Literally phoning this in

Typepad doesn’t have an app like Wordpress does, but they do have a “secret e-mail address” you can send blog posts from. I don’t feel like getting up from the couch right now, so phone post it is.

I should really back up my stuff on here because Typepad probably won’t be around forever. I suspect most of their customer base at this point is here out of inertia, like I am. But there’s some loyalty too; I’ve had a lot of fun here and their customer support has always been fast and helpful.

Anyway, here’s a picture from my camera roll:

image from https://www.starsandgarters.com/.a/6a00d834518e2169e20282e12e21f6200b-pi

I’m not sure if the secret e-mail posts automatically ping Twitter, but if they do, allow me to apologize that you came all the way over here for this.

Submarine

It rained all day today, a fairly unusual occurrence here. We're having the exterior of the house painted this week and the painters taped translucent sheets of plastic over all the windows to keep them clean, and I worked from home all day, so I felt like I was underwater as long as it was still light out. 

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I printed some of my latest design this afternoon. This was the first linocut I'd done in months; the ink was rolling out like velvet and sitting on top of the paper exactly right today, and the only challenge was placing the paper over the block correctly and not getting ink all over the place. So that was a fun, meditative hour. I had some interest when I posted my test copy, so I think I'll sell the prints on Instagram once they're dry.

I also got an invitation to sign up for a demonstration slot at the fantastic nonprofit secondhand art and craft store, Austin Creative Reuse, during one of the weekends of the East Austin Studio Tour (which this year overlaps with the West Austin Studio Tour to become the Austin Studio Tour; the whole event has gotten out of hand and I love it but also it's overwhelming). Anyway, I'll be there from noon until 2:45 on Saturday, November 13, demonstrating the art of making mosaics using castoff and upcycled materials. I need to start planning what I'm going to make and how I'm going to make it in an attempt to get the maximum visual excitement out of a medium that can be slow and tedious, at least when it's in my hands.

I know! I should challenge myself to make mosaics seem as unappealing as humanly possible: Dull brown tiles on brown backgrounds. Overly detailed explanations delivered in a halting monotone. Discouraging looks, greasy hair, the occasional whiff of an odd smell that no one can quite identify. Swing on by ACR that afternoon to see how well I'm achieving my goal! 

P.S. This is the first post I've ctrl-F-searched for the word "just" before posting and come up with zero hits! I did have to delete one after I typed it, though. 


Life minus

I work almost exclusively from home these days, but today I rode my bike down to the office to get some exercise, water my plants, and get a free flu shot. A coworker was there today, too, which was nice because we got to catch up, and also being up there by myself feels like I'm wandering through an apartment block in Pripyat. Next time I go I'll get rid of all the calendars and notices that are still from March 2020. It seemed novel for a while--look at how much time has passed since this event, unprecedented in our lifetimes, began!--but now they are accumulating dust puffs. It's depressing. 

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My office plants are doing ok. It's apparent that someone comes in and waters them enough to keep them alive, but not so often that they thrive. Which is how a lot of us are feeling right now. Eric calls it "Life, Lite." We can see friends and have small gatherings and do things in public, but for us  it's always laced with caution and anxiety. The socializing I do partake in seems well worth it at the time, but I know I'll feel like a real jerk if handing out Halloween candy at my friend's house or having my coworkers over on my back deck for a happy hour somehow turns into a superspreader event. 


HI

On a whim I decided to do NaBloPoMo* this year, which is a terrible name for the blog-post-a-day-in-the-month-of-November version of the also horribly named NaNoWriMo, in which you buckle down every day in November and write like a skillion words a day until you have a novel. (Thirty skillion words equals one novel, right?) 

I'm probably not ever going to write a novel, but daily blogging, I can handle. And now I have some time on my hands and, due to nearly a year of extreme schedule irregularity and overwork, no current routine or creative discipline to speak of. 

To make things even more challenging, I'm going to do this without using the word "just" as a minimizer even once. I wayyyyy overuse "just," along with weasel words like "I think" and "It's possible that..."  because I am a woman and gosh, I'd sure hate to make anyone uncomfortable. That would be such a shame, to write something and have people think I am confident that I know what I'm talking about! 

Oh, also I'm in a terrible mood lately, but I'm sure you can't tell. (Going by the conversations I've been having lately, odds are you're in a terrible mood too, and in fact you actually can't tell what kind of mood I'm in. And in that case, I'm sorry, and I hope you feel better soon.)

Anyway, this is gonna be fun. I promise! 

*Apparently now defunct. Blogging truly is dead. This should be a Substack newsletter: insipid content, served fresh to your inbox every morning. 


Trees 101

Trees

I've embarked on a massive purge of my home office and am finding a lot of stuff I never did anything with.

Update, 2:11 p.m.: My friend and coworker Veronica points out that today is Arbor Day, which is entirely coincidental. Weird.


Failcake

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I've successfully made a sourdough starter this week but have been putting off actually making a loaf of sourdough because of the time involved. Baking sourdough bread requires a lot of kneading and resting and activity, and it's just too much for a weeknight or pretty much any time ever, really. I won't go into the whole thing, as the internet is full of sourdough explanations. But basically to make the starter and keep it going you have to keep feeding it flour and water, and eventually you have to pour off some of the old to make room for the new.

As a result, there are a ton of recipes out there meant to take advantage of the discarded mixture so you're not just dumping perfectly good batter in the sink every day. Yesterday I made sourdough blueberry pancakes and they were frigging fantastic, so I thought I could try making a vegan sourdough chocolate cake from a recipe in the Sandor Katz fermentation book. I would take it to work to share--who doesn't like chocolate cake? As a bonus, the vegan and lactose-intolerant folks could partake too. 

The recipe came together quickly, and the batter was pleasingly bubbly, just how you'd imagine a sourdough batter should be. It tasted delicious when I licked the spoon: chocolatey, not too sweet, a little tangy. I put the cake in the oven and began to make the frosting, and there things began to go off the rails.

The chocolate chips we had turned out to have milk solids in them so I couldn't use them and had to sub cocoa and oil instead, which in turn meant that the frosting was terrible--oily, flat, and weirdly clumpy. 

I let the cake cool before I frosted it. It turned right out of the pans, which I took as a good sign. It was clear the horrible frosting wasn't going to spread, so I sort of ground it into the top and sides as best I could--it was a layer cake and especially tricky to cover, even if I hadn't been using frosting that resembled tarry sand--and then I tried a piece. The slice sort of flopped over onto the plate and disintegrated, but the first bite was pretty good.

With the second bite I discovered the huge clumps of unincorporated sourdough starter. The recipe had stressed that the batter should be stirred as little as possible, so I had given it a few swirls with the whisk and figured the lumps would dissolve the way they do with pancakes. They did not. The cake was studded with them; they were gummy and globular.

It wasn't very good, but I wasn't ready to let go just yet. Maybe a second opinion would clarify things.

Eric came home from work a few minutes later. "Don't get too excited," I said, but his nose was twitching and his eyebrows were raised at the prospect of a delicious dessert. Then he tried the cake and his face fell. 

"I was thinking I could still take it to work," I said. "I'd explain that it was a baking failure. I mean, it's not a great cake, but it's still cake."

"You could trick them," he said. "Tell them it's really good and act like you're so proud of it and then sneak away while everyone eats it and discovers the truth."

I barked with hurt laughter. "I can't take it to work, can I?"

"No," he said gently. "You can't."

"I have to throw it out, don't I?"

"I'm sorry," he said.

As I was writing this, he brought me a Thin Mint. It was very good.