What happens when you forgot you're out of milk and so have to make the cornbread using heavy whipping cream is that the cornbread comes out a little loose, but ooooooooooooo so light and creamy and tasty! The experiments shall now commence on how to keep the cream, but bring back a little bit of firmness.
The only thing to do with five pounds of bacon ends n' pieces after rendering is to make a blt salad. Think blt, but with a spiced mayo sauce and french bread that was sliced and set out two days ago to stale, and then popped into the oven for a toast. But with One Million And One things to do, one can remember to get up every once in a while to stir the greens, it can easily slip the mind to check on the toasting bread.
By now, the neighbors are quite used to the smoke alarm going off during an extended Juila session. But every once in a while they have to come over and check, Especially with smoke pouring out of every open window. Which is a good thing, on the off chance that I'm laying on the floor, dead, being nibbled on by the cat. (Dogs go to fetch help when you're dead. Cats are more practical.)
This conversation took place moments ago through the front door between the patriarch of the folks with the fabulous garden next door, and Moi. On the grass of their yard stands either his mother or his wife's mother. The eldest son, a teen, is next to her, translating.
The Gardener of Eden: Hey! Your alarm is going off.
TGE: There's a lot of smoke.
Me: That's the toast.
TGE: Oh. It's thick smoke.
TGE: Lot of toast, huh?
Me: It was.
TGE: So...You gonna go get that?
Me: Soon as I send this email. By the time the alarm goes off, whatever's in the oven is a lost cause.
TGE: ... That really does make sense!
Me: Thank you.
For the record, the alarm goes off often because it's placed in an area where just about anything on the stove will set it off eventually. An entire loaf of stale french bread turning into coal just sets it off more, is all.
(This ran in Dec. 2001 in Off the 10. Merry, merry!)
So, this holiday season is shaping up to be a tough one because for the first time in nearly 20 years I'm trying to get through the season without my Mormon Tabernacle Choir bootleg tape, which was cruelly eaten by the player last week.
It's just not Christmas without the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
More alarmingly, it seems that without the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sending out its glorious tones of joy and peace, their faith through song creating a magical protective bubble of holiday cheer all around, things suddenly go wrong.
Not too long after the bootleg was destroyed by the forces of Satan residing in the tape player, the car died.
Then I found out that I was not going to be able to attend the midnight showing of "Lord of the Rings" after all and had to turn over my ticket to another -- who gloated over the fact that she was going to see it before I will.
Then, my fancy new cat -- who by the way has a thing for chewing on plastic -- swallowed about five feet of shiny bright red ribbon. Pulling it out of his gullet was not, let me tell you, a festive holiday experience.
There was an album and a half on my ancient Mormon Tabernacle Choir bootleg. It was recorded off actual albums from a public library and contains all the little scratches and hiccups that give it a warm and loving character. I keep it in a special box so nothing will happen to it during the year and play it only the weekend after Thanksgiving to help set the mood for decorating, and then again during the two weeks leading up to Christmas.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir rocks. Hearing their voices soar automatically flings you into the Christmas zone.
After a significant period of whining about the loss of the most perfect Christmas tape in the world, it was suggested by Mom that I simply turn on the radio and find a station playing Christmas music. Turns out there's only one doing so around here right now, an adult contemporary station. Judging by their definition of Christmas "music," adult contemporary has devolved into an abysmal state even lower than country. Do people actually listen to this stuff unless they're trapped in an elevator?
Here's an example of what passes for Christmas "music" in the adult contemporary world these days. It must be a very popular song because this station has it on heavy rotation.
The setting is a store. The singer, a man, has been shopping for the holiday and is waiting in a long checkout line, not feeling much seasonal cheer. In front of him stands a filthy child (of course) wearing rags (of course) holding a shoe box. The child wants to buy the shoes in the box as a Christmas present for his mother, who is dying (of course) from an unspecified disease. In case the mother keels over before Christmas, the child wants her to be wearing the fabulous shoes so that she'll "look so great" when she dies and meets Jesus.
However, the child's only currency is a whole bunch of pennies (of course) and he holds up the entire line counting them out. Guess what! Turns out the bedraggled boy doesn't have enough to pay for the shoes (of course) and looks up at the singer with frantic helplessness. The guy singing the song is so moved by this raggedy little cliche in front of him that he lays out the cash to make up the difference. The grateful, grimy moppet thanks him and runs off happily. The singer realizes with great profundity that God must have sent the dusty little boy with the dying mother and everything to that store just to teach him a lesson about What Christmas Is all About.
And just in case you didn't get it, the final line -- I want her to look beautiful if Mama meets Jesus tonight -- is sung once by the male singer, once by a bunch of child singers, and once by a little boy with high, theatrically cracked little boy voice.
This song is the Thomas Kincaid of Christmas music.
It's too bad members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints aren't violent people, because I think the guy who came up with this song should be beaten by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for foisting this insipid tripe into the holiday music canon.
But as you probably guessed, this guy knows more about what the people really want than I, because his blatant little tune shot to No. 1 on Billboard when it was released last year. It has also spawned a book.
While some might view this as a serious defeat for the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I must proclaim that my faith in Him remains strong. On the day the decision was announced, the fevered plea and lamentation to Him that I had been spewing forth for seven weeks bore fruit via the miracle of eBay! The ONE thing someone dear to me wants -- and that seemed to be completely and totally Not Available Anywhere -- appeared! It was affordable and will arrive in time for Christmas. O Flying Spaghetti Monster, I thank Thee so.
And if you think this Ends It for a while, you just haven't been paying attention to how these people operate. Goodbye, Dover ... hello Ann Arbor...
The York Daily Record, the go-to local coverage source on this trial, whipped up a rather hearty editorial about the whole thing. As ever, clicky on the excerpt to jump to the full article.
And I type the above with full recognition of the irony involved, what with me sitting here watching the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Christmas show on PBS, which I skipped the workshop tonight to watch. I LOVE the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Seriously, they are as good as the Boy's Choir of Harlem, and those kids are PHENOMENAL. One day I hope to see them live. I don't know if they go on tour or if they pretty much stick to performing in Mormon land. I'd be willing to trek to Mormon land one holiday season to see them live. I'd endure the cold of Salt Lake in December to see them! Provided I didn't have to be exposed to the cold for too long, and there was a bar within striking distance of the performing venue to help me warm up.
If I can find it (or if I have a copy...I dunno if I do) I'll type in the column I wrote about what happened the Christmas week my ancient Mormon Tabernacle Choir tape broke and my life was plunged into Darkness. It's just not Christmas without the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, you know. If I have it, I'll program that to go up Christmas day.
(It is kind of funny to listen to the Mormorn Tabernacle Choir sing negro spirituals though. They just did "Rise Up Shepherd And Follow.")
I got into the most fascinating discussion this weekend with someone upset over the idea that I am writing something that involves this man, who really just has a guest appearance in this here project but a major role in another project. By "discussion" I mean I largely sat there with my mouth hanging open in shock while listening to a well educated, intelligent, very good friend of a friend of mine hit the roof upon seeing a collection of Confederate narratives on the table, and my brief description of what I'm working on. Apparently there are rules about what black people are allowed to write about! Eeeenteresting....
Anyways, posting will be light this week. More work to do and gatherings to attend than time available. I'll probably only update only a couple of times this week.
The party went great! Unfortunately, someone absconded with the office digital camera, so I have no real pictures of the event. One of my coworkers who had a camera phone took some pictures of the lovely spread of food, and if he sends me copies I'll post them.
The 'stained glass' windows were to cover the florescent lights. Using thin plastic sheets of yellow, blue and red, into which were cut flower shapes made of light gel (the kind of colored plastic pro photographers use to alter lights at shoots) in sky blue, green, tangerine and red, we eliminated the harsh light of the room and turned it into something pretty and soft. We were going for a fairy land feel.
The food and raffle gift tables were bordered with white twinkle lights. Each table was covered with a blue or white tablecloth, scattered with glitter and extra candy, and a centerpiece put in the middle. We had a raffle for the general gifts, and each child was given a goody bag of candy, knick knacks and a toothbrush and toothpaste.
The food was all desserts, some homemade and some purchased. There was a five layer berry/cream cake (purchased and worth every single penny); chocolate stuffed cupcakes; tart things (purchased); fruit with a mint sugar (the invention of my Partner In Par-tay); cookies; more cookies; rice krispy treats and - the most incredible of all - a spiced bunt cake that was constructed to look like two fairy castles. My party partner made that. It was so phenomenal nobody wanted to cut it up to eat it. She had to make the first cut, about an hour into the party. The castle was in two parts; each was taken away at the end. Each person said they were going to keep it in the fridge at home until Christmas Day, and then bring it out to decorate their family tables. How awesome is that? A wonderful compliment to her Fabulousness! Also, all but two of the centerpieces were taken away. One I kept. One was pounced upon by two kids who took it apart to see how it was put together, I guess...I don't know, really. The rest went to various homes for the holidays.
It was a massive amount of work, but we felt great when it was all over. People seemed to enjoy themselves. When "Everybody Rejoice" from "The Wiz" played through the iBook, more than one person paused and said 'omigod, is that The Wiz?" which was a hoot. A few even sung along! (When one of the former camp counselors put in charge of the office holiday party is a huge musicals freak, showtunes are gonna end up in the music mix. Hey - at least it wasn't "Wish" from NIN!)
I have pictures of some of the centerpieces though, because I made them. Here they are below. Some were more successful than others, let's just say. Supplies from the candy aisle of the 99-Cents store. Candy, cookies, glitter, flocking, fake flowers, colored foil, cotton balls. Each base is florist foam. Made six all together, but I only have shots of four. Those purple things on each are baby fairies, which were made from scrap cloth left over from the living room curtains. I know it's stupid, but I like them. Each of the baby fairies has a scrap of pink sequin in the center. The pink sequin cloth was what I used to make the fairy wings for F.A. Russell, the shop steward of the Associated Union of Happiness Fairies #623957 (or something...I forget the number), who made an appearance at the party. The story we had running throughout the fairy hunt was that the lost fairies got lost in the office due to the strain of trying to bring happiness to the office during this very difficult year. (If you know what my day job is, you can guess what those difficulties were!) So F.A. asked for our help to find her lost sisters, who were unable to return to the fairy land. But because she is a fairy, she is incapable of being direct. She sent us clues in the form of altered poems sharing where she thought they might have gone astray. She provided gifts to those who found her sisters. Originally those wings were going to be put on a Jack Russell Terrier owned by one of the office folks, but there were so many people there the day of the party that his owner thought he would freak out, so the wings were placed on one of the kids, and she became F.A., the union rep from the fairy guild. She was so cute in them!
Anyways, here are the pictures of some of the centerpieces.
The maypole. This was the one I kept. What's funny is when we were cleaning up the legs of one of the little cookie bears snapped loose, but he remained glued to the ribbon. So instead of looking like he was dancing around the maypole, he looked like he was lynched! I find that hilarious, so haven't yet broken out the glue gun to fix him. I'm a terrible person.
The snowconeacopia of plenty.
Another shot of the snowconeacopia of plenty.
The candy forest.
Another shot of the candy forest.
The ship to Avalon.
Another shot of the ship to Avalon. (I did say some were less successful than others, didn't I?)
I don't have shots of the playground centerpiece or the centerpiece without a name. That one was three arches made from the pastel Wonka rope, with a gumball cairn, flower, a couple of lollipops and a baby fairy, set in a flocked base. (If you don't know what Wonka rope is, you've probably seen it. It comes in two kinds, pastel and not-pastel. It's Nerds candy bonded to a rope of something that's very similar to Red Vines. It's tasty!)
In all, it took three weekends and part of one week to make the centerpieces. It was a lot of fun.
I wish the formatting didn't screw up every time I post multiple pictures...
The final fairy, which we thought would be the hardest to figure out and find, was discovered within about 1.5 hours of release. What's weird is the the thing we thought would be one of the easiest to find (the pickle fairy) turned out to be the hardest, and they didn't have much trouble with the third and fourth ones. I wonder if that's because the pickle fairy was such a complete challenge to everyday assumptions. Even though the jar was covered wtih glitter, didn't feel like it held pickles and you could see cotton balls and a head in it, no one who looked at it or moved it over those days *expected* it to be anything but a jar of pickles, and so it didn't fully register as anything but. It's a perception thing. Hmmmm. Ponder...
Anyways, here is her clue, which was based on "A Midsummer's Night Dream" by William Shakespeare.
And here she is tucked atop a copy of the play, which was tucked among the hefty legal tomes in the downstairs library. Why is she a dog, you ask? That's an office thing. The building is filled with dogs. (My first week here my cat freaked out every time I came home and tried to pet him. It even took me a while to get used to the smell in the office. Now, I don't even notice it.) My co-hort in par-tay had the brilliant idea to make the final fairy a doggie fairy.
So the party is today! We're pretty much ready. I'll update how it went sometime over the weekend.
The final tally: Pencil fairy: found in 1.5 hours Pickle fairy: found in 4 days. Elevator fairy: found in 1 hour. Library Fairy: found in 1.5 hours.