Saturday, January 19, 2008

Incisive cold

Saturday morning. First week of my last semester in the books. Whew! Busy times, but I see more reading, less hustle next week.

I'm officially broke. There's been some SNAFU with my financial aid. I'm not worried about getting any, but it will be delayed. Luckily, I will, I hope, with thrift, get through this by the skin of my teeth. Substitute teaching and a graduate assistantship stipend are all I am living on. This semester I will, best case scenario, sub three days a week. So far, I've been in high demand.

One thing that does not occupy my thoughts much is money. Not until the balance hovers near overdraft. Then, every activity and habit is scrutinized in the name of thrift. It's a fun mental exercise. Some of my best days are broke days. I read more. I eat less. Go to more public events because they're free. Walk. Walk. Walk. Me and the crazy lady with the platinum hair who spends her days roaming DeKalb and, yes, Sycamore. Hermitage and physical exercise.

Simplify. Simplify. Simplify. Seems like every Transcendentalist is deeply rooted in the finite, the listmania of Thoreau. That's what I aspire to...

"House $28 12 1/2
Farm one year 14 72 1/2
Food eight months 8 74
Clothing, &c., eight months 8 40 3/4
Oil, &c., eight months 2 00
In all $61 99 3/4," Thoreau, Walden

Hermitage. I like that word. Don't think I can live like a hermit. But I thought of that word when I was out in the desert backcountry of Arizona.

From Word of the Day, December 26, 2007.

"Your oath I will not trust,
but go with speed
To some forlorn and naked hermitage,
Remote from all the pleasures of the world." -- Shakespeare, Love's Labour's Lost

Hermitage is from Old French hermitage, from heremite, "hermit," ultimately from Greek eremites, "dwelling in the desert," from eremia, "desert," from eremos, "solitary; desolate."

Cold, cold, bitter cold. Stay close to the hearth. Or venture out in layers. Wish there was an inch more of snow, enough to cross country ski. Bitter wind chill, -24 degrees fahrenheit. Winterfest at Russell Woods. Mmmmm. Maybe not. We'll see.

Going to put the starter to the test with a loaf of bread. Something to warm my humble cell. This bread, to me, if successful, will be akin to starting a fire from scratch. Not as laborious, but the philosophy is there. Instead of using mail-order or store-bought yeast, I simply let flour and water ferment in open air for 5 days, throwing out half each day and replacing with fresh flour and water. I now have a bubbly, yeasty-smelling mixture. I will take the majority of that and knead it in with flour, water, salt, a little sugar, leave it to rise for a couple hours, punch down, you know, the usual bread thing.

I've been wanting to make my own sourdough starter for a long time and was surprised at how simple the process is to make it. From what I read online, rye flour is best. Naturally occurring yeasts are finicky and random. That's another uniquity of sourdough. Each strain bears a unique personality and flavor. It is the flavor of your environment.

Good! Now the starter is "proofing," yeast are multiplying as I type.

And now it's off to a basketball game with Jonny and Esther. And then to Winterfest. The boy's half-Scandihoovian and, bundled up into a waddling ball, he should be all right. Cold air is good air. Good for the bronchii.

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