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Match Play is a golf/suspense novel. Dust of Autumn is a bloody one set in upstate New York. Prairie View is set in South Dakota, with a final scene atop Rattlesnake Butte. Life in the Arbor is a children's book about Rollie Rabbit and his friends (on about a fourth grade level). The Black Widow involves an elaborate extortion scheme. Doggy-Dog World is my memoir. And ES3 is a description of my method for examining English sentence structure.
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My newest novel, Happy Valley, can be found here.

Thursday, June 19

Old Food, Old Spices

I was hungry for something but I didn’t know what, just that boredom that comes from too much tv or reading or staring mindlessly out a window. So it was more a cure for boredom that an actual hunger. I found a small pack of sliced turkey breast, but it was a little slippery when I tried to take out a slice. Been there longer than I could remember. Some six or seven bananas that looked really sorry—black and mushy and just waiting for a trip to the disposal. A half full (or half empty, depending on your optimism or pessimism)) quart of milk. I opened it and sniffed it, and saw on the top “Sell before 6-7-14.” Since it was now almost two weeks past that date, pessimist that I am, I poured it in the sink. We now buy too much food that doesn’t get entirely eaten, too much that goes into some oven dish that’s enough for six people, but since we’re only two, we have a two-meal leftover that we never get around to eating. I’m amazed that more old people don’t die of food poisoning. Maybe they do and just get misdiagnosed by the attending physician. How many canned foods do we have in our cupboards that have been there way too long? The other day I found way back behind some cans of tomato sauce a Little Debbie cinnamon bun, plastic wrapped and hard as a frisbee. Sorry, Little Debbie, we misplaced you. In the other far corner of the pantry cupboard are four containers of hot-and-sour soup mix I bought on line about three years ago, tried once, and discovered that the preparation wasn't worth the effort. Did I throw it away? Nah, who knows when I might reconsider the preparation thereof? Several years ago, I remember finally throwing out a package of vegetable Jell-O that we’d brought with us from New York. It had been in the cupboard here for at least twelve years and had been in New York for a few years before the twelve. Would package Jell-O ever go bad? Probably not. But it’s been years and years since they’ve even made such a product, and why why why would we have packed it up with other kitchen items and brought it with us? That led me to an examination of our spice collection. Too bad spices don’t stamp their bottles and boxes with expiration dates. We have one very suspicious box of corn starch (dusty top, faded front), three boxes of baking soda, three bottles of ground cloves, three half-filled containers of chili powder, three of minced onion, two of parsley flakes, two of ground mustard, two of Italian seasonings, two of cinnamon, two of ginger, and one each of stuff I don’t have a clue about what they’re for or why we’d have bought them in the first place: dill weed (Did I ever eat weeds in any dishes we created?), cream of tartar (to make a fish sauce? But why would we buy that when the grocery store sells it read-made?), ground oregano, ground cumin, rosemary leaves, sage leaves. See? All stuff that only a gourmet cook would need. And way back on a high shelf there was a dusty-lidded jar of beef bouillon with only about a teaspoon remaining. I can’t remember ever needing a jar of beef bouillon for any reason. And why all the duplicates of so many spices? Well, obviously, because whenever one of us tried a new recipe, we didn’t check to see if we already had a called-for spice, just went out and bought another. We now have literally enough ground cloves to supply a household for several generations. In our wills we should specify which child will get which spices. That’d serve ‘em right for all the gray hairs they’ve caused. Here, Mike, for you, all the chili powder you’ll ever need. For Laura, three bottles of ground clove, and for Jeri, the Travis cache of cinnamon. Idle thoughts while I go to the store for a quart of milk.
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