Sunday, 4 December 2011

Foxes and Rosemary Clooney

I started the week off with a nerve racking bang! Holland College is hosting a Talent Show and auditions were being held on main campus. When I woke up Monday morning I didn't view the audition as something to enjoy and to get pumped about it, I saw it as another thing to accomplish on my to do list. So I didn't get my usual nervous excitement until, quite literally, right before my audition. I was pacing in the front hall, going through vocal scales, breathing and praying, and practicing the song in my head when I was called in. I walked through the doors and was led to the stage. As I strapped on my guitar and stood in front of the mic I was suddenly hit with a wall of nerves. However, I see nerves as a good thing, they keep me sharp, humble, and aware. I sat down and played a minute and a half of one of my songs. When I was done the judges were smiling and they complimented me and said I did a lovely job. I thanked them, bowed, and left.

On the way home I paused and blinked for a second. I was done? I didn't sing three songs like I normally would? There was no monologue I had to perform? This is so odd. But I am glad for the experience. I know it was a flawless audition because I don't remember what I did. If I were to have a bad audition I would constantly be thinking about where I messed up, how I shaped my words differently, or where I accidently changed the arrangement because I got lost, etc. But I got home and thought, "Where have I been for the past 15 minutes?" That is a good sign.

Tuesday woke me up at the glorious return hour of 5:00am. Sigh. Oh 5:00am where have you been? How I missed you. I missed the slow wake up, the rhythm of getting ready for school in the 45 minute time line. I miss walking outside my door, lifting my eyes to the sky and seeing stars twinkling like shorting out Christmas light bulbs. I miss seeing the early bird workers and confused drug dealers at why a wholesome girl like me would be biking to school, singing no less, at 6:00am. Ahhh, yes it is good to see you again dear friend. I jumped out of bed on Tuesday, glad to reunite with delicious 5:00am. I got to school right on time and was in the kitchen in record time. It was so good to be there early. Chef Richard was just as giddy as we were to get in the kitchen at the crack of dawn. On my menu for the day I had crème caramel, hazelnut meringue cookies plus their filling, and short bread cookies.

By 7:00 am my crème caramel was in the oven and happily baking. I started on the shortbread cookies and had a triple batch baked and cooling by 8:30. Chef Richard, thinking we had nothing better to do, threw an exceptionally large order of chocolate mousse at us. There was a function of prospective students coming for lunch and a tour and we needed something quick, easy, and decadent to feed them. But we worked together and by 10:00am all the desserts were plated, the mousse was poured into individual glasses, and the shortbread cookies were ready to spread Christmas joy, however the batch was a cookie short do to ‘taste testing.’  

Wednesday was much of the same however I received some very good news today. I passed my audition and am scheduled to sing at the Holland College Talent Show!!! I am very excited and pleased that I made it. I am more looking forward to seeing the other varieties of talent than singing, but the opportunity to sing in front of a new crowd is a blessing.  

Thursday brought the challenge of making a bajillion sponge cakes for the base of an eggnog mousse for Friday. When I started out to make the cakes I multiplied the recipe by 2, knowing that we would cut the cakes in half to essentially have 4 cake bases. Chef over looked my work and then said, “Oh times the recipe by 6. Go for it!” Times the recipe by 6?!?! Ok Chef. I put away my regular sized mixer and loaded the industrial brute with eggs, sugar and vanilla. After whipping the eggs on high speed for 20 minutes to the point where they were almost jumping out of the mixer I used a whisk as long as my arm to fold in the flour. It was a decent work out and I had 6 beautiful, fluffy, delectable sponge cakes to show for it. I felt very proud and although the task of making 6 sponge cakes sounded unreal and unnecessary at the time we now have a decent stash that can be used at any time next week. We had to plate 300 desserts for the Lucy Maud dinning room lunch buffet as well so energy was placed more on detail, placing and balancing the components of our displayed desserts. While I was cutting up fruit cake to put in between the mini cheesecakes and Nanaimo bars Chef Richard informed me to make them small, bite size and more like an accent. His reasoning was, “Who the hell eats fruit cake anyway?” I for one had never tried fruit cake, Chef was shocked and we split a piece right then and there. “What do you think?” He asked. “Tastes like Fruit-to-Go. Not bad, but not good either.” Chef concurred describing it as tasting like leather fruit.

When Friday dawned I was ecstatic at its arrival. Friday. The start of the weekend. After today I nothing ahead of me but long strolls, endless hours of pleasure reading, and miles of crocheting bliss. The good life.  

On a usual bike ride to school I have limited company and despite the early hour I usually pedal through Charlottetown singing to keep myself awake and joyful. As a drove through the park singing Rosemary Clooney’s “You Make Me Feel So Young” I noticed something moving 60 meters ahead of me. As I neared I discovered it was a fox! How delightful! On my to do list while on the Island is to pet a fox, however this little guy did not look like he was in the affectionate mood. He crouched down, obviously trying to hide, however his particular hiding spot was directly under a street lamp. After he noticed that I had noticed him, his posture tensed and his bushy tailed wiggled in anticipation. Uh oh. Suddenly he was on his black sock feet chasing me! I was shocked for several reasons. Reason number one: I’m singing, why would you chase a goddess song bird like me? Reason number two: I’m singing Rosemary Clooney! Only crazy and deprived people don’t like Rosemary Clooney. Reason number three: Couldn’t the fox see I was its friend? Obviously the fox had other things on his mind. I pedaled faster all the while yelling, “Don’t chase me! I’m your friend! Why are you chasing me?!” Having chased me out of ‘his’ park the fox let me go and I pedaled to school at land breaking speed records.

Safe in the kitchen, still giggling from my odd encounter, I got to work on finishing the eggnog mousse cakes. I have never made eggnog before let a lone eggnog mouse, we had tried it earlier this week but it had failed so we were hoping that today would be our day of redemption. Chef suggested we multiply the recipe by a bajillion but I talked him down to 3. After all it was my first time and the recipe hadn’t work out for us before and we wanted to play it safe. The Chef guided us the entire way, encouraging us, giving us pointers, and allowing us to fall into our own rhythm with the recipe. After holding my breath all morning and praying fervently Chef came over to check my work. “Excellent! You did a very good.” I responded with a boisterous, “Praise Jesus!” Chef paused, looked at me sideways, and then burst out laughing. What I don’t think Chef realized is that I whole heartedly believed that it was Jesus that made the eggnog mousse cake turn out. I was simply the vessel that He used to make a fabulous Christmas dessert. He’s good with wine, I don’t see why He wouldn’t be a smash with eggnog.  

That evening I took a long delightful sunset stroll around Charlottetown. I walked along the board walk searching for my favourite bench but realized that it was gone! All the benches were gone! I concluded that they put the benches in storage to avoid winter damage. So I had to find a new favourite place to sit where I could over look the bay and let my dreams simmer. I gravitated toward the canons and found a pleasant grassy slope by the artillery house to recline and watch the sunset. I look forward to spending many afternoons with my new favourite haunt.

As a meandered home I walked passed the governors house admiring the rich amount of sparkling Christmas lights. I turned up toward the lane hopping to walk up to the house to take some photos when I spotted a dark and fidgety creature sitting on the steps of the gatehouse. Another fox! He looked at me mischievously no doubt thinking he could get a good laugh out of me and chase me across the street to Beaconsfield. I turned in the opposite direction and walked away, but I didn’t feel safe yet. I saw a pedestrian and her dog come walking down the road toward me and the fox. The dog sensed the fox and gave a loud warning bark, it startled the fox and he scampered off, no doubt disappointed that his fun for the evening was spoiled.

After dilly dallying my way home, stopping every few meters to take a picture of Christmas lights, I rounded the corner to my house and there, a block down the street was another fox! How is this possible?!?! For those of you that are counting that is three fox encounters in one day, three! I can only conclude that this morning’s fox had so much fun scaring me witless that he had to tell his friends I was good for a gag. Spread the joy right?

Saturday was superb. I dabbled in reading, crocheting, and even pulled out my sketch book to scribble down a few wedding cake ideas for my pastry portfolio review in March. During my weekly afternoon stroll I came across an astounding little boutique called Cordelia’s. It is small but surprisingly packed with all sorts of crafty one of a kind items , everything from Christmas decorations, jewelry, paintings, soap, candles, preserves, and odd nick nacks. It is an eclectic smash up of the funky and modern, elegant and vintage. But the best part is that all the items are Island handmade! PEI has an astonishing amount of local artistic talent that is encouraged and promoted by shops like Cordelia’s all over the Island. As I perused the shelves of fancy dooda’s I was especially impressed with a display of filigree jewelry. The attention to detail and imagination behind each piece was remarkable and I just had to lay my money down on snowflake shaped ring. For those of you that know me well you know that I rarely buy jewelry and I seldom wear it. I would much rather make it myself and save it for special occasions, so you can imagine how impressed I must have been to purchase such a treasure. I have worn continually since acquiring it.

As I come to a close and reflect on my week I feel like amidst the stress of Christmas baking at school, mischievous foxes, and numerous strolls it has been a week of hidden delight. The kitchen was a haven of divine cookery, I had the opportunity to serenade a fox, I found a new place where my dreams and imaginings could grow, and had the joy of supporting a fellow artist. So remember that when you feel like you are getting washed along with the busy current of life, whether the flow be fast or slow, there is always a splash of blessing waiting to refresh you. Keep your chin up J    

                                                    Yule logs

                               On of the trays for the dessert buffet for Lucy Maud Dinning Room.

                               Gazing at the sunset from my new favourite place in the park.

                                       Province House all decked out for Christmas

1 comment:

  1. You are such a delightful song bird, flying through the streets of Charlottetown. I bet you make all the other early birds' days!

    Way to go on singing at the Talent Show! I wish I could see you. I'm not really surprised though.