Saturday, November 24, 2012

Turnips from Taos!

Turnips—beautiful ones!

This is a belated Thanksgiving post, but it’s no less thankful for the delay. We got a wonderful surprise on Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving: a big bucket of gorgeous turnips on our doorstep!

I’d almost forgotten the conversation I had one afternoon this hot summer with one of the fellows working on the new-sidewalks project here along Broadway. It started when I learned he lived in Taos (Missouri) (of course) and asked if he could identify a fellow in a picture I took at a church supper there.

Well, he could! People are tight-knit in those communities. And then we got talking about the Taos harvest festival and how they always serve turnips there, along with the sausage and the turkey and dressing. Turnips! And he mentioned that he grows turnips himself. I told him how much I wish turnips at the store came with the greens still attached, because I like to cook the greens and turnips together, and anyway, how dare they throw away those lovely greens?

And—without any prompting from me, honest—he offered to bring me some turnips! With their greens on ’em! He said he’d just leave a box of them on our doorstep sometime this fall.

We weren’t home Wednesday afternoon when he must have left them, but when we returned in the evening, there they were! Lovely, lovely fresh turnips. Stuffed to overflowing in one of those enormous 5-gallon plastic construction buckets. The greens were as pretty as the creamy-smooth roots.

And I was wondering what sort of vegetable I could serve with Thanksgiving dinner, besides the sticky sweet potatoes and straight-ahead canned green bean casserole. Turnips cooked together with their greens! So lovely!

I’m not sure of this fellow’s name, so I’m asking the concrete contractor to tell me, so I can write and thank him. What a sweetheart, for him to remember, and to be so generous!

~~~Such beautiful turnips! Thank you, kind sir, for now, until I can write you a thank-you letter directly!

A note: I took these pictures this morning, so the greens have wilted somewhat. And there were lots more; remember I cooked some on Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

University Press What?

University Press Week. It’s a nationwide celebration and information-fest: University Press Week. Why? Because America’s university presses do the work of God, and no one seems to know what a university press even is.

This summer in Missouri, we almost lost our state’s treasured, foremost scholarly publisher, the University of Missouri Press.

You all, if I didn’t blog very much this summer, one reason was that I was incredibly distracted—distraught—pulling my hair out—over the despicable news coming from University Hall in Columbia. The administrators tried to shut down the press!

I want to make two points here.

First, send them money. I mean, hallelujah! The UM System administrators changed their minds and the University of Missouri Press has been saved! But although the press was in decent economic shape before the debacle happened, the administrators’ summer-long gutting of the press created a barrel of new problems. And money will help.

An anonymous donor has stepped up and offered to match all gifts made to the University of Missouri Press—THIS WEEK—so you’ve got until Nov. 17 (Saturday!) to take advantage of this opportunity. A $100 gift becomes $200. A $500 gift becomes a thousand. And so on. (Up to $10,000.)

These contributions will be added to the Press’s endowment, helping to ensure the Press will be financially secure, and able to keep publishing important books well into the future.

And your contribution is tax-deductible! Click here for a link to the Press’s contributions website. By the way, since the clock is ticking, I’m pret-ty sure they would be happy to accept your contribution over the phone: 573-882-7641.

Second, educate yourself and others about what university presses are. “University Press Week” is being observed nationwide. If you’re a tax-paying citizen, you should know about the great value you get from your state’s flagship university press. I suggest you start by perusing the University of Missouri Press’s blog.

This week their blog includes a post explaining why we need university presses—listen! Every citizen ought to understand these points, since most state university presses are publicly funded and contribute in major, solid ways to our state and national culture and knowledge (click here to go to that post).

A disclaimer, or whatever: I used to work at the University of Missouri Press, yep. I was an editor there for thirteen years and was laid off in 2008 when they had to make budget cuts. I was the editor with the least seniority, so my position was cut. It hurt tremendously to be laid off, and although I can’t help but still be kinda sore about that situation, my appreciation of the Press, its staff, and their mission hasn’t wavered.

And no, I'm not getting anything out of this blog post. It's not like they're paying me or anything. I simply, genuinely care. I don't believe in "trickle down" economics, but I do believe in percolating, infusing, disseminating knowledge.

Now, get out your checkbook or credit card, and go to the University of Missouri Press’s contributions page.

And I thank you deeply.

P.S. A note on the books I've chosen to highlight here in pictures. The University of Missouri Press has been publishing important books for more than half a century. I'll bet you've seen some of these, maybe even have a copy on your shelves somewhere. Or perhaps you should check them out! Here's the link to the Press's online catalog.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Storm Windows Cussometer Report, 2012

Last weekend we took out the screens and put in the storm windows. As you know, in our lil’ ol’ National Register home, doors and windows that fit perfectly in 1931 don’t quite fit soundly any more. So we need a “cussometer” to keep track of the ongoing storm-window fittage issues.

“Issues,” as you know, is the twenty-first-century way of saying problems.

But we just expect it at this point. We build in time for planing, sanding, Dremeling (if necessary) surfaces of parts that won’t fit. And we keep notes on how much of a bitch it is each year! Hence the “cussometer.”

This year, we were dumbfounded at how easy it was! The biggest worry is always the biggest storm window, the one facing north. It’s at least forty pounds, it doesn’t fit easily on its two little hooks, and it’s far too high above the back porch stairs to even see well (much less manipulate from outside).

We just expect it to be a pain, but this year, it simply went on its little hooks and slid right into place. We secured the hooks inside, and stared at each other in disbelief. Wow!

Why was it so easy this year!? We chalked it up to the drought, and the settling and resettling of our back porch. Well, the drought was good for something! It rated a zero on the cussometer. A zero!

Then, we did the three little side windows, that face east. These are easy-peasy. Being smaller, they’re lighter, plus we can reach them from outside, from the top portion of the porch steps, which go right past them.

And uh-oh! We had celebrated a too early! The last window to go in simply didn’t have enough space. What the heck? It’s usually the easiest one of all! So we had to go to the basement for the planer to make the window narrower. It took a while, but at least it wasn’t on a window that was heavy or impossible to access from the outside. But it did take a couple of hours . . .

Oh, well. At least it’s done, and the cold air we’re getting now will be outside and not in.

Are your storm windows in? Are you keeping warm? I hope so! Because it sure looks like winter’s arrived now!