What’s the Story, Morning Glory?

When my mother and I opened our first mortgage company together, before I'd ever heard of MUSHing, or met Fuzzy, or even owned my OWN computer, we were a net branch of a major wholesale lender with headquarters in Citrus Heights, which meant we had to go there every few months for training on new products, or seminars on things like “How to Underwrite Self-Employed Borrowers” or “Understanding VA Loans” (the latter was an all day seminar, which might have been fine for the people that still needed calculators to figure out income, but drove me nuts).

To make the trips less horrific, we developed the habit of staying in frou-frou hotels, picking interesting restaurants, and, every morning on the way to the main offices, or out of town, we'd stop at this great little independent espresso shop for triple mochas and morning glory muffins, which don't actually have morning glory IN them (you can't eat morning glories, after all). Instead, they're pumpkin muffins with raisins and nuts, and sometimes they come with a sugar glaze, and sometimes they don't.

Tonight, because I wanted to bake something kind of autumnal, and because there's been this can of pumpkin calling to me from the depths of the pantry for several weeks now, I found a pumpkin bread recipe, tweaked it by using whole wheat flour instead of white, and mixing brown and granulated sugars, and adding walnuts and raisins in place of pecans. It's cooling now, and the whole house smells of nutmeg, cinnamon, and spicey secrets. I haven't yet decided if I'll be glazing the loaves or not – I like it both ways, and as it's a breakfast bread, it doesn't need to be horribly sweet – but I'm eager for morning, when I'll get to slice the end, toast it, slather it in butter, and nibble on it while I sip my morning chai.

In honor of those muffins I used to eat in Citrus Heights, I've named this Morning Glory Bread (it's important to continue the tradition of naming the bread after an unrelated substance, and anyway, morning glories are a favorite flower in my family.) I'd invite you all to come to breakfast and try it, but my house isn't quite that large, however, I'm happy to provide the recipe for the bread – both the original version, and my own.

In other news, my interview from Wednesday the 26th has earned me a 2nd interview with the actual company, a week from Friday (after month-end reporting). I'm crediting the bread with this glorious news :)

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  1. Have felt vaguely tired all day, and alternately too hot and too cold.
  2. Have another job interview tomorrow.
  3. Posted another installment in my Snape/OFC series to MoonChilde, and fanfiction.net, though the latter won't actually show it til some time tomorrow.
  4. Have the outline for my NaNoWriMo project in my head and am translating it to paper. The working title is What's the Interest Rate for Love?. Yes, please mock.
  5. Smallville rocked tonight. Nothing is funnier than James Marsters saying, “There's no such thing as vampires.”
  6. Tired. Bed now.

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Catching Up

I looked at the calendar in my sidebar just a moment ago and realized it's been three days since I last posted, and that surprised me, a little, because usually I'm extremely aware of when and how often I post.

(Actually, I posted to the book blog, so LiveJournal and OD readers saw a post more recent than three days ago, but direct readers did not.)

* * * * *

It's not that I haven't got stuff to say, because I do. I'm enjoying watching fall get settled in, loving the warm days, the cool nights, the end of air conditioning, but I'm in a writing mode more than a blogging mode – have been outlining for NaNoWriMo, and dabbling in TNG and HP fanfic just to stretch my dialogue muscles. It's weird. When I'm comfortable around people I can babble incessantly with them, and I'm always making mental soundbites of snippets I hear on the street, when there's a neat turn of phrase or an interesting accent or cadence, but despite that, I really don't like writing dialogue…which is a big dilemma when one is concentrating on fiction.

* * * * *

After nearly being decapitated by a seatbelt yesterday while we were entering the Dallas Tollway, I've decided that my next CarSeek piece will be on seatbelts and child seats and things like that. I mean, we all know about putting small kids in the back seat, but there's far more to it than that.

* * * * *

The neighborhood dogs have moved beyond mere barking to barking and howling. Mournful howling that happens all through the night (though, in fits, not constantly), and makes my own dogs restless. If nothing else, it's shown me that Cleo is not as barky as the majority of the other dogs around here. In fact, she's been pretty quiet lately, but I think that may be the turn of seasons – she seems to have a cold.

* * * * *

I've been doing a lot of personal evaluation as well, trying to decide if I really want to return to that whole 8-5, working for other people thing. It's tough. More money is good. But despite the current tightness of our budget, I love my life, I'm just not using my time to full advantage, and there's a project in the works that could be potentially lucrative, but will take a month or two to kick in. Decisions, decisions.

* * * * *

Fuzzy's working from home today, as he has two conference calls and a doctor's appt, and I feel like my activity is being curtailed because of it, I need music and sound to keep me going when I'm in moods like this, and yet, I don't want to disturb him too much.

Soundproofing. We must look into it.

And on that note, I shall click “publish” and go make some oatmeal. I love oatmeal.

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The Baker’s Apprentice

The Baker's Apprentice

Judith Ryan Hendricks

I was first introduced to Ms. Hendricks' work through the novel Bread Alone, which I mostly read in a single night in a hotel in L.A. that had an extremely uncomfortable mattress. That book was warm and funny, and when I finished it, I was inspired to bake bread for the first time in years, so when I discovered that a sequel was published this year, I immediately added it to my amazon wishlist, and then ordered it when I spent the birthday gift certificates I'd amassed.

I regret to confess – I'm disapponted in the sequel. The Baker's Apprentice lives up to all those negative stereotypes of second novels, and while the old familiar characters – Wynter who fled her cheating husband in L.A. and moved to Seattle to bake bread, her friend and sometime roomate, the dancer CM, young blue-haired art school dropout and cake decorator, Tyler, andMac the bartender/novelist who wins Wynter's heart – are all there, they seem pale shadows of their earlier selves, and instead of coming away from this book feeling cozy and wanting to sip coffee and smell bread baking, I feel cold and sort of hollow and unsatisfied.

If Bread Alone was a perfectly flakey croissant with sweet cream butter and bitter dark marmalade, The Baker's Apprentice is Wonder bread – bland, spongey, and utterly lacking in color.

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Lapsang Souchong

Inspired by Sky

Lapsang Souchong and I go way back, well, twenty years back, anyway. I first discovered it on a family trip to Carmel, when I discovered the coolest little tea shop. In my head I refer to it as the magic tea shop because I've been there twice but no one else ever knows what store I mean, or is able to find it. It's like a personal Brigadoon.

The tea itself is sort of the unofficial tea of the beatnik generation, which gives it a poetic and literary reputation that I quite like. Also, in my mental picture dictionary beatniks are always wearing black turtlenecks and berets, even if they don't always look like a very young Bob Denver, and as I'm partial to black turtlenecks and berets you can see the obvious attraction.

The tea itself is dark and smokey, sort of fire roasted. It makes me think of dark cafes with plate glass windows shielding diners from sleet and grey skies, and a crackling fire, with tables circled round it, and open mic nights, with poetry slams. It's great with milk, not so great with sugar, and unlike Earl Grey, better without coming near a lemon. It reminds me a little of Russian blend, which can smell almost like bacon, it's so smokey.

To read more about the tea itself, go here.

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Reading Report – Sept/Oct 2005

As predicted, it's been a lazy day here. Neither of us are feeling great, and Fuzzy's been in an antihistamine haze. We ventured out, in fact, only to feed my addiction to frou-frou coffee.

I have, finally, updated my book blog at Zenitopia.com, with nine of the eleven books I've read since my last update, on September 11th. (Two were Silhouette novels read strictly for research purposes, and I haven't listed them.)

Also, only the last three were allowed to filter to LiveJournal.

Here's the list, in roughly chronological order.
For my comments, please see the book blog:

  1. Eats, Shoots & Leaves, Lynne Truss
  2. Star Trek Titan: Taking Wing, Michael A. Martin & Andy Mangels
  3. Forgiveness: Wisdom from Around the World, Gillian Stokes
  4. Egalia's Daughters, Gerd Brantenberg
  5. Kushiel's Avatar, Jacqueline Carey
  6. Miracle, Danielle Steel
  7. The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, Lilian Jackson Braun
  8. The Cat Who Went Bananas, Lilian Jackson Braun
  9. Atlantis Found, Clive Cussler

And to answer the question asked by Mr. Parallelogram at Open Diary, I'm currently reading The Baker's Apprentice, by Judith Ryan Hendricks – it's the sequel to an old favorite of mine, Bread Alone.

The rest of the books on my nightstand are listed in the sidebar at the bookblog.

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Atlantis Found

Atlantis Found (A Dirk Pitt Novel)

Clive Cussler

My friend Rana mentioned the movie Sahara, and Clive Cussler books as a guilty pleasure in one of her blog entries, so when I saw several of his books on the library shelf, I picked one at random.

Atlantis Found reimagines the typical lost society of Atlantis and ties them together with a group of Nazi survivors hiding in South America and plotting to take over the world – on the surface not terribly original, except that it's a Dirk Pitt novel which means there are exotic locations and cool gadgets and a sort of Indiana Jones / James Bond sense of fun.

I enjoyed the book a lot, but couldn't talk about it because I knew it would be the type of thing Fuzzy would enjoy, and, indeed, he's been reading it all weekend. I'm not sure I could read Cussler in large doses, but every so often, a visit with Mr. Pitt might not be ill-advised.

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The Cat Who Went Bananas

The Cat Who Went Bananas

Lilian Jackson Braun

From the first Cat Who… book, I jumped to one of the more recent, as I'd lost track of the series several years ago, and felt the need to catch up. Qwilleran and the cats (KoKo aquired a female partner a few books into the series) are in the tiny town of Pickax now, and the characters woven through this story are mostly old friends.

It involves a local production of The Importance of Being Earnest, bananas, bookstores, and real estate.

Enough said.

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