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Archive for November, 2009

day 30: at last

I realized tonight that it’s probably been ten years since I decorated a Christmas tree. I have the most ridiculous ornaments, amassed over the last four years from the post-season sales at Anthropologie and Pottery Barn. Like almost all of the art on my walls, most of my ornaments represent some type of animal. A lot could be said, perhaps, about that animal-collecting impulse of mine—I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s so deeply rooted that I have a hard time even imagining why I would buy landscapes to hang on my walls or stars and snowflakes to hang on my tree. Do the the tiny mushrooms or the pom-pom Santa do anything to mitigate the level of crazy? Perhaps not enough, but my tree definitely looks like an explosion of crafty things. Perfect! I’m terrified for the fate of these crunchable ornaments. I have the most wonderful gray wool goat wearing a tiny fringed wool scarf—I took it out of the box and all of cats went crazy. I put it back. Maybe someday.

I spent all day writing—and some of the evening patching more concrete with my dad (or holding the flashlight while he patched). I’m starting to like the vegetable lamb thing again (more animals), which is good since we’ll be spending a lot more time together in the next few days. I’m having a hard time telling how and if this will actually turn out to be any good, but at least I’m working. It took me five hours to write one paragraph—the first one. When I closed my computer to go home and realized how few words I’d actually written—even if they did finally feel like the right words—I thought of one of my more disastrous sections last year, when I tried to get my students to discuss the first line of Mrs. Dalloway. They were unmoved, arguing that the one line didn’t matter any more than the rest of them, and that the story could have started off some other way. But it doesn’t. And those first lines are hard.

And with that, here is my last line of (unofficial, kind of failed) NaBloWriMo.

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day 29: hmm

1) I had Indian buffet lunch with my dad. Then we went to Home Depot for concrete and started to patch the hole in my foundation that sometimes squirts water into my basement.

2)  After many hours of chiseling and inspecting concrete (and another trip to the hardware store), we had dinner at Alchemy. The onion rings were amazing.

3) The DVD drive in my MacBook hasn’t worked in weeks. I just figured out that my AppleCare expired two days ago. I want to scream.

4) I took my tree out of the box and plugged it in. The cats are already gnawing on it. This does not bode well for my plans of further ornamentation.

5) Back to school tomorrow. Also, more concrete. Perhaps I can use some to patch my DVD drive?

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28: home

The old farmland on Irishtown Road where my aunt built her house feels like home.

The backyard where the boughs of a massive weeping willow used to hide my cousins and I—

the turns of the road, past the log cabin that my grandfather built, past the Bessemer where he worked,

past the houses of second cousins and great aunts and Agnes, who used to share the party line—

by Center Church and down Bottle Hill Road in the dusk—

This feels like home.

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27: time

I think that most people who know Grove City at all know it only as the site of a large outlet mall.  I often wonder about the towns that must lie just beyond the outlet malls that I pass on my frequent long-distance drives—it feels sometimes like the Grange hall, Gray’s Nursery, and my grandparents’ house could be just down the road from any of them.

The nursery is closed now—not for the season, but for good. Too many times, I think, I’ve ended up in sites of decay and disrepair, taking pictures of my family’s past. Sometimes I wish that time would stop moving—that this town would stay still.

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26: a lot of catchin’ up to do

We always go to the Guthrie, in downtown Grove City, where there is always only one movie at a time. It’s hit or miss. This weekend it was mostly miss; there isn’t much to recommend Old Dogs. We sat in the balcony, as my cousins and I did when we were younger, as my mother and her sisters and her brother did when they were much younger, and as my grandfather did when a ticket was five cents. Today it’s only five dollars. The movie was terrible—but it didn’t matter. It usually is.

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day 25: no internet access

I made five pies yesterday: three berry and two pumpkin. I also went to the outlet mall (twice–it’s only down the road), picked up centerpieces with my cousin and Ricky from my grandparents’ house—where we spent a while admiring shelves of bells and old photographs of my mother and her twin sisters—and had some delicious (?) Sheetz coffee on the way home from County Market (where we saw some Amish shoppers outside of Aldi).

We’re currently in the intermission between food and pie, and I snuck away to blog on my mom’s computer. Due to the slightly strange status of the internet connection at my aunt’s house—the ethernet cords have to be fished up through the floor from the basement by my cousin—I wasn’t able to blog last night, post-pie. We didn’t finish until about 1am, at which point everyone was sprawled all over the couches, polishing my grandmother’s silver in anticipation of the main event. I made cranberry sauce and went to bed.

I think it’s time for pie now. Then we’re going to take a walk to see the neighbor’s ponies. More blogging to come.

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day 24: grove citay

Well, I’m here. I arrived with a suitcase full of the spices necessary for pumpkin pie and stuffing, as well as a glass pie plate. All of my clothes now smell vaguely of cinnamon. My crazy cousins, as always, are providing all kinds of entertainment—“Officer Naughty” never disappoints.

Lots of plans for tomorrow; it’s going to be a big day. I think that we will end up dining at the outlet mall, and also, perhaps, at Sheetz. I’ve really been hankering for a Schmiscuit. Or a Schmuffin. For the uninitiated, Sheetz is a gas station. Also, one of my family’s favored “restaurants” (I use the term here loosely), where you can order by tapping in your sandwich fixings on a touch screen. Also, they tend to affix “Sch” to the front of all kinds of things, leading to several conversations this evening where we spoke entirely in the Sheetzian tongue. How about some Sheetzian Tennyson?

It schmittle schmofits that an schmidle schming…

I schmete and schmole schmunequal schmaws unto a schmavage schmace…

It looks like it might snow. I’m kind of excited. Lots of pies in the future, too.

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I’m heading out to Grove City after lecture tomorrow morning—these trips always provide a bounty of material for the books that I really need to write, so I’m hoping that it will carry me through the end of this month. I’m beginning to realize that I’m just not interesting enough for daily blogging. Some days, I do nothing remarkable. So I take pictures of my refrigerator. I went to class this morning and then spent all afternoon grading essays on Dracula and “The Lifted Veil.” Then, a meeting. Then, sushi. Then, vampires. Those last two events were pretty great, as was the company: Goddess of the Dawn and super-fan Hyperbolic Obsessive. Also, it’s hard to beat the a vegetable tempura roll followed soon after by popcorn and Raisinets.

The Sundance theater on the west side of town costs a couple of dollars more than the megaplexes, but I think it’s worth it. Being more than slightly crazy, I’ve never really enjoyed the megaplex experience. Crowded, chaotic, sticky, gross, bad popcorn, and people who shout things like “Want a real man?” to me as I exit Horton Hears a Who with a man who I’m quite fond of, thank-you-very-much-you-meathead.  I headed into New Moon (and into my clean, reserved seat) with pretty low expectations, and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed myself (even if all the teen angst started creeping into my system). I hate to consider what I would have gotten out of these movies had they existed ten years ago—you’re so right. I can’t live without him. I will sit in a chair for months waiting for him to come back. And then he will, and my life will be right again–righter than it could have been without him. I think—I hope—that the series is trying to make a subtler point than that, but sixteen-year-olds really aren’t so subtle. It’s hard to regard the whole thing with a heart that has been broken—and that’s why I think it’s a different viewing experience for the 26 year old me than it would have been for sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, or nineteen year old me. I get sucked in, and then it repulses me. I love it; I hate it. It elates me; it depresses me. I think that women should be—should want to be—more than Bella is. But even with the angst, it really was terrific fun. I can get into her head for a couple of hours. The nice thing, though, is that I can step back out again when the movie ends.

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day 22: scones


As promised, today was a day of scones.

Martha Stewart Blueberry-Buttermilk Scones
and
Chocolate Chip Scones (originally from Bon Appetit)

and dried cherry scones, which are some incarnation of another Martha Stewart recipe that I’ve adapted too many times to even recall the original. I was so busy eating the other two kinds—both recipes were new to me—that I didn’t sample this version of the cherry scones, which I adapted again by following some advice from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and soaking the dried, chopped cherries in a little hot water before mixing them into the scone dough. It looked, at least, like that helped to incorporate them better into the mixture.

I really liked the chocolate chip scones, but I rarely turn down anything with chocolate. The lemon zest was really nice in that recipe. The blueberry scones looked terrible when I took them out of the fridge this morning but baked up fine. I used frozen, thawed berries instead of fresh, which may have contributed to the watery/scary situation with the dough this morning, but it all worked out in the end. I’d make them again. The Martha version, of course, has the most butter of the three recipes, but I think that they had the best texture. I avoided any recipe that used heavy cream instead of buttermilk—my heart just wasn’t in it after a week of daily pie-eating (finally made it through the whole thing).

All in all, a lovely day of scones and tea, an excuse to use my creamers and my tea cups and to buy sugar cubes. Too bad I don’t have sugar tongs, like my mother.

oh. and it’s not just me. see?

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This is a strange blog post, even by the high standards of weird I’ve set by taking pictures of brass dodo birds and ceramic shoes. It may also be boring, but I’m already more than an hour into day 22 and need to put day 21 (and myself) to rest.

I just put three types of scones—six discs of dough to bake in the morning—in my refrigerator, and I was thinking about all the stuff that I had to navigate around in order to fit them in there. Half a pomegranate in a large measuring cup, because I was too lazy to find another container. A lot of Crisco. Two cans of Reddi Whip, which I’ve been putting on just about everything lately. Many strange condiments, mostly from Trader Joe’s. About a billion cans of Diet Coke. Kozy Shack rice pudding in little cups.

I’m always kind of fascinated by the contents of other people’s refrigerators, even by the highly stylized ones on cooking shows that are somehow supposed to look comfortable and homey—“oh, out of everything again except for six lemons and six bottles of San Pellegrino?” Is that just me? Maybe. Off to bed.

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