Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I am starting to wonder what we have lost. I wouldn’t really know that anything was around to be lost without my father but that extra generation back in time gives me periodic images of the past I could have known. For instance, his company was previously his father’s company and the company bank has to my knowledge always been the same bank on the same main street of the same town in which my father was born. The bank has changed names and people have retired and moved on but every person who works at the bank knows his name. While they process and file things for him they chit chat with him and keep track of each other’s lives in a neighborly way. They are known to each other and they treat each other as such.

My primary bank is an online bank. There is no store front. I will never see a human when I make a transaction. This brings with it a tremendous amount of convenience. I never have to rush to the bank before it closes as my father often does. I can transfer money at midnight. I can send money to most other humans I am required to pay with a few clicks and their routing number. I can even fill out a form and have them send my antiquated landlady who doesn’t own a computer a paper check. But even when I was a child living in a tiny town with a small town bank account I was never known by name until my number was somehow plugged into a machine and my name popped up on a screen.

My other example is travel. Once upon a time, air travel was a big deal. Humans dressed in their best when they moved from one side of the country to the other and people used travel agents to help them plan their journey. Think about it…who uses travel agents anymore? At this point I think people traveling in a large group and old people….my dad. If I need a flight to someplace I check Kayak. If I need a place to stay or a car…kayak. I can organize everything on one website, make my purchase using my online bank and viola! I am going on a vacation. Then for things to do I just search online until I get a list of restaurants and ratings. Ditto for museums, parks…whatever. I can even find coupons and discounts. All from the comfort of my couch. The most outside human influence comes via the for all intents and purposes anonymous ratings and reviews that visitors have given to attractions. But look at the convenience.

You might not get it from his appearance but Dad is something of a world traveler. He has been to Africa, Asia and Europe and I swear I will get him to South America with me before we die. He has always booked travel through the same agency. When he tells them about a trip they give him the cheapest deal and the most convenient. They also help him figure out a car and places he wants to go or see while he is there based on personal recommendations from their own visits, other customers and what they know of my father’s personal tastes. When he called them from Texas because his passport got messed up and he couldn’t make it to HN…they were on it. Dad called me the other day to tell me that after 50 jillion years, his travel agent was closing. They called him personally to tell him. Read that sentence again. They called him to tell him they were closing. So the last time he booked travel I logged on to his computer in PA from my computer in MA so that he could watch me and learn how to book travel online….which isn’t nearly the same thing.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Goliath Carrots

I believe I mentioned many bad things about the garden over the summer. Once food started coming in I forgot to post what was going right.

Right now I am simmering down the last big batch of tomatoes to make sauce for lasagna tomorrow night. I managed to bring in all the plants loaded with green tomatoes before the frost and they have been slowly ripening up ended in our basement. There are a few still down there and I have my fingers crossed for Christmas. Also waiting for Christmas...on a whim I planted our 'left over' tomato and pepper plants against a wall pretty much in the yard. I then promptly forgot about them so they were never watered or weeded. Apparently they just wanted to grow and the day before the frost I rediscovered them and they are sitting in a sunny window in my house. There will be at least 3 hot peppers ready for Christmas salsa.

Other than the stuff we recently brought in, I don't actually know what we had for a harvest. However, we have plenty of jars of tomato sauce, zucchini pickles, green beans and other wonderfulness in the basement. We got maybe 15 lbs of sweet potatoes that are simple marvelous and even with the diseases running rampant we managed to bring in 4 pumpkins and 4 butternut squash (both of which ended up in the pumpkin cookies from the last post.

At this point all that is left in our garden are the carrots and the parsnips. These crops can handle the cold just fine and their tops are still the same green shade they have been all summer. Apparently this extra time in the soil is REALLY good for carrots. Allow me to illustrate with part of tonight's dinner:

The 3 carrots on the left are my rainbow carrots -orange, ruby, and yellow in this case- and the one on the right is one of our "normal" orange carrots.

When I pulled up the monster carrot we figured it wouldn't be any good but it is perfectly carrot flavored and textured. It is actually way more carrot flavored and crunchy than supermarket carrots so it is definitely a win. And....we still have like 40 this size in the ground.

Now for dinner.

Friday, November 19, 2010

This is going to be one of those recipes

But I have figured out recently that those recipes are actually a huge pain in the ass when you want to go back and actually MAKE a repeat of the damn food in the first place…without the chaos that went in to it. I promise that I don’t always cook or bake in chaos and that I am a successful cook on days without chaos. But I apparently need chaos to convince me to write things down.

Pumpkin cookies go like this.
I received a recipe from Shuff Dog for pumpkin cookies as part of a recipe exchange. I hate these things. Just send me a damn recipe because you like the idea. Don’t make me copy and paste and jump through hoops and feel guilty and email 10 friends. If you love me…give me a recipe. If I love you I will do the same. Anyway. I recently and begrudgingly “participated” in the same exchange that Shuff sent me which either means he was responding to me or I got hit with it twice. Either way the first round made me immune. I only ended up with 3 recipes instead of the promised 30 and that’s only because I cheated. Whatever.

With this recipe resting daintily in my inbox and secretly calling me in my sleep I was faced with a choice at 9 pm (ish…I thought it was like 7) and with no supervision from Boyfriend…I could wash the mounds and mounds of dishes or grade lab reports. So I elected to make cookies.

I always gather my ingredients before I start out or I invariably end up missing something important so I gathered away without reading the process instructions. I was using left over pumpkin from a batch of muffins earlier in the week. I declared the muffins a failure but everyone else seems to think they are tasty enough. I am not a muffiness. I need desperately for someone to give me a whole wheat flour plus whole grains and maybe oatmeal and or mixed grain hot cereal muffin recipe as a base muffin recipe that I can add whatever fruit is in my pantry to and call it a success. I keep trying and failing. Anyway for the muffins I wacked 2 sugar pumpkins (one from the garden and 1 from TJs) apart, baked them, and removed their orange succulent goodness for my own purposes. I had less than a cup left over so I had to supplement my cookies with a few scoops of left over baked butternut squash from my garden. Orange and squash flavored. Perfect.

I am not content to follow a recipe so I elected to swap out the regular flour for whole wheat. I dutifully measured out the requisite amount of flour and suddenly was overcome with the feeling that I was not alone. We have flour moths! Cue horror music and shuddering.

To be fair I found 1 worm in 1 bag of old flour. However this spawned a panic attack which resulted in me shoving all baking products not in jars or Tupperware into the freezer. Then running out of room and becoming despondent. There was nothing else I could do…so I made cookies. (Actually we are like an hour in to the cookie making process at this point and if I hadn’t already started melting the butter I would have gone to bed. )

The all purpose flour was pure and white and both nutrient and worm free so I could proceed. Per usual I mixed all my ‘wet’ ingredients and all my dry ingredients separately. I then planned to mix the 2 sets of ingredients together but I paused to read the directions. I always forget that cookies are more high maintenance than other baked goods. You are supposed to mix the butter and sugar together then add everything else. Whatever. You can skip that. But you really do want a mixer to combine the pumpkin and the butter. Crap.

Luckily, Boyfriend’s mom gave me an old stand mixer from a yard sale. I fired that baby up and…nothing happened. At this point I began to suspect that Boyfriend had disabled the mixer either because he wanted me to stop making baked goods to prevent me from weighing 400 lbs or to prevent me from making baked goods and adding on to the huge stacks of dishes to be done. Or maybe the reason it was at the garage sale was because it was broken. Whatever.

So I used one of the mixer beaters as a hand held tool to combine the pumpkin and butter. I then tried to do the same when I mixed the flour and the gooey stuff but it was a no go. Fork…spoon…spatula…worthless. I had to result to hand mixing literally by hand. This worked amazingly well and resulted in me being coated with pre-cookie. I was forced to eat the pre-cookie before I could start my baking.

At this point the self control fuse was blown in the back of my brain. The doughy goodness was so amazing that about 5 larval cookies lives’ ended before I realized what I was doing and forced myself to stop eating the cookie dough like cereal.

I got the first batch of cookies in the oven, cleaned up enough to make space for the cookies to cool and made the glaze/frosting/icing. Right about the time the first batch needed to come out, Boyfriend came home and I was caught red handed filling up the cookie jar. It was also like 1030-11pm and the first time I had looked at a clock since maybe lunchtime. Which led me to ask the question “what the hell am doing baking cookies when I should be asleep?”

So I finished baking and frosting the cookies and went to bed. The end.

I figured out that the glaze goes on much nicer if you nuke it for about 10 seconds. After that you can drizzle and spread it on to the warm cookies with a spoon and when everything cools you will have a nice crusty frosted top on each cookie.

Boyfriend asked me the next day if the cookies were made with crack because they were so good. I could easily eat 5 in a row frosted or not but I would probably die of a diabetic coma if I tried. Moderation in all good things including cookies….and cookie dough. Which is why we are down to 6 cookies in 3 days. Don’t double the recipe unless you are giving these away. They are too dangerous to have laying about the kitchen.

The REAL recipe.

Pumpkin Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (I used ½ brown sugar)
1/2 cup butter (1 stick) softened
1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
Glaze (see below)

Preheat over to 350 F. Grease baking sheets.

Combine flour, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl. Beat sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until well blended. Beat in pumpkin, egg and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until edges are firm. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Drizzle glaze over the cookies.

Combine 2 cups sifted powdered sugar, 3 Tbs milk, 1 Tbs melted butter and 1 tsp vanilla extract in a small bowl until smooth. (I added a healthy dose of cinnamon as well)

Yields ~ 36 cookies.

For the non-cinnamon types I would suggest substituting ¼ t of one or all of the following: ground clove, ground ginger, or ground allspice.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Any good garden book will tell you the same thing. When the snow flies for months of end and the wind is increasingly frigid, humans look towards the promise of green. Some hasten it any way they can, buying seeds, planning plots and dreaming dreams of fresh salads. Then the drifts finally drift away and ground is broken for the first time of the season. Hearty seeds are tucked gently in to hard earth with whispered prayers and fingers crossed against late season frosts. And after the first hits of green manage to push through the crust towards the sun, there is hope for flowers and a flurry of activity. The winter is now over and there is much to do, much to plant, and everything, everything, everything must be grown. The excitement of planting gives way to the first leaves of each crop, then the first TRUE leaves, then the long hopes for flowers. And as this growth is happening, sometimes doubling overnight, there is a fight against hungry vegetarians. There is transplanting, watering, staking, weeding, mulching, pruning, fencing and sweat. And it is all carried by the next new thing and the next. Time marches forward and thoughts move to the harvest, jars are purchased, recipes are planned and all is right with the world. Each day is one step closer to the harvest but to make it there you have to pass through mid-July.

Mid-July, when it is too hot for the plant munching beetles to fly, when it is too dry for new weeds to start, when the simple act of watering causes sweat to run down your back, and nothing new happens. Lettuces are going to seed and radishes are done and everything else is in an infantile state. Sure you can fry your green tomatoes or throw your squash flowers on a salad but that seems awful wasteful. Why garden, why grow things, why bother with all this time and money when the grocery store is air conditioned, why were you so ambitions, and why do you now have to go out into that hot sun to pull out the lettuce and replant radishes, beets, carrots and spinach? Why me? Why now? WAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!

Because you want spinach for your pasta sauces and you want your own radishes and beets for thanksgiving. And because if you get really really lucky, those late tomato transplants you just put in will bust out a few green tomatoes before the first frost that you can tuck discretely away in the cool cellar until two weeks before Christmas. Just think of the goodies Santa will bring you if instead of cookies you offer a toasted tomato sandwich with home grown tomatoes now ripe in December. It could happen.

Yesterday I did a bit of harvesting practice. I pruned down my parsley and chives and I yanked a beet to see how it was doing. After crunching on the beet slices I threw the beet leaves, chives and parsley in the dehydrator ($8 at a yard sale baby) and went in to Boston to see Old Ironsides. This morning I chopped up the beet leaves and threw them in to some tuna salad. I couldn't taste it but other reports said it tasted like dill. Maybe thats because it went in the dehydrator with the chives. Either way I will do the tuna salad thing again. It adds vitamin A, some B's, C and a compliment of minerals so why the heck not.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Canned Zombie Berries

We picked strawberries at a pick your own place this year. The perfectest berries were set aside to make preserves only I screwed it up. Apparently with strawberries (unlike other berries) you need to soak them over night in a sugar solution. This will help to preserve their color and fill their internal airspace so they don't float. But since I didn't know this and we didn't do this we got several jars of beautiful bright red liquid with a mass of mushed albino strawberries floating on top. Zombie berries. Not exactly what I had in mind.

I have laid awake at night mourning the fact that I wasted the best of the best of our berries on a slimy worthless mess. You can't give these away. They are ugly and gross and hungry for brains.

I was super antsy tonight so I popped a box of lame $1-on-sale-with-coupon brownie mix out of our makeshift pantry to occupy myself. Instead of the oil called for on the box I used fat free plain yogurt because I had never tried it before. Then I figured "What the hell, I think brownies are gross anyway so it would be hard for me to make them worse right?" I scooped the mutant berries out of the jar and threw those in to the mix. You were supposed to add water but when I was spooning out the berries I also got a fair amount of the syrup that they were canned in which added more liquid than required. Oops. I had to add an extra 10 minutes on to the bake time to make up for this.

So now, picture if you will a chocolate covered strawberry. The fruit is perfectly ripe, red and sweet and it is cocooned in a thick chocolaty shell just waiting to grace your lips and dance across your taste buds. Now slowly transform that outer shell into a thick and fudgy chocolate cake and that is my contribution to the world.

The yogurt made the brownies fluffier and gave them a slight tanginess. This complimented the subtle strawberry flavor that infused into the brownies. And the undead berries apparently have every ounce of flavor of the fresh-picked sun-kissed fruit. And the left over syrup is pretty much just strawberry flavored juice which is pretty tasty in it's own right. But it is absolutely indescribable when mixed with an equal part gin. All grown up but still that same vibrant shade of red.

Now everyone will want a jar.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

New "friends"

Recently I started seeing little green "bubbles" on my tomato leaves. One maybe two per plant. Interesting color and shape and a satisfactory snapping noise when you pop them. They look like this:
And they will become this:
At which time they will do this:
SOOOOO....I spent 2 hours today going through my tomatoes leaf by leaf and plant by plant gently removing the little tomato hornworm eggs from the leaves and dropping them fiendishly into a Ball jar half filled with soapy water. Then giggling.

When I was done I proceeded to crawl around the rest our back 40 for oh ...3 more hours. The patrol was pretty damn successful.

In the process I managed to catch 3 pairs of these guys:
Doing the striped cucumber beetle salsa:
Which is something like a 30x bonus multiplier in terms of pest removal. I also caught umpteen hundred lonely striped cucumber beetles and more than my fair share of *#&#@# oriental beetles (See last post for image). Most garden web sites say that they aren't found in gardens and that they do little damage. BULL. They are as ubiquitous as the cucumber beetles and as frisky. They are as frequently found nibbling the outer edges of my cucurbits as digging around the roots looking for a place to lay eggs. Their cute little three pronged antennae fan out nicely in the water.

I also got one of these:
Thank God it was only one because a little part of me curls up and dies every time I see a Japanese Beetle. I must have had a bad experience as a child or something because Asiatic and Oriental beetles are the same size and shape and...consistency but they don't bother me all that much. I don't want to remember.

While we are talking about unpleasant bugs, I extricated a huge squash bug from a pumpkin plant (after which I smelled like slow death):
Who knew squash bugs looked like this when they were small?
I found squash buggies in excess sucking on the bottom side of my tomato leaves. They are way easier to squish than to pop into a jar when they are that size. Almost exactly like these guys:
We have more ants than blades of grass in the back yard but thankfully they haven't found the aphids yet. If they do they will start to guard them from predators and move their eggs around. Ants herd aphids like cattle which is wicked long as it isn't on one of MY plants.

Also on my kill list are two of these:
These have the awful extra crunchy exoskeleton of a Japanese beetle, the ability to cover you in an unholy stink like a stink bug AND they can pinch you when they back that thing up. If that isn't enough, they have teleportation powers that allow them to appear at random out of thin air. The Earwig is the officially insect of Hell.

A few garden sites claim that these buggers don't really harm plants. I put this in the same box as oriental beetles because I found them wrapped up in a wilted squash leaf that had been reduced to lace. They die in a rather impressively violent way when they hit the soap.

All told I only found two helpful insects and one of them got flipped into the soap when I grabbed a striped cucumber beetle.
Young two spotted stink bugs are beautiful, soap bath or no. Hopefully I see more of these. I promise to be more careful. They are fond of piercing caterpillars and sucking out their juices like a Capri Sun. I am going to need an army of them if I missed a tomato hornworm egg. Heaven help me.

I found a 14 spotted lady bird beetle that I managed NOT to kill. I will take more of those any day. Go ye forth and munch my aphids buddy.

We also had a robin camping out and chomping down while I was weeding my herb garden. I think cucumber beetles are like bird skittles and I am ok with that.

Someday maybe I will put up my own pictures. As before none of these are mine.


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Kerry Kerry quite contrary

Kerry, Kerry quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With plump white grubs
Snails and slugs
And seed corn maggots in the bean rows

Marmota monax visits for snacks
While cabbage butterflies flutter past
And the click beetles click
And wireworms squirm
As the oriental beetles plan their attack.

No seriously kids, stay out of our $*(&#$ garden or I kill you. And I live happily ever after.
The End.

  • > 10 grubs per square foot? Apply grub-x liberally
  • Slugs and snails on all your plants? Weed EVERYTHING. Place any molusc you find into an empty Gatorade bottle with lid. Leave in the sun on a hot afternoon then THROW IT AWAY
  • Seed Corn Maggots stunting your beans and allowing them to be infected with some type of damping off fungus? Let everything dry out for 3 days. Helps if you can make it stop raining. This will also help with wire worms.
  • Find a click beetle? Cool. These are adult wire worms. If you can catch the fast little bastards stick them in a container. Shake it until they are upside down and watch them do their thing. When you get bored, squish them.
  • Catch a cabbage moth or an oriental beetle? Squish it. Or stick them in a jar with plaster of paris so they dry out and die. Then you can shove a pin through them and stick them in a box.
  • Think of it like shrunken heads as signs of victory in battle.
  • Got groundhogs? Praise the good Lord for sending you target practice...or that the neighbors lab got loose and dispatched it for you. Whatever.
Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let not your hands be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well. Ecc. 11:6


(By the way, none of those pictures are mine.)

Friday, March 12, 2010

The last post caused this post

A painting before dawn.

It’s single digits in the morning
With a subtle hint of spring
And I’m shivering.
It’s as much from lack of sleep
As the breeze blown off the bay
Humidity-thick, crisp and cold
From just passed rain that wet the pavement.
Small splashes accent my footsteps
And the smells of spilt oils
Mix with the sea
And my car burning antifreeze.

God, yesterday was years ago
All mixed victory and defeat
Every triumph met with tears
And not what I’d expected
Three half-hours ago
Let alone two odd years.
Why does all anger come this easily
Now all joy, now all despair?
Now you’re held high and always right
Now upturned and always wrong
And always looking towards another then.

I think I’m waxing philosophical
As I’m waning on awake
Retracing roads by muscle
And lost in sleepless thoughts.
It seems at every crisscrossed street
Sleepy traffic lights are blinking
Causing cars to pause.
Too many other humans
Out too early or too late
Turning on to Tree streets
Turning off of mine

How did I come to stumble here
All weariness and wanderlust?
Directions scribbled on napkins
Or maps from memory?
It’s misplaced sleep or loss of blood
Or rules of love rewritten
It’s the tattered edges of days gone by
And dreams pushed farther on.
Inward, toward, upward, forward
With every spent second
The future’s slipping in to past.

No right on red at Pleasant.
Left arrow at the next light.
Right. Left. Stop. Driveway.
And no light on the back stairs.
I’m all fumbling and far too loud
Knocking tables, dropping keys
Dropping in to darkened dreams
And still wearing my shoes
A strained attempt to disentangle
A wet and single digit morning
From the fringes of a yesternight.

- Jn

What is it about prime numbers and music in odd timing signatures?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My students

Why do I care about my students and why do I run myself into the ground to do the absolute best I can by them? I have no idea.

1. Because it is my job and if a job is worth doing its worth using your whole ass.

2. In a very round about way, they pay me to teach them. It isn't their fault it is so round about and it also isn't their fault I am not paid enough.

3. I have absolutely no proof that anyone else in this university cares about them and dammit someone has to.

4. Some of them will end up being my friends post class

5. Some of them will even say Hi to me in the hall way

6. Some of them are brilliant even if they haven't figured it out yet and they will be amazing.

7. Some of them aren't cut out for this at least not yet but I know how to be gentler than I trust my colleagues to be.

8. Some of them are just dumb but honestly even if it is there fault that they are dumb (this means you stoner kid) they are still a human and they have certain rights as a human and those rights include not having me take all my anger out on them even if I want to

9. I am constantly learning

10. I am constantly being humbled

11. I am constantly being lifted up and told I am awesome

12. Because by whatever twist of fate they have been entrusted to me for a semester and I take real ownership on how they do

13. Because I am a student to and I know what it means to have someone like me as a teacher

14. Because I am trying to prepare myself for a future of doing this

15. Because I can't help myself, because I am me.



16. For Sarah G who I forgot reads this on Facebook.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

It's time

This is me. I am growing my own munitions this year. Today was maybe the first warm day in forever soooooooo no planting yet. But I will let you know.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Dear Jenn

Me: You have a Tea Addiction.

Me: I know. But there are worse addictions.

Me: That's true but it is still and addiction.

Me: I know and I am coming to terms with that.

`Well, I'd hardly finished the first verse,' said the Hatter, `when the Queen jumped up and bawled out, "He's murdering the time! Off with his head!"'

`How dreadfully savage!' exclaimed Alice.

`And ever since that,' the Hatter went on in a mournful tone, `he won't do a thing I ask! It's always six o'clock now.'

A bright idea came into Alice's head. `Is that the reason so many tea-things are put out here?' she asked.

`Yes, that's it,' said the Hatter with a sigh: `it's always tea-time, and we've no time to wash the things between whiles.'

`Then you keep moving round, I suppose?' said Alice.

`Exactly so,' said the Hatter: `as the things get used up.'

`But what happens when you come to the beginning again?' Alice ventured to ask.

`Suppose we change the subject,' the March Hare interrupted, yawning.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Groundhog's Day Twinkie- As promised

Last year I tried to document the essence of the Twinkie. This year I convinced AK to be my guest photographer so that the rest of the world could have some of the Twinkie eating experience. I mean if you aren't me or Jenn you will never completely understand what eathing a 7 year old Twinkie really does to you but these pictures may help. I was telling people it was something like 5 or so years this year but I am off by 2. It really has been 7 years and that disturbs me more than eating the Twinkie. 2 years vanished from memory. Oh well. The pictures...

Before I started I showed the Twinkie to AK for verification purposes. It looked normal but it was really, really hard.

This is obviously before the first bite. Notice the expression- a healthy mix of excitement and concern. "I wonder what this year will bring...I hope I don't die."

Still excited and trying to figure out the best place to take the bite out of the 7 year old rock hard Twinkie.

The first bite. I think this picture is before the taste buds kicked in and its all about the texture. It was hard/stale and super crumbly. Very chalky.

Now I can taste it. But it's so dry that it's hard to chew and swallow. I think the taste is pretty much old high fructose corn syrup. Super saccharine-y and overpowering. This picture is my favorite because it is pretty much spot on for the whole experience.

Yes. Yes it really is that gross.

If you are keeping track over the years you will remember that the filling completely changed in color and texture and last year it was pretty much all absorbed into the 'cake' and dried out. However, this year I hit a patch of that while absorbed, was still chewy and still sort of white-ish.

Somehow I look normal while eating a 7 year old Twinkie???

Just a few more bites. I am sending proof of the experience out to the team of people praying for me in Rochester.

A close up of the star.

El fin. The wrapper with a view of the water from the 8th floor of the UMB library.

I urge you not to try this, not that anyone else is this crazy. The report from Jenn is that her Twinkie was dark (multi-grain?) but everything else is pretty similar in description. Cheers

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Week 2

Things are not well at UMB. I don't know a person who is not walking around stewing and furious. Things started out looking promising even perfect for pretty much everyone during the last week of Christmas break but by the end of week two everything had been upended. Those told they would not be teaching have been pressed in to it. Those told they would have days free for doing research or field work now have to come in. Everyone I know has been screwed in at least one way and most of us in several very large ways.

The problem now is that there is this pervasive undercurrent of anger. And from what I can tell everyone is trying their various ways to cool off and it isn't working. Tears, prayer, meditation, drinking, therapy, talking things out with others, trying to reason with the offending party. Everyone is still PISSED OFF and its leaking out in to the rest of our lives.

In the past 2 weeks I have been so angry I could not cry, so angry I could not stop crying, so angry I could not eat, too angry to be able to eat anything at all, so angry I could not speak, so angry I swore in front of my students, so angry I could not move or function or consciously think of the next reasonable step to take to move forward, so angry I almost went out and bought a shelter cat (I have no idea?).

I think part of the problem is that everyone is unhappy and everyone knows it and everyone does not have to be unhappy and we also know that too. BUT because of poor planning, last minute readjustments, miss communications and other human errors everyone got screwed over and now that the second week of the semester is drawing to a close the schedules are pretty much set in stone. Whatever you were dealt, you are now stuck with it. Suck it up and deal with it. But I think it is the overwhelming knowledge that it didn't have to be this way AT ALL that has everyone stuck. That and the fact that every other person you interact with has a similar story. Somehow that keeps fueling the angry and not letting it die out. Like an infection or something that keeps mutating slightly and reinfecting the host.

It also isn't the type of anger that is useful in fueling you to move forward or change things because you have to move forward in to the broken semester schedule and you can't change it. It is the "suck it up wuss" type of anger that requires rallying up more energy to throw at quenching the anger, It is energy draining, productivity sapping anger. And its everywhere I need to be productive.

I have a tremendous amount on my plate the semester and my ability to check off all of the boxes was tenuous at best when I signed up for it. Now the odds are stacked that much higher against me and resources that I need from other people are also starting to fail. Commitments are being broken, deadlines are not being met, expectations are not being made clear, and agreements are being invalidated to a shocking degree. While this comes off as a pity party it isn't meant to be. This is what I am facing and what I am seeing and what I am trying to figure out how to deal with. The majority of the people I rely on are facing the same problems and some of their problems are ME. I think that the general overall fuck-up has completely undermined everyone's trust. That is a hard hard thing and I think that is the root of why we are all stuck in angry gear.

A dear friend sent me this note last night. Then they told her she didn't have enough credits to graduate in June and would have to wait until December, long after they told her that the courses she took were approved. Now it looks like they might revert to the original plan but things are still painfully up in the air. (One step forward, two steps back, one step forward...)

Today she called me to get/give a pep talk and our homework is to get off our asses and move forward so our theses don't ruin our lives. So it is with that in mind that I post her list and my response...

AK's Life Decisions
1. I'm going to start painting. Sunsets, beaches, trees, water...all the things I love.
2. I'm going to listen to more makes me feel alive and sophisticated. (Download Eva Cassidy)
3. When I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it. (Thesis, thesis, thesis).
4. I'm going to stop picking my mutha fuckin fingas!
5. I'm never going to eat a Twinkie again.
6. I am going to get a puppy and name him Mulligan and he will sit by my side while I do #1 and sometimes #2.
7. When I get frustrated with life, I am going to take a deep breath and thank God for all my blessings.

More to come...this was to wet your whistle (say it like Rabbit on Whinnie the Pooh).

I think I'm going insane.

Jn's Life Decisions
1. I'm not going to start painting. But I will write more. Sunsets, beaches, trees, water...all the things I love.
2. I'm going to listen to more makes me feel alive and sophisticated. (Download Eva Cassidy)
3. When I say I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it. (Thesis, thesis, thesis). I am going to keep a CURRENT to do list so things aren't forgotten, misplaced or mismanaged in to the ground and so I get back to being dependable.
4. It is unreasonable to think that I will ever stop picking my mutha fuckin fingas! but I am really going to try. (AK and I share a frightening number of neurotic tendencies.)
5. I'm am not going to eat another Twinkie for 362 days. I am never going to enjoy a Twinkie. I am going to post the Twinkie pictures...soon.
6. I am going to get a puppy and name her Ruger and she will go with me everywhere I can possibly take her.
7. When I get frustrated with life, I am going to take a deep breath and thank God for all my blessings. There are more blessings than just "I can still walk" and "No one that I know has died this week" and I will actively look for them.


Monday, February 01, 2010

Tomorrow is Groundhog's Day

If you don't know what this means to me then you don't know me. For reference see this:

Aimee does not yet know that she is going to be documenting this tomorrow when we meet to thesis but she will. More on this tomorrow obviously.

Also, dear facebook readers I still cannot log on. I love you very much and you can email me. I will respond. Also my cell has not changed so you can try that too. (This is particularly directed at you Anna and MelKel and Misha. Misha I got your text and yes we need to hang out.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Themes of the kitchen

So we’ve been trying to do more with less. It’s a good moto when you have a choice. When you crunch the numbers and figure out that you cannot both keep a budget and cover your needs on your current income it isn’t really a moto any more.

I will go in to the details of how we are attempting the whole more with less thing a bit later. More than one step and each sorta deserves its own attempt to shine.

For now know that we had to eat our groceries in reverse order of priority after our last shopping trip. We had more frozenables than our freezer would hold and while it started out nice and frosty outside, it didn’t hold long enough. So we have been in a race to eat food before it went bad since we bought it and now we are at the end of the road and the few remaining fresh fruits and veggies were ready to sprout legs.

Today was all about using up every little thing possible before it was too late. Even if it things didn’t make culinary sense. There is also a birthday which needed tending.

Garbage Can Stuffed Peppers… Dos
(I don’t remember how I made uno any more but I know I used both WINE and KETCHUP in the same recipe. I have no shame.)
(whatever is going bad in the kitchen?)
6 Green peppers minus the one you already ate
1 Onion
7 very small vine tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic (or however many you can find in the corners of the fridge)
1 pound ground meat. Try turkey or beef or woodchuck if you have it.
½ C uncooked rice. I used jasmine basmati rice
½ a baby can of tomato sauce
An artistic amount of Ketchup
Worcestershire sauce
Feta Cheese (however much cheese you want)
Parmesan Cheese (ditto)
Spices: Chili Powder, Crushed Red Pepper, Oregano, Ground Coriander, Parsley, Ground Pepper, Salt

Start some water boiling in a big pot. Cut the tops off the peppers and remove any edible pepper pieces from the tops before you pitch them. Scoop the seeds and ribs from the peppers and cut out any bad spots. (Note: you really shouldn’t use peppers with bad spots because the goodness will leak out the holes. Damn) Drop the hollowed out peppers in the boiling water for 3 minutes (longer is NOT better here). Finely chop the remaining pepper pieces from the tops and set them aside. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to get the peppers out of the pot. Drain the water from the insides and set aside. Dump the rice into the water where the peppers just were and add a heaping helping of the above spices. Cook the rice for about 13 minutes or until it starts to get soft but not done. Finely chop the onion to match the pepper tops. Add some olive oil to a 12 inch, well seasoned cast iron skillet of awesomeness and throw in the chopped onions and peppers. When the onions start to become translucent add in the ground meat product. Drain the water from the half cooked rice and set aside. Dice the tomatoes. When the meat is almost completely browned add the garlic and tomatoes, then the tomato sauce and quantity of the above spices that you wish. Use the ketchup to sketch something interesting on top of the mixture and then use it to sign your name on your work. Throw on two splooshes of Worcestershire sauce and turn off the heat. Mix in the rice, feta and parmesan cheese. Place the parboiled peppers…in a muffin tin. Stuff them as full of the meat rice concoction as possible. Put any remaining meat/rice into a bread pan and pretend it’s a meatloaf. Bake everything for 25 or so minutes at 350 until everything is warm and gooey and wonderful all the way through.

Note 1: If I had more garlic I would add it. Then maybe some tomato paste and red wine in the meat mix .And mozzarella. Lots of mozzarella. I would even sprinkle mozzarella on top of the peppers so that it could get all melty and brown. For spices I would add garlic powder and basil to both the meat and the rice mix.

Note 2: I prepped and packed my parboiled peppers in my pepper pan and popped the peppers in the fridge for the present. I will bake them when I know what train my boyfriend is getting on.

1 Bad Banana 9 Good Cupcakes
Dry Ingredients:
1 C flour (Use whole wheat and pretend its healthy)
¾ C sugar (Brown sugar compliments the whole wheat pretty well)
¾ t Baking Powder
3/8 t baking soda (or ¼ and half of ¼ t since no one owns 1/8 spoons but me)
¼ t salt
1/8 nutmeg (or just give the shaker some authoritative shakes)
¼ t cinnamon

Wet Ingredients:
1 banana mashed to oblivion (~0.5 C)
¼ C milk and 1/8 t lemon juice
¼ C butter
1 Egg beaten
½ t Vanilla
¼ t Almond Extract

Preheat the oven to like 350ish. Combine and mix the dry ingredients. Do the same with the wet ones. Then thoroughly mix the 2 together. Slap some muffin papers in a muffin tin or grease the wells. Add the batter to the tin and bake for about 18 minutes. This made 9 muffins for me. You might also elect to make a mini cake. This should be the right size for a 9x9 pan…just bake the thing for longer. Feel free to double the recipe since that’s how it started.

DISCLAIMER: I have no idea how good these are. You tell me. I refuse to eat them. Last time I tried the original recipe I gagged. I can’t make myself like these any more unlike banana bread. Every time I make a banana baked good I think I am going to upchuck.

Posing as Healthy Cream Cheese Frosting
(I pretty much stole this one straight up aside from the fact that I added copious amounts of cinnamon as well)

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons butter (called for unsalted but whatever)
2 tablespoons brown sugar (called for light but goodness they were picky)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (do people really measure vanilla and almond extract?)
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 tablespoon honey
An over healthy dose of cinnamon

Melt butter and allow to cool. Or just melt it and toss it in. Why not? In a large bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, brown sugar, vanilla and almond extract. Beat with an electric mixer. Or since you don’t own a mixer use a fork. When mixture starts to stiffen, stop mixer fork and add honey and copious amounts of cinnamon. Continue to beat until light and fluffy. Do not over mix, or it will collapse (I can’t vouch for this). Spread immediately and store cake in refrigerator.

DISCLAIMER 2: Use extreme caution as the frosting is highly addictive and more than one coal miner’s daughter has become sick from eating too much at a sitting. I wonder if you could freeze it in to ice cream! Mmmm. Death.


Been a long time since I rock and rolled

I took a break to try to get my shit together. Turns out that to get your shit together properly you can’t actually take a break. Funny that. All I really got out of the repose was the revelation that if I am not actively writing I suck at it. I stutter in text. Can’t keep a thought rolling to a finish. And I tend towards not starting at all. If I can productively procrastinate enough the day is done and the writing isn’t…but I didn’t have to suffer through my own mediocrity. Which in turn breeds a new form of mediocrity.

Let’s try and be done with that.

In the coming months I need to write for a handful of scholarships and there is that whole evil thesis lingering…looming…lurking…waiting to grab and wrap my foot around a root under the water until I run out of air. I don’t think I will ever be in the mood for that but ima do if only because I have to.

And since my audience of 5 is primarily in tune via Facebook I thought I might pass along to you that Facebook and I are not on speaking terms. It’s not me. Facebook somehow dissociated all of the email addresses from my account so I can’t sign in. I still get some email notifications but I can’t do anything about it. I waste less time but boy is it a pain in the ass.

Also I had to re-pierce my nose today. I think things have reverted back to the way they were before the ring got put in, when everyone told me that it was a bad idea and that they wouldn’t like it and neither would I. But seeing as how it’s the only piece of jewelry that I wear that I can regularly see and the face happens to be mine, it’s my choice. And I still like it. Enough to withstand the involuntary blood and tears and near loss of consciousness that go with acute pain that close to the eyes. Maybe someday when I have a two year old, or an interview for a real job…

I spent most of the day in the kitchen so you will get the results of that shortly. Use it as you will.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

If nothing else- Pray for Haiti

For updates on HAFF and the missionaries see here:

For a good charity see here: