Monday, May 31, 2010

Do the Elephants Stink?!



Hi all,

Well, yesterday was a crazy and long day. We drove in a caravan fashion, and I'm not even going to mention how fast the lead van (driven by the other house's housedad) was going. Let's just say that at one point my entire vanload was chanting "Drive ----, Drive! The cop's going to get you!". Which, he luckily didn't. We did make good time, which was fortunate - as it took us 40 minutes of weaving between two streets waiting in lines to park. We got in before noon though and ate our picnic lunch.

We meandered through the zoo, with Maria driving me crazy by asking about when we were going to see the elephants every 3 minutes. Always moving on to the next thing. The general admission for the Bronx Zoo is 15 dollars, but anything "special" costs more. So they really milk you. And of course the only way to see the darn elephants is to pay for a monorail ride. Luckily, everyone else wanted to go on it too. As soon as Maria saw the elephants, she immediately asked "Do they stink?" and started gagging. Now, housemom (for whatever reason...grrr) always tells her to take some water...which she immediately spits up. Before I could stop her, she took a great big swig and (of course) sprayed all over me and my camera. I was obviously extremely pleased. And trapped with her in a monorail car. Happy moment there.

The zoo is a sad little thing, with all the animals trying to stay cool and ignore the people outside their tiny exhibits. So most were sleeping. Not the bats, ironically. The aquarium for the sea lion was really dingy and I couldn't bring myself to text and electronically sign a petition for more funding. Poor things need to go somewhere with proper facilities and enough money for upkeep. While zoos can be great for kids to see animals, the animals shouldn't have to suffer so much, I think.

It became a long afternoon, and we were more than ready to go by 4. It was great to get home and have a nice hot meal waiting for us. Housemom had a chaotic day with feisty children, but she said she appreciated my "monumental strength" in taking out the rest of the house. It didn't feel like a huge deal, although the driving was pretty stressful.

No one died though.

Hope all is well,
Steph

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Misplaced in Albany

Hi all,

Well, it was certainly an adventurous day. After a lovely evening with making pizza with Flo, the morning came a bit too early. I finished up my photo project and we left by about 11:20 for Albany. We arrived around 12:30 and ended up at Lark street, the "Greenwich Village" of Albany, according to Flo. We wandered up and down the street and then into the park behind it. Highlights include the "Mr. Ding-a-Ling" ice cream truck and a really cool tree. Reminded me of the one in Salzburg, I'll have a picture or two eventually.

Afterward we went to the Cultural Education Center and it was great. It's a free museum with a carousel (functioning, and amazing!), a 9/11 remembrance exhibit, and lots of regional displays. We got a call from the co-worker we were supposed to pick up at 4 (the real reason why Flo was going before I decided to tag along), saying that her plane was delayed until 9. So we went and sniffed out a good Indian restaurant (after some good driving around aimlessly...) that Flo had been to before and had a great meal. We split two vegetarian dishes (eggplant and a potato/chick pea dish) some amazing nut/raisin naan. Yuuuuuum.

Flo had told me that his house was going to the Bronx Zoo on Sunday, so I called housemom and suggested that we go with, since they were taking a 15 passenger van and would have the room. His house was glad to take us - as they hadn't been able to book that van. So, guess who's driving to the Bronx tomorrow??? Yikes. Can we not talk about how nervous I will be? Luckily we'll be caravan-ing, and so it should be ok.

I hope.

After dinner we took a long time to find the mall (noticing a trend here?) and walked around for several hours. Flo had found out earlier that he got the job he's been waiting to hear back on (job coach for developmentally disabled people) back home, and so he was super excited. He also got quite a few calls, and had to take a long one from his parents about arrangements. Necessary since he's going home in like 3 weeks and hasn't bought his plane ticket yet...

After the mall we headed to the airport. And, once again, managed to get thoroughly turned around. For a good 1/2 hour. Luckily, her luggage was delayed (well, actually already there...) and we made it on time to pick her up. Then we got lost trying to get home. This became an annoying trend. So I got home at 11:20, had some of my banana bread and did some villager money stuff for tomorrow. We are almost set, with a short list for tomorrow.

I really need to get to bed now, hopefully zoo pictures tomorrow???

Hope all is well,
Steph

Friday, May 28, 2010

I Survived 5 Days of Juicing!

Hi all,

While it had some ups and downs (and a few really good stomach grumbles!), I am proud to say, that as of midnight tonight my vegetable juice cleanse is done! Although I'm not hungry, I definitely miss eating. And I shall be breaking my fast in prime style, due to Flo. Upon hearing I had nothing to do, he giddily asked if we could juice something (anything!) and then said that we should make midnight pizza. Do you know how fantastic that sounds?!? Mmmm. Although I'll probably have to take it a bit easy, otherwise my stomach might rebel.

Today was pretty much a blur in the morning. I spent all morning cooking. I got bread made, the salad, noodles, meatballs, sauce and salad dressing - all from scratch, except the noodles. Even I'm not that insane. I accidentally invited a new co-worker over who is vegetarian, so I kept some of the sauce separate. The kitchen was a complete mess when I finished, but I'm also pretty good at cleaning them up now. It's also difficult to cook when your sense of taste is off, and you're not eating. I had several willing guinea pigs though. No one keeled over, so I'm taking it as a positive sign.

The co-op was good this afternoon. Although I complained a bit in the beginning about going there, I've really come to like it. I'm slowly learning how it's run, and it's always interesting to see who comes in - and the requests that they make. They can write down on a sheet what they'd like to have us order. Unfortunately, a island vacation isn't something we can provide. The workmaster is really laid back but still has a strong sense of responsibility, so it's a good environment. Although things can get tense between the other workers at times (especially if Connie is in a bad space), I've really enjoyed my time there. Since my workmaster was a temporary fill-in (he's a short-term co-worker who's been here several years), this is bound to change. Couple this with my house parents changing over in a few weeks and this can seem a bit overwhelming. So I try not to think about it.

I did meet the new houseparents today, they're staying off-location until housemom and the children leave. They seem nice enough. It's mostly just disheartening to realize I have to start from scratch to build up another relationship. Things aren't always easy with housemom, but I respect and genuinely like her. A lot of houseparents seem to operate off of a power construct with fear or intimidation (although that makes them seem evil, which as far as I know, none of them are...) or at least a strong sense of aloofness. I suppose that after being a houseparent for years upon end it's a natural development to hold yourself back from getting involved with young co-workers. I suppose that some people have a hard time managing those boundaries. Still, I'm glad of the time that I've had with housemom and will really miss her. The children too, to various degrees.

They youngest came into work with me today, and he was great. He was very helpful with stocking up shelves, tossing cardboard boxes and being cute in general. Of course, he also had the motivation of icecream (fudge bar = one chocolate-y face!) and housemom picked him after an hour.

Anyhow, tomorrow is my day off and other than finishing a photo project for my youngest brother's graduation party on Sunday, I haven't got an plans. Although, I will definitely eat some food. Maybe leftover pizza???

Hope all is well,
Steph

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Frustrations: Juice is Getting to Me?

Hi all,

Today was...interesting. I had the medicine giver's course and the test was no problem. We got done early and so I took the van and went to the IGA and then to the library, CVS (electric toothbrushes are not frowned upon here for villagers, which is super nice), and the bank. This did make me late for lunch, but since mine was already stowed in my cup, it was not a problem.

It stormed last night, which made today a good 15 degrees cooler and not as muggy. Talk about gross and sticky yesterday. It's just bearable in my room if I'm not moving and have the windows open. Anyhow, we were only in the course for an hour this afternoon, and my workmaster graciously let me have the rest of the afternoon off. So I decided to depress myself by taking the GRE practice test, quantitative section.

Because Steph loves math.

Math does not love Steph.

Ok, we actually just like to pretend that the other doesn't exist. Anyhow, the results were depressing, and the verbal even more so (although I got killed for not understanding how the test is set up...good to know, and really, what I expected). Plus, I'm probably not at full brain power with the whole juicing thing. Not to mention that grad school isn't for sure even in my semi-immediate (2-4 year) plans. However, the scores are good for up to 5 years, and it's probably good to do it closer to now than further from my school days. Urg.

To make my evening complete, of course, was Maria's stuffed dog. He's been getting really dirty lately, but he almost didn't survive the last trip through the washing machine. Lately the youngest child and Maria have been taking him outside, which makes it worse. We've tried scrubbing with a cloth, but I'm afraid his days are numbered. Anyhow, Maria was looking for him frantically and refusing to rest without him. Meanwhile, I searched for a frickin' half hour (outside, in the dark...) for this stupid dog. The only thing worse than having a dog not come when you call, is a stuffed dog that can't. Luckily, the neighbor had seen him at one point, and was able to find him. Otherwise I was going to turn the situation over to housemom, as it was probably her youngest who encouraged whatever escapade (earlier he was tied to a tree...) the dog is put in. He has now become an "inside only" dog.

Plus, I had to give Franklin a lecture/discussion on time and visiting. He knows he has to be back by 9 (suggested as reasonable by him) but has been invariably late. It takes him a while to relax, and he's slow. And if he's not in bed by 10 he gets really grumpy. Which he freely acknowledges. It's hard to treat someone like an adult when they can't handle the consequences which not only effect them, but everyone in the house.

Anyhow, hope all is well,
Steph

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Say it aloud with me: "Millafel"

Hi all,

Today, millet met falafel. It wasn't pretty, but it was not bad. This is disappointing, considering I was in the kitchen ALL morning. And it was 95 degrees here today! Not to mention the humidity...Anyhow, Sam requested the millet cakes (if pizza wasn't an option...) and I decided to go my own on it. I added chickpeas, onion, toasted cashews, zucchini, egg, quark, basil, cumin, turmeric, salt, pepper, garlic (too many spices??) and some flour to the dough. But it just wouldn't set into a dough/paste I could form. So I put it in the freezer.

This, in itself was not a bad idea. Sending Franklin back with the salad to put in the fridge and to pull it out of the freezer, was. The batter didn't do much, but the salad froze beautifully. The carrots became a bit deadly.

I also made a thick bechamel sauce by more or less following some "Joy of Cooking" instructions. I made roux (not hardly the nightmare it was this summer using 9 pounds of butter at a time...geez), and felt quite accomplished that it came out exactly like sausage and gravy sauce (except I used hamburger). It's not my favorite, but since I'm juicing and Sam requested it, I saw no harm in it.

I stayed away from the beets today, but got to experience citrus and chard. The citrus makes it a lot more palatable, but it's hard to stomach the tiny chunks of chard that slip through the grinder. The beets turn the juice a lovely reddish purple, and without them it's usually a sickly green/orange. Housemom said to stay clear of too much fruit juice - it tends to make you more hungry, I guess. I had a popsicle and a slush today, so I'll see how that is tomorrow. You get to a point where food doesn't really bother you, and your stomach isn't hungry...just kind of distant feeling. I haven't really felt any bad effects, and was actually more chipper this morning than previous ones. We'll probably finish out the week doing the juicing. I'm not sure I'd ever have the drive to do it by myself again, but it's interesting.

Anyhow, we had a neighborhood meeting today (although not in the past 2 weeks, so it wasn't so bad). Afterward we struggled to get through the shipment from yesterday, and still came up short. We are missing Polo, and the high heat and humidity (even in the relative comfort of the cool co-op) definitely had an effect on our productivity. I was glad to only have to carry a few small things home afterward!

After dinner Sam said he would send Maria to her evening activity, so I set out to meet up with Cat (female co-worker who lives in the house nearest to mine) at the swim pond. Unfortunately, she'd finished her bike ride really quickly, and was already heading back. She encouraged me to go and jump in anyway, and I had the pond to myself for a while. It was lovely, although there's entirely too many fish flopping around (including giant carp...?) for my full comfort level. At least I didn't see any of the water snakes.

Anyhow, I have a test tomorrow in the medicine giver's course (which I've semi-studied for...mostly common-sense) so I better get to bed here.

Hope all is well,
Steph

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Where Does the Time Go?

Hi all,

Every Monday I like to plan out what I'm trying to get accomplished and try to find times that would work to do the projects. My list includes: plan/do Americorps projects, study for GRE, brush up on my German (difficult when it randomly won't play sound on my laptop...), make hangers for my tomato plants, paint the bottom of my languishing planter, make a slideshow for my brother's graduation, plan my parents' visit (partial accomplishment!), plan my Germany visit, finish the necklaces I'm making and still try to make as much time to hang out with the friends I've made that will be leaving soon.

Should be a breeze, right?

Honestly, though, I should look at what I do achieve. We made the planter, I'm more than half-way done with the necklaces, I have some thriving plants, I've fulfilled my civics requirement, I'm on day two of a vegetable juice cleanse (eww, beets), I can make millet and other things into an appetizing dish (urg, tomorrow...) and I'm making some great friends. Plus, I'm getting to be a pro about roosters.

Anyhow, today was a blur of cleaning in the morning (still no one back in the glass workshop, but I was able to rock out to my ipod because no one else was home...nice) and lifting and pricing 2 orders in the co-op. Definitely a busy day. In the evening I went on a nice walk with housemom and helped a new co-worker find his house.

At any rate, I'm tired and this is late. I just finished watching a movie with Flo and although he didn't get to juice anything (sort of a fixation) I sent him home with a slice of leftover pizza.

Oh. And I totally got published on another site: pinkpangea.com.

Totally made my day!

Hope all is well,
Steph

Monday, May 24, 2010

Absolved and Yet Another Rooster..

Hi all,

This morning we discovered that the car keys are missing. And guess who used them last on Saturday? Yup. So I spent good random chunks of my day scouring throughout the house for them. I used the spare set to unlock (which confused me, because I swear that I left it unlocked...) the van and searched through that...twice. It was really starting to drive me nuts, and we finally had to tell the neighbors to be on the lookout for a set of keys. As I was headed down to the play tonight, I ran into a neighbor co-worker who informed me that: they were hanging in their house. Um, ok?

So I went and got it for my little adventure with the roosters, only to find out that I'd certainly not been the last one to drive it! And because we have one very small housemother in the neighborhood, I know exactly who it was. So I am thus "absolved" as deemed by my housemother. Although she apparently checked the other house twice. I'm guessing that the other housemom used it, forgot to put it back and sent them up with someone who put it in the wrong house. At any rate, it was good to get them back.

At any rate: the rooster. Now the interloper rooster is still long gone, but we still had 2. The non-dominant rooster is an unhappy guy, and has been getting more and more vocal about it. Housemom finally placed an ad for giving him and the one hen who likes him away. She got a response last week, and they were supposed to tag along to school today. However, housemom tried to be nice and put some food in with them in the carrier (caught last night), and they made a run for it. So I volunteered to drive them out to the new home. Obviously in my own self-interest, although the dehumidifier in my room drowned it out at 3:30 this morning...

So I found myself leaving at 9 with some mapquested directions that looked complicated. I figured out the way until the very end, trying to find the house. I turned around at one point and went back to the last lit house that I thought it was. It wasn't. But the owner knew exactly who I was talking about: "OH! The animal lady...". This was promising to get interesting. Luckily I was very close. I pulled up a steep driveway, home to 7 cars in various conditions and was met by "Nemo".

"Nemo" is a great pyrenees, and thus scary as fuck. I high-tailed it back to the car. I mean, honestly, someone has a wicked sense of humor. There's no way in heck that a dog that size (probably close to weighing more than me and up past my waist!) could EVER get lost. Ever. Luckily, he was reined in by a girl who couldn't have been more than 10, her little sister (8?) and little brother (6? and naked...). They swooped in to grab the pet carrier, lugging it off between the cars up the driveway. The older girl instructing her sister. They were ready to send me off when I mentioned that I'd need the carrier back. My comment on the rooster's bedraggled condition (the other rooster beat him up when he ran out of the carrier...) was met with a dismissive air. She told her sister to grab them out, and as no screams or crows ensued, she must've had some luck.

Very strange though. I never saw an adult and those kids were up late, although they're apparently homeschooled.

Anyhow, the rest of my day wasn't nearly as strange. We had to eat breakfast early for a hall event, which was a bit rough as Sam overslept. I spent at good chunk of the morning running errands but got back in time to get things ready for lunch. We left with the orientation group at noon, and it took us about 1.5 hours to get to Mechanicsville. We found the White Rose exhibition and it was very well done. Most of the Germans didn't read through the exhibit, although if that's due to a lack of interest or unease - I couldn't tell. There were also a bunch of drawings done by children from 30 countries of a white rose. Some of them were amazingly well done. In reading about the history of the group (the random or not-so-randomly chosen name), it struck me that most of them involved were my age or younger - especially those guillotined. What a horrendous end to meet. The students showed a whole new level of awareness for the German public.

The male students had all been on the Russian front and many had also seen what had happened to the Jews in Poland and France. Though not all the public had access to the forbidden materials that they did, the claim of complete ignorance is much harder to ignore. But conditioning and the need to survive with your sanity can be powerful elements in intentional ignorance. And I'm not one to judge since it's beyond my realm of imagination.

Definitely some food for thought.

Hope all is well,
Steph

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Down and Dirty

Hi all,

Today I spent a good portion of my day off cleaning my new room. It took about 1.5 hours to get it ready to move my stuff in. It wasn't filthy or anything, but after having several male co-workers in succession, there were definitely some nook and crannies that needed wiping down. My old room also needs some cleaning still, but I'm too pooped to do it now.
However, I am well-pleased with the transformation:







This pretty much ate up my day, and I had lunch and dinner (a cookout...nice) with the house. Now, I am feeling a bit cooped up, but also too lazy to call around to see if anyone wants to do anything. Good motivation, right?

Last night I watched a movie called "In the Cut" with Meg Ryan and Mark Ruffalo. It was incredibly intense and definitely not a movie you'd want to watch with your parents or on a first date. But the acting was incredible, the plot fresh and fascinating. I'm not typically a murder/suspense film watcher, but I definitely admire the amount of work went into the film.

I also have been enjoying the birthday mix CD that Bean gave me. My favorite is a Beatles cover of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" (since my CD for her birthday had the German original on it). It's quite tormented.

Anyhow, tomorrow we having an outing to learn about the White Rose Resistance movement. Should be very interesting.

Hope all is well,
Steph

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Picking Up Pieces of Me

Hi all,

When you live with a group long enough, in an isolated setting especially, you see how you start to pick up other people's characteristics/habits. I now have a good portion of the house commanding inanimate objects to "Stay!", between Sam and I a lot now say "Ja!" and today when I caught Beau talking to himself he stayed completely unfazed and brightly said "Hi!" - something I also do when caught mumbling (or full-out lecturing) to myself. This, of course goes 2 ways and I'm sure that I'm picking up pieces of other people as well.

This morning started off slowly, and then had some nice grueling cleaning: bathrooms, vacuuming, co-op run, dishes...after a few hours you're just ready for lunch and a nap. I didn't get the nap, but since we were heading off to Millerton I didn't mind. Millerton is named after the engineer who designed the railroad system, by the way. Just a fun fact that we picked up while doing our short hike after poking around the downtown. It's a nice paved hiking path that they put over where the rail used to run. We were a motley group with the children, and I'm afraid we pissed off some "hardcore" bikers. Meh.

While walking along with the eldest child, she earnestly confided (after hearing how I got my cigarette-burn scar) that she has: "A particularly good dirty look". I told her she should become a teacher. Her mother chimed in Librarian. Unfortunately, she soon rolled her ankle while racing, and I gave her a piggyback ride for the last 3/4 of a mile or so. Considerably more of a challenge with 50 extra pounds on your back!

It's ok, it probably helped me burn off our "tea break" that we'd taken at the cafe before starting. I looked over from my table to see housemom with a blissed-out look on her face as she sneakily pinched off a glob of the frosting from her cupcake to devour with a look of utter contentment (and then utter embarrassment as I caught her eye...). My seat also faced towards the entrance, and at one point an older gentleman walked in, rubbed/itched (?) his back against the inside door frame corner and then left. This was a little odd, and slightly confusing.

Beau was in high spirits today and cheerily waved to passerbys and drivers alike - getting a wave from a USPS driver and several outside diners. After dinner (pizza...always a crowd-pleaser!), we drove back home. While driving with Beau up front (housemom in another vehicle), we got passed rather unsafely by a little mini cooper. I braked for them, and Beau shook his fist. Good to have solidarity on that front!

Anyhow, tomorrow is my day off. I have a whole list of things I need to work on. First I have to get my room moved (yay for downstairs!!!) and then various other things as well. Should be a full day. It's also "Whitsun" so there's special celebrations going on (I made a paper dove today...) and they're also doing something with the new greenhouse. Again.

Hope all is well,
Steph

Friday, May 21, 2010

Stockholm Syndrome

Hi all,

Well, karaoke happened last night, so my post didn't.

To bring you up to speed: Thursday I was supposed to have medicine giver's course all day. However, we powered through all 4 sections in the morning and then the instructor realized that it was supposed to be for the day. So we only met for about a half hour in the afternoon. It was Polo's last day in the co-op, but I'd gotten a call at breakfast from the the workmaster (who always has seminar on Thursdays) asking me if I could do it alone in the afternoon because Polo wanted to shop.

Now, usually Polo calls me and double checks to see if this is ok. Doubled with the fact that it would've been his last day (and only day of work this week because of the special schedule), I was a tad bit upset. So I didn't go back to work even when I was done early. Instead, Schmee and I finally painted the planter (the first coat anyway) and had a heck of a time trying to clean up afterward. Exterior paint is (obviously) not water-soluble.

Anyhow, after dinner Sam cracked out his ice pops (he thinks they're amazing...), and so I got the Dimetapp flavored one. Yum...We also ended with the whole house outside and about 500 pounds on the hammock - which it held no problem. Got to hand it to LL Bean.

After we got people settled, we had one of the neighbor staff kids come and house sit while we did a co-worker meeting/walk. I'd never been up past the house before and discovered the gardens and orchard behind it. We also saw some rather unfortunate looking sheep, who'd only (for whatever reason) been partially sheared. I'm sure it looked funny to see a whole house's co-workers walking down the road that leads out of the village...escape!

We made our way to karaoke and I roped in one of the very talented and out-going male co-workers in my neighborhood to sing "Build Me Up, Buttercup". We pretty much rocked the house. It was a "Oh. So this is why people like karaoke". I just thought they were a glutton for self-punishment. Or only for people who can actually sing. We did miss the crush of about 1/2 of the co-workers coming afterward, which is nice - my hand was still shaking throughout the song.

This morning we made pancakes (per usual) and I had a harried morning getting lunch set up (except the noodles) for Sam by 11:10. I drove Polo into Hudson to take the train to NY. He's spending some time with his parents (he has so much luggage...it's ridiculous), and they're flying back with a majority of his stuff when they all go home. It was hard to say goodbye, mostly because it's a wake-up call to the fact that all the friends I've made will be slipping away throughout the summer - Polo is only the first. I think he may have Stockholm's Syndrome though. 2 months ago I asked what he thought he'd gotten out of his time at the village, and he vehemently exclaimed "Nothing!". Today, however, he was waxing on about the experience has helped to shape him, and the surrealism of leaving.

Makes me wonder if I've changed at all yet, or how much I will by the time I leave.

I didn't have much time for brooding this afternoon though, for neighborhood work we scrubbed the top of the garage (a cement patio) which was treacherously slimy. Gross. It took us a good 2 hours using a weak hose and kitchen scrubbies...

Sam and I managed dinner as housemom took the kids out - though by the way they were fighting today, I feel it probably benefited us more. Plus, she never gets a day off - but somehow manages to stay positive. Strong woman.

Hope all is well,
Steph

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Thank God for Work Tomorrow!

Hi all,

And seriously, I mean it. Today a housemom called to book our car and it literally took me a minute of staring at the calendar to remember what day it was and what week. Me a fan of patterns? It is terribly disconcerting though. I did eventually figure out what day it was. So I am relieved to have a regular day (finally) tomorrow.

Crap.

Just kidding.

I just remembered I actually have "Medicine Givers" course all day tomorrow. Well, last time it wasn't for the whole time, and I doubt it will be tomorrow. So that should be fun.

Today I spent a good amount of the day making the Leek and Walnut Millet cakes. They did turn out pretty tasty (housemom claims she'd order them at a restaurant...). It's definitely a painless way to eat millet. I also fried up some zucchini. I say "some" because although it filled up the skillet raw, those suckers sure do reduce. So everyone got about a tablespoon.

Sad.

But we also had salad and plenty of the millet to go around.

On a completely new note, I may turn into the crazy cat woman. Housemom will be taking their two (and pretty great) cats with them when they move. We've already signed on to taking one of the neighbor's cats (a half-grown kitten that one of the kids rescued, but doesn't get along well with the 2 others they have) and I just heard that a house in the village just had kittens. KITTENS!

I want one.

Because after a nice cuddly boy or dog to pet, a cat is the next best thing.

Hope all is well,
Steph

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Julie/Julia/Steph

Hi all,

Actually, I'm just flattering myself here. A friend lent me "Julie & Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously", which happened after Julie Powell wrote her blog, but before the movie. And it's fan-freakin-tastic. Ok, so I know I might've raved about it a little yesterday, but I was full-out laughing during the drive today (details to come), and had to read a whole passage out loud. Two words for you: "Bitch Rice".

Although, I must say that I had quite a moment. I was reading and along came the last sentence on page 216:

"Everyone knows there are foods that are sexy to eat."

1 Point to Sam.

However, she follows this up by claiming there are some foods that are just sexy to make. Two pages later she follows this up with: "Now, this may be a stretch for some people, but I believe that calves' liver is the single sexiest food that there is."

She lost a point of credibility with me there, but then again, I've never had it.

Anyhow, much more laughter ensued.

This morning I did the garden market run, learned how to do Villager finances (which gets me tense, because - oh, how Steph loves Math...), ran the enthusiastic work crew and made granola. Plus a multitude of tiny things that take up time but aren't significant to mention.

Connie and I got picked up at about 2:10 to go on our outing with the co-op crew. We went to Tierra Farm and got the grand tour. Tierra Farm is: "...a small, privately-owned, certified organic producer and roasting company in upstate New York." And they're passionate about what they do. We got to see the roasting room (complete with new coffee roaster!), their storage area, the packing room and (my favorite) - the chocolate room. Sounds like it's straight out of Willy Wonka, right?

Anyhow, the whole facility was nice. Their office areas had a homey feel, they use about 80% solar energy to operate, they have gardens and keep outdoor pet farm animals (although neither are biodynamic...lol). And while I assume that everyone within 100 miles knows something about the community, we found ourselves explaining at the end. Hopefully we didn't come across as being too crazy. At any rate, we had a great time and I feel great that we support (and vice versa) such a nice company. Did I mention the free samples??

Anyhow, we got back in time for me to help (along with Sam, of course) housedad move his things out. He's heading out tomorrow to get things settled in Maine. It made a few people anxious, but nothing too dramatic. Since he's been busy job hunting a lot the last few months, he's been gone quite a bit and so I think it made the transition easier on everyone. Still, it calls to mind that soon the majority of co-workers that I've come to know in the past 4.5 months will also be slipping away soon.

A moment for pity.

Moving on.

Anyhow, I have S&B in a few minutes, so I should probably get my stuff together now. It was a nice day today and assuming I get my act together on the millet (leek and millet cakes again tomorrow??) it should go smoothly as well. It's another half day, with neighborhood work in the afternoon...hopefully it won't be raining all day like today.

Hope all is well,
Steph

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Buttered Popcorn Gets Me Every Time...

Hi all,

So, who had a fantastic birthday? Yes. Me. Two days..really. I'll come back to that.

I bounced out of bed Saturday morning at about 8. I went downstairs and ate some cereal and bounded upstairs to open my boxes. My best childhood friend had sent me a shoe box containing what has to be the largest homemade chocolate chip cookie that I've ever seen. It probably had a 10 inch diameter. It was crisp on the edges, but soft and crumbly everywhere else. Sam was very jealous. My parents also sent me a fun (and slightly odd...glow in the dark hummingbird plant thing, for example...) package. I was totally excited to see Sixlets again!

Afterward I went down to make cocoa crispy bars for the picnic, and the whole house sang me happy birthday. Awww. I met up with Bean at about 9:45 and we went into Hudson, stopping to pick up Schmee and to go to the ever-popular Walmart. Although we stayed classy and bought our meat/meat substitutes at Price Chopper. Anyhow, we made it back home by 12:30 and I whipped a pasta salad together, and all the picnic things. We left around 1:55, with me leading a car with Sam and another co-worker in it. I'd only been to the park once, but Bean brought her GPS, Pegasus. Peg was having a rough day, and only got satellite for the 15 seconds before the final turn and then immediately lost signal again. However, we were not lost at any point, so a win for me.

Apparently we used the back entrance, but I didn't know that at the time. I thought it was the main entrance and even though the cooler playground was at the back, we stuck to the "front" area so we could flag people down. This did not work, as at least one car never found us. However, the other one did, and we ended up with 5 people. This was good, because it was an awesome group, but meant that I have a lot of food left over!

We stayed from about 2-7, enjoying cooking out, a few drinks (legal in NY state parks!) and the playgrounds...we migrated once it became apparent no one else would be coming so late. After we packed everything up, we went back to the village and then met up a little later for a bonfire. We sugared ourselves up on the rice crispy bars and marshmallows. Yum.
A very nice birthday...no doubts about it!

Sunday was completely relaxed. The house (housemom, 3/4 villagers as one was with family) and I went out for brunch - housedad watched the kids. We went to the nearby country club, and although over-priced, the food was pretty good. Housemom asked me to name 3 things that I've learned in my very sagacious 23 years. After a little thought, my list was:
1. You need good friends that you can both laugh and cry with.
2. It's important to keep in contact with your family.
3. You can't control life, but you can control your expectations for it.

For dinner we had housemom's special mac'n'cheese and for dessert a yummy lemon raspberry cheesecake. This was not a lactose-intolerant-friendly meal...Thankfully not an issue for me! I also got the Deborah Madison cookbook: "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone" - which is one of the ones I use the most frequently here. Housemom will be taking her copy when they move, so I really appreciate it! After dinner I went to the hall for our neighborhood's Kaspar Hauser presentation. Housemom did some improv singing, and wrote the lyrics herself. Very haunting sounding, although she neither howled like a wolf nor used a food processor for a tonal noise like she threatened to... Kaspar Houseer definitely has interesting story, you may want to Google him. However, I always thought that "destiny" or "fate" were predetermined, so it's impossible to change them. Otherwise it's kind of a pointless concept, right?

Anyhow, I spent today cleaning and had leftovers (from the picnic as well...) for lunch. I've also been working my way through the Jelly Bellies and have to say I'm a slow learner. The peanutbutter ones (yuck) have such a distinct color I can always fish them out. The black licorice are a bit tricky, but still pretty distinct. However, the buttered popcorn (easily my least favorite ever) are quite ingenious. They're not always the exact same looking, sometimes they're bright yellow with spatterings of white, and other times they're quite pale. Since there's numerous yellow ones (pineapple, lemon, lemon drop, pina colada, etc), I try to inspect it pretty closely and try to nail them down. I just ate two buttered popcorns in a row. Obviously I'm doing well here.

Anyhow, I've just started "Julie and Julia" and I'm enjoying it even more than the movie. Her prose is something that I feel mine is a pale variation of. But I'd probably get a talking too if I said "fuck" as much as she did...

Hope all is well,
Steph

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I'm Kind of a Big Deal

Hi all,

As promised/threatened: All About Steph:

1. This is my 10th prime birthday.
2. I'm not ticklish
3. I learned to give kick-ass back massages through karate and good pressure points.
4.I can touch my tongue to my nose.
5. I've been to 13 countries besides the US.
6. Favorite book: Deerskin, by Robin McKinley
7. Huge fan of soft sci-fi - especially Robert A. Heinlein
8. I can't juggle.
9. I've been told I talk too fast to have an accent.
10. Singing/dancing in public terrifies me.
11. I still conquer that fear occasionally.
12. Never smoked a cigarette.
13. The only color I've every dyed my hair is blue.
14. I used to get grounded from reading...not TV.
15. I never listened to The Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys or N'SYNC growing up.
16. I once ate an ant for a dollar.
17. I was 18
18. Lavender reminds me of old ladies.
19. Got my first kiss at 15.
20. I've speared a fish ice fishing.
21. I've been to 2 red light districts, including sleeping in one.
22.I hold belts in 3 different forms of karate, the highest being green.
23. I can count to 10 in 6 different languages.
24. I want to skydive.
25. I didn't drink beer at Oktoberfest.
26. I've never watched "Titanic"
27. I know all about Margery Kempe...don't ask.
28. I was in ballet and wrestling in elementary school.
29. I never wanted a sister, because I didn't want to share my clothes with her.
30. I still steal t-shirts from my brothers.
31. I like being with people who make me laugh and enjoy to laugh.
32. I don't like large groups of people.
33. My favorite color is green.
34. I don't own a single pair of shorts.
35. I talk too much.
36. I even talk in my sleep.
37. Puns and sarcasm are my choice of humor.
38. I've never eaten yellow snow.
39. I can speak pig latin.
40. I've ran out of ideas for this list.

Hope all is well,
Steph