Taking stock, twenty years after immigration

On January 5, 1998, I landed in New York City with an immigration visa that I won in the Green Card Lottery. The previous summer, I had received a letter in the mail notifying me that I was one of 55,000 lucky people whose number was drawn in the Green Card Lottery from more than eight million participants. Winning, however, was only the first, easy step. What followed was a thorough and costly screening process to make sure that I was who I claimed to be, without a criminal record, in good health and able to support myself for a few months in the United States without working. I have often wondered how Green Card winners less fortunate than me made it through that process. Continue reading

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As American as apple pie?

In the past few months I have thought a lot about the expression, “as American as apple pie.” Whether I was tossing and turning in bed during many sleepless nights, driving past homes with the American flag and an occasional Confederate flag, whether I was standing at the stove until late at night canning and preserving the harvest from my garden, or angrily digging up the soil and pulling weeds until I almost dropped in an attempt to vent and get away from too much news intake – it all seemed to be boiling down to one question: What is American? Continue reading

Canning season restart

With the days getting shorter, my motivation and energy for any canning or preserving is also shrinking. And frankly and thankfully, there is no real need for it. The freezer and the basement shelves are well stocked.

And I finally found time to get on my bike again. Yet coming back from a ride, I spotted a large bush full of ripe autumn olives, aka autumn berries, along our driveway. That was the end of the short break. The canner and pressure cooker, which had already been stored away, came back down. Continue reading

Basil to last

This has not been a good year for crops in the Cucurbitaceae family. The squash vine borer wiped out all my zucchini and summer squash plants so for the first time since I started my garden in 2004, I did not have a single zucchini or summer squash. The cucumbers yielded barely enough to make a salad a couple of times, and now the Red Kuri squash plants are one by one succumbing to the squash vine borer as well. Continue reading