Monday, August 9, 2010

And back to Denver

As many of you know, we moved back to Denver in mid-July. Our rental house boasts none of the squeaky wooden floorboards or unopenable ancient windows of the old. Of course that's only because nobody rents a house that needs fixin'. This one is completely move-in ready, painted, recarpeted and the works. Smaller with a tiny fenced yard, no garden, no basement storage. It's all very dull but with a view of the city from high on Green Mountain.

I got lost a bunch of times trying to find a shortcut out of our neighborhood. This was before looking at a map and realizing there were no shortcuts. I was trying to avoid the winding road with speedbumps that takes us up the hill, but there is simply no skipping it. The farmers market here is thick with stalls of nonfood items (public back massage, anyone?), adoptable pets wearing orange vests, and expensive, organic fruit. I can't help comparing prices with dismay to my much-missed midwestern vendors. Oy. Also, no one sells pie. I'd open a booth if I could possibly manage the work involved in setting up around my watermelon belly. Plus I'm really not missing the swollen feet of my last few weeks baking in Kansas.

I am sad to see this blog go. It's been a lovely outlet for my reluctant adventures in rural living, some of which I am surprised to miss.

Yesterday I saw a man riding his bike while smoking a cigarette and wondered for a moment where I was. It seems so very Kansas and yet, nope, I was walking toward the open space of William Hayden Park, where deer graze on the hillside. I finally waved at him. It's what we small town folk do.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Moving in July

Testing the new camera's autofocus. Need longer arms.

It's been two years almost exactly since we packed up our two cars-worth of junk, stuffed the furniture in P.O.D. storage, and moved to the humid depths of Kansas. And now it feels like hitting reverse. Yes, we'll be using a moving van this time, armed with actual movers who do the heavy lifting, and re-routing our daily lives to a mountain rental in Evergreen, Colorado, but the general location is the same. It feels good, but strange.

Our open house this weekend brought some real prospects alongside the nosy neighbors. Not that I was waiting around to be annoyed by either — I shot out of here like the house was on fire. But after three months on the market, I'm ready for some interest to come out of all this housecleaning. It's difficult to live when I can't be as messy as I am. I haven't made my bed voluntarily for months, just to compensate for keeping the rest of the house shipshape. It's an easy fix if someone calls for a viewing and it makes me feel more empowered.

The screamer

Also, I'm nearly seven months pregnant and dying to get out of the Kansas heat. Literally dying, like melting away. Janelle and I went to the dog park at Shawnee Mission, and Poppy got such severe leg cramps from the heat that she screamed like a pig, something I've never heard any dog do, much less this particular dog who makes zero noise at all even when hurt. We turned to look for the noise and found her flat on her back in the grass, legs pointed up to the sky. When Janelle wasn't looking, I cried a little. I never knew dogs could get leg cramps, much less from my absolute neglect to shield her from the formidable heat of racing through the dog park in 87º weather. The vet visit was more of a verbal spanking, though I was so relieved she wasn't dying that I didn't mind. He said that dogs can't cool themselves by panting when it's this humid out — like no lower than 85% for weeks — then he prescribed that Poppy can't walk, climb stairs or play for a week. She's driving me crazy, and I'm sure I've explained it to her a dozen times.

Don't worry, folks. I'm fine.

Every morning when I leave work at the bakery, I load the dogs into the car and drive out to the south trailhead, hoping to beat the sunshine at the most shaded part of the trail. But nowdays it's at least 85º, even at 7 am, and so miserably humid that it's hazy. So, yeah, I can't wait to get back to the dry Denver heat, especially with the views of my Evergreen rental tantalizing me from its website (George saw it in person, not me). Even the black raspberry bushes I discovered trailside last week don't tempt me to stay longer, and if you knew of my raspberry obsession you would know just how bad that is.

Ziti: Do I look like a biter?

How about now? You're gonna miss me, Kansas.

We're counting down the days until the movers can come — haven't actually scheduled a date yet, pending our assessment this week. Much as I've loved this sweet little house and the bountiful farmers market produce, I'll be glad to skip part of a Kansas summer.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Worrisome Weather

If you've been reading here in the past two years, you'll know I'm afraid of tornadoes. In particular, Kansas tornadoes. When storms get awful in the country, my cell service dumps me immediately, then the cable goes, and finally the power shuts down entirely. This leaves me to rely upon whoever's job it is to turn on the tornado siren. I worry that he's not even come in to work that day, much less that he can see the twister undulating in the pitch blackness of the storm. I do not want to meet this person because then I will never trust that he can do the job of switching the siren on in time to warn me.

When we had storms in Minnesota, I remember the neighbors coming outside and assessing the cloud cover. Parents discussed whatever they talk about before storms strike while the kids tried to muck in the ditch water as deep as possible before the parents noticed (and yelled). Often we'd head over to one neighbor's house and have a basement picnic while the storm battered away outside. It seemed more friendly than the Kansas storms do now. Here I do not see anyone so much as poke a head through the doorway as I stand on the porch and do my 360º assessment of the sky. Do I know what I'm looking for? Not really. Clouds that look mean.

So, to prevent the disaster catching me unawares, I retreat to the basement early. "Prematurely," some might say. Siren or no. I light my candles and bring a snack and get comfy on the futon with a book to read. I even bring my phone, since I might get service back eventually. My position helps me to ensure that the sump pump is working, despite spotty power. When the wind takes a breather, I'll poke my head upstairs and see how dark it is. If I can see the flower baskets on the porch swinging, it's probably okay to venture upstairs. If not, back into the hole.

This year I've been fortunate and have only visited my concrete kingdom twice. Once I barely got the first candle lit before the power died. (Incidentally this occurred during the season finale of Glee, which I still need to watch online.) The second time I went downstairs a good half hour before I heard the tornado siren's distinctive wail.

As I write this, I've been listening to the grumble of approaching thunder, awaiting yet another severe thunderstorm. But I am ready, if need be, to race for the basement. Wish we had a bathroom down there.

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I'm back. Sort of. The bakery opening has smashed my usual schedule. Between trying to find cooking implements in an unsettled, working kitchen, getting the actual baking completed and then summoning the energy to attack my design jobs waiting at home, I'm drained by 4 p.m. Thank goodness for free cappuccinos or my office calendar might look like the rest of the house (pretty tousled).

I shared in my last post that the bakery was scheduled to open two weeks ago. But instead of opening on Monday, they opened Friday. So Sunday morning when I came in to get a head start on the bread, a thick layer of dust covered the furniture we'd so carefully unveiled and organized two nights earlier. Luckily, one of the owners was there and told me our opening had been delayed before I got started. Of course, I went home and back to bed. Happily.

The building inspection was last Thursday afternoon, and we passed. So last Friday was my first 3 a.m. wakeup, and the kitchen was in chaos. Aside from the mess and garbage bags covering utensils, our ovens run 100º hotter than set, and the temps continue to rise the longer they're on. I'm used to keeping an eye on things, but it gets ridiculous. And you can imagine how hot the kitchen was before we got the vent running this week. Every morning when I get in, things have been rearranged, shelves added, different ingredients put in generic and opaque food-safe containers, sinkfuls of dishes await, and, often, ladders and hand tools block counterspace.

This morning I spent half an hour searching for the measuring spoons. I knew exactly where they were the rest of the week. I almost drove home and fetched one teaspoon — all I really needed. It would have been faster. Then the pilot lights in the oven were out because they were fixing it yesterday. I am afraid of lighting those. Not only afraid, I couldn't find matches or even where the light lived. I had to wait until a cook came in to show me. (It was embarrassingly simple, once you know where to look. Pushing buttons, no matches.) But after sitting half an hour, my muffins refused to rise in the oven and had to be tossed. The first of many flops, I'm sure, but it couldn't have happened on a worse day. I blew a fuse using the mixer to make foccacia bread, of course after all the ingredients were inside of it. Then I saw the mouse.

Longest story short, I've made it through four of the jobs on my design queue today. But it's 11 a.m., my caffeine buzz has evaporated, and it's time for a nap.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Busy, busy baker to be

Oh yeah, the bakery is slated to open on February 15, and I have a key!

Yesterday, I made my last go-round of the kitchen area, pleased with the large pantry stocked with flours and sugars and cleaned baking equipment, things that make a baker's heart go pitter-pat. I am missing a mixer (alarm bells ringing in my head) and a pastry cutter (there's no food processor), so for now I'll sacrifice my $3.99 Target model to the cause of scones. The idea of whipping cream by hand isn't pleasing, however. This will need to be remedied.

There were a dozen people sweeping the floor and assembling tables and stools in the great room, plus more working on the bathroom plumbing, a few more adding lights to the main dining area, and the cooks in the kitchen making soup for their first catered event. Frayed nerves were visible. Luckily, I had no part in them. I merely wandered to check off my ingredients and hope that the refrigerator and pantry items were out of those nondescript boxes before I needed to hunt for things, and found myself imagining what it will be like to wake up at 3:30 a.m. again. Honestly, it's been a long, long time since I got up that early. After all, I am not yet 85.

So next Sunday, I'll happily walk three blocks to a beautifully refinished building as the night grows gentle and try to remember where to find the lights at 4 a.m. Then I'll bake several pans of focaccia for sandwiches, and start croissants and danish dough, and test out the espresso machine, and probably take some pictures of the place all quiet and organized (just because I'm a dork like that, and also because you far-aways are curious). And then, like I used to do, I plan to enjoy the peace of moving around in familiar, friendly ingredients, the heat of the oven at my back, as I get to bake loads of pretty, yummy things before heading home to say goodbye to George and read through breakfast.

Friday, January 29, 2010

30 Days of . . . Yoga

With the parentals arriving amid this afternoon's winter storm watch, I've got maybe twenty spare minutes between preparations and stocking up in case of snow-in. I should be working. I'd rather be reading. Scratch that, lunch sounds the best.

I've been reviewing several yoga books lately and stumbled onto a genius book of routines with times attached and real people showing off the poses. Yay. Much easier to check posture than on my previous favorite book's stick figure guide. I've tried to incorporate yoga into my everyday life, people, really I have. It's hard. Five minutes of quick stretching is the easiest thing ever to scratch off the to-do list. And who cares? Well, my toes for one. See, I haven't touched them in, mmmm, maybe ever. I remember being a nine-year-old gymnastic attendee who could do straddle splits no problem but not touch her toes without bending the knees. It got worse from there, especially after breaking my femur in the ninth grade and hobbling on crutches for months. Not like I was really making an effort at that point. Once a year at the presidential fitness test in gym class, I'd whip out a painful toe touch under duress. And now, even post run when I'm all warmed up, my hands are about 6" from my toes after serious effort.

But I've decided that this is the year for me and my toes to patch up our differences. Starting on Monday, I'm going to complete 20 minutes of yoga every day for 30 days. My hope is that it will limber me up, maybe narrow my hand-to-toe margins by an inch or two. I've read that practicing a few minutes every day is more effective than doing a 90-minute class once or twice/week. I'm out to test that theory. Stay posted.