El Gringoqueño

All a man needs out of life is a place to sit ‘n’ spit in the fire.

Dogs and Man and Cosmos

Loving the new show Cosmos with Neil deGgrasse Tyson. Today, episode two came to life.

The second episode of the new Cosmos began by detailing the ancient relationship between humans and dogs, how we co-opted each other to mutual benefit. Tamer dogs would get closer to the humans and be rewarded with scraps. Those dogs reproduced and the traits that allowed them to coexist with humans caused them to diverge from gray wolves. In turn, humans began to incorporate these new friends into their tribes, using them for hunting, watching, herding, etc.  It has been a fruitful collaboration ever since.

In modern times, a good many dogs are little more than companions to their human benefactors. They are rarely called upon to fulfill their ancient duties. These little doggies, yearning for the times of old, bark furiously at the postal worker, dig for ground animals in flower beds, and scavenge trash for treats. Mostly though, they languish with only the faintest primal ember still burning in their dark eyes.

Today though, our dogs returned to the lives of their ancestors.  An iguana, a big male, perched upon our fence and dared the dogs to do something. They barked and leaped throwing themselves at the high fence in a desperate frenzy. “Look, master, another meatbag wandered into our yard. Ooooo, I want it so bad!” They seemed to say.

I, however, wanted the racket to stop, and I didn’t need the impudent creature impregnating another female, thereby increasing the devastation his invasive species brings to Puerto Rico. I reached up and grabbed him. With my hand firmly around his big tail, I hauled him down twisting and squirming in my grasp.  His thrashings were so violent, I couldn’t hang on. Wow, that had never happened before. He was vigorous and strong and raced free along the fence seeking escape, rising up on two hind legs for maximum speed. Without hesitation, Lucy took off after him, through my spinach, over my basil and peppers where she ran over him twisting her body and grabbing him in her big powerful jaws.

Her blood was excited and I must say, I felt the rush of the hunt as well. Here was a worthy strong opponent, with a razor sharp tail lashing, its strong legs carrying it faster than I could go. And Lucy, 25 lbs of mutt, a funny mix between a rottweiler and dachshund, let her ancestors’ ferocity bubble to the surface.

“Git ‘im! Git ‘im! Lucy!” I yelled. “Good dog! Good dog!” My praise redoubled her efforts as she tore into the shoulder and neck of the six foot reptile. In that moment, I wanted its blood, and Lucy, oh Lucy, she was living the dream, hunting with her master. And her master was happy, and she had blood in her mouth and prey at her feet.

I reached in and grabbed it by the tail once more. It was now far more docile, injured and resigned to its fate. With a quick blow to the machete, I severed its spine taking off most of its head. They have such tough thick skin. I spent the next thirty minutes wallowing in iguana blood butchering the thing as Lucy stood proudly by. I had to put her inside, though, as I think she thought my manner inefficient and sought to speed up the task. “Master, you are doing it wrong. You are wasting blood, and I very much want to eat it. I want to eat that bag of meat that came into my yard, because they are delicious, and I love to eat them.” <- read this in Dug’s voice from the Pixar movie UP.

It’s funny, but only a few days before, we went outside and Lucy came trotting up. “Daddy,” Jaimito said, “Lucy’s hurt.  She has blood.”

I took one look at her panting and trotting playfully. “Jaimito, that’s not her blood.” Look around the yard for an iguana carcass.

As for today, the hunt, the kill, the butchering – we shall dine well, doggies, iguana fricassee is so delicious. You will be rewarded in accord with your ancient assistance.

La Cosecha

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Javier picking a peck of unpickled peppers. He crawled all over and under these huge pepper plants, selecting red ripe sweet ones for sofrito. I love this photo, the contrast of his reddish hair with the green and the fruit.

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Dat calabaza! A big green Caribbean pumpkin squash. We use them in tons of things, from beans and rice, as a soup thickener, as a soup, and yes, in pie. Delicious. This one weighed 37.5 lbs (17 kg)

 

Functions as Designed

I passed another tangled iguana carcass on the road today. There he lay, twisted and bloated, flattened in places, tire tracks decorating his thick hide. It got me to thinking how in those moments before his death, that that poor iguana had functioned exactly as he was designed.

His design is among the oldest on our earth. His kind have survived because, although primitive, they are effective. Their design is tried and true. I tried to picture the confidence on his face at the last instant of his life. “I got this,” he thought, as he stared down the barrel of fate, sure that his ancestors throughout the millions of years evolution would protect him. “I have not just prepared for this instant all my life,” he thought, “but for all of existence.”

“Bring it,” he breathed.

And then BAM, it was all over, his spine twisted, the vegetation of his gut splattered this way and that.

What went wrong? He stood his ground. He can’t be chased, because he wasn’t running. That big thing will stop, give me a sniff and then I will whip him with my tail, make a menacing sound and he will leave.  Or perhaps I will climb a tree. But no, this time the big thing did not stop.  The big thing came barreling down with nary a thought of satisfying its belly. In fact, it seemed not to notice me at all.

What do we do when our preparation does not yield the desired results, when it becomes irrelevant, when we function as designed for an environment that no longer exists?

Dilemmas

Asier will be turning seven, and the common theme in the family is that we like him just the way he is.

“Asier, I forbid you to turn seven.  I don’t want you to get older. I think you are perfect just the way you are,” I said chuckling.

“But, Daddy, if I don’t get older then I will never get married and have a family.”

“You have a good point, Asier. I guess we’ll allow another birthday… this time.”

Why Can’t I Have a Dream Where I Wrestle a Bear or Something

I’ve been having back spasms, knots that have been causing me a fair bit of discomfort.  It could be age, sitting too much, I don’t know.  All I know is that I haven’t been sleeping particularly well. My brain, in its attempt to work the pain into the dream world has seen fit to do so in a novel way.

I’m nine months pregnant. Sigh, in the dream I am so ready to give birth, to get this baby out.  Ugghh, the last month is the worst.

This is the second time I have this dream.

How come I can’t be doing something extreme? Wrestle a bear, cliff dive, hunt a buffalo. If I’m going to have back pain in my dream, it should be manly, I think.  Just sayin’.

El Morro at Sunset

Coffee Tasting with Laura

Did a little coffee tasting with Laura this morning.  I compared three different roasts of varying darkness and one store bought one.

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It was a mixed bag.  The store bought roast, Café Mami en grano (whole bean) was actually pretty good.  One of my roasts was burned. The lighter roast was fruity, but thin bodied. The final, the most recent batch, was chocolaty with a hint of fruit with a nice round body. I preferred it, but Laura actually picked the Café Mami store bought roast. I don’t know if I was swayed because I knew which was which. I trust her palette. Back to the drawing board.

Each demitasse cup had a tablespoon of grounds, over which I poured the just off the boil water and let it sit until the coffee was barely warm. I find that you get a the best sense of the coffee after you let it sit to almost room temperature.

Congratulations, Asier

You’ve entered an elite fraternity. I applaud you for your ability to eat so much Halloween candy that you puked.  Bravo!

Basil Forest

I have been toiling in my garden, mostly struggling, that is planting things and watching them die. I got sick and tired of fighting the weeds, the fungus, the sun, and I made a decision. If I would have weeds, let them be weeds I can eat, so I took the flowers of my basil dried them, and then scattered the tiny little black dots where ever they would fall.

I had had enough; to hell with you, garden. I had given up and was willing to try anything. And like having women throw themselves at you when you are taken, the damn things decided to grow. It’s like the things you want to grow know you want them to grow and don’t, and when you don’t care they seem to beg for your affections. That’s it, I don’t care about you either, you tomatoes, you corn, you zucchini. I don’t care about any of you. Are you buying this? Damn, I just jinxed it.

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Homemade cinnamon rolls.

Frosted cinnamon rolls. They are cut up to spread the joy.

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And some more croissants. They came out extra flaky this time. My process is improving. Look at those striations.

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Made with wild yeast!

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