Showing posts with label Bruschettas. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bruschettas. Show all posts

Monday, September 4, 2023

Conversation Under the Maple

“Hi Guys,” says Shal, coming through the gate. “Gosh, I’m excited about today.”


“Hi Sal, Hi, Hi’s,” echo around the group. Laffy, the coon hound ambles over to give Shal a greeting. “Hi, fellow,” he says, scratching the dog behind the ear. “I’ve hit on something really fascinating.”


“Great, Shal,” says Ollie, “We can move on from sex, lies, and videotapes.”


“Did I miss something?” says Harvey, “I thought we were only talking about lies.”


“Whoops, I padded it,” says Ollie, “Want an iced tea Shal?” She holds out a frosty glass. 


“Indeed, thanks.” He takes the glass and sits on the one vacant chair.” Sally, you fixed Bruschettas?” 


“Yeah, I just toasted them. They should be hot.”


“Oh Sally, I’ll love you forever.” He picks up a slice of a toasted baguette smeared with olive oil and topped with fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic, and vinegar and takes a big bite.”


“Hurry and chew, Shal. I want to hear what you came up with.”


“Mumble, Yum. First things first, how do you make something so simple taste so good, Sal?” 


“TLC Shal.”


“I’m grateful for you, Sally. I’m grateful for this Bruschetta. Where do you get your tomatoes anyway? I’m grateful for all of you.” He washes down his Bruschetta with tea and says, “Here’s what I heard from Dr. Joe Dispenzia:”


“Yeah, I know of him,” says Harvey, “my daughter went to him when he was a Chiropractor in San Diego. He’s become quite a scientist with a grand audience.”


“He’s into healing and genes, and physiology and all that. Did you know that genes are like Christmas tree lights in that they turn off and on? It rather negates the old idea of mixing a blue-eyed gene with a brown-eyed gene, and viola’ you get a brown-eyed person—dominant and recessive, brown wins.”


“Maybe some don’t turn off and on.”


“But some do, and here’s the rub: they are affected by stress.”


“No wonder people are running hot or cold. Their genes don’t know whether to be on or off.” 


“And how we think affects them. When we’re stressed, worrying, and thinking the same dismal thoughts day after day, our body is operating in survival mode. Cortisol, the stress hormone, pours into the brain.”


“We have flight or flight for survival, a built-in system,” says Harvey, “Get the heck out of there, or fight it.”


“That works well in the short term. Even herds of antelope settle down after a lion kills one of their herd. They calmly graze until a lion gets hungry and antsy again. Then all hell breaks loose. But people can’t settle down. Most live under constant dread of something: financial worries, relationship worries, world conditions, political conditions, health conditions, and if that isn’t bad enough, we worry about dying. Even us. Last week, we were stewing over what to believe and how people manipulated us. We just don’t let up.”


“And then there is that chattering brain,” says Ollie, “You drop something, and your mind says you're clumsy. You say a wrong word, and somebody corrects you, and then you add to it by berating yourself for being stupid. It’s constant.”


“Yeah, like we’re never supposed to muck up,” says Simad,” Do it right all the time.”


“You guys, see how easy it is to get into the ‘Ain’t it awful game?”


“Shal, we did that, didn’t we? I fell right into it.” Says Simad. “As a writer, I deal with rejection all the time. How are we supposed to manage in a competitive world?”


“Give yourself some wins, Simad. Celebrate those milestones. You know when you have written a good chapter. Acknowledge yourself, then write another. You know you can do it. You are getting better. So what if it doesn’t appeal to everybody. It never will. That’s the name of the game. It’s only a game, Simad. Stop comparing yourself to others.”


“Yes, sir.”


“Sorry Simad.”


“Tough love,” says Ollie, “sometimes hard to take, yet often meant in the kindest way.”


“I feel better already,” says Simad. “I know I’m being too hard on myself. I need to be reminded to lighten up. Thanks, Shal.”


“Yeah, we have this minute time on earth. Let’s live it gloriously. Even if you believe in reincarnation, don’t wait for another lifetime to get it right. Or wait for heaven where you will be happy.”


Here, hear. How shall we do it?”


“Back to Doctor Joe, he says to take time every day to have an elevated emotion. Do it three times a day. It is like dropping a pebble into the water, and another and another, keep those rings going. 


“Energy affects matter. The more energy, the more matter can be affected. Without positive energy, we are shoving matter with matter, and you know how stubborn that rock of matter can be. Fire it up with grateful thoughts. Doc Joe found 10 minutes of gratitude daily is better than a flu shot. And it only took three days for his subjects to become measurably better. He says you can heal yourself that way.


“Stop thinking the same thoughts you thought yesterday,” Twinkie ruminates. “Why do we have such talkative brains anyway?”


“It’s narrating our lives,” says Ollie. The reason to meditate is to stop the mind chatter. It gives our poor little thinking brain a breather.” 


Shal asks, “Would anyone like to join me and spend at least 10 minutes a day in gratefulness or meditation for the next week?”


“Sure, I’ll do it, Shal,” says Twinkie.”


“Me too,” says Ollie.” 


There followed unanimous agreement. Six people would meditate for 10 minutes three times a day, or 30 minutes total, until next Tuesday. 


“I’m coming back 40 pounds lighter next week,” says Harvey.


“Isn’t it strange how committing to 30 minutes seems immense? Thirty minutes. I spend more time washing dishes than 30 minutes. I’m more important than dirty dishes. ‘


“Leave’em until next week, Ollie. I’ll wash them for you.”


“You’re a doll, Shal,” says Ollie, pushing herself out of her chair and rushing into the house.


Soon, music booms through the speakers on the porch, with Joni Michael singing Both Sides Now


Startled to hear Michael’s voice, Twinkie gives a “Whoop! This song has gained new popularity recently. Come on, Harv.” She stands and offers her hand to pull Harvey to his feet. They all stand, join hands, and sway as Michael sings her 55-year-old song that is as pertinent that day as the day she penned it. Harvey has tears flowing down his face, remembering clouds from both sides. Now he knows that those clouds of Michael’s song rain and snow on everyone, not just him. And he can choose his sides.






Monday, August 28, 2023

Under the Maple


Ollie sits with Twinkie and Sally as they wait for the others to arrive, and when they appear at the side gate to the backyard, they are in deep conversation. Harvey holds the gate for the other two men.


"Hi guys," says Ollie.


Greetings are exchanged, and Ollie returns to Shal, "Hey Shal, is that watermelon for us?'


"You betcha. Shall I drop it on the ground the way we used to as kids when we were stealing from Mr. Wilson's watermelon patch?


"No," we're sophisticated now. I'll get a knife. I'm ashamed that we were stealing."


"Mr. Wilson knew it."


"I know, but it was underhanded."


"It was a cat and mouse game. He loved it."


 "Yeah, but we could have asked."


"What, and ruin the fun? I'll go into the kitchen and slice this. You stay." Oh, by the way," he turns back, "You know what? After our talk last week about finding truth, I came upon a book titled How to Win the War on Truth the very next day."


"Fascinating when we find something on the very subject we were discussing," says Ollie, "Tell us about it."


I haven't read the book but listened to the author a bit. The part I heard was about recognizing propaganda.


"I'm listening," says Twinkie."


Shal sits down, still holding his watermelon." It was a crash course in recognizing propaganda. Did you know that after WWII, the word propaganda—by then, people knew it was biased and misleading information—publicists changed the wording to 'Public Relations."


"Nooo!" says Sally.


"Yep. "To recognize propaganda, we need to see that it is trying to sell something, whether it is an idea, a concept or a product."


Harvey chimed in, "Shal told us the word came from the church, in 'To Spread the Truth."


"Well heck," says Sally, Nothing wrong with spreading your ideas, just don't mislead us in the process."


"Ungh," Harvey drops his 250-pound frame into a lawn chair. "Wouldn't honest advertising do it?"


"Sadly, not in most cases," says Shal. "People resist parting with their hard-earned cash and need a compelling reason to do it. Try to be a used car salesman. People take your time, but are, ‘Just looking.’”


"Shal, you're not a used car salesman."


"I was to help pay for college."


"I'm glad I'm in the food industry," says Sally. "People don't need much of a push to eat."


"Your food is incredible, Sally, but few restaurants last longer than two years."


"Yeah, it takes business sense plus good cooking."


"Being Italian doesn't hurt, Sally."


"Yeah, why do you think I named it da Venezia, ‘from Venice.’ Was that deceitful? My great-great-grandfather was from there, and I use some of his recipes.


You're entitled to name your restaurant whatever you want. Hagen Daz sounds like happy days, but the words don't mean a thing."


"You guys are making me hungry. I'll go slice this watermelon. Let's meet tonight to Sally's for dinner. Sally, your Bruschettas are to die for."


"No dying here, Shal."


"Just a figure of speech."


Shal disappears into the kitchen whose widow overlooks the backyard where they sit. When he returns, the watermelon is in bite-sized squares with a container of toothpicks on the platter. He sets it on the low table in the center of their circle.


"So Shal," says Ollie, spearing a chunk of watermelon, "tell us more about finding lies."


"Well, some are clever marketing ploys, like the Macy's Thanksgiving parade the day before the hottest shopping day of the year. It's to promote Macy's.


"Listerine mouthwash, formerly used to clean floors, convinced people they had halitosis and needed a mouthwash.


"The 50-foot Hollywood sign in Los Angeles, California, originally had nothing to do with the Hollywood Film industry but was put up by a Real Estate Company to sell houses. Today, it's an icon."


"Those are relatively benign campaigns," says Harvey."


"It emphasizes that manipulation is involved," says Shal.


"Yes," and see how a clever phrase or icon catches on." Harvey lays one ankle over his other leg. "People visit that Hollywood sign every year. Now we hear that they are looking at a Real Estate Billboard."


"But a selfie of them and the sign proves they have been to Hollywood," says Sally. There they are at the film capital of the world. Oh, is it of the world? See how I've been led to believe it."


"I think it still is," says Shal, "We just need to know that propaganda is to sell us something, and usually it uses biased or misleading information. If it wasn't misleading, it is marketing, although marketing is often overblown information."


"It's called dramatization. Shal," says Harvey.


"But unless overblown, it wouldn't be interesting. It's a catch-22 situation. When science becomes political, it's dangerous. For example, 98 percent of the world's scientists say that Global Warming is a fact. Yet there is that 3% hanging on that it isn't happening. It is a mystery to me. I grew up where we had severe winters that froze the river so you could walk over it. Now my hometown might get a snow flurry in February, maybe none at all."


"Maybe it's denial. Who wants to believe the world is heating up on us."


"You are being generous, Twinkie," says Ollie.


 "Yeah," Twinkie responds," but how do we counter that?"


"I don't think 3% have much to say about it."


"Maybe not, but it causes dissension among the ranks. And we need to know if people brought about the warming and if there is something we can do about it. We need to get together to find answers. Not argue with each other. Can we either slow or stop the process, and what should we do? Stop using hair spray, stop industries from throwing toxic chemicals into the air and water? Yes. Can we assist with the process? I want to know what that is. I could go back to the horse and buggy days if need be. And now we understand animals better and would be kinder to them. I should invest in horses.


"You go, girl," says Ollie.


"On one hand," says Ollie, "I'm impressed that people want to believe others are telling them the truth—it shows the goodness in people. One the other hand, it appears there is a range of people waiting to manipulate to promote their agenda. I heard that most of President Reagan's political people were from ad agencies."


"Oh, that's funny—well, not really." Says Harvey.


"Nothing wrong with promoting your product—people need money to live." Says Sally.


"Maybe that’s something we need to change. Well the subject of money can go off in an entirely new direction. Even with bartering, horse traders tried to disguise a lame horse under the guise that it was sound. What'a ya do?"


"Oh, we know fakers came in long ago in ancient marketplaces. And they came with an agenda," says Ollie. "It's a 'Look at me. Follow my way of thinking. How do we know the fake from the true? Isn't that what we were into last week?"


"Yes, we were trying to see what's real from what's not. Fear creeps into the discussion. It's like the people who believe in God have a moment of doubt, and the ones who do not believe in God have a moment when they think maybe they're wrong.? Oh, I’m sorry, I butted in Ollie."


"You're right, Sally. We have that desire to believe, and then there is the skeptical part of us. It's tricky. There are two fractions: the believers and the manipulators.


"I guess that's why I'm such a poor marketer," says Simad, "I don't like embellishing the truth, and thus, my books sell like day-old bread."


"You're a great writer, Simad," says Twinkie, "I believe that the people seeking what you have to say will find you. Like attracts like you know."


"I suppose," says Simad, not sounding convinced.


"Shal, though," says Sally, "How do we know the difference between good news and bad?


"Bill Moyers, the journalist, said, "News is what people want to keep hidden, and everything else is publicity."


“His buddy Joseph Campbell, the father of 'The Journey of the Hero,' would say we are drawn to the story.


"We like drama. We are geared to the story," says Sahl, the way Deepak Chopra said we are hardwired to believe in God. Simad here's where you come in. You're the writer."


"Then, I need to tell a good story."


"Right on, good buddy," says Shal.


"But, back to what you were saying, Shal, how do we tell fact from fiction?"


"Here is one way: Does what we see or hear cause a negative reaction? I don't mean in fiction; I mean in real life."


"Hell, I can't tell the difference," says Harvey, plopping a watermelon cube into his mouth.


In world events," says Shal, "in dealing with people, does it enrage us.?"


"Hell yeah," says Harvey.


"Harvey, we need some criteria with which to judge. Let your feelings guide the way.


"It does enrage us to find we have been manipulated. I know it's more fun to be a true believer; it's more comforting. But perhaps a good dose of skepticism is important in a world where there is too much. Step back and be with people as we are here. Be with people who want what's good for you. Be with people who have your back and you theirs. Be with people who support your dreams and call you on your bullshit." He turns to Simad. "Simad, tell us, how do you find your inner path through life?


"Well," says Simad thoughtfully, there are three rules to find that inner path." He pauses.


"Come on, Simad, urges Twinkie, “tell us.”


"Number one:" Simad holds up a finger." Do the inner work to find the thing that rings your chimes.


"Number two: Take a step toward that goal that feels the most delicious.


"Number three: Repeat steps one and two over and over until you're dead."


They all laugh.


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P.S. Have you seen this picture of the one standing house in Lahaini Hawaii among all the burnt out ones?


The owner was on the mainland when the fire happened, and was sure his house was gone, but when he returned he found this.  Not only was he shocked, but he had survivor's guilt. So he is dedicating his house as a springboard place for others to gather, regroup and rebuild. His house was an old wooden frame house that he renovated himself. It has a steel roof, and river rock in the yard surrounding it. It doesn't even look singed.


This blog had a good connection last week. 4.65k in one week. Thank you readers, and now:


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