Ashes to Ashes (A Progressive Wake)

Today is my 59th birthday. Happy Birthday to me. Last Saturday, I attended a funeral. It’s getting a little close to home.

The only way for me to deal with death is to laugh. I hate death. I hate sadness. I don’t like crying. I don’t like being in a room with lots of sad people. So, I want to prevent that at my funeral.

Now, some may say it’s unlikely there will be much sadness at my funeral, but I’m trying to be optimistic.

I don’t want a preacher with a couple of readings and a generic homily with my name stuck in a few places.

I don’t want a “Celebration of Life” since that just means “boring-ass funeral.”

So, I want my services to be fun (or at least different.)

One of the interesting (or bizarre) aspects of cremation is that the ashes don’t have to end up in only one container. More than one of the bereaved can receive a portion of the deceased as a memento (“souvenir” seemed crass.) For an extra fee, you can have ashes sealed in a locket, so you can match your relatives to your outfit.

This has been discussed twice now, coincidentally at two different Italian funerals. This is why so many Churches in Italy have so many pieces of so many Saints. Divide and conquer.

I am planning to be cremated when my time comes, and hopefully not before. Since I am not a small person, there may be an excess of ashes. So, this is my last request, which my wife predictably refuses to honor.

Wait for my wife to be acquitted of my murder on grounds of temporary (or permanent) insanity.

Cremate me. First, put some microwave popcorn in my pockets so I have a snack while crossing the River Styx, then cremate me.

Divide my ashes into ten urns. There aren’t ten people who care enough to want a piece of me – again, see the Italians: “You wanna piece of me?” – but they’re not for people, they’re for pubs. They’re the stops on my progressive wake. A progressive wake is a pub crawl to the Hereafter.

Mark the urns:

  1. Trinity Hall
  2. Dubliner
  3. The Ginger Man
  4. The Old Monk
  5. Adair’s Saloon
  6. Lakewood Landing
  7. Meddlesome Moth
  8. Hillside Tavern
  9. The Londoner
  10. Flying Saucer

Deliver each urn to the appropriate pub. (I didn’t choose any outside the Metroplex or on a cruise ship, so this should be doable on an afternoon.) The delivery person might want to wrap the urn in a box and address to me, with a good tip to the bartender and a promise that it will be picked up quickly. This would probably be more acceptable than to ask, “Can we leave a small jar of dead guy here for a few hours?”

Now, you (my mourners) are ready to hold the progressive wake.

At my memorial service, hand each of the five or six people that show up a map with all the pubs marked. You could also show them the map at the bottom of this discussion, or give them a link to this page.

Call an Uber or two for the participants (don’t drink and drive!)

  • Visit a listed pub.
  • Bonus points for calling “Bring out your dead!” as you enter.
  • Drink the suggested drink (see the map) – or whatever, it’s not like I’m there to judge. (Well, part of me is there, but I won’t judge.)
  • Tell an amusing story about me. After a few drinks, just make something up.
  • Collect the urn.
  • Tip the bartender.
  • Repeat.

Once all the pubs are visited and all the urns collected, return to the memorial service. Apologize to the hosts from the funeral home for the slight delay.

Record any eulogies that are given. If the participants followed the spirit(s) of the Progressive Wake, they may be good blackmail material or at least they will be funny.

Dump all the little urns into one big-ass urn. Have someone with allergies do this, so there will be some tears at the service, after all.

Bury me none on the lone prairie.

Progressive Wake

Frankenstein Ribs

So, I have an Instant Pot and an injured wife, so I’m on cooking duty. Luckily, there are hundreds of experts on YouTube and Facebook to help you learn to use it.

The YouTube cooking videos are my new obsession – replacing “pier runners.” The great thing about YouTube is there is no filter – anyone can be an expert on anything. Just call your channel “Best” or “Greatest” whatever you do.

We had four pounds of beef short ribs, so I decided to make them. There are lots of videos about making ribs in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot. Most are pretty similar. One did a dry rub. (Shouldn’t they all do this?) One browned the ribs first. (Shouldn’t they all do this?) A couple finished the ribs off in the oven. (Shouldn’t they all do this?)

So, these are Frankenstein Ribs because my recipe is parts of a bunch of people’s recipes. Also, since Italians taught me to cook, I have no idea how much of most of the stuff I used, which is going to make tracking this in My Fitness Pal interesting. In Italian, I used “enough” of many of the ingredients.

I also realized I should have taken better notes.

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs short ribs
  • Grub Rub
  • Garlic Powder
  • One can Cherry Dr Pepper
  • Soy Sauce
  • One medium onion
  • Vegetable oil
  • BBQ Sauce

Preparation (Dry Rub)

  • Liberally sprinkle Grub Rub and garlic powder all over Ribs
  • Let sit 25 minutes

Brown Ribs

  • Set Instant Pot to Sauté mode
  • Heat “enough” vegetable oil
  • Brown Ribs on all sides
  • Remove to platter

(Think “Wow. That oil looks lonely.”)

Aromatics On The Fly

  • Chop one medium onion
  • Think “Wish I wasn’t too lazy to put some garlic in there.”
  • Sauté until translucent
  • Deglaze with sauce (see below)

Turn off Instant Pot.

Place steaming rack in pot (the rack used for steaming, not a literally steaming rack.)

Sauce:

  • 1 can Cherry Dr Pepper
  • “Enough” Soy sauce to make 2 cups liquid

Cooking the Ribs

Place ribs on steaming rack.

Set Instant Pot using the Meat setting – 45 minutes.

When cooking completes, use Quick Release to depressurize pot .

Remove ribs to foil-wrapped pan.

Realize you don’t have any BBQ sauce.

Homemade BBQ Sauce (Bonus Recipe in a Recipe)

  • Put “enough” ketchup in a small dish.
  • Add soy sauce.
  • Add Worcestershire sauce.
  • Add a couple drops hot sauce.
  • Repeat until it tastes like BBQ sauce.
  • Realize you now have a crap ton of BBQ sauce.

Glaze ribs with BBQ sauce.

Broil until the ribs look done, the sauce is caramelized or your spouse asks what’s taking so long.

Serve.

Makes 4 servings.

NaPoWriMo

It’s April! Time to start writing poetry! Every year, I try to accomplish the goal of NaPoWriMo – write one poem a day for a month. This year, I actually have a couple of days head start, because this week has been fruitful.

It’s interesting trying to write on a regular schedule with a self-imposed deadline (I was going to post here daily – haha!) but poetry can be much easier than prose, because all you need is one line (“I am an Irish Pirate, I drink Guinness every night”), and then you work around it. With prose, you have to have a (relatively) coherent thought, which is much more difficult.

So, I think this is year three for me (have to go back and check.) I won’t be on a ship during the month this year, so there should be much fewer works about the sea.

Two down, twenty-eight to go!

 

True Blues

I listen to KNON a lot. Partially, because I’m the President of the Board of Directors and mostly because I like the music we play (pledge drive coming up in May – get your online pledges in early!) In fact, I’m President because I like what we play.

So, when I was coming home from my check-up this morning, I had KNON on the radio. Gregg Smith’s Blues Review, to be specific. (Every Friday, nine until noon. Heeeey.)

We play a lot of blues, and the longer you listen, the more you realize pretty much all blues is about sex, unless someone just died in the song. I was listening to someone moaning about not riding in his girl’s automobile this morning and after a couple of verses, I realized “He’s not really talking about her car.” Well, duh.

I’m sitting at a stop light, and I had just had this realization, and I thought “Blues artists can make anything into a sexual euphemism.”

There’s a basic blues premise “I don’t want to be your ——–, baby.” where the blank turns out to be the song’s specific euphemism for some sexual organ. That’s when I heard “I don’t want to be your pastrami, baby” in my head (yes, I probably should see someone about that.)

Then, a flash. Who’s ever written a blues song about a deli?

I thought, “There would have to be a verse about pastrami and rye bread. What else? A pickle. How could a pickle sound dirty?”

I know you love dill pickles.
But don’t you grab my pickle spear.
My woman said that ain’t kosher,
You better not come ’round here.

That came to me almost as it was written. Same with the verse about pastrami. Other than not being able to find a rhyme for “rugelach” or “knish”, the song almost wrote itself. Based on the quality of the final work, it did write itself, because that way, I won’t get blamed for it.

Inspiration strikes in truly bizarre ways at truly random times.

NaPoWriMo

So, beyond half-way through National Poetry Writing Month, and I’ve still managed to write something every day. In fact, today’s entry was written yesterday evening, so I’m a day ahead. I suppose it’s true that the more you use something, the easier it gets to use. This is as far as I have ever gotten in a multi-day challenge to be creative.

I still can’t rhyme to save my life,
Which caused the family untold strife.

My poetry is formless (sometimes meaningless) – let’s face it, there aren’t many rules for poetry, so if you say it’s a poem, it is. Still, I’m hoping the quality has improved over the month, although that’s probably questionable.

What have I learned?

  • I can write something every day as long as it doesn’t have to be good.
  • Something will inspire me every day, even if it was annoying.
  • Poems that mention Rocky the Chihuahua get more hits than anything.
  • Blind John Ellsworth may have a book when this is all done.

A long, long time ago, two kids sat in a room with plastic electric-look guitars and sang along to Beatles records. One became a musician. One did not. Listen to Jim’s records. Read my poetry. It all worked out for the best, don’t you think?

 

There’s a National Poetry Writing Month?

So, there’s a National Novel Writing Month (NaNoMo) which I knew about. I’ve actually been on the mailing list for years, but while I have the first paragraph of my novel done, I’ve never progressed beyond that. Sad. I restart every year. It’s a fictional biography based on my life. Apparently, I haven’t done enough interesting to get beyond the first paragraph.

Today, I found out April is National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo.) One poem a day for a month. That, perhaps, I can do. Especially since it doesn’t have to be a good poem.

A poem is either a song without music, or it’s prose that isn’t very prose-like. How hard can that be?

While some poems have rules (like sonnets and haiku), most don’t. In fact, you can call almost anything a poem, since there don’t appear to be any poem police anywhere.

So, follow Blind John Ellsworth this month and see if I can actually produce a poem a day. It should be interesting. One is done. How hard can the rest be?