Friday, April 23, 2004

DIY Sidewalk 

The lack of sidewalks in my neighborhood bothers me. The road I live on is the primary pedestrian pathway to the bus stop, the mall, the grocery store, and several other shops and businesses. Every day people walk along the shoulder of the road to get where they're going. This wouldn't be a problem except that the people on my street have the delusion that thier property goes all the way to the asphalt. I personally haven't been yelled at, but a couple of guys who walk down Harrison Road more regularly than I do told my husband that people are constantly telling them to get off the easement.

I think that clearly marked sidewalks could help solve this problem. Of course, getting city council to fund sidewalks in an already tight budget year is a pipe dream. Besides, half the people in the neighborhood would be pro-sidewalk, but the other half would burn down city hall before letting the gub'mint interfere with their property. I don't know which side would win.

So here's my crazy idea for putting in a sidewalk on Harrison Road, or any other similar street: Everyone who walks down the road keeps a bag of gravel by the door. When you leave the house, pick up a handful of gravel and drop it somewhere along your route where a sidewalk ought to be. Nobody would notice a few extra pebbles next to the road, and the gravel would build up so gradually that an honest-to-gosh pathway would appear right under the noses of the anti-sidewalk folks. It's not something you could jog or roller-skate on, but it might be better than nothing.


Wednesday, April 21, 2004

"Give me a head with hair, long beautiful hair" 

A number of years ago, I discovered that if I put on all my jewelry when I went shopping at a high-end store, the salespeople were more attentive. So I made it a habit to dress up if I needed to shop at a pricey department store or chic boutique. I'd do up my face, slip on my giant pearl ring and gold-plated watch, and enjoy being treated as a customer who belonged in that store.

But in the last year and a half or so, I've noticed a change. I can walk into a shop clutching my Coach purse, draped in designer duds, and the salespeople barely acknowledge my presence. Another woman walks in, similarly attired, and the saleslady rushes over, all smiles. What's the difference? The length of my hair.

I thought that disdain for "long-hairs" went out with disco, but apparently some vestige of prejudice remains. Ever since I let my hair grow past my shoulders, I've become invisible. I decided to grow my hair long because I thought it would look better. I still think it does; My head is kind of large and square and the long hair softens it a bit. Plus, it's just easier to take care of. I can just wave a blow dryer at it or let it air dry or put it up instead of spending half an hour with a diffuser and a round brush trying to coax it into a vaguely neat shape. Besides, TV and fashion magazines suggest that long hair is all the rage. I'm fashion-forward! The very picture of style! Right?

Apparently not. In my unscientific shopping study, I have determined what attributes the salespeople seem to be looking for. If you have short hair, give yourself one point. If your hair is blonde, give yourself another point. Then, add an additional point for each decade of age over 30. So, for example, a fifty-year-old woman with short, blonde hair (4 points) would trump a twenty-five-year-old with short, brown hair (1 point) - all other things being equal, of course.

I've thought about buying a short blonde wig and going shopping to test my theory but haven't built up the courage to try it just yet. The wig would have to be really good, and not obviously a wig because I suspect that something as outside the norm as wearing a wig is probably even worse than having long hair in the salespeople's eyes. So for now I've resigned myself to the fact that my lovely long locks will keep me from getting good service. It's a small price to pay for feeling beautiful.


Friday, April 16, 2004


Last night I made a couple dozen cupcakes for the ECW bake sale. It occurred to me this morning that I could have saved a lot of time if I'd called Meg and asked to borrow an extra muffin tin instead of using the only medium-sized muffin tin I own to bake cupcakes six at a time. At 20 minutes a batch, I spent a good two hours baking cupcakes.

However, I think I'm getting the hang of my mom's frosting recipe. This recipe is much simpler than buttercream frosting recipes that require heating and melting and cooling. The key is to add enough water, I think, and to make sure everything is blended together so there are no hard lumps. For my cupcake frosting I used peppermint extract instead of vanilla. Chocolate cupcakes with peppermint frosting are one of my favorite treats!

Easy frosting: 1/2 c. vegetable shortening (i.e. Crisco), 7 c. powdered sugar, 2 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, 1/2 c. water
  • Whip the shortening in a mixer until it looks beaten.
  • Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time, making sure each cup is completely mixed in before you add the next one.
    You may want to make tic marks on a piece of paper somewhere to keep track of which number cup you're on.
  • Add the vanilla and a little of the water. Mix until well blended. It should start looking like frosting now.
  • Keep adding the water, a little at a time, until the frosting is fluffy and spreadable. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl and re-mix to make sure it has an even consistency.