Frustration Around the Things I Cannot Control

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

I’ve always despised angry old men; therefore, becoming one of them is not an option. I’ll start with something positive and then launch into my tirade:

Something positive.

I live in Portugal where they take recycling seriously. There are bins no more than 100 feet from nearly every residential building in my city. Organic trash for composting is stored beautifully underground in very convenient locations. Still, time and time again I see people dumping huge bags of plastic, glass bottles, and non-organic trash, in said compost bins. It makes me angry, it makes me sick, and it makes me sad. It makes me wonder about the integrity of human beings.

Many of my fellow humans don’t seem to care. It’s perplexing to say the least. How can you care about your children and grandchildren or just about anything, and not care about the environment? How can you fight for human rights, black lives, immigration rights, and/or equality, and not consider the threat to our planet?

These questions are confounding to me much of the time. It takes so little effort to sort out your trash, throw cigarette cartons in the wastebasket, clean up after your dog, but so many contribute to the problem rather than help solve it. My guess is that I have anywhere from 20 to 30 years left on this magnificent planet. Yes, it’s a reminder that the natural order of things dictates a life cycle and the planet is part of that cycle; however, we are hastening the death of planet earth by thousands of years.

While I’m pissing and moaning, I’d like to also mention the strain we humans are putting on our very expensive and extremely unstable healthcare system. I’m not saying that I have never put anything unnatural or life threatening in my body; I’m only human after all. But we all know that those with an apparent death wish are making it very difficult for the rest of us. Doctors and hospitals were under tremendous strain pre-COVID-19; if we keep it up, only the wealthy will get treatment (true in many countries). Cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol, pill popping to cover-up emotional and physical pain, etc. The rest of us will suffer from health issues and regret when we cannot afford to see a doctor; soulda, coulda, woulda will not offer any consolation.

Accountability is one of many annoyances that haunts me day and night. Why do white collar criminals get away with little or no jail time? How and why do the rich literally get away with murder?

This building collapse in Miami . . . who, if anyone, will pay the price of so many deaths?

I am dealing with a personal situation concerning accountability; it gets my goat more than just about anything.

Restraint

Holding back on making a list here. Proving to you that I am growing up. Perspective is essential to success.

Acceptance

I know who I am. I know what I am. I know that I am a control freak (this took a while to own). I have come to terms with accepting the things I cannot change. They say some people become more accepting as they grow older, I may be an exception.

Caring Too Much Sayings and Quotes ~ Best Quotes and Sayings

Travel

Travel has become close to impossible. I have a short trip planned for the Spanish border, 45 minutes away, and I’m not sure it will happen. Toulouse cancelled, Bristol cancelled, mediterranean cruise cancelled. Everytime I book a trip I brace myself for that almost certain email telling me that COVID-19 has prompted restrictions; home seems to be the only destination I can count on.

I’m scheduled to go to Stockholm next month. Since Sweden has never really closed, that may actually happen. Still, my guess is that Portugal will enforce a quarantine rule upon my return. I guess we’ll see.

I am resigned to any and all possibilities — I don’t consider complacency a good thing right now. The resistance to vaccinate is frustrating and puzzling. The same people who bellyache about restrictions, are the ones who refuse to be vaccinated. I want to shake some sense into these stubborn resisters.

The EU has agreed to a digital vaccine certificate for travel outside of one’s country and for use in order to go to certain concerts and/or sporting events. I have quite easily acquired my certificate and for that I am grateful.

Simplicity vs. Excess

No Judgment, But Why All The Bling?

I’d like to discuss this photograph: Is it minimalism? Is it staged? Is it attractive? Does it matter? But first . . .

Photo by Jeffrey Czum on Pexels.com

This is one of those blogs where what I have to say is purely a matter of taste and opinion. In fact, aren’t they all? The word excess in the title certainly has a negative connotation. You have your taste, I have my taste, and my taste is the right taste — I kid.

I Will Get to That Photo in a Moment

Let me be clear that this is coming from an average Joe. I do not have a design degree, I do not get paid to do design work, and I do not know very much about design. Now some would say that gays have a design gene; I’d like to think that was true, however, we know it’s false. There is one small thing that leads me to believe that I have a good sense of color, light, and “tasteful” design. I worked for Dorothy Hamilton who owned The French Culinary Institute in New York City. My job description did not include interior design, but . . . I was in fact the lead person on several expansion projects. In that role I got to choose furnishings, wall color, and finishes. I would have to run my ideas by Dorothy, but I would say 90% of the time she liked what I showed her. After a number of years of successful project management, Dorothy told her staff that I was to be the “go to” person for the look and feel of the facilities (70,000 sq. ft.) and a campus in California (don’t recall, but at least 30,000 sq. ft.). I do not like to toot my own horn, ergo, I have to say, this particular distinction made me very proud. Obviously, I do not need to justify having an opinion, but there you go. Also, see link to profile article on me at the end of this piece.

The Photograph: In my humble opinion the only reason what you see in the above photograph could be considered minimalism, is all of the blank space around the window. It draws your eyes to the center of the photograph — the focal point. It makes you feel good. It’s pretty and takes you to Europe. Not a lot of clutter or color. It transports you back to simpler times. The building might be old and possibly historical or it might be a fairly new building made to look older. I like the shutters and I love the flower boxes. My criticism is that it looks a bit staged and a bit too feminine. But all that empty space around the windows, the muted colors, and the rust streaks in a couple of places, make it a very attractive photograph; a place I’d like to be.

Minimalism

Definition of minimalism: a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.

Minimalism is all about living with less. This includes less financial burdens such as debt and unnecessary expenses. … For many minimalists, the philosophy is about getting rid of excess stuff and living life based on experiences rather than worldly possessions.

I hate clutter, I hate dust, I hate waste, I hate having “things” in drawers and closets that I will never use, I hate thinking about all this stuff; too much stuff jams up your brain. This hatred does not drive my stylistic preferences. If you normally have a maximum of three people sitting in and using a living room, why do you need two big sofas? If once a month or twice a year you have eight people sitting in the living room, add chairs when you need them. Excess furniture makes a space feel smaller and more cramped. This has an impact on how you feel in the space; meaning that you consciously or unconsciously feel that the world is closing in on you — you feel anxious.I’m not fond of feeling anxious.

The same is true for knick-knacks, small objects that have no real functional use. These items tend to collect dust and take up space. When I look at the photograph below, this is what comes to mind: open, clean, fresh, stunning, inviting, and peaceful.

Photo by Patryk Kamenczak on Pexels.com

Some of you may look at the same photograph and think: bare, empty, sparse, over-designed and cold. Admittedly, I would add a couple of nightstands, some books, and a simple side chair. I especially love the wood floor and the floor to ceiling windows. It feels like there is no barrier between the inside and outside, making the room seem even larger than it actually is. You are made to feel as if you are living in nature; magnificent and powerful.

Advantages to minimal design:

  • fewer objects to clean
  • you can budget less for furniture
  • option to add chairs for seating if you need to
  • easier to make changes
  • a splash of color can brighten things up (pop)

Whatever Makes You Comfortable

One thing that that I find troubling about design is how snooty the industry can be. Interior design professionals are for the most part well paid, and they should be. To be a good designer you have to know your stuff and it’s obviously hard work. I had clients in my consulting business who were: indecisive, picky, entitled, angry, know-it-alls — and this is when they were being cooperative. Having stated this, when it comes to designers, I still believe there is an air of they know better than you. I would argue that no one knows better than you. You know what you like, you know what makes you comfortable, and you know what you want. You are the boss in this scenario.

If you’re like me, you prefer certain colors to others. You might like big and bold furniture or you might want to go in the opposite direction. You might prefer your walls to be bright and filled with artwork from top to bottom. I love white walls in an open space; it provides a blank canvas. Sometimes people go overboard with accent colors and they end up dominating a space. Again, it should be whatever you like.

I find that keeping my bedroom simple and uncluttered, helps me sleep better. White, crisp cotton sheets, a subtle color on the walls, clean lines, and a minimal amount of furniture (I like built-ins); these things make me happy. I don’t spend much time in my bedroom, but the time I spend there should be restful. I no longer sleep like I slept when I was a teenager.

Excess

Fifteen years ago I was fortunate enough to purchase a little country house in Pennsylvania (PA). I was thinking about how I might furnish the house and equip the kitchen. I pondered: before I go out and buy more “stuff,” let me see what I have in my apartment that I could take to PA. Three car loads later, my kitchen was completely outfitted; no lie I had two of everything in Brooklyn, and all I had to purchase was a couple of beds and a few other pieces of furniture to make the house in PA comfortable and functional. You might ask what I was doing with all of that excess stuff in Brooklyn? Darned if I know. I learned a great lesson about accumulating things and why it would be prudent to try and avoid that in the future . . . and for the most part, I have.

I find that friends are great for helping you edit. I have a number of friends who have no problem telling me what they think.

I will not be writing about hoarding, that’s a whole other issue. All I can say is I feel sorry for people who cannot part with things. I find tossing out or giving away stuff I don’t need, to be cleansing and gratifying.

Minimalism when dressing and wearing jewelry is usually also more attractive. Sometimes people wear six bracelets, three wrist watches, five necklaces, and nine lapel pins; what am I supposed to look at? Several belts, t-shirts over t-shirts, and so on, make up your mind. Edit yourself people. Simplicity and restraint will win the day. Again, just my opinion.

The House Special: Christopher Papagni Elevates Portland’s Restaurant Scene

Click on title above and it will take you to a profile piece about me done in Old Port Magazine, Portland, Maine.

Minimalist Typography Poster - FREE DOWNLOAD | Frases minimalistas ...

My Last Meal Imagined

Some people will find this thought morbid or difficult to digest (sorry). Not having a fear of death allows me to consider my last meal if, and that’s a big if, I was in the position to choose said meal. The photos below are not the actual dishes I would order; just having fun with stock photos.

 

My Choices

I will not go over possible scenarios that might get me to a place where I know that my last meal is a foregone conclusion. Let’s just imagine that it is a possibility. I think about these things, I do.

By the way, I won’t be cooking my own last meal. Although I like my own cooking immensely, I would rather imagine that a professional chef is part of my fantasy.

I’m going to order more than one appetizer, entree, and dessert because this is my fantasy and I can. I have a few thoughts about each savory dish:

  1. The food will be uncomplicated.
  2. It will be fresh.
  3. It will be mildly spicy.
  4. It will be served at around 6:00 p.m. I don’t like to go to bed with a full stomach and I assume I’ll want a full night’s sleep before I die.
  5. I will have a white tablecloth and white soft cotton napkins.
  6. I will have one person dining with me. I am not revealing who I would want that person to be (unless you’re a really close friend and you promise not to say anything). I can tell you it would not be a politician or religious leader.
  7. It will be hot; cold food can be delicious, but not for my last meal.
  8. There will be no photos taken.

No rules for desserts.

 

Appetizer

I love appetizers. I like that I can take a few small bites and I like knowing that there will be a break before the next course. I usually allow myself to indulge in something richer knowing that it will only be a couple of forkfuls of deliciousness. Of course for this fantasy — I know fantasy seems more like a positive, but since none of this is real — I’m well enough to enjoy food in this fantasy. Who knows, I might be 95 years old with a great appetite, deciding that I have had a good run and it’s time to rest. These are the dishes I might hope to be served:

Selections:  pan seared foie gras with some sort of fig compote on the side, grilled garlic and scallion marinated king prawns, fettucini arrabiata, Korean style chicken wings (drumettes), chicken based broth with ramen noodles and other goodies (paitan), and baked clams oreganata. They would be served with some time to savor and digest in between servings.

Caveat:  I may change up or a add a dish or two. I want to leave things fairly fluid knowing that anything can happen between now and then.

Fettuccine arrabiata

 

Entrees:  Grilled T-Bone (dry-aged, grass fed beef). I love that you get two cuts of beef:  a strip of top loin and tenderloin. I want it charred on the outside and medium rare on the inside (just salt and pepper). Perhaps a fresh rosemary rub prior to grilling. I make no apology for my choices.

How to grill t-bone steak

More entrees and sides:  A whole steamed lobster with clarified butter for dipping, creamy mashed potatoes and parsnip with a little bit of roasted garlic, sauteed broccoli rabe, turkey stuffing cooked in the cavity of a roasted turkey. I want the crispy part that was exposed during cooking. Buttermilk fried chicken — a thigh please. I might ask for seafood paella, I’m not sure yet. Not because I don’t love it; there are capacity issues to consider.

Dessert:  white cake with dark chocolate frosting (accompanied by a glass of whole milk), Toll House chocolate chip cookies with walnuts, pistachio ice cream — two scoops with nothing on top. I usually like to end the meal with something lemony. I’m thinking either lemon meringue pie or a French lemon tart topped with fresh whipped cream. I’d probably be happy with either. If key lime pie is possible, I’d go with that, also with fresh whipped cream. I know, it’s a fantasy, I should be able to have anything I want. I cannot help being practical; even when I fantasize.

By the way, I would do tastings; I wouldn’t want to be so full that I can’t eat dessert.

 

To Drink:  

I would start with a palate cleanser:  Ouzo with ice cold water

Paired with Appetizers:  a chilled French Sancerre

Entrees:  Louis Latour Corton Domain Gran Cru — the best vintage to found the wine sommelier I have employed for this occasion. If this is to be my last red, it had better be the best. I would be open to suggestions. If you’re reading this and judging my choices, you would be wise to keep in my that this is my fantasy and my taste buds; consider your own selections if can go there.

Dessert:  A very small glass of Italian Moscato d’Asti (lightly sweet, gently effervescent and low in alcohol, is mainly produced in the hilltop town of Asti, and in the nearby provinces of Alessandria and Cuneo in the north-western region of Piedmont).

When everything has been cleared away and right before I retire to my bed:  French Armagnac — the best available; I’m not that fussy. Served in a large brandy snifter.

Image result for brandy snifter glass

 

I have to say this was more fun than I thought it would be. My mouth watered the entire time I was blogging. I came to this conclusion:  I should eat these dishes more often than I do. Although I always go back to one of my college professors who started each lecture with:  “All things in moderation.” I wouldn’t want to hasten my demise.

 

What I Vowed to do this Week and How it Played Out:

I find myself very angry and upset with social media and the news. I get all caught up in drama with family and strangers over words; words worth fighting over, but it takes its toll. I decided to give myself a week away from all social media and the news.

It’s day two and it’s not working. I’m afraid the Corona Virus and American politics keeps me wanting more. I turn it on for a few minutes and then turn it off. It’s an addiction I cannot deny cold turkey. I’m telling myself that smaller doses are probably better for my state of mind. I spoke to friends over the weekend who are in a similar place. I cannot help but wonder what will come of this.

Day three:  it’s getting easier. I guess like any addiction, time and patience will prevail. A little bit of news because of the virus and the democratic primaries, but I’m rationing myself.

Day Seven: Unsuccessful experiment on the news side; I couldn’t stay away. Definitely a lot less social media and that was a good thing. I feel like I experienced less angst. I’m going to try to cut back. I’m going to cut back.

I have also developed some sort of ache in my abdominal area. I’m not sure if it’s psychosomatic or real.  The anxiety has to live somewhere; my head and stomach seem like obvious hosts.

Admittedly, I could not write about food when my stomach was bothering me. The good news is that I think I figured out that it was a machine I was using to stretch out my back at the gym. One of the staff members showed me an alternative machine that I believe will do less damage to my abdominal area; I’ve switched machines. It might also be a hernia — I’ve had two and it’s uncomfortable surgery to repair them.

 

Paco Update:

Paco has been with me for over five weeks now. He has completed his pack of antibiotics and his tail rash is getting better (difficult because he wants to lick the area and I refuse to put a cone on his head). He’ll have bloodwork done in 10 days to determine whether or not he beat the virus. On his last visit, his red blood cell count and all other readings were normal. He is animated, playful, sweet, has a great sense of humor and eats well. When he first arrived he was anxious and skittish; for the most part he’s a well-behaved,  “normal” pooch, with above average intelligence.

He a bit overly generous with kisses; a habit I may have a difficult time breaking.

I imagine I will always wonder if the people (person) who abandoned him will resurface and want him back, but I worry less each day. I have grown quite attached to my 3.5 lb. roommate.

He’s quite handsome, is he not? I intend to spoil him rotten. My

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