Monday, November 30, 2009

Small Town VA

To get to and from my mom's in Virginia, I had to take the train to Staunton, Virginia.

I'd never actually stopped in Staunton before, which sits at the base of the Shenandoah Mountains near the crossroads of two major interstates. I walked around for a few minutes before the train came to take me back to the big city.

It was cute.

And here is the view from the Fonzie apartment that I stay in when I'm down south. It's much nicer when there are leaves.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lake House

My mother and her husband scored a beautiful investment property on a lake.

You can see why they bought it. They got it for a great price due to some foreclosure-type situation that I don't totally understand.

But here's the funny thing... while the house is perfectly situated, an hour or so from DC, and has great picture windows, fireplaces, lots of room, and a great room with a peaked ceiling, it was oddly decorated. They'd gotten rid of the pink walls by the time I'd gotten there, but some of the fixtures and rose wallpaper are still in place.

You know how when you first get a house, you plan to make all kinds of changes, and some get made and some don't? I wonder what will end up staying.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Lifelike Reproductions!

"Where are we?"

I was sitting in the back seat of my mother's car on Thanksgiving Day. We'd had a nice dinner the night before and had checked out a property she was thinking of buying, about an hour north of where she lives now. My mother was driving and her husband was in the passenger seat.

"You'll know in a minute," she said, smirking. She was up to something.

I thought a minute and then declared my guess.

"... Dinosaurland?"


Of course Dinosaurland is closed on Thanksgiving, but that didn't stop us from pulling over and taking photos in the parking lot.

Here's my Picasa gallery of Dinosaurland photos.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

On Holiday

I'm in what I call the Fonzie apartment, above my mother's garage in rural Virginia. Fonzie as in the seventies sitcom "Happy Days." Fonzie lived over the Cunningham's garage.

I took a seven-hour ride on the Amtrak yesterday to get here. The trip was painless enough but I was really ready to get off that train by the end of the journey.

Having my own digs while visiting others makes the whole experience so much easier. And it really is a holiday for me, with nothing to do but read scripts for work and eat when told to.

Here's me, Mom, and Aunt Peggy eating-on-demand last night at the Wayside Inn in Middletown, VA. I swiped the photo off of Mom's blog.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Photos

I bought these handmade stork scissors in Uzbekistan in 2001. And promptly forgot about them until yesterday.

These two supermarket bags are part of my book-designer-bribery-scheme. He doesn't really need to be bribed. I just like to make bags.

I met Stuart and Liz yesterday in Carroll Gardens. We ended up at a wine bar eating fondue. My lactose-intolerance has let up over the years but I still sipped only cranberry juice.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New Toy

I got it. I got the Lumix ZS3 so that I can shoot HD video and take photos with the same camera.

I'll have to test it out soon. I apologize for what I'm going to put you through.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fun with Google Images

Here's what Google Images turned up during a moment of procrastination. I'm sure there was more to the sentence if I'd clicked on it, but I liked the shortened version.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Because Cakes Move...

Marc shot this Bundt Day documentary to show me the HD video quality of his ZS3 point-and-shoot.

I ordered one this morning. A ZS3, not a Bundt. I have enough Bundts.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A-Bundt-ant Table

The second-annual Bundt open house was a huge success. Possibly the most important event on this side of the Hudson since last year's Bundt celebration, which was at Denise's and involved a castle-cake.

How it "panned" out:

The Neopolitan had too much flour and was too dry. This was the last cake I baked, so I think I was too tired and impatient by then. The flour can't just be scooped out. It has to be stirred or sifted, to have air add to it. But this cake looked dramatic, with a swirled chocolate, vanilla, strawberry filling.

The mix Tunnel of Fudge was pathetic next to the scratch Tunnel of Fudge. And there was no tunnel. Don't bother.

Gypsy's yam cake was a huge success. And not just with Gypsy (who is a dog). All the people like the dog's cake too. I can attest to the odd and nice taste of making special cakes with yam. Moist! It had a pumpkin-y taste to it.

The pecan bourbon was delicious.

But the real star has to be the scratch Tunnel of Fudge. The center is a combination of chocolate, My T Fine pudding, and milk. And how amazing... it worked! There was a genuine tunnel inside the cake.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Happy National Bundt Pan Day

November 15th is National Bundt Pan Day! Remember that post offices and banks are closed.

I am baking several Bundt cakes and will be serving them at 4 p.m. If you live in the tri-state area and feel like helping review my variety of Bundt cakes, which includes Tunnel of Fudge (mix), Tunnel of Fudge (scratch), Yam Dog, Pecan Bourbon, Neopolitan, and Gary's Leach's Birthday Bundt as recommended by Susan D-L, please stop by. You'll have to e-mail me for my address. Or look in the phone book.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Missing Bundt

Otis had a giant box in his hands when he brought up the yam Bundt batter for the cake I'm baking for his dog.


"What's that?"

"I dunno. Probably your Tunnel of Fudge.* It was downstairs."

It was. Where has it been since Wednesday? What kind of journey has the Tunnel of Fudge gone on?

I don't care. Long as it's here with me now.

*Mini-hippos included for scale.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Major Disaster

I haven't written for a few days. And now I have recovered enough to tell you why.

Someone stole my "Tunnel of Fudge" Bundt® cake mix from under the steps where FedEx Ground left it.

No signature required. What? How can anyone ship out such an item of value without holding FedEx accountable for it?


My heart is broken for my poor missing Tunnel of Fudge.

Except for one thing. Imagine the reaction of the thief when they got it home, rubbed their hands and thought "What wonderful expensive treat is in this box I stole from a brownstone on Eighth Street?"

Then got a Bundt cake mix. Called Tunnel of Fudge.

It's all worth it if they don't own their own pan.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Six or Half-Dozen?

Back in June, I was chatting with a former colleague at a bar. This involved a reunion of colleagues all from Marvel of the eighties and nineties, and also involved Korean karaoke, but that's not important.

What's important is that Dan--the former colleague--told me about a tiny point-and-shoot camera that had the ability to shoot HD video.

My ears perked up. I have a tiny Flip-style video camera that I take along on trips, and it's separate from my regular point-and-shoot. Here was a chance to cut my gadget weight in half.

But it was expensive, and I knew other similar cameras would come out. They have and now I find that I've narrowed it down to a choice of two.

I've been reading and reading... and I just can't decide. There are comparisons here and here and here and here. And plenty of other places.

I just can't decide...

Monday, November 09, 2009

Double Entendre

Is it just me or is this kind of a funny way to say "Men's Pants?"

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Modern Etiquette

It's Saturday, but I'm at work. Before you feel sorry for me, it's my own fault I'm here. I've taken on too much and I have to spend weekends catching up as a result.

All these classes, bags, and Bundts come with a price. Though it's debatable how much work I'm doing. I'm falling asleep at my desk.

So I was just standing at the sink in the ladies room. The only other person in my serviced office on a Saturday walked in, her cell phone to her ear.

She proceeded to a stall... still on the phone. She still hadn't stopped talking when I left.

Is it just me or does phoning-while-peeing seem a bit over-the-top?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Gentrification of Cake

Since mentioning my obsession with Bundt cake, I've received four recipes and this tidbit: "Google Tunnel of Fudge."

Preemptively cringing in case my results turned out obscene, I typed "Tunnel of Fudge" into my browser's search box.

Aha! That's the chocolate Bundt with the gooey center that I remembered from childhood! But apparently it's hard to make, due to the scarcity of some key ingredient. Lots of scratch recipes listed workarounds but I admit that I was getting apprehensive about this project as I read about the dangers of scooping flour versus lightly measuring it into a cup by spoon. Goodness. Cake is complicated.

A few tentative clicks then took me to this.

It looks like the same mix I'd have used as a kid.

I ordered it. I guess we'll find out. But I gotta admit, paying $8 plus shipping for a cake mix does strike me as a bit silly.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

This Old Thing?

I made another yoga mat bag. I'm on Home Ec tear.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Bundt Cake Fever

I've become obsessed with Bundt® cakes of late, ever since I learned that November 15th is National Bundt® Day.

Okay, it's not exactly a government-sponsored holiday. Kids still go to school. I still work. And even if everyone else didn't have to work, there's no way Bundt® Day would also be celebrated in Kuwait.

Nevertheless, I aim to celebrate this particular holiday in style.

I went to my local Target yesterday to examine the Bundt® options. There was a handy carrier, a wreath-shaped Bundt® pan, a Bund pan, and a unbranded "fluted cake pan." The latter was ten dollars cheaper than the rest, so it went home with me.

After asking around, I learned that the cakes I remembered from my childhood were variations of the "Tunnel of Fudge," a cake that placed in the Pillsbury Bake-Off in 1966. The center was soft and gooey. I acquired some recipes for this and a few other Bundt® cakes.

This morning, I used a cake mix to test out the pan. I'm not yet ready for the Tunnel of Fudge.

The mix tastes bland and mediocre. I threw most of it away, putting aside a few slices for Kraiger's landlady, who is nearly 100 and likes to have cake with her tea.

But the pan worked beautifully. Bundt® Day, here I come!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween Night in Manhattan

My goal? To get from 34th Street and 8th Avenue to the Walker Street exit of the A/C/E train at Canal Street by 7:30. A friend from my early Marvel days had written a play, and I was going to meet him to attend the 8 o'clock curtain call.

Easy, right? It's a ten-minute ride from the base of my office building. It was Saturday, but I frequently go in on Saturdays. I'm alone in the office and find it easiest to work then.

At ten past seven, I cruised down to the subway turnstiles. Bollocks. What a crowd! Ghouls, goblins, witches, and assorted others greeted me underground. Whoa. That's what I call a line.

My stop is also the Penn Station stop. And all of New Jersey appeared to be located at the line for farecards.

Cursing myself for not having refilled my own card earlier, I ran back upstairs and headed a block over to the 1/9 line.

Same thing.

I liked the costumes. The night was warm and everyone in the tri-state area had descended onto the city center for tonight. Some were going to parties. Most were surely headed to the Greenwich Village Halloween Parade, a stunning, living mass of fabulousness, when all manner of costumed people hold an annual wild rumpus.

But I couldn't get on a train and was beginning to feel a little grumpy. I checked my phone for the time. 7:20 now. I kept walking, heading to Herald Square and more trains. Normally, I'd jump in a taxi at this point, but traffic wouldn't be moving downtown, what with the parade spectators clogging the streets.

There were no vending machine lines at Herald Square so I got to the platform quickly.

"Where are you going?" An MTA employee in a bright yellow vest asked me. They often place these workers on platforms on nights when trains are off-schedule or running amiss somehow. Their job is to tell people what's up.

"Canal Street. I'm going to West 4th to switch to the A/C/E," I told him.

"Damn, you already know!" Then he paused and looked closer. "Has anyone told you that you have stunning eyes?"

The passenger standing a few feet away appeared to stifle a giggle.

"Uh... no. I guess not. Is the D running on this line?"

"My name's John. What's your name?"




"Oh, well, Rae, what are you doing later?"

The E pulled in on the F track. Huh? The E! I could take the E to Canal Street! It normally ran on 8th Avenue, but when faced with an unexpected E train, the best response is to board quickly.

I got on the train, but the doors didn't close. An announcement came over the P.A.

"This train will terminate at 23rd Street. Repeat, this train will terminate at 23rd Street."

Cursing, I disembarked and waited. "John" smiled at me from across the platform. I turned to face the F line and hoped he'd stay put. I checked my phone for the time but I got no signal underground. I knew it was 7:30. I hoped my friend would go inside. It wouldn't do to miss his own play.

The F pulled up. Packed. Way too packed. I thought about all those people pouring out at West 4th Street and turned to the D. Ah, the D! It was finally pulling in.

"This train is running local to blah blah blah."

Arf. The D is normally express, skipping the smaller stops. Not tonight.

Ten minutes later, I finally spilled off the D onto the West 4th platform with hundreds of other passengers. I ran upstairs to catch the A/C, but probably not the E, as previously determined. I stood on the platform trying to text my friend, but of course got no signal. He'd get my texts when I got off the train.

Whenever that would be.

The A pulled in. Hooray, the A!

"The A is running on the F line. The next stop will be Broadway-Lafayette."

Good lord.

I waited. It must be nearing 8 by now.

Then the C pulled in. I boarded, and some guy dressed in a box and no shirt walked around hassling people. I hoped he wouldn't come up to me. I really wasn't in the mood. I recalled giving the finger to a mime in Berlin once. Not my best moment.

Finally, the doors opened at Canal Street. I ran to my exit and up the stairs. My phone sent the messages as I hurried down the block to Broadway.

"You can still make it," typed my friend back. "The play hasn't started yet."

The venue was in a 4th-floor walk-up, a fitting end to my traveling saga.

But I did manage to sit down right as the lights dimmed.