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The sugar beet factory in Örtofta is only open and running from about the end of September until Christmas. During the sugar beet processing season, the smoke from the factory rolls over the valley and taints the air with the smell of burned sugar. It's not sweet, like a candy factory smells, it's a very earthy, fermented odor. The factory can be seen from the main highway that we drive up and down so many times a week. It's not that big, but at night when it's dark and the factory is lit up and the white smoke is billowing out in thick twisted ropes, it's like a little mini-Gary, Indiana on the long downslope from Lund. 3 or 4 smokestacks, red and white lights, the business of rendering lumpy beets into refined sugar goes on all night and all day.

As a child living far from my grandparents, we traveled a lot by car. My father's parents lived in the northern suburbs of Chicago, and my mom's parents lived in Detroit. During family vacations we did a lot of driving on the highways between the two, back and forth over I-94, around the bottom of the horn of Lake Michigan, over the expanse of lighted urbanity that is the South Side. Through Indiana, we passed a long expanse of factory fields, rising high above them on the super highway structures that eventually let us down among the dunes of southwestern Michigan. Driving past the sugar beet factory at night reminds me of driving through Indiana. For a few seconds, I am always transported back to the road between my grandparents, on the way either to Detroit or to Chicago, drowsing with my head on the edge of the car door window, cheek ribbed by the stiff seatbelt, eyes flicking to each lighted factory, each chimney spilling its black or grey or whitened smoke into the air. The factories of Indiana at night are like a fairy wonderland of sorts. A weird world where people work all night. I never wondered what the factories were producing or why, they were just there, a field of lights, a sea of pipes and stacks and conveyer elevators.

When I was small, it wasn't a law to wear seatbelts in the car. When we traveled in our big magenta station wagon, it was often with the 3 of us children in the far back, on spread out blankets, with toys surrounding us. Sometimes my sister and I would sleep in the back seat, lying half-draped over each other with one head pillowed on a hip and the other over a back and shoulders.

When I was really small, my mom held me on her lap in the passenger seat of the car, despite the number of times I must have vomited all over her, as I was very prone to motion sickness (still am).

Why am I writing about this stuff? I drove past the sugar beet factory tonight on the way home from book group. Whenever we drove through Gary, my dad would sing the refrain from the Gary Indiana song from The Music Man. I carry on that tradition, singing softly to myself driving down the hill toward home: Gary, Indiana, as a Shakespeare would say, trips along softly on the tongue this way—Gary, Indiana, Gary Indiana, Gary, Indiana...

Brownies, cheer, book talk, book friends. I love my book group. The book we were discussing was Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safron Foer, which unfortunately never came from the library, even though I ordered it in English 2 weeks ago. It will probably come next week, but that's okay. I can still read it and my booky friends will talk about it more with me later. I love book friends and book talk.

Once again to whomever it was that gifted me with the year of extra icons, thank you!! I am LOVING IT! :D

Really Good Writing Out There Right Now: I Do Not Want to Help You
mood: content
music: Bruce Springsteen—Thunder Road


What a beautiful, well written, evocative post. I really enjoyed sharing your trip down memory lane.

And thankyou for the link to I Do Not Want to Help You. Fabulous stuff. I thgink I could love a girl who wrote like that. :)

Why thank you, Marie! You are too kind!

Me?? Kind??? Obviously, you don't know me :)

I've added you as a friend, if you don't mind. I'd love to read more. I wish I had your grasp of language. Brilliant stuff.

I noticed that you'd added me as a friend, so I added you right back! I look forward to reading your journal!

Car trips were such an integral part of my childhood. Even when they were awful (Mom, she's on my side!) and long, they were a time of togetherness for my family.

She-Dork is great! She's on the staff of Mosaic Minds, too and is a superb writer :)

Thanks for the link, Liz! (I always strive to make it to your "really good writing" link, so WOO!)

Also, I love that Gary Indiana song. The only words I know are in the syncopated "Gary Indiana" part but it's like a mantra to me once it gets going in my brain...

You're welcome! :) It was great reading that post, I really loved it!

Some days I could just fill my entire journal with links to Really Good Writing. There is such a lot out there if you know where to look. And some people (you included) are CONSISTENTLY good, so I have to restrain myself from linking to you/them every day! (which is what my links lists are for)

"Once again to whomever it was that gifted me with the year of extra icons, thank you!! I am LOVING IT! :D"
did they do it anonymously?! awesome!!

ps. I hate you.(LOL) I now have that Gary Indiana song stuck in my brain, and though I rather enjoy it, I know I won't a little later when I am tired of it and it is still singing itself to me.

Yes, it was an anonymous gift, along with 6 months of paid account, although I have no way of knowing if it was the SAME person that gave me both. It was SO NICE!!

Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer unsticks any earworm and doesn't stick itself. I swear :D

Rudolf!!?! *chuckles*
You're sure it doesn't stick itself?

Surprize gifts are so cool..........

Positive! Tried and true :o)

well thanks then. that will be quite useful

I sure enjoyed reading this, it took me back as a child, when we drove by car.

Sounds like car trips I have known in the past, except we had a large BLUE station wagon with blankets and pillows and toys in what we called "the back-back". And thanks for the link. First you introduce me to mimi smartypants and now she-dork, lovely.

She-Dork ROCKS, and she is much more prolific than Mimi. AND she's a staff member of Mosaic Minds! All around great, eller hur??

wow! great entry. thanks for sharing. i could almost feel like i was there smelling the sugar beet factory.
the " i do not want to help you" link was great! thanks

i love book friends and book talk also. sadly i have only a handful and we get together far too rarely. perhaps i'll think about restarting the little bookgroup i was in...hmm...thanks for giving me ideas :)

Book groups are the best. This is one of the constants in my current life...even though the members of the group come and go (slowly, thankfully) there is always a common thread of people who are interesting, love books, love talking about books.


o, how beautiful. so vivid. I was in the magenta wagon with you. I love these little slices of memory, little pockets of your soul. xo wee

Very nice piece on Gary, Indiana. The only thing you left out was the incredible stench so even if you eyes are closed and you maybe asleep you know you are in Gary. I'm just wondering...Thunder Road? Curious.

It was on a mix tape from a million years ago, titled "Road Trip." There's no stench in memory :) (although you're right, hahaha!)

I am loving all your sweet, sweet friends out there, being so generous with the icon and journal love!

Thanks, to you, little lizard? I am singing Gary, Indiana, Gary, Indiana...all the time, in my head, and out loud. And those are the only words I know. Sheesh!


I was home with Ingrid yesterday (Veteran's Day, no daycare) so I am only getting to this now. Your car trips sounded like ours, only six kids so three in the middle and three in the "way back" and I was always in the way back. Dad (whose name, BTW, is Gary and that song instantly brings him to mind)traveled a lot for business and used to collect barf bags from the airplanes and keep them in the glove compartment for, well, mostly me. I have too many memories of whichever parent was driving, pushing the button to roll down the back window while my sister and brother held on to me as I hurled out the back. Even with the bag, they did not want me doing it in the car. So pleasant for the people behind us. No one ever considered that I might not get sick so often if I had been allowed to sit closer to the front and facing forward - an impossibility in the way back.

You POOR THING! Eek! My family learned early that I was better off as close to the front as possible, to the point where I started getting to ride shotgun, to my siblings' disgust, quite early :) Now they just let me have it without comment, because they know better. :P

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I can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.

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