Mind Wandering and Thought Skipping

Almost every day, I play Wordle, Words with Friends, and the New York Times‘ daily min-crossword. I have no interest, at the moment, in attempting to work the larger, more complex, much more difficult crosswords from the Times—that beast is intended for aficionados; people who are competitive in the extreme. I am not particularly competitive. I am perfectly satisfied to do as well as I can at any given time. For me, the games are entertainment, not opportunities to demonstrate my advanced skills with words. But, still, there are times when I allow slivers of competitiveness to dictate my approach to the games. I think I inherited my interest in words from my mother. Maybe inherited is not the right word; she taught me to appreciate language and to exercise my analytical and language skills with word games. My mother was a crossword fiend; whether she finished a particularly difficult puzzle or not, she attacked it with a passion. She sometimes used a pen, I think, but that memory is a bit fuzzy. Sometimes, I wonder why she spent her relatively limited free time (she was an English teacher who had tests and essays to grade almost every evening) entertaining herself with language challenges, which were so closely aligned with her profession. I suppose I’ll never know.


Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness.

~ Desmond Tutu ~


What, I wonder, is the point of giving names to children based on gender? Why not name baby boys Linda and baby girls Barney? I read a bit about the topic this morning, but the reasons given do not get to the heart of the matter. While I understand why (I think) we differentiate males and females, but is the assignment of “masculine” or “feminine” a necessary element of that differentiation? As I think about the matter, I can imagine that confusion might arise if there were no gender-based naming conventions. Many examples of names gender-neutral names exist; the confusion that accompanies them is not overwhelming…just curious.


This morning, while wandering the pages of the New York Times, after I performed abysmally playing Wordle, I stumbled across a recipe for an Indian dish called Bagara Baingan. I immediately recognized it as an eggplant dish (baingan is an anglicized version of the Hindi word for eggplant…बैंगन…which I learned long ago during a phase when I was almost fanatical about making and eating Indian food, which I can imagine happening again). At any rate, the author of the recipe for Bagara Baingan described it as a fiery Hyderabadi dish, which immediately caught my attention. The author says the only chopping required involved an onion. Though the ingredient list is long, the actual cooking time is only about 40 minutes. Now, whether my desire to eat Bangara Baingan will parallel an interest in—or willingness to—actually make it remains to be seen. I suspect I might be able to find it on the menu at one of Little Rock’s several Indian restaurants. The question is whether I would rather drive to Little Rock to order it off the menu or whether I would rather slog through grocery stores (quite possibly involving a trip to an Indian grocery in Little Rock to find all the ingredients) and plant myself in the kitchen. I do love to cook (well, I did…), but my passion for spending time in the kitchen has diminished considerably since my wife died. She and I cooked quite a bit together and I sometimes did it all myself so she could kick back and be served a no-effort Indian or Pakistani or Mexican or Chinese or Korean or…on and on…meal. My patience for cooking and my interest in “showing off” my culinary skills have both declined precipitously. I suspect my skills (never truly impressive…not by a long shot) have degraded dramatically over time. The old bones and muscles of mine seem more inclined to be pampered than to pamper; aside from the efforts to go to restaurants, ordering from a menu is the kind of pampering I rather enjoy.


Two surprises yesterday. First, I got a call from a home health nurse, who wanted to come visit (which she did…spending all of 15 minutes verifying my vitals, etc.). Second, my oncologist’s office called, telling me I need to return for another 2-hour infusion of magnesium on Friday. Looking ahead, next week I will have at least 2 visits to the cancer clinic; the second chemo treatment that Thursday and the second follow-up injection the day after to protect me from the ravages of the second chemo treatment. If things go as they did the first time around, I will feel quite good (like…VERY good, thanks to the steroids they give in connection with the chemo) the two days following chemo; subsequently will experience intense fatigue/exhaustion for 7 to 10 days. I have an brain MRI scheduled for February 13, as well. Busy, busy, busy. My hospital follow-up with my Primary Care Physician yesterday morning was routine, but like every time I visit with him, I enjoy having an actual conversation with him. He is interesting and very willing to spend considerably more time with me than other doctors have in the past. He’s the kind of guy with whom I think I could enjoy socializing, provided we steer clear of politics and related topics. But we can talk politics in a calm, reasonable way; we have done that. Nice guy.


Damn! It’s 7 o’clock! Five hours since I awoke, a touch under three hours since I got out of bed. I think I’ll clean up the kitchen and prepare something simple but tasty for breakfast. And here I go.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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