Tag Archives: writing of place

Wednesday – The end of week +2

Today’s emails contained this week’s copy of the “Weeknight Kitchen Newsletter” from The Splendid Table. I’ve been listening to Lynne Rossetto Kasper on the Splendid Table Podcast for a while now and enjoying it immensely. This week’s newsletter contained a link to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. I had heard Lynne speak of them before but never taken the time to follow the link. Today I did…I would like to recommend that if you like eating and cooking (or vice versa) seafood you do the same. Their website explains what they do like this:

What is Seafood Watch?

A program of Monterey Bay Aquarium designed to raise consumer awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources. We recommend which seafood to buy or avoid, helping consumers to become advocates for environmentally friendly seafood. We’re also partners of the Seafood Choices Alliance where, along with other seafood awareness campaigns, we provide seafood purveyors with recommendations on seafood choices.

The why is just as important:

Why do seafood choices matter?
The choices we make as consumers drive the seafood market place. Your purchasing power can make a difference by supporting those fisheries and fish farms that are better for the environment, while at the same time relieving pressure on others that are not doing as well.

Some of the key problems that help us evaluate whether a fishery is sustainable include the level of bycatch observed, the fishing methods and their impact, if it is farmed—how it is farmed, and how well the fishery or aquaculture operation is managed. With nearly 75% of the world’s fisheries either fully fished or overfished, these issues are more important than ever. By using the Seafood Watch pocket guide you are making choices based on the best available information and supporting environmentally friendly fisheries and aquaculture operations.

Take a few minutes and swing over to their website. Download the printable “Seafood Watch Cards” they make available for your wallet. The cards look like a very good tool to have with you as you shop.


Fred First informed me this morning that the summer hold on Floyd County has decided (at least temporarily) to release it’s grip. I don’t know if he was bragging or just sighing with relief as he told of having to close windows and put on a long sleeve flannel shirt. So, what was Fred musing about this morning at Fragments From Floyd? Bedbugs of course

I think I need to spend some virtual time in those cooler mountains today if only to escape the heat of the real world of SE Texas. The weather prognosticators are giving warning that rain is on the way though as a tropical depression has formed in the center of the Gulf and will be coming onshore somewhere in the next few days. The rains, they say, should start sometime this evening or overnight.


While wandering the web yesterday I came across Susan Albert’s latest post at Lifescapes: and found her speaking directly to my heart…

There are so many new things to see here. It’s all still a mass of images. Oh, I don’t mean that I can’t see. Yes, of course I can. Rocks, massive rocks. Pine trees on the mountain, salt cedar and willow and sycamore along Manuelitas Creek, grasses and sages and wildflowers in the meadow, all very beautiful. But to see, really see, the landforms and the textures and colors, and the birds and mammals and insects, all the community of this land, of each different habitat, I need to learn more. And learning takes time, and close, daily acquaintance, just as it takes a long time to know a friend in all her various changing moods and seasons, to know her history and her wants and wishes. It’s taken me twenty years to learn just a little bit about MeadowKnoll, and about the Hill Country. A summer month in the Sangres, a month in the winter–it’s only long enough to tantalize me with possibilities.

I have felt that way about every “place” I have ever laid my head, if even for just a week or two. Even when on a business trip I can’t just go to and from, I have to explore…I have to see. If I am lucky, I’ll learn to know a little bit about the place I am in. In the end I have a need to feel a part of the place, if only for a bit. I invest every place I go with a bit of my…soul. I leave a bit of me behind. But it’s a fair trade because I take a bit of every place I have ever been with me.

I do not become as acquainted with most places as Susan alludes to in the quote. Most of the places I come to “know” do not call out for that from me…Ahhh, but the ones that do.

They call across the years. They call across the miles. They call across generations. These are the places I want the opportunity to become one with. To stand in those places and be enfolded by the life and soul of a place until it becomes you and you become it. Some people are given that gift, some people even recognize the gift they are given, most though don’t even see the trees for the forest they are living in.


From Susan’s Blog I wandered over to The Ranchwoman where I was reminded of all of those summertime visits with my maternal grandparents.

Looking at the stars makes my mind tick.

Away from city lights, and when there’s no moon, the sky is so full of stars that I can’t fathom how the ancients imagined them into constellations. I have trouble finding them even with a chart. With less pollution, those folks could see even more stars. How’d they do that?

Even knowing that the stars I’m seeing are so far away, I look up and feel tucked in by an enormously fluffy velvet blanket. That’s because the moon, which of course is there even when it’s not visible; the planets; the meteors; are all close, relatively speaking. And even the stars I can see, though they are almost infinitely far away, are practically next door compared to the ones I can’t see.

And that leads to thoughts about life and death, space, time, infinity — all those big questions, scientific and philosophical.

Every evening after supper we would meet out by the back of the house. Everyone would claim a folding lawnchair from the backporch. We would all settle in and Grandpa would start to “inform” us about how it was when he was young. His informative expositions were usually in the form of a really tall tale. He would talk and chuckle, we would listen and roll our eyes…The sky would darken and we would start to see the stars come out.

Once the milky way became visible the game would begin…Who would see the most shooting stars? How about spotting a satellite? If the season was right, Grandma would come up with some canning jars with hole punched lids to catch lightning bugs in. There we would be, three generations laying out under the night sky until it would be bath time for the youngest (and you always needed a bath after playing hard all day outside). By that time the heat from the kitchen would have fled the house and the cooler night air would be filtering in through all of the wide open windows.


Time to call it a muse…I have some reading to do, both online and the old fashioned kind. I have been receiving copies of the Foxfire series in the mail and I still need to finish “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” and “The Omnivore’s Dilemma”…Later

Fragments From Floyd: June 2002 Archives

Fragments From Floyd: June 2002 Archives

June 5, 2002
Summer LightningThe animals have been tended, my wife and son have left for work, and I am alone watching the first rays of a humid, empty day through the windows. I am in my slippers, merely waiting, early into my second month “between jobs”. Waiting: on epiphanies, promised calls, revelation, solace, inspiration.

There are few places I would rather be today than in our remote valley in Floyd County, this land that envelops us, a country that is more like home than anywhere we have ever lived. I drink the last of the morning coffee in the midst of a sanctuary of harmony and light that my eyes and internal rhythms are just now adjusting to, and it feels to me as if a healing is happening here. Solitude, health, natural beauty, time empty waiting to be filled and a smattering of expectation– blessings brought home to me in the dark, last night.

So begins one of the earliest of Fred First’s Fragments From Floyd post’s. It was these words and more like them I discovered buried in the archives of FFF that eventually led to the purchase of a book. A purchase consummated before the book had physical structure, a book taken from those very same archives, words polished like the stones from the creek beside the house in that hollow in Floyd County.

I was playing around tonight building the beginnings of a commonplace book of days, based on an idea from Kate who posted about whiskey rivers commonplace book. One of the quotes I had saved to notebook way back when dealt with Anne’s falls at FFF. That sent me wandering back to see how far I could travel into the past at Fragments…It seems I can get all the way back (correct me if I’m wrong Fred), June 2002…

I know Fred is having some difficulties getting the archive to working in WordPress, but it’s all there, read it if you haven’t chanced that way before. Follow the growth of a blogger turned author…

The End…Today will mark the end of my worship at the nuclear medicine shrine…

After this afternoons session, my sacrifices on the alter of the atomic spheres comes to an end…The number for the day is 35…of 35. An ending and a beginning, even though I am yet to be thru this journey I am embarked upon.

In the news today on the weather front…From NASA

EO News: Atlantic Hurricane Frequency Doubles – July 29, 2007


About twice as many Atlantic hurricanes form each year on average than a century ago, according to a new statistical analysis of hurricanes and tropical storms in the north Atlantic. The study concludes that warmer sea surface temperatures (SSTs) and altered wind patterns associated with global climate change are fueling much of the increase.

The study, by Greg Holland of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and Peter Webster of Georgia Institute of Technology, will be published online July 30 in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.

“These numbers are a strong indication that climate change is a major factor in the increasing number of Atlantic hurricanes,” says Holland.

I am sure we will shortly be told that this release was in error…But the money quote was at the end…

The 2006 hurricane season was far less active than the two preceding years, in part because of the emergence of an El Nino event in the Pacific Ocean. However, that year, which was not included in the study, would have ranked above average a century ago, with five hurricanes and four other named storms.

“Even a quiet year by today’s standards would be considered normal or slightly active compared to an average year in the early part of the 20th century,” Holland says.

And so it goes, we are told we can’t trust the conclusions drawn from the data by the very government making the conclusions. More truth and trust issues don’t you think…

Leon Hale speaks of the silence of the lonely country…

The things you hear in the lonely country silence | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

WINEDALE — On the front porch again at the old country house in Washington County, on a quiet and calm day that’s not as hot as the calendar says it ought to be.It’s midafternoon and the feed-store thermometer hanging on a rusty nail by the front door hasn’t reached 90 degrees yet. So it’s 88 and that’s hot, but it’s nothing against the heat we usually get as we move into August.

No wind again. This entire year of weather, so far, has seemed calm to me. Even when we were having all that rain, we didn’t get a lot of wind with it.

Right now I can’t find a leaf moving in the woods that surround this old house. In what I think of as normal times, the wind produces the predominant noise here in the country. Breezes stirring the trees. Branches scraping on the tin roof. Metal gates popping against their latches.

When those sounds are missing, their places are taken by minor ones I don’t notice on windy days. I can hear the wing clutter of a cardinal out at the bird feeder. The zoom of a hummingbird at the far end of the porch.

I think we have all heard the loudness of a silent day, I know I have. It is loudest when we  pay attention to what we don’t hear. I can remember many an afternoon on the front porch of my Grandparent’s small “ranch” in the South Texas brush country. The two hundred acres of brush, cactus, and cultivated fields were just a county or two from the border farms of my Grandfather’s childhood. The still heat of a summer afternoon whiled away on the old church pew there with a glass of iced tea and a good book while Grandpa took his after lunch siesta…The cicadas in the mesquite, the collared lizards basking under the edge of the porch, even the buzzards riding the thermals above all seemed to be awaiting the return of the wind with the afternoons winding down…There was a quietness on those long, hot, dry afternoons that seemed to shout out loud.

When the heat would begin to get the best of me, I’d take myself down to the tank and find that layer of water about three feet under the surface where the temperature seemed to stay 6o° all year round. Our south Texas place had two tanks on it, the larger about a quarter mile from the house through the brush was where I spent many an afternoon staying cool that summer and fall. The year was 1971. Life was good.

A lot of what I am today comes from that summer and fall as I helped move my Grandparents from the upper coast down to the brush country where Grandpa had acquired his dream place for deer hunting. That fall was also my introduction to deer hunting for myself. I followed that family tradition of and on for the next six or seven years before giving up the gun and using a camera to hunt with. I am sure my success rate was terrible. I only remember less than a handful of actual deer put in the freezer. Grandma herself did better, and she hunted from the front window of the ranch house…

Enough for today…Time to go get radiated…

Friday – Food and Faith in America

The number for today is 27…Almost there.

There is a magical time of night that seems to call me on a regular basis…It’s 3:33am. I can not recall how many time I have rolled over in bed at night and opened my eyes and seen the three threes glowing there in the dark. It happened again last night. 3:33…3:33…Night after night my internal clock causes me to roll over and see the numbers…Glowing in the dark, staring back at me from the face of the alarm clock.

Not too long after dozing back off I awoke again to the sounds of the great percussionist enjoying himself in the predawn outdoors. Thunder rolled…Rain fell…Sleep returned. As I sit here typing these words, hours later, I hear the beginnings of another overture. This has to have been one of the wettest summers in my memory…Hopefully we will get a break soon since I hate to try to mow in the rain.

Every week my iTunes pulls down the current episode of Krista Tippett’s radio program Speaking of Faith. This weeks podcast started playing just before I had to run from work yesterday. Her program was titled Ethics of Eating and had as it’s main interview the author Barbara Kingsolver. I have been hearing very good things about Barbara’s new book and look forward to listening to the entire program today…

I have been a fan of Krista’s show for quite some time. She covers some very thought provoking subjects and the guests she has on are of the highest caliber. Past shows have covered the gamut from Buddha to Einstein’s God to Voodoo and beyond. Insights abound on each and every show….I tend to revisit them with some regularity to catch new nuances that I missed on earlier listenings.

Here is a quote from Krista’s Journal for this weeks show…

The Ethics of Eating | Krista’s Journal [Speaking of Faith® from American Public Media]
The Pleasurable Choice Is the Ethical Choice
I was happy to be reminded that Lady Bird Johnson, who died this month, started the campaign of “beautification” that brought Americans to stop littering. This memory is useful not just for the story it tells about her, but the story that it tells about us. Once upon a time, not that long ago, we thought it was normal to throw empty Coke cans and hamburger wrappers out the windows of our cars. My children hear this story with disbelief, as though I’m recounting a tale of primitive pre-humans.

This helps me take in one of the hopeful ideas of this conversation with Barbara Kingsolver. She says that however grim the man-made crises of our time appear, we do keep getting same things “more right.” And, Kingsolver advises, we must treat hope itself as a renewable resource, something we put on with our shoes every morning.

As I read the rest of Krista’s Journal, I find myself agreeing with her about the challenges we need to face, even the very fact that we must begin to face these challenges now and not in the next generation. We appear to have taken the very soul out of the raising of our foods. We industrialize the processes and we wonder why we end up with the results we do. There is a quote about wisdom being the ability to see that you don’t know everything, we seem to be lacking greatly in wisdom these days…Go read her Journal for yourself…Krista says it better than I can.

In the show Barbara reads from her book…the chapter “Zucchini Larceny” from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life starts out like this…

By mid-month we were getting a dozen tomatoes a day, that many cucumbers, our first eggplants, and squash in unmentionable quantities. A friend arrived one morning as I was tag-teaming with myself to lug two full bushel-baskets of produce into the house. He pronounced a benediction: “The harvest is bountiful and the labors few.”

I agreed, of course, but the truth is I still had to go back to the garden that morning to pull about two hundred onions—our year’s supply. They had bulbed up nicely in the long midsummer days and were now waiting to be tugged out of the ground, cured, and braided into the heavy plaits that would hang from our kitchen mantel and infuse our meals all through the winter, I also needed to pull beets that day, pick about a bushel of green beans, and slip paper plates under two dozen ripening melons to protect their undersides from moisture and sowbugs. In another week we would start harvesting these, along with sweet corn, peppers, and okra. The harvest was bountiful and the labors were blooming endless.
Source: Zucchini Larceny

If I can make a suggestion…Go, download the mp3 of the show, read some of the additional materials on the website. If you like the program as much as I do, sign up for the weekly email, subscribe to the weekly podcast. If you really find it worthwhile…support the program either through your local station or, if they don’t carry the program, support them directly..

My morning email brought the latest Ladybug Letter from Andy and Julia out in California. I found this quote fitting in to this post’s subject quite well…

When Julia and I struggle to get supper on the table for our kids at the end of a long day, and they reject it, I ask myself how, year after year, my parents cooked for my sister and I.

One way, of course, was convenience-my parents weren’t burdened with the ideology Julia and I have adopted of making home-cooked meals with fresh ingredients from producers we know and trust. We had dinner when I was growing up, not cuisine. The meat loaf was sauced with ketchup, the hamburger got “help” from a packet purchased from Safeway, and the chicken wasn’t an heirloom breed, it wasn’t brined, or free range- it was just baked. My parents didn’t cook with passion, but they cooked every day whether they wanted to or not, and I understand now that they cooked with love.

I always look forward to each issue of the Ladybug Letter, you should check them out.

Once the teacher…Always the teacher. Fred First caught a spelling mistake in my post from Wednesday. Evidently spell check did not think I wanted to type lye so it substituted rye, two substances that are very much alike only in that they share 66% of the same letters and sound remarkably like two words which belong together in a poem. Which leads to this…

The word for today boys and girls is Nixtamalization:

Nixtamalization is the process whereby dry maize grain is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, to cause the transparent outer hull, the pericarp, to separate and be removed from the grain. This process has several benefits including enabling the grain to be more effectively ground; increasing protein and vitamin content availability; improving flavor and aroma and reduction of mycotoxins.
Source: Wikipedia

Bookstore for today

Do your shopping early…

A Quote For the Day…

“Food is the rare moral arena in which the ethical choice is generally the one more likely to make you groan with pleasure.” Barbara Kingsolver

Well, It’s time to go play on the freeway in the rain…Y’all stay dry today wherever you may be.