Month: October 2008

Smell, Memory

Every year, Gwen makes cookies for a class of first-graders who come trick-or-treating at her office. A couple of nights ago, she made two batches of butter cookies, each using a different recipe—one that her mom used throughout her childhood, and another that she found online . She stored them in tupperware until last night, when we decorated them. I opened the box containing the ones made using the online recipe (which is butterier, and which I liked better) and the escaping aroma instantly transported back to the time when I was in first grade myself, probably the last time I had a Salerno butter cookie. I hadn’t even thought of Salernos in decades, but I instantly remembered the daisy shape, the hole in the middle that I could stick my finger through, the smell, and the taste. We all know that the sense of smell is the sense that evokes memories most strongly, and this was a potent example. It was only that batch that did it for me though—not the other one.

Unsurprisingly, Gwen preferred her mom’s recipe. Because that’s tied to her memories.

Ride more bikes

In the severe hailstorm that hit Austin back in May, our car took a beating—some of the dings were so sharp that the paint cracked at the point of impact. When I took it in to get a repair estimate, they told me they were going to have to replace the hood and roof. In short, major repairs.

We finally got around to taking the car in to get the repairs done, and as of today, have been without a car for three weeks. The experience has been instructive.

I’ve lived in Austin without a car before. That was as a renter, and it definitely involved compromises. It would be much more difficult to live here as a homeowner without a car.

I’ve only had to bum a ride once during these three weeks. And there are certainly a few car-based errands that we’ve deferred. But for the most part, we’ve managed pretty handily, and more importantly, it’s been a reminder that most of the short 1/2/3 mile errands we run can be accomplished just as well by bike.

It’s a little embarrassing that we got out of the habit of using our bikes for errands in the first place. We didn’t quit riding them entirely, but we didn’t ride them nearly as much as we might have. It’s hard to put a finger on why this is. Too lazy to ride? Perhaps in part. Another dumb reason might be our garage door. When we moved into this house, the garage (where we store the bikes) could only be locked or unlocked from inside. So to get the bike out I’d go into the garage, open the door, pull the bike off the wall, put it outside, come back in, lock the garage, go through the house, go out the front door, and lock that. This is not a huge inconvenience in the grand scheme of things, but it adds just enough friction to the process that we’re more often inclined to say “fuck it” and take the car. We had the garage door fixed a few months back, so we don’t have that trivial hurdle to overcome. And now we’ve been booted out of our bad habits by circumstances. I’m optimistic we won’t fall back into them.