Category Archives: Word of the Week

Word of the Week: Sweet

Merriam-Webster:

  1. adj.: Containing a lot of sugar
  2. Pleasing to the taste
  3. Pleasing to the mind or feelings
  4. Marked by gentle good humor or kindliness
  5. Much loved
  6. Very good or appealing
  7. noun: Something sweet to the taste

Roget’s International Thesaurus:

  1. noun: Food – confection, candy, jelly, jam, caramel, chocolate, custard, honey, frosting
  2. Sweetness – dulcitude, oversweetness, mawkishness, cloyingness, sickly-sweetness
  3. Endearment term – darling, dear, deary, sweetheart, hon, sugar, love, babe, baby, ducks, lamb, snookums, poppet
  4. adj.: Soft-colored – subdued, muted, delicate, light, creamy, peaches-and-cream, pastel, pale, subtle, mellow, quiet, tender, pearly
  5. Flavored – saporific, tasty, savory, flavorful
  6. Sweetish – saccharine, sugary, candied, honeyed, syrupy, mellifluous, ambrosial, nectarous
  7. Fragrant – redolent, perfumed, scented, balmy, heady, flowery, fruity, musky, spicy
  8. Clean – pure, immaculate, spotless, pristine, white, fair, fresh, unsullied, bright, shiny
  9. Pleasant – pleasurable, enjoyable, felicitous, likable, desirable, compatible, blissful, dulcet, gratifying, satisfying, rewarding, heartwarming, grateful, welcome, amicable, cheerful
  10. Endearing – lovable, adorable, admirable, lovely, lovesome, winsome, charming, cuddly
  11. Good-natured – good-tempered, affable, genial, cordial, gentle, mild, easy, laid-back
  12. Harmonious – balanced, symmetrical, orderly, measured, euphonic, smooth, flowing
  13. Melodious – musical, tuneful, catchy, lyrical, lilting, songful, rich, sonorous, golden-toned, silvery, golden-voiced, silver-tongued

So it’s June already, and almost two weeks in. Last week was a skipped week, due to….

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Faces blocked for privacy!

The wedding! Between a lovely childhood friend of my girlfriend’s and her charming boyfriend of several years. They tied the knot on June 7th, and cordially invited my girlfriend with a guest so I could tag along as well. And despite some slight zipper trouble, I even managed to make it in that pretty blue dress:

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Though I did not manage to get any pictures of it in daylight besides this one.

The church was pristine and Catholic:

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Jesus actually on the cross and everything! (I’m Protestant)

Which meant the ceremony involved much deep, sonorous singing from the loft alongside readings from several of the more gentle Bible verses about love. But no matter how the lead-up goes, nothing is more heartwarming than seeing two people you know are head-over-heels for each other take that first kiss toward the rest of their lives. And though I’ve been to all of two weddings now, I would judge theirs as just the right amount of tender.

The reception took place in her parents’ backyard. And before you start picturing backyards, their backyard looks like this:

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With room also for this:

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The weather was blissful, and the hors d’oeuvres were easily the most flavorful, savory things I’ve ever tasted (Swedish meatballs, those little crispy rice balls with cheese…my mouth is watering just remembering it). When the sun set the lighting in the tent muted to a delicate pink, while the surprisingly tuneful live band played songs that were actually catchy, instead of the conga or chicken dance. Both the bride and her mother sang songs of their own, mellifluous voices to smooth accompaniment. I couldn’t have wished them a better wedding.

Then on Monday I went with my roommate to see Neil Gaiman burlesque, as performed by these winsome people. It wasn’t quite as cuddly or pure as the wedding, but the dear who danced as Lucifer did use white feathers for her fan dance, so it wasn’t entirely an opposing experience. I highly recommend attending Excelsior Burlesque shows if you are anywhere in the NYC area. They don’t top a wedding, but they do beat staying at home pretty thoroughly.

Outside of those events, my two weeks since last I wrote have been fair, but not particularly exciting. I came across three executive assistant job postings (which is to say secretarial, but I’m not too picky at the moment) with requirement lists that, for once, were perfectly, 100% compatible with the skills I currently have. So, much of last week was taken up with writing and editing cover letters, around the usual gardening shenanigans. This week my roommate and I began beasting through the second season of Orange is the New Black, before I skipped back to CT for yet more minor maintenance on my car (a blown brake light bulb, which cost $20 and all of ten minutes of my time to get repaired) and a 2 a.m. Denny’s trip with almost all of my favorite CT friends.

It’s been a laid-back twelve days, but I’m hopeful for more excitement to knock on my door soon.

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Word of the Week: Fix

Merriam-Webster:

  1. verb: To make (something) whole or able to work properly again
  2. To deal with or correct (a problem)
  3. To attach (something) in such a way that it will not move
  4. noun: A difficult or embarrassing situation
  5. Something that solves a problem
  6. The act of dishonesty controlling or affecting something

Roget’s International Thesaurus:

  1. noun: Bewilderment – disconcertion, embarrassment, confoundment, confusion, puzzlement, baffle, predicament, plight, quandary, puzzle, mystery, upset
  2. Expedient – means, provision, tactic, device, resort, answer, solution, makeshift, stopgap
  3. verb: Establish – plant, pitch, seat, set, ground, build, put up, install, invest
  4. Direct – point, aim, turn, bend, give a push in the right direction, guide, signpost, indicate
  5. Kill – waste, zap, nuke, rub out, snuff, bump off, blast, do in, ice, gun down, pick off, put to bed with a shovel, take care of, deep-six, get, settle
  6. Resolve – determine, decide, make up one’s mind, make a resolution, seal, conclude
  7. Accustom – habituate, wont, condition, familiarize, acclimatize, inure, adapt, enculturate
  8. Perfect – touch up, finish, polish, fine-tune, tone up, brush up, furbish, spruce up, shine
  9. Repair – mend, doctor, set to rights, put in order, service, overhaul, patch up
  10. Defeat – clobber, skin alive, beat, massacre, lick, whip, cut to pieces, beat one’s brains out
  11. Get even with – even the score, square accounts, pay back in full measure, make quits
  12. Fasten – attach, affix, set to, graft, secure, anchor, moor, cement, tighten, cinch
  13. Organize – systematize, harmonize, synchronize, regularize, routinize, normalize
  14. Prove – demonstrate, show, remove all doubt, set at rest, make one’s case, hold good

Last week, while driving home through heavy traffic, my car decided it was time to square accounts with me for all those times I’ve somehow forgotten to turn my lights off nights. Luckily it was just the one headlight that snuffed itself, but it’s always an embarrassment to have to sit behind a black SUV and stare at the reflection of your defective car for upwards of an hour while the sun slowly sets to make it more obvious.

But, I was running low on clothes and high on laundry anyway, so I simply took it as a signpost to head back to CT for another middle-of-the-week trip, landing this post once again on a Saturday.

I spent Memorial Day double-dating with my girlfriend and another engaged couple we love at Ridge Hill, watching the new X-Men nuke the timeline entirely from the original movie run (not that that’s a bad thing, really) and eating delicious, delicious cheesecake, as planned, then quickly drove the two hours up to plant myself back in my own little hometown.

And of course the first thing I did there was to celebrate an extension of the holiday weekend with my best friend, by trekking out to Sunrise Park:

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Which looks a little something like this, from the beach

If you want to enculturate yourself into my life, the first thing you’ll need is to go visit this small park every day the weather is nice, for years. It’s got picnic areas, open fields for sports, hiking trails, and a lovely manmade pond, and a trip there is the solution to any stress, anxiety, or problem I have ever had.

It’s also the cover photo for this blog:

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In all its original-sized glory

There’s something about the water there, how fresh it is, how clear the reflections are, how it seems to cradle you as you swim, that harmonizes everything in me with everything in my life.

It was also freezing this week, but our bodies are fully conditioned to that. The perks of growing up in a rural community.

Besides that pleasant excursion, though, I was anchored at home, with my car getting patched up at the shop down the street. Where to pass the time, I curled up on the couch with my dog and read this:

Yep, all the YA

I have read Amelia Atwater-Rhodes’ books since middle school. My favorites remain Hawksong, because it’s actually quite a nicely written little book, and Midnight Predator, because I find the plot for that one interesting, and it develops out all right.

Recently, she seems to be trying to clobber out any deep sense of character development for the sake of plots that involve quite a bit more confusion than I tend to enjoy. That theory held good for Bloodwitch.

Of course, I finished it. I read it in less than two days. I found it interesting, and fun to read, and whenever she comes out with another one (which it appears she will, since the title page touts it as the start of a new sequence), you can bet I’ll buy that one too and support her. But if any of you out there have happened to stumble across this book (hard to do, really, since neither of the Barnes and Noble stores I frequent carry her newer volumes anymore), I would suggest picking up some of her earlier stuff first. It will help with a lot of the bafflement over character names, and it will show you that she is, in fact, capable of developing a story out well. When she wants.

Now, my car is once again a fine-tuned machine, and we are both happily back in NYC. Just in time for some serious weeding yesterday morning, and a lovely, rainy Saturday today. It’s shaping up to be a good weekend.

 

Word of the Week: Fit

Merriam-Webster:

  1. adj.: Proper or acceptable: morally or socially correct
  2. Being in such a state as to be or seem ready to do or suffer something
  3. Physically healthy and strong
  4. noun: A sudden but transient attack of a physical disturbance
  5. A sudden burst or flurry (as of activity)
  6. An emotional reaction (as in anger or frustration)
  7. The way clothing fits the wearer
  8. verb: To be suitable for or to; harmonize with
  9. To conform correctly to the shape or size of
  10. To insert or adjust until correctly in place
  11. To be in agreement or accord with

Roget’s International Thesaurus:

  1. noun: Outburst – outbreak, flare-up, blaze, explosion, upheaval, convulsion, seizure, storm, whirlwind, gale
  2. Fit of anger – tantrum, conniption, snit, stamping one’s foot
  3. Bustle – fuss, flurry, flutter, fluster, scramble, ferment, stew, sweat, whirl, stir, hullabaloo, ado, tumult, commotion, agitation, restlessness, unquiet, spurt
  4. Fitting – conditioning, adaptation, adjustment, tuning, qualification, capacitation
  5. Spasm – cramp, throes, orgasm, grip, falling sickness
  6. Frenzy – furor, maniacal excitement, fever, rage, homicidal mania
  7. verb: Outfit – accouter, uniform, rig up, turn out, costume, habit, design
  8. Have place – be there, have its slot, belong, go
  9. Equip – furnish, gear, prepare, fix up, clothe, dress, arm
  10. Condition – attune, put in working order, customize, enable, capacitate, supply
  11. Train – drill, exercise, practice, keep one’s hand in, ready, groom, form, lick into shape, rear, raise, fetch up, bring up by hand, breed, cultivate, develop, improve, nurture, foster, discipline, take in hand, break, apprentice
  12. Relate to – apply to, bear on, regard, concern, involve, touch, pertain to, link up with, connect
  13. Interact – interwork, mesh, engage, fit like a glove, dovetail, interlace, intertwine, codepend
  14. Make agree – harmonize, pull together, sync
  15. Equalize – even up, square, level out, balance, compensate, make up for, cancel
  16. Conform – comply, accommodate, bend, meet, yield, take the shape of, adjust to, mold, rectify, correct
  17. Expedite one’s affair – work to one’s advantage, come in handy, be just the thing, fit like a second skin, do the trick
  18. adj.: Hale – hearty, robust, vital, vigorous, strong, stout, sturdy, rugged, lusty, in condition
  19. Eligible – qualified, suitable, acceptable, admissible, worthy, desirable, with voice
  20. Competent – capable, efficient, equal to, up to snuff
  21. Appropriate – proper, correct, seemly, comely, felicitous, happy, well-put, inspired
  22. Just – fair, justifiable, warranted, defensible, due, deserved, merited, meet, good, lawful
  23. Apt – applicable, relevant, pertinent, seasonable, opportune, becoming, well-chosen, pat
  24. Timely – convenient, favorable, auspicious, lucky, providential
  25. Sufficient – enough, ample, substantial, plenty, satisfactory, minimal, hand-to-mouth

I may just switch my day for these entries to Saturday. It seems as though everything happens on Thursdays now, and with Fridays taken up by gardening, somehow they always end up getting posted closer to Saturday morning. But in any case, this week was quite a whirlwind, and it did in fact begin with last Saturday.

Last Saturday I went dress shopping with my girlfriend and her aunt.

I hardly ever do actual clothes shopping, for any reason. Target and Kohl’s are sufficient enough for me, since to my mind, anything that helps me not be naked while looking mildly attractive is acceptable. As evidenced by this plain black shirt from one or the other store that is my favorite for its fitted black plainness:

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Excuse its wrinkles, I fished it out of last night’s laundry pile

And which I still wear despite the gaping holes at the bottom and torn neckline. In public.

But on June 7th, my girlfriend and I are going to attend a friend’s wedding, and the standard of proper for occasions like that are just a teensy bit above my day-to-day one. I needed a real dress, and I needed second opinions.

Luckily, there is a Dressbarn within easy driving distance of both my apartment and my girlfriend’s place. We met up in the dressing room, where my girlfriend slipped over this beautiful little number for me to try, just as a possibility, after several iffy choices of my own:

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Yes it’s hanging from my fan. And yes that is a sleeping bag on the floor, don’t judge, you never know when you might need one!

It’s a gorgeous, deep color of blue, sleeveless, with rouging at the waist, a peep at the chest and the back, and little blue buttons to do up at the nape of the neck. I had passed it over initially, thinking it would look too much like a prom dress, but once I tried it on I was sold. It fits like a second skin, lays formally but flirty, and had everyone in the dressing room, both customers and employees, leaning out of doors to look and praise.

It was also under $50. So if that isn’t a balance of beauty and expense, I don’t know what is.

After that got wrapped in its clean plastic for transport, we braved the fluster of Cross County to look for shoes, weaving through the scramble of Macy’s and down the tumult of the main walkway of shops to see if there were any silver or gold pairs that would go with the dress. While I have more heels than dresses in my closet, the pickings are rather slim currently, and none of them are quite pat with the style.

The only suitable ones we found were $80 at Macy’s. So my girlfriend’s aunt left with me still shoeless, because in the coming week, I’ll be heading back to CT, where Paylesses abound.

And it wasn’t, after all, a waste of a trip. In fact, it pulled together quite conveniently with my girlfriend and my previous plans: to see The Amazing Spiderman 2. We had just enough time to grab wraps from one of the little kiosks along the walkway (since the Panera was one frenzied commotion of a line) and eat them in the car before the 6:25 showing.

The movie was good, or at least merited the money spent on it, which so many movies I end up seeing nowadays don’t.  The highlight of it, for us, was every time Harry Osborn looked like this:

No spoilers! Click the pic and you’ll see by the article it’s even from the trailer.

That homicidal mania, though it lasted all of about ten minutes of screen time, dovetailed so perfectly with one of the characters we roleplay that it made the movie. I could forgive that poor thing any inconsistencies (though I will be clicking instantly as soon as this channel reviews it) if only because Dane DeHaan played quite a capable little punk villain.

This might be a good time to mention my slight addiction to my current roleplay storyline, which I have to believe my girlfriend shares. It’s fair, I think, even justifiable, since it’s like writing and I’m a writing major and therefore any kind of writing where I can get caught up in a world is beneficial to my overall mental state as a writer.

But of course the consequence is we end up with things like this:

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On our computer screens, in our laps, as soon as we got home, for hours, until we completed thirteen full pages of AU text edit. Oh, the glories of being imaginative, awful people.

The next morning we woke up with this on my ceiling:

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Which my roommate quickly killed

In one of those moments where life becomes strangely relevant.

Monday was another class of children at the Children’s Garden, and then, through a lucky set of circumstances, my girlfriend’s mother left the house for three days.

Which meant I drove over as fast as I could and stayed for two nights. We made our middle of the week weekend link up in several ways with roleplay, partly because it seemed like a fun idea and partly because when you discuss the merits of eating burgers versus Greek food you start to get heavy cravings for both in the real world. We had ranch burgers and waffle fries for dinner the first night, delicious chicken kebabs and an iffy store-bought brand of falafel with salad and jasmine rice the next. One day my girlfriend will be with me every night, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that a large part of my excitement for that comes from the quality of the cooking.

We also watched Titanic, because it reminded us of one of our couples and neither of us had seen it in a while. I managed not to cry, but probably only because I have watched it so many times in the past , and used to listen to the soundtrack often enough, that I have the scene order just about memorized. The best part, of course, was curling up on the couch with her to do it. We fit together like a glove and it’s enough just to cuddle up and talk for me to feel happy, not just in the moment but with life overall. It was sad as always to go, even though we already have plans to see each other this coming holiday weekend.

But go I did, back to Bartow and the gardens for more weeding and planting, with a delicious cold cut sandwich in the mansion’s kitchen fridge for lunch from my girlfriend’s provisions.

One beautiful thing about gardening this time of year is, it does lick you right into shape. I wouldn’t say it’s gotten me rugged, exactly, but it’s certainly made my back, legs, and arms stronger, and put my muscles in better condition. By which I mean, gave me decent muscles in the first place:

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Almost like a real bro, am I right?

I know it doesn’t look like much, but trust me, whatever you can’t see bulging under my skin was even less there a few weeks ago. At least now it feels somewhat firm instead of fleshy.

And, you can’t beat the food.

Yesterday I came home with yet more sunchokes, now sitting lovely and dirt-encrusted on my kitchen counter just waiting for me to clean them, chop them, and roast them up:

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Ah, the beauties

I picked them from the full wheelbarrow’s worth I harvested on Monday, some of which are giant and will make many delicious chips:

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Looks awful, but trust me on the deliciousness inside.

That sunchoke recipe I mentioned earlier has become a staple snack, and I will be preparing it again today along with a salad of various greens picked fresh yesterday. Altogether, the rewards of growing food certainly compensate for the work put into it.

 

Word of the Week: Calm

Merriam-Webster:

  1. noun: A quiet and peaceful state or condition
  2. A period or condition of freedom from storms, high winds, or rough activity of water
  3. verb: To become or to cause (someone) to become less upset, emotional, excited, etc.
  4. To become or to cause (something) to become less active, violent, forceful, etc.
  5. adj.: Free from agitation, excitement, or disturbance

Roget’s International Thesaurus:

  1. noun: Composure – serenity, tranquility, soothingness, peacefulness, easy mind, resignation, acceptance, fatalism, quietude, decompression, unruffledness
  2. Unastonishment – unsurprise, apathy, passivity, nonchalance, composedness, sangfroid, inexcitability, expectation, refusal to be impressed, straight face, predictability
  3. Lull – windlessness, doldrums, eye of the hurricane
  4. Moderation – restraint, constraint, control, judiciousness, prudence, steadiness, balance, stability, temperance, sobriety, abstinence, abnegation, mildness, lenity, gentleness, repose
  5. Uniformity – firmness, unbrokenness, seamlessness, constancy, persistence, correspondence, unity, equanimity
  6. verb: Be cool – not turn a hair, tranquilize, set one’s mind at ease
  7. Quiet – pacify, assuage, pour oil on troubled waters, halt, cease, wane, subside, die down
  8. Pacify – conciliate, placate, propitiate, mollify, dulcify, settle, smooth down, pour balm on, take the edge off, take the sting out of, defuse, clear the air
  9. Moderate – hush, still, rest, gentle, rock, cradle, subdue, quell, keep the peace
  10. adj.: Placid – serene, cool, philosophical
  11. Unastonished – aweless, wonderless, blasé, unimpressed, unmoved, cool as a cucumber
  12. Unnervous – strong-nerved, rock-steady, unflinching, unwavering, relaxed, laid-back
  13. Quiescent – quiet, still, hushed, moldering, at rest, sedentary, cloistered, sequestered, isolated, secluded, sheltered, halcyon, untroubled, stolid, even-tenored, calm as a mill pond
  14. Pacific – idyllic, pastoral, soft, piping, quiet as a lamb, restful, orderly, at peace, concordant, bloodless, peacetime
  15. Equable – even, low-key, level-headed, dispassionate
  16. Thoughtless – vacant, blank, empty, fallow, unoccupied, nirvanic, oblivious, quietistic

As you may have noticed, this week’s word is once again late. I’ve been taking it easy this week, so alongside there not being much to write about, yesterday was my day of the month to stay as sedentary as possible in my room and do nothing but watch movies and read books. The pain still hasn’t died down, so today I’m being just as restful, but it’s let up enough at the moment to make typing an okay activity.

Monday saw me back in the children’s garden at Bartow. We had two groups of campers, a kindergarten class in the morning whose members were frankly rather blasé about the whole gardening thing, and then a fifth grade boy scout troop that were the opposite of low-key. Neither group was all that awed by authority, which meant a lot of yelling by parents and by us. The boy scout moms brought along a few younger siblings, so I even got to experience the pleasure of restraining screaming, runaway two-year-olds from throwing bricks and falling into the woodpile while the mothers laughed at their boys’ cute little antics. One of these days, those kids’ necks are going to break, and I can only hope it won’t happen on museum property.

But, they got their gardening done, and in the end went home smiling, which is all you can really ask.

After that I spent a peaceful two days writing in the living room. I found a new space to type, in the rocking chair by the window:

 

Photo on 5-16-14 at 2.34 PM

No of course that’s not still our Christmas tree….

It’s nice there, because you can open the window easily from that side and have some fresh air, and can use the windowsill to hold your cup of tea and saucer of strawberries. I got through a good five or six pages, single-spaced, and finished a chapter that had been giving me trouble, so all in all it was an idyllic middle of the week.

Then, yesterday was what it was. Today we had a class of kindergarteners at Bartow, thankfully an orderly one, and I stayed long enough to help with them before skedaddling. Days like these I wake up fine, but start feeling decidedly bloodless as the day progresses.

So, with that, I’ll end this word off for some more quiet time.

 

 

Word of the Week: Chip

Merriam-Webster:

  1. noun: A small piece that has broken off from something larger
  2. A place where a small piece of something has broken off
  3. A small piece of food
  4. Something small, worthless, or trivial
  5. Something valuable that can be used for advantage in negotiation or trade
  6. verb: To break off a small piece from
  7. To break or come off in small pieces

Roget’s International Thesaurus:

  1. noun: Trauma – wound, injury, hurt, lesion, cut, scratch, gash, puncture, stab, scrape, frazzle, rip, rent, tear, burn
  2. Scrap – tatter, smithereen, shred, snippet, splinter, sliver, morsel, crumb
  3. Flake – flock, floccule, scale, shaving, paring
  4. Lightness – air, feather, down, flue, fluff, fuzz, sponge, cobweb, straw, chaff, dust, cork
  5. Piece – particle, bite, fragment, shard, snack, appetizer, cutting, clip, scoop, chunk
  6. Break – breach, burst, rupture, slash, slice, gash
  7. verb: Injure – hurt, draw blood, bruise, eat away at, skin, rough up, play havoc with
  8. Break – split, snap, crack, fissure

This week’s word is more literal than I usually like to use, but there have been an inordinate amount of chips in my life lately and it felt right. There has also been an inordinate amount of being away from my computer recently as well, leading this post to appear three days late. Sorry, anybody who actually checks for these.

Last weekend saw the end of my girlfriend and my first two years together. We celebrated accordingly. Anyone who’s remotely in the area of Eastchester, NY should head down to this cute little Italian restaurant:

Try for a Thursday night, the line was short for us

Polpettina has a menu flown straight down from the gods. Giant, juicy meatballs (pork, chicken, or beef), penne vodka with just the right amount of sweetness and sass, sea salt french fries that taste like heaven even after you reheat them in your toaster, and eggplant chips coated in tangy salt and luscious honey. And I’m sure their pizza is good too, if you’re not in the mood for pasta. Plus, to drink, they serve this:

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale

I can still taste it….

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, I have discovered, is the smoothest beer imaginable, with a lovely oaky aftertaste. It is the only ale I have tried that tastes better as you swallow it. Unfortunately, it isn’t sold in any liquor store I can find in the NYC area, but it is distributed throughout the city and in restaurants like this. I would recommend eating here if only for the delicious, delicious beer.

After a few games of footsy under the table and a weekend at home with roleplay, horrendously bad movies like this one, and reheated chips of the American and British variety, Monday came. And with Monday, my first day at my new unpaid summer internship – gardening at Bartow-Pell.

Because there are no recent images, have one from their Facebook

The children’s garden at the Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum looks something like this, except with updated fencing, trellises, and already planted. And, of course, with less volunteers. Currently, I’m told there are somewhere around four of us kicking around Mondays, Fridays, and occasional Wednesdays, but so far there’s only been me and one other professional landscaper, along with the director, Lauren.

Monday was eventful, to say the least. The sunscreen in my cabinets had all expired, so my skin got a nice reddening while we took a bunch of fifth graders through the process of planting potato slips, layered compost in three raised beds, and turned the weeds out of a row Lauren is planning to use for corn. I got my first sliver in years (thankfully small) and blistered open wounds into a few of my fingers from shoveling for three hours without gloves.

But it was all worth it. Gardening is intense, but it’s outdoors, and that’s a place I certainly need to get more often. And the endorphin high from pushing wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of compost isn’t exactly trivial.

The day after, I went home to CT for Mother’s Day. My legs felt like they’d rusted to the car seat after the two-hour drive, and it wasn’t until Thursday I could sit down without feeling like I was going to break into several aching pieces along the way, but my dog kindly saved me the trouble of getting up to pet her:

Becka sits on me

Yep, that’s Becka. Sitting on me.

Since I had a doctor’s appointment that Thursday and more gardening that Friday, my family figured it best for me to come up in the middle of the week instead of the weekend, and hit Olive Garden Tuesday night instead of Sunday. If you were raised on Olive Garden like me, and therefore enjoy its version of Italian food, I suggest you go during lunch and lunch only. Their new dinner prices will break you.

And of course, because it’s tradition, my best CT friend and I once again trekked out to Denny’s the next night. Smothered cheese fries. I don’t think I need to say more.

So, Thursday morning saw me at the doctor’s office, then driving back to lovely Riverdale. Needless to say, by the time I kicked open our increasingly swelled wooden front door, it was too late for Word of the Week. And Friday was more gardening.

Friday morning saw a group of kindergarteners in the children’s garden. They were rambunctious little balls of screeching, and I even got my own group of seven to help plant seeds and scream at earthworms. One of them gave me a dandelion at the end, though, so I suppose the cuteness makes up for any misbehaving. Isn’t that why people choose to become teachers?

Then, I laid a bed of wood chips along a quarter of the perimeter, so that it would look nice and presentable for this really prestigious centennial event the mansion held on Saturday. Hopefully it was even enough with the first quarter’s chips to make the attendees happy. I stayed on until around 5, planting raspberries and blackberries, watering, and weeding. After which my muscles were happily not as roughed up as before.

And I got to take home some of these things:

As featured on wisegeek

Sunchokes, or Jerusalem artichokes, do not look like this when you slash them out of the ground with your shovel so that the pesky things from last year won’t keep spreading and out-compete your raspberries and blackberries. They look like balls of dirt and spindly roots. But if you take a never-used foot scrubbing brush in lieu of the vegetable brush you couldn’t find in Stop & Shop and scrape them individually in your kitchen sink, they do eventually come out pink and clean.

Then, you can mince some garlic and add it to a mix of olive oil and sea salt, and toss little one-inch chips of these tubers in it before roasting them to tender deliciousness à la this recipe. They have the same texture as potatoes, but with a bit of an artichoke-like tang.

That was my Saturday afternoon, and hanging over my girlfriend’s house after a drunken Skype invitation was my Saturday night. Sometimes you can tell you love a person from the way you don’t mind letting them hold onto your shirt as you walk down the stairs to bring their equally buzzed aunt a bowl of pasta.

So, that’s the week! Finally posted. All that’s left is…

Happy Mother’s Day to every mother out there, and especially Happy Mother’s Day Mom! Hope you’re all having a good one.

 

Word of the Week: End

Merriam-Webster:

  1. noun: A point that marks the limit of something
  2. The last part of a story, movie, song, etc.
  3. Cessation of a course of action, pursuit, or activity
  4. An outcome worked toward
  5. A share in an undertaking
  6. verb: To reach a specified ultimate rank, situation, or place

 

Roget’s International Thesaurus:

  1.  noun: Motive – reason, cause, source, spring, sake, ideal, principle, ambition, aspiration, inspiration, guiding light, lodestar, impetus, calling, vocation, driving force
  2. Objective – aim, goal, destination, mark, ultimate purpose, mission, target, quarry, reason for being
  3. Fatality – fate, doom, death, bane, final blow, cutoff, apocalypse
  4. Completion – finish, conclusion, termination, close, windup, rounding out, topping off, wrap-up, perfection, culmination, ripeness, maturity, full development
  5. Gain – profit, percentage, earnings, winnings, return, proceeds, fruits, pickings, gleanings, booty, spoils, perks, wealth
  6. Portion – share, interest, part, stake, stock, slice of the pie, allotment, quota, equal share
  7. Limit – extremity, apogee, climax, maximum, peak, summit, pinnacle, utmost, the whole
  8. verb: Put an end to – finish, give the quietus to, dispose of, get rid of, do away with, cut off, take off, slaughter, blow away
  9. Complete – perfect, conclude, terminate, bring to a close, get done, button up, put the lid on, call it a day, round off, cap, give the finishing touches, put the icing on the cake
  10. Cease – discontinue, stop, halt, close the books on, abort, quit, stay, desist, leave off, have done with, knock it off, abandon, draw to a close, hang up, ring off
  11. Result – turn out, come out, fall out, redound, fare, have a happy result, turn out well, come up roses, prove, come about, develop, unfold

 

Yesterday, I closed the books on my fifth year at Manhattanville. One more semester, and I’ll be absolutely finished with schooling.

I can’t say I slaughtered the last few classes of this semester, though. It came up fast, and it still feels like rather than coming to any real conclusion, we all just abandoned our desks for the sake of summer. Publishing trailed off into a series of final project presentations that, while fun, didn’t go very far toward teaching us anything new, or developing any sort of real climax for the course. We talked a bit about publishing, learned very little, and then we went on our way. Poetry topped off with much topping off at a bar in White Plains, The Brazen Fox, which is this one, for anyone who’s traveled the Mamaroneck Ave bar strip:

Just like every other bar on this street, except foxy.

It was pouring that evening, which made driving, finding a parking space (in the City Center garage, in my case, because there was nothing closer), and then sloshing the two blocks to get there exciting. But they make a mean apple martini (ladies’ night $5), and a goat cheese and pear salad that beats out many other dishes of that variety. All in all, it was a relaxing way to cap off the course, but somewhat less than poetic.

In any case, now that’s done with. And as of today, my life has reached yet another, somewhat happier, peak: the end of my first two years spent with my girlfriend.

Never say I don’t do anything sappy for the people I love.

As she might pun, everything has been coming up roses with us, despite my flirting at the start being, apparently, too vague and her penchant for stealing the sheets from me at night.

She’s still my inspiration, and I couldn’t think of a better reason to celebrate May Day than my anniversary with her.

 

 

Word of the Week: Holiday

Merriam-Webster:

  1. noun: A special day of celebration
  2. A day on which one is exempt from work
  3. A period of exemption or relief
  4. verb: To take or spend a holiday

Roget’s International Thesaurus:

  1. noun: Vacation – getaway, time off, week off, month off, paid vacation, personal day, weekend, leave, furlough, liberty, shore leave, day trip, sabbatical
  2. Day off – red-letter day, gala day, festival day, day of festivities, field day, High Holy Day, feast day, mini-break
  3. Absence – nonattendance, departure, running away, fleeing, decamping, bolting, skedaddling, absquatulating, disappearance, hooky, cut, truantism
  4. Celebration – observance, solemnization, commemoration, memorialization, jubilee, revel, rejoicing, ceremony, rite, ovation, triumph, tribute, testimonial, salute, fanfare, dressing ship, high-five, bender, blowout, party
  5. Interim – interval, interlude, intermission, recess, halftime, lull, quiet spell, resting point, plateau, downtime
  6. Pause – rest, respite, suspension, breathing spell, rain-out, stay, playtime, leisure
  7. verb: Vacation – get away from it all, take leave

As most of you are probably aware, this past weekend was Easter Weekend.

Yay google images providing the bunnies up front.

Filled with bunnies and dyed eggs and other pagan symbols all mixed up with crosses and Jesus and pretty church dresses. It was also 4/20, as the memes informed, but despite being back in CT for the weekend, where the roads are longer and more prone to getting smoked on, I didn’t get so much as a secondhand whiff of any action on that front. I did celebrate me some Easter, though, but that will have to wait because first, my parents and I took a little sports holiday to:

Fenway3

You guessed it, anyone who’s a fan of baseball…Fenway!

I may live in the Bronx currently, but I was born and raised in northern CT, right on the border of Mass., which means the Red Sox still have a place in my heart. I’m not a diehard fan of anything sports, but if I have to choose teams, I will always go with my roots. And anyway, who wouldn’t celebrate their first visit to a park so iconic they had to build it up because the public wouldn’t let them tear it down?

To anyone who isn’t a fan of baseball, the great tradition of going to games is not as boring as it sounds. Trust me.

In fact, even baseball games have their share of fans on beer benders screaming at the players, and off the field it’s only a step away from full-on festivities:

Fenway1

On Yawkey Way, right outside the park and inside the security gates, it’s guys on stilts, clowns on unicycles, and a line of restaurants, umbrella tables, and snack stands long and crowded enough to make you believe you’re at a fair. Inside the stadium, there are stands that will sell you spiked hot chocolate for $10. No one goes to a game without having some kind of fun, kiddy variety or adult option.

As for us, we ate ballpark dogs, clam chowder, peanuts out of the shell, and the virgin version of hot chocolate while shivering in the shady part of the stands, giving the great city of Boston its full celebratory due. My dad, who’s the true fan of the family, fed us pointers on both the Red Sox and the Orioles throughout the game, while my mom and I sang Sweet Caroline and Holiday Road with the crowd.

And the Red Sox beat the Orioles, because Doubront had a good day, so altogether it was a beautiful Saturday.

Then came Sunday, putting the “holy” back in holiday.

Back when I was kid, we would celebrate Easter with a multitude of traditions. We’d dye eggs the week before, blue and purple and yellow and swirled, and I’d get a new Easter dress to wear to church. On Sunday morning I’d play handbells during the service, and after it was over, we’d pull out our Easter baskets, Mom finally able to eat a piece of candy after the weeks of Lent. We’d go over my grandparents’ house, where there would be dozens of eggs already hidden in trees, beneath chairs, behind picture frames on the mantle, and my cousin and I would find them all in less than half an hour. We’d have a late lunch of ham and turkey, crowded into the dining room so tight that if my grandpa wanted to leave the table, my dad and I would both have to stand up so he could get past our chairs.

Now, most of those have fallen away. I don’t think I’ve dyed an egg since I left for college, if not longer, and yearly Easter dresses are (thankfully, really) only for kids young enough to outgrow them. Egg hunts are of course a thing of the past, but my cousin is too, now that my aunt lives in Florida and he’s living his own business-y life around the city.

Even the food switched up this year. Because my grandparents are getting older, and our house doesn’t lend itself well to dinners, this Easter Sunday was spent at Cracker Barrel.

If you don’t recognize this sign, there’s no amount of description that can teach you what it means to people who live with these.

As far as restaurants go, Cracker Barrel is a good one to hit for holidays like Easter and Thanksgiving (which we also did, this past year). It serves standard down-home country food of the chain variety – ham platters, turkey platters with gravy, chicken sandwiches, grits as an optional side dish, that kind of thing. And it’s not bad, either.

I miss our old holidays, and I definitely miss my aunt and cousin, but as long as I can see my grandparents somehow, it still feels like Easter to me.

And, luckily, I was able to get back to the Bronx in time for Easter Dinner at my girlfriend’s house. Which meant a feast of Italian courses so delicious it wiped the floor with every bite of food I’d had since New Year’s. Rolled slices of provolone and salami, mozzarella with roasted peppers, stuffed artichokes, spiral ham with sweet and creamy pineapple stuffing, mashed sweet potatoes, and two cakes, a platter of pastries, a pile of cookies, and a fruit tart for dessert. And that wasn’t even all of it. Perfection.

It made having to hide PDAs under the table from her ever-disapproving mother 100% worth it. Did I ever mention how much I love food?

Now it’s back to classes and projects, though thankfully there’s only a week left of that. Then it’s back to hunting for jobs to take me through summer and beyond.

Wish me luck.