An era draws to a close

5 Sep

On June 8th I said to my Mom, within her physical earshot, one last time that I love her. I think she could hear me, and understood what I said, even though she could not respond. I told her it was okay to let go of this life— to remember all the people she loves, the sights, smells and textures she adores, to think of them as she left this plane to embark on another journey elsewhere.

She fought it for a time- is that the state to which Dylan Thomas was referring  to when he penned, “Do not go gentle into that good night?” Mom then settled into a state of peace and slipped quietly from this earth during the early pre-dawn hours. I  felt her spirit leave. A nursing assist did as well. She opened the room’s door and poked her head in just as I tried to find a pulse on Mom’s ankle.

The hospital sent a dripping wet-behind-the-ears intern to pronounce Mom as deceased. He did not appear to be old enough to shave. He could barely talk above a whisper as he looked at Mom’s shell, and was so close to tears as he offered up his condolences. After the poor kid left, my sister and I decided the staff  “threw him under the bus” as we hugged each other and cried. I can’t quite see the creepy chills he experienced in my mind’s eye any more, but I still feel them.

When we held Mom’s service, I watched a swallowtail butterfly flit and flutter in the green belt that served as a back drop behind the service podium. I thought the butterfly had an unprecidented interest in Mom’s service. I decided that it was a sign from Mom that she was there in spirit. Ironically, I’ve  seen more swallowtail butterflies this summer than I ever have in my whole life.

Bass-Head Happiness Entry: The Ox

31 Mar

If you are a dedicated bass-head, you know exactly who The Ox is. John Entwistle, long-time bassist for The Who, earned this nickname by by being the strong, mostly silent, party guy. He could out eat and drink most of the guys on the scene, among other things. John also became known as “Thunderfingers,” because of how he calmly stood still on stage while his fingers plucked the bejesus out of the bass strings.

Unfortunately, The Ox lost during his last great round and died June 27, 2002, the day before The Who’s first show of their 2002 tour. That day the world lost an incredible musician. Not only did John pioneer a new way to play the bass, and help create an iconic on-stage sound, he was an accomplished trumpet, french horn and piano player.

I love to watch this video, recorded two years before John’s death. While the quality is not top-notch, it gives the viewer a unique, bird’s eye view of those “Thunderfingers” and all the different techniques he used to create his sound.

Prepping: What Shape is Your Emergency Water Storage In?

28 Mar


When was the last time you checked your emergency water supply? Or is a more appropriate question, “Do you have an emergency water supply?”

Water is a basic necessity of life. During an emergency it can be difficult to come by, as we’ve witnessed with the recent earthquake natural disaster in Japan. If it’s been a while since you’ve checked your water supply, check it. If you haven’t started a water stash, start one.

Water should be rotated about every six months. Do I do that— unfortunately no, to date. Today I went through my emergency water storage and refilled the bottles, plus wiped them clean of any dust. I added my fill date on the caps with a dry erase marker. Any of the purchased drinking water I had that was out of date I poured out. The plastic containers of most purchased drinking water degrade at a faster rate than pop and juice bottles.

Most food grade plastic bottles can be used to store water (NOTE: do not use milk jugs for emergency water storage— there is no way to reliably remove all the milk proteins and fats from the container, which can contaminate the water). Saving 2 liter soda bottles, juice bottles, and sports drink bottles, and cleaning them, is a great way to establish or grow your water stash. Clean the bottles with hot, soapy water and rinse with hot water. Let the bottles air dry. Some people like to sterilize the bottles with a weak bleach solution (1 tsp of bleach in a quart of water). In all I’ve read, there’s two camps regarding whether to add bleach to the stored water. Bleach is added to our city’s tap water, so I chose to not add bleach to the water when filling storage bottles.

It’s also a good idea to store a bottle of bleach and a clean medicine dropper (or measuring teaspoons) with your emergency water storage. If you have to use that water, it’s advisable to treat the water with chlorine bleach, containing 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite, prior to drinking it. Make sure the bleach does not have added scents or detergents in it.

The basic formula for adding bleach to sanitize water: 4 drops per quart/liter; 8 drops (1/8 tsp) 2-quart, 2-liter, or ½ gallon container of water; 16 drops bleach (1/4 teaspoon) per gallon or 4-liter container of water.

Now, most juice containers only print the fluid ounces the bottle will hold. It takes 128 fluid ounces to make a gallon. So, two 64 fluid ounce bottles will equal a gallon. Two liter bottles contain a little over 67 fluid ounces, so two 2-liter bottles will make a little more than a gallon. Why is this important to know?

The standard suggestion for emergency water storage is to plan for 1 gallon of water per person per day.

As you build up your water storage, by keeping track of how many gallons of water you have on hand you will know how many days’ worth of water you have stored for each person in your household.

Do you need to rotate your emergency water stash? Do you rotate it every 6 months? If so, how do you remind yourself to do so? I’d love to hear from you. Use the comment section below.

Photo Courtesy of Piyaphon l

Bass-Head Happiness Entry: Hall of the Mountain King

23 Mar

NOTE: Poopy-head powers-that-be-at-youtube pulled the vid for watching here. You can follow the link if you so choose. Or just go to youtube and search for Apocalyptica, Hall of the Mountain King.

Okay, cellos are not basses, but they are amazing. Plus, cellos are on the lower end of the musical scale. Shirtless men, not hard on the eyes, playing incredible classical music with a metal edge— Double win! And…Hall of the Mountain King is one of my favorite classical pieces.

The band in this video is Apocalyptica. Their sound is created by three cellists and a drummer. Can they play or what?

They’ve been around awhile (~1993). Their debut album centered on Metallica covers. During the years, Apocalyptica has worked with a variety of guest artists, including Corey Taylor (Slipknot and Stone Sour), Till Lindemann (Rammstein), Gavin Rossdale (Bush) and Adam Gontier (Three Days Grace).

If you are a bass-head, listen to more Apocalyptica. You won’t be disappointed.

Let’s Yak About Art: Jesse Higman

18 Mar

To be honest, this installment of Let’s Yak About Art has been rolling around in my head for several months. I was fortunate enough to attend the gallery opening of Jesse Higman‘s Illuvium exhibit back in December. While the gallery, Vermillion, was intimate, the transformation of the space to best highlight Higman’s work was breath-taking. I’ll let the video speak for the gallery itself. His art work— luscious, mineral, organic— and more specifically, the process of their creation, spoke to me. It marries the fundamental human need to plan, configure, plot and build with the beautiful reality of chaos and surprise we are thankfully blessed with.

Each Illuvium painting started as a flat piece of black masonite. The basic flat nature of the masonite is shaped on a specially designed “table” where hills are created by raised area, and valleys are made by weighted objects below the table, further transforming the masonite. A hole is often drilled in the masonite “canvas” for the flowing paint, diluted acrylic paint mixed with mica flakes, to escape.

The word Illuvium refers to the material accumulated through the illuviation process, which is where soil particles flushed out from one layer build up in another layer. Illuvium is created through the culmination of the painting process Higman uses to lay paint onto his formed boards. The lion’s share of the creative process goes into designing how the masonite will be formed on the table, to create the hills and swales the paint will flow over to reach its escape hatch. When he finally reaches the pour stage, he has one shot to let the paint flow, settle, drain and dry, which takes approximately 15 minutes. He’s found that double pouring the paint destroys the energy of the work, like cancer eats away at healthy cells.

As you peruse the paintings of the Illuvium exhibit, you’ll notice the color spectrum used is pretty specific. Blues, white, reds, yellow and orange make up most of the color. The exhibit’s paintings further fall into organic classes: animal, cellular, mineral, theoretical. I enjoyed his nod to Goya in Saturn Devouring His Children. The layout of each canvas, in my opinion, is an eco-system reacting with the masonite, the flow the paint traveled, where the hole(s) are located, the way light hits the mica flakes and the background the artwork hangs on. It may not be as noticeable in the photos but the organic nature of each work is palpable. It really comes alive when you have the chance to see one of Higman’s paintings in person.

It’s interesting that the organic relationship within an Illuvium painting is so striking, because Higman’s pouring process is often communal in nature. Here’s a quote from curator Leanne Mella, regarding his Illuvium work featured in the June 2010 Smithsonian show Revealing Culture,

“Higman’s work, with its communitarian and convivial ethos, exhibits many of the tendencies associated with Relational Aesthetics, a theory of art practices that takes the whole of human relations and social context into consideration as a point of departure for the production and presentation of the work of art.”

My favorite painting featured in the Vermillion exhibit was M Theory. My camera phone photo (to the right) does not do the painting justice, but I love to look at it anyway because it includes Jesse’s words about the painting. Named for Edward Witten‘s “M” Theory, I was drawn to the painting’s multi-dimensional feel. “M” theory is a type of string theory, both identifying 11 dimensions and trying to unify five string theories. Most of it is over my head, but the ripples and layered feel, with a peep at the subsequent layers of dimension, draws me in each time I look at it.

You may be familiar with some of Higman’s work already. If you were a fan of Seattle’s grunge scene of the 90s, or have toured the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, you may have come across Higman’s art. His Illuvium art has been projected over the Seattle Symphony at Beneroya Hall. He is also an accomplished photographer.

To top it all off, this immensely high-energy, creative talent is wrapped up in the most kind, curious soul. Like Witten’s “M” Theory, Jesse Higman is multi-dimensional and difficult to capture adequately. In trying to wrap my mind around his artistic thought process, and his paintings’ lifeforce, the mental and psychological exercises I go through definitely stretch me. It’s is overwhelmingly worthwhile. Go ahead, give it a try. It is definitely worth the effort, even if a conclusion eludes you, as it has me. Maybe that’s the point.

Bass-Head Happiness Entry: To Defy the Laws of Tradition

17 Mar

Primus, one of my favorite bands, playing my favorite Primus song. Unique, radio room recording of To Defy the Laws of Tradition. You bass-heads out there, what is your favorite Primus song?

A Little Toasty Goodwill

16 Mar

The other day it was incredibly moist. The sky opened up and wept. Rain drop tears cascaded out of miserable gray clouds, soaking everything below. Cold, moist, uncomfortable. Harrumph.

To warm things up a bit, I turned on the oven and baked. Made me some luverly scones, tiny morsels of melty goodness to cheer my damp soul. The original recipe is courtesy of Karina, master-mind behind gluten-free goddess. I made some changes (as always) to accommodate what I had in the pantry, plus for personal taste. Details below, in case you are in need of a little toasty good will.

Cinnamon-Raisin-Dark Chocolate Scones
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  • 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1/2 cup Hodgsin’s GF Pancake Mix
  • 1/2 cup plain potato flakes
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour (note: buckwheat is completely GF, not any form of wheat)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp guar gum
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground clove
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • Cut in with a pastry cutter or two butter knives:

  • 4 tbsp Butter
  • Add in and beat to mix:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 + 1/8 cup lite coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons bourbon vanilla
  • Note: if the batter is still too dry, add in small amounts of coconut milk until you have a stiff, but not sticky, dough

    Add in for some va-va-voom:

    organic raisins and dark chocolate chips, enough to fill 2/3 cup measuring cup.

    Stir the dough to distribute them— dough will be stiff.

    Divide the dough into eight equal parts. Place the eight parts of dough on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet and pat them into rounded shapes. You can be strict and uniform or pat away free form (notice in the photo, I went the free form route).

    Place the baking sheet in the center of a preheated oven (350 degrees) and bake the scones for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, until they are set and slightly golden (baking times may vary depending upon the size / thickness of the dough).

    Serve warm from the oven. You might want to spread a little butter and/or jam them.

    Makes 8 scones.


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