Family speaks with a grief-stricken eternal voice. It never ends. It ends when I end.

The bright smile slides down, the stare of mortal tears fall from a hidden window.

I want to connect. I want the immediacy of being here now.

I want the pain of missing someone long before the pain of loss.

Remove the veil of ppropriety. We’re not saving for progeny.

Be present now, dammit. Feel the pain and joy, now.

  1. Plan to add at least 1.5 hours to prep, startup, and cook times.
  2. Invest in meat probes with a wireless system.
  3. Prepared rubs are good, but homemade rubs have more meaning.
  4. Charcoal burns differently from brand to brand. High end charcoal lumps burn hotter and longer. Don’t use lighter fluid. Get a chimney starter and use paper.
  5. Don’t be tempted to peek at the meat! If you must peek, be prepared to lose temp, especially in smaller grills. Also, don’t be tempted to fiddle with the coals or the air vents. Cheap grills are like cheap cars: quirky, need TLC, and prone to unusual swings in temp. If you know your cheap grill well, and like it, use it. I have a cheap grill and a competition grill. I use them both, sometimes at the same time.
  6. Wood smoke is flavorful. Cut your pieces ahead of time, so all you have to do is feed the fire. Cut more than you think you need. You’ll likely use all of it.
  7. Patience is a virtue, especially when smoking meat. Low and slow is the key to tender, juicy pork that tastes like heaven. Don’t pull the meat just because it’s close to the right temp. It will not be nearly as tender.
  8. Trim the butts. YouTube has tons of videos on how to do it.
  9. Good tools are a must. High temp gloves work well, but keep them dry. Wet gloves conduct heat.
  10. I use a good grill tool with the slinky end. I heat up the grill, scrub it down and then rub half an onion on the grates.
  11. Last, but not least, nothing will go according to plan. Make a backup plan.

I don’t know about this low grade depression anymore. It’s more like physical suppression of all creativity and energy.

Brain: check the mail

me: screw the mail

Brain: OK

Body: but I want to go outside and at least sit for a while

Me: are you high? It’s hotter than the devil’s crotch crickets out there, and my skin itches all the time, anyway

Body: OK

I’ve more or less stopped watching TV except for baseball. Social media is my go-to for mindless entertainment. I think so little of myself anymore that even when friends engage, I feel unworthy of their attention and hurry to brush them off. Writing even this much feels more intrusive than a pap smear and just as uncomfortable.

So, procrastination is a symptom. I have endless creative tools at my disposal, and I sit. Or sleep. I did start working on my retirement goals, and one of them is to have an extra hundred dollars a month. I started two small investment accounts that in five years, will yield about two hundred dollars a month if I continue to set aside money now. Passive income has become the mantra of the retirement world. I’ve come to embrace it myself, even though my funds are extremely limited. Anything I do creatively is just gravy-or casino- money. My soap is still here, my body butters are waiting to be made, and it comes down to willingness. Writing this down serves myself notice that I literally have my dreams at my fingertips and to just do it.

Chandler Ranch Stock Pond, Blue Ridge, TX

“You can’t stop a bird from landing on your head, but you can stop it from making a nest in your hair”

A week before payday calls for imagination in the eats department. This recipe is quick, filling, and cheap AF. AND it can be stretched further by judicious use of canned corn, green beans, and onions.

A can of Spam or Treet or store brand canned meat hunks

2 cups cooked rice or 2 cups instant mashed potatoes or cooked fideo or ramen noodles. It doesn’t really matter what the starch is as long as there’s a whole mess of it.

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped bell pepper

pinch of brown sugar

1 tbs vinegar

OK, really, the only necessary ingredients are meat, starch and sauce. Everything else is belly filler.

Dice the canned meat into small cubes. Saute in a pan over a pretty hot fire, stirring all the time. You want the sides to get crunchy but not burned. Add the onions and peppers if desired and stir like crazy. Turn down the fire when they get soft, and add the barbecue sauce. Turn off the fire and add the starch. I add the brown sugar and vinegar at the very last, right before I dip it into a bowl. Piece of bread and butter will set it right off.

I add corn and green beans when I want leftovers for lunch. They add bulk to everything without dirtying up another pan or dish.

Bonus recipe! Grate spam into a bowl, add mayo, sweet relish, tons of black pepper and a pinch of sugar. Makes a great sandwich spread.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Look Back in Anger 2010

Look forever into the western sky.

Horizon of emptiness, hollowed out soul

Nothing but a dream of getting out to the place where horizons are buildings, people, noise, hurry, excitement, HAPPINESS

Leave behind silence. Leave behind ceaseless wind. Leave behind a curve of unspoken secrets of those back there in the quiet terror

Keep close. And late at night, take out in a spasm of regret the splashes of ugly memories on those who would rather forget. In the silent aftermath of desperate longing for absolution, the spill of harsh kitchen light and tickticktick of the stupid clock that sees all and knows nothing.

It never goes away, those dark grindings of heat and cold that pass through landscapes alive with voices crying

A passing train offers golden squares of light where people are laughing and talking and pretending to be normal but nobody is really normal

Another generation of lust and dust yearns to find the horizon of freedom in the western sky

I woke up to silence this morning.

Internal silence. The quietness of mind and body that is all too rare for these older bones. Mental fog? None. Achy muscles, gone.

A mental list of things I could do formed and swirled like a throng of blackbirds wheeling effortlessly, cohesively

Tasks, ideas, plans, they wove an intricate pattern of instinctive order out of daily chaos and intransigence

What was formerly a tumbling rock slide insurmountable opened up to a path to the other side, the true resting place

I will enjoy this clarity and energy for the short time it is here, without the spectre of chronic pain that hovers, lurks and waits to once again strike

Oh, the blessed quiet

Photo by Kevin Bidwell on Pexels.com

1 large can of tuna in water, drained

1 pinch of brown sugar

1/2 yellow onion, chopped coarsely

2 tbsp olive oil, more or less

1 pkg Uncle Ben’s ready brown rice, or 2 cups of cooked rice, whichever works. If you use cooked rice, you will need to double the wet ingredients

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1/4 c. ketchup

water or chicken broth to thin the stew, but I like mine pretty dry, so there’s that

couple of dashes of hot sauce

dash of lime juice

In a pan, turn the fire to medium, add the oil and chopped onions. Stir around until you can smell the onions, but don’t let them get brown. If you do, that’s ok, but you want to release the flavor, not kill it. Til they get soft, I mean. Add the drained tuna, stir around until it’s heated. Add a pinch or two of brown sugar. It seems to bring out the freshness of the tuna without overpowering it. Now, turn down the fire to low, add the ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Sometimes, I will throw in a tablespoon of mustard if I’m feeling pungent, but it’s not necessary. Heat all that up and add the rice. Stir it up til everything has a nice reddish brown coating on it. You can add the thinner if you want, but I do like mine dry so I can roll it up in a flour tortilla or wrap. You can add cheese, but I don’t see it adding much more than filler. Now, sour cream or unflavored greek yogurt? Hell, yes. It’s done. Just a dash or two of hot sauce and some salt and pepper to taste. You want to taste everything and have the heat waiting behind the door. Not to jump out and scare you to death, but just so you know it’s there. On the plate or in the tortilla, add a squeeze of lime juice if you want. It’s quick, filling and cheap. Throw some chopped lettuce on the side of your plate or in your tortilla without any dressing, and eat it all together. Crunchy texture goes really well with the rest of it.

I like to cook. I make up all my recipes and more often than not, they are at the very least palatable. Sometimes, I miss spectacularly (gobby mac and cheese that tasted like I forgot to add-well, cheese). That said, I like simple ingredients and one pot meals, and since I am pressing 60 so hard, it’s pleated, I’ve had to cut out bad fats, most spices, salt, and mostly tomatoes. Those puppies give me vivid nightmares.

Add to this a bad back and legs that go numb after standing for five minutes, and of course, necessity is the mother of invention.

This recipe is very low sodium and about as heart-healthy as I get, given that I did use chopped sirloin.

Beef Fried Rice

1 pkg Uncle Ben’s heart healthy brown rice ready made, not heated 1 cup Great Value frozen peppers and onions 2 slabs of Great Value Philly Steak patties, frozen 2 tbls olive oil, not extra virgin, I like the “experienced oil” 1 egg or 3 tbls egg whites 1 pkg herb ox no sodium beef bullion, the one that make 8 oz of broth 3 tsp worcestershire sauce 1/2 tsp garlic powder

Heat the oil until it makes waves in the pan. Add the peppers, onions, philly steak patties and beef bullion. Make the fire hot enough to fry like hell, but not so much that it smokes. Stir and chop the meat until it is cooked, with browned edges. Add the rice and heat it up. After everything gets good and stirred up, add the garlic powder and make a hole for the egg in the middle of the pan. Once the egg starts to set, turn off the fire, start chopping the egg into the mixture. Add the worcestershire sauce and stir until everything is nicely tanned. Serve with a mess of collard greens with apple cider vinegar so you can mix it all together and let all the food likker get into everything.

Less than 200 mg sodium per serving. The delicate flavors are noticeable without the salt killing it. Oh, this makes four generous servings without someone feeling like they swallowed a beach ball.

I smelled spring in the air today and it was magnificent in all its damp, rotting mulch glory

A watery sun broke through some of the clouds and bathed all the dead grass with a brassy glow

it released more aroma of the hay fields down the road, alfalfa turning up the allergy meter to almost intolerable

but it still felt damned good and warm and my skin expanded to its normal size after some weeks of shrinking as close to my insides as possible

it was tight and it loosened with an inaudible sigh

and when it loosened up my mind loosened up right along with it

Winter pinches and squeezes a body more so after fifty, squeezes the mind and the mood and the spirit into drafty little corners of darkness

I’ve felt claustrophobic this year and it feels like a too-small overcoat that chafes my skin

Pretty kitty and Casey

I washed my sheets yesterday. I moved my bed a foot. I cooked for the first time in two months-no, three. I threw away one more useless item.

Good night’s sleep by my standards means that I woke up fewer than ten times and fell asleep again before the night clerk at Hotel Anxiety rang the bell. I had a good night’s sleep.

No clean sheets, though. They are drying now. I slept on a bare mattress, contrary to every tenet of home training I had. I did drag the covers off my absent roommate’s bed (she’s temporarily in a nursing home. I hope.) and her cat immediately found a corner of the blanket to knead and suck. That poor feral baby slept against my legs all night, her delicate ethereal weight letting me know that she exists in a sad, grieving place of confusion.

Two cups of black coffee have a sedative effect. Feral kitty and and Black kitty settle in: her at my calves, him down my back. I think they like this routine.

Lunch is leftovers. I wanted a fish sandwich. I’m lying. I wanted two fish sandwiches. The echoes of depression voices channeled by my mother, filtered by my guilt, amplified by my depression keep me at home, in slippers, the clothes I’ve slept in for four days, and well, shit, it’s Monday.

Tomorrow might be better. I might be able to slog through the mud and fog again. Today, today continues.