Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Smug Blue Rooster

Last night I met a beautiful Spaniard. Santiago was his name, and I shall never forget his eyes: dark, mysterious- and wide with fear and surprise.

You see I- uh- well... I threw a shoe at him.

It was an accident! I was dancing with the tall red-bearded fellow who always lifts me in the air when we swing, and my shoes kept falling off. I had 2 1/2 beats between my do-si-do and balance-and-swing. I'd planned it during the last allemande: in the next free moment I would gently kick off my shoes to the side of the set and dance the rest barefoot.

No sweat.

Of course anyone who knows me knows I rarely do anything "gently." The thud with which the second shoe hit the wall (three feet from Santiago's beautiful head and about 15 feet from the other shoe) was startlingly audible over the 13 piece band, 60 dancing people's stomps, and frequent raucous "yee-haws!" As Red-Beard lifted me off the ground he laughingly remarked that he'd never had a partner try and kill anyone in the middle of a dance before.

My flush at that moment cannot be attributed entirely to the exercise.

The "kicker" was getting the shoes back. The first was in a corner by the door. The second posed more of a challenge. I made brief eye-contact with my near-victim as I bent to pick up my worn out red flat. Keren is of the oppinion that the next thing I said to Santiago-the-beautiful-spaniard qualifies as a pick-up line. I disagree. You be the judge.

"Sorry about that. You know, I promise I didn't throw a shoe at you to ask you to dance but...would you like to dance?"

That's totally not a pick-up line. Right? Right?!

So we danced. Either Mr. Beautiful-Eyes was traumatized by his near-disfigurement, he has a jealous girlfriend he doesn't want to cross, or he's just naturally very shy (hence his position in a chair in the path of my shoe). Regardless, he was quiet through the last dance, and we ended the night with a rather tame but well coordinated swing.

I laughed all the way home.

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Today I saw a terrible painting by a wonderful painter. The proportions were off, the brushstrokes haphazard, the eyes looked creepily asymmetrical, inhuman and cold, and the light was confusing. My primary reaction: inspiration. If Mary Cassatt, one of my favorite painters, can produce something like this, then I figure it's ok when my paintings are terrible.

I went to the SPEED museum with my mom today. Did you know we have a Chagall there? It's pretty cool too, with the characteristic bright yellow cow, smug blue rooster, and busty bride floating over a red and purple village clutching bright yellow and red flowers. I've never seen a Chagall in anything but books before, and I kinda expected the paint to have more texture. The strokes seemed meticulous and deliberate, not at all what I was expecting. There was also a Cezanne still life of (what else) apples, some Matisse line prints (naked women), a Monet view of a cathedral in Normandy, and a beautiful still life of peaches and raspberries that made me so hungry I had to leave. Overall a successful trip.

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Only two more days till I go to California!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Wish

Today I did not write any papers. I did not work, and I did not make any effort to look nice. I did not go anywhere, I did not put on shoes, and I did not get up early.

I did, however:
  • sleep in
  • wear my ratty (read: well loved) multicolored, funny-collared paint smock with entertaining silver snaps
  • play bass
  • eat black raspberry chip ice cream
  • wipe Prussian Blue and Yellow Ochre on my legs and smock

Did I mention the part where I LOVE SUMMER?

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Wish
12x16, Acrylics, fingerpaint + brushes
8/5/08
Fender
7x9, acrylics
(for Eugene)
7/21/08
Calm Before The Storm
7x9, acrylics
7/30/08

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sparkles

I’m haphazard about most things, but when it comes to choosing books I am meticulous to the point of obsession. When I go to the bookstore with my mother, she knows me well enough to plan for more hours than seem sensible, and when the critical decision has been made I can always find her patiently engulfed in one of the overstuffed chairs in the history section. For all my careful combing through summaries and frustrated flips through first chapters, though, it seems that somehow the book I need to read always finds me when I need to read it. It’s a very rare favorite that finds me by my own careful choosing. The latest in this string of necessary books only ended up on my bedside table because as I halfheartedly meandered through the overflowing aisle of Book and Music Exchange I happened to see sparkles on the spine (and happened to be intrigued by sparkles, and happened to be feeling impulsive).

The title of the following list was going to be Books That I Needed to Read, Which You Might Also Enjoy For Your Own Personal Reasons, which is a really terrible title and too long anyways. Besides, once I made the list, it was clearly a list of-

Books to Empower (anger, touch, and ignite) Young and Old Women:
  • The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
  • The Secret Garden, by Frances Burnett
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  • Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (whoever borrowed that from me, I want it back)
  • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  • Girl With the Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier (also Virgin Blue and The Lady and the Unicorn)
  • The Painted Kiss, by Elizabeth Hickey-the book that inspired this blog and list. It details the affair of Gustav Klimt (who painted The Kiss and Judith and the Head of Holofernes) and Emilie Floge, as Emilie grows from a na├»ve young art student to one of the most important independent women in Europe. I’m not done yet. If the ending’s terrible, this entry will be edited. (The ending was a little anticlimactic, but it's still a good read. That's the problem with historical novels I suppose: you already know the ending.)

Please add to, rip apart, and denounce this list in comments, and as always, I'm thinking of you.

Yours,
Erin
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Panna Cotta*
(Inspired by St. Antons near the convent in Arrezzo)

3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
4 cups heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
(or approx. 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1/2 cup sugar
Mixed berries

Satin Chocolate Sauce:
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup hot water

In a small bowl, combine the water and gelatin and let soak about 10 minutes (don't stir). Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the cream, vanilla and sugar to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. As soon as it simmers, turn off the heat and add the gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve the gelatin. (If the gelatin doesn't completely dissolve after awhile, return the mixture to the heat and warm gently until dissolved.) Pour the mixture into 6 to 8 dessert cups (or muffin cups in a muffin pan..a muffin pan, a muffin pan).
(If you want honey almond panna cotta, fill the bottom of the cups with honey before adding the cream and chilling. The honey ones stay together better if you chill them longer, maybe overnight)

Chill, uncovered, 2 hours.

Satin Chocolate Sauce: In the top half of a double boiler, combine the 2 chocolates over simmering water. Stir constantly until melted, then whisk in the syrup and water without removing the double boiler from the heat. Whisk until smooth and shiny. The sauce can be made up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated. To rewarm, stir over low heat or heat in a microwave.

To serve , dip the cups in hot water for 10 seconds, then turn the panna cottas out onto dessert plates (or, serve in the cups). Arrange the berries on top and drizzle with the chocolate sauce.

(option: instead of the chocolate sauce put two tsp honey in the bottom of each mold before adding the cream and refrigerating, then top with honey and toasted chopped hazelnuts or almonds.)