Roughly a Week

It’s been roughly a week since my last post. I’m making an effort to put events in my calendar and to blog them, because I’m having a nice time and I want to remember this stuff.

This is my mama, my sister, and I at bingo a few days prior. We didn’t win anything but we sat at the same table with a nice African American lady from Long Beach who won $200 and gave us each a dollar from her wallet for being lucky.  She enjoyed our clowning.

I bought these five-finger toe shoes online to strengthen my arches and correct my step.  I’ve been wearing them for half the day, every day for the last week. My arches are absolutely working harder and getting stronger, I can feel that. In fact, at a massage the other day the therapist hit a pressure point in my arch and I felt like I was pasted to the ceiling.  In the last couple of days I have sat on the sofa and attacked that pressure point myself (if you’re keeping score it’s Spleen 4 – Ancestor and Descendant) and those muscles feel like suspension cables.  I guess they are suspension cables.

Anyway, the other reason to wear five-finger toe shoes is to weird out the squares, to watch their minds explode, and say “chill out dude.” Of course I’m in Seattle now so nobody bats an eye, even though I know in their hearts they are freaking out.

On my last day in Vegas, my parents and I went to an Indian buffet before dropping me off at the airport.

At the airport there were the requisite #airportselfie and #asiansquatbombs.

img_5534One of the things I love about flying Alaska is the Fruit and Cheese box, which I never fail to reserve.  Never.

Well, this time the apple was brown and there was a gross spot on one of the slices, which made me not want to eat the apple, or the grapes. I tweeted a “what gives” to them but they didn’t respond.  Huge disappointment.

 

 

I finally got a chance to go to the Sunfish Café on Alki. It’s run by two Greek brothers, a smiley one and one who seems grumpier.  I hadn’t been there in four years, but Smiley brother greeted me warmly, started speaking to me in Greek, remarked that I hadn’t been there in a long time, and asked how my sister was.  I got the cod combo. That’s such good fish and chips, and it feels good to go there.  Later, their one employee, a sweet Mexican lady, came over to say hello, gave me a big hug, and asked about my sister.  If you want to know my favorite fish and chips places, check here.

I went to my new school the other day; they issued me a computer and let me into my new classroom. They also gave me a copy of Stevenson’s Just Mercy, the faculty summer reading assignment. It’s good that I’m finally reading this because I’ve been quoting it for years; “…the opposite of poverty is not wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice.”  More on that in future posts, I imagine.

I also treated myself to lunch at Musashi’s.

So listen, one of my favorite taco places is TnT Taquería, the tacos are well made and the experience is pretty gringo friendly. It’s a corporate restaurant, but all the employees seem to be latino and Latin American. On the one hand, they have two vegetarian options for me; maíz de pozole con espinacas (“hominy with spinach”) and kamote con col rizado (sweet potatoes with kale)… but they call the sweet potatoes “papas dulces” which just crawls up my butt like teeth on a chalkboard. They were delicious, by the way. I ordered them with beans and rice as if tacos were an entree, and you know what, they were next to beans and rice, so they were an entree.  I had to take a picture of the sandwich board saying “SEÑOR PASTOR COMÉ AQUI” because that’s really, really, really, really bad Spanish. It tells customers, “cheesy gringos only.”  It features twin trompas with stereotype mustaches, which makes me think it was actually designed by a Mexican person with a very, very little esteem for the gringos.

I got to hang out with my boy BM in his neighborhood the other night, we caught up over a beer and a bowl of clams.

Later he texted me if I wanted to go to a Mariners’ game… I asked a bunch of questions and thought about it as if it needed serious consideration, which is ridiculous, because I always want to go to a Mariners’ game with BM.  He bought tickets online and sent me a screenshot of the confirmation.

Hours later, I remembered that I’m trying to put stuff in my calendar, so I look at the screenshot to get the details and… this can’t be right… these tickets are for Rogers Centre in Toronto!  I texted BM “I think you bought tickets to an away game,” and we had a good laugh. Wish I could go!

5ae35780-a574-4cfa-b7a0-85d11f2203c5So I went to Pacific Inn Pub for fish and chips yesterday, because I can’t stop eating fish and chips and I just love heart disease.  I’ll try to limit my consumption. But I was in the neighborhood. I got the three piece fish and chips and a pint of Manny’s.  Sublime. 4ae061bd-ad8f-4555-93c5-78bc2efd877aClowning with my sister. img_20190813_084217-animationI haven’t been to Pagliacci in years but it’s in my sister’s neighborhood so I tried it again… it was about a thousand times better than I remember it from college.  8c49f27c-6cec-4dea-bb4a-53fb0425d5dc

I haven’t backslided on my #konmari lifestyle yet.  These are my chonis, folded to stand up for themselves. They spark joy. 5870d1fc-0357-4952-83fb-42448a4f9436

Other things not to forget about this week; hanging out with JG and BS, wanting to be a podcaster again, going to ASL meetup, eating at Dumplings of Fury, signing up for and skipping crossfit… I’ll go later.

This new box, Crossfit West Seattle, is perfect; it’s half a block from my sister’s house, it’s a converted auto shop… perfect. It strikes me as very Seattle; everybody is introverted, they don’t turn the music up very loud… the penalty for being late is two burpees for every minute late, which seems like not very much! Of course I will never be late, ever.

I wrote Coach Paul at Nela Athletics to tell him about two burpee late penalty… he wrote back the next morning, and told me to move back to LA. Just say screw it, move back in October. I probably can’t do that, but the adventure sounds like fun…

Finally, I met my friends for happy hour last night at Fiasco, which is a funny name for a restaurant.

 

The Miracle of the Coffee Mugs

coffee-mug-collection-worlds-largest-memorable-mugsThere are about twenty coffee mugs in my mama’s cupboard. My sister and I are both here to visit for the week, so there are four coffee-drinking adults in this house.

Some of the mugs are matchy matchy; they are of no use to me. When my family drinks coffee from a mug from a matching set, they lose track of whose-coffee-is-whose the minute their fingers leave the handle. “Is this mine?”  Sometimes we remember, we can recover knowledge of possession, the coffee physically in front of me is probably mine.  However, most of the time, we put down our coffee down and then walk all over the house, erasing that crucial chain of possession from the three bits of RAM we have in our melon heads.

So as I said, the matchy mugs from the set are of no use to me. When I’m returning 20 clean mugs to my mama’s cupboard, I shove all the matchy mugs to the dark, back corner, and bring all the singleton mugs to the front.  I want my family to drink out of singleton mugs, so they will remember; oh, my mug is the union local mug, your mug is the souvenir mug with a bull in silhouette and “España” written across the top… Unique singleton mugs, in my mind, erase the problem of matchy mug confusion, due to their unique uniqueness of uniquity.

Every morning, I  make a pot of coffee and serve it in a thermos pitcher, and I set out four singleton mugs, precisely calculated to serve each of the four coffee-drinking adults in the family, so that we all use precisely one mug, one mug for each person. I arrange the thermos and the four mugs onto the breakfast table as a centerpiece; the thermos towers over the four mugs like a mother duck with four ducklings.  I imagine my parents and sister would see the breakfast table, realize that the coffee is served, and sit down at the breakfast table and stay out of my damn way as I’m making breakfast for everyone.  That is what I imagine.

Actually, what happens in actuality is quite different, actually. When they come into the kitchen area for breakfast, they stop in the kitchen area and reach into the cupboard for a mug. It doesn’t matter how far back I bury the matchy mugs behind rows of singletons; they reach into the cupboard and half a second later there is a matchy mug in their hand as if the cupboard was filled exclusively with matchy mugs.  Then they say something like, “oh, did you forget to make coffee?” and then stand in the center of the kitchen and look for the thermos.

Folks, every day, I make coffee, I serve it in a thermos at the breakfast table, along with four mugs. So by the time I put hot garlic fried rice, fried eggs, and diced tomatoes on the table, there are three matching mugs on the table, filled with coffee, plus the four empty singletons that I served.  A total of seven mugs on the table. Sometimes, eight.

After breakfast, I clear the dishes from the breakfast table and take them to the dishwasher. There are several plates to watch, some utensils, and somehow there are four dozen dirty coffee mugs to wash. Mama only owns 20 mugs, but there are 48 mugs filling the dishwasher. Once the dishwasher is filled, coffee mugs and water glasses (a similar phenomenon) start appearing from other parts of the house. So now there are 48 mugs in the dishwasher and 24 more mugs that have come home to roost, making a grand total of 300,000 that I have to deal with after one breakfast service. The vast majority are hard working and law abiding, and the crime rate among the mugs is actually lower than that of the general population. Most are documented with the government, many are not. Needless to say, the dishwasher is overwhelmed.

When everything is washed and dried, all twenty mugs go back into the cupboard. I try to bury the matchy mugs in the back, knowing that my family has the magical ability to summon them forward, making them and millions of other coffee mugs appear on the breakfast table, numbering like the stars in the heavens.

Cruising the Strip

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Last night I cruised the Vegas Strip with T, who was on his long road trip back to Beantown. We met up at the Sign and had a quick dinner at skinnyFATS, which was the closest place on the short list I threw together of restaurants to that were quick, close to the strip, and not gross national fast food chains. I ordered a portobello sandwich. I didn’t propose a lot of Asian food, but in the end, T got a bowl of beef teriyaki.

On the way to the strip, we passed the site of the deadly mass shooting in 2017; local people refer to the tragedy as One October. I repeated the legend of Tupak getting shot on Las Vegas Blvd and E Flamingo (he did get shot on E Flamingo, but it was a block east of the strip on Kovar Drive). We cruised all the way up the strip to the Bonanza, shopped for refrigerator magnates, and then cruised all the way back down again and said goodbye as he continued his journey east.

Now that he’s gone, I will the last of the roadtrippers to escape the desert for good.

Yellow Brick Roadtrip

Here’s a preliminary schedule for my Great Northwestern Migration. My Yellow Brick Roadtrip. My Own Private Calexit. My Desert Escape. My Northwexodus. My Mount Rainier-I-Come.

Let me know if you’d like to join me for part or all of the drive!  I’ll pay for food, lodging, and gas.

  • 16 July, Tuesday. The POD arrives at my apartment in Palm Desert; we fill it with my boxes and furniture.
  • 17 July, Wednesday. The POD is spirited away. Last sleep in the desert, on air mattresses in an empty apartment.
  • 18 July, Thursday. Drive. Lunch in Bakersfield. Dinner in Elk Grover, short of Sacramento.  Crash at my friend’s cavernous palace, with a guest suite.
  • 19 July, Friday.  Drive. Lunch in Weed. Dinner and motel in Eugene.
  • 20 July, Saturday. Drive. Arrive in Seattle. Eat lunch. Go to a BBQ at Yones’ near Greenlake.

Update:  My route through Bakersfield will take me through Delano.  I wonder if I should do a UFW pilgrimage and photo essay,

Disappointment, Jury Duty, and Las Vegas

Yesterday I woke up in the desert, too late to go to the 5am workout. I got dressed in slacks and an aloha shirt, as I had been advised to do for jury duty, and left the house for breakfast around 6:30.

b8bde4ae-49fd-4690-bdf7-7fa9879824fcI got to the cafe and ordered a small americano for here, and a lox bagel. The owner happily made my americano and then cheerfully told me, “I’ll only charge you for the americano, since my kitchen guy hasn’t arrived yet.”

I wish he had given me that information before he had made my americano, I would have made a different choice. At the very least, I wished he had made some sort of apology, because I was really disappointed about not getting that lox bagel. I sat on the patio and quickly drank that non-great coffee and fumed about the non-bagel, the non-apology, and the non-information.

58187043467__5fbd9207-2092-4ce9-805d-892863a205f4-1As I drove to the courthouse I looked at my St. Benedict bracelet and wondered if I should go to the 7:30am Spanish mass on the day that I start my road trip, and ask Fr. Guido to bless me before I go.

There is a Del Taco across the street from the courthouse. I parked and went inside. A homeless man asked me to buy him breakfast, so I ordered myself an egg and cheese burrito for myself, and a chicken quesadilla for my new friend. After I had paid, he asked if I had ordered him a drink, and I just said, “no,” and didn’t apologize.

img_2704I moved my car to the courthouse parking lot and got in the long line for courthouse security, which stretched around the corner, and started texting M. The line moved fast, and soon enough I was scanning my badge and finding a seat in the jury lounge. I saw two former students but didn’t say hello.  My name was not called for the first trial, so when they gave us a break, I moved my car to another spot in the same parking lot.

 

After the break, I returned to the jury room, and waited for the second round. This time they did call my name, and when it came time to discuss hardships, I felt annoyed with people who thought they were there to give a sob story. The judge just wanted people to say the words “financial hardship.” Just say those words! I didn’t mouth off though, because even I have to behave in a courtroom. The judge dismissed me after I said I was leading a study abroad to Hong Kong and then had a moving van scheduled.

img_2708-1So after a morning of mostly sitting on a couch and texting my friends, I was free. I treated myself to a cauliflower-crust pizza. T came over and checked in with me; it wasn’t goodbye though.

After that, I got in my car and drove four hours to Las Vegas. I was feeling sleepy on the drive, so I ate a bunch of junky snacks and sang karaoke at the top of my lungs, and then next thing I knew, I was here. I kissed my mama and pet the dogs and ate hot rice and cold banana blossoms, later there was bangus and kamatis. Went to bed early.

I woke up this morning in Las Vegas at 3:30 am, hungry. While I’m here I will not go to the gym, I will not KonMari my apartment, I will not go to the few desert restaurants and cafés that I have worn out over my three years in the desert. Family time, I guess.

On Wednesday, T will pass through Vegas on his way back to New England.  I’ll help him get a sandwich and buy a refrigerator magnet.

 

October Break 2018; Tomato Sauce Recipe

  1. I drove through the desert at night, from the Coachella Valley to Las Vegas. It was a full moon in the Mohave National Reserve.
  2. Selfie with mama.
  3. Selfie with dad.
  4. This is my new soap. The pour was a fail, but the color and the formula was perfect. I was going to try dancing tunnels but the batter thickened up and I was lucky to get it into the mold with a spoon. I’m getting close to perfecting my signature soap.
  5. I discovered these beans in my mama’s fridge, labeled ‘betswelas,” a borrowing from Spanish “habichuelas.” I’m surprised that they didn’t get the Mexican word (ejotes) or the European Spanish word (judías verdes). Habichuelas reminds me of Caribbean, Andean, or maybe Central American Spanish.
  6. I made pansit. It was really good, and the key was the broth. But also I burned the veggies in the wok, which makes them taste better.  The whole time I was thinking about that America’s Ethnocentric Test Kitchen, where they decided definitively that woks don’t work for stir fry.
  7. The next morning for breakfast I baked baguettes and made a tortilla de patatas.
  8. That night for dinner I made pupusas, curtido, and even that thin tomato salsa that they serve with pupusas. The pupusas were loroco y queso, and my mama recognized the loroco and identified it as bagbagkong, or sabidukong.  It’s good in Ilocano garden vegetable recipes, and it’s available at the Mexican supermarket.
  9. I made bread with my mama’s dough.  I was trying to slash a star. There was an issue of the paper sticking.
  10. My mama says the bunot (coconut husk) polishes the floor better than the electric polisher the bought. Added bonuses, she gets her exercise, and also the dogs don’t lose their minds with the bunot.
  11. My mama helps me with my sewing project.
  12. She sewed me a Möbius Strap for my ukulele!  Apologies to the inventor.
  13. My mama tested out her new pasta making extruder by making bucatini from scratch!
  14. I made a tomato sauce from scratch. It was spectacular.

JP’s Tomato Sauce Recipe

Toast some black pepper in a pan over medium.  Douse with olive oil and start roasting your garlic in there. Don’t wait for it to finish, just get it started. Add in some oregano.

Dump in half of a little thang of anchovy filets in olive oil and crush them into the oil with your stirring spoon. Don’t tell skittish people about the anchovies, they will be annoying.  Drop in some chopped onions and get them to translucent.

Drop in a bunch of chopped tomatoes. Add salt, more oregano, thyme, bay leaf, whatever you find.

Stew it for half an hour over medium low. If you need more umami, splash in a dash of soy sauce and don’t tell Italian people; they will talk about their nonna as if that’s relevant to the situation, nun me ne frega, mi hai capito?  Eu! Anyway I forgot to add the soy sauce, but I did add some red pepper paste.

Tell your guests to wash their hands and sit down at the table.

Boil the water off. Then add the hot pasta and spoonful of the pasta water.  Crank the flame up to high and then toss the pasta into the sauce until that water has boiled off again and the stewed tomatoes are clinging to the pasta for dear life.  Turn the heat off and drizzle with more olive oil.

That’s eat. Serve it hot with grated parmesan.

There are a few things that add umami to any dish (besides just adding MSG). They are cooked tomatoes, parmesan cheese, soy sauce, and anchovies.  The reason pasta in tomato sauce is appealing is because it’s super umami.  I’m so, so sorry for all that sour tomato sauce you’ve eaten over your life. For the Filipinos, that half cup of sugar in your tomato sauce is why we’re all overweight and diabetic.

I drive back to the desert tomorrow.

 

 

 

Recipe: Steamed Fish

Buy a fresh white fish that will fit whole in your steamer rig. Tell your fish guy to clean the fish but leave the head on.

Prep: Julienne some ginger and the whites of some green onions. Wash and trim some cilantro. The leafy green section of the green onion, you can give them a simple chop at several inches long. Peel a large garlic clove and slice it paper thin. Optional: make paper thin slices of chile serrano or Thai chiles.

Rinse and pat your fish dry, outside and in. Slice some vents into the side of the fish, down to the bone, but don’t slice the bone! Season with salt and black pepper, outside and in. Stuff cavity of the fish with ginger and lengths of green onion.

Cook: Steam your fish gently for 15 to 20 minutes.

While that’s happening, bloom some black pepper in a hot sauce pan.  Add soy sauce and seafood stock. Reduce the liquid to thicken a little, and pour into a small bowl or large ramekin.

Set the table.

The fish is done when the center is 145°F. It should be juicy and come easily off the bone. Move the whole fish to your serving plate and garnish with raw julienne of ginger, slices of garlic and chiles, and then finally the whites of green onion and the tender parts of the cilantro. Give the whole thing one last blessing of fresh cracked black pepper.

Call everybody to the table. Heat a quarter cup of oil in clean saucepan.

When everyone is seated, bring the fish to the dining table and carefully pour the hot oil over the garnish, making sure to hit the garlic slices. Stuff should sizzle and pop but not splash or jump; slow your roll if people start getting oil burns.

Finally, dress the fish with the soy sauce mixture.