Thursday, February 8, 2018

Bouillabaise à la Daytona Beach Shores


I am not a cook. Yet while reposing on the chaise longue by the pool today after my bike ride to the City Limit of Daytona Beach and back along the beach, I was suddenly gripped by the idea of making a fish soup or what in more enlightened circles is called a "bouillabaisse".  What I had in mind was really just a variation upon my evening meal - fish and salad - but cooked. And with a mixture of seafood (I used fresh shrimp, cod and salmon filets cut up into pieces) and spiced it up with Costa Rican hot sauce.  Otherwise the only additives were Kosher salt, fresh squeezed lemon juice, olive oil and white wine vinegar. Oh, and pomergranate juice (to add what is seemingly a statutory requirement for a hint of sugar).  For the veggies I used diced green pepper, radishes, white onion, white cabbage, vine ripened tomatoes, celery and zuchinni spirals.  And there was a pound of ground chuck (the stuff with the highest fat content).  Threw it all into a pot, simmered the meat and veggies first, then added the seafood and a box of tomatoe/basil stock. Presto! Bouillabaise á la Daytona Beach Shores!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Butter Tray


After my 16-mile bicycle ride yesterday to Ormond Beach and back I felt I deserved a day of rest. So today I lay by the pool in the sun. Even by noon when I landed on the deck of the pool overlooking the frothing green water of the Atlantic Ocean the sun was already beginning to secrete itself behind the towering condominium buildings.  Securing a strategic envelope in the direct sunlight requires planning. Luckily apart from the chap who conducted the pool maintenance, there was no one else there.  I chose the most hospitable corner of the deck, moved a small circular metal table, aligned the chair into the sun and flattened myself on the wide chaise longue like a stick of butter on a tray, melting in the heat. There was a vigorous wind but unless the sun went momentarily behind a shifting cloud mass the heat was intense. My face mildly burned.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Rounding out one's affairs


It is I suppose a small compliment that I haven't an inordinate number of things to preoccupy me.  True, it could be interpreted as a blessing - especially as those few absorptions don't embrace anything even remotely disturbing. But saccharin is never good and lukewarm doesn't qualify for any distinction. I won't disguise what is really the overwhelming prosaic character of my life. Only yesterday for example I observed that the sum total of my worries surrounded four matters. None of them was conspicuously arresting; viz., banking (a new US account and credit card), writing (deciding whether to throw in the towel or keep going), personal adornment (jewelery) and residential affairs (settling a perch for the snowbirds for next season).  Remarkably each of them attained a satisfactory degree of containment.  There are still some loose ends but at least we're headed in the right direction.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Getting it right!


Straightening things out, standing tall, recovering one's balance, righting the ship - they're all expressions directed at correcting a potentially damaging list and restoring perfection. There are times in the sailing vernacular when careening (grounding a vessel at high tide to expose one side of its hull for maintenance and repair below the water line) is both desirable and necessary.  Even heaving ho much less heaving down requires a degree of inclination in order to come about - that is, to shift to a new tack.  But generally getting it right means fixing whatever's wrong, whether the current state of affairs or the projected direction and character of future behaviour.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Au bord de la mer


The temperature today rocketed to 78℉. There was a corresponding warm wind out of the south. It softened everyone. A funnel of balmy air poured along the beach. Occasionally there were inexplicable pockets of cooler fresh air - perhaps off the Ocean. The heat heralds what is to come. I am full of anticipation to feel the tingling rays of the sun. The mildness of the air stirred me to bicycle further than I had intended.  It was too delicious to contemplate retreating! The gentleness drew couples and children from their seclusion.  A large kite flew high in the sky. Others walked in the water on the shore to consummate their baptism. Seagulls soared like jets into the soothing wind.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Silly me!


Unquestionably the advantage of having a close friend in whom one can confide is that one can speak one's mind. I am not here referring to trifling political commentary (though that too can in some circles be extremely sensitive) nor to abstract sometimes abrasive philosophical ruminations (lightning rods like religion or euthanasia). What I am talking about is the vulgar personal expressions surrounding materialism - or what might euphemistically be called "shopping". For some reason I have always considered it shameful - almost sinful - to indulge my wasteful possessory indiscretions. Perhaps the root of my embarrassment is that it smacks of flagrant showing off - conspicuous ostentation.  What however relieves the penalty of my pretentious display is that it has nothing whatever to do with the boastful symbols of wealth.  I am for example the first to admit that I once maintained a line of credit with every chartered bank in Canada - contemporaneously!  That hardly qualifies as proof of capital. In fact exhibitionism is the first clue that there is perhaps an underlying deceit - or at the very least a calculated effort to impress.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Bankers and Real Estate Agents


Sometime in the middle of the night a few days ago I lay awake mumbling to myself, "I hate that stuff!"  I was referring to the practice of law. It isn't normal that similar vitriol percolates but clearly some irksome memory or reflection suddenly haunted me the way I was at times tormented as a law student when plagued by a nightmare that I had not prepared for an examination. While there were obviously "moments" when the job had a bit of glamour, the practice of law was mostly a tedious, laborious affair.  Like the Universe it was ultimately personal and private. There were no possible short cuts; either you read the stuff or you didn't. As inclined as some may be to suggest that the practice of law requires special skills and knowledge, the foremost reality is that it was just like any other undertaking in that its success arose from diligence and assiduity - that is, persistent and meticulous attention to what one was doing.  Occasionally the occupation was elevated by the insinuation of clever argument and analysis but those sparkling moments were infrequent.  Instead the more common discoveries were nothing more exalted than turning over stones, a metaphor equally apt to an attentive gardener (and probably just as riveting for a third-party observer).  If one were seeking glory from one's clients for the cleverness of one's performance, forget it!  At best the client might appreciate the evident toll of getting one's hands dirty and working long hours.  But the inscrutable drama was pretty much a lost cause.  Law was like any trade - just plain work.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

"I want a LARGE salad!"


Many years ago - say about twenty years ago - we visited New York City and stayed at the Carlyle Hotel on the Upper East Side. We dined at the Café Carlyle (a supper club) for a show by Steve Tyrell and in the main dining room (the Carlyle Restaurant) for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The intimate supper club was an elbow-to-elbow congested, raucous affair (the drinkers clinging like limpets to the bar were festive to a fault).  The breakfast experience in the main dining room - though sparse at 8:00 am by comparison - featured a bracing runway parade by an overweight middle-aged couple wearing designer sweat pants and matching tops and Robert Downey Jr. (who sat next to me) wearing a baseball hat (an indiscretion which has always ruffled me).  Dinner was far more dignified - and the food was beyond perfection.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Form 8840, nuptials and laundry


Our day was a hodgepodge of events beginning with laundry; then graduating to filing Internal Revenue Services Form 8840 (Closer Connection Exception for Aliens - available to those present in the United States less than 183 days for which we barely qualify); later a scintillating analysis of artistic integrity and the distillation of one's professional career; followed by bicycling to Daytona Beach, banking (BMO Harris), news of the Caribbean wedding of mutual friends and naturally keeping abreast of Donald Trump's latest taradiddle and entertainment.  I can't say that my meals - breakfast and dinner (which "rests" as I write) - enjoyed any novelty, essentially intense protein in the morning balanced by raw green veggies at night.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Sailing

Photo courtesy Denis Houle
Varadero, Matanzas, Cuba

The weather forecast today on Daytona Beach Shores: Sunny conditions with 34 km/hr winds out of the north. When I went bicycling with the wind at my back I "sailed" down the beach. Conveniently the low tide was at 12:56 pm just as I entered the beach approach at Breakers Avenue.  Tacking back and forth with unprecedented ease I flaunted my unseen propulsion (albeit to a limited audience) along the broad face of the lonely beach, windswept by chimera and whisps of fine sand. But I knew that upon my return I would pay the penalty of frictionless passage.  So rather than stretch my outbound resources by going to Ponce Inlet at the southern end of the barrier island I detoured onto the sidewalk at Wilbur-by-the-Sea and doubled back. I hoped that by sheltering in the lee of the shrubbery, homes and condominiums on S Atlantic Avenue I might escape the consequence of the wind. It was a moderately effective accommodation though the wind howled mercilessly whenever an opening to the sea occasioned.