I had an early dental appointment this morning. Getting a deep cleaning of my teeth since I have not been in for almost two years because of the pandemic, and last Friday I woke up and discovered the crown on my molar was missing and is presumably now with the mustard somewhere in the aether. At any rate, I was out of the house bright and early, and as I opened the front door I observed that the Penthouse Suite nest on the front porch had been demolished:
All that remains are some straw and cotton lying in a pile on the porch:
I don’t know if the nest (which I leave up every year so they know they are welcome back) was destroyed as part of an annual remodeling, or if perhaps there is about to be a vicious turf war for nesting privileges. Regardless, it made me happy because spring is here. The cycle of life, they say.
It was on this day, a year ago, that the Balloon Juice community received the shocking and horrible news that Alain had died in his sleep. It feels like it was both just yesterday and a lifetime ago, but nonetheless, it has been a year. Now that the initial shock and grief are over, it’s so much easier to remember who Alain was as a person.
Oddly enough, I was in the basement the other day grabbing some of the remaining cans of peaches and pears, and I grabbed the last jar of peach jam and ginger that Alain had made and sent me. He’d sent me several different types of jellies and jams- peach/ginger and grape are the two I remember the most, and while I don’t recall the specific details, I do sort of think I remember the peaches were a special kind grown in Colorado. I stared at the jar for a while and looked at the thoughtful label, then went upstairs and ate it. It was so good I finished it in two meals, the second a sumptuous peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a heaping of the jam and an ice cold glass of milk. The classics never go out of style.
The peach jam really sums up who Alain was. He’d sent it to me because I had been making a bunch of jam and talking about it, and he was also making jam, and with his omnipresent thoughtfulness, decided he would send some to me. Alain was kind that way. He was generous with his time, spending thousands of hours on this website simply because he loved you all so much. And he was thoughtful- doing the little things, the generous things, the kind things, the things that make this crazy world bearable. Not because he wanted something in return, but because being kind made him happy.
In a world full of little men acting like big shots, throwing around money on grotesque buildings that are little more than vulgar vanity projects, or slapping their names on schools so that THEY WILL HAVE THEIR LEGACY AND THEY WILL BE REMEMBERED, we’re so lucky to get to know people like Alain. Buildings crumble, but the ripple effect of Alain’s kindness will be passed down by those who received it for generations.
Now that’s a legacy.
A toast (whole wheat bread and Alian’s peach jam) to Alain
Those peaches were almost certainly Palisades, grown on Colorado’s western slope and very very good.
I miss Alain. That was a shock.
Kindness is a fine legacy.
My first job out of high school was picking peaches in Palisades, CO in a migrant camp. Great peaches.
It’s been a year. Wow. Time flies when we’re, uh, let’s not say ‘having fun’.
Thank you for that lovely tribute to Alain.
And, on a far far more trivial note,
I think you mean ‘turf war’, unless you suspect that J.K. Rowling might be roosting on your porch.
A toast (with jam) to Alian. A reminder to each of us that tomorrow is not guaranteed for any of us,
Thank you for writing this.
Wow. This is accurate. What a year.
I’m usually a lurker, but your post reminded me of a wonderful video I watched recently. It’s ostensibly about hopelessness, but really about wanting control and humanity and decency in this oft-difficult life.
The creator is Carlos Maza, based in NYC, and I think it fits the zeitgeist of this site and the emotion of your post.
Today is also the 40th anniversary of my mother’s death, on the morning that the first shuttle Columbia’s first flight ended successfully.
All that has passed since then. Time certainly does fly.
Not at all sure what species was nesting up there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they are back and doing some major remodeling.
What a lovely post. It’s nice to see so much more of you here this week, John. Alain was a treasure gone way too soon.
Music hath charms….
Classic jam session.
Longer, more modern gathering.
I lost three people in 2020. Ironically, none of them to Covid. My aunt Edith had a fall and hit her head. She was at least in her 90s, maybe over 100, and so frail it’s a wonder she’d lasted that long. Also the only relative of mine I unreservedly loved. My friend Bill Levy was one of two people I was worried would not survive the Covid pandemic because of ongoing health problems. He had a heart attack last March. Doctors had given him six months to live 25 years before on a variety of other health issues, so he beat the odds. And poor Chaos (who hated his real name) who I put in multiples of my books had a sudden heart attack. He was only in his thirties. I hope there’s an afterlife, because he was the sweetest soul on Earth and we did not deserve him.
Thank you for this wonderful tribute to Alain.
I still have the last email Alain sent me, sharing a story and recipe. I didn’t even have a chance to respond to it – I came down with Covid that week, and was pretty run down, even before I realized I had it. I remember the shock of waking up to Adam’s text with the horrible news and wishing I had found the time to respond to his kindness.
Alain, you are missed…
I still have some of Alain’s sourdough starter. He was so happy to share it with us.
Lovely tribute, John.
Thank you for this lovely tribute. The one year anniversary of my mother’s death just passed on the 10th. I remember finding out about Alain’s passing during a time when I was experiencing such great fear, sadness and worry. The stories of his genuine kindness and truly altruistic spirit brought me hope and comfort during a very dark time. A virtual toast to Alain. Although I never met you in person,, i am so glad to have known him and of him as a member of this blog.
Alain, is missed. We were lucky to know him.
That’s a blessing. Thanks for showing the way, Alain.
Thank you for this wonderful remembrance of Alain. A year. My God.
Now that I am vaccinated, I also am catching up on all of those things I’ve put off. I got my face and nose waxed today and I feel BEAUTIFUL! I’m getting my eyes checked on Friday so I can finally get new glasses. I want a haircut, a mani-pedi, and a laser treatment on my face. I am starting to give consideration to my appearance. It feels strange.
This was a very soulful post And your comments about legacy have the ring of truth What we all do propagates in the world
@Suzanne: My nails are an absolute horror; going to have to have an extra extra mani-pedi once I get a couple of projects done. Maybe even splurge on a day of beauty; I’ve always wanted to do that.
You look just fine from here.
JC, what a wonderful tribute to Alain and especially to all those like him who share their kind and generous humanity with the rest of us,
That was a lovely tribute. I miss Alain very much, and am happy that On The Road carried on in his tradition.
@Suzanne: It’s odd, but I feel this way, too, a little. The last few days I’ve been out and about I’ve worn pants that weren’t jeans and shirts that weren’t tees. I didn’t think I’d ever feel like gussying up again (admittedly, not-jeans and not-tee isn’t exactly “gussying up”… unless, like me, you’ve mostly been in PJs for the last year!) yet wonder if I’ll still feel that way when the really nice weather hits.
I’ll know my sap is rising if I decide to color my hair. The grey has grown out a good 6”, and I simply haven’t cared.
That was a beautiful tribute.
That I have no sense of time is confirmed. If anybody had asked me, I would have said Alain died two or three years ago. So much seems to have happened since then, and yet, how could that be, I’ve been in suspended animation for what, thirteen months of Covid isolation now?
@CaseyL: I’m, like, simultaneously excited about it, and I find it a bit uncomfortable, too. Being unmasked around someone outside my bubble was really weird.
All the things I did for the sake of “professional appearance”, I kind of miss them. Even though they cost money and are patriarchal.
No One of Consequence
This was lovely Cole. Well said.
If I may, I have held for some time, the hidden values of our connections and relationships. Not hidden to the world, but perhaps simply not perceived (perhaps not perceptible) by us:
It isn’t those whose lives we touch,
It is who’s lives *they* touch.
The multiplier was always in full effect. Technologies may make it easier to harness, or to leverage, or to abuse.
May we endeavor to add positive thoughts/energy/feedback/efforts into the forefront of that multiplier. We all could use the help.
@Suzanne: Masks are still required here, and COVID numbers are way up in many, many places. We are safer now that we are vaccinated, but we are not home free. It can be complicated to navigate what feels like new found freedom, but in many cases there is still a fair amount of risk.
I find that the pandemic is bringing out a lot of good in people. Or maybe it’s given them time to be good to more people, that is, just expressing their same level of good but now having more time to spread it around.
Example that relates to Cole’s post: A friend’s BIL has a small fruit farm. The friend decided that he’d pick a lot of the fruit and bring it back to the city and distribute it to all of his friends, typically leaving it on their doorsteps and then texting that a present was waiting for them. Took him weeks and a few trips back and forth to the farm.
I got a bag of the BEST peaches I’ve ever had. They were so good that when I ate the first one, I felt like I was the first person ever having his first peach while simultaneously bringing up memories at all sensory levels of having peaches with my sibs in our grandma’s backyard so, so many years ago.
It was special.
Today was a the death anniversary of my friend’s father – her dad and my dad were colleagues back when they were both young men. It’s a sad thing especially for my friend who remembered him today.
WTF are you doing, blowing all this dust around, Cole. My eyes are streaming.
Yes, he was a very kind and thoughtful soul and we are all better for having touched him.
Be the kind of person that makes John write this about you
Be the kind of person that writes this about someone
Moby Grape, “Boysenberry Jam.” Haven’t heard that in a while!
My feet are a disgusting disgrace. I’ve had several haircuts (I totally trust my hairdresser), but my feet have been sadly neglected and both look and feel exactly that way.
Thank you John. A lovely tribute for a lovely man. He touched so many. I am so glad On the Road continues in his memory. It has helped so much this year.
For Alain . . . “Into the Mystic.”
Shortly after finding this place in 2015 I sent a submission to Alain for On The Road. They were of the views from my balcony, and I noted that I didn’t travel much but had views of Seattle, etc. He changed the name of the feature to On The Road And In Your Back Yard and published the photos. Words cannot describe the feeling of being included in the jackalariat.
Your memory, Alain, will always be a blessing. Thank you for the many small acts which compose your legacy.
Alain sent me some of his sourdough starter very shortly before he died. I’ve got some dried if anyone would care for some.
@geg6: I can’t reach my feet so I look like Howard Hughes until one of the housemates notices, and I do my fingernails sometimes pushing down the clipper with an elbow if I can’t close it, so the cuts are at some weird angles.
Thank you for this.
This is a lovely tribute. I miss Alain. Coincidentally, made a loaf of sourdough today to give to a friend undergoing chemo and I always give a little thought to him when I do. May his memory continue to be a blessing.
Open thread, so Bowen Yang did a nice bit as the iceberg the Titanic hit.
Alain was a kind man, and I enjoyed our too brief exchanges. I miss him.
J R in WV
Thank you Cole, for reminding us of Alain’s passing and our loss. We were good friends online, emailed each other about places to hike and fish. He was a good person who shared a lot of his life with us here at B-J.
Wow! Started and could not stop. Inspiring and sad.
Very nice write-up John, thank you. It’s great to be reminded to appreciate the good people around us.
Ain’t that the truth. My home county, population 590,000, had over 100 new cases and three deaths today.
In light of Larry McMurtry’s recent death . . . The Last Picture Show (1971) is coming up on TCM at 11:45 EDT. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, with an all-star cast: Timothy Bottoms, Jeff Bridges, Cybill Shepherd, Ben Johnson, Cloris Leachman, Ellen Burstyn, Eileen Brennan, Clu Gulager, Sam Bottoms, even Randy Quaid and John Hillerman in small parts. Oscars for Johnson and Leachman as supporting actors. Bogdanovich and McMurtry nominated for the screenplay. Five other Oscar nominations, including best picture. Gorgeous black-and-white cinematography by (Oscar-nominated) Robert Surtees.
@Frankensteinbeck: Oh lord I lost 4 dear friends in 2020, none from COVID. We never mourned their passings properly. With many getting vaccinated, we can do so this summer. Hallelujah!
Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)
Open thread, so I thought I’d share a very disturbing conversation I had with a co-worker today. I overheard a co-worker/friend of mine at work mentioning to somebody else about the blood-clotting problem and the J&J vaccine. Turns out my co-worker has some nutty beliefs and she’s a public health major who’s going to graduate in a year.
Basically, the vaccines haven’t been tested enough, the public is being used as guinea pigs, she claims most of her PH professors aren’t getting the COVID vaccines and prefer to just use basic precautions such as masking, washing hands, etc. Says she read the “studies” herself. That the J&J vaccine combines two shots into one and that’s why it’s dangerous or something. The MMR vaccine got brought up because it also has multiple shots in it. That it’s “controversial”. Oh, and young people don’t need to get the vaccine because we’re at lower risk. Also too, herd immunity only happens under “ideal conditions”. I couldn’t get her to understand the connection between people not being vaccinated for measles as much anymore, herd immunity and recent periodic outbreaks.
Nothing I said make a difference and I don’t think I did a good job. I mentioned Brazil and how variants down there were making younger people sick and putting them in the ICUs. She asked me, “Do you live in Brazil?” I replied no, but people travel, carrying the variants here. I don’t remember what she said in response, but it was something pooh poohing my point.
A mutual friend of ours then jumped in and said, “Lots of things that were said to be safe turned out to be dangerous years later.”
Like I said, very disturbing.
I ultimately said, “I trust public health authorities”. And left it at that. This girl is going into public health and this is what she thinks of COVID vaccines?
I also had a female customer by coincidence ask me if I got a vaccine and if I had side effects. I replied I did and that I barely felt anything. She then replied she’s not going to get the vaccine and that she thinks it’s stupid to have to wear masks even if we’ve got the vaccines. I simply replied that the vaccines aren’t 100% effective and that’s why
Unlurking so I can post this Terry Pratchett quote which seems appropriate here…
“No one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away, until the clock wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone’s life is only the core of their actual existence.”
That was very funny!
@Goku (aka Amerikan Baka): You are such a good person, but I suspect that even Thurgood Marshall would’ve changed her mind. You did your best to plant a seed in their thought that may find a tiny crack and grow. Stupid people tend to remain stupid, though.
Sister Golden Bear
Republicans: Making me wear a mask is tyranny! My body, my choice! Because personal freedom!
Also Republicans: The government must prosecute parents who support their trans kids, and remove their trans children from their homes! Because trans people shouldn’t have control over their own bodies!
Texas bill would brand parents of trans children as “child abusers” if they support their kids.
Sister Golden Bear
Also, that was a wonderful tribute to Alain.
I had no idea you were such a poet Cole. Very well said.
What a kind and gentle man gone too soon, remembered with fondness.
I am afraid you are getting the wrong idea by hanging around here. Juicers are a group of well-read, open minded and critical thinkers. Most of the rest of the world isn’t.
Most of the rest of the world are like the people you talked to today. You shouldn’t learn to like that idea but you should probably get used to it.
@Ohio Mom: @Steeplejack: Here’s why you are wrong.
@nickdag: thank you for this
Thank you, Area Man!
@Omnes Omnibus: I think you’re wrong.
@Goku (aka Amerikan Baka): A good friend of mine for decades used the same “we’re being used as guinea pigs” excuse for not getting a vaccine. I flat out asked her if she was getting her news from Facebook. She said no, a friend works at Pfizer. Employee of the year right there. No way am I talking to her with the J&J pause, I would def say something I would regret.
And yes, a lovely tribute to Alain. May On the Road go on for years…
@eclare: Guinea pigs? These vaccines have been FAR more thoroughly tested than almost any other vaccine. They didn’t skimp on testing for side effects.
The only reason we’ve gotten them so quickly is that they rushed through the MONEY RAISING phase…and if there was one thing these vaccines didn’t have a lack of, it was money to fund the testing.
Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)
Thanks for the compliment and I know I didn’t change her mind. It’s just sad and frankly disturbing to see a Public Health major who’s one year away from graduating spouting such ignorant crap
Sadly, probably true. Though, you’d think being in college and 3 years into a public health degree she’s be able to critically think better than that
Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)
That employee is probably just a janitor or something who claims to have “overheard things” lol
@geg6: @Mary G: I have never, in my 60 years, had a pedicure. I decided the other day that that’s how I’m going to celebrate second-dose-plus-two-weeks. Which is one month from today.
My feet are super ticklish, though – I may not be able to enjoy the full experience but I’m determined to try.
@Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)
While in that ballpark –
Offal in franks? Magic 8-ball sez: Often.
Awful in Frank‘s? Magic 8-ball sez: Guaranteed.
* sigh * Pillow talk ain’t what it used to be.
When I was around 30 or so, RA was destroying my joints and I also had Crohn’s disease, and Sjogren’s Syndrome and had been on every drug my doctors could think of without effect, my gastro and rheumatologist got together and decided I should try a medicine originally given to people who’d had organ transplants that had just received FDA approval for all my conditions. It had a thick black border around its entry in the PDR (an encyclopedia of drugs used by doctors) which is a stern warning about it being the choice of last resort. I had to read and sign a 4-page single spaced disclosure form that started with “it might kill you” and then a long list of other horrific things that might happen. It was “virulently teratogenic” so no pregnancy whatsoever and I had to show proof I had an IUD. At the very end they noted that some people had no reaction at all. I felt had I had a choice of suicide or this so I signed. I was on it 14 years before it stopped working at all and never had a single one of the side effects. The last time I looked in a PDR the box and most of the warnings were gone and lots of other people were on it with no problems either, unless they got pregnant. So I am pretty blasé and would have this vaccine in a heartbeat if I hadn’t already had Moderna.
Thank you, Alain, for all you did for this community.
Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)
What a lovely post about Alain, Cole. Thank you. RIP, Alain
Conservatives are well-known for their hypocrisy. Of course, Lindell doesn’t see this as hypocrisy I’m sure because “taking the Lord’s name in vain” is different because reasons. I mean, imagine naming your social network “Frank” (as in having a frank talk, “telling it like it is”, freeze peach, etc) and one of the rules of said social network is you can’t say mundane crap like “OMG” without being banned
Thanks for the remembrance, John. I’m grateful for Alain and I miss him.
Thanks, Cole, for the lovely tribute to Alain. Your more frequent posts of late are welcome!
@Sister Golden Bear: The GOP and Christianists love to feel superior by demonizing humans. I don’t know if there is a way to reorient bigots. There are studies that trying to reason causes people to dig in their heels.
@Comrade Colette: I made my mother get her first one for her 70th birthday + six weeks of whining and complaining about she cut own nails just fine and didn’t want a stranger touching her feet, yada, yada and she loved it and wanted to go every three weeks and would pay if I wanted. I can’t take the foot rub they do with moisturizer at the end, so I just tell them to dab the stuff on and just spread it and there’s no problem. I know John gets them and there are often male customers at the place I go. It’s lovely.
@Goku (aka Amerikan Baka)
I’ll go out on a limb here and predict Frank tanks.
Thank you John.
Today, we got word that Corporate policy has changed.
If sick, don’t come to work, unlimited paid sick time, no questions asked.
What a kind and wonderful post. Such a thoughtful man he was. As my people say, “May his memory be for a blessing”– which as a big ol’ secular agnostic, I never quite got, and look here: you just did that.
@NotMax: Frank’s Red Hot? Put that sh*t on everything!
(Burman’s hot sauce will also work.)
The first time I ever used the Contact a Front Pager feature on this here blurg, it was a message to Alain to discuss the site’s then available Page Up, Page Down buttons, (which I loved, BTW), and to my pleasant surprise, he stayed with me until all my questions had been more than fully answered. Great guy.
So old can remember when it was a snap to memorize the choices of hot sauces at the ol’ A&P: Tabasco, Frank’s or the (AFAIK long since defunct) bargain brand Fire House.
Although IMHO calling the recipe on that page a martini is several bridges too far.
Screwed up the linky, didn’t I? Fingers on the hand of injected arm still not back up to snuff.
Fix – Source.
I know how to mix things! Lalala!
Just call them “cocktail enthusiasts” – which is being charitable.
Monday night, Stephen Colbert said that he’s looking for a new word, acronym, phrase, to reference TFG. I think you should nominate your “Soviet shitpile mobster conman” thing.
Hey, it’s CBS. They can say anything there. ;)
They used a couple of decent ones last night:
Also, I approve of your suggestion.
*pours out a lil’ liquor*
That’s good news! Bit of a Catch-22, though. ?
Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
Thank you, John Cole. That was a lovely tribute to Alain, very moving.
@JWR: Time to make a Twitter account! Hi! StephenAtHome!
last year, at roughly this time, Corporate “gave” us 28 paid sick days off for Covid.
A shit load of the most vulnerable people, then immediately took 28+5 off. Over of 1/4 of the staff. No sick time left.
So now, shortly after the “end” of the second wave and the start of the third wave, ( which is making a joke of the “second wave),
And with 18 stores in Quebec, 28 in Ontario, shut down,
Corporate has finally realized, when it comes to Covid, it’s cheaper to have many employees book off with pay, than having a store shut down.
On Sunday, my store made bank. We hit our targets across the board, 11 days into the month. So, rough figures, we are making almost 50% per month, over last year, plus the 10% “improvements” the MBA’s demanded.
Alain was good people. Gone too soon???
A year. Still brings sadness that he left us too soon. I was in the process of assembling my second OTR submission when I read the news. I continue to submit photos as a connection to Alain and his generous spirit. Thanks to WaterGirl for taking that mantle so graciously.