Friday, May 27, 2011

Funny How it All Falls Away

Yesterday at the candle shoppe (I've been working there a lot lately, so it's only appropriate that my mind drifts to these experiences), a middle-aged woman came in with a large bag of products that she wanted to return. At first, I did the typical internal dialogue that any retail associate would about people needing to figure out what they want before they leave the store and deal with the buyer's remorse before they make a purchase,etc. This woman then relayed to me that she was assisting in the return for her mother, who was cleaning out her elderly sister's (this woman's aunt's) home. The sister, who had never been married nor had any children, was moving to a nursing home and the niece knew she would never return from there.

There were large candles, small candles, and teeny candles in scents like apple cinnamon and pumpkin--those scents that people often identify with family, home and hearth. It was a familiar smell of comfort and solace that wafted to my nose as I dumped out the enormous bag and surveyed its contents, but these scents hardly comforted me after the story behind them was revealed.

We all grow older and deal with the consequences of our younger actions and mistakes. A drunken fall in youth can easily lead to a lifetime of dull pain that is exacerbated by the rain. A empassioned decision to remove someone from your life then, could lead to a lifetime of remorse and make you a lonely curmudgeon in your twilight years. This bag of candles, more so than my inability to contribute any money to a retirement account, made me question my own decisions and mortality.

The niece said that her aunt could still drive until just recently, and did everything herself. I mean, who else was going to do it? Now, in so many ways, she's at the mercy of people who love her, I'm sure, but resent how this massive project has disrupted their own lives. When Dustin and I are this age, who will clean out our home and return our candles?

People often quip about how they have children in order to have someone that is obligated to take care of them when they are demented, but I'll bet some of those people aren't really joking. I resented the notion of that obligation when I was younger, but as I get older and see the logistics of aging a lot clearer, I must admit that I'm a little uneasy about not only not having my own offspring to shoulder the agonies of aging with me, but also obligating Dustin's daughter to a responsibility that shouldn't be hers. It's quite a fence to sit upon. And I'm still not having kids.

There are constant arguments about how the world deals with the aged, especially when the young cannot find work or provide for their young families. As the majority of the population grows older and people continue to have smaller families, I cannot help but feel that we're totally fucked on both a personal and social level.

When it's time to return my candles, I'm going out on the ice flow (eskimo-style), and you can burn my house down. Just take the cats out first.

Help the aged,
one time they were just like you,
drinking, smoking cigs and sniffing glue. Help the aged,
don't just put them in a home,
can't have much fun in there all on their own.

Give a hand, if you can,
try and help them to unwind.
Give them hope & give them comfort 'cos they're running out of time.

*In the meantime we try.
Try to forget that nothing lasts forever. No big deal so give us all a feel.
Funny how it all falls away.
When did you first realise?
It's time you took an older lover baby. Teach you stuff
although he's looking rough.
Funny how it all falls away.

Help the aged
'cos one day you'll be older too
- you might need someone who can
pull you through
& if you look very hard
behind the lines upon their face you may see where you are headed
and it's such a lonely place.

You can dye your hair
but it's the one thing you can't change.
Can't run away from yourself, yourself...

Funny how it all falls away. [x3]
So help the aged.
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Trendy Rant

The candle shoppe released a collage about current trends that are selling in the retail community. Words like, "heritage," "nostalgia," and "vintage," littered the pages along with a huge, "authenticity," a lovely, "value," and a fancy "quality." Etsy-esque palettes of grays and muted nature-inspired tones are the colors that pair seamlessly with angry toads, Audubon birds and lots and LOTS of foliage that manages to edge both indie and whimsy simultaneously.

What was the turquoise jewelry and befringed purses of the boho revolution of three years ago, is now the delicate floral prints and artisan headbands of today.

If the currently decorating styles had a poster-child, it would be Tim Holtz. The man that has managed to build quite a following from tea-dying ephemera and knowing exactly where to place steampunk chipboard juxtaposed to sassy-looking rabbits.

It's all well and good that there are hoards of women running into Anthropologie and Restoration Hardware to buy overpriced distressed merchandise that looks like they've rescued and revitalized it themselves (as if! They don't have time to ACTUALLY  do that, they're really busy working seven hundred hours a week to pay for the daycare that could be eliminated if they would stay the fuck home, stop buying shit from Restoration Hardware and watch their own goddamned monster-children). I fail to see the "authenticity," in these actions. People always want "quality," items that cost next to nothing that can be further reduced with a coupon. They want their entire lives to be an episode of extreme couponing (fuck that show), but out of the opposite side of their mouth they want products made in America by companies that use environmentally sound production methods and pay their employees a living wage. Mmmmkay.

Like Richard Nixon's head quipped on an episode of Futurama, "Computers may be twice as fast as they were in 1973, but your average voter is as drunk and stupid as ever."

It's terribly darling that everyone wants their wardrobes and homes to appear as though they're in touch with nature, gentrification (another one of those terms that people loooovve that is really a dressed-up synonym for racism), and public radio, but if it came down to bull-dozing a bird sanctuary (or displacing a bunch of brown people) for another Pottery Barn, this country's citizens would do it in a minute. Where can you buy that lawn furniture that looks as though you rescued it from 1940s Provence (it's a steal at only $300 a chair!)? Think of how envious your family and neighbors will be when you invite them over for fair-trade coffee and buckwheat carob-chip cupcakes with tofu icing (although these days, everyone wants fondant in the shape of toadstools or wacky turtles, right)? I mean, why not? You had a groupon for the local bakery (not that you'd ever go there again, did you see how expensive it was?!).

Why does any of this apply to candles? What if my candles aren't sincere? What if they're not the right shade of tan/gray?

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

No Bread? Oh, Well Here's a Cookie

So I haven't purchased bread for my home in the last month. I've been relying solely on tortillas for sweet tofurkey and provolone roll-ups. Today's even featured some basil from my Aerogarden. Hot Dog! See, I'm already off on a tangent.

I was at the fancy grocery store and  I was swindled by the option of grinding my own almond butter. Not only does this machine have an old fashioned look with a fancy hopper that holds oodles of delicious slivered almonds, but the store also places this contraption in the middle of the produce section so that you feel as though they health benefits of this product will outweigh the fact that it is stupidly expensive. Apparently, that's all I needed, because I ended up coming home with a container of almond butter. I took it out of the bag and I realized that I haven't eaten a sandwich in over a month. What in blue blazes am I going to do with all of this almond butter? I mean, it's delicious on a banana, but not an entire container's worth.

I haven't baked in a while, so I set my skills (and my Kitchen Aid Mixer) to work and I made some delicious Almond Butter Cookies (excuse the slightly crappy photos. My new camera needs batteries). After finding a recipe online, I altered the ingredients a little to fit the ingredients on-hand, used some of the tricks from my grandmother's peanut butter cookie recipe, and came up with this recipe.

1 Cup Butter
1 Cup Almond Butter
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter with Honey
1 Cup White Sugar
1 Cup packed Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
2 3/4 Cups Flour
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1 Teaspoon Vanilla

Cream Together butter, almond butter, peanut butter, vanilla and sugars until fluffy (this takes a long time, so don't skimp on the beating. It makes a big difference in the end product). Beat in eggs. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and mix those ingredients into the batter. Refrigerate for one hour. Roll 1" balls into white sugar and make cross-hatch pattern with a fork. Bake @ 350 for 9-10 minutes or until golden brown.

One thing that adding extra flour did not compensate for was Almond Butter's oily consistency and this caused some of the batches to spread a great deal. No worries! These first batches are a little crispier and will suit the tastes of those that must have coffee with cookies.

I skipped cross-hatching the other batches, only put sugar on the tops of the cookies (for a crackled look), and piled them high! With a longer cooking time, they turned out nicely. It's almost as if I got two different kinds of cookies from the same batter.

Now, I can't be sure that my solution to not eating sandwiches is really solved by making what is essentially a sugar cookie rolled in sugar (in fact, I fairly positive it doesn't), but they're quite delicious. The Almond butter has a lovely flavor and the ground up almonds give the cookies a really fancy look that sets them apart from the traditional recipe that uses only creamy peanut butter.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When I Miss Dustin, I Like to Think About Things Like This

"My name is Richard Sakai and i'm an anesthesiologist. This song is for my wife Patty. Hi Patty!"
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Monday, May 23, 2011


I signed up for another Artist Trading Card Challenge: one Star Wars card and one Star Trek card. Considering that the Star Trek card would be much easier, I took the challenge of the Star Wars card, head-on.

I'm not the biggest Star Wars fan that every lived, but I do enjoy watching, "The Empire Strikes Back," in the middle of summer when it's three-thousand degrees. All of the snow on Hoth really puts me in the right frame of mind. Unlike Star Trek, I find most of the main characters in Star Wars to be wildly annoying and one-dimensional, except Darth Vader. I can totally relate to a guy like that, even if he is insanely evil. With that being said, I made a Leia card (yeah, I'm not sure how my mind works, either).

The holographic paper that I used in the background doesn't make for a very flattering photo, but it looks pretty sweet in real-life. I used the scraps of wrapping paper that I used to cover another craft project, and I'm feeling pretty self-righteous about my recycling for another craft project.

What is it about the buns that seem so enchanting?

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Honey, Please.

The slippery cosmetic slope has completely engulfed me. Earlier this week, I managed to drive myself all the way to the fanciest mall in Pittsburgh (it was a Nordstrom and EVERYTHING). Normally, I have no problem driving myself anywhere that I need to go, but for some reason, I had this insane mental block about going to this place that is exceedingly easy to get to. After a bit of self-talk, I got in the car and drove myself there, which was a great accomplishment in the face of my own self-defeatism (is that a word? well, it is now).

I was going there originally to visit the L.L. Bean store (because I am a ninety year old retiree) and see if they carried Plus Sizes at the retail level. Of course they didn't. While L.L. Bean does have quite a selection of merchandise online, free shipping and the ability to return to the store, I'm kind of miffed that it doesn't provide at least a smattering of the clothes that are available online. Without getting too political about fat rights, it's kind of insulting that fat women are forced into their homes and onto their soulless computers to be able to find clothes to wear. That is, if it's beyond anything made by Just My Size, Lane Bryant and Alfred Dunner. Actually it's not kind of insulting, it's just insulting. I guess I should just be happy that I'm not openly beat in the street, instead of just being verbally abused openly in the street. It's cool, though, I guess this is how white people get to know what it's like to be judged and persecuted based solely upon your appearance. Dr. House said it best,

"See, skinny socially privileged white people get to draw this neat little circle, and everyone inside the circle is normal, anyone outside the circle should be beaten, broken and reset so they can be brought into the circle. Failing that, they should be institutionalized or worse, pitied."

This was supposed to be a post about lip gloss.

I went to Sephora and tried on Clinique's "Black Honey," again. I've been against lip gloss as a genre for quite some time, because it is often sticky and glassy with that greasy looking smear that makes me think of street-walkers and drag queens (not that they're bad people. I just don't want to have lips like theirs). Gina, who had come to the fancy mall to hang out for a bit and get a really nice dress from Talbot's, finally convinced me that I needed to purchase this item that actually lives up to the claim of looking good on everyone.

Since my makeup revolution, I've gotten several compliments on my choices and I'm feeling better than ever about my appearance with our without makeup, clothes from L.L. Bean, or the ability to shop in a store like a human being. Yay for settling for second-best!

Before going to work at the Candle Shoppe yesterday, Gina and I were having coffee and chatting and three middle-aged women walked by looking dumpy: like the portrait of three women that had given up and just accepted the societal role that had been thrust upon them by their country, their spouses and their time. I immediately thought of the line in John (nee Johnny Cougar) Mellancamp's "Pink Houses."

There's a black Man
With a black cat
Livin' in a black neighborhood.
He's got an interstate runnin' through his front yard
You know he thinks he's got it so good

Then she brought up people's inability to understand the irony of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA," when they blather on and on about patriotism in America.

Born down in a dead man's town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that's been beat too much
'Til you spend half your life just covering up

Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

I got in a little hometown jam
And so they put a rifle in my hands
Sent me off to Vietnam
To go and kill the yellow man


Come back home to the refinery
Hiring man says "Son if it was up to me"
I go down to see the V.A. man
He said "Son don't you understand"


I had a buddy at Khe Sahn
Fighting off the Viet Cong
They're still there, he's all gone
He had a little girl in Saigon
I got a picture of him in her arms

Down in the shadow of the penitentiary
Out by the gas fires of the refinery
I'm ten years down the road
Nowhere to run, ain't got nowhere to go

I'm a long gone Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.
I'm a cool rocking Daddy in the U.S.A.
Born in the U.S.A.

When did we settle for this? I don't remember signing anything.
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