Saturday, February 24, 2007


Thwappp! A flying object smacked into my thigh. Ketchup oozed down my leg and bits of pickle shattered across my hand. A hamburger hit. Tossed out of a speeding car, already long gone, right under a perfectly cloudless desert sky. Who could imagine, in such a landscape?

I suppose I was the perfect target. A lone pedestrian along a busy speedway strip. Head down in meditative reflection, walking back to a neighborhood spa to meet up with SJG, who had been convinced, rather reluctantly, to do a mud wrap on our first day in Tucson. As I wound through the quiet streets off the speedway, admiring the orange trees and the small adobe homes with their cactus gardens and brightly colored doorways, a young woman and her two friendly dogs came out of an alley ahead of me. The dogs made a beeline for my sticky legs and eagerly licked up the ketchup as I fell into conversation with their owner. She reassured me that Tucson is an otherwise friendly town, and I felt better for the encounter.

I later learned that burgers-as-food-missile is a growing trend on the West Coast. There, in LA in particular, the trick is to toss fast food into the car next to you just as you’re taking off from a green light. While it is unnerving to be struck by flying food, there’s an element of absurdist humor to the whole thing. After all, we’ve been tossing tomatoes and eggs and pies at one another for a long time, and various comedic entertainers have played on this expression of hostility to great effect. We laugh at the Three Stooges, at Johnny Carson, at Debbie Reynolds and Martin Short, at their glee at tossing a pie or at their feigned shock as victim. Go to for an entire catalog of such humor. And sure enough, SJG doubled over with laughter as I recounted the adventure, as did the other guests at our bed and breakfast later that day.

So, in a spirit of good humor, and for another truly memorable burger, try this recipe, which we make at our house on the grill in summer or under the broiler during the winter.

1 pound ground turkey
1 egg
½ cup oatmeal (finely cut flakes)
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 small chopped onion
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper, to taste
a couple shakes of Tabasco sauce (optional)

While the grill is preheating, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Shape into patties. Place a sheet of tin foil on the heated grill. Place the turkey patties on the tin foil and grill on both sides until done.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Orchids produce flowers on their own schedule. A catleya I bought long ago after a trip to Key West bloomed well initially, then sat dormant for several years before coming alive last winter after I put it in the warmth and humidity of the upstairs bathroom. Five Decembers ago, when my mother died, my sister chose the cymbidium plant pictured above for its profuse flowering. We cut the stems, wrapped them in satin ribbon, and placed them atop our mother's casket to be cremated with her. I haven't had the heart to toss the plant, even though it too has remained dormant all these years. True to the mysteries of the species, six buds appeared suddenly last week, opening slowly to reveal a delicate beauty well worth the long wait.