Category Archives: Current Activities

Let it Be

Let it Be.  “When in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, let it  be.”  Lennon-McCartney.   

I recently experienced a minor time of trouble.  Call it depression, a post-retreat counterattack, call it what you will, I was not in a good place for a while.  All my old bad habits and thoughts came roaring back.  Usually I keep that stuff at bay with prayer and meditation.  In the past I used alcohol and marijuana, but they only postpone things. 

During the bad period my meditations were all about the unhealthy stuff and I did not pray.  A spiral into depression ensued.  I have enough things to do in my daily life to keep myself from slipping into a major depression.  I just don’t have the time.  In a major depression all I want to do is lie in bed or the bathtub. 

This go-round I watched a lot of car, motorcycle, and airplane crashes on You Tube.  I also watched a lot of the violence scenes from Sons of Anarchy and boxing knockouts.   Fun, huh? 

The weekend went pretty well, we went to a good modern dance concert after dinner Friday evening, did some gardening Saturday, and the Sunday Insight Meditation dharma talk was a good one.  

Monday morning I woke up to a new world.  I felt good, the weather was fine, and I found myself praying and my meditations went where they should.  Why the change?  I have no idea. Maybe my meditation and prayer practice is working.  I am again able to let it be. 

I tend to have some obsessive thoughts about sex or violence. They arise, and if I pray a short prayer, they pass away.  Over time, they have diminished a great deal.  However, during my down periods, they come roaring back.  If I entertain them at all, they stick around.  A sort of feedback loop is generated.  The thought arises, I entertain it, it gets stronger, and I slip into unwise actions.  

What to do when the thought arises?  Let it be.  It, like all phenomena, will pass away.  Prayer helps.  I know people who hold on to unhealthy thinking most of the time.  They suffer.  The more they suffer, the more the unhealthy thinking stays with them.   

To live like this is a decision.  Unhealthy thoughts may arise from the labyrinth of the brain, but holding on to them is a choice.  The choice is self-reinforcing, so breaking the habit is tough.  We can, however, choose to break the pattern.  Not all days are bad days, even for someone in the depths of depression.  We have opportunities to break out. Almost everyone has opportunities to end their suffering.  Still, at times, the choice is to suffer. 

Sherlock

Sherlock and Watson

Two years ago I wrote about The Buckner Banner.  I rode the USNS Simone Bolivar Buckner to Germany and home two years later.  For some reason known only to the military gods, I was chosen to edit the ship’s newspaper, The Buckner Banner, although I was a lowly private.  It was great fun, and our nine issues were a big hit because we serialized a Sherlock Holmes novel.

There were civilians aboard, military dependents, and lots of troops in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean for nine days with little to do.  The Banner was printed on a worn-out mimeograph machine, and the result was lots of gaps and unreadable copy in the paper.  Passengers got involved in the story and had great fun trading issues back and forth to be able to read each installment.

I got lots of compliments, and had the run of the ship as newspaper editor.   Strangely I have never read Arthur Conan Doyle’s works until now.  Sherlock is one of the best-known fictional characters in English.  He is probably better known today than in the Victorian era because of movies and television.  Basil Rathbone starred in seventeen Sherlock movies.  Robert Downey Jr. starred in a movie, and there are two current TV shows, Elementary, set in New York and starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu (Dr. Watson a woman!); enjoying a five year run, and Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, also with a long run with just a few episodes each year.  At least 99 actors have played Sherlock.

We are steeped in Sherlock Holmes.  Barnes and Noble has a two volume edition of Doyle’s Sherlock stories, and I am well into Volume One.  The story I just finished is set in London and Brigham Young’s Utah.  The Mormons had a lot of bad press in Doyle’s era, what with polygamy and Brigham’s Theocracy.  The story reflects that bias, featuring three murders.

Doyle gives the Saints a bad rap, but a lot of their infamous deeds were a response to the persecution the saints endured in Missouri and Illinois, which led to their trek west.  2017 is not the only time people in America have faced religious discrimination; hate directed against Jews, Catholics, and Mormons for starters.

This was part of Doyle’s appeal.  He made the events of the Victorian era come alive for his readers then. They come alive for us now, here in a land of Anglophiles.  I am going to have a lot of fun with Sherlock, Watson, and company.

Winter Blues

Winter

As I sit here in the coffee shop it is a gray January day with a light rain falling, promising to turn to snow.  This is an accurate metaphor for my mood of late.  I’m prone to depression, get treatment for it, but this is probably Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  I haven’t been able to do much writing, and what I have written I haven’t posted.  This is unusual. My goal is to put something up every week and I haven’t come close.   

I used to have two of those lights which are supposed to help, but I gave one away and the other is over the bathtub I haven’t been able to use lately.  Why no baths?  Leaks.  The upstairs bathroom sink cold water faucet started leaking as well. 

For me, things happening around me are often related to the state of my psyche.  Water is also a symbol of the unconscious mind, and leaks are about something important trying to come to consciousness.  I am engaged in a struggle to keep things buried.  Thus, leaks I am slow in fixing, and gloom leading to inaction.  It’s easy to guess how my meditation practice is going.  

My meditations are supposed to have the goal of being totally in the moment-no thinking about the pas, the future, or Donald Trump.  I can stay with just observing my breath for maybe five seconds.  I usually am able to stay with my breath or a prayer for several minutes before drifting off to be with Dorothy and Toto.  I come back to the breath, stay there a while and drift off again.  Currently, I obsess.   

I think the real issue for me is aging.  I am 74 years old. Lifting a fifty pound sack of ice melt salt is hard.  I used to throw fifty pound sacks around.  I cannot go above the second step on the ladder for fear of falling off.  I sometimes cheat and go to the third step, no higher.  My balance is not very good.  I have stayed at the same weight for some time but the muscles are shrinking and the belly is growing.   

I forget stuff.  I have always been somewhat forgetful, an ADD-ADHD symptom, but it’s worse lately.  I am going to have to go back to writing reminders down, a habit I have slipped away from.  I also head downstairs to do something, do two or three other things and head upstairs with the task not done. At least I get some exercise going up and down the stairs all day.

I know this too will pass, but I am tired of waiting

 

 

Declining and Arising

The Quarter Moon

The Quarter Moon

A few years ago Carol, my wife, her sister Judi, and I wrote a blog about caregiving for aging parents.  The aging parents are gone and so is the blog, but one piece I wrote sticks with me.  Watching the decline.  I wrote the piece about Frank, Carol’s and Judi’s dad who went into a serious decline in his ’90s.   

Frank is gone, so now I am watching my own decline.  I had it come home to me when I forgot where I parked the car in downtown Minneapolis and spent three hours searching for the damn thing. By the time I found it I was tired, relieved, and a bit ashamed.  Not finding the car has always been a problem for me, a function of my ADD.  I keep a little yellow ball on the radio antenna of my pickup so I can see it in the parking lot.  Losing the car for three hours is a new one, however.  Yes, I have a GPS in my cell phone. 

Losing the car is only one symptom.  My knee, wrist, shoulder, and back hurt.  I fall down.  I can’t remember names.  Carol and I make a plan every week, and I forget what I am supposed to do.  I go downstairs to get something, do three other things and end up back upstairs without what I went for.  Three times. 

I will be 74 in October.  What do I have left?  Ten, maybe fifteen years?  Aging is reality for me.  Usually I take these things in stride.  After all what is important is the moment, which is almost always pretty good.  The trip to Minneapolis threw me into something of a funk.  I got scared when I couldn’t find the car.  I went to help my brother-in-law, who is facing some aging issues as well.  I still haven’t recovered from the trip. 

My life is good.  We have a nice home and garden, good things to do, travel some, and have fun together.  I can write, which I was unable to do until the last few years after getting diagnosed and treated for ADD.  I have gone places and done things.  I can ( http://www.insightmeditation.org/ )meditate which I could not do for most of my life.  I have found an important role as family caregiver. Caregiving is especially meaningful because it didn’t exist in my family. 

The meditation has opened up a spiritual life I have sought since I first asked “Why?”.  I now  know the answer: Because.  The secret to because is becoming.  The sun is up every morning.  The birds sing, even if I have trouble hearing them.  The new in my life outweighs the difficulties.      Most of the time.  I get myself in trouble when I stare at that unknowable wall out there.  If I stay where I belong, here and now, I’m fine.  Events, however, sometimes present that wall-my brief time on this world and in this body.  I’ll get through it.  Writing this has already helped.

Minneapolis Road Trip

Corn and Soybeans

Corn and Soybeans

I am back from a road trip to Minneapolis on family business. I will tell the family story later, this is about the road. People say I am a bit weird. I like road trips and enjoy not listening to anything but the sound of Diesel engines as I pass the trucks. I watch, listen, and as much as possible these days, think.

This time I was in a hurry to get there, so it was I-76, I-80, and I-35 to Minneapolis. I have done I-80 for you, and I-35 is more of the same-corn and soybeans. Some of the time it is soybeans and corn. The highway through Dezz Monezz is a bit dodgy, lots of turns and traffic.

The return trip a week later was more fun. I have known various people from Mankato over the years, but had never been there. I have always liked the name. The Native Americans were screwed in southern Minnesota more than many other places, being hauled off to Fort Snelling and imprisoned. We need to keep the memory of what happened to those people, here in the land of the free.

The drive from Minneapolis (I like writing that word, much better than MPLS.) to Mankato follows the Minnesota River for much of the way. The country is hilly and wooded, with farms on every available flat spot. Beautiful. Those of us from the West are a bit snobby about the Midwest, but there is beauty most everywhere you look. Except for the monotonous corn and soybeans. That country must be spectacular in the fall.

Close to Minneapolis, the Minnesota River is navigable. I like seeing ports in the middle of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine,_Nebraskathe country. West of Mankato, one finds corn and soybeans. My next goal was the Nebraska Sand Hill country and the Niobrara River. I followed the River from Niobrara to Valentine. It is farm country, but that River is always right over there.

Niobrara River

Niobrara River

The River is a national treasure. Designated a Wild and Scenic River, it winds through hilly country and is bordered by woodlands. There aren’t many people in that area, another benefit. One can get a sense of what it must have been like before the European Invasion. I am sure it was better then than it is now.

Valentine has 2700 people, but is the commercial center for a wide area. It goes on my list of nice small towns. There are several River outfitters based around there for people doing canoe trips on the Niobrara. I still want to do that in the next few years before I am too decrepit for that sort of thing.

 

The Sand Hills

The Sand Hills

The Sand Hills. So beautiful I almost ran off the road while taking it all in. It is truly hilly there. The northern Sand Hills get quite a bit of moisture and there is water. Like western South Dakota there is a sense of space. You are in the West, not the corn and soybean Midwest. Do I seem a bit biased?

Cow country. U.S. Highway 83 from Valentine to North Platte is 115 miles of ranch country. Thedford is 58 miles south of Valentine with no towns. There is a school about halfway. There are ranches all along the way, every mile or half mile or so, and lakes. There is a national wildlife refuge there. Sandhill Cranes and a lot of other wildlife. No antelope. There should be, but there are probably too many fences.
As you drive south it dries out. In late August it is green around Valentine, but fairly brown closer to North Platte. We are talking about a huge area of northwest Nebraska, and as good cattle country as anywhere. We should be eating grass fed beef from there rather than corn fed feedlot beef from along the Platte. There would be less corn across the Midwest.

The wind blows out there. I saw five or six huge wind farms making power in Nebraska. There was one in southwest Minnesota. I saw none in South Dakota or Colorado. The sun doesn’t always shine out there, but the wind almost always blows, even at night. All that wind from Wyoming has to go somewhere. I saw a number of trucks hauling those long wind vanes, so the wind power business is growing. Wind makes more sense than solar in more northern parts of the country. Home rooftop solar is good, you can’t have too many wind turbines in town. More wind power, less coal trains rattling through Alliance.

Back in Colorado, along the South Platte, there is lots of history. Gold rush wagon trains, Indian wars, farming and cattle. One of the small towns is Iliff, named for an early rancher who got rich raising beef for the miners. He was another of those Methodists who had a big role in early Colorado. Evans, Chivington. Iliff founded the Methodist seminary at Denver University.

I have to get out to Julesburg and poke around the history there then go up to Scotts Bluff on the North Platte, with a stop at Fort Laramie on the way home. Another road trip.

Changes

Equanimity2I retired five years ago.  I waited until I was 68 to pile up some more retirement benefits.  I also waited because I was scared of retiring.  When I retired I took two part time jobs which soon went to one.  I felt like I had to work.  That lasted four years.  Now, I am truly retired.  (Funny thing, I wrote tired instead of retired.).  

Another reason I retired from my career in water treatment was noticing I just was not as sharp as I used to be.  I have always been fairly sharp, except for the ADD brain lapses I have always lived with.  The lapses were more frequent.  One of my part time jobs required constant focus.  Not good.  The other one was working with elementary school kids, and meant unremitting joy.  I gave that job up because I didn’t want to work so many hours, and my bad back was complaining. 

Now my back still complains, but I can pace myself more and take a time out if I need to.  Right now it’s my upper back hurting after yoga and shoveling a pickup load of wood chips.  Today I am going for a walk where it is flat. 

About those lapses.  All older people complain about them.  The other day I made four trips to the basement to get something and never did come up with it.  Yesterday I was in the grocery store and upset because I forgot the list.  When I got home without some things on the list I found it in my pocket.   

Well, there is a reason for this.  As we age, our brains tend to shift from the executive function-running things- to inner processes.  It is certainly true for me.  I want to write, read, meditate, and enjoy happy entertainment.  There is a huge obstacle right now.  Politics.   

Prayer

Prayer

It’s hard to hold on to my equanimity these days.  Usually I deal with negativity by praying for the people creating the mood.  I have even prayed for Newt Gingrich.  I have yet to be able to pray for His Yellowness.  Praying for people doesn’t necessarily change them, although sometimes it does, but it does change me.  The changes I experience make me more able to live with myself.  I am even less of a jackass on the road. 

I have more peace.  My body doesn’t work as well as it used to, but I think my mind may be getting to a place where I can actually experience the inner connectedness of all life.  I can find joy in anyone.  Well, most everyone.  I also have trouble feeling connected with the Japanese Beetles who want to eat stuff in our garden.  I can’t go above the second step on the ladder because I tend to fall off.  Some of the evil critters get away because I can’t get high enough. 

On balance, aging isn’t so bad.  I have lived a life of constant stress from trying to be normal when I am not.  Now, I get to embrace being weird and getting weirder, and love life.  Mostly. 

I will know I am really on the right track when I can pray for THEM.

Those Damn Cars

Tacoma. Mine has lots of brush scrapes on the sides.

Tacoma. Mine has lots of brush scrapes on the sides.

Living in the USA almost always means having cars.  It is possible to do without, but difficult except in New York, Boston, and San Francisco.  I was eighteen when I got my first car, a 1957 Ford.  I have lost count of how many since 1961.  I have had sedans, a panel truck, 2wd pickups, 4×4 pickups, SUV’s,  and sports cars.  I have also crashed a few.  It’s a combination of ADD and poor eye-hand coordination responsible for the crashes.  I was even in one crash that wasn’t my fault. 

My favorites?  Pickups and sports cars, sort of on opposite ends of the automotive spectrum.  I learned how to drive in a pickup, and their versatility appeals to me.  Lately, the pickups have been four wheel drive so I can risk my life on really bad mountain and desert roads.  Currently my four wheeler is a Toyota Tacoma.  It is just went in to get its rear springs replaced.  That is the third recall. 

Matrix

Matrix

Carol’s car is a Toyota Matrix, sort of a mini SUV.  It has had recalls as well, those Takata airbags that throw shrapnel.  I still like Toyotas.  They are reliable and are for the most part well thought out.  We have friends with Priuses, but I am still not sure. 

We have another resident in the garage.  It is a 2006 BMW 325i four door sedan.  Don’t be fooled, the thing is a sports car with four doors.  Power, handling, looks, and some snobbery.

That thing is fun.  I turn corners without slowing down.  It just turns, no squeal, no big deal.  The steering varies with speed.  At slow speeds, it hardly takes any turns to corner.  At higher speeds, you have to give the steering wheel more input. 

BMW 325i

BMW 325i

The BMW is fast.  I don’t have any comparison with, say, a Mustang, but it goes when you mash down.  To me, it has just enough power.  Passing those RV’s in the mountains is no problem at all.  Speeding up or slowing down to change lanes, zip.  I have never spun the tires to show off. 

It is helpless in the snow.  It has traction control, but no help.  The tires are wide, the car is low, and it just sits there and spins those rear wheels.  The BMW’s with an X in their model name have all wheel drive.  Carol’s daughter didn’t need AWD in Silicon Valley, where she bought the car. 

The thing is automated.  Everything is programmable, even the rear view mirrors.  There are buttons everywhere and a digital interface controlled by a knob you turn to scroll through options.  I think I can operate about ten percent of the stuff.  I keep telling myself to get out there with the owners manual and learn, but I haven’t done it in seven months. 

BMW’s cost too much, they are expensive to fix, not very roomy, and so much fun to drive.  We don’t need three cars.  We could probably be fine with one.  I don’t know what we are going to do.  we will probably sell the Matrix and the BMW and get Carol a cool AWD car.

The Summer Of Our Discontent

What a time!  It’s hot about two weeks early for this area.  I got a replacement toolbox for my Toyota Tacoma’s toolbox.  The old one failed because I haul so much stuff around.  Fortunately it had a lifetime guarantee.  We seem to be spending entirely too much time in doctor’s offices; me getting pre-cancerous patches frozen on my head, Carol with eye trouble, and her son with a broken wrist and atrial fibrillation.

On the positive side, our garden is looking great, no hail this year so far.   We are going to have a big raspberry crop, the flowers are beautiful, and all the veggies are growing away.  Things seem to be going fairly well for an old couple.

There is tragedy in the land.  Murdering large groups of innocent people just trying to have a good time is terrible.  There has to be some means in place to restrict weapons solely designed for killing large numbers of people.

Donald Trump Addresses GOP Lincoln Day Event In MichiganThe reason I am writing this, however, is about the current political situation.  The U.S. Has a long tradition of sending poorly qualified people to the White House, but this is getting ridiculous. This guy the Republicans have chosen to run has managed to combine all the worst qualities of American politicians in one outrageous package.  The man has no qualifications to lead the nation in any direction other than backward, and possibly into chaos.  Just his hair should be a cue.  What are those people thinking?

I understand the discontent.  A lot of people are not liberal and want leadership addressing their problems.  Stagnant wages, a lack of good skilled industrial jobs, and rapid change rather than a safe, stable, comfortable life like Ward, June, Wally, and the Beav lived.  They forget that the Cleavers didn’t exist, they were just a TV show.

They sit in front of the TV watching pretty people having a crisis which always has a happy ending.  Their lives aren’t so happy, and they are angry about it.  So here comes a TV show host who says he can fix everything.  He will get rid of “those people”, give them good jobs, make the country safe, and put steak on the plate and a nice diesel Super Duty pickup in every driveway.  If there is trouble, the Marines can stop it.  The country will regress or else.

The mainstream Republican approach is to make rich people richer, take away benefits, and cut schools, highways, parks, sell the government land off. and send their sons off to endless wars.  Congress is paralyzed.  That plan has run its course.  The only reason it worked at all is the rich ones spent lots of money fooling people and buying politicians.

The result is Donald Trump.  He says he can fix it.  Well, no.  The man seems to have no idea how our government works.  He thinks he can issue commands on impulse and get an immediate response, whether his commands are legal or not.  The only things he really wants are adulation and a chance to get rid of those who ask the wrong questions.

Hillary has done a lot of things well, but she has a past.  Trump will sling as much dirt as he can, hoping enough will stick to her to get him elected.  It worked with the primaries,  let’s hope it won’t work for the Big One.

Knees and Such

Arthritis

Arthritis

Old age happens if things go as planned.  Inside, I feel like the Bill I always have, but the case is starting to wear out.  I get together with my buddy Dan, and we always devote some time to catching up with our health care issues.  I went to the Orthopod this week, got a cortisone shot in my left knee (the other knee is Titanium).  Didn’t do much good.   

Every time Dan plays pickleball (I know, just look it up.), he limps.  He has a bad ticker, I have a bad brain.  I spend time at the VA audiology clinic dealing with hearing aids.  I saw the ENT specialist there about my balance problem that may be from damage to the vestibular nerve that was damaged from the loud noises responsible for my hearing loss.   

Vestibulocochlear Nerve Anatomy

Vestibulocochlear Nerve Anatomy

I itch.  For most of my life I was allergy free.  No more.  There is always something setting my eczema off along with the stuffy nose.  I have almost no sense of smell left.  Springtime is wonderful except for the pollen.  Fall is wonderful except for the pollen.   

I ache.  The knee, my wrist, both shoulders, and my back.  I think all this is a sign of old age.  Most of the time all these symptoms don’t interfere with my life.  I just soldier along not letting all the stuff get to me.  After all, it is just pain and will change tomorrow.  I can usually let it all go.  Yesterday, however, my knee hurt when it was straight.  It also hurt when it was bent.  Today it just barely hurts. 

The trick for me is to not let the pain go to suffering.  After all, we can’t do much about the pain, but suffering about it is a choice.  All this stuff is a reminder about death.  It’s clear by no that I am in the last third of my life, sitting in a coffee shop full of people in the first third of their lives. 

The good thing about getting older is that I know a lot of stuff.  I like thinking and writing about all that stuff.  For example, I am about to make you yawn as you read about the Golden Fault.  There is something for you to look forward to.  In the meantime, health issues. 

Carol has a chronic illness that limits her life, but the last year has been a bad one.  Late last spring she had cataract surgery that went bad.  The little sac the lens lives in tore, so the new lens had to go between her iris and cornea.  She got a little hole poked in her iris to let fluid move around.  The hole is too big, letting in too much light where it doesn’t belong, leading to lots of vision problems.   

Cataract Surgery

Cataract Surgery

She also had five stitches in her cornea, which meant pain for weeks.  Now, with a new Ophthalmologist, she is wearing a tinted contact lens to confirm the hole in her iris is too large.  The lens works, but she is not a contact lens candidate.  More discomfort.  The next step is a minor surgical! procedure to make the hole smaller. 

In the middle of all this, with all the multiple visits to eye doctors, she had hemorrhoid surgery.  It was her last resort and believe me, it should be a last resort.  Pain, lots of it, and a major restriction on activity.  What a year. 

But, through it all, life is good.  We have fun, cooking, snuggling, reading aloud, gardening, fixing the garage where I drove into it (I am always  on her case about her driving.).  And, we are watching NCIS from the first season on.  There is something about murder mysteries that pulls us, and the character development is as good as it was in Seinfeld.  We still call Mark Harmon Dickie, from a role he had as a detective years ago.  The name seems to fit him. 

Aging, health issues, losing old friends, all this comes when you are in your seventies, but life goes,on, and we are wise and skilled at enjoying life.  In addition, we just found out that Carol’s sister, diagnosed with stage four cancer, is now cancer free after an ordeal with treatment.  She had multiple tumors, and they are gone.

Food, Mostly Hot Pot

Ramen Bowls

Ramen Bowls

Carol is allergic to any food containing cow dairy products.  It is like she has been poisoned.  With my ADD, foods containing gluten tend to make me irritable, as gluten is a precursor for glutamine, a neurotransmitter ADD’s have too much of.  It is always a bit of an adventure when we go to a restaurant.

The upshot is we are fairly aware of the dietary requirements many people have these days.  Entertaining is a challenge, preparing vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, dairy free, organic, free range, sugar free, low salt, on and on.  Maybe hosts should just serve organic oatmeal with rice milk and be done with it.

Carol belongs to a cookbook book club at the library.  That means interesting and sometimes weird food and cooking techniques.  Currently we are engaged in a ramen quest.  Previously we had never been to a ramen restaurant.   So far every one has been an adventure, with different ingredients and sauces.  Denver is such a great town for exploring cuisines.  By the way, the ramen is only distantly related to those ramen packets you ate in your impoverished youth.

Japanese Hot Pot

Japanese Hot Pot

I like ramen so much we acquired a Japanese Hot Pot to do ramen and other hot pot dishes at home.  Years ago I liked to cook Mongolian Hot Pot meals for friends.  The Mongolian hot pot for heating the broth was a charcoal burner, and I always worried about carbon monoxide.  Our new hot pot is electric, not exactly traditional, but safe and controllable.  I am just learning what to do.  The pot has a divider in it, so it an heat two kinds of broth.

When we think of Japanese food it is usually sushi or teriyaki.  Typical Japanese at home food is usually from the hot pot.  Broth, vegetables, noodles or rice, maybe some meat, and family.  The broth is either a simple meat broth or dried seaweed with some dashi for umami.

 

 

Two Dishes, One Pot

Two Dishes, One Pot

I have cooked two meals so far with the hot pot.  Both went pretty well.  We have two cookbooks, but they aren’t really necessary.  You heat some broth, throw your veggies, meat, tofu, mushrooms, dumplings, and anything else in the pot, let it cook, and fish it out with the little baskets on a handle that come with the pot.

You have two choices for the noodles.  Cook them separately and put the stuff  from the pot on then and eat, or cook them in the broth after you are finished with the meat and veggies and have noodle soup for the last course.  The kind of noodle is up to you. Ramen, or any other variety is fine.  Wheat, rice, buckwheat, or corn noodles are fine. You can also put your stuff on cooked rice, preferably short grain sticky rice so you can use chopsticks.

Have condiments on the side.  Condiments can be soy sauce, hot mustard, wasabi, srirachi sauce, or anything else.  I get the sense that every Japanese household has its own way of doing hot pot.  It is a fun way to eat, and keeps you at the table instead of in front of the TV.

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