What Is A Rhizome?

My friends and family would tell you that I am a picky eater. There is some truth in that. But I’d contest it a little too. I just have a higher than average number of things I won’t eat.

But there are things that I will eat, to the surprise of everyone around me.

For instance, just the other night, my wife and I had dinner with another couple. We met at a Thai restaurant because I like Thai food. See? I’m not hard to get along with. I’m fine with different cuisines. If there are dishes without fish or mushrooms, I can find something that I’ll enjoy.

Do you think that’s free-range serpent? (image by Thomas Brown CCbySA2.0)

Our group sat, chatted and looked over the menu. The conversation turned to what everyone was having. I settled on a chicken dish with an unpronounceable name. Fortunately, it was also labeled D16 for people like me who don’t speak Thai.

I was a little concerned about my decision. Though Unpronounceable Chicken D16 didn’t have mushrooms or fish among its ingredients, it did have something called rhizomes.

“Do any of you know what a rhizome is?”, I asked my table mates, “I’m pretty sure I recall the word from fourth grade science class, but I don’t remember what it is.”

There was general agreement that we’d all experienced the word as part of vocabulary tests in our youth, but no one knew exactly what it meant. An opinion was advanced that is was somehow biological in nature. I found this last point reassuring because there was a good chance that I would be eating it.

Rhizome (rahy-zome), noun: A science vocabulary word sometimes found in Thai cuisine.

They’re Usually Good For Some Advice

“Let people eat what they want. It’s none of our business.” Clarence Darrow, 1926 (image public domain)

You know, I like attorneys. My wife is one.  So are both halves of the couple we ate with. Attorneys usually give great advice, like “don’t sign that” or “don’t say anything”. But none of the three lawyers I dined with said anything to dissuade me from ordering a dish with an ingredient we could not define. There are a lot of classes in law school about things folks should not do and how to advise them not to do those things. That education apparently does not extend to guiding others to a wise menu decision. Lawyers aren’t trained to say “don’t eat that”.

So I ordered Unpronounceable Chicken D16, rhizomes and all. We also ordered some appetizers, which gave me time to become more concerned about my order. I wondered if I’d made a mistake by being too adventurous. Where was that picky eater version of me when I needed him? How many rhizomes would there be and should I ask for an extra plate to push them off on to?

Rhizome (rahy-zome), noun: A science vocabulary word sometimes found in Thai cuisine. Rhizomes are known to cause elevated stress levels in some humans who consume them. Lawyers are immune to the stress effects of the rhizome because they are bright enough to not eat things which they can not define.

The Rise Of The Rhizomes

This is a rhizome. Not my rhizome. I wouldn’t have eaten this one. (image public domain)

So I was tense by the time our entrees arrived at the table. There, among the chicken and assorted chopped vegetables on my plate, were my rhizomes. At that moment, I learned that rhizomes are not any sort of animal.

These particular rhizomes were tiny, light-green spheres on little stalks.  There were about twenty spheres on each two-inch stalk. They put me in mind of grapes, if you had a whole stalk of those freakishly tiny grapes you sometimes find in a bunch of normal ones. I don’t know if mine were representative of all rhizomes; I’m going to assume that they were for the sake of this piece.

“So, these are my rhizomes. How do you suppose I should eat them?”, I asked. My wife said, “yeah, that’s probably them”. The other two at the table were equally helpful.

Rhizome (rahy-zome), noun: A science vocabulary word sometimes found in Thai cuisine. Rhizomes are known to cause elevated stress levels in some humans who consume them. Lawyers are immune to the stress effects of the rhizome because they are bright enough to not eat things which they can not define.

Rhizomes are not animals. They grow in bunches on some sort of plant and are very much like that one tiny green grape at the bottom of the stem.

Think I’m A Picky Eater? I Know A Rhizome That Would Disagree

We all started eating and continued chatting. The company was good and so was my Unpronounceable Chicken D16. But I avoided the rhizomes. I left them alone until I felt certain that I would not be noticed, and then I cut one of the little green spheres from the stem. It fit between the tines of my fork.

And when I bit into the rhizome sphere, it crunched. It was nothing like a grape, once I got past first impressions. It was neither sweet nor juicy. There will probably never be a market for rhizome wine, or jelly. In fact the overwhelming flavor of the rhizome was…nothing. It was a tiny, crunchy bite of nothing.

Rhizome (rahy-zome), noun: A science vocabulary word sometimes found in Thai cuisine. Rhizomes are known to cause elevated stress levels in some humans who consume them. Lawyers are immune to the stress effects of the rhizome because they are bright enough to not eat things which they can not define

Rhizomes are not animals. They grow in bunches on some sort of plant and are very much like that one tiny green grape at the bottom of the stem. They are just like that tiny grape in a bunch of normal grapes, if that grape is hard and flavorless. So it is not like the tiny grape, because we all know the tiny grape is one of the best of the bunch.

And so the evening ended. I gained a little knowledge about people who practice law, and even less about rhizomes. I also proved that I am not a picky eater.

I apologize to my fourth grade teacher, if she is still alive, for not knowing if a rhizome is a plant or an animal. I was paying attention. No, I was not daydreaming, I probably just forgot what you told me. For what it is worth, I’m pretty sure that sharp kid who you were so sure was going to law school doesn’t remember either.

Did you find this page while you were looking for the real definition of rhizome? Sorry to have wasted your time, but you really should have figured out that I don’t know what I’m talking about long before you got down here. Anyhow, you can find that definition here.

Five Routine Minutes: Sharing A Diet Coke With Omar

I haven’t run a Five Routine Minutes post in a while. For those who haven’t seen one before, this is the most poorly illustrated series on the net. Also, many times, what’s depicted doesn’t even add up to two minutes. But I like the idea as a goofy way to tell a story, so I’m resurrecting the series.

My wife has had to work a few recent weekends. That’s not typical and we’re taking it in stride. She’s done a lot of it at home. But this weekend she knew there was an event I wanted to attend.

Artist’s note: Despite what the drawing shows, my wife does not look like me. That would be creepy. Also, my goatee does not make my face look fat.


Read the rest of this entry »

The Power Of My Mom’s Capes


Well, it has been a busy week. The cat has allergies, I had stuff to get done at home, my son is graduating from college and Mother’s Day is Sunday.

I’m re-posting this piece from four years ago in honor of my Mom and my son, two of my favorite people and because I like it. Got a problem with that? Well maybe I’ll just bring my cat over and let him sneeze on you.

Originally posted on Blurt:

I went into my son’s room the other day. It is kind of quiet in there, what with the away at school thing we have going on. I just like going in there.  Hooked on the back of the door are three little kid sized capes.

My Mom’s Capes

Superman (comic book) Image via Wikipedia

My mother can make anything. She has always been that sort, always will be. If you give her two things, she will make a third whose function is barely related to the original. Her creative ability is unrivaled. This ability was a real help when I was very young.

My parents and I lived in a tenement apartment, two floors above my grandparents, in Hoboken, NJ. My folks were young and struggling to get their feet under them; there wasn’t a lot of money coming in. Options for getting me outside were pretty limited. It was a tough…

View original 362 more words

This Tomato Thinks I Know What I’m Doing

Last year, I decided that I wanted to have a small vegetable garden on our patio.

I bought containers and plants, and assembled what I had into a tomato and jalapeño factory. There was no rhyme or reason to my choice of crops. I suppose I just like tomatoes and hot peppers.  If farmers chose their crops the way I do, we’d end up with a lot peppers and no Brussels sprouts. The world would be a better place

I am a farmer

I am a farmer

By the end of the summer, I declared my garden a success. My wife and I had fresh tomatoes for our salads until the first frost. The jalapeño harvest was prodigious; there’s still half of a gallon bag of spicy goodness in our freezer. But the biggest success of my garden was the enjoyment I got from it.

I tend to think that if a little of something is good, more is better. Sometimes that philosophy works, sometimes it gets me in trouble. But my plan this year is to have a bigger garden. A small garden equaled a little fun, so a big garden should equal a lot, right? Read the rest of this entry »

What Can We Learn About Male Frequent Urination From Steve Winwood?

When we were growing up, it was common for those in my generation to go on car trips with our parents. I suppose that you could say that we were the first generation to spend so much time on the road. And part of the ritual of those long drives was hearing our parents say “shouldn’t you go to the bathroom before we start?”

Parents loading the kids into a Conestoga wagon and heading to the Great Plains didn’t ask that question. We were the first to hear that. And now that we are older, gentlemen of my generation are the first to endure constant reminders of an unpleasant reality. Television advertising for some prescription medications has pounded into our heads that, as men age, we have to make more trips to the restroom.

This Shouldn’t Be Difficult

It isn’t hard to use. You don’t even have to lift the seat. (public domain)

But despite that head pounding, despite the reality of “going” over and over, many of my peers can’t seem to remember that nature will call. Not only will nature call, she will call more often than she did when we were twenty or thirty. If only our memories were as good as they were back then.

Now, I’m sure that some would wonder why I think that how often they do their business is any of my business. The answer is that, for the most part, it isn’t. In fact, because I walk that same worn down path to the urinal as my peers, I understand what they’re enduring. What I don’t understand is that so many of those peers can’t seem to remember that they will have to go to the bathroom sooner than they’d like to. Read the rest of this entry »

Suing For Cream Cheese Frosting

My friends, I was wronged. For more than a week now, I’ve struggled with the shock of the deception perpetrated upon me.  I’ve told myself to put it behind myself. I can’t.

I can’t and I won’t.

On Easter, I enjoyed brunch with my wife at one of our favorite establishments. This restaurant (which I won’t name due to my intent to take legal action against everyone in the place who took part in wronging me) is a favorite of ours.

The icing carrot should be a sign that you’re getting the good stuff (image by Joe Mabel CCbySA3.0)

Easter was different than our usual visits. The food was still good. But instead of the usual menu, there was a huge buffet. And while I enjoyed the entrees and vegetables that I picked out, my mind was on the dessert table. Right in the middle of that table was a carrot cake.

I love carrot cake.

Carrot Cake Doesn’t Make Sense

Did I mention that I love carrot cake? I do. Read the rest of this entry »

Five Things Maya Angelou Didn’t Say, On A Stamp

It seems that poet Maya Angelou didn’t say the quote attributed to her on the stamp the United States Postal Service created in her honor.



The stamp reads “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. Ms. Angelou, an inspirational author, poet and speaker, is responsible for so many inspirational lines. Sadly, the one about the singing bird isn’t one of hers. Another writer, Joan Walsh Anglund, produced that gem.

Maya Angelou wrote seven books in addition to her poems, plays and speeches. It is hard to conceive of how the Postal Service couldn’t track down a line that they were certain that Ms. Angelou was responsible for.

Obviously, this stamp is going to have to be redesigned with a new quote or a picture of Ms. Anglund. Since I have some time on my hands, I figured that I’d rework the stamp with some new quotes. In the spirit of the designer of the original Angelou stamp, I have created five new stamps with things Ms. Angelou never said.

It isn’t easy to come up with things that a person never said. There’s no data base to track such things. And even with someone as prolific as Ms. Angelou, the things she didn’t say far out number those that she did. I had to take a different path.

I chose to redesign the Angelou stamp using the words of another quotable American – Muhammad Ali. Read the rest of this entry »


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