March 9th, 2017

Lachhi tjiri rat!! (“Good Morning to you all ” in Romani.)

Sweet Judy Blue Eyes told us all about, “The Circle Game” when were a lot younger and maybe a little less wise. Well, its seems I have come full circle again. I am back to drinking Cuban Coffee almost exclusively. After almost 15 years of ownership, I finally read the directions for my Expresso Coffee Maker (not my fault…failure to read directions comes with the testicles). I have now mastered the ability to create real, no fooling, Cafe Cubano complete with a nice coffee head on it like a ale from the tap. I am pretty sure that there is no going back to that swill we call American Coffee from here.

We have been enjoying a rather wide rage of menus this week at Casa Abuelo (Grandpa’s House). We started out with some of those wonderful Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwiches with roasted red peppers and my Wild Ass Garlic Aioli served on a toasted Ciabatta roll. As a side dish, we tried a new Tempura Cauliflower (from TJ’s Frozen Section) with Kung Pao sauce and found it delightful! The next night/ I recycled some of the remaining chicken breasts into wonderfully fragrant and spicy Chicken Vindaloo with Jasmine Rice. After waiting for what seemed like years for the Plantains to ripen, we went all out Cuban with Ropa Vieja, black beans and rice with, you guessed it, fried sweet Plantains or as the Cuban’s say, Maduros! Yum! Yum! Life is Good!!!

Chewy and I are walking again every day. We both need to loose weight. We also need to working our muscles and joints so we don’t just lock up all together one morning. We are starting slowly – around the block a few days, then adding a trip down and back up the hill and now we are walking all the way around from our house to the other side of the neighborhood and back( about a mile I think). Our next extension (maybe later this week) will be to complete the 3 mile track which includes 2 fairly significant hills!!

Death. It is the function that truly separates us humans from our fellow travelers on Planet Earth. I bet you thought it was opposable thumbs!!! You see human understanding of our own mortality is unique. Higher primates and elephants understand death in other individuals and even have developed coping rituals, etc. But we think that Humans are the only species that is aware of their own personal and inescapable fate. Human’s also are the only species to commit suicide. There is a symposium in San Diego to present theories and ideas on how humans cope with this awareness. One such theory, is that humans can endure a lifetime of certainty because we are so good at denial and self-deception. I don’t think that is the whole story. When my Mom, realized that her life was ending, she put a clean set of underwear in a ziplock bag and boarded an airplane to San Diego, without packing a bag. I knew my mom was “getting up there” and had arranged a plan to move her closer to my brother or I. But I was not prepared for her death in my dining room some 8 weeks later, but she was. My Mom was no longer in denial but at least to some degree, I was. I remember her last cognitive moments as extremely peaceful and happy. She was sitting up in the bed she would die in days later, smiling brightly, enjoying reading every word of the Chicago Tribune. I kissed her soft cheek and said goodbye. I was heading to Chicago to arrange her affairs. My brother and her friends from Chicago had come to visit and returned to their lives. When I returned to San Diego, she was comatose and unresponsive and eventually, died that peaceful passing that people speak of longingly… in her sleep..perhaps dreaming of yet another day. I know her pain and struggles are over but I miss her still.

This week I learned some stuff:
• I learned through the magic of Facebook, that this week we celebrate International Women’s Day. Personally, I think we should celebrate women about every other day all year! Anyway, I found out and was afforded the opportunity to thank all the women who helped me be successful throughout my career. I was an early adopter of the concept that just about everything is improved if you add a women or two to the team. I have reaped the bounty of that insight for my entire professional life and am grateful to all of them for the unique insights and strengths each of them added to endeavors I was leading.
• I heard a very interesting perspective on the whole Vladimir Putin/Donald Trump brouhaha the other day. The gist of it was that: At the end of the day ,Putin is nasty creature sitting atop of a failing state. He is brutalizing his own country for personal gain in an uneasy alliance with criminal and political forces that he cannot hope to control indefinitely. His attempts to manipulate free democratize elections to weaken probable external threats are an understandable and fairly clever device to focus worldwide fears. These actions focus attention on a world, where even the “predictable” United States becomes unreliable. He applauds the whole, “America First” mantra spewing forth by the frightened and unenlightened because it deliberately promotes his greater ambitions. It services his desire to divide the free world by degrees of fear not unlike what took place in Europe at the end of WWI when Adolf Hitler and the Nazis seized that opportunity.

Website Update
• Last week for the new Vocabulary Quiz!!
• This week I added a new reciepe for Balsamic Glazed Chicken and Stuff. We tried it with skinless, boneless breasts and it was good but I think it would be ‘outtasight’ with bone-in skin on thighs.
• This week I also added the lyrics for “Streets of Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen. You probably won’t sing along with this one but at least if you read along you will understand why you are crying. To get you smiling again, I also added James Taylor’s “Stretch of Highway” to the featured lyrics as well this week.

Writing and Painting Update:
• I finished the painting started in my first week of watercolors class. Its a quirky bird over water but I liked it.
• I updated Artifacts concept chapter with my Writers Workshop inmates comments. I am ready I think to begin write the story. Checking in with my old writing partner to see if he is up for another challenge.


• Why do we humans work so hard to sanctify or demonize the world around us? Its not just applying our “standards” to the people around us either. No, that would be bad enough but we do it just about everything we can. We only want to buy our end tables or get our toilets unplugged by someone who has a fish symbol on the back of their trucks. We fail at dieting of every kind if we try at all, but have faith that the new “Mormon” diet will somehow give us better results. Some of us worry about London because they have the largest Muslim population in Europe. Never mind that Muslims have been enhancing the British Empire for centuries. Do we do it to feel superior or more “god-like”? It seems to me that almost every rendition of a deity has involved some kind of judgement as to whether one is “worthy” of love. It puzzles me. I think “worthy” should be applied between people based upon their acts and principles. They start even and grow love or avoidance. Someone does not need to fail to be what they are for me to be happy and fulfilled. But some days, I feel very alone in this space where my mom raised me to be.
• Got my taxes done, again! It is good to be done but I really would love to withhold my part of the US Congress’s funding because they were worse than useless this year. They were complete failures as leaders, statesmen and I am sure. parents as well. What if our children only decided to do part of their responsibilities at school? Decided to only take out part of the garbage? Ever Member Of Congress should have their allowances held back, break out in zits and be grounded till a grown up gets back in the White House!!!!

Music Update:
This week’s UJT Radio selections are a special mix of different genres and “new to me” songs/artists:
• Sting – Seven Days – This song is a great example of the amazing grace and intelligence of this guy. His voice and phrasing mesmerize and hypnotize me. This one is from his 1993 release of “ Ten Summoners Tales.”
• Fleetwood Mac – Big Love – One of my favorite guitar players (and yours too if FM’s popularity over the past 4 decades is to be trusted) is Lindsey Buckingham. He playing is always so clean and so innovative.
• Extreme – He Man Woman Hater – I found these boys just as they released their most popular second album, “Pornografitti”. They kind of a had that same weird trip that Nickelback suffers from…They are passionately loved and hated. But Nuno Benttencourt is a serious guitar guy and the rest of these boys aren’t pikers either. Success kicked their ass. They busted up and started over and over and over….never the same freeform magic as they had on this record.
• James Taylor – Stretch of The Highway – As near as I can figure, James just keeps getting better and better. This morning I wrote him an email saying pretty much just that and thanking him. This one is from his “Before This World” album release in 2015. James is one of my favorite humans. Earth is just a better planet with him on it. Some people forget that he is an excellent guitar player because of his song writing. He even gives free guitar lessons on his site if you are interested and still have the hands for it. Check it out here
• Mike Stern – Texas – Here is another one from my new best friend Mike. Listening to him play, is like eating a calorie free bowl of your favorite ice-cream! This is another cut from his, “Who Let the Cats Our? album released in 2006.
• Lee Ritenour’s Six String Theory — Freeway Jam (feat. Lee Ritenour, Mike Stern and Tomoyasu Hotei) – This was another spinoff discovery from last week. I hope I am not boring anyone with all these excursions into instrumental guitar pieces. I hope you find some joy in hearing these amazing players.
• Bruce Springsteen – Streets of Philadelphia – This song pretty much won all the awards in 1993 when it was released as part of the soundtrack for the movie, Philadelphia staring Tom Hanks. Its one of the saddest songs I know and I don’t think anyone else could have written or performed it but Bruce.
• Rod Stewart – Love Is – This one goes out to my baby sis! She got to see her long time heart throb not so long ago but I figured she might need a booster shot by now 🙂

That’s it… Do the best you can; Laugh every chance you get; And always remember … The best is yet to come! 

As always, thank you for being my friend! 

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