Archive for November, 2011

picking fights on facebook

November 30, 2011 3 comments

Its kind of funny looking at things from multiple perspectives. I get to joust with Christians and their critics. There’s obviously some stuff that needs challenging but there is equally or more things that inspire greatness. Jesus really comes through as a character and has some profoundly good things to say that are foundational to what motivates me to do good. I keep trying to listen and look for common ground but be provocative and thought provoking.

Christianity turned me on to the words of Jesus and did a lot of other good for me. I saw people who were profoundly touched by the spiritual, a willingness to sacrifice, and powerful shared spiritual experiences. At least a couple of the ten most profound things I’ve experienced. But there’s also a lot of blood on the hands of that religion as a whole. 25% of the population of Europe was killed in its Christianization and I suspect other continents fared even poorer.

I try to take ownership of the fact that I share membership in many privileged groups. Being an American, white, male, not unChristian (don’t consider myself a Christian though I am a follower of Christ), straight, and by current status middle class I kind of hit them all. But what do you do? Very little of it was my choice and I try to be mindful, correct the imbalance, and make my piece of the universe a little bit better. In that spirit I wrote this piece opening with a bible quote and also lifting three words from Bill Clinton’s 2nd inaugural poet I forget his name. I’ll underline them so you’ll know they’re not mine. Its such a great phrase I couldn’t resist using it. This piece feels unfinished so someday I’ll break through and write a bunch more on it. I’ve had some false starts but nothing i’ve liked as much as the opening:

As an edit I am adding another stanza. It feels more done. I plan on using it in a new chap book which is why I’m trolling around old posts. I don’t fight with people on the internet anymore. I gave that up for local politics. I might do a little of both in the future.

The sins of the fathers pass on to the sons

Unto seven generations

And not just privilege and freedom

Come from being born an oppressor’s son.

Now I don’t blame the man who gave me my name

He only did what he did to survive

But the Karmic web of the disenfranchised dead

Tells me to pay for his crimes

I rejoice in the struggle

In battles not yet won

I believe in the redemption of the father

Through the redemption of the son

I believe in the spirit of wholeness

That calls us all to one

Categories: childhood, poetry, religeon

holiday weekend

November 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Its been a nice four days off work, like three Saturdays in a row and you still get Sunday. I got some gardening done, about 100 square feet in the raised bed John built. After he tested the soil and it came out with nothing I added 6 inches of horse manure, let that moulder for a while and turned it in good and planted it.

A couple of garlics I must have missed when I harvested had a bunch of little ones and I separated them and planted them first, then the garlic I had from the market, then the garlic Sarah gave me (German Porcelain). Then I got garlic from Trevor who had gotten it from “the Amish looking dude”. Also, right after the little garlic plants I planted a couple of cloves I grew. I picked up 2 kinds from the Root Cellar, the first was an Afghan garlic and then half a head of their generic local garlic. I planted them close because I like to maximize my space.

I also started turning over the soil in cold frame. I have some lettuce and spinach seed. I looked at Lowes when I bought furnace filters but they didn’t have any seed. A whole aisle of poison but not a seed for the Fall garden. I did get tulip bulbs dirt cheap and its only December. I’ve gotten them to work planting them in January.

I worked six of them by the end of the strawberry patch and weeded some. I had friends over and went out. I cooked food and ate food, cleaned, and kept the momentum going. Glad I have to go to work tomorrow before I forget how and think I live just to do what I feel like. I’ve been blessed to have more time doing that then most. I wrote this poem back in the day when I was living like that sort of and remembering when I was doing that for real. Dan Chisolm had a guitar accompaniment that was pretty cool and I remember singing it at our cabins up in Canada for Mike and Phoebe’s wedding when I was wooing Amee. My only real bad boy song. I have another one that I never did anything with but they were both written along with a third piece with several bad boy stories strung together but it was too busy, so I split it up. Any way here it is:

She said her boyfriend was out of town

And would I like to fool around?

She said her boyfriend was out of town

So you can probably guess where I was found.

And oh her kisses they were sweet

And the ecstasy couldn’t be beat

Smoking kief and fresh orange juice

I was feeling high, I was feeling loose.

And I’ve been lucky all my life

And sometimes wrong turns out all right,

It gets so lonely after sunset

I’ll steal some love to get through the night.

And oh her kisses they were sweet

And the ecstasy couldn’t be beat

Smoking kief and fresh orange juice

I was feeling high, I was feeling loose.

Categories: gardening, poetry

Standard Bronze Wins the Gold

November 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I can’t write anything about Thanksgiving without beginning with gratitude. Working in the field of addiction treatment I see first hand the power of that emotion, those thoughts and actions, allowing acceptance of present day realities as a platform for a better life. I saw a meme going around happiness doesn’t make you grateful, gratitude makes you happy. There’s a lot of truth there.

Nonetheless Thanksgiving takes it on the chin as a celebration of colonial imperialism and a day devoted to gluttony and excess. I was chatting with an individual of Native American extraction who asked about my holiday plans and after sharing them I asked after his. He said he wasn’t making a big of it because it didn’t have positive associations for him as the whole thing turned out. I couldn’t do anything but apologize. Another friend rails against Thanksgiving like its an abhorrent thing and his angst ridden pseudo-suffering seems more like an excuse to judge. I could do nothing but ignore it.

For me, a fan of both family and community and cooking good food, its a day to be celebrated without limits. I am a fan of what I call “the good life”, living well but in harmony. I wanted to make a feast but without promoting things that I find abhorrent. And with the able assistance of my housemate Kevin we cooked the shit out of this Thanksgiving with local sustainably raised stuff and put out a feast we could be proud of.

You may recall the cooking began last week when I made chicken stock out of the bits and pieces of my roasting chicken I had made the open up room in the freezer. I also got my shopping done but only because Kevin made a couple of trips to the store so I could add a few things.

Tuesday I picked up my bird. I had ordered an heirloom turkey at the Root Cellar a couple weeks back and learned they would do first come first serve at 10:00 but I had already booked a 2 hour 9:30. I wanted a big one under the mistaken notion that females are bigger and you get more white meat. Actually when I looked up the particular on the Standard Bronze I ended up with I learned males are bigger which makes a lot of sense when I think of it.

Regardless, my friend Gretchen had agreed to pick it up for me at 10:00 and I drove to her place on my lunch hour. Helpfully, Fresh Air was replaying a segment from 1987, I think, with a food chemist on how to roast a turkey. She said brine it overnight with a cup of salt, 2 cups for giant turkeys and more if you use Kosher salt. This is of course for fresh birds only. Corporate birds are pre-brined of course amongst other things in their little plastic shells.

The show had just gone on to touch on the trickiness of getting the thighs & legs up to 155 degrees without overcooking the breast when I got to Gretchens. I considered hearing her out but I was on my lunch hour and still had hopes of getting lunch. Apparently Terri Gross is pretty attached to this segment so maybe I’ll catch it next year but I made a note of the phenomenon and got my bird.

I had to give Gretchen more money because it was a mammoth thing at 21 #s and at $7.50 a pound it was a chunk of change. A considerable chunk of change. But for good reason. Turkey farming is tricky being willful birds prone to total die offs for more then a couple reasons. Bobtail Whites, the 99.9% turkey of choice is sedate and unnaturally big breasted to the point of not being able to bread without a turkey baster anymore. They can fly and get into more mischief and you factor in inputs and risk and no externalized costs (corporate turkeys pollute the water, eat commercial corn with all of its issues, and are charnal houses of horror that diminish the souls of everyone who devours them) and they are appropriately priced.

To live in a world of small family farms we have to pay more. Right now Americans only spend 7% or so of their income on food. Cheap food is expensive to the planet, the farmer, and our communities. Europe spends around 10% and I think in the Philippines they pay 40%, some countries are higher. Regardless of all that it was cool enough to leave the turkey in the car until after work when I threw it in the fridge.

Wednesday morning I pulled the Rouge Vif D’Etampes Pumpkin(AKA Cinderella pumpkin)  off the front porch, washed it good, cut it in half, scooped out the guts and baked on a cookie sheet with some water and pumpkin spices (just to scent the house). I roasted the seeds (greased cookie sheet with olive oil, sprinkle with Bob’s Steak Seasoning [corporate seasoned sugar/salt Dad bought]) which were not numerous but big and juicy and they came out good.

I cooked the pumpkin until it was soft, could’ve been softer, peeled and mashed and beat. I had promised Kevin I would blend it when I offered to prep the pumpkin vs using the canned variety but I was already overwhelmed by the pumpkin mess I had so far for a before work morning, even on my late day. {I just made a second pot of coffee for this cold and rainy Saturday morning, its a medium roast South Seas coffee I roasted last weekend, oh so delicious, and the 2nd press pot is such a luxury.}

Wednesday night I brined the turkey. I did it in the bag and added a cup of salt (1/2 canning salt, all I had), water and all the ice in the freezer (and they laughed when I threw the rest of the bag in the freezer at my last Summer party). After thinking about it and the pasture raised turkey being a little tough last year I added another 3/4 cup iodized salt (all that I had). The radio lady said it could be crusted on, you just got to rinse it good.

I put the bag in a bucket and the bucket in the basement/garage (I am blessed with a split level new readers). Then I realized I didn’t really know how to cook a turkey. Up until this year my method was to say “Hey Mom” or later “Hey Dad, how do you cook a turkey again?” This is why grief is intrinsically a year long commitment. You never really know what someone means to you until they’re not there and you have to experience the loss.

With my mom it was pickles. Thinking of the seasons it must have been 6 or 7 months after she died, I know I wasn’t thinking of it every day anymore, when Amee, my wife at the time, was talking to her mom about her making pickles. It hit me like a thunderclap, I would never again eat my mom’s pickles and I just started crying.

But thank God now orphans have the internet and Whole Paycheck, though lacking any other parental quality reminded me of the particulars of roasting a turkey. I see why they hold the 1 spot on Google as it was easy to find, well organized and comprehensive. They recommended less salt in the brine but I was undaunted because you don’t make a lot of money selling salt but you do selling “healthier” food. (You always have to factor in the economic angle of who is providing your information). They did mention you are supposed to pull out the squishy things which I had forgotten to do and pulled them and the sizable neck out of Tom’s yahoo.

I think we do our birds at 350 1/4 hour per pound and Whole Paycheck said 325-375 so I felt good about that. On the breast up or down debate they split the difference with an hour of down and flip it so you get the best of both worlds, juicier breast and crisped up skin. Cover it with foil but uncover for an hour, which Kevin suggested half the time covered, half uncovered, under the theory you can always cover it back up if it gets done to quick as I had been bouncing my research off him as he wrapped up his first day of solid cooking.

Thursday I got going on the turkey around 7:30. I pulled it out of the ice water and rinsed it good and gave it an hour to get rid of the chill before going into the oven which both Kevin and Whole Paycheck recommended. It took me near that amount of time to deal with it. I carefully went over the pretty thick skin and pulled out feather pieces. Bronzes are notorious for this I later read and this turkey lived up to it. Knowing it was intrinsic to the breed made me feel better. After laying out a ton of money I was kind of expecting perfection.

I also rubbed the bird with olive oil and stuffed with a quartered orange (Kevin’s idea) that had been hanging in the fridge for a while, left over fresh herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme) Kevin had bought for the dressing with some marjoram and oregano from the garden. I also shoved in a few pieces of celery, heavy on the leafy part and a few whole cloves of garlic.

I added a pint of seasoned chicken stock and 1/2 bottle of an Italian white wine. I didn’t pre-heat the oven on consideration of the letting the turkey get to room temp made me think a gradual rise in temp was better. I folded in my turkey and wrapped in foil on the bottom rack because that’s the only way it would fit. Got her going at 8:30 as planned.

I made stock out of the neck, organs & folds of skin from the neck end and the ass end and I threw in the ass as well. I added marjoram and oregano and mace and set that to simmer for 4 hours.

Kevin helped me flip the bird and yest that pun was used which was a little tricky but wooden spoons up both ends did the job. 1/2 hour later and a 1/2 hour later I basted again. At its weight I was anticipating a 5 1/4 hour cook time with checking it a 1/2 hour early recommended by Whole Paycheck I pulled the foil off. Before then Kevin had made wing tip booties to keep them from getting over done.

The breast got nice and bronzed early so we put a piece of foil over that. We checked the temp in the crook of the thigh and we got 155 at 12:30 and pulled it out to rest until carving.

The dark meat was strong tasting, almost gamy and was hard to carve. The white meat was incredibly delicious. Juicy and intensely flavorful, I couldn’t have been more pleased. There was a layer of subcutaneous fat and the thin was thick so it wasn’t particularly edible but you shouldn’t be eating that stuff anyway. There was some integument I’ve been cutting out and tossing to Fido as well but I suspect that’s the cost of doing business with having birds that walk around and lead a life.

Reviews were very positive, it was a fine looking bird and people liked it. It was part of an excellent meal with a great assemblage of interesting people and was a pretty nice Thanksgiving. In addition to the turkey I also did mashed potatoes; red new potatoes with the skins on mashed with butter, whole milk and sour cream and sprinkled with minced wild onions (the fall crop is in, if you get them early they are like a more pungent chive, much better in my opinion).

Kevin did an array of from the basics with foody flair and put over 16 hours in the kitchen in two days. The guests brought some wonderful items as well leading to a colorful array of delectable morsels. Kevin paired the meal with a Stone Hill (out of Hermann MO) Norton that was excellent, dry and flavorful. We probably were easily pushing 90% local for the spread and it tasted like it.

I would like to tell you about the party and I may but I’ve been writing this post for days and my coffees getting drunk and I am wanting to get about my day three of a a four day weekend. A trip to the store, some house cleaning while I have momentum and its getting to be Christmas tree time, perhaps tomorrow.

Punch and Judy

November 21, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve already titled this post, if I wait to see what its about sometimes I forget to title it, but its a decision not to write much of an update. I’ve been posting a lot so not much to touch on. I had a nicely paced workday which was good because in retrospect I pushed through the weekend pretty hard. Today I have been doing stuff all day which then if I still feel a little bad about not doing something it means a question of priorities because there’s not a slack in my day to add on.

Work is largely a no brainer, it pays the bills and gives me an opportunity to be a part of something that’s trying to help. After work its a brief with visit with Fido, essential and I wish I had more time for that, then I went to the Odd Fellows meeting. Parker fried fish and there was homemade corn bread and cake and it was fun helping out and eating and getting to know more people. Everybody’s pretty friendly and though I’m just getting into it I am ultimately intrigued by its history and mission.

I am deeply concerned about the future efficacy of government and other large institutions. I am thinking that some of the ones that predate an effective public social service system are important and need to be rediscovered by people who give a damn and prepped to pick back up the load. We can’t afford to keep generating cohorts of children that are casually nurtured and poorly educated and unleashed on a world without jobs or legitimate opportunity. Not unless we want Trouble.Health care is regressing in practical efficacy for most of us and the ranks of the poor grow and become more desperate. At least we can still bury the  dead.

So I’m getting involved with the Odd Fellows. What I’m not doing is standing with Occupy Como to make sure they get to keep their tents up and no one is walking around spraying a big can of Pepper Spray, or should I say CS Gas with some Pepper in it. Pepper Spray makes it sound organic and not a dangerous chemical that can kill people. Right now I am more into building for the future then opposing the present, though I think both are necessary and good.

So yesterday I mentioned I dreamed this song/poem. Definitely the first line was written asleep and I got up and wrote it down verbatim in minutes so maybe the whole thing so I don’t know how much credit to take. Its not that different then the stuff I write awake so maybe I do a good job of getting my conscious mind out of the way and let it flow.

If you don’t know Punch and Judy shows go back to at least the Middle Ages and I think it was a Roman thing. Punch has a stick and hits Judy, they’re puppets, did I mention they’re puppets. This piece updates it for the modern age:

Punch and Judy went to a show

I think it was about five nights ago

Punch brought his stick he was feeling cocky

The retro theater was playing Rocky

There was nothing Punch liked more then fisticuffs

A big tough guy who liked to play rough

Punch thought the only thing that was a pain

Was that Rocky never took a stick to Adrian

The clerk asked how many and Punch said “Two please”

They went in the wrong door into Thelma and Louise

Punch couldn’t believe it he was aghast

He wanted to get out of there something fast

But Judy wouldn’t leave she wanted to see the show

Punch hit her with his stick but the usher said: “no”

He through Punch out right into the street

“When Judy gets home, she’s gonna get beat”.

But Judy’s not gonna take it anymore

She bought herself a forty-four

She can’t match Punch’s brawn but she has friends who can

By the name of Mr Smith and Mr Wesson.

Punch took his stick and hit her in the head

Judy filled his puppet body up with lead

Punch dropped his stick he was dead as a nail

There’s not a jury around that would send her to jail

She’s been taking Punch’s beatings since the Middle Ages

Its time that old script got a few new pages

Violence isn’t the answer to domestic abuse

But its appropriate for puppets who were meant to amuse

Because Judy’s not going to take it anymore

She bought herself a forty-four

She can’t match Punch’s brawn but she has friends who can

By the name of Mr Smith and Mr Wesson.

they’re dropping napalm in the streets

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

No not really, I’m just watching last week’s Walking Dead. Its been a productive day and it is nice to sit back and relax with a little television. I got the last of my shit shoveled and Dad’s truck cleared out, washed out, and parked in the garage. Only took me 3 weeks longer then I had anticipated but at least its done. Next step is to call a lawyer and make an appt. to see if I can get to keep it.

After that I turned to cooking. I made chicken paprikash and an Afghan pumpkin dish. The chicken was a big old roaster from the 4-H girl. I had cut it up and brined it yesterday so I rinsed off the pieces and laid them over a couple of big onions, three green peppers, 2 mildly hot red peppers and close to a pound of carrot pieces. I also added maybe a cup of tomatoes that ripened on the counter. I scalded their skins off and cut them up, a head of garlic as well, cooked in a quart of stock (a pint would have been plenty the broth was waterier then it could have been.

I baked that at 350 till it was done, another hour wouldn’t of hurt it any its good falling off the bone. I also threw in some red potatoes in lieu of the egg noodles. When its done you take some of the broth and stir in sour cream and eat it all in a big pile.

The pumpkin I seeded and peeled and chopped into inch or so pieces. I fried a big pan of them in olive oil till they were browned good. I mixed a sauce with half a little can of tomato paste and an equal amount of water, another cup of water, one big clove of garlic pressed, 1/2 tsp fresh ground mixed pepper, 1/2 tsp fresh ginger ( i keep mine in the freezer, works out well), 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, 1/4 cup agave nectar, & 1/2 tbsp of salt. Mixed that up and poured it over it and let it cook for 1/2 hour. you serve on a smear of unsweetened yogurt and put a dollop on top.

Amy and Michael came over and brought Olive which was good for Fido. After Kevin moves out I’m going to start having her over for sleepovers and I get her for 12 days over New Years. He’ll like that and I can leave him with them guilt free when I drive John’s car to California. On that I think I am going take Amtrack back. I’d like to spend the extra couple of days with John but man flying sucks.

That was pretty much the day and I guess I have the time to put up another poem. This one I wrote upon waking up from a dream with the first line in my head and the whole thing flowed in the time it took to write it down. Oops, that’s Harry pulling up to watch the show so next time.

Categories: cooking, dogs, family

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Watching True Lies and realizing I don’t really like any of the characters and I am having a lot of tro0uble caring what happens to them. It is not uninteresting though, zany characters in preposterous situations, like an Elmore Leonard story. Its scratched, second one in a row Netflix. I might join the masses and cancel. I think I’m going to dump cable as well. Go to broadcast TV, I think its been a week since I’ve had it on. I’m going to wait for a week or two, when I will have a guest(s).

“What’d we learn Palmer?” “I don’t know”. that about sums it up. After rating 500 movies Netflix doesn’t have a clue what I really like. I’m going to have to start doing a little research before I get movies. Watching some True Grit now, the old one still has charm, liked the new one a fair bit as well.

Today got rolling pretty early and cleaned house in further preparation for the formal giving of thanks. The fridge was way over do and Kevin pitched in on the bathrooms so the place is now pretty tidy, although there is always still more to do. Kevin and I hit the market and i had a list and bought mass quantities. [“I would not put a thief in my mouth to steal my brains”, when asked if she wanted whiskey, nice line.]

At the market I stopped by the Legacy Beef place. Figuring the market before Thanksgiving everyone is having a good day but him. We talked cooking cube steaks and he had me tell his wife how i made my swiss steak. They had the buy one get 2nd half off so I got that and decided to stock up on ground round since Brenda was coming and it was slow day for him so he sold me hotdogs at $6.25 for 2 pounds and threw in a couple beef sticks. All in all pretty sweet, might start buying in quantity less often if its going to save me money.

I also told them I’d stuck up for them with someone saying Veganism was the solution to the envioronmental problems. I told them I would put the carbon footprint of my local pasture raised beef against processed vegan food from California. There isn’t a solution, there are lots of solutions. They liked that which started a general conversation of OWS and one was with the “they don’t have a message or specific demands”. I said if the experts can’t fix it we can’t expect a bunch of hippies but economic justice was definitely the theme. How about putting some people in jail, fixing the regulations that allowed it to happen, getting rich people to pay some taxes.

I got more new red potatoes, onions, butternut squash, brats, eggs. The egg boy had his give aways, this year a pen with a pull out two year calendar. I gave him a tip when I went to the credit union I had gotten some crisp new 2 dollar bills and some dollar coins so i gave him a bill and one for his brother. God its been 5 years I’ve been buying their eggs, watching them grow up.

Had Guy and Gretchen over for coffee. Guy is my realtor so he was curious to see what I’d done with the house. Didn’t get after me for not doing anything with my floors yet. Liked the window I had put in, thanks again Eric, and I gave him credit for the wooden picket fence as Dad was trying to talk me into going with the vinyl fake stuff.

I showed them the coffee roasting set up and roasted a batch and made a pot of the medium roast Guat which was better then the light, a pretty good coffee. Tomorrow I’ll try the Honduran, I am hoping it gets better as well, none of them were great as a light roast in this batch. Gretchen is also interested in the Odd Fellows and agreed to pick up my turkey for me on Tuesday.

After a little rest I couldn’t really gear up and decided I would do a nap. I have a fairly productive day planned for Sunday with a project and an elaborate dinner. I cut up my roasting chicken, its huge. I saved the neck and back and innards and such and am going to make stock to cook the turkey in and maybe Kevin needs some for the dressing.

I am brining the chicken now in salt, sugar and apple cider vinegar and water. Tomorrow I will paprikash it up plus i think i need paprika so i will try to get my Thanksgiving grocery shopping in as well as finally complete the horse manure project. There’s some cleaning tasks I wouldn’t mind doing but that’s already a pretty full day. Its a short week but a chock full one.

Maybe I’ll try to start winding down and get some sleep before I get back in it tomorrow.


Categories: cooking, environment, politics

all bad poetry is sincere

November 18, 2011 3 comments

Hello faithful reader. I am more and more choosing blogging over watching a movie, even though I just  read watching movies is good for you. Improves your social intelligence with increases in theory of mind skills. Most of the article, again from Scientific American Mind was on the value of fiction. Stories help us understand how people work in a way that conveying the same information in a report format for example doesn’t. TV doesn’t do it though. The stories are to rudimentary the characters too stock the author theorized.

It was a busy day at work and I fell a little further behind but I got out only 10 minutes late to walk Fido to the dog park before it got dark. It was fun hanging out, going every other day at pretty much the same time I am meeting up with the same people and Fido is getting to know some dogs. It has a cocktail party feel today and after wrapping up my 6 week course on self esteem today I acted like a friendly and outgoing person. I’m torn between bringing a lantern or just meeting up with these folks in the dark. Conversations in the dark are different as the day turned into night.

Fido got in some good play but I had to introduce myself to the other guy with a small dog and suggest we walk off so the dogs could play. It worked out. The things I do for that beast, who just wants more attention and dessicated liver the more I give him and I do stuff for him I wouldn’t do for myself. Like talk to a stranger to meet an emotional need.

Got me thinking about dogs so when I looked over my poetry links page I decided I would put up the second poem I wrote about my mom’s dog Tiger. My sister Brenda got him after Mom died and I moved in with her in the old homestead after I got separated so we were buddies again. I tried to write a silly song about him his whole life because I liked to sing to him when the just two of us were hanging out but never came up with anything. I wrote this the day he died.

He got cancer at 14 and since he was a dog we just kept him comfortable until he got pretty close. He didn’t seem to be in pain just got harder and harder to move. I had been carrying him outside to relieve himself and laying him on a thick blanket when he couldn’t. Brenda and I both kind of checked in on him and he seemed to appreciate hanging out in spite of his condition, until he didn’t. We both felt it and I took him to the pound to have him put down.

It was sad but I hadn’t really cried until I left him in the car and went and talked to the guy and he asked me if I had a leash and I said no he didn’t need one. He handed me a red one and told me to walk the dog in. I had sort of a tear hiccup, a mini burst and blubbered out “He can’t walk”, and the guy looked at me like I was a nut. I went and carried him in and laid him on a metal table and told him I loved him and I would bury him deep in the backyard he loved.

I smoked a cigarette and waited until it was over and carried him home in the blanket I had been told to bring. I carried him around in the back yard and cried and cried. I started to dig his whole and I was crying and singing this song and I stopped digging to write it furiously on the back of an envelope. I haven’t been able to find it but know the most sizable portion and hummed out a sufficient ending in the kitchen while my canned chili was microwaving.

Tiger died 2 or 3 days after the space shuttle blew up on re-entry. there were some kid’s science experiments you may recall. Both space shuttle catastrophes touched me deeply and I mean no disrespect. I was also cautioned in sharing this poem because of something my Creative Writing instructor at MCCC Dr Bruce Merkel said: “I don’t want to read any poetry about your dead dog, it was a big deal for you, but for the rest of us that stuff tends to be pretty banal”. Or words to that effect, nonetheless here it is:

The ants and the rats and the astronauts

Were strewn across the sky,

And many many tears were shed

For who knows where their bodies lay?

About the same day Tiger passed away

I buried him in the backyard,

I shed tears for him that I didn’t give them

When death hits home it hits hard.

He was more then a pet

He was a friend to me,

He was a comfort to my mom.

And he howled that day

When the hearse road away,

And he was never really the same.

He lost a little spark and he was slow to bark

But when you called his name,  he came.

Categories: dogs, family, feelings, poetry

The Salamander Dance

November 17, 2011 Leave a comment

Fido is restless wanting to go in and out. He’s been by himself most of the day. He is not a fan of being home all day when I work, even though I come home for lunch but he deals. Tonight I went out immediately after work just stopping by to let him out and pick up the car. I had hoped to leave work early because my lunch got mangled but the day was too difficult to disengage from gracefully except a mere 5 minutes early.

I was rushing because I decided to squeeze a little Occupy Como before my beer and a movie I had planned. Elise was in town and saw her there but I didn’t see the “You Are Awesome” sign which is my favorite. I settled with “There’s Nothing Wrong With You” after passing over a lot of other signs. Even the “We Are the 99%” didn’t resonate today. I am part of the 100%.

I didn’t stay long and headed over to RagTag and had a Cuban and a Schlafley APA, which were both familiar favorites that performed as expected. I also picked up a loaf of Ancient Grains bread and caught a flick with Trevor. We saw Urbanized which was pretty good but dragged a bit and felt like school. Would’ve been a nice break from a boring professor in a class on urban development. But it was visually interesting and showed stuff I did not know. Copenhagen and Stuttgart are smaller then I thought. A human’s visual field is 100 meters by 100 meters and classic cities make their central square that big probably the most interesting thing. I’d never thought of that seems obvious in retrospect. I love stuff that’s like that.

So after unsuccessfully trying to extort a piece of desiccated liver Fido is settling into some tug-o-frog interspersed with some fetch so my post drags out in spits and spurts. its good though he needs the attention and the fun. He’s my buddy.

I was walking him the other day at the Bear Creek Park out past the little lakes and met an old vet walking with a cane. Fido was a little skittish but we struck a conversation and he said “dogs are pretty good partners” and they are. After having been married, lived with folks, siblings, political cooperatives, unintentional communities, roommates, and road trip buddies Fido is enthused, low maintenance, and can make me smile just thinking about him. Its supposed to be nice tomorrow and we’ll go on a long walk. Even if I never get my shit shoveled. Actually should finish that Saturday weather permitting or Sunday for sure. Seems to take all my energy to do much more then tread water.

So once again I am mostly posting to get more poetry up. My hits have been up and I’ve been picking up subscribers as I put out more stuff. I guess at some point I’ll have to start writing some new stuff. I keep singing “Black Iron Prison” hoping to get more but I haven’t added anything I want to keep. But I bet I got at least another 100 floating around in my head and 50 more on scraps of paper and old books and notebooks and probably another 50 floating in the world. So maybe I can keep up the production.

I might share a poem in my ed group tomorrow. I was covering Feelings Management and somehow our ultimate nature came up. I had stated I am not my feelings, I am not my thoughts, and when asked what I was I thought my truest self was my will. That was called my actions but that doesn’t sit right but I couldn’t really explain how the will was different any better then Epictetus’s “moving towards a thing” or a sense of purpose. I also suggested a narrative or a story. There’s a couple of really smart dudes in treatment so it makes me want to take it up a notch and I may share my: i-believe-i-am-a-pattern I posted a couple posts back.

Well tonight’s offering goes back to the ill fated Appalachian Trail hike of 2000. I found it pretty challenging physically and it was an emotional low point but it was also filled with a sense of accomplishment intrinsic in climbing mountains every day and there was poignancy that makes that era very memorable. I had a tangible sense of intense nostalgia when I visited in September. I want to go back and hike more this Spring if I can get motivated on a few projects to make it happen. But anyway the biggest thing I remember was being cold and wet all time. It rained a lot, there was frequent heavy dew, and seemed times we lived in clouds, and sometimes above.

One night we (I hiked it with my wife at the time Amee) got a trail side shelter on the side of a mountain. The clouds came up below us and the other mountain peaks poked up and it was like being on an island in the clouds. But it was hard sometimes to keep spirits up in the rain and wet. But I noticed that that was when the salamanders and such would leave the little springs and streams and you could spot a lot of them out on the trail if your eyes open. I sparked this one and sang it as I wrote it hoping to cheer Amee up (and truthfully myself as well) when it started to rain for the umpteenth day in a row. I called all four of the pieces on the trip Appalachian Spring and a number. This one is number 4 so likely the last, but I can’t be sure of that without looking at a map. I went through a fairly intense non-linear period that I am still not completely over. Have to warn you its more then a bit silly, nonetheless “Appalachian Spring #4 (The Salamander Dance)”:

If it starts to rain by chance

The salamanders do their dance

They do their dance

The salamander dance

And if it starts to rain some more

Then the frogs begin to soar

There’s flying frogs all over the place

There’s flying frogs flying into your face

And if it starts to rain in pails

Then out will come the snails

With their slimy trails

Of snail entrails

And when the rain is finally done

Then out will come the sun

and the hikers will smile

For another mile

But if it starts to rain by chance

Then the salamanders do their dance

They do their dance

The salamander dance

used to read full time

November 15, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been getting a lot more “likes” on my posts from other poets and that has been flattering. Its also inspiring me to blog more. I was talking to a co-worker about a clinical issue and mentioned I had recently read of a study in Europe more definitively linking marijuana use with psychoses and she looked at me funny and said “how much do you read in a week?” I thought for a second and said “not counting Facebook and stuff, probably twenty, twenty-five hours a week. That’s down a lot from what it used to be when I was knocking out two or three books a week. (I certainly didn’t tell her about Summers as a teenager when I was knocking out a book and a half a day. Anyway, she said “twenty five hours? That’s like a part time job”. The funny thing is up until I bought the house I used to read full time. I also didn’t mention a fair chunk of it lately has been Fantastic Four comics (I’m coming up on the mid 80s, Sue Richards has this spiky mullet, a new low and the time I was coming of age, how sad).

Today it was beautiful out. A gorgeous day for any season but with the coming of winter a precious thing. My COD group talked me into taking the show on the road and took the group on a walk. It was nice to get out on the trail and there was a universal uptick in mood and a couple of total shifts. Mine was improved and I was feeling none to shabby to begin with. Walks are such a no brainer on a beautiful day with a stir crazy bunch who really need to learn the benefits of walking and being in nature. The downside is you get less direct teaching and there’s a lot of stuff I know that could be helpful so I usually keep ’em in the classroom or at most take the conversation outside. Today we walked and it was good.

After work I shoveled the last of the horse manure on the cold frame and started the surplus pile. Might finish it tomorrow if i get an early start and Fido doesn’t want to hang out at the park too long. I’ve been steady on every other day walks most to the dog park. Olive is coming on Sunday so I’ll get a freebie. I’m going to make a chicken. I was going to roast it but with thanksgiving coming up I think I will cut it up and barbecue it.

Today I planned on cooking for myself. I had thawed cube steaks I needed to cook and tomatoes have been ripening on the counter so I put two and two together. I scalded all the tomatoes that were ripe or mostly ripe. While the water was getting hot I fried 2 pieces of bacon. I poured off half the grease and let the bacon soak out some grease in a newspaper (you can’t do that with the internet). I fried up a diced red onion, 1/2 green pepper, 3 thai chile peppers drying on my window sill in the bacon pan. I added tomatoes when the onions started to carmelize about 3/4 of the cast iron skillet and boiled that down, adding some Mrs Dash & Agave nectar to bring down the bitterness of the fresh tomatoes.

I browned the cube steaks 4 pieces, maybe a little more then a pound and patted them in whole wheat flour. I took rest of the bacon grease and sauteed another red onion, this time chunkier, green pepper 1/2 slices and a few baby portobellos I think and browned the steaks. Added all that to the now pretty yummy cooked for an hour tomato sauce and let that simmer for 40 minutes or so (another hour wouldn’t hurt, could have gotten by maybe ten minutes less, it was gooood).

I made a salad with red lettuce, thin sliced yellow squash and shredded carrots. Probably grand total the meal was literally 97% local topped off with Kevin bringing Uprise sour dough whole wheat and cookies for desert. I also had a Boulevard Wheat when cooking. Sweet.

Well in the never ending quest to get more poetry on the web here is a poem I wrote in Creative Writing back before I could write poetry but I was a little clever and got by. This one is about fungi and is in the 5-7-5 syllable format but doesn’t have a seasonal nature so its not quite haiku:


What in the world does it mean?

I know I don’t know

“I got time for one more cup of coffee”

November 14, 2011 1 comment

What a day, nice to have someone to vent to over dinner. We had Kevin’s soup from yesterday, really excellent stuff with lime & pepper in a stock from a whole chicken with veggies. Lots of oregano, had some heat but a complex flavor, good stuff. I made chicken salad from the left over chicken mostly white meat with 2 little fuji apples, a red onion, organic raisins, yellow curry, fresh ground pepper & mayo. I had mine on olive bread from Uprise lightly toasted. Pretty yummy.

I realized half my problem was I forgot my second cup of coffee on the bathroom counter after my shower. I’m glad I had one because I had a client tell me I stink. I love people without a self censor. But a stressful day, needlessly so, but what do you do? I took the dog to the dog park. It gets dark early now and its a weird dynamic coming up on people in the dark and trying to be social so your dog can be near their dog and maybe play. Fido wasn’t going for it, weirded out by the dark and a lot of big dogs. There was a crowd though, hanging out in the dark, a few dogs running around.

Mostly this post is just to get more poetry up. This one I think I wrote maybe ten years ago and found in a notebook. It evolved from a couple of lines to a stanza or two and then rapidly completed itself. Its on the cheesy side but I like it.

I got time for one more cup of coffee

I got time for one more cigarette

I got time to read the balcony scene

From Romeo and Juliet

But I ain’t got time for a harsh word

I don’t got time to fret and pace

I don’t got time to hate anybody

For their views or the color of their face

But I got time to stop and smell the flowers

I got time to stop and see a friend

I got time to walk an unknown road

Just to see what’s around the next bend

But I don’t got time to answer the phone

I don’t got time to sit and cry

I don’t got time for the television set

To tell me all the things I should buy

But I got time to tell you I love you

And I got time for another kiss

If you don’t got time to spend with me

You’ll never know just what you missed

Cuz we got time to go to the park

We got time to look at the moon

We got time to love each other

But we’d better get started soon

Categories: cooking, dogs, poetry