Like the Cat That Got the Cream

“Where have you been?” everyone keeps asking. Last week, before I could fully wake up enough to call my mother for her birthday, a message came through from her that she was in the hospital again and would have to turn her phone off. Some more translation and other kinds of work has come through, and there is even more silhouetted on the horizon. I’m writing. I’m still trying to get my insane potter in hand — even if I sit perfectly still working for six hours, he still looks disappointed in me when I say I really — I mean it this time — have to go now. But he’s teaching me a lot, about onggi and the history of Korean pottery, traditional glazes, which I started this week, Lee Kang-hyo, who reminds me of Jackson Pollock. He’s always digging up documentaries with English subtitles for me to watch and scribbling down terms in Korean. He asked me last week if what he does is called “pottery” in English.

Last night, we got a phone call at an uncharacteristically late hour, which could change a lot of things. I put the macchinetta on before B’d even hung up, because I could tell we’d be up late talking. B’s going down to Busan to handle some stuff this weekend, and we will know more once he returns, probably with his brother in tow, possibly (but improbably) also with his mother. For now, I’ve got to prepare the house a little, find and buy a good yo (Korean floor mattress). B’s worried but somehow also excited about a little fantasy he’s dreamed up about his brother helping me with some work. He’s calling himself our “angel investor” for a business that doesn’t even exist. He’s weighing in either hand the pros and cons of two different very good new jobs he’s got to choose between. One of them, in combination with whatever happens this weekend, could mean life will be propelled forward a bit more quickly than we expected in the next few months.

Vague, I know, but it’s easier not to explain it all until I know exactly what I’m explaining.

In the meantime, I’m swallowing books whole. It’s some kind of residual summer reading instinct that still kicks in. I’ve made a Bible of Tartine Bread, by Chad Robertson, which has completely rid me, in a matter of months, of poor bread-making practices I’ve been struggling to work out for decades. Highly recommend it. In a more leisurely realm, Mary McCarthy’s The Company She Keeps is keeping me on my toes with turns of phrase and simply stated observations that contain entire worlds in half sentences.

Food-wise, Korea’s run out of domestic cream and butter, causing crises in franchise bakeries across the country. Cows don’t like hot, humid weather for milk production, and, with the combined influence of new cooking shows that promote Western-style dishes, which include more dairy, domestic production can’t keep up. I was lucky enough to get my hands on two whole pints of cream this week, and I’ve been scheming about how to best put them to use. I still have some recipes from weeks ago I haven’t posted yet, as well, so I’ll try to get some of that done this week.

I had expected to be making an announcement this week, but with the current family crisis and an inflow of more freelance work than I expected to have, that’s been delayed. Hopefully soon. Right now, we don’t know what to expect, and it may end up being best for me to pursue more higher paying work for a while. Also, I seem to have overcome a months’ long writer’s block, and I’ve got to take advantage of that while I can. I’ll be back on form soon. In the meantime, I wish you all cool summer nights, an umbrella always on hand for the summer rains and the good luck to find cream when you need it. Summer’s not the same without it.