Shorn by Ms. Horne

So perhaps the title is dramatic, but it accurately describes my feelings after my recent lesson with Ms. Horne. After my difficult year last year with my voice I had only recently been regaining my confidence, when it was completely stripped. I don’t feel the need to go into the specifics of the lesson, more than to say I couldn’t give her the right sound nor enough of it to please her. She is an easily frustrated woman, and rather tactless. All in all after a bout of sadness, (and some chocolate chip cookies)  my pride took over and I felt a powerful drive to prove her wrong. I guess the majority of my frustration in the lesson was my inability to please. Marilyn likes a very forward sharp sound. Her methods involve stuffing it in your nose and then raising your soft palate. I could do neither, at least no at the same time.
(I write this second portion several days later than the first)

Sometimes a slap in the face is the requisite motivation to  invoke change. Tom always liks to quote that “fear and guilt are the best motivators” as demeaning as they may be. (Tom isn’t a proponent of either but rather finds the statistic fascinating.) I guess Marilyn sort of freaked me out. She said quite frankly that I had little chance of a career in either singing or teaching if I didn’t get my act together and “Learn how to sing.” As a result I have demanded much more from my practices this week. I have focused on having resonance on every note, of being supported on every note, and making sure my diction is clear. I thought I actually made a few break throughs, and that was confirmed in my coaching on Thursday when Mr. Bandy said, “Wow. Your sound is so great today. You really sound l ike you could project over an orchestra throughout. What are you doing so differently.”

So, maybe Ms. Horne’s harshness was just what I needed to take the next step in my vocal studies. I guess sometimes sheering is vital to freeing us of our old tattered wool and letting us grow it back anew: clean and strong!

From now on- Tom’s the Lasagna maker!

Tom and I have been talking about making lasagna for three weeks. The first week we realized we didn’t have the noodles, the second week we bought the noodle, and the third week we made it. We’ll Tom made it, I didn’t do anything.

Tom is the kind of cook who doesn’t feel the need to cook often, he is content to eat left overs, peanut butter, tuna fish-whatever. BUT when he cooks, he cooks well! He doesn’t wash the mushrooms in water because it makes them soggy, he read, and so he rubs each one of them softly with a paper towl. If the tomatoes would be better roasted he roasts them. Time saving techniques are needless- he enjoys every perfected step. He cuts the carrots a uniform size and the olive oil must never be cooked too long. He makes his lasagna the Italian way. Which means it is free from the abundance of cheese that so pleases us Americans. Rather, it’s sole cheese is a little Parmigiana-Reggiano (No- not Parmesan) cooked into the bechemel sauce. In otherwords “a basic rue sauce.” (wink at Mary!)

Tom’s secret ingredient this time, happened by mistake. One day he called me from Walmart- asking what groceries we needed! I told him, “Well we wanted to make Lasagna so whatever you need for that.” I had been complaining the day before about how unhealthy I had been eating and how I needed him to help me. So, being a considerate husband he bought meat, but the fat- freeist meat he could find. It looked like ground beef, but it was actually ground beef STEAK! It was some tasty meat and really classed up the dish. Tom’s other signature ingredient is a trace of nutmeg.

It was by far the best Lasagna I have ever eaten. Thank goodness for Italian missions!

Luscious Lentils!

Tom and I watched the Alton Brown episode on Lentils and thought this soup recipe looked good, I made it earlier this week and it was not only good it was spectacular. Make it- it will change your life. Okay not really, but it will spice it up! Don’t skip the coriander it is a crucial ingredient. I only had whole coriander, so I just emptied out my pepper grinder and ground the coriander it worked perfectly.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup finely chopped carrot

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed

1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes

2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground grains of paradise

Place the olive oil into a large 6-quart Dutch oven and set over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, carrot, celery and salt and sweat until the onions are translucent, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth, coriander, cumin and grains of paradise and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Using a stick blender, puree to your preferred consistency. Serve immediately.

 

Pasted from <http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,1977,FOOD_9936_35630,00.html>

Consecration thy Performance

The title of this talk rang out to me, as a result of the obvious connection of “Performance” in my life. It is an incredible talk, the kind that really can not be taken in in one read. Maxwell always leaves me truly inspired, if not overwhelmed. Here were some of my favorite quotes:

“Brothers and sisters, our individual worth is already divinely established as “great”; it does not fluctuate like the stock market.”

It’s easy to feel that we are more loved by the Lord when he is blessing us. However, we are always loved equally my the Lord- even in trial and hardship.

 

 

“The surrender of the mind is actually a victory, because it then introduces us to God’s stretching and “higher” ways!”

I love this quote because it is so un-PC. Surrendering ones mind is exactly what Oberlin fights against. If our faith is sufficient however, we will feel comfortable giving our mind to one more competent than we.

 

 

“If we desire fullness, we cannot hold back part!”

This is a good summation of his talk. He instructs us to ask in our prayers, is it this that I am holding back. What is it that I hold back from the Lord, that I claim as my own. I have to admit last years vocal struggles taught me in a very forceful way that things I thought were mine weren’t at all. I have little control over my body- it is not mine.  What else am I holding back? Do I hide behind habits that I claim has being “part of my character?”

 

How grateful I am for talks such as this that raise my thoughts to a new level, and challenge me to become more.

 

 

Source: Neal A. Maxwell, “Consecrate Thy Performance,” Liahona, Jul 2002,  39–42

 

 

Biking through the Beautiful

With our piano came Shani’s generous gift of her bike! I was very excited to get it. Finally Tom and I can go on all those bike-rides we’ve thought up over the years.

Yesterday, we biked to Miller’s Homemade Ice cream Stand. It is a good distance away, probably 10 miles, the perfect biking distance. The route is through beautiful country roads, we enjoyed discussing the houses, and commenting on the yards and open fields. Unfortunately several of the roads were busy and, as is typical in Ohio, had little shoulder, requiring Tom to ride behind me. So we couldn’t talk as much as I would have liked, but we still had a lovely time. It was a gorgeous fall day, chilly enough to require a sweater but sunny enough to be gorgeous. The ice cream was as to be expected- Delicious! Key Lime was both of our choices this time.

I fell a little more in love with Tom on that ride. He looked so handsome on his svelte road bike. His long lines matched the lines of the bike and they seemed like one. His confident smiles accompanied by the wind blowing through his thick hair and the rosy-ing of his cheeks left a vivid impression on my mind- of how good it is to be young and in love!

The BIG five

So, I have never been tagged before. Today I was innocently reading Audrey’s blog when WHAM she tagged me. So here I go- fulfilling the dutiesassociated. Here is my Big Five:
Five things I was doing 10 years ago:

1. Finishing my last year of Primary
2. performing in “The Sound of Music”
3. Playing soccer

4. learning unconventional ways of doing long division

5. anticipating Middle School.


Five things on my to-do list today:

1. Decide if I am taking Developmental Psychology, Comparative Literature, or Art History. (Art History won, Comp Lit was full.)
2. Sing- tried but couldn’t
3. Laundry- putting it off til tomorrow
4. Buy Artist Recital Series tickets- forgot
5. Move Piano!!!! (Yup it’s here safe and sound!)
Just so you know this isn’t my typical success rate, I have a lousy cold and I feel like trash today.

Five snacks I enjoy:
1. Barb’s Chocolate Chip cookies
2. Sugar Snap Peas
3. Nectarines
4. Whirley Pop corn
5. Pita with hummus

Five Songs I Know the Lyrics to:
1. Du gai soleil- Massenet
2. Give said the Little stream- Primary song
3. An die Musik- Schubert
4. Younger than Springtime- and any other song my students are singing
5. Suleika- Mendelssohn

(Yeah I don’t think I know a singular pop song. hmmm)

Five Things I Would do if I was a Millionaire:
1. Pay off Student loans
2. Buy a car
3. Tithing- serve a ton of missions
4. Figure out what is wrong with my throat
5. update my wardrobe

Five Bad Habits:

1. rushing everywhere
2. moving my head and shoulder too much when I sing
3. not listening long enough
4. rubbing my nose with the back of my wrist
5. saying “Sure” for everything, and using the word definitely too often, while spelling it wrong.

Five Things I’d Never Wear Again:
1. black wig from “Desert Song”
2. my huge black platform sketcher shoes
3. cinderella dress
4. hemp necklaces by the dozens
5. velcro shoes

Five Things I Like to do:
1. Hang out with Tom
2. try new recipes
3. read
4. play soccer
5. mess around on the guitar

Five Favorite Toys:

1. My computer/internet
2. my Ipod
3. My palm
4. My piano!
5. My food processor

Five People I Tag:

1. Tom
2-5. Mary

Mamie- and example of excellence

Today after church we and the other LDS students went over to the Crawford’s for lunch. Mamie, a steadfast amazing woman, is a brilliant cook and a very intelligent person. Here were my observations from the day:

As we drove into their neighborhood I thought back on our visit there last year. I remembered her seriously gorgeous custom kitchen and thought that no matter where we end up living we will always have the opportunity of making it ours. I cringe at the thought of living in a residential neighborhood where your neighbors house looks just like yours, however life has taught me that that is likely the inevitable- welcome to America. However, experience has also taught me that even though we all look alike in general structure we all have unique eyes and can change our hair color! I excited at the idea of owning my own home someday and making it an expression of who Tom and I are.

Mamie spent many years of her life pursuing the art of cooking, as I previously mentioned she has an incredible kitchen. For example, Tom looking at the industrial stove asks:

“What do you do with this unit with the big hole?”

“Oh I move it to the front and place my wok in it!”

She has one of those huge cabinet fridges, all copper pans, and every specialty device and ingredient you might ever need. She grinds her own nutmeg, and grows her herbs fresh. This woman can cook!

Well after the art of cooking was mastered she didn’t sit around bored, rather she took up gardening. She now has this stunning yard, though small it contains all sorts of vibrant plants and trees. Remember, she lives in a little residential neighborhood and her yard is not great, but it is beautiful. She was very wise with her use of space and utilizes curves and levels to give the impression of expanse. She uses a lot of pots. For example she has these hanging pots all along her wood fence, which gives her garden another 5 feet! She has a relaxing pot adorned patio, and a fountain and pond all in her idi-bidi back yard, and yet nothing looks cramped. Again, I felt inspired, and less limited by the likely hood of our living on small lots. Might I also mention that she knew not only the lay man terms for the flowers but their latin names.

I hope that, like Mamie, I can always seek excellence in whatever I do.

Lessons learned from what’s left

While running this morning I noticed that a few doors down from us, where “Sale” signs had been posted for a week, a long line of people awaited the reported 9:00 opening. A few days previous there had been a beautiful cabinet displayed outside- advertisement. When I returned home, I saw people leaving the house- proudly carrying their new belongings. I thought I would see what was going on and walked into the home. Almost immediately I was struck by feelings of reverence, and wonder. I was entering the remains of someone’s world.

Walking trancelike through the rooms, I considered the life of the man, I felt, who had owned these things. What had he filled these many chest of drawers with? Books on medicine and surgery filled the shelves of a room completely walled in red bookcases. Had he been a doctor, like my own husband will be? He had walnut oil in his kitchen too, like me. Did he receive his from a health nut, like I did? I noticed a pastry cutter, taped together with a wine bottle opener and a garlic press it was selling for 1.00. I need a pastry cutter and picked it up. It was at this point that I noticed those around me.

They didn’t seem to be viewing the surroundings like the Museum piece that I was. Rather they scavenged through the belongs, greedily trying to beat out their followers. One woman sneered and commented on the mess of bird seed on the outside porch. “Somebody fed the birds” she declared disgustedly. Raising my eyes from her observation, I saw the backyard- a perfect replica of the garden Tom fears I will one day own. There was no grass- only a path between flower beds. It showed signs of old glory, gone wild with years of unintended neglect. The garden made me feel close to this man. I wished I could have helped him with his flowerbeds. Wished I would have known of their condition, hid from me by his beautiful home. Now as his comrade, I became sensitive to the comments about his belongings. The argument between two individuals over who claimed his garden bench first, hurt. Who were we, outsiders, sweeping in vultureously to possess his remains.

I didn’t have money with me, so I walked back home. With nothing. I pondered over whether I should go back and buy that pastry cutter. I had wanted one several times while making various dishes. I waited, showered, and dressed- thinking of him, that man. I decided to go back and get the honored device. But it was gone- like him.

I never met the man, or who I believe to be a man. But his possessions told me about him. His house smelled of cats- his lone companions, and the files of people carrying art work- revered his cultural taste. All of the furniture was wood and of firm quality build. The bird seed and garden told of his love of the outdoors.

In someways I wish I had that pastry cutter- so I could remember him. However, visiting his house strengthen within me the knowledge that life lives on after death. Earthly possessions can be passed from estate sale to thrift store,  but they will never leave this earth.

Firsts

” I suppose the sensations, stirred by those first sounds, first sights, are felt but once;

treasure them, Memory; seal them in urns, and keep them in safe niches!”

-Charlotte Bronte “The Professor”

I have enjoyed a list of many firsts this summer. First house, first bed, first kitchen, first pot, first time making scones, first time. . .

There is something so crucial in cataloging those primal sensations and retaining them for times many years down the road when everything seems redundant. Perhaps part of being childlike is learning to find the joy of ones “first” – everytime!