Friday, June 23, 2006

Hot Night at The Laundromat

It had been awhile since we had done the laundry.
So we decided to do it last night.

We do not have our own washer and drier.
We do not want to spend the money because we may be moving.
Sometimes we see a used washer or drier for sale.
Maybe an ad in the paper.
Maybe a flyer on a bulletin board.
Sometimes a washer or drier is on a front porch.
Sometimes one is sitting outside of a secondhand store.
We do not want to pay too much.
Over on 19th street there is a washer drier combo
on the front porch of a duplex.
It has the color of creamed coffee.
It has been sitting there for over a year.
I have knocked on the door several times.
I have called the telephone number
that is on the paper that is duct taped to the machine.
They never answer the phone.
They want one hundred twenty five dollars for it.
Maybe the machine does not want to be sold.
It is slowly rusting.
The wooden porch it is sitting on is slowly rotting.

And we have four loads of laundry to do.
We have whites.
We have blacks.
We have mixed colors.

So we put it all into two laundry baskets and a plastic bag.
We grab the detergent.
We grab the bleach.
We grab some books to read.
I have a detective novel.
La Nina de La Calle has a spiritual book.
So we put everything in the red car.
We roll down the windows.
We listen to Billie Stewart's "Sitting in the Park"
We drive off to the laundromat.
That one near the Pierce Street Coffee Works.
My friend John just bought the laundromat.
He put a new green rug on the floor.
He painted the walls yellow.
He put some new washers and driers in.
On Saturdays people use to fight over the big driers.
But now that he has added some more big ones,
everything should be OK.

So we park the red car on the curb in front of the laundromat.
The door to the laundromat is open.
It is seven o'clock on a Thursday night.
Hardly anybody is there.
The night attendant is there.
His name is Andy.
He is the friendly guy with spiked hair.
This is his second job.
You need two jobs just to get by.
The rich guys in Congress
voted last week to give other rich guys a tax break.
Yesterday they stopped a raise in the minimum wage.
Well anyway you need two jobs to get by.

So we loaded up three of the medium washers
and one of the small ones.
That earned us four punches on our frequent washer card.

Then we sat down to read our books.
We did not get to read much.
A family sat down near us.
The little girl was complaining
that her pappi was always doing laundry
and never took her to the park.
I said that it was not true and she laughed.
So we all started talking.
They were from Guatemala.
Been here eight years.
They have five kids
Four here and one back home.
They can't cross the frontera
so they have not seen the oldest in eight years.
But she lives with her tia down there.

It was getting hot in the laundromat.
La Nina de la Calle went outside to read.
She rolled the windows down in the red car.
Turned on the cd player and listened to some Brook Benton tunes.
I stayed inside and moved the clothes to the driers.
I used the new big ones.

Just then Jimmie walked in.
Jimmie is a barrell chested Lakota from Rosebud.
The attendant, Andy, asked him where Mary was.
Mary is Jimmie's wife.
Jimmie said she was up in Rosebud for the Sundance.
A big spiritual gathering.

Andy asked him about the Sundance.
Jimmie told him about it.
How you dance around the pole till
a leather thong tied to a piercing in your chest breaks.
How you have a bone whistle in your mouth.
How you cannot eat for four days before you dance.
How you grow from this.
Mary would be back next week.
Jimmie left.

Our clothes were dry.
It took us a half hour to fold them all.
We will not wait so long next time.
I am going to call the phone number
on the paper that is duct taped
on the slowly rusting washer drier combo
on the slowly rotting porch.

We went home.
We drank some water and ate some cherries.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

How to Make a Grilled Cheese Sandwich

First thing that you got to do is get some good bread.
By that I mean bread that does not feel like marshmallow.
It should be nice and crusty.
It should have crunch.
You can bake your own.
You can buy it.
But it must be good bread.
You need to read the ingredients.
If you need a chemistry book to understand the label,
do not buy this loaf.
Do not use really old bread.
If it is green or blue
this is not what you want to eat.

Ok, next you need cheese.

Do not buy presliced cheese.
You can slice your own.
It is really easy.
Buy a hunk of cheese.
Unwrap it.
Put it on a cutting board.
Grab a knife.
Starting at the top of the hunk cut downward.
That is called slicing.
See how easy it is.

Do not buy orange cheese.
Cheese is not orange.
The color orange comes from the annato seed.
It is great in achiote paste for Mexican food.
It is great for coloring rice.
But cheese is not orange.
So do not buy it.
Not ever.

It is is good thing to buy cheeses
that have blue or green veins in them.
It is part of the aging process.
Some people do not like these cheeses.
They have strong flavors.
If you use a blue cheese you can sprinkle nutmeg on the cheese before you grill the sandwich.

There are lots of good cheeses to choose from.
Some people like to use a combination of several cheeses.
Not me.
I prefer to use one cheese.

Next take two slices of bread
and put them on a plate.
Lay the chosen cheese on top of one slice of bread.
Put the other slice of bread on top of the cheese.

Put a frying pan on the stove.
Turn the heat to high.
When you can throw water in the pan,
and it races across the pan, then the pan is ready to use.

Pour some olive oil in the pan.
I know you thought I was going to say to use butter.
But this is my recipe.
And I prefer olive oil.
Extra virgin.

Put the ungrilled sandwich in the pan.
It will cook very fast.
Before it burns, turn it over with a spatula.
You may need to add more olive oil to the pan.
The other side will cook quickly.

Now using your spatula,
put the grilled cheese sandwich on a plate.
I like to eat a few gherkin pickles with it.
You may wish to dip your grilled cheese sandwich
in ketchup, mustard or salsa.
Or even in tomato soup.

Your fingers will be oily when you are done eating.
If you are alone it is ok to lick them.
If you are dining with others
you might want to ask their permission
before you lick your fingers.
Your mom taught you good manners.
So remember them.
It is only right.

Monday, June 05, 2006

How To Make Lentil Salad

First rinse a cup of dry lentils.
Take out any pebbles.
You do not need to buy exotic lentils.
They do not have to be red, orange, black or white.
Just plain old brown ones.
Although the green ones are nice.

Then put the clean lentils in a pot.
Put two and one half cups of water in the pot.
Put two peeled garlic cloves in the pot.
Put a pinch of salt and a bay leaf in the pot.
Cover the pot.

Turn the stove on to high.
When it starts boiling turn it down to a simmer.
Then you let it cook for around thirty minutes.
The lentils should still be holding their shape but not al dente.
It is ok if you cook them a little too long.
Just do not make a habit of it.

Now put a handfull of good greens into each of four bowls.
Scoop out the lentils onto the lettuce.
Pour some good extra virgin olive oil on top.
Then pour some red wine vinegar on top.
Spinkle some salt and pepper on the salad.

Serve the salad with some good crusty bread.
A glass of red wine or apple juice goes well with it.

For dessert slice some pears and apples.
Sprinkle blue cheese and walnuts on top of them.
Then drizzle honey over it all.
You should feel pretty good after this meal.

How To Make Spirits Get Out

Some how they got inside your place.
Maybe they walked in.
Maybe they flew in.
Maybe they crawled in.
It is not so important how.
Or even who they are.

I am talking about spirits.
They can make you feel afraid.
They can make things smell bad.
They can change the temperature.
They might even touch you.

But they are there.
And they do not belong.
The problem is that they think that they belong.
They are not human.
They do not have freewill.
But you do.

So what do you do.
First, open the window.
Get some fresh air inside.
Then with a strong voice
remind the spirit that you are a human being
and that you are more powerful than a spirit.
Command it to get out.
Tell it to leave this place.

You are not being cruel here.
You are helping the spirit.
It will no longer be tied to this place.
Do this thing.
You will feel better.