Citrus Desparado

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This is a story about a man whose son supplemented his day-job income by working as kind of a jack-of-all-trades for a company that produced concerts and other shows at large entertainment venues in a particular mid-sized southern city.

One day Don Henley came to town. Former co-leader of the Eagles rock group, the singer-song writer-guitarist tours with his own band now, and was preparing for a local show.

It’s somewhat customary for well-known entertainers to request and be provided various foods and other comfort items for consumption before and after their shows. In this case, so the story goes, the owners of the concert venue required such items be obtained from a hotel attached to said venue and being operated by a national hotel chain.

But after an ominous breakfast, which included a salad containing metalic foreign objects, it became clear the hotel was not capable of providing this particular group’s needs.

For instance, the lemons were inadequate. “I hate small lemons,” Henley was quoted as saying, approximately, to the people producing the show. “Don Henley hates small lemons,” the production company officials said to the son mentioned above. “Go out and find us the largest lemons available.”

“You’re not going to believe this,” the son replied. “But it turns out that my father grows the biggest lemons in the world.” Then he drove to his home and retrieved a half-dozen lemons given to him by the man who is the subject of this story.

It turns out that man is me. While it is an exaggeration to call them the biggest in the world, it is true that I grow Meyer lemons, which are considerably larger than Lisbon lemons – the type almost always seen in grocery stores. Meyer lemons, more importantly, are incredibly flavorful and fragrant.

And while I have not been directly informed by any of his people, I have heard no complaints whatsoever about the lemons my son provided to Don Henley, and it is my belief that he probably found them of outstanding size and flavor, and may even recall them with fondness in the future in the likely event he is presented with some inferior lemon.

Which just goes to show you, anything can happen. I forget that sometimes.

As kind of a postscript, I have to say that my lemon tree was seriously damaged in our recent and uncommon freezing weather. I have hopes that the tree will survive, although nothing is guaranteed. I have decided that if the tree manages to live and produce fruit, I will heretofore refer to them as Desparado Lemons, just for fun.

Posted in Fruit, Garden, Kids, Metaphysics

Last Of The Red-Hot Mamas

Last Scotch Bonnets Before The Freeze
It’s been several years since the mercury has dropped down to 20 degrees around here. After predicting for days that we’d have some cold weather but nothing nearly so severe, the weather service boys suddenly said wait a minute, you’re all going to freeze your asses off for the next two nights.

That sort of talk keeps the tropical gardener busy, in an irate sort of way.

First, I had to crawl under the house to set some shop lights up near washing machine and kitchen sink pipes most likely to freeze otherwise. I used to have some old Christmas lights under there, set up just for such a task, but it’s been so long since we had this hard a freeze that the old lights are tattered, frayed and useless. So, temporary shop lights. Check. (A few strategically placed light bulbs, you see, will generate enough heat that you don’t think much about permanently insulating the yards and yards of pipes weaving around under the house as if it belonged to Rube Goldberg.)

The shed out back is packed tight with plumeria already, so all I had to do was make sure extension cords were strung to a heater I keep out there. Check. That just left the job of hauling the more-sensitive hibiscus plants inside, where the Christmas tree was. Oh, wait, the Christmas tree still was there, so first I took that down, then hauled the plants in. Check.

All done. But wait, there were still some red and orange balls of hotness growing on the ends of the scotch bonnet chili plants in the garden. Can you ever have too many hot peppers? Not really. So I picked those bad boys and took a picture of them sitting on the cutting board, then fussed with it on the computer box to make it look artsy. Check.

But wait, we never harvested the last of the Meyer lemons out front. By the time I remembered the lemons, the north wind had moved in, temperatures had dropped from 60 to the mid-30s and a nice, cold drizzle had begun. There were more lemons than I remembered. After picking and dragging two large bagfuls into the house, my hands were freezing, so I left a couple dozen on the tree. Check. Then, yesterday, I grated the peel from 15 or so very large lemons, giving me about a year’s worth for various future cooking projects, and froze several pint jars of lemon juice for future lemonade. I still had more than 100 lemons, plus a couple dozen from an earlier harvesting. Lemons up the wazoo. Check.

So last night, to make sure the pipes didn’t freeze, I ran a hot load of towels through the washing machine just before I went to bed. Check. I woke up with my spider sense tingling around 4:30 a.m., noted that it was nearing 20 outside, tried to run the same load through the washer a second time just for fun and – nothing. No hot water came through the pipes, meaning they were starting to freeze. I have spent time under the house during a similarly cold pre-dawn morning, with an extension cord and a hair dryer, thawing pipes. It sucked, as you may imagine, and I was not keen for a replay. Luckily this time, I prayed to the appropriate Deity, turned the washing machine temperature to “warm,” waited a minute, then turned it to “hot” again. Hot water began flowing. Check.

Even if in a relatively cold way, life is good.

Posted in Uncategorized

Du Jour

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There was a tempermental character in the old Seinfeld TV series they called the Soup Nazi, who made the most incredibly delicious soups in New York City, but forced his customers to follow numerous specific behavioral rules while in line or ordering food. If you broke a rule, the Soup Nazi was likely to say: “No soup for you for one year! Next!”

I was reminded of that character while passing this former Little Rock sushi dive the other day. Ask to use the bathroom? No California rolls for you.

I wonder why it went out of business.

Posted in Business, Food, Photography

My Grandfatherization

I traveled to Little Rock, Ark., over the weekend for the special privilege of meeting my first grandchild, a beautiful girl named Eller Elizabeth. Here she is:

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With all of its trials and tribulations, it nonetheless amazes me how good life sometimes can be.

Posted in Family