Tuesday, February 26, 2008

all moved in!

Here we are at last! Our new apartment, the upper half of a 100-year old house is looking good. Still very messy of course, and full of boxes, but the kitchen and the internet are set up, which is all you really need to survive, of course. The apartment is sunny and has windows in every room, which means I get all the sunlight I want to nap in and I can have many, many more plants once everything is straightened out. The rooms are painted in mellow earth tones (beige, taupe, light yellow) which I'm loving and there's even an arched doorway like in the house I grew up in, about 5 blocks from here. Did I say there's a ton of sunlight? I love it. So far the only downside is that the smoke from our neighbors below seems to seep up through the vents a little, but a few minutes with the windows open seems to help that. Can't wait for spring!

Mom is coming to help me clean the old apartment out today. It's still ours until friday, so I have a few days to get it up to snuff. It's pretty gross right now. I applied at Breadsmith last week, and at Alpha Delights today, for those who are wondering about the job search. I'm crossing my fingers! Alpha Delights had a little section for me to go on about how much I like food so hopefully that will make a difference.

Ooh! We also ordered our washer/dryer yesterday and they'll be coming in late march. They're a good efficient set; actually they were on backorder. Consumer reports ranked them very highly; the washer is a Cambrio top loader (but without an agitator, it uses some other kind of technology) so it's still extrememly efficient compared to a standard washer. It was second only to a slightly smaller front-loading that didn't hold as large a load, so, I suspected I'd have to do more loads, thus negating some of its benefits. And we figured as long as we were at Best Buy and spending our tax return we might as well throw in Scrubs season 6. woot.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

just for colours!

One for Jasper (the rest are for you!):

snowy snowy day

It's snowing cats and dogs outside. Again! I managed to escape some cabin fever by trekking over to Patti's to work out at her nifty little in-house gym and do some much needed laundry. In the meantime hubby and my brother made a little meat pie so welcome me home. Snow day! Time to snuggle.

Friday, February 15, 2008

bagel love

Success! I finally tried a bagel recipe I've had for several years. The first batch was a bit rough, but the second batch turned out beautifully. Turns out bagels are first poached for a minute, and then baked at 500 degrees for only 10-15 minutes to get that very thin, crispy crust. I bagged them up and brought them to Erich's office just in time for work. I'm really starting to want a camera so I can take pictures of these things...instead of being perfectly symmetrical like a commercially made bagel, they sort of have a chubby bulky side that loops around and links together.

Monday, February 11, 2008

oat bread

Today I make my first trek out to find a job at a bakery. I did a quick google search, found a page and a half of initial options, and planned to collect a bunch of applications to fill out. I planned my initial rounds for bread and pastry bakeries, but included cake, chocolate, and candy places in case I had to go a bit off the initial course.

After heading out this morning, I realized there is some sort of secret industry rule that makes all bakeries of any import close on mondays.

After two hours, the first place I found open was not hiring, which made me unreasonably sad. :( That's okay, though, tomorrow I will head out again to all the places that were closed before going down to Madison to visit my brother. I'm not sure if he knows I'm coming yet. I should call him.

After lying on the couch and feeling unsuccessful I got up and tried a new project- oatmeal bread. Specifically, I ground several cups of oats and used this for my flour instead of wheat. Also included 1/2 cup amaranth and 1/2 cup ground flax. So if this works it will be my oatmeal flax amaranth bread. Or something. I used regular flour to knead it, and the consistency is definately thicker and more crumbly, so I'm not sure how it's going to bake up.


The bread turned out nicely; it didn't spread too much on the baking sheet, so it's one of the thickest loaves I've ever made. It's a bit doughy, I think in the future I might use the oat flour as a supplement and not a main flour. :) I do like the fullness of it, it made a nice round loaf.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

an Ode to sexy librarians

Here's an ode to all the sexy librarians. I'm talking to you, linz. Not that I think you're part of 'the dark' but I liked the picture.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

snack loaf

Erich has deemed the new small loaves of bread I've been making (not because they fail to rise or overrise but because I've been making tiny proto-artisan loaves c/o Robert) snack loaves as they are a perfect size for him to slice in half and make a samich out of. (They have been turning out slightly smaller than the loaves I had with you guys, Nat.) Hooray fro the snack loaf. Not to be confused with the much less entertaining snackwich.

I just spent 10 minutes crying after watching a West Wing episode where one of the main characters realizes her dad has severe alzheimer's and visits him to find his house in shambles. I really need to stop this habit of picturing my loved ones in situations depicted on tv. Seriously. I need to stop that.

I finished my first scarf! I am going to give it mom. The crochet knit is a bit too feminine for Erich. I've been considering making another with manly black yarn and some kind of macho knot, but I think I'll make a little blanket instead. :)

Day 3-10 hours of data entry

Sunday morning I woke up early with Nat, Robert, and Fiona and we all had breakfast. It was nice to see people chipper in the morning compared to me and Erich, who are zombies that occasionally miss when we kiss each other goodbye.

Today I had expected canvassing all day in the cold, which I was not really looking forward to. I like to do more behind-the-scenes work, but I had come to help, so I was going to do what they told me. I skipped showering since I figured no one could smell through my coat and 3 layers of clothing and put my extra layers on in advance. I got to the office and didn't see anyone I recognized from friday night, so I headed upstairs to the room I'd waited in before. The people were polite but suggested I go wait downstairs, and I realized they'd brought me there on Friday because they didn't know else to do with me, but it was sort of their 'leader' space. I scooted back downstairs and after asking a few more people I ended up helping with data entry. Two hours later I remembered all my extra clothing (no wonder I'm so warm...) and changed, wondering if I *hadn't* dressed ahead of time, would I have ended up outside and freezing? I had called Johnny around 10, and still having not heard from him, I decided to officially defect to the office people, and kept working on data entry, pleased that I was doing something I was actually good at, rather than suffering minor anxiety attacks every time I knocked on someone's door. (Not that it takes a genius, but I'm pretty fast on a keyboard).

Around 2pm someone asked me to run an errand, which involved bringing a folder to location #1, picking up another folder, and then bringing them both to location #2. I say sure, mapquest it, and head out the door. I glanced down at the folder I'd been given, realized that it was a collection of walklists, or organized listings of doors to knock on. Fairly important since the whole point was to focus on getting people who we knew were for our candidate out to their caucus locations. This guy didn't even ask me my name and he was trusting me with this? Why? Well, that was actually pretty obvious, it was because I had a car, but still! Silently vowing not to get in an accident or at least not bleed all over the lists I made my way over to location #1. (I had to turn around a few times because mapquest had not done a very good job, but I got there intact.)

I picked up the papers and fielded a bunch of questions with 'I don't know' because I really didn't know, I was just the gal with a car. If I were them I would have been hesitant to give anything to me, but they did after verifying the person who sent me (short guy, thick glasses, poofy hair-that seemed to suffice). I tucked the papers in my bag and headed off to location #2.

This trip was not as easy; I had an alarming experience with a one-way that involved me driving onto the sidewalk for half a block, but I met my goal of not crashing and not bleeding, so score 1 for KT. Finally, on the way back, I got into an old fashioned traffic jam ( commonly known as rush hour in minneapolis) so I had a bit of time to relax, eat my apple, and shake my fist at whatever moron had parked his car in a driving lane.

Safely back at my desk I did more data entry until some guy from Illinois needed a ride home, so I gave him one and then did more data entry until about 9 pm. Apparently it all needed to be done that night, so of course my competitive streak came out and I had to try and do the most. Of course. I felt good about having actually done something useful, but my wrists were starting to ache. By the way, Johnny finally called me back around 5 pm that day. By then, of course, I had defected so I didn't really care.

So, back to Natalie and Robert's, where we chatted some more and then off to bed. The next morning I woke up and decided it was time to go home. It was readily apparent that Obama was going to win MN; Hillary had an event at a tiny college the day after Obama's that didn't even compare. It didn't really seem like she was campaigning much there, and focusing on other places. There were tons of people volunteering, which probably explained why I had to search for things to do. In fact at one point they stopped asking people to come in and just told those who called to spend an hour on their phones from home calling everyone they knew. Which is good- obviously they were feeling secure.

Anyways, I felt good about my small contribution, so I spent the morning with Natalie and Robert, made a trip to my favorite co-op and bought a nice grass-fed steak and a butt-roast to bring back for Erich, along with some other goodies like whole tumeric (it looks like orange ginger) and some hempseed bread (delicious!) for me. Also some little meat pies (sfeha) from my favorite little deli, Abu Nader Middle Eastern deli; he was unfortunately out of his homemade cheese, but he was pleased a gal from the cheese state was asking about his own.

The drive back sucked. It was slippery and one of my head lights was out, and generally stressful but I made it safely. The end!

Day 2 Part II - Rally at Target Center

Okay, so yesterday I forgot to mention the very cool guy who has drawn a photo-image quality drawing of Barack's face and was taking it up and down the line having people sign it. He was also trying to get someone to give him an extra ticket so he could get in and give it to the Senator. I don't know what happened to him, but I hope he got in.

So, after a band called 'Golden Smog' plays (interesting group of 7 guys, 5 of which take turns playing lead guitar and singing, and then on the last song they sing and play together, it was really quite something) the candidate took the stage. Before this the mayor of Minneapolis (I think?) had been having people in the front rows call those they knew and he'd briefly encourage them to go caucus (I assume, I couldn't actually here what was going on). The speech was excellent; he was relaxed, energetic, and actually surprisingly funny. You don't get to see the quips on the news. You also don't get to hear the occasional stutter or correction that reminds you the candidates are human. There was a little name dropping, as the legacy of Minnesota's beloved (now deceased) Paul Wellstone still holds much sway. I was okay with this; he sometimes seems to good to be true, so a little bit of that just makes him seem more realistic. Also he picked up on the second the crowd had decided he's used it enough ( 3 times total, 1st time huge cheers, 2nd time big cheers, 3rd time very few and then we were done).

Despite these very minor things the speech was igniting. Once he got into his cadence it was hard not to jump out of your seat every 2 minutes and wave your big sign around. (Which I did, a LOT). :-) Among things addressed: universal healthcare, veteran's benefits, plan for withdrawl from Iraq by 2009/foreign policy, green energies/technologies/jobs, $4000 college tuition credit, Darfur, education/teachers salaries/No Child Left Behind, immigration, and last but not least being related to Dick Cheney. Of course there was more than this but this is what sticks out in my memory.

After the rally Kari and I got some most excellent thai food on campus, and then I headed over t0 stay with my friends Natalie and Robert (and Fiona, age 1, so cute she makes me want kids. But don't get your hopes up, mom). We chatted a bit before the family went to bed and Robert showed me an excellent new way to make bread, which involves making one large batch of dough that ages in fridge. You pull of a chunk and make a little loaf or two for the day. It's excellent, I tried it already. :)

Nat also showed me her vermicomposter, which I've wanted to try for a while, but for some reason Erich won't let me compost in the apartment. He actually made a rule dedicated solely to forbidding me from composting inside. He likens it to me forbidding him to smoke, which is clearly not the same since the worms don't stink (they really don't, if you do it correctly! they're awesome little guys, and they only thing I smell when I check them out is dirt) and also they are doing good work, and not polluting lungs and sending nasty little free radicals wearing tar clothing into my body.

For more on vermicomposting . This is one of many sites, you can do a simple google search. Anyway, we always have fun exchanging ideas for decreasing our impact; Nat introduced me to the Keeper a few years ago and most of you all know how much I love it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Day 2 Part 1- Rally at Target Center

Up at 8:30 and in the shower at the dorm. Fortunately Kari loaned me a pair of shower sandals. I felt very slow. It's been a while since I showered in my dorm and I had to remember how to balance my clean clothes on top of the shower door and hope they don't fall. Specifically my socks because I hate wet socks. I changed in the bathroom because of Kari's friend who couldn't make it home because he was too drunk to take the bus; he'd stopped by just as we were going to sleep. Kari had righteously banned him to the floor (and not just for my benefit), which I think was disappointing to him. Silly college boy!. After we'd gotten up in the morning, he seemed to want to hang around but Kari would have none of it and told he'd better not miss his bus. Ha!

We walked my things out to the car and drove down to grab a bagel before heading to the Target Center. Parking was pretty easy to find, since we got there at 10:45, and when we arrived in the lobby we were greeted by a swarm of people, all apparently there to volunteer. It was fairly obvious that people who hadn't gotten tickets were hoping to get in as volunteers. I called Johnny and he said something I couldn't really understand over the crowd, but he so we just kind of hung out, waiting. The head organizer got up on a table and made a disclaimer that volunteers would NOT be in the event, so if we wanted to see the Senator speak it'd be best to go outside and get in line.

People were making signs at a nearby table, saying such things like "This Mama is for Obama" and "Women over 60 for Obama (a neat looking group of older ladies used that one, they were my particularly fun). "Latinos con Obama". My favorite, which I saw later once I got inside, was a very small homemade sign held by a young Somali muslim woman behind me that said in proud, glittering letters "Immigrants for Obama"! She held it up triumphantly, hoping the camera panning the crowd would catch it and give it a little air time. I was hoping too. They didn't see it, but she and her comrades cheered their hearts out anyway. While the rest of the signs had been made by campaigners to hand out, this one had been made ahead of time, at home. I also wondered if she was an immigrant herself, or a daughter of one and thus able to vote. I'm hoping for the latter.

Anyway. After about 10 minutes, one of the other volunteers texted me and said he'd been told that they had enough volunteers and that he was just getting in line to see the event. I somehow managed to find Johnny, who told me to do the same. I didn't have my ticket with me as I'd been expecting to volunteer, but Kari had printed a second copy of hers (they were just emails), and Johnny told me to use that. I shrugged, met up with the other volunteer (Nicholas) and we all waited in line for 2 1/2 hours until they let us in. They did end up letting me in, as no one was actually checking the names on the emailed tickets, but I found out later that people were photocopying 5 or 10 copies and handing them out to people. I don't know how the organizers didn't see that coming, because it seemed pretty obvious to everyone else, but at one point they apparently started checking IDs as they feared people with legitimate tickets wouldn't be let in. Fair enough.

It was cold outside, and within a 1/2 hour we were all doing the cold-toes dance, but the mood remained cheerful. More superficial Hillary bashing by some nearby, which I promptly (but lightly) shut down by pointing out that pasty old white men likely did not have very nice legs either. I may be supporting Obama but that doesn't mean I'm not still a feminist.

A little while later a man with his daughter and son (maybe 12 and 10, respectively) arrived in line across from us (by this point it had snaked around the the corner and back up again). None of them had coats on. I think they had left their coats in the car and just planned to run inside, but the girl was particularly poorly dressed in a thin cotton shirt, skirt, and sandals. I imagine she'd had an argument with dad before they left the house and she'd won. She and her brother were taking turns wearing his sweatshirt, which was just maddening to watch. One of the guys in line with me was holding a coat for a woman inside, so I put my coat on her shoulders, told her to wear pants next time, and put on this other woman's coat. People were concerned I would lose my coat, but she kept track of me and we did the quick switch once they opened the doors.

The crowd cruised inside and we found some great seats 10 rows from the front, right behind the stage. This meant we got nice little signs to wave behind him so the cameras could see them. The Target Center holds I think 20,000 or 30,000 people. A LOT. It was half full within the first 15 minutes after opening the doors, and the rest filled up (including standing room only on the floor) over the next 2 1/2 hours. The mood was positive, expectant, hopeful. Rock, funk, pop played over the speakers, people did the wave (briefly), and started small group cheers. A friend of Kari's happened to sit behind us, and they chatted a bit. (Her friend is deaf, by the way, and she's really good- I didn't know she signed so well!) Later we spotted an interpreter, which elated her friend, and he scooted down to get seating with a group of at least 6 or 8 other deaf people attending.

More later.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Day 1

Well, I decided to cut my trip a little short; I came home today instead of wednesday. Kind of hard to explain why, but suffice it to say I felt in a good place and decided I'd met my goals. I did some volunteering, I visited some good friends, and had some good food.

My arrival at the campaign headquarters in MN was a bit hectic. I had packed up all my things and excitedly jumped in my car only to discover it wouldn't start! I ended up having to wait 5 hours for a jump (I decided to wait, rather than pay for a tow) and then finally got on the road about 2 pm. The drive over was fine; having the mp3 player really makes mid-central WI go much faster. I got to campaign headquarters about 7 pm. I had previously called the contact I had in an email to let them know I would either be arriving late that evening or tomorrow as the organizers had asked, but once I arrived I realized that absolutely no one had any idea who I was or noticed that I had been late. (Actually, the contact name I had was one of the up and ups who had 1000 things more important to do than take a call from some lowly volunteer, so why I was given that phone number is beyond me.)

The room was just like you'd imagine it; people all over with cell phones and laptops making calls wherever they could find an outlet and a chair. The crowded room was friendly, with many people asking if I needed help getting set up, but having trouble actually doing that. One guy would ask me my name, check a list, and then run off looking for someone and inevitably get way-laid in the meantime. Another guy would do the same, run off, and then the first guy would come back saying the second guy was helping me, he'd be right back, and then a third guy would repeat from the top.

Eventually someone took pity on me and brought me to another room to wait; it had been discovered (they thought) that my field organizer was at another location and would be back shortly. I asked if they had any menial tasks for me to do(sic) and they laughed and someone set me to counting donations. One guy yelled "Where the hell is Johnny?!" (apparently my organizer) and emphatically starting dialing his cell to call him. No ans.

Just a small pile of envelopes yielded several thousand dollars in cash, checks, credit cards. The smallest was $3.00 cash and the largest a $2000.00 credit card receipt. One man had tucked in a page long note explaining that he was a 3rd generation republican (75-years old) and that he was voting for a democrat for the first time in his life. Once I finished this the same gal who set me up showed me a little about how they map walklists (specifically defined areas targeting supporters to be contacted). There was food everywhere. Half eaten, of course, and looking a bit suspect, but I'm sure it was good at the time.

I got up and asked again if someone had something for me to do; the people (mostly mid-level organizers at this point, who were not really responsible for dealing with me) apologized and said they did not. Again I hear "Where the hell is Johnny?!" and cell phones whip out. At this point it's amusing me because the gentleman trying to help me is pretty good natured but clearly annoyed that he has a volunteer with nothing to do.

No one has anything for me to do yet. I consider cleaning the room up a bit, but decide against it and sit down. A few minutes later someone grabs me and says "I'm stealing you until Johnny gets back". He sets me up at a desk made from an overturned card-board box with a big "O" painted on side and had me call people to remind them to caucus. I do this, awkwardly, for an hour before they stop all voter contact at 9pm. I mutter a silent prayer of thanks that I don't have to make anymore phone calls. There's a script that I did my best follow but inevitably I ended up getting flustered and skipping sections. Not a big deal, I figure the calls I botched I made up for by the calls I got people to commit. Maybe. My favorites were the ones were I got to just leave a message. As for actual cals, one gentleman freaked me out by telling me I had called "Obama headquarters" and I apologize, embarrassed, I must have gotten the numbers mixed up, before he laughs and says no, no, I'm his biggest supporter. Ahh. I see. He flirts a bit (I can hear his wife teasing him in the backround) before hanging up. An old lady tells me she's not voting for him and I give her her caucus station anyway without thinking (oops). A young woman (probably 19) tells me she's coming and bringing her republican mom too. A guy complains that we've called him four times already and would we please stop it. I apologize, I'd be irritated too. I get told I have a wrong number by someone most likely who's name I'm mispronouncing. I figure that's fair, but I still feel awkward. Disconnected. Disconnected. Leave a message. 9 pm, done.

My leader, the mysterious Johnny finally shows up and introduces himself. A very nice guy, very laid back. He had actually been doing something legitimate (I don't remember what) and since I arrived so late in the day it's not like anyone could blame him. He gives me a rundown on the game plan (talk to people we think will vote for Obama and get them to the caucus). He also sits, with another volunteer recently arrived, very close to me on the couch. (Not inappropriatley, just in that, 'We're all family here kind of way". We're all kind of packed on the couch, behind the box-desk like sardines. After a bit of chatting, Hillary bashing (which I didn't agree with, but I'm not about to call out the staff!) Johnny takes us into the hall for a speaker phone conference that the leaders are all clearly annoyed with. People are clearly stressed; it's the end of the day and apparently been a long one.

I decide to head over to Kari's dorm and we buy food, watch a fairly silly movie and eat popcorn. At this point it was about 10pm and I hadn't had any dinner (the half-eaten food just hadn't been appealing) so the lean cuisine we get is quite tasy. We talk about Kari's many suitors. All in all a good time. Time to sleep! More tomorrow.