Department of Just Wondering, Winter Edition
Dateline: Boxing Day (December 26), 2 pm, downtown Portland’s Keller Auditorium with MH and Belle, to see the last 2019 performance of “The Nutcracker.”
Watching the impressively limber members of The Oregon Ballet Theater as they do their pirouettes, I can’t help but wonder: when ballets are performed at locales south of the equator, do the dancers spin counterclockwise?
Added cultural bonus: Belle pointed out that one of the OBT’s principal male dancers looked like Seth Meyers.
Wished-for cultural highlight: to see The Nutcracker, or any ballet, performed by Les Ballets Trockaderos de Monte Carlo.
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Department Of If My Hamstring Muscles Are Still Sore After 36 Hours
Have I Reached Enlightenment?
“Why 108 Sun Salutations?”
“It’s an auspicious number in yoga; I know 108 sounds like a lot…”
“That’s because it is.”
Last Sunday (12/22), to celebrate the winter solstice, my yoga studio held an “Om-a-thon,” which is what Someone In Charge Of Marketing ® called an hour and a half class consisting of 108 Sun Salutations. A sun salutation, for you non-yogis, is a yoga exercise incorporating a sequence of nine or more linked asanas, or yoga poses/postures. The asanas are linked by the breath – inhaling and exhaling with each movement, and Sun Salutations involve moving from a standing position into Downward and Upward Dog poses and then back to the standing position, with many variations.
Why 108? It’s apparently an auspicious number (in the parts of the world where yoga originated), for many reasons. Non-“woo” reasons include the fact that the distance between the Sun and Earth is roughly 108 times the Sun’s diameter and ditto for the ratio of the moon’s diameter and the distance between the moon and earth – scientific realities not likely surmised when the originators of yoga decided 108 was a magic special number.
There are plenty of “woo” reasons for venerating the number 108, and the teacher leading the class mentioned a few of them: there are 108 Upanishads (a series of Hindu treatises ca. 800–200 BCE); there are 108 beads in a mala (a meditation tool, an idea early Christian/Catholic missionaries stole “adapted” from the Hinduism & Buddhism, and morphed into the Catholic rosary beads  ); there are nine planets and twelve astrological signs…9 x 12 = 108 ….
Oh, and most significantly of all, a Uno deck contains 108 cards. That’s gotta be a sign.
People who’d participated in previous year’s OM-a-thons told me it was a lot of fun, so I decided to try it this year. Indeed, it was fun. And I only spent about five seconds of the class resting in Child’s pose.
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Department Of Serves Me Right
Dateline: December 24, 10:30 am; in a Kaiser Hospital pharmacy waiting to pick up a prescription for a friend, for whom I am acting as “surgery buddy” for her outpatient hand surgery. The pharmacy is surprisingly (to moiself) hopping for a Sunday morning, and I have plenty of time for people watching while waiting for the Rx to be filled.
Moiself is noticing how casually most people, especially the men, are dressed. Read: the average Joe is a Sloppy McSlob Face.  This is not an original observation; it most likely came to my mind due to a recent rant well-thought out opinion piece I read, written by a European writer who bemoaned the tendencies of Americans to dress “down ” (e.g. as if they are sprawled in front of their TV at home) in public spaces. As I look around at my fellow Specimens of Humanity ®, I must admit that complaining dude has a point.
Then, a very dapper older gentleman takes a seat about 12 feet in front of me.
He is wearing a grey tweed suit, vest and tie, nice (but not overly fussy) black herringbone shoes, and a gray short brimmed fedora. Dapper Gent’s posture is dignified as he leans over to pick up a magazine from the end table next to his chair. This same magazine had been recently perused by one of the previously mentioned Specimens of Humanity who’d schlumped passed by the table – a Specimen whose plumber-inspired butt crack was on generous display atop his pathetic, pajama-bottoms-substituting-for-pants when he leaned over to glance at said magazine.
I admire Dapper Gent’s contribution to Public Space beautification, and allow myself a moment of smugness as I recall Complaining European Writer’s observations. I look up at the line of pharmacy clerks kiosks and wonder when my number will be called. I return my gaze to Dapper Gent, just in time to see him ever-so-slowly guide his index finger into his left nostril and dig deep, deep, and deeper, as if he is mining for precious ores.
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Department Of Petty Pleasures
Number 387 In The Series.
Daetline: Christmas Day, Powell’s Bookstore, ~ 2 pm, for our traditional Shopping-at-Powell’s-after-Christmas-Day-lunch-at-Jake’s outing. I love it, I absolutely love it, when I espy a long of patrons waiting outside the men’s, but not the women’s, restroom.
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Family friend LAH is an artist, and it shows in every aspect of her life. Come the Yule season she is known for exquisitely wrapping the presents she bestows, which are so beautifully adorned with artfully tied and arranged ribbons and bows and other accessories that Belle and K, even as young children, would stare at their respective gifts from LAH and declare, “It’s too pretty to open.”
No such declaration has ever been thought, much less uttered aloud, about any gift wrapped by moiself. The presents I give, which are chosen in all love, care, enthusiasm, and sincerity, end up looking as if they’d been wrapped by an orangutan with ADHD. It’s not that I don’t try to do better…let’s just say that my family has long joked about how you don’t need a gift tag to know if the present is from Robyn.
This Christmas morning, when MH, son K, daughter Belle, and moiself were reaching the end of our opening-presents session, I picked one of the two remaining gifts from my pile – one whose tag read “to Robyn from Santa.”  I turned the gift upside down, flashing a smug “See, I’m not the only person who does this” smile to my (now young adult) offspring, to show them how the wrapping paper didn’t fully cover the back of the gift package. Belle’s indignant/kneejerk reaction:
“Mom, did you wrap a present for yourself!?
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Department Of Stop Asking Me That
“Oh, yeah, so you all liked that Elf on a Shelf thing?”
(Misinformed persons who feel compelled to ask about all the elves
in our house during this time of year)
Much of moiself’s holiday décor, in all its tacky seasonal glory, is in homage to my mother, who died three years ago on Christmas eve. Marion Parnell loved Christmas and especially her Christmas decorations, which included the “tradition” (which her family started and mine continues) of placing certain kind of elves – the kind with small plastic, doll-like faces and bendable, felt costume clothes bodies,  all around the house.
The idea was that from any vantage point, whether you are sitting in the living room or getting a drink from the kitchen sink, an elf is casting a friendly eye upon you. Some of our elves indeed are on a shelf, but most perch atop curtains, peek out from bookcases, lurk behind candlesticks, nestle behind dishes and clocks and art and….
But, this “Elf on a Shelf” thing? Never heard of it, until recently. It is, apparently, a picture book about…honestly, I don’t know or care what it’s about. I looked it up: the book has a 2005 publication date. Neither I nor MH knew about it, nor had our two children (DOBs 1993 and 1996) grown up with EOAS as part of their kiddie lit repertoire. My extended family on my mother’s side has been putting up elves since the early 1920s, so none of this EOAS shit fruitcake feces references applies to elves on MY shelves, okay?
Y’all must excuse moiself if (read: when) I respond with a most yuletide inappropriate profanity should you mention that book to me. Actually, moiself finds it funny how much it irritates moiself when someone, after seeing or hearing about our houses elves, makes a reference to the book: such as the antique store owner last week who, when I asked if her store had any elves and began to describe what I was looking for, said, “Oh, you mean, like that book?” My customary cheerful/holiday visage darkened, and I answered her with utmost solemnity.
Like. That. Book.
Which might not be entirely accurate, seeing as how I’ve never read nor even seen the book…which may indeed be about something akin to *our* family tradition. I just want…oh, I don’t know…attribution, I suppose. WE THOUGHT OF IT FIRST, OKAY? So, stick that Elf-on-a-shelf in your Santa Hat and – I mean of course, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
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Department of Epicurean Excursion 
Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
Recipe: Lentil and Walnut Salad
☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼
Recipe Rating Refresher 
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Department Of The Partridge Of The Week
It’s that time of the year again. As has become a tradition much maligned anticipated in our neighborhood, moiself will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard.  Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?
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Department Of Simple Pleasures
Having both Belle and K home for Christmas reminds me of an old adage. Passed down by amateur philosophers over the ages, the saying endures because it is true:
( e.g., knitting;
sitting over the bathtub drain when the water runs out;
listening to the lamentation of your neighbor’s children when they discover that
someone (ahem) has stolen their front yard’s inflatable Santa decoration and replaced it
with a snowman made from 10,000 laminated oral care pamphlets
from the Pediatrics Dental Association )
ARE THE BEST.
And so it is with all sincerity that I wish y’all the simple pleasures of Happy New Year.
* * *
May your present-wrapping skills bring you wide acclaim;
May we appreciate our fellow Specimens of Humanity in all our sartorial glory;
May your simple pleasures by simply maaaahvelous;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
Jusqu’à l’année prochaine!
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 Although the Catholics halved the number to 59 beads, in perhaps an effort to claim originality or refute charges of plagiarism.
 Except of course/again the originators of such superstitions did not know there were nine planets…and now we all know (though some of us refuse to accept the fact) that there are not nine planets, but eight.
 Although, with my idea that I’m dressed up when my tie dye shirt doesn’t have any mustard stains on it, who am I to talk?
 Yes, that would be MH.
 Many of the oldest ones have a tiny Made in Japan sticker on them and date from the 1950s, or so I was told by one antique shop dealer.
 A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.
* Two Thumbs up: Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up : Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who would eat anything, would like this.
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.
 In our pear tree.