Briarpatch Pie – Blue Ridge Cookery the L-C Way 2

since losing my original post when publishing this post from “Local Drafts” on my phone, I am redoing and finishing it up directly to published status. the other post seems permanently hung trying to publish from the WordPress app for iPhone

my dear friend Lleslie wanted the recipe for my Briarpatch Pie after seeing a pic or two on Facebook.

This recipe owes much to one of my fave recipes for Atlantic Beach pie, , itself a riff off Key Lime pie, this time with a Blue Ridge mountain berry patch spin. It also is a nod to the classic French fruit tart, delightful tasty bites of fruit on a yummy custard with tasty glaze. A great summer dessert recipe as it is best on the second day, served after being fully refrigerated. And BTW, this recipe is good for keeping in mind for using up all those egg yolks leftover from angel food cakes and meringues.

Every summer, the berry bushes proffer their bounty in copious amounts over an all-to-brief few weeks. There we are awash with more berries than one can possibly eat up. the fragile luscious juicy lovely fruits certainly don’t keep well, not even flash frozen. Ergo, one needs lots of recipes. Here is my contribution to the conservation of fresh berries for maximum consumption.

Blue Ridge Briarpatch Pie ( Tart )

quantities indicated will yield a smallish pie ( 7 or so inches)

Preparation
Set butter out to soften at room temperature. Put eggs out to acclimate to room temperature as well if you are making custard same day as crusts.
Preheat oven to 350 degF.

Cracker Crust
Forget that cutting shortening into flour, rolling with chilled pins, etc. Nice cracker crusts are perfect for summer pies and oh-so-easy. Also, quite the perfect task to enlist the assistance of young junior chefs to help. How much fun can be had crushing up crackers into bits?

Ingredients:
60 ct. saltine crackers
3 or so Tbsp sugar
organic sugar, turbinado sugar, or even good old white granulated sugar
1/2 cup (8 Tbsp) + 1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) butter
real artery clogging butter. none of that healthy almost butter stuff. and I don’t recommend organic butter- some of it won’t soften up properly

Directions:
1. Crush crackers into fine crumbs.
I am told this can be done with a food processor but that would mean giving up all that therapeutic time crushing things to bits with your bare hands.
2. Mix sugar in thoroughly.
3. Cream in 1/2 cup butter by hand mixing. Keep the remainder in reserve, to use if needed.
I throw the butter in a few large dollops at a time and just squish them into the crumb mixture until no more will stick. Keep on until 1/2 cup butter is thoroughly mixed in. if the mix is still a little crumbly, add dollops of remaining softened butter as needed. The “dough” should stick well together and be easy to smush around without being sticky or crumbly. And BTW, a food processor is likely to whip the butter up ( not needed ) and you will lose a lot of your mixture from clinging to sides and surfaces of the machine. Besides, you will feel so much more relaxed after you’ve smushed all that stuff together into a lovely squishy clump of gunk.
4. Prepare pan(s) to make a non stick surface.
Old schoolers will break out the Crisco. Some will enlist their friend PAM or one of her cousins and spray away. Some fortunate one will have marvelous non- stick bakeware. I’m getting very fond of cardboard bakeware and parchment paper. this step is insurance against some over baked bit of crust refusing to let go of the pan and crumbling the entire pie as a result.
5. Press mixture into pan (s) with backside of spoon.
Another great therapeutic step in cookery. I won’t mention what I imagine while pressing all that stuff into submission into even, regular surfaces. Also, another great task for the junior sous chefs. Their work can be tidied up a bit after if needed, or just baked as-is as long as there
are no bare spots. The custard always bakes up even on the topside! Who is going to compare its depths after baking?
6. Chill 15 minutes before baking. VERY IMPORTANT.
I’ve never tried baking the pie shell the next day but I imagine it could be done with a wee longer baking time.
7. Bake in oven until crust shell begins to get a little color.
15 minutes or so for small pie pan. Tart shells will take less as they are smaller. Mini-muffin pan size shells may only take 5 or so minutes. The pie is going to be baked again when filled, so over-browning crust now means scorched crust later.
7. Remove from oven. Cool at room temperature first. Pie shells can then be refrigerated ( or frozen ) for later use if needed.

Custard and Fruit Topping
This custard is not your simmer on the stove, stirring under an ever watchful eye, hyperventilating if something minutely lumpish threatens to appear. It is easy enough the junior sous chefs can be trusted with the task and be proud of the result. My chef hat’s off in a grand hurrah to whomever discovered this. Custard can be begun while cracker shells are cooling.

Ingredients:
14 oz. evaporated milk
4 egg yolks
This task is one the junior sous chef may need help with or close training and supervision. Room temperature eggs are easier to separate, but if you forgot, oh well. No biggie, cook on.
1/2 cup lime juice
the juice is for flavor. I’m going to try mango pineapple next. the flavor chosen should complement. the fruit to be used on topping.
2 cups or so fresh vine-ripened berries – blackberries are my favorite
Polaner All-Fruit jelly – same flavor as berries.
this is my secret ingredient for fruit pie glazes. I only trust Polaner brand. I might hazard a try with some good English jelly like Crosse & Blackwell, Wilkins & Son, or even Bonne Maman.

Directions:
1. Thoroughly wash, prep, and drain berries ( or other fruit)
2. Beat egg yolks into evaporated milk.
C’mon just get out a big spoon and beat it away. (cue up Michael Jackson for getting in the mood or rhythm if needed). If you have to break out the electric mixer, oh well, go ahead but don’t complain to me when you realize it will take 3x longer to clean up than you needed to spend mixing.
3. Add lime juice and beat in thoroughly.
That’s it for mixing up custard. Oh yeah- time for happy dance all around kitchen. Or a Moonwalk.
4. Fill up pie shell (s) but not over fill. custard does not rise.
5. Bake custard 10 minutes ( or two-thirds of total baking time for smaller tarts ). Custard is getting done when the shiny wet surface keeps shrinking smaller toward center and disappears. It only needs a few minutes after that. Custard is entering disaster zone of over baking if it bubbles like boiling or surface is drying out and browning. Sorry to say, this is the psychic part of baking custards- there is little visual evidence of the transition from the zone of slightly under baked and the zone of slightly over baked.
6. While custard is partially baking to set up bottom, microwave about 4 Tbsp fruit jelly until it softens into thick spoonable liquid. Key word is THICK. Thinning it it out by melting too much isn’t fatal error but will be runny instead of gooey when spooned over berries.
7. Keep pie (s) on rack in oven for next steps. Put berries in one closely packed layer on top of partly baked custard. Take some care- you don’t get do-overs in placing. Custard will clump if you try to nudge the berries around on top. It is partly baked so berries can sit up on top, rather than falling to bottom if put in when custard was a liquid when baking started.
8. Spoon softened jelly over, around, and in cracks between berries to glaze surface. My secret pie glaze- high quality jelly softened up to spoonable consistency. Forget that making sugar reductions with boiled fruit, straining and gosh knows what else requiring a half a dozen expensive chef tools. Use technology ( the microwave ) to reverse engineer the jelly to a softer state, aka fruit glaze. Major American brand jellies are too soft to start with. Stick with Polaner, or pony up a bit more for the jelly from those who invented high tea – England. ( cue music: Hail Brittania).
9. Bake 5 or so minutes more to finish for small pie. Tarts will take less time. Mini -tarts might only take 1 minute or so.
10. Remove from oven and cool thoroughly at room temperature.

Serving

I like this pie best after I’ve refrigerated it overnight and then served deliciously cold after a hot summer afternoon. For the most decadent luxuriation in berry heaven, I add whipped topping.

Whipped Topping
For those who still have a tolerable cholesterol count, go ahead and whip up some genuine whipping cream with a little sugar. This is the task the mini-bowl of your Cuisinart was meant for. For those who are already treading way over their dietary regulations with all that butter and egg yolks, use some other product. Just don’t tell me when you serve it and I may be none the wiser.

enjoy- Salud y pesetas- y tiempo para gozarlas.

Business Writing 101a – what those classes and self help books may have left out.

this applies to both email and snail mail communication.

Date

Business Header –

Dear So n So,

Paragraph 1 – Why I am bothering you with this.  Always start out with the quick overview of what this letter is about.  why should your boss/client/[fill in blank] bother to read further.  What-Why-When- and possiblyWho and Where.

Paragraph 2 – Something about you, even if you know them.  this is when you remind them of how great you are and how much they need you.  This can be short, but should be {reasonably} accurate.  It is to put the reader in positive frame of mind for what follows.

Paragraph 3-  Your proposal in some detail.  If this takes more than half a page, create an attachment document to put with this cover letter/email.  If you sell them on it in this communication, they will read the rest, or at least look it over and save it.  If you drown their interest in too much info, they will quit and go on to their next task.

Paragraph 4 – How you are going to work together with them/their staff/other stakeholders to make the project a huge success.  Who you have already touched base with about project.

Paragraph 5 – The closer.  The hardest one to write that it doesn’t sound directly cut-paste from some manual.  This is about how much you are looking forward to this new venture/project (even if only mildly true).  Thank them for their time.

Closing,
Your Name
Communication Info- ALL of it.

For the following letter, I could have written.

“Enough is enough.  I’m out as of {date}. Please advise of procedures to terminate my employment.”

BUT instead I, couched the sentiment in:

Why do I go on? and ON?

Was questioned recently by someone about why, considering my advancing senior age status, do I continue to go on – trying to learn and do and “find myself” as an artist given my near total lack of obvious fame, success, financial gain etc etc etc to date.

I was taken aback.  Why wouldn’t I? I had to pause and give it some thought over a few days.  Is it because I need to prove to myself that I can stamp out all the lemons of my life into vintage lemonade?  Some.  Maybe.  But there is a point that enough is enough, and I might be justified in just kicking back and enjoy a bit more.  Maybe.  Is it because that after 30+ years of Buddhist practice, I have become an embodiment of the Ho’nimyo spirit.  NOT.  Maybe a little.

As truth often strikes during the most mundane moment, I was walking through my quiet house seeking coffee when I paused to look at the print of a painting by Sylvester Urquhart, friend and talented artist.  It hangs directly at the end of my hall so I can’t miss it everyday.  Then there is the one by Gibby Perry in my bedroom.  It struck me that a large part of my art collection was done by dead friends.  I walked around.  Dead.  Dead.  Dead.  Her too.

The HIV epidemic barreled through my life starting in my mid-twenties and before retrovirals the swath it cut through the creative community was wide, relentless, and greeted AT BEST by the non artistic community by puzzled indifference.  By the time I was thirty, if I listed the top ten persons I knew, or was inspired by as an artist, most by then were dead.  Dead.  Dead.  Dead.  Him too.  One reason I didn’t return to Los Angeles was that most of the people I would have liked to touch base with were gone.  Gone gone gone.  (short apology to the few who are still here and want me to visit)  By the time I left LA in my early thirties, I was a practiced, if not professional, mourner.  It was like we had become artistic orphans, those of us young uns left.  Fewer opportunities to work along side, or follow, those who inspire.  Don’t get too close.  There has to be an untouched scrap of yourself to hold onto at the funeral.

I may have been more content to exist more to sidelines and admire and support, rather than do, had the HIV virus remained an animal-only disease.  I know a large part of my struggle is powered by my need to keep faith with those whom I have lost. I am reminded of the original story of Pyramus and Thisbee (Shakespeare’s inspiration for Romeo and Juliet).  What is rather forgotten about that story is the actual symbolic Metamorphosis of the mulberry bush.  It could be titled “How the Mulberry Got Its Color”.  It seems at one time the mulberry fruit was pure white.  After the two lovers talk through walls, etc, have the unfortunate encounter with the lion, bloody scarf, etc etc they sacrifice themselves, one before the other under the pure white mulberry bush.  The roots of the bush are so overwhelmed by their blood that it turns the dark mulberry red that we know today.  I, like many others for various tragic reasons, have been likewise transformed.  There is a part of the self that is indelibly marked by catastrophic loss.  The tricky trick is to learn to go forward as a red mulberry.

I also believe our society was marked by this anti-creative tsunami.  We just don’t realize it, as we continue living in a universe minus hundreds of former suns and are used to the dark. Some of our pale little stars may shine a little brighter now in comparison.   Perhaps.  I may not have “discovered myself”.  I may still be at sixty-plus years clueless as to what my “mission in life” may be.  But I still CAN go on.    I have to muddle on because they cannot. What  could I possibly say to them when we meet again if I did not?

The Journey Beyond

The hardest thing about being both Buddhist and pet guardian is to know what to do when the end of life as your companion starts drawing near.

As a Buddhist, I feel strongly the responsibility in having the wisdom to know when “the time is right” if the beloved pet doesn’t pass on naturally.  My cat , Taca [A-C-A-T spelled backwards] lived over 22 years and was with me for over 20 of them.  By the time of the end of his life with me came, he had added a range of physical issues to his ever increasing collection of quirks.  He refused to come indoors anymore, as he felt safer when he was outside and “in control” of his freedom.  He would sometimes be gone (or so it seemed) for the whole day, but could be counted on to show up for supper.  He had developed a thyroid condition that required daily meds – a challenge to fulfill for an outdoor roaming cat.  He had developed recurring urinary tract issues, that eventually needed more than just diet and meds.  He had started losing weight due to his hyperthyroidism.  When informed about the problem of his irregular schedule, the vet advised me to just dose him anytime I saw him to try to get enough medicine in him to regulate his thyroid.

A time came when he was having trouble keeping up with his grooming as well.  He was a thin-ish cat who had frequently dirty fur on his backside due to urinary incontinence.  I decided another visit to the vet was in order.  The vet examined him and the news was serious.  He had developed kidney issues – tumors.  In her sincere opinion, “the time” had come.  She was idly stroking Taca on the stainless examining table while giving me “the speech” about “the options” I had, leave him there, stay with him while they gave him “the shot”, etc.  Just at that moment, Taca stretch out and started to purr like a threshing machine.  He gave me his “sleepy happy” eyes.  I realized that to him, although he had all of this stuff going wrong, he was still basically a happy cat.   Who was I to judge his journey without taking the most basic of all elements – happiness into account.

By this time Taca’s world had constricted to his morning spot on the east side of the house and his afternoon/evening spot on the SW side of the house.  He would sit on the woodpile in the morning, migrate to the cement patch in the afternoon, and tuck himself into his little wooden house (custom made with a space blanket lined interior) in the evenings.  He hadn’t been on a walkabout in ages.  When we came back from the vet, I took him in my arms and we walked.  and Walked.  When we entered the woods his head raised up on his scrawny neck and he started sniffing the wonderful smells.  His “I-am-the-Tiger” glint in his eye returned.  We came back from our walk and he took up his spot on the sun-warmed concrete.

The next morning I went to check up on him.  He wasn’t in his usual spot on the woodpile.  I didn’t think much of it as he could have been off in the bushes doing “some business” or something.  When suppertime rolled around and he didn’t show up, I went and investigated further.  There Taca was, still curled up from the evening before in his little wooden house.  He was gone.  He lived his last day happy – remembering his days as “the tiger” in the woods, and drifting off naturally to his next journey.

Last summer in June it became obvious to me that this journey together with my Samoyed, Lady, and I would be drawing to a close in near foreseeable future.  She was in a gentle decline.  She was blind in one eye from glaucoma, but that didn’t amount to much because she could still see – some – out of the other eye.  She didn’t hear so well, but that  didn’t amount to much either, as her “running around the neighborhood” days had passed.  She had no major medical problems, other than a small spinal condition.  However, she was getting severely arthritic in her hind end.  The nightmare scenario for me was to reach a point when I had an otherwise healthy and happy dog, that I couldn’t take care of because she couldn’t walk anymore.  I knew that likelihood that  karma was going to be as kind to me with Lady as it was with Taca was slim.  There were many times when I chanted a bit about this – how would I know what I was supposed to do, and when I was supposed to do it?

My goal was to keep her mobile enough to get up and about to do her own “business”.  If she could do that, I pledged to handle the rest.  Over the next months, her medication regimen kept increasing to try to keep her stiffness and pain manageable.   It worked for the most part – there were an evening or two that I wished I had a sedative or a “doggie oxy” just to get her to go to sleep.  Lady was a rescue dog, and while with me had learned that she could “ask” me for things.  However, she had only one “word” – arf {short, high, sharp}.  “Arf”  could mean -” it is time for supper”.  “Arf” could mean – “I need to pee”.  “Arf” could mean – “I hurt bad and please help me”.  There were a few evenings of extreme “arf-iness”.  One precipitated a trip in the middle of the night to the emergency vet when, after exhausting all other possibilities, I had NO idea why she was in such recurring distress.  It turned out to be a good move, as she had developed a parasite infestation in her vagina.  Ewww.  I would have “arf-ed” up a storm to if it had happened to me.

I read up on doggie acupressure massage but Lady was fussy about being touched on her legs.  Perhaps those pressure points *were* very tender, but she wasn’t going to have any of THAT.  I was so lucky to find out about, and live near to The Gentle Spirit Farm in Chester County, PA.   Diane Mayer does hydrotherapy for dogs there in a heated pool house.  The Farm also offers a lot of other services for natural health and rearing for dogs.  Hydrotherapy was a life-changer for Lady.  In August 2011, she could barely stand up and walk.  In a month of once weekly sessions, she was able to walk around the block again on the best of days.   Lady eventually learned to swim, rather than splash, in her therapy sessions.  Afterward, she would be raring to go for a walkabout on the farm itself.  In November, we had to start limiting her walks as she would feel so good after therapy that she would quite “overdo” if left to her own devices and be very stiff the next day.   The folks at the Gentle Spirit Farm helped me get the one thing I wanted for Christmas – to be with Lady at the holidays one more time.

In the new year of 2012, the care for Lady was quite detailed on a daily basis.  When I described it all to a friend who is a hospice nurse, her comment was – “You are running a doggie hospice”.  I guess so.  I was fully involved in keeping Lady just that little bit mobile and reasonably comfortable, which began to involve more and more meds and help.  She developed some “hot spots” under her fur on the side she always lay down on.  (Sort of akin to bedsores, I think) Those had to be taken care of and watched.  She was on prescription food for joint mobility, which she really didn’t like, so I had to disguise it with other things to get her to eat it.  Excluding the typical dog meds for heartworm and parasite control, we were up to seven other medications to be given on a daily basis.  I had switched from “Pill Pockets” to peanut butter to save my budget.  We still had some rather “arfy” nights.  However, I still had Lady.  And Lady still had the thing she wanted most – to be with me. By this time, I had made the “final plans”, and was well prepared for the last eventuality in practical terms.  I still worried about the responsibility I had as the judge of the remainder of time Lady had in this life.   Our lives are eternal and intertwined throughout this consciousness we call “time” as humans in ways that few ever grasp – even a little bit.  My most earnest prayer was to fulfill my promise to Lady when I rescued her – “I will take care of you.”.   She trusted me fully in this regard.

In the end of January, Lady had made 2 visits in one week to Gentle Spirit Farm, as they were planning a vacation and we wanted to get Lady what she needed before this interim.  The last Saturday of the month, she had her swim and was back outside the pool house.  It was obvious that she was less energetic than other times, as she didn’t take off down the hill to follow the deer smells to the creek.  She was obviously enjoying being there, but just wasn’t up to much more activity, not even meeting some visiting dogs.  She had three pretty good days following.  On Tuesday night, we had another major “arfy” night.  She couldn’t settle down, and kept getting up to move around.  I was trying to get some sleep, but would get up every two hours to “arf”.  She had tried to change her spot and had gotten stuck (which happened from time to time due to her eyesight).  Although by this time she had been living in only one room, I further confined her, using large cardboard cartons, to a 5 foot square space with no obstructions.  It was past 5 am by this time after all, and I had an early morning class at 8am.  I got up after another too-short nap and found Lady, sleeping.  She was breathing a little heavier than normal, but I didn’t disturb her because I figured she needed her sleep.  I came home 3 hours later to check on her and she hadn’t moved.  Still sleeping breathing heavy.  I put out fresh water and a full bowl of food with peanut-butter “canapes” with her meds.  When I returned again in 3 further hours, she still hadn’t moved.

It was obvious something was going on.  I woke her up so she could eat, and drink, and get her meds.  I tried to give her the “lift up” with my foot I usually gave her to help her stand.  It was no go.  I picked her up with my arms and put her on her feet.  She fell down, but not into the alert lay down she usually did when her hind end gave out unexpectedly.  She couldn’t stand, sit, or lie with her head up.  I carried her outside to do her business, and with me holding her up, she peed a river.  I tried again to ease her gently on her feet, holding her for a bit so she could get her feet under her – literally.  She fell down again – totally.  And she began crying – not “arfing” – crying.  I carried her inside, and held her up so she could drink – and she did.  I held her up so she could reach her food – but she really didn’t want any.  I put her back down on her therapeutic little mattress and tried to get her comfortable lying down.    It was obvious that we had reached the end of our journey together in this life.

My original plan was to have a mobile vet meet me at Gentle Spirit Farm  and together with her friends there we would give her the last meds she would get in this life.   I put this plan into motion for the next day, but as the evening progressed it became obvious that it would be cruel to let her endure another 10 hours until that could happen, unless I could hold her up in my arms the whole time.  When I picked her up completely off the floor and held her – she was quiet.   There was no position, however, to settle her lying down than didn’t distress her to no end.  No “arfing” this night.  Just desperate crying.  I put her in the van for our last trip – once again to the all-night vet.  It wasn’t the poetic, gentle send off in nature, in a beloved spot,  I had envisioned.  It was however, a kindly, compassionately performed task in which I could hold Lady the entire time,  and pray with her.   She was snuggled up in a comforter and, she smiled at me again.  

Yeah, Lady, I will take care of you.  I will do this one last thing.  I do love you.  I will miss you until we meet again.

Things I won’t Have to Do Now

  • Give two sets of eyedrops two times per day.
  • Give 1 ml gavapentinol dilute with water once per day.
  • Prepare 1 tablet of tramadol with peanut butter on a cookie  two times per day.
  • Prepare 1 tablet of Rimadyl with peanut butter on a cookie once per day.
  • Worry with the hots spots on the fur, shave, and apply ointment twice per day.
  • Pick up after the #2s incontinence several times per day.
  • Take outies breaks for #1s – of increasingly longer times – several times per day.
  • Carry the furry butt to the grass if she can’t get there on her own in time.
  • Lift the furry butt in and out of the van.
  • Prepare meals of prescription food with beef stew mix ins three times per day.
  • Give snacks of banana-chicken or turkey jerky or apple-cinnamon or peanut butter cookies.
  • Rush home at lunch time and dinner to take care of outies.
  • Trip over the bar at bottom of gates on kitchen doors.
  • Keep kitchen garbage in trash bin with a lid.
  • Go to hydro therapy once per week.
  • Go visit with friends at Playtime Doggie Daycare.
  • Walk behind the perky white ears at least once per day.
  • Get Lady kisses.

sigh.
Love You Little Bear.

I Think My Dog Likes Hurricanes…

at least I think that is what she would tell you, if asked.  The weather before the hurricane cools off and the weather after the hurricane is usually spectacular.  Case in Point:  Late this afternoon (Sunday Aug. 28) was the most magnificent day.  It was warm with a cool breeze.  The sky was exceptionally clear with a few cumulous clouds.    From my dog’s perspective, the time spent inbetween brings many welcome friends to stay the night (just like holidays) and everyone is home all day long.  Plenty of company, which Samis (Samoyeds) crave.

I do not like hurricanes.  Then again – I have yet to hear of a person who does.  This year it was a  Category 1 hurricane named Irene.  I was relieved to find out that I have recovered somewhat to my hurricane PTSD (thanks to Isabel, Charlie, Katrina, Rita, & Ike).  Two years ago, if the word “hurricane” was mentioned in the media, my first reaction was panic.  I did not experience much anxiety about Irene, until in the midst of her arrival, she began to spawn tornadoes.   Here we were, about 20 miles or so from the eye of the hurricane,  being given advisories about tornadoes that were coming closer and closer to our direction.   FEMA advice:  Take refuge in basement.

Oh my what a dilemma – the basement was flooding due to the hurricane, and two of our house occupants were elderly and could not walk to the basement themselves.   And then there were the cats.  Just how do you coax an anxious cat who is already hiding somewhere from the hurricane storm sounds, out to get in a carrier?  NOT happening.  I stood in the middle of my little ranch house and knew it was just plain beyond us.  Perhaps next time, I will confine my cats ahead of time for rapid evacuation.

In retrospect, in comparison to Isabel (Category 2 – 2003),  Irene was a category “Meh” on the scale of hurricane trauma in our area.  Many thanks and appreciations for being in this category of East Coast residents.  As my niece said after Irene passed further NE,  “Was that IT?”  I was heavily involved with animal rescue efforts in NOLA post-Katrina, and was quite pleased to see that the memory of that trauma had borne some good down the road.  Red Cross shelters and NY taxis were permitting owners to evacuate with their companion animals.   Though there are always those who make themselves feel better about criticizing government leaders in the wake of any crisis, I can’t help but compare the status of our governments pre-Katrina and pre-Irene.  The attitude of the Federal Government pre-Katrina was – “If they need us, they will let us know”.  Pre-Irene the FEMA etal were taking a pro-active stance – contacting all local government leaders, staging supplies, making all kinds of contingency plans.

Could say a lot more comparing post-Katrina to post-Irene.  I will just finish by saying, I am willing to bet good money that six years from now, the number of people who are still out of their homes and neighborhoods due to Irene, will be negligible.  I still have friends who are not living (yet) in their NOLA homes, as it is still beyond their financial means to do the necessary repairs.

Refreshed and Renewed

I have returned from a reprise of the Ultimate Clown School.  It was the most perfect thing I could have done for myself at this time.  I was so far in an artistic funk, beginning to question me, my ideas, my talent, everything.
I got some sorely needed validation from some of the best in the genre today.  I was so fortunate to meet and work with Tom Dougherty especially.  A very special person, and an exceptional clown.

I Fail as a Reliable Blogger

okay – Facebook has drained my “social networking” energy.  I wonder how many bloggers are writing less now that they are spurting out their thoughts and life reports in 200-or-so character “status updates”.

Resolution – get back in habit of WRITING about what is going on rather than dribbling out my communication in random spurts.

and BTW – I have been advised that I fail as a “real Facebook user”.  evidently it is *not* about only  “friend”ing  people you would want to meet at a cafe over coffee.  I don’t update my life “enough” there either.  Evidently.
Is it a sign of aging or maturity that one does not mind being labeled “old school”?

The Steves (Jobs & Wozniak) Were Undeniably Califirnians

and all the Apple products developers are too. It should be a law that all personal tech devices be beta-tested in Chicago. In the winter. In the park on the lake.

Today it became obvious to me that no one ever considered the use of all these touch screen devices in climes and times where and when bare fingers on a keypad are beyond be torture.

I was wandering around West Philly looking for a place that Google maps kept dropping the pin in various spots. ( it eventually settled on one location , which turned out to be locked. note to self: there is such a thing as being too early to a NET venue. ). I was nearly in tears and eventually didn’t care what passersby thought when the observed me operating my iPhone with my tongue.

Note to gift givers: you can hook me up with some of those convertible mittens or gloves.