Thursday, May 31, 2007

Revenge of the Montreal Hungarian Blacksmith Metrognome Gimp Drum Circle Gang

So, as my punishment for talking smack the Montreal Hungarian Blacksmith Metrognome Gimp Drum Circle Gang, as I have just now taken to calling them, have left town but not without leaving me a present. I came home last night to discover their treachery. I mentioned in my previous post that I could only hear them in the bathroom. Upon entering my porcelain chamber yester-evening everything appeared normal as I tread the tiled path. Right up until the stepped on the bathmat. I would point out again that everything else appeared totally normal, e.g. DRY. This is not the condition in which I found my bathmat. It was, in fact, utterly sodden. There was no evidence of any malfunction with the fixtures. Pipes are still dusty - check. Le toilet appears normal - check. All beauty-related items sitting on the sink are dry - check. Tub is as it should be - check. So apparently, the Montreal Hungarian Blacksmith Metrognome Gimp Drum Circle Gang snuck into my apartment and made water on my bathmat. And my bathmat only. Oh, but wait! There was another watery casualty - my makeup bag. Which, I didn't figure out until later had been massively moistened in the attack. I would assume this meant war if the front wasn't totally quiet. But perhaps this is their strategy?

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Clang the Dumb

I think there's a gimp living in the boiler room of my apartment building. Either that or a drum circle from Montreal has moved in. The last two mornings when I've gotten up there's been this mysterious clanging noise echoing through the building. It's fairly rhythmic, thus the drum circle suspicion. And it goes on forever. I heard it in the bathroom at 5:00am and it was still going on while I was in the shower at 7:00, and even still at 8:15 when I left the house. I usually leave through the back of the building and there's another level to the back stairs that leads to the boiler room - which is where the mysterious "clang clang" seemed to be coming from. I might suggest that it was the heating system but, as the heat isn't on anymore due to the magnificently warm spring temperatures it simply can't be that.

I will work on further theories as the day progresses.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cupcake Addenda

They're even pretty BEFORE they go in the oven! Stay tuned for more Lemon-Strawberry Delight ac-tion! *claps hands* *giggles*

And... we're back. It's evening now, post-cookout. And for the first time in the very brief history of my cupcake obsession I am cupcake-less within one day. Every last one of the little suckers got gobbled up because they are rockin' good delicioso. Seriously. Mine even had a mis-adventure in the car - wherein my friends decided that on the way to the cookout that we had to stop at the mall and I had no choice but to leave the cupcakes in the warm car which melted the buttercream frosting I made so they were decidedly unlovely but they went over like buttah at the cookout. I got soooo many compliments.

Anyhoo, here is a shot of the finished product, pre-frosting:

Aren't they pretty? They were a bit tricky to get out of the cupcake pan, and the cake part of the cupcakes split a little on one or two when I tried to lift them out but they managed to make intact. They were just itchin' to get naked and shed their papers too!

I followed Coconut & Lime's basic buttercream recipe, adding the juice of a whole lemon and some zest as recommended and it is absolutely DELISH! So very tart and tasty. And the lemon cupcake is really lemon-y and the strawberries I got were wonderfully ripe and sweet. I couldn't wait until we got to the cookout to eat one - I just had to. Here it is on it's way home to my belly:

I am so very pleased with the results. I'm going to have to make another batch because I've promised them all over town. I'll probably do that tomorrow because I'm totally exhausted now but I have PLENTY of frosting left over so that's one less thing to do.

Now, for my next trick - I go in search of the perfect vanilla cupcake. I think it will involve homemade vanilla sugar *raises eyebrows suggestively* because I am just that fou-fou.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Adventures in Cupcaking

So for the last several months I have been obsessed with cupcakes. I blame Rachel Kramer Bussel for this obsession, for it is her site Cupcakes Take the Cake that started it all. Since then I have branched out to Coconut & Lime, Chockylit, and The Cupcake Underground. All fabulous sites that you should check out when you get the chance.

These days I wait patiently for my next excuse to steal my mother's hand blender, dig out the cupcake liners, and my $30 muffin pan and make beautiful cupcake. The first chance I got was on Easter, when I attempted to adapt Cupcake Underground's Chocolate Lavender Cupcake recipe to suit me and came up with Flourless Chocolate Cupcakes (via Epicurious) and Underground's Lavender frosting recipe - which is not so much a recipe as it is some very vague instructions. Sort of like Camilla Engman's instructions on how to make her adorable critters (which I WILL attempt someday, when I learn how to knit and crochet.) The major problem with the frosting, I believe, is that I was attempting to adapt a vegan recipe to be dairy-based.

Normally I would have checked out how to do a traditional cream cheese frosting and I think I might have - I can't quite remember - but one way or another there was no butter involved when I did this. A rookie mistake. I bought cream, cream cheese, powdered sugar, hibiscus blossoms, and lavender flowers. I adore cooking with lavender so this was an exciting chance for me to integrate it into a dessert. I put the cream on the stove and the lavender and hibiscus blossoms in, and attempted to simmer the cream. Oh, what a bad idea. The first attempt was a total flop. Everything appeared to be going well until all of a sudden - the cream clotted. It looked absolutely awful. I'll spare you the detailed description because it might spoil whatever meal you happen to reading this near. The second attempt was not so bad. The cream turned a lovely pinkish-purple color and didn't clot (though, the blossoms when removed did not exactly escape unscathed by their harrowing creaming experience). Then I started blending the cream cheese and powdered sugar, which was going pretty all right until I added the cream. That was when everything went wrong. Little dots of sparkly powdered sugar started forming, giving the appearance of snow - which, while kind of pretty in its own way, was definitely not what I was going for.

The cupcakes turned out fabulously. They were very dense and tasty. Another rookie mistake I made was frosting them as soon as they'd cooled. And, being slightly nervous about the idea of leaving cream cheese frosting out of the refridgerator I immediately stuck them in a container and into the fridge they went. I didn't research enough to know that that was pretty much all right but that I needed to bring them to room temperature before I served them to anyone. Otherwise they were like tiny fudgy-brownie-like matza balls. They were very pretty and the purple was very Easter-y. I put a few little lavender blossoms on top for decoration (no pictures of the results, sorry) - unfortunately the only way you could taste any lavender at all. The frosting swallowed any hibiscus or lavender flavor the cream simmering had attempted to give it. Lessons learned. Next time, I make a simple syrup I think.

I took my lumps and the next opportunity I had to get my hands in some batter was my friend Tim's birthday. Every year I do a southern-themed cooking extravaganza and this year I chose Red Velvet Cupcakes. I chose a recipe from Coconut & Lime and used her Cream Cheese Icing recipe as well. This time, I beat the hell out of that frosting. It rocked. It was perfection. These were the results:

I was very, very proud. I shared them with anyone I could convince to take one. Last time, I ended up throwing out a number of leftover cupcakes. This time, I threw out not a one. And Tim was verrah happy -

My new adventure is about to begin today. Ages ago, I saw a picture on the interwebs of a cake with sliced strawberries inside and I thought, could I not do this with a cupcake? And could not the strawberry be whole? I thought about doing a lemon chiffon cupcake with a whole strawberry sunk inside but I could not for the life of me find a lemon chiffon cupcake recipe. I do not pretend that I am experienced enough to take a cake recipe (which is all I could find) and adapt it to anything. I am a newbie. I must accept my limitations. So I went to the expert, Rachel at Coconut & Lime and requested help in locating a recipe. I related my idea and she had some thoughts - 1) That chiffon cupcakes are tough to do all by themselves and 2) That chiffon might not be dense enough to support the strawberry. Now, I had actually wondered about the second point but I hadn't thought of how the upside-down cooling process might work with a cupcake. But Rachel volunteered to test drive the idea and the results are posted on her site.

I'll post my results after I've made them, which should be this afternoon. But three cheers for Rachel for being a great sport and for helping me out!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

I'll have a Nottie-Hottie, please waiter...

I don't know if I want to tell this story, truth be told. I feel like I told it a lot - I really haven't, just to a few close friends in the hopes of mashing it out and reconstructing it into something I can understand but at the core of the matter is the glaring fact that it's really only facts that matter. I can conjecture until I turn blue in the face but all that makes me is a girl. And a silly one at that. That it's the things that were not said as much as the things that were said. And what my experiences say about those things.

It's weeks later. After I should have stopped thinking about it at all. But, after all, I am me and this is what I do.

See, there was this boy I liked. I really liked him a lot and thought that I connected with him in a way that I hadn't connected with someone for a long while. I guess it's in those moments that expectations are born with or without one's knowledge. Even despite one's best efforts not to have them at all in the first place. But more often than not my brain has its own triumphs over me so I really shouldn't be surprised I guess.

But I digress.

I liked a boy. And it was wonderful. For about a week. And then it turned to shit. And then it turned to fertilizer for the weed-bed of my aforementioned willful brain. For about a week he sent me silly text messages and weird pictures and called me every night. I wasn't sure about the whole calling me every night thing. I hate sitting on the phone but he made me laugh so it was okay. And then it all stopped. This isn't unusual. I don't mean for me specifically, I just mean in general. I don't know why when faced with these situations I feel somehow unique. And resentful. He never promised me anything so I knew I didn't have any right to be upset. Besides, we both had a lot going on in our lives. The semester was concluding, there were projects afoot. Work was insanely busy - I put in waaaaay more hours than I am supposed to be working. But there was still a bit of contact. He hadn't disappeared totally. Yes, his communications were less frequent and more terse but I thought it situational and decided not to be offended.

Then, one night we were on the phone. Where he had been funny and interesting before, lately his conversation had been disjointed and didn't give me a lot of room to find my own thread to follow and respond. Which should have been a bad sign. It was late, I was tired, I had just gotten home from a business trip and to be honest I wasn't really giving him my full attention. But all of a sudden I found myself in the middle of a yarn. One which turned out to be a very tangled ball of incredibly stupid yarn. I don't remember the specifics but there was something about hurt feelings and possibly about different goals. It was, in fact, a break-up speech. And I had no idea if he was talking to me, not talking to me but talking to me, or really not talking to me at all. In my exhaustion, my solution was to get the hell off the phone and deal with it tomorrow. Which, I attempted to do via that lovely, crazy, undependable interweb playground we all know and love - myspace. I wrote him a message asking him what the conversation had been all about, told him my thoughts on how our "association" should go. I said that I enjoyed his company, would enjoy continuing to enjoy his company - no pressure, no expectations, talk to me when you want to talk to me, don't when you don't - and don't feel guilty when you don't. I hate that. I never want anyone to do anything for me because they feel guilty. Do only what you want to do, that's the only thing that has ever meant anything to me. Guilt-tinged gifts of time or words or whathaveyou feel dirty to me. They stink. That was the gist of it anyway. It's all I remember.

So I sent this message. And then I waited. Three days went by and I was going crazy. I couldn't look at the message I sent and analyze it's content for potential offenses or craziness. It was suspiciously absent from my sent folder. Now, historically I don't use myspace's messaging system. Most everybody I want to talk to I can just email. For some reason that's changed lately but when it didn't appear in my sent folder I thought, "maybe there's a checkbox you have to click." "save message to sent folder" is not entirely unusual. And I was unwilling to just mail someone to find out. It made me feel obsessive. Anyway, on the third day after I sent the message I couldn't stand it anymore. So I sent him a text, something to the effect of "My curiosity is getting the better of me - am I a) a whackjob or b) are you simply too busy to respond?" He sent back the message, "End of the semester crunch". Now, that wouldn't have been so bad if it hadn't been something I distinctly remember writing in the message. So it felt like my words were being thrown back in my face. I don't remember if I responded or not. I think I tried not to, but I may have. The next day I felt totally ridiculous. I thought to myself, why o why did you have to go and expose yourself as caring enough to send the message in the first place? You're a headcase. It lasted a week. LET IT THE FUCK GO, you dumbass. Jesus, how I browbeat myself. Feeling stupid I sent yet another fucking text message. Confusing him even further and further cementing my status as a headcase.

The following Monday I sent a friend a message. I checked my sent folder and there it was. Glaring evidence that he never got the message. So I sent him a message relating that. I also said that I wasn't going to text him, or myspace message him, or call. That if he wanted to contact me, he knew where to find me. There was no response to that one either.

I think I quit there. I decided I was done feeling stupid. That this was enough evidence of disinterest to sweep all this mess back under the rug and get on with my life. I had plenty of life to attend to anyway. It didn't stop me fantasizing about him a great deal and wishing things had gone differently because I had liked him so much. Silly girls dwell. I was to charge on and forget about it.

And I nearly had. And then he messaged me over myspace again. Essentially apologizing for his silence. I messaged back and said it was all right, that it was probably for the best, that it had allowed me to focus on the things that really needed focusing on and that again, if he wanted to, he was welcome to call me. He has not.

And yet, there are the fantasies. Cropping up at the oddest moments. I was walking down the hall at work the other day. One of the last times I saw him he had just shown me his new tattoo. I had this flash, this twenty-second quickie involuntary daydream. I licked his tattoo. I literally had to stop in the hall, shake my head to get it out - like there was a bug in my hair, reprimand my brain. And then I started walking again.

Now, aside from the obvious craziness over the lost message I think I maintained myself as a fairly reasonable girl. There's really nothing for me to feel all that badly about. I behaved like a grown up, I attempted to communicate like a grown up, and he decided he didn't want to communicate with me. So what, right? Big deal. It happens all the time. I am not special. Most especially I am not special to him. Also not a big deal. Who cares? Certainly not me... am I right? Brain, am I right? Can I please fucking be right for once? No? You're not willing to let this go? You're gonna subject me to all these little fantasically sexy vignettes of increasingly frustrating bodice-ripper fodder over someone I can't have? Really? Do you have to? Can we just not and you can say you did? Please? No? Well dammit. Fuck you then.

So this is where I am. Caught in a mental k-hole of imaginary two-person sexy parties to which I am not actually invited. Goddamn it.

Two Poems

These two are old poems. If you're an RPer, you saw them years ago. But I drag them out of the deep because they've both been stuck in my head recently. The why of this condition perhaps I'll explain later, but for now... simply enjoy if you choose. And if you don't, don't mention it to me.

The Sharpest Blade

The slice of a blade is definitive, one good chop and no one questions what’s happening
Metal meets… anything- skin, tomato or otherwise and red runs
It separates things from each other. It’s division, quick and easy- if the knife is sharp
The top from the strawberry, the bits of celery, the cheese from itself, bread from bread
The flesh of the fish from its skin, meat from bone
But time is the best blade. It slices beginnings from ends. And makes sections of moments live eternally within its boundaries like a good piece of crusty french.
Distance is as effective as a dull blade and overcome with determination. Also, ideas and beliefs, rage and alienation, anger and anguish, but can be foiled by hope and heartening.
Though the sweetest desires and deepest longing are nothing against time. Nothing but the flesh of some strange fruit given to the mercy of human hands, minds and designs. Tossed with greens and the bitter vinegar of geography and swallowed down with oil and wine, and merely, the first course.

J. A. Turner 2005

Touched with Flirted Finger Felt with Fondness in Flouted Heart

Little languid illusions and spritely reverie
Come knocking at my consciousness
And this is what it seems
The search for connectivity
Yields little in the hunt
But forgetfulness provides the catalyst
For heart-strung smiling shunts
I draw a line to you and you one to me
Realizing, not too late, how foolish can we be

Allusions, pathos, joie de vivre and cosmology
Symmetry and balance often stumble Irish-drunk into the mean, cold streets
Yet in our dread we go a-riding to the fray, the black and burbling fire
To view the anointed bodies of each wasted day and hour
And though the pulp and refuse find us defenseless in our sleep
We travel on the path to dawn and mark out each new peak
In our memory we leave a little pyre
For each concept and each choice, each discalced dream desire
That cannot meet the standards set by waking acumen

And so in softest reticence I surrender to the truth
That the line that's drawn to me- too long- can never reach the girl
Existing as she does in her own frith to churlish burg
A heart, a mind, a body planted firmly within its world
Travelling day and night to a city in the clouds
I give a piece to you and you a piece to me
A gift born out with no small part of soul-meat honesty
Given with the suggestion that this, my friends, is who I am
And I ask myself this question, am I melting in its heat?

J. A. Turner 2005