A few weeks ago, the Agricoli cooked a great meal that met an undeserved fate. Tonight, we are going to break new ground in our favorite cookbook.

On the board tonight: Braised Pork with Apples, Mushrooms, and Calvados. Yes, I cannot drink alcohol, but the recipe says that the brandy will cook off. We’ll let you know.

Updates to follow….

Update: As good as we thought it would be. And, even better for our reduced budget, the cost of the pork shoulder was a bank account friendly $7.35.

The Thin Blue Line

I’m a law abiding citizen (at least for most of the last 25 years, or so) that doesn’t cause too much trouble in the course of the daily grind. But something happened today that kind of sticks in my craw.

Moving down Calhoun Street to the West this morning (an especially pretty day), my line of cars eventually got to the area of MUSC and Roper Hospital. Doing my safe driving scan, I noticed a knot of people on the south sidewalk. Closer examination revealed that a policeman was being interviewed by a camera crew and reporter. She (the reporter) was pretty, the cop looked very squared away, and my gaze lingered on the scene.

My gaze was distracted by another policeman, not in the shot, who was pointing at me with the famous v, as in pointing at his eyes and then me and then the street. I got the message: quit gawking and pay attention to the road.

Well, his gesture irritated me. I gave him the v back. He didn’t like it, but what could he do?

As I proceeded down the street, slowly in line and towards the red light, I thought about the situation. Something has happened in the last couple of decades; I don’t know who or what is to blame, but our relationship with our police force has changed.

It seems like they used to exist as a protector for the average citizen, the blue line that stood between the people and the criminals. Now, it seems that they are our monitors, making sure that we all don’t do something we’re not supposed to do; or they are our 3rd grade teacher, telling us that this behavior is not good for us. Apparently the typical cop thinks we all need to be told what to do, how to do it, and we’d better not give him any lip.

That guy doesn’t know me from Adam’s house cat, he doesn’t have a clue about the fact that I have never had an auto accident in my life, or a speeding ticket in 20 years. He doesn’t know about the defensive driving I do every day, but he knows that it’s perfectly within his rights to chastise me for my driving.

Three cops standing around while a fourth is being interviewed for TV. But I need to be told that I’m out of line. Sheesh.

April 12, 1861

Ft. Sumter, April 12, 1861

Today marks one of the most important dates in the history of our United States. The young country was split apart, over the issue of slavery, and on this date the war commenced. It is astonishing to me that, as of this moment, no mention has been made in any media that I can find.

From this war emerged a nation again united, still facing severe cultural conflict that would take another century to overcome, but with its people resolved to remain one nation.

Allow me, your scribe, to present part of the story……….

The First Shot of the Civil War.

Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner!

As is occasionally my wont when making the daily grocery store trip, I decided today to ‘cruise’ the neighborhood before returning to the castle. I like to keep abreast of developments, you know.

Driving slowly behind another car on my patrol of the ‘hood’, I looked ahead as we both approached a stop sign. There, in the middle of the quiet suburban lane, stood a baby. Well dressed, neat in appearance, unafraid, and utterly alone.

The situation was so unusual that I was momentarily non-plussed.

The occupants of the car ahead of me were equally mystified, apparently, as they remained at the stop sign for nearly 30 seconds. After a moment’s reflection, I recognized their dilemma. Unlike a stray dog, or a haughty cat, the social contract does not allow for a close pass and a toot of the horn for unattended babies.

Eventually a door opened, and a grandmotherly personage emerged to approach and pick up the lost angel. That was my cue to pull alongside and ask the stunningly stupid question: “Is the child lost?”

“Well, it’s not ours…we’ll knock on a few doors and see if we can find the parents.”

Being the good citizen that I am, I slowly pulled around their vehicle, took a good look at the lost soul, and proceeded on my patrol.

At the next block, looking both ways before moving forward, I spied a young girl, of the early teenage variety, walking while carrying a smaller baby and a cell phone. Even from 50 yards away, her gait signalled a certain tension. Undeterred by this new information, I turned the other way to complete the loop around the neighborhood.

Within 1 minute I had circled back to the spot where I had seen the girl. There, in the street, stood the girl, still carrying a baby, and two other young teenage girls holding onto various young children. Up ahead, a few hundred yards away, I could see the stopped car, with a growing crowd of concerned citizens.

I stopped, rolled down my window, and asked the girls if they were missing a baby. The looks on their faces told the story…….flashes of fear, shame, and embarrassment flew across their visages. After all, who was I, how did I know, and lastly, WHERE IS THE BABY?

I pointed to the crowd in the distance, said the missing baby was with them, and told the baby sitter to walk to the scene; I would drive down and alert the good citizens that the mystery had been solved ….before anyone came to harm.

Imagine: a house full of not-quite-grown-up kids, baby-sitting for the neighbors. A few phone calls with some boys, or some other girls, a period of inattentive socializing, followed by the horrifying awareness that a child is missing.

Sounds like me and my brother, nearly 44 years ago.

Pad 39


Looking at the behemoth, poised in its techno-mechanical superiority as it waits to slip the surly bonds, ready to cheat death one more time (we Hope), Agricola cannot help but think of the FIRST Pad 39.

Located behind a house on Murray Boulevard, a group of young teenagers were ‘given’ a small structure in the back yard. It wasn’t very much, maybe 20 feet on a side, with a bar and electricity. But it was ours, and we made it better. Based on the address of the ‘big house’, our place became Pad 39.

Hidden from the inquiring views of parents, and with a lenient landlord, himself a man of the time who fancied good whiskey, cigarettes, and the company of pretty ladies, we were free to act as young or as old as we desired. Our gang would pile into Pad 39, and recline on the single sofa, and drag a mattress from the big house to our house, turn on the fans to keep the lowcountry summer at bay, and drink cold PBRs, and Schlitz, and smoke red marlboros or Kools. For fourteen year olds, we were very cool. A few parties, but everyone in those days was pretty well behaved. There were relationships, but mostly it was a pack of boys dancing with a pack of girls. IBack then, the girls had to be home by 11 or so, and frankly we were not as sexually driven as teens seem to be these days,

I got my first kiss at Pad 39, a full blown right on the lips kiss. It was like sticking my finger in an electric socket. It was as powerful as unexpected, and left me in a daze for a day or so. She wasn’t then, and would never be, a girlfriend, and so the wisdom of time explains that she wanted to kiss somebody, I wanted to kiss somebody, and our needs meet in the patio for about 5 seconds. We were both fifteen.

So every time I see Pad 39 at Cape Canaveral, I think about our pad 39. We were getting ready to blast off into life, and had our share of phallic images, and it was a great time of life. We had our tragedies along the way, but most of us made it, just like the astronauts will.

But I don’t think being strapped into the wayback of the shuttle, tied to explosive rocket fuel, while the whole world watches can compare to that first gentle kiss, in the dark of a hot summer night, at Pad 39 in Charleston, SC.

Triangles, Logistics, and Audubon

Not getting around too much in the blogosphere these days, due to school and whatnot, it may be that this item has slipped through the information net here at Agricola. If so, apologies all around. If not, take a minute and follow the link…..a tale of the impending collision between one of our state’s finest natural resources and the inevitable march of commerce. Let’s hope that planners, engineers, business-people and politicians all take advantage of modern technology, like pervious concrete and such, to reduce eliminate the potential for damage to a natural treasure.