Ann Romney–what you missed at your Rich Bitch Intervention

Dear Ann Romney,

First, I apologize for not filing this report sooner. I’ve been quite self-absorbed with selling my house, packing, and getting rid of far too many possessions in preparation for our big move. Since we don’t have “people” to accomplish these tasks, I’m afraid letters like these get left undone.

Ann, on July 22, 2012, I extended to you a formal invitation to this year’s *TLC Rendezvous, which had you accepted, would have been dubbed the Rich Bitch Intervention of 2012. Prompted by your blue-blood blunder “you people”, I thought it in your best interest to spend some time with real women in a place fairly scant of your husband’s ilk. Or as Norman Maclean put it, “The world is full of bastards, the number increasing rapidly the further one gets from Missoula, Montana.” Unfortunately, you did not RSVP and traveled instead to London and Israel for a foreign fundraiser. And what bastards you surrounded yourself at that fundraiser! (Sheldon Adelson, whose ass cheeks are still tattooed with Newt Gingrich’s lip prints…gag me with a superfund check. But we’ll get to that in a bit.) I thought I’d report on what you missed. Moreover, this follow-up should clarify the types of activities you would encounter should you reconsider next year once the campaign is over and your defeated husband is off sunning his assets in the Caymans. I trust this description will pique your interest in future rendezvous.

Had you traveled with me to the Big Sky, you’d have hauled your prissy pooter out of bed early to catch a 5:20 ferry and hit the long stretch from Seattle to Missoula. It’s a drive I’ve done probably a hundred times in my life, so you’d have ridden with an expert. I was crabby as hell that morning, some might even characterize my mood as uber-bitchy. In my defense, it seems the night before traveling anywhere I’m always rushing. And, Ann, having no bowed-headed minions tailing me to attend my every whim, like many “you people” women, I tend to punctuate the packing excitement of any trip with a few “shits” and “fucks.” I’m no longer a low-maintenance traveler.

(“Okay, scarves and leather purses I’m taking to Taryn and Lucille are packed. Shorts, shirts, underwear…medications, shit. I don’t have one of my emergency migraine medications. Fuck. I forgot to go back to the pharmacy today to see if it got renewed! What if I get a migraine when I’m there?”)

And even though my husband and daughter had puzzle-pieced nicely into the truck my daughter’s college provisions and my mom’s bedroom set to be kept at Taryn’s house, I didn’t get to bed early enough to rise with a human personality. So had you been with me that morning, Ann, you’d have spent about fifteen frantic minutes racing for the ferry with a coffeeless Honey Badger/Ann Coulter spawn. Once I made the ferry and felt the Zen come-hither draw of Missoula, that nasty bitch left my body. A good play list, a cup of Starbucks, and Mary fucking Poppins was back and heading for her beloved Zoo Town.

Now, Ann, I realize you don’t have those moments. That serene political-wife smile you’ve got permanently pasted on your face has to be the result of Botox injections juiced up with some Wellbutrin, a few horse painkillers, and Metamucil chasers. I’m thinking your supplier is no doubt a Beverly LaHaye acolyte in Concerned Women for America. Whooo howdie! Those girls sure know how to throw a party. And don’t they just give out the best goodies in their convention swag bags? Who wouldn’t look like a Fox news anchor on nitrous?

Of course, at the TLC Rendezvous, we partied a bit as well. Oh, sure. Not like we once did. But I can still make a blender purr with just the right eye-balled blend of tequila, limeade, triple sec, ice, and lime. And to try to describe the guacamole that Lucille made this year with mere words would be like trying to describe the best sex you’ve ever had without using verbs, adjectives, or your hands. (Well, perhaps in your case it’s possible…sorry, I just don’t envision Mittens as a wild man.)

Ann, you’re probably thinking “But what do you talk about at the TLC? What do you do?” Well, here are some conversation snippets. While lacking context these samples should apprise you of the level of discourse expected of TLC participants.

 “The kids have been great about bringing me bags of peas for my breasts.”

“They (the breasts) look great.”

“Yeah, they’re so high up.”

“Gravity…isn’t there some anti-gravity pill out there yet?”

“But I’m not out of the woods. Speaking of the woods…a friend of mine introduced me to a woman who wrote a book about shitting in the woods.”

“There’s a niche market.”

“She needs a model for a blog article she’s writing. So tomorrow we’re going to go meet her and take pictures. No bare ass or anything…”

Finally, a modeling career! I always knew you’d eventually get discovered!”

(Howling laughter)

“Oh this I wouldn’t miss.”

“So she’s going to photograph you in crap mode?”

“No, no, it will all be very discrete and tasteful.”

“Well, obviously.” (More howls.)

 “It’s my legs mostly.”

“What a waste. You just got new boobs.”

                                  **Another example**

“So have either of you read 50 Shades of Grey?”

“I heard it was shitty writing, so I proudly refused to read it.”

“It is shitting writing. Really shitting writing. (pause) I’m on the second book.” (laughter)

“I’m in the middle of the first book. Phew. I’m getting hot just thinking about it.”

“And I thought I was being so good not reading it because it was bad writing.”

“Yeah, and you’re the slut puppy of the crowd.”

“So I need to download it?”

“Yeah, that way nobody knows what you’re reading. Kindles are like brown paper bags.”

“Oh, you should. I mean, I can’t believe you hadn’t already. You read everything.”

 “I do sort of have some issues with the idea that a young woman is going to try to change some guy—try to save him from himself. By submitting to him. Like that always works. Oops! Spoiler alert. I don’t know. Anyway…the books are fairly tedious with some good sex scenes throughout. The second book at least starts to develop the characters a bit.”

“Can you believe how much money she’s making from these?”

“No shit.”

“Why didn’t we think of that?”

“Well…I’ve never been in a red room. You gotta write what you know.”

“Okay…you’re selling me.”

“Just read them for the sex. Don’t expect literature.”

“Okay..”

“It’s all about cultural literacy.”

Of course we do talk about serious things. About breast cancer and again having hair and raising money for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. About holding politicians to their word on funding cancer research and preventive screens under Title X funding. We talk about daughters, Oh God, our immeasurably funny and inestimable daughters.  We talk about the silly logistics of moving and selling houses and the clutter of “stuff”. We talk warily about the worry we feel when we see one of us reenter a relationship that’s caused pain. We ponder the conundrum of gay Republicans. We take in the summer aroma of the Bitterroot Valley and talk about all of the memories that combination of smells brings back. I say I never want to see my parents’ property again on Bear Creek because it wouldn’t have them on it. We talk about memorabilia as I go through the last boxes of my parents’ things I’d saved, Dad’s dog tags from WWII, a story about a cowboy my mom wrote in 1954, a bookmark I’d made for my mom that was a horse I’d drawn. We tell each other how putting your hands in your mother’s baby shoes fills your heart just knowing her little feet were in those tiny shoes. We share that we are worried when one of us doesn’t feel well. We talk about how much we miss one another when we’re apart.

So Ann, while you smiled and chatted with Piers Morgan, while you and Mitt kowtowed to American Christian Zionists and the small fraction of American Jews who’d vote Republican just because you schmoozed that right-wing Likud kingpin Binyamin Netanyahu, we were watching thunderstorms over the Bitterroots. While Mitt crassly tossed out the word “culture” with as much thought to consequence as tossing change to doormen at the King David Hotel, we at TLC were learning from an expert the best way to pee outdoors without splattering our shoes. While you and your hubby hid from the press and let that sleeze ball Sheldon Adelson run his proverbial hand up and down your political thigh, likely dirty from bribing Chinese officials in Macau, we were sitting along the Clark Fork listening to the Young Dubliners play in Caras Park on a perfect Missoula summer evening. (See Juan Cole Ten Most Distasteful Things about Romney Trip to Israel)

Would this short experience have caused you to peel off that thousand dollar Reed Krakoff Audubon Silk Shirt and don a University of Montana Grizzly t-shirt instead? Likely not. But hopefully it would have given you some more insight into the “you people” who seem to be about as far from you as your husband’s business practices are from true Christian ethics.

 Ahhh….but now you’ve got Paul Ryan on the ticket. Is your campaign bus nothing but mirrors inside? One can only imagine. But that’s for another letter.

 Keep us “you people” in your thoughts and prayers as I’m sure you always really do. And, there’s always next summer. You’ll have plenty of time on your hands.

Sincerely,

C in the TLC

P.S. If you, too, would like to learn how to better ‘do the deed in the woods’ with all the confidence of a Papal bear, you really do need to pick up Kathleen Meyer’s book How to Shit in the Woods. Kathleen is funny not only in person, but on paper, and this book helps save our back country while making the reader laugh at every page turn. Oh how I love funny women, and I’m so glad I got to meet this one! If you’ve got somebody heading out on a backpacking trip…this is a great gift!

 

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My invitation to Ann Romney for a Rich Bitch Intervention

July 20, 2012

Re: “You People” and an Invitation to a Rich Bitch Intervention

Dear Ann Romney,

This letter is to formally invite you to this year’s *TLC Rendezvous, which will be held next week in Missoula, Montana. Should you choose to accept this gracious invitation, the TLC Rendezvous, named for the three friends who meet annually (picture below), will generously rename the gathering this once as the Rich Bitch Intervention of 2012 to include and honor you. I’m going to talk straight with you honey, you need this intervention like your husband needs Hispanic votes in swing states.

I extend to you this invitation because of your use of the two words “you people.” This is not to laud those words. And trust me, I recognize that the pressures of a presidential campaign are extraordinary. Some would accord your simple phrase as a slip of syntax made under duress, uttered when the press did just that—they pressed you. But the three of us at TLC recognize your problems to be much deeper. By using these two words we hear your cry for help, and help you’ll have if you accept this generous offer.

Just as a bull responds to a red cape, I snort and paw at certain word choices. “Sweetheart,” for example, might work on a Hallmark card, but have some guy I don’t know call me that, and I’ll likely clarify for him pronto that I’m not his. The diminutive word boy used to address African American men is an egregious example that even the Eleventh Circuit Court ruled was evidence of racial discrimination.

Boy is used in classist ways as well. I remember distinctly my dad coming home from work one afternoon spitting mad. He had been building a fireplace for a university professor in our small town, and the guy who was probably younger than my dad kept addressing him as boy. My dad finally threw down his trowel and said “Look, boy, you can get some other son-of-a-bitch to finish this job.” The guy, chagrined, eventually apologized and treated my dad with cautious respect from that point on. Later in life when my dad would refer to grown women as “those girls,” I’d remind him of that story.

You see, Ann, “you people” is such a phrase. It’s a two-word moment that drips with Driving Miss Daisy. It’s two words with the heart of Leona Helmsley, the tact of Rush Limbaugh, and the brains of Jersey Shore’s Snooki. Packed with lots of racist baggage, it didn’t help that you used these words when talking to Robin Roberts, an intelligent and stunning African American woman. Now I’m not calling you a racist. I think you’re just a pampered pony princess nearing the point of no return. But a TLC intervention will not only help you understand why those words would be offensive to real women, it will introduce you to three real-live women, none of whom have butlers or $100,000 dollar horses. It will be sort of like doing good works with one’s church, only with good margaritas, guacamole, and some jokes about blowjobs.

At the TLC Rich Bitch Intervention you’ll drink out of non-crystal glasses, hang out with at least one woman without a pedicure (that would be me right now), and go through a series of exercises to assist you in loosening up that tight Stepford ass of yours. If you progress well, you may advance to the Mo’ Club level, where you’ll relish a cold brew, a cup full of peanuts, and a hot-pepper cheeseburger in one of Missoula’s landmark establishments.

Ann, I realize that all women must make personal compromises and sacrifices at times in their lives. You have sacrificed yourself well for Mitt’s political glory and business career. In fact, Mitt’s campaign handlers knew exactly what they were doing putting you on Good Morning America where you made your verbal gaff. Of the morning “news” shows, “GMA” is currently winning in the 25-54 female demographic. God knows Mitt’s about as popular with women as Virginia’s Governor Bob McDonnell is with his vaginal ultrasound wands. And he polls right up there with Chlamydia. You were there to put that softer touch on his Bain debacle. Your “stand by your man” performance should have given Mitt a bump in the polls. I know you probably love the lug, but for Christ’s sakes, woman. Have some self-respect!

And that’s just what you’ll get at the TLC Rich Bitch Intervention. For we know that underneath that hoity-toity crap is a woman who’s struggled with disease and challenges. Okay, not just like us—you never had to worry about paying for your care, but we get some of what you’ve faced. So, Ann, climb down off that high horse named Rafalca that is worth more than most Americans’ homes are now and join us (a.k.a. “you people”) for a bit of TLC. You’ll not only learn how to talk like real people, you’ll meet some.

Sincerely,

(C in the TLC)

*TLC is an acronym for Taryn, Lucille, and Cindy. We’ve been friends for 35 years, meeting annually and keeping each other real. This was taken last summer.

RSVP by U.S. Postal Service only. We want it running and don’t want to see it outsourced.

The Baby Cat Chronicles

ImageIt’s Sunday morning in my household. Things are typically prosaic. My people have the television on and a guy named Fareed Zakaria waxes politically eloquent. I’m not sure why they continue to watch these programs, for the male of the family gets quite exercised about “what Zakaria is missing in the debate.” The female, that person with whom Sophie (the other household cat) attaches herself in the most embarrassing manner, seems barely awake enough to care. My personal human is still sleeping, for she is a college student and it is summer and she doesn’t have to work today. Her need for long spells of sleep make her more like a cat than the rest of them, and that’s one reason I relate best to her.

My personal human coos, baby talks and stalks me for hugs and special moments. I tolerate her affections. I would slash and quarter the others should they think to do the same. I do make exceptions for “the treatment,” or butt pats. For this I’ll swallow pride, back up to whoever is brave enough to play master and supplicant, and rowl in ecstasy with my ears back. I should be embarrassed, I concede. But it is a pleasure I take, and given the indignities I endure in this home, I think it only fair to indulge in some delight when offered. But make no mistake. I’ll take this only so long. These interactions are on my terms and my terms alone. I’ve heard them say I sound like someone named Linda Blair in a film called the Exorcist. I don’t know of this Linda Blair. She must have been a beautiful tabby like me.

These people also say that my personality ranges from Zach Galifianakis’ character Alan in the Hangover to Jabba the Hut. Again, I’m a cat and have no experience with American cinema. I trust these are extraordinary characters with keen instincts and observation skills. Perhaps they, too, have piercing green eyes.

I have had a rather stress-ridden week. A black cat invaded my yard while I was out taking some sun in the cat mint the other day. This, of course, breeches all decorum. I screeched and yowled and fluffed my tail, but to no avail. By the end of the interchange, I found myself covered in urine. I ran to the sliding door, unsure just how uncivilized this cat might get. My person let me in. When my special person checked me for wounds she said, “Eeewww, she’s covered in cat pee!” Of course, I knew what that meant immediately and took cover behind a chair. These people are quite squeamish about urine, and I feared they’d attempt to bathe me.

I was, of course, correct in my assumptions. The female of the house was relentless in my pursuit and quick with a towel. She caught me and wrapped me up so I couldn’t slash her with my claws. They took me to the bathroom and started the shower. Now, when one has no natural defense available, one must resort to the only weapon left. So I urinated on the bathroom rug. Not a little, but a lot. Nevertheless, it took two of them to wrestle me onto the shower floor, hold me against my will, and scrub me from shoulder to tail tip with something called Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle Body Wash. When they were done with this torture, they towel dried and let me go find a place to hide and regroup. My personal human eventually coaxed me back into the family’s mainstream with food and affection. I am truly a forgiving soul, a model of both absolution and humility.

There has been much activity in the household as of late. Strange people are coming and going, people called realtors leading perfect strangers through the house, commenting on the lovely kitchen and view, the tile in the bathrooms, the potential problem of having two bedrooms instead of three. Before these people come, my people leap into a frenzy of cleaning, no fingerprints left on the stainless steel appliances, no animal hair left anywhere on the floor, and God forbid any deposit should be left in my cat box.

I hear my people talk about why this is happening. Word is we are moving, and a part of that process will be a plane ride. I will be placed in a cat carrier and will ride below a seat in the cabin with them. In another cat carrier will be that kiss-ass, Sophie. And in the cargo hold will ride the dog. My humans are working with the rules of the airline that allow for only one pet in the cargo hold per flight, and that is reserved for the dog since she’s bigger. My humans are quite worried about my behavior on that day; they worry I will urinate (as I usually do) when I am pushed to the limit.

The female of the household seems to constantly ruminate on the dark possibilities of moving day. “First,” she says, “the doggie downers have to be given well ahead of time for Flick to calm down enough. But they’ll wear off during the flight, and she’ll be panicked.” She continues as she shakes her head, “Sophie will be okay as long as she’s with me, but Baby Cat. We’ll have to get her through TSA. What if she goes ape shit then?” She sighs. “And when we’re on the plane, if she pees, there we’ll be. Cat pee for everyone seated around us. Even if we clean up the cage and pad below her, she’ll still smell like cat pee. I just don’t know how we can take that cat on board!”

The male of the household says, “We’ll just give her downers and hope for the best.”

The female responds, “We’d better have some downers for everyone sitting around us. They’re going to need them more than the damn cat.”

Oh how little faith they have in me. My plan, of course, is to not pee in my cage, but to do so during the TSA full body scanner process. And that, my dear readers, is what is known as poetic justice.

In search of the best fish taco in Kailua-Kona

On our many trips to Kailua-Kona, and especially after the kitchen in our house there had to be torn out because of a mold disaster, we sampled the local fare in hopes of finding that sweet spot between reasonable price and taste. My personal quest was to find the best fish taco on the west side of the island, for that’s truly one of my all time favorite meals. Call me one of the true fish taco cod-noscenti or an afish-ionado. Either way, I’m one serious fish taco snob.

I suppose the reason a good fish taco is so hard to find is because there are so many variables in its creation. First, there’s the fish itself and how it’s cooked. As an afish-ionado, I believe a fish should be honored with seasonings, a marinade and then a grill. I think it’s just wrong on so many levels to deep fat fry fish for a fish taco. Save that for fish and chips.

Then there’s the issue of the slaw. Here’s where too much vinegar can assault your olfactory system. And I’ve even had slaw on my fish tacos with mayo. Paleeze! Are you kidding me? Talk about a desperate attempt to fill a tortilla shell. And speaking of tortilla shells, I’m personally a fan of fresh flour tortillas. Granted, there are some good corn tortillas out there, and the corn/flour debate can’t be solved on this page. That’s really a matter of personal choice. But the wrong tortilla shell or one that is just plain stale will ruin the whole concoction. And two barely-cooked corn tortillas to compensate for the fact that one is too feeble to hold up the design is like calling in the Texas Republican Party to make critical thinking recommendations to the Texas State Board of Education’s textbook committee. Two is not better than one. You get my point.

Then there’s aioli sauce. A must. Salsa alone doesn’t cut it for fish tacos. You’ve got to have that last little bit of creamy tang on top to set the taco off just right.

You see my standards are pretty high. And yet, two restaurants in Kailua-Kona do pretty well with fish tacos. The best one I’ve found so far is at the Kona Brewery. You’ll find it on their menu called “Uncle’s Fish or Shrimp Tacos.” They use both a chipotle yogurt sauce and an avocado aioli to top their creation. Down it with a cold Fire Rock Pale Ale, and you’ll start entertaining that permanent relocation to Kona like we did.

The Miss Congeniality award goes to the fish taco I found at Lava Java. You’ll find their fish tacos on the lunch menu under “fresh fish,” and they serve up theirs with a chipotle aioli and tropical salsa. The important thing about their fish tacos is that they grill their fish. And you can’t beat the view, since you’re sitting outside on the fringe of Ali’i Drive and the ocean.

But move over Kona Brewery and Lava Java. Come early September, which is when we move, a new fish taco is coming to town. With the help from a recipe from Maggie’s One Butt Kitchen, I think I’ve got a winner. And of course, I’ve got a playlist for the preparations.

First, the tunes. Since we’re talking fish tacos, we need some gringo south-of-the-border songs and ballads.

  1. Sangria Wine (Jerry Jeff Walker)
  2. Come up Full (Meg Hutchinson)
  3. Goin’ to Acapulco (Calexico and Jim James)
  4. Deportee, Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Nanci Griffith)
  5. Cowgirl in the Sand (Neil Young with Crazy Horse)
  6. Southern Cross (Crosby, Stills, and Nash)
  7. Mexican Divorce (Nicolette Larson)
  8. Take me to the Mardi Gras (Paul Simon)
  9. The Coast (Paul Simon)
  10. Come on in my Kitchen (Red Molly)
  11. Fishing (Richard Shindell)
  12. Oye Como Va (Santana)
  13. Going to Mexico (Steve Miller Band)
  14. 96 Degrees in the Shade (Third World)
  15. Spanish Rose (Van Morrison)
  16. Rosita (Antigone Rising)
  17. Remittance Man (Jimmy Buffett)
  18. Mexico (James Taylor)
  19. Bamboleo (Gipsy Kings)
  20. Mexicali Blues (Grateful Dead)

Now Maggie’s ingredients. The italics show how I altered the recipe when I made it the other night. It’s best to make the various components in this order as well.

Chipotle Salsa:

2 cups seeded and diced Roma tomatoes

2 tablespoons minced red onion

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

1 chipotle pepper (from a can) minced. (At first I had misread Maggie’s recipe as one can. That would set you on fire. I quickly figured it out once I tasted one of those peppers.)

salt, to taste

2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Picante Slaw:

2 cups finely shredded cabbage (1 cup green; 1 cup purple)

2 tsp. lime juice (I used 2 tablespoons)

2 tsp. honey (I used 2 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons minced red onion (I probably used a bit more)

1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (Make sure to use gloves)

2 tsp. chopped cilantro (I used at least 2 tablespoons)

salt, to taste

Lime Crema: (I didn’t use this part of the recipe, although it would be good, too. I made, instead the avocado aioli below as the tangy topping.)

1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream

zest from one lime

juice from 1 lime

Avocado Aioli:

¼ c. sour cream

¼ c. Greek yogurt

2 or 3 small Haas avocados

Juice of 1 lime (Add more lime juice to taste)

1 Tablespoon or more of olive oil

1 tsp. Kosher salt

ground pepper to taste

garlic juice from chopped garlic jar (1 tsp.)

Fish:

2 lbs. tilapia

1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used ½ cup of olive oil—I have this thing about olive oil over canola. It’s so much healthier.)

3 tablespoons lime juice

5 tsp. chili powder (I used less—probably 2 tsps.)

1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1 1/2 tsp ground coriander

1 1/2 tsp minced garlic

salt, to taste

8 inch diameter flour tortillas—There were only three of us. Make what you need.

Directions:

Salsa: Combine all ingredients for Salsa; toss and set aside.

Slaw: Combine all ingredients; toss and set aside.

Aioli: Using a food processor, combine all ingredients at high speed until you have a smooth, silky sauce. Add extra lime juice or olive oil to get the right consistency if need be.

Tortillas: On a grill pan heated over high heat, grill the tortillas until grill marks are present. (Maggie said to put them in a lightly damp towel and set aside.) My method is to: Place tortillas in aluminum foil and keep heated in 250 degree oven until fish is grilled. Maggie is a real cook; I’m not.

Fish: Place the fish in Ziploc bag. Combine the remaining ingredients to create a marinade. Pour marinade over fish. Massage marinade to completely coat the fish. (Fish like all of us like a good massage. However, don’t leave fish too long in a marinade that has citrus. It will get cooked.)

On a BBQ grill pan over high medium heat, cook the marinated fish until done. (This will not take long.) Remove to a serving plate.

Put the tacos together with the warm tortillas, slaw, salsa, fish, and aioli sauce. Serve with lime wedges.

For more great recipes, go to http://maggiesonebuttkitchen.wordpress.com/about/

I Sold Our Boat

Boats are like tattoos. For whatever reason–too much alcohol, sunshine, optimism, cash in your pocket–or some kind of giddy adrenaline sparked by the lot, suddenly there you are at a boat dealer taking advice from a sun-scorched twenty-something with a hangover who clucks his tongue at you and “can’t believe you don’t have a boat already!” He does the equivalent of introducing you into the “cool crowd” in junior high by taking you over to the “best deal”. And even though you’re damn near fifty at the time and more keen to bullshit than the average bear simply because you’ve taught high school since you were his age, you flush a bit when he says “you look like a natural” as you grasp the wheel. Damn right.At that point if he’d said, “a picture of the boat would look natural on your upper thigh,” I’d have probably said “ink her up.”

What is it about taking that boat wheel in hand? I’m convinced that Odysseus never needed beeswax or his men to tie him to a mast to withstand the lure of the Sirens calling from shore. Circe should have advised him to just hold on to that wheel, for that would be more seductive than any winged maiden within earshot. I felt it again two days ago as I got into the boat to start it up, wanting to make sure it had no problems before potential buyers came to look at it. I pumped the throttle a couple times, turned the key and after the old gas cleared, The Nimble Little Minx coughed to life. Within a minute, she was running smoothly, and I sat and let the wheel hum lightly in my hands. I’ll miss this feeling. I’ll miss owning a boat.

When we bought the boat in 2007, we were as green as the algae that can get caught on your propeller. But we learned quickly about tides, and I learned to adeptly back trailer and boat down ramps for launchings. I learned with an air-born gulp and hard thump not to take the wake of a container ship at too high of speed. And unfortunately for my husband, I learned to get the boat closer and more parallel to the dock only after he fell in trying to get us moored for lunch one day. Some nice fishermen on the dock who spoke very little English fished him out. He forgave my poor skippering after a couple gin and tonics.

Salty smart asses too often target new and giddy boat owners with hull-scratching comments about their new purchases. They offer up tired phrases like

“The two happiest days in your life are the day you buy your boat and the day you sell your boat.” Or they define “boat” for the new boat owner as “a hole in the water into which you pour your money” or explain that the acronym BOAT stands for “break out another thousand.” These jokes, while technically true, are nothing more than a way to make newcomers feel like they’re fools. Of course, it takes one to know one, and that’s part of the joke. But I never really appreciated these jokes.

Just like I didn’t appreciate the guy on the boating launch one day say “Whoa, little lady. Ya think you can get that in the water?” (Note that this guy was probably my age.) I just looked at him from my truck window and said, “Fuck yeah.” When I negotiated that baby into the water in a perfect L-shaped turn and dropped the Minx in like I’d been on the water my whole life, I considered it not only a triumph for all women, but for all landlubbers.

The couple that bought our boat is new to boating as well. I like this pair. They are friends of an old friend of ours. They’ll go through some of the same things we did. They’ll likely buy a little tide book or have the Puget Sound tide page bookmarked on their computer to aid in their launching. They’ll figure out the inverse and counter-intuitive turn of a truck wheel when backing a boat down a ramp. They’ll no doubt through trial and error figure out how to back the ball hitch under the trailer just enough to pop it on—something we always sucked at. They are going to run into challenges with the boat and have moments of frustration. They are going to wonder if the money is worth it.

But I also know that they will have moments of pure joy. They’ll have moments like I did that they will keep forever. A moment like singing the song “Miss you so Badly” with my two best friends of thirty-five years out in the middle of Seeley Lake in Montana on a perfectly hot day. That’s the day the boat was christened The Nimble Little Minx. Or hearing over the motor my daughter squeal with laughter as she and my husband rode a towable inflated raft. Or heading home one evening on a glass-smooth Puget Sound when seals emerged around the boat, and we cut the engine just to watch them swim and play around us. So yes, I suppose that tattoo, even though I’m having it removed, is still really etched in my skin. And what a beauty she was.

A Mango Mojito Ganesha Would Appreciate

On the counter sits a Costco box of mangoes. I’m a slut for mangoes, and my husband knows that, so he surprised me with them last week when he did the Costco deed. I was thrilled, but I knew the greener ones in the box would all ripen at the same time. And, since my family isn’t into more adventurous culinary forays like Adzuki Bean Mango Stir Fry with Cilantro Lime Coconut Sauce or even Mango Salsa, on the Fourth I decided to use the mango for what the gods intended—alcoholic beverages. Okay, not all the gods. But I think one in particular would appreciate this recipe.

Mangoes play prominently in Hindu legend. Ganesha, the elephant-headed deity, for example, is often depicted holding a mango. A magic mango, as legend tells, which he won in a competition against his brother, Kartikeya. The parents, Shiva and Parvati, frustrated with the brothers’ squabbling over the mango promised the fruit to the sibling that could go around the world three times and return the quickest. After realizing that a mouse was simply not quality transportation to travel the world three times, and certainly no match for the peacock his brother was zipping around on, Ganesha relied instead on both political and semantic acumen. “Ganesha said that Shiva and Parvati were his parents and were his whole world. He had asked Shiva and Parvati to stand together and had circled them three times and had taken the mango.” Although the lesson here is supposed to be something along the order of wisdom can come from travel or staying home and truly understanding one’s own kin is precious, I’m thinking brother Kartikeya could have used a mango mojito after pulling up his peacock to this type of sycophancy.

But back to mojito mojo. Here’s my novice’s recipe. Realize that I can never leave a recipe alone. I always have to do something to make it my own. I started with a couple recipes on line and worked from those.

1. First, have a good playlist on. Here’s a few of the songs from the list I was listening to at the time of working on this recipe:

Knee Deep (Zac Brown Band with Jimmy Buffet)
Island Woman (Pablo Cruise)
Beach in Hawaii (Ziggy Marley)
Don’t Rock my Boat (Bob Marley)
You Ku’upio (Willie K)
If I had a Boat (Lyle Lovett)
Does Your Mama Like to Reggae (J. J. Cale)
My Little Grass Shack in Kealakekua, Hawaii (The Mills Brothers)
Cowboy Boots and Bathing Suits (Jerry Jeff Walker)
Southern Cross (Crosby, Stills, and Nash)

There are more…typically my playlists have about forty or more songs. But you get the idea.

2. Next, it helps to have mint growing in the back yard. I do. A lot of mint growing in a big pot on the patio. Go cut the some of the mint stalks with nice green leaves all the way up. I prepared three mojitos yesterday, so I needed three stalks of mint. When I came in to wash the mint, I noticed some tiny (and I mean tiny) black gnats of some variety. I had to drown their asses, roll the mint in paper towels, and drown their asses again. A black gnat in your mojito just doesn’t say “this is living” to me.
Chop up the mint, but not so finely that it looks like green slime. Nice larger pieces is pretty in the glass.

3. Cut some lime wedges. Take a lime wedge for each glass, split the sucker, slide it around the top of the glass. Set it aside. It’s going to be in that glass soon.

4. Dip the glass rim into a plate with turbinado sugar. I found it didn’t stick perfectly, but just enough to have a bit of sweet here and there on the lips.

5. In each glass, put the equivalent of about five good size mint leaves (chopped somewhat). These need to be crushed in the glass. Of course, a drink mortar (is that what they’re called?) is nice for this. A spoon works too. I used the end of a wooden spatula. One must be inventive when short on supplies.

6. Take the lime wedge and squeeze into each glass. Then drop that sucker in there. Maybe take another half lime and squeeze liberally into the three glasses. I did. I like lime.

7. Mango puree or mango nectar. Some recipes call for mango puree; others call for mango nectar, the kind you get in a can. This all depends on your taste and your access to fresh mangoes. Obviously, given my ripened mangoes, I went for the puree. A blender works great for this. (Plus, if you have some left, put it over vanilla ice cream later.) Drop several tablespoons of the puree into the bottom of the glass. Again, it all depends upon how much mango you want in the drink. Remember, there’s vitamin C in mangoes, so you can’t go wrong here. This is about your health after all!

8.*****Add simple syrup—probably two tablespoons or so to the growing concoction in each glass. (Making simple syrup is a step you’ll want to do ahead of time. Again, that’s why it’s good to have a longer playlist. Simple syrup can be made by mixing 1 cup of sugar and ½ cup of water in a saucepan. Bring it to a low boil, and stir it constantly for no more than five minutes. Cool this.) Some recipes say just add sugar. I’m thinking these people are lazy amateurs and don’t deserve mojitos. Seriously. Make the damn syrup.

9. Fill glass with maybe a half cup of club soda, and fill the glass with ice. Top with a jigger or so of Myers dark rum. Lightly stir. (If you stir too much, you’ll de-fiz the soda. Not good.) You may want to add a bit more soda now. Another idea is to add just a touch of the mango nectar in a can. Now you’re talking best of both worlds! Go for it. YOLO and all that shit.

10. To top off your masterpiece, de-leaf the sprigs of mint leaving some nice leaves at the top—one sprig for each. Take a mango and do a hedgehog slice job on it. What’s a hedgehog slice job you ask? Well, I learned this from a friend who owned a bed and breakfast in Captain Cook. Anybody who’s been around mangoes for a while knows how to do this, but for a mango virgin, here’s how to cut one:

11. Slice on the wide edge, around the pit. If the mango is truly ripe, you’ll be able to twist the mango in half. Taking the side without the pit, make slices the length and cross wise to the skin only. Then flip the mango inside out. Here’s a quick little video to show you just what I mean: Cutting a Mango Hedgehog
12. Skewer pieces of mango onto the de-leafed mint spring, place in the glass and serve smugly. Then sit back and listen to a play list of your liking that takes you to an island in your mind. And make a toast to Lord Ganesha who understood that flattery can prevent you from having to saddle up a mouse and ride it around the earth three times. Good for him.

For some versions of the Mango story:

Stories from Hindu Mythology: Ganesha wins the mango

Indian Stories for Children: The race for the mango

Time in Tunnels

The lesson of travel
is to trust the goodness,
the illumination
of instinct
intellect.

But this sudden lawless flurry
in the stifling clap of darkness
I become a Space Mountain refugee.
Dumbed, numbed
maladaptive,
blind.

The blackened speeding hallway spits
out husks of
“trust, trust, trust”
left scattered to bottomless tracks.

Six anxious-eyed strangers
feign calm, but wheeze through
nostrils full of spent fuel.
Which of us would sell the others
to quell the clattering chaos?
A glaring sun exposes us—
all of us traitors—
we avert our eyes
squeezing tears and shame at lid corners.

But as quickly
the shrouded cacophony
again
blankets our dank cage.
I close my eyes to find
my marigold canary.
She whispers a bird promise
feather light
in the opaque
perspiration and
doubt.

The day finally opens
wide
and full
a welcome
Tuscan promise
kept.