Monday, April 11, 2011

Corporal Jigsore Quandary

Last Thursday night, I talked to Angela on the phone, as we do every month or so. On Friday night I did laundry, which I give myself permission to do now that I’m nearly 49, which is nearly 50. (I always had permission to do laundry, but there seemed to be some reason not to do it on Friday night, like that I might be out having some fabulous social event.) I recall hearing a man grumbling, years ago, about visiting the bars regularly and never meeting any nice men. “That’s because the good men aren’t in the bars—they’re home ironing,” his friend explained.

Saturday morning I went to the Zen Center, where they were celebrating the Buddha’s birthday. Steve St├╝cky gave the talk and then we had a festive procession to the park across the street and circumambulation and chanting; there were parasols and streamers and rose petals everywhere. It's nice to walk along the sidewalk and have someone tossing flower petals over you. We crossed the street again afterward and had cookies and tea in the courtyard.

Normally the after-talk cookies are tasty and rather small, as befits a cookie you eat an hour before lunch, but for this occasion, someone had made the most fabulous, decadent, not-small brownies—they were like slabs of chocolate frosting. It was most enjoyable to sit in the Zen Center courtyard with the sun beating down, having such a magnificent thing to eat, complete with peppermint tea. Lunch was a hearty kidney bean soup with ginger and chunks of sweet potato.

When I got home, I did some chores around the apartment and in the evening I saw Inception, which I don’t think got great reviews, but of course is the year’s best movie as far as we lucid dreamers are concerned. I could scarcely follow it, but I thought it was dazzling and magnificent. I always like to watch Leonardo DiCaprio, too.

On Sunday I went to Rainbow—behind me in line at the cash register was another person from Howie’s sitting group—and then I made Spanish rice, home fried potatoes for immediate consumption, Bieler Broth, and blondies. I adapted the Spanish rice recipe from Deborah Madison’s, and it’s a lot easier and faster, and just as good. Home fries are a cooking-day tradition. I usually use an onion in them, but that’s a lot of onion (hence poor potato-to-onion ratio), so this time I used a lesser amount of shallots, and the finished product was perfect.

Bieler Broth is pureed celery, zucchini, green beans and fresh parsley. I may have gotten into it when I had my tooth out and had to eat soft food for a week or two. It ensured that I’d get a blast of green vegetable matter, and I’ve continued to make it every week and have it for dinner for two nights.

The blondies were in hopes I could stop buying Rainbow’s packaged ones—I’d really like to buy no plastic whatever, if possible—but they didn’t come out well and ended their evening in the compost bin. The recipe was kind of strange to begin with, and I had to make substitutions based on what Rainbow had, so the finished product, while being ultra-sweet, didn’t actually taste very good and had the consistency of asphalt on an August day in Michigan (gooey and sticky, but not liquid).

I would have taken them to work, but it would have been tricky transferring them to a container and out again.

When the building manager and I were exchanging emails about the smoke in the hallway, she mentioned that she was looking forward to having the pigeons gone from the fire escape, but I myself was sorry we'd be losing them. While the smell of the nest was rather powerful on wet days, I’d grown fond of their little burbling sounds. Fortunately, the Bird Busters’ efforts weren’t entirely successful. The nesting area itself is closed off, but there are still plenty of birds hanging around, so I hear them as much as ever, and the smelly nest is no more.

Tom and his girlfriend borrowed a bread pan from me several weeks ago and returned it promptly the next day, clean. When I’m getting rid of stuff, I always consider Tom’s apartment as a possible outlet, and indeed he recently agreed to take an item I don’t use anymore, and when I took it upstairs to him, he said his girlfriend had something for me, as well: a brand-new, sturdy, American-made, quite handsome bread pan! Tom said she thought she might have stained mine. Can you believe that? I told Tom he has my one hundred percent permission to marry her—she is really nice! And extremely easygoing of manner, and very cute, too. I sent her a note of thanks and she wrote back that the three of us should have dinner one of these days.

I haven’t quite decided whether to keep the Internet radio or not. I tried listening to a dharma talk on it and it wasn’t all that satisfactory, because whereas I can still get the gist if I miss a sentence here and there of On the Media, with a dharma talk, I really want to hear every word. However, possibly everyone in the vicinity doesn’t also want to hear every word, so turning it up to a mind-bending volume might not be the thing.

It also does not switch readily at all between its two main modes, accessing the Internet and accessing my computer. It has to “update firmware” every time you change or change back, and quite often I have to go through all the setup steps again from scratch, though it does preserve my favorites. I tried assigning a static IP, but made some wrong choice somewhere and will have to try again.

I actually decided I would just return it, but then I turned on the regular radio to listen to KQED, found it a bit staticky, and used the nice, clear Internet radio instead. Also, I really am enjoying listening to hours of Snakenet Metal Radio and discovering music I wouldn’t bump into anywhere else. I downloaded (bought) Grand Magus's mp3 album Hammer of the North. They’re from Stockholm.

The Snakenet band and song titles often make me chuckle: “Remains of a Remembrance,” by Lethargy of Death, or “Corporal Jigsore Quandary” by Carcass. Then of course there’s “Dead Embryonic Cells” by Sepultura and “Black Seeds of Vengeance,” by Nile. When it comes to vocalists, you have your screamers, your growlers, your vomiters, your opera singers and your high-note guys, though you’ll also find quite a large percentage of instrumentals in this genre. On rare occasion, you’ll even hear a woman’s voice.
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