Tomato Salad It Is Then

It's tomato time at my CSA and I now have a pantload of them in my fridge. I will make short work of them tonight, by way of a large tomato salad. I will cut them all up, along with a CSA onion, and season it with a homemade pomegranate/acai/garlic vinaigrette dressing and some parmesan cheese on top. There is nothing better than an organic CSA tomato. Once you have tasted one, it is hard to buy store bought tomatoes anymore.

I got a box of peaches from the CSA today too. They are a bit unripe but in a few days it will be nothing but peaches...peaches for me.

Conversely, I could chop them up and marinate them in red wine. But that seems frivolous.

I Ate a Watermelon By Myself in Two Days

I ate a medium sized watermelon all by myself over the course of two days. I ate half of it each day. It was full of seeds but it was good. I had had it for a while. I got it from my CSA but hesitated to eat it because I live alone and had no one to share it with. That sounds sad but it isn't. It is just the reality of the situation. I guess I could have invited some friends over.

"Hey...who wants to come over and help me eat a watermelon?" I would have likely coupled it with grilling meat and meat by-products on my patio grill and then made something of a celebration of the melon sacrifice. But meat filled bellies would not have been as empty for the task of making watermelon disappear. However, there were no additional bellies to fill. Not for meat. Not for watermelon. That line of reasoning is neither here nor there. There was only me.

I didn't want to waste it but it wasn't going to keep forever. Because I waited so long, the watermelon was deliciously ripe. I had to eat it slowly because of the seeds. I spit them into the large bowl that contained the light syrupy drippings of the melon half. It was an exercise in discipline and patience. I savored it and because the fruity flesh was mostly water, I was able to maintain a steady pace of consumption.

Watermelon is rich in flavonoids. The mainstream media calls these antioxidants, but that is a misnomer based on an erroneous theory used to explain the health benefits of fruits and vegetables. Oxidation is a healthy and natural part of human biochemistry, complemented by the equal and opposite process of reduction. Oxidation and reduction are in balance in a healthy system. An unhealthy system can have too much oxidation. But it can also have too much reduction. Fruits and vegetables do not prevent oxidation. Rather, they help to maintain the body's natural healthy balance between oxidation and reduction. They are like biological buffers, stabilizing the proper biochemistry for health. This biochemistry evolved over millions of years in our human ancestors who were in harmony with nature. Their diet shaped their biochemistry, which in turn adapted to available foods foraged from nature. These were - you guessed it - fruits and vegetables (as well as lean meats and nuts). That is why humans thrive on these "healthy" foods. They are healthy simply because they are most compatible with our genetics, sculpted slowly over the eons by our ancient ancestors. Healthy foods didn't just appear in grocery stores one day. They were always here. But humans began to eat unnatural processed and devitalized foods manufactured industrially and sometimes synthetically. Our genes don't recognize these modern foods and we metabolize them poorly, generating toxic breakdown products that weaken our biochemical balance system and sicken us over time. So we call foods that are closer to nature "healthy" and those that are not "junk food."

I put the rinds in my compost heap. Perhaps the raccoons and possums will have a go at them. Their genetics are predisposed to a foraged omnivory as well. Maybe the organic seeds will work their way into the richness of the soil and germinate in spring. Perhaps my compost heap will metamorphose into a watermelon patch, robust and fertile from the accumulated dregs and drippings of my kitchen waste.

That would be something.

Morning Run

When the clock radio sounded, it tore Chet brutally from a deep slumber and he was momentarily disoriented.

The clock showed 6:01 AM, a full hour before Chet was used to getting up. It took him a moment to remember why he had set it so early.

Good lord, Chet mumbled as he felt for the snooze button on the clock radio to silence the NPR news broadcast, loud even through the earplugs he wore at night. He didn’t fall back asleep, but slowly rolled out of the bed and shuffled down the hallway to the bathroom.

When he returned to the bedroom from relieving himself, he leaned down and gave his Boston terrier, Oscar, a quick rub on the belly. Oscar was balled up on his dog bed and didn’t budge in response to his master’s affection.

“I know…it’s too early,” Chet told Oscar. Chet pulled the earplugs from his ears and set them on the bedside table, then turned the volume knob on the clock radio down and laid back down on his bed for a few minutes, until the alarm went off again, much quieter this time.

He got up and pulled on the shorts that lay crumpled on the bedroom floor. He slid his feet into his slippers and pulled on the red hoodie that also lay on the floor, defense against the chill of the room.

As he walked down the hall, Chet saw his other dog, a lab mix named Brody, sprawled across the floor at the opening to the kitchen. Chet nudged Brody, who was old and completely deaf, with his foot to wake him.

Chet opened the fridge and pulled out the carafe of yesterday’s cold coffee, filling a large mug and putting it in the microwave to heat for a few minutes. He stepped into the living room and turned up the heat on the thermostat to 68. The ambient temperature read 64 on the LED screen.

The dogs watched Chet attentively has he pulled the Tupperware bin of dog food from the cupboard below and to the right of the sink. He put their food bowls on the counter and used the measuring cup to fill each of them with the usual amount of food – one and a half cups for Brody and three quarters of a cup for Oscar.

Into Brody’s food, Chet broke open a capsule of a glucosamine/chondroitin, and then placed a second capsule on the counter.

He used the sink sprayer to moisten the dog food and set the bowls down so the dogs could eat while Chet waited for the coffee to heat. Brody, as usual, started wolfing his food down as fast as he could. Oscar teased at his food delicately, seeming to assess the quality of each piece of food before crunching it up and swallowing it.

The microwave chimed to tell Chet the coffee was ready. He grabbed a handful of ice cubes from the freezer and put them into the hot black liquid, following that with some almond milk from the fridge “to take the edge off,” as he called it.

Chet opened another cupboard and took out two bottles, one of aspirin, the other of acetaminophen. He tapped two tablets from each bottle into the palm of his hand and used the coffee to wash them down, along with the glucosamine/chondroitin capsule he had set out earlier.

When the dogs had finished eating, Chet pulled open the sliding door and let them out into the fenced backyard by way of the patio.

“Wait, Oscar!” Chet commanded, directing the smaller dog to postpone urinating until he had reached the birch tree in the middle of the yard. Without guidance, Oscar tended to pee on the air conditioning unit next to the patio and Chet wanted to discourage that. Brody naturally preferred to wait until he was far from the patio to pee, but had a tendency to pee on his own front paws. When both dogs had peed and pooped, Chet called them back inside, using hand signals for deaf Brody.

“OK, guys,” Chet said. “I will see you in a bit.”

Chet opened the door to the garage, stepped through and pulled it shut behind him before pressing the garage door opener. He activated the home security system using the FOB on his keychain. He heard it chime and begin the 60 second countdown. Oscar began to bark because he had become conditioned to the sound of the chime and understood it meant someone was coming or going.

Chet climbed into his 2001 Prius and backed it out of the garage. In the driveway, he pressed the button on the remote control on the visor to close the garage door, then drove the mile or so to his friend’s house for their morning run.

Kiss Me, I'm the DD

I started a community service organization called "Kiss Me, I'm the DD."

Basically it involves giving people free rides home if they have had too much to drink, subject to my availability.

When I go out to party and have a good time, I don't drink if I am driving. It seems foolish to waste that circumstance when it could be harnessed to help other people out.

It's not a money making venture. In fact, I will probably spend money on it in gas and extra miles. But it has a lot of value to me and those who benefit from it.

The immediate benefit to others is relatively safe passage home without hassles. The long term benefit to me is meeting new people and making new friends.

The way it works is that when I am out with people, I hand out these square business cards I had made that say KISS ME, I'M THE DESIGNATED DRIVER on the front (side note...I am going to have t-shirts made with this on the front that ought to earn me oodles of game out at the bars) and have my title (Designated Driver), my smart phone number, and my FB messenger contact info on the back, along with a tagline that I will change up periodically (currently says, "Why risk it?").

I will only hand them out to people I choose and they will only be good for that night, for obvious logistical reasons.

It is NOT a free taxi service. It is a selective thing. I know that. I can't save the world and I don't want to. But I do want to help out friends and people I like.

This idea was partly born of public safety concerns and partly of my disdain for the draconian methods by which cops deter drunk driving (mainly fines and arrests, rather than prevention and transportation infrastructure).

I will probably limit it to friends around Madison WI and college kids in Oshkosh, where I often go to socialize, at first. The Oshkosh police will no doubt appreciate having their DUI paperwork reduced.

Time for Changes

It's time for changes.

The old formulas aren't working.

I want to abandon them and go in a different direction.

It's hard to break the mold. Molds are tough. Solid.

But they must be broken to make progress.

Stretching

Biff could feel the tendon in his left hip tightening up as the day went on. Sitting at a desk was not how he liked to spend his day.

He opened Outlook on his work computer and scheduled an hour in the building’s Comfort Room for 3 PM on his calendar, about 30 minutes hence.

He would have scheduled it for right now, except someone else had it blocked off for “pumping,” which Biff assumed was breast milk pumping, although he didn't know for sure, but what else would you be "pumping" in a locked private room?

Why can’t they mark these entries as private? Biff thought to himself.

He closed the Outlook Calendar and reached for his bike water bottle on the shelf above his desk, next to his saddle bag that contained his bike clothes for the commute home later.

He removed the red top of the bottle and drained all the water in several large gulps, without taking a breath. He pressed CTRL-ALT-DELETE on his computer keyboard, locking the monitor screen, and then arose from his desk chair and took a walk around the second floor of the building, where his cubicle was located.

My Friend Wrote a Book

My friend Elizabeth wrote a book called “Butterfly Valley.”

I have not read it, but perhaps I should. It sounds like a tale of adventure, love, and travel. I dig most of those things.

Reading the books of people I know is like seeing the bands of local musicians I know.

It is closer to home and thus I am more connected to it. It seems more intimate that way.

Elizabeth also has another book called "The Wish-Granting Jewel." Sounds intriguing.

I also need to get cracking on my own book. That must happen soon.

The Day's Stressors and the World's Douchebags

I am up at the cabin, reclining in an easy chair at the so-called "buttcrack of dawn."

No one else is awake yet and it is so peaceful. My mind is an empty cup, tranquil.

The wind and rain from last night's storms has gone. The lake looks placid and still through the cabin window's, cracked slightly open during the night to let in the cooling breeze from the storms while precluding the raindrops.

Even the creatures of the forest outside the cabin are taking it easy. It's remarkably still and quiet out there. I hear the occasional screech of the bald eagles that nest in the dead trees out on "the point."

This is a rare and transient place for my mind to be. Soon the day's stressors will begin to roll in like mist, slowly clouding this current clarity of vision.

Later, I will enter the broader world outside the peaceful safe haven of the cabin. Out there will be douchebags. But even as they annoy me and shatter my Zen, I will smile inwardly knowing that the cabin in the woods at dawn will always be an unsullied and safe place, immune to stressors and isolated from d-bags.