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The Face I’m Not Touching

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Department Of Reconsideration

“One of the reasons I do appreciate social media is that it allows us to connect with people we wouldn’t be able to normally…
And since right now that’s everyone, I am back!”
(3-25 announcement from a Facebook friend, who had announced
her hiatus from social media just last month)

Something moiself  is pondering these days: Amidst the warnings from psychologists about how social media is isolating us – a concern I have long shared – I’ve noticed that, in these times of self-imposed/government-encouraged physical distancing, social media usage is one of the tools keeping so many of us connected.

 

A fascinating dichotomy…and such deep thoughts, for a human.

 

*   *   *

Department of The Corona Virus Playlist
Surf Groups Edition

A genre of music springing from and influenced by Southern California surf culture, Surf Music had its heyday in the early to mid-60’s, then had a revival in the punk era. The Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, The Ventures, and The Surfaris are examples of the first wave (sorry), and The Surf Punks of the latter.

Moiself  has listed some of those groups’ song titles which, IMHO are applicable to our social-isolating, transmission–paranoid, COVID-19 times, and which, in small groupings, imply a related story.

* All Alone
* All Summer Long
* At My Window

* In My Room
* Busy Doin’ Nothing
* Locals Only
* Point Panic
* Drag City
* Shut Down

* I Get Around
* Don’t Worry Baby

* Come Go With Me
* Cuddle Up
*Island Fever
* Heroes and Villains

* Do You Wanna Dance?
* Kiss Me Baby

* Caroline, No
* Help Me Rhonda
* Wipe Out*
* Dead Man’s Curve

Fun Factoid: Only one of the five original Beach Boys (Dennis Wilson) knew how to surf. The rest were…not quite hodads, but they didn’t surf.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Calling All Nerds Geeks Application Designers:

Make me a phone-slap app, okay?  Here’s what moiself  is looking for: something to punish robocallers and/or telemarketers, who have this new technology which enables them to use someone’s else’s caller ID.

Have you ever answered your cellphone because the ID said it was your husband’s cell or your home phone number…but it turned out to be Rajni from Bangalore trying to approximate a Tennessee twang?  That annoys me to no end (the spam call; not the twang).  I want an app that, with a swipe of my finger, will send a shock to the call’s originating number – something that could be the equivalent of a slap across the face.

 

“And don’t ever interrupt ‘The Great British Baking Show’ again!”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Keeping Busy Mature Contemplation And Self-Improvement

 

Before.

 

In these times of social distancing, many if not all of us are taking the opportunity to work on special projects around our homes or apartments, or take on more extensive plans for what might fall under the categories of Personal Growth and/or Self Improvement.

These are good times for looking deeper into one’s own psyche, and exploring the basic human needs and wants that change as we age and accumulate wisdom and experience.  Moiself, for one, has already begun

* Re-learning the basic French I studied in college;
(Translation: organizing my sock drawer)

* Redesigning future vacation plans to account for
the increased carbon footprint of overseas travel;
(and what about my t-shirt drawer?)

 

* Updating my IRA portfolio and retirement plans;
(should socks be arranged by pattern, or color?)

* Researching community volunteerism opportunities
for when the social distancing requirements are lifted;
(if organizing by pattern, do the tie-dyes go near the argyles or the polkadots?)

 

After.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Helpful Hints

The Experts ® say we are supposed to wash our hands for 20 seconds, and that singing “The Happy Birthday Song” is a good way to time yourself.  Not over my sink, it isn’t.

I really loathe that tune.  When it comes to expressing birthday greetings to someone, my ditty of choice is the Mary Tyler Moore Show theme. As long as y’all don’t get all gender specific on me, who wouldn’t want to be serenaded with an upbeat song that expresses such life-affirming sentiments:

♫  “Who can turn the world on with her smile?
Who can take a nothing day, and suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?
Well it’s you girl, and you should know it
With each glance and every little movement you show it
Love is all around, no need to waste it
You can never tell, why don’t you take it
You’re gonna make it after all….”  ♫

Once again, I digress.

So, to time myself at hand-washing instead of singing the insipid happy birthday song, I have been soaping my paws while warbling two rounds of my childhood summer camp favorite: Scab Sandwich.  If you don’t know the tune, you could improvise your own; in case you haven’t heard the lyrics – and in that case, what kind of rock did you grow up under? – moiself  has oh-so-thoughtfully provided them:

Scab Sandwich: pus on top
Turkey vomit; camel snot;
Crushed-up eyeballs; monkey doo –
scab sandwich good for you!

You’re welcome. This has been a public service announcement.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Extreme Times Call For Extreme Measures

“… some face touching is almost automatic. For example, neuroscientifically, scratching an itch on your face (or anywhere else) is an automatic reflex, meaning you do it without thinking.
When you have an itch, it registers as a complex pain-like sensation. Scratching or touching an itch feels good because it temporarily interrupts the discomfort. When we’re in pain, our instinct is to withdraw, but when we itch, our reflex is to scratch, according to the American Academy of Asthma, Allergy and Immunology.

(“Why you can’t stop touching your face, according to science and psychology,”
cnbc, 3-21-20)

 

Officer, I’d like to make a citizen’s arrest….

 

Confession: moiself  can’t stop touching my face.

Like most people with seasonal allergies (aka, ”hay fever”), these  DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE  admonitions are proving to be a bit of a challenge for me.  I think I’m doing it right/paying attention, and then, seemingly out of nowhere, it’s as if a stranger’s hand reaches out to scratch my nose or rub my eyes.  Perhaps I need to take out a restraining order on moiself?

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Hope For Humanity

Harold:
You sure have a way with people.

Maude:
Well, they’re my species!

 

 

I persistently battle my urge to give in to My Inner Curmudgeon, ® and generally if privately (well…until now) think the average American has an IQ equivalent to their inseam length and an EQ no bigger than a hamster’s hemorrhoid.

(For those of y’all with a low IQ, EQ refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others, by utilizing at least three skills: emotional awareness [the ability to identify and name one’s own emotions]; the ability to harness those emotions [and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving]; and the ability to manage emotions [ including regulating one’s own emotions when necessary and helping others to do the same].)   [1]

However, following video illustrates why, ultimately, I like my species.  No matter how bad/silly/frustrating/batshit crazy Things Get, some people will do some things like this: In a store in Los Angeles, professional musicians Bonnie von Duyke and Emer Kinsella donned lifejackets, went to the empty toilet paper aisle, and serenaded the ransacked shelves to the tune of Nearer, My God, To Thee.   [2]

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
World Vegetarian, by Madhur Jaffrey
Recipe: Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Crushed Green Peas and Cilantro

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

*   *   *

Department Of Advanced Psychology Tip For The Day

It takes so little to say, “You’re right; that’s a good idea,” and it makes the recipient (the “you” in “you’re”) so happy.

 

 

*   *   *

May you always turn the world on with your smile;
May you be on the receiving end of a serenade (with, preferably, an upbeat song,
ala The Mary Tyler Moore theme, and not the soundtrack to a disaster movie);
May you be able to stop touching your &%$!?#*  face;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] “What is Emotional Intelligence,” Psychology Today.

[2]  the song the ship bandmaster plays as the Titanic sinks, in the 1997 movie.

[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) one 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 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 Habits I’m Not Building

Comments Off on The Habits I’m Not Building

Department Of Is Writing This Weekly Blog A Good Habit,
Or Indicative of Moiself’s Amazing Willpower?

At the end of last month, just around the time when folks might be thinking of making New Year’s resolutions, the Hidden Brain podcast ran an appropriate episode:

“At the beginning of the year, many of us make resolutions for the months to come. We vow to work out more, procrastinate less, or save more money. Though some people stick with these aspirations, many of us fall short. How do we actually develop good habits and maintain them? What about breaking bad ones?”
( “Creatures Of Habit: How Habits Shape Who We Are — And Who We Become”
(12-30-19), intro to Hidden Brain podcast)

Moiself had listened to the podcast when it first ran, but did so while distracted and didn’t remember much about it.  When MH asked me earlier this week if I had listened to it, I decided to relisten. MH found the podcast, especially the parts about how people use psychological “tricks” on themselves to build habits, to be very interesting:

“It turns out that when you build a habit, it’s like putting on a set of unconscious mental blinders. Once in place, the blinders protect you from temptations and distractions.
The more you ignore those temptations, the stronger the blinders become. To put this another way, habits are self-reinforcing. They can be difficult to start but once in place, they have a life of their own because they stop being conscious and become automatic and unconscious.
In fact, once you have developed a habit, you will stick to it even if the alternative is objectively easier.”

 

 

I was more interested in the mini-debate/subtext of the episode.  The host, NPR Social Science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, and his guest, Wendy Wood, USC professor of psychology and business, bantered about the idea that “… significant numbers of Americans believe that the way to change their behavior is through self-control, that willpower is the key to either making changes that stick or to making changes that fail to stick.”  Wood cited several examples of willpower fail, and said that “performing a behavior,” which leads to habit-building, is more effective.

IMHO, the points that were made re habit vs. willpower were mere quibbling over semantics. For true behavior and/or lifestyle alteration you need both, and there is overlap. Neither the host nor his guest made the delineation clear; it seemed as they were acknowledging – or assuming – that there is something “judgy” about using the term willpower, so they refer to “establishing good habits” instead of “exercising willpower.”

As someone who, over the years, has established and maintained several good habits (e.g. regular exercise) as well as taken on a few bad ones (never you mind), it is both my opinion and experience that you can’t have good habits without willpower, and vice-versa.  “Good habits” and willpower” are complementary, not conflicting.  But as long as we aren’t sure about this, someone will try to convince us one way or another.

 

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Life Is Tough But It’s Even Tougher If You’re Stupid
Chapter 3 in a series

When driving to or from Tacoma,   [1] one of the sights I have come to look forward to is the Right Wing Uncle Sam Billboard ® , on the east side of I-5 near Chehalis, WA.

 

 

This message is par for the course for Right Wing Uncle Sam (RWUS), whose baleful countenance reminds me of Balok, the fearsome (and false, as it turns out) alien from the Star Trek TOS episode, The Corbomite Maneuver.

 

 

The billboard is notorious in These Here Parts (it even has its own Wikipedia entry!), and has been up since the 1970s. The original wackadoodle wingnut archconservative who erected and maintained the billboard and changed the messages weekly died over a decade ago; his survivors have kept it going.

Poor RWUS, seemingly doomed for life to hector travelers north and south (it’s a two-sided wingnut fest billboard!). No wonder his severe visage, as if he were trying to maintain composure while being administered a perpetual colonoscopy by government-employed, immigrant gay Russian liberal Muslims dressed like John Kerry.   [2]

Returning to Oregon on Sunday after a long weekend in Tacoma, my view on the trip south was a rather mild, for RWUS: “Be glad Pelosi is not commander-in-chief.”  I forget what it was on the trip north…but RWUS seems to be losing his fire.  I used to count on his irrational screeds entertaining and stimulating messages to lull me out of highway hypnosis and remind moiself to pull over at the next rest stop and do some calisthenics.

 

*   *   *

Blog Department Of I’m Too Old For This…Except When I’m Not.

My most recent opportunity to see Right Wing Uncle Sam Billboard ® was last weekend, when I ventured north to help daughter Belle move from her tiny studio apartment into a roomier rental.  Belle is much cuter than but just as strong as the proverbial ox…

…as I was, at her age (well, the strong part).  But the Strong Young People ® who were promised to help Belle and I never materialized.  So it was my daughter and moiself, the latter feeling (and probably looking) more like the Decrepit Crypt Keeper than the Dynamic Couch Mover after two days of schlepping furniture and boxes up and down stairs and in and out of vans….

“I’m almost forty years older than you,” I huffed on Day 2, trying (and failing) to find a handhold on one end of a very heavy and extremely softly upholstered (read: slippery) couch.  “I’m too old for this…I can’t do this anymore.”

“But, you *are* doing this,” Belle remarked.

Which caused moiself  to wonder, Who raised this smartass?

 

“You want the futon *where*?”

 

*   *   *

Department Of Reflections,
While Resting Outside An Apartment Building,
Between Bouts of Furniture Moving,
Watching People And Their Dogs Walk By

Aka, Dog Poo Haiku

I see them each day:
Patiently, or otherwise
waiting, bag in hand.

Before them it squats:
hindquarters raised; tail aloft;
butthole aquiver.

The owners stand by,
impassively accepting
their twice daily task.

I often wonder,
as the doggies deliver
a fresh poop package,

If their owners knew
what they’d be getting into
each day, without fail

This is what you do;
A primal identity:
Fetcher of feces.

They scoop, once again.
I smile, silently praising
our litterboxes.

 

*   *   *

 

Department Of Well, Duh
Sub Department Of It’s Nice To Give The “Florida Man” Headline A Break, And See
“Florida Woman Does BatShit Crazy Thing” For A Change

It seems that some Christian folks be losing their Jesus shit over a video clip of President #45’s “Spiritual Adviser…”

 

Yeah, I know, right?

 

Ahem…the President’s Spiritual Adviser Paula White, her arms shaking in Pentecostal fundy lunacy fervor, praying during her January 5 sermon to congregants at her City of Loony Tunes Destiny church in Apopka, Florida. In the clip, posted to Twitter by a group that monitors radical right wing organizations, White prays as Jesus instructed his followers to do,  [3] and urges her flock to “…Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

 

 

Well of course she doesn’t.  Instead, she blathers entreats her supernatural friends:

“In the name of Jesus, we command all satanic pregnancies
to miscarry right now.
We declare that anything that’s been conceived in satanic wombs
that it’ll miscarry, it will not be able to carry forth
any plan of destruction, any plan of harm.”

Why is this so offensive and astonishing for some people?  Yeah, yeah, there is the flaming hypocrisy of a Pentecostal preacher who opposes abortion calling for her deity to abort pregnancies of people she deems evil….  [4]

But, really: is this surprising?

My well-known and ongoing critique of religion is evident on these (cyber) pages.  I also count religious believers among my family and friends – people I love, admire and respect (the people themselves – not necessarily the origins and contents of their religious beliefs).   However, unlike Penty Preacher Paula And Her Fundy Fans,   [5]  these people’s beliefs, like the religious beliefs and practices of most contemporary American Christians, are informed and constrained by modernity.

Whether or not what I will call these MCs – modern (moderate?) Christians – realize this, and whether or not MCs consider their beliefs and practices to be an authentic interpretation and application of their scriptures, they simply do not believe nor practice as their religious ancestors did.  Many of the MCs’ fundamentalist fellow Christians criticize them for this ( “Cafeteria Christians,”   [6]  anyone?)

But this Happy Apostate is glad that MCs give themselves license to resolve their cognitive dissonance by declaring that certain of their scriptures are meant to be allegorical or somehow do not apply in the present day (even though the scriptures themselves say no such thing).

Look: I’m glad that most MCs do not heed Jesus’s advice to demonstrate signs of their belief by handling snakes and scorpions and drinking poison  [7]   because Jesus has given them power over such things and assures them that “nothing shall by any means hurt you.”  Even so, the practice persists: a professor of psychology at UTC, who has for 25+ years studied and documented serpent-handling among Christians documents over 100 deaths of sincere believers (this is in our times, not the 1700s) from snake bites and drinking poison.

I’m also tickled several shades of apostate pink that, despite their Jesus warning them,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them.
For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away,
not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law
until everything is accomplished”
 
(Matt: 5 17-18)

most MCs pick-and-choose among the 613 commandments of their god.

I’ve no problem with MCs who heed the commandment to respect their god’s name (Lev. 22:32). I’m *really* happy that MCs ignore the commandments to kill non-believers (John 15:6; Deut 13; 2 Chron 15) and people who work on the sabbath (Exodus 35) and stubborn and rebellious sons (Deut. 21) and those who curse or blaspheme (Lev. 24) or have consensual non-marital sex ( Deut . 22 & Lev. 20) or….

I’m pleased when you MCs find ways to live peaceful and useful lives that help and not harm others, even as I’m gob-smacked by your naivete – e.g., your being shocked when a fundy preacher calls for your god to end the pregnancies of perceived enemies.  Because even the robes of modernity cannot clothe the naked nuttiness of the primitive, pre-science, blood sacrifice-based foundation of Christian theology.

Without regurgitating a tract-worthy summation you had to memorize in seventh grade confirmation class (or one which a friend or coworker felt obliged to “share” with you); without falling back on the centuries of Church theology that tell you how you’re supposed to see things, try to explain even one aspect of classic Christian theology.  The “Fall leading to Original Sin leading to separation from god leading to reconciliation and redemption only through the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus (who, according to the Doctrine of the Trinity, was actually the afore-mentioned god).”

Try explaining that to a ten year old.  Or, to yourself:

“Okay, it’s like this: God’s own child, who was fathered by God Himself and who is/was that same God, according to the doctrine of the Trinity (so, yeah, God impregnated His own mother)…


uh, anyway, moving right along, God killed God’s own child  (committed suicide, actually, since the Trinity means that Jesus is God) as the ultimate blood/animal sacrifice, which was the only way to appease God’s anger for something God allowed the humans He created to do (and in fact knew that they would do, since God is all-knowing)…


and although this God *is* (of course and by definition) all-powerful, this God couldn’t accomplish this appeasement in any other way…and believing all of this is the only way to God.”

 

 

Of course #45’s “Spiritual Advisor” said what she said.  Even way back in the 1700s, enlightened thinkers warned political leaders and common folk alike of the dangers of the irrationality of religion:

“Those who can make you believe absurdities,
can make you commit atrocities.”

( Voltaire,  “Questions sur les miracles,” 1765 )

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [8]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Vegan Casseroles, by Julie Hasson
Recipe:  Pale Ale Stew

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [9]

*   *   *

May your habits and willpower peacefully coexist;
May your pet waste disposal routines inspire poetic masterpieces;
May you never be too old to help my your child move furniture;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which I do several times a year to visit daughter Belle, who lives and works there.

[2] Some of the favorite targets of the billboard’s founder.

[3] According to Matthew 5:44.

[4] Read: opposing the president. She also prays during her sermon for the “superior blood of Jesus” break “any strange winds that have been sent…against our President.”

[5] Sounds like a Lawrence Welk Show side act, eh?

[6] “Cafeteria Christians” is a derogatory term used by conservative Christians to critique the beliefs and practices of more liberal Christians who choose which doctrines and scriptures they will follow literally, and which they will not.

[7] Mark 16 and Luke 10

[8] 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.

[9]

* 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 (Video) Feed I’m Not Turning Off

1 Comment

Department Of And How Did You Spend *Your* Weekend?

Dateline: last Friday evening, riding MAX (the Portland area’s light rail system) with MH, on our way to attend the first night of the Portland Folk Festival. My phone beeped; ‘twas a message from friend JWW, who had been caring for our house while we were out of town for several days. I dictated my reply as the rail car jostled along the tracks.

JWW:
I still have your keys. May I bring them by?

Moiself:
We are not at home.
We are on Max, on the way to the Portland Fuck Festival
at the McMenamin’s Crystal Ballroom.

Fortunately, I proofed the message before I sent it (and rarity for moiself, I must confess). I first had to show MH the unedited translation. He said that, the acoustics on the light rail being what they are, my cellphone’s translation app was just making logical fill-in assumptions as per my usual vocabulary. 

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Just Wondering

If there were a Portland F*** Festival, what venue would host it? How would the publicity be handled, and who would be invited and who would print the tickets….

Never mind.

 

*   *   *

Department Of Thoughts That Seemed Profound In The Early Morning Hours

Life is like a toilet. Sometimes, every flush is smooth, and other times there will be minor snags – your tank’s lever chain gets hung up on something and you have to jiggle the handle….

Frontal lobe:
Shhhh, go back to sleep.

 

 

*   *   *

 

 

*   *   *

 

Department of Defusing The Bombs
( aka, “Why is the door open until we have to slam it shut?” )

 

♫  I wanna walk through the park in the dark
Men are scared that women will laugh at them
I wanna walk through the park in the dark
Women are scared that men will kill them
I hold my keys…between my fingers….  ♫

(chorus of Nameless Faceless,
by Courtney Barnes )

 

 

I am reading Know My Name: a Memoir.  Until the author wrote the book she had no public name; she was referred to as “Brock Turner’s/that Stanford swimmer’s victim,” or “Emily Doe,” after her victim’s impact statement was posted on Buzzfeed.

Chanel Miller is the young woman y’all and moiself had heard about but whose name we didn’t know, until she revealed it four years after she became Emily Doe. Few people knew her personally, but that didn’t stop thousands of people from commenting on social media and new outlets about what they saw as her flaws.  This is because the American pastime is not in fact baseball; rather, it is two related bloodsports:

* criticizing other people’s parenting skills, and

* blaming sexual assault victims for their own attacks

 

Trigger warning

 

This book has been a difficult read. Not quite as difficult as Ayann Hirsi Ali’s Infidel[1]   still, one chapter at a time is all I can bear.

Miller writes beautifully, with vivid imagery precision, grace, and even a survivor’s humor. What happened to her was, in a prosecutorial view, “the perfect case, in many ways – there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured…” Still, Miller experienced profound isolation and shame in the aftermath of her assault, and “…her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators (and) indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable.”  [2]

It saddens me that, to be realistic, I am not exaggerating to consider that so many women (99%, I’d bet) who’ll read the book will identify with at least one of the experiences Miller has had, both before and after her sexual assault: via just walking to class, running for exercise, meeting friends for coffee… in just Stepping. Outside. And. Being. In. The. World…. Both the realism and sadness continue, as I must also consider how many men will not be able to understand at all, or even try to empathize, with such experiences.

Which is why I want menfolk to read it.  Yes, all of y’all.  Send this book to the top of the GQ and Men’s Health reading lists.  [3]    Even you who consider yourselves to be feminist, supportive, “woke,” etc. – I  know many such men and appreciate you more than I can say – y’all need frequent reminders about the frightening, nasty, time-consuming, ambition-choking, overwhelmingly unjust and yet unspoken assumptions of the patriarchy, which fall upon women: that of men feeling entitled to have access to women.

“Wooo there honey!” (accompanied by various whistles, grunts, tongue-clucking and other sound effects)
“Where are you going?”
“Do you need a ride?”
“You look nice; Can I walk with you –
I’m just trying to start your day right…”

“Hey pretty girl you sure are pretty…”
“Come talk to me (after making a u-turn in his van to follow her),” I’m lonely.”
(not even scratching the proverbial surface of comments, from a man/men to a women walking by herself
[read: “alone,” as in, without a man to claim her as his] ).

Read it, and please read it again, paying particular attention to chapter 4, where Miller unloads on her (genuinely) supportive boyfriend, Lucas. After her assault by Turner and before the trial, Miller moved across the country to attend college. She recounted to Lucas her *daily* experiences with (always male) strangers, on foot and in cars, who felt entitled to honk, click their tongue, smack their lips, and make comments to her as she walked to and from class or the park or a grocery store or for exercise….

 

 

Miller used her cellphone to tape many of those encounters. She sent them to Lucas  (who, I would add, likely did not get that these encounters are daily reality for women across the nation, they were not particular to his girlfriend *after* her assault). He offered to pay for Miller to rent a car, so she would not have to walk to and from classes, to the store, etc. He also asked her to stop sending him the videos (“I can’t watch them, these guys make me too angry.”). Miller agreed, then regretted doing so ( my emphases):

“I felt like I’d done something wrong…It also seemed like he’s said, ‘If they’re bothering you, why are you still walking?’ It didn’t seem like a solution at all; they’d forced me to seal myself off in a car. I didn’t want to give up my sidewalks.

I called Lucas back. ‘That’s not fair,’ I said. ‘I just want to walk home from school, I’m not doing anything wrong. I should be able to. You can walk anywhere you want.
It’s not fair you get to unsubscribe from the videos. You get to turn off the feed, you get to see it selectively. I don’t have that option, to decide not to live it. I’m trying to show you what it’s like for me. It doesn’t matter what I do, doesn’t matter what I wear, how I act, it’s constant, the harassment is constant.’”

“Walking down the street was like being tossed bombs. I fiddled with the wires, frantically defusing each one. Each time I was not sure which wire would cause it to detonate, tinkering while sweat ran down my forehead. Women are raised to work with dexterity, to keep their nimble fingers ready, their minds alert. It is her job to know how to handle the stream of bombs, how to kindly decline giving her number, how to move a hand from the button of her jeans, to turn down a drink.
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?”

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Ultimate Vegan cookbook for your Instapot, by Kathy Hester

Recipe:  Indo-Chinese Corn Soup

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [5]

*   *   *

May you be cognizant of when other people cannot “turn off the feed;”
May future generations not need the
hold-your-car-keys-between-your-fingers advice;
May mundane household conveniences supply you with life metaphors;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Which, after all these years,  I have *still* not been able to get through, as I cannot go far past her description of her undergoing genital mutilation.

[2] Quoted excerpts from book jacket.

[3] No, I don’t know if those magazines even have such a list. Maybe you could suggest they start one?

[4] 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.

[5]

* 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 Lemon I’m Not Squeezing

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Department Of The Song I Want Sung At My Wake

Dateline: December 26, circa 7 am:  Thinking of the impending New Year while walking on a 27˚ morning, listening to author John Green’s latest Anthropocene Reviewed podcast, in which he discusses and “rates” the history of the song-we’re-still-singing-after-200+-years: Auld Lang Syne.

From the proverbial Out Of Nowhere ®, I realize I have tears in my eyes.  Feeling the chill as the moisture emerges from my tear ducts, moiself thinks silly thoughts, ala, Are they (the tears) going to freeze my eyeballs?

♫  We’re here because we’re here because we’re here because we’re here…  

Sing it to the tune of Auld Lang Syne.

 

 

Those alternate lyrics come from what Green describes as “that recursive lament of British soldiers” from World War I, who were embittered by “devastating losses of the war, and the growing use of poison gas,” and also by the fact that they “…had no idea why they were fighting and dying for tiny patches of ground so far from home,” and thus did not feel much like hoisting a pint during a temporary holiday truce and singing the treacly old songs.

Although the soldiers’ transformative lyrics can be seen as “…a profoundly nihilistic song written about the modernist hell of repetition,” a writer friend of Green’s who was to die of cancer would sometimes, during public appearances, ask her audience to sing those very lyrics with her, because she saw it as a statement of hope:

“It became a statement that we are here–meaning that we are together, and not alone. And it’s also a statement that we are, that we exist, and it’s a statement that we are here, that a series of astonishing unlikelihoods has made us possible and here possible.
We might never know why we are here, but we can still proclaim in hope that we are here. I don’t think such hope is foolish or idealistic or misguided. I believe that hope is, for lack of a better word, true.
We live in hope–that life will get better, and more importantly that it will go on, that love will survive even though we will not.”

 

 

I had heard the We’re Here Because We’re Here version of Auld Lang Syne before the podcast; I knew of its origins and had always appreciated (what *I* saw as) the lyrics’ amalgam of cynically detached optimism…but this time, Green’s simple yet eloquently narrative helped me to realize how fittingly and succinctly those lines illuminate moiself’s philosophy of life (if moiself can be said to have one, and I guess moiself just did).

The past year in particular, with its legacy of devastating losses for beloved friends,  [1]  has further increased my desire to be more mindful of the present – to celebrate and appreciate what we have in the simple and random fact of our existence in this phase of life. And what is remembered and what goes on, even after we are gone, is the love we have for others, and theirs for us. 

The various fictions the priests and philosophers have cobbled together over the centuries can hold no candle to the only “for sure” we know: the reality that, for whatever reason, we’re here because…we’re here, and that Life Itself ® is the meaning of life.   [2]

 

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Spam Of The Week

Sometimes it pays to actually read the subject matter in the spam box before I select delete all, because every now and then there is a gem like this:

“Your Prostate Is The Size Of A Lemon.”

 

Uh…make that, a lady lemon?

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, by Yotam Ottolenghi

Recipe:  Black Pepper Tofu

My rating:

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [4]

*   *   *

Department Of It’s Not Working

Dateline: early afternoon, December 31 (aka New Year’s Eve,); a small grocery store on the Oregon Coast. The clerk recognizes me and smiles.

Clerk: Did you find everything you needed?

Moiself (pointing to the one pound sack of dried beans, among the other items in my cart): Yes.  I’m *so* happy you have black-eyed peas!

Unbeknownst to the clerk, I had searched at the town’s other (bigger) grocery store, and they had no black-eyed peas of any kind – dried, canned, or frozen.

Clerk (looking at me quizzically): “You’re the second person today who was looking for black-eyed peas.  Something about the new year, right?”

Moiself“Yep. It’s a tradition in parts of the South: eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is supposed to bring prosperity and good luck in the coming year.”

Clerk: “You’re from the south?”

Moiself“Not me. My father was from Tennessee; it was his family tradition, so I do it to honor him. His family was poor, we’re talking dirt poor…I always thought it was kinda funny, that, after all those years, neither he nor any of his siblings ever looked at the pot of black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day and said, ‘Another year went  by; we’re still poor and unlucky. Do we have to eat this?’

Clerk: “Exactly!”  (her laughter chimes with mine as she finishes bagging my items): “A friend of mine – she thinks I’m Asian, but I’m not  [5] – tells me stories about all the luck rituals her Asian grandmother followed.  Her grandmother would sprinkle coconut milk around the outside of her home’s entry door, every Monday, so that she would have good luck.”

Moiself“And did her grandmother have good luck?”

Clerk (snorting with laughter): “No!  Of course not!  She had ants!”

 

 

*   *   *

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

This little one doesn’t get much attention – neither on the show when it aired, nor later, as per the fans’ ratings.  It’s as if the show’s producers cast the youngest two Partridge family members and then didn’t know what to do with them. At least this little tambourine-wielding waif  [7]   gets a spot on our tree (which is more than moiself can say for the two different boys who played the family’s youngest son/drummer – we just didn’t think it qualified for a spot, what with two different boys playing the same do-nothing character).

 

*   *   *

 

May you appreciate that you’re here because you’re here;
May the size of your girl or boy parts never be described in terms of citrus fruit;
May you have fun (and not ants) with food superstitions;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

And, Happy New Year, y’all!

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Losses I have previously written about in this space, losses which are in the “children are supposed to bury their parents, and not the other way around,” category.

[2] A nod to Roger Ebert’s memoir, Life Itself, and, of course, Monty Python.

[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) one 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.

[5] I’ve heard the clerk’s name before, but could not recall it…her surname is Filipino, I think.

[6] In our pear tree.

[7] That was her job, in the band – tambourine; that’s it. And she obviously couldn’t even shake it on beat, or off beat….

The Sun Salutations I’m Not Counting

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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 Comments I’m Not Making

Comments Off on The Comments I’m Not Making

Department Of Raising Them Right

Dateline: last Friday; circa 4 pm; a Manzanita (OR) grocery store. Three towheaded children watch their equally blond parents taste the Syrah that is offered at the store’s weekly wine tasting. The parents speak softly to each other, in lightly accented English which makes me think they’re originally from Germany, or possibly the Netherlands…maybe North Dakota. 

Spicy,” Mom says, sipping her wine sample. The middle child, a boy who looks maybe five years old, grins up at the store’s wine tasting host and says, “Expensive.”  [1]

 

*   *   *

Department Of There Goes The Neighborhood
Chapter 391

The latest salvo in my never-ending battle against tasteful lawn décor:  [2]

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [3]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

An Invitation to Indian Cooking, by Madhur Jaffrey

Recipe:  Moong Dal

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher   [4]

   *   *   *

Department Of Naming Your Kid After A Leafy Green Is Child Abuse, IMHO

Dateline: Tuesday evening, circa 7:30pm, our local Costco.  Leaving the store with MH, I do something moiself has never done before. 

 

 

No, not that.  (Holy farting Jesus H. Buddha on a raft – nuns have the dirtiest minds).

There are two female employees at the store’s exit door. What I do is that I look at the nametag/ID badge of the Costco employee whose job moiself had hitherto thought of as Receipt Swiper (the employee who looks at the goods in your cart and then uses their Sharpie Pen ® to make a loopy mark across your receipt).   [5]  Beneath the employee’s name is her work title, which, for some reason, startles me: Front End.

Moiself: “Oh, my!

Receipt Swiper: (looking at me quizzically) “Yes?”

Moiself: “Sorry – I’m just wondering, is there another person in the back of the store with the title, ‘Rear End’ ?”

Receipt Swiper laughs and makes her sharpie mark on our receipt.  The other employee standing by RS’s side also laughs, and I look at her ID badge, which has no title, just her name.  I somehow manage to refrain from commenting with the first thing that comes to mind; instead, I do a double take to make sure that, yep, according to her Official Costco Badge, ®  this young woman’s name is Kale.

(The comment moiself does not make):
“Right on, Sister!”  [6]   My name is Arugula, and this is my husband Radicchio, and our two children are Romaine and Endive.”

 

Why do all the dickheads come to my line?

 

*   *   *

Department Of Go Read This Man’s Essay Right Now

Moiself refers to American writer Walter Mosley’s compelling essay, Why I Quit The Writer’s Room, wherein he describes how he came to quit a new job writing for a network television series after receiving an (anonymous) complaint about his use of language.

I’d been (in the new writers room) for a few weeks when I got the call from Human Resources. A pleasant-sounding young man said, “Mr. Mosley, it has been reported that you used the N-word in the writers’ room.”

I replied, “I am the N-word in the writers’ room.”

He said, very nicely, that I could not use that word except in a script. I could write it but I could not say it. Me. A man whose people in America have been, among other things, slandered by many words. But I could no longer use that particular word to describe the environs of my experience.

Someone else in the writer’s room – HR would not reveal the identity to Mosley – had called HR about Mosley’s use of the N-word (which Mosley had used in sharing an encounter which had happened to him; he didn’t call anyone that word). Mosley’s concern about being censored – “…if I have an opinion, a history, a word that explains better than anything how I feel, then I also have the right to express that feeling or that word without the threat of losing my job.” –   led him to resign from that show.

 

 

Some of my most cherished beliefs and opinions I hold and espouse,  [7]  both as a Mere Mortal ® and A Writer ®, have developed over the years because I have been able to hear and read ideas and words that made someone feel uncomfortable – even threatened.

One of the most dangerous but effective kinds of censorship for a writer is when “they” get you to do it to yourself. I’v 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….).

Had I listened to that flaming and festuring turd of suppression advice, the protagonist (and other crucial characters) of my book The Mighty Quinn  could not have existed. Because who was I, a 50-something female, to write about the travails of a bullied fifth grade boy?   [8]

In the ideal A & A regime, moiself, as an able-bodied, politically left-of-center, plant-based-eating-and-cooking, yoga-practicing,  religion-free, English-speaking, healthy, heterosexual, middle-aged, native born American woman primarily of European descent residing in the Pacific Northwest, could only “authentically” write about my tribe.  No 30-something, ALS-stricken, bi-curious, computer programming and ESL-student, cricket-playing, Indonesian immigrant son of Baptist missionary parents living in Utah could – or should – escape the confines of my mind and onto the pages in that stifled world.

 

 

I do not believe that it should be the object of our political culture to silence those things said that make some people uncomfortable…. if I have an opinion, a history, a word that explains better than anything how I feel, then I also have the right to express that feeling or that word without the threat of losing my job. And furthermore I do not believe that it is the province of H.R. to make the decision to keep my accusers’ identities secret. If I’ve said or done something bad enough to cause people to fear me, they should call the police.

I’m a fortunate guy. Not everyone can quit their job. But beyond that, we cannot be expected to thrive in a culture where our every word is monitored. If my words physically threaten or bully someone, something must be done about it. But if you tell me that you feel uncomfortable at some word I utter, let me say this:

There was a time in America when so-called white people were uncomfortable to have a black person sitting next to them. There was a time when people felt uncomfortable when women demanded the right to vote. There was a time when sexual orientation had only one meaning and everything else was a crime.

(excerpt from Walter Mosley’s Why I Quit The Writers’ Room)

*   *   *

*   *   *

Department Of Telling Your Parents To Shut Up   [9]

The pleasures of walking alone on the beach early in the morning are legion, but the dangers are very real, as per a recent 6:30 am-ish stroll I took along the shoreline near Nehalem Bay State Park. A vigorous and obsessive dog dashed by me, chasing gulls it would never catch; 30 seconds later I made a friendly/offhand comment to the only other person I saw on the beach at that time, whom I assumed was the dog’s owner.  [10]   She turned out to be a wild-eyed, animated, proud ex-Marine determined to engage me in conversation.  In less than 90 seconds she’d managed to turn my dog comment into an opportunity for her to go to LaLa Land – specifically, to speechify about the fact that although she was born and raised in SoCal (as was moiself) you couldn’t pay her to live there anymore (ditto for moiself)…which somehow led to her impassioned defense of California’s Proposition 13….   [11]

He (Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. Holmes) did not have a curmudgeon’s feelings about his own taxes. A secretary who exclaimed ‘Don’t you hate to pay taxes!’ was rebuked with the hot response, ‘No, young feller. I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization.’
(Felix Frankfurter, “Mr. Justice Holmes and the Supreme Court”,
as cited in Quote Investigator)

I managed to extricate myself from the political harangue chat, but not the memory it invoked. Along time ago in a galaxy far, far away, moiself and MH were in Santa Ana (CA), visiting my parents at a time when they’d just happened to have recently received their property tax bill. My folks were proud beneficiaries of Prop 13   [12]  and they were practically gloating when they waved the bill in front of MH and I and asked us how much we were paying in property tax for our house in Hillsboro (OR).

Strike “ practically gloating” – it was up front, out of the closet gloating. They gleefully pointed out that moiself and MH (who found an excuse to leave the room when he realized where the conversation was headed) were paying over ten times what they were in property taxes.  Although my parents were usually Nice People ® , they mentioned this disparity repeatedly.

I told my folks, sure, like most people I don’t particularly enjoy paying taxes, but I do enjoy the numerable services I receive in exchange for doing so.  I make it a point to look at the entire property tax bill when it arrives…

At this point I was interrupted by my parents, who made the comparison, yet again, of how little they paid and how much MH and I paid  –  with the implication that we were somehow schmucks for paying more.

As I was saying…I look at the entire property tax bill, not just the number we have to remit. I pay attention to how the  tax total is broken out into categories – primary, secondary and community college education; parks and recreation; police and fire and rescue services; enhanced sheriff patrols; clean water services, urban road maintenance….  I think about all the services I get for my $$ and thus am grateful, both for those vital, life-and-community-enhancing services and for the opportunity to share their cost with my fellow citizens…

And so, Mom and Dad, CAN YOU PLEASE SHUT UP ABOUT THIS?

 

 

They were momentarily shocked into silence, which allowed me to explain the reasons for my umbrage.  During that past year, my parents had had several grandchildren in CA public schools…and my folks had also received at least one visit from the fire department and two from the paramedics (due to various “old people” incidents, which included my father accidentally starting a fire in their oven and my mother having two falls requiring emergency medical attention).  Given the publicly-funded services they had directly benefited from, they were not paying anywhere near their fair share of the cost of living in a civilized society. Instead of gloating, how about even a modicum of gratitude? If that’s too much to ask, how’s about just saying nothing at all about your taxes, particularly nothing about how we are paying 10x what you are?

My parents mounted a lame defense of their tax gloating, then quickly changed the subject. Earlier I had noted the ubiquitous stack of Billy Graham Association literature on their coffee table; I remember thinking at one point during the tax talk,

What would your Jesus say about your tax burden? As I recall, according to y’alls scriptures, not only did JC *not* have anything nice to say about the desire for nor the accumulation of wealth, he famously admonished his followers to “render unto Caesar” … Oh yes, but the modern prosperity gospel gives y’all entitlement to make sure you feel fine about rendering the least while others render more.

 

*   *   *

May you be judicious in discerning when to tell your parents to “shut up;”
May you carefully consider what causes you to attempt to censor other people;
May your yard ornamentation be celebrated in your neighborhood…or not;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] The Syrah was $46/bottle. How did the little smartass know?

[2] And who is anyone to argue against such an obvious homage to diversity?

[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) one 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 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.

[5] Which indicates…what?…their initials, methinks, signifying you are not walking out with an unpaid for HDTV or a 50 pound sack of Kirkland Signature Pirate Booty Puffs.

[6] Does anyone say Right on! anymore?

[7]  And continually revise, as new information comes to light.

[8]  and Quinn’s friends and antagonists, who are a mix of male and female, English, Russian- and Bantu-speaking, religious and religion-free, emotionally stable and physically abused….

[9] And, BTW, why do we tell someone to shut “up,” and not down?

[10] She was not;  she was walking the dog for a friend who was out of town.

[11] In 1978 California voters enacted a “tax payer’s revolt” measure, which amended their state constitution to both limit property taxes and make it extremely difficult to raise them in the future.

[12] Which limited property taxes to 1976 assessed values and allowed very strictly limited increases, the assessment of which, for older folks, could be carried to a new home when they relocated.

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