Full and happy

Los Angeleno by birth, Northwesterner by choice, Second-hander by nature. Librarian, housebound chef, father, and lowly subject ruled over by the needs and whims of a very old house.
Partial to Mexican, Italian and Vietnamese cookery but will eat damn near anything. Collector of many strange things..the result is chaos and anarchy and a very pleasant place to live.
There is pleasure in accumulation, not just "collecting": music, books and film, in all their multi-formated glory. Outsider artists and those kinds of prints you would recognize if you took liberal studies classes in college. Cooking implements and gadgets for recipes still untried or those ventured. Glasses for most types of libations. Flowers in the garden, herbs in the pot.
It's a life of the senses and a good home life reflects that. Walking helps take in all the rest. Requires no special equipment, opens up the pores, brightens the taste buds, clears the decks for further adventures, puts on the miles, widens the eyes and helps fuel the imagination.

Live boldly, play graciously and love with all your heart knowing that true love comes only once or twice in this lifetime. Speaking of which..donde estas, Empress of my Heart?


"Lack imagination and miss the better story" Yann Martel

"Life is a great adventure and I want to say to you, accept it in such spirit. I want to see you face it ready to do the best that lies in you to win out. To go down without complaining and abiding by the result....the worst of all fears is the fear of living." Theodore Roosevelt, Jr.

"Not I - not anyone else, can travel that road for you
You must travel it for yourself" Walt Whitman

And above all, friends should possess the rare gift of sitting. They should be able, no, eager, to sit for hours-three, four, six-over a meal of soup and wine and cheese, as well as one of twenty fabulous courses.

Then, with good friends of such attributes, and good food on the board, and good wine in the pitcher, we may well ask,

When shall we live if not now?

-From Serve it Forth,
M.F.K. Fisher

Friday, October 2, 2009

Giving and receiving

For years I was the United Way coordinator at work and loved what it did for the community. We gave from the heart and those gifts found their way deep into the heart of the community. I always strived to impress on folks the importance of giving generously to our annual campaign challenge even though we couldn't see where our monies went. Face it, those monies landed in places we didn't necessarily want to go anyway. Our donations helped folks so far away and removed from out daily existence that we either didn't want to see it or when we did, we tened to turn a blind eye to those problems. That was okay, that's why the money went out and went into the hands of people who were there, there on the ground, taking care of folks that we couldn't. Those agencies, those folks working with the great unwashed, yeah, their eyes were wide open, and the hands of people we were helping with our United Way donations were wide open, too. Everyone made out, well, as best they could under the circumstances.

Another thing we excelled in was food drives. Once or twice a year we had those big blue buckets in our lobbies to gather up non-perisables for the local food banks. In South Kitsap those cans and packages of this and that went to our local Helpline. Those Helpline folks see people these days that they probably never expected to see. Not only laborers and non-skilled and migrant workers but professionals, degreed people with no immediate prospects other than needing to pay the bills and put groceries on the table.

I always felt that it was important to give, to get that good karma out there, to put money and time and effort into the cause of taking care of people who are down and out, because, baby, you just never know you when you might be down and out, too. You just don't.

I put in an application to volunteer at Helpline the other day. For years I worked with various gleaner organizations in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties and know how to handle food distribution to the hungry. One great thing about those Gleaner groups is that if you work you get to bring home produce and bread and such for your table. I like to know that I am working for my supper, or breakfast, whatever. I never felt that getting was gratus. We worked hard for our stipend, even though we knew the best and the bulk of our work went out to the community. Everyone gained, everyone was happy, least ways, they were as happy as they could be under the circumstances.

My circumstances aren't as dire as they could be. I have a bit of money in the bank, my in-laws are generous to a fault with The Estranged One and my kids, and hopefully soon I will be seeing a return on my investment coming back to me from the state. But still, for a few weeks there I was running short, shorter than I have in my whole adult life. I was wondering if I would be signing up for the services that Helpline provides. I must admit, and for those of you who know me and have eaten well in my home, taking food without working for it, without paying for it, is a real bit of humbleness. I take advantage of their day old bread. I have taken home vegetables and fruit delivered by home gardeners. I have watched folks come and go, talked with volunteers and coordinators and folks on the dole, and know that no matter what, when this is all over, I will empty out my larder and pass it along to those who have helped me when the chips were down.

We have to always remember that you just never know when the world will pull that rug out from under your feet. Me? Well, I should have seen it coming. I loved out of turn and that was that. But still. Like with earthquake preparedness, set aside a bit of good karma for another day and give to the United Way and be sure, when you can, give generously to your local foodbank. You never know when it'll be your turn to have a hand out.


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