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I am in full-on domestic goddess mode to the point of kitsch. Sunday I made marmalade, yesterday homemade puff-pastry. I can't decide whether the right image is prairie skirt and mobcap or kitten heels and martini tray.

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In my medieval metaphysics course we're reading the gorgeously titled Letter on the Being of Nothing and Shadows. Even the author's name--Fridugisus--is redolent of Friedrich-ean abbeys and darkest, latest night.

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The mole cake is finished--a mound of whipped cream plastered with hazelnut studded crumbs, it looks just like the burrow of a chic and cosmopolitan little creature.

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The dead leaves and naked tree branches that look like the upturned roots of a bizarre and knobby vegetable should be prompting me to work--memento mori and all that. But the difficult section on the epistemological consequences of dualism stays difficult, and I'm not managing much.

***


Yesterday: the worst migraine in a long time--brutal and nearly Nietzschean, the kind of headache that scrambles print into the mad loops and lines of a private, pulsing alphabet. Another working day gone.

***


I'm making a charmingly and evocatively named mole cake for a friend's party tonight. It's a dense chocolate hazelnut cake, tunneled out and filled with sour cherries and a dome of whipped cream with the cakey deritus sprinkled over. Tomorrow is an apple cake--butter base topped with apples that have been thinly sliced and rearranged into little colonies of corrugated apple. Staving off start of semester dread...

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Bustling about the apartment these days in a frenzy of folding and sweeping and rolling and rising. I'll be in full on domestic goddess mode if I make marmalade. I saw Seville oranges in the market the other day, and I'm tempted to buy some and freeze them for the next cold and empty afternoon when nothing seems more appealing than boiling, shredding, and stirring those lumpy, dingy orbs into cloudy amber gunge. Tonight I'm making alfajores, those dulce de leche filled Peruvian sandwich cookies, for a friend's birthday. The dulce de leche is done--just out of the oven, the heat makes it taste sour, barnyard-y in the best way beneath the carmel sweetness. The dough is chilling in the fridge, the little brazil nut shards sawdust and delicious. Rather than rain forest the overall effect is Urwald: as I roll it out, I've been imagining blackbirds and all the little things that squeak and sigh in the underbrush. Not a jaguar or a macaw in sight.
***

Friday is dinner with some department friends. I sometimes like winter and the early gloom and mole-blind nights. I thought I'd give into the dark, heavy unchic-ness of the season and make something mushroom-ed and carraway-ed. Kasha perhaps or blini with lox. Matzoh balls even. But I can't give up culinary tourism and I'm making crepes filled with ratatouille sauce to go beside fish in chermoula and little flat breads stuffed with spiced onions. I haven't decided on a dessert yet. I don't like chocolate after fish and anything filo-wrapped and syrup-soaked seems too fey and insubstantial for subfreezing nights. Ice cream, just perverse.
***

Amid all this my dissertation.

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I'm feeling smugly, serenely domestic. I just pulled off a three-layer apple cake with carmel frosting and decorated it with little bits of marzipan shaped and dyed to look like apples. It would be kitsch, but something about the beige of frosting and the slight irregularity of the apples just makes the cake look un-campily precious, at least to my doting eyes. I'd thought about molding a snake to twist around the central apple--a nod to my research interests--but the Augustinian impulse (quite uncharacteristically) deserted me. Though as an ascetic (Jerome-like?) antidote there's homemade yogurt going warm and sour under the pilot light. I've gone a little mad and decided to do *everything* from scratch for the party I'm having Saturday--boureka pastry, yogurt for the tzatziki, almond paste for a "snake" pastry (though in a rare bit (bout?) of sanity, I'm buying the phyllo).

***


In a frenzied month I managed to redeem what was otherwise a stale and listless season. Somehow--still not sure how--I banged out passable drafts of two chapters. Still mountains of work (molehills of philosophically interesting writing, towering cliffs of footnoting medieval philosophy's greatest hits, dues paying to latter day Scholastics) left. But I'm pleased in a way that's (literally) peculiar to grad students--I've been praised with faint damnation, quite an achievement for my ilk. Now I'm paying for my late starts and later nights: the usual roster of phantom aches, fever, and the kind of un-earned exhaustion that makes me ashamed. I slept 14 hours Friday--the kind of adolescent indulgence I thought I'd kicked...

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Monday I nearly reached the height of domestic goddess-ery: a lattice-crusted peach pie twinkling with demerra sugar. Tuesday's pie was less of a looker--tweedy streusel covering out of season apples. The crimped crust went practically frizzy in the humidity, and even a stint in the fridge couldn't turn irregular S's of pastry back into curls. Still, it was worth it to play indulgent big sister, catering to autumnal appetites in my unairconditioned apartment...

A week ago I would have wanted nothing more than today's summery swelter, sprawled on my parents' deck so hot and satisfied that I could easily mistake the drone of the neighbors' mower for something more pastoral. Yet now all that empty time feels as barren as the seasons in between.

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Something about the burble of rain in the gutters reminds me of the wintertime hiss of the heaters, and these past couple of damp and coldish days have me aching for autumn. All of a sudden I want the (literally) obscene abundance of fall--mammary pomegranates, hippy, full-bellied pears, parsnips and carrots, squashes practically parodying a woman cut off just at the point where bone and muscle intrude. More wholesomely, I've been reading the King Arthur Flour 200th Anniversary Cookbook and wanting to do all the sorts of nourishing and homey things I've never learned to do: make the kind of echt and stodgy pancakes that could never masquerade as anything so citified and cosmopolitan as blini or crepes or dhosa (the latter along with latkes being the only pancakes I've ever bothered to make); rolls fortified with cheddar, apple, and dill; breads bound together with all kinds of pleasantly soft and squishy things (the odd apple in a bushel, part of an imaginary and endless zucchini crop)... The stout and cheerful good sense exuding from the headnotes to these recipes makes me ashamed that I don't have a child or two to prop against my own overly abundant hips as I knead dough or stud a clove-hot apple pie with nubs of butter, barely noticing as afternoon gives way to night.

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just another reason I love my Mac:

No on Prop 8
Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. Apple was among the first California companies to offer equal rights and benefits to our employees’ same-sex partners, and we strongly believe that a person’s fundamental rights — including the right to marry — should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.