föstudagur, desember 26, 2008


Lemon with cloves pushed into it, slowing shrinking in the dry air
Rosemary, potted, a paper ornament dangling from a spindly limb
Tangerine rind, vanilla extract, confectioner's sugar
Hot butter
Crushed pecans, toasted
Guttering candles
Green tea

miðvikudagur, desember 24, 2008


  • rorqual
  • grampus
  • orc
  • leviathan

þriðjudagur, desember 23, 2008


Sugar can be wrenched into extraordinary shapes, some translucent and others pearly. It takes some doing. After more than a few minutes spent coaxing out peppermint ropes, an ache forms in my shoulder and my hands sting from what had been too-high heat.

But that is wrong: I have not been scalded. I learn this when a broad strip of my own skin drops lightly onto the counter. Looking at my hand, I see it has been pulled from the inside of my thumb between the first joint and the web. The lozenge-shaped absence is un-wound-like. There is no blood or even a seepage of plasma or other moisture, only a neat window through the epidermis. The dermis is identical; the same whorls and lines cross it. It is only darker, pinker, softer, and for a moment I feel that bandaging it would be silly.

But the pink diamond is also infinitely more sensitive. The air alone hurts it, as if its lying only infinitesimally closer to the heart makes the outside beyond endurance. I've found a layer of flesh not yet ready to face the world, not yet ready to take on being me.


Several batches, not all of them successful. One, a solution of white sugar in cherry juice, refused to coalesce as taffy, fudge, or even hard crack. Prolonged cooking turned it deep, charred wine. You could -- with effort -- push the edge of a wooden spoon into it and carve a glistening furrow. It was perfect, dark sugar with no crystal in it.

There are more things called glass than just the stuff in window frames. Obsidian is one. Sideromelane is another. Muscovite is a third. Isinglass is not a physical glass (neither the fish gelatin nor the mineral), and its etymology is obscure. I grew up on the edge of a disused isinglass quarry, and I remember how the soil everywhere glittered. I would push my fingers into the dirt in search of larger pieces I could then pry apart into transparent flakes with my stubby fingernails.

In Cocteau's Orphée, from which i remember almost nothing, I remember this: In the Underworld a man walks the main thoroughfare calling out the name of his wares, selling not icecream but glass.

föstudagur, desember 12, 2008


I cannot any longer remember how many times I have seen Christmas come and go there. It is not possible that it is very many, but still it takes only a snippet of internet-mediated TV news -- human interest about some neighborhood association at each other's throats about the seasonal stench of Þorláksmessuskata -- to send me into a fit of nostalgia.

Nostalgia was once regarded as a physical ailment, the sort of illness that gets written up in the Merck Manual. The final stage, according to some, was characterized by bleeding gums, sunken eyes, and the opening of wounds long healed -- in other words: scurvy. Science has progressed, and the two syndromes have been disentangled from each other; scurvy is merely a deficiency of vitamin C.

This leaves open the question of what nostalgia is. Perhaps it is both a miasmatic disease and a deficiency. That it, maybe it is the lack of certain smells floating on the air that brings it on. Here there is no whiff of gamey tallow, no elasmobranchitic ammonia, and no hot palm oil ærosol. The bits of evening news I watch the following morning are not accompanied by any olfactory closed-captioning. I may have to search for some form of supplement not available in the pharmacy aisle.
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