Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Yesterday, my neighbor was outside again in his underwear. Standing on his roof, he had a 20' bamboo pole with a saw on the end and was cutting coconuts out of the tree overhanging his house.  "THWUMP" was what brought me to the window.  That was the sound of the coconut missing my neighbor's head and hitting the roof next to him. 

The day before yesterday I saw a woman who I am guessing was in her late 60's walking down the sidewalk. That in itself was not the strange part. The fact that she was dressed as a 20 year old gave me pause. Right from her bleached-blonde long locks down to her mid-baring shirt and short-shorts, she trundled on her high wedged sandals.  It wasn't until I had gotten almost even with her in my truck that I could make out her age. It was such a shock to my senses that I am still having flash-backs.

That same day, I saw a woman jogging down the street but thought she was a man from behind. A week before that a goat stopped by my office and nibbled on my taro that I have planted out front.  On Saturday, FedEx had the US Postal Service deliver a package to my mailbox. I checked every possible nook and cranny for the package that was tracked and reported as having been delivered. I finally found it in the mailbox. Go figure.

I am beginning to expect the unexpected. Where has my safe little world gone with comfortable assumptions?  I guess the answer is that the world has changed and I haven't. Who says that underwear isn't as modest as a pair of shorts? Who makes the rules as to how people should dress or look? Why should goats be fenced? This is a free world, after all.  

But where I have to draw the line is Package Delivery. If I order it to be delivered to my doorstep in a van with great big lettering on the side, I damn well expect it to be delivered that way.  Not way out at the street in a box that anyone willing to risk incarceration in a Federal Penitentiary could abscond with it. Yes, I might just be talking about a new planner ordered from FranklinCovey, but certain standards must be upheld!!

Now that I have that off my chest, I must scurry home to see what new and exciting outdoor activities my neighbor has in mind.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cooking under pressure

Tonight I cooked another artichoke (yes, they were on sale at Costco). But instead of waiting the excruciating 45 minutes or so, I decided to pop it in the ol' pressure cooker, just like my mom used to do.

I borrowed the behemoth from work for this special task; and being unfamiliar with how this contraption worked, I needed to first do a little sleuthing online for instructions. Trim it up, add water, pop it in, lock the lid, turn up the heat.  Check and check. Easy peasy.

Soon it was rattling away and the haunting memories of my youth came hissing back. My mom only used this contraption occasionally and I learned to respect and fear it at the same time.  Anything that can turn bone into soft tissue in under an hour should be respected.  Hissing and rattling, we watched in awe expecting the giant silver time-bomb to explode at any second sending shards of molten metal and beef ribs into our tender little bodies.  

My mother's "STAY BACK!!" never went unheeded and served to bolster the terrifying effect of the steam engine pumping away on the stove. In fact, I stayed so far back that I continued to stay out of the kitchen for the next 20 years of my life.  I didn't really need to go in there to learn anything anyway. I had three older sisters who were perfectly happy to learn all of the diabolical and life-threatening secrets of preparing a home-cooked meal.

So, tonight everything was coming along just fine.  My son called me up to chat just when the timer went off.  I approached the pot with caution to turn the burner off, but I was perplexed about whether I should somehow lift it off of the hot stove to stop the rattling.  Instead, balancing the phone in the crook of my shoulder and a pot-holder in each hand, I managed to knock the pressure gauge thingy part way off of the steam nozzle. Steam started shooting sideways from the lid top (luckily not in my direction), and the noise was unbelievable.

"What in the world are you doing?" he shouts into the phone. "What is that awful racket?!"

"Oh, I'm just cooking in a pressure cooker," I respond more calmly than I felt.

"I didn't know you could cook tin foil and pennies in a pressure cooker," he yells over the hissing, clanging and sputtering. Frying turkey patties added to the harsh and chaotic symphony.

All ended well and the 'choke turned out perfectly. No one was injured in the preparation of this meal. The pressure cooker is going back to work tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Choking on memories

Last night, as I was carefully dissecting my dinner, I had a time-warp moment when I was hurled back to the past nearly 40 years: I was at the dining table with my family gathered all around.  I don't know if it happened because I am nearing the anniversary of losing my dad and sister, or because of the action that I was performing with my vegetable.

I was eating an artichoke.  Very carefully, I slowly and methodically peeled back each layer, scraped the underside of the leaf with my bottom teeth (same technique employed with an Oreo, by the way) claiming every soft morsel. I was "in the now" at this point, totally in sync with digesting my potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and dietary fiber.

Then I got to the hairy center and busted out my special moves on the choke.  I picked up my spoon, turned the back of the bowl up and with the tip of the spoon, very carefully and with precision, applied pressure near the edge of the fluffy core. 

This was the special moment that reminded me of meals with my family.  Using a skill taught to me by my patient father, at the lofty age of 10 I felt that I had perfected this method of hair-removal; steady pressure to separate the messy center from the heart, but with a light enough touch that I could see every impression left by each hair. I was so confident with my skill that I would leap from my chair, spoon in hand, asking to de-flock any vegetable that was handy.

Now, I sit in solitude contemplating my fuzzy navel, um heart. I miss those family times and am so grateful that I even had them. Holding my heart in my hand, I let the memories fill the empty chairs in my dining room.