Monday, December 23, 2019

Pressing Holiday Questions

I just want pose a few questions that have been puzzling me about the Night Before Christmas.

1. What exactly is a "sugar plum" and where can I get some?
2. Does anyone still wear kerchiefs? and aren't handkerchiefs un sanitary?

3. Is the correct verse "Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap" or "Had just settled down for a long winter's nap."? And is going to bed for the night really a "nap"?

4. Does anyone besides a window installer, house builder or window washer even know what a "sash" is? It sounds like a flowing scarf that some flamboyant queen might wear.

5. Does new-fallen snow have breasts?

6. This is a major question: Why would Saint Nick have a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer? And doesn't Rudolph make nine?

7. Why is the "little old driver" also "chubby and plump"?

8. How many toys could fit in the miniature sleigh which was "full of toys and St. Nicholas too"?

9. What exactly made St. Nicholas laugh? And was the bowl full of jelly or Jell-o?

10. Not a question, but in any case,
Merry Christmas!

And speaking of dangerous windmills:

Friday, December 20, 2019

My Hubby Has A Cool Job

How many people see LongHorn Sheep at the office? 

This herd of sheep was passing through Kasha Katuwe-Tent Rocks National Monument in New Mexico this afternoon. It was the first time hubby has seen this spectacle since joining the ranger staff almost four years ago.

Sometimes it's just refreshing to see the natural world carrying on as if nothing is happening of importance in the world of us humans. 

This would be fine if we weren't slowly destroying the natural world these beautiful creatures call home...that we too call home. 

Wishing you all a wonderful Holiday Season. May we find solace and peace and comfort in the beauty of nature and in the company of our loved ones. Peace.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

To Solve the Problem of Too Much Rain?

I don't usually post about the imposter in the White House but I had such a laugh when I read this transcript of his explanation of why he wants to change the EPA regulations regarding water conservation fixtures. It is hilarious to read, so long as you mentally suspend the reality that this man is really the president of the United States.(Link to JMG here). His words will go down in history:

Trump Complains About Toilets That “Take 15 Flushes”

“We have a situation where we’re looking very strongly at sinks and showers and other elements of bathrooms, where you turn the faucet on in areas where there’s tremendous amounts of water, where the water rushes out to sea because you could never handle it. And you don’t get any water. You turn on the faucet — you don’t get any water. They take a shower, and water comes dripping out, it’s dripping out very quietly, dripping out.
“People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So EPA is looking at that very strongly, at my suggestion. You go into a new building or a new house or a new home, and they have standards where you don’t get water. You can’t wash your hands, practically, there’s so little water comes out of the faucet. And the end result is you leave the faucet on, and it takes you much longer to wash your hands. You end up using the same amount of water.”
“So we’re looking at, very seriously, at opening up the standard, and there may be some areas where we’ll go the other route. Desert areas. But for the most part, you have many states where they have so much water that it comes down — it’s called rain — that they don’t know what to do with it. So we’re going to be opening up that, I believe. And we’re looking at changing the standards very soon.” – Donald J. Trump, alleged president of the United States.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Click for Full Pic

New Mexico 11/28/2019
 Six+ inches of snow at 9am and still coming down!

Three years ago we had Thanksgiving dinner al fresco on a neighbor's deck in 70 degree SUNSHINE!!!!
NOT What We Bargained For - Looks Like New England

Monday, November 25, 2019


On a ten-point scale of obsessive-compulsive I would rate myself a solid 6, maybe even a 7 and on some days a tad bit higher. I like my home and my surroundings, my checkbook and my emails, my computer files and my kitchen to be, if not pristine clean, at least organized and orderly.

I'm almost certain that keeping my environment free of clutter and in some semblance of order is, in part, a counterpoint to a world in chaos.

Most of the time I enjoy cooking; I do the grocery shopping and plan meals around which veggies I have on hand, and how I can best transform the leftovers from a Sunday meal into a Tuesday dinner. Cooking is what I do and I enjoy producing edibles from scratch: muffins, breads, pasta, pies, and entrees.

I am in the kitchen a lot and the only time of day that I really get cranky is when I'm preparing dinner and it's late and I'm tired and I haven't got my house in order - like there are dishes in the sink and laundry to fold, and I'm behind on all kinds of tasks, because I've been shopping in town or spent the whole day doing yardwork. The lack of order and organization makes me irritable and anxious, especially because it's my own fault that I am not superguy.

I can mostly keep my anxieties at bay by keeping my environment uncluttered and my routine predictable. I can be spontaneous of course, but it's usually best if I plan ahead for that eventuality.

And so it happened that last evening I was preparing a roast pork with fennel, onions and potatoes with asparagus for dinner with guests and making onion/mushroom soup for another meal (because the mushrooms were on their last day of freshness) and trying to take a moment to sit with the hubby and drink a glass of wine.

I went back to the kitchen to check the roast. I opened the drawer where I keep various odd kitchen utensils to grab the meat thermometer.

I didn't see it in the location in the drawer where I usually keep it. I needed that thermometer and I needed it now.

So I rustled through the cheese grater, the skewers, the chopsticks, the strainers, the knife sharpener, the electric mixer, the measuring cups, the micro-plane, the submersion blender, the pastry cutter, and a number of other miscellaneous items.

No meat thermometer.

And the drawer was now so disorganized I could feel my anxiety on the rise.

Confession: I took everything out of the drawer and threw it on the counter with as much slamming and crashing and assorted expletives as I could to demonstrate my frustration and anxiety.

A misplaced meat thermometer, an insignificant entity in the vastness of the universe and amidst all the violence and suffering and greed and chaos in the world at large, had disrupted my small, mostly orderly world and I lost it.

I put the roast back in the oven and went back to stirring the onions and mushrooms in the skillet, adding the white wine and searching two other drawers for the elusive meat thermometer.

There it was, among the spatulas and serving spoons, an illegal alien, in a place it did not belong. Helpful hubby had obviously been putting things away again.

One hundred forty degrees. The roast was not quite done. It went back in the oven, I turned off the flame under the onion/mushroom mixture and I went back to sip wine. The anxiety-anger toxins were still rushing through my bloodstream. It took a while to calm down.

The roast was tasty and dinner went well.

Later I put everything I had thrown on the counter back, each item in its proper location in the utensil drawer.

The world was still in chaos, but my drawer, my kitchen was back in order. I felt some semblance of relief.
Meat thermometer in lower left corner
But today I came to realize that we all must be feeling anxiety to some degree. And maybe we don't even realize it because it is ubiquitous and persistent.

From the barrage of news and information about politics and senseless gun violence, our subservience to our iPhones, the inconveniences of modern conveniences, the endless usernames and passwords we need in order to function, the absurd antics of celebrities, the islands of plastic in the ocean, the changing climate, the challenge of navigating through the looking glass, the sorting out of truths that are not true and lies that purport to be true and the very destruction of our democracy.

It's no wonder a misplaced meat thermometer in a world gone crazy can seem like a catastrophe.

Monday, November 18, 2019

My First Real Blog Post - February 2006

Friday, February 10, 2006

My Grandma

La Nonna

When Grandma said "You don' know-a nuthin' a yet" she usually meant that our young lives lacked a range of experiences that would teach important lessons and that, in time, we would live them and learn them. She would always add, (depending on her age at the time), "And I'm-a eighty years old-a and I don' know-a nuthin' -a yet." She had that Southern Italian accent that made her seem so ancient, so wise, so venerable. When once we questioned why she would say that even she knew nothing, Grandma told us a story that went something like this:

A long time ago in Italy there was an old woman who was dying. She had always been a very beautiful woman from the time she was young even until then in her old age. And because she was a good and devout woman she prayed, thanking God for a good life and good fortune, for her children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren. "Dio mio", she prayed, "I am dying and I am ready to join my husband and the saints in heaven. I thank you for sparing me the awful death of my sister's husband Salvatore, who was crushed by falling stones in the earthquake, or the unthinkable death of Zi' Maria who was burned in the fire so badly that her family could not know her face in the casket. I am thankful to be dying here, my body, old, but still without a blemish. Grazie, Dio." And after a little while she passed peacefully as the priest performed the rites and her family kept vigil.

The old woman's funeral began with a procession from her home to the church. In the hills of Calabria the churches were often built on the highest hill in town and have many stairs leading up to the entrance. And so it happened that while ascending the steep steps to the church, quite near the top, one of the pallbearers tripped and sent the rest of the men off balance as well. The casket was let go and went tumbling down the stone steps, expelling the body of the old woman, whose flesh was torn and whose bones were now broken and twisted from the mishap.

"You see-a," Grandma concluded her fable, "even aft-a you dead-a, you don' know-a nuthin'-a yet," thereby proving her hypothesis beyond further argument.

Was it just an obvious lesson? Even a good old woman can be guilty of hubris. I am reminded each day that at any moment, within the space of seconds, lives can be, and are, regularly altered, changed forever: either by personal folly or by fate, or because of the compulsions of others.

As I write this I reflect on whether it was by folly or fate that events conspired last week that may result in my losing my job. My life could be altered, changed significantly if I lose my job.

I see myself a kind of "post-existentialist" (is there such a thing?) and as having less in common with Satre than with Sophocles: my perceptions have shifted from the sense of being “thrown into a random world” to that of the world (or everyone else’s worlds) “being thrown at me" with an inevitability that defies randomness. Truly, at this moment, despite the double negative, “I don’t know nothing yet”.

My ancestors, more ancient than Grandma, sitting in amphitheaters at Paestum or Agrigentum understood the inevitability of fate as they experienced the pathos and tragedy of Oedipus dramatically portrayed: how the Scheme to thwart his fate as foretold by the oracle puts into motion the very events that lead inevitably to his fate's fulfillment. My folly and my fate may seem insignificant next to men who, like Oedipus, or presidents, wield power: men who are compelled by their own hubris to set events into motion; men who, unlike Oedipus, experience no angst or honesty. Will the gods take notice?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

MASH-UP: Trump’s al-Baghdadi Speech & Obama’s Bin Laden Speech

I just couldn't resist posting this. It's the first time our so-called president has made me laugh.


Monday, October 14, 2019

For What It's Worth - Go Ask Alice

Re: previous post:

I am not going to take a lot of time here to critique or defend Chuck Todd or Brian Tyler Cohen except to say that we are in vastly new territory when a a president of the United States  can make blatantly vicious accusations and speak outright lies as though they are truths and expect his words to be broadcast far and wide over every TV network and cable news station.

The issue is not whether the particular statement is newsworthy...the issue is that as president of these United States his words, once out of his mouth, truth or falsehoods, have real consequences and take on a reality of their own. He understands that his lies, even when they are fact-checked by multiple sources beyond any doubt, have already had the desired effect. It is an insidious tactic of a disingenuous narcissistic gaslighter - a person who, if he had ever been seriously vetted, would never have been a candidate, let alone a president.

"All the news that's fit to print" may still be a's just that much of what this president spews may no longer be deemed "fit to print" by a particular news outlet.

News organizations make choices daily about what news they will cover or report on. Freedom of the press ultimately involves making choices about what to report or not report and how to do so as well as editorializing.

In any previous reality, this all would likely not be an issue, but this current POTUS has catapulted us into a world where nothing is real, where there are "alternative facts" where science is considered an opinion, where truth no longer has meaning, where civility is not a virtue, where lies are equated with fact, and where words can incite violence. Should the president's vile language and insidious lies be given equal weight as a factual event?

This is new territory for us as well as for responsible news media. How does one report what is newsworthy without becoming a party to an intentional strategy of misleading and manipulating the citizens of this country?

What is "fit to print" or fit to broadcast. Should a video of a murder be broadcast because it is "news"?

We are in new territory and we are all learning how to navigate our way amongst the land mines and in a world where all the rules have changed or been discarded. I certainly don't have the roadmap nor the answers. But I do know that something must be done differently in order for all of us to return to some semblance of sanity and reason.

When Ellen DeGeneras can be severely criticized for being civil to George W. Bush and even more harshly castigated for her standing for her value of kindness...go ask Alice...

In related "news" see this link to Back 2 Stonewall

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Brian Tyler Cohen Comments: Chuck Todd's Perfect Response to Trump Rally

I purposely haven't been too political on this blog of late, but this, I think, deserves a post (even if you are not a big fan of Chuck Todd. Personally I think he is pretty good.)

Also, the video is a commentary by Brian Tyler Cohen which starts after the 1:30 mark.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Insomnia Bread: The Upside of a Sleepless Night

I’ve been having difficulty sleeping for longer than I can remember. The main reason seems to be a nagging discomfort when in a horizontal position. Every once in a while I get up and  make bread dough.  

Which is what I did Tuesday night (Wednesday morning) at 2 AM. 

I let the dough rise overnight in the fridge; took it out of the fridge around noon on Wednesday. Let it get to room temperature. Shaped it into rolls and one large loaf and let it rise again. Baked it at 425° and this is what I got.

I tell people there is no good Italian bread in New Mexico except of course at our house. 

Friday, October 4, 2019

If You Like Happy Endings and Need A Break From Reality

Saw the Downton Abby movie this week. This was maybe the 4th or 5th movie I've seen in a theatre in four years...worth the trip.

If you watched the series on PBS, it was like coming home to see old friends.

Beautiful cinematography, spectacular sets, fine acting, humor, drama, fantasy, escapism. Two hours away from current events.

I'm not sure how a liberal, working class, anti-oligarchy old guy like me can come to actually like the English aristocrats in Downton Abby but...well, their servants seem to like them pretty well. So I'm in good company. Recommended.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Goal Accomplished

I injured my Achilles tendon on my right foot back in December of 2017 on a hike up (or maybe it was coming down) Kasha Katuwe/Tent Rocks National Monument where my hubby is a Park Ranger. I had hiked it several times before, including that November when we had a guest visiting.

I, of course, didn't seek medical attention until well after exacerbating the injury by hiking the same trail again the following February. Long story short version: Primary care; insurance company approved  only x-rays; no bone injury; physical therapy; no real improvement; summer vacation 2018 in much pain after walking the beach; primary care; new insurance company now approves MRI; shows partially torn Achilles tendon and deteriorated ligaments; physical therapy; more physical therapy; about 90% improvement; more home exercises. 95% improvement with residual soreness almost daily in afternoon/evening after a day of walking, shopping, chores and gardening.

Which brings me one year and nine months after the injury to September 2019. My brother is visiting from Connecticut and my goal was to hike the Kasha Katuwe/Tent Rocks Trail with him and hubby Leon.

So yesterday was the appointed day.

I am thrilled to say that I did the entire trail which is rated moderate difficulty with a a few challenging areas. I am even more thrilled to say that I did not experience any real discomfort during, or especially after, the hike. Didn't even have the "residual soreness" that I've experienced daily.

I've posted pics before, but here are some from yesterday (September 20th 2019):

I went off to the trail's end while brother and hubby and a friend stayed on the mesa peak. Had a few minutes to contemplate and take in the scenery. I thought first about how fortunate and grateful I am to have such a loving, generous, forgiving, devoted man in my life. Leon is all those things to me and more. Sure, he has his faults as we all do. But it has been my fortune to know, love and share my life with him.

I considered the fact that I was on the top of a mesa, enjoying a beautiful sunny day and some pretty spectacular scenery and at the age of 71 am still able to do this. I guess a sense of gratitude was a recurring theme for me as I took in the view and knew that my hubby and I were there in some deeply connected way.

As much as I sometimes complain about the monotony of New Mexico's junipers and scrub brush and the putrid color of the rocks and dirt and the lack of ocean views and splashing waves...I must admit that being here has been good.

I am frequently reminded of, or jolted by, the thought that I am somewhere in the final act and will be around only so long as the playwright continues to find a story to tell before the final curtain. So....

Monday, September 16, 2019

A Beach Trip

My inclination is to wax philosophical about our recent trip to the California coast and to ruminate about beaches past.

But the well of words is running is it possible to wane philosophical?

So will I wane.

We arrived at Pacific Dunes RV Resort ("resort" is a stretch) on Labor Day after driving our truck with RV attached the 1000+/- miles through New Mexico, Arizona and the hot, empty part of California. I am embarrassed to say that Leon did 90% of the driving on the trip.

I am not entirely comfortable towing a camper, but I do it... and my limit behind the wheel is about three hours. I don't know how truckers drive for is SO boring.

I am a fidgety passenger...looking at maps, googling on the phone, munching, replenishing Benni's water bowl.

So we arrived and parked the rig, then went for a hike over the dunes to the Pacific which is the several mile long section of Pismo Beach State Park.

Unfortunately it was a holiday (the last time we were here it was a week after Labor Day) and the mass of heterosexual Americans were out being toxically masculine. 

This fact struck me as there was recently a study suggesting that the "cause" of homosexual "behavior" is not completely genetically determined. Which I thought was based an a totally flawed supposition (behavior vs orientation) and it was never asked whether heterosexuality is genetically determined.

Well all the (presumably) heterosexuals were out behaving as if they were genetically programmed to race ATVs, trucks and RVs as recklessly as possible along the beach making as much noise as traffic on an Interstate highway.

Do these people know what a quiet walk on the beach is?

I wasn't about to let the commotion stop me from getting my salt water "fix" so I did get in the water for a brief baptism. 

The thing that seems different about the West coast beaches is that they are not really "swimmable"; whereas on Cape Cod there are places sheltered somewhat from the open ocean where one can swim fairly comfortably. Notwithstanding recent shark attacks.

One excellent thing about California are the numerous and easy access to the beach and the ocean. We checked out a few of those access points, but were often disappointed with what we found. Although not typical, this beach at the Air Force base gave one something to philosophize about.

Seems the punishment for disturbing the plovers is more severe than for some crimes of violence against a human being.

Just a note that as far as clothing optional beaches go, Pirates Cove is so not-gay and so not-friendly; not like the old Moonstone Beach in Rhode Island or Sandy Hook in New Jersey or Boys Beach in Provincetown.
Leon at Pirates Cove
We went out to eat a few times, basically fish and chips joints. But one "splurge" dinner at Rosa's Italian restaurant was ostensibly to celebrate our 5th wedding anniversary, or our 31st day-we-met anniversary or 31st time-we-first-did-it anniversary or 29th move-in-together anniversary. Anyhow, really enjoyed it.
Linguine Tutti Mare

Just a few photos

Sept 6 2019 Pacific Dunes - (c) by Frank DeFrancesco

September 6th 2019 Pacific Dunes (c) Frank DeFrancesco
Benni in His (maybe) Prize-winning Portrait

Avila Beach - Best Dog-Friendly Beach Ever

Sand, Sun, Salt Water. Heaven.

 All content and photos (c) 2019 Frank DeFrancesco


Related Posts with Thumbnails