I Made a Pie

I made a pie today.  I woke up late, glazed-eyed, and briefly considered staying in bed and watching Downton Abbey at least until the last episode of the second season, when Matthew and Mary kiss and smile and look to be together forever.  And then I thought that perhaps it might be better to get up and contribute to the world.  So, I made a pie.

Bright blue sweatpants drawstringed securely around waist, sleeves rolled up, hair braided back but still flopping forward in the bangs department, I made a pie.  The cherries for it were picked by my mom and my dad and sometimes my sister.  Even the dog snapped cherries off the ground and off lower branches, crushing them between her teeth and eventually looking like a killer with bloodstained muzzle.  I helped pick until the mosquitos discovered me and tucked in for a feast.

I’ve always been intimidated by pie making.  The forming of the crust seemed a particular challenge.  So much can go wrong: dough too sticky from excess liquid, dough too rubbery from excess flour, dough too thin from over-zealous rolling, dough too thick from hesitant rolling.  In the end, I took a few deep breaths, fumbled with floury fingers to the “pie” section of The Joy of Cooking, and just did what the dear authors told me to do.

I poured the fresh-picked cherries into the bottom crust.  I briefly considered making a lattice top, and then determined a lattice top to be a bit out of my league.  I put on the top crust, trimmed the excess skirt of dough, and used two fingers and a thumb to crimp the edges together.  Then I carefully made tents of tinfoil so the crimps wouldn’t burn.  I pushed the pie into the oven.  I waited for almost an hour.  And there was a pie.

IMG_1174

And I felt, as I was making it, a little like this:

As if all could be right, all was right, as long as I was quietly turning fruit and flour into pastry.  And as long as I had my bird friends to help me with aesthetics.

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Things Are Afoot

It’s Saturday night, and things are afoot.

I worked two concessions shifts at the theatre, between which I tiptoed in to actually watch the movie.  It was Brave, and I thought it was pretty wonderful, although definitely not what I expected.  More bears and magic than I anticipated, to be brief.  But plenty of laughs (once again I outstripped all children in the audience in that department).  And, forgive me, but I spent much of the movie being mesmerized by the heroine’s hair.  It was like a separate character.

Up forever has my heart in the world of Disney-Pixar.

Then, needing fresh air, and an escape from the smell of popcorn and the slick of grease between my fingers, I went for a bike ride around town, looping back through campus just as it got dark.

And now, because a good friend of mine is in Morris, and because I’d like to feel like a college student for an evening, and not like a responsible adult, we’re going on a hike.  Destination will not be disclosed at this time.

Also, I just have to tack this on the end, because I shrieked with delight when I watched the trailer this afternoon.  Joe Wright is one of my favorite directors, not just because his films are exquisite, because he turns good books into good movies, and because he appreciates the force of Keira Knightley’s acting as I do (yes, I can defend that statement), but because he does period films.  Period films.  Period.

Day Tripper

Not much to report.

It’s cold enough that my fan is off, my windows are closed, and I have a blanket on my lap.

The plan was to make creamy cucumbers for dinner, but I realized this morning, after another largely sleepless night, that I forgot to buy vinegar.  I’ll do that tomorrow.

An hour ago, I pulled out The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Volume A for perusal.  Not much happened except that I reaffirmed my belief that John Smith was utterly and insufferably full of himself.  I wish Disney had at least gotten that part right.  Who writes an autobiography in third person, anyway?

Tonight is my first movie theater shift.  I’ll be working concessions, which should be simple enough.  Scoop popcorn, pull lever to flood waxy cup with Pepsi, retrieve rattling boxes of Nerds or Milkduds for waiting customers.

I don’t mean to sound so sarcastic, really.  I just need to learn to keep myself occupied when I’m not working.  I don’t know if I can take another slow day like this one.  Even in the summer.

I’m Here Til Thursday

Yes, I missed a day, but here’s the excuse: I’ve been in the University Register office since 6:30.  Seven hours.  Copy editing.

To be fair, however, me and the team have done more than copy edit.  We’ve discussed the merits of the Oxford Comma.  We’ve discussed the former Disney Channel show Fillmore (Remember, ’90s kids?).  We’ve made an ominously long and unbearably awesome bucket list for next year.  We’ve stolen a stuffed fish from the Assistant to the Editor in Chief and held it for ransom.

And now, surrounded by spilled bags of popcorn, piles of yellowing newspapers, sleep-deprived teenagers, and the random Al Franken campaign poster, I’m experiencing, for the first time, what it feels like to wait around for writers to submit their damn articles.

While I wait, I’ll show you some pictures of my shady new office:

Note the framed photograph of an unidentified man on the windowsill. Nadine, the graduating HCE, claims she was last person to know who the man is, and she's forgotten. Unsettling, at best.

Artsy ceiling shot. I couldn't resist.

Support the U Day

It seems that every story I tell begins with me waking up obnoxiously early.  Since I guess I’ve only heavily hinted at it up until now, I should say straight out that I am not a morning person.  Far from it.  You would know this if you’ve ever talked to me before nine a.m; I may have been incoherent, or I may have been mean.  What I’ve come to learn, however, is that although they start sluggishly, and usually with little natural light, early mornings often lead to fantastic days.

Today was Support the U Day.  A three-hour bus ride during which I managed to pour people’s OJ without sloshing it all over their jeans, teach the Minnesota Rouser to everyone (while possibly singing/chanting out of tune; ask the guy who stood in front of me), and accomplish nothing homework-related.

Then we arrived, and despite attempts to be everlastingly blasé, my mouth hung open just a tad.  I’ll never fail to be impressed by the state capitol building.  It’s marble and murals and an echoing rotunda and an inspiring portrait of Jesse Ventura in the basement:

In the standing-around-and-gaping stage before the rally began, (Support the U Day, I must explain, is when students of the University of Minnesota bus down to the Capitol to talk to their legislators about the importance of funding the U), President Kaler (of the U of MN) came up and shook my hand.  Well, we all know how I get around famous people.  I stuttered something about us being from Morris, while wondering if my handshake had been limp.  Everyone hates a limp handshake.

We pause for a moment in order for the writer to mention that she is currently blogging in her apartment stairwell (for lack of a better place to go), and that the RA just came by on his rounds.  Your friendly blogger scared him half to death, which was fairly entertaining, especially paired with the fact that it’s awfully difficult to explain yourself when you and Mac are sitting in a stairwell on a Friday night.

And back to the story…

Note: there is no snow in Minnesota currently. This picture (along with the one of Jesse) was taken last year, when I brought my camera to Support the U Day (and remembered to use it).

The rally was kicked off (as all rallies should be) with speeches.  We heard from President Kaler, from Governor Dayton, and from various student leaders.  Then Morris folks, at the count of four, began clapping out the Rouser.  We ended up singing alone (despite, I must add, the number of other U of MN students in the vicinity), but it was fun and it got everyone revved for some lobbying.

Unfortunately, and unlike last year, students were not able to meet with their legislators (from their home districts) individually.  Instead, because both the senate and the house were in session, we had to send notes into the forums, asking certain legislators to come out and chat with us.  Most of them were kind enough to do so, and we huddled around them in vaulted hallways, listening to them defend their votes with regards to the U.  They all said, of course, that the University is important, and that we (the students) are the future.     Yes, yes.  But then why are you cutting University funding down to 20% of our budget request?  How do you expect us to live up to the high standards we’ve established-technological innovation, top-notch research, sustainability, global outlook, academic excellence, etc.-if you won’t provide us with the means to maintain them?  How do you expect our generation, and the next, to lead the state someday, when we consistently feel that the state doesn’t value our education?  What do you have to say to the first generation college student who works three part-time jobs while at school, and will still graduate with $30,000 worth of student loans?

Those are some of the questions we had, and will continue to have, as the state continues to hole up in the Capitol and ignore the needs of its most valuable resource.

The bus ride home was quieter; most people snuggled down into their jackets and slept.  A few Disney singalongs floated up from the back of the bus, but I was too far gone to think about joining in.  So far gone, in fact, that when I finally awoke, I had a spot of drool on my sweater.  Attractive.

Tomorrow, I am happy to report, has the makings of being just as powerful of a day.  At 10:30 I’m going to a creative non-fiction writing workshop led by Michael Perry (http://sneezingcow.com/).  Having read an excerpt from “Coop” in class, and having attended his reading/concert earlier this evening, I can safely say that I will be learning a lot in this workshop.  And that I want to read all of his books, and will do so the minute Amazon delivers them to me.