Saturday, April 25, 2009

Right or Left

While on my way to Connecticut for a softball tournament today, I noticed a sign on the door at a rest area on the Turnpike which read:
shoe required
There was no space where an "s" might have been.

So my question is right or left?

The softball tournament is the NEWMAC championships. Wellesley will be playing in the championship game tomorrow. The tournament is taking place at the Coast Guard Academy. On another note it was very odd to be addressed as "maam" after I'd shown identification at the main gate today.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Crumbled Cake

Sassafras Mama posted today about her weekend battle with cake and it brought to mind a battle I had with a cake many years ago.

For many years we belonged to a lesbian & gay neighborhood group which held monthly potlucks. Most month's our contribution was cooked at the last minute. Our contribution that month was to be a bittersweet chocolate bundt cake. (We'd clearly planned ahead because the cake takes several ingredients that we don't normally have on hand.) The cake went together smoothly and was soon in the oven. While it was cooking I mixed up the glaze for the cake.

When the cake was cool I loosened the edges and turned it out onto a plate. Or at least I tried to turn it out onto a plate. About a third of the cake stayed in the pan. Since there wasn't much time before we needed to leave for the potluck I didn't have time to wallow in sorrow, though I probably let loose with a few curse words. I quickly had to come up with an alternative contribution for the potluck. I'd been at a party where trifle was served a few weeks before this, and so that was where my mind went when presented with the broken cake.

A quick look in the freezer revealed some raspberries, and there was cream in the fridge. The raspberries were quickly defrosted, and the cream whipped. It was quite cathartic to crumble the cake into a clear bowl, where I layered it with raspberries, the chocolate glaze that was intended to coat the outside of the cake, and the whipped cream. The resulting concoction was a big hit at the potluck.

We have made "Raspberry Oops Cake" many times since, and I've never had a problem getting it out of the pan. I keep swearing that I'm going to make the cake as intended one of these days, but so far it hasn't happened. And it's still somewhat cathartic to crumble up the cake.

Unfortunately, I don't have photographic evidence to share.

Best Laid Plans

Amy and I watch a fair number of home improvement shows on tv. More often than you would expect there are problems caused by poor planning on the part of the homeowner, designer or carpenter. In most cases this is not the point of the show. The exception is one which uses the tagline "why learn from your mistakes when you can learn from theirs". When we approach a project we normally do a lot of planning up front to avoid those sorts of oops moments. This is especially true if Amy is part of the planning. (This is a major component in the delay our renovation.)

My workshop contains a lumber rack I built years ago. I've never been satisfied with the sturdiness, and have been expecting it to disintegrate for years. A couple of months ago one of my woodworking magazines arrived with a supplement full of projects for the shop, one of which was a very sturdy looking lumber rack. I thought it would work well in my shop and so set about acquiring the materials to build it. Because of the clutter in my shop (it desperately needs to be emptied and reorganized) and the size of some of the components (8 ft 2x4s) I took advantage of a couple of warmish, sunny days to do assembly in the driveway (the garage is also suffering from over-clutter).

Much of the early assembly was done with the unit laying on it's side since the shelves are too heavy for me to lift by myself. When it was time to wrap up my work after one of my days in the driveway Amy came down to help me set it upright and move it into the garage. And that was when we discovered problem number 1.

As some of you may remember from the garage door replacement, or from visits to our house, the ceilings in our basement are low. I can touch the ceiling while standing flat footed, and I'm not tall. When I decided to build the shelves I didn't take the height of the ceiling into account. And when we set the unit upright Amy pointed out that it didn't look like it would fit into the garage. So, with the sun setting in the west I pulled out the tape measure and circular saw and shortened the uprights by 6 inches.

I've yet to finish the shelves - mostly because we've been busy and I can't lift the shelves by myself. Meanwhile, we've been entertaining plumbers - each of whom has a slightly different idea of where the tankless water heater we want installed should go. (Stay with me, this is actually related.) The most logical location, given the venting requirements for the water heater, is at one end of my workshop. That end of the workshop is currently home to the about to collapse lumber rack. This has made finishing the lumber rack of higher importance.

Which brings us to problem number 2. The root from the garage to the workshop includes a rather tight squeeze at the corner of the furnace. The new lumber rack is eight feet long and, as my very observant wife pointed out, it will not make it around that turn. We could take the rack via the back yard to the exterior door to the shop, but that is a soggy, weed ridden route. In the post-renovation version of my shop the lumber storage will be in the garage. So we've decided that the new lumber rack will take up residence in the garage a little early.

Now I just need to finish the rack, clean out the garage, and move a whole lot of lumber. Oh, and stop thinking all those people making mistakes on tv are careless.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

One Single Impression: Listening

sitting in silence
listening for the spirit
worshipping Quakers