Saturday, November 26, 2011

New words on the wind. Old words discovered.

Tim called our lunch slumgullion. I could not eat the soup/stew without savouring the word. It seems to be Irish (as is his ancestry), and traditionally made with beef and leftovers. I found this veggie version on the web by Rebecka Evans:

Slumgullion is Cookery Slang that describes an inexpensive stew or a mixture of ground meats and veggies browned in a skillet. You may know this dish by other more common names such as Mulligan stew or Irish stew. Slumgullion has a very old and diverse history. Famous authors, John Muir, and Mark Twain refer to Slumgullion with distaste because it was generally made by the impoverished. My Slumgullion is a vegetarian version based on my mother’s recipe. The intense flavors of dill, red pepper flakes and chive married with the addition of grits bring a new twist to old tradition.

* Prep time: 10 minutes
* |
* Cook time: 15 minutes
* |
* Total time: 25 minutes
* |
* Servings: 6

* 8 ounce(s) of tub Philadelphia 1/3 less fat Chive and Onion Cream Cheese
* 2 medium yellow squash
* 2 medium zucchini
* 5 crimini mushrooms
* 1/2 medium yellow onion
* 2 tbsp. of olive oil
* 1 tbsp. of butter
* 1 cup(s) of quick grits
* 1 1/2 tbsp. of fresh chopped dill weed
* 1/2 tsp. of red pepper flakes


1. Following manufacturer's instructions, pour 4 cups water into a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil
2. add 1 cup cooked grits and 1 tablespoon butter to boiling water
3. stir to combine and reduce heat to low
4. cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally
5. whisk in 1 8 ounce tub Philadelphia 1/3 less fat Chive and Onion Cream Cheese, cover and set aside until ready to use
6. heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat
7. clean vegetables before slicing
8. add mushroom only to pan and cook without seasoning until golden in color, remove from pan
9. add 1 tablespoon olive oil to hot pan and saute zucchini and yellow squash for 3-4 minutes, season to taste with salt and pepper, remove from pan
10. saute onions in pan until caramelized but still al dente
11. return all vegetables to pan, season with red pepper flakes and 1 tablespoon dill weed, cook for additional 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally
12. season with salt and pepper to taste
13. pour cooked chesse grits into a large serving bowl
14. top grits with cooked vegetables and garnish with remaining 1/2 tablespoon fresh chopped dill

Slumgullion reminds me of rapscallion, jerry mulligan, and other Irishisms. There is something authentic about it. If it's 'supposed' to be made of leftovers, can it really have a recipe?

How many more words (English) are there out there waiting to be chewed on? And why do some words fall behind the sofa?

Google is a great teacher. When I was 16 and living in Leeds I would go hiking at weekends in the Dales. I tried all sorts of things to waterproof my boots including dubbin [must check that out]. But my favorite was neatsfoot oil. Although this was befre my veggie days, I always wondered how many little neats had to be squeezed (or whatever) to make this oil, and what on earth neats are? The other day, I rediscovered the original can of this oil (yup, after 48 years), its label coming a little unstuck. I googled neatsfoot. Serious bad news from Wikipedia: "Neatsfoot oil is a yellow oil rendered and purified from the shin bones and feet (but not the hooves) of cattle. "Neat" in the oil's name comes from an old name for cattle. Today, many[who?] consider the best quality neatsfoot oil to be that which comes from the legs of calves, with no other oils added. Neatsfoot oil is used as a conditioning, softening and preservative agent for leather. In the 18th century, it was also used medicinally as a topical application for dry scaly skin conditions." Footnote: another Wiki article says neats are 'horned oxen'. I think of Sartre: Dirty Hands. And Derrida's critique of good conscience. How many calves have kept my feet dry on the Yorkshire moors? How many more neatsfeet are there out there? Could one (not this one) add neatsfoot oil to slumgullion?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Tim and Chris and I will join the Sanctuary people at Gaby's for Thanksgiving today. We have directions to his place, way down a dead end road somewhere in the woods. In the woods here, I would like to be able to thank the real turkeys, families of 4, 19 etc. just for being here, being alive, and for my/our not needing to eat them. And then I want to thank them for being beautiful, especially the boys, displaying for their lady friends as if they were peacocks. On the radio Roy Blunt Jnr explains the virtues of turkey meat - that it neutrally absorbs so many other flavors (like cranberry). How different from the real bird. And how can we not admit that language is subject to devastating slippage when we use the same word for the real live strutting cock, and the dead white neutral flesh on the plate. I want to start (Re)Occupy Language. Speaking of language, Leopard Zeppard came over yesterday to see about helping me furbish (can we say that) the sauna with cedar benches, walls and ceiling. I'm wondering if sticking with my birth name is not a kind of laziness when I could reinvent myself as I assume Leopard did. Or is it possible that his Mum and Dad were Mr and Mrs Zeppard and they were creative? Does he have brothers and sisters - and would they be big felines (Tiger, Puma) or rhymes? What else rhymes with Zeppard? Edward? Shepherd? I must ask him over lunch at Gaby's. (Or is it Gabby's?.

Tim and Chris are my latest wwoofers, from SF and Miami/Cuba respectively, currently installing a paver floor in the sauna. They are off to Korea in the Spring to teach English. Chris introduced us to her fried plantain yesterday. Mmmm. On the side, Tim is painting stick figures, Chris skulls.

Thanksgiving is a time for family. Reminds me how dispersed I/we are, across continents, seas, time, divorce, and the vagaries of love and other bonds. So we improvise community. And this time 'we' will bring alternative shepherd's pie (beans and split peas etc.) and sweet potato pie to a mixed group of mostly gay veggies and carnivors who have perhaps difference in common.

Last night at 3pm we were woken by lots of barking, with different kinds of barks all intermingled. What was happening? Dogs meet up with hungry coyotes? A canine contestation?. A hermeneutic conundrum! Whatever happened there will be no evidence left this morning as the mist rises over the meadow. Barking? What barking - asked Pinto, the pit bull that last year ate my cat Berserker.

Sunday, August 7, 2011


Listening to Eric Clapton's stunning Chronicles, I realize what a great title this would be for a philosophic-al book. The title itself would solicit a hybrid form of writing - between philosophy and literature. Examples: Calvino, Borges, but also essayists like Montaigne. These would be aporetic performances of quizzical temporality.

Monday, February 21, 2011

"Why I stay in the provinces"

This is the title of an essay by Heidegger, declining the call to Berlin. Rural life at least here in TN is a strange mix. For families who have roots here, the past meant poverty, hunger, uncertain times. Despite Heidegger's promotion of peasant life, it cannot always have been possible to delight in the world they inhabited with disease, infant mortality, and hunger around the corner. But imagine that life without the anxiety! I'm getting closer.

Cabin Fever, Restablizing Horses

Today Randall started leveling the site for the new stables. Giant grey rocks sleep beneath the turf and are disturbed after thousands of years by the Giant Clunking BullDozer Machine. Later he will level a site for Cabin II in the top field, which will be wholly self-contained. Solar plus. Rohan sent this pinhole picture of me next to Cabin I.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Peripatetic Sunday

Going walkabout it is tempting to follow habit and walk accustomed paths. Today I broke with tradition and returned to some old ways. Up to the spring, where the pipe needs mending. Now the electrical connection to the pump needs attention. And the lid, which has rusted through. Lots of downed branches from storms etc. The impulse to tidy is real, if only to bring out lines. Is the picturesque a bad thing? I imagine a series of red painted installations to complement various mossy sites and their velvet green, especially damp 'waterfalls'. Need work parties to clear broken wood etc., and more benches to punctuate walks; benches could host sentences! (See Word Farm). (The Word Farm project could start on Vanderbilt's campus as a temporary exhibition.) YB the Gesamtkunstwerk needs some attention. The Airstream needs moving. Need to construct a focal end to L'Avenue de L'Avenir. The Lookout Hill site needs a small shelter - perhaps a good place for the rotating hut - using a truck axle/wheel, because of the changing wind direction. Then there is the red bridge on the right going up the hill from the house ... I was reading Gary Snyder yesterday, some essays from Back on the Fire (?). He spoke of the need for (in poetry and in life?) this and that, AND wit. Perhaps wit opens up a broader category I do care about - by which e.g. the picturesque could be interrupted. Bridges that lead nowhere? Unfinished sentences? New ruins (playing with Clough Williams-Ellis), architect of Portmeirion, who also built ruins in fields, gates to nothing. This is another kind of dynamism to that wrought by participatory activity, inviting people to engage, interact with an installation. Building in wit, or incompleteness allows the object to begin that movement itself, frustrating expectations etc. But then there are delightful and merely annoying forms of frustration. CWE was an interesting guy, wrote for the National Trust, lamented the loss of a former age, probably a Conservative in many senses: he wrote "I think that Beauty, The Strange Necessity - as Rebecca West once called it - is something that matters profoundly to humanity, and that unless the race of man perishes from the earth, it will increasingly value that Grace, will seek it, and will ultimately attain it." Perhaps we need the picturesque as a lure to what will enjoyably confound it. What if the Greek temple (not) at the end of the Avenue were a two dimensional facade? Can I use mirrors in the landscape? But perhaps all this talk of interruption is premature. First one needs to master, somewhat, the classical rules of form etc. This seems especially true of landscape.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A new ART PROJECT:: Wordscape (see YB webpage)

Poetic PereGRINation

Words in landscape.
Not signs, just words.
Like flowers or leaves.
stuck on sticks,
strewn across the turf,
sprouting from the ground.
English words
Spanish words,
French words,
German words,
Indian words
words from imaginary Borgesian languages,
words that might have delighted Joyce or Lear.

A cornucopia of word-smithery.
Word-birds that alight on your shoulder.

Slow down for a word
set under an Osage Orange tree*
Let images gather.

Wander freely
from word to word
with no map.
A poem may happen.

Plant a word.
Plough the Word Farm.
Walk the Woodbury Wordscape.


* Aka
Horse apple,
Hedge apple,
Hedge Ball,
Bois D'Arc
Osage Apple,
Mock Orange
Yellow Wood,
Palo de Arco, Ayac [Indian],
Maclura pomifera [Latin])

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Soft Time:Heliotrope III

We installed this piece at the Arts Center of Cannon County just last week. Lots of people have seen and like it and Evan and Donald are printing up some flyers. It will give me some sort of art presence in the community, which will be fun.

New Year, New Goats, Dog News

On January 1st, two new goats arrived. In the snow. Bad timing? They shivered, they were licked, they were left, they suckled. So far they have survived. The coyotes are reported to be having pups. How are they to be fed?
Wonderful Zip disappeared a couple of weeks ago. My heart fell. I cannot seem to keep a dog. The food was left uneaten. But a few days later he reappeared with another dog. It felt like a Chinese 'good luck' story, in which every event changes its valency with the subsequent event. I assumed he had been sowing his wild oats. His new friend was him/herself the product of some wild oating - mostly Great Pyrenees but some St Bernard, or something else in his bigger head. They seemed good friends - but were they boy and girl - it wasn't clear. But the new dog seemed perfectly happy barking at me (nicely) with the goats behind him, defending them alongside Zip. These two dogs, however, are sometimes there, sometimes not. But the new dog is making Zip a little less stand-offish.
Today I went to see Bob and Carol, to give them their New Year's banana bread. It turns out that my new dog is their Rex, that Rex has been 'breeding' Zip, (that Zip is a girl), and that the two of them are being fed at many of the places on their daily round, including Estelle Reed's where there are two more dogs. And that Zip kills ducks. My picture of my severe Kantian duty-bound Zip is well and truly shattered. Actually she is a party girl who likes life on the town, and does goat-protection as image-enhancing charity work. Still I love her.