Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Truth, and the other



I once had a good friend who was a strict vegetarian, though I can't remember whether he based this dietary decision on health concerns or conscience.

In any case, he introduced me to a Chinese restaurant, not in Chinatown, but further south and east. This place served his favorite salad, one with chopped vegetables, spices, and what he believed to be the secret savory ingredient -- sesame.

A lean -- one might say thin, close to emaciated -- man, he ate very little, but he ate this salad once a week and with gusto. Great huge helpings. It made him happy. That he was eating at all made me happy, too. That what he was enjoying wasn't exactly sesame, well...

As a carnivore, I detected the secret ingredient in this salad from the get-go -- bacon. Bits of bacon, so tiny, they were undetectable to the naked eye, and likely a splash of bacon fat in the dressing.

So, you know, I had one of those existential quandaries. To tell or not tell my vegetarian friend what he really liked about these vegetables was, well, meat. On the to-tell side -- the bacon was a fact, a truth, a reality. On the not-to-tell-side -- the guy was happy -- and eating.

Was I wrong to say nothing, bacon-wise?

Oh, probably. My IQ sinks rapidly when answering moral questions.

This quandary recurs throughout our lives, or throughout my life, anyway. When I find a piece of truth, I wonder -- should I put it on the fork, hold the fork to the light, expose something which won't substantially contribute to one day's happiness for anyone, all in the name of truth?

I don't know the answer. I just know, it's something I have not and will not do.

Perhaps I'm aiding and abetting a fool's paradise. But so what -- I like fools, and I like paradise.

Besides, truth is not in short supply. Truth doesn't rot, or die from lack of attention, care, or water. "Truth will out," said someone. Probably Shakespeare, who was able to say everything worth saying, as he got there first. Damn his eyes (he said that, too).

Truth is ample, always there, on the table, waiting; often cold, but never stale. Ready when you are. And equally ready even if you're not.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Oh, you dads


Happy Father's Day. My dad's on the left; a photo taken in 1942. He was about 20 years old, and in the Norwegian underground.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

My tomatoes are a failure



And the zukes and cukes. Let's not even mention the lettuce.

Hardly anything reseeded in the raised beds this year. A little sage, kale (of course), rosemary (always). The Labrador has plumped up nicely -- might be ready to harvest by mid-July or so.

If you've attempted Labradors, you know of which I speak -- they all look the same on the outside. You just don't know whether you've got a sweet one, a sour one, or a real stinker.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Missing Tash



Tash died in May. We didn't know she had died; we didn't even know she was sick. Typical Tash. She was not one to share the downside -- be it irritations or inevitabilities; life or death.

When driving to Tash's memorial service this Friday, we argued about whether or not she was a registered general aviation pilot. Ron said yes, I said no, Petrea was on the fence. We were also absolutely amazed, an hour into the drive, that Tash met us so readily, and without complaint, in Pasadena, at least 20 times over the past five years. Palos Verdes to Pasadena? That's one long and awful drive, and she bit this bullet in major traffic, without once saying what I would have said every time, "I just spent two fucking hours on the freeway to have lunch with you guys. This had better be good."

A most unusual woman, but typical Tash.

Why we didn't know these things, well, here is my Tash-theory.

Tash compartmentalized much of her life, because there was so much of, to it. Tash, the Yugoslavian who landed in Highland Park at the age of 12, knowing not a word of English. Tash, the excellent student, who learned English and earned a scholarship and degree at USC in Engineering. Tash, the aerospace Engineer who worked for Northrup, Boeing, and for a time, in Switzerland. Tash the photographer (we knew this one). Tash the blogger (we knew this one, too), Tash the quilter, hiker, skier, camper, world-traveler, folk singer, musician, voracious reader. And Tash, the mother who on weekends drove with her teen-age son to some god-forsaken area of the desert so Ian could realize his dreams and get his private pilot license.

We three who attended the memorial service never did find out whether Tash flew planes. Shaking hands with her husband and son afterwards, we forgot to ask, or maybe it just didn't seem the right time. We three were among the hundred or hundreds who came to the church by the ocean to say good-bye, and we didn't want to take up too much time or room.

But the thing is, she amassed so many accomplishments in her 56 years -- piloting planes? Entirely plausible. Her list of hoping-to-do, doing, and done, ridiculously impressive.

Maybe Tash attempted and learned so many things in her life because she realized the limitations of time on earth. She was diagnosed with cancer 10 years ago, and as an engineer, and an artist (yes, she was that, too), faced the odds with an unblinking eye.

Life isn't fair. If life were fair, life would give more time to those who explore, savor, and love it most. But life doesn't take such things into consideration.

Her last post on my blog was a year ago. She had dropped out of sight, or our sight. It was a comment about the movie, one I recommended, Dean Spanley. It would help if you'd seen the movie, it would certainly help if you'd known Tash. But neither one is an absolute requirement. Here is what she wrote:

"Hugs from the anteroom of eternity."

Whatever and wherever eternity may be, Tash, I hope to hug you back.






Thursday, June 4, 2015

Natasha Zaninovic



I, we, many of us, first met her through her blog, Palos Verdes Daily Photo. Such a talented photographer. And later, some of us were lucky enough to meet and get to know her, face-to-face. And hear her sing, as well. Oh, what a kind, talented, funny, intelligent, and gentle soul she was. I'm too sad to write anything more just now.

She passed away on May 10th.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Soccer in America

I don't know anything about FIFA, do you? Or soccer, for that matter. Other than, there are guys like this who run it



And guys like this who play it.



And people like us (no picture available) who watch it.

We, as a group, hung out at a pub for the World Cup series last summer. We didn't really understand the finer points -- kicks, goals, flags and such. I'm talking men and women spectators, here -- we all shared the same dark.

"Hey, who won?"

"Someone won?"

"Kazakhstan?"

"Kurdistan?"

"Maybe it started with a Q."

"Quazar? Quickstar? Something like that?"

"Well, someone won. A toast -- beer all around! More pizza?"

But in the end, we all appreciated the same thing, what soccer has to offer. As a sport, dare I say it -- as an art. What these players work, dedicate their lives to, and what we, as barely conscious fans, wait for. That moment, that moment when ...

Luke Burbank pretty much summed it all up, and this is a quote:

"I mean, they're physically so impressive. And then every time they score a goal, they become furious at their jersey. Like it’s ... Damn you, get this off of me. And then their beauty is even more on display. And then I'm like, you know what, hold the second order of wings. Because now I see what it's supposed to look like when you're a hot dude, and it's not happening, not at this Applebee's."