Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Upside to Procrastination

HAIKU:
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.







http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/perfect_cheesecake/

Saturday, May 14, 2016

The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra at The Rowland Theatre


The Paragon Ragtime Orchestra Presents:
THE CLOWN PRINCES
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!

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

What the Fuck is My Problem?

What the fuck is your problem??! What the fuck is MY problem?! Sometimes...just sometimes...it's you. Sometimes, it's not you, it's me, but sometimes it's not me---it's YOU! If this is at all confusing, welcome to my world. I'm confused a majority of the time. I'm gonna open up a bag of worms...a Pandora's box...a bunch of shit? You're welcome to think so, but I don't really care. I've long suspected there was something not completely "normal" about the way I processed sensory information and emotions, but I began to get a better grip on what was up when I started referring to myself as an empath. There's a lot to be said about owning something. I got an even better hold on things once I finally believed it was true. 

An empath is a person who, essentially, feels the emotions and physical sensations of those they are close to, around a lot or sometimes just walking past or sitting near. Usually it is with people you have strong emotional connections with. Sometimes it seems there is no rhyme or reason. Some things are stronger than others. Sorting and sifting through your own feelings and emotions is a process, but the best way to help you to identify what you are catching. Empaths who are just discovering they are empaths are actually, in my studies and experience, stuck on identifying. They identify with everything they feel. This is a good thing, to be able to put yourself in a different perspective, in somebody else's shoes, but it's important to know where you end and something else begins...while also knowing that it is an illusion that it even is separate in the first place. Yeah, life is complex, filled with dichotomies and reflections.

It's confusing that you are ultimately seeing reflections of yourself in other people and figuring out if you are projecting or seeing truthfully can be difficult. Knowing yourself is really key to differentiating between your own parts and emotions and the other's. I noticed that certain people I naturally had a "wall" up in front of to protect me, but it left me numb myself at times. I grew adept at not feeling my own feelings and running off of the direction of others. I naturally shielded some people but at the same time had absolutely no boundaries against other people's energy. It's taken me a long time to put the pieces of my story together; I've always been a container for the unwanted energies of others. I hold it together for other people, but can't seem to hold my own. Cleansing, shielding, and grounding can be very helpful in dealing with energies and they have been very beneficial. It's not always on. It ebbs and flows, or wanes and peaks. Somethings are overwhelming and some things are fine. You just never know.

I experienced a lot of healing when I started using Dr. Judith Orloff's Empath Support Group and realized what was happening, but I also have since moved on somewhat because I don't want to get overly involved in over identifying with them. Basically, an empath is a highly sensitive person that can tap into the emotions of other people and experience those feelings as if they were their own. Believe me...it's a thing. So, that's what my problem is, after all. I'm just too damn sensitive, but I've learned there really is no such thing. It's helpful. I'm an artist. I'm a sensitive singer-songwriter. It's a blessing and a curse. That and I'm an introvert, basically. Or, at the very least, an ambivert. So, I like to socialize, but not really. I recharge with alone time. I like nature. I love being alone. I am drained by people and social situations. I enjoy small, more intimate groups of people as apposed to large and loud crowds. I used to be a lot worse and relied on alcohol to numb my sensory overload but I have more of a grip on it now. I'm growing daily and mastering my "skills" the best that I can. I need time away because I absorb everything like a sponge and I feel for you. I really do.


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.