I amaze myself. I have finally managed to get a whole bunch of buttons and gizmos on this blog, with things like search boxes, RSS feeds, tweet buttons and auto-replies. Now I don’t know about you, but I rank this achievement right up there with learning to drive a car, which I didn’t dare do until I was thirty and had no other choice. And while you might be one of those people who know how to send a text message and record a t.v. show, I am one of those hard-core throw-backs to the nineteenth century, back before light bulbs when the only things that lit up were dreamy poets lounging around the local opium den.
But being as I’m stuck in the twenty-first century with no turning back, I figured it was time to outsource the blog and bring it up to speed, and while I was at it, bring a little low-tech to my chocolate making and take an airbrush to the little devils. Which turned out to be goofier and ghastlier than the time I tried to cook a fish I’d caught, not realizing it was still alive. There are some things people like me just shouldn’t do.
But before we get to this weekend’s chocolate making, let’s take a look at the blog. Notice that sleek little sidebar to the right and those little buzz and tweet buttons down below? High tech, huh? That’s all thanks to Stephanie. (But don’t blame her for the template, we’re working on it, I’m just picky and hard to please.)
I found Stephanie on Craigslist, after going through half a dozen losers with ads promising to fluff up my blog and make it bigger than HuffPo if I would just send them my passwords and bank account numbers and mother’s maiden name. I answered with something simple and straight to the point: Hi, I saw your ad on C’list and have recently started a blog but don’t know the first thing about SEO’s or RSS’s and need someone to help perk it up.” A no brainer, right?
I even sent a link to the Chocolate Covered blog, and asked them to contact me to discuss their services and fees. But most times I never heard back. One woman wrote to tell me she had a cold, which just confused me, and another said he’d get back to me in twenty-four hours. A week later he started bombarding me with spam, but never did contact me. I guess he meant twenty-four hours in geologic time, because I’m still waiting. But once I found Stephanie, the MLM Sweetheart (whatever that is but it sounds terribly perverted), she took about two days in people time to whiz bang it into shape, just like the wife I always wanted. And she never once lost her cool when I started talking like a brain damaged nitwit with comments like, “What’s a category?” “Can I have some of those boxy things?” “Do I want pings and widgets or could they hurt me?” But mostly, “This is hard. Will you do it for me?”
Once Stephanie was done and I saw all these high-tech gadgets on the blog (or “plugins” to us geeks in the know), I thought to myself, Why not try something equally daring with chocolates? No, not outsource their production via Craigslist, though that’s a thought, but why not try something I’d never done before, something technical and hence, challenging. So I decided to buy an airbrush.
“I’m going to teach myself to use an airbrush!” I proudly announced to Mira, who looked at me for a good long moment and then said, blank faced, “Just stick it in your hair and pull.” Then she turned back to her computer where life is safe and predictable (while pondering whether or not a good mother should know how to use a hairbrush).
So I jumped in the car, zipped over to the nearest mega-craft store and bought a Badger 250-2 airbrush – the cheapest one out there and just like Norman Love uses to make his chocolates look like costume jewelry. It cost thirty dollars, not counting the air.
When I got home, I showed it to Mira, along with my ten dollar can of air. “Why did you spend money on a can of air?” she asked as if she’d grown up in the Great Depression and understood the value of money. “It’s everywhere and free.”
I gave her one of those mom looks, the kind we give to innocent young children who wonder why they can’t have a pet giraffe, while I scrambled around in my brain for a sensible answer because I didn’t know one and realized she might have a point.
“Because it has to have propellant,” I finally said, using a techno-sounding word. I once dated a rocket scientist, you see, just once, which was long enough to pick up the lingo.
“Oh,” she said, walking away, like the little kid does after being told because giraffes eat little children.
I opened up the package, and started putting it together. I screwed something into the top of the can of air, just like it said, when all of a sudden the air started blasting out of the can like a rocket ship taking off. It was clearly chock full of propellant.
I had to act fast, since it was ten dollar air. I quickly tried turning the little knob on top this way and that, but it just made the air blast in my face even harder, so I stuck my finger on it and I nearly blasted out the window and straight to the moon. Grabbing the hose that connected the airbrush to the air can, I got it on with a fast twist which only managed to send the air through the spaghetti-thin hose which started whipping around my head fast and furious like it was beating me for being so stupid.
Somehow amidst this madcap slapstick moment, I started screaming and Mira came rushing in, expecting a serial killer to be slashing me to pieces. “Help!! Help me!!!” I screamed, but once she saw what was happening she just stood there and laughed hysterically while I was beaten to submission by an abusive can of air.
“Let me do it! It’s my turn!” she begged, wanting so badly to join in the fun.
“No!” I thundered, as I managed to master counter-clockwise and get the damned thing shut off, “this is not a toy, it’s very expensive air.”
“You don’t know how ridiculous that sounds,” she said, annoyed at me for being such a buzz kill. Then she left the room, so I could play with my air all by myself.
Once it was all assembled, I started polishing my molds. After careful deliberation, I decided that I would airbrush some green-tinted cocoa butter into a square mold for some dark chocolates flavored with a touch of lime oil. And while I was at it, I’d airbrush some orange into a crown mold for my new trademark saffron crowns. I cruised around the internet to pick up some techniques, found hardly anything of value except for a remarkable ”Lady Chocolatier” who made it look as easy as using a can of spray paint, and hollered for Mira.
“Get the camera!” I hollered, “the show’s about to begin!”
She came into the kitchen, where I stood in front of the sink, which I’d covered in cardboard and newsprint.
The counter was cluttered with little bottles of dye and cocoa butter and sparkling dust, and I was grinning like I’d just discovered the make-up counter at Neiman Marcus and we were the only ones in the store. “Okay, let’s start with something green!”
“Mom, do you have any idea what you’re doing?” she asked. It was clearly a rhetorical question, because she already knew the answer.
“Yes, of course I do,” I scolded in a parental tone. But as anyone who has ever studied interrogation techniques knows, which is to say any parent or spouse who knows better than to trust the people we love, whenever someone uses the phrase “of course,” it’s best to be on guard. . .
(Stay tuned for Part II, wherein I attempt to melt cocoa butter, mix colors, master the art of airbrushing chocolates and put Norman Love out of business . . .)