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Prime Time: Music, overindulgence and restraint

In October 2010, I published a "My Day" column about experiences long before, on November 18, 2009. This "My Day" happened just last month.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011, was special, for various reasons. Like other summer Wednesdays, it featured a noontime Bemidji Area Church Musicians recital, this one by Glenn Seibel on euphonium and Wayne Hoff on piano. However, it was in my church. Churches put on a lunch after the recitals, either cheap or with a free will offering. Some churches do a set menu, elaborate or not, maybe with donated bars. Ours is basically a substantial salad, baked beans, and bars potluck, with everything but the coffee and "lemonade" donated. There was quite a spread.

I'm not about to make claims about superiority of one recital over another. It's a matter of taste. Some may prefer bell choirs over organ soloists, or sopranos over string groups. De gustibus and all that. But I do think we United Methodists do the best lunches. Elaine used to make her signature cranberry bars, but she's no longer here. If we're doing a potluck supper, I may cook up a West African style curry, but that's not salad lunch food, and I don't bake, or at least haven't tried that yet. So I bought loads of red seedless grapes, washed them, cut them up into hand-sized bunches, and set a large bowl of them out as an alternative to Jell-O "salads" and sinful bars.

Trouble is, I'm a sucker for the sinful bars, and there was more than a little fat in someone's taco salad. So I was likely to overdo on the fat grams. Also, there was a notice in the paper that Eric Haugen would be playing his 'cello at an open house at the Sanford Center. Couldn't miss that, so I drove there after a pretty full lunch that had included two bars.

Turns out Eric and friends were actually scheduled for the first Wednesday in August; Sanford Center open houses are usually first Wednesdays. But people showed up. The folks at Sanford know about public relations, and their kitchen is right there. So they did tours and rolled out the Dunn Bros. coffee and the scones, some of them cut in two or three. I'd been on a tour in June, but I had a coffee and a bit of scone; I'm also a sucker for scones.

When I got home, I calculated the damage. You have to guess fat content at buffets, but that was a big portion of taco salad, and I try to be honest with myself. Turned out I was maybe two grams below my daily maximum. What to do for supper? Well, get creative.

A 5 oz. can of tuna, like its 6 oz. predecessor, is supposed to be two servings, each worth half a gram. Stir a tablespoon of kim chee into a slug of fat-free yogurt, mix in a can of tuna, and use the result as a zippy dip for fat-free Swedish Siljan's Traditional Rye Crispbread (cheaper and less salty than the stateside "equivalent"). Steam two servings worth of cauliflower to go with, and celebrate your genius with a Shiner Dortmunder beer, from Shiner, Texas. (If I'd had company, I'd have had non-alcoholic beverages available.)

It was warm out, but there was a breeze, so I decided to take all this to one of my favorite outdoor eating and bird-watching sites. I had seen an adult bald eagle from the Sanford Center, but not much was going on at my supper spot. A few birds were about, among them chipping sparrows and robins, and I heard a crow.

But then a persistent chirping began that I could not identify. I looked and looked, but never did see the bird or birds. Not a distinctive song or call, just a lot of chirping. Then, below the trees where the chirps were coming from, I saw the cat, some distance away. Not just one cat, but three: Mom followed by two partly grown kittens. The unseen birds were harassing the cats.

The kittens did not look much like Mom. One seemed to be all black (my binocs are no longer functional), and the other had a mottled black look. Reminded me of a song on a Phil Harris LP (Phil was band leader on the Jack Benny radio show in the '40s).

The song, entitled "The Persian Kitten" was about a pampered female who happened to run into a tomcat, who introduced her to the ways of the world. Later on, "when the children came, they weren't Persian, they were black and tan, and she told them that their daddy was a travelin' man; a rootin', tootin, scratchin, travelin' man." Unfortunately, I don't have a CD.

Evan Hazard, a retired Bemidji State University biology professor, also writes "Northland Stargazing" the fourth Friday of each month.