Friday, October 16, 2009

Snow, Ramen and Interviews.

It snowed today! It came down lightly for a couple hours. Although it melted on contact, it was still interested to see snow in mid-October.

Kerry and I watched Ramen Girl a few nights ago, and I got the craving for some good noodles. We used to have the most delicious bowls of noodles at Mt. Fuji in Little Rock, and haven't found any good places for them yet up here in Massachusetts. So I decided to make my own. The noodles that come in instant packages of Maruchan Ramen aren't that bad (the horribleness comes from the spice packet). And since making fresh noodles would require making the pasta, frying it, and then drying it out, that probably wouldn't be much healthier. So I merely made my own broth as follows:

1. I soaked a box full of Shitake mushrooms in about seven cups water for thirty minutes.
2. I turned the stover burner on medium and added some salt.
3. I chopped some chicken up into little bits and started frying them in a skillet with sesame oil. I also hard boiled two eggs and chopped up five green onions.
4. Once the mushrooms and water started simmering, I dumped in the chicken and the green onions. I let it all simmer together for about ten minutes.
5. In the meantime, I peeled the eggs and chopped them in half lengthwise.
6. I tasted it and found it lacking for my current mood. It tasted like the udon noodle broth at Pei-Wei in Little Rock, which is good--I just wanted more flavor. So I added a little chicken bouillon.
7. Finally, I brought the broth to a good boil. I threw in four packs of instant noodles, discarding the spice satchets that came with them. I boiled it for three minutes, throwing in the eggs for the last ten seconds, and immediately took it off the heat.
8. Kerry and I ate big, giant bowls of it. It was delicious.

After supper, I checked my email to discover that I've been invited for an interview at Simmons GSLIS West. Tomorrow I need to call the Associate Dean to set it up. I might be a graduate student in January! Whoohoo!

Monday, October 12, 2009

College, the Boiler, Potluck, Takeout, Vehicles, and the Mall.

Last Thursday, I drove to Boston in the morning to sit in on a class at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at Simmons. It was interesting--I learned that I'm going to have to shift into the positives research methods of the social sciences and forget the relativist research methods I used in the liberal arts. I also got a crash course in the academic journal publishing "industry." After class, I at a student center burger, met with admissions, asked my last questions, and put in my appilcation. If my recommendation letters make it in time, I'll possibly be eligible for spring admission!

After driving back home, which literally took half as long as driving to Boston in rush hour, we found out what was wrong with our heating system. When the owner told us to turn the knob on the boiler fifteen seconds every week, she apparently meant just to barely twist it until you could hear water hissing through...not turn it all the way. So I had flooded the system. It was an easy enough fix, and now we have heat!

On Friday, I made some Cuban black bean soup. I used orange bell peppers and added some grated carrots so that it would be a black-and-orange Halloweeny soup. Kerry's coworkers came over, bringing ginger chicken kabobs, chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, beer, and wine. We ate, drank, and made merry.

On Saturday evening, I was really looking forward to eating more soup for supper, but Kerry had eaten it for lunch while I ate ginger chicken. She couldn't exactly eat the ginger chicken for supper, so we oredered Chinese take-out (a big step for us). I had a whole quart of fried rice! A fourth of a gallon! For five bucks! It was awesome.

If I get admitted to college in the spring, I'm going to start commuting in January. I'm going to get as many classes as I can scheduled in South Hadly at GSLIS West. I can get there in half the time it takes to get to Boston even though it is twice as far away, and the drive is beautiful. Whether I'm going to be commuting the sixty miles to South Hadly over nice roads in the snow or the thirty miles to Boston over the worst roads ever in the snow, I don't fell comfortable doing it in my light-as-a-feather, rear wheel drive Sonoma. It is asking to die. So I'll be taking the Taurus.

That would leave Kerry with the truck to commute to wherever she's going. UMASS is only right down the street, but sometimes she works other places as well. Whereas over the past years I have developed an intuitive understanding of how to use an old pickup truck's brakes on wet, hilly roads, she hasn't had the virtue of such a terrifying education. It'd be better if she didn't, so I'll be driving the Saturn back to Massachusetts after our Thanksgiving holiday in Arkansas. I'll test the endurance of the theoretically broken but possibly OK transmission, and then Kerry will have a good vehicle for driving on snow in the wintertime as well.

Out weekend ended yesterday when we picked up Meagan in Boston and went to the Natick Mall. We ate burgers, then looked at clothes, a tea store, a lego store, a board game store, and then found out rather abruptly that the mall closes at six on Sundays. So we went to Target and then back to Meagan's. We discovered that Meagan has...a...kotatsu! We sat around the kotatsu chatting and all was good.

Kerry is actually off today we well, so I guess the weekend isn't over. \o/

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Big E

Last night, Kerry dragged me into Western Massachusetts for what I think was the New England states' equivalent of a state fair. The drive took a little over an hour, and a couple miles before we got the the actual exposition, we started passing institutions and businesses who were pimping out their parking lots for five bucks. We decided to park in one because a) it was cheaper and b) it seemed like it would take hours to get through the long line of cars chugging toward to official ten dollar public parking area.

I'd never seen anything like it. We walked through gate seven (I think there were eleven), and right off the bat I got to see my first mechanical orchestra thing (it seemed more historic than entertaining). Kerry and I wandered around for an hour or so. The rides didn't seem all that impressive--although I don't think we saw them all. We were too busy looking at food. There was the standard fair fare as well as more New Englandy things--lobsters, steamers, clam and crab cakes, veggie stands, bison and elk burgers, and so on. I got a giant smoked turkey leg and Kerry go a gyro. Then we sat down for a bit to watch some acrobats and contortionists.

After we had thoroughly ravaged our food, we wandered around some more. We found a small craft city that was a bit like a mini-Branson. I bought some oils for my oil burner, we found a local candle maker, and I wandered into a forge where blacksmiths were making nails. They should have been making knives. :/

After mini-Branson, we explored a row of historical buildings and found where every Northeastern state had it's own exhibition building. We went into Massachusetts's and Rhode Islands before exiting to find ourselves in the middle of a Mardi Gras parade. ??? Anyway, I waved my hands like a little girl to catch Kerry some beads.

After Mardi Gras, we meandered our way out, stopping to see some James Bond cars, some alpaca-fur parapharanalia, and hot-tubs.

Good times.