Wednesday, October 29, 2008


So I'm trying to decide whether or not today was a good day. As you may know, every decision in my life involves lists. Let's take a moment to compare:

Today Sucked, Winter Sucks, Ohio Sucks, and School Also Sucks (and I Hope Tomorrow Is Better, Though I doubt it):
-It snained, slushed, and hit me with ice balls. And it's cold. And grey.
-I lost my ID card and keys.
-Five minutes before class I remembered to do my Aural Skills homework.
-Music Theory and Aural Skills. Must we really? 9 semesters? Really?
-I have way too much to do and I'm stressed out.
-Freshmen Composition Module Concert.
-I'm nervous about a favor I agreed to do for a friend that involves me being hypnotized in a circus show.
-I didn't get to go to the lecture I really wanted to go to on the neurobiology of decision making.

Today Was Awesome! I Love Going to Oberlin, it's So Pretty and Everyone is So Nice! WOoh Exclamation Points!!1!1!one!!
-Sara found my ID card and keys and gave them back to me.
-Freshmen Composition Module Concert (Eugene played Graham's piece)
-I put together my Halloween costume: I'm going to be a Southern Belle! (I think the fact that I'm just wearing the clothes I wore on Derby day last year/what I wear to every contra dance undermines my protests when Graham and Eugene point out that I am already a Southern Belle.)
-The theatre department had a costume sale.
-I got a package from home! Containing: love. (Also a "Someone in Louisville Loves Me" t-shirt, and candy/baking supplies)
-I have a pumpkin to carve tomorrow!
-Swing Class was awesome, we learned the "rock-step down clap step step snap ba-dum."

When I first wrote these lists, right after aural skills, I was going to conclude that the only conclusions I can draw here are that I am too busy. I've since decided that today was an wonderful day. This is because I am now factoring in some pretty awesome wild cards.

Reasons Why No Matter What Goes Wrong It's All Right:

To my family back home: Hope things are going well, I miss you, don't worry I'll call soon,

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Smug Blue Rooster

Last night I met a beautiful Spaniard. Santiago was his name, and I shall never forget his eyes: dark, mysterious- and wide with fear and surprise.

You see I- uh- well... I threw a shoe at him.

It was an accident! I was dancing with the tall red-bearded fellow who always lifts me in the air when we swing, and my shoes kept falling off. I had 2 1/2 beats between my do-si-do and balance-and-swing. I'd planned it during the last allemande: in the next free moment I would gently kick off my shoes to the side of the set and dance the rest barefoot.

No sweat.

Of course anyone who knows me knows I rarely do anything "gently." The thud with which the second shoe hit the wall (three feet from Santiago's beautiful head and about 15 feet from the other shoe) was startlingly audible over the 13 piece band, 60 dancing people's stomps, and frequent raucous "yee-haws!" As Red-Beard lifted me off the ground he laughingly remarked that he'd never had a partner try and kill anyone in the middle of a dance before.

My flush at that moment cannot be attributed entirely to the exercise.

The "kicker" was getting the shoes back. The first was in a corner by the door. The second posed more of a challenge. I made brief eye-contact with my near-victim as I bent to pick up my worn out red flat. Keren is of the oppinion that the next thing I said to Santiago-the-beautiful-spaniard qualifies as a pick-up line. I disagree. You be the judge.

"Sorry about that. You know, I promise I didn't throw a shoe at you to ask you to dance but...would you like to dance?"

That's totally not a pick-up line. Right? Right?!

So we danced. Either Mr. Beautiful-Eyes was traumatized by his near-disfigurement, he has a jealous girlfriend he doesn't want to cross, or he's just naturally very shy (hence his position in a chair in the path of my shoe). Regardless, he was quiet through the last dance, and we ended the night with a rather tame but well coordinated swing.

I laughed all the way home.


Today I saw a terrible painting by a wonderful painter. The proportions were off, the brushstrokes haphazard, the eyes looked creepily asymmetrical, inhuman and cold, and the light was confusing. My primary reaction: inspiration. If Mary Cassatt, one of my favorite painters, can produce something like this, then I figure it's ok when my paintings are terrible.

I went to the SPEED museum with my mom today. Did you know we have a Chagall there? It's pretty cool too, with the characteristic bright yellow cow, smug blue rooster, and busty bride floating over a red and purple village clutching bright yellow and red flowers. I've never seen a Chagall in anything but books before, and I kinda expected the paint to have more texture. The strokes seemed meticulous and deliberate, not at all what I was expecting. There was also a Cezanne still life of (what else) apples, some Matisse line prints (naked women), a Monet view of a cathedral in Normandy, and a beautiful still life of peaches and raspberries that made me so hungry I had to leave. Overall a successful trip.

Only two more days till I go to California!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Today I did not write any papers. I did not work, and I did not make any effort to look nice. I did not go anywhere, I did not put on shoes, and I did not get up early.

I did, however:
  • sleep in
  • wear my ratty (read: well loved) multicolored, funny-collared paint smock with entertaining silver snaps
  • play bass
  • eat black raspberry chip ice cream
  • wipe Prussian Blue and Yellow Ochre on my legs and smock

Did I mention the part where I LOVE SUMMER?

12x16, Acrylics, fingerpaint + brushes
7x9, acrylics
(for Eugene)
Calm Before The Storm
7x9, acrylics

Monday, August 4, 2008


I’m haphazard about most things, but when it comes to choosing books I am meticulous to the point of obsession. When I go to the bookstore with my mother, she knows me well enough to plan for more hours than seem sensible, and when the critical decision has been made I can always find her patiently engulfed in one of the overstuffed chairs in the history section. For all my careful combing through summaries and frustrated flips through first chapters, though, it seems that somehow the book I need to read always finds me when I need to read it. It’s a very rare favorite that finds me by my own careful choosing. The latest in this string of necessary books only ended up on my bedside table because as I halfheartedly meandered through the overflowing aisle of Book and Music Exchange I happened to see sparkles on the spine (and happened to be intrigued by sparkles, and happened to be feeling impulsive).

The title of the following list was going to be Books That I Needed to Read, Which You Might Also Enjoy For Your Own Personal Reasons, which is a really terrible title and too long anyways. Besides, once I made the list, it was clearly a list of-

Books to Empower (anger, touch, and ignite) Young and Old Women:
  • The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
  • The Secret Garden, by Frances Burnett
  • Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
  • Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (whoever borrowed that from me, I want it back)
  • Little Women, Louisa May Alcott
  • Girl With the Pearl Earring, Tracy Chevalier (also Virgin Blue and The Lady and the Unicorn)
  • The Painted Kiss, by Elizabeth Hickey-the book that inspired this blog and list. It details the affair of Gustav Klimt (who painted The Kiss and Judith and the Head of Holofernes) and Emilie Floge, as Emilie grows from a naïve young art student to one of the most important independent women in Europe. I’m not done yet. If the ending’s terrible, this entry will be edited. (The ending was a little anticlimactic, but it's still a good read. That's the problem with historical novels I suppose: you already know the ending.)

Please add to, rip apart, and denounce this list in comments, and as always, I'm thinking of you.

Panna Cotta*
(Inspired by St. Antons near the convent in Arrezzo)

3 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
4 cups heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
(or approx. 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)
1/2 cup sugar
Mixed berries

Satin Chocolate Sauce:
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup hot water

In a small bowl, combine the water and gelatin and let soak about 10 minutes (don't stir). Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat the cream, vanilla and sugar to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. As soon as it simmers, turn off the heat and add the gelatin mixture, stirring to dissolve the gelatin. (If the gelatin doesn't completely dissolve after awhile, return the mixture to the heat and warm gently until dissolved.) Pour the mixture into 6 to 8 dessert cups (or muffin cups in a muffin pan..a muffin pan, a muffin pan).
(If you want honey almond panna cotta, fill the bottom of the cups with honey before adding the cream and chilling. The honey ones stay together better if you chill them longer, maybe overnight)

Chill, uncovered, 2 hours.

Satin Chocolate Sauce: In the top half of a double boiler, combine the 2 chocolates over simmering water. Stir constantly until melted, then whisk in the syrup and water without removing the double boiler from the heat. Whisk until smooth and shiny. The sauce can be made up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated. To rewarm, stir over low heat or heat in a microwave.

To serve , dip the cups in hot water for 10 seconds, then turn the panna cottas out onto dessert plates (or, serve in the cups). Arrange the berries on top and drizzle with the chocolate sauce.

(option: instead of the chocolate sauce put two tsp honey in the bottom of each mold before adding the cream and refrigerating, then top with honey and toasted chopped hazelnuts or almonds.)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

La Cucina di Paola

As I mentioned, in Arezzo I lived with the foxy babes in the nunnery. Of course, I love my convent girls, and I'm not implying that I don't. But listen to this: my friend Marcelo lived with an Italian family near the train station. Marcelo liked to complain about the fact that, living with this family, he did not get to eat out with the group very often- because the mother cooked traditional Italian breakfast and dinner in the house for him. Every day. From scratch.

Obviously at that point I took Marcelo's drink and biscotti from him. Then I told him about the convent.

He didn't complain about his living arrangements any more after that.

He did, however, bring me to dinner one evening. That was when I met Paola, Goddess of Kitchens and Sass.

From the confident slant of her hips as she proffered the serving bowl, to the grin which met the moans of pleasure at her mushroom penne in wine sauce, it was evident that Paola was a woman who knew exactly how to wield her feminine power, and did. She quickly arranged everyone at the table to her liking and decided who would have the privilege of fetching the bread with the cool nonchalance of someone used to being obeyed. When she entered the room I no longer wondered at the boldly colored modern art prints, the safari patterned pillows and strange trinkets dancing along her shelves. In fact, my only question at that moment, which I have no shame in relaying was: 'how do I become this woman.'

Step 1: Cook Like a Goddess
It was surprisingly easy to get Paola to reveal her culinary secrets to me. I shyly asked after her recipe for ragu, which, if the raptures with which Marcelo described it are any indication, is more than edible. (the recipe is included in the list below) Once she started rolling, excitement building as she shared her passion, there was no stopping her. Her daughters were sent running in and out of the kitchen, not for recipe books, since everything was streaming straight out of Paola's head, but for the italian-english dictionary. The rest of the table never had their mouths empty long enough to throw more than the shortest affirmatives on the exchange.

Many minutes, a writing cramp, and several flips through the dictionary later, I was left with these fine gems of the culinary arts, scrawled and heavily corrected in my Italian notebook. I now present them to you, so that you too can make offering to Paola at her stovetop alter.

*stars (and suggestions) denote recipes I've tested since returning to the states. Untested recipes have notes.

If you figure out how to put these recipes in the post so you click on the post if you want to see them and everyone else doesn't have to scroll, drop me an email or comment here. Also, if you try any of the recipes in this blog I'd love it if you'd comment and tell me how it worked, and if you did anything different with it. Happy Cooking!

Fettuccini Alfredo*

18 ounces fresh fettuccine
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
12 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups grated Parmesan
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
ground nutmeg to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, and drain.

Stir 2 cups of the cream and the lemon juice in a heavy large skillet to blend. Add the butter and cook over medium heat just until the butter melts, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Add the pasta and toss. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of cream, and Parmesan to the cream sauce in the skillet. Add the lemon zest, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Toss the pasta mixture over low heat until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute.

Optional: Saute veggies in butter and toss with pasta before serving. Maybe sweet snap peas, asparagus, or peppers.


8, with yolks and whites separated
1/3 cup sugar
1 pound mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups cooled espresso
2/3 cup brandy (or rum)
30 lady fingers
2 ounces grated bittersweet chocolate
cocoa powder

Mix the sugar into the egg yolks. Add a little mascarpone at a time to the egg yolk mixture, and mix until smooth. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Set this aside as well.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. (start whipping on high right away, else the eggs won't form peaks no matter what you do)

Fold the whipped cream into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the beaten egg whites.

Put the espresso and alcohol in a bowl so you can dip the lady fingers.

If you want, you can layer the cream in the bottom first. Paola likes to put the lady fingers in first though, cause it's prettier. So, dip the ladyfingers in the espresso/alcohol mix, (quickly so they're coated but not soggy!). Layer them on the bottom of the pan, and sread the cream on top. repeat until you have as many layers as you want with cream on top. Top with grated chocolate and cocoa power. Enjoy.
Basil and Pine Nut Pesto*

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino cheese, or Parmesan

Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in cheese.
(options: substitute some fresh tarragon for some of the basil, by preference.)

Tomato-Basil Bruschetta*
(not from Paola's kitchen, but keeping with her almost reverent attitude towards fresh basil)

1 (32-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained
1 cup fresh basil leaves, washed and spun dry
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled, plus a couple more
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large French baquettes, sliced 1-inch thick (about 36 slices)
1 1/2 pounds fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In the bowl of a food processor, add drained tomatoes, 1 cup basil leaves, olive oil and 2 cloves garlic. Pulse until smooth, but somewhat chunky. Season with salt and pepper.

On a baking sheet, line up baguette slices. Toast in oven until light golden brown. Remove from oven and rub peeled garlic cloves on the toasted side of each slice, then lay a piece of mozzarella on top. Place bread back in oven and melt cheese slightly. Remove from oven and spread one tablespoon of the tomato mixture on each piece.

Paola's Famous Ragu (untested, but heartily and unanimously recommended by all at Paola's table)

1 lb sausage
1 lb ground beef
olive oil
whole garlic cloves
(optional thinly sliced carrots and celery)

Cook the olive oil, garlic, and carrots in a pan for about 2-3 minutes. add the meat and cook until brown.

Boil water, drop in 6 whole tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.

Take the tomatoes out and remove the skin. Slice, and add to the meat.

Add fresh basil and salt/pepper to taste.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Check Your Neck

Our numbers are growing. The first time I went, I was rather shy about the whole thing, but was put at ease when I saw a friend from high school there. The next week, a few more trickled in, and word started to spread. When people began bringing their families, that's when the whole thing really took hold. I'm optimistic about this summer's initiates, and I think our the group will continue to grow and take in new members.

No, I have not joined a cult. It's even better than that. I am now one of the few folks in town who plan the week around Monday nights, own more than three garmets made predominately of crinoline, and shop for dresses based on twirl circumference. I am a Louisville Country Dancer (see also: SUPERCOOL).

MONDAY NIGHTS-contra dancing, with live music, live callers, and *twirling*
7:30 beginner lessons 8:00-11(ish) dance
Church of the Advent on Baxter (near Bardstown Rd)

(I hear you get a +10 circumstance bonus to Cool every time you do-si-do)

I'm rediscovering the charms of Louisville (Also, the charms of a to-do list that includes napping). It really is a beautiful city. I didn't realize that until I left, I think. I've been reconnecting with my friends from high school, and spending a lot of time with my wonderfully crazy family (mostly cause they feed me). This weekend my whole family, cousins, aunts, uncles, and Grammy included, are going out to Cumberland Falls. Agenda for the weekend includes:
-catching lightning bugs, (and covertly handing them to my mother by getting her to "hold this for me")
-telling campfire stories (that make my brother easier to frighten later in the night)
-eating s'mores till there is chocolate all over my face
-convincing my youngest female cousin that she snores louder than any of the dads
-making up our own constellations and telling stories about them
-making sure mom is not so distracted watching birds that she walks off a cliff
-stockpiling memories to last through Fall semester.

In other news:

Daniel's home, finally. Because his nicknames at GSP included Heart-Throbb Lobb, and his facebook now consists of 500 pictures of him and "some girl" grinning at the camera, I've taken it as my solemn duty to call him "squirt" and ruffle his hair as much as possible. He loves it. Amazingly, despite the fandom he's gathered because of his music and stunning good looks (it runs in the family), he's returned home without the huge ego you would expect in a 17 year old heart-throb. He even let his dumpy old sister take him out for brunch! He's written some new very creative songs that would be a pleasure to listen to even if I didn't get to say "that's my brother!" Still, I can't help it if a little irony leaks into my voice when I suggest that you "check out his MySpace."

From August 15th to the 21st I'm going to be an honorary dudette in the surf capital of the world, Santa Cruz, California! I'm visiting my Oberlin friends, Graham and Eugene. Oh, and I get to hang out on the beach and go to San Francisco. You know, everyday stuff....Ok, not gonna lie, I'M SO STOKED! Or is that "I'm hella psyched, dude!"? I'm also hoping to get some surf lessons while I'm there, although Daniel has prepped me not to be dissappointed if I fail spectacularly. He seems to doubt my natural grace. Considering my agility walking and remaining upright on solid ground, and my love of rocking boats and churning waves, I'm sure I will have no problem balancing on a moving board that looks, to great white sharks, like a plump seal. Yeah I know, you don't need to give me that look. There's a bet involved, is part of it. Also, though, I'd like to give it a try. It seems as "california" as hippies and avocados, and I want to say I got the full experience.

Anything else I should try to do in the San Francisco/Santa Cruz area?

I promise I'm going to post some Italy stories soon, I just haven't gotten around to it yet. And no JeNie, it's not because I'm figuring out which parts to tell you about, either. At least, that's not all of it (jk, mom).

Give yourselves big hugs from me, and give me a call if you're in town,


Contributed by Mr. Jeff Foxworthy:

You Might Be a Redneck If....

. . . on Thanksgiving Day you have to decide which pet to eat.

. . . your idea of high-quality entertainment is a six-pack and a bug-zapper.

. . . you think the last words to The Star Spangled Banner are “Gentlemen, start your engines.”

. . . you’ve ever been to a wedding reception at the Waffle House.

. . . your dog has ever brought home something that you cooked for dinner.

. . . you’ve ever hollered, “Rock the house, Bubba!” during a piano recital.

. . . your kids’ favorite bedtime story is “Curious George and the High Voltage Fence.”

. . . your favorite restaurant has a gas pump in front and the word “eats” anywhere in the name.

. . . your baby’s crib mobile is made out of beer cans.

. . . your wife has a set of earrings that you use as a fishing lure.

. . . your chili’s secret ingredient comes from a bait shop.

. . . there is more carpet on your toilet than on your floors.

. . . your mailing address includes the word “holler.”

. . . your favorite fishing lure is TNT.

. . . you tell Grandpa he has something in his teeth and he takes them out to see.

. . . there is a trophy in your house with the word “spitting” on it.

. . . you think the stock market has a fence around it.

. . . your flashlight holds more than four batteries.

. . . you own a flamingo with buckshot holes in it.

. . . your favorite mixed drink includes Yoo-Hoo.

. . . there are four pairs of pants and two squirrels hanging from your clothesline.

. . . your local newspaper has a front-page feature called “Cow of the Week.”

. . . you’ve ever committed a crime with a lawn mower.

. . . your bridal veil was made of window screen.

. . . your favorite cologne is Deep Woods Off.

. . . you think safe sex means putting on the emergency brake.

. . . you use old auto parts as a boat anchor.

. . . you have an above ground pool and you fish in it.

. . . your doghouse and your living room both have the same shag carpet.

. . . you think fast food is hitting a deer at 65 mph.

. . . you save cooking grease in a coffee can.

. . . you have ever tried to use food stamps to mail a watermelon.

. . . your spring wardrobe mostly involves using scissors.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Good Stuff.

(What I'm about to say is going to sound incriminating, so let me premise it with: I was making tiramisu.)

So I was cleaning out Dad's liqueur cabinet last night, looking for brandy, when I found a very curious artifact. It stands about 1 1/5 feet tall, fat and practical, with murky green glass dirty with dust and handprints. When I hold it to the light, I can make out the dark outline of more than a gallon (but about half capacity) of liquid. The red screw-on cap still has an orange clearance tag on it ($14.40), and agrees with the brittle paper label that this is a jug of "soft red wine." I'm more inclined to believe the second label, however, which is handwritten (Nana's writing?) on masking tape. It says only "Good Stuff, 2-10-00."

I feel like the punchline to one of those "you might be a redneck if..." jokes.

After a cautious whiff (my sinuses are now clear) I believe the Good Stuff is either straight bourbon whiskey cured in somebodies basement, or pure Kentucky moonshine. I don't know why, but this strikes me as very funny. Every time I look at the jug (now proudly displayed on the kitchen table) I giggle a little bit. Not sure which is funnier, the fact that we have such a jug, or the fact that we don't have half its contents.

I know I've been terrible about posting. I'm gonna catch up, I swear! After all, I haven't got much better to do. Not that I'm bored! You know I love being home. It's just not as active as I'm used to being in Obieland. Anyways, yes, expect updates soon, one with Italy stories, and one with "since I've been home" stories (most of which involve dancing and food).

Briefly Since I've Been Home:

My brother has called a few times. I think I can count on my fingers the sentences we've exchanged. He's perfected the "hi-gotta go" routine to a T. He seems to be having a blast though. He's taking astronomy and some class about Bob Dylan and activism in the 60s. If we gave him the choice, I don't know if he'd ever come home. Fortunately, I'm not giving him a choice. I'll be there that last Friday, whether he likes it or not, and we're getting pie, damnit!

"Long lines, go forward and back, swing your partner on the side of the set!"
Music to this girls ears, such wonderful words had not been spoken to me for six weeks, can you believe it?! Apparently they don't contra dance much in Italy. Go figure. Since I've been home, I've been seizing every opportunity to get dizzy and wear out the soles of my shoes.

New Recipes for alfredo sauce (with nutmeg and lemon), tiramisu, tomato-basil-garlic bruschetta, and Ragu to be posted soon!

I miss you.


"Nonsense, you don't miss me. You just miss my Derby pie, is all."

Derby Pie
Preheat oven to 325
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. flour
2 eggs
1 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 c. pecans
1 bag semi-sweet chips
Pour into crust.
Bake approximately 45 minutes, until it's just starting to turn golden brown, and there's a nice sugary buttery crust on top. (To keep the crust from burning you can cover the pie with a foil pie dish with a mug-size circle cut out the center.)

(yeah, it really is that easy. I'm holding my chili recipe though.)

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The All Important Food Post

Gelato Flavors I’ve Tried So Far:
• Pistachio
• Coffee
• Mint chocolate
• strawberry
• peach
• apricot/pear
• nutella
• cherry
• chocolate
• tiramisu
• hazelnut
• lemon
• yogurt

Favorite Flavors:
• pistachio
• coffee
• mint chocolate
• strawberry
• peach
• apricot/pear
• nutella
• cherry
• chocolate
• tiramisu
• hazelnut
• lemon
• yogurt

I’m mostly kidding. Pistachio, coffee, nutella, lemon, hazelnut, peach, and apricot/pear are the best so far.

To Try Next:
• Raspberry
• Banana
• Caramel chocolate
• Orange
• Blackberry
• Vanilla

The best gelaterio in Arezzo is on the corner about two blocks from the train station. In addition to supplying possibly the most delicious dessert I’ve ever put in my mouth, the people who work there are wonderfully kind and patient. The man who owns the shop knows us now, and is coming to our concerts! Sometimes he refuses to take money for the gelato, just smiling and shaking his head. He doesn’t seem to mind ugly Americans hanging around his store.

Subjects Unrelated to Food:

I have a bass now! It’s a pretty nice bass, too. It’s carved and has a rich sound, even though it’s brighter than my bass at home. The action’s really high, but I figure that will be like practicing baseball with a donut on your bat. You know those weights you put around the end of your bat to swing, and then when you take it off in the game your swing is so much stronger? Maybe my hands will be stronger when I get back to the states? Hopefully? Please? Anyway, it’s not that big a deal. The bigger deal is the fact that I still don’t have a stool. Hopefully Mr. Vitek will come through on that, but I don’t hold high hopes.

Daniel, you’d be so proud of me! I watched a whole soccer game that you weren’t in, and I didn’t even crack a book! I even got to watch the game from the steps of a medieval church! A few nights ago some of the girls from the convent decided it would be an interesting cultural experience to watch the Italy/Netherlands soccer game (Euro championship?) in a pizza bar with Italians. As we’re heading to the bar, we hear what sounds like a very large, very excited mob. As we get deeper into the old city the noise gets louder, until finally we turn a corner and almost plow straight into a giant TV screen. The soccer game is being projected on both sides of this screen at the edge of the old square, drive-in movie style, and hundreds of Italians are running back and forth with drinks, or sitting with their gelato, waiting for the game to start. The excitement is palpable. Once the game began, it became surprisingly quiet, adding drama to the drawn out “NoOOO!”s and cheering that startled pigeons from their roosts with disgruntled squawks that were lost in the din.

Apparently soccer is a big deal in Italy.

Between the contagious excitement and several bottles of vino rosso, our group was shouting “Forza Italia!” right along with the Italians. It was a great night.

My roommate, M, who plays bassoon, turned 20 yesterday. To celebrate, the city of Arezzo held a parade in her honor. A small group of us were sitting in a fancy restaurant, eating pizza and pasta (and other delicious things staring with p), when we heard this loud emphatic drumming. The drumming was quickly followed by the sound of clanging church bells (from the cathedral tower), and crowd sounds. Looking out the window of the restaurant, we can see the first drummers in their bright green medieval garb (complete with multicolored tights) march by. The waiter explains that these are the marchers and dignitaries involved in the Jousting festival, doing a practice run/parade around the city. We rushed out of the restaurant and stood on the stoop to watch the parade go by. There were little kids strutting around in medieval uniforms carrying family flags. Dignified men in helmets bore the flags of each neighborhood of Arezzo and their jousting champions. The mayor, judges, and other dignitaries were surrounded by knights in chain mail and brightly colored uniforms. It was spectacular. We quickly paid for our meal and followed the procession up to the cathedral at the top of the mountain. It felt like the whole city was packed inside, and we could barely see the bishop and the mayor at the front. What a night!

In Other News:
-This Sunday we take a day trip to Florence (Firenze). When I learn the Italian word for “so frickin stoked” I will tell it to you.
-One of my roommates is sick. This is gonna sound terrible, but I’m hoping it’s because of some bad meat she ate, and not the stomach flu like she thinks, because we’ve all been sharing drinks and living in really close quarters…
-The septet rehearsed today, I love this piece, it’s a lot of fun. The bass actually gets really cool parts, and since I’m by myself I get to play with it a bit more. Chamber music is the bomb.
-Daniel: have fun at GSP! I’m so proud of you. If you get time send me an email (something along the lines of “I am alive,” and maybe some stories you can’t tell mom and dad?)!
-I miss you, and I love you.


Monday, June 9, 2008

How do you say, in english?

I hear a shriek. Somewhere nearby someone is screaming their poor heart out. Perhaps a woman is being robbed, or a child beaten? I roll onto my back and confirm I am not dreaming. Fast on the heels of my first thought (Glasses, glasses, where are my glasses?) comes another: Perhaps I should scream too? In my head I give an experimental shout. What comes out sounds more like “whuh?” In my jet-lagged well-travelled state I am slow to realize that these strange calls are not “help!” or even “aiuto!” In fact what I am now hearing are overlapping two octave arpeggios, descending chromatically. I am relieved to find that what I’d mistaken for a distress call is actually musical rapture. Oh joy.

I am currently living in a convent. I have the best roommates in the joint, H (clarinet) and M (bassoon), neither of which are nuns. We get along well, and our room is very comfortable and “cute.” Our neighbors scattered along the hall are all opera singers. Sopranos and mezzo sopranos, to be specific (I’ve been assured the distinction is very important). These dear neighbors have been “warming up” since we arrived. I imagine they are quite toasty by now.

My computer thinks it is 12:16 right now. That is because my computer still believes it is with you, in Kentucky. It doesn’t know is that both it and I are currently an ocean, several countries, and six hours from “y’all” and “g’mornin’.” I am writing you from Santa Catarina in Arezzo, Italy. It is raining now, and I have the window slightly open to let the pigeons in, and also to hear the Italian rain hit the ceramic tiles and metal gutter outside. Funny, it sounds just like Kentucky rain. If I close my eyes, there’s nothing to tell me I’m not lying in the grass under our big oak. Well, except for the distant tolling from the bell tower of Arezzo’s cathedral. And the catty rapid fire Italian exchanged between two maids downstairs. And the echoing of multiple languages trapped in high ceilings and hardwood floors.

Ok, so it’s not exactly like home.

The town of Arezzo is beautiful. It is beautiful in the evening, with golden warmth slanting across the cobblestones. It is beautiful at night, with bright globes outlining meandering streets and laughing couples weaving through the bustle. It is beautiful in the morning, and when it drizzles. It is beautiful when the cobblestones dry in the sun and the shop awnings glint with droplets.

You might have gathered that I like it here. Yesterday I went on a walking tour that gave me just a taste of the history and culture. As Abby would say, I’ve eaten one pistachio (it was delicious, and now I want more). I think I will have to get lost, reveal myself as a foreigner, and fall on the cobblestones many more times in the next 5 weeks to fully appreciate Arezzo. I plan to shirk responsibilities whenever possible in order to do so (just kidding).

Said “Responsibilities” Include:
-8:50 to 12:35 Italian lessons
-3 to 4 or 5, chamber group rehearsal (Beethoven Septet, Barber Adagio)
-6 to 8 orchestra rehearsal
-The Marriage of Figaro, and all associated performances and rehearsals

My Italian teacher does not speak English very well, but she’s very excited about all the various feminine/masculine/asexual/plural/singular/multidimensional/transmutational articles of Italian. She’s also excited about the English word for hiccups, which, if you think about it, is very fun to say.

I have not yet tasted gelato. I feel this is an egregious error that I must now correct. Ciao!


Practical Stuff:
-I have internet (obviously), but it’s currently inconvenient to use for an extended period of time (long story, work in progress). I’m typing blogs offline, and then only getting online long enough to post them and send the standard “I am alive” email to my family. Expect contact, but not regular extensive contact.
-No cell phone.
-Food/money is holding out all right. The convent isn’t letting us use the kitchen, and doesn’t have laundry facilities.
-Digital Camera=awesome. I take back all the bad things I said about technology (until it breaks).
-I have converters for charging appliances (like this computer). I have not killed anyone or anything yet. Knock on wood for me.
-I’m still your graceful glamorous girl (Tide will get chocolate out of cotton, right?), and I love you. A lot. Hugs all around.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Paghera tutto questo signore.

I’ve recently discovered that some people actually read this thing, so I’m going to try to be better about posting. Look for more posts from Louisville (Luhvulle), Kentucky, and then…. Arezzo!

I've been extremely busy lately. Swamped in fact. My most pressing responsibilities have included napping, drawing, bathing, napping, baking, playing bass, napping, sipping coffee, eating, and sleeping.

Ok, so I'm no poet, but the other night my brother and our good family friend from the neighborhood (Jordan) were having our first bonfire of the summer since I've been home, and I wanted to express the moment in a way that was not cliche repetitions of how much everyone had grown up and how bittersweet it is that nothing will ever be the same. So here goes:

A red glow
sharpens the edges of our thinning faces
the softness of childhood melted away
in the heat of a year of fires
spent apart
And from within these new faces voices
chafed and deepened
rush out to meet the cool night air and echo
in the chasm of a year's unshared memories.
Three pillars of time,
of cookies, scrapes, hidden cameras, and
poor dancing,
spies in an adult world,
cluster around a memory
throw plans and dreams
that flash and sizzle away
Into the space between us
Like pennies in a wishing well
Or an ocean.

Theme and Variations on the Traditional Cousins Night Out:
1.) Hugs. Traditional Greetings: “You look great!” “So do you!” (it’s still true every time. We always look great.)
2.) To Kashmiir for Indian food!
3.) Insist that we try something new this time, (not malai kofta and curry chicken with sweet lassi and coconut nan)
4.) Order malai kofta and curry chicken with sweet lassi and coconut nan.
5.) Eat too much
6.) Talk about our lives (recurring themes include a-men are clueless, b-everyone’s growing up too fast, c-remember that time when…, and d-you still owe me for that time when…)
7.) Waddle to Heine Bros for coffee and some devilish chocolate dessert, despite haven eaten too much at Kashmiir
8.) Reminiscing and Delighting, with many repetitions of "awww!" "that bastard!" and "that's so sweet!" return to previous themes (with slight variations: men are now oblivious instead of clueless, everyone should stop growing at 6 years old, and ___ is how you will repay me for that time when…)
9.) Create excuses to prolong the night. This time we held time at bay by swimming and eating Derby pie.

Useful Italian Phrases:
Paghera tutto questo signore…This Gentleman will pay for everything.
Il mio marito è nell'esercito…..My husband is in the Army.
Caffe stretto, per piacere…Rocket fuel, please. (made from espresso with less water)

Special Congradulations to my cousins: Sarah Smith for graduating from Male Traditional School, and Julie Smith for graduating from JCTMS. I’m so proud of you both. Now please stop growing (just kidding).

Bass Family Portraits:

Monday, April 21, 2008

Why I Was Late

Special Thanks:
To Mr. Graham Akeson, for being there with the scissors, and only laughing a little.

Even super bass-babes are still not cool enough to ride their awesome bicycles in long skirts.

Other News:
-The sun is back.
-Contra dancing is the best most exhausting and satisfyingly fun thing I've done in a very long time. I've successfully passed out unconscious, and dreamless, on my bed at a reasonable hour for the past two weekends now, without the aid of any mind-altering substance. My calves hurt so good right now!
-I have so much work to do. ugh. moving on...
-Today's Psych/Neuro department lecture was on the defensive behaviors of rodents and humans. It was frickin amazing, if you want a proper explanation you're just gonna have to call me.
-blues dancing=hawt. I didn't think I could bend all those ways. Still not so sure I was meant to.
-Tonight the orchestra rehearses Mendelssohn's Elijah with full choir for the first time. I'm so stoked.
-I found a secret spot to practice in outside, which I will not tell you about, because some sneaky violinist will probably steal it. Just know that Mr. Darcy is getting his fair share of sunshine too.
-I miss you, and will be home soon. (soon=May 19th)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rockin Pnemonia and Boogie Woogie Blues

So I can't sleep. I can't even blame California tonight, either. I think it might have something to do with the three shots of espresso, mug of earl grey, and chocolate surprise cake (with sweet cream cheese icing inside) that I just had. Not that I only give you blog-love when I can't sleep...just today.

If I ran the world...
Every restaurant would have a cup of crayons on the table, and extra napkins to draw on. Lynn's Paradise Cafe is leading Earth in this movement, currently. Not only do they provide crayons for every table, but tubs of plastic dinosaurs and cowboys as well. Also, the winners from the annual Ugly Lamp contest at the state fair (which is exactly what it sounds like, with prizes for the ugliest lamps in the "born ugly" and "made ugly" categories) are proudly displayed on every table. With killer cinnamon sweet potato fries and grits done right, it's obvious why this is my favorite restaurant, and why anyone I go there with now has a multicolored napkin portrait of themselves.

The psychics of Cafe Mimosa are still spot on. My fortune today: "Travels from nesting space will take you to a broader cultural horizon." I'm not sure the traditional ending applies here.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Do that Time Warp again!

This was written several days ago. Clearly we're in a time warp. (or I just don't know how to use my computer. That's also possible.):

Looking out my window now, I can see nothing but white. At first I assumed I wasn't wearing my glasses, but as I can see everything in my room clearly, this is obviously not the case. Therefore I must conclude that:
a.) Matt and Ian have hit my window with so many snowballs that it is covered in ice.
b.) A giant albino squirrel is trying to climb the side of Langston.
c.) Oberlin is in the middle of an f-ing blizzard.

Since Matt and Ian's aim is not that good, and the giant albino squirrels live in the Arb, I'm going with C.

So the snow has been coming down hard for about 48 hours now. They haven't plowed the sidewalks, and it is Too Cold. My bike is frozen, but my room is nice and toasty, with warm quilts and fleece blankets, and I have enough soup and coffee to withstand nuclear apocalypse (not really). If I listen carefully, I can hear the wind moaning through the trees, and it seems to say....

doooooon't gooooooo outsiiiiiiiiide.

I'm not about to disobey a direct order like that. You know what that means? LISTS!!!!

My Louisville Tour would include:
kayaking from the marina by that greasy seafood restaurant to the Ohio river.
2.)bourbon french toast, sweet raspberry iced tea, macaroni, and banana pudding at Lynn's Paradise Cafe
3.)Bardstown road shopping tour, including Queen of Rags, Discoveries, Ear-X-Tacy, ending at Homemade Pie and Ice-cream kitchen for dutch apple with caramel pie
4.)surrey biking in waterfront park, walking along the waterfront, the Belle
4.)frisbee and fountain baths in cherokee park/soccer in Seneca park
5.)crayon rubbings in Cave Hill cemetary
6.)late set at the jazz factory with chocolate cheesecake
7.)Fat Friday gallery-trolley hop on Frankfurt
8.)orchestra concert downtown, + the glass factory and elevator jumping in the Starks building
9.)Sunday night concert in cheroke triangle, with ice cream from the truck, iced coffee from Heine Bros, and quilts to spread on the lawn
10.)a Hitchcock movie in the Brown theater

My Future Home:
1.) The doors are framed by climbing roses. Giant purple clematis hangs from the mailbox, and the honeysuckle on the fences (the kind you can squeeze little drops of sweetness from) makes the yard smell like heaven. A row of giant sunflowers nods from the back of yard.
2.) When I get tired of the color of the door, I paint it a new one: red, green, blue, or yellow.
3.) Instead of walls there are bookshelves, broken by stained glass and little figurines and bowls of Werthers. Ferns and Christmas cactus hang in baskets (high enough that I don't smack into them) around the reading/sitting room.
4.) Secret passageways are left undisturbed for my kids to find. Some of them are filled with treasures. They are decorated by years of overlapping murals and childish scribble, lined with pillows, and perfect for secret meetings.
5.) The music room has instruments collected from everywhere. The music library on a side wall is organized by instrument and composer. A giant mural (which changes every couple years or so) covers one wall, concert posters and paintings cover another. The hardwood floors are ideal for making a bass resonate. On the piano are the pictures of my mother, my grandmother, my great grandmother, and me all sitting in the dresses and on the benches of our own time, and a vase full of flowers from the yard.
6.) The big plushy colorful rugs don't match the curtains, which don't match the couches, which don't match the paintings.
7.) The porch has two rocking chairs side by side, with a small table between. They look out on the garden.
8.) The kitchen is big enough to dance in, and the rack of pots and pans high enough that I don't run into it. The stereo is next to the flour and sugar tins. One window box has basil, oregano, rosemary, the other marigolds, mint, and chamomile. I made the spice rack, and it's painted with roses. The walls are either blue or yellow. There's a small table next to the window, with a white linen table cloth and a pot of violets in the middle.
9.) Butterfly bushes keep the hummingbirds and butterflies happy. Finch feeders, a wind chime, and sun catchers hang around the porch. I never powerwash the stepping stones in the yard, and none of the bricks lie straight. There's a wide wooden swing hanging from the oak tree. The tree house has an elaborate pulley system to transport secret messages and snacks from different lookout points. Every part is a different color.
10.) In summer I sell mason jars of honey (and comb) from the three bee boxes in the back of yard at the farmers market stand, and I always set the thermostat close to the outside temperature, so I have more money to spend on the garden and music room.

Back to the Future (aka today):
It is warm again (relatively).

Ohio weather is insane:
-Last week the lock on my bike was frozen solid. When I tried to turn the key inside it, the metal part of the key broke off.
-In some places there's still something like three feet of snow. Tomorrow it's going to rain.
-yesterday I wore: two sweaters, ear-muffs, scarf, thick gloves, thick pants, and a coat. Tomorrow I will probably wear a skirt, t-shirt and jacket.

Hmm, well if I feel like saying anything interesting I'll start another post. Give yourselves big hugs from me, see you soon (only two weeks until I come home!)!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Negative Correlation

Breathing through your nose is really great, and I definitely recommend it (aka "my cold is gone, thank goodness!"). In honor of being able to enjoy having a nose today, some lists:

Things in my life that smell good (in order of appearance in my day):
-clean sheets
-Alexandra's lilies-of-the-valley perfume
-coffee grounds
-chocolate hazelnut espresso
-my conditioner
-Irish Spring soap
-oatmeal w/ cinnamon and honey
-vanilla lotion
-the steam from mint tea
-last night's rose
-kneaded eraser
-snow. No really, I swear it has a smell. Biting, slightly static. I'm not crazy.

Funky smells I am nonetheless thankful to experience (again):
-the shirt I went dancing in two nights ago (why still on my floor? dunno.)
-the used teabags mildewed in my garbage can
-sci-fi lounge/the vinegar water from that busted heater
-dry-erase markers for my Brain Board
Ok, now on to "Topics Unrelated to my Nose"

I'm quickly becoming an expert in ensuring that days where you must do Too Much work do not suck. One method I've found successful is rewarding myself for finishing things. Here are some useful equations to demonstrate:
U(n)=Ugh 2,3, and 4 through infinity

U plus T yields U(n) yields S
U plus T yields R yields :-D

Got it?

Let's put this in the real world to demonstrate:
When dry research methods statistics which must be waded through en masse for many hours are immediately followed by aural skills transcriptions, that is a Bad Day. When they are followed by a hot shower, chocolate hazelnut espresso, and/or writing in a blog when you should be working, that is a better day. When, after completing two human neurobiology chapters and 30 pages of music theory reading, you go out and Tango/Lindy-hop/Charleston with awesome people, you're having a good AND productive day.

:-D has a negative correlation for how much U must be repeated the next day.
My Schedule, Spring Semester 2008

11 am-Research Methods I
1:30 Aural Skills II
2:30 Music Theory II
7:30 pm Orchestra

11 am Human Neurobiology
1:30 Research Methods Lab
2:40 Orchestra
9 pm Bass Studio

11 Research Methods I
1:30 Aural Skills II
2:30 Music Theory II

11 Human Neurobiology
2:40 Orchestra

11 Research Methods I
2:30 Music Theory II

8-11 Dancing my A** off

Friday, February 1, 2008

Tea and Turpentine

Self Portrait: Acrylics.
My original intention with this painting was to practice entirely in shades and tints of blue. After I had a finished portrait entirely in blue, however, I realized how boring that was. Also I didn't like the blue I had, because it was ugly when I mixed it with black. Therefore I started added color accents to the hair and neck, and then went crazy. I was too cautious with how much paint I applied, and as a result the style is really static and finicky, with canvas peeking through in parts. I really like color as shading in the hair, though.

Glance: oils
This painting was an attempt to loosen up my style with portraits. I wanted to work fast, with large brushstrokes. I started with an underpainting of general blocks of paint, then layered in shadows. I blended white, yellow ochre, and alizarian crimson for the skin tones, with burnt umber and just a little blue for shadows. I used blue to give shape to the eyes, and layered yellow ochre wet-on-wet in burnt umber for the irises. By the end of this I got a feel for blending color in wet-in-wet oils. I also mistook my tea for turpentine and tried to clean my brush in it no less than three times. (I blame the Vicadin; I recently got my wisdom teeth out and drugs have become a convenient excuse for all manner of brain farts.)

Rose: Oils (for mom)
This was the most frustrating painting I did, because there were so many details to attend to. I still don't feel good about the colors, but I'm pretty proud of the shading. I had a problem with consistency because I painted each section, petal by petal, until it was complete, before moving on to the next, so the style is not uniform. I've since realized this is a terrible way to go about things, and blocked every painting since this one. My favorite part of this painting is the rim of light shining from inside the curled petals. Different directions and lengths of strokes were used to define petal shapes.

Louisville: acrylics
This was a blast to paint! The canvas is just slightly bigger than postcard size, and each window/ripple on the water is a single brushstroke. I learned from previous mistakes, and began by blocking in sections, moving on, and coming back to add in details when the underpainting had dried. I'm planning a series of Louisville scenes about this size to hang around my dorm room. This is based on a photo taken from the Indiana side. Obviously the camera reversed it. Can you find Dad's office?

Bass: Acrylics on collage
For this I crumpled up sheets of music, cut them into irregular sections, and pasted them on the canvas so that the texture was crumply, with lines of music going every direction. I was worried that if the paint was too watery it would smear the music, so I used thick paint for parts of the background. That smoothed out the texture too much though, and didn't show the music through the paint, so I thinned it and it worked just fine. Every layer after that was thinned a lot more than usual, to let the music peak through. The tuning pegs have a lot of colorful accents in them that don't really show up in this picture. Hard edges and details were difficult to define here, because of the texture and because I was using such thin paint, so I had to adopt a looser style, which I ended up really liking. I'm very excited because I'm going to coat this in clear paint so light will hit the ridges of the crumpled-up texture in interesting ways. I'll let you know if it works.