Saturday, November 17, 2007

Token

Woo, another token post!

Tomorrow you will hear about fencing and Texas.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

back

Back from Texas. More when I am not sleep-deprived.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Word Count

Exhausted. 7,197 words. More than 1000 words behind where I should be; was lazy today. Hope to finish before bed - shooting for 8,337. Writing in half-sleep state; metaphors are strange and imagery is deep and viscous enough to drown. Probably not a good thing.

More on that later.

Results

HOLY CRAP. SWEET GLORIOUS SUCCESS.

I can die happy. I have made the most delicious thing known to man. This bread... my whole apartment smells of yeast and cinnamon... it's cooked perfectly all the way through... I just can't take the deliciousness. Holy crap. Just... holy crap. I win at everything.

More bread

I got kind of adventurous with bread today. I used a base recipe that was sort of an amalgam of Homesick Texan and another bread-making site that I found, and substituted whole wheat flour. Also, when I rolled it into a loaf, I sprinkled cinnamon all over it first. We'll see how it turns out... it's in the oven now.

Additionally, bread dough, when it's being mixed, is really pretty evocative of some kind of diseased internal organ. As you add flour to it and stir, you develop these flattened lobes that don't mix because they're floured, but press together, kind of like the lobes of a liver or a lung. And the pasty color and yeasty smell (otherwise pleasant when you aren't thinking about organs) really add to the effect. That said, I wish my liver smelled like fresh bread. I can't imagine it would change any facet of my life at all, or even be noticeable, but it would be a cool thing to know.

Current word count is 6,264, but it's early yet.

Update

I am not asleep. This is patently unacceptable. Also, no matter what this blog post gives as its time, it is in fact 4:04 AM.

The latest word count is 6,072. I'm only 600 words behind now, and that's pie. I can take care of that tomorrow, and then I'll be "sitting pretty," as Cary Grant said so many times today when we watched His Girl Friday. The wind has kicked up outside, and I can't tell whether it's raining, or just the rustling of dry leaves. The patterns on the binary clock that sits on the bookshelf are mesmerizing; it still says 5:08, because we haven't changed it yet. We didn't know what time it was until after 11:30 this morning.

The living room looks much messier in the dark than it actually is. Lots of things on the floor and on low shelves have little LEDs, and show up brightly. The streetlight comes in through the window, filtered by the tree outside, and makes shadows where there shouldn't be. Wires on the floor show up thick and tangled, and you have to be especially careful not to trip.

I just finished reading John Steinbeck's The Pearl, and I can't get the ending scene out of my head. Might be why I can't sleep. It wasn't a happy ending.

The tree branches are tapping on the windows in the living room, and the red lights of the binary clock are reflected in the glass. It's like something out of a horror movie, all red glowing eyes and ominous sounds, come to eat you. The banging radiators aren't helping. I never knew about radiators, because we don't have them at home. I had never seen one until I came to college. They're nice, in a feline kind of way, in that there's a discrete source of warmth that you can cozy up to if you like. But I'll never be used to the way they gurgle and clank. Nothing that resides in a room where I sleep should make me believe that it's going to blow up someday. As a general rule, I don't like things blowing up in my bedroom, but that hasn't stopped them in the past.

I'm really pretty tired... my brain is shutting down and my eyelids feel heavy, but I know that as soon as I close my eyes, my mind will start running around in circles. I'm using the metaphor of a roulette wheel for this kind of thing in my NaNoWriMo novel. I have yet to decide whether it's a good or a bad thing, but I think that's more in the way I use it than anything. So far it's been working well, even if it is kind of a stupid idea.

I want to make bread again soon. I don't know if I have the yeast, though... I'll need to buy more. I made jalapeno cheese bread for the Texas dinner, and it turned out perfect - except that it wasn't cooked all the way through the middle. It was almost my greatest cooking achievement, and it finally taught me what I'm looking for when I knead dough. Always good experience to have. Ah, well. Try, try again. It's probably the most balanced bread recipe I've found, in that it makes one loaf with not-unreasonable quantities of flour. I might leave out the jalapenos this time, for the sake of simplicity, and just put in cheese.

Anyway, I've been typing now for... 18 minutes. I'm going to venture back to bed and see if I'm any sleepier. Madcap ramblings are good for the psyche, I guess.

Oop, 19 minutes.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Update

4,703 words! Also, a new site to visit: Westlawn Cemetery. Quite a few famous people are buried there, but the one that caught my attention was Jack Ruby. Awesome.

Update

I am less than two days' worth of writing behind! I have just surpassed 4,000 words - 4,032 to be exact. 2,635 words to go to catch up... if I can do it before the end of the day, I won't have another 1,667 on top of it tomorrow. Go me!

I am writing lots, HOORAY

NaNoWriMo is hard work. I'm way behind. Today's goal is 6,667 words, and I'm at 3,603. I've got a lot of time left in the day to catch up, but I don't know if I'll make it all the way. Here's hoping.

The Texas dinner turned out brilliantly. The chili was delicious, the pie was tasty, and I've even got a bunch of leftover tortillas and refried beans (yay!). The attendees enjoyed themselves, and we all sat around drinking Mexican beer and chatting away. That kind of community, just having a mass of people around enjoying each other's company, is something I love. Good food always provides that opportunity, though - people will flock to a free meal. I'm really pleased with how it turned out... I just wish that there had been more chili left. :-) I'll have to make it again sometime. Perhaps in a smaller quantity; I won't be making a huge group dinner again anytime soon. I cooked for several hours the night before, making things that didn't need to be fresh, and woke up at 9am to cook the following day. I finally finished at around 4:30 pm. It was intense, but I really enjoyed the work. Cooking, just for the sake of cooking, provides a surprising sense of satisfaction.

I'm afraid I may be making shortish posts in the near future, due to potential writing fatigue or time constraints. I am, after all, trying to write a novel. But there will be pictures of my travels up in due course, and more travels to come soon, as I visit the Union Stock Yards and head down to Austin to be with my dad for a week. Until tomorrow, dear readership... And wish me luck!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Insomnia

And so, our heroine lay awake in bed, unable to reach sleep's sweet embrace for the past four f***ing hours.

Ah, well. I guess I can tell you what I've been skimping on lately.

Firstly, my Taste of Texas dinner is coming up this Saturday evening. I'm going to be serving homemade tortillas, cheese biscuits, jalapeno cheese bread (hopefully!), and perhaps cornbread. For the main course is a bowl of Texas chili, along with some sides of refried beans and Spanish rice for the tortillas - and perhaps some homemade salsa, if I can find tomatillos. Finally, the whole thing will be rounded out with homemade pecan pie, that ends up being pretty damn tasty, if I do say so myself. Nowhere near as good as Goode Co.'s, but that goes without saying.

Secondly, in my last post, I mentioned a couple of potentially dicey excursions that Jim is insisting on accompanying me for. I figure I'll give y'all some more details about those.

Union Stock Yards - there's a previous post on here that mostly explains my fascination with this.

South Campus Chilling Plant - I haven't mentioned this one yet. I developed a fascination with it when I would watch the steam rise from it every morning out my dorm room window. Lit by the sunrise from behind, and framing the Seminary tower, it's actually a pretty dramatic sight. I've been down there once before, but didn't photograph. It isn't far, and it won't be an extensive shoot, but it'll be fun.

U.S. Steel South Works - South Chicago and its surrounding neighborhoods near the Calumet river are a fascinating industrial center. The U.S. Steel plant used to be located right down here, but has been razed in favor of new industry and a lakefront park. Before it gets all prettified, I'd like to take some pictures of the industrial remains.

Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal - another new addition that I hadn't mentioned yet. It's a fairly recent canal, built in 1900 to replace the old Illinois and Michigan canal, which is now a national park. I'd like to take a look at that too, but truth be told, I have little interest in prettified history - I like seeing the dirty side.

The Beverly/Morgan Railroad District - Also in South Chicago are a number of historic rail stations along the current Metra line. The place is also a tangle of old and abandoned industrial rail lines. You should be getting a feel by now for what I like to go check out, so let's just say I'll be wandering some roundhouses.

Pullman District - Pullman created a model town outside of Chicago that would be a production center for his luxury rail cars. It's a historic district now, and a lot of the buildings have been preserved. I'm hoping some of the industrial feel and factory style will be left; even if they aren't, it will still be fascinating to see the remains of a major Chicago industry and the source of the riots that may have burned down the White City.

Gary - A booming steel town, it has deflated a bit, leaving a lot of empty buildings for the photographin'. Also, Gary had its own Nike missile base, which is still intact. Chicago grew so fast and has so many concerned denizens that history gets cleaned up pretty well around these parts, and you have to look carefully to find what you want. But in Indiana, much like in Texas, there's a lot of open space, and people are less concerned about cleaning up abandoned sites. So my feeling is that I will find more interesting things here. Also, I have seen pictures of the Nike site, and it looks really cool.

Michigan City - there's a cooling tower here. No, it's not radioactive, it's just a water cooling tower, but it still looks pretty awesome, and I'd like to explore a bit. Also, I trust that Jim can probably guide me to some good old industrial sites, seeing as how it sounds like he has played paintball at most of them.

Well, that's all for this evening, I'm going to see if I can't get some shuteye. Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

NaNoWriMo

Aaaaand, they're off! National Novel-Writing Month has begun, and I am 490 words closer to my 50,000 word goal. I have plenty of time to do this, so if I don't finish, shame on me. I may post pieces, and I'll definitely post word counts as I get closer. This story is semi-autobiographical... they say write what you know; well, we'll see where it gets me.

Jim, worried about my safety, "graciously" "volunteered", by which I mean largely felt obliged, to go with me to some of my more southerly historical-photo-documentation sites - so those will be coming up when he and I have a free weekend together.

And finally, I shall be attempting homemade pumpkin pie, with the little gourd that has been inhabiting our windowsill for the past week. We'll see how this goes!

Awesome - all three of my current pursuits in one post.