We have returned to Yangon (Rangoon) briefly and the internet works well, so here are two photos, not yet processed (i.e., Photoshopped) in any way.
Fishermen at Inle Lake
Baby biker in Nyaung Shwe
We are on the road in Southeast Asia, current in Bagan, Myanmar (Burma). I have already taken hundreds of photos I was planning to share on this blog but I can’t download them to the site for “security reasons,” whatever that means. I don’t know if the problem is with Word Press, an internet connection that is considered sub-par or something more serious due to Myanmar politics. I will try later to post photos on my Facebook author’s page, which does not require that you be a FB friend to read it. You can find me at Alexis Rankin Popik, Author.
I didn’t tell you this before.
There has been a lot of hoo-ha in the news this week about why women don’t tell others about inappropriate sexual advances. Most women understand this because it has happened to almost all of us. Unwanted physical advances are so common that unless they are certifiably criminal assaults, no one reports them. Certainly the men who initiate them aren’t going to tell and for the women who endure the degradation of being groped, they are often embarrassed and angry at themselves for not being able to avoid the situation.
My experiences with sexual harassment in the workplace were run-of-the mill. There was lots of leering and suggestive comments; one guy where I worked during the summer used to sneak up on me and grab me around the waist. This was supposed to be “a joke.” One manager used to close his office door and put his arms around me. It was really difficult because I liked the guy and I knew if I reminded him that this was inappropriate we would never be friends again. I didn’t want to embarrass him so I let myself be embarrassed. Once a boss slapped me on the butt with a file folder as he walked by. I brooded about it for a couple of days, then told him that I never wanted him to do anything like that again. He denied it; he said I was imagining things. Two days later I was terminated.
Donald Trump’s alleged assaults are particularly vulgar and egregious. There is one thing the guy is clearly good at: picking the weak out of the herd. The women who came forward this past week were very young and/or needed a job. Men like Trump use their power and their victims’ vulnerability to get what they want–though is it really gratification that these predators want? Is it sexually exciting to reach under the skirt of a stranger in a nightclub? Or is it even more thrilling to be a physically bigger man who can get away with it and therefore make himself feel powerful?
Family Dinner in Maine
We’ve all heard the expression, “Food is Love.” In the Sixties, a famous Pillsbury slogan was “Nothin’ says lovin’ like somethin’ from the oven.” Last Friday my husband, Bill, read to me a “What to Cook This Weekend” column by Sam Sifton of the New York Times. I had never heard of Mr. Sifton or of his column and was very impressed by his writing skill and literary references to Autumn (Thomas Wolfe—la-di-da!). Bill decided immediately to go to the grocery store and pick up ingredients for the Apple Green-Chile Pie with Cheddar Crust.
I cannot remember if or when I ever wanted to spend an afternoon trying out a new recipe “for fun.” Eating for fun: yes. Cooking for fun: not really. In some families, food is love or, more accurately, cooking and serving food is a way of expressing love. Think of the place that preparing meals and enjoying them together holds in so many cultures. I grew up in a predominately Italian community and always looked forward to dinners at Mrs. Bertuccelli’s table. My Croatian Grandma Angela Juracich was also a fantastic cook and effortlessly turn out meals for my father’s large extended family.
My mother came from Irish stock; I’ve never heard anyone rave about the pleasures of Irish cuisine. Mom cooked because she was a good mother and took her responsibilities seriously. Meals were fresh and nutritious but though there was plenty of love going on in our house, it didn’t turn up via meals. Bill’s family is different. He remembers his mother as a fantastic cook who loved to cook meals for large groups. He and his sister, Sue, are both wonderful cooks and love to talk about food. It is one of their many bonds.. Bill taught my daughter, Sara, to cook when she was a little girl and regularly exchanges recipes and food photos with our niece, Angela, another one of his cooking buddies.
There are lots of ways of expressing love. One way is by saying, “I love you.” I like this one because it doesn’t involve grocery shopping. But “lovin’ from the oven” is pretty darn effective, too. Apple Green-Chile Pie, anyone?
Suzanna Elkin, Nelson Foster, Nate Popik
There is something about weddings that lends itself to thinking in clichés. Watching our youngest son at his wedding last week got me thinking about all the life events that lie ahead for the newly married couple and how, for my husband and me, those events are behind us and our forty years of our marriage is flying by. Where did the time go? (cliché).
Of course, it’s not true that time passes at the same speed throughout life. I remember staring at the clock in elementary school, when all the days were endless. The late poet Richard Brautigan summed it up with the line, “My teachers could have ridden with Jesse James for all the time they stole from me.” And it seemed like an eternity until our infants’ first smiles. But after 30, like a snowball rolling down a hill (cliché), time picked up speed (cliché) and now raising children, striving and careers are behind us and we’re enjoying our “golden years” (cliché).
Ruminating about this for the past two weeks and reading about others’ life philosophies led me to a couple of wonderful quotations. One is attributed to Confucius: “Life is really simple but we insist on making it complicated.” The other, more useful quote is from Buddha: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” Sounds like a plan.
Last weekend our son Nathaniel (Nate) Popik married Suzanna Elkin at a beach wedding in Stonington, Maine, surrounded by family, friends and the occasional passing lobster boat. As promised, here are some photos from the happy occasion.
The wedding arch built by Nate, decorated by friends and visited by a hummingbird early in the ceremony.
Suzanna, accompanied by her brother David, walks to the site.
The Elkin-Phoenix Clan
The Popik-Mekjavich Clan
For some reason, Augie, Elliott and Kamiko decided to sell apples to the wedding guests.
Nate and Suzanna taking in the scene of their families and friends.
The toasts and roasts commence.
I am taking the weekend off to celebrate the marriage of our son, Nate Popik, to Suzanna Elkin. Against all odds, Nate, who was raised in California and Connecticut and settled down in Burlington, Vermont, met Suzanna, who was raised in Maine and has lived in Massachusetts, Mexico and other parts of the world, when she showed up to rent a room in his house in Burlington. This might be unremarkable except for the fact that Nate’s and Suzanna’s fathers were friends and colleagues in the Family Practice Program at UC San Francisco in the 1970’s. In fact, one of our first dates was a party at Suzanna’s parents’ house in San Francisco in 1975. If I believed in fate, I’d say these two were destined to marry.
In keeping with their temperaments and preferences, Suzanna and Nate’s wedding will be a simple affair conducted by a Buddhist and attended by lots and lots of family and friends from near and far. Photos to follow.
Mole and Molehill
Why make mountains out of molehills? Sometimes there are items I would like to share that don’t lend themselves to an entire blog. Here are a few of them with links where appropriate:
15 WAYS TO BE A BETTER PERSON
Before you groan, “Oh, spare me!” just read this. It’s good. And short.
FAVORITE AUDIOBOOK SERIES
Most of my audiobooks are mysteries. My mind wanders too easily to listen to non-fiction or even novels when I drive. My current favorite author is Denise Mina, whose Alex Morrow mysteries are so good that sometimes I drive just a little farther so I can get to the end of a chapter. Another good series: the Venice mysteries by Donna Leon.
AN ENTERTAINING BLOG
Somehow I got connected to the blog Cup of Jo by Joanna Goddard. It shows up in my email once a week and is characterized as a “Lifestyle Blog” concerned with Style, Culture, Motherhood, Travel, Food & Life. It is more than that. Cup of Jo has lots of useful information and I always read it.
EXCELLENT PHOTO SITE
If you like wildlife photography, check out www.popics.me. Okay, so it’s my husband’s website but he’s a really good photographer. Photos include animals and landscapes from Yosemite, Botswana, Namibia, Tanzania, Madagascar, Bhutan, Tibet, Nepal and Antarctica.
Val’s heirloom tomatoes
Gardening for many people is a cure for depression, a calming and even cheering activity. That is true for me except towards the end of August, when the angle of light changes, the echinacea dries out, daylily blooms give way to wrinkly green blobs, the seasonal birds start leaving; the whole end of summer is disheartening. It will be another six to eight weeks until fall color kicks in and last year’s sweaters will begin to look inviting. The dog days of summer are hard on flower gardeners because we watch all that we planted and tended wither and die, or at least look as good as dead. Last week I saw a goldfinch picking seeds out of a dried flowerhead and it gave me a temporary boost, but it takes a relentlessly positive outlook to enjoy the waning of one’s garden–especially if, as in New England, six months of winter lie ahead.
But all is not discouraging. In late August, there’s another time-honored way to ward off The Glums: the end-of-summer harvest of home-grown tomatoes, cukes, corn and all the other tasty bits from the kitchen garden. It’s enough to turn one into a temporary vegetarian.
Photos of her vegetable garden by Valerie Knott, gardener extraordinaire.