Archive for January 2013
I have no clue where to start, and only a vague idea of where I’ll stop. Settle in, kids, this one may be rough.
First, I’ll blame Michael. He got me interested in Bruins Nation, a sports blog for the UCLA Bruins, which is where he gets his Bruins sports trivia. I subscribed to their RSS feed (I’m not cool enough for a twitter feed), and that got me to thinking … how about my alma mater? Surely there is a sports blog dedicated to the University of Missouri? My Tigers???
Indeed there is: Rock M Nation. I began to read, and I am now awash in sports trivia for the two colleges’ teams I follow: Mizzou, where I went to school, and UCLA, where my money went.
One post on Rock M Nation pointed me towards a novel that was set at Mizzou. It’s written by Michael Atchison, an alum that knows the guys at Rock M … come to find out, he’s a sports journalist who wrote a novel about music. And growing up. And being disappointed. In Missouri.
I’m in. There’s an excerpt you can read, here.
Meanwhile, back at the computer, I decided to upgrade my music consumption with one of those new fangled iPod thingies. The lovely Velda gave me one for Christmas. Perfect! I had a business trip coming up in January to northern Iowa (the high was 11* while I was there), so I could use the iPod on the trip.
I proceeded to rip the soundtrack of my life.
I believe in purchasing music, by the way. I have CDs and more CDs. I do not steal music. Haven’t purchased digital downloads, as I 1) had no place to put them and 2) I don’t like their inferior audio quality.
I’m an audio snob. Get over it.
So I made digital copies of music from Carly Simon, Jethro Tull, Tom Russell, Bread, Eastmountainsouth, Chicago, The Beatles, The Stones, Michael Jackson, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Madonna, Hank Williams, Orleans, Martina McBride, Rosie Flores, Bonnie Raitt, Eric Church, Nikka Costa, Pure Prairie League, Clint Black, Nicolette Larson, The Wailin’ Jennys, Frank Sinatra, Wylie & The Wild West, Barbra Streisand, Led Zeppelin, Zac Brown Band, James Taylor, Danni Leigh, Amy Grant and Lady Antebellum. To name a few. I got on the plane with 11,000 songs. It was heaven.
My iPod, my noise cancellation headphones, and my kindle. Three illegal items when the plane is taking off or landing, but, oh, when we were soaring … I was soaring.
I pulled up my nascent playlists. Funk. Mellow. Western. Hits. ’70s. Country Stars. Yum.
I had not had this level of aural control of my environment since I stopped regularly visiting my woodshop … where I have a great CD changer + sound system set up (OK, OK, my garage. But it IS my woodshop.). Unfortunately, my last woodworking projects were last spring, and life took some different terms since then. All good … but I now had my music back, and it was wonderful.
On my way to Iowa, I finished my Poul Anderson series of 7 novels that collected the eon-spanning story that went from the Psychotechnic League to Domininc Landry into the Long Night that followed. Great space opera, classic, award-winning science fiction, but I struggled a bit to finish it. The series has been compared to the James Bond series (Ian Fleming introduced 007 to the world 2 years later). Same dashing hero, same damsel-in-distress conquests. Good stories, really, but not great literature. I was glad to be done.
On my trip home, I didn’t know what I wanted to read. I had about 25 novels on the kindle … and I’d forgotten what XL was about. I needed a change of pace, though, and this unknown author looked like just the ticket.
The music was a collection of favorites. I jumped around from mellow to party to western to country. But every tune, every tune, was a favorite. It was transcendent.
And then the novel took me back, just as the music was taking me back, to the beginning of my college journey in Columbia, MO. In 1974, I found a creative release like never before … just as David Hankins did in XL. He met the love of his life, as did I. He had his dream yanked from him, as did I. His story might be more compelling than mine, but with my music in my ears, and his story in my heart, I was having a wonderful, wonderful trip.
And then the book turned sentimental, with a character that believed in David dying, and then using his funeral to give even more support back to David.
I sobbed. In the plane. Me. Sobbed. In public.
Now, I’m not a walking puddle of emotions like Velda. Her profound leaking of tears at Christopher and Alley’s wedding became the stuff of legend. She’s probably still dehydrated, 5 years later. I am an emotional sort, and I’ve been known to shed a tear now and again. But in public, in the company of strangers, while reading a book? Not so much.
Until I played my soundtrack, and read XL, and it was simply pitch perfect.
XL’s about many things, but the engine that drives the book is music. The author says on his website that there are 209 bands & musicians discussed in the book. It’s about the music, and Hankins has the music in him. It’s a great read.
You’ll meet David Hankins as he studies journalism at the University of Missouri. There were a few landmarks in the book that made me feel at home … but the novel could begin at any college, really. And when David went into the ’80s Goth underground club scene in Columbia I didn’t know if Atchison was kidding or serious. I mean … Columbia? A counter-culture? Really? Maybe it was there. I was so straight in the ’70s, I wouldn’t have known a counter-culture if it hit me in the face … which it did a couple of times, come to think of it.
I finished the book after I returned home, and it did not disappoint. I wholeheartedly recommend it to you, whether you know Mizzou or not. In the end, the book is just about a guy, that loves a girl. They both love their family … and his music.
This is Michael Atchison’s first novel, but I look forward to his next. Hope to see you around the Quad, Michael!
The Columns are all that’s left of Academic Hall, which burnt in 1892. They are set in the middle of Francis Quadrangle, AKA the Quad.
Roasting a chicken is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to make dinner. This is one of my best dishes, and is now a favorite of the family.
Here is the recipe for my famous Lemon Roasted Chicken.
Great recipe. You can do this!
- 1 whole chicken, 4-5 lbs
- 12 cloves of garlic
- 1 lemon (1/2 juiced, 1/2 sliced)
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
- salt and pepper
- garlic salt or Magic Dust
Remove the giblets and neck found in the cavity of the chicken and discard. Wash the chicken inside and out under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. Insert a paring knife about 1/2″ into the breast of the chicken and push a clove of garlic into the hole you made. Repeat this all over the body of the bird, using 6 of the cloves. If you’d like, slice up the garlic into quarters and push the smaller pieces into the thighs and drumsticks.
Preheat the oven to 425*.
Squeeze juice of half the lemon all over the chicken. Rub salt and fresh cracked pepper into the skin. I then sprinkle the bird with Magic Dust, the special seasoning used on the steaks at the Hitching Post in Buellton, CA. If you don’t have any magic dust, use garlic salt. Finally, stuff the cavity of the chicken with the remaining garlic, rosemary sprigs, and half of the lemon. Make sure you cut it into slices first. Take the half you used to squeeze onto the skin, slice, and lay them in the bottom of your roasting pan. They’ll heat up in the oven and perfume the skin with a hint of lemon.
Roast the chicken for 90 minutes. You’ll know when it’s done if you cut into the bird and the juices run clear and not pink. Take it out of the oven, cover it in foil, and let it rest for 15 to 20 minutes. Carve and serve!
A long time ago, not very far away, I began a phase in my life where I tried to cook. Things didn’t go smoothly. The food I made in my parent’s kitchen as a 13-year-old wasn’t good enough for the dog to eat, let alone my human family. However, I had to cook for someone in order to practice for my Foods class at school. My poor family suffered (Don’t let me make cinnamon rolls. EVER.). Anyway, after I passed this junior high elective (How? I still don’t know. Thank goodness for group work.), I gave up any hope of learning how to cook…until I met my future mother-in-law.
As Henry has mentioned before, Velda is a wizard in the kitchen (He might have given her other titles, but I lean towards the spell-casting folk. Personal preference, if you will). We’ve spent many a night packed around the kitchen table, eating to our hearts’ content. When our family of ten (now eleven!) gathers for a meal, we need two sets of bowls for each side dish. Otherwise, it would probably take 20 minutes to get a single bowl passed around the table! The conversation is filled with jokes about making sure there is a bowl of mashed potatoes set aside specifically for me, or casting family votes on some silly topic (usually not in my favor). We watch as Christopher gets all of his food last (usually Lauren has already cleaned her plate). At meal’s end, we help move empty plates to the kitchen and congratulate Velda on another great meal. Our star chef loves the praise, but doesn’t always want to be alone in the kitchen. This is where I came in.
I began my part in the Mowry Cucina as a sous-chef. I did small things like chop garlic and mix sauces. Occasionally I would season chicken or man the stir-fry. Though my jobs were small, it felt important and I enjoyed doing it. When Michael went away to college, Lauren and I spent time in the kitchen with Velda learning how to cook. We started the clamor for VMICA: The Velda Mowry Institute of Culinary Arts. Later, Jeremy and Michael joined the crew and started cooking. That didn’t last long, but it was definitely fun! Lauren and I were the first graduating class. As we got more confident we did more complicated things. I would make a side dish, or bake some rolls. Lauren would make sauces or put together salads. When Velda hurt her back at work and couldn’t cook, I was named temporary chef. I remember the first meal I made … it was awful. I put way too much raw garlic in the potatoes. Overcooked the chicken. Burnt the broccoli. It was a Murphy’s Law type of dinner and everyone ate it. They were too kind. It still haunts me.
Years have passed since that day and I like to believe I’ve gotten much better. I love to cook. I’m not amazing, but hope I get an “A” for effort. I have my own set of signature dishes that the family enjoys, and I torture my husband with my cooking at home. Since we’ve gotten so focused on losing weight, finding ways to make healthy meals that taste good has been very difficult. You never know how much whole milk and real butter make a dish taste amazing until you can’t use them. But sometimes, the point of making dinner isn’t to impress your guests with your cooking, it’s to spend time with the people you love. I know that’s cliché, but it’s true. We spend our entire family dinner laughing, telling stories, talking about our lives. We make faces at our beautiful niece and mock each other endlessly. Eating family dinner happens two or three nights a week, which is rare for most families. Before college, family dinner was five nights a week. We’re lucky the food is great, but we’re luckier to have each other.
I cook because I love to assemble ingredients and go grocery shopping. I cook because I love food. But, mainly, I cook because I love to have a reason to surround myself with my friends and family.
Management and Parenting: Making It Work
Tammy’s Top Ten Reasons to Have Family Dinners
(ed. note: MrsMowry cooks fine meals … and she sets a great table, too!)
My thanks to Sarah Angleton, the practical historian, for nominating me for this award. You’ll really like Sarah’s blog … here’s how she describes herself:
I am a thirty-something wife, mom, and writer of historical fiction. When I’m not busy working on what is sure to be the finest novel my mom has ever read, I blog about history, one quirky anecdote at a time.
And she does … today’s summary of the history of Erector sets, along with the U-238 Atomic Energy Lab play set from the same manufacturer, is a great read! Please enjoy!
Here are the Sunshine award questions asked of each recipient:
- What is your favorite color? It keeps changing. Must be about aging. Green.
- What is your favorite animal? Homo Sapiens.
- What is your favorite number? Pi, as it defines an unending circle.
- What is your favorite drink? Diet Coke. Wait. Whiskey. Wait. A Cadillac Margarita. Wait. Diet Coke. Wait. Elijah Craig 18-year old Whiskey. Wait. Diet Coke.
- What is your favorite pattern?
- What is your passion? When you do something, do it right.
- Do you prefer a good movie or a good book? No question: a good book.
- Would you rather give or receive a gift? Why is that a choice? Both, please.
- What is your favorite day? Again, it keeps changing. It used to be Wednesday, but now it’s Saturday.
- What is your favorite flower? Hibiscus. So complex, so fragile.
Other than the practical historian, I want to nominate some of the blogs that I most enjoy reading. They run the gamut from photography to recipes to humor to armchair philosophy. Some are new, some are less new. Some post daily, and some are less frequent. All are great blogs. I hope you’ll enjoy them, too. And, in no particular order….
Much More Muchier
Hiking Angeles Forest
And She Laughs
Canadian Hiking Photography
A Nine Pound Hammer
Benjamin Harrison was 7 years old at the time of his Grandfather William Henry Harrison’s inauguration as President, but he did not attend the ceremony.
Benjamin Harrison (1833 – 1901)
The 23rd President of the United States, 1889 – 1893
AKA: The Front Porch Campaigner, The Human Iceberg
College: Miami University (of Ohio)
Married to: Caroline Lavinia Scott
Children: Russell Benjamin and Mary “Mamie” Scott Harrison
Previous Jobs: Lawyer, City Attorney, Reporter for the Supreme Court of Indiana, Brigadier General, US Senator
In His Words: “”Come on, boys! We’ve never been licked yet, and we won’t begin now.” – at the battle of Peach Tree Creek.
“We Americans have no commission from God to police the world.”
“I knew that my staying up would not change the election result if I were defeated, while if elected I had a hard day ahead of me. So I thought a night’s rest was best in any event.”
“I pity the man who wants a coat so cheap that the man or woman who produces the cloth will starve in the process.”
Not true: His Great Grandfather was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and his Grandfather was President … but Benjamin Harrison was not born into a life of privilege. He grew up on a farm in Ohio with his father. His first school was a small log cabin, where he sat on seats made of planks with no backs, and so high that his feet did not touch the floor. He only attended school in the winter, as in the summer he had to work on the farm.
True: Although he could warmly engage a crowd with his speeches, he was cold and detached when speaking with people on an individual basis.
Benjamin Harrison had the White House wired for electricity, but he and his wife would not touch the switches for fear of electrocution. The frequently slept with the lights on.
Six new states were admitted to the Union during Harrison’s tenure: North Dakota (1889), South Dakota (1889), Montana (1889), Washington(1889), Idaho (1890) and Wyoming (1890).
Theodore Roosevelt called Harrison “a cold-blooded, narrow-minded, prejudiced, obstinate, timid old psalm-singing Indianapolis politician.”
Harrison was, regretfully, America’s last bearded president.
The Official Portrait: Eastman Johnson painted the official White House portrait of Benjamin Harrison in 1895. He also painted the official portrait of Grover Cleveland, who both preceded and succeeded Benjamin Harrison as President of the United States.
Johnson was a co-founder of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and is best known for his portrayals of everyday people.
This charcoal and chalk sketch on paper is owned by the National Portrait Gallery, and is thought to be an early working drawing for the painting that now hangs in the White House.
Big Mo: Benjamin Harrison