dual personalities

In everything give thanks

Happy Monday! (Is there such a thing?)

We had a good, relaxing weekend. It started on Friday, since I took “personal leave” for the afternoon. (It expires at the end of the year and taking the afternoon off for no reason almost feels better than taking time off for a real reason, right?). I made use of this time by walking to the local library and getting a new library card.

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The library is part of a brand new community center in town, but it’s tiny! Maybe a dozen shelves of books total. But, importantly, there is a whole shelf of Jan Karon hardbacks waiting for me. I checked out In This Mountain and “binge” read it this weekend.

As always, reading about Mitford was very comforting. In this volume, Father Tim has a terrible accident and has a difficult time recovering emotionally. He struggles for much of the novel, though prayer eventually helps him break through. In a culminating sermon, he preaches “just four words” — In everything give thanks. While thanks is an important word, he says, the most important word is everything. Even the difficult things. We’re a little ahead of Thanksgiving time, but surely we could all use this reminder year-round.

IMG_5008.JPGWell, I also puttered around the house and even ventured out to Target and Michaels’ for various supplies. I am starting an ambitious stocking project, pictured above. Here’s hoping I can pull it together by X-mas 2020! In the meantime, we trudge ahead to Monday. We can do it!

And the days move on and the names of the months change and the four seasons bury one another…*

How can it be Saturday again so soon? Time does not march on, it sprints, and I can’t keep up. I’m not sure which confounds me most. Is it that I’m doing the same things for the millionth time or that it takes me longer to do what used to be quick and easy jobs? Whatever the reason, life is speeding by at an unprecedented clip and I never seem to have anything to show for it. My week went something like this:

  1.  The weather was cold, dark and rainy. I went to work in the dark and came home in the dark.
  2.  Although I had a day off teaching for October break, I used every minute of it to grade papers and exams (very much my own fault).
  3.  I spent an inordinate amount of time attempting to prevent a colleague’s semantic error from morphing into a career stunting disaster (theirs, not mine).
  4.  Beyond the usual activities, I attended a church meeting, a department meeting and one tai chi class (the department meeting prevented me from attending the second one).
  5.  Our furnace broke so I had to wait around all day yesterday for the repairman to come and fix it. After about five hours, we had heat again. Glory hallelujah! It was getting cold in here, but at least  that inspired me to get some cleaning done.
  6.  The highlights of the week involved phone conversations with all three sons, my future daughter-in-law and my sister.

Having spent my energy on absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, I had no time or brainpower left over for reading or watching. Every time I tried, I simply fell asleep. The ONLY new thing that happened this week was that I managed to use up the Romanesco that came in our CSA.

It’s pretty but very alien looking, isn’t it? After separating the little doohingies into florets, I roasted them with olive oil, garlic, spring onions (also in the CSA) and seasonings, and served them on a bed of fresh fettuccini topped with grated Romano cheese. The Romanesco tasted like a cross between roasted cauliflower and broccoli. I always feel that I’ve accomplished something when I manage to use the odd things that come in our CSA. Plus, I could congratulate myself on preparing a healthy, vegetarian meal!

And that’s about it. My DH’s stepmother is coming to visit this coming week, so hopefully I’ll have something fun to report next Saturday. Though my blog posts may be a little boring, I know how blessed I am to live as I do and to have such a wonderful, loving family. Sometimes the weeks are a little routine and that’s okay!

*Mervyn Peake, Gormenghast 

Hanging in there

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“Love is not a big enough word.”

So the OM and I are celebrating our 39th anniversary today! I grant you that celebrating may be too strong a word for what we will actually be doing…

…but you know that I am always looking for a reason to toast or celebrate.  And 39 years is a long time!

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1970s College ID–good grief!

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He still has that shirt and it still fits…

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The parade did not pass us by…

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…and the soundtrack never changed…

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(Always with the free advertising…)

Thirty-nine years deserves champagne, but we will probably be hunkering down in front of the telly and watching a movie (sans champagne), per usual on a Friday night.

However, the list of movies that comes up when you google “wedding anniversary movies” is truly bizarre. I mean, really, Gone Girl (2014) is #1.

Shane (1953) is #22 on the list, I suppose because Joe and Marian Starrett celebrate their wedding anniversary on the 4th of July shortly before the denouement of the film.

Screen Shot 2019-10-17 at 11.43.04 AM.pngWell, I haven’t been able to come up with a list of my own…except that Manhattan Murder Mystery (1993) comes to mind…

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…wherein Diane Keaton and Woody Allen play a married couple trying to solve a mystery involving a neighbor who may or may not have been murdered. I think it is hilarious but the OM despises Woody Allen. (And there is something vaguely familiar about Diane and Woody.)

Then there’s always Cary Grant and Irene Dunne or Rock Hudson and Doris Day or William Powell and Myrna Loy in a variety of films featuring them as married couples.

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Well, we’ll figure something out. Any suggestions?

Here’s to 39 years! And to a few more!

Have a good weekend!

“Well–if you want to behave better and feel better, the only absolutely certain method is drinking less. But to find out how to do that, you will have to find a more expert expert than I shall ever be.”*

Greetings from DN!

Non-alcoholic cocktails (“don’t call them mocktails”) are very trendy right now, and I have been trying my hand at different recipes. Success is varied. An orange shrub served to recent dinner party guests was not a hit. Everyone was nice about it, but you couldn’t avoid the acrid nose of vinegar no matter how the drinks were mixed. On the other hand, there are also real triumphs! For example, a worthy bourbon substitute for a non-alcoholic old fashioned. Daughter #2 calls them faux-ld fashioneds.

The most difficult flavors to replicate in a faux-ld fashioned are the bourbon’s smoky and malty flavors (the sweet part I can handle!). However, since I lack the time to barrel-age anything, what can replace these qualities? The answer, it turns out, is barley.

IMG_1881.JPGSpecifically, barley tea. And not wanting to pay through the nose on Amazon, I decided to make my own.

Recipe blogs make all kinds of claims for barley tea. Antioxidants? Barley tea! Inflammation? Barley tea! Hot and cold! Hey, everyone in Korea is drinking barley tea year round. And now you can too! The recipe blogs would also have you believe that making barley tea is quick and easy. This is partially true. Easy, yes. Quick, not so much.

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Toast at a low temp

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Keep toasting

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Almost there

 

When your kitchen begins to smell of burnt popcorn, you’re about halfway done. Ultimately, simmer this for about half an hour and you’ve made the roastiest “tea” you’ve ever tasted.

It also turns out that our faux-ld fashioneds need a vanilla note. But because Daughter #2 had made vanilla ice cream for our dinner guests, I had an empty bean pod ready for repurposing in a syrup!

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Fresh vanilla beans cost about five bucks-a-pop and are to be cherished. After this, the pod will retire to the extract bottle, where it will happily live out the rest of its days in darkness.

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Et voila! It’s a non-alcoholic cocktail that I’m quite proud of! Now to hold my nose and return once more to the shrub grind.

*Kingsley Amis, from Everyday Drinking

Well, well.

Happy Wednesday. Daughter #1 here. I just finished viewing this week’s DWTS. SPOILER ALERT: No one was eliminated because “it was Disney Night” which was incredibly lame. I had Monday off for Columbus Day. As someone who spent ten years in news, any holiday I am not working is a treat. I used the day off to learn how to make a pouch with a zipper.

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There isn’t a straight line on this pouch, but the zipper works. You can seriously learn anything on youtube. I highly recommend the ladies at the Missouri Star Quilt Shop (I’m not precise enough for quilting, but the tutorials are interesting to watch). Yes, they are Missouri-based and yes, I’m trying to invent a reason to go there for work.

As my mother mentioned, we had tremendous luck at an estate sale on Saturday. I got a lovely little chair (I love ladies chairs because they are appropriately sized). I also this great rug for my office.

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I mean, does that bring you joy or what?

This post is turning out to be a mish mosh of things.

I suppose I’ll leave with you this quote from The Wind in the Willows which I am reading for the first time (in between old Delano Ames mysteries and Ulysses S. Grant’s memoirs). Speaking of mish moshes.

“The Wild Wood is pretty well populated by now; with all the usual lot, good, bad, and indifferent–I name no names. It takes all sorts to make a world.”

Boy, that’s the truth.

 

Release one leaf at break of day

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O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.
–Robert Frost

I love October; it is my favorite month. But I feel that it is rushing by and that I am not able to savor its beauty. No long walks or day trips to mid-MO wine country. Well, c’est la vie. We do what we can.

This past weekend daughter #1 came for a short visit and we did get out on Saturday to a good estate sale where we did rather well. She got a chair and I got a Christmas present for someone. We also went out to lunch. And we met the wee babes at the local farmer’s market to watch them frolic on hay bales and in the corn box.

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They also came over afterwards for pizza and more time with the dollhouse.

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We were certainly living our best lives.

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The painting is Autumn Branches by Jan Schmuckal (found on Etsy.com).

October fruits

This weekend, DN and I ventured out to the very edge of the suburbs, where there is still farmland. (We spotted horses and alpacas, of all things.) Our first stop was a farm that runs an incredible business each year selling pumpkins, sunflowers, apples, and vegetables. Mostly, they sell an Instagrammable Autumn. Everyone there is wearing flannel and boots. There are lots of babies being perched on bales of hay.

I am not judging — I, too, partake in the marketplace of October content.

IMG_4989We did pick some delicious Stayman apples, which I will put into a pie when I feel up to it. (Making my first pastry dough of the season is always a real hurdle.) We also grabbed Asian pears and sampled the fruits of a few other rows, as well.

To appreciate the wild and sharp flavors of these October fruits, it is necessary that you be breathing the sharp October or November air. The outdoor air and exercise which the walker gets give a different tone to his palate, and he craves a fruit which the sedentary would call harsh and crabbed. They must be eaten in the fields, when your system is aglow with exercise, when the frosty weather nips your fingers, the wind rattles the bare boughs or rustles the few remaining leaves, and the jay is heard screaming around. What is sour in the house a bracing walk makes sweet.

–Henry David Thoreau, from Wild Apples

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DN’s system is aglow with exercise

On our way home, we stopped at a place called “Brookeville Beer Farm.” What is a beer farm, you ask? I’m not sure. But this place had a similar edge-of-the-suburbs vibe, in that it was clearly set up for a mix of adult and child groups and the space was sprawling. I had a pretzel with beer cheese and couldn’t complain. It was a very October day — down to the frosty weather nipping my fingers. I think it’s time to get out my jackets!

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There was a feeling of autumn coming to last a million years.*

Alas, Autumn won’t last another week, let alone a million years, but it sure is pretty while it lasts. Here’s the view out my (dirty) living room window on yet another rainy Saturday.

I’m a little late posting today because I spent the morning working at our church rummage sale. Fellowship hall was hopping,

a happy coworker attempts to control the clothes stacks

and within minutes of opening, our neatly stacked clothes piles were a mess.

I had a fine time playing cashier but my happiness level skyrocketed when someone I know from church let me hold her baby while she shopped! I was so thrilled that I insisted on a photo.

This little guy was a perfect gentleman the entire time I held him and I’m quite sure that his adorableness inspired people to donate to our worthy cause. What a cutie-pie! He had quite the grip on my thumb and finger and will no doubt grow up to be a strapping lad.

I feel as if I should not attempt to do much else today — what could top baby-holding? — but maybe I’ll venture out to buy a pumpkin  or put up some more Halloween decorations. So far, I’ve gotten out my votive candle holders and that’s about it.

Writing this post has put me in the mood for a good scary movie. Not one of the gory, over-the-top modern slasher types, but one of the classics. I could go for Ray Milland in The Univited, couldn’t you?

It has a good creepy vibe and nice chiaroscuro cinematography, and it’s a good, old-fashioned ghost story. Sounds just about perfect.

Enjoy your weekend!

*Ray Bradbury, Long After Midnight

 

 

This and that

Well, when you least expect it, you get a surprise. And the Cardinals really surprised me. They won the NLCS in a remarkable game 5, scoring 10 runs in the first inning and winning 13-1.

Screen Shot 2019-10-10 at 9.16.21 AM.pngScreen Shot 2019-10-10 at 9.08.54 AM.pngIn other news I went to the pumpkin patch at the local Methodist Church and met the wee babes there after school.

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We picked out some pumpkins and they ran around.

FullSizeRender-1.jpegFullSizeRender.jpegIMG_3007.jpegA good time was had by all! And we got pumpkins.

History Fun Fact for the day: During a visit to St. Louis on this day in 1910, Theodore Roosevelt flew with pilot Arch Hoxsey, becoming the first U.S. president to fly. The former president must have been a pretty fearless guy–to go up in a plane with a 26-year old pilot! (A few years earlier he had startled the country by diving beneath the waters of Long Island Sound in a submarine.)

Screen Shot 2019-10-10 at 2.38.32 PM.pngSadly, the pilot died a few months later while trying to set a new altitude record. The Wright brothers paid for his funeral.

Yesterday was the start of Dolly Parton Week at the Opry where they are celebrating Dolly’s 50th Opry Member Anniversary. This week-long celebration of her impact on music and the Opry leads up to her 50th anniversary performance on the Opry stage on Saturday. How I wish I could be there Saturday night! I’d also like to see that, yes, truly “every sequin tells a story” at “Dolly: My Opry Memories”, a special limited-time exhibit at the Opry House. I want to “go back in time with wardrobe pieces Dolly has worn on the Opry and Ryman stages over her Opry career!”

Screen Shot 2019-10-10 at 4.03.21 PM.pngDisappointing, indeed, but as usual, I’ll be hanging out at home having a quiet weekend. I  hope to at least make it to an estate sale that looks promising. Maybe I’ll watch a Dolly movie this weekend. Anyone for Steel Magnolias (1989)?

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or Rhinestone (1984)?

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Well, we’ll see.

 

Have a good weekend!

O Lord, heavenly Father, in whom is the fullness of light and wisdom: Enlighten our minds by thy Holy Spirit, and give us grace to receive thy Word with reverence and humility, without which no man can understand thy truth; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.

–John Calvin (1509-1564)

“Hope is not a strategy.” “You must be new.”

I’ve mentioned before that action movies are an unexpected overlap in the Venn diagram of genres DN and I will choose when browsing movies. For a while now, I’ve been promising DN that I will watch some iteration of Mission: Impossible with him. Well, this week, the time came to make good on my promise.

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I didn’t not like the movie, but I had a number of complaints:

First of all, the movie is TWO AND A HALF HOURS long. We watched it over two nights. That is way too long. The movie had too much plot (but also, somehow, very little plot?) and could have used some extensive editing.

As you might guess, there isn’t a whole lot of character development, but there are two women characters that are vaguely in love with Tom Cruise and look EXACTLY THE SAME. So the whole time, we were like, was that the spy? Is she the one that killed that guy? Is she married to Ethan? Is she chasing them right now? Why? Only at the very end, when the two women were in the same room, were we certain who was who.

Speaking of character development, none of the allegiances were entirely clear, and thus none of the betrayals were surprising. There’s a scene with Alec Baldwin (who put him in this movie!?!?) representing IMF and Angela Bassett representing CIA and and then a good guy in a literal mask of a bad guy, and at the end of it, you’re still just left assuming that “good” and “bad” are fairly arbitrary designations.

It’s fine; I do not expect stellar writing out of a spy movie. Typically, I just need a handsome lead or two.

But TOM CRUISE IS NOT THAT LEAD. You might have heard that he does his own stunts. I guess that’s cool, but it’s also insane, and ALSO he looks pretty stupid when he’s running. And he runs a lot in this movie. And really, as a child of the nineties, and more importantly a teen of the aughts, I just can’t with Tom Cruise. We’re talking about a man who got this excited about KATIE HOLMES:

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I’ll take Melissa McCarthy any day.