Thursday, October 30, 2008

Outside My Office Window...

...I can see hayfields. Autumn has definitely arrived here in New York State, but winter is knocking on the door - loudly. On Tuesday night, October 28th, we had snow!! It is gone now and the days are alternating between what feels like frigid to me (32-33 degrees) to something more "comfortable" (55-60 degrees). Seems to be harder for my body to become acclimated these days.

Can't think about moving though. The changes in the season, in the weather, that's what make this one of the most beautiful spots in the country. A few days previous we had a sun shower over a corn field that had just been chopped. A few raindrops hit my lens, but I think you'll get the idea.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pear-Ginger Crisp

You know I like to cook; particularly this time of year. When the days get short and cool you’ll find me in my kitchen, canning, creating, trying new recipes. When autumn’s in the air I always like to cook with apples: apple pie, apple sauce, apple crisp. While we have a lot of apples here in New England in the fall, I’ve always eyed the pears and wondered what I could do with them. Then, thanks to Rural Intelligence I discovered this recipe for Pear-Ginger Crisp. The texture is definitely different than apples but the flavors are delicious and the aroma when it is cooking is fantastic.

If you have friends that are allergic or don’t care for nuts substitute quick oats in the topping, and make sure you use a hard baking pear, such as Bosch or Red Anjou.

Pear and Ginger Crisp

Courtesy of Bobby Flay by way of Rural Intelligence

serves 10-12

3/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped

1-1/2 cups all purpose unbleached flour

3/4 cup brown sugar

5 T sugar

pinch cinnamon

pinch kosher salt

9 T unsalted butter, room temperature (softened)

2 T fresh ginger, peeled and grated--about a four inch long piece, give or take

juice of 2 lemons

10 medium pears, peeled, cored and cut lengthwise into 1/2 inch slices

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Make topping: toast pecans in a small sauté pan over medium heat until they become fragrant--just a few minutes. Don't let them burn! Mix flour, brown sugar, 2 T sugar, the cinnamon, and salt together in a small bowl. Using a spoon, slowly stir in butter--the mixture will be crumbly and bumpy--and then stir in pecans.

In another larger bowl, gently stir together ginger, lemon juice, 3 T sugar, another pinch of salt and the sliced pears. Turn the fruit into a baking dish, and cover with the topping mixture. Bake until topping is crisp, about 50 minutes.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I just finished reading “Wise Blood”, a novel written by Flannery O’Connor. I found it disturbing and fascinating. This was the first time I’ve read any of O’Connor’s work and so I chose to read her first novel. I found its form to be stark, direct, simplistic, its content dark and disturbing. I am entirely intrigued by her style and content and look forward to reading her short stories.

Flannery O'Connor was the only child of Edward F. O'Connor and Regina Cline O’Connor. Born in Savannah, GA in 1925 she attended Peabody High School and Georgia State College for Women (now Georgia College and State University). She majored in English and Sociology. In 1949 O'Connor met and eventually accepted an invitation to stay with Robert Fitzgerald, a translator of Greek plays and epic poems and a respected poet in his own right, and his wife, Sally, in Redding, Connecticut. In 1951 she was diagnosed with lupus, and subsequently returned to her ancestral farm, known as Andalusia, in Milledgeville, GA where she died at the age of 39 years on August 3, 1964.

“Wise Blood” is written in the Southern Gothic genre. Southern Gothic is a subgenre of the Gothic writing style, unique to American literature. Like its parent genre, it relies on supernatural, ironic, or unusual events to guide the plot. Unlike the Gothic writing style, Southern Gothic uses these tools not for the sake of suspense, but to explore social issues and reveal the cultural character of the American South. This genre of writing is seen in the work of many celebrated Southern writers such as: William Faulkner, Erskine Caldwell, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Cormac McCarthy and Katherine Ann Porter among many others.

I am particularly interested in the short story which has become less popular in our times. “Wise Blood” began with four chapters published in Mademoiselle, Sewanee Review, and Partisan Review in 1948 and 1949. O'Connor then published it as a complete novel in 1952, and the publisher, Signet, advertised it as "A Searching Novel of Sin and Redemption."

According to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “Flannery O'Connor was a Roman Catholic living in the American South, and her fictions consistently illustrate not merely religious, but theological points of view. By the time of “Wise Blood”, O'Connor was herself diagnosed with lupus and was receiving treatment with hydrocortisone therapy at Emory University hospitals in Atlanta.”

After her first major attack of lupus in 1950, she had been forced to return home to live with her mother on the family farm. O'Connor's father had died of lupus, leaving her with no illusions about the outcome. Having previously lived in Iowa and in and around New York City, she found her mother's company and the general area of Milledgeville to be difficult. The smart-aleck child coming home, and resentment of mother figures and parents in general, permeates all of O'Connor's fiction, and “Wise Blood” is true to this context.

In this novel, O'Connor explores her recurring concept of an alienated young person returning home coupled with the theme of the struggle of the individual to understand Christianity. O'Connor's hero, a young man named Hazel Motes, sneers at communal and social experiences of Christianity. Having returned from serving in the Army Hazel is travelling by train to the fictional city of Taulkinham having just discovered that his family home has been abandoned. His grandfather was a tent revival preacher, and Hazel is told repeatedly that he "looks like a preacher," though he despises preachers.

An interesting cast of characters follows including Miss Leora Watts, Enoch Emery, and a blind preacher, Asa Hawks, and his young daughter, Sabbath Lily Hawks. Leora Watts is a prostitute, Enoch Emery is attracted to Hazel's new "Church Without Christ" and believes himself to have wise blood, Asa Hawks is a blind preacher who is not blind, and Sabbath Lily has a wild side and has fixated on having Hazel for her own.

Hazel Motes tries desperately to find freedom from his conscience by choosing to ignore his belief in God. He believes that if he eliminates morality from his life, he can avoid Jesus. The cast of characters in Wise Blood are frequently deceptive, chronically unkind, and brutally violent. “Wise Blood” is a spiritually empty, morally blind, cold, hostile place. Over the years, critics have often referred to Flannery 0' Connor's first novel as dark and grotesque.

In 1979 “Wise Blood” was made into a movie. According to Rotten Tomatoes “from the "The Maltese Falcon" to the "The Dead," filmmaker John Huston created provocative adaptations of stories and novels -- and "Wise Blood" is considered to be among his most daring.”

Words for Thought

Some people try to turn back their odometers. They want to look younger, erase the "wrinkles" of time. Sometimes I go there and dream of plastic surgury, wish I didn't sit in an office chair all day long, believe I should look like the photos in a magazine, but mostly not.

I want people to know I look the way I do (which, by the way isn't that old or wrinkled, but I know it's coming...just a matter of time). It's because I've traveled a long and winding way and some of the roads weren't paved.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

And So They Dance......

I was raised to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. I learned from my grandmother, Margery, who was born in 1915 and lived through the Great Depression, to reuse tin foil, eat everything on my plate, compost your leftovers and so much more. That was why I was excited to find out about Gazelle.

Gazelle wants to, in their own words, “change the world – one cell phone, one laptop, one iPod at a time.” They promise to provide a practical, rewarding way for people to finally rid themselves of all those old electronics, everything from cell phones to digital cameras, and gaming systems, iPods, anything that you no longer use. Now you can recycle them and sometimes get paid.

Gazelle believes that too often when people think of recycling, they rush straight to smashing things into bits for parts. Instead Gazelle offers a way to reuse first. If your GPS unit, your old mobile phone, what have you, still works, why not keep it in circulation AND get paid for it? If reusing isn’t in the cards, then Gazelle can recycle that vintage camcorder. They call it Re-Commerce.

Like they say, “Yeah, we’re green. Green for you with dollars in your pocket; green for the environment with fewer electronics being trashed.”

Another great website for recycling, with the possibility of getting paid, is Cell For Cash. On this website you follow three easy steps and you can get paid to send them your old cell phone. If your phone is ineligible for payment for some reason, they will allow you to print out a label for mailing your phone to them for recycling. They pay the postage fee. Visit today.

Think Globally, Act Locally.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Well, I have “Put By” my own tomatoes; Marinara Sauce, Green Tomato Chutney, some Whole Tomatoes. But I’m not going to talk about it too much. Why, you might ask? Well I think a picture is worth a thousand words and my camera isn’t working. If something suddenly changes I’ll be sharing with you. Until then onto something a bit more interesting, I hope.

More interesting to me is 100 Words. You can link to their website by clicking on “100 Words” under the Campville Preferred websites to the left of this blog.

I like this site for three reasons, 1 - because it is for writers who need a challenge and some discipline; 2 – because you can write about anything you want; and 3 – you are not giving up your copyrighted material.

That’s right. Can you believe it? A site that wants to publish your work and lets you keep the rights to your own work. Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to write 100 Words a day for one month. I know I have a few friends who should really do this because they are creative and just need motivation. How about you?