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Archive for March, 2007

“Storm”

I found this postcard in a shop on the way to Central Sq. It was made in Portland ME, around the time it cost one cent to send it anywhere in Canada, the USA, Cuba and Mexico, and two cents for anywhere else. I bought it to send to someone, but never did because I like it too much.

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Late last night, while we were playing a bit of quiet cricket in the courtyard of our apartment, Mark saw a skunk.  It was skulking around a car and had vanished under it and out into the night by the time mark had beckoned me over with hand signals and whispers.  I thought I maybe saw it, but then, I also thought I saw a bear so obviously I didn’t.  I am reading a book about bears at the moment and am up to the chapter on sloth bears of India; they attack a person every few weeks and prefer women for a number of reasons, most of which I don’t believe.  Mark does a good impression of the way the skunk skulked and I am very pleased that he spotted a unique specimen of North American wildlife.  They only smell if they are run over, or are attacked and then spray.  When they spray they aim for the eyes and can hit with exact precision, up to fifteen feet away.

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Near Fresh Pond, the Cambridge water reservoir, is a stand of sugar maples.  Two of these trees have pipes and taps coming out of the trunks and drip clear sap into a metal bucket.  The bucket is covered with a roof but you can see inside through a gap.  The gap was big enough for me to stick my finger through but a sign said DO NOT TOUCH.  Even though I so badly wanted to taste that sap I didn’t.  Even though I really, really wanted to.   I thought I could smell it.  I think it would taste like honey suckle.  I’ve heard that eighty percent of maple syrup comes from Canada so hopefully I’ll get to taste some sap up there.  Or I could go back and stick my finger under that tap.  But I won’t.

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It is spring.  We’ve been visiting Christina’s Ice-cream shop.  There are forty homemade flavours, including prune and caramel, fig, rose, pumpkin, fresh mint, grape, cardamom and burnt sugar.

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The Decemberists were wonderful, and I loved them even before the whale came out in the encore, and before the drummer threw his sticks into the audience, and before the disco started up downstairs and the band made everyone sing “Hang the DJ”.  My Brightest Diamond also played and I thought that they were also very good, and a worthy opening act for dancing practice.  I will watch out for an economical copy of bring me my workhorse.

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The most snow so far

 

We had almost a foot of snow yesterday, it turned out to be quite exciting.  The airport was closed and there were hardly any cars on the street.  A good time to go skiing I think.

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Boo winter

I am done with winter but it seems it is not done with me. It has been snowing all day and it will probably snow all night because of some ‘winter storm’. Two nights ago I woke up in the dark to the sound of rain and I thought ‘what is that lovely sound? That sound like summer?’. Which shows that I am from a place where it rains quite a bit in summer, and also that it has been too freaking cold to have unfrozen water falling.

Snow is the silent suffocater I don’t love anymore. Hmmm, that swirling upward flake thing you just did was somewhat impressive. But no! Snow is not cute, snow gets the boot. Boooooo winter! You suck.

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The only reason I am not out there taking you on is because I have blueberry pikelets (which spell checker is trying to change to piglets. Heeee, blueberry piglets) to eat, and in two weeks it will be April, a month where snow is banned. Like to see you getting snowy then winter.

I mean, not really.  That wasn’t a challenge.  Just saying that it probably will be a bit warm later on yeah?

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Common things, a flower, a gleam of moonlight, the song of a bird, not things rare and remote, are means with which the deeper levels of life are touched so that they spring up as desire and thought. (Mr Dewey in Public and it’s Problems)

Spring air has got me a little dreamy, and the warmth and the retreating ice (not caps/shelf, just the slick thick stuff all over MA) has made me feel like a party. John Dewey’s comments on art, and a conversation with Mark about the percentage happiness my lily adds to my life, got me thinking. My list of common happy things would read;

Stargazer lily in empty whiskey bottle

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One or three pieces of lime slice (my new favourite sugar form that incorporates shortbread, the Edmonds Cook Book lemon cheese pudding, minus the milk, and limes)

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I’d also add having a Sunday sleep on a couch bathed in spring sun with lime slice on hand.

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In the vein of a week of spring weather I have a new resolve to not get stressed about getting my thesis in by June 30th. I’ll do my best but if there is lots to do (once my supervisors have read it) it wont matter all that much. Really. I’ve applied for three eight-ten hour a week jobs today, which hopefully someone replies to, which will be used to fund an end of study May trip to Nantucket/or the Grand Canyon/somewhere warm. I’ve finished a paper and almost another, and am going through my thesis like an I- doubt-qualitative-work-medical-scientist-judge. Did that sound like I was making a list of why everything is good? It is amazing what temperatures above zero can do. Now you should go and bake that slice. It is everything you ever dreamed of.

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hat-2.JPGI left the scenes of my dreams, (an unusually fast paced dream about a plane crash that was engulfing the world, where the family from Brothers & Sisters and I were sealing ourselves into a house, fending off octopus like ghouls trying to escape into our home through the windows) to the sound of sledge hammers on the other side of our bedroom wall. The rooms adjacent to ours are usually occupied by a sweet elderly woman though today were filled with sledgehammering men. I lay in bed waiting for them to arrive on our side of the wall, I imagined I’d sit up with glee and tell the story for eons to come … and then they came right through the wall! A huge dusty hole right through the map of the solar system with a chalky man peeping out from the edges of Jupiter. They seem to be gutting the house, I wonder if Molly is okay.

Mark has gone out. He is studying the law of privacy at the moment which makes him more acutely aware of the sound of people banging and hacking as they burrow through to our room.

Our house is chaotic, but still. There is a soundtrack of hammering and drilling to a scene of abandoned piles of sewing, a bouquet of flowers only just alive, a table laden with last nights salad bowl and this mornings breakfast, books and books, a bag of plantain chips, papers from work, and a dirty old oven mitt. Wet towels are laid out over the old school (literally) heaters around the house because while we are toasty warm we are also crumbling from the parched air.  I thought I’d trial a sort of sauna set up.  Winter in Wellington was clammy and damp and would have benefited from a couple of hours in the dryer. Here my hair stands on end in fright and I have become a giant static magnet to reaching threads of cotton, wool, and fluff.  That sounds like a complaint, I was just meaning to notice.

The sun shone right up past 4 o’clock which means we are closer to spring, even though the temperatures hit negative thirteen yesterday. I think of it as my winter of training. Toronto will be minus twenty six tonight according to the forecast. Lucky winter is still here so I can wear my finished hat. It was knit on slippery needles the size of rolling pins while I watched tv programmes on the internet. It is the colours of the sea, and watermelonish in shape. I also have a book to follow Omnivore’s Dilemma, one described as necessary reading for the whole world, or something like that; One hundred years of solitude.

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My Swedish Fish

This is a Swedish Fish. It is a raspberry flavoured red gummy fish, complete with scale pattern and wrapped in individual packaging. It was given to me by the woman who rang up the dish brushes I was buying from a dairy (read small grocery store). As she handed it to me, with my change, she said “enjoy the day today, it is so beautiful and sunny”, to which I replied “yes, I will, it is like spring!” and sprung out the door.

I’ll go back there at any opportunity, though it is fifteen minutes walk away and a place I’ve never been during my seven months occupation of this city in this state in this country. I am a New Zealander, and the gift of a Swedish Fish made in Canada from an English Indian woman in a dairy in Massachusetts, USA was a sweet surprise and made my day.

A personal touch, a gummy sugary touch, is surprising. How weird that I am so excited about my fish. I don’t expect people to talk to me when I buy things, I think why should the person serving me have to put on a smile and chat? At the same time it is good when you chat, and even better when you get a treat!

I have just finished reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Meals are broken into four sorts, the corn based, the industrial organic, the small scale and local producer, and the hunted and gathered. Most surprising was the discovery that livestock in the USA for the most part don’t eat grass. They eat corn and a list of other horrible proteins and antibiotics because they get so sick from surviving on an alien diet, their special rumen don’t work properly and their stomachs that are usually almost pH neutral, get as acidic as humans – there is a fear that bacteria resistant to antibiotics could be produced, an they wouldn’t be killed by our stomachs either because they have been raised in similar acidic conditions.

His point was that what is wrong with this situation is that animals are not allowed to be their quintessential animalness; a cow is prevented from being a cow, and a chicken is not allowed to be chicken like. They are really machines. After reading this book I began to think of New Zealand, and grassy farms here, as a paradise, a grass fed haven for cows. How strange to commend a place because cows get to eat grass. Not so much chickens.

Once when I was young my mother took me along with her to get some manure from the chicken coop – Milroys eggs I think. The horror. There were baldy chickens piled up in cages in that dark smelly shed, laying eggs without shells. Which I guess is the dilemma; to get chicken eggs from Mr Local Milroy and his chicken factory, or a half dozen organic vegetarian ones sourced from the West Coast. Maybe New Zealand is small enough that buying New Zealand made is adequate.

I’m waiting for a chance to try to make yeast from the air, a part of the hunted and gathered meal in the last chapter of the book. I hadn’t thought of there being yeast in the air. Though I feel a bit dubious, what if I grow creepy bad yeast by accident? You’re supposed to bin it if it smells funny, or is a colour, but what if it was normal yeast smelling, colourless creepy yeast? Is there such a thing? Or is only bad yeast stinky? What if there is a proliferation of yeast infections on the wind that day and I somehow make bread with that? That would be so freaking disgusting.

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