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Monday, May 7, 2012

Losing the Pears


We remain in chaos.  Here's today's sample.  The expert came to put in our new windows, but found two problems.  First, in our tiny kitchen, he and the carpenters who are installing the cabinets would be right on top of one another.  Second, the windows are two inches too big.  (The first windows were smushed by a forklift in the lumber yard, so we're into special order number 3.)  Then the contractor arrived with an electrician under the assumption that there was a kind of hurry-up problem about wiring.  I don't know where that rumour came from.  Then the plumber, who is a very professional fellow, stopped by to look at what his job was going to require tomorrow and thought that the lazy susan between the sink and the little dishwasher we're putting in wouldn't turn with plumbing in the cabinet.  Through all of this, the stolid carpenters Daniel and Lino, who keep up a quiet continuous conversation in Portuguese, just keep making the cabinets more beautiful adding crown moulding and beautifully bevelled doors. It's nearly six, and Daniel and Lino are still here, and I'm not entirely sure when they will leave.  They have to cut a hole in the countertop for the sink--a process Lino says can go wrong because we're re-using our almost-new sink and don't have a template. 

Through all of this, I have tried to keep cooking.  My new Crock Pot has been a god-send, since it will make a meal in a single dish, and I can get it going before chaos arrives in the morning.  I've also been clever about choosing menus that are tasty and healthy but not complicated and don't require a lot of  racing upstairs and downstairs,  I discovered early on that pasta was an athletic undertaking because we haven't had water on the main floor for about 17 days.  Upstairs to get water to cook the pasta in.  Downstairs to cook the pasta, and while it's cooking another trek upstairs to wash the green beans.  Downstairs to check the pasta.  Upstairs to drain the pasta.  You get the picture. 

I thought that yesterday, when Veronica came for dinner, we could barbeque chicken skewers with pineapple and red pepper and that I'd bake a "Cardamom-Infused Pear Crisp" from Tim Bittman's The Food Matters cookbook.  It's particularly easy because you don't even need to peel the pears, and you simply stir up the struesel in a bowl you melt butter in.  The weather couldn't make up its mind, however, so grilling wasn't going to happen.  And then I lost the pears.  Bill and I looked high and low for the sensible place I could have put the pears.  We emptied out the refrigerator.  We looked in every drawer in the dining room, even though we knew they were entirely full of the dishes and mugs and cereal and plastic wrap we need to keep going through renovations.   I thought perhaps I'd even taken them upstairs, chucking them in a bedroom or in the study, because after all I'd have to wash them before I cut them up.  No pears.  So I microwaved a quick apple crisp, and we took ourselves off to Pasta Prima for comfort food.  While we were waiting for dinner, I dug into my purse for the weekend's grocery receipt and looked at the produce I'd bought.  There were no pears.  I know I put six pears in a plastic bag.  The question is whether I left them somewhere in the produce section while I was filling a bag with apples or whether some innocent shopper got home to find six unexpected pears amongst the steak and the kale because I put them in the wrong shopping basket.

In the midst of this chaos, I was rewriting my paper on the benefits of having students with a range of skills in introductory creative writing classes, arguing that it's important that they be given the opportunity to practice creativity and that it's good for all writers to have a varied audience.  But I needed to begin with an argument for the importance of creativity in everyone's lives.  Picking up my green pen, getting ready to edit madly I read

I have come to see art as a culture's way of being curious about itself.  Fortunately, scholars and journalists give us wonderful analyses of our society's trends, bad habits, and moments of opportunity.  These, though, are always linked to fact—or should be.  (Though fact seems to be having a bad time these days in our public discourse.)  But we have assigned to our artists the task of being curious:  being curious about our humanity, being curious about the means we have for representing and exploring that humanity and the way those very means might offer distortions or opportunities for looking at ourselves differently—for re-envisioning ourselves.  We promise our artists some of our culture's most extraordinary freedoms—particularly freedom of expression at the outer limits to make dresses of meat or to publish descriptions of sexual brutality—and in return only ask that they keep our curiosity engaged, full of critique and wonder.  In a time of paradigm shift—when “google” and “tweet” have become verbs that redefine our ways of communicating and our expression—we need their curiosity more than ever.  In Kenneth Burke's words, society sends forth edicts and directives.  Art, in contrast, sends forth counter-statements and counter-directives.  It accomplishes this not necessarily by engaging in the discourse of the original political or social prompt, but through its creativity and through the imaginative, speculative space that creativity generates, encouraging us to think independently, joyfully, carefully, critically, playfully, outside the box often labelled “necessity.”

Who wrote that?  Surely not that woman who didn't even recognize that she didn't have any pears to put away, much less to lose?

Never mind.  They promise me water in my kitchen tomorrow.

1 comment:

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