Saturday, June 23, 2012

Caja Chada ...

In about one hour, fifty seven minutes and thirty three seconds from this very moment, we will be heading over to lovely Kahnawake to do something very special dear readers. We, are going to build La Caja China pig roast box. That's right. We are going to build it. With our own, hopefully capable, bare hands. And once done, instead of a pig, we will roast a lamb in it. Now, you remember Chad don't you? Well, we are at it again and he is in the driver's seat. He's done all the research, sketched the building plans and so on. And so forth. He's awesome and I can't wait. But before we go, I want to share a little of our most recent communication on the matter (to which he graciously agreed) I think you will enjoy. I almost peed my pants. So without further ado, I give you:

"Howdy Oana, Axel,
We were quite busy the past few weekends, painting the deck, fence, house, planting our herb garden, fixing up our deck, etc etc.
But, I did not forget about the Caja China (or fishing either). While buying deck stain a couple of weeks ago, I picked up a roll of aluminum sheeting (flashing) to line the caja china.
Just yesterday on the way to work, I spied a red pickup with a pile of junk in the back. There was something on the top of the pile with wheels and I thought of the caja, so I followed the truck. It headed down the Malone road in the general direction of our "transfer depot", which is kind of a dump where residents can throw unwanted material into container bins. There are separate bins for construction material, household garbage, non-garbage refuse, etc etc.
The truck took a left onto the river road, almost clinching the theory that they were destined for the depot (sometimes called the "dump").
However, I did not want to look like a scavenger: following the truck right to the depot, wait for them to discard the wheeled thingy, then swoop in and pick it up. So instead, I surreptitously went around by route 132 and approached the depot from the opposite direction. There was a slight rise in the road as I approached the depot, but sure enough, I saw the red roof of the pickup drive into the depot area - BINGO. About 200 meters before the dump, I backed up off the road into some weeds and started surveillance. About 8 minutes later, the truck drove out of the depot and headed back from whence they came. As the truck's dust trail dissappeared around some trees, I started up my truck, and grinning, drove to the depot. Sure enough, there in a container bin was a 3-wheeled stroller. I grabbed it, noticing it was a Schwinn, something like this
but not so sexy. Instead, it was dirty, weathered, and slightly beat-up (looks like it wintered on somebody's porch...), but hey, the wheels looked good.
When throwing it into my truck, I realized the tires were flat. I'm hoping they only need air, 'cause otherwise, they look good (they have an air valve, just like a bicycle tire).
I have aluminum sheeting and wheels (hopefully they're good...I'll fill 'em with air this weekend). Just need wood, some hardware, and some time to put it all together.
We're busy this weekend, so I'm wondering about next Saturday, June 02. You guys want to come over and try our hand at putting it together?
Let me know. We can then plan out another date for fishing and a rough schedule for the backporch lambajamba at your place. 
Oh yeah, I attached "Caja Schwinna.pdf" which shows a map of my little adventure getting the wheels, the stroller itself, and a preliminary sketch of the Caja China (which we may christen "Caja Chada". By the way, my buddy gave me a coca-cola bottle opener that attaches to the wall, like this I said "thats going to be installed on my soon-to-be-built caja china"  -  it should make for an interesting conversation piece when the carcass is cooking in the box!)
One other thing....I was in and out at work yesterday as I'm supervising the installation of the drainage system on the bridge. I was in the office parking lot and the safety officer pulls up. We discussed a few matters then he asks if I was going golfing (which he finds peculiar since I never golf...)
"Ahh no, I'm not going golfing...why?" it seemed like an out-of-the-blue question.
" 'Cause you have a golf cart in the back of your truck..."
So I follow his gaze to my truck. Sure enough, the Schwinn looks kinda like a hand-pulled golf cart on its side. I laugh.
"No, no golf - thats just a stroller I picked up on the side of the road for the wheels."
So, just let us know.
Gumshoe Chazz"

The priceless end.

Oh no, wait, the map...

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The man with the bag of eggs ...

It was muggy on the hill that day. The sun ablaze after an afternoon of river swelling rain. The rolling hills bursting with life. We were heading home from a jeep safari deep in the heart of Matanzas when I saw him. He was small, wrinkled and hunched over. A makeshift cane held up his scraggly, bent body. His eyes were filled with cataracts, his mouth held a few remaining teeth and in his old, tireless hands, he held a bag of eggs. There were about five of them in there. In that plastic bag. He must have gotten them from one of the countless chickens that roam the land. In front of him there was a young man on a bicycle. It was a split second in time. It was as we were driving up and past them that I saw him. I'm not sure why it was him, but it was. This old man with a bag of eggs filled me with such peace, such contentment such a sense of right in the universe. That one little moment in time epitomized one of my deepest human desires. To let go. To be able to practice the fundamental truth that it is out of our hands. To be able to walk up that hill and not give it a second thought. When it is our time, it is our time and we must try to find a way to live in peace until then. There is no struggle. We have no control. 

I was filled with peace that day. A peace that I had not felt in a long time. My core was hollow. My muscles loose. My lungs, open. I wasn't expecting that. 

This old man, I know his life is hard. I know he aches. I know he can't see. 
But he goes on. He doesn't question why. His mind does not plague him. He knows what needs to be done. There is no other way. His neighbors care about him. He knows he can count on someone. With what his worn out eyes allow, he sees life and death all around him, every day. And at the end, he knows it is out of his hands.  He is a part of everything else around him. The vast land, the deep waters of ocean, the palm trees, the mangoes, the cows, chickens, lambs and all the other animals, the rivers that flow around him. At the end, he gets those eggs and he walks up that hill free of fear, free of choice.

Time to dish.

Apple Banana Smoothie, here's to you ...

Here is what you need:

  1. Two or three apple bananas (careful here: not apples & bananas, apple bananas, it's an amazing variety. you can use other mini bananas to substitute if you cannot find them)
  2. Three cups whole (farm if you can find it) milk (you can use nut milk if you prefer)
  3. Freshly ground cinnamon, about a teaspoon
  4. Sugar cane, to taste

Here is what to do:

  1. Fresh sugar cane is amazing. It is absolutely worth seeking out. When you do, get a bunch and crush it in a mortar and pestle until its nice and juicy and then put it in your hands and squeeeeeeze out the sweet nectar. In a blender, mix milk, cinnamon and peeled bananas and whir away. Add sugar cane to taste and drink up. This dear readers, makes an amazing breakfast.

Cheers old man.