Card-carrying Proles

Today we joined the ranks of those armies of people who ride around in mindless circles all season.  We bought our first rider mower.  It’s official: we’re rednecks.

It’s a big scary investment for us, just after buying a house, but it’s necessary with this vast lawn we found ourselves on.  Our goal is to mow it in ever-shrinking sections, and replace pointless turf with native plants and trees, but that will be a while.  Our work is cut out.  Keeps us off the streets.

Meanwhile, grass grows, flowers bloom, birds fledge, and life goes on.  At least we hope to leave our little corner of the world better and more sustainable than we found it.

Middle East and Asia In Knoxville

Today was a good day.  We got to meet my son for lunch at one of our #1 destinations in Knoxville, Yassin’s Falafel House, the new second location.

Yassin’s family fled Syria as refugees, relocated to Knoxville with virtually nothing, and started a Middle Eastern restaurant that has been enthusiastically embraced by his new home.  It’s become a sort of Mecca for people and orgs who work for inclusiveness and progress in an otherwise conservative state.  In turn, Yassin has returned the favor and reached out to the community who adopted him.  It’s a real American success story and says a lot about the welcoming attitude of Knoxville.  We were happy to do our little part to support his work, and just to be there together.  Here’s the famous sign:

After that, Avdi showed us an Asian/international market, and an Indian grocery, both of which were awesome.  I finally found items that have been on my list for ages.  These are only two of many such diverse cultural markets and restaurants in this area.  There is a growing population of Asians (Vietnamese, etc.), Middle Easterners, Hispanics, and many others here, with thriving businesses, which is a good sign.  And Knoxville for the most part has gone out of its way to welcome and support them.

All in all, Knoxville was a good choice.  We welcome whatever time we get to spend here with my family.




Matzo balls, that is.  Also from scratch, in homemade chicken-vegetable soup, my version.

Traditional seders of yore always started with a giant cauldron of Mom’s chicken soup and large, substantial cannonballs, plus the obligatory HB eggs and gefilte fish, misc. symbolic seder foods, then the main uber-course, including multiple meats, kugels, etc., not to mention those horrible Pesach desserts, add sacred syrup and “real” wines, and by the time you forced down some token afikomen, you felt like a quivering mass of hardening cement.  Forget about “the after-meal entertainment”.

Then you turned around and did it again the second night, only with new additions.  Fond memories of family  pressure to overindulge, probably compulsive compensation for all the millennia of fear of going without.

As a kid it always bothered me that we could be so pampered and spoiled, while so many people just a town or two away were poor and even homeless, just by being born into unfair disadvantages.  But I was the black sheep, what did I know?

These days I have to keep it simple and cost-effective, and appreciate every little thing we are able to enjoy.  I live with someone who never had a lot to begin with, so she doesn’t take anything for granted.  It’s a new world of actual food, for her, a revelation.  It’s like an education for both of us, coming from opposite sides of the same coin.  Thus, a hearty bowl or two of homemade matzo ball soup is a feast.

Moral: when life gives you mud and mortar, make–balls!


WordPress says I have 1,000 posts as of now, FWIW.  I talk a lot.

Today I made homemade from scratch potato latkes and roasted eggplant with homegrown herbs, as in herbs, not weed, dopeheads.  Charoset and yogurt make good subs for applesauce and sour cream with the latkes, which I seasoned Indian-style.

Strange things make me happy, like finally being able to compost everything, and have all the scavenger birds and critters instantly take care of it.  They make a great sanitation department.  No bears yet.

Also, the wren nest in my office window appears to have little hatchlings.  I think I saw a little gaping mouth being fed.  And all my flowers and veggie seedlings are coming up on steroids.  It’s call of the wild, out here.

And of course, I’m still hopped up like a double IPA from getting to hang out with my son and Gkids.  I’m not sure how much help I am, getting them even more hyper for their Dad, but that is the job of grandparents.  Git’er done.  Heheh.


Ecumaniacal Passeaster

Yes, you read right.  Here’s my Jewish take on Easter.  I cleverly dyed the two eggs with natural edible ingredients found in the kitchen.  I’m not sure I’d describe the finished product as digestible, but the colors came out cool.  And here are all our festive fuzzy friends getting in on the act.  Somehow the rabbits keep breeding.  Seriously, we did not drink all the “sacred syrup”  ©™.


Erev Pesach Cheers

The Passover seder reminds us that we were poor slaves escaping Egypt for an extended refugee camp existence in the wilderness.  We had a slave mentality and crap to be purged of before we could handle freedom and responsibility.  The Haggadah also tells us to open our homes and hospitality to others less fortunate, as we once were ourselves.  I think we’re all still working on those values.

Being human, people I love are grappling with basic survival in a hostile world.  It’s hard to rejoice when I know someone close to me is wrestling with impossible odds, and I’m not sure how to help.  All I know to do is be here and care.  There is no carefree when someone else is struggling.

But still, it’s erev Pesach, and we’re making a stab at it in our humble new TN home, keeping it simple and basic.  However, my charoset remains the best (and drunkest).  Some things can’t be compromised.


Well, it’s that time of year when my charoset is THE BEST.  Or at least the drunkest.  Don’t even try to compete.  Give it up.  Surrender to the truth.

Other than that, our first Pesach in TN will be underwhelming.  If Jewish people and food were endangered in Ohio, they’re evidently extinct in this neck of the woods.  So being the resourceful faker that I am, it will be mostly symbolic nods this year.  Seder plate fixin’s are covered (or faked), at any rate, and I have the requisite so-called booze to make up for any food lapses.  There’s no shortage of flowers out there, at least!

Today I sowed the first veggie seeds direct to our new garden–snow peas, pak choy, and red onions.  The rest will have to wait until the supposed frost-free date in April.  A redneck neighbor helpfully informed me that herds of rabbits, deer, ‘coons, and other varmints will undoubtedly devour any veggies I grow.  I just smiled.  Hey, they gotta eat, too.  I’m that pet-deprived.


Women at Work

More accurately, one woman (not me) was hard at work building and replacing an entire set of shed doors from scratch, including fixtures, locks, an outdoor light, the whole works, while the other “supervised” (i.e. occasionally held things and drank beer.)  It was a lot of work, but E did a beautiful, professional job.  It’s good someone around here knows how to do stuff.

Somehow I found time to take yet more flower photos.  The yard is covered with them.