zirconium: snapshot of oysters enjoyed in Charleston (oysters)
[Subject line from Toni Morrison's "I Am Not Seaworthy," song 5 in Honey and Rue]

A year and a couple of days ago, I was in Charleston. Photos under the cut )
USPS bicycle
zirconium: photo of bell tower seen on a walk to the Acropolis (athens bell tower)
IMG_8717

[An aside to Mary: I enjoy the checklists.]


We want to do, to make, to shape, to give form, to give life, to pass it on, for the life of others and for the whole world. We want to love and be loved, to praise and give thanks for the gift of life, of light, of love. The human quest is a constant struggle for balance, for integration. For the monk, this is done in the milking of cows. In that simple activity, God is near. In gathering eggs, in weighing fruitcakes, in putting just the right measure of sugar in jelly, in baking bread, in wrapping cheese, God is to be found. Working and praying spring from one and the same source: the human heart. There are never enough hours in a day to get all the work done that is ours to do. And there are not enough lifetimes to thank God for the one and only life we have to live.

-- Michael Downey, Trappist: Living in the Land of Desire [emphasis mine]
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
Listening to: the USA Today stream of clips from Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer's "Child Ballads" album (link via my friend Katy). Between that and the severe weather making the sky so very grey, I'm inclined to spend the afternoon working on fairy-tale riffs (but tax prep is calling, calling).

Reading: the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. Pages 374-75 provide pleasingly detailed advice on buying fresh shrimp:


When buying shrimp with heads, note that they spoil quicker and that the heads constitute about 35 percent of the shrimp's weight. So if a recipe calls for 2 pounds of headless shrimp, shells on, buy almost 2 3/4 pounds whole shrimp with shells to compensate.



Keep in mind that a shrimp's shell and legs make up about 12 percent of its weight, so if you're using peeled shrimp in a recipe that calls for 2 pounds headless shrimp, shells on, you'll require only 88 percent of that weight, or about 1 3/4 pounds.


Today's lunchtime reading was a couple of sections of yesterday's New York Times. I was struck by two mentions of historians brought to tears, both within Dan Barry's article about the Jackie Clarke collection in Ireland. In the first, Barry speculates on prize artifacts that would have changed Sinead McCoole's initially low expectations of the collection:


Was it the fabric flower, called a cockade, that Wolfe Tone -- Wolfe Tone! -- wore affixed to his hat when he was captured while leading a failed rebellion against the English in 1798? When Ms. McCoole showed the cockade to a scholar friend steeped in that era, the scholar began to weep.


The other immediately reminded me of how difficult it can be to define and observe the scope of academic projects (...and, really, projects in any sphere, but as you might guess, scope comes up a lot in academic publishing):


Often, as Ms. McCoole set out to begin another wearying day of academic mining, one of the fish shop's employees, Smokey Gorman, would give her a cryptic greeting: "And you haven’t even gotten to the roof yet." For a while she thought this meant that Mr. Gorman might have spent too much time in the smokehouse, but Mrs. Clarke eventually told her that Mr. Gorman was referring to some "modern stuff" that he once helped Jackie Clarke carry to a storeroom built onto the roof.

One day, with the end of her papered tunnel in sight, Ms. McCoole went to that room on the roof, where loads of bundles were wrapped in relatively recent copies of the local newspaper. Inconsequential modern stuff, she thought. But when she opened a bundle or two, she found rare political pamphlets and newspapers dating to the 17th and 18th centuries.

"Instead of being euphoric, I cried for two days," Ms. McCoole said. “I cried and I cried and I cried. It was just more things to do. I knew the job hadn't ended."

But when she recovered Ms. McCoole realized that she was immersed in something very rare and wonderful, a feeling now validated by other scholars.
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
I was insisting to the Beautiful Young Man late last night that I have a heart of stone -- specifically because I will not ride with panniers on my bike every day just in case I come across a puppy in need of rescuing (long story) -- and he was laughing at me at length, because it is true that I can be somewhat daft about doggies, especially when they happen to be a mongrel named Abby. And it is also true that I tend to pause (paws!) for business that set out water bowls on the sidewalk:

dog bowl

So when I saw this in front of a needlepoint shop in Charleston, I went inside, where I was greeted eagerly:

greeter

I didn't take pictures of the designs on display, but I was impressed at the plethora of canvases of dogs ready for a more experienced needlepointer to tackle. It being almost Christmas at the time, there were also plenty of holiday designs on offer at the time.

(I was crazy about needlepoint in 7th grade, to the extent of designing my own projects, but then got caught up in other obsessions. But the store had a handful of beginner-appropriate kits available, including a coin purse with a sunflower design, so I picked that up for some future holiday...)

IMG_6106
Cabbage Row Shoppe
Note the palmettos on the sidewalk as well -- they're very much an emblem of the Holy City. (The cocktail napkins at 82 Queen have palmettos on them, and I'm sure they're in a bunch of other logos as well.)
zirconium: snapshot of cookie cutter star from sorghum marshmallow making (Default)
[I will probably be posting a fair bit about Charleston here over the next two weeks, because: work will be riding my tail, which means I won't be doing much in the way of extracurriculars; I need to organize my notes and snapshots anyway; some tweeps may be heading there next month for the Family Circle Cup (women's tennis); and I hope to go back in 2014 to see some tennis (there's also a challenger-level tournament there) and visit more Revolutionary War-related sites (including getting a drink at McCrady's, which I didn't manage back in November. George Washington attended a banquet there).]

I learned two new English words while reading Madeleine Kamman's introduction to oysters in The New Making of a Cook (p. 668): midden and iodic. I also learned about the claires for French-farmed oysters: "fattening ponds watered by the regular tides and in which the oysters develop to their market size."

Anyway, I was looking this up because I was revising an old poem about oysters, and this in turn reminded me of the great meal I had at Fleet Landing back in December, on my last morning in Charleston. I'd decided that I wanted to try she-crab soup before I left town, preferably someplace where I could also treat myself to a platter of good oysters, and a local oysterman on Yelp recommended Fleet Landing.

The soup and the shellfish were both wonderful, and so was the view from my seat:

view from the patio

more photos under the cut )
zirconium: photo of flask with feathers in and around it (flask with feathers)
Dorothy L. Sayers
A page of a Dorothy L. Sayers manuscript that was on display at the Karpeles Museum in Charleston, December 2012

The Karpeles is located in what used to be a church in one of the less affluent neighborhoods of downtown Charleston; the balcony still contains the facade of an ornate organ. I visited the branch in Jacksonville as well; the displays tend to be on the amateur side (lots of exclamation points and other stylistic quirks), but photographs are allowed and it was delightful getting so close to draft pages of Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles, John Adams's correspondence (including his apology for pages scribbled on by a granddaughter), and other treasures.

(This exhibit closed at the end of December, but there's now one on Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini at the Karpeles in Newburgh, NY, to the end of April.)

Back to my current manuscripts and spreadsheets...
zirconium: photo of bell tower seen on a walk to the Acropolis (athens bell tower)
...what with yesterday-today being Tu B'Shevat...

Mepkin Abbey
Mepkin Abbey (South Carolina), December 2012

A few knots away
from the graves of soldiers and gadflies,
trees entwine
with the remnants of promises.


From things that make me happy

An apple tree in my mother's yard (Kentucky), April 2008

Briyah

On the New Year of Trees,
I squeeze the last
of the backyard grapefruit
my sister picked for me.
The lemons from her yard
are steeping in a jar,
the vodka from a friend
who died six years ago.
The pantry holds olives
for when I miss Greece,
which has been at once
for ever and never --
its unburied garbage
and unappeasable ghosts,
its sunlit branches
and well-tended ruins.
Now and then,
I dream of my mother
in a house that is neither
hers nor mine
and yet we know
our way around it,
the way I know
how this pie will taste
even though I have
not yet cut into it.

- pld

Meyer lemon vodka
zirconium: photo of Greek style coffee, Larnaca, October 2011 (coffee in Cyprus)
Earlier this afternoon, my dog continued ripping the guts out of her old Santa toy and then started dry heaving.

My state of mind isn't quite that bad, but things are a bit crunchety here wrt the time-space continuum, which (as many of you know) I have an ongoing lovers' quarrel with at the best of times. So sharing my notes and snapshots of the archives, bookstores, chapels, graveyards, and restaurants I visited on my way back from Miami (via Jacksonville, Charleston, and various cities in North Carolina) will have to wait until the new year.

As it happens, I'm booked through January work-wise, so it'll be nice to go through the sheaves during breaks from citation-herding. Plus many of you are still in the thick of your own elfish/elven plots...

But speaking of elven plots -- there is no escape! [click the images to enlarge]

Karpeles Manuscript Museum, Charleston There is no escape from Tolkien

I went to the Karpeles Museum in Charleston to look at the Doyle, Sayers, and Fleming manuscripts they had on display there. I'll write more about that later, but the salient point is that the building used to be a Methodist church in a rather run-down part of the city, and the stalls in the women's bathroom are papered accordingly, with flocks of angels ... and, inside one door, a very detailed family tree lifted from LOTR. LOL.

Another delight was the Stowe Garden's orchid "tree":

Me and the orchid tree orchid tree closeup

(16 ft. tall. 300 orchids. An aside to Nashvillians: my Cheekwood membership covered admission to the garden and three museums, and would've covered the NC Arboretum if I'd had time for it.)

And here's me with an old pal on the Green in downtown Charlotte:

me w/a fishy friend

Wishing you all a smooth end to the year (or a crackletastic one, if you're into fireworks and other happy kabooms), and a happy and healthy 2013 ahead.

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