The daily to-do: Thursday July 7

Bear got a call at 4am this morning, and he was working on it for around an hour. This was after we went to bed after 1am because he stayed at the office late and didn’t get home until around 10pm. He was super tired this morning, and is working from home today. 🙂 We had discussed the idea that if he got a call last night, he might work from home today, so when the alarm sounded and woke me out of a dead sleep, he explained, “You got your wish.”

Things are heating up, as far as my volunteer work goes. I got in on some good phone calls over the past few days, and things are starting to come together in my mind. Yesterday I was able to lay out (what I think is) a concept for the website content; now I just need to put it in a form that will make sense to others (get it out of my notebook and onto the computer), and I need to convince the others to see things my way…and I need to do it quickly, because while I’m the one dedicating the most time to this project, I am by no means the only one working on it. In my opinion, so far they are sweeping up and hanging pictures on the burned out shell of a building, while I’m constructing a new, better, structure from the ground up. I can tell they don’t see it that way, though. Even the one person who has indicated, through her replies to my comments and through direct communication, that she is “110% in agreement” with my concerns, I see her over there hanging curtains on paneless windows. The only thing, I think, that’s going to really get them to see the wreckage as wreckage is for me to give them something to compare it to. And they know I’m “starting from scratch” with my content, and I have their blessing, but I can tell they still have no idea what that really means in this case. Now I just need to get it in front of them before it’s too late.

In non-work-related news, I’m currently eating a homemade bagel. It’s been quite awhile since I gave bagel-making a shot, and my low expectations have been reconfirmed. The thing is, I never give myself the opportunity to gain a knack for it. While I have tested many recipes, and while the one I used this time (and the last several times) remains the best recipe I have ever found, there is always a need for tweaking. But the process itself is so time-consuming, and the resulting bagels just not-quite-worth-it, that I let much time go by between attempts, and I never actually improve on an attempt. Not so this time. I only made half a batch, and I’m going to record my thoughts for improvements here. I already have another sponge in the making, and it will be time to make the dough in 45 minutes or so. Bagel thoughts (and ultimately my to-do list) below the cut: 

So my experience with this recipe has always been the same:

  • the taste is good, basically. Once they tasted a bit too pretzel-y, not sure if this was the result of too much barley malt syrup, or too much salt, or something else, but this time the pretzel essence was not as strong. Maybe I added too much salt, though.
  • the interior texture is perfect, but the exterior texture is weird, always. I want a smooth outer crust, but instead it’s always bumpy and doesn’t bake evenly. To fix this, I’m just going to try to handle them less. In fact, as far as the “shaping” goes, I’m barely going to even do that. The recipe talks about making a 2.5″ hole  in the bagel, but I don’t care – I don’t mind having no butthole. Rather, I’m going to poke a small hole, but try to avoid picking the bagel up. Also, I’m going to skip the “float test.” I’ve never had a bagel fail the “float test,” so I’m just going to act as if they all passed. Less handling. (Besides, this is trial and error…I need to be willing to test extreme theories).
  • the absolutely worst thing of all: they are super flat. When I let them rise in bagel shape, they always get nice and poofy, but then they always deflate. And when they deflate, they just flatten. One thing I’m going to try is just to make them smaller. Maybe they can’t sustain their own hugeness. Another thing I’m going to try (after some googling to confirm – done. Yes, I was right about this. And this guy is awesome!) is just not letting them rise as much. I think I’ve been quite careless about rising times, often letting them rise well beyond the recommended 20 minutes here and 20 minutes there. I’m going to stay on top of the rising times, and (after googling) I think I might skip some of the rising stages entirely. Hey, this is all experimental, and I need to err in order to learn, right?
  • finally, ingredients: the recipe recommends this super-uber glutinous bread flour, and I obvs don’t have that. I guess if I really wanted to do this right, I would seek some of that out. And yeast: I think my yeast sucks. Maybe my flat bagels have to do with the yeast. Anyway, it’s just that RapidRise kind, or whatever it’s called, that you get at the grocery store. Maybe there’s a more specialized kind of yeast I should get. And I know my yeast is old, which is probably the greatest baking sin of all. But I’m going to fiddle with the non-ingredient-related tweaks before I go out and buy new stuff. We’ll see how it goes.

In other other news, this time really sad news, my local friend (who I have actually known since Jr. High, oddly, and who is married to a guy I have known since high school)’s husband is currently undergoing liver failure. All I know about it is that my mom texted me last night to say that her good friend, who is my friend’s mother, was flying in this morning to help out, and that it’s liver failure, and that at one point his heart had stopped. I’m going to make myself available to help them in any way possible. And I’m just going to hope for the best. I have no idea what caused this, if it’s the result of a known condition, or anything…it’s just so scary. I can’t even imagine, and I don’t want to. But I really hope he comes out okay.

As far as my mental health goes, it’s hard to say what’s going on at the moment. I’ve been really busy since starting to volunteer for this NGO, which has both distracted me from my own ruminations, and has given me opportunities to be useful, to be part of a team, to put my mental powers towards a purpose, and has significantly (though of course not permanently) raised my self-esteem, because I have very quickly figured out what needs to be done, and quite easily come up with (what I think are) good ways to improve. I am good at this. And “this” is a real thing, a useful skill, and the more experience like this I get, the better I can sell it to a future employer. Being “out of things” (the past 3 years not working, and in some ways, the three years of teaching and grad school before that) had caused me to forget the finer details of what I can do as an editor, had disconnected me from the functional, useful, in-demand, practical applications of my skill set. I’m starting to see it again. I can do this, and I can create a portfolio of work to prove it.

Beyond the work stuff, I have also been busy in other ways. After reconnecting with Hazel, I have undertaken to help her with some practical matters concerning her situation. While I have yet to reach out to J on her behalf, I have started, just a little, to look out for housing for her. But after sending her one static list of potential rentals, I realized that I need to have a shared spreadsheet with her to really make it effective. Which means I need to create said spreadsheet, and figure out how to parse the information. And while that seems relatively easy, it will take more time than I feel I really have to spare right now. Outside of helping Hazel, I have been setting up and experimenting with a lot of random technologies, as a complement to my NGO work; this creates a lot of noisy side-work in the form of account creation, account management, and really thinking about professional image and what accounts to connect to my public image (and disconnecting/ extricating other accounts). Doing this, I’m getting strong urges to set up a bunch of social media and other media accounts. I’m finding the use of a task-manager really helpful (and just fun!), and I’m enjoying the connecting possibilities of Zoom and Slack. I’m excited to experiment more, but part of me wonders if this is just a bunch of energy and excitement, getting involved up to my neck, but that I will again burn out. Not sure. I will try to keep the greater purpose(s) in mind.

Somehow, the house-chores that I was ahead of have now gotten ahead of me…I really need to do them soon. It not today, tomorrow. And other daily-related things, which had been dominating my schedule, and now I’m having trouble finding the time for them. But I think it’s just the same issue: there is time for it all, but I need to be better at not getting too caught up. Meanwhile, I have been having a lot of swirling thoughts for official blog posts, but not at convenient times, and I have already forgotten most of them.

  • walk Cosmo
  • feed Cadenza
  • run/ work out
  • exterminator at 3pm
  • get gas for lawn mower
  • mow lawn
  • blog (new blog): (musical covers; christianity and all religions as fandoms; how to communicate effectively from a place of respect; thoughts on Marvel Cinematic Universe; other pop culture/ music/ tv show reviews and discussions; “being a content writer means…”)
  • create spreadsheet for Hazel housing
  • look for Hazel housing
  • work (NGO)
  • dust
  • sweep/ vacuum
  • scrub floor
  • clean kitchen (counters and sink)
  • make more bagels
  • make weekly to-do (on Thursday…?)
  • shopping (not necessarily today, but SOON): FEED STORE; grocery (barbecue sauce emergency); Costco (barbecue sauce, other food); Trader Joe’s (coffee, coffee candies)
  • make professional social media accounts



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