Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Petra in the USA: peace and concord

It was wonderful to be at home! The plane was almost empty from Melbourne to Los Angeles – which is a criminal waste from an environmental perspective, though I reveled in the luxury of three whole seats to myself. I even got to visit with the lovely Emily midway through my journey: she trekked out to visit with me during my several-hours layover at LAX. All of which meant that I arrived in Concord happy and well-rested enough to enjoy it.

There’s nothing like the smell of autumn in my neighborhood. It’s fresh and rich and crisp, the unmistakable smell of leaves and vines decomposing smells clean and perfect, and seems to permeate my entire being from toes to forehead. You’d think it was my home and the smell into which I’d been born, or something. Dad and I raked leaves and laid some flagstones in the backyard. We went to the best apple orchard in the world for caramel apples (heaven!) and apple cider doughnuts (lofty clouds, at least) and, of course, fresh unpasturized sweet tart cider pressed on old wood boards, of which I could wax poetic, but if you haven’t tasted it, you just can’t understand.

My genius mother finally identified the source of my frustrations with baking in Australia: castor sugar! Normal, “all purpose” white sugar is a coarser grain in Oz than its US equivalent. For baking, Aussies use the finer ‘castor’ sugar. I didn’t know this, hence my complaints that sugar here just doesn’t cream into butter like it does back home. Now, it all makes sense. Needless to say, Mum and I did a lot of baking, the best of course being chocolate chip cookies and apple crisp.

I also spent quality time with my enormous, shaggy, half-feral, mountain-lion of a housecat, Frederick, who to everyone’s bemusement adores me almost as much as I adore him. He is MY cat, and I am HIS human (though he rather likes the postman, too). Bliss!

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