Archive: » 2021 » December

Deep Frying a Christmas Turkey

I deep fried a turkey for our Christmas dinner, held on Dec. 27, and lived to tell the tale. Luckily, I didn’t watch the many videos of turkey fryer explosions before doing so. A Portland, Oregon television station compiled a stellar array of “Hold my beer” clips showing primarily men (of course) risking death-by-boiling-oil while deep frying a turkey. There were videos of clueless alpha males in shorts and flip flops deep frying a turkey inside a garage next to a wall; trying to extinguish a cooking-oil fire with a water hose; or cramming a 15-pound turkey into a too-small pot. In one video,...

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Planting Trees I’ll Never Climb

It's coming on Christmas They're cutting down trees They're putting up reindeer And singing songs of joy and peace — “River,” by Joni Mitchell |———|  Several mature water oak trees dot the front pasture, which is about three acres of Bahia grass leading to the highway. We set up some outdoor furniture beneath one of the trees. It is my favorite place to read when the weather is nice. Sometimes I nod off on a Sunday afternoon, lulled by the breeze whispering through the branches, the distant sound of traffic. I never sleep for long, maybe 15 minutes, then return to whatever book...

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A True Artist At Work

A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist. — Louis Nizer By the adage above, written by an acclaimed attorney and author (he successfully represented humorist John Henry Faulk in his libel case against a far-right anti-Communist group), Marcos Nuñez is an artist. His medium is tile and wood. As I write this, he and his wife, Sonja, are installing ceramic tile in all three of the bedrooms in our new place out in the country. They have already ripped the carpet...

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Another Walk in the Woods

After spending hours transcribing 1840-era newspaper articles, it was time to quit typing and take a walk in the woods. A cold front had pushed through the previous evening, with a scattering of rain — a rare commodity these days. It was windy and clear, cool enough to walk comfortably wearing a sweatshirt, jeans and boots. I learned early on that wearing boots while walking our woods is safer and more comfortable than sneakers. The wind was stripping the oaks and sweetgums of the scattering of leaves that had clung to their branches. The little cedar saplings — nature’s Christmas trees...

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Back In The 1840s Again

AUSTIN — I am taking another deep dive into the 1840s, inside the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library, a handsome structure located on the east side of the Capitol grounds. I was last here in late March, perusing through printed copies of the San Augustine Red-Lander for a book project. I had planned to return much sooner, but life intervened — selling one house, buying another, tackling the task of taming 57 acres of mainly timber but still with plenty to mow. The grass is at last fallow, so I booked my usual hotel by Lady Bird Lake and planned with the good folks in the archives...

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