24 January 2009

The Eyes Of A Child

Hank asked to use the camera. I showed him which button to push and sent him on his way. Every time he took a picture he would look in the display and laugh. Then he would run off to a different location and do the same. This pointing and shooting and laughing went on for about thirty minutes until he grew bored, set the camera down, and attacked another project.

I recovered the camera and would now like to present Hank Hatcher's first ever on-line exhibit. The title of the exhibit is What You Said?: The Future of Sterilized Living On American Way, Perspectives 2009. Full-sized prints are available for purchase through this website.

This series is entitled Architectual Designs of the Practical.

And Hank's What You Said? exhibit pretty much sums up the last two weeks: attempts to entertain little people, attempts to entertain myself, a little disappointment, and not much skiing. A week away from Geneva.

12 January 2009

Family Food

After days of dealing with my roasted chickens, braised pork loins, stinky cheeses, and excessive vegetables the Hatcher family had enough and decided to change direction for the conclusion of our quasi family reunion. Am I'm glad they did. Sunday was reserved for the endearing and enduring Hatcher family classic: chicken fried steak.

Born probably as Wiener Schnitzel and brought to Texas in the late 19th century by Austrian and/or German immigrants, the batter-fried piece of cube steak is the quintessential cowboy food. And though none of the current batch of Hatchers have ever made a living as a cowboy, many of the old-timers and continuing all the way down to my two older sisters are from or close to the part of the country that claims to be the birthplace of the chicken fried steak: the Llano Estacado, Texas Panhandle, and Red River Valley areas of Texas. I thank my lucky stars I can claim honestly that I'm from Colorado rather than Texas but I am thankful
also that some of the state's rich traditions haven't escaped me entirely. Chicken fried steak, Texas-style barbeque, black-eyed peas, fried catfish, pecan pies, and hushpuppies are just a few delicacies that leave warm spots in my heart (pun intended). I will reserve my love affair with Western Swing music and Townes Van Zandt for another day.

And so it was that the family gathered, the assembly line assembled, and the Crisco started popping. First came the appetizers, though, and a mélange of convenience foods that I haven't seen the likes of for many years. I single-handedly devoured the cup of bright orange Frito jalapeno (flavored) cheddar (flavored) cheese dip using Fritos Scoops! corn chips. Yes, Scoops! is spelled with an exclamation point.

Like good Texans, there is always plenty of iced tea in the fridge. Anymore, however, I have problems finding a reason to drink anything else besides water, coffee, and red or white wine. I hauled a bottle of 1999 Branson Coach House Shiraz out of the Elko cellar and saved it for just such an occasion. A fine wine but it could stand another ten years of cellar time, even after three hours of decanting in Mom's coffee pot.

It was a family affair--except for me who couldn't stop eating the bright orange "cheese" goo and drinking underage shiraz. Sister #1 was on the mashed potatoes; Sister #2 at the batter dip station; Nephew #2 fried while Nephew #1 washed dishes. Nephew #1's wife made salad and admitted giving up on the sacred tradition of cooking chicken fried steak because she couldn't compete with her mother-in-law or grandmother-in-law's versions. Dad watched grown men on TV beat each other up over an egg shaped ball while Mom generously entertained the niños. My brother waited in silence as the experts took over, his haute cuisine variations on the classic--like the addition of paprika and finely ground Parmesan cheese to the flour mixture--were quickly dismissed as heresy. No need to improve on this classic.

The white gravy wss thickened, the table was set. Corn was heated and the bottles of Heinz 57 and A1 were pulled from the refrigerator. A faux blessing was given and Judy Garland, Johnny Hartman, and Blossom Dearie replaced the Steelers and Chargers. We descended upon the steaks and in a flash it was all over.

Take it away, Bob.

07 January 2009

On the Road

I suppose I could go on about our mass migration across three continents, three US states, six or so US cities, a dozen or so towns, and several thousand miles as some sort of a life-altering ramble, a soul-searching journey where I shed all of my life's inhibitions and embark upon a new paradigm of frenzied love and crystal clear vision. I can't, though. I ain't no tourist and this ain't no vacation. It's hard work and we're all a little tired and freaked out.

Our itinerary is/was something as follows:

Fly to Boise, Idaho from Santiago, Chile via Atlanta and Salt Lake City (approx. 22 hours from door to door). In preparation for other parts of the trip, drive back and forth several times from Boise to the ranch near Carey, Idaho (2.5 hours one way). Drive from Boise to Elko, Nevada via Twin Falls, Idaho where we picked up a trailer to haul a bunch of our stuff (a.k.a wine) to take to Elko where we would meet some movers who would clean out our closets (a.k.a wine cellar) and all of the rest of our possessions to send to Geneva (approx. six hours). Drive back to the ranch (five hours). Spend Christmas at the ranch. Drive back to Boise to pick up a rental car (2.5 hours). Drive to Salt Lake City (six hours). Drive to Montrose, Colorado (six hours). Wendy and Hazel fly from Montrose to Washington, DC via Denver (approx. six hours) where they will stay for a week in preparation for Wendy's new job. Wendy and Hazel fly from Washington to Geneva via Frankfurt, Germany (approx. 10 hours). Hank, Annabelle Lee, and I fly from Montrose to Geneva via Denver and Frankfurt (approx. one million hours).

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

It hasn't been all pain and no pleasure. I've mentioned a few of the highlights and there will be others. Most recently there was the night spent soaking in the Ouray Hot Springs with my sister, Wendy, and Hank as the snow flew around us and the canyon walls towered above us. Then, made possible by the kind generosity of my parents and the kind folks at Telemarktips (thanks Hollie!), Wendy and I were able to sneak away to Telluride for two days of skiing and eating and reminding ourselves what it feels like to act as husband and wife, friends and lovers, and not as business partners. We haven't skied alone together for a long, long time and I'm not even sure I can remember the last time. Germany/Austria 1995? It was fun. Here is the Polar Queen herself about to ski down Telluride's homage to our son:

Nice country. Views from the top of Bald Mountain that I climbed up a couple times (without the Polar Queen) to find some somehow untracked powder.

And the recently opened, snow dependent, Palmyra Peak area. While it wasn't quite ready for prime time yet, it still made for some nice dreaming.

So from here we'll roll on, always onward and, I think, upward.

At he junction of the state line of Colorado, its arid western one, and the state line of poor Utah I saw in the clouds huge and massed above the fiery golden desert of eveningfall the great image of God with forefinger pointed straight at me through halos and rolls and gold folds that were like the existence of the gleaming spear in His right hand, and sayeth, Go thou across the ground; go moan for man; go moan, go groan, go groan alone go roll your bones, alone; go thou and be little beneath my sight; go thou, and be minute and as seed in the pod, but the pod the pit, world a Pod, universe a Pit; go thou, go though, die hence; and of Cody report you well and truly.