Friday, January 16, 2015

GOLF PORN

I've been sick.  And I never get sick.  Last year, nary a sniffle.  But the bug got me a week ago.  Just a common cold, thankfully, and not the dreaded flu virus.  Still...the stuffy nose, sore throat, watery eyes, hacking cough all make for a less than stellar experience lately, and keep me mostly isolated in my attempts not to infect others, as well as often giving in to the overriding desire snuggle on the sofa in "jammie clothes" and a blankie.

I am getting a bit antsy, however.  Of note, I'm tiring of my usual reading materials and picked up a freshly delivered copy of Hub's Golf Digest magazine.  I don't golf.  Truth be told, it's sort of a silly sport, in my opinion.  (Oh...I hear you dear golfing friends, I hear you, and I love you anyway....).  It is very popular, however.  I get that.

Hub is an occasional golfer.  Being just a natural jock kind of guy though, he is passable to really good at most sports -- even those he rarely plays.  He used to golf about once a year, but has increased that frequency over the past couple of summers since "couple friends" of ours took it up.  I know it would be nice if I'd join in and make it foursome, but my lack of interest and bad attitude would outweigh any benefit -- as is so often the case.

Anyway, our friends sent Hub a gift subscription to Golf Digest and I admit I was surprised when he decided to re-up the subscription.  I note he shows moderate interest when it arrives, then it goes on the "to be read" pile, never to be opened again.  I understand this -- I have such a pile going most of the time as well.

Since the guy on the February issue cover (Billy Horschel -- never heard of him) had a passing resemblance to Adam Levine (Maroon 5), I was drawn to opening the magazine.  I spent some time thumbing through it and got the gist of the thing -- it's about how to be a better golfer, what equipment will help, where to play, and what to wear while playing....these socks! (Photo by Victor Prado)
As I was about to put the magazine down, something dawned on me.  Golf is for guys.  Golf is for "guy" guys.  Golf is for rich "guy" guys.  Here's how I know:

Ad content:  Golf club ads are sleek, modern, and mostly in stark sliver/black photography with primary color highlights -- red or blue preferred.  Same with the 2-page Rolex watch spread.  Same with the cars  -- Lincoln Navigator (starting at $61,480), Lexus ("prepare for the white knuckle treatment"), Porsche ("powerful drives are an obsession we share" -- I get it!).

Copy content:  Lots of guys giving golfing advice to other guys, all of an indeterminate age (35-50?), in great shape and wearing some really sporty and colorful slacks and collared, knit shirts that remind me of my dad. (The shirt that is, without the paunch.)

Feature story:  Osama bin Laden Special Forces assassin, turned golfer, talking in great and graphic detail about the day he shot our arch-enemy in the face.  Booyah!  Also, America's Top 100 Golf Courses.  #1 Augusta National.  Famous for the annual Masters Tournament.  Also famous for not allowing any African American members until 1990; mandating all caddies must be black (until 1959) and not admitting women until...wait for it...2012! (Condoleeza Rice was one of two women who were the first to be admitted.  Augusta defends their policies by citing "we are a private club".  Oh, OK then. )

This woman and people of color thing sort of had me going at this point, so I went back through and did a count.  With the exception of Tiger Woods (one photo, one ad) and another man who's ethnicity was indeterminate, all the guys were white.  There is a photo spread on page 98 of 108 total pages of a woman who's face we never see beneath her bent head and white cap, swinging a club.  There is a teeny, tiny photo of a woman who works in the 'golf fashion industry' standing for a photo with the ubiquitous Donald Trump. The only other photo of a woman in the whole magazine is a 2-page ad for Viagra, where that attractive brunette in all the commercials is seductively sprawled in a half-recline on soft bed, offering her sage and oh so understanding advice about "getting and keeping an erection".

I have some advice for the Viagra-inclined golfer too.  Just read this copy from David Leadbetter's article on putting and you may not need that little blue pill:

You'll have much more power for this shot if you hold the club with your normal full-swing grip.  You'll naturally put some wrist action into the strike, which will help you get the ball to the hole.  You're going to need more room for your hands and arms to make a bigger stroke than normal, so stand more upright.  If you're hunched over, you'll struggle to swing the putter freely.  The common mistake when putting from off the green is to try to hit the ball harder with a short, jabby stroke.  Swing back longer, and let the flow and acceleration of the putterhead feel natural.  Don't force it.  Let your hips and knees move a little toward the target, especially your back knee kicking in.  This helps generate more energy so you don't have to try to muscle the ball with your hands.

FORE!

At least that's the view from here....©


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

KITCHEN SECRETS ALA VEGAS

Do you remember those old tourism ads for Las Vegas where they encourage all manner of bad behavior by saying "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas"?  You are about to read a similar story, minus the chorus girls.

I used to cook all the time when my boys were little.  I was a stay-at-home mom and kept my family well-fed.  But somewhere along the way I lost interest, time, and talent.  Hub does most of our cooking.  I'm good at heating things up that come in containers from Costco.  Also I'm good at ordering in restaurants.

But today I made a pot of soup -- a recipe shared by a BFF who is a wonderful and creative cook.  Since the list of ingredient wasn't too long and I already had most of them I thought I'd give it a whirl.  I mean, it's only soup, right?  Here goes:

Hungarian Mushroom Soup.


I decided to double the recipe.  If I was going to all the fuss, I wanted it to last awhile.   First you chop up a bunch of onion.  I eyed the under-utilized food processor I bought at some point thinking it would make me a better cook, but I decided it was too much of a pain to assemble so I commenced to chopping the old-school way -- by hand, with a big knife.  Pretty satisfying except for the tears.  I started to sauté for 5 minutes while chopping the mushrooms.  But first you have to clean them and that takes while so I turned off the heat on the onions.

About 30 years ago I was told you have to peel mushrooms to get them really clean, so that's what I've mostly done all these years, keeping my family safe from forest dirt and wild animal poops.  But noting the two pound container on my kitchen counter, I decided to Google cleaning mushrooms and guess what???  You don't have to peel them!  You can clean them with a wet paper towel, a mushroom brush (advanced kitchen gadgetry), or use the "rinse and shake" method.  I started out with the paper towel and did about ten of them, but could tell I'd go through a whole roll of paper towels and it would take about half my remaining lifetime to do the job, so I defaulted to the rinse and shake and had a pile of clean mushrooms in no time.  I sliced them.  Very satisfying.  What is it about the texture of a baby Portabello?

I was ready to sauté the mushrooms, but remembered I had not finished sautéing the onions, so I did that then threw the mushrooms in with the onions to cook.

As I watched the mushrooms sautéing, suddenly it seemed like there weren't enough onions in there.  Oops, forgot to double the onions.  So I chopped some more, sautéed them separately and then threw them in with the mushrooms and first batch of onions.  This part seemed to be taking forever, so as they mixed and mingled, I decided to get started on making that fancy roué.

Butter, flour, milk.  How hard can that be, right?  Well, turns out it's a little tricky and takes, like, forever to get a nice creamy mixture.  I didn't have quite enough milk, so I added Half 'n Half because in my book you can't go wrong with additional milk fat.  Many, many minutes later I had a passable roué to add to the onions and mushrooms, so I dumped it in feeling very happy with my effort.  But the soup wasn't very soupy and seemed to be of lesser quantity that I'd expected.  Plus, when was I supposed to put those spices and flavorings in that I'd hunted through my cabinets for?

Oh shit!  I forgot to actually make the soup stock part!  BEFORE adding the roué I was supposed to add chicken broth and spices/flavorings and simmer all that for 15 minutes.  Hmmm….

There was nothing to be done now but to just add it all in after the roué.  So I dumped in the chicken broth and grabbed the dill weed and measured out double the amount in the recipe and dumped it in.  Wow, that looked like a lot of dill!  Double-checking the recipe revealed that it wasn't tablespoons, but teaspoons!  That is so easy to miss, isn't it?  But I figured when all was said and done the doubled teaspoon amount was about equal to the doubled tablespoon amount I'd dumped in.  No harm, no foul.  In with the rest of the spices, (soy sauce, salt, pepper, paprika), but skipping the optional anchovy paste -- not stocked in my paltry pantry.  Then I was to simmer the whole thing, but for how long? I'd already messed up the simmer schedule of 15 minutes before roué and 15 minutes after.  Decided to wing it.

I turned the heat to low and waited.  And waited.  How long does it take to get a big pot of soup up to simmer?  All day????  I kicked the heat up a notch.  Waited.  OK, maybe a bit more heat?  Up a notch more.  Then I thought,  "I'll just take a moment to see if the mail is here, while I am waiting for the soup to simmer."  It was!  I stood in the living room, thumbing through Yoga Journal when I remembered the soup.  It had only been a few minutes, but it was at a rolling boil!  Yikes!  Well, a few minutes of boiling likely equals 15 minutes of simmering, I thought.  Turned off the heat.

I tasted the soup and in spite of the cook it's pretty yummy, if a bit on the dilly side.  I'm just going to rename it Hungarian Paprika-Dill Soup.

Really, I shouldn't wander too close to the stove, but when I do, what I say is: "What happens in my kitchen, stays in my kitchen."

At least, that's the view from here... ©

Friday, January 2, 2015

BOLDLY GO….

Whooo Boy.  I'm trying not to go on a rant here.  Something has triggered my ire and I want to write about it without sounding defensive.  I might not be able to.

Here goes.  Why is "old" so bad?   Why do we nip, tuck, tweak, dye, and lie it away?  Why is "old" synonymous with infirmity, ignorance, sedentary pursuits, lack of curiosity, and inability to continue to grow in meaningful ways?

I saw this on Facebook today.
I completely understand the sentiment behind this little graphic.  I actually agree with it in intention, but whole-heartedly disagree with the duality with which the idea is presented.

My adventure these days is to find my comfort zone, at all times and in all places, after spending much too much of my life "acting as if", being someone I thought I should be, or what others wanted me to be, or going and doing to such an extent that I was generally overwhelmed and exhausted.  Is wanting to live in my comfort zone a sign of "growing older", no longer willing to push the envelope of "adventure"?  I don't think so.

Are elders unable to be bold?  Is boldness only allowed when one is trekking the Himalayas? Or was my elder mother acting out a kind of boldness when she moved from her large home, selling most of what she had and leaving a lifetime of familiarity behind, to move 2000 miles closer to me?  She didn't see that as an adventure, for sure.  She saw it as a step toward dependence and she resisted it, but with boldness she did it anyway, knowing it was for the best.  She was growing older, but definitely not by any definition moving into her comfort zone.

I think we are all terrified of aging.  I think we project ourselves into that nursing home bed, moaning and groaning, drooling on our hospital gowns, staring at the ceiling, ignored.  Well, maybe that will happen.  Maybe it won't.   Watching my mother age was like watching the most courageous act of will, of surrender, and of grace I've ever seen.  They say getting old isn't for sissies and I think that's true.  You want adventure?  Try being discriminated against…being called "geezer", "hag", "granny" (not as an honorific, but as a pejorative); try being dependent upon others who are too friggin' busy with their adventuring to be present for your final act of courage.

Here's what's bold for me, at 64.  Embracing my age.  Not denying or covering up.  Making friends with a body that is changing in predicable ways.  Undertaking a spiritual practice, with Yoga and meditation, that allows me to gain strength, balance, insight, and peace.  My "call" is to pursue a quest of comfort with aging.  But I don't think it's a passive pursuit.  I think it's pretty damn bold and adventurous to face reality and embrace life here, now, with grace and humility, with curiosity and challenge, with commitment and fortitude.

At least, that's the view from here…. ©