I have been out with friends a few times the past week or two, and inevitably portions of the discussions involved COVID. I've started describing my experience with a breakthrough case as no big deal. After all, I thought my initial negative tests put me in the clear, and I'm an admitted wimp when I feel at all off.

But one of my friends correctly called me out. You said you felt lousy. And she was right, I did feel lousy. But the wimp thing comes up again - my lousy is probably not your lousy. Still, selective amnesia is an interesting thing. Our minds quickly try to help us recalibrate negative experiences. Yea, I felt lousy, but I don't want to know what kind of lousy I would have felt without the vaccines.

Dogs are the best. I just witnessed a 3-way stand-off - two medium-sized dogs and one small dog. I was really hoping for a Deus Ex Machina intervention - the theme from The Good The Bad and The Ugly blaring from the star-lit skies. I've never used that many dashes or hyphens or whatever you call them in a sentence. They confuse me, and I try to avoid them. Sort of like people. (I kid.) None of the dogs were ugly; the little one was the most vocal.

A friend of mine got a managing gig at a great Capitol Hill neighborhood bar. A homecoming of sorts. I can't remember if that's where he got his bartending start, but it was early enough in his career that he remembers it as a key step. He asked me if I'd be up for taking some photos of their cocktail lineup. I said yes, but I first tried to talk him into hiring a professional industry/food/beverage photographer. They are incredible, and they can choreograph a full campaign that has people thinking man, I want to go there. (Hello JennaLynnPhotog.)

I knew what the answer would be. Naah, we just need some photos. Ok, I'm happy to do it, but anyone with a modern smartphone can take yea that drink looks good Instagram photos. If you're going to pour those drinks, you want to hire someone who understands food/beverage styling, you want to allow for plenty of time (cold drinks get ugly fast), and you want to schedule the shoot when you have great light.

That was out of budget for my friend. He was, understandably, trying to kill two birds with one stone: teach his new bartenders the drink menu and the stories behind the cocktails (loved hearing those stories) and simultaneously get some photos. Very understandable.

Boy am I rusty with my cameras. They felt foreign in my hands. My flash decided to be uncooperative. I think I got some ok photos, but none of them give me any confidence that a viewer will associate them with X bar, which is a wonderful little neighborhood slot. I hope they're able to use a few of the photos. I declined payment. I am really rusty and have ruled out industry photos. That market is saturated with very talented, creative, professionals.

Capitol Hill, Seattle, September 2021. Not naming names, but there is a wonderful little cocktail bar on Summit.

I have been trying to read Sam Shepard's plays. I like plays. I want to like them more. And Sam Shepard exudes cool. What a life. Just look at this cover.

Fifteen One-Act Plays a book by Sam Shepard
Filled with wry, dark humor, unparalleled imagination, unforgettable characters, and exquisitely crafted storytelling, Sam Shepard’s plays have earned him enormous acclaim over the past five decades. In these fifteen one-acts, we see him at his best, displaying his trademark ability to portray human…

But I'm really struggling with it, and I think it's time to give up. I'm pretty bad about giving up when it comes to books. I still wake up in the middle of the night every few months in cold sweats thinking I have to finish The Brothers Karamazov, and why have I shown up to this final exam without pants?! (I guess once you decide to add affiliate links you're doomed to always adding the disclaimer. I think most of us know by now that a link has a potential benefit for the blogger. Maybe I'll be the first person ever to strike it rich posting a link to a decades old Sam Shepard book. Throwing caution to the wind, just burned my Powerball ticket...my future is Shepardian.)

I set ol' Sam aside and returned to familiar ground - Paul Bowles' The Sheltering Sky. Man I love that book. Bowles writes so clearly. Our basic, root language has all the tools and nuances necessary to speak. Salmon, pepper, lemon, and rice is a wonderful meal. You can kill it with sauces.

Are you familiar with Mark Bittman? I am a fan. Have been for many years. My mom pointed me towards his The Minimalist food columns a long time ago, and I was hooked. She then got me his How to Cook Everything book. It was like an encyclopedia. I loved reading it, even though I hardly used it in practice. I love reading and talking about food, and he has branched into the very important field of food policy.

I am getting off topic. I bought Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, and I'm pretty stoked. Buying the book was a rewarding experience all around. I went to one of the world's best bookstores - Elliott Bay Book Company - to get it. They were out. Wait, no, we've got one copy, but the cover is ripped. I'm the world's worst negotiator. Cover? Who cares, I'll take it. Great, but we'll knock off 25%. Oh, right, that's what I meant - I'll give you half!

I haven't cooked anything from it yet, but I know what my first experiment will be. Skillet spaghetti. It looks easy and good, and who doesn't like spaghetti?

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Completely Revised Tenth Anniversary Edition a book by Mark Bittman
The ultimate guide to meatless meals, completely updated and better than ever, now for the first time featuring color photos Ten years ago, this breakthrough cookbook made vegetarian cooking accessible to everyone. Today, the issues surrounding a plant-based diet--health, sustainability, and ethics…

Thought I had more to write about, but I've forgotten it, so I'll wrap this up. Hope everyone is well.