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Kites at the dentist?

August 31st, 2008 by Joyce

A picture David drew, with interpretation by the artist:


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Grinding Corn

August 30th, 2008 by Joyce

Grinding corn at the Stock Farm, George Ranch Historical Park.  David is using the metate and Carmen is using the molcajete


Carmen’s namesake, my grandmother, used her molcajete on a regular basis to make fresh salsa for my grandfather.  I would pick the chile pequin from chile bushes in the yard.


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That’s my boy!

August 29th, 2008 by Joyce · 1 Comment

Check out his tortilla skills.  He’s figured out how to scoop with the tortilla in one hand while shoveling with his fork in the other.  And even when the salsa brings tears to his eyes, he keeps right on eating.  That’s my boy!

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And no, people, he hasn’t been coached.  He’s a natural.

He needs to realize next that eating the taco from both ends makes the juicy stuff run down to his elbows even faster than it would otherwise.

(The picture is from 16 August.  Can’t remember what’s in the taco.  Rice and beans, probably.  And salsa.)

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Carmen Miranda

August 24th, 2008 by Joyce · 1 Comment

Earlier this week a friend e-mailed me with the news that Dorival Caymmi died recently.  "He was a great Brazilian songwriter and singer," he writes.  "The Grandfather of Bossa Nova."  You know what Bossa Nova is if you can hum the tune to "The Girl from Ipanema".  You’ve probably heard the famous Getz/Gilberto recording or something like it in movies and commercials (or at my house).

My friend’s e-mail continues.  "His three children all became famous singers too, and one of his granddaughters as well I think, so he was the grandfather of bossa nova in more ways than one."

Mulling over such news I was sitting here a little bit depressed, thinking sad, bossa nova thoughts.  I kept reading, though, and found a pleasant surprise.  "Here’s a nice little clip, his first big hit ("What’s a Bahiana Got?"), sung by Carmen Miranda in *her* first big hit, almost 70 years ago."  No!  Carmen Miranda?  Two great artists found the road to fame and fortune with one song?  This I had to see and hear, and you should, too:

There she is so pretty, and so happy to entertain.  What a smile, what charisma!  With Carmen Miranda now on the brain, I had to look on YouTube for the original version of a song that I sing to C&D when they are being fussy or we are in the mood for silliness.  Sure enough, I found it.  I sing the song, "Mama yo quiero, Mama yo quiero, Mama, Mama, Mama!  Dash of pepper, dash of pepper, dash of pepper the American way."  If you’ve been in my house for very long you’ve heard it; here is the original version in Portugese, "Mamãe eu quero":

And this is the place I first learned of the song, from a Tom and Jerry cartoon (of all things):

Years later, I still can’t help but laugh. 

Despite a brief childhood, the pain of distance from family and home country, and the long-fought battles of ethnic and cultural ignorance, Carmen Miranda became and remains a cheerful icon even decades after her death.  As artists, she and Dorival Caymmi continue to jazz and dance into our hearts. 

(Um, a little note on YouTube:  Despite the tragic amounts of bandwidth dedicated to grainy music videos, stupid pet tricks, and other neuron-killing material, YouTube sometimes offers, just for the looking, important tidbits of twentieth-century pop culture.  They have been uploaded by some kind person for the love of the subject, and for the rest of us to remember, learn from, and enjoy.  Thanks.)

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Little Soapbox: Why I Eat Organic

August 24th, 2008 by Joyce

This list was born from a conversation a couple of weeks ago.  My conversation included a lot of gesticulating and table-thumping, and maybe some reasons that I’m not remembering here.

Why I Eat Organic (or, "Why I’m Not Crazy for Buying Organic, But May Be Crazy for Other Reasons"):

1)  It’s better for the planet.  You like clean air and water, don’t you?  I do, too.  The sky above those landscapes filled by conventional fields is hazy and brown.  The water in the canals between the fields is lifeless and murky.  If you see conventional agribusiness for yourself sometime, you’ll probably never look at your food the same way again.

2)  It’s better for the workers growing and harvesting our food.  This is important because I know you like to eat, and those workers are vital to what you eat, so . . . even if you’ve never met one, you need to care about the health of agricultural workers.

3)  It’s better for the people living around those amber waves of grain, or green waves of broccoli, or whatever.  For a quick education about what’s blowing in the breeze, see a recent writeup in Orion

4)  It’s better for your children, your unborn children, and the children that are still just a twinkle in your eye.  It’s even better for the children that will be grown generations from now.  Know what other people think about that?  Start with Our Stolen Future and form your own opinion.

5)  Every time you buy organic you vote for our collective health and well-being. Somebody’s gotta do it.

Still need persuading?  Five more reasons:

6)  You eat fruits and veggies because you think they’re good for you, don’t you?  Organic fruits and vegetables have been shown to have more nutrients and antioxidants than those grown conventionally.  Sure, you take a vitamin, but nothing can give you the antioxidants and other phytonutrients than an organic diet rich in fruit and veggies offers.  Need a little persuasion?  Start with this document at this link and do a little research, if you must; the data is too compelling to ignore. 

7)  The pesticides used in conventional produce contribute to pollution and public health problems that we inevitably pay for via health care costs, environmental cleanup costs, and more.  That makes some sense.  Follow your pizza at The Organic Report

8)  I like knowing what’s in my food.  I read the ingredient labels, and I bet you do, too.  Unfortunately, produce doesn’t come with ingredient labels.  A conventionally-grown item from the produce department at the grocery can have dozens of different pesticides on it.  Oh, yummy.

9)  Thanks for the mammaries, Mom.  That’s why we were concerned to learn that women with elevated levels of pesticides in their breast tissue have a greater breast cancer risk.  Has the causality been established?  No.  (See for yourself.)  But why bother taking the risk? 

10)  Going organic (and local, while you’re at it) is much more fun than standing around at the local Safeway.  I promise.  Need proof?  Visit my friends at Central City, or go to one of the farmer’s markets around town.  After making friends with the eggs guy, the figs lady, and everyone else, go home giddy with your delicious treasure.  Then come back next week.

*Still* think I’m crazy for buying organic?  Alright, try this: 

Look up Sandra Steingraber at your local library.  Read her books.  Then read her chapbook while you listen to your kids play.  Maybe that’ll do it.

That’s why I eat organic.

The next step:  Not just eating it organic, but growing it.  But that’s a post for another day. 

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Look what we made:

August 23rd, 2008 by Joyce

Houston-Area Brain Injury Online:

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"I made a J!"

August 21st, 2008 by Joyce

"I made a J!" she said.  (Yes, those are paper plates.)

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