Thursday, June 19, 2008

Color Play

The last time I wrote, my post got eaten, and I got miffed at the whole thing and refused to come back for a few days. I forgot my old method of copy-paste-post which ensures that, if the web does eat your words for you, they're backed up in a Word doc.

Strangely, my favorite part of today was sending samples. This usually gets tedious, as I've done it every day for the past year, and even more so recently as it seems that more and more customers have lost the faculty of providing their ZIP code, which gives me the opportunity to spend joyless hours hunting them on the USPS website. But today I had a minor variance in the sample request. "Send color combinations that you think would look good."

This doesn't sound exciting at all. It's not. But I had the most fun paper clipping swatches together for this woman. Smoky blue and mocha brown. Subdued bluegrass and snappy green tea. Warm terra cotta and rich burgundy. Color is fun. I started thinking about how I would translate those combinations into house decorating. I could replace white walls with toned-down grey-blue and use dark wood furniture. I could pair deep red walls with terra-cotta toned tile floors. I could do anything but hold on to white walls.

All I have now are white walls. It starts to drive you a little batty after a while. I look up and feel like I'm looking at a blizzard-themed Magic Eye poster, because I can't quite focus on that expanse of white. This is what happens when you live in a beige box-for-rent. I won't go into the lack of land and how that makes me twitch. Not today.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Red wine and Gouda

Again with the rain today. There were two waves of it, one thin strand that barely blotted out the sunlight this morning, and a wide swath that interupted the afternoon. Even though it feels like the wind might rip away the roof of the pole barn, I like how it beats the rain against the windows. It makes the place feel cozy. It also tries to take the power out. I should be more upset about this, because without power we can't function, but I look on it a little bit like a child anticipating a snow day. Yes, I'll have to make up the work later, but there is something deliciously thrilling about an unplanned reprieve.

Of course the power didn't go out, and I had to spend the afternoon wrestling with reconciling the bank accounts and juggling customers on the phone. It's after days like this that any creative impulse I may have had is completely silenced and I could stare at a blank page or a length of fabric and have no idea what to do with either. It's a red wine and smoked Gouda kind of evening. (This combination can be enhanced only by the addition of dark chocolate. I'm out right now. But when I buy more it's going to be Lake Champlain organic. I don't know why, but that stuff is like sex in chocolate form.) I think I'll get myself some Cab now.

Note: I couldn't shake the suspicion that it was a load of horse hockey, but those wineglass shapes really do matter. I've been drinking my reds out of a balloon glass lately and have really noticed a difference...so if you want to impress your dinner guests, pair the wine with dinner and then pair the glass to the wine. If you're into that kind of thing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Road Hazards

I have to resist the impulse to pull over and move every box turtle I see in the middle of the road. Given that I work in a pole barn in the middle of nowhere, and take ten miles of winding country road to get to work every day, this has become a regular occurence. Box turtles move faster than some turtles; compared to a large snapping turtle in the road they can really book. But their average speed still tops out somewhere between slow and roadkilled. So I find myself wanting to rescue every one of them. The one we passed today was particularly difficult to ignore, as his little rubbery neck was stretched out as high as he could manage, and he was looking around intently as though he had missed something. He had. It was my coworker's blue Prius skipping by him.

Apparently, box turtle mating season begins in late spring. This fact explains the sudden exodus of the box turtle from the safety of underbrush to the danger of the highway. In researching box turtle mating habits (I was bored), I came across this quote: Box turtles are extremely long lived, slow to mature, and have relatively few offspring per year. These characteristics, along with a propensity to get hit by cars, make the box turtle a species particularly susceptible to human-induced problems.

And now I feel guilty for ignoring the plight of the box turtle. But not as guilty as the person who posted photos of her box turtles mating should feel. Even stupid reptiles deserve a few moments (and in the case of the box turtle, apparently several hours) of genuine privacy. Plus, how weird would it be to perch beside your box turtles' enclosure with a camera while the two of them went at it? Slowly?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Ninety-Five and counting

It's hot. Spring is officially over in Bloomington, and summer has settled in. I think that Bloomington must be located in some bowl-shaped geographic oddity, which allows summer in but will not allow it to leave. In northern Indiana, where I grew up, storms brought a reprieve from the worst of summer heat and humidity. Not so in Bloomington. It storms and then immediately steam-cooks.

At least most of my plants have survived so far. They've made it a week. I consider this an accomplishment, especially as, with only a patio to grow my garden, I only have four terra cotta pots. I chose terra cotta because it is supposedly breathable like soil, and because I can't get over how tacky plastic planters look. You need about five gallons of soil to grow tomatoes, so I have one large pot for those, planted with a variety designed for potting gardens. Then I have a pot each of basil and rosemary. The basil is thriving, while the rosemary looks a little stunted. I attribute this to the fact that basil loves water, rosemary does not, and we've had nothing but storms for the past week. Storms followed, of course, by steam-baths.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Spinach Muse

In considering what to make for dinner, I found a bag of spinach. This is a regular occurence; I make spinach a lot.

*Sauté a couple cloves of minced garlic in olive oil
*Add white wine (I prefer a crisp Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc) and reduce somewhat
*Dump in a few handfuls (hands full, it cooks down a lot) and stir until wilted (if you've never seen spinach wilt, it's a very distinct look. Hard to miss. Stop cooking once it's wilted, or it starts to attain that overdone, regurgitated mash taste).
*Season with salt and pepper
*Liberally sprinkle with (preferably good shaved) Parmesan (but cheapo generic works, too).

This time, I was reminded of finding another spinach in another fridge almost a year and half ago. My roommate at the time wanted to create a really stupendous birthday meal for one of our other roommates. She went for crepes filled with spinach and shrimp, which wasn't bad at the first go (though I hate crepes). But then it made its way into a Glad container. Worse, it went to the back of the fridge. The fourth roommate and I found it two weeks later. You could smell it across the house as we opened it and deposited it into the trash. The hideousness of that stench overpowered even my frugality, and the Glad container followed the mess into the bin.

This is why I don't really believe in the concept of leftovers. They're like physical good intentions. You put the leftover lasagna into a container planning to come back to it the next day. But the next day it hasn't been long enough since you had lasagna, and you choose to eat something new and not in the pasta family, and so you put it off another day, which is fine. Or would be, if you didn't forget about it. Which you do, until three weeks later when you find it molding in a now health-hazordous container. The road to hell is paved with leftovers.

I mentioned that I hate crepes. I do. It's not for lack of trying, and after taking eight years of French, I really would love to have a refined taste for a good crepe. The same roommate who made the spinach and shrimp crepes later tried to convince me to go to a local crepe restaurant with her, and I declined, saying I wasn't so fond of crepes (and, though I didn't tell her, it was still too close to the Glad container incident for crepes to sound remotely appealing). That I found them a spongy and listeless food. She assured me that if I had enough good crepes, like hers, I would like them. I didn't have the heart to tell her that her crepes were like a gastronomic thesis on why I don't like crepes. I've accepted that I am unrefined when it comes to crepes. There are worse places to lack refinement.