Thursday, April 30, 2015

Photo(s) of the Day: Aliens?

Looks like a couple of eyes in the upper center. Aliens. Yes.
Hovering over downtown Roanoke.
No. I have no idea what caused this, except that one of my buds said, "Aliens." 'Course, this is the same bud who once said, "The only explanation for men is aliens." An answer for everything.

This was the situation downtown in Roanoke about 3:15 p.m. today. I had finished talking to a journalism class and just completed some photos for a magazine assignment when I went over to my truck, looked up and saw what's on the left. Eerie? Yep. I'd say. Lucky to have had one of my better cameras along.

Aliens? Maybe so.

Same formation, a little clearer, at the Higher Ed Center.

Chatting With a W&L J-Class

Doug Cumming beside me (green shirt) and his wife Libby (across the table). Click to see whole pix.
Me talking it up.
I had the opportunity today to talk to Doug Cumming's journalism class from Washington & Lee University today during lunch at Norah's Cafe on City Market. As always, it was a grand time.

Doug and his wife, Libby, are good friends and I love talking to these young journalists and feeling their enthusiasm.

These kids are starting their own magazine (about local foods) and needed some tips from somebody who's done it. I was glad to tell them what I know (and a little it is).

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Photo of the Day: Eat. Your. Heart. Out

Morels as art, on my deck.
Here are the morels over linguini for dinner tonight.
These are morel (morchella) mushrooms. God eats morels on festival days. They are incredibly good, and cost about $400 a pound dried (online), when an entrepreneur locates them and sells (rather than eating) them. They are hard to find and harder to grow, hence the expense.

My friend Heidi Ketler presented them to me yesterday when I showed up at her little park to take a hike. Said she gathered them there the day before. Yuuuuuuum. The taste is nutty and it is not only wonderful tasting, but it is good for you: great source of minerals and vitamin D. They are scheduled for the pan in Mother Smith's World Famous Kitchen ... tonight.

Eat your heart out. Soon I will eat my morels out.

Quote of the Day: The Courts and Gay Marriage

“That sort of quick change [in the status of gay marriage] has been a characteristic of this debate. But if you [those in favor of gay marriage] prevail here, there will be no more debate. I mean, closing of debate can close minds, and it will have a consequence on how this new institution is accepted. People feel very differently about something if they have a chance to vote on it than if it’s imposed on them by the courts.”

--Chief Justice John Roberts in the NYTimes today (here) on the issue of gay marriage facing the Supreme Court right now. I do not hold forth with Roberts in many instances, but this deserves thought. I am strongly in favor of people being able to marry each other if they wish, but I agree the decision would be much, much more effective if it came without a court order.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Photos: The Glory of the Azalea

I'm not a big azalea guy, but when these babies are at peak, they are unparallelled.
Heidi and I on the walkway.
My old friend Heidi Ketler invited me out to Happy Hollow Garden in Roanoke County this evening to take a look at a glorious sight: azaleas in full flower.

Heidi's house overlooks the gardens, up a very steep grade, but the short hike through the azaleas and up the side of the mountain is simply glorious.

In addition to the hike, Heidi handed me a large zip-lock baggie full of--get this--freshly picked morel mushrooms, the kind people kill for. And she gave me a recipe.

I think I'm in love with Heidi.

My pal Janeson Keeley went up the mountain with me and took these photos.

The sun becomes part of the allure near dusk.
This is a vertical panorama shot.
Heidi and I soaking up the local color.

Monday, April 27, 2015

NYTimes: Investigate Cheney (Yes!!!)

Why is this man smiling?
The New York Times editorial team today is asking that the U.S. Justice Department investigate former Vice President (president of vice?) Dick Cheney for war crimes. I agree fully that it is time to do exactly. The editorial is here.

The Republican Party is constantly threatening to impeach President Obama for, in effect, being a president it doesn't want and it did, indeed, impeach Bill Clinton for fooling around and lying about it. Neither has been mentioned seriously as a murderer or a torturer. Cheney has been.

It's time to take a full-blown look at it through the official judicial channel of the U.S. The U.S. Congress has said Cheney is seriously suspect. The American people pretty well know who he is and what he's done. Obama wants to "look forward, not backward," but, as The Times points out, the two are not mutually exclusive.

Whether or not Cheney is guilty, the issue here is whether the American government is willing to investigate those at the top for crimes against humanity (and we're not talking about screwing interns). Cheney must be investigated and if found guilt, he must be jailed.

As The Times suggests: "Starting a criminal investigation is not about payback; it is about ensuring that this never happens again and regaining the moral credibility to rebuke torture by other governments."

Quote of the Day: A Republican with a Conscience

"The thought of going out and spending 99 percent of your time raising money, which I think is one of the great cancers that is spreading within our political system and injurious for our democracy longer-term, and the way that we've kind of built the primary process is not conducive always to getting a good general election candidate. I love this country, I think our future is bright with prospects. [I] will always be involved, but this cycle, probably involved in a different capacity."

--John Huntsman, Republican governor of Utah and the only guy I know of in the Republican party I would vote for, under certain conditions, for president. He is a man of intelligence and integrity. If he'd bolt that crazy-assed party, I suspect Democrats would like him.

Hey Pampa, What's for Supper? Salsa Verde

Salsa verde: A colorful, spicy addition to most any meal.
The ingredients.
The Mexican husk tomato--or tomatillio--is a base ingredient in a lot of Mexican cuisine and I found a treasure trove of it at Happy's Flea Market this past weekend. There are generally a couple of Hispanic stands there with tasty, fresh Mexican  foods.

The tomatillo is an interesting fruit that looks like a green tomato, but is covered with an onion-like husk (that's a husked tomatillo in the center of the photo at the left) that can be several different shades of brown when it is ripe. The tomato itself can be green, red, yellow or purple, but mostly you'll find it, both commercially and raw, as the green variety. Look for fresh, green husks to determine the quality of the tomatillo. The fruit is sticky when the husk is removed. Don't worry about it. It's a natural state.

When the tomatillo is green, it is tart. When it becomes red or purple, you'll find it to be sweet and in that state, you can make jams and preserves from it. The tomatillo is related to the gooseberry, not the good old American tomato.

However, like the tomato--in any variety--it makes great salsa. I threw some together in about 15 minutes this morning from the tomatillos (about four cups), cilantro, a medium onion, jalapeno pepper (one big one is plenty for me), a large red bell pepper and a whole lime. Tossed the tomatillos and jalapenos into the blender and finely chopped the other ingredients (juiced the lime, of course). It's quick, easy and full-flavored.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Newspaper Reality: The Agony of Layoffs

New York Herald Lineotype room in the old days.
As I stared at the flip chart covered with now-eliminated Post-Its, I realized that the mission of the newspaper would need to change. We couldn’t cover the news the way we had for years. Too many beats were going to go uncovered. And once the word got out to the community that we were cutting 15 percent or so of our news staff, our credibility would be in trouble.

--John Robinson, former Greensboro News & Record editor, now a teacher (entire blog post here)

Former  editor John Robinson has written a riveting account of laying off 17 employees at a Landmark-owned mid-sized daily a few years ago and it has strong application in our market where The Roanoke Times laid off 31 people relatively recently. The Times was owned by Landmark for years, but was bought a couple of years ago by Berkshire-Hathaway, a company becoming known for its ruthlessness in employee relations.

I worked for The Times when it was owned by the Fishburn family and when it was bought by Landmark. The Fishburns had a conscience, a vision and an extraordinary ethical streak, traits I have not seen in owners since.

I knew a lot of the people laid off by The Times and talked to a number of them following the job cuts. They were crushed for all the reasons Robinson lays out in his excellent post. Avoiding the layoffs was not an option because B-H has a habit of taking a lean company and making it leaner--and quality be damned. B-H told Times employees recently that it did not give raises to employees. The only way to increase salaries was to be promoted to the single pay level of the next position. There are people--good people--at The Times who have not seen a raise in eight years, even as costs of things like health insurance increase. That is, in effect, a pay decrease. Meanwhile, from what I understand, profits at B-H are healthy.

Reporters were heroes to me years ago.
A few years ago, The Times prepared to go on the sales block by "streamlining" its staff, meaning severe job cuts. It wanted to look profitable and desirable to potential buyers. It never reached that goal, though B-H finally bought it after it didn't appear anybody else would make an offer.

It's happening to papers all over, so even though there is anger toward management, it is difficult to focus that anger. We are in the center of the process of a dramatically changing news business. That doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. I'm sure that companies making buggies in 1895 were going through pretty much the same thing as automobiles began inching into the economy. Newspapers, frankly, have finished their effective--25 percent profit--runs. It's downhill from here and those who believe otherwise are simply fooling themselves. The good journalists who aren't being fired, are going to work elsewhere (Robinson is one of them).

Some remain in journalism. Most don't. My friend Doug Cumming is still teaching a young generation of journalists in Lexington at Washington & Lee. I will speak to his class Thursday and I have to tell them the truth, as I see it: they can still be journalists--good journalists--but they won't likely find careers in newspapers. They may get jobs, but they'll have to consider those stepping stones to some other journalism outlet, maybe one that hasn't been invented yet.

We're going to have journalists for the foreseeable future (unless the Koch brothers take that, too), but we won't have newspapers. They'll be gone. Sooner than you think.

(Photos: top,; lower:

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Daisy the Farm Truck: Heirloom Tomato Haul

This is Daisy--my VW bug--pretending to be a farm vehicle. Daisy's versatile.
Here is the $10, foot-and-a-half-tall haul of heirloom tomatoes I scored this morning at Happy's Flea Market. Got six tomato plants (several with blossoms) that look truly healthy that are organic and raised to this point in Floyd (that makes them local).

These sold for $2 a plant ($5 for the same plants on City Market), or $5 for three. I got six.

Last year, I bought my heirlooms from the same vendor and--swear to god--at one point in July, one of the German striped pinks had--get this--75 tomatoes on it. And they were damn good. Hoping for a similar yield this year. Some of my overage last year is still in bags in the freezer, ready to be the base for good meals.

Next week: herbs. And these people do great herbs, too.

Earth Day: Talking Among Themselves

Lots of tents, but few customers at Earth Day in Wasena Park.
My pal Getra Hanes tells you where she stands.
It looked like the move from Grandin Village in Roanoke to Wasena Park was going to be a success for Earth Day ... until the rain came back Saturday and washed out a lot of hopes.

The vendors showed up enmasse, but the buying public didn't, which was too bad. I had a pretty good time, actually. Ran into my old pal Getra Hanes, who was lobbying against the various pipelines proposed for this region, something I didn't expect from her. She began her explanation by saying, "I'm no scientist," and then launched into a detailed defense of her position--including a lot of science. I was impressed.

As usual, I ran into a couple of Facebook friends I hadn't known before--including Gayle Clary who was working a booth focused on children reading--and it was a delight. Facebook is truly a revelation.

Earth day is always a good shot. Here's some of what you missed.

Bonny Branch had important information.
The old boy selling these rocks said they were organic.
The band played on, crowd or no crowd.
Lots and lots of tents.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Grandin Film Fest Just Ahead

The first Grandin Film Festival is shaping up to be quite an event, running April 30-May 3 at the Grandin Theatre in Raleigh Court. The Grandin is the last of the old-style neighborhood theaters in Roanoke and generally shows movies other theaters won't: foreign, indy, artsy, as well as some mainline movies to make the budget work.

The festival features a wide array of events, including two workshops, a silent movie by Oscar Micheaux starring Paul Robeson, several movie classics, two that are Virginia centered and a cocktail party on the last evening of the event, May 2.

Five of the 12 events are free and the others range from $5 to $20 (old people like me get in for $8 for some of the $10 general admission movies).

Here's the schedule:

April 30, 1 p.m.: The Art of Watching Films, Matt Marshall of Hollins University. Free.
April 30, 2 p.m.: Shot by Shot, Matt Marshall of Hollins. Free.
April 30, 3 p.m.: The Rear Window (Hitchcock classic). $10.
May 2, 1 p.m.: Battleship Potemkin (almost always on Top 10 all-time great lists). $10.
May 1, 1 p.m.: The Great Dictator (Charlie Chaplain). $10.
May 1, 7 p.m.: Bike Shorts. $12.
May 1, 10 p.m.: Blade Runner (Harrison Ford cult classic). $10.
May 2, 10 a.m.: The Princess Bride (one of my faves). Free.
May 2, 1 p.m.: Virginia Voices. Free.
May 2, 3 p.m.: Moccasin. $10.
May 2, 7 p.m.: Cocktail party, movie Quest for the Holy Grail. $20.
May 3, 1 p.m.: Body and Soul (Oscar Micheaux, the great African-American movie maker with Roanoke roots silent film). $5.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Hotel Roanoke Impact Far More Than Financial

The hotel is a Roanoke icon.
I don't know what it says about me that when I saw the Roanoke-Alleghany Regional Commission's report yesterday of the economic impact of the Hotel Roanoke for the past 20 years, I thought, "Is that all?"

I suspect that says more about the psychological impact of the rejuvenated Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center over the past 20 years than anything financial. The number--$616 million over two decades, $40 million for the hotel alone in 2014--is, of course, impressive. But it is not nearly as impressive as driving up I-581, looking over downtown and seeing the old hotel resting comfortably on its knoll, parking lot full, a beehive of activity.

The Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center is an economic, psychological and social center, not just a money driver. It is the hotel where you put up your guests if you want to impress them and its ballroom is where you want your gala. You take special guests to the Regency Room for its elegance.

When I wanted to impress my mother years ago, we went to the Regency Room, ate chateaubriand for two and she talked about it for years. "That's an awful fancy name for roast beef and potatoes," she said, "but it sure was good. And all those people serving us: my lord. They were so nice." That's the way you want your mama to respond.

The hotel employs nearly 300 people and has upwards of 75 supporting jobs throughout Roanoke's economy, but that does not tell of the impact on the pride of the region. This is a big-city hotel with the atmosphere of a resort. It is the anchor of all that Roanoke aspires to be as a tourist destination, but it is as practical and efficient as a Holiday Inn for business travelers.

My brother, who travels about 200 days a year to coach high-end execs and make keynote speeches at large conferences, stays at some of the best hotels in the world. He was thoroughly impressed when we put him up at the Hotel Roanoke for his guest appearance at the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference a few years ago. "As good as anywhere I've ever stayed," he pronounced.

And its impact on Roanoke is far greater than the money would lead you to believe.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Dinner for One Doesn't Have To Suck

Leftovers have made tonight's dinner a meal.

The salad is composed of lettuce that has nearly run its course, gazpacho I made Friday and artichoke hearts that remain from a stuffed shell dish I put together last week. The chicken has been thawed for two days and I had to cook it. Kept getting pushed out the door for dinner.

The yellow squash and zucchini remain from a veggie dish from early this week and even the sour cream is from a trip to Wendy's (baked potato). The cilantro was purchased at Happy's Saturday. The corn is near its due date.

Together, it's yummy. Especially the grilled chicken.

Flattering? Who Cares: 'It Looks Like Me'

This is my bud Janeson Keeley, looking pensive and well ... you provide your own adjective.

It is not a flattering photo of a woman who can look quite pretty. As a matter of fact, it is an unguarded photo of a woman comfortable with the way she looks and she said, "I'm 55 years old and no, I don't mind the shot. In fact, I kind of like it. It looks like me."

Yes, it does look like her at this moment in this light from this angle. It does not say "supermodel." It says whatever you interpret it to say and I like Janeson's interpretation a lot. It is honest and when we don't mind looking like we look, we always look better.

Today's Riddle: Tell Me About the Windows

This Coca Cola sign is on the second floor of Billy's Ritz (restaurant) in downtown Roanoke. The windows seem to be original equipment, but truth be told: I never really noticed them before sitting outside to eat, right across the street from them.

The question here is this: Which came first the Coke sign or the windows? I don't even know how to begin to guess because if the sign followed the windows and was painted as it, then why? It's not especially artistic and it looks like a "sign interrupted," to use unnecessary quote marks. If the windows followed the sign, then why do they look so old and why didn't the sign dudes sand blast the rest of the sign off?

So many questions of great international import.

Photos: Morning at the Ball Park

This is a panorama of the Salem ball park, in all its pretty colors.
Ballpark beer at 11 a.m. No, thanks.
The Salem Red Sox of the Carolina League scheduled a rare morning game (11 a.m.) today and invited a bunch of kids. My pardners and I decided to brave the young ones and bask in the spring sun--and wind, as it turned out.

The wind was so strong that the threat of a home run, or even a foul ball deep along the firstbase line, where we were stationed, was remote. But the day was glorious: sunshine, warmth and great company.

These guys are almost all writers, mostly sportswriters and they live to tell stories. You can drop in on any conversation between or among them and simply sit down to be entertained. The masters in this crowd were author Roland Lazenby and sportswriter Mike Ashley and they held forth.

Roland was there with a friend of his, Happy Chandler, and I did a double-take on the name. Happy Chandler was governor of Kentucky and commissioner of baseball at one point. But this Happy guy was not that Happy guy; waaaaaay too young. And he is a preacher. Pleasant guy, though.

Here are some photos of what we saw and did this morning/early afternoon.

Roland (black) introduces Linda and Rob Fries to Happy Chandler (right).

Mike Ashley (center, rear) holds forth.
Teachers kept the kids under control (yaaaaaaaay!).
This is what a ballpark should look like (and does in Salem).
Happy, Roland, Mike and moi.

Quote: Irrational Opposition to 'Obamacare'

No, the level of hostility to Obamacare makes very little sense -- unless it's about something beyond the policy particulars. It could be the fact that Democrats finally accomplished something big, for the first time in several decades, thereby expanding the welfare state at a time when conservatives thought they were on their way to shrinking it. Or it could be the idea that, on net, the Affordable Care Act transfers resources away from richer, whiter people to poorer, darker people. Or it could be the fact that "Obamacare" contains the word "Obama," whose legitimacy as president at least some conservatives just can't accept.

-- Jonathan Cohn in HuffingtonPost (here), explaining--or at least trying to explain--Republican opposition to a program that will ultimately cost the states almost nothing, but benefit the poor and hospitals enoromously.

Photo of the Day: The Blue Lagoon

I shot this at Carvins Cove over the weekend, did a little PhotoShopping on the color and came out with something I like. The dancing light in the foreground, I think, makes the photo. (Click once on the photo for the full width and the full effect.)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Photo of the Day: Hey! You Missed a Spot

I shot this photo of a young restaurant worker at Billy's Ritz in downtown Roanoke yesterday while eating lunch outside at the Thai Restaurant (whose name is Thai Restaurant) with one of my buds. We ordered tofu pad Thai and it came without the tofu. We sent it back and it came without the taste, so my lunch buddy Janeson, re-ordered soup. Which was hotter than a flock (or is it a "pride") of habaneros.

Hey Oz! Can I Borrow the Onesie?

Oz hangs out in his jammies. My jammies some day?
OK, so I want these for my birthday. (That would be July 31 for those keeping score.)

It's a onesie just like the one my grandboy Oz had on tonight (it's six hours later in Cordoba, Spain, than it is here) when he was getting ready for bed. It was 80 degrees outside and my guess is Oz didn't sleep in this comfy little dealie.

Amigos Gather; Old Pal Wins Pulitzer

Roland Lazenby (center), Dan Casey (right), moi at Alejandro's.
Had lunch a little while ago with my amigos Roland Lazenby and Dan Casey, a couple of journalistic luminaries whom I admire greatly, and Dan told us that former colleague, Doug Pardue had just won a Pulitzer Prize for his work as part of a reporting team for the Charleston (S.C.) Post & Courier.

I suspected long ago that a Pulitzer was likely in Doug's future, though it has taken quite a while to materialize. He was a real hotshot of a reporter at The Roanoke Times in the 1970s, when most of the young reporters wanted desperately to be Woodstein (and if you don't get the reference, you're too young for this story). Doug actually affected a pretty good Carl Bernstein with the long hair, tight jeans and go-to-hell demeanor. The boy could report.

Doug was one of four reporters on a team that investigated domestic violence for the Charleston paper in a series titled "'Til Death Do Us Part." Doug is the quick response and enterprise editor at the paper and was with USAToday before that (he directed coverage of 9/11, among other things). Doug has won a ton of national awards and while at The Roanoke Times, he was part of a Pulitzer Prize finalist team that covered the Pittston Coal strike.

Doug and I were never friends, but we knew each other and our daughters were good friends in high school. Jennie still calls Chrissie, a truly fine artist, "one of the best friends I've ever had" and they still chat and visit 30 years later. Hard to see Doug as a grandpa (several times over), because he was always so youthful. Happens to us all though, I guess.

Congratulations, Doug. You do us all proud.

(Photo below: Grace Beahm/The Post And Courier; photo above, one of the waiters at Alejandro's.)

Doug hugs Post & Courier Publisher P.J. Browning.

Quote: Lasting Effect of the Civil War

Signing of the surrender by Gen. Lee.
"But there are times, and maybe today is one of those times, when one looks at the great questions of race and rights in the United States and realizes the spirit of the fire-eaters—their rationalization of racism, their contempt for the federal government, their penchant for violence, their self-deluding vision of their place in the world, and their desire to impose their values on the majority—all that, I am afraid, lives on."

--Christopher Dickey in a Salon magazine piece today about why the Civil War was fought (hint: slavery) and its remaining legacy (hint: Tea Party). Story here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Flood Reduction Is Reducing the Flood

Wasena Park's new low-water bridge is covered in water and debris after heavy rain for two days.
Debris is creating a dam at the bridge.
A walk along the Roanoke River Greenway this morning left me with the impression that our government has done something distinctly right:

The Roanoke River Flood Reduction Project of several years ago. What could be a park-drenching flood in Wasena and Smith Parks is simply high water in the Roanoke River. Sure, it sinks the low-water bridges, but they are "low-water bridges." The deep cuts along the river's edge have provided additional places for the water to go and it is not threatening houses along the way.

Good job, council.

Flood watching remains a popular recreation.
The river is to the left of the green strip, overflow to the right.

Gratitude: Not Sure How To Do This

There it sits: The gray infiltration.
Today, I am grateful for:

The ability to make chicken soup from chicken poop.

Of late, I have taken note--quietly, confidentially--of a gray hair or two that has infiltrated my head of naturally brownish-red-highlighted hair, always something of a source of pride. It has been good hair, thick and rich, soft and easy to control.

Today, that all ended. I tilted my head forward and found not a gray hair, but a field of dandelions in a grove of roses. The gray has multiplied, nearly covering the areas I can't see--the top. And I'm not sure if my chicken soup powers will completely work here.

They're telling me that gray hair is the new ... oh, hell, something or other. Which it is not. It remains a sign of age and, of course, I have age in abundance, but I thought that since my mom and dad had not a gray hair between them, and since none of my brothers/sisters (I hate the word "siblings"; sounds like a skin disease) has gray hair--not one among the entire battalion--I thought I might escape. 'Course, Dad died at 50 and Mom had that lush auburn hair, and my brothers/sisters could well get their color from a bottle. Who knows?

Anyhow, the fact is staring me in the face and I have to find gratitude. That may be the hardest thing I do today. It's like asking, "God grant me patience, but give it to me now."

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Good Day for a Frozen Yogurt

I had a good day today and my reward for enjoying it (and the gild to the lilly) was a frozen yogurt from Mickey D's, which--to my everlasting shame--I dearly love. I told the young clerk to give me a large iced tea and "the biggest ice cream in the building." 

The yogurt cones at MacDonald's are anything but uniform. They depend heavily on the skill of the person drawing the yogurt from the machine. This young woman was at least a state champion. Cones run to this size (about eight inches) down to about 2 inches above the cone. I scored today.

Oh, and yeh, I had a bad hair day. Bad hair, good hair: it was a good ice cream day.

Kara and Leah: The Girls Have a Birthday

Leah Weiss cuts her gorgeous birthday cake (son Paul watches).
Pregnant Kara, Maddie 4 years ago.
It was a shared birthday Sunday for my daughter-in-law Kara (left) and my friend Leah Weiss (above), an ocean apart, but celebrated just the same.

I had to settle for FaceTiming Kara this morning from here to Spain to wish her happy birthday, but I drove over to Lynchburg and had brunch with Leah, her son Paul Clements and her singular daughter-in-law Bea at their 18th Century log cabin in Bedford County.

The photo of Kara and my favorite person on earth, Madeline, was taken four years ago while grandson Oz was still a lump. He's a smidge over three now and Maddie is 10.

The brunch was, as it always is at Paul's and Bea's homestead, quite special. We had fruit, eggs, wondrous bacon, a salad fresh from their garden (with edible violets; I didn't know you could eat violets), tea, French press coffee and some sweet crushed peppers I showed up with.

I bought the peppers this morning at Happy's from a Mexican vendor I like a lot. He told me to lightly sprinkle the chili peppers on fruit to spice it up. The peppers are not hot, but they give a special kick to the fruit. I liked it a lot.

Paul's and Bea's 18th Century cabin, shot with my new panorama camera.