Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dinner Party

Seven friends, beautiful equinox weather, candle lit conversation that went on well after dark....and of course, lots of food and weirdly named wine. A magical experience here on the 30th parallel. We have so little fall weather that we appreciate it very much. The high yesterday was about 90 degrees but by 5:30 or so, it was about 80 to 85 in my backyard.

We started with the Bitch wine with appetizers. I don't necessarily buy wine based on its name or label. I did, however, buy my first bottle of Bitch wine as a gag gift. It turns out that this grenache is a great wine for about $10 to $11. It got its name because wine makers sometimes say that the grape is a bitch to grow and the wine is a bitch to make. This is a light tasting red wine that goes with so many different foods that it could have been called Slut. It is pretty good by itself, too.

Dinner began with a fresh green salad. The entrée was eggplant stacks consisting of slices of eggplant which I lightly sautéed before layering them with homemade ricotta mixed with Parmesan and fresh basil and oregano. I put these in a baking dish and baked them at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes before pouring a marinara sauce over them and topping each one with a slice of homemade mozzarella. Then I returned them to the oven for a few minutes to let the sauce get warm and the mozarella melt. A side of linguine in a butter/olive oil sauce with garlic, a few pine nuts and some colorful bell peppers completed the main course.

The wine was Vampire Pinot Noir. Stephen's sister owns a kitchen store in Brevard, NC. She and her husband also sell wine. We had this wine a couple of years ago when we were there in October. It comes from Transylvania and Brevard is in Transylvania County. They always get some and have a tasting near Halloween. It is a lovely wine. They would not sell if it weren't good. It goes wonderfully with tomato-based sauces. It holds its own and doesn't clash with the acidity.

Dessert was an apple streusel made with Medina apples and generously laced with calvados topped with Amy's sweet cream ice cream.

Another feature of this dinner was that most of the ingredients were local. I used a jarred sauce and, of course, the pasta and wine were not local. Almost everything else came from the farmer's market or was made here in town. The milk for the cheeses most likely came from near Waco. The farthest it would have come from would have been Hopkins County which is about six hours away. The apples are from about three hours away and Amy's is a local ice cream shop that is so good that we have decided not to buy our own ice cream maker.

The guests included a couple I met through blogging, another couple who are musicians, artists and authors, and one of my best hippy girlfriends. An eclectic and wonderful mix.

Thanks to Konagod for the photos. Here is the one from Cooking Light magazine that was the inspiration for this alfresco dinner.

Soundtrack for this post: Laura Nyro's Stoned Sould Picnic

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Alaska Rally

There was a rally in Alaska the other day. It seems that there are some folks up there who want the rest of us to know that they aren't proud of their governor. I have purposefully avoided political posts but when I received these photos in an email, I decided they were too good to keep to myself.

The Seance

On a family camping trip to the beautiful eastern Oklahoma hills when I was a teenager, my brother and I met some other kids who were at the campground for a family reunion. The older kids had been charged with looking out for the younger ones and I guess they were getting pretty tired of it.

There was a covered ‘pavilion’ in the campground. It was really just a large rectangular affair with poles on the sides holding a roof over a concrete slab. It did have electricity and a lone light bulb hung down in the center of it. One of the boys was tall enough to easily reach this fixture.

We arranged benches in a circle in the center of the shelter and filled them up with kids of all ages. It was dark by then and we decided to have a séance. The oldest boy stood in the middle of the circle and announced that since we had to try to contact a spirit that we would all be familiar with, we would all concentrate on John F. Kennedy. (This was in 1967 or ’68 so even the younger kids knew who he was.)

Tall Boy instructed everyone to be very quiet and think about JFK. He kept telling us that if we all thought hard enough, the spirit would make contact with us. Everyone got really quiet. You could hear crickets chirping and night birds calling but under the roof of the pavilion, not a sound was being made. Tall boy reached up to unscrew the light bulb which he had loosened earlier. Just as he touched it, it shorted out, creating a bright flash before going completely dark.

Kids screamed bloody murder and knocked over the benches in the their haste to escape. We older kids laughed so hard that it took us a few minutes to start looking for the little ones. I think little kids were being coaxed out from under cots and tables for the rest of the night. I’m pretty sure that all of them were found eventually.

Soundtrack for this post: Awake Ghost Song by the Doors

Monday, September 15, 2008

They Are Everywhere.....Except Home

I had some errands to do today which took me into a couple of retail outlets. The stores were busier than usual on a Monday morning during the school term. It was easy to spot the Ike evacuees. They were the ones with buggies full of plastic storage containers, food, clothing and other necessary items. They did not have trinkets, AV equipment or anything that could be considered the least bit unnecessary or un-needed. Most of them couldn't quite return a smile, either. A lot of them were talking on their cell phones and saying things like, " We can't go home yet because our street is still flooded," or " There was water in my house but I don't know how much or if it's still in there."

I can only imagine what it must be like for these people. Stephen and I were kind of homeless in 2002. We had left Asheville and come back to Austin with nowhere to lined up to live and no permanent work for either of us. We lived in a tent at the Kerrville Folk Festival for almost a month. We were pretty sure that someone would turn us on to some cool digs for little money while we were there and, sure enough, that's what happened. The only catch was that we could not move into the new place until the first part of July and the festival was over at the end of the first week of June. We managed to find a couple of house sitting gigs to get us by until then. In the meantime, some stuff was going on at the Festival that we would really have liked not to have had to witness and it was a hot dry festival that year and our tent was in the sun. I really wanted to leave but we had no place to go. I became physically ill.

When I hear people talking about not being able to go back home and know that they may not even have a home to go back to, my heart goes out to them. I heard on the radio that the Food Bank was asking for grooming supplies such as razors, shampoo, etc., so I went to my local dollar store and loaded up on some of these things along with some crayons and coloring books and dropped them off. It was a madhouse over there to say the least. If you don't live where there are a lot of evacuees and still want to help, here is a link where you will find a lot of ways to do so.

Soundtrack for this post: A Littlel Help From My Friends

An Interview

I have been interviewed about my work and the resulting Qs & As can be read at Current Living as well as at my newest blog. I'll be posting comments about my work as well as updates on classes that I am taking or teaching as well as press releases and news about any articles that I have published.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wisdom Flash

I found this site by following a link on Current Living.

It is one of the most uplifting sites I have found in quite a while.

Check it out.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Blowin' Like a Bandit

We have battened down the hatches.....stocked up on drinking water, loaded up with food items that don't have to be cooked (I have never had so much junk food in my house), and cleaned out the garage so that the cars could be parked in it rather than under the trees. I also filled as many empty pop bottles as I could find along with all my plastic food storage containers with water and put them in the freezer to keep it as cold as possible for as long as possible should we lose electricity. If the power goes out, we won't have any water because we have a well and the pump is electric. One of the last things we will do before we go to bed tonight is fill up some buckets with water so we can use it to flush if we have to. Then we will put the outdoor chairs in the garage and pull the potted plants up next to the house. We both have full gas tanks.

Come on Ike. Bring us some rain but pass over gently, will ya?

Update Saturday morning: It looks like Ike has hit Galveston and Houston pretty hard then taken a hard right turn toward the Texas Louisianna line. Here in Austin we have cloudy skies and a little bit of a breeze along with some pretty high humidity. That is it. No rain!!!! We were really hoping for some since we are in a sever drought. This is the second hurricane this year that has sent the rain in some other direction. I hope all of my friends in Houston are OK. I doubt that they have electricity. I feel sorry for the rescue teams who will have to go into Galveston and look for people who refused to leave and for all the people who have lost property and have been displaced.

Soundtrack for this post: Guy Clark's Blowin' Like a Bandit, Asleep at the Wheel version.

More of My Enchanted Backyard

I have walked from the far end of the backyard to the house many times in the past year and a half. Why have I never noticed before that Daphne's heart is visible on one of her branches?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Delbert Said It Best

Lipstick, powder, and paint
Lipstick, powder, and paint
Lipstick, powder, and paint
Is you is or is you ain't

There goes my baby up a tree
Gigglin' and wigglin' her toes at me
Let me put my glasses on
Ain't had such lovin' since she's been gone

Lipstick, powder, and paint
Lipstick, powder, and paint
Lipstick, powder, and paint
Is you is or is you ain't

Hound dog scratchin' fleas
Lookin' like she's in love with me
Lick my hand everywhere I go
I wish my baby loved me so

Lipstick, powder, and paint
Lipstick, powder, and paint
Lipstick, powder, and paint
Is you is or is you ain't
Corn in the barnyard ten feet high
Hide with me until your man pass by
Don't you sneeze and don't you call
If you get dusty I'll brush you off

Lipstick, powder, and paint
Lipstick, powder, and paint
Lipstick, powder, and paint
Is you is or is you ain't

What kind of love is that you make
The world start tremblin' and the buildings shake
Love me love me once again
Let the roof and walls come tumblin' in

Lipstick, powder, and paint
Lipstick, powder, and paint
Lipstick, powder, and paint
Is you is or is you ain't

Lipstick, powder, and paint

Delbert McClinton

Short clip here. Best to listen when you have two bottles of whine, I mean wine.
Written by Charlie Calhoun in the 50's.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Lesson in Appreciation

If you have been reading this blog very long, you know that I am a student of the Law...Law Of Attraction, that is. This law simply states that you get whatever you think about. There are many teachers out there who are willing to help you understand what this really means in everyday life. It is helpful to have a teacher or two because, as simple as this sounds, it is many times difficult to grasp. My favorite teacher is Abraham-Hicks. Abraham pretty much takes up where Seth left off. Although the information that Seth gave was enlightening, he gave us little to no information as to how to make use of it. Abraham, on the other hand, gives the nuts and bolts of how to make the Law work for you. For instance, we create our own reality. Our choice is to do it consciously by making conscious choices, or to do it by default by just letting life have its way with us not realizing that we have any control at all.

At the moment, I am participating in an experiment to find evidence in my life that this does indeed work. I readily admit that I have not kept up with the day to day part of the experiment. When it first started, I received $115 from a completely unexpected source but then I kind of dropped the ball when some things didn't work out just the way I wanted to them to.

One of the biggies in working with the Law is to appreciate what you have. The theory is that when we appreciate things, we attract more things to appreciate. The other day I picked up the current issue of Cooking Light magazine. In it, I found a photo of a beautifully set dining table outdoors in a walnut grove. The table was a large rustic wooden one with heavy turned legs and a coat of green paint that was coming off in places. It was set with nice china and gorgeous food.

"I want to do this in our backyard," I told Stephen.

"Looks like a lot of fun and I bet someone we know has one of those big folding tables that we can borrow," he answered.

"That is not what I want. A plastic table will just look cheap and not make this kind of statement. That would not be near as much fun, " I say. I decide to keep an eye on craigslist to see what I can come up with. I really want a table something like that.

Today, I was busy making cheese and I was thinking about how I would get the table I wanted and how to haul it if I did find one. All at once I realized that I already have such a table. A few months ago, I traded for a table on craigslist. I wanted to use it as a breakfast table. It is a heavy wooden table that is square until you add the extra leaves. It has thick, turned legs which turned out to be too short for everyday use as a breakfast table so we took the legs off and stored it away in the hall closet. However, when I put it in the back yard, I will want to put some blocks under them anyway. When this thought crossed my mind, I laughed out loud. If there has ever been a more classic case of looking for something that you already have, I'd be surprised.

Now all I have to do is plan the menu, pick the date and decide who to invite. Oh, and I guess I'll start thinking about chairs.