Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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In Arizona Frida Kahlo is a giant cultural icon, representing the art and rebellious spirit of the Mexican people. Her famous muralist husband, Diego Rivera, is less well known, or at least less of a modern figure here in the United States. He was very famous before they met, and she became famous after her death. They were highly influencial in the Mexican Revolution, Diego often painting large murals about the oppression of the masses. Frida had an affair with Leon Trotsky, who was in Mexico City after the Russians exiled him.
The prestigious Heard Museum is now showing an exhibit of their work, some original photos, and a wardrobe designed to show the way Frida distinctively dressed herself in indigenous hand woven garments. She changed classical art in Mexico by introducing the elements of folk art that she included in her clothing. She honored the colors, symbols, and methods used by Native Mexican tribes to bring new life and meaning to her paintings. Her political beliefs were expressed through her art.
This wonderful visiting exhibit is well worth the extra $7. It will be on display through 20 August. Prices go way down everything in the summer in Phoenix. The accommodations will be generously discounted when the heat rises. This makes it a perfect time for a bargain excision to the big city.
The permanent collection includes incredible Native American art. The book store and cafes are lovely. The gift shop is curated to offer the public super high quality work of Native artists. To look closely at the entire collection takes a few hours and some concentration. I am particularly fond of the kachina collection, full of detail and meaning. I recommend this museum to anyone of any age.
If we were having coffee in Tucson today I would invite you to take a dip in the pool because it will reach 100 degrees this afternoon. I am drinking coffee in the early morning as we prepare to spend the day in Phoenix. I know it sounds counter intuitive to go down to the valley of the sun when the heat is cranking up. Here is my logic. This weekend will be a slow one at the Heard Museum, where there is a special exhibit of the paintings of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. The universities have graduated the student population, and the snow birds have gone back to the north woods, so this is SLOW season in all of Arizona. It will reach 100 for the next 5 days in a row, which will just be a warm up (pun intended). We get good deals on hotels and other things in the summer. Natives handle the heat by going inside to air conditioned comfort in the middle of the day. Our reservation for the Rivera/Kahlo show is at 1 pm, which gives us time to see the rest of the museum. We have not been there for many years. The permanent collection has some amazing Native American art, including Barry Goldwater’s kachina collection. I am a real museum nut, and Bob does not mind spending lots of time checking out every detail of an exhibit. After you finish your coffee you can ride along in the red Mustang for the trip if you like. It should be a fun day. I plan to have crepes for brunch up in Tempe.
If we were having coffee today I would tell you a funny story about clearing clutter, about which I write frequently, and actually accomplish with less alacrity. I managed to take a large box of books to the used book store last week. Although they only purchased one book, I left the entire box for non profit organizations that pick them up there. I felt proud because I even managed to ditch some of my beloved, and never used, cookbooks. Yesterday in a Facebook group of people who used to live in the boonies in petroleum camps in Eastern Venezuela folks started saying they would pay to have a certain cookbook copied. I happen to have a copy, much used, and very special to me. The pride in ditching the old books has been replaced by pride in keeping the right one, San Tome Gourmet. San Tome was the name of our petroleum camp in Estate Anzoategui. It does contain some killer recipes. I have preserved history and culinary authenticity in my cookbook hoarding practice, so it is now very cool.
Tell me how your week and your writing has been. I have skipped too many days posting here this week, but did manage a couple of poems. Maybe next week I will be more productive and creative. I am calling on my summer muse to show up and inspire. She always shows up sooner or later…she is a little late. I hope your muses are serving you well and keeping your creative juicers flowing. Thanks for visiting this week. For those of you who want to keep up with bloggers around the world each weekend, check Nerd In The Brain for party invitations. Read, comment, or write your own digital beverage post. All are welcome.
The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix is a destination worth a lengthy visit. I spent the day there recently in complete awe. The special exhibit on display now is an incredible collection of artfully inlaid instruments. They exhibit includes videos to show the methods and makers of this specialized art. The intricacy they achieve is impressive, and almost impossible to discern with the naked eye. The museum furnishes the visitors with little flashlights to illuminate the inlay for better appreciation of the detail. This show is all in one large room, but is packed with amazing art. The exhibit is both enlightening and inspirational. I have a new appreciation for this fine craftsmanship.
The well designed space tells the story of the history and evolution of music all around the globe. There are instruments and videos to explain the origins and uses of them arranged by geographic region. Plan to spend a long time, or go back more than once to see the entire space. I took out some time in the afternoon to attend a concert by the Phoenix Symphony Orchestra in the small acoustically perfect theater on site. The selections played were very special for the small space, and I had a front row seat with a direct view of the conductor. It was intimate and wonderfully transformative. I enjoyed the concert immensely, and would return for another matinée the next time I plan a trip. The concert/museum combination is hard to beat. The concert series offers all kinds of music, and the prices are very reasonable for the quality. The concert hall is a real treat in itself. I highly recommend this museum for an hour or a week. It is fascinating, and feeds the soul.
My latest craze is making sauerkraut. I discovered Garden Goddess Ferments products at a farmer’s market in Scottsdale a couple of weeks ago. We returned to Phoenix the following weekend to buy more sauerkraut and attend a workshop about making fermented foods. Suzette Smith of Garden Goddess Ferments organized an expo with break out learning sessions at the Office Pile. The space was perfect for the event, and many interested patrons turned out to learn more about eating healthy food. Healthy snacks, bone broth, personal chef services, and health coaching tables greeted guests, and classes were held both upstairs and in a conference room.
The fermented food class Suzette taught was so basic, simple, and informative that anyone could leave and go make kraut after attending. She told us about the benefits of the natural probiotic cultures and how she created her own delicious line of small batch artisanal krauts which she sells to the public. She also has for sale hand made crocks and cabbage shredders for the home fermenter. She forgot to bring the tool with which she had planned to mash the cabbage, so while she gave her informative lecture she pounded the cabbage with her fist until it yielded enough liquid to submerge itself. It really drove home the primitive, and as Suzette stressed in the class, forgiving nature of this process. If you have a glass or stainless steel vessel, a cabbage, a small amount of salt and a fist you can preserve food like our ancient ancestors. The mixture was rubbing up immediately, demonstrating the basic chemistry involved. This is the most natural way to preserve food and keep it alive.
It is so simple I can’t believe we are not all doing it all the time. I am hooked. I had both succeeded and failed in the past with large batch kraut in a ceramic crock. After seeing the class I understood that I had used too much salt and left it in the crock too long. Other students reported the same thing. This is what we got for following directions. This is one of those hands on experiences, like bread baking, that can be best learned by personal observation. Suzette is enthusiastic about the healthy possibilities and has developed a range of zesty flavorful krauts containing very healthy ingredients such as ginger, garlic and turmeric. The difference between her products and commercial krauts is the living probiotic culture present in the home made version. Bubbbie’s is the only live sauerkraut I know on the market, but she does not have anything like the range of flavors Garden Goddess offers. Suzette also creates seasonal varietals. Right now at home I have Kowboy Kraut, finished with cumin, Kristmas Kraut with some apple and my favorite, Power Kraut, made with red cabbage, garlic, ginger, and turmeric. She is constantly creating new and exciting combinations. If you live in the Phoenix area I urge you to run right out and buy some Garden Goddess kraut. Your digestion will thank you for it.
There is an arch rivalry between the cities of Phoenix and Tucson. We Tucsonans know that people outside the state have no way to distinguish the two and often confuse them. Politics aside (which would be impossible for Arizonans), there are extreme differences in the tourism and hospitality styles of these two towns. Tourists are attracted to the golf tournaments in both Maricopa and Pima Counties. Baseball spring training has all moved up there, and brings in millions. Bowl games and the Phoenix Suns brighten the economic situation for them too. The typical Tucson tourist is much less interested in shopping and is more likely to be spending time involved in outdoor sports of all kinds. Scottsdale is not afraid to step up and cover that niche offering the shopper from back east a wester phantasy phree phun time. Phree parking in old town allows these people to leave the car and ride around in a horse-drawn wagon for an exorbitant price. Everyone is excited to be way out west. The city of Scottsdale hires the trusty horse Dusty and Gary J Sprague, the singing cowboy, to serenade the crowd 1-4 on Saturdays. They are a huge hit.
I am inspired to drive to the Valley of the Sun for the phabulous phood scene. The AZ Slow Food newsletter informed me recently about the existence of a special highly rare date variety growing only in Scottsdale known as the Black Sphinx. The market was established in 1951 selling a date that developed there from seed and was distinct from all others. The extremely thin skin makes it a poor candidate (pun intended) for shipping. The fresh dates require refrigeration and are extremely delicate. After shopping the Scottsdale Pharmer’s market where I scored amazing produce and preserved items, we visited the date store, which features Arizona products of high gourmet quality. Bob bought beers brewed in Arizona, one of which was a stout that contained the dates from the Sphinx Pharm. We both agree the Black Sphinx is the best date we have ever tasted, and before Bob ate it he told me he does not like dates…a convert. We also tried a very good date cookie and some chocolate covered Medjools that are scrumptious. We came home loaded with gourmet groceries and exotic citrus. We have to admit we had phun.