Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Random Ten

The agenda for the day is pretty simple. Roll and dip white chocolate and white/raspberry truffles for my niece's birthday party tomorrow, use the egg whites left over from making the ganache to make an angel food cake, and settle in to accomplishing jack shit for the rest of the day.

Here's the jackshit soundtrack:

Slow Dancing in a Burning Room - - - John Mayer
Canticus Canticorum - - - Giovanni Luigi de Palestrina
Call It A Loan - - - Linda Ronstadt (live bootleg, me on harp)
John Henry - - - Blind Arvella Gray
Missa Sine Nomine - - - John Plummer
Stop Breakin' Down - - - Robert Johnson
Two More Bottles of Wine - - - Emmylou Harris
The Wreck of the Barbi Ferrari - - - John Hyatt
Get Behind The Mule - - - Tom Waits
Mathilde - - - Jaques Brelle


The Night Pat Murphy Died - - - Deep Blue Sea

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Afternoon Moment

Yesterday my sister who works as a nurse in the Tehatchipi prison was down for an interview at one of the prisons down here. It's a sad commentary that one of the main growth industries in this proud farming region is now locking up our fellow man. I have no illusions that these places hold many folks that I would absolutely want to be under lock, key, and closed armed supervision, still, I am alarmed at the rates of our incarceration.

That's neither here, nor there with this post though. She brought my beautiful new niece down with her and while she was doing her interview and house hunting I was spending a wonderful day playing the Sponge Bob board game, and exploring out by the irrigation overflow lagoon. We found a clutch of duck eggs, left them undisturbed, we found a beautiful Great Blue Heron feather which I am going to wrap and bead for her (since she's an indin now and stuff).

In the afternoon it was time for my intermediate strings class out at the local J.C. I brought her along with me, bringing her brand new 1/2 size violin. She was a big hit with the college kids. She did feel a bit of culture shock though. I have 12 students in this class and 10 of them are far more comfortable in Spanish than in English. Since I figure teaching is about being able to communicate a great deal of our class is done in Spanish. It's no big deal. Just doing the job in the easiest and most efficient manner. Thing was my darling girl was beginning to feel a little left out.

I noticed this and we talked about her coming move down to this area and I suggested to her that she start thinking about learning Spanish. I told her that she is going to be making new friends at her school and that many of these new friends will have parents that are more comfortable speaking Spanish than they are in English. I suggested to her that learning how to at least be polite and find the bathroom would be a handy tool to have. She agreed. We went over the basic greetings, please, thank you, and all the rest. Then we went over the parts of the violin. She was really getting into it. So were my students. One of them remarked that there are more than a few teachers at the college that act like it's great big fucking deal when they are called upon to use Spanish. I gave them my standard reply on why I regard being conversant as more than just a mere social skill.

Porque yo contar mejor de Custer. (because I can count better than Custer)

We had a little laugh and my neice chimed in with

"Have you ever heard him talk Apache?"

My students said that no, they had not, and the neice said:

"It sounds really strange. You know how if you're in the pool with your head under water and start talking it sounds like burps and bubbles? That's what Apache sounds like. I'm trying to learn but it's really hard. It's not easy and pretty like Spanish is."

She spent the rest of the day basking in approval and beauty. As we left she said:

Hasta la vista mis amigos nuevos."

She's going to fit in just fine.

los pelotas brassos grandes

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Yeats Poem, Dedicated to the REMF God Petraeus


HOW can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics?
Yet here's a travelled man that knows
What he talks about,
And there's a politician
That has read and thought,
And maybe what they say is true
Of war and war's alarms,
But O that I were young again
And held her in my arms!


National Poetry Month

A tip o'the hat to maurinsky at "Laughing Wild" for her response to a hat tip from Brave Sir Robin.

For national poetry month, nothing but poetry will do. One of my favorites by William Butler Yeats.

The Harp of Aengus

Edain came out of Midhir's hill, and lay
Beside young Aengus in his tower of glass,
Where time is drowned in odour-laden winds
And Druid moons, and murmuring of boughs,
And sleepy boughs, and boughs where apples made
Of opal and ruhy and pale chrysolite
Awake unsleeping fires; and wove seven strings,
Sweet with all music, out of his long hair,
Because her hands had been made wild by love.
When Midhir's wife had changed her to a fly,
He made a harp with Druid apple-wood
That she among her winds might know he wept;
And from that hour he has watched over none
But faithful lovers.

There. Beautiful poetry. It doesn't matter how it is crafted or spun. It matters how it feels. I will now go to caress my Druid-cherry wood harp I made myself. I will feel and hear the music. I will sing an old song about faithful lovers.


Monday, April 07, 2008

Home Made Potato Chips

Are really too bleeding simple not to do. They are also far, far better. They taste like potatoes, they taste like food. Plus, they look like this:

Scrub your russet potatoes very well, pat them dry. Use a mandoline, or a box grater's slice tooth. A food processor will chop them up too much, a knife, even in the hands of a master will take too long. I don't peel mine, the added flavor and added texture from leaving the peels on is something I enjoy, but if you want to peel, be my guest. As soon as you get your slices made place them in an ice water bath for at least two hours. If you don't put the bath in the refrigerator, keep checking the ice and keep that baby cold. This is what will give you the total crisp texture. Drain the potato slices well, dry them thoroughly when you're ready to cook.

Heat an ample amount of oil. I use peanut oil in a cast iron saucepan, but any good light vegetable oil will do. Temperature is important, we are wanting 290°, not too hot, but certainly not a slow cook. Slow cooking will give you greezy chips. We don't want greezy.

Put the chips into the hot oil, taking care not to spalsh yourself. I have a chinese bamboo handle basket that works great for dipping them out of the hot oil when they are floating on the top and the bubbles have almost quit. You want a light, golden brown color, the chips will continue to cook after you remove them from the oil. Dust them lightly with salt, use sea or kosher salt here, after all, you've gone to the trouble of cooking your own chips, use the top line salts.

You won't need to gussy up with flavors and crap like this. The potato flavor, the brilliant texture will jump in your mouth without a lot of distraction.

Give this a try, it's easier than you think, and way better than you can imagine.


My Favorite Charlton Heston Movie

Isn't one of the big ass epics. They are pretty good but they merely demanded Heston to stand there and look good while the events and crowds swirled around him. Although it must have required some decent acting chops to look like you're buying into the cheesey special effects of "The Ten Commandments."

My favorite Heston flick is one that has been mostly unnoticed and unmentioned in the stuff flying around his death.

Will Penny (1968) is almost an "anti" western. It's about an aging cowboy who is reduced to riding the "grub line" for the winter. He takes a job riding fence up in the mountains. When he arrives at the line shack he finds that it has been occupied by a lone woman and her son who have been deserted by their guide. Unwilling to turn them out in the mountain winter and its certain death he agrees to allow them to stay until the spring thaw. Complications ensue.

From the movie:
Save your money! Get you a spread of your own like me.

It wasn't money started you in the cattle business, Anse.

Well, what do you think it was, Will?

More like a long rope and a hot iron.

This well written, well produced little western is a gem. It also gives one of the more clear eyed views of what life in that era was all about. I recommend its addition to your NetFlix queue.

Forget the man's politics. Forget the man, let's celebrate a long, and respectable career in the arts. Heston was always much more of an artisan than an artist. It's an attitude and career someone like me can relate with.

What's your favorite Heston movie?