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Goodbye Garden, Hello Dinner! November 25, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Dinner with TCR.
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Had the privilege and pleasure of the company of Elder Progeny and Ultimate Spawn this weekend (as well as Ultimate’s friend Michelle,) and took this opportunity to turn the last of the garden into the World’s Freshest Thanksgiving Dinner.

Step one: Hit the garden for (I promise!) the Very Last Time. Spading fork in hand, lemme see, where were those (now gone) ‘tater plants? …And look, the onions have grown new tops, it’s weird but OK. And under the shin-deep leaves where the squash used to be… one more! Spared the ravages of numerous hard frosts and this past week’s snow by snuggling under these leaves. Thanks man, I’ll be putting you to good use in the next day or two!

But for now, the Last Bucket comes in:

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…and while the kids “sleep in” (what a life! Well, actually, they bust their little asses when they’re off at school, so I do believe they’re entitled,) The Haul is magically (well, ok, mechanically) transformed into The Fabled Thanksgiving Dinner.

Voilà!

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Our own potatoes and onions, local organic carrots, Ms. Lumina and Frau Biergut’s amazing little organic Brussels sprouts, World Famous (and indeed justifiably so) Florida Mountain Turnips (from the next town over, and sweeter than a country virgin,) Daddy’s Secret Recipe Dressing, and of course, Teh Bird.

Oh, and cranberry sauce from a can. “The real kind, ” as Archie Bunker would say.

Thus begins the simple pleasures of eating like a piggie and succumbing to the Siren seduction of a tryptophan dream.

Thank you, Mother Earth. Thank you, Father Sky.

And, um,  Thank you, Ceiling Cat! 🙂

A Few Images From My Week November 25, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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Bittersweet

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Trees

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Partridge Berry and Sphagnum Moss

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A Pond in Plainfield

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…and that’s all! 🙂

A Virtual Vacation! November 24, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature.
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I’m poor, you know, so I don’t get around much these days.

Not that I haven’t ever, mind you; as a Young Turk I traveled some, and fell madly in live with the Southwest. Deep canyons, high mountains, expansive views… breathtaking!

So it was with some measure of enthusiasm and excitement that I heard the word of my dear friend Lizz Bartlett’s recent return from a trip out west, camera in hand and pen at the ready.

By way of introduction, I’m happy to say that Lizz is my part-time meat-world neighbor, living literally one mile down river from me. She’s a research biochemist in the Boston area, an awesome ice climber (which is how we met,) and an inordinately fine human being.

She’s also a gifted and dedicated photographer, so when Lizz travels, I eagerly await her photo-enhanced trip reports.

Lizz’s visit to Zion National Park is documented here. Check it out!

Friday Cat Blogging November 23, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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I HAZ KITTEHZ!

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Their names are Left Kitteh and Right Kitteh.

Meyowza!

The Six Remaining Things November 23, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death.
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17 comments

An embarrassingly long while back, Sparticus tagged me with the task of revealing ten things about myself which you “regulars” don’t know.

Well, given my penchant for pitiful, self-deprecating exposés and shameless psychic self-portraits, I came up a good bit short (now, don’t you start!) on new material, and humbly “passed” on the task.

But Sparticus, being the good-hearted team player that he is, wouldn’t let it rest. He kindly supplied the First Four of the Intended Ten, and urged me to round out the roster.

And you know, I’m not the kind of guy who lays in the shade while a Good Samaritan tills my fields, so here goes:

Sparticus’ First Four

1.) I’m an awesome cook. Thank you. I enjoy eating, and it behooves me to cook food which I’ll enjoy. I’ll gladly whip up something humble for any blogger who makes it this far off the beaten path.

2.) I write awesome poetry. There’s that word again… I’m a bit taken aback when I hear this – up until this summer, every poem I ever wrote started with either “There once was a man from Nantucket” or “Here I sit, broken hearted…” But Thanks, Spart, I’m workin’ on it.

3.) I’m a Good Man. Holy Cow, is THAT subjective! But Momma raised me right, so I’ll just say “Thank-you” and blush.

4.) I have a cute ass. Tactfully attributed to “some of the gals in the blogsphere.” Thanks, gals. I’d like to point out that at the moment, it’s up for grabs. And I’m dying from the back-pressure, so either get your sweet selves over here or send your sister. ‘Nuff said.

Sparticus, you get a gold star for being a Team Player. Thanks for the virtual kick in the ass.

Well now, that leaves me with six to go.

5.) I’m a Clutter-Monkey. A pack-rat, a hoarder, a slob. Not dirty, mind you, just a collector of stuff, unwilling to throw away things which aren’t, strictly speaking, junk. Here’s the entry room into my apartment:

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Nice, huh? Great first impression when I finally bring That Special Someone home for the first time. I know, I’m working on it. But a lifetime dysfunction is hard to kick.

6.) I used to be SERIOUSLY into music. Played keyboards for most of my younger days, not very well, but enough to have a deep understanding of music. I’ve written nearly a hundred songs, some of them quite good (IMHO) and still write today. One of these days I’m gonna start playing again, and then you’ll be sorry!*

*My brother has gotten back into playing the guitar and has been encouraging me. I’m rooting for him.

7.) Some people equate “big” with “hard.” I’m living proof that It Ain’t Necessarily So.

The biggest thing I ever climbed was a 2,200′ cliff in California, atop 3,000′ of steep granite slabs. The resultant mile of vertical exposure was trouser-filling, to say the least:

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That’s my buddy Mark The Canadian yelling, “Get this! ” We got it, Mark. You rock!

The hardest thing I ever climbed was an eight-foot tall boulder near my home. Took me six months of trying, several evenings a week, to get up it. Ridiculous, I know, but when you’re a climber, you can’t walk away from that kind of an opportunity.

8.) I turned down a MENSA membership when I graduated from high school. Back then I was a brilliant little hippy who thought that kind of thing was way too “establishment.” Fuck. Now that I’m a feeble old half-wit, I wish I had taken them up on it. A MENSA card would be a funny thing to drool on when they put me in The Home, and a great retort in the present for all those Reicht-Wingers who assail me with “So you think you’re so fuckin’ smart, do ya??”

9.) Closin’ in on it here, folks.

OK, here’s something from my present which you may or may not have picked up on: I’m horribly insecure.

This shortcoming was recently exacerbated by taking the on-line test (GAWD I hate those things!) proffered by DCup by way of Phydeaux and Phriends. The “test” gaged the readability of one’s blog and rated it at an appropriate level of schooling, from “elementary school” to “genius” (is that a level of schooling?)

Now remember, I’m insecure. But I had recently been complemented on a poem** I wrote, and was feeling a bit more confident…

..OK, I won’t make you wait. **Say this in your gayest voice. “Pewemm,” or something. It’s a H/T to a guy I used to work with who just about died every time he heard Garrison Keillor read a “pewemm” on The Writers’ Almanac on NPR.

…so where were we, oh yeah – so I submitted my proudest pewemm to the Blog Rater and got rated as “Junior High School.”

Ow!

Sorry, that hit me right in the tenders. I mean, WTF?? I don’t define myself as this blog, but I had hoped to present myself in a somewhat more flattering light than Junior High School!

Now please understand that there’s a difference between being insecure and being a pansy. So rather than take this lying down (or doubled over, as the case might be,) I did some investigating. I pasted url’s from various blogs I visit into Dunderback’s Machine, and was mystified by the results – unadorned youtube videos of Jerkwad’s Cat got rated “Genius,” while some of my favorite Blogwriters got “High School.” I smelled a rat here.

So I sucked it in and threw my best shot. My recent post on God v. Religion seemed to be well received, so, taking a deep breath, I sent it off to be vetted…

“Elementary School!”

Well Fuck Me Runnin’! (H/T to konagod, my current favorite Texan) I’m done, I’m through, I’m outa here!

But while I was braiding my bed sheet and tying it around the steam-pipe, I did one last Earthly deed. I pasted the url from a recent stellar post from BlueGal, Goddess of the Left-O-Sphere, my Muse, Saint Blue, Sistah Truth, into the Rater. The result:

“Elementary School!!!”

OMFG! I’m saved, saved! Except that now I’m sleeping on a nest of shredded bedsheets. Damn!

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

And finally, last but not least:

10.) It’s Ralph, if you haven’t already noticed. Not an easy ride in the middle grades, but it is what it is.

So Sparticus, perhaps you see why I balked at doing this. I don’t take it lightly (ok, I lied, I do take it lightly) and it takes me some time and considerable effort. But all in all, it wasn’t that painful, and I owed it to you for your vote of confidence (which is what a “tag” is, really.) So thanks to those of you who suffered through this, and I’ll let any who wish take up this torch. I’m not a proper arbiter of who has the time or inclination to spill The Goods. Just serve it up if it’s hot!

Winged And Dangerous November 23, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Politics and Society.
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They got away before I could get their picture, but I swear.

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There were four of them, jogging across the road in the snow-filled dusk.

I didn’t recognize them, and around here we recognize everyone, whether or not we know their names.

Foreigners, I’d say. With long beards. Looked like trouble, and just in time to desecrate an American High Holy Day, Thanksgiving.

They hunkered down in a hedgerow as I passed; then, when they realized I intended to stop, they took off running.

All except the biggest one, musta been the leader. He fell back, taking up the rear, and with a defiant sneer (I hadn’t realized beaks could do that) he raised a wing and gave me the feather.

If those Damned Democrats get elected, these bastards are gonna eat us alive.

The Church Of All That Exists November 22, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Love and Death, Politics and Society.
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22 comments

Those of you who’ve had the poor judgment to spend any amount of time here probably know that I’m a Recovering Catholic. I was reared in an over-the-top Catholic home, went to church and Sunday school, said my prayers before bed and Loved Jesus.

But a schism developed when I was a teenager. I had learned about too many Crusades, too many Inquisitions. I saw too much money flowing inexorably upward, from the frayed pockets of The Poor to the Gilded Basilicas of the Vatican. There was too much dogma, too much hypocrisy, too much disregard for Earthly suffering, too much finger-pointing, too many distortions.

There was too much othering.

Even back then, this was important to me, not as a concept with a word attached, but as a visceral feeling of something-not-quite-right.

So I left the Church and wandered in the wilderness, coming to rest before too long in the strong arms of Mother Earth and the warm light of Father Sky. I wrapped myself in Nature, and found it to be a tapestry woven of All That Exists, with nothing superfluous and nothing lacking.

And I saw that it was good.

I’m happy to say that I’m not alone, here in the Church of All That Exists. I’m rubbing elbows with all the good people who now live or ever have lived, and all the flawed people who ever strove to be good. People of peace and love and vices, people of empathy and compassion and countless human failings. The living and the dead, the children of the future, the Ancient Forgotten Ones.

The Peacemakers are here, not in perfection, but in intent. Siddhartha is here, teaching about letting go of the material world, and about having respect for all living things. Gandhi, with his bullet hole, is here; his wife has forgiven him. Dr. King is here, still advocating for social and racial justice, though it astounds him that so many still cannot see.

He’s listening intently, sadness in his eyes, to the contrite tales of nineteen young Muslims who learned to fly, but not to land, because they believed their God demanded that of them, that they give their lives for social justice, as had Martin two generations before. I feel them struggling beneath the weight of the innocent souls surrounding them, asking “Why? Why me?”

There is no right answer, at least not a clear one. The Church Of All That Exists ask only about intent.

“What were you thinking?

“Were you giving of yourself, or were you taking from those with less?”

The Lion is here, lying down with the Lamb in its jaws, doing only what it must to survive. There is no evil in its heart, no malice in its mission.

But not all who live, not all who do, not all who take will be welcome here. The Rumsfelds who sit at a safe distance as they send their neighbors’ children off to die for the profits of the already rich will not be here. The Hitlers who categorize and contain and exterminate for the attainment of their own goals will not be here. The Cheneys who sneer at the pitiful poor who are ground into dust by their For-Profit-War-Machines will not be here. The Phelpses who revel in the suffering and deaths of others who are not like them will not be here.

Nor is my tenure here certain, guaranteed, preordained. My love of All That Exists is not enough. To stay here, to live and die and remain in this place, I must own it, embrace it, commit to it, to the air and the water, the rocks and the trees, the lion and the lamb, and the people. Caring is a necessary first step, but it’s trying to make a difference that makes my bed here.

There are many different paths to this understanding. Some have frescoed ceilings and gilded statuary; others have the humble trappings of a neighbor’s house. Some have choirs and pipe organs; others have the deep stillness of the Silence of Friends.

Mine has a dome of stars, patient and serene, with thin clouds scuttling by, their edges back-lit by a waxing moon. Mine has the low moan of wind over the surrounding hills, and nearer, the rattle of beech leaves refusing to fall. Mine has the bracing cold of hoar-frosted moss, crisply crumbling beneath my knees, penetrating my jeans with an awareness of this world as I bow down to my Mother Earth, humbled beneath my Father Sky, asking for a way to make a difference.

I know it won’t be easy, but on this Thanksgiving Eve, I’m grateful to The Church Of All That Exists for teaching me that I must try.

Diner With TCR November 19, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Dinner with TCR.
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7 comments

Tonight’s Dinnerfication of a bulwark of the breakfast menu: Home Fries.

We’ll start with potatoes and onions from my back yard (organically-grown, thank you) sautéd in the drippings of four slices of bacon (optional for those of you who don’t swallow no hog) and finished with artichoke hearts, a shredded three-cheese blend, a nice light pico de gallo and a goodly sprinkling of fresh-cracked black pepper.

The result, pre-salsa:

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Hearty and nearly free. Enjoy!

You Interrupted Me! November 19, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, poetry.
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Now look what you did. You interrupted me, as if my freezing weren’t even important to you. I wait all year, all year, and when the time is finally right I begin, the way I rehearsed it in my head since the Last Time, when you interrupted me with snow, heavy, sinking snow, and I disappeared below the surface and became a canvass of frozen sludge of varying densities, emerging as a crusty gray thing, condemned to a winter of dampness and dim light.

Oh, how I longed for Spring, to be freed from that form, made light and liquid, given another chance.

And here it is cold, and here I am freezing, and here you are interrupting me again, with your Johnny-Come-Lately windfall and your branch sticking up, your influence radiating in raised ridges as if I were flowing, flowing of all things, when I’m trying to freeze.

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All my life I’ve longed for the Clear Complexion of Tranquility, and year after year, there you are, Life, Fate, Happenstance,

Interrupting me!

The Wind Blows November 19, 2007

Posted by littlebangtheory in poetry.
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Leaving the house today in the blue-gray November light, amidst a swirl of snowflakes and the rustle of leaves, I saw a stark sight, simple, signifying a season, swaddling a dream, a still-life of causality and consequence.

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The wind blows,

The flowers fall.

The wind blows,

The leaves fall.

The wind blows,

The flowers dry.

The wind blows,

The snows fly.

The wind blows.