Wednesday, March 30, 2016

We Made Gelato

When Eddie found out that AF and SMM were going to learn how to make gelato, he thought that we should learn how to, too. Eddie doesn't really eat gelato, so this was a surprising suggestion, but I like gelato so off we went.

The place was small. I had pictured a large industrial kitchen. Instead, we were in more of a galley kitchen, big enough for a long metal table around which about 14 people could stand. Two people to a bowl, we were instructed. Pull your hair back, we were instructed (AF and I already had our hair back). Wash your hands, we were instructed. I like that being clean and hairless was a priority.

After getting some history on gelato and learning how it's different from ice cream (it's kind a healtheir but not really), we did our first round of measuring. Since we'd all be pouring our bowls of gelato mixture into a large bucket (not something I thought was a cooking tool, but apparently, kitchen buckets are a thing), we were supposed to tell each other if we went over or under on an ingredient. This required math in the head. Meaning this required Eddie. We went through several rounds of this, and with each round, the evening out of ingredients became less and less, not because we were getting better at measuring but because we were simply not really doing it.

After each round, we got to taste the flavor that the instructor added in, and somehow, despite the very probably mismeasurements, each tasted yummy.

When all was said and done, each of us got to take home a pint of each. That means Eddie and I brought home 8 pints of gelato: 2 vanilla, 2 chocolate, 2 peanut butter, 2, cookies and cream. We went to my parents straight away and put it in their freezer because we did not need 8 pints of gelato that we weren't going to eat, and they know people who would take it.

Before going home, though, we stopped two doors down to grab lunch. When we walked in, I grabbed Eddie and was like, Do you know where we are? He didn't recognize it, but it was the bar where we first met. Not the bar we were in when he first asked me out, but the bar we were in when he came to meet up with his friend who was dating my friend and we barely spoke. Ah, memories. Anyway, the bar was empty except for maybe two people. We asked if they could hold our gelato in the freezer, and they said they'd hold it in a fridge. Good enough.

And then we got menus and the waitress came over and took our orders and we sat and talked about gelato-making and all kinds of things. Then I wondered aloud if the cook had died in the kitchen because it had been at least a half an hour and we hadn't gotten our food yet. If it had been busy, I wouldn't have thought anything of it. It wasn't busy. We could have asked the waitress to check on the food, but she was gone too. At least ten more minutes went by but then it finally arrived.

Eddie had ordered Parmesan truffle fries, but his plate arrived with regular fries. The waitress realized that it was wrong when she put it down, so she grabbed the wrong fries, apologized, and told him it would be five minutes. He shared my fries. We ate our meals. The Parmesan fries arrived when he was almost done with his burger. We had two of them. They tasted what I imagine a wet sock would taste like.

We wanted dessert. Our empty plates sat in front of us. We chatted about ordering dessert. We chatted about other things. About ten minutes later, the waitress came to clear our plates. We got all excited about ordering dessert. Then we saw the waitress with her coat on about to leave.

She then stopped short at the door and went towards the back of the bar. We figured that maybe she'd forgotten that we were still there. Ha ha. So funny. But no, she then came back into view still with her coat on. She'd forgotten her phone which was now in her hand. And she left. Okay then.

I pondered just leaving but then remembered that our gelato was in their fridge. We were captive. Finally, she came back in and SMM asked for two lava cakes and the check along with them. Smart. Very smart.

They waitress appeared twice. She was kind of checking on us, which was weird because after we ordered the lava cake, the cook must have died again because the waiting took forever. So she was checking on us while we were not eating.

About twenty minutes later, we got lava cake. It was not served with our gelato as we'd half expected, figuring they could cut costs by serving us our own dessert. We finished rather quickly but then had to wait for the bill because she hadn't brought it yet. We started to put our coats on anyway, and as we paid, we asked for our gelato. It was all there. And it was still frozen.

We put it in a cooler for the ride home (Eddie's very good idea), and we tasted it when we got to my parents'. They enjoyed a taste of each. I took a small taste of each, too. Eddie watched us enjoy it. Then we waited until Easter to have a gelato feast. Now there are still four full pints and four half pints left, and I don't think they'll last much longer. The instructor said that we could freeze and thaw it maybe three times before it loses its consistency. When that happens, we make milkshakes.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #12

We'll jump right in here:

finished the short novel that was taking me pretty long to read. I also made a trip to the library and stayed for three hours, reading up a storm about fairies and elves and gnomes and garden gnomes, which are NOT the same thing. Online it was all about Fence, Blunderbuss, Flapperhouse, Queen Mob's Tea House, Electric Literature, The Toast, McSweeney’s, and The Paris Review. Then I listened to the last third of the most recent episode of The Catapult.

I submitted both prose and poetry to websites and journals. The prose got immediately rejected from two places, but I'm waiting on a third. The poetry did not get immediately rejected, though I did receive a few rejections from older submissions. I also received an acceptance, so that evens it out cosmically.

Photo by Kaeti Wigeland. During workshop.
After workshopping with my artist friend this week, I revised some poems. I didn't write any new ones. Research, note-taking, and revising were more my speed this week.

I got the educational freelance gig I applied for last week, so I spent some time this week doing business stuff like printing and signing and scanning contracts for this gig and for the reading I'm doing in CT next month. I also worked on planning some new Poets in Nassau readings and some more of my own.

Staying in my house for the most part has been wonderful. I like staying at home. I rarely get antsy. That means when I get out in the world, it gets to be overwhelming. There are people everywhere! I read for Flapperhouse at the Pacific Standard with a wonderful line-up of writers, and the room had other people in it, and there were people in the bar and people on the street and people everywhere, walking, driving, standing, breathing. Like, lots of people. These were all nice people. At least the ones I met were.

Probably the most out-of-the-ordinary thing I did this week was buy a domain name and start building a website. I enrolled in a free Coursera course about website building, and it shows a lot of step-by-step planning for building something on Wordpress. I'm already familiar with Wordpress as a blogging site--because I'm a blogger--so I jumped in and did it. Pretty soon, all my info will be up at I don't know if I'll keep blogging here or move it totally to there. I mean, I've been blogging on Blogger since 2005, first with Livin' The Dream and now this. Moving out of here completely would be pretty interesting. Terrifying. But also interesting. We'll see how it goes.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Sabbaticalling: Weekly Roundup #11

The Great Germ Infestation of 2016 posed a challenge, (I haven't been sick like this since that terrible case of Casino Cough, but this thankfully hasn't been quite as severe) so this week's plans of 4-dollar-Zumba and poetry readings and live music fell very short (like me!). I stayed in my house in comfy pants, venturing out twice only--once to buy laundry detergent on sale from the CVS and once to return library books that were due. No Ides of March celebration. No St. Patrick's Day cheer. Only me and my throat lozenges and my tissue box on the couch. Everything I had to do sabbatical-wise was doable--sitting, reading, writing--so I still got stuff done.

read a poetry chapbook, a full poetry collection, and more of a very short novel that has no chapters so it's proving a bit difficult to get through. I also read poetry, listicles (which is a thing), articles of inspiration, fiction, and non-fiction on Booth, Blunderbuss, Flapperhouse, The Toast, McSweeney’s, and The Paris Review. Then I listened to 2/3 of the new episode of The Catapult.

I planned to read more. Added to the books I plan to read at Poets House. Began a new list of books relating to fairy tale critters at the local library.

I submitted prose pieces and poems to websites and journals. I queried and submitted Liberating The Astronauts to presses. I updated my writing resume and applied for a freelance writing gig concerning educational materials in literature.

I wrote a lot. Lots of poems. A few prose pieces. Some blog posts. Then revised the poems I wrote. Then I emailed back and forth with my online workshop to revise an older poem.

On the business side, I continued to plan some Poets In Nassau readings. Then I followed up with some readings I'll be doing for two different colleges in Connecticut. Crossing the state line. So much like Kerouac (except for everything).  I also made a plan for creating a new website for myself. Shhh, don't tell Blogger.

So despite fighting through a nasty cold, sabbaticalling was pretty successful.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Mohonk Mountain Magic

A winter getaway during a winter that's acting like spring is PERFECT for two people who don't do well in the cold. While I'm sure many guests were bummed about the record low snow fall in New Paltz, we didn't miss out a bit on snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. It was cold up on the mountain, but not like normal cold for this time of year, and that made the drive up, the stay, and the drive back everything a quick vacay should be.

Driving up was easy. North to New Paltz, bringing back days of undergrad driving double the distance. Given our trips to Cooperstown, Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, I'm getting really familiar with this route. Plus, I'm learning more and more how I ❤️ NY. And this time we got to cross the Tappan Zee, which is my favorite bridge. What? You don't have a favorite bridge?

I was in charge of driving. Eddie was in charge of taking pictures.
When we got to New Paltz, we figured it couldn't be much farther. Technically, it wasn't. However, when you get to a gate house and the friendly attendant tells you that you've still got two miles to go and to stay under 20 MPH because there's no guard rail and it's a curvy mountain, it feels like a bit of a ways.

 I might also point out that despite the sunny weather, the day downstate started out with snow, hence the lovely sheen over the windshield.
Signs of winter in a spring-like March
Finally, we made it to Mohonk Mountain House, and our room was already available for us, so we could settle in. It was a fancy room. It had no television. Instead, it had views. At certain angles, it looked like we were in a castle. Very fancy. We pretended to be totally in our element. (We were totally out of our element: nature + fancy schmancy).
Better than television
That's a bit of snow on the floor of the balcony.

Instead of watching tv, we spent some time figuring out what the hell this is. We still don't know.
Pretty at sunset
Then off we went to explore the house and get some lunch. Lunch on arrival day was not included in our meal plan. The host at the buffet explained that we could purchase lunch for $107 or for lighter fare, we could go to the Carriage Lounge. After Eddie gave a nod of Okay, I was all like, Yeah, and where is this Carriage Lounge? I understand that you have to cover your costs, but there's no way I eat $50 worth of food at a buffet, so I wasn't paying for someone else to chow down on duck and roasted beets (this was not your everyday Golden Corral Buffet).

The Carriage Lounge proved to be our kind of place. Eddie got a burger. I got a veggie panini. The one thing about it that wasn't our kind of place were the children at the table nearby who complained non-stop about how the mom promised to go to the pool and they weren't going to the pool and she didn't promise they were going to the pool and they wanted to go to the pool. Oh, and then one of them came over to the table and stared at me while I was eating. Just stood there and stared. About two feet from me. Eddie, being the more kid-friendly of the two of us, said to him at first, Hey buddy. The kid didn't answer. Instead, he stood there, staring at me. I refused to make eye contact and kept muttering to Eddie that it was getting really weird.

The kid walked away, but then reappeared moments later. Actually, just his head reappeared as he craned it around a wall behind me to stare again from a different angle. All the while, the parents were, well, I don't know. At one point, their smallest child was alone in her high chair, so there's that.

Once we finished, we had time to explore the massive house. Even though it's massive, we ran into the same family about two more times that day. No worries. There was no more staring.
We participated in two activities after exploring. One was a game called CatchPhrase and we played with other guests for about an hour. Eddie called for guys verse girls, and my team did pretty well considering two of the women could not read the word they were supposed to say without the help of glasses or someone whispering it to them. We also had afternoon tea. Mmmm, you know my style, Mohonk.

Both nights offered fancy dinner. That means that two nights in a row, we got all dressed up and went to dinner and then went dancing. The dinner on the first night was the sit-down one, and the second we made it back to the Carriage Lounge to avoid three courses. I also had a glass of wine, which means I got very drunk and took a Zantac and a nap before the music started. Party. Animal.

Fancy night 1
Just because I'm fancy doesn't mean I won't be an idiot.
Fancy night 2
Big Band
We did some slow dancing, but not much other dancing. As you can see, not many people were dancing at all anyway.

In between all the fanciness, we got in some culture. We went over to the Barn Museum at 9 AM, and it was more of an open-air museum, which meant it was 20 degrees and we were out in it.
There he is again!
Because we had to
We also learned about rocks on a geology walk. During the hike, we heard what at first sounded like an animal. It wasn't. It was the ice shifting. The sound is pretty amazing, and every time it happened, we all kind of stopped whatever we were doing and listened. Also, the tour guide climbed into a bush to find a porcupine. He didn't find it.

Icy Lake
Sky Hall--Had it been warmer, we may have hiked up to it.
Frozen, we stood by a fireplace as soon as we got back inside. We found a favorite fireplace in the library on the first floor.
At lunch, I had the fancy food and Eddie, well, he found  heaven:
Taken covertly
Later on, we went for another walk to see the greenhouse. On the way back, we found a sign that said Maze Entrance, but we didn't find a maze unless it was a really bad maze that had no beginning or end. We walked all the way around to the lake side to get in some sun, and then headed back inside to sit at the fireplace.
Partially frozen only
I made it!
Later on, we played a rousing game of Connect Four. Then we played a fantastic game of Scrabble. Basically, our time at Mohonk consisted of walking around, eating, pretending to be fancy, and relaxing by a fire. This is the essence of "getaway." The next day, we had breakfast and then headed on home. But first, a short stop in New Paltz.
More friends
Reeeeeaaaallllll fancy.