Monday, May 7, 2018

Recipe: Dill Pickle Seasoning

Dill Pickle Seasoning

In a spice grinder (or cleaned-out coffee grinder, which is what I used) combine:

1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds    
1 tablespoon salt    
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds    
1/2 teaspoon dill seed   
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (Penzey's is the best)
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon citric acid powder
1 tablespoon dried dill weed  

Grind to a powder, but try not to inhale it when you take the lid off. 
Sprinkle on everything until you get tired of it.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Thursday, April 5, 2018

TBT: Richmond, Indiana 1966

In 1966 the Methodist church moved my dad to Richmond, IN. It was our 5th move in as many years and we didn't have any reason to think this place would be so very different from all the other church towns we had lived in, but this little midwestern town became one of the important crossroads in my life. Here I made lifelong friendships, was introduced to the Quaker community, social activism, and theater, music and dance. This was a place where we could be wild children in the summer - racing out the door to explore the woods, hunt for fossils, and dare each other to walk the white and black pipelines. We went to public school and suffered through tornado drills (head for the basement!) and atomic bomb drills (Under the desk? Really!?). There was a dress code for girls - no pants allowed except for on the bitterest of winter days where we could wear them under our skirts. There's nothing quite like a midwest winter wind whipping across your face and stinging bare knees, and since we went home for lunch it was a double walk every day.

It was also a time when we were learning to talk about issues around race. I learned so much from my then best friend Sonya Spears, who, on one of those walks home from school, patiently explained the word "prejudice" when I told her I had Mrs Skinner for third grade. Sonya was awesome - a whole year older than me, she was imaginative and worldly and wise in ways I didn't yet understand. I was embarrassed and so terribly confused when our evil landlady Mrs. Runyan wouldn't let Sonya and me play in the front yard. I learned the word "racist" that day. We were fortunate to have awesome friends across the street (that's you Bonnie!) who not only invited us to play in their yard, but put up a swingset for us even though they didn't have kids of their own. Knowing we were playing in full view of the evil Mrs R was the best neener-neener-neener moment of my life.  If you think we had some sort of idyllic Hallmark friendship, you should know that Sonja also told me that the dirt in the wading pool was polio and I spent three long days convinced I was going to die. She wasn't perfect, she was a kid!

Two years later Martin Luther King Jr would be assassinated, waking up our country and driving home the things my friend had taught me. Two days after his murder, on April 6, 1968, our little town quite literally exploded when a gas main ruptured under a sporting goods store, setting off a second explosion when it ignited stored gunpowder and ammunition. It was my little brother's birthday and we stood outside in our party hats watching the smoke billow from the center of town wondering if it was the end of the world. 41 people died, and hundreds were injured. The adults ran to town to see if they could help and came home hours later looking grim and sad. They just said it was really, really bad, but I had no idea how bad until years later. The one thing people remember most about that day was how people came together to fight the fires, help the injured, and take care of each other. My friend Sonya's mom was Assistant Head Nurse at Reid Hospital and you can hear her talk about that day in this short clip

50 years later and I imagine the town has changed quite a bit, and hopefully for the better. But in other ways, the most fundamental of ways, I hope it hasn't. I hope people still take care of each other, and teach each other, and the kids run wild all summer, thumbing their noses at the Skinners and Runyuns of the world.

My grandmother loved seeing her name in the paper, so she submitted stuff like this all the time.

Google satellite view is amazing. The woods we roamed in are still there!

Friday, February 9, 2018

Ever Efter

A hambo I made for the BHE (Best Husband Ever) and forever favorite hambo partner, Bill Quern. On the linked recording we changed the key to Em so Bill could play it on the Puerto Rican cuatro gifted to him from our friend Craig Wilkinson.


Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Schuykill In the Mist

An exceptionally warm day in the middle of and an exceptionally cold winter makes for some really interesting moments on the river.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

1961 Gibson J-45

For sale - 1961 Gibson J-45 ADJ (Adjustable Bridge) Serial #040927

Well-played, but still has that great Gibson great sound (it's hard for me to let this one go!). It's very playable as is, but you will probably want to to have some work done on it - no one has touched it in years.

(Note: These are not the original tuners! If you're looking for a collector's item, this is not the guitar for you. Also the case is beat to hell and back - you'll need a new one soon!)

Best offer starting at $2000

contact Sarah Gowan

Monday, January 1, 2018

Art Is Our Salvation - 2018 edition

2017 is finally over and, like most of you, I’m looking back on what another bizarre year we've seen. That relentless howling wind called Chaos continues to claw at our tranquility, shredding any semblance of peace, throwing us off-balance, leaving us anxious and afraid.

Last year showed us the face of chaos in all of its gibbering glory. From an election full of such hateful rhetoric it scared the pants off of even my most non-political friends, to unimaginable world-wide wars, bombings and acts of desperate terrorism brought to us in living color via the internet. Sound-bites and headlines that made no sense, yet were accepted as truths. The deaths of family, some in their right time, some unexpected, and the deaths of musicians, writers and actors left us reeling

As another year slams the door on more "alternative truths", flat-out lies, senseless deaths, hatred, and fear, I give thanks for our peaceful warriors who fight to protect the most vulnerable of us, standing up for the poor, the disenfranchised, the exhausted. I celebrate the brave women who joined together to say, "Enough!" and was proud to add my voice to theirs.  I give thanks for every kindness we spread like a healing balm, giving each other the gift of the best of us.

I thank artists most of all.

Art is how we as a species tame the chaotic thoughts and emotions of our imperfect humanity. Art is how we conquer fear and birth inspiration and hope. Art, and cousins science, mathematics, philosophy, and logic, give us a matrix where we can sort our pinball thoughts and feelings and give rest to our screeching animal hindbrains. Art shows us the ways we can feel empathy and gives us permission to laugh at ourselves. Art tells us we aren’t alone. 

Our artists spend years perfecting their craft. While they learn the techniques that make expression possible they are opening their hearts to all that is good and all that is messed up in living life as a human being. They take that stew of humanity and distill it into a concept we can accept and understand and then give it back to us as story, poem, song, dance, painting, sculpture. I believe that every time we create, Chaos takes a time out, giving us a moment to collect ourselves and find our balance again. For that reason alone, I believe art will be our salvation. 

We should sing at the top of our lungs, dance to exhaustion and play music until our fingers bleed. We should paint and draw and weave and sew and sculpt and knit and laugh and write write write all the beautiful poems and stories as if our lives depended on it, because they do. In that place of creation we transform Chaos to Peace and in peace we find our true selves.

Happy New Year to all of you!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

For Dad

My father, Hugh Gowan, passed away on Sunday. Dad and I weren't close - we've only spoken on the phone a few times in the past 40 years - but I believe people should be remembered for the good things they did in life and not for their mistakes.  In that spirit I wanted to share a few of the things about him that I honestly loved.

He was a preacher most of his life and he taught me that Christians can have a sense of humor about their own religion. He was devoted to community and inclusiveness and care for people on the fringes. He was the minister a mixed-race couple could go to when they wanted to get married and he always made a safe places for teens to hang out and be their weirdo teen selves. 

He was a musician and loved to sing. He happened to be born on the same day as Elvis Presley. He claimed they were switched at birth and that he was supposed to be the rock and roll star while Elvis should have been the preacher.

He was an artist and my earliest memories of him are flashes of stained fingers and the smell of turpentine and linseed oil. He loved to paint, which was interesting because he was colorblind. He did pretty well unless he got his palette turned around and then his paintings took on a surreal tone. Every now and again he would ask me to help sort out his colors.

Born in the mountains of North Carolina, he always felt at home there, but as my great-grandmother often said, "Your daddy was born with a flea on his foot, and so it's hard for him to settle down." We moved once a year for much of my childhood and when he finally settled, it was with a different family in different mountains. I'm glad he found peace and happiness there.

Hugh as a young boy

High School

He loved to dress up. Halloween was a favorite,
but he was nuts for the Civil War era.

"Farm at Wright State" 1970

"Pond" 1971

"Reflection"  1971


Dad managed to hang on to my Great-great Grandfather's fiddle. My brother Lon rescued it from storage, had it refurbished, and gave it to me as a birthday present. In this video my husband Bill Quern plays "Sandy Boys" on Granddaddy's Fiddle, keeping the family tradition alive and well.

I went to see Dad before he passed. I got to say to him, "Rest easy, Dad. You are loved," and touch his hand one more time.

A few days later, at the moment of his passing over, this butterfly came to my garden and hung around long enough to bring me a message, "Don't worry, I'm OK. You are loved."

I'm pretty sure he gets to see all the colors, now.

For my dad
Lon Hugh Gowan
Jan 8, 1935 - Oct 15, 2017