Grilled Pork Steaks; Jorge Knott and Beatrice Nikoley…Anecdotes and Salutes

It’s Monday evening, up at the cabin.

Beatrice and I left town Saturday morning. We drove to Sacramento, checked into a hotel, and went over to Jorge’s home—one that takes its foundation in an old neighborhood. It’s this side of humble, but cool—a superlative, old growth tree neighborhood that he was happy with; and, he  paid off that house about 10 years ago.

When I first saw it many years prior, I loved it on more of an ethical level than anything; by which I mean, the ethic of it was gravy. I knew he’d likely live his whole life there. It was a wise choice on levels and tranches of the wisdom he was all about. He was already in touch with that so long ago. It was a cool place with much potential. He attained most of that over the years in little improvements here and there, making it more and more about him, and his own.

…It was for a celebration of his truncated life that we were there for the whole afternoon. Dozens upon dozens of people from all over the world in attendance (the number of friends he collected over time a space…). My own entry. Dozens of people spoke, relating their stories of him…from sea to shining sea, and Cal Berkley.

Jorge’s Humble Abode

Switching gears, now, Beatrice just finished her 29th or 30th year of teaching kids. When school ends at about 2:30 every afternoon, she almost never gets home before 5:30 or so. Sometimes much later. 7:30 is not uncommon.

It annoys me, sometimes. …That’s only until I tell myself to fuck off.

When I do that, it’s not long after that I contemplate her lifelong devotion to actually focusing on her kids, and never being an active member of the California Teacher’s Association Union. …Caring over and over and over and only and only and only about those kids that she faces every day, with no real thought of “contracts.”

Live, Says Jorge

I’ve been with her for about 15 years. The word “Union” has never come out of her mouth once. Ever. Not one pathetic pay-me-or-hired-gun’s-ll-force-you pussy shit. She doesn’t give a shit, unlike her inferiors. But what do I know? Perhaps Union agitation is just all the bomb and I’m just a clueless idiot. Well, I’ll bed down in ignorance, then.

I fixed her a meal tonight. I think she liked it. I hope.

No Union Members were harmed, or were their contacts cut or threatened, or did any union member get the slightest whiff of a hint that they would not get to, nonetheless, get to collect an unearned living in the cooking of this meal.

IMG 0981
Pork Steaks

I grilled the pork steaks on the barbie. In the meantime, I sauteed lots of shallot and mushroom in butter, reduced white wine, and then reduced a full 2 quarts of chicken stock to get a full flavorful and non thickened sauce (yea, I strained out the sauce in the end).

I hate my wife, dontacha know?

And here’s this evening’s music selection. R.E.M. Everybody Hurts. Came to me in that last second, here. It’s the way things roll with me, now and then. And I always roll with it when it does.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. Shelley on June 12, 2012 at 05:45

    cool – that’s what I’ll make for dinner tonight, and I should also copy some of Jorge’s interior decorating skills!

    And, good for Bea not caving to the union pressure. Being from Flint, MI, home of unions, I am thankful my family felt more of a prisoner than a participant, and knowing that in order for their kids to be successful they needed to escape their propaganda BS (and that was well over 35 years ago).

  2. Pauline on June 12, 2012 at 07:57

    There is something movingly beautiful about Jorge’s home. You feel it in the rich colours and textures, the artwork, the light and simplicity. I have seen similar homes that have this feel about them in in Cape Town, usually near the sea where there is music and people living a somewhat alternative lifestyle. I relate to it on so many levels – at heart I am a hippy free-spirit child of the universe, tethered lightly to whatever is my temporary home.

  3. Joe on June 12, 2012 at 09:33

    Your wife might not care about unions or contracts, but every paycheck is larger due to the efforts of the union. Look at the states with weak educational unions and then look at the pay. If you would like to have the same paycheck as South Dakota or North Dakota, then get rid of unions. I spent 35 years in education and my wife spent 30. We live in a very non union state, and my wife generally spent 3-5 extra hours each day working. That was ok for her and ok for your wife, but I am not convinced that is how things should be for the educational professional.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 12, 2012 at 09:53

      She doesn’t mind it so much, given that she gets a total of about a month off of work days per school year over and above the workaday norm, and just a bit over two full months off for the summer.

  4. Srdjan Andrei Ostric on June 13, 2012 at 04:28

    That seems like a really nice place for writing, Richard. I am sorry about Jorge…I don’t think I got the chance to mention that when we spoke…he really seemed like a cool dude, like yourself…I am beginning to think that the animal you are sometimes is a big teddy bear….just a guess…a teddy bear with a big hunting knife in his back pocket! Anyway, enjoy your trip!

  5. Sonagi on June 13, 2012 at 16:17

    Last winter our of our teaching assistants came out of the counselor’s office in tears. She was facing a mandatory investigation after a young child told his mom that the slight bruise he got falling down on the playground was inflicted by the TA. Mom took her Medicaid-insured child to the emergency room to be examined. Fortunately, the child’s injury had been documented by nurse so the TA was cleared, but she will likely have to divulge the incident in future job applications after she finishes her certification program. At the next faculty meeting, the school rep for the local chapter of the NEA reminded us that monthly membership benefits included $1 million coverage against lawsuits and access to education association attorneys. I signed up as did most teachers and TAs who weren’t already members. I care about kids and I care about contr4cts because I have a mortgage to pay and retirement to think about since my paleoish living is intended to improve my longevity. My colleagues care about contracts, too; most have kids to support. I bet you care very much, Richard, about contracts you sign. There’s nothing honorable about an educator not caring about remuneration or working conditions. If she, in fact, doesn’t really care, well, that’s her personal choice, and not one I’d care to emulate or admire in someone who’s no doubt as fantastic at what she does as the terrific counselor at our school.

    • Richard Nikoley on June 14, 2012 at 08:58


      I perhaps I should have made it more clear in the post that this is _my_ impression of her _general_ attitude, given my observation of her over 15 years. I’m sure the subject of what the unions was doing has come up a time or two on walks or drives over the years, but that pales in comparison to the thousands of stories about her kids.

      While I’m sure she actually does care about her working conditions, pay, benefits, etc., I also don’t think she’s the type that sits around in the faculty lounge commiserating with others about how tough things are for them, what the union ought to do about it, etc.

      She’s never gone off to picket for anything. Perhaps she was involved in a door-to-door something-or-other in the neighborhood where the school is actually located, but I don’t really know.

      So, that’s the distinction I was trying to draw. My impression is that, with or without the union, she’d still be a school teacher. It’s all she ever wanted to be.

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