Tuesday, November 21, 2006


It's been a while since I posted about anything I've read. Frankly, I've been in a bit of a slump. I've been reading, but slowly.

In the last couple of months, I have finished "Home Cooking" and "More Home Cooking" by the late, very-missed Laurie Colwin. I've probably read these books 20 times by now. They are collections of essays Colwin wrote for Gourmet Magazine (mostly), and if you love food you must have them. They are gems.

I've also been reading "Ascending Peculiarity: Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey". I didn't know anything about Gorey, so it's a bit of a revelation. I really had no idea that he died in 2000, I honestly thought he was a Victorian era illustrator. Yes. I am a dope in most aspects of my life!

I'm also reading the new edition of Janet Szabo's
"Aran Sweater Design". Yes. I am a geek. I lie in bed and read about cable crossings and gauge. Don't you?

And last night I finished "Cross Country: Fifteen Years and Ninety Thousand Miles on the Roads and Interstates of America with Lewis and Clark, a Lot of Bad Motels, a Moving Van, Emily Post, Jack Kerouac, My Wife, My Mother-in-Law, Two Kids, and Enough Coffee to Kill an Elephant" by Robert Sullivan. What a great book! It's about pretty much what the title says: driving across the country with family, odd details about Lewis and Clark, the history of the U.S. interstate system and the coffee cup lid, a bad luck story about a moving van, and more obsessions than should really be crammed into a 256 page book. It's funny, smart, and incredibly interesting.

When my brother Ken and I were 9 or 10, my dad drove us from Michigan to Montana to visit his parents. In a pickup truck. One of us sat up front, one of us rolled around the back (yes, at least there was a cap). We had a two person tent (which my dad made, from a kit, himself!) which my dad and I slept in, and Ken slept in the truck (his choice). I remember fried spam, crummy campgrounds, and severe boredom. Good times! Seriously. I would totally subject small children to the experience and I would willingly sleep in a tent again to do so (I wouldn't otherwise). I remember that KOA campgrounds were the worst (they put us next to the trash dump) and National Parks were the cleanest, even if you had to pee in an outhouse. According to my dad, one night we were surrounded by the KKK (my brother is black): he described it as a bunch of headlights in the night and the park ranger apologizing in the morning. They weren't exactly menacing. I remember looking up one night and understanding why it's called The Milky Way.

We went across the country again when we were about 13, this time with my stepmother, Linda and a pop up. I don't remember what they were driving, I can't imagine it was the pickup again. Maybe they had the mini-van by then. I don't have as much nostalgia for that trip, mainly because Ken was in a bad way.

I drove to Seattle with my cat in a Drive Away. And not much money. I drove through the Badlands screaming Pearl Jam. Nope. I wasn't cool enough for Nirvana. I drove home again, with the same cat, a couple of years later when my life fell apart. I think it was on that trip that I went into Walmart for the first time.

I wouldn't trade those trips for anything. This country is huge. "Cross Country" is an approximation of the experience, but only a slight one.

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