Wednesday, November 19, 2014
I was born and raised in and around Baltimore.
Not just Maryland.
Very strong roots here. If you get west of Carroll County, that's Western Maryland; east of Cecil County is the Eastern Shore; start to see Washington Post paperboxes, like in nearby Columbia, but not Ellicott City, that's DC so don't talk to me about you being from Maryland, 'cuz yer not.
And of course we have very strong food traditions here. Crabs and Natty Boh just go together.
And a proper crabcake.
This is a proper crabcake. Broiled. About a 1/3 pound of jumbo lump crab meat and just enough egg and bread crumbs to keep it from falling apart.
NOT! a proper crabcake. Lots of bread crumbs, mayo, egg, and fried. Maybe pan fried, maybe deep fried. But I never saw one of these until I moved out of Maryland. They were on the menu as Maryland Crab Cakes and let me tell you I was disappointed.
Ok. Oh and Utz potato chips, even if they are from Hanover PA.
Of course! Seasoned with Old Bay. But they also come as regular potato chips.
So iconic are Natty Boh and Utz that one of the local jewellers has incorporated Boh and Sallie into an ad.
And Boh and Sallie can be found everywhere.
Having grown up here, the first time I was away from home was when I enlisted in the Air Force. To me, a turkey dinner consisted of the following:
cranberries (both whole and that jellied sauce)
mashed potatoes and gravy
Yes you read that correctly, Sauerkraut. My mom wold make it by rinsing it to reduce the saltiness, then cooking it with a little sugar and the turkey neck. Others would use apples, sausage, pork. Mom always spiced it with caraway, anise, and dill. I learned a mnemonic that involved my sister-in-law's sister's name. My SIL said, "I can remember that because my sister's name is Carol Ann Dillow. Caraway. Anise. Dill."
But you didn't have turkey without sauerkraut.
I went through the mess line New Years' Eve and they had turkey dinner. I didn't see any sauerkraut. So I, a brand new basic trainee, asked if there was sauerkraut. It was then that I discovered that not everyone shares this particular taste treat. So much so that I was mocked by the mess staff and my D.I. seemed pissed at me.
And I guess it is so unusual that I had a hard time finding a decent picture of a Thanksgiving dinner with sauerkraut. This sad excuse was the best I could do.
That does not look very appetizing, does it? Believe me. Done right it's delicious.
Today there was an article in the New York Times on line about regional favorites for the holidays. The article seems to zoom in on Sauerkraut and Apples. But it explains this particular taste by noting that Baltimore had strong immigrant roots in Eastern Europe and Germany.
Jane Ashlock wrote:
"But in Baltimore, which has a strong eastern European and German immigrant history, the holiday table demands something else. 'The absence of sauerkraut when turkey is present, Thanksgiving included, is unthinkable, comparable to potatoes without gravy or crisp French fries without ketchup,' wrote John Shields, the chef and owner of Gertrude’s restaurant in Baltimore, in his cookbook 'Chesapeake Bay Cooking.' "
Yeah, what she said he said.
Then she links us to a recipe for Sauerkraut and Apples.
So if you looked through the article, did you find it to be accurate? What else did you have that may seem odd? I was frankly surprised to find macaroni and cheese on the menu in Savannah.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
I decided that I needed to get back to my music. I play a number of instruments. Now particularly well, but I enjoy them. I never learned the two stand-bys though ... the guitar and the piano. I play other things.
There is the hammered dulcimer
Actually the one pictured there is the same model as mine. I may be the best at that instrument of anything I play.
Then I also play the mountain or Appalachian dulcimer. It's totally unrelated to the Hammer dulcimer. I twas named by the Pennsylvania Germans who developed it, probably from Daniel 3:5,10,15 in the King James Version popular them. Having no idea what a dulcimer was, they decided this is what it is.
This is a picture from an article titled "The zithers of the Pennsylvania Germans"
On the left is a bowed zither, on the right is a plectrum zither, and in the center is the Appalachian dulcimer.
I play that fairly well too.
We descend even farther into unfamiliar instruments with my next one. It's called a bowed psaltery. Psalteries were originally a plucked instrument:
But in recent years, they have been develop into a bowed instrument.
And I do play that one well enough to get some recognizable music.
I also play a few songs on the penny-whistle, but only a few.
I have also had and on again off again relationship with the mandolin and banjo, both of which I am trying to learn ... again. And I recently acquired an Autoharp which I can't play either.
But what i like most about these guys is what Shakespeare said "Music hath charms to soothe a savage beast."
Oops, Here comes William Congreve to correct me.
"Music has charms to soothe a savage breast
"To soften Rocks, or bend a knotted Oak."
And while I am giving Mr Congreve his due credit, Shakesspeare also did not say
"Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."
But Congreve did say
"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned
"Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."
Monday, November 17, 2014
I generally do not take away a lot from Sunday sermons.
There is one I remember all my life. Father Pirronac (not sure of the spelling but who cares? Pretty sure he's not around to complain 45+ years later) was preaching on Mother's Day. He had a Rooseveltian accent. He gripped the sides of the pulpit and leaned in, apparently forgetting that we had just had a sound system with microphones and everything installed in our little church.
His FDR voice BOOOMED "MOTHER ARE BEAUTIFUL!" [SQUEEEEAL] He leaned back until the feedback died and in almost a whisper he said, "Let me say that again." Leaning in and still almost in a whisper but so close to the microphone it was still quite loud, "Mmmothars arrre beee-ooo-ti-ful."
And I cannot remember another thing about that sermon. And that is the last major piece of a sermon I can remember.
Except the maybe time that Father Tom told us that what the politicians and the media were telling us about a particular ballot question was total "bµllshˇt." He clapped his hand across his mouth immediately. Yeah, that caused a few bluehairs to practically faint. I thanked him for his honesty. But that's another story.
So to sum up, I remember almost nothing about Sunday sermons.
The Gospel story today was about three servants getting 5, 2, and 1 talents from their master, Two invested the money and doubled it and were praised. The third buried it and was tossed out on his butt. It was about taking chances, going out on a limb. Father Visitor (because he wasn't one of our regulars) said something about three climbers who died near the top of a mountain. But at least they were on the mountain and not in the lodge. Or something like that.
Then he said something I wanted to look up later. And I cannot find it. But I really like it.
"A poet once said, 'We are not meant for safe walks, we are meant for adventures.'"
Holy cow! I turned to the lady next to me and asked for a pen. I tore out a page from the Missalette (that's ok, after next Sunday we get new ones) and I wrote it down.
I Googled it and I can't find it.
Could Father Visitor have been fibbing about it being a quote? Maybe those were his own words and he was too modest to admit it. If so I think he's a freaking genius!
In my search for Father Visitor's "quote" I found several others that are pretty good and capture the essence of it.
Sunday, November 16, 2014
I went to the funeral this morning.
I am known for being late to all kinds of functions. I was determined that today, I would be on time. Because my sister/friend Pam was reading the eulogy for her mother and I didn't want to miss it.
And of course I was late.
Here's what happened.
I set up the GPS to go to churches. The first, for the service, I recognized as the little Baptist church in Fallston and the other, for the interment, was The Big Baptist Church in Bel Air - North.
So as I was going up I-95, I was taken past the Fallston exit. OK, I thought, there is a way to get there from the Bel Air - South exit, maybe it's faster. But I was not directed off the interstate there either. I went up to the next exit that would bring me in North of Bel Air and it was then that I knew what I had done.
I had entered the churches into the GPS in the wrong order. What good is technology if we make stupid mistakes.
I got to the second church first. I was on time. Just on time at the wrong church..
I got over to the first church second and late. Pam was still reading the eulogy and was obviously wrapping it up. I was hoping she would be so consumed with grief that she wouldn't see me.
No such luck.
As I tried to slip into one of the back pews, Pam looked up and locked eyes with me and winked at me as if to say "Caught ya." That's all I needed to know from her that it was alright.
When you have the kind of long lasting relationship we have had, that's what you do.
After all. We have been friends, and more, for 50 years.
After lunch I went over to Mom's because, well, I'm not going to drive 45 minutes and not visit. Besides, the last time I went up to Bel Air and didn't drive the six miles over to Fallston to visit, she had her first major stroke the next day. I know it's totally irrational to blame myself. And I don't really. She didn't even know I was in town.
Call it a superstition.
As if that's any more rational.
At the house there were three sisters and a brother there who had also been at the funeral and one who had been mommy-sitting. None of them went to lunch. We all got the general invitation, so I am thinking they just wanted to get home to Mom. I made six. That was half her living children!
When Mom was brought out to eat her lunch, she looked around and asked, as well as she could, "What's Timothy doing here?" Visiting you. "Oh poo. You were just here last week."
Fine, I'll leave. She laughed at that.
It's so good to know that even though she is mostly trapped, left with little language, she still has a good sense of humor.
Today was Mom's 72nd Anniversary. When we told her she gave it a "meh" response. I guess that's OK since Dad's been dead for 35 years. I guess after a while it matters less and less.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
My FitBit One died. Kinda. It's acting weird, cycling on and off.
When I was talking to the Customer Support Advocate ... yeah they call their call center drones "Advocates" ... she was able to see that my FitBit battery was cycling on and off. That's pretty scary. That means the NSA can know how many steps I take, if I am sitting on my butt too long and any number of other things.
They are going to replace it without any additional charge. It will take 5 to 7 business days ... that's a 7 to 10 real days for those who aren't savvy to corporate bµllshˇt talk ... AFTER it ships for it to get here.
And when will it ship? "They are on back order, so at least 7 days." Hmm. is that "days" as in 168 hours? or "days" as in business days which means 10 days? And that's AT LEAST 7 of those days whatever they are.
No FitBit for almost two weeks at least. They turned me into a data junky.
Now I am going to have to go out to the trail and knock over some old lady for her FitBit.
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