Archive | February, 2013

This Is The View From Your Room

22 Feb

prairie view

And this is your curtain rod:

finial

That’s all I have so far. But when you come visit, everything will be ready.

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Birthday Month

16 Feb

It’s still February.

For my birthday I chose Five Guys! Nothing else sounded quite so appealing. Every time we’re there, which is not often these days, I think of how we went there before we were married, back when we were so cute.

The apartment “downtown” is still ours until March 1st, but we were lucky to find someone via craigslist who will take over our lease! That has saved us approximately $2,500. ( Oh, thank Heaven. ♫) I’ve gone there three times and filled the SUV with stuff that didn’t make it onto the truck, and the place no longer feels like home. Every nostalgic bone in my body is totally over it! This weekend we’ll probably get the last few things (desk chair, guitar), clean the kitchen and bathroom, and then we can turn the page.

I think we’re all used to being in the new house, although it is badly in need of décor and we haven’t quite made a habit of closing the garage door when we should. The cat seems to have recovered from the transition which is good since I have to make her an appointment to be spayed. She hit six months a few weeks ago. For the rest of her life I pledge to ignore her saggy spinster belly and remember how before she was unsexed she was like a mountain lion.

You’ve heard about my basement stairs. For the record, they are slick, steep, shallow, painted wood. No good can come of this. Yesterday the replacement part arrived for the washer, and now we have a working laundry room down there! Which is A VERY GOOD THING. I’m sorry for ever being annoyed that my spouse brought home a free washing machine that didn’t work. A week and $20 later, it is as good as new.

washer

Before…

washer

After! Yay!

But a working laundry room does mean I’ll be going to the basement all the time, carrying things on those stairs that obscure my view of my feet. Josh recommends that I keep my cell phone with me in case I fall and can’t get up. I am toying with the idea of applying some sort of nonslip product to make the descent less dangerous, but I’m not sure how likely that is to come to fruition. Maybe that is something Dad could help me with next month when he is not shooting with Joshua?

We have an exciting new memory foam mattress topper that spent the last few days regaining its natural shape on the floor, but last night we put it on the bed and slept like a pair of babies with a cat sprawled between them. Thanks, my indulgent parents! Happy birthday to me! In return for your kindness, we’re going to buy a regular, firm mattress to trade out for our nice new pillowtop one and put the nice new pillowtop one in the guest room for when you visit.

sleep

And we will not let Ida sleep on your head when you visit.

One aspect of living in a house that I had kind of underestimated in my mind was the amount of snow-related work it would require. They inspect every Friday morning to make sure your sidewalk and driveway are completely free of snow and ice. Josh has devoted countless hours to this endeavor. I usually get out of the snow removal by working on dinner, but even when it’s too early to use that excuse he has been very chivalrous about insisting that I stay inside. I don’t want everyone to think that he is perfect. Sometimes he’s cranky and he will almost never watch Murder, She Wrote with me.

Spicy Spaghetti

10 Feb

spaghetti

This is dinner tonight. I think I can call it an original recipe, because it is a thoughtful combination of about four recipes from the internet. I recommend it for people who don’t like chunks in their spaghetti sauce.

Aunt Emmy’s Spicy Spaghetti Sauce

Olive oil
1 lb. ground beef (optional)
1 T. garlic
26 oz. tomato sauce
6 oz. tomato paste
1 t. Worcester
2 t. red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 t. oregano
2 T. sugar
2 t. dry parsley
1 t. basil
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1+ t. red pepper flakes
1-2 c. water (optional)

Brown beef in olive oil, adding garlic near the end. Pour off excess liquid, or don’t. Add remaining ingredients. Simmer a good while. Serves six, or two people three times.

sauce

If it looks like this, you’re doing it right.

no cat

No.

Is This What Blogs Are For?

7 Feb

Are you having a bad day? Have you ever had a bad day? If you would answer yes to either of those questions, go ahead and read a book about World War I.

Unless you have been exposed to poison gas that melts your lungs, or spent a good amount of time in a trench rife with disease and three feet deep with mud that is loaded with bloated, rotting corpses, or witnessed 60,000 casualties in a single day, or survived five years of trench warfare only to lose your life to an influenza pandemic mere weeks after the war’s end, then it seems like you are having a really, really good day.

That’s how I always feel after a World War I book, and I keep reading them. Maybe I like the feeling, or maybe I expose myself to the awful stories because I’m so far removed from what those men experienced that feeling vaguely troubled for a few days is the closest I’ll ever get to suffering with them. Plus if we don’t read about it we’re going to repeat it and no one wants that.

I KNEW a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

Siegfried Sassoon

Crude, but effective.

I thought a year or two ago that the account I read of Waterloo was so devoid of any relief that it must be the most tragic thing ever to have happened to a pair of armies. The scene opens with a totally silly British upper class waiting eagerly at ostentatious vacation homes in Brussels for Napoleon’s army to close in on the city and engage the mostly British allied army gathered there. It is that same ridiculous human condition that brought spectators with picnic lunches to the Battle of Bull Run. Their perfect blindness up until the last second is idiotic and horrifying. 75,000 casualties come as a complete shock.

The book I read about Waterloo was An Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer, a British writer from the early 20th century. I like her because she was famous for her “penchant for meticulously researched historical novels.” The Waterloo book is not a witty mystery or romance like most of her other works, probably a pet project of hers that she took her time on and didn’t make any money on. I decided to read it once I learned that it is still considered “one of the most historically accurate and vividly narrated descriptions of the Battle of Waterloo,” comes with a “formidable bibliography” and has been used as a textbook.

In spite of all those glowing and scholarly words in quotation marks, the cover of the book looks like this:

infamous army

“I can’t believe we wore the same dress.”

And that is the kind of cover that makes me feel like a tool for opening it. Why would anyone disguise a depressing and well-written Waterloo book as a romance? There is a soldier in the book who is probably based on a few real people but isn’t one, and he has a high-strung girl waiting for him. Does he survive? Maybe, maybe not. The author looks in on him from time to time, but the war is undoubtedly the protagonist. I guess Heyer was type-cast as a romance writer and can’t even break away posthumously.

The WWI book I just read is a recent deal. It’s written by a present-day countess in England whose castle is the inspiration for the show “Downton Abbey.” She’s not a great writer but she wanted to tell people about the real family that lived and still lives on that estate, which isn’t called Downton Abbey in real life. (I’m sure she also wanted to make money.) The fifth countess (the author is the eighth or ninth) turned the mansion into a hospital during the Great War for injured soldiers who were lucky enough to make it back to England alive. After the war, her husband discovered King Tut’s tomb. There is not an ounce of fiction in this book; it is a biography of the fifth countess based on extensive research and has a ton of photos and letters and information about the war from the British perspective.

The cover looks like this:

carnarvon

“Ugh. I can smell poor people.”

I suppose I was just surprised and a tiny bit chagrined to find myself reading another battle book written by a woman and hidden behind a flourishy and prettyish cover. Is it because the authors are female and their efforts to write about war are not taken seriously? Or is it because they want to trick women readers into thinking the book is like a Jane Austen novel? I’m just asking. Put some blood on that pretty cover. The book is teeming with it. It’s false advertising.

Anyway, if you read these books, or other heartbreaking books about war, maybe you too will feel like you were born at the right time and all your days are good. At any rate you will be more learnèd which is always nice.

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