Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday Pastry Madness 2008

These are our spiffy new cases.

11 straight days of 10-13 hour days.
Here's Saturday's pile o'cakes - all made by yours truly.
There are no photos of the thousands of truffles we've gone through in the last two weeks.

Here's what we did today. 11 regular cakes, 12 Battenburgs and 3 Buche de Noels. It will take a parade to get everything down to the shop.

Tomorrow, we take all our cakes and all our truffles down to the store. Then we come back and deep clean the kitchen. And then go home. We're off on Christmas. I haven't looked forward to Christmas this much since I was about 5.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Drumming Up the Sun

The sky is black, the stars are bright, the air is frigid. It's an hour or so before dawn on the morning of the winter solstice.

We can hear the drums as we walk toward the amphitheater. The waning crescent moon hangs over the tall crag that forms the southern wall of the amphitheater. We choose our space, spread our blankets on the icy seats. The drumming continues. Somewhere in the darkness someone plays a didgeridoo.

Najah takes out a tiny cauldron, lights charcoal. We share a cup of coffee while it smolders. When the coals are ready, she scatters a homemade blend of sage, cedar and copal. Smoke spirals up, the scents blending with the cold, the stone, the snow. Frankincense wafts down the rows, the drums keep pounding.

Najah takes up her rattles, I take up my drum. We join in the rhythm. There's no leader, no program, no script. People keep arriving, the drums get louder. The darkness slowly fades. There's no sign of the sun, but now there's enough light to see that the sky is cloudless, except for two banks of clouds rising up from the horizon like the wings of a dragon. The drumming continues, the dragon's wings turn from purple to a fiery magenta. The drumming continues. My shoulder is beginning to ache. I keep drumming. The wings turn to molten gold. There is the faintest line of light at the horizon. The drumming continues. And continues. It builds in intensity. There is still only the faintest line of light on the horizon. We drum and we drum, and the sun does not appear. Time seems to be frozen. The sun is not coming up. We drum louder and faster. The sun is not coming up. And suddenly, I understand the fears of our ancestors. For a moment, I am afraid the sun will not come up, that it has gone away, never to return. A deep, atavistic fear that the world will remain in darkness.

The drumming continues, it gets louder, faster, more insistent. A raven flies across the sky. The crescent moon hangs about the rock. Frankincense, sage, cedar and coffee mingle in the cold air. The line of light grows thicker. The drumming gets louder, faster. The sun peeps above the horizon, only a quarter of it visible. It hovers there, teasing, enjoying the attention. The drumming reaches a frenzy, voices break into ulalations and howls. The sound echoes on the rocks at the sun finally shows itself above the horizon. Hands raise in salute. Hail and welcome the reborn sun!

Now that the sun is in the sky, I can see the faces of the twohundred or so people who braved single digit temperatures to celebrate the Solstice. Everyone is shining.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Jumping on the movie train

1. Pick 16 of your favorite movies.2. Go to IMDb and find a quote from each movie.3. Post them here for everyone to guess...see how many you can get without resorting to Google! Quotes that involve more than one speaker have italics.

1.I understand that you were handicapped by a natural immaturity, and I forgive you.

2.Look, just because some man in a red coat hands you a sword it doesn't make you a hero!

3.There is something you should understand about the way I work. When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. It's rather sad, really, but there it is.

4.I do not attempt to deny that I think very highly of him - that I greatly esteem him... I like him. Esteem him? Like him? Use those insipid words again and I shall leave the room this instant.

5. I want you to remember you're supposed to be the chaperone on this trip.

Now let's get this straight, Gus. The chaperone's job is to see that nobody else has any fun. Nobody chaperone's the chaperone. That's why I'm so right for this job.

6.Then it must be the sugar. The sugar? Did you get the Belgian vergeoise like I told you? Are you telling me that you can taste what kind of sugar I've used? Of course not, but I can taste which kind you didn't use.

7. A fish saved my life once. How? I ate him.

8. Forth, and fear no darkness! Arise! Arise, Riders of Theoden! Spears shall be shaken, shields shall be splintered! A sword day... a red day... ere the sun rises! Ride now!... Ride now!... Ride! Ride to ruin and the world's ending!

9.. Make anyone cry today? Sadly, no. But it's only 4:30.

10.Ancestors, I ask you for your guidance. Blessed mother, come to me with the Gods' desire for my future. Blessed father, watch over my wife and son with a ready sword. Whisper to them that I live only to hold them again, for all else is dust and air. Ancestors, I honor you and will try to live with the dignity that you have taught me.

11. If I make a mistake, it hurts me. Do you understand that? I mean, actual physical pain. That's very 'Gordon Ramsay'. [stunned silence] We don't use that name in this kitchen. Didn't your father tell you? It's bad luck to say it out loud. Just call him 'The Scottish Chef'.

12.Why? Do you even know why they sent you? It's not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin. So me and mine gotta lay down and die... so you can live in your better world? I'm not going to live there. There's no place for me there... any more than there is for you. Malcolm... I'm a monster.What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.

13.And how would you beat him? With a stick. While he slept. But on a horse, with a lance? That man is unbeatable.

14. Why?... Why do you love me? Because I came alive when I met you.

15. I don't care whose fault this was, just get it sorted! And could someone please bring me something deep fat fried and smothered in chocolate...

16. I set dinner on the dining room sideboard at six. Breakfast is ready at nine. I don't stay after dinner. Not after it begins to get dark. We live in town, nine miles, so there won't be anyone around if you need help... We couldn't even hear you. No one could. No one lives any nearer than town... No one will come any nearer than that. In the night... In the dark.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Salt, Soda & Sandalwood

Baths are not about getting clean.
Baths are about rejuvenation.
Baths are a production involving all the senses.
Hot steaming water, sea salt, baking soda, sandalwood oil.
Candlelight, insense, music.
Music like Baroque for Bathtime, which starts with Vivaldi's Concerto in D for Guitar, and ends with Pachobel's Canon, also in D. A cd which lasts about as long as the water stays comfortable.
A glass of wine, a cup of tea, or even just a glass of water.

Head in the water
hair floating like a mermaid's
lost in the touch of water
the scent of sandalwood
the sound of violins, flutes and guitar
the world falls away
and there is nothing but the moment.
I should do this more often.
and no, that is not my bathtub.....sigh.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What sad times are these

when even little 8 pound Baby Jesus isn't safe in his manger. Gosh!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Today's Self-Portrait

I function well enough at work. Then I come home, and the evening slips away leaving nothing to show for it. It's dark at 4, I feel as though the day should be done, and respond accordingly. I'm tired, but don't sleep well. I'm empty, lethargic, and hating myself for it. Projects have fallen by the wayside. Ruts are getting deeper. I don't remember winter affecting me this much.

Indecision, vacillation in an important matter, failure, disappointment, mental anguish, disturbing dreams, loneliness, depression, desolation.

I'm not sure what to do, except keep going. Push myself a bit harder, get myself off my behind a bit more, make a list....

Or just go with it for now, waiting for the Solstice, when the light will begin to increase, however slightly. The sun will come back, the depression will fade, my energy will renew. Eventually.

Four of Swords - Solitude, repose. Temporary retreat to gather inner strength, seek spiritual guidance and reorganize thoughts and plans.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Overexposed, no makeup, but you get the idea....

Chef: What are you doing tonight?
Kate: I'm getting my hair cut.
Chef: Just a cut? Don't let them touch the color. It's great. Keep this one for a while.
Rachelle: Ohmygod- it's great! What happened to growing out the gray?
Kate: I'm over it. I did a temporary red for Halloween and liked it so much I kept it.
Stylist next to Rachelle's station: That color's fantastic - is it your real color?
Kate: No, it's the color I was supposed to be.
Rachelle: Kate's finding herself through haircolor :)
Stylist: Me too! I'm still looking....
Stylist at the front desk: That color rocks! Haircut's great too!
It occured to me while I was playing with my hair in the rearview mirror (at a stoplight) that my hair has a bit of an anime character quality to it. It's sassy, it's swingy, and it's blatantly red.
It makes me feel more like the me I want to be.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dancing the Night Away

Najah: Kate! Come with me to Lunar Fire! It's a masquerade party - you know you like playing dress-up!
Kate: What's lunar fire ?
Najah: They're great! You'll love it!
Kate: Okay.

Kate: So, I'm redoing my fairy wings for winter, for this masquerade concert/party thing..
Chef: I'm doing your wings! And a mask!
Kate: Okay.
(I'm not usually this docile. I'm working saying 'yes' to opportunities.)

On the way, we stopped at Shanti's to drop something off. She lives near the club that was hosting the masquerade. It should have been easy, but it's that part of Denver where the streets stop and start and move around apparently at will, so we ended up getting turned all around but eventually wound up where we were going. Shanti's living room is festooned with sheer fabric, softening the angles from ceiling to wall, low couches piled with cushions - a sort of gypsy, bohemian seraglio sort of thing. It's the sort of thing I'd do if I lived alone or was in charge of how things look. But I don't, and I'm not.
I looked amazing in the dark ballroom with the lights from the slowly spinning disco ball dancing over me - this photo doesn't even come close.

Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom is worth visiting just to see the ladies' room - it's muralized with scenes from the Wizard of Oz, and has sayings and poetry all over the walls and ceiling and stalls. The stalls are chalkboard, chalk is provided, and grafitti is encouraged. I didn't write anything, being somewhat preoccupied with wing management. Whoever designed the average bathroom stall did not take wingspan into consideration.
Lunar Fire started playing around 10:30, and played straight through until about 2am, with one ten minute break around 1am. I was dancing the whole time - so not like me. I usually hide in a corner, if I go out at all. They started with an invocation, chanted over percussion and guitars, as dancers came out one by one and created an altar at the front of the stage. Four dancers, three women, one man, who came and went and changed costumes throughout the night. I alternated between being lost in the beat and being entranced by the dancers - veils, wings, fire, swords, lights on cords that surrounded the dancer like tiny faeries, fans streaming veils that rippled like water, balls that seemed to float in the air......it was amazing, made me want to paint, to make costumes, to transform myself, to create......
I danced so hard my pointed ears popped off, my wings bent and the feathers in my mask curled over. By the end, my feet hurt, my calves were screaming, and I kept going until the music stopped.
Today I put my wings and mask on the wall, hovering up in the corner of my room. A fey touch of wildness in a serene sea of blue.
It's a start.