The Fall haul

M and I went a little crazy at Green Mountain Orchards in Putney, Vt., this morning. We ate half a dozen delicious apple cider donuts, drank freshly pressed warm apple cider and brought home both a bushel of apples (we picked ourselves) and two monster-sized pumpkins (one was 31 pounds, the other 35 pounds).

I definitely see some baking in my future.

Zombies Run

Seeking music to move my feet

While my husband was jaunting about Europe for his 40th birthday, I was tasked with walking our dog Duncan. To keep myself from going mad from boredom, I would take my iPhone along and turn on a wonderful app called Zombies, Run!.

Here’s how it works: The zombie apocalypse has arrived. The undead are everywhere, and it’s your job to run/walk for a certain amount of time and obtain supplies for your tiny town of survivors. When zombies get near, you run/walk faster (thus providing interval training). All the while, the app’s characters are giving you orders, sharing stories and basically making you laugh. In between the story segments, the app connects to your workout playlist and plays your favorite tunes to keep your spirits high as you trudge through the monotony of exercise.

The app’s tagline says it all: Get fit. Escape zombies. Become a hero.

After using the app for more than 20 hours, I’m almost finished with the first season of adventures. I reached my step goal last week and will likely do so again this week. More importantly, I’m dreading these physical activities just a little bit less.

The downside? I’m getting tired of my music. Here’s what I’ve been listening to:

* $165 Million + Interest (Into) The Round Up by David Holmes
* Abracadabra by the Steve Miller Band
* Ain’t Nuthin’ But A She Thing by Salt-N-Pepa
* All I Really Want by Alanis Morissette
* Alphabet St. by Prince
* Beat It by Michael Jackson
* Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve
* Bodyrock by Moby
* Breakin’… There’s No Stopping Us (12″ Club Mix) by Ollie & Jerry
* C’mon And Get My Love by Cathy Dennis
* The Chemicals Between Us by Bush
* The Classic Drum Battle by A&T
* Diamond Dogs by Beck and David Bowie
* Everybody by Black Box
* (The Forgotten People) by Thievery Corporation
* Freakshow On The Dance Floor by Bar-Kays
* Freedom by George Michael
* Get Off (Extended) by Prince
* Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now) by C+C Music Factory
* Hard to Handle by The Black Crowes
* If by Janet Jackson
* Jazz Machine by Black Machine
* Jump N’ Move by The Brand New Heavies [featuring Jamalski]
* Jungle by Jamie N Commons & X Ambassadors
* Let the Music Play by Shannon
* Let’s Dance by David Bowie
* Let’s Go Crazy by Prince
* Living Dead GirlRob Zombie
* Love Runs Out by OneRepublic
* Man In the Box by Alice In Chains
* Mas by Kinky
* Modern Love by David Bowie
* Open Of My Love by Jennifer Lopez
* Peter Gunn by Art Of Noise
* The Power by Snap!
* Pump Up the Jam by Technotronic
* Pump Up The Volume by Marrs
* Push It (Remix) by Salt-N-Pepa
* Raspberry Beret by Prince
* Salome by Chayanne
* Samba Hey (Magalena Mix) by el general
* Shake Your Bon-Bon by Ricky Martin
* Shakin’ by Eddie Money
* She Bangs by Ricky Martin
* Sidewalk Talk by Jellybean
* Situation (US 12″ Remix) by Yaz
* Slang by Def Leppard
* Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson
* Supermassive Black Hole by Muse
* Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) by Eurythmics
* Techno Rave Entrance by Blade
* Thunder by Prince
* Too Funky by George Michael
* The Truth (feat. Roisin & J-Live) Techno Rave Entrance by Handsome Boy Modeling School
* U Got the Look by Prince
* UK Jamaican by Tricky
* Unbelievable by EMF
* Vogue by Madonna
* Weapon Of Choice by Fatboy Slim
* You Dropped a Bomb On Me (Single Version) by The Gap Band
* You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) by Dead or Alive

As you can see, I have eclectic tastes. While I do tend to prefer tunes from the ’80s and ’90s, I’m game to try just about anything with a good beat. If you have suggestions, feel free to leave ‘em in the comments.


The bit at the bottom

I love cooking. Baking, too, though I’m told by professional chefs that these are two very different skill-sets. The former involves creativity and experimentation, the latter is science and beauty. Yet to me, both activities are kitchen witchery.

There’s something magical about cooking and baking. You take ingredients from all parts of the planet, combine them skillfully, add heat or cold or motion — and ta da! A dish appears. You can transform the remnants of meat sticking to the bottom of a hot pan into a smooth and silky sauce. Combine cornstarch, vanilla, butter, sugar, eggs and milk in a pot and the concoction will transmogrify into a thick and delicious pudding. Pour heavy cream into a cold stainless steel bowl, whip it into shape and the liquid becomes a delectable, fluffy cloud.

Serving food to others is also an enchanting experience. Friends and family, why, they already adore you. But wake ‘em up with the smell of freshly baked bread or cinnamon rolls, and love will fill their hearts. Hand ‘em a mug of steaming tea or coffee or cocoa on an frigid winter’s day, and you’ll warm their bodies. Sit ‘em down over a holiday table, and the food you serve will not only feed their stomachs, it’ll create traditions and memories.

The best part of edible alchemy occurs when no one is looking, for that’s when I revel in the secrets of cookery. Inside the kitchen, I make music out of banging pots and clinking silverware. I use the colors and shapes of ingredients to create art on a plate. With herbs, spices and salts, I intensify the flavors of food. And before any meal is served, I take a moment to enjoy the bit at the bottom: the gritty, chocolate brownie batter; the smooth, warm comfort of custard; the last dollop of creamy mashed potatoes still sticking to the wooden spoon. That tasty morsel is all mine.

(Photo by Humusak2. Used with permission.)

raven and books stamp

10 books that stayed with me

My friend Dawn Staszak, author of “A Guru in the Office” and “A Guru in the Nursery,” recently challenged me to create a list of the 10 books that have stayed with me over the years. Here’s what I came up with on the fly:

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
2. Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
3. Pet Sematary by Stephen King
4. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
5. 84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
6. A Is For Alibi by Sue Grafton
7. Love Ain’t Nothing But Sex Misspelled by Harlan Ellison
8. The Corpse Had A Familiar Face by Edna Buchanan
9. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
10. A Drink Before The War by Dennis Lehane

What’s on your list?

Cemetery seraphim

Quote of the day

“And when he died, I suddenly realized I wasn’t crying for him at all, but for the things he did. I cried because he would never do them again, he would never carve another piece of wood or help us raise doves and pigeons in the backyard or play the violin the way he did, or tell us jokes the way he did. He was part of us and when he died, all the actions stopped dead and there was no one to do them the way he did. He was individual. He was an important man. I’ve never gotten over his death. Often I think what wonderful carvings never came to birth because he died. How many jokes are missing from the world, and how many homing pigeons untouched by his hands? He shaped the world. He did things to the world. The world was bankrupted of ten million fine actions the night he passed on.” –Ray Bradbury, “Fahrenheit 451″