Perhaps it is a personal penchant for irony-leavened paradox that has me pen a post titled 2014 that turns out to be more a look backwards. The dash of irony comes from the explicit mention of not being one who spends much time looking back!
But, also as mentioned, there is a time and place for most things, and January is a more ideal place for that than you may realize. The month is named after the roman god, Janus, god of beginnings and transitions, who has both a backward- and forward-looking face. The turning of the year is the time and place for both.
So here is a bit more looking back and looking forward.
One of my favorite sayings is: “Spare me the labor pains. Show me the baby!” It’s a favorite saying because it reflects a point of view I hold dear (and because it’s such a clever simile). I’m just not that interested in hearing how you made the sausage; I just wanna eat the sausage!
There are times when “How It’s Made” is fascinating to me, but when I’m hungry to eat sausage a tutorial on how it’s made isn’t very savory.
I skip those intro parts in tutorials that tell me what they’re about to tell me. A standard rule in teaching says you should follow a three-step protocol:
- Say what you’ll cover,
- Actually cover it,
- Review what you covered.
I have never understood the value of that first step, and it bores me cross-eyed! I don’t mind the review at the end, but it’s really only the material that interests me.
As such I’m not one for “meta-posts.” Talking about what I intend to talk about, or describing the difficulty in talking about it, just isn’t my thing. On the other hand, rambling on and on about stuff totally is, so there’s a push-pull thing going on that’s making this post very hard to write.
I think I’m just going to bounce around randomly from topic to topic today. There is a miscellany of minor matters muttering around my mind. Here’s a litter of tiny puppies:
Shark Weak! What happened there? I thought it was a pretty good post, but it’s had only four views since I published it on December 16th. Is the shark picture too scary or something? I thought sharks were popular (which was part of the point of the post). Everyone go read that post right now, damn it! I promise it contains no actual sharks. 🙂
I have an update on Alphonso the Toast-R-Oven (I can call him Al). As you’ll recall, Al came with rather simplistic instructions complete with hat and slippery road icons. The thing is, when told to toast, Al was giving me cooked bread! You might think that sounds like it would be toast, but the truth is that cooked bread and toast really are two different things (toast is crunchier, for one thing).
It turns out I have to mess with Al’s mind a little by setting one dial to “toast” and the other to “slippery road” (or perhaps it means “broil”). Now that I’ve turned him into a schizophrenic, he’s been making wonderful toast, and we’ve been quite happy together. (Well, I’m happy. Al doesn’t say much, but he looks happy.)
On the topic of tasty, I’ve been willfully indulging this Chillaxmas in my favorite Simple Tastes. Al made breakfast bagels during the 12 Days, and I’ve cooked up several batches of my Brown Sugar Fudge. (Brown sugar crack, more like!)
The recipe I gave in the original article was a bit sketchy, because I hadn’t made the stuff in a while, and I’m strictly a from memory, make it up as you go cook (to the extent you could call me a “cook” at all). As my fifth batch pushes me towards major tooth decay, probable diabetes and imminent sugar coma, I can be more detailed now.
I didn’t mention that I throw in some salt as I melt the butter. I pour some into my palm until it looks right; I’m guessing about two tablespoons max. I melt somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 stick of butter, toss in the salt and then dump in a bunch of dark brown sugar (somewhere in the 1/3 to 1/2 pound range, I’d guess). The butter isn’t usually enough to wet the sugar, so I will add some milk, too.
The object is a thick slurry you bring to a careful boil. I start slowly reducing the heat as soon as I get a boil, and stir constantly for several minutes. You’re looking for the sugar crystals to melt and dissolve (I realize actual cooks are likely laughing their asses off at my pathetic attempt to describe this).
Then I turn off the heat and dump in a bunch of powdered sugar, at least as much as of the brown and usually more, up to twice as much. The more you add, the lighter (in flavor and color) will be the final result. I also throw in some real vanilla, because I just really love vanilla.
Stir the crap out of it constantly or it will set up. You want a fairly thick consistency. As it cools, it will start to harden, so you want to pour it out onto a tin foil or cookie sheet before it does! Add more milk if necessary. Done right, the stuff just melts in your mouth with an explosion of dark sugar deliciousness.
[Ha! Just did it again. When I went on that high school Europe trip, I wrote a journal. Upon reading it, many people commented on how detailed it was with regard to all the foods I tried during that trip. Good food is certainly one of my favorite things in life! A friend once commented (and she would know) that I ate like I fucked: with great gusto and thorough enjoyment.]
In other news, while WordPress seems to have given me the power to bring on the Winter, it did not give me any power to make it go away. It’s not been snowing on my blog since the 4th, but as you can see, outside Winter remains. If there’s some special checkbox I should click, someone let me know, okay?
The bitter cold snap we’ve all endured has caused Winter to wear out its welcome pretty early. I mean, seriously, 21 degrees below zero? Are you kidding me?! I shudder to think what my heating bill will be! (Still, the Winter is kinda pretty.)
Last year, of course, is also the year I retired from Corporate America. I couldn’t be happier about that part. It’s been six months now, and my emotional mood is clearly healthier than it’s been in a long while. I shrug at things that used to set me off. I’ve even experienced some major epiphanies regarding myself now that I’ve had time to slow down and think. I may (or possibly may not) tell you about them down the road.
I’ve also been doing a lot of reading. (Also a lot of slow reading, which looks very much like napping on the couch, but in fact is actually very, very slow reading.) Most recently the latest Sue Grafton (“V”). I always had kind of a thing for Kinsey Millhone. (Likewise for Sara Paretsky‘s V.I. Warshawski.) Grafton is kind of my “MGD” — a bit bland and mainstream and about as low as I go. (You will never see me drink a Coors or Bud. I’ll drink water instead.)
I haven’t written much about detective and mystery fiction. I don’t love it as much as science fiction, but it is my second favorite. I’ve been considering a “Mystery Mondays” series of posts as companion to the “Science Fiction Saturday” posts. Topic for the future.
Also for the future, I picked up the ninth, and final, season of The Office. I thought it would be a good time to watch the entire series, which I’ve now done. That will definitely be a future post (if I can manage to get to it before my notes lose their meaning — that’s already happened with a couple of book reviews I wanted to post).
For now I’ll just say that this time I found a charm and delight to Michael that I’d been unable to access before (I mostly found him irritating or even enraging — this time I got quite fond of him). And as far as I’m concerned the Andy Bernard character has not one single redeeming quality. I cheer his misfortune. In fact, safe to say I hate the character; he’s the same utterly self-involved, incredibly ignorant and thoughtless emotional three-year-old as Michael, but with none of his charm or ability. (I find I’m not real big on Ed Helms, either, although he seems a good vocalist.)