Rivenrock Gardens Cactus Blog

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Summer BBQ



 BBQ…. cheese-stuffed bacon-wrapped peppers… squashes and cactus brushed with olive oil and our special blend of peppers…. and turkey burgers.

Summertime is good time.

But always remember that the following winter will ask you what you did during the easy-time of summer.

A Customer's Cactus Photos

We enjoy getting comments on our cactus. It’s also fun seeing that other folks like eating our cactus. And when we get someone mentioning our cactus on their blog… that’s a great thing!

cactus being cooked

cactus being cooked

The Cowboy meets the Windmill

                                                   Windmill Nursery


    Windmill Farms….
    On the intersection of Hwy 101 and the Los Berros/Oceano turnoff in Nipomo is a little family biz.
    Over the years they have gently expanded their operations to include a petting zoo and fresh vegetables they grow on an acre or so behind the main shop where they sell produce.  I really like the series of little houses they’ve built for the petting zoo. It is so ‘Ghost Town’ looking… so ‘Western’…. so very unique.
    The foods inside are really good and fresh, and their brother is a pro-fisherman.. so sometimes they have fresh fish for sale.  I like to stop by for Albacore when it’s in season in the Fall.

    Once in a while they’ll have a BBQ open… I took the photo below of their main BBQ fellow Billy Ruiz, the owner of the BBQ operation who they contract to come by and cook meat. Like a lot of the pro BBQ people in the area, he has a trailer with all of his necessary tools and implements. He just backs it in, opens it up, and fires up the wood and he’s ready to start.
  The name of his BBQ business is Cowboy Flavor, and I tell ya, he knows his way around a steak! In fact, he’s so good that President Reagan had him go to his ranch to BBQ for the President and his guests at the ranch on a regular basis.


Ventana Grill, Pismo Beach California

This place has nice atmosphere….
Nice architecture….
Takes good advantage of the views….
Beautiful location….

Ventana Grill, Pismo Beach California


Carne Asada Tacos con Nopales salsa

Carolyn of Southern California makes Carne Asada Tacos from ‘flapsteak’ with a salsa made from nopal cactus.

She recommends using the canned/jarred cactus… ours are fresh, and also can be eaten raw chopped directly into the salsa….

Prickly Pear Souffles by Steve Manfredi

An article with a Cactus recipe was brought to our attention….
It sounds delicious, and is written by one of Australia’s most well-known and respected chefs, Steven Manfredi.
I wrote him and asked if I may include it on our blog, he graciously permitted us to reprint it…


Prickly Pear Souffles by Steve Manfredi

   It may be difficult for some to think of Captain Arthur Phillip as Australia’s first ecological vandal but he brought in one of the most invasive plants ever to come into this country. He collected some cochineal-infested prickly pear in Brazil and sailed the cacti to these shores with the First Fleet.

   The cochineal insects feed on prickly pear and, when processed, these insects produce the crimson-coloured dye carmine. Amongst other things, this colour was used for the red coats of British soldiers at the time.

   In 1886 the first (Commonwealth) Prickly-pear Destruction Act was passed though the cactus was already a problem 20 years earlier. It wasn’t until 1996 that the (NSW) Prickly Pear Act 1987 was repealed and management for the “noxious weed” transferred to local governments.

   While it’s still a problem in certain areas of Australia, people from parts of the Mediterranean and the Americas adore its fruit. It looks like a small barrel about 6-8 centimetres long but care should be taken in handling the fruit because the fine hairs will lodge in the skin.

   Peeling is easy. Handle the fruit with a gloved hand. Cut off each of the ends using a sharp knife. Make a slit skin-deep down the length of the fruit and peel the skin away from the pulp. Prickly pear fruit can range from red to deep yellow and is sweet and juicy.





This dish is based on a recipe from Neapolitan chef Alfonso Iaccarino and can be made with prickly pear of any colour.

10 prickly pears, peeled
2 eggs, yolks and whites separated
250ml fresh cream, whipped
3 tbsp caster sugar
4 tbsp sugar syrup

Make the sugar syrup first by boiling 100ml water with 100g caster sugar. Once it boils, cool. Whatever is left can be refrigerated indefinitely. Place 8 prickly pears in a food processor and puree. Place in a sieve, over a bowl and separate juice from seeds, discarding the latter. Place yolks in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Whisk continuously over a simmering pot of water for about 5 minutes until fluffy and thick like zabaglione or custard. Put aside to cool. Beat egg whites to soft peaks. Add remaining tablespoon of sugar and keep whisking until stiff peaks form. Gently fold half the prickly pear juice with the whisked egg whites, whipped cream and cooled yolk/sugar mixture until evenly incorporated. Ladle into 6 moulds and place in the freezer for at least 4 hours. Mix the sugar syrup with the remaining prickly pear juice. To serve, unmould the soufflés by dipping the bases quickly in hot water. Spoon a little sauce on and serve with wedges of the remaining prickly pear. Serves 6.



8 prickly pears, peeled
200g caster sugar
3 egg whites
300g fresh mascarpone
80g pistachios, roasted and roughly chopped
¼ (quarter) tsp ground cinnamon

Puree the peeled prickly pears in a food processor. Sieve over a bowl and separate juice from seeds, discarding the latter. Place the puree in a saucepan with 50g of caster sugar and bring to the boil, stirring. Once boiling, turn down to a bubbling simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Let it cool and refrigerate. Meanwhile beat the egg whites in a bowl, slowly adding the rest of the caster sugar until firm peaks form. To this add the mascarpone and fold in until the resulting mixture is light and fluffy. To serve, ladle some prickly pear puree into bowls, add a large dollop of mascarpone cream and scatter some chopped, roasted pistachios on top. Finish by dusting with ground cinnamon. Serves 8.


   I encountered two items I’ve not heard of before… one is the ‘Caster Sugar’ which is the same as what we call ‘Powdered Sugar’ in the US. The other item is ‘mascarpone’ which comes from his region of Italy (Lombardy) and is probably best known as the essential ingredient, along with coffee and savoiardi biscuits, in the popular dessert tiramisu. It should be fairly easy to buy from Italian providores or even supermarkets. See here:

Mascarpone – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A most unusual omelette


  Wow, this is one of the best food combinations I’ve ever made….
A most unusual omelet

   I started by grating an onion and browning it well in a skillet with vegetable oil
   I let it get really deep and brown, just starting to caramelize

   Then I added a couple of potatoes I had grated while the onions browned….
   Then I let it all cook for a while, stirring on occasion while I continued to grate the foods we had picked recently from the garden…


   You can see the browned onions on the bottom of the pan… I’d never grated onions before… I didn’t know I’d end up mainly with onion juice and paste. But it did brown nicely.



   We had picked some persimmons, sweet Hungarian peppers and cactus a couple of days beforehand. I grated all these things and added them to the mix that was stewing gently…. I like dishes where you can add pretty-much whatever you’ve got coming out of the garden. Adding a wide variety of different foods to your meals is a good way to get a wide range of vitamins and minerals… every food has its own little special packages of goodness to give you that is a bit different from what the other veggies have.
  I just kept turning it for a bit… the idea is to let it all cook slowly together.. into a big stew in essence…..
  I had second thoughts about adding the persimmons… but it was too late, they were already in there…

Continue reading A most unusual omelette

Persimmons, peppers and cactus

    We did some cactus picking and boxing yesterday… as we were leaving the hillside orchard where we grow most of our cactus, we picked some peppers and persimmons to bring to the house as well as a few cactus leaves.

   Fresh foods are good… everything has its season… persimmons are best kept on the tree through frosts… then they have to get really gross and mushy… then they are the sweetest… but you’re not likely to find them sold that-a-way… they won’t last in transit while mushy.

   The peppers are at the end of their season… but with luck the plants might live through the winter and yield again next year.



100 Foods every Vegan Should Try

   The article below is a paste from the webpage ’100 Foods every Vegan Should Try’.

   Even if, like me you are not a vegan, you should really read vegan recipes and try to reduce your consumption of animal products to a  minimum for health reasons, if not out of understanding of the barbaric conditions many food animals have to live their short little lives under. Modern farming is not the farming methods of my grandparents wherein the animals are kept in open outdoors conditions, eating fresh green grasses and forbes…. they are instead stuffed into large barns by the  thousands, heel to toe in cramped conditions…. every time you decide NOT to eat a piece of such an animal, it reduces the demand jsut a bit. Year by year, perhaps the demand for such animals will reduce, and we’ll be left with only the old-style farmyard with animals given a large amount of space and room… before we kill them.



A while back, Andrew of the foodie blog Very Good Taste, posted an article called the Omnivore’s Hundred. The “Omnivore’s 100″is a list of Andrew’s interpretation of the 100 foods every omnivore needs to try. The list gathered a loyal following as bloggers and foodies everywhere began following Andrew’s instructions to re-post the list and join in the challenge. He instructs everyone to cross out things they’d never eat and bold the foods they have already conquered. Fun right? Well as much as I loved the idea, as I began to read the food list I knew I couldn’t participate. Venison, snake, goat’s milk and haggis. Definitely NOT vegan-friendly.

Vegan Hundred.I love the idea of challenging foodies to try as many new, classicly delicious and unusual foods as they can. So I give to you: the vegan’s 100. One-hundred foods that every vegan (or any curious foodie) must try at least once. Check out the list and details on how you can participate in this foodie adventure…

The Challenge: Just as the omnivore list does, I challenge you to re-post this list and participate in the challenge! Cross out or italicize all the foods you would never eat, bold foods you have tried and update your list as you participate in trying all the foods on my Vegan’s 100 list. Then if you’d like, post a link to your list in my comments section so others can see how you are doing. I tried to stay true to the original omnivore 100 by leaving on a few of the vegan food items on Andrew’s list. However, since most of the foods were not vegan, there was a lot of space to fill! My criteria for food items were that they had to be either a unique whole food(like a lychee) or a notably stand-out-delicious way to prepare a common food (like scrambled tofu).

The Vegan’s Hundred

Here’s what I want you to do:

Copy this list into your blog or social networking site profile, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out or italicize any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment on this post linking to your results.

I hope you will join this vegan foodie tasting adventure.
Post the link to your list in the comments-if you have any questions, leave them in the comments as well!

…lets show the omnivores that the question “what do vegans eat?” definitely has over 100 amazing answers…!

The HHL Vegan Hundred:

1. Molasses
2. Cactus/Nopales (we grow this, it’s all we sell)
3. Scrambled Tofu
4. Grilled Portobella Caps
5. Fresh Ground Horseradish ………(used to grow some, great for our own horseradish)
6. Sweet Potato Biscuits
7. Arepa …………(I’ll have to look this one up, never heard of it)
8. Vegan Cole Slaw
9. Ginger Carrot Soup
10. Fiddlehead Ferns
11. Roasted Elephant Garlic………. (Again, we grow this in our garden and I like to roast in foil w olive oil)
12. Umeboshi ………(again, something I’ve never heard of) 
13. Almond Butter Toast
14. Aloe Vera ..(well, we grow this and use it for burns, I’ve drank it prepared, but never processed it myself)
15. H and H Bagel NYC …… too far to go for a bagel, but not gonna cross it out, cause if I’m in NY, I’d try it
16. Slow Roasted Butternut Squash……… yep….. Mmm good! 
17. White truffle  ……..(I’d try it, but not if I have to pay for it)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes  Does strawberry wine count?
19. Freshly ground wasabi  (I’ve made paste from the powder, but not fresh, would love it though, I know)
20. Coconut Milk Ice Cream (not store bought) (umm, no)
21. Heirloom tomatoes (heck, Calif has more cool produce than anywhere!)
22. Orchard-fresh pressed apple cider  (my uncle used to make the best, I remember you Onkle Martin)
23. Organic California Mango (in season Sept-Oct only) (yeah, hard to beat)
24. Quinoa (sister’s family spent some time in Peru and got addicted.. in a good way)
25. Papaya Smoothie (no, but sounds good to me)
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet (habanero) pepper (just a bite!…hot! (Yeah, guys here grow the hottest they can to be more Macho)
27. Goji Berry Tea (no, but I’d give it a try)
28. Fennel (It’s a common herb, I’m sure I’ve eaten it in Europe….)
29. Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie (Yeah, my sis is vegetarian, her daughter vegan, they temp me with vegan goodies)
30. Radishes and Vegan Buttery Spread  (gee, I just heard today of vegan butery spreads….I’m so in the Stone Age)
31. Starfruit (yes, it is good, but the price is too high… too rare)
32. Oven fresh Sourdough bread (used to have our own Sour Dough starter in the fridge!)
33. Sangria made with premium fruit and juices (yes, at the town of Avila in Spain)
34. Sauerkraut (Doh, we used to ferment our own)
35. Acai Smoothie (no, I’ve only seen Acai in photographs)
36. Blue Foot Mushrooms (No, never heard of them, but I saw ‘Blue-Footed Boobies on TV (they’re birds, really!))
37. Vegan Cupcake from Babycakes nyc  (again, I flew over NYC once, but never touched down)
38. Sweet Potatoes and Tempeh combo (no, but each with other stuff, will try it one day)
39. Falafel (yep, we even have a local chain called ‘King Falafel’)
40. Spelt Crust Pizza (no, is spelt like smelt?)
41. Salt and Pepper Oyster Mushrooms (No, we have oyster mushrooms grow on trees here in winter.. but I don’t eat mushrooms I find)
42. Jicama Slaw ( jicama is pretty good…never ate it as slaw before though)
43. Pumpkin Edamame Ginger Dumplings  (I know what pumpkins, Ginger and Dumplims are…. put those 4 words together, I’m clueless)
44. Hemp Milk  (um, with my looks, if I bought that DEA would be raiding us fast!)
45. Rose Champagne  (I’m not a champagne fan, but I’d raise a glass if given to me) 
46. Fuyu  (the persimmon?… if so, yes, I’ve had it, but prefer my soft persimmons more)
47. Raw Avocado-Coconut Soup   (Never had it, but I love avocados, and coconuts are OK also)
48. Tofu Pesto Sandwich  (I’ve only had tofu a few times that I know of…. but I LOVE pesto, so I’d try it and like it I am sure)
49. Apple-Lemon-Ginger-Cayenne fresh-pressed juice…with Extra Ginger  (never had it, won’t make it, but if I’m at your house and you offer it, I’d probably like it… would cure a fever I bet too)
50. Grilled Seitan  (seems I’ve heard of Seitan…. but have no idea what it is)
51. Prickly pear  (again, cactus, that we grow… eat it often)
52. Fresh Pressed Almond Milk  (never had it, but seen it prepared on YouTube, so I’m game… I love almonds, a can a week :-)
53. Concord Grapes off the vine  (yep, have helped pick grapes before)
54. Ramps (only used them for drining onto freeways (ausfahrt, einfahrt in German))
55. Coconut Water fresh from a young coconut  (no, it’s all old and milky by the time it gets here)
56. Organic Arugula  (LOL, we grew this in hte garden and tried to sell at Farmers Market, no one knew what it was! We’re Provincial here)
57. Vidalia Onion (Yep, they are good)
58. Sampler of organic produce from Diamond Organics  (No, but would try it if offered…. I’m kinda frugal with food money)
59. Honeycrisp Apple  (particular variety, don’t think I’ve tried it)
60. Poi  (never been to Hawaii)
61. Vegan Campfire-toasted Smores  (had Smores, but conventional)
62. Grape seed Oil  (yep, we use a dash of it on occasion… but so very pricey)
63. Farm fresh-picked Peach  (been there, grown that :-)
64. Freshly-made pita bread with freshly-made hummus  (no, but one day perhaps)
65. Chestnut Snack Packs  (I’m so lost)
66. Fresh Guava  (yep, some folks here have good guava bushes in their landscape, pretty and edible)
67. Mint Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
68. Raw Mallomar from One Lucky Duck, NYC  (again, I have no idea what this is!)
69. Fried plantains
70. Mache  (salad greens, we have grown mache blends for market, again, doesn’t sell well here)
71. Golden Beets  (we’ve grown them, they have a more tender taste, and don’t stain as much)
72. Barrel-Fresh Pickles (crunchy, dill…. love em)
73. Liquid Smoke  (we used this in the restaurant in High School, haven’t used it for 30 years)
74. Meyer Lemon (we have a meyer lemon tree on our farm)
75. Veggie Paella (I Love Paella, a Spanich classic… I prefer the seafood one at Gibralter)
76. Vegan Lasagna (raw optional)  (I like Lasagna, meat is not necessary for it to be tasty)
77. Kombucha  (I’ve heard of this fungus thing that ppl grow under their beds, never tried it though)
78. Homemade Soy Milk
79. Lapsang souchong  (lost again)
80. Lychee Bellini
81. Tempeh Bacon
82. Sprouted Grain Bread  Does the breads from that LA bakery Ecclesiastes count?
83. Lemon Pepper Tempeh
84. Vanilla Bean  (yes, added it to other stuff a few times)
85. Watercress (I just adore watercress sandwishes)
86. Carrot you pulled out of the ground yourself
87. Vegan In-Season Fruit Pie
88. Flowers  (yep, some here and there)
89. Corn Chowder (corn-anything, and chowder-anything are on my lists)
90. High Quality Vegan Raw Chocolate (no, but nything dark chocolate is on my list)
91. Yellow fuzz-free Kiwi (we’ve had the fuzzy green ones plenty, never saw a yeller one)
92. White Flesh Grapefruit (eh, the yellow ones are sour, and I have to add suger to eat them, where’s the health in that?)
93. harissa  (sounds like the name of a girl I met in Morocco once….)
94. Coconut Oil (It’s on my list of butter replacements I will try)
95. Jackfruit  (I’ve heard of this…. but don’t form a mental image)
96. Homemade Risotto (I’ve heard of Risotto, but I’m not sure I’ve ever had it… )
97. Spirulina (Again, I’ve heard of Spirulina, but I’m not sure I’ve ever had it… )
98. Seedless ‘Pixie’ Tangerine  (Never heard of the variety… but I do like tangerines, one of the largest citrus nurseries is in our town)
99. Gourmet Sorbet, not store bought  (No, we don’t really eat out much.. too far to drive, too pricy, and I don’t know how to act in among fine dining places)
100. Fresh Plucked English Peas  (I’ve never been to England, but I kind of like the music. They say the women are insane there, and they sure know how to use it…. they don’t abuse it, never gonna lose it, I can’t refuse it)

*Want more info? Foodista links and HHL links are shown in a double list below*

The HHL Vegan Hundred:

1. Molasses
2. Cactus/Nopales Nopales on Foodista
3. Scrambled Tofu
4. Grilled Portobella Caps Portobello Mushrooms on Foodista
5. Fresh Ground Horseradish Horseradish on Foodista
6. Sweet Potato Biscuits
7. Arepa
8. Vegan Cole Slaw
9. Ginger Carrot Soup
10. Fiddlehead Ferns
11. Roasted Elephant Garlic Elephant Garlic on Foodista
12. Umeboshi Umeboshi on Foodista
13. Almond Butter Toast
14. Aloe Vera Aloe Vera on Foodista
15. H and H Bagel NYC
16. Slow Roasted Butternut Squash Butternut Squash on Foodista
17. White truffle White Truffle on Foodista
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes Fruit Wine on Foodista
19. Freshly ground wasabi Wasabi on Foodista
20. Coconut Milk Ice Cream (not store bought)
21. Heirloom tomatoes Heirloom Tomato on Foodista
22. Orchard-fresh pressed apple ciderApple Cider on Foodista
23. Organic California Mango (in season Sept-Oct only)
24. Quinoa
25. Papaya Smoothie
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet (habanero) pepper (just a bite!…hot!
27. Goji Berry Tea
28. Fennel
29. Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie
30. Radishes and Vegan Buttery Spread
31. Starfruit Starfruit on Foodista
32. Oven fresh Sourdough bread Sourdough Bread on Foodista
33. Sangria made with premium fruit and juices
34. Sauerkraut Sauerkraut on Foodista
35. Acai Smoothie
36. Blue Foot Mushrooms
37. Vegan Cupcake from Babycakes nyc
38. Sweet Potatoes and Tempeh combo
39. Falafel Falafel on Foodista
40. Spelt Crust Pizza Spelt on Foodista
41. Salt and Pepper Oyster Mushrooms Oyster Mushrooms on Foodista
42. Jicama Slaw
43. Pumpkin Edamame Ginger Dumplings (Kitchen Club NYC)
44. Hemp Milk Hemp Milk on Foodista
45. Rose Champagne Champagne on Foodista
46. Fuyu
47. Raw Avocado-Coconut Soup
48. Tofu or Chik’n Pesto Sandwich
49. Apple-Lemon-Ginger-Cayenne fresh-pressed juice…with Extra Ginger
50. Grilled Seitan
51. Prickly pear Cactus Pear on Foodista
52. Fresh Pressed Almond Milk Almond Milk on Foodista
53. Concord Grapes off the vine
54. Ramps
55. Coconut Water fresh from a young coconut
56. Organic Arugula Arugula on Foodista
57. Vidalia Onion Vidalia Onion on Foodista
58. Sampler of organic produce from Diamond Organics
59. Honeycrisp Apple
60. Poi Poi on Foodista
61. Vegan Campfire-toasted Smores
62. Grapeseed Oil Grape Seed Oil on Foodista
63. Farm fresh-picked Peach Peach on Foodista
64. Freshly-made pita bread with freshly-made hummus Grilled Pita on Foodista
65. Chestnut Snack Packs
66. Fresh Guava Guava on Foodista
67. Mint Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
68. Mallomarfrom One Lucky Duck, nyc
69. Fried plantains
70. Mache
71. Golden Beets Golden Beet on Foodista
72. Barrel-Fresh Pickles Pickles on Foodista
73. Liquid Smoke Liquid Smoke on Foodista
74. Meyer Lemon Meyer Lemon on Foodista
75. Veggie Paella Vegetarian Paella on Foodista
76. Vegan Lasagna (raw optional)
77. Kombucha Kombucha on Foodista
78. Homemade Soy Milk
79. Lapsang souchong Lapsang Souchong Black Tea on Foodista
80. Lychee Bellini
81. Tempeh Bacon
82. Sprouted Grain Bread
83. Lemon Pepper Tempeh
84. Vanilla Bean Vanilla Bean on Foodista
85. Watercress
86. Carrot you pulled out of the ground yourself Carrot on Foodista
87. Vegan In-Season Fruit Pie
88. Flowers
89. Corn Chowder
90. High Quality Vegan Raw Chocolate
91. Yellow fuzz-free Kiwi Golden Kiwi  on Foodista
92. White Flesh Grapefruit
93. harissa Harissa on Foodista
94. Coconut Oil Coconut Oil on Foodista
95. Jackfruit Jackfruit on Foodista
96. Homemade Risotto
97. Spirulina
98. Seedless ‘Pixie’ Tangerine
99. Gourmet Sorbet, not store bought
100. Fresh Plucked English Peas

Gott Sei Mit Dir





By Neil Young



   Sep 29, 2004

   The full moon comes over the hills as I drive home early in the AM. A full night behind, the warmth of home ahead of me, the realization that life is full of twists and turns just like the road I drive.

   The full moon often makes me think of the many places I’ve watched that great orb rise and settle down.

   Some of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen has been the moon lowering itself into the Western sea. That great Pacific Ocean that lies not too far from home. Great glossy sea, smooth with the oils from the kelp, shining the reflection of the moon back into the dark sky. The moon can drown out the stars with its reflecting brilliance.

   There are times that the moon takes up the reflection of the sun from the earth. These are the times that we see the dark moon, but it has that curiously light aspect to it. Not the full moon shining like we usually associate with the lunar light. This is actually the reflection of the sun off the Earth lighting up the moon in a shallow imitation of it’s full-moon brilliance. This is a parlor trick of God as He plays with His great polished mirrors that He so long ago set spinning in the vastness of space when He took His first days foray into creation. This back-shining is called ‘Gegenschein’, which is German for something like ‘reflected back’.

   As I drive along looking at the moon, seeing the silver light shine upon the fields and hills around me, I can’t help but remember the words that my Grandmother once told me of her life on the farm in Hungary before the Nazis came. They had a large farm, and were well-to-do by the standards of the time and area. They had fields, orchards, and livestock. They did all their farming with animals and human power and all in the family worked long and hard to enable them to have a full larder before the winter snows would drown the fields in a carpet of white.

   When the harvest of wheat was ripening the work would be long and hard. Yet the mid-days were still hot. My grandmother told me they would wake at about two AM, and the old women would have already prepared coffee and baked rolls with lots of sugar for energy. The workers and family would all eat and then climb into the wagons for the ride to the fields where they would work harvesting the wheat by the light of the harvest moon.

   At about six AM the old women would send the young children out to the fields with cooked bacon, rolls with butter and jelly, potatoes and eggs and more coffee. All work would cease for breakfast. And then they would resume work after eating and refortifying themselves.

   The at about ten AM the children would return with a small lunch of rolls, jelly and butter, and other assorted treats. Then they would get back to work again.

   A full lunch would be sent to them at about noon, this would be a large and massive lunch consisting of chicken or pork, vegetables including always potatoes and some Cole crop such as kohlrabi or cabbage. They would also have a fair amount of homemade brandy. This large meal would make them all sleepy, and they would then go to sleep in the shade of the trees or under the wagon. This would spare them from the heat of the day.

   After a four hour break and nap they would resume working again. At about five or so a small supper would be sent out to keep them from hunger. This would be the same kinds of things they had for lunch, but in smaller quantities. Then at about eight or so they would have some more food, something with sugar for energy. they would work until about ten at night, when they would return to the house to stumble bone-tired into their beds to sleep for four hours until they woke again at two AM.


   I think about my grandmother and the hardships she endured in her life. The sadness of having her husband snatched away to die in a foreign land when she was just a young woman. Widowed at twenty-four, and then driven from her farm and the land of her ancestors by the communist government with a young daughter in tow to go penniless to another land where she was regarded with suspicion because of her accent and different clothing and eating habits.

   She was indeed a marvelous woman, and a strong and wise one. She had a tenacity that was amazing, an intuitive knack of being able to find the simple in the complex, to break all down into the simple meanings that a peasant would understand and be able to convey to a child.

   Now as I watch this moon on it’s ascent as I drive this California freeway at a time when all good and honest people should be safely tucked away into their own beds, I reflect that this is the time when she and her kin would be rising from the goose down folds of their beds and rising to the scent of fresh coffee on a cool Hungarian morning, and I am just now heading home to retire for the night.

   How is it that life has taken us all from one generation to the next in a flight from the peaceful bucolic peasant life with it’s hugely manual labor to the frenetic pace of a cyber-ponzi scheme that rushes from one moment to another at all hours of the day? She told me often that I should slow down, and take some time to enjoy my garden, not just work in it. She was trying to tell me to take the time to smell the roses.

   She is now passed on into another world for some eighteen months now, and she walks with the Lord in a land of eternal sunshine in the peaceful fields of her youth, alive with the sounds of the birds in the trees shining with green leaves. The children of a lost time run with her, free from the trauma of war-weary men who break into the house and rip up the bed sheets to make bandages for their fallen comrades and cause unspeakable damage to the innocents around them out of avarice and despair.

   She is free now from all of mankind’s ills and demons. but she left me and other people she touched with so much. So much she told us and taught us. And so much that she did not say. I can still think of her way of saying “uhuh” when she did not agree with something I was going to do. This was her subtle way of telling me that she did not agree with the outcome that I thought would ensue, but she left it to me to do as I wished and experience the outcome so I would more fully learn the lesson. Now as a result of so many decades of hearing her advice, I can imagine what she would say to almost any situation that might arise in my life. If I get that little niggling doubt in my mind I can hear her “uhuh” coming through to me warning me of a dangerous and foolhardy undertaking (I’ve had my share of those).

   So, I drive along, a smile of whist fullness on my lips, a longing to be able to hear her speak again. But I speak to her everyday, and ask God often for His help in her new life. And I know that He loves her much more than I ever could, so He holds her close to His heart always.

   There is a saying I heard once, “when you pray do not say “The Lord is in my heart”, say “I am in the heart of the Lord”". And she is in His heart.

   So, I turn from the freeway, heading to the California hills that are now my home. Two generations from the plains of Hungary, and one life from the next.

   The harvest moon rising in my eyes.

   Gott Sei Danke.


The following little prayer in German was at a site from
Bruder Titus, that I liked enough to want to include.
Because it would have meant a lot to my grandmother,
it means a lot to me.

Gott sei mit dir

Gott sei mit dir, da wo du wohnst und lebst
und schenke dir seine Gnade.
Gott sei mit dir, da wo du arbeitest
und schenke dir seine Kraft.
Gott sei mit dir, da wo du hoffst und betest
und schenke dir Erfüllung.
Gott sei mit dir, da wo du den Frieden suchst
und schenke dir Gelingen.
Gott sei mit dir, da wo du feierst
und schenke dir Freude.
Gott sei mit dir, da wo du liebst,
und schenke dir seinen Segen.

God is with you

God is with you, there where you live and love
and gives you His grace.
God is with you, there where you work
and gifts you with His strength.
God is with you, there where you hope and pray
and gives you fulfilment.
God is with you, there where you look for peace
and gives you success.
God is with you, there where you celebrate
and gives you joy.
God is with you, there where you love,
and gives you His benedictions.