Monday, November 23, 2009

Getting old sucks

For 46 years my body and I have been on pretty good terms.  Alright there was the time I broke my index finger on my right had in the first inning of a softball game and played the entire game not knowing I'd broken it.  I batted the best I ever had.  Then there were the knees.  But I've learned to work with them and the two surgeries on the left and one surgery on the right have made them bareable.  I don't need to play tennis ... really.  And yes the eyesight that now requires me to wear monovision contacts and have bi-focals glasses was probably a good sign that my body was starting to start to wind down. But Friday...FRIDAY how could it.  And how could it do it so ... soo....All I did was sit down  SIT DOWN.  That's it.  I sat and I felt like 2 inches of my entire body suddenly settled with a big and painful BOOMF.  There was the pain, and the sudden realization that standing up again might not be quite the  mindless event I was planning.  Now I will say here and now I'm no stranger to back issues and I know where they all stemmed from. 

The summer of my 21st or 22nd year.  I was still following the dream of working in the theatre, not as an actor but as a techie.  I wanted to design lights or stage manage or something along those lines.  So that summer I was hired by my old high school drama teacher to be an assistant techincal director for a semi-pro repatory company.  I say semi-pro because only a handful of actually got paid, and the pay was a stipend at best.  BUT it was a job in the theatre and something I could put on my resume.  We did three shows, Godspell, Working, and Vanaties.  I don't remember much of the sets, but I don't think there was a lot to it.  The main thing was this platform or series of platforms that we could move around to create a different "stage" for each show.  It was a great idea.  Part of the platform staged was raked (theatre term for a stage that angles up or down).  The issue here, though, was in order for us to move the raked portions we needed to pick up the platforms so that the front legs didn't catch and break.  We did this by getting a slew of people under the platform and all lifting at the same time.  You needed someone tall near the center of the platform to help raise it high enough for the legs to clear.  I happen to be tall.  There was a person next to me who thought they were tall... they were not... and when we lifted the platform I got the brunt of the weight, arms stretched above my head.  The weight went down and into my lower back.  SNAP!  At that moment my back went out and my dreams of being Broadway's next great lighting designer went with it.  My back would spasam if I lifted up a six pack of cokes, how was I going to be able to pull up a 40 pound lighting instrument on a rope to a catwalk!  I wasn't.  I couldn't.  I didn't.

But, each time my back went out I could say..ok I did this...or I did that..or I KNEW I shouldn't have....but Friday.  I sat down....SAT DOWN and my body decided to play this cruel and twisted joke on me.  Cruel and twisted because the only time it's not being a pain is when I'm sitting.  Standing, walking, lying in bed... um..unless I've taken a handful of Motrin or some tylenol PM...not a fun situation.  And of course it's almost Thanksgiving!  GAH!  I've had to rethink my cooking. Ok the cranberry sauce I don't need to stand up much to cook.  Dad's doing the turkey, as usual, Mom is doing the dressing (we're from the Texas it's dressing and it's made with corn bread) but I was going to do a new riff on green beans and maybe a sweet potato casserole.  Now we'll have to see. 

Sigh...getting old SUCKS

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Of pedal powered truffles and such

Friday I won a contest.  I actually won a contest!  I tweeted to the twitter feed of wingnut truffles and I won a sample delivered to me by the very cool  pedal power people.  I was a tad bit out of their delivery area (curse my office for being downtown-ish...emphasis on the ish) but Adam was nice enough to deliver to me anyway and I got my sample of wingnut truffles.  Oh my oh my oh my oh my.  I was in chocolate foodie nirvana.  I tried the thai chili one first, don't be afraid by the sound, the dark chocolate and that kick of spice were out of this world.  All of them, everyone were out of this world great.

Ok so here I am waxing poetic about truffles, yeah ok right big deal right?  Wrong.  Ok hot shot why?  Why?  Because not only were these bite sized morsals of goodly goodness they were also vegan.  That's right, vegan.  I for one have always looked at vegan food as well....vegan food.  Sorry, I want my milk from a cow not a soy bean, cheese ...don't get me started on cheese... so yeah I'm not the type a vegan type of person.  The old cattle rancher Texan ancestry runs a tad deep.

I may have to change my tune now when it comes to truffles.  Honestly these rival and maybe even beat other truffles I've had. 

Now onto the delivery of my amazing truffles.  Portland Pedal Power - these guys are amazing.  Talk about green delivery!  They also hit the carts in Portland and will deliver to your office, or if you're in need of truffles they'll do that too.  Listen, do yourself a favor check out their website and if you're in or near their delivery area do yourself a favor and have them grab you some lunch, or breakfast or what not.  You'll be glad you did.

Here are the websites:
Wingnut Sweets
Portland Pedal Power

Try them you'll like them!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

1860 biscuits

Since Carol asked about a biscuit recipe and in honor of Melanie and her swashbuckling I found this recipe in:  MODERN COOKERY, FOR PRIVATE FAMILIES, reduced to a system of easy practice, in a series of  CAREFULLY TESTED RECEIPTS, in which the principles of BARON LIEBIG AND OTHER EMINENT WRITERS have been as much as possible applied and explained.  BY ELIZA ACTON (published in London 1860)

Good Captain's Biscuits
Make some fine white flour into a very smooth paste with new milk;
divide it into small balls;
roll them out, and afterwards pull them with the fingers as thin as possible;
prick them all over, and bake them in a somewhat brisk oven from ten to twelve minutes.
These are excellent and very wholesome biscuits.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Aunt Ruby's Peach Honey

Pam from my critique group suggested that I put recipes from my book in my blog.  I thought it was a pretty darn good idea so here's the first.  Aunt Ruby's Peach Honey (this is actualy my Great Aunt's recipe - Auntie Mae was a fantastic cook.  Meals at her place were always an event.  I don't remember her making this, but I do remember the family driving back to California after a Texas summer visit with parafin sealed jars filled with her fantastic strawberry fig preserves.)  So without further adieu here is the recipe and my notes are at the bottom.

Peach Honey
4 cups Ripe Fruit
2 Tbs. Vinegar

Put on stove, boil 2 minutes.  Add 4 cups sugar, cook 8 minutes longer.  Let set 24 hours.  Put in jars and seal with parafin.
(real good made with peaches)

My modifications
2 cups frozen peaches
1 tbs rice vinegar
3/4 cup sugar.

Put the lot in a pot on the stove and boil for 10 minutes keeping watch and stirring ocassionally so that nothing sticks.   The mixture will reduce about by half.   Let cool then spoon into a jar and seal the lid.  When the jar is cool, put in the fridge and let set for 24 hours.

Slather on toast or biscuits.

Friday, November 13, 2009

can't resist

When you have a face like that looking up at you
it's hard NOT to just pick him up and hug him.

And this one sits so patiently waiting for the treat which is usually carrots or green beans's had a few to many treats.

But now....

After grooming.....I'm doomed!  They're just too huggable!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I know it's research, and I know since I'm writing a historical novel that I need to do a lot of it, but I have to admit, I'm feeling a tad guilty.  Research shouldn't be this fun!  I'm currently reading Spies of the Confederacy by John Bakeless.  This is NOT a history book.  It's fun, it's witty, and I get caught up in the stories.  I never thought I'd say a history book is a page turner, but this one is.  At least to me. But all this research has left me little time for much else like NaNoWriMo, so..sadly.  NaNo I hardly knew ya, and I did get 1K worth of really bad prose written in your honor, but for now I shall have to bid you adieu.

Now with NaNo no longer taxing what is left of my brain I should be able to concentrate on the tasks at hand.  FINISHING Spies because I have Rebel Cornbread and Yankee Coffee to read and oh yeah...writing!  D'oh!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Good bye old friend

For 15 years we've been together.  15 years.  I was but 31 a fresh face who'd moved from New Jersey to this vast glorious green land that is the pacific Northwest.  You saw me through my first days here where I knew no one - the parents being in Malaysia.  You were always a constant no matter where I went.  You were there.  Now the time has come.  I knew it would, I knew that 15 years is a long time, but still I am saddened by the fact that come monday morning you'll be gone.  I'll think of the old times, the good times, the not so good times and I'll always ALWAYS think of you.

My Old Phone

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Wonders of Modern technology II

The other day my cookbook from 1860 arrived.  It's a little worse for wear but after all it is almost 150 years old (149 as a matter of fact).  The cloth on the spine is hanging by a few threads, but other wise the pages themselves look pretty darn spry.   I've flipped through it, and the 1943 Joy of Cooking, in small savoring bits.  The 1860 cookbook has drawings of "modern" kitchen tools.  Most of them look like some sort of torture device used by an evil baron in one too many B serials.  As I'm flipping through I notice some recipies for jellys and gels.  Nothing out of the  ordinary until I flip to the recipe on how to boil beef bones to extract what you need to make said gelatin.  Then it hit me.  1860 - no Jell-O, no Knox gelatin packages for all your nail strengthening and gel needs.  If you wanted to make a gelatine then you had to work for it.  Which is why it was very much a privilaged dessert.  I can't quite picture ol' Homer going out and boiling up a load of old Bessie's bones to get a gelatine so he and the missus could have a molded dessert. 

Now to be perfectly honest someone DID try to make a set gelatin in 1845 but it didn't um...gel. It wasn't until the late 1800's early 1900's that Jell-O became well...JELL-O

So not only are old cookbooks a glimpse into the eating attitudes of people in that time they also help us to appreciate what we got.  I can tell you I would much rather dump a box of cherry jell-o and add hot water then boil up a load of bones.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Wonders of Modern Technology

My first computer was a 386.  I bought it in the mid 80's.  In those days Windows wasn't installed you just had DOS which was fine because I was programming in C at the time for laptop computers.  Yes I said laptops.  They were heavy suckers with 4 inch high screens that would suck up a battery in 30 minutes to an hour if you switched to a back lit display.  They had no hard drive, just dual 3.5" diskette drives.  One would hold a diskette with the operating system (DOS) and the other would hold the program diskette.

I remember how cool I thought I was when I got a sound card, installed it and then went out hunting for the sound package for my favorite game Wing Commander.  For those too young to know what I'm talking about most PC games didn't have sound.  You could, however, purchase for about $10 more or so the sound package.  Many a night I sat with my joy stick listening to what constiuted music as I flew through space killing Kilrathi.  I was in awe that when my joy stick pulled to the left the hand of my pilot on the screen would pull to the left as well.  Yeah I'm a geek.

I remember getting a PS2 at the office and being bowled over by it's speed - I think it had a 486 processor and size...I would SO not need a MEG of space!  I mean come on that's a whole MEG!  And 256 memory was more then enough for any computing job.

In my 20+ years in the computer business I have seen a lot of changes in the world of computers.  We've moved from hulking mainframes to blade servers.  From clunky old 286 processor PCs to intel dual core, from Dos to windows Vista (ok maybe we shouldn't have gone there), we now have desktop computers that have can store a terrabyte of data.  Modems are replaced by DSL and cable modems and every starbucks has wifi.

Why do I talk about this, because at my side I have something that will make these high powered PC's seem like my old 386 from the 1980's.  I'm talking about my smart phone.  My iPhone has 8 gig of memory on it, can access the internet via a wireless or a 3G connection. Allows me to do everything I could do on my PC or Mac PLUS make phone calls. 

Already companies are feverishly working to get "apps" built.  Chipoltle Grill has an Ap where you can make your burrito and transmit the order to the closest location.  It's there waiting for you.  Starbucks is piloting an Ap where you can order your coffee, pay for it via your phone (and a credit card or starbucks card), and then put your phone in front of a scanner.  The scanner will read a barcode your phone is displaying and POOF you've bought your Venti Skinny Vanilla Latte with extra foam.

And best yet - I can play Rock Band on my iPhone!  Oops gotta go, my drum solo is coming up.