Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Some thoughts on the unexpected

Solid ice in Sabino Canyon--
not the usual scene in the Southern Arizona desert:
But that was a week ago--we had several nights of record cold, including a low of 17 degrees. S. and I went on an afternoon hike down in the lower canyon and were surprised to find a series of pools, completely frozen solid: unexpected mini-ice-rinks for roadrunners and javelinas...Today, exactly one week later, a record high: 81 degrees--a wildly fluctuating winter in Tucson...

An article I read recently, discussing the "end-of-history-illusion" (in "Why You Won't Be The Person You Expect to Be"--it is really worth a read), has been marinating my thoughts the past couple of weeks. We look back on our own pasts, amused and bemused at changes and divergent paths...and yet we can't quite grasp that our futures will be as unpredictable.

Where will...what will...?

A few afternoons ago, I took my iPhone with me on an after-work run; I wanted to get the hang of the panorama-feature. (Yes, I 'succumbed to the siren-song,' as a friend described it--I got the iPhone5.) And I found myself standing on a map on the playground of the neighborhood elementary school:

Standing 'where I am...' 
Ten years ago, I wouldn't have imagined I'd end up living
in Tucson (?!) after having spent a year in Nicaragua (?!)...
and that I'd run?!

Yep--another January in Arizona,
another half-marathon.
Along with some friends, S. and I went up to Phoenix this past weekend:
Got the t-shirt.
And just had to get the decal;
who doesn't like a gecko?
My fourth half-marathon, and my third Rock-n-Roll Arizona half-marathon.
I wish I could go back to my high-school-self,
so concerned with grades and books--
From Georgia to Tucson, via Seattle, France, Nicaragua...

The final mile of the marathon and half-marathon cross this bridge in Tempe:
A 'waterfront' in the desert. Unexpected.
Beware the beautifying evening light and the touching-up of iphone-photos, though;
yes, it's a lovely scene, but Tempe's "beach park" is hardly a 'destination'...
And yet...

Sunday afternoon, after the race and post-race lunch (read review here of the posh Italian place in downtown Tempe), S. and I had an 'appointment' in a coffee-shop--it turns out that I have a cousin who just moved to Tempe, to attend grad school at ASU. So we met him and his wife--he's my father's sister's grandson, so that would make him...my second cousin. We'd never met before; somehow reassuring, though, to have family nearby...


Just down the road from us, a new Russian restaurant has opened.
As far as I know, this is a first in Tucson.
Kalina serves, among other things, these pelmeni
Pelmeni are Siberian dumplings. (These were lamb-filled.)
Seriously--the history of dumplings/wontons/mandu/gyoza--it's a fascinating gustatory trip along the Silk Road, from Koreans to Turks, including far-flung pierogi and ravioli cousins...

Tucson's got more than just tacos and tamales, now.

Food-truck burritos even include kimchi!
"Kimchi is the new salsa." I'm claiming that quote. And now, Mafooco is back in business here.

Weather. Maps. Running. Food. It's all Proustian.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

from an "ethnoburb" in the Deep South

A while back, I read a couple of interesting articles about "ethnoburbs."
Here's one from the New York Times...
...and here's another one, from The Atlantic...

Last month, while visiting friends and family in Georgia and South Carolina, I visited an artisanal "tteok" (Korean rice-'cake'/pasta, with a texture similar to gnocchi) production facility--proof that Asian 'ethnoburbs' are no longer a phenomenon solely of suburban Los Angeles and New York. 

It blew me away to find this, tucked into a converted garage on a suburban, bucolically-named, tree-lined street with pick-ups and picket fences.

Check it out:
This scene could've been in rural Korea a century ago...(sepia-tone helps)...This rice-mill was shipped over in a shipping container over thirty years ago, the proprietor told me...

The densely gooey "tteok" cylinders are in high demand in winter--sliced up, they're perfect in dumpling soup... 

Well, butter my buns and call me a biscuit, as they say...
Dixie grows more diverse with each passing year. Kimchi-and-grits...go figure...

Many Asian immigrants plant persimmon-trees in their backyards. Although my mother doesn't grow them in her garden, she does pickle them with soy and vinegar: 

 (Who knew you could pickle persimmons?)

Tastes of the Far East south of the Mason-Dixon Line...

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Deer beneath the snow--a New Year's Day hike

After sitting in planes and airports for the better part of the the last day of last year, I was eager to be up and about on this first day of the new one. So, after sleeping in and home-made waffles, (MERCI à ma femme!), off to Sabino Canyon for a hike on a perfect desert winter day--yesterday's storm cleared overnight, revealing freshly snowcapped Santa Catalina Mountains...

We weren't on the trail for five minutes yet when a couple of deer appeared:
...crossing our path, plucking cactus fruit, grazing close to us...

The high point of the hike--
snow-capped Thimble Peak 
overlooking the cottonwoods 
still hanging on to last fall's color: 

...hard to ask for a better start to 2013.