Monday, March 31, 2008

How Green Was My Stream of Consciousness

Edited to say: the Christmas tree was boxed since Candlemas. R. wanted me to make that clear. 9:53 pm 3/31

Sorry for the light posting week. I was busy doing things like hosting Easter, driving to Philadelphia, and going to M.'s birthday party (having outsourced it to a wonderful place, I can't really claim to have hosted it). I also went a long way toward completion of the basement renovation I began in August. I won't post pictures until I'm completely done, but I will say that I managed to hang the wicker porch swing* and place the top on the craft table.**

My inspiration? Well, on Holy Saturday I got up bright and early and walked into my kitchen. I thought about the three kinds of bread I intended to bake for Easter dinner, and I pictured three energetic children dyeing eggs on the 2x3 butcher block table in the middle of the 13x13 kitchen where I intended to bake said bread, simultaneously, and I thought, no. Voila craft table.

Then I baked:

Those are cross buns, but they're a more rustic olive-oil, rosemary and golden raisin version. I wanted to avoid thick ribbons of icing, and I had already used a milky, eggy dough for the bunny-shaped loaves, faintly flavored with cardamom. On the far right are buttermilk biscuits (actually kefir as per my usual preference) shaped like little bunnies, lambs, chicks and a couple of really huge lambs.

As I baked, I listened to music. Holy Saturday is a tough day. It doesn't have the bleakness of Good Friday and the passion, but it isn't Easter yet. It should be a quiet day, a solemn day. So I went looking through the music and I thought my Welsh choirs CD would fit the bill. I've always been rather proud of the distant Welsh heritage that my maiden name seems to indicate. Land of song and all that. I like to play "We'll Keep A Welcome in the Hillsides" over and over, crying as I sing along: "We'll kiss away each hour of hiraeth/When you come home again to Wales." I love How Green Was My Valley, especially the mother's answer to her son's question of why she had children: "to keep my hands in water and my face to the fire!" I think of that whenever I have my hands in water, which is often. But then recently I read something--either at Spiked online or the Times Literary Supplement--that seemed to imply that the Welsh have a reputation in the U.K. for having difficult personalities. I can't find it anywhere now, but it certainly gave me pause.

Then I stopped by Ivebeenreadinglately after Mr. Stahl so kindly commented on my Anxiety of Influence post, and he had a commenter who discovered him while looking for stuff about John Cowper Powys and Owen Glendower, and I thought, perhaps this is Meant. I should read the Powys book. Even though I already love the incidental portrait of Glendower in Martha Rofheart's Fortune Made His Sword, and it will be hard to accept a different one. I wonder if anyone reads that anymore? It was rather dated and obscure when my English teacher pressed it on me in 1986, and it is available used on Amazon for 1 cent. I do recommend it. And that is the end of my stream of consciousness, except for the footnotes.

*Why am I hanging a wicker porch swing in the basement? Because I wanted to have seating in the basement, but all the seating I try to put down there ends up wet and moldy (skirted upholstered furniture + flooding = ick). L. mused, what about outdoor furniture, and I thought what about outdoor furniture that doesn't even touch the floor! Bingo.

**I first saw the project table in the Grandin Road catalog, and then I found the cheaper Target version, which my mother gave me for my birthday. Pottery Barn also has one, and they are, unaccountably, not currently showcasing the gorgeous espresso finish option. At any rate, I assembled the bookcases and stools "down cellar," as I usually refer to that area, in September. Right before Christmas I was inspired to ask my burly menfolk to take the table top out of the living room and carry it down to join its companions, where it leaned jauntily for three months and I dithered about where exactly the craft table should be. You see how our lives proceed in rich harmony with the liturgical calendar: the Christmas tree also made it up to the attic on Holy Saturday.

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