Monday, October 28, 2013

A Wrinkle in Time (or Wrinkled by Time)...TV Times

In 1947, Motorola introduced the VT-71 television for $189.95, the first television set to be sold for under $200, finally making television affordable for millions of Americans. Does it seem coincidental that this occurred shortly after my birth? I think not.
    I grew up alongside the developing television industry. I first remember watching TV at Grandma Della's. I was enthralled by the antics of Howdy Doody (I don't know if this link works)...and his friends, Buffalo Bob, Clarabelle the Clown, and Princess Summerfallwinterspring. These were watched on a small black and white set in my grandparents living room. Grandpa Earle and Grandma Dorothy were also early adopters of the new technology. (Here's Aunt Val at Grandma Eck's...notice their TV on the left)



 At home we didn't get a TV until I was about 9 (1954). Clarabelle the Clown started his own show as Captain Kangaroo;  another favorite was I Love Lucy and Perry Mason, Superman, The Lone Ranger, Lassie and Rin Tin Tin. I was delighted to get a Howdy Doody marionette one year for Christmas.

     In 1954 we started watching Disneyland on Sunday nights...Disneyland was opened in 1955. We were all glued to the set to watch the serialized Davey Crockett. After school we would tune in to The Micky Mouse Club with the lovely Annette, Darlene, Cubby and Karen. We loved the adventures of Spin and Marty. Later we watched American Bandstand with Dick Clark and Rocky and Bullwinkle.
    My parents liked to watch The Dinah Shore show and Ed Sullivan. I can remember sneaking into the family room after being put to bed and hiding behind the orange Naugahyde couch to watch Dinah and her guests(See the USA, in your Chevrolet!)
    Color TV started to become available in the late 50's, but I don't think Grandpa Roger got one until maybe after I went to BYU(maybe Val remembers?).... I remember babysitting for the Kravitch's who had a color set and being amazed at seeing Bonanza in "living color".




   Watching TV was different then. For one thing, when we watched TV, we watched TV, and, except for afterschool kids shows, or baseball games, we watched as families. And there was no channel surfing because we didn't have remote controls. You actually had to get up, walk to the TV and turn the knob! There wasn't much motivation to channel surf however because there were only three channels.  The TV was usually turned off for dinner, although there were some new inventions, TV Dinners and little TV trays. We often begged to be able to "finish this show" before coming to dinner. I remember seeing a program (like Mr. Wizard) that showed how in the future there would be machines that would "save" your program so you could come back after dinner and watch it later!Can you imagine? It was beyond my comprehension. Other favorite shows included Leave It To Beaver, This is Your Life, Alfred Hitchcock, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,
   TV caused a bit of a crisis during high school...in those days I always did my homework at my desk in my bedroom.  Doing homework in the family room while watching TV just never occurred to me. So some nights I would have to decide whether to do my homework or watch Have Gun, Will Travel, 77 Sunset Strip or The Honeymooners. I would do a little self talk...in 20 years what will matter most? me watching this show or doing my algebra?  Of course I always decided to go do my homework (I was no fun!)...if only I'd known about reruns!


    One last experience I remember was when I was babysitting Aunt Val and Uncle Jesse while Grandma Janiece and Grandpa Roger were out for the evening. I liked to watch The Twilight Zone...but in our family room we had a big sliding door that took up most of the wall opposite the couch where I sat. If I forgot to close the drape before the show started it became a big black wall looking out into a dark moonless light.  Who knew what lurked outside...I was often too creeped out by the show to get up and close it and go to bed. I'd wait until mom and dad came home before I'd venture past.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Wrinkle in Time (or just Wrinkled by Time)...Piano lessons





 Piano lessons

Brady and Parker have started piano lessons recently with a “real” teacher (not just “grandma”lessons) which makes me remember that piano lessons were a very big part of my younger life.


  When I was about eight, my folks bought a piano so I could begin taking lessons. My Grandpa Earl was an accomplished pianist. I think his mother, Grandma Clara, envisioned him as a concert pianist, but his career was literally “cut” short when at age 14 he severed the first knuckles of two of his fingers in an accident in a machine shop where he was working part time. Despite this he continued playing, although not at the concert level. In the 1920 census, he gives his occupation as “musician”, although he actually became an insurance broker.


 I remember him playing  “Chances Are” (Johnny Mathis), when I was a little girl in the 50’s. Grandma Dorothy gave me his piano when she moved to Rossmore and now it’s being played by his great great grandchildren! (I'll insert picture of them here when I get it)

   Grandpa Roger also took piano lessons for several years beginning when he was about five...I don’t ever remember him playing, but I do have some fairly advanced piano music that was his.
On the other side of the family, Grandma Janiece’s biological father, John Leslie Walters, played background music as he showed the silent pictures to the attentive audiences in various small southern Utah towns, including Circleville, where he met and married Grandma Della. One of the only things Grandma Janiece had of her father’s after her parents divorced were several volumes of  piano music. They sit on our bookshelf at home.













So you can see that parental expectations of my musical talent was pretty high...no pressure, right? My first teacher was Mrs. Junqua. I walked about six blocks to her home for my lessons, over a mile, on the other side of busy Bascom Ave....I was eight!
      I remember sitting at her grand piano with my feet barely reaching the floor.  I worked my way through Schaum Pre A, and most of Schaum A, and then it was time for my first recital. It was held at an auditorium in downtown San Jose with a big grand piano up on a stage. I was terrified. I played “Airey Fairies”(I can humm it if you like)...but I was never good at playing from memory because when I practiced I always started over at the beginning of a piece if I made a mistake. So when I made the inevitable mistake during my performance I just went back to the beginning and started over...I did that a couple of times until I figured I had played long enough, stopped rather abruptly, stood up, took my bow and escaped the stage.
      While I had enjoyed learning to play and the attention it brought from admiring parents and grandparents, performing was definitely a downside. Another downside was practicing. Young pianists can master most early music pretty easily (Here we go, in a row, to a birthday party)...but eventually there comes a time when it’s necessary to practice! I went through a few piano teachers after that, refusing to go to my lesson because I didn’t want to endure the disapproval of my teacher for not practicing! And I think I would often quit about the time the teacher mentioned the word “recital.” I don’t remember being in too many of them after that.














Eventually when I was about 12 I started taking from my Aunt Bonnie who was a “professional” piano teacher...I took the bus to her studio in downtown San Jose. Aunt Bonnie was Grandma Dorothy’s sister. She had great hopes for me; she had published a couple of books of organ instruction and talked about touring the US with me to demonstrate the success of her method...but after a couple of my lessons at her organ, she dropped the whole thing. I remember learning "Dream of Olwen" and "Theme from The Apartment".  Another of my favorite pieces was Rachmaninov's " Prelude in C#Minor."
   In high school I took from Helga...a  lady that also taught the Pace’s children. She came to their house on Saturday morning to give 3 or 4 lessons; my lesson was at 7 am! I also practiced now, getting up at 5 am to practice before getting picked up for 6 am Seminary. Once I got my driver’s license I drove to her house out off Lark Avenue for lessons at a more reasonable hour. She was an interesting person....although not LDS, she had lived in Salt Lake where she had been a paid organist for a couple of wards in downtown SLC. Her house had all white shag carpets and no furniture except for two grand pianos. Once she invited me for dinner and we sat on the floor at a table made of a black door on stacks of bricks. My main memory of piano at this time was learning Bach’s Concerto in D Minor (click here if you want to know how it’s supposed to sound!)
 

 I just learned the first movement...it was 26 pages and, you guessed it, I was supposed to memorize it for a big recital. Memories of the evening include me making occasional mistakes and having to “back up” in the music to restart. My teacher was playing accompaniment...somehow she followed me, and I made it to the end...I think that was my last recital! Needless to say, I didn’t minor in music when I went to BYU!
    I was pretty much a “plodder” when it came to piano...I could play somewhat after many hours of pretty non productive practicing. I wish I had had a teacher who taught me how to practice efficiently.
   Tiny talent though I may have had, playing piano has brought me a lot of joy...it’s great fun to play (without an audience), it’s allowed me to bring some music into my children’s lives, it allowed me to teach and allowed me to be of service at church. As I used to tell parents of my students...either your child will hate you as a child for “making” them take piano, but love you as an adult because you gave them lessons...or they will love you as a child for letting them quit piano lessons, but “hate” you as an adult because you let them quit! You can’t have it both ways... Each Sunday as I play for Relief Society, I feel so appreciative of my parents, mainly my mom, for hanging in there and dragging me back to piano lessons despite my complaining.



Sunday, October 13, 2013

Fun with Grandkids...

 Hiking in Redwood Regional Park...


 Who says there's no fall color in California?




 Halloween fun at balloon house mania!


 The "traditional" Nieman Pumpkin Man..



Cupcakes with Kody!

Play date...he's King Kody...


Cupcakes with Penny!







Beautiful baby boy....Crew!







Tending Penny...it's easy (shhhh...don't tell Dave and Jess how much tech she gets when with me!)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bruschetta Soup


Bruschetta Soup

 :
Toss together and roast in oven at 450 for 20 minutes (stir after 10 minutes)
 
4 C thinly sliced onions (about 2 medium)
EVOO
1/4 t salt (optional)
1/4 t freshly ground pepper

Then add to pan:
4 C halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 C thinly sliced garlic

Continue roasting about another 20 minutes until tomatoes are beginning to brown in spots.
Slice some thick slices of artisan bread (I used Trader Joe's whole wheat Pain Pauline), toast on a baking sheet for the last 10 minutes the tomatoes/onions are roasting.

Transfer to large pot and add 4 C chicken broth (I used low salt no-chicken broth)...bring to simmer...

Chop some fresh basil (about 15 leaves)

To serve: place bread in bottom of large flat soup bowl; top with soup, a little basil and some parmesan cheese. 


Friday, October 11, 2013

Snickery-Doodles (no, it's not vegan!)

Snickery-Doodles
(from Sallys Baking Addiction )

I don't know if it's a good idea to mess with a classic recipe....so I keep eating these and trying to decide!

First chop up 4 regular Snickers bars (or 10 fun size). I cut them down the middle, then chopped about 1/3 inch slices across...put these in the freezer while you make the cookie dough. (if cooked while room temp they will ooze all over the cookie sheet!)

Blend well:
1 C butter (it called for unsalted, but I used regular), room temp
1 1/3 C white sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 t vanilla

Stir together and add:
3 C flour
2 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
2 t cinnamon(this is a departure from the traditional recipe)
1/2 t salt

Additional sugar and cinnamon for rolling.

Then dump in your chilled Snickers; form into balls...I smoothed them so the candy chunks weren't sticking out of the dough which helped to keep all their deliciousness inside the cookie. Roll in sugar/ cinnamon mix and bake on Silpat or foil covered baking sheet...Don't over bake! I did mine for 10 minutes...they might have been better at 9....if you remove them to a wire rack to cool it might keep them from overbaking.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hulk Soup! (Creamy no-cream zucchini-basil soup)



A very QUICK soup!...Just chop the veggies, saute, simmer, blend....This is slightly adapted from Mel's Kitchen Cafe....this is a double recipe, because you'll want leftovers or some to share!It has a very creamy consistency...but contains none!

1 T olive oil (or use Pam if you prefer)
3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, diced
4 medium zuccini, chopped (about 6-8 C)
1 t salt...I didn't add this
1/2 t pepper (freshly ground is nice)
4 C low-sodium chicken stock (I used "No-Chicken"Broth...low sodium)
1/2 bunch (about 4 T) fresh basil, chopped
4 C fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped

You could also add some chunks of cooked chicken (rotisserie?)

Saute onions, garlic, zucchini, seasoning with (salt) and pepper, 3-4 minutes, until onions have softened. Add 2 C broth, cover and cook about 10 minutes, until zucchini is falling apart. 
Add basil and blend with an immersion blender or in a blender or food processor...I liked the immersion blender as it doesn't liquify things quite so much. Return to pot and add spinach and 2 more cups broth. Cook about 5 minutes until heated through. Add chicken if desired. Serve with sour cream and sprinkle with nutmeg...

***You could also stir in a package of fat free cream cheese, softened a bit in the microwave if you don't mind the additional calories/dairy....but it's really delicious as is.