The Military I’m Not Saluting

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And They Said The Honeymoon Wouldn’t Last

I sliced the steaming, freshly roasted squash down the middle, and sighed. “I love the aroma of roasted Delicata squash.” I waved a piece of squash under MH’s nose, and bid him to inhale.  “I just want you to know that.”

This is good to know, MH replied. He assured me that, upon my death, a Delicata squash would be cremated alongside my body.



*   *   *

The Verisimilitudinous Vermin of Autumn

I kick through the foliage detritus at least once a day, during my morning walk. Still, I never tire of the splendor of the Fall colors, which have a way of elevating and beautifying everything they surround…including, as I discovered ~ seven in the morning last Monday, the parking lot of a nearby athletic field. A brief portion of the otherwise mundane asphalt surface was transformed, however ephemerally, into Nature’s abstract palate, when I espied the desiccated, flattened carcass of a rat adorned by nature’s seasonal garland.



*   *   *

Belated Veterans Day Thoughts and Wishes


Thank you for your service.
(A phrase employed far too often, IMHO, by civilians, directed to military personnel)

I have come to despise that trope of alleged appreciation, even though I’ve no doubt it is used sincerely by many who wish to thank our brave men and women in uniform [1] for doing…well…what the rest of us would rather not spend much time thinking about.

It’s just too easy…it is too sanitized and safe. Thank you for your service – it’s as effective as, I’ll pray for you. It gives the spouter of the phrase the feel-good illusion of action, when in fact you’ve done nothing concrete.

You want to thank soldiers for their service? Lobby or work to insure veteran’s benefit reforms and to get our soldiers out of these never-ending, police-the-world wars…and, oh yeah, end the all-volunteer military and reinstate the draft and/or some form of compulsory national service.




Yes, really. Do you think we’d still be ass-deep in the AfghaniRaquPakistania quagmire if every American family had to face the possibility of their age-appropriate sons and daughters serving in the military?

Once again, I digress.

My intention for this segment was to honor a certain generation [2] for What They Did When They Did What They Had To Do. [3]

Six years ago my father, Chester Bryan (“Chet the Jet”) Parnell, had military honors at the graveside service following his funeral. The honors consisted of a brief observance involving a color guard, a gun salute, and presentation of an American flag to my mother, along with the “thanks of a grateful nation.” It was a ceremony Chet’s usually-not-impressed-with-such-things second born daughter [4] found very moving.

Although he never left the US of A during his military service, Chet was credited with serving in a combat zone. He and his fellow Army paratroopers stationed in Alaska were training for the inevitable invasion of Japan, and were also tasked with guarding the Aleutians, which the Japanese, as part of their Aleutian Islands campaign, were determined to invade and occupy. [5] Thus, Chet was eligible for “full” military honors at his funeral. Although Chet was proud of his WWII service he’d let us know in advance he didn’t want the full treatment (whatever that would involve – military flyover? Invasion of a small island in the Pacific?), out of respect for those soldiers who had engaged in active combat.

One day many years before Chet’s death, when my family was down in SoCal for a visit, Chet asked if MH could copy, enlarge and clarify a photo Chet had discovered while cleaning out his desk. The picture – actually, a small, wrinkled, time-worn copy of a picture sent from a paratrooper buddy – was one the few pictures Chet had from his Army days.  MH put his computer wizard /Photoshop skills to use, and was able to earn Son-In-Law Of The Year ® honors by providing Chet with a cleaned-up enlargement.  MH also had the enviable [6] task of informing Chet about a certain aspect of the picture, what I think of as a Photo With Benefits.  By enlarging the photo, a gesture made by one of Chet’s fellow soldiers – a “military salute” common among paratroopers but heretofore obscured by the photo’s size and lack of clarity – was clearly revealed.

At the time the picture was taken Chet of course was facing the camera, and had no idea how the other guys in the photo had posed. He got such a hoot out of it – which came as no surprise to me.  What was a wonderful surprise was how much my mother enjoyed the photographic revelation: she giggled like a schoolgirl who’d just understood her first A nun walks into a bar… joke  [7].


Chet, front row far left, looking tough (but cute).

Chet, front row far left, looking tough (but cute).


*   *   *

Department Of Some Phone Calls Are Harder Than Others

And getting through some 12 minute phone calls can seem more exhausting than running a three hour marathon, when I’m constantly “on guard” during said calls, with a pins and needles/jaw clenching concentration, giving myself a headache that lasts the rest of the day, reminding myself of what to say as well as what not to say when the only truthful/logical response to what my elderly mother just asked would be to give the correct information….

However. I have learned from Compassionate Communication With The Memory-Impaired and other resources that when dealing with those afflicted with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or other conditions which beget memory-disabilities, compassion must trump rationality and logic. And even truth.

My mother’s truth, her reality, can change from day to day. I am well aware of this; still, the ups and down sometimes catch me seemingly unaware. This week I was pleasantly surprised by her lucidity and higher-than-usual energy mode – I’m always the one who calls, but she called me on my cellphone (she’d remembered– with a caretaker’s reminder – that she’d been napping when I’d called the previous day)! We were having a nice if boring conversation, and in a normal (for her) voice she asked how long it had been since MH’s father had died (Hey, she remembered he died! I silently rejoiced). When I answered her question about the relative suddenness of my FIL’s passing (Well, he’d been living with Parkinson’s for many years…), and she reacted with shock and horror to a fact she’s known for over a decade.

“No!” she gasped. “No!  How awful! I had no idea!’

I gently tried to steer the conversation to another subject, which led to the inadvertent revelation that she’d forgotten MH’s sister is married and has a 14 year old son. Her overt change of atone accompanied the implied, painful, fearful accusation: Why have you/has everyone been keeping this information from me?

And during our phone conversation next week she may well remember what she’d forgotten…and then forget something else. Like the existence of my children.

Her sudden plummet into the memory abyss hit me harder than usual this week. I found myself sitting in my car in a parking lot, fighting off a crying jag, holding my cellphone to my ear and nodding reassurances to someone who wasn’t there.

“Old age is no place for sissies.”
Bette Davis

elderly bird

*   *   *

Department of Can You Run A Tab At An Urgent Care Center?

Speaking of children I do remember, Belle is back to practicing with the UPS Women’s Rugby team, although she will not be playing in any league games until next semester, due to her broken finger and resultant surgery. Last week she took a hard blow to the chest during a practice. A visit to the Student Health Center and subsequent x-ray confirmed her coach’s fear: Belle had suffered a separated rib.

Belle’s (severely) broken finger occurred during a practice in early September. Last year’s injuries included a cracked rib and…I forget what else. Going through the mail last weekend, I told MH that it just isn’t a normal week unless we receive yet another Explanation of Benefits form from our insurance company, along with a bill from a doctor or a physical therapist or an urgent care center….


Good news – post game party in the Emergency Room, drinks are on Belle!

Good news – post game party in the Emergency Room, drinks are on Belle!


*   *   *

Department Of Need I Say More?

Happy Belated Exploding Whale Day! Forty-five years ago, yesterday, a day that put Oregon on the map…and gushy whale parts on anyone standing within a quarter mile range of the event:

*   *   *

May you remember and appreciate the service (and “salutes”) of others;
may your fondest memories be as fuzzy or clear as time permits;
may you find beauty in unexpected places and sights (and rodents);
and may the hijinks ensue.


Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!



[1] Another clichéd phrase I loathe.

[2] No, not “the Greatest” generation, and damn you, Tom Brokaw, for that well-meaning but inaccurate description…which Andy Rooney, bless his atheist heart, tried to counter at every opportunity.

[3] Which was actually Steven Spielberg’s first choice for the title of his epic WWII movie (okay…actually…not). Can you believe Saving Private Ryan won out?

[4] That would be moiself.

[5] They succeeded in occupying two: Kiska and Attu.

[6] In my opinion. MH was a little hesitant to reveal what he’d found, thinking it might be embarrassing (“Uh…will they – meaning my parents – be okay with this?”).

[7] A nun, badly needing to use a restroom, walked into a bar. The place was hopping with music and conversation, and every once in a while the lights would briefly flicker off and then go back on, whereupon the patrons would erupt into cheers. However, when the crowd saw the nun, the room went dead silent. The nun approached the bartender,and asked, ‘May I please use the restroom?”

“Sure,” the bartender replied, “but I gotta warn you: there’s a statue of a naked man in there wearing only a fig leaf.”

“Thank you; I’ll just look the other way,’ said the nun.

The bartender showed the nun to the back of the restaurant. After a few minutes she came back out, and other patrons stopped what they were doing and gave the nun a loud round of applause.

“Excuse me, sir,” she said to the bartender. “Why did they applaud for me just because I went to the restroom?”

“Well, now they know you’re one of us,’ said the bartender. “‘Would you like a drink?”

“No thank you,” said the puzzled nun, “but, I still don’t understand.”

“You see,” laughed the bartender, “every time someone lifts the fig leaf on that statue, the lights go out.”

The Blog I’m Not Following

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What I fondly refer to as The Icky P stuff – Publicity and Promotion – is a tricky thing for writers. If you are an author who has an agent who also handles publicity and/or your publisher has promotional staff, depending on your contract stipulations you may not be in total control (or even in the loop) when it comes to the various (real time and social media) marketing decisions re your book.

I get that.

So, why did it stick in my craw to open my email, see “A Personal Message from ___ (Author’s Name Redacted),” and discover that – of course – it was nothing of the kind?  [1]  Instead, it was a mass marketing shill hype for ANR’s new book.




I’d read ANR’s first book, and was waffling on whether or not to check out the second. The “personal message” email tipped my probably not now to a definite no.

Most of ANR’s work had a decidedly humorous bent to it; thus, there’s the distinct possibility ANR’s email was meant to spoof that style of faux personal mass announcement…by doing a faux personal mass announcement. Which I also get, and also still don’t like.

I don’t recall signing up on an email list for such announcements. I follow ANR’s blog; that’s not the same thing. Perhaps I’m being picky here, but the “personal message” is a spam-worthy tactic – I don’t do stoop to this kind of publicity myself and don’t want to support it from others.

I’ve enjoyed (some of) ANR’s writing and blog posts…although I’ve increasingly been skimming/skipping the latter, as IMHO they seem to be singing-the same-tune-over-and-over. And I struggled with whether or not to post this beef of mine, because so many of ANR’s posts are related to the author’s lifelong struggle with mental illnesses, including depression. Dang those pesky, petty principles of mine, which once again got in the way of my self-censorship. [2]  And, really, how self-important of me, to think that the possibility of losing moiself as a reader/blog follower might cause any writer to spiral down into a depressive episode.



*   *   *

The Sad Situation I’m Not Writing About

I may mention it in a later post. For now, although I am well aware of The Circle Of Life ©  and all, there is a massive sucking sound coming from my chest. It’s my heart, sinking in the muck of anxiety arising from the fact that someone near and dear to me is helping someone near and dear to him navigate the end of life.

*   *   *

Department of Things I Love
That May Make You Say, Meh

I love the feel of cooked lima beans (that have cooled off but are still slightly warm) in my hands as I transfer them to a freezer bag. [3]


 This exists! I'm not the only one!

This exists! I’m not the only one!


*   *   *

Department of I Think It’s Better The Way I Heard It

Dateline: a week ago, driving up to Tacoma, taking daughter Belle to her sophomore year @ UPS. Belle hooked up her phone to the car’s sound system and was playing “her” music.  When I attempted to sing along with the chorus to the song, Everybody Talks, my daughter patiently suggested to me that,”It started with a whisper /and then it was my keister was probably not the correct line.  [4]





*   *   *

Department of Foo Foo

Balsamic fig glaze.

I know what it sounds like: a teaspoon-sized drizzle of something you’d find on a $49 starter plate at a pretentious Portland restaurant. Still, if you see it on a menu, order whatever it comes with. As son K said about seventeen years ago (even as a child, he was a quipster): Taste bud rodeo!



*   *   *

Department of Things Not To Joke About With (What Passes For) The Security Staff

“Do you mind if I look in your purse?” The adorably nebbish, adolescent male theatre employee cleared his throat, his Adam’s apple trembling only slightly less than his fingers as he fumbled with my movie ticket.

Just for a moment I considered three possible responses:

*Sure, I’ve nothing to hide…in my purse. Just stay away from my coat pockets, okay?

* No problem. When I’m packing heat I use my shoulder holster.

* Suit yourself – I switched my IED [5] to Airplane mode.

And just for another moment, I reconsidered those responses.

I smiled, murmured, “Oh, yeah, I guess that’s a thing now,” and unzipped the main compartment of my purse….which could have been hiding Nancy Reagan’s tiny little gun for all Nebbish Movie Theatre Boy would have known.  I mean, it was the most ineffective, what’s-the-point? glance/search ever.

As I made my way to theatre #6 I had a moment of wistful regret. If only I’d remembered that some theatres have instituted this new bag-checking policy, I could’ve stuffed my purse with tampons and other Lady Business Stuff ® and likely caused that whitest of white boys to do the pink cheek flambé.

Next time.


keep calm

*   *   *


So, it’s September, aka Where Did The Summer Go? ®.  Belle is back in college. K has graduated from college and is living at home, tolerating a job in food service while applying for “real” jobs (i.e., related to his major), and researching grad school options. [6] If you know anyone who’s hiring worker bees who have a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology, give us a holler.



*   *   *



May you enjoy the lyrics whatever way you hear them,
may your theatre bag searches be unremarkable,
may your worker bees find buzz-worthy employment,
…and may the hijinks ensue.


Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!



[1] How could it be personal? We’ve never met.

[2] Although I did decide not to use ANR’s name.

[3] If you love lima beans you must always have a bag of cooked lima beans handy in your freezer, for those must-have-lima moments.

[4] I looked it up when I got home: the lyric is “whisper…and that was when I kissed her.”

[5] An IED as in Improvised Explosive Device. Not to be confused with an IUD…which would be a most unfortunate mix-up.

[6] And hosting D & D and Settlers of Catan parties every Sunday afternoon around our dining room table.

The Work I’m Not Imitating

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As I’ve occasionally carped about mentioned in this space (here, and here and here, to list just a few spaces), I often find writers guidelines [1] to be obtuse, pretentious, long-winded bunk.




However, I sometimes have the good fortune to stumble across a gem like the following, discovered while checking a clearing-house type website for literary journals seeking material (my emphases):

The James Franco Review Call for Submission

The James Franco Review is seeking fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. (snip snip)….
We aren’t looking for work that imitates James Franco’s work or satirizes—writers need not be so cruel.

I did not send them anything, but I did take the time to savor the metaphorical breath of fresh (and not hot) air.

*   *   *

Speaking of clearing the air….

Which I wasn’t. Not to get all technical, but I was writing, not speaking. I was also trying for a segue. Bear with me.


That's not me on the right, but if it was, then the picture would be Bear with me.

That’s not me on the right. If it were, then the picture would be Bear with me.


Last week BBC News Hour reported on a story about researchers in Germany and Saudi Arabia who found that “….pollution levels over several major cities in the Middle East are dropping and have concluded that it is due to economic and political unrest and war.” It seems that the chaos of war and instability leads to a lowering of economic standards in many cities, which means that less fuel is burned by cars or used in electricity production.

What a wonderful if totally unintended byproduct of madness, I thought, in that making-lemonade-from-lemons way of mine. People with respiratory diseases suffer and die due to air pollution. People with weakened immune systems and other health disorders, as well as all of us Average Citizens ® , experience diminished quality of life due to pollution. As per the EPA:

“Scientific evidence indicates that ground-level ozone not only affects people with impaired respiratory systems (such as asthmatics), but healthy adults and children as well. Exposure to ozone for 6 to 7 hours, even at relatively low concentrations, significantly reduces lung function and induces respiratory inflammation in normal, healthy people.”

And from the World Health Organization:

“Air pollution is a major environmental risk to health. By reducing air pollution levels, countries can reduce the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer, and both chronic and acute respiratory diseases, including asthma… Ambient (outdoor air pollution) in both cities and rural areas was estimated to cause 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012. Some 88% of those premature deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, and the greatest number in the WHO Western Pacific and South-East Asia regions.”


After reading the story’s provocative premise and before continuing with his report, the BBC announcer made some toss-off remark about how he hated to highlight such a “trivial” point (as reduction in pollution), given the effects of war and instability.

A reduction in pollution – read: air poison – is trivial?

I wanted to reach through my car radio and slap him.




Sorry to bother you with something so trivial....

Sorry to bother you with something so trivial….

*   *   *

Department of More People I Want To Slap



Late last week much of Oregon west of the Cascades Range was blanketed by smoke from fires burning in Oregon and Washington east of the Cascades.

I’ve lived here for almost twenty-five years. My brain can’t remember ever seeing (or smelling or tasting) pollution that bad, in this area, but my lungs and bronchial tubes did provide me with a sensory memory: the tightness under my sternum was a flashback to being a child of So Cal in the 60s and 70s.

I remember well (and would like to forget) the days of Smog Alerts, when PE classes and athletic practices were cancelled and/or held indoors and some parents kept their kids home from school and all citizens were advised to restrict physical activity and refrain from driving if possible. [2]  Hospital ERS and doctors offices reported being clogged with the most vulnerable patients (the elderly, and young children) who experienced shortness of breath and headaches, and I felt a distinctive “catch” in my chest when I tried to take a deep breath.

I also remember that it got better. The air quality, that is.


Surf's up...down there, somewhere.

Surf’s up…down there, somewhere.


Many years ago, during a daytime flight to visit my So Cal family, K and Belle expressed alarm as our airplane made its descent toward the Orange County Airport. [3] “What’s that?” K asked, as he pressed his nose against the airplane’s window. “Yeah,” Belle chimed in. “What’s that brown stuff we’re flying through?”

“It’s the air,” I replied. “Or, at least, what passes for it, here.”

I proceeded to inform my offspring that, believe it or not, it had been worse when I was their age. [4] Although there are twice the amount of people and vehicles in So Cal now then when I was living there, the air, while not clean, is cleaner, thanks to the enactment of strict emission standards.

Here’s where the slapping part comes in: ere’s where the I remembered how furious I was when certain redneck relatives of mine bragged about how they’d removed the catalytic converters from their emissions-belching vehicles, because no gummint agency (cough, rasp, hack) was gonna tell them (wheeze, pant, snort) to sissify their muscle cars.

*   *   *

Yet Another Way To Clear the Air

Or at least, your sinuses.

I mean of course, by consuming roasted peppers. This is the season where you may be fortunate enough to acquire Padrón peppers from your farmer’s market, your CSA or even your local grocery store.


The pretty, "before" picture.

The pretty, “before” picture.


Padrón peppers are sometimes sold alongside shishito peppers.  How to tell the difference? The two varieties look almost identical. A Produce Dude ® told me that the two are often confused, even among farmers. The shishitos may seem to have a shinier surface and are a bit longer and twistier and “ridgier” than Padróns.

Both peppers are generally milder than jalapenos. No matter; they’re both tasty, with slight differences in flavor. [5] After discovering and then playing around with them, I don’t make ’em any other way than by using the following the skillet dry-roasting method.

Dry skillet roasting requires just three ingredients

(1) Padrón (or shishito) peppers, intact [6]
(2) your best/most flavorful sea salt

(3) your best olive oil
(optional – the oil’s not for cooking the peppers, but for seasoning them afterward)

and five pieces of equipment

(1) a large cast iron skillet (or comal)
(2) tongs
(3) an oven mitt (that pan is gonna get hot)
(4) a shallow (but not callow) serving bowl
(5) okay, it requires only four pieces of equipment

Get your skillet good and hot (a drop of water should wiggle and dance on its surface and evaporate almost immediately). Add the peppers, in batches if you have a lot – don’t crowd ’em, they should be in a single layer. Sear peppers ~ 1m on all sides. They may wiggle-dance just like the water droplets, which is just too cute.


Actually, this is just too cute. But not edible.

Actually, this is just too cute. But not edible.


Use the tongs to turn the peppers as they roast – you want the skin to blister. [7]  When they are roasted to your liking, tong-transfer them to the serving bowl, drizzle ’em with the oil (if using), [8] sprinkle with sea salt, and serve: hold by the stem and eat the rest of the pepper. You may want to take a test bite first. (Padróns vary in hotness; some folks say the larger peppers are hotter. [9] )


The yummers "after" picture.

The yummers “after” picture.


*   *   *

Department of That’s What He Said

MH and I usually do the NY Times Sunday crossword together during lunch. This past Sunday MH decided to get an early start. As I was cleaning up my breakfast dishes he read aloud one of the clues that, he said, was stumping him, even though the answer was only four letters long.

Clue:  “When repeated, an aerobics class cry.”

I did not spew an immediate solution, and so MH wrote in what was, to him, the only logical answer:

“Stop.”  [10]

Please, please make it stop.

Please, please make it stop.

*   *   *

May your personal and professional guidelines be down-to-earth,
May your air be breathable,
May your peppers be wiggly and tasty,
and may the hijinks ensue.


Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!



[1]  a set of guidelines from a literary journal or publisher that specify their requirements for material from writers, including the length, categories, format and styles of articles they seek, rights purchased and compensation rates, appropriate editors or other contact persons, how to submit work (query first or send full ms.), etc.

[2] Which, for a Southern Californian of that day, would only be possible if they’d lost both arms in a pesky meat grinder accident.

[3] Aka The John Wayne Airport. The name change in 1979 still frosts my butt. Airports should be named for their location, not for a wealthy movie star whose only connection to the airport was grousing about the airplanes flying over his Newport Beach mansion.

[4] And we had to walk to school with barbed wired wrapped around our feet to get through the six foot snow drifts in winter…or was that my mother’s story?

[5] After roasting, Padróns have a light smoky taste, while shishitos may seem slightly sweet/herbal/floral.

[6] Intact as in whole peppers with their stems, not intact as in, with all their boy parts still in one piece.

[7] the padrón’s skin, hopefully not yours, because you’re using the mitts to handle the hot pan, right?

[8] This is optional. They are delicious just dry-fried and tossed w/salt.

[9] Some folks have been known to be wrong.

[10] The answer was, “step.”

The Vacation I’m Not Blogging

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Vacation.  I am having one. Right Now.

A well-deserved retreat for both MH and I, if I do say so moiself. And I just did.

‘Tis also a well-anticipated vacation (we’ve been trying to get where we’re at ever since we moved to the Pacific North West [1] ) that never quite came about due to the usual suspects ($$, time, schedules), and that almost got cancelled the last minute, what with Sandwich Generation concerns. [2]

So, yes, I’m on vacation. Not blogging about what’s right and wrong with the world. Not blogging about this week. Because…vacation.

I thought I’d fill this space with selections from my Greatest Hits. © Then I remembered: Oh, that’s right, I don’t have any.



*   *   *

Okay, one vacation story.

The story comes from our first day on The Island (oooooh, big hint!). [3]





We  stopped on our way to our rental house to have lunch at a café which shares space with an art studio. It was a nice day; we opted to sit outside on the café’s cozy (yep, small) deck.  The other table on the deck was already occupied, by four Fashionably Dressed Young Men ® . All of the FDYM were talking loudly and animatedly, their stories tumbling over one another, until one FDYM took the lead with a meandering tale that included him mentioning in rapturous tones “Regis” and “Cathy Lee and Hoda” more times than I could shake a rainbow-colored stick at. [4]

I couldn’t help but think to myself (and then say to MH, with a grin that threatened to split my face):

This is too cute – this is the gayest conversation…do they have any idea?

The FDYM finished their lunch and trooped down the deck’s stairway, which was right by our table. As they were leaving I said, “Excuse me, but you’re far too young to be familiar with the name, ‘Regis.’ “

They all burst out laughing, and one of them (the oldest of the young, was my guess) assured me that, au contraire, “…knowledge of Regis is the key to eternal youth.”

*   *   *

Department of More Hints

The following sight was [5]  one of our island trip highlights. Can you guess where the picture was taken (hint: no):



*   *   *

May all of your vacation highlights be blog-worthy,
may your overheard conversations contain the key to eternal youth,

and may the hijinks ensue.




Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!



[1] Which was…over twenty-four years ago? Yikes.

[2] Read: elderly parents’ health crises.

[3] What island – maybe The Big Island, as in Hawaii? Gilligan’s Island? The Island of Misfit Toys. Dr. Moreau, Lost Souls…?

[4] No, I’m not going to post pictures of Regis and/or the Cathy Lee-Hoda beast. You’re welcome.

[5] There is no need for a footnote after the word “was.”

The Classic I’m Not (totally) Commending

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One of the few advantages of having your birthday in proximity to Christmas [1] is getting multiple gift checks – which is what we aging children get from our parents – in the same proximity. I used last year’s gift $$ to purchase a new kayak earlier this year. An Oru “origami” kayak. Origami – no lie. It folds up, with all of its parts, into its own carrying bag. So simple, or so the promo shot would have you believe, a headless woman wearing vastly impractical water sport footwear can do it blindfolded. [2]




It’s been fun [3] learning to unfold and fold it, practicing in the living room. I hadn’t found the time to take it out on the water, until Monday, a day my son K had off from his summer job, and (finally) a day which promised not to be the kind of swelter-crap summer days we’ve been having that make you not want to leave the house for any reason. K & I schlepped Flicka and the Oru kayak into the van and drove to Brown’s Ferry Park, which has a public access boat launch for the Tualatin River.

Flicka [4] is the name of my other/first kayak, a Perception recreational model (the Swifty line, which I don’t think they make anymore). Flicka has served me well for many years. Now she has a stablemate, of sorts.


Flicka, in her garage loft bed.

Flicka, in her garage loft bed.


I’ve yet to name the Oru kayak. Something will come to me.

Here is what it an Oru kayak looks like, unfolded and put together:




Here’s what mine looks like, drying out upside down in the garage, after its first river outing:




I’d been wondering about the viability of accessible local kayaking venues. What with the drought, I was fairly confident that Smith & Bybee Lakes, never deep waters in even the most wet of winters, would effectively be Smith & Bybee Mud Marshes. And Haag Lake…well, no matter what its water level, it attracts too much of the jet ski/Coors Lite crowd for my taste. [5] Most of all, I find it boring, paddling-wise.

The Tualatin River has several access points within decent driving distance, but, due to the lack of rainfall and those pesky high temps I wasn’t sure how enjoyably navigable it might be. Would it be deep enough to have portions that could be said to run, smoothly or otherwise? Fortunately, you can check the river’s flow level and current conditions online. Which I did. And so we went.

It turned out to be quite a pleasant outing. We impressed an older kayaking gent walking his dog near the boat launch with our wacky folding kayak. We surprised several great blue herons, one of which was quite protective of its riverbank hunting grounds, and K was “buzzed” by a red tail hawk crossing the river. I got one picture of K approaching a spot on the riverbank where geese and ducks were hanging out on some rocks, a spot where there was also, K called out to me, a “big ass frog.”  I got one lousy picture, before my phone’s camera fritzed out on me.

There's a big ass frog ahead on a rock the riverbank, trust me.

There’s a big ass frog ahead on a rock the riverbank, trust me.

*   *   *

The Salad I Keep Making

Despite what you may have heard on NPR about the downgrading of the American seafood supply, here in Oregon we’ve great access to locally caught seafood in our local farmer’s markets. Which is why I keep making this crab salad, which is IMHO the perfect use for our West Coast summer bounty (lettuce, fresh white corn, tomatoes, avocadoes, red onion, crab, cilantro-lime-crumbled ancho chili-dressing). This week, I augmented the last of the Dungeness crab we had in the freezer (wrangled by MH earlier this summer during a trip to Manzanita) with Oregon coast halibut.



*   *   *

Department of Crab Segues

A bit o’ crabbiness for you now, relating to the blog’s title, in the form of Cinematic Criticism of an Acclaimed Classic ® . Which was prompted by my recent bookstore purchases: The Princess Bride, and As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride

The latter book is actor Cary Elwes’ memoir of …well, of just what the title says. I enjoyed As You Wish…., despite the prevalence of a certain, how you say, narrative tone noted by both moiself and my friend SCM, a tone which I charitably chose to think of as the author’s younger, star-struck, fanboy-like awe and respect for the movie’s cast and director. [6]

Like many of the book’s and movie’s aficionadas, I can quote TPB’s memorable lines at appropriate situations (never mind about the inappropriate ones).  I loved the book, and I love the movie, fervently…but also wistfully. I wish I could say I love the movie unreservedly. [7] But I can’t, because I don’t.

I love the fact that the book’s author, William Goldman, claims he wrote the book for his daughters. I hate the fact that the movie of the book is populated by so few daughters.


TPB cast


I love that the book is filled with fanciful and witty dialogue and action scenes, and I hate that the movie’s fanciful and witty dialogue and action scenes are, with few exceptions, the exclusive province of its male characters. The movie’s main female character – the title role, Princess Buttercup – is essentially, to quote Cary Elwes (who plays Westley, Buttercup’s true love, aka the Dread Pirate Roberts), “the straight man.”

“Buttercup falls in love, loses her love, gets kidnapped, is forced into an arrange marriage, reconnects with her one true love, and then lets him go in order to save his life. It really requires a great deal of emotional range. What it doesn’t require – or at least doesn’t display – is the comedic talent for which The Princess Bride is so well know. Goldman wrote a screenplay that we now know is filled with great, classic funny lines. Unfortunately, few, if any, of those lines are given to Buttercup.”
(Cary Elwes, As You Wish)

The male characters run the gamut from a cowardly manipulative royal, a gentle giant with a pea-sized brain and a heart to match his height, a blustering, ego-maniacal assassin, a vengeance-seeking alcoholic (yet expert) swordsman; a dashing and confidently self-effacing pirate…. The female characters are a beautiful princess, a few crowd scene peasants, and a crone.


Ok, so she does get one great line, but she has to share it with Billy Crystal.

Ok, so she does get one great line, but she has to share it with Billy Crystal.


‘Tis likely my critique would provoke the movie’s champions to muster the tried but true, TBIABTTM [8] defense. And, as is often the case, I suspect any criticism with the translation of a story from novel to movie would be cast upon the screenwriter. The trouble with that is, the book’s author [9] also wrote the movie’s screenplay. Who better to know the essentials of the story, right? His distillation of book-to-movie is indicative of his mindset, that the vital-to-the-story characters he wrote were in a 11-2 male-to-female ratio.

This male-female protagonist discrepancy is,[10] sadly, par for the course in Hollywood. I won’t be getting’ all Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media on you right now – I’m just feeling a bit wistful, wishing that one of my favorite movies was even favorite-er.



*   *   *

Department of More Stupid Things That Bother Me

Have you seen Hollywood Game Night, a summer replacement nighttime game show on network TV? You should. It airs Tuesday eves on NBC, and is hosted by the Witty Tall Person I’d Most Like to Play Charades With © , actor/comedian Jane Lynch.




I find the show quite entertaining. It appeals to my affinity for silly parlor games…even though I would probably and massively suck at this particular show’s games, what with the emphasis on knowledge of contemporary celebrity names and trivia.

So. Last week we were watching HGN, and one of the contestants, Ms. Ditsy TV Starlet Who Shall Not Be Named, [11] blew what should have been, IMHO, an easy question that had to do with the mere existence of the Mars Rover.  After the answer was revealed, instead of a red-faced, I-can’t-believe-I-missed that! reaction, Ms. Ditsy unabashedly announced that she’d had no idea there was a thing called “a rover on Mars.”

And I just lost my shit.




I was watching a TV game show, populated by (I assume) celebrities chosen not for their SAT scores, IQ tests or knowledge of current events but most likely due to their availability to promo some project they’ve got going on the host network. And yeah, I was already a bit piqued at the sight of a Pretty Young Thing (Ms. Ditsy) who, at her tender age, was already/obviously botoxed…and it’s not like she’s ever going to be in any sort of political and/or scientific policy making position…but she’s a citizen, dadgummit, and she had no idea the Mars Rover project even exists, and worst of all, she displayed no shame at her lack of awareness.  THIS IS YOUR FUCKING COUNTRY WHICH IS  SPENDING BILLIONS OF DOLLARS ON THIS PROJECT, AND EVEN IF IT HAD COST NO MORE THAN YOUR LATEST MANICURE THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT SCIENTIFIC VENTURES OF THE CENTURY.

Don’t you hate it when the caps lock gets stuck?

Yep, I’m pissin’ in the wind, here. But it got me to ruminating on one of my pet peeves: the downside of democracy. Specifically, the fact that, in This Wonderful Country of Ours, ® our votes are not weighted on criteria having to do with civic engagement or grasp of reality.

Thus, PYT Ms. Ditzy Starlet can be totally ignorant of the New Horizons flyby of Pluto; she and others like her can believe that global warming is caused by polar bear farts and/or that the U.S. Civil War was the result of “Northern aggression” against the gallant Southern states and had little or no connection to slavery, and/or that gay marriage makes the baby Jesus cry…and her vote counts the same as mine. Grrrrrr. [12]


So like, Horizons airlines flew that Disney Dog? Ya sure, I knew that.

So like, Horizons airlines flew that Disney Dog? Ya sure, I knew that.


*   *   *

May your rivers run deep,
may you find movies to love without reservation and game shows to watch without consternation,
may your vote always count,
and may the hijinks ensue.


Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!



[1] If I haven’t already, I’ll get around to complaining about the disadvantages in a future post.

[2] Without a head, you don’t really need a blindfold, do you?

[3] If you enjoy judicious use of profanity, as regular readers know I do.

[4] Because, she’s my friend.

[5] Yep, I’m a snob.

[6] And which SCM described as, “Can he (Elwes, the book’s author) get his head any further up Rob Reiner’s ass?”

[7] You know where this is going, don’t you?

[8] The Book is Always Better Than The Movie.

[9] Goldman is also an award-winning screenwriter, whose credits include Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All the President’s Men.

[10] Protagonists? Hell, the effect even extends to crowd scenes. If you were an alien anthropologist learning about Earth culture from the movies, you’d have no idea that the world’s human population gender balance is essentially equal.

[11] And whose name I cannot recall now, nor was I familiar with her when she was introduced. See what I mean about pop culture trivia?

[12] Shall we make it an even dozen?

The Elder I’m Not Abusing

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Before the Deluge

Ere I begin my Rant of the Week ® I simply must share my favorite texts [1] of the week. This was yesterday’s exchange between moiself and daughter Belle, whom, as I mentioned in last week’s blog, is working as a summer ZooCamp counselor. This week’s campers have included many second-graders whose physical and emotionally maturity (read: lack thereof) proved challenging for their college-age camp leaders.

Belle: It finally happened – Colin finally peed his pants.

Moiself: Sorry, but ☺

Belle: Also, Ethan punched another kid in the balls.

Moiself: Hope Colin brought a change of clothing…
and the other kid a change of balls.

Belle: Ha! We had to give Colin spare shorts. After he changed he put his shoes on the wrong feet. But we didn’t notice until lunch so he was wearing them like that for 3 hours.

Moiself: This is way too much fun for me to read.

Belle: It sprinkled rain. Heather pulled a swimsuit out of her backpack and insisted she had to wear it. Because of rain.

Mmmm, camper snacks.

Mmmm, camper snacks.

*   *   *

I’m not one much for literary boycott or censorship, other than the self-imposed kind. That said, this is my appeal to y’all, for which I am using my Asa credentials:

As a writer, and mostly as a human being, I urge you to please not purchase nor read Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s supposed prequel to her classic, To Kill a Mockingbird.

The background of Lee’s “new” novel is suspicious, to say the least. If you’re unfamiliar with the details (which you can find here and here and here and in many other heres), the controversy centers around Lee’s capacity to consent to the release of a book she steadfastly refused to release – or even admit existed – for  over 50 years. And now, here come a motley crew of distant family members, new attorneys and publishing scions who will profit from the out-of-nowhere, out-of-character reversal of Lee’s lifelong, principled stand.




Harper Lee never married and had no children or grandchildren. Her older sister, Alice Lee, Harper’s lifelong companion and confidante, was an attorney who served as her sister’s lawyer and advocate. Alice Lee would likely have profited handsomely if any of her sister’s post-Mockingbird writings were published. Instead, she loyally abided by Harper’s wishes, and protected both Harper’s estate and Harper herself from the attention Harper so ferociously avoided.

Since the 1960 publication of TKAM the publicity-shy Harper Lee notoriously – and more importantly, consistently – refused to submit any of her other writings (or even admit that she had any) for publication. She said what she had to say on the subject, was her patient if terse response the few times she bothered to answer critics or fans who wanted “more.” If that wasn’t plain enough, she vowed that, “as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood.”

In 2007 Harper Lee suffered a stroke. Now aged 89, Lee has been living in an assisted living facility for many years and must use a wheelchair for mobility. Her health problems include almost total vision and hearing loss, paralysis on her left side, confusion and memory problems. [2] In 2011 Alice Lee wrote that her sister “can’t see and can’t hear and will sign anything put before her by anyone in whom she has confidence.”  Then in 2014, a mere two months after Alice Lee’s death, publishing house HarperCollins, along with the attorney [3] who replaced Alice Lee, astonished the literary world by announcing the release of Harper Lee’s “rediscovered” first novel.

The manuscript was “found,” Lee’s new lawyer [4] claimed, by rummaging through Lee’s attic and other personal items “in a secure place where Ms. Lee keeps her archives.”

Go Set a Watchman; right. Make sure he watches overhead, for vultures circling.

IMHO, the “finding” and publishing of GSAW is elder abuse. I won’t abet it in any way.

*   *   *

“….salmonellosis, a type of food poisoning that occurs after ingesting contaminated food and/or improper handling of contaminants including feces from pets, and reptiles, poultry or rodents. Symptoms of diarrhea to fever to abdominal cramps to….”

Department of Why Do We Need These Warnings From the Government?

Specifically, why do we need to be warned not to Kiss Chickens?

Oh, that’s right – because chickens are cute. And people are stupid.


Pucker up and get ready to crap your pants.

Pucker up and get ready to crap your pants.

*   *   *

On a related note, the following is either:

  1. the title of the book I’m reading
  2. my life’s motto
  3. my suggested slogan for the upcoming Republican Presidential candidate’s debates:

Let’s Be Less Stupid

Okay, it’s all three.



*   *   *

Department of Duh

That’s one big ass hosta.



*   *   *

Department of Cruciferous Haiku [5]

The cabbage sits tall
and proud on my counter. Or,
should I say, stands?

Do the words apply?
 I’m anthropomorphizing
a vegetable.

Cabbage cannot sit,
nor stand. Still, I think this one
would strut, if it could.

It bears dignity;
a certain nobility
 belies its odd shape.

Thus, I’ll treat it with
respect, despite its likeness
to a school dunce cap.


*   *   *

Op-Ed Opening Line of the week (or year)

In return for helping to raise money for veterans who lost limbs in a war that he started, former President George W. Bush took $100,000 from their charity for giving a speech in 2012, and another $20,000 to be flown in on a private jet.
(from the New Jersey Star-Ledger editorial, July 10)


*   *   *

I Skimmed The New York Times Thursday Styles Section So You Didn’t Have To

It’s a section I usually toss aside.  But something about yesterday morning – perhaps the early morning dream I had in which Brad Pitt was trying to gaslight me – made me throw usually to the wind.

Whatever the reason, I’m grateful for the diversion (although I’m still a bit unnerved by the dream), because I might have missed this Important Fashion News. [6]

For some reason, I’m really hoping this catches on:




And not this:



*   *   *

Department of How Cool is This?



The first close-up image of Pluto has revealed mountains as tall as the Rockies, and a complete absence of craters – discoveries that, to their delight, baffled scientists working on NASA’s New Horizons mission image and provided punctuation for a journey nine and a half years in the making.
Pluto’s Portrait: Ice Mountains, No Craters, and for Scientists, a ‘Toy Store’
New York Times, Thursday July 16, 2015 )

Wouldn’t you love a job where you made discoveries that baffled and delighted you? For most of us, our reaction to work-related baffling discoveries is along the lines of, Holy Honeybadger crap, it isn’t supposed to do that!

*   *   *

Department of Please Oh Please Let It Happen

“…something similar (to the Cambrian Explosion) is happening in human culture. Institutions—not just religions but also universities, armies, corporations—are now faced with how to change their fundamental structure and methods to deal with the fact that everybody’s living in a glass house now.

“Protecting your inner workings is becoming very difficult; it’s very hard to keep secrets. Religions have thrived in part because they were able to keep secrets. They were able to keep secrets about other religions from their parishioners, who were largely ignorant of what other people in the world believed, and also keep secrets about their own inner workings and their own histories, so that it was easy to have a sort of controlled message that went out to people. Those days are over. You can go on the Internet and access to all kinds of information. This is going to change everything.”

(Author, scientist, philosopher, The Clergy Project co-founder Daniel C. Dennett, from the interview, “Churches Can No Longer Hide the Truth: Daniel Dennett on the New Transparency,” Religion Dispatches May 18, 2015)

make it so

*   *   *

May your motives and methods be transparent,
May baffling discoveries delight you and your chickens never bite (or kiss) you,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi




[1] Names of campers changed to protect the not-so-innocents.

[2] Lee’s mental and physical decline has been revealed via family and friends in court via legal wrangling over control of her writings.

[3] I don’t want her name in my blog, stinkin’ fucking carrion-eater that I think she is.

[4] Okay, the stinkin,’  fucking, carrion-eater is Tonja Carter.

[5] Supported by a generous combined grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Food and Drug Administration, and Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign.

[6] Excuse the oxymoron. And by oxymoron I do not mean the dude in yellow.

The Temperatures I’m Not Sweating

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Happy Birthday, JWW.


*   *   *

The SCOTUS decision is responsible for this blast from the past: back in late 1992, a man from the OCA, a conservative Christian PAC in Oregon, was canvassing my neighborhood. He seemed pleased to see an obviously pregnant, married (I actually caught him glancing at my ring finger!) woman answer the door, and tried to get me to sign a petition supporting the OCA’s efforts to prohibit “special rights” for homosexuals. His pitch included the provocative warning that time was of the essence – before you know it, “the gays” will bring about the ruination of the “normal” family unit, and even demand the right to marry!

 I smiled sweetly (it took some effort, let me tell ya), patted my mother-to-be bump, and replied, “Not only do I support gay marriage, I think *every* marriage should be a gay marriage!”

 Dude left skidmarks departing my porch.

 I’m still trying to absorb the momentousness (is that even a word?) of this decision. Congratulations to everyone who has worked so hard to have their family rights recognized. It doesn’t happen often enough, but humane human values seem to have prevailed.

That was my FB post last week, after I heard about the SCOTUS decision on same-sex marriage. Anecdote expansion: years later I was having a conversation with the “product” of the afore-mentioned pregnancy – my son K – about current events, and the two of us simultaneously wondered aloud if that issue – the rights for gays to marry – would be the defining civil rights issue of his generation.




Amidst all the justifiable jubilation, I’ve been thinking about other landmark SCOTUS decisions and legislative acts. Loving v. Virginia allowed, some thirty-plus years after its decision, for my brother to enter into his “interracial” [1] marriage with little fuss…although I know that is still not always the case for other such marital unions.  Brown v. The Board of Education , the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Roe V. Wade separately and collectively didn’t eradicate the attitudes and racism and gender discrimination that led to the Charleston massacre and murderous misogyny and internet harassment of women…. And there is always a backlash to progress.  I hear that in at least one state, [2] county clerks have refused to grant marriage licenses in defiance of the SCOTUS decision….

But, I’m not gonna go there right now. It’s nice to breathe deeply and whoop loudly, and celebrate for a moment, sans consideration of whatever is to come.


gay cake

*   *   *

Department of Stream of Consciousness
Slice of Life Division

So I ran over to the nearest grocery store to grab a couple of things I was missing for dinner prep, and a wine rep was doing a wine tasting in the store, a rep whom I thought looked kinda sorta familiar and she later recognized me, after she asked to see my ID and I pointed my finger toward the lines framing my eyes which she pretended not to see (the lines; she saw my finger) and she said, No really, we do need to card anyone who looks 26 or under and I laughed heartily and told her my age and she spewed the reflex response to age-honesty, which I know is meant to be polite or even flattering but which nevertheless makes me cringe – she gushed No way! and stammered that I look essentially thirty years younger, which I know I don’t and I wish it didn’t have to be meant as a compliment in our ageist society but wine sample woman goes on and on about it and I flashed a knowing look to the young man standing behind me who was patiently waiting to sample some wine and who shook his head as if to say Yeah, sure lady, you look whatever your age is, now, how do we get her to shut up? and then I really took a good look at him in all his youth and thick blond hair and suspenders and shorts but no shirt and I knew we’re in the middle of an unseasonable heat wave and it’s 99 in the shade but I was thinking, geeze dude you’re strutting around with your hairy blonde naked nipple chest and what if I tried to pull that off? and wine woman said, I remember you! to me and asked if I was the woman who during the last tasting gave her the tip about briefly chilling a red wine to bring out its complexity and I ‘fessed up and she said god bless you in that way people say it when you’re not sure if they actually mean to invoke their deity’s consecration upon you or it’s like they are using it as a stand in for thanks or good morning or gesundheit or have a nice day or holy fuck would you look at the pecs on that buff and shirtless young man, but then later she said it again and somehow I managed to stifle myself from responding, Yeah well I’m an atheist so that’s not gonna happen.

Oh, and the wine was very good. Especially the red blend.


*   *   *

Reflections on all things messy, as per recent events

This was going to be my musings about how  Bruce Jenner, born biologically/genetically/XY chromosomally male, can become Caitlyn Jenner because he “feels” female, vis-à-vis Rachel Dolezal, the leader of the Spokane NAACP who was outed by her parents as white woman, even though Dolezal claims to feel or “identify” as black.

Oh, never mind.


Number One, cancel red alert!

Yeeees! Number One, cancel red alert!


Instead, wouldn’t you rather look at a picture of a delicious crab, avocado and roasted sweet corn salad?

We’ve been enjoying the fruits of MH’s going crabbing in Manzanita last Sunday – in the form of having crab several nights in a row, including this salad, which tasted even better than it looked…




…and which seemed to have removed all thoughts of current events commentary from my mind…except for this vestige of the tabloid-worthy identity stories. I woke up yesterday with an interesting image in my mind: a somewhat nervous, male Dungeness crab  [3] being removed from a crab pot, pleading his case to the crabbers:

Yeah, I know I look male, but I’m transitioning to female.

♫ I feel pretty, oh so pretty ♫

♫ I feel pretty, oh so pretty ♫

*   *   *

Department of Just Because

I came across an article about a casting call in Arkansas for the sequel to a movie that was titled  God’s Not Dead. [4] The sequel will be titled…hold on to your purity rings, boys and girls…God’s Not Dead 2.

I can’t help but fantasize about the sequel’s preview voiceover:

 He’s back, He’s still not dead, and HE’S PISSED !!!!

angry fesuspng

*   *   *

Department of WTF, Oregon?

Jul 2 99°F; Jul 3 97°; Jul 4 96°; Jul 5 101°; Jul 6 97°

This is not the forecast of the Oregon-west-of-the-Cascades-Range I’ve known and loved for the past 24+ years. I’m thinking my antiperspirant needs a more realistic name, or at least an update, from




*   *   *

May you always look (but never act) your age and be at ease about it,
May your transitions be crab-free and your marriages be gay,
…and may the hijinks ensue.



Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!



[1] I loathe that term, and wish I could ride a time warp back to muzzle the misguided anthropologists who coined the classifications of “races.” Ain’t no such things. My brother didn’t marry out of his “race;” he married a member of the human race.

[2] Tex-ass. You’d guessed that, didn’t you?

[3] Oregon crabbing regulations stipulate that only males of a certain shell width may be kept.

[4] Nope, I’d never heard of it either.

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