Steamed Rice and You


The week is coming to an end
so on the way back home I
decided I deserved a treat.

I was eager to get back home
so Chinese take-out was my
solution since I ate at home

all week. Steamed rice, chicken
with mushrooms and beef with
broccoli which punches my

beef once a week card. Steamed
rice became steamier and oh so
sensuous as I realized how much

I miss rice and you. Need I say
you more than rice? You more
than anything; which fantasy or

rice can’t satisfy. I’m hoping to
have steamed rice and you
more often.

Odds and Ends No. 68


As strange as it seems, I’m forcing myself
to eat salad. I enjoy eating salad out once
in a while because I don’t have to make it.

But the state of my life demands otherwise.
I eat at home more often than not. My
eating alone habits rarely include salad.

They include soup, sausage, peanut
butter, and the like. A little rice. Or an
occasional pasta that would last most

of the week.  The sausage staple is the
easiest part. Wrap two Polish sausages
in paper towels. Place on paper plate,

microwave for one minute and thirty
seconds. Squirt some mustard on the
plate. Hot, juicy, yummy. Done. But I

had to choke the salad down! Where
did my distaste for salad begin? Come
to think of it, I don’t remember taking

salad in the mess hall during my Army
days. A twenty year salad gap. In
retrospect, there was salad in marriage

and neither fared well. But to be
truthful, my salad with oregano, salt
and pepper, garlic with olive oil and

fifteen shakes of red wine vinegar
remains a favorite. I guess it comes
down to this. Some days are salad days

and some days are not salad days. And
for me, there are fewer salad days by
unconscious choice. I seldom crave a

salad. A rabbit and I have absolutely
nothing in common. Yesterday I bought
two bags of lettuce and five Roma

tomatoes to get myself to eat salad
this week. One salad put me over
the top. After today’s lunch salad, I

rather not think of salad again this
millennia. The tomatoes won’t go to
waste. If I cook a pound of pasta, it

will last a week. Like I said. Then,
I could make a fresh light sauce with
one tomato. I’m gagging thinking about

the lettuce. I measured out an 85 gram
portion like it said. Much too much
lettuce for me. Where does this lead me?

I do remember salad pressure when I
was a kid. My mother would serve a
small bowl of salad before the main

meal. She refused to serve the meal
until everyone finished their salad.
The seeds of salad enmity were sown!

How do I get out of this salad exposé?
After all of this embarrassing salad talk,
but one thing comes to mind.

Let us pray.

Lunch in Kraków


Only the cup of hot tea remained
after a simple meal of two sausages,
sauerkraut, with mustard and a

piece of farmer’s bread. I sat where
I normally sit. Alone at the end of
the kitchen table. As I ate, I was

flipping pages reading about
Moses, Joshua, Philip, and Paul,
which reminded me of meditation

earlier today that took me to a city
I’d never seen filled with beautiful
churches and old world charm.

This amazing city beckoned me as
did my last few sips of tea. When I
spoke, they understood; when they

spoke, I understood. I felt like I was
dressed simply in black and white.
As I drank my tea here, it felt like

I was there admiring St. Mary’s
Church and watching people as they
walked about the square. I took a

last sip and stood up to clear the
table, shaking my head wondering
who would believe such a story?

I lunched in Kraków from here.

Odds and Ends No. 64


It was still dark, but I was happy that
I awakened for another day. I’m
adjusting easier to the coming Fall

than I do to changes in life. I may
die before I figure it out; if I ever
figure it out. My errands were going

so well today, that I decided to get a
rare treat after my last stop. A double
quarter pounder was closest on my

way home. Long drive-thru line. No
hurry. I seldom remember to check
the order and didn’t this time. Well,

I pulled out and got half way home
when I remembered that I forgot to
buy stamps. I was so elated that it

was ten percent off senior day at
the grocery that when the checker
wooed me through the self-checking

area, I totally forgot about the stamps.
I quickly got off at the next left turn,
drove to the first break in the island,

then headed South again to the
nearest store that sells stamps. This
was odd; you pay for them in a regular

checkout line, but none of them have
stamps—they escort you up to the
tobacco service counter to get you

your book of stamps. Back into the
car. Lunch bag is getting cold by now.
I get home, take the few things out of

the car and my lunch and head for the
kitchen. I put the cold fries on a paper
plate and zap them for twenty seconds.

I paid extra for lettuce and tomato.
Took a quick look and zapped the
burger for fifteen seconds. I added

some ketchup. Something didn’t look
right. Not sure what it was. Lettuce,
check. Tomato, check, Pickles, check.

I sat down at the table, opened my
lunchtime read and took my first bite.
That is when it hit me. I paid for a

double, but it was a single. I paid more
for this double than I would for a great
Chinese take-out lunch special from

down the street! Number one, I don’t
return things. Number two, even if I
wanted to the drive was too long, and

I already took a bite out of it. I took a
sip of Coke, calmed down, and blamed
everything from Socrates forward

under my breath between French fries.
But I had to get back to writing my
book, so I had to turn my thinking

around. God is the giver of gifts. So,
the guy behind me in the drive-thru
probably ordered a single and got,

you guessed it—my double.

Odds and Ends No. 57


Trash cans out on Monday nights;
back in on Tuesdays. The blue can
and the green can with its lid open

sticking up in the air are staring at
me through my window. They have
to wait a bit. At eight after one, I

was finishing a late lunch. I made
a specialty grocery run at Sprouts
the other day for a few items. Not

a major shopping event; just a few
things. I treated myself to a package
of three ciabatta rolls. Not on my

list, I justified it by mumbling to my
list, that I live on sandwiches and
deserved a treat. So, today I weighed

out a two ounce serving of sliced
roast beef, sliced open the roll, put
the beef and one slice of provolone

on one side of the bun and a touch
of mayo on the other. Three green
olives. O why not! A few veggie chips.

Then I poured a cup of coffee from
my thermos. Still piping hot from
breakfast. Three turbinado sugars

instead of two. I took my seat at the
kitchen table and opened up my
lunchtime book. I finished the last

bit of this lovely sandwich and “The
Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb”
at the same time wherein rose a

dilemma. This was my thinking. I
used more sugar hoping that it would
dissuade me from eating my usual

dessert. Two or three cookies. Lunch
done; adventure done. Moment of
decision. I lifted the rubber-like cover

off of my mug of coffee and looked in.
A little over half left. Probably over
six ounces. Surely enough for two

tiny weeny cookies. (Be right back.
They are hidden on the third shelf
of my old bookcase.) Hmm. Nice

crunch! I was going to tell you that
I’m not a dipper. And that I don’t dip
anything in coffee or tea. Not one for

floating debris. But as I thought about
it, that is not entirely true. I remember
dipping a plain donut once or twice.

Still don’t like floating debris! Do you
dip? (If you answer “Copenhagen” then
you are obviously reading the wrong

poem. But in the spirit of diversity,
read on.) Let me add. I haven’t smoked
or chewed since on a field exercise in

Germany around 1976. So, why am I
salivating? Cookies will have to do. It
was bad enough having to read about

Sherlock and his before breakfast pipe
habits. (Drat! I miss pipes and cigars,
too!) Do they still make Red Man?

I better go get those trash cans. And,
another cup of thermos coffee. Then
get back to writing my Vietnam memoir.

Odds and Ends No. 51


Today was change toilet seats day.
But I violated my top two rules of
buying retail. I grabbed a cart and

went to a familiar aisle I’d been to
before. I picked up my last three
smoke detectors. Then I went to

the toilet seat aisle to seek out
two replacement seats. I found
the model I was looking for. Only

two left. Retail rule number one:
Don’t buy the last of any item(s) on
on the shelf. I looked high and low.

I pulled them off the shelf. Oddly,
they had the same stock number in
black marker, but the boxes were

different. A curmudgeon of a clerk
turned down my aisle. By the look
on her face I could tell that her

daily plan of customer avoidance
had failed. “How timely,” I said.
She gave her eyeglasses a push

and snarled, “What’s the problem?”
She walked up to my cart and took
out what looked like a Star Trek

tricorder. Retail version. She
scanned both boxes saying, “They
are both the same thing, just

different boxes.” And she walked
away. As I stood there thinking
whether I should violate my retail

buying code, I hoped she went
back to the planet she came from.
Busy day. I had a few more stops,

so I made my way to the cashier.
Three stops later, I was home.
Going on one. Late lunch today!

I was hungry. Sandwich, olives,
and the end of my morning
thermos coffee. Half a mug. I

tasted it for temperature. Not
hot enough. I put a pinch of
Kosher salt in the coffee, then

zapped it for twenty seconds.
I decided no sugar. Added
creamer and took my place at

the table which is always the
same. I ate and continued to
read “Adventure V: The Five

Orange Pips.” Sherlock never
disappoints. One more sip.
That was a good half-a-cup of

coffee! Toilet seat time. Well,
I decided to open the one in
the plain box first. It was still

factory sealed in plastic but
the hinges were different. So,
I looked more closely. It was

the wrong model. Another
thing. The boxes didn’t shake
the same. The wrong model

shook solid; the other made
noise. Something loose inside.
Drat! I violated retail buying

rule number three! How did I
miss that? With trepidation
I opened the one in the right

box, but it makes noise when
you shake it. No plastic wrap.
Open hardware bags and items

loose in the box. What is this?
Not only loose but wrong
hardware; metal instead of

plastic. Someone returned a
“used” toilet seat. Or maybe they
just tried it once. Yuck! Well, I

couldn’t call that store back
because I know I bought the
last two in stock. So, I got on

my laptop and looked up
another store near me. I’ve
been to both. One is ten miles

east of me; another is about
ten miles west of me. I gave
them a call. After a long

complicated recorded message,
I got a customer service rep on
the line. After a short explanation

she said, “Not a problem. We show
seven in stock. One minute, I’ll be
right back.” Once again my US

Army experience came in handy.
I waited. The loud phone music
stopped, I heard a click, and she

said, “Guess what? All of ours are
factory sealed. No tape.” I was out
the door and on the way in five

minutes. I could have kissed her!
“Are you Alan?” I smiled at her as
I approached the counter. I think

the two toilet seat boxes under my
arm were a dead give away. “Cash
or credit card? Credit card takes

three days,” she told me. No brainer.
Cash out, cash in and I was out the
door with the goods. Got home and

got to work. Only needed a 5/8 inch
socket and a screw driver to put the
new ones on. To take the ones off

that came with the house wasn’t
bad but I would have preferred to
have worn a nuclear, biological,

chemical warfare suit, but I didn’t
have one. My other tasks for today?
Tomorrow.