Thursday, May 29, 2008

What a long, strange trip it's been

…or Crazy Cat Lady gets outdone by Crazy Cat Guy

I met my best friend in college. We were on the gymnastics team together. I recognized him as a kindred spirit in the greater context of the universe and my perception was correct. We've been friends for a lotta decades now, given that we both hit sixty in the last half-year, and we've shared a number of adventures together over the years. I commented in another post that Bob is the one guy who'd always go along when I said, "Hey! Ya know what would be fun…?" Even when other people thought we were nuts. Even when they knew we were nuts. Even when we knew we were nuts.

I do have a point I wanna get to; but it's me, so it's gonna take a while to get there. Grab a beverage and follow along. Maybe a light snack, too.

One of our early commonalities was sailing. At one point in college, we decided to try to cross Lake Pontchartrain in a SeaSnark. For those of you unfamiliar with either or both of these, Lake Pontchartrain is not really a lake; it's an inlet/bay of the Gulf of Mexico, it's salt water, and it's about 25 miles across. A SeaSnark is a small sailboat made (IIRC) of styrofoam and suitable only for pleasant daysailing.

No, we didn't make it across on that particular adventure. Hey! It's the journey that's important, not the destination. Right?

Right after college we came very close to buying a slightly larger sailboat together, a 42-footer which had been designed and built by John Alden as his personal ocean racer. Unfortunately, that particular deal fell through and we didn't sail together again for almost thirty years, partly because in the mid-70s I moved from New Orleans to Seattle. This meant that Bob and I had a long-distance friendship but it remained strong. We had other adventures while mostly trying to make our way through what society foolishly calls "real life."

I remember one lovely camping trip when we were at the Dinosaur National Monument campground on the Green River. Now the Green River is one which is great for whitewater rafting trips, rating a Class III~IV on the scale of Total Bad-Assness. (I think that's the official term.) There were lots of sandstone towers across the river from the campground, so naturally we took an inflatable pool-type air mattress and hand-paddled across the river to explore and scale these formations. That expedition was successful. And we even made it back to the campground without drowning. Very successful!

Many years passed before Bob came to the Northwest for an actual whitewater raft trip. Rather than going with a boring, ordinary (expensive) guided trip, we went with a friend of a friend. Naturally this friend's friend was the kind of guy who made me look like a safety-weenie granny. His first suggestion was that we should use ducks. I dunno why the call 'em that; but a duck is a one person inflatable (raft-ish) whitewater paddle-craft.

Problem is, the composition of our group was: Our guide (Mister Macho No-Fear Professional), our mutual friend (Todd) who had a decent amount of whitewater experience, me who had a decent amount of whitewater experience, Bob who'd never done whitewater before, and another guy who'd never done whitewater before and had a baaaaaad hangover. Lemme tell ya about doing whitewater in a duck. It's hard fucking work.

A kayak moves easily through the water and your power-to-weight ratio as a solo paddler is pretty good. You are fast and maneuverable. A duck on the other hand has lots of wetted surface and it's an open boat. It's pretty much constantly full of water. That means it's heavy. And slow. It's approximately a googol more difficult to paddle a duck than a 'yak. Of course, if you have no experience in either, the duck is safer in the sense that you're sitting on/in it, not inside it like a 'yak. If you flip, you're swimming. If you flip in a 'yak, without knowing how to roll, you drown. And we're talking about water which was a glacier about five minutes ago. It's approximately 32.000001 degrees F.

I did not wanna do this trip in a duck and, being the almost, kinda, somewhat semi-responsible thoughtful fellow that I am, I definitely did not want Bob or the hungover newbie to do it in a duck. Todd obviously agreed because as soon as Mister Professional made the suggestion, we both all-but-screamed, "No! Let's just use the raft."

Did I mention that our intended river was typically a Class III, usually running at about 7000~8000 cfs (cubic feet per second) during times of good rafting, maybe threatening 10000 on an "exciting" day? Did I also mention that on this particular day it was running near 15000? Class III, my hairy, white ass.

Mister Professional grudgingly gave in and we put down the duckies (Hmmmnnnn, does this mean we can now play the saxophone?) and loaded the raft, the 8-person raft!, with 4 of us as paddlers, 2 of whom were newbies. You know that's gonna make for an exciting day at 15000 cfs.

And it was. We hit every bump and hole in the river and it was a hoot, even if we did have only 4 manpower in a boat which usually requires 8. Two incidents stand out from that trip. One, there's a spot where there's an eddy which you can catch and ride back upstream to take as many trips as you want over a particular set of rapids. The 'yaks do it all the time; rafters not so much, due to their lesser maneuverability. We, of course, went for it and made it! The first time.

The second time was less successful. We got sideways in the transition, then approached vertical, and everybody exited the boat in an octopus of flailing limbs except Mister Professional and your humble narrator. You know the old expression "eyes as big as saucers"? Well, Bob grew up in New Orleans. He's used to warm water. And he's used to the fact that if you're wearing a full wetsuit PLUS a lifejacket, you should float like a fucking cork. But this is whitewater. It churns. It roils. It gets foamy. And Bob is in this stuff, shocked from the instant FREEZE and unable to believe that he's not able to easily stay above the surface, despite his wetsuit and lifejacket. Like I said, eyes as big as saucers. I was so very happy to still be in the boat!

So Mister Professional controlled the raft while I pulled in our three frozen fish. Very exciting. Poor bastards shivered the entire rest of the trip.

The other memorable incident from that trip was the waterfall. Now, this is not a waterfall like you might typically imagine, with some huge drop. It's actually part of a manmade dam/flood-control system and the drop is typically only a coupla feet. At 15K cfs it was about 5 feet. No matter how large or small the drop is, no matter what the conditions, the professional rafters pull out and portage around it. All of them, all the time.

So, naturally, we went over it. Happily we made it. The alternative would have been bad. Very bad. Whitewater folks call it "getting maytagged." Like the washing machine. Get it?

It was a great day on the water! Any experience you survive is a good one, right?

For Bob's 40th birthday, I gave him a climbing rope and a plane ticket to Seattle. I was pals with some of the folks who were on the 1984 Ultima Thule Everest expedition and we planned to do Mount Rainier with Bob. It would be his first major mountaineering experience. We decided to do the Sunrise side which was less crowded than the Paradise-Muir route.

Alas, we didn't summit. Bob was great; he was ready to and could have. We failed to summit because my friend Tom, who had been on Everest fer gawd's sake, threw out his back and had to be carried back to the car on a litter. So Bob made it to the high camp level of the mountain (about 9500~10000 feet) but not to the summit. (Brief Aside: Tom wound up with some significant back problems and spent a lot of time out of work and in the hospital. Good thing he'd already been to Everest and back. It would NOT have been good to have that happen there.)

On the "success" side of this story, however, our attempt was during the period of the Perseid meteor shower. The night we camped at altitude, away from the loom of civilized light pollution, was a clear night. We were in our sleeping bags inside our bivi sacks, looking up at the night sky. Physical exhaustion and high-altitude low O2 conspired to make us sleepy but the sky was so beautiful we tried desperately to stay awake. The sky itself was fabulous but when it was streaked so frequently with the fire trails of the Perseids… Well, just WOW! I constantly found myself suddenly waking after a period of falling asleep despite trying to stay focused on the light show. The next morning, everybody reported the same experience. We all tried to stay awake to watch but constantly fell asleep for brief periods before waking again in excitement.

The most beautiful night I've ever spent camping. Exquisite.

We also put that rope to some good use rock climbing during that visit. Bob experienced a delightful (that means too-scared-even-to-shit-yourself!) rappel from a cliff of about 150 feet and also got to experience a fall from about halfway up while climbing that same cliff. Happily I was on belay when he peeled off and managed to hold him safely. Phew!

But sailing together… not so much. In fact, not at all. I had tried to be sailor when I moved to Seattle but it's just too damned cold for me to enjoy it most of the time. However, Ronnie and I talked it over and finally we dug into the family budget and gave me a 10-day boys-will-be-boys-only vacation with Bob chartering in the Caribbean.

Thanks, Ronnie! You're the best!

So in the Fall of 2000, Bob and I headed to the Virgin Islands to go sailing together for the first time in 30 years. I'd been a fan of the Freedom line of sailboats for a long time. My former Seattle boat partner had been a salesman for them, as well as other lines, and I knew and liked them very much. As it happened, there was one company in the Caribbean which chartered Freedoms, instead of the usual Beneteau Oceanis line of crap, so we had a fairly new Freedom 35 lined up for us for a 10-day cruise through the Virgins. No snide jokes, please!

Mercifully, I won't go into details about that trip. Suffice it to say that it was a great one, featuring 151-rum pina colada night, crystal-craze gummi candies served in red wine (Delicious, I swear! Try it!), and an appearance by the Infamous Monkey Bastard. Get Bob to tell you about him; I have nothing to say on the topic of the Infamous Monkey Bastard. Oh yeah, and some fabulous sailing, snorkeling, anchorages, chatting, etc.

Our next big sail was gonna be a crossing of the Gulf of Mexico from New Orleans to Florida, after our family had bought the Zombie Princess in preparation for a family cruise. The Gulf is notorious and I wanted to spare the girls that crossing cuz it can be nasty. Our plan was for Ronnie and the girls to drive to someplace like Naples while Bob and I sailed the boat there. Then Bob would drive our car back and park it while we continued on the first leg of our family cruise. Great plan. Unfortunately Katrina decided to put in an appearance. Oops.

So, our planned open-water sail did not materialize that year. While Bob tried to put his life back together in New Orleans, our little family escaped post-Katrina New Orleans and headed out into the Gulf on our own. You can read all about that on the ZP blog.

Now it's 2008. We're back in the Northwest, living the land-bound life and Bob has mostly put his New Orleans life back together, to the point where he's ready to sell one of his buildings. For the last coupla decades, although it seems longer, Bob has spent most of his waking time, money, and emotional effort supporting his girlfriend Anita in her pursuit of the crown of Craziest Cat Lady in the Universe. She has approximately 200 cats. We won't talk about the dogs; that's another subject. Yes, they all used to live at her suburban home. Well, Bob turned the garage into a cat condo, so they weren't all in the house all the time. Supposedly. Nonetheless…

Think about it. Ick! Luckily for her, two factors assisted her mania greatly: One, there is no number limitation specified on animal ownership where she lives; and two, garbage pickup is a flat rate, no matter how many cans you put out. And they put out a LOT of cans of litter every week, I can tell you. Due to legal and neighborhood pressure, Bob finally had to create a cat ranch for her on the North side of the lake on some property he has there and they moved most of the cats to the ranch. Most of 'em. Chainlink fencing and blue tarp roofs provided shelter for the cats and her fulltime caretaker started out living there in a tent.

Speaking of Katrina, here's a story for ya. While that 'cane destroyed most of civilized New Orleans, the cats in their chainlink housing with blue tarp roofs and the caretaker in his fucking tent survived unharmed. Go figure. FYI the caretaker now has a more substantial dwelling with airconditioning. Poor bastard. With the sale of his building (remember I mentioned that a coupla paragraphs ago), Bob is ready to build a house for Anita on that property and maybe a coupla rental units, for future income. Thus, she can be with her beloved cats fulltime. Except, of course, for the nights of the week (most of them) when she goes around the city feeding feral cats. And… well, never mind. I don't wanna be too negative. I'll bite my tongue.

However, Bob has dug deep into his almost-desiccated well of personal desire and fulfillment and used some of that money to buy something for himself. Way to go, my dearest friend! It's about fucking time!

Anita may have 200ish cats but Bob is about to have one. A 13-year-old cat. But she's a honey. A Fountaine-Pajot Athena 38. Isn't she a beauty?

Calliphygian, too. Meeeee-ooooowwww!

She has four staterooms and two heads and a huge saloon [N.B. Yes, that is the proper term. Check your Chapman.] which opens to an equally huge cockpit. I tend to describe her as "bigger than your first apartment." Deckspace and the forward trampolines are a crowd-pleaser and the interior has that unmistakable French flair.

Even the galley is stylish. That triangular shape to the left of the sink and stove is the fridge. Here's her layout:

She's had a recent refit, including a repaint. Cool!

She's currently in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, and Bob has signed the paperwork on a completed offer. Survey and sea trials are still pending; but assuming the survey goes well, he'll own her in about a month. Once he finally owns her, he'll hafta get her back to New Orleans. So, finally, we have a lovely twist of fate. Bob couldn't help me sail the Zombie Princess from New Orleans to Florida but it looks like I'll get to help him sail Gort from Florida to New Orleans.

Yeah, Gort. Remember the wonderful movie from the early 50s The Day the Earth Stood Still? Remember the implacable robot, Gort, and the shape of his visor covering his laser-firing lens? The Fountaine-Pajot cabintop and windowspace instantly reminded Bob of that look and I agree. Whatcha think?

Anyway, if all goes well, Gort and his dink, Klaatu, will be heading to New Orleans, probably in early August, and I'll be crewing for my best friend and the kindest, most wonderful guy in the entire fucking universe (including Klaatu!), Captain Bob.

Congratulations, mon vieux! You deserve this a thousand times over and I am EXCITED to crew for ya!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Days in goodness spent

LifeIsGood Conference 2008!

It is, of course, impossible to know where to start, what to write, and where to stop; so, I'm just gonna shotgun some stuff out there and what sticks, sticks and what falls away, falls away.

At one level, you wanna say that unschooling is all about the kids and that was certainly true; the kids and their interactions and activities were the beating heart of the entity which was the conference. But radical unschooling (or whatever label you wanna assign to it) is a philosophy/lifestyle which informs every member of the family and the weltanschauung of family living. In that sense, it's not just about the kids but about the entire family and how the family interacts with the larger universe in which it functions. In that vein, I saw a lot of adults blossoming and relaxing because all the other adults there accepted their kids and their entire family for what they are, without the usual societal assumptions of what they should be, according to some laundry list which was apparently passed out one day at school while I was out sick. Maybe it was in one of those business classes I avoided at college? Anyway, I'm happy to have missed that particular lesson.

Kids were loved and hugged and accepted. And parents were loved and hugged and accepted. It's really all any of us wants, whether we're six or sixty, simply to be accepted for what we are, warts and all (as Schuyler might say!). Nobody grabbed a sparkly child's arm and hauled her away while stage-whispering, "You're embarrassing me!" Nobody said to their injured, crying child, "Be a man! You're not really hurt."

And nobody demanded of the parent of a shiny sparkler that they should control their unruly child, nor did anyone complain to a parent consoling a distraught child that there was too much nurturing going on and some tough love was called for. What a nice break from the social ocean I typically swim in. Predator-filled, that thing is and our happy conference lagoon of acceptance was a welcome respite.

The rate of the beating heart of the conference was set by the drum circle and, believe you me!, it was groooooovy. Ronnie the Rhythm Mistress got our pulse pounding!

If the kids were the heart of the conference, grooving to the beat of the drum circle, Mary was obviously the brain. Thank you! Thank you! A thousand times, thank you! You organized this madhouse into a coherent unity. Amazing. Of course, now I'm not mentioning Jon, and us guys gotta stick together; so maybe you're the superego of the conference's brain and Jon is the id. That leaves Conor and Qacei as the two halves of this brain's ego. Ok, maybe that analogy doesn't work so well; but a million thanks, anyway, O Brainy Diva!

Continuing the organ theme, the lungs of the conference got their breath from the sharing between and among participants. We breathed in the fresh and refreshing philosophical O2 provided by our fellow unschoolers and offgassed our CO2 of fear, doubt, and insecurity. The more experienced among us provided one isotope of O2 while the newbies provided another but they were all valuable and refreshing. It's all O2, baby, and don't let anybody tell ya otherwise.

I don't really wanna continue this metaphor to such a granular level that I cover every organ in the body. I mean, who wants to know about the conference's kidneys? However, I do feel that Jon deserves a mention for contributing to the workload of the conference's liver. Yum! Cocktails good! For that matter, the wine tasting was a very pleasant interlude for me, too. I'm definitely not an oenophile (which I lovingly pronounce as "weenie-phile") but I do enjoy a nice glass of wine. And I certainly did that night! Thanks to all the providers and our two wine professionals. A swell time for me individually but Mister Liver is tired now and he needs a nice rest.

The voice of the conference was the panglossalalia of all our various voices blending into the harmony of one concept, even if it was expressed across a bit of a spectrum rather than on one single wavelength. Individuality in all things, eh?

And who could doubt that the feet of the conference were made manifest at the Barefoot Boogie! Phew! I'm still tired. The lovely MJ put together a kickass playlist.

Ok, to finish this metaphor with a well-deserved euthanasia, each of us was the eyes of the conference. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the eyes have it! I'm not a huge Lord Byron fan but I'll close with a poem of his and specify an allusion between the poet's "she" and the embodiment of the personification of the conference itself.

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!

Days in goodness spent, indeed! I had a helluva good time and, if you were there, I hope you did, too. If you weren't there, get your ass in gear and ATTEND next year! I expect to see you there!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Technology just keeps getting cooler

Check this out - Google Ocean!

I was hipped to this by a post from Laureen. Thanks, old pal, and may you enjoy fair winds, joyful unschooling, and noniatrogenic birthing.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Unsub profile

This post is actually just a comment on this post about this photo.

It should be obvious to even the most casual observer that this unsub is a desperately dangerous dastard. Therefore, we have sought out a noted profiler to give us some insight into this creature. We easily decided on our first choice and selected Dr. Hannibal Lecter to do a profile for us. Unfortunately, as it turned out, that was not possible. We were all too fucking afraid of him and nobody had the balls to contact him, even by e-mail, much less by phone, and if you're thinking in person… Well, go visit him yourself, if you think you're so tough! We ain't that stoopid. So, we went with our second choice.

He may be only #2 on our list but he doesn't make us go #2 in our pants like Lecter does. Therefore, he's #1 in our hearts and besides he drives a Porsche and plays blues piano so he must be a pretty cool guy. And we're not afraid that he's gonna kill us and cook us and eat us, not necessarily in that order. He is a psychiatrist. He has been a detective for the D.C.P.D. and an FBI senior agent. He is currently a consultant to the D.C.P.D. and also continues to provide profiling services to the FBI. He was portrayed in two movies about his cases by Morgan Freeman. Please allow us to introduce our guest expert, Dr. Alex Cross. (With our thanks to James Patterson for the loan.)

Dr. Cross…

Thank you. I'm happy to be here today and I'm very glad you decided to call me in on this one. I only hope we're in time to stop him before he strikes again. Remember that profiling is an inexact science but it is nonetheless a useful tool in defining and tracking offenders who are more than a few sigmas out toward the asymptotic end of the curve. And lemme tell you, this guy is WAY out there where things start to get really flat! Let's dissect this unsub scientifically and rationally:

He is a wackadoo of the first water. No question in my mind.

This is a White male, approximately 60 years of age. Decrepit old bastard but still dangerous. Some highly probable characteristics of this unsub are: He has a family and can appear to be fairly normal. Lives in a house. Despite the fact that he can maintain a semblance of normalcy, he cannot sustain such an act. He continually gives away his true self to an aware observer. It's highly likely that he has a collection of edged weapons, most likely swords. Many swords. It's also likely that he has no guns. He disdains them as impersonal and proletarian, the tool of a worker rather than the instrument of an artist. He sees himself as an elite aesthete and will typically argue ad crumenam and never ad lazarum.

As for what the physicality of this photo tells us…

Note the dark, all-concealing sunglasses. The truth of his putrescent personality hides in those dead eyes which he does not reveal to the public. The supercilious tilt of the head all-but screams out his adherence to the concept of a gom jabbar for humanity, with his own taste and perceptions being the yardstick for those who deserve to live as humans and those who don't. I guarantee that yardstick will be a preniciously persnickety one. And that smirk. Well, ya don't need to be a highly-paid psychiatrist profiler to know that that shit don't mean you no good. It makes me shudder just to look at it for more than an instant. He's been getting away with his vile vexations for a long time and his confidence is boundless.

Notice the essential baldness and length of that wispy grey hair. He's obviously far too egotistical to trim that mess or simply shave the already-mostly-bare top. It's a statement to the masses he despises. He's saying: I hate your society. I reject everything you stand for. I piss on your fast food and shit on your consumer goods. I was with SNCC and SDS and my alphabet soup is superior to your pathetic FBI and CIA. You suck. I'm cool. Fuck you and that Detroit POS you drove in on. You won't be driving out the same way cuz now you're my meat.

Scary, huh?

And that beard. I dunno what to say about that. At least it's better than chin pubes but ick! He's so obviously deranged I can't believe he hasn't been apprehended before now.

In conclusion, it is my professional opinion, both as a psychiatrist and as an officer of the law and of the court, that this hydrophobic hound should be put down. In plain English - Shoot him on sight. Shoot to kill. Shoot early. Shoot often. After you've emptied your first magazine, put in another one and empty it, too. In this instance, we distinctly recommend the official N.O.P.D. shooting policy which requires an officer to fire three warning shots into the heart of the suspect before yelling, "Halt! NOPD!"

Removing the head and burying it separately (Be sure to stuff the mouth with garlic!) wouldn't be a bad idea, either. Of course, fire is always good.

This guy is more dangerous than a syphilitic, drunken, one-toothed extra from Deliverance who just found a lost titanium American Express Black Card or, as Kanye West calls it, the African American Express Card. I have one and it's pretty damned cool. Anyway...

Thank you for your time today. As soon as we're done here, we'll be issuing a BOLO with an addendum of "Dangerous! The use of excessive force has been approved - shoot on sight!" to all law enforcement agencies worldwide.

Good luck to all of us with this monster running around loose!

Any questions?

Friday, May 02, 2008

Not-so-slow-cook Nday

The inestimable Mrs. G., Doyenne Meilleur of Derfwad Manor, does this delightful thing she calls Slow Cook Thursday where she hosts someone whose personality is revealed by Mrs. G's version of the Proust Questionnnaire, a la James Lipton (Inside the Actors Studio), a la Bernard Pivot, a la, a la, outs in free.

Being a great admirer of classical literature, I know that even the very best writers have been known to steal an idea, file off the serial numbers, repaint it, and offer it up as their own creation. Who am I to argue with genius? Therefore, I am hereby flat-out stealing this thing from Mrs. G. and "repainting" it for my own amusement here. Imagine a base of green/purple chameleon paint with some swoopy, badass graphics in hot orange.

I hope that Mrs. G., if she ever even notices the theft, will consider it in the context of imitation as the sincerest form of flattery rather than theft of intellectual property as an actionable, litigial offense.

Let us begin.

Where are you from?
New Orleans. I am a child of Jim Crow, Civil Rights, the (Viet Nam) antiwar movement, New Orleans blues, French laissez-faire Catholicism with a soupcon of Voodoo, and drive-through daiquiri stands. Before I was 18, I was playing music in seedy French Quarter bars while attending an exclusive military prep school run by the Jesuits and the U.S. Marines. It was a fascinating place and time to grow up. At this point in my life, I've actually spent more years in the Seattle area but New Orleans defined my formative years.

Who is your favorite musical artist?
I protest. Not a realistic question! To resist, I'm tempted to give an uncooperative answer: ME! However, I'll give ya this. The living musician I would most like to be like is Art Neville. It was Professor Longhair, before he died. I love James Brown. And then there's John Lee Hooker and most of the Delta Blues gang, especially the graduates of the Angola School of Music and most especially the ones who did postgraduate work at Angola's exclusive Red Hat House. Yeah, you know what I'm talkin' about. Also, like the song says: I don't like Reggae. Oh no! I LOVE it! Bob Marley's Exodus is an anthem for all time. I could go on… and on…

What is your idea of a perfect Sunday morning?
Morning? Well, adjusted for my personal timeframe… Wake at eleven-ish. Snuggle and make love with Ronnie for an hour or so. Have a nice shower together. Go downstairs to find that the girls have prepared a wonderful brunch which we all enjoy together: Champagne and/or kir royale, limitless quantities of bacon, quiche, crab cakes, and Bananas Foster, with pleasant family conversation and discussion about what we might like to do for the afternoon and evening. That takes us into the early afternoon and our postprandial nap!

Too bad this is the "idea of a perfect Sunday morning" which means it's pure fantasy! Although, come to think of it, the girls know how prepare every item in that brunch menu. Hmmmmnnnnnnn...

Baths or showers?
Both simultaneously. I like my water VERY HOT. Our tub has two showerheads (at opposite ends) and I start with a drenching shower to get clean, then let the tub fill while the shower continues to beat down as I recline in languor. Sometimes when the tub is full, I'll stop the shower and jacuzzi for a while. Whether I jacuzzi or not, after a while I'll drain the tub (still under, or returning to, the flowing shower) and let it refill. Ultimately, I'll drain the tub and finish with a vigorous shower rinse. When our present water heater dies, I'm gonna replace it with an even bigger one. This is my one, great, consistent, personal indulgence.

What is the last book you read?
I read a lot so the answer to this question could be anything from sublime to sub-slime on any given day. My specific response today is: Fiction, Darkly Dreaming Dexter – Lindsay. Nonfiction, The God Delusion – Dawkins.

What is the last movie you saw?
As with books, I watch a lot of movies. My specific answer today is Shichinin no Samurai (Seven Samurai), one of my favorites which I revisit at least once a year.

If no one is around, do you swear?
Fuck yeah! I swear alone, with family, in public, on this blog, every fucking place.

Who is your secret [boy/girl]friend?
I guess it hasta be Salma Hayek. She's physically alluring, intelligent, articulate, talented… Hell! She's almost as desirable as my princess, Ronnie! Now if I could only get Ronnie to replicate Salma's snake-laden striptease from the movie From Dusk Til Dawn… Yow!

Waitaminit! Brain fart update on 5/9. Howzabout Emmanuelle Beart? Check her out in Date with an Angel. It's much more entertaining than that pathetic Mission Impossible crap with Mr. Psycho Scientology. Or, of course, in any of her French-language movies. I completely forgot about her and her famous cover shot for Elle.

What is your favorite laundry detergent?
REI's campsuds because it's biodegradable and it makes me think about being in the Carribbean, sitting on the sugarscoop (swim platform) hand-washing my clothes and my self in the warm, tropical ocean before a final rinse of fresh water from the cockpit shower. Ahhhhh!

If hell exists, what would you like to hear Satan say when you arrive at the fiery gates? And those ain't the thermopylae of classical Greece, I can assure you!
I don't believe in supernatural hokum of any kind. Alive is alive and dead is dead. Period. However, to play along, I'll present Lucifer, Former Prince of All the Angels [Princeps Angelorum Olim *Futurusque*?], this way.

Lucifer appears as a man of middle height, approximately thirty years of age, mesomorphic, and the color of malt-flavored Ovaltine. His hair is brownish-black, wavy, and worn in a long ponytail. His eyes are the green of the mutagen pouring from Circe's glass bowl onto the unsuspecting Scylla in Waterhouse's Circe Invidiosa bracketing a nose with an insouciant knob from an unrepaired past break and his full lips are curved in an inviting smile contained within a full-but-closely-trimmed beard. He wears low-quarter, white, indoor court shoes with volleyball kneepads resting on the tongues, bright yellow shorts, and a long-sleeved Fox Racing jersey in white, blue, and yellow.

He stands beneath an imposing arch of lustrous obsidian, designed in a Japanese-flavored Roman style, whose keystone bears the engraving: TYRANNI NON CEDE. (Do not kneel to a tyrant.) And below that: PARILIS PARILEM INVOCAT. (Like calls to like.) I see myself reflected refulgently in the obdurate obsidian and am intrigued. Instead of the old, grey, balding fat man I normally see in the mirror, I, too, appear thirtyish and in my competitive-gymnast shape. Pleasure floods through me in a warm wave, like a healthy bolus of diazepam introduced directly into a vein. Like my host, I'm wearing white tennies with kneepads resting at my ankles. My shorts are an incarnadine shade which can only be my favorite cadmium red, and my long-sleeved jersey mirrors that color with the addition of a festive chromium yellow and a purple so Tyrian as to make a Caesar jealous.

Lucifer steps forward and enfolds me in an exuberant embrace, kissing both cheeks, then steps back with a wide smile, revealing good teeth which have neither been tortured by the modern American fervor for unnaturally pluperfect orthodonture nor do they resemble a picket fence hit by a runaway car like typical British dentition. When he speaks, his voice is pleasantly modulated and his English is American standard with a dash of Creole seasoning. He exclaims:

Bienvenue, mon vieux, where ya at? We've been waiting for you! We have a great volleyball match starting soon, so let's go get warmed up. After that, we'll recuperate with a crawfish boil and an evening of wide-ranging conversation fueled by a mature merlot. Or two. I'm gratified to guarantee we'll have a tremendous time today and during each and every evanescent event of every eon of your amaranthine afterlife. Before you know it, Ronnie will be along to join in. Welcome home!

He pauses briefly, an almost unnoticeable caesura, then continues in a slightly quieter, intimate tone,

Parilis parilem invocat. C'mon; there are some people I know you've just died to meet!

He winks and turns to pass under the arch, heading toward the gym. I follow with a bounce in my sweet, new tennies.

There's no room here for my very favorite narrative poem: The Aeneid by Vergil. (Note my e-mail name is PVMaro, for Publius *Vergilius* Maro.) Instead, I give you these shorties:

O xein!, angellein Lakedaimoniois hoti teide
keimetha tois keinon rhemasi peithomenoi! - Simonides of Ceos


Non amo te, Sabidi,
nec possum dicere quare;
hoc tantum possum dicere,
non amo te. - Martial

plus its amusing English translation/variant:

I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why, I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell. - Thomas Brown

I do NOT do crockpots, pressure cookers, electric ranges, nonstick pans, and a whole lotta other stuff that I just don't like to cook with. But specific to this exercise, I don't do crockpots (slow cookers). Instead I'll offer the kids' favorite cruising recipe, which takes a while to cook so it kinda counts as "slow" - Sole Chicken aka Teak-and-holly Chicken. It's called that because midway through the cooking process when I went to check on it, I spilled the contents of the dish onto the sole. The "floor" of a sailboat is called the "sole" and it makes a nice auditory play on soul vs. sole. The sole is made of teak and holly strips, thus the alternate name "teak-and-holly chicken."

Being the frugal (CHEAP!) sailor/chef that I am, I just scooped it all back into the dish, confident that the continued cooking would kill any germs. According to the kids, this step is what adds that special flavor which is otherwise missing. You may consider this step optional!

Enjoy a rum punch in the cockpit while watching the sun set as the chicken cooks. Alternatively, you may prefer a tequila sunset cocktail if you think there's a possibility that a flock of pink "terries" might do a sunset fly-by. (wink!) [If this reference makes absolutely no sense to you, read this post. The specific revelation is near the end.] Then have another with dinner. Or two. Perfect!

Sole Chicken aka Teak-and-holly Chicken
feeds 4

Chicken breasts – 4 (I like boneless-skinless but it doesn't really matter)
Onion – 1 chopped fine
Bell pepper – 1 chopped fine
Celery – a coupla ribs chopped fine
Garlic – a few toes chopped fine
Bay leaf – a couple
Rum – enough to get things wet (I use a cup... or so!)
Orange juice – 1/2 cup or so (when cruising, substitute a local juice: guava, etc.)
Cinnamon – about 1 tsp
Cayenne – to taste (that means use a LOT!)
Paprika – to taste
Salt and pepper – to taste
Cooked rice

Preheat oven to 350. Pour half the rum and half the OJ into a 9X13 baking dish. Sprinkle half the veggies (all the bay leaves) into the dish. Place breasts on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon, cayenne, paprika, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle the rest of the veggies over the chicken. Splash on the rest of the rum and OJ. Bake about an hour, depending on your oven. (Boat ovens are notoriously finicky.) Place breasts on plates and serve with rice. Remove the bay leaves and stir the veggies. Correct the seasonings then spoon 'em over the rice. Or put 'em on the side. Or not, depending on how much your kids like or dislike veggies.

Remember, to make truly authentic (original-style) sole chicken, after about half an hour of cooking, open the oven to check the chicken and spill it onto the sole (floor). Then scoop it all back into the pan. Like I said earlier, you're free to consider this step optional!


Thanks, Mrs. G! My abject apologies for abusing your memorable meme.