Monday, February 28, 2011

CLAM CHOWDER


Another wintry day meant another hot soup waiting for me after a day at work. This time it was the aforementioned clam chowder. It was one of the best bowls of chowder I've ever had. The clams were plentiful but not overpowering. The potatoes were firm but yielding. The broth was milky and neither too thick nor too thin. The bacon in it made it to die for. And, like The Wife's Guinness Beef Stew, The Wife's Clam Chowder was a great partner for Deschutes Brewery's Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale.

Friday, February 25, 2011

GUINNESS BEEF STEW & ALE


The Wife told me that I would be coming home after driving in the snow and ice to a hot steaming bowl of clam chowder. I thought about that clam chowder all day at work.

When I arrived home, the house smelled of stew. I was confused.

The Wife told me that she knew that I loved stew, so she made a big pot of it for me. She figured I would like it even more than chowder. She was right.

I had two large bowls of Guinness beef stew—Guinness stout broth, beef, carrots, potatoes, green peas—and a pint of Deschutes Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale, my favorite session beer. The bitterness of the beer played nicely with the stew. In fact, the flavors of the stew enhanced the bitterness of the hops, making the ale more leafy and piney than it is otherwise. It was a great start to a wonderful evening in a warm home.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

WINTER


Winter reminded us that it was still in charge. The sun peeked out for most of the day, but the temperatures were chilly and the breeze biting.


Sun, clouds, and winter sky filtered through sunglasses.

Monday, February 21, 2011

AIR FORCE ONE

The Troy's Work Table family headed up to Seattle's Museum of Flight on Presidents' Day. We marveled at the short span of time from the flight of the Wright brothers to the current day of jumbo jets and spacecraft. The best part, however, was getting to board the plane that served as Air Force One for presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Lyndon, and Nixon on Presidents' Day!


SAM970 flew under the call sign "Air Force One" for four sitting U.S. Presidents.


Buttons and switches galore.


SAM970 has a fascinating history, having flown four U.S. Presidents, as well as Soviet premier Nikita Khruschev on a tour of U.S. cities and Secretary of State to secret meetings with the Viet Cong in Paris during the Vietnam War.


The stars and stripes on the tail of SAM970.


TWT and SAM970 on Presidents' Day.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

NOT FORGOTTEN



The Republican attacks on funding for Planned Parenthood have ripped open an old wound for me. I have never dealt with or received services from Planned Parenthood or any other organization that provides reproductive counseling to women or families. Even so, I felt as though these mostly aging white males and I were at war with one another.

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The Wife and I suffered two pregnancies that ended in miscarriage. Two children never to be born. Two children who died late in the first trimester. Two children never, in some sense, known, although loved.

The Child and I found ourselves at Woodbine Cemetery on a winter day filled with sun and cold. We found ourselves at the Good Samaritan bench for those who have lost children to miscarriage or stillbirth. We paused and stood in the sunlight and the cold breeze, the sting of both letting us know that we were alive in a realm of the dead.

"Why are we here, Dad?"

And then the explanation of lost siblings tumbled forth.

"Well, I'm glad they're dead. I don't want brothers and sisters."

I felt rage rise within me, rage that was already present and manifest as I thought of out-of-touch old men with money and position and influence telling women what they would not and could not do with their bodies, claiming a moral high ground because the issues they were attempting to legislate would never affect these same old men. They were distanced by power and wealth and gender.

I paused and let the raw honesty of The Child wash over me, flow and then ebb away again. I stood firm against its waves.

"Let's not be glad they're dead," I finally spoke in a quiet and calm voice. "You can be thankful about being an only child, but don't be glad that those who would have been your brothers or sisters are dead."

---

The Child had as much right to The Child's thoughts as I did to mine. I had to honor that, but in a truthful and gentle way that also expressed the pain that I felt when people said things about those two children that they didn't have any right to say.

"It's all for the best."

"God has a couple of angels in heaven now."

"You can try again."

"Well, at least you already have a child."

In those moments, I am usually quiet as the words "Fuck you" come to the forefront of my thoughts and I hold them back at the locked gate of my clenched teeth and white lips.

---

The Child, if anyone, besides The Wife and I, does have a right to speak of these two lost children. They would have, and perhaps do, influence the life of The Child in ways known and unknown.

---

Still.

---

We stood for a few more moments in the sunlight and winter wind staring at the memorial bench, next to one another, silent.

Then, I spoke. I spoke of what those two children meant. About possibilities and joy that turned to dead ends and sorrow. About how our life as a family, as individuals, would have been different, without knowing how, without defining to what extent.

I spoke in language that The Child would understand but that also conveyed what I felt about life and death; lost children; abortions; reproductive health care for women; gender inequalities; loving the neighbor as one's self, which means that one must love one's self first.

"I'm sorry, dad."

We stood there for a few more moments.

"I know you are."

I am too.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

PUYALLUP

Troy's Work Table and The Child wandered around our wonderful hometown of Puyallup in the sun and cold this morning and afternoon.


Three of the twenty-three Daffodil Princesses read to kids and their parents at Puyallup Public Library's family storytime, which is held each Saturday morning.


"The Future Dreaming" by Kevin Pettelle in Pioneer Park, or, as my friend's son refers to him, "Moon Boy."


The clock tower of Puyallup Public Library.


Public Library!


The Washington state flag, flying in a brisk breeze.


The glass bird panel of the "Market Bouquet" sculpture by Cheri O'Brien and Pat McVay in the Puyallup Public Library parking lot.


Multi-functional Stop [The War] sign on Puyallup's South Hill.


TWT and The Child visit a dying brand, this being it's South Hill location.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

THE DEATHLY HALLOWS

Yesterday, The Wife and The Child spent eight hours reading, finishing the final book in the saga they began mere months ago. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (book number seven) is now completed, placed upon the coffee table once again.

The Wife and The Child both looked exhausted when I arrived home from a late night at work, but they also seemed to glow with joy and accomplishment.

As each book grew in size from the one that preceded it, the amount of time spent to read it diminished, an inverse proportion fueled by time and imagination and engagement. The Wife and The Child now speak in a vocabulary and grammar of characters, settings, and plots that I cannot possess, will not possess, as they do. They share secret things. I am happy for both of them. I share their joy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

WE, THE DROWNED

"Many of us Marstal boys had lost a dad at sea. Our fathers were often away. But then sometimes, out of the blue, they'd be gone forever. Often away and gone forever: the two phrases marked the difference between having a living father and a dead one. It wasn't a big difference, but it was big enough to make us cry when no one was looking.
—page 56, We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen

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"The Thrashing Rope" continues the promise of "The Boots." The implied violence of the title seethes in, with, and under the narrative, as the boys of Marstal learn the power of that violence—the loss it can engender, the strength and rebellion it can create, the crushing blows it can deliver. The boys also, by contrast, wonder about the feminine, and how it eludes them. It is more mysterious than the masculinity that confronts them, yet somehow sidestepped and placed away, neglected.

The writing, with its plural first-person narrator (the shifting yet cohesive "we" of the novel's title), it's questions, it's longing, it's wrestling with the sea and death, is rich and chewy, meant to be savored and slowly digested. I am doing just that.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

WE, THE DROWNED


"What was the difference? The difference was that the sea respected our manhood. The cannons didn't."
—page 38, We, the Drowned by Carsten Jensen

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I remember the days when I began one book, read it in it's entirety, and finished it before I started another. I was more focused and less distracted then. It seems like eons ago.

Anyway, I am still in the middle of three other books, all somewhat related to Moby Dick and/or Herman Melville, but have decided to delve into one more. The book is We, The Drowned by Carsten Jensen, and I am ever so glad I did.

The opening section, "The Boots," could easily stand on its own as a lengthy short story or a short novella. In fact, it works so well as an independent piece that it reminded me of when the prologue of Don DeLillo's Underworld, "The Triumph of Death," was republished as the novella Pafko at the Wall: The Shot Heard Round the World (after initially being published in Harper's magazine prior to its incorporation into the novel, in slightly different form). "The Boots" could easily be published on its own, and I say that having not read any further in the novel. It is such a strong and satisfying piece.

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"The Boots" concerns Laurids Madsen ascending into heaven, having Saint Peter moon him as he approaches the pearly gates, and returning to the deck of the ship that he has just left. Laurids returns, he is certain, because of his sea boots. The truth surrounding his "ascension," "epiphany," and "return from the heavens" is as comical as it is tragic. It changes Laurids forever. You really need to find a copy of We, the Drowned and read it for yourself.

Monday, February 14, 2011

COMMISSIONED

Troy's Work Table commissioned The Child to draw a sperm whale. It turned out spectacular!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Tuesday, February 08, 2011