Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sounds: Trampled By Turtles

Wait So Long is a great song by a great band, Trampled by Turtles, who I hear, are great live. But you want to know what else is great? The fact that in the video they are all seated in order by beard length. And that, my friends,is what it means to be folk.
That fiddle.Holy. 

Their new album, Stars and Satellites comes out April 13; they will be at the 9:30 Club on April 20, with local heroes, These United States.

Words: Wisdom

“Without music, life would be a mistake.” 
---Friedrich Nietzsche,  
Twilight of the Idols

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Song of the Week: The Family Crest

The Family Crest, a San Francisco based band, takes me back to house parties during my undergrad days. I was a pretty boring grad student, with the exception of food fights in public parks.  But in my college town out west, there was a small yellow house just south of campus that would become a makeshift venue on the weekends for local as well as touring bands. Maybe calling it a small house is an understatement.  When bands would come and play, the drum kit would often be the kitchen,  a guitar player usually had to stand on some piece of furniture, and the crowd filled every inch of space and spilled out of the open doors unto the front and back lawns.  It is there that I started to appreciative music as not only community, but also a living, organic force.  The musicians, the listeners, the clapping, the stomping, the echoes; there was no figurative wall up, we are all part of this, and we are all in this together.

The Family Crest has 6 base members, but as they record and tour along the West Coast, they pick up “extended family members” making the ranks of their collaborative orchestral community swell up over 200 members.  The range of the voices is vast, the range of instrumentation is vast, but the music, like music has the tendency to do, brings people together.  Musical influences heard in their songs would be too numerous to list. Each person brings a little bit of themselves, their own little universes full of a thousand different stories.

Last fall, the Family Crest embraced a new project to play live every single day for the month of September in the San Francisco area. They played in clubs, on the street corner, and in house parties.  In January of this year, they repeated the project in Seattle, WA.  In March they head to Austin for the ever blessed SXSW.  Maybe if we all cross our fingers and click our ruby slippers together we can have them remember the East Coast and we can be part of the Family too.

I immediately fell in love with the song, The Valley Below, it stirred my diluted, but forever fierce, Irish blood.

Their EP, Songs From the Valley Below, is currently out and available on all the usual suspects (bandcamp, iTunes, etc), and their debut album, The Village is scheduled to drop in the next couple weeks. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

My DC: Lunch Hour Walks

The weather was been so lovely lately that the primeval urge to be out in the fresh air and sunshine just had to be met, even if for only an hour. 

 The US Botanic Garden has a stunning orchid exhibit right now
Tree roots. I knew you were going to ask.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Music

I tried to be good today. I tried to go to church. But the building was empty and dark. Services were held at a different time. I could of taken this as a symbol of my plight right now, but I just sat in the empty parking lot and listened to Tom Wait's "Take Care of All of My Children," from my iphone and counted it as my communion for the day.

Local Travels: The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is one of my favorite places in DC.  A small library first only for the use of members of Congress has grown into our national library, a place where all aspects of the American story are being preserved. Where knowledge and learning and bookworms (the people, not the actual worms) are celebrated. 

Fun Facts*:
The Library of Congress (LOC) was originally located in the Capitol but is now a complex with 3 buildings named after past presidents: Adams, Jefferson and Madison.

After the British burned the Capitol in 1814, including much of the library, which at that time held exclusively law books, Congress purchased the personal library of the then retired Thomas Jefferson. At first, Congress only wanted his law books, but Jefferson convinced them that if lawmakers were going to make laws about the vastness of American life, then they better have a knowledge about all aspects of that vastness. Jefferson could be very persuasive. Congress bought his entire collection 6,487 books for $23,950. 

Construction on the Jefferson building, or what I referred to as the pretty building, was begun in 1886 and finished in 1897,  it was completed on time and under budget. Yes, once upon a time, the US government completed something on time and under budget. 

Since 1870 the LOC has held the US copyright, which means that anyone that applies for a US copyright must send two copies of their work to the library. 

The Library holds more than 144 million items including more than 33 million books and other print materials in 460 languages; more than 63 million manuscripts; the largest rare book collection in North America;  the world's largest collection of legal materials, films, maps, sheet music and sound recordings, and the contents of President's Lincoln's pockets the night of his assassination. 

The  heart of the Jefferson Building is the Main Reading room. While the rest of the library is pretty much open to visitors, the reading room is open only for researchers, and no photography, even from the upstairs viewing gallery is allowed. Except if  you visit on President's Day or Columbus Day.

I visited on President's Day.
The Great Hall

What's he taking a picture of? The ceiling:

The Main Reading Room


And this is where my heart stopped and I started to hyperventilate 

I dream of owning a card catalog one day, and organizing and storing little bits of knowledge in neat little drawers .

*Fun Facts come from the million tours I have taken, and from the LOC website.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


A couple days a week I push myself out of bed at 4:30 AM. I pile my hair up in a messy ponytail and grab my little blue mat.  I head downstairs.  The house is dark and quiet; the rare moment of the day when no one is cooking, running the washing machine or watching TV.  I begin cross legged, rubbing my hands together to start the blood and energy flowing. In between deep breathes I silently repeat the mantra Ham-sa. I am That.  All my hopes and dreams-I am that. 

I slowly rise and move through a series of moves; I am a mountain. I am a warrior. I am a hero. I  am a child.  I try to hold each pose one second longer than before. One more second of pushing myself through a wall. I let my muscles shake, knowing this pressure, this endurance is making them strong. I dig my toes into the mat, planting a better foundation; I am a tree with roots.

I breathe deeply and with control. I let air cycle through my lungs.  I lean down. I am a triangle. I see a scar on my leg, a reminder of an accident years ago. But that was the person I was, not the person I am becoming. The past, present and future all meeting together on that sticky mat. I finish with sun salutations, for I believe that the sun should be greeted politely and often. I find myself again cross legged on the mat. My eyes are closed; I let myself sink into the stillness.

Yoga doesn’t come easy to me.  I fall over, I’m not quite flexible to do some of moves (my leg goes where?). But these {very} early mornings are teaching me about stillness, which for this anxious soul is a hard lesson. One of the ancient origins of yoga is to stretch the body for meditation, to train the body to be still. Quickly plummeting myself from one pose to another as fast as I can would do little good.  The movements must be controlled. The poses must be held. I move then I stop moving. I am still. I am in control. For those few moments, I have stopped the universe. 

Friday, February 24, 2012

I Thought You Would Like to Know

Today's sunset in Capital City USA was pretty amazing.

Also today, I have listened to "Calico Skies" by Paul McCartney exactly 37 times. What an amazingly lovely song. Gentlemen Callers take note. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Coming Soon . . .

And then the Heavens smiled upon us:

Friday May 11, 2012
Patriot Center, Fairfax VA
Tickets go on sale to the public on Friday, February 24
But who already has tickets?
This gal.

Unlike last time, I won’t be this close:
But maybe it’s someone else turn to be that close.
But I’ll be close enough.
My heart will still almost burst. It always almost does.

Thank you M &K for getting married on a Thursday! Though, I would of picked your reception over southern crooners any day.

I am such the braggart. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Song of the Week: Pickwick

Pickwick, from Seattle, is perfect listening:
When you are stuck in Metro’s weekly debacle
When you are running, literally feet off the ground running, down Pennsylvania Avenue, late for a meeting
When you have bitten off all your nails the day after getting a manicure
When you are convinced it is should at least be Thursday, when in reality it is only Tuesday
When you spend your entire lunch break googling cheap airplane tickets for . . . anywhere with a beach
When you wander into a “French cafĂ©” and they are all out of croissants (C’mon, really?)
When you just want to bust out some dance moves waiting for the red line.

In other words, Pickwick is calming for the nervous soul.  There’s some magic in the music that makes you just close your eyes and lean back and smile.  And you have just got to hear Galen Disston’s  voice. It’s like butter. Or Nutella. Smooooth. And check out all that happy tambourine action. I can only imagine the energy at their live shows. Their current tour isn’t quite going to make it this far east, which has resulted in a deep jealousy  of the residents of Jackson, Wyoming (Pickwick AND Sallie Ford. What.).   It looks like one of us (me or the band) needs to go on a great American road-trip that cross rivers and valleys and mountains. New t-shirt design idea: have tambourine, will travel.

More info/music can be found on their bandcamp and Facebook pages.

Happy Pancake Tuesday!

Today is one of my favorite holidays-- Pancake Tuesday. When I try to share this celebration with others, 98% of people think I am making this holiday up.  But it is a real holiday (stomp my feet), and is better known as Shrove Tuesday.  Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. During Lent people traditionally give up certain foods. And what better way to get rid of flour, sugar, eggs, and other rich foods, than to make pancakes!

And convincing people to come over and eat pancakes is waaaaay easier than trying to convince people to give up a vice for 40 days. I usually don't celebrate Lent, but Pancake Tuesday is one holiday that I am 101% behind. So pull out those frying pans and real maple syrup, or head to your favorite neighborhood diner where the waitresses always call you honey and sweetheart, and dig into some pancakes, flapjacks, or the like. It is a holiday after all.

Monday, February 20, 2012

A Long Weekend In Pictures

Falafel and Sweet Potato Fries. Quite possibility my favorite meal.
New hair color. Not very different from my natural color but every now and then you want to feel shiny and new.
Wandering among stacks and stacks of old books and records. Happy finds coming later.
Cherry Pie for President's Day. Don't worry, I didn't chop down a cherry tree.

Field Trip to the Library of Congress. Clive came too, so pictures are comin' around the mountain.
Oh little blossoms . . . .too soon, too soon!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Today Should Be Called Sun Day.

Today is a beau-ti-ful day around these parts; temperatures *this close* to 60 degrees with bright beams of sunshine.  We might get snow tomorrow, that Mother Nature can be kinda sassy. 

I hope whatever you do today involves:

Scandalously exposed ankles:

And your car windows rolled down with  "Hold On" by Alabama Shakes blaring to the point of warranting stares from the cars next to you at stoplights. Yes, gentleman in the blue Toyota, I am singing rather loudly. You're welcome. 
 I am so happy this band exists. More info, music and tour dates can be found on their website
I know that this question will probably fall into a black hole, but . . .does anyone out there use 8tracks or Spotify? If so, pros/cons? I am looking into ways to (legally) share playlists. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Fondue: A Play In 3 Acts

Fondue is  fancy French for  "to melt". For those of us that have stood at blackboards conjugating verbs, it is specifically the feminine passive past participle for the French verb fondre (to melt). The first French appearance of the word is usually sited as Vincent la Chapelle’s 1735 Cuisinier modern, but it seems that those rascally Swiss have been dipping chunks of bread into melt cheese and wine since the 1600s.  But when/ by who/why fondue came to be, is only a shadow of how great it is to eat. And eat of it we did this last weekend.

Setting the Scene

Act I: Cheese
 We started with a broth of white grape juice, dried cranberries, and rosemary. Then we added cheese; Cheddar, Swiss and Gouda, by the handfuls.

Take chunks of crusty bread and apples, dip in the golden gooeyness, and that my friends, is bliss on a stick.
Act II: Meat and Veg
The second course started with a beef broth scented with garlic, ginger and scallions. We cooked chunks of carrot, asparagus, mushrooms and zucchini, and then our proteins of beef and pork.

Act III: Dessert
For our third and final course we did not do the typical chocolate. What are we? Like everyone else? Please. We made a peach sauce and poured it over sponge cake and fresh peaches.

Quote of the night: Every time I hear “melted cheese,”  I feel like doing a little awkward dance--C

Today's Lesson

Today was a hard day. I couldn't seem to get anything done.  Employee of the month, I will not be.

 As I was trying to focus on my work, and failing miserably, words started to burrow in my head:

You just have to let your heart break.  You're using too much energy trying to keep it together. Just let it break. It will mend. You will move on. Life will keep on going. It will be ok.

So I did.

And the funny thing, or maybe not so funny thing, was that this heartbreak, the day after Valentine's day, wasn't even about a member of the male population. Our hearts can break over so many more things than a romantic relationship. Today it was more about a lost dream or idea or hope. Maybe it wasn't meant to be. Maybe it isn't meant to be right now. Maybe there's something else out there.  Something bigger and better and different than this broken heart can even dream of right now. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Sights and Sounds

Now that we got Valentine’s Day  themed music out of the way, let’s talk about new music! Or new music videos, like when MTV was cool, and played videos instead of reality shows.

Jack White. Jack White. Jack White. I am hoping that if I say his name enough times he will appear. And guess what? It worked! Well, at least in video form. This week Mr. White released the video  for his new song, Love Interruption, featuring back-up vocalist Ruby Amanfu, clarinet/bass clarinet player Emily Bowland and Brooke Waggoner on wurlitzer electric piano. The video isn't flashy, it's the kind of simplicity that kinda gives you chills. Or at least it did me. Or  maybe the chills are because my room is drafty and I should probably being wearing a sweater, but the song, the song is still pretty golden. 

He also released a handful of tour dates: Alabama, Oklahoma, and  Tennessee where Third Man Records is based out of. Tennessee, music wise, is the place to be right now. Or maybe it has always been that place.  At least 3 of my favorite top tier bands are playing there in March. You know what would be nice? If one or two of these bands decides to come to Missouri the first week in April when I will be there visiting friends and family. It is one state over.  Just. One. State. We're a nice state too, we have a lot of heart. They don't call us the heartland for nothin'.  
Laura Marling also released a new video this week for her song, All My Rage:
I saw Laura at the Sixth & I  Synagogue last year, and the amazing show reaffirmed my love of seeing live music  in a sanctuary. Laura Marling is set to play at the Bonnaroo music festival this year which takes place in, you guessed it,  Tennessee.  
This week, or maybe last week, or maybe in the future, time is so relative,  The Head and The Heart released a video for their song Down in the Valley.  The  line, “Lord have mercy on my rough and rowdy ways,” goes through my head  and comes spilling out of my lips a lot.  Maybe it is a good thing I am going to their concert alone. I just might be that one girl that you point at, with all my singing and waving my hands in the air I just don’t care skills.   

 Speaking of relativity:
 “It occurred to me by intuition, and music was the driving force behind that intuition. My discovery was the result of musical perception.” Albert Einstein when asked about this theory of relativity.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day.

"You yourself, as much as anybody else in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." - Buddha

Song of the Week: Love Songs

So. Valentine’s Day. Huh. If I have a Valentine, it’s nice. If I don’t have a +1, I am not one to be bitter about it or go about wailing about my singleness gnashing of teeth style. I like to focus on the fact that chocolate will go on sale the next day.  But today is Valentine’s Day and Song of the Week Tuesday, and everyone know I am sucker for themes. So let’s talk about looove songs.

I’m pretty happy with my life, including the fact that I’m single, until someone points out that I shouldn’t be. Some people just can’t understand that you can be single AND happy at the same time.  But still, there are songs that have interwoven in their notes and melodies, a little bit of longing to be part of a party of 2.

Number 1 on this list is You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To, written by Cole Porter. My favorite version is with the glorious Ella Fitzgerald singing, but YouTube would have none of that, so here is a nice Nancy Wilson version.

Some days the idea of someone to come home seems like the most wonderful thing. Someone that always agrees that, yes, all your coworkers are jerks.  Someone to listen to all the rambling and random thoughts that come swimming in out of your head in the middle of the night.  Someone that will go early to a concert and stand with you in the same place, for 4 hours, just so you can be up front  near your most favorite band in the whole wide world. Someone who asks about your scars, the physical ones and ones not so seen, and then holds you when you tell them the truth. Someone that will take your car to get the oil changed because they know that is your numero uno least favorite thing to do. Someone to dance around the kitchen with while you make dinner and who isn’t afraid to sing into a wooden spoon. Someone who leaves his socks on the floor, but that’s ok, because knowing he is wandering around somewhere nearby barefoot is worth the extra little clutter.

Sigh. If you need me I’ll be hoarding discounted chocolate.

And as a bonus; I See You, You See Me by the Magic Numbers. I love this song so much.  The duet captures a new relationship  just so perfectly.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Recommendations By the Number

I highly recommend in cases of misunderstandings, to sit on the couch with all involved and let the truth and the tears come spilling out. One word; forgiveness.

I highly recommend having a housemate that used to live in France. Two words; homemade quiche.

I highly recommend listening to “Sister” by Mumford & Sons on repeat. Three words; Love your ground.
p.s. this song isn’t on their album, Sigh No More, which makes people want to call it a rare track. However, you can download it for free (and legally) on the band’s website. I’ve always said that they are one of the most polite bands.

I highly recommend eating lunch outdoors in the shadow of art, even on slightly chilly days. Four words; hummus wrap and Rodin.

I highly recommend buying a couple boxes of Girl Scout Cookies, any flavor, your choice. Five words; teaching girls to start fires.

Favorite Things: Words

This weekend I was staring at a blank wall in my house and thought, "Man I need some art."  When I think of art I think of paintings and classy photographs in nice frames. I sometimes forget that art can really be anything. When I look around to see what I do clutter my walls with I find words.  Words, words, words, as Hamlet would dramatically say. There seems to be a feeling of concrete truth when you see something written down. 

 As I take on some needed changes in my life,"This is your becoming," has become my new mantra. With confidence and vigor, I posted it on the cork board above my desk to stare me down when I start to waiver.  I found this statement of power on one of my favorite stranger blogs, "the wild and wily ways of a brunette bombshell". Stranger, as in I stumbled upon the blog through the maze of links on another blog, and have never met Meg, the author. But, God, if I could write like her. 

Also, I do {heart} the OED. That's what the kids on the street call the Oxford English Dictionary. When I was at university out West I used to go to the library during long breaks in between classes and look up the origins of random words. Yep, I was that weird kid.

 A lovely and truthful note from a friend. Somedays I yearn for the days when correspondence was uneven lines from a typewriter.

I laugh at love for you are a crazy dream 
Waxing poetic around a favorite photo.

 I am excited about several concerts coming up, but if you promise not to tell the other bands, I am little obnoxiously excited about seeing the The Head and The Heart.  Excited enough to willingly drive to Baltimore. Baltimore, people, Baltimore.

My bookcase is easily the biggest piece of furniture I own. It covers an entire wall, four rows by rows square.  I push and pull and stack and pile books from it so often that there is no rhyme or reason to how the books end up on the shelf. But every so often the titles will line up in a way that I see my whole personality lined up on that shelf too. 

 I love how there is a crack in this believe magnet. Maybe it fell. Maybe it was asked to hold something too heavy. It cracked. But it got put back together again.

post script:  my new camera finally has a name; Clive. Perfect, I know!