Sky

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Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

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Thou art more lovely and temperate.

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And summer’s lease hath too short a date.

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Sometimes too hot the eye of heaven shines.

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And often is his gold complexion dimmed.

 

Many thanks to Bill Shakespeare for today’s guest post!

Father’s Day Chili

Well we are just past Father’s Day, and one of my brothers sent me a request for my father’s chili recipe.   Dad was born in 1928, and in his era “Mexican” food was not so ubiquitous a part of the food landscape.  He had been raised on the Eastern European diet plan: sausages when you can afford them, and potatoes and cabbage the rest of the time.  So chili, even in it’s Midwestern form was somewhat exotic.   And this is how he made it for us:

A pound or so of ground beef, some chopped onion to suit, one or more cans of kidney beans, a bit of salt, a teaspoon of garlic powder, a teaspoon of onion powder, a tablespoon of chili powder and tomato juice or V-8 juice.

Brown the ground beef with the onion and drain off the fat.  Throw in the rest of the ingredients, simmer for a bit and eat with saltine crackers.   Easy peasy!  If you need to serve more people, just use more beans and tomato juice.

This chili bears a slight resemblance to the original from Mexico.   I remember the bottle of chili powder that we used for this, specially purchased for this recipe.  I think it possibly contained cumin, garlic, oregano, salt and some form of mild chili powder.   It couldn’t be too spicy, we just weren’t used to that.

When I moved to New Mexico I learned to make New Mexico red chili, which is a more complicated recipe.

12 pods of dried chile, 2 cups of water, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of lard, 1 tablespoon of flour, tomato juice or water.

Wash the chile pods, removing stems and seeds.  Bring chile pods and water to boil, reduce heat and allow to steam for 10 minutes or longer.  Pour into a blender and liquify.  Strain the sauce through a sieve and add salt to taste.  Heat the lard, then add the flour to make a roux.  Pour in the chile sauce and stir until thickened.   Add tomato juice or more water if needed.   Cook cubes of beef in this until tender, red chili is served with the pinto beans on the side, if you care to add them.

Both recipes are good in their own ways, I would make New Mexico red for M, and Midwestern chili for myself whenever I got a hankering for it.  I think I’ll make some tonight (but with more chili powder, I like it hot).

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Instant town

In a time when we have the phenomenon of pop-up dining, stores and events, it should come as no surprise the we also have instant towns.  Like this one.  To make this town, you start with a prairie.

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Clear off the cows and antelope, scrape off the grasses and weeds, then level it a bit, and you are in business.  In the distance are the amenities of the place, a community center, school and a park (for which you pay a monthly fee).

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Build a few roads, but not too wide.  That way one can fit more houses in.

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We do not build attached houses in America, but they can be built quite close to each other.

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Nice windows to keep an eye on the neighbors.

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Insert trees into the sandy soil for instant greenery.

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All put together by workers from Mexico, and voila: instant town, just add water.

 

Dreams

I just finished my stint of working on selling raffle tickets for a “dream home”.   The house is donated and all of the money goes to a children’s cancer charity, but it takes a lot of time from us volunteers.  So I had some time to think about the nature of dreams.

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This is the flyer that we gave to people to entice them to part with $100.   Doesn’t it look lovely with the mountains and pines in the background?   The actual home is in a bit of a depression, so I don’t think the mountains are visible.   It’s out on the windy prairie and all of the trees are spindly recently transplanted things.   Oh yeah, there are houses right next to it, about 10 feet away.

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Of course as it is a display home, it is tastefully furnished, and neat as a pin.

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And if you ever dreamed of sitting in the bathtub, AND being able to see your neighbors, then this house is that dream come true.

But the house is new and shiny, and we were able to sell a lot of tickets (but not all of the ones available), so I think we did some good. The winning ticket was plucked out of the bin by a young cancer survivor and was won by a person from the town south of here, so both of their dreams came true.

I have dreams as well, even if they don’t include this house.

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And this is how I dream.   I sometimes buy lottery tickets.  I don’t consider them to be a waste of money, I think of them as buying a dream for only a dollar.   With each ticket I imagine the fun I could have spending all that lovely extra money, then it is back to reality as I have never won and have a dollar less in my wallet.  (Each of these tickets had exactly one of the lucky numbers, and you need to have at least three lucky numbers to win a prize).  But it’s cheap fun for a moment.

Memorial day

Memorial Day means different things to people.  It’s the official (or semi-official) start to summer.  School is usually out and people take their vacations.   Many folks celebrate with a barbeque cookout and lots and lots of beer.   I decided to go to the local cemetery where they were honoring the soldiers of past wars.

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First up were the revolutionary war re-enactors.  I had a bit of a chat with them, I do have an Iroquois ancestor who fought with the Americans, so I could join the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution, a snobby sort of fossilized organization) if I ever lose my mind.

There weren’t any Civil War people, but there were WWI guys.

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They are not from the same time period, America did not officially enter the war until near the end, and the German is in a uniform from the beginning of the war.  I asked him if he was an ‘evil Hun’, but he denied it.   He said that he enjoys representing anyone other than the Americans, so he also has the uniforms of Brits and French soldiers.  His gear is both originals and reproductions.

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WWII is more popular with re-enactors and I think the stuff is somewhat easier to find.  When I was a young girl you could find this sort of stuff in antique shops, even original Civil War caps and such like.  (My uncle loved to go to antique and junk shops to look for the flotsam of the past.)

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This guy had bought an ambulance and had restored it.  The speedometer says that it could go up to 60 miles per hour, and he laughed and said that was a fantasy.  As this was a consuming hobby, I asked what his wife had got (instead of her own ambulance) and he said a Jaguar!   Seems like a fair trade to me.

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And we remember those who did not make it through the wars.