So a few weeks ago, I ordered a book and some supplies from the New England Cheesemaking Supply Company. Some of their stuff was overpriced, and I wound up getting the citric acid I needed from Bell’s here in town. The rennet, cheesecloth, lipase and book arrived, and on Saturday, my buddy Becky and I set about making cheese. We started with two gallons of milk, and got three kinds cheese:
The first batch of 30-minute mozzerella was an abject failure. The curd didn’t firm up — at all. Instead, we got a runny, grainy paste that we eventually got to settle into something that resembled a mix of cream cheese and sour cream. It was delicious — but nothing even remotely resembling mozzerella. I suspected the lipase.
We had nearly a gallon of whey left over, so I set about making a batch of whey ricotta as outlined in the book. Heat the whey, add some vinegar, wait for the curds to coalesce, strain through cheesecloth. We got a full cup of ricotta out of the deal, and it tasted sweet and delicious — more tasty than any ricotta I’ve ever eaten before.
Then Becky and Paul abandoned cheesy ship and headed out to Target, so I started the last batch alone. This time I left out the lipase, and the mozzerella came together like a dream. I formed four tennis-ball-sized lumps out of the stretchy white lump of curds, and stored them in brine. DELICIOUS!
The remaining whey failed to make a good batch of ricotta, though I don’t know why. At this point, though, I’d been making cheese for close to three hours, and I was really tired of it, so I settled down to eat creamy cheese spread on toast.
Yay, cheese! This is definitely something I’ll do again.
So our good friend Mark Paulik, who was Paul’s best man in our wedding, just moved out to Portland with his lovely and talented wife Robin to persue a job with our buddy, the ubertalented Robert Lewis.
Mark’s now got his very own webcomic called Chümba and you should totally check it out. It’s beautiful, and captivating, and wordless. It’s like Miyazaki and Mobius and all sorts of other pretty things. Add this to the fact that we’ve been badgering Mark for years to get back into illustration, cartooning and animation, and you can understand how happy we are.
Now git on over there and read his comics! Tell him his work is priddy!
I bought some area rugs!
Sadly, a big oriental rug store in Ann Arbor is going out of business. I scored two rugs that each retailed for $1000 each for a total bill of $500. They’re gorgeous — one’s from India, and the other’s a folk-art lookin’ red one from Iran.
And now they’ve officially been accepted as part of the house — Brodie the cat’s already barfed on them.
Today, Paul is the answer to life, the universe, and everything. For another 364 days, anyway.
Love you so much.
Since I spent Thanksgiving with Paul’s family (and a mighty fine Thanksgiving it was!) I kidnapped my mom today and took her out for an afternoon of coffee klatch. We had delicious Sabor Latino food, spicy mochas, and on an impulse, we saw Rent. We both liked it very much, and I was actually quite surprised how much mom related to the characters, given most of them were LGBTQ or addicted to heroin. I’ve heard some rumblings that the movie can’t stand up against the musical, and now I’m anxious to see a stage version. Still, with nothing to hold the movie against, I thought it was pretty good, though there were a few dangly subplots and some of the narration could have been clearer.
And I found out I cry way harder over Puerto Rican drag queens than I do heroin addicted dancers.
So this last weekend I went to Chicago to meet the cartoonists there. My buddy Emily, whom I met through years of playing Irish Music, recently got her PhD and moved to Chicago to work for Argonne Labs where she zaps electrons with Xrays. Within a month of moving there, she met a really cool boy — who also happens to be a webcomicker.
So I finally got to meet Dirk, who really is as cool as his reputation leads us to believe. I arrived late Friday night through harrowing traffic. I’ve never actually been scared while driving before — and have driven solo to Chicago/Milwaukee many times before without incident — but this came pretty close to fear. The 80/94 interchange is a bloody mess, and between driving in the dark and Chicago traffic, it was pretty intense. When I finally got there, we went out to the northside for sushi. There is no sushi in Kalamazoo — okay , there is, but it’s behind the sneeze guard at the Chinese Buffet, so it doesn’t count — so getting actual Chicago Sushi was a wonderful thing. Then we went home and drank boozy coffee and talked till 3am. Their time.
A late start on Saturday (duh) took us past a cool Mexican bakery where we noshed on handmade pastries and great coffee from a corner coffee shop. We then trekked out to the cartoonists’ gathering at the Mitsuwa shopping center. What a cool place! There’s a huge foreign-language bookstore with a metric butt-ton of Manga, a huge asian grocery, tchotchke shops aplenty, and a food court with outrageously good food of every Asian stripe, from bibimbop to curry egg pancake. We gorged ourselves stupid, bought manga, and headed out to Gerry’s place for comics-making and videogames. I once again proved my superior suckage at Dance Dance Revolution, but I did get three pages inked.
I also got to meet Spike and her husband Matt, Bridgid and Nebojsa, Gerry and Addie and a couple other people I can’t remember, but all of them were cool and made really great comics. When we got all hungry, around 11pm, we disbanded to Dennys, ate, and retired for the evening sometime around 2am.
Sunday, there was dim sum at the Happy Chef in Chinatown. This made me very happy. We also got to walk around, looking in the cool apothecary shops (if I ever need a dried flying lizard or sea cucumber, now I know where to go) and furniture stores, and I spent the better part of an hour dragging poor Dirk and Emily up and down Wentworth looking for this really good restaurant that I’d been to several times, the last of which was in 1997. I failed my navigation roll, and we never found it, but we did get to take a ton of great reference shots of Chinatown, which was most excellent.
After dim sum, we went back to Dirk’s apartment, and I got to see his studio, and read the majority of a nw piece he’s doing for a collaborative Graphic Novel. It’s really fantastic — the art is top-notch, and Spike really did a number on the redraft of the script. Go, Spike!
So, all in all, a fantastic weekend. I’d write more about it, but I finally got a day off from work and I have to haul ass on a couple major projects. Suffice it to say, a grand time was had by all, and I’m looking forward to another trip to Chicago to visit and hang out.
Not much time to write, but I wanted to let readers know that fellow EMU grad David Peterson has his very own comic out! It’s called Mouse Guard, and is published by Archaia Press, which is the publishing house of Mark Smylie, the ubertalented creator of Artesia. It’s in full-color, too! The art was great when it was black and white, but it’s even purtier in color, and it’s easier to tell the heroes apart.
Mouse Guard even got highlighted as a Staff Pick in this month’s PREVIEWS. Good taste, Filip!
Readers of the Vögelein graphic novel may remember David as the artist who had the wonderful pinup of a smiling Vögelein holding the arm of a grumpy Duskie, surrounded by a swirling field of stars.
David’s heap-big talented, and everyone should order Mouse Guard. Now. I have a page of his art from the first issue framed and hanging in our entranceway.
Yay, Local Artists! Woo!
For those of you who haven’t yet heard, the Kalamazoo Promise is possibly the most amazing thing to happen to Kalamazoo in the last 50 years. Today I saw the first palpable proof that it’s working. Our neighbors, Joy and Tony, who were going to take their four kids and move to the country because their neighborhood (3 blocks from hours, I might add) really sucks, have done an abrupt about-face, taken down the for-sale sign, and have started funneling money into a frenzy of house repairs.
“We’re stayin'”, said Joy. “How can we not? Four kids!”
Today, there was even better news — Western Michigan University, which has been suffering from terrifyingly low enrollment, has announced that all KPS students who attend Western under the Kalamazoo Promise program will now receive free room and board while attending WMU.
I’m speechless. These acts of kindness will probably save our entire community. Reports are already coming in that families from as far away as Indiana and Maine are sizing up a move to Kalamazoo. KPS Elementary schools, struggling to keep schools funded on an average of 18 kids per classroom, are bracing for an influx of new enrollments over the summer. There’s a palpable buzz in the air.
How nice to have our community finally known for something other than meth labs.
Yesterday was about the yuckiest day I’ve seen this year. Very very cold, rainy, steel-grey dark skies all day long. Around 4pm, it started to snow fitfully. At 9pm, we had about 1/2″. Miraculously, it stuck overnight, and we have 2-3 inches so far.
I also think last night, and the night before, were the first actual killing frosts we had. While it was nice to still be harvesting peppers from my garden two weeks before Thanksgiving, it’s a lot more foreboding for years to come. Smells like global warming…
The husband has begun to complain that my hair is trying to kill him in his sleep. This is actually a valid concern. It’s fast approaching what I call “two-year-old” length — not that it’s two years’ worth of growth, but that it behaves like an obnoxious toddler. It gets into things, throws fits, demands its own way, leaves a mess behind, and sneaks its way into everything, especially food. The one save is that it doesn’t scream.
It’s gonna get a good cutting in January. Just made the appointment.
And no, it’s not all coming off. Part of the problem of being a hair factory for little bald kids is that I have to get it long enough so that removing the 10-inch minimum doesn’t leave me looking like a dork. It should be around collar-bone length when I’m done; currently, it’s navel-length.
Long as God can grow it…
Sorry I haven’t blogged for a while, but the last couple weeks were insane, and then I spent close to a week rediscovering the snot capacity of my head.
Lessee, quick recap:
On 10/29 , we did SNAP! As mentioned, it rocked.
On 11/2, I drove up to Owosso and gave a library talk to the most well-behaved, articulate and smart-spoken 12 and unders I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with. It rockity rock rocked.
On 11/5, Paul and I had a table at the Kalamazoo Art Hop, thanks to the kind proprietors of New Mind Technologies. The Art Hop is a monthly event where all the businesses stay open late and have sidewalk sales, all the galleries open up late, and there’s live music and sometimes food and vendors in the streets, depending on the weather. You come downtown and basically wander from store to store, shopping, meandering, and consuming your body weight in spinach dip, punch and boxed wine. Imagine a city turned into one gigantic gallery opening, and you’ve got the basic idea. Twice a year, they also open the Park Trades Center, which is this enormous warehouse building with great brick walls, hardwood floors and 14-foot ceilings that has been turned into art studios. Darn near every studio is open, showcasing the works of the artists — everything from photography to woodcarving to handblown glass to arc-welded metal sculpture to oil painting to live tattoo demonstrations to sumptuous hand-sewn liturgical robes — literally every kind of art you can imagine, all under one roof. It’s like a four-story Mall of Art. So, we were in there, in a computer network/design office. New Mind doesn’t have any art, per se, so they like to donate their space to underrepresented artists who don’t have a studio in the Park Trades. Paul and I drew the lucky card this time. The setup is mutually beneficial; our art draws people in to New Mind’s studio, and we get a place to sell our art. It was a ton of fun and Paul sold about a boxload of books. I had a cool little coterie of preteen girls orbiting my table all night long. They, too, were very articulate bookhounds, and reminded me eerily of myself at that age. We also found out that an old illustrator for Valiant comic books who used to work on XO Manowar has moved back to town, and old Griot artist/writer Kenjji is considering moving back to Kzoo with his wife Kito. Needless to say we are ecstatic about this, and Paul and I are looking at starting a Kalamazoo Comics Night at Rocket Star, similar to what the Hamtramck cartoonists have.
On 11/6, we hopped in the car and went to Hudson, Ohio with supalibrarian Kevin King. The following day we spoke to twenty-five librarians about comic books for seven hours, thoroughly brainwashing them all. We then drove home and collapsed.
On 11/7, We voted, and found out that Matt Feazell’s wife Karen is the new mayor of Hamtramck.
On 11/8, I came down with the creeping evil, and spent the rest of the week drugged up on pseudephedrine, which makes me loopy and shaky, and hacking horrible green stuff out of my lungs.
Yesterday and today I finally felt well enough to go to farmer’s market and do some cooking. It was bliss to finally have a day off with nothing to do, nowhere to go, and to feel un-sick enough to enjoy it, so we settled in to really make the best of it. We settled in to watch the last DVD of Firefly and came armed with sweets and alcohol. This led to our new favorite expression of happiness: “WINE AND COOKIES! COOKIES AND WINE!” To get the full effect, you must have a big delicious farmer’s market cookie in one hand and a glass full of cheap red in the other, and you must shout the words in your best Fred Sanford voice while cueing up a disc of finely aged scifi goodness. It is the height of decadence.
The “Manwhore” character refers to John/Jeff Guckert/Gannon, a White House “reporter” found to actually be a male escort.
As I mentioned over here, SNAP was quite the excellent time. Paul and I made it home around 2pm, and we did a little housework; Paul painted the new doorjamb on the replacement back door, I cleaned all three bathrooms. Then we went for a wonderful hour-long walk and admired the beautiful autumn colors. So very nice. We both konked out for a short nap after that, and now I think there’s Firefly to be watched. A. was kind enough to send us her loaner copy in the most recent batch of Good Eats/Mythbusters tapes, and Paul and I are eager to see what all the fuss is about.
Oh, one more thing. A fan approached me at SNAP and picked up the new 40-page preview mini. While he was at my table, he mentioned that he picked up Finder based entirely on my rant a few weeks ago. Hooray for the power of blogs! And hooray for Finder, which is also getting thoroughly talked up to a big crop of Librarians next week, when Paul and I head out to Columbus for another big conference.
Hey, Michigan Locals!
Bored this Saturday? There’s going to be a really great small-press comics show this weekend over in Dearborn, called SNAP! and it’s run by two of the coolest folks in comics, Dan and Katie Merritt, owners of Green Brain Comics.
The show’s going to be small and low-key — a chance to talk to your favorite Midwestern comics creators one on one. We’re hoping that this will turn into an annual event, so if you can spare an hour or so and three bucks to get in, we’d love to see you there! Parking’s free!
You can read more about it here:http://www.greenbrain.biz/SNAP!.htm and check out the great press from the Detroit News and The Metro Times!
See you there!
We had such a nice Sunday. Our neighbors, Rob and Suzanne, had a houseparty and invited a whole bunch of cool people we hadn’t met before. Suzanne, a local hair-designer and all-round extra-cool person, whipped up parmesan bread and white-bean chili to die for, and Rob, a local woodworker, skateboard punk and expert antique-restorer, served Ichabod punkin ale and kept the tunes spinning.
I talked to Katja, our neighbor-across-the-park who was born in St. Petersburg and teaches Russian at WMU. We slammed Jane Austin and John Calvin and praised Art Nouveau and Charles deLint. Yay! Karen who lives nearby is an aspiring puppeteer, put on her first public performance of herone-woman short, with her handmade puppet. It was wonderful! We met a pack of Religion teachers from WMU, both of which new Virus’ bruddaman, and were well-familiar with his Hindu God Stand-up. We’re trying to convince Gene, Rebecca and their beautiful boy Rowan to move to the block, too.
It was a really wonderful time, and I’m so happy to know we have this many creative, cool, intelligent people nearby.
Before the party, Paul and I also went to the Dale Chihuly exhibit at the KIA. There was a woman at the exhibit who called a friend on her cellphone, overwhelmed, saying “To call this just glass is to call a diamond just a rock”. That pretty much sums up my feelings. The show was breathtaking. If you’re anywhere near Kalamazoo, and are the slightest bit art-inclined, I must strongly recommend a trip to see this show. It’s on till January 1. Make time for it if you can!
1) Programmable thermostat? Check.
2) Back Door and Attic? Being measured for materials as I type.
3) Fireplace insert? Money’s down, waiting for work to be scheduled.
This weekend I’ll probably go round and rope-caulk the windows. After a month, we’ll know if the plastic wrap will still be necessary. I’m hoping not.
Then, sometime this winter, we gotta start looking at getting the first- and second-story walls fished and rewired. Argh. Initial off-the-cuff estimate was $5K, and I’m so not looking forward to finding out how much it’ll actually cost.
Hey, everybody. Paul and I just heard word tonight that a cornerstone member of Kalamazoo’s Moped Army was struck by an SUV last weekend and seriously injured. He was struck from behind; the driver was going an estimated 60mph and never touched his brakes. The rider, Dave Brzezicki, was thrown sixty feet.
Dave broke his pelvis in three places, but miraculously sustained no head or organ injuries. He had surgery on Monday, and is expected to make a slow recovery.
As is the case with many of us, Dave had no health insurance, and will probably be out of work for many months. The members of the Moped Army are taking contributions to help him out; if you have the inclination, please donate to a very hardworking member of a very cool grassroots organization: http://www.mopedarmy.com/
Please pass this link around to anyone you know who might be able to help out.
Thanks in advance.