Wednesday, December 27, 2017

2017 in Review

As 2018 is about to get itself underway, I find I’m still an accidental resident of Mount Savage, MD.  Accidental in that I never intended to be here and then when I found myself here, it was only supposed to be for a few days. That was just over a year ago.  My neighbors include a couple of giant raccoons, a fearless Momma possum, some rogue deer, and judging from the scratch marks on the deck… a black bear that wants to be a whole lot more friendly than makes me comfortable.  There’s an assortment of dogs and cats and even some humans, too.  I’ve managed to meet a few of them, even some of the people, this past year and one person, Barbara, has transformed from possibly the most negative and prickly woman I’ve ever met into a true and faithful friend.

I’ve only begun to explore my habitat but already found that Mount Savage is one of those historically significant places that no one’s ever really heard about.  Through the convergence of location and natural resource availability, it became a center of industry in the late 1800s and has fame for rolling the steel for the first railroad track ever produced in the United States. It was also a company-owned town for a time when the clay taken from the surrounding mountains produced a uniquely high-quality brick that’s still prized by collectors and those doing period-correct property restorations.  One day I want to find out more and go take some photos of the old brick ovens. I also want to check out the museum now housed in the town’s original one-cell jail built specifically to provide drunks a safe place to sleep it off.

One of the things that kept me from exploring was an accident early in the year where I badly injured my right shoulder. That ‘grounded’ me for several months. With Jack’s efforts as nursemaid, support brace, heating pad, exercise machine, and 24/7 comforter, the breaks and tears and nerve damage of a total dislocation are probably about as healed as they’re ever going to get now and it’s mostly ok.  There are some activities it inhibits, though… Like crocheting and cooking and cutting the dog’s toenails.  Those have become decidedly short-duration undertakings due to the numb fingers they trigger.  I also had to take time off school because I couldn’t get my hand up to the computer keyboard to post in discussions and write all those papers but I’m back at it now and making progress.  A few days ago I had that breakthrough moment where I actually felt competent talking Psychology and that this might be a real viable career choice for my last shot at that sort of stuff.  That was an awesome feeling!

The most exotic place I’ve been this whole year is the County dump.  It’s a unique arrangement here where you have to stop along the way at a specific Payless Drug and buy stickers to put on your trash bags.  They are $1 each and every bag needs one.  If you arrive on site without them, you’ll be ushered the 7-ish miles halfway back to town, or about the same distance on out the road to a different store in another town, to get them.  Just ask me how I know this…

I’m still being a culinary adventurer.  This year’s ‘new to me’ winner foods include quince, Sugar cakes, and Apple Pan Dowdy.  Quince is a fruit that resembles a yellow apple but has a much more perfume-like scent and taste.  I understand (now) that it’s meant to be cooked but when I found some at the grocery store I just bought one to taste and me and the boys ate it raw. I’m intrigued enough to put it in the orchard I’m imagining for my someday place… and Lightning, my resident foodie, found it delicious.  Sugar Cakes are huge, pillowy, cake-like sugar cookies.  Imagine a Lofthouse cookie and a homemade yellow cake had a round pale-faced baby… and you’re sort of close.  They can be frosted when cooled or just sprinkled with a little sugar prior to baking.  Oh, they are yummy! And Apple Pan Dowdy may be my favorite dessert ever.  It is the perfect combination of pie and bread pudding and caramelly baked apples. Where has this been my whole life?  The Sugar Cakes, Apple Pan Dowdy, and several uniquely Pennsylvania Dutch dishes like Slippery Pot Pie and Rivvel Soup are Barbara’s contribution to expanding my gastronomic curiosity.

Gizmo kissed a cat.  And the cat liked it!  Out of all my guys, his herding tendency made me worried about how he’d get on with the cats.  But he loves Crybaby, a yellow-striped tom that’s also part of this motley crew, and Crybaby loves him.  Crybaby actually likes all the boys and works hard to engage them in goofy little games much to his Mommy’s consternation…  Barbara is over-worried one of them is going to pounce “and break his back because they are so big and rough.” Yes, you just heard my eyes roll but I respect her discomfort and regularly call them off.

Plans for 2018 include finishing up the final classes for my BA in Psychology, making my final selection for grad school, and getting things underway for my MA.  My concentration area has been Social Psychology but I’ve enjoyed the Forensics classes so much more that I think that’s where I will focus my graduate work.  My other goals are pretty tightly focused on job and home and community getting adequately situated in all of them.  I also want to get back to taking little adventures and finding delight in the extraordinary details of day-to-day life that exist if I’m purposeful in paying attention to them. And if I can, I hope to sneak in some art and creative writing.  Which brings us to the goal that’s relevant to this blog: When my life isn’t all that interesting, I lose steam.  So… either I’m going to live a blog-worthy life or take the blog down in this coming year.

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