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Friday, October 26, 2018


23 years was not long enough to know Joe Crompton. He died yesterday, under a full moon, holding his wife Carole's hand. It was cancer that took him, cancer that he fought with medical treatments and sheer determination. He left this plane of existence with grace and peace, and surrounded with love.

Over the years I've called the Cromptons the Muffinpants family here. They are my mishpocha, the people I've bonded with for 3 generations now. We have our traditions, memories, stories, and love, like any family does. We've been through victories and losses, changes and surprises, births and deaths. And now we'll get through losing Joe, somehow.

Joe was my brother by another mother. We worked together in the meat department of our local food co-op for a decade. In that time, he, our friend Plague and I led the first union drive there. We put our hearts and souls into it, 2 long years that never got us to a vote. It was an ugly fight, but Joe (whom we dubbed 'Captain') sailed above the fray. More than that, he laughed it off, even seemed to enjoy "fighting the bastards". He was like Sir Percival, untouchable because of his purity of heart. He believed, and instilled in me the belief, that despair is a mortal sin. Not in a religious dogma way, but in the way that you're doing irreparable damage to your spirit if you allow despair. He would not allow despair.

Plague wrote a lovely bit: "...he is the only man I would call Perceval ever...he is the only one who is pure enough of heart to find the grail. He looked to the far horizon, and no petty bastard could drag him down. He could not see the scorpionlike tiny crawling beings trying to get to him, just the horizon, our captain. He fought the good fight. He stayed the course..." 

He did. He also remained working there, and 5 years after our union drive a second drive brought the union we wanted. Plague and I were no longer there, but Joe got his dream of being a union member. He was happy and proud to be a UFCW Meat Cutter.

But Joe was so much more. He made art. I have a papier mache statue of his mother milking a goat that he made as a youth. And two manila envelopes full of prints made of his woodcuts. Near the end, he surpassed his earlier works in leaps and bounds. Here is a photo by family friend Tom Stier of his latest works; the toes are Joe's, as is all the art.

Joe was also a deep thinker. At times he would randomly blurt out a sentence and look to you to add something as if you'd heard whatever he'd been discussing in his head. I called this, "putting my head in a blender", and it became known amongst us as being "blenderized". He read voraciously. He criticized thoughtfully. He theorized wildly. He was a delight, a challenge, at times nerve-wracking. I can't count how many times I yelled, "I'm gonna kill ya, Joooe!" in our workdays, when he'd make a mess. And he was funny.

The first time I worked alone with him, he was training me on the Sunday open-to-close alone shift. We were resetting the fish display, and a customer asked for a red snapper. Joe grabbed one and began wrapping it. She said, "How do you cook this?" and he replied, "Apply heat." Later that day another customer asked when the fish deliveries were. "Tuesdays and Fridays," he said. "Well if it comes in on Friday, what's it like by Monday?" she said. "It reeks", he said, and walked away. His customer service improved over the years. 

As a friend, he gave all he could whenever he could. He helped me move 3 times, including the evacuation for Irene. He came to every party I threw, bearing food. He once made a sausage pie at work for my birthday and put the candles on while it was still hot. They melted, making a layer of  wax between crust and meat. A birthday I'll never forget. He brought me so much laughter.

Joe leaves here the loves of his life- his wife Carole, daughter Phoebe, grandchildren Lila and Parker, son-in-law Jesse, his sisters and brother, nephews, nieces and cousins, and many, many who loved him. He was predeceased by his son Jeremiah, who left us tragically 3 years ago, and for whom he wrote an amazing, honest obituary. 

I'll forever miss him, his gentle nature, his kindness and decency. But somehow, he'll always be a part of me, a sort of weird Jiminey Cricket in my mind. And heart.

The last time we spoke, we knew it would probably be the last time. A breath between every word, short because of the lung cancer that started it all. He told me to listen to Louis Armstrong to get through this, so I am.

Godspeed, Joe.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Anthony Bourdain, Open Windows, Sheldon, and Reassurance

Anthony Bourdain hanged himself in a hotel in France on Friday. RIP.
I didn't know him, apart from when he cooked in a restaurant where Ian (we were just friends at that time) was bartending. He seemed obnoxious to me, pretty much a mess and asshole. But he was funny, and his presence filled a room.

Fast forward about 2 decades, and a fellow cook lends me Kitchen Confidential, his book about life as a cook. If you were a cook anywhere from the 70s onward, greasy spoon or Michelin starred, this was your life. He likened kitchen staff to pirate crew. He talked about the chronic drinking and drugs, the ridiculous sex, the humor, the anger and passion and joy in a kitchen. It was all there. If you haven't read it, please do. I've read a lot of books by cooks, this is the one that's bald truth. Tony also wrote a couple of mysteries that are fun reads.

Some time after that, I found him on tv. I caught his shows whenever, always interesting places and often unusual foods. He seemed born for this. It was a natural fit.

Hard to accept that he's just gone. I'd have never expected it.
Someone told me, "There are 2 things everyone is capable of- shoplifting and suicide."

My AC failed the housing authority's new standards and rules so I won't be having AC this Summer. Thus far it's been reasonably cool and not unbearably moist.With the windows open, I hear what I never heard with an AC running. Birds, animals, fighter planes, traffic, but mostly people. Could be drunks yelling, or the Old Man with the Little Dog singing a "buzz-buzz" song to his tomato plants. Some of these things aren't desirable- the new neighbor who can't slam her door hard enough, or the constant banging and dragging from the upstairs nut- but it's life in the projects. People are enjoying the weather and living it up. Another reason I can't wait for Fall.

I've fallen in love with The Big Bang Theory. Not having cable for years now, I never saw it until recently, and am happy to see something American that celebrates brainy types (think I would marry the Sheldon character!). These nerds are flawed and dysfunctional, awkward and often ignorant of their own behavior. Just like people. It's helped me reclaim my nerdiness and be at peace with it. I'm glad there's a relatable show for the young brainiacs, too. TV nerds were always depicted so poorly when I was a kid.

Billy and Maria married again, 48 years to the minute from the first wedding. They're happy and looking forward to the golden years together.

Goggles and I have settled into an amicable neighborliness. She still rants but I'm used to it. We share food. I check on her when needed. She used to be a physics professor; it's nice to have theoretical ideas bandied about in hallway chats. There's a bit of Magick in those who live in alternate realities.

I hope your June is busting out all over. Peace.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

But Ya Are, Blanche!

Oh dear, it's May. How has a third of the year gone already? Not that it's been an idyllic time of peaceful enjoyment. It's been more like a bumper car ride. In no particular order...

Billy finally reached out to his 1st wife and their son in February. And they're getting married on the anniversary of their 1st wedding (they married twice) at the end of this month. Their son, whom I call Junior, is a mess. A spoiled 46 year-old who's been living off Mama for years and years (along with his 49 year-old girlfriend who was convicted of kiting checks and doesn't work). Billy is riding in like the cavalry to hopefully straighten out said mess. All of this means that he is selling up and moving to Florida. Kick will help him clean out, bless her, and he has 2 potential buyers. But there's so much to unload. Since Mac was spending 4-5 grand a month on QVC, there is endless crap to wade through. He just found sheet sets crammed into the front room endtables. It took weeks to even make room to open the endtables. I'm hopeful but scared for Billy. He and Mia were together from junior high school until they were 25, and Mia was my only big sister from the time I was 5. I could be overjoyed if I wasn't terrified for him. If this doesn't work out...

Beest died on March 29th. There were several things going on, all related to her thyroid. She wouldn't eat anything for almost a week, barely drank, and at the end she was clearly ready to go. My vet came here and we put her out of the misery. His guess was she was 14-15 years old. I miss her.

                                          RIP Beest. You were loved by many.

 It's gone from snow to 90'F in 2 weeks. I miss Winter.

The housing authority is morphing into a Neocon mindset. My AC charges have jumped from 100$/ the season to 220$. We can't put our own ACs in the window, nor take them out. Maintenance will do that, but we'll get no appointment for it; they'll do it whenever. Since that Masshole Republican got into his office manager job here, things have gone to hell. I won't list the number of assholy things he's wrought, it'll just piss us all off.

Meanwhile, I gave up wheat on February 2nd when my caseworker told me a couch potato lost 150 lbs. over 2 years just giving up wheat. Not easy at first, but very worth it. All my digestive issues went away. I sleep better. I lost 32 pounds in 3 months with no other change in life. It's tough to lose weight when you can't walk, but this is working. And it's so simple. You just don't eat wheat in any form. I admit to straying twice in my birthday week, but I paid for it in gastric distress and I won't be doing it again. Highly recommend it. Need info? Read Wheat Belly, which was urged at me after I started the no wheat deal. Wheat isn't the wheat we ate 50 years ago. I'll say no more.

With the world as it is, I'm pondering the oddball theory that the Large Hadron Collider propelled us into another dimension, an alternate reality. Everything is so FUBAR, it beggars belief that we are in the same universe we were in a dozen years ago.

Yet we carry on, oars against the current, defiantly laughing at whatever gets thrown at us.

 I hope you never stop shaking a fist at the sky, or laughing.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Dave Explains It All For You

Once again dismantling 2017 in a spectacular way. Enjoy.

Dave Barry's 2017 summary

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Get Out, 2017!

Just this afternoon I was thinking, "I've lost the need to write." But here I am. Much of the time I'm overwhelmed and unsure these days. Plenty of other people broadcast what I'm thinking, so why add to the buzz? What do I even think of it all anymore? I don't even know. Because I don't trust anything I hear to be true, I'm unsure. I think and wonder and hypothesize in my head, and there's no summation, no conclusions. Every day it's more awfulness. This is what 11 months of Cheeto von Tweeto and the corrupt Fascist Congress, religious insanity of all ilks, and crazy ass killings have brought.

2017 was a brutal year. On the round heels of 2016's deathapalooza we get a load of crazy people in power all together. We take a deep breath and go on. No time to grieve anything anymore. Carry on with your PTSD self. Yes, those are naked pix of the President's wife. Move along. Yes, groceries have drastically risen in price. Take it or leave it. Yes, if you depend on the Social Security that you paid into for decades, or any social service, you may be screwed pretty soon. Look at this cat meme!

This is not a world for the tender or weak. But it is a place for the pissy and indignant, and I am those even at the best of times. (Has there even been a 'best of times'? agh, another topic for another day...) There must never come a day when nobody argues their point, but I worry that we've become too stupid and lazy to care to have a point. It's easier to be told what to think than to think for yourself. It's also easier to just morph from feeling to feeling, because nobody will challenge your feelings. If you're weak there's no encouragement to get strong. There are drugs to remove those annoying thoughts that may flutter by. Just take this pill and none of it will bother you. And we'll make a profit.

Lately I've read a few articles about "the end of Capitalism". It seems like the end of something. An end is also a beginning.

May 2018 bring us justice, truth, peace, kindness, open minds and hearts, and make them our values.
Get the hell out, 2017 and don't let the door hit you where nature split you.