Monday, December 31, 2007
Tomorrow, Stephen (aka Yankee Boy since he ate Ritz Crackers with his chili the other night) and I will partake of an old Southern tradition. We will eat black eyed peas on New Year's Day. Usually I make a big ol' pot of black eyed pea soup. That way I can add some tomatoes, cumin, onion and what ever else suits my fancy in order to give the peas a little flavor since they don't have much of their own. Dried peas are starchy and bland but contain a fair amount of protein and, like all legumes, are often used as a meat replacement.
This year, I asked Stephen to pick up some peas at the store and he brought back a couple of cans since that is what he saw first. That's OK with me. We never eat all the soup and I end up throwing a lot of it out. Anyway, with canned peas I can make Texas Caviar. This means that I drained the peas and added red and green onions, read and green sweet peppers, some red wine vinegar and really good olive oil along with a little salt and pepper. It is now marinating in the fridge overnight and will be a quick and easy side dish tomorrow.
The tradition of eating black eyed peas on New Year's Day dates back to the Depression. It was said that if you still had peas by the first of the year, you were lucky. Some traditionalist insist on adding turnip greens and cornbread to make the meal complete but I have always settled for the peas. I make cornbread if I make the soup. You just have to have something to soak up the juice.
A man who lived in the town in which I grew up had been a young man during the Depression. Until the day he died, he said that he always tipped his hat to a pea patch because peas kept him and his family from starving to death during those hard years.
Tomorrow we will eat the peas because it is a tradition and because it is said that to do so brings good luck during the coming year. We will be reminded that there have been times when people in this country were not as fortunate as we are now and we will be grateful for our peas and for everything else we have. Mostly, we will be grateful for each other.
Photo of peas from http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www1.istockphoto.com/file_thumbview_approve/547632/2/istockphoto_547632_black_eyed_peas.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.istockphoto.com/file_closeup/%3Fid%3D547632%26refnum%3D315636&h=304&w=380&sz=64&hl=en&start=2&um=1&tbnid=bG0WH1mvckhQhM:&tbnh=98&tbnw=123&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dblack%2Beyed%2Bpeas%2Bplants%26svnum%3D10%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26rls%3DGGLG,GGLG:2005-47,GGLG:en%26sa%3DN
Saturday, December 22, 2007
The Meyer lemon (Citrus × meyeri) is a citrus fruit, native to China, thought to be a cross between a true lemon and a mandarin orange or sweet orange. The Meyer lemon was introduced to the United States in 1908 as S.P.I. #23028, by the agricultural explorer Frank Meyer, an employee of the United States Department of Agriculture who collected a sample of the plant on a trip to China. It is commonly grown in China potted as an ornamental plant. It became popular as a food item in the United States after being rediscovered by chefs, such as Alice Waters at Chez Panisse, during the California Cuisine revolution. The Meyer lemon is also known as the Valley lemon in southern Texas due to its popularity in the Rio Grande Valley region.
Here are the ones we bought this morning at the farmer's market. It seems that this is the prime time for them here in Texas and that they are a some what freeze resistant variety of citrus. These are grown in a near by town by a man who has only one tree. I have been buying from him for several weeks now. I plan to buy my own tree and keep in in a large pot.
Monday, December 17, 2007
Fill the well of a margarita glass with you favorite tequila...I used Antiqua Cruz which is so mellow that it has no bite at all making it dangerous stuff.
Squeeze a little meyer lemon juice into the tequila.
Drop a piece of candied ginger into it.
Fill the rest of the glass with Reed's Extra Ginger ginger beer.
Run the meyer lemon around the top of the glass and enjoy the drink.
The piece of ginger began to fizz as soon as I dropped it in and continued to do so until I had finished the drink.
I am sure that this would be OK with a regular lemon but nothing tastes quite like a meyer.
I would not bother to make it with regular ginger ale.
I have not thought of a name for this cocktail and am open to suggestions.
Soundtrack for this post: Herb Alpert's Tequila and I don't want to hear about Pee Wee.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
About six years ago, Stephen said that he had always wanted to try making soap. I had been wanting to try it for years but had been discouraged by a friend who had tried to make part of her living doing it and had told me that you have to had a set of pots and pans that were designated for soap making and that it was a hassle and I don't remember what else. She made it sound like way to much to deal with. However, when Stephen started talking about it, I got on line and started reading up on it. Turns out, you can use any nonreactive cookware that is big enough to hold your soap and any nonreactive vessel to hold your lye solution. After making our first batch, we were addicted to home made soap. It doesn't dry your skin since all the glycerin remains in the soap rather than being milled out like in commercial soap. (Actually, most commercial soap isn't really soap and doesn't claim to be if you read the label.)
Stephen has pretty much lost interest in the making of soap but I have continued to make it. I give away as much as we use. (I have to so that I can keep experimenting. I love working with different combinations of essential oils to come up with new scents.)
Making soap is a process that has to be approached with a certain amount of caution. In order to make true soap, you have to mix fat, water and lye. As the saying goes: no lye, no soap. When the lye and water are mixed together, it puts off noxious fumes while heating up to at least 150 degrees. I always to this outside. Then I mix my oils in my big enamel pot and heat them to 100 degrees just about the time the lye water cools down to 100 degrees. Then I get my trusty stick blender and stir until it traces (this is when it is the consistency of thick pudding and a drop makes an indention when it hits the surface). At this point, I add the essential oils that I have decided to use and pour it into molds. If I have used box molds, I score the soap as soon as it it set enough, usually between three and eight hours. The next morning I turn it out of the molds and set it in cardboard boxes lined with wax paper for about four weeks. By this time it has saponified which means that the acids in the fats have neutralized the alkaline lye and the ph is around 9. Sometimes I use plastic molds to give my bars a prettier shape. In this case, I put them in the freezer the next day and leave them up to 2 hours so that the soap will pop out. Then I put them in the boxes to cure for four weeks. I have a tried and true recipe that has never let me down. This process is known as cold process (CP) soap making and the soap looks something like this:
Today, I tried hot process (HP) for the first time. It was a dismal failure. I screwed up by not putting a lid on the soap while it was in the oven. I used my usual CP recipe as several sites I looked at said I could do but I think that may have been part of the problem. I got a big mess that looked like this after messing with this stuff all day. It looks like this:
It is funky and gunky and illustrates the old adage about home made soap and ugly. I have put it in the garage and will grind part of it up and rebatch it some day when I am really bored. I will try this again with a different recipe and this time, I'll keep a lid on it.
Soundtrack for this post: SS Bathtub, David LaMotte
I never use the word never except in past perfect tense as in " I have never....." Same with always. Never and always imply absolutes and there are seldom absolutes in this life.
I rarely assume that people like me when I first meet them. I'm usually a little surprised when they do.
I cry so seldom that I don't remember the last time I did. I know that there is value in crying and have gotten really messed up when I needed to cry and couldn't. I'm talking about not eating or sleeping for days at a time and really wishing I could just cry and get over myself.
I'm not always honest. There, I said it. If you ask me if that shirt looks good on you and I can tell that you really like the ugly assed thing, I'll lie and say that it looks great. If you ask me if someone said something nasty about you and they did and I heard it, knowing that it will just hurt you if I tell you about it, I'll say that I don't know anything about it. You get the picture.
I lose my reading glasses at least a dozen times a day.
I'm confused and I like it.
I miss Austin the way it was ten years ago before it doubled in size and I could afford to live closer to the center of town.
I need...I can't think of anything that I really need. Now if we are talking about things I want or would like to have, that's a whole nuther thang.
I should... Should is another word that has little presence in my vocabulary. It implies that something is lacking or less than perfect the way it is and that there is a certain discipline missing that needs to be adhered to in order to make things "right".
I love...my life in this 'big 'ol goofy world.'
I pass this meme along to anyone who wants to do it.....I'd really like to read whatever Flip would come up with.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Monday, December 10, 2007
Saturday, December 8, 2007
This is what said my father 27 years ago upon hearing about John's death.
(Of course I told him that he most likely heard John's music every day and started naming some songs. He decided that he did like the music after all as long as someone else was doing it.)
I have to marvel at the irony that so many of our most peaceful people have such violent departures from this planet. I think that may be one of the ways in which they go on teaching us. John was certainly a great teacher/messenger. His message continues to be heard even though he physically left long ago. Maybe it still rings so clear because he left after he had stated it as clearly as he could and, having no more to say, exited in a way that put a big exclamation point at the end.
It is up to us to imagine the world the way he did.
No need to name the soundtrack to this post.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Sunday, December 2, 2007
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
The game is at the bottom in the center of the page.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
This year is a little different. I have a chicken roasting in the oven and will roast or saute some of the vegetables from last Saturday's trip to the farmer's market. Since I made mozzarella a few days ago, I had whey with which I made bread yesterday. I have been doing this on a regular basis because store bought bread has way to many things in it that I can't pronounce and the last loaf we bought stayed in the cabinet for a month without going bad. That scared me!
I found meyer lemons at the farmer's market and Mistrel Boy reminded me of this recipe that I had been wanting to try whenever I was fortunate enough to find meyers. I had tried making a Shaker pie years ago with a recipe that I had come across somewhere. It tasted like citronella and left me thinking that I would never make another one. I have to agree with MB. It Rocks. Out. Loud.
I cheated on the crust but the rest of the recipe is exactly what is on his site. Next time, I may put some candied ginger in it or substitute some ginger syrup for part of the sugar.
soundtrack: Joel Raphael's Lemon Grove or anything from his Woodyboye or Woodeye cds 'cause it is good to remember that not everyone is fortunate enough to eat like this.
Monday, November 19, 2007
I have been trying to include at least something local in every meal. This has meant making an effort to get to the farmer's market every Saturday. Last night a friend came over for dinner and most of my haul from the farmer's market was sitting on the table. It is just to pretty to put in the 'fridge until I have to. Most of it won't last long enough to need to be refrigerated anyway. My friend said that I should take a picture of it and I decided that she was right.
I have been overjoyed to find so many fall tomatoes. We had very few this summer due to too much rain. I have eaten so many that my mouth has gotten sore and I have had to stop eating them. I got some last Saturday anyway along with baby eggplants, various colors of sweet peppers, apples, and Meyer lemons grown only a few miles away. I also scored some wonderful oak leaf lettuces, sweet basil and garlic. I missed out on eggs and mushrooms this week. When I got there just after 11:00 they were already sold out. Oh well, there is always next week.
If I really did not want to get out to the market, I could have Greenling deliver local organic produce to my door. We can also get locally produced olive oil, although right now it would be cost prohibitive to buy enough for cooking and soap making. Texas wines have come a long way in the past few years and if we chose, we could get as much wine as we could drink from no more than 70 miles from home and not feel deprived. We don't drink enough wine to make that an issue. Wheat is also grown here but I am not sure where it is processed into flour so I will do the best I can for bread making.
Of course, the best way to 'eat local' is to have a garden of your own. So far, I have not had a place to do much of that. I hope to remedy that in the next year or two. In the mean time, I have a blast at the farmer's market where I can take Lani if I choose and listen to live music while munching an organic pastry as I do my shopping.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Stomp the Devil
2. Another church sign: Jesus is your only life insurance.
(Does he work for Allstate? Prudential?????)
3. Yet another church: Eternity:Smoking or Non-smoking?
4. Another: Give Satan an inch and he'll be a ruler.
5. Yet another: Stop, Drop, and Roll doesn't work in hell.
(How does anyone know?)
6. Another church:Forbidden Fruit Creates Many Jams
7. Common on several church signs that I have seen:Join us for a new beginning
(Can one have an old beginning?)
8. On a plumber's truck: We'll get you out of a jam
9. On a porta-potty truck: Austin Outhouse
(This one is not really so goofy but it pains those of us who have been here long enough to
remember a really cool club by the same name.)
10. Hair salon: Mane Event
11. Another hair salon: Scizzors of Oz
12. Anther hair salon: The Greatful Head
(This could also be on a porta-pot is any one ever thought about it.)
13. A steakhouse that is now long gone: A Raw Deal
Just thought of the perfect soundtrack for this post: Berkley Hart's 911 Jesus
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
The fairies have lived high in the branches during the summer sheltered by thick leaves. As the days have grown shorter, the leaves have begun to fall affording less cover for the fairies. They have been slowly moving down to their winter home at the base of the tree and under its roots. Lani is keeping a sharp eye on their movements through the space at the bottom where the trees have stayed just far enough apart to remind themselves of their individuality.
I think the fairies have enchanted her because she cannot stay away from the trees. She is so obsessed that she can hardly stay indoors long enough to eat. As soon as we open the door for her, she races around the trees to look into the hole from the other side then creeps back around to look in from the side nearest the house. She will chase the squirrels who are feasting on the bumper crop of acorns but always comes back to the patio where she lies on the concrete and stares at the gap between the trees. We have peered into the gap many times and can see nothing. However, if I listen closely, I can sometimes here the faint flutter of tiny wings.
Soundtrack for this post: Into the Mystic, Van Morrison
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Friday, November 2, 2007
Thursday, November 1, 2007
2. It can make people think you are a negative person.
3. It can make you feel that you are a negative person.
4. Focusing on negative aspects of a situation attracts more negativity to the situation.
5. Focusing on the negative aspects of a situation may very well attract more negative situations.
6. It's a waste of energy and you often feel guilty about it later.
7. Complaining about what you don't have just emphasizes to your self that you don't have it.
8. People get sick of listening to you complain.
9. You get sick of listening to yourself complain.
10. Getting sick of listening to yourself can cause you to actually get sick.
11. Most of the time, things are not as bad as we make them sound like they are.
12. Focusing on the negative makes it easy to overlook the positive.
13. It really is not very much fun. It does not make you feel good and
nothing is more important than feeling good.
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
The challenge is to go twenty-one days without complaining. That is right, twenty-one days. That is until November 14. However, if I slip and complain, the twenty-one day period starts over.
I have tried for the most part to keep this blog from becoming a running rant, in fact, I have made a conscious effort not to write bitchy, whiny, complaining blogs. Feel free to bust my chops if you feel that I have done otherwise. Now I will try to bring that over into my every day life. The main point of this exercise for me is to break a habit. I realize that this is likely to cause a mental shift and I will find fewer and fewer reasons to complain by the end of it.
Who is with me?
Soundtrack for this post: What a Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong
Monday, October 29, 2007
Entering downtown from the interstate means that I hit the east end of 6th Street and drive it toward Brazos hoping to find parking in the block just east of Brazos and avoid valeting my car.
As I turned on to 6th yesterday, I thought I might be hallucinating. Could that really be Christmas decorations hanging over the street? It is not even Halloween yet! I know that retailers have had some Christmas stuff up since August but why on Earth has the city decided to hang green tinsel and guitars over the street so early? There is a big Halloween party down on 6th every year. The street is closed off to vehicular traffic and the crown gets so thick that all one can do is make a circle up one way and back the other. It is going to look bizarre with Christmas overhead.
In the past, the city has hung the decorations the Sunday after of before Thanksgiving. I think someone has lost his/her mind.
It is sooo trashy the only soundtrack for this post has to be: Robert Earl Keen, Merry Christmas from the Family and its sequel, Happy Holiday, Ya'll.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Thursday, October 25, 2007
2. A lot of the city sits over caves. That is right, caves. We don't think about it very much until someone gets lost in one.
3. The 3oth Parallel skirts the southern most part of town. (Some maps make it look as though it runs right through my house.) It also runs through the Great Pyramid.
4. The downtown hotel where I work is haunted.
5. Although Austin is known far and wide for its live music scene, it is also the breakfast taco capital of the world. You can get both at the same time if you know where to go.When people move away from here, breakfast tacos are usually high on the list of things they miss most. It seems that in South Austin, there is a taco trailer on every other corner. We is damn serious 'bout our breakfast tacos.
6. South Austin is hippy central. We call anything north of where Loop 1 and 183 meet "North Dallas."
7. Loop 1 is referred to by locals as 'Mopac.' This is because it runs along the Missouri Pacific railroad tracks.
8. Manchaca is pronounced "Manchack".
9. Pecos is pronounced "Paycus".
10. I can't phonetically spell the way Pedernales is pronounced.
11. Our mayor's name is Will Wynn. Can you imagine running for office against someone with that name?
12. Austin is now the 16th largest city in the nation after having at least doubled in size in the past ten years.
13. Real estate here is no longer all that much cheaper than California.
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Armed with the knowledge of the picnic areas, today we packed bread, cheese, prosciutto and some other munchies along with a few bottles of water (drinking wine can be dehydrating), and headed out toward Wimberley.
Our first stop was Bella Vista Ranch. This combination vineyard/winery/olive orchard is off Jacob's Well Road. We wound around the small county roads and almost missed it. Texas wines don't have the very best reputation. However, every bottle we tasted could hold its own with just about any wine I have ever had. We bought a bottle of cabernet sauvignon that was the best we had ever tasted. It was the only wine priced over $15.
Bella Vista is the first olive orchard in Texas . We got to listen to the last part of a lecture on how it is pressed and got to sample a little. I now know more about olive oil than I thought there was to know about olive oil. We bought a bottle and I am looking forward to using it on pasta and as a dipping sauce for bread from Phoenicia Bakery. They also had some wonderful balsamic vinegars. We sampled the blackberry pear infused balsamic. YUMMMM!
We took our food out to one of their picnic tables. They do not have the best picnic area of the wineries we have visited so far but, we got to watch a mama cow try to keep the vultures away from her calf that had been born this morning. I'm sure that they were wanting the afterbirth but she must not have known that. She was aided from time to time by a gelding who was in the same small pasture. Wine, lunch and a show. Can't beat that.
Next we went to Driftwood Vineyards. The view from their picnic area is fantastic. We sat in the chairs pictured on the website and the view is exactly as it appears in the photo. The wines from this vineyard were more tannic than we would have preferred. The owners were very nice. We bought a stopper system to keep wine after it is opened and got some advice on how t o keep it fresh for a few days. This was worth the stop for us because we never finish a bottle of wine at one sitting and ,therefore, don't drink very much of it. I have started some red wine vinegar so I will have a place to put left over wine and won't feel as though I am wasting it.
We did all of this and never got more that forty miles from south Austin. There was another winery we had thought about going to but decided to do it another day. A trip to the Salt Lick followed by a side trip to a winery is ad adventure to look forward to.
If you decide to go a winin', you need to take a little cash. Most of the tasting rooms charge $3 to $5 for their tastings which usually consist of five to six wines. I heard the woman at Driftwood tell a couple that they could share but I have not heard that anywhere else. Becker Vineyards will let you taste some of their wines at no charge but you can pay a fee and taste the premium wines. They also have a lavender farm but I have not been there in the spring when it is blooming. Their wines are very, very good.
Soundtrack for this post: Red, Red Wine, Roy Drusky version.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle Barbara Kingsolver
I grew up in a farming family and still learned a lot from this book. It gives a great picture of the journey our food takes to get to our tables. You will not view food the same way after reading it.
The Symbolism of the Tarot P.D. Ouspensky
He treats the Tarot the way Joseph Campbell treats ancient myth.
Illusions Richard Bach
No surprise here, huh? This is one of those books that I have to read again every few years. I always find something new in it or something that relates to where I am right now.
The Good Remembering Llyn Roberts
I study with Llyn every time I get the chance. She truly is a modern day shaman.
Skinny Legs and All Tom Robbins
I just have to go back and read a Robbins story every now and then. I laugh so hard I almost cry and still learn a few things.
The Astonishing Power of Emotions Abraham – Hicks
Ask and It is Given Abraham - Hicks
This is the original law of attraction stuff. However, it is much more than that and it is only that at the same time. If you can’t wrap your head around communications from non-physical beings, you can still appreciate the information given here. It picks up where Seth left off by giving practical ways to overcome your self-sabotaging behaviors and thoughts.
Anatomy of the Spirit Caroline Myss
Sacred Contracts Caroline Myss
This is an ongoing study for me. I am fascinated by the idea of only one entity of self although most of us have been taught to see a division between our bodies and our spirits with our minds as some kind of go between. With my work as massage therapist, craniosacral therapist and Reiki master, I am very aware of this connection and use it to facilitate improvement in my clients’ well being. I really want to study with Caroline Myss.
Coyote Medicine Lewis Mehl-Madrona
Coyote Wisdom Lewis Mehl-Madrona
Coyote Healing Lewis Mehl-Madrona
This author is an M. D. who is half Native-American and is very connected to Native American shamanism. I read a lot of books on shamanism and these are some of my favorites to date. He uses old stories to facilitate healing and explains the use of stories told for others as well as the way we use the stories we all tell ourselves. One of my favorite passages in these books is in Coyote Healing where he applies the story telling concept to MLMs. Having been lured into one of those for a short time, I was amazed by the similarities. He is another person with whom I would love to study.
I’m having a hard time figuring out which book I read 13 books ago. It was either:
Law Of Attraction Abraham- Hicks or
The Architecture of All Abundance Lenedra J. Carroll
I have given away several copies of this book. It contains wonderful insights on dealing with yourself, other people and life in general. The author is the mother of the singer Jewel. or
The Mermaid Chair Sue Monk Kidd
I seldom read light fiction but I like this author who also wrote The Secret Life of Bees. I guess she is more mid-weight than light.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
The hardest part of this whole process is finding milk that has not been ultra pasteurized. This process makes for a long shelf life but kills the bacteria that are necessary for making cheese. I have found it at Wheatsville Co-op and getting there takes about 20 minutes. Hopefully, it will become more widely available soon.
The soundtrack for this post would probably be the theme from the Adam's Family. With the sourdough starter, the vinegar that I am making from red wine and all the cheese and soap making, my kitchen is starting to resemble Uncle Fester’s lab.
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
I had ordered a cheese making kit last year and because it was on back order and took a long time to get to me, I was out of the mood to try it by the time it arrived. All the recipes in it look pretty complicated anyway. Because I had purchased the kit, I already had the rennet and a cheese thermometer. I had citric acid because I make soap and got some to give lotions a try which I have yet to do.
The recipe really did take only 3o minutes. I now have just over 17 ounces of yummy mozzarella made from regional organic milk. This is despite the fact that I screwed up one step of the recipe and added the citric acid directly to the milk before it started to get warm. I then added a fourth cup of water just to get the liquid level right. Also, I have rennet tablets rather than liquid rennet and had to look up the conversion online.
I also have a large amount of whey left in the pot on my stove. Tomorrow I will try making ricotta with it.
I think I will have to get my sour dough going again so that I can make a great pizza dough. If the ricotta turns out, cheesecake or lasagna may be in my future.
If anyone is interested, I got the kit from The Cheese People. As I said, it took a long time to get to me. You might want to try else where.
The citric acid and other soap supplies, including the best quality and lowest priced essential oils ever, usually come from Texas Natural Supply.
Soundtrack for this post: Anything by String Cheese Incident since most of their songs are about 30 minutes long.
Monday, October 15, 2007
It has been a little puzzling to me to tell just when autumn gets here the past few years anyway. When I was growing up, it was the smells that signaled its arrival. Our little town was thick with pecan trees. Every yard had at least two or three. Our yard had about a dozen. All of the kids (and some of the adults) made a few bucks picking up pecans and selling them. Raking the leaves off the yard (we never called them lawns) made it easier to find the pecans. Once the leaves were raked into piled, the best way to get rid of them was to burn them. They burned quickly and easily. I never heard of a serious fire getting started because someone let a leaf fire get away. You just raked up a pile out of the grass, which was brown and dry by then, cleared a small area around it of any combustibles, and dropped a lit match into it. The whole thing was over in five or ten minutes. The smell of burning leaves filled the air on autumn afternoons.
The other smell that wafted over the countryside was that of burning cotton burrs. The cotton was taken to a gin where the fibers were separated from the seeds and the dried burrs and other debris. The seeds were saved for replanting or cattle feed while the hulls went into a towering incinerator or burr burner. On chilly nights, the cool air kept the warm smoke close to the ground. It could be smelled for several miles.
The EPA decided that burning leaves and cotton burrs was polluting the air and I am sure that is so. Still, I miss those autumn smells. (I don’t know why they haven’t decided the same thing about burning rice straw from the fields in Arkansas and Missouri.)
Cotton is a very labor intensive crop. The ground has to be worked in late winter to get it ready for spring planting. Once it is planted, it has to be rolled. This means that a tractor pulls a set of rollers over it to cover the seeds. On big farms, they use tractors powerful enough to haul the planters and pull the rollers but on our little east Texas farms, that was not the case. Once the plants are up, you have to be diligent about keeping the weeds out of the crop. This is done was done by walking up and down each row with a hoe and chopping or digging up the weeds. Of course, herbicides are used as well but some things have to be done with the hoe. Then you have to keep the insects off the plants as best you can. This involves the use of more pesticides than you really want to think about. Then there is all the fertilizer. You get the picture.
When harvest time comes, a defoliant is sprayed on the field to kill the plant and make the leaves fall off so that the ‘stripper’ can take the cotton and what few dried leaves are left on the stalks off in one pass. The chemical smells for all the world like skunk spray. The old strippers were attached to the tractor and spit the cotton and debris into the trailer that was pulled behind. To keep the cotton from piling up in one place, someone had to ride in the back with a pitchfork and keep the cotton spread out. That was usually my job. I weighed no more than ninety pounds so I got bounced around a lot. The full trailers were taken to the gin where the cotton was graded, processed and baled. If you have ever heard the phrase fair to middlin’, you heard a cotton grade without realizing it. The grades were based on the length and condition of the fiber as well as how much debris was in it.
The harvesting equipment has evolved and now a huge cage fits over the tractor and catches the cotton. It then is compressed into big rectangles that are covered with tarps until it is moved to the gin on trucks. This requires much larger tractors and small acreages are pretty much a thing of the past. Most cotton seeds are hybrids and have been genetically prefabricated not to reproduce so saving your seeds for next year is also a thing of the past.
Little if any cotton is grown in the area of northeast Texas where I grew up. Huge old buildings which once housed the cotton gins dot the landscape as they slowly rust away unless a tornado or other high wind sends the sheet metal flying into the surrounding fields.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
1. David Lamotte
2. Chuck Brodsky
3. Beth Wood
4. Tom Kimmel
5. Stephen Taylor
6. Darryl Purpose
7. Brian QTN
8. Steve Fisher
9. Diana Jones
10. Lowry Olafson
11. Chris Rosser
12. Chip Raman
13. Adam & Kris
It was hard to stop at thirteen. These are in no particular order. Follow the links and have fun.
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
Soundtrack for all these baby posts has to be James Taylor's Sweet Baby James.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
A friend of ours just got a Dobie Fellowship. This means that she gets to live in J. Frank Dobie's house out on his ranch. The ranch is on the outskirts of Austin on the end of a gravel road. There are houses and other businesses on the road but it dead ends at the entrance to the ranch. When our friend and her husband arrived at the ranch, there was a dog hanging around the gate. No one had been living at the ranch for a few weeks at least. This means that the only people to go there were the grounds keepers who go out once a month to check on things and mow the grass. Our friends left for a few hours. The dog was still there when they returned. It was obvious that someone had dropped him out there because they no longer wanted him. After putting up signs, posting on craigslist and contacting the local shelter to see if anyone was looking for him, they decided to adopt him. They call him Punkin' because of his color.
They had a few obligations to attend to so Punkin' is visiting with Lani for a few days.
I ask you, how could anyone discard this sweet six month old boy?
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
One of the reasons for my trip to Santa Fe was to check it out as a possible place to live. It is about the right sized town. You can pretty much get or do anything you want or need there. The climate is nice. It may get a little colder than I like in winter but the mild summers make up for that. The best part is that you can be anywhere in town in about fifteen minutes. I am sure that it takes a little bit longer during peak traffic times but not nearly as long as it takes here. You can be fifteen or twenty minutes out of town and be in the country, beautiful country at that.
One of the areas that we have been thinking about is Pecos. My friend and I drove down there and the first thing we saw there was a horse that was out and eating grass right in the entrance to the village. That has to be a good sign.
I did not make very many pictures. Here are a few on the Pecos River near its head waters.
Sound track for this post: Jerry Jeff' Walker's Leavin' Texas
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Peace to all.
Friday, September 28, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
The Pecos area was beautiful. This is the first time I have taken a vacation by myself. I have traveled for classes and spent a few days at workshops near home, but this is my first trip with no agenda to speak of. I am having fun. I will be glad toget back to Stephen and Lani, though.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Yesterday, I went downtown and looked around in the shops on the plaza. I am not much of a clothes horse but I could spend thousands of dollars on the clothes they have in those shops.
Today I am going up to Ojo Calliente to meet a friend of the friends with whom I am staying. She is going to show me around the area and I will definitely get in a good soak.
Tomorrow my host is going up to Pecos with me so that I can check that area out. I had planned to visit museums on Thursday and come home on Friday. However, my best friend is in Flagstaff right now. Her first grandchild was born prematurely and is now trying to decide if this is the planet he intended to land on. She is having a tough time and I may drive on up there tomorrow afternoon and spend the night with her. If that happens, I'll be leaving Flagstaff around mid-day on Thursday so that I can be home by Friday evening. I ask that everyone send up prayers, energy or however you express the requests you send to the Universe. There is a little baby boy and his family in Flagstaff who could really use your positive thoughts.
Peace and happy trails.
Saturday, September 22, 2007
Friday, September 21, 2007
I took the lid off the pot and brought it to a slow boil. Then I turned the burner down to 5 again and pretty much followed the same procedure as yesterday. I think this took about 45 to 50 minutes. I then extracted the ginger and placed it on the rack. I strained the syrup through 2 different strainers but it still looked a little cloudy. When I returned home this afternoon, a lot of sediment had settled to the bottom. I am going to strain it through a coffee filter tomorrow. I may heat it up and boil it a few more minutes. I think it could be a little bit thicker. This is actually a 5 day process anyway. Tomorrow I will put the ginger pieces in a bag with some course sugar and give it a good shake.
In the meantime, here is what it looks like.
In case you noticed that I have not been adding a sound track to these posts, there is a reason. I refer you to Harp & Sword's Friday Random Ten.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
Heart In San Francisco
Harp & Sword
Blog It Like You Mean It
I Gallop On
The Road Lester Traveled
Soul Collage Journey
Running on Empty
As If You Care
I did not put links to these because they are all on my side bar.
Sound track : Get By With a Little Help From My Friends Beatles or Joe Cocker, your choice.