Friday, January 7, 2022

A January Thaw?


    A thaw indeed would be a relief from many things, for many reasons.

    What else can one expect after two snowfalls in four days (counting the nights)?  This is a month that is best lived day-to-day in search of sun and anything else conductive to good health and personal welfare. The country now more than ever is in search of its  democratic foundations  and a way out of the misinformation tide threatening to drown all civility.

    I had, for a while, at the top of a list of notably negative signs the titles of notably popular books (at least on one December poll). 'The Bitch Is Back.' "Thug Matrimony' and 'Empire of Pain,' plus Congress member Robert F Kennedy's anti-Fauci rants.  But there is only so much ill will a person can absorb before rejecting omens of any kind.

    Especially when one's birthday falls on the date of the Christian Orthodox Christmas. Bring on the lights and flowers and celebrate.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

December Decides


About our pandemic future. Will we be able to adjust to future requests (demands) for protection? Boosters forever?

Saturday, November 6, 2021

November brrrrr

     Ideally, relief. The autumn chill removes the growling sound of the feisty ground level AC compressor that my California neighbors use most of the year. The autumn leaves turn red and gold for the longest time - right outside my door, on one of the busiest streets in town. (Meaning, my part of town, a sort of village known as Easter Market.)

    And I no longer fret about cooking recipes ideally served warm or more.  So at 50 plus degrees, a group could sit outside near a charcoal grill and take an long length of time to prepare paella while gradually forgetting that night is coming on....

    And I find it no problem to enjoy mixing and matching a round of stuffed peppers done with custom blends of no-beans, no-wheat, no-carbs etc. Suiting tastes of my neighbor family whose parents are either lactose intolerant and keto happy. 

    Thus, the upside of oncoming return to regular 'standard time' with an extra hour along with the downside of adjusting to nightfall at 5 pm. onward...

    So what did you do during the pandemic, grandma? The question I expect my two granddaughters one day to ask. Expect and hope they will be curious enough even though their own lives will (god hope etc.) not be touched by the most dangerous virus in their own world to date. How to answer? Well, I read 64 books in 2020 and am working on my 2021 list, now about 40. It's not likely I will get to finish 20-some more in six weeks to match my old record. What have the books taught me, now that's a question to avoid. I can also tell them I was busy translating New York Times  Cooking columns into a fake copy that might pass as food.

    'Explain please:'   So when I download a recipe such as Roasted Salmon With Miso Rice and Ginger-Scallion Vinaigrette ( 8 words), I must account for 11 ingredients that are given for 4 people. I am only a one with no hope of sharing since the outcome will be muddled even if I do follow exact instructions. Do I do a dance in the kitchen, open a bottle of wine, pretend to divide the four into one number - and take my chances. Likely I fail since I'm impatient. I want to hurry up the process, argue with the suggested time involved of 30 minutes - presumably the total between assembly and finale. It's a game, I tell myself. Just produce something that is colorful enough so I want to eat it: cabbage and  sweet miso flavored rice atop a skinny salmon filet. Usually I'll manage a few bites, depending on whether the radio offers me a program worth chewing to...

    Image shown is a Statement - about how weary we have grown with the pandemic rules. A mask thrown off or lost in the weeds by a busy city street. Bedraggled as we all often are...

On to December and then?


Friday, October 15, 2021

blogger woes

 okay, so no more photos to go along with my blathering, or at least until I can find out what is upsetting the system...

Sunday, October 10, 2021

October's Odds


    Could there be any such thing as an ordinary day?  That may depend on how a person regards 'ordinary.' So when I go early to a local garden center, thinking about possible plantings for my patio (not an ordinary phrase!), I  wander through greenery observed by a store clerk who is watering greens around me. "I like the color of your hair," he says out of the blue with a smile. "What color is it?" I reply in a teasing mode. "Burgundy," he tells me. 

A win for spontaneity perhaps. 

    And leaving another more distant garden center with friends, I witness them arguing in the car over whose memory of the site where the wife had recently found herself rear ended on a highway that ended the life of their other secondhand car. Neither would give in to the other though both were involved, the husband arriving on site later after a few frustrating conversations with 911 and his wife about the name of the place. The wife had thought her directions to him to come to a certain plaza was the correct name, when it turns out (or seems to have been) she was mistaken. The only way the couple could connect physically that day was by having the wife's daughter  several hundred miles away trace the accident scene  (and her mother's  not totaled car) on an iPhone and send the photo to the husband.

This sleight of hand is taken for granted as a common sense solution in these confusing times.

At the garden center itself, we three had met a woman loading into her car a substantially heavy cypresss  - "a native," said the woman, noticing our interest. Her car was parked in the loading zone where I stood by my new purchases on another trolley . She couldn't be stopped from  giving us more information about the deliciously graceful looking green plant. There was no stopping her. She was no longer working professionally, she said, though she was 'a master gardener, ' thereby all-knowing about such things. An entire education for us, freely procured, in only ten minutes time.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

September Sneaks In

 there should be a photo here that is 'worth a thousand words' - probably more.

Namely: my favorite T-shirt that reads in black gothic script:


Until I can find out why the system prevents this, I'll just wave goodbye to the month that now seems gone for a year.

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

August in the Treasure State.... unlike anywhere else, in my experience. I mean THIS August that came in with ))blistering heat and no thought of rain. The first sizable bit of water to fall since the last (skimpy) snow in late April poured down on August 2 in a reckless thunderstorm that dumped minimal wet stuff but could take out electricity in a  Western part of  town. 

Town or city? Billings, of course, is 'the magic city' ( a motto of its own making, proof of which has yet to be revealed). Long live the imagination. 

Where all heat records were broken  this year I'm told. Way high - 105.

Thankfully, I could dash out of rain into Golden Nails salon to meet with Jun for a full blown pedicure, all action and little fuss. Whereby I intrude upon public manners by asking 'the dirty question', as the good-humored proprietor called it: Are you vaccinated? He wore a mask ('have to,' he said - local law or custom, I assumed). In reply he said 'where are you from?' I said that was 'a dirty question.' Two women getting a manicure at his desk laughed, as did he. 

I had sensed some hesitation as I entered - obviously a stranger but one who had thought to make an appointment ahead. A young man and woman plus the owner (I assumed) who, I found,  could also act as 'surgeon' correcting the troublesome feet of clients.

He answered with a chuckle and broad smile: "If you are from California, you have to wait longer."   California is understood to be the brazen outsiders coming to town exploiting the place. Or so I assume since by then I was in the massage chair, ready to be pampered without further talk.


Walking along the Dude Rancher Motel ("Historic Site'), I see a sign on the front door that warns that no one with a local address will be allowed to rent a room. Thank you, etc. The reason must have to do with some criminal dealings of late, possibly buying and selling. but who knows? The coffee shop was closed. Nobody was around. 


Auto licenses here come in 50 different designs - apparently the right of locals to pay extra for decorative adornment and colors on the required metal plate. "God's Country" is one of them. Horses and bulls.  

Cruising along the Interstate between Missoula and Billings, through isolated farm country, we spy a lone man on a ski board being pulled through the water by a small motorboat. Shades of summer! Way out in nowhere is a long stretch of water of no special design or location. A water skier in the middle of a field...

Up up and away we move on and over the Continental Divide ('6393' feet it says, along with a mysterious sign warning that "all watercraft must be inspected before launching after crossing the Continental Divide). We are moving around and above what is purportedly 'The Richest Hill on Earth" (try proving that) which is Butte, which also claims to be  the"Largest Historic District in the Country."  It all depends on what you judge as historic and probably on how you measure. Few places, I'll wager, can brag of being ' a mile high and a mile deep.'

Why then, in the land of surprises, should it be a surprise to discover a business in a way-out industrial space that deals in "Seafoods of the World" - both fresh and frozen. Apologies are offered for not having fresh Maryland crab available: too costly says the clerk.

Now for a bright light surprise and tragedy of sorts.  Think 'Swanky Roots' and you might think - wrongly - of hair styling for men and women worried about what is happening on their head. To get swanky, you get color. Not so in this little conversation with an ongoing college freshman working behind the counter of a family-owned hydroponic vegetable farm way outside  Billings - yet not so far that it can't be reached for an all-too-wonderful collection of homegrown greens, etc. (Think zucchini, onions, herbs, etcccc as well). Sold in house but also downtown at a Farm Hub for those who pledge head. The place is sweltering on this August day but the retail shop at least has freezer and cold shelves. Bless the plastic covered greenhouses next door - and in the area where tanks of fish (yes,) whose excreta I am told help enhance the water that enchants the microbes that make the mighty vegetables, etc. grow.

Tours are offered but today is too hot to imagine one, and there are complications. Some teenage boys from a local high school not long ago broke in and ran off with the expensive ($500) register-safe holding the cash, which of course they took. They mangled and dumped the safe in a nearby field. Videos identified the culprits, who are known by all - locals being aware of a teenage coven of sorts causing havoc for fun (or for drugs?). Recently, this gang had put red flags on cars around town and then went back to break into the cars that had not taken away the flags. What sense is this?


A piquant experience: To be a relative stranger in a strange place and be able to introduce residents to some of their special attractions ('Swanky Roots" - who could believe it?)about which  they might never  have known. Or share with someone local the pleasures of some off-beat unfairly described ones, such as Zoo Montana, a combination zoo and arboretum. Plus, of course, an education all its own.

Town/city - which is which?  Maybe a town like Billings (pop. re 110,000 last census)  can only claim to be a city when the freight tracks  that run through the center of what passes for a 'downtown' are moved or bypassed to allow a free flow of traffic on north-south streets.

For a change of pace and presumptions: August 14-21 at the Chautauqua Institution, where the week's theme (one of nine topics chosen for this brave semi-open summer season) was the human brain.  Heavy subject indeed, lightened much by some of the scenes on the grounds. 

A stuffed lion leans out of the library window facing the 'village green.'

And this more concrete image of a philosophy embraced by many who call themselves Chautauquans: 

What does that mean, exactly? No explanation should be required in a community that purports to uphold a sort of declaration of universal human rights to examine life spiritually, physically, intellectually, etc.