Posts Tagged ‘language’


While reading the Trader Joe’s Culinary Compendium (a delight in and of itself — see below) that arrived in the post last week, it contained this delicious tidbit, amongst others:

Early ovens didn’t have thermostats, hence the cookie. Back in 7th Century Persia, cakes were all the rage and cooking them required just the right oven temperature. With no needles, dials or digits as indicators, cooks would place “little cakes” in the oven as testers. Eventually, these sweet oven gauges became a prize on their own.

It goes on to add that the word cookie is actually a derivative of the Dutch koekje (-je being the singular diminuitive).   All of this is, by the way, particularly entertaining because I only recently (in the last year or so) discovered (courtesy of M.) the concept of test cookies:

test cookie

Cue shot of infinite mirrors?  Though, I have to say, I’ve also made little test cakes recently as well, but being that I am in possession of  such kitchen paraphernalia as needles, dials and digits, they turn out fine and end up not as cookies but simply as itty bitty cakes. (Which then spawned the succession of itty bitty triple-layer cakes…)

Anyways, the Compendium:



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Cleaning out my desk today, I came upon a stack of poems printed on loose sheets that had slipped under the paper I used to line a drawer.  They aren’t old favorites, so I feel like I’m discovering them again for the first time.  Here’s one of the more delightful.


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the more loving one

I don’t know what it is about this poem that strikes me — I’m not even sure I particularly agree with it. But something about it rings such a beautiful note. And — truth and beauty, right, Keats?

by W.H. Auden 

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

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A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them. — William Stafford, A Way of Writing.

Found this lovely bit while searching my archives for some other snippet — it echoes the same sentiments as the example with artists and colors, which I once worked into a statement d’artiste for Sam Witt.

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Came across this while reading this morning…

The great city, then, could not be understood as an artifact of human choice. It was much closer to a natural, organic process — less like a building that has been deliberately constructed and more like a garden erupting into full bloom with the arrival of spring — a mix of human planning and the natural developmental patterns that emerge with increasing energy supplies. — Steven Johnson

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Happy new year indeed. I recently started using the glass quill and petit inkwell that the lovely Y.S. and A.L. brought me from Italy awhile back. The quill is utter brilliance — small fissures spiral around to converge at the tip, so that no matter how energetically you dunk it in, the ink flows in steady rivulets for a smooth, decidedly non-blotty line. The design also leaves you having to dip less frequenly, since the aforementioned fissures also hold some ink in reserve.

In any case, I was writing on night and upset the little inkwell, making a big black puddle on the coffee table. Fortunately, it was only a small fraction, and I was able to salvage some more using a straw (probably, if I recall correctly, because plastic and ink are slightly attractive chemically?), though I was still able to write from the remaining puddle the rest of the night. Regardless, the running-out-of-ink concept dawned, and I scrounged around for any and all places that might carry inkwells (not exactly popular nowadays, it seems), and gathered this lovely collection from a musty dusty box that the Paper Source clerks on Fillmore unearthed from some forgotten corner.

Oh, and the title comes from Lord Byron: “Words are things, and a small drop of ink, falling like dew upon a thought, produces that which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.”

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letterpress3At the core of my addictive stationery craze lies letterpress — so organically, deliciously lovely.  If only books were still printed in letterpress…!   And while I was looking for custom letterpress printing online, I found this little documentary short on letterpress.  It’s exceptionally beautiful.


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