Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Before you ask: I don't know whether I got the job at the Historical Society yet. It's been nearly two weeks since the interview, though, and they said they wanted to hire someone as soon as it isn't looking good. I left a message on the interviewer's voicemail asking what's up, though. So unless he's on vacation or something, I should know soon.

"Hey!" you might interject, "you should get off the Internet so he can call back! Since you have just the one phone line and all."

This week's new and special thing is that this is no longer a problem! I've finally joined the 21st century and left ten years of dial-up behind me by acquiring high-speed internet access. Yay me! The modem comes with a set of filters you put on your phone jacks, so you can get/make calls while you're online. I don't know why I didn't do this sooner: everything loads faster, and I don't have that sinking feeling anymore when someone e-mails me a link to a YouTube video or something: oh no, it'll take half-an-hour to download, do I really want to spend the time to view this? Ironically, the only page I've found that's still slow is the main Blogger site. Perhaps they're currently having problems.

I'm on Day 3 of unemployment, and just as in the past when I've left a job for whatever reason, the honeymoon feeling still prevails. Towards the end of the week, or maybe when I'm staring next week in the face, having no work to fill my days will start to lose its glister. (Glister: either a rock band from Sydney, Australia, or an Indian toothpaste. Or a word for "glitter" derived from Middle Dutch "glinsteren".)

In the meantime I'm enjoying it. This week I haven't accomplished much, besides setting up the high-speed access and playing with it. I did get a boatload of laundry done, a couple of walks taken, and a bunch of reading (currently on Richard Dawkins' A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love, which is not light reading, but at least comes in little essay-chunks so you can rest and ponder between them). I've also done some general cleaning, and garb maintenance that needed to be done after a long summer of eventing.

One yucky thing: I dried my linen sideless surcoat in the dryer without thinking, and now I'm worried that it's shrunk enough to be shorter than the underdresses I normally wear with it. When will I ever learn to ALWAYS drip-dry linen garb? I pre-shrink the fabric, of course, but that doesn't always take all the shrink out of it. At least I was smart enough to drip-dry the new under- and overdress I made right before Pennsic. I hemmed the overdress a bit too short anyway, and cut off the excess fabric, so if it shrank, I'd be out of luck. I'd have to give it to someone shorter than me...if I could find anyone!

Last weekend I drove 7 hours each way to Vermillion, SD, where Cecil's Siege and Coronation were taking place. I was never so glad NOT to have camped in my life. Friday night it poured rain (and blew rain); the whole weekend was windy enough that a lot of tents perished even during times when it wasn't raining. I arrived Friday night and went straight to the motel (only getting lost once!), where I blinked at the rain through my window and congratulated myself on not deciding to camp.

Saturday was lovely, though: between about 65 and 75, windy, sunny, and the site made it twice as nice, with its lovely hilltop farm setting. The site owner, a SCAdian, has put a lot of SCA-friendly amenities there, to make it a good event site: pit toilets, an open-walled hay barn for covered activities, and a long wooden fort/castle facade with elevated viewing galleries, doorways decorated with Northshield heraldry (through which King Lars and Queen Mary rode out on horses for Their last court), and lots of places for banners/flags. Court was held in the field in front of the fort--very picturesque.

For those who have heard about the "Moo...BOOM" festivities, here is a video. Yes, Her Majesty blew up a (paper-mache) cow. Yes, the film crew from the Discovery Channel, which was there to film a segment on "Extreme Parenting" about Tarrach and Fina and their sons (!), was made aware--multiple times--that we do not normally spend very much time blowing up paper-mache items in the SCA...!

Bardic was interesting: the only light on site was the interior lighting inside the hay barn, and we were still worried the rain would return, so that's where we did bardic. That's also where most people hung out and socialized. So no matter what we did, we were competing with an ongoing source of noise. We were, however, sort of the focal point of the crowd in the building, so that individuals would wander by, sit down for a few minutes, maybe perform, then feel free to wander around the barn. Some people joined the circle because their friends were sitting down for a moment, then stayed all evening. It made for a bardic circle that was more integrated into the social aspects of the event than usual. But it did not favor quiet pieces, which was too bad.

This week: obviously, much staying-at-home-and-relaxing time (part of the honeymoon, you see), and then Friday night begins Rosh Hashanah. I'm singing in the Temple Choir, as usual. I really would not want to do High Holyday services without singing in the choir. It may be selfish and areligious of me, but services are not very interesting to me.

Pondering making another granita. I got this book on granitas from the public library last week. It has lots of fruit, veggie, and chocolate/coffee ideas. But I am tempted to simply make the same one I made last time (see top of last entry, below). It was that good, and I have the ingredients on hand.

Monday, September 11, 2006
Iced Coffee Granita (tweaked from a recipe found here):

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup strong, fresh coffee (decaf is fine if you can't do caffeine)
  • another 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup milk, cream, or half-and-half (I used whipping cream; in these small servings, I would advise not worrying too much about fat or calories)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

1. Heat 1 cup water with sugar over medium heat until sugar dissolves; refrigerate mixture until cool.
2. Combine mixture with coffee, cold water, milk (or whatever), and vanilla, and mix well with spoon.
3. Pour into freezer-safe flat container, such as a metal pan--9x13x2, or whatever you have, but it should be relatively shallow for optimal freezing time
4. Freeze, peeking in every 30 to 40 minutes to stir thoroughly so icy parts break up, first with a spatula and then, after you have forgotten for several hours, it will be frozen enough to scrape with the tines of a fork, and that's when the magic happens: it becomes granita!

This actually makes quite a lot, enough for a sizeable dinner party as long as no one wants a huge soup bowl full. I used cinnamon-hazelnut flavored coffee and added some cinnamon as an accent. This recipe could be mocha-ized without much to-do.

What I LOVE about this recipe is the moment when you go back when you've forgotten about the granita for several hours when you were supposed to be stirring it, or perhaps even overnight (like I did), and you look at the hardened mush doubtfully, and then attack it with the fork, and when you're about 1/3 of the way through it starts to behave like brown sugar. This is the truth, I mean it: just like brown sugar, when it's fresh and the grains seem to move all on their own, dryly, at this very odd slow pace so you're not certain they're moving at all, but they are.

And then you stick a spoon into the pile of softly moving ice grains and put it in your mouth, and suddenly every craving you ever had for something icy and sweet and snowy is satisfied, and then some.

Okay, some of that is hyperbole, but only a very small percentage. Like, for example, the satisfaction part: I'm hungry for it again, and I've had three servings today.

Readers, I am still alive, and (as you have read) still cooking. For whatever reason I haven't felt like cookies recently. I've made three casseroles in the last few weeks (including two from A Cup of comfort cookbook by Jay Weinstein and Colleen Sell, which I picked up on a whim and which I definitely recommend, though I'm not at all familiar with the Cup of Comfort book series of which it is a part). And the granita, of course.

Pennsic: this may be the first Pennsic about which I am not writing an extensive reaction/writeup/play-by-play. Of course it's natural that I wouldn't feel like it now, nearly a month later, but honestly, I didn't feel like it then either, or I would have done it.

Pennsic was good. It went amazingly quickly. It was very bardic. I discovered that my "bad Pennsic day" feelings, the ones that Wyndreth warned me about, where I would feel I was just on the wrong spot on the earth, actually correlate pretty well with having gotten less than four hours of sleep the previous night. (Wow. It only took me six years to figure that out. Go me.) I spent quality time with my friends Gideon (including dinner at the camp of the lady who lives in the Cordoban synagogue that so impressed me at my first Pennsic), and Michael. The Northshield bardic circle went great (and late, hence the discovery the following day of the effect of sleeplessness at Pennsic). I made it to three of the Bardic Symposia (and knit all the way through one). The Known World Choir was HUGE amounts of fun because the Spanish music they chose this year was short, accessible, and melodic (and Wolgemut came to perform a cantiga during our intermission). The showers were always warm--sometimes too warm, since some idiot kept turning up the thermostat on the water heater. (I helped Lance make a sign warning them not to touch it again.) I had good shopping time and good talking-with-Owen time and good talking-intensely-with-bards-I-barely-know time. Doing dishes at Polyhymnia Thursday night enabled a completely clean slate with regard to my dirt-encrusted fingernails.

I flirted. This was good. Several of my regular flirting partners were handy, which helped. But I didn't meet anyone I'd want to take up with in a more serious one single, anyway. Pennsic doesn't make a good man-searching place, I don't think. If my One True Love weren't a bard, or were camped somewhere south of the Classic Swimming Hole, or never left the fighting field, I would simply never have a chance to meet up with him. *sigh*

This cot is the best purchase I have made in the last several years. I've been using it all summer and I've never slept better at camping events. Sorry married friends, it only comes in a single. But it's outstandingly comfortable, and even has that slight bounce that I like in my beds. And it's currently on sale for $20 less than I paid for it. Snap it up now, SCA campers.

I'll be saving the "Mom at Pennsic" saga for another entry, just because it deserves to have its own separate telling.

Since Pennsic: Autumn Rose, which I enjoyed, especially having missed it last year. Good feast, loved the Turkish coffeehouse and the extremely cool men who run it, and oh yes, I was interviewed by Channel 8 out of La Crosse for that evening's news, so anyone who might have been watching the 6pm local news on Saturday the 2nd in the La Crosse area, yes, that was me! I was helping out the Kingdom Media Coordinator while she was busy, and "helping" turned out to mean "being interviewed by a TV news reporter". I s'pose it had to happen once during my tenure as Kingdom Chatelaine...!

Also: the Jararvellir Library Mall demos started last Wednesday. I do enjoy talking to the general public about the SCA. There's a second one this Wednesday evening from 5 'till dusk; come participate and I'll buy you a smoothie. (Offer good for first five participants only. What do you think, I'm made of money?!)

Right now I'm in limbo. Here's what kind of limbo: job limbo. I interviewed last week for an LSA-Senior job (full-time, with benefits) at the Historical Society, in the Library Acquisitions office; having made it to the final round of interviews, I was inclined to be optimistic. It went, I thought, well--and I got a really nice tour of the WHS, including parts of it most people don't get to see. Their last interview was Friday; I was told that as soon as they were done checking references, they would be making their decision and contacting the person. So I am basically waiting to hear something. And that's all I'm going to say about it right now. (You might not think of me as a superstitious person...but sometimes for no reason at all, I decide I'm in danger of jinxing something, and I just don't talk about it.)

I was just realizing that my family isn't aware that my job at Reference & Loan will be ending soon. This Thursday is my last day; they let me know right after Labor Day. Apparently there was an unexpected union-mandated raise for some of the employees, that kind of nixed my position for the rest of the fiscal year--they suddenly don't have the money anymore. I am a little sad about this; after my first job at R&L (in 1996) I always said I'd come back in a trice, and it's been nearly two years here this time around. It feels homey. The people are nice. The level of stress is low. I'll miss it. Interlibrary Loan is perhaps not my destiny ( there anyone who would actually be pleased to discover it's their destiny?), but it was a nice place to land for awhile while I re-acquanted myself with Madison, did some things I've been meaning to do for years (like going to France and the Madison Early Music Festival), and worked on my self-esteem levels.

Perhaps I haven't done as well as I've liked on that last task. It's going to be a lifelong work, I fear.

They are doing a 10 am bye-bye thing for me on Thursday. I think I'll bring my ginger snaps. Everyone there always seems to like those.

Anyway...go make some granita, readers, and tell me how much you adore it. If you don't do coffee, there are fruit (and even vegetable and spice) versions on the web, inc. some where I got the basic coffee granita recipe. I'm going to go take a spoon to the freezer again...!

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