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The Back Hairs I’m Not Sauteing

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“California is about the good life.
So a bad life there seems so much worse than a bad life anywhere else.”
(Sarah Vowell)

Last weekend/earlier this week my family traveled to Southern California. It was a personal and business trip, visiting my mother and my older sister and her family, and for the biz matters, doing another college exploratory trip for Belle. Monday evening, minutes after our flight took off from the Ontario airport heading for PDX, MH and Belle saw this sight, from the right/east side of the airplane.

http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/local/los_angeles&id=9212007

It was a multivehicle crash, with even more emergency vehicles responding.  Strange, how an event so tragic looked so surreal and…well…picturesque [1]…from the window of an ascending jet plane.

*   *   *

As I have whined about described here previously, I am not fond of trips to So Cal (more specifically, Orange County) for a variety of reasons, and this trip included the cranky-inducing reason of getting up at 3:55 am to make our 6:15 boarding time. In what has become the proud tradition of American aviation, our two hour flight included no breakfast service [2].

After fetching our rental car we searched for the nearest non-fast food food venue near the Ontario airport. The first restaurant-looking place we came to was a Farmer Boys. Although the chain of restaurants is a “Southern California Icon,” [3] So Cal native moiself had never heard ’em. Guess their iconic status was achieved after I left the state.

But I digress.

Picking at my Farmer Boys breakfast, I realized how spoiled I’d become, living where I live in Oregon. What with the abundant local organic grocery stores, farmer’s markets and our CSA membership I have become used to the idea that eggs should taste like eggs and tomatoes like tomatoes.   Had I been blindfolded I would have had no idea what I was eating, as my over-medium [4] eggs and tomato slices were remarkably flavor-free.

I was in California, supposedly the produce capital of the US if not the world, and it was August, eighty-plus degrees, and a restaurant with the word “farmer” in its name can’t serve a decent tomato and a fresh egg?

*   *   *

We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming, Dissing So Cal, to ask readers to engage in a moment of bedlam on behalf of Men With Righteous Cojones.  Specifically, actor Mark Ruffalo, who sent a stirring letter to a reproductive rights rally in Mississippi, [5] In his letter Ruffalo defends women’s reproductive rights and shares his mother’s own experience obtaining an illegal abortion.

“What happened to my mother was a relic of an America that was not free nor equal nor very kind. My mother’s illegal abortion marked a time in America that we have worked long and hard to leave behind. It was a time when women were seen as second rate citizens who were not smart enough, nor responsible enough, nor capable enough to make decisions about their lives. It was a time that deserved to be left behind, and leave it behind we did, or so it seemed.”

 How I wish Mr. Ruffalo’s eloquently penned sentiments were also a relic. That is, how I wish I could show his letter to my children and their response would be along the lines of, Wow, what was going on back then?

It’s déjà vu all over again.  Nevertheless, it is with great appreciation that I bestow the Men With Righteous Cojones award to Mark Ruffalo.

    * *  *

When the Oakies left Oklahoma and moved to California it raised the I.Q. of both states.
(Will Rogers

No recounting of a trip to So Cal is complete without my complaining about the region’s water usage. The state has been in a drought since the last time Anthony Weiner sent a weiner-free text,  and this year has been the state’s  hottest year on record, and what did I see during my morning walks around my mother’s neighborhood?  H-two-O, all over the sidewalks and running over the curbs and into the gutters and drains, runoff from all of those consequence-denying, Colorado River-sucking hydro-vampires watering their lawns, their stupid, ugly, vanity, royalty-imitating[6] status-flaunting lawns.  Not only that, I passed several houses with NEWLY SEEDED FRONT LAWNS, as in, the kind that require copious watering to keep the sprouts alive.  Made me want to slap somebody upside the head with a water witch’s dowsing stick.   Which would, you know, hurt.

I have three words for the average So Cal homeowner.  Okay, I have six, but the first three I shall keep to myself. [7]  The second three: Drought. Resistant. Landscaping.

*   *   *

 Back to reasons for the trip: Belle and MH sat in on an Admissions Talk for Claremont McKenna College & the Claremont Colleges consortium, on Monday afternoon.  K and I passed the time at Claremont’s library and then joined Belle & MH for the campus tour, after which we had a couple of hours before needing to get to the airport. Belle, exhausted from the tour (and the summer cold that plagued her during the entire trip) nixed MH’s offer of a drive to/tour of his college, Caltech, which turned out to be a good move as we enjoyed a scenic drive up the San Bernardino’s highest peak, Mt. San Antonio (more commonly known as Mt. Baldy).

We had dinner at the Mt. Baldy Lodge Restaurant, where my curiosity if not my appetite was piqued by the entrée menu item described thusly:

“And for all you healthy people….
THE PLUMBER’S WIFE: steamed vegetable medley with chunks of chicken topped with melted cheddar and jack cheese.”

They got me. I had to order it. About the “healthy” descriptor – yeah right. Not with that portion size.

MH was concerned that I might find it necessary to imitate the sartorial accoutrements of the entrée’s namesake.  I assured him that my pants and health would remain plumber-influence free.

*   *   *

Our friend LAH graciously agreed to house/cat sit during our trip to Southern California. We had her over to dinner last Thursday, the 15th, to enjoy the pleasure of her company and to give her house/cat care instructions.  Somehow, the table conversation was steered to [8] the story about the dinner many years ago wherein I first served Brussels Sprouts to a leery LAH.  Although LAH later came to appreciate the oft-maligned brassica, she gave me a hard time about it that night.  She reminded me that, after that momentous dinner, as she was walking home on a frosty night, she put her hands into her jacket pocket and found an unexpected bonus: a plastic baggie of the still-warm Brussels sprouts.

Inspired by L’s generous reminder of one of my better pranks, I launched into infomercial announcer mode:

But wait – there’s more! It’s a cruciferous-cancer-fighting veggie AND a hand warmer!

 Which prompted son K to share his opinion of the vegetable in question:

“Brussels Sprouts are the devil’s back hairs.”

Of course, I had to ask. Why, in K’s opinion, are Brussels Sprouts the devil’s back hairs?

“Because they grow in stalks and are disgusting.”

 Try sautéing your devil’s back hairs in olive oil with diced shallots. And may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Or perhaps “cinematic”

[2] But the beverage service included complimentary beer and wine.  Yo ho ho for SkyWest Airlines.

[3]  Well, according to Farmer Boys.

[4] “Eggs served any style” the menu said, so I asked for poached.  “Any style” translation: any style but poached.

[5] New regulations threaten the state’s only abortion clinic, which has been targeted by an anti-abortion group, the ironically named Operation Save America.

[6] Historians tell us the 17th century European royals flaunted their wealth with lawns, which, besides  showing off castles and manor homes, let the neighbors know that the lawn owner was so wealthy he could afford to use his land as a playground rather than a source of food. Thus, the lawn became a status symbol.

[7] They are best shared with a sympathetic listener, both of us armed with an adult beverage.

[8] “Somehow the table conversation was steered to…” I should come up with a suitable acronym for this phrase, which, in my house, introduces many an anecdote containing (or excusing) a plethora of fart jokes or other stories of questionable taste.

The Cabbage I’m Not Climbing

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(I think) I wrote in last week’s post that I would mention the reasons behind the relative lack of content in said post. Many contributing factors led to last week’s I-have-no-time-to-do-this-blog realization, including

* a week-long visit from MH’s parents

* MH, Belle, K and I caring for a friend’s 6 year old child (who had her first overnight sleepover – Big Girl territory! – at our place) so that her parents could get up very early the next morning and go to the hospital for the mother’s surgery[1]

* going to the hospital with my friends, to have the honor of being their Surgery Buddy

*returning from the hospital in the afternoon, tired, but happy for my friend, whose surgery went smoothly and who was thus relieved of a large burden [2]

* receiving a phone call that same afternoon from another (long distance but equally dear) friend, the witty, kind, loving and trusting (oops) LLL, who had suddenly and unexpectedly been struck by a burden of her own, the kind of affliction that surgery cannot fix. Unless some Nobel-winning doctor has perfected the DoucheBag Husband-ectomy.

After that phone call, any attempt at blogging would have resulted in an f-laden tirade.[3]

LLL will be so, so, so, – and did I mention so? – much better without that lying, spineless weasel, self-absorbed sack of shit him. Still, there is the inhumanity of his methodology.

Note to all quasi sentient, allegedly male beings who are not total sphincter-brains:  grow a pair, or find some that you may clone and/or borrow, so that if you decide to leave your wife of 12+ years you are able to man up and face her and tell her, directly and honestly, what you are doing.  Do not end the relationship by booking her for a half day spa treatment (ostensibly to atone for your recent aloof behavior) and then moving all your belongings from your house while she is at the spa, leaving nothing but an “I don’t want to be married to you anymore” message on the answering machine, and having a sullen process server present her with divorce papers less than 24 hours later.

You know who you are [4], you urethra-catheter excuse for a human being.  Karma will, eventually, catch up with you, and when it does, it’s going to be one angry, turn-your-head-and-cough, vengeful bitch.

I’ve got to find a segue…

Last Wednesday there was some good news for humanity: the CDC reported that the smoking rate for US adults was at 18% – an historic low. I heard the news on the radio, while I was on my way to my favorite organic foods market. As someone who has lost many loved ones to smoking-caused pulmonary diseases, I felt a need to celebrate the announcement. My jubilation was short lived, thanks to the stinky gray haze I inadvertently walked through in the New Season’s parking lot, in the form of a cloud of smoke that was emanating from the side of…some guy’s Prius?

Yep. There he sat, beside his car, hipster porkpie hat on head,

sucking on his unfiltered American Spirits like he was minutes away from the Dead Man Walking promenade. I stopped and stared at him as he crushed his last cigarette next to his car’s front tire (leaving the smoldering butt on the blacktop) and loaded his groceries into his car.

Dude.  Really? You shop organic/local, drive a gas-conserving vehicle, and litter and pollute the air and your own lungs because, yeah, you care so much about the environment.

Makes me want to, I don’t know, climb to the top of a really big, pointy cabbage.

*   *   *

Questions I hate

“How is The Mighty Quinn/your book doing?”

How is the book doing?  Oy vey! It never writes, it never calls, it won’t return my texts, the ungrateful little….

I know, or rather I assume, that such an inquiry is meant to convey interest, but when I’ve asked the askers to elaborate, I discover that the implied query is really one for which I have no answer. Because it involve Sales Figures. As in, how many copies have been sold?

Well, how many copies have you bought?

Sorry. I don’t and can’t, for sanity’s sake, keep track of that.

Like most publishers, mine gives royalty statements biannually.  So, if you really want to know that statistic, ask me again in 6 months…and be prepared for a NOYB response, or an equally personal question in return: I’ll show you mine if you show me yours). [5]

*   *   *

Sometimes, I think, are we still at two steps forward and two steps back?  I remember 1973, and you never could have convinced me then that we would be having this misogynistic, wasteful, distrustful, keep your laws out of my uterus argument in 2013.

I had few words of comfort for my teenage daughter, the fiercely intelligent, kind-hearted, justice-oriented Belle, when she came into my room Tuesday night. Tears of anger and frustration welling in her beautiful eyes, she plopped down on my bed and said, “They broke their own rules! They cheated and they don’t care…” referring to the Texas state senators who tried every trick in their book to thwart one of their own, Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, from filibustering the jive-ass bill that would have enacted comprehensive abortion restrictions in the Lone  Woman With Integrity Star State.

We thought, at that time, that the asshats’ tactics had won, but the morning brought better news. Mere words cannot describe the awesomeness that was Wendy Davis this week. Fortunately, internet memes to the rescue.

*   *   *

The afore-alluded-to, Visit From The Kinfolk was mostly a good one, with a certain relative who has taken to proselytizing mostly refraining from doing so…except for bringing along two issues of The Lutheran magazine, just in case, you know, we have a burning desire to know about what’s going on with “New Thinkers in the ELCA” (one of the magazine issue’s title story).

As of today, the magazines sit where they were left, with no one in my family, to my knowledge, even taking a peek.

It’s funny for me to realize that, not too many years ago, I probably would have peeked — for curiosity, if nothing else. There is not even a smidgen of that, now.

“New Thinking” about a false hypothesis? [6]  Yawn. There can be nothing new or curious-worthy or relevant about that, other than a new angle of spin.

*   *   *

The best thing about Friday is telling my coworkers ‘What is the chip-shop owner’s favorite day? Fry-day!!!!’ One day they will laugh. One day…
(anonymous)

May one day be today, and let the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] Technically elective, but necessary.

[2] Actually, two

[3] Which I shared instead with MH and the kids.  I have an amazingly patient family.

[4] Actually, you probably don’t, as that would take self-awareness, humility and introspection.

[5] tax returns, bank statements, cup and/or jock size – I’ll look at whatever ya got.

[6] The best definition I’ve heard for religion(s) is one that encompasses them all: religion is a hypothesis, that the natural world is the way it is because of the supernatural world.