Saturday, November 28, 2015


here is an actual convesation i had with MB last week:

goes to find some fontina to wipe up this pasta sauce

MB:  You use cheese to wipe up sauce?!?
flask: yes.
          that way, more cheese.
          you make that sound bad.
MB:   I've just never heard of that
          It's like a whole new world. I just use bread or my tongue
flask:  it's sort of like wiping it up with bread, only cheesier.
          mind blown
flask: yes, you can. ​laughs
MB:  bows to the master
         I am not worthy

Thursday, November 26, 2015

loading the boats

i know you are both DYING to know how i got all that stuff into the boats.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

buy nothing day

i don't buy anything on thanksgiving or black friday. not in stores, not online. i reserve these two days for the NOT BUYING OF ANYTHING.

i recommend you do, too.


because we have to stop enabling this nonsense.

we have to stop enabling the commercial culture that equates thing buying with being smart, being loved, and being acceptable to our loved ones.

more and more our commercial culture takes family holidays (whether you keep a birth family or a chosen family) and makes them into a death spiral of consumption, competition, unreasonable expectations and- get this- thanksgiving shopping and black friday shopping TAKE US AWAY from our families and our meals in favor of buying stuff we largely don't need.

think: we have an economic model based on exploiting the NEED of the middle and lower classes.

think: we have a culture that promises if we only spend MORE, we will feel secure.

think: maybe you DO enjoy competitive crowded shopping, but maybe your kids / spouse / relatives / friends would like to just sit down with you and enjoy your company.

think: some person, probably working for low wages and hovering near poverty, is now required to go to work whether s/he wants to or not on one of the few remaining days that was left to them.

did you really need to go shopping on thanksgiving? do you suspect there won't be BIG SALES later?

but those stores will be open as long as we keep showing up. those businesses will exploit your fears and their workers as long as we make it profitable.

so i don't buy anything on thanksgiving. not gas, not groceries, even if i run out of toilet paper. and i don't go black friday shopping. i suggest that you don't either.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

old-fashioned thanksgiving

i am having an old fashioned thanksgiving this year. which i mean that i will be arriving by boat and eating limited food under temporary shelter in the dark.

i'm feeling the darkness kind of sharply this year, and one good way to drive it out is to go live in it, alone.

so camping.

chop wood. tie knots. try to make yourself comfortable and you won't notice so much the gnawing.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

thanksgivings past, volume two

so after my parents divorced, we had a general sense of relief that we were no longer required to show up as an ensemble for the annual parade of crazy.

but then my mom got a job that required her presence -and ours- on thanksgiving.

it was kind of a cool job. the university used to partner with IBM to bring guys (always guys, somehow) here to get a one year accelerated master's degree in electrical engineering, and they didn't just bring the guys. they brought their whole families to live here for the year.

only about a third of those families were from the US, the rest coming largely from france and germany, with a smattering of japanese and the occasional lithuanian.

and the program was kind of geniusly set up to include support systems for the families, because it can be hard to be plopped down in a foreign country for a year and have to rent a house and do the shoppings and get the kids to school and one of the parents is ALL THE TIME STUDYING.

so my mom's job was coordinating of the living parts of the program. she ran the weekly coffee/support group and the social gatherings and helped make connections and paperworks and all that.

and part of the experience was the good old fashioned american thanksgiving.

it was held at a local retreat center with an dining area and industrial kitchen. the americans would argue over which kind of stuffing / cornbread / pie was the best and how to properly prepare side dishes and we would assure our european and asian friends that these arguments are, in fact, part of a traditional american thanksgiving, especially when regional differences come into play.

it was a potluck thanksgiving. everybody brought things. american families brought all of the traditional regional dishes. the german women (some stereotypes exist for a reason) can loaded up with all kinds of german breads and pastries and bustled about industriously. the french women provided much of the soup and much of the wine and stood around smoking and criticizing the kinds of wines available in the US. the japanese women typically had the least command of english and the least understanding of european culture, and were most likely to bring dishes that looked most obviously japanese, for which they were apologetic.  they seemed to feel the least comfortable and the least like they fit in, but i loved them and i loved their delicious japanese thanksgiving potluck foods.

it was a splendid way to have thanksgiving, and a thing i would not trade for, but when the program ended and we no longer had to go anywhere for thanksgiving, my family largely stepped back to staying at home, not answering the phone, and pretty much doing nothing.

my mom started going to the cape. i took up thanksgiving camping.

when people ask me if my family gets together for thanksgiving and i say no, they typically express some kind of regret that my family is not close.

well, no. we get together for birthday celebrations in late october, mid november, and early december, plus christmas. we just don't do a big thanksgiving usually. we're ok with that.


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