Friday, July 5, 2013

They Both Trick You.

Ceci n'est pas un cupcake.
(Will only Kim get this joke?)

On several occasions recently I have said or done something, and David has said, "Are you going to blog about that?" (See, I am using him to do a sideways I'm-so-sorry-I-haven't-been-blogging pose. Nonbloggerasana. He's going to hate that.)

If I recall correctly, these included: my joy over realizing I could turn the raspberry ice cream I had just made into ice cream pie, the duck and kale spaghetti dish I invented, the pea pod slaw and Z as veggie crusader, my emotional reactions to Gabrielle Hamilton's memoir, and the "my city is beautiful" conversation I had with O.  I will write about that last first, and try to fill in the rest below.

A couple weeks ago, O got to visit what seemed like 100 different cultural institutions as part of a weeklong camp. This included the new MOCA Cleveland giant black crystal of salt building, which I have not yet visited myself. On the way down to camp the next day, he was telling me about how much you can see of the outside from inside the building. Then as we stopped at a light Little Italy, he caught sight of the big rolling chrome roof of the Peter B. Lewis building.

"Why did they make that building like that?" he asked.

"I don't know," I said. "It's not functional, you know? It's just there for you to look at. I think it makes you think about the other buildings around it differently."

"Yeah, it's like the MOCA building that way," O observed. "They both trick you."

I made small sound of agreement and kept driving. A few moments later, as we drove past MOCA, he said, "They are both really beautiful. Cleveland is a very beautiful city."

He has this incredible, innocent way of saying "beautiful" that over emphasizes the first syllable.

As we continued on and approached the botanical gardens, he observed, "The glasshouse is like that too. It does that. And it's really beautiful. And the music school," he added as we turned. "They are all so different." I pointed out the mansion that forms one wing of the historical society, and the new carousel rotunda. We discussed the merits of the new construction at the VA hospital, and finally offered up an appreciation of the planetarium as we pulled up to drop him off at the natural history museum.

"I'm glad I live in such a beautiful place," he said.

Really.

Reading: I've been reading Blood, Bones, and Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton, chef/owner of Prune in New York. I haven't eaten there, sadly, despite a friend's attempt to get us there the last time I was in the city. I am loving the book, which is written somewhat linearally but really operates as a serious of vivid vignettes about different experiences or lessons she has learned about food and cooking (and her messed up relationship with her mother). The vignettes almost but not quite in order. (As with most of the stuff I've been reading this year, I am interested in a writerly way in the minimal connective tissue in the text.)

And I am fascinated by Hamilton, to the point that I needed to go look her up online, outside the confines of the books, and I found weird gossip-columny stuff about her that bummed me out. Still enjoying the book, but I feel a little less like I can rely on her as a narrator. Isn't that weird? There is a lesson here.

Writing: Working hard to get this draft of the book done before I start teaching school in August. I need to become super disciplined about saying no to the world for a while. It is a race against the calendar and my own procrastinative and perfectionistic tendencies.

Also, venturing into playwriting again. More on that as it develops.

Dinner: OK, so I had some leftover duck confit from a celebratory dinner out with a friend. I wanted to use it up in a way that would have the meat as a flavor rather than the featured ingredient. I had a lot of kale on hand too, and it seemed to me that the rich, fatty duck would naturally partner well with the vegetal oomph of the kale. I thought about doing a soup -- maybe something peasant Frenchy with whited beans and some hard cheese, or something more Asian with slurpy noodles and salty tart broth -- but I went the slightly simpler route of very thinly chopped kale cooked in duck fat and then braised with onions and a little red wine. I shredded the duck meat into long bits too and added it to the kale along with a lot of black pepper and a dash of vinegar. All of this was tossed with spaghetti, with a little extra coarse salt. I only wish I had had something better than the cheap parm to sprinkle on it. Shards of crystally aged gouda maybe. Or maybe no cheese at all. It also needed a bit of fresh parsley over the top to brighten all the dark, richness. Next time.

Soundtrack: I've been lacksadaisacal about music recently. I think modern retro R&B is kind of where it's at for me, if I were forced to say. Oh, and I got to hear Pat Carney from the Black Keys make a really classy speech at the Cleveland Arts Prize shindig. He gave big props to Cindy Barber and the Beachland for making their success possible. It was cool.

Random thing: Lower Shaker Lake is becoming a place for me. I've always like the Shaker lakes, but recently I have forced myself to realize how accessible they are to me. This is somehow akin to the moment when I was living in New York when I realized the Metropolitan Museum was MINE (this involved a knish and a busload of Japanese schoolchildren. Maybe I'll tell that story someday). I stopped at the lake on my way to work the other day, just to take a brief stroll, and was rewarded with a tawny heron in flight across the length of the water and the casually ecstatic song of a grey catbird from the top of a stand of scrubby trees. I was close enough that I could see his beak move and his throat puffing up for the particularly emphatic bits.

For a little bit of history about the lake, check out this entry from the Cleveland Historical blog.

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