Archive for November, 2010

Yesterday I had every intention of writing a blog post. Instead, I ended up at Home Depot, lingering for too long in what must have been a new delivery of houseplants (they were all still alive) and soothing my seasonally affected self with the illusion that I live in a lush subtropical paradise filled with toxic hanging vines and plush mossy pots.

The last thing that I need is another houseplant. In fact, I’ve recently taken to creating frankenplants: dumping one or two small potted plants into a larger, extant plant. I left with only the weatherstripping I came for—those tropicals must now suffer the uneven care of their orange-aproned guardians.

Today was exciting—Erichy and I returned from a day of writing labors to find the dead bolt broken (not broken into, just broken). It took an hour for the locksmith to arrive; in order to stay warm, we ended up cleaning the garage (which never would have happened had we not been locked outside). I guess that’s kind of a win? Now we have a new deadbolt. The locksmith has 1/3 of my monthly stipend. At least the garage is clean.

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day 16

Design Sponge, living in: sense and sensibility

I want my life to look exactly like this. Immediately. You know what I don’t want to “live in”? Last of the Mohicans.

I know, I know—I don’t really want to live in Sense and Sensibility either. I’m really pretty happy that I don’t live in the Georgian era. I like bathing. I like wearing pants. I like refrigeration; meat that’s been sitting on a sideboard for a fortnight holds only limited appeal for me. I really like not being a scullery maid. I really, really like voting, owning property, and scholarship.

But you know what I also like? Ironstone pitchers and blue and white china. It’s kind of a toss-up.


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day 15

This morning I’ve been thinking about dirt.

I’m getting a late start on my work because I woke up to the kind of devastation that makes me wonder why anyone ever thought that it would work to just let animals wander around inside a house—or a hut, or a yurt, or whatever. What did we think was going to happen?

The state of my white furnishings is appalling; I can’t decide, though, whether it would be better if all the grossness were still there, but with less visual contrast. Maybe white was a bad idea. Maybe it was a good idea.

I need some bleach. And probably a new rug, too. One made of plastic.

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day 14

If I’m going to keep writing about random things around my house—toffee hammers and the like—I might as well write about this cat, which has a great deal in common with inanimate objects such as toffee hammers. This is Puck. One year not so long ago, Puck appeared in the yard of Ricky’s parents’ house shortly before Thanksgiving. She manifested, however, as a scraggly, feral kitten, not as this smug, plump form.

When I flew in for the holiday, we worked out a plan for trapping the kitten in a shed, where, once incarcerated, she proceeded to ricochet off the walls like a crazed raccoon. I managed to wrestle her into a large plastic bin (used by Ricky’s brother for the storage of motocross apparel), but not without a few bites. We took her to the vet; they recommended a tetanus booster for me and euthanasia for her. Needless to say, we didn’t take them up on the offer.

With the exception of select members of our immediate families, almost nobody we know has ever seen Puck in the flesh. She is a strange creature—almost unbearably affectionate with us and unknown to anyone but us—and I realize that few people would be willing to commit to a kitten deemed hopelessly feral by veterinary professionals. But here she is nonetheless. Maybe we’re both a little smug about that.

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day 13

Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh; a brief post with a bit of blue sky (which we are sorely lacking). I stared at a thimble for a while today and tried to come up with something to say about it. That sounds like it could be a metaphor, but it’s not. Instead of a thimble, you get the rooms where Mary, Queen of Scots watched the murder of her private secretary. Tourists in later centuries claimed that they could still see the bloodstains on the floors. I could not. I did see, however, a number of rather random Mary, Queen of Scots artifacts, including a bit of needlework depicting kittens.

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day 12

In the rainy, novembery light this morning, everything looks like this.

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day 11

Umm, here’s a ship. In a bottle. In Trafalgar Square. I don’t like to post without pictures, and since this post is pretty random, a pretty random, knicknack-ery picture seems oddly fitting.

Have you writery types heard of 750words? Despite my recent blogfails, I like the idea of daily writing. The ups and downs of my posts here actually have a lot to do with the ups and downs of my own writing; I write more here when I am generally writing more. I should try to remember that when I get really stuck. Writing about Nancy Drew books for an hour or two does much more good than cursing at these snailpaced revisions.

Yesterday was a good writing day; today, not so much.

I met with students, went to lecture, met with more students, read the play I’m teaching, and fell asleep for a bit, pinned beneath the heft of my aggressively affectionate 18-pound cat. These short days make me feel less guilty about giving up early. I went to the gym and read some young adult werewolf romance fiction on my Kindle while half-halfheartedly pedaling a stationary bike. I tried to block out the caveman cries of the weight room bros with Taylor Swift.

I have a giant box of pears, so I made these, which are lovely with vanilla extract but even more amazing with a vanilla bean (which, alas, I did not have tonight).

I somehow ended up watching Bride Wars (I know how: I was sitting here waiting for pears to roast and it was on HBO).

Now it might be time for some Animal Crossing, which just arrived in the mail. I had an earlier version of this game in college and came pretty close to not finishing my senior thesis because of my obsessive need to weed imaginary gardens (the weeds keep growing! even when the game is turned off!) You would think, perhaps, that I could have transferred some of my virtual weed-pulling skills to home-ownership, but it doesn’t really have the same appeal.  I was oddly charmed by one of the Amazon reviews, which is not a review so much as a treatise on the care of virtual lawns.

However, the thought of caring for a fake lawn right now is making me increasingly tired. Maybe I’ll just eat more pears and watch 16 and Pregnant.

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day 10

I have an extensive collection of vintage Nancy Drew mysteries. My guidelines for collecting them are as follows: no buying complete sets (too easy) and nothing over three dollars. I’m not sure how many I own and I have no idea whether I’m getting near a complete set or whether I’m just slowly amassing twenty copies each of the first three volumes (the easiest to find, by far). I thought once about making a list of the ones I have and the ones I’ve yet to find, but where’s the fun in that?

I buy blue ones as well as yellow; the only ones I won’t buy are the glossy yellow editions that I owned as a child. This story sounds insane no matter how it’s told, but when we went to live on Ambergris Caye for a summer—a summer that must now be twenty years in the past—we packed suitcases full of portable food (Kraft Macaroni & Cheese) and books. We also packed one of our cats, Zora.

My suitcases were filled with a complete set of those schoolbus-vivid Nancy Drews. I know that I read them all—if I reach back far enough, I have strange shadowy recollections of a jewel thief and strawberry blond hair—but I can’t remember ever sitting down to read at all that summer. I must have; my brother and I could not have spent four months watching eels twist among the pylons of the docks and eating sweet corn ice cream delivered on the back of a bicycle. I remember an eclipse that peeled back the ocean and left miles of clams slurping the last drops of saltwater in shallow hollows; I remember stray cats, cockroaches, and the calluses on my feet from months without shoes. I can’t remember much about Ned, Nancy, or Bess. I think there was a convertible.

Later, we gave my Nancy Drews to the library of my elementary school; I remember returning to the shelf that housed my collection and opening each one to see the book-plate that acknowledged our gift. I never felt a very profound connection to that set of books. I can’t explain why, fifteen years later, I started collecting them again. Perhaps, through the unexpected lens of “The Password to Larkspur Lane,”  I want to revisit sea urchins and scorching equatorial sun—but these mildewed and moth-eaten copies seem an odd way of returning to my youth.

The pathways at Wellesley were lined with a series of banners bearing the names of famous alumna and the slogan “Women Who Will Make a Difference in the World.” On my way to the library, I used to walk beneath one celebrating Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, class of 1914: aka Carolyn Keene.

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day 9 (thoughts on failing)

I woke up in the pre-dawn hours of the morning with a terrible realization: I have failed at daily blogging for the second time in nine days. I wish that I were kidding—I really did wake up, although my misplaced blogging anxiety might not be the real cause. I wake up often in the night, sometimes to ominous crashes in the living room— sometimes to the creak of gutters or the scratch of branches on the window, sometimes to no sound at all. When I first moved into this house, I woke in a panic (from my air mattress on the floor) to what seemed to be the sound of someone running the bathtub. It was only the water softener cycling through its replenishment phase.

I will try to get my blogging back on track, if only to ease my uneasy mind.

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day 8

An ice cream truck passed through my neighborhood yesterday evening. I stopped in my driveway to take a picture of that autumnal oddity; my pause gave the ice cream sellers pause and they slowed in front of my house, jangling Christmas Carols through the last few quaking leaves of fall. When they realized what I was up to, the carols ended abruptly and the truck sped away to the sound, only, of diesel fumes.

Today, as I was loading four pounds of broccoli and six pounds of pears into my car in the Costco parking lot, I noticed this other incongruous hanger-on. It’s a little late for the last signs of summer—what are these, then? The first signs of madness?

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