Jewelry, Cabbage, Happy Birthday

February 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

I’ve been making jewelry for Valentine’s Day, playing with my pearls and glass and polished stones, feeling dragonish. I started a jewelry blog a while ago and haven’t kept it up, but I’m going to start writing more. So for those of you who are interested, here’s the page. Remember, buying handmade goods in this era of industry befouling the earth is an act of great virtue, for which you will be rewarded in the next life, if having beautiful necklaces and earrings isn’t enough for you. I’m no good at raising pastured chickens or making artisanal cheese, although my fruitcakes are pretty amazing. In any case, check it out (or don’t, see if I care).

We’ve been living a frugal life, eschewing the gaudy luxuries of dining out, theater and music (with some exceptions) and that’s been fine. Now I’m taking it to the next level, determined to use every scrap of food I buy, turning leftovers, soft onions and old cabbage-ends into brilliant meals. It helps that I’m reading and writing about this for work: globally, we waste nearly 50% of food produced. I’ve dreamed about this the last two nights, though I won’t discount the possibility that my unconscious has found a handy new metaphor for its fear that I am wasting my life. Nevertheless, scouring the fridge and eating what I may not be in the mood for doesn’t feel like deprivation, but a challenge.

But I buy crystallized ginger and chocolate bars and ice cream, so I’m not quite living like Russian poets under Stalin. (I know it wasn’t just poets, but they’re the ones whose lives I’ve read about.) I eat better than medieval royalty, and so do you, unless you dine at Krispy Kreme.

I’m also going to splurge on the Outsider Art Fair this weekend, because I want to and in celebration of my brother Jimmy’s birthday: he’d be 62 today, if he’d made it past 14.

He was a very good artist, as well as completely charming and lovable. I miss him all the time.

The poem that got Osip Mandelstam sent to Siberia, referred to as

The Stalin Epigram

Our lives no longer feel ground under them.
At ten paces you can’t hear our words.

But whenever there’s a snatch of talk
it turns to the Kremlin mountaineer,

the ten thick worms his fingers,
his words like measures of weight,

the huge laughing cockroaches on his top lip,
the glitter of his boot-rims.

Ringed with a scum of chicken-necked bosses
he toys with the tributes of half-men.

One whistles, another meows, a third snivels.
He pokes out his finger and he alone goes boom.

He forges decrees in a line like horseshoes,
One for the groin, one the forehead, temple, eye.

He rolls the executions on his tongue like berries.
He wishes he could hug them like big friends from home.

–Osip Mandelstam

Translation by W.S. Merwin


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