Asa Bales—an inspiration to me

Up in the town of Westfield, there’s Asa Bales park. We’ve visited there several times, to get a Geocache and just take in nature.

I’ve always thought it was an odd name for a park, but only recently learned it was named for a person—Asa Bales.

Asa was born in North Carolina in 1795, Met his wife Suzanna, and they moved to Indiana in 1822. They spent a few years in Mooresville, which had a congregation of the Friends (Quaker) Church, and moved to Westfield in 1832.

I’ll admit that I don’t know too much and the Friends society, also known as the Quaker Church, but I do know they have a long history of promoting human rights, and in the 1700s and 1800s were extremely strong in the anti slavery movement.

Asa became a teacher in Mooresville (Quakers also have a long history of promoting education). He and Suzanne had no children of their own, but raised several children who had been orphaned.

He platted the original street of Westfield in 1834. He named the town after the “Westfield Friends Monthly Meeting”, which was a Quaker anti slavery group in North Carolina.

When the Westfield Society of Friends split over anti-slavery issues, he was instrumental in establishing the new congregation.  This effort clearly indicated his deep personal convictions and moral beliefs.  Asa and other settlers in the area offered a haven for the slaves that were en route to Canada on the Underground Railroad.  Often the men would take the runaway slaves into their homes and barns and place them in cleverly designed hiding places, while the women cooked and provided clothing for the runaways Asa provided the land on north Union street for the Anti Slavery Friends Meeting House and Cemetery in Westfield.

Asa and his wife, Suzanne, died in 1845 during the Cholera epidemic.

In his writings, he left a farewell letter to his friends and family in North Carolina, and it struck me that it would make a pretty good folk song, so I set it to music, made a few changes in words to fit the meter, and here’s the result. I hope you enjoy it.

Chicken Basil Stir Fry, a healthy eating recipe

Holly made this for dinner the other night, and it was fantastic! Several folks have asked for the recipe, so here it is!

Ingredients (2 person serving)

1/2 cup Jasmine rice

6oz Green Beans

1/2 ounce Thai basic

1 Lime

1 Chili pepper

1 Tbsp corn starch

4 Tblsp sweet soy glaze

2 Tblsp Sweet Thai chili sauce

10 oz Chicken Breast Strips

1 Tblsp garlic powder

1 Tblsp vegetable oil

1 Tblsp butter

Prep and cooking Rice

In a bowl, combine rice, 3/4 cup of water, and a big pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cook 15-18 minutes, until rice is tender. Keep covered, off heat, until ready to serve.

Mix sauce and season chicken

In a small bowl, whisk together half the cornstarch and 1/2 cup of cold water until smooth. Whisk in sweet soy glaze and chili sauce, set aside. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.

Cook beans and chicken

Heat a large drizzle of oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add in green beans, and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. Cook 3-5 minutes, until the beans are bright green and just tender, stirring occasionally. Transfer to a plate.

Add another drizzle of oil to the pan, and cook chicken 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown and cooked through. Pour sauce into the pan with the chicken, bring to a boil, then reduce to low simmer. Cook, stirring, until thickened. (1-2 minutes) Turn off heat.

Stir in green beans, basic, and a squeeze of lime juice. Taste, and add more lime juice, salt and pepper if desired.

Finish and serve

Fluff rice, stir in 1 tbsp butter and salt/pepper to taste. Divide rice between bowls and top with chicken stir fry. Add a pinch of chili if desired. Serve with any remaining lime wedges.

So, there you have it! It came together quite quickly and was VERY tasty, and is a healthy meal for you!

Great Cycle Challenge 2020 Final Ride!!

This year, I elected to participate in the Great Cycle Challenge. This challenge challenges cyclists to ride a mileage goal of their choosing, raising funds for research and treatments for pediatric cancers.

I’ve not done much serious riding over the past few years, and have really felt the need to get back on my bike, and thought this might be a good way to do it, and to raise funds for a worthy goal.

My goal for the month was 150 miles for the month of September. As I approached my goal, I decided I wanted to hit my goal on the Cardinal Greenway, based in Muncie. I was on the founding board of this greenway many years ago, so it seemed a fitting place to finish.

September 26 dawned clear and cool. Before heading up to Muncie, about an hour north of us here in Indy. We stopped at our favorite Indy breakfast spot, Rize, for breakfast before hitting the road. Holly chose the Salmon Toast, and I, the traditional farm eggs breakfast.

Upon arriving in Muncie, we parked at the White River Greenway extension and rode along the river for several miles, before picking up the Cardinal Greenway. There are some great views of the river along this route!

We stopped for lunch at Amazing Joe’s in Muncie, then back on the trail! Riding through Muncie, after about 10 miles we stopped for a quick breather and water break at Mansfield Park on the south side of Muncie.

From there, it was south to the Medford Trailhead. There used to be a town at Medford, but there is nothing there now, it’s largely farmland. But it was here that I hit my 150 mile goal for the month, and I was pretty happy about that!

This reststop/trailhead has some very nice artwork in the shelter!

From there, it was time to mount back on our bikes and head about to the car, about a 15 mile ride. The farmland scenery is beautiful and we really enjoyed our ride!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Oatmeal Bake

As you know, we’ve been working on living a healthier lifestyle. I’m fortunate that my wife is an outstanding cook, and loves to experiment in the kitchen, and I get to also reap the benefits!

Through our friend Jennifer Pendleton, we became aware of the website http://www.masonfit.com In his own words, Mason is a southerner, making healthier comfort foods and high protein desserts.

This is the Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Oatmeal bake. I encourage you to check out his website for more ideas! Now, on to the recipe!

The recipe calls for vanilla with added cocoa powder. But feel free to use a chocolate protein powder if that’s what you have on hand. You might add an extra 1/3 scoop to account for the loss of cocoa. 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 C (40g) Rolled Oats
  • 1 1/2 scoop (47g) Vanilla Protein Powder*
  • 2 Tbsp (10g) Unsweetened Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 3 Tbsp (50g) Peanut Butter
  • 1/4 C (60g) Canned Pumpkin
  • 1/3 C (80mL) Unsweetened Cashew Milk (or your choice of milk)

Instructions

  1. Preheat an oven to 350F.
  2. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. 
  3. Add the pumpkin, peanut butter, and milk. Stir well.
  4. Transfer the ingredients to a 6.5″ cast iron skillet or similar sized baking dish. (Different dishes will affect cook time.)
  5. Smooth the top of the mixture and bake for 12-15 minutes, depending on the dish and desired center. I purposely left out any food safety concerns so you can have this like gooey oatmeal or more done like a breakfast cookie.

Notes

1/2 the oatmeal bake has 8 Smart Points. Nutrition facts do not include any additional drizzle. For the drizzle, I melted a tablespoon of peanut butter and chocolate chips. 

Big Mac Salad, a healthy eating recipe

Last night, Holly made Big Mac salad for dinner, and several folks on twitter were asking for the recipe.

It’s become one of our favorite meals, and weighs in at only 260 calories per serving, as opposed to roughly 570 for a traditional Big Mac. And, to us, the flavor is there! It satisfies the craving without being “heavy”. So, without further ado, here’s the recipe.

2 T. diced onion

5 oz. 95-97% lean ground beef

2 T. Reduced calorie thousand island dressing.

1/8 t. white vinegar1/8 t. onion powder

3 c. shredded romaine lettuce

2 T. reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese

1 oz. dill pickle slices

1 t. sesame seeds

Cooking spray


Cook onion in a small. lightly greased skillet over medium high heat about 2-3 minutes.  Add beef and cook until fully browned.


While beef is cooking, mix together dressing, vinegar, and onion powder.


To assemble, top lettuce with ground beef and sprinkle with cheese. Top with pickle slices, drizzle with sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

As you can see, it’s a pretty simple recipe! If you’re looking for a calorie friendly, reasonably simple and healthy meal, we both highly recommend you try it!

Restaurant Review: Kona Grill, Carmel, IN

Kona Grill is a smaller chain of restaurants with location scattered around a dozen or so states, including one in Carmel, Indiana.

From their website: Kona Grill has a passion for fresh.  Fresh ingredients.  Fresh ideas.  Fresh experiences.  Every innovative dish is crafted using carefully sourced and hand-selected fish, meats and produce.  Our hand-crafted cocktails, more than 40 sauces, and our tempting desserts are all made in-house from scratch every day.  It’s an approach we call Kona Crafted.  Every detail matters. Since opening our doors in 1998 in Scottsdale, Arizona, we have strived to make every experience exceptional.

I had never dined in person here, although we had got carry out at the height of the Covid 19 pandemic. We are still doing outside dining only, for the most part, and Holly had dined on the patio last week with her sister, had a great experience, so we decided to go back on a Weekday evening.

They have a happy hour food menu, and the food is served kind of Tapas style, meant for sharing. The patio is spacious and the tables were well spaced out. Service was exceptional.

For round one, we shared a plate of Spicy Yellowtail Sashimi. This is nice and spicy (I like my food REALLY spicy) and the flavor was outstanding. Although I’ve had quite a bit of sushi, I believe this is my first time ordering Sashimi, and I would not hesitate to order it again. It was the perfect size for sharing.

For my 2nd round, I chose the Kona sliders. I liked this a lot, also. Perfectly done, served on mini King’s Hawaiian rolls, with fried onion crisps and other dressings, these were a unique and satisfying combination of flavors.

All in all, this was a great meal. Add in a pleasant patio, great service, I will not hesitate to visit again.


Kona Grill is located at 14395 Clay Terrace Blvd, Carmel, IN 46032. You can find them online at http://www.konagrill.com

Backyard Wildlife Certification in progress!

My wife, Holly, and I have been aware of the Backyard Wildlife Certification for some years now. Because we’ve always kept a quite hectic performing schedule, we’ve not been home much over the past few years. With COVID-19, we are finding ourselves with more time on our hands, and decided to start getting our yard ready for certification.

Administered by the National Wildlife Federation, your yard has to meet 5 criteria for certification….food, water, cover, places to raise young, and you have to practice sustainable practices—recycling, composting, etc.

We’ve always been avid bird and wildlife watchers/feeders, so we were off to a head start in the certification process.

Food We try to provide both human assisted (bird feeders) and natural food sources for the animals. Here are a couple of pictures of our back and front yard feeding stations, for human assisted food. In addition we have natural flowering plants and also clover, which provides natural feeding sources.

In addition, we have flowering plants that provide natural food.

Water We have container water gardens in both the front and back yard. These provide water sources for the birds and animals, and we’re finding them used much more for bathing than I anticipated!

Cover/Places to raise young We have a number of shrubs, mature trees, and more that provide natural cover and places to raise their young.

Sustainable practices We both recycle and compost. We have been using the natural compost as food for flower beds, etc.

Well, there you have it, a quick tour of our yard ready for certification. It’s really a pretty simple process, and if you look around your yard, you might well find that you’ve already got some elements in place. If you’re interested in getting your yard certified, you can follow this link to start the process.

Before I sign off, I’ll leave you with a few pictures of what we’ve spotted in our yard!

POTA Activation, and Hiking, Mounds State Park 7/13/2020

Mounds State Park is Indiana’s smallest state park. Located in Anderson, Indiana, about 45 minutes North of Indy, it’s a lovely park with some great hiking opportunities.

On this day, we were visiting for two reasons—to hike trails 1 and 2 (which form a loop), and to activate the park for the ham radio Parks on the Air program.

It was an unseasonably pleasant day for mid July–temps in the low 80’s and low humidity, so back in the woods it was a quite pleasant day for hiking.

The trail starts near the Bronnenburg House, which has been maintained as is part of park property.

The trail then winds through a meadow before entering some pretty deep woods. We made a new friend as we were approaching the woods.

That’s a Black Rat Snake, and he was a beauty indeed! We was suspicious of us, but not unfriendly.

Off to the deep woods we went. It’s surprising how quickly these woods get thick, and this is pretty typical Indiana forest.

After 3/4 of a mile or so, and a pretty steep incline down to the river, the trail meanders beside the river for 1/2 mile or so. This is the White river, popular for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing.

After meandering along the river, it intersects with trail 2, which leads up a quite steep incline, and back up near the Bronnenburg house.

After a brief visit to the nature center/restrooms, we found a shady place to set up for our POTA activation.

For gear, I was running a Yaesu FT100, running 25 watts, into a hamstick mounted on top of the car. It take 10 contacts to consider a park activated, and we made 10 in 5 minutes, one right after another. We were working on 50 meters, and worked stations in Iowa, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, and Illinois. After the required 10 contacts, we made a few more and then decided to switch over to 20 meters. 20 meter conditions weren’t very good, so we didn’t snag any contacts over there. sadly.

All in all, though, a great day. We got to go hiking and play ham radio in spectacular weather.

Row to Hoe–an original song about my father

My father was an interesting character. Started his life by losing his mother when he was 9, went to work in the coal mines of East Tennessee as a young teenager, off to WWII at 18 (barely), back to the coal mines.

At some point, he’d had enough. Enough of 14-18 hour work days in the dirty mine, being paid in scrip that was only good at the company store, and he saw no way out.

He heard about this magical town in Indiana called Muncie, where union factory jobs were plentiful. Muncie had factories owned by Borg Warner, Chevrolet, Delco Battery, and several more. So he packed up, headed north and never looked back.

He spent the rest of his working life in the Borg Warner factory, and at times I wonder if he regretted leaving those beautiful hills of East Tennessee.

To make a long story short, it took me a LONG time to write this song. My father and I had a relationship that was more than a little rocky, and I’ve often heard that the hardest songs to write are about the ones closest to you, and that was certainly the case here.

My father’s life didn’t have a happy ending. He worked hard all his life, retired, found out he had terminal cancer a week after that, and was gone a few short weeks after.

This song was so difficult to write because I didn’t want it to have an unhappy ending. After having worked on it for months, I called on my good friend and fellow songwriter Grant McClintock, and he helped me finish it.

You know, we never really know which was our road might go, so I hope his ultimately led him to sitting on a peaceful hilltop in whatever the heavenly version of Tennessee is.

So, there you have it. And, if you’re interested, here’s the song.

What’s the future of the music business?

Some of you know that for the last 40+ years I’ve been a professional musician. I’ve played festivals, state fairs, Irish pubs, concert halls, theaters, and just about every type of venue you might imagine.

Covid-19 has just about ended that way of life for folks like me—non superstars, who play 150-200 dates a year, stay plenty busy but no one has heard of. A fellow musician, Deren Nay, has put some thoughts together and I think they’re worth a read.

In the words of Deren Ney about Live Nations plan for the future of Live Shows

This is what people don’t get about trying to force concerts to start before Covid-19 is contained:

Rushing in before there’s a market is going to end a lot of your favorite bands, and be maddening for the ones who survive.

I can’t speak to how other industries will function in this new reality, but when the music industry shifted all profits from the sale of albums away from artists and toward streaming companies (eliminating one of the biggest sources of revenue for a band in the process), the response was, “Now you have got to make your money with your live show.” All eggs were placed in that basket.

Now that basket has been violently kicked and is sailing headlong into a grease fire in a fireworks plant.

Making it work for most bands was already nearly impossible. The time, the energy, and trying to budget it was an incredible strain that put most mid-level bands on the edge of financial ruin. And there’s no alternative to it — the road was the only option, so we just had to make it work. And now to have shows, many venues will be having people forcibly social distsnced, meaning far fewer people holding tickets or buying alcohol (alcohol sales are largely how clubs make their money). The only possible outcome of that is less money.

So now that the pie is even smaller, who’s going to absorb the cost?

Hotels aren’t going to take that hit for us. Gas stations aren’t gonna take the hit for us. Liquor companies aren’t gonna take the hit for us. Ticket prices will increase, so the consumer will take some hit, which is equally unfair.

But as wealthier people realize they can buy a more exclusive concert experience (a la all those VIP sections full of people not dancing in the front of giant festivals), paying more for a show where there’s less people in attendance will become a feature, not a bug.

So who is left to balance the impossible budget for this return to music?

Artists. Because they’re the only ones in the equation who’d do it for free.

Like prostitutes who are also sexaholics, they know artists would do it whether they make money or not, and they exploit that. Live Nation, a company which does quite literally nothing except take a giant cut of the money for tickets to see other people’s art, like a Colonel Tom Parker with the entire music industry as a client, is going to force that into existence with an early opening.

And a cooped-up general public will be eager to see shows again and probably even think the sooner they buy tickets, the better it is for the artists. It’s not. Buy their merch, support their live streams.

Until there’s a therapeutic or vaccine for Covid-19 that can slow the spread without social distancing limiting the ticket sales, or until Live Nation decides to stop being greedy motherless fuckfaces, there won’t be enough tickets sold consistently enough to sustain it in a way that doesn’t kill artists.

Rather than storing up their massive take of the money for difficult times to create some sort of protective system for the art they leech off of, Live Nation is a pimp coming to our house when we’re sick and telling us to get back on the street to make more money for them.

Their greed — and a public being unwittingly complicit by calling early for concerts — will result in performers and clubs being forced to make this new economic situation work by making already unimaginable financial strain unimaginably worse.

Or, far more likely, force those artists to cease to exist.

What’s next? Bands branding their clothes like NASCAR racers?

I wish I was joking.

Covid’s existence won’t end the music industry, but rushing back into things too early will end a lot of bands. Trying to have shows too early is not only going to — and I think this is somewhat important — KILL A LOT OF HUMAN BEINGS, it is also going to force yet another drastic shakeup of the economic relationship between clubs, promoters, and artists which the artists have to figure out a way to pay for, with either their blood or treasure.

There are no easy answers in any of this. But I hope people stop thinking getting back to how things used to be is just a matter of will or resolve. Until we figure out some way to address the halving of live music crowds, and the correlating budgets of bands, rushing to start shows again is just another way to screw over artists, whether they realize it yet or not.

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