Monthly Archives: July 2016

This Bud’s For You

Now that it’s legal to buy marijuana in Oregon, my husband and I decided to travel down memory lane and check it out. Neither of us was ever a serious pothead but we did indulge from time to time, as did most kids of our generation. We’d been hearing that today’s weed is different from the ditch weed we used to smoke but we had no idea how different.

Back in the 60’s and 70’s the leaves were considered the good stuff; the seeds were basically garbage. Now the buds are what you want; go figure. It feels very strange to buy dope legitimately instead of a furtive deal through a “friend of a friend of a friend”. Turns out, there are five cannabis dispensaries here in Newport, as compared to only one liquor store. The times, they are clearly a’changing!

We settle on the Oregon Coast Dispensary for our maiden voyage – the name OCD seems appropriate – and walk into the tiny storefront feeling every minute of our advanced ages.

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Entering the reception area, we’re met by Justin, a young man who looks about twelve. Before we can enter the sanctum sanctorum to score our weed, Justin has to check our drivers’ licenses. To his credit, he doesn’t fall over laughing when he sees how old we are.

Maybe he thinks we’re hip oldsters! That illusion is quickly punctured when my husband cheerily announces that the last time he smoked weed was in 1978. Justin tells us that’s before he was born. Ouch.

I have marginally more street cred, having last smoked in the early aughts with a guy who had taken me to lunch as part of a job interview and suggested a joint as dessert. (What could I do, turn it down?) I did get the offer, although the job ultimately fell through and my interviewer apparently left the country shortly afterwards in mysterious circumstances. “Under a cloud” was the only explanation I was ever given. I still wonder.

Anyway. Despite our obvious newbie status, we are allowed in the back room. Now the education begins. When I was in college, you bought (or were given) a baggie of weed, got some rolling papers and got stoned. Pretty straightforward.

Whoa – the choices are mind-boggling, and the dope we considered top shelf back then is now bottom of the barrel. Justin gently steers us away from the really powerful stuff; he’s obviously got our number by now.

Some get you giddy and giggly like the old days, munchies and all. Other types are supposed to mellow you out and help you sleep. Still others are for pain management. Some give you a “head” high; others a “body” high. Very confusing, and I’m not even stoned! All menu options are listed on a chart, classified by the amount of various chemicals (THC, CBD) and function. Justin makes lots of enthusiastic suggestions and opens jars for me to sniff.

They all smell like dirt. This, at least, is familiar.

We finally settle on two types that are suitable for beginners; i.e., we will not think we can fly, jump off the back deck and crack our skulls on our neighbors’ patio. We get a gram of Shark Shock, which is supposed to be good for back pain and other old-people ailments, and a gram of Purple Hindu Kush, for nighttime relaxation. Not sure why this is better than single-malt scotch but hey, when in Rome….

Next important decision: how to actually smoke the stuff. Apparently the done thing is to use a pipe. There are little ones that look dangerous – you could singe your eyebrows while lighting up – medium-sized ones, and some large glass pipes.

My husband, Mr. Cool, rejects the biggest one, offering the observation that the large pale pink glass pipe looks like a dildo. Great… just in case we didn’t look like total amateurs….

Transactions completed (cash only!), we stumble out into the bright sunlight with our drugs safely stashed in my purse and our dignity in tatters. It’s perfectly legal to carry less than an ounce but it still feels like the fuzz are going to pull us over at any moment. Strangely thrilling.

THE EXPERIMENT

weed

Night One. Back home, we wait for sunset to light up and choose the Purple Hindu Kush nighttime option. Our medium-sized pipe is hard to light and inhale without dropping bits of our stash all over the porch. (I knew we should have gone with the dildo!)

After fumbling around, coughing and blowing the flames out by mistake, we finally manage a slight buzz. It’s very pleasant – but it sure is a lot more work than pouring something out of a decanter.

Night Two. Our lungs are a little raw but we bravely soldier on in the name of science and smoke some Shark Shock. The next morning my husband says his back doesn’t ache as much as usual. I’m not sure I notice much of a difference.

After further discussion and analysis, we agree that we detest smoking and would rather not charcoal broil our lungs. So now what? Aha – we’ll cook with it!

A little Internet research reveals that our best option is to make something called cannabutter, which we can then put on toast or whatever. First hurdle: all the recipes call for an ounce of weed/a pound of butter. An ounce is 28 grams; we only have 2g.

All is not lost. I find a recipe that uses 2 ounces/2 tablespoons of butter, which I double, under the theory that you can never have too much butter.

Step One: Put the weed on a pan and dry it in the oven at low temp for about an hour. Now our house smells like my college dorm.

Step Two: Boil up some water in a pot, add the butter, add the dried-out dope and let it simmer for another hour. Now the whole neighborhood smells like my dorm.

Step Three: Put the pot-in-a-pot into the fridge to cool. Peel off the butter and store until ready for use.

I think I’m getting a slight high from handling and breathing this in. Or maybe it’s the power of suggestion. Either way, I spend the rest of the day in a vaguely lazy, Sunday-afternoon kind of fog.

A Few Days Later:  Time to test this as an ingestible.  We toast up some sourdough bread, spread a small amount of cannabutter on it, and wait to see what happens. Other than tasting like lawn clippings, the result is subtle, though I do sleep soundly.

Next time, I use a little more of the doctored butter.  Again, only a mild effect. I may not have made it correctly but, to be honest, I’m not sure it’s worth the trouble.

Conclusion: Without the whole counterculture/In A Gadda Da Vida/“Is Paul Dead?” overlay, the experience is more suburban than subversive. Which begs the question, why isn’t this legal everywhere?

Long story short, I’m sticking with Bunnahabhain or a glass of port for the rest of my Summer of Love.

Anyone want a nearly new pipe??

Rattling the Monkey Cage

My blog isn’t about politics but this is one worth sharing.

518-songofmypeople

It was quiet… a little too quiet on the night of April 11th, in this most wretched year of our Lord . I sat with friends in our usual booth in a nearly empty restaurant. Someone a little familiar caught my eye, as he made his way toward the side of the bar. I used to work retail. It was awful. I’ll tell you more about it some other time. I remembered the guy from when he came into my old job with his mother. I was there long enough that I could still remember him as a kid. I remembered the boy as a polite, considerate young man. I didn’t know him very well.

Then… he spoke. Not to me, but to those around him. More people started to flood the restaurant. They’d gotten out from a recent Trump rally on the other side of the river. They were…

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Shopping As an Olympic Event

I’ve often wondered why shopping is not considered a legitimate sport. After all, it requires endurance, body contact, focusing on a goal, keeping score and comfortable shoes. Am I right?

In honor of the summer games, and for future consideration by the Olympic Committee, I’d like to propose the following events. On your mark, get set, shop!

 

100-Yard Dash to the Sale Section: Qualifier.

Rugby: How many 8 x 10 carpets can you get the salesman to show you before one of you loses patience?

Boxing: How quickly can you convince the wrapping department in Bloomingdales that you deserve free gift wrap? (World record: 49 seconds)

Dressage: You have 20 minutes to find the perfect cocktail frock for your cousin’s wedding. No black dresses allowed. Go!

Football: Find three pairs of 5” stilettos that don’t kill the bottoms of your feet. Finals: dance in them for one hour. Fewest Band-Aids wins.

Pole Vault: Jump over a line of bulimic women to get to the bathroom first.

Diving: The designer scarf you want is at the bottom of the bin. How quickly can you find it with a minimum of bruises from other bargain hunters?

Decathlon: Race through a department store from underwear to tops to pants to belts to shoes. First person to assemble an entire outfit scores lunch.

Doubles: You hunt for her size; she hunts for yours.

Freestyle: What we all look like when nobody’s watching. Win gold for not wearing sweat pants.

Designer Wrestling: There’s only one Prada bag at 60% off. Snag it and hang on for dear life no matter how fierce your opponent. Extra points awarded if bag is not damaged.

Weight Lifting: Carry your weight in shopping bags from one end of the mall to the other. Repeat twice.

Please add your own suggestions in the comments below. Let the games begin!

Shopping As an Act of Optimism

It’s sale season, and that means each time I sit down at my computer I’m bombarded by urgent messages to take advantage of every markdown.

Buy now! Going fast! Last chance!

As I was feeling vaguely annoyed by all the hysteria, it occurred to me that shopping is a profound act of faith. One that has nothing to do with the economy.

Please bear with me.

We buy last season’s markdowns in the belief that we’ll be around to wear them next year.

We buy for the person or size we aspire to be.

We buy for the happy occasion in our future that we plan to attend.

We buy maternity clothes much too early; shoes that await a dinner invitation; the house where we hope to grow old.

Whether we’re shopping for something big or small – the car we plan to keep until it hits 50,000 miles or the coat we buy in October when it won’t be cold until January – it’s with an unspoken confidence that we’ll remain in good health long enough to enjoy it.

Call it our bargain with the universe.

On a rational level, we know we can’t always control our future. But isn’t there something wonderfully hopeful about acting as though we can?

I’ve been thinking a lot about a friend of a friend who was recently diagnosed with cancer. I don’t really know her or what she’s going through but I imagine she’s a lot more focused on actual therapy than on retail therapy.

Still, along with doctor visits, chemo, radiation and all the serious things she has to worry about, I wish she’d do a little shopping.

Not because she necessarily needs a new dress or sexy sandals right this minute. But because I’m optimistic that she’ll be wearing those summer splurges next year, and the summer after that.

And I hope she is, too.

That’s what “shoptimism” is all about.

You Say Zucchini Flower, I Say Squash Blossom

After the excitement of the season’s first tomatoes, blueberries and strawberries, the big draw for me at the local farmers’ market is the arrival of squash blossoms. They begin showing up in late June but the crop is small so you may have to arrive early to snag some. Be bold and elbow people out of the way if you must. (My husband was elbowed out of some early tomatoes last month; it’s payback time.)

I’d never eaten squash blossoms (or zucchini flowers — they seem to be interchangeable terms) until I had them on a trip to Rome a couple of years ago. What a revelation! I waited impatiently for the summer markets (the flowers are much too delicate to ship to a grocery store), looked up some recipes and — voilà/eureka/holy swearword! — discovered that they are super easy to recreate, minus the cute Italian waiter.

A quick Internet search revealed that squash plants have both male and female flowers, which (natch) are pollinated by bees. There are many more male squash blossoms than female and they’re the first to bloom, so that’s probably what’s at your local produce stand.

I won’t lie, the preparation is a bit time-consuming, but they are absolutely worth it!

First, snip off the stem and twist off the stamen – that fuzzy little penis-like thing in the center. Ladies, think of that creep who done you wrong and this won’t seem nearly as tedious! Gents, stop squirming… didn’t you have a horrible boss you can fantasize about? See?… fun!

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Incidentally, the stamen (or pistil in female plants) is apparently edible, but that’s a whole new level of weird.

Moving on…

Gently rinse the blossoms and set them down on a paper towel to dry.

While you’re waiting, cut some fresh mozzarella and anchovies into small pieces.

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If you think you don’t like anchovies I implore you to try them just this once. They will melt into the cheese and add a briny saltiness that will bring tears to your eyes.

Stuff the inside of each blossom (very gently, so you don’t tear the petals – but don’t worry if you do) with one piece of each, and twist the petals together to keep the cheese and anchovy inside. If you’ve ripped any petals, the twisting action will cover everything up and keep them together.

Next, make your batter. The following proportions should coat about 10-20 blossoms, depending on their size and whether or not you thin the batter, as I do. Dump whatever you don’t use.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt and ¼ tsp ground pepper
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ cup cold sparkling water or seltzer
  • Grapeseed (or other vegetable) oil for frying

Directions

  • Stir flour and salt together in a small bowl. Add the egg, sparking water and olive oil and whisk until blended. Add more seltzer if the batter is too thick.
  • In a heavy pan, pour in grapeseed oil to about 1″ depth and heat until a drop of batter sizzles when it’s dropped into the pan.
  • Dip the flowers into the batter, let the excess drip off, and put into the pan of hot oil, a few at a time. Fry until golden on both sides, about 4 minutes.
  • Drain on a plate covered with a paper towel.
  • Sprinkle with coarse salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Serve with lemon wedges. Devour.

 

Even In the Wake of Tragedy, Four of the Many Reasons to Visit Istanbul

Had to share Susan Portnoy’s wonderful post:

The recent terrorist attacks have once again put the world on edge. Finding oneself caught in the haze of fear and destruction, or worse, part of the body count, no longer seems like a distant conc…

Source: Even In the Wake of Tragedy, Four of the Many Reasons to Visit Istanbul