Louisiana birthday

jumbo
The pot is much larger than it appears.

I STIRRED UP a nice pot of jambalaya today for my 74th birthday.

Years ago, in Mexico, I fixed jambalaya much more frequently. I rarely make it now, but special occasions call for special food. There will be no cake.

I also whip together a passable gumbo, but that’s even more labor-intensive. I may never do that again, but who knows? But I’m lazy.

I lived in New Orleans for 18 years if you don’t know. Both my first wife and my daughter were born in New Orleans, a place that forms odd people.

Time passes far more quickly as you age. Not just years, but weeks and months, even days. It’s a strange phenomenon. So, here I am at 74, just one year younger than my father when he died of a heart attack. In spite of getting annual physicals, there had been no indication of any heart issues for him.

So much for annual physicals.

Apart from a lower energy level, I had no age-related issues until I hit 73. That’s when I really started noticing. Now I feel it, but I still get around pretty good. There’s the occasional wobble.

Aside from anything major, probably the most noticeable change that comes with age is the loss of sure-footedness. This in spite of my doing more exercise than most people my age, plus the significant issue of possessing a child bride.

This afternoon, as I toss Tabasco hot sauce (from Avery Island, Louisiana) on my bowl of jambalaya, I’ll wonder if I’ll make it to 75 or, even more significantly, to 76, something my father did not manage to accomplish.

Felíz cumpleaños to me!*

* * * *

* And just like last year, my child bride forgot.

Work and solitude

WHEN WE first wed years back, I was the primary cook and dishwasher. I remain the latter.

But I tapered off on the cooking, mostly due to shiftlessness. It’s not that she took over so much as we just prefer the easy route. Quick stuff, takeout, restaurants, etc.

I used to do other work too. Decorative painting on the Hacienda’s walls. I’ve stopped. Too much effort.

Due to feeling increasing shame recently for my laziness, I’ve begun fixing more meals. I have some old standards. There’s jambalaya and gumbo. Jambalaya is lots easier than gumbo, so gumbo hasn’t returned to our plates just yet.

Maybe it never will. It’s not a quick meal.

I prefer easy fixings. I do a nice 15-minute minestrone. And there’s a pasta dish on which I dump steamed broccoli and garlic. Just today we’ll be having meatballs that I made yesterday in a crockpot.

And I’ve decided to work more in the yard, easy stuff. And wash the Honda more. I’ve been letting carwash guys on the plaza do it because it only costs a bit over two bucks.

Paying anybody to wash the car in these parts from June through October is akin to burning cash since it rains every single day. A clean car lasts about an hour.

But you gotta do something or, come November, you won’t even remember the color of your car.

So I’m working more now. Cooking, gardening, carwashing. It’s good to keep fairly busy, I think.

* * * *

The hermit life

I‘m reading a fascinating book called One Man’s Wilderness: an Alaskan Odyssey. A writer named Sam Keith used the journal of Richard Proenneke to construct the story of a man who moved alone at 51 to the Alaskan wilderness in the 1960s where he erected a cabin and lived solo for 30 years.

Proenneke’s talents with his hands and mind were awesome. He wasn’t an actual hermit because he received occasional guests, which he enjoyed, and, now and then, he returned to the Lower 48 for brief visits with relatives and amigos.

The book spoke to me perhaps more than to most people due to my longstanding hermit inclinations. Were it not for my love of womenfolk, perhaps I would have been a Proenneke. But I would have needed to hone my handyman skills first.

As a youth, I dreamed of living alone in an underground home on the bank sweeping down to the pond among cypress trees that rested on my grandparents’ Georgia farm.

Decades later, my hermit dream was to live in a half-buried school bus in the desert near Big Bend National Park. I read of a woman who did just that. I was flush with envy.

One wonders what a psychiatrist would say about those two dream homes being half buried beneath ground level?

I would have required a hermit woman, but doesn’t that negate the concept of being a hermit?

New ImageI would have cooked her gumbo in the school bus. And I would have washed her dishes. And maybe I’ll fix gumbo at the Hacienda again one day.

One must be kind to women.