Department Of The Song I Want Sung At My Wake
Dateline: December 26, circa 7 am: Thinking of the impending New Year while walking on a 27˚ morning, listening to author John Green’s latest Anthropocene Reviewed podcast, in which he discusses and “rates” the history of the song-we’re-still-singing-after-200+-years: Auld Lang Syne.
From the proverbial Out Of Nowhere ®, I realize I have tears in my eyes. Feeling the chill as the moisture emerges from my tear ducts, moiself thinks silly thoughts, ala, Are they (the tears) going to freeze my eyeballs?
♫ We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here… ♫
Sing it to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.
Those alternate lyrics come from what Green describes as “that recursive lament of British soldiers” from World War I, who were embittered by “devastating losses of the war, and the growing use of poison gas,” and also by the fact that they “…had no idea why they were fighting and dying for tiny patches of ground so far from home,” and thus did not feel much like hoisting a pint during a temporary holiday truce and singing the treacly old songs.
Although the soldiers’ transformative lyrics can be seen as “…a profoundly nihilistic song written about the modernist hell of repetition,” a writer friend of Green’s who was to die of cancer would sometimes, during public appearances, ask her audience to sing those very lyrics with her, because she saw it as a statement of hope:
“It became a statement that we are here–meaning that we are together, and not alone. And it’s also a statement that we are, that we exist, and it’s a statement that we are here, that a series of astonishing unlikelihoods has made us possible and here possible.
We might never know why we are here, but we can still proclaim in hope that we are here. I don’t think such hope is foolish or idealistic or misguided. I believe that hope is, for lack of a better word, true.
We live in hope–that life will get better, and more importantly that it will go on, that love will survive even though we will not.”
I had heard the We’re Here Because We’re Here version of Auld Lang Syne before the podcast; I knew of its origins and had always appreciated (what *I* saw as) the lyrics’ amalgam of cynically detached optimism…but this time, Green’s simple yet eloquently narrative helped me to realize how fittingly and succinctly those lines illuminate moiself’s philosophy of life (if moiself can be said to have one, and I guess moiself just did).
The past year in particular, with its legacy of devastating losses for beloved friends,  has further increased my desire to be more mindful of the present – to celebrate and appreciate what we have in the simple and random fact of our existence in this phase of life. And what is remembered and what goes on, even after we are gone, is the love we have for others, and theirs for us.
The various fictions the priests and philosophers have cobbled together over the centuries can hold no candle to the only “for sure” we know: the reality that, for whatever reason, we’re here because…we’re here, and that Life Itself ® is the meaning of life. 
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Department Of Spam Of The Week
Sometimes it pays to actually read the subject matter in the spam box before I select delete all, because every now and then there is a gem like this:
“Your Prostate Is The Size Of A Lemon.”
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Department of Epicurean Excursion 
Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi
Recipe: Black Pepper Tofu
☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼
Recipe Rating Refresher 
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Department Of It’s Not Working
Dateline: early afternoon, December 31 (aka New Year’s Eve,); a small grocery store on the Oregon Coast. The clerk recognizes me and smiles.
Clerk: Did you find everything you needed?
Moiself (pointing to the one pound sack of dried beans, among the other items in my cart): Yes. I’m *so* happy you have black-eyed peas!
Unbeknownst to the clerk, I had searched at the town’s other (bigger) grocery store, and they had no black-eyed peas of any kind – dried, canned, or frozen.
Clerk (looking at me quizzically): “You’re the second person today who was looking for black-eyed peas. Something about the new year, right?”
Moiself: “Yep. It’s a tradition in parts of the South: eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is supposed to bring prosperity and good luck in the coming year.”
Clerk: “You’re from the south?”
Moiself: “Not me. My father was from Tennessee; it was his family tradition, so I do it to honor him. His family was poor, we’re talking dirt poor…I always thought it was kinda funny, that, after all those years, neither he nor any of his siblings ever looked at the pot of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day and said, ‘Another year went by; we’re still poor and unlucky. Do we have to eat this?’”
Clerk: “Exactly!” (her laughter chimes with mine as she finishes bagging my items): “A friend of mine – she thinks I’m Asian, but I’m not  – tells me stories about all the luck rituals her Asian grandmother followed. Her grandmother would sprinkle coconut milk around the outside of her home’s entry door, every Monday, so that she would have good luck.”
Moiself: “And did her grandmother have good luck?”
Clerk (snorting with laughter): “No! Of course not! She had ants!”
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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?
This little one doesn’t get much attention – neither on the show when it aired, nor later, as per the fans’ ratings. It’s as if the show’s producers cast the youngest two Partridge family members and then didn’t know what to do with them. At least this little tambourine-wielding waif  gets a spot on our tree (which is more than moiself can say for the two different boys who played the family’s youngest son/drummer – we just didn’t think it qualified for a spot, what with two different boys playing the same do-nothing character).
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May you appreciate that you’re here because you’re here;
May the size of your girl or boy parts never be described in terms of citrus fruit;
May you have fun (and not ants) with food superstitions;
…and may the hijinks ensue.
And, Happy New Year, y’all!
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
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 Losses I have previously written about in this space, losses which are in the “children are supposed to bury their parents, and not the other way around,” category.
 A nod to Roger Ebert’s memoir, Life Itself, and, of course, Monty Python.
 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’d 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.
 I’ve heard the clerk’s name before, but could not recall it…her surname is Filipino, I think.
 In our pear tree.
 That was her job, in the band – tambourine; that’s it. And she obviously couldn’t even shake it on beat, or off beat….