Friday, December 25, 2009

blog post about various things. Christmas.

so it is snowing great garbage bags of snow outside.

We missed the Christmas Eve service and the traditional Gochenour family reunion, delayed the Christmas meal with Grandma until Sunday, and in general have holed up.

The good side of this is that there's no way I can do the field research necessary for my thesis. Predictably enough, the bad side of this is ALSO that there's no way I can do the field research necessary for my thesis.

And now, a blog entry talking about various things.

I. Family Stuff.

This looks to be the best Christmas my family has had in a couple years, for various reasons. My brother is snowed in up north with his new wife, Reanna, and her family. The pink Carhartt coat he bought her did not, tragically enough, fit, so he is now searching for another present (hopefully another coat, but we'll see) that is equally suitable for the new wife of Farmer John.

Last night the power went out on the east half of town. The Dr. Gochenour family sat warm and comfy with our power on and our new generator in the old clinic, peaceably secure, and my mom promptly invited all our extended non-DNA-sharing family to stay overnight in case of a continued night without power -- i.e. Joanna, Bob, Baby Bobby, Chris (Joanna and Chris are my beloved babysitters of old and probably the best employees we have ever had at Willow Park Veterinary Clinic; Bob is Joanna's husband and Baby Bobby is her much-awaited, much-adored 10-month-old son), and Connie (whose dog Keesha was my godchild. Connie is now getting a new Corgie puppy soon. If you have known someone who lost a beloved dog, you will appreciate the joyful, almost painful sigh of relief that I heaved upon learning this information; and if you have not -- back in your cold little closet of heartlessness, you non-pet-loving cur.) The mental image of Baby Bobby, perhaps attired in his small puffy Santa suit, shivering in a dark house, proved far too much for my mother to stomach.

We hurtled around the house at high speed, trying to redistribute our possessions in such a way that would result in the least amount of small objects being gummed and swallowed by the Bobster. Mom produced two pans of enchiladas (yuck) and the yellow Dutch oven (a pot big enough to give a 3-month-old a bath in) full of minestrone (yum) in record time.

After an hour, the power came back on, and no one had to stay over after all. Mom and I were pretty deflated.

II. Books

I haven't read crap this term, due to the evils of STUDIO (more on that later. Maybe. This entry is looking unpleasantly long for what I had in mind.)

I read Olive Kittredge, by somebody Strout, on the plane home. It is apparently a Pulitzer Prize winner. It's a book of thirteen stories, set in a small town in Maine (which, other than easy access to the ocean, was remarkably like a small town in Iowa.) Each story is built up of tiny disappointments stretched out over years, and the seemingly even tinier joys that keep the residents of this small town going through these things. It was quite readable, though the Pulitzer designation is a bit mystifying.

Last night I stayed up late (ugh, mistake) to read Lullaby, by Chuck Palahniuk. He is certainly a talented writer with a gift for characterization, and that's about it for that book. It's doubtless deliberate that it is a mere 260 pages, because a lot more than that of trailing along behind a bunch of eminently hate-worthy characters who spout nauseating amounts of rhetoric formulated precisely to make the reader the optimum amount of irritated (uncomfortable through the entire book, but not quite enough to stop reading) would have resulted in an unfinished book landing in the Goodwill bag in Mom's trunk.

I just started The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (I'm pretty far behind the reading curve.) 50 pages in, I'm looking forward to the rest of the book, and gritting my teeth in expectation of having my internal organs and emotions stewed about.

Books waiting for me (here at home -- there's a shelf of about 10 left at school): The Will of the Empress, a good old fantasy from Tamora Pierce, The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver, of which I hear many good things, My Life in France, by Julia Child -- it's about France, cooking, and Julia Child; what's not to like? -- Stardust, by Neil Gaiman, which I expect to be charming, A Farewell to Arms, by Ernest Hemingway, which I expect will not be. I have high hopes of getting through three or four more before heading back to school. We'll see if I fritter my time on Facebook and the Internet or spend it more wisely.

III. Food

I haven't been baking lately, although I have been gaining weight. Baking has temporarily lost its charm for me -- i.e. it does not seem to have the power to produce a sufficient amount of joy in random recipients to merit the effort.

But things that are tasty:
1. Apple tarts. Pie crust in muffin tins with apples cooked with some butter and brown sugar in the center.
2. STUFFING. homemade. out of the kraft box. out of the freezer meal. I LOVE STUFFING.
3. Roast potatoes. Chop, roll in olive oil, spread on pan, sprinkle with thyme and sage: Easy college happiness.
4. Potato soup, from a dried mix that has large amounts of potatoes, a sweet potato, and an onion added to it.
5. Fried onion. With soy sauce. Sounds disgusting, but man, it's tasty.
6. Pasta sauce made with canned tomatoes from the parents' garden, hamburger, onion, olive oil, basil, and mixed Italian herbs.

Things that are not tasty:

1. Dried Korean seaweed that I don't know how to cook in a bag for 100 people.
2. Red bean mochi. I'm sorry, everyone.

IV. Design & Thesis

In short, studio sucked big time. I am not going to be an architect. Because if I'm going to slave that incessantly over something, I want it to be something I care about a whole hell of a lot more.

I only pray I'm not going to be fined for the red ink I spilled on my desk in the new mezzanine.

But design.

I am collecting a lot of design-y sites on the internets, and I have designed two theater production posters (well three, but the third was a dud for unmentionable reasons) so far this year. I am working on improving my wheelthrowing skills, but currently my technique is not good enough to worry much about the careful design of the form, and I don't know enough about glazing to have much control of that, either.

Thesis. My thesis is about a) how typical daylighting has changed in Harrison County Church sanctuaries over the last century b) why and c) how this affects the quantity of, quality of, and attitude toward the light in the church.

We'll see about that. . . .

V. Ideas

I am carefully plotting my Independent Activities Period during January to optimize my research done, my number of books read, my Spanish learned, and my pottery produced. My roommate and I have hopes for a couple trips.

For next year: I am not applying to grad school yet. I am not ready. By a long shot. I have currently applied to the MISTI Japan internship program, the MISTI Spain internship program, and the one-year LEX internship program in Tokyo. And I continue to rustle around. . .

The Christmas music is blaring, and my dear mother is shouting into the computer as she plays Scrabble through Skype with Auntie Barb. I'm off to either thaw the turkey or resume (with trepidation) The Kite Runner.


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