Little Ollie Lake
The big sky needs space to be appreciated.
Summer clouds roll in strong and threatening.
Only a sprinkle, fooled again.
"Batty shall not live by breadsticks alone!"
This has been a tough year. Things in general have always seemed to have contrived to play themselves out in a bit of a downturn. Too many goodbyes, not enough hellos. Missed opportunities, misunderstandings- add this malaise has even started to affect my food.
Eating out always contains opportunities for disappointment. After all, even the simplest meal is usually composed of many disparate elements, any one of which can sabotage the intended effect. And unless one opts for a high-end dining experience, the tendency for a chef to "play it safe" causes sins of omission, not commission.
I had a calzone at a chain restaurant recently, it was served with "marinara", which was really just tomato sauce. No spices, no adornments, nothing. I have really considered bringing along a small vial of minced garlic and a packet of oregano to just these kinds of places. I like tomatoes as much as anyone, but com'on, let us have some life's variety of which spice is the!
Last night, I ordered a chicken-mushroom-swiss sandwich at another establishment. My choices of a side dish were: kettle chips, french fries, or coleslaw. Coleslaw gets perfunctory treatment at most places, but I like it anyway, even the plainest slaw lightens and complements almost any food. I ordered the coleslaw, but a few minutes later the waiter returned to inform me that they were "out" and would I like fries or chips instead?
Not exactly what you could call an equivalent. I passed, and chose to forgo (after all, I am trying to lose some weight!) any side dish whatsoever. When my sandwich did arrive it came nestled in a bed of french fries. Of course. The one (only?) thing I may have learned about nutrition in all my years is this: NEVER, EVER, EAT FRENCH FRIES! It is the Devil's food, poison and wrong on so many levels. And one should never eat anything with eyes, right?
Every few minutes the waiter came over and asked: "Is there anything else you might want?" I managed to squelch the voice inside me which was shouting: "Coleslaw! Coleslaw! I must have my slaw or I will perish!" I finished my sandwich (you couldn't really call it a meal- it didn't have any sides) and pushed the offending plate of fries to the end of the table. Just then the waiter came back with a bowl of coleslaw! "The chef made up some fresh!" And it was. Crispy cabbage and carrots, with just the right touch of mayo and vinegar. Yes! Yes! Yes! My life has been redeemed!
Now if only I had remembered to bring the garlic!
In an exclusive FITK scoop, Professor Batty's clandestine industrial espionage team has uncovered the complete specifications of the much-rumored Apple™ iPad™ computer tablet. Secret operatives in China, Cupertino and West Saint Paul, Minnesota, have pieced together scraps of evidence into a dossier with all of Apple's secrets.
The list of features is long, but I thought I'd share a few of the more innovative ones with my faithful readers :
iStink™. Micro-ampules of essential oils are transmitted, via a set of inconspicuous nose plugs to enhance movies, videos, ads and more. Imagine clicking on a restaurant's home page and being able to smell the different menu items! This feature will premiere with a screening of John Water's Polyester!
Teeth Whitener™. Just set the screen at 100% brightness and hold it up to your open mouth. A whiter smile in only 10 days.
iGuru™. Ask it a question and the iPad™ will scour a giant philosophical database, giving you answers to any moral dilemma you may encounter.
Comic Strip™. You are inserted into the daily funnies; just watch the hilarity ensue when little Billy from The Family Circus finds out that he has a cyber-stalker- YOU!
Cyber-thighmaster™. Place the iPad™ on the offending flesh and watch as the cellulite melts away.
Friendster with Benefits™. I'm still testing that application.
Muffin Warmer™. Not to be confused with the previous two apps, the pad will run so toasty that you'll be able to have warm buns anytime you'd like.
I think you get the idea. This gadget will change life on earth as we know it.
I'd pick up a few shares of Apple stock if I were you.
The Liguistics of Food
indefinite articles = salt and pepper?
verbs = vegetables?
nouns = grains, potatoes, starches?
pronouns = meat, nuts and legumes?
adjectives = sauces?
adverbs = spices?
Mondays In Iceland - #11 in a Series
Fríkirkjan, Reykjavík, 2006
There is that brief moment: when the last chord has faded, when the applause has stopped, when the show is over. Some patrons, keen on a fast exit, hurry out- perhaps to an after-party. Others talk among themselves, comparing mental notes and reactions.
A few remain quiet and still; reliving the experience again in memory; not ready to let the mists of time dissipate it; one more moment of sweet oblivion.
An old man stands in the doorway, savoring his moment.
Photo by 1541
Funky Forest Friday
I am not one to often post video links but this one is the exception which proves the rule. Not safe for work, play, or your mental stability.
5 Seconds of Fame
My eldest appeared recently on BBC America, in a feature about a forestry conservation project in Yosemite National park. That's him, with clipboard in hand, surveying and tagging trees in a small section of the park.
Those of you interested in Flippism (Flipism) may find this item to be of interest.
Hats off to the real scientist in the family.
The Big Dig
C'mon down to the big dig
You can't get around the big dig
C'mon to the big dig
Ya can't get around the big dig
Singin' the busted sewer line blues
~ with apologies to Captain Beefheart
It is only fitting that after my previous post about domicile decay that I discovered that the physical plant of Flippist World Headquarters is in the dire need of immediate attention. The 100+ year old sewer line is a tangled mess of cracks and tree roots. I've been dodging this issue for 25 years - the time has come for an overhaul. I've removed the retaining wall and the plants behind them in preparation for this morning when a crew will dig up the front yard and replace the truly scary old line (I've seen the sewer-cam video) with shiny new white PVC.
Ah! The joys of home ownership!
No one has a perfect life. In fact, some lives are like slow-motion train wrecks.
I saw the HBO film Grey Gardens starring Drew Barrymore and Jessica Lange last Saturday. It was based on the original 1975 documentary by the Maysles brothers. This true story of two reclusive women living in a decaying house in the Hamptons is a haunting examination of life, aging, and missed opportunities. What really got to me was how the house and its furnishings became a character in its own right. As a homeowner who has struggled with keeping a cedar-shake covered home in repair, the situation had a very personal meaning for me.
How are our lives are shaped by the place where we dwell? When does comfort turn into claustrophobia? When does the familiar become oppressive? Big Edie and Little Edie, the two women, become oblivious to the squalor over the years. When their relative Jackie Onassis comes to see them they behave as if everything is perfectly normal, as if they were still in the Hamptons social scene of the 1930's and 40's.
Any one who has dealt with aging parents knows how hard the transition to old age can be. This film can give every viewer a new perspective to this universal situation.
Mondays In Iceland - #10 in a Series
A not-so-big house.
How I Didn't Spend My Autumn Vacation
When no one steps on my dreams Big dreams don't often come true.
There'll be days like this
When people understand what I mean
There'll be days like this
When you ring out the changes
Of how everything is
Well my mama told me
There'll be days like this...
Sometimes the little ones don't either.
Waiting in my email in-box when I returned from my vacation was a note from Icelandair. Our tickets for an October trip to Iceland were now worthless. The airline had cut back on its service; the last return flight to Minnesota would be the Monday before we were slated to leave. I had wanted to catch Iceland Airwaves again, see some theatre, with a day-trip to Gljufrasteinn or Snæfelsness thrown into the mix. I checked out going via Boston but it would increase the cost of the trip by an additional 50%, and entail spending two extra days in airports, airplanes and hotels. I just couldn't swing it.
I've tried before to explain the appeal of a long week-end in Iceland. Many people just can't see what I could find to sustain my interest there. That's OK, I've got fears (proven justified) of dubious vacations as well. Maybe my last trip to Iceland, my third time, was truly the proverbial charm which couldn't be duplicated again: there or anywhere. Maybe I'll put Iceland on the shelf for a while, maybe spend next summer in the Westfjords. Or maybe later, when things have settled down over there. Maybe, maybe, maybe. That sounds like rationalizing, I admit it, but I don't have much else to go on right now. Maybe someday I'll be singing the same song, but a different verse:
When it's not always raining
There'll be days like this
When there's no one complaining
There'll be days like this
When everything falls into place
Like the flick of a switch
Well my mama told me
There'll be days like this
~ Van Morrison, Days Like This
P.S. When I posted this, this Google ad was on the confirmation page:
How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part IV
The final day of my summer vacation was a day spent in the neighborhood, doing a house tour.
This annual event is done to raise money for the historical society, although I think its primary function is to let people snoop in other peoples houses and gardens.
This year it was held my part of town: no mansions, just plenty of old houses, some were restored, most with a long way to go.
These were humble treasures- an old candy store made into an inviting screen porch, several bower-like patios and gardens; there was even a beautiful parquet floor, unearthed from
beneath layers of linoleum and carpeting:
This kitchen, circa 1913, even had the original decals on the cabinet doors:
Afterwards, I didn't feel quite so bad about Flippist World Headquarters. Our house was a pit when we moved in, it's comfortable and snug now, although there is still plenty to do, especially when company is coming.
~ Batty the Snoop
How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part III
Case Study: Love on the Rocks
I was somewhere on the Caribou Ridge trail, I had been hiking for hours, mostly up and down, or side to side, seldom from point A to point B. Point B was the fabled Rose Lake staircase portage and falls, which looked to be about 2 miles on the map but after two hours of strenuous effort was still over three hours away. I was resting on a boulder along side yet another portage when I heard voices coming from further on down the trail:
"...so I got sick of being the only one trying to make the relationship work- I mean she could have at least made an effort! I wanted it to succeed, really!"
Nothing like the great Northern wilderness as a backdrop for rehashing a divorce.
His hiking partner, a woman evidently not his ex, seemed a little fatigued by his monolog- or was it just the hike? I gave them a nod as they walked by, he was still talking. A few minutes later another couple came down the trail, evidently they thought it prudent to keep their distance.
Dr. Batty, wilderness therapist
How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part II
Wilderness log- day 2, Poplar Creek, near the Gunflint Trail
I put in a small creek, just west of the Lima Grade Road. My small canoe could barely float in the shallow stream, I was hugging the shore at times, going from side to side, wherever the water flow was the greatest. A few hundred yards upstream I came to a small beaver dam. I knew then that my navigation woes were over. Stepping on top of the dam, I quickly pulled my craft over and began paddling up a much deeper stream, which widened into a beautiful bay:
There were families of ducks and, on the boulders which punctuated the water's surface, painted turtles were sunning themselves. This pleasant area soon gave way to a narrower stream, going for perhaps two miles, until another, much larger beaver dam blocked my way- for only a minute. Over I went into the wind-whipped waters of Lace Lake where a solitary dock meant I had left the wilderness, in a few days time, I'd be back in The Lost Forest, with a pipe in hand, my faithful dog Andy at my side, and Cherry in arms...
How I Spent My Summer Vacation - Part I
Dear diary, I just got back from my summer vacation. We did lots of fun stuff like swatting skeeters and hiking miles and miles of wilderness trails.
This was the sign to our cabin.
Wednesday night dad took all us kids to a special kind of restaurant called a "roadhouse." There were lots of cool guys with beards and tattoos and motorcycles there. I think dad liked the waitress, he was smiling at her A LOT! Mom stayed at the cabin.
The next day I saw a bear, some flowers, and a duck. that's all for now...
Fridays in Iceland
Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavík, 2004
Thursdays in Iceland
Graffiti, Reykjavík, 2004
Wednesdays in Iceland
School, Reykjavík, 2004
Tuesdays in Iceland
Snæfellsnes, near Langaholt, 2004
Mondays in Iceland - #9 in a Series
Bolstaðarhlið 8, Reykjavík, 2004
Essentials for a Wilderness Vacation
Book: Betty and Veronica, a Comparative Study of Nymphomania and Frigidity in Teenage Comic Book Characters by P.Batty
Grass Skirt, large
Coconut Shell Bra, (Men's C)
Musical Comedy DVD: Sylvia Plath! All Singing! All Dancing!
Fish Net Stockings
Cranberry Gommage Exfoliator
hmmm... Is there anything I've forgotten?
You Gotta Serve Somebody
Is your world analog or digital?
Jóhann Jóhannsson Redux
Mid-week concerts make for an early wake-up call.
Jóhann Jóhannsson, Icelandic composer extraordinaire, paid us in Minnesota a visit Tuesday night. In the moldering Southern Theater, an old vaudeville house in the West Bank area of Minneapolis, this sextet performed work from three of his albums, Englabörn, IBM 1401, a Users Manual, and Fordlandia, his latest. This is not music for those with an attention deficit disorder. Repeated themes with a mix of strings and electronica sounds duller than it was. Sometimes you have to suffer a bit before getting a release.
The biggest problem with this approach always seems to be getting the right balance between the electronic and the acoustic instruments. There were some difficulties , but overall it worked fairly well, despite a persistent hum (ground loop?) High point of the concert being Melodia (Guidelines for a Space Propulsion Device based on Heim's Quantum Theory) from Fordlandia. The crowd was enthralled and demanded an encore; Jóhann's haunting Odi et Amo. No harmonium this night, but worth it all the same...