Episode 306, The Bad, the Ugly, and the Goodwill

Today I decided to go get my $120 Connecticut driver's license. It took 1.5 hours, not including travel time, and the photo lady didn't tell me when to smile so the picture is not so great. ANYWAY, that brings me to the Goodwill, where I found, among other things, a suit for interviews...

...so if I ever get any interviews, I'll be ready. I also found this interesting "Northwest Indian" beach ball.

The company name for them are "Globals" and they have this one, a Japanese motif, an African cloth pattern, and an Egyptian one. Oh, wait, I just read the box. More specifically,

• Japanese Edo kite patterns with Hashimoto warriors
• African kente cloth patterns of the Akan people of Ghana
• Northwest Indian blanket patterns of the Tlingit tribe
• Egyptian imagery from the tomb of Queen Nefertari

The design is really cool, and it almost looks like a piece of pottery, until you realize it's a beach ball.

I also found a classic all metal, paper-roll cap gun, complete with caps!

And a friend for Bucky, now that Gemini has moved in with Rebecca.

I think I'll keep the cap gun loaded, just in case the new kid gets out of line...

...they have been known to develop the ability to breathe fire.


Today's Adventures

...included taking still more cardboard to the recycling center, where they let you use the cardboard compactor!

You pull right up next to it and throw your boxes in, then run around to the back of it and push the button, then run back around to the front to watch the boxes get crushed! They should rent it out for parties! I was tempted to throw some random Corollapiece in there, but it isn't totally unsupervised.

After the cardboard was out of the car, there was room for LAUNDRY! Off we go on...

2006 A Laundry Odd-essy
"I gotta get my clothes outta this machine so I can put them in the dryer."

"I'm sorry Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."

After careful reasoning with the machine, I did eventually get my clothes and put them in the dryer.

And on a final note, check out this lovely blue wall that I get to park my bike next to. Brilliant.

Nature, nurture

Saturday we went for an attempted hike on one of the "blue blazed" trails in the area. When we arrived at the designated trailhead, we found a small stream, lots of rocks, picnic tables, some snow, and no trail. There were other cars parked where we were, but the footprints that we could see were all leading us nowhere. Pretty, but nowhere.

We walked back to the car, and realized that we had to walk on the side of the road, cross a bridge, and then the trail was there on the right. No signs, no mention of this anywhere online, so let me be the first to tell you online, if you go looking for the Mattabesett blue blazed trail, the trailhead at Seven Falls Roadside Park is uphill from the parallel parking area, across the bridge over the stream, and on your right. Once there, there are some tiny old signs, about 15 feet up a tree that say "Mattabesett Trail" on them, but they are tiny.

The trail we did get onto led us uphill for a bit, onto some ATV trail for accessing high voltage power lines, and then we lost the trail, doubled back, found the trail and ended up back by the stream, this time on the other side. The trail trial was a bust, but the water was frozen in really cool ways on some of the rocks in the stream.

It was a good adventure overall, but I have alot to learn about CT's blue blazed trail markers.

Yesterday I baked bread, for about 6 hours. Two loaves, the old fashioned way, yeast in water with sugar, add flour, mix, knead, let rest/rise, knead, let rest/rise, bake. It turned out pretty good.

We don't have a baking stone (yet), but I put an extra baking sheet at the bottom of our oven on the lowest rack to help even out the heat (electric) a bit. The top shelf was originally too close to the top of the oven, and the loaves were browning too fast, so I kicked it down a notch and covered them with a piece of foil.

After complete cooling, the slicing went well and we enjoyed some late night toast and jam. One loaf in the freezer and one for this week's hammysammys (all-purpose term for sandwiches). Next comes the sourdough...


Our grill is an awesome grill.

I found the local Goodwill, and it hasn't let me down...

New in box, just had to spend 2 hours assembling it. I realize it isn't prime grilling season, but I couldn't pass up the color, and the fact that it came with a roasting spit and spit-rotating motor(not pictured)! There's a handle on the bottom that raises and lowers the grill grate a few inches so you can "adjust" the heat.

A welcome addition to our recently reclaimed porch, which was so full of flattened cardboard that it was difficult to open the door. You can see our clothesline pulley in the background. Just like real tenement living!

Our Hacienda house.

Our Hacienda.

Downtown Middletown is on the Connecticut river, which is nice, and I guess Wesleyan has some sort of rowing team that practices out there.

Middletown also has the Waterbed/Sapporo store, where we had delicious sushi the other night.

There's also the Middlesex Fruitery, which has been in business forever, and has been run by the same family almost forever. They don't have much floorspace, but what they do have is excellent, and it's not just fruit. The odd thing (to me anyway) is that there is no self service allowed for the produce. You walk in, they ask if you need help, and you say that you need 2 grapefruit, a head of lettuce, and a mango, and they pick the stuff out for you. There are packaged goods that you can select yourself, and a great cheese cooler in the back. If only they could sell beer and wine...



I know everyone told me CT was going to be expensive, but we found that getting your license here is around $120. That's coming from out of state and them giving you an eye test and a background check. Oh, $120 and 2 hours of your life, that is.

The past few days have been nice, despite all the time at the DMV, and we've been walking around, looking at the old houses and getting our bearings. We also went back to our incredible library and checked out even more stuff, including a VHS set of Poirot mysteries and the first season of the Office (British) on DVD. We decide we have no need for Netflix, or any video store anytime soon. There's even a 3 tape set of "Lost Buckminster Fuller", containing speeches and presentations of his over the history of his career.

We like the location, we like the weather, and everyone we've encountered so far has been really nice. Today's mission is to find a supplier of cat food, and maybe swing by Trader Joe's for people supplies.


Shameless plug

Our new phone is set up, and it's VOIP. It's from Vonage, and it's pretty slick. You get a router box that connects to your internet box (DSL or cable modem), and then the phone plugs into that and you have phoneage. For $24.99 a month, unlimited US, Canadian, and Puerto Rican calls, with voicemail, Caller ID, and all the usual bells and whistles.

The only drawback (so far...) is that it uses E911, which means that you need to keep a current address on file with them, and they use any number of call banks with dispatchers for emergency services when you call 911. It is local that way, but maybe not as fast, maybe not as direct. They recommend the ol' fashioned method of keeping local emergency phone numbers by the phone for Fire, Police, and EMS. Also, being broadband, it doesn't work when the power goes out. So keep your celly charged, yo.

I also got my library card today, and promptly checked out:

Cat Power - You Are Free
Golden Smog - Down By The Old Mainstream
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - I See A Darkness

Bend It Like Beckham
H. H. Holmes
Capturing the Friedmans

Oh, yeah, a book too, a biography of Buster Keaton by Edward McPherson.


The beer bread.

The beer bread.
The beer bread., originally uploaded by doctorhectic.

Home Cookin'

In order to make the new digs feel like a home, we're making soup and bread tonight for dinner. Also this cooking/baking meets several other needs beyond dinner, 1) Our apartment still smells a little like fresh paint, 2) It is REALLY windy and cold outside (and I've BEEN to North Dakota), and 3) It tests our improvisation skills in the kitchen.

"I'm going to make some bread to go with the soup." says I.
"I gave away all the yeast before we moved." says she.
"Consarnit woman!" says I.

So, I rooted around online and found this little gem:

From: Sandy Lemons
I make a beer bread that is fantastic..very simple, too..

Beer Batter Bread

3 cups self rising flour
3 Tablespoons sugar
12 oz. room temp beer

Mix all together and pour into a regular bread pan..Bake 350 about 30 minutes or until lighly browned on top....Remove when cool enough to handle and place on rack.

Now..seems to me that you can add some cooked well drained veggies to this..I have used herbs and sun dried tomatoes in this bread..I don't see why you couldn't use some dried bell pepper flakes or onions..or even some sauted and well drained zukes or carrots or frozen corn...I would not, however use anything like sweet potato, carrot or pumpkin puree as it is a moist heavy bread to begin with...

...and while sandy lemons don't sound very appetizing, the baking bread in the oven smells delicious. For beer I used the a bottle of Red Stripe. I also added to the mix 1 t dried thyme, 1 t dried rosemary, and 1/2 t oregano, which can't hurt anything. The soup is Val's improv, based upon a bag of split peas and seasoning that I got for Christmas.

I also found out that you can make your own "self-rising" flour by adding approximately 1 to 1.5 t of baking powder and 1 t salt to every cup of all-purpose flour.

Bon Appétit!


Icecycle, originally uploaded by doctorhectic.

Snow Day!

Snow Day!, originally uploaded by doctorhectic.

Our first snow as residents! Yesterday was 50° and rain and wind, which turned overnight into 25° and snow and wind. Blustery, and not the fun snow for sledding, but the sun will return later this week and probably melt away most of what happens today.

After a crazy good breakfast at O'Rourke's Diner, we went to our local Ikea yesterday with Rebecca. It was a bit of a zoo there being the last weekend of their 50% off sale, but we managed to tough it out and everyone found some "useful" items for around the house.

Our adventure the day before was finding the new Trader Joe's in West Hartford. All my basic needs are available within about 1 square mile of our apartment, but if we do get in the car, just about everything you could think of is within a half hour drive. Everything is so close and compact here, and I love the small town living with a dash of big city grit and culture.

Today, I begrudgingly admit, I must begin my search for a new job. I am able to take my time and look, thankfully. There are literally hundreds of possibilities, and I hope to get involved with something good, something creative, and something that I can build off of to help my portfolio more than my resume. Although I have been considering the position with Auto Trader, driving around CT, taking pictures of used cars for sale, but I'd probably end up with as many cars as I have cameras, and we can't have that.

The fridge is stocked, the cable (and cable modem!) are hooked up, and the boxes are quickly being flattened and piling up on the porch. Our kitchen looks like a kitchen, and has even been used as such. The place is quirky, but we like it, and I think we'll be happy here as long as we decide to be here.

Make your reservations now!


Where I'm at.

01-13-06_1055.jpg, originally uploaded by doctorhectic.


Guess who's back?

It's me! After an agonizing FOUR days with no home internet access, we now have a cable modem and all the cable we can stand along with it. I think I watched 4 hours of Law & Order (2 hours simultaneously) today. I spent at least that long getting the modem, router and Mac configured, but now it all works. It's good to be back.

Middletown is an ineresting place so far. Our new place is right in the thick of it, which I think is good.

More info soon...

The martini shaker is unpacked!


The coffeemaker is unpacked!

The coffeemaker is unpacked!, originally uploaded by doctorhectic.


Our living room!

Our living room!, originally uploaded by doctorhectic.

Last thing off the truck.

Last thing off the truck., originally uploaded by doctorhectic.



01-08-06_1131.jpg, originally uploaded by doctorhectic.



01-07-06_1552.jpg, originally uploaded by doctorhectic.



Boxesboxesboxes..., originally uploaded by doctorhectic.

This is the scene at Hectic Cupcake Central. Boxes, boxes everywhere and still more junk to pack. We're in pretty good shape, though, and as long as our U-Haul truck comes through this time, I think we'll do ok.