Growing Older

Bonnie, November 2013<
On November 17, 2013, a storm hit the Detroit area and has since been billed by Detroit Edison as the biggest in ten years. It started as a thunder-storm with heavy rain. I could hear the wind blowing and I learned later that it reached gusts of over 70 miles per hour. About and hour into the storm, my house lost power. I have electric baseboard heat so I also lost heat. At the time, it was about 40 degrees F. Losing power is not commonplace here, so I got my battery operated lantern and sat down to wait. I reported the outage To Detroit Edison. It was dark and looking out the window, I could see that my neighbors had no power. I had just finished dinner so at least I wasn’t hungry.

I got out a book to read and read by torchlight until I was tired. I went to sleep early and woke up cold. I fed my dog and I had a cold breakfast. I checked the mobile outage map on my iPhone and saw that we were supposed to get power right before midnight that same night. I decided I could tough it out. The house got colder and colder. Bonnie, my dog, and I went to the car to warm up. I started charging my electronic stuff.

By mid afternoon. The car wasn’t cutting it. Bonnie was shivering in the house. Bonnie will be fourteen next month and I have seen signs of her age. I can see that the hair on her muzzle is turning white. When I come home she recognizes me first by voice. At night when she goes out, she sometimes has trouble seeing and navigating the stairs. She doesn’t get up on the bed as easily. Unlike people though she is not plucking her grey hairs or complaining about pain in her joints. the sight of her shivering was a reminder that she is more fragile than she used to be. We went riding in the car. We both got warm. I finally stopped in a coffee shop which turned out to be and ad hoc warming center. While drinking the coffee, I checked the outage map. More were out of service and I was now scheduled for return of power in two days. I began to call kennels and got Bonnie a warm place for the duration. When I went home to pick up her food, it was colder and the temp was supposed to fall below freezing that night.

I delivered Bonnie to a kennel and stopped by a motel and booked myself a room. I was lucky. While I was there, another motel called to see if they had any rooms left. I got a cheaper room. It was clean and warm.
I went home to pack and go to the motel. I had offers from a couple of acquaintances to stay at their home. I did not know them well enough to stay at their homes.

I had to eat out. One was the “American BLT”. I thought it would be a normal BLT. Imagine my horror when I found a slice of the processed cheese product some call American cheese melted on the sandwich. I was able to scrape it off so I could eat it.

I stayed only one night. My power was restored early. Bonnie was two nights in the kennel. With my kind of heat it takes about 6 hours to warm.

The next couple of days, I had to go through my food. I had to throw out a lot. I had put some in the freezer which didn’t work. I had packed some in ice and it didn’t work.

Finally, by Saturday I was through the clean up and by yesterday I was back to normal.

ROOMS at Cliff Bells

Cliff Bells ROOMS

Last night, I had planned to go to Motor City Wine to see the Mike Jellick Trio. in fact, that is where I started. When I got there, it was not the Mike Jellick Trio playing. The place was very crowded with a birthday party. It was one of those scenes where getting from point a to point b only ten feet away takes five minutes and bumping at least five people. the noise level was so high, the music could not be heard. I took about two minutes to decide that I had to find another place.

I set off for Cliff Bells which was only about seven minutes away by car. The group from Chicago was called “R O O M S Trio”. They are Dan Pierson on keyboards, Charlie Kirchen on bass and Matt Carroll on drums.ROOMS

They played mostly their own compositions as far as I could tell. They did mention a CD they have. None of the songs were introduced which means that I have no reference point if I want to listen to some of the music on the website. The music was highly entertaining intellectually and I did enjoy the set. They played as a very cohesive group and the solos were played well. At first , I didn’t feel anything emotionally and thought that it was only going to be a mind rush. But, as I relaxed into the music, the barrier to an emotional connection began to fall. It never relaxed completely but I could see the possibility for the future.

Tumbao Bravo at the Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe…11/7/13

DDJC Tumbao Bravo

This was a long time coming. I decided to use a “real” camera and getting the pic from there to here the first time was a “learning experience”. And there were also some other major distractions.

The first time I saw Tumbao Bravo was at the Michigan Jazz Fest in about 2005. That is a great place to sample things and they got jumbled with the many other groups I heard that day. I do remember that when I hear the words Latin jazz, they were not what I expected. The Dirty Dog jazz experience is set up so that what you get is one set with something to eat. For me, it is hard to combine the two.

For this evening, the group was Alberto Nacif on congas, Paul Vornhagen on sax, flute and piccolo, Javier Barrios as a multi percussionist, Brian Debasio in piano, John Barron on the upright bass and Paul Finkbeiner on trumpet. Bob Mojica also stepped in on a couple of trumpet numbers.

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Left to right: Javier Barrios, Alberto Nacif, John Barron, Paul Finkbeiner and Paul Vorhagen

Overall the music had a definite Afro- Cuban beat. As I said, it is hard to eat and thoroughly listen to the music. So, a lot of this is impression rather than intent listening. I am missing the intense listening and have some planned for this evening. The impression I had was, for the most part, a happy , energetic music that just made me feel good. I felt good to the point where although an additional venue beckoned, I decided not to go. My favorite numbers of the evening were “El Chico” and”Los Moros”. They made me sit up and really listen. I liked the complex rhythms and melodious songs where the melody twists like a vine through the beats of the rhythm leading my mind to a quieter place.

The Dirty Dog Jazz Cafe, 11/7/13….The Meal

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When I first noticed the three course for thirty dollars, I had wanted to try it. When I checked out the prices, it was a good deal. So last Thursday night when we went in to see Tumbao Bravo ( another post), I finally ordered the meal. All the choices were also on the regular menu.

I started with the spinach salad. I had eaten it before and it was not spectacular. It was different from the usual house salad. The spinach was baby spinach. In addition, there was a half a hard-boiled egg, some red onion, some roasted red peppers and mushrooms. The dressing was light and the salad was not heavily dressed. As it comes to the table, the spinach is in the middle and the other ingredients are in each corner. And it is a mixing project at the table.

For the entrée, I ordered the baked salmon. I cook salmon often at home and I have developed a couple of sauces and ways to cook it that I really like. There was a little alarm voice going off in my head saying don’t do it. I asked the server if it was wild caught or farmed. She said farmed. The little alarm got louder. It said baked with seasonal vegetables. And a louder alarm sounded. I was so hungry for salmon, I ordered it anyway. It was over cooked and bland for my taste. I can say the glaze which was a good addition. I think it was ginger, soy sauce and honey or some other sweetener. The seasonal vegetables were Brussels sprouts and chick peas in some sort of other seasoning. As I ate the veggies, I got a definite crunch in my mouth. It was bacon. In fact, there were several noticeable pieces of bacon in the seasonable veggies. The pic below is really much worse than the food. I turned off the flash and the camera compensated by adding a red filter. The restaurant asks that patrons do not use the flash while the musicians are performing.I did as much as I could with my limited editing capabilities.

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The dessert saved the meal. They called it an apple crisp with cinnamon ice cream, in a phyllo pastry cup on a bed of caramel. The apple in the phyllo cup was diced and cooked in apple pie seasonings and warm. It was topped with the cinnamon ice cream. I managed to scrape a little caramel off the plate with each sweet, tangy bite. It was a wonderful ending especially with the great coffee they serve.

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Tumbao bravo was performing that evening and they are different from what I usually see. That is for another post.

Million Mask March..inspiring photos and videos

A bit more about the Million Mask March yesterday….

The Free

Anonymous Global Million Mask March. LIVE Updates

Anonymous #MillionMaskMarch in Turkey. Via @RedHack_BaRikat

Anonymous #MillionMaskMarch in Australia.
Via @RedHack_BaRikat

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Different for me: Homemade Eggplant Parmesan

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I decided to sort of make up a recipe for something that resembles eggplant Parmesan. It just hit the spot and was quite good. There were three slices of breaded eggplant in the bottom covered with spaghetti meat sauce. Then, a few gratings of Parmesan Reggiano. Then a layer of spinach. I added another layer of meat sauce over the spinach. And on the top, more grated cheese. I put it in a medium oven for one half hour. There was much less cheese than usual but I used very good very flavorful cheese. It is much lighter than most Eggplant Parmesan which is just what I wanted,.

Brizola and a Little Music

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I went to Brizola last night to see Charles Greene play some jazz. The restaurant is located in the Greektown Casino in the Greektown area of Detroit. I have never been to the casino on a Saturday night. I do use the casino parking structure when I go to Greektown. It was full up to the eleventh level. Usually when I go, I walk through the casino to get to the street and on week nights, it is not very crowded. As I walked from the garage to the casino through the enclosed bridge, I saw a young man wearing a kilt

20131103-090425.jpgSome women behind me were outraged to see a man wearing a dress in public as they put it. A minute later, going the other way, a young man and his date passed us in Halloween costumes and he was wearing a dress as well.

Brizola is an upscale restaurant tucked away from the gaming. The floor was crowded and all the machines had players. Stepping in to Brizola was like stepping into a different planet. The bar is a circular bar which is secluded from the dining floor by a fence. I sat at the bar and asked for the menu which I had checked out online. The menu was presented on an iPad with pictures of each dish appearing when you tapped the item. I ordered the waygu tenderloin tartare appetizer. I love steak tartare and see it on a menu infrequently. I have not had it for about seven years and could hardly wait. I sat and looked around the bar.

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Charles Greene came off break and started to play. It was just what I needed . The music was relaxing and not stimulating. It is perfect for the casino atmosphere. The noise and chaos of the casino floor is all stimulation. They served me some bread while I was waiting. I had a choice of butter, balsamic vinegar or olive oil for dipping. The bread was warm and I a warm napkin. I was told they use homemade butter.

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The tartare took a while and I did eat some very good bread. When the tartare finally came, I was so excited that I did not take a picture. So, all I can do is describe the plate. The tartare was centered on a teardrop shaped plate. To the right, it had four small semicircles of toast. To the left were large shavings or Parmesan Reggiano and some homemade butter. The bartender asked if I wanted salt and pepper. I tasted the tartare. It was seasoned perfectly. I could taste the wine, salt and pepper. I think I caught a hint of possibly anchovy paste. It was not served with a raw egg which was fine with me. I took a piece of toast, added a slice of the Parmesan and topped it with the tartare. I was in food heaven. I wanted to wolf it down and fought with myself to eat it slowly to make it last. The music was relaxing me and slowed me down. Charles does fit in perfectly with the place and his music quieted my mind so when I got home I got a great night of sleep.

Mike Jellick Trio at Motor City Wine after Big Fun

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After Big Fun at Cliff Bells, I went over to Motor City Wine to see the Mike Jellick Trio since I had not even lasted for one set at Cliff Bells. I had a little argument with myself over it since I have been so very, very tired and not sleeping well. I thought I could stay for one set and just maybe I would satisfy my wish for some live music and get home early enough to get some good sleep.

When I walked in, the band was on break. I got my blood orange soda and settled in at a table to wait for the music. When the band return and started to play, my body finally relaxed to hear the music I like so much.

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Big Fun and Dinner at Cliff Bells

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Halloween night was a perfect night to go out for music. At Cliff Bells, an avant guard band called Big Fun, was playing. I thought parking would be a breeze. I was wrong. The Insane Clown Posse was at the Fillmore is about a block away. I had a choice of paying a bit for parking or walking. I drove around and found a spot about two blocks away on a busy street. I parked and walked. It was in a steady rain with gusty wind. It arrived at Cliff Bells mostly wet.

I stepped back into the 1930s as I walked into the bar. I got there before the band named Big Fun started. I sat at the bar. They have seats with a little table jutting out from the bar which provides a place to eat as well as an intimate atmosphere for couples. I hung up my wet jacket and purse on the hook under the bar. i had planned on eating since my last food experience was not good. I i wanted to see if things would better on another night. When I finally got the attention the bartender, I asked for a menu. The roast chicken sounded like something I would enjoy. It took some time to get the attention of the bartender again. He almost went into shock when I ordered the meal. I think he now saw me as a reasonable tip.

The food came out and on this rainy, windy night was the comfort food I wanted. It was described as roast chicken with herbed gnocchi, cannelloni beans, Brussels sprouts, and saffron-vanilla cream.

20131101-095455.jpgAs you can see, the picture is not great. The aroma wafting up from the plate was an invitation to eat. The rustic presentation said comfort. I first tried one of the Brussels sprouts which was a little al dente and under seasoned for me. It is a veggie I eat at home a lot from the simple steamed preparation to a more elaborate steamed then sautéed in butter preparation. It is a hard veggie for me to cook to the just the point where I like it. I took the skin off the chicken and cut a piece of chicken. It had a savory sauce on it that I would have called gravy. Was this the saffron-vanilla cream sauce? I didn’t taste either saffron or vanilla. The chicken was moist and the gravy was a marvelous and savory addition. The herbed gnocchi were very light and I added the gravy which made them even better. I am not sure why the cannelloni beans were added to the dish. They did add another texture and had a deep, complex rich flavor. All in all, it was a great meal to have on a rainy wet night.

The band, Big Fun, was introduced as a part of the Detroit Vanguard series of avant guard jazz. I am not very familiar with the subset of the jazz genre but the write up said they would be going music from the Miles Davis album called Bitches Brew and I was familiar with the album. The members of the band were, as follows: Patrick Booth on alto and tenor sax, Steve Rush on keys, Jonathan Edwards on guitar, Tim Flood on bass guitar, Jeremy Edwards on drums and Dan Piccolo on percussion. The players were never introduced by name so I have not idea who was playing trumpet.

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They did play “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” which is one of my favorites from the album. I noticed immediately that the band sounded out of balance. I do not know if this was intentional or not. The bass player was the loudest instrument and was the dominating sound. When the keys were being played at and average volume, I could barely hear them. The drum and percussion for the most part were almost not there. So, the bass was the driver and the beat for the song. This was frustrating to me because I try to listen to all the instruments together and then try to give a listen to each instrument to hear its contribution. So, that being said, the overall effect was head banging jazz. They played other songs from the album and others came off with less of a driving beat.

I was an introduction and I might have enjoyed it more if I had not been wet. I will continue to listen to Avant Guard when I have the chance. And I will still love my Straight Ahead.