Thursday, August 4, 2011

The week in review

I swear that it's entirely unplanned when I go an entire week without leaving anything here.  The days are running through my fingers so quickly.  The only thing that keeps me from feeling completely depressed about this is that I know that the upcoming semester will pass just as quickly.

There are so many projects that I need to start and finish in the next three weeks, one of which I managed to do last week.  Here he is (Erin: I totally FORGOT a "before" picture--can you believe that?  After I swore I wouldn't? Oh well):

The definition of Fat and Happy. I'm really glad that he has an inny and not an outy.

This guy came into my possession when I was 12.  The neighbors behind my parents house bought him for a little spot in their backyard, and when they moved to Arizona they didn't bother to take him. (He weighs 25 lbs and is a complete back-breaker, so I totally get why they left him.) The new people who bought their house only stayed two or three years (sadly, because we really liked them) before moving to Florida.  Before they left, I asked the lady of the house, "ummm, are you taking your Buddha?"  And she was like, "Oh dear God, no.  He's not even ours. Do you want him? Take him!"  I have no idea how I managed to get him home.  I probably rolled him like a boulder across their huge yard down to my parents' side yard. He was this speckled dark hunter green color. Do you remember that color from the mid-90s?  EVERY home item came in that dark hunter green speckled with a lighter shade of hunter green?  That's the color he used to be.  Until last week.

When I moved out of my parents' house a few years ago, I didn't forget about him, but I didn't remember to take him with me either.  Two weeks ago, I somehow hauled him across my parents' yard and hefted him onto the floor of my car.  After I thanked my mom for not throwing him out ("I knew you would remember him eventually," she said), I drove him home as he tilted and rolled around on the floor of my car in a most undignified manner.  But whatever--his paint was already chipping and peeling and he's a solid block of cement: I don't think a sledgehammer could damage him.

He sat with his ugly green paint on my front step for two weeks before I finally just sat down with him and spray painted the living daylights out of him. Erin had given me a primer on spray painting the day before, so I was sure to follow all of her rules (except for the part about careful sanding--I cared about that for about ten minutes and then decided, "He's a lawn ornament. If he gets shabby, so what? I'll redo the paint in two years").  And voila'! Two coats of primer and two coats of metallic gold later, he was finished.  He has a spot of honor on the front planting area, and I chose to have him facing the front door rather than facing out toward the street.

I think he's pretty happy here.  I wonder if it's bad feng shui that he sits and faces the house while I also have another gold Buddha inside at my front door looking out toward the yard?  I don't know.

Our tomatoes have finally come into season.  Here they are at the beginning of July:

And here they are now:

HA! What? Did you expect to see them still on the vine?  I was on my own last week because Ron was away, and this was the only meal I bothered making for myself (since I wasn't mooching off of my mom or mom-in-law).  I felt bad using the tomatoes without Ron, but I was afraid they would shrivel by the time he came home, and there are still plenty more out there.  I swear by this Ina recipe that's in her green book. Roast the tomatoes in the oven with the dressing and then just pour it over warm spaghetti.  (Be sure to adjust your cooking time--cherry tomatoes are smaller than plum tomatoes and cook much faster in the oven.) OMG.  Nothing beats it.  Actually, the addition of pancetta is FAR better, but I didn't have any in the fridge and I was too lazy to go get it.

I think I've stalled out on the creative projects front because I started reading Gone with the Wind, and it totally sucks up every free minute I have. I am not at all complaining about this--it's probably GWTW that is making the days fly by way too fast.  Wow. Margaret Mitchell is an unbelievable freakin genius.  Unbelievable.  Genius.  You know what's terrible? She died unexpectedly because she was hit by a taxicab thirteen years after she was published.  How ridiculous is that.

Yesterday, I sat outside with the cats for what had to be three hours and just plowed through Scarlett's trouble at the sawmills.  (It wasn't a consecutive three hours--oh, we had an impromptu trip to the vet in the middle, but everyone's ok now.)

"We're not going in yet, right?  I can just keep sitting here?"
I've had this book on my shelf since 2005 (I only remember that because it's the date I wrote on the inside cover after I bought it at the second hand book store), and I'm only picking it up now.  This thing is huge--so big, that it makes me seriously consider why I don't own a Kindle.  (If I ever seriously, seriously consider buying one, I'm sure the Pool Ladies will be happy to knock some sense in my head and tell me it's a waste.  Carrying around large, unwieldy books makes a girl strong!  What would Scarlett say about a girl who's too weak to carry books?? She would tell you to go to Halifax, that's what!)

Honestly, I only started reading it because my friend Laurie told me years ago that it's her favorite book, and that was enough of an endorsement for me to put it on my "Eventually, I'll Get Around to Reading It" List.  I saw Laurie last night, and Laurie said, "Isn't it great that it's one of those books that completely makes you forget where you are when you're reading it? I read it one time when I was in the Caribbean, and it was shocking to shut the book and realize, 'Whoa! Where am I?  Georgia? No! Oh right, I'm sitting next to the Caribbean. Oh right, I'm not Scarlett: I'm Laurie.'"  She told me to go ahead and re-watch the film when I'm done, but it will be deeply disappointing in comparison to the book. I only saw the movie once when I was 13, and I remember really enjoying it. But, I know Laurie's right and I can already tell that the movie simply won't hold a candle to the book.  Book Scarlett is so smart, fierce, and doggedly hard-working and strong.  From what I remember (fourteen summers ago--ay yi yi), Movie Scarlett is just whiny, whiny, whiny.  Book Scarlett is so much better.

My bookmark is inching closer to the end, but I don't want it to finish so soon.  Laurie did say that she enjoyed the sequel, Scarlett (not written by M. Mitchell), and this is considered a travesty by die-hard GWTW fans.  According to Laurie, "Scarlett gave me the ending I wanted." Period.  Which totally gives away the ending to Scarlett, but I think my mom rented Scarlett for us the same summer she rented GWTW, so Laurie wasn't spoiling anything.  I don't think I'll have time for both this month, but maybe I'll try.

Anyway, M. Mitchell is one of the very best writers I've ever encountered.  Think about this: She wrote GWTW from 1926-1929.  She finally got it published in 1936, during the middle of the Depression.  Her book sold 176,000 copies in the first three weeks of its release.  During the DEPRESSION.  Who bought books during the Depression? Not my grandparents or great-grandparents--I'm pretty sure of it.  But 176,000 people scraped together money to buy it. Incredible.  But, it's no wonder that this book was so popular during that decade and that people wanted to own it, not just borrow it.

I can't go into it here because it would take so long to describe, but Scarlett lived through the Depression seventy years before it happened.  And she survived it by following all the rules ... ie, by breaking all of the rules.  There are no rules when you have nothing to eat.  She is one of the few people in her community to see this truth for what it is. And yet, one would never describe her as a criminal ... but she's also not very honest either. I can't imagine what kind of an inspiration she was to so many people during the 1930s, especially women.  When Mitchell started writing in 1926, she probably had no idea how different everything would be five or ten years later.  Maybe I am somewhat of a determinist: Her book was so well-timed, but I doubt she purposely set out to write such a "timely" book.  When you read the book and think about its 1930s global audience, however, you realize that there was no better time for her book to appear.  It had to appear during that time.  It had to. Given the current state of things today, I'm a little surprised that there hasn't been a bit of a revival of this story.

But, I won't go there for now.

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