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Thursday, April 8, 2010


Stepping cautiously from the busted up side walk, looking both ways for oncoming traffic I follow Daniel across Ave de Chapultepec as he steps wisely through his city.

We pass smart, gently lit up cafe´s, a jazz club, a couple of corner white tablecloth bistro´s to an outdoor walk up bar. We order two mezcals before we continue on our way through the Condessa, a developed restaurant and bar neighborhood just outside downtown Mexico City.

Ducking into a nameless tapas bar Daniel tells me. "In Mexico City there is only one rule. Open your eyes."

After a few tapas and a couple more shots of mezcal we walk outside where Daniel can take in a smoke.

As I sat I watched, a man in harache sandals push a large display of luchadora masks down the colonial street, followed by a guy pushing a billowing, steel drum stove, in which he roasts and sells sweetroots dipped in sugar, just like has been done on that avenue since the 16th century.

Thanks for the advice Daniel.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The worst soup, an Easter tale

The old, old women in the spring loaded reclining chair that raises the seated into a standing position is my grandmother. Physically. Her brain is tired, they call it dementia, she does not know who I am when I walk into her room. It is Easter Sunday and my entire family is coming to the nursing home that day to celebrate with her.

Seated in the recliner facing the window she is dressed in a terry cloth sweat suit and on her feet are gold keds with glittery laces.

"Happy Easter Lolly," I say, breathing through my mouth, which I will continue to do until I leave the nursing home. The smell of industrial Easter Brunch, fecal matter and disinfectant makes my head and stomach churn.

"Well hello there," Lolly says as I enter the room.

"It's your grandson Dan," I say.

"Oh, Danny," a brief hint of recognition reflects in her eyes.

I am the first person from my family to arrive. The nurse informs me they are dying Easter eggs in the dining room if I would like to take Lolly down to participate. With the help of the nurse I get Lolly into a wheel chair and take her down the hall, passing open doored rooms with old folks watching TV.

A group of old, old people are sitting around a table. The events coordinator, an enthusiastic young nurse, is adding color tablets to bowls of vinegar. She welcomes Lolly and I.

At the head of the table, dressed in a pink and green terry cloth sweat suit, is Lucille . She is looking perky and coiffed for the special day. Of the group she is definitely the most excited for the activity.

"I use to dye easter eggs when I was a girl," she informs the table of very uninterested old folks.

"Really?" I prompt.

"Oh yes, I just love dying Easter eggs," she says. "My sister's and I would just love to dye Easter eggs."

The events coordinator had passed out the bowls of dye, a couple of hard boiled eggs, and a soup spoon to retrieve the dyed egg to each person around the table.

Lucille was still carrying on about Easter on the farm and how much fun they would have.

As I was helping Lolly dye an egg, I hear Lucille complaining, "ew, ew, ew,".

I look over at her; bowl of dye in front of her, teeth and lips stained bright red, soup spoon in hand, a repulsed look on her face.
"This is the worst soup I've ever had," she says, lips pulled back, eyes watering, but, remarkably, with an undaunted enthusiasm.

Friday, April 2, 2010

To ingratiate

Ingratiate is a good word.

Ingratiate –verb.
to establish (oneself) in the favor or good graces of others, esp. by deliberate effort.

Om is from Bhutan but he grew up as a refugee in Nepal, he and his family are now refugees in this country. Anday is a refugee from Ethiopia, he pronounces it Utopia. Anday's family is still in Ethopia along with his 3 dogs and a cat. The scars on his cheek bones look like they were made by the flick of a razor blade. They are both 21 years old.

21 year old men trying to get paid, documentation, friends, security, status, girlfriends, etc. in a foreign country. Not just any foreign country but the United States of America, not just any State in the United States but Colorado, not just anywhere in Colorado but Denver.

Some how, some way, these two cats ended up working on Hazel Rah Farm. What are the chances?

5,000,000,000,000 to 2.

They stepped to the farm for their first day of work looking sharp, too sharp for farm work. Their shoes were the first thing I noticed, clean, low top, stylish. The shoes were not going to look so good in the evening.

Anday greeted our big dog Tommy with a pat on the head. Om shrank back. I don’t like big dogs, he said.

They handled the large shovels awkwardly and exchanged them for the spade and Henry’s little shovel. Farming tools are different in Nepal, Om informed me.

They worked that first brisk morning turning the soil in the beds. A little shoveling, a little looking around, a little shoveling, a little looking around, taking it all in, the dogs, the chickens, the kids, me, Michelle, the land. Everything.

With fresh eggs from the hens Michelle prepared quiche for lunch with some mixed vegetables and potato chips on the side.

With great deftness and efficency I tore into my lunch consuming it much too fast.

Anday and Om struggled to control their knife and fork as they cut each bite awkwardly from their slice of quiche. Like the large shovels, silverware is a foreign tool in their hands.

Michelle’s heart swelled as she observed Om applying his utensils to a potato chip.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Davie's Chuck Wagon

Facing south, standing in the freshly turned soil of our one acre farm in Lakewood I can see the hat of the 30 foot cowboy that stands as a sentinel in front of Davie's Chuck Wagon, the 1950's style diner on Colfax. On cold mornings the diner’s front windows steam up as men in flannel shirts and dickies work jackets order steak and eggs sipping their thin coffee, unaware and uncaring of the burnt beans origin or it’s blend. This is where they start their work day. As the sun rises on the far horizon of east Colfax it catches it’s reflection on Davie’s chrome skin like approaching headlights on an airstream.