Friday, July 22, 2011

Life is just a bowl (or, more precisely, an 11-quart stockpot) of cherries

When we lived in Colorado, some neighbors of ours (who were also good friends) had a sour-cherry tree in their backyard that Tom coveted.  One year, we happened to be catsitting for them while they were out of town, and the cherries were just about to be fully ripe.  "Pick as many as you want," they said, "because by the time we get home, it'll be too late."

Tom has fond memories of canning cherries from his childhood.  I regularly hear the story about his grandfather swinging through the kitchen at the height of the process, grabbing a few out of the bowl, and saying, "I'll can some of those right now," as he popped them in his mouth.

So, the summer of the free (and plentiful) sour cherries remains a very fond memory for Tom.  But we haven't been able to find anyplace to get them since we moved to West Virginia.

This year, my sister discovered that her CSA could hook her up with sour cherries, but you had to buy them in quantity--half a bushel, minimum.

So, since we were all coming to Columbus for my nephew's wedding this weekend, Pam picked up the fruit and brought it down, we brought our cherry pitter from Morgantown, and Tom spent five hours pitting them yesterday afternoon and evening, with just a short break for dinner.

The result?  Literally, an 11-quart stockpot full of cherries, which yielded seven overstuffed quart bags to put in the freezer, about a pint of sour cherry juice (I feel some good cocktails coming on), and another five cups left over to make a pie this evening.

It's been bloody hot everywhere this week, but this kind of bounty is a reminder of what summer is good for.  And when we thaw out some of those cherries to make another pie (or cobbler, or crisp, or turnovers) in the middle of next winter, it will be a welcome taste of a different season.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Summer doldrums

Post-4th-of-July is when I always seem to hit a summer slump.

This year is no exception.  Paradoxically, I feel guilty both about not doing more work and about not having more fun.  Consequently, slump time is also list-making time:

I scribbled these yesterday, in a fit of depression/ennui.  As you can see, the list of work-related things is longer than either of the other two, and is composed primarily of tasks related to getting my tenure file together.  In fact, "Fun!" had nothing on it until Tom added two items.  That's a little sad, but seems to be par for the course this year.

In between is "House," with a list of stuff we've been wanting to get done but weren't able to during the regular school year.  Somehow that list seems like the easiest to tackle, so today was spent starting to hack away at the ivy in the front yard (which is going to be a long process), and also organizing the basement.

First priority in the basement was finally putting some pegboard up over the tool bench and getting the various tools that have been scattered everywhere attached to it.  I've been wanting to do this ever since we moved into the house, but just hadn't gotten around to it.  Today was the day, though!

Inspiration for this project?  My dad's tool bench:

Not only are his tools neatly organized, but he traced the outline of each one on the board and then painted in its silhouette so that you can see exactly where each belongs.

I wasn't about to go that far...though I more than understand the impulse.

Here's a play-by-play of the process:

I have to say, I'm pretty pleased with the result!  And I finally feel like I actually accomplished something concrete.  I have a feeling I'm going to need to do more of these tangible, results-oriented chores in the weeks and months to come, as the tenure process gets started and I'm working my @$$ off for a result that's both uncertain and a long ways off.

This is the song that was echoing in my brain as I worked--specifically, the lines

"Gotta get out of bed,
Get a hammer and a nail,
Learn how to use my hands.
Not just my head--
I'll think myself in a jail..."

The Indigo Girls have it right, as usual.

(Can that song really be over 20 years old?!)

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Pittsburgh (area) jazz scene circa 1948

I had no idea that my dad had been the music editor of WVU's humor magazine, Moonshine, until my mom unearthed a file folder with several issues in it.

In my last post, I wrote about the demise of WDUQ's jazz programming.  Here's a little taste of what Pittsburgh's jazz scene was like back in the day, courtesy of this column from February 1948 (click on the picture to see a larger version):

Woody Herman playing a dance in Morgantown?  Sigh...

(And no, I have no idea what the inside joke about "Boone-Jug" Waldo is at the end.  But I do know that Boone-Jug, aka Ray Waldo, went on to become principal of one of the largest county high schools in the state.  And his staff still called him Boone-Jug.  That's so West Virginia.  Here's a nice little anecdote about him from the Martinsburg Journal.)