Going Full Circle…….

Drummer Making Music

Drummer Making Music

There are delicious little ironies in life as well as those that bite you in the butt and this post is about one of the lovely ones. If you follow the blog, you know that I am actively involved in and support Homestead Center for the Arts and that we initiated the Music Series, MuSe, last year to bring another type of venue to the area. In most cases, it’s music in the garden of the White Lion Café where people can enjoy an outdoor setting with different genres – jazz, blues, blue grass. It’s been a hit and as we have explained, it really all started one day at lunch as we looked out onto the garden and I said something along the lines of wouldn’t it be great if we could set up a jam session some time. Just work out a time frame and invite whoever to come play and folks could listen in. My two companions are far more musically attuned to genre, etc., than I am and it did not take long for them to conceive of MuSe in the form it has come to have.

One of the gentlemen who puts groups together has an interesting number of musicians he can call on and he always comes through with a great group. It so happens that this week as we did R&B, I was not aware that this particular group of highly talented men wasn’t actually a group. It so happened they were individually skilled in R&B and came together for this performance with virtually no practice time. You wouldn’t know that from they way they blended and while it wasn’t quite a “jam session”, I could easily imagine seeing them doing something like that. It was a great night with wonderful music, great food, and lots of people having fun.

It’s The Little Things That Can Trip You Up…….

Well, I suppose what I really mean is that little things can get out of control and that then sets other things into motion. It should have been fairly simple. In the usual manner, I had a number of tasks planned before we left on our trip, some planned to take care of the morning before our afternoon flight, then a string that I needed to jump on as soon as we returned home. That was of course after we had a full and productive trip jammed tightly with activities – all of which were pleasant and involved family, friends, and fun. Ah yes – such were the plans. The problem with simple colds is that I, like many, choose to believe that they really only last about three to five days and the truth is that they last closer to 10-14. I finally looked it up out of sheer frustration. It’s the first 3-4 days when you are the most contagious. How contagious ever got translated into cured is a probably a combination of wishful thinking and advertisements that show folks up and doing well after taking pick-your-product. And then of course, there is the distinct possibility that now that I have tipped into that over-60 age category that perhaps my body doesn’t respond to things in quite the same way as before. Gee, wouldn’t that be a big surprise?

At any rate, what would have been a truly terrific trip was still terrific in the sense of things that we did providing that I didn’t pull a Typhoid Mary (which I shouldn’t have based on the calculations). Now, of course, I’m behind on several critical tasks that I need to make up which means I need to do a little re-prioritizing which I generally dislike doing. I mean, seriously, I do not have time for this nonsense. And that leads me back around to the little things – the reality is that I have been pushing myself very hard with several parallel projects and that probably impacted my resistance which allowed what could have been a relatively simple cold to hit me harder than it would have otherwise. In either case, I’ve been a bit of a mess for the past several days and hopefully am now ready to get back on track and will just have to admit that the recovery time isn’t likely to be shortened any. Now, do I still have a can of chicken soup in the pantry?

 

What A Performance……

No photos, I’m afraid, but the performance of Victory Road last night as a collaboration of the Bowen McCauley Dance Company and Jason and the Scorchers was terrific. Loud, mind you,  but as high an energy level as you could ask for and it met all our expectations and then some. Not having been familiar with the band’s music, it was a genre – “punk rock meets country” that works well and the lead guitarist and Jason were the two on-stage while the other band members were in the orchestra pit. I didn’t ask the direct question, but I imagine that was something new for them. The show featured fourteen pieces with the dancers and then Jason and the band did two more as encore.

Although Lucy, the founder and director of the company, had collaborate with popular regional bands before, this was by far the longest production and I think the first time with a band that has an international following. The story line was of the small town boy that strikes out to follow his music, leaving behind those he loves and knows. The rejections, the success, the traps of drugs and booze, the final emergence of getting it all together. It is a familiar story to anyone who has ever had the dream and broken through all the obstacles that deter most people.

As someone said during intermission, it’s hard to know how Lucy is going to top this, but she’s pretty creative and it did stretch the dancers’ boundaries. We’ll have to see what the future brings.

Easy Sausage and Egg Casserole….

As I have explained before, I don’t eat eggs, but that doesn’t stop me from understanding that a hearty breakfast or brunch is a time to do some sort of egg dish. Recently, we had friends over and one of the invitees has to be especially careful about carbs. I found an adaptable recipe in one of the regional cookbooks we have and while I cannot personally vouch for the dish, there were no leftovers and the other five individuals were complimentary. Now, I also was very careful about spice for the sake of our guests, but it’s a dish you can “kick up” with no problem.

This version serves 4-6 and bakes at 350. Ingredients are: 1 pound of bulk sausage (I use turkey or reduced fat); 1 cup milk (I use 2%); 1 &1/2 cups shredded cheddar (I use 2%); 4 eggs; salt and pepper to taste  and you can add 1 tsp red pepper flakes or several dashes of hot sauce.

Spray or butter a 1 & 1/2 or 2 quart baking dish. Brown the sausage in a skillet and put it into the dish. Lightly beat eggs with milk and add seasonings to the liquid. Pour that over the sausage and top with the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, but check at 20 minutes. It’s done when the eggs are set and the cheese is bubbly with edges browning.

You can imagine other variations with diced onions, sweet peppers, or mushrooms if you like those because the addition won’t alter the baking time.

Beer and Art…….

Mosaic on the Wall Made from Bottle Caps

Mosaic on the Wall Made from Bottle Caps

The other Saturday when we went to the grand opening of the Florida Keys Brewing Company (http://www. floridakeysbrewingco.com) in Islamorada, I got so carried away with the muralist that I posted about that I forgot to do the post about the beer and the event itself. Let’s start with the beer. It’s excellent, there’s a nice selection, and best of all, it’s brewed by folks who truly seem to love beer. As often happens around here, the only downside is not a lot of parking so going at peak times might be tricky. They don’t have a bottling capability at this stage, but they do have growlers and will be able to do local distribution to some of the restaurants. In a word, if you like beer – go see them. They don’t have food, although there was a special set-up for the grand opening and I’m not sure if they plan to have something like that periodically. I was told that there are a couple of restaurants in the area that will deliver there and that would seem to be a good arrangement.

As for art other than the murals, when we walked in to join the very happy crowd, we noticed a mosaic on the far wall and I assumed it was a standard mosaic. We walked closer and realized that whoever had created it (didn’t find out who that was), had used beer bottle caps. There was another one on the opposite wall that I could get to for a better photo and I always take delight when I see these kinds of things. I hope to pop back down and have a longer chat with the founders of the company after things settle a bit. I’m intrigued by how they brought it all together and how many different people played a part.

Close-up Of A Section Of The Bottle Cap Mosaic

Close-up Of A Section Of The Bottle Cap Mosaic

 

Easy and Versatile Tomato Tart…..

My post yesterday was derailed with a photo issue that hasn’t been resolved yet, so I’ll talk about this tomato tart. It’s another of those handy things that you can vary depending on what you need. At the basic level, it is a cheese and tomato tart. If you want to make your own pie crust, I commend you. Otherwise:

1 9-inch pie crust, 2 cups shredded white cheese (I use a packaged Italian blend), 2 medium ripe tomatoes, fresh chopped basil (optional). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the unbaked crust in a pie tin or pie plate. Cover the bottom with cheese. Slice the tomatoes and put one layer on top of the cheese. Salt and pepper to taste, add a layer of cheese, one more layer of tomatoes and finish with layer of cheese. Cover the edges of the crust with foil to keep them from burning. Bake for ten minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-12 minutes until the top is golden, but the crust isn’t burned. Sprinkle fresh basil over the top.

For variations, you can slice 1/2 a sweet onion and mince 1 clove garlic. Sautee those and add to the tomato layer. You can also layer in thin or diced ham for a heartier dish. And of course if you like spice, add some crushed red pepper according to your taste.

Gruyere, Swiss, or a blend of Mexican cheese also works, but I don’t recommend cheddar. I haven’t tried the soft cheeses, so I don’t know how they would be.

Creating Leaders…or Not……

Thoughtful content alert. If it is one thing that you get during a career in the military, it’s a lot of discussion about leadership. It’s also a big topic for college programs, business seminars, and at least millions of pages in books and other written material. One of the questions often asked is about born leaders versus teaching leadership and while that generates plenty of conversation, that isn’t actually the point to this post. Leadership techniques can be taught and there certainly can be late bloomers when it comes to taking on a leadership role and succeeding. On the other hand, there are people who are not suited to leadership. At least, not suited to being effective leaders that can create and/or sustain a productive environment that has minimal drama. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with not having the type of personality that lends itself to leadership. The initial problem comes in when such a person is placed into a leadership position. The second and more difficult problem is when that individual is unaware that he or she is not suited to leadership. I don’t plan on dwelling on all the ramifications of that and the complications that inevitably ensue.

No matter how one of these situations occurs, it tends to end badly either through the constant loss of personnel, a loss of effectiveness, finally having to release the failed leader, and in extreme cases, the business itself not surviving. (Okay, really extreme is workplace violence, but that definitely isn’t a topic I’m going to discuss.) The secondary point here that even though what often draws people to leadership roles is more money, if someone isn’t suited, they aren’t suited. If you are ever in a position to hire someone for a leadership role, while past performance is an indicator of future performance, so is length of time in a job. If someone has held multiple leadership jobs for three years or less, that’s something to question. In some cases, it’s the nature of a business where projects end or movement is required because of wide geographical needs. Barring that, however, you have to wonder about the frequent changes. The reality is that in today’s environment, former employers are often reluctant to give adverse information and you might have to couch questions like asking about employee turnover under that person. On the flip side, if you are a person who doesn’t feel comfortable in a leadership role, that’s okay. Maybe you even try it once to see and you realize that it isn’t for you. There’s nothing wrong with that and not wanting a leadership position doesn’t indicate a lack of ambition. It can, instead, be a matter of valuable self-awareness.

You Just Never Know Who You’ll Meet…..

Artist Monique Richter Working on a Mural

Artist Monique Richter Working on a Mural

Goodness, the past few days got away from me. Saturday was spent doing a couple of different things, one of which was attending the grand opening of the Islamorada Brewing Company that I’ll post about later. In the process of this, there was a muralist working on the back wall in what will be the main brewing area. We happened to catch her when she came off the ladder and what a fascinating discussion it turned out to be. Monique Richter of Facebook https://www.facebook.com/richter.art.7, has been a water lover all her life. She currently captains for a private yacht and specializes in murals. In taking a peek at her Facebook page, the “About” section provides more detail and I’ll give you a peek if you want to check it out.

“Many local artists look to the water for inspiration, but few have gone to the lengths — or indeed, depths — Monique Richter has in search of creative guidance.

Armed with an innate love of art and an enviable skill with a wide range of watersports — surfing, wakeboarding, wakeskating, freediving, and spearfishing — Monique has traveled extensively to feed an insatiable passion for her chosen muse. She’s traveled as a professional wakeboarder for competitions all over the world, to places like Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, Europe, the Caribbean, and South and Central America, and recently worked as a first mate aboard a sport fishing boat that through the British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and Cuba”

It was a delight talking with her and I’ll post later this week about the actual Brewing Company and how much fun that was.

Not Exactly Being A Proud Mama……

Victory Road Piece

Victory Road Piece

For those that have seen this clip of a peek at the rehearsal for the upcoming Bowen McCauley Victory Road performance 10 & 11 April at the Kennedy Center, I apologize for being redundant. I say this isn’t exactly a “proud mama” post because it isn’t about our son dancing in the show as much as it is about Lucy Bowen-McCauley, the founder of the dance company and how this show came about.

If you happen to be new to the blog (and welcome if so), our son entering the world of professional dance came as a very big surprise and not without a number of concerns. He is both a member of the dance company and also Ballet Master for the Fairfax Center for Ballet Arts where he teaches.

Lucy is quite possibly the most astute individual that I personally know when it comes to how to keep a small dance company going strong for almost twenty years now and win continuing accolades within the region. Aside from her sheer talent and a driving passion, one of the things that she does is incorporate live music into her performances, even if it’s a single instrument such as a cello. She has also forged relationships with local symphonies and the dance company will sometimes be a part of a symphony’s program. Victory Road is the other side of that coin where she collaborates with a band that has a following. She choreographs pieces to their music and thus fans of the dance company and of the band attend the performance. Jason and the Sorchers have a wide appeal (apparently) and they were excited enough to want a longer show than she usually does. It has been over a year in the making and we are really looking forward to it. Here’s the link to the preview: https://vimeo.com/121897980

Not The Beginning of A String…….

I promise that I am not going to do “Proud Grandma” moments as routine posts. This, however, is one of those moments since the arrival of Amelia Margaret did come with an element of humor. The actual due date was March 25, yet everyone who had been through this knows that due dates are not always the most accurate predictions. Notwithstanding those who schedule a delivery, the “on or about” is the best you can do and lots of first babies tend to be a week or two beyond that. Not surprisingly, this week was supposed to be prep for the kids getting all those last tasks taken care of and son had a premiere piece in which he was to be performing on Saturday night, the 14th. Hubby and I both had dual obligations on the 14th that meant we had to be out of the house by 7:00 a.m.; me not to return until after the evening event and hubby to only dash by the house to change clothes and join me for the evening event.

So, as we prepared for the Friday afternoon/evening obligation that we had, we were startled to receive the telephone call that the kids were on the way to meet the doctor at the hospital. Ah, not a serious complication, but moved the timetable up. I kept the cell phone close by and around 9:30 I texted to just say give a call no matter the time. The call came at almost 11:00 p.m., the actual birth at 10:14 p.m. on yes, Friday the 13th. And there goes the preparation, not to mention the not quite able to juggle other schedules and thus Saturday was a bit of a scramble with trying to communicate. At any rate, things did work out, everyone is fine, and Amelia apparently wasn’t the slightest bit concerned with the stir she caused.

Amelia Margaret's Early Arrival

Amelia Margaret’s Early Arrival