Archive for September, 2008


Ranch House Lately

So lately I’ve been getting the home design bug again. And for some inexplicable reason, I’ve been thinking about designing ranch style houses, those low slung single story numbers that originally popped up like mushrooms after a rainstorm during the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s.

On second thought, maybe this impulse is explicable. I grew up in the ’70s. Our first home in Quail Valley was a ranch, a super simple one with giant picture windows in the living room that begged to be plastered with construction paper pumpkins and toilet paper ghosts at Halloween and lined with big fat C7 Christmas lights in December.

With modern lines and little exterior decoration, ranch houses turned into inexpensive blank canvasses on which to project fantasies and ideals of home. Consumable print–wrapping paper, magazine advertisements, even Christmas songbooks like this Karl Schulte classic

Karl Schulte Christmas Carol Book

from the 1970s– gave us poppy, saturated and kind of wacky color combinations that easily layered “traditional” or space-age images onto the neutral frameworks.

I’m sorry for kids who didn’t grow up in the ’70s. As atrocious as the more extreme Graceland versions of home fashion were, it was also the era of the awesome appropriated culture party!

The Ranch House was the perfect backdrop for “fondue,” the traditionally Swiss communal way of eating that Americans morphed into a dipping orgy of bad cheese and chocolate, which a Swiss friend of mine assures me he would never have recognized.

And the luau! Carved watermelon fruit salads, teakwood bowls and utensils, shish kabobs, tiki torches and hanging lanterns with no irony attached. Someone, usually an overweight guy, inevitably strapped on a grass skirt. An affront to island culture? Surely, but so much fun.

Now a new generation of first time home buyers who can only afford older ranch homes are discovering that they like them because of their casual party ready spaces. Plus they are human scaled, no ballroom sized bedrooms and separate rooms for every activity. You don’t have to squander the kid’s college fund just to furnish the place.

My problem with ranch houses typically is not what they are, since they are easily stripped and revived, but where they are. They are typically suburban phenomena. Still, suburbs born in the ’50s through the ’70s are something different than what sprawls into infinity today.

Here in Indy I think I could totally live in Glendale and be happy. Gay people for a lot of reasons that have to do with everything from economics to feeling welcome push into uncool places and try to make them cooler. As more and more gay couples end up with children of their own, could the mid-20th century ranch be the icon of the new gay frontier?


Fry Day 2008

Some days were just made for frying.

A couple of weeks ago we had our biannual artery jamming hootenanny, Fry Day, which is basically a good time with a fryer, friends and family who happen to be around. Folks from Arkansas (Lori, Felley, Georgette and Julie) who always bring a car load of good food to go with our good times made it extry special. And even our new next door neighbors joined us. I wasn’t sure how they would take to something so backwoods happening in our backyard, but they were totally down with it.

Here’s MY Fry Daddy. Hot.

Fry Day

This year we had two fryers going. Duane and Todd loaned us one of theirs. I love this picture of Duane. We were totally feeling the power of the oil.

Fry Stud

Some food highlights:

Eric and Chris brought Spam to fry, inspiring several trips down memory lane. I hate to admit it, but I still like it.

Spam, spam, spam, spam...

Dave was the poster boy for fried mac and cheese, the sleeper hit of the day.

Fried Mac and Cheese

Jane’s first hushpuppy. I loved the expression on her face when she first heard the name. She gave it a thumbs up. Rev. Mike is a harsh judge of hushpuppies, and he said these passed the test. Virginia Willis’s recipe I think.
Jane's First Hushpuppy

The deep-fried brownies were tasty. The deep-fried Kit-Kats were better in theory.

Bad dessert/Good Dessert

Lil’ Peachez is so cute he didn’t need to be battered and fried for us to want to eat him up.

Lil' Peachez