Thursday, August 26, 2010

no big announcements forthcoming

I'm looking for a wedding location for one of my favorite people on the planet, fTM Matt. He's wants to get married the Saturday after Thanksgiving (yes, that is 3 months and 1 day away), but he's in California and his lovely intended, Sara, is finishing a practicum in Africa so i am doing the legwork and writing reports for them. Sorry that i didn't explain that in the previous post, but i sometimes forget that y'all are not inside of my head. You can now resume your regular programming.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

a creepy thing about being in a play

Coming off of stage i am greeted by this sitting next to the director: Evil disembodied mannequin - yikes! Someone should warn a girl.

you might wanna get on that

Cruising Hagerstown looking for wedding locations and i came upon a dilapidated row of buildings that will become a vibrant, awesome center for arts and commerce in 2008. hmmmmmmmmmmm...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Gyro Grilled Cheese

I just came from lunch at Grilled Cheese & Co.

Their special right now is the Santorini: gyro meat, feta cheese, chopped red onion and tzitziki sauce grilled on chibata.
People, if you like gyros, if you like grilled cheese you must, must, must go right now to try this wonderful marriage of the two.
It is on special so there are no guarantees of how long it will be around.
The special is always about a dollar more expensive, but i still got a combo with sweet potato fries and a drink for under $11.
 Never would it have even occurred to me to turn my beloved gyro into a grilled sandwich.
It is like heaven on bread.
I would kick a puppy to eat this again.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

it's urgent...urgent...urgent

Last weekend i went to see Foreigner at the Bayside Toyota Concert Pavilion in southern Maryland. We had good 9th row center seats. It was the first time i've been to the St Leonard's venue (which is owned and is a revenue stream for the volunteer fire department) and i really liked it. There was a sort of fair-like atmosphere, with a row of concessions up one side of the field. Plus it felt like the entire town of St. Leonard was participating in the event in one way or another - bbq trucks were set up on the side of the road, everyplace was offering parking (don't go to the $20 place, there is a $5 field around the circle to the left), the sheriff was out campaigning and shaking hands, the fire department was on security and the high school choir was selling CDs. I mean, what was the last concert you were at where you could buy snickerdoodles for charity? Plus there were 2 different radio stations there, throwing out t-shirts and giving away prizes. It was a hoot. My friend Ron's band One Louder was the opening band, and though it was weird to see them performing in the light of day it was cool that they were opening for frickin' Foreigner! Look, there's our boy: you look rock and roll, baby! I was so proud of him and the whole band; they previewed 4 songs from their first CD, out hopefully in the fall and did a good job of getting the crowd primed. After the sun was down, Foreigner came on. They were awesome. Foreigner is one of those bands that you don't really realize how many hits they had until they start playing and you know the words to every single song. Lou Gramm hasn't been with the band for a long time, but founder Mick Jones was in the house. I appreciate that he doesn't dye his hair or try to look any younger than he really is, but let me tell you, despite the years -or perhaps because of them- that guy plays a mean guitar. He was excellent and as vibrant as any of his younger bandmates. The lead singer - Kelly Hansen - has a vocal quality that is similar enough to Gramm that the songs sound familiar, but he is talented enough to give them his own interpretation (and completely besides the point, he looks like Alice Cooper). The band played 2 songs from their current CD -the first new Foreigner release in 15 years- including a power ballad that i am hoping will bring back the luscious (and mostly random) pop-rock saxophone: i'm such a child of the 80s Most of the set, however, was comprised of past hits too numerous for me to even remember; off of the top of my head they played: Urgent, Double Vision, Cold as Ice, Jukebox Hero, Dirty White Boy, Feels Like the First Time, Hot Blooded, Head Games, That Was Yesterday, Say You Will and Waiting For a Girl Like You. The only song i didn't recognize/know by heart/hear on the radio was a song -Starrider- from their very first album, which was one of the first songs Mick ever wrote for band. Foreigner supports VH1's Save the Music campaign and donated $1000 to the local high school's music department; plus, they brought the concert choir up on stage to be the chorus for I Want to Know What Love Is: Though my BFF has had an unreasonable hatred of this song since it was #1 on the pop charts 25 years ago, I love it and it was really moving to see the local kids singing it on stage. Good venue, good bands, good times. Congrats to Ron!

Why is my orange pink?

I'm editing some pictures and thought i'd have a little snack so i peeled the orange i didn't eat at lunch. Hmmmm... that color seems a bit strange. A bit pinkish. Not red like a blood orange, not pink like a ruby grapefruit. Just oddly salmoney I tried to take a picture: It looks orange in the photo. Maybe i'm imagining it. I bit into the fruit and it tastes nothing like an orange. It tastes like... like... like, nothing. It has no taste at all. Not good, not bad, not sweet, not sour, not anything. What is going on here? You see the reddish, pinkish cast, right? I swear it is a weird color. And a weird taste. I don't know what is going on with this alleged citrus, but i am not eating it. anybody have any idea what this might be?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

city mouse goes visiting

Welcome to Marengo, Ohio.
Approximately 15 minutes from the middle of nowhere, this is where my BFF has set up her family homestead: Cackleberry Hollow.
Down a county route, off of another county route and up a long drive is the lovely, little white farmhouse with a wrought iron trellis by the front door.
Of course, no one ever uses the front door.
Like all good country houses, everyone comes and goes through the back door, past the gate in the picket fence.
Rea and her husband had both described the house as small so i was expecting a tiny, little cottage or something. Maybe it is small for a farm house, but this place is no shack: laundry room, bathroom, powder room, eat-in kitchen, dining room (converted to an office/computer room), living room, foyer, 2 bedrooms, homeschool/craft room and both front and back stairs.
Everything is hardwood and there are some lovely details, like the turned supports and the carving on the banister.
Though the most awesome design element of the house, in my opinion, is the central wood burning stove, backed with a fieldstone pillar chimney.
I felt like i was on a movie set.
The house and family are guarded by a pair of Eskies:
Danny, who just joined the family and though almost full grown is still very puppyish, and Krystl who is the eldest canine member of the family and has been around long enough to know that on a hot day the best thing to do is lay on top of the floor register (look at her fur flying; it was hilarious in person). Krystl is pretty much a house dog while Danny likes to be outside during the day and inside at night. They both, however, want to be the center of human attention and are convinced that they are lap dogs despite the obvious evidence to the contrary.
There is also good natured Great Pyranees guard dog named Iona who lives in the biggest barn. I'm not sure "good natured" and "guard dog" should go together, but she really was both. I wish i had a good picture of Iona to share -she's beautiful in a rough-and-tumble sort of way and so big that on her hind legs she's taller than me- but whenever i went close enough to take a picture, Danny would show up and start wrestling with her.
I don't think that he realizes that she could just crush his skull in her jaws if she wanted to; luckily, she seems to enjoy playing with the little punk.
After touring the house and getting the approval of the dogs (Krystl was the only one who knows me) Rea took me on a tour of the farm.
Picturesque, no?
Weeds had overtaken much of the garden, but there was still a lot of viable veggies. So many, in fact, that there is a marmet/groundhog/woodchuck/gopher who has turned it into his/her very own salad bar. Rea was excited that there was a rutabaga ready to come out of the ground that hadn't been munched so that she could show it to me.
regardless, i still maintain that there is no such thing as rutabaga
I have no question about the existence of sunflowers, though and you can just see the corn past me. I wanted to pick and eat it immediately, having never done that before, but alas, Rea informed me that it needed at least another week before harvesting.
After the garden it was animal time.
This is the big yard next to the coop where the laying hens and the ducks live. They definitely recognize that human voices equal food and so they come when called.
Hilarious to us city folk.
You can see that there are all types of chickens; i won't embarrass myself by trying to name them, though i do know that the tawny chicken all the way at the back of the picture is a Buff Orpington. I also know that this is the rooster.
He wanted to make sure that i was aware of just how special he was and that he meant business;
check out the strut:
Who's the man? I'm the man. That's right.
The meat chickens live in two chicken tractors that are moved all around the farm so that they have a constantly fresh supply of worms and bugs and such, while fertilizing the ground for next year's crops, though they do get supplemental grain feed every night as well.
You might notice a few non-meat birds in the tractors as well. Apparently there are some birds that like to hang out here instead of being in the coop, as well as a few layers that are still too young to be put in the yard with the full grown birds.
Plus you might have spotted the wee, little turkey who always looked nervous to me. I don't know if it is because i've never seen a juvenile turkey before and they all look that apprehensive or if it is because he knows the family refers to him as Thanksgiving. Inside the barn there was a box with baby guineas -who when full grown will free range, gobbling up all those bothersome ticks- and Rea's beloved silkies I'm not sure what their purpose is, besides being pretty, but i know they must have one because nobody gets a free ride on the farm.
There are rabbits of both the meat and pet variety
as well as bees who pollinate and make honey and wax.
Even my nephew can be found working, though i think that at nine, he thinks driving the mower is still pretty fun and not just work.
The farm is now also the location of the family business
since there was an outbuilding large enough for Scott to set up his woodworking shop.
This summer Rea set a canning goal for herself and i think she is doing very well on it. In fact, one day when there was nothing ready to be picked she looked at the weeds that had taken over one part of the yard and decided to find out if any of it was edible. With a little help from the internet (living in the sticks doesn't mean living in the past, people) she found a recipe and made Queen Anne's Lace jelly.
  It was... interesting.
Firstly, i don't understand why it was pale pink when the flowers are white. There was an undertone of... i can't explain it... maybe grassy would be the right word. You could tell it wasn't made from a fruit, but it was still tasty. I liked it. [BTW, Rea has put these pretty blue flowers - i think they are bachelor buttons- on notice that they are next for jellification ]
Yes, everyone and everything on the farm has to earn their keep; there will be no lollygagging about...
ummmm... why is that duck just walking around?
Why isn't it in the penned yard? Why is it just waddling about?
Hello? Okay, maybe it isn't all work, work, work every second on the farm. As evening comes on slowly and the temperature falls there is a peace, a quietness that seemed to descend. There is time for a little rest in the hammock
or perhaps to sit together on the wee bench under the pear tree.
I've never even seen a pear tree before -
look at how adorable they are!
As the hubbub of farm life was winding down and Rea started dinner there was still one last chore left to do, the one i had been waiting all day to do : collecting eggs!
Oh yes, this city mouse was going to go collecting eggs all by herself and i hoped beyond hope that there was an actual wicker egg basket for the collecting. When i asked, Rea laughed and said that they often just put the eggs in a plastic bucket, but when she saw my quivering lip and my dreams being dashed on the kitchen floor she added that there was a basket they sometimes used.
Most of the chickens were in the coop for the night,
roosting on various perches
but there was one in the brooding box.
Apparently she likes it better and who am i to argue?
She didn't even blink when i walked up to the box and started picking up the eggs that were in most of the boxes. In fact, she didn't move at all. I did all of the boxes around her, but finally I had to reach under her to check for eggs. Talk about doing something new; i'm not sure i've ever been in the same room with a live chicken, much less touched one, much less rooted around under one to take the eggs she worked so hard to make. She was unfazed by the whole interaction.
I was gleeful.
  Look at my colorful, eggey bounty.
In an egg basket, no less!
I was so overjoyed that i almost put the basket over my arm to skip back to the house; luckily, i remembered that they were raw eggs so mayhaps that might not be the best idea ever. Visiting Rea's was so fun. Of course, that is because i was visiting and didn't have to do all of the hardwork every day. I'm not sure i am cut out for that. But my coz sure is -
  that is one happy, proud country mouse.