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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Going off on a tangent . . .

This morning I've gone on a tangent looking for less common uses of a crock pot. It started when I saw a diagram of a crockpot distiller on someone's facebook page. It can be used to make moonshine, although you could probably use it to make your own distilled water. Using this method can apparently yield a quart of liquor...hmm....

More along my speed is using a crockpot to make duck confit...although my longstanding food fantasy for 2010 was to make confit using turkey dark meat.

I also found that you can use your crockpot as an indoor smoker. My only question there is why so much liquid is used, but comments I've seen online say that there isn't enough water to braise it.

I like the idea of using your crockpot to make olive oil soap, or even rebatching old soap with your own scents and colors. I even like the idea of using Ivory soap for this purpose.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Freaky Friday

On Tuesday we started a new unit in beauty school, and three new girls started, which means that we all have to go around the room and introduced myself.

When I was a new student I remember someone saying that they were married to a preacher, "just like" one of the instructors. Somewhere in there I attached that description to the wrong instructor, and proceeded to open up more to the other one.

This is so interesting to me because I really have to confront my prejudice or even fearful reaction to people who claim to religious. I know that it comes from my harmful upbringing as a Jehovah's witness. I guess you could call "post traumatic 'spend every minute preparing for Armageddon' stress syndrome". I grew up thinking that if I could just hold out and make it through Armageddon, I could not only avoid death, but would be cured of all the things I was told were ailing me. Not the right message for a slightly obsessive teenager with ADD who was also grappling with gender identity issues.

So, the freaky part of the whole thing was that I had mixed up the names and labels, opening up more to the one who I thought wasn't married to a preacher, while being reserved and withdrawn around the other one. On Tuesday I found out that not only was she not married to a preacher, her husband had been a truck driver and a sailor before that.

In the few days since, l've been opening up very quickly, and have learned a valuable lesson. Don't use labels to determine how you react to, or treat other people.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Global Weirding

I'm going to try to do "Wordless Wednesdays" from now on by posting an image, though I'm not sure how wordless it will be because I'll comment on it. (Maybe I'll think of a new alliterative name with a similar concept.) Today's image is of the giant sinkhole in Guatemala.

It's hard to take in. It looks so perfectly round and bizarre. It will be added to the list of irrational fears that no longer seem so irrational: the ground falling out from under me. My #1, #2, and #3 irrational fears all center around bridges, either collapsing, or somehow becoming unstable, or me having a blowout, or just being blown off in a windy storm.

My completely rational fear: Global Weirding, as promoted by Thomas Friedman. The hots get hotter, the dry(s) get drier, and the wets get wetter. Setting a record for snowfall over the winter doesn't mean things are cooling, that's actually the "wets getting wetter"... I think a month's worth of rainfall fell in Guatemala City over a 30 hour period, and that's a months worth of rain for a tropical country.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuneful Tuesday

Today's clip is from Dame Shirley Bassey, whom I adore and love, she is among my top three favorite singers (including Sarah Vaughan and Leontyne Price), and I honestly can't rank them. They are so different, and I find each one of them absolutely necessary in my weekly playlist.

DSB (as she as often referred to on the internet) recently released a new album, "The Performance". It is fantastic to see how great she sounds at 70+ years, and of course, she STILL looks amazing. This clip contains one of her earliest hits, "Kiss Me Honey, Honey", along with a WONDERFUL song from her new CD, "Almost There."

"Almost There" is such a great song of regret over mistakes with the person who you almost had something great with. I've listened to this SOOOO many times over the past few days that my neighbors should probably know the lyrics.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Daydreaming . . .

Uncertainty seems to be brewing everywhere around me. My favorite antidote is daydreaming, which sometimes can turn into a plan. For now I will sustain myself on hope and optimism.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Regaining perspective

I have been laying on the daybed in my mother's den for the past 24 hours recuperating from an infection that I managed to ignore for the past week. I have a really bad habit of doing that, due to the high pain tolerance I inherited from my her.

Interestingly enough, she is the person who has scolded me the most for not seeking medical attention sooner. I'm thankful that I can be here to recuperate, there's nothing like the comfort you feel at your mother's especially when you start to feel really scared and uncomfortable.

These days, beauty school and work consume all of my time, and I hope I'm not drifting too far from my dream of singing live. I haven't found the time to keep up with it, but the past day has reminded me of how important it is to reconnect with that part of me.

I have noticed how connecting with your creativity in one area can spill over into another. Beauty school is really reinvigorating that part of me that I cast to the side in favor of more "serious" and "intellectual" pursuits.

Only time will tell where this path will lead me. In the meantime I need to take better care of myself, body and soul.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Long lost friends

This evening I had a great conversation with a friend I had lost contact with years ago. We talked for quite a while and still could barely get off the phone.

It made me think about how much I've changed, or grown, over the past couple of years. I'm proud of the fact that when I reconnect with someone now and we vow to stay in contact, I can actually have faith that I will do that.

I used to accept friendships that didn't organically maintain themselves. If someone didn't ever return my phone calls, I would make excuses for them. I'd also give excuses when I didn't make time to maintain friendships.

Now I feel like a friendship is something that two people maintain. I do have friends who are very busy, who sometimes take a couple of days to get back to me. This never bothers me. I also realize that I don't have to feel guilty for letting go of friendships that no longer work.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Tuneful Tuesdays . . .

I missed Tuneful Tuesday last week because I was doing laundry at my mother's and lost track of time. By the time I realized, it was already after midnight on Wednesday. It didn't seem right to do it then.

So my one and only follower, besides myself, suggested that I pick certain days for certain kinds of posts. She has "Music Monday", and I will have "Tuneful Tuesday".

I'm going to post two videos today, since I didn't get to post on Tuesday last week. This first video is the source of the title of my blog. I think it comes from a biography of Sarah Vaughan. In the beginning, someone is commenting on her artistry, and how when she sat at the piano, she could play "beautiful changes". To me, jazz, and life, have so much in common. Sometimes you play the melody as written, and sometimes you improvise over and through the changes. Even though this was originally a blog about learning jazz piano, I thought the title was still appropriate.

So here is video number one. I love this video because you rarely get to see a clip of her playing the piano.

The second video is of another one of my ALL TIME favorite singers, Leontyne Price. Whenever I hear this specific recording, of this specific aria, I seriously lose it. I can't even come up with words about how it affects me. Her voice is just so exquisite that I go through phases where I listen to this song REPEATEDLY, for days on end. I'm in one of those phases now, which is why I'm writing about this today.

So here it is, Tacea la notte placida from "Il Trovatore"

Now I just need to come up with a theme for Wednesdays . . .

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Step One

Today I wrote the voice teacher I have selected requesting lessons. I hope it all works out.

Thursday I also let someone hear my singing clip that I posted here. Maybe it was the wine, but I felt especially open the other night. She had the same reaction as everyone else that has heard it. She liked it, yet she felt like it wasn't connected to breath.

At least I can trust my ear, to some extent, because I know that the sound isn't supported by the body. I just hope that lessons will help me get where I want to go.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Internal conflict

I'm feeling awkward today about my revelation yesterday. Part of me wants to remove the clip from the site, yet the other part of me wants to commit.

Then I started thinking, maybe I should edit what I wrote. Can I call it my soul's purpose if the vocal isn't absolutely perfect? The thin resonance, tentative delivery, and lack of breath support have me itching to take it down.

I should have chosen the name TimidChanteuse instead of TimidIvoryTickler.

I do hold dear the belief that you must be willing to make fashion mistakes to develop your personal style. I'm trying to extend that philosophy to this endeavor. I'm exposing my voice in it's most vulnerable beginnings in hopes that I will eventually mold it into something better.

It is still out of my comfort zone, but I am hopeful.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Living my truth

While I was at the beauty salon I read an interview of Ellen Degeneres (by Katie Couric). The following part inspired me to write this blog today.

KC: You’re a great role model, because you’ve stayed true to yourself. What advice would you give young women?

ED: Find out who you are and be that person. That’s what your soul was put on this earth to be. Find that truth, live that truth, and everything else will come.

I will confess my truth to the world on this blog. Unfortunately I think only one person actually reads my blog, but it's the thought that counts, right?

I have been working in secret for the past several years on what I believe my soul was put here to do. I want to be a cabaret singer. Not a world famous singer filling stadiums and walking red carpets. Just a person who gets up in front of a piano or a jazz trio and sings songs that show people who I am, and also who they are.

I put a clip on here of my singing. It definitely needs work and I plan on taking lessons this summer. But it's a start, and I feel comfortable enough doing it that I can get through my fear of taking lessons. I really have reached a point where I can't continue trying to teach myself how to sing, but this is how far I've gotten. I want the relief of letting the world know my truth, and I want to move forward living that truth. I am no longer satisfied with singing behind the four walls of my apartment.

So here goes nothing . . .

Thursday, February 18, 2010

New Focus

Today starts the new focus of this blog. More to come this evening.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Under reconstruction

I've decided to broaden the focus of this blog to cover my entire life. Will start anew tomorrow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Friday, January 15, 2010

Reworking things

After falling silent for almost a week, I just wanted to post something to get myself back in the habit. Will write more tomorrow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Eat, play, love

I am not practicing today due to several contributing factors. First of all, we are expecting 3-5 inches of snow overnight. This normally leads people to the grocery store, but since I'm pretty well stocked up, I ended up at World Market. I walked out with a bottle of Chilean wine, Spanish chorizo, anchovy paste (also from Spain), and Asian chili paste. Not sure how any of that will help me through this snow storm, but they have provided me with plenty of inspiration.

Of course, as soon as I got in, I opened the bottle of wine, and though I only had two glasses, I didn't feel like practicing. I did, however, feel like thinking and reflecting, and that's what today's entry is about.

"Eat, Play, Love" is my mantra for 2010. To eat well, to play music, and to love. I've never read the book, but I've always been drawn to the title. I'm going to do everything I can to live out the first two, and let my love for music guide me wherever it can.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Tuesday, January 5, 2010


I'm a little disappointed in myself for not sticking to the practice goal of one hour a day. I've still been hitting my mark with the scales and Hanon exercises though.

I feel a little fuzzy and distracted. The last couple of days have been interesting in non-musical ways. I'm hoping it's a permanent distraction, but I guess only time will tell.

I think it's curious how success, with me, breeds distraction. I realized how easier it is to learn scales by grouping them according to their fingering. Playing D major was a piece of cake because I've already practiced C and G. I should have moved on to another topic, but instead I just started doing something else.

Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Monday, January 4, 2010

Minor Frustrations

Yesterday I attempted to blog about Hanon Exercises 1 and 2, the scales I practiced, and most importantly the rhythm exercises I started doing. It wasn't until 11:55 last night that I realized that my blog didn't post.

I spent a whole paragraph talking about how I much I liked working on rhythms, and what I was doing to improve my gross motor skills. I practiced with octaves in each hand, C in the left and E in the right. I was blissful, even in the moment of writing it. I got up out of bed just to read what I wrote again only to find that it didn't post. (I might as well enjoy my own writing, since I have no subscribers.)

I think it was my iPhone, or more correctly, BlogPress, which is the app I use to post. I've typed this blog the "old-fashioned" way just to be safe.

Today I plan to practice the scales I mentioned in a previous post, more rhythms, and to continue working on Hanon Exercises 1 and 2 so that I can move on to 3 by the end of the week.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Quitting before getting started

Last year I bought Jazz Keyboard Harmony by Phil DeGreg, read the introduction, played through one of the exercises, then closed the book. This wasn't because the book was bad, but interestingly enough because whatever I played from it actually sounded good. If that's hard to understand, it's pretty similar to someone stopping treatment once it starts working because they start feeling so great.

After I recorded that short progression of nine chords, I felt like I had really accomplished something. I have been playing it back to myself over the past year either to: 1) remind myself that I found something that will lead me to the beautiful sounds I'm yearning to make, or 2) remind myself that I have wasted all this time not learning how to make these beautiful sounds. Whatever the reason, I'm finally starting back at square one. I really think that this book will start me off in the right direction.

I'm starting with Chapter 3, which uses only the guide tones. My goal is to make it through the entire chapter by the end of January.

So now I have three goals for January:
1. Learn all the Major scale fingerings.
2. Make it through Chapter 3 of Jazz Keyboard Harmony.
3. Brush up on counting rhythms (something I was pretty good at when I played clarinet.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone