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January 16, 1999
a year ago

Obsessions

Well, for all my talk, I managed to prove myself wrong, pretty continuously today, about not having obsessions. It was one thing after another...

Got home Friday night and did the fried rice I'd been thinking of for a few days. Got sweet, tiny peas, green onion, and some of the BBQ'ed pork, fried them all together. Then beat up an egg and poured it into the hot skillet, and immediately added all the leftover, cold rice from the eggplant day and mashed the rice into the egg. Golden fried rice resulted, I added the goodies, then added a firm dollop of ketchup and fried it until the ketchup started to caramelize. Mmmmm...

John got home around 9 p.m.. Dan dropped him off and sampled a few ounces of John's holiday ale before wandering off to his house. It was very, very nice to have John back. I fed him ramen and he liked it and it was good.

I didn't get up until about 10:30, showered leisurely, and wasn't really awake until noon, by which time John was starving, so we went to the Brown Bag for breakfast. John ate all of his Country breakfast, with pancakes as big as a pan instead of hash browns. I had about a third of my potatos, ate two of the four strips of nice, thick bacon, ate the two scrambled eggs with ketchup, and only one slice of toast of the two huge slabs of buttered white bread. The rest I stuck in a to-go box in the back of the car.

We did errands afterwards, Uwajimaya, Computer Renaissance, Eagle, and Trader Joe's. John bought a faucet fixture as a hose outside had been left full of water and had frozen and burst the faucet. So it had to be replaced. So when we got back home, he turned off the water to do the replacement and found out that the two that he'd bought both didn't fit, and he had to run off in the car to go find another one.

In the meantime, when we got home, our mail and two Priority Mail boxes from Levenger had arrived. With my Circa notebook and my cool 3x5 notecards, which were quite the indulgence for me. The notebook is everything I'd hoped it would be and a bit more. It's also scary. I haven't, for years, been intimidated by a piece of blank paper; but these sheets scare me. They're cool grey scale printed with nice grids, neat lines, have annotation side boxes, subject boxes and date/page boxes and are heavy duty paper and lovely and crisp and really damned expensive. Refills are about ten cents a darned page. So, for some reason, I just couldn't write on 'em. I figured out that if I could copy them, then I might be able to write on 'em, but, more likely, I'd just write on the copies and Circa punch the copies to actually *use* and keep the originals pristine and for use.

Oddly enough, my initial reaction was to find my old three-subject spiral notebook and rip it apart and organize it into a three-ring binder with partitions and everything. My gaming book. So now all three versions of Jordan rest near each other, BT has two stories, Janet Lee's two stories now sit together in the binder. The whole Whirlwind section is now put together, annotated with EP and what was spent where and when as well as the character sheet redone on crisp new paper, and some concept of where I want to go with it. Hemingway went into his/her own slot, and a few throw-away In Nomine angels got stuck into theirs. I also, no surprise, had a whole recipe section, where I stuck all the recipes I'd scribbled into that notebook, having nothing else available.

I also found my ream of Great White paper, 24 pound bond paper with a laser printer finish that is just gorgeous to fountain pens. Now I want to copy or print note organization stuff on *that* and use the Circa punch on my custom made stuff rather than the factory make stuff...

The notecards were really excellent little bits of design. They're 3x5 cards on really nice, heavy stock paper with no glossy finish, so you can actually write on 'em. There are 150 in the pack, half white, half parchment colored, a third have a simple window, a third have a grid on 'em and a third have narrow-rule lines all in finest grey to keep out of the way of the writing. They're perfect business cards because they have room for notes and extra thoughts, they're good notecards for scribbling on and they're nice for organizing smaller thought structures, in word, picture, or graph, into larger structures. I really love the quality of these things.

By the time I was done with my little obsession John had come back from raiding two different Eagle hardware stores and had finished with the faucet replacement and got the water back on. It was also nearly 6:30, so time for me to indulge in two things I've been wanting to do with John's appetite around.

The first was a Balducci's inspired meatball. If you take a look at their meatball listing, it lists most of what they put into their meatballs and it sounded really appealing. So I modified it for fun and to my taste as well. Used two-thirds of a pound of ground beef and added a third of pound of that gourmet quality ground pork. Pulled out the food processor and used it to turn the slab of white bread from the Brown Bag into bread crumbs. Probably made about a cup of them, if not two. Put all that in. Then dumped half an onion into the processor bowl and processed it until it was mush. Put the mush in the bowl with the meat and crumbs and stuff. Then I cut up a chunk of dried up, old Romano and stuck it into the processor's bowl and turned it on. The violence of the chunks hitting the side of the bowl rattled the whole food processor around the first few seconds. I got a good feel for just how fast and just how hard those blades swing. That was frightening. Then the blades reduced the hard cheese, gradually, into powder. About half a cup of powdered hard cheese. That went into the bowl as well.

The egg got stuck in. Then more dried parsley than I usually put into anything, nearly two tablespoons of the stuff. About two teaspoons of dried oregano was crushed into there and, on a whim, I added about a teaspoon of tarragon. The lemony scent seemed to bode well for the mixture. Then I kneaded the whole mass with my hands until it was all evenly mixed together. Washed my hands twice, and turned on the oven to about 350. Got a cookie sheet with a lip and sprayed olive oil on it. Then shaped a good three dozen meatballs onto the cookie sheet and slipped it into the oven.

The spaghetti sauce was inspired by a glimpse of The Godfather I got while John was away. They were playing the movie somewhere, and there's the moment when the youngest son is being told by one of the big bruisers of the mobsters how to cook for 40 men. A bit of olive oil, add some garlic, then some chopped onions, saute 'til a bit brown, then some tomato paste, then tomatoes and sausage, meatballs, and meat, then use as spaghetti sauce. I did basically that, though I added some sun-dried tomatos with the garlic. I also sauted the tomato paste until it started giving off that rich, sweet scent of caramelization, as it adds great depth to a sauce. Also, with the tomatos, I added a good two teaspoons of crushed, dried, sweet basil and one bay leaf and let it simmer until the meatballs were done, about twenty minutes after they went into bake, and then I dropped eight of the meatballs into the sauce to simmer for a while as I started the water to boil for the spaghetti.

It turned out beautifully. The romano cheese really made the meatballs, giving them a savoryness and depth that I've never had in meatballs before. It was probably the one missing thing I hadn't had. That was really keen. The rest of the meatballs went into the freezer for use during the week. The leftover sauce went into the fridge as well. Yay! Leftovers!

I spent the evening poring over the Levenger catalog, wishing for all kinds of things from there and contemplating the most strategic ways to get what I really wanted from it. Along with longing over several of the 14k and 18k gold nib fountain pens, I slowly figured out a strategy for the notebooks I really used and really needed. I piled up all the notebooks that I presently really use and nearly all of them are spiral bounds. I like the flexibility and being able to write on both sides, and I use little ones for notes, work, and reminders, big ones for my journal and dream journal and the latter two don't have to be reorganizable. The list books could even be made from once used paper and be top bound rather than side bound.

If I actually get the punch and use it, the paper cost of Circa-actual pages would be break even on the punch after about 800 pages. That's about 10 notebooks of the 80 page variety, which is about what I go through in three years. So if I stuck with it, this would pay off after a while. But the coolest thing is being able to Circa punch *anything* and stick it in my notebooks and not lose the flexibility.

Yes. I dreamed of Circa pages.

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