Rain! Beautiful glistening globules of water are floating down from the sky outside my door. On the news they were saying there was a call to pray for rain the night before the first drop fell. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
What we know as opposed to what we do not know about our universe would most likely be like comparing a kumquat to a watermelon. If I get to thinking about such things, the very fact that the earth rotates at the speed it does on its axis without flinging us all off into outer space is amazing enough for me. Even with the outside chance one might run into George Clooney while floating around out there, I still prefer to keep myself firmly planted in my little acre of the world leaving the zero gravitational floating about to others.
I was saddened to hear about yet another Hollywood casualty attributed to drugs. Phillip Seymour Hoffman, such a fan of his work. What a waste of a perfectly good human being. Someone was saying to me why would a man with so much, risk it all to do drugs? Drug abuse is not limited to those individuals born into low income families. Addicts are addicts, whether they receive their mail on a toney street in Palos Verdes or in a block of rusty boxes in a tenement in the Bronx. Addiction bites with the same vengeance rich or poor. If anything, if you think about it, those blessed with larger bank accounts also have more ready funds to purchase the drugs making it all the easier to perpetuate their lifestyle.
Another unsettling news bit was the unveiling of the “Biggest Loser”, Rachel Frederickson who whittled herself down from being unhealthily overweight to looking essentially anorexic. Wasn’t anyone paying attention? Good Lord, the emaciated woman looked like she hadn’t had a meal since Thanksgiving. Even the trainers not directly involved in this transformation looked disturbed. She went from 260 pounds to 105 in record time, basically dropping a human being from her frame. If she’s healthy, that’s quite a success story, but often when you drop one addiction another one scurries in to take its place.
What’s going on over in Sochi is interesting. Apparently guests staying in the hastily erected hotels can’t drink the water, which looks more like a urine sample so it’s probably not that tempting, and were cautioned not to get the liquid near their faces because it contains “something bad”. Hmmmm. Also, they keep airing a picture of a bathroom with double occupancy and no partition in between the two toilets. That’s not good. I believe I’d book a flight home. This too could be risky as there are warnings terrorists may be using toothpaste containers to house explosives. Our world is truly getting smaller and more dangerous.
Normally, I only watch the news for the highlights of what’s going on around me and the weather. Not that I’m not interested in our world, but the media tends to saturate you with all the misery, making it nearly impossible to put your pants on and begin your day.
Rain beating on the roof always spurs me into action. In the blink of an eye I’ll have cleaned the refrigerator, changed the sheets and constructed an Ark. Perhaps it was growing up in Nova Scotia where fog and wet weather were not uncommon companions, but I find rain comforting, even cozy. Particularly now, naturally, when it brings with it at least some relief from the relentless dry pervading the state.
I’ve actually been doing some work. I know. It’s on a volunteer basis before you get too excited, but it is utilizing the skills I used when I actually drew a paycheck so I believe that counts. As we stick around longer and with all the Baby Boomers approaching retirement or fully immersed in it, I would imagine people will continue working long after the original cut off date to keep themselves involved and vital, and something beyond Fancy Feast on the table.
A friend said the other day she didn’t like her job, and she worked with several idiots who made her life miserable. And your point would be? Certainly looking back at the extensive resume I amassed over the years (with 37 moves on my belt I store this in a shoe box), I probably count count maybe one-third of those as jobs I woke up excited to be a part of.
One of my favorite stories is my time at the feed and grain in Arkansas. It was a temp job. I arrived at the allotted time, dressed appropriately for what I deemed the cows would respond to. Driving through the open gates I found a large industrial compound including office space with a huge attached hangar-like building used as a warehouse, and numerous grain silos. The perpetual aroma of livestock and all that entails lingered in your nostrils from the livestock auctions I was to learn were held regularly across the street.
Once introduced, I was taken to my station, a small desk toward the back of the building butting up against the warehouse. To the left of the desk was what looked like something a crane operator might sit in. There were three windows, one facing out, two going at an angle back toward the building. Several levers, and a microphone completed the picture. I was given a manual with all the items sold, and instructed to learn the items and the codes as they were coded on the cash register. For instance, sorghum might be sgm. Great. Certainly my knowledge of cattle feed wasn’t exactly up to par.
Using the two levers one could propel forward into the customer lane to take orders, or backward to return to your desk. The microphone, not my friend I would come to find, was where the local farmers would scream their orders for, well feed and grain. It was difficult to understand at best, but when you’re dealing with deep southern accents it adds a bit of whimsy to the pot.
A huge man pulled up in a truck in overalls. In the flat-bed were four fat piggies purchased across the street. I pushed the lever to go out and listened as he spoke. He wanted a huge amount of what I took to be “hog cone”. Looking frantically down my list I found hog cn. Sounds good. I pushed the button sending the order out to the warehouse and waved he and his piggies goodbye.
Shortly he and the warehouse manager were standing in my office. The farmer now irate was asking me if I was deaf. Oh-oh. I was debating on whether to say yes because he didn’t look happy, but nodded in the negative. “Cone’, he was yelling at me. “I gave you cone”, says I. Exasperated he took of his hat and pointed in the direction of the silo marked CORN. Ahhhhh, why didn’t you say so? During the time I worked there my southern counterparts got quite a kick out of me, giving me a going away party on my departure with a cake featuring a picture of a hog cone. Right.
Anyhow, these tomatoes remind me of growing up. Often they were served as a side with pork chops or a couple of poached eggs perched on top. Delish.
Crispy Pork Cutlets with Stewed Tomatoes with Basil Croutons
Crispy Pork Cutlets
4 pork loin chops, pounded
1/3 cup half and half
2 large eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. salt
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
Trim chops and pound thin. Mix together half and half, eggs, garlic powder, paprika, dry mustard, peppers and salt. Place in large resealable bag. Add chops and squish around to cover. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
Mix together Panko and Italian breadcrumbs. Coat chops with crumbs.
Heat oil over med-high heat. Cook chops until crispy and brown on both sides (about 6 mins. per side). Drain on paper towels. Serves 4.
Stewed Tomatoes with Basil Croutons
1 loaf of artisan bread, cubed
1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp. garlic salt
2 tsp. basil
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In large lidded bowl place all ingredients but salt and pepper. With lid secured shake vigorously to coat bread cubes. Cover large cookie sheet with tin foil and spray with cooking spray. Distribute bread cubes in single layer on sheet.
Bake for 15-20 mins. turning several times until crunchy golden brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired.
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large green bell pepper, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. Roma tomatoes, diced
1 1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add green pepper and onion and cook 5-7 mins. until vegetables are tender. Add garlic to skillet and cook 1 min.
Add tomatoes and seasonings to skillet and cook, stirring frequently for 7 mins. Pour into shallow casserole sprayed with cooking oil. Stir in croutons mixing well. Top with Parmesan cheese.
Bake for 40 mins. until browned and bubbly.