees hot.

  9. So many great things in this post, Denise. Nice to hear what you're up to. I spotted the Moleskine right away, too. My favorite journal. Salads are becoming a lunch-time summer ritual for me. However, I might have to bump up the frequency or else I'll never keep up with the bounty of lettuce in my garden! And donuts -- well, being a gluten-free girl makes me miss them so ... especially the maple-glazed crullers at Voodoo Donuts. Sigh -- but it's probably better this way. :-)

  10. What a wonderfully productive day you had. I don't know if I could even think without starting my day with coffee.

  11. Oh... I miss San Francisco and the hills, the colourful houses...

    Coming right from Arizona when we visited SF it was a shock to me how cold SF was in August. Now I see SF in a completely new light when I read or see it on TV.

    Loved todays rambling lines.

  12. Incubation days are the best, because they will surprise you...all the directions the creative flows will take you. I don't know Barbara Pym, but W.S. Merwin---yes----poetry that reaches into some dark resonant ancestral place, yes difficult to articulate.

    Rachel is our hero!
    and I love that salad....

  13. I just found your blog and love it! You've made me really want a peanut butter donut.

  14. Food and memory: I wish I had more time to think about those, and to reread Barbara Pym's precision. I used to before family life surged. But I can relive my freedom to contemplate through your musing.

  15. I'll wait however long it takes.

    I made a fennel salad for the first time this week. I kind of liked it but it also required a whole lot of crunching and jaw action.

    If you happen to be up Petaluma-way, I had a yummilicious salad there the other day at a café I can't remember the name of. I know, I'm so helpful. I have a call in to a friend who will remind me....

  16. Oh, Merwin! And a scarf... it's so sweltering here, I can't imagine knitting anything. Blech. That and the morning sickness being relentless!

  17. Reading about your days is so fun. I'm looking up Barbara Pym...thank you!

  18. A fresh jelly donut is absolutely amazing! I've only had it once in my life, and I bought wayyyy too many of them and had to actually (shudder!) throw a few out because I was not up to the task. Admitting that is due to too much champagne with apricot brandy. Eyes dry, now I must go to sleep with dreams of warm doughnuts...

  19. Della Fattoria, Petaluma. Salads and yumminess!

  20. Wow you have an abundance of energy! I would love to hear more of your food stories...

    We will be moving to Marin after we sell the house. I will definitely check out the donuts...when I feel like treating myself :^) Thanks for the tip!

  21. Jessica, I want your bounty of lettuce problem. If only I lived next door.

    Michele, I have not missed my coffee again. We were served a beautiful pot at Boulette's Larder this morning.

    life in yonder, I, too, am seeing SF in a new light. As I read so many complaints of summer heat I've slowed my complaints of cool summers. It seems I'm lucky.

    nancy, Barabara Pym could not be more different than W.S. Merwin. I just happened to be reading and loving them both at the same time. I love your description "poetry that reaches into some dark resonant ancestral place". Very nice.

    Jen, Welcome. I am seeking a simple peanut donut, but peanut butter would be fun too.

    mise, My musing will continue, just for you.

    mosey, You are too kind. Thank you. I like crunching and jaw action. Would love to know your salad recipe. Thanks again for thinking of me with your Petaluma recommendation.

    Molly, Oh, my. Morning sickness and heat. Not fun. Yes, by all means, do not even ponder knitting. Maybe a seat in front of a fan and a giant slice of cold watermelon would be helpful.

    alexandria, The Barbara Pym book I was reading is Excellent Women.

    julia, You are hilarious! Now I really wish I'd had a bite of that jelly donut.

    Janis, Okay, more food related stories to come. I'll be curious to see where you land in Marin. There are so many options here in Northern California. I hope your current home is feeling happier after a little lavender.

  22. did you say doughnuts? yum!

  23. How did you go a day without coffee? I haven't done that since I was 14. My brain would explode if I did. I love the way you talk about food. The simplicity is amazing.

    I made a red cabbage salad with a very light apple cider vinaigrette and lots of fresh cilantro. That's it. It was os good.

    I miss san Fran coffee shop. I remember walking that city and all I smelt was coffee roasting. I felt like I was in heaven.

  24. I really have nothing to say except that I ADORE your posts :)
    Thanks for being amazing (and next time I'm near you-must go to that donut place).

  25. what a great post. i love how something you thought was a "bad" day become a good incubation day....

    and such yummy treats!

  26. The little peak of the warm weather scarf looks beautiful! I've never heard of Barbara Pym so I'll be excited to hear more about her and her writings. All the fresh food you talked about is making me hungry better go and grab some good vegies quick!

  27. So many things to say back. Where to begin? My comment may be as random as some of your thoughts (in a good way, of course). Been wanting to try Donut Ally in Larkspur (it's right by my dad's house), love W.S. Merwin although he baffles me and makes me work a little (which is good...even in the summer), and how great are days that just shoot us up with energy and creativity. I'm having a spree of those lately. Can you imagine life without them!? Not pretty.

  28. I yearn for those rare summer days so much!!!

    beautiful salad :)

  29. An incubation day... yes, I like this idea, this notion, this concept. I like it a lot. It describes it perfectly.

  30. i have not read Barbara Pym...yet...will have to explore!
    My aunt makes the best donuts (with potato in the dough...): you made me think of them, I will have to make them soon...and post about them, when I do!

  31. The feeling is mutual. I read this a while ago but didn't have my commenting head on, well not my good one anyway. I like the sound of the buttermeilk dressing, lots of crisp salad here at the moment, oh and radishes too. To try.

  32. Christina, I eat them so seldom, but when you see a really good one, it's tough to say no.

    seamus, It was a rough day without my usual morning cappuccino. I'm a big fan of nice simple salads. It seems you are too. Cafe Trieste is where I often drink my cappuccino. It's a tough place to beat.

    abby, Thank you so much. What a nice complement.

    lisa, I'm glad something good came of that day. It wasn't very fun...

    annette, I've been wearing my scarf and it's very comfortable. One benefit of a San Francisco summer: new scarf weather. Barbara Pym is a treat. I found Excellent Women while wandering the stacks in the library.

    Megan, Hi there... You and your dad should take a walk over to Donut Ally. I recommend the crumb. I've been falling behind with my poetry reading. I need a little quiet time with Mr. Merwin. I could use a little baffling. I hope you are still enjoying your creative energy days. I think I'm about due.

    M., Thank you. It was a tasty salad. I might need one for dinner.

    gracia, I am ready for another day-after-incubation day, but that means I must endure an incubation day. Oh no, what to do...

    Amelia, I'm imagining your aunt's homemade potato donuts. I hope you make them and share them with us in a post.

    Rachel, This buttermilk dressing is very good. I need to make some more. I'm not sure what Vincenzo would think if you served it to him... I fear it may not go over well.