Sunday, September 24, 2017

Window washing

Our theme image this week is from 1953 and shows a young Prince Charles looking out of the window of Buckingham Palace on the occasion of his mothers' Coronation. 

Winter was nearing. In this photo, we're washing the storm windows before they went back on the regular windows. They provided additional thermal protection during the cold Canadian winter. During the summer they were stored in the garage where they gathered dust and cobwebs. We cleaned them with Bon Ami and newspaper.

I was three years old and my sister Eilleen was nine in 1945. Dad may have already re-puttied the spots where the glass pulled away from the wooden frames. The smell of the putty (linseed oil and whiting) comes back to me vividly. Dad would give me a hunk to knead before he applied it to the windows.

My sister's eyes were closed as she looked through the hazy window. I imagine she was singing Rum and Coca-Cola* or AC-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive or Sentimental Journey, all tunes Mom liked. Eilleen liked to sing and play act that she was one of the Andrews Sisters and not one of the Killeen sisters.  I was a perfect audience at that age and applauded all her performances.

On Sundays, she'd create a movie theatre out of a cake box. She'd cut the comic strips out of the paper and glue them together end-to-end to creating one long strip that she'd roll onto pencils. A "movie" was created when she'd roll the strip, from one pencil to the other, past the cellophane window on the cake box.
A cakebox window my sister made into movie screens for the comics.

We loved L'il Abner and the inhabitants of Dog Patch, Al Capp's famous strip. One of our favorites was Joe Btfsplk—whose unpronounceable name was hilariously funny to me. Eilleen, who played all the parts in different voices, would pronounce it differently each time, getting a huge laugh from her rapt audience.

As adults, we invoked Joe's name when talking together about a bad luck situation. Since she died I have no one left in my life that speaks Al Capp.

 He’s well-meaning, but is the world’s worst jinx, bringing disastrous misfortune to everyone around him. A small, dark rain cloud perpetually hovers over his head to symbolize his bad luck. Hapless Btfsplk and his ever-present cloud became one of the most iconic images in Li’l Abner.
-From Wikipedia

Little Orphan Annie was another favorite strip Eilleen would act out for me. When I Googled the 40's strips, I found this one and many others with Win the War themes. My sister and I were too young to have felt the effects of war directly. Our lives in my memory were carefree and happy. Still, the best thing about my window photo is the timing, autumn 1945 (thanks Dad for your white pen). World War ll had officially ended on September 2nd. Happier times were ahead for our parents and the rest of the world. They couldn't have imagined what came next.

From the Little Orphan Annie home page. 

Visit Sepia Saturday to see what others saw in today's prompt photo. 

*Lyrics to Rum and Coca Cola
I read online a controversy about the meaning of the lyrics which some say refers to prostitution. I doubt my parents thought there was any hidden meaning in the song. 

If you ever go down Trinidad
They make you feel so very glad
Calypso sing and make up rhyme
Guarantee you one real good fine time
Drinkin' rum and Coca-Cola
Go down Point Koomahnah
Both mother and daughter
Workin' for the Yankee dollar
Oh, beat it man, beat it
Since the Yankee come to Trinidad
They got the young girls all goin' mad
Young girls say they treat 'em nice
Make Trinidad like paradise
Drinkin' rum and Coca-Cola
Go down Point Koomahnah
Both mother and daughter
Workin' for the Yankee dollar
Oh, you vex me, you vex me
From Chicachicaree to Mona's Isle
Native girls all dance and smile
Help soldier celebrate his leave
Make every day like New Year's Eve
Drinkin' rum and Coca-Cola
Go down Point Koomahnah
Both mother and daughter
Workin' for the Yankee dollar
It's a fact, man, it's a fact
In old Trinidad, I also fear
The situation is mighty queer
Like the Yankee girl, the native swoon
When she hear der Bingo croon
Drinkin' rum and Coca-Cola
Go down Point Koomahnah
Both mother and daughter
Workin' for the Yankee dollar
Out on Manzanella Beach
G.I. romance with native peach
All night long, make tropic love
Next day, sit in hot sun and cool off
Drinkin' rum and Coca-Cola
Go down Point Koomahnah
Both mother and daughter
Workin' for the Yankee dollar
It's a fact, man, it's a fact
Rum and Coca-Cola
Rum and Coca-Cola
Workin' for the Yankee dollar

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Entered with a Smile

I've been writing with a great group for almost a year. We meet every Tuesday morning,  read our week's work or an excerpt, critique and encourage each other. Pat has been working on a collection of stories, Entered with a Smile, about her deceased son. She's almost finished and getting it ready for publication. We're so proud of her. 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Sepia Saturday 385: Fishing

Me with Walleye?
My uncle was aghast. "You don't remember that fish?"
"No," I said, bewildered.
"Only a woman would forget catching a trophy fish." Lorne was shocked that I could forget something he remembered so vividly. "I never caught a fish even nearing that size," he bemoaned.

Guilt washed over me. It was my last visit with him. Lorne remembered I'd caught the fish, in a spot we were looking at together from his cottage at Dorothy Lake in Canada. I'd spent many happy days there with him and my aunt, swimming, fishing, boating and sitting around telling stories. Lorne lived most of the year in Florida by then and had married a lovely woman who was skirting the edge of Alzheimer's disease. During our visit, she didn't say a word. From a rocking chair in the corner she sat and watched us, alternately smiling and wringing her hands. She died within the year; Lorne, a few years later. I hate that I disappointed him by not remembering the fish. 

In fact, fishing wasn't anything special for us—I'm speaking now about the girls—because living in Canada we had fish-laden lakes and rivers all around. I fished with my grandparents in the river; fished with my dad at Grand Beach; fished with my Uncle Lorne at Dorothy Lake. I caught plenty of walleye, not because of skill...simply because there was plenty to be had. As I recall, the men baited my hooks and took care of the fish once caught. All we girls did was dangle our lines and keep alert enough to set the hook when a fish jerked the end. It didn't seem like much of an accomplishment to catch them. 
Dorothy Lake Thanksgiving 1960. Fishing with grandmother Pulcherie.
Uncle Lorne and his enthusiasm for fish, both catching and eating them, was the exact opposite of my Aunt Alvina, my father's sister. The last time I saw her was in Victoria on Vancouver Island. I hadn't seen her in thirty years and she'd suddenly turned ninety. We sat together in her tidy little apartment, where she talked for over an hour about boiling potatoes. She'd had an old friend over for dinner recently and the friend was very late. "You know how the potatoes get," she began. "All watery and soft..." And she went on with tales of potato mishaps. I savored every word, enjoying our time together—just the two of us, so different from my visits with her during my childhood when her home was full of people all talking at once. The potato talk made us hungry and we decided to go to dinner. As she looked in the mirror arranging her black velvet hat, she glanced at me and said, "You know I don't eat fish, don't you? I never have. . .  and I never will." She picked up her purse and checked it for the essentials: a rosary, a mass card or two, her mirrored compact filled with pressed powder, a lipstick with a little mirror attached, a pencil and a few sheets of paper. Vina had taught school for many years and was an excellent writer. She was always making little notes to herself. I have a memoir/family history of hers, a prized possession, describing her early life on the farm in Ontario. Here's an excerpt about her father, my grandfather, who died in 1904.

During the following winter, father, working in the woods, froze his toe. Not having any of the methods or medications to deal with frost-bite, unfortunately it tuned to blood poisoning and eventually gangrene. This necessitated his being hospitalized, also a long journey which must have been very painful under the circumstances. Fifteen miles to the nearest railway station over rough roads in a buggy or perhaps a wagon, not too comfortable, no doubt. Then the train trip to Ottawa about a hundred miles or so.

Due to the condition of the leg, it was imperative that to save his life, the leg had to be amputated, first below the knee, then above. After quite a lengthy stay in hospital, he returned home to convalesce. Fortunately, the boys were old and able enough to carry on the farm work with the help of a hired man and often with the assistance of a neighbor or two.

My paternal grandparents with six of their nine children. Vina was the youngest and not yet in the picture.

At the restaurant, Vina barely noticed the wake of turned heads she left in her path as we followed the host to our table. Even at ninety, she was striking with her pink skin, lively blue eyes and silver hair. She wore pearls around her neck, pearl earrings, and white gloves. Her dress was a deep maroon with a V-neck and a pleated front. Alone, I would have ordered the halibut, fish of the day, but I followed her lead and enjoyed a slice of prime rib. Vina filled me in on family gossip—we did some reminiscing about the past. The dinner was fishless, but swam over with affection. 

Unlike his sister Vina, my dad loved fish and we enjoyed it on Fridays, like all good Catholic families. On Thursday afternoon, Mom would go downtown on the bus to Eaton's and buy pickerel fillets which she dipped in egg, rolled in crushed soda crackers and sauteed in butter. If we were lucky, we might have a paper-thin slice of lemon with it. Now, here in Fallbrook, lemons roll off the trees right to my front door.

My mother would be surprised to learn that if Eaton's was still there and if we were still Catholics, and if she wished to be scientifically correct, she would order walleye, the correct name for the fish we loved. 

In Canada, to set the record straight, there’s a push by governments, scientists and fishing aficionados to give the walleye its proper name. Traditions, however, take time to change, so for the next while, expect us Canadians to still call the walleye, our pickerel.

About a decade ago, people discovered the cheek meat of pickerel walleye is luscious and easy to prepare. On one of my last visits to Winnipeg, my friends prepared them for me. They were unforgettable. 

For other takes on the fishing prompt, check out Sepia Saturday

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sepia Saturday 384: Swimming Pool: Dominion Street

My best match for the prompt was the tub. Not an exact match as mine wasn't holey.

The scene is the backyard of my family's home in Winnipeg in mid-July, 1948 or 1949. Joycie, waiting her turn in the "pool", lived across the back lane with her parents, two sisters and brother. Joycie looks annoyed and tired of waiting. I appear oblivious to her anxiety, lounging as I am with a drink in my hand, like a middle-aged adult in a jacuzzi. I have a smug and proprietary look on my face as if to say to the photographer, "Hey Bud. If you want a dip, get in line behind Joycie. Meanwhile, fetch me a few more ice cubes for my drink." Or I could have been responding to my Dad's question about whether it might be time for Joyce to have a turn. "Really Dad?"

The tub soaking and of course, running through the hose, were the only ways to cool down in our neighborhood, during our short sometimes, hot summers. Private swimming pools were non-existent, unimaginable. For real swimming, we went to the public pool a couple of blocks away where our eyes burned from the chlorine, we had to wear ugly bathing caps and the life guards spoiled the fun with their nonstop whistle blowing and scolding. I don't remember having much fun at that pool, mostly I recall the strong smell and being jostled around and pushed in. Small for my age, I was easily over-powered. If I complained to my mother she'd say, "Push back. Fight your own battles." 

Luckily on one occasion when I was pushed, I landed on my face in the water and before I could scramble to the stairs and get out, I discovered I was buoyant and from that moment on, I could swim. The feeling of floating was euphoric. A few years later the polio epidemic hit and the pool was closed. After that polio summer of '53, the pool seemed ominous. We imagined polio, waiting like a twisted hungry creature in the locker rooms or underwater, trying to jump down our throats and force us into an iron lung. 

The lilac bush behind Joycie was a joy in the spring, loaded with fragrant blossoms which we cut off and carried to the school in Ball jars containing an inch of water for the stems. Our teacher's desks would be crowded with little bouquets for the two splendid weeks while the lilacs put on their big show of the year. We pressed the flowers between the pages of my Dad's Harvard Classics. 

The galvanized tub hung on a high hook in the garage for most of the year. By the time of this photo, Joycie and I had physically outgrown it, but not mentally. This scene probably captured our last time squeezing into the thing. Dad retrieved it from the garage and filled it up—I guess it was the man's job—so this must have been a Saturday or Sunday when Dad was home. Photos were only taken on the weekends, because Mom didn't use the camera, for some reason.  

Tinnitus plagues me now and I have a constant tea kettle/electric wire buzz in my ears. In Winnipeg, in summer, the mosquitos provided a constant background hum. Although I can't see them in the photo, I know there was a buzzing cloud over both our heads. By the time the sun set, Joycie and I would be wishing we had extra hands to scratch with—two hands weren't enough. Mom would make me a paste of baking soda and water which was supposed to offer itching relief. She'd spread it on our skin with a small wooden spatula, like the one that came with an ice-cream cup. 

The tomato vines up against our neighbor's garage would be loaded with green tomatoes, just starting to turn pink. A month later, Joycie and I would sit cross-legged by the vines, pulling the best, reddest fruit off, shaking on salt before each bite and savoring the sun-warmed deliciousness. We'd slurp and tip our heads back while we tore into the tomato skin...even so, juice would run down our chins. I'd end up with a stomach ache and Mom again came to the rescue with a bubbly glass of Eno's fruit salts. A popular cure-all, every kid from that time knows the radio jingle: E...N..O, ENO! It's mild and gentle and good, good tasting—E...N...O! 
This is how our Eno's bottle looked....

I looked up Eno's online and was surprised to see it's is still around. Now owned by GlaxoSmithKline, the main market is India. My parents kept the Eno's on a high shelf because I liked to pretend it was 7-Up and sneak it whenever I could. With my nine year old's sense of humor, I liked the big burp you could muster up if you drank it fast. The high shelf didn't stop me but it slowed me down.

The new Eno's has a tag line that I like: "Bubbles that set you free.....instantly!"

Friday, July 21, 2017

Sepia Saturday #377: Watching TV on a hot summer day

Recycling this blog with a few edits from a couple of years ago.....

This is my only photo featuring a TV set as part of a little tableau. My Aunt Addie is on the left with a proud aunt hand on my cousin Brian's shoulder. The 24" TV set, encased in its shiny blond wood cabinet, is hogging most of the scene. Atop the TV are miscellaneous items typical of the period. T he tiered lamp (orange was involved) is now back in vogue.
Qind Comfort.  Volta Tribal Print Shade £230

No serious photographer would be caught without his or her package of Westinghouse flash cubes or magic cubes. House plants were fashionable. My aunt's stem of ivy was struggling to escape from the planter box built into the wall on the right. The warmth of the TV set attracted the ivy which would regularly launch escapes from its roommate, the stern sharp "mother's in-law's tongue" plant. For those who aren't familiar with it, it's those two leaves sticking straight up. Addie's MILT was the Canadian indoor version of the plant seen below which is the California type that has lush leaves jammed tightly together. When there's only one leaf on the plant, with sharp points and edges, you can see how the plant inspired the name. By the way, it's almost impossible to kill, which also could have had something to do with the moniker. 

You couldn't pair up two more opposite plants—the curving, undulating ivy full surprises (where will it go next?) and the rigid, stiff tongue, stuck in place and content to stay there. During the summer months with more light, the ivy would curl around the rabbit ears and across the TV. Addie would wind it round and round the lamp to keep it neat. 

Behind the pleasant scene hang chic black drapes decorated with a bird-of-paradise motif. I'm guessing the date to be the mid-50's when Hawaiian/tropical themes dominated home design, even in Canada. Many of us had aluminum flamingo screen doors but had never seen a live flamingo or a real bird-of-paradise plant. Truer to our own geography, we should have had robins on our aluminum screen doors and pine trees or wheat sheaves on our wallpaper. 

The cast of characters: 

Aunt Addie
My aunt had a classic heart-shaped face with a broad forehead and a little chin. I cannot remember ever seeing her without a smile. She was petite and fluttery. We loved her visits because she didn't have children and spoiled us—not with things, but with her very desirable attention. She was the person closest to my mother, emotionally. 
Addie and Mom tipsy in a water-hole on a hot summer's day.

They would giggle together, confide in each other, commiserate over my aging grandparents, complain about their husbands and for holiday dinners, they'd cook together, pumping out a turkey dinner for twelve to fifteen people out of our tiny kitchen, which was like a boat galley. As I recall, everything was served on warmed plates and when we sat down to the table there was no jumping up for the forgotten this or that. They would have considered "Jack-in-the Boxing" during dinner very poor form. Organization for these events was key in the small houses and the meal was expected to be carried off without too much fuss. How the two of them managed to turn out the feasts they did is a wonder to me. I took their culinary accomplishments totally for granted. If I could spend just one more Thanksgiving with them in our kitchen on Dominion Street, I would present them with diamond tiaras befitting the experts they were. 

Cousin Brian
My cousin Brian, with the pipe, probably rarely looked at that television or any television. I think he was attending St. Paul's college at that time, where he studied for a couple of years. He was always studying. Later, he passed the Actuarial exams at a time when most of us had no idea what an Actuary was. Now they are sometimes lumped together with Data Scientists (who do not have to pass stringent exams). Pipe smoking was in fashion in those days with intellectual types. 

The TV
During this era, typical TV shows we would have enjoyed were The Ed Sullivan Show, I Love Lucy, Father Knows Best, The Honeymooners, American Bandstand and perhaps La Famille Plouffe, a teleroman series, like the telenovelas of Latin America. The show was about a Quebecois family during the end of the depression and through the forties. The characters, Theophile, his wife Josephine and their four adult children: Napoleon, Ovide, Cecile, Guillame were very popular with my French Canadian relatives. The clip is in French but a quick glance gives you an idea of Canadian content so typical of those times.

The host near the end extols the virtues of Players and Matinee cigarettes. 

Aunt Addie, my mother and grandmother enjoyed the shows thoroughly and would compare notes about the programs the day after they aired. The show was probably subsidized by the Canadian government which feared Canadian culture would be over run entirely by U.S. entertainment with the advent of wide-spread broadcast TV.  

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau once said said he felt that: "Living next to you [The United States] is in some ways like sleeping with an elephant. No matter how friendly or temperate the beast, one is affected by every twitch and grunt."

The government set up strict laws regarding the amount of Canadian content TV stations were required to air. There were regulations governing daytime content and prime time content. As a consequence, our TV's in the 50's mostly broadcast this: 

"RCA Indian Head test pattern" by RCA - Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -  caption
Until I googled the image below, I'd never seen how each portion of the test pattern was used. 

I wonder why the Canadian government didn't require a Canadian Indian to be on our test pattern instead of the generic American Indian? How about this splendid photo of a Cree Indian? They could have used the designs on the blankets for the fine tuning.
"Cree" photograph by George Foley, Maple Creek Saskatchewan

Check out Sepia Saturday for more stories.  

Grab your cool summer beverage of choice and visit Sepia Saturday for more interpretations of the theme

Friday, July 14, 2017

Sepia Saturday 376: Memoir: Paul-Hector Fortier

“However faded the print may be,  the celebrations are clearly visible, with flags flying and the very best hats being worn. The occasion was the opening of the new pavilion for the Beverley Town Cricket, Bowling and Athletic Club, in Beverley, East Yorkshire. The eagle eyed amongst us may just notice a cricket score in the background. Whatever game you play and whatever theme you care to identify and follow in this fine old photograph, all you have to do is to post a post on or around Saturday 15th July 2017.”

All I have is the hat as a match for the prompt this week. Happily, my favorite poet, Billy Collins, our former Poet Laureate, wrote about hats. 

by Billy Collins
Once every man wore a hat.
In the ashen newsreels,
the avenues of cities
are broad rivers flowing with hats.
The ballparks swelled
with thousands of straw hats,
brims and bands,
rows of men smoking
and cheering in shirtsleeves.
Hats were the law.
They went without saying.
You noticed a man without a hat in a crowd.
You bought them from Adams or Dobbs
who branded your initials in gold
on the inside band.
Trolleys crisscrossed the city.
Steamships sailed in and out of the harbor.
Men with hats gathered on the docks.
There was a person to block your hat
and a hatcheck girl to mind it
while you had a drink
or ate a steak with peas and a baked potato.
In your office stood a hat rack.
The day the war was declared
everyone in the street was wearing a hat
and they were wearing hats
when a ship loaded with men sank in the icy sea.
My father wore one to work every day
and returned home
carrying the evening paper,
the winter chill radiating from his overcoat.
But today we go bareheaded
into the winter streets,
stand hatless on frozen platforms.
Today the mailboxes on the roadside
and the spruce trees behind the house
wear cold white hats of snow.
Mice scurry from the stone walls at night
in their thin fur hats
to eat the birdseed that has spilled.
And now my father, after a life of work,
wears a hat of earth,
and on top of that,
A lighter one of cloud and sky--a hat of wind.

Pictured above is my grandfather, Paul-Hector Fortier, aka Onesime but known in our household, to my parents as Hector—to me, he was Grandpa. In his arms is J. Hector-Louis-Ovide Fortier, known to me as Uncle Louis. The pose—a man, holding an infant son—is striking for the times.

Hector was twenty-five; Uncle Louis was six months. The year was 1908. They were in in Letellier, Manitoba, Canada, living on a farm. Or they may have been in Provencher nearby on another farm. I can't pin them down at this period. 

The hat is positioned at a jaunty angle; I wonder why? Was it was deliberately positioned so the photo would reveal his hair? He had expressive eyebrows that didn't change as he aged.  

Uncle Louis appears to be sitting on his father’s arm. You could mistake him for a girl, with the longish hair, the curls, and the dress. He would have three more children who lived to adulthood and three children who died in infancy. 

By the time I was born, my grandfather was fifty-nine. I never saw him wearing a hat like this one. It may have been borrowed from the photographer. In most of the pictures I have, he was hatless. His hair was gray and wavy. 

Hector was soft-spoken and quiet, deaf after about the age of sixty with ugly beige plastic hearing aids protruding from each ear, huge and ineffective. He didn’t understand much English and only spoke a few words himself. Our communication was limited to the bare necessities but I felt his love in his looks and his interest in my little accomplishments. He showed his love rather than talked about it. 

Grab your hat and head over to Sepia Saturday for other Sepians interpretation of this week's action-packed prompt. 

Would you believe me if I said I forgot to include this Billy Collin's poem?


The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read,
never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,
not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,
well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart. 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Sepia Saturday 375: My Goose is Cooked

We've had record-breaking heat around here and who would think about turning on the oven and roasting a goose when it's 100 degrees outside?

I blame the prompt which disappeared before I could copy and paste it here. In the copy accompanying the picture, goose fat was suggested in jest as an accessory for a dip in a cold lake. 

Yes, the man diving into the lake is a cool and refreshing image, perfect for July. I did enjoy that photo and the stimulation of attempting to identify the lake in California the scene was on. The trees around the lake look like they are suffering either from beetle infestation or fire, both of which are regular occurrences in California. I did manage to find a weak grandfather, mother and her two sisters at the beach. The men's bathing suits are similar. My grandfather's was of a later vintage. 
But the comment about rubbing your body with goose fat interested me, far more than the diver did. Sorry old chap. Googling goose fat (for a food person) was like falling down a rabbit hole. Two hours later I emerged from the website of the Goose Fat Information service, older and wiser. The entertaining English chef Mike Robinson hosted the site (which seems to have begun and ended in 2009) with lovely recipes and a video of himself roasting potatoes. I found the video informative but also astonishing. He cooks the potatoes in about a quart of goose fat . They should have linked to a cardiologists website too!!

Here you can link to the service and read the recipes. And the video...

I worked for the California Egg Commission during the height of the cholesterol madness, for Lawry's Foods (seasoned salt) and for Equal when it was being reviled everywhere for all manner of problems. So, it interests me when I see others in the same position. At a culinary school lecture once, the students called me an apologist for the egg industry and compare me with someone selling cigarettes. I never got booed, but the audience was close a couple of times. People get passionate about these things. 

Mike's recipes are fun to read. His writing is breezy and casual— different from our American recipe writing style. Compare to Mike, we are painfully stiff and serious about writing instructions. There are rules, mostly promulgated by the food editors of food magazines and it would be impossible to have a recipe published years ago if one didn't conform. The internet changed all of that. Thousands of food bloggers now write whatever they want. Mike has a good time and invites us to have a good time too. He "tosses" ingredients into pots and pans, "scatters" garnishes and for doneness—"prods food with a good deal of assertion." 

Once I wrote a recipe for the exterior

of a box, instructing the reader to prick the bottom of a pastry shell before baking. My boss, who I concluded had never read a recipe in his life, blushing from his shirt collar to his hairline, told me I couldn't use the word "prick." Even though I showed him many illustrations of the word used as a culinary term, he couldn't stand it. We said, "pierce with the tines of a fork." I wonder how Mike would have put it.

In the end, I read that long distance swimmers, particularly Channel swimmers use Vaseline all over the bodies instead of goose fat, which was abandoned years ago—too heavy, smelly and not enough lubricity. It's used to protect against chafing, not for retaining body heat. Chafing is one of the major problems with executing 50,000 or so strokes for a channel crossing.

But that's another rabbit hole to go down. For now, I'm joining the cats in my pool.