Archive for the ‘family’ Category

Election Day

Well at long last it is finally here.  I woke up early like I needed to for the plan. I was groggy, sleep has been hard to come by and last night was no exception. Up late doing stuff, mind turning, fitful sleep. I made coffee and grabbed my stainless steel water bottle out of the car pleased with my forethought for remembering where it was in the car and remembering to grab it, not going to have time to drink it at home got to get rolling to glad hand after at the polling place after voting. It wasn’t until the bottle heated up and I dropped it spilling hot coffee all over my hand that I remembered I don’t drink coffee in the stainless steel water bottle but in the stainless steel coffee cup. No harm no fowl. Good coffee though, a light roast Rwandan I roasted yesterday, quite yummy. Almost a nutty flavor.

I got my shower, shave and dressed as fancy I get, pretty much, my nice shirt, my first silk tie I bought new, perhaps all the way back in the 80s. It was late 80s so not totally narrow but narrow on the top and flared out at the bottom, not like they make ties now but passable.

I’d gotten vetoed on taking Fido to campaign with me. Last year, regular readers may recall I took Fido to the polls. It was the day after Dad had died and we were coming back from the dog park. We’d opened up our hearts to some sweet old ladies (sisters I recall) and we had all talked about losing our Dads. At the polling place I saw Henry from across the street (he’s working another polling place this year) and he offered his condolences and me and all the poll workers all talked about losing our dads. I never felt more part of a community then to walk out of my house and find solace in the comfort of my neighbors.

I’m very emotional today, crying as I write this. The campaign has been a wonderful distraction as the one year anniversary approaches but I am melting down today, just a bit. Its normal politically astute folks have told me. Excuse me while I go find a tissue.

That’s better. Breathe in Breathe out. So I walked down to the polls, sans Fido. A neighbor I had spoken to at length yesterday (for the third time, I had won her vote, Bill Pauls came by and stole it, I spoke at length to her husband trying to get a yard sign placement when he told me about Bill, but won her back yesterday on the final pass). She pushed the edge of talking about the campaign in the sacred neutrality of the polling place. I told her I called it a “personal project” when I talked about the campaign at work.

I did the same thing at City Council meeting when I spoke up for some neighbors who wanted a zoning change delayed to gather more neighbors. I publicly commented in favor of the tabling at one of their all’s request and talked about how I had canvassed the neighborhood for a “personal project”. As I was leaving I was set upon by some J-school students for an interview and none of them knew I was a candidate and had a fair shot at being on the Council next meeting. It was funny. (tabling passed 5-1, only dissenter was our current rep who I think is bent because I’ve been campaigning against his comment that the Ward was “apathetic”. He also isn’t trying to develop a cordial working relationship with me as the rest of the council appears to be. I also obliquely referenced that in my comments which probably didn’t help.)

The woman I worked so hard to capture her vote voted absentee yesterday (that’s at least 3 of those plus my own so I’m getting at least 4 votes). Another neighbor was there, I had gone by her house a couple of times but she never answered the door. She’s super-religious and felt she was voting for Pauls, I would have if I was her in spite of a personal connection which she made an oblique reference to herself, so perhaps I did win her vote. I’ve done a good turn or two for the community and there will be some folks who don’t normally vote showing up today.

Seeing yourself on the ballot is pretty cool. These things are close so I chose myself. I got my sticker and put my ballot in the ballot machine.

I went outside and stepped past the “no electioneering past this point” sign and should have slipped on my “Michael Trapp for Ward 2 City Council” badge and started thanking people for coming out but just couldn’t do it. As I told my advisers in an email “I’m not really a friendly and outgoing person. I just learned to act like one and I can’t do it this morning”. The church is my neighbor and they have a sign saying “no trespassing except for church business”. I respect that. The counter-argument is that by providing access to the polls that extends to electioneering on site but it was all to ambiguous, it was early, I felt weird and I am tired, not just tired but weary to the bone.

So I walked home took off my tie and dress shirt and wrote this blog. I am going to make a second pot of coffee and put some time in the garden, perhaps nap if my racing mind allows, and probably take the dog for a walk. I’ve earned a little R&R. Hell I’m going to put shorts on. I closed my email with “If I lose by 3 votes I will feel silly and self-indulgent”. True dat. If I get a chance to do this again I will take a friend with me to buck me up.


we don’t make flags here anymore

December 24, 2011 1 comment

Merry Christmas faithful reader and I am glad I got a chance to post before the big holiday celebration. It feels good to be up in Michigan. I have been ill all week but am feeling much better, mostly recuperated except for a bit of a cough. Fido held up OK on the trip. We enjoyed stopping in St Louis Thursday night and seeing Mark and Sarah and having some Thai food at King & I. Yummy.

Fido enjoyed eating all the chicken bones he found on our walks in St Louis. He’s not used to walks in the big city where the streets are paved in chicken bones. He also enjoyed when we stopped for a hike at a metro-park in suburban Dayton. We hiked a 1.2 mile loop which was about all I could handle yesterday. Today we walked up town and did the river walk, Monroe is a cute town and there a few nice views of downtown we found. The economic downturn is at least a boon for preservation as things are less changed then in past visits.

Have a family gathering tonight, breakfast tomorrow and another dinner tomorrow as well. Doing this Christmas thing up right. We went to the farmers market today and I was impressed with the winter offerings. Got apples, red onions, shallots, black strap molasses, honey, yukon golds [do you capitalize when a place is the name of a thing, like Yukon golds? doesn’t look right, I think not.], plus some christmas cookies to buff out the ones I got from Sarah, so I can serve them at tomorrow’s dinner. I got this German kind I’ve never had before. I also got these green eggs. I’ve never seen such a thing, but its an heirloom chicken variety. Quite impressive and a distinct taste the farmer said. I also got a kohlrabi as big as your head, I’ve never seen one so big.

The big reason I wanted to post though is I have a poem I wrote on the way up passing through a small town in Ohio:

Welcome to Findlay

Home of Flag City

But we don’t make flags here anymore

They’re all made in Red China

Which shouldn’t surprise ya

It’s like everything else in the whole damn store.

So there ain’t no good jobs

Cuz some soulless corporation

Didn’t think their workers had a right to a living wage

So they took all our good jobs

And sent them to the Third World

Just to make a few more dollars, its a brazen age.

So welcome to Findlay

Home of Flag City

But we don’t make flags here anymore

They’re all made in Red China

Which shouldn’t surprise ya

It’s like everything else in the big box store.

If you’re lucky enough to have a job

It’s probably part time

Its a tough old world in the service line

And I will serve you and you will serve me

But ain’t none us making no money

Cuz we ain’t making nothing, nothing but time.

So welcome to Findlay

Home of Flag City

But we don’t make flags here anymore…

Categories: dogs, family, poetry, politics, travel

Holiday Letter 2011

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Well its been a tough year on Leslie Lane but Fido and I are resilient if nothing else and still found some joy worth sharing this holiday season as we recount the events of the year for our family and friends. I use the “we” pretty loosely as Fido is sacked out on the love seat with his head on a pillow as his cousin Shadow, “a little human in a dog suit” taught him to do. He rarely much to these narratives so I will plunge ahead without his active input.

Currently I am sick; scratchy throat, sore, chills and tired. Came on last evening, I couldn’t sleep for the congestion, got up and took some Nyquil and almost slept through the time to call in. As I alluded to in my last post and if your a new reader you may not know but we had our share of tragedy this year, Fido’s man died in April and if being sick brings a little solemnity to the narrative, its entirely appropriate; snot riddled and a little tearful looking back on the year that was.

Dad and I celebrated the holidays at home last year. Usually we travel and the year before in a hotel in Monroe Michigan it struck me that I have a perfectly good house with a lovely Christmas tree at home why am I spending Christmas in hotels and campgrounds year after year. I worked Christmas Day and came home to celebrate with Fido and the Popster with the exchange of gifts and holiday cheer. We celebrated the New Year with Dad making a pork roast in the slow cooker, you have to eat pork on New Years to” root ahead” as Grandma Trapp would say. If you eat chicken you’ll scratch all year and beef leaves you standing still chewing your cud.

We had a bad Winter with lots of snow and cold. Since I live only a block from work I was one of only three that made it in and one of two that stayed. We had fun doing all the groups and accommodating ourselves to the weather. I walked Fido a lot. He would have a good time even when the snow was deeper then he was tall. He kind of jumps and swims like his moves to get through tall grass. We owned the Bear Creek Trail that winter.

I made my first road trip of the year in early Spring when Dave Smith won some free tickets to see The Pogues at the Royal Oak Music Theater. It was nice to reconnect with Dave and see his new place and visit family and friends who I’d missed on the holidays. The green  truck did not survive the trip however with the timing chain rubbing its way through the engine case. I landed on my feet and Betty and Bill were kind enough to loan me there car for my stay and rented one for the drive back.

I brought back Johnny Watson for a working vacation here in CoMo. He put in a new floor and tile in my kitchen to replace the crappy linoleum that was cracking even though it was new when I bought the house. The disruption and dust was hard on Dad and it was only a little before that that I saw Dad was struggling to get through his routine and that I was going to have to step up my game and start helping him with laundry and making his bed and real basic shit like that. I cried when Sarah asked me how I was doing the morning I realized Dad couldn’t make his bed anymore. I wondered how I would manage the house on my own and caregive for Dad and work all on my own.

In early April Dad couldn’t catch his breath and I took him to the ER. They gave him a breathing treatment, which eased him up and they almost sent him home, but decided to admit him. I went to work and came back after and he was struggling to breathe. I got on the nursing staff to get him some breathing treatments ordered and went home since he couldn’t visit. I missed a call in the middle of the night and awoke to a voice mail they had Dad on a ventilator.

I called family and pretty much moved to the hospital. Bob was on the road within hours and bedside that night. What a blessing family is. They took Dad off the ventilator to see if he could breathe on his own and we were instructed to get his final wishes. As he was coming out of anesthesia I said “Dad, Dad its Mickey [my childhood nickname]”. Dad licked his lips and said “Mickeys in the wide mouth green bottle, Rolling Rock…” and I could tell he was thinking of beers in green bottles and after a pause he said “I’m not an alcoholic”.

Well he couldn’t breathe without mechanical assistance and that’s a shitty life my friends so we stopped the machines and started the best friend of the dying, good old Morphine. Morphine relaxed him and got him some lung action so he could push out carbon dioxide again and gave him a few good days, to visit and say goodbye and give more family time to come and make peace.

My friends went into action, hosting my family, cleaning my house, walking my dog so that I could be at the hospital full time. They visited and offered support and got us the things we needed. Boone Hospital Palliative Care were beautiful. We drank rum and cokes, Dad had lost the taste for beer with his gluten free diet, but enjoyed a good drink with family and friends and was his charming and engaging self. We snuck Fido in one night and he lay at Dad’s feet while he slept. Dad woke and said “I’ll be damned”.

It was good for Fido who had never been apart from Dad for more then a few hours in his whole life and he seemed to figure out what was going on. Dad hung on for a few days, the price of doing business when your tough as nails. One of the last things he enjoyed was listening to the first two chapters of “Last Stand at Papagos Well” by his favorite author, Mr. Louis L’amour, read by yours truly.

Dad passed and family returned home and Fido and I were alone in our grief. I decided to do the funeral service myself out of respect I didn’t want to hand the chore over to a stranger. I had a small memorial service in the backyard that weekend and sprinkled a little of his ashes on Fido’s predecessor Myrtle’s grave. I wanted to make sure I could get through the thing without breaking down before I did it for the full funeral the following weekend. It went well though my progressive friends wondered how it would go over in the heartland.

It went over really well, people liked hearing his story and having a theologically unique approach was validating to many and offended few (at least they were quiet about it). It gave me a chance to connect with a lot of family as I am normally quiet at such affairs and no one knew I could write and deliver a speech. I submitted the service to the New Yorker but ultimately just posted it on my blog.

I thought I would be alone in the house but this guy Kevin who used to live in Columbia contacted me about renting a room and John came back to stay with me for close to six months which was great having him around. John got some projects done putting in a dog waste compost system in the back corner and building a raised bed frame and a cold frame out of some of the old windows.

The garden was largely a bust this year, tough weather with lots of rain early and then a month long hot and dry spell. Ultimately it got nice but green tomatoes were about the only thing I had in abundance. I fried some, made and canned chutney, and ripened a bunch for homemade tomato sauce several times. Put the last of them in my turkey soup yesterday.

It was a good year for floating, though not on The Big Muddy which was closed for much of the year because of flooding. Michael, Trevor and I floated both the Lemine and Locust Creek. The Lamine was slow and Locust Creek involved a lot of portages due to debris which was new to me. I floated the flooded Overton Bottoms twice. Nothing like canoeing through the woods. My best float though, John put together a full moon night float on the Gasconade on my birthday. That was incredible.

John and I also vacationed in the Appalachians. We stayed in Sieverville for a couple days and daytripped into Great Smokey National Park. The hike to Laurel Falls was probably my favorite but we also watched a mama bear and her cup snacking and lazing about in a gum tree. It was very cool. We dropped south of the park and did some guerrilla and dispersed camping in the Nantahala National Forest. We hiked in the Joyce Kilmer Memorial Grove and saw some great old growth trees and hiked to some more waterfalls including another Lauurel Falls. On the way out we camped in the Pisquah, pretty much skippable. It was a great trip though and I got another mile of the Appalachian Trail and my total stands at 157. I pledged to go back and start north just north of the park, but not this year.

Ultimately John moved back to California and my housemate Kevin bought a house and moved out yesterday, so as of today its just me and Fido. We’re content with that, though the house seems big for me and a little dog. In the Spring if a housemate hasn’t turned up on their own I’ll start looking. I expect someone will just show up, its worked so far.

Lets see, entertained less, but some. Had a nice blow out for Thanksgiving, with a local pasture raised heirloom turkey and Kevin made some excellent sides. We had a collection of strays from my neighbor Henry, my buddy Harry originally out of Toledo, Kevin, his new girlfriend, and a couple of professors from the university from way out of town (Italy and Estonia). We had lively conversation and drank some good wine and enjoyed our lovely meal snug and grateful.

Work continues to go well. I was demoted to counselor after a minor screw up. Best thing that ever happened to me. I got a more responsive boss and a more reasonable work load. I continue to do staff trainings, education groups (added self control and dreams to my repertoire), therapy groups, and am getting to be a better counselor. I am a more confident public speaker and am even more motivational. I came to realize people need more preaching then teaching.

I continue to eat more local food and now that I’m buying all the groceries my local content should do nothing but climb. Lets see, I also joined the Odd Fellows and I’m glad to be a part of something both storied and ready to play a more important role as our government slides further into dysfunction.

In October I got into the post a day challenge a little late but upped my blogging game considerably. It challenged me to have something meaningful to say daily and I started picking up more subscribers and “Likes” from strangers. I cancelled my Directv and will likely drop Netflix as I blog more and watch TV less. I hope to get into an exercise routine in the coming year. Still single but feel closer to changing that but am still not feeling rushed. Have a couple folks that I think are interested but haven’t followed up on it. I may, or I may not when it comes right down to it.

All in all some good things happened in a tough year. I am not sorry to see 2011 go but it was a time of growth and change and I am not ungrateful for the experiences I have had. 2012 promises to have more joy and less pain and I look forward to building on the gains I have made, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

up late before the eclipse

December 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Watching some Lord of the Rings and writing some poetry. Another exciting Friday night here at Leslie Lane. Not sure why I’m a little melancholy after a really great day. I had a four day week and had rather an enjoyable day off. Put some decorations on the tree, cleaned a little house, made some bacon and eggs. I listened to a CD of Brenda doing her recovery story and it was really touching, I am so proud of her. I called her and we were both getting ready for the noon meeting. I took a formerly homeless gent i know who will only go if i take him and he likes to collect the coins. funny thing to do on a day off but it didn’t feel like work. saw some other folks i know, heartfelt but anonymous.

In the afternoon I went shopping which I am not much wont to do, but make exceptions from time to time especially this time of year. I bought some crampons for walking on the ice. not going to let a missouri winter keep me from my appointed rounds and I can’t keep going down hard each winter and expect not to get hurt some day.

We had our first dusting of snow but now its warming up a bit, cold tonight though. I have clothes on the line. After shopping went to a happy hour at a chain restaurant with a group celebrating a soon to be ex-coworker’s new job. It was fun and we shared going crazy stories and there were a surprising few for those who cared to share.

Besides the crampons I got some more winterizing stuff, door thresholds for the storm doors. Dad would be proud, tackling a project on my own. Probably on Sunday. I also got a programmable thermostat. Sorry Fido, you don’t need it warm in here while I’m at work and we could make it nippier when we’re under the down comforter. Another record year for green house gas emissions. That’s gotta change and that won’t happen if we don’t. As they say in recovery, if you keep doing what your doing, you keep getting what your getting.

I also got extension cords and now the tree has a cheery glow with a string of 100 white led lights. I’ll put a string of little lights on the ficus tomorrow, and maybe I’ll put a bulb on the kaffir lime tree, might look a little Charlie Brown. Speaking of which my co-worker Jane is going to play Charlie Brown Christmas for her Christmas-Eve ed group which I did last year to good effect. There’s some admirable characters and it allowed a nice approach to the difficult topic of Christmas. Some people don’t care, its just another day in treatment, while others are broken up over the ones they’re not with or the ones who are gone. I brought gifts which helped, people like presents, most of them would have got nothing.

It was fun working last year, coming home to spend the afternoon with Dad. Knew I had it lucky too. I guess that’s why I’m melancholy. Fido likes the tree, he pulls on the lower branches and drinks out of the basin. But its not the same.

Here’s the poem, only you faithful reader who will read 545 words of my banal Friday get to see the new stuff:

A Song of Earnest Regret

If I could have remembered Eowyn

where would i be now?  where would we be?

i am where I need to be

i guess, it at least feels right

but so much else is gone

all of the mighthavebeens

i don’t even know  if I miss them

except for now, when I do

oh Eowyn would I know your face?

did I know?

the damp of the spring rain

no not the first

held no comfort no solace even

but a bone chilling weariness

that like malaria

when its run its course

and your better again

to where being crippled up with sick

is a faint memory

only to come again

with no sure knowledge it will pass

but yes Sam there’s light up there

beauty that no shadow can touch

still the journey for some involves struggle

and sometimes it’s just a little too hard

too open your eyes to beauty


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.

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

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

sunrise war

November 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Watching some Two Towers, first time seeing the directors cut, because the one thing about those films is they just aren’t long enough. Its really a brilliant film though but not quite enough to hold my complete interest a third time through. Frodo is such a Christ figure as his heroism is to endure undeserved suffering. I love the scene where he eavesdrops on Gollem and realizes he was once a lot like himself once and calls him Smeagel. Embracing his shadow self, he opens his heart and learns what he has to learn to move him along on his journey. Man, Tolkien rocked. The return of Gandalf the sweeping story arc, its just a great tale.

My own tale has been more modest and my Saturday has been more relaxing then I had anticipated. A little sad it being Dad’s birthday but  glad for Fifth of November plans, won’t forget Guy Faukes day again. I saw Julie had written him a birthday note on his wall and since not even death will stop a facebook account I did the same. Been feeling it a bit with John back in California but being alone has its pluses too.

After coffee and the paper I hung out my laundry in overcast skies. The paper said no rain and ultimately the clouds broke and it got pretty nice. I went to the market and mostly realized that if you don’t cook you don’t get to buy produce. I got a nice head of lettuce and some green peppers and some ground beast but forgot to get eggs. The cold thinned out the crowd and the # of vendors. Now I wish I would have gotten a Patric chocolate bar at the book store yesterday.

I decided to make pottage for the potluck portion of Occupy Como. I had some spinach from last week’s market, perhaps even the week before that needed to be eaten and the kale from Sarah’s garden. It was a sizable amount so I decided to make it on the stove top instead of the rice cooker. I added a cup each of white and brown rice a cup of lentils and 6 cups of water. I added the little onions out of Sarah’s garden, another big cooking onion, 1/2 of a big head of garlic, a little less then a cup of olive oil, fresh oregano out of my garden, three dried hot peppers out of Trevor’s garden and 1/2 tsp of salt or so. Brought it to a boil and simmered the liquid of it. Pretty tasty.

Then it was time for Fido and I to hit the occupation. There was a good crowd with some speeches we couldn’t hear very well and maybe 100-150 people and a few other dogs. Fido was pretty chill but we stuck to the back. Saw Sharon and Megan but didn’t do much more then say ‘hi’ as the march was starting. I saw some other familiar faces but we never got close enough to say ‘hi’.

I was talking in my group on Friday about how there is very little difference between being a friendly and outgoing person and acting like you are a friendly and outgoing person. I decided today I am a friendly but aloof person because we didn’t really chat anyone up. Fido drew some admirers and got his belly rubbed more then once. He was also around some little kids which is good practice. He was generally admired and people commented on his good behavior.

We marched up to Bank of America with more speeches and I got to experience ‘The People’s Mic’ thank you no amplification at Zucoti Park, you’ve created a thing. Pretty cool but I saw a video bit with people doing it to disrupt a speech by the Wisconsin Governator that was very “Two legs good, four legs bad” kind of politics I find vaguely disturbing. As we were breaking up to go back to Liberty Square (the keyhole plaza in front of City Hall) Fido jumped on the brick planter without plants in front of the bank. I caught a flash and realized B of A employees were taking his picture. Fido was the only disruptive critter so I got him down and scolded him for his radical ways. Now he probably has a file with The Man.

So I didn’t have enough change to stay for the potluck which I wasn’t feeling anyway and I am as I said aloof so I left the pottage in the car and caught the scene for a bit. A guy gave me a flyer on why corporations are bad and said we needed cooperation instead of competition. I said we needed both but the pendulum was to far that’s for sure.

We stopped at the store so I could forget eggs again and pick up a few things. I was going to make a banana/squash bread too. Maybe tomorrow. I hope to get out to Lowes or someplace and get furnace filters and a programmable thermostat. Kevin and I are on the same schedule so I should be able to significantly cut back on the overall temps of the house and still up my critical 6:30-8:00 time when I might feel OK about putting the heat up a bit to Western standards of comfort.

I’ll also need to bring my laundry in since I didn’t do it today. I took a long nap which I felt was nice but sorry to miss the sunniest warmest part of the day. I did unload more horse manure and hope to have the main bed ready to go and get some garlic in. I don’t think I am going to put anything else in until i get the cold frame going, but that needs busting sod and double digging plus the manure bit, a lot of work and little daylight not sucked up by work. But one step at a time, do something every day, it’ll happen when it happens. The rest was nice though and well deserved. But the backyard squirrel has taken the trouble to get chubbier then I’ve ever seen him so he at least is expecting another hard winter. He must’ve heard about the La Nina sticking around for an extra year. Its a shame we broke the weather.

If I get through that Trevor’s going to see this Russian movie that looks pretty good. Its set near where Lisa is in the Peace Corps. Fido needs a walk too and Harry’s coming over for Walking Dead so we will see.

As part of my having a definitive list of blog poetry to add to now I am going to end with the second poem I wrote when I went mad in Amsterdam in 1996, which I’ve blogged about extensively. I had written my first one in an attempt I think to reach out and define myself because I was unraveling and my self organization was starting to flicker a bit, on and off. Everything was poignant with the intensity dial being set on 11, all day every day. Feeling a lot of stuff I had been stuffing. I blasted out my first pretty decent and emotionally honest poem.

I shared with the people I was with I think, all that was hazy but I remember them talking about Martin, the guy who owned the mind spa we were staying at speaking several languages and I said I could write poetry in any language. With a German dictionary I wrote a haiku. I gave it in German and English and the other to Jennifer who later sent them both to me when I was in my mad convalescence but I don’t know if I could lay hands them on anymore. When I wrote the haiku  I started with one I’d written years earlier when I wanted to write a series of 5-7-5s (haiku without a season) on the major arcana in the Tarot. I only got the first one:

The Fool

S(he) walks towards the cliff

Not hearing the warning cry

S(he) does not need to


Sunrise War

Sunrise War

Around dying Autumnal fires

‘Til sleep intervenes

Halloween 2011

November 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Wow what an eventful day. Such that I couldn’t even document it until this morning. I jammed out getting my counseling re-certification in. I needed 4 hours of continuing ed so I went into work early and pushed through a self study course. Took John to U-Haul on my lunch to get his tailgate installed and went by the post office to get that 10/31 postmark that saved me $75. Next year I am going to be more on it. Its getting to be like filing my taxes only the post office isn’t open until midnight.

After working a little over in a delicate kind of meeting thing I came home to see John with the trailer parked and van loaded and checking his fluids. Which then it really hit me that he would actually be going. Its been a huge blessing having John and the dogs come right after Dad died to ease that transition and though I am happy for him to get his life back in motion I was nonetheless hit by a wave of sadness still able to bring a little tear this morning.

So it goes without saying I didn’t get my jack-o-lantern carved. I ordered pizza and gave the delivery driver candy (plus a tip) and told him he had a great Dominos costume. I had 2 others, little kids from the neighborhood. I wish I would have given them more then a big handful of candy because that is all I got. I’m the only light on the block and anyone with a car goes elsewhere. Apparently people without cars go elsewhere. They were cute though a little Ninja and Pocahontas both around 3, maybe twins.

Halloween also marks the end of the blog a day challenge. I am glad my recent flurry of activity didn’t cause me to lose any subscribers. I unsubscribed to a blog I like mostly but he posts at least once a day and sometimes several and if it feels like a chore looking at my email inbox I start dropping blogs. I thought I had some good stuff this month and it drove up my hits but some were uninspired. Its been good discipline for the National Novel in a Month which I have thought about doing for years and decided to make the plunge this year so I expect faithful reader you will see a lot less of me for a while. I like posting and doing it every day made me realize how much I enjoy it. Will try to get back to you after my daily words are done but I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

Categories: dogs, family, feelings, work

self esteem

October 28, 2011 Leave a comment

I’ve been talking about self esteem in my Friday education group. It used to be a four week presentation but this iteration is looking like six. Its a really important topic in recovery because there is an inordinate amount of self sabotage amongst folks in substance abuse treatment. Intellectually the topic appeals to me because its so difficult to do anything productive on the topic. In general attitudes and beliefs are hard to shift and our sense of self is the oldest and most solid piece of who we are. It takes years of concerted effort to make serious headway and pointing people in that direction, laying it out and providing the tools feels like activism. “You Are Awesome” my favorite Occupation sign says. Its animated my thoughts.

I also like teaching on self esteem because it excuses me a chance to explore just exactly what we are and where we have emerged from. I discuss the mirror test, an ability to recognize yourself in a mirror requires self awareness. “Hey that’s me in there.” 6 month olds, dogs, cats, and monkeys they can’t do it. 18 month olds, chimps and other great apes, elephants, grey parrots, and dolphins can. What were we doing around that age, toddling around getting into shit. At some point we all went to touch the stove, that’s how babies explore the world and someone who loved us smacked our hand and said, “bad baby, don’t touch the stove”. What’d we learn besides don’t touch the stove. “I’m the bad baby who tries to touch the stove”. We are learning who we are.

How we view ourselves is so vital because of confirmation bias, the tendency to see evidence to support what we already believe. We like to believe we look out on the world in an objective way but really we only perceive what is in line with our existing beliefs. Now what is the risk if you believe you are a piece of shit? That is why it is so vital. The thesis I try to make is to pick a concrete strategy and stick with it for years even. When you achieve mastery pick another. I learned about self esteem and started to work on it around 16 probably in my high school psychology class. I’ve been at it ever sense. I’ve made some significant progress but my journey is not yet done.

I have been working on eliminating the word “should” out of my self talk for five years. I still catch myself thinking it. (the re-frame for “should” is “could”). I pretty much ferreted out “can’t” (the re-frame for “can’t” is “I’ve struggled with this in the past but I’m getting better on it because I’m working on it”  [not as pithy as “could” but memorable in its absurdity]). “Always” and “never” have had their place.

I teach a 2 step of do the right thing and give yourself credit. Challenging the inner critic instead of hiding from it or tuning it out. Ask it questions; “is this true?”, “does this preserve my life?”, “get me what I want?”, “keep what I don’t want from happening?”, “improve my relationships?”.

I told the story of getting shit canned at Food Town after 29 days when I was 17. Not because I wasn’t a hard worker but because I was to insecure to ask questions and didn’t know how to stay busy. Felt intimidated by the customers, not knowing where stuff was, and the bosses, easier to putter around the bottle room. I had always wanted to be a bag boy too. Mom wanted a kid to go to the store, you got to pick out the cereal and get a comic book at Crairie’s Drugs. When I was a little kid I looked up to the bag boys who brought our groceries out to the car back then. (You know when there were jobs for people to do.)

The bag boys seemed like gods. Kids who did what adults did, that’s what I wanted to be and I told my mom I wanted to be a bag boy and she said “You can’t because we’re not Lutheran and Francis Foods only hires Lutherans”. I told the story pretty matter of factly and a brother in the second row just looked dumb f0unded and said “You’re shitting me”. He couldn’t wrap his mind around a world where you couldn’t get a job because you were the wrong denomination. With all the growing problems of modernity, maybe things are getting better.