Challenge Day Twenty-Five

I didn’t think I was ambitious.

Let me tell you about all the things I did today that weren’t on my list. First, I went to the grocery, because I did not own a sugar thermometer (required for the preparation of genoise sponge), nor did I have lemons or oranges, as I needed for my baking. I also needed thread, because although I have 67 colors of thread, I didn’t have the color I needed. At the store, I ran into one of my aunts, and spent ten minutes or so chatting with her.

Back home, I did some reading while I ran a load of laundry, and when it was ready for the dryer, I spent the better part of an hour sorting the two loads of clean, already dry, laundry that I washed last week and never addressed. I was surprised to discover how late it was, and turned to my sewing machine to (theoretically) finish up a little side project I took on for a friend at the dance studio. Instead of whipping that out, however, I spent half an hour trying to exorcise my machine of its demons, to no avail. I’m still trying to figure out a solution to that disaster!

I got back to the grindstone with dance class, followed by a mediocre attempt at genoise sponge (cake), and a poem (not about the cake). Then, because the ganache I made yesterday hadn’t set in time for me to make them yesterday, I made some Halloween truffles (two kinds: “ghost” truffles covered with powdered sugar, and “crunchy bone” truffles covered with nonpareils—see the featured image!) My plan is to potentially take them to a Halloween party, along with the genoise sponge (after I make some icing), tomorrow evening, after I go to a wedding.

Just typing that, I realize how ridiculous tomorrow is going to be. But first things first….

Daily Challenges

Intimate Time?
CookingToday’s Menu: I started with a breakfast shake again; for lunch I ate cottage cheese with pears; Guy cooked up some sweet potatoes and onions to mix with black beans for dinner tacos.
Reading (Poetry)Today Abby sent me a poem that she wrote, which isn’t published, and so I can’t share it in full. It’s called “Reasons to Love Us” and it tries to get at what is good about people. She riffs on the image of violins—being made, being played—and ends with a reminder that, still, life isn’t all joy. In her email to me, she wrote:
“I read an article about how we’re killing all the big-leaf maples in the Pacific Northwest, then drove past someone kneeling in the dirt off 152nd to take a picture of one.[…] I hold this tenderness against our injuries like a cold compress.”
I’m sure someday I’ll see it in publication.
Reading (Fiction)I’m getting to the end of The Poisonwood Bible, and it’s at the point where I care so much about the characters, I want to keep reading to find out what happens to them. I’m also going to be very sad when they are gone, at the end of my reading.
Reading (Nonfiction)What do you know about germ theory? I am perpetually fascinated by the fact that humans have known for ages to do their business downstream from where they collect water, but not why until less than two hundred years ago. Prior to about the 1840s, there was some understanding of disease transmission, mainly the miasma theory, but also standing pools of sewage in the streets, even though the Romans tried to give us an app for that. I’m speaking of the western world though; medieval Islamic scholars knew contagion to spread through many avenues, some half a millennium earlier.
MusicOh dear. Another day of no music (and no songwriting progress!) But did you see all the other stuff I did?
Postcard Poem
I wrote my poem based on a passage I read in The Poisonwood Bible, where Kingsolver describes the people of the Congolese villages going about their lives with complete disregard for the political upheaval some miles away, and how they are the backbone of history, carrying on with life. (To be clear, I know history includes anthropological details, just those are usually afterthoughts, not the core of the story.)

Our books hold names of
presidents, queens, archdukes,
explorers, prize winners, martyrs,
those great people who stepped
away from modest mundanity,
but history is etched on bones
of caregivers, protectors, sustainers,
those who carry fresh water,
or who fell trees with which
to build, or maybe burn.
– Sarah Reebs, 10/25/2019
Trash Pickup And, another day with no trash. Howie went to the dog park, and then I was occupied with cake, so Guy took Howie on his evening walk without me. I don’t feel disappointed in myself, or guilty in any way. I know there will be trash tomorrow, and the next day, because people are inconsiderate and self-centered. I’ll just persist. Some days on, others not so much.

Today’s Challenges

I had to leave dance class early again. I almost didn’t go, because I suspected I would hit the same wall I hit on Tuesday night, but I felt better enough that I thought I’d try it. Sure enough, after about twenty minutes of movement, I had to stop. My shoulder joints in particular were protesting. This isn’t some push-through-the-pain situation—I could do some real damage if I do too much—so I accepted my body’s limits. I am not super down about having to leave early again, but I do feel a little defeated.

I am not totally done with today’s Great British Baking Show/Bake-Off challenge, technically: I made two flavors of genoise sponge, based off of this technical challenge recipe from the show. The recipe calls for three flavors, and I was originally going to do that, but then I decided that that felt too hard, so I cut it back to two (lemon and orange). It’s a good thing, too, because I wouldn’t have had enough bowls for a third portion of batter. As it was, I used basically all of our clean bowls, and had to wash (rinse) a couple mid-bake to reuse them for something else. The end result wasn’t even that spectacular.

Perhaps I overbaked them, perhaps I overworked the batter. Maybe my separating them into individual cups (because I don’t own a tray bake pan like they wanted) changed how they baked. I really don’t know. What I do know is that they are a bit on the crumbly side, they’re a little sticky, and 100% not worth the amount of effort they required. Tomorrow I’m going to make some vanilla icing or frosting (I actually can’t make the Italian meringue in the recipe because I don’t have a hand mixer to beat over heat), cement the orange on top of the lemon, crown it with a dollop, and top them with sprinkles for some cakelets reminiscent of candy corn. And then I will be done with genoise sponge forever.

Today was supposed to be Day 5 of my songwriting challenge, but I didn’t get to it (see above for all the other things I did instead.) Since I’ll barely be home tomorrow, I really have no choice but to tack my missed days onto the end of the 7-day window. Alternatively, I can accept failure, or I can try to smash something together in one day and know I didn’t give it an honest effort, but I would rather feel good about this project. So since I’m in charge, and the schedule is all made up anyway, I’m adding two more days to the window, and planning to record my song on Tuesday. This feels achievable again, and I can go to sleep with a sense of optimism.

Goodnight! Good morning! Good afternoon! Good evening! Goodnight!