Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Midweek update

Let's start with the food. Homemade pizza the other night. One of my best. Used almost the last of some tomato marinara spice, itself the last of one of those four-spices-in-one shakers given to me, it seems, so long ago. Added honey too. Awesome sweet and tomatoey crust. Toppings thin sliced full cut circles of tomatoes, onions, green peppers, and garlic. Three cheeses -- fresh romano, swiss, and mozzarella. Conventional canned pizza sauce. Sullivan's own Italian sausage, oregano and a bunch of other miscellaneous spices I can't remember.

This was my third pizza. It's official. I've got it down. Great pie.

First loaf of sourdough, while it did not rise as high as other breads I've baked, tasted very good, especially toasted. The bread was made with a mixture of organic rye flour and bleached, enriched Aldi's flour.

Baking's practical in many ways. It saves money on ingredients and cost. The physical labor of kneading warms the body while the oven warms the abode. Plus, dammit, it just feels good. The whole apartment fills up with the homey smell of baked bread.

Cooking smells are home smells. That's why I fell in love with cooking in the first place. It connects me with home, even though most of my dishes are not passed down. But at my house, the kitchen is where the action is, the heart of the home. It's only logical I should feel at home in my kitchen.

Some problems I have with homemade bread. While I'm still experimenting, I have not yet been able to create a loaf that has the same light, yet held together consistency of store-bought bread. When I go for the lightness, I get flaky crumbliness that falls apart, and more often than not err on the side of thickness due to my natural impatience and shortchanging the yeast time to rise. If I want a decent, held-together sandwich, I still have to go buy a loaf.
In other news, I am a week away from finalizing my credentials and beginning the job search. I got my third letter of recommendation this week and am sending my resume in for critique at the Career Center tomorrow. I will also make an appointment with a counselor to go over interview and cover letter tips. February begins the first barrage of resumes and cover letters. I won't develop a game plan until after I talk to a few people, including some NIU English Dept. folk.

I've got almost all the required readings for my courses and comprehensive exams.
Cross country skiied to class Tuesday morning. Early. 7:30 a.m. Sun low. Gained a little speed downhill to the railroad underpass on Pearl St. The world all quiet and snow blanket sun shine down John Street, coffee-clad book packers trundle roadside to campus boundaries, where await cleaner sidewalks, an armada of red and black blowers and plows.

Transcendent moment... As I skiied around the lagoon, I suspended the knowledge I was in the heart of the city and looked to the ground and the shadows of the trees on the snow, and the snow all windblown and crystallized golden in the early rays. And then eastward across a parking lot and through a patch of woods between Lincoln Highway and the computer science/psychology building. I didn't realize how many inclines there are in DeKalb, a benefit of skiiing I'd overlooked, this greater intimacy with slope.

Good exercise, but not as fast or efficient as walking. My hand-me-down skiis need to be re-waxed. I also need to develop a greater efficiency of motion. XC uses different muscles in the legs and more upper body strength than regular walking.

Seeing Jonny and Esther three days a week. She's still my best friend. Amazing sometimes. A strong connection still, a thread unbroken. It's easier, I guess, not living together, a better arrangement. I guess. Old habits die hard. Like speaking only in vague generalities about the intimate details of my soul. I don't have the courage to do that in a public forum, even one I'm contemplating shutting down, saving to a hard drive and out of general public knowledge. Maybe now, on the eve of that change, I will bare my soul. About love. Fears. My past. Everything.

Maybe not. We'll see.
Jonny. Jonny. He tells me he loves me, not often, randomly, like after I read him a story or, once, after I got him strapped in his car seat. And he always says it in a serious, low tone. Other times, right when I see him he yells "Daddy, no!" and clings to mother's leg. I just roll my eyes, say "ohhh-kay," and leave him be until he comes to me.

The first week of January, I took care of Jon two times during the day from 6A - 2:30P, while Esther was at work, and for one of the first times since I've cared for him during a weekday, he didn't cry for mama. I tried to cut off flapdoodle at the pass by reminding Jonny that mama was taking care of the babies and would be back later.

He is a walking advertisement for Spiderman, thanks to Christmas. Over Thanksgiving, Jonny saw one of his cousin's Spiderman toys and was smitten. I closely quizzed Esther about the origins of Jonny's interest in Spiderman because I was really into comic books when I was kid and Spiderman remains one of my favorite characters. Jonny got into Spiderman entirely on his own. Word got around. Now Jonny's got a spiderman shirt, fleece hat, shoes (with these big spiderman heads on each toe), car and action figure, ball, and there's more, I just can't remember it all.

I got him a mini-basketball and hoop. He looked at the net and said, "Webs," and then made this toddler effort at the thwip thwip of Spidey's web launchers. He can complete the lyrics for most of the 1967 Spiderman cartoon theme song. I say, "Look out!" and then we both say "Here Comes the Spiderman," and he does this "wah wah wah" noise for the trumpet part.

I'm not giving him access to my approximately 700 Spiderman comic books. Not yet. Not for another five years at least. For all of his verbal erudition, he can barely turn the pages of those bomb proof cardboard laminate books.

I could go on and on all day about Jonny, but I gotta get to bed. He's a good, kind-hearted, fun-loving, rambunctious, but ultimately well-behaved kid. His mother's still pretty cool too.

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