Monday, August 30, 2010

Vandalism at McNeil's Produce- Again.

McNeil's Produce on Highway 100, just west of the northern terminus of the Natchez Trace Parkway, has been vandalized for the second time in 2 years. Two summers ago in a fit of sheer meanness, someone, or someones, burned the McNeil's original wood shed to the ground. The family put up a metal shed then,and put a metal guard fence around it. And this weekend, the Someones came back. They could not burn the shed, so they took paper cups full of red paint and tossed them over the roof, the concrete walkway, and hundreds of dollars worth of produce. All the tomatoes were ruined. I saw the aftermath of this this morning when the hounds and I drove out to buy some squash.

When I saw the McNeil's over-painting , I thought they were just sprucing the shed up. There was red paint dribbled over the ramp into the shed a la Jackson Pollock. "Don't worry. It's dry", Mr McNeil said, and then he told me the story. He'd given the Metro Police a report over the phone. He had a coffee cup the Someones left behind. The police were going to come get it. Maybe there were prints. The McNeil's have ordered three security cameras. Mr McNeil may put up Plexiglas panels to protect the peaches and potatoes. "If they come back when I'm here, I'll shoot them", he said.

This may sound like just a local story, but in your heart you know it is not. Vandalism is as old as human life. Perhaps a suburban mother in a mini-van with toddlers in tow did it. Maybe an elderly man, a retiree in a little red pickup on his way to go fishing- But we all know they didn't. We can guess what age. We can guess what sex. If the Someones are underage, they may get away with it. If caught their records may be sealed. But if they are not, they are felons. And in the age of computers and databases, felony is forever. Once young men with pasts stained by youthful stupidity could go west to a new life. A new leaf. People can mature.

But now these misdeeds, this mindlessness will follow forever. A felon has walked through a door he or she cannot go back through. Forget the professions for your future. You have been guilty of moral turpitude. Forget being a security guard or a fast food store manager. You cannot escape the background check. It is everywhere. If you are the someone who sprayed paint all over the McNeil's shed,and you are caught, you are about to find that you also painted yourself with the Scarlet Letter- "F"- for felon. And you can never wash it off.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

August fruits and flowers

Here are the signs of Autumn Impending-

The pokeweed, royal purple and beloved by bluebirds.
Pears given to me by a woman I work with. The pear tree is in her Kentucky backyard.
I made pear preserves with them yesterday-.

New York Ironweed, my favorite wildflower. More royal purple.

Squash muffins

For years I have made zucchini-Parmesan muffins, and I admit I always used commercial muffin mix. That ended this summer after I used the muffins from scratch recipe I found in Irma Rombauer's "Joy of Cooking", a great cookbook I ignored till this year. I find I turn to this book more and more. (I invite you to make Mrs. Rombauer's basic pancakes, and you will see why). Here is the recipe, with my addition of grated sauteed zucchini and yellow squash and Parmesan cheese.

1 3/4 cup sifted all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon of salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 teaspoons of baking powder

2 eggs

2-4 Tablespoons of melted butter

3/4 cup milk

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 very small zucchini

2 very small yellow squash

Sift the dry ingredients. Set aside. In a skillet, saute the squash, which you have shredded with a hand grater or with the grater blade of a food processor, in either butter or olive oil. Add a touch of sea salt and saute the squash until it is softened and cooked through. Take off the heat and allow to cool a bit.

In a separate bowl from the dry ingredients, beat 2 eggs. Add the melted butter and the
milk. Then combine this mixture with the dry ingredients with what "Mrs Joy" describes as " a few swift strokes". Add the cooked squash and the cup of grated Parmesan and fold in. Fill your greased muffin pan 2/3 full. Bake 20-25 minutes in a pre-heated 400 degree oven.

Try putting apricot jam or guava preserves on these.

Monday, August 16, 2010

One man's weed-

One man's weed- in this case, weeds- are a frugal woman's dried arrangement. When I had credit cards, I bought fresh flowers. Now that I deal in cash, I am a tightwad , and I decorate with dried grasses I find at the park. Here are nutsedge and river oats (also called spangle-grass). The river oats were one of the worst weeds I had in my old garden. I did not know they flowered until this summer. How graceful and delicate they are!

Edwin Warner Park flood damage- A sad commentary.

This is what happens when cities run out of money. I took these photos this morning. The flood was three months ago. Nashville cannot spare the dollars for sand and new swings.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Whither goes thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?".

This is Dean Moriarity, speaking to Sal Paradise, in "On the Road", by Jack Kerouac. It seems late to the party to read this novel for the first time at sixty. I found the 50th Anniversary edition last week at the Bellevue branch of the Nashville library. There it sat, shelved with the Chick Lit, and the cozy English country novels, and the faux Victorian mysteries, and a handful of books about Women, Food , and God.

I am grateful to the library for buying it, especially after reading today that Camden , New Jersey, is going to close its public libraries. It cannot pay for them.
Nashville Metro government has talked about cutting hours at our libraries, but so far they are still open every day except Friday and Sunday.

The Bellevue branch is cramped. I was going to come right out and pronounce it pitiful, but that would be mean-spirited, for the people who work there are earnest and well-meaning. Is it their fault that the shelves are full of large print thrillers,while Edith Wharton is limited to "Ethan Frome"? They do have a huge cookery section. Lots of gardening books. Many biographies. Yet they managed to squeeze in "On the Road", a book I believe is The Great American Novel. I am mesmerized by it. It is the restlessness of this country. The love of its size and space, the faith that down to your last dime there will always be a car of strangers willing to take you as far as Denver , and if you are really lucky- on to San Francisco, where someone's uncle can feed you and put you up. And you will see the country night and day in the company of your strange but wonderful friends. What a book. I plan to buy a copy. I plan to open it randomly. Every day. It will be a guide-post. "Whither goes thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?".

Monday, August 9, 2010


The unspeakable month of July is now over, and though August is proving just as hot, I feel my energy-intellectual and literary - returning. I hope to return to blogging with renewed spirit. Unfortunately I have 6 days to go before my broadband resets itself and I am running out of gigabytes!

The Red Baroness

When I had a garden in the ground, and not in flowerpots as I do now, I planted salvias for the hummingbirds. To put out a feeder would have been carrying coals to Newcastle. But now there is no room to grow salvias, since my sunny spots are for herbs, and my space is so small. I have at last put up a feeder, and it has attracted a feisty and belligerent female hummingbird. She lets no other hummer near her feeder, and drives all others off with her dizzying aerial attacks. She has even bumped a house sparrow, though he was not impressed and not about to abandon the seed feeder.

I plan to leave the feeder up after my little Red Baroness leaves in October, hoping that the Rufous Hummingbird and possibly one of the other 6 species that have wintered in Tennessee might find it.In the meantime I must be content with my pugnacious Ruby-throat.