10-10-10

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Today’s date is one of those calendar quirks that numerologists would tend to associate with…something significant. To me it’s just another day, albeit a sunny, warm, October day with the leaf colors beginning to approach mid-point.

As I sat on my porch this morning, reading the Sunday funnies and pondering life through the colored backdrop of my neighbor’s oak tree, I wondered if at some point in the future I’d remember where I’d been on October 10th, 2010. Or if I’d remember I wondered about this oddity come November 11th, 2011. And so forth.

But in the end, just another good day to be alive and thinking. Don’t need the numbers to align just right to make this day any more special than every day.

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Embracing My Inner Plant

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I’m pondering a fairly radical lifestyle adjustment:  embracing my inner-plant and going vegetarian. A couple times in the past I tried this challenging choice with mixed success.It helps that I love vegetables, fruits, and nuts, and that I rarely eat beef, but on the dark side I’m quite fond of salmon, shrimp, chicken, and pork. Of course such a change would mean getting familiar with such plant family equivalents of the Addams Family as the oddball shown at right from my latest CSA haul. Never eaten kohlrabi (German turnip) before, but am about to figure out how to cook this alien-looking member of the cabbage family.

My driver is not an ethical one. Statistics are out there to confidently support all positions, but I’m feeling eliminating meat (and eventually dairy) will significantly help some health issues I’m dealing with, and be of great help to losing weight, a long-term demon/monkey I’ve dealt with (among other benefits).

It’s not a path for everyone, and still pondering whether it’s the right one for me. I will likely start with a 2/5 approach that’s popular these days (two days vegan, five days usual). Whichever path I take, you’ll likely hear about it here on inkmusings, along with photos of the journey. Which begs an answer to this perplexing question:  if one says “cheese” when photographing people, what’s the smile-inducing trigger word when posing rutabaga? “Compost?”

Do Squirrels Dream (of days off)?

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It’s a glorious day in my small Ohio town:  clear blue skies, slight breeze, 70°, leaves beginning to change colors. I picked a great day to take off and wander in nature…if I didn’t have a list longer than my arm to accomplish today. I’m planing on a three-day weekend to jump-start back into house fix-up mode and make some progress, so will have to work extra hard today to avoid the temptation to just take off.

But first I have some errands to run, which will conveniently place me outside on this glorious day. Plus, as I write this, I’m still in my bathrobe and sitting on the porch, enjoying the weather. I think sleeping late, and a definite reluctance to get out of jammies is de rigueur when it comes to day-offness. The remainder of my morning will let check a few things off the refrigerator list:  driver’s license change of address, drop fireplace trim panels off at the machine shop to be cut down, library. And then the afternoon beckons with painting a couple of doors, the hall linen drawers I’d primed two months ago, vinegar-boiling more hardware to strip away 90 years of grime, and countless other goodies if I have time left over.

No question it will be hard today to avoid one of my favorite day-off past-times:  sitting in a coffee shop or cafe in the middle of the afternoon knowing I normally, at that time of day, am crunching numbers or analyzing resource impacts in my cube at work. Which brings me back to Mr. Squirrel. What does he do on his day off? Does he visit the neighborhood cat and not taunt him (one of his daily chores), or sit under the big oak tree and not gather nuts? Every day’s a working day to a squirrel, but happily I can enjoy and relish my human Friday off.

Decadence

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Friday night defined decadence: dinner at Revolver. Travelers to our little town have remarked that this restaurant could keep up with the best in LA or Chicago or most anywhere. Hard to be believe we have a cuisine-hip restaurant in our little Ohio town, but we do.

What drove me to indulge my tastebuds tonight? A milestone? Personal goal reached? Birthday? Nah, I had a balance on a gift certificate expiring tonight. And before you think I’m super thrifty, I should confess I spent twice what the certificate balance was before I finished. But it was more than worth it.

Preparing my tastebuds for the delights ahead began with a nice, cold Sierra Nevada Tumbler Autumn Brown Ale along with some complimentary sparkling water. The menu changes frequently, depending on what’s available locally. Revolver focuses on using local and near-local foods, in season, and either organic or at least raised/grown clean. Takes extra effort, but it pays off. Very cool supporting a localvore establishment.

One of their nice touches is to serve small, palate-cleansing appetizers throughout the meal. They started me off with a watermelon soup with thyme garnish. Quite interesting blend of unexpected flavors. A cold soup, somewhat resembles gazapacho but not chunky nor spicy. As you can tell by the photo, it truly is “just a taste.” Between my salad and entree I relished a hot-out-of-the-oven sofadermil (NOT the correct spelling but at least it’s phonetic).

To start off, I had the organic green salad with beets, buttermilk dressing on a slab of blue cheese, garnished with nuts. Wonderful blend of flavors, and being a huge fan of blue cheese, heavenly.

My main dish was the grilled, hoisin-glazed kurobuta pork chops, accompanied by roasted sweet potato slivers and pan-toasted edamame. I’m drooling writing this while remembering how the flavors worked wonderfully together. One thing about Revolver’s meats is that they cook them perfectly, which means for my pork, still a little juicy and very slightly pink.

And for dessert? Revolver is known for their interesting creme brulee combinations and this time I had their butternut squash creme brulee. Ummmm. The smooth butternut puree topped by the broiled sugar-shell. Delightful.

As I walked away after my decadent meal, I wondered if I could stop going out to my usual places like Panera’s and instead save up for an occasional Revolver fix. Might take avoiding three or four meals out, but well worth it. You could ask my tastebuds, but as I write this after my meal, they’re still blissing out.

Fall Signs

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My favorite time of the year is here once again. Autumn brings renewal, refocus, and the reminder to pull out and clean heavier clothing. For all the beauty autumn brings, it does so only briefly, giving way to winter (my second favorite season) sooner than I’d like. Brief or not, it’s a marvelous time to spend outdoors.

Here in Northwest Ohio colors are beginning to peek out here and there. Fall is a relatively short season, and if one isn’t mindful of the days, hours, and minutes, it’s easy to miss the transformations. Having spent 35 years in Texas, where fall colors are best seen in a book, after a long airplane ride, or earned via a long drive (Lost Maples State Park comes to mind). I have some glorious photos taken there pre-digital, and one of these days I need to try to scan and share them. I’m sure a good portion of New England’s leaf peepers come from the Lone Star State.

Fall is a great time for leisurely strolls, sweater weather, rustling leaves, and visual delights from Mother Nature. After a warm summer, we’re all ready to slow down and take a few deep breaths. The temperature shifts, vegetation thinking of sleep, and the light shifts that signal our bodies to start the renewal process. Pay attention and the autumnal glories can calm the inner self and set up for winter’s cocoon.

I live in a small town where Main Street’s old, beautiful houses are surrounded by trees that choregraphically burst into color every year. If the weather’s been right, enough rain but not too hot, it’s a glorious sight…at least for a few weeks. Add to that treat are my planned color day-trips, one south to Hocking Hills mid-October, and one north into Michigan late October. If I time it right, they both should provide good opportunities to deplete my digital camera batteries. Meanwhile, there’s plenty to see locally, and in a few weeks that other treat of the season should appear: pumpkin pie. With whipped cream (of course).

Good and Bad

Fall Colors

Bounty

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CSA signToday was my bi-weekly pickup for my member share of one the local CSAs (community supported agriculture). I wanted to try a CSA last year, but they had no local drop spot then, and grabbing my bounty would have meant a 30 minute drive each way. Plus they had only full shares available last year, which would have complexed things by making it a weekly run. Not to mention scoring more veggies than I could probably deal with.

This year, I’m on a single share, reaping the rewards bi-weekly of lots of volunteer’s efforts in growing and harvesting a wide assortment of nature’s goodies. I never know what’s on the list each pickup, but the surprise is definitely part of the intrigue. I’ve given away probably a third of my share each time, owing to a long-term dislike of a few veggies (e.g., onions and I don’t dance well together).

CSA veggies

My particular CSA is the Seeds of Hope Farm, located outside TIffin, Ohio, and is part of the Franciscan Earth Literacy Center. Good people, good cause. While not certified organic, they grow chemical free and clean. The operation relies heavily on volunteers, and connecting to the community through these volunteers is one of their objectives. They do have working shares where one can dirty hands dirty and earn veggies, but I chose the gentleman farmer route which gives others the chance to play in the soil.

Now my challenge is what to fix first for dinner! A tasty predicament, for sure.

When Patience Runs Out

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I’m a tolerant fellow. I tend to give my fellow man or woman the benefit of the doubt. But as I write this at 2:20 a.m. on a Sunday morning, even my patience has run out.

My neighbor’s dogs have been barking for over an hour and a half. And this isn’t the first time they’ve set to letting the world know they exist via their voices. In this instance, the owner hasn’t been home all weekend, and the dogs have been singing pretty constantly since Friday afternoon. He left the dogs out in the back yard to do their thing the whole weekend. And judging by the odiferous waft, no one’s been around to clean up after them either.

So about 90 minutes ago I called the cops. And in standing out front talking to the office that responded, I discovered several other neighbors called as well. I enjoy sidewalk small talk with my (good) neighbors, but not at 2:20 a.m. on a Sunday morning! Apparently things are in the works (one is in process of filling a civil suit) to resolve the long-standing problem. Sigh. I dislike being one to trample on another fellow’s freedoms, but that’s what barking dog ordinances are for I suppose.

Maybe this will kick the neighbor into resolving the problem, or he’ll likely lose his dogs. Either way, at least those of us living near by can get some sleep (with our windows open!).

Epochalyptic Blues

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Today marks one of the epochal moments during my lifetime. Moments like the one connected to today’s date become ones we’ll likely remember for all our days: where we were, what we were doing, and most probably what we were thinking at the time. For me in my lifetime, three moments qualify:  JFK’s assassination, landing on the moon, and 9/11.

I was a mere child of 10 for the first, yet I still have crystal clear memories of that November day. Odd that at such a point of intense stimulation, the mind locks in the minutia, intent on engraving in granite-like certainty. I clearly had no faculty to comprehend the political ramifications, but ironically enough I was living in Cuba at the time (Guantanamo Bay to be exact), and those up on their history know the Castro-Kennedy issues during the early ’60s. I was in my classroom and remember the dire announcement over the speaker, and the aftermath of a room of 10-year-olds falling silent with the only the soft sobbing of our teacher disturbing the silence. This epochal moment in my experience was but a snapshot of time frozen. I don’t recall much of the aftermath the next day, week or month, particularly whether my parents reacted or any sensation that anything around me changed.

The second event opened a wide door into technological imagination and wonders, and I believe from the moment I watched the grainy footage of Neil Armstrong’s “one step for mankind” I fell to technology’s gravitational pull. I wonder how many wanna-be astronauts that moment spawned in America’s youth, but again, another moment indelibly etched in my consciousness.

The last, in my mind and likely other’s, is the most insidious of my trio. We as a nation felt the full anxiety and fear of being invaded, a sensation foreign to American living memory. And while there was ultimately no widespread invasion, at least in the physical sense, I believe all us wondered if our building was next, our town, our beloveds. Of the three, 9/11 was an epochal moment in the true sense of the word. From that day forward our country began a slow-paced decline we continue to see eroding away to this day. Not a decline in terms of reduction, but one of unwanted change and unacceptable yet undeniable consequences.

We’ve lost more things since that day than any country and its people should have to endure: personal freedoms, fiscal responsibility from our leaders, common sense in military actions, world respect, sanity, religious tolerance, outrage over American deaths in foreign lands (why do the deaths have to be on our soil before we have collective rage?), and the hope that our children will have / see a better world than we did. One could argue some aspects of this list existed before 9/11, and go no further back than the ’60s Vietnam conflict, demonstrations, and civil unrest for an example. But not quite on the scale that 9/11 began…or is it? I have difficulties sensing whether the truth of all this exists in the reality of the facts presented. The media of the last decade has so bombarded the collective consciousness that much of what seems real may indeed have been and continue to be manufactured to purpose.

Marshall McLuhan once said, “All media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values.” He was, of course, speaking more towards the hijacking of our sensibilities for the greater cause of advertising and ensuing greed…or was he? In a slight blur of meaning, one could say the media can be terroristic based on the outcome it manifests. In our modern age it seems unfairly challenging to separate facts from fiction, to find the truth written between the lines of news, and to reach a personal understanding that makes sense of what’s happening in the world.

So on this national day of significance, I’m going to suspend the doubts and instead choose to embrace the remembrance of those Americans who lost their lives, their loved ones who suffer, and the continued hope that sanity will, at some point, return to the world, and peace-love-harmony will have a chance to become our new reality.

The Waiting Game

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I am not, in an measurable manner, making progress against the demon procrastination. If there were a contest for best living example of avoiding the obvious, I could well be a contender. It’s not that the spirit isn’t willing, more the body isn’t caring.

After spending an energetic six weeks working on remodeling the house, my recent bout of tendonitis in my handed hand has me sidelined, with orders to avoid the hand, except for essentials, for at least a month…if not more. Rembrandt without his brushes. Shakespeare without his pen. A new homeowner without a cause. All of those are, unfortunately and hopefully temporarily, me.

While I am making use of the downtime by catching up on reading, an activity on which I’d gladly spend unlimited times in most cases, it’s frustrating to be artificially sidelined, especially with winter approaching where reading and relaxing are considered sport and house remodeling demands hibernating. Right now, in the prime of the weather, I should be painting. And carpentering. And other assorted domicile enhancements.

So I continue day by day, thinking it’s a good opportunity to restart the writing program, the blog, the list of ebook titles, the half-finished novel, etc., etc., yet not able to break away from the miasmic quagmire that keeps me fiddling with rather than finessing my waiting writing list. Maybe the nice change to cool weather we’re currently enjoying will help invigorate me. Or maybe putting these thoughts out into public space will sufficiently shame me into action. Or not.

It is what it is.