AKA Abraham Bacoln

August 30, 2007, 8:56 am
Filed under: tidbit

I originally was going to write a little something about the two-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina but the more I looked at what I wrote on Flickr about this topic the more I realized I’d said pretty much everything I wanted to say.

Somewhere between two and four
August 27, 2007, 10:57 am
Filed under: tidbit

1.) It wasn’t until I was somewhere in my mid-20s that I realized that the name ‘Grand Ole Opry’ was actually [parodying / mocking / accepting] the southern pronunciation of the word opera. It had never occurred to me. Having grown up with the word Opry I just assumed it signified something I’d realize or recognize when I got older, or maybe it was someone’s last name (Harold Opry?) or any other number of situations. ‘Course that’s not as bad as this girl I knew who, at age 16 or thereabouts, was sitting with me in a Waffle House and after staring at the menu exclaimed, “Oh, I get it! 24/7 means twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week – you know, like, they’re open all the time!”

2.) I like checking my mail on campus. The little alcove that houses my TTU mailbox (and the boxes of hundreds of others) always smells like a comic book shop. On the days when someone has left the door closed and the smell builds up I walk in and am engulfed in the aroma of cheap paper and something else, something dry. Maybe it’s the tile floors. Maybe it’s the actual sensation of aridity. Is that even the word I want? Regardless, it’s a short-term miniature time machine and I’m in my early teens again, hanging out at Bob’s Collector’s Den or Big D’s and thumbing the most recent issue of Spider-Man.

3.) Normally I don’t brag on my friends’ photos because most of my friends take excellent pics and if I talked about all the ones I like then I’d never stop writing and this blog would get (more) boring. However, I gotta say something about Eric’s picture of Mandy and Leah. I don’t know those two girls, I’ve never met them at all, but that picture just brings them to life for me. There’s something almost intolerably sweet and sincere and lazy and relaxed and perfect about that shot. I love it.

Off to class for me. You get back to work.

I’ve got fudge!
August 24, 2007, 12:25 pm
Filed under: tidbit

I’ve gotten several comments recently, if you can believe it, about the fact that I haven’t written much lately (hi Paula, hi Wendy, hi everyone else). I feel kind of bad about this. I mean, my trip to Spain gave me things to write about every day. Now that I’m back home there’s very little happening to me that’s fascinating and new.

Well, no, that’s not true at all. There’s a LOT happening to me that’s fascinating and new, and some of it’s above good and some of it’s below bad, and the most of it’s really not web-appropriate material.

I also haven’t been doing much with the camera lately. I still carry it everywhere, I still take pictures of lots of things, I just haven’t felt much like putting any of them online. Since I’ve been back I’ve had two separate weddings to shoot and before now I hadn’t the slightest idea how little I would enjoy sorting out, editing, cropping, correcting, and otherwise preparing so many pictures. Oh man. It is boring beyond description. Yet again I’d like to reiterate that I am not cut out to be a wedding photographer. Probably not any kind of pro photographer at all, actually. I sure do like taking pictures for me and not for other people.

Um, I’m getting ready for school to start back. Did you know that? I bet you did. I think we talked about it last time we were on the phone, you and I. In case you didn’t know I’ve been working on campus all summer. I got so so so used to it being quiet and peaceful and still that I’m a bit upset all these howler monkeys have reappeared. I’m also completely dreading classes starting back on Monday. I don’t even know what classes I’m taking. Doesn’t matter. I have to take them to finish school so I just show up, destroy them with my awesome intellect (not unlike testing your smoke detectors twice a year this would be a good time to fire up the old sarcasm detector and see if it beeps – it may one day save your life) and then move on.

Every day I get more and more antsy to get out of Cookeville and I can’t understand it. I have great friends here, friends that are superior to anything I’ve ever experienced before. I have my family here, I love Tennessee (the land itself) and yet I can’t wait to leave. I don’t even know what the pull is. I justify my feelings by saying that I want a bigger city, I want to be able to buy wine for my dinner and a nice cheese every now and then or maybe encounter a few hip bars and coffee shops and bookstores but …

… but yeah.

My friends and I are all working on figuring out to which major city we should move. All of us. At once. Together.

You coming with?

You can’t win ’em all
August 16, 2007, 7:54 pm
Filed under: tidbit

Tonight dinner was a fail. I don’t know why I’m writing to tell you other than to prove that even I can mess up a sure thing.

I said the other day that I was going to cook some eggplant and I totally meant to last night but events involving lake swimming conspired against me. THEN my “friend” Calamity Jon had to go and bite my eggplant idea and so now I look like the johnny-come-lately except for the fact that his was apparently delicious and mine was simply, to quote someone dear to me, ‘meh’.

Okay, actually I still have some very very thin eggplant slices waiting to be battered and fried up and done with the cane syrup. We’ll see if that works out. The rest of the dinner I basically aped Jon’s recipe except somehow my eggplant came out mushier than I desired, the tomatoes had too much acidity, the basil wasn’t intense enough, and the green bell peppers, while raw and crunchy, were cut into a shape that was difficult to eat if you can dig it. A fail. Uninteresting yet bland with a touch of uncomfortability.

Now I’m off to see if I can salvage the rest. Wish me luck. It’s FRY TIME.


UPDATE: okay, so the fried eggplant turned out okay. Not great, but now I have a better idea how to do it and next time should be an improvement.

squashes and peppers and eggplants oh my
August 14, 2007, 7:33 pm
Filed under: tidbit

I went to Erich Ottem’s wedding this weekend and finally got to meet his new wife, Mary Martin. She’s just as intensely funderful as I expected her to be. The ceremony was touching, the friendship of all the attendees was rich and permeated every facet of our day(s), and much time was spent lounging on quilts on the lawn by the lake, eating roast pig and other delicious comfort foods. It was borderline magical. No, it was magical.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

In food news, I want to give special thanks to Angie for supplying me with some great fresh veggies. I’ve just finished up a dinner that was all her fault. I took a few pictures but my foodphotomojo was not with me tonight, and for that I apologize.

What I made is nothing fancy yet it has satisfied me completely. I diced up 1/2 of a Vidalia onion (that’s a sweet onion for all you yanks) and a clove of garlic and left those to sautee on low heat in some olive oil while I thin-sliced the yellow squash that Angie was kind enough to leave with me. Once I got all that cooked up soft I threw in a pinch of salt, pinch of sugar, and a splash of balsamic vinegar, just barely enough to taste. Off the heat I gave it some Sriracha, black pepper (do I even have to say fresh-ground? I don’t, right?), and finely-chopped mint basil from my basil garden. I think that the reason I couldn’t take any pictures right tonight is I used all my braintivity on the recipe, ’cause MAN did all those flavors ever add up just perfectly. On the side – in case things got a bit hot with the Sriracha – I had a plate of raw green bell peppers, again from Angie. I think if it wouldn’t mess me up beyond repair inside I could live on raw green bell peppers.

My mouth is still singing with the love of this dinner. I would have invited you over but there wasn’t much squash.

Tune in tomorrow when I try to replicate the Spanish recipe of thin-sliced eggplant (yes, from Angie), battered and fried near-crispy and just barely kissed (I’m tired of saying drizzled) with cane syrup. It was hands-down my favorite item in the tapas bars. Mmmmm.

Alright, I’ve work to do that isn’t talking to you, so goodnight!

mish-mash shim-sham
August 7, 2007, 10:51 pm
Filed under: tidbit

Nothing much hot and funderful going on as of late. I’ve been back at work for a week now and it’s the same as before which means pretty much every day involves one incident of laughing ’till my sides hurt. It’s wonderful to work with people who share my differently-oriented sense of humor.

When writing an email to someone right before I left work the other day I wished for an adventure on the way home. I got it in the tiniest possible way. When I was driving down Freeze St. I saw a pair of old person sunglasses right on the yellow line. You know that type of sunglasses, right? The huge ones with no frames, they’re just all solid black plastic, and they’re big enough to fit over your regular glasses. Old people sunglasses.

I should take a picture of them.

Anyway, I whipped my car around in the neatest u-turn known to man and drove up, slowed down, opened the door, and snatched them right up. I closed the door just in time to see some young guy on the sidewalk giving me the thumb-and-pinky-extended hang-ten sign. He was emphatic, he was waggling it like crazy and if ever there was a facial expression that said, “I WANT TO SAY KICKASS IN A PSEUDO-IRONIC WAY BUT YOU CAN’T HEAR ME” he was wearing it.

Alas, the old people sunglasses are a little too small. If you need ’em or if you have an old person of your own let me know.

Today I drove past a tandem bike in a sidewalk sale – only $50. I got excited before I realized that the only person with whom I’ve ever discussed riding a tandem bike isn’t around anymore.

My most recent major accomplishment was the creation of bananacakes. It’s a new thing. A new thing to eat. For those of you not keeping score, I do not create in the kitchen. I am a recipe follower. I can follow any recipe. I believe I can make ANYTHING as long as you give me the recipe. However, if you stuck my kitchen in the middle of Kroger with no recipe books I’d probably end up eating cold cereal. I’m just not a creator.

That’s why it was awesome when I woke up the other morning kind of still dreaming but kind of actively thinking of bananacakes. Then I got up the nerve to make them exactly as my dream presented to me and they were delicious and not only that but they tasted exactly as I imagined.

Not … you know, not that they’re complex but it was still gratifying.

I present to you


This recipe is for two peoples or one really hungry people. You may easily expand the recipe as it is based around the banana measurement, not something else. Basing it around something else would be silly.

1 banana
3 sheets (12 crackers) of cinnamon graham crackers
1/2 tsp lemon juice
couple dashes of cinnamon

also needed: butter, honey

1.) Mash that banana! Mash it good! Okay, I don’t actually mash mine – I throw it in a bowl and attack it with butter knives until it’s into very tiny chunks.
2.) Mix lemon juice over bananas. I don’t know if it keeps them from turning brown but it does give it a little more zing.
3.) Crumble the graham crackes into very tiny bits. You could use a food processor or stick them in a bag and beat them with a leg of lamb or whatever you want. I crumble by hand because I’m not very smart and I like taking too long to do simple tasks.
4.) Mix the graham crackers and the bananas. You’re looking for a vaguely doughy consistency. Not dry, no, but dry enough that you can form a patty, a soft delicious patty. You don’t want the inside to dry out too much while frying.
5.) Mix in a couple dashes of cinnamon. I don’t use a whole lot. I guess you could put a little nutmeg if you were feeling crazy.

ALSO, we agreed that the recipe could use a dash of salt to balance it out. However, I’ve not yet experimented with the salt. Add at your own risk.

ALSO, one of the best desserts I ever had was cayenne caramel toast at the Delachaise in New Orleans. This dessert would support a dash of cayenne pepper very well. Don’t knock the idea until you’ve tried it.

6.) Once you’re all mixed and at the right consistency heat your skillet on medium and melt some butter in there.
7.) One banana divides into two patties very nicely, or three if you’re making tiny ones. Fry in butter on one side until solid and browned, then flip.
8.) When plating I dusted each one with a smidge of cinnamon and then drizzled lightly with honey.
9.) Mmmmmm. Bananacakes.
10.) Seriously.

I’ve gone back to wearing big headphones for music listening. It’s the way to go, I’m telling you. I forget why I ever stopped.

Oh hey speaking of forgetting I forgot to tell you that I finally shot my first wedding this weekend. I had wondered for a long time if wedding photography was something I could do, and by ‘could do’ I mean ‘could stomach doing for money’. I really really enjoyed this weekend’s shoot for one reason: now I know the answer is NO.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a good time there, I think I took some great photos, I like the bride and groom, etc. Later that night, though, after the wedding when I was getting ready to go out with friends I picked up my camera bag and it was just this disgusting heavy mass, this iron weight. I didn’t even want to look at it and that made me sad. Then editing the photos has been a chore – not bad, no, but just not something I want to do with my time. So that’s good! Now I won’t have any question about whether or not saying ‘no’ to a potential wedding gig is the right or wrong idea.

I still have several kinds of photography jobs in my head that I think would give me pleasure, let me exercise my creativity, and not hate my camera at the end of the day. Weddings just aren’t one of them.

Finally, I’ve not done anything interesting today except to pretend to tattoo myself which I can totally recommend as a hobby. You should try it. All the cool kids are doing it.

August 3, 2007, 8:33 am
Filed under: tidbit

“Did Matt call her or did her call Matt?”

@ The Dog House, 8/2/7

August 2, 2007, 9:43 am
Filed under: tidbit

Jared Diamond, in his book The Third Chimpanzee, gave me my first introduction to the concept of the Proto-Indo-European language. Of course I encourage you to find, buy, and read that book or at least look up some articles online. Wikipedia has some good ones [citation needed]. The easiest short version of today’s theme is that there are some words that share common roots across multiple languages, like the numbers, words for certain animals, etc.

Bat is not one of those words.

I know you all have been dying to hear how my bat words adventure worked out. In case you have forgotten (read: I know you have forgotten) I found myself fascinated by the difference in the English word for bat (bat) and the Spanish word for bat (murciélago). These are obviously not the same. I began to wonder just how different the name was across multiple languages, so I started asking classmates and random students how to write bat in their language. This is the final list, submitted for your approval. I make NO CLAIMS to the accuracy of these translations. I’m pretty sure the Hungarian is right on as I had it confirmed by more than one person. The Turkish? That could say ‘dog trolley’ for all I know, I didn’t look it up. There may even be bad words down there, gasp. That was part of the fun of it, I suppose. This was not science, this was an excuse for social interaction with strangers.

I only wish I could have gotten more. At least I got them from people that actually spoke these languages.

murci̩lago РSpanish
fladdermus – Swedish
vleermuis – Dutch
chauvesouris – French
yarasa – Turkish
denev̩r РHungarian
pipistrello – Italian
fledermaus – German
leÄ‘urblaka – Icelandic
netopýr – Czechoslovakian
летучая мышь – Russian
[koumori] – Japanese
sikspārnis – Latvian

Obviously Dutch, Swedish, and German have got some little thing going on. I think it’s a conspiracy. I also had many people confirm that the literal translation was ‘flying mouse’ which … you know, I’ve never looked at a bat and thought, “Oh, I see, a mouse with wings.” It’s a bit different than that in my mind.

I think I’m going to stick with BAT.


*twiddles thumbs*
August 1, 2007, 7:44 pm
Filed under: tidbit

I rather don’t know what to do now.

I wrote and wrote and wrote every day or thereabouts while in Spain because you were all listening, and some of you – HI ANGIE! – actively encouraged more writing.

Now that I’m home I haven’t anything fascinating to write about yet I still feel in the habit of wanting to write. I’ve got a car with no destination and an empty tank of gas.

Too many of my analogies involve cars. Maybe I shouldn’t use so many analogies. I’ll try … um … metaphor.

Q: What’s a metaphor?
A: For sheep to graze in.

If any of you didn’t pass out from shock after receiving such a horrible joke I’m glad you’re still with us. For those of you just now tuning in you narrowly avoided a horrible fate.

I’m rather content right now because I just made a huge mess of my kitchen and then cleaned it all up. That means I had the triple satisfaction of cooking, eating, and (after cleaning which is not in itself a satisfaction-giving task) enjoying my kitchen being clean again.

You know, since my return a lot of people have specifically mentioned the food I talked about. I thought maybe I was overdoing it, but since it seems to be the first thing that anyone brings up I guess I wasn’t wrong to write so much about it. Since it’s not wrong, and baby does it ever feel so right, I’ll make a few more words right now. I’m done with the real writing, those of you who don’t read the food stuff. You can close your browser now.

Last night when I went grocery shopping I wasn’t in the mood for meat, so I hung out in the produce section for a while trying to figure out just what was good to eat. That’s why tonight I ended up thin-slicing some nice yellow potatoes (just say no to big white starchy flavorless potatoes! go find something tastier!) and frying them up in olive oil with a bit of dried basil and cumin. While those were cooking I cut some strips of poblano pepper and diced up a clove of garlic and lightly sauteed them in a separate skillet. Once cooked and drained the potatoes were salted – an action I typically avoid but what the hell if it’s fried it’s not good for you anyway right? – and peppered. I threw those three things ((what is) taters, garlic, pepper) all together and they were fantastic.

Salad was a roma tomato and half of a cucumber both cut into little fork chunks and splashed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and one grind from the pepper mill.

I missed fresh-ground black pepper a lot while in Spain. It goes on almost all of my food.

Oh but that wasn’t enough to kill the kitchen, no, that just got everything greasy. The rest of the kitchen wreck was from the preparation of a chocolate cherry cake. You remember the recipe, right? You have it memorized?


Oh, well here it is again. Go make this. Right now. You will love me (and therefore my mom, who gave me the recipe) forever. I have posted this before in another place but I don’t feel like linking, I feel like cutting and pasting. Mom’s words:

Chocolate Cherry Cake:

1 cake mix, choc. or fudge generic is okay
1 can cherry pie filling (usually found in baking section somewhere)
1 tsp. almond extract (KEY INGRED.)
2 beaten eggs.

Break eggs into bowl, beat with fork, then add the cake mix and the pie
filling. It will look too dry, but don’t worry about it. Stir in almond
flavoring just before you pour it into a greased 9 x 13 pan. Bake @ 350 for 35 – 40 min. You will know it’s done when the edges just barely start to pull away from the pan. Don’t overbake–will seem a little soft in the middle.

Put these things in a saucepan turned on very low so they will start to melt together.
1 cup sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup milk
(and later you will add 6 oz choc. chips and
1/2 tsp almond flavoring)

When you take the cake out of the oven, turn the saucepan up to “high” and stir the stuff constantly until it boils. Boil and stir for one minute, then turn off the burner. Put in the choc. chips and stir FAST until they are all melted and it looks smooth. Then put in the almond flavor, give a last stir and pour over the hot cake. Rubber spatula will get all the choc. out of the saucepan.

IMPORTANT: unlike most cakes where you mess with the icing until it looks right, you just pour this one on covering all the bare spots and leave it alone. Because it is a liquid that is going to get a hard shell as soon as it is exposed to air, it will get a shiny crust that will crinkle if you start to use a spatula on it. Just experiment with it–you can’t make a mistake ’cause it’s chocolate and people will eat it even if you have to scrape it out and put it into pudding bowls!

And that’s that. Now … now to go cry about the fact that the cake is a gift and I can’t eat any.

alternate ending: