Monday, October 29, 2007

Question of the week

This week I started my new job at the very charming, brand-spanking new Fat Baxter's on Munjoy Hill. The food is good, people are excited, and there are jars of penny candy behind the counter.

So, a group of little boys (my favorite of whom is Dominican and has the biggest smile ever) come in several times on opening day with their pockets full of change to buy penny candy. By the third time, only one has any money left. "How many Swedish Fish can I get with this much?" And he puts 17 cents on the counter. Nice work cleaning out the couch cushions.

The answer was 5.

I'm quite charmed.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

OK, OK, I'll smile

Having a hard time finding time to do anything on the internet than read all the insane emails I've received lately regarding the middle school birth control thing.

Out of necessity, things that make me smile:
1. Those people around town that always have a smile for you. Currently I am enjoying smiles from Josh Loring and very cheery emails from the very cute Sena Phen and Katie Feltman (who was voted best smile in our class in college).
2. It smells like fall and the leaves are making a lovely crunching sound under my feet.
3. I watched the sunrise over Casco Bay this morning and remembered why I live in the best city in the world.
4. Jon was really hyper and cute last night and I am a very lucky girl. (Sorry, but it's true.)
5. I got the following email from someone: " From Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own: 'It's supposed to be hard! If it wasn't hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.' You have made me very proud to live here."
6. Friends are the best. Especially when they call you just to say hi from the Caribbean!
7. Iron and Wine. Sam Beam has the vocal equivalent of a warm fuzzy blanket, a fireplace, and a cup of hot cocoa.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I absolutely love old cemeteries. Ever since I was a young girl, I looked forward to quiet, peaceful walks in a sea of statues and knobby trees. Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville is one of the most breath-taking places in the whole city. There are hundreds of species of trees in the arboretum, including swamp cedar that I called "Bell-bottom trees" when I was little. Cave Hill is home to such famous people as John Keats' brother George, Patty Smith Hill (who wrote "Happy Birthay"), famous generals, and--yes-- Colonel Sanders (who, much to the disappointment of many tourists, does not have a chicken or a bucket for a gravestone).

If you ever travel to Louisville, you must make a stop to see the Satterwhite Temple and to feed the ducks, turkeys, geese, and swans, and check out the koi and stripers in the ponds.

I love the ancient names, the sad little cherubs, the trees growing through the gravestones, and the bright colored lichens on crumbling granite gravestones that are so old that you can barely see the words. I love the incomplete stories the stones evoke, time and time again, telling of love ones remembered.

I have found none to rival Cave Hill, mostly because it was the place of my childhood, but I am sure we all have such attachments.

Portland has a few cool cemeteries:
-The Eastern Cemetery has some awesome Gothic stones in the oldest section. You can get in by the secret hole in the fence or by stopping by the book store across the street for the key. Rumor has it that the worst criminals were buried under the roads as one last "F You." The oldest known stone is dated 1717.

-Bring binoculars to Evergreen Cemetery, which is a big stop for migrating birds, especially warblers. Apparently they have a "problem" with coyotes eating the ducks. (Cause the happenings of nature are so problematic.) If you go another time, you can look for tadpoles, turtles, and gigantic snails in the pond. One spring we spotted a black-crowned night heron and a hummingbird sitting in her nest.

Here are my favorite cemetery names:
-Mehetable Coolbroth (Western Cemetery in Portland. There is also a Mehetable in Evergreen. Apparently this was a woman's name. FYI, this grave is a "hole" in the Western Cemetary Disc Golf Course.)
- Hester Sylvester (Upper Mast Landing Rd, Freeport)
-Anger Prout (Upper Mast Landing Rd, Freeport)
-Fitzhugh McGrew (Evergreen, Portland.) Wonder if he is related to Quickdraw McGraw?

Best epitaphs:
-"Jesus is mine." (Evergreen)
"Here moulders the body..."
and my favorite ever, "...His Radiant Wife, aged 84" (Prospect Hill, Brattleboro VT)

I hope when I am 84 someone would still describe me as radiant.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

10 things i want

1. A job that I want to stay at for years and can grow in and with a boss that I love.
2. Some silverware that doesn't have plastic blue handles.
3. An airbrushed t-shirt with the word "Tooken" on it.
4. A crock pot.
5. A doctor who knows my name without looking at a chart. Oh, OK, I would settle for just health care.
6. One more day of 65 degree weather so I can jump in the ocean one more time.
7. A mutt. (Part German Shepherd, part lab, maybe some Rottweiler?) Actually, a Mutt just like Hershey on Vesper St.
8. A Halloween costume idea.
9. Hot dance skillz.
10. Cheap plane tickets home for Christmas.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

To Taste the Water

So I finally read my brother's book, and it is really good! You should check it outas well. It as listed #2 on Carmichael's Bookstore's top 10 favorites a couple of weeks ago.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Josh Ritter @ SPACE

Went to SPACE last night to see the sold-out Josh Ritter show. Here's what I loved about it:
-the age range, from middle-aged fans to 18 year olds, and the fact that most of them were not familiar faces.
-How much fun is it to watch someone with that much energy? Maybe he was baked, I don't know, but he smiled from ear to ear almost all night, and hopped little hops around all over the stage, both during the show and in transit. Kinda like a leprechaun.
-Who kicks off their tour in Portland?
-Nice mix of solo and full band.
-I love to see performers that actually dress up for shows.
-A great group bow, and a great encore with 3 or 4 songs.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

6 things seen on the East Side

1. Is that Jake Gyllenhall's face glued to the back of a stop sign on Vesper and Moody?
2. Councilor Kevin Donoghue riding his bike up Munjoy Hill while talking on a cell phone.
3. Partial pineapple and pair of pants (Fore St. at Munjoy South.)

4. Dude in SUV yelling and cussing out his window at me to get off my ----in cell phone . Apparently he did not want to stop for me in the crosswalk at Fore and Exchange and thought my talking would be a good scapegoat.
5. Lovely red poppies in the Garden in Progress at the St. Lawrence Arts and Community Center.
6. Dead, smooshed worm in the shape of a heart on the Prom.
7. Me working on my computer in my car at the corner of Vesper and the Prom because we can no longer get online in my apt! :(

flakiness is next to Godliness

Yeah, I'm gonna brag: I won first place in an apple pie competition. Specifically, they said, for the crust. I don't think a pie is worth eating unless the crust is homemade and flaky.

So, once upon a time, I wanted to impress a boy. He was Quebecois, and I thought I would woo him with my southern charm by making my favorite dessert, Kentucky Derby Pie. (Now, this name is copyrighted, but I just don't believe in copyrighting a name as common as Kentucky Derby Pie, especially by a company who cares not about their crust.) You might find the recipe on the web under Kentucky Chocolate Pie, Horse Race Pie, or my favorite for silliness: First Saturday of May Pie. (I kid you not!) (You also will probably find it here some day.)

Anyway, I called my friend's mom who was a baker, and who I'd known for years, as she was a regular at the lovely and fantastic Paul's Fruit Market in Louisville's Chenoweth Square, where I'd worked for 7 years. She did not have a clue who I was. GREAT. Regardless, she shared with me her secrets and they have never failed me. Weirdo Canuck was impressed, award was won, and Portlanders anxiously await the first Sat. of May each year so that they, too, can have a piece of my pie.

Mama Siefert's suggestions: take any basic flaky pie crust recipe (I use Joy of Cooking, and I really have not memorized it yet after all these years) and add extra fat and extra water. Simple, non? She says she only uses Gold Medal Flour and Crisco. I use King Arthur Unbleached flour. As far as fat goes, here's the thing: vegetable shortening is very, very bad for you. Very bad. Butter is not so easy to work with and the results aren't as nice. Lard is out, as I am a vegetarian, much to the galette maker's dismay. I found some non-hydrogenated shortening at Wild Oats that works reasonably well for eating at home, and is much, much better for you (not that any of it is good for you!) than Crisco. However, if you want to win an award or a non-health-nut's heart, use the bad stuff.

So, for using extra fat: I use about 2 more rounded tablespoons? And really, I about double the water. (Sometimes even more!) And forget pastry blenders, two knives will do a much better job, and they are to clean. And don't touch it a second more than you need to, as the more you touch it, the less flaky it becomes.

I bought some pie crust guards, and those are nice to keep things from burning. And for the love of pie, please never use anything but a glass pie plate, the thicker the better. (Metal pie plates reflect the heat more and lead to a soggy crust.) I buy them at the Salvation Army so that if I accidentally leave one somewhere, I don't have to worry.

And one more word: pies are not for dieters. Do yourself a favor and don't try to make a low-fat pie. Either eat the good stuff and work out twice as long (isn't it worth it?) or choose another low fat dessert. Because eating a pie without a nice, flaky crust s like listening to an orchestra but only hearing the brass.

Monday, October 1, 2007

My beautiful goldfish, Mabel (picture taken by Maggie Carey). She is 8 human years, which is apparently equal to 123 goldfish years, according to United States Patent 5023850, "Clock for keeping time at a rate other than human time"

10 different flavors

1. My iron skillet is my favorite thing I own.
2. Approximately 53 "secret crushes" have tried to reach me through my yahoo bulk mail folder.
3. Jon and I picked apples at his parents' house yesterday and I am going to be canning some applesauce for the first time in several years.
4. Last night was the first night we slept with all the windows closed.
5. It's amazing how you can read the entire job section of the Maine Sunday Telegram and not see one that you will apply for.
6. I am going to make a quilt this winter inspired by this painting by Will Barnet:

7. On my desk is a Frisch's Big Boy coin bank with money from France, Cuba, Belize, Ireland, and Japan. I have only been to one of those places.
8. Some day I am going to own a tug boat company (run off biodiesel.)
9. I think I am not going to give up on music after all. Not just yet.
10. Sometimes I don't really like change (ahem, Iron and Wine, Local 188.)