Friday, January 31, 2014

A reprieve

Last night, as I walked the few blocks to happy hour, I felt it: a change, a reprieve, a release from the grip of ice. And I felt so happy, and grateful.

(This was the temperature--without wind chill--
when I was getting ready for work on Tuesday...)

 (... and here's the bank sign as I drove past, a little after 9 a.m.
Classes were not cancelled.)

(The temperature this morning. Such a relief.)

I noticed, walking past an apartment building, that I could hear dripping in the gutters. Water was running outside; ice was melting. I hadn't heard that sound in at least a week.

And the wind was different--the way it felt on my skin. It seemed to have a different personality. It felt rounder, softer. Rather than feeling like I was being cut with an edge, when the wind hit my face I felt like it was a cheek, or the underneath part of a forearm. Rounder, softer.

And then something inside me relaxed. The animal part of me felt so relieved--we can survive this. We'll be okay. It was palpable. My awareness calmed down; it felt like I'd been on alert this past week, and I finally relaxed.

This morning, the heavy equipment down at the end of the block is going again, workers digging a deep hole in the road. The air is soft. There's still snow everywhere. But somehow everything's different.

I'll be thinking about our ancestors and how they survived winter, and how they knew its shapes and watched for changes as the earth moved towards spring.

I hope you are warm and well.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Report from Chicago (day one)

This post is especially for my friend Marjorie Boyer, who was hoping I'd keep the status updates coming on FB... I wanted to say more than would fit there, so here we go!

The sun came up (another everyday miracle) and I was able to see the lake. It's frozen!

(morning at Lake Michigan, as seen between the buildings...)

I accidentally got up earlier than I meant to, but that gave me plenty of time to get ready to go have brunch with one of my favorite OWU alums. We had a giant meal and talked and talked over multiple cups of coffee.

See that little bit of light in the picture above? That's about as much sun as we saw all day. It was pretty grey, and there's been light snow. There's slush all over everything, and salt. I keep having to clean my shoes and watch out for slush-puddles. (Alas, I did not see any slush funds.)

There are lots of smart and interesting and personable people here at the conference. And, judging by the people I saw out and about, Chicagoans seem pretty unflappable. They will not be flapped!

I crossed the river a couple times--also frozen!

(Ice floes on the Chicago River)

I got a little turned around on my way "home" to the hotel where I'm staying--after successfully finding the hotel where we're doing the interviews (different), the hotel where I went to hear a panel (another different), and the Bombay Grill, where I had some delicious curry.

As I kept trying to orient myself, I had lines of a new poem running through my head--about getting lost, feeling awry--and so I'm going to go write those down.

But first, and also: alas, signs of the colonizer. (They are everywhere, as those colonizers are the heroes of our national mythology.)

("The Explorers," at the Michigan Avenue bridge)

(The site for the fort was ceded through a treaty made in Ohio, 
after the Battle of Fallen Timbers... Here's a link with more info.)

And, to end on a lighter note: I thought this sign--in the back of the room where I heard a panel of papers on Emily Dickinson's poetry--was somewhat entertaining.

In addition to being stuck in the back of the room, apparently the bloggers and tweeters are also never fed, and so they had to nibble on that piece of paper.

I hope you're having a lovely day, wherever you find yourself.


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy 2014 good luck food

We were traveling home from Detroit on January 1st, so I didn't have a chance to cook any good-luck foods. It was already a spot of good luck that we made it through a snowstorm--er, correction, Winter Storm Hercules!--with no problems. From Detroit to Toledo, the snow was really steady and the roads were slushy and bumpy. It was slow going, but everyone was driving safely and carefully, and the whole way we only saw one car in the ditch. That felt darn lucky.

There was no snow at home. And when we got there, everyone who was making their black-eyed peas and cornbread and kale and pork and sauerkraut and  posting photos on FB made me a little envious. So I thought: we can do that on January 2nd, right? We can do that and still have good luck for 2014, don't you think? There must be a special dispensation for travelers and those others who can't cook on the 1st. Hmmm...

Well, I hope so. In fact, yes. I'm declaring that the good-luck foods I made today are just fine and right on time and they were delicious, too. Even the teenager ate some black-eyed pea soup, and he does not like beans nor soup. That in itself is kind of magic, yes?

I made the Chipotle and Black-Eyed Pea Soup I saw on BlogHer; here's the link.

My variations: well, our grocery store did not have chipotle chili powder, so it turned out to be non-chipotle. (I'd like to make it with chipotle chili powder sometime, as I adore anything chipotle-flavored--maybe the Mexican grocery store on the other side of the railroad tracks will have some...)

And I forgot to buy an immersion blender today. I got kind of caught up in work stuff--I had a long meeting, then I was making a syllabus for a course I'm revising a whole bunch. And making a new-ish syllabus is always like trying to put together a puzzle when you can't see the picture you're aiming for, and sometimes there are pieces missing, or--more often--too many pieces to fit in the puzzle. After today's work, it's time for me to cut some pieces from the picture, even though they might be awesome and beautiful.

And when I walked outside to my car, I forgot all about the idea of shopping at all--it was so very cold outside. The snow was beautiful, but the wind was so strong it was almost scary. There were actual snow drifts, with those cuts in them that look like desert hills, just like I've seen on the prairie. (I've never seen that in Ohio before!) Some kind of instinct kicked in and I just wanted to get home where I'd be warm and safe.

So I still don't have an immersion blender, and the two neighbors I thought most likely to have one didn't either, so I used a potato masher. Not the same result, but it was darn close! Side dishes were: mac and cheese (thereby making the teenager very happy), cornbread muffins, and a green salad.

We said our gratefuls at the beginning of the meal, the hubby & child declared the food good, and we all had seconds of something, and it was a good dinner after a full day. May we have good luck in 2014, and may you have good luck, too.

Happy new year!