Archives for January 2011

Charlie Kaman

Charlie Kaman kneeling next to two German shepherds

Early this morning Fidelco co-founder, Charles Kaman, passed away.

As Charlie’s health was failing for several years prior to my involvement with Fidelco, I never had the privilege of meeting him. I do know that he was a great inventor and entrepreneur and given his, and his late wife’s, impact on my life through their work, I will forever be indebted to his selflessness. I’m truly bereft of words at this news. All I can say is that I am entirely certain he will be greatly missed.

EDIT: Statement from Kaman Cooporation and Charlie’s obituary.


This last week has been pretty low-key for me and the sable shepherd. But Uschi’s had a chance to meet a few more of my good friends: Tuesday Sharon came over for a lunch of sushi, Friday we hung out with Alice and Josh, and yesterday Alice invited me along for a quick trip to the library and the mall with Kathleen. I’m actually very happy with how Uschi has been when people have come over and/or meeting new people. She remains almost entirely quiet, aside from a single woof of varying strength at each visitor this past week. I’m hoping to fully eliminate that, but it’s been somewhat inconsistent that it’s been hard to catch. What really impresses me, though, is how calmly she’s greeted everyone. I’ve been warming each person that they can’t be wild with her because she gets excited so easily and everyone has respected that so there haven’t been any issues with her going bonkers and zooming around the house.

Uschi looking happy, sitting in the movie theaterSo, Friday, we had dinner at Pinhead Susan’s, which was thankfully worth the ridiculously long wait for everything: the food was glorious and it was incredibly inexpensive. I expected the first, but we all were somehow under the impression that prices there were far greater than they are. A pleasant surprise and definitely a reason to come back more often. From there we walked over to the movie theater to see The King’s Speech. The movie was truly excellent, so much so that I find days later I still can’t form words to describe it adequately.

There was the inevitable jerk trying to pet my guide dog that marred the pristine evening. We were all sitting in the front row of the stadium seating part of the theater, which is the row I tend to gravitate to since it’s generally fairly close without having sighted friends sitting on top of the screen and there’s more foot room for us and the dogs. As there are only rails at the front, anyone passing below had a prime view of Uschi and one such person came over and reached out to pet her. I yanked her back and said firmly to the man to please not pet her. He completely ignored me and continued to advance with his hand held out and I said again to not pet her. With his hand still raised to touch her, he asked why? I snapped at him that she was working and since his hand was still poised to pet her, I added: “And because I said so!” Immature, yes, but it got him to walk away. Throughout all of this Uschi was a rock and didn’t move an inch after I pulled her away from the edge of the landing, so I’m very pleased with her about that since she’s an absolute attention sponge.

Uschi sitting up front in the car looking quite professional in her harnessYesterday, was a total turnaround from that experience, though. Our first stop was to the library and there were a quite a lot of children around, which isn’t nearly the distraction for Uschi as it is for Yara. Still, I was very impressed that not one child petted her; there were a few that may have tried but their parents were all very good about explaining that she couldn’t be petted because she was working, etc. After that wonderful experience, we stopped at Benson’s to get Uschi her required Lupine collar. I suppose this makes her officially my partner now.1 While headed out we ran into a dog and got to work on pulling Uschi’s focus off her one major distraction. She was very aware of the dog, whom we had to pass by to get to the car, but after one big correction to get her moving it only required a few more verbal leave its to get her to pay attention to me. This is a very big improvement over literally falling on her to pull her focus back on me!

From there we went to the Christmas Tree Shop at Colonie Center to pick up a lamp. I rather loathe these stores because they are a nightmare of overcrowding. Uschi did really well. Though, she did clip my elbow on a shopping cart while following Kathleen. She made a similar mistake back at the library, too. Both times I think she was paying more attention to following — or trying to sniff stuff — rather than how close she was to knocking me elbow against something. I think part of this is because she takes obstacles very close, which is a huge change from Yara who gave everything a wide berth. But a mistake is a mistake, so both times we reworked it and she did fine. Poor Alice, however, was following me both times and I ended up walking straight into her when I made my abrupt stop and turnaround. Oops.

  1. Both of my previous guides have had their own individual martingale-style Lupine collars. They’re nearly impossible to destroy and in the unlikely case they are, Lupine will always replace them.

“Rubber Ducky” Cupcakes

Tray of vanilla cupcakes decorated as rubber ducks

Ever since I first attempted them last Easter, I’ve wanted to give the duck cupcakes another shot. I almost never have canned frosting around and so I didn’t even bother trying to melt frosting to dip the cupcakes into to achieve the “rubbery” look. In fact, I bought a package of yellow baking cups and have had them set aside just for this very project. Of course, I ended up not using them because I didn’t realize I’d be making the leftover cupcakes from the owls I made for Alice into said ducks. But my mother has been wanting to decorate cupcakes together for awhile and we were both free today and that’s the design she picked.

Follow the jump (or scroll down, if applicable) for a quick how-to.1

[Read more…]

  1. Decorating instructions from What’s New, Cupcake?

Alice’s Owls

Tray of cupcakes decorated as owl faces

So the answer to yesterday’s riddle of sorts about adding frosting, Oreos, Runts, and Junior Mints to some cupcakes is pictured above as promised. This little flock of owl cupcakes are for the lovely Alice and Josh who will be here shortly for some quality hanging out.

Thanks to the crazy and random happenstance that surrounds my (and to some extent their) life, especially around the holidays, they never got their reindeer cupcakes. Unfortunately, I’m rather certain I don’t have enough ingredients to bake brownie cupcakes. Not to mention, I’m truly beyond any interest in making any further reindeer at this point. (I made over six dozen in total.) But Alice has a very keen interest in owls and when I saw this design I knew I had to make her some. They were remarkably simple, aside from trying to get the Oreos apart where the cream filling was completely on one side. Personally the best part for me was finally having a chance to test out my mini food processor to chop up the leftover Oreo bits from making the top feathers. It works fabulously and I intend to utilize it extensively to make pandas and polar bears sometime in the future.

January 27, 2011

Assorted ingredients for cupcake decorating

What do you get when you add the above to two dozen cupcakes? Hint: It’s an animal.

Don’t worry, your curiosity will be sated tomorrow when I post photos of the finished cupcakes, but for now I’d rather not ruin the surprise for their intended recipients. I will say that some of the cupcakes may become a second attempt at rubber ducks because my mother has stated that she would very much like to decorate some cupcakes, too. And, obviously, I have canned frosting to melt to make them all smooth, err, rubbery-looking. Generally, I make my own, but for obvious reasons buttercream doesn’t hold up too well when heated.