Thursday, July 30, 2009

Broken Thoughts & Pie

I'm feeling very overscheduled for the next few weeks. Most of it's good stuff, aside from the work stuff it's all self-inflicted, but I'm not used to having so much planned in advance.

Here's some of what's been going on at work:

The nine wedding cakes for a client who had no requirements other than that the cakes "taste amazing". No requests other than "that lustre dust would be nice" . No wedding colors, no theme, no bridezilla nonsense.

3 chocolate cakes filled with pain d'epices (gingerbread spice) ganache, decorated with leaves.
3 white cakes filled with the Violette ganache, decorated with dragonflies.
3 red velvet cakes filled with Vrtnica Malina ganache (cranberry, raspberry & rose), decorated with sea shells & pearls. It's my subtle invocation to Aphrodite, the shells, the roses, the pearls.

Tarts of the week, clockwise from top: chocolate chess, mixed berry, cherry with kirsch & pandora spices in chocolate sucree, pear frangipane in chocolate sucree.

I have the pie song from Waitress stuck in my head. I want to make pie. Lots of pie. There is no recipe for Chocolate Strawberry Oasis, but it seems to be nothing more than a bittersweet chocolate pudding with a hint of spice poured over sliced fresh strawberries. It sounds really good right now, in spite of the cool, rainy weather.
Carmelized Onion pie. Tomato & Spinach pie. Tart Apple with Drunken Currants pie. mmmmmmmm, pie.

I'm housesitting for Najah this weekend, and what is usually 48 hours of uninterrupted solitude is being disrupted by family obligations. Both of the two nights away have been claimed. I rather resent this, but there is no graceful way to avoid it. Last night Najah showed me how to work her dvr & the multitude of remotes. We watched a couple episodes of True Blood. It has a dreadful effect on my accent, an effect that lasts for hours afterward unless I pay attention when I speak. (True Blood is set in Louisiana, in case you don't know).

The adjuster from Allstate took nearly 3 hours to complete what he said would be an hour-and-a-half appointment. We're getting a new roof out of it, so that's something positive. Everytime it's rained since the big storm (about every day or so), I keep looking up at the ceiling expecting a flood. So far, so good. I have a recurring waking nightmare that the roofers show up and rip the roof off while Mollie & her family are here for dinner. The adjuster, Mr. Carter, has a strong Southern accent and likes to over-explain. Read this with a drawl. "This is a five step process? Step one was when you called your agent to file a claim? Step two, that was when I called you to set up this appointment? Step three...that's this appointment?" And so on. I may have mentioned this last week. It's hard to remember that far back.

Another wedding &the book signing next weekend. Another wedding and a bellydance class field trip the weekend after that. Somehow, I am taking classes Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays starting next week. Two more weeks with Sammi, the Wonder Intern. Then an as-yet-to-be-determined new intern, who has already been named Not-Sammi.

Trying to come up with a menu for next week's dinner with Mollie & company that is easy, tasty and allows time for maximum visitation over a leisurely meal. Any ideas?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Better late than never...

Thanks to advice from tech-savvy friends, the computer & camera are back on speaking terms. So, here are photos that go with Insert Photo Here. Read that first. Or not.

The daredevil ducks and the curious squirrel.

The devastation of Prospect Park.

Box of therapy.

The overseer: "Get back to work! Don't make me come over there! Oh, you made me get you're in for it!"

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Insert Photos Here

There are photos to go with this entry, but my computer is refusing to recognize my camera. I reinstalled the software, but to no avail. It has similar issues with the iPod - I am beginning to wonder if something is wrong with the usb port.

So, anyway. Cleanup from the storm is proceeding throughout the neighborhood. At the Jefferson Methodist church the sermon board now reads "Free Holy Firewood".
At Prospect Park,.....well, it's bad. Trees were uprooted, pulling soil, rocks and sometimes the bike path up with them. Big trees. Old trees. They block the paths, cross the creek, changing the familiar and beloved landscape. Insert desolate photo, with the following caption "Many of these trees were my friends...trees I have known from seed and acorn......".Treebeard Although I haven't known the trees quite as long as that, I did know where they were, enjoyed the shade of their leaves in summer and the patterns of their branches against the sky in winter. Now they're gone.

Puppy seemed oblivious to the damage, happily trotting along, nose to the ground , tail curled up in the question mark of contentment. Birds were singing, butterflies flitted about, and a very fat squirrel sat up and watched us go by. Insert photo of fat, curious squirrel here. The ducks are still shooting the rapids of Clear Creek. These are the daredevils of the duck world. Instead of floating on a quiet lake, these ducks like the fast moving water of the creek. I've seen them ride the current, get out, walk back up the bank, and do it again. Insert photo of mallards shooting the rapids.

We finished bagging up the backyard. Kitty made a nest in one of the piles of leaves. Insert photo of handsome grey cat basking in the sun. I consoled myself by replanting my container garden with new flowers in shades of purple, pink and white. I added fresh compost to my few survivors. I marvelled at the little rhubarb that could - so tiny, but still there, with fresh new leaves on delicate ruby stalks. Insert photo of restored container garden here.

The city picked up branches and debris on the roads, but the wreckage in our yards is our problem. But..the city made arrangements with the good people at Rooney Road Recycling
to take Lakewood residents' yard waste for free through the 27th. They were really nice, all 6 times we went today. Yep, 6 trips to haul the 60-some bags of leaves and branches to the recycling center. (I love my station wagon). At the time we finished, the pile was about a block long , about 20 feet tall, I'm not sure how wide. But it was huge. It will all be chopped into mulch, as will all the branches the city and county pick up from the roads and the parks. Mulch that's free for the taking. So, you get your trees back, just in a different form.

It feels good to have most of the wreckage gone. It feels good to have replanted the containers I see from the kitchen window. It will be good to meet with the insurance adjuster on Tuesday (read this with a strong Southern accent, end each sentence with an upwards inflection - This is a five step process? Step one is when you called your agent? Step two - is now, when we're setting the appointment? Step three is the appointment? ". Every step toward back-to-normal feels good.
We lost one window in the garage. Our roof is damaged, but so far, not leaking. We lost branches, but not trees. Our garden is flattened, but much of it will come back. Eventually.
We didn't lose our roof, our windows, or part or all of the house. Some people did. So I feel blessed. Tired, sore, grungy - but blessed.

On my last trip, the guy at the recycling center smiled and said "6 trips....God's mercy on you, dear". I smiled back and said "thanks, and on you too". "Yep," he said. "We all need it right now". He waved me on, and I unloaded and emptied the last few bags. I looked at the massive pile, at the other people unloading cars, trucks, u-hauls..... So many people, putting their individual worlds back together.

In my militant pagan phase, I would have rejected that nice man's blessing. Fortunately, I've grown a lot since then. Kindness is kindness. No sense in getting offended by terminology. God, Goddess, Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad,Jehovah, Great Spirit, The Powers That Be, the Force......the Infinite Source Behind All The Names loves us. Bring on your blessings. Accept mine. May Mercy be on all of us, everyone.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Broken Thought Process Actually Thursday

Still mountains of cleanup to do after the storm. Some neighbors orderly & methodical, some puttering around their yards while their broken windows go uncovered. Old Bob across the street is especially disorganized, but rejects all offers of help. He has several rental houses in the neighborhood, and seems to be putting most of his energy there. He does a bit of work at home, then crosses the street to show us the alumni yearbook from the private high school he attended on Oahu. He shows us Barack Obama went to the same school, although much later. We all agree that Obama has probably the worst job in the world, that none of us would want it.

Expecting a call from Allstate adjuster. Got a call from Allstate this afternoon, was very pleased until it turned out to be a sales call for the roadside assistance program. That isn't going to get the roof fixed.
Cleanup made more unpleasant by the heat - it's in the nineties again. Took a break from the yard and cleaned the house. Much more manageable task.
The vultures and looky-loos seemed to have moved on - within hours of the storm roofers, door & window and yard cleanup crews were cruising the neighborhood. Strangers drove slowly through the neighborhood gawking.
My nextdoor neighbor loaned me her leaf blower. I've always hated the noise, but the speed with which leaves & twigs were removed from gravel driveways, paths, and from the flower beds was impressive. That probably saved a few hours.
I found three dead birds in the yard, buried until leaves & hail. A sparrow, a red-headed finch, and a mourning dove. So small, so broken. I buried them next to my fish.
One rose bush is still in decent shape, leaves & buds about to bloom. 2 of the 1o or so lavender plants still have some blossoms.
Exhausted and sore, but when I feel like whining, I think of all my neighbors with their downed trees, smashed fences and boarded up windows. I think of the farmer whose crop was wiped out. I think of the little Italian bakery/cafe near work that lost power for almost 24 hours and lost all their refrigerated inventory. Roughly a $10,000 loss, they said.

Not sleeping well at night, which is normal for summer. Naps are good, but they interfere with sleeping at night. But I don't sleep much at night, so I nap. So I don't sleep well at night....

wondering if I should purge my cookbook collection - I probably have about 4 shelves worth. Plus a bunch of 3-ring binders full of recipes.... I have a hard time applying the 6 months rule to books. The 'if you haven't used it in 6 months, sell or donate it" rule.

I need to get on with something productive. But I just don't feel like it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Shadow Shot Sunday

Mr. Frog/Toad, wearing the shadows from the cattails in the pond.

Update: froggy was named over the weekend. It's now Mathilde, which I guess makes it Mlle. Frog/Toad.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Broken & Melted Thought Process Day

It's so hot....Puppy jumped over the bank to get into the creek this afternoon. She's usually better behaved than that.

I broke down and put the little window air conditioner in tonight. I smashed my pinky finger in the process. It's not severely damaged, just throbbing.

I feel like I am going nowhere. It's too hot to figure out where to go.

I'm kicking myself for not acting young when I was young. Now I'm middle-aged. Yes, I said it. Middle-aged. How the fuck did this happen? Obviously, it happened because time passes, unless you die, which really isn't in my 5 or 10 year plan.

That's about the only thing in my 5 or 10 year plan. I'm not much for life planning. I tend to drift along, moving from one thing to another without really plotting a course. Maybe I should try that. Having a direction. What a concept.

We have a client who wants 9 cakes for her wedding. Which is now 2 weeks away. Weddings are usually planned way ahead. We gave her a bid, 3 flavors, 3 of each - 9 cakes at the regular price of $18. She got back to us a week past the deadline, and she wants something much more complicated. For the same price. This demand was sandwiched in between over the top compliments. Compliments so excessive it was clearly an attempt at manipulation. I don't appreciate that.
The kitchen is so damn hot. It's almost impossible to work after 11 or so. Chocolate won't go into temper, buttercream's vexing.

SPOILER ALERT: For anyone who didn't read Harry Potter & the Half Blood Prince, or hear about the plot when the book came out, skip this paragraph.

Going to see the new Harry Potter movie tomorrow. I don't remember much about the Half-Blood Prince. Except that it was dark, a bit tedious in places, and Dumbledore dies. I don't think there was anything as scary as Delores Umbridge, her pink tweed suits, and her office full of kitten plates.

Puppy has decided that 4:30 is a great time to get up in the morning. She has no concept of weekends. So we'll be up with the sun. And probably at the park shortly after. The air will be fresh and cool, the wooded trails by the creek will be inviting, and stillness will be giving way to birdsong and the whirring of the early morning cyclists. And after about 20 minutes or so, my brain will stop spinning, and there will be nothing but the rhythm of my steps, the sound of the water, the touch of the breeze. This is the real reason why I walk in the park. Not for fitness, not because I should, but for those moments when movement and stillness become one and the same.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Photos from Wen Pond

Chef & Loren built a new koi pond this spring. It's about 4 times the size of the old one. So, the big koi, seen in their aquatic jungle, took advantage of the space and spawned. Pretty much the same day they went into their new home.
See the tiny little koi - they are newly hatched and about a 1/4 to a 1/2 inch long at this point. Hopefully at least some of them will live - some will be eaten by the other koi, and some will probably be eaten by the pond's newest resident.

I'm not sure if this is Mr. Frog or Mr. Toad - he's very aquatic, which would indicate frog, but has what seem to be large paratid glands, which indicates toad. According to some sources however, there's no real difference between the two, except for one small subgroup, which are considered true toads.
Remember that animated version of the Hobbit? Here's Mr. Frog/Toad doing his impression of Gollum:

Here is my favorite flying insect, the dragonfly. See the stripes - I've only noticed this wing design in the last year or so. This one spends a lot of time flying around the pond, perching on the cattails and rushes.I did actually do some work while I was house/kitchen-sitting. Here are tarts of the week - cherry almond with a hint of lemongrass, pink peppercorn and star anise, and not-your-grandma's rhubarb, with cinnamon, brown sugar, and a balsamic reduction.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Broken Thought Saturday?

I love riding with the top down, but I need to remember to bring a hat. And wear something less revealing than an off-the-shoulder wench top.

Despite repeated applications of SPF 50 and a parasol, my pale Irish skin burned at the Renaissance Faire. Until the sky opened up, the rain and hail poured down, and my off-the-shoulder wench top became positively indecent. Or a top contender in a wet-wench-top contest. It's all a matter of perspective.

There are lots of marvelously dressed people at a RenFaire. But even more enjoyable, from a people watching point of view, are the folks who come in street clothes, and decide they need to embellish things a bit once they get there. Fairy wings with shorts, flip flops and face paint. A wooden sword and an "I'm with stupid" tee shirt. A tiny Jedi knight with a floppy sunhat. Yes, a Jedi at the RenFaire.

I've been told that the Colorado Renfaire is a bit, ok, more than a bit, lax in terms of period correctness. That it would more properly be called the Colorado Costume Party in a Vaguely Renaissance Setting, but with a Heavy LOTR, Celtic, Xena, Barbarian, and Pirate Influence Faire. So what. It's fun.

I did not take my camera this time. Mostly because I'm not quite sure where it is. My things are on a disappearing rampage. My red gym bag, the lock, the anti-chlorine shampoo & conditioner, and now the camera. It's very irritating. Especially since the last time I saw them was in the house. I don't like not knowing where my stuff is.

My printer is almost out of ink. I'm stalling until the last possible moment.

Is my camera under the car seat? I don't think so, but it's possible.

Is it early enough to go to bed?

People are getting really hyped about Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince. I don't remember much about the book, except that it's dark, and there's a death among the major characters. Which I like. An epic battle between good and evil has casualties, and since it's the heroes who stick their necks out, sometimes they will lose their heads. It's just a reasonable outcome. The series finale of Buffy should have had a much higher body count. Dawn should have been the first to die.

This camera thing is vexing me.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Broken Thought Process Day, Days, ok, a week or so....

Or maybe it's shattered thought process. Or melted though process. Anything but coherent, lucid thought process.
Yesterday was one of those cursed days in the kitchen, the kind of day that makes me want to fall upon my whisk. (It's like falling on one's sword, without the messy consequences). The kind of day where I think perhaps I went down the wrong path. Today went much better, and ended around 11:30 or so.
We've been starting at 6am, and leaving around 1-2pm, because of the heat. I put foil on all the windows to deflect some of the sun, so now it looks like a white trash meth lab. But clean.

I haven't been to Facebook or Twitter in over a week. Nothing to say worth reporting on a daily basis.

Went to see Celtic Woman at Red Rocks Wednesday night - first time I have been to a concert there. OMG - the climb! Next time will wear walking shoes. Wondering why no outside beverages are allowed in, even more wondering why the concession stand takes the caps off the bottled water & wine, and why the soft drink cups don't have lids, or straws. Do they think they are being invaded by deadly ninjas who can hijack the amphitheatre with a small platic cap and a straw?
The drummers and the fiddler were fantastic. The fiddler actually danced while playing, in her long, floaty white dress and high heels.
The acoustics ARE really great - I can see what the fuss is about. It started raining during the last ten minutes or so, complete with thunder and lightning. People started leaving, which seemed rather pointless, as it was a good quartermile or so to the parking lots. Stay or leave, you'll get just as wet.
Discovered that Najah and I have rather disparate tastes in music - she really likes falsetto, like Don Henley and (shudder, ick) Michael McDonald. I, on the other hand, think that Michael McDonald's voice is as close as I ever want to get to having redhot needles shoved into my ears.

I'm having a lot of encounters with snakes this week, mostly live snakes, but one perfectly shed skin. Which is out in the garage curing in borax. I really like snakes, although they startle me a bit when we meet each other in the park. I'm sure it's mutual. They are not suited for pets, though. Some creatures should just be left wild.

My current passion is belly dance, aka oriental danse, aka raks sharki, aka beledi. Next session I am adding the intermediate class , so Monday evenings will be 2 back-to-back hours of dance. Someone else(s) is also in the grip of passion, as every one of some 20 or so belly dance music cd's are checked out of the library. I have holds on a few of them. In the meantime, there's always Pandora.