A short dream, but with impact. Boxes of food were being handed out. Large boxes but not of a uniform size. Mostly brown. Although the boxes didn’t have lids, I don’t know what food was inside them.
Like others, I hurried to get a box of food. That required me to go onto a cement portico surrounded by shadowy white colonnades. The boxes were happily given out and equally happily received. After getting one box, it was suggested that I go back and try to get another one. When I went back, the person giving them out recognized me. He said, “I wouldn’t be going for these boxes, I’d be going for something to survive the flood.”
I didn’t know what flood he talked about. I accepted the box and returned to the others, puzzling over what he’d said. I told them. We debated what he meant, and how the boxes might be different, if they’re for a flood. I decided that I’d get boxes to survive a flood, just be on the safe side and went back to the issuing area. Dark brown flood waters were already to my knees at that point. No more boxes were being handed out. The people giving them out were gone.
A fellow blogger and I have wondered, where’s the year gone? I know, that’s not an unusual question in any year. Where’s the time gone, in general, is a diabolical puzzle. Just yesterday, I was twenty-two, something like that. I could eat what I wanted, now I wanted. Snorted doughnuts for mid-morning snacks. Partied until two AM, then went to work at seven. Ate three cheeseburgers at a sitting. Now I’m on Medicare.
A note on the Medicare. I wouldn’t have joined if not forced into it. I retired from the military. Had Tricare. Can’t elaborate on which Tricare. There are two thousand known variations of Tricare. Others are constantly being found by health professionals in computer systems. To stay on Tricare, once I ‘turned’* 65, as I did at the beginning of July, I had to join Medicare Parts A & B. Where I was paying nothing except co-pay a year ago, I was required to start paying $25 a month for my Tricare. Now I’m required to pay about $117 a month for Medicare Part B (A is free) to keep my Tricare. It’s a different form of Tricare, though. I’ll figure it out later.
Part of the year was spent on determining which Medicare parts I required. That included timing. You can’t just join Medicare at any time, you know. You have windows. You miss your window, you wait for the next window. For me, though, missing the window meant that I’d also lose my Tricare. That covers my wife, too. It’s becoming more necessary as we’ve moved toward being the oldest people on the planet. Other parts of the year were spent on questions about masking, COVID-19 vaccinations, variants, and shopping hours. But those were side ventures. Most of my time was spent wondering what I was going to eat.
In additional to a pantry and a refrigerator/freezer combo, we have a small garden. Tomatoes, squash, green peppers, kale, lettuce. It’s been a hard gardening year. Drought, you know. Hot sun, too. We covered plants up. They still weren’t happy with the heat, suggesting, let’s move to somewhere cooler, like hell.
We also have a chest freezer and additional food supplies in the guest room closet. It seems like I’m always wondering, what do we have to eat? What can I eat now? I can bore you to death with all the food we have on hand. I’m always thinking about more. It’s a joint decision that’s made. My wife and I have to agree on what to eat. That usually involves a discussion of what food is on hand. Then, if we don’t immediately have the answer (“Do we have any brown rice left?” “Go fish.”), one of us must leave our chairs and books or computers, go to the supply sources and determine if we have the needed ingredient.
After we decide, okay, we can make this, we discuss who will make what. “I made dinner last night.” “We had pizza. You got it from the pizza place.” “Still counts.”
A large part of the forces driving our discussion and my angst is that we just can’t go out and get what we want. One, restaurants have reduced hours or shut down. Two, which store will have what we need? How much do we trust them and their clientele to be COVID-19 safe? Is getting Ben & Jerry Ice Cream really worth the risk.
Yes, I say, masking up, and driving there.
What we want isn’t always in stores. If this pandemic has shown nothing else to me, it’s shown how completely dependent I am on our systems to provide me with food to buy. Whether it’s organic or processed, cooked in a restaurant or baked in a bakery, I want others doing it for me. This embarrasses part of me. That part says that I should be more self-reliant. More independent. I can fix computers but I can’t hunt meat. Or won’t.
The other part of me says shut up if you want me to go out and get a snack. Which I might do. Thinking about food has made me hungry, and there’s still a little bit of July to kill.
Where’s my mask?
*That expression of ‘turning’ an age always embellishes my brain with an image of me on a baking tray and someone using a giant spatula to flip me over.
To start off, I’m at home with Mom, working on some project. She’s young — thirties — I’m young — twenties. Others are present. I’m working on a project. Bustling about (typical Mom style), speaking with others, Mom doesn’t wholly approve. She’s saying I’ve already done too much of that. She doesn’t want any more. I’m laughing her off because I don’t think she understands what I’m doing and doesn’t want to know. I’ve decided I’ll continue in secret and surprise her with the results.
As that’s underway, I’m also given pills to take. These are pale white capsules. Eschewing taking them, I secret them in a drawer. In there, I discover I have a cache of red capsules and blue capsules that I refused to take. It’s quite a collection. I close the drawer before others notice.
I then work on my project. I’m collecting information from the net. I’ve found a great deal that I like. They’re giving me ideas about what to do and how to do it. I collect ideas with enthusiasm, sticking them into the same drawer as the pills, not letting others see.
Food is being served. Pizza! I dislike the pizza being served and mock it. A friend and I go off for a walk. We’re walking through a very busy city, following sidewalks, crossing streets heavy with vehicular traffic, crossing railroad tracks, following traffic-light guidance, talking as we go. My friend is holding a wedge of pizza as we walk and talk. He finally tells me that he’s holding onto it for me. “As you didn’t like the other pizza offered, I thought I’d give you this one to try. It’s very good.”
I’m disinclined to eat more pizza at that point. He keeps on as we’re walking. I finally accept it and take a bite, complaining that it’s cold as I do. The pizza is alright. Nothing I’m not wowed by it, he brings out another piece. “Different pizza,” he says, offering it to me. I’m wondering, “Where are you getting these pizzas?” I’m looking around him, amused, trying to see if there’s a pizza truck or something beside him. He, amused, is evasive, refusing to say, but repeating, “It’s my mission to bring you pizza until you find one you like.”
I’m laughing at that. “What a mission. How’d you get roped into that role?”
“I volunteered,” he replied. “I wanted it.”
We’ve been crossing streets as we speak, careful of the traffic. Now we reach a chain-link fence abutting a white cement sidewalk and stop. The sidewalk looks fresh and new. In fact, that’s the general impression of everything that I see. It’s a bright, sunny day. I’ve been enjoying the walk. We’re both holding a slice of pizza. I take a bite of mine and ask, looking around, “Which direction do we go?”
Spring sunshine again bathes the valley this AM, with the sun beaming in at 5:48 AM and expecting to hang around until 8:27 PM. Today is Monday, May 17, 2021. Happy Syttende Mai! We’re helping Norwegians celebrate the 1814 day when Norway’s constitution was signed. Weather for Syttende Mai in Ashland expects to peak at 85 degrees F again today. It cools at night but rain would be nice, you know?
Today’s music is inspired by food. I know it’s not fashionable to complain about having food to eat, but I’m weary of our recurring menu. Yeah, I know it’s first world blues. Though nutritious and I’m grateful to have food, it’s gotten stale. This is amplified by the tedium of routines. I want other food in other places, feel me? Sure, you do. Thinking about this conundrum — I have food but I’m weary of the entrees — I began singing, “Day after day.” That triggered Bad Finger to rise from my mental recesses to sing along to their 1971 hit, “Day After Day”.
Maskwise, I’ve chosen to continue wearing the mask as I’ve been doing. Frankly, there’s a percentage of population who didn’t want to wear a mask, don’t want to be vaccinated, don’t believe that COVID-19 is an issue, and don’t care if others get it or die from it. That’s what I take from their actions and behavior, at least. I have no doubt that these people will lie and say they’ve been vaccinated and not wear a mask, and give more life to the virus. As I’m vaccinated, my primary concerns arise around breakthrough cases or being an unwitting carrier spreading it to others. I’ll give it ten days to see if we have a new spike, and if vaccinations continue at the same pace in the meanwhile.
My resolution about masking for now firmed this morning. The spouse was on her Zoom exercise class. This was prior to the actual class, when people were joining and chatting. One woman admitted to being embarrassed. Her adult son said he’s not getting vaccinated. His reason: he doesn’t like people telling him what to do.
So, stay positive, test negative, figure out what to do about a mask, and get vaccinated, for crying out loud. What an interesting expression that last is, you know?
Here’s the music. Ciao.
I read an interview with Calvin Trillin today. He said, every family has a theme that runs through it.
I can dig that. I grew up with some very Catholic and Jewish friends. Lessons and classes were always interfering with plans. I went to Bible School every summer for a few weeks, for a couple years. Other than that, I think we were Presbyterians. We attended church on some Christmases.
Religion wasn’t my family’s theme. Neither was education. Mom and Dad took the attitude, don’t bring home a bad grade and we’ll be okay. Several other themes were possible. Mom married multiple times in a quest for happiness. She’d taken private vows not to be like her mother, cold, hard, distant. Mom would be friends with her children. We would play games together.
Man, did we play games. Card games, ball games in the backyard, board games, Mom was always up to playing a game with us. Tripoley, a card game Mom picked up from her in-laws, became the go-to game. There was a board, in our case, a green plastic sheet. On it were different card combinations, along with poker, and ‘out’. Everyone paid into some pots, usually two to three cents each hand. A dummy hand was dealt. The dealer had the choice to keep their hand and sell the second hand, or to pick up and use the second hand. When you evaluating a hand to see whether you would bid on the extra hand, you were looking for pay cards, like the King and Queen of Hearts, or the 8-9-10 combo, or if it was a good poker hand or one that would allow you to go out.
We always played for pennies, and had great old Maxwell House coffee cans filled with coins, because sometimes, those pennies started adding up. “Look at that King and Queen, is that silver in there? There must be eighty cents in there.” Such a large amount. No one counted it, though; counting a pot drew bad luck down on you.
My wife quickly learned about the game but most of the spouses stayed away from it. They didn’t understand how we could sit and play for several hours for a few pennies, coming away with a beam for winning almost three dollars. Woo hoo.
The theme also could be hiding. Mom taught us all to hide whenever someone came to the door. I never heard why we were hiding. Someone knocks, we freeze, falling silent, eyes wide, like it’s WW II and the Nazis have found us. “Who is that?” we’d mouth at one another. Someone would sneak to a window. Carefully peek out. We also did not answer the phone. Whoever was calling us needed to know the code: let it ring twice, hang up and call again. If you don’t use the code, we’re not answering your call.
Our family’s theme could be fragmentation. I left Mom to live with Dad when I was fourteen. The older sister moved out of state when she was nineteen. We lost contact with her. Mom moved many times in her quest to be a good single mother, work, and find joy in marriage. It just didn’t work out. Yet, whenever I returned home, it was like I’d never left. We picked up having good times, laughing at everything, playing games. My wife noticed it after a few visits.
Pressing myself for the truest answer, what is your family’s theme, I laugh and answer, “Food.” Of course. Many people probably say the same. Mom loved to cook. She loved making us happy with food, and she was a damn good cook. The sisters took it up. Holidays Fare always encumbered with too much food, too many munchies, too many desserts. Typically, there’s pies and cakes, because Mom and sisters didn’t want to overlook anyone’s favorite. There are salads as an homage to health, along with something Italian — spaghetti, ravioli, maybe, but usually lasagna — along with turkey or ham. Depends, you know? Thanksgiving always required turkey. Ham was on Easter. Burgers, bbq chicken, and hot dogs on Memorial, Labor, and Independence Days, along with the Italian entree. There is lots of food. Leftovers get divided for consumption. It was often enough to supply troops invading another country. Desserts are usually frozen for other occasions. It’s not weird in our extended family to offer someone dessert from the freezer. “I have some leftover birthday cake from Gina’s birthday.” That Gina’s birthday was two months ago didn’t matter. It was frozen; it’d still be good.
Mom loves a cook out. That’s what she calls it: cooking out. We call it grilling. While my wife and I grill vegetables, sometimes chicken, fish, or beef, Mom always grilled burgers and hot dogs. Both needed to be well done because Mom worried about food poisoning from undercooked food.
We have favorites, right? Mom’s potato salad and fried chicken are amazing. All say so, if I do say so myself. It ruined it for anyone else offering me those things. I’ve searched the world for Mom’s potato salad and fried chicken. Nowhere else comes close to her product. Mom’s Fried Chicken. It could be a thing, except we’d need to answer the door.
I guess we’ll set up a code.
Season’s greetings from the Pacific Northwest. Today is Wednesday, May 5, 2021. But you knew all that already, didn’t you? Summer is creeping into the region. The sun was creeping over the horizon at 6:01 AM. The outside temperature is already creeping past 71. It’s believed the sun will creep out of sight at 8:14 PM.
The cats are enjoying the weather for sure. Out through the pet door (which I think would be a pretty good album title, or maybe a novel) before sunrise, they find places to flooze all day. Cool. Youngblood (formal name, Papi) likes the cushioned patio chairs. Boo (the big mini-Panther) prefers grass just in the shadow. Tucker stomps around to the front porch (“Ain’t no one getting past me”), curling up just off the porch, behind the pillar, under a bush.
Such warmth has stirred gardening aspirations again. My wife made the call yesterday. “We’ll grow lettuce, squash, and tomatoes. To the Grange!” Masks on, we stormed the nursery. Plants were selected, six-packs and pots purchased, plans were made. Fingers are crossed that we’ll have water. Meanwhile, the garlic is almost ready for harvesting, though my wife worries, “It’s thirty days too early!” Her giant onion is bolting. She’s letting it do so, figuring it deserves it after all it’s been through. The only worry is that we’ll have the water to, well, water the garden for the entire season. Fingers crossed, knock on wood, etc.
Musically, Ima on wavelength with a 1979 Talking Heads melody. Lyrics crept in like sunshine breaking through the clouds after a heavy afternoon rain.
This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco
This ain’t no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey
I ain’t got time for that now
h/t to Genius.com
Yes, it’s time for “Life During Wartime”, which could easily be repurposed as “Life During Pandemic”. Stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, and get that vax. Cheers