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The Comments I’m Not Making

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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]

 

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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)

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*   *   *

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.

The September Rituals I’m Not Assuming

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Department Of Some Movies Abbreviate Better Than Others

Ticket in hand, I looked for the theater in the multiplex which was showing The Peanut Butter Falcon at 2 pm.

 

*   *   *

Department Of If You Can’t Stand Misanthropy and/or Curmudgeon-ry
Then Slowly Back Away From Your Computer/ Other Device Right Now, Okay?

Someone had to be the first. Who started this “Fido has crossed over the Rainbow Bridge” thing? And by thing I mean supernatural crap wherein otherwise/mostly sentient, rational and potty-trained adults resort to sickly-sweet euphemisms when reporting on the death of their or another person’s beloved pet.

Now, before you get your incontinence garments in a knot, notice my use of the term, beloved pet.   Moiself, too, has had the heart-squeezing experience of losing dearly loved pets over the years, whether they died via natural (old age) or accidental means   [1] or euthanasia.  But, really:  Rainbow Bridge?  Can’t we just say what happened?  Your dog died; you miss your canine companion, and are sad.

Why is reality not sufficient? Who’s behind this? Something tells me the kind of people who fantasize about unicorns are involved.   [2] 

Disclaimers: The RB metaphor is used by good people with good intentions, blah blah blah. But hey, there are those of us who are trying to watch our lifestyle markers, eat properly and exercise and avoid high fructose corn syrup – which is added to everything these days, including toilet paper  [3]   – and  yet we get hit by these Type-2-Diabetes-inducing images from which there seems to be no hiding.

Moiself was curious/annoyed enough to do a little research on the term.  And by, “a little research” I mean the laziest easiest kind of research possible.  All hail Google search engines:

The Rainbow Bridge is the theme of several works of poetry written in the 1980s and 1990s that speak of an other-worldly place where pets go upon death, eventually to be reunited with their owners…..
The first mention of the “Rainbow Bridge” story on the internet is a post on the newsgroup rec.pets.dogs, dated 7 January 1993, quoting the poem from a 1992 (or earlier) issue of Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League Newsletter, which in turn is stated to have quoted it from the Akita Rescue Society of America.
Other posts from 1993 suggest it was already well established and being circulated on the Internet at that time, enough for the quotation of even a single line to be expected to be recognized by other newsgroup readers…
.
(Wikipedia, Rainbow Bridge entry)

I still want to blame the unicorn people.

 

Whatever floats your boat.

*   *   *

Department Of Other Multi-Colored Bridges That Are Also Not Crossed
By Your Dead Pets, Or By Any Other Creatures, For That Matter

Frequent readers of this blog know that I am not religious, and hold no credence in the existence of anyone’s heaven or hell or other stages of post-reality existence. But I am convinced there is an afterlife, as per these two phenomena:

֎  people live on, after their physical life has ended, in the ways they are remembered by those who love them, and by the impact their deeds (for better, worse, and everything in between) have had on the world;

֎  and also by the fact that my mother has been reincarnated in my cerebellum, or whatever portion of my brain is responsible for time perception.  I heard her distinctive voice via my own proclamation this week:

How did it get to be September already?!

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Inspiralized, by Ali Maffucci

Recipe:  * Vegan Celeriac Alfredo With Broccolini

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [5]

*   *   *

Department of September Rituals

Very occasionally, someone (who doesn’t know me well) asks moiself if I am “still working.”  During the rare times when I am asked my occupation in some formal/legal way (e.g., tax forms), I put down “retired,” for lack of a better option. I feel rather…odd…in doing so. How can I be retired, from anything? Because I don’t really know if I am, or not. When it comes to writing for publication, I am on a sabbatical, which may or may not be permanent…which segues into the September routine I’m (not quite) missing.

September brings the strangeness of being apart from the back to school mode, which I’ve previously referenced (8-24-18)  :

There is something different for me this year, about this time of the year – this particular end of August. I couldn’t put my finger on it, until I realized that Belle’s graduation from college in May (brother K graduated three years earlier) means that for the first time in twenty years, there is no Back to School ® component to my life. The end of summer/resumption of school, the preparation and routine and rhythm of such, it was not so all-encompassing – for both my personal and the family’s schedules – when the kids were in college.  Still, it wasthere.I’ve noticed how “out of it” I’ve sometimes felt, during the past four years, with regards to schedules of other families – including even the approaching of holidays – by not having at least one child with a public school schedule. There was no compelling reason for me to keep track of certain things, and so I didn’t…and then I found myself frequently (and sometimes sheepishly) surprised by the mundane:
Why is there less traffic these past couple of morning? Why are there so many kids wandering around in the early afternoon…oh..yeah….it’s probably a teacher conference/grading/”staff development day” off for the schools….”

But September has other significant ritual associations, for fiction writers. Fall is (or used to be) when writers would send for updated guidelines from literary journals, many of which are associated with colleges and universities and thus have publishing schedules which are linked to the academic calendar. September was back to school housekeeping for writers: what are the Oxnard University Review’s new writers guidelines – same as last year, or any changes? What are their deadlines and estimated response times? Do they want online or print submissions? Do they still have two three month reading periods year round for their three issues, or do they publish bi-annually now? Are there new guidelines regarding manuscript length; will they have any special/themed issues?

Back in the olden days, before even the most obscure of journals had a website, writers obtained this information re the time-honored send-a ms. guidelines-request-enclose-a-SASE method.  All those stamps and envelopes added up to be a financial irritant – not an insignificant part of a writer’s budget, when you consider that the vast majority of the “good” literary journals (i.e., those that actually pay and/or have a circulation above 1000 readers) accept less than 1% of manuscripts submitted.  The acceptance rate for the “other” literary journals – from the obscure to the prestigious, they offer no remuneration for publication other than copies of their journal and, of course, the dreaded promise of “exposure” – varies from 2-10%.

 

(cartoon via electriclit.com)

 

That financial irritant of guidelines requests/SASEs has been mostly alleviated, in that you can now get guidelines from a journal’s websites. But the major irritant for writers about those guidelines – whether you got them via a letter or a computer screen – remained: discovering that a journal had a no simultaneous submissions policy.

(Oh-so-brief- Definition: A simultaneous submission is the submission of a literary work – e.g. a short story,  novel or short fiction collection or another piece of writing –  to more than one literary magazine or publisher at the same time.)

*   *   *

Blast From The Past: the Ongoing   [6]  Department Of Complaining About….

In the past year, reading Facebook posts from writers reminded me of a few   [7]  of the major complaints I had re submitting work to literary publications, including response time and no simultaneous submission policies. Especially infuriating were/are the journals who have a no simultaneous submission policy (i.e. these journals have the audacity to ask for exclusive submissions – as in, they want you to guarantee you are not submitting your work to publications while they are considering it) and also have notoriously long response times, some up to 8-16 months .

Really.

What kind of B.S about submitting a M.S. is that?  How did that policy – editors demanding exclusive consideration of your work – even get started?  Imagine going to a job interview where your potential employer said you couldn’t apply to any other jobs until he made his decision (and you noticed you were one in a line of 50+ applicants outside his office door)?

Once I began to encounter that imbalanced policy, I vowed I would not submit work to magazines that declared they would not read ss (simultaneous submissions).

In theory, I refused to support such a monstrously skewed power dynamic.  If editors wanting to enforce a ss policy were willing to practice the exclusivity they expected from writers – i.e. if they promised to only consider one ms. at a time –  then I would promise to submit my work to them and only them.

In practice, my policy in response to journals proclaiming a no ss policy was twofold:

(1) Depending on how obnoxiously self-important the guidelines were written, I either did not submit work to those journals which had that policy…

(2) or I did…but didn’t tell them my work was a ss[8]   After all, they didn’t tell me how many manuscripts other than mine they were considering, did they?   [9]

*   *   *

One of the “reminder” FB posts I mentioned came from NS, editor of the late great literary journal, Oasis (1992 – 2009)  [10]  who is also a writer.   NS’s beef is with editors and journals who waste writers’ time via absurdly long response times to manuscript submissions.  NS – I’ll call him Neal,   [11]   because that’s what his mommy and daddy did – was one of the more efficient and competent editors I’ve had the privilege of working with: smart and  pleasant; down to earth and enthusiastic; no BS.  Despite (or more likely because) of having had the experience of being a literary magazine editor, Neal finds the standard long response times of journals to be maddening, even insulting:

Isn’t it odd how most literary magazines make you pay for the privilege of ignoring you?
 Also:  All you literary magazines who claim to appreciate SO MUCH the men and women who submit to you, prove it. Start by no longer claiming you need 4 months to do what can be done in 4 minutes.

I – and most fiction writers, I’d bet – am fully in NS’s corner on this.  What is it with some journals’ response times – what could possibly be their excuse?  If you don’t know in two months, you will in eight…twelve…even more?  You are not conducting trials on the efficacy and safety of pharmacological treatments for malignant melanoma; you are considering which stories to publish.  Do you like the story, or not?  Does the story “fit” (if you’re that type of journal) with the rest of the material/theme of the issue, or doesn’t it?

 

 

Not all journals were like that. I kept on file the guidelines of a few of the best of what I considered to be Good Examples ®, two of which moiself will share with y’all:

Simultaneous Submissions: We accept simultaneous submissions, since we feel that it’s unreasonable to expect writers to give a magazine an exclusive look at a work unless the magazine can respond within two to three weeks.
We want writers to have every possible opportunity for success, so we’re willing to risk losing a story we want when someone at another magazine may have done their reading before we have, and in that case we’ll be sorry to lose the piece but happy for the writer.

We encourage simultaneous submissions.  It is unreasonable for any editor to ask for exclusive consideration of your work for an indefinite period of time.  There are many good writers submitting quality work.  Unless you have just won a Pulitzer or have an established rapport with a publication or editor, send your best work out to numerous publications you have vetted.  If your work is accepted elsewhere before you hear from us, just drop us an email and we will be very happy for you!

It was shocking to me that the reasonable-ness of these magazine’s respective policies…well…shocked me, when I first read them.  It was a Eureka moment – here are editors who understand and respect writers (and likely are themselves writers, as well as editors and/or publishers).

 

Are we done complaining yet?

*   *   *


May you never voluntarily cross anything resembling a Rainbow Bridge;
May the story of your life provide for a most provocative movie marquee abbreviation;
May you remember that the more you complain, the longer you live;   [12]
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] Run over by a car….shudder and ick.

[2] Almost always (or so it seems to moiself) the Rainbow Bridge metaphor is used in relation to dogs, but I’m sure other animals involved.

[3] Just a hunch. I haven’t actually read a toilet paper ingredients label.

[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) one 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 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.

[6] As in, neverending.

[7] There were many….sooooooo many….

[8] As in, it was already under consideration by another journal, or I’d also planned on submitting it elsewhere.

[9] And yes, it is possible I ended up on the notorious/rumored “blacklist” for doing so.

[10] Full disclosure: my story We’ll Talk Later  (which was included in my short fiction collection, This Here And Now, ) was published in Oasis in 1993.

[11] I usually don’t name names in this blog, unless the namee is somewhat of a public person.

[12] Or actually it just seems longer to everyone around you.

The Presidential Cabinet I’m Not Staffing

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Department Of Somebody Got A Screenwriting Credit For This?

Dateline: last Saturday, Manzanita OR. Pondering the recent news re the death of actor Peter Fonda, I wondered how it was that moiself had made it through life as a movie fan (including taking a film class in college) without having seen that supposedly ground-breaking classic, Easy Rider.

Friend JWW was visiting MH and moiself. JWW and MH each claimed to have seen Easy Rider and, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, agreed to watch it with me that evening.

You know That Thing ®  when you get embarrassed for people you don’t even know and/or who aren’t even in the room with you?  That’s the thing I felt, watching Easy Rider. As (a cartoon version of) George Takei might say,

 

 

 

Now I know what it feels like to have a bad trip, despite never having dropped acid.

Anyone who has watched older, “classic” movies has probably noticed that many such classics, however groundbreaking and/or interesting they may have been when they were released, just don’t hold up over time. This is the case, IMHO, for Easy Rider.   I’ll just leave it at this: if ever there was a movie which turned out to be an inadvertent Public Service Announcement   [1]  for the idea that Drugs Makes You Stupid ® ….

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Apologies I Don’t Quite Believe…

A.K.A. Why I Love Walking On The Beach Early In The Morning

Dateline: last Saturday circa 7 AM, walking north along the beach at Manzanita.  The beach is fairly devoid of other bipeds; then I espy a figure dressed in shimmering, vibrant green attire walking south, about 50 yards in front of me. Woman In Shimmering Green heads in my direction when her two Corgis leave her side and do their funny-odd, scuttling dwarf-dog, crab-run towards me. She calls to them in vain as the scamper in the sand in a circle around me and beg for pets, which I am happy to provide. 

Woman In Shimmering Green approaches me, shading her eyes against the morning sun. She is barefoot, slim, with thick, shoulder length platinum gray hair styled in a manner reminiscent of Lauren Bacall.

 

“You know how to whistle for a corgi, don’t you? You just put your lips together and blow.”

 

Speaking of Bacall, I note that Woman In Shimmering Green has that classic movie star style bone structure which ages well even when wrinkled – she appears to be in her late 50s or early 60s, and she is a knockout. The shimmering green reveals itself to be a rather stunning silk pajama ensemble with an elaborate, dragon pattern stitched in gold thread on the sleeves and legs.

She laughs, pointing at her bare feet and then at her pajamas, and says apologetically, “I didn’t even bother to get dressed.”

“This is the beach,” I hear moiself reply, thinking of my own beach walking “ensemble” (workout shirt and pants and knee high waterproof boots). “You look fine to me.”

We exchange a few sentences of small talk before she moves on; she says something along the lines of how she just got out of bed and the dogs demanded to be walked so she came out here figuring no one else would see her “looking like this.”

Which, I want to call BS on.  I mean, c’mon – she looks better at 59 than I ever did in my prime (assuming I had a prime, maybe for 15 minutes when I was 19 or 20). She is one of those “natural beauties,” and I think she knows it. She of the expensive dogs and designer pajamas wants me to give her the benefit of the doubt and believed she just rolled out of bed looking that way?  Yeah, right, fuck that exhibitionist bitch

Never mind. I decided to stick with my initial, more generous assessment:  she’s just another early riser enjoying the beach.

And so it goes. That is, she goes her way and I go mine, with moiself laughing aloud as I imagine the scenario wherein I do the same as she allegedly did: roll out of bed and just come to the beach without altering anything about the way I look and/or dress in the morning.  I picture someone from the local beach cleanup committee following behind me, wielding an enormous butterfly net which they are attempting to place over my head.  Please stop it. You’re scaring away the tourists

 

I don’t have a picture of the woman in the green dragon pajamas, so Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and his legendary dragon stage outfit (circa 1977) will have to do.

 

 

*   *   *

Department Of Looking On The Bright Side

So many Democratic Presidential candidates…so many podiums on the debate stage.  According to what I’m reading and hearing, many people find it easy to get confused or even discouraged about that fact – they figure what with so many candidates there is a dilution of interest, money, and time for serious examination of issues that require more than gotcha sound bites.

But I’m starting to think, it’s all good. The winnowing process has already begun via the debate committee qualifications; also;  some of the lesser known/funded candidates have consulted their Magic 8 ball and dropped out…even as others remain in the race despite not qualifying for the third round of debates (someone please copy Bill De Blasio on the if-you’re-polling-at-less-than-0.05%-this-is-pointless memo).

 

 

As for the debate qualifiees (which moiself assumes will include the eventual nominee), we started with twenty-plus and are now at ten. They are, in alphabetical order:

* Former Vice President Joe Biden

* New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker

* South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg

* Former San Antonio Mayer/Obama Cabinet Member Julián Castro

* California Sen. Kamala Harris

* Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar

* Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke

* Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders

* Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren

* Entrepreneur Andrew Yang

There are positives about every nominee – a lot of energy and optimism and experience. I think that exposure to this many serious candidates is win-win for the country, because the Also-Rans are quite a talented bunch; you could fill the President’s cabinet with top-notch talent. And I am, in fact, hoping that when the proverbial dust settles and the President/Veep slate is chosen, that that is what will happen.

I’m already imaging a  Presidential Cabinet Roster, along the lines of the Also Rans‘ experiences and interests. For example, for Office of Management & Budget Director I’d nominate Steve Bullock, the governor of Montana, who has long expressed an interest in campaign finance reform. Michael Bennet, the Colorado Senator, has a zeal for education – and there we have the position of Secretary of the Department of Education filled.   

So, let’s say the ticket is President: Elizabeth Warren and Vice President: Corey Booker . My fantasy cabinet for the moment might include the following as secretaries and/or administrators of their respective departments:

White House Chief of Staff, Pete Buttigieg

Department of State, Joe Biden

Department of the Treasury, Bernie Sanders

Department of Defense; Kirsten Gillibrand

Department of Justice, Attorney General, Kamala Harris

Department of the Interior, John Hickenlooper

Department of Commerce, Andrew Yang

Department of Labor Beto O’Rourke

Department of Health and Human Services, John Delaney

Department of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro

Department of Energy, or the Environmental Protection Agency, Jay Inslee

Department of Veterans Affairs, Secretary Tulsi Gabbard

Department of Homeland Security, Amy Klobuchar

It’s fun – try it yourself.  What might your fantasy Presidential cabinet look like? Also, there may be some kind of board game potential in this.

 

 

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [2]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

How To Cook Everything, by Mark Bittman

Recipes:

* Sautéed Eggplant With Basil and Chilis

* Barley Salad with Cucumber And Yogurt-Dill Dressing

My ratings, for both recipes:

 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher [3]

  *   *   *

Department Of The Never Ending Fight Against Maturity

 

Dateline: last Wednesday eve, at McMenamin’s Rock Creek Tavern. We are having a belated birthday dinner for MH while enjoying the tunes of one of our favorite performers, singer-songwriter Billy D.

Apropos of…something…I got son K to agree that, should the “natural” order of life proceed and I predecease him,  [4]  he will lead my memorial  attendees in singing and/or reciting rousing renditions of two of my favorite childhood songs: “Scab Sandwich” and “Beans Beans the Musical Fruit….”  To be followed by a pass-the-microphone session wherein attendees share their favorite, Robyn-would-have-liked-this fart jokes.

Y’all been warned.

 

*   *   *

May you pick a memorable sing-along for your memorial gathering;  [5]

May you waste spend precious neurological energy constructing your own
Fantasy Presidential Cabinet  ® ;

May you never experience Easy Rider flashbacks;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] put out by The Man, as one of the movie’s characters might say.

[2] 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.

[3]

* 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.

[4] The “natural” order – parents dying before their children, is something I am no longer taking for granted, given the events of this year: two longtime friends each suffered the deaths of one of their young adult children (one in January, the other just this month).

[5] Remember, if you don’t, someone may do it for you.

The 4th Of July Parade I’m Not Recovering From

2 Comments

Best Compliment Ever
Aka, My Work Here Is Done

“You’re my spirit animal!”
(Absolutely adorable/soon to be handsome 13 year old boy, to moiself,
after Manzanita’s July 4 July parade)  [1]

I think it was the Dali Lama – or was it Dolly Parton?  [2]  – who advised, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  Thus, the impetus for my participation in Manzanita’s July 4 Parade.

Manzanita’s annual parade is small town enough that individuals can just show up at the parade assembly grounds and participate. I’m a smartass cynic when it comes to such events, and this year I decided to force myself to join in. Okay, but…how?

When notorious parade loather moiself thought of parades in general and July 4th parades in particular, I decided I wanted to see something else among the usual procession of star-spangled, flag-waving

* kids on tricycles

*adults on bicycles

* politicians in convertibles

* golden retrievers on leashes

* T-Rex-costumed teens on roller stakes

* Civil War re-enactors on foot

*muscle car drivers on methamphetamines….

Not that there’s anything wrong with all the red white and blue on July 4….but it’s been done, you know? I knew there were people who would do the flag-waving thing far better than moiself; I also knew it was likely that no one would be willing to take on the role of Goodwill Ambassador to the Planet ® in the form of Orange Hat Women With Spatulas.

My outfit and participation had the effect I’d intended: smiles, laughter and shout-outs all around. I mean, really – who doesn’t appreciate a spatula?  It’s a humble kitchen utensil which unites everyone on the political spectrum (as I explained to some parade watchers who wanted to know, why spatulas?). 

Some folks looked bewildered at first, until they figured out what I was (the signboard I wore was easier for some parade watchers to read from behind; i.e., just after I’d passed them). You never heard so many calls of “Spatulas!  Yay!” in your life.  [3]   There was nothing to “get” – no greater, existential meaning. Just truth in advertising, so to speak.

One of my favorite reactions came from two elderly women – sisters, I like to think – who were sitting side by side in beach chairs on the sidewalk in front of the Manzanita Post Office.  As I passed by, one of them read my sign aloud, and her sister responded (both women’s piercing vocal volume indicated they were probably hard of hearing):

Sister #1:
” ‘ Orange Hat Woman With…uh…Spatulas?’  What does it mean?”

Sister #2 (slapping sister #1, then pointing toward moiself, who was wearing an orange hat with spatulas dangling from the hat rim, and waving two spatulas in each hand):
“What do you THINK it means ?!”

 

 

You made my day!
Spatulas, yee haw – I Love Spatulas, too!
You should win best costume!
You’re my favorite parade entry of all time!
Spatulas rock!
God Bless America, and spatulas!
(a sampling of the comments Orange Hat Woman With Spatula ® received, 7-4-19)

It is truly difficult to convey how enjoyable it was to be on the receiving (and producing) end of so much good will.

And so, I did it:  I’ve marched in a parade, and I don’t ever have to do it again.  Except that my neighbor and a few other folks afterwards urged me to consider an encore performance next year, with “more” of what they assumed was my theme…

You can add to your banner – tape a sign at the bottom which says, ‘AND WHISKS’ and then sew some whisks onto your hat, or hold some whisks along with the spatulas….OH OH OH – and then the year after that, you can add slotted spoons! And then….

*   *   *

Department Of A Good Story That Gets Even Better

Dateline: Wednesday a.m. Over breakfast, MH reads aloud a headline from the NY Times sports section (print edition):

“Olympic Swimmer Rescues Drowning Man”

“In record time,” moiself adds.

MH chuckles and continues to read. It appears that the swimmer came to the aid of a man on his honeymoon…

who had fallen off an inflatable swan.”

Say no more, I insisted. It just can’t get any better.

 

No man – don’t risk it!

 

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

David’s Vegan Home Cooking, by David A. Gabbe

Recipes:

* Miso Tahini Salad Dressing
* Millet Cornbread Muffins
*”Creamy” Cauliflower Soup

My ratings:

* Miso Tahini Salad Dressing

* Millet Cornbread Muffins

*”Creamy” Cauliflower Soup

 

Recipe Rating Refresher  [5]

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

           Department Of Testing The Goodwill Of Strangers

Dateline Monday, July 8, circa 5:30 pm. Moiself is parked in a grocery store parking lot, sitting in my car’s driver’s seat, texting to MH and son K re our dinner options (ants have invaded our kitchen counters; no one’s in a cooking mood). I am just about to exit the vehicle when I am startled by an Out Of Nowhere ® rap on my car’s door.

I open the door, exit the car, and behold a Very Large And Friendly-If-Sheepish Looking Man holding a cell phone and gesturing toward my car’s rear bumper.

I was just talking a picture of one of your bumper stickers, VLAFISLM says, and thought I should let you know.

I reply that I don’t mind, and that he’s not the first person to do that – in fact, from what I’ve seen, it’s a frequent occurrence, in parking lots.

Oh, then can I take a picture of the others, too?

I laugh and tell him he can take as many pictures as he wants, as long as he doesn’t slash my tires.   [6]

Oh Yeah, ha ha thanks!  I just wanted you to know – I mean, I didn’t want you to, like, look in your mirror and think that there was some crazy guy taking pictures of your car.

But that’s actually what’s happening, isn’t it? I say, as I head toward the store’s entrance.

 

He told me his favorite was the one in the upper right corner (hard to make out in this picture), which reads:
National Sarcasm Society
like we need your support

*   *   *

May you be patient with the Crazy Guy In The Parking Lot ® ;
May you consider that whatever romantic or aphrodisiac properties may be obtained by riding an inflatable swan just might not be worth the inherent risk;
May you one day experience the indescribably joy of being a non sequitur parade participant;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

[1] He then asked if he could take his picture with me, and I gave him a spatula.

[2]  It was a dolly/dali of some sort.

[3] Or, most likely, it was the first (and possibly last) time you’d hear such a call.

[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) one 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 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.

[6] Several of the stickers poke fun at religion and certain political views…you never know who has a sense of humor about what, although I’ve yet to receive an in-person negative reaction.

The Next Year I’m Not Waiting For

Comments Off on The Next Year I’m Not Waiting For

Belated Happy 4th of July/Independence Day wishes to y’all.

As I  threatened promised last year, I walked in Manzanita’s July 4th parade yesterday.  Here’s what I wrote about the parade in last year‘s log post:

Department Of Saved By The Spirit Of America

I am a notorious parade-loather. I find parades, at both the conceptual and practical levels, to be…absurd, at best. Thus, unless a parade’s entrants and/or organizers acknowledge the inanity of it all  [1]  and try to be deliberately silly – anyone seen Pasadena’s Doo Dah Parade?   [2]  – you can count me out, as either a spectator or participant.

However….

The Oregon beach town of my dreams and my heart, Manzanita, has a yearly July 4th parade, which, I have been told, is just so low tech and small-town cutesy that even a parade-hater such as moiself would find it adorable (or at least tolerable).  So, I had an idea for my participation in this year’s parade. I had a banner made, and began gathering the beginnings of my parade “uniform,” much to the consternation of MH, who wondered aloud if he would attend the parade (or need to leave town afterward), should I be a participant, wearing and doing…whatever it was I would wear and do.

Moiself got herself to the Manzanita City hall website where, I was told, parade entry info would be posted the first week in June. And it was, and…

Damn you, Foul Crushers of Aspirations!

Manzanita’s parade apparently has a theme, which varies from year to year. This year’s theme is, The Spirit of America. My planned getup could be – very, very, verrrrrrrrry loosely – attributed to a certain, uh, independence of spirit, but it definitely ain’t yer red white and blue/flag-waving, lovin’ that good ole country of mine. What I have in mind holds no disparagement toward my country nor toward the concept of patriotism, but it would be a non sequitur, given the theme, as per this description from the parade’s participant registration form (which has a picture of a very serious-looking bald eagle, ready to pluck the eyes out of anyone who would mock its usage as a symbol of American Greatness ® ) :

Decorations required: All entries including autos must be decorated in a patriotic theme and/or in the theme of the parade. The theme is “The Spirit of America”.

I tried to clarify the parade registration form information. The city clerk told me she thought that the requirement to dress as per the theme might be only for entrants “who want to be judged.”

“Trust me,” I replied, “I’m judged all the time, whether or not I’m an official entrant of anything.”

Later that day, when I returned home (to Hillsboro), I reassured MH that he’d been saved by the (Liberty) bell, so to speak. My parade accoutrements will remain in my closet, in a bag protected by a sentiment dear to the heart of every perennial loser underdog sports team’s fans:

Flash forward, 2019: I confirmed with City Hall that parade entrants need not dress as per the parade’s theme unless they are “official” entrants – non-officials may simply show up at the parade’s starting area and be assigned a marching spot. Which I did.

As my blog deadline is actually the night before publication (when friends and I were doing our 4th of July celebrating), I shall have a brief recount plus Photographic Evidence ® of my public shame parade participation in next week’s blog.

*   *   *

Department Of Secret Identities Revealed

As per last week’s review of the first of the Democratic candidates’ debates:

…there was just one candidate (whom I shall not name) who disappointed me: it was the guy who, although an experienced and seasoned politician, when the camera was first turned on him looked as if he were trying to remain calm despite knowing that a weasel was crawling up his pant leg.

It was Rep. Tim Ryan.  Doubt me? Watch the debate again, and look at Ryan’s face, the first time a question is posed to him – this was long before he got schooled on Taliban v. Al-Qaeda by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

She let the damn weasels in; I just know it.

*   *   *

Department Of Pathetic Justifications
Aka, That’s My Story And I’m Sticking To It

“Welcome to Walmart!”

No one greeted me thusly. Nevertheless, I kept my sunglasses on when I entered in the store, as if I were afraid of being recognized:

“That’s her – the woman who swore she’d never set foot inside a Walmart!”

Indeed, it was my first time, ever, in a Walmart. I’ve boycotted them because of their history of sexism and discriminatory employment practices, and decimating small town retail businesses … But no other local business had what I needed.  I knew I could order it online, but if Walmart had it, at least that would keep a bit of the money locally (I was on the Oregon coast) vs. putting more dollars in Amazon’s pocket.… Yeah, that’s the ticket.

*   *   *

Department Of Apparently This Also Happens In Other Artistic Professions

“Would you please donate _______ (your mentoring time; your expertise; a photo shoot, pottery lessons, original oil painting; five copies of your book)  to our worthy cause?  We can’t pay you, but you’ll get plenty of exposure….”
(Requests heard and loathed by every artist/artisan, ever)

I saw a posting on Facebook from a photographer who, fed up with people asking for free photo shoots, decided to turn the tables, so to speak, by composing his own ad seeking free services from professionals. Like others working in a “creative” field, I am all-too familiar with the situation he lampooned, to the point that, many years ago, I had composed (but never sent to anyone, or posted) my own “employment ad.” Inspired by the FB post, I searched my files and dug up my fantasy employment ad. With all attribution/apologies to the photographer:

Writer Seeks Professionals Willing To Do Their Jobs For Free

I am a writer. All kinds of people ask me for my products and services, for free. They request that I:

* provide them or their group free copies of my books

* travel to their school or community group to speak about writing, and/or /give writing workshops, sans remuneration

* edit their or their children’s resumes, job applications, term papers….

I therefore assume that all kinds of people must also do their jobs and offer their services without expecting payment.

I need all kinds of people to provide all kinds of services for me.  Doctors; dentists, yard maintenance; grocery shopping and deliver; massage; auto repair; computer chip design; tax preparation; restaurant chefs and waitstaff; plumbers; college professors to educate my children – I will gladly and gratefully accept these and other services as long as I don’t have to pay for them.

What’s in it for you, you may ask?  Why, you’ll gain even more experience in your chosen field, and although you can’t take gratitude to the bank, you can bank on my gratitude: I’ll tell everyone I know how appreciative I am and what wonderful work you do. That’s, like, free publicity! This will likely bring you innumerable offers for unpaid work but also plenty of goodwill, and who can put a price on exposure?

So, if you have a job or service you provide, and will do it for free, let me know and I’ll gladly hire you!

 

(Don’t read The Oatmeal? You should.)

*   *   *

 

Department Of Honey, You *So* Did Not Have To Do That To Make Me Feel Better

MH texted me with the picture he took for his passport renewal, with the message:

“Here’s the guy that will accompany you on international trips.”

Moiself‘s response:

“We are so going to get pulled out of line for additional screening.”

This is highly unusual. Moiself is the one who takes the atrocious pictures, from family snapshots to passport, Costco, and other ID cards.  You know how at the DMV, when you go to the line for your driver’s license picture they hurry you through and you get one shot only because there are six people in line behind you? The last time I had my license renewed the DMV employee who took my picture looked at her camera screen, frowned, and called her supervisor over. The supervisor looked at the screen, then at me, back at the screen again, then said to me, “Oh, you really don’t want this one.” And they redid my photo. TWICE.

But, really, this passport photo of MH’s is…uh….oh, dear.  [3]

MH’s tresses are shoulder length, and he has a beard – both are dark and were apparently having a Bad Hair Day ® when the picture was taken.  He’s a friendly-looking guy, but they don’t want you to smile in a passport photo, and you can tell he wants to…but the overall effect…  Well, he looks like he’s about to scream, “Death to America!”

Also, I think the choice to wear a bistro napkin on his head was a poor one.

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [4]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

Classic Indian Vegetarian and Grain Cooking by Julie Sahni.

Recipes: Muttakos Sambaar (Hearty Blue Mountain Cabbage and Tomato Stew), and
Pachadi Vallerika  (Zucchini and Yogurt Salad)

My rating: for the Muttakos Sambaar:

for the Pachadi Vallerika

 

 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [5]     

*   *   *

May your most hideous ID photo not cause you to get additional screening;
May you think twice, and twice again, before asking someone to “donate” their services;
May you never run for political office if you can’t control your weasel face;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

 

*   *   *

[1] A bunch of people sitting on street curbs, watching another bunch of people walk past them, or watching cars drive by slowly and horses poop while they are walking and then other people following behind scooping the poop.

[2] How could I not love a parade which introduced the world to the following Drill Teams:

* Synchronized Precision Marching Briefcase Drill Team
* Lawn Mower Drill Team
* The BBQ & Hibachi Marching Grill Team
* The Shopping Cart Drill Team
* The Men of Leisure Synchronized Nap Team
* Claude Rains & the 20-Man Memorial Invisible Man Marching Drill Team
* The Committee for the Right to Bear Arms, which marches while carrying mannequin arms.

[3] On the bright side, seeing it made me realize it is way past time for me to get my own shaggy hair trimmed.

[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) one recipe from one book.

[5]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it

* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it

* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin ( a character on 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.

Blog extra: The Pelicans I’m Not Praising

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An Ode to the Hesitant One in the Flock

 

Shall I go now?

Is it my turn?

Do we even take turns?

What if I misjudge the depth, plunging my beak into sand, and not crab?

From up here the surf is green and white, calming and safe.

There goes Polly – and now Philip, and Penelope.

Can I do it?

Can I do it?

The hell I can – I’m a pelican!

 

*   *   *

“Pelican poetry – phooey!”

“Don’t worry; I have it on good authority she’s not getting paid for writing this drivel.”

“Praise de lawd!”

“Not me; I’m an atheist.”

“Really? Myself, I’m an animist.”

“Whatever. Don’t stand so close to me, okay? You have morning fishbreath.”

The Summers I’m Not Forgetting

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Department Of My Daughter Is Better Than Your Daughter

Because your daughter didn’t hand paint these cooler-than-cool Vans high-tops for me!

Knowing of my fondness for cephalopods, and orange and purple, Belle designed and painted these, which I received in the mail this week as a belated Mother’s Day gift. Am I lucky – and is she talented – or what?

*   *   *

As I am writing this (Thursday afternoon), the second of the first round of the Democratic Party Presidential Candidate’s debates is just a couple of hours away.  Here’s my summation of the first debate, which was held Wednesday:

Of this Gang of Ten, there was just one candidate (whom I shall not name) who disappointed me: it was the guy who, although an experienced and seasoned politician, when the camera was first turned on him looked confused and a bit alarmed, as if he were trying to remain calm despite knowing that a weasel was crawling up his pant leg.

Other than that, I thought everyone had their moment(s) to shine, and that lesser known candidates, e.g. Hawaii military veteran Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, did particularly well.

So many people! So many ideas! So many white men ( I mean of course, so many men of pale color ) ! So much energy, and even smarts, and dreams and reality checks…instead of being frustrated by the sheer number of candidates I feel energized. There is a lot of passion and talent out there, whether or not it gets translated to The White House, I hope those people apply themselves in other areas of public service.

Moiself posted a version of these comments on Facebook, and although friends ventured a couple of guesses, no one has yet identified weasel up-the-pants dude.

My lips are sealed…which is a good thing  because my teeth are sharp. Now, point me back toward the podium.

*   *   *

I smelled them before I saw them, at a Manzanita Farmer’s Market fruit stand. I was in line for the black cherries; prior to that memory-inducing olfactory alert, I didn’t even know apricots were available. 

The Santa Ana (Southern California) home I lived in for the first 18 years of my life  [1]   was simple and small, but had a backyard which was a child’s summer paradise: a large, oval expanse of grass, bordered on three out of four sides by trees, trees, and more trees.

Is that reminiscence I smell?  Well, she is the driver…close your eyes and it’ll be over soon.

Behind the garage was a sticky-sappy pine tree, from whose hefty, needly canopy we could gain access to the top of the garage (which was a parentally forbidden, and therefore highly desirable, destination). Climbing even higher, we could spot the Anaheim Stadium halo which lit up whenever Jim Fregosi or another Angel ballplayer hit a home run, or see the fireworks show put on by Disneyland every summer night at 9:30. In the way back of the yard, by the fence bordering the fields belonging to “SAC” (Santa Ana College) were four apricot trees. Two more apricot trees grew on the east side of our backyard, and on the west side were a plum tree (also climbable and much less sticky than the pine tree), a lemon tree, and a pomegranate bush.

I grew up taking tree-ripened apricots for granted. My sisters and I would set up a croquet course on the backyard grass, and when I got to the rear stake of the course I’d reach up into the limbs of the nearest tree, find a ripe apricot, take a bite, and continue my turn.

Why fresh apricots have not become the go-to fruit for summer desserts has always been a mystery to me. Their flavor rivals (surpasses, IMHO) that of peaches and nectarines and other pit/stone fruits; apricots are both sweet and tart (“nectarous” as per one apricot-o-phile). Also, there is no easier fruit to work with:  [2]  you don’t have to peel them, and unlike peaches, the pit easily slips out when the apricot is ripe. Get your paring knife and just bisect the apricot along what I call its butt-crack line (or “clivage du derrière” as Julia Child would say),  [3] flip out the pit, and you’re good to go.

My birthday is in December; I never much cared for birthday cake but it seemed to be de rigueur –  you have a birthday and gawddammit, they’re gonna serve you cake.  One year, in one of her greatest feats of parenting, my mother surprised me by baking a “fresh” apricot pie for my birthday, made with apricots frozen minutes after she’d picked them the previous summer. She’d remembered something I’d forgotten – how, during that summer when she and I had made an apricot pie together, I’d gone on and on about how much I loved apricot pie and it was my favorite dessert and who made up the dumb rule that you have to have cake on your birthday….   Later, while canning apricots, she saved a batch of fresh apricots – she halved and pitted them and hid the plain, raw apricots in a couple of bags in the freezer (“I didn’t even know if that would work,” she said), and five months later I got my surprise birthday pie. From then on, it was apricot pie for me, every birthday…also a “homemade” Devil’s Food cake with vanilla icing  [4] – for the family members who just had to have cake.

I pity the fo – 

Yes…thanks, Mr. T, but as I was going to say, I pity the folks who have never tasted tree-ripened apricots, and who have only had access to the dried kind.

Apricots – which, BTW, my family pronounced using the long a version (APE-ri-cots) and which to this day sounds funny or pretentious to me pronounced with a short a (dictionaries lists both pronunciations as correct) –  are not a common fruit in terms of commercial availability.  Is it because they are difficult to grow – perhaps apricot trees are persnickety when it comes to climate and soil requirements?  To this day, even on the rare occasions moiself is able to find apricots in the grocery store or farmer’s market, I cannot bring myself to purchase them unless I can smell their apricot righteousness from three feet away.  Those undersized, rock-hard apricots found in most stores – which I once actually talked a stranger out of purchasing – are a pitiful substitute for the real thing.   [5]

Longtime observer of human behavior that moiself is. I am aware that my recollections of the delights of tree-ripened apricots is likely elevated by association with parallel pleasant memories. I can live with that.

The pot of gold at the end of my rainbow.

*   *   *

Department Of Writing Bad Jokes For A Good Stand-Up Comic

Not that that he asked me to do so, but…Ramy Youssef, are you listening?

Background: Ramy Youssef is an Arab-American (Egyptian descent), a Muslim, and a stand-up comic who plays a not-so-disguised version of himself on the hulu show, Ramy.

Dateline: Wednesday, circa 7:30 am, out for my morning walk; listening to a Fresh Air podcast. Host Terry Gross is interviewing Ramy Youssef; they are discussing a variety of topics specific to Youseff, such as being a stand-up comic who is an Arab-Muslim-American and, how, when he was younger, he realized his name is similar to Ramzi Yousef, one of the terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993

So, here’s my story for your next act, Ramy: you can riff on how, with your Arab-Muslim background, using the standard jargon for comics in, say, mentioning a previous performance that was not well received by the audience, could be a little dicey for you.  Specifically, you probably shouldn’t open your act by bounding onstage and saying,

“Hi, I’m Ramy Youssef, and last night I bombed in New York.”

You’re welcome.

It’s yours, Ramy, if you like. I’m expecting no residuals; attribution would be nice.

*   *   *

Department Of Natural Selection

Dateline: Monday morning circa 7:40 AM. I’m walking past a field and hear a rustling in the grass.  Looking down and to my left I behold a very excited/animated and scrawniest squirrel I’ve ever laid eyes upon. It is clearly alarmed by my presence, but instead of merely turning a few degrees in any direction and scampering away from me it runs in the same direction– it attempts to “flee” by paralleling my path. It turns its head toward me every few seconds, a look of terror on its scrawny face when it sees that I am still “following” it…then there is a small but audible thunk when, during one of those head turns, it runs headlong into a fence post.

The squirrel bounces off the post, careening toward a tree just behind the fence post. As it scampers up the tree I see it has the skinniest, most pathetic excuse for a tail I have ever seen on a squirrel.

Kinda like this, only worse.

Is it genetic, I wonder, or a disease, or maybe the result of being low on the squirrel totem pole (i.e. the tail has been “picked on” by more dominant squirrels)?

Feeling only slightly guilty for my laughter, I continue on my walk. Nope, I think to moiself, that one’s not gonna win the breeding lottery.

*   *   *

Department Of Is This The Sweetest Thing Or The Saddest Thing…Or, Just A Thing?

Dateline: Oregon coast, an early Friday evening.  I am walking up the main street of Manzanita. Walking toward me is a family:  a mother and six-ish year old daughter in front, followed by a father and middle grades-ish age son.  I catch a snippet of conversation as they pass me on the sidewalk: the mother leans sideways toward/speaks softly to her daughter, who has a crestfallen look on her face:

“I don’t know, sweetie, sometimes brothers get to be a certain age
and they just don’t want to hold your hand.”

 

This is why all brothers should be baby sloths.

*   *   *

Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
 Classic Indian Cooking, by Julie Sahni

Recipe:  Gobhi Moong (Mung Bean and Cauliflower Stew)

My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher  [7]

*   *   *

May you cherish whatever is your equivalent of an apricot memory;
May you always want to hold your brother’s or sister’s hand;
May you remember that calmly dealing with weasels is
an essential presidential qualification;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

 

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

[1] Save for two years in San Diego (my kindergarten and first grade years), due to my father’s job transfer, which my parents knew was temporary; thus, we rented out and later returned to our Santa Ana house.

[2] Okay, maybe blueberries are easier.

[3] Okay again, that may be a lie.

[4] In our family, and in 99.999% of families in the ’60s and ’70s and ’80s, I’d wager, “homemade” translated into using a Betty Crocker, Duncan Hines or other cake mix. No one made cakes from scratch. Alternatives were “boughten” cakes,  which were found in in the grocery store bakery.

[5] Yep, I’m the nut who judges your produce selection.  The guy said he’d never had an apricot before and I didn’t want him to have a bad first experience, so I steered him toward a u-pick farm instead.

[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 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.

 

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