Sunday Stealing – LEP

USDA definition of a sandwich

This week’s Sunday Stealing is again via LEP, the League of Extraordinary PenPals.

1. October reading & writing goals and plans

Reading: any one of the dozen or so books I bought THIS YEAR before the end of 2023. Writing: limiting myself to one blog post per day.

2. Something I did that totally paid off

I was putting away money for retirement. To my surprise, I stayed at my last job long enough that my wife’s health insurance is paid until she hits 65 and my daughter’s until she turns 26.

3. I want to see this make a comeback

Civility in public discourse when talking/writing about politics. Not to my surprise, I noticed that one rightwing online outlet described djt lawyer Sidney Powell agreeing to a plea deal as stabbing djt in the back.

4. Generational traits I really value

It’s a cliche, but my daughter has helped me with some technology.

5. Changes I’d like to see in my daily environment

I wish some cars would not drive at 50 MPH/80 kph down my street. There’s an elementary school, the attendant school buses, parents, and kids.

6. Favorite soup dishes

I misread this as my favorite soap dish initially. I’m a New England clam chowder guy. As a kid, it was Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup.

7. Start with the best part, or save the best for last

I’m not sure this answers the question, but I tend to go to the farthest one first when I have a series of tasks involving travel to several stores.

8. The most chaotic part of my daily life

Waking up, feeding the cats before they caterwaul, feeding my wife and me.

What I’d eat

9. If I could only eat 10 things, I’d pick

Two of them are easy: sandwiches and pie. Sandwiches have an interesting Wikipedia page. “In the 21st century, there has been considerable debate over the precise definition of sandwich, and specifically whether a hot dog or open sandwich can be categorized as such… The USDA uses the definition ‘at least 35% cooked meat and no more than 50% bread’ for closed sandwiches, and ‘at least 50% cooked meat’ for open sandwiches. 

“In Britain, the British Sandwich Association defines a sandwich as ‘any form of bread with a filling, generally assembled cold,’ a definition which includes wraps and bagels but excludes dishes assembled and served hot, such as burgers.'” My definition is quite liberal and would include tacos, tortillas, et al. Now, this is a sandwich.

Similarly, a ‘pie is a baked dish which is usually made of a pastry dough casing that contains a filling of various sweet or savoury ingredients. Sweet pies may be filled with fruit…, nuts, sweetened vegetables… Savoury pies may be filled with meat…, eggs and cheese, … or a mixture of meat and vegetables.'” I will make the case that pizza is also a pie.

Beyond that, grapes, apples, blueberries, spinach, tuna fish, salmon, oatmeal, and oatmeal raisin cookies.

10. What Autumn feels like where I live

Early October was ridiculously warm, c 82F/28C for a high. Now, it’s closer to 61F/16C. (BTW, I love the 104/40, 82/28, 61/16 connection; this is how I track the comparison between Fahrenheit and Celsius on the fly. The changing leaves’ color seems muted, though they were better in western Massachusetts last weekend. 

11. The teacher who would be most proud of me

My 6th-grade teacher, the late Paul Peca.

12. My go-to Halloween snacks & treats 

Mounds bar, York Peppermint patties

What is life?

13. 10 ways my life is great right now

A: I have a congenital heart issue, and every six months, I get scanned. It’s no worse this month than last time, so I won’t have open-heart surgery this year. B: The church choir is singing in person. We’re singing a significant piece next month. C: I went on two trips this year. It’s the first year since 1995 that I’ve traveled, requiring airlines twice. D: Seeing our daughter last weekend was great. E. I live in a place with excellent local bus access. I was on a CDTA bus when a woman told me only two local buses were in Middletown, NY.

F: I haven’t had COVID or the flu this year. In the past month, I received vaccines for both. G: I have no credit card debt, and I have in the past. H: I have made some genealogical breakthroughs, two of which I’ll mention in November. I: It’s great having a library, movie theater, and grocery store in my neighborhood. (RIP, my local CVS.) J: I get to listen to music almost all day.

14. A perfect day indoors looks like…

I’d read the newspaper, do my Wordle, write a blog post, have my friends come over to play hearts, and watch a recorded episode of JEOPARDY. Except for watching TV, I’d listen to music.

15. Pumpkin spice…

Meh. I don’t HATE it, but I don’t get the appeal.

Sunday Stealing: If…


The current iteration of Sunday Stealing is If…

1. If you could change the ending to one movie you have seen, which one would it be, and how would you reshoot it?

At the end of Titanic, Rose is brought back to the site three-quarters of a century after the disaster. She drops the Heart of the Ocean necklace into the ocean. I think this was supposed to be romantic. It feels like the last three-quarters of a century in her life, with children and grandchildren, was meaningless.

But it’s better than an alternative ending which was filmed but not used. “Lizzy (Rose’s granddaughter) spots her grandmother climb up on the railings. She rushes forward with Brock [the expedition leader]… Rose tells them not to get any closer. She holds up the Heart of the Ocean and threatens to drop it.

“Brock pleads with Rose to let him hold the diamond just once, but Rose tells Brock that he ‘looks for treasure in the wrong places,’ telling him that life is priceless and they should make each day count.

“Rose tosses the diamond overboard while Brock’s team shows up and watches on incredulously. The same scene of the gem hitting the water is used before we cut back to Brock and Rose. The former laughs at his team before asking Lizzy to dance.”


2. If you were to select a food that best describes your character, what food would it be?

Spinach. Green, crunchy, underappreciated.

3. If you could cure any disease, which would it be?

Cancer seems to manifest as several different diseases. My father died of prostate cancer, but I know several people who have died of other cancers. My dear choir friend Marion Motisher died, and I was a pallbearer on my 39th birthday.

4. If you had to describe the single worst thing a friend could do to you, what would it be?

I have a current example of someone I considered a dear friend. They accidentally butt-dialed me some months ago but promised to call me soon—radio silence. 

5. If you could be a contestant on any game show, which would you like to be on?

The $100,000 Pyramid, no doubt. I tried out for it in the 1970s when I was living in NYC, when it was the $10,000 Pyramid, but I never got past the first round. I enjoy watching it when it returns each summer.


6. If you could choose the music at your own funeral, what would it be, and who would play it?

I’ve actually thought about this a lot. I would like a pianist I know to play Chopin’s “Raindrop Prelude” Op.28 No.15. Of course, my church choir would sing. I have a few possibilities. I Will Not Leave You Comfortless by Titcomb,  which the choir just sang at the funeral of a choir spouse. Or How lovely is thy dwelling place from the Brahms German Requiem (in English), which I sang with others at my former church for Jim Kalas; there are probably other choices.  I want hymns that have harmony vocals; no unison stuff. And I want an Amen; we don’t sing amens – maybe a Sevenfold one.

7. If you had to spend all of your vacations in the same place for the rest of your life, where would you go?

Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I was there in 1991 and 1992 but not since.

8. If you could ask God a single question, what would it be?

This is a serious answer because all the Big Questions about the afterlife would be self-evident. When I was about twelve, I walked down the street in Binghamton, NY. Suddenly, a lens on the glasses I was wearing cracked. What happened? I heard nothing. It couldn’t have been a BB gun, I don’t think. Was it a tiny meteorite? In any case, my eye was fine, but I was greatly startled.

Almost picked ice cream

9. If you could eat one food in any quantity for the rest of your life with no ill effects whatsoever, what food would you choose?

Pie because it is the perfect food. You can have savory like a chicken pot pie. You can have a variety of fruit pies, and I would eat them in rotation. Then there’s pizza.

10. If you could have a year anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go?

New Zealand. It’s about as far away from me as you can get. It’s a reasonably safe place. They speak English there. And I could meet Arthur.

11. If you could forever eliminate one specific type of prejudice from the earth, which would it be?

May I pick xenophobia? No? Okay, I’m going with sexism because the current manifestation of it, in big ways (Iran) and small, diminish men as well as women.

12. If you could own one painting from any collection in the world but were not allowed to sell it, which work of art would you select?

The Scream by Edvard Munch. I relate to it sometimes.

13. If you could ask a single question of a dead relative, what would it be, and whom would you ask?

That would be Pop, my father’s dad. Someone told me something about him I had never heard before, and I wanted to verify it.


14. If you had to choose the best television show ever made, which one would you pick?

I will pick The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966). It’s one of three programs that ran longer than a season for which I have the complete DVD set. Not incidentally, I just discovered that you could see the episodes at FilmRise Television.

15. If you could write letters to only one person for the rest of your life, who would receive them?

I’m a terrible letter writer. And I used to be quite good before the advent of email. I’ll say my friend Mark because he writes lovely and loquacious prose.

Singing parts; cream of tartar

the Pips

lemon merengue pieCarla, who I’ve known since high school choir – was she an alto? – decided she needed to know stuff:

Ok… when you sing alone… do you mostly sing the melody, or do you sing your “part?”

Almost always, in four-part music that I’m familiar with, it’s the bass line. In pop music, it’s usually the Pips response, not the Gladys Knight lead. On Lola (Kinks) or The Boxer (S&G), it’d be the high harmony, not the melody. I just hear them better.

To that end, I can sing a higher pitch in harmony than in melody. This makes no physical sense, so it must be mental. We had a church play in March, Once On This Island. I hated singing the high parts in my solo; it made me anxious. But the harmony, I absolutely LOVED doing. Harmony almost always I find relaxing.

No lemon merengue pie?

She also wants to know – those people from Binghamton, NY always inquisitive, especially when the extended family runs the Little Venice restaurant:
OK here is another question…. why are you unfamiliar with cream of tartar? You never make lemon merengue pie? Or soufflés?

I think I’ve made lemon merengue pie exactly once in my life. To the best of my recollection, I’ve NEVER made a soufflé. Or snickerdoodle cookies, which also can use cream of tartar.

But that’s about it. WHY have cream of tartar when it has such limited use? It’s not like cinnamon or nutmeg or any number of other spices I’ve used regularly. AND there are reasonable substitutes.

Now, there was a period in the 1980s, I was into making pumpkin pies, and even baking cookies. And it wasn’t always in the autumn. But it wasn’t for my own consumption. It was either for a food pantry or some benefit auction. I don’t even like eating pumpkin pie as much as I like apple. Or lemon merengue. But they were easier to make; no top crust.

Since I got married, I almost never make pies or cookies. My wife is WAY better at it. I’m not all that interested in doing things only so-so. And frankly, if I were to make them, I’d want to eat them, and I don’t need to do that.

Family health report: usual, or not so much

Blueberry, cherry, five-fruit, some lemon custard thing, pecan, pumpkin

cortisoneFamily health report, but no news about the Wife, which is good news.

I woke up early the week of Thanksgiving with about a dozen scratches on my upper back, at the shoulder blade level and above. I didn’t really notice the wounds until I realized how much it itched back there. They’re deep enough that I’d think I’d notice when they happened, but apparently not.

Did one of the cats do this? They remain the prime suspects; Arthur knows about cat scratches, though none of mine was nearly that long. The Wife wondered if she could have done so in her sleep, but it seems highly unlikely; talking in her sleep, yes, but not scratching. And it’s virtually impossible for me to have done that to myself, as I can barely reach the area.

The Wife treated it with some topical lotions, including cortisone and Eucerin, and it feels SO MUCH better.

Too much pie, even for a dozen of us. Blueberry, cherry, five-fruit, some lemon custard thing, pecan, pumpkin, made mostly from some Amish folks. Surprisingly, no apple. With vanilla ice cream. I ate only the first four over the two days, but it was enough to make Friday night dinner totally unnecessary.

The Daughter and one of her cousins were playing on Thanksgiving day. Trying to climb a wall, she got an abrasion on her abdomen that apparently looks worse than it feels.

Her cousin somehow hit The Daughter’s foot with her elbow(?) on Thanksgiving Day, and it remained bruised into the next day. We took her to the urgent care place about 9:42 a.m., maybe 15 seconds after another guy showed up. HE needed two 20-minute sessions, so we got pushed back to 11:20 a.m., as the earlier slots were also filled.

We left, then came back. No, the foot isn’t broken. But it still hurts. She SHOULD be taking an NSAID such as ibuprofen or naproxen, to relieve the inflammation, but she’s not the best patient.

Pie, and the love thereof

Apple pie in the sky as dreamer.

apple pieI am on the record, stating my great preference for pie over cake. Pie, as a form, is more flexible than cake, as it can be savory (chicken pot pie, e.g.) or sweet.

Picking this totally random day, here are some of my favorite songs about pie.

American Pie- Don McLean. Also the name of a series of movies about libidinous teenagers.

Apples Peaches Pumpkin Pie – Jay & The Techniques. I remember that game. This 1966 song I’m fairly sure one of my sisters owned, perhaps on the album. “Marry you so you don’t roam.” What a controlling guy.

Custard Pie -Led Zeppelin. I was shocked, SHOCKED to find out that this song from Physical Graffiti might be about…something else. Would Zeppelin actually use food items as metaphors for sex?

Flaming Pie – Paul McCartney. The album’s title track about how John Lennon named the Beatles.

Honey Pie – the Beatles. This doesn’t talk about food at all, but is rather a term of endearment. What IS it with Macca and pie?

I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) – Four Tops. More affectionate use of the term.

Sweet Potato Pie – Ray Charles. From the Genius Loves Company album (2004), this track features James Taylor, who had written and performed the song for his Never Die Young album (1988).

High Hopes – Frank Sinatra. Specifically: “He’s got high, apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes.” Apple pie in the sky as dreamer.

Lots of pie songs out there in a simple Google search. Here’s one list .

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