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Friday, June 29, 2007

Food Stuffs

Thanks to Silvio, I knew exactly how to handle a request at work this week. I needed to provide shortbread for someones strawberries and whipped cream. (That isn't a euphemism... I mean it literally.) JFS was sending off 8-year veteran Jen Mohr-Morse and hosting a Strawberry Shortcake party in her honor. Eric and Silvio had served us the best version of this dessert I've ever had last weekend, so I was inspired to follow their lead by using buttermilk biscuits instead of shortcake.

So I had to whip up some fluffy buttermilk biscuits Tuesday night. Naturally I procrastinated... first playing softball until 9pm, and then I drank 3 or 4 beers before heading to the kitchen. I've decided that the best way to prepare for any daunting task is to engage in moderate to heavy drinking before hand. That's how I got my first girlfriend, and how I passed my driving test, so I'm sticking with it.

The biscuits (although I forgot to purchase basic supplies and had to use milk+vinegar instead of buttermilk) turned out great... or so I'm told. I wound up just dropping off my contribution and leaving. I had to skip the party and the dessert-gobbling on account of a dentist appointment.

I sat in the chair contemplating the enormity of the difference between sitting in a room filled with various versions of strawberry shortcake and absolutely no compunction about trying them all... and sitting with my mouth stretched open while someone rammed metal spikes into my gums for about an hour. It was like heaven and hell were both there in front of me, and inexplicably, I chose hell.

But that isn't what I wanted to write about. All I really wanted to say is that on the walk back up the hill from the medical/dental building I saw an odd poster. It featured a graphic of anthropomorphized food: a masculine, hungry-looking hamburger chasing a feminine, scared-looking hotdog. My first thought was, "Why do we always have to reinforce this stereotype of males being scary predators and females are our victims?" But then I looked at it a bit more and realized: Who the hell makes a hotdog into a woman? That's got to be the weirdest thing I've ever seen. Is there any food more likely to be masculine than a hotdog? Nothing that I can think of. He could have just as easily used a taco or a slice of pizza.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Makin' Music

I haven't been playing my guitars or doing anything musical in a long time, so last night I wiped the dust off my 3-string bass and the wooden hollowbody and recorded this. It's just a simple little groove, but it makes me happy. It was hard to remember just how to use my recording software after all this time.

(Update:) Ugh. I forgot about the difference between how things sound in headphones and how they sound through speakers. Listening to this from my work computer, the bass disappeared and guitar turned to mud. That could say more about my computer speakers than the recording... but I doubt it since most music sounds just fine on my work PC. Sound balancing is tougher than it looks. Almost as tough as playing your guitar in sync with previous tracks!


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Late Nights

I saw my grandmother infrequently as a child. Our family, all five of us, would pile into whatever jalopy we were driving that year and make the long trek to San Diego once a year... usually in the Summer or at Christmas. We'd spend a week reconnecting and that was it.

When I was small, she was the spoiling grandmother... the one who had toys and candy and pop in her house. Her five grandchildren all loved her very much. But then I grew up and couldn't be bribed so easily. It wasn't until I was 18 or so that I discovered a new way to love my grandmother.

Our relationship became about having wonderful conversations that simmered and cracked and broke open and melted together again. When we would roll into town, my mother, my grandmother and I would stay up drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes... laughing and talking until sunrise. I recall the glass dining room table covered with coffee rings and overflowing ashtrays and the gold-green shag carpet beneath us. The coffee maker churned out pot after pot of watery brew as we talked about everything under the sun. They taught me about art and world travel, and how women saw the world, and we argued about race and politics and I had the greatest feelings of family connection that I ever experienced.

This is something I've been missing for years. Since my grandmother died of emphysema... since I quit smoking... since my mother moved to Mexico... since I haven't had a big enough apartment to entertain people comfortably. But last night, Olaiya and I had a wonderful time entertaining two guests. Dan and Courtney came over to try out some delicious recipe trials (asparagus and morels sauteed in a savory shallot sauce and served over toasted baguette layered with creamy ricotta.) We finished a bottle of wine, then two. We cut more slices of bread and ate almonds and kept talking and laughing and figuring out answers to all the deep questions about how men and women get along. We drank Scotch whiskey and trusted one another enough to put our pasts out on the table and dissect them collectively.

Maybe we didn't stay up 'til 5 in the morning, but I remember checking the time and realizing it was well past midnight. And for the first time, a gathering of friends around our table transformed into something more. We didn't all get up at 9pm and sensibly head home. We allowed ourselves to slip into that dear and intimate place that I had forgotten about. And sitting here thinking about it today, I miss my grandmother so much that it makes me cry, but I'm grateful to have the kind of friends that help me finally remember what I've been missing.

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Dream Journal

Two nights ago, a man explained to me the perfect logic of the igloo. First he demonstrated the beauty of the simple arch... showing me how icy bricks fell inward until they bumped their heads together and stayed firmly in place. Then he showed me how, expanding on the simple two dimensional Roman arch, a 360-degree arch created a perfect dome.

We walked inside the igloo, looked up at the blue veins of light piercing through from above, and he explained the reflective nature of the snow and ice. A simple candle (and the radiant body heat of two inhabitants) would heat the inside of the igloo well above freezing. So far, I believe this man; everything he says sounds familiar.

Then he smiled and pulled up some furs lining the floor to reveal a series of crevices in the ice below. He explained that these cracks formed naturally due to the pressure of the inhabitants walking and sleeping on the floor. They served a great purpose. The heat inside the igloo slowly melts away the ice walls, and the water drips down the slopes of those walls to the edges of the floor. When it reaches the floor, gravity pulls it down into the crevices where it flows away from the igloo's heat until it refreezes. These channels keep the igloo relatively dry inside. The man also showed me how loose snow can easily be used to absorb extra moisture, like nature's paper towel, and then be swept out the door.

I asked him about replenishing the walls... how did they stay strong if they were melting from the inside? He looked up and told me that nature also provides for this. As snow falls from the sky, it collects on the outside of the igloo and keeps the walls as thick as they need to be. If they get too thick due to a heavy snow, the walls become better at reflecting and more heat stays inside the igloo and melts the walls more rapidly, thus keeping a relatively uniform thickness. If they are thin, then they trap heat less effectively and the melting process slows down.

I pointed out that this constant melting away of the inside, and rebuilding from the outside, must result in an ever-growing igloo... the diameter must increase accordingly. Once again he smiled and said that the size of their homes increases at just the right pace to make room for a young couple's child, and then more children, and eventually grandchildren. Everything worked in perfect harmony.


Monday, June 04, 2007

Another Belgian Photo Blitz

One more balcony... can't resist shooting these in Europe!

One of a million identical photos of an impressive Euro cathedral.

I think that guy on the horse is flipping me off!

Homemade public art

Gorgeous tile mural inside a trendy vintage shop

Tintin public mural for Molly

More Herge for Walaka