Saturday, November 18, 2017

FROM OUR HOUSE TO YOURS




Am I nuts?!
I've just shopped up and down our grocer's
aisles in preparation for Thanksgiving. And
I can't help but marvel at how very different
our feast must be from others. The end caps
are loaded with what most must consider key
holiday staples. And what's obvious is that
most prefer mass processed foods, none of
which will be on our table. Is this culinary
schism proof of "us and them"? How can
our tried and true traditions be so different?
Non-pasturized
Our family loves imported cheeses. The
stinkier, odder, and older, the better!
Processed
Apparently everyone's having a ball given
an orb of "dairy product" is America's fave.
Whether made in a Hickory Farms factory
or hand crafted at home, this smooth yet
savory orb rolled in chopped pecans spreads
smoothly on a Townhouse, Ritz, or Wheat
Thin! So why not go on a roll this holiday?
Fresh
As previously noted, our turkey is fresh.
While not organic, it will also be raised
free range sans hormones or antibiotics.
Frozen
For most a rock hard Butterball is the
ultimate! While my favorite part of a
turkey is the dark meat, many seem to
have an aversion to the most moist and
tasty part of the bird. Hence many just
roast and serve the turkey's breast. One
can even opt for a pre-cooked Butterball.
And some will even foist tofurkey upon
their unsuspecting guests. FOWL PLAY!
Dressing 
This year I'm doing pancetta and mushroom
dressing. The perfect foil to our fresh fowl.
Stuffing 
For some a hot heap of steaming Stove Top
Stuffing is the ultimate of holiday fare. Most
Americans no longer stuff their bird. Rather
they open a box, empty a pouch, boil some
water, and mix in pre-seasoned bread cubes.
Most consider said savory chemical slurry
the stuff to die for. Which just may happen!
Mashed
I peel, boil, then mash my taters with lots
i.e. tons of butter and HEAVY CREAM.
Whipped
We're all busy and who wants to bother
peeling or whipping it out. Exhausted or
lazy, theres nothing easier than popping
open a box of Hungry Jack potatoes. Just
add hot water and margarine to create a
potato potion. Watch dehydrated dust be
reconstituted into silky spud-like fluff!
Organic 
We plan to oven roast organic ruby yams and
serve them smothered in imported Irish butter.
Candied
Apparently the rest of you will be dishing up
a heaping helping of canned yams combined
with canned mixed fruit which is smothered
with mini marshmallows. Post bubbling and
broiling in the oven any nutritional benefit
magically evaporates prior to serving. Now
ALL will eat their veggies! How sweet it is!
Home made
What could be easier than boiling fresh
cranberries, sugar, and water into a gel?
Canned 
Well... actually... most of Americans prefer
to open a can and slid out some strained
cranberry sauce. I must admit I love said
tangy circular slices of congealed puree.
Some households even have special plates
designed to perfectly hold a ribbed log of
jellied splendor. And don't forget that the
holidays are all the more fun when there
is a fruit at your table. It's swell to gel!
Roasted
At our house, Brussels sprouts are oven
roasted then drizzled with a liberal dose
of organic maple syrup. How chic!
Baked
The most popular of Thanksgiving menu
traditions is any version of the green bean
casserole. Canned or frozen "french cut"
green beans are combined with canned
Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup and
then topped with canned Onion Rings. This
is one beloved casserole that frankly I just
don't understand. However why not try
something new this holiday? CAN CAN!
Real
Due to limited time and patience we're
having someone else bake our pies this
year. However they will be smothered
in fresh hand whipped organic cream.
Faux
It's fascinating to see how many people
grab a pumpkin or apple pie off the table
at the grocer. While mass produced they
are really not that bad. What amazes me
that rather than grab a can of Rediwhip,
many opt to spoon Cool Whip from a tub.
No matter the froth, it's all chemicals. So
be thankful for a host who whips it out!

Friday, November 17, 2017

I once was lost but now am found...


Easy does it
This talk about weirdos trolling malls makes
me wonder. Let's assume that those good ole
"Christians" down south are right. And that
even though Roy Moore might have sinned
in the past - he was made "white as snow"
post his conversion to fundamentalism. The
question is does such a transformation make
him any less creepy? Or is that proof that he
is too weak to battle his own demons let alone
defend us against the same. For decades the
gentleman in question has valiantly fought
for "Christian values." Yet one can't help but
wonder what his motivation is. Mea culpa?
Rallying cry
I'm somewhat of an expert on fundamentalism.
My parents were raised Episcopalian like most
anglo-saxon New Yorkers of their ilk. However
during their rebellious teens - both shifted over
to a popular Presbryterian church in Manhattan.
One with an active and engaged youth ministry.
It is there that they met and subsequently fell in
love. Post marrying religion played a nominal
role in their lives. That is until 1957 when they
attended a Billy Graham mega crusade held at
Yankee Stadium. It was there that they were
"saved." Causing them to subsequently live the
rest of their lives as fundamentalist christians.
Old time religion
Which led to my upbringing within two uber
conservative fundamentalist Baptist churches.
Hence my childhood Sundays were spent at
Sunday school, morning worship, youth group,
and evening services. Every Wednesday we
trotted back to church for a prayer meeting.
In between my parents attended a plethora of
meetings and bible studies. While I spent my
Fridays and Saturdays in the company of the
children of fellow parishioners. For the most
part it was a lovely life. That is as long as one
followed the Bible LITERALLY. There was
no room for questions or... rebellion.
Instant gratification
Whatever god they follow, fundamentalists are
all the same. Dogma dictates exactly how every
member should think, look, and act. Hence it
provides a stringent framework within which
to live one's life. One that provides reassuring
clarity, checks, and balances. Within such a
context one never has to think for themselves.
That's because somebody else already has all
of the answers - and in theory got them direct
from GOD. Which takes the pressure off any
"sinner" who chooses to join the flock. Post
handing over past transgressions to God they
think they're no longer culpable. Tabula rasa.
Rules of engagement
Sadly such a dictatorial approach to life does
not permit exceptions to said rules. Dictums
and diatribes only offer solace to those who
prefer to hide from rather than confront their
demons. Strict sects attract those willing to
do anything except embrace the truth. Such
refuges of redemption should act as centers
of love and inclusion. Sadly most encourage
hatred and exclusion. Few if any can adhere
to such strict membership criteria long term.
Hence when a member falls from grace they
have NO choice but to hide the facts rather
than risk losing their spiritual safety net.
A wolf in sheep's clothing
So how did Judge Roy Moore hide his dark past
for several decades? Cloaked in fundamentalist
armor - he thought that he could do no evil. As
a child of God he assumed he was guaranteed
absolution no matter the crime. And considered
anybody who dared question his behavior or
challenge his authority to be the devil incarnate.
Yet still the truth found him out. Which to his
chagrin exposed his false witness which he has
frequently leveraged to his advantage. Therefore
we shouldn't be surprised by Roy's denials. In
his mind he has a God-given right to do as he
chooses. Even when it's fundamentally wrong.
Heaven on earth?
Having been raised a fundamentalist - I know
where they're coming from. But what I can't
understand is why they continue to stay there
against all odds. Confronted by exceptions to
their rules - families reject their gay, addicted,
divorced, or compromised relations. And what
in the name of God is more wrong than that?!
Rather than hide from reality - shouldn't faith
in action be all about discovering the truth?
If one truly believes in a higher being then
our world's diversity of thought, orientation,
race, color, and creed are God given rights.
So rather than hide - seek and ye shall find!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE


Not older... better
One of the benefits of being on the east coast
is it's historical context. Those who have lived
before us if nothing else left a swath of debris
behind them. Thus in an area with roots back
as far as the 17th century there's lots of flotsam
and jetsam just waiting to be rediscovered. And
it's the very idea of finding a treasure for nada
that makes "Antiques Road Show" so popular.
However my love for old things has nothing to
do with their financial value. Rather I simply
adore objects with more than a bit of mileage
on them. Which may explain why I continue
to think that Frank is so damned handsome!

Historical preference
Given I love a bit of patina I tend to embrace
the concept that "one man's trash is another's
treasure." However within the process of a
treasure hunt, I struggle with separating the
wheat from the chaff. Hence I rarely "score"
at thrift shops, antique stores, or garage sales.
Within such a cluttered context I can't see the
bargains for the barrage. Whereas I'm much
more successful at an organized estate sale
or better yet properly presented auction. One
where each item is placed and priced within
a semblance of order. Which insures that this
lover of all things old buys something "new."

Few and far between
Theres a reason why there is less of the good
stuff out west. A community like Lewistown
Montana wasn't settled until the 1870s. And
those who settled here had to travel an awfully
long way to hit home. Meaning that whatever
they owned was edited to a bare minimum for
such a journey. Such a lack of legacy created
a context where new was better than old. Thus
one has to truly hunt and peck for anything old
that has true value. Whereas back east, people
have no problem dumping their past at the curb.
Or dropping it off at some charity shop. They'll
do anything to get rid of the stuff! PURGE!
Past imperfect
Most folks have no idea of what they have.
Ignorance is bliss for those who benefit from
other's lack of detail. Family circumstances
insure that each of us grows up surrounded
by other's possessions. For some said items
take on importance of mythic proportions.
Given family folklore is rarely true, many
a Tiffany vase is appraised as a dime store
tchotchke. However historical context can
also cloud one's vision. Which is why many
offspring view their parent's possessions as
emotional baggage rather than very valuable
commodities. So... OUT WITH THE OLD!

Garbage in - garbage out
Our home is filled with such castoffs. It's
a recycling center given it all came from
somebody else's house prior. Mixed in are
a few items from each of our pasts. Which
spark a gut reaction as we see them. Given
beauty is in the eye of the beholder, often
I wonder what will happen to our goodies
when suddenly we're hit by a truck. Will
those left behind have any idea of what all
of our crap is actually worth? Or could the
sheer volume of it alone inspire a quick fire
drill that fills several dumpsters? Leaving
someone to rediscover our past in the trash.
Now and then
All the more reason to enjoy what you have
here and now. We use everything in our home
on a fairly frequent basis. Protecting objects
behind closed doors does nobody any good.
Part of living in the here and now is honoring
the past by enjoying another's former prized
possessions. Such a cycle insures that their
legacy lives on. I've no idea where most of the
contents of my great wall of china originated.
Nor where all of it will end up once I'm out of
the picture. However one thing will be certain.
Which is that this avid "collector" will enjoy
them all while they were in my possession.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

CONNECT THE DOTS


Roundabout theater
If you're like me - at times even the best of us
can be rather dense. The truth is sitting right
before us. There in all it's glory lay the facts.
Yet for whatever reason we're unwilling to
connect the dots. That is until someone who
you really trust simply tells you the truth.
It's at a time like that when one finally "gets"
what friends are for. Fortunately most of us
rarely have to travel such a circuitous route.
Normally we face our demons and then...
move on. However for some rejecting the
truth is their preferable coping mechanism.
Hence America is in a state of denial.
Blind leading the blind
It's been often said that cheaters never prosper.
Yet how many of us have a friend who's not
so better half is playing any field but theirs?
Years ago a friend's husband was not exactly
faithful. Repeatedly he hit upon those within
our immediate social circle. However for a
plethora of rather foolhardy reasons, nobody
had the guts to tell her what was happening.
She was exceptionally smart and successful
with proven 20/20 vision. Thus rather than
being blindsided - she opted to turn a blind
eye to her husband's wandering eye. She just
didn't want to deal with it. And so she didn't...
Face time
At face value such a decision may seem noble.
However given that everything in life comes
full circle - at some point the truth will find us
all out. Secrets are rarely kept longterm. Our
lies bubble and boil beneath life's surface like
some ominous plague waiting to attack. Such
an insidious specter taints one's ability to enjoy
life. Living on a tight rope straddling fact and
fiction is tenuous at best. Mostly because at any
moment, something could easily push one over
the edge. Which only is further proof that it's
best to deal with life's challenges here and now.
BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!
Balancing act
Naivety can be quite enjoyable. But it seems
that such blithe spirit only works with youth.
Slowly but surely as we live and learn most
can't escape every day trials and errors. Hence
living in a self imposed haze is an exercise in
futility. No amount of smoke and mirrors can
ever hide the evil that lurks within the hearts
of many. So while an obtuse stance seems to
work short term - it's guaranteed that the truth
will find you out. And trust me friends... karma
is a bitch just waiting to slap the shit out of you.
So why wait? Why try to defer the inevitable?
Go ahead... rip off life's bandaid NOW!
Clowning around
Washington DC is a swirl of subterfuge,
innuendo, and outright lies. While some
deem this as politics as usual I can't but
wonder if this mess couldn't have been
avoided. What if everyone just did the
right thing the start? In other words told
the truth and behaved in an honorable
manner. Might such a stance have helped
us avoid the boomerang of retribution that
now attacks the heart of our democracy?
One can't help but wonder what it would
be like to solve our real issues instead of
avoiding the obvious? WHAT A JOKE.
Pop goes the weasel
One can escape to the orient. But Inevitably
at some point one must return to the scene of
their crimes. One can point fingers at all but
their self. Yet ultimately one must own their
past, present, and future. Slowly the TRUTH
finds us out. And like a ticking bomb... those
in denial ultimately self implode. However in
order for them to get what they deserve, true
justice must take it's course in due time. So
we patiently wait for the time when we can
finally connect the dots. And know who did
what where and when. Only then will these
United States of America be able to move on.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL



Hands on experience
Since the revelations of sexual misconduct
started weeks ago I've remained silent on
the subject. In part because I frankly felt
quite conflicted about said accusations.
As a gay man, I've maneuvered a sexual
subtext that can be anything but subtle in
it's overtures. However as a male whose
closest friends are women - I'm repulsed
by the obvious and unwanted aggression
of heterosexual males upon those who they
deem to be the "weaker sex." Frankly I've
been conflicted about the shocking news.
And confused as to how exactly to respond.
Sorry but you're mistaken 
Physically forcing oneself on another is a
criminal act. But is emotional aggression
a different matter? Voiding boundaries of
decorum and civility is part of the dance
of the sexes. Rarely does one get a verbal
invitation to connect. Instead two people
join together in a mystical way. Often no
words are spoken. The problem is when
one assumes that the other is interested
and they're NOT. Or that fame or power
entitle them to whomever they want. Such
presumptive acts are wrong. A violation of
an other's space. So why am I struggling?
Indecent exposure
Few condone pigs who masturbate before
innocent bystanders. Nor offer absolution
for those who make sexual advances at the
office. Who knows why grown men crave
relationships with teenagers let alone grab
whatever they can get their hands on. And
hung juries aside drugging someone so to
pounce is most certainly a criminal offense.
I consider all of the above beyond shocking,
distasteful, and wrong. Yet I can't help but
wonder how power, fame, and politics play
a role in all of these recent revelations. Does
asking such a question make me equally evil?
Double trouble
To be clear - I'm not making any excuses for
the error of men's ways. But if I'm honest, I
have to say "there for the grace of God go I."
You see, at times I've had too much to drink.
Or allowed myself to be led astray from life's
primrose path. Occasionally I've pushed the
boundaries of propriety. Given my frequent
use of the double entendre - I'm certain that
things were said that shouldn't have been.
Therefore I'm certain that at times my words
or deeds have offended someone. And whose
haven't?! Are we all certain that we've never
made a misstep? Or sent mixed messages?
Just say no
Clearly there is a difference between good and
evil. However the definition of each can differ
according to the individuals involved. Hence
sexuality and the interaction of two people is
rarely as black and white as some would have
us believe. One thing is certain which is that
NO means NO. And once said line is drawn in
the sand - any attempt to continue on is a crime.
My quandary is when for whatever reason the
object of unwanted affection opts to not decline
in a clear or quite forceful manner. Should such
acquiescence in some way make them culpable
for what happens next? How dare I ask that?!
Unfair advantage
Having struggled with this issue I come to this
conclusion. A lack of equality is the real culprit
in these crimes. Predators pursue victims they
deem weaker. Thus boys will be boys in a world
where women are systematically oppressed. Our
collective challenge is not bad behavior alone.
Rather it's the fact that such male dominance is
not only condoned but often exonerated by our
male dominated society. Thus if we want such
offenses to stop - we are going to have to do
more than point fingers at those who are caught
with their pants down. Together we must change
our world for the better. One plus one equal US.
Common decency
What am I saying? Men and women are equals.
Which means that every aspect of our daily
existence must be played upon an even field.
Sadly there are many more dirty deeds done
on a daily basis than the indiscretions of some
groping ghouls. Women are paid less for the
same work. At both the workplace or home
men maintain preemptive status. As proven
by the allegations - men feel they have the
right to take whomever they want. Hence the
only way to stop sexual aggression is to end
sexual discrimination. Gender equality. In all
aspects of life. In every way. At all times!

Monday, November 13, 2017

COFFEE KLATCH




Rise and shine?
Try as I might, I simply can't sleep in.
Every morning my body clock rings
around 5 a.m.  Apparently this timing
designates me as a "morning person".
However the fact is that I'm not fully
functional until at least several hours
post arising. Like most men I live a life
of ritual. My mornings are spent writing
this blog, reading other's blogs, dealing
with my voluminous e-mail, and finally
catching up via Facebook and Linkedin.
What's amazing is that somehow I do
all of this in a complete and utter haze.
Ready, set...
Sad as it may be, I simply am not fully
functional before I've had several cups
of java. This magical elixir is one of
the few things in my life I truly rely
on. Every day begins in the same way.
I stagger to my computer to power up.
Next I feel my way into the kitchen and
put on the kettle. then grind the beans,
load up the french press, and wait until
the whistle blows. After I add water it
steeps for five minutes. Then finally,
I fill my cup, sip the brew, and start
anew. Wake up and smell the coffee!
On a lighter note
Coffee used to be easy. Today
I wonder at of those complex
formulae folks ramble off at
Starbucks. I long for those days
when you ordered black, regular
(cream & sugar), or light (cream
only). Upon moving to Chicago
I realized said terminology was
uniquely New York. Thus I got
a blank stare when ordering it
"light" as those pouring it out
thought I meant diet. When all
I craved was coffee with cream!
The dark side
It's been said that "once you go black
you never go back." Well in reality,
I must concur. For the first half of my
adult life I took my coffee with cream.
Then one day I decided to drink it
black. Since then I've fully embraced
sipping my java in it's purest form.
Let me be clear, I ADORE cream.
Much like butter I use it liberally and
always have a quart in the fridge. Yet
my change in orientation was not due
to lactose intolerance. Rather I simply
decided to go over to the dark side...
No substitutions
It baffles me that some people seem
to be able to function without a hot
cup of coffee. I've known my share
of Coke, Pepsi, and Tab-aholics. For
them the pop of a can top opening is
equally as exciting as the bubble of
a percolator. My dad was addicted
to his morning pot of White Rose tea
- no fancy stuff for him. We all have
our foibles and routines. Explanation
as to why our mornings are truly all
about each of us getting into the day's
groove. The blind leading the blind...
Snooze button
Fortunately I'm a sound sleeper.
At least I thought so until I was
told I snore. This noisy result of
sleep apnea, it apparently leads
to sleep deprivation. So while
I may be in bed for eight hours,
the benefits of my snooze may
be less. Is that the reason that
I wander the house every a.m.
like a sleep walker? Somehow
I've been able to avoid the sleep
clinic. Proof that my better half
is either very patient or deaf!
Wake up call
The older one gets, the harder it is to
start each day. Rather than the dawn
of opportunity, it's feels like a repeat
performance. We should hop out of
bed and run several miles. But given
my track record, that's never going to
happen! Late in life my Mother had
a gal named Suzy who helped her get
started every sunup. Is that what this
old man needs?  One thing is certain,
unless my sunrise serenader is George
Clooney nobody will get a rise out of
me before nine o'clock in the morning!