A Titanic Exhibit / Un Exposición Titánico

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

WHEN THE BLOCKBUSTER film “Titanic” was released in 1997, San Geraldo’s mother Alice was visiting us in San Diego. It turned out to be one of my all-time, LEAST-liked films. OK. I thought the sets were exceptional but that was it. I hated the story line, the writing, even the acting. By the time the ship hit the iceberg I thought, “Oh, get on with it.” I felt about ready to explode. So, sitting between the tear-filled San Geraldo and Alice, clutching handkerchiefs to their eyes, was just too much for me. As the ship began its climb to vertical, I couldn’t take it anymore. I turned to San Geraldo and I muttered, “The ship DOES sink!” (And he let me live to tell the tale.)

You DO know, don’t you, that there was room on that floating door for 17-year-old Rose and Jack… both? Oh, and THEN 100-year-old Rose went and tossed that multi-million-dollar diamond into the ocean!

ANYWAY, I WENT THURSDAY with my pal Luke and his parents to see “Europe’s largest” Lego exhibit. Among the creative constructions, we found the Titanic — all 500,000 pieces. But not Rose’s diamond.

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CUANDO LA PELÍCULA “Titanic” se estrenó en 1997, Alice, la madre de San Geraldo, nos visitaba en San Diego. Resultó ser una de mis películas menos favoritas. Pensé que los escenas eran excepcionales pero eso fue todo. Odiaba la trama, la escritura, incluso la actuación. Cuando el barco golpeó el iceberg, pensé: “Oh, sigue adelante”. Sentí que estaba a punto de explotar. Así que, sentarme entre las lágrimas de San Geraldo y Alice, apretando sus pañuelos a sus ojos, era demasiado para mí. Cuando el barco comenzó su ascenso a la vertical, no pude soportarlo más. Me dirigí a San Geraldo y murmuré: “¡El barco SE DETIENE!” (Y él me dejó vivir para contarlo).

Sabes, ¿verdad, que había espacio en la puerta flotante para los dos, Rose, de 17 años y Jack — los dos? ¡Ah, y ENTONCES Rose de 100 años arrojó ese diamante multimillonario al mar!

DE CUALQUIER MANERA, FUI el jueves con mi compadre Luke y sus padres para ver la exhibición de Lego “más grande de Europa”. Entre las construcciones creativas, encontramos el Titanic — todas las 500.000 piezas. Pero no el diamante de Rose.

Fluffo, In The Gay Kitchen Canister / Fluffo En El Bote Gay De Cocina

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

San Geraldo has been doing some Christmas baking. I’ll of course tell you about that and share photos, but today I want to talk about Fluffo. While San Geraldo was looking through his mother’s old recipes, he found a pie crust recipe that called for “3/4 cup Fluffo.”

I had never heard of Fluffo, which was a type of shortening (it’s apparently still sold in Canada). But the name made me laugh. Then, San Geraldo, looked it up and found an old TV commercial, which made me laugh even more. We don’t have Fluffo, but our kitchen canisters are of course gay.

San Geraldo ha estado haciendo algún horneado navideño. Por supuesto, te contaré eso y compartiré fotos, pero hoy quiero hablar sobre Fluffo. Mientras San Geraldo estaba revisando las recetas de su madre, encontró una receta de masa de tarta que pedía “Fluffo 3/4 de taza”.

Nunca había oído hablar de Fluffo, que era un tipo de manteca (aparentemente todavía se vende en Canadá). Pero el nombre me hizo reír. Luego, San Geraldo, lo buscó y encontró un viejo anuncio televisivo, que me hizo reír aún más. No tenemos Fluffo, pero nuestros botes de cocina por supuesto son “gay.” (En inglés, “gay” solía significar “despreocupado, alegre, brillante y vistoso“.)

I know for certain my mother never used Fluffo. If she had, she would have saved every gay canister! / Sé que mi madre nunca usó Fluffo. ¡Si lo hubiera hecho, habría salvado todos los botes gay!


Teaser: What San Geraldo has cooking at the moment. / Teaser: Lo que San Geraldo tiene cocinando en este momento.

Population: 109 / Población: 109

I’ve told this long story before, but only in English. Here it is in English followed by Spanish.
He contado esta larga historia antes, pero solo en inglés. Aquí está en inglés seguido de español.


“Jerry,” I whispered, “I have to pee.” “Here,” smiled his mother from behind me as she offered me an empty Maxwell House can.

It was my first visit to the Midwest. We were fishing for walleyes and crappies (pronounced croppies), fish that don’t swim in the waters of Long Island and Brooklyn, where I had grown up.

We sat in the only boat, in the middle of the only lake in the town of Ihlen, Minnesota. Population 109. 

Jerry and I had been together 10 months. He had met my parents when they paid us a visit in Boston. So, we decided it was time for me to meet his parents.

We had left Boston five days earlier for a week of home-cooked meals, home movies, photo albums, and fishing. A chance for me to get to know Jerry’s parents. A chance for them to get to know me. 

It had been an exceptional week — up until that moment. My upbringing had not prepared me for that moment. 

In my family, there was an unwritten law that men did not ‘go to the bathroom’ in front of women. Nor, for that matter, in front of men. 

In my family, toilets flushed and did not have “Good to the last drop” printed on the side. 

We sat in Jerry’s father’s tiny fishing boat on a late-spring afternoon. A light breeze played with the leaves in the old oak trees before gently dancing across the lake, a breeze just cool enough to keep the mosquitoes at bay. 

I HAD just drained my third can of beer when I whispered to Jerry.

Jim — a big man with a voice to match — sat in back holding his fishing rod, a devilish smile playing at the corners of his lips, a glint in his brown eyes as they peeked from under his John Deere cap. 

Jerry held a worm between his fingers, about to bait his hook. 

Alice, her green eyes catching the colors in the sky and water, her blond curls bursting forward from the snug-fitting hood of her navy blue sweatshirt, still held the coffee can in her large Norwegian hand. 

And I sat, mortified, desperately trying to hold my water. “I can’t go in that!” 

“Why not?” asked Jerry — knowing full well why not. 

“Well, not in front of your mother!” 

“I’ll turn my back,” Alice offered. 

‘Oh, isn’t she helpful,’ I thought. 

“I can’t. You’ll still hear it,” I sputtered. 

My face must have been as red as the night crawler Jerry now gleefully impaled on his hook. 

“So, just go over the side into the lake,” Alice suggested. Jerry nodded his agreement. And, for the first time, I noticed they had the same sinister smile. 

There was an interminable silence as I tried to regain control of my lungs. I must have looked a fool, sitting there with this family of evil Midwesterners, my face red with embarrassment, my legs clamped tightly together. 

Then Jim, still smiling (but was it malevolently now?), gently set down his rod and reel and tugged on the outboard motor. 

“Where are we going?” asked Jerry.

“To shore,” replied Jim. “There’s a biffy on the south side of the lake.” 

“A biffy!” Jerry squawked. “You never took us to shore! We always used the coffee can.” 

‘Oh, God,’ that couldn’t possibly be the same coffee can that Jerry and his sisters had used. Could it?!?

“Well, Gerald, Mitchell here is a city kid. You can’t expect him to do everything our way the first time out. We’ve got to introduce him to this stuff gradually.” Jim lectured, but I could hear the repressed laughter in his voice as he motored us to shore. 

‘What’s a biffy?’ I wondered as I peered into the dark trees in the distance. And then I saw it. 

‘An outhouse?!?’ My heart sank and I thought, ‘He expects me to go in that?!?”

But, I didn’t have much choice. It was the outhouse or the coffee can. 

When we reached shore, I leapt from the boat and ran to the outhouse. I pulled the door shut behind me. Of course there was no lock. I hoped the 109 residents of the town of Ihlen, Minnesota, had their own outhouses. 

I looked up. ‘At least there’s ventilation,’ I thought. 

But, the tiny screen windows above my head did nothing to lessen the stench from the fetid mass in the hole below. I unzipped and then held my breath as I emptied my full-to-bursting bladder. 

Mosquitoes buzzed in my ears and hungrily fed wherever I could not reach with my free hand to swat them away. The pheasants cried. 

I dreaded the thought of returning to the three snickering people waiting in the only boat, on the shore of the only lake in the town of Ihlen, Minnesota. Population 109.

At Alice and Jim’s, Pipestone, Minnesota (Population: 4,034). /  En la casa de Alice y Jim, Pipestone, Minnesota (Población: 4034).


“Jerry”, susurré, “Tengo que orinar”. “Aquí”, sonrió su madre detrás de mí mientras me ofrecía una lata vacía de Café de Maxwell House.

Fue mi primera visita al medio oeste. Íbamos a pescar “walleyes” y “crappies,” peces que no nadan en las aguas de Long Island y Brooklyn, donde yo había crecido. Nos sentamos en el único barco, en medio del único lago en el pueblo de Ihlen, Minnesota. Población 109.

Jerry y yo habíamos estado juntos por 10 meses. Conoció a mis padres cuando nos visitaron en Boston. Entonces, decidimos que era el tiempo de conocer a sus padres.

Habíamos salido de Boston cinco días antes durante una semana de comidas caseras, películas caseras, álbumes de fotos, y pesca. Una oportunidad para que yo conozca a los padres de Jerry. Una oportunidad para que me conozcan.

Había sido una semana excepcional hasta ese momento. Mi educación no me había preparado para ese momento.

En mi familia, existía una ley no escrita de que los hombres no “iban al baño” frente a las mujeres. Tampoco, por cierto, frente a los hombres.

En mi familia, los inodoros se vaciaron y no tenían “Bueno hasta la última gota” impresa en el lateral.

Nos sentamos en el pequeño bote de pesca del padre de Jerry en una tarde de primavera. Una brisa ligera jugó con las hojas en los robles viejos antes de bailar suavemente a través del lago, una brisa que se enfría lo suficiente como para mantener a los mosquitos alejados.

ACABA DE vaciar mi tercera lata de cerveza cuando le susurré a Jerry.

Jim, un hombre grande con una voz para emparejar, se sentó en la espalda con su caña de pescar, con una sonrisa diabólica jugando en las comisuras de sus labios, un destello en sus ojos marrones cuando se asomaron debajo de su gorra de “John Deere”.

Jerry sostuvo un gusano entre sus dedos, a punto de cebar su anzuelo.

Alice, con sus ojos verdes atrapando los colores en el cielo y el agua, sus rizos rubios brotando de la cómoda capucha de su sudadera azul marino, todavía sostenía la lata de café en su gran mano noruega.

Y me senté, mortificada, tratando desesperadamente de retener mi agua. “¡No puedo ir en eso!”

“¿Por qué no?”, Preguntó Jerry, sabiendo muy bien por qué no.

“Bueno, no delante de tu madre!”

“Voy a dar la espalda”, se ofreció Alice.

‘Oh, ¿no es ella útil?’, pensé.

“No puedo. Aún lo oirás “, balbuceé.

Mi cara debe haber estado tan roja como el gusano Jerry ahora alegremente empalado en su gancho.

“Entonces, solo ve por el lado hacia el lago,” sugirió Alice. Jerry asintió con la cabeza. Y, por primera vez, noté que tenían la misma sonrisa siniestra.

Hubo un silencio interminable mientras intentaba recuperar el control de mis pulmones. Debo haber parecido un tonto, sentado allí con esta familia de malvados del medio oeste, con la cara enrojecida por la vergüenza, las piernas apretadas con fuerza.

Entonces Jim, todavía sonriendo (pero ¿era malévolo ahora?), dejó suavemente su caña y carrete y tiró del motor fueraborda.

“¿A dónde vamos?” preguntó Jerry.

“A la orilla”, respondió Jim. “Hay un biffy en el lado sur del lago”.

“¡El biffy!” se quejo. “¡Nunca nos llevaste a la orilla! Siempre usábamos la lata de café.

“Oh, Dios”, ese no podría ser la misma lata de café que Jerry y sus hermanas habían usado, ¿verdad?

“Bueno, Gerald, Mitchell aquí es un niño de ciudad. No puedes esperar que él haga todo a nuestra manera la primera vez. Tenemos que presentarle estas cosas gradualmente ”. Jim dio una conferencia, pero pude escuchar la risa reprimida en su voz cuando nos llevó a la orilla.

‘¿Qué es un biffy?’ Me pregunté mientras miraba los oscuros árboles en la distancia. Y luego lo vi.

‘¿Una casa de huéspedes?!?’ Mi corazón se hundió y pensé: ‘¿Se supone que debo ir en eso?

Pero, no tuve mucha opción. Era el biffy o la lata de café.

Cuando llegamos a la orilla, salté del bote y corrí al biffy. Cerré la puerta detrás de mí. Por supuesto que no había cerradura. Esperaba que los 109 residentes del pueblo de Ihlen, Minnesota, tuvieran sus propias biffys.

Miré hacia arriba. ‘Al menos hay ventilación’, pensé.

Pero, las pequeñas ventanas de la pantalla sobre mi cabeza no hicieron nada para disminuir el hedor de la masa fétida en el agujero de abajo. Lo descomprimí y luego contuve la respiración mientras vaciaba mi vejiga llena.

Los mosquitos zumbaban en mis oídos y se alimentaban con avidez donde no podía alcanzar con mi mano libre para aplastarlos. Los faisanes lloraban.

Temía la idea de volver a las tres personas que se reían en el único bote, en la orilla del único lago en la ciudad de Ihlen, Minnesota. Población 109.

For Breakfast Or For Acking-Snay

BANANA FUDGE CAKE.

San Geraldo’s mother, Alice, had a dear friend named Sharon. Sharon was not a cook. Sharon was so much not a cook that I in comparison am Julia Child.

Sharon had Froot Loops for breakfast every morning. She called it her three servings of fruit.

I knew it was really only three servings of “froot.”

Speaking of fruit servings, downstairs at BarBoru, Chef Robbie likes us to try out everything he bakes. It kind of, almost, defeats the purpose of my long walks. Or maybe it makes my long walks all the more important.

I’ve told Robbie he can’t keep doing this to us. Sometimes he listens. But sometimes his baked goods include fruit and he explains that it’s important to have several servings per day.


(Click the images for more fruit.)

STRAWBERRY CAKE (OR PIE OR SOMETHING).
APPLE TART. 
WALNUTS ARE VERY NUTRITIOUS.
APPLE PIE.
FRUITY CHEESECAKE.
CHOCOLATE IS A FRUIT, ISN’T IT?

Oot-fray Oops-lay…

One-Card Poker Face

The game is called One Card and this is the way San Geraldo’s South Dakota family plays it.

  • Each player is given three pennies (that’s three one-cent coins for my non-American readers)
  • Each player is dealt one card, face down. 
  • Ace is high. Two is low. The goal is to NOT end up with the highest card. 
  • The first player looks at their card and decides if they want to keep it or trade with the next player (if it’s a high card you usually pass it, low card you keep it). 
  • If the next player has to trade a low card for a high card, they will usually then trade that higher card with the next player. 
  • If a player is happy with their card, they simply say (smugly) “I’m good” and don’t trade with the next player. 
  • However, a player cannot refuse to trade cards with the previous player unless they have a King.  If a player has a King, they hold up the card and very obnoxiously make a loud buzzer sound (the best part of the game) to indicate that the preceding player is stuck with the card they don’t want. 
  • Once play circles the table and returns to the dealer, the dealer can choose to keep the card or draw another card from the deck. 
  • Whoever ends up with the highest card has to throw one of their pennies into the middle of the table. If there’s a tie for high card, each player must forfeit a penny. 
  • Once you lose all three pennies, you play on your “reputation” until you lose another hand. 
  • The last player to remain (either with pennies or on their reputation) wins. 

In September, we played at nephew and niece-in-law, Ryan and Emily’s house. As each player was knocked out, they kept someone else company. Our great-nieces (really, really great) traveled around the table. Their older brother (also really and truly great) played quietly… and stewed when he lost.

GREAT UNCLE JERRY CONSIDERS TRADING WITH ELOISE.
“ARE YOU SURE YOU WANT TO TRADE?”
ALICE GETS A CARD THAT’S NOT REALLY HIGH AND NOT REALLY LOW.
“KEEP OR TRADE?”
UNCLE JERRY: “YOU TWO ARE GIVING ME AWAY!
EITHER WORK ON YOUR POKER FACES OR LOOK SOMEWHERE ELSE!”
ELOISE MOVED ON TO GRANDMA… AND GRANDMA MOVED ON TO HER REPUTATION.

Can’t read my, can’t read my… No he can’t read my poker face…

Traveling With A Saint

We arrived home to Málaga yesterday (Tuesday) morning. I feel great at the moment. Well, not at this specific moment. OK, now I feel great again. But only at the moment. Jet lag and two months of non-stop activity and travel.

I have four gazillion photos to sort through and then share. But, don’t worry, I plan to hone that down to under three gazillion. Today I’ll simply share what it looks like to travel with San Geraldo.

It’s a good thing I don’t care about what anyone thinks (within reason).

On the other hand, San Geraldo is clearly without reason.

AMAZINGLY, NOT SAN GERALDO UNDER THAT BLANKET.
FLYING FROM NEW YORK TO MINNEAPOLIS.
COMING IN FROM THE SCREEN PORCH AT NEPHEW AND
NIECE-IN-LAW’S, RYAN AND EMILY’S, SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA. 
GREAT-NIECES AND GREAT-NEPHEW (ELOISE, ALICE, AND BENNETT).
THEY WARMED THEIR BACKS AT THE FIREPLACE AND THEN WARMED SAN GERALDO.
(THAT’S AN ‘ELOISE’ STICKER ON HIS FOREHEAD.)
AT A SUPPER CLUB IN SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA (MORE ON THAT LATER).
I HAVE NO RECOLLECTION OF WHAT WAS GOING ON HERE. (TOWEL AND FAN BOTH?)
BALLARD, WASHINGTON (IN SEATTLE).
TOO COLD. NO HAT.
BALLARD (AGAIN).
TOO SUNNY. NO SUNGLASSES.
NEW YORK TO MÁLAGA.
OK, EVERYONE WAS COLD.
PHASE 2. IT GOT A LITTLE BETTER LATER IN THE FLIGHT.
FED UP WITH ME AND MY CAMERA: “UH, JERRY, MAYBE YOU
WANT TO TRY AGAIN… WITH THE CORRECT NUMBER OF FINGERS.”
“THAT’S MY BOY!”

The Inmates Are Running The Asylum

One day, our niece-in-law Emily emailed her daughter Alice’s teacher to let her know that Alice’s grandparents, Linda (San Geraldo’s sister) and Tom, would be picking her up from kindergarten the next afternoon.

Unnoticed by Emily as she typed, auto-correct changed “in-laws” to “inmates.” (Or at least that’s how Emily explained it to the teacher… and to Linda and Tom.)

Alice’s teacher believed Emily and didn’t call Social Services.

Linda was a second-grade teacher for more than 30 years. She loved her work and was exceptional at it. In addition to their granddaughter Alice (5), Linda and Tom have two other grandchildren, Eloise (8) and Bennett (11). They are the best grandparents, but Linda especially has the admiration of Tom and the rest of us. With her three grandchildren, she has unending love, patience, energy, and authority. If Grandma tells them once, they do it. (Alice is still training Grandpa.)

LINDA, OF COURSE.

Linda and Tom drive into Sioux Falls quite often to take care of the kids when Ryan and Emily have to travel or need some help.

SISTER LINDA AND SAN GERALDO.

Important Note:
No matter how exceptional Linda is, she is also, as I mentioned earlier, San Geraldo’s sister.

The same week as the “inmates” email, Emily told Linda that she was having some window treatments fixed in the house. She asked if Linda could be there once it was scheduled. Linda said of course she could.

The next day, Emily asked Linda if she was available to be at the house that afternoon when the blind man came.

Perplexed, Linda asked, “Why is a blind man coming to the house and what do you want me to do with him?”

FOR YEARS I’VE WONDERED WHY THEY WERE POSED ON THE STOOL.
I FINALLY REALIZED: TO KEEP THEIR EASTER SHOES CLEAN!

As Linda told us, “I guess it runs in the family.”

I am always aware that, in addition to the joy of having San Geraldo in my life, I have the added joy of Linda, Tom, and their loving family. Oh, and of course there’s their entertainment value.

Barry Manilow has a song called “Linda.”

Linda loves Barry Manilow.

But I just couldn’t bring myself to do it (even though Barry Manilow touched my shoulder in a restaurant in Palm Springs in 2001, and we had a run-in at Kennedy Airport in 1974.

(Click here for the run-in  — it’s a funny story — while you listen to “Jailhouse Rock” instead; Linda and Tom were two of the back-up dancers.)