CrowBiz

…funk for the old soul…

Archive for September, 2009

Mr. Crow Builds His Dream House

Posted by crowbiz on September 24, 2009

No, it wasn’t Cary Grant toiling away in our backyard all summer, it was Mr. Crow, living proof of back-busting, hard-ass German heritage.  

 

BEFORE

BEFORE

It all started so simply.  SonWon mused that it might be nice to upgrade the boys’ years-old “playhouse” (more of a play platform with a death drop slide) and cheerfully drew up a few outlandish sketches for improvements.  We had to reject the three-story plan and go with something that would fit the confines of our wee lot, but Mr Crow did manage to use one of the ideas.  Perhaps the biggest fuel was a borrowed book on treehouses, some humble and many stunningly sumptuous.  Using the existing playhouse he built six years ago, he began the reconfiguration in July.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Working with only his own sketches and some kind of Lego gene, Mr Crow managed to whip up a pretty fab launching pad for the boys’ – and possibly adult – fun.  Minimal help came in the form of a boy or two bracing a board, hauling lumber, or handing over a drill, but it was largely a solo job.  I stayed almost entirely clear, other than to dictate where the reaches of the structure could not go.  Oh, and I did the metal roof with him.  During construction, an unknown neighbor in the next-door rental called out to Mr. Crow, “Do your kids call you ‘SuperDad’?”  Windows and doors are salvaged – the house was sort of made to fit around them.  All cedar.  Two ladders.  Deck.  Driftwood railings.  And ~ drumroll ~ a trap door! (a great anxiety engine for mom, who has seen a fair share of clunked heads and pinched fingers already). 

Treehouse3   To everyone’s dismay, I keep threatening to gussy it up with a few window boxes or planters next year, which I fully realize will spoil the intent of a boys’ playhouse, but still, it is an awfully big wooden rectangle.  Soon enough, there will be drawings, carvings and homemade weapons of torture peppering it, but I’m determined to sneak in a few garden touches when no one is looking.  

 

 

It was christened on Labor Day with the first sleepover.  Ridiculously, four boys actually managed to fit and sleep inside after fashioning wall-to-wall sleeping bags and cushions, but at 7 and 10, they’re young enough to still be satisfied sleeping like puppies in a pile.  Cleverly (I can’t imagine this was accidental), Mr Crow scaled it to comfortably accommodate two adults in a horizontal position, but the house has yet to endure a trial run.  For the time being, I like to eat my lunch on the deck.

Hats off and bottoms up to Mr. Crow!

  

Boy den, ready for accessorizing.  Girls allowed.

Boy den, ready for accessorizing. Girls allowed.

Posted in Life In the Mod Podge Lane | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments »

I Know You’re Out There

Posted by crowbiz on September 9, 2009

Every day, the search terms “bauhaus” and “canned bread” lead to my blog.

Every.  Single.  Day.

Hm.

 

Welcome to the working worldOh, and then there are a few of you who like to watch (yeah, like that), thinking I don’t know.  Look, when I had my first job working in the Fellini-inspired Shriner’s restaurant at age 16, I got scammed a couple times by the dishwashers and cooks watching me change into my work clothes in the ladies’ room.  At the beginning of each shift, I’d go downstairs to the washroom/changing room to get into my regulation garb and put away my civvies.  I’d noticed that there would often be a flurry of rushing footsteps along the stairway after I started changing, and curiously, I’d meet a guy or two on the way upstairs once I was finished.  It took a couple times, but I put the pieces together and surmised that they were jimmying a few ceiling tiles between the men’s and ladies’ rooms and standing atop toilet tanks for the show.  So one day I went in to change, waited a moment to make sure all the guys who could fit were likely in position… and turned off the lights in the ladies’ room.  A chorus of “Whaaa?!!”  and “Oh no!!” rang out from the other side of the wall, and that was the last time I changed at work.

These here fancy blog stats sure are something.  They tell me where you came from and how many times you came back and when you were on and what brand of toilet paper you used to clean up.  Just say hi, huh?

Posted in Life In the Mod Podge Lane | Tagged: , , , , , | 5 Comments »

I Despise Food Writing! Stop Me!

Posted by crowbiz on September 3, 2009

 

Fine Dining chez Crow

Fine Dining chez Crow

I swear, I didn’t realize.

 

Luckily, this dawned on me before someone else had to point it out.  Many of my posts have something to do with food.  It all started with the woeful Limburger story and mushroomed from there.  Not wanting to run a restaurant, canned bread, the Garbage Plate, my useful “recipes” (more coming), an adventure with rye bread, and pursuing sukiyaki, even though it was only the musical kind.  The thrilling crescendo came with the recent poutine review.  Where did all this come from, I asked my reflection in the mirror.  I heeded my own advice and looked within.

Three important points emerged:  

1)  All of my food discussions center on something relatively low-brow.  

Come on, canned bread and gooped-up fries?  Humble, but good eats.  And believe me, even if I had known the Limburger had been hit by a car, I’d still have eaten some.  I’m not above admitting it.  My posts have generated a fair share of “eewws” and have probably led to the misconception that I sit in my Tyvec-encased trailer eating dry stuffing mix washed down with store-brand cola.  With my bra strap slipping down along my flaccid bingo wing, crumbs accreting on my gut-shelf.   Wielding a remote.  The judgmental conclusion would be that I don’t know bacala from Bac-Os, nor camembert from Cheez-Wiz, but I caution you to be a careful thinker.  My adoration of low-rent food simply means that I’m not a snob.   I have no tolerance or patience for people who reject and mock foods that haven’t passed the cool-trendy-expensive-foreign-gentrified-organic-upper-middle-class test, and I’m downright embarrassed for anyone who would really care what others might think of their reaching for a Slim Jim (nacho flavor rocks).

OK, busted.  I am a snob about a couple things.  Tea.  Chocolate (“we do not eat brown wax in this house”).  

2)  For all my wordiness on food, I actually detest, abhor, loathe, and 27-other-thesaurus-synonyms-for-hate “food writing” and reviews.

H-A-T-E.  Can’t stand reading it, but somehow it crosses my path at times, such as when I’m stuck at the mechanic’s shop and have read every word of the rest of the newspaper or magazine at hand.  Many things about it drive me nuts, one of them being the amateurish nature of most food writing that finds me.  Shiver.  Hackneyed phrases like “blanketed with a ___ sauce” and “the ___ was generously studded with ___”  set me off so badly I could fork out the writer’s eyeballs and “infuse” them in acid.  I’ll only accept the word “flaky” in the psychopathological sense.  The strain of these writers trying to seem knowledgeable, coupled with a criminal lack of originality, is all too painful.  After all, food critiquing is equal-opportunity, since we all eat, we all have preferences, and we often have something to say about it.  Everyone wishes they had their own Food Network show, but frankly, half of the people on there shouldn’t even have their own Food Network show.  Really, I’d rather hear Joe Blow plainly relate that the plover-brain ravioli in a reduction of Rudbeckia nectar was “awesome!” than read that it was blanketed and studded.  

3)  I like things simple.

Yes, it’s fun to eat at a nice restaurant in which the chef has labored to concoct a most interesting array of offerings (often, presentation at the expense of taste).  I’ll eat most anything.  I’ll eat most any combination of anythings.  But I don’t like good stuff messed with too much.  Lobster smeared and stuffed with six ingredients?  Just throw the freaking thing out, it’s a waste.  Lobster.  Butter.  Too much great food comes to innovative ruination.  Leave it the heck alone, at least in front of me.  All this makes me seem hopelessly unsophisticated, but then so is the Buddhist monk for not reaching Level 17 in Grand Theft Auto, if that’s how your critical thinking works.  Let me suggest that I’m discerning with open arms.  What do I order on the uncommon occasion of upward dining?  Red meat, rare, because anyone can pile up twelve precious ingredients in their “signature dish,” but it takes restraint and finesse to get meat the way I like it – waved once over a candle flame with a sprinkle of salt.

In order to boost my food cred, I have to resort to pulling rank.  As a sensory-perceptual scientist and educator, one of my jobs is exploring the fascinating and still mysterious world of human taste perception (OK, so we only spend two classes on it).  I pass around the PTC paper samples to the class so each willing student can place it on his or her tongue and determine what category they fall into:  a nontaster, a taster (the largest group), or a supertaster (thank you Lazypedia, for a fair lay explanation and for referencing Linda Bartoshuk; but students, if any of you employ web references, I’ll fail you summarily).  Hilarity ensues as the unsuspecting supertasters wince, flinch, and bolt for the nearest water fountain cursing my name while the nontasters and tasters sit there puzzled.  I’m a supertaster, too.  So I need it simple.  My superior number of fungiform papiliae trump your measly few, so lay off my Frito fetish. Turns out, I also have the slightest whiff of synesthesia, so many flavors at once in my mouth is rather like an unsupervised 6th grade orchestra of ADHD boys playing Schoenberg.

But wait, you say, what about my devotion to things like the Garbage Plate and poutine?  Those are piled with ingredients and flavors, right?  Yes, but they’re simple.  Fat.  Salt.  Who can’t handle a mouthful of that?

So from here on out, I may or may not talk about food – OK, I’m pretty sure I will – but I pinky-promise not to mention blanketing, studding, or infusion.

Posted in Life In the Mod Podge Lane | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »