Tuesday, September 29, 2009

first fall day

Today was the first day it felt like fall; the weather was nipping at my heels every time I stepped outside. To me, this signals the advent of hot chocolate season - and I'm not talking about just any old hot chocolate. Because I'm feeling generous and also a little under the weather, I am going to share the best-ever recipe. It zaps a cold, suffices as a meal, and requires a nap after consuming.

It may not seem obvious what this recipe has to do with a blog about reading habits, but I read a lot of cookbooks. Here is a fruit of the habit:

"Super-rich Hot Chocolate with Coconut Cream" from Bon Appetit
(I think)

~makes 8 servings and takes less than 30 mins~
(I usually halve all the ingredients)

one 13.5 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk (light/reduced fat works fine)
1/4 cup sugar
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
1 2/3 cups whole milk
3 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (18 ounces)
marshmallows for serving (optional and I never do this)

In a small saucepan, combine the coconut milk and sugar and heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Keep warm.
In a medium saucepan, combine the cream and whole milk and bring to a simmer. Add the chocolate chips to the milk/cream mixture and remove from heat. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted: whisk until smooth. Pour chocolate into 8 mugs and spoon coconut milk on top (or just fill half of each mug; that is what I do). Marshmallow garnish.

Friday, September 25, 2009

"The Serenity in Stones" by Simon J. Ortiz

I am holding this turquoise
in my hands.
My hands hold the sky
wrought in this little stone.
There is a cloud
at the furthest boundary.
The world is somewhere underneath.

I turn the stone, and there is more sky.
This is the serenity possible in stones,
the place of a feeling to which one belongs.
I am happy as I hold this sky
in my hands, in my eyes, and in myself.


Thursday, September 24, 2009


Transparent New Home for Poetry in Lower Manhattan...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Statuary" by Katherine Larson

The late cranes throwing
their necks to the wind stay
somewhere between
the place that rain begins
& the place that it ends
they seem to exist just there
above the horizon at least
I only see them that way
tossed up
against the grey October
light not heavy enough
for feet to be useful or
useless enough to make
gravity untie its string. I'm sick
of this stubbornness
but the earthworms
seem to think it all right
they move forward
& let the world pass
through them they eat
& eat at it, content to connect
everything through
the individual links
of their purple bodies to stay
one place would be death.
But somewhere between
the crane & the worm
between the days I pass through
& the days that pass
through me
is the mind. And memory
which outruns the body &
grief which arrests it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just Because...

"Mockingbirds" by Mary Oliver

This morning
two mockingbirds
in the green field
were spinning and tossing

the white ribbons
of their songs
into the air.
I had nothing

better to do
than listen.
I mean this

In Greece,
a long time ago,
an old couple
opened their door

to two strangers
who were,
it soon appeared,
not men at all,

but gods.
It is my favorite story--
how the old couple
had almost nothing to give

but their willingness
to be attentive--
but for this alone
the gods loved them

and blessed them--
when they rose
out of their mortal bodies,
like a million particles of water

from a fountain,
the light
swept into all the corners
of the cottage,

and the old couple,
shaken with understanding,
bowed down--
but still they asked for nothing

but the difficult life
which they had already.
And the gods smiled, as they vanished,
clapping their great wings.

Wherever it was
I was supposed to be
this morning--
whatever it was I said

I would be doing--
I was standing
at the edge of the field--
I was hurrying

through my own soul,
opening its dark doors--
I was leaning out;
I was listening.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bright Star - The film

I think I had heard rumblings that someone was making a movie out of the John Keats-Fanny Brawne romance. Not only is this true, but check out the review by A. O. Scott: "Keats and His Beloved in an Ode to Hot English Chastity." Great title. And here's the sonnet, which speaks so beautifully for itself...

By John Keats
Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art---
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors---
No---yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillowed upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever---or else swoon in death.


"Seminar" by Justin Quinn

I carry America into these young heads,

at least some parts that haven’t yet got there—

Hawthorne’s Salem, Ellison’s blacks and reds,

Bishop’s lovely lines of late summer air.

The students take quick notes. They pause or dive

for dictionaries and laptops, or turn to ask

a friend as new words constantly arrive.

The more they do, the more complex the task.

They smoothly move from serious to blasé

and back again. I love the way they sit

and use their bodies to nuance what they say.

I lean forward to catch the drift of it.

When it’s ended, they’ll switch back to Czech,

put on their coats and bags, shift wood and chrome,

and ready themselves for their daily trek

across a continent and ocean home.

Published in the Sept. 14 issue of The New Yorker.

Monday, September 7, 2009


This new work of nonfiction by Dave Eggers is absolutely stunning. I am already thinking of ways to work it into my curriculum. I picked it up on Saturday and could not put it down until I finished it. Eggers retells the true and spellbinding story of Abdulrahman Zeitoun, an established painter/contractor in New Orleans who remains behind in his beloved city of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina. The owner of multiple pieces of property around town, he initially stays behind to secure his buildings and the worksites of his clients. However, in the days after the storm he finds a new purpose. He begins taking care of left-behind pets and saving people from their waterlogged homes. Traveling by canoe, he rounds the city on water, avoiding the gangs who are looting. One day he disappears at the hands of the American government. The story of what happens to him rattled me to the core. Eggers's opening epigraph from Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a brilliant piece of foreshadowing: "...in the history of the world it might even be that there was more punishment than crime..."
This is a story about the best and the worst of a post-9/11 America ruled by fear. I think it is required reading for everyone. Spend the $25 on the hardback copy now; all proceeds go to the Zeitoun Foundation.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Reading habits

I love that someone from the New York Times is interviewing subway riders about their reading habits. See here for what New Yorkers are reading underground these days. Great-looking mobile library, if I do say so myself. I find it fascinating that 24 people are reading Anna Karenina on the subway in any given week. What is it with that novel this summer (obviously I've never actually finished it...)? Two different friends of mine were also reading it in June and July. Must be something in the air.