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The Pirate I’m Not Talking Like

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If you’re looking for an excuse to bellow, Avast, ye scurvy scum! [1] without having to suffer through a Comcast service call, this be your lucky day, matey.

You do know that September 19 is Talk Like a Pirate Day, aye?  Silly moiself to even ask – you probably plan your year around this event.

Are you sure it's talk like a pirate day?

You sure it’s talk like a pirate day?

For those of you unfamiliar with the holiday, I suggest visiting the TLAP site, for a thrilling historical overview of how two Oregonian buccaneer-wannabees came up with the idea, and how humorist Dave Barry had a hook hand in creating what, I see, now that I have checked the site, is now referred to as International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

It used to be just TLAP day.  I’m not sure what makes it International,[2] but that is neither here nor there tharrrrrrr. I have enjoyed the spirit behind this whimsical, happenstance-of-a-celebration for many years. I even have a pirate costume that has made more than one embarrass-your-offspring ®  appearance over the years.  (Hint: show up for the orthodontist appointment festively attired in your pirate gear – your child’s mouthful of pointy objects will quell their objections).

Even a brief search online will get you all kinds of TLAP silliness.  There are talk like a pirate apps, pirate name generators, suggestions for costumes, parties and other events, and talk-like-a-pirate translators. You can even change your Facebook language to Pirate. [3] You can find bad pirate jokes [4] and worse pirate jokes [5] and even existential pirate jokes, [6] and possibly the best pirate joke ever, if only because it doesn’t end with an Arrrrrrrrrrrrrr:

A pirate walks into bar and sits down. The bartender notices that he has a peg leg, a hook for a hand, and a patch over one eye. The pirate orders a beer, and while he’s pouring it the bartender asks “So what’s the story with the leg?”

“It were many a year ago,” says the pirate, “when I were on the deck a me ship and a rogue wave swept me overboard, and a shark swum up and bit me leg clean off! I swum ashore and were fitted fer a peg leg that very night.”

“That’s terrible,” says the bartender. “What about the hand?”

“Well it were the very next day,” says the pirate. “I were walkin on the deck a me ship and a rogue wave swept me overboard again, and a whale came up and bit me hand clean off! I swum ashore and were fitted fer a hook that very night.”

“Wow,” says the bartender. “So what about the eye?”

“Well it were the very next day,” says the pirate. “I were walkin on the deck a me ship, and I were lookin out fer rogue waves, and a seagull flew over and shit right in me eye!”

“Oh man,” says the bartender. “And that blinded you?”

“Well no,” says the pirate. “But it were me first day with the hook.”

Arrr

Or celebrate your ultimate geekiness with a shirt that acknowledges both and Pi day and Talk Like a Pirate Day.

pirate

 *   *   *

Department of Apropos of Nothing

If you ever happen to catch a glimpse of me when I’m doing my Nordic walking, [7] and you notice [8] that my stride suddenly changes – gets a bit more resolute and strutty, even badass, dare I say –you’ve caught me at that wonderful moment when whatever podcast I was listening to ended and I clicked to my music and The White Stripes’ Seven Nation Army began to play.

Of course, sometimes the next song in the queue is The Archies‘ one and only hit.  Livin’ on the edge, what can I say.

*   *   *

Thomas Wolfe was wrong:
You Can Go Home again
(as long as you bring your friends)

Belle telephoned on the 8th, to share some good news. She was quite proud that her Oregon Zoo connections still allowed her to get breaking animal news before the general public, and she knew a “secret” that wasn’t to be announced until the following day: one of the female lions, Kya, had given birth to four cubs.

"Mum's the word, Belle, or the hippo gets it."

“Mum’s the word, Belle, or the hippo gets it.”

Her call was also to share the news that next weekend she is coming home for a visit…long with seven college/dorm friends that apparently and collectively refer to themselves as The Family. Once I got over my kneejerk, Mafia-Charles Manson associations, [9] I was delighted to hear about the plans.

Belle and her college family are taking the train from Tacoma to Portland, then the light rail to our neck of the woods. They plan on staying at our house (“if it’s okay with you”) and returning to Tacoma Sunday morning.  Her “family” consists of roommate JS and six (yikes) other shiny happy young women and men, who, as I informed her, must

(1) not be allergic to cats, or afraid of snakes, and
(2) be comfortable sleeping on the floor
(3) there is no #3
(4) and cool about sharing 3 toilets and one functioning shower with 10 people

As per conditions (2) & (4), Belle snorted with duh-ness and said, “Mom, I live in a dorm.”

dormbath

*   *   *

Department of TMI

This week’s Golden Turd award goes to…well…me.

Thursday morning, while scooping the downstairs litter box,[10]  I noticed a deficiency of, shall I say, the usual volume of deposit. This made me fear that one of our cats, a certain one which is prone to do such things, had produced what MH and I – okay; mostly I – call “a runner; ” i.e., she had finished her job somewhere outside the box.  I made haste to the family room and began scanning the carpet (the usual runner place of asylum), with a look of determination that made MH to ask me what was up.

“Keep your eyes peeled for escapees,” I advised him.  “I just scooped the litter, and there was a disturbing lack of turd volume…. Oh, no.  No no no no.  Did you hear what I just said? Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d grow up to use terms like turd volume.”

turd trophy

*   *   *

Public Service Announcement, also Apropos of Nothing

But, still….

I am not a National Anthem kind of person, and can’t remember the last time I sang along to the USA’s whoop of praise.  There is no maniacal loathing involved; I’m just not keen on it.  I do loathe its mystifying and annoying (to me) use as an opener to sporting events, where it is mangled warbled by celebrities great and small. [11]

Unsolicited anthem singing advice: Yo, all of you Star Spangled vocalists who apparently feel the need to show off your chops by essentially ululating every other syllable – knock it off.  Or, to take a more charitable tack, I’ll grant that perhaps you’re fiddling with the arrangement as a way to compensate (I’ve heard many a Music Person say that it’s a difficult song to sing) for your inability to stay in tune and on key.

Whatever the reason, y’all know what I’m talking about:

Oh-wo-wo-wo say can you-U-uUUou SeEeEeE
Byyyyyyy the dawn’s early li-I-I-iii-i-iIte
What so prowwwwwwww-dly we hay-HAY-hay-Hay-elllll-d…

Please, I beg of you, just find the right note – one per syllable, it’s there in the sheet music – and hit it, okay?

Kids, don’t try this at home:

 *   *   *

Happy Talk Like A You-Know-What Day!  Have fun no matter if/how you celebrate, and if you’ve received any pirate party invitations, be sure to ARRRRRR. S. V. P.

…and the hijinks will ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] And who isn’t?

[2] Some dude in Canada says “Arrr” instead of “Eh?”

[3] In the account settings, go to language and select English (Pirate).

[4] What be a pirate’s favorite vegetable?  Arrrrtichokes.

[5] What is a pirate’s favorite fast food franchise?  Arrrrrrrrrrrby’s.

[6] How do pirates know they exist?  They think, therefore, they Arrrrrre.

[7] And if so, what are you, some kind of Nordic walking stalker?

[8] What else did you notice – that I tried to adjust my underwear without breaking step?  Keep it to yourself, ok?

[9] I’m from a different era; Belle had no idea what I was talking about, when I teased her about the references.

[10] Yes, there is also an upstairs litter box.  Two, in fact. Upstairs, Downstairs – we’re not talkin’ a Masterpiece Theatre arrangement: we have three indoor cats.

[11] I will stand when the announcement Please rise for the singing of our national anthem is made, as the request for standing means everyone is seated, and I take every opportunity to stand up when I’ve been sitting for more than five minutes.

The Questions I’m Not Answering

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҉     The Opening Rant   ҉    

I recently received the following correspondence, which caused me to invoke the smiting powers of the FSM before I got to the email’s second sentence.   Forthwith and in all due haste I forwarded the misbegotten missive to SCM, a fellow writer and kindred snarky misanthrope keen-eyed observer of the human condition, with whom often I commiserate about The State of Publishing.

darkstormynightjpg

Oh, yeah, the email:

 (name redacted)

Subject: author questions

 hi, my name is (name not capitalized), I recently became an author and found your name under a list of oregon  authors and i wanted to get in contact with someone to see if they could answer some questions of mine  I  completely understand if your  too busy, but if you could take a little time and possibly answer some questions that would be great.

 How  did you get published? Im  currently using createspace to publish my books.

 How  did you market your book? Did  you have a marketing team or did you self market and what did you do if you did?

 do    you have any tips you could give me for helping my book along.  currently  im  going to faires   and trying to sell them there, but im    open to pretty much anything to help my book along. its  already on amazon, and the createspace marketplace, but I  would love some help as to how to get it moving better into peoples  hands.

compshock

 

Oh, oh, oh, (name not capitalized). Where do I begin?

For one thing, take the time to learn the difference between your and you’re and plurals and possessive plurals – as well as what and when to capitalize (name not capitalized, you are no e e cummings) and how to spell and punctuate – before you plan on soliciting time and advice from a “fellow” author.

If such frank advice (which you solicited, remember) makes you confused or surprised or hurts your feelings in any way, not to worry.  After all, you have it together enough to have learned to use the apps from Amazon and createspace that allow you to claim, “I recently became an author.”

And yes, I am too busy to help you, although I do appreciate the email as a worthy addition to my Exhibit A collection illustrating why I do not want to mentor anyone who intends to self-publish….

*   *   *

Deep, cleansing breath, y’all. I did not say any of those things to (name not capitalized). I did not reply to the email. I could not do so and respect myself without being honest, and really, I’m not that cruel (read: helpful).

If for some reason (name not capitalized) stumbles across this blog posting, I will leave this one piece of advice: one of the most important things a person should to do to “become an author” [1] is to develop a thick yet permeable skin; that is, a hide that can stand up to and appreciate honest criticism and that is porous enough to let seep through a realistic assessment of your innate talents and willingness to learn a craft.

As devoted (or at least sober)  readers of this blog know, I have ooooooooooooooooooodels of complaints about the traditional publishing model and industry.  And yet.  Past and especially recent experience reinforces the need for gatekeepers.  Thanks to the rise of self-publishing services, not only are the barbarians at the gates, they are scaling the fences and crossing the moats, using copies of their young-adult-fantasy-steampunk-speculative-Fifty-Shades of Vampire-murder-mysteries as makeshift ladders and rafts.

Without gatekeepers the entire literary marketplace becomes one big slushpile, deluged by a monsoon of unaudited, unedited work .  Today, someone like (name not capitalized) can “become an author” and “publish” via a few strokes of a keyboard and an EFT to a publishing app vendor.

yourbookhere

 

I don’t care if I rarely showed up to practice, didn’t bother to learn the fundamentals of the game and sucked at defense – I was on the soccer team, my name is on the roster, and dadgummit, I’m going to get a trophy for participating.

When anyone who wants to do so can be a “published author,” where is the merit in being published?  If any (name redacted) can “publish” as long as (name redacted) has the funds to produce a paperback or e-book, having a book published isn’t any more noteworthy than downloading your story and illustrations to a thumb drive and having Office Depot’s Document Printing Services department  run off and bind some copies.

badauthor

*   *   *

҉   The Middle Section’s Short but Heartwarming Family Anecdote    ҉   

 The Upside of the Empty Chateau

What with K and Belle gone to college, MH and I get to feed Andy (ball python) and T’Pol (corn snake).  No grocery list is complete without a reminder to stop by the pet supplies store and stock up on small and medium-sized frozen feeder mice.

T'Pol relaxes at the day spa.

T’Pol relaxes at the day spa.

*   *   *

҉   The Brief Contemplation of a Contemporary Phenomenon    ҉   

 Both Sides Now [2]

sunnycloud

To be described as having your head in the clouds is, by and large, not a flattering assessment of one’s character. The phrase’s various idiomatic meanings include being out of touch, unrealistic, naive, impractical and inattentive. Thus, it strikes me as odd – and, okay, just a teense ominous – that we [3] have adopted The Cloud as an umbrella term to refer to Internet software and services, and that we increasingly entrust our documents and applications to this ethereal location.

Just thinkin.’

stormcloud

*   *   *

҉   The pun-not-intended Pet Peeve    ҉   

I use Nordic trekking poles during my morning walks, for a variety of reasons, and have discovered that, along with increasing the workout and simply giving your arms something to do, they have the unanticipated benefit of protection.  On more than one occasion I have used the poles to fend off an aggressively postured dog.

Yep, a 120 lb canine, ears laid close to head, eyes narrowed and challengingly fixed on mine, lips open and drawn back to expose teeth bared in a snarl, hackles raised and tail fluffed and extended straight out from body, approaches – and is off leash, of course – as its owner calls out to me, “It’s okay, he’s real friendly – DON’T MAKE ANY SUDDEN MOVES!”

You, of course, are not now and never will be this dog owner. [4]

*   *   *

      ҉   The Department of Apropos of Nothing    ҉   

Due to a precipitating incident I cannot now specifically recall, longtime friend JRC once gave me a year’s subscription to National Review .  This was during our sophomore or junior year in college, when JRC was attending UCLA and I, UC Davis.  During one of our periodic phone calls, wherein we chewed the fat about everything in general and nothing in particular and The Big Issues of Life, JRC, an intelligent, witty, creative guy [5]who held inexplicable/WTF [6] conservative political opinions, said he thought I needed to expand my news sources.  At the time I worked in UC Davis’ Periodicals room and regularly read a variety of news journals – certainly more than JRC, I taunted him – including the Wall Street Journal.  But that wasn’t enough for JRC, who said he thought I’d appreciate William F. Buckley’s wit and way with language. I retaliated repaid JRC’s generosity by gifting him with a subscription to Mother Jones Magazine.

As far as I know, JRC received a year’s worth of Mother Jones issues.  I read each National Review that came to me, and although it would have cost me nothing to continue to receive them, I cancelled the subscription after six or seven months.  I tried, I really tried….

It wasn’t the magazine’s conservative slant that bothered me – for crying out loud in a Ronald Reagan film festival, I was born and raised in Orange County – it was the overt, obnoxious, patronizing, dripping with disdain, East Coast chauvinism.  The magazine’s writers oozed a snide, barely disguised contempt when addressing anything having to do with the West Coast.  I felt complicit even reading it.

 

"I won't insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe that scientists have discovered culture west of Boston."

“I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe that scientists have discovered culture west of Boston.”

I am still in touch with JRC, who holds the dubious distinction being the person, other than my siblings, with whom I’ve had the longest peer-type association.  From grade two through high school we shared at least one class.  Imagine all the embarrassing things we might be able to recall about one another, were we not now so decrepit we can only remember the good stuff…right? [7]

*   *   *

      ҉   The Amusing Send-off    ҉  

Friend JWW presented me with a gift when she came to Sunday dinner. Mere words cannot descript my utter bewilderment joy when I beheld the…object; this, pictures will have to do.

JWW said that this gift was to help me with that pesky Empty Nest thing.  I thanked her for the addition to my Rubber Chicken crew. She said it wasn’t just another rubber chicken, and told me to squeeze it.  So, I did, and the chicken laid an egg…sort of.

Yes, I took a video of a rubber chicken’s hinterland. Before you judge me too harshly, remember that you just voluntarily watched a video of a rubber chicken’s hinterland.

*  *  *

On the subject of judging someone, harshly or otherwise, let us all remember the timeworn admonition, an aphorism that uses Shiny Happy treacle to mask a morsel of inadvertently wiseass advice:

Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.

Go ahead, put on the shoes, and then pass judgment.  If the man gets pissed off, well, you’re a mile away and you’ve got his shoes.

angrybarefoot

*   *   *

 

May your footwear of choice give you comfort over the miles to come, and may the judgment-free hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] That is, assuming the magical snap of a finger “There, you’re an author!” is intended to last for more than one book fair weekend.

[2] Three cheers and a big yellow taxi ride for those who get the Joni Mitchell reference.

[3] “we’ as in They, and perhaps you, but not me.

[4] And if you were I’d slap you upside the head with my trekking poles.

[5] And awesome blues guitarist.

[6] IMHO, considering JRC’s family’s impoverished circumstances and resultant need for the much-decried-by-conservatives, social welfare services.

[7] BTW, JRC, I never told your mother that you lied to her about how you broke your leg after you fell while swinging from a tree (which she’d forbidden you to do), although I think you ‘fessed up to her yourself after she didn’t fall for your story about tripping over a bbq grill cover .

The Age I’m Not Guessing

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Toto, I Have a Feeling We’re Not Twenty-Six Anymore

Although I vary the routes for my morning walks, more often than not I include a few laps around the tree-lined paths of a local park.  I see other “regulars” there – mostly dog walkers – with whom I’ve developed the nodding, I recognize you, acquaintance.

One of the Regular Park Walkers ® is a woman with big (as in thick), almost waist-length, curly, fading-red hair. Big Red’s hands are always busy: one pushes a stroller occupied by a vivid-red haired baby boy, and the other clutches the leash of what looks to be a Bernese Mountain dog.

Wednesday morning I saw Big Red at the park.  She’d stopped on a path ~ 50 feet ahead of me to adjust the baby’s blanket; I slowed my pace as I approached.  We exchanged good morning’ s, and I made a comment about her son’s adorable smile.

Grand-son,” she corrected me.  Her tone, furrowed brow and gawking eyes – it was as if she’d reacted to a non sequitur I’d made about her triplet chicken sweaters.

chicken sweaters

I generally refrain from guessing people’s ages, for several reasons.  One reason involves me doing my bit to raise consciousness re the pernicious effects of ageism. As part of this noble cause, I generally try to deflect or “reroute” that rare [1] comment-meant-to-be-a-compliment “Oh, but you don’t look ____ (whatever age you in fact are)” when it’s been flung my way after someone has guessed young about my age and I’ve corrected them.  Another reason is simply because I’ve never been good at it.

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, unless a person had drastic facial, verbal or postural indicators of either youthfulness or decrepitude, I thought everybody was more or less twenty-six.  When I myself was twenty-six, I was more or less correct about the ages of most of my peers, neighbors and co-workers.  It took many, many years, but someone [2] finally gave me the equivalent of a verbal face palm – How can you be so dense? He’s obviously twice/half as old as that! – and called me on my deficient age-estimating ability.

So. Yeah. Live and Learn. Nobody is twenty-six, anymore.  We’re all hovering around forty-four, aren’t we?

"We love being twenty-six!"

“We love being twenty-six!”

"So do we!"

“So do we!”

*   *   *

Department of They Meant Well

For the past few years hundreds of people [3] hoping for better economic and social opportunities make a dangerous crossing of Mediterranean, from spots along the North African coast, trying to enter Europe by boat.  Some of these boats capsize, and some of the migrants drown.

Last week I heard a BBC News radio story about one “side effect” of the sad situation.  The story concerned a wealthy couple who, while on a Mediterranean yacht cruise, became aware of the boat migrants’ situation and decided to get involved.  Their involvement has taken the form of spending over two million euros to purchase a yacht, outfit it with two dinghies and state of the art surveillance drones, and hire a crew which will patrol the seas near Malta (a common migrant destination), looking for boats in distress: 

When the ship comes across a migrant boat in international waters, the crew will contact the nearest authorities….. While they wait for instructions, they will use the dinghies to approach the boats, pass over food, water and lifejackets and offer medical assistance….. in case the boat is taking water or the number of the people [on board] is higher than should be, [the crew] will communicate that to the authorities and we will do what needs to be done. “If we need to take people on board we can, until Malta or Italy come to take them, and disembark them on land.”

This is one of those stories that make me feel good for a moment, until the wait a minute…. sets in.  Yep, I’ll be the curmudgeon who points out that short term acts of “heroism” often do nothing to alleviate long term misery and may even, unintentionally, contribute to the latter.

The Wealthy Yacht Philanthropists get the immediate satisfaction of assisting hungry and thirsty boat people – along with the irrational appreciation of alleged divine approval that only a misguided zealot would treasure feel-good-glow that comes from having a priest tell them they are on a “mission from God” [4] and present them with just what every boat rescue team needs,  “…a small bottle of holy water from Lourdes and a golden crucifix.”

"This should come in handy to anchor a child-sized lifejacket."

“This should come in handy to anchor a child-sized lifejacket.”

Meanwhile, the WYP inadvertently produce the possible (read: highly likely) side effect of encouraging more desperate people to make the hazardous journey (No worries, we hear someone with a big boat will rescue us and even drop us off where we want to go!).

How much better, IMHO, would WYP’s money, effort and influence be spent, were it to be invested in solutions to the economic, social and cultural problems that impel people to flee their homelands in their first place.  Pulling a few people out of the water and waiting for the next boatload to fall in – it’s like putting a finger cot on a wrist amputation.

*   *   *

Speaking of the dangers of the Mediterranean, here’s something you will never hear me say when I talk about my recipe for Mokh: [5]

“So now I do as Moroccan cooks do, and I think my brain salad dishes are better for it.”  [6]

Now Not Appearing in My Kitchen.

Now Not Appearing in My Kitchen.

*   *   *

Now Appearing in My Kitchen:

Cucumber avocado soup; quinoa, chevre, black bean, scallion and cilantro stuffed sweet red peppers.

YUM

Tasty distractions for getting used to having only two of us at the dinner table.

*   *   *

Empty Nest Chateau Report

My prudent admonition to my fledglings about dorm life – don’t expect or (even want) your dorm roommate to be a best friend; consider it gravy if you like your roommate or at least find him/her tolerable – is on the record.

Belle’s never been one for gravy.

K’s freshman dorm situation was benignly ideal: he and his roommate were considerate occupiers of the same space and socialized occasionally, but it went no further than that. They parted amicably at the end of the year; the roommate transferred to another college.

Belle adores her roommate, JFS.  Just loves her.  And (so far), so do we.  I know, it’s only been two weeks, but they are so cute together.

CUTEs

Really, almost this cute.

We met JFS’s family (parents and younger sister) on Friday of Orientation week.  I liked them immediately.  The UPS Orientation week organizers suggest that parents take their freshman offspring out to dinner on Saturday, and then, essentially, get lost go home and let the students dive into Orientation week activities.  Since Belle & JFS seemed to be getting on so well we asked Belle to pass along our suggestion that both families do the Saturday dinner together.

I felt comfortable enough around Belle’s roommate’s family to confess, during our mahhhhhhhvelous dinner at the Europa Bistro in the Proctor district of Tacoma, that I hoped Belle’s & JFS’s mutual admiration society wasn’t just part of the honeymoon stage and that soon they’d be fighting like siblings.  I shared that hope when JFS’s mother said that her daughter had been talking nonstop about how much she liked Belle.  I in turn told her that Belle had praised JFS to MH and I.

Belle and JFS stayed for a little over an hour at the bistro, then left to go back to some dorm social activity.  JFS’s parents, sister, MH and I stayed for almost another two hours, getting to know one another and sharing stories.

 

creme

The bistro was crowded with UPS families and service was a bit leisurely, [7] but we were having such a pleasant evening we really didn’t notice or mind.  We finished dinner, hadn’t ordered yet dessert, and out of the blue our waiter set two gorgeous ramekins of crème brûlée on our table.  He gave us the compliments of the chef and apologized for making “such nice people wait so long.”

JFS’s parents and sister exchanged mirthful looks and laughter.  JFS’s father explained to MH and I that crème brûlée is JFS’s favorite dessert, and oooh, just wait until she finds out what she missed by cutting out on the old folks!  Why wait? said moiself  At my urging, JFS’s father took a picture of the crème brûlées and texted the photo to her with a brief message about what she was missing.  He guffawed at his daughter’s one word reply, and hesitated only a moment before he showed the text to MH and me:

 

FUCK

 

This is a good match, I said to myself. Everything is going to be okay.

 

roommates

*   *   *

May your matches be picture perfect, your crème brûlées complimentary, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Well, rare for me.

[2] I cannot recall the name of the person who enlightened me, but whoever you are, I’m sure you look fabulous…for your age.

[3] An estimated 1600 people in 2013.

[4] A god who apparently can’t be bothered to help the migrants walk on water, or do whatever he might do to alleviate their situation.

[5] And this is because I am never going to make Mokh.

[6] Spiced Brain Salad with Preserved lemons. From Paula Wolfert’s The Food of Morocco.

[7] Or, as I like to say, European.

The Nest I’m Not Emptying

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It started early this summer. Subtle hints dropped, direct and dire predictions [1] flung (“Those were the best times of your life, when your kids were at home; oh, you’ll look back on those days and wish….”), and everything in between….

I’d tried not to give it an inordinate amount of brain wattage, but people kept bringing it up.

Yep, son K is back to college for his senior year, and daughter Belle begins her first.  On the drive back home to Hillsboro, after we’d taken Belle to her UPS freshman orientation, I said to MH, “It’s not like we just dropped her off for summer camp, is it?”

 Anyone know what this is?

Anyone know what this is?

The She Meant Well  [2] award re this situation goes to my maternal unit, as per our Tuesday phone conversation.  We talked about MH and I taking Belle up to college for freshman orientation last week, and how K would be returning to Tacoma this week.  My mother asked me if I was going to miss my offspring.  I said something like oh yeah, big time, already, even though K is still at home (he caught the train to Tacoma on Wednesday).

 “I find it interesting [3] that you think you’ll miss them” she said.

 “Uh…really? Why?” moiself responded. “I like them.”

 “Well, you always seem to have so much else going on in your mind…”

Oh.  Yeah, right. It’s not like I’ll even notice that, for the first time in over 21 years, my two groovy and much-loved children are not around.

What does she think I am, a honey badger?

Honey badger

 honey badger don’t care.

*   *   *

MH has a sabbatical coming up, and we will be doing some traveling. Good timing, I think (hope). What with Belle & K both in college, the Dueling Banjoes of our elderly parents’ health crises [4], and my professional mid-life crisis, I find myself…unable to even pin down what I’m feeling. Floating, for lack of a better word.

Wise compassionate counsel from wise, compassionate friend SCM:

One of my Oregon Attorney Assistance Program newsletters talked about transitions—good or bad, they will always leave you feeling uneasy, and to give yourself time to get used to them, and to be forgiving of yourself if you feel badly (even for good changes).  You’re transitioning with writing (or making some decisions about where to go next) and transitioning with parenting children to parenting adults. Those are both big life changes.

*   *   *

BFAST PLATES

These are the breakfast plates I purchased for K and Belle, a long long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.  One section for scrambled eggs and/or my special recipe whole wheat vanilla soymilk tofu (!)  [5] pancakes, the other for fruit (bananas, seasonal berries, kiwi… they both loved kiwi).

Don’t worry about me, I’m doing fine.  Just staring at empty plates. [6]

*   *   *

Something else on the plate.

C’mon out tomorrow to the Downtown Hillsboro Saturday Farmer’s Market.  Hillsboro’s seasonal open-air market is celebrating its 32nd year of operation, and features over 100 vendors and their fresh local produce food and garden products, flowers, baked goods, arts and crafts, live music, and more.

As for the more: wipe the fresh blackberry (mmm, yummers) stains off your fingers and stop by Jacobsen’s books for their summer author signing series, which is held during market hours.  This Saturday yours truly will be at Jacobsen’s, with The Mighty Quinn. I’ll be there from 9a – 1p, except for when I’m slipping out to one of the produce booths to sample some of the gorgeous fresh fruit, or drooling over the Pie Guy‘s wares.

The market is held on Main Street between 1st and 3rd.  Jacobsen’s Books is at 211 E. Main, on the north side of the street.

Be there, or …

SQUARE

*   *   *

 When I learn something new – and it happens every day – I feel a little more at home in this universe, a little more comfortable in the nest.
Bill Moyers

May you feel a little more comfortable in your nest – or fledge quickly and crap all over the nest next door, whatever floats your boat – and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

[1] Mostly from my mother, with the implication that it’s all downhill after this.

[2] “Thank god kids never mean well.” – Lily Tomlin.

[3] The dictionary definition of interesting – “engaging or exciting and holding the attention or curiosity” – is not how my mother typically employs that word.  When she uses it, it is more along the lines of the apocryphal Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”

[4] my SoCal mom has a myriad of physical and mental health problems; MH’s Floridian father is battling the progressive physical and cognitive deterioration of Parkinson’s Disease .

[5] One of those stealth-health things…and they loved them.

[6] It’s time for a lighter footnote. Pretend you’ve just read an outrageously funny fart joke.

The Petard I’m Not Hoisting

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This week’s Sunday haiku to my mother.

Morning is sunny;
another sweltering day
is in the forecast.

 Belle has her zoo shift,
and a friend’s birthday party
in her day’s schedule.

There’s packing to do,
for Orientation week
The countdown begins.

She is quite eager,
and at the same time, fearful
of what awaits her.

The future is calling
her heart and mind, as we watch
with proud, trembling hearts.

 

Sadie art

 *   *   *

During one recent Sunday Dinner With Friends ® the conversational topic veered to the health issues of aging parents. [1] When I shared my concerns over my elderly mother’s ongoing physical and cognitive decline, friend MW recommended the book Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s. Subtitled A Groundbreaking Approach for Everyone Dealing with the Disease, the book’s focus is not on the causes/origins of Alzheimer’s. Instead, author [2] Joanne Koenig Coste presents a practical approach – a comprehensive method called habilitation – to help family and caregivers enhance communication with those beset by a disease that progressively robs them of their ability to understand and be understood. The book offers practical tips on how to “step into their world” – interestingly, also a mantra of by improvisational theater groups [3] – as in, how to understand and relate to those patients who must live with their changing, diminishing sense of reality.

OLDHANDS

Although my mother does not have Alzheimer’s disease, my friend pointed out that my description of my mother’s difficulties are similar to those experienced by Alzheimer’s patients:

 * Short (or long) term memory loss
* Difficulty performing familiar tasks
* Problems with language
* Disorientation to time and place
* Poor or declining judgment
* Problems with abstract thinking
* misplacing things
* mood and behavior changes
* loss of initiative
* personality changes

I don’t need to scare you with the statistics, but sooner or later most of us are going to be dealing with some form of dementia, whether via a spouse or family member’s diagnosis, or just losing it after one too many Comcast customer service calls.

I was glad MW recommended the book. Moiself in turn passes on that recommendation to y’all.  I found the book’s advice compassionate, accessible, applicable – even somewhat Zen, in that it stresses learning to live in the moment and trying to understand the afflicted person’s reality.

 The Ticking Meter

My head feels like an old depot, worn by time and tears.
 No more locomotives passing through, café filled with tales and baggage.
 The old depot’s barren now.
 There has been a great brain robbery.
[4]

ALZ

*   *   *

The dementia train could stop at my depot; who knows what the future holds?  Until that time, I will stick with my philosophy:  the more you rant, the longer you live. [5]

Speaking of which:

 Department of Needs No Further Comment

Last week, Jorge Mario Bergoglio aka Pope Francis, leader of the largest Christian denomination in the world, whose headquarters in the Vatican City is a “sprawling financial empire” that holds billions of shares in the most powerful international corporations such as Gulf Oil, Shell, General Motors, Bethlehem Steel, General Electric, International Business Machines, and whose various museums house art collections of inestimable value,  embarked on his first tour of Asian countries, during which he urged Asian youth to reject materialism.

VATICAN GOLD

 *   *   *

To Hoist or not to Hoist

He was hoisted on his own petard.

I heard someone on the light rail use that Hamlet-ian expression last week. He was sitting behind me on the train; I only caught bits and pieces of his (you guessed it) cell phone conversation, so I’m not sure if he used the phrase correctly.

But, really – does  anyone use it correctly?  Even Shakespeare, who supposedly invented its modern usage?

I’m not sure if I’ve ever been hoisted on or by my own petard.  It is, however, my dream to be hosted by Jean Luc Picard.

Please, do come in and join me for tea. Earl Grey, hot?

Please, do come in and join me for tea. Earl Grey, hot?

*   *   *

Happy (one-day-belated) Birthday to MH

A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away (Palo Alto), with Christmas kitty, Sheena.

A long long time ago in a galaxy far far away (Palo Alto), with Christmas kitty, Sheena.

The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been.
Madeleine L’Engle

 *   *   *

May you keep all the ages you’ve been that you’d like to keep, hoist off the rest on the petards of your choice, and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] After the requisite political rants and fart jokes.

[2] and health  care sonsultant, whose  husband died from early-onset Alzheimer’s.

[3] For teaching budding actors and comedians how to enter a skit someone else has started.

[4] From Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s.

[5] Or it just seems longer, to everyone around you.

The Ides I’m Not Bewaring

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Beware the Ideas of August.

That was an honest typo.  I’d intended it to read, Beware the Ides of August.  My Train O’ Thought ® was knocked off its track…hmmm…might as well hop on the next one.

What are, for me, the ideas of August?  There is one, and it keeps repeating itself:

 MANZd

*   *   *

What’s for dinner, you ask?

Why, it’s bibimbap, you lucky diners, you.

Wouldn’t you opt for something called bibimbap?  Even if you could choose from:

☼  Cedar planked grilled Chinook salmon with huckleberry sauce
☼ San Francisco cioppino seafood stew
☼ Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi
☼  Lemon garlic roasted whole Dungeness crab

The next time I make cedar planked salmon I’ll say it’s bibimbap.  It won’t actually be bibimbap, of course.  Nomenclature, schmomenclature – I call the right of nouvelle-fusion cuisine, which means I can give it whatever appellation I want.

Here’s what bibimbap (bee- beem- bahp) actually is, when it is not doing a cedar planked salmon imitation.  Bibimbap means “mixed rice” in Korean.  Bibimbap is a classic Korean dish, and there are as many bibimbap variations as there are Kim Jong Il [1] and Kim Jong Un jokes.

KIM

The dolsto bibimbap variation uses cooked rice, crisped in sesame or other oil in a heavy-bottomed pan in the oven or on the stove, as a base for a variety of toppings: steamed or roasted vegetables, plus tofu (plain or steamed or sautéed) and/or a meat or seafood item or fried eggs.  Veggies are arranged so that adjacent colors are complementary…or in whatever pattern that suits the cook’s mood…to form a visually pleasing presentation.

bibimbap

 

All ingredients are mixed together just before doling out the individual servings.  Or, everyone can sing a chorus of “We Are the World” and eat from the same pot.

On second thought, skip the singing part.

It’s summertime, and bibimbap seems like the perfect dinner dish to incorporate the abundance of fresh veggies we’re getting from La Finquita del Bujo, our CSA.  Besides, I like saying bibimbap.  I like thinking it, too (bibimbap!).

Family and future dinner guests, you have been warned.

*   *   *

dream

Calling the Dream Interpretation Squad

Dream dateline: my high school reunion dinner.  I was seated at a table with three former classmates, with whom I’d had a passing knowledge/acquaintance-type relationship (i.e., I didn’t know them well at all, and vicey-versace).

I had been receiving treatment for cancer of some kind, and had shaved my head before the reunion, as I didn’t want to be shedding hair into our bibimbap  lovely reunion dinner.

reunion

 

The electric razor I’d used was defective; thus, I did a really crappy shave job, especially near the nape of my neck, which was covered with blotches of hair.  I explained the reasons behind my unique grooming to my tablemates, and was unnerved by their reactions.  They seemed (1) very happy to see me, (2) very happy to hear that I had cancer, (3) even happier that my scalp looked like it was the  don’t try this at home warning photo for a depilatory fail.

 

Like this, only much, much worse.

Like this, only much, much worse.

*   *   *

Excuse me.

It’s like a nervous tic.

BBB2

bibimbap!

*   *   *

In last week’s post I mentioned my morning walk/listen to podcast routine. These walks sometimes put me into a contemplative or ruminative state of mind – I find myself chewing the mental cud, so to speak.

 

Ego ruminant, ergo sum [2]

Ego ruminant, ergo sum [2]

One day last week I was listening to a Freakonomics podcast which wandered around the topic of whether tithing to one’s church makes the tithers happy. This particular topic had sprung from a question submitted to Freakonomics by a listener, “J. ”  On the show’s website, the Freakonomics hosts described their treatment of the topic:

J is in effect asking two questions, related but separate. One is whether giving away money – in this case, to a religious institution – makes you happier. The other is whether religion itself makes you happier. Neither question is easy to answer, but we’ll do our best.

Excuse my momentary digression of a critical nature: that particular Freakonomics show did a piss-poor job of “answering” either question, IMHO.  Yo, Freak dudes – don’t go throwing around a self-descriptive like “best” with regards to that show.

Anyway…distracted as I was by the Freaks wandering around the topic, I began to wander around it moiself.  Here is a bit of  my meandering, on that Marianas Trench of a topic: what religious institutions are and what people “get” out of them.

Churches are bibimbap.

BBB3

 

DAMN !!!  This has got to stop.

Churches are habituaries. [3]  As in, churches are places wherein one becomes habituated to churchy ideas. Churches are places where one becomes habituated – wherein one adapts to and even becomes comfortable with – intellectual and communal ignorance.

Beliefs which you’d consider absurd at face value [4]  (and do consider absurd, if they are coming from a different habituary [5] )  or if you encountered them in any other venue – it is your church’s job to make you get used to them…so used to them, you often forget they are even there.  You sing the songs, repeat the liturgies, without thinking about what you are saying and without considering, is this plausible?  Is it true? And, if your church is successful at this most important of churchy tasks, you accept what is taught or said within the church without applying the kind of reasoning you would to any other statements that purport to explain reality.

Whether or not you take your religion’s teachings, rites and practices “literally,” your church (temple/mosque/ashram/Celebrity Center/Chrystal Vibration Shakra Retreat Lodge) is a place where you become inured to recitation of falsehoods about, and absurd explanations for, the natural world.

I think this is especially true for habituaries filled with liberal and/or nominal believers, [6] many of whom join a church so that their children may attend the church’s private school (e.g., if the local public schools have a bad rep), and/or because they want some kind of churchy experience so their children can be “exposed to religion,” and/or because they enjoy the social club aspect of church attendance (churchy term: fellowship).  These parishioners aren’t primarily church-going for the theology; thus, they tend not to pay much attention to it, past mouthing or acknowledging certain religiously correct platitudes (“god is love; we are all god’s children.”).

And churches and the people inside of them can get away with this, because religious teachings, rites and theologies are protected by a bizarre kind of social and political immunity – under the umbrella of “religious faith” –  from having to offer rational, objective proof  [7]  (“here are the reasons we do/believe this”) for their beliefs and proclamations.

Of course, many folks eventually figure out that it’s all a bucket o’ hoo-haw, but continue to show up for the potlucks.

 

 "Not another fucking egg salad casseroles, Jimmy-Joe - they promised there'd be a crapload of bibimbap!"

“Another fucking egg salad casserole – they promised there’d be bibimbap!”

*   *   *

May your weekend be habituary-free and ideas-laden, and may the bibimbap  hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] Good news: Kim’s dead. Bad news: it’s not one of the Kardashians.

[2] I chew, therefore I am. All due apologies – me pardoner,  M. Descartes.

[3] Yes, I’m inventing that word, but necessity being mothers and all, it needs to exist.

[4] Christian habituary: all-powerful sky god sends his unborn son on a suicide mission to Earth, via impregnating a human female in some supernatural way, and Earth female births a baby who is both Sky God’s kid and Sky God himself, and Sky God junior is born on Earth ordained to be killed (even though he is Sky God, and therefore immortal)….

[5] Mormon habituary: Joseph Smith found golden plates containing divine revelation written in a strange language, which Smith translated by placing a seer stone in his hat and looking through his hat, at the plates; Muslim habituary: Muhammed ascended into heaven on some kind of mule or donkey-like creature, where he and other prophets chatted about prayer rituals; Scientology habituary: Zenu, dictator of the Galactic Confederacy, brought billions of his people to Earth 75 million years ago, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them with H- bombs, which caused the immortal spirits of those aliens to stick to present-day humans and cause mental and physical harm ( even going so far as to force them to watch Battlefield Earth).

[6] Fundies, is a whole ‘nother kettle of fish.

[7] “Because our magic/holy book sez so” is not proof.

The Generation I’m Not Talkin’ ’bout

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The PG (Parental Guidance) Post 

CHARD

Dateline: Monday evening, doing my own sous chef preparation before sautéing shallots and Swiss chard.  As I strip the ruby red chard leaves from their stalks, I remember how much my father loved Swiss chard.

*   *   *

 Band of Memories

 Chester Bryan Parnell, "These are the good times," 8-8-1924 to 2-11 -09

Chester Bryan Parnell, “These are the good times,” 8-8-1924 to 2-11-2009

I think of my father every day, and mention him often (an easy thing to do, as he was a special character), in part to keep his memory alive for K and Belle.  But when my family sees that I’ve brought out the Band of Brothers DVD box set, they know something extra is in the air.

Today would have been Chester “Chet-the-Jet” Parnell’s 90th birthday.  It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around that number.  I’ll let my heart do the binding.

Martin

When Chet wanted to relax he would haul out his old Martin guitar. He loved to serenade his kids.  Beautiful, Beautiful Brown Eyes, a traditional country tune covered by singers from Roy Acuff to Rosemary Clooney, was one of the songs Chet used to sing to me at night.

 *   *   *

 My mother is frail;
“I am winding down,” she says.
She is eighty-six.

Widowed five years now;
Her eldest child lives nearby.
I am second-born.

My two other sibs
Live in the Bay Area;
Mom is in So Cal.

SOCAL

Mom loathed to travel,
even when she was healthy.
And, now she cannot.

Twenty-three years plus
I’ve lived one thousand miles north
with my family.

Mom doesn’t do much;
there’s little to talk about.
Calls can be awkward

She always refused
to learn to use computers.
Her children conspired

We got a gadget:
“technically un-inclined”
is its user base.

TECHNO

A “one-way device,”
it receives and prints email
From select sources.

Pro: she gets no spam;
Con: she gets but can’t send mail
(which is fine by her).

I send her brief notes -
a small something for the day
In her morning mail

Mondays are for jokes.
Who wouldn’t like a giggle
To begin the week?

CAMEL

Tuesdays I phone her.
Her moods and health are falling.
Tuesdays make me sad.

Each Wednesday I send
a Word of the Day feature.
(I choose cheerful words).

Thoughts For the Day
from minds famous and obscure,
are Thursday’s items.

Fridays are for Quotes:
adages and citations
to spark mind and heart.

Saturday, poems:
I send different verse styles,
From Browning to Lear.

Every Sunday
I send my mother haiku,
Two verses, or more.

I write them moiself;
thus, they are not quote-worthy.
Silly, but heartfelt.

POETRY

*   *   *

 A Brief Meditation on Ways to Fail Your Children

Is that a buzz kill subject heading, or what?  If you’re looking for the feel-good post of the week, I suggest returning to the picture of the Swiss chard and using it for a gratitude meditation focal point.

I’m thinking about the many ways my father and mother succeeded, as parents…also, about those ways in which they, and parents in general, failed.

This digression is courtesy of one of my recent morning walk podcast sessions.[1] I was listening to the Freethought Radio interview with the president of a N.O.W. chapter, re activism resulting from the SCOTUS [2] Hobby Lobby decision. This topic was antithetical to the purpose of my morning walks, which are supposed to be somewhat meditative as well as invigorating.  The former purpose took a back seat to ruminative rage as I considered the seemingly unending, fact-free, conservative political and social balloon juice about a woman’s right to right to personal jurisdiction, and other issues that should have been settled so, so, long ago….

And I find myself thinking,

We failed.

We, as in, talkin’ ’bout my generation.

We have failed in so many ways, including imagination.

Thirty years ago, I couldn’t imagine we’d be fighting the same fights. [3]  Sure, a few dinosaur fossils would remain, but I’d hoped that the battle for equality and against sexism and misogyny (at least, in this country) would be history, as in, my son and daughter would learn about it the same way they learned about women’s suffrage (There was a time when women couldn’t vote?!  And it was less than one hundred years ago?!)

I realize that historical milestones are almost never confined to a single day or week…or even era. The campaign for women’s suffrage was not waged and won on August 18, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified.  Nor was the amendment a one-time antidote to the festering, cyclic, boil-on-the-ass-of-human rights that is the tendency for groups of people to oppress those they view as The Other.

 

suffrage

*   *   *

Power shared = power diminished.

According to one Wise Old White Guy © I had the pleasure of knowing, [4] there is a widely held but false axiom behind bigotry and discrimination. That was the gist of what he tried to explain, one day in our Tuesday morning book group of yore. The group stumbled onto the continuing struggle for civil and women’s rights vis-à-vis religious institutions – a provocative topic for anyone who hasn’t downed their first cup of coffee by 7 am.  I brought up what I saw as the ultimate butt-frosting, teeth-grinding, bloomer-bunching irony: in order to acquire the rights and opportunities that you, say, a woman or African-American, are denied, you have to convince a majority of those in power – the very people who have been denying you those rights – to grant them. [5]

This prompted WOWG to share his “unfortunate observation” regarding human nature:

Few people anywhere have ever easily agreed to share power.

I knew what WOWG meant, but asked him to elaborate.  What follows is my (paraphrased) recollection of his simple but profound Walter Cronkite-ism [6] :

 Power shared = power diminished – this is what people in power believe. But power does not diminish when shared, it multiplies.  Small, stingy, fearful minds don’t understand that – they think power is finite, or is in limited supply, and therefore sharing power with you means there is less of it for them.  This is especially true for those who are (or who see themselves as being) on the lower rungs of the power and status ladders; e.g., some of the fiercest, most vicious criticism of the civil rights movement came from poor white southern men.

He ended with: We failed. Our generation didn’t fix that. Maybe it can’t be fixed; but now, it’s your turn.

 *   *   *

And now, a segue to make us all feel better.

I Am A Bad Person
#359 is a never-ending series

Making travel arrangements for an upcoming family wedding, my brain did that thing it does, and conjured up a memory from a friend’s wedding, several years ago.  I was talking to a teenager at the wedding reception. When I asked her about the rather sour look on her face, she complained to me about how “old people at weddings always poke me in the ribs and say, ‘You’re next!’ “

I told her she could get revenge by saying the same to them at funerals.

 

"I'm sure she meant, next in line for the buffet."

“I’m sure she means, next in line for the buffet.”

*   *   *

Spam subject line of the week:
IF  YOU  DON’T  READ  THIS  NOW  YOU’LL  HATE  YOURSELF  LATER !!!

I didn’t read it “now” (or at all).

It is later.

I don’t hate myself.

Ergo, it must be my turn for an all-caps-three-exclam-attack:


VICTORY IS MINE !!!

Mmmmmwwwwahahahahahaha !!!

Mmmmmwwwwahahahahahaha !!!

*   *   *

 

 

May you always be next in line for life’s buffet, and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

 

[1] During my morning walks I listen to podcasts of some of my favorite radio shows, including Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, Freakonomics, RadioLab, This American Life, TED Talks, Fresh Air, and Freethought Radio.

[2] Which, yes, oft times seems as if it should be the acronym for Sexist Codgers (and not Supreme Court) of the United States.

[3] Only with different, and often troll-enabling – technologies.

[4] WOWG lost a brief but fierce battle with leukemia ~ 10 years ago.

[5] I remember, a long long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, trying to explain to my kids, who were dealing with fledgling democracy concepts in school, how women couldn’t vote to give themselves the vote.

[6] “And that’s the way it is.”

[7] Wait a minute…there is no seventh footnote.

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