White Trash Green Beans

 

 

One of my favorite sides is a dish I call “White Trash Green Beans.” The only reason I call it that is the usage of frozen green beans (instead of fresh) that are cooked to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks. And, of course, fresh green beans are great. This is just one of those dishes I can make about any old time, as I usually have frozen green beans in the freezer. It’s an easy, Southern staple around here. Here’s what you’ll need:

 

 

Frozen Green Beans, Onion, Bacon Fat, Salt, White Pepper and Brown Sugar.

 

 

 

Thinly slice the onions. While wiping your tears, melt the bacon fat in a large skillet (with a lid).

 

 

 

Toss the sliced onions in the melted fat and cover.

 

 

 

 

Cook over medium-low heat until soft.

 

 

 

Add salt, pepper and brown sugar. Stir.

 

 

 

Pour frozen green beans over and replace lid.

 

 

 

After a few minutes, stir. Cook, with lid on, until green beans have reached desired level of doneness.

 

 

 

You may prefer your green beans a little crisp. I, on the other hand…

 

 

…like my White Trash Green Beans unreasonably soft!

 

That’s it, friends. Taste for seasoning and serve!

 

 

Here’s the printable, yo…

 

White Trash Green Beans
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4
 

Ingredients
  • 16 oz. Frozen Green Beans
  • 1 Large Onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 T. Bacon Fat
  • 1 T. Brown Sugar
  • Salt
  • White Pepper

Instructions
  1. Melt the bacon fat in a large skillet (with a lid).
  2. Toss the sliced onions in the melted fat and cover. Cook over medium-low heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add salt, pepper and brown sugar. Stir.
  4. Pour frozen green beans over and replace lid. After a few minutes, stir. Cook, with lid on, until green beans have reached desired level of doneness (10 to 20 mins).
  5. Taste for seasoning and serve!

 

“The Californians” on SNL

 

 

I finally saw some of last Saturday’s SNL, and a skit called “The Californians” had me in tears.

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/the-californians/1396627

 

Though I’m not a California native, I must admit, they did portray us fairly (in a caricature sort of way). In particular, the traffic talk killed. I had to watch it twice!

 

If you live in CA, how do you assess the skit?

My Weekend at Ladies Rock Camp – Part 2

 

Before I cover the Ladies Rock Camp showcase, I want to touch on a few other points…

 

 

The food! We eat well at Ladies Rock Camp. 3 squares. Leftovers. There is not only plenty of sustenance, it is also delicious. The days are long and there’s a lot of running up and down stairs, so food is important.

 

 

The school! Immaculate Conception School in downtown Los Angeles is such a blessing to our organization. They generously provide their space, in exchange for a few scholarships for their young students when Girls Rock Camp rolls around. The school is safe, comfortable and redolent with kindness. As volunteers, we cover the full spectrum in our beliefs. I think I can safely say we all appreciate the warmth felt in this Catholic school.

 

 

The volunteers! I can’t tell you what an honor it is to know this fabulous group of women. From Rock Goddess to Baker, and everything in between, we are diverse, positive and hopeful. We somehow manage to come together for a united cause and there isn’t an ounce of negativity to be found. Here we are, with all our female energy, supporting each other and the campers. There are a lot of feelings, yes. We ride the waves of those emotions, while lifting and openly cheering one another. Many Lady Campers commented about how there was not a smidge of snarkiness or cattiness to be found during the weekend. And they were right. I don’t know how we do it. I guess we’re a self-selecting group. If someone did come in with a negative chip on her shoulder, she’d just have to raise her game. Because we’re floating high, friends, and we refuse to sink.

 

Personally, I’ve been blessed to teach vocals with some fan-tabulous babes. As long as they’ll have me, I’ll keep returning.

 

 

Now! On with the show…

 

First up was “Durable Power”…

 

 

Next was “G-Rated”…

 

 

Then came “Where’s the Exit?”…

 

 

“Blue Lotus” then took the stage…

 

 

“Radio Static” was next…

 

 

“The Paper Dolls” followed…

 

 

Closing out the night was “Lava Jeans”…

 

 

And just like that, it was over. All the work, all the laughter, all the tears – came to an end.

 

Rock Camp is a crazy experience. We leave our inhibitions at the door and dive right in, mostly with complete strangers. After a few short days, we’ve gone through a metamorphosis. We’ve shed our old skin and revealed something more closely resembling who we’re meant to be. And there are no bells, no whistles. With no fanfare, we are expected to return to our “real” lives and pick up where we left off. But we’re not the same. So how can we carry on as if we are?

 

I don’t have any answers. I only know I’m trying to hold on to some of what I gained this last weekend, wherever I go. It’s okay if the guy at the hardware store doesn’t understand why I just high-fived him for making a key for me. When the produce guy at the grocery store brings fresh fruit for me from the back, and I hit him with “Right on!”, that’s okay, too. No one has to know I’m channeling my inner Rock Goddess. No one. Just me, and each and every Lady Rock Camper and Volunteer who is also walking around out there, being sublime. Being awesome. Being who we’re meant to be.

 

PS – This is Whitney…

 

 

I didn’t get to work with her all weekend, and then she came and found me just before her band (“Where’s the Exit?”) took the stage at the showcase. She said she was from Georgia and had heard I was, too. She’d been told I was from Griffin, GA. I said I was born in Griffin, but was actually from a few miles down the road, in Zebulon. She didn’t believe me, to which I responded, “Pike County, Baby!” Then she knew I was straight-true. Whitney is from Zebulon, too.

 

As I watched her confidently ripping her guitar part during her band’s performance, it occurred to me that 2 gals from Zebulon were living the dream in Los Angeles. One was spreading her wings. One was reminded of her roots…

My Weekend at Ladies Rock Camp – Part 1

 

 

I disappeared from “regular life” all weekend and was a vocal instructor at Ladies Rock Camp. I’ve volunteered at Rock Camp for Girls L.A. the last 2 years. Ladies Rock Camp is a shortened version of that, with grown-ups. And all the Lady Rockers’ tuition goes to scholarships for girls in the summer. Win-win! I believe in this organization, so I volunteered for the adult version.

 

We had 30 Lady campers this session. They came from all over the globe. There isn’t a lot of time, so it’s pretty intense. These women arrived at lunchtime on Friday. They then formed a band, wrote an original song, learned their instruments and performed live on-stage Sunday night. If you’re not completely agog, you should be. Some of these ladies had never so much as touched a guitar, bass, drumstick or microphone! But I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

Friday’s session began at 11 am and ran until around 8:45 that evening. The day included not only instrument instruction and band practice, but also workshops on songwriting, vocals, guitar/bass set-up, drum set-up/tuning, PA system set-up, pedals & looping and a short history of women in rock. Lunch and dinner were squeezed in there, too. By the end of the night, most everyone was dragging. A few hearty souls did end up going out for some extra socializing. Alas, I was not among them. I got home around 9:30 and hit the hay.

 

 

 

Saturday’s session kicked off at 9 am. There was more instrument instruction and band practice. The day also featured workshops on self defense, band name/logo design and screen-printing t-shirts. Before dinner, there was a showcase run-through. The ladies got to practice their songs on a real stage. These run-throughs are truly beneficial and help everyone involved. Kinks are worked out. Fears are recognized. Strengths are honored. And it’s the first time the entire group hears all the band songs. It’s pretty freaking exciting!

 

 

By around 8:35, most of us were again too tuckered out to do much more than get some sleep. But since this is Rock & Roll, some did fight the bear and braved the night. I think you probably know into which group I fell. That’s right – slumberzzzzzz….

 

Sunday morning began at 9. The day was workshop light (with only 1 – recording) and there was no dedicated instrument instruction. Most of the time was spent in band practice, as the showcase was that night. The Ladies did have band photos taken, and they looked amazing!

 

By 5 pm, we all gathered for a closing assembly. Each attendee and volunteer was asked to share what they were taking away from the experience. It was such a love-fest. And such a tear-fest. (We are chicks, after all.) We all circled up, had one last “Rock!” yell and then the campers headed to The Satellite in Silver Lake for the night’s showcase. Several volunteers stayed behind to pack up everything at our weekend’s location and then we all made our way to the club.

 

Everyone was exhausted, but too excited to care. Nervous energy floated through the club, from performer to volunteer, to friends, family and back again. At the appointed time, the stage lights dimmed and the first band was introduced…

 

 

 

To be continued…

Twisters

 

 

Relatives and friends who don’t reside in California often ask, “How can you stand to live out there with all those earthquakes?” They don’t know that earthquakes aren’t predictable, like the weather, and that we don’t have an earthquake season. Thankfully, they also don’t know how truly horrific earthquakes can be. After the Northridge quake, I was on the phone, talking to someone afar, when I heard an aftershock coming (yes, you can often hear an earthquake’s approach). I told him I might have to throw down the phone and run and he said, “Cool!” I told him then, and I tell you now, there is nothing cool about it.

 

So I live in a fault zone. And though terrifying, felt earthquakes aren’t as common as some might think. Honestly, I forget all about them until they happen, be it here or elsewhere.

 

I didn’t grow up here. I grew up in Georgia. Though there are fault lines in the American south, earthquakes simply weren’t part of our experience. Tornadoes, on the other hand, were. Regularly. And unlike earthquakes, tornadoes do indeed have seasons, and are somewhat predictable due to weather patterns and behavior.

 

It seems like that season has broadened and those weather patterns are worsening. Whenever I see a news report about another devastating tornado, my stomach turns. My whole body feels a bit heavy and it takes a while for the discomfort to pass. The photos of destruction are sickening, heartbreaking. And I have yet to watch or read a report of a tornado’s path without remembering my own terrible brush with a night of twisters.

 

 

I was maybe 5 years old, and my parents had gone out for the evening. We had a babysitter whose name I don’t recall, but I vaguely remember her blond ponytail and teen-aged face. It was a stormy night, to be sure, but storms aren’t uncommon in the south. Thunder, lightning, rain – those things happen all the time. All the time. And then the power went out. That happens as well, but our sitter was clearly frightened by this lack of electricity, so we kids were, too. I don’t think our phone was working either, because my parents never called.

 

And then it got loud. And that made no sense, as we lived way out in the country. That little rented house was probably on a half acre by itself, with nothing on either side. There was a huge vacant field behind us, and beyond that was a swamp. You know, the country. So when we heard what sounded like a train bounding down, it was scary. That’s when Mrs. Weldon started banging on our door. She lived way across the road and was our landlord. She told us all to come with her to their house and to do it now! The sitter, my sisters and I did as she said (she was an elder, after all) and we started running. At some point, Mrs. Weldon yelled, “Don’t look back! Just run!” And that’s when I had to look back. I couldn’t help it.

 

And there it was. The biggest twister my little mind could imagine. It looked larger than anything Dorothy had endured, and it was in the back field, coming right toward our house. As it screamed in our direction, I was pulled into Mr. and Mrs. Weldon’s home. They didn’t have a basement (nor did we), so they made us all get down on the floor in their living room. We were all on our knees, praying as hard as we could – just as we’d been instructed – while Mr. Weldon read aloud from the Bible. I don’t remember what he read. Mrs. Weldon told us all to close our eyes and pray harder. But I couldn’t close my eyes. I looked at my terrified, small sisters and the sitter. I looked at Mrs. Weldon, as she rocked back and forth in anxious prayer. I looked at Mr. Weldon, whose eyes were about to burn holes in that Bible from which he read. And the noise! It got louder and louder until I couldn’t hear Mr. Weldon at all. I think there was screaming, and for all I know, it may have come from my tiny body. The house shook and the rumbling was too much to take…

 

And then it stopped. It just stopped. Silence filled the space left vacant by the tornado and our fear. We all ran to the windows and doors. At some point, we went outside to see what, if anything, had happened. We were very quiet, afraid noise might trigger a return of the twister. And that’s when we saw the path through the deserted field behind our house. We saw trash and garbage strewn between our house and the Weldon’s. Beyond Mr. and Mrs. Weldon’s home, there was a further path, carved by sheer force. The tornado had jumped both our houses.

 

I don’t remember what we did or for how long. The next thing I knew, Mr. Harry (a friend of my parents’) drove up and said he’d gotten a call from our folks and they’d asked him to come get us. If I remember correctly, my parents were hunkered down somewhere, riding out the same weather system. So the sitter, my sisters and I went with Mr. Harry. (I think he must’ve driven the sitter home.) We then went to Mr. Harry’s and Miss Pat’s house to wait out the night, until our parents could get there.

 

They had kids, so we all played together while the adults sat and talked, watching the news. I loved Mr. Harry and Miss Pat, and I felt safe. Their house had power, so everything felt ordinary. Normal. And then we heard it.

 

That crazy train sound eased up on us, just as the lights began to flicker off and on. Then the roar came on so fast, I don’t remember having time to go anywhere, to prepare. That train was on us in an instant, with its deafening howls. Miss Pat ran into the room where we kids were playing, she started grabbing us, to take us — where? And then it was over. Turned out, like before, this tornado had jumped their house. What are the odds?

 

When all was said and done, my parents picked us up and we went home. Safely. News reports informed us there had been multiple tornadoes touching down that night, and there was tremendous destruction. I don’t remember if lives were lost. Nor do I remember anything else about the evening. What I do recall, I’ve never forgotten.

 

I’ve lived through many tornadoes, some in the south, some in the mid-west. Here in California, I’ve heard of exactly one funnel cloud in all my years as a resident. And that’s one too many.

 

My heart weeps for the souls dealing with savage weather. Even writing this, I’ve teared up. I don’t know what’s going on with our skies. I pray they become clearer and clearer. And I thank God we don’t have anything that even slightly resembles an earthquake season.

 

Ellis & Coffee

 

 

This is Ellis. If you’re familiar with her and her music (http://www.ellis-music.com/news/), you know what a talented Doll-face she is.

 

If you’re not acquainted with Ellis, you’re missing out on one of our atmosphere’s bright folk lights. She’s not just easy on the eyes. She’s also funny, smart and one of the world’s biggest supporters of coffee.

 

That’s right – coffee. Ellis loves her some coffee, folks. She loves it so much, she wrote a song about it (have a listen! – “Coffee Song“). And every single time I go for a second cup of coffee, her song pops into my head. Joyfully. With glee. It’s such a happy, snappy song!

 

Anyway, I just wanted you to have the opportunity to get that brain worm working for yourself. It makes me smile, thinking of Ellis’ voice. I smile, too, picturing her with her second cup of coffee…

Crazy in Spring

 

 

I was speaking with my cousin the other day, and he was saying how he struggles this time of year. Knowing of the tragic loss of his sister in April of ’98, I assumed his struggle was due to that. And, to be fair, that terrible event does haunt him.

 

But he told me something I didn’t expect. He said that Spring always saddles him with a sense of malaise. He spoke of how crazy everyone gets for a while each Spring, and how he looks forward to Summer, if only so everyone can calm the hell down (my words, not his).

 

This was such a novel thought for me, I wanted to discuss and dissect, and Shady Grady obliged. We talked for a good long while and I think I started to come to an appreciation of his feelings.

 

Take leaves, for example. Those buds cling to tree branches each Spring, holding on for dear life. And though they desperately want to become leaves, they linger – as buds – for as long as possible. Only when they can no longer handle the pain of constriction do they burst forth into leafdom.

 

Same with snakes. Do you think shedding old skin is a party? I imagine it’s awfully uncomfortable, if not downright painful. But you know what? The snake goes through it anyway. Why? Because that’s part of being a snake, and because not changing can hurt a hell of a lot more than change itself.

 

As humans, we forget this. We fight growth, change, evolution. And that fighting can make us crazy, friends, for we are meant to evolve.

 

Then again, when we do decide we’re not gonna fight the funk, when we do allow ourselves to ride the wave of change, we sometimes experience the seemingly necessary discomfort of the road to our blossoming. That, too, can make us crazy.

 

 

So whether we’re stagnant or active, some of us are just gonna be a little nuts during our growth spurts. And since we’re part of nature, it wouldn’t be all that surprising if we, like many of earth’s living wonders, experienced transition each and every Spring.

 

So maybe Shady Grady is really on to something. Maybe the knot in his stomach is based on some intuitive knowledge of Spring’s reach. Then again, maybe he’s just my wack-job cousin.

 

Either way, I like his idea. It doesn’t bring me anxiety or anything. It kind of excites me. After all, if I’m on the verge of bursting forth into bloom, I can hardly wait for the next stage of my own becoming.

 

“Holy Waters”

 

 

I wanted to tell you a little bit about this month’s free download from my CD, Love & Honesty

 

“Holy Waters” is one of those strange songs that’s hard to explain. It wasn’t triggered by an actual experience, and there’s no reference to my real life, neither in its notes or lyrics.

 

I was noodling on my guitar one day, and the first few chords of the verse started to coagulate. I opened my mouth to try and put a melody to the chords, and out came the first lines: You love me too little, and I love me too much. As I recall, those words surprised me, but I knew enough to just go with it. By the time the verses were finished, I’d used all kinds of imagery to help in the writing – even a cat!

 

The chorus was also a surprise. “There’s no river to wash over” just sort of spilled forth, much like the song’s opening lines. The rest of the chorus flowed rather quickly and that’s when I knew the song would be called “Holy Waters.”

 

This was definitely a gift song. It found me, as its writer, instead of my desperately searching for it. It was written in about 40 minutes, tops. Those songs don’t happen as often as I’d like. That’s why I consider it a gift.

 

One more thing… I can remember the scene, when I wrote “Holy Waters.” It was the living room of my old house. Even that room’s light is clear in my memory. At the time, I thought it was a special song. I still do.

Angelyne

 

 

On Tuesday, while I wasn’t at the Dodgers game, I hit the bricks and did some walking. I was in a suburb of L.A. and it was pretty laid back. Laid back is exactly what I expected. What I didn’t expect was Angelyne.

 

For those of you who don’t live in L.A., allow me to explain. Angelyne is a self-proclaimed, L.A. celebrity who’s been around longer than anyone knows. (Seriously – her age is a mystery.) She’s been in a few B-movies (“Earth Girls Are Easy” and “The Malibu Beach Vampires” to name a couple), but other than that, her greatest claim to fame are her larger-than-life billboards around Hollywood. Those billboards were a mainstay for about 2 decades. Now, they’ve mostly disappeared.

 

And I had assumed Angelyne had disappeared as well. But I spotted that pink corvette, and there she was, behind the wheel in all her blond glory.

 

 

So I missed out on the iconic Los Angeles Dodgers. But I got a crazy, Hollywood icon instead. Six of one, half a dozen of another…

America’s Pastime

 

 

Yesterday morning, I had a brilliant idea: I would go to the L.A. Dodgers’ opening day! I checked the team’s website for game time and that didn’t pose a problem. I did a quick ticket search. Whoa! That was a problem.

 

Day-of available tickets were a bit scarce. But there were some seats out there. And hey, I only needed one. The prices, on the other hand, shut down my brilliant idea. If I had a spare $550, I could have sat behind home plate. For a mere $140, I could have sat way down-field, in foul ball territory. The website posted some $38 seats as being available, but I didn’t find those. Alas, my opening day dream would have to wait for another season.

 

It never occurred to me that those high ticket prices have to cover players’ ridiculous salaries. I didn’t once think of those exorbitant fees as being necessary to supplement Magic Johnson’s other business ventures. I only thought about doing something old-school. Something American.

 

Maybe baseball is no longer America’s pastime. I’m not sure. If it is, I’m guessing families are making plans in advance. Otherwise, who could afford to take their kids out for peanuts and crackerjacks?

 

Some day, I’ll make it to opening day. Until then, I’ll just have to root, root, root for the home team – at home.