Friday, December 28, 2012

A Room to Wait; No Time to Waste

I am sitting in the waiting room at the chiropractor. Our annual "Turkey Party" is tomorrow. I can't believe Christmas has come and gone and New Year's is quickly approaching. There are so many things that I wanted to accomplish this year that never happened, ideas and projects that have just died on the floor in a puddle of blood, failure to thrive, oozing from their thought bubble umbilical cords. I guess they were premature.  I am in the worst mood that I have been in for awhile right now. I feel like I am getting my monthly hormonal drop but have just finished my period. I feel the stress of tomorrow and all the things left to do and all the things I will never be able to do. Things have just been nonstop with the holiday, and then still working on a partial remodel of our bedroom and hallway because of our discovered mold problem, and having two print jobs due for Christmas, not to mention the one I was unable to fill by Christmas. Oh, and I just learned my therapist is not covered by our insurance at all, so we will have to pay out of pocket if I want to start therapy. Intake interview bill to come.   :/ I'm just a little stressed and disappointed with my effort this year and feeling like overwhelmed shit as of late. I wish I had the time or energy to blog about what has been happening. I have at least 5 posts for events in 2012 that I need to finish up. Sigh. The good news is my sister is home from Korea so she will be able to come to Turkey Party but the sad part is she has decided to work in Korea another year, so she is going back in about 3 weeks! So every minute we have together counts. I'm hoping for a smooth party with many memories and moments. (I can hope can't I?!) Turkey is almost 21 pounds. Tomorrow we will roast and toast!! Happy Holidays, everyone!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Old Crow Medicine Show @ The Electric Factory x 2

The Milk Carton Kids
The Lumineers
@ The Electric Factory
Philadelphia, PA
August 4, 2012

It is a wonderful thing being able to see one of your favorite bands live.  It is even better being able to see that band more than once, especially in a fairly intimate venue.  I discovered Old Crow Medicine Show in early 2006.  I fell in love with them straight away!  I was in a musical funk, disgusted with the popular music on the radio at the time.  I detested most things that were offered to us via the main stream.  Ironically, I found OCMS’s old timey sound refreshing, even though it sounded like it had been around for decades.  I immediately made the crudest “mix CD’ I could for my best friends and passed the music along to them, because, let’s face it, it was awesome!  The music, the voices, the stories---it was all good.  We consumed their music like fuel and obtained all that we were able to from whatever sources we could find.  I was in the beginnings of dabbling with guitar play at the time and Wagon Wheel was one of the first songs I played.  Their music will always take me back to that time of my life. 

On the streets of Philadelphia, on route to The Electric Factory.
I was lucky enough to make the trip to see OCMS at The Electric Factory in Philadelphia in 2009 for The Big Surprise Tour.  It was amazing and one of the best performances I had been to at the time.  I got to see Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings in the Dave Rawlings Machine, which was very epic.  Old Crow and the gang put on a hell of a show!  After busting out into a very exciting rendition of Billie Jean in honor of Michael Jackson’s recent death, the night ended with everyone on stage together performing The Weight.  It was marvelous.  I was also lucky enough to see them again this year in August at the same venue.  It was interesting to compare the different line ups.  The first time I saw OCMS Willie Watson was with them, and his shrill, melodic voice was my favorite.  This second time I saw them they had Critter Fuqua, a founding member, with them again, but had also dropped Willie Watson.  It was a wonderful show, but I missed the sound of Willlie.  Overall, however, it was a great performance and it was interesting to compare the sounds and show of then and now while also being able to check out two great opening acts! 

On August 4th there were two opening acts at The Electric Factory, The Milk Carton Kids, followed by The Lumineers.  We weren’t sure what the opening acts would even be when we ordered our tickets, so seeing these bands was just icing on the OCMS cake!
The Milk Carton Kids, an indie folk duo hailing from Los Angeles, California, I found very pleasing.  They were dressed in suits, reminiscent almost of the early Beatles or Buddy Holly, but their sound was more reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel.  They came across as somewhat timid in their gentlemanly attire, although the lead guitarist was pretty bad ass!  These guys only formed in 2011, but have recorded two albums, Prologue and Retrospect.  I loved their sound. 

The Lumineers were excellent!  They have gained mainstream popularity lately after releasing their self-titled debut album in April of this year and it was a great surprise getting to see them perform.  They had great energy and were a crowd favorite.  Many of the people we talked to that night were there to see The Lumineers.  One fan in particular informed me that they had just recorded their first album, after playing together for ten years.  This person also informed me how members Jeremiah Fraites and Wesley Schultz bonded through music after the loss of Jeremiah’s brother, Joshua, in 2001.  I was also told how they played the NYC scene together with little luck, until moving it out to Denver, Colorado and meeting up with their cellist Neyla Pekarek.  Their fans were very into them and obviously knew their shit.  I think a good amount of the people were actually there to see The Lumineers.  Jeremiah was very interactive as the drummer and brought a bass drum up front to use by a microphone as he sang back up.  I had never witnessed upfront percussion that was so energetic before.  Wesley and Jeremiah were very enthusiastic and and Neyla was very impressive on the cello.  Their music is fun and on this night they even did a version of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues!  They were a great show.

Old Crow Medicine Show is a great live band.  If you have never seen them, I highly suggest trying to catch a show!  They have an energy that is hard to capture in words.  Having seen them both times it was interesting to see how things change and how much things stay the same.  At the time of this concert I hadn’t heard their newest album, Carry Me Back, which had just came out in July of this year, so I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into, other than knowing what I got into last time.  The first show was great, but I hoped to be a LITTLE less intoxicated on this night! 

OCMS, as I said, are without Willie Watson now.  I’m not sure as to the exact reason of the split, but they told him to go eat a sandwich and wished him their best...or something to that nature.  He actually left to pursue a solo career in LA, I believe.  Their sound is the same and yet sadly different without him.  I had been watching a lot of videos on YouTube of Ketch and Critter performing together.  They have a great chemistry and sound amazing together so I looked forward to seeing them perform together live.  They also had a new man with them they introduced as Chance McCoy.  “I see what they’re doing with his tight pants and his long hair,” my friend said.  Chance was an obvious Willie Watson replacement, but a promising one at that.  It was in no way the same, but by the end of the show we decided it wasn’t that bad. 

The plus side to having Chance with them now was his ability to play more instruments.  He played the fiddle along with Ketch, and added a different feel to things; he was high energy and very eager on stage.  He was a good addition but still lacked the voice and presence that Willie Watson brought to the plate.  Overall they still had really good energy and it was jolly fun.  They were definitely enjoying themselves.  Ketch and Critter were great together and it was awesome to hear more of the original sound with them together again.  A lot of favorites were played, some old, some new.  Wagon Wheel just isn’t the same without Willie.  They played some songs off of the new album.  My husband, who was not with us at the first show, drove us down and was here with us this time.  We enjoyed beverages and listened to live music for hours while meeting and talking to some really good people.  We had a very good time at this show.  They ended the night with everyone on stage doing The Band’s The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and then lastly Dylan’s I Shall Be Released!!  It was glorious! All of the bands were great, I recommend them, and I highly recommend The Electric Factory in Philadelphia.  It is a truly awesome venue!  

- Missie Sue


The Lumineers:

Old Crow Medicine Show:

Friday, December 7, 2012

Fear Itself: Frets Over the B String

Every time I am tuning or changing strings on my guitar, I have flashbacks of that movie, is it the House on Haunted Hill remake or The Haunting, I can't remember which right now and I'm on my phone. Anyway, the girl is freaking out saying the spirits are in this and that all the while touching all of these things, then she says it's in THIS, and touches the piano or a harp? (Man, now I'm realizing how unfounded this fear is if I can't even remember the details of the scene.) Regardless, a string snaps at that moment and comes back and slashes her across the face. Bloody face skin laid open by musical instrument. Now, without the assistance of spirits, this kind of thing rarely happens while tuning up a guitar, but, hey, let's face's possible. The anticipation is usually the most unnerving part though.
I was never fully afraid that the same fate would befall me, but I have always been a bit jumpy while working with my strings. Maybe I just understand you should respect things that are wound that tight and at such great tension? Luckily no mutilation has ever occurred while working with my guitar, though.
Last night my friend was on me to play some guitar so I picked up my Alvarez. It was fairly off, so I was tuning it up. Upon reaching the B string, I gave the tuning peg a slight turn and SNAP!! It violently came to its end, grazing my hand when it flew.
I was very surprised to see that it actually happened; not even a wound in the weakest of definitions but the string had in fact drew actual blood, a tiny tiny dot of glistening blood. Not enough for a meal or anything, but it was there. I'll be damned; it DOES happen.
It occurred to me how this is a metaphor for guitar play in itself or even life in general.  Like most fears, even if it DOES one day happen...the fear itself is much worse than the actual wound. The anticipation does much more damage than the event. Our fears are warranted, perhaps, but still ridiculous. Most things worried about never happen anyway, so you need to just brace yourself and tighten that string!! It could either draw blood or music out of you, but aren't they really one and the same?
"Do not die with your music still inside of you." - Wayne Dyer

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

H.H. The Dalai Lama: "So I Got THAT Goin' For Me!"

H.H. The Dalai Lama 
nTelos Wireless Pavilion
Charlottesville, Virginia

On October 11th of this year I was lucky enough to be able to witness His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama speak in Charlottesville, Virginia.  This was a significant trip for me, some 5 hours away, but it was incredibly worth it and was one of the greatest experiences of my life, one of the few that I consider “Bucket List Epic”.  It was a wonderful day and an amazing honor to be in the presence of a man who could be considered a true holy man of our time.  I was asked by a friend to accompany him on this journey, and I am very grateful that I was.  Our day of travel became a wonderful experience as well as a spiritual pilgrimage road trip, of sorts. 
Signage for the Dalai Lama on the Downtown Mall

In case you are unaware, the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, is the spiritual and political leader to the Tibetan people.  He is the head monk of the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.  He is a simple monk whom many believe to be the reincarnation of the Buddha himself.  The Dalai Lama, however, claims to be nothing more than another human like you or I.  This is, however, untrue, because he is quite a remarkable human being even if he isn’t the reincarnation of the founder of Buddhism.  He was chosen to be the Dalai Lama at the age of 4 and now at the age of 77, has been living in exile in India since the age of 15 after Tibet was seized by China in 1951.  I have always found the Dalai Lama to be an incredibly fascinating man.  I’ve obviously been intrigued by him because of my interest in Buddhism, but regardless of his religious views; he is filled with wisdom for living a compassionate life based on kindness and tolerance.  Seeing him speak was a remarkable event in my life. 

Crossing into nTelos Wireless Pavilion Land
After arriving in Charlottesville and finding a space on the top level of the parking garage we made our way to the Downtown Mall.  This area of Charlottesville is very amazing.  It’s a gorgeous street without vehicle traffic that is lined by shops, restaurants and museums.  There are huge trees going down the center of the street, which are apparently rather old, I would guess some of them to be 75 to 100 years in age.    There was only one gate into the pavilion so there was quite a long line leading up to the entrance.  The Dalai Lama is guarded by the Secret Service while in the States so we were given the ol’ wand swipe and pocket search on our way in.  We made a pilgrimage walk of sorts from the car through this beautiful downtown area to the nTelos Wireless Pavilion where we would see the man some deem to be a prophet, a holy man, and a great political and spiritual leader.  The Dalai Lama means something different to everyone, but regardless of religious background, to most who know of him, he brings forth the idea of compassion.  His newest book Beyond Religion:  Ethics for a Whole World was on sale and we both purchased a copy, as it was the focus of the Lama’s speech on this day.

Post speaking, under the Pavilion, we were seated to the right in the white chairs.
Our view, although obscured by the heads of those in front of us, was actually not that bad considering the seats were considered to have an "obstructed view".  Our seats were relatively close and it was exciting to think we were in such close proximity to His Holiness, even if he is just a man.  After getting seated we enjoyed the cultural performances that were presented to us before the DL’s arrival.  There was some interesting Native American dancing being done in different styles by women and then came a chief with some “wonderful plumage” who would later present the Dalai Lama with a handmade necklace.  At the end of the performance all of the dancers joined each other on stage to move in their own style in a dance that they dedicated to all Mothers and others, including all those Native American warriors that had fallen. 
The Wall on the Mall, filled with messages in chalk.

After this there was a performance by a Tibetan folk artist living in exile named Techung.  I really enjoyed this part of the event.  Techung used different Tibetan instruments; he started out with a song on a flute and then performed another on an instrument that is a Tibetan fiddle of sorts.  He positioned this on his leg as he used a bow to play it.  It was beautiful.  Techung announced that one song was arranged using the poetry of a woman on house arrest.  I wish that I could have understood her words as they were sung, although one phrase was repeated in English, “on the road again.”  I found it quite enjoyable. 

And now the moment we’ve all been waiting for.  The woman moderator announced H.H. the Dalai Lama!  This was quite thrilling; I had a smile fixed for quite a few rounds of standing ovations and my eyes welled up with a light film of tears in excitement as I saw him before me in his traditional monk garb and greatness.  The man who I had accompanied had been trying to see the Dalai Lama speak for years at this point in his life.  His face was adorned with a grand grin of happiness as he stood clapping beside me with his eyes fixed.  It was a life goal for him that he fulfilled on that day.  Bucket list epic.

After being announced and seated, the Dalai Lama was presented with a performance from a group of third generation American Tibetan children.  He was then presented a handmade necklace by the Native American dancer with the beautiful plumage.  The necklace had an Om symbol on it, and the Lama laughed and joked, pointing out how it was a Hindu symbol even, and not Buddhist.  He wore the gift around his neck the rest of the time proudly. 
"Practice Thinking!"

 It wasn’t surprising that the Dalai Lama’s speech was centered on compassion, as this is his newest book’s main message as well as his most fundamental message as a spiritual icon; when we think of the Dalai Lama we think of compassion.  One of the first things I remember him saying was him addressing us as “brothers and sisters” and saying how he believes it is important to view everyone as such, stating that we are all the same.  A notable message in his speech was that of motherly love.  He said that a strong bond and sense of love from the mother creates a strong and loving person, and if there was a rift or problem in that relationship there was fear in the heart of the individual.  He spoke of trust and how it is the most important factor in any relationship.  He said once that trust is broken it is very hard to attain again.
We left our marks on the wall.

His Holiness also spoke of morals and ethics and how these things should be upheld in humanity regardless of ones religious beliefs.  All religions, he said, are focused on the similar key concepts of compassion, love and tolerance.  He spoke of religious tolerance and his view of secularism as well as his belief that morals and ethics “beyond religion” should be taught in schools. This comment got a roaring applause of agreement from the audience.  The concepts he mentioned and his delivery were momentous and it was interesting how it takes the words of such a wise man to point out the obvious to society.  It seems that his teachings chime with something deep inside of every human, they speak to a common thread we all share.  That’s the point of being wise, I suppose.  You see what others can’t see, or simply don’t see.  Again, it’s all about perspective.  It is hard to believe that all people don’t believe these teachings or feel them in their being.  In our hearts, I believe that we do.  This is what the Dalai Lama reminds us of, this is what his iconography stands for.  He is an immense outward symbol of our brotherly and sisterly love.  He is the physical manifestation of our collective human heart.  He is a true holy man. 

- MS


The Dalai Lama in Charlottesville, Virginia, October 11, 2012

Caddyshack ("So I got THAT goin' for me!")

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Rocky Horror Picture Show Review

I can remember the exact moment that I saw the Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time.  I can vividly recall being overwhelmed with a new found laughter and excitement, loving what I was viewing in this never before seen [by me] classic.  I had at that point only heard of its following and of the huge cultural impact it had in the 1970’s.  It was unlike anything I had ever seen before and seemed to chime with something inside of me that I didn’t even fully understand at the time.  It was ridiculous!  It was fantastic!  It was ridiculously fantastic.  I was in the 9th grade; young, curious, fascinated, seeking.  I was compiling myself as a person, taking a piece from here and a piece from there as I went, as we all do.  In the years that would directly follow, The Rocky Horror Picture Show would become one of the movies most quoted and watched by my friends and me for a good chunk of my teenage life.  I guess your bucket list should include things you’ve wanted to do for a long time.  This past Saturday I was able to accomplish something I had wanted to do for over 17 years, so I think something should be scratched off that list!  On November 17 I finally attended a midnight showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with a shadow cast at The State Theater in State College and I could not control my excitement!

Columbia and Frank-N-Furter's shadows  in full attire
The Rocky Horror Picture Show came out in 1975.  The film was directed by Jim Sharman, it was a horror/comedy/musical based on the musical stage play "The Rocky Horror Show" written by Richard O’Brien, who also stars in the film as Riff Raff.  The movie was based on B movies and science fiction films from the 1940’s/1950's.  After being released, the movie found fame as one of the biggest “midnight movies” of all time.  In early 1976, audiences started to participate in the film, shouting out responses and tossing props about.  There is an entire script of shout outs and replies that go along with the film that has been developed over the years.  People bring props to use during the film, arrive in full RHPS attire, and shadow act the film on stage in front of the screen for the audience.  A huge cult following has continued on with the film even after 37 years.  It’s really something to experience.  If you are excited about the RHPS at all, you will squee with glee as lines are shouted out at the screen, cards and rice are thrown about and used during scenes and people dance in the aisles and the like.  It was thrilling and nostalgic!  

The film is about Brad and Janet, who become stranded after getting a flat tire on a back road.  They make their way in the rain to a house that they see and are answered at the door by the butler, Riff Raff (O’Brien).  They are ushered in, and stripped of their wet clothes.  They are a little surprised to see the head of the house, Frank-N-Furter (played marvelously by Tim Curry in the movie) who is just a sweet transvestite from the planet Transylvania in the galaxy Transsexual.  They spend an interesting night at the house, filled with unexpected sexual trysts and shenanigans.  Their characters are transformed into different people by the end of the movie.  I don’t want to review the movie or give it away if you haven’t seen it (SHAME if you haven't).  If you haven’t, I suggest you view it.  It’s well worth it.    It introduces Tim Curry, boasts a young Susan Sarandon and even stars Meatloaf himself.  It’s a CULT CLASSIC!
Magenta and Riff Raff on stage and screen

The soundtrack to the movie is also quite excellent.  Some of the songs are so heartfelt, you could compare them to many popular songs of the same time.  Others are ridiculous, others are mysterious, others are sexy and sensational!  Songs like “I’m Going Home” are reminiscent, sad, yet hopeful.  The Time Warp has become a cult dance phenomenon that has stood the test of time.  The movie spouts the line “Don’t dream it; be it!”  Quite the proper motto for a movie such as this.  I may have a biased view of this soundtrack, but it really is surprising how good it is as an album.  

The RHPS Shadow Cast at The State Theater
The shadow cast that performed at the State Theater deserves a shout out.  They all did such a great job acting out the movie as it played on the screen, it was like seeing it on stage, only better.    They were all done up in the proper attire for their parts and really got into the scenes and their roles.  Frank-N-Furter’s shadow was remarkable, and really rocked the outfit he was wearing and totally got into the Frank-N-Furter spirit.  Rocky’s character was actually shadowed by a woman, which seemed odd at first, given the masculine nature of the character in the movie, but I loved that they had done it that way by the end.  It seemed so fitting for RHPS; she was great!  Riff Raff, Magenta, Columbia and the others were equally entertaining.  The characters even came out into the audience for different scenes.  It was a good show; it was entertaining, exciting, and about damn time! I was singing along and absolutely could not keep from bouncing in my seat.  Thank you all for helping me scratch a must do off of the ol' bucket list!  I will surely be attending again, with more friends who MUST experience this with we can do the Time Warp again, again!

- MS

Wikipedia:  The Rocky Horror Picture Show
TRHPS Official Fan Site:
Many, many viewings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show

Thursday, November 22, 2012


In the spirit of the holiday, I would like for my positive side to make a fuss over my daughter now, because there is really nothing in my life that I am more thankful for.

It is funny to think of how fragile a human life is, in general and on the web of existence. They are each such tiny stands in the fabric of time, yet they can powerfully touch so many lives.  There is a delicate balance that holds them in 'being'. Had anything happened differently in the course of my life, there would be no Celie Ruth.

Anyone can say this, but do you truly grasp what that means? Anything. Obviously, had I not married and mated with my husband, she wouldn't be here, but the nuances of fate are even more delicate than that.  If I hadn't had an early miscarriage before conceiving her, she wouldn't be here. If I hadn't waited until I was 29 to conceive, she wouldn't be here. If I had EVER used the pill as a contraceptive, suspending my ovulation and the order of my eggs...she wouldn't be here!

Those are some odds. Are they really odds? It just seems to me that this is the way it was supposed to be, the Universe wanted its Celie Ruth. While I was pregnant with her, I would tell the Universe in my head, ' This is your child...' I was but a vessel for the amazing thing brewing inside of me. Something has far greater hopes and dreams for this critter than even I can imagine. She is a child of the Universe, my daughter, but my little sister in creation as well.

I know that she stresses me out a lot and can drive me crazy, but I would surely be lost without her. She is seriously cooler than about 78% of the people I know. A friend was warning me the other day about becoming too much of a friend to her as sometimes happens to single parents. This is something I'll surely have to struggle with, because unconsciously I am just hanging out everyday. We are alone together so much and I am alone with her so much, we're going to have to make sure the parent/child line is distinct. I'm not a single mother and could never imagine the hardships those women face daily, but as a SAHM all week on her own, I experience a tiny sliver of that life.  When you are lonely, you lean on a companion you can, and I have her.  We'll see how the balance unwinds as she gets older.

Mostly we hang out and listen to music, watch our favorite shows, read books, color, draw, talk, and play pretend. Sounds like best friends to me! What does that say about me, then, if my two year old is my best friend? It means she's one cool cat, that's what it means!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fetal Hoarder Syndrome: Know the Signs

You know how I know I am a fetal hoarder?  While dejunking my bathroom I found, of course, some junk, including a few odd items that I had stashed on the shelves above the washer and dryer.
This is normal, most people have junk. Is it normal to save your cleansing bottle from your hospital stay 2 years ago when you birthed your first child? It's a perfectly good bottle! Could be used to hold some fluid? To squirt onto a wild fire, perhaps, or some outbreak of the plague in your nether region? I certainly wouldn't be letting anyone borrow said bottle, so what were my intentions? I have no idea. No idea.
THANKFULLY I also found those two pieces to the glider chair that we burned earlier this year! Awesome. You never know what those miscellaneous pieces of wood could be used for. They're already varnished, even! Ch!
The Downy Ball is important, right? You need that fabric soft and if you don't have a reservoir in your washer you are shit not of luck. I needed this Downy Ball when I was in college. The washer in the house I lived in needed it....over ten years ago! I have never required the use of this item since then, but you just never know when I could be suddenly surprised at the door by someone needing to borrow one, or if I wake up one day and my washer is different. It pays to be prepared... sometimes.
Samples of shit are great for when you run out of shampoo or lotion! What makes them even better is time. These random ones I found hale from the college era, just like the Downy Ball. Because what I want when I am completely out of conditioner, which never seems to happen, is a shot of goo that has lost all of its color, scent, and possibly potency as well.
Outdated emulsion is always handy, too, and by that I mean when the hell would I ever use this? You never know when I would feel like doing some screens just for fun that wouldn't turn out or expose at all.
An empty bottle of men's shampoo? Why not. The tiny remnants in the bottom of the bottle are more than enough to offer to the random men that show up wanting to wash their hair that I just don't want to disappoint. Why? No, I mean why did this end up here?
No collection of junk is complete without an unopened, stashed pack of travel tissues that you have had intact for no less than 4 years. What better place for them to remain than right next to the remote control to a DVR box we have never used. (Remember, I found these things in the bathroom.)
All of this stuff is useful and has value, you haters probably don't even know what a perfectly good cardboard box is worth either, just like my husband. It's sad, really.
Yes, Missie, very sad indeed.
Chair pieces, empties, and questionables.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Cheese Man Cometh

So, let it be known first and foremost! My father really is a cheese lover from way back and he turned me on to the wonderful stuff at an early age like any caring father in his right mind with a soul would. We feast on mass quantities of the stuff for We cover it with pesto, lay it on crackers, or just enjoy a chunk by itself. Multiple kinds, flavors, milks, we love it all. We're Italian...cheese holds a big place in our hearts. IT IS ONE OF THE BEST CONSUMABLES INVENTED BY MAN!

Okay, so I love cheese but what I love me some more of is a Cheese Man! No, not a man made entirely of cheese, although that would be quite impressive and delicious.  My dream man...tall, dark, and sharp. Anyway, NOT a life sized Man of Muenster, but the artisan behind the taste, the texture, the smell (and did I mention the taste?) of cheese. Well, I have met such a man in my travels. I don't know his proper name, most simply call him "The Cheese Man".  If you get to the Avondale Hotel on the right day, you'll see him and if you have any lucky piece of bone or cartilage in your body at all you will get some cheese.  He periodically stops into the local pub with his local cheese, and a couple of weeks ago he was back!!  Cheese Man used to take an order sheet, but now it is FIRST COME FIRST SERVE!  Eek!  I know!  They were out of Swiss Rye by the time I got there, but thank goodness he still had Garlic...and Horseradish...and's GOOD stuff, trust me.  Cheese Man will talk to you about the fine art of cheese making if you ask him, he's very approachable despite his celebrity, he meets and greets his fans, always!

The Cheese Man makes his cheese in 1 1/4 lb. blocks.  He used to offer a smoked and non smoked version of each kind.  Now he only appeared to have the smoked cheese, unless I totally missed it?  You're better off, as I am told that the smoked cheese will last you a great deal longer than the regular even though most people find it hard to keep their cheese in the house for very long.  Rumor has it the cheese will draw you out of bed at night to eat it, the is stuff is that good!  True story!  The blocks are wrapped in cellophane and marked.  He has boxes of cheese; it's GLORIOUS!  Cheese so pungent that you can smell the delicious fire smoke through the Saran coat.  It's an exciting day at the Avondale when the cheese comes in.  Usually SOMEBODY cuts into theirs and shares.  This time we had a Cheese Party, with 4 blocks opened up for our sampling by awesome friends.  Someone even contributed crackers, as I was slacking and didn't have a box of Triscuits on me.  (I don't know what I was thinking.)

It is moments like these that I wish I had my Moleskine with me more often, but there I am, Twisted Tea in hand, chatting it up with the man of the hour!  I "interviewed" CM this time, asking him many questions about his craft, but I can't remember exact names of places.  WHAT is interesting and commendable, though, is the fact that Cheese Man strives to keep all of his ingredients coming from Pennsylvania.  He makes the cheese in "The Cheese House" that is a small little house that was used, I assume, to produce cheese on his family's farm back in the day.  He and his brother, I believe he said, acquired it from the family for cheese making.  He hand builds the smokers and chooses to make multiple smaller ones instead of larger ones, so as to have more control over the smoking process.  He purchases his milk from a local milk farm.  He acquires all of his ingredients and flavorings (the peppers, the horseradish, the rye, the garlic, etc.) from Pennsylvania.  He JUST stopped making CHIVE which was possibly my favorite, so this is sad.  Cheese Man said that this was because he couldn't get the particular chives for in it that he had before in prior batches, the suppliers seemed to have simply fallen off the map.  So, because of his cheese making integrity, he didn't even proceed with an inferior product this time around.  We'll see if he is able to find something in the future.

"CHEESE PARTY!" at the Avondale Hotel! From the bottom left going clockwise are blocks of Swiss Rye, Horseradish, Garlic, and Super Hot.
The Cheese Man also takes great pride in the smoked flavor of his cheese, he is very particular about the hickory chips that he uses to produce it.  These also hail from Pennsylvania.  There is something about this taste, smell, flavor, feeling...I swear I can FEEL the smoke, now!  I have had a fridge full of smoked blocks of cheese for over 2 weeks now; I am inundated with the aroma every time that I open the door.  Our milk is smoked.  It's like someone has a camp fire in my refrigerator.  GLORIOUS! 

"Air is cheese's worst enemy!"  -  The Cheese Man 

I bought 5 blocks of cheese off of the Cheese Man on this day.  2 I got for us, 2 for friends, and a block for my dad.  We've all but finished off our two, and I cut into a block of Garlic that was supposed to be for my buddy today.  I broke down.  I couldn't take it.  I only had a half inch of horseradish left and I panicked!  I made Celie and I gourmet grilled cheese with it tonight for dinner. I have that block of garlic and a full unopened block of HOT for my dad.  The smoked lasts quite awhile unopened; in the words of CM "Air is cheese's worst enemy."  I thought Dad would LOVE it, so I grabbed him a block.  After all, he's the one that started this.  He will love this cheese and he will also appreciate the tale of the man known in my local world as The Cheese Man.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My Desk Is Lava

There is the theory that all outer chaos mirrors inner chaos, or visa versa. It's an idea, a thought, a hard truth? I'm a believer. I'm constantly struggling to fit all of my stuff into my space. I have been working on cleaning out some dark recesses again this week. I am aware that I have some hoarder tendencies, and possibly too many possessions for our humble home.  I'm not a crazy materialist, we just all need stuff and I've been collecting it my entire life!  Also, I have a home business and about a million hobbies. Plus, I lost my office when we decided to breed, so the dining room is where the remnants settled.
My Desk is certainly a hot spot, to say the very least. It's sometimes a volcano spewing lava. I have the OCD to create an excellent system, I simply also have the ADD to not follow through with said system. I'll reinvent, follow, tire, fail and repeat! THAT'S MY ROUTINE! I feel like I finally manage to get on this bucking bull, only to lose my grasp again. Flung to the ground. That's a metaphor. My inability to schedule and organize myself stems from something far greater than laziness.
This is my Desk, which is basically a glorified shelf, or a waste basket filing system? It has better days than others. There is some order in this chaos, though, you better believe it...I'm just not sure where I put it right now.
So, is my inner chaos mirroring my surroundings? Or is my outer chaos a reflection of my confused inner realm? I'm not sure, but if they can meet in the middle, maybe I can ride that bull a little longer this time! Either ride the bull or live with the lava!


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Errands and Escapes

Yesterday, my husband stayed home to get the kiddo down for a nap while I ran to town with two of my friends to pick up a few things. It was amazing.
We took a semi back way getting there, I love this place because there are so many options for your traveling pleasure. We grabbed our stuff and got some things for the ride, then we took the long way home.  I mean the long way, because we ended up stopping at Black Moshannon State Park to use their rest room. We had taken a scenic detour, the sky was gorgeous and it was a surprisingly warm day for November.  After our pit stop for a pee and peek at the calm, iced tea water of the Black Moshannon, we then took Huckleberry, it's a wonderful road.
I guess my main point was how wonderful this simple pleasure was. The shear act of getting out of the house without the child, and focusing on the journey instead of the destination.
I enjoyed the company and the journey, soaking in the scenery as we slowly crept along the dirt roads, like a float in some wilderness parade where the trees were the bystanders, only in lieu of tossing candy we threw smiles of awe out at the majestic span of their limbs.  We waved to the years that screamed out of each and every thick trunk.  We appreciated what was passing us by instead of just driving through it, anxiously anticipating our next stop. That's a metaphor.
I always take the long way home, if I can help it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

7 Thoughts by The Good and Bad Voices

Why I Feel Bad For My Daughter
  1. She got the short end of the stick.
  2. She is only a toddler and is aware of my fluctuating moods.
  3. She sees things in her mama she shouldn’t see. 
  4. She is my blood relation.
  5. She has a high chance of turning out just like me. 
  6. She has a highly depressive, artsy, flake of a mother.
  7. I’m selfish.

Why I Feel Good For My Daughter

  1. She got a piece of the stick!!
  2. She is only a toddler and is empathetic enough to understand when I am down.
  3. She sees the good in me when I can only see the bad.
  4. She is my blood relation.
  5. She has a high chance of turning out just like me, only stronger. 
  6. She will understand how complicated people can be before I send her off into it.
  7. She is learning independence. 

This has been a random pointless list brought to you by Self-Loathing and Positive Thinking.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy in the Mountains

Yesterday we spent most of the day watching CNN following the path of hurricane Sandy. It's projected path took it right to our central Pennsylvania. This kind of scare was unprecedented in my life. It was only a category 1/2 but the possibility was frightening.

We left our chunk of pretty on the hill for shelter from the storm. I felt that we would be safer at my parents' home, in the valley. I feared the winds of Sandy would send our trees toppling over which could be potentially fatal in a trailer shell. I had never anticipated the winds of a hurricane on my home before. We did end up losing some trees, but no more than we have from a Nor'easter. We didn't even lose power, which was incredibly surprising because the lines of our cooperative run mostly in wooded areas. People not far from us lost power and were out several days even. All in all, we were prepared with our generators and lanterns and prepared meals, but we were incredibly lucky during this storm. Our mountains sheltered us from the worst of Sandy's winds.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Scottish Italian

I'm an interesting mix; hairy and red!
Have mercy on he who gets me to bed!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

I'm going mobile!

I have a lot on my mind. It has been a crazy month so far. I also was forced to get a new phone when mine stopped letting me in my inbox. I got a ZTE Merit. It seems to be more intelligent than I am. I'm writing this on my phone using the blogger app. Much to learn. Much to say. Here's to technology and being in sync. That's a metaphor.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ravenwood Manor: A Haunted Night of Fun

Ravenwood Manor
"The Bloody End"; 13th Year
Beccaria, Pennsylvania
October 7, 2012

I don’t know why I was under the misconception that I couldn’t be scared around here for Halloween.  Don’t believe everything that you think.  I also thought I was maybe a little old for a night out in fake blood and zombie face, but it turns out 32 is not too old to have a good time and almost piss yourself in public.  Last night I went to Ravenwood Manor, a haunted house attraction in Beccaria, Pennsylvania.  It was a wonderful seasonal experience; it was pleasantly and freakishly exciting to discover something so local and legit was offered to the public. 

Ravenwood is offering their 13th year of scares this October.  I have never even been to the place until now.  I actually wasn’t even aware of its existence these whole 13 years it has been happening.  Needless to say, this was fairly exciting for me.  It is located at the Hegerty Mansion, in Becarria at Hegerty Crossroads which is a little out in the middle of nowhere.  This only adds to the creepy atmosphere. 

The mansion is decked out in its own Halloween costume, under the glow of eerie colored lights, accessories and sounds.  There is a backing of eerie music loud enough to be heard from the parking lot.  We hit up the port-a-potties beforehand, which was probably for the best as I am sure it prevented some urine from escaping throughout the tour.  The grounds are complete with a Cadaver Café where you can get refreshments prior to or after your tour.  The ticket booth is outside and there is a roped section to accommodate a line when there is a crowd.  I was informed it was quite busy the night before we went, and people waited almost two hours for the approximate half hour tour.  Even the ticket taker was in costume.  Thankfully we didn’t have to wait and were able to go right in, and by that I mean purchase our tickets at the booth to be immediately chased across the yard onto the porch by a creepy clown wielding a chain saw.  There were four of us in the group I went with and we huddled into the form we would assume through most of the house, a ball of squeals. 

There are supposedly 27 rooms in Ravenwood Manor.  I am not sure how many we viewed; I have to admit in all honesty I wasn’t counting as we were going through the tour.  We were ushered into a foyer of sorts and then led into a study type room by a man in full costume.  Our guide had a top hat, sunken eyes and a bit of a gimp to him.  With a booming voice one could hear at a theatrical production he gave us back history about Ravenwood Manor.  A resounding voice beckoned to you through the darkness.  “This way!”  Actors were jumping out behind us from unseen hiding spots.  We were led to room after room, each one adorned with horrifying scenes and disturbing characters.  Every room I entered I assessed in the darkness, finding a spot to stand that I didn’t think was in front of a lurking actor waiting to jump out at me.  They were coming from all sides!  This shit was authentic! 

In one room we were approached by a scary clown, in another a creepy doll woman, surrounded by large doll figures.  A lot of the actors were so convincing that it took a little time in the poor light to discern if they were real or not.   By the time you figured it out, they were jumping at you with a startling scream or coming at you with knives or hatchets.  In one room a mad dentist drilled into a mechanical body.  In one room a clown swung sideways down the wall at us.  The actors approached us and were convincingly freaky with their interactions.  It was hard not to laugh in defense, which I hoped didn’t make them think I was mocking them.  They all did a very good job.

We moved from room to room, the doors closed behind us, all the while being guided from room to room by the tour guide.  In one room that sported body parts hanging from every inch of the ceiling, we were urged to “Step toward the bed...”  This is when I had a moment of physical defense and stress.  In a normal life situation this wouldn’t be very wise and would have drastically different results.  It was authentically scary and if all of the limbs weren’t obviously fake you could have sworn that you had been abducted into a house of torture.  After veering through narrow stairways and hallways being warned to “Use the handrail, 3 steps down!” in a villainy vibrato voice, we eventually came out into what seemed a large vagina.  I jest, but that was what it was like, being born.  I actually got hung up in it at one point.  It was a pitch black tunnel that was vibrating.  There were curtain type foam barriers you had to push your way past.  I lost my friend I was with at one point and couldn’t see where I was going so I slowed to a near crawl for part of the tunnel, fumbling through the dark, feeling for the floor, until I could see my surroundings again.  It successfully threw me off balance and was genuinely hard to navigate. 

After finally making it out of the pitch black vibrating vaginal canal, we were spit out into a smoke filled room with three clowns coming at us with cowbells, chainsaws and scurry faces.  At this point our group wasn’t exactly sure where to go so my friend just asked them; it was quite humorous.  With straight faces in full character, still coming at us with noises he nods to the end of the tent we were in.  Apparently we had exited the house via the vagina and entered a party tent filled with clowns and smoke.  All around it was a good little spook show! 

Front of Ravenwood Manor
For only being $12 and within 100 miles of my house, I must say it was a very good local attraction.  Until now the scariest Haunted House I had ever been to was one I had visited in Daytona Beach while on vacation; you had to sign a Death Certificate before entering.  Ravenwood Manor was more authentically scary and interesting to tour by far than the house in Daytona.  The house itself was magnificent; I would love to tour it without all of the haunted tour décor, let alone just see it in the daylight!  The ceilings looked to be about 12 feet high in most of the rooms and each doorway was fashioned with a gloriously tall ornate door.  There were tiny passages and interesting angles.  I was very pleased with this attraction!  Kudos to the actors, staff, and owners at Ravenwood Manor!  Thank you for offering such an entertaining local haunted attraction!

Boo to You!
Missie Sue

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Motherhood Mishaps: When the Applebee Stings

“Why are people so bad to each other?”  This is a quote by Christopher McCandless, or from the movie Into the Wild at the very least.  It says a lot of society; it’s true as hell.  People can be damn nasty to each other.  My version of this quote is “Why are moms so mean to each other?”

My girlfriend and I took our toddlers to Kindermusik today, which is hectic enough.  Afterwards, every Tuesday, we have been having lunch at Applebee’s, which can prove to be equally challenging with two toddlers.  I am usually very ready to get Celie into her car seat and pray that she falls asleep on the way home by the time we are done.  She seldom is allowed down in the restaurant by herself.  Frankly, she is mostly never allowed down by herself, even though she is very capable of walking.  Today’s story is a great reminder as to why that is the way it is and has to be. 

We had our meal, I had taken Celie to be changed in the bathroom, and my friend left for the car with her daughter saying she would see us out there when we were done.  We returned to our table and I stood her down between my legs to put her coat on.  (I do the traditional knee hold on her.)  In gathering up her cup and diaper bag and my own items of wear, she slipped from my hold and ran up the isle toward the bathroom.  I, in retrospect, delayed 5 seconds longer than I should have.  It is these 5 seconds as well as the 5 to 10 words from the cook that led to me feeling like the absolute worst mother in existence for a brief amount of time.  Okay, it has officially ripped the scab off of that permanent wound of utter failure that is always living inside of every mother, even when dormant. 

I wanted one more sip of my ice water with lemon.  One more.  Is that too much to ask?  Actually, Missie, as a mother, yes it is.  Because she then slipped from my hold, ran up the isle, and hung a left at the bathrooms where I lost the sight of her head because of the divider.  I was for a brief moment unaware of which direction she took.  I was at full panic for a few seconds as I rounded the corner of the divider.  It was either to the left past the registers or to the right into the kitchen.  Stupid me hung left, telling the questioning server that I was looking for my kid with large deer in headlight border panic breakdown eyes.  I then heard a cough I recognized as my daughter’s from the place I had hoped she didn’t veer into---the kitchen. 

There are two open doorways into the kitchen at Applebee’s.  Here’s some foreshadowing: there isn’t even a door.  As I realized she had entered the kitchen I started to back step to head into the first doorway, at that moment a woman emerged from the left doorway with my child dangling from her arms, visibly distraught at this point (my kid, not the woman).

I don’t remember her exact words, as their meaning and my caring trailed off after it registered what her attitude and opinion was of.  The first words out of my mouth were “I’m sorry…”  The first words out of her mouth were “Do you realize all of the hot things that are back there and blah blah blah…” condescension.  No, please tell me what a kitchen is and what possible dangers lay in it, because we don’t have one and I have absolutely no idea.  I replied, calmly, “I’m sorry, but do you realize how quick a toddler is?”  “Yes, actually, I have two...” more blah blah, I’m a better mother than you, you 18-year-old fedora slut, attitude.  (I jest, but most times you REALLY CAN judge what people are meaning by the way they say things…the WAY you say something is very important. I knew what she was feeling, that was for sure.) 

Anyway, apparently she is either the best mother in the world or her toddlers have no posterior limbs, because doesn’t every mother of a toddler understand how they can be??  WHY ARE MOTHERS SO NASTY TO EACH OTHER!?!?  Cut me some slack.  YES, I realize I am greatly in the wrong for delaying my wrangling efforts that 5 seconds for one more sip of ice cold lemon water for my frazzled dehydrated tongue. I’m not being sarcastic, I realize that was wrong because you don’t get the privilege of random sips of refreshing drinks at will with motherhood, you just don’t, but it was only maybe 10 to 15 seconds that she was in the kitchen, and I would have had her out in like 3 to 5 had I taken the right turn and not hung a left toward the registers!!  Why didn’t any of the other servers who could stop to ask me what I needed, not stop her from heading in there, as they must have seen her round the corner?  It’s not like I sent her back to make me a steak of something? Come ON!  Apparently you are the best mother ever, Applebee’s worker, and your toddlers are made of gold, stationary gold. 

I assume a lot of it was that I may come across as looking like I am 18 to 21 years old.  I may look like I’m completely green, but don’t let the fedora, feathers and nose ring fool you.  This lady was probably 5 to 10 years my senior and she had the attitude that I know absolutely nothing about child care and apparently kitchen ware.  Not that age really matters in motherhood, I realize I am a new mother, and I realize there is a lot I don’t know, but don’t talk down to me like a lot of mothers do IN GENERAL to young in age mothers because you think I am very young.  JUDGEMENT!  Tell me again what dangers lay in the Applebee’s kitchen?  If you’re going to be that way and act like things like this don’t happen in a place that allows children, then please…PLEASE…put a door on your kitchen and don’t have TWO very LARGE access points to it right beside the entrance to the bathroom.  Let’s face it, toddlers eat.  They’re going to be patronizing your restaurant.  They’re going to be entering that bathroom.  Things like this happen and I like to think I was filled with the proper amount of motherly dread and terror as I rounded that corner and didn’t see my daughter.  PLEASE do not use your superior parenting skills and advanced age and rank in the Applebee’s kitchen to purposely make life more stressful for a fellow mom.  Why are moms so mean to each other?  Because we’re BITCHES!  Because motherhood is hard!  Because motherhood is TERRIFYING and you don’t know at any point in time that you are making the right decision.  Because you are always on edge, waiting for someone to judge your way of parenting because deep down you are WORRIED THAT YOU ARE WRONG!!  Deep down there is a place inside of you where you are worried that you are a BAD MOTHER every second of your day!  Welcome to Motherhood. 

At the end of this experience I was left feeling like a shitty ass mother.  I felt so horrible for those 5 seconds, because when it comes down to it, I KNOW BETTER.  You can’t hold on to a spirited toddler’s hand enough to control them without breaking it; it’s like like trying to walk a terrier on a leash of cooked spaghetti.  I know how fast Celie is and I know why I don’t let her down in restaurants, but I find it hard to believe that no child has ever entered that kitchen on a pass through.  Hell, I’m pretty sure my mother has walked into a kitchen trying to find the bathroom.  SHIT HAPPENS!  I also find it hard to believe that lady has had a handle on her kids every second of their existence.  I simply walked away when she started the whole “Yes, actually, I have two and...” where she was then going to go into some other words of wisdom and advice and correction.  Well, lady, if that’s true, then why be such a bitch?  I understand that you are probably stressed out and tired from work, and you may even be generally concerned about the well being of my child, which was my primary concern as I was trying to fetch her.  Hey, life is hard.  But women are not going to advance themselves any farther by being so snippy and judgmental with each other.  Thank you for representing the part of my psyche that does completely agree with you and acknowledges that this was entirely my fault as a mother, but as a mother, please…could you develop some empathy?  Haven’t you had one of those days?  When you have chased for hours and just want a sip of lemon water?  Haven’t you had a few seconds when they just slipped away from your control?  I’m well aware of the dangers of a kitchen, thank you very much.  I have worked in the food industry; I have a small version of one at home as well.  Nobody was more terrified or concerned when my daughter entered that kitchen than I was.  Thank you for making it even harder as a mother to do the right thing.  Thank you for being that mother, “That Mother” that makes my girlfriend and I loathe and detest play groups and mother functions where they gather.  Thank you for judging me to be unfit in a matter of seconds with the tone of your voice.  And congratulations, because you are, therefore, better than I am.  You are “right”. Isn’t that the hopeful end result of meanie mom logic?

From a fellow mother, would it have been too much for that empathetic smile, and a word TO MY DAUGHTER about the dangers of the kitchen and not me?? In an age appropriate way??  So as to help be the village and learn HER of the dangers?  I would have even taken a “you should know better” look from you if you had done that.  I forgot all about correcting her behavior for running away from me in the first place because I was too busy calling you a bitch on my way out the door!  I was so worked up trying to find her, then I got Dr. Toddler jumped when I found her, I was a mess the whole drive home.  “Stop yelling at me!” my girlfriend says.  I was obviously heightened and complaining loudly, it was a miracle the girls fell asleep in the back seat. 

Really, Applebee’s?  Here’s a thought, put a swinging door on your kitchen if it’s like Louis III’s dungeon back there!  But, honestly, thank you for the condescending direction, because I don’t know about you, Applebee’s cook with two toddlers, but I am a reflective human being, and I will take this experience and try to learn from it.  Maybe you should do the same.  There really is a chance that you were unaware the way you approached things could have been different, and therein lays the problem with mothers connecting.  Instead of recognizing that part that is similar inside of us all you chose to go the ol’ yes I have kids therefore I know how to wrangle yours, do you even know what a kitchen is? route.  Thank you for mirroring my motherly doubts and further perpetuating the cycle of indifference and judgment among women.  You worked me up into a tizzy.  I’m going to go vomit and cry now.

Judging You,
Missie Sue