December 13, 2016 at 3:40 am (contemplation, creative writing, eating, exploring interconnectedness, life, living, random, Uncategorized, urban life, Writing)
Tags: current events, food, greed, guttonly, holiday season, Issues, monologue, Writing
May 14, 2016 at 8:22 pm (culture, education, entertainment, environment, ethics, exploring interconnectedness, issues, life, living, Uncategorized, Writing)
Tags: books, city, City By City, education, food, Gessen, Kansas City, KKFI, life, Missouri, music, radio, red lining, Squibb, Writing
Hola fellow web travelers. As a follow-up to my return to the online world I thought I’d connect with my prior post by filling in a gap in the City By City Dispatches from the American Metropolis edited by Keith Gessen and Stephen Squibb with a snapshot of Kansas City, Missouri–with a few side notes regarding some areas PR people like to associate it with, and some it would rather forget exist too close for their comfortably red-lined zones. Please don’t take this missive as a criticism of City By City. Editors have to work with the material they’re given and I am certainly enjoying its varied dispatches from Detroit, Washington D.C. (a brothel, how deliciously appropriate), and Chicago’s Hyde Park. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Gessen and Squibb either received no dispatches from Kansas City or if they did they couldn’t figure out what to make of them. The latter would be very understandable as Kansas City, Missouri has multiple personalities. Which one you encounter depends entirely on where you are–literally–physically.
If you were to stand on the corner of midtown Kansas City at 39th and Main Street, ground zero for KKFI, a community radio station like none other, your view of Kansas City changes drastically depending on which direction you take from there. Go south and west for money, some of it old and resting very comfortably. North offers old ethnic neighborhoods like Little Italy, and the City Market area working at staying alive north of the infamous Independence Avenue line (former hunting grounds for serial killers). Go east towards the Troost line you’ll find neighborhoods locked in life and death struggles with poverty and crime while contending with everything from a tragically failed public school district to abandoned vacant houses, gangs, and violent crime.
Heading west on 39th Street will take you to what remains of the city’s midtown bohemian neighborhoods. The ghost of the New York style D’Bronx pizzeria haunts the south corner of 39th and Bell while Prospero’s Books holds down the fort directly opposite it on the northern corner. Behind the 39th Street mainly food business line-up is a crowd of densely packed homes of all makes and ages. It’s a cool crazy quilt of unpredictability. Continue westward and you’ll cross State Line and then you’re in the KU Med area–which is on the Kansas side of the street, not in Missouri. Though you might never guess it. PR people like to make the most of what’s good around them.
If you travel south down Main and 39th to Westport Road you’ll wind up in the increasingly yuppified Westport area which currently caters to people who enjoy imbibing copious amounts of the legal drug known as alcohol in their free time. Long gone is the classy independent bookstore, the unique clothing stores, the movie theater and many other business venues unconnected to providing watering holes for the young and senseless. To be fair, the heroic Broadway Cafe remains steadfast on Broadway. As far as I currently know it is the ONLY independent coffeehouse to drive out the invasive species known as Starbucks. Yep, that’s right. Corporate Starbucks came, saw and invaded–and departed without conquering the superior java product. Also, the incredible Tivoli Cinemas remains–after relocating to Pennsylvania Ave. There’s also a newer food gig in the area–a new version of The Corner Restaurant complete with goat cheese, kale and alligator. No bagels and lox there–no way. The area has completely lost the feel of a friendly and engaging one-stop contained neighborhood but it is still alive, though steadily losing the remains of its inviting personality. I still mourn the closing of its independent music store, Streetside Records, which was once a great place to explore an incredibly wide range of music. It’s where I purchased Joan Osborne’s Relish after listening and discovering it offered far more than “If God Was One of Us.” Unless you’re into the drunk and disorderly scene evade the area on the weekends after dark when the partying begins in earnest as there are multiple hardcore drinking establishments all within a minute’s walk of each other from the corner of Pennsylvania and Westport Road. If you’re into drunk and disorderly then by all means go wallow whole hog all night long.
If you continue further south on Broadway you will enter the alternate universe of The Plaza where the fountains flow and so does the money dough. It’s not called the Country Club Plaza for nothing. Years and years ago this was an upscale middle class yet still affordable area with all kinds of interesting independent shops and food venues. These days it caters to those with two hundred dollars to spend on jeans without batting an eye. Dinner can easily cost a hundred dollars a person at some eateries. Most of the affordable housing in this area has vanished, but there’s plenty to be had for the urban condo set. The Plaza offers Thanksgiving lights, fountains, a very uninspiring insipid Art Fair–art which will not offend, raise issues or stretch anyone’s mind–but it’ll work well with your color scheme. So ironic considering the fact that just a few blocks away rests the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art–well, maybe not so ironic other things considered. If you desire more engaging on the fringe art then go north from 39th and Main to the Crossroads area around Broadway and 18th Streets. But visit it fast because the high and mighty are digging in big time with developments with hopes to connect the dots to the Power and Light District (Remind me: urban revitalization for who? Yuppies? Again?) and the real people character is vanishing fast. You’ll know the former Crossroads has been entirely vanquished when YJ’s Snack Bar closes and the jamming ends. Yep, that will signal the end of an era.
Okay,so venturing southwest from The Plaza and you’ll find impressive homes on lots large enough for five or six of the houses east of Troost Ave. None of them will have their garbage or household discards left sitting at curb for weeks and weeks and weeks as happens in the neighborhoods east of Troost where, if you’re not squeamish, you can have your pick of couches, mattresses, and entertainment centers. Even the huge lovely Loose Park is very well maintained. There’s cool green space galore with huge old trees, a pond, picnic areas and rose garden. I wonder if anyone east of Troost ever enters the rose garden contest held at Loose Park? I’ve never seen roses blooming in the parks east of Troost. Seeing a bench to sit on is a find. This is part of the character of extreme contrasts that Kansas City offers. This can easily be missed by staying on the highways when driving in from Independence, Missouri–a former Meth Lab Capital of the World–though who knows what’s really going on in that American drug swamp. If you drive into Kansas City from Independence on any residential street like 23rd or 31st instead of I70 you’ll get a close up view of the multiple urban landscapes of Kansas City from the bottom of the economic ladder to the top from east to west/southwest. You might even be impressed by the bus-stop at the corner of 31st and Troost–it does look like something from this decade, sort of.
Heading south from The Plaza, or from 31st and Troost, you’ll find the University of Missouri which years ago ran into very deep shit with its very diverse residential neighbors when it embarked on a buy and destroy mission to enable expansion of the parking garage ilk–among other things. The good neighbors fought back hard, going so far as to threaten UMKC’s chancellor’s residence with a bulldozer. No joke, these people were pissed off and rightly so in my opinion. Along Rockhill Road were blocks of lawn signs screaming “UMKC Kills Homes.” So much for the Ivory Tower’s idealism when it comes to money matters. This is another area in which the small independent local business flavor has all but disappeared. Perhaps they just don’t make people the same anymore? Just a question. Rockhill Road leads to Brookside and Waldo areas where the older tree-lined streets are narrow and generally quiet and the grocery store offers delights you won’t find in Wild Woody’s store east of Troost on 31 Street. Lamb chops and Green Tea ice cream anyone? Hmm?
Troost Avenue is only one block east of Rockhill Road. Once you get past being impressed by Rockhurst University’s presence on the east side of the street it’s clear straight off that the residences are not on par with those to the west of UMKC. Things are a tad rougher and tougher looking on the east side of Troost for the hard-working poor and their attendant gangs. Just a tad. I don’t think I’ve ever been in another city with such an obvious social economic division designated by a single street running north/south where you can actually stand on the street’s yellow dividing line and see two contrasting worlds just by looking in opposite directions: urban blight versus urban de-light.
I haven’t said anything about barbecue. Yeah, there’s plenty of it in all directions.
Nor have I mentioned the Historic Jazz District at 18th and Vine which is one street featuring the wonderful Gem Theater, the Blue Room and the American Jazz Museum, The Call newspaper–and historic painted storefronts.
Then there’s the Northeast area of Kansas City with its incredible influx of immigrants whose language needs the Kansas City Public library tries to address with ESL courses.
I haven’t mentioned the former mayor who refused to discuss the state of education even when it was front page news.
I haven’t mentioned the ex-school superintendent who insisted that 36 students in a classroom was a good thing.
Nor have I said anything about the decline of a newspaper that first impressed me with its coverage of a suspected serial killer hunting prostitutes and other vulnerable women on Independence Ave.
I’ve only hinted at the vibrant art scene that serves as a huge street party every first Friday.
There are thousands of homeless people in Kansas City.
There’s extreme wealth in Kansas City–and that’s not counting Johnson County which is in KANSAS not Missouri–and there’s extreme poverty with every economic class in between. I wonder if the people working at the Channel 4 news station ever drove down the street right behind their building and saw the houses with plastic sheeting for windows? Yes, there were people living in those places.
I could write a great deal more. I’m trying to stop while I’m ahead. I suspect I might already be behind the eight ball here.
Perhaps the very best thing about Kansas City is the community radio station which is still going strong after more than twenty years of Jazz, Blues, World, Folk, Classical, Latino, Reggae, and Rock music. If anything is truly alive and well in Kansas City, Missouri, it is KKFI–the beating heart of a diverse population which can’t be red lined. If you want a taste of Kansas City then tune in–they’re streaming online world-wide from the corner of 39th and Main 365 days and nights a year.
September 27, 2014 at 9:45 pm (contemplation, culture, food, issues, life, nature, people, random, relationships, thinking)
Tags: attraction, babies, baby formula, breast cancer, breast implant, breast implants, breastfeeding, breasts, business, cultural issues, food, glands, implants, money makers, sex, sex education, Victoria's Secret, women, YouTube
Have you had your silicon implant fix today? Hmm?
This is a miss-take on the old sensual Saturday music themes of old. If this breast talk offends anyone I’m not apologizing because, after all, breasts have been around as long as humans in any variety. Without them Homo sapiens wouldn’t be here. Newsflash– baby formula is a profit motivated industry and boy oh boy, have modern folks bought into it big time. In the OLD days, if a mother couldn’t feed her baby for some reason, then a wet-nurse was found to provide sustenance. Yes, other women fed the babies of other mothers. Imagine that.
* Now consider what this is all about:
Is that sexy or what? Hmm? I’m still waiting for the male underwear model version of this to hit prime time television. Anyone got any information on THAT? What?!
Hmmm, just another profit driven industry?
Is all this breast business really all only sexual attraction?
Medical reconstructive surgery for breast cancer patients aside, of course.
Ironically, sex, not the stork, is the means for procreation. Shhhh, don’t tell the people who don’t like sex education in schools about this or they may do something drastic to shut down the sharing of the facts. Mother Nature doesn’t comprehend the people who are offended when women breastfeed their babies in public. Heavens forbid anyone should see the real thing doing what it was created to do. Does it sound like I’ve got an agenda here? Yeah, I suppose it does. Hmm….who’d have thunk it?
What do babies need? Food. Where does it come from? No, not from the Gerber factory. It comes from some glands. Who knew?
Wow, women have breasts for something other than filling out bikinis and bras for interested parties to ogle and grope. So much for second basing.
As for the next video, the Islamic element was unexpected but not distracting , and of all the videos I viewed on the tubes of you this one made the points that interested me in the manner I found most appealing today: bonding, nutrition, IQ, stress reduction. The text flows a little fast for my reading speed so you might want to hit pause when a new frame appears. I suspect there’s some irony loitering in between these lines at the moment.
Why this post at this point?
It’s about time I got this off my chest. 🙂
I feel so much lighter already.
Comments? Questions? Funny stories?
Anyone care to share the money numbers on the breast implant or the baby formula industries? If not, I’ll try to update with some $$$$ information when time allows. Thanks for visiting. Refreshments are in your fridge. I’m having pistachios and pomegranate juice. 🙂 Cheers.
May 6, 2014 at 8:22 pm (books, contemplation, culture, drama, eating, education, entertainment, ethics, exploring interconnectedness, films, food, humor, issues, life, living, music, people, random, relationships, searching, thinking, Uncategorized)
Tags: cancer, Captain Sharon Raydor, charity, chess, children, cookbook, cooking, crime drama, crime drama The Bridge, drama, family, fan videos, film, food, French Toast, Graham Patrick Martin, interview, Issues, Law and Order, Major Crimes, Major Crimes Cookbook, Mary McDonnell, McDonnell, mothers, movie, music, Rusty Beck, sexually abused children, Sharon Raydor, Sharon Raydors, sons, Sunshine Kids, television, The Closer, The Travis Smiley Show, TNT, Tony Denison, Trattoria, Travis Smiley, women
The last time I posted about a television show was in regard to the American remake of the Swedish crime drama The Bridge. Today it’s to do a little promotional hype for Major Crimes starring the incredible Mary McDonnell. Season 3 of Major Crimes starts Monday, June 9 on TNT and I am so looking forward to it. This spin-off from The Closer featuring Kyra Sedgwick would be well worth watching simply because of Mary McDonnell’s great portrayal of Captain Sharon Raydor as a very strong, independent, and very, very smart woman who has the rules down pat–and a lot more. McDonnell’s interview with Travis Smiley explains a great deal for anyone who has not yet discovered Major Crimes. Even if you don’t enjoy crime drama I think it’s worth listening to McDonnell discuss the Raydor character, power, acting and the needs of human beings–and selling brushes.
Another plus for Major Crimes in its first two seasons was the story line involving Captain Sharon Raydor and material witness Rusty Beck. Watching their relationship with each other and the rest of the characters grow and evolve brought unexpected considerable depth and substance to this drama. The concept of family is redefined by example in a much-needed manner for the discussions it has the potential to provoke. Unlike The Closer which had a certain formulaic feeling to the episodes featuring Brenda Johnson’s considerable talent for lying and manipulating people into confessions even when raising all sorts of issues including ethical issues about the ends justifying the means, Major Crimes is making its own way into the future. If you want predictable resolutions of plot-lines there’s always Law and Order to fall back into the comfort zone of neat little black and white packages. This isn’t to say that the criminal cases aren’t closed and resolved in Major Crimes–they are–but there’s a lot more going on than stereotypical criminal behavior.
There’s a great deal more attention paid to serious issues like sexually abused children. “These boys aren’t runaways. They’re throw-aways.” So says a man running a shelter for teenage boys living on the streets of LA. Now for a society in which the mainstream jabbers constantly about family values and loving children so much this is a brutally honest statement of factual reality. Its consequences for boys like the Rusty Beck–and other characters–holds up a mirror that reflects our society as all truly great dramas of the stage and screen do. Clearly there are not enough Sharon Raydors willing to step up and care in our real world. In most drama storylines children are summarily deposited with the Department of Family Services and conveniently disappear from the script. In the first two seasons of Major Crimes, Rusty Beck didn’t disappear–and the writers used his character to full advantage. I can’t tell from the promos or website if the very talented Graham Patrick Martin will continue in this role–but for the sake of abandoned children trying to survive in a hostile world I hope so. Being saved is not the end of anyone’s story.
Oh and by the way, Rusty Beck loves playing chess.
Personally I think the fans on YouTube have made better promos for Major Crimes than TNT has dreamed up so far. Here’s a fun meet and greet video to get acquainted.
A short and to the point promo. ) I get it, this is probably for short promo time slots.
Mary McDonnell interview on The Travis Smiley Show. Yeah you want to watch. I think Smiley was very smitten. Oh yeah, he likes her shoes. Ah ha.
This particular choice of song and images conveys a great deal about the relationship between Rusty and Sharon. Clearly this matters to viewers as there are many music videos on the tubes regarding this relationship.
Major Crimes Cookbook for the Sunshine Kids
For more information or to order the Major Crimes Cookbook, click here: http://majorcrimestv.net/support-the-…
For cast profiles and more information visit Major Crimes online: http://majorcrimestv.net/
I think I’m going to post more fan videos for Major Crimes on the sidebar. Yeah, I think I will. It’ll be fun–for me anyway. I’ll make sure to find one with the scene where Sharon Raydor shoots a guy between the eyes with a red bean bag. Hey, he asks for it–literally.
UPDATE–the Beanbag scene is the headliner on the sidebar. Several of my favorite scenes follow along with some fan made videos featuring music. Charlie’s Angels is a hoot.
As for The Bridge–it’s all dark and dreadful in America and Mexico. In Sweden there’s darkness and light–plus resolution. I recommend watching both versions.
April 30, 2014 at 6:00 pm (culture, eating, education, environment, exploring interconnectedness, life, living, nature, Uncategorized)
Tags: business, culture, dandelion, dandelion greens, dandelion tea, dandelion wine, Dandelions, exploring interconnectedness, flowers, food, foraging, free food, free food source, grass, greens, human food source, industry, lawns, leaves, life, living, people, roots, weeds
Do you do the dandelion dance?
I do. I drink them. I eat them. I enjoy their bright cheery yellow “Hello!s.”
Dandelions were made for wining and dining everyone.
There’s an excellent free food source growing at will almost everywhere despite all the billions of dollars spent by lawn growers determined to eradicate it-drumroll please– the Incredible Edible Dandelion. It’s a plant often found in yards and lawns and just about everywhere you look. People tend to tear them out of their lawns without any regard for the food they’re wasting by doing so. How much do leafy greens cost in your market? Then again, if compulsive lawn growers have been dousing their precious grass with chemicals they’ve made the plants toxic–and probably other living things as well. I wonder what bare feet pick on such bright green beds? But, if you’ve got access to a chemical free dandelion zone then you’re in luck–go forth and forage at will–once you’re sure exactly what plant you’re looking for, of course. 🙂
A few thoughts about lawns:
Personally, I’ve never understood the entire lawn notion of fertilizing some grass to make it grow so that you can cut it down again and again and again. Heard the joke about the definition of insanity? Does not the whole concept of lawn care rely on a form of an insane game? This strange game involves expensive lawnmowers, fertilisers, herbicides, gasoline or electricity for any non-reel blade mower, plus a lot water for quenching the thirst of growing grass. And it’s made billions and billions for the manufacturers of all those noise toys and chemicals. Tell me why anyone would grow something which servers no purpose simply in order to cut it again and again and again? All the mowing creates a lot of noise I personally can do without. It’s a chore for whoever the job falls to in any household. I suppose it provides allowance money for children and wages for people who are willing to mow the grass of others who can’t or don’t want to mow their lawns and have the means to pay others to do it for them. Is lawn mowing a form of exercise? Hmm. If you’re using a reel mower which requires human push power, it sure can be. But is that a reason to grow a patch of grass?
Yes, a nice, neat, lush green lawn is very inviting for soccer and other game playing. They’re okay for picnics if there is more than grass and more grass to ‘enjoy’. I guess. Personally I’d prefer a picnic with a meadow view full of wildflowers, plants, bees, birds and insects all doing their things. Anyone who’s ever observed one knows there’s a lot more going on in a meadow then on a bed of grass pumped full of herbicides and pesticides and fertilizers. There’s those plants doing all their planty things in the grand natural scheme of things.
Dandelions are vital in the grand scheme of things despite what the lawn care INDUSTRY claims. Many Americans have been ‘educated’ to destroy this plant every time one perks up their basic green carpet with some bright yellow. Every time a dandelion plant is destroyed so is a prime human food source. Why would anyone want to kill off an edible plant full of vitamins A, K, C & E? (Oh, well, we are talking about the same mentality that killed off the buffalo which is a far better meat source than cattle of any kind. But I digress and that’s another story about industry and monetary profits instead of good healthy food and land use common sense.) And that’s just the tip of this saw-edged leafy green with the bright yellow flowers you can munch on. Oh don’t forget the roots, their edible too–and they make one of my favorite teas. As I have access to a chemical free green area I pick dandelion greens fresh for meals and snap the flowers off for tea at will. I have yet to make dandelion wine. If any of you have, please feel free to share your recipe.
You don’t have to take my word for it. A few other people consume dandelions. Just a few. You’re welcome to join us.
Dandelions are found on all continents and have been gathered for food since prehistory, but the varieties cultivated for consumption are mainly native to Eurasia. A perennial plant, its leaves will grow back if the taproot is left intact. To make leaves more palatable, they are often blanched to remove bitterness. Dandelion leaves and buds have been a part of traditional Sephardic, Chinese, and Korean cuisine. In Crete, Greece, the leaves of a variety called Mari (Μαρί), Mariaki (Μαριάκι) or Koproradiko (Κοπροράδικο) are eaten by locals, either raw or boiled, in salads. Taraxacum megalorhizon, a species endemic to Crete, is eaten in the same way; it is found only at high altitudes (1000 to 1600 m.) and in fallow sites, and is called pentaramia (πενταράμια) or agrioradiko (αγριοράδικο).
The flower petals, along with other ingredients, usually including citrus, are used to make dandelion wine. The ground, roasted roots can be used as a caffeine-free dandelion coffee. Dandelion was also traditionally used to make the traditional British soft drink dandelion and burdock, and is one of the ingredients of root beer. Also, dandelions were once delicacies eaten by the Victorian gentry, mostly in salads and sandwiches.
Historically, dandelion was prized for a variety of medicinal properties, and it contains a wide number of pharmacologically active compounds. Dandelion is used as a herbal remedy in Europe, North America and China. It has been used in herbal medicine to treat infections, bile and liver problems, and as a diuretic.
Surf over to Labellestudio where there’s a post about another great plant called stinging nettles. Check it out.
What’s your favorite edible ‘weed’?
The Perfect Lawn: How Obsession Fueled a $40 Billion Industry :>
March 6, 2014 at 5:05 am (culture, eating, food, humor, life, living, searching, Uncategorized)
Tags: Dannon All Natural Vanilla Yogurt, eating, Fast Food, food, Genova Tuna, humor, lettuce, meals, pickles, quick eats, random, romaine lettuce, sweet pickles, tinned tuna, tuna, yogurt
Who says fast food has to be bad? I’m here to tell you it can be fresh, crisp, and tasty with sweet crunchy omega-3 tuna-fishing delightfulness.
Got some romaine lettuce loitering in your fridge? Red or green leaf lettuce, even large spinach leaves will also do in a pinch.
How about a can of tuna? My tinned tuna of choice comes by way of the Genova brand. It has nothing but tuna, olive oil and sea salt inside the metal container. It also comes with water sans olive oil. There is none of that mysterious “vegetable broth” of unknown origins soaking into shredded tuna strands with obnoxious filler soy on the side. Pry open a can of Genova tuna and discover solid hunks of tuna, the likes of which is generally an unknown ingredient in what often passes itself off in cans of tuna processed by American food companies. If anyone knows of another brand offering a similar or better quality of affordable tuna-fish, I am all eyes and ears for that intel.
Instead of mayo haul out some plain or vanilla flavored yogurt. I generally spoon and spread some of Dannon’s All Natural Vanilla across the lettuce leaves. I like this yogurt because it has ONLY four ingredients–milk, sugar, vanilla and pectin. I know what those things are. I can pronounce each and every one of them. None of them pose an allergy threat to my physical health and well-being. My sincere thanks to Dannon for a non-soy, non artificially sweetened yogurt product.
After you’ve painted the romaine with a thick coat of creamy fresh yogurt, fork some tuna down along the center. The quantities are entirely up to you. I’m just here sharing my ingredients of choice.
Last, but not least, toss several sweet pickle midgets along the center line. If you’re not in a rush you might dice them up and mix them with the tuna and yogurt. But this is not a necessary step for your taste-buds’ happy happy joy joy meal time. The beauty of these lettuce boats is the quickness with which you can sling the yogurt, tuna and pickles into the crisp green boats, fold them in half or roll them if you’re so inclined. If all the ingredients are at home and at hand, you’ve got a meal in five minutes or less. It all depends on how fast your hands make way.
January 1, 2014 at 9:00 pm (books, creative writing, culture, eating, entertainment, exploring interconnectedness, fiction, food, humor, life, literary fiction, living, music, people, play, publishing, random, relationships, searching, Uncategorized, Writing)
Tags: #36, Benny Goodman, Book, Breakfast Special, cooking, creative writing, fiction, food, jazz, Let's Dance, Lily, love, love story, Lovers, music, novel, play, relationships, romance, Sarge, swing, Szechuan Shrimp Lo Mein, The Touch of Your Lips, work in progress, Writing
“Szechuan Shrimp Lo Mein”
“Hey, Sarge.” Lily leaned against the fridge wondering how to tell him he was welcome to stay without it coming across as if she was expecting a great deal more than either of them was ready for at the moment. She asked herself just what exactly she was really ready for, but before she could reply to herself, Sarge was in the kitchen holding a large round hot pink Tupperware container and grinning like a little kid who’d just found the best prize ever inside a box of cracker jack.
“Guess what this is, Lily.” He repeatedly flipped the container over and over showing his complete confidence in its ability to remain fully sealed while in motion.
Lily looked at his happy-as-all-get-out-hazel eyes and sighed. She grabbed hold of the container to stop its motion and peered at the milky white bowl. “Hmm. Looks like lo mein noodles.” She looked closer. “Is that shrimp I see? Open it! Open it!” Sarge set the container on the table and obliged her. Lily leaned in close and sniffed. “Oh hot damn, Sarge. Is this Mrs. Ling’s Szechuan shrimp lo mein?!”
“Indeed it is, Lily. Guess what’s for dinner, unless you were planning on poaching some eggs, of course.” He winked at her, stood with his hands behind his back, rocking from one foot to the other clearly excited with having brought this delicious dish home.
Lily shook her head hard enough to send her hair flying. “No. Oh no. Mrs. Ling’s Szechuan shrimp trumps everything including eggs. How did you get this?”
“Unscheduled basement flood emergency complete with blown fuse box. Yeah. It was worth wading around in that damn cold water for this.” He held up the Tupperware lid. “And this too: her coconut cookie recipe. Is this a major score or what, Lily?”
Lily took the lid from him and read the recipe. “O yeah, you scored big time, Sarge. No one makes better coconut cookies than Mrs. Ling. I’ve never had any better even in that fancy bakery in M- or anywhere else for that matter. Wow.”
Sarge sniffed the air. “Is that dinner I smell?”
“Yes, I think dinner is set. You hungry?”
“Starving. If you’ll warm it up, I’ll get cleaned up. “
“Go! Go! Go! Hurry up! I’m dying for some spicy shrimp.”
Walking backwards towards the bathroom, he said, “You have chopsticks, right? Eating lo mein with forks is just plain wrong in my book.”
“Do you really have to ask?” Lily laughed as she pulled out a pan for gently warming up the shrimp lo mein.
Five minutes later they were spearing shrimp and twirling noodles and playing with their food on the way to their mouths. “Is everything Mrs. Ling makes this good?”
Lily nodded. “Everything she’s brought to a potluck has always been good, but this and the coconut cookies are her best as far as my taste buds are concerned. I think she’s got some secret with the shrimp. Anton has been trying to figure it out, but so far he can’t pin it down. Mrs. Ling likes having her food mysteries, so she’s not saying.”
“When I tried this at that first potluck, I couldn’t get enough. It disappeared really fast too. Oh hell this is so good.” Sarge ate a shrimp and rolled his eyes. “Yeah, she’s doing something with these little beasties all her own. I wonder what else needs fixing in that building.”
Lily laughed and pointed at the list on the fridge. “It’ll be interesting to see what other top choice meal deals you bring home as you work through those repairs requests.”
“Mmm. I wonder if I could work out some regular meal trades for bread. What do you think?”
Lily stuffed a bunch of lo mein into her mouth and nodded as she chewed. “Worth a try. Everyone seems to like one kind of bread or another.” She speared a shrimp and offered it to him. Sarge promptly accepted it. “Yeah, bread deals for sczechy shrimpies, oh Gloria’s pierogies, maybe some of Harold’s buffalo sausages. Hmm. O yeah, Sarge, there are plenty of primo meal choices around the Flats for trading bread.”
“Mrs. Ranoli’s turkey cherry lasagna.”
“O yeah.” Lily laughed and they both dug into their bowls. She looked over at the list on the fridge again then back at the man enjoying his shrimp lo mien score.
Sarge caught her eye action and leaned back in his chair. He waited to speak until he’d swallowed and had a sip of tea. “What’s on your mind, Lily? Hmm?”
She sucked on the ends of her chopsticks for a moment and looked at the list then back at Sarge. With a little shrug she said, “There’s a lot of work on that list of yours. More on the main one that you’ve written your name by. That one on the fridge alone must be about thirty hours of full-time work all by itself.”
Sarge looked at the list and nodded. “Yeah, more or less depending on what I find when I actually get into seeing what’s messed up. A lot of that needs some serious attention as soon as possible. That’s why I took them. If there’s something electrical I can’t handle then Ricardo probably can. Anything like that at least I’ll save him the time and trouble of finding the problems.”
Lily set her chopsticks across the top of her bowl then pushed her hair behind her ears and mentally jumped. “Sounds like a good working plan. But how are you going to do all that and work full-time dock hours too?”
“I have that worked out with Oscar already. Starting from whenever he can open up the docks for freight as usual I’m taking two weeks vacation. That should let me get through the really bad stuff and anything else that decides to blow in that time.” Sarge suddenly realized he hadn’t discussed any of this with Lily. “Um, that is if it’s okay with you that I’m still hanging around here, of course.” He held his breath while watching her intently and bracing for negative impact verbally and/or physically for his oversight.
Lightly tapping her fingertips on the sides of her bowl she nodded. “Yes, it’s okay with me, as long as you still want to be hanging around here. That vacation time plan sounds good. Though it’s not much of a vacation for you, is it? Not exactly a trip to the Caribbean to get away from the snow and cold for a fun time.” Lily watched for any reaction from him regarding the indirect reference to the travel receipt in his coat pocket. He offered none that she could discern via direct observation nor her home people vibes and a certain small tight knot eased in her stomach.
“Oh I beg to differ, Lily. I’m having great fun with the whole shebang.” Unconsciously he lowered his head enough so that he was looking at her through the hair covering his eyes like a sheepdog who thought he’d narrowly escaped permanent banishment from its chosen human’s company forever. “Nasty garbarge disposal tricks aside, of course. But even those have their upsides, like baths and Lily swirlies.”
“Are you really enjoying everything, Sarge?” she said softly while glancing down into her bowl then at him then into the bowl again. “Even pushy Lily swirlies?”
Realizing she was talking about more than the work concerning the repair list, Sarge leaned slightly forward over the table. Wondering if a solid chance with Lily was now coming his way, he said, “Yes, I really am, Lily. I’m having a great time with you here in the Flats.” Seeing her sharp cheekbones suddenly flush brightly, he pushed his hair away from his eyes to keep from reaching out and touching her red streaked cheeks and said softly, “Lily, I don’t want any of it to stop: not the sharing breakfasts; not the dancing with you; not the bread baking; not the crazy repair work or minding Marianna on a tough day.”
Lily nervously twisted her fingers in her hair and smiled. “That’s good, because I’ve been having a great time having you here with me in the Flats. I don’t want any of it to stop either, Sarge.” She glanced at the list on the fridge again. “Since everything is working for both of us, then it doesn’t seem to make any sense to change things that don’t need changing, at least not to me.”
“Not to me either.” Hoping she couldn’t hear how hard his heart was pounding as he waited for her to share the rest of her thoughts, Sarge moved his hands under the table and tightly gripped his knees. “This is your home so it’s entirely your call when I stay or go.”
“You’re very welcome to keep staying here as long as we’re both agreeing with each other.” She shrugged a little and listened to her home people vibes murmuring softly. “Or whatever combination of here and your place makes sense when your vacation is over.”
“Okay, thanks, that sounds good to me.” Feeling awkward in spite of their mutual agreement, Sarge tried to find a way to create a more concrete and literal balance in the scenario. “My place isn’t nearly as . . . comfortable . . as yours. But it is a lot closer to the college. Maybe it could be useful to you somehow. There’s plenty of room for a study space all your own. Usually it’s pretty damn quiet too, even when Kozy is working on something downstairs. He won’t mind at all if you wolf howl your lungs out. Might rattle some of the guys on the docks, but hey, it would give them something different to talk about.” Sarge thought for a moment, searching for something else to offer her very practical sensibilities, he added, “There’s a bus stop close by for the long route that goes from the west end of Falls direct to M- and back. It’s easy to make a transfer connection to and from the Flats in several places.”
Understanding the balance Sarge was trying to create with the sharing of their individual spaces that he was offering her, Lily hummed with internal excitement while managing to respond calmly with quickly growing real interest. “Your place is near a bus stop for the long West-East route on the south side? That is very handy.” She tried, and uncharacteristically failed, to pin-point the stop location-based on her knowledge of the city bus system.
Encouraged by her tone and the gleam of genuine interest in her black eyes, Sarge did what he’d never dared to do in the five years he’d lived in the freight district on the second floor of Walter Kozy’s warehouse, he invited another person, this particular woman, directly into what amounted to as his personally sacred for its highly prized privacy, living space. “When the bus routes are back on track, how about we take a ride to the freight district so you can have a look around my place? We could brainstorm some other ideas. Let’s see what works for both of us.”
Feeling suddenly oddly shy and disconcerted about this development regarding sharing his living space, Lily’s voice was hardly above a whisper when she said, “I’d like that. It’ll be like figuring out how to pool our resources with our different locations in the city.”
“Exactly.” Trying to contain his own nervous excitement, Sarge took a deep breath. “We can work things out as we go along. Switch it up until we find out what suits us both.” He waited for her to make eye contact again. “I’m game for keeping things working for both of us, if you are, Lily.”
“I am too. I’m in, Sarge.” She partly hid her smile with her hand for a few moments while quickly considering the doors that had unexpectedly opened between them. “I guess that’s settled then.”
Picking up on the fact that her voice had become quiet and soft and correctly interpreting it as an indicator of her excited yet very nervous state of mind regarding the content of their conversation and its implications for each of them, Sarge tried to put her, and himself, at ease before one or both of them began back pedaling for any number of rational reasons. “If you say it’s settled, Lily, then it is as far as I’m concerned. I meant what I said about it all working for me. Truly it is. If something isn’t working for you, just say the word and I’ll do my best to set it right.”
“Same here, Sarge. Two way street.” She walked the fingers of each hand in opposite directions towards and past each other across the table.
Sarge watched her finger action and laughed. “A two way street, eh? Do we need a stop sign or a traffic light for getting from one side to the other? I doubt either would stop you from jaywalking at will.”
Feigning innocence, Lily pointed at herself. “Me jaywalking? Never. Ah ha. You’re a very funny man, Sarge.” She pointed to the teapot nearer him for a refill of her cup.
“Apparently I have my moments according to your sense of humor.” He grinned while pouring more tea into her cup and then his own and caught sight of Mrs. Ling’s cookie recipe. “Do you think Rosa has any coconut stashed somewhere so we can try out these cookies tonight?”
“Probably. But we don’t need hers, not yet anyway, when we’ve got coconut aplenty right here, Sarge.” She pointed backwards towards the storage cabinets.
Sarge glanced at the cabinet then at the recipe. “What are we waiting for then, Lily? Let’s make some cookies.”
She got up, opened a cabinet, pulled out a large bag of shredded coconut and tossed it to him. “How about some Benny Goodman on the side? That work for you?”
“That definitely works for me, Lily.” He watched her leave the kitchen for the record player in the bookroom. When she was out of his sight, he stood up and spun around on the balls of his feet in a quick silent celebration of their agreement to continue living together and working on their evolving relationship. Hearing static from the other room signifying the record player was now in action, Sarge froze with the realization that at this point in time he was already far beyond netting his former goal of getting to see Lily for a third or fourth time. He’d passed that goal weeks ago after the snow had first begun falling in earnest. Music came from the bookroom, but Sarge paid it no mind as Lily sauntered back into the kitchen with a preoccupied little smile on her lips. Catching his more than slightly stunned facial expression, she cocked her head to one side and came to a halt in front of him.
“You look like you’ve been hit with a dozen snowballs all at once, Sarge. What’s the matter? Shrimp lo mein, coconut cookies, Benny, and Lily more than you can handle at one time?”
Sarge looked down at the black eyes shining up at him and gave her a wicked grin. “Careful, Missy, or you’ll find out real fast just how much I can handle all at one time.”
“Ooooo that sounds like a dare.” Lily grabbed the bag of coconut from the table and tossed it at him then followed it up with the empty Tupperware container. She was reaching for the cookie tin when he gently stayed her hand with his. Lily turned towards him and he quickly stole a light brush of a kiss on the lips then shyly backed away like a skittish deer retreating from the bright lights on a road at night. Tempted as she was to hedge him in between the kitchen window, table and sink counter with a chair to stand on in order to soundly return the favor of his affection, she paid heed to the sudden warning turn of her home people vibes and refrained from taking such an approach. Instead she smiled and blew him a kiss. “I like you too, Funny Man.” She winked and began dancing to the music while gathering the ingredients for Mrs. Ling’s cookies. A moment later he joined her efforts.
Lily smiled to herself happy in knowing that she’d read him well enough that, in spite of his verbal daring and spontaneous kiss theft, he clearly couldn’t handle more at the moment. Backing off from physically returning the kiss and letting him return from his retreat on his own was plainly the right plan of action as his quick, unhesitant jump into the cookie making preparations signified. As they moved into sync for baking and dancing, her home people vibes humming along with the music, she felt him edge a little closer physically like a wary stray cat getting comfortable with the notion of proximity to a human setting out clean water and food for it. Treating him as if he were indeed such a cat, she kept to the program with which they were both familiar and comfortable and refrained from making any sudden movements of her own, tempting as that was considering their new mutual agreement to keep doing what was working for both of them, namely living together, and expanding their domain by venturing into his living space on the other side of the city.
As she gradually added coconut to the dough Sarge was steadily mixing with a wooden spoon, Lily reflected on the information he’d shared piecemeal about his home on the second floor of the warehouse in the freight district. The main thing that came to mind was a sense of it being far enough off the city’s well beaten paths to offer privacy and peace, trains aside, yet close enough for easy access with some foresight regarding public transportation schedules. She considered the comparative lack of both privacy and peace here in the Flats and gave him credit for adapting as well he had without complaint to the local environment. Having done more than her fair share of adapting, which seemed never-ending for her, she knew how the stress of it could manifest in unexpected ways. It wouldn’t surprise her at all if that alone was responsible for his starts and stops when it came to physical closeness when they weren’t dancing or sharing a task. She factored in the intense and focused way he read, as if his mental space was his most prized possession, and thought she had a fairly good explanation for his behavior. If they ventured into deeper emotional and physical waters now, and if they had a falling out, his as well as her options for literal private physical escape from the situation in the current context were practically nil. He might sleep in the front room occupied by the back-up generator and Ricardo’s in-home warehouse of food and other supplies deemed necessary for survival in the winter months in this climate, but it was no place for him or anyone else to spend their days waiting for the city to return to enough normalcy to enable a return home. The ready rooms over at “sun rise” didn’t offer any better solution all things people context considered.
Unconsciously they leaned into and against each other while together carefully reading Mrs. Ling’s surprisingly fluent English translation of the instructions for the next steps in the recipe. After placing the cookie dough in the fridge then setting the timer, they gave their full attention to the music and put the waiting time to good use dancing.
Lily gave herself up to the music Priest had shared with her in an effort to create for her a potential social bridge into another culture. Gran and her aging friends had joined in the music and dance efforts in order to encourage Lily and to get some sense of what Priest was trying to convey to her granddaughter. Now her home people vibes hummed with glee as Sarge, who held nothing back as a dance partner, twirled, whirled and spun her around the apartment as if this was the very best thing in the world to be doing right here and now.
Only after the coconut cookies had been baked and deemed satisfactory for first efforts with a new recipe, after they’d cleaned the kitchen, after they’d danced to the last song on the record and Sarge laid claim to the bathroom for a shower while Lily sprawled over the red velvet couch enjoying the view of the winter sky, only then did either of them take more than a moment to pause in order to reflect on their conversation over Mrs. Ling’s shrimp lo mien.
Breakfast Special, #1 -> https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/breakfast-special/
December 6, 2013 at 6:41 pm (art, culture, exploring interconnectedness, food, life, photography, play, poetry, Uncategorized, Writing)
Tags: art, food, food porn, photography, poem, poems, poetry, sharing, Writing, Yi-Ching Lin
living suns bowl ~
shy clouds shine ~
blue sky magnifies ~
art lies on bamboo ~
who needs more food porn? ~ eat the sun