Monthly Archives: August 2010

Almost like “The Gift of the Magi”

I love O’Henry’s story “The Gift of the Magi,” and it moves me every time I read it. Poor Jim, selling his watch to buy Della combs for her hair–only to discover that she has sold her hair to buy a chain for his watch. Pure O’Henry.

Last night we re-enacted the plot (in a much cheaper way that did not involve me having to cut my hair).

After I received the aforementioned Microwave S’More Maker, I had three days of leaving the house at 8 and not getting home until almost 10 at night–and I hadn’t had a chance to try it out (primarily because it had not come with graham crackers, marshmallows, and chocolate!)

As I was driving home late last night, I decided it would be a fun surprise to stop and buy the ingredients and surprise Paul. When I got home, I took my little bag of goodies upstairs to show him. He looked a bit odd, took me to the kitchen, and showed me the identical items that he had just gone out to buy! Maybe we have been married long enough that we really do know what the other person is thinking. Or maybe we just both really wanted a s’more–and now we can make a LOT of them.


Celebrating our 36th anniversary

Paul says I am hard to shop for. But this year he found just the thing–a microwave s’more maker. It came with careful instructions about how to make them–first a Graham cracker, then chocolate, then a marshmallow, then another Graham cracker–good to know the order. Then you put the whole thing in the microwave for ten seconds. Voilà, s’mores. I took this photo of the side if the box:

It’s a little bit scary to realize that it has “core fusion technology.” Pretty high-tech! I am truly hoping I won’t accidentally blow my house up in my attempt to have the perfect s’more!

On another note, we saw the movie “Winter’s Bone,” and I thought it was wonderful–artistic, disturbing, beautiful, heart-warming (but not in a predictable way), and generally great. I would highly recommend it. I’m going to guess an Oscar nomination for Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the seventeen-year old main character, Ree. See it–it’s good.

The march of the overhead projectors

Today as I came into work, I saw a truck picking up dozens of overhead projectors to take them to salvage. Of course they are totally outdated, but I hadn’t really thought about that until this morning–they had always seemed sort of high-tech to me. I don’t think I have used one in my classroom for several years, but my transparencies used to be such a big part of my teaching. I finally threw away my ditto masters last week–now it will have to be my saved transparencies. Unless..unless…unless I go to the salvage outlet and buy my very own overhead projector! I could keep it in my office and roll it into class. My students could titter and write comments about it on “Rate My Professor .com.” I have always wanted to cultivate my eccentricities–maybe this is my opportunity. I’ve always wanted to be a Luddite!

Identity Theft and Familial Love

Over the years, we have had lots of confusion related to the fact that there is a person who shares the same name (and the same EXACT birthday) with my dearly beloved. The other Paul Dixon also lives in the same state. We first discovered this when (my) Paul tried to help out a teacher friend by volunteering at the local school. He had to have a criminal history check, and when it came back, it asserted that he was a convicted felon and had been in prison during the exact same years he had been living with me, fathering our children, and getting a Ph.D.! Sneaky guy! We straightened that out, only to start getting bills for knife wounds that he had been treated for at an Indy hospital. I tried to call and let them know that I was sure my Paul Dixon wasn’t wounded and hadn’t been in the emergency room. Their first question was, “What’s his birthday?” Have you ever been talking to someone and realized they think you are lying, or deluded, or brain damaged? It took several of those kind of calls to let them know that they were billing the wrong guy.

The other Paul must live a very interesting life, as evidenced by the phone message we got yesterday, which I will now transcribe for your edification:

I don’t know if this is Heather or Maggie or Paul or whoever. This is Meg. Paul’s sister. Somebody needs to call me. I’d like to check on my niece. That would be great. If no one wants to call, then I don’t care. I won’t call Dad. I won’t give him your number. My number is ###-###-####. Paul, give your sister a call, dumbass. I don’t know what your problem is, but call me!

Wouldn’t that make you want to call? Is it possible that dumbass is a term of endearment in their family? Would anyone like to count how many levels of sadness that one message contains? Poor Other Paul Dixon!

New proof that aliens exist

I have always tried to keep an open mind about extra-terrestrial beings. It could happen, I figured. The universe is a big place. And in the last couple of days I’ve seen proof. Exhibit A (below) is a photo of the strange “crop circles” I found around a tree outside the window of my hotel in Dayton (I went to Dayton to visit my niece, Sarah, who was performing in a vocal concert–and she was great!)

Note that the dead grass loops around the tree in a parallel fashion. Lawn mower, you may say? Then why is the rest of the grass not dead? Hmmmmm? I rest my case.

The very next day after seeing this amazing phenomenon, I was walking across campus and ran smack dab into an alien!

I said, “Welcome to earth.”

He didn’t say anything, so I said. “Do you allow earthlings to photograph you?”

He nodded and struck a pose:

I said, “Did you make those crop circles in Dayton?”

He started to back away.

I said, “Where is your mother ship?”

And he started to back away faster.

I said, “How do you procreate on your planet?” and he turned and started walking away very fast.

I followed him for a few blocks, then saw him talking to a policeman and pointing at me, so I figured he needed to get to his spaceship and I wouldn’t get any answers out of him.

So I went back to my office to work–a believer.

Horses sweat, men perspire, and women glow

I used to think I didn’t sweat. I grew up in dry-as-a-bone Utah, and I can remember seeing movies of people with sweat pouring off their brows and wondering what was wrong with them. When I worked outside as a kid, sweat would evaporate in the dry wind just as fast as it would form (plus, I never worked that hard).

Then I moved to Indiana. My sweat, or “glow,” as Sister Vaudis insisted I call it, has increased a thousandfold. My glow drips down my face. It pools in my armpits. Sunday I dragged Paul to Prophetstown for what I claimed with be “a short walk.” Prophetstown is not very big, so when the nice lady asked if we needed a map as we drove in, I said “No thanks.” What I thought would take about 20 minutes turned into an hour and 45. And it was hot. And it was humid. And we were in an honest-to-goodness fen (the interpretive signage even said so), and said fen produced lots of mosquitos!

But we did see lots of beautiful butterflies and other insects, including this stunning dragonfly who followed us for at least half a mile. I don’t know what kind it is–but I’ll ask Arwin the Entomologist and he can tell me. In the meantime, here he/she is:

Bread and (ginger peach) butter

I learned as a kid that if you were walking with someone and you separated (to go around a lamp post, for example) both people had to say “bread and butter.” I don’t know why. I just know you have to–and that it has taken about 36 years for me to teach Paul to do it about 48% of the time. It may be a Midwestern thing because it was my Illinois-raised mom who insisted upon it. I guess it’s the same reason I try not to walk under ladders or step on cracks (you should catch me sometimes lurching around campus like a drunk to avoid a crack–it makes my gait pretty awkward!)

Yesterday I heard a grandmother explaining the same practice to her grandson. It made me happy that people are passing along this custom. I think ritual and fear are the staples of life, and we shouldn’t get rid of all of them–just the ones that hurt and oppress people.

I am making butter for my bread as I type this. It’s ginger peach butter from the Moosewood cookbook. You put a dozen peaches in your crackpot, (A Freudian slip? Make that crockpot!) purée them, add brown sugar and pieces of ginger and then cook away. I have been sampling as I go–and it tasted good on my bread this morning. Bread and butter.