Friday, March 29, 2013

Pre-Easter Treats

"Mom says the Easter baskets might not get here in time..." my sister trailed off as she analyzed my response.

I suppose that's the risk you take when you order Easter baskets online a few days before the big holiday. In anticipation of no chocolates to enjoy on Easter, Grandma and I stopped at a chocolate shop on the way home from a hike to get our sugary fix. After chomping through a bag of sponge candy and a bag of coconut filled eggs, we giggled in the car. Realizing we hadn't gotten Easter candy for anyone else, we polished off the sponge candy to get rid of the evidence. The rest of the coconut eggs we placed on the dining room table as decoration.

An empty bag once filled with sponge candy
and the remainder of the coconut eggs

It Pays to Know Someone

The Gateway Building, initially viewed as an exciting beacon of hope for the ESF community, slowly transformed into a forbidden world as the impressive building went unused for months. Finally, after a ridiculously long wait, the conference spaces are seeing their first large-scale events, and students are frequenting the new cafe. The upper level of the building which will house administrative offices still has some work to be done. The main hallway running the length of the second floor is filled with stacked chairs and tables waiting to be put in their proper place.

Some employees who will be moving in to the building already have key cards to access this area. It is times like these when it pays to know someone who can offer a sneak preview of these largely unseen spaces. Having been the only one in my social circle to have set foot on the green roof feels pretty cool. The green roof is pretty small with limited seating options which is a bit disappointing, but it appears to borrow several design elements from the High Line in New York City, which is pretty cool.
Green roof facing the Dome

Green roof facing Sadler

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Old Bag Lady

College students are often enticed to attend certain campus meetings or events by offering them snacks or refreshments. This is usually a very effective ploy to increase attendance numbers. Apparently this method can also recruit some less savory characters into these sometimes very small and intimate gatherings.

Today for instance, I attended a student run meeting to discuss different career options as an engineering major. I am not an engineer myself, but my boyfriend Ben Affleck sort of put the whole thing together, so I wanted to show some morale support. Oh! And there was a delicious spread of food   provided by a local restaurant, which didn't hurt.

As a non-engineer I made sure to get to the meeting early to make sure I could easily find a seat and blend into the crowd. Students filed in quietly, grabbed their food and took their seats. Soon the event was in full swing as engineering professionals discussed their career paths and answered student's questions.

About halfway through the meeting there came a shuffling from down the hallway. The door to this small lecture room had been left open so stray students could efficiently find their way to their seats. Engineers love efficiency after all. As the shuffling grew louder, it became almost certain the shuffling figure would soon step through the doorway. Sure enough a gray haired and hunchbacked lady waddled through the door with two bags nearly dragging on the ground beside her. Without so much as an apology or glance upward she shuffled her way between my desk and the one next to me, her puffy black coat oozing up around the desks as she pushed her way to a seat in the row behind me. As she maneuvered between the tightly packed desks I watched as the current speaker tried his best to stifle a laugh as he  smiled awkwardly. For those few seconds, the room seemed to warm by ten degrees as I felt the embarrassment this woman clearly did not feel for herself.

Once the speaker concluded, students took turns asking valuable questions related to their fields of study. Not wanting to appear uninterested, the old woman took the opportunity to ask her own barely relevant questions, effectively wasting the time of the students whom these speakers were here to serve. As soon as the questions were over, the woman wasted no time making her way to the food table to make herself a plate. As the next speaker commenced his speech, all I could hear was the harsh scraping of a plastic fork against tin foil as the woman painstakingly attempted to collect every last grain of rice from the lid of a food container. I couldn't help but glance in her direction as I wondered how hungry she was.

The woman insisted on asking more questions once the last speaker finished. As students filtered out of the room, she remained and produced a plastic freezer bag to store her leftover food items. I half expected it to be a used freezer bag, but she was better off than I originally suspected. After packing her left overs, the old woman joined a small circle of students gathered around one of the professionals. She continued to ask obscure questions as students waited patiently to shake hands with these individuals whom could very well be their future employers.

I understand the opportunistic appeal of attending a school event for free food. I cannot, however, sympathize with a woman who rudely disrupts an event such as this. It is my understanding that homeless people generally do not have very busy schedules, so it seems to me this woman could have at least made it to her free meal on time. I was told that she frequently attends these events, which means she regularly walks around campus reading the event fliers, and should have known what time the event took place. Not having a watch is no excuse for lateness because she could have easily shuffled into any classroom to have a look at the time.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Two Hobbits

Embarking on a mid-March trek along the Rattlesnake Swamp Trail, my dear friend and I agreed, we felt like two modern day hobbits ambling along the dangerous route to Mordor. Adorned in matching black hiking attire, our figures bobbed as feet hastily dodged shards of jagged rock protruding from the moss covered trail. The hike quickly intensified as the trail slope increased dramatically. We soon found ourselves scrambling among immense boulders that managed to both distinguish and obstruct the formidable path at the same time. As we ascended the trail, we cautiously observed our surroundings, keeping a lookout for any rattlesnakes lurking between the rocks. As if the difficult terrain were not enough, the risk of a rattlesnake encounter also loomed in our minds. The treachery of the escapade only seemed to intensify further once the Rattlesnake Swamp Trail merged with the rugged Appalachian Trail at the edge of a steep cliff.

"Imagine a serious hiker with a fifty pound pack trying to hike this," my travel companion declared. We meandered along an uneven path of exposed bedrock, imagining our deaths tripping and rolling off the side of the cliff. Despite the obvious danger, we couldn't help but admire the beautiful view daring us to edge closer to the ledge for a better look. Several birds of prey coasted overhead, garnering an even more impressive view of the landscape. Envious of their flight capabilities, we carried onward across uneven footing.

After a three and a half hour hike we returned to the car with no broken ankles, not a single rattlesnake siting, and a newfound appreciation for the dedicated hikers that spend days, weeks, or even months hiking along paths similar to the one we navigated that tepid day in March.

We were warned...

The ankle breaking path along
the Rattlesnake Swamp Trail
The Appalachian Trail
The view from the Appalachian Trail

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spring is in the Air

The birds are chirping,
the sky is blue.
I'm excited for spring break,
how about you?

Seriously, the most beautiful weather I've seen in months happens to be the day I embark on a road trip with a dear friend. That's got to be a good omen.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tricky Treats

Every time I set foot in Marshall Hall, I can't help but survey the tables on either end of the foyer to scope any clubs or campus organizations trying to raise money. Bake sales seem to be the most popular fund raising technique, and they work like a charm, at least on me. The other morning I was entering the building with a friend as we gabbed about our weekend ventures. Mid sentence I veered off both in thought and movement, eyes fixed to the table covered in plates of brownies, cookies and fresh baked sweet breads.

My wallet emerged as pupils dilated and I honed in on a plate of brownies that appeared to be topped with a smothering of peanut butter. Handing over a dollar bill, I selected a brownie heavy on the peanut butter and walked away grinning. Once I found my seat in class, I took a sweet bite of the brownie and cringed as a crunchy edge broke away in my mouth. Not as chewy as I'd hoped, I was also surprised to discover what I thought was peanut butter was actually cookie dough. Fine. I'll take a crunchy brownie any day if it is adorned cookie dough instead of peanut butter. Two treats for the price of one.

Cookie brownie
Later that day I walked with another friend to a coffee shop to catch up on homework. The place only takes cash and I had to spot my friend who forgot this small detail. After ordering our drinks I pulled out my wallet to pay, realizing I was a dollar short. Had I not purchased my brownie treat earlier in the day this mini crisis would have been avoided. Luckily, the barista graciously covered my missing dollar. Funny how the world works sometimes.

Hot chocolate with a heart

Sunday, March 3, 2013

I'll Make You a Deal

"I'll let you bite me if you make dinner!" Mary Kate yelled down the stairs as Ashley rolled around on the playroom carpet giggling uncontrollably, still suffering from a bad kool-aid high.

"Where do I get to bite you?" Ashely blurted, kool-aid stained lips flapping in excitement.

These are the types of arrangements I am forced to mediate when things start to get a little too far fetched on my watch. The girls are always making strange sister deals that remind me of the mischief I used to get into with my own sister. I'm glad I don't still go crazy for kool-aid.

Feast of Beasts

Everyone had been talking about the Beast Feast at school. Hosted by the Wildlife Society, this event is an exciting and delicious fundraiser that boasts a delightful array of meaty dishes featuring the finest cuts of squirrel, beaver, venison and other tasty mammals that our fellow students have hunted and skinned. Luckily for those who don't have a hunting license, several students had donated game from their own personal assets. This year my roommate and I were handed a sizable sum of frozen venison, and we  baked it with the same glaze I used on the pork roast on Valentine's Day. Prior to pouring the glaze, we were put to the enjoyable task of cutting out all of the tough, chewy tendons that no Beast Feast patron would have enjoyed crunching into. We all giggled as we sat butchering our deer meat on a Friday night, wondering what most other college kids would think of our extracurricular activity. The roasted venison turned out well, but I neglected to photograph the finished product. Our venison didn't win the "best dish" competition, but there were a lot of tasty contenders this year.

Knife skills

There were SO MANY tendons

Tasty tendons

Couldn't help but look at my orange and
compare that thick white vain to the rubbery
tendons we'd just finished sawing off the meat

I was so hungry I almost forgot to take
this photo. That's buffalo squirrel pizza off to the right

Friday, March 1, 2013

Cookie Hangover

There is a special table in Moon Library that seems to only serve one purpose: it is the snack table. A round wooden table situated in the main entryway directly in front of the circulation desk. Anytime there are leftover munchies from a conference, seminar or other gathering, the tasty morsels are placed on this table. Students quickly emerge from behind heavy books and piles of dull homework to flock to the table newly topped with treats.

Luckily for me, my friends always sit at an advantageous rectangular wooden table in plain view of the snack table. Anytime there are treats to bed had, we are among the first to know. My blonde friend, whom I will refer to as Marilyn Monroe, alerted us of the current snack situation in case any of us remained oblivious. Whilst waiting for the snacks to emerge from the conference room we chatted, and it was during this chatting when I was told one of my roommate's had celebrated a birthday that previous saturday. That's right, I missed my roommate's birthday, but NO ONE reminded me. I've known the guy for less than a year so it's not like I ever knew when his birthday was to start out. I did still manage to live through that entire weekend without a single hint that one of the guys living across the hall from had just turned a year older. Honestly I blame my other roommates as much as myself for not bringing it up. The shock of this realization was suddenly lost when Marilyn Monroe nodded in the direction of the snack table. That gesture could only mean one thing...

On this particular day, there was some sort of presentation taking place, and we had all seen the boxes of cookies on our way into the library. Those glistening boxes of plastic, lids spread wide open waiting for eager hands to pluck out the chewy bites of cookie delight. We were on full alert and ready to pounce. As soon as the boxes were carried from the conference room to the table, Marilyn Monroe gave us the signal, and we were speed walking before the cookie carrier could back peddle out of the way. Hands eagerly grabbed for molasses, oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip. There were even a few mini brownies in the mix but they were the first to be snatched up.

Returning to our table, we relished in our small cookie victory, and I crammed my winnings into my sandwich container for later. After walking home, I approached the roommate whose birthday I'd missed, apologizing profusely for not recognizing the date. No feelings were hurt, partly because he didn't care that much about his birthday to begin with. Feeling reconciled, I went back to my room, and pulled open my desk drawer where the container of cookies patiently waited. I stared longingly at the box contemplating giving away its contents to the boy whose birthday I missed. I gingerly pulled the container out of the drawer and on onto my desk. Lifting the lid, I plucked a molasses cookie from the container. And then another. And by the time I had decided not to give my roommate a belated birthday treat, there was nothing left to give away.