Thursday, February 28, 2008

What am I missing?

Terroir: It’s my word of the day. I’ll forgive it for being French. It means “how something conjures up the landscape.”

The word applies to such things as fine cheeses, wines, etc.

When I open up the little jar of Hungarian paprika that I keep in my fridge, I experience that sensation, I remember the hot summer sun beating down upon me in that gorgeous place, the bustle of Budapest and the stillness of its vast, pastoral countryside.

I can indulge this sense like any foodie in the realms of cheese, chocolate, heirloom vegetables and hot sauce. But there is one world that I have never entered, and that sometimes I wonder about: the land of libations.

My family has a history of alcoholism. So we don’t drink. On the plus side, I don’t have to worry about DUIs or doing stupid things that I will regret in the morning. But still – I have lived all my years without any idea what champagne tastes like and without the “terroir” of an English ale, a French merlot, a Southern mint julep or even a sip of Tennessee whiskey.

And sometimes I wonder. I spent such a happy time in Hungary but never sampled its legendary bikaver (bull’s blood) wine or the herbed bitter Unikum, the Magyar national drink. I did see plenty of people who did indulge a little much – and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

Closer to home, mead – honey wine – is making a comeback, according to an article I read recently. Hmm. Guess I’ll miss that fad.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

You light up my day

The aforementioned award from Lyn is entitled "You light up my day."

I pass this award on to Kat ( and to Ela ( Kat's blog is a delightful collection of art, nature photography and other fun things, and She is as sweet a person as one could ever meet, never failing to send a friend an e-card just when they need it. I will always treasure one that She put together Herself around Christmastime, of certain household things gathered together, that She knew would make me smile.

Ela is another person who always has an encouraging word for a friend, and whose artwork on Her blog is mysterious, enigmatic, compelling and often other-worldly. She's one who still visits my blog even when I have missed a few days of visiting Hers.

A happy evening

I called Sweetie on the way home last night. Told Her that I needed to stop by the grocery for some butter and salad dressing. Having been cooped up in the house all day, She seized the chance for some fresh air and asked me to come home first and to bring Her along, even though it had been drizzling and was a wet, cold day.

My mental wheels began to turn. My Sweetie deserves more than a jaunt to the grocery store, even if it is just a Tuesday night. So I came home, loaded Her into the car and we drove. She was talking on the cell phone to someone, so She didn't notice at first that we had entered the freeway.

Then She looked up and began to protest. We don't have the money to do whatever you're planning. Etc., etc.

I drove on. Took Her to Her favorite restaurant, Cracker Barrel. Enjoyed a wonderful hour talking with Her without phones or tv to distract. Then we wandered the country store part of the restaurant and She saw some cutesy things that She liked and fretted that we didn't any money to buy them right now.

She looked at me finally with those beautiful brown eyes of Hers. "Can we take a little out of savings?"

Of course we could.

I had a wonderful time with my best friend last night, I truly did. I am a happy man.


I am a terrible blogger. I have learned the hard way to stop making blog promises. I get asked to do memes and then somehow never follow through. I've even been given a few awards here and there, that I have utterly failed to mention or even for which I have not properly thanked the giver. And I do not visit my blog friends or answer responses nearly enough.

Lyn ( gave Isis an award last week that I just noticed today. I absolute adore Her blog and all that it stands for and I have got to make a habit of going there daily, as it uplifts me everytime. I encourage all my readers, male and Female, to visit Her site and visit it often.

Here is Her header: "IT'S A WOMAN'S WORLD
Women are the backbone of the world! We carry the weight of the world on our perfectly sculpted shoulders, we carry the waters of birth, we carry on the family tradition, plus, we are gorgeous, sexy, sassy, and may be domesticated, or NOT!!!! Many men have reminded me that it IS a man's world, and, that is fine... I was not being literal when I named this blog, when I designed this blog, I was thinking that within this blog, lies a woman's world..."

The only quibble that I have with that header is that Lyn should not be letting any man tell Her "it's a man's world." Then again, with the current state of the world, thanks mostly to poor male leadership and decision-making, perhaps Women should wonder why men would be so proud to claim the world and so quick to make such a statement.

Another interesting thought. Twice now, people who are unfamiliar with me have read my blog or my comments elsewhere and mistaken me for a Lady. I am a guy, definitely a guy, very much a guy and happy to be the gender that I am. But I will say, and I mean it, that the intelligence, the strength, the incredible qualities of Womankind are such that I certainly don't take those assumptions as an insult but rather as an honor. However, it is an honor which I cannot claim. (o:

Do not be so surprised that a guy, a rather ordinary guy, could believe so strongly in the worth and the beauty of Women. There are more of us enjoying this enlightenment, than one might at first believe.

Our code is simple: The Women in our lives will be treated with absolute respect, adoration and devotion, cherished, indulged, uplifted and celebrated on every possible occassion. Publicly, we will acknowledge that Woman is in every respect equal to man and support every law, measure and movement that works towards that goal. Privately -- and when it is appropriate, publicly -- we know that the truth is, Woman is not just equal, She is superior to man in every respect, a Goddess to whom we render quiet worship in our souls and hearts.

We will never insult, degrade or put down a Woman. In the workplace, we will never stand in the way of Her advancement or support any glass ceiling. We will celebrate Her strength, not fear or denigrate it.

We will extend this joyous enlightenment to EVERY Woman, regardless of age, background, education or appearance.

We know that something magical and wonderful, beyond explanation, happens to a human when the conceived particle of life takes on the xx chromosome pattern, We of the xy persuasion daily count our blessings that at least half the population is thusly blessed and we cherish our every interaction with said persons.

Some men call us "whipped." I am utterly unconcerned about that. My enlightenment brings me nothing but joy.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Intern arrives

All my misgivings have died and gone to misgiving heaven.

The young Lady who will intern in my office over the next few weeks is competent, articulate and very ready to get to work.

It feels good to know that I will be able to help Her move forward in Her career path, as someone once did for me. I appreciated that and now it's my turn to reciprocate. Now, if I can just learn to pronounce Her name: Starts with "l" but doesn't look like it sounds.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Nature vs. nurture reconsidered

I listened to a blurb on National Public Radio the other day, in which a reporter visited a traditionally Catholic Ohio neighborhood and asked its residents about their voting intentions for the US presidency.

It got me thinking. True, it is sometimes a mistake and even can lead to terrible evils, to stereotype an entire religious culture as thinking or acting in one predictable way. But there are some patterns that do emerge and it makes me wonder: do people tend to develop their political outlook because of their religious backgrounds or do people tend to adopt a religion because it fits more comfortably with their inner political/cultural feelings?

And then what happens if they convert to another faith? If a lapsed Catholic becomes a fiery Evangelical, do their probable laissez faire politics get born again as well? Out West, for example, Mormons are known as a very conservative group, reliably Republican, pro-life, etc. Yet the current Senate Democratic leader, Harry Reid, who does not fit that bill at all, is a Mormon -- although an adult convert to the faith.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I am unpleasantly speckled tonight -- a rather common side effect, I have discovered, of this amoxycillin antibiotic that I've been on all week. I feel, and look, as if I fell asleep naked in a meadow full of mosquitoes.

I said yes to the internship today. I have seriously mixed feelings about it. People come and go all day to my little office, tis true, but they don't stay. They don't work beside me and they certainly don't wait expectantly for me to give them work to do.

I hope this all works out. And I am never going to take that damned amoxycillin again -- I am scritching like a backwoods hound-dog tonight.

Friday, February 15, 2008


For obvious reasons, I haven't been into The Woodland that borders my home for several days. This evening, I finally felt well enough to take a few steps inside and check a very special place.

There, beneath a great oak tree, several years ago, I planted a native spring wildflower, bloodroot. While winter's chill still rules the land, this fragile but determined flower lifts its pale crown above the dry leaves, for but a few days, until the wind strips its petals away.

The flower has not yet emerged this year, but the tight green spear of its solitary leaf bud has just risen from the earth -- and what is this, a second spear rises close by it this time. So the little beauty has begun to multiply.

Freaky Friday

I wore tennis shoes to work today.

My worn-out, dirt-stained tennis shoes.

They don't go well with my slacks and tie.

My office does not celebrate Casual Friday, by the way.

I cannot explain why I did this. But by the time I realized my mistake, I was of course 30 minutes drive from home and could do absolutely nothing about it.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


I'm still in a medicated fog of sorts, drifting to the end of this stubborn storm of blahness that has beleagured me for nearly two weeks...

Yesterday, I received an email from a college senior asking for permission to intern in my office. I've never gotten such a request before.

It seems a mixed bag of possibilities. On the one hand, I am so swamped in this place, I could desperately use the assistance of someone else to do some of the research and creation of news releases and such. On the other hand, I am so swamped in this place that I know I don't have time, worst case scenario, to babysit; best case scenario, to try to explain my organizational system and modus operandi. The work I do goes directly to the public and therefore has to be as damn near perfect as possible.

I'm not the kind of jerk that would make this kid run the photocopier either. If She is going to intern here, She is going to be provided with useful experiences.

I am remembering now my college internship days, helping out on the staff of a suburban magazine. I was so green, so naive, it makes me cringe. The work I knew how to do. The problem was, no college course that I know of teaches a young person about office politics and how to deal with them. And where I went fairly screamed with office politics. I had no clue. I struggled. I tried to stay above the fray but in the end, I was lucky to get out of there with my internship credit intact.

This intern won't have to go through all that.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Odd web discovery of the day

Apparently, a group of people in Japan believe that Jesus Christ not only visited Japan during his life, but that he was also married, died and was buried there, in a location prominently marked and visitable today.

Where I've been

To my regular readers:

I apologize for not having updated this blog in several days. I've been knocked flat since last weekend by the worst sinus infection of my life. I won't go into the icky details. I'm just glad to be almost over it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Lunch Buddy News

Good news:

My lunch buddy's Guidance Counselor finally got hold of his Mother and She has agreed to have me spend one day a week after school, at the school, working with him on homework and such.

So now I won't be taking him away from his art and music classes anymore, nor will we have to deal with the restrictions implicit in a classroom setting. I mean, if we want to just play Scrabble or basketball one week, fine. No having to whisper or deal with other kids.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A most amazing excerpt

In the aforementioned "Folklore of Plants" is found this excerpt that I want to remember long after I have returned, sorrowfully, this old book to the library. I am tempted to tell them that, umm, I lost it and pay the penalty.

"Speaking of the Victoria Gardens in Bombay, [Dr. George Birwood] says: A true Persian in flowing robes of blue, and on his head his sheep-skin hat -- black, glossy, curled, the fleece of Kara-Kal [sic] -- would saunter in, and stand and meditate over every flower he saw, and always as if half in vision. And when this vision was fulfilled and the ideal flower he was seeking found, he would spread his mat and sit before it until the setting of the sun, and then pray before it, and fold his mat again and go home.

"And the next night, and night after night, until that particular flower faded away, he would return to it, and bring his friends in ever-increasing troops to it, and sit and play the guitar or lute before it, and they would all together pray there, and after prayer still sit before it sipping sherbet, and talking the most hilarious and shocking scandal, late into the moonlight; and so again and again every evening until the flower died.

"Sometimes, by way of a grand finale, the whole company would suddenly rise before the flower and serenade it, together with an ode from Hafiz, and depart."

I hope that it does not detract from the stirring beauty of this story to point out that a "true Persian" would be an Iranian today. Perhaps this is a side of that ancient people that is largely unknown in the West.

Pondering ashes

The oak I know, the beech I know, the fragrant, resinous pine I know.

The maple, the sycamore, the walnut, the hickory -- I have pictures in my mind as I write each of these words.

But I do not know the ash.

Here in the US, they make baseball bats from it and kids in bygone days loved to hang their tree swings from its sturdy but flexible branches.

In Europe, this member of the olive family -- another tree venerated since the dawn of man -- was long held to be that plant from which the first man sprung, the Yggdrasil or tree of life. The belief was held from Scandinavia to Greece.

What I don't know is why this tree? It produces no nourishing fruit like its sibling the olive or the familiar favorites in the rose family, not even an acorn like the oak. It produces no sweet sap like the maple, no useful tannins, no bark from which to make books. It has not the shimmering display of an aspen nor the gravitas of a beech.

Even I, who love trees and try to know them, cannot recall in all my life ever seeing one except in the pages of a book, though surely I have.

Why in English do we even call it an ash tree? What's the etymology?

The Hottie and the Nottie

I've just seen a preview for some new movie based on the premise that a guy has to find a date for an ugly Girl so that he can pursue a pretty one.

Ugliness is apparently defined in this movie as bad teeth, bad nails and a birthmark. Those are all things that can be remedied relatively easily. I don't know yet, having only seen one preview, whether the plot has the guy learning to see past these attributes and/or whether She gains a boost in confidence and fixes them.

But it is ironic that the "pretty" Girl is Ms. Paris Hilton, whose less than endearing personal habits and personality, are well-known. Dare I say, pretty is as pretty does?

Reason # 765,876,543,999,876

Reason #765,876,543,999,876 why I love my Sweetie: She never forgets to relay phone messages to me.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Isis

Tomorrow marks one year since I began this blog. I'm jumping the gun by one day to celebrate it because I'm liable to forget the special day if I don't write while it's on my mind.

Adena inspired it, beautiful, brilliant, irreverent, sassy, delightful, profane Adena. I found Her blog in a casual websearch for some topic that I have now long forgotten. I found Her comments fascinating and the best way, of course, to answer them, was to create a blog of my own.

I have met so many intelligent, creative people in the year since my first little post. Some have commented once or twice and slipped away. Others have become close friends.

I thank each and everyone who has visited Isis, especially those who have shared their comments.

I will keep this blog going for possibly forever or at least the next fifty years, unless all the hydrogenated oils and greasy meat that I enjoyed in my youth catch up to me before that time.

Why the title? In my study of the world, I have lingered long in Egyptology. I especially found fascinating the mysterious role ascribed to the Goddess Isis in the development of civilization.

She is largely forgotten today, obscured in the study of mythology by loud-mouth boy buffoons like Odin and Zeus.

Thus She symbolizes what has happened to Women in the course of mortal history.

I am a firm believer in the greatness of Womankind, in Her intelligence, in Her universal beauty. My passion in life is to do what I can to help restore Her to Her proper role -- which is to speak freely, to live freely, to lift up Her lovely head in confidence.

Isis is the Goddess in every Woman, deserving to shine forth in Her full glory.

Strange dream

I had a short but odd dream last night. Funny rather than the usual horror scenario that my brain cooks up.

I was entering Costco (a big wholesale discount store) when a large Woman passed me in a great hurry. She had discovered that they were serving Italian sausage samples.

"I love sausage!" She yelled.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Two joys

I made some pretty good little "pies" for the family Super Bowl party yesterday. Crust: shredded potato, onion, egg, flour, butter. Filling: chopped ham, onion, green pepper, chili powder, tomato, celery.

Then discovered my little Niece-in-law crying in the living room over some unhappy turn of events. We sat and quietly talked and I rubbed Her tiny bare feet until Her frown vanished and She began to nod off to sleep.

The Giants won. Hooray for them.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

I call a friend Maria

I've been a better blogger this week. I visited almost everyone on my list at least once. Scarlett and Ian, I will wander over soon!

So I am going to reward myself with a new addition to the list, a warm and witty Lady named Maria.

She's a non-traditional Mom who writes with a comedienne's flair about rude people, great people and life in general. She finds food tempting, zippers annoying and reading therapeutic.

I found Her through Rebecca's blog, BTW. Thank You, Rebecca, You are great.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

My day

Four things, of varying importance, happened to me today.

1)I drove eighty miles (round trip) to attend a birthday party for a three year old. My brother-in-law's son.

2) I got a summons to jury duty, my first. Or rather, I have to call in with my number for the next three weeks and see if I get the joy of serving. My only experience with jury duty is watching Fred Flintstone get menaced by the Mangler. (Remember that episode?)

3. I finally chopped my way through the old black walnut log that came down on the backyard fence in our last hurricane. Now I can finally clean up the mess of honeysuckle and brambles that has taken over that corner of the yard. As I was yanking up those invasive vines and discovering to my sorrow that equally invasive English ivy is among them, I had a thought: Nature always wins. Anti-environmentalists like to tell us the earth will survive whatever man throws at it. That fact is probably true. But just WHAT part of nature will survive? Not the exquisite, the awe-inspiring, the delicate. Rather, such nasties as poison ivy, Norway rats, tree of heaven, pond scum and cockroaches. Is that the world we want for our children?

4. I learned the significance of the ash tree in ancient European mythology. And I read an amazing account, so interesting that I'm going to give it its own post.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Weird discovery of the day

In my local library recently, I stumbled upon a book published in 1889, by T.F. Thiselton-Dyer, called "The Folklore of Plants."

As if I don't have enough to read already.

After Sweetie and I watched a Walton's episode together tonight, I browsed through the book, which begins with an exposition of ancient religious beliefs regarding plants.

In Vienna, Austria, preserved behind glass, there stands a very, very old stump. Thiselton connects it to the ancient trees that Europeans once held sacred or even worshipped. This specimen, it seems, would receive a nail from each journeyman of the city setting out to make his way in the world.

If that poor tree could speak, it might have asked for less violent veneration.

Locally, it is called: Stock im Eisen, or The Nail Studded Stump.

A website which I browsed to glean more information, stays strictly secular:

"This memorial, at the corner of Kaernter street allegedly marks the spot where the forest which once surrounded the medieval city of Vienna came to an end. Attempts to analyse the roots of this single remaining tree show that it has a spruce weighing 75 kilos which must have been felled around 1440. A wider ring of iron encircles the base of the tree and in it there are a handful of old fashioned nails. This 'tree in iron' was first mentioned in the documentation of the area in 1533."

On to Albania

I did a lousy, lousy job with my geography project in January. I didn't upload a single recipe or make contact with any Afghan bloggers. I did learn how to say hello in Pashtu, asalaam alaikim. Which is, of course, an Arabic borrowing and I already knew that phrase.

Nonetheless, it is now February and I will move on, on to the next country, and try to do better.

So, on to Albania.