Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Homecoming 2009

This year I was invited to sing at the Alumni Concert for ISU's Homecoming. This is the first time the Alumni have hosted a concert and I thought it was a good idea. I was told that there were several people who thought Homecoming should be more and a game, a bonfire and making out on the top of Red Hill. You read right, we have a lip orgy on Red Hill, we're basically Rome. This concert, and an art unveiling, made for a more classy homecoming than usual. In these situations, it's best to pic music that people will like. I tend to hate music that people like. So I tried to find common ground. I ended up doing a solo and a duet. The solo was 'Silent Noon' by Ralph Vaughn Williams. It is an art song, but one that most people can enjoy (I even got a standing ovation from a nice old lady who wasn't even my Grandma). The duet was a recycled song I did earlier with Allyson Johnson. It's catchy and everyone likes it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I Heart Halloween

There are several things from my childhood that I never outgrew. Whenever I'm with little kids I make them play with legos or play doh because I want to play with legos and play doh, but need an excuse to make it socially acceptable.

The most prominent leftover from my younger years is my love of Halloween. Even now, I start thinking about it in early September. I love how everything is spooky and creepy. I love carving pumpkins, reading ghost stories and watching scary movies. I'm not much for dressing up, but every few years I come up with a good costume.

Halloween enjoyment was instilled in me by my Mom. Under her supervision, I began watching horror movies when I was 10. Some of my fondest Halloween memories are of helping her decorate the house, carving pumpkins, and decorating spooky cookies.

These are activities I still enjoy, but as an adult, I have a rather snooty and discriminating taste about how I enjoy them. One thing is for sure: I hate cutesy Halloween stuff. I think Halloween paraphernalia should either be genuinely creepy or vintage. I don't own cute little ghosts that carry trick-or-treat baskets. I don't have an 'adorable' ceramic tarantula with a smiley face that plays the Alfred Hitchcock theme when you press on its thorax (Sorry Mom, I don't want that when you die). The problem: snooty is hard to come by and expensive. Earlier this summer I was looking around on line and discovered old school fireplace screens. I had never seen them before, but they were awesome. Even though they cost way, way, way too much, I decided I was going to buy one. So I did.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Dad Runs a Marathon

My Dad has always wanted to run a marathon. It's something that I will never understand. I know a lot of people that really want to run one at some point in their life. Maybe I could do it if a bear were chasing me, but I think a bear would give up after a few miles. People say they want to do it to prove to themselves that they can. If I can force myself to go to work everyday, I don't need to prove to myself that I can do things.
Back to my Dad running a marathon, he decided that since he turned 61 this year, it was now or never. He trained very diligently for several months before that race. When I was a youngin' I thought that 60 year-olds were ancient and wouldn't be capable of running at all. He told me a few times that he was ridiculously sore and in quite a bit of pain, but he kept going.
Everyone in the family was really impressed that he was running a marathon and we all waited at the finish line to see him come in. His time was 5:31:31! He wasn't thrilled by that, but it would take me about 6 weeks to run that far. Good job, Dad.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Fireworks Explodoganza

Each year around the 4th of July, Tonda Cody, a friend of the family, has an over-the-top firework explodoganza. These are not your run of the mill fireworks. She goes out of her way to find the extra fancy kind of fireworks that were probably an ancient Chinese secret at some point. I don't want to guess what she spends on them, definitely more than $1.50. Don't think it's just an informal get together where people go out on the driveway and randomly light fireworks. Oh no, she has an "altar" in the back yard on which the fireworks are lit. Programs are distributed telling visitors what fireworks they will be seeing. The whole affair is set to patriotic music. It's kind of a big freakin' deal.

The party should also be noted for it's diversity in an undiverse place, Tonda's husband, children and in-laws are black. Yeah, there are black people in Idaho, Tonda's in-laws. When this party happens it is quite possibly the most racially diverse gathering in the state.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lovliest of Trees

I went outside to do some yard work and saw the fruit trees were blossoming. I thoroughly enjoy the blossoming of trees each year. This year it made me feel poetic. So poetic I thought about one of my favorite A E Housman poems:

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cinco de Mayo

I really love Mexican food. I also love eating it. So I decided that we needed to have a Cinco de Mayo potluck at work. I decided a make-your-own-burrito-bar would be more El Fantastico than any Mexican Soap Opera could ever hope to be (and it was). I had always wanted to have a Cinco de Mayo party, but May 5th is my Mom's birthday, so as a child we celebrated her natal day instead. (Way to ruin everything, Mom.)
One of the photographers in my office has a bazillion decorations, so she came with all of her Mexican stuff. It was way more fun than working.

Laird (one of my many co-workers) knows how to rock a sombrero.

'El Gostoso Black Beans'

2 tbsp Olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 can pinto or black beans (15 oz), drained
1 tsp ground cumin

Just el cook them. Sometimes I leave out the cumin, because black beans are that good.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Blockflöten Hooray!

For several years I've wanted to purchase a set of recorders. Some people say recorders are just for third graders and they sound terrible. Those people are living in ignorance. A recorder is not a toy, it's a musical instrument.
The set I purchased has a Sopranino (dog whistle), Soprano (the kind used by third graders), Alto (The kind professionals play) and a tenor (the mellow version of what the third graders have).
You may ask why I would spend money on such a silly thing. If you are asking that, you don't know me very well. I'm the kind of person who thinks playing the guitar is lame but playing the lute is unbelievably awesome.

This is why recorders are awesone.

Monday, March 2, 2009

St Davids Day in Boise

I went up to Boise over to the weekend to visit my parents. My mom just had her knee re-replaced. It's as complicated as it sounds. Her first knee replacement caused a lot of problems and left her worse off than when her natural knee was causing problems. While she was in the hospital, my dad got really sick with some hideous, monster cold. He was out of it for days. So I went up to take care of my old, sick parents. (They're really not old enough for me to be doing that.)
So the visit wasn't incredibly exciting. I mostly stayed at their house doing whatever they told me to do. (They're so freaking bossy) I decided that since March 1st was St. Davids Day, he's the Patron Saint of Wales, that I would make some traditional welsh food as part of my quest to force welshiness on other people. I made leek potato soup and lamb chops. I had never eaten either. When I went to buy the lamb I discovered why. It's ridiculously expensive.

It turned out to be quite tasty. I'll definitely be making more leek soup in the future. Lamb will probably be eaten sparingly.

Leeks are strange looking, but extra tasty.

Leek Soup - Cawl Cennin

1 oz Butter
6 leeks, washed trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 to 1.5 pints chicken broth
1 to 1.5 pints whole milk
Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a saucepan and sweat the vegetables until soft. Add broth bring to a boil and simmer covered for 30 minutes. Add milk and heat - do not allow to boil.
I bet if you added bacon it would be extra tasty.

I went to Barnes and Noble on Saturday. When I told my Mom I was going, she asked me to buy Watchmen for her. That's right, my Mom owns a graphic novel. I think that makes her hipper than me since I don't own one.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I'm a Famous Singer

On Thursday, I sang at ISU's donor recognition dinner. It's basically a fancy dinner party with people who gave the University a crapload of money during the year. They always get people to sing and play piano. It's mostly music the majority of people could enjoy, nothing artsy or intellectual. This year I sang a duet with Allyson Johnson. We went through the music program at the same time and now we both work for the university. We sang a duet at a friend's wedding years ago, so it was fun to sing together again. We sang Let's Call the Whole Thing Off by Gerschwin. (That's the I say potato, you say potahto song) Fun times.

We looked really pissed off, huh?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Holy Crap. I'm 30.

Turning 30 was actually less traumatic than I thought it would be. Six months ago, I realized the day was coming soon. I went into a bit of a panic. 30 is one of those milestone numbers. I always thought that when I was 30 I would feel like an adult. I don't. Not at all.
On pretty much every birthday I have, I get the feeling that I'm another year older and still haven't done anything with my life. I really didn't want that to happen this time and wondered if there were a way to get around it. I thought maybe I could do something to make me feel good about myself instead. That's when I wrote the I should be not fat entry. Well, guess how much weight I lost. Zero. That made me feel good about myself.
I suppose what I realized is that age is just a number and that I should be happy with whatever I can accomplish in my life. After all, who am I comparing myself to? Exactly, to a bunch of people who are also losers in their own way. I hear people say that happiness is not based on external conditions, but it is a state of mind. I shouldn't let the fact that I'm a fat old maid with no life get me down. I might as well be happy about who I am.
In conclusion:
Up yours 30.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year and Blwyddyn Newydd Dda

This year I had very little planned for New Year's Day. It's mostly because I'm boring. As part of my goal to learn a bunch of Welsh this year, I thought I would partake in the old Welsh tradition of making a Calennig on New Years day.
Here's how you make it:
1. Get an apple and stick cloves on it in a decorative pattern of some sort.

2. Get 3 sticks (I use kabob sticks) and turn the apple into a tripod. Then cram a piece of shubbery into the top of the apple.

3. Place on your window sill. The calennig will bring you good luck and you should keep on the window sill until you can't stand looking at how rotten it is. My guess is about six weeks, unless you're hard core then you should keep it until the 4th of July.

In Ye Olde Times you would make several calennigs in the morning and give them to visitors who have come to give you New Year's wishes. I'm too lazy for that so I just made one.