- one power strip for the studio equipment I use for teaching and my own practicing/songwriting activities
- one power strip for the computer and frequently used peripherals
- one power strip for my recording equipment
- one power strip--that stays on all the time--for my studio phone/answering machine and cellphone charger
Monday, December 29, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
1-2 lb Small Red Beans, Dry (or Navy Beans)
1/2 lb Low Sodium Bacon (1/4 inch dice with kitchen shears)
1/2 cup Dark Molasses
1/2 cup Maple Syrup
1 cup Hot Water
1 Tbs Cider Vinegar
1/8 cup Dried Chopped Onion
1 tsp Dry Mustard
1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt
1/4 tsp Black Pepper
1/8 tsp Ground Cloves
1) Quick soak beans. (Cover with water equal to 3 times volume of beans. Boil 3 minutes, remove from heat and allow to soak 1 hour.) Drain and rinse. (Quick soaking, draining and rinsing reduces the amount of indigestible starch in the beans, thereby reducing those well known after effects that give beans such a bad reputation.) Replace water and cook until tender, 1-1 ½ hrs. Can be done a day ahead.
2) In a bowl, stir together: molasses, maple syrup, water, vinegar, onion, mustard, brown sugar, salt and spices. Can refrigerate overnight to blend flavors and hydrate dried onions.
3) Layer beans and bacon in 4-quart or larger, oven safe cooking pot, in 3 layers ending with bacon on top. Pour liquid mixture over layers. Add enough hot water to just reach top of beans.
4) Cover and bake 4 hours in 300F oven, or 6-8 hours at 250F, until beans are tender. Add water as needed to keep moist. Stir only once or twice.
5) Uncover last 30 minutes of cooking to brown. If excess liquid remains, cook uncovered until boiled away.
*Though the primary ingredients and methods in this recipe were combined from several sources, my own original twists include: small red beans substituted for navy beans, low sodium bacon in place of salt pork, half the amount of salt called for in other recipes, dried onions instead of fresh chopped, replacing half the volume of molasses in other recipes with maple syrup, and a hint of ground cloves.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Realism is mine—my miracles—Take freely,
Take without end—I offer them to you wherever your
feet can carry you, or your eyes reach.
Why! who makes much of a miracle?
As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the
Or wade with naked feet along the beach, just in the
edge of the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love—or sleep in the
bed at night with any one I love,
Or sit at the table at dinner with my mother,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive, of a sum-
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds—or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sun-down—or of stars
shining so quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite, delicate, thin curve of the new-moon
Every inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread
with the same,
Every cubic foot of the interior swarms with the same;
Every spear of grass—the frames, limbs, organs, of
men and women, and all that concerns them,
All these to me are unspeakably perfect miracles.
Friday, November 28, 2008
"Time at the Table"
Words and Music by Kay Pere and Bill Pere
Check back soon for lyrics.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
- 2 cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats (slow cooking)
- 4-5 cups Water
- 1/4 tsp Salt (adds approx. 100 mg sodium per serving)
- Dried Fruit, chopped (If you want them plumped, add at the beginning of cooking with oats.)
- Frozen Fruit, thawed while cooking
- Nuts, chopped (If you want them crunchy, add at the end of cooking.)
- Flavorings: cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves ... use your imagination
- Sweeteners: brown sugar, maple syrup, honey, molasses, jam, fruit juice
- 15 cup container uncooked Store Brand Rolled Oats = $1.75 US (on sale)
- 3 Servings per cup (with additions)
- $1.75 US for 45 servings per container
- $0.04 US per serving + cost of optional additions and soymilk!
- 10-15 minutes once a week to cook 6 days worth of servings.
- 2 minutes once a week to packaging in a resealable container for the frig
- 2 minutes each day doing other things while the microwave reheats (stir in a little water to thin)
- 1 minute once a week to scrub out the pan (if I don't remember to let it soak it takes longer)
- less than 1 minute once a week to wash the resealable container
- chopped dried apples, brown sugar or maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla, chopped walnuts
- chopped dates, chopped pecans, cinnamon, vanilla
- chopped dried apricots, honey, slivered almonds, almond extract (tiny amount)
- frozen blueberries, maple syrup
- frozen raspberries, honey
- strawberry jam, almonds
- blond raisins, pecans, cinnamon, vanilla, maple syrup
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
I'm going to make an effort to post quick snippets about happy everyday things, as an antidote.
#1 OUTSIDE MY STUDIO WINDOW
There is a dogwood tree right outside my studio window who keeps me company as the seasons change. In the past few weeks it has lost all its vermilion leaves. A fine filigree of branches remains, outlined against the sky.
All day squirrels use its branches as a highway from one tree to the next. Fat grey clowns in flannel suits, they carrying nuts too big for their mouths to hold, performing acrobatic feats as they hurrying past on their way to some secret cache.
Occasionally one will catch sight of me watching through the window and freeze in place, as if hoping to become instantly invisible. This is usually followed by loud, menacing chirping sounds and wild waving of a long fluffy tail. The cat may be intimidated by such antics--I just smile.
My studio window faces west, with my computer monitor on a desk in front of it. This morning, over the top if my screen, I watched the last quarter moon on her way toward the horizon. This evening, if I'm lucky, I'll catch sight of a brilliant sunset sky behind the silhouette of my companion dogwood tree's branches.
These are my simple joys today.
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
- I've stored mine in a repurposed 16 oz glass peanut butter jar.
- One pound of nuts filled the jar exactly.
- Processing was done in an 11-cup Cuisinart I got at a yard sale for $15.
- The nuts were purchased on sale from the grocery store, at a savings of several dollars over the cost of a store-bought jar of almond butter, and without the salt.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
I'm back. Dipping my toes back into the pool. Toes painted with hearts (I did this myself) in celebration of health restored.
Friday, July 18, 2008
~ William James
Saturday, June 14, 2008
This was the week of the annual book sale at our local library. For far less than one might spend on a single, new, hard-cover book, I brought home 17 barely-used, new-to-me books:
- No Salt, No Sugar, No Fat Cookbook, by Jacqueline Williams and Goldie Silverman
- Plain & Happy Living: Amish Recipes & Remedies, by Emma Byler
- Better Homes and Gardens Complete Book of Baking
- Herbs are Good Companions: To Vegetable - In the Garden, To Cooks in the Kitchen. by Adelma Grenier Simmons (founder of Caprilands Herb Farm, Coventry, CT)
- The Pasta Machine Cookbook, by Donna Rathmell German
- The New Book of Favorite Breads from Rose Lane Farm, by Ada Lou Roberts
- Perfect Pasta: 100 Suppers in a Flash. Rodale Press
- The Complete Guide to Claypot Cooking, by Bridget Jones [seriously!]
- The Complete Book of the Greenhouse, by Ian G. Walls
- Crockett's Victory Garden, by James Underwood Crockett
- Dandelion, Pokeweed, and Goosefoot: How the early settlers used plants for food, medicine, and in the home. by Elizabeth Schaeffer
- The Healing Herbs: The Ultimate Guide to the Curative Power of Nature's Medicines, by Michael Castleman
- Grandmothers of the Light: A Medicine Woman's Sourcebook, by Paula Gunn Allen
- Field Guide to Gestures: How to Identify and Interpret Virtually Every Gesture Known to Man, by Nancy Armstong and Melissa Wagner
- Blow a Bubble Not a Gasket: 101 Ways to Reduce Stress and Add FUN to Your Life, by Janie Walters [The book actually smells like bubble gum!]
- Cat Massage: A Whiskers-to-Tail Guide to Your Cat's Ultimate Petting Experience, by Maryjean Ballner
- The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit, by Don Campbell
Friday, June 06, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Gem, the cat, helps to patrol the garden. She's nonchalantly busy keeping rabbits and birds away from the tomatoes, Italian parsley and zucchini squash I planted last week.
Yesterday, I added trellises to the garden. They are of my own design, using readily available materials from a discount store and the local hardware store. Each trellis costs about $20 US, but will last for many years, and provides a flexible set-up.
It's constructed of 4 plant hangers (2 top and 2 bottom, the bottom two hung upside-down) with cross pieces of steel electrical conduit. I decided not to use petroleum-based heavy PVC pipe for philosophical/environmental reasons.
Jute twine spans the distance between the top and bottom pipes.
I'm using companion planting (inspired by this book) though out Gaia Luna.
Looking West, late in the day, the sun shines down on the central bed of strawberries, all in bloom, encircled by lambs ears. Within the next two weeks there will be fresh strawberries for breakfast.
The sun sinks lower as we step back outside Gaia Luna's purple picket fence.
April and May are just the beginning, the beginning of planting, the beginning of growing and harvesting.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
This book asserts that the hidden costs of organization can, in many circumstances, out weigh the benefits. It challenges the culturally held assumption that messiness is always detrimental to productivity, offering examples and research in support of the opposite view.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Though this photo looks like a UFO beamed us down on the NJ beach, we actually arrived by car.
The conference was held at Congress Hall, a beautiful old resort right on the shore, built in 1816.
More to come about this wonderful weekend and the people we met there.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
RANDOM WEBSURFING brought me to Instructables.com "The World's Biggest Show & Tell," with photos and step-by-step instructions for all kinds of interesting, strange and creative projects. Looking is free. Also free to sign-up for extended features, like printing, and to post your own instructions.
RANDOM READING in the February issue of "Gourmet" magazine while sitting under the dryer at the hair salon today, I came across the following quote from conceptual artist Mary Ellen Carroll,* "The interesting thing about being an artist, though, is that you can only learn if you are willing to fail." Architect Charles Ranfro, who is working with Carroll on a project in Houston, said, "Mary Ellen's investigations are fueled by a kind of childish curiosity, but combined with a very sophisticated adult's resourcefulness. That makes her slightly dangerous."
*Tried to look at MEC's own website, but it was a blank white page. Is this the conceptual artists way of making a statement? Instead, I've given a link to a google search on her name.
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Every year this is the first sign that winter has loosened its grip and warmer weather is on its way. First after the snowdrops under our dogwood tree.
It even felt like spring today. Sunny morning, birds singing, warmer than it has been.
I stopped the car and got out to take pictures.
The air in the small park was fragrant with the subtle smell of witch hazel flowers.
Inspired, I came home and pulled on my gardening clothes for the first time since late fall.
I cleared away leaves in Gaia Luna and planted peas and garlic. Again, this was a first. Every year I intend to plant peas, intend to plant garlic, but something else always seems more important.
Now there are sugar snap peas and two kinds of hard neck garlic waiting under the ground, preparing to grow.
Around here they say, "Plant your peas on Saint Patrick's Day." Or is it, "Plant your peas by Saint Patrick's Day."? I'm not sure. If it's too early for peas and they never come up, I'll just plant more. I'll probably plant more even if they do come up.
I love fresh peas. All kinds.
The garlic should have been planted last fall, but this is early enough that I think it will be OK to harvest by late August or early September, as is the custom in this area.
Clouds rolled in and rain began to fall as I worked. The cat huddled close in an attempt to stay dry while I continued in the downpour. My wool coat, smelling of wet sheep, kept me warm just the same.
Today, intention became inspiration became action.
Spring is on its way.(c)2008 ~ Effusive Muse Publishing
Saturday, March 01, 2008
I had originally thought the basement stairs coming down from outside would be a good place to make a root cellar, but that turned out to be unworkable. As soon as outdoor temperatures dropped below freezing, so did the temps in the stairwell, making it unusable for fresh food storage without some major modifications.
The rest of our unheated basement turned out to be ideal. The old section, where the furnace is, stays about 45-55 F in the winter. The newer section is cooler; it never rises above the low 40s. I took temperature and humidity readings to verify all this. The books recommended slightly lower temperatures for some things, to prolong storage, but I've had no problems.
Since October, here are a few of the fruits and veggies I've stored successfully without refrigeration.
In th new section of basement 40F storage:
- 20 lbs of winesap apples: wrapped individually in waxed paper to prevent moisture loss. I layered these in a ventilated box that had once been used to ship citrus fruit, a sheet of cardboard between each layer with space around the edges to allow air circulation inside the box. A pan of water was kept nearby to boost humidity. We picked the apples in early October from a pick-your-own orchard. After 5 months of fresh eating and cooking, 8 apples remain, all in very good shape.
- 40 lbs of grapefruit and 20 lbs of naval oranges, kept in the ventilated cardboard boxes they came in. These were from a school fundraiser. We picked up our fruit from the school at the beginning of December, and just finished the last grapefruit about 2 weeks ago. That's about 2 1/2 months of storage with none lost to spoilage or drying out. There are about 10 oranges remaining, all in good condition except one that had begun to shrivel. The citrus was stored on the same table as the apples.
When all the citrus fruit and apples have been eaten, the boxes will be saved for storing next year's winter fruits and veggies.
In the old section of basement 45-55F storage
(temps depend on distance from the furnace):
- 4 large butternut squash: One of the books I read suggested that the winter squash stored in the basement near the furnace lasted longer because of slightly warmer and dryer conditions. I bought these butternut squash from a farmer's field in early October at a good per pound price. We have eaten two so far, prepared in a variety of dishes: steamed, roasted, cooked with black beans and onion, and made into soup. The flavor seems to be sweetening with storage. The remaining two are just as sound as when they were brought home, 5 months ago. This coming summer I plan to grow my own winter squash, knowing that I can keep them and use them until the following spring.
- 10 lbs russet potatoes: purchased on sale from the grocery store in November. These have been stored near the furnace, on the inside basement stairs descending from the kitchen. They've held up reasonably well. Some are starting to grow shoots and roots and others are not as firm as they were 3 months ago, but they're still usable. I've only lost one due to spoilage with only a handful remaining. The warm dry conditions near the top of the inner stairs by the furnace are not ideal for potatoes. The books recommended similar storage conditions to apples, but said not to store them near each other because flavors may muddle. I've moved those remaining to the table in the other part of the basement, with the apple and orange boxes but not too close, to see if I can keep them all happy until they're used up.
- 5 lbs brown onions: purchased on sale from the grocery store in November. Again, kept on the inner basement stairs near where the potatoes were stored. About a third of the original number remain, all in good condition, though one or two have sent up tentative, pale green shoots. Keeping as well if not better than in the refrigerator.
- 6 bunches of garlic: same as onions. Doing fine.
I count this experiment as a success--storing our winter fruits and veggies without refrigeration and without spoilage.
I'm emboldened to grow more this summer and store more for next year.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
MIDI setup is working with my iMac through MOTU Digital Performer
MOTU 828 digital audio interface drivers are installed and signal is visible in Garage Band, though not audible even though all the settings are correct. Not sure why.
Next step will be a focused effort on getting digital audio I/O between 828 and Digital Performer.
MOTU has great phone tech support!
They have completely avoided using the phone purgatory systems most companies employ. No dealing with automated menus saying, "For blah-blah-blah press 1, for yada-yada press 2, for bippity-boppity press 8." You just dial a phone number given in the front of the users' manual and an actual, knowledgeable person, who speaks English even, picks up the line to answer your questions.
That's the way customer service should always be.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Today my computers refused to play nice and make things easy.
Today they kept secrets and snickered behind their shiny screens.
Today I tried a lot of things that didn't work.
Today ended with more questions than answers.
Today I learned a few of the right questions to ask.
That was my one success.
Tomorrow I will ask again and learn a little more.
In plain English: Today I attempted for the first time, unsuccessfully, to get my Mac Mini to send and receive digital audio with the MOTU 828 interface. I spent about 5 hours in failed attempts, while digging through my studio for a missing software disc.
Tomorrow I start again.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Today was a day spent working on the administrative side of my creative projects. As a result, I was able to check a couple of longstanding items off my TO-DO list.
I finished printing out lyric/chord sheets for all my songs and put them into a binder organized with tabs by CD project (several underway currently). It felt good to see them all in one place for the first time. I think this will help to focus effort for the next stage--recording.
The tabs are made out of manilla file folders cut along one of the ridges that allows the folder to expand, then three-hole-punched. I do this for flexibility and to save money on office supplies.
The chord sheet shown is for my song "Livin' in the Present", a birthday celebration song for people who've already put more than a few decades worth of birthdays behind them. The chorus starts: "You're livin' in the present and it's a gift, a gift to be opened." Doing my best to practice what I preach. :-)
I also did some editing on my website, finally fixing one tiny little embarassing spelling error that had been there since the site was designed. Much more to do there, but it's not all going to happen in one day.
Our internet connection has gone through a major improvement today with the arrival and installation of a new, more powerful modem. [Thank you, B!] With any luck, web work won't be as much of a hit-or-miss activity as it has been. Nothing like having the wireless internet connection drop right in the middle of a complicated editing or uploading session. I'm hopeful that this is a thing of the past.
Now, I'm off to get my hands dirty working on pottery. Need to shift my focus away from technology for the rest of the evening. And there's nothing more low-tech than a fist full of mud!
Saturday, February 16, 2008
I've spent all day cleaning my studio.
Well, not actually cleaning. That would involve a broom and dustpan, a bucket of warm water and damp rag. Haven't quite gotten to that point yet.
Mostly I've just been putting music books and sheet music back where they go on shelves, making piles into files. At the same time, the copier has been working hard cranking out the "Daily Practice Record" sheets that go in my students binders. The printer has been cranking out another run of my color business cards. Needed to restock on both of these essential items.
In the background, I've been listening to a couple of favorite folk CDs:
Tim Harrison's "Wheatfield With Crows"
Full Frontal Folk's "Storming the Castle"
The Full Frontal Folk CD has a track, "Another Train", done with such beautiful 4-part harmony that I found myself hitting the repeat button on my CD player another 6-7 times, singing along at the top of my voice.
I did a search on the title and writer's name, and located the original "Another Train" by Peter Morton, complete with lyrics and MP3.
This is one of those majorly uplifting songs. Definitely going to go on my own song wishlist of songs I want to learn--words, chords, all of it.
Between picking up in the studio and listening to music, I've done some other web surfing.
In the most recent eNewsletter from some talented musical friends, Mad Agnes, Margo gave a link to the blog of a friend of hers, Lisa Nash, who's been traveling in India and reflecting on living a deeper, more spiritual and intentional life.
Listening to these tunes and reading these thoughtful words has brought a sense of sacredness and centered calm to a very ordinary day.
Just thought I'd share these here and maybe pass on a little of that peacefulness.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Last fall I saved seeds from my marigolds, cosmos, nasturtiums, string beans, and a couple of herb plants.
In the photo they are drying in the sunroom after being separated from the flowery parts. Not so difficult to do. Here are enough seeds to grow several gardens full of flowers, the equivalent of a whole rack of seed packets from the nursery from just a few plants.
These are old fashioned varieties that will stay true to type, meaning that plants grown from these seeds will be the same as the parent plants, at least in theory. I got two books on seed saving for Christmas that confirm this.
Right now, the seeds are stored in loosely covered glass canning jars on a the cool shelf of the attic, waiting.
Soon, soon ...
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Just living and doing, and living and not doing.
I've rediscovered the joys of just sitting and thinking, or sitting and not thinking about anything in particular, staring at passing clouds and light on tree branches like I did when I was a kid. I highly recommend it. Thoughts wander in wonderful directions when allowed the space to do so.
Last night I ordered FREE 2008 seed catalogs from the following sources.
Johnny's Select Seeds
Seeds of Change
Kitchen Garden Seeds
White Flower Farm
I'd fallen off their mailing lists because it has been so long since I ordered anything. Had them sent to my PO box so they wouldn't get mixed in with all the other junk mail and accidentally sent to the recycling bin.
Some companies sell organic seeds, others do not.
In anycase, I'm beginning to feel anticipation, looking forward to March planting of early vegetables this year.
Creative intentions are being readied for planting, too.
As always at this stage, they are numerous and unsprouted, like seeds held in the hand before the soil has begun to warm. Those that eventually reach the stage where they can put on leaves and set fruit will be something I'm willing to write about. For now I keep them cradled within my cupped palm and curled fingers.