Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oldies but goodies

[Disclaimer: besides actually wanting to write about the subject addressed below, this post is also the result of A) being burned out after a long day and needing a break and B) my need to push that awful tomato worm picture further down the page. Every time I see it, I cringe a bit. Why in the world did I put it up there? And yeah, I know I can take it down, but that seems dishonest or something.]

Okay, so I know I've posted about this topic before (a long time ago), but sometimes I get real satisfaction out of reading old (and sometimes really old) criticism of a work. As I work on this year's SAMLA paper--about Hawthorne's The Marble Faun and Constance Fenimore Woolson's "Miss Grief"--I am working my way through the relevant sections of J. Donald Crowley's Hawthorne: The Critical Heritage. For those outside English studies, these "critical heritage" books are great resources--basically anthologies of criticism/reviews of a major writer's texts. A couple of gems from James Russell Lowell's April 1860 review of The Marble Faun in The Atlantic Monthly:

"Had he been born without the poetic imagination, [Hawthorne] would have written treatises on the Origin of Evil." (This one makes me laugh because it's pretty darn funny and because Hawthorne already kind of does write about the "Origin of Evil.")

One more: "If you had picked up and read a stray leaf of it anywhere, you would have exclaimed, 'Hawthorne!'" I'm not quite sure what I think of The Marble Faun. It's took me two tries to really get into it and even now, it's not what you would call "fun" reading. And in lots of ways, it's very different from Hawthorne's other books. But, like Lowell says, read any page, and there's no denying it's all Hawthorne.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

More garden drama...

So today I found one of these in my tomatoes.

If you haven't seen one of these before, they are HUGE (like 3 inches long and the thickness of a cigar) and totally "ick!"-provoking. When I killed it, a substance that looked like lime jello gushed out. It was like something from a science fiction movie. Ugh. Ick. Gross.

Here's a helpful informative Youtube about the little buggers:

(The bit about the parasitic wasps is both cool and absolutely disgusting.)

I had a long conversation with my friend Vogel today about how I might not be cut out for this veggie gardening thing. (Flowers, shrubs, etc. I am pretty darn good at...) I am just too emotional and the constant vigilance is a bit wearying. It's like, just when you think you've handled one crisis (squash borers, for instance, or deer nibbling on the leaves, or collapsing tomato plants, or drought-like conditions that have been here all summer), you find a HUGE FREAKIN' WORM THAT SHOOTS BRIGHT GREEN LIQUID AND HAS A RED HORN ON ITS BUTT! (Sorry but the all-caps seem necessary here.)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Quick gardening tip...

When out in the veggie garden and in need of a free hand, don't (even temporarily) put a tomato in your pocket. If you get even the least bit distracted, it might not end well for the tomato--or your shorts.

Generation gaps and stuff...

I had to put a parental block on my phone...to protect me from myself.

I had a mysterious $9.99 charge on my cell phone bill this month...for something called "Jamster." I have no idea what that is and definitely didn't intend to buy/subscribe to it. So I called customer service, told the very helpful woman on the other end of the line that I had no idea what Jamster is, and she canceled the subscription and credited my account. How cool is that?

The best I can figure is that my phone, which I keep in my work bag and which occasionally turns itself on, must be the culprit. There have been times that I take it out of my bag and find that it has gone online or something. (See, I don't even know the terminology!) The customer service rep explained, "Well usually you have to confirm those kinds of purchases on the phone's screen." I am sure she was right--I just happened to be unfortunate enough to have the random moves and jostling of my bag click "confirm" before I realized the darn thing was even turned on.

I confessed to the customer service rep that it was probably (although indirectly) something that I did, but she still credited my account. That made me happy. Go AT&T wireless!

Then, to prevent it from happening again, she put that parental control block on the phone so that I can't purchase anything over the phone. So I am all protected...from myself.

I am so not part of the texting generation. (But that doesn't mean I don't still covet an iPhone.)

Speaking of generation gaps, I posted this link on Facebook this morning and it's gotten tons of responses, so it must have touched a nerve. My initial reactions: the Buffy reference (#6) is a weird one--why refer to the movie, not the show? Also, #4 made me laugh out loud, #19 is kind of poetic, #32 is just weird, #46 is cringe-inducing, and #49 is all kinds of awesome.

About the Buffy movie thing, I get that it's probably included because the movie came out in 1992, the same year most of these freshman were born (!), but the movie references (Hemery High and Lothos) are pretty obscure compared to the show's references.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Day One...

Well, the first day of classes is nearly over. I've just got the weekly Sigma Tau Delta meeting at five, and then I think I'll head home. I normally stay later on a Monday, but I've got a bit of a headache and am pretty tired. First days will do that to ya.

I do wish I felt a little more excited for this semester. Not sure why I'm not. Maybe that will come. I am excited about my ENGL 377 course. I think this one will be fun.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Sad news from the garden...

Well folks, it's all over for the once-thriving and ultra-prolific zuchinni and never-quite-took-off yellow squash. The amateur gardener in me was no match for the one-two punch of squash bugs and squash borers. Both are incredibly ugly little buggers--enough to make one's skin crawl.

Interestingly, this is bugging (ha!) me more than I thought it would. Kind of depressing to watch something you were once so excited about just wilt away and die. I am not sure if I'll try growing these specific vegetables again next year. Maybe at least the zuchinni, because I love it so much.

On a happier note, the tomatoes are still thriving, the peppers are still (slowly) producing, and that last cucumber plant is hanging on.

Hitchens on his cancer...

I really respect this guy, and have for years, and this piece is well worth watching. And this one is well worth reading.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Homemade Tomato Sauce...

Since I am up to my elbows in tomatoes, I took a stab at making sauce from scratch. I used this recipe as a base. I made just a few modifications, but more or less stuck to it. At the end of the four hours of simmering, I thought it was still too watery, so I added more tomato paste and then pureed the whole batch in the blender. Overall, it was pretty good, but a bit bland. I'll have to think of how to spice it up a bit next time. More garlic, more pepper...

For tonight, I made some homemade meatballs, too. I have enough meatballs and sauce leftover for about three more meals. And I also froze two quart-sized bags of just the plain sauce. So all in all, a good first endeavor! Maybe I should try pizza sauce next...

Lisa Simpson's Wedding Day...

Remember when August 1, 2010 was way in the future?