Monday, March 30, 2009

Green thumb not needed

Thought you might like to see what the AeroGarden looks like . . . this is AeroGarden #1, which was "planted" just two and a half weeks ago. You can get an idea of how fast the stuff is growing. On the back row, we have mint, basil, dill, and thyme. Along the front is parsley, purple basil, and chives. First to come up was the basil (obviously) . . . we had sprouts after just two days. It's really quite exciting to watch, and will be even better when it's time to harvest . . . which will probably be in about a week and half.

I "planted" AeroGarden #2 this weekend. We will have mixed salad greens, arugula, romaine, and mixed baby greens. More photos and updates coming soon!

Live in concert

Last Saturday night, I realized just how much I miss going to live music shows. I used to go often. When I was in college back in the day, I went to practically every live music show that came anywhere near my town. I never even really cared what type of music it was because I like all kinds of music. Really!

I've seen everything from bluegrass (Alison Krauss - one of the best shows I've been to, by the way) to R&B (back in 1986 or so, I flew to Washington, DC to see Anita Baker's show in Columbia, Maryland with an old college friend) to big stadium acts (Foreigner, Styx, Rod Stewart, Van Halen when they still had David Lee Roth) to glam rock (Loverboy, Billy Idol) and mainstream pop (Billy Joel, Melissa Etheridge, Celine Dion). I've seen Smashing Pumpkins, The Go-Go's (with special guest A Flock of Seagulls - LOL!), Prince, and a whole bunch of others whom I can't remember right now but will think of just as I start to fall asleep tonight.

My interest in live music can probably be attributed to my Mom, who bought season tickets to the Community Concert Series in My Very Small Hometown (population 16,000 - when I lived there) for several years, taking me with her to see acts like Herb Alpert and His Tijuana Brass and the North Carolina Symphony. I even went to one of Elvis Presley's last concerts when he performed in Fayetteville, NC just months before he died - yes, I was a child and no, I was not particularly impressed - however, lots of "older" ladies in the audience seemed to be.

I experienced a passive high at a Rolling Stones concert in Louisville. I've experienced mosh pits, closed pits, and slam-dancing pits (I was a punk once. I had pink spiked hair and about seventeen earrings in my left ear. It was nineteen eighty-something and I was young and wild. Someone has the negatives, which is why I'll never run for President.) BUT. I gave up going to large concerts several years ago. The crowds started getting to me. And in the smaller venues - after I gave up smoking in 2002 (on June 16, to be exact) - I just couldn't stand being around the smoke.

So when S asked me to go with her to IndyIndie the other night . . . well, I'll admit - I was excited about the music, but not so excited about my (as it turns out) very antiquated ideas of what the venues are like. Billed as "your personal backstage pass" (or something like that), IndyIndie is a very unique opportunity to hear independent artists playing in a very personal setting . . . in this case, the clubhouse of a condo community. We saw the Australian/American duo of Martine Locke and Dionne Ward, who blew us away with their energy and talent. Martine is as much of a storyteller/comedian as she is a singer/songwriter/guitarist, so we were really entertained. We got dinner AND a concert for a very reasonable price. It was a great night!

Best of all, there was no smoke. So . . . who knows. Maybe we'll be going back again. Actually, I think we already have tickets to the May event! 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Sowing seeds

Spring is here, and I vowed to have a vegetable garden this year, so that means . . .  lots of work! Over the last few weeks, we've done quite a bit of prep work, including:
  • attending the Flower and Patio Show at the Fairgrounds (getting ideas!)
  • designing a wooden container for my raised vegetable garden (S is the architect, contractor, and builder)
  • purchasing organic seeds (leeks, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, two kinds of lettuce, wheatgrass, fennel, and whole bunch of others)
  • setting up AeroGarden #1 with the herb package . . . we now have tiny dill, chives, thyme, parsley, mint, and two kinds of basil coming up . . . the chives are already a couple of inches tall after just two weeks. It was so easy and successful (so far) that we ordered a second AeroGarden which just arrived yesterday . . . I'll plant the salad greens pack in #2 this weekend.
  • sowing more seeds indoors . . . and seeing little sprouts within two days
  • making a lot of notes so things will be a little easier next time!
Here in Indiana, our last frost date is sometime in mid-May, and we're not really supposed to plant anything outdoors until then. But it takes 6-9 weeks for the seeds to sprout into seedlings that can be planted in the outdoor garden. 

I have a feeling that I'll be blogging about this quite a bit in the weeks and months to come. Will try to get some photos of the AeroGarden - it's so cool!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Misunderstood lyrics

When we were kids, my sister (six years younger) and I were very into the pop music of the time. This was before iTunes, before satellite radio, before compact discs . . . back during the time when good stereo speakers were the size of Toyotas. Anyway, it seems as if music was on all the time, and my sister constantly misunderstood lyrics. Here are two solid examples:
  • "Love is in Control" by Donna Summer. Donna sings: "I've got my finger on the trigger, love is in control." My sister sang: "I've got my baby on the trailer, highway patrol."
  • "Tiny Dancer" by Elton John. Elton sings: "Hold me closer, tiny dancer. Count the headlights on the highway." My sister sang: "Hold me closer, Tony Danza. Count the headlice on the highway."
Like I said, those are just two examples. We've all seen the many other examples of misunderstood lyrics in those little daily calendars, online, and other places . . . my favorite is Jimi Hendrix's "'Scuse me while I kiss this guy" instead of " . . . kiss the sky."

I was thinking about these because I fell in love with a song when I was in Belgium last month, and just realized that I've misunderstood the song title, and now I'm cracking up about it. The song is by MGMT and I thought it was called "Electric Eel" ("shock me like an electric eel.") But it's "Electric Feel." Despite what the title is, this song is so cool, I just wanted everyone to check it out. It's the coolest, trippiest song I've heard in twenty-plus years. In fact, this band is cool. The music is different, funky, psychadelic. We will probably never hear it on regular radio in Indy. That it itself makes it worth checking out.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Reverse parenting

I never had any kids of my own, but I sure am learning a lot about parenting lately. Or maybe I should say "reverse parenting" since I'm helping S with her 78 year-old mother. It might shock some people to know this, but I'm actually quite old-fashioned in some ways! An example of this is my strong preference for multi-generational living arrangements. The ideal home for me would be one that included people of all ages . . . children, adults, and elders living under one roof, taking care of each other, contributing whatever they can, and learning from each other. Yeah, I know, I'm just a hippie born too late, and I should be living on a commune in Oregon somewhere. 

I just assume that someday my parents (one or both) will come live with me wherever I am, or I'll go live with them, and that's that. So about 18 months ago, I jumped at the chance to have S's Mom come live with us. I truly enjoy having her around. She likes my cooking, and she loves the dogs and cat as much as they love her. We have things we do together, such as Wii bowling and watching the backyard birds. We also have things we like to do on our own. She watches a lot of TV sitcoms and dramas that I/we don't like, and I/we read or Facebook or surf the net or work in the yard or on household projects.

But it really is like having a kid sometimes. Like parents, S and I trade off responsibilities if her Mom is sick or if she needs something. I've taken her to the hairdresser and to the immediate care center. Sometimes, it takes both of us to help out. Like today. I won't go into specific details, except to say that we had the 911/ambulance/Emergency Room experience this morning, and it lasted until early afternoon. There is no way that S could have done this on her own. That makes me realize just how tough it can be for single parents. How do they do it?

Things are pretty much fine now, so if you're reading this please don't be concerned - my point is that as a result of my "reverse parenting" experience, I now feel like I have a better understanding of my family, friends, and work colleagues who have children and have to work around various family emergencies. 

Lots of my friends say they don't know how we do it, or that they don't think they could. It's really not that difficult, though. Mostly we have a great time together. Sometimes there are moments when we have to work together; occasionally we have to work through something together. There are rare times when it's challenging. But just like good parents, we realize that these are times to be cherished. 

Kids don't stay kids forever, after all. 

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Spring forward

Today we changed our clocks, so now it's almost 10pm but doesn't feel like it. I hate springing forward. It messes up my system somehow (even more than jet lag!)

But that's not my real reason for writing today. I'm writing because yesterday it was warm enough to sit on the back porch, and while doing that, I was looking around in the backyard and noticed the crocuses are blooming! The little flowers are so small - about the size of dimes (or twenty cent Euros) - but they're so happy-looking.

This is the first sign of Spring in these parts, so I'm wondering if it's really here, or just a tease. Time will tell.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Wine club

A couple of years ago, some friends of ours decided to start a wine club. Since I knew very little about wine at the time, I jumped at the opportunity. We decided to follow The Wine Club book (which sadly appears to be no longer in print, but you could probably get a used one if you want), and we took it very seriously. We came up with a year-long plan whereby each month, someone would host; the host would choose the wine and provide food that complemented the wine (suggestions are provided in the book) while everyone brought a bottle from a different country or region that produced that type of wine.

We were very serious at first. With each new bottle opened, we sniffed and checked out legs and slurped, comparing notes - some of us even kept notes in special wine journals. We started with whites and our first was Riesling. Everyone loved the Germans but hated the Californians and Australians because they were too dry. After that was Chardonnay, which didn't go over nearly as well as the Riesling. Next was Sauvignon Blanc, which we all agreed smelled like something between grass and cat pee. Things just went downhill from there, and we finally pulled the plug on the book and just started doing our own thing. 

We tried focusing on a country or region. When it was our turn, S & I chose Spain and I went all out. I cooked for two days straight . . . even took a vacation day . . . and we served up some awesome authentic Spanish tapas. Another time when we hosted, we served several North Carolina wines along with a BBQ meal. Good times! (in my Saturday Night Live lady voice)

We tried almost everything. But no matter what, Riesling (especially Dr. Loosen) is still our favorite, and it's pretty much all we want to drink. Eventually every month became Riesling month, and we stopped doing the whole tasting thing. "Wine Club" became "Wino Club" - OK, not really! I, for example, always seem to be a designated driver. And then we got bored with that so we kind of broke up for a while.

Last night our core group got together again (except for one person who was out of town) and we took a stab at starting over. Our wine for the evening was Pinot Grigio - which is even worse than Sauvignon Blanc if you ask me. But a funny thing has happened since we started wine club almost two years ago: S & I have discovered a red wine that we like: Pinot Noir. This "new discovery" of ours sort of resulted from our trip to the Napa Valley last year (thank you Q&B!!!) Pinot Noir isn't "bloody" like Merlot, doesn't "sting" like Cabernet Sauvignon and doesn't have that funky vinegary taste of Shiraz/Syrah. So I'm thinking . . . maybe next time we host wine club, we'll have Pinot Noir night. 

But whatever we go with, we'll have to chill a couple of bottles of Dr. Loosen Riesling, you know, just in case.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

When I grow up

I know a man who, from the first time he set foot on an airplane as an eight year old child, knew that he was destined to become a commercial airline pilot. He was able to plan out his entire career while still in high school, and has never looked back.

A high school classmate of mine knew in ninth grade that she wanted to become an engineer. This was still a male-dominated field back then, but she did it anyway, despite being only slightly above average as a student.

I know a young woman who has always wanted to be a writer, and despite the odds of that, she's now getting paid for her words and making it on her own in Los Angeles.

I wasn't like this at all. I never had a plan - because I never could decide on one thing to focus on. That would be way too boring for me!!! I just sort of fell into my career as a result of drifting. (OK, maybe it's not as simple as that, but it does make for an interesting sentence.)

So I'm curious . . . how many of my friends/readers knew when they were young that they wanted to be a corporate trainer, or pharmacist, or psychologist, or whatever you are now? Did you actually plan for this career from the time you were eleven, or did you fall into it? Is there something else you'd rather be doing . . . some fantasy career? Write some comments, people.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Don't fence me in

People have asked: Why is your blog called Gypsy Roots? Being that I'm feeling particularly fenced in right now (it's been that kind of day), I thought I'd take a few moments to answer that question.

I'm a gypsy. For real. I have Roma/Traveler blood running through my veins. Home to me is wherever I am. I realize this is hard for a lot of people to understand, and it may well be why I have a very hard time with the concept of owning real estate, especially real estate that is nice enough to make me want to stay home while also making me a slave to a mortgage company.

Between the time I was born and my sixth birthday, my family moved at least once a year. When we finally "settled" in one town just before I started school, I had no idea that friends could be permanent, or that being the New Kid was anything other than normal. Settling down was hard for me then, and it still is today . . . I can't explain it except to say that I would have been a good hobo, and more than once in my life, I've thought about hopping a railroad car.

Because of this unique aspect to my personality, it has been extremely easy for me to do the job I've been doing for the last thirteen months. I'm good - no, really, I'm an expert - at living out of a suitcase. I daresay that there are few others who could have traveled at such a pace (over 100,000 flight miles, 26 countries on 5 continents) as easily as I did . . . without any major diplomatic protocol violations or international incidents. (LOL!)

Travel motivates me. It's an incentive. It makes me want to do better, to be a better person. It satisfies my curiosity . . . and a thirst I've had for as long as I can remember.

Don't get me wrong. I love my home and my family and my friends. But if I don't get my travel fix, I will find other ways to "travel." I'll get a faraway look in my eyes. My mind will drift away while thinking of a faraway place. Hearing a song may set off a memory. I may laugh, or smile, or even cry. 

I'm caught between two worlds. I'm like the child of an immigrant who is neither foreigner nor native. I can "blend into" both worlds, but I never really "fit" into either. So I have to create my own category - a sort of hybrid. 

That's what Gypsy Roots is all about. Strange as it may be. I just have to keep moving, even if only in my mind.