Wake up at six thirty, listen to apartment mate make breakfast noises in the kitchen. Back to sleep. Seven fifteen, get up and make coffee. Apartment mate is in bathroom washing the crevices of her body. Imagine what they're like. Discard those thoughts, concentrate on hot beverage.
When she is dressed, she brings one of the small stuffed creatures over from her room to chastise my monkey. Apparently he's been saying all kinds of nasty things about the spider. He is a miscreant. Other creatures chime in, and quickly there's big-time furry uproar. She channels all the voices, I occasionally prompt the monkey and also the 'Froad' into saying something that will get them even further in trouble. They are not the most diplomatic of creatures. Usually an 'aura of menace' comes drifting over from my apartment mate's room after they've stated something particularly awful. The chief roomie (a teddy bear) who lives on that side of the apartment has VERY good ears. They have not realized this.
They're rather dense at times.
At eight fifteen, the apartment mate heads off to work, hollering "lock up after me
" as she goes. At eight twenty, windows in the kitchen, bathroom, and television room are wide open for ventilation, the door to her room is firmly shut, and I am contemplating which pipe tobacco to enjoy first. On this day it was the HH Matured Virginia by Mac Baren. The tin had been set aside five years ago unopened, it has aged very nicely. It proves intoxicating in the pipe I carved from a pre-drilled stummel.
Fragrant clouds of smoke rise as I enter the password on the computer and head into the news sites to see what further outrages have taken place in the sickening parts of the world.
Meiktila, rohingas, and rat-meat mutton in China.
Forty minutes later, I have finished reading the news as well as smoking the first pipe of the day. With my second cup of coffee and a mystery novel I head into the crapper.
Second pipe shortly after ten. I am clean now, and wish to envelope myself in a delicate perfume. So the super-old tin of Presbyterian Mixture (made by Planta in Berlin, formerly by William P. Solomon in Britain) will get attacked. Man this stuff is good! Though women mostly won't think it so. Too much stinky Turk. Between the dour Scots and the wicked Orientals, much degeneracy is born.
A pipe by Charatan. And a cup of tea.
The internet is telling me about food-related chemical compounds. The amount of carontenoids in fully ripened chilies is rather high, which accounts for the lovely fragrance of chiles secos from New Mexico and parts further south. Like raisins, or apricots, honeysuckle and nectarine. The heat level is unaffected, as that depends on capsaicin, the evidence of a hard life experienced by our little pepper pod.
For a good chile verde, you need a variety of fresh green chilies. This will yield a broad span of flavours when roasted and chopped. Nice pork chunks cooked with browned bone broth, only a little garlic, and enough green chilies on top to fully cover.
Pinches of salt, pepper, and cumin.
Simmered for two hours or more till the pork is tender and infused with the smoky green goodness. No tomatillos.
NO TOMATILLOS! Adding those things to the chile verde is not quite an abomination, but serves no purpose either.
It has been a long time since I made chile verde. The last time I brought it to a party it disappeared within minutes. It's a good dish for such events, as it is easy to make too much. Far too much. You could end up with a bucket.
After a small lunch-time snack (which wasn't chile verde), more tea, and another pipe. More reading. There are several reference books strewn around me, and I've got half a dozen screens open on the internet. The tobacco is one of my own mixtures, which I have given a name that references one of my favourite cigar smokers. A lean devilish-looking chap who often has the cutest Kermit the Frog expression on his face. That, probably, was the determining factor that made his wife fall for him.
A wise choice. They are a lovely couple.
Being inexplicably single, I am naturally quite jealous.
But in no way do I begrudge them.
At around tea-time I may head over to Chinatown. Just a snack, or dinner?
I'm not really hungry, but I do have to eat something. Perhaps bitter melon and fish over rice? Or choi yuen chau yiuk? I favour restaurants where the wait-staff is female, primarily because I feel better about myself if I have to mind my manners, and the food tastes sweeter that way.
But I might simply have a pastry and a cup of Hong Kong Style milk-tea instead. It is fun to listen to off-duty waiters and regular joes chatting at the coffee shop I often go to in C'town, even though not infrequently the conversations are in Toishanese instead of Cantonese. Closely related to the city language, Toishanese is still quite hard to understand. Sometimes it sounds almost Welsh. A breathy 'thl' (as in 'thliep mun') in lieu of the hard 's' (sap man), and some weird gliding vowels.
The soft-spoken gentleman who works the counter when his wife or sister isn't there attentively makes an excellent cup of milk-tea. She doesn't bother. It's not that she is stubborn, she just doesn't get the concept.
Besides, it would take too long, and that newspaper article is calling her.
What happened? What happened? Ooh, a delicious disaster!
And bland denials from a party official.
No wonder everyone rioted!
I can tell she's reading about rat-meat mutton in China. Last week it was dead ducks, and before that vast rafts of pig-cadavers in the Huangpu.
[Please note: Real lamb meat (真羊肉) has fatty streaking interspersed clearly throughout the flesh, whereas fake lamb meat (假羊肉) shows the 'fat' as distinctly segragated areas wich are sandwiched-in as bands or chunks, with scant streakiness and abrupt termination to the red part. The real stuff has a natural coherence, whereas the fake 'food' separates easily into unconnected fat (lard) and lean. Rat (and other creatures) make it seem 'mutton-like'.]
With a pipe-full of rubbed flake I might head over to Washington Square today to daydream on the streetside of the fence (smokers are not allowed in parks anymore), while listening to old men excitedly comment on the outcome of chess.
Yes, some of them have a dollar or two riding on the victory, but it's mostly a social thing. Playing or observing a game gives them a set structure for socializing, without the need to be formal or actually even social. They see fellow villagers, faces that remind them of somewhere else, a different time.
There's a bookstore nearby which has a good selection of reference books in Chinese, as well as cheap paperback novels. Across the street a place sells Hong Kong Style milk-tea to go. Two blocks further down, in the Financial District near the pyramid, is a quiet alleyway at Washington.
There's a bench there where you can read while hearing crows in the redwoods of Trans-America Park.
Down where Clay hits Drumm and the Muni buses wait before turning the corner and heading back up the hill, small green conures are quarreling in the tall trees. They can be heard over a block away. It must by nice to work in the offices of Embarcadero Center Number Three. You're talking on the phone with someone in Minnesota or Idaho, and they ask "what's that racket in the background?"
"Oh, just the parrots."
You can sense the envy in their startled silence.
How pleasant to be in San Francisco.
Instead of Minnesota.
I could walk home, or take the bus. At that hour there are lots of grumpy law-office types obstreperously blocking aisles and insisting on 'their space g'dammit theirs' on public transit. They very nearly cheer when the crowded conveyance rockets past tired people at the Chinatown stops who have waited so long, so long. Hah! No need to let those people board, they aren't as important as we well dressed important folks!
I'll casually brush against the red button on the pole near the back door, so that the bus will stop at Kearny and Sacramento anyway. Schadenfreude is a talent, and a way of life. The palpable frustration as "those people" get on and make the bus even more claustrophobic is intensely enjoyable.
The world is your crumple zone.
Please just remember that.
It's a steep hill.
The day will usually end with much more reading, and a few more pipes. If my apartment mate is visiting her boy friend, it's quiet till about ten o'clock. If not, I'll read a bit in my own room and occasionally wander around the neighborhood.
When she's on the phone with him is also a good time to take a walk.
A long one, with a bowlful of heavy Latakia.
At times I imagine what it would be like to have a girl friend once more.
I haven't kissed anybody in a long time. A pipe can be both a substitute, and a preventative, for emotional involvement. Not quite reasonably so.
As a middle-aged man I shouldn't expect to ever have a love life again.
But with a bit of luck, I'll enjoy my pipes forever.
No one really objects to smelly old badgers.
They'll just stay several yards away.
Today's adults seldom smoke.
They're too delicate.
I shan't call such fastidious individuals "refined", as I've seen them drunkenly misbehaving on Polk Street, and they've all got tattoos. Skin-art and intoxication are absolute paradigms of vulgar exhibit.
How odd that their little noses wrinkle so.
Nevertheless, tobacco offends.
Life is good. Despite a sense of middle-aged otherness.
Smelly, comfortable, filled with snacks.
And there's lots to read.
Around mid-night, I'll re-visit the internet. The apartment is quiet, her door is shut, and I can get away with a mellow aged Virginia in the pipe, most especially during the allergy season. Which is eight months or more out of the year. Her bad sense of smell is still a blessing.
I often wonder if there are others equally 'gifted'.
Women with cute ineffective noses.
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