Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Baking. I mean come on, ladies! Amirite? Amirite?

So, it's like... 11:28p as I'm starting to write this. I've just put a bunch of thumbprint cookies in the oven. Let me make a confession: as much as I love cooking, I am pretty balls at baking. I'm being modest, you say? Ok. I am only passable at baking. Really, I'm nothing short of terrified of it. I mean, think about it. You can waste entire cups of staple goods: butter, sugar, flour, etc. if something goes wrong. And sometimes, you don't know if it's gone wrong until it comes out of the oven and you've cut or bitten into it.

How many times have I bitten into an underdone muffin, a burnt cake? How many times have I pulled something out of the oven, eying it suspiciously, then turning it over to cool on a rack only to find that the cake has split in half and the other half is still stuck in the pan? I know what to do when stuff goes wrong in a saute pan, but if this cookie dough is crumbly and sticking to my fingers, I have no idea what to do. I mean, how is that even possible?! There are crumbly things and there are sticky things. How can this be both at the same time?

I can just buy pre-made cookie dough. I can purchase baked goods at a bakery. I can hold my friends at gunpoint and make them bake for me. Then why, oh why, do I feel the urge to bake when the weather turns cool? Admittedly, I have a rather poorly-insulated house; it holds heat about as well as a person holds an angry badger with diarrhea. But an alternative form of heat is not a good enough reason to get your hands all goopy, go out of your mind washing measuring spoons and cups, and have giant bowls crusted with flour to be scrubbed angrily later.

I think it might be the wonder of taking these raw ingredients and turning them into something pretty and edible. Flour, water, egg, sugar, butter in a lump in a bowl isn't very appetizing (though the smell is, kinda), but putting it into dry heat firms it, makes it toothsome and golden. My whole house is now filled with sweet smells. When I pull out the cookies, each of them will have a little distilled gem of summertime embedded inside.

I think also two sticks of butter might have something to do with my desire to bake.

Rule: Somebody teach me how to bake. Also, never use "amirite" un-ironically. Also, the jam inside the thumbprint will always be way too hot to eat right out of the oven. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Short and sweet

rule: your automated phone system should never just hang up on a customer. they should always have the option to go back to the main menu, talk to a real person, or hang up themselves.

Countless times, ineffectual automated phone systems have tried to tell me information that I didn't need, then hang up on me. I have always called them back and pressed lots of buttons until I talked to a real person. I do not need to know all your hours and return policy and what your cat ate for lunch for the past five days BEFORE I press any buttons.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I grew up in Minnesota

photo not mine.

I grew up in Minnesota. I am an only child. Winter was about 5 months long. Life was often very quiet during the long, dark, cold. There was a lot of snow.

Snow on the ground, snow on the trees, snow on the houses, snow on the streetlights, snow on the cars, snow on the school, snow on your face, and snow floating in the air. Sound gets very muffled.

In the navy darkness, lights are always on. Botanical shapes start to become outlined with gleaming pinpricks. Bright storefronts seem more inviting. People turn into moths, drawn to any flame. Everything is a star, and there are galaxies in galaxies.

Glasses clink everywhere and silverware makes sharp music on plates. Ornaments - religious or otherwise - make rustling and tinkling noises. Everything is delicate: the cookies, the sounds, the glances. People speak in low, soothing tones, and laughter glitters in conversation. Soft, fuzzy things abound in sweaters, stuffed animals, and blankets. Drinks are hot and radiating. Food is most often roasted: a crisp bite, then a tender flood in the mouth.

There is lots of time to stare out the darkened window into the night, and let the snowfall blur everything in front of your eyes. Small fingers caress frost patterns lightly, feeling the fern-like ridges on chilled car windows on the way to a glowing party.

Some of the best moments were spent lying in bed, feeling the warmth finally spread under the comforter, but knowing the chill was just inches beyond it. I could stick my fingers out and touch the dark, which was now familiar, smooth, rich, and cold. Bringing my fingers back in, I could feel them warm back up. With all sounds dampened by snow, I could almost hear my own pulse.

I felt like an entire heart, beating in the chest of some mute, primordial being made of darkness, temporary death, gray clouds, and crushed ice. In my cocoon, listening to the soft sound of nothing, I felt like I alone was the heart of winter.

Rule: Think about the quieter moments in your life. Also, there is nothing wrong with snow.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Brains spill out

Rule: Make time for yourself and the things you value.

Remember that long list of stuff to do?

So far I have only done:
- buy an effing comforter and duvet cover (just bought a comforter that was attractive)
- find hippie deodorant that works well (actually just decided I'm not hippie enough for hippie deodorant and instead bought some awesome Nivea deodorant on the internet)
- save more money (just a little, but hooray!)
- read more

Which, I mean, crossing stuff off the list is cool, but this is not a lot compared to the original list. My comforter effing rocks though, especially in the chilly weather we're having. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that I really don't have a post for you guys, so I'm going to dig up some old poetry and post it here as a placeholder. It's NaNoWriMo and Movember, y'all, and while I hate one and love the other, I don't have the temerity or hormones to do either (I'll let you guess which is a requirement of which). But maybe you'll see some better attempts at writing.

So I guess my rule really is:

Rule: Gee, Sandy should've planned ahead for this week, huh? Instead of pigging out on Kouign Amann and having crazy butter-induced dreams.

Anyway, at least this poem is fall-themed.

How I wanted to lecture my daughter

Don’t you feel kind of bad for them?
The saplings, so smooth and round and skinny
twigtips – outstretched - to feel - the sun?
Any old breeze can brush by
and bruise their ego, their limbs
trembling with rage and passion to grow upward
like they’re ready to get
outta this town.
Older trees creak – whisper – hushhh
in the night while the
saplings twist – breathe – ahhhh
so pliable. And then

The fall comes.

The chlorophyll withdraws.
Stately maples blush while the juveniles
burn so hot in the autumn light they
are on fire – they are on fire – they
are on fire – they
have so few of those leaves to drop,
you can see between each one
but they toss them on the ground until


A melancholy pool of red at their feet. And
later, when the ice comes,
I wonder:
Do they regret?