Category Archives: Sam

Basil

I have three big bushes of basil in my backyard. The product of a donation of seedlings from my mom plus a whole lot of watering and protection from anyone who wanted to harvest them too soon. Mom also helped me know the best way to harvest them. When they grow little “towers” with lots of small leaves clustered together in a pole formation that means it’s about to flower. You get more leaves if the plant doesn’t spend resources on flowers, so cut it right then below the regular leaves underneath the tower.

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I left it for a while, and now I have a bit of a bumper crop. On that place is all leaves. The stems and towers are in the bowl. You’ll see some flowers because I don’t trim regularly enough. This is what I kept for myself after filling a takeout chinese container with basil to give to my neighbor. Yes, it’s all from trimming.img_20190818_160953549Now I have the basil in my fridge, soaking in water to kill any insects that may be lurking.

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Believe it or not, my freezer is full of frozen pesto from a time I bought basil at the Durham farmer’s market. Nevertheless, I think that fresh pesto will be welcome while it’s in season. We can enjoy frozen pesto in winter.

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Alaska

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Dinosaur pictures at the Snow City Cafe
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This series is called “Friends and Anachronism”
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A salmon-skin hand-roll
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Reindeer sausage breakfast
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Reindeer sausage hot dog
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A gold panning demonstration. See the flakes at the bottom?
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A Russian immigrant sells themed matryoshka dolls
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My aunt in Maine helped me identify some flowers. This is a rose.
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This is a delphinium. I found them in a landscaped garden, so they may not be native, which would explain why they didn’t appear in lists of Alaska wildflowers.
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Where is the schlubby human entrance?
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Saw a moose on a 25-mile bike ride around the Anchorage coast.
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Kind of disappointing. Not even very big.
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I did eventually find the guy who uses the Fancy Moose entrance
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The fancy otter stood in the shadows and guarded the men’s room.

 

Unpublished Work

Well, I’m in a tricky situation. I want to keep writing my blog every week. I would like that work to relate to other work I’m doing so I can spend the time to do a good job and have it mean something. However, if I pitch my work somewhere the expectation is that it is unpublished. For this reason, I believe I will have to stop publishing my revisions of “Spirit Lifter” to my blog. If for whatever reason I learn that my final draft will not end up under someone else’s copyright, then I’ll post it here. I’ll leave up the earlier drafts and be honest with them that I’m doing so.

Since I’m spending time writing my novel and writing short stories for publication on top of my regular life, it’s getting more demanding for me to pen down further unrelated content on my blog. So, I think that for a while my weekly entries will go back to be low-key descriptions of things happening in my life. Thanks for joining me while this was briefly a writing blog. Perhaps someday it will become so again.

The Sympathetic Universe Part 13

Eloy’s watch read 12:15 PM when they saw the sign for Camp Virtue.  Indeed, they shortly crested a hill and saw cabin lights. The triangle roof of the cabin extended forward out from the main building. A trellis extended across the base of the triangle, three beams rising outward, one straight up, one diagonal to each side, creating an image like a starburst. Almost before Angel finished parking the van, Eloy was out and running to the cabin.

Eloy opened the door.  Sitting on the wide, wooden floor was a young girl listening intently to an old man in an easy chair. The girl had hair long enough to cover her ears. It was messy, but somehow in a way that seemed free rather than unkempt. It was brown at the top, fading to blonde at the bottom. The man looked like he was wearing a scratchy brown blanket held together by a rope tied around his waist, and he was speaking loudly and waving his arms. Eloy had trouble understanding what he was saying through his thick beard.

“Regardez!” said the girl, looking in Eloy’s direction. By this time, Angel had caught up with him, and had shoved through in front.

“Ah,” exclaimed the man, “Bienvenue les amis!”

“I don’t speak French,” Eloy muttered to Angel.

“I would be surprised if you did,” Angel replied matter-of-factly.

Angel and Eloy stared at the man, who stared at the girl.

“Good evening!” said the girl. Her accent was metropolitan American with a hint of southern, no trace of french, “where did you come from?”

Eloy stared. Angel jerked her head in their direction, “you tell us, first.”

The girl’s and man’s eyes widened at Angel’s aggression, but it only took a moment “I’m Eliza Cunningham from Carrboro, North Carolina in the year 2019. This is Gabriel. He’s a monk from thirteenth century France.”

“Bonjour, ah,” he looked back at Eliza and stressing each syllable said, “Hello.”

Eliza smiled back and nodded approvingly. Gabriel put out his fist and without missing a beat Eliza pushed hers to his. In unison, they both withdrew, evidently very pleased at their secret handshake.

Eloy had to consciously close his mouth. Eliza was from the future.

“I’m Eloy,” Eloy offered, “I’m from Richmond, Indiana, 2003.” Eliza beamed, but Eloy figured she did that for everyone. All eyes turned to Angel.

“I’m Angel,” she said, “I’m from Detroit, Michigan, 1975”

“Bienvenue!” exclaimed Eliza.

“Bienvenue!” Gabriel agreed.

Eloy did a double-take in Angel’s direction. She didn’t look like she was from 1975 at all.  Maybe it was just that she wasn’t wearing a disco outfit or a huge afro and she wasn’t washed out like an old TV show.

“Is there someone else with you?” Eliza asked.

Eloy started to look behind him, but Angel growled, “There’s no one behind us, Stupid.”

Eliza continued, “There’s another bed is why I ask. Two double rooms and one room with just one bed. Also, there are five chairs here, if you count the loveseat as two. There are five cups in the cupboard, five each of forks, spoons, and knives.”

“The cabin expects five people,” Angel summarized.

“Yes, the cabin or whoever set it up.”

“All right,” said Angel, “you two have special relationships with God, right?”

She thumped her chest, “I get visions,” she pointed at Eloy, “he gets overprotected.”

Eliza patted her shoulder, “I had a physical conscience that took the form of a grasshopper.”

“You had a Jiminy Cricket?” Angel asked, bemused.

“Yep.” Eliza pointed to Gabriel, “He heard God’s voice when he prayed.”

“Does anybody know why we’re here?” Eloy asked, not expecting an answer.

“Virtue,” Eliza said.

“Beyond that, though.”

Eliza shrugged.

The virtuous thing to do, Eloy knew, was to let someone else have a bedroom all to him or herself, so he volunteered to bunk with Gabriel. He wondered if it netted him additional virtue credit when he quietly endured Gabriel’s snoring.

Breakfast the next day was curious. After her morning calisthenics, Eliza showed him how to get it. Just open the fridge around mealtime, and it was there. Usually it needed some microwaving. It was individually portioned. Exactly four packages of food in tupperware, one for each person. Not five, he noted. To Eloy’s delight, the breakfast sausage and eggs tasted like it had been prepared the night before by hand.

Angel held tight to the keys of the van. She pointed out that it wouldn’t do anyone much good if they drove out to look for civilization and ended up out of gas in the middle of the woods. She was impervious to Eloy’s argument that he appeared in the van first and therefore it was rightfully his and he should get the keys.

Eloy synchronized his watch with Eliza’s amazing phone that did everything. She was the best prepared of all of them. Her grasshopper had instructed her to hold onto a bag of useful supplies as tightly as she could before she disappeared and it had worked. She had a charger for her cell phone and the cabin had outlets. She said her phone could even connect to the internet and use satellites to tell you where you were, but there were no nearby cell phone towers, and apparently no satellites either. Eliza said she would love to synchronize to the central world clock, but she couldn’t without internet, so her time was just a guess. Nevertheless, her phone set the standard for the whole camp. They were on Eliza time.

This continued for a week. For lack of anything else to do, Eloy joined Eliza in her calisthenics routine, struggled to learn 13th century French with Gabriel, and did his best to avoid Angel whenever he could. It wasn’t hard, as she spent most of her time exploring the surrounding area in a systematic attempt to find an escape back home, or at least back to civilization.

At precisely six fifty-seven Eliza time each night, the whole group crowded into the radio room to watch Eliza deliver her broadcast for help at seven o’ clock. “This is Eliza Cunningham. I am here with three other people. We are stranded at a place called ‘Camp Virtue’ near Endurance Peak and seek assistance.” Eloy was irritated that Angel didn’t declare Eliza incompetent and take over that task, too. Apparently he was the only person here that merited so little confidence.

One day, after another tense fifteen minutes of listening for a response, Eliza stood to indicate it was time to leave. As Gabriel in the back turned to leave so everyone else could get out, the radio crackled to life.

“Eliza,” the radio said, “Come in Eliza. Eliza, this is Destiny. Over.”

Bermuda

 

Ridgefield and NYC

Over the weekend I have not had a moment to offer an update. I have been out and about in Connecticut and New York City packing my days with activities. Now I’m in Bermuda and things have slowed down to the point that I can take a little time to report. I have marked statements not meant to be taken as literal fact with “*”.

Ridgefield

A visit to NYC is not complete without a stop in Ridgefield Connecticut to visit my old college roommate, Greg. COVER ART: A somewhat menacing woven tapestry of swans in the Aldrige Museum of Modern Art in Ridgefield.

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Start the day with pancake tacos.
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A lovely little Native American zombie girl* adorns the wall in the Ridgefield magic shop, where Nydia picked up some trinkets to share with her friends at home.
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In the Ridgefield bookstore we learn that Dr. Seuss wrote at least one book for people in their second childhoods as well as his better known books aimed at the first.

 

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Carl Jung’s “The Red Book” gives readers a friendly introduction to the realms of madness of which men do not speak*.

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A tour of Greg’s apartment complex. This is a gym.
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A sweet potato veggie burger wrapped in collard greens at Bare Burger
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A server at Galo moves pasta to a plate from a partly hollowed out Parmigiano Reggiano wheel.

New York City

In NYC we visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Quite a few of the art installments in the East Asia section were just weird rocks
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“What if dew were really big?” (2007)*
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Nazi vase. Just kidding. This is a vase from before 1940.
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Ancient instruments. Proof that music has been going downhill since 2000 BC.*
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The pharaoh nobody likes to talk about*
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“Enormous bird and unlucky human” (c. 1897 BC)*
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Finger and toe caps found in a sarcophagus

Next week: Bermuda!