What If

What if I were suddenly to die tomorrow

Leaving my world in disarray

My family unprepared, my finances a wreck

with no great wise advice passed on to son

No organized legal documents to guide my dearests

Not even having ever mentioned any instructions for disposing of my remains.

Or what kind of words I think should be said as goodbyes

Or even how I might want to be remembered

Or how I think those dearest to me should live the rest of their lives without me.

What if I had plenty of time to prepare yet did nothing.

Advertisements

Writer Love

I’m sure many of you have been part of the unfortunate conversation where you must explain to someone why it is that you like Twitter. So far, I have never been able to adequately explain myself. What I have never mentioned, as I don’t think it would be a meaningful explanation to most, is how important my interaction with writers and writerly-types has been in keeping me interested in Twitter for such a long time.

It might be just an extension of all the writers coming out of the woodwork because of blogging, but I found it amazing how many writers are on Twitter and how quickly I ended up bonding with them. I include in this flexible group the many people that don’t actually work as writers but have had lifetimes of appreciation of the written word or that are so well-rounded that everything they say comes out as such poetry.

I believe part of the reason that writers shine on Twitter is the exercise of fitting something meaningful into the limited character allowance. You need only check the feed of a trending topic to see how awful the tweets are of the average person. If a person new to Twitter were to see such a timeline, rather than my AAA-rated timeline, they of course would think Twitter to be beyond ridiculous and would abandon it immediately.

I’ve always noticed that I seemed to follow an inordinate number of writers but it became much clearer to me recently as I have been experimenting with Google+. While I have not been actively seeking new followers there yet, I did initially follow many Silicon Valley-types as they seemed to be posting great content about this new social media tool. They still seem to be posting great mini-blogs and linking to interesting articles about social media but I am find myself growing increasingly uninterested. I like the occasional helpful article to improve my use of the many online social media tools, but otherwise, I don’t really care that much about being up-to-date on the latest online trends.

Sadly, I have noticed some of my favorite writing folk are posting much less lately, maybe growing bored with the medium. I wonder if I would stick around if most of them were to leave the Twitter. Probably not.

Powerfully Subtle Surprise

I had a great day walking in the sunshine in a very beautiful spot not 30 minutes from my house. I consider myself lucky to have had a day off with perfect weather and a lower pollen count, allowing me to have a wander with my favorite person and our trusty sidekick, Sandy. For the first time since I’ve moved to Las Vegas, I got a chance to see a Desert Tortoise (Nevada’s state reptile after all) in it’s natural habitat. Unbelievable that it can survive in the desert.

Most of these photos will seem clichè to a Vegas person, but it’s what we have to work with.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Unbelievable Leftovers

Before you yawn and move on, please hear me out!

A half an hour before I left for work yesterday, my wife said she was in the mood for some Yum Woonsen. Because I knew we had all the ingredients to make it, I told her I would prepare the base and she could mix it together right before I arrived home from work. Well, I went a little overboard and prepared too much of certain ingredients, so we had some perishable items leftover such as stock, as well as the cilantro and limes. I wanted our lunch today to use these ingredients so as I prepared to make some kind of stir-fry noodle dish, I took a left turn and decided to try improve on a paella experiment I recently conducted, the Thai-style paella.
I’ve never liked the term fusion applied to music or food, but ironically do engage in the fusion in both hobbies.

I didn’t keep track of measurements so this won’t quite be a recipe. The only strict measurement that must be followed is the 2:1 measurement of liquid to rice.

Here’s what I did:
I had about 1 1/2 cups of shrimp stock (made with shells, onion, garlic, bay leaf, and celery).

In a pan I fried up diced red pepper, shallots about a half pound of scallops and a third pound of ground chicken, all leftovers. I had some dried mushrooms so I added those (shittake, oyster, lobster and woodear)

I took the stock and added Thai fish sauce and lime juice and water until I had 2 cups of liquid.

Once the chicken and scallops were browned, I added the liquid as well as some saffron and shredded coconut. (Coconut milk would have been better, but I didn’t have any). When this liquid came to a boil I added Calrose rice.

Reduce heat and cook for about 30 minutes, turning the pan around to make sure it cooks evenly. About halfway through, I added chopped cilantro to the top. When I serve it, I will squeeze lime juice over top.

I’ve had so much fun cooking the last couple of days! My first key lime pie came out so great. I need to give it away lest I eat the whole thing.

 

Renaissance

It was a month spent mostly lying on my back on the floor. If I were to make up a story of discovery (or re-discovery; I haven’t figured out which this is yet), I would most certainly come up with a more romantic or elegant series of events probably involving some grand or deified figure leading my awakening. No. This is just about me, all alone on the floor in someone’s library. When I finally did get up and return to the real world of uprightness I had been transformed for the better.

Okay, I might be fudging a bit. The married couple whose house I was staying in for that summer surely had a hand in this transformation if only indirectly; it was their library with their particular collection of books that inspired me to revisit my intellectual and emotional self, long abandoned while I experimented and struggled with teenage conformist attitudes and behaviors. While I should respect their privacy I also want to share my feelings for them, so here follows a piecemeal introduction to them.

She is a very important friend to me and at certain times in my life, my most trusted confidante. I’m not sure of her age, but I’m pretty sure there is a 38-45 year age difference between us. She always insisted, in fact still insists to this day, that I have the soul of a teacher and wonders when I will grow up and accept that. Although she had at that time only known me as her student for a couple of months, she trusted me enough to babysit her daughter (my same age) for a couple of weeks, so that she wouldn’t be lonely or frightened in this rather large house. Her trusting me flattered me then and amazes me today. I still do not understand what made her see any potential in what was a very rough and tumble me back then and how we came to be such kindred spirits and close friends. I have very fond memories of the one thing that we enjoyed doing together above all else; making a pitcher of gin and tonic and listening to a symphony or two while lounging around in that library.

Her husband, while not as friendly to me, is an amazing man and responsible for stocking that library that so inspired me. He spent most of his life as a teacher and administrator but when I knew him he served as a specialist in desegregation, traveling constantly to work as a consultant with school boards and to serve as an expert witness in discrimination trials relating to school policy and districting. He is a Quaker and was a Conscientious Objector during World War II.

They took extended vacations during the summers, usually some type of Edu-tourism travel planned by Oberlin College for its alumni. I became caretaker of their home while they were away. I still don’t know exactly why, but I would get this awful back pain when I stayed in their house and it could be quite debilitating. I was convinced that it was caused by drinking the softened water, and I might have been right. In any case, the only way to feel relief from this awful back pain was to lay flat on my back on the floor.

The summer of the first house-sitting coincided with what was to me the end of MTV as anything I could stomach. I was quite addicted to the original format of somewhat mediocre videos but of music that I loved. During this summer, the transformation of MTV to more of a commercial format, (I remember Madonna, Michael Jackson and Cyndi Lauper) made it unwatchable to me. I had already begun to listen to symphonic and opera records in the library, but now I immersed myself in all the music from her collection in the library which included much jazz from the 50s and many of the original bossa nova recordings. This was the beginning of me completely losing interest in pop/commercial music and it still seems to be holding true today.

I was barely working at the time so I had many hours of day to fill listening to music. After a week or so of listening to so much music, it really started to tax my brain. While listening, I started looking at the big beautiful books about art that seemed to cover every available surface in the room. I remember books by the recognizable, well-know-to-me artists and also enjoyed learning about men unknown to me at the time, Romare Bearden, Paul Klee, Robert Rauschenberg, Jackson Pollock, etc. (I was less than a year later to meet Rauschenberg sitting at an adjacent table in a Captiva Island restaurant and had a brief chat with him about fishing). There was only so much I could absorb from these art books, though as I didn’t have a strong enough interest to read the full text of them.

Also while listening to music, I would scan the titles from the spines of the library’s books. I hadn’t read anything other than assigned school work since I was thirteen (although I had been a voracious reader as a child) so I was not immediately drawn in. I started to read some Civil Rights era non-fiction titles that caught my eye and enjoyed learning about that period that was barely spoken of in high school. I discovered travel books relating to the many trips my friends had taken over the years so I learned about many European and Asian capitals and felt a never-before felt desire to want to see these places for myself. I probably learned more facts in that one month spent on the floor than I had in three years of high school.

The strongest impression I have of that month on the floor was the beginnings of my love for literary fiction. I believe Rabbit Redux was the first book I attempted (although I stopped midway after I realized it was the second in the series and started Rabbit Run). I breezed through the many paperbacks on the shelf probably at a pace of 3-4 books a weeks, I couldn’t get enough. This voracious reading would continue almost uninterrupted for the next ten years, I believe to the detriment of my musical training as I would often choose to curl up with a book rather than practice my instrument.

Experimental Paella

I know many of you are thinking “if miguel mentions that dang paella again Imma slap him upside the head.” For the rest of you, I’m going to be trying out my new paella cooking station and new pan. I have some non-traditional ingredients I will be trying out today just because I need to get rid of them. So, the following will be my ingredients today.

  1. Garlic-already soaking in Spanish Olive Oil
  2. Salt,black pepper,paprika, Laurel leaves,Saffron and Sassafrass
  3. Shrimp exoskeleton stock
  4. Chicken Stock (already prepared)
  5. Onion, Red Pepper, Green Bean, Carrot, Celety and Okra
  6. Andouille Sausage
  7. Shrimp, Squid, Cuttle-Fish Balls, Scallops, Cockles, Mussels, King Crab Claws
  8. Calrose Rice (or maybe Risotto rice)

I am making quite a large portion and if it comes out well I plan on calling some friends to come over and have a plate or fill a tupperware up. I’m thinking of posting pictures here throughout the day, maybe even ustream part of it (but that would be silly).

Wish me luck!

Fetish

This post will serve purely to mollify the intense guilt (or is it regret?) I am feeling for having missed one day of my promised postaday February. The voice in my head that won out last night was the lazy one; the one telling me that readers could really use a break from me. After all, it is probably a sense of fraternity that brings people here to read or perhaps a curiosity as to whether I’ll be mentioning testicles yet again that I attribute to a remarkably healthy readership. (As in, anyone). Also, I’m afraid of having the reputation of someone who doesn’t honor their commitments this close to the most hallowed of all holidays.

If you’ve never experienced a lingual fetish around a certain syllable, then the following will probably be of no interest to you.
I love sound of the “L” as Russians say it; especially when saying my name; especially when the speaker is female. There is probably a Linguist’s term for this syllable but as an L sound with the tongue sticking too long to the bottom of mouth and causing a darkening of speaker’s voice. So my name comes out: Mee-gue-oo-ull. Brrrrrr! Cold Stone Slavic Sexy. The Mallorquines also have this particular L sound in their palette, albeit less sexy, more girl-next-door. They used to call me Miquelette (Mee-ke-ullll-et)

On a related note: Also love how the Brazilians pronounce the name of their country: Not an L at all
Bda-zee-oo

Brazilian Portuguese is so beautiful, I wish to learn it one day.