Just hi

Consumed by Food: Like the Continuum Transfunctioner, its mystery is exceeded only by its power.

Hey, I’m not reliable. Lately I’ve been writing for money and it kinda crowds out writing for fun. I’ll be back.

Meantime, here’s my requisite Facebook 25 things.

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because a) I am nosy and b) it’s fun. Fun is good.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

1. I like winter more than summer.

2. I write to find out what I think. People who don’t write think it’s a linear process, like you start at the beginning and go to the end. It’s not, it’s a lot of back and forth, fixing and sliding and moving words around. In the process, I almost always have an Aha Moment – that’s what I mean!

3. I can’t type. That’s helped me, actually. I go slowly anyway at the keyboard, because I say the words in my head as I type. I like words to fit together in harmony, with stresses that have power and transitions shifting noiselessly.

4. My wife has always been beautiful. When we go to her mother’s house in Indiana, I’m startled by the pictures of this hearty little girl, heartbreaking teenage chick, gorgeous college sorority girl. A couple months ago, we left the newspaper where we worked and old photos came out of the file cabinets of Dee as a young professional. Wow.

5. I like the NFL, but I like rugby more: no helmets, no pads, no stopping play every 30 seconds to call a meeting about what to do next. Everybody gets to handle the ball. Nobody gets to whine about a ref’s decision. It’s more of a game.

6. Cooking overtook journalism as my main interest about 10 years ago. I like the physicality as much as the mental challenge of turning a bag of groceries into dinner. And I like to learn, which is where culinary has the edge … there is so much to know. Thanks to TV, journalism has become all about what the “average reader” feels and wants, not what the editor knows to be news.

7. I miss sailing. When we owned a sailboat, we went down to the Bay as many weekends as we could. We drove down Friday night and got up at 4 a.m. on Monday to get back to work on time. We crewed on racing boats, we sailed with friends, we ran aground a lot and had not nearly enough vodka tonics sitting in the cockpit on moonlit nights.

8. My daughter called up eight years ago and said “Dad, I’m pregnant.” I had no idea we’d come to have two grandkids and a son-in-law. I would not have worried so much if I had known how well Megan would handle herself, what a good guy she would marry, and what wonderful children she’d have, and we’d have to enjoy.

9. My ex, Karen Carroll, comes to our house for Thanksgiving dinner every year with Megan, Nate, Conor and Kaci. We have been friends for a long time.

10. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. We have it on the Saturday after, originally because Megan (a nurse) and I (a reporter) often worked the holiday, now so the kids get to see all their grandparents at their different houses. On the official holiday, Dee and I go for dinner at the Hilton.

11. About 20 years ago, I conned my wife into rowing on the Susquehanna River. She was intimidated by the shell – 26′ long, 12″ wide, no initial stability – but encouraged by the fact that her awkward husband did it. Me, I just liked flying across the water in so elegant a craft. We raced our double for several summers. On a lake in northern Pennsylvania we were matched against a couple of college rowing coaches in a crushing rainstorm. We swamped just before the finish and had to be hauled out by the water rescue guys, who were great except they tried to pull me into the boat at the stern, where the outboard was. Going.

12. I don’t care for once-in-a-lifetime experiences. If it’s so great, I know I’m gonna want to repeat it.

13. Expensive things put me off. (See # 12.) I like good cigars, red wine and dark, dark chocolate but have no interest in “the best,” except for the best cheap stuff — Van Winkle’s Special Reserve Bourbon, for instance, or Chilean Cabernet. On Friday evenings at the weekly philosophy seminar held at RAE’s Tobacco, my friend George from the State Library will often offer me a wee glass of Lagavulin Single Malt aged in sherry casks. I don’t turn it down. I know he’ll still like me next week.

14. I have too much stuff. I’m fixing that, but it’s a struggle.

15. Last year, I interned in the kitchen at the Hilton Harrisburg and blogged about it at ConsumedByFood.wordpress.com. It was a hell of a lot of fun. I miss it. Hard, hot, relentless work reveals a lot about the people who do it. Even the managers did actual work, a new thing in my employment experience.

16. Some days at the Hilton I wondered what my life would be like if I’d chosen cooking instead of journalism, and worked in restaurants. But I saw myself standing in front of a grill one day thinking, “I wonder if I could have been a writer …”

Now I use my blog (http://tinyurl.com/5a3rw6) as a cooking journal, and if it interests other people, okay. The thing is I let it go for weeks at a time, then get enthusiastic about blogging again. Something tells me to make up my mind and do it or don’t, but then I say “Why?”

17. Women are my favorite people.

18. I love opera. When we lived in the city we used to rent operas on video at Blockbuster and have Sunday morning Opera Breakfasts – eggs and pancakes and bacon and coffee and fruit. I am an absolute sucker for Italian opera. Dee liked to play the Traviata banquet music on the piano. The great and beautiful conductor Victoria Bond challenged me to be in Harrisburg Opera’s production of Tosca – as a spear-carrier – and it was a hoot. Got a good column out of it, too.

19. Entropy, abandonment and neglect have a weird, powerful attraction for me. Old barns, vacant shopping centers, seven used cars on an abandoned sales lot can really get me. Bleak-R-Us. Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth turned out to be big faves, once I put aside my early fascination with Chagall.

20. Until spinning, I never liked exercise classes. I did a spinning class for a feature story, went back the next week and did it again, and then I stumbled into the best class ever at noon at the downtown Y. Ever. It is still really hard, but it’s with a roomful of occasional friends and an instructor who lifts people up, way past their perceived limits of exertion. I’d never work this hard on my own.

21. Hmmm. Friends. About 10 years ago, it occurred to me that I had all the friends I’d ever have. I’m not social by nature, I don’t have any small talk and I’m not fond of people who do. One day I happened to walk into the cigar store in Strawberry Square and got into a conversation with a woman named Joan, who was behind the counter. She was smart and serious and funny. Her husband Al turned out to be all that and a war hero, and an advocate for handicapped people. Through them I entered the Friday night gathering at RAE’s, which reminds me a lot of my wife’s Army reunion group, BALTA. Ya never know.

22. Two things I waited until retirement to try are golf and fly fishing – to me, old guy stuff. The cigar store crew dragged me onto the golf course two years ago. I liked it. Bought clubs on eBay last year. I’ve got two writing gigs set up so I have money to feed my golf addiction, should I develop one. We’ll see what happens.

23. Paris is my favorite city. Bonjouring the corner newsstand guy in the morning, jamming into a busy bistro for a prix fixe lunch, standing in line at a bakery at sunset for a dinner baguette – I like it. Second favorite: New Orleans.

24. Not working has given us the time to take our large goofy dog to the park a lot. He is a Lab/Newfie mix, black, and his name is Rugby. He doesn’t like other dogs, but he did sorta fall in love with a three-legged mutt on the beach at Duck last month. We take Rugby to Pinchot and walk a trail that takes us about 50 minutes when it’s pleasant weather but 75 minutes the other day on the ice. (Note to winter walkers: YakTrax http://tinyurl.com/62fh3a)

25. After 17 years of Catholic school, I lost all interest and belief in The Church. A decade later, I met my first Buddha. His name was Barker, a minister who became a reporter. Yeah, funny name. Funny guy. Later I met Dave, an old farmer turned minister, and Mary, a reporter who became a nurse to fly into bleak, dangerous civilizations and help sick people. All my Buddhas help people as a way of life. I have about a dozen now. They don’t hand out religious tracts or solicit donations for their new cathedral or say, “You can sit down and eat dinner here, homeless guy, if you pray with us.” They just help.

Although I have affection for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Martina Navratilova and Lance Armstrong, it is the Buddhas who became my heroes. They live the immortal words of Bill and Ted: “Be excellent to each other!”

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