22 March 2012

World Poetry Day 2012...

by John Donne

        BUSY old fool, unruly Sun,
        Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us ?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run ?
        Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
        Late school-boys and sour prentices,
    Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
    Call country ants to harvest offices ;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.

        Thy beams so reverend, and strong
        Why shouldst thou think ?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
        If her eyes have not blinded thine,
        Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
    Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
    Be where thou left'st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, "All here in one bed lay."

        She's all states, and all princes I ;
        Nothing else is ;
Princes do but play us ; compared to this,
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
        Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
        In that the world's contracted thus ;
    Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
    To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere ;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere.

16 March 2012

List: Top Ten Favorite Musical Pieces

So in the process of pursuing one of my more recent obsessions, which shall remain nameless to prevent potential embarrassment, I came across the top ten songs of various celebrities. I had already been thinking about some of my favorites, since a change like moving halfway around the world tends to get you to reflect on what is important to you... or at least it does me ... so I decided to try to put my own list together... which was actually very difficult, as I tend to be a moody listener- what I listen to shifts with my moods... but the more I thought about it the more I was able to isolate pieces that always appeal, so - in no particular order - my top ten...

Nota Bene: Links are to YouTube... videos vary in quality... you were warned...

1. The Bach Cello Suites
These are part of the reason I went with "musical pieces" instead of just "songs", I knew I wanted to include them and I can't isolate one from the other - not because they are not distinct, but because they flow into each other, and weave themselves into my head. No matter my mood, this music fits. The are perhaps my most favorite musical work of all time, but I really hate to make definitive statements like that.

2. Song of the Banshee by Áine Minogue
Haunting, shivery, a beautiful Celtic lament... I have always love Celtic music, but Áine Minogue's album, Celtic Lamentations, came into my life when I needed some way to grieve, and tears weren't cutting it. And this song, even more than the others on the album gave wordless voice to what I couldn't say... and still does...

3.  My Song by Brandi Carlile
This song captures a sense of independence that I have always had... sometimes to my detriment, but there you go... it is also representative of a the singer/songwriter, rockin' gals (mostly), that make up the core of my current listening habits - they span quite a range of sounds, not all like this song... but like this song, they get played over and over in my playlists.

4. Barbie Girl by Aqua
Yes, I know, but I tend to enjoy a little (a lot) of irony in my music - and in my life - and besides, I associate this song with a particularly lovely summer that cemented my relationship with two of my sisters - very different bonds and roles, but made very strong that summer. And we giggled along with this song a lot. And it is so cheerfully awful- really, how could I not love it. All life should have a little absurdity now and then.

5. After All by Dar Williams
Dar, more than any other artist, represents the music of my twenties. And this song... oh, this song... line after line of it... I really can't say what all this song means to me... it goes too deep for words... not autobiography, not my life, but truth- my truth... and the more I live, the more it is my truth... "Life chose me after all."

6. Hallelujah by k.d. lang
I have loved this song in all sorts of covers and iterations, but her version is the perfection of the beauty that is this beautiful song... comfort, poignancy, life...

7. O Fortuna by Carl Orff
I love all of Carmina Burana, but the manic energy and sheer drama of O Fortuna - it so accurately represents what it is like to be inside my brain ... not all the time, but more often than I could say... actually, I'm surprised I get as much done as I do...

8. Greensleeves
My mother loved chamber and classical music and that helped to shape the tastes that I use to create my mental soundtrack... and there is something about this piece that is so intimate and clever and still a bit dramatic - really, the exact kind of thing that I love in music.

9. She by Elvis Costello
While it's true that I primarily listen to girls, I really need some guys on this list... and, oh, Elvis... the many musical stylings and genre disruptions make him a favorite anyway, but this song is so lovely... and who doesn't want to be "a hundred different things within the measure of a day"... otherwise life is just boring, right?

10. Rhythm Divine by Enrique Iglesias
And Enrique... pop-y, latin, angst-y, sexy, and there's that irony again, intentional or not ... there is so much I love about Enrique. This song is one of my early favorites of his, but I still love it... and though perhaps it is uncool, I still love most of his music. And it's great to dance to... most of his music is great for dancing, actually.

This was hard - and there is so much music that I love beyond this, and even though the 10 is an arbitrary number, these pieces really do kind of define the core of my musical loves - eclectic, bizarre, and somewhat unpredictable, with a strong preference for folk music of various stripes. One thing that surprised me was that more country music (any?) didn't make this list - I listen to a lot, and have my whole life, but reflecting on it made me realize that it is not the music that is definitive for me... odd, the things you learn about yourself...

04 March 2012

Red hot birthdays...

So, many of my friends are next to impossible to shop for... either because they have esoteric tastes that they just satisfy for themselves, or expensive tastes that I can't afford, or the irritating habit of never "needing" or "wanting" anything...

My friend Linus is like that, but this year I have the perfect gift. I like cooking (you may have noticed)... or in this case canning... so at first I was going to make him pickles, my garlic refrigerator pickles... because pretty much all the pickles available in Korea are sweet pickles and he hates sweet pickles (so do I, for that matter). But I soon realized/remembered that I couldn't get dill at my local supermarket. So, no dill pickles. But then I had it... You see Linus likes spicy food, so I decided that I would pickle some peppers instead. Peppers are very available at my supermarket.

I checked out Punk Domestics, my favorite canning site and that led me to this recipe for pickled peppers. I, of course, had to change a few things... for one thing my kitchen is metric now, so some math was called for... and my jars were a different size - more math... and I ended up not having as many peppers - math... but perhaps most distressingly, there was no garlic in the recipe and that simply wouldn't do... so, my version!

Pickled Hot Pepper Rings
(adapted from Marisa McClellan)
yield: makes 4 - 250mL jars, active time 30-45 minutes (I'm not sure how long it took me to cut up the peppers), total time 48 hours


              335 g chopped hot peppers (about 3 cups)
              6-7 cloves of garlic, sliced
              150 mL red wine (grape) vinegar
              200  mL rice vinegar
         (a total of about 1 ½ cups vinegar)
              350 mL water (about 1 ½ cups)
              22 g pickling salt (1 ½  tablespoons)

What I did...
  • Sterilize the jars, whatever method you use - here I boil, because I have no oven.
  • Chop, slice, smell the yumminess!!!
  • Combine vinegar, water and salt in a pot and bring it to a boil.
  • When brine is boiling, add pepper rings and garlic, and stir to submerge.
  • As soon as the brine returns to a boil, remove the pot from the heat.
  • Spoon peppers into jars and top them off with brine, leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top.
  • Tap jars gently to remove any trapped air bubbles. If necessary, add more brine to return the headspace to 1/2 inch.
  • Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes (start your timer when the water returns to a boil, not when the jars first go in) - this is approximately three Enrique Iglesias songs and 7 text messages, in case you forget the timer... not that I would ever do that...
  • When time is up, remove jars from the water and let cool on a folded kitchen towel.
  • When jars are cool enough to handle, test the seals and tighten the lids.
  • Store jars in a cool, dark place. They are ready to eat with in 48 hours, but can be kept up to one year.