Parmesan-leek ‘chowder’

July 29th, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Food | Recipes - (0 Comments)

In which there’s a soup recipe that freezes really well!

I made this soup a couple weeks ago and froze some of it. Friday I pulled some out of the freezer; Saturday I re-heated it and ate it and it was brilliant! I love this soup! It satisfies that “I really want a creamy chowder but I don’t want flour or potatoes” issue one has when one goes off refined carbs.

Not all soups freeze well, either. Some, especially those with dairy, separate and end up being really gross after a stint in the ol’ freezer, but this one holds up wonderfully.

Parmesan-leek 'chowder' (w/goat cheese-hummus lettuce wraps)

Parmesan-leek ‘chowder’

Ingredients:

butter (2 T.)
olive oil (~2 T.)
leeks (2, halved, washed and chopped)
broth (5 c.)
cauliflower (1 head, chopped)
36% heavy cream (~1 c.)
basil (~1/2 tsp., dried)
parmesan cheese (1/4 c., grated)
salt and pepper (to taste)

Method:

1 – Sautee leeks in butter and oil until tender.
2 – Add broth and cauliflower. Add basil.
3 – Cover and simmer until veggies are soft.
4 – Remove from heat. Add cream, stir; add parmesan and stir well until it’s incorporated — making sure to do so off heat so the soup doesn’t separate.
5 – Cool until it can be handled; puree in batches in a food processor or blender until fairly smooth.
6 – Add salt and pepper to taste.

Variation: Add one clove minced garlic to the sautee phase and omit the basil.
Variation: The parmesan may be replaced with gruyere.

Other than containing some fat, this soup doesn’t really do much nutritionally. You’ll want to enjoy it with some serious protein!

Broken stuff + love

July 25th, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Gadgets | Love | Weather - (1 Comments)

In which I break a couple of things and the long-distance relationship is great.

Yesterday, my 31 day-old phone died. Just up and goddamned failed, right in the middle of the afternoon. Six months ago, I probably wouldn’t have cared much about being phoneless for a day or three, but now my phone is my main source of communication with the Internet boyfriend so it really bummed me out.

In all my years of carrying various cell phones, I’ve never dropped nor broken nor drowned a phone, so I suppose it’s my turn for a catastrophic phone failure. The thing turns on but won’t boot, and it won’t turn off unless the battery is pulled. It occasionally boots into its version of BIOS or sometimes into a dialog that asks if I really want to install a non-standard operating system package, but other than that it’s just the blue TrackPhone screen. My brother looked at it and agreed: it’s fucking DEAD.

I need to get out to Walmart to exchange it; G’ma said she’d haul me out there this or tomorrow afternoon. I can’t find the receipt but I hope they replace it anyway.

~+~+~+~+~
The day before yesterday I went out to the garage to hop on my bike and ride over to the store, but I discovered the front tire was completely flat. I aired it up — having a compressor fucking rocks — but it was pretty low yesterday morning. I dropped it at the shop after work.

Today, after making the newspaper, I trudged over there in the heat to pick it up but they hadn’t gotten to it yet. So I had to walk home in the heat. Again.

~+~+~+~+~
Internet boyfriend is coming to visit in September. Soooo excited I could absolutely pop.

We’re smitten with each other. We spent ten hours in video chat last Sunday (not contiguous; there were trips to kitchens and stores and such, and I took a nap) and never got bored of looking at each other. This is par for the course. We text, we IM, we call, we video chat, we email. Constantly. The only time we’re out of touch is work and gigs, and even then we still text every few hours. I think we both agree it’s fortunate nobody else has to put up with us — well, except the NSA — because we’re in that really cutesy phase only charming if you’re in it.

He has a beard but it turns out there are dimples under there. DIMPLES. Y’all know how I feel about dimples.

Last night on Skype with him I spent a solid hour just crying with laughter. (He’s systematically destroying my refined left coast humor with his pedantic Midwestern humor. It’s a travesty. I cannot believe the shit I’ll laugh at if he says it.) I adore him. He also hits everything on the fairly negative and bitchy list I wrote a few years ago except for being a devotee part; interestingly enough Amma gave me double prasad at one of my darshans this year and I sent the extra to him; interestingly enough he’s keeping it in his freezer because he considers it sacred.

“Eat the chocolate, nerd, that’s what it’s for.”

“Oh, I will. But not now, bitch!”

My life is almost unbearably pleasant.

June 18th, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Life | Work - (7 Comments)

In which I finally post! I really don’t know what my problem is; I mean I have all this free time and everything, I just never blog anymore. Also: I use the phrase “fucking awesome” far too many times in this post.

This is what’s great about my new job: there’s actual work to do. This is also what’s great about my new job: the fucking phone never rings.

My desk

Holy shit, but I was awfully bored at the last place. Morons calling me up all the time asking the same impossibly stupid questions over and over, no systems to administer, no hope of training or promotion. I had been really excited when they had offered me the job and that bitchin’ title a couple of years ago, but it just ended up being first tier technical support all over again only in an office instead of a cubicle. I didn’t get to learn a bunch of cool server crap and I didn’t get to do fun projects, only tedious ones like moving websites. There was too much free time and yet I always felt harried because I had to be in the queue all the time and talk to people.

I do miss being able to tell people I’m in IT, but my new job actually suits me better. I roll in there at eight o’clock in the morning and I have things to do! I produce things every day, and they’re tangible: pages in the goddamned actual real life treeware newspaper! I do a sports/weather page every day; I do the Business page every day; I do A2 every day. On Fridays, I do three pages for the Sunday paper. And usually before I’ve even left the newsroom at one o’clock, I have a physical copy of an actual newspaper in my hand.

There’s enough work to keep one focused and busy but not so much one feels overwhelmed. The other people in the newsroom — the reporters and copy editors and editors and photographers and interns — are all awesome. The police scanner is always on, and amusing more often than you’d expect. The gossip is fantastic. The long stretches of silence while everyone writes or edits or paginates are lovely.

The newsroom is like a cross between a library and a university and everyone in there is basically some form of nerd or another. It’s fucking awesome.

And it’s part-time. And it pays more than my last job did; I went from having a title and getting paid shit to being an entry-level newbie who makes almost as much in 25 hours a week as I used to make in 40.

Which means I get home a little after one each afternoon and I’m not even looking for another job. (I would probably volunteer at Helpline again, but they moved way the hell across town so it wouldn’t be convenient.) I’ve been doing one little domestic project each afternoon: catch up on filing. Go through dresser drawers. Clean out closet. Donate things to Goodwill. I feel relaxed and calm and organized.

I’ve begun to read again. I’m growing an avocado tree on the kitchen windowsill. I do my nails every week. I’m cooking a lot. I feel like I have plenty of time. It’s awesome.

Sometimes I just come home, change out of my office clothes, and go get drunk on my friend’s patio. And since she works part-time too, I can do that and still be home and in bed way before ten. Talk about decadent.

There’s also this wonderful e-boyfriend. I met this guy online; it’s my first internet relationship (which is actually pretty strange, considering how long I’ve been online and the sheer number of hours I’ve spent each week dicking around on the internet in the past decade and a half). We’ve been talking on the phone every night for months and we’re now at the (apparently common) sending-each-other-crap-in-the-mail phase. He’s fucking awesome: articulate, good natured, educated, employed, hilarious, and not a goddamned stoner. I can’t wait to meet him in person, but he lives halfway across the country and with the new job and everything that wouldn’t be until August at the very earliest.

He’s twelve years younger than I am, but I don’t give a fuck because he’s nice. Not to mention that the majority of single men in the age bracket more appropriate to me are single because they want 22-year-old models for girlfriends or are raging alcoholics or only marginally employable. The benefit of 30-something males is that that’s the age they decide they wanna settle down if they’re going to, and I’m basically only interested in settling down. Dating and screwing around are fine, I suppose, but I’ve basically already experienced nearly every permutation and most of the time it’s either shallow or neurotic. I think I learned from that crush last year that I was — am — finally ready to consider a real relationship again, but it really needs to be real.

Gig season is picking up. The band will be all over the northwest this summer, playing festivals and bars in three states. The latest album is doing well and has gotten some really good reviews. Our drummer is still threatening to move away, but he’s been doing that for years.

I still ride a bike everywhere and I pretty much have thighs of steel. My hair is long and I really need to get a cut and color. I’m going to go throw a load of laundry in and make some sugar-free chocolate fudge pudding. It looks like it might rain. Life is good fucking awesome.

Hello.

May 29th, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Blurbs - (3 Comments)

In which I haven’t posted in a month!

I’m alive, I love my new job, my trip to Seattle to see Amma was wonderful.

Someday I’ll write a real post. I promise.

This is what I did today.

April 24th, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Life - (1 Comments)

In which there is a running list.

6:02 wake up for no god damned reason
7:19 wake up for no god damned reason
8:10 turn off alarm, get out of bed
8:11 search ‘copy edit test’
8:32 shower
9:00 eat a mushroom, asparagus, and cheddar omelet
9:15 leave the house
9:48 take copy editing test at the U-B
10:49 say “Yeah, I’ve been over it three times already anyway.”
11:03 reply to texts while sitting in Starbucks with a grande dark roast coffee
11:18 search for ‘ap stylebook’
11:59 change into fleece drawstring pants in bedroom
12:02 go to Loney’s
12:58 put groceries away
1:11 IRC
1:22 search ‘sardine recipe’, find this
1:45 cook and eat a really bizarre meal (ingredients were butter, garlic, mushroom, blackeye peas, cream, parmesan, avocado, and chives)
1:55 blog
2:01 make the bed
2:05 drink cold, leftover coffee
2:15 surf more recipes
2:35 job hunt fuck around online some more, FB chat with Mel
4:33 wake up from catnap with actual cat
4:36 put some lentils on to cook
4:48 fold laundry
5:05 take lentils off, eat some
5:15 go visit the wendover-briggs machine

free time.

April 19th, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Domestic Goddess - (2 Comments)

In which unemployment continues apace.

I got laid off three and a half weeks ago. I have no idea how it’s been three and a half weeks already, but it has.

I’ve been catching up on little projects, like throwing shit out and/or taking it to Goodwill and getting all the laundry done and folded and put away and the drawers and closet divested of any garment I haven’t worn in at least two years and cleaning unused products out of that little stand I store them in and in general getting rid of shit.

I’ve been sleeping 10 hours every night and it is GLORIOUS. God, how I love not waking up to an alarm.

I’ve applied for a grand total of exactly one jobs I’m interested in, and it’s part-time and probably pays a buck an hour over minimum wage. Having to have two part-time jobs would be very difficult for me because of scheduling around gigs, and to be honest if I had to choose between gigging and some part-time job, gigging would win.

I have yet to receive my first unemployment deposit, so I’m pretty much broke. Luckily I have gigs this weekend so I won’t starve or — even worse — have to go without cheap wine.

It’s currently 51F and raining outside. The daffodils and lilacs are blooming. I fucking love the weather in this town. Sorry if you’re one of those poor bastards with a foot of snow in your yard.

My Sprint contract is finally up so I’ve decided to switch to a pay-as-you go carrier instead. I bought a phone off eBay but, for some mysterious reason, it won’t work here and I have to return it. Dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of, really: I could activate it with a Portland zip code then come here to visit and it would work, but they can’t activate it here due to — I assume — roaming and contractural shit with the local tower owners. I guess Sprint gets yet another month of overpayment from me.

I wonder what it is about telephony that makes all phone companies, be they wired or wireless, turn into greedy bastards with shit customer service and massive overcharges. I mean, when I signed up they told me it would be $65 a month; it’s actually $82. That’s $82 a month for unlimited everything which I have never used but which I am required to pay for because of my choice of handset. Why didn’t they just tell me that in the first place? I’ll tell you: because they know I would have walked out and gone to Walmart and bought a TracPhone instead. Fuck subsidizing your network, Sprint. Get lean, you fuckers, don’t overcharge me. I barely even use your fucking network, and also fuck you for advertising ‘unlimited data’ when we all know you throttle like a motherfucker.

For the very first time in my life I left filing my taxes until the 15th. I owed $91 and I’m unemployed so I just didn’t want to pay it. I’m half-convinced the 1099 I received from Telcentris is a mistake (I really don’t think I contracted for them in 2012, but the laptop that has my timesheets and invoices on it is dead) and I couldn’t be arsed to spend hours trying to call them and dispute it and have it canceled. On the other hand, I might have invoiced them in 2011 but received a final check in 2012… eh, it’s ninety bucks. It ultimately doesn’t matter.

Free time, though, is awesome. You get to everything. You can pluck your eyebrows and take baths. You can organize shit that you’ve left sitting because it really isn’t that important and you’re more interested in fucking off when you’re not at work than you are in checking off that tiny little box. You make your bed every morning. You do your friend’s dishes when she’s out of town for the weekend and you’ve gone over to feed the cat. You finish all those books that have been sitting on your Kindle for a year.

Well, I gotta get motivated. Gotta send this cute little cell phone back and figure out what I can take to eat at the gig later. Have a great weekend, y’all.

Quickness

March 30th, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Work - (4 Comments)

In which I’m totally outta there and it hasn’t even been four days.

For some reason I got my final pay (56 hours regular, 40 vacation, and 30 severance) direct deposited almost immediately. Today my final pay stub came in the mail. My ex-employer has contacted me exactly only once to ask a question.

Wow. I guess my job really was superfluous. Either that or I left everything so well-organized that it’s totally… nah. I’m superfluous. Fucking awesome.

I need to get married and stay home and cook or something, because fuck this professional shit. I’m never going to find a part-engineering/part-data center/part-support gig ever, ever again. Such jobs don’t exist because the small ISP no longer exists. There are a couple of point-to-point wireless companies around here but I’m no longer interested in climbing ladders and towers to adjust radios after wind storms. (I mean five, ten years ago I would have been into it, but not now.) Not that either of them would be hiring anyway; they’re shrinking just like everybody else.

I’m only barely qualified to work IT at a school or hospital. I could certainly learn it all, but they generally want a couple years of managing Exchange servers and tweaking Active Directory and I haven’t had the misfortune of having to do that.

I don’t mind waitressing or working at a grocery store deli in theory, but I’m not terribly keen on standing all day or being utterly and totally trained on everything there is to know in under four weeks. I may look for some kind of office-y desk job; maybe there’s some industrial office that needs a bookkeeper/receptionist who doesn’t mind the occasional filthy joke.

Do you know I got an email only a few months ago telling me that my WorkSource account was about to expire? I had been gainfully employed for over a year so I let it go. Ugh! Now I have to rebuild my entire profile from scratch, and believe you me their data entry interface is a fucking tedious mess. Christ but resumes are a bother.

This morning I searched the JobSource website for all open jobs in Walla Walla. There are a grand total of eight. EIGHT JOBS. IN THE ENTIRE TOWN*. One of them is for a mobile phlebotomist; obviously not qualified for that. The other is RN; nope, I’m sure not a nurse. Couple of food service jobs, a trucking job… and one office job: it’s in a real estate office, and it’s a baby tier office chick position updating web sites and social media accounts and — insult to injury – it pays more than my last job did. UPLOADING PICTURES OF HOUSES AND RUNNING A FACEBOOK PAGE PAYS MORE THAN HAVING ROOT ON AN MX SERVER.

Ugh. I’m going to end up being that lady at the end of the aisle at the grocery store passing out samples of sugar-laden meatballs or some shit. Ugh!

I got bored of resume-building and went and did my taxes. I owe $91 dollars because I got a 1099-MISC from Telcentris (even though I’m really pretty sure I haven’t invoiced them since 2011 because I was working full-time at BMI all through 2012). Ugh. Ugh ugh UGH. So I either pursue a 1099 correction, or I pay the taxes, or I just leave it off my return and hope no one notices. Christ, 2013, WTF is wrong with you?


* Actually, that was a browser error – there were more like 80 after I refreshed. But I’m still not qualified for most of them because WHY DIDN’T I GO TO NURSING SCHOOL WHY WHY WHY.

Layoff

March 26th, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Work - (1 Comments)

In which I’m unemployed again.

In September of 2011 I had just finished a networking certificate at the community college and was beginning to freak out because my unemployment benefits were running out. Three days before they did, my ex-employer tracked me down and offered me a job with okay pay and a decent title. I accepted gleefully.

I was already trained on their ancient and kludgey software, knew the people, and could ride my bike to work. Great hours, no particular dress code, and a sweet office. Perfect!

A year later I realized that the title was titular; most of the real systems administration was being handled by some subcontractor in Europe and the company was rapidly putting more and more of what little stuff it had left into the cloud. I wasn’t being trained on anything new and wasn’t going to be. Most of my day was taken up with annoying and tedious first tier technical support calls, and attempts at little special projects I never got very far with because of the constant interruptions. Periodically a co-worker would log me into the other queues as well so I’d be taking billing and reception calls too. In essence, I was a first tier call center drone with an office instead of a cubicle.

During the past six months the workload has gotten lighter and lighter. More and more attrition, fewer and fewer calls, more and more services out of the data center and into the cloud. All I was doing, really, was first tier support, messing about testing mobile broadband devices and feeling guilty about not getting the vmail file cleaned up or moving those Hostopia sites. Any actual sysadmin duties were vanishingly rare.

Then they cut my hours and took me off salary, and started routing evening and weekend support traffic to a call center. As we all know, you never get your hours back: when you get cut it’s because they’re trying to keep you but can’t afford to. The owner of the company had cornered me a couple of times and told me he wanted me to go sit for my CCNA — even said he’d rent me a car to go do it — and said he’d sign a 2-year employment contract if I did, so even though I knew the bottom line had dictated a cut in hours I really was surprised when I got to work this morning and was summoned immediately to a meeting.

Usually you know weeks in advance if you’re gonna get laid off. The contract thing threw off my radar, I guess, but I have to admit I did feel a bit of relief. I’ve been basically counting the hours until Amma’s tour schedule comes out and I could book my vacation dates in May because I’ve needed a vacation so bad and was getting kinda sick of going in there five days a week and not really doing the job I wanted to be doing. I mean, the last time I quit working there it was because I was bored and there was no room for growth which is kinda where I was at this time too.

If you read my Twitter feed you know that I’ve been doing first tier calls for far too damn long. I was not being utilized or engaged at work. I’ve had more than one person encourage me to go find something better to do, but it’s hard to beat an easy job ten blocks from your house when it comes to certain kinds of comfort. I wasn’t even idly job hunting. But now that the universe has seen fit to kick me out, I guess I’ll look for something else.

I was told I’ll get my vacation pay and a week’s severance, but my main concern right now is that I wasn’t employed long enough to be eligible for unemployment benefits. My base year probably started in January of 2011 but I didn’t go back to work until September. As usual, I’m concerned about the tech job market in this town (because there basically isn’t one) and am trying to figure out what else I might do… right now though I’m looking forward to sleeping in for the rest of the week, and maybe doing some utterly irresponsible unemployed day drinking if I can find people who are similarly free.

I’ll file on Friday and hope to God I’m eligible; if I’m not I guess I’ll go and get a food handler’s card next week and start applying at restaurants and grocery store delis. In between, I’m going to go all SPRING CLEANING with my free time and haul a bunch of shit to the Goodwill on the back of my bike.

This is the only time I’ve ever lost a job that didn’t really sting in that sort of hurt-and-embarrassed sort of way. I didn’t know it was coming until I was in the room and felt the vibe, and when they said it I was sort of like, “Eh, cool, I can sleep in tomorrow,” rather than struggling with that flush of heat and shame you’re usually operating through.

I spent an hour wiping my data off my machine (God I hope I got it all — some of it is really not shit you want other people accessing) and collecting all the stupid personal crap one accumulates in one’s office drawers, turned in my keys, and took off by eleven. I hadn’t even finished my coffee.

I’m going to do absolutely nothing of use for the rest of this week. Absolutely nothing at all! Please contact me if you want to give me a job, thanks.

lol aging omg srsly + o jeez germs

March 12th, 2013 | Posted by Mush in Life - (3 Comments)

In which there’s a post because I haven’t been posting for shit for MONTHS.

Okay, so, the new prescription. I now have new glasses and new contacts. Full-on examination routine at the optometrists’ because I’m old: glaucoma tests, retinal images, the works. The new prescription is awesome for distance-viewing (holy SHIT things are clear), but I can’t read — or even see whatever food I’m eating — because I can’t focus on anything less than an arm’s distance away from my face. I’m practicing near vision by looking at things progressively closer to myself and waiting for my eyes to adjust but this sucks and is tedious. Not being able to read a book with one’s contacts in is really lame.

My cycle is getting weirder all the time. My luteal phase is still a textbook perfect 14 days, but my follicular phase is erratic as hell and was only 12 days in February. Two months ago I had a 24-day cycle, which needless to say I was unprepared for. I mean, my average used to be 33 days; now it’s about 29, but seriously: nobody expects a 24-day cycle. That’s just plain insanity. Also the return of the acne: Jesus Christ don’t even get me started on the subject of zits. Good job, hormones.

I think I’ve had some mild hot flashes, too. On the other hand, thaaaaat could just be the unholy amount of wine I drink sometimes messing with my subjective experience of internal temperature. Hard to tell. My hair is probably quite gray but I keep getting it colored. Sometimes my knees hurt. I now feel officially nasty looking lasciviously at dudes under 30.

All of this shit leads me to conclude that I’m old. I’d had no idea youth would be so short, really. I’ve still probably got half my life left, but if my knees are gonna hurt I just don’t know about this because nothing used to bother me more than listening to older people endlessly catalog their maladies like I’ve just done.

Today I am home with a chest cold and laryngitis. Colds make me hungry. Nah, colds make me starving. Excuse me while I go hork down a bowl of curry and then take a two-hour nap with weird dreams.

In which I haven’t posted in over a month so I’m just gonna spew some utterly boring crap into a CMS interface and publish it.

Oh, not much.

You?

Well the usual. Some gigs and stuff. Work, a lot of time fucking off in IRC with kids, some time visiting with friends – mostly the Wendover-Briggs Machine on their comfy patio. A couple loads of laundry, some cooking, some cleaning. I bought some ebooks, took some naps, got my hair did.

The band’s been working up the material from the new album. The guitar festival is next month! Come see it!

I got new glasses and new contacts: expensive but so needed, and I also had my teeth cleaned. I’d much rather spend that money on the vacation I so desperately need, but of course I don’t have insurance and I need the services so the money has to be spent.

(In related news I’m really pretty pissed off that I am going to be required to carry a health insurance policy I can’t afford in the very near future. I mean, if I could afford it I WOULD ALREADY FUCKING HAVE IT. (One of the many reasons I choose not to own a car is the expense of insurance. In all my years of paying car insurance, I never once got anything back out of it. Even if you pay for years and your claim is valid, they find a way to deny you.) Like the lottery, insurance appears to be nothing more than an idiot tax, but unlike the lottery it’s fucking mandatory. Insurance is merely a way to make the greedy richer, just to make a hideously weak blanket statement.)

I got my hours cut 25% and have been taken off salary and demoted to hourly. My employer says this change is intended to make me happier in my job, but I’m not sure how a pay cut is supposed to increase my contentment. In compensation for the cut, I’m supposed to be free of first-tier calls, but for now they’re still happening. Hopefully when the kinks are ironed out I won’t have to set up dial-up with some old guy on Windows 95 ever, ever again.

I’m now working 10 – 5, so the waking up at 5:30 bullshit is curtailed for the nonce, but I don’t really feel like I have more time off. Maybe I’ll decide to work 8 – 3 and get a PT evening job, except that would never work with my gig schedule so fuck it. While I do get pissy sometimes about having to do gigs, at the base I’m grateful I gig frequently enough to even be grumpy about it.

I have seen no Oscar nominated films. I consume very little news. I watch BBC shows on streaming video sometimes. I have about 30 books on my Kindle I haven’t finished reading. I took a three-hour nap last Sunday afternoon after sleeping in late and before going to bed early.

Apropos of nothing, I spend a lot of time wondering about the people who find it necessary to admit they’re posting/IRCing/tweeting/etc while pooping. Is this a sign of poor potty training, or a wonderful lack of shame? I just cant TELL.