Thursday, June 28, 2012

Sand Dollars

One of my favorite things to do at the beach, any beach, is to roam the shoreline hunting for shells and other shiny things that the ocean brought in for us. The water  at Pismo Beach in California may have been a little too cold to go for a full on swim, but the treasure hunting was ridiculous in its bounty. I never in all my life seen so many sand dollars.  If only they were really dollars, than I'll be rich. But maybe, just maybe, the wonder and beauty of nature, and knowing that I am a part of all that, is worth more to my soul than a couple extra zeros in the old bank account.

And yes. All those purples, browns and greens are their real colors!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Song of the Week: Shakey Graves

There are a lot of songs about California. I found this out when I was putting together a play list for my trip. My motley crew of traveling buddies found this out when I would randomly break out into song whenever we passed a street or part of town that was featured in a song. Beverly Hills, that's where I want to be . . . .

Um . . .now I know why my new tambourines (thanks X!) seemed to be always backed at the bottom of the pile of luggage in the trunk.

Another song that got stuck in my head, especially when driving up and down the Hollywood Hills was , "Built to Roam," by Shakey Graves. Truth by told, it isn't the most positive song about the happy cow state, since it talks about leaving California, but more than once, at a stoplight, I shouted to guy in sunglasses in the car next to us: BUILT TO ROAM!

To hear more of Shakey Graves (aka Alejandro Rose-Garcia) visit his bandcamp site. His album, Roll the Bones, is available there for "name your price," which means you can technically get it for free, but for heaven sakes, leave the man a good tip and spread the word. 
In other music news:
NPR's All Song Considered released their Summer Preview list with new songs by some great bands such as The Avett Brothers, The Antlers, and Grizzly Bear. 

Local DC Gypsy Celtic band Scythian released their new album, It's Not Too Late, this week. Remember them from Shamrock Fest?  They will be playing at the Annapolis Irish Festival on July 14. Go see them. Bring your dancing shoes. You won't be disappointed. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Dear California: You're Rad.

What an amazing trip. I only made my fellow travelers car sick once on the winding roads of the central coast, I had a moment of clarity during my friend's wedding ceremony, I laughed to the point of tears at the reception, had a late night confession,  hunted for sand dollars along the shore, and  consumed some mighty fine tacos.  This why I travel. I learn so much about myself and what I really want in life. I was so happy to share this trip with some friends, beautiful examples of the truth that happiness is when life is shared. Smell Ya Later! (Did we karaoking some Fresh Prince while driving through Bel Air? Oh yes. Yes we did). 

We literally had to be kicked out of the place and might have contemplated hiding in the bathrooms so we could stay forever.

Montana de Oro State Park/Beach 
Oh, no my lens cap is on and the waves are coming. . 

 Sunset over the Hollywood Hills
 Griffith Park Observatory 

The Old LA Zoo Ruins in Griffith Park

I wish i could take credit for this picture, since it is the quintessential California coast shot, but I was driving and handed T my camera. This is why it is always good to travel with friends who are professionals. 

More pictures on Instragram

Thursday, June 21, 2012

In My Bag

I like to think that all my travel adventures have given me mad packing skills.  Some trips I have brought too much, on others too little, all of which have taught me what I really need on a trip. So while my wardrobe choices may change depending on when and where I am going, I always, always, always, pack a handful of items, no matter the location.

1. Snacks. Sure snacks are fun to have, but they are also necessary. When people get hungry they get cranky, and there is nothing that can speed a trip downhill faster than you or your traveling companions sporting some cranky pants.  Even if I am going somewhere where there are easily obtainable food options, I always have enough snacks in my bag for myself and to throw at friends. You never know when a plane is going to be delayed, or a hike takes longer than you thought, or the next exit off the highway is 45 miles away. Someday I hope to be as fancy as Heidi from 101 cookbooks and bring homemade pot stickers on long flights, but for now I usually pack granola bars, dried fruit/trail mix, gum and a bottle of water. All these usually pack well, can survive a bumpy ride, and are pretty filling without being heavy.  The bottle of water is super duper important.  Stopping for bathroom breaks can be annoying, but puking and passing out due to dehydration is way worse.

2. Pocket size notebook + pen. I have previously stated my love of pocket size moleskine notebooks, and how perfect they are  for traveling; they fit in most bags without taking up all your snack space. Record in them in travel memories, keep track of expenses, make lists for trips to the market, write down directions and eatery recommendations from the locals, and my personal favorite; write little notes and wishes to tuck under rocks, in old  brick walls and other secret places.

3. Basic first-aid supplies. In my travel cosmetic bag I always keep, band-aids, alcohol wipes, ibuprofen, Tylenol PM, and antacids. Headaches, blisters, and stomachaches due to new and different food can strike in the most inconvenient times (in the middle of the night) and places (in the middle of nowhere).  

4. Earplugs. If you are traveling with people, even people you like,  you will need these at some point. The end.

5. A cloth bag that can be folded up. This is the newest entry on my must pack list, and come to be on the list because of too many episodes of trying to carry all my groceries out of a French grocery store that doesn’t give you bags.  But I always find so many other uses for it: holding farmer’s markets findings, carrying a picnic lunch, laundry bag, beach bag, and an extra bag for souvenirs that don’t fit in my suitcase.   I love having a bag that can be easily folded or rolled up and can be carried both in a suitcase or a small day bag, so I am now always ready for those armfuls of frommage and baguettes.

6. My “A” game. Word.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Surfers at Assateague Island

This past Sunday, I spent the day at Assateague Island. It’s one of my favorite beaches; it’s NPS so it is less crowded than Ocean City, and it’s the beach I can count on seeing at least a couple surfers.  I love sitting on the shore and watching those wave riders.  There is just something so freeing about them, alone with just a board trying to harness the power of the mighty ocean. By chance, I set up my little red chair near the point where the surfers would go into the water. The waves would take them pretty far down the shore, and then they would walk their boards back to the starting point and go back into the water. I have to say that the waves out here aren’t really that good for hardcore surfing, but I think that is why I love these surfers even more. You do what you love no matter where you’re at.

Other beach finds:

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Song of the Week: The Decemberists

What is the first song on my playlist for my impending drive up the California Coast along Highway 1? That would be California One by the Decemberists:

 I am both excited and nervous about the drive. The last time I did the trip, I was a 10 year old passenger hanging out in the back seat  trying to not touch my sister, and really didn’t pay that much attention to drive. People say it is one of the prettiest drives in the country (I’m only doing a small chunk of it), but they always follow up with cautions about the winding roads and steep drop-offs . That is what making me nervous. But at least as the driver I get to pick the music. Did I mention that I am driving a van full of people? Banana Cakes.

Monday, June 18, 2012

1000 iMoments

This weekend I hit the milestone of photo number 1000 on my iPhone:

The beginning:
Snowpocalypse 2010

The end (until tomorrow)
Assateague Beach this weekend

How does that break down? Thanks for asking:
467 pictures of DC
126 pictures of bands/concerts
87 pictures of the beach
33 pictures of pie
287 pictures of other random moments
1 picture of Justin B.ieber nail polish

Sunday, June 17, 2012

10 Things My Father Taught Me

Today is Father's Day. My first Father's Day since my dad passed away.

Today is a hard day.

So I did what I often do on hard days; I ran away. To the beach, the seaside, the edge of the world.  In fact, I'm there right now. I wanted to be somewhere where peace is a tangible thing. And here among the warm sand and crashing waves, there is peace.  But even though  today is sad and lonely, I don’t, now or ever, want to ignore or forget the fact that I had a great dad. Part of his legacy is the lessons that he taught me:

1.       If you aren’t 10 minutes early, you are late. I don’t know if my dad was late to anything in his life. He taught us that to be on time or early to everything, from important meetings to lunch with friends, shows that you respect other people and their time.

2.       Surround yourself with good books. My dad wrote when I was just a mere newborn: surround yourself with with good books for in them are the legacies of men and the promises of God. That has stayed with me to this very day.  My dad loved to read and probably could read an entire book every single day if you let him. This is a family trait.  There is a bookcase, stuffed and overflowing, in every single room of my parents' house, except for the bathrooms. Truth. Whenever I called home, he would always ask what I reading. When I would come home to visit, I could always count on a pile of books left quietly on my bed that he put aside just for me. I got a book from him every single year for Christmas. The written word has come to mean so much to me. It has opened up the world and at times allowed me to escape from that world. Books and stories let me know that I'm not the first or only person to feel (fill in the blank emotion: frustrated, ecstatic, confused), and that the human soul is a beautifully complicated thing. 

3.       It doesn’t matter how fast you run around the track, but it does matter that you keep running. There was a summer when I was in high school that my father and I would go running every morning at the high school track.   Why? I really don't remember, but I do remember that it was not my favorite thing to do. It was summer and by some law I felt that I should be sleeping in, and also, I am not a fast runner.  I would see everyone else pass me and I would quit and sit on the sideline and whine about going home. But my dad would extend his hand, pull me back on the track and tell me that I needed to finish the run that I had started. No matter how slow.  And then he would run with me until I finished.  And in many other things in life, my dad would give me the same counsel, don’t quit, stay on the track, and you’ll be fine.

4.       Enjoy the experience. Often before I would leave for a trip my dad would tell me not to enjoy the trip, but enjoy the experience. I used to be  a strict itinerary follower.  I would, and I am not kidding, plan out every minute of every vacation day. My dad lived in and traveled to a lot of different places around the world and he cautioned me that if all I was doing was worrying about checking things off a list and stressing out about not being somewhere or not doing something on the plan, I would miss the experience of traveling.  I should always be safe and mindful, but it is OK to lose myself in the beauty of nature or in the wonder of a new place. And part of the experience was accepting all the things that go wrong on trips. Getting lost. Spats with traveling companions. Getting sick. Missing trains. Accept them. Learn from them. Move on.  My dad would also say, nothing is a failure if you got a good story out of it. So in this trip known as life, I try, am trying, to enjoy more of the experience of living, the sights, the sounds, the smells, the feelings, of just merely existing in this time and space, and not worry so much about checking milestones and successes (or failures) off some divine list. Some days this is easier than others, but I sure do have some great stories. 

5.       Listen to music that stirs your soul. That is a direct quote from an email that my dad sent me about a year ago. He and I didn't always listen to the same types of music,  but we could always talk about music. Music was something that was ingrained within our blood and our cells and our tissue. He never told me to turn down my music or that I shouldn't listen to this or that. He encouraged me to go the concerts and then wanted to hear all about them afterwards. He, along with my mom, would listen to every single music clip on this blog and then give me his thoughts on them. He would email me whenever he found a new group or songwriter that he liked, asking if I had heard of them. I loved that. 

6.        Work hard. Work hard. Work hard. My dad taught us that whether it was washing dishes, stuffing envelopes, shelving books or holding meetings with VIPS, all of which I have done, there is dignity in working hard and making an honest living. My parents were sad (I hope!) to see both me and my sister leave their nest, but I think they understood that that is what they raised us to do; to be productive and contributing members of society. And it wasn’t just in the outside workforce that hard work was taught, it was in everything.  I can honestly say that I never took a class for an "easy A." I sought out classes that I knew would challenge me (Latin? Sure. Communication Law? Why not.)  I can remember my dad telling me during my freshman year in college that if I wasn't frustrated, I wasn't learning. And let us not forget all the household chores and yard work. Man, I hated yard work growing up. But now as I plant my own little garden, I finally get what they were trying to teach us all those years. The harder the work, the sweeter the rewards.  

7. Laugh loudly and often. My dad always told the best jokes.  Even when he was very, very sick he still had his sense of humor, which made me know that my dad was still in there somewhere. He taught us by word and by deed that sometimes it is OK to be silly and ridiculous and it is perfectly fine to laugh at your own jokes, even when no one else is laughing. More than ever I treasure the little jokes no one outside of the family understands (Watch out for the Bromines!), and that are so much a part of our family folklore that no one remembers how or why the started, but we love them and repeat them all the same. 

8. Find something you are passionate about and  do whatever it takes to follow it and live it. My dad was a teacher, and everyone that ever saw him teach knew that that was what he was born to do. He loved chemistry (what he taught), and he was so devoted to his students that he wanted them to love it too, atoms, hydrogen bonds and all. I was surprised and humbled by how many of his current and former students came to the viewings and the funeral. With tears and hugs they told me how inspiring my dad was and how much they learned in his classes. I think because he knew about following and living his passion for teaching, he very enthusiastically supported my sister and I as we try to find own our. Right before my dad got sick, I called him freaking out about my life. He told me first, not to quit my job and run away to mountains, which was what I was threatening to do, but to look at the things that bring me joy: music, writing, traveling and focus on those things, even it is just at nights and weekends. Don't let them fade and be forgotten because of long hours and long commutes. Hold on to them, make time for them, struggle with them. You will find a way to live the life you want, he told me. And I believe him. 

9. Your potential is always greater than your past. I have done a lot of stupid things in my life. And not just, oh she's so quirky, stupid, but I should of known better, stupid. I will be the first to admit that I haven't always been the best daughter or sister or friend. But my father never, ever, made me feel that I was a lost cause.  Past failures or mistakes were never held over my head. I was always welcomed home no matter how far I had wandered. And there were always pancakes waiting for me there.  More than once, more than twice, my dad told me that tomorrow is a new day. Tomorrow you can start again. 

10. Everything tastes better with vanilla ice cream on top. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Bonnaroo Dreaming

Last weekend, Bonnaroo, the big music festival descended on Manchester, Tennessee. Instead of camping out with the hippies, those with lots of vacation time, and/or people dressed in banana costumes, I was planning and preparing and partaking of the first BBQ of the summer.  So I guess it all evened out, right? Did they have strawberry rhubarb pie AND fried pickles? But this week I have been catching up on the musical performances via the Bonnaroo YouTube channel. There seems to be something extra special about summer concerts.

Here are a couple of my favorites:

"When My Time Comes" by the Dawes (see you in August fellas!).

"You Ain't Alone" by Alabama Shakes
If you haven't gotten on the Alabama Shakes boat yet, what you waiting for? Seriously, jump in this canoe. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Picture is Worth an App

I recently made my Instagram pictures/profile public (@gentlewomankate). This was a little bit by accident, and a whole bigger bit more by the fact that Wilco started posting tour pictures.

So let’s share our picture adventures! I promise I don’t take that many pictures of my feet. Pie, on the other hand . . . lots o'pics.

News From the Farm

{And Clive}

The tomato plants are flowering!

Thai Basil

Um. Basil.

Recently tamed Thyme
Crazy chives and baby lime basil.

This is not the garden that I had originally planted.  I let my cilantro plant go and flower, {hangs head in shame} and had to pull it up. My watermelon plant disappeared without a trace when I was back in KC. And for the second year in a row my lavender didn't even sprout. But my lime basil did sprout, my new mint plant is only fueling my new favorite summer flavor combination of watermelon and mint, and not to humble brag, but I do declare that I have prettiest Thai Basil plant in the known world. 

(My dill and rosemary plants weren't feeling photogenic the day of this little photo shoot, but this proud mama thinks they're still beautiful.)

The above pictures were taken last weekend, but when I went to water my plants last night, I saw some exciting new developments:

I also chased a raccoon out of the yard. Country livin'. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Words: Wisdom

Admit it. You aren’t like them. You’re not even close. You may occasionally dress yourself up as one of them, watch the same mindless television shows as they do, maybe even eat the same fast food sometimes. But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the “normal people” as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?”. Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator. But what if that girl in the elevator (and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work) are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others…
--Timothy Leary

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Song of the Week: Langhorne Slim

Langhorne Slim is exactly what I needed to hear this week.  His self-titled album, Be Set Free  and the brand new The Way We Move (released just last week!) were on repeat and rotation in my ears on Monday; 12 hours and one iPod battery, straight.  At some point along the way, I decided that falling hopelessly in love with music so easily, isn’t such a bad thing.  Falling easily in love with other things, or people or pistachio ice cream,  well, that can be a whole different story.

Slim does play with a fantastic band;“The Law”, but probably my favorite video of him playing is this is stripped down version of “Be Set Free”:

Oh, that voice and unlaced boots! I have mentioned before that I love so called imperfect voices; voices that strain, voices that might be a little too loud and raw,  voices that just have this sense of longing in them.  I like to call theses voices the voice of the common man. Maybe a little broken and scarred, but still singing. Add to that sincerely honest lyrics about the pains and joys of life, things we can all relate too but seldom can find the right words to express them, and what you have my friends, is some of the best music around these days.

Since you all are here, let’s hear the title track from the new album, this time with the band:  

 Makes you want to see him live right? Well, you are in luck! Langhorne Slim & the Law are stopping in our fine little capital city tomorrow, Wednesday, June 13, and playing at the Rock & Roll Hotel, (full tour details here). The best $15 dollars you will spend all week.  I won’t be in town for the show, but someone please go, and sing really loud if they play "My Future" and tell me how amazing it is. I may hate you for a minute but I'll get over it.

Also of note, the extremely talented Michael Kiwanuka is playing at the same club this Saturday (see above link). This Englishman is still relatively new in the US, but he is going to be huge soon, mark my words, and that will be a great day.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Sunday Music: Spirit Family Reunion

Hallelujah, Hallelujah Spirit Family Reunion releases their album, "No Separation" this week! 

Hear: Download the above song (for free!), "I Am Following the Sound, "on their website. This song has been on constant repeat around here for the last hour or so. Sundays aren't really Sundays unless there is a little banjo in the morning. My neighbors love me. Dearly. 
See: them this summer on the East Coast (represent!)  folk festival circuit; FloydFest, Newport, Fresh Grass/MASS MoCA (tour info also on their website).
Say: I believe heavily in good music karma, the more you share with others, You have got to hear this, the more good music will get passed on to you. 
Do: drink out of Mason jars, non-ironically, eat fried pickles barefoot in your backyard, and enjoy the summer with good music. Do it for America. Do it for the children. Do it to combat evil corporations and adult contemporary easy listening albums. Do it because you can. 

(I will have to admit, the first time I heard/saw the above video I thought, "Is someone tap dancing?" But then I realized someone was playing the washboard, which is equally awesome.)

Saturday, June 9, 2012


As of right . . . . .NOW . . .I have been up for 24 hours straight. At least, I got a killer playlist out of the deal:

Other shots from little adventures around the D{dot}C{dot}:

The big house on the Hill
Pink flowers
Fast train
Perfect strawberry
These United States 
Rainbow in my way
Dragon shadow

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Words: Wisdom

{revised from an earlier, and scheduled post, before I heard the sad news of the Ray Bradbury's passing}

 “If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.” 
― Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920--June 5, 2012)

Fahrenheit 451 has always been the most terrifying horror story to me: a world where books are outlawed. After reading that book for the first time  many, many years ago, I made myself promise that, like the people in the woods,  I would start memorizing favorite passages and quotes and poems. I have to save them, I told myself, I HAVE TO SAVE THEM. And then they would become part of me. And then they could never be taken away or forgotten.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Question of the Week

One a scale of 1-10  how annoying would it be to be standing by/sitting by a person with a tambourine at an outdoor concert? 1 being not at all and 10 being I want to kick you in the face

At the Edward Sharp & the Magnetic Zeroes show last month I noticed someone in the audience with a tambourine.  Good Gravy Batman! Why didn’t anyone tell me it was bring your own tambourine night?

What a great idea.

I have two outdoor concerts this summer, put on the books before my “I need to save money” Come to Jesus moment; Wilco in July and the Mumford & Sons Stopover Show in August.  And the thought to bring a tambourine is now stuck in my head. I can see it be delightful at Wilco. I’m on the lawn where there is more of a relaxed atmosphere. And it is not like I will be playing it the whole night, just at spirited moments. I can contain myself.   M&S  might be a little more tricky because 678 billion people will be packed in there.

And even though folk music usual does have an element of participation by the, um, folk,  I don’t want to become (double sigh, double eye roll) that girl.

In my head there are unwritten rules of concert going. Things like:  If you have to carry on that oh so important conversation with someone, especially if you are upfront in the crowd (i.e. not at the bar) do it only between songs or between bands, not when the band is performing my favorite song. I am here to hear  them, not you.

But where does tambourining (whatever spell check, that so is a word) fall on the list? Is it really anymore annoying than that guy that shouts various forms of the word, "yeah!" during the entire show? Yay? Nay?

Post Script: Dear Future Gentleman Caller: we will be having tambourines as party favors at our wedding because we will be that awesome. 

Song of the Week: The Old 97's

News Flash! News Flash!
My favorite street musician is back! He plays guitar and the harmonica and sometimes has a tambourine with a foot pedal and wears vests and is the reason why I always keep a couple dollars in the front pocket of my bag. He's been gone for awhile and part of me hoped that he was "discovered" or had moved up to New York City. So it was a little bittersweet when I saw him yesterday outside the metro.

He has a sign in his guitar case that reads: I love music therefore I am broke.

You got that right.

I know that he might mean that gigging and busking doesn't pay the bills. But as a listener, I feel the pain too. Concert tickets, new albums, supporting kickstarter projects, new tambourines, it all adds up. I am hoping to make some life changes soon, and change tends to be expensive, so I am trying to be better about my disposal income. Trying is the important word in that last sentence. And you know I am getting serious when I start considering cutting my music funds. And just after I finally have mastered the art of knowing about and getting tickets for shows in DC. I thought the summer would be safe to scale back. A lot bands are doing the summer festival thing, and not a lot festivals come to the DC area, so I was hoping that I could maybe save money in the live music department.

Then this weekend came and I had to make some choices. The Dawes were in town on Friday, but I'm going to see them in August, Joe Pug came on Saturday (I went!) and Rhett Miller came to town on Monday ( I sat home with a sad face). I just couldn't do more than one show during a weekend, a weekend before pay day.

Being a grown-up kinda stinks sometimes.

So in honor of not seeing him, let me tell you a little bit about Rhett Miller. His newest solo album, The Dreamer, comes out today, but I am going to be a little annoying and talk about his other band, the Old 97's . Years ago, I worked at a public library in a pretty rural area, the only saving grace was that there was a university and a great public library. Among other things we had a fantastic music collection, so good that all the college radio djs would come to borrow cds. So good that music nerds and local musicians would work there. On slow nights we would talk about music, everyone brought their own likes and dislikes and knowledge. I was introduced to so much music during those years.  The Old 97's  is one such band that I always connect to good old DBRL and sitting in the circulation room talking about music. Oh memories.  

The Old 97's have been playing together since 1993 and along with bands such as Whiskeytown (Ryan Adam's old band) and Uncle Tupelo (Jeff Tweedy's old band) are usually accredited with pioneering the alt-country music crusade of the early 1990's. Blah, blah, blah, music history, whatever. They are good. The end.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Today would of been my dad's 69th birthday.
I don't think he would of minded that I used his birthday wish.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Sounds: Joe Pug, David Wax Museum and Vandaveer @9:30 Club

The best shows are when you can leave your troubles out the door. They will still be there to haunt you on your way home, but for those couple of hours you are free. Last night was such a show. And so much more. The line up was fantastic, it started on time (a very rare occurrence), and the happy afterglow of the show is still lingering around this morning.

First up was Vandaveer, the duo of Mark Charles Heidinger and Rosie Guerin, who have been making beautiful forlorn melodies together in the DC area since 2008. The music is completely striped down, just one guitar and two voices.  There was one moment during their set where the room was completely silent. Even the annoying people that talk through every song of every show, were quiet. It was like the whole universe stopped, and it was beautiful. 

Second on the bill was David Wax Museum. How did they come up with that band name you might ask? Well, David Wax founded the band, and to quote their website: "Why do we need museums? They show us something familiar and traditional, while at the same time documenting our innovation, showing us possible directions for the future. " And that is exactly what the band does. They take Americana folk music and Mexican folk music and mix it together and what come out is this beautiful organic cadence. The instrumentation and performers on that stage was impressive and curious; maybe most notably is Suz Slezak who plays percussion on  a donkey jawbone (a traditional musical instrument in Veracruz, Mexico), but also must make her rural Virginia roots proud by the way she fiddles.  And David Wax plays with this joy that is hardly containable or resistible. They told stories of themselves and of their songs, which made the show feel not like a concert in a packed club, but a small intimate party with friends. And they get bonus points for using the word"archives" in one of the stories. That small vocabulary word drop will win me over every time.  It was my first time seeing them live, but safe to say, I've been converted! 

And then there was Joe Pug. I love when you find a performer or artist or writer and you feel that this is exactly what they were meant to be and do. And Joe is a blazing example of this. Hearing his music you know that he was meant to do this, to write these songs, and thank the stars and moon above that he shares them with us. During his set there were times that I was singing and clapping along, but there were other moments that I just stood still in perfect contentment. Joe grew up in the DC area and shared stories of going into local music stories, playing all the guitars, and wondering what it would like to be playing a show at the 9:30 club. For the lucky few, wishes do come true, as he stood on that very stage last night. And truth be told, Mr. Pug just might have the most contagious smile, ever. What a night.

Playlist, Joe Pug, 9:30 Club, Washington DC 6/2/2012
Nobody's Man
Unsophisticated Heart
Silver Harps and Violins
Hymn #76
The Great Despiser
I Do My Father's Drugs
How Good Your Are
A Gentle Few
Hymn 101
Deep Dark Wells
One of Many
Hymn #35
Nation of Heat
Speak Plainly Diana

Encore with David Wax Museum
Wayside/Back in Time (a Gillian Welch song)

To hear a little bit of what I saw last night:

(So the backing parade wasn't there last night, but I love the video and seeing members of These United States in there!) 

David Wax Museum
Joe Pug

Saturday, June 2, 2012

After the Storm

After the storm
There is a big beautiful  blue sky and warm sunshine
Newly mowed grass and bare feet
Cool breezes that gently shake the leaves on ancient trees
A big bowl of sweet strawberries straight from the farmer's market
And lemonade with stripped party straws.
This part of the season, I pledge my undying loyalty and  support.

Friday, June 1, 2012

This Is Not a Food Blog

A huge storm and tornado watch basically washed out all plans for tonight. Maybe Mother Nature wanted me to stay home and listen to the Pixies (Mother Nature is so hip), and book a hotel room for an overdue Tennessee road trip, and make baked goods. There are many things that I learned living in the Midwest, but maybe the most important thing of them all is that severe weather events call for baked goods. 

Millions of years ago I posted about math and small batch baking and and I was very hoity toity about it all. Remember these?
Well, after making them a couple times, you know, to check the math, I'm ready to share the recipe. 

Small Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies (makes 5-7 cookies)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup whole wheat flour (to make it healthy)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons butter or margarine, softened, but not melted
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons white sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons milk
1/4-1/2 cups chocolate chips (depending on your chip-to-dough ratio preferences)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, salt). Set aside.
3. In another bowl with hand mixer (or stand up mixer if you are fancy), mix the wet ingredients (butter, sugars, vanilla, milk).
4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet until combined. 
5. Stir in by hand the chocolate chips.  I usually start with 1/4 cup and keep adding until it looks right (again, this is not a food blog).
6. Plop rounded tablespoon of dough onto a cookie sheet. To get the perfect round cookies, I scoop out a tablespoon of dough and with very clean hands roll the dough between my hands until I get a smooth ball and then flatten slightly before putting in on the cookie sheet.
7. Bake for 10-14 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies start to brown. 

Makes 5-7 cookies depending on how big you make the cookies and how much cookie dough you "taste test."  Tonight I got 7 cookies in my "why do they keep interrupting TV to tell me it's still raining, I have windows" batch. Since the dough contains no eggs, you can go ahead and do all those taste tests without the salmonella police reading you your rights.