Plowshares and Swords

On this Maundy Thursday, while that jackass occupying the White House and his sycophants spread violence and hate and it seems they are leading us down the road to a global holocaust, I found myself thinking of this verse:

And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.

— Isaiah 2:4

Thousands and thousands will die because we put weapons of mass destruction in the hands of this incompetent fool. As for me, I’ve laid down my sword and shield and I won’t study war. I won’t fight, and I won’t support or admire those who do.

Enough.

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Sharp Tools

I was splitting wood the other day with my second favorite ax. That ax belonged to my wife’s grandfather, Glen Buckmaster. I like to split wood and remember him. I only knew him for a few years, but he was a fine man.

The ax was bouncing back at me, so I figured it needed sharpened. I hit it with the grinder to reshape the bevel and then honed it with a file. The wood exploded apart when I hit it with the sharpened ax. I clearly need to sharpen my tools more often.

And this is a good excuse to quote one of my favorite poems.

“Except as a fellow handled an ax,
They had no way of knowing a fool.”

Robert Frost in the poem “Two Tramps in Mud Time”.

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Horseradish Season

Any month with an ‘r’ in it, that’s horseradish season. April’s a good time to do it, because the ground’s not frozen.

Spenser and Owen (the Wonder Dogs) and I went out and dug 4 nice roots today.

Roots

Here they are all cleaned up. Then I peel them with a vegetable peeler.

Cleaned

Next I chopped them up and into the food processor they go.

Chunks

Those chunks were too big, they just spun in the food processor. I dumped them out and chopped them up a little more. That worked.

Chopped

The longer the chopped horseradish is exposed to air, the hotter it gets. This stuff was hot to start with and soon was suitable for use as a chemical weapon. I poured in a few tablespoons of white vinegar and a pinch of salt and gave it a buzz in the processor to stop the heat.

Of course we had a pretty jar to put it in.

Finished

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Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Well, not exactly a trip to New Orleans but we celebrated Mardi Gras in style on Skunk Hill.

Champagne (prosecco, actually)

A Bit of the Bubbly

Then as we call it, “Fish, Debbie Style.” Pan fried fish with a dusting of cajun spices and a generous dollop of meunière sauce. Add a side of creamy seafood dirty rice.

Fish – Debbie Style

And because we’re letting the good times roll we topped it off it with sweet potato pecan pie.

Sweet Potato Pecan Pie

I like to end these posts with a wry, yet poignant comment, but tonight I’m just enjoying the good times with my beloved.

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New Year’s Resolutions

Like everyone else we resolved to eat healthier at New Year’s Eve. More fruit, more veggies, less refined carbs, less fat, less sugar. Yadda, yadda, yadda, heard it all before.

We do pretty good at getting vegetables, but fruit is always an issue. Fruit is dessert to me and that’s hardly a New Year’s Eve resolution solution.

I was watching a cooking show and the chef made a chicken, shrimp, and fruit salad. Poached chicken and shrimp, oranges, apples, and grapes tossed with lime juice and garnished with fried garlic and shallots, and chopped peanuts.

Sounds weird (or even nasty), right? When he was making it I thought it would be horrible, but it looked good, and thinking of my resolutions I decided to give it a try.

Chicken, Shrimp, and Fruit Salad

That’s a pretty salad! And it was shockingly good. Light and fresh. The apples soak up the lime dressing and are scrumptious.

Over 2 weeks into February and we’re still hanging in there with our New Year’s resolutions!

Chicken, Shrimp, and Fruit Salad

2 generous main course salads

¼ teaspoon salt
1 Granny Smith or other cooking apple
1 to 2 cups seedless grapes, cut in half
1 orange, segmented,
1 tablespoon garlic, fried
½ cup shallots, fried
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
16 medium shrimp
4 tablespoons roasted peanuts, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons lime juice or lemon juice
2 to 3 serrano chilies
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves

Slice a few garlic cloves thin and slice a shallot thin. Fry gently in oil until just browned. Drain the garlic and shallots on paper towels and save the delicious oil for something else.

Cut the chicken into long thin strips and poach gently until done, maybe 5 minutes. Remove from the poaching liquid and set aside.

Poach the shrimp in the same liquid until done, maybe 2-3 minutes. Set aside.

When the chicken and shrimp have cooled you can shred or dice the chicken. You can leave the shrimp whole or dice them too if you like uniformity. I left mine whole.

Combine the chicken, shrimp, and peanuts and set aside. The salad is served at room temp.

Combine 1 teaspoon salt, the sugar, and the lime juice in a small bowl and mix. Instead of salt I used about 1/2 teaspoon of fish sauce and I recommend that highly. If you don’t have fish sauce, soy sauce would be nice instead.

Set aside. Use as many or as few chilies as you like. I used about 1/2 of a big jalapeno and diced it fine. Dice or cut into fine rounds as you prefer.

Slice the cilantro leaves as fine or coarse as you like. Set aside.

Peel and slice or dice the apple.

Combine the apples, grapes, oranges, chicken, shrimp, and peppers in a large bowl. Add the lime juice and sugar mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Let it sit for 5 minutes or so to soak in the dressing.

Garnish with the reserved shallots, garlic, and cilantro leaves.

Based on a recipe from Madhur Jaffrey’s Far Eastern Cookery

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Not a Happy Place

zumbrun.net is a happy place for me. I write about what gives me joy. But there are times when I have to comment on things that upset me. This is one of those posts. If you don’t like that sort of thing feel free to stop reading now and check back later. I’ll be writing about happy things again soon.

Posts have been going around on Facebook about how we’re all in this together and we all need to support and respect the president. Using the previous 2 elections as an example, if Romney or McCain had won, I’d agree with that position. My political leanings are Democratic and while I disagreed with much of what Romney and McCain ran on, to use P.J. O’Rourke’s phrase, I thought they were wrong within normal parameters. I would’ve respectfully disagreed with their positions, but respected their presidency.

I do not however respect Donald Trump and I do not respect his presidency and I will not support him in any way.

His personal behavior is disgusting. Donald Trump is a pervert and a degenerate. Normal men, even coarse and vulgar men, do not talk about grabbing women by the pussy. They do not boast in print about adulterous affairs. They do not discuss their sexual attraction to their own daughter. His puerile attacks on those who criticize him are signs of a dangerous immaturity.

But does his reprehensible personal behavior disqualify him from being president? After all, by most measures Bill Clinton was both an effective president and behaved personally in a way that was repellent. Does that apply to Trump as well?

It does not. As aberrant as Trump’s personal behavior is, his political views are worse. He is a danger to our most basic freedoms. On the campaign trail, he has vowed to limit our freedom of speech and our freedom of religion. He vows to torture our enemies, jail his political opponents, and restart the nuclear arms race that even Ronald Reagan recognized was madness.

Our country is strong. I trust our system of checks and balances will prevent Trump from being successful in attacking our freedoms. But I will do what I can to help stop him. I just sent a donation to the ACLU, arguably the organization best prepared to block Trump’s attack on our freedoms, and I refuse to support, respect, or even acknowledge Trump’s presidency.

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Inauguration Day, 2017

It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. It merely required no character.

Joseph Heller in Catch-22, published in 1961.

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The Great Bananagram Challenge

We’ve started our annual winter game that we’ll play most nights until the first day of Spring [1]. The winner then gets to name their prize [2].

This year we’re playing Bananagrams. It’s like Scrabble, except you each make your own word grid and only play on it.

You can follow our scores here. There’s a link to the page on the sidebar to the right too.

1. The vernal equinox.

2. No, you can’t ask for that.

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A Book with “The” in the Title

We’re sitting around the living room reading on this icy cold Sunday, supposed to hit -12 tonight, and I said to Debbie, “I finished the Evanovich book, you can have it. I’m going to read this thing I got at the library called ‘Mister Monkey’ next.”

Debbie, not looking up from what she was doing, said, “Oh, the new Francine Prose?”

My slack jawed stare must of echoed across the room, because she looked up and said, “What?”

“How’d you know that?” I said.

“Well, she writes for the New Yorker,” Debbie said, as if that was an explanation. [1]

A long time ago I remember Debbie telling me about a patron coming into the library and saying, “I’m looking for this book, it has “The” in the title and the cover’s blue.” And Debbie correctly asked, “Do you mean ‘The Client?’ [2]

Debbie’s been out of the library game for almost 10 years now, but once a librarian, always a librarian I guess. She has an amazing card catalog of a mind.

1. She later explained, “When I looked up I saw “Francine” on the cover of the book.” Which of course explains why any ordinary human would assume it’s the new Francine Prose book.

2. I don’t remember exactly what book it was, this was nigh on 20 years ago, but it was a Grisham, and the point being, it wasn’t the current one, but one several years old.

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Silent Night

It’s a quiet Saturday night at home. The first really cold night of the year. We have a fire going, Debbie and I are surfing online and reading books. The Wonder Dogs (Owen and Spenser) are sprawled out, happy just to be in the same room with us. [1]

And we’re chatting electronically with friends and family all across the country. We have within reach 2 phones, a tablet, 2 laptops, and a desktop. Depending on the chat medium and the recipients some or all of the devices call for attention with various chirps, whistles, and vibrations [2].

We can tell by the number of chirps, whistles, and vibrations who the message is for and generally what conversation it’s a continuation of. A different pattern of noises has us looking at each other and saying, “who’s that?”

In some ways it’s an annoyance, this constant electronic bleating. I wish these gadgets would be more like my GPS running watch who sits silently on the counter not making a sound. It just blinks its LED display hopefully, wanting to go out for a run but doesn’t presume to intrude otherwise.

But on the other hand it’s nice to be connected with loved ones near and far, and to sit and chat around the electronic hearth.

1. As they are almost every evening. Even so they’re just so happy that we’re all here together. It’s the Best Night Ever! There’s a lesson there.

2. I remember years ago writing a proposal for a system that included haptic sensors to alert the operators when something happened. It was such a cool and novel idea at the time, “cutting edge.” And now it’s just the background of an ordinary Saturday night.

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