Monday, July 13, 2009

Over the Hills and Far Away

"...I must follow the hoot of his twilight flute
Over reed, over rush, under branch, over root,
And over dim fields, and through rustling grasses
That murmur and nod as the old elf passes,
Over old hills and far away
Where the harps of the Elvenfolk softly play."
— J.R.R. Tolkien
Over the hills and far away. A lovely phrase, and a good name for a rock song, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with this post.
I must admit that I feel a little sad today. I don't know why. I rarely know.
Perhaps it is the overwhelming sense of frustration and sorrow when I think of the problems our nation still faces in the wake of the Bush administration. Our whole system of governance appears to be dysfunctional and inadequate to task of dealing with anything, let alone the economy, world poverty, climate change, election reform, to mention just a few. The only one I hear talking about election reform in the media, is Thom Hartmann. If we want a government that is effective we need to take money out of the election process. Until we manage that, just like the alcoholic who continuously takes that "Last Drink," we'll wind up doing the same thing over and over again, and with little result.
Some good news. Our Attorney General, Eric Holder, is considering the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to investigate the Bush interrogation policies, and the use of torture. Apparently the mounting evidence of illegal practices authorized by the previous President and Vice President is growing to such an extent that it can no longer be ignored.
Still our current President continues to want to keep looking forward, over the hills and far away, ignoring the past administrations gross violations of law. That Mr. President, is insanity. There is only one way to effectively deal with schoolyard bullies, and that is to punish them harshly, and provide an example to others who would be bullies themselves.
I have to admit... I want their blood.
It was good to see Senator Al Franken on the floor of the Senate Judicial Committee this morning, at the confirmation hearings of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Bill O'Reilly must be farting dust! That lifts my spirits a bit.
My lovely case manager, Erin, uses a special technique when confronted with thoughts that sadden her. She thinks of something else.
Perhaps I should follow her sagely advice. She is wise beyond her years.
Speaking of which, she was a vision as she stepped onto our garden today. She had gotten her hair cut during the weekend and she looked particularly lovely.
"Your hair looks particularly lovely today," I told her (you have to include the word, "particularly," so they can't come back and say, "What, my hair looks like crap the rest of the time!").
"Thank you," she replied. "I got it cut over the weekend. Now I feel like a little French girl, with my new bangs."
She looks almost too pretty to bear.
She told me last Monday, out in the garden, "I'm getting the traveling urge, Rick. But I only want to go to the places I've already been. What kind of job can I get that lets me travel all of the time?"
"You could become a spy. I don't think Vice President Joe Biden will out you, like Dick Cheney did."
She didn't know what I was talking about, which makes me both glad and sad. Glad that her life is free from these concerns, and sad that she is unaware of things that may affect her.
So I told her of Cheney's treasonous outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame, for pure spite, during a time of war, something he still has not been held accountable for.
"That does seem like a bad thing," Erin admitted.
Yes, it does.
We also made bagels from scratch last week at the Cooking Club. Paul's idea. I have eaten bagels many times, but have never made them, and thought the entire process quite disturbing. And time consuming.
I volunteered to make the dough, which without the remaining steps would be impossible.
Erin supervised as I ladled out eight cups of unbleached flour.
"Your not filling up the measuring cup, Rick."
"Yes I am, Mom."
With the flour one adds a twidgen of sugar, two twidgens of salt and yeast, a twidge of vegetable oil, and about three cups of warm water. Mix that altogether into a sticky dough, and knead for about ten minutes. I let Paul and Gena knead for awhile. That done you sit and wait for ten to twenty minutes for the dough to rise. That done we separated the dough into sixteen little balls. That done, we waited another twenty minutes for the dough to rise again.
"Couldn't you find a more time consuming recipe, Paul?" I asked.
"This is fun, Mr. Complainer. This is like the coolest thing I've ever done."
He was right. It was pretty cool.
After the dough has risen... again... we each were given responsibility for two of the little balls, which would become our own personal bagels. We rolled each of our little balls into little snakes of dough, which we then formed into circles. Then came the fun part. We were allowed to torture our little snake circles by boiling them for two minutes. Then we applied whatever toppings we chose, in my case, little onion particles, then we baked them for another twenty minutes.
Finally we got to eat the damn things, with butter and cream cheese.
I gave one of my bagels to a UCLA student who was there to do some research, who had been observing our bagel making activities, and who didn't have any bagels of her own.
That's just the kind'a guy I am.
Now I feel much better.

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