Monthly Archives: January 2014

One Night in Texas

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Through the work I did when I lived in Texas, I knew Stevie Ray.  This was back in the 80’s.  I can’t say that I liked him very much, but  I sure did like his playing!     THAT, I miss.

René Best guitarist

Meet Beatrix!

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Meet Beatrix….or  (“Bee” as she shall be fondly called), (or, as our grandchild calls her, “Honey Bee”) the newest member of our family.  She is 15 weeks old, and will be coming to live with us this weekend.  It was a long, arduous search to find the perfect little puppy, but alas.  The search is over!  She is a lavender, dark chocolate and white long coat chihuahua.

Oh, and check out her English Tudor style house!  Isn’t this a scream?!

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My friend, Sylvia, wanted me to name her, “Puddles”…but nooooo!   No way!    There shall be no puddles in my abode!  Bee is already litter box trained (like a cat!)  and already knows an entire list of commands, such as:  sit, stay…come.    She is VERY smart….like her mama! 🙂

Weeeeeeeeeeeeeee!   Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

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Oh….and don’t worry.  She might be a sweet little honey Bee…but I will not be dressing her up in costumes!

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The whole notion of getting a long haired chihuahua started with these two cuties, Frieda and SweetiePie

 

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These dogs belong to my sweet friend, Genie Webster, who is the ultimate  furbaby mama!

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My ears have been filled with stories about Genie’s two adorable pups, both of whom are part-chihuahua.  My friend kept telling me, “There is no greater dog than the long haired chihuahua. I think you should get one!”  …..and so I did!   You should SEE all of the equipment I got for her!  Baby gates and playpens and toys and beds and blankets and food and snacks and on and on..  I can’t wait to get her home!  Ingrid is going to love her!

 

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Mosaic Guitar Tutorial – Part 4

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René Best guitarist

A note before we begin.  This is part 4 of a mosaic guitar tutorial.   You need to search for the other 3 parts.  Sorry, but the way WordPress is set up, I’m going to have to do some adjusting once this is all over.  My plan is to carefully edit these tutorials and to put them in order and upload them to my art website….so what you are seeing in this blog is a very rough draft of the final product.  When we left off, we had sanded and sealed the guitar, marked it up with a design idea, and now, we’re ready to stick some glass!

The ‘Ol Glue Trick

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In order to achieve a nice, smooth, professional-looking edge, one should mosaic the sides of the guitar first. It is so tempting to want to get to the fun part….namely, the front and back, but no.

I discovered this trick awhile ago, and it works very well for sticking tesserae to curvaceous surfaces.  I use Weldbond glue, and it can be a little runny.  Couple that with gravity and one’s tile and slip and slide around.    I simply squeeze a portion of glue into a container and allow it to be exposed to the air for about 20 minutes before working with it.  This will cause it to be more tacky.  Butter the actual guitar with the glue and stick the tiles into it rather than butter the back of each tile.  You will have a little time to work with it to make adjustments.  Just butter a small area at a time.

I have chosen to use 3/4″ mirror tiles for the sides.  You can buy these pre-cut or cut them yourself, whatever you’re more comfortable with, and by no means, do you have to use perfect shapes.  You can stick random shapes, use glass, tile…whatever you want.  I’m going to be using all kinds of things on this guitar, but for the sides, I’m going to use mirror tile just for the reflective qualities and the look that I want to achieve in the end.  You can use tile, metal….whatever you want.

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Every once in awhile, I’ll stick either a textured mirror tile or a colored tile in to break the monotony of the surface.  This really does add interest after the piece has been grouted.  I do not care for perfectly aligned rows and perfect tiles.  A machine can do that.    I use wheeled nippers to cut the tiles into the sizes that work best.

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Simply continue to cover the sides all around, working up to the neck of the guitar.

 

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Next time, we will talk about the fretboard and the back of the guitar’s neck.

 

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So…..she made a grapefruit meringue pie instead…..

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A friend said she planned to go down to Cali tomorrow, so I asked if  she  would please take my husband one of my lemon meringue pies.  John loves my Meyer lemon pies…a little on the tart side, piled high with light, fluffy meringue.  I thought it would be a nice surprise for him if I whipped one up.

I made the crust, and was all ready to start on the filling….

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René Best guitarist

…when I discovered that the wonderful, organic Meyer lemons I’d just purchased were not good.  It happens.   I fervently searched the refrigerator for something else…and came up with these organic grapefruits.  “Hmmmmm….” I thought.  “I wonder…..”

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René Best guitarist

“Oh…why not?”

I figured I had nothing to lose by substituting one citrus fruit for another….so I used my same Meyers lemon pie recipe, only I used fresh squeezed organic grapefruit juice instead.

The results were very interesting.  First, the pie does not taste of grapefruit except for a faint hint left on the back of the tongue once it has been swallowed.  It has a sort of citrus-honey flavor and is quite delicious….but not identifiable.  It LOOKS just like lemon meringue pie…but this is a pie that I will not be sending to my husband, because I fear he will be disappointed that the flavor is not his favorite.    Once he comes home, I’ll try it again and see how he likes it.

I uses a very simple, but delicious, recipe:

  • 1 1/8 cups turbinado sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 3/4 fluid ounces fresh-squeezed, organic grapefruit  juice
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 (9 inch) pastry shell, unbaked

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F .
  • 1 1/8 cups turbinado  sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 3/4 fluid ounces fresh-squeazed, organic grapefruit juice
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • Your favorite 1 (9 inch) pastry shell, unbake

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F .
  2. Place sugar, eggs, and grapefruit juice in a blender; blend until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  3. Pour melted butter into the blender and blend for 30 seconds more.
  4. Transfer lemon filling to the pastry shell.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven until filling is just set, 30 to 35 minutes. Allow pie to rest until completely set before serving, about 15 minutes more.

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Yum-o!

Yuppie Scum Pizza & Root Beer

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As many of you know, I am currently working on a vegetarian cookbook.  My angle is to take traditional recipes and turn them into more healthful vegetarian versions.  This is easier said than done.  Back when I ate meat, there is no denying that I was an excellent cook.  I knew all of the traditional Italian, French and even Chinese dishes and could knock your socks off with some dynamic and dramatically delicious meals.  Today?   It is not a given that whatever I cook will turn out well.  I have drastically reduced the amount of fat, salt and sugar that I cook with.  I seldom use dairy.  I never use meat or meat by-products such as chicken broth or beef broth, so I have had to find ways to compensate for this.  Sometimes they work.  At other times, they do not.

Lately, I have been experimenting with pizza.  My kids used to make fun of my pizzas because I was never much into the red sauce and piles of meats and cheeses on top.  I’ve always gone the gourmet route.  They used to call them my “Yuppie Scum Pizzas”.  The other night, I was experimenting with this one:

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This isn’t a great photo, but it is shiitake mushrooms, organic baby greens (kale, chard, spinach), garlic and chèvre on a light, herbed crust with pesto.  This was a delicious pizza.  When I was cooking it, I had the windows open to air out the house, when I heard a knock on the door.  It was my friend, Dave, homemade root beer in hand.

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“I couldn’t help but notice that delicious aroma coming from your house when I walked by, so I thought I’d bring you some of my homemade root beer.  Whatever you are cooking will probably taste pretty good with this!”    and he was right.  This root beer was spectacular, and the perfect compliment for my pizza.  He joined me for pizza and root beer and we had a lovely evening watching, “The Last Waltz” together.

Sassafras, sarsaparilla and wintergreen, the herbs use to make root beer, are surrounded by a bit of controversy.  All of them contain safrole, which was once thought to be a carcinogen.   Then again,  this article from Nourished Kitchen explains why there is nothing to fear.

“Wintergreen leaf, though almost always an ingredient in most traditional root beer recipes, replaced sassafras as the prominent flavor in root beer during the 1960s when a study conducted on lab animals implicated safrole, a naturally occurring polyphenol, in liver cancer.  Of course, the lab rats were fed massive quantities of safrole – the human equivalent of consuming about 32 twelve-ounce bottles of root beer a day. After the study was released, the FDA required commercial soft drink makers to remove sassafras from their brews. Of course, cinnamon, nutmeg and basil also contain safrole but this seemed to escape the attention of the FDA.

Interestingly, while massive quantities of safrole caused liver cancer in lab animals, it seems that small doses may actually play a protective role for humans.  Some studies indicate that safrole may actually stimulate the death of cancer cells, particularly oral cancers though it may also do so in lung and prostrate cancers.

Wintergreen, already an ingredient in root beer, offered a flavor profile strikingly similar to that of sassafras, and made a ready replacement.  Most root beers made today contain neither sassafras nor wintergreen and are instead made with artificial flavors.  Even wintergreen extract, the preferred flavoring for many home brewers, is difficult to attain and typically is made with propylene glycol – a petrochemical.”

One should  consult with a doctor, health care practitioner or herbalist before consuming any herb, especially if  pregnant, nursing or have some kind of medical condition that requires medication.  There is always the possibility of danger when mixing herbs with medications.  

Homemade Root Beer:

A variety of other herbs have also been used in traditional root beer recipes (including sarsaparilla, burdock, anise, licorice, astragalus and others).  Dave’s simplified version is much more budget friendly as many of these herbs are hard to source and expensive. 

Before beginning, it is important to have the culture ready to go.  Dave uses a homemade ginger bug in this recipe as it gives both the flavor and carbonation, though any type of natural culture could be used.

Homemade Root Beer
 
Old Fashioned Root Beer Recipe Nourishing and healthy Homemade Root Beer

A simple and nourishing fermented homemade root beer (non-alcoholic) with herbs and beneficial cultures.
 
  • ½ cup Sassafras Root Bark
  • ½ teaspoon wintergreen leaf (or more- try this to taste but start with a little as it has a very strong flavor)
  • 1 cup unrefined organic cane sugar like rapadura
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 1 cinnamon stick or 1 tiny dash of ground cinnamon (optional)
  • dash each of coriander and allspice (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons of natural vanilla extract
  • 3 quarts filtered water
  • ¼ cup lime juice (optional but good for flavor)
  • ¾ cup homemade ginger bug or other starter culture like whey or vegetable starter
 
Instructions
  1. Put the sassafras root bark and wintergreen leaf in a large pot. Add cinnamon, coriander and allspice if using.
  2. Add 3 quarts of filtered water and turn on high heat.
  3. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove herbs.
  5. While still warm, add the sugar and molasses and stir until dissolved.
  6. Let cool until warm but not hot and add the lime juice and then then ginger bug or other culture and stir well.
  7. Transfer to grolsch style bottles or jars with tight fitting lids and allow to ferment for several days at room temperature.
  8. Check after two days for carbonation and when desired carbonation is reached, transfer to refrigerator and store until use.
  9. Enjoy!
 
 
If desired, the following can be added to the original boil but they are not needed:
-2 cloves
-1 tablespoon licorice root
-1 tablespoon grated ginger root
-1 tablespoon hops flowers
-1 teaspoon of anise or fennel
 

 

Some old poetry

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These  are some of my older poems:
We are….
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Two notes
Harmonious Duet
in Spirit and in flesh
Adagio & capriccio at once.
Restful at ease…but spirited
Composing our own chromatic scale
We are enharmonic intervals
Two notes…
Differing in name only
Homophony, meant to play
in unison
Intimate in character,
…yet impromptu
Timeless and classical
Yet newly composed
Playing each measure
lovingly and in tempo
A Romantic prelude
to our climatic symphony.
 
guitarkiss

heart-moon

A Heart Struck Moon

Our flesh entwined

on the altar bed.
Moonlight
gently bathes
Cimmerian shade
with lustrous alms.
of light.
and love.
A heart struck moon
Paints lace of light,
Across our mortal souls,
We kiss goodnight.
 blue angel

Pseudologia Fantastica

With mirrors

summoned from

A childhood priest,

Fata Morgana

sweeps a rusty Midas

high and away

in the cold-hearted

dry autumn air.

Calcine flames

wildfire

over Incubus’ air castles

Ere tornados blast their

cinders to the cheerless heavens.

Algonquin’s frosty smile.

Dreaming of her king’s

resplendent touch

Her inexorably

treasured taste

of gold.

I am the charred remains.

 foxfire

The Luminescence of Foxfire

The luminescence of foxfire

bathes decaying wood.

Suffused, languished light

yearning for the magic

that lives in old books

and fond familiar thoughts.

Meridian shadows can

gull a blind blue eye

into higher thoughts

that quickly drop beneath

dark forest canopies,

and eternal nights of

faintly obscuring leaves.

leafless

Season

Leafless branches reach
to the cloudy darkness of the
December Portland rain.
 pregnant

Gestation

Art waits inside my brain.

Forming sinewy
limbs to create words

twisting forth and bursting

beating with the same heart
as my own

Waiting to emerge.

Stacy Alexander
2009

 drop of blood

Poem for a poem

A poem surged
through my brain
blood though vein
dense and viscous
deep. red. irreverent.
Now it rests
on my bones
and on desert
dry , brittle. soft. gray. white.
Stacy Alexander
2009

Let me Roll….it ….to ya…

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Today is an excellent day for juicing!

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20140108-155949.jpg‘Twas a rainy day  in Portland today.  I thought that since it was raining and the middle of the week, not many people would be out grocery shopping.  I was wrong!  Seemed like everyone was there today…the whole city!   But with produce this beautiful, who can complain?

 

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I bought a lot of fruits and vegetables, and some ginger, which I put into all my juices, and I came home, fired up the Breville juicer and went to town!

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I must say, this was a nice diversion from writing about home repairs in Bethesda, MD. or working on my statistics homework, or writing that paper that is due soon about personality theory.  I love the whirring sound the juicer makes and I love the deep, rich, green color of the juice as it comes out of the spout!  This WAS an excellent day for juicing!

René Best guitarist

20140108-160036.jpgAnd this juice was DELICIOUS!!

 

Occupation

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I have just returned from a long walk with John.   He is leaving for the Bay Area soon, where he will spend the majority of the winter.  We are both feeling a little sad on on edge because of this today, but we talked about it, and we’re both really looking forward to our prospective occupation of time apart as well.  That is how it is with us.  I may choke back the tears, but have to admit that we do not have to be together to still enjoy one another and share what we are doing.  We are always together…regardless of any physical distance between us.

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When he gets back to  San Francisco, he will be starting a new play and trying to further shop the 3 plays that he has completed, to try for a production deal.  They are good plays, so we are both confident that it is only a matter of time until one gets produced.  He will also be teaching an Introduction to Literature class and an International Film course.

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I will be taking a Theories of Personality class from Southern New Hampshire University, and a  Advanced Research Methods class that involves stat, so have enrolled in an advanced stat course from WEI, a great free resource.  On the 17th, I will resume my songwriting course from Berklee College of Music, and in March, John and I will be taking a Buddhist Meditation and the Modern World course together from Coursera.  In addition to this, I vow to go to my studio twice a week, at the very least, and to go to the gym at least four times.  If I go three I will be happy.  If I go twice, I will still be happy.    I guess it doesn’t take a lot to make me happy.

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The trip we took together recently instilled a wealth of experience in both of us and we are looking at life through new lenses now.   Memories were made.  On our way home, we stayed in  Tucson at the home of a woman who wants to work with me in the future and I take pride in having amassed such a dynamic group of women with whom to work, on down the line once I finish up my masters.

ImageSuffice it to say, there are plans in the works…good, fulfilling plans.  Life looks better all the time.

Protected: Abundance Issues

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Self Acceptance in The New Year

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This year.   I have an exercise for you.  This is about self loathing. And self-acceptance.

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Take a plain white sheet of paper.  Fresh paper.  No lines.  And get a really good ink pen…whatever kind you like.  Then….make a list.  Write the numbers 1 – 10 in a line down the page.

Next, list the top ten things that you loathe about yourself.  It could be anything.  Your hair.  Your inability to come up with a clever witticism when needed.  Your inability to perform mathematical calculations.  You’re a lousy cook.  You think you’re too fat.  You hate the sound of your own voice.  Whatever you don’t like about yourself….Write it down.

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THEN….

BURN IT!!!                                     René Best guitarist

That’s right.  Take the list outside and set that mo-fo on fire!  Burn up every single negative, self-loathing thing you said about yourself…and when the fire goes out and you are left with ash….send it up to the sky!  Let the breeze carry it away!

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Then….Make a new list.

Make a bunch of lists.  Put them up all over your house.  List the things you love about your life.  List the things you love about yourself.  List those things you are grateful for.  List the people and things that make you happy.

Then smile.

There is nothing wrong with you.   Everything is as it should be for now.  Everything is going to be alright.

PORTLANDIA – January 1, 2014

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Happy New Year!

I took a long walk around Portland today and tried to capture the heartbeat of the city in my photos.  I hope you will enjoy these shots that I took in the Clinton/Division and Hawthorne areas.

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blue balloon

balloon trio

 

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