Friday, April 25, 2014

Working in the Kitchen

There's a lot of spare time in the writer's life, if that writer has the luck to only have to work a "real" job every so often. That's me right now: I work a couple short shifts a week just to have a notional income, and once every couple months work a couple weeks full time, but pretty much I have a good amount of freedom in my life (for which all thanks go to my wonderful husband Adam.)

Because I have a lot of time, I've been getting into regular kitchen work, stuff I do every few days like one might imagine was done in Oldentymes (tm), but probably wasn't at anything like the casual level I get to do it at. I bake bread, for instance, with a very easy recipe, every two or three days. It's pretty good stuff, very easy to do, and though it doesn't really toast up noticeably, I still eat it almost every morning with peanut butter or cream cheese or just plain butter. Adam loves granola, so I make him up some every few days, with another pretty simple recipe that I play around with a little, but the general process is very simple: add some maple syrup and salt and oil to granola, and bake it for half an hour, stirring it up half way through. And sometimes I make cookies, or pizza, or pasta sauces. And just now I cooked up a batch of shrub, which is a weird vinegar based drink that you make with fruit and sugar and that was pretty popular in the Colonies, a couple/three hundred years back.

I like going into the kitchen and doing stuff. I especially like it when it's something that Adam likes, which essentially determines all the things that I make. Everything I cook takes only a little time, with some waiting around, and I wonder at how many people don't do anything of the sort. I understand that there's not so much time and space for a good number of folks, but really, making food for yourself in most cases barely takes more time and effort than getting takeout or making something from the freezer/a box in the cupboard, and is more fun and better for you.

Very lucky to be able to do this, I know that. And lucky to have the time to shop, to let things rise and bake, to have the mobility and space to prepare things, etc, etc. I know that, and I am happy that I have those advantages. But so do so many others in the world who complain they don't have time for things like that but can still binge watch all 5 seasons of The Wire in a week, or what have you. Which you can do while making bread, come to think of it.

I really should get around to watching The Wire.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bright the Morning

It's one of those beautiful days that we get sometimes in Seattle, where the morning air is clear and the sun is bright and even in the little courtyard that my windows look out on, you can see the light. We live in a little apartment building, twelve units curled around that courtyard that's got a little cafe table in it, and a tiny fountain, and a wall of stones that are covered in greenery. It's actually a really lovely view, but because it's sunken, and because there are buildings around, it doesn't get much light. So a morning like this is precious, and wonderful. It won't last; the clouds are coming in, or thickening up, or whatever you want to say, but there's light right now and it's good.

I'm drinking coffee from the coffeemaker we just got, the very most basic thing that could exist, but I'm happy to have it. We've been using a Kuerig clone, K Cups of single serve coffee, and that was really convenient, but it was also expensive, and the machine was kind of erratic. Sometimes a full cup of coffee, sometimes a third of a cup of coffee. I got very tired of it, and decided it was time to just get a Mr. Coffee, and so I did. Adam doesn't much care for it, I think: he likes his single cups, either from the Kuerig machine (but we're getting rid of that) or the espresso machine or Starbucks Via, which he adores. I'm satisfied with anything, myself, and just the regular, crappy Folgers in my cup just now is fine.

There's a book beside me, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, which I'm about two thirds of the way through, and which is incredible. The story of a woman, Henrietta Lacks, who in 1951 goes in for cancer treatment and has some of her cancerous cells taken without her knowledge (standard procedure at the time, and still somewhat even today) which turned out to be the most viable and vibrant cells ever cultured: quickly reproducing, dominant over other cells, hardy, versatile. They've been used in thousands of experiments; they helped cure polio and helped discover how genes work; they're invaluable but, if one is honest, worth billions. Her family never knew about them until 20 years later, and then spent decades still not knowing much of anything about what they were, or what they meant, or how they came to be. The book is the story of Henrietta, of her family, of the HeLa cells that came from this perfectly ordinary yet completely remarkable woman, and of all the science and legal battles and medical mischief that surrounded the whole saga. It's spectacular, and you should read it.

The sun's faded away rather a bit, though it's still bright outside. I need to get some more coffee. I need to write up some answers for questions for my paperback edition. I need to spend time with the husband. So I think I'm done with this entry. I will be back soon, though.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I should write more

I'm not going to pretend that I will be back here all the time. I'm not going to claim that I'll post three times a week. I'm going to say I will try to post here, though it doesn't matter, since I'm the only one who reads this thing.

Anyway. Winter is a slow and sluggish time for me. I drift into almost complete inactivity given the chance. And that's where I've been at for a great long time. I mean to be better. One always does, though, doesn't one?

I've got a few rereads to post about. I've got some old books I've caught up on to discuss. I've got some thoughts on writing. I've got a few shows I've liked.

We'll see. Maybe tomorrow? Maybe the weekend? Who knows.