Tuesday, November 25, 2014

In Dreams

I had a dream the other night that, while not disturbing, was certainly thought provoking. I seldom remember dreams unless I'm awakened in the middle of one. This dream apparently startled me into awareness. Although I don’t recall the entire sequence, what I do remember went something like this:

I was at the sink in my kitchen. A woman with me. We were cleaning dishes and both of us were smiling. I had a comfortable feeling that she was someone that I had known for a long time. Our arms touched briefly as we worked at the sink, the sensation of warm skin against my own very pleasurable and somehow soothing. When she spoke, I turned and glanced at her.

"Eric, I’m going to help you clean up your life."

It wasn’t her words that woke me; it was the unexpected recognition when I stared into her eyes. I'll call her Cicely. I had known her since the first grade. We had graduated from high school together.

While I had long known Cicely, we had never been close friends and certainly not lovers. We had never, in fact, had any kind of personal relationship, at least in this lifetime. Still, in my dream she felt like a trusted confidante. Should I call her, tell her about my dream and express the way I felt about her? I can’t. Cicely died of cancer this past summer.

This brings me back to pondering the dream’s meaning. Maybe it has no meaning. Maybe we are all destined to live parallel lives with many lovers and confidantes as the wheels of a giant life machine spins one slow story after the next. Maybe Shakespeare had it right when he said, "All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts."

My dream leaves me to wonder just how many parts I have played, and who were my fellow actors, and did all the stories end with song and dance on a festive summer night, or perhaps the sudden shock of unexpected pain?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Brother and Sister Oil

Eric and Anne
The oil boom and ensuing oil bust of the 70s and 80s is long past and seems almost like a dream to me now. I can recount stories about the period for hours, some of them funny and some of them sad, and I still chuckle about one that happened to my then wife Anne and me.

Anne was an oil and gas accountant – a damn good oil and gas accountant. She and I formed a small oil company and began drilling wells. I love the oil business, but Anne was passionate about it. She poured her heart and soul into our company, and I guess so did I.

Caught up inextricably in the bust, we both fought to keep our floundering company. We began a quest for a “white knight,” or at least a responsive banker. Alas, we found neither, but we had a few adventures along the way.

I have often heard that people that live together for a long time begin to look alike. If this is true then Anne and I were identical twins. Why? Because we were together twenty-four hours every day, and we both had reddish-blonde hair.

As Oklahoma oil companies began crashing Anne and I traveled the country looking for a friendly banker. We thought we had found a home with a bank in Los Angeles. On a trip there, we pitched our company, and our souls. The banker, a large man with long hippy hair, a longish beard and John Lennon glasses, listened to our fervent plea with a jolly Santa Claus smile on his large face.

“I’m curious,” he said when we finished our presentation. “How did a brother and sister happen to start an oil company together?”

Neither Anne nor I had a satisfactory response and it didn’t truly matter as his inane remark gave us the answer to the question we had just spent an hour asking.

We never found our white knight, or our friendly banker. Like so many companies during the 80s oil bust, we went belly-up. Yes, the bust is long past and seems almost like a dream to me now. Some of the stories were funny but many, so many, I keep buried deep in my mind until moments such as now when they come bubbling up painfully to a surface still foaming with crushed emotion.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Bertram's Creole Oyster Soup - a weekend recipe

Though some people say, “there’s no free lunch,” they have obviously never been to Bertram Picou’s bar on Chartres Street, in the French Quarter. He usually has something for his customers to eat, and always for free. Here is one of my favorites.

·         4 doz oysters, shelled
·         4 Tbsp onion, finely chopped
·         4 sprigs parsley, chopped very fine
·         Oyster liquor, strained
·         1 Tbsp vegetable oil
·         1 Tbsp butter
·         2 Tbsp flour, sifted
·         1 qt boiling water
Add the vegetable oil to a soup kettle and heat over a medium fire. Add the flour, stirring constantly until the roux is light brown, and then add the chopped onions and parsley. Add the strained oyster liquor, mix thoroughly, and then add 1 quart of water. When the soup shows signs of coming to a boil, add the oysters and butter. Remove from the stove before water boils, and when oysters begin to curl. Though traditionally served with oyster crackers, Bertram often offers toasted French bread instead.