The Bully I’m Not Canonizing

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Department of Simple Pleasures

My table calendar by artist Joyce Gabriel makes the time-passes-too-damn-fast transition somewhat bearable…and I never peek ahead. I like to be surprised by each month’s mascot.

Yesterday was goodbye, cucumber, hello, candy corn.




The artist also makes the Best Playing Cards Ever ® .

*   *   *

Department of Simple Pleasures, the Sequel

Dateline: yesterday morning, circa 7:30 am, walking through a local park. Many school children, sometimes accompanied by a parent or older siblings, take the park’s paths to the nearby elementary school. A lad (age six or seven, I’d guess) riding a scooter was on the path, headed toward me. He called, “It’s hard.” At least5, I think that’s what he said – I was listening to a podcast and had my ear buds in.




I paused the podcast and looked around. The boy was alone; the friendly, please-notice-me expression on his face was definitely directed my way. As he scooted past me he showed to a stop and indicated with one hand the direction from which he’d come.

“It’s hard, riding all that way,” he said. “I’m new at this.” I gave him a thumbs up and told him I never would have guessed that –  he rode like a champ! The bashful smile on his face indicated I had made his morning…and he, mine.

*   *   *

I’d been trying to avoid most of the All Pope/All the Time coverage infesting seemingly every media outlet [1] of that RC dude known as Francis’ “Rocking America” tour. It frosts my butt, FAVOR, [2] to see a smoke-and-mirrors appointed leader of a patriarchal mythological religion [3] treated as if he were the head of a legitimate nation with whom the USA has strategic interests and/or trade and arms agreements.

(And don’t get me started even thinking about how much thi$ i$ co$ting taxpayer$ in providing $ecurity and other logi$t6ical arrangement$.)




As per my life de-stressing campaign, a part of my pope-news-evasion strategy includes trying to ignore the fawning statements by some of my allegedly liberal sisters and brothers, who rhetorically pee their tighty-whities [4] with excitement when Frankie says something that sounds even vaguely 21st century (his predecessors set the bar way low, so the rejoicing is almost understandable).

I understand the hopeful, the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend reasoning.  Still, I cannot ignore the fact that, his welcome rhetoric on climate change aside, Frankie has changed not one mote of the Roman Catholic Church’s dark ages, anti-woman, anti-gay, anti-reality doctrine.

And then I hear this: during his visit, PF canonized Junipero Serra.


WTF, Captain?!

WTF, Captain?!


Okay. The whole thing with saints is, of course, just another embarrassing relic/irrational ritual, so who cares who gets in to the RC Hall of Superstition.  But, really, Junipero Serra? The convert-or-die, religious fanatic bully Franciscan friar who marched north from Mexico with the conquistadors through what is now California, establishing the mission system, beating and enslaving Native Americans and asking the Spanish Inquisition headquarters in Mexico City to send an Inquisitor to the Sierra Gorda missions?

Yeah, that’s the ticket.


 "For crissake, child, cover those buns with the smallpox-infested breeches we've so generously given to you ignorant savages."

“For crissake, cover your buns with the smallpox-infested breeches we’ve so generously given you ignorant savages.”


Regular readers of this blog [5] might rightly assume that I view the RC hierarchy as a misogynist, anti-intellectual, humorless gang of doddering old men. Still, I gotta credit their wacky sense of humor when it comes initiating and maintaining the saint circus.

There’s a patron saint for everything, from coffee houses and broken bones (St. Drogo) to kidney disease and spelunkers (St. Benedict of Nursia ) and motorcyclists (St. Columbanus) and civil disorder (St. Andrew Corsini)  and toothache (St. Medardus) and beekeeping (St. Valentine) and…no, really, ice skaters (St. Lidwina)? and….

So, I guess there is plenty of room for Serra – why not a patron saint of cultural genocide?  Give ’em another hundred years and some pope will find a way to sanctify Risadle of Ballarat, patron saint of altar boy diddlers and child molesters.


Saint Lidwina, I beseech thy intercession, for my triple axel doth grievously suck.

St. Lidwina, I beseech thy intercession, for my triple axel doth grievously suck.

*   *   *


“It’s not what kind of church I believe in – for that should be important only to me – but what kind of American I believe in.”
(Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kennedy, 9-12-1960, speaking before the Houston Ministerial Association

Attention, ye bloviating Baptists and chattering Catholics – yes, I’m talking to you, Republican presidential candidates – who so liberally [6] imbue your political rhetoric with what should be your private primitive, mythologically-based ignorance nonsense religious opinions: I cringe with embarrassment for y’all – with the embarrassment y’all are apparently to self-unmindful to feel – when I hear your why-my-god-told-me-to-run-for-president blathering.  Such a pathetic contrast to the soaring reassurances from one who came before you.




That speech to the Houston Ministerial Association addressed what was a pressing issue at the time – what Kennedy referred to as “the so-called religious issue.” This issue, which distracted from the real issues that should decide a political campaign, was the idea that, if elected, JFK would be the first “Catholic President” and thus would be subject to “taking orders” from the Vatican.

“I believe in an American where the separation of church and state is absolute…”

We’ve all likely heard or read that oft-quoted excerpt from Kennedy’s masterful oration, but I urge you to listen to or read the transcript of the entire speech.

Have we fallen so far so fast, that politicians feel comfortable – even obligated – to advertise their personal religious beliefs, as if publicly stated allegiance to imaginary friends are prerequisites or necessities for gaining votes in our patently (and constitutionally mandated) secular democracy? I despair when I consider the fact that so many god-talk people are apparently/willfully ignorant of the deliberately god-free constitution of the country they aspire to lead.

Oh, and a prescient shout-out from JFK’s speech, to scofflaw county clerk Kim Davis [7] and others of her ilk:

“But if the time should ever come …when my office would require me to either violate my conscience or violate the national interest, then I would resign the office; and I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same.”


*   *   *

I Realize Marijuana Has Been Legalized in Oregon…


But I wasn’t expecting my broccoli to be getting all giggly about it.



*   *   *

Recently Overheard


“I would not wish ____

* shingles

* leukemia

* Huntington’s Disease

* the heartbreak of psoriasis

* mandatory attendance at an Adam Sandler film festival

*standing downwind of Mike Huckabee after a Gods, Guns Grits & Gravy workout

* ( name your affliction )

on my worst enemy.”


Just wondering: what would you wish on your worst enemy?


*   *   *

May your worst enemies send you their best wishes,
May you live a life free from possible sainthood,
may your vegetables give you the drug-free giggles,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!



[1] Shame on you, NPR.

[2] For a variety of reasons.

[3] A redundant description, I realize.

[4] Rainbow colored, in this case.

[5] As well as those who suffer from occasional irregularity.  Sorry.

[6] Well, in a manner of speaking.

[7] How embarrassing for us all, that this ignorant, hypocritical bigot now has her own Wikipedia entry.

The Trigger I’m Not Warning

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Trigger warning: image of child abuse:


From NY Times article re the Gucci Spring 2016 collection.

From NY Times article re the Gucci Spring 2016 collection.


Could someone please alert UNICEF?

*   *   *

A Book of Oh, Barf

“It’s tough to handle this fortune and fame,
 Everybody’s so different I haven’t changed.”
(Life’s Been Good, Joe Walsh)

Trigger warning: this post contains strong opinions, vulgarities and strong language.


 “I have a love/hate relationship with ____________. “

That’s what I would say; that’s the standard (read: worn out) phrase I might employ, were I to describe something about which I am ambivalent. Except that when it comes to the topic of literary fame and publicity, my feelings are definitely one-sided.

My loathing for such was rekindled Monday morning, as I thumbed through The Arts section of The NY Times, looking for the crossword and KenKen puzzles. [1] A full page ad opposite the puzzles trumpeted an upcoming reception celebrating the release of a new book by what I refer to as one of those TWAB POTS (scrambled acronym for Authors Who Have Started To Believe Their Own Publicity).  Here is the ad’s description for the book of what is likely to be a slim volume, given the subject matter: [2]

“______ (TWAB POTS’ name) has inspired millions with her wisdom, courage and honesty. Now she has selected 100 of her most popular and inspirational quotes for ______ ( pretentiously terse book title), a new volume she calls a “book of yes.”


I keep a barf bag close at hand, because you never know.

I keep a barf bag close at hand, because you never know.


“A book of yes.”



Really – and, dang! Yet another of my working titles stolen. So now I have to call my collection of 100 of my most obscure and disheartening quotes, A Book of, Fuck No, What The Hell Were You Thinking?!”

Yet again, I digress.




The ad further informed me that I may “hear the NY Times best-selling author discuss the twists and trials of her remarkable life” – an offer I shall decline, given my suspicions that author’s twists and trials have been somewhat calculated so as to procure book contracts.

Okay; I could be off-base about that previous opinion. But one thing I know for sure is that it is not good for one’s sense of self to voluntarily or otherwise [3] be subject to fawning adulation – no matter what the reason and no matter what your profession.

Honestly, how truly wise and courageous is it to allow yourself to be hyped for your wisdom, courage and honesty?

Our society revels in gleefully harping on the pomposity and egomania of celebrities. I am no exception, and oft mourned in this space what I see as the celebritization of authors.  Surrounded by such public relations horse manure hyperbole, how does or can you maintain a sense of perspective and modesty re your place in the larger world?

Fortunately (and, obviously), in my case, that question has never been put to the test. Still, were I to show up at a reading of one of my books and see a larger-than-life head-shot of me [4] on a banner, accompanied by a description of how my remarkable life and writing has inspired millions, no Sharpie ®  would go uncapped in my efforts to bring the proceedings down to earth.


Something like this, only even less mature.

Something like this, only even less mature.

*   *   *

The Return of the Asshat

Trigger warning: this post contains opinions, language and pictures that may be offensive to people who watch reruns of Hee Haw and sigh, Now, that’s entertainment!


Let’s say you are a corporate CEO who employs a stable of intelligent and accomplished engineers. Do you utilize their technical experience and skills to find and/or create sources of renewable energy, or upgrade devices to remove pollutants from the air we all breathe…or maybe just design a more energy efficient window defroster?


VW = Veracity-Free Weasels

VW = Veracity-Free Weasels


Nah. You use them to cheat : Volkswagen Emissions Scandal Widens

You pay them to find a way to break the law and thus facilitate even more spewage of toxins into the atmosphere. [5]

Volkswagen, this Asshat of the Week award is for you.



*   *   *

Department of Non Sequitur Segue to a Smoky Wee-wee Anecdote

Trigger warning: smoky wee-wee anecdote.


Dateline: First Day of Fall, out for my morning walk. Passing through a certain neighborhood, I noticed the air smells like what I can only imagine a bucket of piss would smell like if you put in under the lid of one of those BBQ smoker contraptions.

Not the autumnal aroma I was hoping for.


BBQ lovers, pull up a seat, urine for a treat.

BBQ lovers, pull up a seat, urine for a treat.


*   *   *

Trigger warning: If you think phrases like “trigger warning” should be posted before strongly worded or controversial opinions, you shouldn’t be reading any blogs and definitely should not be browsing the internet.


Son K is (re) taking up fencing (he and his sister, Belle, took a fencing class many, many years ago). He has signed up for a couple of trial session with a local fencing academy, wherein one can drop in on ongoing classes. He returned home Tuesday night, after the first session, and said that although the class he attended is listed as for adults, at age twenty-two he seemed to be one of the elder class members.

When I asked if that bothered him, K smiled wryly and replied that it didn’t.  At  6 ‘3″+ he was one of the taller students in the class; thus, his reach far exceeded that of his kiddie opponents, most of whom were longtime students, obviously more experienced and skilled than he. K confessed to taking petty pleasure from sparring with the younger, shorter fencers, because at some point he’s just reach his blade over the top of their heads and, to use his sound effect, bop.


Here come de bop.

Here come de bop.

*   *   *

Trigger warning: I really like saying bop.

I wonder if Little Bunny Foo Foo can be adapted for the scenarioI have going through my head?

You’re singing it now, admit it.


Little bunny foo foo, fencing through the forest....

Little bunny foo foo, fencing through the forest….


*   *   *

Trigger warning: Giddyap, boy, head for the hills while you can – that crazy ass cowboy plans to stuff you and put you in his museum!



*   *   *

May you enjoy more than your share of petty pleasures,
may your life be trigger-warning free,
and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!



[1] Which the NYT oh-so-conveniently prints side-by-side on the same page, for us puzzle lovers.

[2] Insert hissing sound effects.

[3] I assume an author of her ilk has some input if not total approval of her own PR.

[4] For which you will never find me posing.

[5] Is this the fifth footnote? What a letdown.

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 Toast I’m Not Serving

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I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time’.
So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.
~ Steven Wright ~

*   *   *

If This Catches On, Our Culture Is Toast

Its’ a Thing, apparently. And, like with so many Things, I’m far from the first to catch on.  It’s Artisanal toast.

Yes, the apocalypse is at the gates and I’m in my sweatpants.


*   *   *

Yet Another New Thing
Aka Department of
Pack it in, Pack it out

Content warning: a lotta shit-talking ahead

Last Sunday MH and I hiked the Angel’s Rest trail in the Columbia Gorge. I was thrilled to see my first trillium of the season…


…and then I was not-so-thrilled to see the first of what would be many, many, many, plastic  baggies by the side of the trail, their lumpy shape indicating they were filled with what my father genteelly [1] used to refer to as dog dirt.

This seems to be a new thing with People Who Take Their Dogs Hiking.® The optimistic part of me [2] would like to think that the owners, hiking uptrail when Rover does his business, place Rover’s doggie doody bag in a spot they think they will remember and intend to retrieve the bag on their way downtrail.


Oh, sure, I trust ’em all to remember the exact spot on the trail where they left their dog’s bag, among the 523 bags left by the hikers before them.

Doggie-waste collection bags used to come in two shades: black, or very dark green. Perhaps on the advice of a Poop bag PR firm (which, I imagine, proposed that having a different colored bag will allow you to spot it more easily along the trail or hillside), the bags now come in a variety of colors. As MH and I ascended out of the fern-filled forest, past Coopey Falls and up to a ridge crest which offered a spectacular Gorge view, our view of the trail itself included

* pale pink poop bags
* purple poop parcels

* fuscia feces fetchers
* tangerine turd totes
* shadow  blue shit bags
* strawberry stool satchels
* burgundy buttload bundles
* cream crap carriers


I’m glad (at least some) dog owners are bagging their furry friend’s feces instead of leaving it for other hikers to slip on/trip over (although we did see some free range dog turds). Still, why don’t they just take the bags with them?  If you’re one of those dog-hikers who doesn’t, because you think hiking while swinging a sack o’ shit would ruin your Nature Experience ® or whatever your reason is, please consider the experience of the your fellow outdoor lovers who are subject to the sight of your litter.

I spotted several hiking couples who carried their babies with them in backpacks. With the way my mind works, I began to wonder: why don’t they do the same as the dog owners? [3]  As a veteran parent of two long-ago-housebroken-children-now-young-adults, I remember the prodigious poop production of infants.  Yet I didn’t see any baby diapers, solo or bagged, on or near the trail.

I did see one Responsible Dog Owner, © whose dog wore one of those vests that have pockets and/or clip on gadgets which allowed the dog to carry its own poop bag.

Attention, puppy possessors who simply must take your faithful canine companions on the hiking trail:

First of all, make sure your dog actually enjoys hiking and is up to it.  Those of you who take along your foo-foo yipsters  and other petite breeds [4] – do you realize that:

(1)  not all dogs enjoy or have been bred for hiking;
(2)  your legs are four times as long as theirs;

(3)  as your dog struggles to keep pace with you, we who approach you on the trail can see the miserable, winded look on your dog’s face, that you apparently can’t (or choose to ignore)?

And second of all, most of all, get and use one of those Turd Tote [5] vests for your dog.


The rest of us nature lovers will appreciate it, so much so that we will serenade you with a special version of the hiker’s anthem, The Happy Wanderer Song:

♫ I love to go a-wandering,
 Along the mountain track,
 My dog’s with me, and he’ll carry,
 His crapsack on his back.  ♫

C’mon, all you Girl Scout and Boy Scout dropouts – join in on the chorus:

♫  Val-deri,Val-dera, Val-deri,
His crapsack on his back  ♫

*   *   *

Department of Well, That’s a First

The song I woke up to Sunday morning that was playing in my head – I have previously blogged about my mind’s propensity for earworms – was the Ramones’ The KKK Took My Baby Away. Which is, aptly enough, from their album Pleasant Dreams.

*   *   *

Department of What Could Be Better for Your Brain Than Earworms

Reading this, that’s what:

It’s Time To Fight Religion:
Toxic Drivel, Useful Media Idiots, And The Real Story About Faith And Violence.

In this searing opinion piece for salon.com, The Atlantic contributing editor and Russia correspondent  Jeffrey Tayler rips news outlets and religious apologists and other a new one for their “misguided notions of tolerance” in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders. Tayler takes these “unwitting recidivist useful idiots” to task for evincing more political correctness than guts when it comes to defending – even understanding – the need for questioning and truth-telling in a free society.

“We need to turn the tables and refuse to let the faith-based or their smooth-talking accomplices set the terms for debate; refuse to cower before the balderdash term Islamophobia; refuse to let faith-mongering fraudsters, from the Pope in the Vatican to the pastor down the street, educate our children or lecture us on morals or anything else. If we do not believe the Bible is true or the Quran inerrant, we need to say so, loudly, clearly and repeatedly, until the “sacred” sheen of these books wears off. And it will.”

And if you enjoy that thought-provoking religion smack down, check out another article by Tayler. This one is about how the assumption that the so-called “Good Book” is actually good– i.e., that the Jewish and Christian scriptures offer nice, morally uplifting and instructional stories and firmly proclaim temperance and chastity – rests on grossly false premises. Also, the article’s title should be worth some kind of journalism award:

The Bible should be X-rated:
The Good Book is loaded with sexy sin – someone tell Mike Huckabee.

Indeed, someone tell Mike Huckabee. Tell him something. Anything.

*   *   *

Department of One More Shot

While I’m on the subject of Hucka-dissing, let’s say you somehow survived years of intellectual deprivation and traumatic brain injuries and thus have decided that Huckabee is your dude for the Republican presidential nomination.  Setting aside his platform of theocracy pandering, LGBT fear-mongering, sexually active women-bashing, science-denying, anti-choice, mandatory pregnancy-supporting and other unmedicated, Fox News-parroting, mythomaniac political positions, consider this:

Would you want This Great Land of Ours © to be led by someone who’s name brings to mind a chain of eateries whose greatest contribution to American food culture (read: the obesity/Type II diabetes epidemic) is their $13.99 “riblet” special?

"Casual, arterial and colon clogging dining since 1980."  (Not their official slogan)

“Casual, arterial and colon clogging dining since 1980.” (Not their official slogan)


*   *   *

Department of Let’s Think of Helpful Things For a Change

Panhandlers, and the frustration faced by most good-hearted people: to give or not to give? Actually, for me it’s easy. After doing volunteer work with the people who were professionals in the helping profession – experienced, non-starry eyed workers with the homeless and people living “on the edge” – I follow their advice.

Do not give cash. By doing so you may give yourself one minute of warm fuzzies, but true compassion does not abet or enable. Your money will most likely be going toward addiction of some kind (from nicotine to alcohol to meth to heroin and back again [6]), or you are funding one scam or another and some you’d never thought of.

Let’s say the guy asking for change says he’s doing so because he’s hungry. On the off chance he really is hungry, if you’ve the time, head for the nearest food cart or deli or corner mart and bring him back a burrito or a sandwich or a salad or ___. [7]  But most of us don’t have the time – we’re on our way to work or an appointment or whatever.

So. If you care about such things, tonight or some night soon, when you’re binge watching your latest BBC series, start to put together a Panhandler Kit.  Make a list of what you need for such a kit – some of the items you may already have around the house (we always keep a supply of Max tickets on hand), and some may take a little searching out. You may think of more additions, but here is the very basic kit I keep in my purse.


Panhandler kit:
* All day public transit tickets
* Meal vouchers for local soup kitchens (Sisters of the Road (Portland Area)
* lists of social services in your area (organizations that provide meals, shelter, showers, food, clothing, health and employment assistance – google them, make a document that can be printed out and scaled down to a wallet-sized card)

All items can fit in a business card holder-style wallet, or an envelope you reserve for that purpose. When solicited by a street person, kindly reply that no, you do not have/are unable to offer spare change, but…** and you remove your kit from your purse, pocket, backpack.

** In this day and age I do feel compelled to add “if you feel safe to do so.” Of course, you must use your judgment as to the wisdom of stopping and speaking with someone who gives off dangerous and/or unstable vibes. I, for example, would hesitate to engage a Klingon panhandler.


Klingon panhandler

*   *   *


 May all of your encounters, on the streets or the trails, be turd-bag free and worthy of the artisanal fad food of your choice, and  may the hijinks ensue.


Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!




[1] He had not-so-genteel words, which he reserved for yelling through the kitchen window when he spotted people who walked their dogs and let them poop indiscriminately on other people’s lawns and sidewalks and – on one infamous (in my family, at least) occasion – on our garden hose.

[2] Yeah, the same part that would like to think Pol Pot had been bullied on the playground and was not merely or intrinsically evil.

[3] I actually began to plan my next guerilla art project: get disposable diapers, fill them with a lumpy substance, tie them neatly, take them along on our next hike and leave them next to dog poop bags.

[4] I’m talking to you, Pomeranian people, and also to owners of the other short-nosed, flat-faced, Brachycephalic breeds which are prone to respiratory distress and/or low endurance (e.g. pug, bulldog, boxer, chihuahua, shih tzu).

[5] Not the official name. But it would be, if I were the Marketing Queen.

[6] Or just to staying on the street and not seeking alternatives if you’re making enough by panhandling to get by.

[7] I’ve done this many times, and have shared stories with others who’ve done the same. The reactions from the food recipients clue you in as to whether the request was sincere. My favorite honest response: “Yeah, I was hungry, but for A BEER.”

The Bucket I’m Not Listing

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I don’t have a Bucket List ® .  I do have, in the dusty corners of my mind, a file of some things I want to do before I die…but not right before I die. That is, I don’t want to do them, and then die.

One of them is to form a retro, San Francisco-style psychedelic band – doing covers of Jefferson Airplane, Strawberry Alarm Clock, and Iron Butterfly songs.  We’ll call ourselves Acid Reflux. [1]


*   *   *

Speaking of hallucinogens…

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, an evangelical Christian and son of a Baptist preacher, regularly references his reliance on and so-called relationship with his god and has used his political platform to promote his beliefs. This has led to “The cutest press release we’ve ever issued”, according to FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaynor, which refers to the “genius action by one of our members” as per following story.

 In January Gov. Walker told a group of Wisconsin bankers that he will only run for president if he felt “called” to run. His many statements about how he feels instructed by his deity to make political decisions include his statement to the Madison Christian Business Association that by the age of 13 Walker had “…realized “I’m going to trust in you, Christ, to tell me where to go.” [2] Since Walker has taken the steps prospective candidates take in launching a presidential bid, one can assume that Walker feels instructed by his god to run for president.


Thus, a cheeky Wisconsin state member of the Freedom From From Religion Foundation felt called by the forces of reason and rationality to file an open records request as per the state’s Public Records Law:

“Since your terms as Governor, please provide a copy/transcript of all communications with God, the Lord, Christ, Jesus or any other form of deity.”

Despite the fact that the various incarnations of the Christian deity [3] have rarely if ever seemed to be press-shy – at least if you count the actions of their followers – the governor’s staff admitted there is no evidence for governor-deity consultation. The official response to the records request came from the Office of the Governor’s legal counsel, which confirmed that no such records exist.

I'm shocked – shocked, I tell you – by this revelation!

I’m shocked – shocked, I tell you – by this revelation!

*   *   *

But wait – there’s more!

The Christian deity may be press-shy for a mere governor, but for renowned astrophysicist and Hayden Planetarium Director and Cosmos host, Neil deGrasse Tyson ? Oy vey and fire away:

Interviewer NGT: “God, it’s great having you on StarTalk, I’ve been after you for a couple of years to do this, you finally made some time in your busy schedule, so thanks.”

God: “It’s my pleasure, I’m a big fan, Neil. May I call you Neil?”

NGT: “Neil is fine.”

God: “Would you be willing to actually kneel?”

NGT: “Uh, there’s no ‘k’ in my name. And the answer’s no.”

You can listen to more of Neil’s Conversation with God here, on the podcast StarTalk Radio.

god cartoon

*   *   *

Department of Is it Equanimity, or is it Valium?

Wednesday night, circa dinner time, making a last minute run to the nearest market to pick up some I-forgot-these items, I spotted a man walking up and down the aisles of the store, accompanied by his (presumed) daughters, guestimated ages 6 and 3. The three year old was totally losing her shit; daddy remained calm, with an almost disturbingly serene smile on his face, despite being the recipient of many lasered, why won’t he do something about that? stares from unsympathetic adults.

I’d like to take this moment to thank Belle and K for being such relatively easy kids to raise. No matter what they did at home, they mostly held it together in public places.

Laissez les bons temps rouler.

Laissez les bons temps rouler.

*   *   *

Department of Simple Pleasures

I love being able to use my MS Word Add Words To Your Spell Check Dictionary feature for terms like “wedgie.”

*   *   *

Department of How You Know When It’s Time to Quit

but it looks so glamorous when the rock stars do it....

but it looks so glamorous when the rock stars do it….

Dateline: Monday morning, ~ 6:58 am, out for my morning Nordic walk. I detected an unfortunately familiar scent on the cool morning breeze, my head instinctively if disgustingly turning toward the direction of the smell, to confirm that it was yet another  of another husband/wife banished to the porch/garage for their morning nicotine fix.  This time it was a man, slouched on a lawnchair on his front porch, wearing tennis shoes and a too-small (his wife’s?) pink terrycloth robe.

The robe looked nothing like this.

The robe (and the man) looked nothing like this.

The very next (Tuesday) morning, the very same smell, the very same turn of my head, only it’s a double turn, as in double take.  This time, it’s a woman at the same house, sitting in the same chair on same porch, and she’s wearing the same ratty pink robe. She takes a deep drag on her fag and I’m thinking, ah, how cute, it’s the shared smoking robe.

Wednesday morning – nah. I took a different route.  I was a smidge curious (would there be a third wearer of the smoking robe?), but, there are so few mysteries left in life….

smoking jacket

*   *   *

Department of I Still Can’t Get Over This

The past few years…decades…have shown us that far too many [4] Republican legislators have an obsession with women’s reproductive systems. Surprisingly—NOT – these same lady-business-is-my-business conservative whackadoodles  seem to have little understanding of how the human body is constructed and actually functions.  Time and time again, their rhetoric indicates they wouldn’t know an actual female reproductive system from the proverbial hole in the ground.

The GOP's Va-jay-jay patrol.

The GOP’s Va-jay-jay patrol.

Latest pathetic example: State Rep. Vito Barbieri (R – Idaho) apparently thinks a woman’s stomach is connected to her vagina.


Really. I may be a fiction writer but I can’t make up shit like this.

Whhile questioning a physician who was testifying against an Idaho State house anti-abortion bill, Representative aren’t-you-glad-my-salary-is-paid-by-my-constituent’s-tax-dollars Barbieri, whose intellect is evidently only rivaled by Idaho’s famous potatoes, asked the doctor  “if women could simply swallow a camera in order for doctors to perform remote gynecological exams.”


I’m going to suggest Rep. Barbieri simply use a suppository camera so neurologists can perform a remote scan of his brain.

*   *   *

He no play-da-game. He no make-a-da rules!
(variously attributed to several politicians and/or public officials, referring to the Pope’s stricture against contraception)


May you only play the games where every player agrees to the rules,
and may the hijinks ensue.


Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!



[1] Go ask Alice, when she’s ten feel tall.

[2] As quoted in Freethought radio broadcast

[3] Yahweh, Jehovah, Jesus, Jesus Christ, The Holy Ghost,

[4] The correct number of legislators would be zero.

The Riposte I’m Not Stifling

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Department of I Just Didn’t Want To Go There

Dateline: Tuesday, on my morning walk.  Three blocks from home, I turned a corner and detected the stench of tobacco.  Fifty feet ahead of me, holding a lit cigarette in his hand, a boy who looked to be about 14 years old was checking a curbside mailbox.  As I crossed to the other side of the street to avoid walking through his smoke, the boy turned around to look at me. He gestured at my Nordic Trekking poles and called out:

“Why are you ski-walking?” 

“Because it’s more fun than regular walking,” I replied.

I’d stifled the riposte that sprang to my petty little mind – Why are you smoking? – but as I continued toward home, I found myself wondering, what if I hadn’t?  What would have been his reply?

“Because it’s more fun than regular breathing.”


*   *   *

Diamonds Are Forever [1]
But Porcelain Crowns Last Twenty Years, If You’re Lucky

 Aka, Department of Causing Your Dental Hygienist to Declare
“In All My Years, I’ve Never Heard That Answer Before.”

For some reason, Sean Connery had entered the rinse-and-spit conversation [2] between the dental hygienist and moiself.  A brief discussion of James Bond movies ensued as we waited for the dentist to finish up with a patient in the adjoining room.  The hygienist said she liked the Connery-era films but was not a fan of Roger Moore in the role. I told her I’d never been a much of a Bond movie fan, until the easy-on-the-eyes Daniel Craig was cast in the role.

When the dentist entered the room we exchanged our usual jest-filled chit-chat before he lowered the exam chair and began his inspection of my cheap whiskey and fine Cuban cigar-stained chompers pearly whites. [3]

“So, how are things going?” he asked. “Any complaints about your teeth?”

I raised myself up on one elbow, grinned at the hygienist and said, “Only that Daniel Craig hasn’t licked them.”

"About those fluoride applications...."

“About those fluoride applications….”

*   *   *

Department of, If You Have to Ask…

So, what do you do?

I’ve never liked that question, when used as part of an introduction or conversation starter, and try not to ask it myself when speaking with a new acquaintance.  One of the many things I’ve noticed and enjoyed in my [4] travels abroad is that Other Peoples of the World ®  (i.e., not Americans) don’t care so much what you “do” – they’d rather hear about who you are in terms of where you choose to live, where you’ve been and where you’d like to be (travel-wise), and what you think about _____ (insert favorite political or cultural interest).

Also, there’s the published author thing.  If I answer the what-you-do question truthfully, I often receive some chunk of cringe-worthy (and totally unjustified) adulation –   “OMG, you’re an AUTHOR!” [5] – accompanied by obsequious expressions of admiration…or, worse, the “Really!? That’s fantastic; you know, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Maybe you’d like to look at some of my story ideas?”

Friend/fellow writer SCM has suggested I answer the WDYD question with, “I’m an editor.”  Which would be a deflection but not technically a lie (I do edit my own work).

And now, the anecdote:

Last Saturday MH and I participated in an educational and tree-planting volunteer event at Jackson Bottom Wetlands.  Volunteers were divided into six units and given name tags stamped with a picture of our unit’s “mascot” – one of the many animals that can be found at the JB wetlands.  MH and I were sorted to unit #2, the Canada Goose group, which I accepted after some mild grumbling about the irony of having the mascot of the #2 group be the planet’s most prolific producer of…well… #2.

"You got a problem with that?"

“You got a problem with that?”

As we trudged over the muddy wetland trails on our way to the tree-planting area, a woman in our group made small talk with MH and I. She volunteered the fact that she is an OR nurse at a local hospital, then asked, “So, what do you do?”

Using my oft-times-literalist interpretation, I replied, “When?”

She looked at me blankly.

“Well, at this moment I’m volunteering at the….”

“No, I mean, as in work.  For money.”

I momentarily considered using my friend’s suggestion, but our fellow volunteer seemed nice and level-headed, and I bailed. “I’m a writer.”

Her eyes lit up like a venti-chugging lemur.

Kind of like this.

Kind of like this.

“A writer!? she gasped.  “What kind of writer?”

“Mostly fiction.”

“Are you famous?”

(Ay yi yi). “Are you?” I replied.

Her blank look resurfaced.

“You know – when you walk into the OR, do the other people there say, ‘I know her!’ ”

"If that woman is famous, the terrorists have won."

“If that woman is famous, then truly, the terrorists have won.”

*   *   *

Department of Bright Ideas

The Brights are an international internet constituency composed of individuals who have a naturalistic worldview.  This is the organization’s logo:


Their motto: “Illuminating and elevating the naturalistic worldview.”

I was stuck for pumpkin-carving inspiration this Halloween, until I got a Bright Idea.  I emailed a picture of my creation to the directors of The Brights, along with my best wishes for a “Happy Halloween from a Bright (if not so talented) jack-o-lantern carver.”

"Illuminating the natural world...and the porch, for trick-or-treaters."

“Illuminating the natural world…and the porch, for trick-or-treaters.”

*   *   *

My Work Here is Done

On Wednesday I received the following email from daughter Belle:

“Happy post-election day!
Don’t forget to set your clocks back 40 years in honor of the new senate!”

While we’re on the subject, the following is suitable for a few laughs, even if not quite SFW:

*   *   *


May your teeth be white and your celebrations Bright, and may the hijinks ensue.


 Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!



[1] The last of the original James Bond films to star Sean Connery.

[2] As in, is he still alive, or what?

[3] Which, while neither whiskey nor cigar-stained, are not even close to being pearly white. In case you were wondering.

[4] Comparatively or relatively few (at least, compared to some people I know).

[5] Sometimes accompanied by squeals of excitement. Really. The squealing…it’s just…embarrassing.

The Pedi I’m Not Curing

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Eat, Hike, Kayak.


Make that eat, hike, eat, kayak, eat, hike, eat, go crabbing, kayak, eat, walk along the beach. And did I mention, eat?

This week marked the end of Part I of MH’s and my sabbatical.  We spent four plus weeks at Manzanita, Oregon.  Disneyland, schmisneyland – Manzanita is, for me, (arguably) The Happiest Place on Earth.

Admiring MH's mussels, during a beach hike.

Admiring MH’s mussels, during a beach hike.

My time spent there was invigorating, relaxing, refreshing and reflective.  Unfortunately, despite my opening riff on a certain popular soul-searching/self-discovery title of a few years ago, there will be no book proposal arising from my experiences.

Alas, I am not a self-absorbed thirty-something woman seeking spiritual and emotional clarity after a nasty divorce.

( Y’all know the title to which I refer; it rhymes with Bleat, Bray, Shove. In 2006-2008 TSA employees detained any woman over the age of 21 who intended to board an airplane without carrying a copy of that book ).

Nor I am the local literary darling whose own spiritual-journey-memoir-flavor-of-the-month-book is soon-to-be-a-major-motion-picture. Nope, I am not a woman devastated by loss who seeks deliverance from her dubious personal choices (promiscuity; drug abuse; the belief that using a symbolic surname as your non de plume confers hipness) via a solo wilderness trek.

I just don’t have that hook – in literary biz terms, some scandal-worthy and/or titillating personal details – which would give me a “promotable platform.” What I do have is a picture of a beautiful place MH and I stopped for lunch during our beach hike from Cannon Beach to Humbug Point. Okay, the tip of MH’s banana is visible in the picture – this is my nod to titillating.


*   *  *

Department of What Being Married to Me Has Done To Him

I was informing MH of my upcoming schedule in the 1.5 days we have before we travel again, this time, to attend a family wedding. When I told him I planned on treating moiself to a pedicure, MH wondered aloud if that meant my feet would be subject to the ministrations of a pedifile?

Wanna see my BIG toe, little girl?

Wanna see my BIG toe, little girl?

*   *   *

Previews of Coming Attractions

While attending the Harvest Festival of Manzanita’s Community Garden, MH and I signed up for a trial paddling session with the Nehalem Bay Tiderunners, a local branch of the Wasabi dragon boat paddling club of Portland.  Newbies interested in learning about dragon boats joined the Tiderunner veterans in paddling a dragon boat up and down the Nehalem River one cool/gray Saturday morning.  I wish I had a picture of the curious seal whose bobbing head followed the boat during several practice runs.

The dragon boat paddling stroke is different from the kind of paddling one does in the recreational kayaking I have been doing for years.  The technique reminded me of when I participated in the Disneyland Employee Canoe Races, all those years ago.

MH and I had so much fun we stayed for a second session. I’d been considering joining a dragon boat team ever since I first saw several teams practicing in the Willamette River, but I’d always had scheduling conflicts with the various teams’ practice schedules (plus, there’s the drive to Portland and back).  This year, with the looming sabbatical travel, I didn’t want to make any kind of commitment I could not keep…. but when my schedule calms down, I’ll try to find a boat crew that will accept me. You have been warned.


*   *   *

Department of Trying To See Who’s Paying Attention

MH alerted me to an upcoming volunteer opportunity at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve.  We both separately filled out online volunteer application forms for the event. The form’s first blanks requested first name, middle name, and title.  The form’s title options consisted of  Dr., Jr., Mr., Mrs., Ms., None, Sr.

Harumpf.  There was no option for me to choose or write in my preferred title: N.a.D[1]  Mature person that I am, I accepted the slight. There was, however, a fourth name-related blank: “preferred name, (nickname, etc).” All righty.  I typed, Boutros Boutros Ghali.

A couple of days after completing our application forms, MH and I received identically worded emails – except for the salutation –  [2] from the Volunteer Coordinator. Here was mine:

Hi Boutros Boutros Ghali,
Thank you for volunteering at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve....

*   *   *

Just Because…

Oui, c'est vrai, je suis belle.

Oui, c’est vrai, je suis belle.

 Sometimes we all need to look at a proud & pretty Parisian Pigeon.

*   *   *

May your paddling stroke efficiently propel the dragon boat of your heart (sorry; I’ve been refining my treacle-laden wedding toast), [3] and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!



[1] Which stands for, Not a Doctor.  You knew that, I know you did.

[2] His began, Hi _____ (his first name). Can you believe that?

[3] Which may lead to more footnote-worthy stories in next week’s blog.

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