January 29, 2010

Street Fight

I shouldn't have been up so late, and furthermore, shouldn't have been staring out my window like the persnickety lady with nothing better to do. But I was guilty on both counts, and so I saw the street fight. It wasn't the same as others. There was no pomp, no trash-talking, no chanting circle. Instead a few people were huddled around a car. At first I thought the car had rolled back on a guy. Then I saw that a man was beating this other guy on the ground, jerking him up to hit his head on the underside of the car, then punching him, then banging his head against the tire. When at last the few people around had started to pull this guy up off the ground, the man stepped back and screamed at the guy on the ground. Then he hauled off and kicked him in the face. So swift, like he was on a movie where he lost his job and then comes home and kicks over a trashcan for dramatic effect. A final blow. I watched the guy’s face split open and my blood ran cold.

Do you know how many people I’ve seen shot, stabbed, hanged and massacred on television? Nothing compares to real life. If you’ve ever witnessed an act of violence, you know. I thought about my husband sleeping in the bed. I thought of my freshly washed dishes. I scurried to the bedroom and burrowed down deep. He doesn’t snore. In fact, he looks so serene I want to pluck out one of his eyelashes. Instead I press his calves with my cold feet. I want to say You will never believe the fight that I just saw! It would only punish both of us at this hour. I make myself think instead of Scarlett O’Hara and Ashley and those big dresses. I see Margaret Mitchell hunched, scribbling furiously, churning out a saga so big, so vast, just words on paper. I want to go into another world altogether and forget that balding bastard who’s just beat a young drunk guy for whatever reason, and then stood, cool as a cucumber. I know he is about to go home to some family and put those same hands on sleeping bodies. Men have done this for ages I know, but tonight, the thought is too much for me. I shudder out loud and tell myself Rhett Butler.

January 6, 2010

Stuff People Make, Part 2

Ok, while I'm on the topic of making stuff, I couldn't resist sharing the awesomeness that is: The LiteBrite. Do you know this experience, coveted by all in the 80's? Do you remember the mind-numbing method of poking trillions of lights into black paper with a satisfying pop? You can imagine the Moment I had in that thrift store when I saw this puppy staring back at me for $3.50. Dustan's mom was with me, visiting at the time. I may or may not have pushed her down on the way to recapturing part of my childhood.

Even had the original box!

Moving on to a creative feat almost as impressive as the stove...I've had this picture in my recipe book for quite some time. We decided to attempt an ice cream cake bombe like this for Dustan's big 30th birthday this past December.

The trick to making one of these things is super simple. Pretend you're 7 years old and your mom just gave you the keys to the car and told you to go get groceries. We came home with a gallon of cookies n' cream ice cream, a half gallon of chocolate ice cream, brownie mix, a pack of Double Stuf Oreos, and two containers of Magic Shell. (Ahhh, Magic Shell. I could pour you over a twig and eat it).

Then you freeze the whole conglomeration. And then...

you party it up.

I also had a birthday in December! This was the absolute worst french toast I've ever had, even if Brahma did get up early to make it, cut it into heart shapes and dust it with powdered sugar. The best part was coming home after work and going downstairs and across the street to Asiana. Reeeeally good Korean food that cancelled out the french toast.

Trail made something this holiday season too. A new friend! Her name is Karma, she's a blue heeler and she is a spastic, frenzied wad of destruction on a leash. She kinda knows the system now, and when our door is open, she runs in and grabs a stuffed animal out of Trail's toy basket and then hops on Trail's bed and stares at her with an open-mouthed perma grin like What?

I guess that about sums up the making of stuff. And as completely messed up as this sounds, I feel like Christmas is finally here. What I mean is - I started working a job that was supposed to last a week at the beginning of December. But that week stretched into another week, and the next thing I know, I'm still working. It was, of course, a huge and timely blessing to have consistent work during this moving transition and the holiday season - but it definitely cramped my Christmas style. I like to have those interminable baking days. The kind that require multiple packages of almond bark and vanilla extract and peppermint sticks. I like to buy my gifts painfully slow. I look at them. I make Dustan look at them. And then I wrap them even slower than I bought them. I position them all nicely around our tree and they sit there for weeks, until I pack them up and drive them to Virginia. This year Christmas totally snuck up on me and there I was on Christmas Eve, painting and re-painting those two. freaking. dots.

We literally piled all our goodies into the car at 4am and drove straight thru the night. I took first shift, blinking back sleep in the middle of construction in Chicago, with salt-covered headlamps in the middle of an ice storm, and then -poof- we had landed in a pile of unwrapped presents on the east coast. Don't get me wrong, it was a total blast and sooo great to be with our families. But now that I'm back and settled in, and a foot of snow is in the forecast and our crock pot is bubbling with yummy goodness - I feel like saying Merry Christmas!

We're keeping our tree up til it's standing naked in a pile of needles.

January 4, 2010

Stuff People Make With Their Hands

I have a friend who used to date this guy and, well, she doesn't date him any more. When it was all finally over, she told me one of the things about him was that he didn't do anything with his hands. And it bothered her more than she knew. I thought it made perfect sense. I never knew I valued this in someone, but I totally do, and life would be totally not as good if I hadn't been surrounded by people who get their hands dirty. One of my grandfathers was a carpenter, the other was a coal miner. I grew up around farmers and a dad who cleaned fish in January. Lots of people are creative, lots of people have good ideas, but few are the people who stand in the cold or get a stiff back or endure scrape after scrape to the knuckle or overlook the blisters to produce something.

Behold 2 of the many snow sculptures that were chiseled out in downtown Racine this December. These people are serious about their dwarves and pigs in sacks and roses and sailors kissing women - in spite of the Wisconsin wind chill.

Here's what I contributed with my own two hands, thanks to the Balkcom family recipes I inherited when I got married. Buckeyes. Seriously worth the 1/8 pound-gained-per-every-bite ratio. (I CANNOT blog without my hyphenated phrases!)

Here's another creation people. My mom has been taking a pottery class at Southwest VA Community College, and I am so proud of her. After her first few classes I asked what did she think? How did it go? She reported several things. One was that the professor should have introduced everyone in the class. Another is that he should have told the class more about himself. Another was that there was a lady who wore so much pink! and didn't I think all that pink was over? And finally there was a girl my age with a mouth so filthy no one wanted to talk to her. (Gah.) Yes, but how about the pottery mom? Oh, she centered her first bowl on her own. Which was actually hugely reportable news because centering is hard to master! Whatevs.

Mom made me this to hang on my door.

And she threw Dustan this little bowl. I really love the glaze.

And here's one of the three pillows my Sis made me for my birthday! She found the felt birds at a lady's Etsy shop who lives in New Zealand. I am obsessed with this pillow.

And just to wrap things up, here is the end result of Dustan's stove project. After Olivia got hers, we decided to make one for our niece Amryn. I throw the "we" pronoun in only because I toiled over the paint and poly job. The real glory is Dustan's.

It might have been Amryn's Christmas present, but that little pink glossy door alongside the gold, and the way the smooth wooden knobs turn from high to low? Alllll for me. Dustan will you make me one?