Archive for the that's a tasty beverage Category

Peaches and Screams

Posted in that's a tasty beverage with tags , , on October 11, 2010 by samsondoggie

The story currently goes like this:

I was 10, and back then, there was no interstate-40 to take you to the beach. So instead, people went down 70 and then over on 52 and down on 10. They were two-lane roads and everyone went 60, 65, just going through to get to wherever they were really going. Except we would sometimes stop at those roadside stands. Usually for peaches, or else for tomatoes. I love those stands off the road, in the country. I can just imagine it, the way that the peach juice would trickle out of my mouth. And my dad always said that peach juice tastes better when you are eating them in a car.

We were at one of those road-side stands and we were going to get some peaches to eat when we got to Carolina Beach. We would have eaten some right away, of course, but then we would save some for breakfast on the porch. There were ten of us in the station wagon.We got out of the car but then everyone was just standing around. I didn’t understand why we weren’t crossing.

I don’t know, maybe it was just the chaos of the moment. I swear that I looked to my left, and then to my right, and then back to the left. Except that I guess I didn’t look to see over Tapi’s shoulder. Because, you know, he was so much taller than me. Especially at that age, I was such a shrimp. Susie and dSusie, both so short. That’s what we were. Continue reading


Family Ties

Posted in that's a tasty beverage on June 11, 2010 by samsondoggie

I love to be there when my kids have a big day. I love when my kids do things that evoke memories of my own life.  I am reminded, regularly, of how our lives are evolving in circles. Maybe the reason that I want to spend so much time remembering my kids’ lives is because it heightens whatever memory I have left of childhood. I hope that those feelings are not slipping away. I know that I will never remember elementary school so readily, though.

Today is John’s last day of school. He has had such a good year at E.K. Powe. Mr. Dodyk made John work. He made him stay on task. He managed to differentiate, even if it meant no reading groups after April 1st for John and lots of time at centers. The private Montessori school did not work out, but the resource-challenged urban public school did.

Mr. Dodyk's 1st Grade class. E.K. Powe Elementary. June 2010.

E.K. Powe emphasized reading, and to a lesser extent the school wanted to spend time on math. John’s homework included a mandate that he spend read out loud to us for twenty minutes, four nights a week. I feel like I have watched him learn to use books as tools. I see him picking out books for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes, it is favorite author. Sometimes, it is because he has an appetite for a subject. Sometimes, he seems to be trying to read about something that he is scared about or that makes him worried. I can’t Continue reading

What He Said

Posted in that's a tasty beverage on June 7, 2010 by samsondoggie


I turn the corner onto Crosby Road, intending to get to the bottom of things.  My tenant’s blue Ford Windstar van is parked out front. There are some toys under the car port. Otherwise, there’s no sign of activity.

Next door, a blue Honda Civic is parked under the carport, so I head over for a chat. Ren, a 20-ish blond woman answers.  She has her huge dog, Layla, so she subdues him before she opens the door. Although I’ve spoken with her husband several times, we have never met.  Still, she seems to know who I am.  She does not invite me in. She comes out on the concrete porch.

I try to convey the situation. Charles says there has been some crime. The police don’t have a record of it. I just want to get down to the bottom of it.

“Well,” she says, “we’re moving next week. It’s not worth it. I like this neighborhood, too. There were gunshots last night, someone fired into there last month, and that kid shot up the gas station, too.”

I know the kid. He’s from the house across the street. He lives at a white house owned by his grandfather. Don Continue reading

Swimming Lesson

Posted in that's a tasty beverage with tags , on May 27, 2010 by samsondoggie

I see John pull his cold body out of the water on the far side of the Duke Faculty Club pool. He is not supposed to do that. He is supposed to do another length of paddle kicking and then get ready for freestyle. Instead, he is curled into a fetal position, dripping onto the cement.

So it is with some reluctance that I put down my copy of Cold Spring Harbor. My intent is simple. I want to get him back in the pool. Easier said than done, I think to myself as I navigate through a field of spinning toddlers. The mommies are on cell phones. I am in the middle of a crowd of people that are completely blind to my presence.

“John, tell me what,” and here is where I stumble, because I want to approach him with some gentleness, “you are feeling.”

John is still. His eyes are focused straight ahead, at the surface of the pool’s edge.  His forehead is less than three inches above the cement. I am not making it up. There really is a light blue cast to his skin.

“I don’t like swimming team.

He sounds like he could cry. John never cries. I think he has cried three times since I have known him. The other day, he sprained his foot. No tears.

Continue reading

That’s Racin’

Posted in that's a tasty beverage with tags , , on September 13, 2009 by samsondoggie

Sometimes you need to leave your Prius in the parking lot at Whole Foods and take your family racing.

“Hurry up,” I said, “the start is going to happen, and they’re going to do it without us.” I hoist  John up on my shoulders.   It is already dark, but I can see cars moving on the track, just beyond the shadow set off by the stands at Ace Speedway, in  Altamahaw, North Carolina.  I doubt that impatience is going to help.  I pay for our four tickets (all for $18!) and navigate through the opening.  I high step up the risers.  We get a seat behind the starter. Our feet rest on the seats one row below, and our arms rest upon the aisle one row up. Down to our left, a heavy-set woman stares at us.  She is here with her daughter.  The cars breeze by left to right.  It carries the smoke from her cigarette over our way.

Tonight, we are not apartment managers, meat processors, or research directors.  We are race fans.  The sign says “Welcome.” We are hear to smell oil, to see them go three-wide, to Continue reading

Royal Deal

Posted in that's a tasty beverage with tags , on July 20, 2009 by samsondoggie

(AP) Kansas City, MO. ALL EDITIONS. SP-MO141

The Royals traded two young stars and Relish, the third of their three Heinz condiment mascots, in a sign and trade deal on Tuesday afternoon.

“We had some signability concerns with Relish,” said Dayton Moore. “And, oh yeah, Soria and Butler, we’re gonna miss them, too. The Pirates wanted a throw-in, and we had a few. The details just worked themselves out from there.”

In return, the Royals are going to get the future stream of payments generated by baseball’s revenue-sharing agreement that were destined for the Pirates. The Royals will get payouts for the next five years, ending in 2014. The value of the payments could reach as much as $150 million. In 2006, the Pirates received $25 million.

They also get a player to be named later. Rumors are that it will be Randall Simon. If so, manager Trey Hillman already knows that he’ll fit in, filling a spot at first base for the Royals.

David Glass was not in his stadium suite on Tuesday, but was reached by telephone.

“Oh, yeah,” he said, “we’re on the five-year plan now!”

Speaking from the Flora-bama, Glass reiterated that there were plenty of good ways for the owner of a major league sports franchise to spend an extra $25 million.

With regard to Butler and Soria, Glass acknowledged that some fans might be unhappy.

“There’s bound to be some people who get emotional about some players,” said Glass. “But its just like it was in ’01 with Dye and Beltran, where we were just one or two more players away…from getting enough fan support to lose our gold mine.”

The Royals already hinted at big plans for the extra revenue. Moore intimated that the agreement would give the Royals room to sign more than a few current Royals to longer contracts.

“Betancourt and Crisp, for sure,” he said. They’ve got options and I knew when we traded for them that we’d need to be creative. Now we can lock up some players for a long time. Players, might I add, who know how to be aggressive at the plate.”

“This is great,” said Hillman. “We’ve already got a hot dog in right field. I think we all know, though, that we’ve been playing without relish on the field for a long time. Why do we need him in the stands?”

The transaction will have to be approved by the commissioner’s office. Commissioner Selig is yet to make a public pronouncement. However, unnamed sources indicate that he is fine with the Royals having a double stream of payments, provided that they do not use the money to sign any players above slot.

Relish is second to Mustard with 21 first place finishes this year.

Organic! Cooperative!

Posted in that's a tasty beverage with tags , , , on June 14, 2009 by samsondoggie

I wanted to learn Spanish.  I had already toiled through five semesters of graduate school and one-and-one half years of internships.  With fluency in Spanish, I figured, I would likely be able to get a newspaper job.

So, I went to Guatemala and enrolled at Ulew Tinimit School of Language.  Ulew Tinimit was not like those trendy Central American language schools that took masses of expats: It was on a higher plane.  It had a higher pedigree than regular tourism.  It supported real families.  Part of $70 went for 14 meals and a place to stay in the home of a Guatemalan family. I wanted that.  I wanted to be a part of someting socially concerned, even it this was only a concern expressed through consumption. Maybe that made me an easy mark.

It was a good life. We spent five hours talking with  underfed Guatemalan philosophy students.  We spent our afternoons playing.  We visited monasteries.  We hiked up mountains to visit honey-making collectives.  We played soccer in empty lots on the outskirts of Quetzaltenango.  We went on a visit to the Ruins nearby.

Although we were from all over the world, we had a lot in common. We had all kinds of degrees.  We liked Tom Robbins and Edward Abbey. We could afford to be poor. We could barter for two quetzals off on our indigenous friendship bracelets, and then we could store them inside our Lowe compression backpacks.

On this particular Tuesday, nothing much was happening. I wanted to sit there with Roberto, on the second floor of the English school in Guatemala.  I wanted to call him “buen guia” a few more times.

My friend Peter fanned a well-worn copy of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” against his orange frizzy hair.  A fan slapped the dry, hot air against the walls of the concrete office.

That was when I heard a person knocking on the metal door downstairs.  Roberto looked up. He was annoyed, but he jumped down the stairs.

“My name is Eduardo,” he said. “I understand that this is a language school,” he went on.

“Yes, that is true,” said Roberto, as he opened the creaking metal door.

Eduardo was a stocky man. His jeans were tucked underneath knee-high black boots, the kind for wading through deep water.  He held his palms out, his fingertips pointed back at his square jaw, as if to hold out for patience.

“I understand that your students are very aware of many things,” he said.

Roberto looked over his shoulder at Peter and me.  He raised his eyebrows and pursed his lips. “Oh, yeah, those guys.”

“Let me explain,” Roberto said, “I have a co-operative organic farm. I have applied for a micro-loan to buy seeds for this spring, but in the meantime, I must prepare my fields.”

He paused.

“I need,” he paused. He took a breath and looked toward the frame of the door.  “I need technical assistance.”

Roberto smiled.  “Yes,” he said, “we do have students who need to help on those kinds of things.”

Peter and I stood up. What a buen guia! Eduardo had answered our prayers. A real organic cooperative! Run by real indigenous workers! Pursuing sustainable agriculture!  It was the holy grail of socially concerned voluntarism.  .

– –

Our optimism was not to be tempered. We stood in the bed of Eduardo’s truck as he drove us to our future . We pulled off on the side of the road near a break in the forest. I nodded at Peter.  “Clearcutting, eh?”

“Yep,” he said, “and probably some burning, too. Just like in the Amazon.”

Eduardo got out of the truck and unlocked the gate. “We’re here,” he said.

It was odd, but there were no crops here. Just a barren slope that rose about 500 yards, then crested and fell out of view.  Although Guatemala’s many volcanoes have produced plenty of rich soil, none of it remained on Eduardo’s steep, treeless hill.  All of the topsoil had run off.

He gave me a hoe. I picked a spot about twenty feet up the hill. I lifted the hoe above my shoulders, re-centered my weight on my bent knees, and propeled it to the ground.  The hoe kicked back.  The ash handle stung my soft language school fingers.  A corner of the crust was broken where the clay had yielded a small divot to my hoe’s strike. It was the “most ungrateful of all soils.”

Eduardo’s eyes appeared to twinkle. “Someday,” he said, “this will be a wonderful cooperative.”

Eduardo left to take care of some business. I guess he trusted us with his clay.  The sun was silent and harsh.  We had no water. We had no sunscreen.  Peter and I got home a bit after 6. I skipped dinner and fell asleep at 6:15.

It was the same the next day, and the following day, too. We had broken three long rows – about six hundred linear yards of terraced field. The clay gave way to rock.  Eduardo came and went. He gave us a wheel barrow on Friday.

– –

The next week, Peter and I stuck around school. It was not long before we returned to bantering with Roberto. It was not much longer before Roberto got annoyed.

Roberto looked up from his dial-up connection.

“I would like to tell you,” said Roberto, “about a group of Mayan women who are building a community-supported grain mill..”

%d bloggers like this: