Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. During catechism on Ash Wednesday we'd troop down to the church to have our foreheads smudged with ashes. If the smudges wore off, we could always freshen them with ashes from dad's cigarette butts.
Back in those days, when we were orthodox, we couldn't eat meat on Fridays. Here is my recipe for a Pueblo Junior High Tuna Sandwich.
First, if you're not in a hurry, take a can of tuna, drain off the oil, and empty it into a bowl. Then add some diced celery, a little minced onion, and chopped hard-boiled egg whites. Save the yolk to roll down the aisle in Mr. Baldwin's social studies class. Maybe this time he'll send you out. Add salt, pepper, and mayonnaise, and spread the mixture on crisp toast.
If you are running late, just mix the undrained tuna with mayo and spread it on bread. Stick the sandwich in a recycled Baggie, whose clinging power has been reduced by repeated washings.
Put some potato chips in another gappy Baggie. Put the sandwich, chips, and an overripe banana in a brown paper bag. Or a sugar sack, better. A sugar sack is sturdier and has stuff written on it so you can read it at lunch if you have to sit alone. It's lunchtime's answer to the cereal box.
Put the lunch in your locker. Between classes, pitch your social studies book on top of the bag.
At lunch, open your locker. It smells like you're standing next to Moby-Dick. Fruit flies have formed a deep and abiding relationship with the banana. Take your oily, squashed bag to the cafeteria. Sit down at a table. Marlene, who always laughs with her mouth wide open after swallowing most of her milk or cottage cheese, sits down opposite. Gross. But it's better than eating alone.
Take out the oil-dampened sandwich. Try to chew it, but the best you can probably do at this stage in the game is just sort of mush it around in your mouth. Dab up the minuscule bits of potato chips, the major casualty in the encounter with the social studies book, with your fingertips and lick them off. Marlene thinks your performance is hilarious and laughs. Wipe her milk off your face.
Lick the banana off the inside of the sugar sack. Throw the banana peel and the bag into the garbage can. Save the Baggies for Mom.
After lunch, everything you touch will smell like tuna. By the end of the day the whole school will smell like a whaling vessel ninety days out of New Bedford. Everyone knows it's you.
Think of death by embarrassment as your Lenten sacrifice.
This morning a large woman with many scary tattoos and a neck wattle the size of a pillowcase came into the store, looked around, and asked, "Is this where the housing authority meets?"
I said, "No. This is Otowi Station Bookstore. We sell books."
"Well, why did they tell me that the meeting was here? This is 15th and Central, isn't it? They said the housing authority meets at 15th and Central." She waved a sheaf of papers at me.
I asked her whether there was an address anywhere on her papers. She came to the counter and slapped down the sheaf. No address anywhere. "There's a phone number for Guadalupe. She said to call her. Would you call her? I don't hear so good over the phone." She was breathing heavily through her mouth. "Hnnnf. Hnnnf." I called Guadalupe.
"Hello. This is Guadalupe."
"Hi, my name is Peggy, and I'm calling for one of your clients."
"Hnnnf. Hnnnf. Hnnnf."
"Where is your office located?" I asked.
"Hnnnf. Hnnnf. Hnnnf."
"At 15th and Central. Right across the street from the YMCA."
"We're right across the street from the YMCA, too," I said, "but I don't know where your office is."
"I just told you. At the corner of 15th and Central!"
"Hnnnf. Hnnnf. Hnnnf. Hnnnf. Hnnnf. Hnnnf."
"Where are you in relation to the Bradbury Science Museum?"
"I don't know! Eeeeee! This job is new to me! I don't know about any museums!"
"Well, the museum is at the corner--"
"--of 15th and Central. There's a fountain in front."
"Eeeeee! I don't know anything about a fountain! I told you, all I know is I'm at the corner of 15th and Central!"
"Hnnf. Hnnnnnf. Hnnnf."
"Well, could you meet your client out in front of your office? Perhaps wave to her?"
"Yes, I could, but I don't want to leave the office! I keep telling you, I'm new on the job! I don't know my way around. Eeeeee! All I know is I'm at the corner of 15th and Central!"
I figured I should get off the phone, because otherwise I'd be talking to Guadalupe all day about her orientation to 15th and Central. I did what I should have done the second the client came in: I hauled out the phone book and looked up the address of the housing authority and wrote it down for her.
"Okay, the housing authority is at 135 Central Park Square. Central Park Square is right across the street. All the businesses are numbered. Look for number 135."
"Hnnnf. Well, what's this address?"
"Then I'm at the housing authority! Hnnnf! Hnnnf! Hnnnnf!"
"No. You're in a bookstore. You don't want 1350. You want 135. Just go up to the street light and cross the street. Central Park Square will be right in front of you."
With all recent posts from the accomplished cooks in this family, I thought I'd share a recipe I tried yesterday, Alton Brown's Parmesan Crisps. I prefer to call them Chuckbert's Cheesey Chookies, because of Chuckbert's fondness for parmesan.
Ingredients 3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano Freshly ground black pepper, smoked paprika, or cayenne, optional
Directions Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Grate the cheese on the small-hole side of a 4-sided box grater into a small bowl. We call our box grater "The Butcher of Hungary," because as you grate, it also neatly removes flesh.
Using a tablespoon measure, place cheese in mounds onto a nonstick silicone pad or greased parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Flatten out mounds with the back of a spoon, making sure mounds are at least 4 inches apart. Season with pepper, paprika, or cayenne, if desired. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 5 to 6 minutes or until golden.
Here are some finished chookies. They have a lacy look because I flattened them too much. I seasoned them with freshly ground black pepper. They are really good!
Michele and I drove to ABQ on Friday to take a load of clothes and a futon frame to the Albuquerque Rescue Mission, which ministers to the down-and-outest of the down-and-out. It's one of the charities I support.
Then we went up to Apple Mountain Music so Michele could salivate over the various instruments. But I was the one doing the salivating. I saw the bowed psalteries and was intrigued. The proprietor played one. Then she handed it to me to play. I held it and bowed across the strings. Cooo-oool! I read the little instruction book. I didn't need to know how to read music to play a tune; I could use tablature, which I use when playing the harmonica or mountain dulcimer. Even cooler! So I bought one; the package included an instructional DVD. Yesterday I played "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" at a tempo and spirit often used to augment grief at funerals.
Here is a picture of a bowed psaltery. Here is a picture of how the bowed psaltery is held for playing.
Here are two guys playing "Sally Gardens" on the mountain dulcimer and bowed psaltery.
Yesterday Bobbie and I went to Bandelier. Most of the trails were closed because of ice and snow, so we walked the Ruins Trail and the Long House Trail, then had a little lunch at the snack bar. Not many visitors were there. On the way out of the park we saw some deer browsing and resting. Bobbie will probably post those images and others she took.
High on the cliff is this a petroglyph of the sun and a bird. Click on the image to enlarge it.
Frijoles Canyon from the scenic overlook.
Here is Bobbie.
In a tribute to family vacations, Bobbie took a picture of me through the windshield. Then I took a picture of her through the windshield. It's a good thing Jack Classic didn't use this technique.