Category Archives: food

Haiku for today:

bikeshareicerink

Oh, little red bike
Indestructible mobile
wheel me to where I’m going.

In the cold, and on ice, the bike on the street is faster and feels safer than feet on the uncleared ice-caked sidewalks.

Photo from Capital Bikeshare website.

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For another day:

From Fei-Fei, dubious about her dad’s cooking. At 3-1/2, she’s already a tough customer:

Did you burn the food?
Can you pull it together?
Is there lunch today?

 

catching up

7 January 2015 — Catching up on daily poems.

The sun is shining,
I found the studio keys.
I’ll probably live.

Yesterday I stuck the keys in a book and couldn’t go to the studio. I almost cried. Now I feel better.

6 January 2015

I shop for yogurt
Avoiding pectin, corn starch.
It’s not so easy.

Yogurt is supposed to me just milk and the little germs that transform it.

5 January 2015

Tim’s resolutions:
no numbers, no cigarettes.
He’ll save a bundle.

He thinks quitting smoking and small-stakes gambling will keep a hundred dollars a week warm in his pocket.

sharing your cake and eating it too

CIMG1852

I am married to a person who has decided (on his own, but after ten years of subtle, loving nagging) that he might lose a little of that extra girth around the equator by limiting himself to just one slice of cake per sitting.  Although, because of an extremely generous nature probably picked up from his mother, he feels it is only right that he offer a serving to his invisible friend, who stops by frequently.

happy birthday to me

CIMG1835It has been a good birthday, and thanks to friends far and near, geographically and emotionally, for all your notes. It feels nice.

In the morning, my little niece, Frances, paid a surprise visit, bringing her “backup” birthday cake, the one not required for her own birthday yesterday. You know how I love salvage items, even a little roughed up in transit. While here, she helped water all the plants missed on our weekend away, and did her big-girl job in our bathroom facilities, the first time away from home, and proudly announced it, so it really is a special day.

Then I went to see the four-year-old I hang with on most Tuesdays, who, hearing it was my birthday, asked my age. A little fazed at first, he bounced back to tell me that “58 is not the last number.”

I hope not.

hungry? eat.

No need to bother the weary flight attendant to heat up William’s on-board snack.  A warmish 98.6 degrees will be fine.

ImageAfter a couple hours in the armpit…

Image…warm and tasty.

The model is wearing a t-shirt by John Beam of Chincoteague.  The Japanese letters say, “Where the air begins.” You can buy one at Anopheles Blues on North Main St.

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Yes, Sherlock, I killed the pomegranate in the kitchen with the knife

Yes, Sherlock, I killed the pomegranate in the kitchen with the knife

After you cut up and disembowel a pomegranate, what you’ve got looks a little like a murder scene.

a happy holiday

I find myself within this family that I have joined and the stuff that comes with it:  tsk-tsking about a family member who, alas, has become Christian, and what would the atheist parents say about that!; the family matriarch,  a retired Ivy-educated professional woman, whose every waking hour is dutifully prepping or cooking the next meal for her adult partner and other family members; my in-laws who after 30 years of marriage – the second for each of them – openly show affection; a “walk” in the woods that includes shears and shippers to make the trail as they go.

What the hell am I doing here?

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From my kitchen

What you have to do

I discovered accidentally that if you make salty/sweet popcorn with molasses, nobody will notice the burned ones until it’s too late. Yay.

Helen Hine 1

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Helen at our common table, telling about her life, septiembre 2013

This is not a cheery story even when it starts out, so maybe don’t read it. I just saw her about every day so want to note it.  (I moved out of the house described yesterday, as planned.)

Helen Hines was the first person to officially meet us here in Oaxaca.  Her house shares the courtyard with ours, the whole compound owed by her partner Agustino’s daughter, Cathy.  Agostino appeared earlier in these postings, sunning himself outside in a nice hat and a shawl.

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Helen at Mercado Sánchez Pascuas, septiembre 2013

She met us when we arrived in early September, gave us keys and a tour of the whole two-room house.

We have gotten small bits out of her, mostly practical information.  She informs where to hide the small plastic-wrapped 5-peso coin for the collector when putting out trash, which restaurants she likes (very similar menus at each of  a consommé, spaghetti, and one kind of meat or another, with a special fondness for fish, conclude with “and for only 40 pesos!”), and where I might find some special thing I have asked about, though maddeningly she can’t recall street names, and “it’s right past that other place” that I have never heard of either.  You know the type.

Helen is apparently quite old, but won’t talk numbers. (She said she once fired a lawyer who disclosed her age to someone.)  Also, every conversation starts with a lot of “What? What?” and a moment or two of firing up the hearing aid before proceeding.

Once in September, I asked her over to the table in the shared patio space, and offered a bit of the wine I had opened.

“Why not?” she said.  And in that quiet one-on-one I heard a bit of her life.  She has been in Mexico, specifically Oaxaca, a long time, more than twenty years, but other versions have put it much longer than that.

She must have been a bit of a seeker — after growing up in New York, there was time in San Francisco, then Guatemala, where she was asked to use her background as a librarian to start a library.  There was a marriage, which ended badly, and Helen has a son in New York City.  “But that was with another guy,” she said, waving her hand loosely at some dismissed relationship.

At some point, she met? fell in love with? hung on to? Agostino, Mexican, once an accomplished archaeologist in Mexico City.  He went to study in the United States, and somehow his career went awry.

So there’s searching, finding, scholarship, romance in the past, now making way for aging, immobility, dementia, deafness and other troubles. Who knows what else.  And you can see from the picture that she was beautiful, with fine features and gestures.

They live in the house behind the gate we share and now owned by Agostino’s daughter in New York.  Helen tries admirably to be the on-site caretaker, but the daily skills don’t come so easily any more.  To use the washing machine, we follow fairly straight-forward instructions, read to us over and over, with the warnings of the bad things that will ensue if we do it wrong.  When the water pump to our house suddenly went out, she yelled increasingly loudly to turn off the pump, ignoring William’s yelling back that it was never on.  And more like that.  Frustration and fear.  Shouting at Agostino and his shouting back.

Her joy remains the Oaxaca Lending Library, a part of her life for all these years.  Through the original and long-time librarian there, Ruth Gonzalez, came her attachment to this house.  Everyone at the OLL has great esteem for Helen, invariably grateful for her volunteer time there and praising her intelligence.  Until recent weeks, she has performed her job there organizing all the periodicals.

Sadly, in the short time we have been here, we cannot help but notice a huge decline.  Daily trips to market, just around the corner, are harder and she needs help with the small package and with clearing the obstructing stairway that’s always been here.

More later.

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Get in line, buddy

Get in line, buddy

At Mayordomo shop in Calle Mina, 31 octubre 2013

Just about everyone is buying chocolate today for Day of the Dead tomorrow. (And mezcal and marigolds and fruit…).  Imagine the fragrance in here with armloads of lilies, bunches of marigolds and vats of freshly ground chocolate.