We had our first real snowfall in something like 700 days, so naturally we had to get out there and get some sledding in. I sanded and waxed the rails on our wooden sled, dug out the car, and we headed over to the local community college to meet up with the Geblers and get some runs in.
Greased Lightning did not disappoint. I had an envious kid ask me if our fast wooden sled steered; I told him to hit an antique store and get one for cheap.
On my third run or so I ran into a jump someone made, and the sled stopped while I kept on going. Laughing, I picked myself back up and walked back up the hill. Later I realized that landing on the snow had broken the zipper on my jacket and shredded several of the down pockets at the bottom, as well as popped one of the lenses out of my glasses that were in the pocket.
A few runs later, Finn drove our plastic sled directly into a tree and gave herself some mild abrasions on her chin. We returned home to get some hot chocolate and attend to the patient. I went online and found The North Face Renewed, where they repair and re-home used gear. I got a replacement jacket for $100, which is half of what a new Patagonia is going for (and from what I’ve read those don’t hold up very well). I’ve had this jacket for (5? 6?) seasons and it’s been great, so I figure it will be the new work jacket.
The St. Mary’s County Oyster Festival has been a tradition Jen and I have upheld since the earliest days of our courtship; the first time we went together was the first time I met her parents. Our previous visits have been chronicled here, and it’s one of the yearly events I look forward to with the girls—partially because of the event, and partially because of the food. Southern Maryland cooking is a unique little outlier, and I look forward to fried oysters and St. Mary’s County ham with anticipation.
It was, then, with some unhappiness we found ourselves without any ham. There were a ton of people there, and a wide variety of oysters prepared in different ways, but we walked from one side of the fair to the other looking for a sandwich or a platter without success. Apparently the local grocer who used to make it and supply it to the fair went out of business? The price of oysters has gone up somewhat, which made me glad I’d withdrawn $200 from the ATM and not the $100 I originally intended to, but they were just as delicious as I remember—there’s something specific about the breading used in St. Mary’s County that is better than anywhere else we’ve tried. We tried smoked oysters, served with gouda, bacon, and onion, and Finn and I found them delicious while Jen didn’t like them. We also tried a quartet of fried Oreos, which were good but heavy on shortening.
The rest of the fair was much the same as years past, although the carnival rides are gone, replaced with a huge craft beer tasting tent and more vendors. We brought Hazel with us for obvious reasons, and she did very well walking through the fair—but I suspect that was also aided by the fact that she’s got the bonnet back on: her right ear has opened back up.
When we left the fair we headed back to Bob’s house and visited for a little while before taking him out for some dinner. By the time we got home, we were all stuffed and about ten minutes away from falling asleep.
I stuck my old Nikon 1.4 manual lens on my Fuji XT-10 today and set it up for focus peaking so I could have some fun with a camera I don’t drag around anymore. Hazel was kind enough to sit for a picture.
To the beautiful lady I married, and for what we made together.
It’s been a couple of years since we last had gallettes. I always look forward to Jen making them, but they are admittedly a multi-hour event since a single iron only produces a single gallette every few minutes. They are also known to those from the southwestern PA town as New Year’s Day cakes, and the time investment explains why this is usually a once a year event.
For years Jen has been using the recipe handed down from her grandmother on a stained 3 x 5 notecard, and for years she’s heard from her dad that her Aunt Louise made the best gallettes he ever tasted. Figuring that recipe had died with Aunt Louise and all the other Belgian immigrants from that area, she stuck with the recipe she’d been given.
In the last year, we’ve been through almost every inch of her Dad’s house, from the back corners of the attic to the crawlspace under the floorboards. We’ve probably read through and organized every scrap of paper in the house in an effort to organize his life again. It got so that we could speed-sort envelopes based on their color, weight and size. And the amount of paper we wound up
throwing out recycling was immense. Contractor bags full of paper, boxes of books, enough to fill dumpsters—40 years of not just one life lived, but the lives of the whole family. Everything they’d collected and stored and forgotten about. We’ve boxed up the stuff worth keeping and tossed the rest.
So it was with surprise that Jen found a folded, yellowed piece of paper on top of my extension cords as she was putting something into the back of the CRV one day at her dad’s. At first she thought it had fallen out of one of the multiple tool boxes I had packed for the day’s work and nearly ignored it. The door was nearly closed when something told her that paper was worth a second look, so she picked it up to examine it and discovered a recipe for gallettes written in an unfamiliar hand. She knew immediately she’d “found” Aunt Louise’s recipe as given to her by Mrs. Bertiaux, the daughter of one of the original Belgian immigrants brought to the town to work in the glassworks. Jen said she literally looked around behind her to see who could’ve put it there.
Saturday afternoon she followed the new recipe’s increased ingredient list and more complicated instructions to create a fresh batch of galettes. And I’m here to tell you, these gallettes are amazing. So much more flavor, a lighter texture, just incredible all the way around. I’ve been trying not to sneak into the kitchen and eat them all myself, but it’s been very challenging. It’s so good I dusted off my eBay account and set up an alert for another gallette iron so we can do two at a time.
I told Jen I have no idea where that scrap of paper came from or how it got there, but I think it was meant to find its way home to our house.
(thanks to Jen for filling in the details in this post).
Wow, look at that. Fifteen years ago this week I started demoing the old exam room in preparation for a renovation; I think it was this same day Jen came in and told me she’d just gotten a positive result on a pregnancy test.
I’ve been using a cast-off MacBook Pro from work for email since before the pandemic; I have one good machine cobbled together from multiple out-of-service 2013 Retina models—this one has a drive from one machine, a replacement battery from another, and a screen from a third. It’s serviceable for what I’m doing on it, mainly email, photo selection/cataloguing, and other basics. But I’m stuck at OS 10.14 on this machine and I’d really like to upgrade to the latest version for security and modern features. It can’t talk to my iPad, which kind of sucks. It suffers from random 1-5 second freezes. There are some applications I can’t run anymore.
I think it’s time to upgrade my personal system here, given that the last truly new MacBook I bought was back in 2011, funded partially by the sale of my previous laptop. I’m looking at something ligher and slimmer (and cheaper) than a true MacBook Pro, which points at a MacBook Air: They’ve just updated the model to the new M2 chip and it goes head-to-head with the 13″ MBP with only a few minor omissions that I don’t care about at all. I’m waiting for a large expense report check to come in from work, and when that does, I’m going to pull the trigger.