11 March 2008

Music & Experience

When a singer truly feels and experiences what the music is all about,
the words will automatically ring true.
~ Monserrat Caballé

....every time there are losses there are choices to be made. You choose to live your losses as passages to anger, blame, hatred, depression and resentment, or you choose to let these losses be passages to something new, something wider, and deeper.

~ Henri Nouwen

There are days when I wish I had not experienced the pain and suffering that gives birth to some of my music and makes it “ring true.” Especially when I am still in the midst of feeling the pain, acknowledging the hurt and dealing with the betrayal. Being a person of intense emotions only magnifies all of these wretched steps. And then...I have a weekend where silence and solitude place their gentle hands on my broken heart, draw out the poison and leave me free to think and work through the pain. At the end, I am able to put down on staff paper where I am in the healing journey.

Such was this past weekend. I had Sunday off (it being a men’s schola weekend) and took the opportunity to spend the entire weekend out in the country. In addition to my physical illness, I have been struggling with the recent betrayal of someone very dear to me. I had been feeling a little like Eleanor Dashwood: experiencing all the pains of love without any of the benefits! What is a broken-hearted musician to do? Compose music about it of course! Not that all the music I write and sing is personally experiential ~ I recently composed a song for Beth and Sullivan ~ but my personal experiences are always fodder for the Muse ~ the more intense, the better.

Sometimes when I write, I don’t know what I want to say, or where the music will take me. In this case, it was through the act of composing the lyrics that I realized that I was mourning the death of a friendship that perhaps never really existed, which in some ways is sadder and more painful than the betrayal itself.
Letting go of an illusion is much more difficult then letting go of reality - one is tempted to believe that one cannot mourn or release a dream or an illusion ~ it seems so....silly. But the pain is certainly real as is the loss and thereby is worthy of grief.
So I mourn what could have been and what may have been and embrace the lessons that pain is teaching me this go 'round. And hopefully the recovery will be quicker than the last experience. For now, at least the music has improved. ;-)
Oremus pro invicem,

07 March 2008

How A Foodie Fasts

Life expectancy would grow by leaps and bounds if green vegetables smelled as good as bacon.
~ Doug Larson

The past couple of weeks have been a never-ending stream of x-rays, ct-scans, ultra-sounds and numerous hospital stays, all with the same answer: you are perfectly healthy and everything is functioning normally. We will just up the dosage of pain medication for the inexplicable and God-awful pain. Really? Thank you ever so much. Actually, a permanent IV of morphine would do nicely.

In short, the past couple of weeks have been exceedingly boring.

The most horrific part of my mystery illness has been the inability to eat anything. And I do mean anything. Well, anything solid and having any taste at all. Broth. This is what it has come to: broth. Sigh. Man does not live on broth alone….and neither does a Southern cook!

Happily, my non-existence appetite and broth exile has not affected my ability to cook and try new recipes on eager and willing friends and family. So I have filled my bed-ridden time pouring over foodie magazines, devouring old cookbooks and searching gourmet websites for ideas for the next culinary brouhaha: Easter dinner. This year, two of my roommates will be staying in town, so it promises to be a huge and absolutely insane gathering. I cannot wait!! If there is one thing I like better than cooking for my loved ones, it is cooking for a lot of my loved ones! ;-)

It has been a set-in-stone tradition in our family to serve ham for Easter dinner. No Virginia table would be complete without it and the one year we actually had Easter dinner out (the ultimate horror!) I swear I actually heard Robert E. do a 180 in his tomb! I myself am a great upholder of tradition ~ even traditions that are not strictly my own. I soak my soul in them! There is something comforting and connected about traditions ~ they say that what someone did and who they were mattered. And that hopefully we learn from what and who went before us. That being said, I also like to try new things.

So, how does this translate in the kitchen? Well, this year, the traditional ham will take center stage, but the glaze I use will be completely different from any I've tried before. I have not wuite decided on which one will win out, but I have several in the running. And in a supporting role this year will be lamb ~ a meat I have yet had the pleasure of swearing over…I mean, cooking. Not sure what costume it will be wearing when it does make its debut: in a stew or as a roast or perhaps even as chops? Then there will be the chorus: an endless array of sides: twists on old Southern standards, with some appearing in all their old regalia, completely untouched. After all, what’s the point of creating your own tradition if you don’t tip your hat to the old ones?
And the finale? Well, dessert will be a recap of what went before: old and new together. Mom's standard, old-fashioned coconut cake; my sister's rum-soaked banana pudding and something new, which I am still debating: dark chocolate and orange tart with toasted almonds, lemon panna cotta with blackberry sauce or individual maple and marscpone cheesecakes? Hmmm. Maybe I should have my readers vote on which dessert I should make (but of course, not eat!). Well, then ~ which should it be? Let me know!
And have a blessed and delicious weekend! ;-)
Oremus pro invicem,