Salad Days

summer reeks of the collective saying, ‘so there’s that time of year, here again, i don’t want to get all this messed up, my life’.

i don’t fight they’re reasons and suggestions towards the complication of schedules.
I could bother to wonder if it’s the vestige of agriculture meeting modernity, in the vein of elementary school calendars and farmhandedness. I do for a second, I wonder at the extremity of it though.

I hear, ‘there’s vacations, holidays you know, and i don’t know how to hold my life together otherwise.’
this is what i am told, and i’m fine with it.

i want to start another blog that my protestant work ethic can’t read. that my Midwestern productivity committee cant access due to privacy firewall helicopter accountability controls. fruits of labor are still in production. weeds are being weeded. the pepper plant’s flowers haven’t fallen in the night.

all because it’s summer and there’s sun out and the hot makes us all fall down.

for lack of air conditioning. considering that we’d turn it on all but twice a year, if at all.

and to think that the world could burn any second, so we really ought to tempt our skin to burn under the waves and the tepid water of a salt white beach. piles of white to be set out on the table and tossed into salad. oil and vinegar, salad season: that’s supposed to help me feel like i’m taking a break from a lifestyle completely built around taking a break?

at least, at the very least, throw me an avocado and some ranch dressing. only if it doesn’t taste like watered-down mayonnaise and garlic powder. i’m grateful yes, for the advent of croutons in this country. resealable, prepackaged and damn, we’re already feeling ‘special’… probably not going to inflate the profit margins though, to film a TV commercial hawking tiny cubes of hard bread. ‘indulgent’ up to the point that tempts the soul into dragging ass – when you have to create you own salad dressing with the cutting dread of fucking up the ratios.

i made cream of mushroom soup from scratch last night, completely clueless about proportions and ingredients and time. turned into a kickass tuna casserole, the existence of which is both hilarious and practical considering the geographical context. but mixing the correct amounts of white wine vinegar, olive oil and sea salt evokes the most profound and all-consuming anxiety.

i made blue cheese dressing once, because the boy loves that kind of dairy product that can be smelled from the moment the elevator reaches our floor. loves that shit. making it was easier than having to decide how much of a given clear liquid should be poured on to how much of a given raw vegetable.

salads are friggin boring. im so glad i no longer have an eating disorder.

crucial is the balance of parts combined.

maybe it only feels like a disordered season because it’s full of healthy breaks.


As of late, this Biscay Dossier has sat waiting with its ankle bouncing as the ball of the foot touches, no, grips the ground.

The necessity of new posts nearby, nearer than the back of my mind, but deferred. Geroratu. Left for later. Atrasado. Less often than I’d like. The ligaments in the back of the hand cede to the those below the knees, boots on the ground, pouring work into other things.

Compost. That’s the term. The process and the product called for in the composition of soil and word. Procrastination in it’s loveliest form.

There’s plenty of leftovers because I’m a bit desiccated at this point. Shriveling up and crumbling, with the wind I blow away from the hubbub and incessant Basque-ness. I get out to the huerta.

They call these little ladies margaritas.

They call these little ladies margaritas.

La huerta is a word we just don’t seem to have within our disposal in English. Neither a ‘garden’ nor a ‘farm’, and ‘vegetable patch’ just doesn’t ring quite true for me either. Vegetable patch evokes the successful cultivation of carrots (why so difficult?). Vegetable patch, for me at least, evokes plastic dolls that pop out of the heads of cabbage and later must be recalled because they devoured little girls’ blond hair in the 90s and they ought to have been recalled even earlier than that because the damn things came out right around the same time as the movies Chuckie and Gremlins and I never trusted anything that could just pop out of the earth and start talking.

Anyway, la huerta. Not something we have in the States, though ours is to some degree a community garden, because the plot – okay, now there’s a working term, ‘plot’, vegetable plot, or perhaps farm plot because we have rabbits and a nameless resident cat even though neither of those came about by our doing – yes, so the plot is privately owned, mutually or shared among a collection of old village men, or at least they are now old men, having given their permission to a younger old man who just so happens to have the blessing of the powers that be to look both ways for trains and then cross the tracks.

Ura ona, good water.

Ura ona, good water.

In early April I thought, the grass has gone to seed and I ought to have gotten over there to weed a week ago. I hear the voice of my mother saying this to herself, echoing in me too and still, even she didn’t get as particular with the marking of intervals and regard for the exactitude and judgment of tasks timely based upon when weeds would go to seed or any other budding thing.

Things deferred because it’s never really clear when anything ought to begin. They tell you in the books and on the back of seed packets, what to do in one month or another season, as if we all friggin live in the same climate. Then again, nothing really could be more exact than ambiguity. Tomorrow ought to bring rain, and rain could mean waiting again or rain could mean we’ll all be in the shambles of the floods and the coming again; it will have everything to do with Jesus and nothing to do with man-made climate change.

He’s made it back, just last week, reborn from death and decay that evaporated into the sky. The guy of steam and Sun, the Son of God, he says to get going already and bury those red beans and plant the damn cucumbers through holes in the black plastic.

Sharpening the scythe.

Sharpening the scythe.

We share the plot with Txigui, pronounced “chee-wee”: OMG, I know, the name though. Txigui de cojones, as I like to say, ‘got’dam Txigui’ (literally, ‘balls Txigui’: yes, those balls). Goombah, village doof, an idiot in actions; the guy’s in paro, unemployed like so many, and built a rabbit hutch to eat and sell. So, I relent a bit.

Idiocy earned from ample thoughtlessness, a title everybody’s earned at least once. For instance, our only shade tree worth resting under, a loquat (níspero in Spanish) pruned within an inch of it’s death in December, but for a purpose I just discovered last week.

Loquat leaves decay as slowly as pine needles. A pile of loquat branches will hide a construction site’s share of plastic wire casing. Oh yeah, at least 6 garbage bags worth of insulator sheaths, numberless redwhitegreenblueblackandyellow plastic bits all mixed in with the rabbit dung and leaching goodness gracious and who knows what other fun into the food for the soil.

Grilled vegetation

Grilled vegetation

I could care less about that plastic getting into us; I’m a smoker, a drinker and a fan of cellophane wrapped goods with more shelf-life preservatives than actual foodstuff. My concern is for the mitosis of few-celled, the tiniest well-beings who donate their lives’ every calorie and second to unlock the contributions of sun, water and seeds.

I’m also slightly worried we could be legally implicated in Txigui’s dumbassery when he gets caught. The plastic problem in my compost will likely get fixed elsewhere, where the long arm of the law can reach, and I decide that too is best dealt with waiting it out. Before and after the harvest of copper, there’s always plastic. I find shards of a CD from 1990-something and the thin film that seals something like a container of sliced cheese or turkey lunch meat.

Pavo frío. Cold turkey. Cold cuts. Cocidos pero no embutidos. Cooked but not cured, like the jamón of everybody’s dreams. Cured ham, hanging out, waiting for later.

Grapevine shanty

Grapevine shanty

Last week I thought, the heat is coming down from on high, but only for a week at a time. June will have to be full of days where the skin is sheltered from the lowered, beating sky, warmth pulsing through an atmosphere of highest sights not so distant, penetrating and unrelenting. The compost is wet and drying up at a fraction of the speed that I think I have. Compost instructs. In the center of the pile, hot for teacher.

And I felt like a full-fledged adult the other day, taking care of the tilling and cooking soil, this little swath of dirt and turf and it’s well-caught little place in the sun of foreverafternoonlandia, leveling beds of rectangles next to the stream that has slept 10 generations and the stepping stones that need a kick back into place every fourth visit or so.

Yesterday I thought, today is not a garden day. Yesterday could have been if the rain had good and dried up a bit more from the morning, but there wasn’t enough sun in the afternoon to do that barometric deed. No luck, no chance.

Until further noticing.
Delayed until it catches the eye.
Creation put off.

This June, I think now, will be full of the mad hurry that slows me wildly once I get there, once I step foot in the overgrown otherworld and survey the prospects of what really is possible between gulps and chews. That is, what i can reasonably expect to accomplish after and before the need to eat and before and after the bottles emptied of water apt for human sipping.

When weeding and wedding oneself to the wait-til-later works, it looks like leaving plenty a flower for the bugs and the birds to enjoy. I know well enough to merely tinker in the less crucial mechanisms of the Living Machine. Nearly to seed, I’m more than done fighting the weed.


Ongi Etorri

Ongi etorri!

That’s how we say bienvenidos and make yerself at home in these parts.

Today is the day of Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, which I tried to explain in my ESL classes last week about our version of Carnaval; translating it into Martes Gordo and going on about beads and boobs and French fur-trapper settlements, I mostly confused a few folks.

Today is the day that PeteyTxiki (pronounce that second half ‘cheeky,’ meaning wee one) marks his first successful circle around the sun.

And to celebrate such joyous occasions, today is the day that pull the trigger and go public with this cramping pinky finger parade of a blog, Basque-ing in Reflected Glory.

Bear with me as I’m likely to be farting around with design and other bits backstage in the coming days and weeks. Peek at the about pages, leave comments, send me an email ( if so inclined, especially if you want to see a future post on something specific.

– Kindest regards, un saludo, eskerrik asko

C. Rhea


I am casting

memory’s net wide to reveal it, but I once saw

a slip

and a near tumble to the sidewalk

like a cartoonish banana victim. No banana

nor cartoon involved. Open this brochure, awaiting you in a destination most exotic – join me in awe, horror, and, most of all, wonder:

smooth-soled dress shoes,

the timing of limestone + coincidence + humidity,

mathematical inevitability raised to the power of everyday assholery,

and the leftovers of some mutt heaving,

those bulging eyes not shaming the negligent.

Physics and biology. It could have been any of us, looking at our phones.

Initial contact

Dear there, from here, it’s a pleasure.

This would be the message that breaks the seal.

I am a permanent visitor here, a grateful resident, a transplant, a new local. Still, I find all these words, along with ‘expatriate’ and ‘immigrant’ problematic; I am too new to this place to know where I stand for sure. I always will be. I carry Missouri and misery with me; the remedy for which is to Basque in Reflected Glory (BIRGing explained) as much as my conscience will allow. I expect that my sentiments will often spill forth as unrefined and ignorantly privileged, but I’ll do my damnedest.

I am a product of the middle west, the middle class, of middle America. What follows is a dossier (three syllables, rhymes with ‘Ray’) of perspectives and participations in a place that resembles, in grit and grumbling and grace, Middle Earth. At least to mine eyes, and the middle brow sights they’ve seen.