Leaning In

I’ve been awake, off and on, since 1:30. About four hours ago. I almost got up for the day at 1:30, but fortunately I looked carefully at the clock before I made the commitment to get up and get dressed. This is not a rarity. I’ve arisen in the middle of the night on numerous occasions, slipped out of the bedroom, made coffee, and prepared myself for the day, only to discover my mistake. Sometimes, I stay up for the duration. Other times, I slink back to bed, cursing my inattention under my breath. Last night, I did not get so far along. I tried to go back to sleep. I succeeded in spurts, but I woke myself from light slumber with squeeks and snorts and other such noises. Not snoring; simply breathing through corroded pipes, I guess.

But I’m up now and ready to tackle the world, more or less. First things first. I will write until I feel like stopping, sipping my coffee along the way until I finish my one and only cup. Then, after a quick shower and shave, I’ll get dressed for the day. A little more formal than usual because I have an appointment in Little Rock at UAMS with my surgeon’s nurse practitioner, my 20-month follow-up. I have an appointment for a blood draw there, too; I committed before surgery to allowing them to include my blood in a hematological study of lung cancer patients over time. I may go to Colonial Liquors while I’m in town to buy some Arkansas beer to ship to a friend out east, if they sell warm beer. My understanding is that beer degrades considerably if it’s chilled, then warmed, then chilled again. So, I don’t want cold beer. I want warm beer.

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Yesterday afternoon I facilitated a Zoom conversation about race with twenty-seven other members of my church. It was an interesting discussion, I think, though I was very conscious of the time each person, including me, took to express their thoughts. Consequently, I do not think I adequately made the points I wanted to make. I may write an article for the next church newsletter to expound on my ideas; of course, the church newsletter, like many information resources, is largely ignored or skimmed with such superficiality that my words probably will be overlooked or utterly ignored. I’m not complaining, just stating what I believe to be fact. My fundamental point was to be this: white people must take the lead in dismantling systemic racism; that may be quite painful because aside from changing minds, it will probably require dramatically reducing our privileges vis-a-vis replacing heartless capitalism with a system that more closely resembles socialism. One person yesterday (maybe two) mentioned the need to change from a capitalist society to one modeled on socialism. The chances for success are slim in my lifetime, but perhaps in the next generation or two. Youth do not have so many experiences of failure to impede their efforts.

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I extracted some thoughts, on matters presently on my mind, from posts of the past. I incorporate them below. I think I’m doing this because I have a growing urge to rifle through all of what I’ve written over the years, extracting what I consider to be the better or relevant materials into a collection I might publish. This idea, of course, is not new. I’ve thought about it extensively and have written about it here on my blog. I need either to commit to it or to abandon the idea. But, for now, I stick a toe in the water and wonder whether the effort would be worth the outcome.

Communal Society Versus Individualistic Society

There are so many other laws, social and legal, that impose the social preferences of one group of people on every individual. Think of nudity, extramarital relationships, profanity, alcohol, marijuana, Sunday liquor sales…the list could go on.

I find it offensive that society can impose its collective will on so many things that are, to the extent they cause no harm to society at large, personal matters. The trick, of course, is to define that line of demarcation at which personal liberties infringe on the social order. But, often, that line of demarcation is ignored entirely.  Too little attention is paid to the concept of freedom and too much is paid to what a large or influential group of people find disagreeable. The result is the imposition of unreasonable restrictions on personal freedom.

I could easily take an opposing view of the imposition of social mores on individuals, though. I believe individualism is a negative force in society and that a sense of community and communal efforts better serve us. Mixed thoughts; much complexity.

The Suffocation of Communication

I resent Facebook. Facebook extracted depth from communication, replacing meaning with volume. Depth now splashes in shallow Facebook pools, trying in vain to find its way to the life-sustaining oxygen of conversation. Conversation that died at Facebook’s hand. Conversation withered in the absence of air, replaced by meaningless chirps—the sorts of noises made by wind-up birds whose wings keep the attention of infants for a few moments while their parents try to breathe. But the parents don’t breathe; they perish while listening to the shrill noise of artificial love-bots.

On the other hand, Facebook has enabled us to dramatically expand our circle of interaction. And it enabled Russian trolls and bots to steal the 2016 election. I still weigh in heavily against Facebook. And against Twitter, the enabler of the Dissembler-in-Chief and his insane cult of followers.

On the Contents of “Holy” Religious Texts

My sense is that,  from the start, the “supreme being” has been ourselves, our own consciences. The stories helped some people better understand the concepts. And they were contorted and bent and wrenched into shapes that changed them from myth to reality. But the reality isn’t real. At least not from my perspective. But the original motives were probably good.

And so I am spiritually promiscuous.

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Happiness Within Our Grasp, Thunderously So

I mistakenly posted something I called “Thunder” a little while ago. It was an accident. Ignore it. But if you don’t, you’ll see I intended to incorporate it here. I think I’m a little distracted this morning; you know, giddy with the sense that happiness is within our grasp!

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Yesterday began like too many days lately, a day soaked in the negativity of the world around me; a negativity, I might add, to which I have been contributing. The day got better, though. After I took my wife to her physical therapy appointment, I came home and got some things done. Nothing earth-shattering, but good. Later, I spent part of the afternoon preparing last night’s dinner of Tilapia Veracruz, accompanied by rice and steamed zucchini. Good stuff! And then, last night, I watched a few episodes of the second season of Dead to Me, a Netflix series. The first season was excellent; the second season, so far…meh. But by the time I watched it, I had mellowed.

Sometime during the day yesterday, I decided I could not continue twisting myself into knot about things over which I have little or no immediate control. This is not a new thing; I often reach such an epiphany. One of these days I’ll figure out how to keep it going. In the interim, I’m enjoying the realization that I have almost innumerable things about which to be happy. Happiness is within my grasp! It’s true of almost everyone, actually, though it requires a different, highly personal, perspective for each person. I won’t go into any of this for now. Suffice it to say each one of us who has at least one person in our lives who matters deeply has something about which to be grateful and, therefore, happy.

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We are rightfully impressed by the ingenuity that led to the development of air conditioning. Willis Carrier is widely regarded as the inventor of the modern air conditioner. What brilliance!  Carrier invented a device to cool the rooms of a lithograph company in Brooklyn, New York. One hundred and eighteen years ago; our lives changed.

Now, consider that vast expanses of Earth’s surface can be cooled or heated as a result of slight changes in the direction or speed of the jet stream. I remember, when I was a child, the thrill of watching and feeling a powerful cold front, which we called a “blue norther,” sweep through Corpus Christi, Texas. A hot, humid day changed in an instant to an adventure in which the air was cold and dry and the sky turned an ominous obsidian blue.

If we thought Mother Nature was a sentient being, we would worship her ability to cool or heat entire hemispheres. But we don’t see her that way; she is simply an expression of complex physics too intricate and complex for us to understand, so we pretend we are far more advanced and capable than she. “She.” Why don’t we say Father Nature instead, or refer to it as “it,” instead? Or “him.” Those questions exceed my ability to understand. Besides, what does it matter, in practical terms? In the abstract, I am happy that Nature has more control than do humans. That makes me happy. Happiness is within my grasp!

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The dictionary might define thunder as follows:

A loud, explosive, resounding noise produced by the violent expansion of air heated by a lightning discharge.

I have a different idea about thunder. It is a mystical, magical, wondrous CRACK!, followed by glorious rumbling growls that shake the foundations of the universe. Thunder explains, in an instant, the pointlessness of attempting to harness Nature. Yes, back to Nature. That wonderful, inexplicable something utterly outside of humankind’s meaningful influence. If I were a dictionary, I would define thunder thusly:

A loud, explosive, resounding symphony of immense sound, followed by glorious rumbling growls that shake the foundations of the universe and give enormous joy to all who listen and feel the unfathomable happiness it brings. Thunder is caused by the clash of lightning gods engaged in intense but enjoyable conversation.

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I have errands to run this morning, errands that I will pursue with aggressive intent. That’s aggressive as in bold or assertive, not as in offensive, aggressive, or attacking.

And that’s that. I shall embark on this day with renewed enthusiasm and a sense that I can change the world when it is my time to do so.

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Thunder

The dictionary might define thunder as follows:

A loud, explosive, resounding noise produced by the violent expansion of air heated by a lightning discharge.

I have a different idea about thunder. It is a mystical, magical, wondrous CRACK!, followed by glorious rumbling growls that shake the foundations of the universe. Thunder explains, in an instant, the pointlessness of attempting to harness Nature.

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Blessed are the Bitchers, for they Shall Explode

Yesterday, I wanted to express my frustrations with the world around me by writing a scathing rebuke of humankind.  But I just could not force myself to the keyboard. Instead, I did as I sometimes do when my emotions are raw and the universe seems intent on punishing us for the arrogance of our existence; I put on a happy face.

I covered my face with two masks: one, depicting the artificial stoic everyone sees; the other, a piece of cloth to give protection to the people around me. Both of them are, in a sense, protective of those with whom I come in contact. And, I suppose, they protect me from the responses people might have if they saw the anger and the pain and the pointless frustration behind the masks. I say pointless because frustration with “the way things are” is wasted mental energy unless it is spent changing “the way things are.” Talking about the anguish that grows from racism and the twisted thinking that breeds it and writing about the evils of injustice…I don’t know, those are such weak responses to such an enormously damaging set of threats to decency and humanity.

An American rock band that was popular in the early 1990s, Rage Against the Machine, clearly understood the power of anti-establishment lyrics, coupled with an angry, repetitive, enraged beat. I was aware of the group, though I did not listen to much of its music. Now, though, I think I understand that its members were not only performing music, they were demanding justice by way of a growing scream that continues to echo in a vacuum today. The group’s name, Rage Against the Machine, is an apt phrase that describes what I have been feeling these last few days. Revolution, rebellion, and aggressively forcing change is on my mind these days. But being “on my mind” and “clutched in my fist like a truncheon embedded with spikes, ready to do its awful work” are worlds apart.

Last night, I watched a substantial part of #WeCantBreathe: A UUA Virtual Prayer Vigil. That was a mistake for a number of reasons. It fed my rage and left me feeling that the only thing “we” are doing is spraying a light mist of words on a raging inferno consuming the world in which we live. I was not thrilled with the overtly religious tenor of the online event, either. But that’s neither here nor there. Rebellion. That’s what we need. Voting with fists and firearms and breaking into National Guard armories with the aim of thwarting the “establishment’s” use of weaponry against an enraged, oppressed people.

This morning, I began the day with a cup of coffee. I sat outside in the early morning coolness and experimented with an app on my smart phone (BirdNet) that “listens” to bird songs and identifies the singing birds. I heard Carolina wrens and northern cardinals and crows and pileated woodpeckers, among others. And an occasional breeze rattled the new wind chimes, creating a calming sound. Now that is a great way to begin a day.

But I feel hypocritical when I seek serenity, believing as I do (for the moment, at least) that rage-infused action is what is required. What good, really, are marches and peaceful protests and letters to our Senators? What value are letters to the editor? How many years have oppressed people been told to “just give it time” and let the system work out the kinks? Oppressed minorities and the poor and disenfranchised have waited generations and generations for the “kinks” to get worked out of the system. And they have witnessed how their “allies” are complicit in the oppression. The most recent public example was in New York’s Central Park, where a woman called the police to report an “African-American man” was threatening to kill her, whereas he, an avid birdwatcher, simply asked her to leash her dog. That ostensibly liberal white woman quickly weaponized her language by telling the police, in not-so-coded language, to come protect her from an “African-American man.” And I feel hypocritical just writing about it. Especially here, a place safely shielded from most eyes. So I am protected from the neo-Nazi backlash and the dimwit hillbillies with their AR-14s and kevlar vests, brandishing Confederate battle flags.

I am deeply, deeply, deeply unhappy. There is little to like in this American society of ours. We live in a root-ball of greed whose growing branches and leaves spread its infected capitalism and merciless animosity toward the poor like a wave drowning the world. I want, desperately, to love this country. But I can’t. Not in its present form. I’m afraid it will be worthy of love only after the thick scabs that replaced its torn skin have been ripped off, revealing the body beneath. That flesh and sinew and bone might be strong enough to survive, but only if its healing is pure.

God, I hate feeling this way. It’s a mixture of rage and fear and hatred and love and embarrassment and compassion and more. The mix is tainted with sand and fine gravel, so the emotions grate against one another with every pass, the pain feeling akin to abrasions, like road rash, sprayed with merthiolate. It’s too early for liquor and I have no sources for less legal and more soothing plant-based psychic balms. So, I will “slog through the porridge,” as I am wont to say. This angst will pass. It always does. The fact that it does, though, is both embarrassing and hypocritical. Oppressed peoples do not have the good fortune of “getting over it.” Because it keeps coming back, stronger and more virulent than ever. And they get to watch people like me wring our hands and wish there was something we could do. Well there is. We’re just not doing it. We’re talking about it and pretending to be activists. Activists are not needed. Armies are. Courageous people, knives clutched in their teeth, willing to stand face-to-face with the oppressors and demand change. Fat effing chance.

I may go outside and pull and few weeds. And plant a few IEDs. Just joking, purveyors of government espionage against its own people. It’s not just the government that maintains and promotes oppression. It’s our own people. Neighbors who vote in misguided, deluded, intellectually-challenged “self-interest” that contributes to the shackles placed around our necks. I can’t stop writing about this. I must go outside and listen to birds! Or I will explode, revealing all the blood and pent-up emotion I carry around with me. If I’m ugly now, the result will require a new word the conveys ugly to the tenth power.

Enough of the screen-based scream.

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A Choice Between Retributive and Restorative Justice

How many times will we tolerate hearing “we need to have a conversation about race?” How many times will we enthusiastically assert the possibility that, finally, we have reached the point at which a solution to systemic racism may be at hand? How many times will we ensure that the advantaged position of white people is preserved while claiming to be solidly on the side of oppressed minorities?

The answers are just as stale as the questions. The emotionally-charged questions and their carefully compassionate but thoroughly hypocritical responses are utterly predictable and hopelessly pointless. The only logical first step is for white folks to admit guilt, whether through individual responsibility for oppression or through willing acceptance of the spoils of what amounts to crimes against humanity. But because white people fear the potential downside of a bald admission of our own moral corruption, the majority of us will insist, though not necessarily explicitly, on some assurances that the outcome of a guilty plea will be no worse than unsupervised probation. Yes, we want a favorable plea bargain. Never mind that thousands upon thousands of people of color have died at the hands of a brutally racist system in which the perpetrators of murder and oppression escape even a reprimand, much less actual punishment.

Conversations about “race” too often focus exclusively on the plight of descendants of Africans brought against their will to this land. With rare public exception, we seem to have forgotten the genocidal purge that began the moment Europeans landed on the shores of North America. The original inhabitants of the land we now call our own have few remaining ancestors, thanks to our ancestors’ treatment of other human beings as unworthy of life. Our “ancestors” in the form of our government and its policies (and our own behaviors) continue treating native people that way even today.

No, we did not kidnap Africans and enslave them. No, we did not murder native inhabitants of this land and corral them into ghettos. No, we did not write the laws and regulations that effectively subjugate huge swaths of our population to the will of its white majority. But we continue to allow ourselves to deny the guilt that resides in our cultural DNA. And we continue to profit from the misdeeds and moral failings of our ancestors and their descendants.

I read an extremely well-written essay about race a few days ago. The writer suggested we need the equivalent of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He said, “The United States needs a national reckoning of its sins.” We do. I do not think a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is the right approach; the economic and racial disparities evident in South Africa today offer evidence that such a model has massive systemic flaws. But we need to do something BIG. Something to shock our systems. Something to eradicate the focus on the individual and on economic and political subjugation, replacing them with collectivism and genuine equality.

We need to acknowledge how we came to be rich and powerful. And we need to find a way to transfer that wealth and that power to people who have been enslaved by a system purpose-built to minimize benefits that otherwise would accrue to them. Even if that means reducing the wealth and power of the white majority. Even if that means accepting a lower standard of self-direction and opportunity.

I am afraid we do not have the political will nor the moral backbone to accomplish what needs to be done. I am afraid the solutions will flow like gasoline from a hose onto a burning inferno. A post I wrote a year ago, in which I mentioned an Ethiopian proverb, suddenly got a lot of traffic beginning a few days ago. I think I may know why, given the flames engulfing many of our cities today. The proverb says, “The child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth.” Indeed. Oppressed minorities subjected to systemic abuse represent today’s child. This society built on systemic racism and control represents the village.

We may still have a choice, if we decide now, between retributive and restorative justice. I think it is up to us to decide whether we want the village to burn or to expand into an inclusive city.

 

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Canadian Ferry Tails

If the universe treated me with the respect I deserve, it would permit me to return to a place I have never visited and again become a person I never was. The universe would allow me to escape to Abbotsford, British Columbia in the year 1977, where I would live comfortably as a forty-five year-old Canadian farmer using Dutch greenhouse technology to grow tomatoes in enormous hothouses not far from the Fraser River.

I picked 1977 for several reasons.  The same reasons caused me to choose to be forty-five years old. Those reasons revolve around nostalgia for an imaginary time when people in general, and Canadian farmers in particular, were gentle, compassionate, and intelligent. I was at my peak, physically, when I was that age, though that time would not come for me in this dimension until the year 1998. At least that’s what I choose to believe. Had I been a forty-five year old Canadian in 1977, I would have been slightly taller than I am now and considerably lighter. My waistline would have been roughly ten inches smaller and the muscles in my arms and legs would have been far stronger than they have ever been before (or since).

The rural farmland around Abbotsford in the mid-1970s was, in my mind’s eye, soft and sweet and loving. That farmland embraced farmers the way passionate lovers do, with a gentle fury that conveys both vulnerability and protective strength. That was a time before the stench of corruption in Washington, DC and all the U.S. state capitols made the air impossible to breathe south of the Canadian border. The miserable stench of Canada’s neighbour to the sound is what sparked Pierre Trudeau’s interest in building the Canadian Good Neighbour Wall. He started planning The Wall in May 1968, shortly after he took office as Canada’s Prime Minister and less than six months before Richard Nixon was elected President of the United States. Apparently, Trudeau had a premonition about the decay of the U.S.

Dedication ceremonies for that first portion of the Wall, built between Boundary Bay, British Columbia and Emerson, Manitoba, were held in May 1979, just before Trudeau completed his first sequence as Prime Minister and less than six months before Ronald Reagan won the White House. The main portion of the second half of the Wall—from Emerson to Saint Stephen, New Brunswick—was finished in April 1984 and was dedicated the next month near the end of Trudeau’s second slot as Prime Minister. And, coincidentally, less than six months after Reagan won a second term. A symbolic “End of the Wall” edifice, located on the shore of Lubec Narrows (the Canadian side, of course) was dedicated at the same time.

I would have watched the U.S. elections and the ugliness surrounding them with disgust and amusement. Canadian tomatoes were in exceptionally high demand in the United States in 1977, thanks to a crushing decline in California tomato crop yield for both processing tomatoes (by far the bulk of the market) and fresh market tomatoes. The vast majority of processing tomatoes that year would have come from Canada. Florida’s fresh market crop shifted to processors, so Canadian tomatoes took the mantle of top producer of consumer fresh market tomatoes that year, too.

By intertwining fiction with fact, my excursion into 1977 British Columbian life has taken me into the bowels of an extraordinarily successful tomato farming operation and beyond. Both of my key farm managers hailed originally from Portugal, where cork, wine, and sardines were the main commerce trade exports that year. Because the tomato operations were so lucrative, I could afford to explore other options, so I decided to give my managers freedom to imitate their home country’s successes. Growing cork in British Columbia seemed far-fetched at the time, so I focused on the wine. Though I am quite fond of sardines, I felt any attempt to replicate Portuguese success near the Pacific coast would be destined to fail. Wine, though! The reason British Columbian wines are so popular today can be traced to my 1977 investment in Grape Air, the air cargo company that outfits Boeing 747s for grape transport. The company began with just six jets in its fleet; today, the fleet numbers more than six hundred. Every plane leaves Lisbon full of grapes and arrives in Vancouver fifteen hours later; nine hours thereafter, following unloading and maintenance, it heads back for another load.

It was Grape Air that allowed me to retire into a life of stunning philanthropy. Thanks to generous donations made to Canadian medical research facilities, Canadian doctors have developed cures for virtually all diseases. And contributions to Médecins Sans Frontières led to the global elimination of malaria, measles, all forms of corona virus, and psoriasis. The Grape Air Foundation was the sole source of funds for creating and subsequent maintenance of the Trans-Canada Canal, about which I’ll write more in a moment.

Even though twenty-three years have passed since 1977, I remain forty-five years old and Canada remains largely bucolic and serene. The Canadian Good Neighbour Wall remains a protective shield against it hideous neighbour to the south; indeed, we no longer permit Canadian airwaves to be defiled with feculent lies broadcast by Fox News and its ilk.

Every year, I walk from Abbotsford to Boundary Bay, where I board the Trans-Canada Ferry, an impressive paddle wheeler that floats along the Trans-Canada Canal, a marine navigation channel dug as an additional discouragement to wanna-be Canadians from the land to the south who would love to escape their mundane existence by fleeing to Canada. The Trans-Canada Canal skirts the Canada-USA border just north of the Canadian Good Neighbour Wall. My trip from the Pacific to the Atlantic takes twenty-one days, including overnight stays at the ports of Sault Ste. Marie and Fort Frances, Ontario. The trip back to Abbotsford, by horse-drawn carriage, is a months-long affair. The horse’s tail, woven into a beautiful braid, is a glorious vision to behold, even when we’re among the rare desolate stretches of road. Every year, my trip home is the subject of articles in countless local newspapers in towns along the way and, on occasion, The Globe & Mail and the Toronto Star.

I think I’ve written quite enough about the ferry and about trailing the tail home. It’s time to return to reality, despite the fact that reality is an especially unattractive destination at the moment. Such is the life of a misfit.

 

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Civic Hallucinations

Responsible members of any society have an obligation to pay attention to what is going on around them. They have an obligation to protest injustice and to warn others when they see or hear or otherwise learn about dangers that could, if left unchecked, damage the society of which they are a part. But sometimes the barrage of alarming information can overwhelm a person’s senses. At times, the ceaseless onslaught of signals grows so constant and so loud and shrill that the signals, themselves, present the most immediate danger. They imperil a person’s ability to shield himself against his own deafening demands to do something—anything—in an attempt to protect himself or those he loves from growing danger. That screaming urge to take action, I think, can be so overwhelming as to cause people to do irrational things.

Sometimes, though, irrational actions are precisely what society needs to right itself. Irrational actions can so “shock the system” that members of society seem to collectively take a deep breath and look at the madness that surrounds them. It is hard to predict which irrational acts might reach through the fog of confusion when society is utterly unbalanced and unhinged. Is it an individual suicidal protest on national television? Is it the detonation of a bomb in a crowded office building? Is it the threat of widespread destruction and murder by an unknown “defender of the American way?” There is no way to know. It is not just hard to predict; it is impossible to predict.

So, there are competing forces at play: protect oneself from dangerous internal demands to “do something” or; attempt to jolt society into taking collective corrective action by acting in ways that may be irrational.

That’s a long, somewhat translucent (but almost opaque) explanation of what is going on in my head this morning. By ignoring my responsibility to “pay attention,” I have attempted to protect myself from going mad. I’ve made an effort to avoid the voice and the words of the wanna-be dictator in the White House. I’ve done the same with respect to the majority of Republican legislators in Washington (and many of their Democratic opponents). I have tried, unsuccessfully, to avoid the thick stupidity of dimwits who equate wearing masks with secret support of the “deep state.” Yet “news” keeps slipping in, attempting to slit my wrists with its sharp edges and ugly realty. I watched, in horror, the videotape of the Minneapolis police officer killing an unarmed, non-threatening Black man. I heard about the idiot-in-chief taking action intended to silence his critics in and on social media. I learned about the on-camera arrest of a CNN reporter covering the protests and destruction in response to that murder of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis Police Department. I could not help but hear that protesters set a Minneapolis police precinct building on fire.

Obviously, though I have attempted to shield myself from the madness of watching civil society disintegrate before my eyes, I failed. I know too much. I cannot turn off that grisly movie reel playing in my head. The images cause my brain to howl at me to “do something!” The shrieks are loud and getting louder. But there’s nothing I can do. If I had access to a nuclear devise, I might be able to grab the world’s attention by detonating it in just the right place at just the right time. I have no such device, though. I don’t even have more conventional tools like dynamite and rocket-propelled grenades. And I would be hesitant to attempt to blow up oil refineries, even if I had the necessary equipment. I could record myself screaming, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” That might have worked in a 1975 movie, but it’s too tame and too subtle in today’s live-murder, video-driven world.

Even with my attempt to ratchet-down the flood of disturbing news, it continues to flow freely all around me. And simply closing my eyes and ears would do nothing more than keep me in a state of temporary blissful ignorance for a while. I have to acknowledge that I can either be a responsible member of society by paying attention and doing something, rational, to right the ship or I can quietly withdraw and let it sink along with me.

COVID-19 seems, now, like an inevitable, unstoppable scourge, in light of the fact that we’ve acknowledged that the economy is vastly more important than human life and that the right to assemble can be asserted only by refusing to wear masks. If a police officer puts his knee on your neck, your obligation is to accept his supremacy and your impending death. Any criticism of the president of the United States is hereby declared treason. The rich deserve every penny they steal from the college savings funds of parents trying to secure their children’s future. The minimum wage should be lowered. Corporate employers should be encouraged to engage employees as unpaid interns for the first six years of employment, after which the interns should be summarily dismissed without severance. Food should be supplied, first, to the wealthy and well-connected and only then, after sufficient spoilage, made available to the rest of us riff-raff.

Hope. Less. Weep. More.

I have watched videos of eels undulating, like living ribbons, through the water. Those movements are like my moods, oscillating between enthusiasm and despair. Or, perhaps, my moods more closely mimic the rhythm of EKG machine output; regular peaks and valleys with the occasional upward spike and sharp dive. Manic one minute, depressed the next. I think there’s a psychological term for that. How frequent must the upward and downward spikes be to meet the definition of  “abnormal?” At what precise increment in the measure of frequency does “normal” become “abnormal?” Is there a “borderline normal” frequency or a “borderline abnormal” frequency of those peaks and valleys? Do those mood swings mirror the ups and downs of the EKG chart? In other words, are the undulations of eels ever borderline…anything? Or do we only classify human behaviors as natural or deviant? So many questions. So little value in answering them.

I’ve been watching Carolina wrens that built a nest atop an awning that attaches just below the soffit. The birds are now, I think, feeding their young with worms and bugs and such. The birds do not spend their time worrying about their moods, nor about other birds murdering their young without reason. Those birds are not concerned about greedy capitalists cornering the market on worms.

We have the capacity to achieve the same degree of intelligence demonstrated by Carolina wrens. We do. All we have to do is feed our young bugs, break the knees of psychotic policemen, and regulate the market on worms so capitalists cannot control the supply. It’s just that easy.

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Snap!

On a recent night, I sat sipping a glass of Cabernet/Shiraz blend from a plastic wine glass (purchased when we lived in Dallas and the patio was made of stone, which tends to result in glasses being shattered when dropped…see how easily I get distracted?) and pondering how to attach cushions to our wrought iron furniture. The cushions come with ties, but it’s a bit of a hassle to tie them and untie them. I want something easier. Suddenly, the idea hit me…snaps!

So, I Googled “how to attach snaps to fabric” and up popped a link to a YouTube video. I followed the link. Wendi gave me step-by-step instructions on how to use hammer-on snaps. Problem solved! Well, not yet, but it will be solved. Assuming, of course, I can find the right size snaps from an online source. I feel confident I can.

All I have to do is figure out where to place the snaps on the tie-down straps, install the snaps, and the problem will have been addressed. Of course, I will have to decide what to do with the excess “tail” of the tie-down straps. Perhaps I’ll just cut them off, put some tape over the end (I don’t have a sewing machine, nor have I ever learned to  use one, so I cannot sew the wounded fabric back together), and voilà, perfection!

My mind could not simply stop and celebrate my spectacularly good idea. I had to come up with more. And I did. Many of them, though, will require the purchase of a sewing machine and sewing lessons. For example, my Samsung smartphone is too large for a case that would hang on my belt; I need something that can attach to my pants, below the beltline and to the side. The solution: using a sturdy but lightweight cloth, sew a case that fits the phone. Attach snaps to the phone case and to my pants (every pair) so I can simply snap the case onto my pants. When I need the phone, I simply reach down, lift the cloth flip-top to reveal the phone, and pull the phone out. This solution could be my ticket out of here! I envision going on Shark Tank to ask for investments to mass produce the product, only to have one of the sharks offer me an all cash offer for my business, including all intellectual rights. I’ll probably walk out of the studio with upward of $100 million in my pocket.

Similar solutions would work to attach and store key holders, passport holders, wallets (thereby protecting men’s butts from sitting on billfolds, which no doubt does nerve damage to gluteal nerves and muscles), eyeglasses holders, knife pockets, etc.

They (whoever “they” are) will give me a nickname; The Snapster. Finally, I will be able to buy my private island, far away from the madding crowd, where I can relax and enjoy my enormous wealth and my valuable privacy. Of course, I’ll feel compelled to share my wealth with the poor, the destitute, the unfortunate, and the Wendi’s of the world, the people who produce YouTube videos only to have some schmuck come along and take advantage of their generosity of shared knowledge. And then where will I be? Where, indeed.

Consider just how many snappable holders-of-all-things-imaginable I might have attached to my clothing. To reiterate:

  1. Phone
  2. Car keys
  3. House keys
  4. Billfold
  5. Eyeglasses
  6. Eyeglasses polishing cloth
  7. Pocket knife
  8. Passport
  9. iPad
  10. Writing pad
  11. Pens/pencils

Of course, I could consolidate a few of these items, but most I would want to keep separate so I could easily find the specific item I want. Unlike a purse, this flock of pockets would keep everything separate and within easy reach.

As I consider my flash of brilliance, I think about the travel vests available from TravelSmith and a few others; those vests behave like well-organized, wearable purses, too. But they do not require the installation of multiple sets of snaps on every piece of clothing one owns. This idea of mine has merit; but maybe not as much as I first thought.

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Much to my surprise, when I searched for posts on this blog using the topic “money laundering,” I found only one post.  Obviously, I have not done enough research on the topic. Which reflects the fact that I do not have enough money to launder.

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Fabric

Last night’s storms shredded leaves and tore branches from trees. Leaves and twigs and broken limbs litter the streets this morning. The forest floor outside my window, normally a sea of brown leaves, is speckled with green leaves and sprigs, casualties of the fierce winds and biting horizontal rain that accompanied a series of powerful squalls.

As I drove to the grocery store this morning not long after daybreak, I had to dodge pieces of trees along the way. When I got to the store, I was surprised how few people were in the aisles; but the flow of humanity continued after my arrival.

A couple of items on my list were from the area around the pharmacy. While looking for shampoo and a specific dosage of a vitamin, I heard a man at the pharmacy counter say to the pharmacist, “Let me go home and get it; I’ll be right back.”

As I turned to go up an aisle, the man approached me. “Excuse me, sir, would you have $12 you could give me to pick up my prescription? I left my wallet at home”

I was in a charitable mood, so I opened my wallet. I did not have $12 in bills, but I did have a twenty; I handed it to him. He thanked me and said he would bring me the change. I went about looking for the vitamins and glanced over at the pharmacy counter. He was there. I continued looking. No luck; they were out. I looked back at the pharmacy counter. The man was gone. I looked around the area a bit; no sign of him. Apparently he left with my change. I’m not absolutely certain he was actually at the counter to buy anything; I may have been scammed. Oh, well. My guess is that he needed either the prescription or the money or both more than I needed that $20 bill.

I thought about that man as I drove home with the groceries. I wondered whether his life had been shredded in some fashion. Perhaps the corona virus had put him out of work. He was dressed in what appeared to be the type of uniform an air conditioning service person might wear, so maybe he’s back at work. I could venture a million guesses about him and be wrong about every one. For whatever reason, I felt and still feel compassion for the guy, even though he took my money and left.

I feel a different kind of compassion for a neighbor, a woman for whom I picked up a few items at the store this morning. She is dealing with a husband whose health is in steep decline. She told my wife that a hospice worker is coming today to talk about next steps in putting her husband in hospice. I don’t know either of the two of them especially well, but I imagine the idea of hospice might be shredding their peace of mind, though she must feel a sense of relief that part of her difficult duties in tending to her husband will be reduced. Yet feeling relief can trigger a competing sense of guilt, even when the decision is in the best interests of everyone. Ach, reality can shred serenity into threads.

When I delivered the neighbor’s bread and milk and orange juice, she gave me $12 in cash for the $11+ I spent on those items. I felt guilty taking that money, knowing what she is going through and thinking that I gave $20 to a man who might well have been scamming me. My faith in humanity sometimes comes unraveled. That disbelief in the innate goodness of humankind stares at me as I look in the mirror, wondering whether I, too, am unworthy of the confidence that I am, at my core, good. Should I have refused the $12, looking at the expenditure as a payment for a lesson learned?

I don’t know. Morality seems to be laughable these days. Decency is evidence of weakness, a badge of powerlessness. Mother Nature’s storms last night are not the only forces tearing the world around me into shreds. Emotional storms are doing the same thing. They are not as visible, but they are just as destructive. The fabric of nature heals itself. I suppose the fabric that clothes a scarred psyche does the same; we just have to give the scars time to tie the shreds together.

 

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Memorial Tribute, Memorial Rage

I quote from a post I wrote five years ago; my opinions have not changed:

Memorial Day is dedicated to the men and women who lost their lives in defense of the USA, it is not a celebratory welcoming of summer.

It doesn’t matter your politics, we owe a debt of gratitude to those people who did as they were asked. They may not have agreed with the politics of the wars they fought, but most did. Regardless, they followed orders and did their duty. Well over one million men and women have died while fighting, or supporting, wars in which the USA has been engaged. I offer my respect and admiration for them; I only hope their sacrifices lead, eventually, to peace and to an environment in which war is recognized as the ultimate insanity.

I still maintain my appreciation for the women and men who have died in service to their country. Many of them, in my opinion, died needlessly in unnecessary wars. Still, they responded to their country’s call to service, even when that call was misguided or utterly amoral. Their sacrifices remain awful reminders of the unholy costs of war.

Civil society cannot condone war. Decent human beings cannot condone war. If attacked, we legitimately can fight back, but we cannot provoke the attack simply to justify war. Leaders worth following acknowledge the idiocy of war and they do their best to avoid it. They do not glorify war, nor power, nor military might; those who do should be autopsied so we might learn what deviance might have caused their insanity.

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A Cleansing Experience

Yesterday’s muted grey milieu proved the perfect atmosphere for working outside the confines of the walls of the house. The cloud cover remained for most of the morning and into mid-afternoon, sheltering me from the sun’s brutal rays while I power-washed the deck, the wrought-iron deck furniture, and the porch screen. The latter was the most challenging, as I had not given the screen a thorough cleaning since before my lung cancer diagnosis—so, November 2018. Well before that, I am sure; probably the Spring of that year. Oh, I’ve done some perfunctory cleaning since then, but nothing like the intensity a good cleaning demands. Finally, though, I tackled the beast. The effort involved moving very heavy tables and chairs, potted plants, grill, smoker, etc., etc. Quite the undertaking, I say.

I started after breakfast and finally, around 3:00 p.m., admitted I could do no more. I did not complete the job to my full satisfaction, but I am pleased with it, nonetheless. The view through the screen is clear, the pollen is gone from the screen, the chairs, the table tops, and the deck’s wooden planks. This morning, as I sat on the porch, sipping my coffee, the difference was stark; I am surprised I had been able to enjoy my time on the deck before the cleaning. Now, though, the experience is a delight. Oh, it could be better and it will be better as I continue the process of cleaning, repainting, and replacing a few more boards. Yet it is now sheer joy to sit there, listening to the birds and hearing the occasional lowing of cattle on the farm below us.

The process of a very late Spring cleaning continued this morning when I opened the kitchen windows and noticed that the screen were terribly dusty. So, I vacuumed the dust from them and was astonished at how much clearer a view I had to the outside world. I may have to go into full-scale cleaning mode.

The fierce winds and heavy rain that began around dusk yesterday afternoon continued the cleansing of the deck. After I had hauled all the cleaning gear out to the garage following my admission of exhaustion, I noticed a few places on the deck where I had failed to wash away dirty water that had accumulated when I washed the screen. Last night’s storms took care of them for me.

Mother Nature probably figured I did not need the aggravation of washing the deck again today, especially in light of how sore I am. Oh, yes, I am sore in places I had forgotten could be so unfriendly. My lower back, my shoulders, my wrists, and my neck are complaining loudly of the abuse I heaped upon them yesterday. A full-body massage, followed by soaking in a jetted soaking tub full of hot water until wine-time, would help with the aches, but I have neither a masseur nor a masseuse at my disposal, nor do I have access to a hot-tub. Ach, the awful injustice of first-world, middle-class poverty. I will survive even this affront to my comfort.

I’m in a philosophical mood at the moment, but not in the mood to write about my philosophies. So, I’ll stop writing and devote my time to thinking and, perhaps, reading about remedies for tired, aching, overworked muscles.

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Cool, Grey Serenity

Even on this drab morning, when the sky is a muted, muddy grey, the sounds of birds singing lifts my spirits. When I awoke, much later than normal at around 6, darkness had already been washed from the sky, leaving in its wake a dim grey glow. I went out to hang the hummingbird feeder (I take it in at night to discourage raccoons from greedily drinking the nectar) and was immediately enchanted by the way the cool air enveloped me and asked me, ever so gently, to stay for a while. Though I wanted to sit outside and drink in the morning, I opted instead to return to the kitchen, make some coffee, and sit in front of my computer screen. Some mornings, I think I’ve lost my mind; my head would be clearer and my thoughts more precise and pleasant if I simply let myself relax and absorb what Mother Nature wants me to know.  But, in spite of my decision to come back indoors, the sounds of birds and the coolness of the morning fed me with a little more composure than I am used to. And I like that. (And, perhaps, the dim grey air helped.)

Having returned to the house and having sat in front of my computer, though, I have decided to make this a short-lived engagement with the keyboard. Maybe I’ll feel more inclined to blog later in the day. But for now, I need more coffee and the serenity of birdsongs and a cool, grey morning. Back to the deck.

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And So It Ends

It’s only 6:30, yet I am three hours into my Saturday. The gods of heaven and earth, at war earlier in the day, woke me from a troubled sleep during which I emptied a pistol into a substitute teacher who stole a child’s lunch money. The thief was somehow unharmed; that was even more troubling than the discharge of the weapon. The gods, by the way, remain engaged in periodic skirmishes at this hour.

I awoke to an electric sky, a thousand crooked fingers of lightning streaking across the darkness.  Echoes and rumbles that  trailed off into deep, angry growls followed claps of thunder that produced concussions that shook the floor and walls. The flash of lightning was a rapidly pulsing strobe light shining in my closed eyes, making sleep impossible. Not that sleep would have been possible with the chaotic noise that accompanies the collision of the firmament with the planet in its way. When such a story plays out, though, I do not want to sleep. I want to be a part of it. I want to be involved in some way, at least as a witness.

The power of the storm made me wish I could transport myself in time and space to the year  1800, into a deep indentation on the side of a cliff in what is now New Mexico. There, from a ledge on the side of the cliff, I will have a one-hundred-eighty degree view of the sky. From that vantage point, I will watch the lightning and hear the thunder and absorb the power of Mother Nature’s fury. With no artificial lights to intrude on the darkness, my view is pristine. I see only what Nature reveals to me. I hear only the language of the earth and sky in a battle to determine dominance. And, of course, I know Zeus will triumph. I just know. It’s interesting to me that I’m using future tense in a conversation with myself about going back in time to a place I’ve never been. A place I long to be. Fernweh, again, but taken a step further, longing to return to both a place and a time I’ve never been.

If desire took physical form, it would be wrapped around me like a thick ribbon; no one but I would know it was there, though, because in spite of its tactile qualities, it would be invisible. Unseen Fernweh with form.

Eine Reise tritt nur an, dessen Fernweh gegenüber der Angst vor Veränderung überwiegt.

This German sentence supposedly translates as “A journey occurs only when the desire for distant destinations is stronger than the fear of change.”  I have a different interpretation. To my way of thinking, here’s what the sentence means:

A journey begins only when the longing for a place one has never been outweighs the fear of staying mired in the present moment.

I’ve taken extreme liberties with the translation; it’s more an interpretation than a translation, as I said. I could have embellished it even more by investing Fernweh with physicality, but that might be over-the-top, even for a free-wheeling translator.

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Yesterday, I facilitated a Zoom conversation in which interested people from my church revealed a bit about what matters to them and how they are spending their time (in these times of pandemic). It all went reasonably well until, at the end as I was attempting to wrap up the conversation, someone mentioned that I had not spoken about my own perspective. For some reason, when I began to say what matters to me, I almost was overcome with emotion completely inappropriate to the moment. I felt like a deer in headlights, unable to control myself as the oncoming car approached at full speed. I think I recovered fast enough that people might not have noticed, but I suspect not; these people are more perceptive than the average person on the street. I can write “what matters” dispassionately; for some reason, though, I cannot speak it without melting. That unflattering character flaw has accompanied me for as many years as I’ve been alive, as far as I recall. And it annoys me and embarrasses me. I think it’s one of the (many) reasons I tend to get close to an extremely small cadre of people; I’ve survived my embarrassment with them.

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One of the people on the Zoom conversation yesterday spoke reverently about a book she is reading. It sounded interesting, so this morning I began listening to the audio-book version of The Journey of Crazy Horse: A Lakota History (the physical copies of the book are not immediately available from the Garland County Library). I’ve only gotten through a very little bit of it, but that little bit is fascinating. The author is the one reading the book aloud, which is helpful in that he is able to speak in the Lakota language so that it sounds like it is spoken by a native speaker, not someone trying to sound like a native speaker. Duh, I wonder why that is? My difficulty with audio books checked out on Hoopla from the library is that I am confined to listening to them in front of my computer; I would much rather listen to an audio book while driving in my car. I can’t, now that I’ve downloaded it to my laptop. I may have to buy a physical copy of the book.

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I am going to attempt to form a Zoom-based interest group, though the church, to discuss spicy/fiery foods. Whether there will be sufficient participants remains to be seen. The group will not be announced until next week, at the earliest. While I’d much prefer to meet face-to-face with people who have an interest in spicy/fiery foods, this might get the ball rolling for a time in the future when I may not feel like I’m putting my life and my wife’s life in danger by exposing myself to people over whose engagements with others I have no control. That’s a long and laborious sentence. It should be sliced in half and surgically reconstructed into two or more sentences. Like much of what I write.

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Aimless writing spills scraps of disconnected thoughts onto the keyboard, thereby polluting the screen with shreds of unrelated ideas. Those ideas blend with concepts unbecoming even a note scribbled hastily on an electronic napkin. The napkin, wet with the perspiration of the writer, gets stuck to the pages of an unfinished novel. The book tears the napkin the book is moved to make room for a mug of cold coffee and long-buried memories.  And it all comes down to this. This. What is this? This is an exercise in futility, causing me to decide to exorcise the demons that forced my fingers to strike the keys. And so it ends.

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Rumi

I spent an entirely unsatisfactory fifteen minutes earlier this morning attempting to learn more about the Persian poet, Rumi. The time was unsatisfactory because, for one reason, I was unable to wade through the various Persian and Arabic and other names used by or identified with the man. And I had a bit of a hard time understanding how someone born in 1207 (according to what I read) in either modern-day Tajikistan or Afghanistan made his way to Konya, Turkey, where he died. Those places are almost 1300 miles apart, in a geographic area that is inhospitable, at best. That difficulty notwithstanding, I found my brief exploration interesting and moderately enlightening, if not satisfactory. I learned (re-learned is probably more accurate) that Sufism, the religious path Rumi followed, is “a form of Islamic mysticism that emphasizes introspection and spiritual closeness with God.”

It is the emphasis on introspection that explains the appeals of Rumi’s poetry, I think. At least that is true for me…I think. I wish, though, I could read his poetry in the language used to write it. Translations are, by nature, subjective; so, the words we read in English are interpretations filtered through the mind of someone who has made an attempt to write what the translator thinks Rumi would have written, had he written in English. I have a hard enough time with translations from Spanish; translations from Persian or Arabic or Greek (all languages that found their way into Rumi’s work) are less reliable (again, in my mind). So, the translation thing…perhaps the introspection I value in Rumi’s work (when I encounter it; I cannot recite any of it from memory) is an artifact of a translator’s subjectivity.

During my unsatisfactory attempt to learn more about Rumi, I experienced satisfaction in reading some of his poetry. For example:

“Love isn’t the work of the tender and the gentle;
Love is the work of wrestlers.
The one who becomes a servant of lovers
is really a fortunate sovereign.
Don’t ask anyone about Love; ask Love about Love.
Love is a cloud that scatters pearls.”
~Rumi~

There is no point in writing more, for now. I have learned too little and have absorbed the entire lesson.

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Ova

It was inevitable that I would eventually stumble upon a menu item that would entice me to cross many miles to visit the restaurant that serves it.

Actually, I’ve encountered many such menu items, but this is the first of several I encountered yesterday that lured me with eggs. The menu item: The Slut. The restaurant: Eggslut, with locations in downtown Los Angeles, CA; Glendale, CA; Venice, CA; West Los Angeles, CA;  Las Vegas, NV; Shinjuku, Tokyo, Japan; London, England; and Kuwait City, Kuwait (which is closed temporarily). What?! A chain restaurant? I’ve been tempted by a chain?  It’s true. I cannot explain, other than to say the allure of the menu is stronger than my aversion to the mass market appeal represented by chain restaurants. Oh, the shame.

Eggslut once had a location in Beirut, Lebanon, but I gather that has gone by the wayside. I assume most of the locations are rather new; the article in which the restaurant was mentioned, from October 2018, said it had only three locations. The likelihood that I’ll visit any of the restaurants is highest with respect to visiting one of the Los Angeles area locations. When I get there, I will order the Slut, which the menu describes as “cage-free coddled egg on top of a smooth potato purée, poached in a glass jar, topped with gray salt and chives, served with slices of baguette.

During my excursion into coddled eggs as offered by Slut, I encountered another restaurant I want to visit. And I would make the pilgrimage, were the world a more hospitable, welcoming, safer, and more affordable place to be. I would travel to this Tel Aviv, Israel restaurant. Called Shakshukia, the restaurant is dedicated to shakshuka, as one might have guessed. One can get traditional shakshuka at this restaurant, of course, but it also serves shakshuka dressed with a variety of ingredients such a hummus, shawarma, and merguez sausage. I suppose I will have to make multiple trips there, because I will find it necessary to try every one of them.

There were more. I stumbled upon an online article in Travel & Leisure magazine dedicated to restaurants that pay homage to the egg. I instantly became enamored of the idea. And, while reading elsewhere about coddled eggs, I decided I must buy a set of egg coddlers. A recipe I came across intrigued me, as recipes are wont to do. This one was a simple coddled egg, its cap removed, with a dollop of black caviar and a few strands of chives poking out of the egg for taste and appearance. I was hooked the moment I saw it. It looked so incredibly sophisticated, the egg coddler and its cargo sitting on a little plate surrounded by toast soldiers. I could almost taste the English breakfast tea that would absolutely HAVE TO go with it. I rarely drink hot tea for breakfast, but the image of the caviar-dressed coddled egg spoke to me of the impossibility of relying on coffee to complete the atmosphere.

Egg cookery is far more complex and refined than one might think. Consider the orchestration involved in creating eggs Benedict: it requires absolutely, perfectly, crisp bacon, English muffins toasted to a seared-surface perfection, eggs poached to precisely the right consistency, and a creamy warm Hollandaise sauce. This gathering of magnificence must be completed at exactly the same time for the composition to succeed. Poaching the eggs, alone, requires precision and patience rarely matched in the kitchen. And coddling eggs is an art form, requiring not only the right coddlers but the right adornments. I read, yesterday, about coddled eggs served with shredded salmon, capers, and minced onions alongside “points” of warm, pliable strips of pita bread. Almost orgasmic in the pleasure such refined magnificence brings to the palate.

During the exploration of egg fantasy, it occurred to me that an intriguing variation on deviled eggs might also cause me to shudder in delight. I envisioned carefully removing the shells from soft-boiled eggs, halving the eggs with a knife, and then gently scooping the runny yolks into a waiting bowl. I would mix the runny yolks with a little miso paste, some soy sauce, a bit of horseradish, and celery minced so that it retains some crunch but readily mixes with the creamy yolks and other ingredients. I would then fill each egg with the mixture. The experience would be equivalent to gastronomic joy. At least that’s how I envision it.

My investigation of egg eatery continued with an exploration of shirred eggs. I do not know whether I have ever had shirred eggs, but I know now how important it is for me to try them. I will need sufficiently heat-resistant ramekins that can handle both stove-top heat and the fierce heat of the broiler. The idea of shirred eggs appeals to me in much the same way the idea of coddled eggs pleases my imagination. Runny yolks and set whites, for some reason, gratify me. Perfectly-cooked shirred eggs will (or so I read) accomplish that perfect marriage between “rare” and “done.”

The complex simplicity of egg dishes is nowhere more evident than in oeufs en meurette, a Burgundian dish that is said to have originated in east-central France. The dish is made with poached eggs accompanied by a meurette sauce/bourguignon sauce made with Burgundy red wine, bacon, onions, and shallots browned in butter; it is traditionally served with toasted garlic bread. I believe I need this dish if my time of this Earth is ever to be considered a success.

Many years ago, when I was taller and thinner and better-looking, I had Eggs Hussarde at home. I may have had the dish at Brennan’s in New Orleans, where it originated, but I’m not sure about that. I remember, though, the home version. It was an extremely complex dish that involved making Marchands de vin sauce and Hollandaise sauce. Ingredients include Canadian bacon, English muffins, sliced tomatoes, lemon juice, dry mustard, and on and on. It was well-worth the trouble, as I recall. Yet every time I have mentioned it since, the idea is cold-shouldered. I must make it myself. It’s simply a requirement. It must be done.

Baked eggs, too, have their appeal. As do huevos estrellados and, of course, migas and chilaquiles and simple scrambled eggs. Eggs are, without a doubt, the food of the gods. Zeus ate eggs, I believe, though I have no evidence that he did. As did Hera. Neptune did, as well, though he preferred his eggs poached in sea water. Hmm. That might be an interesting deviation from an otherwise rather mundane (but heartbreakingly delicious) dish.

Enough about eggs. I must ready myself for a trip to church, where I will meet other church men in the parking lot, much space between us, to discuss things other than cooking, I suspect.

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