And yet, amongst the cracked cloudline of an evening’s cast, I focus on a single strain of light, calling me forth to believe in a better morrow.
–F. Scott Fitzgerald during the flu pandemic of 1919
From my bunker to your bunker
I am writing another newsletter. There is not a lot of news, per se. There is The Misery on television, the devastation of the economy, and dead people. More dead people are anticipated, particularly in Florida and other places where “rights” are being violated and many feel the need to exercise their rights as citizens to go out and infect the rest of us. Nice job.
I’m still alive, in great health, and playing by the rules. I have everything I need. By now we have absorbed the meaning of the expression that today is all we have. Living in the present is new to most of us. But now, we do not concern ourselves with newsletters to come. There is only this one.
Cooking as theatre
During the past couple of weeks I’ve cooked linguini with clam sauce, Irish soda bread, and a Provencal recipe for braised lamb shanks. Another batch of chocolate chip cookies, eggplant Parmesan. Minestrone soup. This is an unusual amount of kitchen time, but I enjoy it. And, what else is there to do? I cook it, I eat it, I share it with the special people in my life.
The theatres are dark, so I have begun to think of cooking as theatre. Into this mental process recently wandered one of my Facebook friends, Pascal Sauton, Eater’s Hottest Chef 2013. Pascal has what I think of as the French sense of humor, which made me fall in love with that country so many years ago. In the boredom of isolation, Pascal has been entertaining us with home-grown cooking shows from his kitchen in France. Who knew that gin was an ingredient in tarte tatin? I loved the video. You will too, whether you love to cook, as I do, or not. Merveilleux! Encore!
Pascal posts cooking on YouTube every couple days or so. Portland chefs Vitaly Paley, Gabriel Rucker, Cathy Whims, Leather Storrs, and others have been shaking some pans as well. You can find them on Facebook or try YouTube.
Time of plague
This is Day 36 of The Misery. I’m sick of it. I’m even sick of the jokes, and there have been some good ones. I did see a recent video on FB of Jose Carreras singing to his neighbors. Be still my beating heart! That made my day!
I walk with my neighbors every day, and often take a second walk. The weather has been beautiful, and the Victory Garden we are developing at my daughter’s house has gotten hours of attention. She works at home most days. I go over and play in the dirt, and we shout at each other. That works for now. Things are starting to pop!
John Prine’s death from Covid-19 was a hard blow. I first saw him in 1973 at what is now called Keller Auditorium. He was with Steve Goodman, another gifted songwriter who left us too soon. It was a great show, and I have seen him in concert many times since then. He was a great songwriter who told unforgettable stories about normal people. Some of them were funny. Here’s a sweet memorial from Brandi Carlile.
The state of the novel
Many of us creatives are having a hard time. I am. All this time, no writing. Daily tasks are accomplished with enthusiasm. I am so grateful that for me and my loved ones things are okay. But many others are not so fortunate. And many of us are struggling with anxiety. We don’t know what’s happening to us. We wonder what is next. My default over many years has been going numb. Shutting down the emotions. Stiff upper lip.
It’s not writer’s block, my friends. It’s numbness. The world has changed. But today is good. Tomorrow will be good. The words will come back to me. They’re never far away.
Take care, keep your distance, be a good neighbor, and stay well.