Archive for the ‘scotch whiskey’ Category

Storm watch

December 1, 2007

I can hardly believe I’m about to write about the weather again. The simple fact is, this time of year we get a lot of it.

Whether it’s global warming, 20-year cycles, or other strange phenomena, this forecast is just plain weird. Possibility of snow tonight. We generally get a little each winter, but this seems very early. But it’s Sunday’s forecast that really boggled my mind.

The weather scrutinizers are predicting that the first ever cyclone/hurricane warning is about to be issued for the forest where I live.

It seems the two recent typhoons in Asia have combined to send a monster storm headed right at Oregon–sustained winds in the 90-100 mph range with pelting rains and flooding. So we can anticipate power out, trees down, roads impassable, and other fine stuff. None of this affects us too much (except I’ll probably lose my DSL until they get the emergency generator up and running at the repeater). We’ve always got a couple of weeks worth of food around, plenty of gas for the generator (and chain saws), and today Ben refilled all the firewood racks in various places in and around the house.

Also, I got about nine new books today, a new New Yorker, and two newspapers. I also replenished the wine and Scotch supply, so I think we’re set. We could run a little short on meat and milk, but I’ve plenty of beans, rice, nuts, flour, and yeast, a fair amount of butter and evaporated milk, some fresh and dried fruits and vegetables, and almost all of last summers canned goods, onions, and winter squash.

Let it snow, rain, blast away, I say. With a loaf of bread, a jug of wine, a good book, and hours of indoor stuff that needs doing, it’s probably a good thing.

I’m supposed to go to Portland Monday morning for a series of medical appointments–nothing serious, just the annual routine. It took great effort to get them all booked on the same day, then they had to be changed once, and now this.

So, if the storm materializes, I may just declare myself healthy this year and put all this off a bit longer. I’m very good at that.

Besides, we’ve got three new Wii games that need playing.

I suppose this is why I blog

August 28, 2007

My mailbox today had a couple of comments from people I’ve never met but suspect I would like to–Nathan and ClapSo.

Nathan lives in Israel, and I met him virtually in the course of my former employment. He was a great source for some articles I wrote, and in the process proved himself witty and simpatico. When I think about the madness in the Middle East, Nathan and people like him are always a consideration.

ClapSo feels a bit like an alter ego. When I lived in the Bay Area (in what seems like a completely different lifetime), he would have been one of the folks who sat and drank wine and smoked assorted things with me and argued (less lucidly as the evening went on, admittedly) about whatever the hot topics of the evening were. And he’s a poet, a nice synergy there, too.

Blogging is a way of sending thoughts out into the atmosphere and seeing what comes back ( a little like those SETI researchers I wrote about earlier).

Tomorrow is my regular writing-group day, so I’m going to have to go off shortly and get prepared for that. The generator is running on fumes at the moment because I was too lazy to fill it earlier, and I expect my UPS to get a field test any minute.

Here are some things I have learned from my garden this summer:

  • How to extend the life of basil: When it starts to flower, cut the main plant off leaving just two leaves at the base and water it like crazy. It grows a whole new plant.
  • Herbs are really important: It really doesn’t matter what you have to cook. If you have good fresh herbs, almost anything can become ambrosia.
  • The late crop of raspberries is even better than the first crop: Most of these are nearly an inch long. A handful makes a great breakfast.
  • You can rejuvenate cabbages, too: If you cut them off just right when harvesting, the root and a couple of leaves that you leave will grow a whole new crop of mini-cabbages, sort of like giant brussel sprouts. They steam beautifully.
  • Never say die: If you get one of those weird years where you’re having plenty of sun but little heat (like we are this summer), plant a second crop of the brassicas and lettuce. They do just fine.
  • Flowers scattered through the vegetable garden feed the soul the way the fruits and vegetables feed the garden.

It’s a lovely evening tonight, but now I have to go type in my revisions and print out the stuff I need tomorrow.

ClapSo, I haven’t forgotten that you tagged me, and I promise to act on it this week.

A long rant about something, or perhaps nothing

August 25, 2007

Once upon a time, I was president of the state poetry society, and I discovered that herding poets is a lot like herding cats.

By their natures, poets are not organized people. And they don’t respond well to those who would like them to be organized.

I find myself lately with my true poetic nature coming to the fore.

God bless those of you who keep checking this space in hopes that something new has happened. My sincere apologies for the long absence. But the truth of the matter is, I just haven’t felt like writing. Anything.

Then tonight I sat down and penned a couple of pretty good poems, one a rewrite of a fragment penned earlier that will probably be called “Why the Sky in August Sometimes Looks Sulky” and the other something brand new: “I Want to Be Jack Kerouac.” That’s when I thought perhaps I could add an update here.

Part of the problem is summer. Here’s what my pantry looks like now after all of the old stuff has been cleaned out: sauerkraut, canned blueberries and blueberry butter, canned pie cherries, canned Royal Annes, canned plums and plum sauce, canned apples and applesauce, dill pickles, bread-and-butter pickles, canned green beans, pickled green beans (very interesting these–I didn’t have the dried red peppers the recipe called for so I used Chalula powder–ground up garlic roasted with hot red peppers–instead), pickled beets. The corn and tomatoes are just coming on. I was beginning to despair of them ripening with all of the rain, but they seem to be doing so anyway.

I have a very sore gum, the result of a really bad tooth brought on by some very bad dentistry some years back. It’s better tonight. I’m trying to avoid a trip to a dentist by using a peroxide mouthwash and scotch as a painkiller. On a scale of 1-10, going to the dentist is about a 15 for me. So far, so good.

My flower beds and herbs have been attacked. We think we found the culprit tonight–a packrat running around. He likes parsley and sage but not oregano, and he really likes trimming the begonias, although he doesn’t seem to eat them, just clips off the leaves and leave them in a pile. His days are numbered. We’ll catch him in a live trap, but then he’ll probably get a swimming lesson in the river.

The coyote who likes the Italian prunes has been foiled. He broke the tree off a couple of years ago, but it’s put up a new vertical shoot (that he can’t climb), and the shoot is fruiting.

I went crazy in town yesterday and bought some veal, so we’re having weinerschnitzel very soon.

That’s it for life in the country this evening.

Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, and serendipity

June 7, 2007

OK, I did it. I managed to find another of those tasks that sucks up time without a real movement forward, so I’m still, I suppose, procrastinating. But I started in trying to tidy things up in a few places and found myself falling down the rabbit hole of free association once again.

Our house has a “library,” a necessity when you have thousands (not an exaggeration–my current estimate is about 5,000, I quit counting a thousand or so ago) books. But more accurately, it has multiple libraries.

The main library room has most of the fiction, all of Ben’s strange collection of medical, legal, and historical stuff, a ton of biography, and a couple of encyclopedias (children: this is what the world’s collection of knowledge used to be kept in before Wikipedia). The videos, most of the CDs, and even some cassette tapes are filed in what is called (for unknown reasons) “the African gun room,” a separate room off the main library that was originally intended (by Ben) to be a third spare bedroom before we realized how silly that was for a household of two dozens of miles from anywhere.

But my little “office,” originally our daughter’s bedroom here (she is now grown and on her own although she still, I think, prefers her old room to our more sumptuous guest suite when she comes to visit), has its own “library.” These are my books. They are a collection of “high” literary fiction, poetry, literary criticism, cultural and sociological studies, religious studies, and dozens of dictionaries. It also houses needlework and gardening books (the cookbooks are in a separate set of shelves in the kitchen) and my collection of audio and video lectures from The Teaching Company on topics as diverse as Nietzsche, Toqueville, quantum physics, astronomy, geology, and the origins of language.

OK, I hear the question: “You promised to talk about Kesey, Leary, and serendipity, and here you are rambling on about your bookshelves. What gives?”

The procrastinating task I found myself involved in today was trying to determine what on the bookshelves in my office could be dispensed with. This isn’t as stupid a task as it sounds, because the edges of the stairway from the kitchen to our bedroom are lined with books waiting to be put away. If the house caught fire with things as they are now, we’d probably both break our necks just trying to get downstairs in the dark, and the fire problem would be moot.

So I’m sorting away and I come across an old (2002) edition of Tin House, a literary magazine to which I used to subscribe. I start to put it in the reject pile when a cover headline catches my eye: “Ken Kesey’s Last Interview.”

This wouldn’t be so remarkable except that within the last two weeks my friend Carla told me how pleased she was that the interview she did with Ken Kesey, his last, was to be included in this publication’s anniversary anthology. I opened the magazine up, and sure enough, here’s Ken Kesey talking to Carla P****.  This comes out of the reject pile immediately. . .

In her interview, Kesey quotes the I Ching: “The best way to fight evil is to make energetic progress in the good.” Amen.

Kesey is one of my heroes, a kind and gentle person who was capable of great love. He recognized the dangers of the milieu in which he was dealing and did what he could to ameliorate them. I don’t feel the same way about Timothy Leary, who seemed to believe that the hazards of drug experimentation were what would separate the weak from the strong, and the weak be damned.

If there is any confusion at this point about how I feel about drugs, let me clear things up once and for all: I’m “agin” them, sort of. Here’s what I mean by that.

I’ve said elsewhere that marijuana is not for me. I realized that about 30 years ago when I woke up on a Monday morning realizing that the effects of the pot I had smoked on Saturday night were still present in my brain. I didn’t like that.

I have since watched two friends self-destruct on that “friendly” drug, men whose brains I greatly admired who lost the ability to reason when smoking. They ultimately lost it altogether.

There are NO friendly drugs. Alcohol does damage to your body. I accept this, and I try to balance the pleasure and the damage. Cigarettes help destroy your health. I’ve finally reached the point where the negatives aren’t worth the positives, and so I’m struggling with that addiction. Even lowly aspirin has both positive and negative effects.

But to those who would say “Cannabis is good, it promotes good health,” I can only answer, “Sorry, but in my experience it just isn’t true.” All drugs modify the way we perceive the world. So does an over-reliance on technology. So does buying into the current corporate/governmental mantra of “We know what is best for you.”

As a poet, my first job is to see things clearly. My second job is to try to communicate that vision to those who want to listen.

So listen up, guys. Pay attention to what the world around you is saying. If you have to escape, escape, but don’t try to justify it on the basis of “this is good for me.” It just isn’t true. Ken Kesey knew that; Timothy Leary didn’t.

What would I give for a cigarette at the moment?

June 2, 2007

I don’t really know. I just know it’s a very fine thing that it’s an hour’s drive to town and that I had the good sense to smoke all of those that I had before I became a non-smoker.

It’s now 8+ days without tobacco smoke.

Not without nicotine–I bought some of the lozenges when I flew back east with my brother. They kept me from going insane in airports and on planes, so I thought they might work longer term. And they seem to, although I’m not following the prescribed program of huge amounts slowly decreasing over 12 weeks. I just want to be done with this, so I started small and am getting smaller each day.

But they seem to work. So far I’ve resisted the urge to cram everything within sight into my mouth, and although I’ve occasionally been a bit pecky, I haven’t taken anyone’s head totally off yet. And I’m even sane enough to recognize when I’m being peckish and back off. Amazing.

So for the moment I’m working on trying to retrain myself. I think maybe I’m not one of those people who needs to change every habit they’ve got to quit smoking. I like my habits. I just need to learn to enjoy them without a cigarette in my hand.

So I’m doing the same old things for work breaks–sitting on the back deck laughing at the hummingbirds, slumped back in a chair under a mid-size fir by the garden, puttering around the potting bench. I’m just doing these things without tobacco and hoping that in the not too distant future, I won’t even miss it.

And when it gets too bad, a glass with a little ice, a lot of Scotch whiskey, and a sprinkling of spring water is amazingly calming. But only after 4 p.m. I have my standards, after all.