What I’m Eating – June 16

We saw the pop up tent too late two weeks ago, and thought we’d missed a culinary adventure. On a return to the Southside tonight for our kids’ culminating presentation at their Teen Ensemble program with Touchstone Theatre, they were back!

I know I’m getting ahead of myself. But when I see a poutine truck, I’m giddy as a school girl. My first taste of poutine was on our first family trip to Canada. It’s a simple, three ingredient dish that is perfect for a late-night-post-drinking-binge to soak up the evenings’ indulgences. Or a great afternoon-post-swimming-in-the-lake-all-day treat. Fresh cut French fried potatoes, beef gravy, and cheese curds.

Enter, a new to the Lehigh Valley food truck called “The Flying V.” The Bonn Brewery hosts them in the parking lot behind their establishment on Friday nights during the summer. You may not see it if you drive by the Bonn on Taylor Street. Since Morton street is a one way, better to get to this popup by taking 3rd street to Fillmore, turn south, then turn right onto Morton and find street parking nearby.

They’ve got their menu on chalkboards, and on table top menus inside the brewery. So many options of toppings, and a vegetarian option of a mushroom gravy. But true carnivores will appreciate their gravy made with a combination of beef bones, lamb shanks and chicken bones. Sure they could make a gravy with just beef, but these guys are purists – God bless their hearts!

Talking to the owners Matt and Christy, she’s a bonafide Canadian. Their popup can be found at local brew pubs around the Lehigh Valley. They post their location schedule on their Facebook page. So do what their sign says, and #JoinTheFlock by liking them on Facebook and Instagram. If you’re not close to Southside on Fridays, they’re at a handful of breweries around the LV. So worth the adventure of finding where they are.

So what’s peameal bacon? This is something you have to taste to really understand. It’s trimmed very lean, and smoked. You may think it’s “Canadian Bacon” and you’d be right. But it’s not that chewy slice of tasteless waste that you find in a drive through breakfast sandwich. Real peameal bacon adds a delicious smokiness to poutine.

We opted to have not toppings on our first try with this business in order to taste their gravy and test their cheese curds. Their gravy is rich and not over salted. The cheese curds are fresh and squeaky, and not over-melted so as to enjoy the most of the squeak. Did I already mention the fries are fresh cut?

Between the two of us, we had just enough time to enjoy a pint of Opus (American Amber Ale) and split a regular sized poutine. We were drooling like Homer Simpson and wishing we could enjoy one more pint. But the show starts on time, and we wouldn’t want to miss watching what those nutty kids.

As we were getting up to leave, I saw a stack of the Bethlehem Fig summer issues; released last Tuesday. Oh, and if you should happen to find a familiar face; it isn’t mine.

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What I’m Seeing – June 15

When you have a friend kind enough to tell you there’s something stuck in your teeth, you are grateful.

When you have a friend who on a spontaneous lunch date listens to your whining about not going on your planned trip to Wisconsin, and wondering what to do with the time now available…. and before you can even take a breath for yet another droning….

“Get a hair cut.”

I’ve been growing out a pixie cut. First, as a lesson to my daughter that hair always grows back. She’s not buying it – loves her hair long enough to sit on. Then as a dare – how long can I let it grow before I’m completely disgusted. Mostly because pixie maintenance had to move off the budget.

Well, my friend saved me an impending episode of morning revulsion. I was happy to make an appointment with the stylist I like so much, I’ll follow her to any salon. She practices reflective listening, and has always managed to style my hair in to a flattering adaptation of what I say to what actually fits my face. And she doesn’t try to get me to color my hair. She actually styles the gray highlights as a face framing feature.

The stylist took this picture. I can see how the back of my head has more grays than I’ve seen before. I like how evenly they are coming in. But with hair color turning as I age, I shouldn’t let myself go without some grooming for so long. Today I went from scraggly mess, to a bob.

Guess this means tomorrow I drink water at the office out of a fancier glass.

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Note: Let me know if you’d like the name of my stylist. She’s amazing.

What I’m Creating – June 14

What I’m Creating – June 14

I now have more time in the next six days than I would have had if I went to the reunion in Wisconsin. To fight the creeping feelings of regret, I’m going to make this weekend as purposeful as possible.

I’m going to take some time for self-care of the motherly kind. I’ll hack away at some built up reading and getting to inbox zero. And I’m going to investigate a few projects…

I’ve recently discovered an eBook that reviews task management techniques. It’s seems a good time to review how I can plan for work projects and my own business goals. I also found (yet) another planner that looks really interesting. It’s a combination of features I liked from three separate systems, and flexibility to move pages around. Of course I can’t recall the dang planner company, or the title of the eBook. I printed them out and left them in a bag that is not sitting right next to me. Otherwise, I’d share them.

Maybe. If I’m feeling generous, I’ll come back to the post and update this paragraph. Maybe. I’m on vacation, you know.

What I have time for now will not be wasted binge watching TV. Perhaps I’ll use this time to establish a morning routine that sticks. I figured since I’m nearly done with the 100 posts in 100 days challenge, I actually might stick to a new habit.

All of the “maximize productivity” articles I find suggest that you do that important thing in the morning before breakfast. But what if I want to exercise, do yoga, meditate, free write, practice bassoon, and walk the dog? That’s at least three hours of stuff. And if I want to do that before daily mass? I love Jesus, but I don’t think starting my day at 3:30am will set me up for success.

Yet, this is what is in my head every morning. If I miss any of these activities, I’m starting the day a failure. But if I get to mass – it’s amazing how much that makes me feel good about how I started the day. I just wish I could feel satisfied with the options of what I could do, instead of kicking myself for what I should do. And who’s standards are these anyway???

I guess this means that I’m either on my way to creating a routine, or creating a monster.

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What I’m thinking – June 13

I was supposed to be going to bed early tonight so I can get an early start to a road trip to reconnect with friends I haven’t seen in five years.

I was supposed to have an awesome time re-telling college stories, and visiting a place near and dear to my heart.

I was supposed to spend a couple of days with my mom before coming back to Bethlehem.

But my eyes aren’t supposed to float apart. So it means using the time to figure out how to pace the strain I put on my eyes to see if I can go a few more months before I finally give in to surgery.

One song keeps rolling around and around in my head for this moment:

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Albums & Ice Cream, 3rd edition – June 12

I’m finding inspiration for new music and books in traditional places; weekend reviews on television and radio, and recommendations from friends. CBS Saturday morning has two regular features that often inspire new music to explore (“Saturday Sessions”) and dining ideas from the segment, “The Dish.”

Anthony Mason is a great music reviewer/ interviewer. I’m so glad he’s on the air for these features that offer a slice of humanity to balance the political news. But this post isn’t a review of where I find ideas – it’s the 3rd installment of this summer’s blog series, “Albums & Ice Cream.”

On June 3, Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys was on the segment to perform a couple of tracks of his new solo album, “Waiting on a Song.” If you head over to the CBS This Morning – Saturday website and scroll down, you’ll find three songs performed, and an interview with Dan Auerbach about making his second solo album. If you’re a fan of the Black Keys, this interview offers a good perspective on why his solo albums sound different from the style of the Black Keys. As a producer, he’s showing a particular feel that’s more of his origin story. I tend to favor artists who produce their albums. They have more vision for the overall listening experience. Here is another interview from NPR in which he digs further into his ideas.

“Waiting on a Song” (the title track) has a good retro country/folk feel. Hard to listen to without having your foot join in. But the track that really got me interested in the album was “Shine on Me.” The opening line, “You only got a couple miles to go – if you’re trying to drive me insane.”

Listening to the album – which Steve already had downloaded on iTunes because he’s way more on top of the music scene than I am – the ice cream flavor that came to mind is salted caramel. Caramel is a warm flavor to me; and a little bit of salt (of the earth) rounds out the flavor so much that I don’t feel I can ever eat too much of this stuff.

I found this recipe on Epicurious. I swapped Kosher salt for the “flaky sea salt” in the recipe – it’s going to melt anyway. I also accidentally added all of the cream to the cooked sugar. But it didn’t harm the process.

I’m starting to learn a better time management for making and setting ice cream. It’s similar to letting bread dough proof. In order for the ice cream to set up well, it has to sit in the freezer for about four hours before I can serve it. After having the family taste the custard before I put it in the ice cream maker, we we’re patient enough for that long.

What was left the day after stayed soft in the freezer. I’m starting to build a sense for what kind of recipes might be more successful than others. I’m liking where this adventure is going.

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12ness – Theatre Review June 11

It’s been a weekend of enjoying more art “Made in Bethlehem.” Friday night at Godfrey Daniels, I was soaking in the “front porch” feel of good ol’ folk music by Tom and Betty Drunkenmiller with Norm Williams. It was a perfect night for some laid back classics and good stories. I was feeling a bit too much of a summer cold to enjoy any fun on Saturday (especially the Food Truck Boarder Brawl at ArtsQuest), but grateful to feel better to take in a play at the Ice House this afternoon.

Local theatre company, Crowded Kitchen Players premiered an original piece written by local playwright, Charlie Barnett. The play was directed by Selkie Theatre’s George Miller.

12ness is a play that recounts the historical relationship between two influential musicians, Arnold Schoenberg and George Gershwin. The play features wonderfully written dialogue that sounds as natural as if the audience were secretly transported in a time machine to 1937 Los Angeles.

The minimal sets, vintage costumes, and sound design also brought a touch of classic Hollywood that helped the audience sink back in time and get to know the characters even without too much “scholastic” knowledge.

I’ve studied lots of music history, required of my academic music degrees. But it’s not a requirement to know those details to thoroughly enjoy the relationship between the four characters. Yet, all of that knowledge that was crammed into my head for the doctoral comprehensive exams came leaking back to the front of my brain and I was able to catch most of the references to the number 12, and a few double reed jokes seemingly written with full knowledge of the quirky personalities that result from too much air pressure. (Reader, I play the bassoon.)

If you go, here would be my comments to put more context into some of the text:
  1. 12 tone composition (Dodecaphonic)  was designed by Arnold Schoenberg. Otherwise known as “serialism,” a method of composing where notes only relate to each other. 12 tone uses all of the half steps within the octave. Schoenberg came to this way of constructing music after sensing that traditional western harmonic structure had pretty much played itself out. Think about the really long lines of a Wagner theme, and you might understand how the listener can lose the sense of tonal center. It was highly intellectual music; order, form, and function of a serial application also extended to length of note, or sometimes dynamic.
  2. There is a reference to the word “atonal” in the play. Listeners might apply this word to serial / 12tone music in that there is no tonal center typical of western music, such as in the key of B-flat. That doesn’t mean there’s no “tone” to the music.
  3. George Gershwin was at the height of his career in 1937; the same year he died from a brain tumor.

In looking for some ideas for this review, I found this 1 minute comment about Gerswhin by Schoeberg himself. The video features a still image of Gershwin painting Schoenberg’s portrait. If you are so moved, stick around for the video that follows. It’s silent home movie shot by Gershwin, accompanied by Schoenberg’s String Quartet.

The play doesn’t just focus on music. The play also shows how they may have talked about art, the senses, and the creative process. If you ever wonder what artists might be thinking about the way they create, or how they perceive value of their work – this play is a fabulous conversation starter with friends.

12Ness runs for another weekend at the Bethlehem Charles Brown IceHouse, 56 River Street, near the Wooden Match or Artisan. Make a night of it with dinner at any of the lovely restaurants on Main street before hand. Performance begins at 8pm on Friday, June 16 and Saturday, June 17th. The final show is Sunday, June 18th at 2pm.

Notes for further inspiration:
  1. There have been a few academics who have presented research on the relationship between these two composers. This play offers an imagination into their conversations about art. What I found so wonderful, is that these kinds of conversations happen today. Robert Wyatt & John Johnson wrote a book, “The Gershwin Reader” that includes a chapter about this friendship. There happens to be copies of this book in the libraries of all six independent colleges in the Lehigh Valley. I think the next time I go strolling through the stacks, I’ll seek this out.
  2. There is a copy of “Shall We Dance” at the Bethlehem Public Library. I just might pull that one out for a spin.

What I’m Researching – June 10

The first time I went to the doctor to find out why I was seeing double, my GP sent me to a neurologist. In 2010, the initial tests were for neurological disorders. I knew from the beginning, I wasn’t experiencing MS symptoms; and I was a little mad that we weren’t looking at less invasive tests before we went down the path of medieval spinal taps. (No thank you)

So I let it go for two years, until my work was severely challenged. I was driving many miles back and forth to Harrisburg for a fellowship in educational leadership. While the road became familiar, double vision isn’t fun in construction zones. So back to the doctor. This time, my husband suggested I see an ophthalmologist. He has to see one regularly for his MS.

Besides a pretty snarky bedside manner, I liked this guy. He diagnosed me with strabismus and gave me a prism clip to attach to my glasses to see if that would pull my eye back into alignment. It looked a little steampunk. I only clipped it on when I was alone in my office or in rehearsals. As much as I’ve been trained to keep looking at the conductor, I only want to see one of them.

In the last four years, I’ve had to increase the prism of my prescription three times. Each time, keeping with the same frames because my script is pretty pricey. I found out this week, that there’s no more prism increase for my shifting eyes. Surgery is the next step.

The procedure is common. Once he sees the condition of the muscles that are supposed to hold my eye in balance with the other eye, he would decide whether to weaken one muscle, or tighten the other. It would mean a week of recovery, and my eye will hurt, be bloody, and probably look like I was in a fight. Or worse, if the surgery goes wrong, I could end up looking like Marty Feldman. Which may be a blessing in disguise if I want to change careers and become a comic…

I thought the migraines were from weather changes. Turns out, I read more when it’s raining out. I also wear out my eyes with reed making, computer work, and writing. The reason I feel so much better when I cook is that it gives my eyes a break from close-up examination.

Next step is to determine the out of pocket expense. And how where I can find sparkles to bedazzle my eye patch! See gallery for some ideas I’ve found so far…

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