Having your CAKE…

Yesterday afternoon M and I hopped into our trusty car and took ourselves off to Greensburg, Pennsylvania, a town we’ve never visited before.  What brought us to Greensburg was The Palace Theatre and the band CAKE who performed a concert there last night.

(Warning:  Terrible photos ahead.  I had to shoot out the car window this morning when it was foggy and the windshield could have used a bit of cleaning.  There are no photos from the concert last night for reasons which will soon be revealed.)

(Driving into Greensburg.)

(Trying to capture the county courthouse dome.)

Greensburg is bigger than I was expecting (my own fault for not researching before we went).  I’d like to take some time to walk around and explore it someday as it looks like an interesting town.  We didn’t have time for it this trip.   We arrived in time to check into our hotel, have dinner, and then head over to the theater.  Or theatre, as the case may be.  There may be a another trip to Greensburg sometime in our future, one of the reasons for our quick drive through town this morning.  It was on that quick trip that I took some quick photos.

The Palace Theatre is a relatively small venue (it seats 1,369 people).  The theatre was opened in September of 1926 and is now owned, operated, and being renovated by the Westmoreland Cultural Trust.  It’s a beautiful theatre with a cute little ticket booth at the entrance.  I tried to take a photo of the ticket booth on our drive-by this morning but it came out blurry with car window reflections and not worth posting.  Our seats last night allowed me to visually enjoy exploring the original murals in the loge area that have been refurbished.  I love old theaters and I would venture to guess that a large percentage of the concerts M and I have seen over the past three decades have been in small theaters built in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

CAKE was great and it was one of the most enjoyable concerts I’ve been to in a long time.  I’m not sure they would appreciate being described as “enjoyable” so let’s go with FUN instead.  And it was fun.  One of the problems I have with the small and some large venues is the sound.  It’s often too loud.  Songs-unrecognizable loud.  CAKE must have some great sound people because it was perfect.  Loud enough and clear enough.

I did not take my camera along for the show because the ticket clearly states on the back that cameras are not allowed (making it not worth the bother of trying to get one in).  This leads me to want to editorialize so bear with me for a moment.  With the advent of phones capable of taking photos as well as video, I’m not sure there’s a point to the prohibitions against audio and/or video equipment at concerts anymore.  Granted, you don’t want an unauthorized someone walking in with a professional system to record the concert and sell copies of the recording, but my point-and-shoot camera is not up to professional standards.  It is better than you might be able to get right now with a phone but I’ve seen some nice photos from phones and I imagine the technology is catching up quickly if it hasn’t already caught up.

That said, John McCrea (lead vocalist) made an outstanding point about it all during the first half of the concert when he made a small speech (badly paraphrased here since I didn’t memorize it) about how he understands everyone is carrying around their bit of modern technology, trying to capture, hold onto, trap, and/or keep the moment, but he asked that everyone put the technology aside and just BE in the moment.  Relax, have fun, be here now.  The idea got a big round of applause and cheering, although I’m not sure how many people put away their gadgets to do just that.  To be honest, my soapbox stance in the paragraph before this one was half-hearted as I have found that there are times when I’d rather do as McCrea advised and just enjoy the moment rather than record it.

I thoroughly enjoyed the audience participation portions of the concert, being part of the sound that filled the theatre.  My throat is sore today but that’s my own fault for being prodded into singing louder.  I love to sing and don’t do it often enough so the sore throat is a small price to pay.  Thank you, CAKE, for enticing me to join in the fun.

If you’re interested in contests, you can win a tree from CAKE.  They gave away a very nice apple tree last night.  Check out the CAKE Tree Gallery here.  The guy that won last night had to promise to plant the tree and take pictures of himself with the tree to put on the Tree Gallery so we can all watch as the tree grows older and stronger and he grows older and frailer.  Those of us who have planted trees know:  Such is life.

(In the Greensburg Train Station.)

If interested, you can check out the setlist (and listen to it) here.  A little personal trivia:  I can’t hear War Pigs (CAKE does a cover of it and they performed it last night) without thinking of M the Younger who plays the drums and practiced the drum parts of War Pigs over and over and over, incessantly, for what seemed like a long period of time.  Years.  I know the entire drum part well and can identify the song from that alone.

We stayed in a hotel about 7 minutes from the downtown portion of Greensburg.  This morning we drove back in to look for the train station as we have been giving some thought to taking a train ride and Greensburg might be easier and cheaper than Pittsburgh as a starting point for the not-quite-planned trip-in-the-making.

(Looking out the window of the train station.)

We drove over, parked, took a quick look around and then made our way back to the car and back home.

And now it’s back to my regular programming.  I got a call just a little while ago from Hilgert’s farm.  The yellow wax beans are picked and ready for me to bring home and preserve.  I’ll be blanching and freezing them as I prefer freezing over canning (less loss of nutrients that way).  I suspect that will take up much of my day tomorrow.  One day’s work for a winter and spring of locally grown, delicious and nutritious vegetables is well worth it.


It’s strawberry season!

I’m excited.  The lack of exclamation points might make it seem as if I’m not all that excited but I am.  The strawberries are ready for picking at Hilgert’s Farm.  Or you can go to the market and buy already picked berries if you’re not up to picking your own.  M and I stopped by the market yesterday to buy a quart to sample.  I’ll be joining a friend on Wednesday to do some picking.  I’d like to freeze a bunch of them this year.

The reason strawberry season excites me so much is because it is the beginning of the fresh, locally grown, produce season.  The peas and sugar snap peas will be coming in next.  Some of the other farmer’s markets have lettuces, green onions, radishes, and fresh herbs that are locally grown.  From now until sometime in November we’ll be eating plenty of fresh fruit and veggies.

(Lunch!)

We also went to the Hartville Marketplace to see what was available there.  As usual, we loaded up on lots of goodies such as red leaf lettuce, radishes, green onions, and new potatoes.  We came home and made a lunch that was a feast of mostly locally grown vegetables and fruit (with a few not-local nuts thrown in for good measure).

The rains continue, almost unabated.  I’m beginning to feel as though we live in a rain forest during the monsoon season.  Everything is lush and green and beautiful.  And wet.  The pond is filling up nicely.  We decided to raise the water level this year to see if that helps with the weed and algae control.

The rain has also brought something that the birds are attracted to and that something is on our deck.  I don’t know what it is.  There were dozens of birds pecking around on the deck and under the porch, seemingly enjoying whatever it was they were feasting on.  Bugs of some kind, perhaps.  Or seeds from the trees.  I’m not sure.  Whatever it is/was, it gave me the opportunity to practice with the zoom on the new camera.  Most of the photos were pretty bad.  I got lucky with one or two fairly decent shots.

The flamingos are an easy shot since all they do is stand there.  They don’t seem to mind the rain although they might be swimming or floating soon if the pond gets much higher.


Earth Day

One way to open your eyes is to ask yourself, ‘What if I had never seen this before?  What if I knew I would never see it again?’

~ Rachel Carson

M and I watched the documentary Food, Inc. on PBS last night.  It was a good reminder of why we have been changing the way we eat as well as how and where we buy our food.  If you haven’t seen it, you can watch it at pbs.org until April 28th.

Garden notes:  This afternoon I planted a row of mixed lettuces.  I finished out the row with a few spinach seeds.  Harvested a whooping 6 (lol!) asparagus spears.  It’s a start.


Gardening

(Tulips at Hershey Gardens.)

In a world where conflict and strife seem to surround us, gardeners create a space where peace and beauty reign. In a time of rampant selfishness, gardeners set the example of selflessness. For it’s impossible to garden only for yourself. The colors and textures you splash upon the ground are soaked up by all the birds, butterflies and passersby in your neighborhood.

But mostly, it’s important to be a good steward of a small patch of earth and to know that you are one among millions who are helping to heal a wounded planet, one garden at a time.

~~ Paul McKenzie, Article on HGTV.com

I’ve been busy in the garden for the past day or so, as well as unpacking and getting caught up with things around the house.  But that’s not the real reason I haven’t come back to finish posting about our trip east.  The real reason is this:  I killed my keyboard.

It seems I had not yet learned the valuable lesson regarding liquids, computers, and keyboards.  That lesson is firmly learned now.  No more tall glasses of iced tea will grace the top of this desk.  I am very grateful to M for the spare keyboard.

The weather here in the Bogs is perfect for gardening.  Sunny but not too hot.  I worked on a small section of our veggie garden yesterday, getting it ready to plant spinach and some lettuces.  I should be able to plant the seeds today.

We harvested the first of the asparagus on Sunday.  Because there wasn’t much of it I chopped it up and put it in a vegetable stir-fry I made for dinner.  I should be able to harvest some more today.  It doesn’t look like it will be a bumper crop, but we’ll have to wait and see.  I’m not sure how fast the spears will come up or how prolific it will be now that we’ve started harvesting it.

I don’t know if or when I’ll get back to posting about our trip.  I do have tons of photos I’d like to share (including some more from Orchid Mania and our trip to Lake View Cemetery) so I’m going to try to get a few out every day.

(Entrance to Hershey Gardens)


Emma’s pumpkin

172

(172:  Melting frost on Emma’s pumpkin.)

My granddaughter Emma grew her own pumpkin this year.  I captured it in the morning just as the frost had melted and pearled into dew drops.


Going to Kansas?

(113:  Follow the Yellow Brick Road.  Photos © 2009 by Robin)

Read the rest of this entry »


Vegetables and storms

(070:  Summer vegetables.  Photo © 2009 by Robin)

M and I went to the dentist yesterday for our semiannual cleaning and check-up.  All is well with the choppers (since there is an inquiring mind out there that wanted to know).

A trip to the dentist also means a trip to our favorite Akron Italian market:  DeVitis.  We loaded up a few bags with all sorts of goodies including my favorite olive salad, artichoke salad, and cheeses.  Cheese is one of my big weaknesses when it comes to healthy eating, but I’ve found that a little bit of a tasty and strong cheese can go a long way without messing up the diet at all.

As I mentioned yesterday, I had a big bag of basil to deal with.  I bought the basil at the local farmers market on Saturday and stuffed it into the fridge until I had time to do something with it.  I got a good deal on the basil.  When I asked the man selling it how much it cost, he said he didn’t know because they hadn’t figured that out yet but how does $3.00 sound?  I said it sounded just fine and bought it.  To be honest, I have no idea how much a bag of basil that size should cost.  I suspect it might be more than $3.00.

I made two (one-cup) batches of pesto yesterday, using the basic pesto recipe from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian.  Very simple stuff:  basil, pine nuts, garlic, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and olive oil.  Whirl it around in the food processor and voila!  You have pesto.  I toasted the pine nuts for the first batch.  I like them toasted and wondered if it would add much change to the flavor of the pesto.  I’ll let you know tomorrow.  We’re having pasta with pesto for dinner tonight.

What looked like a great deal of basil was reduced to a small amount in no time.  I also used some of the basil in the zucchini-tomato gratin I made for dinner.  Today’s photo collage is a small collection of the pictures I took while assembling the gratin.  The recipe for the gratin was from the recent Vegetarian Times magazine.  It was labor intensive.  There’s a lot of salting and draping of vegetables to reduce the moisture in them.  The zucchini, after the moisture reduction, then has to be fried in olive oil until golden before layering it with the tomatoes, basil, olives, and cheese.

Was it worth the effort?  I think so.  It was delicious.  Will I make it again anytime soon?  Not likely.  It falls into that “fussy foods” category (wherein the means involves a lot of fuss to get to the end or the completed project), and I prefer fresh, fast, and simple most of the time.  It is nice to have something a little beyond that once in a while, and I thoroughly enjoyed our meal.

We had some storms roll through yesterday.  I’ve been wanting to start a Tuesday video meme of my own.  Two Minutes at Breezy Acres, or something along those lines.   Two minutes may be a little too long so I could end up reducing it to One Minute at Breezy Acres.  In the meantime, here is yesterday’s two minutes of a summer storm as seen from the top of the new spiral stairs (where I was able to keep myself and, most importantly, my camera dry).