Nichole’s Awesome Summer Kimchee (김치)

Now I shall never lose this tasty concoction of summer.

1 head Napa cabbage, cored and shredded
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1 cup carrots, grated
1/2 cup daikon radish, grated (optional)
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (dah bomb)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tablespoon dried chile flakes
1 tablespoon sea salt
4 tablespoons whey (if not available use an additional 1 tablespoon salt)

Place vegtables, ginger, garlic, red chile flakes, sea salt and whey in a bowl and pound with a wooden pounder or meat hammer to release juices. Place in a quart-sized, wide-mouth mason far and press down firmly with a pounder or meat hammer until juices come to the cop of the cabbage. The top of the vegetables should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for about 3 days before transferring to cold storage.

Commencement Address

IMG_5277

 

I am writing this missive for a very special reason.

So many years ago I have a vivid memory of sitting down to lunch with a good friend and my oldest son. We were eating ham sandwiches after spending an early spring morning working on a pair of strip built kayaks parked in the garage. Justin and my friend were talking and I was munching, just listening.

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Jeremy asked my four year old.

Without skipping a beat Justin replied “I want to be a cowboy chef named ‘Eyeball.'”

His tone brooked no comment, yet Jeremy and I found ourselves laughing out loud, buckled over in hysterics much to Justin’s displeasure. He had clearly used his best logic to reach this conclusion and he really hadn’t anticipated our reaction.

Now my oldest son is graduating from High School. That very same question gets foisted at him I imagine daily. “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

As I sit here writing I am experiencing what most parents probably feel at about this time in our children’s lives. A compelling desire, a tug on the heart, to say something that will matter. How can I make this easier for you Justin? What can I do or say to ensure your lasting contentment?

The first thing I want to tell you is don’t be scared. I can still recall the overwhelming excitement I felt as I drove my Dad’s big blue Ford heading up to a summer job immediately after my commencement. Both windows were rolled down and dry air turned the raggedy old cabin into a hair blender.

I imagine that you’ll feel that freedom and excitement sometime real soon, but this too will pass. In it’s place you’ll find uncertainty. You’re suddenly a grown up, a man by all rights with all the privileges and responsibilities that come with that. Suddenly consequence is all on you.

So it’s little wonder that a little uncertainty might creep into the mix. What do I like? What can I do? What is that person thinking? Life is just full of these sorts of questions. You answer them when you can, you ignore them at your peril.

If you weren’t a little uncertain at this point I’d be genuinely fearful for you. The world is a scary place, full of dead ends, problems, and paradox. Only yesterday you were this little thing I could hold in my hands. This tiny little baby no one was certain might live until tomorrow. You were so fragile I was so uncertain.

Today you’re this grown person; barely filling out your body, only now starting to brush up against responsibility.

So when you encounter uncertainty I hope you do so like you did when you were four. I hope you look it square in the eye, without fear, and proclaim in a strong, clear voice “I want to be a cowboy chef named ‘Eyeball.'”

And there’s is something else I hope for you. I hope you love your work. If you love your work, if you find something you can love doing for a long time, you really can’t lose.

If your heart and soul is part of your vocation you are statistically unlikely to fail. You can’t lose because regardless of how much money you make you’ll be having a kick ass time. That’s better than gold my son. Better than fame. Better than glory. Pretty much better than anything. Figure out what makes you happy. Or better figure out what you love to do and you’ll have a happy life. None of the rest really matters.

If you find that you’re doing something that you don’t love, or worse, that you just hate, see my first piece of advice. Don’t be scared about leaving. Golden handcuffs are just that, and they’ll hold you back forever. That is unless you take them off.

Finally, I want to tell you to juice life. Put it in your blender and hit frappe. Let it spin for a good long while. Laugh while it’s going. Cackle. Guffaw when you hit the chunky parts.

My son, this is the only life you’ll ever get. You’ve got to suck every last drop of it and still you won’t, you shouldn’t, ever feel sated.

And should you feel that you don’t want more — when you reach these unavoidable milestones and hopelessness rears its ugly face in your life — the absolute best treatment is to laugh at it.

It’s been an exercise in patience getting this far into this letter so if you’re still reading you’ve got what it takes for the next bit. Add to this patience, practice; lots and lots of practice. We talked about this a little bit when you were working at the cycle kitchen. Practice isn’t just the simple repetition of a task in order to improve your ability. It isn’t a pursuit of perfection.

Practice is the task for the sake of the task. Wax on, wax off. Whether it’s playing your guitar or truing wheels or building relationships you’ve got to have the patience to see things through and the will to practice at all the fiddly bits over and over. To find the flow while you’re doing each little part.

Back when your Mom and I lived in Florida, more than anything, I wanted a Valley Nordkapp kayak. Back then this was the open water tripping boat used by arctic explorers. Fast and lithe in all conditions I was enthralled by pictures of dry suited dudes busting through frothy, collapsing waves somewhere far north of anywhere with trees. Back then that is what I dreamed I might someday do.

Now, twenty years and lots of change later, I own this boat. It’s tippy as hell. It’s heavy. My big old ass barely fits in the tiny cockpit. I am confronted by the fact that I’m sixty pounds heavier and twenty years older each time I wet this hull.

So, if I ever want to see myself paddling a red hull while wearing bright mango in steel gray water amongst white icebergs, I know I’ve got to be patient with myself. I’m going to need to spend a lot of time holding onto a dock, working on my braces and stabilizing strokes, and remembering how to roll before I’ll be able to paddle out into the open. Practice and patience.

Be patient with yourself in all things. Stop and think “can I break this down any more” before you take that next step. If you can figure this part out, you’ll almost always finish what you start. You’ll realize your visions.

I’ve tried to write this letter without telling you not to do things. I’m going to break this rule just a little bit more for my next admonition. It is a warning and it comes from my heart directed straight to your’s because this is something I got wrong when I was your age.

Show your affection. Hug people when you greet them. The European custom of cheek kissing needs to be revived. Fist bump, high five, hand-shake-to-hug, wrestle where appropriate. Spread this stuff all around. Don’t feel self conscious about your affection for others.

The science behind affection is incontrovertible. Hugs reduce anxiety, stimulate oxytocin and dopamine, and promote parasympathetic balance. This is true for you the hugger as much as the person you’re hugging. Good grief, can you imagine a world in which we eradicate the common cold because we’re all topped off with enough affection that our collective enhanced immune response gives the rhinovirus no quarter, no place to thrive?

This society, the one in which you’ve been raised, incorrectly pushes young men towards stoicism. In order to be a man you’re not supposed to make displays of emotion. You’re supposed to lock all those feelings away, you’re supposed to be insensitive and unempathetic.

This is the All American creed of the jerk. So while I’m going to tell you not to act like a jerk, thereby breaking my rule, I’m going to follow it up by suggesting that the best way to avoid being a jerk is to hug one.

You know this already, but it deserves repeating, I am proud of you. You’re a stand up guy and a righteous dude and now that you’ve matured I’m heartened to both call you my son and my friend.

Watching you get your diploma yesterday made me so happy. Made me acknowledge what a lucky person I am for knowing you and how much better off I’ve been these last eighteen years because you’ve been in my life.

I’m letting you go, one more time.

So long, fare well, be happy.

Serenity Base Camp

The Last Monk

More from Adrien Girod. “The Last Monk” I can’t get enough of this guy

 

Around about 1993, sitting around a table tapping magic cards with a bunch of other nerds, the discussion turned from the infrequency of lotus cards and the need for more blue land to the then very new internet. Our Nerd in Chief Deva, who sat in the throne next to the wood burning stove across the room from us, shared his royal two cents. It was possibly the most prophetic and cogent couple of sentences I may have ever heard.

“Even if all you ever did was sit in front of a terminal and read all the stuff on the internet, you’d still never be able to know it all. A tiny fraction of a percentage. And it’s always getting bigger,” he said, or something like that. If I search for it I might be able to find it exactly.

Anyway, recently I’ve had to suspend my fractional readings regarding all the hullabaloo around this year’s now notorious Hugo Cluster Event. WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!

CampSerenity

This pad will become Serenity Base Camp for the foreseeable future. RE: Hugos, I’m pretty much unaware of what’s going on and who said what. Honestly, it was getting to the point where the self-identified Sad Puppies were starting to sound a whole lot like a broken record. Endlessly spinning around and around on that same list of broken rationalizations for their actions. So, moving our house, one more time, has actually become somewhat of a relief.

And now that I’m taking a momentary break from stuffing all our worldly belongings into various sized cardboard containers I cast my searches out into the internet and discover that not a whole lot has changed.

The big update seems to be from the handful of people who unknowingly made it onto the SP slate or made the short list otherwise. Connie Willis has told the world that she won’t be presenting at the Hugos.

“You may have been able to cheat your way onto the ballot. (And don’t talk to me about how this isn’t against the rules–doing anything except nominating the works you personally liked best is cheating in my book.) You may even be able to bully and intimidate people into voting for you. But you can’t make me hand you the Hugo and say “Congratulations,” just as if you’d actually won it. And you can’t make me appear onstage and tell jokes and act like this year’s Hugo ceremony is business as usual and what you’ve done is okay. I’m not going to help you get away with this. I love the Hugo Awards too much.”

And both Marko Kloos and Annie Bellett have declined their nominations. I think these three should be commended for their level of personal integrity. That’s got to take some moxie, a whole rocket full.

There may be more. Who knows? I’m only capable of understanding a tiny fraction of what’s going on out there.

Mimic

Most pictures are worth about a thousand words. This one seems to be worth at least two. “How do you know this?” you ask. Well, because I just wrote another thousand and change because of it. Thanks again to Chuck Wendig for hosting these little teasers. Now that you’ve completed draft on your next novel let us see what you can do short form.

Mimic

“As you can see the integrated rover housing can be adapted to a great variety of applications. Spacing of trees in your orchard isn’t ever a problem. We’ve sold these units to citrus farmers in the Republic of Cali and to apple growers along the Yakima. Additionally, the individual pollinators can also be changed out in whole racks. Not only does this make cross pollination possible, but it means you can mix your root stock and still get the job done before the sun sets,” said the stick-thin figure from the back of the hydrogen splitter.

The rig was shiny and it looked foreign. It purred like a barn cat with a mouse as it soaked in the sunshine converting water to fuel in its cells. I think everyone was eyeing the petro-plastic covering the six wheel wells on the skinny man’s truck, there had to be enough there we could melt it down and fashion a shed or a house or something. It was black too, which meant there was some sorta dye embedded in it. That’s the kind of stuff you want to use for a water heater or even irrigation. Everyone knew that. Everyone imagined tearing it off the side of the transport.

A hand rose from the middle of the crowd of men and boys that had packed into the alley near the General store, it was Martin Kenny’s. The skinny man noticed Martin and said, “Yes sir, are you interested in buying a Rainier Robotics Automated Pollination Platform?”

“No sir,” Martin replied, “I’m still trying to figure out what you’re selling, to be honest. You talk fast and use a lot of fancy words don’t none of us understand. But what I really want’ta know, would you be interested in selling me the plastic on your rig?”

The skinny man looked surprised and it appeared as if he’d lost his place in the script as he looked out into the gathered crowd of orchard men. With the question out there all we could do was speculate. It’s possible, where ever he hailed from, the petro-plastic along the side of that truck wasn’t such a scarcity. All we had was the kind made from potatoes and sump juice and it crumbled in the sunshine and melted in the soil. Using it to water an orchard is nothing but a waste of time because by the time you finish one end of an installation you’re likely ready to replace the end where you began. All of us work orchard lands above the river, and irrigation pipes is the only way to get water up from the river, so that’s just what we do. Last harvest my cherries fetched only enough in potato exchange for me to replace pipe in the upper orchard. This spring I’ve been doing nothing much more than patching and glueing getting ready for the dry spell.

Martin Kelly is renowned along the upper Wenatchee because the piss-plastic he cooks up behind his swine stables stands up better than most. Forgive my crudeness it’s just what we call it. So when he starts asking this stickman to buy the petro off the side of his rig everyone standing there starts to worry. The little fella standing on the tail gate of his rig, he just pushes on down the track like Kelly’s question weren’t no obstacle.

Something changes in the man’s demeanor like he’s suddenly remembered something important. He pulls a raggedy straw hat from behind a couple of large boxes and plops it on his head. Then he looks down at his shiny shoes for a moment and mumbles something none of us can understand.

“My apologies old son. I can’t help you much with your plastic problems. I’m here to solve your pollination problems,” the skinny man says direct to Kelly.

“And I have it on good authority,” he then proclaims like a Sunday preacher, “that all y’all have been doing your own blossom pollination for time out’ta mind.”

Now I can hear the difference I just saw in the skinny man, he’s a mimic and I suddenly don’t trust him. It’s like he went home and put on a nice clean shirt and new pants, even though he’s wearing the same damn clothes. He sounds something like the people along the Wenatchee. Everyone standing there notices the difference too, like night and day.

Toby Williams, the kid brother of Vance who owns the land along the Chumstick, pipes up without waiting to be called. “So your saying that lil box-thing does the work of spring time probing?” The kid has been ruffling feather ever since his big brother come down ill with the pox, but I say he stepped up and took on that patch of cherries. No one around Peshastin has near that many trees, I say let the kid be he’s proved his worth and knows his roots.

The skinny man beams a grin at Toby that for some reason seems to calm the clucking men. If there’s an inch of extra skin on this fellow it’s below his clean shaven chin, and it bunches up there as if to underline the smile. “Son, that’s exactly what I’m sayin’. This here machine does all the work bees and butterflies used to do.”

The sound of jaws hitting the crumble-stone beneath our feet is audible. Toby, young man that he is, responds skeptically. “Skinny man, what’s a bee?”

“Like this here petro-plastic bees just ain’t no more.” The skinny man turns away from the crowd for a moment, pokes at the machine. Out pops a long rack of intricate, little clockworks on a long arm. It looks something like a wall of tiny winter coats, each one the same and hung next to it’s neighbor. I estimate there has to be a thousand of them.

From the wall the skinny man bends over and picks a single device. He cups it in his hands and turns to the crowd. “Some ah y’all are probably just old enough to remember what a bee was,” he proclaims loud enough for all to hear. “Something like an apple moth, but it don’t eat fruit. In fact, before the time of probes and picks, these lil buggers made fruit. They’d just buzz around your orchard and do the probe work for you.”

It’s a distant, hazy memory, but I can still recall bees. Well, a bee. I find myself looking inside, sorting through years of rubbish, for that image of a kettle-bellied yellow and black body struggling at my feet. My Father had said it was a bumble-bee. That it was dying for some reason that I can’t recall. And that it wasn’t the only one I’d see die like that, but I can’t recall any others. The old men in the crowd, they’re all remembering too.

“Son, these insects, they’re all gone now, but they made orchard work easy,” said the skinny man. He opens up his cupped hands and the little clockwork begins to buzz. It hovers for a blink of my eye and then darts off into the blue.

Oneironaut

This is flash fiction piece is in response to a Chuck Wendig – Terrible Minds challangy thing. And, boy oh boy, do I love some flash fiction challenge. Dig it? Hate it? Lemme know.

Oneironaut

“No, I’m telling you it wasn’t the Somanetics. Not this time. In fact here,” shouted Emerson while holding out a hand sized electronic device, “take a look. Sam, beyond the recording they didn’t register anything.”

The street café wasn’t the quietest place to share a cup of Koff. Traffic honked, rattled and bumped along the double decker transport pads on the far side of the sound barrier. The walls of Chilango’s colossal architecture shaded the café and echoed the cacophony back at the pair.

“No kidding,” replied Sam sipping at the hot bowl of synthetic morning juice he had just brought back from the register. He put the bowl down and scrolled through the previous night’s nocturnal recording. “You didn’t, I don’t know, accidentally leave a plunge in the queue did you?”

The look on Emerson’s face said it all, but he reiterated for clarity. “No damn it. Who’d do that anyway? That mierda will just mess you up. I’m telling you I went there on my own.”

“Yeah? I just don’t see,” Sam paused to take another sip of the bitter-dark drink. “Wait, how do you know you went anywhere? I mean, maybe you just had a dream, right?”

“Check the coordinates at the beginning of the dream,” said Emerson.

Sam’s thumb swiped and tapped on the device. He put down the bowl of Koff and picked the device up from the table. “Hmm,” he said. There was more swiping and tapping, this time with two thumbs and a finger.

“What are you doing?” asked Emerson.

“Well, finding out where this is for one thing,” Sam said. “I mean, I’ve never seen anything like this before. Have you? Well, obviously you have, but where? Haven’t you always lived here Em?”

“Yeah Sam. And I mean ‘no’ I’ve never seen that kind of a place before. When I woke up I had to go look it up on the informática. I cross referenced that image with every place I’ve ever been. Chilangolandia? It’s never had a cherry tree in it. Let alone that many,” Emerson said with an excitement his biochemistry probably could not support. It was still pretty early in the morning.

“Em, these coordinates don’t map. Well they do, but its to the middle of the ocean,” Sam interrupted.

“I’m telling you Sam I walked down that path, just like the recording shows it. I don’t know, it was chilly and wet. Not like Chilango. I think it was morning because the light was all pink,” Emerson said with conviction.

“Look Em, there’s got to be an explanation. Maybe we should finish our Koff. Aren’t you going to get any?” Asked Sam. Emerson crossed his arms and shook his head. Sam continued. “Then I’ll take you to the Oneironautica and they can check out your hardware. Maybe something’s gone wrong with your deck. Maybe you just need a reset. Jeez, let’s hope it’s your deck.”

Emerson scowled at his friend. “Sam, listen to me. You’re not listening to me. I already ran the full diagnostic on my deck and my head. All negativo my friend, and the Oneironautica validated the tests.” Emerson sat up in his chair and snatched the device from Sam. He scrolled around a bit and held an image of a stone path, inundated in florid water vapor, and bordered by blossoming fruit trees. “I’m telling you, this place is real. I went there last night. I did it without the deck,” Emerson said emphatically pointing at the image.

“Okay, alright,” Sam replied holding his hands palm out in supplication. “I can see that this dream has got you all wound up. And why not, it’s a beautiful place.” Sam gestured with his right hand at the booming, urban canyon where they were situated. “It’s certainly better than anything I’ve ever seen.”

The two sat across from one another, Sam sipping at his Koff. Emerson studied his friend in silence.

“Do you think you can go there again?” asked Sam.

“That’s the thing, I don’t know how I got there in the first place. I don’t know where ‘there’ even is. I walked in this dream for seventy-three minutes and there was no one else. No markers, no signs. Only fog, cherry trees and the brook. If this was someone’s plunge they don’t want to get paid. I couldn’t pay them if I tried,” Emerson said.

He looked up at his friend’s face. Sam had that grin on his close shaved jaw that Emerson knew all too well.

“Oh no,” Emerson said.

“No wait,” Sam replied.

“No you can’t have the recording. Sam, you can’t have it.”

Sam feigned injury, then sat up in his little café chair. “Good idea Em, but not what I was thinking. There’s plenty of plunge in any bodega.”

“Then what?” asked Emerson.

“Well, we’ve got the full recording, thank you modern medical science, and that’s sort of a map, right.” Emerson sat silent, he could tell that Sam needed to talk this one out. “You’ve got all the brain chatter and chemical levels and whatever recorded, and the deck can reproduce those directions when you tell it to. It could even tell my head to follow your map.”

“So you want me to what, play it like an induction plunge?” Emerson asked incredulously. “There’s a reason all I ever play on my deck is certified sleep Somanetics. You know that stuff can mess you up.”

“Yeah, but how we gonna know? How else we gonna know?” Sam asked and Emerson knew he’d already made up his mind. “I’ve got the wiring, just need a deck right?”

Emerson sighed deeply. “The deck and twenty years of grade A therapy.”

Sam poured the remainder of the Koff down the back of his throat and stood. “Just think Em, you may have stumbled onto something big. I mean huge, right. You know, dream therapy I never really liked much. But getting out of here, getting the fuck out of Chilango? That’s worth the try.”

Sam wiped sweat from his forehead, Chilango walk level already sweltering and the sun had yet gotten over the artificial albedo. “Come on, let’s go get a deck. This place is too damned hot.”