Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A Lesson in Lasagna

I wrote this for the Week 66 Trifecta Writing Challenge where we are to write 33-333 words using the word “doctor”, e.g., adding a material to food or scraping a surface. 

While this entry is self-contained, it follows a story I posted a while back, where I wrote about my first introduction to the central character in today’s post. If you have the time, please check it out: Brooklyn: A Big Family Dinner


My ex-wife Vicky is from a big Italian family in Brooklyn and her Uncle Sal was very old school. Uncle Sal (short for Salvatore) was a tough guy who worked on the docks and was a boss in the Longshoremen’s Union.

Vicky and I were invited to Uncle Sal and Aunt Mary’s for Christmas dinner and, strangely, Sal was busy cooking when we arrived. In Vicky’s family, the women do all the work in the kitchen and the men just sit down when dinner is ready.  But Sal insisted on making the lasagna. He explained, “They [the women] don’t know nuttin’ about making lasagna. Their sauce is too watery and they never put enough garlic and sausage!”

Even though I got off to a rocky start with Sal, with my long hair and bell bottoms, he seemed to like me:  “Com’ere, I’m gonna’ show you how to make lasagna.”  He grabbed a handful of peeled tomatoes and started crushing them for the sauce. The pot was only about one quarter full when he yelled, “Shit, I don’t have enough to make a whole pot of sauce.”  Remembering that Mary always froze some extra sauce, he looked in the freezer and found enough to fill up the pot. He put the frozen block in the pot, set the stove to simmer and watched it melt. 

Sal was fuming. In my lame attempt at humor, I said: “Uncle Sal, didn’t you just tell me the women’s sauce is no good?”  After giving me a look, like I was a longshoreman who just dropped a pallet of T.V.s on the pier, he said:  “What the fuck, don’ you think I know that? I’m just going to have to doctor it up. And don’ say a fuckin’ word, or I’ll bust your balls.”

As expected, everyone loved the lasagna. As we were finishing, I couldn’t hide a little smirk. Sal gave me that look again and whispered, “Don’ even think about it.”

© Lumdog 2013

P.S. The events described in this story took place in 1972.  Uncle Sal passed away in 1975.  Every year, during the Christmas holidays, I make sauce and lasagna the way he taught me.  

Your comments are appreciated.


Friday, February 22, 2013

Empty Nest

The woman’s quiescence said all

Blankness would devour her.

She could not abide the thought

Of no children in the house

The pink impatiens by the front door

Were hidden, then gone…never mind


I wrote this for the Trifextra Week 56 Writing Challenge.  Here are the instructions for the prompt:

This weekend we are playing another type of word game with you. Below are photos from the 33rd page of one of our very favorite books, Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge. What we want you to do is to scour the page (click to enlarge), choose 33 words, and reshape those words into a piece of your own. Your piece does not have to tell an entire story. We just want to see what you can do with this particular word bank. Punctuation is up to you. Use whatever you need, whether or not it appears in the photos.

Your comments are appreciated.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Considering The Options-An Exhausting Task

One day in the Oval Office in 2003

Bush:  What are we gon’ to do ‘bout Iraq?

Cheney:  Well, I guess we can invade. They have a lot of people with guns who don't like us very much.

Bush:  What the fuck! Every country's got people with guns.  What else do you have?

Cheney:  We hear they have WMD.

Bush:  What’s that? Women who Menstruate Daily? Heh heh.  Did you like that one, Dick?

Cheney:  Yes sir, that was a good one. Actually, WMD stands for Weapons of Mass Destruction.

Bush:  Oh yeah.  The big stuff.

Former Senior Intelligence Advisor:  Mr. President, not to put a damper on things, but we have no evidence that they have WMD.

Cheney:  Don’t worry about that, we can get evidence, if we need it.

Bush:  Nah, don’ have time. Saddam is a pain in my ass.  You know we can’t trust that weasel.

Cheney:  Ok. Anyway, I’m sure they have WMD.

Bush:  Yeah. Ok, we go in and level the place. And, if there are no WMD, we just go and put 'em there.

Former Senior Intelligence Advisor:  Sir, not to be contradictory, but the U.N. will monitor our activities once we occupy the country.

Bush:  Fuck the U.N.!  They’re a bunch of grab ass wussies anyway.


Bush:  My fellow ‘mericans.  We have received some very alarming information which could jeopardize the security of our nation.  I asked my senior advisors to exhaust all the options and I have determined that we have no choice but to…

I wrote this post for the Week 65 Trifecta Writing Challenge where we are to write 33-333 words using the word “exhaust”, in the context of considering a number of options thoroughly.

At first, I hesitated to write about something that offered no new information, but the prompt stimulated me to think about a historical event where, despite statements to the contrary, all the options were not exhausted. I thought it would be fun to imagine a conversation about how such an egregious error in judgement was made.

Your comments are appreciated.

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Lazy Ass Frozen Daiquiri

ketchup with us
Prompt #12

Mel and Michele have a blog called Ketchup with Us where we fellow bloggers are invited to write a post about a different subject on the first and fifteenth days of each month.  For this prompt, we were asked to write about the best drink we ever had. 

I was stumped on this one for a while until I remembered a drink that I haven’t had in a while, but is a perfect drink on a hot day.  If you are currently in a location where it is cold today, you can either imagine what it might be like when summer rolls around or say to yourself: “Screw it, who says I can’t have a cool, refreshing drink on a cold day?…I’ll just turn up the heat.” I never gave it a name, but for this post I’ll call it the “Lazy Ass Frozen Daiquiri”, because it is so easy to make.

Throw one half can (small) of frozen Minute Maid lemonade, a dash of orange juice and four shots of rum in a blender.  Add about two cups of ice and blend until the concoction is smooth, without any big chunks of ice.  They go down very easy, so you can drink heavily. 

By the way, I had the good fortune to have a Daiquiri at La Floridita in Havana.  La Floridita was a hangout of Ernest Hemmingway and the story goes that he invented the Daiquiri there. 

Your comments are appreciated.

Friday, February 15, 2013

The Cure

I’m on a high wire;

I might fall into the abyss

My head spins, my heart stops and my stomach flops

I’m a train wreck…

Does this Xanax stuff really work?.....For hyperbole?
I wrote this for the Trifextra Week 55 Writing Challenge where we are to write 33 words using hyperbole.
Your comments are appreciated.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Close Encounters of the Weird Kind

After splitting with my wife of 35 years, I was suddenly living alone.  My first impulse was to go out, see my friends and pound down some drinks. Since I’m not inclined to dwell on negative thoughts, my new pastime had great appeal.  Indeed, I had no responsibilities outside of work and I was living in a downtown hotel within walking distance of a variety of bars and restaurants. At some moments, my newly found freedom was exhilarating.

To be sure, I felt awful about the demise of my marriage.  Every night, I had to face my empty room and the unwelcome thoughts about what had happened to our relationship. The endless mental playback of my marriage was overwhelming and the uncertainty about my future was scary.

Although I was not actively “looking”, the bar scene provided some interesting encounters. One night, I was sitting at a bar reading a newspaper, hardly a tactic to attract women.  I felt someone rubbing my shoulders and turned around to see a good looking woman who looked to be around 35.  It was startling, to say the least, to be massaged by a woman with whom I had never made eye contact. 

After exchanging hellos and the basic information, I learned that Sylvia was with a group of women who were going to a Huey Lewis concert. Despite her questionable taste in music, I enjoyed the attention. But, when she got up to leave for the concert, she asked if I would pick up her and her friends’ bar tab. Not being a total rookie, I suggested, instead, that I would buy her (and her friends) a drink the next evening.  Her response was ego deflating, “Hey guy, you’re looking for love in all the wrong places.”

While I felt the sting of her rebuke, I was also a little amused and puzzled, since I really wasn’t “looking for love” while reading the newspaper and I wasn’t the one who was rubbing a stranger’s shoulders.           

© Lumdog2013

I am submitting this for the Week 64 Trifecta Writing Challenge where we are to write between 33-333 words, using the word “dwell” in the context of keeping one’s attention directed on someone or something.

This is part of a larger piece that I adapted for the prompt.
Your comments are appreciated.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Decisions, Decisions!

I wrote this post for the Week 63 Trifecta Writing Challenge where we are to write 33-333 words using the word “path” in the context of a course or route or a way of life, conduct or thought. 

I immediately thought of people having difficulty making a decision and I decided to use the characters and theme from my January 2, 2013 post entitled, “It Only Takes a Proper Diagnosis.” The following post is self-contained, but I invite you to read my earlier one.


Dr. Freundly:  So, Ernest how are things going?  Have the anxiety and depression subsided?

Ernest:  Well…yeah, I guess.  I’m upset that my fiancĂ©e is still fooling around with my brother and not even bothering to hide it.

Dr. F:  So how does that make you feel?

E:  Well, obviously, I am very angry. I want to do something about it.

Dr. F:  Like what?

E:  Jeez, I don’t know.  I think I’m over the urge to kill them, but I can’t figure out what to do.

Dr. F: This is understandable, many people feel helpless and anxious over their lack of control over a situation.

E:  Well, what should I do?

Dr. F:  It’s not really for me to say.  You must make your own decisions.

E:  Yeah Doc, that’s great.  But I came here for help.

Dr. F:  [Pondering] I am reluctant to tell you what to do, but maybe this quote by Yogi Berra will be enlightening:  “If you see a fork in the road, take it.” 

E:  What does that mean?

Dr. F:  What do you think it means?

E:  I don’t know.  Maybe…that I should make a decision?

Dr. F:  Yes, we are making progress. You must choose a path.

E:  Ok, what should I do?

Dr. F: [Showing signs of exasperation] Maybe, you should think about whether she is the right woman for you.

E:  You mean, break up with her?

Dr. F:  Well…yes.  That would be a reasonable decision, right?

E:  Doc, are you fuckin’ crazy?

Dr. F:  Why do you ask me that?

E:  Because I love her.

Your comments are appreciated.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Embarrassing Love

ketchup with us

For Ketchup With Us #11, Mel and Michele invited us to write about something that we love that we’re embarrassed about. I had a tough time with this, trying to avoid going all mushy on you and I realized that I could get myself off the hook by following the illustrious lead of Michele and Lance and write about some music that I love, but am embarrassed to admit: 

Whenever I go to NOLA (Michele’s home town, I think…parentheticals don’t go against the word count, right?), I try to listen to some live music.  I’m sure you’re thinking I’m into Jazz and you would be wrong.  I like Jazz ok, but I really love to listen to good old, (gulp) Cajun music.  For a rocker like me, this is embarrassing. 

I picked a video of D.L. Menard singing La Porte d’En Arriere (Back Door).  It’s a fun song and very catchy. You might think that this sounds like country music, but it is not.  At least, not what you think of as American Country music, although it is certainly played by country folks.  Cajun is played throughout Louisiana and is derived from music played by Acadians from Canada, who settled in Louisiana. The Acadian music was carried over from France. By the way, the word “Cajun” comes from a French/Creole attempt to say Acadian.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Cycle

Me:  You doin’ the prompt?

Bloggy Friend:  Dunno, not motivated.

Me:  Same here.

Friend:  Come on, do it.

Me: Well, how ‘bout you?


Friend:  Mine’s up.  Where’s yours?

Me: Gonna link now.


I wrote this for the Week 53 Trifextra Writing Challenge where we are to write exactly 33 words of dialogue. 

This dialogue came to me in a flash as it is repeated almost weekly.

Your comments are appreciated.