Thursday, August 29, 2013

Chicken Gumbo

Desperation drove me to the Cafeteria today in search of sustenance. The Cafeteria does not serve food, it serves fuel to keep the workers moving.
Today one of the soup choices was Chicken Gumbo. I make traditional Cajun Gumbo from scratch. This is nothing like that. Calling this Chicken Gumbo is an insult to all other Chicken Gumbo's. It is my theory that they tie a cleaned chicken carcass on a string and drag it through a 55 gallon drum of stock. Occasionally a piece will fall off. If it is your lucky day, you get the piece of chicken.
Because it is made for mass consumption, all the flavors have been tamed down to insipidity (is that a word? if not it should be). If you take the Gumbo and add enough Tabasco to it that your nose runs and you break out in a sweat, you can occasionally get a hint of what real Gumbo tastes like.
The real problem is that in order to make real Chicken Gumbo you need to start with a stewing hen. Do they even sell stewing hens any more? I think they all go to soup makers. At least I never see them in the Supermarket.
Oh heck, now I'm hungry for some seafood gumbo. My recipe does not start wih: Fill a 55 gallon drum with water.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Ring

The curtains had blown around in the bedroom because the window was open. The hot August evening was cooling off a little and the bit of breeze was welcome.
The flapping curtain had knocked over some stuff on the night table, so I was tidying up. For no particular reason, my attention settled on the old battered jewelry box. Dark blue, battered, satin embroidered ill fitting top. It is not so much a jewelry box as a junk collector. Mostly stuff of little or no value that I can't bring myself to part with.
My Army Dog Tags. An arrowhead I found as a kid, An old gold chain, cuff links, a bead necklace made of seeds presented to me by my daughter when she was about six. My Army lapel insignias and shoulder patches.
And this battered old turquoise and silver pre-war Navajo ring. It has a very nice old stone of high quality that is cracked in a couple of spots. A lot of the detail is worn away on the silver. It has obviously been worn for a long time.
The silver looks to be coin silver, and it is obviously hand made. I am not sure exactly when it was made. What I do know is that my dad bought it in 1939 when he was working in a Trading Post on the RES in New Mexico when he was 19, I think he probably bought it out of pawn. It was a pretty standard practice for the Navajo to pawn their personal jewelry when they needed a little cash infusion and buy it back later. I suspect this was a piece that was not retrieved.
My mother says that it was the very first personal luxury that my dad bought. He was not one to accumulate things for himself. Throughout his life he accumulated a bunch of kids (seven of us). some tools, and half interest in the farm in Idaho.
So it is my personal connection to him. I can't wear this ring without feeling the connection to him, and wonder about what it was like and how things were with him at the time.
He was the strong silent Western type. He never talked about himself. Never told stories, so to me he was largely an enigma. There is a picture of him taken about the time he bought the ring, hair slicked back, sitting on a Harley Davidson, looking way cool and self assured. I hear he cut a pretty wide swath in  North-W
estern New Mexico in the late 1930s. He had cowboyed, moving herds from summer to winter pastures, and vice versa. But his first real job was working in the trading post.
He spoke Navajo, Ute, Spanish and English, so he would translate for the First Peoples when they needed to deal with the officials.
The other thing he accumulated during this time is a beautiful pair of white gloves with incredible beadwork on the backs. The beadwork is of roses and the gloves are beautiful. We have contacted the Ute tribe and will be donating them to the Tribal Museum. They are too nice to be moldering away in a drawer somewhere.
So for now I am wearing the ring. It is fairly small, so it will only fit on my little finger, but I wear it to honor the man that was my father.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


I'm really not sure what's going on with Blogger, but I have been having issues with it.
It eould let me enter a Title for a post, but that was it. Wouldn't go down to the body of the post.
Oh well I faked it into working for the moment.
Three weeks off, what can I say. Too short, that's what. Paint the house, pressure wash the patio and back deck. A week of camping. Never did have enough time to work on the cars at all.
They insisted on giving me a new laptop at work. I don't mind the improved performance, faster speed, and better graphics, but I sure wish they would get to the point that it would actually work whan I plug it in. Nothing is in the right place. everything in my favorites is where I left it. More stuff will show up as I try to do something and the link is tucked away in some forgotten corner. Hide and seek for the next couple of days.
Oh well, it will all work out in the end.