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The Challenge I’m Not Setting

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“I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and say to myself, “Well, that’s not going to happen.”
(Rita Rudner, American comedian)

Similarly to Ms. Rudner, I do read recipes/cookbooks, but in manner akin to how I watch PBS travel shows: for inspiration more than for go-there-and-then-do-this-while-you’re-there advice. I tend to peruse cookbooks as if they were novels/short story collections, more than as a set of how-tos. It is something of a garbled, quasi-literary approach: I “read” through a new cookbook to get an overall feel/feeling for whatever the author is promoting,  [1]  then I put the book down and see if MH feels like being my sous chef.

Except in baking – a culinary discipline moiself and others more knowledgeable and experienced than moiself distinguish from cooking   [2]  and where precise measurements and techniques are called for (to work the chemistry of leavened breads, for example) – I rarely cook from a recipe or follow one   [3] step-by-step, from start to finish.

Counting (and likely missing some of) the books I’ve either lent out or have transferred to another location, moiself currently has somewhere in the vicinity of 60+ cookbooks. At least that many more have been relegated to the retired list.  [4]   The other night, while reaching for the cord to plug in our Dinner Party Festive Lights, ®  I almost knocked one of the books off its shelf.  I felt a twinge of regret to see it there, teetering above the kitchen sink, the dusty volume looking bereft from my neglect.   [5]  

 

 

That was the incident which gave birth    [6] to a project I have set for moiself.

Welcome to the first edition of my Epicurean Excursion. This EE is meant to be a  recurring feature of this blog, from this week on until I complete (or tire of) it, wherein moiself will go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook one recipe from one book.

Knowing moiself, I’ll tend to treat any “rules” (even if they are totally self-defined and imposed) as guidelines. There will be time outs for travel, vacation, etc.  

What to call it?  I considered cookbook challenge, but it’s not so much a challenge I’ve set for moiself, more like…a suggestion?

Excursion
a short journey or trip, especially one engaged in as a leisure activity.
 (“an excursion to Mount Etna”)
synonyms:       trip, outing, jaunt, expedition, journey, tour;

 

EE nights will be either Monday or Tuesday; I shall catalog the experience on Friday.   Let me assure those of y’all who do not consider y’alls’ selves to be foodie fanatics, – the majority of my blog posts will continue to be devoted to my usual slavering spew thoughtful and erudite commentary on current/events/culture/feminism/politics/religion.

My EE reviews will not be extensive. There are other cooks, professional and amateur, with experiences more vast and palates more refined and adventurous than moiself – you can Google the late great chef Anthony Bourdain for his take on eating roasted warthog anus,   [7]  if that’s what poles your gondola.

 

As a matter of fact, I pole my own gondola…not that there’s anything wrong with that.

 

I’ll just tell you the name of the cookbook I used and the recipe I made, and the rating I’ve assigned to that recipe.  My eight scale rating system will be as follows:

* Two Thumbs Up:  Liked it.

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it!

* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin would like this recipe. [8]

* 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: I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

           

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion

The Inaugural Voyage
(chosen by luck of alphabetical listing in which titles beginning with a number go first),

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

 

15 Minute Vegan, by Katy Beskow

Recipe: Smoky Chickpea Soup

I’m a sucker – a slurper, more accurately – for any soup or stew with a mélange of Moroccan/Mediterranean spice flavors, and this one was a sensory delight.

My rating:  Two Hamster Thumbs Up!

 

 

Mere words cannot describe how bang-on  [9] delighted I am to be able to use that rating for my first outing with this project.  But words aren’t necessary when you have a picture of hamster thumbs.

 

*   *   *

May you find a reason to enjoy some classic Rita Rudner standup routines[10]
May you never take your I’ll try anything once motto or reputation so seriously that
you find yourself eating roasted warthog anus;
May life favor you with an abundance of Two Hamster Thumbs Up experiences;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] A specific cuisine; their family recipe collection; the Netflix cooking show deal they hope to land….

[2] It sometimes gets simplified into cooking = art and baking = science or cooking vs. science…although that distinction tends to imply an adversarial relationship, and there is much overlap between the two.

[3] Except for those I’ve written down moiself, after learning to at least try to do so on a regular basis, after having made something yummers and then trying to recall what was it that I did?

[4] As in, permanently given away, or recycled (think: Goodwill store), due to issues of space or just lack of interest or relevance. For example, a plant-eater don’t need no Barbecuing Big Beef Bones tome.

[5] Yes, books can have facial expressions, and other human attributes as well. They have spines, don’t they?

[6] Fortunately, without the cursing which accompanied the births of my two children.

[7] No matter how much I wish I’d made that up, I didn’t.  See a previous blog post, The Delicacy I’m Not Sampling, about Bourdain’s NPR interview in which he described that experience.

[8] Kevin, a character from The Office, would eat just about anything.

[9] Irish slang for very much, spot on, or accurate.

[10] Especially those that deal with marriage/family life.  Sample: Rudner’s take on being child-free and trying to understand babies; specifically, the atrocious noise a friends’ newborn son makes – a raucous cry her friend explains away with, He’s hungry :  “I thought, that’s the noise he makes when he’s hungry? He’d better pace himself. What kind of noise is he going to make when he gets audited?”

The New Year I’m Not (Yet) Reflecting Upon

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Department Of New Year, Same Old Mouth

Dateline: January 1: MH and I did a First Day Hike. Never heard of the FDH program?  Put it on your calendar for 2020. A lovely way to start the New Year:

On New Year’s Day, America’s State Parks have all 50 states offering free, guided First Day Hike Programs. These hikes provide a means for individuals and families to welcome the coming year in the outdoors….
(from the “First Day Hikes” website)

We signed up for the Elk Flats Trail hike, in Oswald West State Park.  We hiked on a frozen mud trail down down to the Devil’s Cauldron overlook where, on behalf of himself and his fellow rangers, our guide, Ranger “Jeff,” respectfully requested that we stay on the designated trails and not fall into the Devil’s Cauldron – which has happened before, most recently last year (and body retrieval is not one of Ranger Jeff’s favorite duties.). We then backtracked to the main Elk Flats trail which eventually led down to Short Sands Beach, where we got to see many more surfers than I’d anticipated, given the weather (sunny, but brrrrrrrrr).    The surfers were doing their own First Day Surf event, or so I liked to presume.

Ranger Jeff met MH, moiself, and ten other First Day hikers at the trailhead just before 8 am. It was very brisk, and as we waited for the departure time I was teasing Ranger Jeff about his (seeming) lack of preparation: The temp is just above freezing; where was his hat?!  Where were his gloves?! Ranger Jeff showed me his gloves and then his hat, which he had with him but had not yet donned. When he’d decided to wait no longer for stragglers (33 people had signed up for the hike; 12 of us showed up), he began fiddling with the Oregon State Park badge which was pinned to the front of his hat, just above the brim. He told the hikers gathered around him that a fellow ranger had told him to “Move the badge higher on the hat, because it makes you look dorky.”

The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them:  [1]

“Do you think just moving the badge is enough?”

 

 

 

I wonder, did the surfers get a pin?

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of It Seems To Be A Thing

People announcing (on Facebook of course) that they are quitting Facebook, that is.

Perhaps it is a New Year’s Resolution of sorts, for some folks. Reasons given include personal schedule management issues (aka, “the time suck”) but mostly seem to involve the Cambridge Analytical scandal and concerns about the way FB handles one’s (supposedly) private data, and also/primarily FB’s complicity in fake ads and other political manipulations by Trump supporters.

All of which I most certainly understand.  Moiself has also been… disturbed, to put it mildly, by the privacy breaches, political scandals, ad nauseum.  So far, the people (I know of) who have either announced their intention to quit FB (and/or other forms of social media) or who have already done so are all intelligent, empathetic, socially aware and generally Working-To-Make-The-World-A-Better-Place ® kind of folks. Which gets me to wondering….

 

 

Nyet, is never good thing, when dis comrade wonders.

 

 

Fucking Russian blog hackers.

Um…yeah. As I was wondering: what will that mean, for Facebook and its ilk, if those kind of people all (or mostly…eventually) leave? What will be left – the voices of Orwellian nightmares (War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength”) exchanging such “dialogue” with one another?

Will Facebook become another Fox “News”, where the fact that people who have intelligence/rational thinking/social awareness/compassion quotients larger than their shoe sizes generally boycott Fox News doesn’t matter to those who listen to Fox News, and thus Fox News listeners receive little input outside of that venue, and the Voices of Sanity have little influence re Fox News content and procedures?

I don’t have an answer here. Just another thing to wonder about in the new year.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Yet Another New Year’s Day Thing

As I have noted several times before in this blog, moiself always serves some version of black-eyed peas (aka Hoppin’ John ) and greens for New Year’s Day dinner. These culinary creations are prepared in homage to my father’s family’s logic-defying adherence  [2] to the tradition which told them that, by eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, you assure good luck in the year to come.

 

 

 

This year I made a kinda-curried Hoppin’ John variation. I found moiself wishing I could invite The Ramones over to sample my version, which I was certain they would enjoy,  [3]  because as any Ramones fan knows,

There’s no stoppin’ the cretins from hoppin’

Make that, there’s no stoppin’ the cretins from eatin’ their hoppin’ (John).

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Cranial Effluence  [4]   Which Should’ve Stayed In 2018

Fee-fi-fo-fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishman,
Be he alive, or be he dead
I’ll grind his bones to make my bread[5]

Hold on to that bone-grinder, kiddies: dead is a perfect rhyme for bread, but “fum” does not rhyme with “man.”  Why isn’t it, Englishbum, or mum or rum or…a word appropriate for a mere mortal who is stupid enough to mess with a giant:

Fee-fi-fo-fum,
I smell the blood of an Englishdum-dum….

I know; none of this matters. But why, when a noise awakens me at 3 am,  [6]  is this question regarding a fairy tale rhyme fail on my mind?  ‘Tis hardly a matter of international, national, local, or even personal security, although it seemed compelling at the time.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge  [7]  Of The Week

As per an earlier warning post, we will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in our front yard’s festively lit pear tree. Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

 

Yes, this is a trick question.  Alert readers may note that this is the same Partridge as last week.  In respect to the one Partridge player who has passed from this mortal realm,   [8]   I thought he deserved a repeat week of hanging on our pear tree until we take down the rest of the Yule decorations.

*   *   *

May you never lose sleep over a fairy tale rhyme fail;
May you appreciate our dedicated and cute (and never dorky) state and federal rangers;
May you rest assured that in the coming year, as luck may come and go, there’s no stoppin’ the cretins from hoppin’…
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] To my chagrin, but to the obvious delight of my fellow hikers and, fortunately (for moiself), Ranger Jeff.

[2] They were dirt poor sharecroppers tenant farmers. That good luck meal thing failed, year after year.

[3] Three of the original four Ramones are dead, but for the purposes of this fantasy…just bear with me.

[4] That’s brain farts, for you delicate flowers.

[5] From the English fairy tale, Jack and the Beanstalk.

[6] A noise which might be the loud muffler of the paper delivery car, or a snoring spouse (just a random snoring spouse in the neighborhood – not necessarily mine), or ….

[7] In our pear tree.

[8] David Cassidy, who played Keith Partridge, died a couple of years ago.

The Happy New Year I’m Not (Yet) Wishing You

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Department Of A Year (Almost) Of Seeing Movies

As I’ve probably/previously declared   [1] in this space, I love seeing movies in a movie theater. Dramas are more dramatic, romances more heart-tugging, thrillers more suspenseful and comedies funnier in a large venue, surrounded by gasping and/or weeping and laughing strangers.  Even the turkeys –  is there any category of movie worse than an un-funny comedy? – are made worthwhile during the brief bonding moments when strangers turn to one another, make eye contact in a dark theater, point at the screen and exchange incredulous, Really? Someone thought that would work? looks.

 

This is the time of year for thoughtful or professional critics and amateur ass-snipers alike to trot out their, “best of 2018” lists.  When it comes to judging movies I’m somewhere in the middle of those two categories.  Nevertheless, here is my blog before me, with space to fill; thus, here is my list. Only it isn’t a best of, it’s an all of.

I have moiself’s own criteria for what made it on the list: virtually every (theatrical release) movie I saw. The following movies (listed in random order – not quite alphabetical and not quite by date seen) were all theatrical releases; some of them were late 2017 releases that didn’t make it to our neck of the theater woods until early 2018.  The asterisk * denotes movies I’d intended to see in the theater but which were briefly released in our area, i.e., they played in a Portland theatre for a week (or even less) before disappearing and then reappearing on video and/or streaming.  [2]  Titles in bold are recommended, whether for artistic merit or sheer and mere entertainment value. Titles italicized are…well…not exactly recommended, but not also the worst use of two hours, as I essentially saw them for free (via the once cool but lately lame and much-maligned MoviePass   [3] ).

 

 

 

“That’s your problem; you don’t want to be in love – you want to be in love in a movie.”

 

 

-Pitch Perfect 3
-Ladybird
-I, Tonya
-The Disaster Artist
-Phantom Thread
-The Post
-The Greatest Showman
-Call Me By Your Name
-The Florida Project
-Roman J. Israel
-Mudbound
-Annihilation
-Game Night
Love, Simon
-Jumanji
-7 days in Entebbe
-Chappaquiddick

 

 

 

 

 

-The Leisure Seeker
-A Wrinkle in Time
-Molly’s Game *
-I Feel Pretty
-All The Money in the World *
-Black Panther
-Book Club
-Avengers: Infinity War
-Solo
-A Quiet Place
-Life of the Party
-Tully
-First Reformed
-Deadpool 2
-The Rider   [4]
-Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool

 

 

 

-Thoroughbreds *
-The Artemis Hotel
-The Seagull
-Hereditary
-Oceans 8
-Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
-Sorry to Bother You
-Three Identical Strangers
-The Spy Who Dumped Me
-Eighth Grade
-The Meg
-The Miseducation of Cameron Post
-Searching
-BlackKlansman
-Crazy Rich Asians

I haven't seen a walk like that since Jurassic Park.

 

 

-Peppermint
– A Simple Favor
– A Star is Born
-Bad Times at the El Royale
-Bohemian Rhapsody
-Can You Ever Forgive Me?
-The Front Runner
-The Wife
-The Favourite
-Free Solo
That Spiderman spiderverse thing   [5]

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of There’s Just No Pleasing Some People

Dateline: December 23. MH and I are having the roasted veggie hash at our favorite breakfast place in Manzanita. The background music playing at the café is always eclectic, although on this day they are playing what appears to be a somewhat standard, Christmas-themed mix. I hear a version of “O Christmas Tree“– O Tannenbaum, sung in German, by Nat King Cole (a version hitherto unknown to moiself, but holy fucking phonetically pronounced lyric sheet, I must have heard it 50 times this Yule season!)

Then Oh Holy Night begins wafting over the café’s discretely hidden speakers. I sing along, adding my own lyrical substitutions to the first chorus, not loudly enough to annoy the other patrons   [6]  but so that MH can hear:

(original version)
Fall on your knees!
O hear the angel voices!
O night divine…

 

(my variation)
Fall on your knees!
O skin your knees for Jesus!
‘Cause Christ loves your scabs…

 

MH eyes me across the table.

“Do you like my version?” I ask him.

“I don’t like either version,” he replies.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge [7]  Of The Week

As per an earlier warning post, we will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in our front yard’s festively lit pear tree. Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you (mostly) not regret paying for a movie ticket;
May you realize that life is short and you’ll get over the 45 minutes you wasted seeing that !#(? Spiderman movie;
May you always sing the alternative lyrics;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] I’m turning into my father, in the repeating-my-stories personality aspect.

[2] So if you want to get technical, like one of those ass-snipers, perhaps those movies don’t “count.”

[3] Which, supposedly, is revamping for 2019, so I’ll wait another month and give it a chance before cancelling my subscription.

[4] I want a movie like the based-on-a-true-story The Rider to get its own category. I’d recommend the movie because I think it was well done and shows a compelling if head-banging-against-the-wall-in-frustration-for-me-to-watch story. Translation: it is very difficult for me to just sit there and watch, for “entertainment” purposes, people do stupid things/make short-sighted or self-defeating life choices.

[5]  Another movie meriting its own category – and one of the few I saw with MH this year – because although I want to not recommend it I didn’t see the entire movie. I left midway, telling MH that he was of course was welcome to stay, but I just didn’t care what happened to the “characters,” and also/mostly, I was aesthetically offended by what was on screen:  I was tired of BEING SHOUTED AT WITH LOUD CONSTANTLY FLASHING AND CHANGING IMAGES AND QUICK CUTS as if I had the attention span of a five year old cocaine addict.

[6] Uh, yeah, that’s disputable.

[7] In our pear tree.

The Tradition I’m Not Missing Anymore

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Department Of How To Find Out If You Really Want To Continue A Tradition

You can take a break from it, and then see how much you miss it, that’s how.   [1]

 

 

 

 

The Ladies Lefse Party, referred to in last week’s post, was a smashing success.  Looks like it’s back on the Yule holiday schedule.  [2]

 

*   *   *

Department Of Food Porn

 

This stunning pavlova was made for the lefse party by JR, a fan of The Great British Baking Show (and excellent pastry/dessert queen in her own right).

We got to eat it; you didn’t. I’m so, so, so very sorry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Lame Excuses For An Almost Content-Free Blog

 

* The altitude

* The (non-existent) War on Christmas

* My Upcoming Birthday

* Still Recovering from the Lefse Ladies’ Licentious Luau   [3]

 

 

But you promised there would be leis and shirtless dancing boys….

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge [4]  Of The Week

As per an earlier warning post, we will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in our front yard’s festively lit pear tree. Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

 

*   *   *

May you continue the traditions you enjoy;
May you create that which will be tomorrow’s tradition;
May you be mindful of future Partridges;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] This is the first footnote.

[2] Why, look – it’s another footnote.

[3] No leis were distributed, nor Hawaiian kapus violated, in the misuse of this party metaphor.

[4] In our pear tree.

The Pop-Up Ad I’m Not Expecting

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Department Of Authenticity

Next week I am hosting my annual Ladies Lefse Party. Well, once upon a time it was an annual event. After a hiatus of two years, following my mother’s death, I’m ready to get back in the saddle – or lefse griddle, that is.

 

 

This versatile appliance can also makes an adequate alien landing pad and/or satellite dish substitute.

 

 

After my paternal grandfather, a full-blooded Norski-American married to a full-blooded Irish-American,  [1]  died (ca. 1963), my grandmother no longer felt up to making the lefse her husband had so adored and that she’d come to love as well.  [2]  My mother’s eldest sister, my late Aunt Erva, lived in Spokane, and after her husband died  [3]  Erva would drive down south every year in autumn, ahead of the first Spokane snowfall, to spend the winter with her mother in Santa Ana. Thus, Erva assumed the mantle of lefse maker in our family. She made meatcakes (Norwegian-spiced meatballs, a traditional lefse accompaniment) as well.

Like many traditional ethnic dishes, lefse has foundational ingredients, and also variants in composition, preparation and serving. Evey family I’ve met who also “do the lefse thing” have their own favorite recipe which, of course, they consider the “most authentic” way to make and eat lefse.

I’ve been making lefse for longer than I can remember. I took Erva’s recipe and evolved it over the years (or made it “kooky,” as Erva would likely say  [4] ).  The lefse is still delicious, if dairy-free, and the “meat”cakes I make are now sans meat (a plant-based version, main ingredient tempeh).  Back when I did eat (some) meat I used ground turkey when I made meatcakes, instead of Erva’s more traditional pork-beef blend, but what with my using the distinctive/traditional spices  [5] my parents said, when they were  guest at my Christmas Eve table, that they couldn’t taste the difference. Still, moiself always felt my version was missing that certain tinge of maternal family authenticity, which, I came to realize, had nothing to do with the kind of ground meat used.  Here is the “flavoring” my versions of meatcakes have always lacked:

(1)  an overly crisp exterior (read: I didn’t burn them, which Erva did without fail);   [6]

(2)  the ash from Erva’s cigarette.    [7]

 

 

What other key ingredients am I missing? One tablespoon repression, ¼ cup disillusionment with life choices….

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Look Who’s Talking, Considering What’s On The Back Of My Car….

Dateline: Monday morning, on my way to yoga class. I’m driving behind a big ass truck that has three bumper stickers, which I read when I’m stopped at a traffic light and which get me to wondering about what goes through someone’s mind when they purchase and then apply to their vehicle stickers which proclaim,

My grandson is a Marine

and

Gulf War Veteran

My car’s stickers are a combination of puns/whimsy and opinionating, meant to make a few salient or silly points or in a (hopefully) humorous manner.

 

 

 

 

 

The truck’s third bumper sticker was some variation on the Gun Control Means Using Both Hands rant, and while I disagree with those stickers’ inherent pro-firearms sentiments, I appreciate the jests of the message. As for the previous two stickers I mentioned, I’m curious: why does the person driving that truck think it’s important for moiself, the person stuck behind them in traffic, to know that their grandson is a marine, or that they (the truck’s driver) are a veteran of the Gulf – or any – War? Is it because, as son K has opined, [8]  they want, blatantly or slyly, to brag (ala, My Child Is An Honors Student At Schlemfarght Junior High School   [9] ),  or have people think highly of them and/or give them receive special treatment because they’ve been in the military?

Perhaps a more generous interpretation would be to ask questions re their motivation along the lines of, Is it that they take pride in their family’s history of military service and/or they wish to raise awareness of such in a society where such service is not mandatory?

Of course, it’s much more petty (read: fun) to impugn their motives using the scant evidence available.

Anyway…just curious.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of ‘Tis The Season For Surprises

Dateline: Wednesday am, 12/5. After posting a Happy Krampusnacht message on Facebook I went to my yoga class. After class, when I turned my cellphone on, I saw this message from daughter Belle:

MOM
You gotta change that link you posted on fb about krampus
The very first thing you see when you open it is a huge picture
of someone’s VERY spread open butthole
I don’t know whether to laugh or cry

 

 

 

 

Before I could panic, the message continued:

Wait I just clicked on it again and it wasn’t there????
I’m sorry I don’t know what’s going on haha
I think I might have gotten a very terrible pop-up ad?

I quickly checked link I’d posted on FB – as intended, it merely led to the Wikipedia article on Krampusnacht. I haven’t heard any other OOPS feedback, so if any of y’all followed the link and got the…unexpected pop up…Happy Holidays!

 

 

Well, maybe some of us prefer the other picture.

 

*   *   *

Department Of The Partridge [10]  Of The Week

As per an earlier warning post, I will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard. Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

           

*   *   *

 

 

May you evolve your own holiday culinary traditions;
May you have patience with those of us who don’t give a flying fart
where your child is an honor student;
May you enjoy the petty thrill of impugning the motives of strangers;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

 

 

[1] That was considered somewhat of a mixed marriage in Northern Minnesota;however,  “Bapa” (my Irish grandma) told me that her husband’s parents would have considered it “worse” if he “had married a Swede.”

[2] No great surprise that an Irishwoman took to loving something which is essentially a potato tortilla.

[3] In the later 1960s.

[4] “Kooky” was Erva’s catch-all descriptor for things of which she did not approve, which could range from one’s choice of life partner to haircut or clothing to your career or political opinions. Deciding to open a boutique, which the wife of one of my cousins did, was, according to Erva, “a kooky thing to do.”

[5] Nutmeg; allspice;, white pepper.

[6] She swore that’s the only way you could tell if they were “done.”

[7] More than once I “caught” Erva in grandma’s kitchen frying the meatcakes, a cigarette clenched between her lips, the cigarette’s inch long ash column precipitously dangling over the frying pan.

[8] K is very, very, “unfond” of such announcement-type bumper stickers.

[9] I love those immodest stickers for one really great reason: they led to the plethora of “response” or parody stickers which read, e.g., “My golden retriever is smarter than your honor student.”

[10] In our pear tree.

The Service I’m Not Thanking

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Department Of What Are We Thankful For?

Answer: turkey substitutes.

In the past, our family has often hosted a Thanksgiving dinner at our house. We’re missing daughter Belle this year – she’s out of state, working at a wildlife refuge, and gets no holidays off  [1]  And somehow, the day just snuck up on us.  Translation: no one else made any plans, possibly hoping/assuming that someone (read: moiself) would step up and say, Here’s what we’re doing.

But we’d been busy and traveling and now MH and K and I have all come down with something flu-like (fever), and no one seems to have the energy to plan A Big Feast ® . Instead, the non-turkey eater announced that she would make herself an oven roasted steelhead filet, plus a few of of her favorite foods that she’d be “willing” to share, along with the suggestion that MH and K make/purchase a turkey or whatever they’d like to have.  Turns out both of them preferred a roast chicken, which they got at a Whole Foods market, and our dear family friend LAH was up for being spontaneous and joined us, also contributing to the feast. Sometimes, the simple is the best.

 

*   *   *

Speaking Of Turkey Substitutes….

The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has recalled turkey products linked to a salmonella outbreak. The CDC announced the outbreak linked to raw turkey products in July, but more people have gotten sick, bringing the total to at least 164 in 35 states. One person in California has died, and 63 people have been hospitalized….

Just two days before Thanksgiving, the CDC warned US consumers to not eat romaine lettuce, as it may be contaminated with E. coli.

(“Watching out for these illnesses tied to recalled foods at Thanksgiving,”
CNN, 11-21-18)

I have a feeling I’m not the only plant-based   [2] eater who sees the headlines, laughs (mostly to moiself), and thinks, Hey, meat-munchers, perhaps this might be the time to transition to a plant-based diet... or at least swear off the turkey Caesar salad leftovers.

 

 

*   *   *

Department of EEEEEEEEEEK

Well, at least it was an easy fix.

During the past midterm election season, I noticed I kept getting political mailers, from all parties, addressed to Robyn Gween Parnell.  I know *I’ve* never registered moiself thusly; I know how to spell my own name(s). After the election I checked the online voter’s registry and sure enough, there it was. Funny, what one extra keystroke will do. Now I’m wondering, did I technically commit voter fraud, by voting under that name?

*   *   *

Department Of The Question That Is Apparently On Everyone’s Mind

Dateline: earlier this week, at an Office Depot. I am shipping a package to daughter Belle, who is temporarily living in Arkansas. (Recurring Readers ®  may recall from previous posts why she is there, and that MH and I visited her three weeks ago.) The OD clerk notes the shipping address, says she can’t remember ever having shipped a package to Arkansas, and asks if I’d ever been there. When I reply in the affirmative, she blurts out what seemingly every person does – usually in all sincerity and with genuine confusion – when my visit to Arkansas comes up in conversation:

Why?

 

 

 Why? For the scenery, of course.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Obligatory Apologies

The management would like to apologize for the cultural stereotypes implied in the pictures chosen to illustrate the sentiments expressed in the previous blog segment.  [3]

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Still Thinking About It

On Veterans’ Day, MH, K and I went to lunch at a local Red Robin.  The restaurant was getting slammed; I’d never seen it so busy. When a server finally got to our table she apologized for the wait, and explained that on Veterans’ Day, soldiers past and present who have their military ID (or show up in uniform) eat for free.

They (RR) have been doing this for several years, our server explained, and the offer  is so popular that Veteran’s Day is the one day when *everyone* works – no RR staff member can ask for the day off unless they make special arrangements six months in advance.  Non-veteran customers in the restaurant, when they find out what RR is doing, praise them for it and don’t seem to mind the extra crowds/wait, the server said, so it makes for a nice atmosphere, and thus she likes working on Veterans’ Day.

That idea – of freebies for vets    [4] – stuck in my head, due to conversations I’d had with my father.  During the end of our meal I told MH and K that although Chet Parnell had been proud of his military service  [5]  and wouldn’t begrudge any other veteran of any age from accepting a restaurant’s offer of a free meal,  I was confident that, were he here with us, he wouldn’t have claimed such an offer for himself.

My confidence about his response stems from talks we’d had over the years, and in particular, our last, long telephone conversation   [6] about his time in the military, as well as that of his brother-in-law, Bill O’Malley. My Uncle Bill, also a WWII paratrooper, and saw action in campaigns from North Africa to Italy to D-Day to the Battle of the Bulge.  He was hospitalized after the war, in Europe, for (what we now know is) PTSD. When he was well enough to be released, his PTSD, or what was called “shell shock” back then, continued to give him emotional problems when he returned to the States. My Uncle Bill never received any stateside counseling or mental health treatment.  [7]   Instead, he’d gradually “recovered,” he’d told me, when he and I talked extensively about his war stories,  [8]  because of how he was treated by his fellow Americans. As a returning GI, everyone was kind to and patient with him.  “If they knew or even suspected that I’d been a soldier,” Bill said, “I never paid for a cup of coffee.”

Chet chuckled when I told him Bill’s story, then said that he himself had always felt …odd…accepting any kind of kudos for his military service. He was an enlistee, not a draftee, and had proudly signed up for the paratroopers. It was an important job he and the other soldiers had to do, he said, but he didn’t want to make “a big deal” out of it.  He got paid for doing it, and never felt that he was owed him anything nor that civilians were beholden to him in any way. Or, as he put it, “I can buy my own damn cuppa coffee.”

 

Chet Parnell (front row far left) and some of his “stick.”  [9]

 

*   *   *

Who doesn’t want to be thanked for their military service?….
Many people, it turns out….To some recent vets…the thanks comes across as shallow, disconnected, a reflexive offering from people who, while meaning well, have no clue what soldiers did over there or what motivated them to go, and who would never have gone themselves nor sent their own sons and daughters.
To these vets, thanking soldiers for their service symbolizes the ease of sending a volunteer army to wage war at great distance — physically, spiritually, economically. It raises questions of the meaning of patriotism, shared purpose and, pointedly, what you’re supposed to say to those who put their lives on the line and are uncomfortable about being thanked for it.
(Hunter Garth, 26, former Marine who served in Afghanistan) said that when he gets thanked it can feel self-serving for the thankers, suggesting that he did it for them, and that they somehow understand the sacrifice, night terrors, feelings of loss and bewilderment. Or don’t think about it at all.
“I pulled the trigger,” he said. “You didn’t. Don’t take that away from me.”

(“Please Don’t Thank Me For My Service,” NY Times, 2-21-15)

*   *   *

 

May you have a restful post-Thanksgiving weekend;
May you contemplate the existential reasons why a person might visit Arkansas;
May you appreciate being able to buy your own damn cuppa coffee;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] Lions and tigers and bears want to eat every day, and don’t understand Thanksgiving.

[2] Plant-based eaters generally exclude or minimize consumption of meat and animal products. Some, like moiself, have fish on occasion. And others, also like moiself, are trying to get Tillamook Pepper Jack cheese classified as a fish.

[3] The management would like to apologize, if only she could do it sincerely.

[4] I sincerely hope all veteran’s order of burgers and fries were not delivered to their tables with that phrase I find at once odious and obsequious: Thank you for your service.

[5] He served in WWII as a paratrooper.

[6] The night before he died.

[7] Both treatment for and knowledge about PTSD was practically non-existent, for WWII vets.

[8] Which flabbergasted my parents when I told them, years later, because, other than a few talks with Chet, a fellow paratrooper, “Bill wouldn’t talk about the war with anyone.” My theory was that while Bill wouldn’t talk about the war with other adults, a ten year old (at the time of our conversation) kid disarmed him with my genuine curiosity and guileless questions – and every question I asked, he answered.

[9] A “stick” is a load of paratroopers in one plane, prepared for a drop.

The War I’m Not Declaring

Comments Off on The War I’m Not Declaring

 

 

 

 

What do vegetarians, vegans, non-meat and/or plant-based eaters do on Thanksgiving?

( Other than, according to your Aunt Erva, RUIN IT FOR EVERYONE ELSE. )

The above question is an existential dilemma worthy of Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish philosopher, who wrote eloquent discourses on the subjective and objective truths one must juggle when choosing between a cinnamon roll and a chocolate swirl  [1]

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of I’ll Take Those Segues Where I Can Find Them

A week from today will be the day after feasting, for many of us. It sometimes seems as though just when you’re recovering from your last leftover turkey sandwich/quiche/casserole/enchilada-induced salmonella crisis and really need to get outside for some fresh air, here comes the Yule season. You dare not even venture to the mall, lest your eardrums be assaulted from all sides by Have a Holly Jolly Christmas, Feliz Navidad, ad nauseum.

This observation provides a convenient segue to my annual, forthright, sincere, family-friendly,

Heathens Declare War on Christmas © post.

 

 

Department Of Did You Know…

…that the Reverend Increase Mather of Boston observed in 1687 that, “the early Christians who  first observed the Nativity on December 25 did not do so thinking that Christ was born in that Month, but because the Heathens’ Saturnalia was at that time kept in Rome, and they were willing to have those Pagan Holidays metamorphosed into Christian ones.”   [2]  Because of its known pagan origin, Christmas was banned by the Puritans, and its observance was illegal in Massachusetts until 1681.   [3]

 

 

“Do you celebrate Christmas?”

We Heretics/apostates non-Christians Happy Heathens often hear this question at this time of year.  The inquiry is sometimes presented in ways that imply our celebration (or even acknowledgement) of Christmas is hypocritical.  This implication is the epitome of cheek, when you consider the fact that it is the early Christians who stole a festival from our humanist (pagan) forebears, and not the other way around.

Who doesn’t like a party, for any reason? And really, we who are religion-free don’t mind sharing seasonal celebrations with religious folk– sans the superstition and government/church mumbo-jumbo — as long as they accept the fact that the ways we all celebrate this “festive season” predate Christianity by hundreds of years.

 

 

 

Early Roman Catholic missionaries tried to convert northern Europeans to the RC brand of Christianity, and part of the conversion process was to alter existing religious festivals. The indigenous folk, whom the RC church labeled “barbarians,” quickly discovered that when it came to dealing with  missionaries, resistance is futile. The pagans intuitively grasped the concept of natural selection and converted to Christianity to avoid the price (persecution, torture, execution) of staying true to their original beliefs.  But they refused to totally relinquish their old celebrations, and so the church, eventually and effectively, simply renamed most of them.  [4]

Pagan practices were given a Christian meaning to wipe out “heathen” revelry.  This was made official church policy in 601 A.D., when Pope Gregory the First issued the now infamous edict to his missionaries regarding the traditions of the peoples they wanted to convert. Rather than try to banish native customs and beliefs, missionaries were directed to assimilate them. You find a group of people decorating and/or worshiping a tree? Don’t chop it down or burn it; rather, bless it in the name of the Church.  Allow its continued worship, only tell the people that, instead of celebrating the return of the sun-god in the spring, they are now worshiping the rising from the dead of the Son of God.

( Easter is the one/odd exception – the pagan celebration was adapted by Christians without a name change. Easter is a word found nowhere in the Bible. It comes from the many variants (Eostra, Ester, Eastra, Eastur….) of a Roman deity, goddess of the dawn “Eos” or “Easter,” whose festival was in the Spring.)

The fir boughs and wreaths, the Yule log, plum pudding, gift exchanges, the feasting, the holly and the ivy and the evergreen tree….It is hard to think of a “Christmas” tradition that does not originate from Teutonic (German),Viking, Celtic and Druid paganism.  [5]  A celebration in the depths of winter – at the time when, to those living in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun appears to stop its southerly descent before gradually ascending north – is a natural instinct. For thousands of years our Northern Hemisphere ancestors greeted the “reason for the season” – the winter solstice – with festivals of light and gift exchanges and parties.  The Winter Solstice was noted and celebrated long before the Roman Jesus groupies pinched the party.

 But, isn’t “Jesus is the reason for the season?

The reason for the season?  Cool story, bro.  Since you asked; actually, axial tilt is the reason for the season.  For all seasons.

 

 

 

And Woden is the reason the middle of the week is named Wednesday.   [6]  My calling Wednesday “Wednesday” doesn’t mean I celebrate, worship or “believe in” Woden.  I don’t insist on renaming either Christmas, or Wednesday.

 

 

Now, go fetch me the sheisskopf who took the Woden out of Woden’s Day!

 

 

The Winter Solstice is the day with the shortest amount of sunlight, and the longest night. In the northern hemisphere it falls on what we now mark as December 21 or 22.  However, it took place on December 25th at the time when the Julian calendar was used.  [7]   The early Romans celebrated the Saturnalia on the Solstice, holding days of feasting and gift exchanges in honor of their god Saturn. (Other major deities whose birthdays were celebrated on or about the week of December 25  [8] included Horis, Huitzilopochtli, Isis, Mithras, Marduk, Osiris, Serapis and Sol.)  The Celebration of the Saturnalia was too popular with the Roman pagans for the new Christian church to outlaw it, so the new church renamed the day and reassigned meanings to the traditions.  [9]

In other words, why are some folk concerned with keeping “the Christ in Christmas” [10]   when we should be keeping the Saturn in Saturnalia?

 

 

 

*   *   *

Whatever your favorite seasonal celebrations may be, I wish you all the best.

 

May you have the occasion to (with good humor) ruin it for everyone else;
May you find it within yourself to ignore the Black Friday mindset;
May you remember to keep the Saturn in Saturnalia;
…and may the fruitcake-free hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Damn right I’m proud of that one.

[2] Increase Mather, A Testimony against Several Prophane and Superstitious Customs, Now Practiced by Some in New England (London, 1687).  See also Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday, New York: Vintage Books, 1997.

[3] Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Cultural History of America’s Most Cherished Holiday.

[4] “Paganism in Christianity.”

[5] “Learn not the way of the heathen…their customs are vain, for one cuts a tree out of the forest…they deck it with silver and gold…” Jeremiah 10:2-5

[6] Wednesday comes from the Old English Wōdnesdæg, the day of the Germanic god Wodan (aka Odin, highest god in Norse mythology and a big cheese god of the Anglo-Saxons until the seventh century.

[7] The Julian calendar, adopted by Julius Caesar ~ 46 B.C.E., was off by 11 min/year, and when the Gregorian calendar was established by Pope – wait for it – Gregory,  the solstice was established on 12/22.

[8] The Winter Solstice and the Origins of Christmas, Lee Carter.

[9] In 601 A.D., Pope Gregory I issued a now famous edict to his missionaries regarding wooing potential converts: don’t banish peoples’ customs, incorporate them. If the locals venerate a tree, don’t cut it down; rather, consecrate the tree to JC and allow its continued worship.

[10] And nothing in the various conflicting biblical references to the birth of JC has the nativity occurring in wintertime.

 

 

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