This week's flavors of happiness



The two-month-old Goldendoodle puppy that I watch a few times a week. We love each other a lot.

How the sheets at the foot of my bed are warm for my toes when my cat's been sleeping there.

The satisfying hissing sound that stir-frying vegetables make as you push them around the pan.

Creating good routines for myself and settling into them.

IM-facilitated cultural exchange with my little Aussie bloggy sister...

Who also happens to be my birthday twin, and our birthday is this coming Monday, did you know?

The last German class of this quarter. Three people pulled out bottles of wine to share, and we watched a depressing short film. Yay!

This Edith Piaf song. Edith Piaf makes the best music for the Sunday morning drive to church with my family.

When you vacuum and can actually see dust bunnies vanishing or hear pieces of dirt rattling up the tube.

Plotting criminal activity with Cassandra.

A third-grade girl referring to me and herself as "two happy women."

"...the fabulous country impartially far..."

Blue Lagoon, by quicksilver5001

I haven't worn this swimsuit since Iceland. It's still stiff with minerals.

Starting Wednesday, I'll return to posting about the week in Iceland until I finish telling.

I don't want to forget anything.

n.b. If you weren't here when I was posting about the trip before, the first half of the Iceland narrative is here.

If you have three spare minutes...

...I would love for you to watch these short videos by a couple of my dear bloggy friends, Summermoon and Miss Erin.

They've both entered the Find Beauty Challenge, which asks them to define beauty and explain what it means to them. The finalists will be chosen based on ratings and number of hits, so it'd be wonderful if you would click on over, watch, and let them know in stars what you think.

You can watch Summermoon's video here, and Erin's here.

Danke sehr, Freunde!
Cuileann

Today was not perfect


I woke up with a headache, someone was displeased with me, I am still catching up on linguistics reading. Today was not perfect, but it was underlain by a general state of okay, I think. And that's enough.

And now, to sit in the slanting early-evening sunlight, my fingertips cold from the tangerine I just peeled, writing a letter to a dear friend to tell her how happy I am—how lucky I am, and doubly so to be able to write that without any irony this time.

The other sort of heartache

The sweeter sort that you get when you read something that is not just beautiful, but so singingly true...

This poem captures the best kind of happiness so perfectly that I can practically taste it just reading these lines. I love the wishes that the speaker expresses in the third stanza, but it is the last stanza that makes my heart ache.

From Blossoms

From blossoms comes
this brown paper bag of peaches
we bought from the boy
at the bend in the road where we turned toward
signs painted Peaches.

From laden boughs, from hands,
from sweet fellowship in the bins,
comes nectar at the roadside, succulent
peaches we devour, dusty skin and all,
comes the familiar dust of summer, dust we eat.

O, to take what we love inside,
to carry within us an orchard, to eat
not only the skin, but the shade,
not only the sugar, but the days, to hold
the fruit in our hands, adore it, then bite into
the round jubilance of peach.

There are days we live
as if death were nowhere
in the background; from joy
to joy to joy, from wing to wing,
from blossom to blossom to
impossible blossom, to sweet impossible blossom.

- Li-Young Lee

I first read this at Chloe's blog, heart-shaped morning.

Poetry Friday roundup hosted by Julie Larios at The Drift Record.

Recipe: Kitchen Sink Bread

As per request, here [finally] is the recipe for the bread whose making I shared pictures from previously.

It's called Kitchen Sink Bread, as in "everything but the kitchen sink" because you can put lots of different kinds of flours in it, but I usually call it Hippie Bread [note: no psychoactive drug content].

It's a nice thick bread, soft but hearty. I like it buttered with honey, or served with soup. When it's not quite as fresh, it's still a delicious breakfast or snack toasted.

n.b. You don't need all the different kinds of flours to make this, although I suggest trying a mix if you can. If all you have is white or whole wheat or whatever, it'll still come out fine. The important thing is the total amount of flour (about 6 cups).

To make 2 loaves, you will need:

approx. 4 C white flour
1/3 C wheat germ
1/3 C milk powder
1 T salt
1/4 C honey
1/2 C cracked wheat
1/3 C bran
2 packages active dry yeast
3 T butter
2 1/4 C water, as hot as you can get it out of the tap
2 C of any combination of any flours*

(*My mom's favorite mix is 1/4 C soy flour, 1/2 C whole wheat, 1/2 C rye or graham, and 3/4 C oats. I'd recommend millet, too. The only caveat: to keep the bread from tasting bitter, don't use more than 1/4 C of soy flour.)

Stir together 2 C white flour and the cracked wheat, wheat germ, bran, milk powder, yeast, and salt.

Add the margarine, honey, and hot tap water. Beat to combined. Add 1 C flour and beat to combine some more.

Gradually blend in the different flours, then add enough white flour to make a soft dough.

Knead for 5-10 minutes on a floured surface, then cover loosely with plastic and let it rest on the surface for 20 minutes.

Divide the dough in half. Roll each half into a log to make a loaf, sealing the ends by pinching them under it.

Put them into oiled pans, oil the tops of the loaves, and cover them with plastic. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. You can keep them in the fridge for up to 24 hours; additional time will neither improve nor worsen the end product.

When you take them out of the fridge, unwrap them and let them stand for 10 minutes while the oven preheats to 400°F.

Just before putting them in, check for air bubbles on the loaves. If you see any, prick them with a toothpick.

Let them bake for 35-40 minutes, then remove them from the pans immediately to cool on cooling racks.

As always, I'd love to hear how it goes if you try this recipe, and if you blog about it as well, let me know and I'll link you in this post.

Insomnia

A map of me, of a moment sometime shortly before four AM.


Bach's fourth cello suite: ears

thumbs: hipbones

eyes: glow-in-the-dark sky-ceiling

thoughts: jumping back and forth across the border of "what might have been" and "what I will make happen."


Want to play?

What points would you plot to locate yourself, to map a moment? Remember, this being a map, the primary question is "where" not "what." [Feel free to use points different from mine, e.g. toes, eyelids, notebook, et cetera...]

A day in which I make something delicious is a good day






I made a Caribbean stir fry with my mom tonight. First we stir-fried squash, plantains, cabbage, onions, ginger, carrots, sweet pepper, and green beans - then we mixed in cashews and noodles - then over everything, coconut milk. Delicious.

I love stir frying.

Watching

There--do you see?
How, arching her back,
she stretches a limb(song long without words)
into each dimension
?

These people
with their flying gestures,
their lithe, shifting legs...

Such people!

For all that they look to be composed
solely
and so gorgeously

of breath and fingertips,

how much more space
each occupies in this universe
than I.

[Scribbling from the first intermission of the San Francisco Ballet's performance this afternoon.]

Alas, no cats in this bag


I took a picture yesterday as I was emptying out my bag, because I think those "what's in my bag" posts give an interesting glimpse into a person's daily life.

The inventory:

- Sanrio wallet
- receipt from the post office
- water bottle
- San Francisco Ballet season brochure
- tissues
- cell phone
- Burt's Bees chapstick
- hand sanitizer (but I promise I am not a germophobe)
- combination lock for locker at the YMCA
- envelope of photo prints picked up from Walgreens
- bobby pins
- journal
- pen and pencil
- my keys (house, car, bike lock)
- the key to the house where I puppysit

Hm...I tag anyone who feels like doing this. Also Summermoon, PinkAppleCore, Gretchen, and Odessa, just for a start, but of course only if they want to.

Ungone

Today I am finally well again!

I had a fever from Tuesday to Sunday. I got so very bored of being inside and not having enough energy to do anything besides lie around.

My sixteen-year-old sister was sick too; she missed four days of school. (Also when I was too ill to get out of bed and I texted her for snacks, she threw the saltines at my poor prone form...wicked girl.)

We both just slept and watched TV all day and got cabin fever. I cannot say how much I appreciate having the energy to do chores and go walking and concentrate on books again.

So now I'm catching up with your blogs.

Bedtime

My hands chase my cat awake
and out of my blankets.
I curl up in the grumpy warm space she leaves,
keep vigil with a volume of Akhmatova
over Monday's birth.

This week's flavors of happiness

San Francisco winters. Cool, rainy, and green. After experiencing a Chicago winter, I really appreciate a Mediterranean climate...especially the fact that the weather here in January doesn't want to kill you.

Buddhist monks who wear sneakers with their robes. [Example.]

Sitting in front of my heater with a big bowl of salty steamed veggies and a favorite book.

Guy Delisle's books, and the fact that I can read his [French-language] blog. He has written several awesome graphic novels about his experiences in North Korea, China, and Burma, respectively. I highly recommend them to anyone interested in other countries. He is the perfect narrator for travel stories - smart, insightful, a bit cynical, with a sense for the absurd. By the way, does anyone know a tidy term for a graphic novel that is non-fiction, i.e. not a novel?

This week's mini-renaissance on Little Red Reading Hood, that loveliest of message boards.

Reading the news (source of choice) and feeling not-as-ignorant about current events.

My little sister's sense of drama.

A blog award from the talented PinkAppleCore.

Analyzing and making sense of my family. ♥ my therapist.

Making big plans that might never go anywhere. I am looking at some summer language intensives, including an ICELANDIC one that takes place in a very beautiful isolated part of Iceland which I was unable to see in November. I'm drifting away on wishful sighs...

Confession Tuesday


In the middle of a frenzy of quote-copying and lines-writing at the library one night, my only pencil runs out of graphite. I fill my pockets with library-tiny pencils, switching whenever one grows dull. (They were admirably sharpened; thank you, librarians.) My cat plays with them for days, rolling them between her paws like a Lolcat trying to evolve thumbs. Tomorrow I will return them and my conscience will be easy again. Not really; I'm just tired of having them on my floor.

I made a list of all the other things I have stolen in my life: flowers from gardens, a ring from my sister, a Pocahontas necklace from my friend, a textbook from a church* (borrowed with the intention of returning!), and food from my college's dining hall.

I confess once I remembered the church textbook, I didn't want to share the list.

I confess I have listened to this song at least twenty times in the past twenty hours.

Are you innocent of theft? Have you a story?

*which I will confess I got into through a window

Bonus truth: I do too many memes

Dear Q has tagged me for another one of those self-disclosure memes. Ten true things about myself that you didn't know.

Truth the first. I gave up makeup recently.

Truth the second. No one in my family knows I blog.

Truth the third. One of my favorite cures for an ugly me or ugly day is flowers for my hair.

Truth the fourth. On Saturday I received a beautiful gift from a friend. It made me feel beloved. Which is, I think, what a gift ought to do.

Truth the fifth. I think I had OCD when I was in middle school.

Truth the sixth. I have been in the entertaining role in too many circles of friends.

Truth the seventh. As far as I can tell, people always think I am younger than I am. The last time I bought shoes, the salesperson gave me a container of bubbles. (If you think this truth suggests that I should reconsider the decision of truth the first, go away.)

Truth the eighth. I have to pay close attention to keep myself from making a paper person out of myself on this blog. It's tempting because paper Cuileann seems much more likeable.

Truth the ninth. Even when I am horribly depressed, I can walk outside and think, Thank God I am in San Francisco! This city is truly my paradise.

Truth the tenth. I pride myself too much on my good taste.

Read in February

1. Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover, by Ally Carter
2. Side Show: My Life With Geeks, Freaks, & Vagabonds in the Carny Trade, by Howard Bone
3. A View of the Ocean, by Jan de Hartog
4. Inside Out, by Nadia Shivack
5. A Bottle in the Gaza Sea, by Valerie Zenatti
6. Nothing, by Robin Friedman
7. Red Colored Elegy, by Seiichi Hayashi
8. Dragon Slippers, by Jessica Day George
9. Once Upon a Time in the North, by Philip Pullman
10. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith, by Anne Lamott
11. Click, by [a whole boatload of authors]
12. Burma Chronicles, by Guy Delisle
13. Letters to Children, by C.S. Lewis
14. Paper Towns, by John Green
15. Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta
16. Thin, by Lauren Greenfield

The best:

Red Colored Elegy, a somewhat existential graphic novel about a young couple in Japan. Not the easiest to follow (though not a whole lot happens), but occasionally quite poignant. The artwork is enthralling.

Dragon Slippers is a light, fast-paced fantasy. Quite delightful. Would recommend it to people who like Gail Carson Levine's fantasies.

Traveling Mercies is a series of reflective personal essays on faith and the author's life. Wise and thought-provoking, but she doesn't try to wrap up every story neatly with a moral.

Jellicoe Road
, a tangly contemporary young adult novel set at an Australian boarding school. Somewhat dark (though not overall), and very in-sucking. Melina Marchetta is one of my favorite authors, no question.

Thin is a collection of photos and interviews from a residential eating disorder treatment center, and a tie-in to the documentary of the same name. Revealing but extremely sensitive.

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