Saturday, August 22, 2009

A pretty regular compliment I receive from kids in my high school English class is "You're the most normal English teacher I've ever had." I have heard "You've inspired me to major in English,"...about four times in...twenty plus years, so it makes sense that I've decided to embrace the first complement. I don't like labels and "normal" is in the eye of the beholder, but I think what they're really saying is that I make them comfortable, which is partially because I'm a part of many of their lives outside of school since we live in the town where I teach.

Even though it's often incredibly frustrating to live in a small, conservative narrow-minded town, I love many aspects of it too. That's probably why I love the play Our Town, except for the end which I think is kind of freaky because I really don't get the sitting in chairs things after you die. (OK, I kind of do; I just don't like it.) You could argue that Thorton Wilder's theme about the "universality of the human experience" isn't so "universal" anymore, but much of it is still my "normal." There are tons of lines that I love from Our Town, but one of my favorite ones is spoken by Mr. Webb, the Grover Corner's newspaper editor. He says, "...there isn't much culture [in Grover's Corner]; but maybe this is the place to tell you that we've got a lot of pleasures of a kind here: we like the sun comin' up over the mountain in the morning, and we all notice a good deal about the birds...and we watch the change of seasons." Living in Central California, you have to watch really closely to see the seasons change a lot of years, but I appreciate the point of this quote. It's why I love gardening, and it's why when I was browsing through an online seed catalog that I had to buy some heliotrope seeds. I remembered a line where Mrs. Gibbs tells her husband, "Come out and smell my heliotrope in the moonlight." I love that idea of just enjoying simple things. Well, I've gone out in the moonlight all summer long waiting for a lovely scent to waft through the air from my heliotrope. It hasn't happened. They're not that pretty either. (They're the purple ones) Maybe I'll go back to trying recipes from food in books I love because the gardening part hasn't worked out too well.

In fact, I really do need to do some experimental cooking because I've spend a lot of money on food-related books this summer. My favorite by far is Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life I knew about her blog Orangette, and I have enjoyed reading it periodically, but the book is wonderful. What could be better than good stories and great recipes? I read it in a couple of sittings. Yes, I am showing off my bookcase again in the first shot and the nice chair rail and dual-tone wall that Russ painted this summer.

Monday, August 10, 2009

No Fair!

My parents moved to Humboldt County in Northern California over twenty years ago, and it's become kind of a second home to my family. We visit every summer and spend our time hiking, searching for shells and rocks on the beach, eating great food, and just enjoying ourselves whenever we're there. We also almost always, go to the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale. This year was the third time we've ever missed the fair. It doesn't begin until August 13, which just happens to be my first day back at work. How sad!
The only thing I don't like about Humboldt County is that along with great organic produce, liberal political leanings, and, of course, a sizable number of yarn shops, is that it has a disproportionate number of scary-looking homeless people. I'm not talking about hippies...I mean SCARY people. Paige and I always laugh at this sign near downtown Arcata. I'm sure it's a joke. ..otherwise no one would come through the front door because Arcata has to be the hippy capitol of the world!There's a really nice fabric shop in Arcata called Fabric Temptations. They also have a fairly extensive range of yarn choices, so I was more than a little embarrassed to walk in there and buy...two skeins of red, white, and blue stripe Sugar and Cream yarn. I don't have anything against Sugar and Cream. It's perfect for knitting dish clothes, and I wanted to knit a flower dish cloth for our dog sitter to line a basket of Northern California goodies I planned to give her. I still had the urge to say, "I'm really one of you. I knit with Manos de Uruguay, Lorna's Laces, and Debbie Bliss. I usually waste hundreds of dollars on quality yarn! I'm not usually so....practical"

Humboldt County beaches aren't the type of beach that you go to if you want to tan, but that also means they aren't usually crowded either. We usually go up to Trinidad for a day and hike around.

We made our perfunctory stop at Schat's Bakery in Ukiah. Kai got a cherry pie.

An additional tradition that we've seemed to be developing is to go to the Ukiah Farmer's Market. They had a wonderful yarn booth there, but I'm way overloaded with unfinished projects, so I refrained from any purchases. I'll plan better next summer.

Paige got a henna tatoo, which was supposed to last three weeks but is pretty much gone now, but it was pretty while it lasted.