Monday, June 24, 2013

Garden Gone Gangbusters

Sometimes I get carried away fretting over the two additional rows of corn that I didn't get planted. Or the five blueberry bushes that were supposed to be nine by this summer. Or when the next load of free wood chips will be delivered so I can keep this cursed Curly Dock under control.

Lyla watering

And then I remember the REAL reason I planted this garden in the first place.

Of course, I'm not exactly a reluctant gardener. I LOVE growing my own food.

When I was a teenager my neighbor had a small stock pile of half-dead nursery plants under his back deck. I'm pretty sure they were the remnants of a failed business venture. Among those plants were a few blueberry bushes. Something lit up inside me when he said I could have them. Really, these things were just pitiful. If not already dead, they certainly weren't far from plant heaven.

I dug a few shallow holes into the packed Georgia red clay and plopped my soon-to-be miracles in the ground. Surely, I had the magic touch and could rescue these precious blueberry bushes. Needless to say, I never tasted any of those much-anticipated berries.

As a newlywed living on campus at the University of Washington, I tried to keep tomato plants alive on the small patio sandwiched between the apartments on either side of us. And I was mildly successful...until the raccoons discovered them.

When we lived in Michigan, again in student housing, we rented a 10x10 garden plot about 1/4 mile from our townhouse. In Michigan you just have to think about growing food and it will grow. But I was pregnant and sick for much of our gardening time there. The broccoli went to seed and the strawberries got mushy before we ever even noticed them.

When it came time to actually buy a house in Washington we looked for acreage. I wanted my children to understand that food didn't come from Costco. I wanted them to learn to subdue the earth and pray for a good harvest. And yes, have ample opportunity for REAL chores. Chores that if not done, held REAL consequences. When the chickens don't get fed they don't produce any eggs. When the bedding in the goat barn stays nasty for long enough the goats get sick.

I'm still holding out for chickens next summer, and maybe goats the summer after that, but as my neighbor puts it, "I went gangbusters"  with the garden.

I admit I've never heard that phrase before, but I guess I know what it looks like and love what it means for my children.

Halle harvesting

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Why Mom Doesn't Freak Out These Days

"Oh, okay. For the third time this week, you're not going to stay buckled in your carseat as I'm barreling down the interstate at 70 mph?"

After five kids, I've logged countless hours waiting on the side of the road for someone to get buckled. Bring it.

Resourceful child.
But there was a time when I would have been in tears over this. In knots over whether or not I was handling the situation the right way. The subject would have animated multiple discussions with the rest of the 10 A.M. new-mommy stroller brigade as we dominated the sidewalks of Seattle's north-end.

The experience of raising five children, though, has smoothed out much of the rough surface of my parental anxiety, polishing it instead with at least a bit more wisdom about how much to worry or whether or not to worry at all.

Take, for example my nearly three-year-old daughter who has been talking intelligibly for over a year now, but suddenly slips into gibberish over lunch. Six years ago I was fretting over Sophia doing the same thing. It's like some sort of made-up language they expect the real world to find absolutely charming. Just talk normal, already! Which at ten-years-old, Sophia does now quite successfully, using her impressive rhetorical tactics to draw out a late night shoulder rub from even the most exhausted parent.

At ten-years-old, Sophia can't get enough real words- or Nutella.

So now when three feet of babbling beauty beseeches me from across the table, I exaggerate my amusement with a giggle and then non-chalantly take another bite of my grilled cheese sandwich. Lyla can be so silly.

Or how 'bout the fact that on Sunday morning I adorn Lyla in the sweetest pink floral dress, brush her tangled hair, and pull it back into two perfect pig tails on either side of her head. An hour later she smiles back from the end of the church pew, wearing an additional sweatshirt and an orange and blue chevron headband over her one remaining pig tail. Yep. Sophia did this, too. And she now has her own sense of style and wears it well. It eventually all came together for her and I no longer worry how she walks out the door.

So with my fourth child, Halle? I don't even blink an eye when I drop her off at kindergarten wearing pink and orange plaid shorts, a long-sleeved purple shirt, and yellow boots. 

"And that green ribbon you saved from last year's Christmas package that's tied hippie-style around your head? You're rockin' that, too, Baby Girl!"

Then there's Beau, my first-born. Back then I was worried that the thirty minutes of red-faced hunger-screaming from his infant carseat- when my husband just wanted to get there- would damage him for life. And I don't know, maybe it did. But he seems to be getting along okay these days.

Beau getting a laugh out of his brother.

And I guess that's the point.

Five children later and an increased scope for what's going to matter down the road, allows me to face parenting with a little less anxiety and a bit more acceptance. Stuff passes, most of the time leaving us unscathed, whether I freak out over it or not. So while my children still aren't allowed to run with sticks (more on that experience later), I relax about a whole lot more these days.

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Secret Recipe Club

Hooray!  It is Secret Recipe Club time again.  This is such a fun group to be a part of.  My blogging has slowed down significantly over the last year, but I wouldn't miss one of these reveals!

This month I was assigned to Cooking Whims by Megan.  She not only shares recipes, but fun food finds, and her life experiences.  I really enjoyed getting to know her and her family through her blog.  She says, "I am no chef, but I do love to cook and bake and photograph everything under the sun."  She likes to try new recipes and document them on the blog.

When it came time to choose a recipe, I struggled to make just one for my post.  I pondered these Homemade Oatmeal Granola Bars because I have struggled to find a granola bar that I really, truly loved.  I also considered Rosemary Roasted Chicken and Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey Burgers.  But, I finally settled on these Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting because fresh strawberries are everywhere right now.

This recipe turned TASTY!!  Honestly, I think you could put cream cheese frosting on cardboard and I would eat it.  But, on top of these moist strawberry cupcakes, the frosting was heavenly.

The cake was sweet, and with a hint of strawberry flavor.  I think I will try upping the strawberries to get a stronger flavor next time, but that was just me.  The rest of my family enjoyed them just as they were.  Megan reminded her readers that this recipe isn't a quick one.  There are multiple steps involved, but, if you choose to make it, you won't be sorry. I kept it all original and didn't change anything.  ENJOY!

Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Recipe Source: Cooking Whims

2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 tsp plus 1/8 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp plus 1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup pureed strawberries (about 1 cup whole strawberries blended in a mixer or blender)
4 egg whites
1/3 cup milk
5-6 drops of red food coloring if you want a deep pink color

12 oz. cream cheese (1/3 reduced fat), softened
3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 F and line your cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

Place the dry ingredients into the bowl of your stand mixer and mix for a few seconds on low to combine.  Add the butter and and strawberry puree, mix well until combined on low speed.  Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2-3 minutes of until the mixture is light and fluffy.  It will be very thick at this point.

In a large bowl, combine the egg whites, milk, and food coloring.  Add this mixtures to the flour and strawberry mixture in three parts, make sure to incorporate the each addition well.  Add more food coloring if desired to reach the desired color.

Fill your cupcake liners 3/4 full.

Bake 17-20 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool on a cooling rack.

For the frosting, combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl.  If you like a sweeter frosting add more sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.  Pipe or use an offset spatula to frost the cupcakes. Top with fresh strawberry slices.

Review of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie at The Children's Theatre in Minneapolis

Quote of the Day:  That is one crazy mouse! Leah, 5 years old
Look, he's clean skating! Rebekkah, 5 years old
That was really funny. Leah and Rebekkah

What happens when you give a girl and her sister a cookie?
You'll have to read them the book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, by Laura Joffe Numeroff.
Then, you'll have to take them to see the play based on the book at The Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN.
Where they'll laugh their heads off at the crazy mouse and the boy, who make messes and try to clean them up, but end up making more messes, and having more fun, and not going to sleep, but listening to a great story that the boy reads and the mouse acts out, with food for characters and props, and it's all very exciting, and most of the kids (and some of the grown-ups) are on the edge of their seats, slapping their heads at the silliness, and standing up, and shouting, and telling their parents and friends that this is "too much," but not really, because it's the most fun at the theatre they've ever had. For some youngsters, it might even be their first time, and they'll love it so much that they'll beg to go back again because these guys are really good!
Dean Holt as the Mouse, Reed Sigmund as The Boy
Photos by Dan Norman, CTC
Things got a little carried away, at times.
Bring on the milk and cookies because this is a high energy, calorie burning show! We loved it.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is playing at The Children's Theatre Company in Minneapolis, June 21 - July 21, 2013. Based on the book by Laura Joffe Numeroff, adapted for the stage by Jody Davidson, Directed by Peter C. Brosius, Music Composed and Recorded by Victor Zupanc (fantastic, btw.). The show runs an hour and a half with one intermission, just enough time to gobble up a cookie. And, you know what happens when you give kids a cookie...they'll want to see the show! So, bring them all! They'll be sure to thank you, and maybe even share their cookies.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt:  What's your favorite cookie?
Mine is a monster cookie! Of course, I love all cookies...sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, chocolate chip, peanut butter chocolate chip that my sister made today...thank you! And, I love gingersnaps and rolled out cookies that I can frost, especially at Christmas when they're shaped like angels and reindeer and Santa and trees. Mmm. That's making me thirsty for milk. See ya! Enjoy your cookies, books, plays, and family!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Grilled Orata (Gas Grill version)

My Mom and I couldn't resist a trip to the Bronx and Little Italy today.  After all, it's Friday, and Friday's demand fish.  Who better to visit than Randazzo's fish Market, on 187st and Arthur Avenue, in the "Little Italy" section of the Bronx.   
My Mother isn't so adventurous in her cooking, like I am.  

She is very old fashioned (at times).   I combed through their terrific selection and came across a Mediterranean fish called "Orata."  Who could resist?   My Mom's old grill grate came to mind too.  
That must be older than me.  

 What a perfect combination.  
I never cook on a gas grill at home.   I believe in Charcoal.  My Mother, like so many of you, turned to a gas grill out of convenience, but will admit that charcoal is always bet.  In an effort to succeed, I delicately stuffed the cavity of the fish with citrus and herbs.   Although the gas grill was turned up high,  I noticed the temperature never got above 350 degrees.  The top is left opened for better control.  The slow cooking time ensures a moist fish that holds together nicely after it's cooked.   Here is the recipe.  I hope you give it a try.  
2 whole Orata fish, cleaned and descaled by your fishmonger.  Keep the head on.  (Actually, those cheeks have wonderful high nutritional  value). They weigh about a pound each (16 ounces)
two teaspoons of salt
two teaspoons of pepper 
some red pepper (to taste)
one lemon sliced plus more for serving
handful of fresh parsley
2 large cloves of garlic (smashed)
One tablespoon of capers (Optional)
1/2 cup of white wine 
Preheat the gas grill on high for 20-25 minutes.  Your fish will cook on an open grill, so it must be very, very, hot.
Give your fish a delicate wash under some cold running water and place them in a baking dish.
With the edge of your knife or a tooth pick, poke tiny holes into each fish.  Lay them in a baking dish.   
Pour some wine over the fish.
Salt and pepper inside and out.
Insert some lemon slices into the cavity along with the smashed garlic clove, parsley, capers. 
Gently place in your grill grates.  Place some additional lemon slices on top before your close the grates.  Squeeze some additional lemon across the fish.  
Gently place on the grill.
Be sure the handle is sticking outside the grill so it doesn't get to hot to grab it when turning.   If it gets to hot, depending on the size of your grate, grab some oven mitts to have handy.
Leave on your open,  hot grill for 15 minutes each side. This open cooking method is a little unusual, however it ensures moist, fish that will hold together throughout  the cooking process.  Do not worry about that "High" setting, although settings do vary.  So if you see a high flame, turn it down a touch.  Take the temperature of your grill.  Mine never got above 350. Perfect for a gentle, slow, cook. 
Turn your grill off and turn over again for additional five minutes.
Perfect every time.
Your fish will be moist on the inside and cooked through.
Extra squeeze of lemon before serving.   You can also clean it ahead and serve with lemon and parsley.  I prefer a more informal setting and cleaning it, right at the table.   

Buon Appetito!  

Ride to Itasca State Park

Quote of the Day:  It is good to realize that if love and peace can prevail on earth, and if we can teach our children to honor nature's gifts, the joys and beauties of the outdoors will be here forever. Jimmy Carter

Lake Itasca, Father's Day, 2013
The Biker Chef and I rode his Harley up to Itasca State Park on Father's Day. He took this photo as we were standing on the shores of the lake by the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi, which doesn't seem so mighty, here at the top, as it trickles on down towards the Gulf of Mexico. I told him that this picture is the one I see in my head when I remember other trips I've taken to this beautiful park in Minnesota.
You can read about our ride on my other blog, Ride off the Page!
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt:  Where do you want to go for a vacation?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Kids and the Art of Writing

Quote of the Day:  Answers to the question on our last day of Writing Camp, kids age 7-12: What did you like best about Writing Camp?
Making new writing friends
Having time to write
Sharing our writing
All of it!
Meeting an author
Meeting two authors
Meeting three authors
We learned that we need to get our characters in trouble and out of trouble. (Thanks to guest author Candace Simar)

Guest Author, Candace Simar at Writing Camp
I think you get the picture. Kids came to our writing camp because they like to write! Guy Kelm and I had a blast working with 13 young authors on their writing.
Mary Aalgaard and Guy Kelm, facilitators for Kids and the Art of Writing Camp
at Franklin Art Center
Kids and the Art of Writing Camp
We had a party at the end called Amazing Beginnings where the kids read from their journals, stories that they started this week, poems, ideas, interesting characters, exciting action. They had it all. I am so inspired by their creativity.
I have so much more to tell you, but I don't want to overwhelm you. We spent two hours every day together for a week, and now, we all have more stories to write and share. Oh, ya, I brought Millie and Willie. The kids gave me a bunch of ideas for them, too.  They even hung around for the readings.
I'll share more with you next week. On Saturday, I'll be going to The Children's Theatre in Minneapolis to watch If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and sharing my review here.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt:  What would you write on your author/personal bio?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pan Roasted Corn

During the warm summer months I am always trying to find new ways to make corn.  A few years ago I discovered this delicious fresh corn salad and a new way to make creamed corn.  Both dishes have been crowd favorites at family gatherings and potlucks. After seeing a post on Pinterest that instructed how to roast frozen corn in the oven, I decided to start experimenting.

The final product was beyond tasty!  It was sweet, caramelized, and just a tiny bit spicy.  My family loved it, and I think it will be my new summer corn dish.  I can't say enough how much I loved it.  Honestly, I probably would have eaten most of it by myself if my family hadn't been around. Next time you need to make a side dish make this one.  ENJOY!

Pan Roasted Corn
Recipe Source: Jenn 

1 tbl. olive oil
1 tbl. butter
3-4 ears of fresh corn, kernels removed from the ears
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 tsp. salt
a sprinkle of cayenne pepper (this is all about your taste here)
pepper to taste
chopped fresh parsley

In a non-stick pan, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the corn, red onion, garlic, salt, cayenne, and pepper. Allow the liquid to cook out of the mixture, then turn the heat down to medium-low.  Keep on eye on it, because once the liquid cooks out, the corn will burn easily.  Continue cooking until the corn begins to caramelize.  Add the fresh parsley and serve.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Oven Roasted Pasta Primavera

One of the things I actually get paid to do, is to teach people how to utilize fresh, simple ingredients, for one great meal.  Just have a few fresh ingredients in your refrigerator that you just don't know what to do with?   Oven Roasted, Pasta Primavera is the perfect solution. You can even make this on the grill.    I learned this from my Mother.   It's only fitting that I do this at my Mom's house.  
The weather in New York is dreadful. It's been 24 hours since my arrival and we are all craving Springtime.  I can't remember when it's been this cold. 
Here is a dish that will help remind you of Springtime in a hurry.  Close your eyes and it will feel like the sun is shining, even on a dismal day.  
Oven Roasted Pasta Primavera
1 Medium red onion 
1 pint cherry tomatoes
3 Roma tomatoes
2 medium zucchini's
3 cloves of garlic
3 large basil leaves  plus more for plating
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
One teaspoon of pepper
One baking dish large enough to accommodate your ingredients. I like to use a non stick baking sheet, that I believe everyone should invest in.  It's a very versitile piece of kitchen equipment that everyone needs.

 One large bowl and wooden spoon.
Optional Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese to sprinkle on the plates
Preheat Oven to 400 degrees F Bake

Method:  Place your water on to boil for your Pasta.   Choose a pasta like Penne or Rigatoni.  You want something that will catch these delicious ingredients.   Cut up your ingredients into small pieces and place in a bowl.  Add olive oil, salt, pepper and toss.  Place on a baking sheet.  Cook for 50 minutes at 400 degrees until all of your ingredients get soft and fragrant.  Toss with your favorite pasta, sprinkle with Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and Serve.  Buon Appetito!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Moclips-Part 2

"I miss Beau."

We all said it at one point or another during our two days at the beach. Beau had opted to stay behind with a friend so as not to miss a special end-of-the-school-year field trip. It was not the decision Wes and I were hoping for, but the one we knew he would make just the same. "I love you guys," he reminded us over and over again as we packed everything into the car.

Fortunately Beau and I have a decent texting relationship and despite the crumby phone service we were able to stay pretty well-connected. Still, we were all anxious to see him again on Monday evening.

In the meantime, the mellow strains of Jon and Roy mingled with the sound of crashing waves on the beach, setting the perfect maritime tone for Wes's yummy surf and turf creations.

These clams capped-off a wretchedly chilly but fun afternoon at the beach. Oh, the biting wind!

And there was time in the hot tub, too- until the neighbors started building a new deck.

Then on Sunday afternoon while the little girls napped, I looked up from my book to find this fuzzy blob peering over me-

"No more photos of us, Mom!" they yelled as they ducked behind the couch.

Clearly they were asking for it.

Setting my book aside, I stealthily leaned over the back of the couch and surveyed the veiled mass of giggles. It was going to be hard to wrest the blanket from them with one hand and aim my camera at them with the other.

But I was eventually somewhat successful at both.

And that's how the little girls woke up an hour later.

The next day we headed to the beach one last time, then shook out as much sand as we could and packed everyone back in the car. It was an hour into the drive home when "I have to go to the bathroom" was closely followed by
"Oh no! I left my shoes at the beach!"

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Review of The Buddy Holly Story at The Ordway in St. Paul, MN

Quote of the Day:  I don't care what color it is, I want to play my music my way. Buddy Holly from Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story, North American tour.

The Ordway Center for the Performing Arts has brought in another outstanding musical, Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story, playing in St. Paul June 11-16. Buddy Holly's short career as a performing and recording artist changed how people played, listened, and responded to music. He gave it a beat that you can't sit still for. He gave it words that touch your heart, and he gave us songs that we've been listening, dancing, and making out to for decades. He had courage and heart. Watching his story play out on the stage at The Ordway last night gave me insight into the young man from Lubbock, Texas, who dared to do things his way. At moments, the auditorium was turned into his performing venues, like the Apollo stage in Harlem, 1958. We got a glimpse at what it must have been like for him to forge his own path and bring his songs to people across the nation.

Buddy - The Buddy Holly Story brings the young man back to life and shows us that the music lives on. We are inspired by the courage of other artists. We love to listen to their music and hear their stories. This is one musical that gives you everything you came for, and more, and is fun for the whole family. It shows the kids some history about the rock and roll culture, and brings their parents and grandparents back to the days when it was brand new. The actors who portray the legendary musicians of that time become their characters. Ritchie Valens, The Big Bopper, Buddy Holly and the Crickets are all there, as well as many sensational supporting members. I hope all of you can go. If you're in the St. Paul, MN area, hurry and get your tickets at The Ordway! The rest of you, check their tour dates, or like them on facebook. Maybe they'll perform in a city near you. And, if you're feeling nostalgic, put on your old records, grab your sweetheart, and fall in love again.

Go. Create. Inspire!

Journaling Prompt:  What music was playing when you first fell in love?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Claiming my Blog on Bloglovin

Nothing but a random iphoto here as I claim my blog on Bloglovin.

Moclips- Part 1

Sophia had been dutifully freezing and crushing leaf lettuce for the last week. The little tadpole in the open container on her windowsill certainly wouldn't die of starvation. She had watched two legs become four and was anxiously awaiting the day when his tail would fall off. Of course, that was when she was planning to use a lid. 

It was in the rush of packing up for our last-minute trip to the beach that I heard the loud yell.
"My tadpole is missing!" He's gone and
I can't find him anywhere!"

Her room quickly crowded with bodies large and small as everyone joined in the search. How far could he have gotten? And why did he have to jump in the middle of our hectic push to get on the road?! We were still asking ourselves these questions two hours later as we piled into the car.

It was a typical road trip for our family. Cries of 

"She's doing it on purpose!"
"He's looking at me!"

were quickly interrupted by incoming snacks. No one wanted to miss what Mom was tossing from the front seat. M&Ms maybe? Or some other usually forbidden box of preservative-laden crackers? I was in vacation-mode. Hey man, WHATEVER it takes!

When we arrived at the beach house, the kids all but dropped their stuff and ran for the beach.

Where they spent a LONG time

 digging in the sand

 and basking in the sun.

Eventually, when only their silhouettes danced before me in the sinking sun, we headed back inside.

It was not as nice as the beach house we stayed in last time, but it was also a far cry from the nightmare of 2010 when Wes and I had left the kids with a babysitter and hit the road for two days.

A charming historic hotel in downtown Anacordes welcomed us on the first night of our getaway. The concert just outside our second story window was loud enough to drift through the thin walls and tone down the slightly upscale ambiance.

The next day's agenda included boarding a ferry to Port Townsend and meandering south toward Ocean Shores. It was the height of Twilight mania and we gawked as we drove by the mob of teenage girls clambering around the "Welcome to Forks" sign. Two stoplights later, the tiny logging town with its hosts of vampire groupies was behind us.

The beaches in Lapush, however, were well-worth lingering to watch the setting sun glimmering on the ocean. (I wish I could find those photos.)

It was sometime around 11:00 pm when we finished up a mediocre dinner in Ocean Shores and drove over to- what was it called? Oh yes, the Sand Flea Hotel. Or something like that. Wes checked in and we headed to our room. Wary of the characters drooping over the balcony outside our door, we should have turned right around and handed the key back to the manager. But we didn't. We swallowed hard and unlocked the door. It swung open to reveal something out of the 1960s. And NOT the trendy vintage look, either. Cobwebs draped the extra-furry moose head hanging on the wall. The dim lighting merely shrugged at the darkly paneled walls and brown carpet.

It was while listening to the guests in the neighboring room that I checked out the bathroom. Fantastic! Hair in the tub. Wes feigned getting comfortable with the surroundings. If he didn't say it, I saw him think it: "Okay. We can do this. All these other people around us are doing it. It's just one night and this is the last room in town." I raised my eyebrows as he gingerly sat on the edge of the chair beneath the moose.

"'re really going to sit down on that?"

I walked over to the bed and pinched as little fabric as possible between my two fingers. Pulling the covers back revealed scattered grains of sand on a pilled, slightly stained sheet.

"Oh, I'm out."

Wes hastily added a "me, too" and we quickly grabbed our bags.

The manager gave Wes an understanding look as he refunded our money and we hit the road again. We drove halfway home that night before stopping at 2 am in a suburb of Olympia.

So the weathered blue beach house this time around was FINE BY ME.

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Review of Clybourne Park at The Guthrie Theater

Quote of the Day:  Isn't it nice to know that everyone has their own place (in society). line from the character Karl Lindner in Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris

We just need to find out what each other likes to eat. Bev, Act 1 of Clybourne Park.

Humans are territorial. I think this was Steve's line in Act 2.

I'm not resistant to change, as long as it's for the better. Karl Lindner

Clybourne Park, Act 1, setting 1959
Shá Cage (Francine), Ansa Akyea (Albert), Jim Lichtscheidl (Karl), Kathryn Meisle (Bev) and Emily Gunyou Halaas (Betsy) in the Guthrie Theater's production of Clybourne Park, by Bruce Norris. Directed by Lisa Peterson, set design by Rachel Hauck, costume design by David Zinn and lighting design by Mark Barton. June 1, 2013 - August 4, 2013 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. Photo by Michael Brosilow.
Bruce Norris was inspired by Lorraine Hansberry's play, A Raisin in the Sun, which was made into a movie in 1961. As a young white male growing up in the South, he was stunned to see a play/movie where all the main characters were black, and the only white character was the villain, Karl Lindner. Years later, the playwright who hails from Houston, Texas, wrote about what was happening on the other side of town. He focused on the family who was moving out of their house in Clybourne Park, Bev and Russ, and gave them their own story.
Kathryn Meisle (Bev) and Bill McCallum (Russ) in the Guthrie Theater's production of Clybourne Park, by Bruce Norris. Directed by Lisa Peterson, set design by Rachel Hauck, costume design by David Zinn and lighting design by Mark Barton. June 1, 2013 - August 4, 2013 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. Photo by Michael Brosilow.
The couple is dealing with their own pain and need for change. This house and neighborhood hold too many memories, and they decide to sell and move on. Karl, and other neighbors, don't like this change. They're worried about how it will start a snowball of change, and not for the better. Act 1, set in 1959, shows us how deep-seated prejudices and stereotypes go. So much so, that your neighbor might try to convince you to not sell your home to folks who are different. He might even go to their home and encourage them to reconsider the move. None of it will stop people from doing what they need to do, nor will it stop the world from changing, hopefully, for the better.

Ansa Akyea (Kevin) and Shá Cage (Lena)
Act 2, 2009, Clybourne Park
Jump ahead to 2009, same house, same neighborhood, some things have changed, and some things never will. Neighbors are still trying to tell each other what they can and can't do with their property. Now, they hold "civilized" meetings and hold back on their racist words...or do they?
Bill McCallum (Dan), Jim Lichtscheidl (Steve) and Emily Gunyou Halaas (Lindsey)
When Bev and Russ move out of this house in 1959, they try to bury the past, in the form of the above trunk. In 2009, it is rediscovered. All the memories, the events, and the souls that occupied this home, continue to float through the rooms. You can't bury the past and hope to forget it. It has become part of who you are, where you live, and your community.
 Ansa Akyea (Kevin), Emily Gunyou Halaas (Lindsey) and Jim Lichtscheidl (Steve) in the Guthrie Theater's production of Clybourne Park, by Bruce Norris. Directed by Lisa Peterson, set design by Rachel Hauck, costume design by David Zinn and lighting design by Mark Barton. June 1, 2013 - August 4, 2013 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage at the Guthrie Theater, Minneapolis. Photo by Michael Brosilow.
The actors do an amazing job of bringing real emotion to life during this play. They show how hurt we are by each other, our prejudices, and the acts of those who have paved the way, for better and for worse. I've often wondered what stories an old house could tell. Playwright Bruce Norris must wonder the same thing and gives us one story of one house which is fiction, yet so real.
Clybourne Park is playing at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, June 1 through August 4, 2013. Recommended for a more mature audience due to strong, possibly offensive, language.
Go. Create. Inspire!
Journaling Prompt:  What would be buried in your old trunk? Does your home have a story?