Sunday, April 11, 2010

One man's trash is another man's treasure.

It's that time of year: Food saved from last year is almost gone but fresh food in the garden is not here yet. Not that I ran out of food - not by a long shot. But the food choices dwindled down to a few measly meal options

Rice and beans? Rice and venison? Beans and venison? Rice and beans with venison? I could cook it in chicken stock - I still have gallons that. Maybe crack an egg over it? Should I use that last bag of summer squash in the freezer or save it for another day? Hot sauce or sweet & sour? Tortillas or frybread?
Wash it down with coffee or lemonade? Ice water?

You wrack your brain to come up with new variations of the same few basic ingredients. After a month of that kinda culinary monotony, you'd kill somebody for a Cobb salad. If you had fresh mushrooms and a jar of Tom Kha Gai seasoning, you might even kill a chicken.

But this gap between seasons is also the same time other people are getting their spring clean on. They're making room, emptying freezers and pantries. And a number of them are bringing their throwaways to me. Much of it is still fit for human consumption but it also makes fine fodder for the chickens, goats and cats. If I won't eat it, someone else here will. I mean, there's just no way I'm going to be able to eat a whole institutional-sized, six-and-a-half pound can of sliced carrots by myself. Nor would I want to. But I will gladly take it off your hands and give you a dozen fresh organic eggs in the bargain. (There are currently enough eggs in the refrigerator to recreate that famous scene from "Cool Hand Luke.")

I also have a pyramid of unlabeled cans in the kitchen. No idea of what's in them. They're not old or out of date - just mysterious containers of mysterious mystery. Like a pile of food lotto cards. Will it be something yummy or will I dump it outside for the cats and chickens to scrap over? Will it be a dream? Or a dud?

One favorite chicken treat is old junk food snack cakes. Chickenfight Girl knows of a place that sells past-date bread by the truckload. For twenty to thirty bucks, she fills the back of her pickup with bread, bagels and rolls that she feeds to her horses. There are always boxes of individually wrapped junk food snack cakes. She considers unwrapping them a major pain in the ass so she gives them all to me. Can a chicken eat Twinkies and still be called organic?

I also scored half a dozen five-gallon buckets with lids. Man, you can never have too many of those! Now if the universe would just see fit to send me a dozen tarps, a can of butane and two back tires for the riding mower.

Another freebie that recently fell into my lap was two new goats. One of my neighbor-cousins knew a guy who had two pet goats that he didn't want anymore. He introduced us and I became the proud owner of two more kudzu-eating machines.

The white one is a nanny named Bella. The brown and white one is her year-old son, Daisy. Daisy was named by a young child who didn't care that Daisy is not a traditional boy's name. I kinda like it in a
Boy Named Sue sorta way so, for now, the name stays.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

A visit from BMac

My old friend, BMac, stopped by for a few days on his way to New Orleans. He brought beer, steak and news of the outside world. Sitting around the bonfire with an Alaskan was the recharge I sorely needed.

On a trip south to Chambers County for more beer, we took a side-trip through Roanoke, Randolph County's largest town. BMac wanted to see the deserted and dilapidated buildings that litter the old downtown.

Downtown Roanoke has lots of cool old brick buildings. Sadly, many are not only uninhabited, they are in varying degrees of decay. The place definitely has a ghost town feel.

We peered through storefront windows, ooohing and aahhing over all the great things these buildings could be turned into or the lost opportunities of buildings so far gone they could only be gutted. Of course, most of our ideas had to do with bars, pubs and cute little sidewalk bistros with nice wine lists.

There was a Saturday Night Live sketch with a guy that looked at any kind of container and said "You put your weed in there!" That was Brian and I looking at old buildings: "You put a bar in there!" Since Randolph County inexplicably still clings to its economically crushing status as a Bible-thumping backwater that bans the sale of demon booze (plus me and BMac's lack of necessary capital), they were just silly daydreams.

You could totally put a bar in here.

This place didn't even have glass on the storefront windows anymore.

Notice the light streaming out the doors from the inside? That's because the entire roof has collapsed. If you were to buy this property, you'd essentially be getting just the facade - if that. (As always, you can click on the pictures for a larger version.)

I've been told downtown's decay started when the bypass was built. Not sure when that was - maybe the 70s? 80s? Soon after, ugly boxy stores popped up like zits along the bypass and a lot of downtown died. Now everybody shops at Mall-Wart and eats at McDonalds. Same story as a lot of other towns across the country.

My favorite falling-down Roanoke building is the old Martin Theatre.

Note how you can see blue sky through the windows. That means no roof. If you look closely at the top right of the building, you can see what appear to be bare tree tops.

The mural has to be post 9-11. The fireman is the obvious clue. I'm guessing that flag is supposed to be Afghanistan's. The colors are right anyway - for the Afghanistan of 1992-1996, before the Taliban took over. After we invaded Afghanistan, the pre-Taliban flag was used again for another year before a new flag was introduced. (Afghanistan holds the record for nation going through the most flag design changes.) But Afghanistan's flag didn't have a big bird on it. And I have no idea why the bald eagle is wearing a big gold necklace.

Last but not least, another favorite abandoned building of mine:

I'm guessing the cave motif is from the 50s or 60s. Somewhere along the line, somebody said "Paint an eye on it and it'll look like an elephant!" I'd much rather buy gas at a cave/elephant than at Mall-Wart. People need more whimsy in their day-to-day routines.

Randolph County is poorer for letting such cool architecture crumble to dust.