Thursday, April 19, 2007

Reservation, please?

I got my first parking ticket yesterday. In a town where questioning authority and local goverment gets you labelled "selfish", I was at a loss as to how to deal with it. True, ten dollars isn't an astronomical amount, but... I'm getting ahead of myself.
Yesterday afternoon I went to visit a lady who lives in one of the older houses in town and take her some yarn. While we were out two weekends ago collecting signatures, she was one of the people who signed; under those circumstances, I couldn't really stand around talking about knitting, but she did reveal that she's a knitter and is interested in spinning.
I didn't intend to stay for two hours, but I did. See, the way parking works here is that the college campus is mostly metered parking. Parking on the street in the commercial district is also metered, and the price is high: A dollar for an hour, but since the meters are generally unreliable in adding up the money you put in, it sometimes ends up being more than a dollar for an hour. Parking on the streets other than in the commercial district is all Residential by Permit Only. You pay fifty dollars a month and are issued two tags for the household, and two guest tags.
When I stopped at Kathryn's, I put a dime in the meter, which was good for all of twelve minutes. When I was invited in for a cup of tea, she offered to let me use her guest parking tag. I put it in the car, but I didn't move my car to a residential space. And when I came out of the house two hours later, I had a parking ticket. Kathryn was mortified and said she'd vouch for me if I went to the station to explain things.
Well, off I went to pay my ten dollars. The dialogue went something like this:
"I take it the guest tags aren't good for metered parking."
"That's right, ma'am. The only people who don't have to pay the meters are the ones with a handicapped tag or meter permit."
"Is this something that's common knowledge?"
Girl behind counter raises her eyebrows and thinks about it for a minute. "Well, no one's questioned it."

Just because no one's questioned it doesn't mean everyone knows about it! I suggested they consider making an effort to inform people, in case someone else finds a cute little green envelope on his windshield and doesn't know why.
So I paid my ten dollars and fumed all the way home. I'd think it's obvious that you need a sticker or tag indicating that you're handicapped so you can use those reserved spaces. Oh, and get this: people who live on streets where there's only metered parking have to pay the meters if there's one in front of their residence. That's a lot of loose change from the sofa cushions, isn't it?

Monday, April 9, 2007

Bunses. Yup.

Every now and then I'm siezed by the impulse to bake horrible, gooey treats; after yesterday, I figure it's justified. My cold, blustery Sunday afternoon was spent collecting signatures in a (possibly) vain attempt to petition the local government to hold a referendum on annexation. It was a difficult task because people seemed to think the petition was a vote, but it wasn't. Out of the seventeen people I spoke to there were two "I need to think about it" and one outraged "I'm not signing anything". My response to them is this: By not signing, you're allowing the town government to remove you from the democratic process and make your decisions for you. This is how fascism starts, folks. Having said that, hopefully you understand why I felt justified in baking gooey treats, and why I'm misquoting the Beatles' song title, which has absolutely nothing to do with buns of any kind.
Before I headed back out to get a few more signatures this afternoon, I tracked down a good recipe for cinnamon buns. Mixed the dough in Davros's bowl, left it in the bread machine--which is surely the warmest place in the house-- and went on my not-so-merry way. When I got home, the dough was ready and I was more than ready for something more pleasant than popping up on people's doorsteps to ask them to sign the petition. Sure, you can get 'em in a tube at the grocery store -- and there's nothing wrong with that -- but there's just something about... Happiness is a warm cinnamon bun. Yup.

Cinnamon Buns:
4 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 package yeast
1 cup soy milk, scalded and skimmed (can you even DO that with soy milk?)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup butter -- about 10 tablespoons -- or vegetable shortening
2 eggs

1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup finely chopped nuts or raisins
1/3 cup melted butter

Icing (optional, but always yummy)
1 stick butter
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup cream cheese
1 tsp vanilla
1/8 tsp salt

For the dough, mix flour, sugar, eggs, and butter in a mixing bowl until the consistence is a bit like coarse crumbs. Heat the milk until it boils, then take it off the heat and let it cool to 115 degrees. Add the yeast and stir to dissolve. Let the yeast sit for ten minutes, then add to flour mixture. Mix until thoroughly incoporated and dough is smooth. Let rise for about an hour, then punch down and knead. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. You can divide the dough here if you don't have a big work surface (I don't) and work each piece separately. Roll it out into a rectangle about 1/4 inch thick, and spread the filling on it. Roll it up as you would a jelly-roll (on the long side), and cut into 2 inch slices.
For the filling: Plop the sugar, nuts, and spices into a mixing bowl and mix to incorporate. Add the melted butter and stir until it's a thick paste. Spread it evenly on the dough. If you divided the dough, don't worry, it makes more than enough to cover both pieces.
Put the slices in a greased baking sheet or spring-form pan and bake on the middle oven rack at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.