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Showing posts from 2013

The Advent Color

At the moment of the First Tragedy, when man first disobeyed God, man hid.

In his temptation speech, the serpent promises that eating the forbidden fruit will make man like God. God knew all about good and evil; if we, too, knew about it, we would be just like Him. But evil always, always lies.

Adam and Eve immediately felt shame.  Shame is what we feel when we're made painfully aware of the vast disparity between the person we actually are and the person we would love to be. The chasm between the two is so wide. Adam and Eve had been promised they would be like God Himself; I cannot imagine their horror when they realized how little like God they were. They had never been aware of their own smallness, their own weakness, the vast difference between mighty God and puny man. The shame must have been unbearable. They must have hidden out of desperation and agony. 
Having suddenly and all at once seen the full difference between myself and God, I would have tried to bury myself undergr…

The Easiest Pizza Dough

There is nothing particularly special about this post, but I wanted to put this pizza dough up here so I will always be able to find it.  This was so fast and easy and absolutely delicious.

1.  Combine 1 cup of 100 degree water and 2.5 teaspoons of active dry yeast in the bowl of a mixer.  Add one teaspoon of sugar, stir around, and let sit until foamy and bubbly.

2.  Add 1 cup of bread flour (or regular white flour) and 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour, one tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon of any Italian herbs you like.

3.  Mix on medium speed (with the dough hook) for 3 minutes, then knead by hand for 5 minutes.  The dough should be very soft and not sticky.

4.  Coat a large bowl with oil, and roll the dough ball in the oil until entirely coated.  Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let it sit in a warm place for 15-30 minutes, or longer.

5. Gentle pull and stretch the dough to the desired shape and size.  I stretched this …

Shipping Off

Most of you know now that Greer will leave in early January for a six to twelve month deployment to Afghanistan.  We've known about this for quite some time, which has cast our time here in an interesting light; our first few months together have all been geared toward an impending departure, and we knew our time at Fort Drum would fly by.  And it has.  We only have about a month left in this apartment, punctuated by two trips home for a family wedding and for Thanksgiving.  It's time to start sorting and packing, even though I just unpacked my last box from New Haven about a month ago.

Although the deployment has colored our entire marriage so far, it didn't seem real until today.  Today, a big trunk of Greer's personal items and an Army-issue duffel bag full of gear were boxed up and sent on a C-130 to Afghanistan, or some sort of staging ground, to await his arrival.

He set out 26 hardcover books and couldn't really think of anything else he would need except…

Bread Adventures

When my dear Army wife friend Eva invited me for lunch when I first arrived, I was amazed when she casually pulled some incredible homemade zucchini-cheddar bread from the pantry to serve with butter and tea.  For all of my culinary bravery, I'd never mustered the courage to try my hand at bread making - there always seems to be so much chemistry involved, not to mention that it's probably the most time-consuming kitchen activity on record.  
Eva assured me it was easy and that I should give it a try.  I bought two great books on Amazon and started my reading: 
The Bread Baker's Apprentice
Whole Grain Breads
Both of these are by breadmaking maestro Peter Reinhart, and I poured over his fantastic introductions about winning international bread competitions and studying with the best bakers in Paris.  These books are both extremely technical, and I jumped into one of his 100% whole wheat recipes first.  It turned out okay but it was pretty dense and involved two full days wor…

Upstate Autumn

It is definitely time to rename and redirect this blog (The Yale Chapter is so over), but for now I'll keep typing here, as I miss recording my little thoughts.  Our time at Fort Drum has so far been ideal - the autumn leaves are creating enormous walls of the brightest colors, and deer, rabbits, huge porcupines, Canadian geese, and flocks of big wild turkeys scurry around on the forest floor.  The weather has stayed at a constant 68-73 degrees for the past month.  People love to complain about being stationed here, but I honestly don't think there is a lovelier place in the country at this particular time of year.

The move from Yale to an Army base has been an enormous change.  When I look out the window when I sit at my desk, I now see a field full of MRAPs - mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles - and a line of trees beyond.  I am surrounded by men in uniform everywhere I go, which I found to be quite intimidating for the first week or two.  The only time I've seen …

Au Revoir, Apartamento

I took these shots for my Craigslist ad, and I'm so glad I documented everything before tearing it all apart.  For one last time, my beloved little home:







And a few from my last party:









The Work

Well, here I am in an almost completely empty apartment with only three days left on Trumbull Street.  Mom, Dad, Ian, and Greer all came out for graduation, which was lovely.





We celebrated together for a whole week, enjoying the best food New Haven has to offer and hitting up all my favorite Yale activities - Mory's, a Glee Club concert, a Whiffenpoofs concert, trips through the library, long tours of the Yale Art Gallery and the Yale Center for British Art.  
The whole time I couldn't help but feel a sense of incompleteness.  A masters degree is a wonderful thing and certainly didn't happen easily, but after watching the processions of the magnificent doctoral robes at graduation, I realized I am far from finished with this.  When I finished college I was quite ready to be done with school, but after this graduation I only wanted to head into the library and get back to work.  
As soon as I finished that last final, New Haven totally changed for me.  I thought I would be…

Last Paper

It's 4 AM and I just submitted my last paper.  I struggled pretty badly with this one - it was an obscure topic and I didn't have much scholarship to stand on, so I felt like I was riffing much of the time.  And riffing is a little scary when A) you're talking about 14th century mystical theologians, and B) you're writing for two professors who have both written a combined total of NINE BOOKS about the topic.  Alas.

This always happens, but I am already excited to work on that paper again at a future time.  I feel so glad that even though this degree is ending, I have my entire life to continue to learn about these things, even if I am simply contemplating them in an armchair.

I just have my Dante final to go tomorrow at 2:00, and then I am home free.  I'm having a little picnic with friends in Sleeping Giant Park right after the final, and then I suppose it's time to start sorting through my books and clothes, returning my shelves of material to the library,…

A Clear Midnight

This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless, Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done, Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best, Night, sleep, death, and the stars.
- Walt Whitman


It's not quite time for my flight into the wordless (I have 50 more pages to turn in before Monday), but a professor friend posted this on Facebook tonight and it undid me. So beautiful, and quite apt.  Even in the midst of this finals anxiety, my heart breaks to leave this place.

I leave Yale, but the "themes thou lovest best" do not leave me.  And I do anticipate intense delight when I am able to contemplate them silently, gazingly, away from books (but only if I choose).  This poem hits home tonight because it describes the wonderful and meaningful transition I will make from the classroom, seminar table, and debate floor to the private, inner life.  Not sad at all.  And deeply meaningful. 

My Farewell to my Dante Class and a Sonnet

Emergency Risotto (Vegan, Whole Food)

Tonight I made a wonderful discovery - there are episodes of the Barefoot Contessa for free on Hulu!  I couldn't be happier.  I dove into the first episode, "Cooking with Wine," and developed an uncontrollable craving for the mushroom risotto she was making.

Of course it's the middle of term paper season so I have nothing respectable in my kitchen, so I had to do some improvising.  I also didn't have 45 minutes to add homemade chicken broth to arborio rice on ladlefull at a time.  I found all of these things in my kitchen, and the result was actually delicious.

Normal recipes call for arborio rice, parmesan cheese, mushrooms, white wine, chicken broth, heavy cream, and garlic.  I only had garlic.  These are my improvisations:

1 bag of precooked brown rice (from Trader Joe's)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
any quantity of frozen asparagus
1 vegan "chicken" bouillon cube
1 cup of water
2 tablespoons tapioca flour (I am sure cornstarch would work j…

The Holy Smile

Here's a little thought I'm recording here so I can find it in the future.  It's the conclusion to an article by my own Peter Hawkins, "All Smiles", published in the excellent book Dante's Commedia: Theology as Poetry, edited by Vittorio Montemaggi and Matthew Treherne.

It's about Dante's use of smiles.  In his day, theologians debated whether or not Jesus might have ever laughed during his time on Earth.  That might seem silly, but there isn't one account in Scripture of Jesus smiling or laughing.  There is an account of Jesus weeping, and this has (unfortunately) led many to the belief that seriousness and sorrow are more firmly rooted in the example of Jesus' life.  Dante disagrees, thank God.

"As this review of riso and sorriso should suggest, the smile is not only Dante's signature gesture but perhaps his most original and indeed useful contribution to medieval theology - an indeed to the Christian tradition itself, which has lo…

Figuring Forth Paradise

I'm sitting in an empty classroom on the 3rd floor of the Hall of Graduate Studies, gazing through the gothic arches of the small-paned leaded windows into the courtyard below with its impossible number of arboreal blossoms in pinks and whites.  I had a Victorian Poetry class last spring that had this same view, and I came here today to write my Dante paper about Canto 23 of Paradiso, a canto filled with floral imagery.  Blooming, flowers, changing seasons, etc. etc. etc.

In this canto, Dante gets to just hang out with Beatrice for a while and even gets little hints of the Virgin Mary!  He has been through a lot of hard learning in the past few heavens, and it's time to take a break. He is finally allowed to see Beatrice's smile because he has gained the strength to endure it, and everybody is just sitting here for a while being compared to blossoming flowers and (this is weird) reclining like contented infants in the arms of their mothers right after a great breastfeedin…

Rhetoric + Poetry

"Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric;  out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry." W. B. Yeats
I am rent in two as my Yale days wane and wane.  Plant life busts into bloom in varying degrees as the days pass.  School traditions march forward as the weather warms.  The other day we had our first real spring storm.  I was sitting in the Saybrook common room, reading Dante and listening to another brilliant student play piano, and all of the sudden a deafening crack of thunder silenced the room, rolling in the skies for an eternity.  Long flashes of lightning filled the sky purple, and students rushed into the common room soaked through - it seemed everyone had been caught unprepared.  We have had some lovely warm days, but this was the first sign that the icy drizzles of our long winter would not return until next year.  
I've ordered my cap and gown.  I've cleared my course requirements with the registrar.  I did not fill out a FAFSA for next year.…

The Yale University Guild of Carillonneurs

A few weeks ago I got to tour the inside of one of Yale's most famous landmarks, Harkness Tower.  The bells of the tower ring several times a day, and we all frequently recognize the songs they play.  The members of the Yale University Guild of Carillonneurs teach new members how to play the Carillon, and we got a little glimpse of what goes on inside: 



We climbed a very narrow spiral staircase until we reached the top level, where an even narrower staircase leads to the roof:

The bells were beautiful and absolutely enormous!