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Autumn 2020

Morning Oatmeal: Starting Over

This morning I was able to make oatmeal on my brand-new range top, with gas burners. I had to re-learn how to make one of my favorite morning meals because during the past 2 years I’d been living in an all-electric rental house, using a glorified Hot Plate for meal preparation. Cooking with gas ensures constant and even control of the heat. Cooking with electricity ensures burned food!

First, I would have to baby-sit the rolled oats as they hissed in the water to an overly full boil. The electric coil-heat usually burn-steamed the water so that the oats became a drying sticky pulp. I would then place the pot of coil-heated mush on a trivet, with a lid on it, and wait 5 minutes for the trapped and compressed heat to further infiltrate the oats.

After that lovely interval, wherein my stomach surely was ready for food, I placed the glop into a bowl. I then stirred in a tablespoon of sugar and some 2% milk. The bowl was put into the microwave on Level 9 to re-heat the porridge for about a minute (the microwave was woefully found wanting for this task). By then, the “oatmeal” had been through quite a culinary work-out!

I am unable to make oatmeal in the morning, or at any time (I’ve been known to partake of it in the afternoon) without thinking of my dearly departed Teaching Colleague who once asked me what I put into my oatmeal:

“Half-and-half? Cream?”

“Two percent,” I advised him.

We each tried to eat the more-nutritious McCann’s Irish Oatmeal, but the steel-cut stuff took forever to cook, and then it took forever to eat. Chew, chew, chew, chew, chew! Chance, Sir Chewy, would really love those hearty oats! (The metal containers, however, were highly collectible for use as small storage units.)

My breakfast this morning was delicious, mostly because I relearned — by starting over — how to slowly cook those tender grains, and then, while the pot was still on the burner, stir some sugar in the porridge, and then the 2% milk. I gently re-heated the gradually cooked rolled oats — and re-discovered its wondrous nutty aroma! The scent sensation truly enhances flavor!

Chance is a bit of a milk-sop about oatmeal. I have to give him the remaining 10% that I do not eat. He laps it up!

In many ways, Americans are also starting over — after the widespread Left-Lockdowns of economies, done through edicts, due to alarmist fears of The COVID. Here in California, as in other Lockdown States, the unemployment rate remains double-digit. I do hope the puppet Potentates in Charge are pleased with themselves for bankrupting the service sectors of their engines of capitalism. Yup, the Little Guy, and the Little Gal, have found quite a caring, compassionate chum in their latest buffoon-Governor.

In the middle of the night last night, I woke up with a mild anxiety attack. I’ve not experienced such a disturbing episode of dread since the initial months of composing THE DAWN. The “deadline dream” that Camille Richarde experiences at the beginning of the novel comes straight out of my life, right out of my nocturnal dreams.

Dear Husband bore the brunt of those intuitive sensations of mine. I’d grab his arm, and ask him several times if he was alright. He’d assure me he was fine.

“Okay, then, fine,” I’d retort, “If you don’t want to be saved.”

My somewhat calm angst last night was really about the Charles de Gaulle essay I’d written the previous day for a December post. There were 3 paragraphs that I needed to edit out. I proceeded to do my writing work, with the loving assistance of Dear Husband who knew “this shall not stand” (or sleep). He brought “My Set-up” into the bed — laptop, mini-night-light and dimmer-screen goggles.

After fifteen minutes of those urgently required revisions, I went back to sleep, and dozed deeply and soundly until mid-morning. I awoke with the realization that, after breakfast, I had to go online to buy some wreaths for the new house, for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Holy moly!

The sold-out labels were all over the rapidly diminishing picks on Wayfair. And Wayday has not yet arrived!

The holiday seasons in America are assuredly progressing, ever onward, despite the ghoulish government grinches who have attempted to rob the last little bit of happiness and joy out of everyday life for the everyday American. I do believe the Governor in California awakes in the middle of the night, with the vapors, clutching his pearls. His very heightened anxiety attack is prompted by the panicked thought that there is a child, somewhere in the far-flung reaches of the State, laughing and playing in an unrestricted and unregulated park. Or maybe there’s that die-hard Christian, clinging to singing in a church. Surely, there must be a Hot-Glue-Gun getting pointed, without a concealed-carry permit, somewhere in a Suburban Sprawl, at a Cackling Hen Party for crafting decorations for the Holidays. He, the Hen that Cackled first, keeps cackling, but, He’s allowed to get away with all kinds of liberties in a state that once thrived with the spirit of liberty.

I feel no duty, compulsion or desire to save that swindler, or even the State of California. The Golden State will still be here, long after COVID and all the other excuses-to-come that will be used to try to command and minutiae-monitor the citizenry — are long gone.

There once was, in 1964, before the suffocating advent of the Welfare State, a boldly stated advertisement with William Penn and his Quaker Oats. Bill has since gotten a Skinny Makeover; I think the double-chin did him in. The selling ploy was:

Nothing is better for thee than me.

Presently, in America, the completely unplanned ad-adage for the Political Class is: Rules for Thee but Not for Me. It’s anyone’s guess how the Image Handlers are gonna do a quick make-over on that one. The skinny on the two-faced hypocrisy is in full view everywhere! The government-war on small businesses, in particular, the privately-owned and operated hair salon, is now a frontal assault.

I will admit, right here and now, that all during the months and months of this moronic mandate, I’ve not worn a mask — at all. Dear Husband goes into the restaurant to pick up the food (The Flaming Burrito was very hot, at least temperature-wise). And he goes into the grocery store. I wait outside, in the parked car, and I quietly observe the good-hearted and patient citizenry who, for the most part, serenely put up with the latest idiocy in a long line of idiocies.

I simply cannot bring myself to put on the useless device, and, believe me, I have tried. Due to my innately claustrophobic nature, and my typically stuffed sinus (the right one), and my overall and quite palpable abhorrence of anyone attempting to manipulate, flimflam, con, bluff, delude or two-face me, I avoid any situation where I might have to wear a mask.

I’ve spent more time, much more time, trying to work around this edict based on medieval medicine, the modern alchemy of junk science, and whack-job control-freak politics. Bleeding the patient has long been out of vogue for the barber-surgeons, but bleeding the working stiff is very much the in-thing for the dimwit-politician to do!

I therefore feel woefully inferior to those brave souls who are strong enough emotionally to contently contend with the stupidity of People in High Places, all for the magnanimous sake of stopping the Nasty Tattle-tale, the Perverse Snitch, and the COVID Overlord from shutting down a shop-owner or store-keeper trying to do business and earn a living.

I feel as if I am not doing my part to assist in the moral support of people just trying to earn money to pay the groceries and the rent. The longer this mask-lunacy goes on, the longer my self-torment persists! I fear my fear is becoming a Phobia.

Which is primarily why I hope this Mask Mandate ends soon. I cannot continue to feel so utterly incapable of rising to the challenge of calmly facing stupidity in the face. I am, nonetheless accepting responsibility for my human frailty. I’m owning it. Dear Husband says that he loves me anyway, in spite of my freaking out at the sight of any mask that will cover my mouth, stifle my breathing and smother my ability to speak.

A mask worn to conceal the upper half of my face — that I can tolerate. In fact, I like the Zorro look! The edged-weapon, though, might be the incentive carrot for that mask-stick.

After five months of growing out layers of my own chopped doing, I am in dire need of a new hairstyle. A summer of triple-digit dry heat and smokey air has not helped the lustrous appearance of my tresses. I’ve selected a chic style — something designed to frame only one face, as opposed to coiffures that frame the Two-Faced Female specializing in lip service. The Corporate Beauticians in my Rural County have begun to cut again, but only if everyone in the salon is wearing a mask. And I absolutely refuse to wear one, especially in a beauty salon. How can any professional decently cut hair with half of the face of the client covered up!

Being ever-sensitive to my claustrophobic nature, Dear Husband asked his Barber in Town (who goes mask-less) if he could cut my hair. The guy said he does trimming of ends, but no layers, no texturizing, no new style, and no Blow-outs. The guy-in-the-barber-chair started to loudly laugh!

This barber claims to know EXACTLY how I feel, and why. A lot of the women he knows feel the same way. He suggested that I contact a Friend of his, who runs her own salon, in another town. I need to mention his name to her on the cell-phone message.

Oh! Cutting locks with full-facial exposure requires a code word: A Locksley!

Well, I say:

A Locksley to on and all!

For several days, I eagerly awaited that beautification opportunity, but had to cut short my wait-time. I never did get a call-back to my phone inquiry.

During those four days, however, I looked online and glommed the local hair salon scene. Evidently, hair stylists, corporate or private, have no say, politically speaking, in California. This crackdown on cosmetology is the final blow-dry to an industry whose nape of the neck OSHA has been breathing down for at least 20 years.

The beauty parlor, or hair salon, became The Beauty Spa, and the Hair Lounge: overpriced Personal Body Grooming Centers. Cutting hair is the loss leader for botox & bubbly, make-up artistry, waxing, Brazilian blow-outs, Brazilian whatever!

Cutting just hair is so passé!

Ah! The good old days when head lice, and not the politician, was the real public health parasite!

I recall the days when the stylist asked me to remove my hoop earrings, and change from a turtleneck into a lower cut top so that she could cut my hair. Impediments to the shears were not allowed in the chair.

A salon called The Vault is newly re-opened, but their business name really ought to be The Sarcophagus. If you are Healthy, they want to see you! The non-germ-ridden client must wait in her car before she will be called to the entrance door of the salon. There she will have her temperature checked, and then must don The Mask, and await the sterilization of the hair-cutting zone before she can happily enter the waiting tomb. The person with the shears must wear gloves on the hands, and hope to be able to manipulate the coiffure-weapon.

I think everyone simply wearing a Haz-Mat Moon Suit would allay all of those fears that are running rampant all over the State of California. Governor Pompadour can then proudly proclaim, once again, that California is leading the way — to even more beauticians leaving the State!

Today, I locks-ly my own locks. I have a voice, and it says to me:

The ship has sailed where chop-shops are concerned. Pull out your own professional shears and breathe a sigh of relief that you’ve spared yourself from yet another Hair Disaster.

May the hair that falls to the floor be from your own sharp-edged device!

Starting over means taking care, real care, of yourself. Starting over means taking a step forward — not back — to where you would have been if this moronic madness had not happened. Starting over is soaring, not merely surviving. Because to strive to survive is not to live, but to hope not to die.

Maybe that truism is the reason why too many Californians are scared to death of what might happen, and not bold enough to make their dreams happen. It is definitely why I consider myself a Westerner and not a Californian.

I await with anticipation this glorious autumnal month of October, which is still Annabella’s Month. During my restless night last night, my black cat informed me, from the tall grasses of her Celestial Cachette, that I need to get an early start on celebrating Her Month, Her Day, Her Night.

Even with a Mask Mandate, Black Cats still rule!