Pretty pics from a pretty place. I left California on Monday to head back to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA for a freelance stint. We had so much fun, sun, rain, fresh citrus & other good eats, and the company wasn’t too shabby either. Even Annika flew down from Seattle to partake (bottom).
Thanks, Paris Lesley, for humouring me and translating Beach Boys lyrics awhile back.
Alisa took me (M) to a pickling class last week in Santa Barbara for my birthday at the Presidio Motel. Top photo taken by Alisa shows all the yumminess Melissa taught us to make. And speaking of pickles, then I remembered Benny and I took this photo of Pennsylvania Dutch chow-chow the other week, just because we loved the colours. Make your own here, or buy a jar here.
It’s true, you can definitely bake a loaf of banana bread with just one banana (not 3.5) and it tastes perfect. I (M) made this the other day in the California sunshine. Drew, I forgot to save you a piece.
INGREDIENTS// Scant cup all-purpose flour / 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda / 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon / 1/4 tsp salt / 1/4 cup sugar / 1 egg / 1/4 cup olive oil / 1 banana, very ripe, mashed / 1 Tbsp sour cream / 1/2 tsp vanilla extract / generous sprinkling of wheatgerm
INSTRUCTIONS// Set oven to 175°C / 350°F. Line bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and salt. Beat sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy. Drizzle in oil. Add mashed banana, sour cream, and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients, plus wheatgerm. Pour into lined loaf pan and bake for about 30-40 minutes—top should be golden and knife come out clean from loaf center. Adapted from Flour Bakery, Boston, Mass., USA.
Been listening to For Emma, Forever Ago a lot, again, lately. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver (Photo: upper right) wrote most of it while recuperating from an illness, another failed relationship and break up with the former band made of friends he was drifting from. Bearing a massive hurt and lost confidence, he headed to his father’s hunting cabin in the backwoods of Wisconsin because he had no other place to go. Needing to be alone to sort things out, he spent three winter months in the middle of nowhere eventually embracing the time and physical space to do so. What’s remarkable about his experience is that the period of three months is not a very long time. Yet he purged on and somehow ended up with words and sounds that make up For Emma, Forever Ago. That is astonishing especially since he didn’t go there with the intention to write songs and make an album. He went there to hide, to escape and put some distance from reality. Maybe cowardly, sure, but something enduring won out in the end. I find that just tremendous; the resilience, whether he knew about it or not, had its own plan.
The core essence of that album according to Justin is about “me and about how a love I once had sort of sabotaged relationships I had after that.” That sober admission instantly sucks the air out of me, leaving me lightheaded as I realize how deep his wound must’ve been and how difficult it must’ve been to heal from such trauma. Who amongst us can not relate to that sentiment? That very personal, painful and difficult process of recovery is easily audible in For Emma, Forever Ago. He has said that he had become a sad person several years preceding the three months in Wisconsin. Is that akin to hitting the rock bottom? Did he in fact need the convergence of several personal misfortunes and simmering sadness of many years to make the getaway?
I tend to romanticize that kind of isolation, that kind of anguish, mostly curious to see if I would have the strength to come through and recover. I don’t think I could. Man, if I were in Wisconsin backwoods for three months after a breakup and being tossed over by friends while being physically ill? I would’ve probably died. Ok, maybe not dead, but I would not have coped well. Thankfully, I have not had to be in that position. While I was a very unhappy and angry young man in my 20’s, wondering if I would ever escape the misery [sigh] (so dramatic and yes, super embarrassing, those of you who’ve seen the films know this), I’ve somehow managed to embrace and enjoy my 30’s. I feel more at ease, calmer about things in general and am happy about my life at this point. There are plenty of things to be miserable about of course, but there are more of good things in life right now, which again, thankfully tip the scale. I have numerous wonderful people in and around my life. I care about these people and they in return have stuck with me for all these years, despite my moodiness and tendency to be hypomanic when tired and hungry, which is too often. (Now if only I could get M to come back to LDN)
I think we all do need a break of some sort at some point. Would it have to be something like the three wintery months in Wisconsin? Maybe not literally but it is something to think about. But for me, when the thought of three freezing months in a hunting cabin becomes unbearable, I know I can call up few of those wonderful people and burden myself, at least for some time, till I get through whatever the fog. And I’d like to think that they know the understanding/arrangement is mutual. So, with that in mind, thanks and have a good night. Be seeing you soon-ish. (Sorry, got wordy & kerning ain’t right.) Photo of Justin Vernon from uberlin.
Have I mentioned this was my favourite book of 2011? It was. I Want My Hat Back, written and illustrated by Ontario-native Jon Klassen, tells the story of a bear searching for his lost hat and all his animal kingdom friends who definitely haven’t seen said hat. I wish I made this book. Available at independent bookstores: New York, Seattle, London, Santa Barbara. Original photos from 36 Pages.
Just a few more loves from Borough Market in London. I (M) am very confident in my olive-picking—simply choose the ones with lots of spices and hot peppers. Get all the dairy you possibly can, especially if it’s from Switzerland. And, I love this house.