Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Where It is Always Winter and Never Christmas...Yet

Being that this is my first residence in a cold and snowy climate, I tend to wobble back and forth between thinking this weather is punishment from god and feeling that it is mildly and charmingly exotic.

Our heat went out over the night, and we woke this morning to a house of cold we couldn't do anything about. Dominic brought some wood home for a fire during his lunch break, and now I'm cozy in front of the fireplace with a cat, a cup of green tea, Isak Dinesen, and C.S. Lewis. We are, all of us, waiting patiently for the heating guy to come and magically restore our house with warmth. But for now--to this Alabama girl, at least--the fire seems a bit magical, and I haven't grown tired of waiting just yet.

Incidentally, green tea isn't the disgusting, potent, bitter brew I seemed to have been expecting it to be. Instead, it is a milder, more mellow version of the black stuff. Hmmm.

Here's a funny quote from Out of Africa: "A medal is an inconvenient thing to give to a naked man, because he has got no place to fix it on to..."

Monday, November 28, 2005

Movie Geek

Recently, Dominic and I went to see Pride and Prejudice (which is, incidentally, the only Austen I've read) and though I found the movie to be overall very charming and satisfactory, I nonetheless amused myself by wondering how many of the people who were in the theater with me were aware that, really, this movie is the stuff of suspense thrillers.

Okay, we've got a late 18th century setting. Women cannot own property. And we have a housefull of them--the Bennets--who's only hope in the face of immediate eviction and destitution once the patriarch--Mr. Bennet--dies is the successful marriage of Jane, the eldest, to one Mr. Bingley, receiver of 5,000 a year, prospective savior to the Bennet ladies. Of course, this being a novel (adapted to a movie), there are twists and turns, and really it is Elizabeth who is the main character and whom the action centers around, but my main point remains the same, and that is, if this movie had aired to 18th century sensibilities, the women in the audience would be much less concerned with how brooding and dashing Mr. Darcy is and much more concerned with the suspense garnered as each of the three older sisters finally achieve successful (more or less) husbands. Also, it's funny to us when Elizabeth rejects Mr. Collin's offer of marriage in a flurry of indignant horror, but to her family, to her mother, this rejection is the ultimate act of selfishness on behalf of Elizabeth. At this point in the film, Mr. Collin represents the only hope for salvation for the Bennet women. Elizabeth does well by her character to reject the offer, and all, of course, resolves itself, but DANG, woman, you almost let your sisters and your mother die in the POOR HOUSE, probably from black lung or TB. Thank god Mr. Darcy turned out to be of admiral character, plus he's rich. Score for you, Lizzie. Now please try not to be upset when the snotty English society ladies refuse to be anything but coldly, mockingly cordial to you because of your inferior birth FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.

Ah, to have lived almost 200 years ago. The clothing was so charming!

Okay, and now for an embarrassing confession: Before P&P began, I saw the new Chronicles of Narnia trailer for the first time on a theater screen, and it made me cry. IT MADE ME CRY. That's how excited I am about this movie. That's what this movie has to prove and to live up to-- THE TEARS OF MY ABSOLUTE EXCITEMENT AND LOVE AND EVERLASTING ADORATION FOR THE INSTITUTION OF C.S. LEWIS'S CLASSIC MASTERPIECE AND ALL THE DEPTH AND BREADTH OF IMAGINATION AND WONDER THUS INSPIRED INTO THE CHILDHOOD WORKING'S OF MY SO EASILY MOLDED MIND. That's all.

Also, I told Dominic I wanted to host a theme party beforehand, complete with Turkish Delight, and then dress up like Queen Susan, the archer, for the movie.

This, folks, is what he married.

P.S. Dominic made up a funny drinking game to go with P&P. Anytime someone says, Mr. Dahhhsy, take a drink.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Flood and Loathing

Friday, November 25, 2005


Turkeys: 2
Casseroles: 4
Jello salad: 1
Pans of giblet gravy: 1
Bowls of mashed potatoes: 1
Loaves of pumpkin bread: 2
Homemade pies: 2
Cans of jellied cranberry sauce: 2 (and, yes, we are classy like that)
Number in attendance: 9
Cranky cats: 1

Once more, Dominic and I have cooked like cooking fools. This is our second Thanksgiving entertaining coworkers of his that have no way home for the holidays, and I have officially dubbed the affair The Gaskin Thanksgiving Extravaganza. Next year there will be banners! And Flamenco dancers!

Seriously though, we know we have a lot to be thankful for. Every Thanksgiving we've spent together we've been thankful, but this one in particular comes at a very charmed time in our lives. I say this now, full from turkey and apple pie leftovers, freshly back from a neighborhood coffee house with espresso so good it's like shoving a needle in your arm and shooting up sugar and caffeine, and waiting on a friend who's going to drive us downtown to the warm and friendly bars there.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Ever the Pious Pilgrim

Hey, guess what's coming up? That's right, Thanksgiving, my favorite of all holidays. It's the day my ancestors descend upon me swathed in a stern and purified light to hand me a free ticket to eat myself into a coma. Righteousness!

I would write a post about how much I like this holiday, but I'm a working girl now, and I don't have time. So instead, read this from last year.

Meanwhile I'll be working, hanging pictures in our newly painted study, painting on canvases (ooh, scary), writing a grocery list, pre-cooking, and doing dishes that have been in the sink since a week ago (oh no, I just didn't admit that).

Also, last year the Monkey Butt wore a costume. No word yet on whether she'll be dressed patriotically this year.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Car Conversation

Kate: Hey, look. There's another Presbyterian church. There seem to be quite a few around here.
Dominic: Maybe they're trying to take over the world!
Kate: Maybe. It could be worse, though. It could be Baptists trying to take over the world. Southern ones. Hey, remember that time Catholics tried to take over the world?
Dominic: That time they killed a whole bunch of people?
Kate: Yeah.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Being Serious...Kind of

Driving to the grocery store today to pick up ingredients for minestrone tonight (oh, the cooking, it never ends) I crested a hill and came upon the large city graveyard two blocks from our house. It was blanketed in snow, and I know, I know what snow looks like. I even know what accumulated snow looks like, snow that covers lawns and rooftops and the tops of cars, snow lining bare branches, snow disappearing into the dirty muck of the streets. I know what that kind of snow looks like. But I've never seen a graveyard of snow. And the sight was something beautifully desolate, something indescribable, an inexplicable sadness that comes upon you as you realize you're seeing something for the first time, something you never even knew to look for. I felt sad or lonely. I'm not sure which.

I had a man call out to me in the grocery store when I first walked in. "Whatever you're doing, it's working," he said, and I couldn't figure out if that was a comment on my looks in general (if so, thank you) or if this man was some sort of physical realization, sent to me from my psyche, of what I know internally to be true. I have been happy lately.

Wherein I Honestly Reconsider My Vocation and Pretend I Could Be a Pastry Chef

I made a quiche a couple of days ago. What was so significant about this quiche--other than it was the first quiche I'd ever made--was that it was also the first time I'd ever made a pastry from scratch.

Behold the pastry!

I had to take a picture of it unbaked in case it fell apart during the baking process because, you know, pastry making seems complicated if you've never done it before and if you don't own a food processor expensive enough to do it for you. But, oh no sir! I will never let anything so insignificant as inexperience come between me and delicious baked goods. Really, I was born to make pastry. Now imagine doing jazz hands as you say it: I was born to make pastry! See, wasn't that fun?

Also, here's the finished project. Didn't I do a good job?

I would pat myself on the back, but, honestly, you know that perfectly flaky crust had to have been a fluke. I am, after all, the woman who once exploded a plate and set a kitchen on fire while trying to cook General Tso's chicken.

Cooking General Tso's chicken sounds like a euphemism. But it's not.

Other cooking successes as of late: olive and feta stuffed chicken breasts, spinach salad, and a wonderfully cheesy layered zucchini bake.

Misses: New England clam chowder that had the consistency of chunky puke.

And the petty escapades and antics of the Gaskin household never fail not to amuse...once again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

These shoes are cute, right? Dominic, you were wrong.

Okay, so I bought these boots today (middle color) and Dominic was like, are you sure you want those boots, and I was like, yes, they're awesome (ladies, back me up here) and Dominic was like, you only like them because they look like those boots with the tassels on them you used to wear when you were a majorette in high school, and I was like, YES, YOU'RE RIGHT.

But I also like my new boots because they have ATTITUDE, and I live in Nebraska now, so I can justify buying boots, because, hello, it's cold here. We also bought a snow shovel at the local Lowe's today, and I found myself wondering, What fresh hell have I found myself in?, much like our little kitty cat did when we tossed her Mexican carcass out the back door yesterday into the accumulating snow.

Anyway, I probably found myself a job today at a bookstore. The pay is for crap, but I only have to work mornings, so that will mesh well with my school schedule once that starts up. I have to go for another interview with the manager on Friday, but I'm pretty sure that's the time for me to fill out information for W-3's and whatnot. Dominic scolded me gently last night about finding a "real" job, and I said, "Oh my god, are you my parents?" but he's right, and I suppose I have been a bit of an underachiever lately. Once, I'm back in school, however, you guys won't be able to get on to me anymore because I'll be a Student in Pursuit of Higher Learning, and isn't that supposed to admirable or noble or something? That's right, ha. I'll be noble.

But I'll be working soon, and for now that's good enough.

Also, today I drove to the interview, and the roads were slightly icy, and oh goodness, really, where I have I found myself? Oz in winter? Narnia during the reign of the White Witch? The snow, it's still on the ground. It didn't melt--BECAUSE IT'S STILL COLD OUTSIDE.

My little Southern mind. Officially blown.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Mexican Kitty In Cold and Snowy Places...

" What fresh Hell is this? Kitty leashes and snow? You have gone too far sir! "

I'm sure this is what the cat was thinking as I fired her out the door to experience snow firsthand, and yes I realize I am a crazy cat person because I narrate my cat's life in my head. What I think she's saying in her head is pretty funny in mine so I'm going to keep doing it.

Anyways we had our first snow today and everybody had firsts. Kate had her first all day snow, the cat was subjected to snow for the first time, and I walked to our neighborhood grocery in the snow for the first time. Of course, all these things put together are pretty cheesy, but I didn't work today and so Kate and I had our first official snow day. That's pretty awesome. Unfortunately, we had no wood for the fireplace or furniture in the study to sit by the fireplace. What we did have was a need to paint the dining room a cranberry red. It's going to take more than two coats for sure.

Anyways, I'm certain Kate will have more to say as she has had a busy day herself working on what I'm sure is a delicious quiche and salad for dinner, also everyone she knows in Alabama called her today. That's not true, I'm exaggerating but she did get a lot of calls!

Friday, November 11, 2005

Really, this post doesn't make any sense. Consider yourself warned.

Hey, look at what we found beneath the wallpaper in our dining room. More wallpaper!

Take a closer look. Wow, that stuff is old. And cool--but wait, something's off here. Oh yes, that's right. This crap is IMPOSSIBLE TO REMOVE. Soooo...

Wow, look at Dominic use that heavy iron steamer. You probably can't tell just by looking at this picture that it took us only two days, a million curses, and the unveiling of what was probably aqua colored lead based paint, before we finally had wallpaper-free walls. But, heck, I ain't complaining. If anything I'm toasting; I'm saying, Cheers to you unwieldly wallpaper and lead based paint! Cheers to you home ownership!

In other things, we had a barbeque today that involved people from Dominic's work, spinach and artichoke dip, and our first rack of ribs since leaving Alabama. Last night we walked to a bar. AGAIN. It never gets old, this being able to walk to places that serve frosty cold beer, AND THEN WALK HOME AGAIN and Dominic doesn't have to drive (because it's a well known fact I don't DD ((not that I drunk drive either, god forbid; I've just mostly made Dominic drive in the past because that's what he got a sports car for and he can be a DD if he wants to drive it because I'm not driving it, and this sentence has officially descended into a convoluted mess so I'm ending it now))).


In other, other things, I didn't get the job with Kaplan, and that sucked. This was only the second time I've ever been turned down for a job, but this was my first time trying to get hired by being educationally qualified, which, for this job, I apparently wasn't.

So, the job search does go on, and yuck, yuck, yuck. I have another application pending somewhere, and blah, blah, blah. Really, I just want to get back in school, but I really need to make money to do that effectively, and even after I finally get my MA, I'll still have to find a job, and then Dominic and I will move again, AND I'LL HAVE TO FIND A JOB, and oh my god, the road of self pity this has suddenly taken me down.

Oh well. I'll get hired somewhere somehow soon enough, and until then--I'LL PAINT! Orange walls, red walls, yellow walls, green walls--and a beige wall? A BEIGE WALL!

Lately, my life has been a lot of fun.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Homeownership Agrees With Me...

Well, after thirty years of living I have finally found that I like owning a house. Granted, so far nothing has erupted into flame or been submerged underwater like my friend Dale's house( We've been busy ripping down down wallpaper, painting walls, and raking leaves like there's no tomorrow. And even though I filled seven giant lawn bags without finishing my front yard, and then the smaller tree that was holding on to it's leaves promptly decided to release them after I finished raking for the day. That was a slap in the face that I will not soon forget tree...
In other news Kate and I will be hosting our first barbecue on Saturday. It's been nice having a little time to get the house together before we try and have people over. in reality there are a million projects that I want to get done. Of course the house has made it eighty years without them so they're not mandatory. Still, I can hardly wait to drill my forst hole in ahouse that has been around longer than anyone I know. Also, home ownership means I need more power tools. That's a good thing. Power tools are a lot of fun.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Pinch Me

Dominic and I woke up this morning and walked the color-turned, tree-lined street of our neighborhood three blocks down to a locally owned coffee shop. Bliss. Heaven.

Everything is still messy and chaotic in our house, but our stuff is gradually being put away. I'm working on it steadily until Dominic gets home from work. After that I made him promise to go for a run with me.

I just emailed the director of English graduate studies at UNO to see about setting up a meeting sometime.

I can't wait to begin cooking in our new house--soups, roasts, pies, casseroles.

Hey, life is fine.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Locked out of the house--it only took me three days

Today, Dominic and I got our first taste of When Home Ownership Goes Wrong when, after I returned from the Most Scenic Run Ever, I found that my key, which had locked the door when I left the house, would not in fact unlock the door to let me back in. Dominic had gone to work earlier to check in and I had no idea when he was coming back and no way to contact him to let him know my house key was suddenly and inexplicably worthless. Luckily, we had a very warm day today, so I was only slightly cold, but by the time Dominic pulled up to our house a half an hour later, I'd worked myself into such a frenzy that I cried for two hours. Even after the locksmith had come to replace our broken lock and was gone, I was still blubbering. Only then I was officially blubbering because of my job "audition" with Kaplan--which happened later this evening--because I was scared and I didn't want to practice my presentation and it wasn't fair that I had to do this now with our house such a mess still and I hated everything and life sucked.

Well, I got over that mood, and thank god because I don't know how Dominic refrained himself from opening up a window on the second story of our house and pitching me out of it. I even knew how annoyingly melodramatic I was being, but I couldn't stop myself. I just cried and cried and cried about how our lock to the front door worked one moment and then turned against us the next. Stupid lock. Stupid, stupid lock.

But the job audition with Kaplan went well enough. I won't know if it went well enough for me to be hired until a few days, but it would be nice if I got the job. I'm trying not to get my hopes up. It would seem too easy for me to get a job--just like that--after months of self-inflicted unemployment. Blah, blah, jobs, blah, being a productive part of society again, blah, seeing my name on a check for the first time in 8 months, blah.

Our house is being slowly unpacked, but right now it still feels like we live in a fun house, only not one that's actually too fun but one that's scary and annoying and filled with a lot of boxes and randomly placed crap and you keep tripping over everything and loosing your keys and your cell phone and crying about house keys that suddenly refuse to work and job auditions--that kind of fun house.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Place Called Home

All right, so six days, five states, and one brand spanking new home later, we're reporting to you from Omaha, Nebraska, home of cornfields, cows, and a lot of white people. Dominic and I have been moved into our house since Halloween day, but the movers came with our stuff early this morning. And when I say movers, I mean mover. The guy driving the truck told us he'd have to pick up additional men in Missouri to help with the move and that would delay us getting our stuff until tomorrow, so Dominic sucked it up and told him to come straight here and he'd help. I had a hard time too, for sure--what with all the standing around and watching I did and moving my hand every five minutes or so to check things off the inventory. Wow, it was rough.

Now we've got a house full of boxes, but our computer's unpacked. As soon as the mover left Dominic said, "QUICK WE MUST FIND THE COMPUTER," and there was much frenzy of box opening and packaging paper tossing and we almost couldn't find the power strip, but lo it appeared to us swathed in shining light and we had internet once more. Once we actually get our stuff unpacked our house is going to look quite empty again. We have a couch, a table, a computer, and a bedroom set. It filled up a two bedroom apartment, but it won't go far in this two story house built for a family. No fear, though, Dominic and I have discovered the wonder that is Nebraska Furniture Mart, and we already have a good idea about which armoire and computer desk we want. Beyond that, we can't afford to buy much more furniture right now. Guests will have to sit on the floor. Pity.

Let's see, what else--oh yeah, I want to paint our foyer and stairwell two shades of orange, one of which is very bright, and DOMINIC IS ACTUALLY LETTING ME. We live in the coolest neighborhood ever (we have a chinese and pizza place and a corner grocery two blocks away--do you?) And I haven't had a shower going on three days now. I bet you didn't want to know that, but I told you anyway, SO SUCK IT UP!

More to come...