Archive for October, 2012

Waiting for Sandy

October 28, 2012

People hereabouts seem to be taking the threat of hurricane-cum-tropical-strom Sandy very seriously.  Events are being canceled, National Guard is on standby, E.’s school and mine have both canceled classes tomorrow.  I would have been heading in to campus for advising hours tomorrow, but we’ve been told to stay home.  So far we’ve seen rain and light winds, but whatever’s going to hit us is expected to hit during the day tomorrow.  We’ve made sure we have food, water, and firewood on hand, just in case anything serious comes of the storm.  We will see what tomorrow brings, though I’m not expecting much more than some heavy rain.

Halloween seems to bring out the freakish weather hereabouts.  Two years ago it was abnormally warm (I broke out t-shirts and shorts for a day); last year we had a snowstorm; this year it’s a hurricane.

Insomnia sucks

October 22, 2012

It’s another sleepless night for me.  I don’t have many of these any more, not like I used to in New York, but they seem to come around once or twice a year still.  I hate it.  There are few feelings quite as awful as being absolutely dead tired and yet absolutely unable to sleep.  At least I don’t have to teach tomorrow (by now I guess I should say “today”).  I’ve done that in the past, so I know I can, but it’s no fun.  I do have to go in and hold office hours for advising and go to a meeting, though, so I can’t just slump.  Think me kindly thoughts of chamomile tea and warm blankets in the mid-afternoon.

A feast in the Golden Hall

October 20, 2012

“’This counsel seems good to me now,’ said Theoden. ‘Let all my folk get ready! But you my guests – truly you said, Gandalf, that the courtesy of my hall is lessened. You have ridden through the night, and the morning wears away. You have had neither sleep nor food. A guest-house shall be made ready: there you shall sleep, when you have eaten.’”

We have surprisingly little evidence to go on for the foods of Rohan, but what hints we have point to a cuisine not unlike that of the northern European peoples the Rohirrim are inspired by: grains, beef and dairy, durable root vegetables, fruits, berries, and honey. To make a contrast with the past several dinners cooked and served in the wild, I tried to imagine a royal feast in Theoden’s hall.

The table for our Rohan dinner

The first course was a simple rye porridge. One of the things I found curious in researching Rohan food is that although there is mention of grain, there is no mention of bread. Porridge is well known in traditional northern European cooking, especially in places where the locally-grown grain is a low-gluten type such as barley or rye.

Rye porridge. The recipe made much less than I expected, so the bowls were not as full as they should have been

The main course was braised beef with roasted root vegetables. The beef was braised for a long time with wine and finely-chopped vegetables, making for very tender and flavorful meat. The root vegetables, a mix of onion, carrot, potato, and turnip, roasted with herbs and a little butter and honey.

Braised beef and roasted vegetables

Dessert was a saffron and cream pancake, the recipe coming from medieval Sweden, served with apple compote.

Pancake for dessert, Scandinavian-style

E. set a wonderful table, as always. She found and printed out images of a gold, garnet, and blue glass Anglo-Saxon brooch to go under our glass plates and give the table a very appropriate touch of color.

Previous Lord of the Rings dinners:

January: A long-expected party

February: Farewell to Hobbiton / March: Supper at the Prancing Pony

April: A rangers’ dinner in the wild

May: At Elrond’s table

June: A Dwarven dinner

July: Of Herbs and Stewed Chicken

August: Dinner in Ithilien

Busy weeks of fall

October 17, 2012

As tends to happen in the first weeks of a new semester, we have gotten very busy lately and I haven’t updated, so here are some highlights from the past few weeks:

We had my most recently-hired colleague at the university and her husband (also now working at the university as an adjunct) over for a very nice dinner.  They are only recently arrived and are still settling into the area.  The next day we spent up in Maine for the annual cider-making.

This past Saturday I chaired a panel at the fall conference of the New England Historical Association which ranged from Romanization in Spain to the status of the Mashpee-Wompanoag tribe in Massachusetts.  All three of the presenters on my panel, it turned out, were presenting conference papers for the first time, but all of them did a marvelous job and we had a very interesting discussion.

On Sunday I started feeling sick quite suddenly.  It got worse on Monday and by Tuesday I was so sick I had to cancel my classes.  Today, Wednesday, I’m feeling much better and I expect to be back to teaching tomorrow.

Last night we felt the tremor of an earthquake.  I didn’t learn the cause until later, but I felt the house shake for a moment as if something had fallen on it.  There are no signs of damage, I’m happy to say.

Swimming

October 1, 2012

The time for swimming in the pond is long over.  A few weeks ago I shifted back to the YMCA pool over in Ipswich.  It has the advantage of being clean and warm, with the trade-off that I have to drive there and share the space with other people.  I usually get a lane to myself, though not always; still, it’s a long way from being the only swimmer in the pond with trees all around me and sky up above.  So far I’ve been generally managing four to five days a week– Monday through Thursday, while E. is at work, and sometimes also Sunday.  I usually go late, finishing just before the pool closes, which brings me home just before E. gets back.  The pool is usually quieter then (sometimes I’m the only one in) and traffic in Ipswich isn’t bad.  I miss the pond, but I’ll be back in it next summer.