March 2019

A Horticultural and Culinary Triumph

In the Libertarian Bible, Christ auctioned off the loaves and fishes.

Ever since i put my prized Pachypodium brevicaule out on the public patio so it could get enough sun to bloom and it promptly got watered to death, my favorite houseplant is my Epiphyllum anguliger, which has bloomed faithfully for me for the past five years. For the last two years, i’ve put it out on the public patio the night it bloomed so that the folks here could see the huge blossoms and smell their fragrance.

For the last three years, something has pollinated it, and it has set fruit that ripened to maturity.

The first time i harvested the fruit, i edited the Wikipedia entry above with a description of the fruit and added a photo of a fruit split to show the interior. Then i gobbled it up. I just ate the next one, too. But this year, there were two. And then i realized that i could turn this into an extravaganza, especially since i’ve lived here long enough that the other inhabitants have begun to humor me when i go on these flings.

So i invited Joann to join me for the harvest and to share it with me. Of course i used my finest china and plated each fruit alongside the spent, dried blossom that had hung onto it since last fall .

Then i sliced each in two and served the halves.

Epiphyllum fruit

The skin is tough enough that you can’t cut through it with the rounded edge of that little pickle fork, but that’s just as well since, the fruit being only about an inch and a half long, an entire half constitutes a modest bite, and the skin can be easily chewed up with the rest. One last note, prompted by Joann’s reaction to her first taste, is that i got a bit overexcited when i was editing the Wikipedia some years ago and described the taste as “delicious”. I need to go back in there and change that to “tasty” although “surprisingly good” might be even more accurate.

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Yikes! As of 20 March 2019, something has bitten my website so that many features no longer work, images no longer show up, and the home page is hopelessly messed up. I’m working on this. Please be patient.

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I’m not actually dead yet, but there’s lotsa stuff wrong with me besides simple old age, and even though the odds are very, very low that i’ll drop dead tomorrow, i figured i’d go ahead and post my obituary so i don’t have to risk someone else screwing it up.  Besides, we see all too few obits nowadays written in the first person.  Think of this as a pre-need obit like my pre-need arrangement with the Neptune Society.

Matte Gray 1941-2019 aged 78 and astonished that i lived so long.

I’ll start with a blanket apology to all those i’ve wronged.  Has to be blanket because otherwise this part would run to too many pages.  Well, at least if it listed all the individual wrongs that i review instead of sleeping.  Isabella Allende remarked on the death of Roberto Bolaño, “Dying does not make you a nicer person.”  True enough, but at least it prevents you from committing more wrongs.

When you write your own obit, you have to guess about the cause of death, but here are some options, some more likely than others:

Burned at the stake for heresy

A surfeit of nightingale’s tongues

Under the wheels of the F Market

An overdose of chocolate ice cream

“Removed” by a CIA drone strike

Rescuing a damsel in distress

While swimming back from the Farallones

Eaten by a school of piranha

Under interrogation

Apoplexy while listening to Donald Trump

Consumed by a leopard seal on the south coast of Antarctica

Electrocuted by my Prius

Pork belly

A fall from the balcony of the Castro Theater

In a secret CIA cell

On a hot date with Sage Northcutt

Replacing the batteries in OR-7‘s collar

While watching Roger Federer win another major

In a federal prison for applauding Edward Snowden

Or in the worst case scenario, something boring like a runaway illness.

Others conquered countries, wrote acclaimed novels, won international prizes, made millions of dollars, had illustrious careers, and were survived by a dozen loving grandchildren.  Me, i was just a B+ kind of guy whose only achievement was this website, so i hope you got some entertainment out of it because i sure enjoyed writing it.

Subsisted on crumbs?  Sure, but i brought some pleasure to a good many people, stayed out of jail, outlived my enemies, and was survived by a dwindling handful of loyal friends and my beloved sister, who gets any leftover money.

Oh, and i can’t go much into this lest it be “coat tailing”, but in the last year i developed even more medical problems.  And my legs continued to get weaker and weaker, leaving me more and more dependent on the Segway and, since my upper body strength has dwindled, reduced to using folding aluminum ramps to get it into the back of the Prius when i need to take it out of town.

I’m hoping that it’ll be my abdominal aortal aneurysm popping because the sharp pain will get my attention, but i’ll remain conscious a couple of minutes, long enough to have a deathbed conversion and embrace Jesus as my personal savior, thus insuring an eternity in heaven in case it’s still there.  To touch all bases, i’ll also explain to Allah and Vishnu that i was just kidding in that loose talk about atheism and actually think they’re wonderful entities entirely worthy of my worship and surely they won’t mind my side bet on Jesus.

I had put way too much thought into trying to arrange to keep this website up for a little while after my sister has cancelled my credit cards, but then it finally sank in that since my readership has not soared out of the hundreds, the people have spoken and i’ll just let the site die when Sonic’s last bill bounces.  So if you want to copy a recipe or something, you should go ahead and do it now.  The odds are good that i’ll have another birthday, but they’re excellent that there’ll be very few of ’em.

Oh, and i’ll keep posting until i can no longer reach the keyboard.


Meanwhile, when visiting my friend Nina in Kaiser, i affix the Segway to a handsome bike rack.


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The Marine

Semper Fi

Allen came to San Francisco to live with me in 1979 and after a honeymoon right here for a couple of months, answered a want ad for a commercial artist placed by a large plastics company down the peninsula in Redwood City. The job was just temporary to help the art department through a backlog, but at the end of the interview they offered it to him and he took it. He was so talented and so charismatic that the the other five artists (and later their spouses/girlfriends since they were all straight) were so enraptured with him that they started organizing events after work and on weekends as an excuse to see more of him out of the office. Have you ever had a job in which you met after work with almost all of your colleagues?

I felt quite lucky to be caught up in the whirlwind with these fun-loving people, outrageous and given to elaborate practical jokes.Allen and i were almost miraculously compatible, and the longer we were together the better it became. Case in point: when our first Halloween together came, i was trying to figure out what to do as a costume for a party and hit upon just wearing my Army dress blues that i’d not yet got around to selling. So i put them on and pranced into Allen’s room to show him. Wow! Turned out that Allen had a bit of a uniform fetish. Actually, quite a bit, and i had to call him off to keep from messing up the uniform before the party. After that, he sometimes prevailed upon me to wear them at home.

At that time Allen and i were living in the upper unit of a two-flat Victorian on 18th Street. It was over a garage at ground level, and to reach the upper flat you had to climb almost two floors of stairs to a landing and then turn left for a few more steps into the flat. Fortunately, the flat was equipped with one of those door release levers at the landing so that if someone rang your doorbell, you could just step down to the landing and push the lever to open the front door so you could see who was there and either invite them in or tell them to go away and lift the lever to close the door. Sure did beat running up and down two floors of stairs every time someone was at the door.

Early one evening when i’d beat Allen home from work, the doorbell rang. I stepped to the landing and flung the door open to reveal, resplendent in crisply tailored class A’s, a handsome young Marine. My jaw dropped. He inquired whether Allen were home, and i told him no. Then he said that he was a recruiter who’d been given Allen’s name.

Even way back then i couldn’t think fast enough. What i should have done was tell him to come back tomorrow after 6:30 when Allen would be here (and could enjoy the visit). I’d let him tell the Marine that he was a veteran of the Army, forty years old, and not Marine material, being gay.

What i in fact did was tell the Marine was that i didn’t think Allen was interested, whereupon the Marine inquired, “Are you his father?”

I just kept being fed opportunities for excellent lines and muffing them. The obvious reply was, “No, i’m his lover, and aren’t you a handsome one.”

But i just said i was his roommate and that he was an Army veteran and forty, so there had to be some kind of mistake, when in fact i’d figured out that one of the artists had doubtless given the Marines Allen’s name. And that was that for the marine.

Meanwhile, yeah yeah, they’re common as dirt, but i just love it that Aloe nobilis blooms in the late winter…in its dress reds.

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