What if …

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a “what if” movie written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Matt Damon plays Rick Dalton, a washed up cowboy star at a time when Roman Polanski is the hottest director in town (the late 1960s). Polanski is renting the house next door to Dalton but he and his friends live in the fame bubble, everything is wonderful and will be forever and ever. There’s even a scene of Sharon Tate going into a theater alone just to revel in the audience reaction to her movie while Dalton drowns in self pity, aided by his longtime stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt).

This movie could have had a predictable ending but it doesn’t. I won’t give away Tarantino’s secret sauce in case you haven’t seen it, but damn if Fractured Fairytales didn’t immediately leap to mind.

If you don’t have time to watch the clip, the story starts out familiar and then veers wildly astray, generally into areas of extreme political incorrectness! I’m sure if Fractured Fairytales were on air today, there would be howls from all sides. But, if I ever met Tarantino, I’d have to ask him what role the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons had in his vision for movie making. I think he’s old enough to have watched them. Maybe not. Sigh.


Just an aside: These delightfully warped tales were narrated by Edward Everett Horton who once famously said “Nobody’s older than me and, if they are, they’re not in circulation.”
I’m definitely feeling that today!

It’s already been said again and again …

I took this shot from my deck yesterday. Have you ever taken a picture that captures exactly the way you feel? The oak in the middle of the picture is not dead. It wasn’t even covered in ice. It was as if the trees felt my despair and spoke to me. We feel it too. The world feels it.

A few years back I took this picture:

I have no idea what buttons I pushed on the iPhone to get the shot. I was feeling apocalyptic at the time but the moon didn’t blow up.

So many bloggers I’ve known for years are quitting. It started during the Trump years when it was hard to sit down at the keyboard and pretend half the US hadn’t just lost their minds. And then came the plague which brought forth a fresh round of craziness. For many bloggers, it was saner to just walk away.

And now we have this unthinkable war and what can you say? Nothing because it’s already been said again and again and again.

The last sun of the century set
amidst the blood red clouds of the West
and the whirlwind of hatred
the naked passion of selflove of Nations,
in its drunken delirium of greed,
is dancing to the clash of steel
and the howling verses of vengeance
The hungry self of Nation shall burst in a violence of fury
from its own shameless feeding
For it has made the world its food

R. Tagore, written just before WWI

“For every storm, a rainbow; for every tear, a smile.” An old Irish blessing

Nightly News

tin hats

I saw a child on the nightly news

Playing with a toy inside a room being used

As a shelter from The Bomb’s long burning fuse

The mother was there being interviewed

Because war had broken out all over the place

And when the microphone tilted toward her face

She spoke about the future of the human race

Using broken English, full of common grace

She said, our biggest problem is forgetfulness

So I hope my child remembers this

Then she looked into the camera and blew a kiss

LOVE, she said, is how we must resist

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The Eucalyptus Grove

The other day I was feeling nostalgic and old, which in my case, sometimes manifests a poem (or my attempt at a poem). To Carol and Griselda

I always feared the eucalyptus grove. 
But to get to castle rock,
And brag to hesitant bones that our minds
still had the power to rule our wretched bodies.
And that time
Mighty time, unforgiving time,
had no harness we couldn’t break …
We had to pass through the eucalyptus grove.

Our walk till then, under open skies,
With horizons both east and west 
As far as the mind could fathom 
Of the ocean and the mountains,
The cows grazing in the fields
And ships heading out to sea,
The city below with all of it’s nooks and crannies exposed 
Deceived us into lazy thinking.

And then, to toad-croak mating songs, we’d enter the grove 
Pelted by pods and petal-less flowers
Twigs and eucalyptus dust from
the murmuring and jiggering …
Constant flapping of earth bound wings
Trapped and endlessly wailing …
Even on a calm day … Gum trees.

Oh the smell!
you would say and lapse into thinking
You could win
One more madcap challenge to the Outback,
Just one more time with old Matilda
Riding Black
Just one more time,
A skinny dip in the Indian Ocean after 
Days of sweat and dust.  

The boughs are cracking over head and we are drifting, I know not where … 

Then let’s run! Run through the eucalyptus grove.

Something was always lost or stolen
each time through that grove.
Could you feel it?

No, I couldn’t either.
Not at the time.

Then let’s run as fast as we can,
through the eucalyptus grove.

Blood in the Exchange

tin hats

Like a cobra, I watch the movement of currency

My head going slowly, side to side

There, there, look … a faint signal from the bowels of money

The dollar strengthens, the others weaken

I quickly rub my hands together, all for friction’s sake … building a fire in my fingers

The heat illuminating my mind, the light shining through my eyes

A dollar here, a dollar there

Each one wrapped in baby’s hair

The mud of boots against the floor, dragging the bodies outside

Lined up with the final breath of lungs, the fading of hearts, everything rising and falling

The movement of money outliving the dead

Financial projections like the sound of explosions rushing the herd toward the cliff and here we are, watching the animals fall through the air

One after the other, crashing below, the metrics of currency reacting to war

Look how much money I’ve…

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On this Wednesday in the middle of nowhere

Baby Roses defrosting.
The rain catcher on the job. Ever hopeful.

The Red Quill got foliage but never bloomed. Now it is starting to fade.
Pickle ball set waiting for me to get healthy (and brave) enough to try again.

This isn’t the first time in my life that the world has teetered on the brink because of a ruthless dictator, but it is the first time a former US president has sided with the dictator. I have hope and do believe diplomacy will prevail, but nothing can save a party that roots for the destruction of the democracy that allows it to exist.

And that makes me very sad on this Wednesday in the middle of nowhere.

R. Tagore, Fireflies

Conversations on a Pickle Ball Court

I’m not really gloating because we are still in a drought out here in Northern California and no one in their right mind wants to be in a drought … but January has been beautiful and February is starting out the same. There’s been a lot of moisture from fog and overnight frost but no real rain. So panic is setting in.

Looking west as the sun rose this morning.

Pickle ball mania has taken over my section of the world. It’s basically tennis for people who no longer want to run all over the court chasing balls. Basically, older people. So yesterday I decided to try it along with a couple of friends I’ve had for decades. They’d been in touch with a woman from our old adult soccer team who said she’d teach us. I hadn’t seen the lady in thirty years and thus, did not recognize her. Our conversation went like this:

Me: Are you the one who backed up into a pole and smashed her Mercedes?

Deb: No!!! I’ve never owned a Mercedes! I’m an engineer! Are you the lady who lost her baby at one of our soccer matches?

Liz: That was me. I lost Daniel.

Me: Oh yeah. That was the CFO who smashed her Mercedes.

Pat: That was Susan. She came with that guy who was always getting injured.

Me: The tax attorney. He told me he didn’t feel like he’d gotten enough exercise unless he got injured!

Deb: Speaking of taxes, did they ever throw your ex-husband into prison?

Me: No, somehow he got out of it. But he got into some other shenanigans.

Pat: I bet. Didn’t we find the baby sleeping under a blanket?

Eventually we did get to playing the game … in a way. A pickle ball game is considered successful if you can sustain a volley instead of land “winners.” So it’s fun. Relaxed and not at all serious. Especially if you’re remembering fun times from long ago when you were all young.

The Whatcha Gonna Do Cookin’ Show

We decided to make the Whatcha Gonna Do Stew exactly as written by Chris LeDoux, singer and songwriter. In case you don’t remember, it consisted of two steps: 1.) Chop vegetables and meat. 2.) Dump into pot of boiling water and cook until “good enough to eat.”

I cheated and added a bag of Herbs of Provence. It didn’t help. It tastes every bit as yummy as it looks.

First, you do not want to use too much water otherwise you don’t have stew; you have soup. Second, meat cooked in boiling water tastes like rubber. Even a good cut of meat. Luckily I don’t like meat so I didn’t use very much.

I should have made this picante sauce to go along with my stew – 10 jalapenos! That would have added some flavor!

One bit of caution: if you do decide to try this recipe, don’t use minced garlic from a jar. It just floats on the top of the water and looks very unappetizing.

According to the Cowboy Poet, I probably should have made my stew in a hole in the ground (in Texas with Colorado dirt and the Wyoming wind, of course).

I didn’t know anything about Chris LeDoux, who died way too young, but apparently “whatcha gonna do” was his tagline. If you go to his website, you can purchase all kinds of goodies including his “Whatcha Gonna Do” wines and spirits. Below is one of his songs.

If he had lived longer, perhaps he would have starred in his own Whatcha Gonna Do Cooking show. Unlike other cookin’ shows, no need for trips to the store for fancy spices. Just meat, potatoes and vegetables all cooked in some water. I have a feeling he was a cool guy to know but Jacques Pepin, he was not! But … whatcha gonna do?

Whatcha gonna do stew

As I have mentioned, my husband collects cookbooks. In fact, he owns every cookbook ever published by Cook’s Illustrated. If you have the time and patience (and can afford the often hard to find and expensive ingredients), I must admit most of recipes they publish are foolproof.

However this is his favorite cookbook:

With recipes from all the greatest cowboys and gals (at least in film)

By the time we were allowed to get a television, cowboy shows were a thing of the past but Joel grew up on them. This cookbook contains not only recipes but pictures of the old stars and tidbits about the television shows, movies, and songs from that era. So I can understand why he’s so fond of it.

How many stars can you match to their cowboy roles? I got 2 – Paladin and Davy Crockett

Many of the recipes were written with a snide dig at other cookbooks:

Does anyone know where Poohawk Territory is? Sigh, my grocery doesn’t sell bogus feathers!

There are even recipes for genuine cowboy cocktails:

And, if you’re having a dinner party, menu ideas (note the vegetarian option)

Note the vegetarian option

However, tonight Joel tells me he’ll be making this dish:

Pretty fancy hey? I’m so happy we spent a fortune on all those gourmet cookbooks!

I’ll let you know how it turns out. One thing I do have an affection for from those days when being a cowboy was every little boy (and some girls) dream. Cowboy songs.

Some days are just that way

It’s one of those days when the sun won’t come out to play. It’s not that cold but everything is damp and so … it feels downright frigid.

At 7:30 I awoke to the wailing of the cat. He had dental surgery yesterday but refuses to take his pain medication like a man or even a brave cat. He prefers to meow in misery and then run off to hide when he spots me with a syringe. Eventually I gave up.

Then I got an email from my favorite apocalyptic poet reporting further evidence that we’re headed for cataclysmic doom and gloom … increased lightning strikes on the polar ice caps. Look on the light side, I felt like saying. Perhaps it’s the universe using electroshock therapy to jolt us into sanity? It worked for Sylvia Plath, right?

Lightning over the Pacific

Around noon it dawned on me that I should soak one of the kitty’s treats in the liquid pain killer and then conceal the treat in his bowl of wet food. I was hoping that since the pain killer didn’t seem to have any odor, it didn’t have any taste as well. Of course, I didn’t let the kitty see me spiking his food. Apparently it worked. Kitty is now sleeping soundly. Well, as soundly as a kitty ever does.

I had just gotten cozy and was about to start work on the book I’m editing when Joel (hubby) brought in a Tommee Tippee package addressed to a Francis Houston at this address. “Find out if she lives nearby. I’m cooking,” he said. We get packages for our neighbors all the time. But as far as I could tell through google searches, etc., there was no Francis Houston in my town. Don’t know what to do with the package as there was no return address. Need a Tommee Tippee cup?

At three o’clock I got a call from the vet. He wanted me to know that during surgery they found out the cat has a chip. Someone cared about him enough to have a chip installed. However they never registered him. Happy news, said the vet. We can register him ourselves. But what if word gets back to his real owners …. do you think, after six years, they’ll want to claim him? Think they’ll settle for a Tommee Tippee cup?

This may be the last you hear from me. I hear prison sentences for stolen Tommee Tippee cups are quite long. Yes, some days.