Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Casserole Ladies

Blowfish and I went to see the latest Bourne movie.
We  had a bit of a conflict about when we were going to do this. His preferred schedule or mine?  He won by virtue of falling asleep.  I could have shoved him off the sofa to awaken him. But, I thought maybe this was a bonus and he would not fall asleep and snore in the theatre. Again.

On the way there it was clear one of us was crabby.
In fairness I should point out  Blowfish is an even tempered fellow who is rarely, if ever, crabby.

I forget now what it was that set my teeth to grinding but I do recall my response,

" As far as I am concerned the Casserole Ladies can have you now."
" The what?"
" The Casserole Ladies"
" Errrrr, not too sure I know what you mean  Fishy".

We were stopped at a light so I gave him a looking over. I was trying to decide if he seriously did not know or was just avoiding the subject. He had that scrunchy face which means he was trying to do a quick scan of his data bases to see if he had forgotten something important.  It made me laugh!

"The Casserole Ladies  are the sweet old singles in the communities who get all spiffed up and
come calling with their best casseroles when a man is suddenly widowed. They will stay and visit and even help with the clearing away and washing up too".

In a light bulb moment  of self preservation Blowfish said,

 "I do  not eat casseroles!"

" Well, in part that is because you are married to a woman who does not make casseroles or own a crockpot. Most women have a 'signature' casserole for which they are  known.  In fact traveling casseroles spawned an entire industry in disposable bake ware."

"Fishy, let's talk about the movie."
" How are we going to talk about a movie we have yet to see?"

There was a lull in the conversation but not in the traffic. Or the mischief.

" You know Blowfish, once the Casserole Ladies learn you have  Italian dna they will be bringing you pasta casseroles. My best advice is to avoid the ones made of thin spaghetti and  cream of mushroom soup with a sprinkle of  frozen peas."

I failed to get the words out without a giggle or two because Blowfish was looking aghast. He actually shuddered. I  cannot imagine  what the response  would be if I ever once tried to serve that man some soup drenched, soggy pasta concoction.  He sort of turned in the car seat and said,

 " You said 'ones'. Plural. How many Casserole Ladies are there?'

" Quite a few. Most of the churches have them on their 'bereavement committees' to make sure families are fed in a time of stress and  loss. But in the case of you still standing senior dudes? Well, sometimes it is the committee ladies, sometimes the neighbor ladies or likely it will be that friend of yours who bakes you date nut bread because I don't. Whichever group it is, all  of the ladies bring hope along with the casseroles".

" What are they hoping for?"

" Mostly they come from a generation where the women served men. They like that. They like being needed and they like pleasing a man with their cooking talents. They yearn for acceptance. Recognition. Companionship. Most have buried husbands and have lost that sense of importance in the life of another. So they come with their casseroles and then they come again. In hopes they will shine in your eyes."

" Shine?"
He was looking horrified.
I was laughing.

" Honey, they are trying to catch themselves a new man. In your age bracket they dare not wait too long or some other casserole will win the day. There is stiff competition for eligible men of a certain age. One who looks as fit and fine as you, with teeth and hair is a real find. You'll have to keep a sharp eye out for what secret ingredients they put in the brownies."

Once we were pulling into the cinema parking lot the car was again  filled with silence as Blowfish processed this new data.  As he was opening the door for me  he said,

 "Fishy, are you saying I am a fit and fine catch of a man?"

Taking his arm I asked,

" Ever had any beenie weenie casserole with concrete cheese on top?"


Monday, August 20, 2012

Haiku Monday: Up

Challenger lift off!
Seventy three second thrill ...
We kept looking up.

"GiddyUp" was first
Then ponies, horses,  and cars.
Ahhhh, sweet rush of life!

Childhood confusion,
" Lift up your hearts to the Lord!"
Won't I bleed to death?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Haiku Retreat Report

Well done Haikuers!
I am impressed.
 Definitely with this collection of clever entries  but equally as much by the commonalities. It is somehow a comfort to lean how many of us can be completely restored to self by going home.
To Mother Earth.
To Our Father.

These offerings take us to mountain tops,
to woods of every season,
to the ocean and,
to our own back yards.
To the stars for directions
and home to be spooned.
For some the best retreat is a little quality time with the backs of our eyelids or getting comfy on the couch.

There were lines in haikus which spawned visions in my mind:
Being a fishy , water retreats beckoned from the keystrokes of Serendipity and Aunty:
 "calm water sunrise",
 "on ocean's azure edge",

Okay, my bags are packed!

Winter is my least favorite season. Clearly I am missing something wonderful as depicted in these lines:
" mountain light dances"
"outlined in white crayon snow"
"Winter quiet respite"
then onward  to Czar's locale for thawing a "Wintering soul"

Alas! there is the  hard part of hosting this great game.
Who wins?
Well all of us in a general sense.
But there is that pesky obligation to declare just one as a winner. Does anyone ever find this an easy task?
Who could not love Aunty's concept of God dancing with his creation? Or how about Grumpy Granny's following the yellow arrows of the Camino to point TheWay...step by solo step?

I narrowed my choices down to two.
Each  illustrates a retreat readily available to all:
 From our Grinning Curmudgeon:

On my Winter walk
weaving in the spots of sun
my dark shadows melt

I loved every line of this!
Loved this message of  accessibility.
Not all of us can make it to the Camino but most of us can make the trip out our own back doors.
Granny's "step by solo step" on The Way is,(confirmed by Aunty), a life altering experience. But here, in the land of Grins the combined rhythms of each right foot, left foot progression to patches of light will indeed free our spirits as our personal dark shadows melt.  For me at least, there is  here the message of God's accessibility for all of us, everywhere, for reasons large or small.  Even if this particular take is not yours the great brilliance  of this haiku message is we all have ready access to a personal retreat by going for a walk.

There are times though, when the very calmness of a walk  in the mountains, woods , beach or just to the retreat in the back yard is insufficient to the screaming, pulsing, imperative need for action. And speed. Who would know that need any better than a man who spends his waking hours beneath the surface? If calm is his norm is not action his retreat?  Karl, our very own double oh adventurer,  gave us this present:

Rubber on the road
Playing the Valkyrie ride
Victory! Dig it.

Who among us has not retreated to a fizzing ride with howling music and  the cadence of rotating  rubber screaming down the road to  eradicate our angst?
Or elevate our spirits
or  liberate our joy?

 If keeping pace with  Wagner isn't your thing no matter. Don't we all have music which taps into our spirits like no other? Is it not wonderful we can  use this combination of man, machine, music and speed as medicine du jour?  Oh yeah, get your motor running and head out to the highway.    I confess when I go on this retreat I retract the roof, open all the windows,  put in a cd, crank up the volume and head for a two lane ribbon road where the natural strobing  effect of sunlight through the pine forests sync my soul to nature.
Oh! Just exactly like the trip we took with GC on foot .... melting away our darknesses.

Congratulations to our Grinning Curmudgeon for the win!
Hopefully we will all trek over to your place next week.
Should you be unable to host then hopefully Karl will step up.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Haiku Monday 
Where do you go when you need to take a break from your regular life?
More specifically
 where is your  best personal retreat?

This Fishy life is pretty nice but,
on occasion, 
a  goodly amount of solitude 
is necessary
 to restore  inner balance. 

It seems to me
 even the most social of creatures
 need to take a time out 
from the daily assault 
in this new millennium.

The wonderful thing about 
solitary retreats,
 other than the fact of being solitary,
there are so many wonderful options!

For this weeks game
 please write  as many haikus as you wish
 your favorite solitary

you have actually experienced
you hope to experience

please refrain from writing
 an ode
to your own residence
no matter how sustaining
 it may be.

Our format is to be classic
(I will endeavor to count correctly)

Because our still absent
introduced me to
there are always more points
for those entries which do
honor the traditional 
kigo and kiregi
as well as the

We Fishy's are visual creatures!
While there are no
for entries without visuals
there are points awarded
those visuals 
which brilliantly

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Drought Boating.

We took our ratty old pontoon boat out on the BIG Pond this week.  This is one of the lakes created by the Corps of Engineers back in the  50's and 60's. There are several rivers which flow through this lake/reservoir so there is a section within the lake known as the ' big water'.  Even here there are markers indicating hazards due to the falling lake levels.  

Did I mention big? This lake  has about a thousand miles of shoreline and spans some sixty thousand acres. I cannot do the math to say how much water has been lost but I can tell you it is a ginormous  loss to bring a lake this huge down 14 feet and still dropping. Folks who payed big money to live on the lake are grieved.
Many of them have docks which are no longer in the water, cannot get permits for dock extensions and cannot get a tax reduction on their unusable lakefront  properties. One of our friends has had his custom lake home on the market for the past three years.  No takers. His dock is high and dry, his  irrigation system which pumped water from the lake is now illegal. So his yard is no longer lush and green.
 It is gone! It isn't possible to sit out on his deck to enjoy the sunsets because the insects are ferocious. There is something about a drought which increases the insect population exponentially. He is feeling  abused. Mostly because he invested in what was once prudent and now is not. Sound familiar? Yeah, me too.

The wisdom of the Corps of Engineers is questioned in the paper almost daily. The Corps is still in charge of how much water is released from this reservoir. Somehow the needs of the  people and fish downstream always trump the needs of those of us on the lake. If recent articles are accurate the amount the lake would be down from nature is about 5 feet.
The devastating additional 9' water loss is due to sequential   decisions by the Corps.  I expect bombs or lynchings any day. Folks are way past furious about being selected  to be devastated. A huge class action lawsuit is brewing. I fear this will be just one  of many, many water wars to come.

This time out instead of  using one of the numerous public ramps we went to a marina and paid to use their ramp and docks. Commercial docks are much longer so they still  have some water. More than a dozen of the public ramps are now closed because they no longer terminate in water. There are new hazards of every description.  I am stunned and appalled by the things  people have been throwing into the lake for years. I guess to avoid dumping fees.  Even with all the difficulties, hardships and heartbreaks all around the lake it remains, for me, a great get away day. I love being out there! It isn't the beach but somehow this too is a place where I can actually just .... be.  I can be content to do nothing! I need not even talk.  I can just  sit back and enjoy the wind cooled air, the smell of the evergreens, the picture cloud show, the fish jumping and the birds singing. If it gets hot Blowfish will stop the boat in the deepest coolest water for a refreshing plunge.

This is not our Will.
If our Spaniel is with us then we will beach the pontoons on an island and let him wander contentedly while we swim.  Now, because of the drought, the shoreline is rocky where once it was relatively clear. We stay away from beaching along a mainland as there are new issues here too.   There is a rising  problem of dogs on the loose around the shores.  The  ground is shrinking so there are gaps under the fences allowing the dogs out onto the rocks and into the waters.  Not all of them are  friendly.

Sometimes we go on a "dinner cruise" launching in the late
afternoon and bringing a picnic supper. These are  especially nice outings as the lake is often quiet with little boat traffic and no constant buzzing from the jetskis.  There is a "bird island" which is home to large cranes and herons. Watching them return to their treetop nests for the night is captivating. Once we watch this ritual we head back to the docks . If we have things timed well we have the boat out of the water and onto the trailer in time to enjoy the evening fadeout from blue to orange . Islands become quiet,  trees present as a unified silhouette rather than individual species, the water looks like molten liquid and  I feel  the foreverness which survives mankind and droughts alike.