Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Upside to Procrastination

As the dishes pile up.
I make a cheesecake. 

This weekend Joey worked on Saturday, so I was bored and sad. At first, I was motivated and said, okay, that's fine, I'll do the dishes. Then I looked at the dishes and immediately decided I had much better things to do. This was Friday night. I was in good spirits and had the best intentions but then I got bummed out because it was Friday and he wasn't coming home, so instead of doing the dishes and cleaning up the destroyed (I mean, put off for days) kitchen, I would write a song. I sat at the counter, facing the mocking dishes, and instead penned and strummed out a song that actually made me fairly proud. So that was a Friday well spent, I'd say, even if my kitchen was a disaster. The first lesson in procrastination..sometimes, putting off doing the dirty work allows you to create something new.

On Saturday, I thought about cleaning up the kitchen again but just wasn't in a cleaning shit up mood. I figured, since Joey's ETA wasn't until after 6, I would make my leap into cheesecakery. I finished up the song I wrote the night before and played around with it a bit, but then I started to bake, regardless of the state of my kitchen, which is something I'm not usually inclined to do. I usually prefer to have it cleaned up if I am doing any kind of fun baking and added mess making. I have never made a cheesecake from scratch before, but my mother had given me a 9" Wolfgang Puck springform pan as a gift this Christmas, because I had said about wanting to make one. So I finally got around to trying it out. This baby was from scratch. I mean, not from a box, but an honest to goodness cream cheese heavy whipping cream concoction of a for real cheesecake. My first!

I found a recipe on the internet. It is allegedly The Perfect Cheesecake, a twist on another woman's recipe posted by another woman. I didn't even look in my books and for some reason just searched the net and went with this one. It's a New York Style cheese cake, that actually required a water bath and everything and had a few steps. Leave it to me to go with a harder one, because I don't believe they all require a fancy pants bath and foil wrap? I also found out that our oven is incredibly uneven and needs leveled before I make my next cheesecake or a cake of any type for that matter. So, it's a little lopsided, but that doesn't affect the taste at all. It's still a beautiful thing.

This cheesecake actually called for a sour cream based topping spread on it, and then an optional fruit (raspberry) topping drizzled over it. I was at my mother's last week when she had been picking rhubarb out of their garden so I got some off of her to try out. Surely I should be able to make a fruit concoction for cheesecake from it? So I tried it out. My rhubarb topping wasn't exactly drizzlable, so I just spread it over top of the sour cream topping layer after I chilled that a bit. It worked. It ended up tasting quite sweet and yummy; rhubarb and cheesecake actually go together well.

The cake, as a whole, was a success. The butter in the crust was perhaps a bit much, or the salt wasn't stirred into the crumbs enough, perhaps, and I would let the cream cheese come a little more to room temperature next time, but I'm still mmmmmcredibly pleased with the end result. We ate a bunch and gave a bunch away. The second lesson in procrastination...sometimes putting off the dirty work is pretty tasty! It's all about priorities. A dirty house doesn't need to be the end of your endeavors; you aren't putting things off if you are still doing something worthwhile. I got a song and a cheesecake out of the deal. There are so many better things to be doing than dishes!! So there. My first cheesecake, a rhubarb New York Style one, even. Delicious.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra at The Rowland Theatre

The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra Presents:
Saturday, May 14th, 7PM
Rowland Theatre, Philipsburg

Saturday, May 14th I had the honor of going to our locally treasured Rowland Theatre in Philipsburg to see The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra conducted by Rick Benjamin that did a show there to a mix of silent films, entitled The Clown Princes. The performance included films by Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd as well as a selection of American theatre orchestra favorites. The show cost $20 and was filled decently well with fans of all ages, including some fun ladies in their flapper garb, feathers and pearls who really got into it. I went with my mother and my Aunt Peggy. It was a really good time!

Something about me…I have had a Buster Keaton thing since college. I love Charlie Chaplin, also; who doesn’t love the Little Tramp? But I, for some reason, was incredibly drawn to the Great Stone Face and his contribution to the silent film era so this was an exciting event. Silent films are pretty interesting. The acting had to be big enough to get the ideas and gags across with absolutely no sound, while also being entertaining and filmed from the best angles. It relied heavily on slapstick and stunts, most of which were done by the actors themselves who were, in many cases, directing the films as well. These guys were hard core. They were pioneers in filmmaking, our forefathers of visual comedy, acting and directing. It was such a cool experience to see these silent films on the big screen with live music from a real ragtime orchestra like it would have been at the time of their production. We were actually encouraged to hiss and boo at the bad guys, and ooh and ahh for the good guys.

The first selection was the 1922 film Cops starring Buster Keaton, directed by Keaton and Eddie Cline. Afterward, the band played an orchestral interlude for reel change music, as would have been traditional back in the day. Rick Benjamin, the conductor, spoke some about music history, and how most of the films were made around the year that the Rowland opened, in 1917, and also how rare music would have been back then. He spoke of today and how music has become a kind of “sonic wallpaper” as he called it, as in it’s everywhere in the background. He said he thinks that it actually devalues the music.

In the silent film era musicians, writers and publishers were all in high demand to create the musical scores for movies. People didn’t have access to music like they do now and they would only be able to hear music if a family member or a friend played an instrument, or if they were able to catch a live performance. It makes you think and it’s really true. Music has been devalued because it is so ubiquitous now. It’s everywhere from elevators, waiting rooms, cars, stores and commercials. He’s right, it IS sonic wallpaper! So much so that people probably don’t even realize a lot of the time that it is there sticking to the wall. In the silent film era, however, the music stood out and was more important because it wasn’t as prevalent. It was a luxury!

The second photoplay was the 1920 film Get Out and Get Under starring Harold Lloyd, who was a boxer turned actor. This film was directed by truck driver turned director, Hal Roach. Loyd’s “Glass” character was more like the common man. People loved Buster’s “Stoneface” and Charlie’s “Tramp” because they were goofy and different, Benjamin said, but they loved Harold Loyd because he reminded them of themselves. I wasn’t as familiar with Lloyd as the other two clown princes, so it was really neat to see this film.

After intermission we were treated to a selection of American theatre orchestra favorites, including 1921’s I’m Just Wild About Harry, 1904’s The Cascades, and W.C. Handy’s 1915 blues number The Hesitation Blues. The third photoplay section was 1916’s Easy Street starring and directed by Charles Chaplin! It’s amazing to think this film came out just one year before the Rowland opened its doors in 1917. The music to this film could actually not be found so the entire score for this one was reconstructed by Rick Benjamin based on musical settings of the time.

This was a very entertaining show. Benjamin asked the crowd if we would each bring “two and a half” people with us if they returned. We cheered that we would, of course. It was a great time; highly entertaining watching Joseph Ellis do the drums and sound effects along with the film. They pulled out all the bells and whistles, literally. Quacky noises for people talking or giving speeches, sobbing noises for when people cried. With just 11 members, The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra sounds pretty boomin’! I highly recommend it!

Also, interestingly, it is the eve of the Rowland Theatre’s centennial. The Rowland was opened on June 4th, 1917 by Charles Hedding Rowland and its very first offering was a silent film entitled “Within the Law”. Currently, the Rowland Theatre’s Board of Director’s is in the process of collecting funds to restore the marquee to the original glass structure that appeared in 1917. The original marquee apparently extended over the roadway about two feet. In conjunction, they will be designing a plaza in front of the theatre to protect the new structure that will be made of bricks, extending the sidewalk. People can order a personalized brick for $100 each. The Rowland Theatre is on the National Register of Historic Places and really is a local treasure. I look forward to seeing the finished marquee in 2017 and supporting them in the future as they continue to bring entertainment to the Moshannon Valley area, just like this showing of The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra’s The Clown Princes!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Non-Fishy Fish Bread

This is one of my favorite Korean snacks! This is Gold Fish bread. It might look and sound like it is, but it is not made of fish or anything. It's a not fishy fish. It's made with red beans and actually has a sweet taste. It's kind of like a morning doughnut or pastry, only less sweet, and is yummy with coffee! They also come stuffed with a yellow custard and in a tiny baby fish size. Cute and tasty!

Post Pub Noodlage

March 19, 2016

This is a bowl of handmade noodles lovingly prepared by a sweet "aunt" street vendor lady. They were excellent! On this night, we went to What the Pub, which has basically been my sister's Cheers here in Korea, where everybody knows her name. The owner, Spikey, is like her Korean brother and is super cool. We drank some wine and beers, met some of her friends, and then hit the streets for noodles. 

Getting this dish is basically like their version of getting French fries with gravy at the truckstop after tying one on at the bar. Vendors set up mini tent restaurants on the streets and work all night making noodles and soups and other things. The street vendors in Seoul are some hard working people, that's for sure!

#seoulfood #foodasfriend

The First Supper

Our first dinner in Korea was exciting! And thus began my love affair with chop sticks, and schooling on all of the sides you get with meals. Kimchi is eaten like applesauce here so it tends to grow on you and I quite enjoy the cooking tables. A lot of meals are cooked in front of you. It's just neat! And spicy. Super neat and spicy. I'm enjoying the food so far. I learned to say "Excuse me! A little more water, please!" I'm pretty sure I said the right thing, because the server brought me water. Score!

#seoulfood #foodasfriend

Tenderheart Bear Went Over the Mountain

March 18, 2016

Our first day in Korea, we hiked up to the top of the mountain by my sister's apartment. There was a little exercise playground thing there, which we are finding is quite common here, complete with hula hoops. Pretty fun, even though the stairs kicked our asses because we were still fairly jet lagged. Luckily we have since adjusted and gotten used to all the hiking and stairs. Lots.Of.Stairs. 

I brought Tenderheart Bear with me on my travels, my little symbol of home. I'm taking pictures of him at places I go to show Celie. On this day, Tenderheart Bear enjoyed a nice view of Nokbeon below. 

Korea Bound: The Big Surprise Tour

March 16, 2016

So, it was hush hush that I was leaving because we were surprising my sister, but...I'M IN SOUTH KOREA!!

My sister has been living in Seoul, Korea for the past four years. My parents and brother were planning to go visit her, which she knew about, but my sister Kate and I decided to go as a surprise. She had no idea. Sneaky sneaks, we are!

So, we all boarded this two story air plane on March 16th to make the flight up over the North Pole to the other side of the world. We got her good! It was tricky, as we didn't know where she would be in the airport coming through, and I poked my head out of the door after coming through customs, and we saw each other for a split second, but she thought she was dreaming or seeing my ghost because both of us never thought in a million years I would be able to make it to Seoul while she was here. 

This is a chance of a lifetime! Hats off to my husband for taking over 2 weeks off of work to stay at home with our daughter while I did this; I am one lucky woman! There is no other way I could have done this. It was a 14 hour flight, which was rough, but the attendants on Asiana Air were very attentive and wonderful. 

It's crazy to think that we flew for as long as it took us to drive to Memphis?! This is so far away. I had a moment on the plane, my heart was kind of breaking, like it knew how unnatural it is to be thousands of miles from my daughter. It was hard to leave her, but I am grateful to be here with my family and it is great to see my sister, meet her boyfriend and his family, and to experience an entirely different culture.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Been My Valentine

February 14, 2016

For Valentine's Day this year we went down to the Casanova Nostalgia in Munson/Casanova. They were having a Valentine's Day dinner special so we decided to partake. I got shrimp fettuccini and Mr. Joseph had a lasagna dinner. We even got a complimentary cupcake after the meal. It was cool that we could go somewhere so close to home and local that was still really cool and we didn't really have to see many people. Ha! Perfect.

Celie and I also received roses and chocolates, because what is Valentine's Day without roses and chocolates, right? That's what makes the consumer holiday go-round! It was a good day.  

Friday, February 5, 2016

Second Hand-Me-Downs

Celie is in my 80's sweater here. #flashbackfriday or #throwbackthursday? It's so crazy to think that she is wearing a sweater that I wore when I was her age. It's funny how time just keeps going, kids wear sweaters and grow out of said sweaters and grow up to have kids of their own that wear the same sweater? I can remember that sweater. I can remember it, that's what's crazy. I can remember things that don't seem that far away to me. That life is there, like a foggy dream, more like a feeling than a memory but still alive in me. It's there, reaching out into the present from the past and touching the Now ever so gently. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Recitations and Reflections

I wanted to make sure that I blogged about this photo moment, especially since my phone ran out of room shortly after taking this picture and I couldn't take video of this day. On December 18th, 2015, Celie was in a Christmas program at her preschool. It was tiny, as there are only 9 kids total in her class, but it was kind of a big deal. Every kid had a spoken line to recite in front of all the parents and family. Given how she handled the Halloween party that they had, where parents were allowed to take pictures and watch as the teachers guessed who everyone was, I was a little nervous about what was essentially her first public performance.

We practiced her line for awhile before the big day as instructed by her teachers.  Each child had his or her own line to recite and then they had a line together to say in unison. It was pretty exciting. She didn't seem thrilled. I tried to stay positive and excited about the whole thing so I wouldn't make her nervous myself. She had her line down pretty well and was spouting off some of the other kids' lines. She said it super fast at times and super silly at other times. I just hoped that they were working with her too on it and she was taking it more seriously in class. Come the big day, she made me proud though. 

Grammy and Pop came to see her that morning with me. She was excited and went over with the other kids just fine, instead of refusing to come in like she did on the Halloween party. I didn't bring my Nikon because I thought I would make her nervous if I made a bigger deal about it with a big camera. She knew what to expect this time though with the visitors coming to view the program. All of the parents were there with their cameras and that's what I think freaked her out about Halloween so I just tried to be discreet with my phone. Then it spazzed so I ended up just watching after taking this picture, which was nice. She recited her line just fine and put her little candle where it was supposed to be. "Light the candle of peace today, the giver of peace is here!" She didn't freeze or cry or freak out or forget her line. It seemed like no big deal, or at least she made it seem that way? Either way, she did good. It was cute. 

I was trying to remember how I would have handled such a task at the age of 5. I don't think I would have even done as well, but then again I can't remember. At one point in my childhood I was rather outgoing and didn't give a shit. I slowly got taken over by social anxiety later on, but I still did things then, I just felt like I was dying inside while doing them. I openly talked with Celie about her nervousness, though, and she shared the fact that she was a little scared but she wasn't terrified or anything. "Just a little nervous," she said. I assured her that it was fine to be a little nervous or scared but she will be fine, all the other kids have lines too. I think that was maybe why she was better, because they were all in it together. There is something to not being the only one, right? Strength in numbers? Plus, we practiced at home and she practiced it with her teachers a ton in the days leading up to it, and practice, also, leads to confidence. At least, that has been my experience.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

My Kid is Kinda Creepy

My kid can be a hurricane. She can be a firecracker and a handful; she uses every second of her waking day for movement. At the very least, it can be a little challenging for her to be still...especially when she's tired. She fights it to the end, even when she goes willingly. Books and snuggles, she will still literally go through a twitching and relaying-of-her-dreams-to-you stage before giving in to Morpheus. The struggle.is.real.

I have also decided that she is part zombie. Exhibit A...this sweet photo I took of her this Christmas Eve. D'awww! Super cute, right? NO! It's creepy...it's creepy as fuck?! I have spent a number of times over the past 5 years panicked and staring at my child, wondering if she was breathing. It's a little weird, I think, that she sleeps with her eyes partially open! 

Now, I don't think that she got this from me, or her dad for that matter. Truth be told, my brother sleeps with his eyes slightly open the same way. So she got it from Uncle Tony. It's actually funny having a kid and seeing so many aspects of your siblings in them. I wasn't prepared for my brother's weird eye thing. It's funny, though. 

So, at least they aren't COMPLETELY open. That kid's gotta be out there somewhere, the poor bastard! Maybe this title IS a little over the top. She doesn't chant in her sleep or anything, I'm sure that kid is our there too! I joke that she hates sleep so much that she doesn't even fully close her eyes for it. Maybe that's why? It's like Enter Sandman...she sleeps with one eye open. Or---two eyes half open? That equals one, right? What's she looking at? At times I have closed them, but that just seems too morbid and freaks me out. So I just let her be...Celie, the squinty-eyed sleeper, lover of worms, coordinator of chaos and keeper of caterpillars. Dream on, you crazy kid! 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Snow Men, Snow Angels, Snow Women

January 13th 2016

On this day we came home from preschool and played in the snow a bit. Celie made some snow angels. We also made an impromptu snow man and I was actually proud of myself for giving in to its creation. This was a hard winter for me, not as hard as previous ones, but I still was fairly low mood and energy the whole time and it was hard to get me to do much of anything fun. I'm glad that Celie coaxed me to the out of doors and into the snow when she did. I let her have a winter trampoline session at one point. It's sad when the woods are completely snowed over and we can't do the things that we do in summer. Celie has a hard time understanding. There is also a very isolating feeling that is laid down on the hill with that snow. Surrounded by white, the snow leaves a silence and stillness to the woods. The winter can be lonely and long.

A couple of times this winter we sled down the back yard hill on little plastic saucer sleds. We bought them after Celie suggested we buy them when she spotted them at the Hardware in Kylertown. Her and Joey went sledding the first day and I stayed in. Then when he was gone that week I went out and sled with her a couple times. On our final ride, after the snow was replaced by hardened ice, it was a day that I just really didn't want to go sliding, I had my period and was feeling rather unpleasant. But, again, I let Celie lead and I found myself flying down the hill on the patches of ice that were left over. We slid so fast on that stuff, we were wiping out left and right and out came the long lost laugh...and then Mom ended up breaking her saucer. Yep, I busted a hole in the bottom of it on the jagged ice. It was a good time, though. We had some fun this winter.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

She Leads Me Home

I followed my anger out into the woods.
I shrugged off Its stronger offenses. 
I found a trail, I searched for the Good,
Unknowing, let down my defenses. 

Into my garden and over my wall, 
The remnants of shadowy deeds. 
Creeping under the mockingbird's call, 
Frantically pulling at weeds. 

At dusk, I buried her under a tree,
And left a small cross at Her head. 
At dawn, I drank, as I was in grief, 
Remem’bring She never was dead. 

- December 15, 2015