Friday, July 13, 2007

Three new posts!

I feel the need to explain why I am posting four times in one day. This is all revived old stuff, some of it only a couple of days old, that I didn't have time to post until now because work has been eat-your-own-hair kind of crazy with two Farmland Preservation Plan deadlines looming over us and server crashes and power outages and cockroaches oh my! When I got home, I was in no mood to blog - to sit in front of a computer some more. So below is the whole week's worth of posts.

Mixed up

When I was in high school and early in college, I was really big on making mix CDs. I think that the only thing that ended this craze was getting a new car with an MP3 player. Now I just make CDs with a bunch of folders on them. Whenever something little breaks on my car and I get annoyed, I just think of the sunroof and MP3 player - two unnecessary but awesome things that my car has.

Anyway, anyone who has made mix CDs knows that it is an art. A badly made mix CD can ruin your car ride; it can even make you hate your favorite song. The main issue is not the songs themselves, but the transition between the songs. A bad transition - songs in the wrong two keys, songs at different volumes, songs of vastly different moods - can be jarring. Thus, mix CDs took a lot of time and effort to complete - it was all about finding the perfect, good-mood inspiring transitions, not just the best songs.
This was the first mix CD I ever made for distribution among my friends. Inspired, I guess, by the Emo Diaries, there were many "volumes" of "The Emo Punk-a-Riffic Mix."

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Yes, truly art.

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What may have been one of the last mixes ever made never got distributed among my friends. It was the summer mix of 2003 - bands with names like 'Hot Hot Heat' and 'The All Girl Summer Fun Band." There was some happy, pop punk-y New Found Glory and other not-sucky emo at the end. I rediscovered this CD last weekend. I forgot all about The All Girl Summer Fun Band and how great they are. I don't know why they never got big, especially with songs like "Later Operator." So, I write this post partially to tell the world (my three readers) about this great band, and partially to pose a very important question.

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What kind of anal retentive nutcase makes a rough draft of a mix CD?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Love and value-added agricultural produce

Intoxicated with the madness,
I'm in love with my sadness.
Over the top, perhaps, but let's not pick on Billy. We've all felt that way sometimes. Even after the age of fourteen.
When I first heard Regina Spektor a week ago, it reminded me of the first time I heard Little Earthquakes. Though Boys for Pele remains my favorite Tori Amos album, there's nothing like that second time* I listened to Little Earthquakes and thought, "Music like this really exists!?" and then felt compelled to play it on loop several times
So I started thinking last week, Why don't I listen to Tori Amos anymore? I still like this style of music. I still like Tori. What compels me, when I get bored of my new CDs, to refrain from pulling out Under the Pink? For that matter, what keeps me from listening to Siamese Dream, the CD that used to accompany my fall drives in the country? I think it's because I've always been afraid that listening to that music would remind me of the time I first got into it, when I would play the CDs on loop, that I would start to feel not only nostalgia but whatever feelings I had at the time of my Smashing Pumpkins-and-Tori-and-Dave-Matthews phase. Memories from 1998 would bubble up to the surface after being buried for nine years.
When going through the time capsule that my bedroom has become, I started to re-listen to The Aeroplane Flies High and Adore. I found that listening to these classics did not remind me of my first "love" - a standoffish classmate who clearly had very little interest in me - as I feared it would. It did remind me of my first real love--
Billy Corgan.
Yes...Billy. Sigh...a whole line of less than threes...the poet, the musician, emo before people really used that word...the creator of the soundtrack of my teenage years...a man who, though he never met me, could somehow voice my true feelings. An online journallist (people didn't say "blog" then, either) and poet I loved, puce of, once wrote a poem called "Billy Corgan Understands" or something like that. Sometimes it really does seem like only Billy Corgan understands. I know people say all those mean things about you, Billy--that you're a control freak, that you were no fun to be in a band with - but I don't care. How could the man behind "Thru the Eyes of Ruby" have anything but a beautiful soul?
Sarcasm aside, I was ecstatic to find that I could listen to this music without any weird nostalgia, just newly discovered appreciation for one of my favorite bands. The Pumpkins were (are?) so good! I had to get over the loss of D'arcy awhile ago, and now James Iha, so will they really be the Pumpkins we all knew and loved? I don't know. I guess I will have to listen to their new CD.
* The first time I didn't really get it. I had to listen to it once, to make room in my head for the idea that piano music and good singing could be COOL and not just something to appreciate in an academic sense. I had to listen to it once and think, "She's talented, but this is weird," before I was truly altered - before I was writing the lyrics to "Silent All These Years", "Girl", and "Mother" in the margins of my Algebra and Physics notebooks, before I was combing through Napster for B-sides, before I was fervently seeking out Tori Amos sheet music in Sam Goody and pounding away at "Winter" and "Yes Anastasia" on the out-of-tune barely-used-since-the-sixth-grade-recital-fiasco piano.
- - - -
In other news, lately I have been experimenting with the world of value-added produce. This is the name we, in the Farmland Plan Writing World, give to pickles, jams, salsas, and other things that go into glass jars.

This is what jam looks like when it is cooking down, in case anyone cares.
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Why no! I do not know how to rotate this picture! [Or make it bigger!]
So a week ago, after a ridiculous amount of time and effort being spent on locating New Jersey grown sour cherries, and slightly less time spent translating a French e-mail, I made my cousin-once-removed Dominique's recipe for pickled sour cherries. I do not know what they are called in French--Cerises avec du Vinaigre? The recipe called for such things as white vinegar, brown sugar, and exactly THREE PINCHES of cinnamon, all boiled together and poured into glass jars of fresh cherries "un peu acide." (You can imagine the smell that filled the house during this process.) The recipe did not specify how long to process these jars (if at all) nor how many cherries to use, but gave specifics like "Place them in complete darkness for exactly two months" and "Attention! When you first open the jars, they will be very strong, just like a new pot of mustard!"
I imagine something like this does not get processed according to FDA standards - does something being bathed in boiling vinegar really need to be cooked some more? - but at the last minute, I did it a makeshift fashion.
Here they are being processed!
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This is not a proper canner.
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This is not a proper jar-grabber.
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Look at those nice finished pickle jars!
I felt so old-fashioned and hick-like, in a classy, French sort of way, that I had to take a picture of my pretty, sparkling jars. Oh yeah, because I had too many red currants and leftover vinegar solution that I couldn't justify throwing away, I also haphazardly threw together a batch of pickled "groseilles."
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Billy approves. <3>

Domestic Goddess

I found an old post from August 17th labeled "Domestic Goddess." I thought, "Ooh!" but it was just a couple of notes - not a substantial draft.

[Pictures of garden] Later, write about The Dangers of Tomato Cages. I remember this...vaguely. I think it was this day. The tomatoes needed to be staked, desperately. They were growing like an entangled mat of vines. Those poor plants were healthy - each about six feet of strong vegetative growth...with no flowers and therefore, no fruit. No one was very appreciative of these tall, majestic creatures due to their absence of actual tomatoes. Unfortunately I don't remember enough of this to make it funny, but I remember vaguely spending a lot of time straddling the vegetable garden--I should back up a bit. Our garden is in an old playhouse foundation, so the only way to get to things in the middle of it is to climb on the subdividing wooden balance-beam-like things and pray you don't fall face-down in the mud. I also tend to go out in the garden before changing out of my work clothes or shoes. So picture me, wild hair and all, trying to straddle two balance beam-like things in heels, flailing around, losing my balance, trying not to get peat mixture stains on my white dress pants. AAAHHH. Now add to this image the Big-Haired-Jersey-Girl ALSO struggling with tomato cages, which are three pieces of wire fence-like things, attached to form a triangle around the tomato plant so that the plant has something to lean on and doesn't fall over and form a jungle with all the other tomato plants. Also add to this image that I was not wearing dress pants, but a skirt.

The tomato cages were rather unruly. As I was adjusting them, one fence-piece would fall off and I'd have to reattach it to the other two; the pieces would slide up and down and refuse to stay the same height; the cages would fall over instead of sticking into the dirt; or the pieces would flail around instead of attaching to the rest of the triangle - hitting me in the face, nearly knocking me off of my balance beams, poking me with their fence-y little tops, and, at one rather low point, flying up my skirt!

I was not pleased.

In the end, the tomatoes were caged, I was relatively unharmed, and in the fall we had a nice amount of Fried Green Tomatoes.

Blackened pie. I remember this one. Unfortunately, a picture probably speaks a thousand words in this case, and I do not know where the pictures from this event are. In short, I picked a whole lot of red currants at Alstede Farms (one of my favorite U-Pick places...I'm always trying to get people to go here with me) and found on a German recipe for red currant pie. I think it was one of those wonderful multi-layer springform pan desserts that Germany seems so fond of. I love making those. It had a lemony shortbread crust, and the top layer was like meringue with the red currants mixed in. The crust was cooked but the meringue was not, so I stuck the pie under the broiler and walked away. I never learn. I always ALWAYS do this - when I broil ANYTHING - pizza, cakes, vegetables, whatever - I do not come back after five minutes. I get distracted and come back when I smell burning. The meringue formed a thin, tar-black top layer; however, under this was perfectly delicious cake. Still, the pictures made it look like I was a terrible cook. Between that and my vegetative-tomato-plant-knot, I had the surface appearance of a domestic nightmare.
Ribbon embroidery. I have no idea. I think I was just going to post pictures of a project or something.
Clothes shopping. Always a topic for funny stories; however, at this point, I have no idea which funny story I was referencing.

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Instead of a real post...

Yesterday, I was looking for something in my Web History at work, and realized that Google not only saves your search history, but creates this interesting little summary. My results are a little embarrassing but funny.

Top queries
1. gilmore girls
2. melilotus officinalis
3. ipni
4. microeconomics study guide
5. cyclopia intermedia
6. warren county agricultural development board
7. von thun's farm nj
8. ulva
9. metasequoia
10. lotus corniculatus

I mean, how nerdy is this? It makes me think I work too much. #1 is because at least once a week during the school year, I would look to see if Gilmore Girls was going to be a rerun or not. #2 and #10 are ballast plants. #3 is both from ballast plants research and from looking up plants for other school projects. #4 is self explanatory. #5 is another plant I wrote a paper about. #6 is a website I frequently look up for my job. #7 is a place I went apple picking with Jess in October (after the Bio Blitz, oddly enough) and I had no idea I Googled this place so many times that things I've Googled since OCTOBER haven't pushed it out of my top ten. #8 is the misspelling of a plant I was looking up for school; #9 is a plant I'm apparently obsessed with. 70% of these are work or school related, which is kind of depressing.

> Top sites

OK, not so weird. #2 is not just because of school, but because I look things up at USDA Plants for fun (dork.) #3, #6, #8, and #10 are sites I've used to find information at work. I have no idea what #5 is.

Top clicks
1. Sussex County - Agricultural Development
2. The International Plant Names Index - home page
3. County of Warren, NJ - What's New
4. Shows - Gilmore Girls
5. Rutgers Department of Plant Biology & Pathology Plant Science ...
6. Jersey Fresh - Urban Farmers' Markets
8. FPHG - FPHG Home
9. Sheryl Crow - Strong Enough Lyrics
10. PLANTS Profile for Podophyllum peltatum (mayapple) | USDA PLANTS

Once, I sang "Strong Enough" at an open mic with a friend who plays guitar. It was very last minute and I had to learn the song in like a week...I found out we were performing about an hour before the open mic started. Apparently I Googled the lyrics quite a bit in that hour.

Happy Fourth!