Wasted Again

Talk not of wasted affection, affection never was wasted;
If it enrich not the heart of another, its waters, returning
Back to their springs, like the rain, shall fill them full of refreshment;
That which the fountain sends forth returns again to the fountain.

Evangeline – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My mom has vascular dementia, she often doesn’t know what day it is and can’t complete thoughts or sentences.

But her intellect remains formidable. We were talking the other day and she asked, apropos of nothing, “What do you know about Evangeline? Do you know why Longfellow wrote it?”

I had to admit the only reason I knew about Evangeline was because James Lee Burke frequently mentions her in his Dave Robicheaux crime fiction stories. [1]

After that conversation I stopped at the Peabody library in Columbia City [2] and checked out a Longfellow collection. I plowed through the dense, almost impenetrable to me, 19th century text and came across the gem that I quoted at the start of this post.

We’ve been talking a lot about fountains these days. Son Josh has done a jaw-dropping amount of genealogical research and relevant to this post our family name [3] can be rendered as “to the fountain.”

The words of a long dead poet, dredged up who knows why by the tangled synapses of my mom’s mind, through a good public library, to my son’s genealogical research.

These things flow by and through me. I’m a baffled conduit of wonder.

1. I didn’t admit that I thought Wordsworth wrote Evangeline. One of my great regrets in life was that I pursued a technical rather than a liberal arts education.

2. Public libraries are a treasure. I’m filled with hope every time after I visit one.

3. Zumbrun. Are you paying attention?

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Sounds Like Home

I’d planned to make broccoli beef tonight which we usually make with flank steak or something like that. But when I went to the freezer last night we were out of flank steak or sirloin or anything really appropriate.

So I grabbed a chuck roast [1] and slapped it in the refrigerator and decided I’d figure out how to make it work later[2].

Tonight rolled around, it’s 5pm and I’ve got a chunk of roast to get ready for supper. I considered slicing it paper thin and searing it and hoping for the best, but then I remembered my favorite cooking tool, the pressure cooker.

This isn’t one of the modern Instant Pots, this is an old school pressure cooker. You pour in some water, a chunk of meat, crank the heat and let it rattle away for 30 minutes or so and you make a tough old chuck roast meltingly tender.

More than anything else, it reminds me of home. My mom and my grandmothers used pressure cookers. To hear it rattling away on the stovetop and to smell the rich steam takes me home again when I was a little kid [3] and that sound and smell meant good things soon like beef and noodles.

Or good things like broccoli beef. We’re eating light these days, and beef and noodles served over mashed potatoes doesn’t exactly fit the bill.

So I sliced the chuck roast thin, trimming off all the fat and put it in the pressure cooker with garlic, ginger, soy sauce and water. Once it got up to steam I set the timer for 12 minutes and cut up a couple heads of broccoli, a green bell pepper, and some green onions.

Then after the beef came out of the pressure cooker I seared the beef in the wok, added the vegetables, then a sauce of soy sauce, oyster sauce, ginger, garlic, and scallions and et voila!

Broccoli Beef

Served on a bed of cauliflower rice, it’s delicious, light, and … tastes like home.

1. Yes, it bothers me to cook “Chuck”.
2. I’m a little hard-wired. The menu was done first, so the ingredients must conform to the menu. To adapt the menu, since it was done first, would be, well, wrong.
3. ” Didn’t have a care in the world
With mommy and daddy standin’ by”

— End of the Innocence, by Don Henley

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Just Me, Just Running

I love to run. 9 miles this morning on one of my favorite routes down Chapine Road.

I’m training for a marathon this fall. I don’t know that I’ll get there, that these old feet, knees, and hips will stand up to the pounding.

But I just love to run. To go out this morning and spend an hour and 45 minutes running was pure pleasure. Not that it didn’t hurt. My feet and back were aching during the run, and my quads are going to tell me about it tomorrow.

While running I lose myself in my thoughts, just drift along ruminating on old memories, or thinking about what might happen next, or just enjoying the moment, feeling my breath cycling oxygen in and co2 out, my heart beating strong, all fueling my legs to keep moving on.

Running a marathon will be nice, but just running makes me happy.

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Artificial (non) Intelligence

I was at Wal*Mart in Columbia City today with my mom, and we picked up a box of Zeiss Wipes, looked at them, realized that wasn’t what we were looking for, and put them back. And when I got home and opened up Facebook this ad was in my feed.

I don’t know what bothers me more, the creepy stalking by Wal*Mart or sheep-like belief by advertisers that this sort of “big data – A.I. – targeted marketing” works.

Let me spell it out for you Wal*Mart, you’re wasting your money, I’ve never bought any brand of lens wipes and I’m unlikely to ever buy lens wipes. Get the message?

I’ve never clicked on an online ad and so obviously I’ve never purchased anything from doing so. Maybe you targeted marketing chimps[1] could factor that into your algorithms. Oh wait, that would cut into your revenue. Don’t do that, it’s all about how much money you can generate, that’s the only measure that matters[2].

And if that isn’t clear enough for you, I never, ever, willingly shop at Wal*Mart[3]. You are a disgusting blight on our community. Go away, shoo, shoo!

1. These chimps are software developers. I’ve written software, boy and man, since 1982. These chimps are my professional brothers and sisters. My siblings? I’m ashamed of you.

And for what? For a little bit of money. There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’t you know that? And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day. Well, I just don’t understand it.
— Marge Gunderson’s soliloquy in the movie Fargo.

2. “For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil.” – 1 Timothy 6:10. Or as a latter day prophet, Sir Albert Howard, put it “the cursed thirst for profit is at the root of the mischief.”

3. I did buy groceries at Meijer for a while, but I couldn’t shake the unclean feeling. It’s a horrible soulless place, sucking the life out of the community. I don’t care if they do stock Edwin Coe products.

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Ain’t Gonna Study War No More

This ad has been running on TV this fall. The Army as a POV video game. Those aren’t human beings on the other side of your point of view, they’re “challenges.”

We’re not “fighting for honor”, we’re not “fighting for country”. We are fighting to win battles as pointless as a video game and the dead, crippled, and maimed suffered and suffer for no reason.

I reject this glorification of the military.

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

Any question on how He will judge us?

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Just Another Day

I was commuting into work today, 33 to 30 to I-69 to 14. About 6am as usual on I-69 between 30 and 14. I’m cruising along in the right lane, driving the speed limit, listening to them play the Star Spangled Banner on 101.7 FM.

There was a semi in the center lane beside me, pulling away [1], but crowding the lane marker between us. And just like that it started coming over hard towards me, no turn signal or anything.

I was close to the westbound 14 exit so I yanked my Ranger to the right. The Ranger swerved sickeningly but held on and I shot down the exit at 65 mph.

Whoa! I went west on 14, u-turned, and went back to my happy little office like nothing at all had happened.

And nothing had, it was just another day.

And it was just another reminder that it can all be gone, just like that, on just another day.

Love the ones you’re with, today.

1. Of course it was pulling away from me. I was driving the speed limit.

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A Year

I was telling [1] Debbie that I just didn’t feel like I was making any progress running, I just couldn’t add miles and was stuck. She said, “But think about where you started.”

I always do what Debbie tells me, so I went back pulled up my workouts from a year ago and from today.


I’ve gone from being able to do 3 miles a year ago to doing 8 miles today[2].

It’s hard to see progress day-to-day, but I keep putting one foot in front of the other and I’m getting where I want to go.

1. Well, whining if I want to be truthful.

2. The last 2 miles really hurt, whine, whine.

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Feeling Proud

I use a service provided by Atlassian to manage the source code for my company. The details don’t matter, it’s a dry as dirt, impossible to comprehend [1] Linux interface.

Today when I uploaded some code into the system, I got this response [2].


It blasted past on my screen and I thought, “what was that?” I scrolled it back down and realized it was an LGBT pride graphic rendered for a plain text terminal.

Well played, Atlassian, well played.


2. If you zoomed in on this graphic you got to share in the system nagging me about transposing characters in “push.”

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Garlic Many Ways

Last year my brother’s friend, Brian Bianski [1], gave me some garlic shoots. I didn’t have the first idea what to do with them, so I brought them home and stuck them in the ground.

Nothing happened, and the grass and weeds took over and then Debbie burned it all down with Roundup thinking it was just a weed patch. “Well,” I thought, “that was a failed experiment.”

Then this spring the garlic burst forth.

Garlic Patch

In June the garlic sends out flower buds. You’re supposed to cut those off so the plant will put its energy into the cloves underground. These flower buds are called garlic scapes and they have garlic flavor just like the cloves.

Garlic Scapes

So I had a big bowl full of garlic scapes and wondered what to do with them. I looked up recipes and found a recipe for a double garlic soup that used garlic scapes and green garlic. Scapes, I have plenty of, but what’s green garlic? A little more searching and I found out that green garlic is immature garlic cloves. I’ve got plenty of those too!

Green Garlic

These are a couple I dug from my garlic patch. They’re a little past the ‘green’ stage, but they’re still soft and mild, so close enough!

The scapes and green garlic all went into the pot.

Cooking Scapes

Then I added stock and so on as the recipe below calls for. I made a few croutons with lots of salt and garlic and parmesan cheese to sprinkle over the soup to add a bit of crunch to the bowl.

It was just splendid. A delicious meal from the scraps of pruning the garlic patch and the thoughts of good friends.

Double Garlic Soup
– serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a side

3 fat bulbs green garlic
3 Tbsp butter
3 c chopped garlic scapes
1 1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
3/4 tsp kosher salt (more to taste, depending on how salty your butter and stock is)
ground black pepper
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 quart chicken stock
1 c half-and-half (or whole milk or cream or skim milk or yogurt, whatever you like)
2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
freshly grated nutmeg

Trim the root and green part of the green garlic, and remove the outermost layers, then chop it finely. In a soup pot, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add green garlic and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic scapes, thyme, salt and pepper, and sauté for 5 minutes.

Stir in diced potato and broth, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until scapes and potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Add half-and-half, and purée soup with a blender. Stir in the lemon juice and season with more salt and pepper. Garnish with nutmeg and thyme leaves, and serve hot.

Add garlic parmesan croutons to make it a triple garlic soup!

1. I hadn’t seen Brian since high school. A few years after Dave died I was standing in Ranney’s Welding Shop in Churubusco talking with Ranney about welding a part for me and I felt someone staring at me from the side. I turned and he (Brian) said, “Chuck? You freaked me out, you sounded just like Dave.” I think we all still expect to turn and find Dave there.

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I want to ride it where I like

I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like

– Freddie Mercury

Went for a bike ride today.

Where I Like

I went past Goose Lake and Old Lake, skirted Etna [1] wandered north until I hit Merry Lea and realized where I was. Turned south, avoided Ormas [2], crossed along the south edge of Merry Lea, then around Bender’s Orchard [4]. I stayed straight south until I hit Crane Lake then turned for home. Went past Dulcuis Vineyards [5] and then turned down old 102 towards Tri-Lakes.

That took me past the farm my great-great-great grandfather [6] lived on back in the 1850’s. I went around Shriner Lake, where my brother and I bought a cottage in the late 1970’s and where my great good friend Deb Imbody has a cottage now.

Almost home, I churned down Burd Road past where my grandparents lived when I was growing up, and where nephew Tom has some nice looking beans on the farm we still call “Grandma’s.”

And then the final slog down the gravel road I live on.

I was just out riding. Not pushing it, no goals, just enjoying a summer morning before it got too hot, reconnecting with my world. I don’t want to ride in a group, or in organized events. I just want to ride my bicycle where I like.

1. Wanting to avoid as they say on 91.5 FM, The Eagle, “The busy streets of Etna.”

2. There’s a Baptist [3] church there.

3. I misspelled “Baptist” and my spellchecker offered the choices of “Baptist, Rapist, and Papist.”

4. Bender’s was looking good, but my apple trees are too. Don’t know that I’ll need to buy apples this fall.

5. Dulcius Vineyards is about the coolest thing ever. Someone with a lot of money and skill plopped a vineyard right here in my neck of the woods. It’s a beautiful thing. So much of the ground around here should not be used to grow corn and soybeans. It makes me so happy to see people trying other things.

6. Henry Sylvester Zumbrun.

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