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My Way Out: Auntie’s Brownies Friday, February 29, 2008

Posted by Grace in from the kitchen, marble & holly.
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The marathon of exams, that’s three in sixty hours, is coming to a close. Just 12 more hours until the last one, and here I am, washing the flour off my hands to write a post.

Why does she have flour on her hands? I imagine you readers asking. It is because that is what happens when I feel stressed out and need to take a second to escape. I bake.

Strange coping mechanism, I agree. Lots of difficult exams to write? It would seem logical to be perusing that last textbook, doing sample questions for the umpteenth time, but who ever said that I’m always logical? I am in the kitchen, amongst the cocoa and the sugar. And as soon as this gets typed up, I’ll be back to the books. I promise.

Though cupcakes would be nice to bake too…

I’ve been like this since I started cooking, standing upon a chair pulled up to the counter so I could reach, beside my grandma, or my mother, or (my kitchen idol) my grandpa’s little sister, who we will just call Auntie. Being in the kitchen, doing that alchemy of taking raw ingredients and putting them together just so to make something divine, has always been a very tranquil place for me.

When I visit said Auntie, we invariably end up making something. Either she has a new recipe she wants to show me, or I’m asking about how to make some particular request. And she tells stories of wee little me becoming overwhelmingly engrossed with cooking. The hyper, bouncing off the walls little girl becoming tranquil if she had flour on her hands.

So this post is for that special Auntie, as this is her recipe. They’re perfect for anyone with a sweet tooth, or a need to escape from studying.

Farmer’s Brownies

1 1/4 C Flour

1 tsp Baking Powder

1/2 tsp Salt

3/4 C Butter

1 C Brown Sugar

1 C Granulated Sugar

4 Eggs

2 tsp Vanilla extract

1 C Chopped Walnuts (optional)

Melt butter over low heat in saucepan. Let cool.

Blend together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Beat cocoa, both sugars, eggs, and vanilla into the melted butter. (You really do want to let it cool or else the eggs will start to cook, yuck!)

Stir in dry ingredients and walnuts.

Spread batter in 9X9 inch pan. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes.

Sometimes simple is best.

Song of the Day: My Way Out – David Usher

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Tarantulove: Dreams of Dogs, Lace and Guns Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Posted by Grace in strange days.
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I was perched on the roof of a high rise.

A tiny earbud, left ear, whispered out, Building, 12 o’clock. Third story down. Fourth window North.

I adjusted weight, position, setting the scope into focus. Stylized apartment; strong but minimalist lines.

The voice, still clear, calmly states, Target has entered residence. You know what you must do.

Slow, grounding exhale. I know.

There is a small click, no more direction will come.

I look to my side, the German shepherd beside me is still, calm.

Once more exhale, slow grounding. Look back through the scope. Minor adjustment to the position of my arms. The rifle is an extension of my eyes, my arms.

Looking through the scope, all else fades to inconsequential detail. The sound of the birds fades. The chill from the breeze, just reaching me from the lip of cover the building offers, no longer prickles skin just barely covered by lace. Discomfort from the concrete underneath me fades.

There is just the dog, the target, the space between, the rifle, and myself. What I must do.

Watching, waiting, there is only this. The rest of the world could pause and everything would seem the same from here.

The target does not appear. I note it but there is no concern. Only a matter of time.

The dog, watching, still as myself, pricks up its ears and turns. Low growl.

This pulls me out from the supreme concentration. I look over my shoulder. There is a man, perhaps 20 yards away, face silhouetted by the sun from this point of view.

He’s not going to come.

That voice. I unhand the rifle slowly. Begin to rise. The shepherd stands and bares its teeth. Once upright, my hand falls sharply to my side. The dog settles, begrudgingly, returning to the low growl. The wind hits my scarcely covered skin full force. As does the epiphany that comes with the recognition of that face.

The voice sounding into my ear orders, Stop. But now I understood.

—————————————————————————

…And then I woke up.

I finally gave in and took some cold medicine last night. The above is what I got from it.. So very strange, the side effects of cold medicine.

I normally don’t take cold medicine because I tend to react strongly to such things, and prefer to let my body heal itself on its own when it can, but I got talked into it yesterday. Been hit with a cold thats just being nasty. Still, with sleep like this, I think there should be no more cold medicine for me, eh?

For those dream interpreters out there, I hazard a question. What is all of that supposed to mean?

Sniper rifles + lacy undergarments + German shepherds = ?

I’d go back to bed, but I need to study. I’m gonna go make some tea. Hope everyone out there in the sphere is without a cold.

Song of the Day: Tarantulove – Hawksley Workman

Young Folks Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Posted by Grace in strange days.
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Early morning, I was sitting in the relatively empty terminal. The light that was shining in the ceiling to floor windows still had the mauve fuzzy shade that seems so unsure as to what it is, night or day. Dusk.

I had seen, printing my boarding pass, that the flight would be relatively empty. My terminal being the last in the long hall contributed to the lonely, divided feel. Of the eighty or so seats set before the gate, and the already beaming flight attendants, maybe 2 dozen were filled. We were an archipelago, us soon to be travellers. Each person their own island in a sea of seats, some small groups, travelling together, sat together.

Early and prepared for the wait, I got out my headphones, turned on the music, and cracked open a textbook. Any opportunity to study, right?

I felt the shift in the attached seats as someone took a place directly to the right of me. I was slightly confused, not because I wanted to be alone, but because there were so very many seats open, and by general, the archipelago was pretty much following bus etiquette. But hey, free country, right? Stranger can sit wherever he wants to.

I proceeded that prickles on the back of my neck feeling that someone was looking at me. It became apparent that my seat neighbor was looking at me. Once again, I pulled the Okay, little bit weird, but whatever card, and continued to read. Mmm… matrix metalloproteases.

But then, my seat neighbor leaned towards me and said Hello.

I looked up, little me with my headphones and my cell biology textbook, and saw (could you guess) a nice young man in uniform. We exchanged pleasantries, he was heading to a different base, I was going to visit family. He’s originally from out East, I’m from this neck of the woods. What are you listening to? Year Zero. Good album, I’ve got that on my iPod. Et cetera. When there was a lull I turned back to my book. He proceeded to get my attention again, but they called us to board.

The plane was virtually empty, and so he took it upon himself to seek me out and sit by me. Doubtless to say I didn’t get a lot of studying done, or music listened to for that matter. By the time we landed and picked up our luggage, we had talked about quite a lot, and he had given me his cell phone number and said we should do something while I’m still in province, or maybe he’ll drop me a line next time he’s in my neck of the woods.

Very nice guy, I hope he enjoys his time on that base (I’ve heard some stories about how boring and middle of nowhere it is), but once again, I wonder about this invisible sign I’ve got stamped on my forehead.

Song of the Day: Young Folks – Peter, Bjorn & John

Exactly Like You Monday, February 25, 2008

Posted by Grace in graceisms.
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Its strange how sometimes those personality tests that get forwarded around will strike a chord. The majority of the time I’ll be looking at the screen laughing at the silliness of it all. Twice in the last couple of days, though, I found myself thinking, “Wow, that’s really true!”

Here’s how I scored:

On the Jung Typology Test I’m an ENFJ, the Giver. There are some points I particularly agree with (complete description here):

·You deal with things according to how you feel about them, or how they fit into your personal value system.

· ENFJs are people-focused individuals. They understand and care about people, and have a special talent for bringing out the best in others.

· It’s natural to their personality type that they will tend to place other people’s needs above their own, but they need to stay aware of their own needs so that they don’t sacrifice themselves in their drive to help others.

· ENFJs like for things to be well-organized, and will work hard at maintaining structure and resolving ambiguity.

· Their uncanny ability to understand people and say just what needs to be said to make them happy makes them naturals for counseling.

· ENFJs have a strong need for close, intimate relationships, and will put forth a lot of effort in creating and maintaining these relationships. They’re very loyal and trustworthy once involved in a relationship.

· As giving and caring as the ENFJ is, they need to remember to value their own needs as well as the needs of others.

And on the Personal DNA Test, I’m a Benevolent creator. I had more of those, so true moments:

· Your imagination, confidence, willingness to explore, and appreciation of beauty make you a creator.

· You eagerness to seek new and varied experiences leads you into many different situations.

· Your caring nature goes beyond basic concern: you take the time to understand the nuances of people’s situations before passing any sort of judgement.

· You’re a good listener, and even better at offering advice.

· You’re concerned with others at both an individual and societal level – you sympathize with the plights of troubled groups, and you can care about people you’ve never met.

· Other people’s feelings are important to you, and you’re god at mediating disputes.

· Because of your understanding and patience, you tend to bring out the best in people.

Song of the Day: Exactly Like You – Denzal Sinclaire

Alone in the Universe Sunday, February 24, 2008

Posted by Grace in blue doves.
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First keeps calling.

And I keep talking to him because the part of me that still loves him, and probably always will, is so scared. Scared of what he is seeing and experiencing, scared of all of the possibilities of what might happen, and scared of what would happen if I stopped. There are other people he can talk to, and probably other people that he does talk to. But it’s just hard to know if you’re that person helping to tow them through, and you don’t want to stop just in case.

Before, I was that person, and that’s why it concerns me so. I know that there are all of the men and women that are overseas with him, seeing and experiencing the things he is going through; but so much of what they do is about strength and being able to get through, and I know that he at least feels that you can’t talk about these things. I know that he has his family, but they’re so at wits end that he plays the strong, everything is fine card to them as well. As he says, they worry enough as it is.

I continue to take the calls, stay on the line, because the part of me that still loves him needs so badly for him to be alright. That’s not something that I can just let go of.

There’s this tone in his voice now, disheartened and angry, that makes him hard to recognize and it just breaks my heart. Still, I continue to strain to hear over static and lags between speaking and receiving messages, because he needs someone and he chose me. Who am I to betray him of that?

He continues to voice how he wants things to go back to how they were before, that it was a mistake, and he didn’t stop loving me even though he thought it would be better for me if he did… and when he gets like this, I really can’t listen, can’t speak, can’t think. But I stay on that line because I need so much for him to be alright.

Already I feel myself falling back into place, back into rank if you will, that shadow of support behind him. Already he’s returned focus of my thoughts. It just scares me that as time goes on, how completely I will fall back into file.

The sadness and the things he says are breaking my heart, and I worry that he’s finding his way back into it.

Song of the Day: Alone in the Universe – David Usher

Dazed and Confused: Wait… A What? Thursday, February 21, 2008

Posted by Grace in la famiglia.
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A new term has entered my lexicon, thanks to the boys. I’m wondering if they’ve created it, or if anyone else out there in the sphere has heard of it?

Pseudogirlfriend – that female friend that males spend a lot of time with, who at times behaves ‘girlfriendly.’ For example: making them chicken soup if they’re sick, offering massages for sore backs, etc. Further, it’s that friend who the real girlfriend tends to mistake as moving in on things, when in actuality, they’re just being a friend like they always have been.

Apparently, as I’ve been enlightened to it, I am one.

It’s true that my closest friends are ‘the boys.’ And I have been regaled with the story, sadly more than once, that Recently Ex-Girlfriend had mentioned something along the lines of “Well, if you like Grace so much, why don’t you just date her?”

I really don’t think that I get in the way of their relationships. I’m not the female friend who makes moves to cut out the girlfriend from the picture, I tend to befriend them as well. I’m not the female friend who points out new girl’s faults, or gets angry when one of the boys starts seeing someone. I just happen to be that girl that their boyfriend is really good friends with.

So I’m told, it’s not that I get in the way, it’s just that my position is rarely understood. From my insider’s point of view, the boys are my closest friends. I do things for them that I do for anyone I’m close to: if you’re sick you’re going to get some home made chicken noodle, if you’ve got a sore back you’re going to get a massage (it’s one of my talents, why wouldn’t I use it?), if you have something you need to get off your chest I’m going to be there to listen. It is like that with any friend, male or no. As a circle of friends, we have been through a lot together, and so are rather tight knit and pretty fiercely protective of each other.

I’ve been asked to try to understand things from an outsider’s point of view, though. And from an outsider’s point of view, I can understand that seeing a group of young men, plus me is maybe a little bit strange. With the common point of view that girls and boys can’t be just friends, added to how protective they are of me, and the things I will do to make them happy, I can kind of understand. I’m that friend who the actual girlfriends never really understand how her man’s and my friendship works.

But, I’d like to add another term here for the boys, because the reverse is also so true.

What is a pseudoboyfriend? It’s that male friend a girl has who she spends a lot of time with, who she can tell things to that she can’t normally tell people. That friend who is very protective of her, and tends to find faults and reasons to dislike men she gets involved with. A pseudoboyfriend is that male friend who the actual boyfriend never really seems to understand the ways in which that friendship works. In short, a pseudoboyfriend is that male friend females have, who sometimes behaves ‘boyfriendly.’

And to the boys, ma famiglia: you are them.

Song of the Day: Dazed and Confused – Led Zeppelin

Any Other World Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Posted by Grace in blue doves.
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People seem to be not enough for each other anymore. What you have with who you’re with seldom seems to be enough for a lot of people you come across. There is just this constant search for something better. As soon as anything begins to go wrong, people feel better to cut away that they do to put effort into fixing things. It fits well into our consumer technology. As soon as a person doesn’t get what they want how and when they want it, they are quick to discard and find anew.

I’m not saying that settling for less is a good thing, nor that being unable to let go of something that cannot be fixed is healthy. It is just that love, like life, is not always easy; taking the easy way out as soon as any obstacle comes up can lead to missing out on really great things.

Call me a romantic, I am. Call me idealistic, that’s probably true too. I just don’t understand why some people are so quick to cut down, berate, or discard people that are important to them. They can’t support each other, they tear each other apart. It’s just completely foreign to my sensibilities.

(I’ll step off my soapbox now…)

Song of the Day: Any Other World – Mika

I’ll Cover You Monday, February 18, 2008

Posted by Grace in eating crackers in bed, from the kitchen.
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Yesterday, the rescheduled Valentine’s was rescheduled again because Fearless has come down with a serious bout of the flu.

I went to his place at the time he had given me, dressed for the weather as I was told to do. And when I rang the buzzer, there was no answer at the door. I was confused at first, wondering if I had forgotten I was supposed to meet him elsewhere? I got out my phone and dialed his number.

The door opened. It was him, looking like death warmed over, wearing naught but a pair of gray sweats.

It’s Sunday? He asked, voice a little raspy.

I didn’t answer. You’re sick?

He ushered me inside. His movements were slow, very out of the ordinary because he normally carries this kinetic energy that buzzes from him. He grabbed a blanket from the floor, where he must have dropped it, and plunked down on the couch. I’m sorry about Valentine’s. He proceeded to lie down again.

The caregiver in me kicked in (as it always does), Have you eaten anything today?

He pointed at an open but untouched looking packet of soda crackers and said, Keep throwing up.

Are you staying hydrated?

He lifted a bottle of water from his side.

I fluffed the pillow under his head. He started to mumble something about moving Valentine’s to another day again, but I shushed him, gave him a kiss on the forehead, and told him I was going to make him some chicken soup. Fearless started to protest; he’s such a protector, he likes to do the taking care of, not be the object of it. Luckily, he was tired and weak from being sick, so protesting didn’t get him very far.

I whipped up a simple stracciatella, the perfect thing for a sensitive tummy, and brought him a new glass of water.

He ate, got sick, and tried to eat a little more. I got him into his bed, solved his achey muscle issue with a long massage, and just sat with him for a while in the quiet. He kept saying sorry about Valentine’s day, he had so much planned; but really it wasn’t bad at all. I got to spend a quiet day pampering my man and showing him I care. The only thing better would have been if he wasn’t sick.

Valentine’s has been moved again, to as soon as he’s feeling up to snuff again. From talking to him today, it seems he already feels much better. I hope work tomorrow doesn’t make him any worse, it sounds as if it’s going to be a rather intensive day.

Stracciatella

7 C Chicken Broth

1/2 C Orzo (my personal choice for this) or other small pasta

2 Eggs

1/3 C Grated Parmesan Cheese

2 Tbsp Chopped Parsley, fresh is best but dried works too

Pinch pepper, to taste

Bring six cups of the broth to a boil, reserving one cup. Stir in orzo or other pasta, and cook until al dente.

In a bowl, whisk together eggs, cheese, parsley, pepper, and reserved broth. Gradually pour mixture into boiling broth, stirring constantly until the eggs break into strands.

Serve!

Song of the Day: I’ll Cover You – RENT

We’re in This Together Sunday, February 17, 2008

Posted by Grace in graceisms.
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“Colleen‘s crying, Nancy’s wailing and Sarah’s sobbing. You’ve never seen so much misery in the one room at the same time. Mike looks at Bozo and me and goes over and puts his arm around Sarah and nods, indicating we must do the same to Nancy and Colleen.”

– Four Fires, Bryce Courtenay.

That’s the result from my try at the Page 123 meme. The rules? Open the nearest book to page 123, find the fifth sentence, and post the next three sentences.

Oddly enough, this quote had a lot to do with something I’ve been trying to find the words for. Other people just seem to be saying it best.

We are in this together. Sometimes we can stand on our own, and sometimes we need someone’s arms around us for the extra support. In the nautical world, they may say that it is every man for himself, but still, if one of the crew falls overboard, they work to get you back from the sea.

Song of the Day: We’re in This Together – Nine Inch Nails