Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hell (not a Yell) in my Hair

Lola and I are gearing up for a rough block of teaching and dealing with lots of minor emergencies. Today, my preparations for this and other notable events brought me into contact with what may be a Spanish neologism. At the end of my haircut at the Durango barbershop on Fillmore, the stylist, a Mexican-born woman in her late fifties, asked me, "¿Quiere que le ponga gel en el cabello?" For a moment, I didn't understand her, and when I realized what she was saying it just struck me funny. Research has brought me into contact with such borrowings as "colcré" in the Spanish-language press of the early twentieth century, but I haven't seen this one. My hypothesis is that this term has entered the Spanish language through the circulation of beauty products with English-language labels (hence its rendering as "gel" rather than "yel". I would guess that it makes sense to speakers who have the word "gelatina" already. Whether "gel" is replacing words like "pomada," or whether its use extends beyond hair care professionals is unclear. The image here is from the TAT foundation.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

We just received this notice from Sananto Cultural Arts. Manny Castillo, the Executive Director, has just undergone surgery for cancer. Here is the notice from Sananto.

October 21, 2008

Dear Friends & Supporters of San Anto Cultural Arts:

As most of you know by now our Executive Director, Manuel “Manny” Castillo, was recently diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery yesterday morning. His immune system is healthy and he is recovering well. The doctors are restricting visitors for at least a couple of days while Manny recuperates from his surgery. The latest conversation with Manny’s immediate family was that Manny is in excellent spirits and ready to take on the fight of his life. The doctor’s prognosis is good and we ask everyone to maintain positive thoughts for Manny and to please keep him in your prayers daily. The Board of Directors and Staff have come together to make sure we maintain programming levels that Manny would expect us to continue in his absence. If anyone wishes to send cards or letters of encouragement we request that you send them to San Anto Cultural Arts located at 1300 Chihuahua Street, San Antonio, TX 78207 and we will make sure Manny receives them. Should you desire any further information we request you speak with Heather Eichling, Development Coordinator and she can be reached at (210) 226-7466. On behalf of the board of directors and staff of San Anto Cultural Arts, we thank you for all your calls and gestures of support during these times and we ask you to please continue to keep Manny in your prayers.

Sincere thanks,

San Anto Cultural Arts’ Board of Directors and Staff
I first met Manuel back in '93 when he was working alongside Mennonite volunteer friends of mine at Inner City Development by day and playing with a punk band called "El Santo" by night. Over the years, he has shaped Sananto cultural arts into a truly grassroots, service oriented arts organization. Sananto works intensively with youth from the West Side and has filled a niche that I suspect some didn't even know needed filling when the organization started. Let's all keep Manuel in our thoughts and send gestures of support as outlined above.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Where to Eat in ABQ during ASA

OK, folks, time for the shamelss family plug department. We wish we could go to ASA this weekend in 'burque, but it's just not going to happen. For those of you who are going, we hope you'll check out Cafe Green. You may recall our earlier post about cousin Camille and Kyle's wedding. They trained in Aspen as chefs and really seem to be making a good go of this restaurant, which they recently acquired and re-opened. As we've watched the stock market on its roller-coaster ride and watched Bush try to scare us all into accepting his bailout plan, we've been praying they can ride out the storm with their new business intact. What do the reviewers say about Cafe Green? Here' s a particularly eloquent one.

By babsormom, 11/04/06
For th best food around, no doubt this is the place!
Hey, you know babsormom can't be wrong. Go get some truffle fries. You deserve them. Cafe Green is at 319 5th Street SW, at the corner of 5th Street SW and Silver (map).

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Breaking Tomato News

After my last post on tomatoes, I got merciless about picking flowers off the plants, hoping that this would push them to put their energy into ripening existing fruit. That effort appears to have paid off, with help from some unseasonably warm weather. Here on the left is a mixture of tomatoes from the volunteers and some from the plants we bought. I have no idea where the seed for the yellow ones came from. This is stuff that has been ripening inside for about a week.

Today, I picked a bunch more. Here (right) is what came off the volunteers today.

And then below, in the black bowl, is what came off the commercially started cherry tomato plants today. So far, there is one tomato on the Pennsylvania heirloom plants that is starting to turn orange, but the rest are mostly green. Finally, there are three volunteer butternut squash (below left). Tomorrow we have dinner with a colleague of Lola's, and we'll be using some of our harvest in a pasta salad.

Today, the man who put new gutters on the house came to do the same to the garage. When I saw him out back, he asked what I had done to make the tomato plants grow so large. "Those bad boys are goin' crazy," he said. We ended up talking for a bit about gardening. As a gutter-installer, you see a lot of yards, and our man says we have some of the best tomato plants around.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


Yesterday at the Chemo Lounge, I picked up the local paper only to find the letters to the editor dominated by angry responses to the letter by a new faculty member in Ethnic Studies at UCCS.
Professor says Palin gets pass for being white

Despite several commentators' assertions to the contrary, Sarah Palin's candidacy has virtually nothing to do with valuing women's lives since she holds women and children in such low regard. In the case of Palin, we see a candidate who says that she believes in children's rights and yet is carrying her infant around as if the child were some kind of trophy. Disability rights activists are, understandably furious to see the way the infant is being used as some kind of poster child even as Palin has no history of supporting social services, education and quality of life resources for people with disabilities. The media frenzy that is flittered around Palin has also failed to address the many ways that her white privilege has made her candidacy possible. Only someone white could get away with having such shockingly thin credentials when it comes to the economy and world policy. It is both cynical and frightening that the Republican Party is using her gender as an excuse to promote a person who is so poorly prepared for the job. It is another case of white affirmative action with a gender twist. It has been a long time since I have seen so many women in my life so upset (perhaps not since the Anita Hill hearings when Hill's veracity, character and honesty were all miserably disrespected).

While Anita Hill had all of the credentials and job experience she should have needed to be taken seriously, Palin has virtually none. The racial discrepancies in how the two were treated are palpable.

Sarah Palin's nomination is certainly not a step forward for women. It is not even a step back. It is a step down into low-level thinking and sarcastic posturing. It is an insult to the principled life that Senator Clinton has lived on behalf of women and children. The public is already seeing through the post-nomination frenzy and is now recognizing that biology is not destiny. Principles are not genetically determined. Life affirming principles come from social movements and working for justice. We are moving way beyond silly talk about lipstick and square eyeglasses. This election must be taken beyond the confines of white snow and retro politics.

A friend at UCCS has told me that the Campus Republicans there are up in arms about this letter and have posted fliers around campus calling on students to report all liberal professors, presumably if those liberal professors say "liberal" things in the classroom. Reminds me of the Young Conservatives of Texas in the 90s. What does it mean when kids are willing to work so hard to limit what they will hear and censor the free exchange of ideas for which they are supposedly paying tuition? And where are the conservative champions of free speech to condemn this "politically correct" witch hunt?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Goodbye summer....

Lola and I just said goodbye to my folks, who came to visit over the weekend, and goodbye to summer on this Autumnal Equinox. Fall hasn't wasted any time getting here. On Saturday, we were sitting in the living room with the front door open when a sudden gust of wind blew clouds of yellow leaves all over the block. We hadn't even noticed they had turned. Mom and Dad came to keep us company during the first weekend of cycle 4 (of 6). Today, they returned to Clinton with a half-bushel of another fall staple--green chile--in the cooler we had borrowed from them during a visit to Kansas. We used it to transport frozen cherries back to Colorado. Now I guess we have to buy a cooler! No more mooching off the parents...

The summer and spring 2008 were strikingly cool and dry here, and the extreme weather has had drastic effects. For example, a friend of ours who is an environmental scientist says that ladybugs are rare this year, and that the aphid/ladybug interaction that usually happens on wild plants is quite muted. Other tiny predators have entered the ladybugs' niche.

For us, one of the major effects has been on tomatoes. We didn't do much with the garden last year, because the discovery of Jerry's Kids came right at a time when stuff needed to be planted. This year, I vowed we would have tomatoes and put muscle and care behind the vow. A friend who raises heirloom yellow tomatoes gave us seed, and I raised a bunch of little plants from seed and planted them back by the lilac bush. As seedlings, these tomatoes grew slowly, so I broke down and bought some cherry tomato plants from the garden store and planted them where I hoped they wouldn't cross-pollinate with the heirlooms (right--Mike-n-Ronda, note Suzie's new garage in the background). Then, something unexpected happened. In the cold frame where we had lettuce and spinach, volunteer tomatoes that I didn't pull up grew like gangbusters. I swear I did nothing to help these plants except allow them to grow and give them something to climb on when they got big enough. They appear to have come up from the compost I spread in the cold frame this past March, and they are likely to out-produce the plants I actually worked to create (below left).

I say "likely" here, because most of the tomatoes are still green. Gardeners who know this area say that everything is about three weeks behind. It won't be long before we make a panicked run on our poor tomato plants, cutting the green fruit down and letting it ripen in paper bags on the windowsill. I'll try to photograph the haul when this happens. According to the Weather Channel, we will have at least 10 days of temperatures between 40 and 80 degrees. Let's hope they're right and that frost is slow in coming!

In the meantime, we have spinach and lettuce growing under the makeshift cover I made for the cold frame out of an old box spring and some plastic. I guess Lola's "ReadyMade" magazines rubbed off on me.

Friday, September 05, 2008

From the Boda to the Baca

Is it unwise to advertise that we'll be on the road? Hey burglars! Over here!

Congratulations to Lola's cousin Camille, who is getting hitched to longtime beau Kyle. The happy couple met in chef school, and now they are running a restaurant in downtown 'burque. If you want to try some lovely truffle fries, check it out if you're in town for ASA. We'll provide more details. We'll be at Lola's aunt's house Saturday for the big celebration. Why they had to get married in the middle of the Block we can't figure. Don't they know the world revolves around us?

Then we're off to the College's campus-away-from-campus in the San Luis Valley for a couple of days with Lola's students. We will be tourguides and disciplinarians for some people who are over 21, so wish us luck.