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I idly flipped through a few games and social sites looking for something to do before preparing for the Shabbat, and finally gave up. I am officially bored now, and that is why I opened my word processor, hoping for inspiration. The old saw goes; sit at your computer and stare at a blank screen until drops of blood appear on your forehead. Or something like that.
And wouldn’t you know it. There she was sitting on my desk lamp. She was beat up badly. Her hosiery sagged on her legs, her tweed skirt had tufts of threads sticking out of it, and her pink Rayon® blouse had wine stains over her ample bosoms. She reeked of cheap boxed wine. Or is cheap boxed wine redundant? Anyway, you know the look. The barfly in the alleyway look.
“Geesh, babe, you look like hell!” I said.
“Why if it isn’t old master dresser himself! What, you think you look spiffy in those striped pajama bottoms? I guess 4:30 in the afternoon is a bit early for you to get dressed, isn’t it?” she mocked.
I waved off the reeking comeback and told her, “Go clean up. We need to talk.”
She looked at me with mock surprise, but disappeared with a silent ‘poof!’ … if you can poof silently, then reappeared moments later with a fresh blouse, a second hand but clean brown tweed pencil skirt that was too short for her age, and the hosiery had been pulled up. But not high enough. Her chubby white thighs squeezed out of the stocking tops like mushrooms, and I averted my eyes until she composed herself primly on the monitor before pulling the hems of her skirt down.
“So, you finally wanna talk after all these months of the silent treatment!”
“Yeah. I wanna talk. And it wasn’t the silent treatment. I just didn’t want to write.” I answered.
“You never want to write. How do you expect to be a writer if you don’t write?”
“Yeah, yeah. Writers write. Writer wannabes just want to be a writer. Got anymore old saws to get off your chest?” I snapped.
Smirking with the obvious point, she asked, “So, why did you not want to write?”
“Writing was boring me. I got sick of essays, and face it, I am too lazy to write a novel.”
“What have you been reading? The No-Sweat School of Writing?”
“I haven’t been reading much of anything. Even blogs. Even Tweets are too complex for me right now.”
“Oh crap. Not another change in life episode coming up now. Spare me the change, OK?” she said sympathetically.
“Yeah. I think that is it. I’ve lost my audience. Readers don’t want essays anymore. They want it hard and fast, in 140 characters. They care little for nuance, and memes rule the day. They want pictures to go with their text.”
“Why not just write stuff for yourself?”
“Why write for myself? I already know what I am going to say. Why put it down? No. I really do need to write for somebody who’ll read it.”
“As I recall, one of your friends invited you to write some erotica, and even wrote out a piece to entice you out of your comfortable little bubble. What happened with that?”
“That one scared me. Not her writing, it was pretty good. But my response. I know I could write stuff that would curl her toes, but I am not so sure that I want people to know the depths of my perversions. Image is everything, you know.”
“Like red striped pajama bottoms in the late afternoon?” she said sarcastically.
“My online image. I am too beat up for real life, now. I exist solely online.” I said philosophically.
“That’s good, Socrates. When was the last time a comb when through your hair?”
“Let’s get back to my writing.”
“Your lack of writing, as I recall.”
“Whatever. I do see a huge deterioration in my sentence structure, and that troubles me.”
“What about going back to your morning coffee posts?” she offered helpfully.
“They grew stale. I mean, how many ways can you describe the view out your window, your reaction to the news, the warmth, taste and texture of coffee and other minutia? I ran out of descriptors. It was time to move on. I wrote for a computer sim group for a while, but my bombastic style and disdain for the forum potentates ended that pretty quickly. I am reduced to fishing for comment likes on news sites.”
“Oh, how the mighty have fallen” she said in a stentorian voice.
“Sush. I am being serious. I need more.”
“Then get a new pseudonym and write anonymously again.”
“I am really thinking of that. Much of what I write is hemmed in by some of my audience’s sensibilities. I care enough about them that I don’t want to be offensive, but truth is found in the bitter edges. I am weary of the slogans of my politics and religion. I don’t want to be nice.”
“I don’t see where nice would be your problem” she mocked
“Oh put a sock in it!”
“Ha! Tough guy! Loves the edges, but falls apart with a little challenge from an illusion!”
I am going to write a eulogy for her someday …
… I stood in line that early evening at the Rialto Theater in Alamosa, a small town hidden near the headwaters of the Rio Grande River in Colorado, waiting to give the girl in the ticket booth my quarter for Peter Pan, Disney’s animated classic. I didn’t know that I was about to meet the love of my life at that showing. The first love is always the sweetest, though it is usually unrequited. Especially when you are ten years old.
The Rialto was a study in movie theater art. Fake balconies projected from the walls, and family booths seating four people were off the side aisles. High school seniors ruled the balcony, and drove off the younger kids should they have the temerity to try and invade their territory. And a big two keyboard Wurlitzer pipe organ console sat squarely down the center aisle.
Joe Brite, the theater manager, played medleys from the organ prior to the film. The organ was installed before talking films debuted, and Joe continued the tradition of playing as the audience arrived and found their seats after the obligatory stop at the concession stand. Theaters back then hadn’t yet discovered the confiscatory pricing that they used in later years to squeeze out that last bit of change in your pocket. I think popcorn was a dime, bringing you almost to bankruptcy. Few of us had more than 50 cents a week allowance.
In time, the lights dimmed, Joe stopped playing and turned off the lights of the organ, and the dancing popcorn and soda cups did their thing, then a couple of previews, a cartoon, and at last, the movie.
I don’t recall being all that interested in Pan and Wendy, but there was this glowing pixie that followed Pan everywhere, leaving glittering pixie dust. I was just beginning to notice that girls hips and chests were swelling, and was a bit intrigued with it, though I don’t think I was yet aware of what was all involved with that interest. But there she was. Swollen hips that wouldn’t go through a keyhole, and a blossoming bosom. Not to mention a lot of leg. I read much later in life that people were pretty upset with Disney for sexing Tinkerbell up, but I was happy with her. I didn’t catch it when I was ten, but in watching the film just before composing this, I saw a lot of very adult actions on her part. In this particular clip where she walks across Wendy’s mirror, the camera cuts just short of seeing up her green skirt, and she quickly approves of the view then moves on before the audience gets a look. Fortunately, all of that went over our heads.
But Pan really got my gorge up. That asshole treated her like crap, banishing her for simply trying to kill Wendy, whom she was very jealous of. I thought she should have just left Pan to his own devices. I would have been much better for her. I really was enamored with her, but alas, it was to remain unrequited. Through much of my life, though, I have sought out women with her features.
But time moves one on, and old loves become old loves that sometimes return ghostlike in the evenings as they one by one arise and dissipate. I mourn the missed opportunities. And I write, and as I write, parts of my old loves flame again, albeit secretly. If I am careful in my craft, you will hardly notice as I dance my romances past you.
Yeah. Pathetic when your love is a cartoon … but I have seen some of your real life loves, so don’t be to critical.
My first meal in a box is Meatballs and Tomato sauce with Asparagus and Creamy Rice
It seemed straight forward for an all thumbs cook. What could go wrong? As I said in my earlier piece, I was a bit concerned with the portions, but in this first meal, the plates were about as filled as most of our meals. Here is a webshot of the menu.
I started off half an hour earlier than the preparation time by washing the produce, then cutting the asparagus into 1” pieces after trimming off the woody ends. Then I fried the pieces in olive oil. I have never prepared asparagus that way. In my family, we ‘bile’ everything until it is limp. But I fried ‘em gently ‘till they were tender, and dumped them into a bowl to wait.
Next, I learned to pit the olives by smashing them and pulling out the pits. A little video was included to show me how to smash garlic to remove the skins. Geesh! All the years of peeling garlic when all I had to do was smack them hard with the flat of a knife and toss the skins. Who knew. But two cloves looked a bit skimpy, so I added one more just to make sure I had enough.
Then I squished the free-range egg into the hamburger along with panko, (bread crumbs) like you make meat loaf, and rolled them into eight balls. I think I should have taken the time to make ten balls, but eight worked out better mathematically, and put them into the same skillet I used for the asparagus, and began frying the meat balls.
Brown rice went into a saucepan with a couple of cups of water and a big pinch of salt. When the rice began to boil, I turned the heat down to simmer, put a lid on it, set the timer for 30 minutes, then went back and turned the meat balls over with a pair of tongs before dumping in a small can of tomato paste and half the garlic, and let that simmer for a bit.
When the timer went off, I checked the rice … I over cooked it a tad, but it wasn’t bad. In went a couple of tablespoons of white cheese. It was about the consistency of yogurt. I suppose cream cheese thinned with half and half would substitute, but what the hey! It came in the package. That was followed by the smashed olives, the fried asparagus, and the juice of one lime. I think if I ever do rice like this again, I’ll go with capers and skip the lime, but I faithfully followed the directions.
It all came together half an hour before dinnertime. I should have heeded the times in the stiff sheet with the recipe on it. My concerns about portions vanished. It looked good on the plate, and tasted pretty darn good. I was pleasantly surprised.
Value wise, it is expensive for a home cooked meal. Without the discount, it would have been around $10 a plate. With the discount, it came to about $6 a plate. The only people I can see going this route would be those who are very busy, but want to prepare a meal at home without a huge amount of menu planning. And I really hate meal planning, so I suspect that I will be doing this every two or three weeks.
I can’t see real foodies who live in their kitchens buying into this, however. As good as the meal was, it wasn’t gourmet.
I still have two more meals, and will chronicle them as I prepare them.
Fort Logan National Cemetery
My parents are here, my father’s name and rank on one side of the headstone, and my mother’s name on the reverse. 2005 was my last visit there, and I don’t suppose that I will visit the site again now that I have moved so very far away.
Like most, I miss my parents, and that sense of loss comes at very odd times. Usually when my soul is quiet and my mind at rest. I am now steeled with the loss, and the last time I was there, the tears had dried, with only a lonely hole in my psyche where they once stood.
What did cause me to weep was a small band of Viet Nam vets who walked through the headstones, unerringly going from one grave of a fallen comrade to another, all clad in tattered black vests with unit patches and the black flag of MIA’s affixed to them. They silently stood at each stone with heads bowed for what seemed to be an eternity, then moved on through the sea of white stones to the next grave.
I am not a Viet Nam vet. I am a Viet Nam *era* vet. A big difference. But I knew so many of them, and grew up with a few of them. A sizable number of them came home in metal caskets. A few more were missing. Those of them who did come home came to the catcalls of an ungrateful political faction that I have not forgiven to this very day.
I wept. Not the tears of grief and sorrow, however. But the tears of impotent rage …
I was still sitting in my PJ’s sipping coffee when FedEx dropped off the box with three unprepared dinners inside it. Boldly emblazoned on the side was “Everything tastes better when it is made from scratch”. Yeah, I got sucked in by great marketing once again. But the idea that I could prepare a fresh, nutritious meal and not have to devote a lot of time meal planning was an inviting one.
I waited at the door until the traffic cleared, then dashed out to retrieve the box, and dashed back in. Only one speeding car going by caught me in flagrante delecto, so that is a plus. Usually when I try that something goes wrong, like tripping over a dog as I try to scramble back in. But I am sure the neighbors already think I am crazy, so it hardly surprises them.
I carried my prize in triumphantly and sat it down on the table and invited Snooks to have a look. She was a bit underwhelmed, saying “you are going to get three meals out of that?”.
Yeah, there wasn’t much there for three meals. We eat pretty good sized portions at dinner.
“Well, the rice will swell up a little when it’s cooked.” I lamely offered.
“Does this mean you are cooking the next three dinners?” She asked, brightening.
“You don’t want to try one of these? Look at the pretty recipe cards!” I asked. She didn’t say anything, but I think the answer was no.
Anyway, I unpacked everything. There were little packages of cilantro, scallions, Asian mushrooms. A potato and a cucumber sat side by side. Two little pulp cartons each held an organic ranch egg. Each recipe had a ‘knick-knack’ package that I didn’t open. I think they contain salt, pepper and such.
Three frozen packages contained ground beef, chicken breasts, and cod fillets. Our main courses ..
I think I will do dinner tonight. It will be meatballs and tomato sauce with asparagus and creamy rice.
I can see it now. A romantic candle lit dinner with an Italian tenor singing in the background. Think Disney’s The Lady and the Tramp. Sans spaghetti.
I’ll let you know how it went.
W.R. “Peacock” Peacock.
Yelp said that he was open today so I load my three push mowers into Bucephalus, my ancient Dodge Grand Caravan. Yeah, I drive a mommy van. I didn’t winterize them properly and they will all need carburetor work, and one has a broken blade bolt will need to have the broken end extracted. The Yelp comments were mostly positive, with only one negative comment.
I find the address off the highway and down a steep gravel embankment. A mobile home and a shed full of broken mowers sit behind a padlocked chain link fence. Lawn mowers of various types and makes litter the yard. I pull up to the gate, and wait, hoping to see some activity.
Finally, the trailer house door opens, and a hairy giant emerges, walks to the gate and unlocks it.
“I wasn’t sure you were open” I said, trying to start a conversation.
“I wasn’t” he replied. “What’cha got?”
“Three mowers, one with a bolt broken off in the crank.”
He helped me get the mowers out of the back and push them into the yard, then beckoned inside to his hugely littered home.
“What’s your phone number?” he asked.
He fished around the papers on his desk, and pulled out an advertising circular, and wrote my phone number down in the margin.
“I need at least one of the mowers soon” I explained. “I need to get around the edges of the yard”.
“I hate mowing” he replied gruffly, and walked me back to the car. “Peacock is the name” he said as we shook hands.
I drove off a bit uneasy. Only one of the mowers could be considered an expensive one, and sometimes cheap mowers are easier to replace than fix. But I sure wasn’t feeling all that secure. But the Yelp comments were generally positive, with only one negative. Peacock replied to it, saying that if he didn’t buy such cheap *ssed lawnmowers, he wouldn’t need so many repairs.
You got to trust a mechanic that will speak his mind, and I wasn’t judging a beauty contest, just getting lawnmowers repaired. Still, I am a bit uneasy …
I let a bit more than a week go by before checking on the mowers. He answered my call with “Peacock here”.
“Hello. I left three mowers with you a bit over a week ago, and I was just checking on them.”
“They will be ready sometime this week.” he replied.
“OK … no hurry. Thank you.” I lamely surrendered.
I either found a great mechanic, or I am going to be out a lot of money …
I do not write well when my soul is not quiet, and I have had strings pulling at me in several directions lately. I really don’t write for myself. I always have someone or a group of someone’s in mind when I set out to put something down.
A lot of writers tell me that they only write for themselves, but I am not too inclined to believe them. Why pen something publicly in that case? File your little missives away in an encrypted password file and be done with it.
I write either to be understood, or to entertain. But a problem arises when I only want to be understood by some, or wish to entertain some, but not others. I only have one site left that a very select few know where it is and have the password to get into it. But I haven’t posted there in a very long time because the audience is so restricted.
Posting here gets more views, but then there are some reading this that I am unwilling to share certain topics with, so my style gets cramped. I end up in paralysis, unable to write for either faction. Yet I love each group.
I want to break the mold, sometimes, but that isn’t possible. So I continue to live two lives. And now I am considering a new online identity, one that can write risqué material, that can use foul language, that can plumb the limits of primal instincts, and do so in a wide forum.
In short, I want to go back to being a phony. Or maybe I am a phony who wants to get real. It doesn’t matter.
And I think I just solved my dilemma. Thank you for listening …