October 2005


Surreal? You want surreal? How about sitting in the Timpson Whataburger surrounded by large men wearing hats and talking in low voices with deep East Texas accents while you daintily nibble your Whataburger® with jalapeño slices and fries and wirelessly access the Internet. Owing to various conspiracies this is only my second Whataburger this trip, but I have to say they’re even better with a sliced jalapeño in ’em.

Downtown Timpson, my father’s home town, where I started elementary school in 1947. Hasn’t aged all that well, but neither have I:


This was after going by the Timpson cemetery and photographing my parents’ graves, all to kill some more time until Maebelle got out of Church in Garrison so I could see her for a few minutes before blasting back across east Texas on I-20 to get to DFW before my plane back to civilization left.

Downtown Garrison, my mother’s home town, where she lived her last thirty years:


And what was I doing back in Texas, you ask? Well, last year before the reunion fiasco I told Mel, my 95-year-old friend in Midland, that if he’d take care of himself and stay alive, I’d come see him again. The old fart, half-crippled but not having lost a single brain cell, remembered my promise and held me to it.

“KEEP TEXAS PURDY,” the sign said, and I figure I’ll do that by not going back. But I have to say, that it was fun to listen to the car radio as I drove across Texas.

Like that advertisement for some kind of remedy in a capsule “filled with real liquid.”

Or the athlete’s foot remedy slogan: “Kiss your itching and burning feet goodbye.”

Meanwhile, back home, here’s the Gay Freedom Flag that flies at Castro and Market:

Gay Freedom Flag over the Castro

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I’ve been in a chutney/pickling frenzy.

Thursday I made a chutney of Angelina plums, red flame raisins, red onion, and jalapeños. The problem with jalapeños is their huge variation in hotness. I used six big ones in this batch, and yow!

I got the plums Wednesday from Erik Scheltewitz at his booth at the Civic Center Farmers Market, and after I’d paid he threw in half as many more as a bonus. I am perhaps Erik’s most long-term customer, as I started buying oranges from him on his first trip to the San Mateo Farmers market when it was at Fashion Island back when I had just started working at Oracle and Erik and I were both buffed. It was literally his first day because both he and his oranges, which is all he brought back then, were such perfect farm-fresh produce that I would not have missed either had they been at the market before. The past dozen years have not been kind to either of us although his only excuse is marriage to a good cook.

But anyhow, since I had the extra plums, I stopped at another vendor on the way out and bought a bunch of nectarines and Friday morning made a half nectarine and half plum chutney… with golden raisins and yellow onion and seven of those jalapeños. Double yow!!

Friday afternoon, I pickled the cute little okra I had got Wednesday.

Saturday morning at 8:00 A.M. I was at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market for my usual coffee with Sybil, especially excited because the only vendor out here who does pineapple guavas had told me he’d be bringing his first ones in. Their season is only three weeks, and they make the best chutney of any fruit I’ve used so far.

As it turned out, I had misunderstood about the pineapple guavas as they’re still two weeks out, but what I did find at Tierra Vegetables was the most enormous tomatillos I’ve ever seen. As I was stuffing a bag, Sybil asked, “What are you going to do with them?” and I realized that I hadn’t thought that far ahead. They were simply too gorgeous to pass up.

And after that at Blossom Bluff when I dropped off a jar of the chutney I’d made with their Flavor Rich pluots, they pointed out that they had their first Damson plums and gave me a bagful. I was going to make a chutney of them but decided I’d just jam them. Two quarts plums, one quart sugar, one apple, and the juice of one lemon. Simmered into mush with a little help at the end from my stick blender.

The tomatillos I put into a chutney this morning with some nectarines, three jalapeños, and a pimento that Lee gave me. I cut back on the spices to better highlight the tomatillos, using only cinnamon and mace. Oh, and it’s only three jalapeños because that’s all I have and also because I finally made Sybil cry Uncle.

Here’s a telephoto view from a hilltop south of Forrestville of the Hacienda Bridge over the Russian River.

Hacienda Bridge

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It’s Come to This? Department:

This afternoon I purred down to Bell Market on the Segway, and as I was chatting with a couple of folks out front, there lumbered into the lot and parked right in front of us an Armada. A Nissan Armada. Bright black.

Mine was not the only jaw that dropped at seeing this enormous, radiant obscenity here in San Francisco.

I’ve never been one to give my vehicles names like some folks did in the fifties and I figure probably still do, but from now on I’m calling the Prius “Nelson.”

Here’s a Castro Street view for you:

Castro Street wires

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