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Archive for June, 2009

Sometimes when I get excited about a project, I have a hard time sleeping thinking of all the ideas surrounding it. It didn’t help last night that I was feeling a little queasy–too many cookies right before bed, I suspect, but the combined distractions kept me up until 3am. Still, I am up again, bright and fairly early, and feel none the worse for it.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t plan to update every day. I’m thinking once a week should be a doable time frame once I get settled here, but at the beginning, I’ve a few nagging things–nagging as in, they’ve been knocking at the hobbit hole of my creative conscious to be put on paper for a long time, maybe years. Gently and good-way nagging, mind you, but present all the same. Well, I’ve heard that writers shouldn’t take a hovering idea lightly, so I’m going to try to shed stories as they come to hopefully save on brain power and increase my ability to sleep at night.

Soon after waking up, as I tried to fashion a makeshift curtain out of blankets and clothespins, I found myself thinking as I regarded the flimsy little contraptions, intended to hold one thing to another, “They just don’t make these like they used to.”

I heard this expression a lot while growing up, as it was one of my mom’s favorites. At some level, I may have understood the nostalgic lament, the memory of homemade falling away in a slew of mass production, but really, it was a good thing to say about anything that broke. Things like toys that dented, dolls that lost their arms, hammocks whose exuberant loungers had worn through the threads, plates that shattered upon hitting the floor (I’m sure I’ve heard, or said, this at least a dozen times about various dishes), hair brushes whose little black nubs fell off prematurely. Oh lets see!–coolers that failed to keep food adequately chilled, cars having trouble running (at which point, I feel the need to say, “they just don’t make mufflers like they used to.” Mine fell off last week), blenders (I know I must have heard that at least once), plastic hose connectors that allow water to shoot every which way–you get the idea.

One of the commodities most deserving of this criticism, though, is indeed the wooden clothespin, which has notably diminished in quality since the days of my youth. The clothespins I remember were sturdy and a brown-gray color, like the weathered wood of a long-standing dock. The wire lay thick and tightly coiled, creaking grudgingly when opened and springing back together at the first release of finger pressure. In short, you would pay a pretty penny, or at least beg profusely, to avoid having one of these clipped to your nose for any period of time. I cannot say the same for their faun colored successors, who required three comrades on each side of the blanket in order to render it secure.

The old clothespins hung in a tan bag on our clothesline, and left dents on towels that dried under their watch. My new clothespins, I think, may have to be relegated to craft projects and petty holding, except when in numbers of three or more. A sad story, indeed. But, now, I must go attend to another sad story–my ’91 Subaru Legacy, which has a new muffler, but happens to be made exactly how they used to make them twenty years ago, and does not appreciate being driven to our new house, which is somehow uphill both ways. Ah, another expression I’ve heard more than once!

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Weeknight Cookies

In my experience, good things happen after dinner: things like dessert, for one thing, or movies, or as I’ve been enjoying lately, long, aimless walks smelling of honeysuckle. On post-dinner occasions past, I have been old enough to stay up and play euchre with the aunts and uncles on vacation. I have begun craft projects that kept me up until 2am. And here’s one that just sticks in my mind: in the idleness that comes with a finished meal, I have dipped my fingers in the colored pools crowning just extinguished candles and then once dry, sloughed them off into a pile of scallop shaped skins (a surprisingly fun activity). All good. But the after dinner experience so apt tonight, is one that comes unexpectedly, most often on a weeknight, and begins with cold butter, brown sugar and a fork.

Weeknight cookie nights are nights when there are things to be done–homework, showers–but tomorrow’s potluck/bake sale/work lunch calls. In my most prominent memory, there is me, probably in pajamas, padding downstairs to find my dad at the kitchen counter, fork and mixing bowl in hand. There is probably a younger sibling already perched on a stool across from him, watching as powder and solid turn to cream. Likely, NPR music plays in the background. I join the row of spectators, and thus in the questions and the concealed excitement; we know the end product is not for us, but we can surely benefit from some stray dough or bar cookie edge.

Of course the prospect of sweet things was enticing, but the best part of weeknight cookies, which graced us with their appearance a few times a year, was the breaking of routine. I don’t know how Papa felt whipping those up–he may have been tired–but for me, to have baking after 9:00pm was uninhibited and quite exciting!

It is perhaps unnecessary to say that I was not planning to make cookies tonight. After a month long period of house-shifting and stuff-lifting, I have just moved into my next long-term residence–a lovely, bright house on 5 acres of blackberries. It has been a bit crazy. Today, we unpacked and unpacked, and succeeded most thoroughly in getting the kitchen cleaned up. At 10:00, when the urge hit to make cookies, though, there was not much holding me back. Now that I am 22, few things hold me back from late night baking. In fact, being in college probably encourages late night baking more than anything I have ever before experienced–puts off the work, you know.

Tonight though, rest assured that my baking adventure was completely innocent. Still, I found an unbound satisfaction in the moment of permission: “Go ahead, just bake them,” I thought. And I did. And I’m so glad because it made me think of that little high I get from creating something in the calm that so often follows a weeknight dinner. It also gave me a gentle nudge to embark upon this project, which I’ve been thinking about for several days now. Really, I can’t believe I’ve put it off this long, but beginning tonight I can say it: After dinner, I have started a blog.

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