Saturday, 11 August 2007
Things I Miss (mostly cheese-related)
The sky looks threatening. I really wish we could have a big loud August thunderstorm. I miss those.
There aren´t a lot of things I miss about America, but frequent summer storms are among them. We occasionally get storms here, and I remember one that was really amazingly violent. But I´ve seen nothing here like the wild tornado-spewing gullywashers that sent us running for the basement in Ohio and Pennsylvania and Arkansas. Woowee! Those made me glad to be alive, afterward.
Now that I am thinking about it, I will tell you the few things I miss about The Land of the Free:
1. Customer service in stores and shops. Not that it´s really THAT great most US places, but if something´s broken you can return it and get a refund or exchange, usually with minimal hassle. Around here, you get a quizzical look and shrugged shoulders. And don´t even get me started about the ¨help¨ in restaurants and bars! Or builders and repairmen. God, no.
2. Big Box stores. Sure, they´re suburban eyesores. But it´s awfully nice to go into one place and find 40 different kinds of the thing you need, along with people who (sometimes) speak English and know where the Plumbing and Electrical and Trash-bin aisles are. Around here, you walk into the crowded little shop and tell the guy behind the counter exactly what you want, and he opens a wall covered in tiny drawers and produces something you never imagined, saw, or asked-for, which he then wraps up in newspaper and string for you to take home. This means you can go into the hardware store for a chainsaw, and come out with mouse poison and a selection of sink washers. (this pic., btw, is from a fine American named Dave whose hobby traveling throughout North America taking photos of every Home Depot store. That´s Dave in the picture. God bless Dave and the kid in the picture, too.)
3. Good pizza, which is also surprisingly hard to find in America any more. Spaniards put gorgonzola on theirs. No.
4. Macaroni & cheez. I make excellent homemade upper-case Macaroni And Cheese here, using local sheep´s milk cheese, when I have access to an oven. It´s the horrible day-glo Kraft Macaroni & Cheez stuff I miss. Vile plastic comfort food from my childhood. My mom sent me some at Christmas but there´s only one packet left... I have to wait for a real crisis to bust that open!
5. Mexican food. Nachos don´t cut it. I want enchiladas! (interesting how all my food desires involve cheese. The cheese here is outstanding, and Dick supplemented the local supply with some knockout stinky cheese from France... still I yearn for sharp cheddar.)
6. My mom. And my kids. My two sisters, and my cousin Barbara, my Aunt Esther, and Sheila, my best old bud from Seton Hill College. Wish they were here, ´cause I don´t wanna be there.
7. Once in a while, I miss the newsroom. Just the breaking-news rush, or that glow that comes over me when I discover something really juicy, or someone opens his mouth and an amazing quote comes out. And deadline. I miss that. And day ACES... assistant city editors. Some of the best journalists in America are Day ACEs.
8. Being able to pick up the phone and make inquiries and solve a problem that simply.
9. More than anything else, I miss English.
That is ten if you count the thunderstorm, and it looks like one of those is really going to happen!
I´m not really homesick, honest. I am loving it here. But it´s the weekend, the time I most usually think of family and friends and cheese. When nostagia threatens, I look at an old 1930´s era photo I have of my great-grandfather Alex and his mother Emily Ann and brother Ike and sister Anna Mary Bell. It´s obvious these folks are TOUGH hombres, wincing right through the Great Depression. (Wish you could see the pic!) They´re my forebears. Their blood is my blood.
You can bet they didn´t whine for mac & cheez, or old Emily´d give them-uns a lickin´ they wouldn´t soon forget.