Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

My Photo
Name:
Location: Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, United States

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Last call for foodie posts

There's only one day left ...

So far, I've had a grand total of ... uh ... zero entries in the current writing challenge. With only 24 hours to go, that's not exactly a great turnout.

To recap, the challenge was to write a blog post in response to an essay prompt that I used in my essay writing class this term. The students had chosen an unusual topic, cuisine, instead of the oft-used contemporary social or political issues. So I thought I'd open it out to my readers and see what you could come up with. Unless you're actually enrolled in a college-prep essay writing course, you don't need to constrain yourself to what you might consider to be an essay (although I actually have a pretty broad definition); instead, write in response to the prompt in whatever way you feel moved.

So, write a blog post and put a link to it in the comments here, or if you don't have a blog, send your entry in email to byrnes.carol.anne (at) gmail.com and I'll post it here. Deadline is midnight (in whatever time zone you're in) March 31.

Essay 4 (in-class)

Choose one of the following topics and write an essay that meets the English 0950 course objectives (clear main idea, good support, consideration for an educated reader, organization, reasonably correct mechanics):

· What is your favorite cuisine? Give details to explain why.

· Define “American cuisine.” What sets American cuisine apart from others?

· How does the enjoyment of food bring people together? Give examples from your own experience and/or from materials you have read.

· Red or green? Explain.

· Write a review of your favorite restaurant. Use details and examples to show the reader why he or she should eat there.

· In what way does the cuisine of a country or region reflect its culture? Show the connection using specific details.

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Woo-hoo, new shoes!

The time of financial austerity is over ...

For the past few years, Pat and I have been operating on an austerity budget. Part of that program has meant that I haven't had much in the way of new clothes for a very long time -- we've been shopping at thrift stores for most clothes. But now, at long last, I have the first pair of actual new shoes that I have had in about five years. And they're magnificent: delightful little black numbers that fit my feet like gloves, but with just enough extra stretch that in really cold conditions I can wear a pair of wool socks underneath.

Especially over on Facebook, many friends, including old high-school classmates, have reveled in their shoes -- how many they have, the special virtues of each pair, the stylishness, the excitement of finding just the right pair. Now, I can join them.

Meanwhile, it's not just my feet but also my boat, Black Magic, that is enjoying the end of austerity. We came down to Elephant Butte Friday with the hope of sailing with Zorro as well as working on boats. As it turned out, it was too windy to sail. First, I helped Zorro with patching some cracks in Constellation's deck and re-rigging the outhaul, which had been fouling far too often. Then Pat joined Zorro and me at the mast-up storage lot where Black Magic is, and we replaced a lot of the rigging: backstay control, mainsheet, jib sheet, traveler (including some blocks and other hardware), jib tack, mast block shock cords, and tiller tamer. Zorro also mixed up some epoxy filler, which he used to patch up some gouges in the keel as well as some dents in the deck.

Saturday, we had hoped that at least in the morning, we could get in some sailing; the weather forecasts predicted a breezy morning and a windy afternoon. But it was blustery from the get-go, much too windy for sailing. Zorro did some work on Constellation while Pat and I paid a visit to our favorite used-book store in the universe, Black Cat Books in Truth or Consequences. Gerald has a rule of thumb that a used-book store is not a proper used-book store unless there is a cat on the premises. I think I agree. Pat and I ended up getting a wide range of books, including a German grammar book, a collection of essays about what it means to be human in a technological environment, and a James Patterson (plus one of his more trustworthy co-authors, Maxine Paetro) thriller.

After that, Pat and I stopped by the hardware store to look for bolts to use when replacing the old cam cleats on the boat. In stainless steel, the longest bolts the store had were two inches, so we bought only four, two flathead and two pan-head, with the idea that whichever fit best, we could come back and buy more, and if neither fit, we weren't out much money.

Then Pat and I returned to Black Magic, where Pat set about working on replacing the old cam cleats on the console with the new ones that we had ordered. The old cleats were ancient and decaying even when we first got the boat, but we had never had time or money to replace them all -- when one of them failed, we put a new one in, and we kept saying that we needed to get them all replaced. It took Pat 20 minutes to remove just one cleat. We discovered that flathead bolts were the best for the new cam cleats, but two inches was too short -- we needed three-inch bolts.

Meanwhile, Zorro had done some more work on Constellation but had learned that the Sunday weather forecast was for even more wind, far too much to go sailing, so he decided to put his boat away and head back to El Paso. He stopped by Black Magic before heading south, and he and Pat worked on the shrouds -- we're looking at replacing turnbuckles at the very least and possibly at replacing the shrouds completely. We made plans to do more boat restoration next weekend, including new bottom paint at least on the parts of the keel that got patched. In the meantime, we can get the three-inch bolts and a few other bits of hardware we need. Top of the agenda for next weekend is completely redoing the outhaul on Black Magic so we can depower more effectively in a gust. There have been a lot of those lately.

Zorro is super-eager about all of these repairs and refurbishments, because he really, really wants to see Black Magic racing next weekend. And I do have to admit, I'm excited about seeing my boat finally getting back into a condition where she can sail well. But I'm feeling ambiguous about actually racing. I'm not sure I want to support the RGSC's current leadership -- the current commodore who, when he was vice commodore, tried to call meetings of the board even though the club constitution doesn't give him that power, and on shorter notice than even those who have the power are permitted to do; Zorro's replacement as race committee chairman to whom I gave the blog nickname "Space Invader" because of his creepy behavior toward me even before I learned of the New Mexico court records about him and the many restraining orders women have taken out against him; the club management that failed to notify one of our favorite restaurant owners that the sailing club was planning to hold a skippers' meeting in the restaurant's back room and thereby royally pissed off the restaurant owner ... I don't know that I want to race and thereby seem to support the current club leadership.

I think I'd rather just go sailing. And wear my new shoes.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, March 14, 2011

A new writing project

Imagine you're a student in my class ...


OK, I've been accused of trying to turn this into a food blog. It does seem lately that I've been digressing into food-related matters. Well, here's another digression -- and everybody is invited to go foodie.

The origin of this writing project is an assignment in my Essay Writing class. During the term, the students write two in-class essays as a way of learning how to take essay exams -- preparation, time management, and those sorts of skills. The students are given readings on the essay topics and discuss them in class ahead of time, and then on the day of the in-class essay, they have the whole two-hour class period to write the essay in the form of an open-book, open-note exam.

Because I believe students write better when the topic is something they care about, I let them choose the in-class essay topics each term. Usually, the topics are fairly standard issues: DWI, the death penalty, same-sex marriage, and the like. This term, however, the students chose two unusual topics: Egypt and cuisine.

Egypt is a challenging topic because it's such a rapidly moving target. One of the students has proven to be a great resource in class discussions -- her husband is Egyptian and they lived there for seven years. With the insights she provided, the students had really good background to write their essays.

And then there's cuisine. There are all sorts of directions a writer could go with that one. The readings I gave the students included an article about the revival of home cooking and a very, very scholarly treatise from the James Beard Institute.

By the time I got done writing the essay prompt, I realized I had some interesting questions that might be fun for more than just my class. So I'm opening it out to my readers in the form of a writing challenge. Pick one of the topics in the essay prompt below and write a blog post about it. Unless you're actually enrolled in a college-prep composition course, you don't need to restrict yourself to the conditions of an essay exam; just write what you want to write about the topic. Once you have written your post, put a link to it in the comments here. Or if you don't have a blog, email your entry to byrnes.carol.anne (at) gmail.com and I will post it here for you. Deadline for entries is March 31.

Essay 4 (in-class)

Choose one of the following topics and write an essay that meets the English 0950 course objectives (clear main idea, good support, consideration for an educated reader, organization, reasonably correct mechanics):

· What is your favorite cuisine? Give details to explain why.

· Define “American cuisine.” What sets American cuisine apart from others?

· How does the enjoyment of food bring people together? Give examples from your own experience and/or from materials you have read.

· Red or green? Explain.

· Write a review of your favorite restaurant. Use details and examples to show the reader why he or she should eat there.

· In what way does the cuisine of a country or region reflect its culture? Show the connection using specific details.


Labels: , , , , , , ,

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Saturday sailing at the Butte

It's been a long time ...

At long last, I got in my first sail of the year. Pat had managed to sneak off to the lake a couple of times to go sailing with Zorro, but often it was mid-week, which meant I had to work. The one previous time I had gotten to the lake, the wind was just too fierce -- if the temperature had been warmer, it might have been good exciting sailing, but that day was just too cold.

Saturday, however, was much less windy. In fact, when we got to the lake, there was barely any wind at all. We joined Zorro and set sail on Constellation, hoping that perhaps some wind would fill in.

We had been drifting for about an hour when the wind did, finally, show up. It wasn't much, maxing out at probably 7 or 8 knots, but that's enough to make an Etchells go. Zorro had his handheld GPS, and we got up to 6.2 knots upwind and even faster downwind with the spinnaker up.

Pat was in charge of the spinnaker. He kept the trim up, and he's getting good at gybing the pole smoothly; that's something he and Zorro apparently practiced a lot the last time they were out.

Overall, it was a good couple of hours on the water.

We sailed until near sunset.

There weren't many other boats out. One friend had gone out earlier but gave up on waiting for wind and came in (his wife had chores for him to do anyway). Another came out late in the day. You can tell he's from Michigan; he was sailing in shirt sleeves!

Maybe, in between things like taking care of Pat's dad's estate and working on repairs (both boat and house) and various other tasks, we will have more time to sail this year.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

A foodie dream

It's a good thing that in dreams one never gets full ...

I had a dream, in which my high school classmates were celebrating a reunion. Yeah, you know this is going to be fun with the classmates I have!

The high point of the reunion was a progressive dinner in the finer restaurants in old Santa Fe -- apparently the planners of the reunion couldn't decide on one, so they picked four: one for appetizers, one for soup and salad, one for the main course, and one for dessert. So we were a couple of hundred people traipsing around the narrow streets from one gourmet haven to another.

The appetizer course was a buffet with lots of tasty tidbits, mostly seafood-themed.

The soup-and-salad course featured French onion soup, with gobs of gooey cheese on top.

The main course was cabrito, slow-simmered birria-style, with spicy seasonings.

Dessert was another buffet, with plenty of yummy bites of this and that, some sweet, some tangy, some chocolaty, some creamy, some crunchy, some chewy, but -- ooh-la-la! -- one dish stole the show: mascarpone and raspberry filled ravioli with white chocolate sauce. Now, I've never heard of a restaurant here in New Mexico (or anywhere else either, for that matter) serving mascarpone and raspberry filled ravioli with white chocolate sauce, but it does sound like something the trendy, upscale restaurants in old Santa Fe would come up with.

When I woke up, the big toe joint on my right foot was aching, as if I actually had been on a walking tour of Santa Fe (or the way it aches when the weather is about to change), and I was drooling.

(And, no, these aren't actual pictures of the food I dreamed, just the closest approximations I could find on the Internet. The cabrito is very similar to the dream, but I couldn't find exactly the right ravioli picture.)

Labels: , , , ,