Thursday, November 15, 2018

After the Sour Lemon Moon

We’re back in business! After the Sour Lemon Moon has a new printer.

If you'd like a copy for yourself, or to give as a gift, you can visit, call, or order online from your favorite independent local bookstore. After the Sour Lemon Moon can also be found in the usual online haunts, and as an eBook. 


Monday, June 25, 2018

Letting Go and Holding On

I've been returning to Annie Dillard's essay, Living Like Weasels. (Thanks, Chris.) I am particularly drawn to her last few paragraphs

her reflections on letting go,
"I would like to learn, or remember, how to live. I come to Hollins Pond not so much to learn how to live as, frankly, to forget about it. That is, I don't think I can learn from a wild animal how to live in particularshall I suck warm blood, hold my tail high, walk with my footprints precisely over the prints of my hands?but I might learn something of mindlessness, something of the purity of living in the physical sense and the dignity of living without bias or motive."
and holding on.
"I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you. Then even death, where you're going no matter how you live, cannot you part. Seize it and let it seize you up aloft even, till your eyes burn out and drop; let your musky flesh fall off in shreds, and let your very bones unhinge and scatter, loosened over fields, over fields and woods, lightly, thoughtless, from any height at all, from as high as eagles."
If you haven't read Living Like Weasels, I highly recommend finding and reading the entire essay to see these excerpts in context, and feel the full force of Annie Dillard's raw, rugged, inquisitive nature, and if you have read it, I suggest a return.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Spy of the First Person

Impermanence, 2018

I didn't even know it had been published. It was a library find. I don't think there's a better way to find a book than browsing.

I'm still in the trance this book, Sam Shepard's final work, Spy of the First Person, put me in. I can only describe this book as what appears to be an honest documentation of a creative mind making its final transition from here to wherever it is we go when we leave this place.

Although there is nothing about this slim book, with its strange dreamlike text surrounded by ample white space, that would classify it as a "page turner," it has a sense of urgency that once I'd picked it up would not let me put it down. It was much more like standing before Shepard in his rocking chair on his front porch and hearing him speak his final words than what I was actually doing, reading a book. I was not at all surprised to learn Patti Smith assisted Shepard in editing the manuscript.

"... I got to the hedge which was neither a camellia hedge or a hydrangea or anything like that. It was unidentifiable. There were white flowers coming out of it but I didn't quite know what they were. I can make him out through the white flowers, through the hedge. But I wasn't quite sure. I could make something out through there, but I wasn't sure what. Oh never mind, I'll figure it out later. That's the thing about later. You don't know what's coming up. You don't know how all the loose ends are going to gather together. Something for sure is going to happen but you don't know what it is. For instanceI'm outside, for instance. Out here with the birds and the bugs. Not exactly outside, but close enough. Just across the way. It's never like it was. The clouds. The big sky. The flowers. The chirping."

I'm now looking at everything I see through the lens of impermanence. The back cover categorizes the book as fiction, but it felt very real to me.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Do you know about Slow Club Book Club?

 Selection #2, 2018

If you haven't heard of Slow Club Book Club by Literary North, you might want to check it out.

It's the first book club I've really wanted to join. All I had to do was read their introduction and I was hooked:
Did the frantic pace of 2017 drain the energy out of you? Are you looking for the calm quiet inside? Do you want to slowly enjoy a few good books with like-minded sloths? // If so, this is the book club for you. Just four books that will take us from January through December 2018. No commitments, no shouting, no rushing. // Sound good? Subscribe and we'll send you the brief, no-hassle details. // Slowly yours, Shari & Rebecca
We begin reading our next selection April 1st.

No hurry, obviously.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Wait for the Light

Ranunculus, 2018

I read Pablo Neruda's poem, "Emerging," this morning. Then I read it again. Then I had it read to me. Then I read it one more time. I'll probably read it again later today.

This is the beginning of the poem:

A man says yes without knowing
how to decide even what the question is,
and is caught up, and then is carried along
and never again escapes from his own cocoon;
and that’s how we are, forever falling
into the deep well of other beings;
and one thread wraps itself around our necks,
another entwines a foot, and then it is impossible,
impossible to move except in the well —
nobody can rescue us from other people.

But this is just an excerpt. If you'd like to find the rest of this poem, and I think you should, I'm aware of a few options.

You can locate a copy of Neruda's book of poems, Extravagaria, and read it there. If you subscribe to The Paris Review, you can read this poem on their website. If you prefer someone read it to you, you are in luck. You can listen to The Paris Review's podcast, Episode 11, (also on their website, no subscription necessary) at the 01:22 mark and hear this poem in its entirety. Alternatively, if you can track down a copy of their Spring 1974 issue, you'll find this poem in print.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake

Before you read my recipe you should know that I rarely follow recipes. There are exceptions, of course, but typically I look at a bunch of recipes and either combine them or select one and make a bunch of changes.

Most of my inspiration for this cake came from this Baking the Goods recipe, found during a Google search while trying to find an old recipe I'd once made. I never found the old recipe, but I was still very pleased with this cake.

There are just so many things to consider with recipes. There's what you happen to have in your pantry and in your refrigerator. There are your personal preferences. There are the kitchen tools you own and do not own. There is the heat of your oven. Your elevation. Your mood. And on and on and on. It's kind of a miracle that recipes ever work at all.

So, since some pals on Instagram asked, I'm just going to tell you how I made this cake this afternoon. I'll try and remember as many details as possible. You'll have to consider all of the items in the paragraph above and make changes where applicable.

Here we go... 

Blood Orange Upside-Down Cake

2 tablespoons Miyoko's vegan butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 small blood oranges
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup instant polenta
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
Crushed seeds from 10 green cardamom pods
1/2 cup raw sugar
One 5.3 ounce container of vanilla soy yogurt
1/2 cup olive oil + enough to grease a cake pan
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons flax meal 
Zest from your 3 small blood oranges

Grease cake pan and set aside.

Put 3 tablespoons of of flax meal + 9 tablespoons of water in a small bowl, whisk together with a fork, and set aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons butter and pour into bottom of cake pan.

Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over melted butter in cake pan.

Zest all 3 oranges and set zest aside.

Thinly slice oranges, leaving peel intact, and gently place enough slices over the butter and brown sugar to cover the bottom of the cake pan.

Slice off the peels of the remaining orange slices, rough chop, and fill in the open spaces around the slices in the cake pan. Set extra chopped orange pieces aside.

Crack open cardamom pods, remove seeds, and crush seeds in mortar with pestle.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl whisk together flour, polenta, baking powder, cardamom, and salt. Set aside.

In a second medium bowl combine raw sugar, yogurt, and 1/2 cup olive oil and whisk together until combined and smooth.

Take flax meal and water you set aside earlier and whisk with fork one more time. It should have thickened by now. Add all of it to wet ingredients, along with almond extract, and whisk again until combined and smooth.

Add orange zest and any remaining chopped orange pieces to wet ingredients and gently stir to distribute evenly.

Fold dry ingredients into wet ingredients, adding only 1/3 of dry ingredients at a time. Fold each addition gently, only folding until all dry ingredients are wet.

Gently and evenly spoon the batter over the orange slices in the cake pan and carefully smooth out the top. It needn't be perfect. The top of the cake will eventually be the bottom of the cake.

My cake baked in only 25 minutes, but my oven runs pretty hot. What you're looking for is a light golden brown cake into which you can insert a sharp knife or toothpick into the center and have it come out clean. Maybe check it for the first time at 20 or 25 minutes and then go from there, keeping an eye on it and testing it at 5-minute intervals.

Remove the cake from the oven once the knife/toothpick comes out clean and let it rest in the cake pan for 15 minutes.

Run a knife around the edge of the pan. Place a plate on top of the cake pan and hold the cake pan and plate together with a thick folded dishtowel/pot holders/oven mitts (the cake pan is probably still hot) and invert it quickly. The cake should release onto the plate. Mine did.

Let the cake cool for a bit on the plate. I think I waited about 10 or 15 minutes before taking my first slice..

That's it. Enjoy!