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PROBE: July 31, 2001

July 31, 2001

QUESTION: We have weeds out in Seeley that Mama used to call wild mustard greens. She used to pick and cook it. Is that the Mexican green you've been writing about? — Curious, Seeley

No, but our mama used to pick wild mustard to cook with our polk salad. We have never seen or eaten verdolaga, although we have now worked up an appetite for it.

Times were tougher when we were children. A few fresh greens would perk up a steady diet of beans and rice, or in our case, beans and potatoes.

Today's housewife would not walk all over God's Little Acre picking leaves from stray weeds. She doesn't have time because she's working. Because she's working, it makes sense to pick up a can, package or bunch of greens in the store.


We don't think the country housewives in the 1940s and 1950s minded. With no job, no television and maybe no close neighbors, it gave the housewife something to do.

According to a retired federal agricultural employee, verdolaga was known as Mexican spinach. The English name was pursalane. According to the dictionary, pursalane belongs to a plant family that includes daytonia and the portalucca. The small spinach-like leaves grow on pink fleshy steams. The plant produces tiny, short-lived flowers.

QUESTION: When Attorney General John Ashcroft came to the Valley to discuss border problems, why did he snub Robert Rubio, John Hunter, Martin Mercado and other people trying to save lives in the desert? We heard the Imperial Irrigation District didn't want to open the meeting to the public. — Snubbed, Calexico

IID didn't have anything to do with Ashcroft's visit to the Valley, said IID spokeswoman Sue Giller.

Maybe Ashcroft didn't want to talk to the group leaders. He didn't endorse stringing ropes, or "lifelines," across the All-American Canal. He didn't say anything about stashing water in the desert for thirsty crossers.

He issued awards to four Border Patrol officers and announced the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service will add 100 high-powered lights along a 10-mile stretch of canal and that the Border Patrol will deploy the elite BORSTAR (border search, trauma and rescue) units in El Centro and Yuma to save lives.

QUESTION: My son writes Mexican corridos, or songs. There is a Mexican group that wants to record them. How can he copyright them first? — Mom, Brawley

If the songs are sheet music, tell him to draw a circle with a C in the middle on the music sheet. He should also write somewhere on the music that the song is copyrighted to him and put his name on it.

Now he should stick the song in an envelope and mail it to himself. Make sure it is postmarked. The postmark will be evidence of when your son copyrighted the music and that he owned it on that date.

We suppose if the song is on a cassette tape, you could do the same thing. He should put the C in a circle on the label, put the cassette in a manila envelope and mail it to himself.

The best way you copyright original material, however, is through the Library of Congress. Sheet music, including the lyrics of the song, is the best way, although a lyric sheet and a cassette tape will suffice.

While there is a fee for copyrighting each piece of music, a Library of Congress-endorsed copyright will stand up in any court, something we're not exactly sure mailing a tape to yourself or writing a big C will accomplish.

For copyright forms and information, go to the Library of Congress' Web site at and click on the copyright office link.

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