Friday, April 17, 2015

When In Maine, Have a Nosh

You want some of these. Trust me.
I recently heard a statistic from a Congressional Committee empowered to study such things that last year, more money was spent by Americans in restaurants than in supermarkets. That's pretty crazy, considering that what you cook at home is often way better and costs a mere fraction of what you settle for when you eat out.

I certainly do my fair share of restaurant dining, despite being a respectable cook myself and wary of consuming  too much salt, which is what restaurants use to excess to make everything so tasty. But Portland, Maine is nothing so much as a foodie town, winning countless national awards for its growing army of creative chefs, so it's tempting to give in and eat out.

I did so last night at a place called Nosh Kitchen Bar and was more than pleasantly surprised, especially since one rarely runs across Yiddish references here in America's whitest state. Truly an unassuming little place place you might drive by without a second glance, the menu at Nosh is surprisingly more substantial than its name implies. There's real food prepared here, not just snacky chips and dips, although a neighboring diner was seen eating a plate of mac and cheese with a sprinkling of Fritos on the top.

Like that particular offering, most of the selections are unique and unlikely to show up anywhere else, which is refreshing in today's Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Ahi Tuna Tacos and Goat Cheese Candied Walnuts Arugula Salad world. I won't bother to list menu items as they are available online, but if you lose a bet and have to come to Portland, make sure to stop by Nosh; it's located close to the town's only art museum so you'll likely be in the neighborhood. And get some French fries, either their famous "bacon dusted" variety (see photo) or regular. They are among the best I've ever had, and probably way too salty for my blood pressure. But life is short.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Get Ready for a Bumpy Ride

Like jalopies that eventually stop running and rust into oblivion, older people fall apart. It's just a fact of life: Bones decay, organs give out, eyes cloud over. By the time you are in your sixties everyone you know, including yourself, is having something repaired, replaced, tuned up or chopped off, either this week, next month, or whenever their health insurance will pay. Luckily we have car mechanics, oops I mean surgeons, to do the job and get us back on the road in no time.

This is great news, except that these skilled craftsmen are rarely honest in telling you how awful you will feel following their fix. To sell their services they insist it's all a piece of cake, promising you'll feel great right away, and in fact you may not even need anything more than a few Tylenol for pain. All I can say about that is, "Hah!"

Sure, go ahead and have that surgery and in time things will surely get better. But rest assured the docs will sugar-coat the whole experience, so read up beforehand about the Hell you will find yourself in afterwards.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Stuck in a Rut

Almost everyone I know is stuck in some kind of a rut. It's hard to pull out of one you've wallowed in for years. For example, fat people may say they will diet, but still they reach for that sticky bun or bagel with their coffee each morning. Couch potatoes vow to start that exercise program tomorrow, but come tomorrow there they are, still on the couch. I feel for them, stuck in my own rut living here in Maine.

Despite interminable winters, nonexistent jobs and unfriendly natives, causing me to vow each year to leave before the next snowfall, when May comes around and my garden beckons, and the snow finally melts to reveal our two wooded acres where the cats can frolic without fear of being run over by a car, and the supermarket is within walking distance but still we live in the country, it's tough to climb out. In fact, each year I seem to sink deeper in.

But those are relatively unimportant ruts. Some that are more important have to do with the upcoming presidential election, whereby lazy Democrats deeply embedded in the muddiest of all ruts are blindly backing Hillary Clinton, a poor choice for president if ever there were one. For example, she lies. Then too, she cheats. And obfuscates. And sometimes she's downright ridiculous.

Yesterday she told a group of young people that in America, "the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top." She pretends to think that sucks. However, let's examine her own lifestyle: She earns between $200,000 and $300,000 for each speaking engagement, yet, by routing those exorbitant speaking fees through her own Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton "foundation,' she ensures that the money will not be taxed before she uses it for travel, meals and promotional events. Pretty slick, huh -- make a ton of dough and don't pay taxes on it?

Poor Hillary is also in a rut, griping about poverty while living the high life. Isn't it time all of us tried something new? Especially you Democrats: Try thinking outside the box for once. Better yet, try thinking.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Earth is So Played

I am so done with Earth. 

If another planet that could support human life 
were discovered 
I would go in a heartbeat, 
although I do hate long flights. 
But maybe by the time it is discovered, interplanetary travel will happen in the blink of an eye. 

Of course I will likely be dead by then so it's stupid to count on. 
Anyway, I could just bring a lot of sedatives 
and a stack of old crossword puzzles 
from the New York Times.
If there still is a New York Times by then. 

I would miss some things about Earth, certainly, 
but if the new place 
had its own strange things to interest me 
I'd be fine. 

Still, some things we have here are hard to top, like:
trees, flowers, clouds
the ocean
vegetables and coffee.

I would happily leave behind all of these:
cats
dogs
restaurants
thunderstorms
insects
racism
prescription drugs
advertising
doctors
lawyers
All-You-Can-Eat salad bars 
trashy bestsellers
cell phones

 

What I Might Have Said

I just got a call from this guy.
It is neither snowing nor raining nor freezing so I have to get out there and go for a walk before I lose the impetus, which means I won't be writing a post this morning. Here are some of the ideas I was toying with if I were going to write one, so you can just use your imagination:

1. How last year our doofus government wasted $190,000 to study worm-digested compost, $856,000 training mountain lions to use treadmills, $10,000 for a children's theater production of "Zombie in Love," $46,000 for a snowmobile competition and $414,000 updating an Army recruiting video game already $25 million over budget, and thus I am reluctant to mail in my taxes which are due tomorrow.

2. How living in the past is not living at all, and posting photos of yourself online when you you were younger and better-looking contributes to the fantasy land where most average people live.

3. Describing a nightmare I had last night that involved a vicious, wild animal loose inside my home and me sneaking from room to room to get away from it.

4. A review of an old movie ("Moonstruck") I recently watched on Netflix starring Cher when she was stunningly beautiful, back before all her freakish plastic surgery.

5. How robots are making more phone calls these days and they are just as rude as humans. One of them called a few minutes ago to remind me of an upcoming appointment, and it is not even 8:30 in the morning! That is simply too early to be bothering someone at home, especially if you are not a real person.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Concentration is Consecration

Here's my dilemma: I really want a new handbag but I have about 15 of them already, piled on a shelf in my closet. Each one has had its day, but now none of them make me happy. My hope is that the next one will fulfill that empty place inside and keep me from eating half a tub of ice cream before dumping the other half down the garbage disposal, but I doubt it. I want, I need, I must have . . . something. Or else why am I so frequently sad, despite having full use of all four limbs and a functioning brain? Why else am I desperately hunting for a new house that will cost a fortune in a city crowded with grasping politicians and violent criminals and road- and artery-clogging traffic when I presently live in a virtual paradise that Henry David Thoreau would envy?


You have likely guessed that what I want, need and must have is peace of mind. Too bad that's not for sale, certainly not on the Internet which is where you shop when you live in rural Maine. So, always seeking, I am reading yet another book on meditation. This one, aptly titled "Meditation," claims that it is the only path to inner peace, self-actualization, a calm and quiet and productive mind free of depression, anger and anxiety and a robust body radiating health and energy.

Stressing the importance of having a mantra and repeating it as often as you can, author Eknath Easwaran insists you choose one carefully since you musn't change it or it won't work as well. The mantra will totally determine what happens to you and in what direction your spirit turns. Like if you say "Jesus" or "Hail Mary" over and over you will become Catholic in your ideals. No thank you. I'm sort of leaning towards a "Hare Rama, Hare Krishna, Rama Rama, Krishna Krishna" kind of thing since that's my favorite song by dead Beatle George Harrison, but I worry that by concentrating on it constantly my spirit may become too Liverpudlian.

Honestly, I find the whole meditation thing slightly scary. After all, hanging out in one's subconscious is not exactly a walk in the park. And I'm not sure I even believe in all of it; how can repeating a word or phrase in my mind make my life better, eliminating all fear and need for Ben and Jerry, at the same time opening my heart to give and receive unconditional love? But it's worth a try since all I've got now is an empty bag of tricks, none of which have worked since natural childbirth 27 years ago. That was truly a stupendous experience but it never happened again -- God's choice not mine -- and since then it's been the same old, same old.

Now here's Easwaran promising that if I follow his "Simple 8-point program for translating spiritual ideals into daily life," I will feel that same excitement again. Okay, I'm in. I just have to choose my mantra and get started, and soon enough I will be a better person, and who doesn't want that? "Om mani padme hum" has a nice ring to it, don't you think? It says that whatever our humble beginnings and whatever mistakes we have made in the past, we can purify our hearts and come to dwell in spiritual illumination. That sounds good to me.


Saturday, April 11, 2015

Read It and Weep

I just read an essay on the op-ed page of today's Wall Street Journal that totally ruined my day. Maybe I can salvage some of it later, but right now is certainly shot. The title of the piece is "Paralyzed from the Neck Down," so you can just imagine how cheery it is. The writer, Anthony Weller, suffers from a debilitating form of progressive multiple sclerosis which started ten years ago. He is now unable to do anything with his body, but he can still think and talk, and then dictate his thoughts.

I won't say more since I don't want this essay to bum you out, but I will say that if you can scratch an itch, fry an egg, pet your dog, go for a walk, ride a bike, take a shower, make a phone call, scroll your Facebook page, or whatever, quit your damn bellyaching and get out there and live your life.