So, is it Foreign Food or Not?

It has been observed on multiple occasions that Mexican food in Texas and Mexican food in Mexico share only names in common, if that much. OK, tortillas are flat rounds of bread, and tacos mean “fillings inside smaller, folded tortilla,” but past that the commonalities start to fade. Mexican food beans in Texas are usually pinto. In Mexico they are all sorts of beans, including black beans. Cheese, a staple of Texas Mexican food, is used more sparingly south of the Rio Grande. Mole sauces never appear in Texas, unless you are at a dedicated Mexican restaurant, not chain Mexican.

This leads to a great philosophical question: is Tex-Mex a foreign food or not? Continue reading


Some Days, You Just Need a Beer

Alas that I can’t drink alcohol in any form or quantity, due to allergies, because there are some days when you just want to finish work, grab an adult bevredge, and slam the door in the face of the world. When I was flying charter (as opposed to medical flights, where we had a set shift rotation), it was not unheard of for someone to keep a can or two of cheap as could be beer in their fridge, so that if they were still too exhausted (but legal-on-paper) to fly, they could take a few swigs and honestly tell dispatch, “Sorry, I had alcohol. I need eight hours.” It was a bit of a last-ditch thing, but it worked. Continue reading

Well, That Wasn’t Forecast

Thundersleet, freezing rain, snow. All at the same time. At 0200 CDT.

The excessive weather was, in my opinion, excessive. After all, the normal pattern is for rain to change to freezing rain or a mix, then all snow as the cold air nose wedges in and thickens sufficiently to keep the snow frozen from cloud all the way to surface. That’s what all the textbooks show, and what the test questions want.

Alas that High Plains reality never read the textbooks. Continue reading

Much Needed Road Trip

This weekend, Mom, Dad, and I drove up to one of the gems of the Panhandle, the Citadelle Museum in Canadian, TX. They had a traveling exhibit of hats and headdresses from around the world, and it was a good excuse to get out of town for half a day. It had been two years since we went up to see the Rembrandt sketches, and as I said, it was an excuse to get out of town.

It is dry. Of all the playa lakes along the route, all of which should have a little water in their basins, only one has any water at all, and that was a tiny fraction of what’s usually there. That explains the lack of waterfowl this year. As we drove farther east and north, we started seeing scores of sandhill cranes, some geese, and a few other migratory waterfowl, all racing south. High clouds covered a lot of the sky, dimming the sun a little. Canadian was only supposed to get into the upper 60s, while Amarillo aimed for 80 or so. Milo fields and cotton stood ready for harvest, attracting waterfowl and some pronghorn (25-30 or so).

Traffic was fairly light on the road, but heavy on the railroad tracks. Two coal trains headed southeast, while hundreds of container-freight cars trudged uphill toward Amarillo and points west. I only counted ten Amazon containers, unlike in June. Lots of Maersk, Seeland, HamburgSud, B.J. Hunt and others.

As we turned due north into Roberts and Hemphill counties, we dropped into the Canadian River Breaks. Cottonwoods shimmered in the late morning sun, fluttering gold and almost-gold. Canadian has a big fall foliage fest every year, although this year’s was muted compared to the past. The grasses looked brown, all shades of brown, even though this area had gotten more rain than most of the rest of the region. What cattle that I saw grazed or runinated. Lots of Angus, no Herefords, at least near the road.

The museum, in a former church, then house, was ours. We were the only guests, although they would be hosting an outdoor wedding later that afternoon. The docent let us into the traveling exhibit, and we spent at least ninety minutes looking at hats, headdresses, caps, and scarves. They came from all over the world, and ranged from simple black or white (Shinto priest’s hat, Catholic bishop’s miter) to amazing silver crowns and embroidered and beaded wonders. A number came from peoples of the D.P. R. Congo, and China (ethnic minorities). That was a little sad, because of what’s happening to those peoples in China today, but the artwork and care in the hats and skullcaps remains vibrant and lovely.

One, a shaman’s hat from Indonesia, reminded me of the Sumarian headdress with all the little fluttering plaques and leaves. This sported a tree in silver wire and foil coming out of the top, and the leaves shimmered, fluttering when the wearer moved or a breeze stirred. Another masterpiece depicted riders on horseback, Asian dragons, a forest, then possibly mountains or just a geometric pattern, all in silver and silver-colored metal, on an embroidered base. That was not worn for extended periods, because of the weight, but the craftsmanship!

The only European hats were a Protestant woman’s hat from Alsaice, a Bavarian men’s hat, a cap from Serbia, and two embroidered felt hats from the Sammi of far northern Norway. A Plains Indian “warbonnet” (probably dance regalia, given the age and the turkey feathers) and a Tewa hat were the only contributions from the US. 

It was a lovely display, with lots of information about the hats, what head coverings symbolize, why people cover their heads, and so on.

We chatted with the docent for a while before departing. We stopped at the coffee shop on the way out of town, then drove home. For five hours I didn’t think of Day Job, or anything but observing the land and wildlife, and thinking about the Canadian River and sundry. I needed that. It was a great day to be out and about.

Canadian, TX is off the beaten track, but well worth visiting. The Citadelle’s permanent collection is amazing, and the founder keeps finding “Oh my gosh” stuff that his family didn’t remember that they had. Like a silk carpet from Lebanon, probably from the 1920s, that seems to show Ataturk. It came from a storage area, and the owners forgot that they’d gotten it. (They were originally Orthodox Christians who came from what is now Lebanon, working in the grocery and dry goods trade, then became doctors, ranchers, and so on.) The history museum is also quite good, and there are hiking trails and other things to do in the area.

We Few, We Happy Few . . .

Today is the feast of Saint Crispin and Crispinian, patrons of cobblers, shoe-makers, and leather craftsmen, martyred during the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian. it is probably better known among English-speakers for a battle that took place on this feast, and Shakespeare’s version of it. Other notable fights on this day came during Crimea (“Honor the charge they made,”) and Leyte Gulf. But it is the older battle most of us think of. Continue reading

Recoil Therapy

I went to the range after work on Friday.

And it was very good. (Once I remembered trigger control and kept the finger on said trigger between rounds. So what if it’s been a month since I got to the range?)

First edits on Knowingly Familiar are done, and I need a few beta readers.

Thank you very much to everyone who volunteered. If you don’t get an e-mail from me, know that I really appreciate your offer, and I’ll keep your name on my list for L-Familiar (if you are still interested. That will be after the New Year.)

Apparently it is three per calendar year . . .

not three every 365 days.

The joys of home ownership . . . are rather lacking when major home repairs or appliance replacement kick in. I know The Rule of Threes is a superstition [taps wood] and that humans tend to excel at finding patterns where none exist. So perhaps that’s why I thought to myself “roof makes three, we’re done for a while!” Alas, the Fickle Finger of Fate went “flick!” at Fortuna’s wheel and so Redquarters is getting yet another major plumbing repair. Continue reading