Rosh Hashana can be loosely translated as “head of the year.” I’m working here at the wompus today, on the Jewish New Year, and if there is any truth to the notion that where you place your energy at the start of a new year predicts the year to come, it’s going to be a grand one.

I took a break for a lunch of leftover black Japonica rice, sharp cheddar cheese, and Roots & Fruits–that’s what I slapped together when I realized somewhat belatedly that last evening was Erev Rosh Hashana, or the eve of the new year.

Alongside a whole wheat matzoh ball soup and the traditional round loaf of raisin challah, I served an ad hoc mixture of roasted root vegetables and fruits with basil, honey, cinnamon, curry, and balsamic. And of course, we dipped the traditional apples in honey, to signify a sweet new year.

What we eat is always an interesting reflection of how we live. I’ve been surviving on takeout food for much of the past month.

Before lunch today, I updated correspondence with a couple authors, printed tests of two second printings, and did fresh print runs of those two chapbooks, fifty copies and fifty covers apiece. I got one set folded and the other offset for folding, and the endpapers are partially folded as well. I took a few minutes to make notes for an interview—the internship applicant arrived early and seems a lovely person, and I think we’ll be fortunate if he decides to spend some time at the wompus.

After he left I checked my inbox. I was delighted to find a new Poet’s Greatest Hits manuscript from Chad Prevost, and it looks like it’s in very good shape. I haven’t been able to put enough time into Greatest Hits this past year, so maybe this volume will kick-start my energies. Almost all volumes have now arrived here from Pudding House. The Greatest Hits books make such a wonderful complement to our other new books at the wompus, and we feel privileged to carry that line forward.

I’m happy and excited to need more copies of the books I printed today. Our initial print runs are modest, averaging under 200. Since we own the means of production and we can print more as needed, there is no advantage to storing vast inventories. We now have three chapbooks that have gone into second printings. Robert Miltner’s Queen Mab and the Moon Boy was first—Robert did a couple off-site readings at the D.C. AWP meetings last February and generated some buzz on the book there, and then sold more at his readings back in northeast Ohio. Mary Weems’ Closure is going back to press after university orders and local readings emptied our shelves. And Ann Cefola, whose chapbook, St. Agnes, Pink-Slipped, only came out a couple of months ago, is doing a superlative job of pushing out word of her book, generating sales both here at the press, and at author readings and events in her region.


Shana tova,


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Select some root vegetables. You could include potatoes of any variety, turnips, whatever floats your boat. I happened to use:

butternut squash, jewel yams, carrots, parsnips, red onion

Scrub, and where necessary (butternut, parsnip), peel. Cut as desired. I wanted this dish to cook swiftly, so I sliced everything thin, but these veggies also roast well in big chunks if you have the time to wait.

Toss lightly in olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Again, if you’re in a hurry, lay these in a single layer on a baking pan; if you’ve got time, they can go into any baking dish, with an occasional stir. Place in a preheated, hot oven. I roast them at 400 or higher. Thinly sliced, they need only about 20 minutes till fork-tender and slightly browned.

Meanwhile, chop up some apples and pears—lots of other seasonal or dried fruits would work, too. Toss lightly in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, drizzle with honey, and sprinkle lightly with cinnamon and curry. Toss in some chopped fresh basil leaves, and when the veggies are almost done, place fruits into oven. Like the veggies, they will cook very quickly in a single layer on their own baking sheet—if cooking longer you can use any baking dish, or they can simply be thrown into the veggies for the last five or ten minutes. Roast briefly—you want them soft to the tooth but not mushy. Mix fruits into vegetables (if cooked separately) and serve for a sweet new year!