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Michael Pollan on Gardening

May 26th, 2008 by Joyce

Michael Pollan is one of my favorite writers.  I just came across (courtesy Central City Co-Op) an article he wrote for the NYT about vegetable gardening

More on our own gardening adventure later.

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May 25th, 2008 by Joyce · 1 Comment

C&D discovered the sand beneath our weed barrier in the patio.  It was good for lots of digging and truck play.



David complained that his hair was falling in his eyes.  I don’t like that, either, so I figured it was time for a trim all around.


(View of the bird’s nest from the top.)


He wriggled quite a bit, so he wound up with a shorter haircut than I had planned.  David was delighted to have such a dramatically new look.


Not bad for a five-minute haircut.


Bye, curlies.  We’ll be missing you.  Hope you grow back.




Saturday we went to the George Ranch.  We were a little sniffly, and it was hot out, but we needed out.   (I had just begun with the snifflies just as everyone else was recovering from them.  Nice how that works, isn’t it?)  We pulled some weeds at the stock farm, saw some alligators, and managed to get very dirty and sweaty.



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Pretty Much Himself

May 24th, 2008 by Joyce

Henry Riojas owns a salsa business in Houston.  (I’m sure he’d like me to tell you that he also sells tamales, seasoning mixes, and addicting queso.  I’m also sure he’d like me to tell you that his products are available at retailers around the state and online.)  When Henry isn’t making and delivering salsa, he’s usually fishing, or thinking about fishing, or planning a trip to go fishing. (If your timing is right, he’s cooking what he caught, and he’ll share.)  He fishes so much that he’s actually started making a television show about it, being pretty much himself, doing pretty much what he likes to do.  You can see bits of it on YouTube:

Henry is a good example for the idea that you should do what you like, and the good things will follow.  He works hard but finds fun and humor in just about every thing he does.  He has a great family and friends all over. 

And he gets to fish for a TV show. 


Since the co-op is famous, I could have titled this post, "Henry Riojas is Famous."

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In case we were bored

May 22nd, 2008 by Joyce · 1 Comment

Over a week after David developed a fever, both C&D have almost returned to their playful selves.  A little snot and a wet cough keep them restrained only occasionally.  Matt sounds like he has a head cold, because he does.

So, in case we were bored, the refrigerator had to break this morning.

It took me a while to figure it out.  Half-asleep, I started the oatmeal for C&D and grabbed a bowl of last-night’s zucchini from the fridge.  I took a bite, swallowed, and then realized I had just eaten something awful.  My zucchini tasted bitter, and felt warm.  I called Matt.  Was his food warm this morning?  He hadn’t noticed.  Did he adjust the thermostat?  No.  I wondered if he had left the door open this morning.  I couldn’t remember if I had found it that way.  I drove to Target and bought a thermometer; I couldn’t believe my food wasn’t cold.  The thermometer said I needed to believe it, and get on with it.  I turned the thermostat down; maybe the fridge was on the blink.  Maybe I was missing something.  Maybe I didn’t need to spend a thousand dollars today.

One naptime later, my soymilk felt like it had been left out all day.  Matt came home and we looked at the fridge manual (useless) and looked at refrigerators online (a little less useless).  Meanwhile Carmen and David drew with their crayons, cut up their notebooks ("look what I MADE!"), ate some grapes (which I had to peel for David), and then began wrestling.  Naked.

Matt and I started taking the refrigerator apart.  Fan behind the little plastic plate?  Turning.  Thermostat?  Hunk of plastic intact, check.  (So that’s how that worked?)  Thermostat work?  Seems to when we slide it back and forth, because we see the fan turn on.  Freezer?  Food frozen.  Okay.

"The fan is turning, but I haven’t heard," I realized after an hour of our  think, think, think session, "the hurmmm of the compressor."

Doh.  It made sense.  Any minute, then, and the contents of our freezer would start defrosting.  Matt pulled out a loaf of bread from a lower shelf.  It was soft.

I made a happy dance.  So what we were going to spend a bunch of money for something that’s going to break in ten years?  I figured it out!  The compressor is broken!  I figured it out!  Woo-hoo!

We grabbed C&D, got them dressed in whatever was clean,  and sped off to our local Sears.  The store had a great fridge on clearance, but couldn’t deliver until Tuesday.  Best Buy could deliver Saturday.  And Lowe’s . . . could deliver tomorrow.  Matt paid while C&D played cooking with the appliances and turned all the knobs.

That done, we sped back home and picked up two blocks of dry ice (Central Market!) to keep our mostly-frozen food frozen until tomorrow.  I hope it works.  Now, we just wait for the delivery truck tomorrow.

David is excited that a truck is going to come and deliver the refrigerator, sort of like UPS (his favorite delivery service next to USPS).  At Sears he suggested, when I told him we couldn’t bring home the fridge we liked because it didn’t fit in the car, that we should just get a smaller one.  A delivery truck, though, is even better.  Remind me to ask for the box.


Do you know something?  On our way to Sears Matt and I had to acknowledge we are in a really good place in life to be able to dance a happy dance about buying a new refrigerator.  It’s true.


I’m sure the compressor is fixable, but eating out (or eating canned soup) for several days and throwing away a fridge full of food while we waited for someone to come and charge us $300+ to repair an energy-inefficient, decade-old fridge that will break again soon doesn’t make good math.  It wasn’t always that way, was it?

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The Co-Op is Famous

May 21st, 2008 by Joyce

The co-op was mentioned in the Houston Chronicle this week.  It was a nice-enough article, although the author didn’t give enough credit to the reasons I shop there. 

Everyone at the co-op is so friendly that I’d drop by even if I didn’t buy vegetables.  Before I had little people pulling on my apron strings, I could (and would) spend all morning there, cradling a drink and my laptop.  The produce is fresh, delivered that morning.  The local stuff is so newly pulled out of the ground that it still has dirt on it, and if you hold your greens close, they’re actually warm.  Collards look downright adorable when I find them at the co-op; the fennel looks so pretty I’m convinced I need to take it home even though I have to check my cookbooks and create an entire meal around it.  I’ve never eaten as well as I do since shopping at the co-op.  When I write my check for next week’s share, I know I’m keeping local farmers in business.  The local farmers in turn grow food for me to discover and enjoy, and keep our rural spaces rich and productive.  Best of all, when C&D ask where their food comes from, I can answer, "the farmer," and know exactly who.

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May 20th, 2008 by Joyce

One more dose of Floyd Skloot before I have to take the book back to the library: 

One way of spinning this is to say that my daily experience is often spontaneous and exciting.  Not fragmented and intimidating, but unpredictable, continuously new.  I may lose track of things, or of myself in space, my line of thought, but instead of getting frustrated I try to see this as the perfect time to stop and figure out what i want or where I am.  I accept my role in the harlequinade.  It’s not so much a matter of making lemonade out of life’s lemons, but rather of learning to saver the shock, taste, texture, and aftereffects of a mouthful of unadulterated citrus.

Acceptance is a deceptive word.  It suggests compliance, a consenting to my condition and to who I have become.  This form of acceptance is often seen as weakness, submission.  We say "I accept my punishment." Or "I accept your decision."  But such assent, while passive in essence, does provide the stable, rocklike foundation for coping with a condition that will not go away.  It is a powerful passivity, the Zen of Illness, that allows for endurance.

[. . .]

I saw another kind of acceptance as being viable, the kind espoused by Robert Frost when he said, "Take what is given, and make it over your own way."  That is, after all, the root meaning of the verb "to accept," which comes from the Latin accipere, or "take to oneself."  It implies an embrace.  Not a giving up but a welcoming. 

From the essay "A Measure of Acceptance" in In the Shadow of Memory.

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David’s better

May 16th, 2008 by Joyce

David’s better.

But Carmen’s sick.  Of course.

She became cranky this evening, and after a quick stop to the store I realized her cheeks felt a little warmer than usual.  The thermometer said 100.3.

We had just gone to buy some vegetables along with a six-pack of beer and some chips for a friend’s engagement party.  (The invite said bring snacks and drinks, so chips and beer DO count, right?  I mean, you don’t think they actually expected me to make something, do you?) 

We felt so clever:  we bought "Honey Moon" beer for the party.   We don’t drink beer and we had never heard of this particular brewery, but we liked the name on the bottle.  Sometimes I choose restaurants that way and they’re usually pretty good, so, you know, why not?

Carmen may or may not be better by Sunday afternoon.  If she’s not, I call dibs on the beer and chips. 

Or at least the chips.



Update, 20 May, Tuesday: 

He wasn’t better.  His fever evolved Sunday into a cough that turned into a cold which still bothers him.  Carmen’s fever took her to a delirium that made her think the ceiling fan threatened to fall on her head and popped like fireworks.  These are long days.

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