Yummy Dinner!

I have gotten over my disappointment about yesterday's measurements with a 2.5 mile waddle/run and a partial upper body weight workout. Alas, I missed this evening's 5 minute overflight by the International Space Station/Space Shuttle. poo :-(

This evening, I was in a cooking mood, so I whipped up some caramelized onions and made myself a mostly onion with a bit of cheese quesadilla. The onions really needed another 30 minutes to be truly, completely tasty, but I was hungry and couldn't wait. I also made some Crash Hot Potatoes from the Pioneer Woman website/blog, but I'll eat them another day, probably with some of the onions.

In my sometimes humble opinion, there is little in the world of savory food that doesn't taste better with the addition of caramelized onions. They dress up sandwiches, baked potatoes, veggie dogs, pizza, eggs. Heck, I'll even eat them plain. The hard part for me is not eating half of the batch while they're cooking. The sampling just gets out of hand and I discover that two pounds of onions only yields 1/2 cup of finished product.

Cheese Is No Longer My Downfall
This week I bought a block of cheese for the first time in at least four weeks if not closer to two months. I have discovered that I'm really not all that fond of cheese any more as a main part of a meal. As a tiny accent, such as shavings of Parmesan on the top of a pasta dish? Delicious. But I'm no longer terribly keen on the big grilled cheese sammich or the heavy-on-the-cheese quesadilla. I haven't had a cream cheese and green olive sandwich in months! I have even come to prefer cheeseless pizza (roasted eggplant and tomato sauce FTW!) over the gooey stuff. Who'd have thought that my tastes would change *that* much?!

New Cookie Recipe
I came across this recipe for Shaker Spice Cookies on a horsey blog the other day. I will have to try it out during this year's cookie baking blitz in December. It sounds delightful. Most of the spice cookie recipes I have make crisp, crunchy cookies and I rather prefer the chewy ones with a hint of crispness about the edges. The oil in this recipe (rather than butter) will help keep the cookies soft when after they cool.

Tonight on Turner Classic Movies, the guest programmer is one of my favorite authors, Mr. Ray Bradbury. He just admitted to going to 16 movies a week as a kid. He'd go every day and sit through a double feature, two of them on Saturdays. Gotta love that kind of movie devotion. Right now he's introducing the original Lon Chaney version of Phantom of the Opera from 1929. W00t!! (I have fond memories of seeing the 1980s era remake of this film at the Virginia Theater. The highlight of the evening was that the movie was preceded by a concert on the Theater's Wurlitzer pipe organ, including a very good rendition of Bach's Tocatta and Fugue in D minor. BWAHAHAHAHA!!!)

For all that he has always looked to me like a kindly grandfatherly figure, Mr. Bradbury has the knack of giving me the absolute creeps, even more than Stephen King. Frankly, Mr. Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft are just about even on the creepy factor. They describe just enough of something to get your imagination started, then leave the final bits up to you. Mr. King does that too, but not as intensely, perhaps with the exception of The Shining. The Stand wasn't creepy so much as just dark and thought-inducing. But Mr. Bradbury's short stories are absolutely creepifying. And The Martian Chronicles were a lovely introduction to space-based science fiction. He writes such a broad range of fiction from semi-educational, yet spooky in The Halloween Tree to reminisces of boyhood summers in Dandelion Wine to cheerful futuristic tales like I Sing the Body Electric. And who can forget Fahrenheit 451--my first introduction to fiction that had a clear social commentary underneath the story.

If you want a good sampling of his short stories, including some of the best creepy ones, find a copy of The Stories of Ray Bradbury. This volume includes the stories about the guy that has his skeleton removed, the guy that builds a self-burying coffin, the nursery room with the mural of the African veldt, and the story of the little creatures that live in the water, to name a few of my "favorites". I first encountered this book at my paternal Grandmother's library. She wasn't entirely certain that an eight year old needed to read it because she knew it had some scary stuff in it, but she relented and I just roared through a large chunk of it during the few days my family was visiting. On subsequent trips, I nearly always checked that book out again to read old favorites and discover new tales.

More on the Organ Thing....
I'm not quite sure why, but I have always liked pipe organs. (Actually, I think it's because they're alive. They have to breathe in order to perform and they all have individual voices/personalities.) I do not have any video or audio of a Virginia Theater Wurlitzer performance, but if you'd like to see/hear a very fine performance of the Toccata and Fugue in D-minor on a much larger pipe organ, go here and watch/listen to Kurt Ison play the organ at the Sydney Town Hall. The little Virginia Theater Wurlitzer has only two manuals (keyboards) and only 8 ranks of pipes. The Sydney Town Hall organ has five manuals, 126 stops and 8,700 pipes. At the time of her installation in 1890, she was the largest organ in the world and she remains the largest tubular-pneumatic action organ to this day.

One of the things I regret never doing in Champaign-Urbana was going on one of the organ crawl tours that Mr. Buzard (pronounced byoo-zard', not buzzard) of Buzard Pipe Organ Builders periodically hosted. As the curator of organs at the University and a builder/restorer of pipe organs, he was able to get permission to take people through the guts of the organ pipe cases and explain to people how the organs differed from each other in tone and construction. I never managed to quite remember when the tours were until after they were over. I also never asked if they gave tours of their factory, which is located in downtown Champaign. The organ works has fairly recently renovated the third and fourth floors of their building and created upscale loft apartments (for $1200+/month). I was amused to see that the third floor apartments are advertised as having exceptionally thick floor soundproofing and carpet to minimize the sound of the pipe organ from the second floor. I rather would prefer to hear the organ music, but then we all know I'm a bit odd.

You Know You Have an Odd Life When...

Your evening can be described through the use of opening lines of novels written by none other than Edward Bulwer-Lytton and Snoopy:
It was a dark and stormy night.
Suddenly, a shot rang out.
A ship suddenly appeared on the horizon.

(It really is rather windy, cloudy and somewhat cold. I did hear a gun fired in the distance when I fed the birds. The ISS/Space Shuttle did fly over *twice* this evening, though I didn't manage to see it either time.)

Three Grateful Things
As a variation on the Three Beautiful Things concept, I'm going to periodically post three things for which I am grateful.
  1. A healthy body with few aches and pains or other dysfunctions
  2. A love of books and reading with which to fill my leisure time and my brain
  3. Having nearly everything I need and quite a lot of what I want


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