The Mid-Morning Treat

My wife made us energy balls yesterday. You’re probably familiar with some variation. Her no-bake recipe is peanut butter, dark chocolate chips, and oatmeal rolled up in a ball about one and a quarter inches in diameter. They’re about a two bite for me, so they’re a perfect little treat to have with a banana in the middle of the morning. I mean, banana, peanut-butter, and chocolate? That’s an awesome flavor combo.

Ha, ha, I kid. I love it but I know many don’t. One thing you learn quickly in life that the foods you love and hate aren’t the foods that everyone loves and hates. Example: raisins. My wife can’t stand raisins. I love raisins. Give me a cinnamon oatmeal raisin cookie, and I’ll be wagging my tail day into night.

No, not my wife. They disgust her. (smh). Meanwhile, she eats prunes every day. We both do. Lot of benefits to prunes, and they have a great flavor. I tell her, “Prunes taste a lot like giant raisins,” just to watch her reaction. Lips tight, she shakes her head in horror and denial.

She’s a big fig fan. Paul Newman Fig Newmans are our go-to grocery store cookie buy, but the wife loves fresh figs. Her eyes light up when we encounter them at the store. The price conversation then follows. “They’re so expensive.”

I shrug. “It’s just money. We have that money. Buy them.”

“Will you eat them, too?”

“Yes.” I do enjoy fresh figs as well.

“Okay, if you’ll eat them, too. Promise me you will.”

“I promise.”

I will eat one or two, to live up to my promise. She gets the rest.

Anyway, off to enjoy my treat (banana, peanut butter, and dark chocolate, remember?). Then I’ll wash it down with coffee.

Yeah, go ahead. Judge me.

A Writing Conference Dream

Fun dream. Happy, satisfying, and rewarding.

I was at a huge writing conference somewhere. Fair weather and a seaside location favored us. Though staying onsite, I’d rented a silver Ford Mustang to run around.

We were there to write novels. The intriguing aspect was that after I’d finished my novel, the other participants were able to live it to test its authenticity. They announced themselves impressed with the results, which pleased me. Meanwhile, I was mentoring a young writer. He’d not been able to write a novel but did turn out a short story. I read and critiqued it for him. It was a good story, and I told him that I thought he could sell it.

I’d also been helping a young foreign student who was present. He couldn’t speak much English. I’d ended up in the role of helping him navigate the conference. In thanks, he came to me and offered me, “Noelle.” I replied, “Noelle,” with confusion. ‘Noelle’ turned out to be a chocolate candy. I accepted it with thanks and laughter, and then ate it with gusto. He also later gave me a small ceramic basket, exquisitely done. I don’t know where it came from. I accepted it but with protests that he didn’t need to be giving me all of these gifts. It’d been a pleasure helping him. Yet, he returned one more time to give me another “Noelle.” By the way, that spelling comes from the dream. I actually think it was a subtitle.

In high spirits, I prepared to leave. The maid service had packed everything up for me. I’d also been given another ceramic basket as a gift by someone else. Since I had two, I offered it to the woman. She was tremendously flattered and embarrassed, insisting that she couldn’t take it because it was too beautiful, and I’d already tipped her and had done too much for her. After a few minutes of going back and forth, I finally won.

Then it was to the car to leave. I offered others rides but none were going with me, so I left in the Mustang to drive to the airport, alone but happy.

*Photo is for illustration purposes only. Wasn’t exactly like this in the dream; it was better.

Wednesday: Four Things

  1. The weather continues to provide talking points. The temperature been as up and down as a roller coaster this year, and often plays the contrarian. Today’s high on July first, when we normally anticipate nineties and beyond, will be seventy-seven. Not that we’re complaining; just commenting. It’ll be a good day to paint some more walls once I’ve finished my writing.
  2. My annual urology follow up went well yesterday. Peed fine, no issues. All this was initiated by some trouble in peckerville traced to enlarge prostate in previous years. No follow up actions required. I’ve tried to become more mindful as I’ve matured. Now I’m being more mindful in my peeing. Of course, my mind must riff on the old Caddy Shack Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) meme: “Be the ball.” I’m trying to be the pee.
  3. I think one of the reasons for my success with peeing was decreasing my sodium levels. I was diagnosed with very high blood pressure (230/130) during my pecker issues. I’d noticed my sodium was a little high on my blood work (141 mmol/L), so I began checking out sodium levels of whatever I was eating. Definitely an OMG experience. Can’t believe the amount of sodium in processed foods, condiments, salad dressings, and the like. The sodium in canned soup was at surreal levels. So was anything with cheese and any sauces. After reading and verifying it on my blood test results, I recognized that I also needed to increase my potassium levels. Learning that magnesium can draw sodium out, I also increased my magnesium levels (hello, bananas!). The other thing that I’d learned affecting my enlarged prostate gland was chocolate. When I ate more than a little chocolate, my stream diminished. So, chocolate was severely curtailed. Another negative influencer is gluten. Controlling my gluten intake and monitoring it, I verified to my own mind that gluten causes me to bloat and swell. The final element was increasing my water to help flush sodium out. Amazing how it’s all interconnected. I appreciate having the net to help me learn, and sites like WebMD.
  4. Cautious Independence Day planning is afoot. Friends have a tradition of consuming root beer floats while watching the fireworks from their deck. They like us; we like root beer floats, so we’ve become part of their tradition. Looks like we’ll do it again this year, while social distancing, just three couples. There will be floats, but not fireworks.

Got my coffee. Ready to write, but the first requirement will be to update the bible for The Constant, which is the current novel-in-progress. Then I’ll write like crazy, at least one more time.

May I Continue?

Well, writers, musicians, artists, poets, essayists, and novelists, we made it to May. Sometimes, in Feb. and March, May seemed like an impossible goal. But we kept going, didn’t we? Sure, there were a few stumbles. New bruises and injuries were acquired, but here we are again.

March and April were good, and not good for me. That’s how life often seems, though, doesn’t it? One area is going great and another area collapses like a calving glacier. My setbacks were in health. First, there was a long time where I had a severe cold. It seemed to be touring my body. Just when I thought it’d done it’s farewell show, the tour would begin again.

Next, whatever steers these things enlarged my prostate and shut down my bladder. It wasn’t a joyous experience but I survived. I’m fortunate to be financially comfortable and have health insurance. Besides being painful, uncomfortable, and inconvenient for a while, the issues meant that coffee, caffeine, chocolates and alcohol needed to be sliced back. I allow myself one cup of coffee a day. Drinking it centers around my writing. I used to drink a glass of red wine each night; no more. I haven’t had chocolate in weeks. I still have a beer once or twice a week. I last had one a week ago. I going back to the doctor in a month to see if surgery is required, or what.

Many writing days were lost in March and April. I’m surprised to discover that the novel I began writing in January is eighty-eight thousand words, three hundred forty-five Word pages, and almost finished. I thought, how did that happen? I guess it demonstrates the power of just sitting down and pushing. I didn’t write for five straight days in March, although I tried. I stopped posting my goofy little things for a few days, too.

When I read the work-in-progress that I’ve written, I enjoy it. Then I read someone else’s novel and fall into dejection because my novel is a piece of crap in comparison. Then I read my work-in-progress again, and think, no, this works.  It reminds me of George Jetson. Know him? He’s a fictional character in the animated cartoon series, The Jetsons. When the show ends and the credits run, George is walking the dog on a conveyor belt. The cat jumps on, and the dog begins chasing the cat. As the belt goes faster and faster, George falls down, and the cat and dog jump off to watch as George haplessly goes round and round, shouting, “Help. Jane, get me off this crazy thing.”

That’s how I sometimes feel with my writing efforts.

My exercise practices took a hit with my illnesses. Some days, my walking dropped to two and a half weary miles a day. Weekly totals plummeted to thirty-two miles. I gained eight pounds.

I’ve lost five of those pounds. The weekly totals of miles per week are back up into the mid-fifties. I recorded ten miles yesterday for the first time since the end of February. So, I’m making progress, and will cling to that.

That’s my recap. I hope you guys are all doing well, making progress, and not going insane or becoming depressed. Thanks for reading.

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Cheers

 

The Beer Warning

Beer and I get along well. We go together like pizza and beer, ice cream and pie, or coffee and pastries.

The other day, we had a warning about climate change and chocolate. Each week brings another story about global warming and the increasing seriousness.

Earlier this year – 2018 – came a story about rare poisonous sea snakes being discovered in California, coming north with warming waters.

Before that, of course, were stories and warnings of wild weather swings with rapid temperature extremes, blizzard hurricanes and increasing wildfires. Before then, climate change warnings were about melting ice caps, rising sea levels, and coastal flooding that threaten cities like New York and Miami.

But a segment of population says, “Nope, climate change, and all that’s attributed to it is fake science, or a hoax, or a conspiracy, or blah, blah, blah.”

Today, a warning from Montana, where malt hops are grown. They’re not faring well there, and climate change is blamed.

Without malt hops, we’re going to have some problems with beer production. Hopefully, more will now start paying attention. The Guardian puts it in perspective in this article, from 2015.

Consumption

 

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Walking around, I’ve just recognized how much my little town of Ashland, population about twenty grand, offers visitors and residents. Of course, it’s all about experiences here. On center stage is the the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and the Green Show (free) but there is also the annual Ashland International Film Festival. Southern Oregon University generate learning activities. Your reading fixes can be attended through Bloomsbury, the Book Exchange, and the Book Wagon.

Want a marijuana high or need a medical high? We have you covered. Marijuana is legal in our state, county, and town. Several dispensaries are here to guide you through your choices. You can smoke, vape or eat to fill your need, although you can’t do it out in public, as signs will remind you. Locally produced chocolates are made at Branson’s to handle that munchie or go to Market of Choice and ogle their pastries, breads, pies, cakes, cookies, scones and cheeses, or ice creams, pastries and gelato at Mix, on the plaza.

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Prefer an amber or red ale, pilsner, IPA, porter, stout or lager? Local breweries, led by Caldera Brewing and Standing Stone Brewing, are doing great. Fill your growler at Gil’s or Growler Guys. Gil’s is alongside Ruby’s, where flavorful wraps and sandwiches can be ordered. Ruby’s and Gil’s share owners so you can buy at one place and consume the other. This is pretty cool; Ruby’s has patio sitting available where you can dine in sunshine. Gil’s patio is covered and has fire pits.

Growler Guys also have fire pits. Having a beer as the wind blows your face, the rain falls a few inches away, and a fire warms you as you watch people and cars pass is an an elemental experience.

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If beer and grass aren’t to your taste, you can enjoy wines from multiple local vineyards, like Weisinger, literally down the street from me. Or zip across the valley to Belle Fiori. Don’t want to drink and drive? Don’t worry, you can enjoy tastings at several locations and the local wines are offered in multiple restaurants.

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Yeah, like to eat? As a progressive town, vegans and vegetarians are taken care of, but places like Smithfields will satisfy carnivores. Lark’s is wonderful for more unique dining choices. Although we lack decent Mediterranean and Greek fares IMO, the downtown area and plaza can see you through yearnings for American, Sushi, Chinese, Mexican, English, French, and Italian. Martolli’s sells sensational pizzas whole and by the slice. Louie’s on the plaza is one of our favorite places to eat. Brothers, Breadboard, Morning Glory and Waffle Barn will do you for breakfast and lunch, but you can have an awesome Chicago style sandwich at Sammich. But the Ashland Food Co-op creates some of the best sandwiches and wraps, which are sold in several local stores and cafes.

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Naturally, there is a farmer and grower’s market, run by the RV Growers. Fresh produce, prepared foods like pies are available at the Saturday’s Grower’s Market. The Tuesday’s Grower’s Market has a larger location, and food trucks are present to serve you as you shop. Coffee shops all over the place, less now than there were a few years ago. Noble Coffee is one of several places roasting and grinding their own coffee beans. Zoey’s handles local demands for ice cream and milkshakes. If your burden is clothing shopping, the downtown is full of new and used clothing stores and boutiques. Every Saturday during the summer and fall, the Art

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Or just wander through Lithia Park by the creek, following the trails, or sitting by the ponds, watching ducks or enjoying the deer’s presence as they meander through town and the park, nibbling at plants and grasses, looking at you as you look at them.

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It’s amazing. Prefer skiing, hit Mt Ashland. Want to venture further away, we’re located just off Interstate 5, seventeen miles north of the California border, less than three hundred miles from San Francisco to the south and Portland to the north, and there are many amazing places between those two.

I’d write more about it all, but I’m hungry.

Drinks in a Cone

Some clever folks have come out with coffee in a cone. Which, you know, immediately raises interest in, what kind of cone, and why coffee? Why not beer, or wine in a cone?

The coffee in a cone uses a waffle cone. The problem of coffee leaking through the cone quickly arose. The entrepreneur addressed the issue by adding four layers of chocolate to the cone. If you’re not a chocolate lover (I can’t believe those words can even be true), then you might think, doesn’t entice me, thanks. I don’t like chocolate. But surely other coatings can be applied to the cone. Like caramel or maple, or something. I don’t know. Don’t ask me, I just think here.

Returning to collateral ideas, I brainstormed about what kind of cone I can use to hold my beer, and what I should coat it with. Cheese?

Pardon me a moment while I address my gag reflex.

I like beer and cheese but I canna wrap my brain around drinking beer in a cheese coated cone. Hmmm, wine…maybe.

Can you imagine ordering? “Hi, I’d like a red blend wine cone.”

“Which red?”

“Three Vineyards Oregon blend.”

“What kind of cone, sir?”

“Do you have anything gluten free?”

“Yes, we have a pretty nice olive and rosemary rice cone. I have samples here. Would you like to taste it?”

“Oh, yes, thanks. Oh, that’s good. And that’s gluten free? Okay, I’ll try that.”

“Yes, sir, what size?”

“Grande.”

“And what kind of cheese would you like as your coating?”

“Hmm…I’ve having a red wine…do you have sharp cheddars?”

“Yes, we have several cheddar variations, including white. There’s the list, up here behind me.”

“Oh, sorry, I didn’t see that. Hah. If it was a snake….”

“Would you like to sample any cheese?”

“Yes, let me try that Face Rock sharp white  cheddar, thanks. I always like Face Rock’s cheeses. Yes, that’s good. I’ll go with that.”

Fifteen dollars and a few minutes later, you have your grande cheese wine cone. Of course, even with the coating, the coffee dissolves its cone cup in about three minutes. I believe we’d have a about the same amount of time for the wine cheese cone. Chug, chug.

Going back to the beer cone, we can probably have an entire sandwich in a cone, you know, like turkey with Swiss cheese. Using a rye flour cone, we’ll wrap the innards with the turkey and layer it with hot melted Swiss cheese. Then we’ll deep fry that sucker, fill it with beer (“What beer do you want, sir?”) and sell it at state fairs. And then, someday in the future (which, I know, is a bit redundant, but I’m selling an idea here), we can have National Drinks in a Cone Day.

Next: Pizza in a cone. And then stir-fry in a cone, and burritos in a cone….

Isn’t progress amazing?

Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

 

 

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