The Delta Snake Review

The Delta Snake Review

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Monday, September 26, 2016

On The Road With Al and Ivy - Sept 26th: A Homeless Journal of Sorts

 

"...to satiate gluttony,
peacocks in coops are brought
Arrayed in gold plumage 
like Babylon tapestry rich.
Numidian guinea-fowls, 
capons, all perish for thee:
And even the wandering stork, 
welcome guest that he is,
The emblem of sacred maternity,
slender of leg 
and gloctoring exile from winter,
herald of spring,
Still, finds his last nest in the--cauldron of gluttony base..."

- Petronius Arbiter (The Satyricon)

The whole foodie trip isn't a new phenomenon. Mankind's upper crust has always found a way to make food more expensive, and many traditional dishes have their origins in making the less desirable parts of an animal edible after the privileged had taken the best cuts.

The best example is the soul food classic, chitlins, which were cooked intestines, and sausages, which were essentially everything the maker could get away with stuffing into a empty intestinal membrane.

In the case of lobster, it's transition to a premium food was due to a shift in taste. It was originally considered a bottom feeding lowlife, like catfish, and as a result was a very cheap meal in East Coast taverns in the 1700s...catfish is traditionally served with a peppery batter which originally was intended to hide the flavor of mud. 

Having had the scintillating experience of eating wild catfish, I think that the proper amount of pepper should be enough to numb the taste buds, any less will result in the sensation of sticking your tongue in a mud puddle when eating the non-farmed whiskered fish.

The ancient Romans would find today's foodie dishes a bit plain, with it's emphasis on "healthy" fare that is sending many fish species on an accelerated path to extinction, turned common nuts into the equivalent of gold nuggets, and made chicken more expensive than beef.

Food has always been tied to social status, and only in America would a piece of raw fish on a slug of rice cost so much. Our hamburger and fries is the modern day fish and chips, which also costs a lot as nowadays that traditional English poor man's food actually uses fish...the original fare wrapped in actual newspaper used the otherwise undesirable skates and rays that were caught up in the fishermen's net.

One of the most common homeless images is of a destitute man fishing through a garbage can looking for scraps to eat. Before the advent of garbage bags, plastic carry out containers and laws forbidding the sale of spoiled food, rummaging through the trash for a meal must have been a pretty grim experience.

It still is, though from what I've seen, it's really more a search for carry out food still in bags and containers than raw scraps. The scavengers may be desperate, but I haven't seen one hungry enough to eat raw garbage, but this country is affluent, so today's trash is more amenable to low rent foodie pleasures.

One source of left over carry out food is other homeless, but that's seems to be changing as the average cost of a MacDonalds meal has gone up to seven or eight bucks. The smarter scrounges watch the garbage can and go over when they see a new lunch or dinner bag being thrown away, fish it out and check for leftovers. The night owls check specific receptacles near restaurants and will move quickly from one to another.

Most homeless I've met try to eat well...like me, they'll often eat less to be able to afford healthier food. 

There's a practical reason. 

When you live in a car or tent, the last thing you want is the trots at 2am. That rules out Taco Hell, Kentucky Fried Heart Attack, and Murder King...in fact, most fried food, Thai cuisine, pizza (sob), and cheese whiz.

Most men think about sex several times per minute...I fantasize about pizza and chili cheese dogs...when I reach for a "prophylactic," that means a preventative dose of pepto bismul before eating beans with BBQ sauce.

It helps to be on a diet and exercise regimen. Ivy and I walk about two miles every day. Ivy assists in making it a better workout by allowing me to carry her 13 pound butt for about 1.5 miles of that distance.

Hunger is real, very real, but a good part of it is psychological, and setting a weight loss goal makes the slimmer fare seem more by design than compulsion.

When I finally leave the homeless life, my first act will be death by pizza...

...as they say about glass houses...

Another vehicle greets the morning with windows broken...it's an empty RV that's been in a lot for four weeks, parked away from the trees, out in the open, which indicates that the owner is just storing it there. It's position puts it under the store's security cameras, though the guy has to be smart enough to realize that management isn't going to devote even a second of security involvement for liability reasons...probably just figures that the cameras will deter any vandalism or theft. 

What's more interesting is the guy's reaction...it took a couple of days for him to realize some windows had been punched out, and once it was clear that the RV was targeted, it was moved closer to the store and what appeared to be a posse of friends in cars and RVs formed a loose ring around it and stayed for a few days...a drama occurring in that lot with the rest of the world around it going about it's business.

I avoid the area, of course, a vigilante group that is so focused that it forgets it's on private property is a bunch that'll act without caring about the consequences. It's a lawless sentry perimeter formed in response to a lawless act of vandalism, just a gang in adult clothes, and probably being laughed at by the vandals who've probably returned a few times to admire their handiwork from a distance.

Any vehicle just left in a lot is eventually going to be vandalized. A Volkswagen that was apparently abandoned in a nearby lot sat there for months, and was gradually stripped till it was sitting there without wheels before finally being taken away.

Some homeless will store a second vehicle in a street or lot, but will rarely leave it unattended for long. They'll go off and do their thing during the day, but come back and sleep next to it at night...others will literally stay in an RV and only leave it to buy food, etc., not simply out of apathy but because any vandalism would probably be permanent due to a high insurance deductible policy (or no coverage, which would also see it gradually develop windows with garbage bags taped over it, etc).

The best way to avoid vandalism is to be constantly on the move from place to place. In my case, it's to never hang out where I intend to sleep, to avoid being seen in a place all day and night...a sure sign that one is "living" in a place and breaks the tacit agreement with any tolerant management, which is, "don't stick it in our faces."

Some chronic RV homeless will go from place to place, staying till they're kicked out, often retaliating by dumping garbage and sewage on the pavement (though some just do it out of habit as they don't intend to return)...they may seem like an angry bunch but it's really just a more showy state of apathy, being bounced from one place to another, often returning to lots they've been kicked out of, waiting around till the latest 86'ing sends them on their way. 

Just a bunch of rudderless boats swept by the current and wacking into every rock and sandbar along the way.

...Ivy's story, part 2: socialization...

 
Shih Tzu's have the amazing ability to nap anywhere...

Ivy grew up for three years in a cage, and it did affect her behavior. For one thing, she didn't see other animals besides Shih tzu's and as a result, would just sit and stare at other animals, or even ignore them...cats were puzzled by her...she smelled like a dog but would just sit there or ignore them...one time Ivy was talking a nap on the floor, snoring loudly, which brought three cats in one at a time, creeping up and sniffing her, then they'd sit there and stare as this small dog who had slept through the whole thing.

 
Ivy seen here after pushing the blanket off the leather seat...she loves to lounge on leather upholstery

One of the early things I noticed about Ivy was that she was comfortable in cars and loved long car trips, which she spent mostly sleeping...she learned quickly that a bathroom stop would end as soon as she was through, so developed a routine of acting like she was trying to find the perfect place to pee as a way to get a longer break...I indulged this, as with any of her little routines as a way to encourage creative thinking and it's generally cute to see...the funniest routine is when she fakes taking a pee in order to get an extra treat (positive reinforcement to encourage going outside). Ivy still doesn't get that a one second squat isn't a convincing show of making water, but it is hilarious and worth an extra treat...life with a dog is really about such things anyway...

 
Ivy showing her usual reaction to being ordered back into the car...she counters by waiting till I come around to pick her up, though softening the blow to my status as master with a cute smile...

I once read that Shih tzu's are manipulative dogs that try to train their masters, and it's probably true...they have the will power to overcome normal conditioning techniques like letting them go hungry till they finally eat the dry dog food, and letting them bark all they want but they still have to stay in the frickin' car dammit...Ivy no longer just barks to get out of the car...at night in a mall or garage, the windows have to be closed or she'll stick her mouth out and bark till security comes...I've been able to locate my lost car in a packed place many times because of this...

As far as dry dog food...I remember once seeing a bowl of dry food laid out for another dog, and as I explained to the people in the room how difficult it was to get Ivy to transition from canned food, she walked up to the bowl and ate half of the contents...luckily the bowl belonged to a male dog that just sat there and stared while Ivy ate his dinner...she still won't eat dry food on demand, but seems willing to eat cheese crackers and pretzels...small steps...

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