Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Garden notes

We pulled our first cucumber from the garden yesterday. It was a teeny little one, with the spines still on, suitable for making cornichons, although this one didn't last that long. Judging from the number of blossoms, though, I should be able to put up a nice batch this year.

I finally pulled out the pea vines, and found a few stray pods while I was at it. Barely enough for one person to eat (and probably not very tasty at this time of year), but worth saving for seed.

The big surprise of the year has been the Munchkin's butternut squash. I'd saved the seeds from a squash we got through our CSA in 2006, and then promptly forgot all about them until they turned up in a baggie in the back of our spice cabinet this spring. (Hey - at least I labeled it.) I took a few extra peat pots, and let the Munchkin fill them with potting mix and then put all the seeds he wanted into them, figuring that if anything came up, great, but if not, it's not like we were counting on them. As it turns out, we got three seedlings, of which two survived the move to the garden, and are now huge, with gigantic star-shaped yellow blooms.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Small Town Moments

Whether you live in a small town, city, subdivision, or whatever, it can be easy to forget that not everyone lives the same way you do. Changing from one to another, though? That'll bring it home but quick. And every now and again, I still have what I generally term "Gambier moments," although I suspect they crop up in a lot of little rural towns.

Our first Gambier moment occurred just after we moved into our house. The previous owners had left their lawn tractor in the barn so that they could keep up with the mowing during the year the house was on the market. Once we bought the place, Ed came by with their pickup, to retrieve the mower, only to discover that he'd forgotten to bring a ramp. We didn't have any lumber around either (having lived here for less than 72 hours), so there was no way to load the lawnmower in the back of the pickup. His solution? Drive the mower to their new house in Mount Vernon, just under 6 miles away, and have his wife drive him back to get the truck that evening.

Your average riding mower tops out at about 4mph, and this particular mower was easily 20 years old. Sturdy - possibly indestructible - but not exactly a high-powered vehicle. This was going to take him well over an hour, on what would normally have been 55mph roads, and he didn't think anything of it. I was so bewildered, I actually called Joe at work to inform him, in case there was any doubt left in his mind, that we were now unquestionably living in the country.

Many Gambier moments revolve around our tiny population. The 2000 Census tallied 1871 people, and roughly 1500 of those would have been Kenyon students, not full-time residents. Everyone tends to know everyone else, by face or by name, if not both. In part because of this, a surprising number of houses are perpetually referred to by the names of their previous owners. I don't actually know yet when the statute of limitations is up and the house gets to have your name, but I know folks who are still living in "the old Smith house" even though Professor Smith left the college over ten years ago. The collective Village memory still clings to those old names.

A dear friend who recently moved back to town after many years away had her own Gambier moment in the Post Office. Since we do not have home mail delivery (hear that Internet retailers? My home address really IS the post office box, honest!), the PO is central to daily life in the Village. My friend, having been in town all of 72 hours, was stopping through the PO with her daughters to check their box, when she heard someone address her 10-year-old by name. After a moment of confusion, she realized that her daughter had met a neighbor or two that she hadn't yet.

Of course, the people who run the Post Office (and the bookstore, and the coffee place, and the Market) know us all. Some friends once sent us a Christmas card to

Joe Murphy and Alison Furlong
Gambier, OH
We Love the Gambier Post Office!!!
It got to us. On time. It's that kind of place.

What's your "small town moment?"

Monday, July 13, 2009

I will sing a new song

I recently celebrated my 40th birthday. Some of my friends cleverly decided to stop aging while in their 20s, but I didn't have that sort of foresight. It was a pretty low-key affair: Joe made fried chicken, the Munchkin colored me a card, there were a few gifts, and I went out for a late-night drink with my friend and birthday-buddy Pamela. Pretty much just what I wanted.

My other big "landmark" birthdays have been similarly quiet. There were no massive revelations about my life and the meaning thereof, and remarkably little angst about it all. In the few weeks that have passed since, however, I did do one thing which, to my younger mind at least, would have positively screamed "woman over 40." Namely, I purchased a new bathing suit. With a skirt.

Yes, I have become a woman who wears a swim-skirt. I don't know what the male equivalent would be, but suffice it to say that, at 18 years old, I would have been appalled at the idea. On the other hand, this is the first suit I have owned in years that isn't black, so that's something.

I have also learned that the effects of the swim-skirt can be countered through numerous trips down the waterslide. So I've got that going for me. Which is nice.