29 March 2008

One more week

Spring Break is just around the corner. This semester is usually easier than the fall one because of the frequency of breaks: 6 weeks on, 1 week off, 6 weeks on, 1 week off, 6 weeks on, summer vacation. The fall is 6 weeks to Labor day, then the Thanksgiving stretch, then the short sprint to Christmas. It's very stressful in the fall. Oddly enough, I get more accomplished with my students in the fall. It's not the frequent breaks in the spring that are the problem, it's the interruptions with standardized testing and registration that screw up the flow of content in my courses. It's hard to keep pace the way I'd like when one member of a group or another is missing from class. Oh well.

25 March 2008

4th Monday @ Barnes & Noble

Yesterday evening made my third appearance at the local Barnes & Noble poetry "slam." There were only four or five people to read. I fell from second place scores to penultimate disgrace. Here are my two "morceaux":

Comestible conversation

Flecks of indignation pepper speech.
Kernels of sarcasm direct conversation waste.
The thrown away spoken word becomes moldering vegetable peel.

Words need growth and time to age and ripen, to reach maturity, to arrive on point, to be apropos or not at all.

Much like beer, wine, cheese or chocolate, words require proper preparation and degustation.

When carefully handcrafted, the well chosen "bon mot" has savor, balance, delicacy and weight.

The empty calories of slander and vulgarity and the saucy satisfaction of the quick retort sate only temporarily but are the fast food followed by guilt and more hunger, leaving the unpalatable aftertaste of wanted wit and questionable character.

Plagiarism becomes the store-bought pie that "tastes just like mom's" but its obvious occlusion of source and recipe disgruntles the guest and makes the dish indigestible.

Relax to dine slowly on words to take pleasure in succulent syllables that in a perfect moment give compliment to comestible conversation.

Indefinite articles

a toothbrush with blue and white bristles dropped beside a speed bump

a napkin from Arby's coated in decomposing grease turning it translucent

a losing lottery ticket from a scratch game, instant fun discarded beneath an azalea

a gold-tipped cigarette butt with maybe 30 seconds of tobacco left to smoke

a brown beer bottle, glass shards blending into pine straw

a plastic blue cap from a long lost bottle of spring water

a rubber ball for playing catch, soft molded to resemble a Major League hardball

a Coke can suspended in a shrub like a forgotten Christmas ornament dangling in early spring evergreen

a jumbo paper clip unfolded like a key or tool tossed to the ground after momentary use

a flattened watch battery deceptively reflective like an abandoned nickel

a silver label from a bottle of vodka, crushed on the pavement in an empty parking space

15 March 2008

Photo browsing

Sometimes I click through my hard drive and stumble across photos I took some time before, uploaded but not examined. This one of the Boise River near where John was staying while working in Mountain Home is one of those that I think is just pretty. The brown river stones, green-black water, reflected sunlight, wispy clouds, blue-streaked sky, the last green fading from trees--all of it pointed to the fast approaching high desert autumn. It was early October 2007, and I had gone to see John for a weekend visit. While he worked Saturday, I strolled the river walk and took photos throughout the time. It is beautiful country there. Who knows; he might get another run there if they expand the power plant at Mountain Home again. (BTW: it looks like Siemens is going to take on John through one of their primary outsourcing firms for a year-long job in Long Island, NY. At least we'll be in the same time zone, and AirTran is more affordable from to New York than to Idaho.)

13 March 2008

Sedentary behaviors no help to belly

Oh the humanity! Just when you think you've made it past Valentine's Day there's yet another holiday candy explosion: a year with an early Easter! Add your son's birthday cake, and too many late nights to bed coupled with yoga-less mornings, and well, the belly doth expand. YIKES! There is no one to blame but myself, however. I will self-motivate before I need a crane and reinforced packing straps to move. More walks, routine yoga, weights and ab work... slowly but sure, I can get my body a little bit more fit.

08 March 2008

Early birthday cake

Page's chocolate cake

Tuesday, my son will have completed 14 years on this Earth. He asked for a chocolate cake with chocolate icing for the party we had today to celebrate while he is with me this weekend. I was happy to oblige. At least when it comes to sweets, he and I are often on the same page. The recipe was very much like the one I posted for the chocoberry cupcakes except for the following substitutions:

  • 1 ½ cups white cake flour
  • 1 ½ cups whole grain all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons of black cocoa
  • 6 ounces vanilla soy yogurt
  • 8 ounces total of cold black coffee and plain soy milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

To get the height I wanted, I used three 8" round dark cake pans that I first greased with shortening and then lined with rounds of baking parchment. I baked the cakes all at once at 350°F for 23 minutes. Luck was with me, as they were perfect. After about 15 minutes of cooling in the pans on wire racks, I turned them out, removed parchment and allowed them to cool completely, several hours actually.

For the icing, I used ½ cup kosher margarine, ¼ cup shortening, 1 ½ lbs. 10X confectioner's sugar, 3 squares unsweetened Baker's chocolate (melted), and several tablespoons of soy "cream" blended on medium-low speed until very creamy and spreadable.

sliced cake

The three layers stay positioned nicely if you insert three toothpicks each time you stack a layer while icing. They hold the cake in place easily, but do warn those about to enjoy so that no one injures his or her mouth (see the photo). Finishing off my son's wish for total chocolate enjoyment, I topped it with chocolate jimmies. Serving it with vanilla ice cream cuts some of the rich flavor for those with less of a sweet tooth (John and I had soy ice cream, but the kids had Breyer's All Natural).

For a little fun, I positioned my son's 14 candles à la romaine: XIV. He got a kick out of it. Unfortunately, he has a bit of a cold, so I had to blow out the candles for him. He should still get his wish!

A light dusting

This morning at 6:30 as I took Beau for his morning walk, it began to snow here in Newnan, GA. Now three hours later, there's a thin accumulation among the trees, but grass and concrete seem to stay free of any snow. It's cold and beautiful. Tall thin pines sway outside my window. I'll warm the apartment in a few minutes with the heat of the oven to bake a chocolate cake for my son's birthday celebration later today. Snow and chocolate cake--I think that's a perfect combination!

06 March 2008

Finally, the prodigal homo returns

He arrived Tuesday night, and it was such a wonderful treat for him to have come home. Eight months of separation, and I was near to bonkers. After little more than 24 hours with him, and I shan't go into detail, I felt so much better about getting out of bed, going to work, teaching students, having a department meeting, grading papers, etc., etc., etc. My students even inquired as to what had come over me and to why I was in such a good mood. With nothing more than an impish broad smile, I went on with my lesson.

He'll have a few days at home before moving on the the next job. With hope, he'll soon hear something from Siemens, and that could translate into a much more convenient work schedule with better benefits and more time home. John should know more after a phone call tomorrow. All I can do is pray, I suppose.

Beau is one ecstatic puppy. The man who rescued him from the pound has returned. John is the embodiment of goodness for that dog. I, however, am nothing more than the food, bath, vet and poop guy, I guess. At least my man is more grateful that the dog!

01 March 2008


Today has been a busy day. Awake at 7, I showered and then walked the dog. By 8, I was en route in my little Hyundai to the service station for an oil change with only a short stop at Starbucks for coffee and a croissant. While waiting, I worked on a translation for IHG, a set of data sheets to examine hiring practices in their Quebec hotels. Once back home, I set again to the translation, tweaking my brain, dictionaries and Internet resources trying to find a good translation for kitchen steward or barback. [Note: The challenge of a translation is to end up with language that actually makes sense and fits the idiom of the target reader. Sooner or later I have to find a good hotel/restaurant dictionary that isn't OUT OF PRINT! Whenever I have a little cash to buy one, I can't seem to find one. In the meantime, my business dictionary and unabridged dictionary seem to serve me well.]

Late in the morning, my children arrived from a night spent with their grandparents and a church pancake breakfast--Bisquick according to my kids with "blech!" after that. The dog was practically rabid with joy for them, leaping and barking crazily as he drooled and slobbered greetings to them. When finally Beau settled enough to get a leash on his collar, they escorted him outside to relieve himself before he could pee on the floor. As I continued my linguistic labors, the kids and dog sat on my bed and watched "Singin' in the Rain" on TCM. Although we've all seen the movie before, we enjoyed seeing the clever dance numbers with Donald O'Connor, Gene Kelly's brilliant and lovely solo, and the humorous irony of Debbie Reynolds' careful lip movements to the dubbed love song.

By 5 PM I had the first fill draft of the translation completed. I followed that with a bath for Beau which he pretends to hate, but afterward, he prances about the apartment, glossy and shining. For dinner I crafted an Italian-Asian fusion stir fry that tasted better than I might even have intended and satisfied cravings for comfort and Chinese. In place of dessert, we played a round of Clue. My daughter always seems to suggest rooms, weapons and suspects over and over without making any deductions toward victory. My son prematurely accuses, and then he loses. Even while I was distracted by the sounds of Miley Cyrus coming from iTunes, I managed a win. The evening came to a close with our watching "For Your Consideration" on of the premium movie channels. It was funny and poignant, especially the "It's French!" part considering this year's Oscar ceremony.

Now the children and dog sleep. I await a call from my traveling man while I watch "300" (for the abs if not the acting). Good night!