Smallhouse Log

The Feast of Saints Perpetua, Felicitas, and company

So I think I can safely say that sing-along parties are the best kind of parties. Better than weddings, better than graduations, et cetera. A long and (mostly) fulfilling night, ending with some poetry and not quite enough water to keep a small hangover at bay. A combination of sunlight and Lauren's alarm woke me up nice and early, too; this seems all the more cruel since Lauren hit snooze until I got up, at which point it started raining and the sky got dark again. So it goes. And then Lauren went off to judge the Chiditarod in the rain, and I ate my delicious oatmeal and sang the chorus to "Barrett's Privateers" quietly to myself.

That is pretty much all that is happening, yeah, though I remain optimistic about this latest batch of resume-sendings and menial-job-fill-in-the-blank applications. I decided to not bike down to HP for the Backstory film fest today, cool as it sounded, but I still plan to attend tonight's Contra and perhaps attempt to monopolize a certain young woman's dance card. Easily confused as I am, I never know where I stand in these situations. Then church and gaming at the Partihaus tomorrow, and another week of job hunting and penny-pinching. And a birthday party! But mostly drudgery. Booo.

Seriously, amicus ex machina, somebody hook me a job.

Saturday

So yesterday was sort of a disaster. Lauren and I had planned to meet up as she got off work, eat the food leftover that would otherwise be tossed at the end of the day, and then head over to the Critical Mass. Well! First off, Lauren's place of employment seems to be one of those mystical groves that only appears to those who have been there before. After three quarters of an hour searching in the bitter cold, I gave up and went to hide out in Union Station until the Mass started. (Lauren's reaction: "Union Station! We were right across the street!") Once the Mass did start, my chain fell off twice in the first few blocks. The first time I realized what was happening, the second... I don't know. Then the third time came. I tried to correct it as I rode, but what ended up happening was the chain slipping outside, rather than inside, and links getting wedged between and even hooked around the outer gear and the guard. I couldn't fix it without tools, and it was really cold out, so I gave up and hopped a train home.

Once I got home, I did just about everything but fix Terrence. I cooked, I cleaned, I rearranged furniture and patched some jeans. But waking up today, I knew it had to be done. I need this bike to get to, and home from, my date tonight -using those comp tickets I snagged from the Harris before being laid off. So a-fixing I did go.

'Fix' is perhaps not the best word. I removed everything that wasn't working right and I didn't use. That is to say, the rear brakes, the rear brake cable, the front brake handlever, the gearguard, the front derailleur, both gear cables, both gear thumbswitches, and the rear reflector (which I do use and will put back on... sometime). I also rerouted the front brake cable to attach to the rear brake handlever at Lauren's suggestion, so I can have one working brake, should I need it. That cable is now the only one on Terrence at all; he is, I suppose, now a one-speed bike. One can still adjust the front gears by hand, but the rear set... Well, I left the rear derailleur on because it wasn't causing problems, it looked complicated, and I was tired of working on it. That last is also the reason the rear reflector has not been reattached nor the bracket for the front brake handlever removed (all other brackets, such as the rear brake bracket which held up the rear reflector, have been removed). I took him out for a short test ride to McGuane and back to make sure my efforts had not crippled him, and was happy with the results. The real test will be the ride to Hyde Park and back, of course.

And whether I get more grease, rust, or tears on the cuffs of my pants with the guard removed, naturally. That's 'tears' like Rip Torn, not 'tears' like Conor Oberst.

Mardi Gras
"This is all very interesting, [pause] but I probably wouldn't be interested." -Harris patron, 01/29/2009

"You have a cloak, you be our leader; take charge of this heap of ruins!"

Did not do anything special for Mardi Gras, except go buy Lauren some cola so she could make whiskey-coke. And carrots, so my hash browns can be a little more delicious. And lime juice and black beans, so I can make more black bean dip. Then I got was bored, and wanted to cook, even though I wasn't hungry. Bean dip takes like ten minutes to prepare, so I decided to bake.

Since I'd already been out shopping once, I was determined to use only what we had already around the house. Neither Lauren nor I knew what actually was in bread, but after reading the ingredient list on the breadbag we keep wrapped around the flour bag, we determined that we had everything but yeast and baking soda. So I set off to find a flatbread recipe I could use. I found a modified matzo recipe, and modified it a little more, which created a delicious and very nearly vegan bread perfect for the last day of indulgence -or for filling up the vast stretches of time created by unemployment.

Mardi Gras Whiskey Bread

Preheat the oven to four hundred and twenty-five degrees fahrenheit. In a bowl mix together two cups flour, half a cup brown sugar, half a cup honey, half a cup olive oil, half a cup warm water, and a quarter cup whiskey. Add a dash of nutmeg and three dashes of cinnamon. Grease a nine-by-thirteen pan or baking sheet with butter, and spread dough onto greased surface evenly. Bake for about fifteen minutes, until edges brown. About halfway through, perforate with a fork. Remove from pan or cookie sheet, cut in twelve and serve plain or with butter.

So that was what I did today. Well, and got me a date to the Pinchas Zukerman recital this weekend. And conspired with Lauren. And sang in the shower. And applied for jobs. And complained about applying for jobs. But mostly I bake a sheet of bread that has Jack Daniels in it.

Wednesday

So who has two thumbs and just realized Ash Wednesday is in a week? This guy!

So sneaky! Sneaky, sneaky fast days!

Tuesday

So I went out dancing last night, it being Presidents' Day and all. The caller decided not too spare us the funny stuff; there were two Beckett dances, two square dances, even two proper dances, the latter of which is for sets of three couples only. An interesting little one, I wrote it down. There was also one with quite a lot of spinning for the gents; though not more, I'm sure, than there was for the ladies. A thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Happy as I was to have the night off work, I was less happy to find out I have the night off again tonight. It appears that hours are getting cut, and I've been informed that I will likely be out of a job -I'm certainly not one of the best employees they have, I'm afraid- within the week. So I applied for food stamps! And I'm ramping up the already-in-progress job search. <span style='speech-style: sarcastic'>So much fun.</span>

I'll survive.

Valentine's Day

"Waltzes are ever so nice," said Mrs. Maggs who had just returned and given MacPhee his slab of cake, "So old fashioned."

Strange to me it seems, to read, in a book I tend to think of as comically old-fashioned, the calling "old fashioned" of something. That I, perhaps, might also think waltzes "ever so nice" and "old fashioned" rather stresses this than diminishes it.

Many books from my childhood I will re-read and think I could not have understood them the first time around. I say 'think' rather than 'believe' because such a thing is typically unbelievable, which is the attitude that invariably asserts itself upon consideration of my childhood regard for the book in question. There are a few things I from time to time that I failed to realize -or at least remember the realization of- on my first readings: the politics throughout the latter part of Lord of the Rings, the sexual episode in Hero and the Crown. But I remember there being one book in particular I just could not fully wrap my head around; and rereading That Hideous Strength, I can see the cause. It's just such an adult novel. The first two novels are fantasy, and fantasy, being based on experiences one is not likely to have had, is far more accessible to children. Strength is about adult things, the kind of things of whick any explanation would be extremely long, fairly tedious, and still very confusing, but which most adult have experienced, the actual experiences typically being often fleeting and generally memorable, but not infrequently still very confusing. Things like relationships gone stale, careerism, and seeking independence through wrongdoing (though admittedly, this is one of the first thing children seem to discover on their way to adulthood). My difficulty, and much of my delight, in reading, is because this contrasts with my thinking of Lewis as a 'children's author'. A very good writer he is, in any case.

that evening

Reading Timequake, I think it's the most pleasant Vonnegut I've come across. Most of his novels come strike me as... well, it's like when the prettiest, smartest girl at the party is the one in the ugliest dress, a not-uncommon ocurrance in our current society. An exuberance, a thrill, a joy, and yet something so distasteful as well. Not so (so far) with Timequake. This book makes me want to be Kurt Vonnegut for a living.

I'm just not sure I have the stones to pull it off, though.

Before I left for work this evening, Lauren and I decided to have a little DIY night, where I'd teach her how to use a sewing machine and she'd show me how to lubricate my chain. When I got back, we started things out with a DIY whiskey-coke, and I made a balaclava for Lauren, and then she made ten more for some poor balaclavaless shmucks. While she did that, I cleaned my new bookcase, and then built it into my existing shelving apparatus in a way that is fairly unlikely to kill me in my sleep. Then we tackled the bikes; Lauren on Joe's bike, and me on Terrence, after she showed me what to do. And swore a lot. There was a lot of swearing when she was looking at my bike, the kind of swearing people do when they're kind of scared, when they're nervous. She apparently also thinks I should have working brakes. "I guess this could be pretty OK if you never change gears," she said more than once. But I scrubbed the rust off with a toothbrush and so forth and adjusted the derailleurs and now the Terrence is better than ever. Hoo-ray! Unwilling to stop there, I then broke the sewing machine back out to patch some jeans; after that, I finally used the whetstone I bought five years ago so I could sharpen my pocketknife to sharpen my pocketknife. It was our most productive night since the day she made noodles and chicken noodle soup.

Which means, of course, that the apartment is a disaster of a mess.