The Great Plotnik

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The TRUE Story of 5-D-3-2.

Here is the true story of how Isabella scored her first run in the Butterflies' resounding victory over the Ladybugs last weekend.

First off, she got her first base hit. She wasn't sure what to do after she hit the ball, thrown by her coach, since she hadn't really connected on one before, until the kids yelled at her to run to first, which she did. Seeing as there apparently has not been one hit ball fielded by any defensive squad all year, she got all the way around to third.

The next batter hit the ball too. Isabella started for home, but really wasn't sure what to do, so she ran into the dugout. The kids yelled at her "Go back! Go back!" So she ran back to first base. "No!" yelled the kids.

But still no one had fielded the ball that had just been hit (we presume it was sitting there somewhere between the pitcher and the catcher), so when the kids yelled "Come Home! Come Home!" Isabella just turned around, ran back to home and scored a run.

We are trying to score this play.

She was on first base, which in standard baseball notation is '3.' Third base is '5.' Home plate is '2.' There is no symbol for 'dugout' so we are instituting one: 'D.'

Isabella's scoring dash will hereafter be listed as 5-D-3-2. I defy even Vin Scully to say he ever saw one of THOSE before.

The BEST part of this story is as soon as she scored she said to her Dad: "Can we call Papa?"

This happened Saturday and it's Tuesday and I am still ridiculously happy about this.

Monday, April 28, 2014

2014 is the Year of the Alstroalmeria

Gardeners know that every year is a crapshoot. Some plants will prosper, others will do nothing. You never know why. This year is for alstroalmerias. 

We've been planting, digging up and moving around these Peruvian corms for years now. The purple ones are maybe 15 years old, each of the others somewhat younger. The yellow ones are a bayou variety that Dana Girl brought us up from Louisiana.

They are said to be invasive, but we've never found them to be so. You just dig up a clump and move them if you don't like them, but why wouldn't you? 

Add the California poppies that just appear wherever they like every year, and the purple columbines, and the white arugula flowers and you end up with a very pretty perennial garden, but only in the spring and early summer. So we enjoy them now.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


Walked out into the garden after last night's rain, and there it is!

We've planted these before, but they've never really panned out. The leaves cover up the fruit, so you don't see it until it bursts out. As for picking, I imagine you just let it sit there until it is ready to flower, like you do with broccoli.

Look into the plant cavity and you see another one, waiting to get big enough to burst out.

It's one of those good years. Maybe it's the weather, but maybe all that compost Plotnik keeps digging into the ground each winter is finally paying off. Lemons. Avocados even! All this parsley.

And weve never had alstroalmerias like this year. Show 'em to you tomorrow.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Didn't Know She Could Still Do This

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Best Juice

Cara Cara Navel, Oro Blanco Grapefruit and Texas Valencia. Can't be beat.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Belly Bone is Perfect, Except for the Texas Hat

Monday, April 21, 2014

Captain Crow and Helmsman Finch

It's great to have the Captain and First Mate in town. 

How to Play a Guitar Like a Standup Bass.

Until you grow taller, just hold it and pick it. Well done, Isaiah (grandson of Captain Crow and Helmsman Finch).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Great Day at the Yard

True, our seats were not directly behind Home Plate. But it was a glorious day and the good guys won, if barely.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Such a Beautiful Night

The thing I remember best about Passover in my grandparents' Fairfax apartment was how many people they could stuff around that table. There were relatives there we saw once a year for twenty years and never did figure out who they were. It was like opening the door to the little clown car and fifty people get out, each one holding a brisket.

Last night in San Francisco was wonderful. There was a red moon on the rise. And all without leavening.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Scientific proof of a major increase in avocado production at GPWHGR (Great Plotnik World Headquarters for Guacamole Research) was confirmed this morning by photograph by researcher Ava K-Doe (no relation to Ernie K-Doe).

Ms. Doe, recently arrived from Boulder, Colorado, poses here.

The upping of the estimate of avocado production from 3 to 4 avocados is confirmed below. Look just to the left of center and up a skooch.

In metric tons, this increase in fruit should total nearly 0.0, but, figured in ounces, perhaps 12.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

For the Brooklyn Butterflies, Playing Center Field…

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Cigarette

The Cigarette


We flew down from San Francisco and my brother and sister-in-law drove in from Orange County and we met at Mom's house near Universal Studios. We are all watching her decline, but RBK lives closer to her than we do and sees her more often, so it is probably harder for him to see the big picture. He wanted us all to be together with our mother because he doesn't know how many more times we will have this chance.

I'm not so sure. Mom has a secret weapon. My wife Barbara thinks Mom's got at least five years left. Barb says that every five years and she hasn't been wrong yet.

Mom sleeps a lot, it's true. You can't judge her when she's tired. When she's tired, she can't see much or hear much or remember much. But there are other times when she's not tired, when she's not confused, when she remembers the way people swung their arms 75 years ago, and understands why family members behave in a certain way, and can tell me small things about her life with the man I never got to know, the mystery dad whom I must take after, if my son Danny takes after me and his son Desmond takes after him. This is the way it works, isn't it?

Just last week Barb and I were back in Brooklyn caring for little Desmond, cradling him in our arms when we couldn't get him back to sleep, like we'd done for his Dad and Auntie BZ only a few minutes before, at most, minutes that shot by and became decades. It was exhausting and transfusing. Your kids, and the kids of your kids, worm their way into how you think. I wanted Desi to sleep so bad, I sung to him, I walked with him, and when he did sink softly back onto his pillow in his crib I felt like I'd won an Emmy.

So yesterday, in L.A., while we watched Mom's long-time helper Santadora stroke Mom's arm and coo softly to her, her Rosita, her Carita, telling her she should just relax and try to sleep, to let the hands on the clock stop for awhile, when Mom's nameless anxiety had seemed to reach up and grab and upset her, I felt like I had glimpsed another little piece of the puzzle, the little boy and his great grandma, ninety nine years apart but sharing a similar world, of naps, of attention, of love.

Not to say that I am all happy happy zen zen about it, or that I don't realize how silly it must seem for a sixty-eight year old man to still be writing about his mother. But I have two kids and two grandkids and if it isn't silly to look into my grandson's eyes and get a thump in my heart when I see some echo of myself rattling around in there, then it isn't silly either to imagine I still make my Mom feel that way too. I'm sure she can still see her light in my eyes. It must bring her the same pleasure.

 She is feeling better, and I know it, because she only scored a five this morning. When she's really out of it she can hit ten or even a sixteen once, which is the record up to here. The numbers refer to how many times she says, during the fifteen minute drive from her house to Burbank Airport, "Oh, I hate this part" or "you have no idea how much I hate this part" or "have I told you how much I hate this part?" or "I know you have to go home...but I hate this part."

Mom rides shotgun and Barb and Santadora sit in the back seat, and every time Mom says it I count it out loud, in Spanish.

"Do you know how much I hate this part?"


A five is good. It means she was right there with us, in the car, paying attention, able to feel bad, like you're supposed to when your kids leave, but not completely tuned out so all she can do is repeat the same phrase over and over again, the litany she can grab onto and make us all crazy with repetition. Of course, it's not repetition to her. It's something she still knows how to do.

Today, she didn't hit "cinco" until we were already at the arrivals drop-off area. So I know she's sad, but I don't think she's dying. There was a traffic control officer standing near the curb waving his arms in all directions like a lawn sprinkler while all the Alfa Romeos and Lexus SUVs whizzed by him paying no attention.

"Why does he bother?" Mom, who is basically blind, remarked. How did she see him? See, you never know.

I also know the doctors will not believe me when I tell you how we all watched her revive before our very eyes last night, after she slept all day, after I took the chicken off the bbq on her back patio, and then we all sat down and she ate like it was her last meal, but it wasn't, and won't be as long as she stays that hungry, which is why I love to cook for her. I stuff the old girl, chicken, salmon, green salad, Waldorf salad, rice, bon bons, cookies. 

"Have some more, Mom?"

"Maybe just one little piece."

After that she wanted a cigarette, and we have stopped giving her cigarettes, because they make it hard for her to breathe, but you know we can't hardly say smoking is going to shorten her life any more, and she really wanted one, so we cut one in half and lit it for her, and as she sat in her prison chair, which is what we call the chair on the patio where we make her go when she wants to smoke, she inhaled, and put the cigarette first in one hand and then the other, and we all shook our heads in amazement as we watched the years fall off her face, there went 90, and then 80, and 70 too, and then there she was, just about our age, in total peace with her lot in life, smiling the big smile we all remember, and laughing, and maybe it was because we were all together but to tell you the God's honest truth I think her secret weapon is the tar and nicotine. Philip Morris ought to call her tomorrow and get the campaign going. They've got a good five years.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The Palms of Stiletto City


The Mom of Stiletto City

There is still gas in the tank. Lots of rest stops needed. Maybe the slow lane is better anyway.

Monday, April 07, 2014

BZ Got a New Hat?

Colorado girls. But how can she text?

Saturday, April 05, 2014

I Miss Belly Bone

Saturday afternoon, Giants - Dodgers and two NCAA semifinal games on TV. Care about the first, not about the next two.  Tonight we drive down to Mountain View to see "The Hound of the Baskervilles" at TheaterWorks. This means many choices for Asian food.

The Mountain View Center for Performing Arts is located on Castro Street, an avenue absolutely filled with Asian restaurants. The Chinese place, not so good; the Korean place, good but we've been there a lot recently; the Thai place pretty good but the Japanese place delicious and different. That's where we'll eat before the show.

Watching a Dodgers-Giants game is torture. It just is.

I miss Belly Bone.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Desi and Bells, Papa and Bobo

He's walking, crawling, doing the Penitent Knee Walk, any way he can do it the boy is now mobile. At 15 months he sleeps through the night. The problem is "night" means "until I get hungry." He has already broken through the child-proof locks into the cabinet where they keep the tomato sauce. He stares at the can of tomato sauce and thinks: "Somewhere in this container there is food. But, hey. Let's just throw it down the wooden stairs."

The Great PD and Great 5H had a ball by themselves in London. Papa and Bobo remember what a glorious feeling that is -- adult conversations and sleep. So they were very happy to come to Brooklyn and spend several days with Desi and his Big Sister. It was sad to leave.

There is a lot of discussion on all fronts these days about where to live. In the end, when you have young children it doesn't much matter because all you're doing is surviving and dreaming of the day you'll have your lives back again. But then that day comes and you feel an emptiness you hadn't planned on.

Isabella has earned her Senior Badge in the Scampus Neverstoppus Society. She is showing her brother the ropes, but we don't think he will ever be the Scampus she is. Desi will plow over things. Belly will plan the whole caper and then send her brother in to do the dirty work.

But for the time being he is content to sit in Papa's or Bobo's arms and eat any of his many meals.

Greene Avenue, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn NY, April 2014

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

When You've Just Got Animal Crackers and one Oreo Cookie...


You just put the animal crackers in a fancy glass and mount it on the Oreo Cookie.

When you get hungry at lunchtime you get a Margherita with Italian Sausage at Speedy Romeo.

When you need to make sure everybody has their just line 'em up.