Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Firepit

My husband and I recently bought one of these:

We've only sat around it one evening so far, but it was heaven. It's almost like camping, which I LOVE, but not enough like camping to put off my husband who hates the idea of laying on the ground, being dirty, and being sucked dry by mosquitoes. So we have settled on a camping-like experience with our fire pit.

It is the greatest invention ever. We set it up in the middle of our backyard, threw a fake log in it, started that baby on fire, and then commenced with the marshmallow roasting. My husband refrained from eating marshmallows because he's unamerican and instead just drank a tall glass of whiskey and Dr. Pepper, his favorite drink. Me? I'll take roasted marshmallows over a drink any old day, the more burned and cancerous, the better. My one great carcinogenic excess.

It was a nice Knoxville evening, more brisk than usual. If I closed my eyes and ignored the abundant Dogwoods around me, I could pretend I was back in Michigan camping with some friends up in Manistee National Forest.

But there are some benefits to being here in Knoxville and to sitting around that fire with my husband and my husband alone. We talked a lot. If you know my husband, you know talking is secondary to observation and silence for him. But he talked and that was nice. A fire is good for coaxing words out of someone. It helps that long silences are perfectly acceptable in front of a fire - no pressure on anyone to fill the smoky air with anything but the rumpling of a plastic bag to pull more marshmallows out.

Yes, firepits, marshmallows, and talking husbands are all very good things. The money spent on that thing was well worth it. Friends, come over soon and sit around it with us. After several drinks, Michael may just get down right wordy.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Recycling Recremental Language

I don't write anymore. I'm just putting that out there to start with. I have come to certain conclusions about what I want in life and being an acclaimed author is not sincerely on my list. I still want to be on the David Letterman show, but I don't know how I'm going to get there yet.

This is all tangenital. What I really want to get out there is that I just love words. Big ones, long ones, fat ones, skinny ones. I love words. Unfortunately, it would seem they are potentially in danger of extinction. Therefore, I am calling on you, dear reader of this blog - this mountain of letters and skyline of words - to choose one or two obscure words to bring back into the fold of our national, creative, bendy, ambitious lexicon.

For inspiration, read this book review of Ammon Shae's, Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages. My favorite word from the article? Hypergelast: a person who cannot stop laughing.

Or read this from the Times Online, which is also a call to reclaim obscurity from the depths of obscurity. My favorite word from this article? Skirr: the beating of wings.

You can do it, one recremental (having the characteristic of waste matter, disposable) word at a time.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dressing Midwesterners in Apples

Yesterday was unseasonably cool here in Knoxville much to the great, great delight of my husband and I, both of us hailing from Cleveland and Grand Rapids respectively. My husband emerged from the bedroom wearing jeans (the darker ones I bought him) and a long white t-shirt underneath the perfect deep blue polo short (also purchased by me). He looked so good that we had to agree he is deeply midwestern and looks best in fall clothes.

As much as I will miss summer, I'm ready to start covering my legs and arms as well. Soon that time will come when I get to wear both jeans and sandals at the same time, and at night, I could potentially even throw a sweatshirt on. Ah, the best season is approaching. My jeans await.

Unfortunately, it will line up with apple season, the dominant, most defining season of Michigan, I would argue. I will be missing that season here in Knoxville. Certainly there will be naysayers who argue the long, arduous, deeply gray winter is Michigan's most defining season, but that's a really a half-full or half-empty discussion.

Apple harvesting defines Michigan for me because it includes all those great phrases particular to my fine state that asks only: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice.

The phrases "before the snap," "honeycrisp harvest," and "apple hay ride" speak of the coming cold and the amazingly good smells of an agricultural state - the crisp cleanness of the air that you won't find in Knoxville. I miss it so much already. Someboy, anybody, send me a bushel of apples and all that fall weather that comes with them.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ian and David and the Slippery Genius

I've been thinking about these men lately. Mostly, I've been thinking a lot about Ian Curtis and that brutal hand in hand of the heavy, exposed heart and that devastating pressure to end it all. And then comes news of David Foster Wallace, whose prose I alternated between finding joyfully refreshing and in great need of editing. Refreshing is key here, far exceeding the rambling qualities that I am rude enough to bring up here.

Refreshing is the only thing we really need from artists ... a breadth of something new. A strike against the humdrum of what qualified for imaginative discovery previously. We need that moment when we are standing in front of something new and thinking, "Why the hell hasn't this done before? Where did they pull this from?"

Ian Curtis and David Foster Wallace had this in spades. And now they're gone. A slippery genius vetted out once again. Certainly by their own hands and yet the why lays heavily above the whole mess of it. That slippery genius is dead again. Long live the slippery genius.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Viewing Stars and the Viewing of Other Things

Apparently, UT offers a viewing of the stars and the planets on the first Friday of every month, which I think is a terrific delight. I adore telescopes. What wonderful things they are what with all those worlds they contain and yet don't contain at all. Really, anything that offers a clearer view of anything is on my adored list, which follows here:

List of Adored Things that Offer a Clearer View of Other Things

Kaleidoscopes (a clearer viewer of colors, maybe?)
Movie Reviews
Well-Written Instructions Manuals with Correspondingly Useful Diagrams
Talented Teachers
Visors Worn at Baseball Games
Prescription Sunglasses
Approachable Critical Essays
Oliver Sacks
Three-Way Mirrors
Zoom or Macro Functions on Computers and Cameras
Anti-Fogging Spray for Coated Eyeglasses (see DOC Eyeglass Cleaner)
3-D Glasses
The Pain Scale
The Beaufort Wind Scale
Constellation Charts