Coupling

It was only after his live-in partner left and he began shopping and cooking for himself did he notice that the food packaging industry basically had only two marketing models: couples and family size. This was a little more than annoying. Either he ate a lot of creamed spinach at one sitting, to use this dish as an example, or he kept half of the thawed package in the fridge until later. Often he did not want to eat the same dish two meals running, or even two days running. This meant the risk of shoving the leftover to the back of the shelf as other dishes accumulated in front of it. More than once he forgot about the spinach, and mold spread like crabgrass over the dish.

He hated to throw food away. Nor did he like repeating a dish just because he could not saw the frozen package in half. The obvious answer, in the case of spinach, was to buy fresh spinach and make his own version. But the fresh spinach came two ways: already washed, in a plastic bag, or in a bunch bound by a rubber band. In the end it was the same problem. Either you cook it all at once or you steam half the package or bunch. This sometimes lead to black leaves and rotting, unless you use the stuff right away. Of course you can prepare all of it, then freeze half of that, if you really get down to it. But the fact remains that things are packaged for a minimum of two, or for one person who endangers himself by overeating.

Take ravioli, for instance.

He continued purchasing the brand which he and his partner had shared over the years. They often had their favorite, a four cheeses filling. Recently he had taken to buying their latest innovation, cheese and pear, a delicious combination hitherto unknown to him.

The problem with this brand of ravioli, he had learned in recent months, was that you had to be very respectful of the cooking time of four minutes. Any longer, and the pasta bled its filling into the water. Not only that, to save half the serving and reheat it proved nearly impossible. They stuck together and resisted an esthetic appearance. Pick up one, and you dragged two others along with it, or maybe one dropped loose into your lap. Olive oil didn’t help. He tried in a frying pan with a little cream, then with a little wine, then with just butter. In the microwave, it was practically nuclear destruction.

This was when he discovered an anomaly which might have escaped his notice completely had he continued to live his life paired with a woman. To avoid the problem of reheating the ravioli, he began dumping the whole package into a bowl and counting out one half the package to store in the fridge till another day. At first he thought it was mere chance. Seventeen raviolis, count them again, seventeen. So he saved eight and cooked nine the first day, shoving the others back into the package and into the fridge.

Being a creature of habit, mostly out of a necessity to order his shopping and solitary lunches and dinners, he ran through his repertoire of recipes. A hearty vegetable soup of leeks, potatoes, carrots and turnips, with a cube of vegetable broth. This was good for lunch, maybe with cheese afterward. A day or two later, white beans could be added to the soup and this would be a quite decent dinner for one, or two, if the neighbor dropped in for an episode of The Walking Dead, in which case he might make a baked apple dessert. A week or two later, you would find him cooking the soup again, this time throwing in frozen salmon or hake on the second or third day, getting close to a fish soup, if you add a couple of spices.

In between he often made a two pound meat loaf. This was good for at least three, maybe four meals. The fresh meatloaf with baked potatoes and a salad. Hot meatloaf sandwiches with toasted brown bread and mozzarella, tomato and avocado salad. If the neighbor didn’t drop in to see zombies or use the wi-fi, then the last fourth of the meatloaf could become part of a ragu spaghetti sauce or macaroni Bolognesa.

Another rotating dish was salmon fillet in an orange sauce, usually with green beans and sweet potato. The variation here would be with Basmati rice.

And so on.

So what with eating out and running through the recipes, it was only a couple of weeks later that he had a new hankering for ravioli, maybe with a pesto sauce. Again he counted, surprised to note once more that there were seventeen – although this time it was the four cheese variety. Had this been going on all those years when his partner was the one preparing the meals? Had she in her self-effacing way given herself the short measure? Or did she alternate, sometimes taking the long, sometimes the short of it? Or did she even notice?

Such thoughts led him nowhere, of course. Still, his obsessive nature wouldn’t let it go, so he bought three more packages and checked. Seventeen, every time.

Nothing for it but to look the company up on the web. He found the address and opened up Office Writer.

“Dear sirs,” he began, “it has come to my attention …”

June 10, 2014 – The day I should have been on the way to San Francisco.

The Cook in the Golf Club

The director of the Royal Golf Club asked me to come for an interview. Turned out he wanted a series called Concerts on the Grass in the month of August every Saturday night. We looked at the possibilities, but of course in the open air the acoustics are not so good without amplification for the public. And I resisted the idea of mikes and speakers. Better would be a band shell.

There was a sort of natural amphitheater where he thought we could set it up. From there you could look up to see the balcony of the restaurant of the golf club where perhaps forty or fifty people could be sitting at tables. Outside the green surrounding the stage there was room for five or six hundred people. They could bring blankets and drinks and listen to the classics under the stars.

Continue reading “The Cook in the Golf Club”

Canticle

(Memory is many long mirrors)
Corridor mirrors reflecting doors
Quietly opening
                        and then
Noiselessly closing,
Letting wet hats and faces
In from the rain.

(Memory is everything
            Silently
            Forever
            Occurring in mirrors)
Closet doors open;
Closet mirrors twist a smile and face
With a great arm telescoped to the knob.

A hundred facets trace
Light shooting back into the prismed dark
To catch and place
Hall mirrors over and over showing
Faces sadly bending under hats into the rain.

 - Gay Street, Greenwich Village, 1960

When in 1960 I don’t know, so arbitrarily setting it to New Year’s Day.

Certified Letter

Here’s a short autobiographical story by Patrick. The file is dated 12 March 2014.

In our little village here in the mountains, there is a post office still. There are two employees, one for sorting incoming mail and preparing outgoing mail, and one for attending customers, who are few. The office is open only in the morning from eight o’clock until ten-thirty, except Saturday when they stay open until eleven.

After they close, both employees begin the rounds delivering the mail. If there is a certified letter or a package that won’t fit in your mailbox, they leave a yellow notice showing in the slot, half in half out of the box. I suppose that is because nowadays when almost everyone has e-mail there is so seldom any mail you might not check. Continue reading “Certified Letter”

The Whole Point of My Life Was to Meet Stephanie

Another one of those long conversations with Patrick, sharing a bottle Scotch at my dining table and talking about life, responsibility, love, and minding our own business. This one is from 7 Oct 2014 and was transcribed by Christine. The audio file is too big to post here, but if you want to hear it, I can make it available elsewhere.

Patrick: Whatever happens, happens. I did what I had to do, or what I thought I had to do, and you did what you had to do did or what you thought you had to do. And we’re still doing the same.

JP: Un-huh, yep, yep!

Patrick: And of course there’s no one to judge us except you and me.

JP Yeah. Although, I think others who, whose lives we have touched…

Patrick: They can’t judge because they too…

JP: But they will judge whether…

Patrick: Ah yeah, well…

JP: … it’s appropriate. Again, we can’t control their actions.

Patrick: I judge myself more harshly I think than other people, even more harshly than my own kids, I think.

Patrick: On the other hand, I think I have to say, the whole point of my life was to meet Stephanie.

Patrick: And I’m sorry, but all the other stuff was an issue that was just on the way.

JP: Un-huh

Patrick: Because I wanted what I found, and I thought I found it with your mother, and then I thought I found it with, with Mari and I thought I found it with Lois … and I found it… with Stephanie. At this point, Jennifer says, “I’m so jealous of Stephanie.” [laughter]

Patrick: What can you say?

JP: Yeah, yeah. I…

Patrick: But, I was a human being who was also looking for love… Just like you guys.

JP: Un-huh, yep!

Patrick: And my family is just as fucked up as your family. [laughter]

JP: Yep!

Patrick: It’s just I was innocent, escaping that family, but I’m not innocent in escaping this family. I was guilty. On the other hand, I don’t believe I had a choice at that moment. Every time I think about it, I get to the point where I drive out of that schoolyard and I have just lost my job, and my car breaks down, and I lose my job at the newspaper that night, and I’m going then to a little money in Melbourne at the Satellite lounge playing bass, and I still have to wash the diapers.

JP: Yeah.

Patrick: And then I find a job in Chicago and go.

JP: Yep.

Patrick: At that point everything goes like it’s a quantum leap, and it’s a sense of freedom (long pause), and adventure, and love, and still, back there: JP, Jennifer. Oh God, you can’t imagine what it was like. I came back to visit you in the garage apartment in Melbourne, and you fell over the…

JP: Construction set.

Patrick: [laughs]

JP: I thought that was in New York.

Patrick: No no.

JP: Okay.

Patrick: Nah, I came to stay and was in the bed with Donna and you came in excited about what you’d made and you fell over it and broke it. [laughter]

JP: Yep

Patrick: Nothing’s changed!

JP: No [laughs]

JP: I tend to destroy the things I build.

Patrick: Ohh God.

JP: [laughs] …in some ways. I’m much better now at …

Patrick: That was just before I left for Europe. It’s been a long, a long trip.

JP: Yeah, a strange and wondrous journey.

Patrick: Yeah. I’m glad you’re ok.

JP: Yeah, yeah. {pause}. I’m glad you’re still a part of my life.

Patrick: Yeah {pause}. I hope you are able to eh {long pause}, make eh {heavy sigh}… find the other half of yourself … which is always, I think, by naturaleta, by nature, a man and a woman. I think it’s really, in my opinion, it has to be. I hope that you can do that.

JP: un-huh

Patrick: Because life would be so much more beautiful, that’s all. On the other hand, it’s not my business… [JP and Patrick laughs], it’s your business. I have to say eh, life with a woman is twice as valuable as a life without a woman because there are four eyes and the world is multiplied. Anyway, it’s not my business.

JP: [laughs]

Patrick: Wow! [Looking at the bottle of Scotch we’re drinking]

JP: [laughs] Yeah…I noticed the quantity there too…

Patrick: You are James’ son! [Jameson]

JP: Yes!

[laughter]

JP: Ahhh. Well hopefully you will sleep tonight.

Patrick: Well if I don’t,

JP: You’ll sleep tomorrow on the drive up!

Patrick: [laughs] Yeah, that’s right

JP: [laughs]

Patrick: If I fall asleep at the wheel—I’ve done it before—I did it twice, so I’ve… third time’s the charm.

JP: Don’t fall asleep.

Patrick: No, right.

JP: No, let me rephrase that, stay awake.

Patrick: Umm, yep

JP: And I’ll inject a penny into the [negativity] jar. [laughs] I don’t know when I started thinking about…

Patrick: Not using negatives?

JP: … trying to … You know I, there was, there was something or some… I don’t think it’s been that many years but I must have read something or considered something, I don’t know how it was, but maybe I was just thinking about verbs and I have been very negative about a lot of things and I need to stop that.

Patrick: But you don’t need to eh cram it down other peoples’ …

JP: Noooo, I know.

Patrick: I think it kind of becomes a little bit of a headache.

JP: It is, it is.

Patrick: I do the same, And Stephanie used to do it, but very gently. There’s a way of doing it…

JP: I’ve tried to start adopting a more positive outlook. I know I do it a lot with Christine and I think it’s partly because I have … for as long as we’ve know each other we’ve enjoyed each other’s company but it has always struck me as so… I guess I just wanted to share with my feeling that we need to make more positive things, just subconsciously.

Patrick: Yep.

JP: Maybe it’s something I picked up from Toastmasters too, I don’t know.

Patrick: Yeah, could be. But anyway, if you’re saying “Make it positive,” this is already a negative statement for Christine… what you’re doing is not fair… So, be careful.

JP: That’s true

Patrick: Yeah, anyway, it’s not my business, as I say. Did I tell you “It’s not myyyyyy business?” [laughter]

Patrick: I always say to my friends in Spain, Olvidé mi cremallera, “I forgot my zipper!”

[laughter]

Patrick: So, whenever you have the feeling of saying “I know more than you do by eh because you just said something you shouldn’t have said,” I always say “don’t.” It doesn’t contribute, but never mind, it’s not my business. [laughs] It is not my business. How do you say that positively? … “It’s only your business.”

JP: Yeah, that it. That’s right, this is your business. [laughs]

Patrick: This is your business [laughs].

Patrick: It’s been a good life.

King Leer

You do what you have to do to make a living….. Not one of Patrick’s proudest moments, but something more to add to the long list of things he did to get by. He wrote this in 2004.

I remember Deià when the village was a haven for pornographers.  A burgeoning nest of bohemian writers and painters soon becomes a honeycomb for dope dealers, Don Juans, and other hangers-on. Such was the case by the late sixties and seventies.

To cite a few examples: Michael was a pint-sized Manson type who used his sexual charisma to send his women off to Morocco to smuggle hash and kif into Mallorca; when one of these was busted and jailed, he fled his house down the Clot road, leaving quite a few ruffled birds in his wake.  Another dealer new to the village showed up one Sunday afternoon with a suitcase packed with slabs of dark brown hashish, but his buyer didn’t show, and he had to sell a key for a pittance to get back to Palma and off the island.  And more than one trafficker in acid had graced the village with their dreams; they shall remain nameless, though all residents know who they were. Continue reading “King Leer”

A Painting for Ivonne

A Painting for Ivonne

Conversation with Patrick about his few remaining paintings, and specifically the one he wanted to go to Ivonne. I started the recorder just after asking about the small painting of nine people.

Near the end of the recording we talk about a painting by Norman Yanikun. That painting is for sale to help defray the costs of Patrick’s burial and memorial expenses.

Here’s the transcription: Continue reading “A Painting for Ivonne”