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The Sun Salutations I’m Not Counting

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Department of Just Wondering, Winter Edition

Dateline: Boxing Day (December 26), 2 pm, downtown Portland’s Keller Auditorium with MH and Belle, to see the last 2019 performance of “The Nutcracker.”

Watching the impressively limber members of The Oregon Ballet Theater as they do their pirouettes, I can’t help but wonder:  when ballets are performed at locales south of the equator, do the dancers spin counterclockwise?

 

 

Added cultural bonus: Belle pointed out that one of the OBT’s principal male dancers looked like Seth Meyers.

Wished-for cultural highlight: to see The Nutcracker, or any ballet, performed by Les Ballets Trockaderos de Monte Carlo.

 

 

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

Yoga Class:
“Why 108 Sun Salutations?”

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

Moiself:
“That’s because it is.”

Last Sunday (12/22), to celebrate the winter solstice, my yoga studio held an “Om-a-thon,” which is what Someone In Charge Of Marketing ®  called an hour and a half class consisting of 108 Sun Salutations.  A sun salutation, for you non-yogis, is a yoga exercise incorporating a sequence of nine or more linked asanas, or yoga poses/postures. The asanas are linked by the breath – inhaling and exhaling with each movement, and Sun Salutations involve moving from a standing position into Downward and Upward Dog poses and then back to the standing position, with many variations.

Why 108? It’s apparently an auspicious number (in the parts of the world where yoga originated), for many reasons.  Non-“woo” reasons include the fact that the distance between the Sun and Earth is roughly 108 times the Sun’s diameter and ditto for the ratio of the moon’s diameter and the distance between the moon and earth – scientific realities not likely surmised when the originators of yoga decided 108 was a magic special number.

There are plenty of “woo” reasons for venerating the number 108, and the teacher leading the class mentioned a few of them: there are 108 Upanishads (a series of Hindu treatises ca. 800–200 BCE); there are 108 beads in a mala (a meditation tool, an idea early Christian/Catholic missionaries stole “adapted”  from the Hinduism & Buddhism, and morphed into the Catholic rosary beads    [1]  ); there are nine planets and twelve astrological signs…9 x 12 = 108  [2]….

Oh, and most significantly of all, a Uno deck contains 108 cards. That’s gotta be a sign.

 

 

People who’d participated in previous year’s OM-a-thons told me it was a lot of fun, so I decided to try it this year.  Indeed, it was fun. And I only spent about five seconds of the class resting in Child’s pose.

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Department Of Serves Me Right

Dateline: December 24, 10:30 am; in a Kaiser Hospital pharmacy waiting to pick up a prescription for a friend, for whom I am acting as “surgery buddy” for her outpatient hand surgery.  The pharmacy is surprisingly (to moiself) hopping for a Sunday morning, and I have plenty of time for people watching while waiting for the Rx to be filled.

Moiself is noticing how casually most people, especially the men, are dressed. Read: the average Joe is a Sloppy McSlob Face.  [3]   This is not an original observation;  it most likely came to my mind due to a recent rant well-thought out opinion piece I read, written by a European writer who bemoaned the tendencies of Americans to dress “down ” (e.g. as if they are sprawled in front of their TV at home) in public spaces.  As I look around at my fellow Specimens of Humanity ®, I must admit that complaining dude has a point.

Then, a very dapper older gentleman takes a seat about 12 feet in front of me.

 

 

He is wearing a grey tweed suit, vest and tie, nice (but not overly fussy) black herringbone shoes, and a gray short brimmed fedora. Dapper Gent’s posture is dignified as he leans over to pick up a magazine from the end table next to his chair. This same magazine had been recently perused by one of the previously mentioned Specimens of Humanity who’d schlumped passed by the table  – a Specimen whose plumber-inspired butt crack was on generous display atop his pathetic, pajama-bottoms-substituting-for-pants when he leaned over to glance at said magazine.

I admire Dapper Gent’s contribution to Public Space beautification, and allow myself a moment of smugness as I recall Complaining European Writer’s observations.  I look up at the line of pharmacy clerks kiosks and wonder when my number will be called.  I return my gaze to Dapper Gent, just in time to see him ever-so-slowly guide his index finger into his left nostril and dig deep, deep, and deeper, as if he is mining for precious ores.

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Department Of Petty Pleasures
Number 387 In The Series.

Daetline: Christmas Day, Powell’s Bookstore, ~ 2 pm, for our traditional Shopping-at-Powell’s-after-Christmas-Day-lunch-at-Jake’s outing. I love it, I absolutely love it, when I espy a long of patrons waiting outside the men’s, but not the women’s, restroom.

 

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Family friend LAH is an artist, and it shows in every aspect of her life. Come the Yule season she is known for exquisitely wrapping the presents she bestows, which are so beautifully adorned with artfully tied and arranged ribbons and bows and other accessories that Belle and K, even as young children, would stare at their respective gifts from LAH and declare, “It’s too pretty to open.”

No such declaration has ever been thought, much less uttered aloud, about any gift wrapped by moiself. The presents I give, which are chosen in all love, care, enthusiasm, and sincerity, end up looking as if they’d been wrapped by an orangutan with ADHD.  It’s not that I don’t try to do better…let’s just say that my family has long joked about how you don’t need a gift tag to know if the present is from Robyn.

This Christmas morning, when MH, son K, daughter Belle, and moiself were reaching the end of our opening-presents session, I picked one of the two remaining gifts from my pile – one whose tag read “to Robyn from Santa.”   [4]   I turned the gift upside down, flashing a smug “See, I’m not the only person who does this” smile to my (now young adult) offspring, to show them how the wrapping paper didn’t fully cover the back of the gift package.  Belle’s indignant/kneejerk reaction:

 “Mom, did you wrap a present for yourself!?

 

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Department Of Stop Asking Me That

“Oh, yeah, so you all liked that Elf on a Shelf thing?”
(Misinformed persons who feel compelled to ask about all the elves
in our house during this time of year)

Much of moiself’s holiday décor, in all its tacky seasonal glory, is in homage to my mother, who died three years ago on Christmas eve. Marion Parnell loved Christmas and especially her Christmas decorations, which included the “tradition” (which her family started and mine continues) of placing certain kind of elves – the kind with small plastic, doll-like faces and bendable, felt costume clothes bodies,   [5]  all around the house.

 

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

 

The idea was that from any vantage point, whether you are sitting in the living room or getting a drink from the kitchen sink, an elf is casting a friendly eye upon you.  Some of our elves indeed are on a shelf, but most perch atop curtains, peek out from bookcases, lurk behind candlesticks, nestle behind dishes and clocks and art and….

But, this “Elf on a Shelf” thing? Never heard of it, until recently. It is, apparently, a picture book about…honestly, I don’t know or care what it’s about. I looked it up:  the book has a 2005 publication date.  Neither I nor MH knew about it, nor had our two children (DOBs 1993 and 1996) grown up with EOAS as part of their kiddie lit repertoire.  My extended family on my mother’s side has been putting up elves since the early 1920s, so none of this EOAS shit fruitcake feces references applies to elves on MY shelves, okay?

Y’all must excuse moiself  if (read: when) I respond with a most yuletide inappropriate profanity should you mention that book to me. Actually, moiself  finds it funny how much it irritates moiself  when someone, after seeing or hearing about our houses elves, makes a reference to the book: such as the antique store owner last week who, when I asked if her store had any elves and began to describe what I was looking for, said, “Oh, you mean, like that book?”   My customary cheerful/holiday visage darkened, and I answered her with utmost solemnity.

No.
Nothing.
Like. That. Book.

Which might not be entirely accurate, seeing as how I’ve never read nor even seen the book…which may indeed be about something akin to *our* family tradition.  I just want…oh, I don’t know…attribution, I suppose.  WE THOUGHT OF IT FIRST, OKAY?  So, stick that Elf-on-a-shelf in your Santa Hat and – I mean of course, Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

 

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Department of Epicurean Excursion   [6]

Featuring this week’s cookbook, author and recipe:

The Silver Palate Cookbook , by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

Recipe:  Lentil and Walnut Salad
My rating: 

☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼ ☼

Recipe Rating Refresher   [7]  

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Department Of The Partridge Of The Week

It’s that time of the year again. As has become a tradition much maligned anticipated in our neighborhood, moiself will be hosting a different Partridge, every week, in my front yard.   [8] Can you guess this week’s guest Partridge?

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Department Of Simple Pleasures

Having both Belle and  K home for Christmas reminds me of an old adage.  Passed down by amateur philosophers over the ages, the saying endures because it is true:

SIMPLE PLEASURES 

( e.g., knitting;
sitting over the bathtub drain when the water runs out;
listening to the lamentation of your neighbor’s children when they discover that
someone (ahem) has stolen their front yard’s inflatable Santa decoration and replaced it
with a snowman made from 10,000 laminated oral care pamphlets
from the Pediatrics Dental Association )

ARE THE BEST.

And so it is with all sincerity that I wish y’all the simple pleasures of Happy New Year.

*   *   *

May your present-wrapping skills bring you wide acclaim;
May we appreciate our fellow Specimens of Humanity in all our sartorial glory;
May your simple pleasures by simply maaaahvelous;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi! 

Jusqu’à l’année prochaine!

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

[2] Except of course/again the originators of such superstitions did not know there were nine planets…and now we all know (though some of us refuse to accept the fact) that there are not nine planets, but eight.

[3] Although, with my idea that I’m dressed up when my tie dye shirt doesn’t have any mustard stains on it, who am I to talk? 

[4] Yes, that would be MH.

[5] Many of the oldest ones have a tiny Made in Japan sticker on them and date from the 1950s, or so I was told by one antique shop dealer.

[6] A recurring feature of this blog, since week 2 of April 2019, wherein moiself decided that moiself would go through my cookbooks alphabetically and, one day a week, cook (at least) one recipe from one book.

[7]

* Two Thumbs up:  Liked it
* Two Hamster Thumbs Up :  Loved it
* Thumbs Down – Not even Kevin, a character from The Office who would eat anything, would like this. 
* Twiddling Thumbs: I was, in due course, bored by this recipe.
* Thumbscrew: It was torture to make this recipe.
* All Thumbs: Good recipe, but I somehow mucked it up.
* Thumby McThumb Face: This recipe was fun to make.
* Thumbing my nose: Yeah, I made this recipe, but I did not respect it.

[8] In our pear tree.

The Sign I’m Not Posting

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Department Of Not Sure What To Call This

Ever wonder how inflatable men came to be regular fixtures at used car lots? Curious about the origin of the fortune cookie? Want to know why Sigmund Freud opted for a couch over an armchair?
99% Invisible is about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about — the unnoticed architecture and design that shape our world.

MH, alert husband that he is, sent me this email on Tuesday:

I think you might enjoy this.  Cameos by Grace Slick and Linda Ronstadt.
https://99percentinvisible.org/episode/700-foot-mountain-whipped-cream/

The link was to the podcast 99 percent invisible, episode #286 “A Seven Hundred Foot Mountain of Whipped Cream.” This particular episode, hosted by radio advertising producer, writer and composer Clive Desmond,  features “forgotten nuggets of radio history” via “Madison Avenue’s radiophonic collision with the counterculture,” wherein (future) icons of the subversive and/or acid rock music genres performed in radio advertisements.

I listened to a lot of radio back then, and can’t remember any of the ads featured in the episode. It’s beyond bizarre (both the ads, and the guy who’s obsessed with interested in them). The era of acid rock also had Frank Zappa recording the voiceover  [1] (with a young Linda Ronstadt contributing background vocals) for a men’s shaving commercial, and the Jefferson Airplane, whose White Rabbit was arguably the definitive psychedelic rock hit, doing a jingle for White Levi’s?

I would recommend being sober, very sober, if you listen to either of those ads. 

As for those who did listen, at the time (late 1960’s), I’m trying to picture the kind of people who would have been the target audience for the Jefferson Airplane commercial, which was obviously aimed at those who…how you say…appreciated mind-altering substances. Anyone attracted to that ad would likely have been so stoned that the purpose of the ad – to sell a certain brand/style of jeans – would have been defeated.  “Oh wow, like…man…that is so far out…as soon as I remember where I left my my arms I’m gonna go buy me some….what is it I want to buy? Jell-o? Lava lamps? Alka-Seltzer….”

It’s almost unimaginable to me that Zappa and other musicians, whose disdain for “straight” and/or consumer culture was legendary, agreed to do the commercials.  Almo$$$$t. I’ll assume Zappa was laughing all the way to the bank; no doubt the members of Jefferson Airplane were tripping all the way to the same.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Believe it or not, the following sign was *not* posted on my lawn  [2]  during last year’s election cycle.

 

 

 

 

I have this thing about political yard signs – and by political signs I mean those posters and such which publicize one’s support for, e.g., a particular governor  [3] or school board candidate.  In my never-you-mind-how-many years of being old enough to vote, I’ve put up yard signs maybe, twice. I’ve never missed voting in an election. Sometimes I am quite passionate about the issues and/or my choices for public office; sometimes, I’m just picking what I hope are the cream of a rather rancid crop. Either way, I figure if people want to know my opinion they can ask me. If they don’t care to hear from me personally, do they really want to hear from my yard?  [4]

You’ve seen this sign.

 

 

 

Or, one of its variants.

 

 

 

 

 

I agree with many if not most of the signs’ sentiments or opinions. However, the signs allude to, without fully (or even partially) addressing, a myriad of complicated and important issues….

 

 

 

Well, of course they do – what else can they do? They’re essentially sound bites for your yard (or porch or window or….);  I get it. Still, I hate to see such complicated, vital issues reduced to a collection of three to seven word declarations on a yard poster.  And I wonder: other than serving as a kind of code between like-minded persons, do they foster, or stifle, anything resembling meaningful dialogue?

To moiself, the signs are a left-wing version of, “I’ll pray for you/about this issue,” and other wimpy statements —  I care! I really care! signifiers. Easy to say, jackshit to be done. Ineffectual, unless backed up by action.

Of course, there are plenty of right-wing variants, such as the sign that graces one of my neighbor’s windows — a sign you’d see if you were approaching their front door with a plate of holiday cookies: big bold letters proclaiming the equivalent of

IN THIS HOME WE
Say Merry Christmas
Say God Bless America
Support Our Troops
Have A Personal, Intimate, Lubricant-Requiring Relationship With Firearms
AND IF YOU DON”T LIKE IT YOU CAN GO THE FUCK AWAY
(And you know what you can do with those cookies?)

 

 

 

 

Not exactly the warmest welcome to the neighborhood.

 

 

 

Once again, I digress.

It’s just too damn easy to show support for something without actually doing anything about it.  Now, I’m sure there are people who post those signs who are out there, supporting their causes. I’d like to think that people who put up signs proclaiming, Black Lives Matter, and Women’s Rights Are Human Rights, are also and actively involved in constructive ways to end systemic and personal racism and misogyny, including examining the ways they inadvertently walk with privilege in this world. But I’ve no way of knowing if their commitment begins and ends at their lawn, with the decision to purchase (or accept from another person: “Hey, Concerned Looking Citizen ®,  would you like one of these for your house?” “Oh, uh, maybe, what does it say – yeah, sure, I support all that, you can tape it to my window….”) such a sign.

Also, the signs make declarations on more than one issue (and, usually, quite a few.) Which, again, reduces complex issues into one blanket statement, implying that: if you support (issue A) then you also must support (issues B through G).  Few of the dedicated, reflective, trying-to-to-the-right-thing kind of people I know would accurately and comfortable fit all of their opinions under one such blanket.  [5] Moiself included, if I may be so bold as to include moiself in the afore-mentioned category (and I just did).

For example: I think it’s insulting, or just plain degrading and mean-spirited, to refer to any human being as illegal. I also know that there are people who commit illegal acts re how they enter or/or stay in a country of which they are not citizens. And I don’t think that the way to become a good citizen of any nation is to, in your initial act of entry, knowingly and deliberately break that nation’s laws.

Perhaps this – those signs – is yet another subject about which I think too much. Most likely, no one (except fellow sign posters) even pays attention to them.

 

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Department Of Looking Underneath The Tinsel  [6]

From what will be the opening to my portion of our family’s year-end letter:

Last year’s letter ended with my love ’em while you got ’em story of my mother’s 2016 Christmas eve death.
As the landmark, one-year-since her passing anniversary approaches, I’m realizing that the winter holidays will, from now on, have a bittersweet connection for me

I am far from alone in having the above-mentioned connection. They – “the holidays” – already have that kind of association, for many people

Deaths and disasters happen year-round; it’s a little different, a little more difficult, when the anniversary for, say, the day your beloved win brother died of leukemia was on the 4th of July and what will always feel like a private day of remembrance for you is being raucously celebrated by seemingly everyone else.

I’ve known many a person who’s confided to me about how certain sincere or innocuous holiday greetings or inquiries (“Happy Valentine’s Day!” “So, what does your family do for the Labor Day Weekend?)  have felt like a punch to the gut, when the well-wishers either don’t know or have forgotten that last Valentine’s Day is when you found out your husband was leaving you for your son’s kindergarten teacher, or Labor Day weekend was when your father was killed in an automobile accident during your family’s annual trip to the lake…or that the time between Christmas and New Year’s is, for you, something to be endured rather than celebrated because it was the time when, as a lonely, confused child, you were shuttled back and forth between angry, bitterly divorced parents who used you, for years, as a tool to hurt their ex-spouse….

Time helps and heals – most of us know this, from either experience or observation. Without having been asked to do so, I’ll venture that we all need a reminder now and then to be mindful of people’s hearts, of their perceptions and experiences that may differ from ours, during any time of year.

 

 

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Department Of Before I Go Any Further….

 

Happy Winter Solstice, y’all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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May you give yourself permission to eschew words like gubernatorial;
May your convictions go beyond your signage;
May you never be so stoned as to purchase white Levis;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

*   *   *

 

 

[1] With all the barely hidden sarcasm he can muster…wondering why/how the ad executives let him get away with it?

[2] Or window or car bumper or….

[3] I refuse to use the word, gubernatorial.  Not only is it ridiculous-sounding, but I also find it somewhat…nasty. (Yes, this from a person who had had up to 37 bumper stickers on her car at one time.)

[4] This from a person (that would be, moiself) who had up to 37 bumper stickers on her car at one time.

[5] Okay; maybe it’s time for another metaphor.

[6] Do “young people” even know what tinsel is? Nobody uses tinsel anymore – I think it may even be banned.