Ruining a steak

I saw this graphic on FaceBook this morning and it made me think of my grandmother:


Kate grew up in the country. Her father was a farmer with a third grade education. They didn’t always have a lot of ready cash, but they were never, ever hungry. It was kind of a shame that she didn’t like “vegetavles,” because they were abundant. She was a bread-and-meat kind of girl. And, when she was old, she enjoyed going out for dinner to a steak house.

I took her to a Western Sizzlin’ or whatever equivalent was in Morganton, NC, one time, and freaked out the guy taking our order when she asked for a filet mignon cooked well done. He said “It will be a charcoal briquet if we do that.” She insisted that was always how she had he meat cooked. He found his manager to deal with her because he was at a complete loss for what to do. The manager said, “We can butterfly it and cook it that way, but a filet is too think to make it well done and still be edible.” I said that would be fine.

When it came to the table, she was delighted. It was the best steak she had ever had.

Sometime after that, I took her out for dinner, again, and, again, she ordered a filet cooked to death. The server got this appalled expression and started to say something. I stopped hi, smiling and said, “Just have the kitchen butterfly it and cook it that way. She will be delighted with it.” He kind of shook his head and wrote down the rest of our order.

And she was delighted. I was, too. It made me happy to have the ability to make her happy and de-stress the people who were helping me do that.

Paste magazine’s list of 30 of the Best Horror Books

Yes.  I realize there are 31 books on the list.  Not my fault Paste is a little tweaked.

This is the list from the article found here:

Bold means I’ve read it.  Italics means I only saw the movie.  Both means I read it AND saw the movie.

  1. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
  2. The Amityville Horror – Jay Anson
  3. Books of Blood, Vol. 1-3 – Clive Barker
  4. Broken Monsters – Lauren Beukes
  5. Carrion Comfort – Dan Simmons
  6. Coraline – Neil Gaiman
  7. The Damnation Game – Clive Barker
  8. Dracula – Bram Stoker
  9. The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty
  10. Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus – Mary Shelley
  11. Ghost Story – Peter Straub
  12. The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum
  13. Haunted – Chuck Palaniuk
  14. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
  15. Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill
  16. Horns – Joe Hill
  17. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
  18. I have No Mouth, And I Must Scream – Harlan Ellison
  19. It – Stephen King
  20. John Dies @ the End – David Wong
  21. Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist
  22. Little Star – John Ajvide Lindqvist
  23. The Complete Fiction of H. P. Lovecraft – Howard Phillips Lovecraft
  24. Lunar Park – Bret Easton Ellis
  25. The Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
  26. The October Country – Ray Bradbury
  27. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Alvin Schwartz
  28. Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
  29. The Shining – Stephen King
  30. The Tune of the Screw – Henry James
  31. World War Z – Max Brooks

I’m saving this for the times when I can’t decide what to read next.

Bone Wind

Found on Tumblr this morning by following #ordinary things.  I”m saving it here because I really like the poem and want to remember it in December.

Bone wind has returned b2ap3_thumbnail_February-2015-117.JPG
    mother of winter’s chill
    sweeping through bare branches
    and rattling dusty leaves.

    The remnants of summer
    have completely faded
    and the doorway to the new year
    has cracked open.

    With the skeletal swirl of frost and freeze
    I see the hint
    of new things
    waiting to burst from behind the door.

    Hibernating now perhaps
    hunkered down to wait it out
    resting, biding time, percolating
    nestled in darkness
    but, oh so ready, to grow.

    It is only on the surfaceb2ap3_thumbnail_February-2015-122.JPG
    that the world prepares to take a long nap
    underneath the crust
    change boils
    life bubbles
    new ideas gestate
    and time crowns anew
    with the promise and potential of birth
    held in cupped hands.

    The flame of fresh ideas flickers
    and catches
    until the blaze of possibility
    envelopes the cold.

RiverRun Film Festival, 2015 – Part 2

Yosemite  “The lives of three 5th graders intertwine in the suburban paradise of Palo Alto circa 1985, as the threat of a mountain lion looms over the town. Featuring James Franco in a supporting role, the film is adapted from short stories in Franco’s collection ‘A California Childhood.’ ”

This wasn’t really what we expected.  We thought we were getting a variation on “Stand By Me” and instead it simply a week in the lives of 3 boys.  So, the 11 year old who went along was completely underwhelmed.

It was scary in an anticipating-something-bad-happening kind of way.  So much so that it was a relief when it finally did.

I like it better in retrospect than I did while I watched it.  Which isn’t uncommon for me watching that kind of film.

The Long Start to the Journey  “Filmmaker Chris Gallaway documents his own personal attempt to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail and to learn what the path means to individuals he meets along the way. This is a personal story of struggle and perseverance as well as a historical account of the origins and cultural relevance of the Appalachian Trail.”

I think this is probably the best film about the AT that has been made.  It has a little history, some gorgeous scenery and tons of information about what to expect.  I think anyone considering hiking it, sectionally or through-hiking, should see it.

RiverRun Film Festival, 2015 – Part 1

Anywhere Else  “Noa, an Israeli grad student working on her thesis in Berlin about untranslatable words, returns home to find her family less than enamored with her life choices and struggles to define her connections to both place and family.”  This is an interesting look at how families deal with each other and how other people see those interactions from the outside looking in.  A woman goes home to visit her large, loud family and her boyfriend, who has virtually no family, follows her.

She’s Beautiful When She’s AngryThe brilliant, often outrageous women who founded the feminist movement of the 1960s proclaimed that “the personal is political” and made a revolution–in the bedroom, in the workplace, and in all spheres of life. Labeled as threatening by the FBI yet often dismissed in history books, these radical women changed the world.”  There were a couple of places that made me tear up a little.  I liked the back and forth between the movers and shakers of the movement, then and now. I was frustrated when they were talking about the plaza full of women and there were men there, too.  But, men supporters went unnoticed and unmentioned, except for 2 young men in the present saying “This is what a feminist looks like!”  I recognize that this was about the women and their revolution.  But, I also know that if men don’t participate in change, it won’t happen.

The Tribe goes on the shelf with A Clockwork Orange, Pulp Fiction and Lord of the Flies. There were times when it dragged because sign language that you don’t understand doesn’t constitute dialogue.  It was shocking and brutal and sad. (“Winner of multiple Cannes Film Festival awards, The Tribe is an undeniably original and intensely jarring film set in the insulated world of a Ukranian high school for the deaf. Utilizing no spoken dialogue or subtitles, the film builds upon non-verbal acting and sign language from a cast of deaf, non-professional actors to a shocking conclusion.)

The Chinese MayorControversial Chinese politician Geng Yanbo demolished 140,000 households and relocated half a million people in order to restore ancient relic walls for the sake of the region’s tourism industry. The film investigates one mayor’s mission to save his city and uncovers the secret workings of China’s Communist Party.”  This is an excellent documentary about a man trying to make a positive difference with limited time.  I think it gives a good look into how modern China is working.  Or not.

Animated Shorts:  (Me without Chuck)

Animator vs. Animation IV  This is cute. A stick figure comes to life.
A Blue Room Surreal
Broken Face Lighthouse keepers and a creature from the Deeps.
No actual story, but interesting to see. Would make a good screensaver.
Hopkins & Delaney LLP 
Wow.  I don’t even remember this one, because it is pointless.
Mend and Make Do
This is funThe animation is interesting and the story is good.  I won’t be surprised to see this nominated for an Oscar.
Another screensaver
I nodded off
Tren Italia 
I nodded off, again.
Wire Cutters This is entertaining.  2 robots gem hunting for different corporations encounter each other.

Documentary Shorts: (Chuck without me)

A Day at School
First Lesson
Socotra: The Hidden Land

Narrative Shorts:

Digits This light and brief.  The beginning of a love story, maybe.
Foreign Bodies
Liked this. An amputee coming to grips with his loss.
Jenny and Steph
There was no complexity here.  You know the outcome as the story begins.
The Karman Line
This started as a comedy, but didn’t end that way.
This wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t particularly gripping either.  Abandoned daughter searching for her missing father. 
Sun Air Water
  Chinese single mother and her young son trying to cope.  Well done. You feel you know them.

Late Night Shorts:  This was awful.  Drunks out to see shorts and, then, technical difficulties.  Some asshole behind me hit me the head with his butt 3 times getting up to go get more booze.  Or to pee.  Whatever.  We won’t do that again.

Day 40 Twisted Noah.  Not interesting.
Not entirely obvious, but not particularly interesting.
Help Point
Vaguely entertaining,
I do not remember this one at all.
A Mile in These Hooves 
This was stupid.
Once Upon a… 
YouTube material.
Pink Elephant 
I did like this one.
This was horrible.  We think the RiverRun selection committee ran this because it was made by UNC-SA students and they felt obligated.  And the students were trying to shock for the sake of shocking not for the sake of a story.  It was dark and surreal and stupid.
Dark and funny. I liked this one a lot.
Sea Beach Local
This rambled aimlessly.

We were underwhelmed enough with the shorts choices that we won’t bother to include them again.  It wasn’t worth the price or time sitting through crap to see the few that we thought were worth seeing.  An advantage to shorts is that if they are bad, they’re over soon.  But, if there are several in a row, you’re screwed.

Poverty, Inc.  “From disaster relief to TOMS Shoes, from adoptions to agricultural subsidies, Poverty, Inc. follows the butterfly effect of our most well-intentioned efforts and explores the hidden side of doing good. Are we catalyzing development or are we propagating a system in which the poor stay poor while the rich get hipper?” This is excellent.  It’s a look at foreign aid from the perspective of the “beneficiaries.”  The producer who was there for Q&A said that it didn’t have answers, but he hoped it would begin a  conversation about what was really helpful to people in need.  And I think he was correct.  Clearly, the old way hasn’t been working.  A new way of addressing these issues is needed.

Heart of Wilderness  “Fleeing a local drug ring, Travis and Aimee must confront the secrets they keep while navigating the icy waters of the Minnesota wilderness.”  We were at the world premiere, sitting behind the row of producers, actors, director, writer and editor.  (One of the actors kept sneaking vape hits and it smelled like a cotton candy flavor.)  It kind of wandered, but I think it meant to.  It ended without knowing exactly where they would end up and that was fine.

Elephant Song  “A psychiatrist is drawn into a complex mind game when he questions a disturbed patient about the disappearance of a colleague. Adapted for the screen from Nicolas Billon’s play of the same name, the film stars Bruce Greenwood, Catherine Keener, Carrie-Anne Moss and RiverRun alum Xavier Dolan.”  This put me in mind of Equus.  It is dark and twisty.  It will probably make it to regular theaters.

Proud Citizen  “After winning second place in a play writing contest, a Bulgarian woman travels to small town Kentucky for the premiere of her play. Expecting southern hospitality, she instead finds an America full of dichotomy in this funny, heartwarming and sometimes heartbreaking meditation on the comfort (and discomfort) of strangers.”  This was good.  She is lonely and brave and adventurous.

Patchwork FamilyChristian is a reeling divorced father who only sees his young daughter Vanessa on weekends. When a popular reality TV triathlon comes to town, however, he sees the competition as a chance for redemption and lets it all hang out–figuratively and literally–in this charmingly oddball French comedy.” “French comedy” kind of says it all.  Fun, light, lots of laughs.

When Under Fire: Shoot Back  “The Bang Bang Club were four fearless young photographers who set out to expose the reality of Apartheid in South Africa–a battle that changed a nation but wound up nearly destroying them in the process.”  I didn’t want to speak for an hour after seeing this.  There was no applause in the theater when it was over.  The photos the Bang Bang Club took were too awful and their lives were too shattered by what they saw for applause to be an acceptable reaction.  It is an excellent documentary.  But, it is also hard to watch.

No godliness here

I think you should be able to find the floor. I think vermin should not be encouraged. When there are big pieces of dirt, they should be removed.  That’s is, for the most part, my requirements about house cleaning.

This translates into dishes in the dishwasher as soon as possible (cooked on food soaking for no longer than one night’s sleep) and clothes going in the hamper as soon as they are taken off.  Old wrappers, tags from new clothes, empty cartons and boxes go into the trash or recycling bin immediately.  This keeps things, for the most part, picked up, making actual cleaning easier when the time finally comes.

My mother is a fan of what I refer to as “cleaning invisible dirt.”  She wants the bathroom cleaned every week.  I am fine with waiting until I see soap scum or whiskers in the sink.  Or when company is coming.  I dust when I see dust, too.  Not on a schedule.

When I was young, I put more effort into living up to my mother’s standards.  But, I was doing laundry at a friends house one day and struggling to fold a fitted sheet.  And bitching because it was something I have never been able to do with any ease.  And he asked me if folding a fitted shit was something it was important for me to be good at.  Was that a thing I wanted to be known for when I was old?

Wow!  That was surprisingly freeing.

So, cleaning can wait a while.  But, because I don’t want to live in filth, it does eventually come.  And I do have standards of how much is too much.  Fortunately, my husband and I have a similar level of tolerance.  Sadly, my son does not.  I suspect my mother sees my house in the same light as I see my son’s room.


I blame Trey for my dilemma.

He had (has?) a barrel of dirt that he brought to his yard from his family farm in Virginia.  His family has owned the farm for 5 or 6 generations and it’s good dirt. He was using it to try to make a garden plot in the clay that is Alamance county soil.  This barrel was leftover from the garden creation.  And it got a peach pit stuck in it.  It was a pit from a particularly delicious peach.

Which has grown into a tree.  It has even produced some fruit, but I think the deer keep beating him to it.

He talked about taking the tree out of the barrel and putting it in the ground. But, he waited too long and the tree has grown through the bottom of the barrel and he is stuck with it as it is.  (Let this be a lesson to all gardeners.  Do NOT leave plants in pots on top of dirt too long.  You will eliminate your choices.)

I am so envious of a peach tree grown from a planted pit that I can’t stand it.  And I happened to have 2 big bags of dirt that were doing nothing on my deck.  They were supposed to be bags to grow potatoes, but I have been underwhelmed by the outcome.

So, last summer, when we had some excellent peaches, I stuck several pits in one of the bags.  So, far nothing has shown up. But, I live in hope.

In the mean time, we have used dirt from the other bag for potting plants for various projects.  Herbs for friends, filling in around other plants, whatever.  And my cat has discovered the joys of sleeping in a bag of dirt.  It’s pretty funny to see him curled up in there, snoozing.

Here’s the dilemma.   If I use up the dirt in the pit-less bag, he will, in all likelihood, sleep on any little trees that try to come up.  But, I’m a little nervous about trying to move the pits.  My husband says he’s already taking turns sleeping in both bags, anyway.  So, I probably need to get on with the peach pit rescue.

They’ve had a winter to get a good freeze on.  So, whatever the weather was going to do to help their germination along has happened.  Maybe I’ll try fishing them out of the bag and into actual flower pots.  Then, the ones that do sprout will be easier to transplant into the yard, later.

You do realize that gardening is an addiction and it makes you crazy.  Right?Vash in a bag(My son took the picture and I stole it from his Instagram.)

Nevermore 2015

This year, the Carolina Theater messed with me.  Last year, they had shows during the week.  So, I didn’t ask for the weekend off for 2015.  But, they didn’t do week day shows this year.  When I asked about it on their FaceBook page, they told me that 2014 was a one-off and it wasn’t likely to happen again.  And one of my co-workers had already made plans for Sunday.  So, I got to cram all my films in to Friday and Saturday.

Then, they took down the film list as soon as the festival was over. So, I didn’t have any references for the shorts and am hard pressed to remember the titles of the feature films I saw.

I can remember that I saw Savageland and Valley of the Sasquatch and they were both excellent.  And, I spotted David Saucedo, who had played Sergio-the-asshole in Sasquatch, in a small part in Savageland.  I was pleased that my brain worked that well.

He was supposed to be at the festival, but got sick at the last minute and was unable to make it.  And I’m sorry about that because I’m a fan, now.


One of my first jobs was as a fill-in for the shipping clerk of a company that makes industrial ladders.  He was the brother-in-law of the owner and was going to be out for 3 months for something medical.  Maybe he had a heart attack and was healing?  I don’t really recall.

My job was to contact the trucking company that would get the shipments to the company that ordered them and to make the shipping labels.

I was surprised to find the copying of the labels to be very soothing.  When, I commented on that to a friend who was also a priest, he wasn’t surprised at all.  He told me that monks have a period of repetitive work included in their day and that it is intended to be a time of meditation.

Since then, I have found satisfaction in awareness of contemplative work.  

I work in a reference lab and the repetition in pipetting batches of samples and reagents into vials is very satisfying.  The fact that it is useful work is too.  Any annoyances I have with my job are not with the work itself, but with the people who interrupt my flow.  I’m fortunate that the people who work during my regular shift seem to have the same appreciation of flow that I do.