Actually, sketching and doodling during business meetings helps me to focus and be present.
Folk belief is that this concoction will make an immunity-boosting tonic that if taken by a teaspoonful each day possibly could prevent or even alleviate the symptoms of some of those pesky winter ailments. I would never, ever irk the powers-that-be by making such a claim. Oh no, what I’m making here is an infused vinegar that can be used as a base, if mixed with olive oil, for a potent, spicy, sweet, sour and savory salad dressing. Yeah, I’ll say that— a salad dressing.
The traditional recipe requires some of the ingredients to be fresh roots that, along with the spices, are fermented in vinegar for several weeks. Who has time for that? When you need that rem — er, that salad dressing right away, this version takes just minutes to put together.
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground horseradish
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp Ceylon cinnamon
the juice of one lemon (seeds removed)
1/2 cup of raw honey
8 ounces of raw apple cider vinegar with the mother
Combine all of these ingredients in a jar and shake until thoroughly mixed. This will keep for a couple of weeks in the refrigerator: however, if you keep the lemon juice separate and add as you use it, the mixture will keep for much longer. Also, make sure your spices are no older than six months.
Bon appétit or gesundheit— whichever.
If you want to learn a bit more, see this master herbalist make the traditional long version: https://youtu.be/JU8U0bDmXks
Seriously, if you’re really sick, get your butt to the doc!
Do you think you’re weird? Are you living the life that you think others would approve of and are sick of living with that? Then embrace your weirdness.
And even if you don’t think you’re weird, do your weird friends a favor and watch this video.
On my morning exploratory walk, I came across this giant mural. Mural painters amaze me. To create such a huge, public display of art takes an immense amount of confidence on the part of the artist. There is no room for fear of mistakes. The entire neighborhood will see that mistake in the process of being made, not to mention the humiliation of correcting it in front of the world. And heaven forbid if the mistake is not corrected and it stays on view for decades until someone mercifully paints over it. Hats off to public artists.
Teddy Roosevelt said this: “Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing.”
I dunno, Teddy, I dunno.
I don’t know who painted this; otherwise I would’ve given her/him credit.
I found this mind-mapping tool called Coggle and started putting down those themes, topics, and people with which and whom I resonate. It’s only a partial map of all my interests. The image is messy and chaotic, but has a color and diversity. This is the picture of the inside of my skull.
Second, it has been my writing practice for many years to take a weekend morning to sit in a coffee house with my journal and a cup and write observations. Public places are a great place to get ideas for character sketches. However, life circumstances has kept me from doing this for a couple of years. Now that I am free again to do this, I have encountered a problem: there are no coffee establishments within walking distance of my home that meet my criteria: to be open early on a weekend, to not be too expensive, have indoor seating, and to be within two or three blocks from my home. My neighborhood is a waste-land in that regard. The closest “Big Green Mermaid” franchise is a mile walk on a rather desolate stretch of street which I would rather avoid. The independent places close by did not meet the aforementioned criteria. So until that changes, I will most likely have walk and then drink coffee at home.
But the walk was not without results. Within just three blocks from my home, I noted a number of quirky establishments. For example, there is a Krav Maga martial arts studio right across the street from a Capoeira martial arts studio. I hope Israel and Brazil never have any conflict because that would make for one ugly mix-up in the middle of the Boulevard.
There are some long-time area food establishments: a classic Tex-Mex taco joint next door to a vintage Cantonese diner complete with red upholstered booths. Then there are the new places: a bakery which was featured in a Cup-Cake Wars episode, a Thai bistro, a New Zealand-themed fish market and “Raw Bar”, a former KFC that now serves BOTH poke and frozen yogurt, an old English pub-type place, and the strangest– a cafe specializing in Swedish and Turkish beer and appetizers. It is as if a Swede and a Turk got married and gave birth to a tapas bar.
For years there have been two vacant lots on the corner of the major intersection near me. This morning I saw a sign that it was the future home of a “public market food hall”. I had to google that when I got home. It turns out that this development will be on the same level as the great downtown “Central Market”. I got excited over that prospect. A place like that would certainly have coffee.
Then it hit me. My old neighborhood that was once a blue-collar, working-class, ethnically diverse neighborhood is gentrifying into hipster-ville.
Property values and rents are sky-rocketing. Aging single family homes are being replaced by luxurious multi-unit apartment buildings. A trailer park housing low-income retirees is now a four-story 30 unit dwelling. About six blocks from another of these large buildings is a low-income public housing complex. “The Project” used to be one of the most notorious gang-hangouts in the area. The gangs are not the problem they used to be, I am pleased to say, but the Project is still home a large number of poor, mostly immigrant, families. With the price of property going up as it is, I predict that it is only a matter of time before greedy developers find a reason to displace all these families who would never be able to afford what these developers will build. As a recently displaced person myself, I empathize. I was lucky; I landed on my feet. These folks? I don’t know what they would do if that should happen.
Some might say that I should not feel guilty about this. I didn’t cause this demographic shift. Things turned out okay for me and I should count my blessings. However, with abundant blessings come great responsibility. What can I do to help others being displaced?
I suppose making the observation and writing about it is a start. This is another step in the evolutionary process of my social conscience.
It just doesn’t seem enough, though.
On the spur of the moment this morning I decided to take my car in for servicing. I chose to wait for the work to be done even though I was warned that it could take up to two hours. I was not in any particular hurry today. I had a cup of hot coffee and my e-reader. So, I was set. Besides, I really don’t mind waiting in public areas if I have the time. Such places offer loads of ideas for stories, poems, art pieces, and sometimes just food for thought offered up by every person who passes by. Today was no different.
A number of customers had come and gone while I waited. The last one, though, was the best. This fifty-something bleached blond in a tight tee-shirt and leggings and a pony-tail poking through a baseball cap pulled up in a sleek black Lexus. She got out and sauntered up to the counter. She flashed a smile at the manager and proceeded to tell him about a brake issue with her car: “It’s pedal to the metal, all the way.” I was wondering if she was really talking about her car.
While she waited for the manager to write up a quote for the repair, she turned to me and said, “It is COLD this morning, isn’t it” Indeed it was– it was 38 degrees this morning. I agreed and commented about how many people I knew who were getting sick from colds and flu this winter– you know, the usual conversation you have with strangers. Then she said, “Yes! That’s so true. My daughter is recovering from Legionnaires’ Disease.”
I must have conveyed a skeptical look because she added “I know! It’s so rare. But I’m a nurse so I know all about this type of stuff.” The woman prattled on for several minutes about her daughter’s condition and then said. “She got it from the bacteria in her car’s AC.”
With that, the manager looked up from his paperwork and arched an eyebrow.
“But do you want to know what the really weird part was?”
“There’s more?” I asked.
“Yeah, there’s this guy who lives across the street from us and he comes over one day when my daughter was really sick. I don’t know how he knew she was sick, but he did. He just talked to her for about five minutes, I don’t know what about, but after he left she started feeling better. And now she’s almost well. He healed her! He really did. I swear it. He is some sort of priest or minister or somebody like that. He always has people coming to his house. Isn’t that the most amazing thing?”
“It sure is,” I said as I took a sip from my coffee cup
“But here’s the best part: this priest is so hot!”
I coughed as my coffee went down the wrong way. I glanced at the manager. He had a faint smile on his face and I could see his shoulders shaking just a little as he held back a chuckle.
The woman gushed, “I could just look at him all day long— tall, dark hair with just a little bit a gray on the sides… Oh, I could just run my fingers through it. But if he’s a priest, then I guess he’s not available. I am so going to hell for this.”
I stared at her. How do you respond to a comment like that?
“Um, Ms. Chambers, here’s your estimate for the brake job” The woman turned her attention to the manager.
I continued to watch the woman. She was a walking cliché, yet she had a joie de vivre that I found most endearing. No, I wouldn’t recommend a woman putting cougar moves on a man of the cloth. That just seems fraught with disastrous possibilities. Yet, I wish that I had a little bit more of her boldness and transparency. She didn’t care what anyone thought. I could learn a thing or two from a person like her.
”Ma’am, your spark plugs need replacing.”
I turned my attention to the young mechanic who just walked off the garage floor.
“ I beg your pardon?”
”Your spark plugs. They’re way overdue for replacing. You better take care of that or you’re gonna have a problem soon.”
You got that right, kid.