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“Strange and Wonderful Things”

As I look ahead to the new year, I am very excited. I have a lot of projects and activities in store, but mostly I’m excited that for the next month I don’t have any plane tickets booked. I am going to sit on my couch, probably in my pajamas and write my book. Oh how I will relish it.

But this isn’t to say that I haven’t enjoyed every single second of my travels. In fact, I have come across some strange and wonderful things in the past five months.

Here are three of them:

This smoking donkey cigarette dispenser. Now, I have never smoked a cigarette in my entire life. But when I saw this in Arkansas it cracked me up for some reason. Especially because neither the person giving it nor the person receiving it smoked cigarettes. It is one of life’s amusements, and I think that is all it was really meant to be.


I drove for many hours in west Texas in October, at the edges of the United States. I may have even wandered into Mexico for all I know. As I drove, there were only vast planes and beautiful arid mountains.

Then I saw this. A Prada store in the middle of nowhere.

Do cowboys like stilettos when no one is looking? Really expensive ones?

It turns out that no, they don’t. This store is sealed off. It is, in fact, an art installation!

Just in case you get bored while driving in this empty desert, there is a shining beacon of Prada that comes to your rescue.

And this. In New Orleans in December, a barber shop with my very name. I was tempted to have them trim my hair but I had a po boy to eat and didn’t want to be late.

So this is a taste of the strange and wonderful things that I stumbled upon in 2010. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2011 has in store, aren’t you? What do you have planned for 2011? Any resolutions?

Happy New Year!

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  1. I am looking forward to 2011, some not so pleasant things happened in 2010…..
    I am looking forward to trying some new venison recipes and trying some of the recipes from your blog…..I got my very own skillet for Christmas:)
    ……..my one resolution for the new year is to finish reading Food Heroes! Your book is sitting on my desk at work and I am about half way through….I am enjoying it and look forward to finishing. Enjoy your next month, relax a little….I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you and your family all the best in the new year!

    • Ray’s year mirrors mine in many ways. One goal is to be more adventurous about foods and recipes. I’ve eaten venison many times — last night fact — with my son and family (to include our brand new grandson!) in NM. My fine son, his wife, and his in-laws serve up snake, squirrel, rabbit, buffalo, venison, bear among other treats. Most all harvested (legally) by the family in Kansas, NM, Colorado, Wyoming, MT and AZ. What I really need to pursue is seafood; my experience is limited. I’ve been ordering many copies of FOOD HEROES from Amazon and having them sent directly to friends. Always a big hit! On the matter of life’s blows and blessings, I think of Helen Telushkin (not sure about the spelling) late of the Bronx (or was it Queens?) who once said something like this: “The only people I know who don’t have big problems are people I don’t know well.” Few knew this great lady, now deceased. Not famous. Which leads me to another thought: “Most celebrities are not great, and most great people are not celebrities.” Go Georgia, and thanks!

      • Thanks for your wisdom and for spreading Food Heroes far and wide : ) I would really like to try snake and squirrel this year. Add it to my resolutions list!

  2. That image of Prada is so surreal… I don't know what confuses me more, and art installation immortalizing Prada in the middle of nowhere or the thought of a Prada existing in the middle of nowhere.

  3. Sometime in the late '60s I was introduced to kefir. She didn’t know it, but I fell in love with her. On a cement crew the summer of 1971, a quart of her traveled with me to work. Unflavored, she and fresh peaches were my entire lunch. There was a hole-in-the-wall ‘health food’ store nearby where a stooped, hairless proprietor made the match. I kept her in a cooler with ice, so when the noon bell rang and it was 98 degrees, on the way to 107 or more, my gal kefir was right there chilling and waiting, for me! Oh, the faithfulness! Of course, lots of water washed across these pearly whites, passed through the oral cavity, bathed Mr. Epiglottis and headed down the Jimmysophagus too, having sweated off so many pounds each morning. While I came to savor natural kefir, I did sometimes glug it with bites of those masticated peaches, or sweet Calimyrna Figs from the orchard encompassing our home. But now I must try your rhubarb kefir, Georgia. Perhaps I’ll make friends with our kitchen, surprise my bride of 30-some years, and work up a batch per your methods. Since boyhood, rhubarb-based treats have been on the order of a magic substance, placed before me with a twinkle by my precious, Thurberian mother.

  4. The "Prada Marfa" installation really is absurd! Something about it works though. The clarity of space within the "store", the intentionality behind the placement of each item, and the simplicity of form of the "products" themselves is echoed in the vast Texan landscape. In some ways, its interaction with the landscape reminds me of Mies van der Rohe's Farnsworth House and Le Corbusier's Villa Savoye.
    Here's a link that has some more information about the "Prada" installation in Texas: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/30/style/30iht-rde
    PS: I wonder what Miuccia and everyone else at Prada Milano think about it…

  5. How fabulous – what a great thing to find in the middle of nowhere! It is so fantastically out of place! Love your blog! Keep on sharing! xo