Wednesday, May 16, 2012

And peace comes dropping slow ...

Well, Rancho San Fulano de Buffalo isn't exactly the Lake Isle of Innisfree, but it is generally peaceful in a chaotic and busy way. I've been here for a week and a half and mostly have accomplished the needful, to the point that I now get a few hours every day to sit very still in a lawn chair [loaned by a friend; i forgot to bring my own] and read while I listen to the robins and bobwhite quail and meadowlarks and even, blessedly, a couple of mockers who hang around the manor house [a FEMA trailer] to keep in touch with a homeboy. The meadowlark is the state bird of Kansas and a fine choice it was. As a new guy in a hamlet of fewer than 300 souls, I am the object of considerable curiosity to locals. They drive by slowly, eyeballing me, or stop and debrief me if they have some plausible pretext. Then they tell me their life stories. I don't think I so much represent a possible sympathetic ear as a fresh ear. Their stories are often sad; this part of the world is very poor and scuffles are the ordinary mode of employment -- cutting firewood [how many fireplaces can there be?], scrapping, doing pick-up jobs. Disability is the second-place employer. People look sound, but I guess inside they are unable to work. Another reaction is a fierce dedication to work, a frightening sense of industry. Sooner or later, you will hear the get-'er-done catchword. I mostly like the people, but they are of a different tribe from my own, maybe a bit less into kidding as a choice for communication.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Faraway places with strange-sounding names

We are in Okieabad, where we observed the spring rites followed by our people on the first Saturday in May. Despite close attention to the sacred writings - The Daily Racing Form - I failed completely to understand the signs and portents, especially the one that indicated I'll Have Another was due to win the Derby. Herself, in a nice lick of scriptural interpretation, hit a $66 ticket and was obliged to buy dinner. Them's the rules at our house. And that is where fortune smiled on us. She found some restaurant-review site that included a complaint about having to drive the 25 miles to Okarche to get fried chicken and what the food was like there. So, we nailed down the location of the place, Eischen's, a huge country-town beer joint and a valuable cultural experience. You want fried chicken, you order a fried chicken, thirteen bucks. No other choice, unless you want two chickens. No coffee, no tea ... beer, soda pop, and water. Principal side, okra, a massive tub for $6. There's some other stuff, a couple of sandwiches, Frito pie, like that, but that's mostly peripheral. The chicken comes with a little basket of light bread, pickles sweet and dill, and slices of onion. They bring you six or eight big sheets of paper, and that's the dishes. It's the kind of chicken that reminds you why fried chicken was our great celebratory meal when we were kids. It's a long way from KFC. So, if you ever find yourself in OKC, drive out to Okarche and eat fried chicken and salve the pains of life. Who cares if Daddy Nose Best finished up the track? Some things are more important. Tomorrow, herself will take the Amtrak back to Austin [a deal for 40 bucks], and I will press on to El Rancho San Fulano for a time of contemplation and reading. No, wait, further noddling around reveals that Guy Fieri, who does a food show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, has visited Easchen's. The publicity appears to have done no damage to the integrity of the food.