Studio Materials 2

Studio Materials 2

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Taking Stock and Making Stock

Taking Stock - idiom: To look at critically or searchingly, or in minute detail, Make or include in an itemized record or report

I recently moved, ….again…, so I was forced to unearth and assess all of the things I have accumulated during more than 20 years as an adult. I have very few things from my childhood: a 1976 syrup bottle commemorating the bi-centennial of our country. I put coins into it. I doubt, if turned in, those coins would amount to $20.00. An electric owl lamp whose eyes light up. It’s really no more than a night-light. A Teddy Bear I bought at Hersey Park in 8th grade. His name is Cocoa. I know, lame name, but he’s cute.

It’s amazing what we haul around with us through life. Tables, chairs, beds, bath towels, clothing (I have a lot of clothing!), kitchen supplies. These are the foundational items, the stuff we feel we need for creating a comfortable living space.  I’ve been preoccupied lately with what makes a comfortable home. Due to recent events which have me living a comparatively nomadic life, I’ve been forced, to reconsider what I am willing to carry around with me in order to live in what modern times would be considered a comfortable life.

The TV was one of the first things to go. I can watch what I need to fulfill that Zombie-like state of mind on the internet. Watching a television has become old school. Who would have thunk it? I’ve also been editing redundant kitchen utensils from my essentials list. Who really needs a blender anyway? I can buy drink mixers in the supermarket, with alcohol if need be. I only have a few pieces of furniture, just the essentials: dresser, mirror, bed, desk ( a big desk - I have my own business, so this monstrosity is my portable office) desk chair ( an antique I bought years ago at an auction, it fits my short legs), and one of those sets of four folding tables you buy at Target. Thankfully, where I’m living now is well furnished, no need for me to provide a tractor-trailer full of furniture.

What things do we need around us on a daily bases that make our lives livable? What can we live without? What are the things we have that, when we think about it, are more a burden than a benefit? I often wonder what it would be like to have a lot of money, and, therefore, the buying power that comes with it. Would I want all of things I can’t afford right now, or would acquiring, say,  an original dragonfly Tiffany Lamp be a liability rather than an improvement to my life?

Stock –noun: a flavored water preparation. It forms the basis of many dishes, particularly soups and sauces.
My first cooking lesson involved, among other things, making a basic soup stock. The ingredients are: rough chopped carrots, green peppers, onions, and celery. That’s it! From this basic, foundational melody of flavors, you can make a beef, chicken, or fish stock, or keep it as a vegetable stock. Any of these four stock bases will yield whatever soup, sauce, or flavor enhancement you like. Many people recommend having several containers of prepared stock in your freezer. What a revelation this is for me. Cooking always seemed like a chore because I thought I had to have all of this stuff on hand all of the time. Now I know I need just a few foundational ingredients, like soup stock, with which to create a delicious meal.

Simple, clean, uncluttered. I like it.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Colorful Ingredients

Ok, so here I am joining the blogosphere. OMG, it’s a vast universe. I’ve only read a few blogs, most of which have been very good; entertaining, informative, thought provoking. I have also read a number of clunkers. Some of these ramblings make me wonder if the light is on but no one is home. Can the lives of these people really be that boring and insipid, or are they just bored with the whole bloggity-blog thing? (I should mention here that I sometimes lack a filter. I’ve been called charming and cool for this very reason. I will try not to sling poop at major ethnicities or food groups. However, expect the odd four-letter word to sneak out from time to time, and that I will write/speak my mind. Isn’t that what this forum is for?)

Avocados 3
My subjects for this blog, the ingredients, if you will, are my art and art in general, my life, and my adventures in learning to cook. The first two subjects are like best friends; familiar but never predictable and always evolving along side you.  I have been nurturing my art ever since I was 5. Yeah, I was that kid in the corner, hunched over a piece of paper with finger paint in my hair and all over my smock and 10 pudgy digits. In addition to creating visually, I am a teacher of art. My students are people of varying ages. My life has been consumed with practicing, studying, and talking about art in all of its varied forms. I love my job and, although scratching out a living causes some level of stress, I’m not really qualified to do anything else, nor do I have an authentic inkling to venture into any other career at this point.

You could also say I’ve been contemplating my life ever since….well, ever since it began. We all have, haven’t we?  I didn’t really begin the broad examination of mine until about 2 years ago when I started therapy. Being in therapy will help you bring the big picture of your life into view. But first, you ponder the details, the stuff that gets in the way of the big picture. You spend time and emotional energy opening up those small memory passages and levels of your psyche that have remained blocked or buried for significant periods of time. I love the process of this slow, sometimes painful process of self-discovery. It hurts so good! Moving through intense emotions is…well, emotive, and cathartic, and cleansing. Let’s face it, who couldn’t use a good cry?

The last ingredient/writing subject is new, fresh, and whose entrance into my life brings that savory flavor I have been craving. I have wanted to learn to cook in the formal sense for about 20 years. But, I told myself in the past, it was never the right time. “I have to many other things to do, things that are more important. It will be too expensive to buy what I need. I’m not worthy!” Shee-it! What is more important that creating an orgasm for your mouth, I ask you, dear Readers? What’s that? Nothing? I concur! So with sharpened knives and well-oiled iron skillet in hand (damn! that thing is heavy! I need to work out) I stand ready to dice and sauté!  Believe it or not, I somehow managed to get a chef, Chef Jeff, to come to my house for my formal training. How freakin’ cool is that? My first few lessons will cover the basics. Like learning to put that first expressive line on a page, my cooking lessons give me the foundation I need to bring daily joy to my taste buds and gastronomical creativity to my life.

I hope to never get bored with these blog entries here, or for them to become ordinary, like some web writings I have come across. At this point in my life (I’m female and 45, what could be more exciting than that?) change is the only constant I have. I plan on documenting at least part of this wild ride through middle age, what I call my second puberty. Eventually, I suppose, my life will quiet down, I’ll get off the roller coaster and settle softly onto the comfy cushion of…older age. Don’t get me wrong; retirement is not in my vocabulary. I’m an artist, we never retire, we just keep making stuff no one wants. However, I would like to finally wander into a greener pasture of contentment and graze awhile. Until then, I plan on pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, and it’s about bloody time I did. What am I waiting for, incontinence? And so, to paraphrase and pervert a somewhat overused exclamation, Fasten your seatbelts, it’s gonna be not only a bumpy night, but one that promises inconsistent body temperatures and emotional states!

Donna Cusano

I love my Mac!