Saturday, May 30, 2015

Qwality literature

Whaddya know: I just found the journals I kept during my family's see-how-far-you-can-drive-in-how-little-time road trips in 1978 (Pennsylvania and the Colorado Rockies) and 1979 (Indiana Dunes and Mackinac Island). The journals are dusty. I haven't read them since I wrote them.

Perusing them now, I confirm what I've always known: my siblings and I fought a lot, and it's amazing that my parents never carried through on their threats to PULL THE CAR OVER RIGHT NOW and YOU CAN ALL #$@% WALK HOME. (I don't know that my parents ever said #$@%, but it was implied.)

Day 4, 5/31/78
My father is in a bad mood and wants to go back to Illinois tomorrow. I have the feeling he'll change his mind. Maybe.
Day 3, 7/7/79
Got up. Fought. Took down the tent. Fought. Left campsite. Made up.
Swedish bakery! Yummmmmmmmy!
We stopped at a winery. Mom and Dad say the wine stinks.

Providing the outline for the journals were, in theory, the great natural and historic sites that were our destinations ("We are now at the [Philadelphia] zoo. It's not the greatest zoo in the world."). However, the greater value of the texts is the insight they offer into road-tripping with tweens in the 1970s.

I meticulously recorded every encounter we had with sugar, whether candy corn, napoleon, Whitman's Sampler chocolate, eclair, ice cream, turnover, Hawaiian Punch, fudge, or soda:

Day 13, 8/18/78
Woke up, took a shower, ate breakfast, played outside. Bye!
Plains yesterday, hills today.
Kansas City, Missouri.
Day 7, 8/12/78
...With supper we had Pepsi in a shatterproof bottle. When the Pepsi was gone, I tested the bottle, and boy is it shatterproof.
...Since I found my mom's tablecloth, she gave me a prize of 1/4 of a lb. candy corns. Boy are they sweet. Then we looked in stores, got Pepsis at a pizza place, and came back. I was so tired I couldn't sleep straight.

Reading this explains so much. So much.

Of course, we ate more than just sugar. I offered no-holds-barred assessments of the sub-par cuisine at Ho-Jo's and Stuckey's ("It was O.K."; "It wasn't the greatest, but it was O.K."). Few non-sugar foods warranted mention by name. Their relative value was measured in exclamation points, including Bacon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (17), Pizza!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (14), and Ham! (1).

I kept careful track of expenses, probably feeling a little like Laura Ingalls Wilder ("Gee, [the monorail] was expensive. 75¢ per child. My parents gave N and me each a quarter. We paid the rest.").

With a righteousness passed down to me by my father, I wrote often and sternly about "Nutty Drivers!!!!!!!!"

Day 5, 6/1/78
...This really rotten driver just went past us, going more than 60 mph! He was driving like this:

In ignorant bliss, we communed with nature by wreaking havoc on fragile ecosystems.

Day 10, 8/15/78
A tour of the Big Thompson Power Project. Boring! After the tour, we went around back, found peanuts, and gave some to marmots. There were billions of them.

My intent when I began this post was to toss the journals into the recycling bin when I was done, but instead maybe I'll hold onto them for another 37 years.

Friday, May 29, 2015

More bugs and flowers

While our prickly pear is busy this year growing new pads, a neighbor's is bursting with flowers and soon-to-be fruits. I stopped by to take some cactus photos, and one yard/flower led to another....

Magnolia flower a smidge past its prime

Queen Anne's Lace with a fly dressed in a rainbow suit

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Deep philosophical question

For unknown reasons, someone in my family put a cup full of water away in the cabinet. Later, someone else took the cup out, spilling water on the floor and in the cats' food dish. Does that make the cup half empty or half full?

Saturday, May 23, 2015


We went to an estate sale a few weeks ago, and I bought a triangular cake decorating comb:

It's proving itself quite entertaining.

My first kitchen gadget in the studio was a lemon zester. I bought it several years ago after watching Lucy Fagella use one in a youtube video. Since then, I browse kitchen-gadget stores with clay in mind. Among my favorite tools are my three ravioli wheels from Italy. I've also picked up some less useful items along the way, including a pastry docker and a lattice maker--although typing this makes me want to go out on the porch to give the lattice maker one last chance....

Update, 8:10pm: I tried the lattice maker again. Two thumbs down, at least for wheel work.

Prickly pear

Several years ago, when we were walking home from his school, E and I came across a huge prickly pear cactus that had been hit by a car. Cactus pads were scattered all over the curb and in the street. We took a folder out of his backpack, put a pair of pads on it, and carried them home. While we were walking, we made up a song:

Prickly pear, prickly pear,
I've got a pair of prickly pear.
Prickly pear, prickly pear,
I've got a pair of prickly pear.

Prickly pear before me,
prickly pear behind,
prickly pear to the left and right,
prickly pear on my mind.
Prickly pear above me,
prickly pear below,
prickly pear to the sides,
prickly pear on the go.

Prickly pear to the north,
prickly pear to the south,
prickly pear to the east and west,
prickly pear in my mouth!?
Prickly pear in the morning
and in the afternoon,
prickly pear in the evening,
prickly pear sometime soon.

When we got home, we planted the pads on the edge of our front yard. They rooted and grew, but it wasn't the best spot. Every time a pad got knocked off by a wayward soccer ball, we'd dig another hole and drop the pad in.

This spring, we moved the prickly pears to the gaping hole left behind by a giant rosemary bush that hadn't survived the cold winter. It's a much better spot, and the cacti are bursting with baby pads. I've posted photos of baby prickly pear pads before, but they're just so darn tender and green that I'm posting more this year.

Farewell, frozen rosemary behind the fire hydrant; you grew beyond our wildest expectations.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Flowers in a zigzag

I'm getting carried away out on the porch studio with some new zigzag forms, but here's an old zigzag vessel freshened up with flowers from Pine State Flowers, via our brand new Durham Co-op Market. Purty.