Day Trip to Wineries and a Lebanese Restaurant Near Lubbock, Texas


Yesterday,  Martina, my exchange student from Italy, and I drove to Lubbock so I could say goodbye to Venty, the young woman from Indonesia, whom I co-sponsored at Texas Tech University in conjunction with the teachers’ sorority Alpha Delta Kappa.  She received her Masters in Applied Linguistics recently.  She will return to her home in what used to be called the Spice Islands later in June.

First, we decided to try something new for lunch.  Neither had eaten much food from the Eastern Mediterranean area so we went to Manara.  For appetizers we ordered falafel, dolma, and baba ganoush, none of which they had eaten before.  After enjoying these appetizers, two of us ordered the kafta kabob dinner and one ordered the chicken.  Although the salad was rather ordinary, the saffron rice was heavenly.  The kabobs had somewhat different spices than the kabobs I have previously eaten but were fine.  They were served with two sauces:  garlic yogurt and another which was quite spicy.  We enjoyed both. If you want to try something different while in Lubbock, I recommend this restaurant.  I would go there just to eat the saffron rice.

Second, once I discovered that Venty did not know there are vineyards and wineries near Lubbock, we decided to take a run over to Caprock and Llano Estacado Wineries.  Llano has recently opened an expansive new tasting room.  Caprock is still called Caprock Winery, but the wine produced there is called English Newsom Cellars.  The following photos were taken at Caprock and Venty’s house.

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A Litany of Thanks


I heard this poem by Max Coots recited on Sunday and saved it to share today.

 

Let us give thanks:

 

For generous friends…with hearts…and smiles as bright as their blossoms;

For feisty friends as tart as apples;

For continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us we’ve had them;

For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;

For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn, and the others, plain as potatoes and as good for you;

For funny friends, who are a silly as Brussel spouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes, and serious friends, as complex as cauliflowers and as intricate as onions;

For friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini, and who, like parsnips, can be counted on to see you throughout the winter;

For old friends, who wind around us like tendrils and hold us, despite our blights, wilts, and witherings;

And, finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past that have been harvested, and who fed us in their times that we might have life hereafter.

For all these we give thanks.

 

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You’re Gonna Eat That?!


This is the title of my newest book which currently resides at the designers for formatting, placing the photos in the correct place and position, making sure everything is just right.  The subtitle is:  Adventures with Food, Family, and Friends.  It includes family and travel stories, adventures, poems, and recipes. Here are a couple of food photos which will be in the book with recipes.

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Every Sunday until publication, I will post an update as to progress.  My goal is to have it available for purchase for Christmas presents for those who love food adventures.

 

A Week of Wonder and Flowers


 

This past week was my birthday.  The wonder started a week ago when my friends came for dinner and my friend’s father, visiting from Mexico. brought me red roses.  I had not seen my friends in a long time and it was fun.  Then on Sunday, Roberto, the father, and I went hiking in Palo Duro Canyon on a new trail.  I never saw a name for it.

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We found this trail by starting at Chinaberry (for those who go to the Canyon), taking Comanche Trail up to this new trail.  When they intersect, we went north rather than south on Comanche.

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If you read the previous blog in December about hiking Comanche, you saw this peak but from the center and to the south.  This is a view from the north looking south.

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Eventually, after hiking up and down across an arroyo, you end up above the river which looks tiny here, but when a big rain comes, it can rise many feet in a few hours.  It was very sunny, I had a hard time focusing so occasionally a finger got in the way.

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Roberto has a funny sense of humor.  He could not resist pretending to hold up one of the many giant boulders along the trail.

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This is not a difficult walk and not too long if you only have a few hours.  We came across a group of wild turkeys, but they moved so much, I was unable to get a good photo so gave up.

Wednesday was my birthday.  It began with my first period class–I teach senior high school English.  They showered the room with confetti, brought me a giant chocolate muffin with a candle in the middle, lit the candle and sang me Happy Birthday.  Then during second period, two of my students arrived with two bouquets of flowers.  The room smelled wonderful for three days.  I brought the flowers home yesterday in a big box.

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My grandson told the florist to make me a giant bouquet with exotic flowers.  This is one side of it.  Orchids, roses, hydrangeas, and some really unusual flowers which I cannot identify.

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This is the other side of the same bouquet.

This bouquet is from my son.  He knows my favorite color is orange and that I have a lot of that color in my house so….

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I am seriously nerdy and asked for an atlas for my birthday.  My daughter outdid herself and bought this one full of all sorts of information I never expected and maps.  I love maps.  When I read a book from Latin America, Africa, etc., I look up the places on maps.

Last night I sang songs, using the poems of Octavio Paz and Pablo Neruda among others, with the Amarillo Master Chorale in a church with perfect acoustics for choral music.  Tonight I will see friends at an opera party.  What a wonderful week!!

Spring Break Adventure-1


Yesterday I left Canyon, Texas, headed for Alpine.  If you decide to drive south to the Big Bend area from the Panhandle, be prepared for a rather long and boring six hours of driving.

First, you pass at least an hour of looking at camel colored dry grass in all directions.  I had not realized the grass fires had reached south of Amarillo but in one area burned grass stretched across both sides of I-27 and on the medium in between.  I would not have wanted to be driving down the highway while this was on fire.

Close to Lubbock the cotton fields begin. With spring planting approaching, most of the fields were already cultivated ready to plant.  This “scenery”, except for driving through Lubbock, continues for at least another three hours.  About 1/2 to one hour before the Odessa/Midland area, you hit the really ugly.  Since I am one of those people who can find beauty just about anywhere, if I say it is ugly, most people would find it even worse.  Miles and miles of nothing but mesquite, brush, and oil rigs stretch endlessly in every direction.  Why would anyone want to live here?  Money, money, money.  Apparently, they expect to make even more soon because new drilling rigs popped up within sight of the road everywhere.  In the short distance where I cut off on a two lane highway to get from I-20 to I-10, I saw five new drilling rigs.  The scenery does improve a bit in this area because you can suddenly see the Davis Mountains looming large not too far away. It reminded me of my childhood when my family would head across eastern Colorado and how excited we became when we could see our destination, the Rockies, in the distance.

Once you drive two minutes or so on I-10 and then cut off south toward Fort Davis, the scenery becomes dramatic, something to really see and enjoy.  Although it is too early for the grass to have become very green, the cottonwood trees have leafed out and what a sight they are.  Huge is an understatement.  It would take the width of at least six of me to make one of these impressive trees.  Apparently, I was not the only one who viewed them as something special.  People were driving off the highway to stand by them.  One woman stared up into the newly green leaves, a look of wonder on her face.  I thought I was late to meet friends in Alpine so did not stop.  In the end we arrived at Alpine at the same time for our yearly get together–friends since college when we were roommates with her husband who went to college with us and another friend.

After a fabulous dinner at the old hotel here, we retired to our rooms to get ready for the real adventures of this week:  the Observatory-today’s goal, Marfa, Big Bend.  I really tried to sleep late, but alas I should have known better. Here I am writing away early in the morning.

 

 

 

Gifts–Isabella and Roses


For the last month DJ Knopick-Barrett, the Production Manager for Amarillo Opera, has stayed with me–her third time to do so.  When she was last here, in early summer, she took hikes with my dog Isabella.  I had no idea she had also photographed her. Isabella died not long before DJ arrived this time.

DJ said her goodbyes this morning and I left for work.  She had a late morning flight.  When I returned home from work today, I was touched nearly to the point of tears.  DJ not only had photographed Isabella, she had enlarged the photo and framed it.

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Sacred


Warm summer raindrops on my face

Crimson cardinal drinking in blue birdbath

Feather grass waving in the wind

Last lavender and white iris before first frost

Cups of coffee from Chiapas at 6 in the morning

The sunning rattlesnake lying by my feet

Horses running wild and free

Facebook messages from friends far away

Waterfall’s roar after the thunderstorm

Night songs–coyote, cricket, nighthawk, frogs, hoot owl

Life

Sunday Sunrise ©Dawn Wink

 

Doctors, Climbers, and Friends


Several friends came over for dinner tonight.  We still have enough left over wine from the wine tasting to last for weeks unless I keep inviting people over who drink wine.  I served salmon teriyaki with crystallized ginger, jasmine rice, roasted vegetables, and salad–see previous posts for recipes.  We also feasted on Ethiopian bread given to me at an Ethiopian party last night.  Three of us in the group are headed to Ethiopia in ten days.  Two of the group are doctors, ones wife is his office manager, which leads to the first topic.

Both of these doctors are from Southern Hemisphere countries.  Both trained originally there and practiced there.  One practiced medicine in several African countries before coming here.  Basically, they had to start over here and go through most of medical school, residency, examinations, everything all over again.  The more I think about this, the more I wonder if going to a doctor who did all this twice is not a better choice when you  pick a doctor.  I liked school; in general, I liked studying.  Would I want to go through all that twice.  Hell, no!  Really.  Their good humor, dedication, and persistence amaze me.

The morning after the wine tasting, I looked over the edge of my balcony, down the cliff, and to my horror saw all these full bottles of water.  Since Thursday, when I discovered them, I have been trying to think how to get them out of there before the next rain storm comes and they wash even further down the steep slope.  Friends to the rescue.  I could not believe how Hernan descended  the gravely slope.  He confidently walked down it and around, picking up bottles, putting them in a plastic bag.  He made it look easy, like he was walking on flat land.  I finally had to ask how–I was down by the edge but not really climbing up and down.  He informed me that he grew up in the mountains, the Andes.  We all watched in mild astonishment at how easy he made it appear.

A good day to begin a good week I think:  this morning people who bought my book telling me they love it, one telling me her mom grabbed it and she has not been able to even take a look, friends over for dinner, the bottles cleaned up, and the possibility of showers.

Wine tasting, thunder, and thieves


In last night’s blog I mentioned the wine tasting to occur at my house tonight.  I have never seen so many bottles in one place.  Take a look.  At one point someone counted and said there were 64 bottles.  Since there were over 100 people in attendance…and left overs everywhere.

 

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About two hours before the event, dark clouds appeared on the horizon.  I turned on the TV; severe thunder storm warnings slid continually across the screen; it began to sprinkle. Oh, no.  The storm went around, guests showed up, and they could even eat outside on the patio.  About half way through the party, the smoke alarm went off.  Market Street, the party sponsor’s grill apparently smoked too much or my alarm system is very sensitive.  A friend grabbed a broom, pushed a button, and it stopped, only to repeat the process several times.

The boxes on the left in the photo below contained approximately 100 wine glasses.  The procedure:  get your own glass, walk to the bar, pick a wine and try it.

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Several people wanted some empty glasses, one for a friend’s craft work and another for herself.  She makes her won wine.  Here are the bottles I rinsed and lined up for her to pick up later in the week.

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In the end after nearly everything was packed up and the garbage bagged and in the garage, a few of us sat around and drank some of the friend’s homemade wine.  Hobby, the Market Street wine guy, had set aside a copy of my poetry book to purchase and have me sign.  He looked where he put it.  We looked around; nothing.  Apparently we had a poetry book thief at the party.  Who would have thought.

About ten minutes after everyone drove away,  lightning zoomed across the sky, the thunder boomed, and the tempest finally stuck, the perfect ending.

 

 

 

 

 

Family Road Trip–Day Three


Today we awakened earlier that we usually do on vacation in order to get to the train station in downtown Albuquerque to take the Rail Runner to Santa Fe.  Apparently, we worried too much about missing it because we arrived really too early and sat around for more than 45 minutes waiting and watching.  I walked around and took several photos of my grandson waiting and of one of the numerous murals one sees in downtown.

 

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I was surprised by the number of people using this train.  It takes one and one half hours to get from downtown Albuquerque to Santa Fe depot because there are quite a few stops on the way including one at Sandia Pueblo and another at Kewa Pueblo.  Photos are forbidden while traveling through Kewa.  The route basically follows the Rio Grande Valley.

I took a few photos from the train and several in Santa Fe.  Good friends, Dino and Zuriash, were already in Santa Fe and picked us up at the depot.  We went to the Chocolate Maven for brunch–my daughter totally loves this restaurant because they have crepes.  We walked around the art exhibits by the church near the square, stopped in a few shops, and just before the return trip on the train, went to Jalapeños for drinks.  A wonderful day with family and friends and a little train trip, my grandson’s first.

 

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