Thursday, December 27, 2007

Border Folly: Day #2...Tucson

TUCSON, AZ--The TV weatherman was full of warnings about extreme wind in the southern part of New Mexico this morning. We left early and were already near the Arizona border before the winds came up. The winds out here can be dangerous. According to the motel manager, every year someone dies on I-10 while attempting to drive through a dust storm. So, as I said, we took off early. We pulled over at Stein's and MaryAnn took a quick picture through the window. Except for some power poles, this shot could have been taken 100 years ago.

We had intended to camp out at Parker Canyon Lake southwest of Fort Huachuca, but the wind was so bad and the temperature was so cold we decided to drive into Tucson and hit that area on the way home. We got a room at the Tucson Inn, a place I remembered seeing last time we were here. I especially remembered its big, beautiful neon sign. I couldn't wait until dark to take a picture of it.

You have to pay premium prices in a town like Tucson, $40. But with accomodations out of the way we decided to go to the University of Arizona Museum, which was featuring an exhibit of Arizona and New Mexico native life going back to about 1000 A.D. Now, having read Stuart's book the night before, this was outstanding. Actually, Stuart talks about discovered fragments of life in New Mexico going back all the way to roughly 10,000 B.C.! That makes the Hohokam and Anasazi peoples seem recent!

We got back to the motel just before dark. I wasn't feeling too well. It must have been the "Chorizo Mix" I had at Lindy Loo's for lunch. Anyway, it was dark soon enough and I got my picture.

It proved to be something of a disappointment.

Or maybe not so much disappointing as requiring a different aesthetic on the part of the that appreciates both the fleeting moment when everything works just like it should, and the more common moments when only about half of everything is perfect. The rest of it is something that Time takes back as payment for having lived long enough to remember how it used to be.

Border Folly: Day #1...Deming, NM

DEMING, NM--The purpose of this trip is threefold:
  1. Get warm.
  2. Experience as much as possible.
  3. Spend little...very little.
Well, Deming fills the bill. We got a warm room at the Butterfield Stage Motel for $34.99. And it was a BIG room. Unfortunately it came with only two lightbulbs of limited wattage. And there wasn't much in the way of furniture either. But it was large and clean.

Once settled in our spacious abode, Room 11, we headed out for something to eat--although it was only about 4:00. The motel manager recommended The Campos on Silver just south of Pine. "They serve everything from salmon crepes to hamburgers."

"How are the prices?" I asked.

"Everything runs about 8 bucks."

We left for Silver and Pine immediately. The food was great. MaryAnn had two excellent Big Jim chiles rellenos. I had the skilletino, chicken, ham, and Andouille sausage in marinara sauce served over linguini in a hot 8 inch cast iron skillet complete with its own potholder. And two cups of decent coffee. Cost was 18 dollars plus tip. It turns out that the owner's brother is the head chef at the Double Eagle in Mesilla.

Anyway, we went back to the room and read by the dim light over the bed. I read all of David Stuart's little book Glimpses of the Ancient Southwest.

Later, listening to the rumble of the Southern Pacific trains and endless convoys of 18-wheelers on I-10, we ate the last of that great food from The Campos.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Countdown to Hot Cornbread

NOB HILL--Maybe we should form a Grandfather's Cooking Group to share recipes. My little Robby loves to bake. Here he keeps an eye on the cornbread. I know cornbread isn't the most complicated recipe, but we both like it...especially with butter and honey. We just follow the directions on the corn meal bag.

We used to make a lot of biscuits with Bisquick. But I was reading the label and found they use transfats in the mix. Unbelievable. Well, we've moved on to cornbread for now.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Sunday Poem: Steven Schneider...Chanukah Lights Tonight

American Life in Poetry: Column 140


Here's a holiday poem by Steven Schneider that I like very much for its light spirit and evocative sensory detail. Isn't this a party to which you'd like to be invited?

Chanukah Lights Tonight

Our annual prairie Chanukah party—
latkes, kugel, cherry blintzes.
Friends arrive from nearby towns
and dance the twist to "Chanukah Lights Tonight,"
spin like a dreidel to a klezmer hit.

The candles flicker in the window.
Outside, ponderosa pines are tied in red bows.
If you squint,
the neighbors' Christmas lights
look like the Omaha skyline.

The smell of oil is in the air.
We drift off to childhood
where we spent our gelt
on baseball cards and matinees,
cream sodas and potato knishes.

No delis in our neighborhood,
only the wind howling over the crushed corn stalks.
Inside, we try to sweep the darkness out,
waiting for the Messiah to knock,
wanting to know if he can join the party.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Reprinted from "Prairie Air Show," Talking River Publications, 2000, by permission of Steven Schneider. Poem copyright © 2000 by Steven Schneider. Introduction copyright © 2007 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Two Small Rains Equal 350 Gallons in the Barrels

NOB HILL--On the Duke City Fix one month ago I posted a story about my new rain barrel. It holds 100 gallons. I already had one that holds 55 gallons. And that covers the only 2 spouts I have on the entire house.

Well, here's an update. We have had two little rain events since they have been installed. Each one accounted for only about 1/2 inch of precipitation. From those I managed to harvest 350 gallons of water!

The smaller barrel filled up and I drained it during the storm into my small orchard. It has filled up twice since.

The 100 gallon barrel has filled up twice. Altogether that makes 350 gallons. Not bad for two tiny rain storms.