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Posts tagged ‘Ice’

Jury Duty Duty

Juror 4067

Juror 4067

I prayed for more snow and school closures. Dismayed there were only 2 inches of snow at 11 p.m., I reluctantly set my alarm for 6-ish a.m., knowing I’d snooze it after tuning in to WBAL radio to learn if the City Courts would be closed. My first Jury Duty in Maryland loomed ahead in the morning—a morning after Baltimore suffered an attack of snow.

Handicapped Ramp looking north, uphill, to St. Paul Street

Handicapped Ramp looking north, uphill, to St. Paul Street

Baltimore does not react well to snow. Whether it’s due to being full of Southerners who become panicky at the first flake of the white stuff, or the fact that people are used to driving recklessly (i.e. ”normally”) and get frustrated because icy conditions force them to think twice about passing a right-turning vehicle on the right for a change, driving here after a storm can be fraught with danger and obstacles. Although I thought I’d built in enough travel time to arrive at the Courthouse—after finding the parking garage—by the 8 a.m. call time, I did not factor in how impossibly choked the beautifully plowed I-83 would be at that hour.

Woe, how naïve l am. I’m glad I had a thermos of strong coffee in the car.

“Accessible Entrance on Fayette Street” sign

Jury Duty was still ahead of me and I was worn out from the trip! Less than 10 miles from town, it took me the better part of an hour to get to the parking garage. Waze failed finding an alternate route; actually my phone is on its last leg (phone fail imminent!) and kept shutting down mid-calculation. Fortunately I’d looked at the original directions before leaving home so I wasn’t entirely lost. That is, I wasn’t lost until I started heading toward the Courthouse. I pulled up a map, and intrepidly started the trek … only to find myself four blocks northwest of my destination and panicky because it was 8:35. LATE! will I be fined? Jailed? Told to come back another day?

And then the phone battery died. Again. Time for a new phone, for sure.

Drizzle dappled my non-compliant phone screen. Happily a woman told me which way to walk as her son had been on jury duty last week.

Limping due to a sciatica flare up, I found the building and the Fayette Street entrance with a ramp (which the Jury Summons instructed to use; the building’s address is on Calvert Street). The clerk told me to go out, walk up the block and around the corner, to the St. Paul Street entrance.

St. Paul Street Courthouse Entrance

St. Paul Street Courthouse Entrance

A statue of Cecilius Calvert, Baron Baltimore, etc. (see link for entire title), graces the St. Paul Street entranceway. So does a familiar blue Handicapped Entrance sign—at the bottom of a dozen-or-so steps—directing one to the first entrance I’d tried! I pulled myself up the first flight using the cold, wet handrail. My coat’s belt set off the metal detector, but luckily the sandwiches in my bag passed. I muddled anyway to the jury assembly room at 8:50. I had arrived!

The Jury Summons had assigned me Reporting Number 4067. Happily, by the time I entered, 4000 through 4100 had been invited to line up, check in, and get paid. $15 will cover the parking and the $1.50 diet Pepsi I bought from the machine in the Jury Assembly “Quiet Room.” With a bad case of “dead phone-itis,” I whipped out my extra-long phone card and charger I’d thoughtfully packed, found a plug, and settled down. Hmmm, no wi-fi. Sigh. Now that my “duty” had been done, I was ready for Jury Duty.

Or was I, I wondered?

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Ode to My Blender

My Osterizer circa 1990s

My blender will likely burn out this summer.

I remember the Osterizer® blender of my childhood, circa 1955, a stainless steel beehive-shaped affair with a single toggle switch. It was the “modern” way to prepare meals (see illustration below) when I was a kid. The Oster® Beehive Blender lived on our kitchen counter top and blended many Carnation Instant Breakfast™ servings (with added raw egg), poured many pancakes, and caused confusion while washing the sharp doohickey on the bottom. The iconic glass jar finally shattered and the base burnt out, I suppose. I haven’t seen it for years, that is, if Mom still has it, which is possible.

My Blender's Buttons

My Blender’s Buttons

Mine is a standard, plastic-jarred Oster® blender that I bought more than 15 years ago–maybe even longer–from some discount department store. It has 8 buttons, a “low-high” slider, and boasts 12 speeds plus “Pulse”: Easy Clean, Grate, Puree, Blend, Cream, Shred, Chop, Grind, Whip, Liquefy, Mix, and Ice Crush. Have I cheated and shredded on whip? You betcha. I’ve also grated on ice crush. There’s a method to my madness, however.

It’s been a faithful companion all these years.

Companion? Yes, I traveled with it. I remember carting it about with me one summer when on a medically-recommended liquid diet. Specifically, I remember in an Ohio turnpike rest stop asking for ice at the conveniently located Starbucks, then going into the family restroom stall, plugging it into the outlet there, and blending myself a delicious, nutritious liquid meal which I sipped from the container with a long straw. Who knows what people thought when they saw me emerge from the bathroom with a blender full of … stuff…!

I’m addicted to sucking up icy sludge. Sludgees. I don’t know what else to call these blender treats. They’re not smoothies; smoothies are healthy full of kale or yogurt or berries. They’re not Slushees or Slurpees, which are trademarked products dispensed at convenience stores; nor are they any alcoholic mixed drink. They’re C-O-L-D; that’s all that matters. And they go down quickly. Sludgee.

The primary component is ground up ice. Without the ice, the beverage is not fun. Next is some milk product. I use powdered milk (and water) whenever possible for the convenience. (I also don’t like the sound of people crying in the kitchen in the morning over dry corn flakes when the last of the milk has been used up.) I’ve also used ricotta cheese, yogurt and ice cream, although it’s a waste of good ice cream. For volume or consistency, a piece of fruit is good. Frozen bananas work well (peel them and put them in plastic wrap when they start to turn brown on the table), but I also use an apple, skin and all, rarely berries, and most unusually, a half of a cooked yam. Once in a while I’ll add something “healthy,” like ground flax seed or psyllium powder. Cocoa powder and some artificial sweetener, a splash of vanilla extract, and a shake of cinnamon complete the sludge. Blended up, adding one ice cube after another until the motor strains in protest, it resembles… sludge. If you omit the cocoa, it’s just ugly, not sludgy.

My blender is on its last leg. The gasket allows liquid to seep out slowly. Sometimes when I blend I can hear a strain on the motor, a pulling. Sometimes I sniff a little of that electrical odor, the kind you smell before a motor burns out. (Aside: What is that odor, by the way?) I surmise this happens when an ice cube drops in the way of the blades, preventing them from spinning. That’s when I hit the “off” button, poke about with my long straw (never use the straw while it’s still spinning), and then hit the “pulse” button. Vrooom! It whooshes around.

Lately though, the liquid has been separating into two phases (note the scientific word I used): a liquidy phase on the bottom and a slushier phase at the top. What I desire is slushy all the way through.

Oster(R) Beehive Blender

Contemporary Oster(R) Beehive Blender – similar to that of my childhood

I should be wearing earplugs. That would be easier than sticking my fingers in my ears.  Also, I have never tried the blender with ice only although the rightmost button is labeled “ice crush.” That sounds so daring that maybe I’ll do it before the end of summer or the end of the blender, whichever comes first. Live dangerously!

Now you have endured my trivial notes on my on-the-way-out blender. My love of it, and sludgees, has evolved from a desire to stay cool. If I can’t provide 24/7 air conditioning for my body, at least I can freeze it from the inside out. So, having subjected you to this paen to my blender, here is my recipe for a Sludgee:

1 cup milk or (⅓ cup powdered milk plus water to equal 1 cup)
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
2 packets Equal sweetener
Some fruit: 1 banana, 1 apple (cored), OR ½ cooked yam
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon (or 1 shake) ground cinnamon
10-15 ice cubes

Start blending ingredients, then add ice cubes one at a time. Whiz until it is slushy. Stick in a long straw and suck. Experience brain freeze. Rinse and repeat.

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