Rings of Existence

As you may have noticed there is a certain level of dog happenings that get written about from time to time on this blog. The reason why the blog is named after the dog dates back to when I first dipped my toe into online forums. I borrowed the dog’s name to go on Dan Lepard’s forum as I didn’t particularly feel like using my own name. My dear friend Celia @ Figjamandlimecordial suggested that I name the blog after the dog too, so that’s just what I did.

Zeb takes a keen interest in the products of the baking and indeed any food related activities that go on in the kitchen. There is a point in the process when I sit down and stare through the glass door of the oven and watch the bread spring (hopefully) when he knows from past experience that I will stay put for at least fifteen minutes or so and he hops onto my lap, sighs and cuddles down. I pretend to myself he wants to watch the bread in the oven too, but most likely he associates the smell of softly warming bread and the heat from the oven with downtime and a rest.

In the morning when the toast is made, or if there is brioche (oh joy for a French poodle!)  he is sitting there waiting for a piece too and ever since he stole a plate of Lebkuchen off a low table one Christmas he has had a terrible weakness for cakes and biscuits and gets outraged if he is not given a taste.

Last night I was catching up on a subscription to a magazine called The New Yorker which I read. My grandparents read it, my parents read it, and my sister reads it, every so often I have a print subscription and the magazines pile up and make me feel guilty that I haven’t even taken them out of their wrappers, so I thought I’d try the iPad version. It has pluses, no piles of unread magazines, but I still think I prefer the print version as being easier to read and handle. I am just tackling the August editions; I am way behind and I really enjoyed this piece by Adam Gopnik on the dog-human relationship which you can read on their website, some of their articles are there for free.

It is a fine old magazine with some extraordinary writing on science, medicine, literature, arts, and politics, wide ranging and beautifully edited. I’ve learnt a lot reading The New Yorker over the years.

This quote in particular stood out from this piece and gave me an opportunity to reflect:

From The New Yorker : PERSONAL HISTORY

Dog Story by Adam Gopnik
How did the dog become our master?

Read more by clicking here :

We are born trapped in our own selfish skins, and we open our eyes to the rings of existence around us. The ring right around us, of lovers and spouses and then kids, is easy to encircle, but that is a form of selfishness, too, since the lovers give us love and the kids extend our lives. A handful of saints “love out to the horizon,” circle after circle—but at the cost, almost always, of seeing past the circle near at hand, not really being able to love their intimates. Most of the time, we collapse the circles of compassion, don’t look at the ones beyond, in order to give the people we love their proper due; we open our eyes to see the wider circles only when new creatures come in, when we realize that we really sit at the center of a Saturn’s worth of circles, stretching out from our little campfire to the wolves who wait outside, and ever outward to the unknowable—toward, I don’t know, deep-sea fish that live on lava and then beyond toward all existence, where each parrot and every mosquito is, if we could only see it, an individual.

You are all part of my circles, my random visitors dropping by and reading my blog, thank you for reading and talking to me.

Now the dog is taking me for a walk; a deal’s a deal!

Joanna @ Zeb Bakes

(300 posts today!)

33 thoughts on “Rings of Existence

  1. sallybr

    Congrats on 300 posts! Quite a milestone!

    I love The New Yorker, used to subscribe to it, but dropped it to cut expenses, maybe not a wise decision, after all

    As you imagine, I will be reading this article with great interest, having three dogs and a few problems to deal with…

    Hope you are having a great weekend!

    1. Joanna Post author

      It was a good survey of the current thinking on the dog/human thing together with some nice personal insight. I liked the reference to Nagel particularly. Hope your weekend is going well too Sally :D

  2. Ruth

    Congratulations on 300 posts! And I love the excerpt about circles. It’s good to think about those things sometimes. :-)

    1. Joanna Post author

      It’s yet another way of looking at the world isn’t it? Maybe that’s why we read articles and visit blogs to see differently. Thanks Ruth :D

  3. Abby

    Happy 300 posts!! I’ve enjoyed them all. :) The New Yorker is a beautiful publication, but I can totally relate to the guilt of stacks of unread mags piling up…I try to keep my subscriptions down to a minimum, but sometimes I get sucked in. (And it’s breakfast time here, and I would really, really like to eat a bit of that brioche right now.) Have a great weekend!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I don’t have any other subscriptions currently, I just don’t keep up with them, the internet eats my reading time for the most part. Would love to share brioche with you anytime Abby. Thanks for reading :D

    1. Joanna Post author

      I’m loving your blog c, so pleased to have met you :D Zeb’s enthusiasm for walks is endless, he met many exciting new dogs yesterday as we went to the arboretum at Westonbirt via Shipton MIll to pick up a small sack of flour.

  4. heidi

    I am happy to be a random part of your life- and happier that you are a part of mine through the avenues of the blog kingdom.
    300 posts is a mile stone- a measuring point of connectedness – I have also enjoyed reading and participating in your bread adventure through the written word.
    Thanks for sharing so much of your world, Joanna, we are all richer because of you.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I enjoy our conversations Heidi and I like visiting your world and imagining the Russians on the roof and seeing what your loving family are doing. Fried basil leaves are still on my mind… :D

  5. Misk Cooks

    That is quite simply pure joy and warmth to read. I assure you that the pleasure of knowing you is entirely my great luck in this world peppered with random chance.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thanks Misk, hope you had a great trip away and look forward to hearing all about it soon. Pepper is the spice of life :D

  6. Melanie

    Congratulations on making it to the 300th post!! I hope there are many more. I do ever so enjoy reading yours posts and am honored to be part of your circle of readers and friends. Perfect looking brioche there with the jam. I’d beg too if I were Zeb and saw that lovely piece of bread. I hope she got some jam with her brioche. Wonderful thought provoking piece from that article. I’ve never read the New Yorker, maybe I should pick one up for fun. Hope you, Brian and Zeb are having a very enjoyable weekend!

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Melanie and thanks, I didn’t think I would blog for this long when I started out. I have got to know so many sweet people while writing it so the pleasure is all mine too. The New Yorker has a big range of articles, some weeks less exciting than others, you can get a good idea of it from their website as they publish excerpts and some of the articles in full there. Weekend going good so far, hope yours is too :D

  7. cityhippyfarmgirl

    I’m so glad you started blogging Joanna. I love reading what Zeb and Co get up to, and that’s a wonderful quote. I feel very lucky to have jumped into that circle.

    And 300 posts is a milestone!

    ps. Cannoli dough having a rest in the fridge…IT has commenced. Fingers, eyes and toes crossed.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Can’t wait to hear more about the cannoli…. they must be done by now…. thanks for reading Brydie x :D

  8. teawithhazel

    until relatively recently we only had limited access to the circle of people outside our immediate sphere but now the ‘global village’ is on our doorstep..this can cause us a lot of anxiety as we read about the misfortunes of those thousands of miles away..but at the same time we have the benefit of connecting with people we would never have encountered once..and that is magic..

    congratulations joanna on your 300th post..

    1. Joanna Post author

      It is quite magic as well as anxious making, but I am glad that I learnt to read and write all those years ago as it makes this all possible for us. Thanks for chatting to me jane – hope you’re having a good weekend too :D

  9. chocveg

    Hi Jo, I too am happy to part of your circle, and hopefully we have spread the bread circles around us too! I was thinking of you this afternoon, as I have made a type of couronne bordelaise my version today with the roast potato and onion bread in a lovely ring, to share with a group of people tomorrow!
    Enjoy Autumn sunshine hopefully in Bristol!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I was just thinking of a roast potato bread as I was wandering around feeding the starter in the early hours. Enjoy yours tomorrow – the bread circles are great fun :D

  10. emilysincerely

    What a nice article. I love the paragraph you printed about the rings of existence. That applies to so many things. I giggle a bit since we have cats (and we are considering adding a bird that a friend of a friend is trying to find a home for – they are moving overseas) There are some days I am so stuck in my own world, never opening the front door, but for the most part I am aware of a lot of things. The internet has opened the door to meeting so many new people in new places around the world. Finding others that do similar things and learning things. Have conversations. Thank you for sharing letting us into your circles. Thank you for being in my circles too. Sincerely, Emily

  11. emilysincerely

    Thank you so much! The cannoli molds and the chocolate letters have arrived.

    The letters melted a bit in our heat, so a few letters are missing – they have turned into other letters. haha.

    so now I just need motivation – to make cupcakes (or cake) complete with frosting to spell out fun chocolate letter words AND make cannoli’s!

    Thank you so much
    Sincerely, Emily

    1. Joanna Post author

      Oh no, melted chocolate, I didn’t think it would be so hot still. You are most welcome Emily, I hope they are salvageable. On the article – yes – he didn’t have much to say about cats. My favourite cat is my friend E’s burmese, who is a very cool yet loving character and so very relaxed. I’d have one like that if I was a dog free household. It’s been a real pleasure reading about your adventures this summer :D

  12. Ann Hall

    Love this post, Joanna, and congratulations on the 300. Another great photo of Zeb in his muddy puddle! A dog of good taste (and cosmopolitan) seeing he likes Lebkuchen and brioche. Spot once stole some pecan and prune muffins – very healthy! He also likes to be in the kitchen with me, ever hopeful that the odd crumb may fall to the floor – who needs a vacuum cleaner?
    I have just read and enjoyed the article you mention – lovely thoughts on the rings of existence.
    PS Have been making your baguettes with a poolish – much enjoyed though I think i can still improve.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Morning Ann ! Pecan and prune muffins sound far healthier, my dog has an unfortunate taste for cake now. Glad you liked the article :D And making baguettes too, I’m delighted you found the post useful, they are tricky to shape and slash aren’t they?

  13. Barbara

    Oh, Joanna, I do love your posts, all of them but this one especially. And 300 of them!
    But how does everyone see that it was your 300th?

    1. Joanna Post author

      I wrote it at the very end of the post sweetheart :) Thank you for reading along, I look at Paindemartin from time to time and just found a recipe for making knackebrød which I hope to try your rolling pin on soon. Lots of love xx Joanna

  14. timethief

    Congrats on your 300th post. I smiled as I read about Zeb. I have three dogs (1 Pomeranian, 2 Chichuahuas) and they all have times of the day when they know they can each sit on my lay alone. They see me heading out to the deck with my tea and then they materialize. That is of course if Beloved is not cooking or baking. If he is then they all line up in a row seated on the kitchen runner side by side and stare at the stove or oven.

    We have also decided there are some subscriptions we prefer to read in hard copy. I liked reading Dog Story by Adam Gopnik – How did the dog become our master? and thank you for sharing the link.

    Thanks for making me feel so much a part of your blog community despite the fact my appearances are always belated.

    With love,

    1. Joanna Post author

      Thank you so much TiTi. Three little beings queuing up for your lap, I can just imagine the scene. I have become a fan of small dogs as I have got older, there are many advantages to them. I am always pleased to hear from you and to visit your blogs too, you are a touchstone for so many aspects of blogging for me and I have learnt and indirectly shared much that I have enjoyed and learnt from knowing you. Sending love back, Joanna

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