• the gift of a lovely new teapot
• getting to see my sister and her family for Christmas
• the clarity that a single word can bring when it's the descriptor you need
• being able to pay this month's credit card bill
• growing older
"I don’t write poetry when I wish, I write when I can’t, when my larynx is flooded and my throat is shut."Lately I spend too much of the night chasing myself in panicky laps around the inside of my head. The idea of opening my journal frustrates me for some reason on such nights, so when I'm fed up with lying in bed I rise and fill loose pages with the things that I can't yet make my peace with, and pretend they're going somewhere in the mail, perhaps to my freshman-year roommate's mailbox in Massachusetts. I don't know, maybe they are.
– Anna Kamienska
So I'm back in the U.S.
When I went through customs, the officer who took my declaration form and passport said to me, "Your accent has changed."
Yes. My California accent had softened into something less conspicuous. Fewer rhotics, tidier vowels. I have a good ear and I'm suggestible in that way. (In addition to not liking to be involuntarily conspicuous. Oh, I felt so self-conscious the first couple weeks whenever I had to speak to a cashier or bus driver...)
I wanted to cry when he said that. I don't want to lose this; I don't want to lose any of it. I want to hold these last three months and know that I can keep them, can keep who I was there and how I felt and what I saw and knew, and I'm not sure yet how else to do that but on my tongue.
Dear Miss Holly,As always, if you have ever helped pay her sponsorship fees, consider it addressed to you.
Jeanima is pleased to write you this letter. She's greeting you in the name of the Savior Jesus. She lets you know that she and her family are fine. Her school activities are going well; she succeeded and she got promoted to grade 6. She thanks you a lot for the letter. She's pleased to hear from you. Jeanima is thanking you for the birthday gift. She bought a hen with it. She lets you know that at this moment, they are planting trees in her neighborhood.
She asks you whether you like horses. She asks you to pray for her to that God can change her life. She lets you know that she's praying God to always keep you in good health. She wishes you a good summer vacation 2012.
I am taking a break from my point-and-shoot 365 for a little while. I haven't been wanting to pick up that camera as often lately — it has been feeling like an interruption to what it documents.
I took my journal down to the beach this evening before dinner. I wrote about spitefulness. My impulse to spite, should you be interested, is strong and strange, but there are only three or four people who bring it out in me.
The waves were cold and very bright in the lowering sun. In the pauses, when I looked up at the sand and the water and the birds and my feet and tapped my pen to consider, I kept thinking, You will remember this so fondly once it is out of reach. That has been a saving question for me to ask myself before — Will I remember this fondly? Then savor it while it's here. Will there be anything to remember? If not, do something differently.
By this time next month, I'll be back in California and the sun will suddenly be setting before five rather than after seven. Strange! I feel invigorated and ready for December and the coming year.
When I step outside here, I hear the wind, the waves breaking a few backyard fences away, and the stand of big gum trees up the road blowing in the wind. That's all.
The air is warm. Dry.
It's the kind of free space I wrote about in January.
That might be the thing I love most about Australia, and Western Australia in particular. Even in the middle of the cities, somehow you can always sense the vastness of this land. The mostly-emptiness (though "empty" is a tricky word) — the spaciousness on the horizon. Standing at the edge of the Indian Ocean, I look up and down the coast and feel such relief knowing that unlike in California, there is an end to the houses, and it is never far. Breathing is so easy here, in this expanse.
I have no picture of this, but it is my favorite banana bread ever. It's dense, not crumbly or oily, and has just the right amount of sweetness, with a nice lightly crusted top.
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup mashed fully ripened bananas
1/4 cup yogurt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped nuts (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugar. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Blend in banana pulp. Add baking powder, soda, and salt. Alternate adding the flour and yogurt. Pour into a well-greased and floured loaf pan. Bake on the center rack for about one hour. Remove from pan and cool on rack.
Makes one loaf.
Adapted from the Sunset Cook Book of Favorite Recipes (1973).