That's a saying among cooks but I hadn't heard it in ages until today. It came out of Gordon Ramsay. Gal Friday is a natural cook and I like talking food with her. It's a kick for me to pass on cooking tips, especially to bright and enthusiastic people who take what I give them and improve it. Which was one thing I loved about Aunt Nancy's Ashram, Phoebe Muffinpants lived there and she's a helluva talent. We had great times cooking meals for the crowd. (Sadly, Aunt Nancy is leaving the area and the Ashram is gone already. It was home to many over the years and will be missed.)
Gordon Ramsay isn't one of my favorite people. I find him abusive and mean and I really hope that's just for the show because if he's like that to his staff it's a wonder he has any. But Gal Friday likes the show and there's little else on in the afternoon so what the hell. Some of the places he goes to are amazingly bad and I get to say, "If I'd run things that way when I was in kitchens..." a lot. And over the last few Friday afternoons I've come to a grudging understanding of the Nastiest Cook on TV.
When he walked away from a place he'd "fixed" on today's program he uttered the famous ego-deflating punchline above and it reminded me of the unspoken cooks' code. You may win stars and awards, you may get great reviews, you may be a renowned cook but it all comes down to your last service. The last thing you made says everything about your craft- dedication, passion and even your thrift. Last night I was up until 3 a.m. roasting a chicken because it's too hot to roast anything in the daytime. It was roast it or let it go in the trash and I can't afford to waste good food. It roasted while my eyes were trying to slam shut. Now there's yummy cold chicken for our dinner and for the weekend. Worth it, even if it meant losing a couple hours' sleep. I love ovens. They do the work, all you have to do is know how to use them.
The upcoming party has me picking and choosing how much I'll cook and how much I'll store-buy. I'll have to cook much of it, but things like potato salad and mac salad... I don't know. I can buy premade and doctor it or go through the prepping and boiling and dressing myself for what seems like no reason. I'm reasonably sure I can doctor a deli salad to make it good (there aren't any gooduns around here, at least to my standards) but part of me hates the cop out. Still, I have enough to do with the prepping, munchies, beans and meats and desserts. I treat all meals like it's a service, so what people eat in my house matters a lot to me. I have a boatload of damning pride whether it's Lobster Newburgh or a hot dog. But at this point in life I need to adapt to what's doable. Which looks more and more like lowering standards across the board lately.
Then there's the risk that what's bought isn't correctable. That's a long shot but always possible. Since I don't do my shopping it's not like I can taste them before purchase. So it's a big leap of faith. I'll just hope that whoever makes those salads also believes they're only as good as their last service.
Ah yes, it's really Summer. Kids are out of school, vacation plans brewing, fans on high. I'd like to share some bits of my childhood in here too... I've a tall glass of lemonade and the sun is setting... company on the way over... no hassles... a sweet Summer night about to happen...
This whole last week zipped by. I didn't intentionally not blog, it just happened. Life gets busy. There's so much to do and in the middle of things I'll get an attack of the Summer Lazies. Then I won't do anything I'm supposed to do. Which backs things up and creates more to be done.
In prepping for the July 4th party I've been thinking about what's happened in the last year and getting used to things not being in crisis. Everything's slower past 50, phsically and mentally. It's a marked difference... and what can I expect of an organic machine that's lived thru all I threw at it for so long? I worked 2 jobs or more from 1986 til 2000 and kept working til I physically couldn't anymore. And that's just working. I can't believe all I've put this body thru- and it's still alive. 16 short years ago I ran up a dirt road hill, barefoot, for a mile. Drunk and exhausted after working a double. Now walking is breathtaking pain. And it was a "slow fade" as my boss said. It was a process over years. But looking back it seems not so long ago I was building a stone patio and a 100-foot long. 5 foot high cement block wall.
And I've been writing, just not here. Man, can writing eat up time. You start at 8 a.m. and look up and it's 1 p.m. You haven't gotten a fresh coffee, been to the bathroom, fed the cat, nada. Like when I'm painting or drawing, I go somewhere that time doesn't measure linearly.
Okay, the tomato plants and cat litter are calling. Then another mindmeld in an hour. It's always something but I wanted to stop in and catch up a little. Hope everyone's at least as happy and busy as I am, even if the busy is too busy.
It's not as furnacelike as yesterday was but it's still too much like Dog Days for my liking.
Good memories of days like this involving drugs that are no longer available and doing things that aren't done anymore come to mind. Those relatively careless days when the drear of responsibilities were overshadowed by the plans for the night, back when we lived for fun. I think that's the major difference in me. Doing what had to be done was just a minor inconvenience- a job, housework, exercise, eating- all of that was never the center of my life, for years and years. I barely cared if or where I ended up sleeping. There wasn't an issue of what was doable because it all was.
And there were fantastic perks to the Summer. Concerts all the time. Little ones in the borough parks with upcoming bands. Giant ones in Madison Square Garden and the Nassau Coliseum and sometimes in Central Park. Street bands on corners you'd join in with and wail for a couple of hours. Clubs and bars overflowing with singing and dancing people. Some nights we'd just sit in a park and play and sing with each other, our little crowd. Heaven, that was. The other things I loved, reading and cooking and art, were mostly put away until the Summer's last hurrahs. Summer was its own world. Music, friends, partying, cruising, amusement parks (even the ones created in your head by certain substances), adventures. These were the important things. What the Summer night held was magic. It was hot in every sense of the word.
Now in 2012 the things that matter are bodily comfort, counting every penny, doing what must be done and not making more pain. It's all about responsibility, all day and all night. Fun? Well I had a great time in April. A legendary time. It was weeks before that wore off. Music? I can put on some tunes and listen, as long as it's not loud or the neighbors will bitch. There aren't people to make music with anymore. Not that you can do that here, either. Hanging out? The over-50 crowd doesn't do that much. I've been trying to put together one little hangout session for 3 months. The July 4th Post-Parade Party will bring the gang together but most everyone will be resting and eating before going to the fireworks at night. It's nice and I'm looking forward to it, but it's a lukewarm thing.
So rising from that dreary beige world is my mission. There's a lot I can't do, but there's a lot I can do. Every time I surface from the day to day blahness of existence my spirits fall at what little fun there is anymore. Screw that. Who knows what it'll be or how to do it but I'm working up a new design for living and it's gonna be hot.
It's officially Summer and officially disgustingly hot. We hit 94'F at 3 p.m. in beautiful southern Vermont. There's no wind in the Shire and plenty of humidity. I fared pretty well in here without AC. Keeping the house closed and dark works; I don't think it got above 80 in here. I just turned the window fans on and will leave them on again overnight. Even though it's not forecast to go below 65 tonight, it'll be cool enough to get through it. Friday we're scheduled for thunderstorms and things will be more bearable after that.
Keep safe, everyone. Stay in shade, or AC if you have it, drink plenty of fluids, make sure your animal pals are comfortable and have fresh water, and move like Uncle Joe (kinda slow). I'd say get nekkid but that's illegal in this town. :) This will pass- they're calling for highs in the 70s next week. I've noticed we generally have 2 really hot spells a Summer. I just hope this is one and there's nothing worse that'll make this look cool.
It's gonna be a scorcher today in the Northeast. The humidity is already 92% and the temp is going to the mid-nineties. Summer's not officially here until 7:09 tonight but it's coming in on a blaze of fiery Heatmiserly stickiness. Happy Solstice. Cam sent me a Solstice greeting this morning with this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWrnTWeWz2s
So I had to send my very Summery response: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qfpgb62m1A
I wish I could say that my non-posting days have been full of creative and fabulous projects but they haven't been. I've been entirely lazy, full of self-pity, dragging my ass and a touch depressed. No big deal, just another level of realization that I can't do things that I'd like to. No Panto this year. What they need is not what I can do. Oh well, boohoo, move along and get over it.
So my attention turns to things to come. The Princess' cheese shop is about T- 3 weeks to opening. We're meeting tonight to go over the menu. I'm trying something I've never tried in all these years of food service. I don't know if it already exists and nobody ever did it in my experience but it makes sense and will streamline operations. We'll see how it goes over.
And there's a string of little things that I need to get done. Those minor irritants, nagging away. Hate them.
Today is Beery and Mac's 30th Anniversary. 30 years and they haven't killed each other. If you knew them you'd know how remarkable that is.
And it's past noon already and again I haven't gotten half of what I want done, done. I have a backlog of news articles and things to post but it'll have to wait for later. Gal Friday will be here momentarily and I'm not ready for her. Gotta go.
I hate any war, but our servicefolk are good people who just get caught up in things they don't have control in and they do their duty at a great personal cost. They deserve whatever support we can give them. Thanks.
Here are some full movies I came across on YouTube. There's a variety here, from Bill Maher's agnostic quest in "Religulous" to the somewhat disturbing programming of children in "Jesus Camp"; from the thought-provoking "Mr. Nobody" to the knight with a Brooklyn accent in "The Black Shield of Falworth". And there's escapism in "The Hobbit" (saw that with some date at the Ziegfeld Theatre in 1978) and a bit of mindless horror in "Urban Legend". You'll also see a bunch of other movies listed in the sidebars of these posts on YT. It's free, but see them while you can. These things may be pulled at any time.
I'm taking the day off from life. But there's one article that everyone needs to read. This very thing was talked about a lot when I was in culinary school, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Somehow it never made front page news.
Since the USB of Greg Lake's autobio part one was empty (thank you, China), I called and asked for the download. They sent me the links, I downloaded them. There they sit, mp3 and m4b, zippy and right there. But...
WHEN I OPEN THEM TO PLAY A BAJILLION SCREENS POP UP AND THE ONLY WAY TO MAKE IT STOP IS TO SHUT THE COMPUTER DOWN.
I've looked for solutions on the web. Nothing. I emailed the guy who sent them to me. He's stumped. All my other downloads work just fine.
It's times like these that make me wish I'd never gotten a computer. That computers were never even friggin made. And I begin to understand how little annoyances can become so huge that one goes postal.
After this experience, I'll wait for the book at the end of the year. It's just not worth it. 30 bucks for day after day of agita? No thanks. I love you Greg, but not enough to suffer through this shinola.
Let's take a look at money today, shall we? I consider myself flush if I have 20 bucks in my pocket. Some aren't feeling it with a few million in their pockets and some wish they had the four bucks for a gallon of milk.
In light of recent revolting developments around here plans are changed. I figure this gives me 3 years to get Gimp's Guide done and out on the market. Which means 2 years to get the writing done. This is doable. What keeps pushing me back is that there's always new material as I live being in disability, and the sheer amount of topics and areas to cover keeps growing. And it's all stuff that I have to deal with in real time. It's not an academic study. That would be easy.
This housing experience in itself is a chapter. Who knew all these regulations and determinations that apply when you're a gimp in a flood zone? Or how much sideways communication goes on in these things? Getting a straight answer is impossible, it's like talking to the sphinx but in reverse. You have to ask particular, finely phrased questions to get a meaningful answer. And if their game is good, they still find a way to answer sideways. It helps a lot to have family who know some things and just tell you. I'm lucky in that. But others don't have that resource and are spending time and energy twisting in the wind coming up with ideas and options that will only be shot down.
And whoopee! A breakthrough of truth at last. I've been having a go-round with the guy who has the unenviable position of liaison to the Hobbits and he's just said that when federal $ is involved, gimps and elders aren't allowed to be in a flood zone. So, case closed, we're outta here. Finally, the truth from someone official.
I suppose, to hedge my bets, I'll lobby for the "opium den" in the new construction*. Just in case Gimp's Guide isn't a bestseller. ;)
*opium den= demand the most outrageous to get what you really want.
After settling into the resignation of what will happen to the Shire, I just took the day for what it'd be. There was good- Greg's autobio USB got here, and there was bad- after 2 hours of monkeying around I went into the folder and found voila! the stick is empty. All that's on there is the instruction for downloading to iTunes. And by the time all that was over it was too late to call them in CDSFT and get the download sent to me. Natch. So no Greg this weekend. Well, I waited a year, what's another couple of days? It's a cute little package, a rubber guitar in a printed silver tin. Too bad that's all it is. It'll look nice on the bookshelves.
But I watched a great silly movie tonight, "Bubba Ho-Tep". It's about two guys in a nursing home, one who thinks he's Elvis (Bruce Campbell) and another who thinks he's JFK (Ossie Davis). The nursing home is under attack from a cursed mummy. They set out to fix things. Yes, see it. Thanks to Cam for the rec.
A few days ago I saw "Across the Universe". Sweet, a bit nostalgic, lots of Beatles tunes. As this sort of movie goes it's charming without being cloying. Sometimes I just need The Beatles.
And now it's the weekend. No walking cows, no meetings, no big schmagiggels. The cat has stopped puking and the house is reasonably clean. Maybe I'll get around to wiring up the tomato plants. My body was well racked up from last night's sitting for hours so that didn't get done today. I'm very very tired. Tomorrow is FTW day. The only serious thought will be making a stroganoff for dinner. I think it'll be a good day for "In the Court of the Crimson King" played very loudly.
So in the end it's exactly what I thought. After an hour and change of reassuring hopeful salesmanship, the Australian Planning Guy we now have said that the new Town Plan calls for this place being gone. So there it is. We'll have 3-5 years, maybe 7, before it's all done and the Hobbits are booted out. Alternative sites are being spec'd out, the new housing will probably be an apartment block of several floors, no yards, no porches, no veggie patches, no trees. Bye-bye Shire.
Two older-than-me ladies, upon hearing it'll be 3 years before there's a plan on paper, said to each other, "Well, we don't have to worry, we'll be gone by then." I don't think they were talking about moving to Florida.
And of course it all came down to money.
Several people I knew were there. Special K left about 20 minutes after she arrived. Of the entire Selectboard, only Dora showed up. The Town Manager didn't bother. There were some FEMA people, some housing advocates, a smattering of residents I recognized. In all, about 60 people. The Princess stayed and we came back here and rehashed it over some Ben and Jerry's.
I don't know if I'll unpack anymore or hang any more pictures. In a couple of short years it'll just have to be packed again. I'd really hoped this was it for good and all. Unless something wild happens (which is always possible in my life) I'll move on to the warehouse with the others. Well. Quite a day.
Here I am, getting ready for dinner and The Meeting. I'm not expecting good news, or even encouragement, from what we'll hear tonight. In fact, I'm expecting to hear the subtleties of being told we're doomed. Broken gently and balanced in the olive branches of "we've tried", but nonetheless it'll be the early stages of eviction.
Because it ain't my first time at the rodeo, and I've seen this scenario oh so many times, I can't be optimistic. These "community meetings" generally serve as handholding and kisses before being you-know-what-ed. In this country money always wins. Poor people never win. The best one can do is make those who're doing it feel like the shit they are. And we may well be told it's all for our benefit. If that phrase or anything like it even comes out of someone's mouth I'll walk out. I'll listen to their bullshit but I won't be pissed on and told it's raining.
This should be interesting. If my head doesn't explode I'll post post-meeting.
Mr. Bradbury was one of my favorite writers growing up. He was a character in his own right, an author of future worlds who personally disliked automation and didn't even trust cars.
For me, his most quotable quote is, "If someone tells you to do something for money, tell them to go to hell." I can't imagine my teenage years without The Illustrated Man and Fahrenheit 451.
He was a man of contradictions with an arsenal of fears. In his writings he managed to make antiheroes understandable and the impossible very likely, through his ability to find the commonalities in us all. And nothing was spared from the horror or love that makes up life.
Somehow I end up entertaining a lot. July 4th is just around the corner too, and the annual Post-Parade Party. So this month is where I lay in the food for it. It's a production but I've streamlined it through the years so it's not overwhelming. All the meats are in the freezer. the kielbasis, the hot dogs, the meat for Swedish meatballs, the chicken for salad. The elbows await becoming salads, even the condiments are in. This year I'm ahead of schedule. All that's left to get are the fresh things- veggies and buns.
In the weeks running up to such a party I test things, too. We have a big meeting on Thursday night for the future of the Shire and I expect to have people here both before and after and they'll be my Guinea Pigs.... um, tasters... of new recipes. It's usually too hot and muggy to bake for the 4th, so I'm going for smarter, not harder. No-bake pies and ice-cream based yummies. I love cooking and creating recipes. Wouldn't have done it for a career if I didn't. When there's some food I'm not familiar with cooking I like to play with it.
Which brings up Nutella. Never have used it in a recipe. There are a bajillion recipes on the web. Plenty of Nutella recipes for all the usual stuff- I'd hardly call putting it between pancakes or waffles "a recipe" though. Nutella is sweet but I've noticed it loses flavor when blended with other things. Since I'm a big dairy fan I'm working up a sour cream-Nutella pie. We'll see how that goes.
And The Princess is going into business soon, opening a cheese shop. I'm working up recipes for her to use involving cheeses. Savory cheesecakes, panini, quiches, soups, desserts. I don't like cheese mixed with chocolate but it's popular among those who like it. I suppose I'll have to work up some things for that crowd.
I'm also wondering how rose would work into it all. I had a rose custard pie once that I still remember...
While I'm still eating healthy and avoiding calorie-laden things I have no problem foisting such things on unsuspecting friends. Looks like even in retirement I'll always be in the kitchen, and that's fine by me.
Anyone can join in anytime, there aren't really any rules except that you should post a bit of writing about the photo (poetry, prose, a short story, haiku, whatever) sometime during the week (I've failed at this regularly, so don't worry if you don't get to it). Do link to whomever else is in on it so there's a string of reference and we all know you're in. Have fun!
While busy with other things I hadn't put much thought to a Bucket List. I don't do those kinds of things. There are things I want to do, of course. Things generally just present themselves in my life. I don't rely on this too much but I'm rarely let down when it's something I reallly deep down want. My life is weird that way.
Anyway, for years I've wanted to be part of a Christmastime Panto. It was just a little wish that I didn't put much into. We in the States don't do Panto. Through all those years my husband was acting in NYC, not one Panto was ever put on. Way back when I was into acting there never was a Panto. Theatre in general isn't as popular up here as it used to be. We have a thriving kids' theatre and school, but adult community theatre is trickling away. No chance of a Panto, ever. Until now.
On Monday the 18th we meet for the first organizing efforts. I don't know how much I'll be participating. Certainly not on stage. Maybe in the future but not this year. I'd love, love, love to be in the writing of it. And maybe a dabble in the art & design of the set. This is almost as exciting as planning for Greg Night (something else I never thought would happen but did).
I've no idea how I'll get to this meeting but it's just downtown in my bank so if it comes to it I'll get a cab. I can always beg a ride home. And just take it one thing at a time. If I get on the writing staff we can meet here; what a welcome chance for entertaining people who aren't here on terribly serious business! This is a really joyful prospect. I wonder how many people who've always wanted to do this or who've given up on theatre productions since they were kids will get in on this. The Princess is in already. We're gonna have such fun!!! Yay!
Oh good lordamighty. I wish the Battle for The Shire was as easy as killing a few orcs and going up against one big evil. This is a Cthulhu among octopuses. There are so many agencies and so many regulations to be satisfied it's just staggering. We had a fairly long but amiable meeting, and the people working on this seem to be as overwhelmed as I felt coming out of it.
The foreseeable worst? We may lose a couple of buildings and the elderly and disabled may not be allowed to live here in the end anyway. Even with flood mitigation and all things satisfied it could be deemed too dangerous for the very people who are fighting to keep it. I'm glad I enjoy irony.
And this morning while sitting here returning emails I witnessed some guy back right into Special K's mother's car. He got out of his car, said, "Ooooo," quite loudly while looking at the damage he'd done, got back in his car and drove away. I took down his plate number and description. Haven't gone out to see what he did. I'm still in my robe.
It's gonna be One of Those Days. There will be a lot of them to come, I'm sure. And there's nothing to be done but laugh at the absurdity.