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September 29th, 2007

Harvest Moon


Harvest Moon, originally uploaded by gurdonark.

Today I went to our church at 6:50 a.m. to help with the Angel Food Ministries distribution. This project uses a bulk sales model to sell inxpensive groceries to anyone who buys, without needs testing or other condescending "are you really poor?" dialogue. The idea is that the participation of non-affluent and affluent together yields larger bulk orders and hence lower prices. A standard "box" of food costs about 25 dollars and delivers two to three times that value as compared with grocery store prices.

I came for the first part of the project, in which people with brave hearts and true board pick up trucks encumbered with a trailer to pick up the food from a distribution center. I ended up volunteering, though, to do table set up.

I love manual labor. It is perhaps the only labor I am truly good at doing. I leave to the crafty quilting and knitting. I am much better at throwing a box around. Today I feared that table set-up would not flex my muscles sufficiently, but I found lots of active things to do.

At some point in the morning, I found myself manning a green bean station. I stood with some fifty sacks of green beans. Chorus lines of people boxing food trooped by, each obtaining from me one package of the magic beans. From such stuff greenstalks grow.

During the breaks I stood around and sang to myself the Free Form Five song that seems to be my most frequent Youtube play these days. Soon, we were assisting customers with fetching their orders.
Someone would hand me a sticker with the order I would secure the necessary boxes--one regular, one special # 1, two special # 2, and so forth.

I then left for a cinnamon roll. Just after my shower, a client called, ensuring, along with an earlier e mail from someone else, that my Sunday will involve some afternoon effort. Today is still Saturday, though, and we are eating Afghan food tonight, and the moon may well be orange.

tales of the range

Today I got a call from my 11 year old niece, who lives in Arkansas. This Summer she has taken to horse riding with a vengeance. When I was a kid, I rode once in a while, because my late grandfather was kind enough to keep some shetland ponies and an old, large riding horse or two. I am comfortable in the saddle with an easy horse, and also am comfortable while being peeled from the saddle against a tree by said horse or jostled off during a canter designed specially by the average tamed but not vanquished riding horse for the purpose of shedding riders, in the way of amateur horsemanship. I must admit I remember and savor, a bit, the sound of a boy's body thudding to ground after being unhorsed by a horse. But I do not think one could truly call me a rider, and I have not ridden for decades.

My niece has already become rather a rider. I did not chronicle here in elaborate detail her triumphs at the barrel race, although that day also included the delectable tale of being an actual prize-winning "goat roper". But today, my niece entered a form of horse race called an "extreme horse race", which involved riding up and down hill, through a waterfall, and through various other horsey challenges.

She did well enough--in a field of 24 adults and 2 children, she finished fourth. I have a picture of her with her trophy, wearing a cowboy hat and riding boots.

She assured me that fourth place was much better than first--because the first prize was only a belt buckle, and fourth was a trophy 3 feet tall. Perhaps the next time she comes to Texas, we will go riding. Note to self: find an outlet store, to replace discarded cowboy boots.

kadu and pulao

Tonight we met our friends Scott and Donna at Richardson's Afghan Grill. What a lovely place! We arrived at 6 p.m., and had the place nearly to ourselves. The entire state was glued to an athletic contest in which we heard that a group of jayhawkers were decimating a pasture full of longhorn steers (the name of the game, apparently was football). The restaurant was quiet, pleasant, and comfortable.

My appetizer was the kadu bouranee, a sweet pumpkin concoction, served with a bit of yogurt and a few traces of a ground beef meat sauce. The main course was Qibili pulau (note to self--is this a Qibili an acceptable Scrabble word?) . This pulau featured saffron rice under a bed of carrots and raisins, with chicken admixed within--it was wonderful.

Our friends brought me a rather belated birthday gift--an amusing Buffy the Vampire Slayer action figure in the original packaging. I am sure that this will make me an eBay billionaire in the year 2043. I never thought that Sarah Michelle Gellar looked like Faith Ford until I saw this action figure.

Our friend Scott wore seersucker pants, and we talked of the thing of wonder which is a seersucker suit, and laughed when I told my wife to make a note that next Christmas we must gift Scott a panama straw hat. I am not one for this kind of covetousness, but perhaps everything that is wrong with me can be explained in terms of gamma rays and the absence of a seersucker suit.

Now I feel like a restaurant evangelist, wanting to urge all of Texas to try the Afghan Grill and make it bloom and grow like an edelweiss. I live in an odd area, where people love chain restaurants, and can miss out on wonderful alternative choices. It would be a shame if the Afghan Grill does not get the following it richly deserves. I know it earned two loyal new customers tonight.