Ahhhh...some space to breath, to spend time in the kitchen, to catch up on my grading, my writing, my sense of well being. This past week was one of those challenging weeks in which I lose sight of the world outside of my responsibilities and everything seems just on the edge of spinning out of control and shattering into 73 million pieces. When this happens, all I usually need is a day to regain my balance, to remind myself that “nothing is as important as this moment,” a very zen quote, the author of which I cannot remember.
Yesterday I was walking from my office to my car, headed off to teach two long classes in a row, and something about the greyness of the sky and a smell of coming chilliness in the air turned my thoughts to winter. I was composing an elegy to all that is not winter, including my cheery self, when I saw a professor from my department across the parking lot, and without my glasses on he looked exactly like this eccentric female professor at my last job (who was known to crawl into tangled bushes to rescue yet another feral cat), and suddenly I had one of those odd moments where I wondered where exactly I was...
Last night after work I went to World Market to buy Valrhona chocolate bars to make my aforementioned Better-Than-You-Know-What Cake. I spent a considerably amount of time browsing the wine selection--I love their prices and their selection is phenomenal. I was wavering between my summer favorite, La Vieille Ferme Rose, a bargain at $6.99 a bottle (dry, crisp, and simply lovely on a warm summer night). I decided that I needed a nice red to accompany the Lasagna I planned on making this weekend (which is bubbling to completion as I type this missive). I chose a Michele Chiarlo Barbera d’Asti, and I’m quite pleased with the balance of fruit and spice. I was tempted by the Pinot Noirs, of course (no, not because of *Sideways,* though I had a colleague last year who would only drink “Pinot” after seeing the film, and insisted on repeating dialog from the film, bemoaning the fact that there weren’t any Asian women in our department to fill Sandra Oh’s role. I hear he’s now engaged back in Texas, much to our collective surprise). No, my love of Pinot Noir traces back many years, when I was first enchanted with how the name of the wine sounds filling the mouth and rolling off the tongue. And it helps that the wine itself embodies a lovely balance between delicacy and fruit. Some wine experts call it the heartbreak grape because of how sensitive it is to growing conditions.
So. Last night I baked the first of two cakes, and the first was to donate to J-, who I work with at the cafe. She’s involved with a local riding center that does equine therapy, and the center lost its state funding so they’re having a bake sale. The smell of the cake alone immediately soothed my rough edges. I ate the moist bits that clung to the pan after I tipped it out and then stored the cake overnight, to finish frosting today. I went to bed, after staying up to watch *Sex and the City* (since for once I could sleep in again this morning!), to the scent of transformed Valrhona chocolate wafting through the house...Ahhhh.