June 4th, 2020

“Bonjour! ” or “Good Morning”in French, a little former empire nestled in the pretty wine growing region of the world, famous for its gentility with a guillotine. It is Day 77 of the California Lock Down (i.e. Some relaxing of shelter in place + more park, hair solons, retail openings+ some restaurants/bar openings + Face Masks are Required in Public).

I have a birthday coming up. Most of you know by now that in our family, we celebrate each special day – birthdays, holidays, etc. with a special meal selected by the celebrator (is that a word?). We either go out to a restaurant of their choosing or we cook their selected menu but it is always special eatin’ y’all. A couple of weeks from now, I will turn 68 years old (I know, right! Do rocks and trees live that long??!!). Anyway its different when ever I am the goober with the funny hat on. Because I have enjoyed most every wonderful culinary experience their is already during the long dance of mine. I also have lived pretty much all over the world, so there is no shortage or variety in my repertoire. Sooooo,,, It is a challenge to determine what I want on the menu and even more so, a way to obtain it. Most of the time, I end up cooking it for myself because my selections are more diverse than most restaurants offer or there simply is not a wide selection of choices for the birthday dish. This would be unfortunate save for two key points: 1) I truly love to cook. Even the complicated and complex dishes give me such great pleasure to prepare’ and 2) I love almost everything that I cook. That is to say, I cook it well, sometimes even “mo’ betta” than the people who get paid to cook. So I am working up my birthday menu. I am leaning towards some truly wonderful Andalusian delights such as, chilled Gazpacho followed by Paella Mariscos de Abuelo with Cuban Coffee and Flan for desert. Each of these dishes deserve only the freshest and finest ingredients so I must start to locate them early. I am already salivating!

This week I learned some stuff:
• Old guys and their eyebrows!!! What is the deal??! This week we had a new birdie couple starts to move into our vacant bird house. As I watched them prepare the nest inside (it was a challenge because they had trouble with the concept of turning the sticks sideways to get them through the little frond door hole). They kept dropping them and having to fly down to retrieve them. Anyway, I digress! I was watching their little bird nest building technique and kept having kind of a unfocusing of my vision as I looked up at them. The sad part is really how long it took me to figure out, that angle caused me to view everything through this rather thick hedge of course grey, white and dark hair above my eyes. This is just another impact of the COVID-19 pandemic! Because I cannot visit the lady who cuts my hair (and trims the hedges over my eyes and around my ears (What is that all about anyway!), I have been visually handicapped! I was going to tell my wife about it and ask her where I could find a comb and scissors, when she announced that she was going trim my eyebrows. Hmmm, is the universe sending me a message?
• June 4th is the 156th day of the year (because 2020 is a leap year – but there still only 209 days till Christmas!). On this day in 1855, Major Henry C. Wayne departs New York aboard the USS Supply to procure camels to establish the U.S. Camel Corps; Today in 1876, an express train called the Transcontinental Express arrives in San Francisco, via the First Transcontinental Railroad only 83 hours and 39 minutes after leaving New York City; Today in 1919, The U.S. Congress approves the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which guarantees suffrage to women, and sends it to the U.S. states for ratification; The MS St. Louis, a ship carrying 963 Jewish refugees, is denied permission to land in Florida, after already being turned away from Cuba. Forced to return to Europe, more than 200 of its passengers later die in Nazi concentration camps today in 1939; On this day in 1940, the Dunkirk evacuation ends: British forces complete evacuation of 338,000 troops from Dunkirk in France. To rally the morale of the country, Winston Churchill delivers, only to the House of Commons, his famous “We shall fight on the beaches” speech; In 1942, the Battle of Midway begins. The Japanese Admiral Chūichi Nagumo orders a strike on Midway Island by much of the Imperial Japanese Navy; Bruce Dern, American actor, was born on this day in 1936, Noah Wyle, American actor was born today in 1971; Angelina Jolie. American actress and activist was born today in 1945; On this day in 1997, Ronnie Lane, English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer passed away.

Website Update:
• I heard a great quote this week! I threw it in the Kitchen Drawer (under Great Quotes). I was kind of surprised in a good way when I heard this one as a kid I was a Thomas Paine, American Revolutionary era political activist and author fan. He said, “ The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren and to do good is my religion.”
• Last week for the “New” Vocabulary Quiz.
• Week two for our “New” UJT Musical Trivia Quiz.
• Just one new recipe this week. We had the last of our whole Ribeye this week, a wonderful roast. I employed a new Horseradish-Roasted Garlic Cream Sauce that I found remarkable.

Writing, Ceramics and Painting Update:
• I still haven’t gotten back into painting much. I did attend a virtual watercolors class via Zoom. It was great seeing my class mates. I enjoy hanging with those folks even if I am not painting as much.
• Grandpa Stories is still not re-published.

• Our progress towards the world living as one in peace took some serious hits this week. Horrific and hateful events that cost lives of citizens at the hands of the police remind us of how far we still have to go to build a better world for our kids. This week CNN came out with guidance on how all of us might help. The article suggests becoming a marginalized community ally. Checking out CNN’s impressive list of specific suggestions. Read the article, follow some of the experts guidance as a good first step towards moving us a little closer to being the one planet – one mankind place we hope leave to our children.
• The local PBS Station replayed the most amazing “it will work out alright in the end” stories ever this week. Woodstock was a pivotal moment in our history. A graphic demonstration that we humans can live together in peace for common benefit. Before the first person showed up for the show, the organizers knew that it was going to be a complete and utter financial disaster for them. They had to choose between completing the stage and support infrastructure or being able to take tickets and make money. They worked tirelessly to create a safe place for all those young people. As a young hippy, for me it was a validation of our new intent to build a better world than our fathers. Woodstock served as a repudiation of those values that brought us to Viet Nam and perpetuated racism, and the sexual and religious intolerance that has give my country and mankind so much unnecessary pain for so very long. All those hundreds of thousands of kids in the New York countryside trusted each other, helped each other and were helped by each other right out there in front of everybody. I found reliving that 3 days of music and peace very disturbing for the same reasons I found it so inspiring way back when. We, our generation, have chosen to perpetuate the sins of our fathers either actively or passively. I still believe our intentions were true and valid. It has been our execution that has been flawed. Somewhere along the line, too many of us lost the courage of our convictions. We traded our grand aspirations for our species in on other selfish priorities. We allowed our petty differences perpetuate the terrible divides that plagues our parents, our lives and our children’s futures. I know that real change is a process and that we can learn from our mistakes. I am hopeful that our children and their children find their way through the challenges we left them to taking care of the planet and each other.

Music Update:

Another tiptoe though the archives to share some things you might missed or never have heard or at least not heard recently.

This week’s UJT Radio Program:
• John Mayer — War of My Life — This is another great song from his 2009 release, “Battle Studies”. John suffered the slings and arrows of the pop “critics” for Battle Studies but I really thought it was a great album about the painful loss of an important relationship.
• Led Zeppelin — What Is and What Should Never Be — This one is from their, “ Led Zeppelin II ” released in 1969.
• Dishwalla — Home — This band captured my heart from the first time I heard them some time ago. This is from their, “Opaline” album released in 2002.
• Sheryl Crow – Everyday is a Winding Road — This is her first big hit, I think. It was the first song of hers, I became aware of. It was the title cut from her 1996 release and won that year’s Grammy is for record of the year.
• Foreigner — Urgent — This one has always been my favorite song by these guys. This is from their 1981 release, called “4”. I sincerely hope that you have the felt this way and maybe still do. I LOVE the sax work on this one!
• 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.”.

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!