Monday, December 10, 2007

Dear Diary

I started keeping a diary about ten years ago after previous attempts to maintain one back in my college days of the Seventies were derailed by church activities and, to be honest, plain laziness. It's a lot of work to keep one of those things up with the kind of detail you think should be in it to keep future historians busy.

Of course, nowadays, blogs seem to be in vogue and shorter, less meaty sentences, keeping pace with our TV-addled, media-shortened attention span. I actually had someone a couple of years ago respond to one of my shorter self-analyzing entries by saying that people probably didn't read my stuff because it was rather long. God knows what we would do if we all had to read and write like some of our ancestors. In the old days, long sentences (that would probably be an entire chapter in a contemporary novel) were the norm and words with more than three syllables were not unusual.

Sometimes, however, being detailed in a diary isn't a good thing. I was reading last night in my first volume, running from 1997 until 2002, about happy times like vacations with my family and getting our dog, Emily, but also about sad and emotionally wrenching times like my father's by-pass operation, the notations about his left lung filling up with fluid from time to time afterwards that wasn't supposed to be serious until they went in and found that he was suffering from mesothelioma, the asbestos-induced, invariably fatal cancer that would take his life four months later and my mother's contemporaneous suffering from a cracked pelvis that was treated by the quack of a doctor who only prescribed aspirin and Tylenol for the intense pain it caused her. I wrote in my diary about the day I ran into my Dad's surgeon at the hospital and he told me about the prognosis and I essentially collapsed on a wall and put my hand over my mouth to keep myself from screaming; reading that refreshed the pain that I felt that day and didn't do a whole lot for my sunny disposition.

I guess that's the reason we write things down, for good or bad, to relive the experience and remember the persons and the times we went through so that later, when our ever-decreasing number of brain cells start taking those memories with them into the neverworld of forgetfulness, we'll have something to fall back on.

Of course, I could just wait for the movie version.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chili Today, Hot Tamale

We're having a chili cookoff in my office today, the first one we've had in the twenty-three years I've worked here. It may signal the end of Civilization as we know it.

Why? Well, to paraphrase the late H. Allen Smith, whose book, "The Great Chili Confrontation" has been one of my favorites since high school, a true Chilihead believes that HIS chili is the only one worth eating and that the chili of all others is slop that a coyote would turn away from. As I've looked around the various crockpots with bubbling concoctions from clericals and others lawyers in the office, I've already seen ingredients that I'd never even think about putting into MY chili (which is, of course, the best ever made by Man).

Chili has, for some reason or another, somewhat like BBQ, engendered all sorts of controversy and, occasionally, fistfights over which is the best. Texans, of course, rebel at the very idea of putting any kind of beans INTO the chili, preferring to have it, if at all, on the side. Others don't mind the beans, but will eschew all but the basics (meat, chili powder, onions, garlic and perhaps tomatoes), sticking up their noses at the wild concept of ingredients like bell peppers, mushrooms, truffles and even chocolate.

Me? I'm more of a purist, wanting to stick with the tried and true basics, though I do like beans in my chili. I don't generally use cubed meat (which would probably have me drummed out of the International Chili Appreciation Society), preferring hamburger for the most part. I used to like Two or Four Alarm Chili, which usually required one to blow his nose after taking one bite and was considered for many years as a good cure for sinus infections. However, as I've gotten older, I've discovered that my body has become less accepting of the nuclear option, so I've gone the route of the less hot, but more flavorful style. This time I've used a dried ancho chili, boiled and pureed, as part of my sauce, along with ancho chili powder and the usual hot stuff.

We'll see if the judges have the good sense and intelligence to make my chili the undisputed #1 after the tasting has been completed. If they don't, that will say a lot about their upbringing and general education in all things culinary. I may have to hunt them down.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Blue's Updates

Even more months have gone by without a rant or gentle observation; no excuses, just busy with work and family, vacation and illnesses.

Littlest Blue has left the family nest for the Fall Semester at our local State University, just a few miles down the road and in the same town. We get to see her once a week or so, particularly when she needs to do her laundry. She's enjoying herself, being semi-independant, probably a lot like I did when I first came to this burg back in 1973 to go to the same school.

Her big sister is still at home, though finally starting the local Community College (again) next semester. She's got issues, that one, and maybe, just maybe, some day she'll shake them off like a bad cold and start making some progress with herself.

Mrs. Blue had a scare with cancer over the summer. She had surgery and it appears all is well, no chemo or radiation therapy needed (or wanted). She's finally back at work, which may explain the increase in her blood pressure over the last week.

We took a family vacation in August to Maine, Quebec and Vermont for three weeks. We flew to Maine and rented a car, driving up the coast to Bar Harbor eventually. I had my first taste of fresh Maine lobster and wild blueberry pie and took the opportunity to tour a potato vodka distillery and sampled the wares of various microbreweries.

After getting a short view of Maine, we drove through the middle of the state up to Quebec, staying first in Quebec City, then the little town of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Perade and finally Montreal. We enjoyed our stay, trying out the new foods (and more beer) and learning a little French here and there.

We finally dropped back into the States by going to Vermont and seeing where Ben & Jerry's ice cream is made (by a large multinational conglomerate now), celebrating Mrs. Blue's birthday at at nice Chinese restaurant in a nearby college town and finding a mom-and-pop soda company that we ordered unusual soft drinks from. We also had dinner at a microbrewery that we were glad we found, almost by accident.

Me? I've been back at my job, nailing people to the wall again and counting the years until I can (and probably should) retire. I periodically listen to politics and get disgusted, listen to the drumbeats from the chicken hawks in the Administration about nuking Iran because they won't comply with our eminently reasonable demands that they obey us in all things and feel sad that my girls will probably live in a world where the U.S. will probably be a lesser-power in the not-too-distant future.

As the late, lamented Kurt Vonnegut used to say in his novels (or rather, had the Tralfamadorians say), "So it goes".

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Dead Tired

Yeah, I know, I know; months have gone by with no posts, so whoever was reading it before has probably forgotten to look anymore.

Lessee...old home finally sold.

I'm still working with even less time to go before retirement.

Less hair than I had six months ago.

Less money in my investments than I had last week because of those dadgum Chinese...

So it goes.