Not Even

Californians do not know how to make bagels. It’s strictly a New York talent. Unless you’re a transplanted New York bagel baker in California, you will never know what a real bagel tastes like.

It’s all in the method. You must boil the dough first. It’s what gives the bagel its shiny, chewy exterior. Steaming them won’t do it, neither will brushing the tops with egg wash.

Bagels in California omit the boiling method so you end up with bready bagels that taste more like unsweetened donuts than genuine bagels.  FullSizeRender (21)

Speaking of which, bakeries are now fond of producing chocolate chip, cranberry and walnut, and other sweetened varieties of bagels for the undiscerning public. That’s unheard of in the real bagel world. It’s garlic, onion, poppy-seed, and pumpernickel in the genuine bagel environment.

I’ve noticed that most food stores are now making their own bagels. Don’t even. They’re terrible. So are the kind in those big warehouse food stores. Don’t waste your money.

I even tried importing a dozen bagels from my favorite New York shop except I couldn’t bring myself to pay $50 for the indulgence. It was the shipping costs that killed me.

I’m still on the lookout for a Jewish baker who is quietly boiling his bagels and doing all the right things to bring pleasure to his customers. I haven’t found him yet, but I know he exists somewhere in this vast state of mine.

Calvin says, “You’re dreaming. It’s like me hoping for brisket in my food dish.”

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It’s All About the Drama

“People are basically insane,” playwright David Manet says in a writing class I’m taking. “We miss a connection, we have an evil impulse that wants to lead us astray,” he goes on. “We live on the dark side and the cure is religion. Another word for religion is drama.”

Did I hear him correctly? Yes. Manet is a devoted Jew, and espouses his religion with conviction and fervor.

“All drama is failure and lies,” he says.

You can say that again. Story of my life.

“Don’t be boring,” he warns. FullSizeRender (20).jpg

How can you be boring if your life is full of drama? Everybody’s life is dramatic. It’s so dramatic Hollywood couldn’t invent it, I say. And since you’re the protagonist in your own story, make it good.

“Dialogue is just gossip,” he tells me. Now he’s talking. I’ve got enough for several books.

“Narration is the death of drama,” he continues. No wonder school is boring.

“The live audience in a play are idiots individually, but collectively they’re genius,” he says. “They paid you a compliment by coming to see your play. Drama helps them face the truth and they come for the truth.”

“Movies don’t challenge people, drama does,” he says. I’ve been saying that for years. To prove the point, just listen to a child explain away something he did, like break the TV screen with a baseball. It’s drama at its best.

Calvin says, “It’s drama for me when I go after a rabbit. My nose quivers, my body is on alert, and my singing voice takes over. Better than opera.”  beagle

 

 

Coming Up Spring

Alf surprised me with daffodils and purple flowers that are popping up this spring. My azalea is bursting red so the garden is draped in the primary colors these days. My garden has never looked so colorful. It makes me smile.
We have the worst soil on the planet. The Mojave has more chances of sprouting flowers than my front and backyards. It’s hard clay, and when broken up with toil and sweat, it winks at you for a moment, and then scampers back to form its impenetrable layer of steel. No matter how much rich soil and delicious nutrients you pour down its black hole of a gullet, it regurgitates the clay. I’m convinced the clay runs deep to the core of the planet.
It’s a wonder Alf is succeeding where I haven’t. IMG_0173 (1)
“What’s your secret?” I asked.
“Patience,” he said.
“That’s never worked for me,” I said.
“Maybe it’s the rain. That helps.”
We used to have a rainy season, but that was so long ago. I had given up on it.
“It must be the rain,” I said.
“And not my green thumb?”
“You don’t have one. You’re from New York,” I said.
“How do you think Central Park came into being then?”
I checked Wikipedia.
“Not by New Yorkers. The two landscape architects were from England and Connecticut respectively. It proves my point. Brits know a thing or two about gardens.”
“Then we should import one and really go mad,” Alf said.
Calvin says, “I love our clay soil. I like hearing the splashing sound my pee makes on it. Kills all things green. Adds character to the command, ‘Go potty!'”   beagle

Tag You’re It

“How could you have lost a plunger?” the clerk at the hardware store asked on the phone. “What did you do with it?”

Clearly this was a repeat customer. Her tone of voice gave her away.

Was he asking for a replacement or help in finding it? I didn’t stick around to find out, but it did make me curious.

How could you lose a plunger? How could you lose any plumbing tool for that matter? They’re large enough to trip over. photo (34)

I’ve lost rings down bathroom drains, wallets at the check-out stand in supermarkets. I even lost Calvin once on a walk. He gave me signs that he was sufficiently trained to obey me, so I let him off leash. I blinked and he was gone. The next thing I heard him baying like a coyote in heat. He found a hole in the fence and wiggled through to run after a hare. I called him, but he was deaf. He was camouflaged in a thicket of bushes. I called louder. Nothing. I couldn’t climb the fence without tearing my body into pieces. I kept calling louder, but I was getting nowhere. By then I was hoarse. Finally I found a gate, unlocked it and ran through it. I spent an hour running all over the park calling for him. A park ranger drove by and stopped. I told him I was looking for my beagle. Had he seen him? The ranger laughed. I wanted to swat him. He said he’d keep an eye out. Did I want a lift back to my car? Yes, please. I was exhausted and ready to sob. How was I going to tell my son that I lost his dog?

When we pulled up to my car, the ranger laughed again. There was Calvin sitting on his haunches waiting for me.

Calvin says, “I remember that episode. And you thought I was the idiot.”beagle

Wildlife in the City

Riding the subway sometimes feels like a wildlife journey. This morning as I waited for the train to arrive on the outdoor platform, I heard the quacking of ducks. The sun hadn’t risen yet. It was dark. I couldn’t see the birds, but I heard them  quacking to each other incessantly. They had a lot to say and were passionate about it. Finally they took a breath and that’s when the geese started in with their honking. They were loud and vociferous. The ducks couldn’t take it and flew over my head with jet-engine speed.  FullSizeRender (23)

Yesterday as I boarded the train to go home a woman told me not to sit down. “Why?” I asked. “There’s a rat in here!” she said horrified. I look behind me and sure enough the rodent was zig-sagging across the aisle. The passengers were screaming, men and women alike, jumping out of the way. The rat scampered as fast as his little legs could take him in and out of the rows of seats. Women were lifting their legs. The screams got louder. It ran past me and onto two seats by the door. It found a hole in the back of one of them and disappeared.

We stopped at another station. People got on. The seats were filling up. The only two empty ones had the rat in residence. “Don’t sit there!” a man said to people who wanted to sit down. “There’s a rat in the seat,” he said. The riders walked to another car.

At another stop a woman got on and sat down. The same man warned her, but this time in Spanish. He just knew she was Hispanic. She shrugged her shoulders and said, “No me da miedo.” She was right. There was nothing to be afraid of. The rat was in its hidey-hole with a palpitating heart hoping nobody would rip the seat out and extinguish it. The rodent had nothing to fear. There wasn’t a soul on board with the courage to do that. Even the men, some in hard hats and fluorescent vests, big burly construction guys with tool belts around their middles, might as well have been ballerinas in tutus for all the help they provided.

It showed me I better be my own warrior.

It also occurred to me that the easiest way to hold a group of people hostage would be to unleash a few rats on a subway system. The entire system would be paralyzed in no time. 

Calvin says, “You humans. What’s a stupid rat going to do to you? Now snakes, there’s a thought.”  beagle

Am I Really Me?

The latest craze is DNA testing to know where you came from. There are a slew of online companies happy to do it for a swab of spit and a fee. Several of my colleagues at work have done it.

Some have been delighted with the results, others not so much. For them their family tree didn’t match who they thought they were. Image result for dna tests

“I think I’m adopted,” one of them said to me this week. He’s now making inquiries with relatives to see if they had lied to him to all his life. This is a family disruption on the grandest scale.

My question is, are the results accurate? I can just imagine the warehouses of desks, testing equipment and computers for workers making minimum wage who have been entrusted with your spit. I think your relatives are more trustworthy, that is if they can be counted on to speak the truth.

I haven’t succumbed yet. I’m happy to stay oblivious and believe I am who I am. Besides, what if I found out I’ve been living a fake identity? That I have more Inuit blood in me than I could ever imagine and that my love of Indian food is because…you guessed it.

Calvin says, “Who cares? It’s another form of entertainment to get you off course from your real purpose in life.”

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Maybe a Thank You

We have a rodent in our roof. He moves in when the sun dips below the horizon and scratches all night. It sounds like he’s digging the Panama Canal in there. We’ve had the pest control people out to investigate, but this critter is smart. Or they kill one and another comes in to take its place. It’s been particularly cold this season so I don’t blame him for seeking a warm spot. But the word’s gone out. My roof has become a revolving door.

Alf has put traps up there with peanut butter, but that hasn’t worked either. The thing eats the food, tip toes out of the trap, and laughs. I hear him snickering in between scratches.

Lately I’ve noticed a neighborhood cat around our house.

Image result for grey cats yellow eyes

A light grey beauty with yellow eyes. She looks strikingly familiar and then the other day it hit me. She looks identical to the kitten Alf and I rescued a year ago and is now thriving in a new home. This adult cat must have been the mother.

 

So mom cat is patrolling our grounds. One afternoon I found her on the roof, soaking up the afternoon rays by what must be the hole the resident rodent climbs into every day. She’s on it. In the last few nights we haven’t heard any scratching. Could it be she caught this nasty rat as a thank you for fostering her kitten and finding her a great family to live with? That would be utterly delightful.

Calvin says, “Don’t get sentimental over this. Cats are savages. They’ll eat anything.”

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