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  • What ya gotta do is...

    Usually when my dad gave these mini-lectures he'd look me right in the eye, pointing his finger at me. Like this,

    What ya gotta do with global warming is consider the earth's climate history over eons.
    What ya gotta do is pay an extra 1/12 of the annual principle on the mortgage monthly.
    What ya gotta do is stand over the roux the whole time, and never let your attention veer from the pan. Stir constantly. Ya gotta keep the screen over it 'cause it's goddamn Cajun napalm.

    Pop instructed me on the folly of religion, winning at blackjack, classical literature, ironing techniques, investing in the market, and how to be most productive on a Saturday morning—I got sick of that one. Lessons included sociology, cooking, astronomy, current events, geography, history, politics, famous people, and most anything else. It could be the character of Johnny Mathis or the political exploits of FDR. Every story, he said, is The Odyssey. He avoided mathematics and physics because I didn't understand these. He avoided everything he did at work because I didn't have security clearance.

    My dad was a pretty smart guy, an aerospace engineer and a genius in the technical definition of the term. But, we had a family joke about how people always say that you don't have to be a rocket scientist to do this or that, Once you know a rocket scientist - you find out they're not that smart.

    During his last days he was rarely up for talking, but one afternoon he told me the creation story—big-bang style, not Genesis style. It took a couple of hours and like so many of his lessons, I remember very little of it.

    As I got older I realized that What ya gotta do in Pop-speak translates to, I love you.

    [This is a photo of a Cajun roux of 1 part olive oil and 1 part flour, about midway through cooking. What ya gotta do is keep stirring it at a medium heat until it smells like burnt popcorn. Remove and add immediately to chicken gumbo. Or, keep cooking until it‘s the color of graham crackers for shrimp gumbo. Make sure you are very careful 'cause it's goddamn Cajun napalm.]
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