Archive for January, 2009

14
Jan
09

Meth lab found in funeral home

Ran across this while researching hearses and funeral homes for my novel in progress.

Apparently the drug lab guy has lost a few brain cells to his own merchandise.

At least he didn’t have far to walk to his cell.

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08
Jan
09

Bakeblog

I’ve been baking a lot lately. I started baking bread mainly as a way to save a few pennies, and to give myself a focus to my day, now that I’m unemployed (“freelance”).

The plan worked; I learned to bake good bread, and bread is so expensive now, along with everything else in the store, that I managed to save some money.

But beyond that, baking bread has reconnected me to things in a way I hadn’t considered.

For one thing, I didn’t realize how unconnected from daily life, from myself, from other people, I had become. I tended to blame my job, and it was true that my job was problematic–not a physically difficult job, and I felt strangely spoiled to be complaining about it, when so many people have such horrible jobs.

But working there was eroding my belief in myself, my sense of myself as someone who wanted to do the right thing, whatever that was. I felt I was becoming like a character in one of my books, a scammer, a sleazebag criminal who made his living by tricking other people out of their cash.

So when a job opened up at another place I jumped on it. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

Now that job has dissolved away from under me, and I’m scuffling around the fringes of unemployment as a “freelancer.” I like it, like working for myself,  which is good, since regular old-time employment seems harder to get all of a sudden. We’ll see if it’s sustainable.

But in the meantime I have the leisure to bake bread.

Making a loaf of bread takes time. Yeast rises, slowly, and the more slowly it rises (within limits) the better the bread tastes. You need to focus your attention on the temperature of the room, of your refrigerator if you’re slow-rising bread in it, of your oven when it comes time to put the bread in.

And it takes physical effort, kneading the dough until it comes alive. Because bread is alive, like everything else, and this is something you are made to realize as you work with it. The yeast foams; the dough rises; the bread grows in the oven. (The first jump it takes as it feels the heat is called the “oven spring”; I love to turn on the oven light and watch this happen through the glass door.)

“You are the bread,” I tell the forming loaves. “You are the bread.”

Working at home, you need structure, and baking bread provides a lattice, a framework. Each stage in the process requires time to happen; while yeast is doing its work, you can do yours.

The trick is to keep your computer keyboard from becoming a clogged mass of flour, butter and breadcrumbs. Forgetfulness is instantly punished. You pay attention better when you’ve come close to ruining an expensive and necessary piece of equipment.

I’ve gotten into the habit of cleaning each utensil as I finish with it, so that by the time the bread comes out of the oven the kitchen has been returned to its original condition, a clean world for the new loaves to cool in.

I always spend some time, once the bread is baked and cooling on its wire rack, standing there and admiring the loaves. I pick them up, examine them, look at how the slashes have developed during baking, make mental notes about forming the loaves better next time. I feel the weight and heat of each loaf. I can barely restrain myself from biting off big chunks of bread, squatting on the floor and devouring the loaves before they’ve even had a chance to cool, eating all the bread myself.

But I don’t. Because like a proud parent, I can’t wait to show off my loaves, to drag Jane into the kitchen to admire them, to cut off the first slice, cover it with good butter, and share it with her.

It takes a whole day to bake bread properly, but when you’re finished you’ve got something, something you’ve made yourself, like making a chair, a table.

A table you can eat.

07
Jan
09

Happy New Year

With the new year, a new direction for this blog. I’m going to open it up, include more stuff not directly related to writing, more of my day to day comings and goings. More like, I don’t know, a journal, or a diary, or a–log–that’s it! A weblog!

Brilliant.