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Wednesday, December 26, 2012


For the past several years I've been the fortunate recipient of an invitation by some friends in New Hampshire to spend the Christmas holiday.

Now while friendship and festivity is more than enough reason to accept such a proposition, is this when I say that these folks are absolutely spectacular cooks? And that the menu for dinner usually looks like something out of a culinary magazine?

B&P have been married for many years now, and are card carrying members of the "the couple that cooks together, stays together" mantra. It's a kitchen pas de deux in a stage where the tools of the dance have been lovingly assembled over the course of time; the stock pot bubbling on stove for countless hours, the myriad spice and sauce jars in their assigned spots for easy reach.

Dinner is a multi-course affair which includes the aforementioned mushrooms.

In the overall scheme of things, the simply sauteed mushrooms could potentially be dwarfed by the roast or the chocolate mousse. Some dishes just beg for center stage.

The mushrooms, however, for the past few years now not only missed out on center stage, but instead stayed in the oven, completely forgotten in the pre-dinner serving madness or the chewing and ooohing that happens just after that.

Hours later, someone would remember them and pull them out from the oven, lost and forlorn, and definitely not eaten.

This year, however, the mushrooms had their moment of glory: all during the preparations constant reminders were posted to make sure they indeed made it to the table.

"Someone responsible remind me to take them out of the oven this time!" said P as his wife B nodded agreement.

I rose to the challenge, it was an honor of sorts to be the Official Mushroom Reminder. We posted notes on assorted social media and sent ourselves messages to our various telephones. 
The mushrooms made it to the plates for once.

Amen, and pass the mushrooms, please.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Considering that in just about two days the Mayan Calendar will end, it's high time I wrote about it. Even NASA is in on the act: they've assembled a handy dandy Q & A which you can read HERE.

Theories about what will occur run the gamut: from one in which an as yet unseen planet called Nibiru will smack into Earth and another claiming Earth will totally black out.

My personal favorite, however, is the one about the flipping of the Earth's axis, including a complete polar shift. North will be south, and south will be north, maybe.

Why the fascination with this?

Ever since I was a kid I obsessed about the notion that everyone in The Land Down Under was walking upside down, even as I walked right side up. (Okay, I did take things too literally sometimes.) I dreamed up long walks over the planet's terrain, in which I would head down under and try to suss out just when I'd start feeling the upside down sensation.

A friend of mine, Hugh, lives in Australia, along with a bunch of his friends and countless other folks. According to my childhood theories, Hugh, his friends and everyone else in that neck of the woods are upside down even as I write and you read -- but that could change very quickly.

If all goes according to the doomsday predictors, and Earth's axis flips on December 21, then Hugh, Oz and the rest of the southern hemisphere will finally be right side up. Which of course means myself and the rest of the northern hemisphere will be upside down. 

As if that's not weird enough, Aussies are on a different time frame, and their calendars will read December 21 hours before it will in my neck of the woods. The party may start early for them.

Maybe I can get Hugh and his mates to give us a (pardon the pun) heads up?

Amen, and pass the Dramamine.

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Joyce Kilmer, whose birthday is today, wrote "I think that I will never see a poem lovely as a tree." 

It is an immortal line, thoughtful, sincere and simple in its construction. A line, as anyone who fancies themselves a writer, that outlived the scribbler because it is just so easily understood by the reader.

But mostly, it's a thought that anyone who has walked the earth comprehends not because of its simplicity but because there is not one of us mere humans that has not at some point or another witnessed the glory that is a tree. Not so secretly, most of us form an attachment to one or several of them as we live out our days. And yes, we watch in mute horror when a force of Nature knocks one of them over as we stand helpless to do anything about it.

Trees come in myriad shapes and sizes, beings that grace just about all corners of this planet that we call home.  We plant them on special occasions, nurture them as time passes, and sit under them while they provide us with a modicum of shade on a hot day. We use trees to build shelters, burn trees to keep out the dark and make paper from them so we can record our deepest thoughts. Often we hold some of our most sacred rituals -- burying our dead, saying a bridal vow -- in their shadow.

Trees grow deep roots and endure as silent sentinels of life, qualities we humans aspire to and admire on a core level.  And while poetry is an art form invented by people, Kilmer was absolutely right.

Amen, and enjoy the wind as it whispers through the leaves.