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.” 
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Department Of There Goes The Neighborhood
The latest salvo in my never-ending battle against tasteful lawn décor: 
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Department of Epicurean Excursion 
Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:
–An Invitation to Indian Cooking, by Madhur Jaffrey
Recipe: Moong Dal
☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼
Recipe Rating Refresher 
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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).  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!”  My name is Arugula, and this is my husband Radicchio, and our two children are Romaine and Endive.”
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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,  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? 
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 
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.  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…. 
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  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!
* * *
 The Syrah was $46/bottle. How did the little smartass know?
 And who is anyone to argue against such an obvious homage to diversity?
 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.
* 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.
 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.
 Does anyone say Right on! anymore?
 And continually revise, as new information comes to light.
 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….
 And, BTW, why do we tell someone to shut “up,” and not down?
 She was not; she was walking the dog for a friend who was out of town.
 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.
 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.