homage to art class, circa later 1900′s

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Remember the old joke, when an art teacher approaches a student who should have completed his art project but stares at a blank white page as the instructor, eyebrows raised and surly in their arch, remarks, “And what do we have here?” So the student, appreciating that he is being chastised, answers, “It’s a polar bear in a blizzard!”
In any other class, the child would be sent to the principal’s office, but hey, it’s Art. Different world, different rules, all subjective.
Well, after being gifted with a gigantic brand new pad of crisp brilliant drawing paper, I’ve been feeling the art class sarcasm. I have made two creatures in the snow, one of them being my own bichon pup, and the other being the arctic variety you see up top.
In queue are a polar bear and a llama.
Then I thought of the nocturnal critters, the ones sitting in the dark while we can only see their eye shine, and lookee here but I have upon my shelf a handful of white pencils and a pad of black paper…
This could take a while.
It’s a lot of work, and a lot of fun, to be a smart ass.

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water rescue by way of doughnut holes

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Today I kayaked with three friends. The four of us split into pairs, alternating partners, chatting, rowing occasionally but mostly just floating and chatting.
An hour or so into the float, we two happened onto the other two and one was down, near faint, from pre-diabetic complications and not eating breakfast before trekking to the waterway.
We had no food, no sustenance for emergency; no flares, no cell phone, no dry pants, even. We were not Scout ready.
Fortunately we had a gentleman in the midst who belted this morning. Off came the canvas loop and MacGyver the Kayaker strapped his boat to the front of the wounded in preparation for the tow.
Third friend stayed back with the down, watching her, making certain she didn’t slide unconscious over the edge of the boat into the treacherous turtle infested canal.
What did I do? I announced that I would stride ahead! Seek help! And pray for a granola vending machine somewhere near the dock!
Off I went, in search of rescue and snacks.
I thought I was slow, my arm flaps slowing my ardent striding. Water escaped from the river, streaming from my oar into the boat, onto my pants, soaking in, seeping everywhere that’s uncomfortable for people who sit, if you get my drift. My arms screamed for rest, yet I thought I heard my friends’ voices just moments behind me, egging each other and me into port while I flapped like a drowning non-water bird trying to make forward progress.
I have no idea how long I rowed before the dock appeared, bless it. And getting out would have been much more difficult if I’d thought of how I was going to unboard, but I stood straight up and walked out of that little dinghy.
Thinking about it now, perhaps that method shouldn’t have worked, but adrenaline propelled me up and out and climbing a uniquely steep flight of stairs leading into the boathouse.
I carried the oar and unburdened myself from the wet, too small life jacket, while jogging up to the clerk behind the boathouse counter.
“I need food, I have a friend, she’s sick, any vending machines? Snacks? Anything?” I spit out my needs while the little girl’s eyes widened. She stepped over her dog, the one I didn’t know existed but lay lounging behind the counter, and walked with me into a Barbie sub-kitchen in search of calories and sugar.
She opened the refrigerator.
“I have salsa,” she said, her eyes wide and staring at me in hopes of pleasing me while holding a half jar of Pace. Sensing that not to be the answer, she replaced the container in the fridge door and grabbed an enormous mostly empty jug of peanut butter and held it out to me with the verbal caveat, “We use this to bait rats, so…maybe not…”
No, I shook my head vehemently. “Not” is the appropriate answer.
Clutching at straws to be helpful, the girl turned toward a cabinet door and opened it to Old Mother Hubbard’s nothingness, but for one thing: The Box.
The girl grabbed The Box, a Jell-O brand instant pudding mix, and handed it to me.
“Here,” she said as I gripped the box. “She can … suck on … some of that … down …” as she gesticulated with her arm, motioning downward, a visual representation of ingestion.
With appropriate words of gratitude I fled the building and looked for further assistance.
Nearby sat an OKC squad car, full of one officer and all his equipment, which I hoped included granola.
I ran toward the vehicle, wondering to myself if perhaps the cop might not startle at a chick running through his blind side to land at his open window, so I yelled “Excuse me, excuse me,” as I neared him.
With a sweet but dubious smile, the officer turned to me to see what was up.
I ran down the situation quickly, letting him know my need, and he turned to the right and reached past the passenger seat full of computer components and radio parts in order to grab a small white sack and hand it to me.
I immediately saw the sack and its logo for a local donut shop.
And I laughed internally, because out loud guffaws would be inappropriate.
Sheepishly, this sweet officer said, “Two, two doughnut holes…in there…”
He cleared his throat a little and resumed Official Mode, asking questions like the location of my friend (still floating), her condition (near faint), should he call an ambulance (uuuuum…she would die of embarrassment, and so I say no, but maaaaaaybe …), and then he said he would follow me back to the dock to retrieve the downed lady.
I ran over a nearby bridge and looked down to the water to locate the entourage, and they were still a good distance from the dock.
The officer had driven, following me, and had to turn into a nearby driveway to back up and follow my again running self up and over and down to the dock.
I mentally noted that I should have told him to go straight to the dock instead of following me, but two things: it was kind of cool to be tailed by an officer aiding my distress, and gee, I really did fly down that river, didn’t I? Thank you, Arm Flaps, for your sail-like presence to propel me forward at Mach Minus Two.
(I never thought I’d appreciate the Arm Flaps. I never know what a day will bring.)
Anyway, armed with pudding powder and puffy pastry parts, I met my nearing friends at the dock and handed off the bag of doughnut holes, which my ill pal gladly gulped.
After a few minutes of sitting inert on the floating dock, the sugar hit her bloodstream and allowed her to stand and walk up to the boathouse.
The officer chatted a few minutes and once he was certain my friend was lucid and out of danger, he listened to us make our plans to get her to protein at the local greasy eatery. Then another citizen approached him for further duty call.
As we thanked the officer profusely for his concern and pastry, he parted with the joke, “What good is a cop without doughnuts?”
Bless Irony and Self Awareness. It’s awesome.
And I returned the box of pudding to the kitchen counter. Someone else might need that.

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almond meal versus almond flour: discuss

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In my quest to diversify my son’s burdensome palette pickiness, we went to Sprouts, the coolest healthy market I know. They have things not yet ground, like coffee and nuts and grainy things I can’t pronounce.
Because my brain is getting smarter with the help of Stanford and its online cooking course, I learned of a recipe for Almond Cake that I was certain I must try, and it required almond flour.
Off to the Sprouts, my Bubs in tow, his head buried in the latest Big Nate book, where I went to the Bins of Unknown Things and saw the word “almond”. It looked flour-y. Turns out it was meal-y, as it was Almond Meal.
But hey, I queried, what’s the diff? If I ground this bag of meal, I’d get flour, and I’m certainly not going to ground anything. I have no mortar nor pestle. Screw it.
Let’s get to baking!
Of course all of my kitchen antics turn south. All of them. Just leaning towards the kitchen makes me giggle. This was no exception.
I don’t use my oven except to heat it and then open the door so the warmth will escape and waft to my cold hands while I wait nearby for the Keurig to make my coffee. That’s the extent of its usage.
So did I know how hot my oven bakes? Oh. Sure. It bakes HOT, and that’s all I cared about.
When the recipe called for ten minutes at 350 degrees, that’s what I allowed, but the pudding-ish consistency, the glistening wobble of my cake as I pulled on the oven rack, suggested I let it cook on for a while longer.
I gave it … another twenty minutes.
Yes. That was a bit on the longish side.
Finally when I pulled the steaming mass from the yawning oven, it sank a bit upon the pull. So did my spirits. My Julia Child angel scoffed and said she had other people to help, real cooks, and left me alone with my flattened organic, pesticide free, shelled at birth, almond cake.
Flour means “not grainy”; that’s the definition in the Webster’s of my Mind. Meal means “crap load of grainy”; also see the WoM.
Bubs ran for the hills when he saw my creation. It wasn’t even browned. So imagine a sand hill, peppered with inert teensy bugs coarse through the flakes and bumps of almond bits and you’ll have a fairly accurate description of my cake.
It did NOT look like that in the Stanford kitchen.
Brave as I am, I carried on and attacked the cake with a butter knife, which cut into the remaining air pockets and further flattened my efforts and ego.
“I shall call it a torte!” I declared to the empty room, my knife brandished like a trident, my eyes to the ceiling, my dog sniffing at the table where the cake lay and leaving with a whuff.
Critics.
I TRIED THAT CAKE! and I found it to be … a bit rough on entry, but it smoothed out, it scooted across my taste buds, they didn’t laugh
And after a thoughtful swirl, the cake found its groove.
I must say I find the texture to be different, unexpected, in that crumbly way usually associated with … toast.
No matter! It was warm! It tasted decidedly of almonds, the tiny crumbs, parts left in the bottom of the can that are usually tossed away, but not in this case. I left nothing behind. I ate! I relished! I understand the need for that pesky word “flour”!
And I know my oven doesn’t heat to temp.
So see? I learned.
Thank you again, Stanford.
My oven will now resume its job as Hand Warmer. And my Bubs is a tiny bit pickier now.

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