Category Archives: Nobody Gets It Like They Want It To Be

Adam & Eve, Party Of Two – Your Table Is Ready

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Unexpected consequences from the Great Flood of ‘016 include a ruined fig and pecan crop – pretty disappointing to those of us who look forward to those gastronomic treats. However, the pain has been eased by a great load of Hachiya persimmons from what looks like the Tree of Life out back, several large bunches of bananas with more ripening, and a promising crop of Satsuma oranges and Meyer lemons. You win some, you lose some.

Our house took on not a drop of water from the raging Brazos River, which crested at nearly 55 feet just four months ago. However, our five figs and all the towering native pecan trees in the neighborhood stood in three or more feet of water for several days, and apparently that was traumatic enough to ruin the crops. The usually delicious dark figs in back ripened up and looked fine, but when you bit into them, they contained almost no sugar. As for the pecans, most of our trees have almost none. Usually they have many hundreds.

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So you eat what you have. Stop by this fall for a banana-persimmon smoothy.

Also posted in Brazos River, Food, Fruit, Garden

The Way We Were

They hadn’t told us there was no passport photographer in the embassy. We only found out that Monday afternoon, when we tried to get in line there, in order to have our small mountain of adoption paperwork finally approved so that we could bring our new adopted son home to Texas with us.

But no, now we had to search for a passport photographer. Luckily, that didn’t take long because several such photographers were parked in vans in the backstreets around the embassy building. We handed little Nick to one of them, he took three photos and handed the baby back. We waited a few minutes, then walked back to the embassy with our Polaroids.

By that time the long line had grown longer, filled with couples and the babies they were trying to adopt. Several more lined up behind us, too, however, as the clock ticked on toward 5 p.m., we were the last couple to have our papers processed. We were happy and relieved. This long adoption ordeal was coming to a close after all this time, and tomorrow we’d fly back to the United States and baby Nick would see his new home.

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Or so we thought.

We were up early the next morning, packing up, double-checking our plane tickets, ready to grab a cab to the airport. Then the phone rang. My father-in-law from back in Texas. Turn on the TV, he said. And there was the plane, flying in slow motion through one of the World Trade Center towers and into the permanent memory banks of my brain.

Sept. 11, 2001, in Guatemala City. No, we soon learned, there’d be no flight. America was closed.

Also posted in Family, Kids, Travel, War

Cucuzza Decides

After last year’s bountiful cucuzza harvest and part-time laugh riot, (a portion of which still remain high in an unnamed pecan tree), I decided I would skip planting the tasty giant Italian squash/gourd this year. For one thing, I was pretty much out of garden space – and cucuzza can take up your entire garden.

It turns out, however, that once you begin a relationship with cucuzza, you forfeit the right to decide. Cucuzza decides.

I was walking around the backyard in late June shortly after a downpour, when I noticed a very familiar young seedling growing up through the St. Augustine grass near the center of the yard. It was cucuzza. OK, I thought. So I pulled the grass from around the plant, then stuck a tomato cage over the top so the dogs would have at least a little difficulty before destroying it.

The didn’t destroy it. But how, I wondered, can I get the vine to grow up off of the ground so that I can still mow (and use) the lawn, and so the fruit will not rot in the grass? Two fence posts and a couple of lengths of rope later…

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Also posted in Food, Garden, Nature

When Life Gives You No Lemons, Make No Lemonade

Actually, life gave us quite a lot of lemons initially this year, and Satsuma oranges, too. It’s how they wound up being distributed that is, I think, noteworthy.

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Maybe I shouldn’t bitch. I still have a couple dozen “ice cubes” of lemon juice in the freezer from last year’s crop – lemon zest, too. I have the biggest canning jar you’ve ever seen, crammed full of lemons preserved in salt, the peel from which will add zinging flavor to many salads, stews and soups to come.

We’ve been eating Satsumas since Thanksgiving, and this year they were juicy and sweet.

Really, both trees have finally hit their stride, and provided dozens, maybe even hundreds of fruit. So I used as much as I could, then started giving the fruit away – baskets to the neighbors, bags to relatives. Bags to people who came to the door.

First, two women from somewhere in the neighborhood, one asking in broken English if those were my oranges. Yes. “Would it be all right if I picked one?” she asked. No, I told her, you have to take several, and some for your friend. “What kind of oranges are those?” she asked, pointing to the lemons. “Those are lemons, would you like some of those, too?” “Could I,” she asked. “Sure,” I said, leave some for me, but take some.” “Can I come back sometime and pick the ones that are touching the ground?” she asked. “Otherwise they might go bad.”

Two days later, a man identifying himself as the first woman’s husband asked for some oranges “for him,” gesturing to an older gentleman who spoke only Spanish. And some lemons, too? “OK,” I said, “go ahead, but leave some for me.”

The next day, two more men were at the door. They had heard about the free oranges and lemons and wanted in on the action. “I used to mow your neighbor’s lawn when that other lady lived there,” one of the men told me. “Can I come back another time for some lemons?” Yes, I was still saying yes to everything. I glanced out the window to see him and his partner filling too plastic shopping bags full of Satsumas, then another with lemons.

Then the lawn mower came back and asked for lemons the following day. Yes, yes, OK.

Did I forget to say “leave me some”? Maybe word got around that it was open season on our trees. I took a day trip to the farm to put up a cable dog run for Boo the wonder pup, came home tired, went to bed early. The next morning, upon pulling out of the driveway to take the kids to school, I noticed the lemon and orange trees had been stripped bare. Despite all the recent pickings, there had been at least 100 lemons still on the tree, and probably almost that many Satsumas.

Kinda pissed me off and took some of the bloom off of my Christmas spirit.

I’m trying to get over it. Maybe one of the folks who stopped by earlier believed they’d been given permission to come back for more, pounded on the door, determined I wasn’t home and figured I wouldn’t mind if they helped themselves, since obviously I was just giving the fruit away anyhow. (And mostly, I was, although Meyer lemons reach their peak of flavor in January, and my intention was to let plenty of them ripen up on their own out there.) Maybe whoever hauled off all that citrus gave most of it away to their extended family and neighbors, and didn’t put it up for sale along the roadside.

Maybe the Universe saw that we had more of a thing than we could use ourselves, and the Universe saw some others with less, and did what the Universe does by balancing things out.

Maybe, but I have to confess it still kinda pisses me off.

Also posted in Communications, Food, Fruit, Uncategorized