Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Happy 2nd anniversary :)

While I was visiting Boston last weekend (look out for upcoming posts about MA Trips #3 and #4 for more details about my trips), I went to see a late night showing of Conan O'Brien Can't Stop. I bought some popcorn and a glass of wine, and settled into my seat for a fantastic movie about the darker days of my favorite late night television host. After the movie, a cute guy sitting next to me struck up a conversation about the film and politely asked me if I wanted to go get a drink with him.

My undergraduate dream come true! When I was in college, this was my definition of a "fairy tale" romance. A chance meeting at the movie theater, which could then lead to a whirlwind courtship full of video rentals and dessert at Finale. A fateful meeting while in the checkout line of a grocery store could lead to sharing my recipes with a new boyfriend. (And in fact, I used to smile at every guy standing with me in the lines of the Commonwealth Avenue Shaw's grocer on the off chance it would inspire them to talk to me. Oh younger Sarah...you were so silly.)

Of course the irony is that I know now that this version of a fairy tale is really not a fairy tale at all. I know now that real fairy tale romances are not made of chance encounters with people who do not know you, but moments spent with the one person who knows you and loves you. I continue to be so glad (and slightly amazed) that this person is David.

So for all of our fairy tale moments, and those yet to come...happy, happy second anniversary David :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Grandmom Trush

My great-grandmother Trush passed away on Wednesday, at the remarkable age of 98. Sophie Trush was a woman that truly sparkled - captivating us all with her sass, her stories, and her ridiculously good Polish food. Some of my favorite memories childhood memories are from our times together.

My family and I spent many summers and holidays on the Trush farm in Sassamansville, PA with my great-grandparents, and my grandmother lived there for several years even after my grandfather passed away. Part of the adventure of visiting them (as a little kid, anyway) was the six hour car ride on the PA Turnpike. One winter, it snowed so badly as we were driving that the Turnpike shut down and we were stranded on the side of the road for several hours! To combat the misery of spending six hours (or more) in the car, my sister and I would get to make toy boxes full of things from home to entertain us during the car ride. I recommend this trick to all parents traveling with small children! Having our toys with us was a nice thing for my parents I'm sure, but the best part about the boxes for us was getting to decorate them. My dad would bring home computer paper and computer paper boxes from work, and we would use the paper to cover the boxes and then color on the outside. My parents still have two of these boxes (one of my sister's and one of mine) in their attic somewhere.

My great-grandmother told the best stories, mainly involving what her life was like when she was younger. For many years, she worked as a waitress in a diner not far from the farm, and she had a lot of really entertaining stories about the people she served and the girls she worked with! She also told a lot of stories about surviving the Great Depression, and at times, I don't think she was convinced it was not still happening. She did not trust banks to store her money, and as a result, started storing her money under the mattresses of the beds in the house. When her oven was broken and my dad needed some money to buy a replacement part from the store, she told him to get it from between two mattresses. When he flipped the mattress over, he found tens of thousands of dollars in cash! My father then followed her around the house as she revealed all of her hiding spots (and then he promptly took her to the bank). Thank goodness no one had ever tried to rob her while she was living alone - they would have made off with her entire life savings!

I also loved her stories about her marriage to Stephen Trush, my great-grandfather. My great-grandparents were an example of a couple in love throughout their entire marriage. They were definitely the quintessential cute older couple that all of us younger married people aspire to be when we retire. After my great-grandfather died in 1995, she still always talked about "her honey" and what it was like to fall in love with him. I loved hearing those stories, because they kept his memory alive and brought the sparkle back to her eyes.

My sister and I had many adventures on their 40 acres of farm land. We learned how to shoot a coffee can with a shotgun and mow the lawn with a tractor. We played pretend, swung from the tire swing with the neighborhood kids, and picked blueberries. We would walk to the post office with my mom and dad sometimes to pick up Grandmom's mail (maybe this was the beginning of my absolute love for receiving mail?), and played a lot of games of hide and seek outside. Well...mostly outside anyway. During one game, Jenn and I cheated and hid indoors and then watched through the windows of the farmhouse as Mom searched for us outside. (Sorry Mom, this still makes me laugh every time I think about it.)

The trips to the farm also involved visiting the local sights of Sassamansville and Philadelphia. Sassamansville has some really great things going on (like this, and this), but I loved going into the city. I was convinced I was going to move to Philadelphia when I got older. It seems my 8 year old self was pretty insightful! My younger self had two goals for her life in Philadelphia: I wanted to have an apartment by the art museum (the ones I had picked out as a kid turned out to be out of my price range) and a membership to the zoo (this I did have for three years). Though I did not end up wanting to live in Philadelphia permanently, many of the things I love about the city are things I learned from my dad. (To name two - there is a great Italian ice place in South Philly on 12th and Shunk Streets, and a hole in the wall family-owned deli where you can buy Polish kielbasa.)

I have some very funny memories of my grandmother, and many of them revolve around food. My grandmother was an incredible cook when it came to cooking Polish food (the food of her heritage), but when she cooked or served anything else, it was disastrous. If you say the words "farm", "Easter", and "ham" to anyone in my immediate family, all of us will immediately cringe at the memory. I am not sure what she did to that ham, but it was crazy horrible. Everyone at the table raved about how good it was as we all struggled to swallow it. She also had the worst orange juice I have ever tasted in my life (I am not sure if it was the brand of orange juice or the amount of time it lasted in her fridge), and she always wanted to serve it to Jenn and/or me at all times. Jenn and I used to both take the orange juice (usually because my mom or dad told us to be nice and drink some), and then take turns transferring our juice into the other's glass. (Or maybe I just did that.) She also loved when we took her out to eat at Bonanza steakhouse. That was a really big treat for her, and we had a lot of fun going there (even though that food was also not the finest food one could find in Sassamansville).

Perhaps one of the funniest things about Sophie Trush was her adoration for Jerry Springer. Grandmom Trush firmly (and not sarcastically) believed that Jerry Springer helped those people that came onto his show, and she never missed an episode. It was mind-boggling. My favorite part was that she would chant along with the studio audience when they were saying "Jerry, Jerry, Jerry" and encourage us all to chant too. She wanted to cheer him on, because she felt truly bad for these people caught up in "such a horrible mess." She also reminded Jenn and me that we should always date nice men, so that we wouldn't "end up like one of the girls on Jerry's show with their trampy dresses and hair all unwashed. They are not young ladies!"

I am truly grateful to have had such a delightful grandmother, and to have so many wonderful memories to remember her by. David and I will celebrate Grandmom Trush's life and our memories with her with the rest of my family at her funeral mass on Monday.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Trip to MA #2 - visiting Brian and Jane

Over Memorial Day weekend, we went to see Brian and Jane at their home in Westborough, MA. It was a really nice visit. Originally, Brian and Jane were supposed to come to Ithaca, but it ended up being much less complicated for us to go visit them. As a joke, I began composing a list of "demands" that would need to be met for us to come visit while David was on the phone with Jane: dinner at PF Changs, an Easter egg hunt (David made an Easter egg hunt when Jane and Brian came to visit us for Easter the year before), Brian making us a taco dinner (he makes homemade taco shells that are very delicious), and playing a game of Risk (this was David's demand that he added to the end of my list). I am happy to report that Brian and Jane met all of my diva demands and then some, and we had a fantastic visit. (I will note that we would have had a fantastic visit just seeing them, but the demands being met just made it over-the-top crazy fun.)

On Saturday morning we had our Memorial Day weekend egg hunt. Jane did such a good job with it! The only eggs left at CVS were incredibly cute - David's were sports-themed, and mine were shaped like animals. Though I am normally completely oblivious to my surroundings, I would like to state for public record that I found all of my eggs before David did! Here is a picture of us with our baskets at the end of the hunt. David is holding skis in this photo because Brian gave David his skis and David was very excited about them.

One thing that I did not demand beforehand but became a daily demand once I arrived in Westborough was going to Dairy Queen. I LOVE DQ. LOVE IT!! I used to go all the time when I lived in Butler, and it is still my favorite place to get ice cream. (Some people might even say I am slightly obsessed. My dad once asked if I come to Butler to see him, or to get a M&M Blizzard.) Ithaca does not have a DQ, and so whenever I travel to somewhere that has one, I feel compelled to take in as much DQ as I can eat. Jane and Brian live right down the street from a DQ, and we went every night. It was spoonfuls of happiness.

We will see Jane (and maybe Brian) when we visit Ken and Carol in Lenox, MA in two weeks (MA trip #3). We will finally get to see Ken and Carol's new house, and we will attend Kate and Chris's wedding at Mount Holyoke College. It will be a fun, but busy trip!

All planted!

After several long hours of work, we finally got everything planted in The Danger Zone.

Here is a photo of our door. We decided to use the metal fencing for the door because we did not have enough bright orange hazard fencing left. I think it is going to work out well - it is certainly much more sturdy!

We got up at 5:30 am on Tuesday and got to work. We first had to finish making the garden beds and secure our door, and then we started planting all of our seedlings (that were not in the best shape because we had to wait so long to plant them). You will notice in the picture above that David has covered his head and legs with dirt - the dirt was his makeshift bug shield. The mosquitos were out in full force that morning, and David was their meal of choice. While the bugs seemed more content to crawl into my eyes than to bite me, David was covered head to toe in bug bites (and still is)! We were also fighting off these tiny black bugs that were keen to eat the leaves off of our seedlings that we had just planted! (Apparently eggplant is their absolute favorite.) We lost a lot of our leafy crops to bugs last year, and so we promptly went to Agway and bought a small spray bottle of pesticide to protect our vegetables from being maimed by these tiny black destroyers. (Sorry Cornell, this garden will not be completely organic this year...)

Here is a list of what we planted in each row:

1 lettuce/carrots/black-tipped lettuce/microgreens

2 big bertha tomatoes/thai basil/grape tomatoes/basil/heritage tomatoes/oregano/celebrity (striped) tomatoes

3 Eggplant/thyme/cajun pepper/tarragon/bell pepper/rosemary

4 sugar snap peas/cucumbers/peas/pickling cucumbers/lavender

5 white swiss chard/broccoli/red swiss chard/sage

6 mustard greens/collard greens/bush beans/cilantro

7 onions/dill/brussel sprouts

top of 8/9 sunflower/corn

8 squash

9 pumpkin

Here is a picture of rows 2 and 3 (the rows that had the most seedlings, which makes for the best picture at this point).

Some of our plants came with fun names this year, like "Big Bertha", or my personal favorite, the "Mr. Stripey" heirloom tomato.