Thursday, July 24, 2008

Thank All Y'all

for your good wishes. I had a wonderful dinner at my all-time favorite restaurant*, and suffered the penalty and reveled in the pleasure of gluttony, and got the owner/ chef's** recipe for Duck Confit: woo hoo!

* Arugula in West Hartford

** Christiane Gehami

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's Here!!!!!!

The Really Important Event, or, more accurately, the sixty third anniversary of the Really Important Event. Whaziz? The birth of the only JohnieB that ever was (to my knowledge).

So here's your invitation; no reservations required, nor need you check razors, butcher knives, forty-fours nor other tools at the door, though we do request you keep their use to a minimum till the party gets goin' good. Thank you.

Poetic Justice: Dreaming for Action.

Part Two: The Transformation of Energy

Older people remember a time when no aspect of life was planned around energy use. Children did not learn in school how to grow and prepare their food; almost all transportation, over long distances, used the oxidation of fossil fuels as the energy source; end use of products were "off the books", generating enormous material waste in "landfills".

At first, only a few "tree-huggers" sought comprehensive change; then, as more people began to look for ways to escape endless commutes in expensive SUVS, local solutions began to appear. City councils and legislatures were driven to provide alternatives, and some long-cherished privileges were lost. Innovations were difficult at first, then local efforts began to combine, and demand grew that obstacles be eliminated. The economic boon to areas that cooperated was made known by the new entrepreneurs.

The solutions were coordinated with public-private consortiums to develop renewable energy sources; the new systems were mandated to use a rapidly rising percentage of "clean" energy, creating a major market. On the private level, major public funds were directed to low-cost loans, privately administered, for green construction and renovation, and for R & D. The new companies formed to provide the services provided new and productive work, partnering with educational institutions for their training programs.

Though the transformation is far from complete, it is well underway, and well-established; today wind turbines are far more common than "gas stations", and private vehicle ownership is far less common: most people don't want the bother, though there are still specialized uses. Gardens connected to schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces are commonplace.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Final Alert

Tomorrow is the Really Important Event; watch for announcement.

The Really Important Event Update

Two more days left

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Dinner with JohnieB

You'll notice a certain similarity: fish simply prepared and pasta with Asparagus and fresh peas, with local fresh Chevre, peaches, and blueberries for dessert; this is pan-seared Sea Scallops and Couscous.

Part of the reason is lack of imagination/ laziness, perhaps, but the peas and asparagus are still beautiful (the shells on the peas were yucky, but the peas weren't affected) and the asparagus may well have been the best of the year so far: firm and green with tightly closed, dense heads. I love Moroccan/ French style Couscous, and it is ready in minutes. It has a slight nutty but unobtrusive flavor which goes wonderfully with fresh vegetables. Besides, I am beginning to sense I have an audience for this kind of thing, and I didn't want to disappoint either one of y'all.

Pan-seared Scallops are a real treat, and terribly simple, but they must be done correctly; overcook them and you may as well eat rubber. A cast iron skillet, or one with some thermal mass, on medium high heat, with butter to coat. Place the scallops on the surface for one minute, turn them, and remove the pan from heat. Leave the scallops for perhaps a minute, no more than two, which in my opinion is pushing it, plate and eat. No salt, no herbs, no damned fiddlin' around with anything, except a fork. I like Chardonnay, malolactically fermented (without oak) for this. The current one is "Razor's Edge" from Australia, but Tolossa from California (Sonoma, I think) and many French White Burgundies are wonderful.

Countdown to the "Really Important Event"

Three days left.

H/T Eileen Fluffikins the Episcopali-Fem

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Not a Cook; Not a Problem

Store bought cooked and deveined Shrimp, store bought Spinach Ravioli, with Asparagus, fresh peas, and red Scallions, with my best oil and Brittany sea salt. Yes, you must boil the Ravioli in salted water for five minutes, and the peas/ asparagus for 2-3 minutes. You can boil water, right?

Oh yeah, it took almost ten minutes.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sunday Dinner at JohnieB's

Okey-dokey; here it is: Salmon en Papillotte with an herb mixture, some of which was intended for BBQ dry rub (as far as I remember, mustard, lemon pepper, lavender, tarragon, fennel, and maybe celery salt), the evolving potato salad (I added fresh marjoram last night), and a Tomato Foccaccia from Kathy the Genius Baker. The wine is an exemplary Vin du Pays D'oc, a 2006 Pinot Noir from "France", without the intensity and focus of some high end Pinot, but hey: it was $10, and has more than enough fruit and varietal character for anybody. A terrific Summer Red called "Hob Nob".

The only improvement I can think of is to cook the fish over charcoal or a wood fire, to get some smokey flavor.

Back to eating.

Poetic Justice: Signs of A Better World

Part One: the Closing of The U S base at Guantanamo

The new administration shut down the prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and repatriated over 70% of the survivors with reparations and incarcerated others in the United States after trials. After several years, the facility was re-opened under the UN's auspices for those convicted of War Crimes in its World Court at the Hague. In 2014, the first prisoners--William J. Haynes II, formerly General Counsel of the U S Dept of Defense under Rumsfeld, and David Addington, former Counsel and Chief of Staff to Cheney, both disbarred attorneys, arrived at the new facility. The trials of former Attorney General Gonzalez, former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, and Ex-Vice-President Cheney continue. Former Attorney and Law Professor John Yoo, who served in the Attorney General's office, remains a fugitive. The former President remains in exile in Dubai.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Workers Dying

The United Farm Workers report the second death this week from Heatstroke in California, the fourth in the last two weeks, aged from 64 to 17.

Heatstroke is preventable, but, by the time the victim shows symptoms, it is often a crisis, frequently fatal. The symptoms are easily distinguishable from the much more benign "Heat Exhaustion"; one victim is pale, grayish, the other is flushed and ruddy. Any civilized legal code will require that supervisors be able to recognize and deal with the difference. Regrettably, "civilized" does not describe those in charge of growing our nation's produce.

Many of the deceased leave dependent children, or, in one case, were children themselves. But they are Mexican migrants, not human beings, whom Godde made and loves. Their deaths are part of doing business, and there are many who will eagerly take their places, and not ask "Why is this position open?" The impetus for change has to come from elsewhere; neither bosses nor potential workers, for the most part, will do it. Legislators, and that means the public, must put a stop to what, in effect, is homicide. It is shameful to us all.

I will attempt the link:>; visit for details.

Scarlett's Avocations

Poppa, make it come down and play!

They're still around; I'm sure of it!

One of Scarlett's pleasures is find moths to play with her. She works very hard at persuading them that it will be as much fun for them as for her, but this rarely has much effect, much to poor Scarlett's displeasure.

Last night, there was an especially large specimen, which she very much wished to examine, but it insisted on remaining on the ceiling: taunting poor Scarlett, who began to mewl every few seconds to express her frustration and displeasure: damned bug! After a bit, Poppa decided he might perhaps swat at the creature and encourage it to fly lower and more slowly: alas! Preliminary ballistics estimates indicate that Poppa may have gotten too much of the critter with the old T-shirt-- the tool of choice; though the remains were not found, much to Scarlett's disappointment, it is possible it ended up in the wastebasket, where she disdains to look: TBTG.

Nonetheless, Scarlett continued in hope, scanning the room for some time, and springing up the wall in attempts to capture what Poppa could not see.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

For Those Trying This At Home

Several have expressed interest in that Lamb/ greens below; here are a couple of ideas to jazz it up.

Oil-cured olives w/ herbs. Better yet, Tampenade (paste of olives, garlic, and oil) on toast rounds

Shaved red onion/ Capers

Artichokes, Lemon Zest, and Mint, with a milder vinaigrette (easy on mustard, lemon juice instead of vinegar)

Green beans, Favas, or Green peas

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Sunday Dinner at JB's

I hope it looks good; it was: warm lamb w/ Rosemary au jus with mixed greens and a Mustard Vinagrette, Spinach Ravioli w/ roasted garlic (not shown) and a 2002 Old Vines Tinto del Pais (Tempranillo) from the Cigales region. Hedonistic maybe, but easy: 20-25 minutes to make, like falling off a log. Of course, for three or four, providing you are able to get your kid to consider it (I wasn't), it could get 'pensive, but for us single Hedonists, let me say: (giggle , snicker) "Free at last!"

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Thanks to a Visitor

How long ago was it: sheez--maybe five years, maybe more.

As is the case with many parishes, mine organizes fun outings for fellowship, especially in the Summer months. Here, it could be Tanglewood Saturdays, with a Picnic, or a trip to NYC; this was down the road to our local minor league baseball team, the New Britain Rockcats. I took my Godson, who was about eleven at the time. All together, adults and kids, maybe twenty people. I enjoyed the game, and the GS was enjoying hangin' with his buds; it was fun to compare live baseball at this level to the only other examples I could remember--American Legion (older kids to teens): amateurs forty years ago. As is usual, there were all sorts of promotions--kids' events, and yada yada--associated with the thing, and, as the game ended, there was to be a fireworks display; after a few hours of fun with people I know and love in the sunshine, my guard was down.

GS was down near the field, by the first base side, when I knew I had to leave immediately. I got him, and said "We gotta go." which he accepted; maybe he sensed I wasn't just being an adult spoilsport. We went through the concession area in silence, and around the high metal fences of the practice field in near dark, with the flashes and booms behind us: flickering on the walls. I was holding his hand, and realized I was doing it to remember I was nearly 60, and not 22, in the U S and not Vietnam. As we made our way back to the parking lot beyond the trees, I explained tersely what was up, and he said "Godde will take care of us". And I knew where I was. When I told his Mom, she said, "He's always had Spiritual insight."

I must say more. He's nearly HS graduation age now, and, though he acolytes, I've lost touch with him, as men sometimes, to my sorrow, do. I have tried to reach out, but little has happened. He has had serious anger issues for most of the time since, and has, according to his Mom, been violent in school more than once. He's African-American, growing up with a single Mom, and, even if he graduates, which I don't know about, it will be from one of the worst school districts in the country: under Federal court orders for decades, isolated from the money and power which are available in abundance across the town line in every direction, full of drugs and violence. He's gifted, angry, and Black, and we haven't provided him with a fair chance, and he knows it.

I'm sorry, but I don't know what to do but grieve. Should I at least hope he isn't murdered, or that he doesn't end up in jail? Or, as some of us decided in Vietnam, is it better to die or be wounded, and get it over with? I feel as if we have been swept away by the powers of this world into the pit, without any help.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Independence Day

10 May 68: I'd been in Vietnam for a month and six days, and things were beginning to shake out; I was assigned to the Interrogation Section of the Detachment, because of my language training, though I'd had no formal training as an Interrogator. Hence the assistant OIC (Officer in Charge) of the section, a stocky young black man, was to show me the ropes. After the evening meal, we had returned to the Stockade, instead of showers, volleyball, and beer, to get me started with my first enemy soldier.

The Stockade was just a bulldozed area, surrounded by barbed wire, with a corridor through the middle and several sections covered by a tent on either side. We "drew" the POW from one, under the supervision of the MPs, and took him to another with a table and maybe a chair or two.

Em tien gi? ("What's your name?") And the answer, the Lieutenant showing me the steps and having me do them, the POW graciously helping us out. Several more questions, and answers.

Then a sound they both recognized, but I didn't, a kind of whirling whistle, then a sound "SHUMP!" They both "move out smartly" the Lieutenant taking me and the POW, who doesn't need any coaxing, straight out the front gate beyond the compound to a hole in the raw red earth: 2 feet wide, maybe six long, and about five-six feet deep, the three of us: the Black officer, the North Vietnamese soldier, and me at the bottom of the hole. We wait, and there are more whirling whistles, maybe three or four, then SHUMP, then no more for maybe five minutes. It's an odd place--MLK has just been shot, and I'm in the bottom of a hole with two men of color who know what's goin' on, and I don't, yet, in some sense-- the brotherhood of those being shot at--we are together, and politics is irrelevant. Then the Lieutenant decides there's been enough training for the night; it's almost as if he and the POW know this, or have decided this, and are letting me know.

It's nearly dark now, and we go back to our tents, the Lieutenant and I, and wait for maybe an hour, or a little more. We begin to hear an occasional fireworks like sound from the distance: "Maybe a probe at the perimeter." says the LT. Shortly the guys who were taking showers and playing volleyball start showing up; the rockets (Soviet 122 mm. Katusha) had hit the ammo dump just across the airstrip maybe 200-300 meters away from them. People were scrambling, soapy, wet, and naked, over the wet pallet floors for cover. The Club NCO had broken out the hard liquor (unheard of in I Corps!). After a little while, they had decided to come back.

I still had some booze I had brought from the rear back South in the Highlands, which was consumed as we sat on top of the bunkers, listening to the automatic weapons fire (we thought) and the small explosions of mortar or rocket fire (RPG: a different sort) until the small hours. Then, about 1 or 2 am, there was an enormous fireball from the direction of the airstrip; the sounds of gunfire/ explosions having increased steadily all the while. Within another hour or so, another, similar explosion; each was 10,000 gallons of gasoline exploding, surrounded by three days' worth of artillery rounds, rockets, ammunition, grenades, mortar rounds, and other assorted very lethal stuff for a 23, 000 soldier unit. We waited for another hour or so after the second big bang, then drifted off to our bunks.

The next morning, about five hours later, with some rounds still "cooking off" (exploding because of heat), I wander up the hill to take a piss, passing the bunker we'd been sitting on most of the night a few meters to my left. In the grass, just off the path to the piss tube, I noticed a jagged piece of metal, maybe 9-10 inches long, four wide at most, and a little less than 1/2 inch thick: jagged and razor-sharp on every edge; it weighs maybe three or four pounds and is still hot from the explosions. Twenty feet to the left and one of us would have had no skull worth taking notice of.

Civilians insist on shooting off fireworks to "commemorate" our Independence, even though it is often illegal; perhaps you can understand why I neither want nor need such reminders.

I'd Like to Thank PJ

instead of the rest of youse bums; I mighta never got picked for de Bootifull award.


Thanks to all my wonderful internet friends, and mom and apple pie and this grate land of ours and of course godde... (Gratuitous cummings reference) And to da nice Creator of this thing, very little of whose blog I am able to read, but Padre vouches for her, and we all know what's dat worth?

Ahem. Many of my choices are those who have already gotten named, but some of the omissions (so far as I yet know) cannot stand

1) Mimi at Wounded Bird ( I'd rather think she's already been chosen and I've missed it than to believe nobody's named her yet.

2) Wormwood's Doxy ( The blogger name alone would be ample reason, but there's the person behind it: tough, bright, deep and compassionate. Not the most prolific, but always one of the best.

3) The Cunning Runt at Little Bang Theory ( Good dinners, fun friends, and the best Nature Photographs I know, except for that one recent lapse indoors! Go there and see for yersef.

4) Like some of the others, hardly overlooked, and for good reason, Tobias at In a Godward Direction ( You wanna understand stuff?

5) Only one more!?? This is impossible! OK, now the curve, not a blog exactly, but the website for the Washington bureau of McClatchy newspapers, which is practically the only consistent evidence that investigative journalism as an institution has not yet died in the U S (

As soon as tech support gets back to me, I'll make this all purty and like it's 'pposed to be, mostly. Imperialist rule mongers.