I’ve seen this announcement before, and so have you. Substitute the names of your cousins, your friends… perhaps even you and your spouse,  in the following traditional announcement. One simple/terse sentence – in a mere nine words, are the volumes of centuries of erasure:
Prince Harry and the former Megan Markel are married.
He is what he is.
She is what she was.
* * *
Department Of, Like There’s Anything Wrong With That?
Although Christian radio hosts are not known for observations having anything to do with reality, I certainly hope that that one is true. Those are three adjectives (which should be) applicable to any woman whose IQ exceeds her hat size.
* * *
Department Of Music I Would Be Listening To If I Were In College 
Male-type folk who don’t quite understand women’s rage re being female in this world: listen to Nameless Faceless, and imagine having the realizations and experiences to compose the song’s chorus:
I wanna walk through the park in the dark Men are scared that women will laugh at them I wanna walk through the park in the dark Women are scared that men will kill them I hold my keys Between my fingers
* * *
Department Of If This Surprises You, You Need To Get Out More Often
Dateline: early this week. After her college graduation and in preparation for her summer job, daughter Belle, while driving me to help her do some errands, tells me about having recently had the oil in her car changed. She bemusedly recounts how the Young Oil Change Guy ® made a really, really big deal  when he saw her car, because (in his opinion) Belle is the rare “girl who drives a stick shift.”
Belle and I laugh, and share a mother/daughter bonding moment: Dude, it’s just a skill…that involves using one hand and one foot, and no dicks.
* * *
Department Of I Still Can’t Quite Wrap My Brain Around The Fact That They Still Say This Shit In 2018
Re: a friend describing the recovery of her sister-in-law, who recently had a stroke: She actually was able to make bacon this morning for breakfast….
My first thought – which I managed to (mostly) keep to moiself:
This is progress !?!
A lifetime of bacon consumption probably contributed to her stroke.
* * *
Department Of You Must Admit The Resemblance Is Striking
Dateline: earlier this week, walking back to our Manzanita beach house, from a grocery store. I am wearing my ubiquitous hat, an Outdoor Research Seattle Sombrero. A car pulls over to park by the market; a woman and two young boys, maybe four and six years old, emerge from the car. As I pass by them the younger boy excitedly calls out,  “Mama, that’s a cowboy – Mama, that’s a cowboy!”
Who wouldn’t be confused?
* * *
Department Of Why This Memory Recall, And Why Now?
Dateline: twenty-three years ago, in the Liberal Protestant Church MH And I And Our Young Children Once Attended ® . 
Seemingly apropos of nothing – and of course during a silent portion of the church service – son K turned toward me with the light bulb look of sudden insight in his eyes, and declared,
Boys have penises and girls have ba-jiners!
The married couple seated in the pew in front of me turned around, and graced me with matching, good-humored, raised-eyebrow expressions. I smiled in return and said,
* * *
May you never be referred to as the former; May you listen to music as if you were in college; May you always be a cowboy in a young child’s eyes; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 Please tell me you didn’t…or that you did, but you regret it.
 But I’m soooo no longer in college…and yet, I’m listening.
 With likely flirtatious undertones, I as a mother deduce.
 About me, I presume, as I was the only other person on the street.
 In what today seems like a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….
I’ve never been fond of nor impressed by Diaz’s short fiction – and haven’t read but a few of his stories because the ones I did read left the proverbial bleech taste in my mouth, due in most part to the male-female dynamic found within. His style and themes reminded me of a more contemporary, multicultural Norman Mailer (and other acclaimed alpha male writers whose work I loathed, fiction writers who used their supposed hyper-realism narrative styles to impart their own loathing for women in any roles other than as their objects of sexual desire ). Ah, but for years Diaz was the new/exotic literary sensation in town, so who was this middle-aged white lady to judge?
Having undergone sexual abuse seems particularly difficult for men to admit to; thus, my cynicism at his revelation shamed moiself. Cynicism as in, I thought that perhaps this (his essay) was his way of explaining/justifying (what I saw as) the sexism in his writing (a phenomenon too often explained/excused, for male writers, by literary “talent”  )…
But that bit o’ skepticism was not my first response to the why reveal this now?-ness of his essay. My immediate, gut reaction was, He’s laying the groundwork…. Translation: someone is going to accuse him of Metoo conduct, and this (I did what I did because of what was done to me), overtly or implicitly, will be his defense.
And shame on me for thinking that.
I kept my opinion to moiself – now, there’s an admission you won’t often hear – and was glad I did so.
Then came the story in last Friday’s New York Times, wherein Diaz was speaking at a writer’s conference:
The writer Zinzi Clemmons stood up. Without identifying herself by name, she asked Mr. Díaz about a recent essay he had published in The New Yorker detailing the sexual assault he experienced as an 8-year-old boy. She then asked why he had treated her the way he had six years prior, when she was a graduate student at Columbia….
Other accusations of his misconduct have since surfaced; Diaz resigned his position on the Pulitzer Prize board as the allegations are being investigated.
I feel bad about this; I take no joy in having my cynicism validated. I am not questioning the validity of Diaz’s report of childhood abuse. And the thing of it is, and it could be true that he abused his power over women as a direct (or oblique) result of his own history of being abused. Or, these could be separate issues. Either way, all ways, it’s just….sad.
* * *
We Interrupt The Ranting For A Moment Of Gratitude
Deep thought of the day: a rubber chicken does not, in fact, have to be made of rubber, to embody the essence of the rubber chicken.
Translation: Mere words cannot express my feeling that there is an ultimate rightness to the universe, when I am presented with evidence that some mahvelous people, when they encounter an object which reminds them of a rubber chicken, are reminded of moiself. 
Whaddya think, is she’s one of us?
* * *
We now Return To The Previously Scheduled Ranting
* * *
Department Of Yet Another Reason To Scream At A Screen Adjunct Department Of Yes, I Should (And Do) Know Better
My afternoon exercise sessions often occur around the time when the local Decades TV station runs episodes of Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In. If I am not working out to one of my exercise DVDs, I’ll tune in to the Laugh-In reruns. I’ll admit to thoroughly enjoying the retro fun of it all, including memories of watching it when it originally aired.
Can we ever forget – or forgive – the show that introduced the world to Tiny Tim?
I remember how moiself and my buddies would take turns watching Laugh-In at each other’s houses, sprawled on our stomachs on the living room floor, usually with our parents seated behind us, sitting in their armchairs, also watching the show. Our fun was enhanced by the prideful, barely stifled giggles that can only be produced by eleven-to-thirteen year olds who realized that the grownups and were laughing for different reasons (and at different times) than we were. Translation: many of the naughty jokes/double entendre‘s Laugh-In was known for– and almost all of the drug references – zoomed over our parents’ heads.
Fast forward to the present, and I am finding that for every skit or joke I enjoy and relive, I also marvel at how dated much of the show’s humor is.  What is particularly striking to me is how Laugh-In – considered ahead of its time by tweaking the customs and prejudices of society – trafficked in so much hackneyed humor that was beholden to its time, in many cases reinforcing (not critiquing) stereotypes of ethnic minorities and gays and (especially) women.
Once again, I digress.
So. The danger to television-as-backdropexercising is that I am often in the middle of, say, lifting a dumbbell when the show goes to commercial, and thus am unable to hit the remote’s mute button. The commercials for daytime TV shows can be particularly odious, as the demographic is obviously considered to be the target audience for Certain Products For Those Of A Certain Age (read: elderly/infirmity drugs and diet plans).
One particular/frequently running ad is exceptionally…oh, how can I put it? It frosts my butt. The second time I saw it  I realized, between biceps curls, that I had begun yelling at the television screen, at the two perky, formerly in shape and now chunky, E list celebrities (a former actor married to a former football player) reduced to hocking asnake oil potion enthusiastically promoting a weight loss product. With no sense of irony and a surplus of golly gee this seems too good to be true, but it is! pride, they actually recited the following dialog:
* We eat our favorite foods and still lose four times more weight!
*Nothing in your lifestyle needs to change! (as a picture of the implied favorites, foods-that-once-may-have-been-many-different-colors-but-which-now-are-all-deep-fat-fried-yellow ®, flashes by on the screen.)
And there I am, screaming at a screen, at the asinine and totally bogus “promises” repeated, again and again, about how “nothing in your lifestyle has to change….
but it’s your fucking lifestyle that got you this way in the first place — it’s that junk you’ve been eating that did this to you and but now you’re boasting that you can continue eating the same rubbish ?!?!?
And of course, the grammar cop in me is irritated by the ad’s claims that a person using the weight loss supplement can “lose 4 times as much/more weight!”
Okay…I’m waiting…but there is no follow-up. Excuse me, aren’t y’all forgetting something? “As much/more” are comparisons, and thus require comparatives.
Hold still and this won’t hurt as much.
“Lose 4 times as much/more weight!”!”As much or as moreas what, pray tell? As much as a person who’s never used the product but keeps scarfing their favorite foods faster than a hotdog-eating contest competitor on death row? More than a herd of weasels on an all-kale diet? More than twelve three-toed sloths on a treadmill?
* * *
Department Of If Only You’d Had A More Interesting Childhood
My mother once told me that she viewed cooking as the least favorite of (what she considered to be) her duties as a homemaker. Although her family never went hungry, that attitude was revealed in terms of the variety (read: not much) of dinners she served to her family. She was the target audience for the advertising mad men – the marketers whose mission was to convince 1950s – 1970s homemakers that the roles and tasks to which women were relegated were tedious and burdensome. Convenient, an adjective heretofore not associated with food, became lauded — packaged meals and prefab “food products” would save her from the drudgery that was cooking (and, these salesmen assured her, these food products were ultimately “better” – as in, more nutritious – for her family than anything she might be able to cook).
And she bought it – hook, line, and Hamburger Helper sinker.
A recent Fresh Air podcast featuring an interview with chef Chef Lidia Bastianich made me think of my childhood culinary “heritage,” such as it is.  Chef Lidia is yet another foreign born cook of humble beginnings who came to the USA and made her fame and fortune (in both the TV cooking shows, cookbooks and restaurant businesses) by presenting the cuisine and heritage of her youth to Americans.
When Fresh Air host Terry Gross asked Lidia about the ironies of serving peasant food in top-tier Manhattan restaurants, I wondered if I had missed my chance do the same. However, unlike Chef Lidia, moiself did not have an exotic Italian-Croatian background. What would be the peasant food of my SoCal childhood that I could make seem trendy – Tang? Cool Whip? Rice a Roni? Spaghetti-os?
With the right marketing Manhattan gourmands will pay $95 for this.
* * *
May you realize the futility of screaming at screens; May anything rubber chicken-related make you think of…someone you love;  May you maintain an embarrassed fondness for the peasant food of your youth; …and may the hijinks ensue.
As Belle prepares to graduate from college this weekend my brain has been pelting me with random memories, such as the following story (which Belle might categorize as you’re never too mature or academically successful to have your parents embarrass you.)
Belle, at her team’s “Rugby formal.”
Dateline: two years ago. MHN I have traveled to a small Southern Oregon college to attend one of Belle’s rugby games.  During the halftime break MH and I are tossing a rugby ball back-and-forth with Belle, who is showing us one of the team’s ball-handling drills. I make an errant throw to MH, who chases the ball downfield. One of the young women from a group of Belle’s teammates sitting by the side of the field looks at Belle, then at MH and moiself, and the proverbial light bulb appears above her head.
She calls out to me.
Young Rugby Woman: Hey, are you…you’re Belle’s parents?
Moiself: Indeed, we are.
YRW: Oh, I love Belle! Thank you so much for making her!
Moiself: It was our pleasure. Literally.
Belle: Moooooooom !!
Prom Rugby game. Yep, it’s self-explanatory.
* * *
Department Of Things That Would Never Happen At New Seasons
I ran over to the market closest to our house ( let’s call it Albertson’s  ), to pick up a couple of last minute items. There were two young men working in the produce department, standing beside carts loaded with boxes of lettuce and other veggies – items they were trimming and setting out on the various produce display shelves. One of the Produce Guys looked up at me, noticed the looking-for-something expression on my face, and asked me if he could be of any assistance.
I thanked him, and asked where I could find the organic basil. He pointed behind himself, toward the tomatoes stand, then asked me if there was anything else he could help me find. Why yes, as a matter of fact. I’d noticed there were a plethora of golden beets on display, but I needed three bunches of red beets, and there was only one. Mighty there be more red beets in the back?
“Yeah,” Produce Guy grinned, “there’s another box of red beets in the back.” He continued to trim the lettuce from his cart. “But as you can see,” he glanced over at the Other Produce Guy, “We are in the middle of a pallet right now, so it’s going to be a while before we can get to it.”
I could see that he was busy, but why ask me if he could help me find something if he had no intention of leaving his precious pallet? My kneejerk thought was, Yeah, right – this would never happen at New Seasons. 
A rare kneejerk reaction that was spot-on. Any NS employee you ask for help will drop what they are doing to lead you to the proper aisle, or let you sample a new produce item you’re not sure about, even if they are doing something else or what you are asking about isn’t in their department.
That’s why she’s happy to spend the bulk of her shopping $$ here.
* * *
Addendum To The Previous Story
It is entirely possible that Produce Guy’s customer service fail was due to him being shocked by a heretofore unimaginable situation: someone wanted more beets.
She said she needed three bunches of beets? Nobody needsthree bunches of beets.
May you never be too old to embarrass – or take pride in – your
soon-to-be college graduate; May you experience nothing but the finest in beet-finding customer service; May there be dragon boats in your future; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 She was on the team for ~ two years – we have the ER/Urgent care bills to prove it – until injuries sidelined her.
 Where we do the bulk of our grocery shopping…for many reasons, including their awesome staff.
 Yeah, they call it that. I don’t know about you, it’s just not part of my “routine” to have someone, even Qualified Medical Professionals ® stick a tube up your butt and watch pictures of it on a monitor.
 Well, yes, a totally legitimate question, IMHO. And don’t tell me they were emotional support animals.
While the “Klingon” proverb declares that Revenge is a dish best served cold, I think that justice is best served steaming from the oven. But as that great philosopher Mick Jagger Simone de Beauvoir said, you can’t always get what you want. Keeping that in mind, last week provided quite the celebration for fans of hot dishes.
Backstory. Dateline: a long time ago in a galaxy far far away (read: Davis, California, summer, 1978). I am a student at UC Davis, and it’s a muggy eve with not much to do after my summer job shift at the library has ended. Friend and fellow student RM invites me to go with him to visit his friend, MH. MH and his girlfriend (real life working people, not students) share a studio apartment in Davis. For reasons unclear to me, RM thinks I might enjoy watching MH and his girlfriend practice for an upcoming backgammon tournament.
The apartment is small; as MH and his girlfriend set up the backgammon board they gesture to RM and I to take a seat on their bed. We do, and my heel bumps against the hard, metallic edge of something under the bed. I reach down and remove – an axe? Yep, that’s what it is – from under the bed, and tentatively hoist the rather hefty chopper over my shoulders.
Frontstory. Dateline: last week. Two days in a row, while driving On My Way To Somewhere ® and listening to the radio, I found moiself pounding my car’s steering wheel and yelling YEEEEEEEEESSSSSS !!!!! as I heard
Day 2: on a BBC World News program announcer crisply and dryly  broadcasting the news of the conviction of Bill Cosby for sexual assault.
* * *
Department Of Worlds Yet To Be Discovered
While listening to a Planet Money podcast, titled The Blue Pallet, I was once again struck by a sense of perspective-inducing humility vis-à-vis my knowledge of the universe and my place in it.
I do try to keep up with the latest discoveries in astronomy, and give a hearty cheer whenever I hear the announcement that another NASA satellite has discovered another exoplanet. But I found myself floored when I tuned in to what I expected was just another podcast, and heard the following:
We are going to bring you deep inside the pallet world…..
Why is this the first time I am hearing about a world of which I hitherto had no knowledge?
Yeah, fine, more planets, but can they find a new (and blue) pallet?
* * *
Department Of Pot, Meet Kettle
Surely, IMHO, there are few books with a more apt title than the one I just finished re-reading: And the Band Played On (20th-Anniversary Edition). Award-winning journalist Randy Shilts’ classic, hailed by many as a “masterpiece of investigative reporting,” is subtitled, Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. As for the band that played on…and on…and on…what a frustrating story, so magnificently told.
IMHO there are very few heroes in the book, other than family and friends carrying for the desperately ill and dying in such trying and confusing circumstances, and also those compassionate physicians and research scientists searching desperately for a cure. 
As for far too many of the gay rights “advocates” and almost all of the politicians and religious “leaders” back then…. Here’s my cheer for y’all:
Gimme an I, gimme a C Gimme a K, what’s that spell?
Both of those “sides” were the proverbial opposite sides of the same coin when it came to tactics of blame and denial. Time and time again, the gay rights advocates and the Christian Right  reminded me of each other, as they both clung to their ideology/party line in the face of the facts, and with seemingly little willingness to look at the faces of suffering/dying human beings.
Certain business interests,  political conservatives (read: the Reagan administration) heavily influenced by (and politically beholden to) the fear- and hate-mongering rhetoric of Jerry Falwell and his ilk, and the growing ranks of politically active Evangelicals – all ignored the alarms raised by scientists and epidemiologists (and in some cases even their own family members, who knew someone affected by AIDS or were themselves at risk).
Conservative politicians targeted public health agencies for budget cuts, and in effect stuck their fingers in their ears and sang la la la we can’t hear youat any mention of anything related to (what was considered then to be an exclusively) a health crisis affecting homosexuals. Reagan even forbid his Surgeon General from answering reporter’s questions about the epidemic.
Any concern about individual human health, as well as that of the society at large, was suffocated under a blanket of shaming/bigoted rhetoric about how AIDS was a “gay disease,” and that gays had brought “the wrath of ______( insert name of favorite deity)” down upon themselves by abandoning “traditional family values.” Meanwhile, traditional values of compassion and empathy, of caring for the weak and vulnerable – and of listening to the scientists and doctors talking about the treatment and transmission of disease – were nowhere to be found.
Imagine something, anything – a disease, or a natural disaster or a series of coal mine explosions or terrorist attacks – taking the lives of over20,000 Americans, and the President of the USA saying nothing about it.  And meanwhile, people were dying.
Then and now, the rhetoric and actions (or lack thereof) of the conservative political, business and religious communities came as little surprise to moiself. But I expected more of others.
On the other side, there were a growing number of (both gay and straight) physicians who, before they began putting the pieces together of the puzzling array of symptoms and illnesses which would come to be known as AIDS, had been saying that “something is going on/something must be done” about the alarming increase in the number and variety of diseases infecting sexually active gay men – diseases about which doctors found the afflicted to be alarmingly casual (Gonorrhea? Syphilis? Shigellosis? Hepatitis? Salmonella? And amoebic dysentery and amebiasis and giardiasis and campylobacteriosis and a variety of intestinal parasites and …?Just give me my pill/penicillin injection and I’ll see you later….).
And yet far too many gay rights advocates would broke no criticism of either the industries marketing the commodification of anonymous/promiscuous/unprotected sex (e.g., the sex clubs and bathhouses) – which were fertile grounds for both the transmission of existing diseases and the “breeding” of new ones – nor the patrons of such businesses. Those who pointed out both the psychologically numbing and physiologically deadly dangers of bathhouse-type hook ups  were seen as betrayers, and were often isolated and vilified, even (or especially) when the warnings came from those of “their own kind” (e.g. playwright and activist Larry Kramer). And meanwhile, people were dying.
“This is going to be a world-class disaster. And no one is paying attention.” Dr. Marcus Conant, dermatologist, founder of the San Francisco AIDS project, and one of the first physicians to diagnose and treat AIDS , as quoted in And the Band Played On)
* * *
Department Of Since That Was Not Exactly The Feel-Good Post Of The Year…
* * *
Department Of Reasons To Keep Your Superpowers Hidden
Dateline: a recent evening, at the dinner table, discussing with MH the Superhero movies we have yet to see. I confessed that, unbeknownst to him, my dear spouse, I have hidden something all these years: I am a Superhero.
MH (flashing a prove-it smirk) “And what is your superpower?” Moiself: “I can smell fear.” MH: ??? Moiself: “The problem is, it smells like farts.”
She who smelt it, dealt it.
* * *
May your super power be socially acceptable if not impressive; May you relish the occasion when justice is (finally) served; May the 4th be with you; …and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
* * *
 You know the conviction is real when you hear it from the mouth of a Brit.
 When some of them weren’t fighting over “first discovery” credits.
 Whose ascendency to political power – something evangelicals had long eschewed and/or held in suspicion – was in large part fueled by appeals to homophobia.
 Ronald Reagan infamously refused to say the word AIDS or even publicly acknowledge the epidemic’s existence until late in his second term. By that time over 36,000 Americans had been diagnosed with AIDS, almost 21,000 had died, and the disease had a reported 50,000 plus cases over 100 countries.
 The promiscuity so prevalent in many 19702-80s era gay (male) communities, often presented as an in-your-face reaction to the repression and stigmatization of gay relationships, reminded me of a five year old’s tantrum – a tactic admittedly effective at attention-getting, but ultimately self-defeating (“You callin’ me a perv? I’ll show you some perversion that’ll curl your hair….).
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.