Friday, October 4, 2013

college church :: oxford, ms

Since it's wholly new to me, I'm trying to see as much of the surrounding northern Mississippi area as my schedule allows. So just for grins, this morning I got in my car and drove the opposite way I normally drive on the street at the end of my block (pretty daring, huh?).

Lo and behold, this little guy--College Church--is located down the road, less than one mile from my house. I don't have the words to describe how much I love old churches and graveyards (did you know that graveyards are adjacent to churches, while cemeteries are plots of land where the deceased are buried?). 

"Events of interest include the encampment of these ground by Union troops of General Grant and General Sherman, and the marriage of author William Faulkner. The church is thought to be the model for some settings in Faulkner's novels. The church cemetery contains a number of unmarked Union soldiers' burial sites. The Session's original minutes, dating back to the 1835 organizations meeting, are safeguarded in a local bank."

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Monday, September 16, 2013

mississippi yard bling

I've just relocated from one college town to another; so I'm very used to maroon adornments and paraphernalia that represent my beloved Texas Aggies.

My new zip code, however, offers a certain je ne sais quoithat is difficult to describe. Much different than the "less is more" approach to which I've grown accustomed, people in Oxford take a "let's make the front of our house look like a birthday package" approach to curb appeal.

(something tells me any self-respecting(?) guys who live in these houses don't have much say with regard to outdoor decor)

Here are some pictures I shot--literally, in about a 3 min time span--on two different streets in my neighborhood.

My little house--bare of curls, Qs, zigs, and zags--sticks out like a sore thumb.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

fall decor: the takeover

This is why I can't have anything nice.

I pull out something that's been packed away for a year, and ... Bang! Pow!

Total and complete feline takeover.
It's like she's thinking, "Yeah, this will work. Now go make me a sammich."

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

critters. i haz em.

So the move to Mississippi has been interesting. Something very "new" every day. Can't remember if I've said it here before, but it's insanely nuts how different two states that are so geographically close (e.g., Texas and Mississippi) can be.

Take, for instance, critters.

In College Station, TX, I had snakes, rabbits, butterflies, deer, armadillos, and wasps. That's pretty much it. Mississippi, however, has already shown me chickens with rats in their mouths, fireflies (LOVE these cuties), snakes (different than my TX snakes), more roaches than any human should ever have to observe, birds I haven't yet ID'd, a very random & ugly lizard, and ... Phil.

Phil is a groundhog.

He lives in my backyard. And he's cray. I love him. He doesn't love me.

Edited: OH MY GOODNESS. I just realized these two photos don't look like the same creature. I think I have two Phils.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

pasta in {mia nuova cucina}

The boxes are unpacked (well, most of 'em, anyway). How should I commemorate the occasion? By hangin' out in the kitchen, of course. And since I was Italian in a previous life, the menu item had to be pasta.

Pasta Ponza. One of my fave Giada De Laurentiis (see Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California) go-to recipes. It's fast, has great flavor, and is easy peasy. If you're wanting a hearty meat
dish, this recipe isn't for you. If you're wanting a bowl of ziti with which to curl up on the couch with a glass of wine, you'll be satisfied.

Pasta Ponza 
Butter for greasing
1 cups red cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 cups yellow cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained [I drain but don't rinse mine; I like the small kick of vinegar]
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
1/2 cup Italian-style seasoned breadcrumbs
1 pound ziti or other short tube-shaped past [I prefer a rigate pasta, even though I didn't have any tonight]
1 1/4 cups Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter an 8x8-inch glass baking dish [or in the case of ... ahem ... of someone who can't find her 8x8-inch glass baking dish, use another shallow dish!]. Set aside.

Place the tomatoes, capers, 1 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper in the prepared baking dish. Toss to coat.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the tomato mixture. Drizzle the top with olive oil, and bake for 30-35 minutes until the top is golden [DO NOT under-bake ... if anything, go a little on the brown side; otherwise, the mixture will be mushy. Not good]. Cool for 5 minutes

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

Place the pasta in a large serving bowl. Spoon the tomato mixture onto the pasta. Add the cheese and toss well. Thin out the sauce with a little pasta water, if needed. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately [as is often the case, I think it tastes better the next day!].

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Friday, August 16, 2013

a new {mississippi} attitude

Ohhhh, Patti.
She is me (minus the 80s hair, 80s pumps, and serious-as-shit 80s dancing).
No words for how happy this vid makes me.

I've longed to blog about the story of how I arrived here, in this what the heck am I doing? place, Oxford, MS. But when "it" first started happening, I didn't have the stomach to put coherent thoughts to my terror. And then "it" was a done deal, and I didn't have the heart to acknowledge "it" (I must have cried myself to sleep every night for a month). And once I finally hit the road, I found myself computer-less (when the state of Texas owns your MacBook and you have to return it to its rightful owner, blogging on the iPhone and/or iPad just doesn't provide enough appeal to bang out the words you're feelin'). 

I'm thinking today is as good a place to start as any.

Over the past year, I began to process what love is. I have also learned what love is not. Some people are mean. And they let you down. But many, many others are special. Those are the blessings that make life a hoot--the people (and critters) who hug you, bring you cakes, drive you 'cross country to move into a house you've never laid eyes on, pray with (and for) you, press their pink noses & furry paws against your cheek, eat good Mexican food with you "one last time," send you sweet things in the mail (just because), allow you to love on their babies, sit in emergency clinics by your side, put a beer in the freezer for you so it'll be extra icy, take roadies to see you, send you heart-warming texts ... the angels who remind you that you're loved, and that "every little thing is going to be alright" (to borrow a phrase from a text I received today).

I wasn't sure what I was going to say in this blog entry. What I've ended up with certainly wasn't it. I thought about chronicling some of the highlights (e.g., the Jim Beam display at a gas station in Louisiana) of my trip over from Texas (ahh, my beloved). I thought about making a top 10 list of the things in my neighborhood that make me laugh. I even considered a discussion of my shower that turned on this morning (without me in it). 

But those can wait for another day. Today Patti gets the final word ....

Somehow the wires uncrossed, the tables were turned
Never knew I had such a lesson to learn
I'm feelin' good from my head to my shoes
Know where I'm goin' and I know what to do
I tidied up my point of view
I got a new attitude.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

that's me

It's another one of those days.

I'm not a mother. 
Probably never will be. 
But I'm a woman phenomenally.

From one of my very, very favorites, Maya ....

Phenomenal Woman
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,

It's in the reach of my arms,
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me.
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them,
They say they still can't see.
I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun of my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
The palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

—Maya Angelou

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Friday, May 10, 2013

i teach, therefore i drink

Teacher Appreciation Week

When did that start; and how have I missed said occasion before now? Sounds like an excuse for folks to toss a platitude or two (and maybe even a coffee mug) at teachers--all in an attempt to show support.

Funny. I've never been the beneficiary of Teacher Appreciation Week. Alas, my exorbitant educator's salary and subsequent insanely adventurous lifestyle are all the thanks I'll ever need. 

Other notable appreciation weeks: Grave Digger Appreciation Week, Stun Gun Dummy Tester Appreciation Week, Theme Park Janitor Appreciation Week, Toll Booth Operator Appreciation Week, and the Guy Who Scoops Up Roadkill Appreciation Week.

So, I guess ... to all of my friends and colleagues who were insane enough to take on careers in education: Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

Not bitter much,
Another grateful educator