Saturday, May 31, 2008

We flew out to Nantucket on a ten-seater
and I sat up front beside the pilot. First time
on a plane that small! In fact, when we checked in,
the ticket agent needed to know our weights.
OUT LOUD. IN PUBLIC. Paul and Bill leaned away
and I leaned in and the ticket agent leaned up
so my very demure body size could be whispered quickly.
And then she weighed my handbag.

Nantucket is all window boxes and violas and whales
and grey weathered siding and cobbled streets
and $350 cork screws and $650 linen blouses.
Did I mention that it's a bit pricey?
The streets are "paved" with irregularly-shaped
rounded stones -- crossing is tricky and one tends
to wobble and slip. The sidewalks are a bit better,
bricked, but over the years tree roots have heaved
the bricks upward into rolling waves, so no matter
where one steps, close attention must be paid
or else it's face to face with a bloody brick.

I peered into the window of a real estate office
just for grins: a "cottage" can be had for a mere 3 million.
And we think Seattle is expensive!
As usual, we spent a fair amount of time in book stores,
and Paul met a store manager who graduated from the MFA
program at UW (fiction writing) and was familiar
with Floating Bridge Press. How small our universe has become!
We flew back to Boston at dusk, into the urban haze
of a big city.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

In Boston today -- a fabulous exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts
titled Rhythms of Modern Life: British Prints 1914-1939.
My favorites were by Cyril Power, two of which are pictured above.
Strolling through the exhibit, I felt as though I were seeing
visual representations of good writing; specifically, well-written poetry.
This is difficult to explain, but I'll try: there was color, form,
meaningful repetition, whimsy and an almost visceral movement
across the paper. There was punctuation in the swooping lines.
Stanzas. And not a word in sight!

On to the European collection, for my filling-up with
Cezannes, Monets, Renoirs, Seurats.  I loathe to think
that many of the images from this era have become 
cliche, common almost, as they appear on mugs, placemats, 
shower curtains. Nonetheless, as I stood in the center
of that gallery I found myself moved to tears, such was
the emotional impact of those colors and that light
streaming from those canvases.

Oddest artifacts observed today were the cat, aligator,
snake and lamb mummies: sacred beings from ancient
Egypt. (And I loved that, as we passed from one room
of Egyptian artifacts to another, the sign on the door stated
that the items in this new room were from Old Egypt.)

Tomorrow we head out to Nantucket Island for the day,
then it's back to The Emerald City.

And lastly, this, heard outside Starbucks
(where Top Pot doughnuts are for sale):
(setting: four thirty-something women)
woman #1: so, how far along are you?
woman#2: five months.
woman #1: oh good, then you won't gain any more weight.
And then a murmur of agreement from all.
Ha! Ha!


Monday, May 26, 2008

At Rite-Aid this morning I walked through
the "Dollar Days" aisle. I love these aisles.
I love to see what kind of crap we as a society
are foisting upon dollar-toting consumers. These
aisles represent to me all that is wrong with our
consumer-driven lives. And in every "Dollar Days"
aisles there is usually one item which speak louder
than any other, and today it was little net bags
of shells, for, of course, a dollar. Now I'm going
to get all nostalgic: I remember when the only place
one could purchase little bags of shells was at
a store beside an ocean. Little bags of shells
and shells in bins individually priced. Exotic
shells, glossy shells, shells with odd spikes
and pearly insides which, when held up to the ear
echoed a far-away surf. As a six-year-old, I usually
had perhaps a dollar to spend on a memento
of my trip to the ocean, and most shells were ten cents
or maybe a quarter. They always slipped nicely
into a slim paper bag, and I'd take them out later
when I was alone and examine each one, every swirl
and stripe. These were my treasures, more valuable
than any other possible souvenir, and I dreamed
of walking a beach far from the limitations of rural/suburban
Renton where every shell was a wonder I could not
have ever imagined -- glint, sparkle, shimmer.
When I was 26 I walked the beach in Normandy
and instead of sand there were only tiny irridescent shells,
literally millions of them underfoot, up and down the strand
as far as I could walk. I scooped handfuls to my pockets,
carried them home across an ocean and a continent
carefully packed to minimize breakage. Sometimes when
I think that this, too, was just a dream, I return
to the vintage glass jar where they are stored
and I sift them -- a bit chipped after all these years --
through my fingers.
The dollar-bags of shells at Rite-Aid this morning
turned what I have always thought of as treasure
into a cheap commodity. I considered buying some,
even picked up the mesh bag and turned it over
and over in my hands, but it just wasn't the same.
I think what I really needed from the Dollar Days aisle
was a set of orange plastic cups: stackable, unbreakable
and ugly. Maybe tonight I'll dream of a meadow
with orange plastic cups blooming from every stem.
But really, I'd rather it be shells.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

We slept with the windows open last night, all that cool air
inhabiting our dreams. I awoke at 3:11 to the song of a robin
coming from somewhere up in the bigleaf maple, or the cedar.
A sparkle of a sound, the way it seemed to jig up and down --
zigzag -- looping over and around itself. But at 3:11am!
Take away the artifice of daylight savings time, and that dang bird
was blaring out its come-hither avian aria at two in the morning.
A bit early for romance, at least according to this bipedal mammal.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Watching basketball today -- middle-schoolers --
my nephew -- at this age they are so much an elongation
of bone with barely enough skin to cover.
So unformed, still, with their grown-man stances
and aggressive ball-bouncing and shouldering-aside
of opposing teammates, with the occasional ultra-graceful
pass or free-shot. The only place to sit was courtside,
or rather, nearly inside the court,
and there were a few moments when the players & ball
thundered towards us, shoes squeaking, barely managing
not to plow us down. I felt so vulnerable
sitting so close, so much flesh & living-matter.
The game even smelled differently, in close range.
(Well, you can imagine.)
The nephew scored 15 points, and I sent him home
with a big box of no-bake cookies, a belated birthday gift
owed since last December.
I have seven pots of geraniums that I winter-over
and slowly acclimate each spring to the topsy-turvy
weather of a Seattle May. This year it's been either
bring them in! It's too cold!
or bring them in! It's too hot!
Somehow I managed to get it right this year --
they are lush and thriving. And as they are the only
garden I have this year in house #2, there is no excuse
but for them to be bountiful. I am lacking, though,
in scented geraniums and those lovely hardy blues
that spill and spill onto the garden each spring....

Friday, May 23, 2008

I must remember to pay attention, and to listen.


Yesterday's Daily Vocabulary:

Moses Lake
Saint Vincent
(The rules for Daily Vocabulary:
any word listed must have been spoken or heard,
either live or in any form of media. The written word
does not qualify.)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

One of my favorite images is laundry hanging
on a clothesline.(I know, terribly domestic,
but it's the truth.) So, I move into the fascinating
world of film with the following video.....
(It's only a minute and a half long.)

Kingsville on the Line

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Bread pudding is one of those desserts that I can make
with my eyes closed, and no measuring cups: just stale bread,
eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, a grating of fresh nutmeg,
a dotting of butter. Serve it gilded, if necessary, with a scoop
of vanilla ice cream. A cure-all.


Poetry group last night, and as usual,  a wildly varied
vocabulary and subject matter:

Jeff: ventilating anger
Rosanne: morning cloud walk
Peter: hangover blues 
Susan: missing "M"
Ted: Not Paris
me: measuring grief

Monday, May 19, 2008

From my walk in the woods:

red alder 
skunk cabbage
salmon berries
scouring rush
red elderberry
western cedar
Douglas fir
wild (native) blackberries
lady ferns
sword ferns
one pileated woodpecker
and five male mallards, who hung out with me and chatted.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I love the internet because it has allowed me to order parts
for my prehistoric sewing machine without driving all the way
to Louisiana or Indiana, whence cometh the parts. 

And I did not feel compelled to spend all my time
in close proximity to the sun these past few days
simply because it has, finally, emerged.


Joy and Sorrow, Zhong-yang Huang

You cannot look at grief under a microscope.
I mean literally. Last night as I entered that
dream-manic state between wakefulness
and all-out sleep, where images rise up
at frantic speeds and disappear just as quickly,
I kept trying to capture a physical shred of grief
in order to make a slide, so I could scientifically
deconstruct its myriad parts under the light
of magnification. It didn't work. I awoke
and recounted this to P. who was beside me reading.
He looked at me and stated, very soberly, 
"You can't do that."

Saturday, May 17, 2008


At Target the blender selection ranges from a basic all-plastic
model for $19.99 to those in the one-hundred dollar range.
Most sport about a dozen different speeds, with words like
blend, stir, chop, mix, whip, mince, frappe and puree.
As a child I was fascinated by the numerous
descriptions of what this appliance could accomplish.
Frappe! (Rhymed with what -- trap?!) We didn't have frappes 
in Renton! (What was a frappe, anyway? Something frozen. 
Something that happens when you push the frappe button 
on the Osterizer.) I remember when I realized that each button 
essentially just made the blades whir, albeit at different speeds.
Oh! The disappointment! The innocence lost when I realized
that something as plebeian as chop was synonymous with frappe!
When you get right down to it, all you really need is 
go and stop. Maybe a go fast and a go faster. 
But a childhood without frappe seems barely worth enduring.
If I had the privilege of naming the blender buttons,
I would choose these:
flutter, julienne, lacerate, fluff, mingle, chew, rend, sever and dismember. 
At Target, today, I chose a "classic" style blender: chrome base,
glass jar, with two speeds: go fast and go faster.
But in spite of the lack of a better blender vocabulary,
tomorrow I'm going to throw in some fresh strawberries,
yogurt, vanilla and ice and whip myself up a nice pink frappé.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Driving home tonight down Rainier Avenue
I saw a man in a light blue suit pushing a shopping cart
containing a sleeping bag (among other things)
into traffic. He wanted to cross. In the middle of Friday
traffic. I stopped as he wended his way around cars.
When he got in front of my car, instead of continuing on
to the curb, he decided to turn his cart 45 degrees and
continue down Rainier in front of me. My first inclination
was to open my window and yell. Then the "C" word
popped into my head: Compassion. I thought: quite possibly
everything this man owns is in that shopping cart. That sleeping
bag is most likely his bed. And the blue suit, well, it was a good fit.
He kept motioning back to me with his hand, like, "just hold on,
I'm busy."  When I thought about it, I was really in no particular rush 
to get home to my comfortable house and the glass 
of red wine, pizza, shaved parmesan on my salad could wait. 
A reasonable guess was that he was homeless, perhaps mentally ill.
After a few moments, he turned his cart to the curb, bumped it up
onto the sidewalk, and I continued on my way home, 
in my fuel-efficient car, my cell-phone at the ready, 
certain of a bed, a meal, a well-stocked refrigerator, 
a lock on every door.
O fragile universe!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Today's vocabulary (in no particular order):


This is what I made for dinner: Niv ua Qoc.
As I won't ask you to hold your computer
up to a mirror, I shall translate: (backwards) Coq au Vin.
Backwards because I had no intention to cook up
a classic French dish; in fact, I didn't really even want
any dinner. Thus:

Home late, chicken legs in fridge: saute in olive oil
with a little salt and pepper. Boring! Add chicken stock,
a little of the red wine I'm sipping. Needs something else --
bay leaves, thyme. Wait! Onions! Garlic! Simmer simmer.
WHAT ABOUT BACON? Okay okay.  Added browned  bacon.
Reduced sauce, threw in a dab of butter: Dinner.
Dipped thick bread in the lovely sauce: my own private gravy.

There is something about this dish that demands
it be eaten regularly, or at least something way back
in my cultural genetic memory that tells me
This Is Something Good. It's not a dish from my childhood,
but when I hunkered down at the table tonight
sopping up the bacon/onion/sauce with bread,
the feelings of comfort and completeness
inhabited every cell in my body. In fact,  Coq au Vin
doesn't even date very far back in French cuisine:
Various legends trace coq au vin to ancient Gaul and 
Julius Caesar,  but the food is not documented until the early
20th century, though it no doubt existed as a rustic 
country dish long before that. (Wikipedia.) 

I'm fairly certain that someone, somewhere in the
land of my foremothers, long before the 20th century, 
figured out the sublime pairing of chicken, red wine, bay leaves.....
Maybe this someone even began backwards, as I did, searching
the cupboard for yet something else to add to the sizzling poulet.
I raise my glass (and the little that's left in it!) to her.

Check out this short film here.
It's quite amazing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Today I rubbed black paint into the surface
of fishbowl-shaped vessels, onto the image
of a dandelion gone to seed. Scritch scratch.
Black-splotched fingers. (I get paid to do this.)
When M. announced that she had made her
spinach soup, a cheer rose from our crowd-of-four
because today it was winter, again.
Perhaps we should dine on gazpacho on Thursday
when summer arrives with a nearly fifty-degree
temperature change predicted.
Wool, or cotton? Goretex or linen?

The extra-terrestrial is my brother.
(In a manner of speaking.)

Monday, May 12, 2008

In Safeway today after work, waiting for a prescription,
I lingered in the hair-products aisle, and happened
upon this:

Notice the delicious creamy color!
New! And improved! I wonder if it comes
in a reduced-fat version.

From today's walk in the woods....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms I know:
Julie, Elizabeth, Mary Lois, Mary Fran, Ann B., Lorraine, Kath, 
Carol P., Pam, Chrissie, Linda D., Genevieve, Connie, Barbara,
Carla, Sharon, Leisa, Patty G., Annie, Rosa, Carol S., Dina, Kelley, 
Tanya, Tracey, Stacey, Ann Marie T., Heidi, Ann P., Priscilla, Erma, 
Florence, Jean, Molly, Aunt Ann, Aunt Mary, Marylee, Judy, Gayle, 
Sherry, Susan, Marie, Helen, Sarah, Linda G., Ann-Marie S., Robin, 
Cezanne, Joannie, Nita.

And to moms missed but not forgotten: Alice, Marilyn.

And to a mom I never met but wish I had: Pat, who raised
five wonderful sons.   
My Mother's Laundry

Order began under the cellar clothesline
where she shook each spun article
once, clipped it to rafter-strung rope.
All winter the bellowing furnace
let out its roar, its wooly breath.
My father didn't believe
in tumble dryers, and Mother, washing
for nine, hung each day's eighteen socks
with a frown. Here was a lesson
for six daughters, where sorting began,
the sets and subsets—
pants, underpants, underground.

First March morning hinting sun
she trudged loads
up the unforgiving stairwell
to wires stretched above winter's wrung grass.
Never like that, she would gesture
south to neighboring lines
where nameless clothing dried
clumped, haphazard wads.
And never leave it out after dark.

My father's bleached shirts billowed an absence
his hovering death would embody, rumor
of cumulonimbus  on the horizon,
urging thunder.

The new appliance, bumped down the back steps
by my brother, vented for all eternity
to the elements, was feeble consolation.

(Appeared in Poets West, 1998.)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

I went to a party at the end of the world today, 
yes, it was that far away, all the way up to Monroe
past the penitentiary and then north, on and on.
I showed my passport at the door. I could see snow.

Button sewing, needle-pushing.
Loop-dee-loop. Tick tack.
Seam-ripping, thread-breaking.
Stitch again, back to back.

Friday, May 9, 2008

"The past is no insubstantial, thready thing, sunlight slanting
through shutters into cool rooms, pools and standards of mist
adrift at roadside, memories that flutter from our hands the
instant we open them. Rather is it all too substantial, bluntly
physical like a boulder or cement block growing ever denser,
ever larger, there behind us, displacing and pushing us forward.
And yes: in its mindless, rocklike, solid, unstoppable way, 
it pursues us."

--from Eye of the Cricket, James Sallis

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Meadow Mouse

In a shoe box stuffed in an old nylon stocking
Sleeps the baby mouse I found in the meadow,
Where he trembled and shook beneath a stick
Till I caught him up by the tail and brought him in,
Cradled in my hand,
A little quaker, the whole body of him trembling,
His absurd whiskers sticking out like a cartoon mouse,
His feet like small leaves,
Little lizard feet,
Whitish and spread wide when he tried to struggle away,
Wriggling like a miniscule puppy.

Now he's eaten his three kinds of cheese and drunk from his
     bottle-cap watering-trough--
So much he just lies in one corner,
His tail curled under him, his belly big
As his head; his bat-like ears
Twitching, tilting toward the least sound.

Do i imagine he no longer trembles
When I come close to him?
He seems no longer to tremble.

But this morning the shoe-box house on the back porch is empty.
Where has he gone, my meadow mouse,
My thumb of a child that nuzzled in my palm? --
To run under the hawk's wing,
Under the eye of the great owl watching from the elm tree,
To live by courtesy of the shrike, the snake, the tomcat.

I think of the nestling fallen into the deep grass,
The turtle gasping in the dusty rubble of the highway,
The paralytic stunned in the tub and the water rising --
All things innocent, hapless, forsaken.

--Theodore Roethke

I've been pondering what we saw last week when we toured
the flood-damaged miles-and-miles of New Orleans, and no words
spring to the page when I attempt to write about it. Thankfully,
my loving husband has done this instead. Check out his account
of our experiences here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Power of The Blog

As a reaction to a comment last week from frequent-commenter
Pamela concerning a request that $100 worth of beignets
be delivered to her door, and because she hit the mid-century mark 
yesterday, and because her amazing and gracious daughter
staged a surprise birthday party for her, I arrived at her door
yesterday evening with beignet makings in tow: a bowlful
of pre-made batter, a deep cauldron (after all, this beignet-thing
contains its fair amount of voodoo), canola oil, rolling pin, 
flour, powdered sugar, sieve, dough scraper, paper towels and apron.

Reilly and I set up shop on the deck where we heated oil
to 360° on the propane burner attached to the grill. I rolled out
my spongy dough on the picnic table, sectioned it into neat squares
with my scraper, then plopped (gently!) four little pillows
at a time into the oil, where they bobbed and bubbled, browning
quickly. Steaming, too hot to touch, I sieved a generous cloud
of powdered sugar on each puffed confection. Friends began
to gather, drawn by the scent of fried dough. Each beignet
was snatched up almost as quickly as I sugared it,
and over and over again I warned: "Hot!" 

Because they contain so much air, 
because  the ratio of crisp to puff 
favors puff hands down, beignets are the kind of --
well, let's face it -- doughnut -- that defies the customary image
of a fat-laden, artery-clogging, gut-stuffing blue-collar pastry.
Therefore, one may consume as many as one's heart desires
with no negative consequences. (Warning! This may not be true!)

The best part of all this, after Pam's birthday and the joy
of cooking with my son, was the fact that I was 
cooking to an audience and contributing, once again,
to the swoon-factor of the human race.
Feed someone well -- and I mean
really tap into that primitive desire
to be sated, set off all those bells and whistles
in the brain, and before long
you will have that person at the ground
in front of you, kissing your feet.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Celebrity Sighting....

or maybe not, but last Tuesday at the House of Blues in New Orleans,
I left Paul standing up by the stage in front of the booming speakers
and sought a slightly-less ear-splitting perch from which to listen 
to the soulful, melancholic blues of James Blood Ulmer. I perched
myself on a velvet settee and settled in to the music, sipped my
vodka tonic. Before long, a very handsome young man -- looking an
awful lot like the one pictured above -- asked me if it was okay
for him to sit beside me. I motioned for him to sit, and he did,
and he then attempted to strike up a conversation.  The music was
very loud -- we had to yell. He was dressed in a black suit, white
shirt open at the neck. I noticed his shoes (I always notice shoes)
and they were black, polished, expensive. He was charming in a 
Cary Grant kind of way, and really wanted to talk to me about the
music, which was nearly impossible. This went on for several minutes,
when a tall woman with long dark hair came up and swooped him away.
All I thought at that point was, wow, he certainly was cute! And how
sweet of him, chatting it up with this middle-aged woman! A bit 
of an ego boost, I must admit. And I didn't think much more of it
until, the next day, on our flight to Texas, Paul pulled out 
the American Airlines in-flight magazine and there he was, on
the cover. Now, I can't say I've necessarily been a fan of his;
in fact, I've never even given him a second thought. But the man
who sat beside me at The House of Blues was a dead-ringer
for this man. Demi Moore, move over. 


Dream: Oscar Wilde and several other boys/men
came to a party I had in the old family manse
(that's a lie, it was a wonky 3-bedroom, cut-up &
added-on-to rambler in Renton) and they stripped,
ran through the house shrieking and whooping
before plunking their bare asses down in the hot tub.
(Again, a manufactured detail. Hot tub? In the house
where I grew up?! Bathtub, more like it.) I have absolutely
no idea what predisposed me to dream of Oscar Wilde.
But I was concerned when the rest of the guests arrived
and I hadn't yet sliced the log-sized salami and coppacola.
Hmm. Perhaps symbolic. You think?

Sunday, May 4, 2008

From Rosa's garden, Kingsville, Texas.
I've been on six planes in the past nine days
and I don't care what scientists and engineers say --
I believe that flying is a miracle. 
There is that moment just after takeoff
for a few seconds when, just skimming the trees,
it feels like one of my dreams of flying:
my ability to fly depends on how well
I can will myself to ascend, and if I lose the concentration
I quickly  drop to earth. Fabulously exhilarating!
(Especially when the dream goes on and on....)
If only airplane travel had the same effect.
But how lovely the vertebrae of the mountains,
and the flanks of the foothills stretching out,
the loops and twirls of rivers.
And how marvelous to be home again, in my own bed.
I tire of the public crush of humans in airports,
the frantic push through security, zip zip zip.
The seating which prevents a recumbent posture!
The same tired bananas and red & golden delicious! apples.
No real food, nor air.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Corpus Christs beach birds, new sisters-in-law, new family!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Photos of the barber shop where P. used to get his hair cut as a child.
One dollar per cut. The Andrews Barber Shop sign looms like a giant
abandoned crucifux. As P.'s brother Jim says, "This part of Texas is 
populated by rednecks, surfer dudes and Mexicans. It IS Mexico." 
And it is so unlike anywhere else I've been.

Had a vanilla ice cream soda at Harrel's Drugstore at the lunch counter
in the back. If you are itching for a snack, here are three options:
egg, any style, $.60
tortilla, $.20
gravy, $.40
Also on the menu is a Phosphate.
This is another universe.

98 degrees this afternoon, according to one bank, 93 at another.
By 8pm it had cooled down to 83 and actually felt cool.
I usually melt at any temp. above 75. Don't know what is up.

Joe (a brother) and I made dinner tonight chez-parents:
broiled scarlet snapper, steamed broccoli, a salad of mixed greens,
spinach, avocado, tomato, cuke, green onions, shaved parm.
It felt to good to be handling vegetables, to feel the velvet
slip of the avocado in my hands, the firmness of the cucumber.
And to let those bright vegetal colors into my consciousness:
tomato-red,  avocado-green, pale-green-onion. Realizing how much
I miss them when I'm traveling. Of course, eating out is wonderful
and I love every minute of it, but food prep. is its own pleasure,
its own joy.

I had to spend some time cruising the aisles at heb-mart,
where massive bloody hunks of beef brisket were on sale
for $1.49/pound, and dried pinto beans were available
in a giant bin, for scooping. There were gallon jars of
pickled jalapenos as well as pickled cactus, many varieties
of mole. I picked up a small jar of Mexican vanilla extract
for $2, and mangoes. I love mangoes. 

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Texas. Too small to be on this map (pop., 25k) but if you can find
Corpus Christi (Body of Christ!) down in the south on the gulf,
then just imagine a burg about 40 miles southwest, and flatter than a
griddlecake, peppered with mesquite trees.
We are here to celebrate Paul Sr.'s 80th birthday.
(Paul Sr. is here because 41 years ago he accepted a job as head
librarian at Texas A & M. ) I noticed upon entering town this morning
that the Terrorist Risk in Kingsville today is Yellow. (Just thought
I'd let you know.) The big claim to fame here is the King Ranch, which
encompasses more square miles than the state of Rhode Island. 
Once known as the Wild Horse Desert, Kingsville, founded in 1904,
lies in the middle of land once part of the Rincon De Santa Gertrudis
Spanish Land Grant. Captain Richard King was a steamboat captain
who became enamored of this landscape when traveling by horseback
from Brownsville to Corpus Christi. He set up camp on the Santa
Gertrudis Creek, therefore establishing a base for one of the most
celebrated legacies in international ranching. We must not forget
his wife Henrietta, who donated land for the town site,
and who was instrumental in luring the St. Louis and
Brownsville Railroads, connecting Kingsville to the larger universe.
Miss Henrietta also decreed that Kingsville be dry, owing to
Richard's excessive guzzling of fine likker. 
This law persisted into the 1970's.
Besides the university, Kingsville is home to a Naval Air Station.
That aside, Paul assures me that there is not one fine-dining
establishment between here and Corpus Christi. We lunched
at Young's Pizza, home of P.'s first job. They serve some kick-ass
sandwiches -- mine was coppacola, provolone, pepperoncini
with a light horseradish mayo, served hot. A perfect combination
of flavors. Iced tea in pint glasses, graffiti over EVERYTHING inside
save the table tops, which the management requests be left clean.
The local grocery store is the H.E.B. and not a soul pronounces it "heb."
I've been referring to it as Heb-Mart, to P.'s dismay. Speaking of marts,
when odious Wal-Mart moved in some years back, it essentially
shuttered the old downtown. There are a few holdouts, including
a drugstore which houses a 1950's-era lunch counter in the back.
And of course, a visit to Kingsville wouldn't be complete
without a visit to the King Ranch Store, which sells dinner napkins,
handbags, silver bracelets, boots, porcelain, scarves, belt buckles, skirts,
placemats, saddles, sofas,  a sedan chair(!), carved-horn business 
card holders, and chaps: all emblazoned with the Running W brand. 
As far as I'm concerned this store contains just about every 
Texas cliche imaginable, plus some really cool stuff 
one would most likely not find anywhere else on the planet. 
New Orleans was like someplace out of one of my
wacky dreamscapes, where the colors are wildly out of control
and every storefront offers something outrageously more intriguing
than the one before, every taste transports the dreamer
to food-time, exclusive of anything/anywhere else, 
while around every corner is yet a different set 
of musicians slinging a tune, plucking the strings
of a washtub bass, or letting that trombone/trumpet wail.
Voodoo, Catholic, altars in remembrance of deceased cats.
Bougainville, hibiscus, plumbago spilling from balconies,
voluptuous lures, pollen-laden stamens drooping in the heat.
Pink shotgun houses, purple gingerbreading, blue scrollwork.
Irregularly-cobbled sidewalks, potholed. Sonambulistic mules
harnessed to carriages in Jackson Square. Confectioner's sugar 
clouds at Cafe du Monde. The bric-a-brac trinket show
at the French Market, nearly everything under $10.
And the t-shirts:
"I got bourbon-faced on shit street."
"I want to be Barbie -- that bitch has everything."
"Don't make me poison your food!" (On an apron.)
On and on.   

From the French Quarter....

FYI -- If you click on a picture, it should enlarge!