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Softshel crab

But many avoid death now as the greatest of evils but then welcome it as rest from things in life. The wise neither declines life nor fears not living; for life does not offend him nor does he believe that not being alive is bad. Just as food is not chosen only for the larger portion but for the more pleasant, so the wise enjoy the time that is not longer but happier.

—Epicurus, “Letter to Menoeceus” (trans. Sanderson Beck)

Saturday, May 21st, my Epicurean heart beats in the May sunshine. All the birds and iPods tweet, “We are alive!”

We enjoy our weekly visit to the Del Ray Farmers’ Market. Of course, we see Tom the yogurt and cheese guy, the lady with the apple cider doughnuts, and the salteña lady. After missing the Lee Brothers’ seafood truck last Saturday, we are very happy to see them again. Over the past few weeks we’ve bought and enjoyed (twice) their hyper-fresh, sweet, and delicious perch filets and once served sake with their oysters. Today we bought already dressed softshell Maryland crabs. For lunch I patted a few with just a dusting of Old Bay and cornmeal and pan fried them. I also shelled fresh peas, a brief steam, a bit of butter. Carlos had to be off on a work errand, so I was alone for my meal. I meditated, chewing happily on two of the great and most simple delicacies of this lovely planet.

Lee Brothers will reserve some softshells for you if you order the week ahead so they can plan to bring the just-molted ones to market. Look for the truck with a hanging scale and the handwritten whiteboard, “Perch, Catfish, Croaker, Oysters, Softshells.”

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"Saint" Pasqual

Del Ray Halloween Parade

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do…

Del Ray Halloween Parade 

Del Ray Halloween Parade

Del Ray Halloween Parade

Del Ray Halloween Parade

Del Ray Halloween Parade

Del Ray Halloween Parade

Del Ray Halloween Parade

Cardinal Death
Garden memento mori. Probably a gift from the neighbor’s cats.

You shouldn’t chase after the past or place expectations on the future. What is past is left behind. The future is as yet unreached. Whatever quality is present you clearly see right there, right there. Not taken in, unshaken, that’s how you develop the heart. Ardently doing what should be done today, for — who knows? — tomorrow death. There is no bargaining with Mortality & his mighty horde. Whoever lives thus ardently, relentlessly both day & night, has truly had an auspicious day: so says the Peaceful Sage.

“Bhaddekaratta Sutta: An Auspicious Day” (MN 131), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Harvest 7/6/10
Edamame (fresh soybeans) and tomatoes. The edamame had been rubbed with kosher salt to remove (somewhat) the fuzz on the outside of the pods.

All my garden plantings have been experimental and freeform. As much as I would like to perspire through my kerchief while squinting knowingly at the sky, all I did in April was search for last frost dates for Zones 6b-7a, then push seeds in the ground and wish them well.

Although my first “crop” of tended-from-seed edamame only half filled a cereal bowl, the soybeans were of course absolutely delicious, buttery and nutty. Frozen edamame taste ok, but these took me back to Japan for the short time it took the two of us to devour them. Upcoming Crop Two will be eaten Japanese style, accompanying a frosty mug of beer.

Harvest 7/6/10
Corn, perhaps a strange hybrid of “Sugar Pearl” and “Luscious.”

Mama’s trying not to love the tall pretty babies more than the stunted cobs. I planted Sugar Pearl and Luscious sweet corn, but I think the Luscious scrambled up first. Or the ears were a marriage of the two. A friend from the Midwest said I needed to wait a bit longer, but some of the cobs were opening at the silks and I had already lost one or two to bites from squirrels or some other Del Ray mammal (I have now seen an opossum, a rabbit, and a raccoon). The other week a storm had blown over some stalks. I righted them and tied the weak to the strong in a cat’s cradle of twine. All these challenges were making me suspect I had better take the corn that was ready now.

The corn was plump and medium sweet with a clean corn taste, which sounds obvious, but have you eaten picked-within-the-hour corn recently? Even farmers’ market corn seemed flaccid and old compared to this. In all, a “Fuck yeah!” kind of meal. Munching along, I thought about when I planted this corn 85 days ago, how I had watched it grow and watered it, that I had made the corn’s life force part of mine, and I started to feel a bit like a cannibal. Needless to say, I ate on.

Harvest 7/6/10

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