Last year, TG made some mindbendingly good ice cream by combining the recipe for vanilla with 2 pints of hand-picked raspberries from a batch of plants that we have growing in several places in our yard. Somehow, we managed to get both raspberries of the red and black variety, and the combination of the two plus ice cream makes for something quite delightful.

It’s currently harvesting season, so for the past week or so, one of my nightly chores has been to take the little plastic container down out of the freezer and add whatever ripe berries I can to our ever-growing stash. Judging by the rate at which they’re ripening, we should have more than enough to do up a batch of ice cream in the next 2 weeks. I have a weakness for certain flavors of store-bought stuff, but let me tell you that nothing comes close to the three batches (Meyer lemon, raspberry, and mango sorbet) we’ve made for ourselves in the past year since we bought our ice cream maker new in the box at a yard sale for 5 dollars.

The Good War by Studs TerkelAlthough I went through my history classes in high school and managed to get A’s, I somehow either didn’t retain or simply didn’t learn about a lot of events in world history that I should have. World War II was only one of these events, and I thought that the best place for me to dive into things would be with a familiar writer that I enjoyed. The Good War is now the fourth book by Studs Terkel that I’ve read in the past year, and I honestly have no reason to want to stop. His interviews almost perfectly capture the wide range of the human condition, and his assembly and structuring makes for good reading.

While I wasn’t a complete idiot about WWII when I started the book, there were many things that I learned within that I decided I wanted to know more about in depth. Even though the big isn’t one of detailed statistics and figures, the sheer numbers and size of the war in just about every degree boggled my mind at points. Terkel talks to not only people from the United States, but people from both Allied and other positions in Europe. He speaks to those who were on the European stage, the Pacific stage, and even those on the homefront.

As always, the insight of the “common” person within his books seems to at times be some of the most profound reading that I’ve read. Words flow like poetry at times and the book spans the wide range of emotions from blind patriotism to enveloping sadness at events that have taken place. As with other Terkel books I’ve read, I would highly recommend this to anyone. In fact, it’s probably the best Terkel book that I’ve read thusfar.

On a related note, I now plan to read more about World War II. I posed the question of what might be the best semi-concise historical non-fiction tome on WWII to another forum, and I was recommended both The Second World War by John Keegan and A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II by Gerhard Weinberg. Both are supposed to be quite good at laying out the timelines and history of the war, with the latter being especially in-depth (which isn’t surprising given the almost 1,200 page length). Anyone else have any great WWII non-fiction titles they’d recommend?

When I was at the store last weekend, I was looking through the green peppers and noticed one that stuck out like a sore thumb. It was about 3 times as large as any of the other peppers, and basically looked like some sort of freakish mutant pepper. It was completely normal in all other respects, but nonetheless I had to purchase it. It was so large that it frightened our dogs., who usually enjoy eating little bits of green pepper when I’m cooking.

Elsa and the green pepper

It’s been almost a year since the last official recorded output (the Summering EP) of Marianas was released to the public. Like a lot of groups, we had a ton of songs that we worked on and never released. All the songs are in various stages of completion and people in the group all have different opinions about whether they actually like them, which are the main reasons we’ve never done anything with them.

A couple weeks ago, I came up with the idea of posting one song per week on my blog here, with the intention of getting 5 or so of the best songs out into the world, but after some discussion with the rest of the group, the idea was scrapped.

I have all the songs in my iTunes, though, and some of them manage to get pushed through the random playlist a fair amount. One of them catches my attention just about every time, and it’s not because it’s the best or the most inventive, rather it just seems nice to me.

So yeah, it’s hard to explain, but the track linked below feels like the close of spring and the beginning of summer to me. It’s a bit rough, and it’s very simple (two guitars and one organ played by Aaron G, Ryan, and I) compared to the majority of our work, but it came on again tonight and I wanted to shove it off into the world.

Download “Untitled”

On Friday, TG got a call from a friend of hers about an immediate need for a foster home for a little Boston Terrier. This particular dog had bounced around from home to home and the current owner of said dog was planning on taking them to the local pound. Because we have a little room and are suckers for little dogs, we decided that we would give the little pup a home.

So, we now have three Boston Terriers under our roof. How long we keep Lucy sort of depends on how well she gets along with our two current dogs, and despite a few spats, it’s been fairly smooth sailing so far. Without further ado, a picture of Lucy…

Lucy the cartoon dog

This past week or so has been sort of a blur of business as usual around here. I’ve been writing and reading and working on some music and tending to the garden and the yard and attending a few family events and trying to keep my sleep patterns normal after the warmer weather threw me off. I’m about halfway through with a nearly 600 page book, I’ve felt the agony of defeat several times as the baseball team I follow (Nebraska Cornhuskers) limped into the conference tournament after a great season start, and I got my haircut shorter than it has been in years.

There have been other things, but that’s about the jist of it lately. TG is taking not only an online summer course, but an intensive 3-week course that basically has her doing homework every single night (including weekends), so I’ve found things to do by myself and have kept busy at them. This past week has been great (other than the every present wind) for rollerblading especially, and I’ve taken advantage of it. In the past 5 nights, I’ve managed about 30 miles, including a burnout in 85 degree heat yesterday that left me gasping in a good way.

This seems to be a bit of a quiet period for the most part. Plants are growing but not producing yet, several little projects are still floating on the hard drive in states of various completion, and the changing weather is making everything seem like a bit more of a chore than it should be.

At least the beer is cold.

This week while doing my reviews, I realized about halfway through that one of my featured albums was going to be a release in which the artist name, album title, and songs were all in Finnish. For a moment, this put a bit of fright into me, as I didn’t want to completely butcher the pronounciation while doing the podcast, then I just decided to do an internet search and see what I could find.

As it turns out, I found a site that not only gave pronounciations of different syllables and letters (including special characters), but included sound files so you could hear how they were supposed to come out. After doing a little bit of reading and some prep time, I just managed to plow through the podcast with the help of the online guide. Of course, I probably still messed things up, being as that I’ve never been in Finland (although somewhat close with a trip to Sweden and Denmark) and find myself plop in the middle of the United States, but hopefully I don’t offend too many ears.

Who says I don’t learn anything doing these dang reviews?

Can't Stop Won't Stop by Jeff ChangAlthough I’ve been doing music reviews for about a decade now (if you count the time I spent writing with my college newspaper), I’ve never considered myself a person who is really well-rounded in terms of being knowledgable in regards to all different genres. I know my indie rock and electronic music quite well, with dabblings of smarts about jazz and classical and other styles, but when it comes time to start discussing something other than the areas I know best, I start to feel rather stupid.

That was one of the reasons that I decided to order a book about the history of hip-hop. I’d heard a lot of good things about Can’t Stop Won’t Stop by Jeff Chang and decided it would be a good starting point for me. As it turns out, it was probably one of the best places that I could have dipped my toes into the water, as it has a very thorough (if a bit trunicated) history of everything from street parties to breakdancing to graffiti artists to black nationalism right through to DJs and MCs and hip hop and rap music into present times. The time span covers roughly the last 30 years, and although I knew little bits and pieces about little things here and there, it was interesting to read the book and sort of tie all the loose ends together.

One of the things I enjoyed most was reading a more involved history of groups like Public Enemy, whom I really enjoy. I didn’t really discover the group on my own terms until well after their most popular (and controversial) period, and it was intersting to read about not only the things they did right, but their mistakes as well. Oddly enough, the book seemed rushed as it moved towards a conclusion, seemingly whittling down especially the past 10 years or so into a much smaller section of the book, but overall it was a highly enjoyable read. At least I don’t feel like quite as much of an idiot about hip hop music now.

Wedding photoIt’s almost midnight (and therefore May 8th), so I think I can get away with saying that it’s officially the 2nd Anniversary of TG and I. The weather today was a lot cooler than it was two years ago, and I distinctly remember a rather severe thunderstom the night we got married. I remember the latter because our dogs were staying at a kennel for the night and we talked about how we hoped they weren’t too frightened by it while being away from home.

I don’t know that I have any great wisdom to impart from the first two years of marriage, but I will make mention of the same thing that I told a relative who’s about to tie the knot in a couple weeks.

Before I met TG, I was one of those people who basically ate what I could to have enough energy to do what I wanted to do and get by. I could follow a recipe well enough, and even whip up a decent batch of chili if I wanted, but I didn’t take too many chances and it wasn’t a rare occasion for me to eat the same thing 3 or 4 nights in a row.

When I met TG, I discovered that when cooking for someone other than yourself, it becomes a lot more fun. Instead of just trying to fill the hole in your own stomach, there’s someone else to hopefully impress. Over the course of the five years that I’ve known TG, my cooking skills have grown exponentially, and if circumstance neccesitates it, I’m able to take a look into a decimated refridgerator and somehow pull something together that tastes good to both of us. Of course, it goes the other way as well, and I’ve often eaten things that TG has cooked that taste much better than one could get at a restaurant.

We’re both super busy people and have our own interests, and while there are several nights per week where we don’t spend much time together at all, we manage to sit down and eat dinner together just about every single night. There have been a few times where we’ve plopped down in front of the television with a bowl of food (which inevitably leads to a string of jokes about “the ‘merican way” of eating), but for the most part we join each other at the table in the evening and eat and talk about our days. It’s a nice little given, and on the days when it doesn’t work out (TG is out with friends, etc), my day feels slightly out of sync.

While not every single one of our interests overlap, we have a good middle ground and seem to learn different things from one another. TG puts up with my bleep bleep bloop music and obscure band trivia and I’ve absorbed a rather large amount of information about clothing design and textile history while we both contribute to an out-of-control book collection that tips the scales at almost fifteen hundred books.

Good times. Good times.

As you can tell by the picture, everything around here is green right now. No color adjustment was needed. Our garden is just getting started, but I’m very, very excited about it this year. We’re trying lots of new things (including pumpkins and tomatillos) as well as the old familiar classics, so here’s hoping for fresh veggies in couple months time.

Elsa and Zoey in the grass

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