Bleeeech con’t, day two
I couldn’t get out of bed this morning either. Ratbags. Gigantic throbbing neon ratbags. Did I tell you that I was going to the concert that I missed last Wednesday, tonight, as the tour swung back (roughly) in this direction, pausing at Barnstorming, which is not implausibly far by train?
I didn’t go. And as I write this it’s happening now. Whimper.
Sigh. Well, I kept the booking for the dog minder to hurtle hellhounds this afternoon. She said when she brought them back, shiny-eyed and panting,* that they had been very lively. Yes. I’m sure. They’ve been a trifle short of hurtling the last day and a half.**
So, day two of no energy and very little brain. With reference to the latter it is a very good thing that Penelope rang me this evening to tell me that the (bell) ringing tomorrow morning has been moved up twenty minutes. The . . . ? Long pause my end. Oh. Right. Memorial ring tomorrow morning. Of course. I knew that.
As long as I had her on the phone I asked her about the no-flour bread I mentioned here the other night, and for which I’ve now had several requests. She confirmed what I remembered, that she made it up as she went along, and I have continued that tradition, creating a batter that looks right. But generally speaking it goes like this:
Baked ground-seed somewhat breadlike substance
Start with an egg. Beat it up.
Add ¼ c oil or melted butter. Groundnut (peanut) oil is good. If you like the flavour, olive oil is also good. Beat together thoroughly.
Probably about 2c ground seed. This is what Penelope used, and what I’ve used since: http://www.linwoodshealthfoods.com/productdetails/36/milled_organic_flaxseed_sunflower_pumpkin_seeds.aspx And yes, it’s eye-openingly expensive—but your nonbread will be more filling than your average mere floury object too, and you can get away with thinking of it more as a vegetarian main course. But stir in enough to make a softish but not runny batter—gooeyness more or less what you’d expect out of an ordinary tea or quick-bread batter.
You may want a little salt. I like a little tamari.
When you’re happy with the texture, sprinkle or sift one or two (measuring) teaspoons of baking powder and one or two (measuring) teaspoons of dried herbs to your taste over your batter, and beat that in.
If you’d rather use fresh herbs, chop them up and add them before you add the baking powder because chances are they’ll dampen the batter a little more and you’ll have to adjust. A big handful of parsley or coriander is good. I don’t think fresh basil bakes all that well: if you want basil, I’d use the dried.
Pour it into a round 8” pan. I haven’t cared to find out just how sticky ground seed is, so I butter and flour the pan and put a circle of parchment paper in the bottom and butter and flour that too.
350°F for about half an hour. It won’t rise, but the baking powder and the beaten egg seem to stop it from turning into a brick. Bake till the edges are turning brown, and the middle is firm to a light touch.
I haven’t made it for a while, but I’m clearly going to have to. I’m sitting here remembering how good it tastes.
* * *
I always enjoy reading about your pleasure from your [singing] lessons as well as the progress you’re making.
Progress. Blerg. When I was warming up today it was taking even longer to persuade my voice to come out of hiding because we were both so traumatised by yesterday. You know that weary old adage that voice teachers and random members of the populace like to quack at you—that you have no idea what you sound like from the outside? Well, you do after you’ve made the mistake of recording yourself. And since I played it back right after I made the recording, I know what this or that note feels like when I’m singing it.
But, as previous, I like singing, and at the moment it’s one of the few passion-engaging things I can do, because I can always sit down between phrases, or revert to Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes for a bit, or whatever. So I persevered, in my wombly way, and the music started to get hold of me.
Peter had been having a snooze*** upstairs when I started, and when I was about halfway through my practise he came downstairs and started rustling around in the kitchen. I finished a song and was turning over my music and thinking about what to have a hack and chop at next.
That’s a nice noise, said Peter.
My hand froze. That’s what? I said.
That’s a nice noise, repeated Peter.
You’re being kind, right? I said.
No, he said. You don’t sound timid any more. It’s nice.
. . . So maybe I am making progress. You do have to remember that Peter is about as musical as a tablecloth or a cricket bat. Still.
I occasionally have students who really want to challenge themselves with material (most of the time I say, “Ok, let’s go for it!”, knowing they’ll learn a lot from diving in somewhat over their heads). And as I work on learning a new instrument, I’m definitely drawn toward the harder pieces, because I like the sound of them better.
Yes. I don’t know if it’s like this for string players, or for professional musicians learning a new instrument, but certainly at my level I realise there’s also a kind of ragged line about learning—there’s more you could do on a simpler piece if you could do it yet, but you can’t, so you might as well go stretch yourself like a rubber band on something you clearly can’t do yet, but that’s a thrill just to try to replicate a little of. And you can go back to the simpler thing later when you’re all clevered up from the stretching. Also as it happens most of what I’ve been singing lately is mournful and while I like mournful, Se Tu M’Ami is a kick because it’s about a girl saying I like you fine, honey, but if you think I like only you, think again. I doubt I’m putting much of this over, but I’m aware of the bounce when I’m singing it. Erm. Trying to sing it. Although on the subject of putting it over, while I don’t know if any of this is audible, I’m back on good terms with Caro Mio Ben again, thanks to Nadia. One of the things she said—speaking of mournful—is that a way to approach it is that every phrase is a sigh.
. . . it’s the amount of time she spends talking me out of the holes I’ve dug for myself
Yes, but that’s just part of what a good teacher should be doing (in my biased opinion). Dealing with the non-technical and non-music-specific bumps is part of learning how to make music.
Nadia says she knows a lot of voice teachers who have gone back to school and become shrinks. Snork.
* * *
* That’s hellhounds, not dog lady. Although she was possibly a trifle out of breath.
** Although they’re not complaining about the extra time on the sofa. Hey, can anyone out there recommend a pretty-to-look-at but stupid hidden-object/mild adventure/no blood, killing or monsters, no-time-limit-setting, preferably unlimited hints, iPad-compatible game? I finished Rosecliff and am almost through Crystal Portal, and have basically bombed out of Serpent of Isis because I loathe the freller. I don’t like the moronic cartoons, the hidden objects are too hard, the puzzles are IMPOSSIBLE^, I hate using your flashlight in darkened rooms, and—and this is why I’m quitting—the quality of the graphics for the level of complexity is frankly inadequate and since I’m playing the thing on my still-shiny-almost-new iPad 2, I don’t think it’s my screen. I object to wasting (numbered) hints on things that I missed because they’re indecipherable.
^ One of my biggest complaints about computer games generally, every time I’ve had a little stab at this utterly supernumerary category of time-wasting, is that all of them seem to assume that you already know how to play computer games. Is there a pill? Or an energy drink? And suddenly the scales fall from your eyes and all the frelling conventions and assumptions are writ plain?
*** Peter’s ability to sleep through my thumping and squealing is one of his greatest virtues as a husband.^
^ Although agreeing to pay for the extra quarter-hour of voice lesson is also high on the list.
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