Finally. November.


William Cullen Bryant, 17941878

Yet one smile more, departing, distant sun!
One mellow smile through the soft vapory air,
Ere, o’er the frozen earth, the loud winds run,
Or snows are sifted o’er the meadows bare.
One smile on the brown hills and naked trees,
And the dark rocks whose summer wreaths are cast,
And the blue gentian flower, that, in the breeze,
Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last.
Yet a few sunny days, in which the bee
Shall murmur by the hedge that skirts the way,
The cricket chirp upon the russet lea,
And man delight to linger in thy ray.
Yet one rich smile, and we will try to bear
The piercing winter frost, and winds, and darkened air.

No Time Like the Present

Last spring, I had a nearly fatal encounter with a large cockroach in our home, or so it seemed at the time.  It was around eight o’clock in the morning when [S] pointed at the ceiling.  After watching the large insect walk on and around the ceiling, I placed [S] in her crib and prepared to do battle, grabbing my bottle of (allegedly) non-toxic bug spray.

Having lived in the Caribbean and possessing a phobia of insects, I have learned the ins and outs of using bug spray.  Rule one, don’t spray up, no matter where the insect is.  First, gravity is working against you.  Likely, you will never hit your target fatally, but it will be enough for the insect to quickly move (or fly) somewhere else, leading you into a fine mist of country-scented insect killing chemicals now raining down.  If you’re on the slow-side, you will have to contend with the now slippery floor as you attempt a kill shot.  Not a desirable situation.

Having learned my lesson years ago, I waited for the insect to do something.  Of course, when that happens, one is never truly prepared.  It fell to the floor.  Rule two, if the insect is on the floor, spray, spray, spray.  The good news, it died.  The better news, is that it was springtime and I could open our doors for some needed ventilation.  As I placed [S]’s sand pail over the carcass, I realized there was a significant amount of clean-up to do.

I grabbed my Swiffer and began cleaning the residual spray.  As I came to the end of the task, I walked from the faux-wood floors onto the kitchen tile floor in my slide-on Adidas house shoes.  In an instant, I slipped.  My legs came out from under me, I landed square on my tailbone, hitting the back of my head against a cement wall.  The episode was as violent as you can imagine.  I couldn’t get up.  I couldn’t make a sound.  The pain radiating from my tailbone was excruciating.  I was dizzy and felt nauseous.  To make matters worse, I had no idea where my phone was and [S] was crying.

Concerned I was going to black-out from the pain, I meekly cried out for help, hoping some passerby walking his or her dog would hear me.  Once I realized I was not going to faint, I managed to get to my bedroom, find my phone, and laid down on my side.  I called out to [S] that everything was okay.  I rested for 10 minutes.  Then, I began my day.  I dropped [S] off at daycare and went to work with a heady uncomfortable feeling, grimacing all the while.

Four weeks later, it still hurt to walk, exercise, and sit.  Fortunately, the x-rays showed no fractures or broken bones.  I was given plenty of pain medication and told to come back if the pain and limited mobility continued.  Today, I am fully recovered, able to sit, walk, and run without pain.  Then, I had difficulty imagining that day would come.

A few weeks after the accident, Russell handed me a box.  After looking at it, I started laughing, wondering if it was a gag gift.

fullsizerender318I declined to assemble and/or use it.  Why, I’m not sure.  Perhaps because I questioned its efficacy and efficiency.  Perhaps it’s because Russell thought my accident stemmed from using an excessive amount of bug spray, rather than slipping because of wet shoes.  (Yes, yes, if I hadn’t used so much spray I wouldn’t have had to Swiffer.  I get it.)

Regardless, now that Russell has left town for the week, I thought it would be a good a time as any to assemble the product to be prepared, you know, just in case.

fullsizerender319The first thing that struck me was that this product is made in China.  Will it work as intended?  If it doesn’t, there could be a bigger catastrophe looming in the distance.  While it was simple to assemble, I’m uncertain I did so correctly.  The instructions are vague, but there doesn’t appear to be a locking mechanism holding the arm of the product to its base.

Regardless, once it was assembled I was confronted with an apparatus that looked part bong, part breast pump.

fullsizerender320A small part of me wants to know whether it works; the rest of me prefers never having occasion to find out.  In the meantime, I’m faced with figuring out where to store this colorful device, which doubles as a strong child-magnet.  Rest assured that wherever it ends up living, a canister of bug spray will be at the other end of the house.


Now, I Know.

I took off for a weekend last month
Just to try and recall the whole year
All of the faces and all of the places
Wonderin’ where they all disappeared
I didn’t ponder the question too long
I was hungry and went out for a bite
Ran into a chum with a bottle of rum
And we wound up drinkin all night

It’s these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of our running and all of our cunning
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane

Reading departure signs in some big airport
Reminds me of the places I’ve been
Visions of good times that brought so much pleasure
Makes me want to go back again
If it suddenly ended tomorrow
I could somehow adjust to the fall
Good times and riches and son of a bitches
I’ve seen more than I can recall

These changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
Through all of the islands and all of the highlands
If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane

I think about Paris when I’m high on red wine
I wish I could jump on a plane
So many nights I just dream of the ocean
God I wish I was sailin’ again
Oh, yesterday’s over my shoulder
So I can’t look back for too long
There’s just too much to see waiting in front of me
And I know that I just can’t go wrong

With these changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes
Nothing remains quite the same
With all of my running and all of my cunning
If I couldn’t laugh I just would go insane
If we couldn’t laugh we just would go insane
If we weren’t all crazy we would go insane

* * *

As part of his “I Don’t Know” tour, Jimmy Buffett gave a free concert at Camp Foster on Friday, October 28th.  It was my first time seeing Buffett in concert and, likely, my last.  (He’ll turn 70 years old on Christmas Day.)  We arrived at 2 p.m. for a 3:30 start time.  Although the sun beat down with only a sliver of shade in sight, the wait was worth it.  Ambassador Caroline Kennedy briefly introduced the singer and his band and then he played for 90 minutes.  As an island lover and dweller, I connect with his Caribbean-themed lyrics and his fondness for a refreshing beverage to beat the heat.  As for his performance for U.S. troops, I couldn’t have picked a more apt performer–he’s as American as apple pie.

Ambassador Caroline Kennedy introducing Jimmy Buffett.
Free beads, leis, and sunglasses were given out.
Enjoying the Caribbean-themed tunes.
Fins. Watch out for the landshark.
My tiny landshark.

Remembering Margaritaville.

I’m not a Parrot Head, but I have fond memories of sitting with friends at the bar in  Margaritaville, enjoying his tunes.  And, really, what isn’t there to like about Jimmy Buffett’s sing-a-long song style?  What I am unable to predict is whether we will be able to get in without having to stand in line for hours.  (The venue is large enough for 11,000 people.)  In other words, does his popularity span the generations?  Perhaps, I’ll be able to let you know tomorrow night.

Japanese Cooking: I Prepared That!

Teriyaki Chicken Meatballs, made with ground chicken, tofu, red bell pepper, green onion and egg. 

For three weeks, our on-base grocery store has been without salad greens.  In other words, our staple bags of baby spinach and lettuce leaves have been missing-in-action.  This week, I noticed a sign posted where the greens typically sit.  The upshot?  No salad greens for now.  The reason(s)?  I can’t recall.  And, really, it doesn’t matter.

Desperate for fresh reasonably priced produce, I ventured into town, but not without first making a shopping list.  My meal planning is based around dishes that are easy to prepare, quick to make, and, vegetable-centered.  Fortunately, many Japanese dishes meet all three criteria.  Indeed, the best way to purchase groceries locally is to buy seasonally with the understanding that many dishes use the same ingredients, varying in cooking method or quantity.  Carrots, cabbage, green onion, onion, bean spouts, ginger, eggs, tofu and pork are  common ingredients in Japanese recipes.

My simple three-word search of “easy Japanese recipes” resulted in a gem of a find–Just One Cookbook, which features easy Japanese recipes, colorful photos, cooking techniques, and cultural context.  The mouthwatering video tutorial on how to make green tea cookies made me want to learn more about preparing Japanese food.  Staying on the site, I learned that Japanese hamburger, called hamburg, is made with tofu.  This is one of my favorite items to order at a cafe.  Unlike dense American hamburgers served on a bun with fries, a hamburg is small and airy, covered with a soy-based sauce, often served with rice and a salad.  After the meal, one leaves feeling restaurant feeling righteous and perfectly satiated.  The reason for the lightness of the burger?  Tofu.

Tonight’s dinner was yakisoba, a simple stir-fry dish, made even easier with prepared sauce purchased in the condiment section of the store. (I’ve made the sauce twice, using two different recipes, with varying results.)  Cabbage, carrots, onions, green onion, and red bell pepper, along with a bit of pork and fresh wheat noodles, made for a simple one-pot meal.

How were the meals?  Our resident recipe tester gobbled up the chicken meatballs, commenting, “Ummm, I like it!”  And, tonight, she didn’t say a word, she just ate her entire serving of yakisoba including all of the veg.

That’s as good as it gets.

Yakisoba, an easy and fast meal to prepare.


The Aftermath of a Birthday Ball?

During my high school years field parties were celebrated.  Such a thing is exactly as it sounds–a party in a field.  Typically, the field was at or around a high school in the county and the party included alcoholic beverages, mostly cheap beer and wine coolers.  The participants?  High school students who had been informed of the impromptu mass party.

Given that I attended high school before the advent of mobile phones (at least affordable pocket-sized mobile phones), I recognize it was a feat to organize such a meetup.  Given that the invitations were via word of mouth, oftentimes there was speculation that the police were aware of the planned event.  The fix?  The time and location of the party changed.  Yes.  Just like that.

It was, of course, inevitable that the police (or security officers) would learn of the field party location.  Indeed, the question was never whether the party would be busted, only when.  When the police came the protocol was simple, ditch and dash.  The result?  Bottles and cans–empty, full, or somewhere in between–dotted the landscape of the field after the revelers fled.  It wasn’t pretty.  But what do 16 and 17 year old kids know?

The armed services Birthday Ball season began a few weeks ago in Okinawa.  Each service hosts one or more formal ball to celebrate the establishment of the service.  Given the limited on-base venues available to host such a formal celebration, the Officers’ Club around the corner from our home is the site for many balls throughout October and November.

This morning, as I was walking to the gym, I noticed a few cars remaining in the Officers’ Club parking lot, which is neither an uncommon site nor a bad thing.  Indeed, I’d much prefer someone take a taxi home than get behind the wheel tipsy.  But what was an unusual sight were the bottles and cans of alcohol left in the parking lot.  It were as if a lot party had been broken up by base police.

This is not a post about moral outrage.  To the contrary, I understand that some will want to let loose and celebrate this annual event with pre- and/or post-ball partying.  What I don’t understand is why those who do so can’t take their empties with them to dispose of properly post-ball.  I questioned the responsibility, character, and accountability of those leaving garbage in the parking lot for others to clean.  And, then, I wondered whether anyone but me cares.

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