For some reason there is always a sound track playing when I’m feeling upbeat. Funny the word upbeat was the first thing that popped into my head when thinking about good times. Probably many people have similar associations of music and mood.

The same is true for not-so-good-times as well but why dwell on that fact. When I was young and full political piss and vinegar I asked my father why he was not as motivated as I to change the world. In somewhat more vulgar terms. He took a second to respond and finally smiled and said “I’ve been down that road and now it is time to relax”. I was disappointed with his answer. Now fifty years on, it makes more sense to me. There is a quote from Churchill that could be added here but best to let you look that up for yourself.

Texas Pastimes

Fixin to Smoke - Floore Country Store
Fixin to Smoke – Floore Country Store
There are a few things in Texas where bragging rights are important. One of those is football, all the way from high school to the pros. Another is Texas barbecue.

Almost all the old barbecue establishments in Texas actually started out as meat markets. They had a steady clientele for fresh meats and prepared smoked meats as a sideline. That changed as local butchers gave way to supermarkets. Now most places only sell smoked meats. In this part of the country, barbecue is usually smoked beef or sausage. Some places will also have pork, turkey or chicken but beef is king here.

While the quality of barbecue across the state is universally excellent, styles differ regionally. A lot depends on the woods available for smoking. Different woods have a profound effect on the final quality of smoked meats. Not just any wood will do. Many smokers source their wood from specific geographical locations and suppliers.

In the end it is the skill and knowledge of the pit master that determines the quality of the barbecue. To a casual observer it may seem that you can learn to smoke meats in an afternoon. Not so. Pit masters generally learn their art through an informal apprenticeship that can last years. The skills of the master are passed on with serious dedication and understanding that it is best not to tinker with the product.

Make mine moist brisket with some burnt ends and a couple of links. It is always best served market style on butcher paper with a slice or two of white bread, onions and pickles.

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The North America calendar
Weeks starting on Sunday.

Phototrice Calendar No. 39 – North America

The International calendar
Weeks starting on Monday.

Phototrice Calendar No. 39 – International

Against the Storm

Springtime weather is always unsettled in North America. This year is no exception. Strong weather sweeps in from the Pacific acting as catalyst, mixing warm moisture from the Gulf of Mexico and cold Canadian air. It is a rather explosive combination which brings predictable destruction to the continent. North America is bound together by natural forces.

Those in the Midwest know the routine and keep a weather eye open. Early yesterday, before dawn, a storm front swept through Texas with high winds and copious amounts of rain. We were lucky, the storms broke north and south leaving us with just a couple of inches of rain. Another storm will follow along in due course; Maybe not so lucky next time.

The wind chime hangs on the edge of my porch facing South and West into the oncoming weather. I’m not a superstitious person but I understand the value of a talisman to act as guardian. There is something ancient in warding off danger with a carved stick or even a small metal bell. Being human, in the face of natural violence, I hedge my bets.