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  • Melissa Orquiza

Green Goddess Hummus, My Childhood Piano Teacher, “Smug,” Doja Cat & Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

Green Goddess Hummus. Make your life more beautiful! Enjoy!

Green Goddess Hummus, My Childhood Piano Teacher, “Smug,” Doja Cat & Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony

My childhood piano teacher, Mrs. Sue Shannon, was a Southern spitfire of a woman. Born and bred in Texas, she was almost always impeccably made-up, with her signature red lipstick, immaculate black eyeliner (and mascara), tailored outfits, and had the most joyous nature. Her hair was red and subtly permed (it was the 80’s) and when she spoke, her words oozed with a thick Texan accent and subtle laughter. Imagine a Texan Nancy Reagan (with eyeliner) that taught piano, composition and tap danced after Bible study while simultaneous writing and publishing the wildly successful music composition books for little kids: the “Honeycomb” series, published by Alfred Publishing. (Please google Honeycomb and Sue Shannon. She still comes up after all these years!) She originally thought she’d be a chorus girl in the movies (since she was pretty and could sing and dance). That was my amazing teacher!

She met her husband at Baylor University, got married while in their twenties (he was older) and laughed that after her wedding night, he was surprised that she didn’t know how to cook. (Lol! He cooked that morning. He knew how to cook since he was the oldest of his siblings. She said she learned after that.) He served our country in the Navy, stationed in the South Pacific during World War II and (miraculously) came back. For the record, he thought the Armed Services would not accept him because he had polio as a young boy. In their living room, for his service, was a proudly displayed medal of honor and certificate, next to a Geisha doll, where we would all sit, awaiting our turn for lessons. While on their couch, I would stare at them in curiosity. Mr. Shannon, the engineer, would always go into his study while she continued teaching and we’d politely wave hello.

When I got older, I would help Mrs. Shannon teach the younger kids. One day she told me to follow her into her husband’s study and I was shocked. I think my mouth was agape for a full minute. His study included Wild West oil paintings, a bronze Indian sculpture, a real bull’s horns, and cowboy memorabilia. I should not have been shocked, but I was pretty sheltered. Wild West memorabilia were curiosities we encountered while living in the Midwest and the South. I didn’t realize people would decorate with it in their homes. (Obviously, we didn’t go to other people’s houses much.) I shouldn’t have been surprised. Both were born and bred in Texas and would gladly tell us funny stories about their ENORMOUS family barbecues. I laughed. We had enormous barbecues too, but not on a RANCH. (She rode side saddle.)

Mr. and Mrs. Shannon had an indelible impact on me and my siblings lives, (as most music teachers). After moving from the South to California, funds were tight, so we stopped music lessons. After a year had passed, my mother apparently took pity on me, watching a little girl go to the piano every day, playing the same pieces she had learned years ago, desperately trying to teach herself new ones. (I was trying to read Beethoven, my mother’s and my grandmother’s piano books, trying to coordinate with both hands, almost gave up, and just started playing ANYTHING. Now that I think about it, maybe my mom put me back into lessons because I was making a racket….) I never asked Mrs. Shannon about her political affiliation but if memory serves, I can guesstimate it leaned extremely conservative. She looked and dressed like Nancy Reagan (with eyeliner) but appearances can be deceiving. I dress pretty conservatively, am comparatively quiet, and have had wild assumptions made about me that are pretty hilarious. (Don’t we all break the normative mold, sometimes?)

My childhood, my career, the outside ideas that helped shape my thinking outside of my insular family, came from Mrs. Shannon, the Texan, spitfire, Republican and I will ALWAYS be grateful. Now that I have a daughter who loves music, it pains me to think that because of our current political divide, the love and guidance I received, could be missed due to our nation’s perceived differences. I have voted for both parties (I can’t believe I’m writing this) and look to the better candidate for me and my family’s situation. The majority of my family is extremely conservative and when I discussed my political views to a cousin, she laughed and said, “Ten years ago, you’d be a Republican.” I laughed and told her that I have voted for Republican candidates in the past!

So, here’s my deal. I’d like to believe most people are not extreme, don’t want to fight, just want the best for their families and that there are moderates amongst the ranks. I am one of them. I would hate to see them voted out of office due to extremism and misinformation. This is for BOTH sides. (I believe in discussion of opposing opinions in order to find holes in arguments and to find the best solution for everyone… with respect.) If my childhood piano teacher is the embodiment of Republican values, I absolutely respect that. It pains me to watch we have an inability to get along because of stereotypes. I am not at all happy with the way funds have been handled by certain Democrats and I especially do not like watching the decimation of the entertainment industry by our state’s leadership. Most of my friends have lost their jobs, lost their businesses, are about to lose their businesses, and are barely surviving or are retraining. I was especially livid when I saw our Governor flout Covid restrictions while almost everyone around me was struggling or had been personally affected by the pandemic. I am not blind to the fact that California has done quite well under Republican governors.

On that note, as difficult as it has been, since our Congress has been having a hard time finding common ground (and taking matters into my own hands), I’ve been forcing myself to talk to those who believe in the conspiracy theories, election fraud, Antifa beliefs and the like, to try to find a commonality. I mentally prepare myself, like you do with any dysfunctional relationship, because let’s face it. Every relationship is somewhat dysfunctional. If we don’t communicate, how do we get past this? They were surprised to hear that I don’t believe in socialism, I don’t agree with defunding the police, but instead think the way judges, detectives and police are paid should be restructured, were surprised to find out that I wasn’t an atheist, surprised about my aggressive stance on the manipulation of democracy and the role of foreign aggressors on the economy, hate the flaunting of elitist behavior, and violent behavior and/or destruction of property should be considered a criminal act and should be prosecuted, no matter which side you’re on. Let’s be honest. Manipulation of the markets and people happen with both political parties. Think hard. Who or which countries stand to gain from our instability? I wish we’d collectively keep our eye on the ball.

So, on that note, since the commonalities are that both sides are feeling like they are not being heard or recognized, we love our families and democracy, it reminded me of the South Park “Smug” episode, with the Prius’ and how they love the smell of their own farts (including an Oxford dictionary definition).

Btw, this is not a comment on any political party- just to the adherents that refuse to listen or try to understand the other side. Here’s a refresher.

New Neighbors

For those of you who do not know, I grew up in the Midwest and the South when we finally settled in the Bay Area, (while tech was in its infancy.) Go Warriors! Yes, I kept my maiden name. No, I didn’t give my kid a hyphenated last name but I did give her a funny, Hollywood nickname so she doesn’t sound stuck up (not her real name). Btw, my real first name is “Johanna”, pronounced the German way, like Johann Sebastian Bach or Johannes Brahms. I dropped it as a kid and was called “Missy”. How Red State! Lol!

Again, not a comment on either political party- just those extremists that refuse to listen to those of us that just want moderate ally-ship. It took me days to figure out whether or not this was appropriate to post. (So torn!) When I showed it to my husband, he said it was the funniest thing he had ever read… Please try to remember this when you encounter someone you don’t agree with that just keeps going on and on, without listening or respecting you (and you can’t escape!) Patience is a virtue.

Why You Like the Smell Of Your Own Farts

And finally, a scathingly, smug music critic’s view on the state of contemporary classical music (written in 2008). Classical music progresses at an excruciatingly slow pace. I’d like to think things are evolving now with interdisciplinary approaches but, OUCH! This guy definitely tells it like he sees it. Thank goodness for music in film and live concert series! :)

Smug, Bored, Classical Music Critic

Finally, this video made me HOWL. If only we could have conversations like this with those across the table. Highlights include Classical Kyle talking about Doja Cat’s vocal range (contralto), the awkwardness about the subject matter (butts), her metaphors, and her twerking to the last movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Omg. This is similar to the conversations I have with my husband about “normal” music… LOVE.

Doja Cat Explaining “Juicy” to Classical Music Expert Kyle Macdonald.

At 55:26 is the “Ode to Joy”. Even if you’ve heard it a million times, it’s still comforting to watch and listen when it’s sensitively performed. Check out the nuanced phrasing and

precise articulations. Beautifully clean!

Beethoven 9 - Chicago Symphony Orchestra - Riccardo Muti

Thank you for reading! I hope this made you giggle, smile, and oh goodness, laugh at the smell of your own farts. Here’s to how, sometimes, appearances can be deceiving. That conservative, quiet girl, who likes to be impeccably coiffed, dressed in silky fabrics and can converse about esoteric subjects and classical music? Yeah… she might make you howl with bawdy laughter while taking her tea in the afternoon and VICE VERSA. You might have more in common than you think. (See, Mom! I’m still ladylike and “cultured”! Lol!) Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful week! Xo, Melissa

Here's Doja Cat & Beethoven's Symphony No. 9. The "Ode to Joy" is the Fourth (the last) movement and the last track on the Spotify playlist. I added Beethoven's first three movements for you to put in the background in case you wanted to listen. I promise, it's his masterpiece, gorgeous and may help free your mind. Thanks for listening!

Green Goddess Hummus. Perfect for snacky night!

Green Goddess Hummus

I usually do something like this when I have “Happy Hour” with my daughter. It usually consists of something healthy and dippy along with my “drink,” usually a healthy smoothie in a margarita glass or a “shot” with a pressed juice drink. Happy Superbowl weekend! Here’s to maintaining fun!

Here’s the original link from Cookie and Kate. Btw, her lentil soup is AMAZING.


¼ cup tahini

¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon’s worth)

2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving

½ cup roughly chopped, loosely packed fresh parsley

¼ cup roughly chopped, loosely packed fresh tarragon or basil (I used what I had which was dill, parsley, chives and some cilantro.)

2 to 3 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh chives or green onion

1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped

½ teaspoon salt, more to taste

One (15-ounce) can of chickpeas, also called garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 to 2 tablespoons water, optional

Garnish with extra olive oil and a sprinkling of chopped fresh herbs


  1. Combine the tahini and lemon juice in the bowl of your food processor (a smaller food processor will be better suited to the job) or high-powered blender (i.e. Vitamix or Blendtec). Process for about 1 ½ minutes, pausing to scrape down the bowl of your processor as necessary.

  2. Add the olive oil, parsley, tarragon, chives, chopped garlic and salt to the whipped tahini and lemon juice mixture. Process for about 1 minute, pausing to scrape down the bowl as necessary.

  3. Add half of the chickpeas to the food processor and process for 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl, then add the remaining chickpeas and process for until the hummus is thick and quite smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes more.

  4. If your hummus is too thick or hasn’t yet blended into creamy oblivion, run the food processor while drizzling in 1 to 2 tablespoons water, until it reaches your desired consistency.

  5. Scrape the hummus into a small serving bowl. Drizzle about a tablespoon of olive oil on top and sprinkle with additional chopped herbs.

  6. Store hummus in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to one week.

Thanks for reading! I hope this made you laugh and forget your troubles for a little while! Have a wonderful week! Xo, Melissa

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