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The Dinner I’m Not Hosting

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* Taking my car through the car wash;
*posting links to the Divinyl’s “I Touch Myself” and Joan Jett’s “Do You Wanna Touch Me,”
on Facebook,
and thinking of Way. Too. Many. other songs for the COVID-19 situation;
* hanging a bag of nut milk   [1]   to drain over the kitchen sink….

Someone has too much play time on her hands.  Girls and Boys, are you, too, practicing safe sex Social Isolation ® ?

 

Abby, my Emotional Support Avocado, who typically occupies the middle of the back seat (always safely buckled in – click it or ticket!), gets to play inside while I vacuum out my car.

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Was Not Prepared For This

Dateline: Monday, March 16. Email from my yoga class studio (my emphases):

…effective immediately, we will be limiting class sizes to 9 students. With this class size, the “social distancing”
between students in our classroom can be up to 40% higher than the CDC recommended distance of 6 feet.
Our Older Student Population
Because you are in a higher risk group, we are recommending our students
who are 60 years and older to please stay home until conditions improve.

Moiself  immediately began thinking most unyoga-like thoughts:  Ahem, and WTF?  When did I get into a “higher risk group” when I can keep up with the Millennials in class and seriously kick some yoga ass  [2]  in pigeon pose….

Fine. I’ll be a Good Citizen. ®  It’s funny to me, how much that frosted moiself’s butt, to realize that I’d been placed in a Category.  The next day I was still a bit steamy.  [3]  Perhaps I’m overreacting…

 

Ya think?

 

*   *   *

Department of The Corona Virus Playlist
British Invasion Edition

For those too young to wipe your own behinds remember, the British Invasion refers to

“… a cultural phenomenon of the mid-1960s, when rock and pop music acts from the United Kingdom and other aspects of British culture
became popular in the United States…. groups such as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks…and the Animals
were at the forefront of the “invasion.”  [4]

Moiself  has listed some of those groups’ song titles which are, IMHO, are applicable to our self-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times. At first I thought to list them alphabetically, but had more fun arranging them in groupings:

* A Hard Day’s Night
* Don’t Bother Me
* Get Back
* Get Off of My Cloud
* Inside Looking Out
* Long Distance
* Run For Your Life
* You Better Move On
* You Won’t See Me
* You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away

* Getting Better
* We Gotta Out Of This Place
* Help!
* Doctor Robert

* From Me to You
* Gimme Shelter
* Hello Goodbye
* Helter Skelter
* Here, There, And Everywhere

* I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party
* I Feel Fine
* How Do I Get Close
* Worried About You
* I Want to Hold Your Hand
* You Can’t Always Get What You Want
* You Can’t Do That
* You Really Got A Hold On Me

* I Should Have Known Better
* I’ve Got a Feeling
* Misery
* I’m So Tired
* Ventilator Blues
* Wish I’d Never Met You
* Where Have All the Good Times Gone
* Who’ll Be the Next in Line
* It’s All Over Now
* The End

 

*   *   *

Department Of Another Way To Get A Good Laugh In Stressful Times…

…is to do something really stupid – something that makes you face palm yourself (which is one reason why moiself  is a Frequent Flyer when it comes to giggle mileage).

 

No question, that’s the most pathetic flying metaphor we’ve ever heard.

 

Dateline: earlier this week, after an at-home (of course) workout and before venturing to the grocery store. I change from my exercise t-shirt to a non- less-smelly t-shirt and glance in the mirror.  I reach for my toothbrush to use as an eyebrow brush: when I pull a snug shirt over my head, my eyebrows get a little unruly.

 

Not Andy Rooney unruly, but, still….

 

A second too late, as I have placed brush to brow, I realize that moiself had applied a small dab of toothpaste to the toothbrush a couple of hours earlier, got distracted, and set the toothbrush down on the sink edge without brushing my teeth. Thus, I now have very straight eyebrows with a dab of minty white toothpaste in them, giving me that certain je ne sais quoi (as well as a minty/fluoride scent wafting from my forehead).

The thing is, I did both brows before I realized what I was doing.  The second thing is, this is not the first time I’ve done this.  I’d say my average is once every two years.  Upside: my eyebrows have never had a cavity! So, yeah, I’m not absent-minded, I’m participating in an important research program involving the collection of dental hygiene data.

 

Stand back, she’s about to try SCIENCE.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Rescheduling Fun

There were to be ten of us around my dining room table on Tuesday, March 17.  Even before our state’s governor (in line with CDC and other health organization guidelines) called for voluntary social distancing, my guests began to cancel.

Not to worry, moiself assured my would-be guests via email, we will not scratch our celebration. We’ll just postpone it until…until we know more about what’s going on.  Also, I’m assuming my guests cancelled due to their concern for public health safety, and not as a commentary on my planned dining table centerpiece:

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Silver Linings

If something is good coming out of this pandemic it might be the concept of social distancing, which may come in handy after Whatever Is Going To Happen ® has died down.  Playing it correctly and not overusing it, you could artfully excuse yourself from certain tedious personal and professional obligations.  Y’all know what I’m talking about: that feeling of, “I’d rather stick a Tabasco-coated tuning fork in my eyeball than attend…

* another of my nephew’s ukulele recitals;

* our Homeowner’s Association meeting on proper dog-walking and waste disposal protocol;

*my boss’s latest attempt to mitigate his blatant racism, sexism
and homophobia by holding a pronoun sensitivity training session;

* my neighbor’s latest pyramid scheme lure   Amway/Herbalife/Mary Kay bait setting-disguised-as-a-ladies’-cocktail-party….”

Repeat after moiself:

“Oh, gee, I’d love to, but for the sake of community health,
and as per the advice of my ____
(doctor/psychiatrist/pedicurist/Mar-a-Lago online Medical School and Virtual Putting Green website),
I’m practicing social distancing.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Problem Solved

“…1,135 people have needed intensive care in Lombardy, but the region has only 800 intensive care beds….
As the COVID-19 epidemic expands and the disease progresses, (ICU beds) are in increasing demand, especially because of the breathing problems the illness can bring. Every time a bed comes free, two anesthesiologists consult with a specialist in resuscitation and an internal medicine physician to decide who will occupy it.
“In Italy, Triage and Lies for Virus Patients,”
NY Times, 3-16-20 )

 

“Sometimes extraordinary problems require a supernatural response.  Fearless prayers is what is needed in this moment.
Let’s all pray for a swift end to the coronavirus.”
( Tweet by Jentezen Franklin, evangelical pastor, whose online service #45 claimed to have had joined for the National Day of Prayer to counter the coronavirus.)

 

 “…(Evangelist) Cindy Jacobs…said God told her to create a global day of prayer to stop the virus from spreading.
(  Mother Jones online )

 

 

When there is a shortage of vital medical equipment, Those In Charge Of Such Things ® face agonizing choices (and remember, every day in this country, people are placed on respirators due non-coronavirus related accidents/illnesses).  Should these triage situations arise in the United States, I’ve got a solution to easing the shortage.  Yes, I hereby volunteer to be Triage Czar.

 

I’m just in it for the hat.

 

Here’s how I’ll do it. Short of being able to talk to all ICU admit-tees and/or respirator candidates in person, I’ll design a simple questionnaire to be filled out by the patient or their designated medical representative, to determine the patient’s category.

Category 1:
Conservative Christians (and even the moderates and some liberals) and followers of any other religions (and the NRBS – “Not Religious But Spiritual” folks),
particularly those who claim to “believe” in the power and efficacy of prayer (or crystal energy patterns, homeopathy, reiki, etc.),
particularly those who pray for cures  (for any and all conditions, from cancer to “gay-ness”) for themselves or friends and family, and those who credit
supernatural intervention when they recover from illness.

Category 2:
Freethinkers, Brights, Atheists, Agnostics, Humanists: religion-free folk
who hold a naturalistic world view and follow the guidelines of medical science.

How does this work, you ask?

Category 1: Y’all who put your faith in the supernatural, when you are admitted to the hospital you will be assigned a bed in the chaplaincy ward,
where you and the chaplains/religious /spiritual counselors/fellow believers of your choice
can pray pray pray pray pray.

Category 2: Y’all get the doctors, the medicines, the ICU beds, and the respirators.

Surprisingly logical, for a human.

You’re welcome.

Should be a most revealing data gathering experiment, if my advice would be followed and someone kept statistics.   [5]

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
Wildwood: Cooking From the Source in the Pacific Northwest, by Cory Schreiber

Recipe: Apple-Cider Raisin Bread

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [7]

*   *   *

May you “put your money where your mouth is” when it comes to medical care;
May you always remember what is on your toothbrush;
May you have an epic playlist when you are in social isolation;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] Don’t have a cow, dairy industry – I realize that almonds do not lactate.

[2] Actually, kicking some yoga ass is not a thing.

[3] The day after that, all classes were cancelled.

[4] Wikipedia; British Invasion.

[5] Of course, many people of all worldviews, including the supernatural, will have an immune system up to the task and recover on their own.

[6] 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) once recipe from one book.

[7]

* 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.

The Senator I’m Not Speaking To

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Since the Senate’s impeachment kangaroo court trial, moiself  has had a few weeks to ruminate on this…issue. I’m not speaking to this particular senator, because – well, for one thing, why would he listen to me?  If I had the slightest inkling that he would consider my opinion, I’d ask Mitt Romney to seek his party’s nomination for president.

I’d be upfront with him: Senator Romney, I’m not going to vote for you.  After the last three years’ clusterfuck of spineless weasels (the only Congressional mammal not on the endangered species list)…

 

“Hey!”

 

…and their internationally-recognized, shameless, ass-kissing and toadying mendacity, I shall never vote for a candidate who has joined (or has remained in) the Republican party – no matter at what level, from local to state to federal – unless s/he performed the most epic grovel in the history of groveling, explaining why they did not speak up and/or actively oppose #45 and his traitorous, Putin-sucking minions.

How your fellow Republican senators can still roam the halls of Congress – and do so without their aides having to haul them in slop-barrows specially designed to contain their festering, gelatinous excuses for vertebral columns – still baffles me. 

That said, moiself is not lacking sympathy for some members of your party who perhaps have been seriously intimidated and /or genuinely confused by #45 and his barbarian horde supporters. If these people are determined to vote Republican, they deserve a choice other than the traitor/huckster in chief.  So, why not you?

While you and I would likely disagree about so-many-if-not-every issue, especially those wherein politics and religion intersect, you were the sole Republican senator who seemed to take your duty and your oath seriously.

I realize that you are a politician, and likely value that power above all else –  even above the religious beliefs you credit for your political positions, as your stance changes in the past would indicate. Thus, I have no illusions to shatter should it turn out that your currant “courageous stance” was, at least in part, a set up for future political positioning.

How far to the right Romney has gone over the years has had a lot to do with where he was running for office and who he was hoping to reach. Romney’s less extreme side asserted itself in 1994, when he challenged…Ted Kennedy in Massachusetts and portrayed himself as a Rockefeller Republican.

Although Romney lost.…his Rockefeller Republican image served him well when he ran for governor in Massachusetts in 2002 and won.
As governor of Massachusetts, Romney was conservative-leaning but not extreme. He was pro-choice on abortion, and his program for universal health care in that state underscores the Republican influence on the Affordable Care Act of 2010….

But Romney moved way to the right when he ran for president in 2008 and 2012. Romney flip-flopped on abortion, pledged his allegiance to the Christian Right and the anti-choice movement and railed against universal health care…. It’s no coincidence that when Romney ran for the Senate in the 2018 midterms, he did so via Utah rather than Massachusetts….(as) Utah is much more conservative than Massachusetts…

( “Mitt Romney’s flip-flops: How the Utah senator has deceptively tap danced between being a reasonable conservative and a far-right ideologue,” alternet, 1-4-19

 

 

Still, you did what you did.  I thank you for it, even as moiself wonders why you did not publicly call out your fellow senators and try to sway more of them to do the right thing.

It’s ironic to me, that in a political body wherein the vast majority of the Republicans claim some Christian right wing and/or evangelical allegiance, and wherein each was required to take the following oath/affirmation, which referenced their deity –

I solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that in all things appertaining to the trial of the impeachment of Donald John Trump, President of the United States, now pending, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.
(“Opening Ceremonies: The Impeachment trial of  [#45],” Wikipedia)

…that of these self-proclaimed conservative Christians, who generally and historically have abhorred Mormon theology (and denounced as aberrant, untrue, and blasphemous), it was a Mormon who stood alone, doing the right thing.

 

 

*   *   *

Speaking of ruminations, can there ever be enough cow stories?

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
(Chapter 4 In A Series)
Sub Department Of You’re A Special Kind Of Stupid If You Think This Is A Good Idea.
Sub-Sub Department Of No.  Just, No.

There is a link I keep seeing on Facebook (unfortunately posted by a few FB friends), about what moiself fears may become the latest designer pet trend: mini-cows.

“No Joke: These Fluffy, Adorable Mini Cows Make Great Pets! “ reads the headline of the article accompanying the following picture.  “Woah…cows? How on Earth could a person be expected to keep a cow at their home? They’re big, loud, and pretty smelly too, right?
You would be correct about that if not for Lovable Little Ones, a specialty mini-cow breeder…. According to Lovable Little Ones, cows make “exceptional pets that demonstrate a great deal of affection, are very social, and are easy to take care of….” ”.

 

 

Look at those lil’ cows! About the picture: moiself has to admit, it is so cute it makes me want to squeal like a newborn piglet and slap that hog-faced MAGA hat-wearer I saw eating Twinkies ® at the farmer’s market.   [1]

It is *such* a cute picture, no denying it.  Now, can we look at the bigger picture?

As for the “no joke,” headline – I agree, this isn’t funny. If anyone out there is seriously considering this, please, even more seriously reconsider – to the point of consulting a therapist and having them do cow patty aroma therapy with you on a weekly basis –  should you even think about having a mini-cow as a pet.

FYI: I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned cows in this space before, and now, after last week’s  screed concise yet heartfelt presentation of the dairy cow dilemma, two weeks in a row of bovine blog bits? Trust moiself, this is coincidence and not conspiracy.

So, moooooving right along….

 

“What the….”

Sorry.

Mini-cows. I don’t get who comes up with these ideas. Someone has an interest in animals, a bit of time on their hands (and dollar $ign$ in their eye$?), and says to themselves,

“Selves, what can we do? Maybe we could work with existing animal welfare organizations to reduce animal suffering in, oh, say exposing the horrors of industrial farming, reversing habitat degradation which leads to species extinction….
Nope, that doesn’t interest us. We like pets. OK, let’s work for ways to reduce the surplus pet population (1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized each year in the USA  [2]  ), increase spay and neutering options and availability, and find responsible and loving homes for the animals that already exist….

 

 

MYOB and STFU, Martha; we’ve got a better idea.
Let’s take an ungulate mammal – which in 10,500 years of domestication has never been used as a companion animal – and use our knowledge of genetics and selective breeding to scale ‘em down and create a whole new market of “pets.”

The following is from the website of Lovable Little Ones, the farm business blamed credited with starting the trend. On the home page of the site there is a seven-point bullet list titled, Why Miniature Cows? Here are three of the bullet point list’s “answers” I found to be most notable and telling (and primarily aimed at potential mini-cow breeders?):

* Miniature Cows are great tax write-offs for the small acreage farmer.
* Miniature cattle can easily pay for themselves through the sale of calves and potential tax write-offs.
* Miniature Cows can be a great business opportunity. Demand for good quality miniature cows is very high. I currently have a waiting list that extends into 2021….

Yep. Gotcha.

 

 

Hey, it’s not all bad. You can size a cow down, but it will still be a ruminant with a four-chambered stomach whose nutritional requirements equal prodigious intake of fodder resulting in prodigious stool production. Translation: Mini-cow’s crap will not be so mini.

Petty little moiself adores the image that comes to mind:  the clueless/ arrogant (or even well-meaning) suburbanite with a big backyard who is the first in her neighborhood to have a mini-cow. There she is, taking her mini-cow out for a walk, nodding in greeting to dog owners, the latter tipping their metaphorical hats to her as they pass on the sidewalk, the dog owners each holding one bag of dung swinging from their grasp, she struggling to juggle eight bags of cow crap (plus her “mini” scooping shovel) ….

 

And don’t think you’ll get away with saying, “Not me – that was must have been someone else’s cow!” if your neighbors accuse you of being remiss in your scooping.

 

So, good luck with that, y’all. 

But I don’t need to wish *you* good luck, because *you* will have the good sense not to purchase one of these vanity symbols/playthings creatures, right?  As for the breeders, come on, Lovable Little Ones (and other mini-cow sellers, actual or potential) – consider the moniker you chose for your business; then pretend, if necessary, that you really do love those little ones, and don’t create them in the first place.  Put yourself out of this exploitative business.

If you really think it benefits humanity to have yet another designer animal variant, you need to talk with Wally Conron, creator of the Labradoodle:

The inventor of the labradoodle, the ubiquitous, mop-headed designer dog, said that creating the mixed breed was one of his life’s regrets.
Wally Conron, who has been credited with sparking a crossbreeding frenzy resulting in shih poos, puggles and more, said the labradoodle was originally intended as a guide dog….
“I bred the labradoodle for a blind lady whose husband was allergic to dog hair,” Mr. Conron said. “Why people are breeding them today, I haven’t got a clue….I find that the biggest majority (of the doddle-dogs) are either crazy or have a hereditary problem…I’ve done a lot of damage…I’ve created a lot of problems.”
(Conron) said that unscrupulous people setting up “horrific” puppy mills, and backyard breeders who were breeding for bucks, were to blame for producing a glut of unstable dogs that would eventually be euthanized.
In an interview with Psychology Today… Mr. Conron acknowledged that the “doodle” name was “a gimmick” that went global.
“People ask me, ‘Aren’t you proud of yourself?’ I tell them: ‘No! Not in the slightest.’ I’ve done so much harm to pure breeding and made many charlatans quite rich.  I wonder, in my retirement, whether we bred a designer dog — or a disaster!”

(Labradoodle Creator Says the Breed Is His Life’s Regret: “I opened a Pandora box and released a Frankenstein monster,” said Wally Conron,
who developed the mop-headed dog.  NY Times, 9-25-19 )

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of We Are Lost, Hopelessly Lost

As the reality of the latest pandemic sets in, the world’s political leaders realize the need to consult with and empower the world’s greatest scientific/public health minds to coordinate strategy. Meanwhile, in the USA:

Donald Trump picks Mike Pence
to head government response to coronavirus.
( Headlines in newspapers across the nation, 2-26-20)

 

“Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.”
( [then] Congressman Mike Pence, in his op-ed “The Great American Smoke-Out,”  )

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of, I Guess It’s Enough That *We* Will Know It’s There…
But, Seriously?

Last week MH and I had our home’s upstairs carpeting replaced.  We (of course) chose the style/brand/color of the new new carpet, then just agreed with flooring store’s recommended carpet padding.  Come installation time, I’d no idea we would be getting a “woke” padding; i.e., one with a mission (or at least a message):

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Vegan Slow Cooking: For Two or Just For You, by Kathy Hester

Recipe:  Green Beans with Black Bean Sauce with Tofu

My rating:

 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

*   *   *

May you massively reject mini-cows;
May you wonder what charitable causes *your* carpet pad is supporting;
May you continue to speak to leaders who may or may not listen;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] You have your illustrations of cuteness, and I have mine.

[2] As per ASPCA statistics.

[3] 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) once recipe from one book.

[4]

* 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.

 

The Cheese I’m Not Cutting

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Department Of The Problem With Legalization

While I am oh-so-glad that smokers of the Stupid Sticks  [1]   no longer face criminal penalties, moiself is less-than-enthusiastic about the fact that so many of them feel free to share their rank-smelling exhalations in public.  Read: yet another beautiful stroll by the beach, tainted by an redolence that can only be described as festering skunk piss.

 

Just wait until *I* start inhaling.

 

*   *   *

Department Of If Only The Cows Could Talk

Dateline: a rainy Saturday afternoon; Tillamook Creamery.  MH and I are on the self-guided tour…  I’m not all that keen on it, but he says he hasn’t been in years… And I find moiself looking at one of the exhibits and thinking, It’s enough to turn a mostly plant-eating person like me into a full-fledged vegan (I can’t quite get moiself to give up Tillamook’s pepper jack cheese…yet).   I’m also somewhat surprised that animal rights activists haven’t defaced this audacious claim:

 

 

I know enough about the company and its history to respect Tillamook as a co-op business that strives to listen to both its customers and member farmers. But those “Good Start” fiction propaganda claims elide over the facts of what is done to dairy cows in order to get them to produce the massive amounts of milk (it takes ten pounds of milk to produce one pound of cheddar) needed for cheese production.  And it’s not as if cows sign up at the creamery due to the above minimum wage salary and awesome health benefits package. They are forced into an unnatural life;  cows evolved to make and suckle other little cows, not to provide humans with dairy and meat products.

This Good Start exhibit, the first stop on the self-guided tour, makes it sound like Man In His Infinite Wisdom® has improved upon Mother Nature – that heartless bitch who was stupid enough to evolve cows to live in groups, which is oh-so-risky for baby cows as they are in constant danger from “injuries from older, larger cows” which – what, suddenly topple over and crush the calves?  When has that ever been a thing?

Anyway, so they take un-weaned calves away from their mothers and bottle feed – y’all read that correctly, they BOTTLE FEED MILK TO A (non-orphaned) CALF, whose mother and her milk are like, right there? Somehow, in moiself’s mind, that doesn’t add up to making sure the calves are “well cared for.”

I find it sobering   [2]  to consider that those (admittedly delicious) cheeses they make come at quite a cost to the animals (humans included; we are animals, too) which provide the cheese base material.  Costs to human animals include the fact that cheese is loaded (saturated?) with saturated fat; also, consider the resources spent on raising and feeding these animals   [3]  and then trying to protect our remaining wildlands and water supply and atmosphere from the resulting methane and fertilizer and feces runoff pollution, and the dairy industry’s over-sized contribution to global warming: “In the U.S., every gallon of milk (produced) results in greenhouse gases equivalent to 17. 6 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.…”  [4]

 

 

OK; off of my soapbox (milk crate?)…. For now.

Confession: the eleven-year-old in me loved looking through the creamery’s floor-to-ceiling windows and watching the cheese packaging assembly lines.   In my grade school, when the teachers had report card prep or whatever else arose (or maybe when they didn’t want to teach), they put us 5th and 6th graders in the school auditorium and showed us factory documentaries, wherein the wonders of the Wonder Bread (or other mass-produced and packaged) product assembly line were revealed.

Something about the assembly line process – all the machines doing one specialized thing (“I’m the bottle filler!” “I’m the bottle capper!”  “I’m the bottle label applier!”), and the factory employees in hairnets watching the machines, working together to assemble massive amounts of…stuff….  It was mesmerizing.

 

And much better than taking another boring spelling test.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Gratuitous Fart Jokes Can Be Found Anywhere

Particularly, in a cheese factory.

 

 

I hope they’ve invested in a heavy-duty ventilation system to protect their workers.

*   *   *

Department Of Privilege, Celebrity Edition

Diane Keaton is one of my favorite actors. She’s also a good writer. I enjoyed her two memoirs (“Then Again,” and “Let’s Just Say It Wasn’t Pretty”) for her life and acting observations in general, and also for her specific recollections of decades-ago So Cal life that only someone growing up in Santa Ana (as moiself and Keaton both did) can appreciate.

I just finished her latest book, Brother & Sister.  The book revolves around how her relationship with her brother devolved from childhood best buddies to somewhat estranged adults, with she and her sisters trying to be caretaker to their artistically-inclined, poetry-writing, alcoholic, mentally ill brother.  B & S has been…problematic, I’ll say.  Keaton writes with heartfelt simplicity, self-deprecating humor and candor, but this book is…missing something.  It’s lightweight in  ways that have nothing to do with its slim page count.  

Here’s my problem.  Keaton’s brother is alive today (although dying of dementia as I type this) because of a liver transplant he received 20+ years ago. It’s a problem I know about because Keaton is honest enough to include this detail in her book: she grapples (very briefly) with the fact that her name and credentials and connections (read: Hollywood movie $tar) – including a substantial financial donation to a foundation run by the hospital which did the surgery – enabled her brother to get the life-saving transplant he very likely would not otherwise have received.

 

 

Yep.  Her brother was/is a schizophrenic? /bipolar? (he received many mental health diagnoses over the years) and an alcoholic. His mental illness(es) meant he would be unable to follow the stringent, life-long, after-care routines of transplant patients (ability to do so is one of the primary factors used to calculate a patient’s position on the transplant waiting list).  He also was quite upfront about the fact that he did not intend to give up the prodigious alcohol consumption which caused his liver to fail in the first place.  And yet this man got a liver transplant, ahead of others who had been on the list before him.

David Crosby, déjà vu?  Musician Crosby’s drug and alcohol excesses were legendary, even among his hard-partying peers.   Moiself recalls being surprised when I read of his receiving a liver transplant (“He’s still alive?”), then disgusted to hear how other transplant hopefuls remained on the list while a druggie celebrity vaulted ahead of them.

Crosby’s transplant raised a number of questions including: (1) did he receive a donor liver so “quickly” because he was rich and famous, i.e. is the system fair? (2) should someone whose organ has failed because of a previous “abusive lifestyle” even be eligible to receive a transplant in light of the current donor shortage? (3) just how does the system work anyway?
(“David Crosby liver transplant sparks vigorous debate on fairness of allocation system,” Transplant News, 11-30-94)

Keaton was upfront in her book (but quickly moved on) about the fact that the preferential treatment allotted to her brother was unfair, but, after all, she was just a loving sister doing what she could for her brother.  Moiself, The Suspicious Writer Who’s Had Experience In Such Matters, ®  can’t help but think that Keaton’s brother getting an organ transplant due to Keaton’s connections is somewhat parallel to the fact that Brother & Sister, a slim rumination on family relations, would not have been published if it had been written by another (non-celebrity) author.

 

*   *   *

Department Of More Fun With Writers;
Sub-Department Of Yet Another Southern Border Crisis?

English novelist Anna Sewell, who was not a horse, wrote Black Beauty, a groundbreaking, “first person” narrative memoir of the titular stallion’s life as a London cab horse.  Beloved by millions over the years, BB was influential in inspiring nineteenth century England’s animal welfare movement.

John Steinbeck was an educated, financially comfortable, native Californian, not an illiterate, dirt-poor “Okie.”  Steinbeck penned Grapes of Wrath, arguably one of the masterpieces of American literature, his novel about desperate, impoverished Midwestern tenant farmers fleeing the Dust Bowl and economic hardship.

John Patrick Shanley is an Irish-American dramatist and husband and father. He wrote the screenplay for Moonstruck, creating Loretta Castorini, a childless, female, widowed Italian-American bookkeeper, as its memorable protagonist.

Ursula LeGuin was neither a dark-skinned androgynous denizen of an alien planet nor a Roman princess in Trojan war times, yet this American heterosexual white Earthling, managed to convincingly create the lives of these beings and more in books like The Left Hand Of Darkness, the Earthsea series, and Lavinia

Stephen King, who was not  [5]   a shy, bullied 16-year-old girl raised by a fanatical, hyper-religious single mother, somehow managed to authentically bring to life that character and more in his first published novel, Carrie.

Boys and girls, can you guess which of the latest writing-outside-your-tribe literary controversies I am not-so-obliquely referring to?

American Dirt, in case you haven’t heard, is a novel about a Mexican woman and her son, the only survivors of their family’s murder by a drug cartel, who flee for their lives and head for the USA-Mexico border.  AD was chosen as an Oprah’s Book Club selection (which almost guarantees a bajillion copies sold, plus movie options) and received glowing reviews, including from Latina authors and actors such as Sandra Cisneros and Julia Alvarez and Salma Hayek.…until someone pointed out that the novel about Mexican immigrants was written by a non-Mexican, and the cultural identity police dog-piled on.

The book’s author identifies as white and Latina and has a Puerto Rican grandmother, but that’s not Latina enough for some.  Seemingly overnight the book went being reviewed as a captivating story that could “change hearts and transform policies” (Alvarez) to being “racist” and “filled with stereotypes.”  Just as quickly, the author went from to literary prodigy to pariah…her publisher even cancelled book tour appearances because of “specific threats to the booksellers and the author.”

 

 

Education and history professor Jonathan Zimmerman wrote about how reaction to the book is emblematic of our cultural “shaming” and “mob mentality” phenomena. There are people attacking the book who don’t know anything about it except that it’s been declared “problematic” and that’s enough to get them to revile the author on social media platforms:

Mexican-American actress Salma Hayek admitted that she hadn’t read American Dirt before she hailed Oprah Winfrey for recommending it and for “giving voice to the voiceless.” But then Hayek heard a different voice — also known as a Twitter mob — and she changed her tune.

“I thank all of you who caught me in the act of not doing my research, and for setting me straight,” Hayek posted the following day, “and I apologize for shouting out something without experiencing it or doing research on it.”

Do you think Hayek read the book in the intervening 24 hours and came to a new judgment of it? Think again. Her “research” was of the social media variety, confirming that a lot of people were very offended by American Dirt. And that was all she needed to know.

A writer for the celebrity website Hola! congratulated Hayek for backtracking. “It takes guts to admit when you’re wrong,” wrote Robert Peterpaul, “but Salma Hayek is gutsy.” Really? How much courage is required to put your finger in the air, figure out which way the Instagram winds are blowing, and adjust your opinions accordingly?

( “ ‘American Dirt’ controversy scores another win for mob mentality,”
Philadelphia Inquirer 2-3-20)

 

 

Can a book be “good” or “bad” because of/in spite of what you think about the author’s personal characteristics, or their “qualifications” to write it in the first place?  I’m not talking about textbooks, instruction manuals, or nonfiction – not talking about how, yes, you’d want a rocket scientist and not a manicurist to write a rocket science manual. But the qualifications for a fiction writer to write on any subject are a bit more subjective, and include interest, imagination, and empathy.

There are legitimate beefs being brought up in the AD brouhaha, having to do with the historical marginalization of “non-mainstream” voices.  From talk show gag writing to movie directing, arts and literature are (still) fields rigged by and designed to favor white males.  Many of these men are sincere allies of female/non-white artists; nevertheless, it is sadly apparent that they don’t understand that the playing field is (still) not level, as indicated by comments such as, that when it comes to voting for awards they “…would never consider diversity in matters of art. Only quality.”   [6]

 

 

There are *so many* conversations to be had about the historic and ongoing dominance of the while/male perspective in the arts in general and literature in particular, including who gets to decide what is “quality” and who’s perspectives are publishable or award-worthy…and who gets a million dollar advance for their book.

Novelist Ann Patchett, pointing out that the AD author had received a seven-figure advance for her novel:

“I read the book and I loved it…There’s a level of viciousness that comes from a woman getting a big advance and a lot of attention….  If it had been a small advance with a small review in the back of the book section, I don’t think we’d be seeing the same level of outrage.”
( “Cultural appropriation, say critics. Sexism, defenders say of the criticism. How ‘American Dirt’ launched a publishing firestorm,” The Oregonian, 1-27-20)

The thing is, now that the caca has hit the fan, no one, from layperson reader to professional literary critic, will be able to read or review the book objectively without their reactions and opinions being viewed through the warped lens of identity politics.  As I have written before and will doubtless write again, my main concern in these literary skirmishes is my concern for censorship (and worse yet, IMHO, self-censorship), in that a writer’s personal characteristics are deemed more important than their capacity for imagination, research, and empathy.

One of the most dangerous but effective kinds of censorship for a writer is when “they” get you to do it to yourself. I’ve watched with lip-curling disdain and alarm while claims of authenticity and charges of appropriation have seeped into the literary and publishing world.

The stench of the well-intended, silent-but-deadly admonition to “write what you know” has become “write what you are,” and the cherished ideals of imagination, empathy and craft are in danger of becoming subservient to identity politics.

In this write-what-you-know/are, A & A (authenticity & appropriation) world, an author cannot – or rather, should not – create or even write about certain characters unless the author shares what the self-appointed A & A police deem as those characters’ primary representative markers (hint: “race,” ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, dis/ability….).

(“The Comments I’m Not Making,” 9-27-19)

 

 

Yep, I’m quoting moiself.  Because…I can.

“I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.”
(George Bernard Shaw)

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [7]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
Vegan Planet, by Robin Robertson

Recipes:
* Mahogany Eggplant
* Red Bean and Sweet Potato Curry

My rating for both recipes:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [8] 

*   *   *

May you “play fair” in matters of life and death and organ transplants;
May you realize when the playing fields are and are not level;
May you eat less cheese (but tell more cutting-the-cheese jokes);
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] My old nickname for joints, because of the effect it had on those who, unlike Bill Clinton,* did* inhale.

[2] And it was the early afternoon and I was already sober.

[3] More farmland in the USA is devoted to raising meat-animal feed than food for human animals.

[4] “Cows vs. Nuts: Who Gets to Be Called Milk, and Are They Climate Friendly?”

[5] Although, with a Stephen King book, anything could happen….

[6] Author Stephen King made that Tweet, regarding the 2020 “Oscars-So-White-male” controversy. King, a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, gets to vote in certain Oscar award categories.

[7] 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) once recipe from one book.

[8]

* 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.

 

The Images I’m Not Unseeing

2 Comments

Department Of Just Wondering

Moiself recently heard an ad for a health supplement product which, according to the enthusiastic supplement hawker, contains “…both prebiotics and probiotics.” This made me wonder (but not enough that I Googled it, found out the answer, and destroyed the mystery) what that means; as in, I don’t exactly understand the terms.   Are prebiotics biotics before they turn pro?

 

*   *   *

Department Of I Can’t Unsee This,
And Now, Neither Can You

Dateline: Wednesday am. As usual at the breakfast table, the second section of the NY Times  [1]  I read is the Food section.  Imagine moiself’s surprise when my eyes are seared greeted, not by the customary page 1 depiction of a delectable dish, but by a photograph of hirsute, floppy torsos gathered around a kitchen island. The sickening spectacle picture accompanies an article titled, The Joy of Cooking Naked.

“Despite the occasional splatter burn, nudists say their relationship to eating, at home or in restaurants, is better and healthier without all the clothing.”

Well, of course they do.

I don’t know about y’all, but nothing takes moiself further from the concept of a “better” and “healthier” relationship to food that seeing man-boob hairs dangling precariously above the salad bowl.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of You May Notice An Ongoing Theme

Yet another rumination of mine related to my previous blog posts sparked by the story of Chanel Miller, the writer   [2]  who was raped by the Stanford student/athlete.  Miller’s profound query/accusation about social mores and attitudes about men and woman and rape and “consent” keeps coming back to mind…because the world we (as in, we women) live in keeps reminding me:

“When a woman is assaulted, one of the first questions people ask is, ‘Did you say no?’ This question assumes the answer was always yes, and that it is her job to revoke the agreement. To defuse the bomb she was given.
But why are they allowed to touch us until we physically fight them off?

Why is the door open until we have to slam it shut?

Yet another such reminder surfaced when I was in Tacoma, helping daughter Belle move to a new apartment.   Belle and I discussed the “reminder” (ah, the intimacies that can be traded while riding in a U-Haul cargo van) as well as how she, moiself, and other womenfolk we know have pledged, not to hector, but to remind menfolk at every opportunity how time- and resource-consuming it is to navigate as a female in this world. We’d like y’all to know that such reminders, when we share with you our stories of the latest “incident,” are not occasional occurrences. Rather, they happen All. The. Time.

The reminder of which I speak:

Dateline: two weeks ago Friday, in the early afternoon.  My car is parked around the corner from the entrance to the apartment building Belle is moving into.  We are each attired in clothing that could best be described as “moving friendly” (casual/exercise clothes).  Belle is on one side of the open rear door to my car; I am at the other side; both of us are about to pick up boxes packed with books, kitchen items, linens, etc.  

 

Is this enticing behavior, or what?

 

A man in his late 20s-early 30s swaggers by us on the sidewalk, reeking of attitude.  He is dressed inappropriately for the weather – no jacket, sweatshirt, or upper layers despite the temperature being in the low 40s, only a thin, tight tank top covers his muscled torso. When he is about fifteen feet past my car he turns around and calls out to Belle:

“I don’t mean to bother you, but you are ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS.”

Belle flashes a WTF look at me and mutters, “Uh…yeah…right.” I doubt he heard her.

I-don’t-mean-to-bother-you Man keeps walking, backward, as if (despite his claim that he didn’t want to bother her) waiting for Belle’s reaction.  And – I found this interesting – he makes direct eye contact with *moiself* while doing so, in a way that reminds me of a schoolyard bully issuing a challenge.  After three to four slow beats, he turns back around and struts down the street, on his original course to…wherever.

Belle and I heft boxes from my car to the apartment building’s entryway.  We return for more boxes; Belle gets there first.  As I approach the car I see Man #2 walk by, behind Belle, who has her back to him as she reaches for another box. This man remains silent, but cranes his neck, his eyes brazenly fixed in the proverbial glued-to-her-ass mode, as he slowly saunters past her.

As soon as Lech #2 passes out of earshot I tell Belle what I’ve seen.  In (only partially) mock outrage, I declare, “What is it with Tacoma men?!”

But before the comment fully escapes my mouth, I’ve already answered it, silently, to myself, with the exact rebuttal Belle says aloud:

“It’s not *Tacoma* men; it’s just…men.”

 

“If you hadn’t been dressed so provocatively….”

 

We talked “about it” later that afternoon, in the afore-mentioned U-Haul.   [3]   “About it” includes how a part of me wanted to say to I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man, when he made the comment to Belle and then looked at me, “Hey, I’m her MOTHER.” “About it” also includes how another part of me wanted to ask him, “Why do you do that? (something about his manner assured me that was not the first time he’d commented upon the looks of an unknown – to him – female, in public). “Dude, does that *work* for you? Is she supposed to say, ‘Oh gee, thanks so much, come back in 30 minutes for your blow job?’ ”

We talked about how often these things happen to Belle and her female friends.  Moiself recalled how it was the *exception* to the rule when I was her age and, say, out for a run, to *not* receive any commentary from a man or men (passing by, in cars or on foot), about my appearance.  [4]  We talked about reactions Belle has received from people when she shares such stories – how a few folks, mostly men but sometimes also women, get…not angry, but slightly irritated or confused, and say something ala, “Well, what’s wrong with it?  Maybe he (I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man) was just one of those people who’s made a vow to say something nice to someone every day.”

I haven’t that vow, but as my children and husband can vouch, I do something similar: I make “nice” comments to strangers (both men and women), at every opportunity.  But, I know the difference between what I do – offer innocuous, always positive remarks –  and what I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man did; I know why I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man’s remark bothers most women, even if we cannot always fully articulate *why* it bothers us (hint: because we know we’ll get slammed for doing so).

I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man made a very personal remark to a person
with whom he had no personal relationship.

For a variety of reasons (mostly having to do with an, oh-this-is-serious/life-is-short realization I had many years back), I tell people, acquaintances and strangers alike, something complimentary about them when it comes to my mind. I’m no fucking Pollyanna, it’s just when I see something that makes me smile, I want to share it.

“Excuse me, that’s a cool coat you’re wearing.”

“Dude, that is one serious backpack – what a color!”    [5]

“Those shoes are fantastic, and they look really comfortable.”

“Oh, that looks like the happiest puppy in the world.”

“That handbag is great – I love all the pockets….”

All of these commendations have something to do with what the person *did* (they chose the backpack or shoes), with choices they made. They actively chose to buy that coat or adopt that dog or use that purse today; they didn’t choose their gender, bone structure, or physique.  Those type of observations (“Chartreuse is a happy color for a grocery bag, isn’t it?!”) aren’t personal, not in the intrusive and suggestive way comments about your body or appearance – especially from a stranger – are.

 

All this intensity deserves a Baby Sloth In PJs break.

 

Department Of Getting To The Point

A simple yet intense reality:  the risks faced or taken by I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man, vis-à-vis those of any woman whom I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Man  is supposedly not bothering, are quite different, particularly when it comes to possible outcomes of their encounter.  He gambles with rejection; she chances assault and murder.

What does he risk, at most, in making “compliments” to a (female) stranger?  She might ignore him; she might do the embarrassed smile thing; she might take offense and tell him to shut up or FUCK OFF,”….    He risks having his feelings hurt.

She, however: if she responds or acknowledges him *in any way,* risks encouraging a man she does not know into thinking he can approach her.  Have you ever talked to a police officer or counselor or other professionals who specialize in dealing with sexual assault cases? They’ll tell you that an MO for some sexual predators is to “test” women and girls, by making comments to them and seeing if they can get a response.  Ask almost any woman who’s been in this situation and has had some man, seemingly just passing by, say something to her, and then turn around and approach (or even follow her) when they get a response (even a negative one).

It’s lose-lose for women when they encounter I-don’t-want-to-bother-you Men. If you turn a cold shoulder/give no response at all, or or respond negatively to the stranger(s) who make comments to you, you are a cold/unfriendly/unkind/humorless bitch who’s making the world a mean and suspicious place.  If you do respond positively in any way, and then the man (or some man after that) approaches, pursues, and harasses (or assaults, or….) you, “Well, what were you expecting?”  “Why were you talking to or accepting compliments from a stranger?” “Why did you “lead him on?”….

 

 

My daughter’s new apartment is similar to her previous one, in terms of the relative sketchiness of its downtown Tacoma neighborhood.  Although Belle will be mostly walking to and from work, she opted to pay an extra fee each month for access to a parking space in a secured garage in her apartment’s basement.   I’m glad she did, even as I rue that extra expense for her, as well as the other costs that she and her female peers weigh and take on, in matters of security and safety that don’t occur to their male friends.  We live in the kind of world where it is more expensive to just navigate your way as a female – you pay extra in a variety of ways, from financial to psychological, to have one more degree of safety. One more thing that a guy her age walking to and from work, or to and from his car parked on the street, might not even consider.

 

Men are afraid that women will laugh at them.
Women are afraid that men will kill them.
(Margaret Atwood, Canadian novelist)

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
Vegan For Everybody, by America’s Test Kitchen

Recipe:  Potato Vindaloo

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [7]    

*   *   *

May you keep your torso (etcetera) covered in *my* kitchen;
May you enjoy satisfying revenge dreams about causing strangers
who leer at your daughter
to have their genitals acquire Necrotizing Soft Tissue Infections;
May you refrain from commenting on the bodies of strangers;   [8]
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] The first section is Arts, so I can do their KenKen puzzles.[2] Know My Name, a memoir of Miller’s assault and her life before and after her assailant’s trial and conviction.

[3] Which I’d rented for the heavy-duty, big ass items such, as bed, dresser, futon, etc., which would not fit into my Subaru Outback nor Belle’s Honda Fit.

[4] The intelligible comments were always related to that; sometimes where were just whistles, grunts, groans, and words that might be closely translated to, ”Hey baby….”

[5]  Actually, I rarely address guys as “dude” in real life. That’s what blogs are for.

[6] 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) once recipe from one book.

[7]

* 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.

[8] Or acquaintances, for that matter.  Unless either seems at risk of shedding man-boob hairs in your Caesar salad.

The Sun Salutations I’m Not Counting

Comments Off on The Sun Salutations I’m Not Counting

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.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of If My Hamstring Muscles Are Still Sore After 36 Hours
Have I Reached Enlightenment?

Yoga Class:
“Why 108 Sun Salutations?”

Yoga Teacher:
“It’s an auspicious number in yoga; I know 108 sounds like a lot…”

Moiself:
“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    [1]  ); there are nine planets and twelve astrological signs…9 x 12 = 108  [2]….

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.

*   *   *

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.  [3]   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.

*   *   *

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.

 

*   *   *

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.”   [4]   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!?

 

*   *   *

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,   [5]  all around the house.

 

Like this one, a (rare) yellow/green costumed variant.

 

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.

No.
Nothing.
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.

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Silver Palate Cookbook , by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

Recipe:  Lentil and Walnut Salad
My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher   [7]  

*   *   *

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.   [8] Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

*   *   *

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:

SIMPLE PLEASURES 

( 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!

*   *   *

 

[1] Although the Catholics halved the number to 59 beads, in perhaps an effort to claim originality or refute charges of plagiarism.

[2] 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.

[3] 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? 

[4] Yes, that would be MH.

[5] 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.

[6] 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.

[7]

* 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.

[8] In our pear tree.

The Murder Mystery I’m Not Solving

Comments Off on The Murder Mystery I’m Not Solving

Department Of Why Not All Dreams Should Become Reality

Dateline: last Friday (early Saturday); a dream from which I woke moiself up at 5:30 AM. In that early morning reverie, I was the lead detective on a murder case.   [1]    No one was mourning the victim, “XY,” a well-known serial rapist and sexual harasser whose money and political connections had kept him from prosecution for years.   [2]   XY had been found dead in his mansion, lying on a floor in the proverbial Pool of Blood ®. He had been beaten to death with an as-of-yet unidentified, blunt, mallet-like object, then castrated postmortem with an instrument which, according to the coroner, was likely a pair of pinking shears.

Bear with me for a moment.  Do you remember the song, Who Let The Dogs Out, the highly annoying festering turd of a song one-hit wonder by The Baha Men? 

 

Yes, and I’d been trying to forget it for years, thank you SO MUCH for reminding me….

 

Well, then, imagine hearing the song’s chorus over and over and over again, in a dream – you’d try to wake yourself up from that, wouldn’t you?

 

Only the version (of the song’s chorus) in my dream was much, much…stranger.

Detective moiself had, using false pretenses and in true Movie Murder Mystery ® fashion, gathered a group of likely suspects – XY’s known or suspected sexual assault victims – in the drawing room of XY’s mansion.   For the kind of reason that can only make sense in a dream, my Professional Detective Strategy ® strategy was to have all the room’s exits blocked after the suspects had been seated and get a confession by repeatedly playing a recording of Who Let The Dogs Out, wherein the chorus had been altered thusly:

Who cut the balls off?
(Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof)
Who cut the balls off?
(Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof)
Who cut the balls off?
(Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof)
Who cut the balls off?

I managed to wake up/escape from the dream before any of the suspects confessed.

 

My guess is Ms. Scarlett, in the kitchen, with a meat tenderizer.  [3]

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Thank You For Sharing That Previous Story,
Which Was, Truly, The Epitome Of The Holiday Spirit

 

*   *   *

Department Of Oh Yeah, Solve This Too, While You’re At It
Sub Department of the Fleeting Dreams Of Youth

In last week’s post, moiself asked (not entirely rhetorically, but certainly wishfully) for the proverbial Someone to solve the problem of redesigning life to accommodate humanity’s lengthening lifespans.  According to Major News Sources,   [4]  the problem remains unsolved.

C’mon, folks, you can do better. If that particular dilemma doesn’t spur your imagination, how’s about the ongoing issue of cleaning up, or at least detoxifying, our environment – starting with the big one: the air we breathe.  We can go a couple of days without water and a couple of weeks without food, but a couple of minutes without breathable air and we are toast.

A major unpleasant memory from my childhood (in late 1960’s – early 1970’s So Cal) was dealing with Smog Alerts.  Activities were curtailed; recess and PE classes cancelled….  Flash forward to the present, and whenever we have had “low quality” air alerts – as when the smoke from recent year’s wildfires drifted south or north to the Portland metro area – my watery eyes and that distinctive“catch” I feel in my chest/bronchial tubes takes me back to those wretched Smog Alert days.

 

And the yoga teacher says, “Remember to breathe deeply…oh, never mind.”

 

In the late 1960s through the early 1980s California’s enactment of innovative, first-in-the-nation, vehicle emission control strategies and standards actually worked, and although the state’s population continued to rise its air quality improved…for a few decades, at least  [5].  But while politicians and scientists joined forces to cobble together stop-gap measures, a grade school girl dreamed of a fantastical invention which would solve the problem forever.

During an interval of several months when I was 11 or 12 years old, I had dreams wherein I invented colossal fan/vacuum type devices which, when placed in strategic locations across the state, sucked in air and ran the air through a series of filters, which strained out the polluting particulate matter and compacted the pollutants into bricks, particle boards, and other (non-toxic) building materials. Not only would our air be clean, this invention also protected trees and forests, as the need for lumber was greatly curtailed.

Yep, it seemed realistic to me at the time. The decades passed, and the Scientist/Engineer Who Saved The World…well, it very obviously didn’t turn out to be moiself.  So,I know it’s the Holiday Season ® and we’ve all got things to do, but can y’all get to work on this, maybe next year?

 

Yeah, okay…but smoky bands of filthy air encircle the globe, and my imagination in all its glory isn’t fixing that….

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:  Never mind.  EE was preempted this week by my annual ladies’ lefse Party. 

 

Lars the Luscious Lefse man was a late but welcome addition to the party.

 

And how do the ladies feel about lefse and Lars?

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

*   *   *

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.   [7]   Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

 

 

May you solve murder mysteries and more in your sleep;
May your imagination and your knowledge be complementary;
May Lars the Luscious Lefse man grace  at least one of your holiday parties;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] I am attributing my having recently seen “Knives Out” for that dream occupation.

[2] Imagine that!?!  Only in a dream, right?

[3] If you don’t get the reference to the board game Clue, I sentence you to repeated listening sessions featuring “Who Let The Dogs Out” until you publicly confess your cultural illiteracy.

[4] Read: the tabloids whose headlines I scan while standing in line at the grocery story.

[5] So Cal air  pollution is rising again.  Rising numbers of people and vehicles outnumber good intentions and inventions. Waaaah.

[6] 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 9at least) once recipe from one book.

[7] In our pear tree.

The War I’m (Still) Not Declaring

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Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 2 in a series

“The idea of a “War on Christmas” has turned things like holiday greetings and decorations into potentially divisive political statements. People who believe Christmas is under attack point to inclusive phrases like “Happy Holidays” as (liberal) insults to Christianity….
“Christmas is a federal holiday celebrated widely by the country’s Christian majority. So where did the idea that it is threatened come from?…
“The most organized attack on Christmas came from the Puritans, who banned celebrations of the holiday in the 17th century because it did not accord with their interpretation of the Bible….”
(“How the ‘War on Christmas’ Controversy Was Created,” NY Times, 12-19-16)

*   *   *

Department Of If Something Seems Familiar, That’s Because It’s Time For
My Annual Holiday Traditions Explained ® Post

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

( Other than, according to  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, 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 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!

“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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