Friday, November 30, 2012

Buttermilk or not Buttermilk

Mom and Dad didn't Bake. 
My sister Pat only baked a few things.  I'm thinking fondly about my sister's Irish Soda Bread that we had after she had Home-Ec at school.   She made it for a good while then we all moved onto other things.

I baked more than the rest, but there was always something else to do.

Now that it is the Holiday Season, it is the Baking Season for me and I'm finding myself looking critically at my recipes.  After all, it has to be fairly sturdy to make the 1200 mile trip to New Jersey.  I can't make things that spoil at "room temperature", even if that room is the back of a USPS truck in a late Autumn temperature band. 

That leaves out un-canned Jellies and Jams.   Mostly cookies and candies, which are always well received.

The breads I make are fine but by the time they churn through 5 to 7 days in the box from the Post, they'd be stale.

That also leaves out my biscuits.

My biscuits are made completely from scratch.   While I don't grind my own self-rising flour, I do churn my own butter and use it along with the buttermilk to make the biscuits.  Got a food processor?  Add a pint of whipping cream to it, turn it on with the cutter blade, and walk away for about 5 minutes.   You will end up with some of the worlds best unsalted butter and a pool of buttermilk.

The thing is that there are at least three different kinds of buttermilk.

The stuff that is leftover from the churning has lumps of butter floating in it unless you strain it is the good stuff.  For baking purposes, a little extra butterfat is always welcome.  If you taste that stuff, it is rather bland.  Think of skim milk that has been skimmed again until almost all of the taste is gone.

That is the "Original" Buttermilk.  That stuff is wonderful in making recipes that call for it, but it is very hard to get at the stores unless you know a friendly farmer's wife.   Or me I guess.

So what do you do if you really need the stuff?

The buttermilk you find in the stores is a thick clumpy brew.  More like Yogurt, it's also quite sour.  That is the kind of buttermilk that most recipes actually expect you to use for the acidic tang. 

I wouldn't recommend drinking it because our tastes don't really go for that sour taste these days.  I tried it once and found it ... vile.

So what do you do if you're baking, have a recipe that calls for Buttermilk and don't feel like hitching up the horse and buggy to go to the local farmer's market?

  • Take one cup of milk.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar.
  • Allow to "brew" for at least 5 minutes.

The vinegar will change the taste depending on what you are making.   If it is to be a sweet recipe, try Balsamic vinegar.  

Luckily there is no need for buttermilk in the cookies I'm planning on making.  There is a need for butter so it gives me an excuse to use up that last bit of cream that is in the refrigerator.  Better to make butter instead of making whipped cream!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Haunting in my Florida Room

Got Wifi?  Check.
Got a computer that needs updating?  Check.
Frustrated with a potential of a 6 hour download?  Check.

Time to migrate.

The open high speed Ethernet in the house is in the Florida room.  In case you live outside of Florida, it's still a Florida Room if it has windows all around but is fully enclosed.  I used to hear them called Solarium, but in this case since I am in Florida...

The problem with mine is that it isn't as well insulated as it could be.  Beautiful exposed wood stained chocolate brown, single pane jalousie windows that look out through the Bougainvillea to the swimming pool, and screens when the weather is nice.  That's about 8 or 9 months of the year here.

I picked up the computer, plugged it in, and the thing immediately went fast.  Oooo!  Speedy!  That 5 hours went to 15 minutes. 

That is just enough time for the mind to wander while the vagarities of the internet, the process of updates, and the newness of sitting in the room for the first time in a long time came to me.

In other words, bored.   It was past 10 at night and I wanted to look at something funny.  Turning on the TV that serves as a 32 inch monitor for the computers at my desk, I failed to find something funny since channel surfing found a lot of Spanish Language programming and Saturday Night Live.

Holiday Themed Sketches with Will Farrell dressed as a giant elf are funny for about 3 minutes and 43 seconds exactly.

All the while, I heard tapping, tapping at my chamber door.

What's that?


I looked up for the accursed Raven and didn't see one through the windows.   Note to self: Time to clean the windows.

Went back to Weekend Update on Wednesday Night and saw "Uncle Drunk" acting incoherent when there was more tapping at my chamber door.

This time I pulled out the big guns.   Went hunting for the flashlight that would better be described as a weapon.   It puts out a 75 watt light into a beam the thickness of a pencil.  Do Not Look Directly Into The Light, Carol Ann!

No Raven.
No Iguana.
Not even a disturbed Tree Rat.

I did hear the constant Tick Tick Tick of the Quartz Clock when I decided to switch off the TV.  That was about all until...

Tap Tap Tap.  

The only other possibility that it could be was...

RAIN!  For the first time in three weeks!

All is well, the rain sounds like a Raven, my dear Edgar Allan Poe.  Funny how the mind wanders!

Sitting in the same room 12 hours later in the sun, and looking at the windows that need attention, things are a little more settled in my little patch of Tropical Paradise.   Wind Chimes making music on the breeze, sun reflecting off the water making patterns on the chocolate wood, and a pigeon coming by for the daily visit to my own Oscar the Parrot. 

All is right with the world.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

If you can't groom your best friends, who can you groom?

This morning, I committed a grievous offense.

Waking well before dawn, as seems to be habit, my feet touched the floor, or as close to the floor as I could.  I tried quietly to grab my socks from their spot on my shoes next to the bed but then she was on me.  

Dark in the predawn hour, she was a flash of black and grey,  a wet nose on my knee as I slipped the one sock onto my foot.  Yes, my faithful sidekick had slept with one eye open awaiting the time where I'd be ready to be here to entertain her. 

My Dog Lettie.

Just turned 12, as best we know, she moves stiffly when she wakes but still spry enough to be excited when she sees me move from one spot in the house to another.   What's Next Dad! is what she seems to be saying, ready for all comers.

We moved into the bathroom, as soon as she got her invitation, and I closed the door.

I went about my morning ablutions, half awake, thinking of nothing but the morning haze as the phone went about its business of turning itself on and gathering up the information I needed to decide how to dress for the day.  

Absentmindedly I looked down at my mostly black companion and thought that she needed some loose fur groomed.  There were, shudder, little clumps of grey undercoat that were loose and needed tending to!

So half awake, I reached down and began to remove them.   Pluck is too strong a word, more like coax them out of her thatch.

This was when she turned from the friendly sweet dog we all know and love to ... Cujo.

Too well mannered to act on her extreme displeasure of the indignity of the act, she started by breathing heavily.  That escalated quickly.

Breathing became a low rumble.
The lips curled away to show still sharp teeth.
The low rumble turned into a throttled breath and a growl to bring fear in the heart of a lesser man.

Through all of this I was busily removing some of the unneeded disconnected undercoat and gathering it up to be placed into the little painted bamboo trash can kept for just such emergencies.

She was, decidedly, unhappy with the action.

Finishing up, I left the little room, the little trashcan with a chihuahua sized pile of fur in the bottom, and the little door was opened.   Out like a shadow in the dark escaped the herding dog to the open prairies of the living room.

Signing to her that she needed to go out and water the grass, she sheepishly looked at me and ambled outside to do her business.

Later during her official walk, she kept well out to the end of the leash, wary of another evil grooming session.  You see that was only one of the haunches that was cleared of loose fur. 

Groom all you want, we can make more!

By the time we got back all was forgotten.   She was back to begging for scraps of Bagel with Lemon Curd and Cream Cheese, Fruit from the Oatmeal, and wondering why I was perfuming the backyard with roasting coffee.  We're back to being best friends again. 

If you can't groom your best friends, who can you groom?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Better to Cyber Monday than Stand in Line on Black Friday

Better yet still to shop locally, but this is a different thing.

You see this was supposed to have been the biggest Cyber Monday yet.  Cyber Monday is that day when everyone goes to work after the long Thanksgiving weekend having stood in line on Black Friday and the weekend.  Now that you have missed one or two things, you're banging away at the office internet trying not to get caught shopping online.

The reality is even if you spent more online on Monday, you probably saved over going through the hour long wait at the big box store for the same item.

Think about it.   Spend an hour in line.   It took you 30 minutes to get there.   It cost you a gallon of gas round trip, maybe more.  That hour and a half in transit if you make $50K a year is worth about $37 for a savings of maybe 10 or 20 dollars if you actually found the item you were looking for.

Still better to shop locally where the majority of the money you spend stays in the city or county you live in, but some simply don't see it that way.

So if you stood on line for a Midnight Madness sale I hope you got your things.  You gave the rest of us some entertainment.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Need Help Thinking? Maybe it is too Quiet

Stumbled across this one the other day.  Apparently if the room is too quiet or too loud, your mind finds other things to do.  At the Goldilocks zone of just right, you are more creative.

As intros go that isn't one of my best ones. 

See anyone who has lived with me or visited me for any length of time will tell you there is always some sort of noise going on in the house.  

Always except when I'm sleeping, then it's the ear plugs.

It helps clear the mind and allow you to concentrate on tasks. 

The idea is that you need some "Ambient" background noise to help you detach from the random noises that will break your concentration.  The bird outside, the car horn a block away, the approaching train a mile and a half away at 4:30 in the morning on the FEC tracks a mile off.   Having a noise that you choose in the background that is loud enough to overpower the ice cube maker in the kitchen helps you maintain a nice easy pace.

I'd suggest a mid tempo Dance station or a Classical Pops format, but that's my taste. 

If you listen to talk radio, especially someone like Rush Limbaugh, you would be wrong.   No, I am sorry, wrong.  There is never a time where it is appropriate to listen to a fool like that one or any other shouter.

The sweet spot is roughly 70db which is a "comfortable" listening level for background music in the living room.   Any more than that it will get the parrot talking to the singer.   That would be wrong as well, even if it is his house too.

So next time you get the urge to turn on some music and think that it's a distraction, it isn't.  Enjoy.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Uses for Bounce Dryer Sheets

Velma wanted me to file this one under Helpful Hints.   We all have them around or could get them quickly, but on the other hand I will say that I was told the worst place to use a dryer sheet is in the dryer.  The "active ingredient" is turned into a gas by the heat of the dryer.  When it cools, it coats the elements inside the dryer and over the years it will clog the dryer up.

So I'll say they're best to use on Someone Else's Dryer.

Bounce Dryer Sheets

The U.S. Postal service sent out a message to all letter carriers to put a sheet of Bounce in their uniform pockets to keep yellow-jackets away.

Use them all the time when playing baseball and soccer. I use it when I am working outside. It really works. The insects just veer around you. All this time you've just been putting Bounce in the dryer!
1. It will chase ants away when you lay a sheet near them. It also repels mice.
2. Spread sheets around foundation areas, or in trailers, or cars that are sitting and it keeps mice from entering your vehicle.
3. It takes the odor out of books and photo albums that don't get opened too often.
4. It repels mosquitoes. Tie a sheet of Bounce through a belt loop when outdoors during mosquito season.
5. Eliminate static electricity from your television (or computer) screen.
6. Since Bounce is designed to help eliminate static cling, wipe your television screen with a used sheet of Bounce to keep dust from resettling..
7. Dissolve soap scum from shower doors. Clean with a sheet of Bounce.
8. To freshen the air in your home - Place an individual sheet of Bounce in a drawer or hang in the closet.
9. Put Bounce sheet in vacuum cleaner.
10. Prevent thread from tangling. Run a threaded needle through a sheet of Bounce before beginning to sew.
11. Prevent musty suitcases. Place an individual sheet of Bounce inside empty luggage before storing.
12. To freshen the air in your car - Place a sheet of Bounce under the front seat.
13. Clean baked-on foods from a cooking pan. Put a sheet in a pan, fill with water, let sit overnight, and sponge clean. The anti-static agent apparently weakens the bond between the food and the pan.     
14. Eliminate odors in wastebaskets. Place a sheet of Bounce at the bottom of the wastebasket.
15. Collect cat hair. Rubbing the area with a sheet of Bounce will magnetically attract all the loose hairs.
16. Eliminate static electricity from Venetian blinds.. Wipe the blinds with a sheet of Bounce to prevent dust from resettling.
17. Wipe up sawdust from drilling or sand papering. A used sheet of Bounce will collect sawdust like a tack cloth.
18. Eliminate odors in dirty laundry. Place an individual sheet of Bounce at the bottom of a laundry bag or hamper.
19. Deodorize shoes or sneakers. Place a sheet of Bounce in your shoes or sneakers overnight.
20. Golfers put a Bounce sheet in their back pocket to keep the bees away.
21. Put a Bounce sheet in your sleeping bag and tent before folding and storing them. It will keep them smelling fresh.
22. Wet a Bounce sheet, hose down your car, and wipe love bugs off easily with the wet Bounce.
23. Put a sheet of Bounce in your suitcase when traveling, it will help keep mites or any other critters out of it. While you are at it, travel with several Bounce sheets and run them up and down your bed linen before getting into bed, it will cause all the critters already in your bed to run. Keep a sheet in your suitcase even after you have unpacked to protect your suitcases from bugs nesting in it.

Quick, bounce this on within the next 5 minutes! Nothing will happen if you don't, but your friends will be glad to hear these hints!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Seeing Eye Dog - Humor

Personally, I'm with the bouncer.  Don't really care for dogs in bars and restaurants since they're rarely well trained and not exactly hygenic.  On the other hand there are reasonable exclusions for seeing eye dogs.

Just not like this one...

Two women were out for a Saturday stroll. One had a Doberman and the other, a Chihuahua . As they walked down the street, the one with the Doberman Said to her friend, "Let's go over to that bar for a drink."

The lady with the Chihuahua said, "We can't go in there.  We've got dogs with us."

The one with the Doberman said, "Just watch, and do as I do."

They walked over to the bar and the one with the Doberman put on a pair of dark glasses and started to walk in.
The bouncer at the door said, "Sorry, lady, no pets allowed."
The woman with the Doberman said, "You don't understand.  This is my seeing-eye dog."
The bouncer said, "A Doberman?"
The woman said, "Yes, they're using them now. They're very good."
The bouncer said, "OK, come on in."
The lady with the Chihuahua thought that convincing him that a Chihuahua was a seeing-eye dog may be a bit more difficult, but thought,"What the heck," so she put on her dark glasses and started to walk in.

Once again the bouncer said, "Sorry, lady, no pets allowed."
The woman said, "You don't understand. This is my seeing-eye dog"

The bouncer said, "A Chihuahua?"
The woman with the Chihuahua said,

"A Chihuahua? They gave me a freaking Chihuahua ?!"

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving for Turnover Friday

Now just what are you going to do with a freezer full of Thanksgiving Turkey, Stuffing, leftover Veg, and all the rest?

Feed it to the Dog?
Pass some to the single neighbor that is a shut in?
Toss it away?

No, don't do that, especially tossing it away.  That's just wrong.

Every year while some poor sap is standing in line for the so called Deals on Black Friday, I've made it a point to avoid all the mess and properly "prepare" my leftovers.

No, this isn't a recipe, more like an idea. 

Since I make the best biscuits on the island, and actually like to cook, I'm going to combine some things.  That recipe for biscuits gets hit almost every day, so if you really want to go for scratch biscuits, take a quick look at this.  On the other hand, since there is so much flavor in leftover Thanksgiving Dinner foods, you can get by with that box of bisquick that has been hiding in the back of the cupboard since 2007.

Like I said it isn't a recipe, more like a process.   It goes as follows:

First make up some biscuit batter however you make the stuff.  The baking comes up later.

Second, grab some biscuit dough.  You will need a biscuit sized clump of the stuff.

Third, Roll the biscuit dough as flat as you can.   You will need a well floured surface since biscuit batter can be quite sticky.

Fourth, place a serving of Turkey in the middle of that dough.  Place on top of the turkey some of the stuffing, a little cranberry, and maybe a little of the yams that you may have around.   Oh and if you make good yams, lets talk.  I love the stuff.

Fifth, fold the biscuit dough over top of the pile of thanksgiving goodness.   You just formed a turnover.   It is exactly like a ravioli since you'll need to crimp the edges with a fork to hold all that food inside of the pocket.

Finally, repeat the above steps until you have used up your leftovers, your biscuit dough, or your patience.   Bake in the oven as the biscuit recipe would call for - typically 450F for about 10 to 12 minutes.

Sure it will take some practice to get the amount of food in the biscuit right, but it's worth it.  When baked, they will come out of the oven warm but not overdone.  All the fat in the stuffing will make the turkey moist and tasty, the spices are always better on the second day, and you are making a good use out of something that might get a bit annoying toward the end of the week.

If you really like the results, I've done the same process by lining a pie pan with biscuit batter in a thin layer, piling the leftovers in, and then covering it all with another layer.   It's a dead simple way of making a "Pot Pie" or a savory main dish.

Now if you will excuse me, I've made myself hungry.  I've got to make some butter and buttermilk!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

And if you fall asleep after having too much turkey, it isn't the turkey that is making you tired...

It's the Too Much!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Firefox 17 is out, but not for Old Macs

I haven't upgraded Firefox here to this version.  Maybe later today...

Firefox 17 has been released.   Most of those out there will get a little message saying "Hey, I've upgraded, click this and make all your problems go away.   I do mine Manually since I don't want to have to completely back out of my browser windows and stop what I am doing.

Firefox has been excellent for me.  I don't want to use another alternate browser such as Chrome or Opera.  I will stay here on Firefox for a while until its time to move on. 

The newest version of Firefox offers integration into the social networks.  I fail to see why that is needed, it just sounds like a massive security and privacy hole, but there really isn't that much privacy left unless you want to stick your head in the sand.   That's why I manage what I say online fairly closely, you should too.

There are also other features that will be helpful to the user and you can find the complete list here.

That Mac problem though ...

I support a few folks on Mac here.  It's a pleasant experience and to say I support them is a major exaggeration.  It's more like I get an occasional question and they go off into their happy world where Unicorns roam free and your kitchen sink gives you hot, cold, and Hot Chocolate.  

I even have a Mac here, but it is an aging beast that is really well past it's prime.   The old PowerPC platform is the problem.  When the sainted and departed Steve Jobs deigned that it was time to make the move to the same Intel hardware that most of us use in our desktops and laptops, he also said that he would limit the support to the old PowerPC platform to two more revisions of the OSX operating system.

Now we are three versions past that, at least another 5 years along.   Those machines are still around and if you believe the "Apple Distortion Field" they're heavily in demand.

They aren't but people who have them are trying to sell them like they are.

The biggest problem with modern computing is the Browser.  It's a huge security problem because it is where we do most of our "work".  Since all the major browser programs are stopping support for the older operating systems, you can look forward to more and more spam from friends who are on those computers because they surfed a "bad" page and now have a virus.

Their last modern browser is Opera.  These holdouts on Tiger and Leopard need to stop using anything else and switch over.  It's a modern browser that has all the things we've come to depend on and works fairly well.

If that isn't what they want to do, there's always LinuxLinux is a thriving operating system platform that is currently being supported on the ancient hardware.  I can say from personal experience that Linux on PowerPC runs amazingly well and actually faster than the Mac OSX that I replaced it with.  It won't run the usual programs in the Mac world so it means keeping the old hardware or buying a new computer.  On the other hand, you can run MOST windows programs on Linux using Wine.  I've run Wine in the past and it works well.

There you have it!  Happy updating!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Permanent Celery - Revive your Vegetables for Extra Freshness

You may be scratching your head now.  You may be asking "Has he lost his mind?  Permanent Celery?".  

There are a couple things going on here.

The story was that it's a couple days before Thanksgiving and we needed some Celery for the Stuffing.   Pretty simple, it's easy to find Celery in every market.  

Left to our own devices, we don't tend to eat a lot of the stuff so we bought the smallest stalk we could find.   When I got it home, it was sad and wilted.  There was one piece of Celery that was so limp that it bent over at a 45 degree angle. 

It also is the majority of a plant, and having always had plants around me, I knew that I could try to help it along with a little water.

It worked.   I found the largest pickle jar I had on hand, splashed an inch of water into the bottom, plopped the celery stalk in the jar and walked away.

Over the next two days, my little lab experiment firmed up very nicely.   The celery now is absolutely firm and crisp.   I have live food. 

It is one of those things that if you come across some vegetable that is getting a bit old, toss it in a shallow pan of water and it SHOULD pick up the water and come alive.

There is also a second part to this story.

When you chop your Celery, remember to leave an inch or two of the bottom of the plant.  Even if you cut all the way through your stalk, you can take that little slug and plant it in the garden.   Water it liberally and you will have a Permanent Celery Plant.   The Celery will take root and grow new Celery for you.   Since most people don't really use a LOT of the stuff, you may even find that you won't have to buy much Celery since you can just wander to the garden and pick a little when needed. 

After the holiday, the remnants of my little pickle jar will end up in the garden next to my cactus and my pineapple plants.   It's a little oddball, but why not?  After all, who doesn't like fresh food?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Rocky Road Fudge Recipe and Picture

Every year around this time, I begin baking in earnest.

 I find some recipes that I have enjoyed and try them out once before I bake them to send away.  Needless to say, I enjoy baking.  I'm a competent cook but an excellent baker.

Making fudge was one of those things that my parents would never try.   I found it to be so easy that I wouldn't hesitate trying it with a child or a person who doesn't know the first thing about cooking.

Chocolate will melt at 86F.  If you get it too hot, it won't melt faster, it will scorch.   So the best way to melt chocolate is in a water bath called a Bain Marie.  Fancy name for a real simple process.

First get a sauce pan and add water.   I would say fill it 1/3 to 1/2 with water.   Bring that water to a boil. 

Place on top of the sauce pan an bowl that will withstand the heat.  The size of the bowl should be large enough that it will fit on top of the sauce pan but not fall in.   The water in the sauce pan should not touch the bottom of the bowl so that it is floating on top.  The steam from the water will do the work for you, remember you want a gentle heat.

Simple right?

Now the fudge recipe.


18 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup peanuts, pecans, or other unsalted nuts, coarsely chopped
2 cups mini-marshmallows


Prepare an 8 inch square Baking Pan by lining it with Aluminium foil.

The foil should line the bottom and the sides and will be draped over the top to anchor it when you pour the fudge in to set.

Grease the foil with unsalted butter.

Mix the Chocolate, Baking Soda, and Salt together to coat everything.
Add the Nuts to the Chocolate and mix evenly.
Place the Nuts and Chocolate mixture in the Bain Marie.
Add Vanilla Extract and Sweetened Condensed Milk.
Stir the mixture with the spatula until smooth and the Chocolate Mixture has melted.
Add the Mini Marshmallows and stir briefly until evenly mixed.

Pour the fudge into the lined baking dish.
Smooth the fudge out evenly and place the baking dish in the refrigerator to cool until firm.

Enjoy.  The recipe turned out perfectly when I made it this weekend.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Don't Mess with Old People - Humor

Continuing with the Old People Humor, Diane had sent me this particular story about a man in the hospital. 

Harold was an old man. He was sick and in the hospital.

There was one nurse that just drove him crazy. Every time she came in, she would talk to him like he was a little child.

She would say in a patronizing tone of voice, 'And how are we doing this morning', or 'Are we ready for a bath', or 'Are we hungry?'

Old Harold had had enough of this particular nurse. One day, at breakfast, Old Harold took the apple juice off the tray and put it in his bed side stand.

Next, he was given a urine bottle to fill for testing, so you know where the juice went!

The nurse came in a little later, picked up the urine bottle and looked at it. 'My, it seems we are a little cloudy today. '

At this, Old Harold snatched the bottle out of her hand, popped off the top, and drank it down, saying, 'Well, I'll run it through again. Maybe I can filter it better this time.'

The nurse fainted!
Old Harold just smiled!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

An 86 Year Old Has a Check-up

When you hear a story, sometimes you just have to suspend belief.  Other things I never get to suspend belief because the story is just too silly for words - that's why I'm not a fan of James Bond movies.

In this case...

An 86-year-old man went to his doctor for his quarterly check-up...

The doctor asked him how he was feeling, and the 86-year-old said, 'Things are great and I've never felt better. I now have a 20 year-old bride who is pregnant with my child.. So what do you think about that Doc?'

The doctor considered his question for a minute and then began to tell a story.  'I have an older friend , much like you, who is an avid hunter and never misses a season.'

One day he was setting off to go hunting. In a bit of a hurry, he accidentally picked up his walking cane instead of his gun. As he neared a lake, he came across a very large male beaver sitting at the water's edge.

He realized he'd left his gun at home and so he couldn't shoot the magnificent creature. Out of habit he raised his cane, aimed it at the animal as if it were his favorite hunting rifle and went 'bang, bang'. Miraculously, two shots rang out and the beaver fell over dead. Now, what do you think of that ?' asked the doctor.

The 86-year-old said, 'Logic would strongly suggest that somebody else pumped a couple of rounds into that beaver.'

"My point exactly", said the doctor.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Anatomy of Waiting on the Plumber

Ok, shower's done.

Tap tap tap.
Read some more.
Make coffee.
Tap tap tap.
Car passing by.  Is it him?  Nope.
Tap tap tap.
Pick up the spare phone, headphones, other grab-able things.
Tap tap tap.
Obsessively clean the kitchen sink.  
Empty the dishwasher. 
Fill the dishwasher.
Bake bread?  Nah.
Finish breakfast.
Read some more.
Tap tap tap.
Grab the dog mat.  Move her under the table by the window.
Sequester the dog in the new Dog Cave.
Read some more.
Tap tap tap.
Car passing by.  Is it him?  Nope.
Tap tap tap.
UPS!  Aww, not for me.
Skip commercial on the radio.
*RUMBLE* It's a truck.
*THUMP* Construction trusses arrive for new homes.
*BANG* What was that?
Never found out.
Oooh great song!
*Urp!* Hello!  Good Morning!  *brakkk*  Hi Oscar.
The dog rejects Dog Cave and goes back to normal spot.
Finish clearing sink.
White Van! Awww, just a neighbor.
Read some more.
Can't concentrate.
Read some more.

Time to call the Plumber and find out why he didn't show.
Sometime this morning?
No bathroom sink today, may as well finish caulking the tub.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Caulking The Tub - Filling A Very Large Gap

This house has its quirks.  The bathtub settled "funny" and the side of the tub against the outside wall has a very large gap between the tub and the tiles.  I could use a 1/4 round bullnose to cover it up but I am not certain my tiling skills are up to the task. 

I've been pumping tube after tube of tub caulk into the gap since we moved in here.  So much in fact that one time I did the caulking, the last bit of caulk never cured solid.

This made me think about ways to finish this off once and for all.   I considered using stucco or another stiff cement, but they crack.  The use of a silicone tub caulk for that gap is best since you're going to get in that tub and it needs to flex with your weight.

No, I'm not calling you fat!

I considered many other materials from Rubber to Putty and all of them had the same problem, they cure either too rigid or will crack when you use a lot of it.

So here's what I came up with, Soft Vinyl Tubing.   The tubing I selected was approximately twice the outer diameter of the gap.  Yes, I winged it.  I guessed and guessed right on the first try.

The idea is that you flatten the tubing and slide it in the gap.  It will expand and allow you caulk over the area without it looking odd.  Just make sure it is fully behind the gap so that you can get a smooth application of caulk that is thin enough not to crack, but thick enough to be resilient when the tub is full.

The tubing I used was large enough that it fit firmly in the gap.  Simply use a large screwdriver or putty knife to nudge the tubing into the gap so that it is in place.  Make sure that the tool you use to place the tubing is blunt.  I found that a larger screwdriver was preferable than a smaller one or a putty knife because the vinyl tubing would give way and even allow the screwdriver to break through.

Since these gaps are not going to be even, I was able to slit the tubing so that instead of being round, it looked like a "C".  That made it less rigid and I could slide it into the tight corners easier.  On the other sides of the tub that did not have as large a gap, I used a smaller diameter of tubing that was from a window screen repair kit and even had to slit that to fill the smallest gaps.

It will take some finesse to figure out just how large you should get the tubing, but it eventually worked.  I was able to use about 1/2 of a tube of caulk to give the tub a first coat, and will finish it off with another 1/2 tube.  That's a lot better than the slug of caulk from three or four tubes that I had used the last time through.

Remember, when caulking, clean surfaces as much as possible, and do not use caulk on a wet area.  If you have to use the tub again before it has cured, use some tape to cover the area but do not touch the caulk with the tape until it has dried completely.  Curing time for the caulk I used was 2 hours to "skin over" and 24 hours until solid.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Clumsy Moose Plumbing, At Your Service!

When you put one 6'4" Moose of a Man in a small space and expect him to do some home repair, every so often you get one of those I Love Lucy Moments.

Mine was last night.

I have the seemingly annual task of Caulking the Tub at hand.  The caulk is kept under the vanity where it was the last time I did the work.  There's a deep gap between the tub and the wall and it seems to only hold for about a year before the caulk has separated from the wall and cracked.

Last night I finally had the time and materials to begin that task.  All the materials were under the sink, so after gathering the tools, I went into the bathroom.  Pawing at the odds and ends that gravitate to the vanity in any given house, I needed to get down to the floor to reach the three tubes of caulk that were back there in the hidden recesses.

That's where my undoing came.

I had one hand on the vanity and began to bend at the knees into a squat position.  Bad idea.  My one foot slipped on something unseen, and I began to go the rest of the way down onto the floor. 


Slamming my back against the wall and knocking some of the breath out of my lungs, my head lightly tapped the boards behind me and I realized that something else happened.

My left hand was still on the vanity that was now another 2 to 3 inches away from the wall.

Something most folks don't realize, copper pipes in sinks tend to very slowly erode.  After all, that green coloring on copper is copper oxide - basically rust.   Water plus copper will combine, although it will take a very long time to do it unlike iron.   That copper oxide will wash away and the pipe will slowly degrade.  Add to it some of the chemicals that people tend to use to unblock a sink and you end up with a shattered and paper thin pipe.

We'll be having a new vanity, sink, faucet and a few other things installed on Friday.  It's going to be a busy day.  At least I was able to get the first pass of the tub caulking and fill done using some special methods and materials.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pinche Taqueria's New Chef Cooked Up An Improvement

When it comes to Mexican Food, I'm fond of quoting a scene from Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations.

Mr Bourdain took his friend, the Chief Chef at Les Halle in Manhattan to visit his mother in Mexico.  She had them over for a "Traditional Mexican Dinner" and there was one comment that this Abuelita made that sticks with me.  I'll paraphrase it.   She said that she loved the fact that she could come to the United States and get good Mexican food but "It's too Spicy Up There".

Mexican Food has a rich heritage.  There are distinct regional specialties.  The food that the Abuelita was used to eating and making in Manzanillo will be quite different than that in Mexico City for example.   What we are used to in the United States is Tex Mex.   Tex Mex has it's own charm but I've found I really don't care for the heat either.

I prefer Savory and that is what Pinche Taqueria has been making since they opened.  I'll leave that Five Alarm Chili to the rest of you, I came to the conclusion that Food Shouldn't Hurt.

When I go to a Mexican restaurant, for me it is usually Pork.  Specifically Carnitas, which is a savory mix of slow cooked Pork and spices.  Served on a flour tortilla open faced with some onion and perhaps cilantro, the salsa will be on the side.   Mild for me, Spicy for everyone else I guess.

I first went to Pinche Taqueria on Wilton Drive across from City Hall before the Official Opening and a few times after that.   I found that their Carnitas had the right spices, but was a wee bit on the dry side. 

All that has changed.  They now have a new head chef, and he knows what he's doing with my Pork!

The spice mix is still what I expect in my Carnitas, but there was a change in the preparation.  It was moist.  Before it was indifferently overcooked, now it was simply wonderful. 

The new head chef was the person who led the kitchen at the nearby Alibi for the last couple years.  Under his guidance, Alibi bar has won the Best Burger in Broward competition.  I can vouch for that burger as well, it is excellent. 

Now at Pinche Taqueria, his creativity and strength shows through.   There's a new menu, and a new technique at making the food.  It's done quite well and I'll absolutely go back.  Their Fish Tacos were great before, and I'm looking forward to see what he's done with them.   They were moist and tasty before, but I can only expect them to be better.

The reviews on Yelp certainly show the change.  People were not coming back and changing the chief Chef absolutely had an effect.  The Chips are crisp, the Portions are larger, the food better prepared.

Oh one last one thing - if you do go there, have the Mojito.  Unlike everywhere else I have had a Mojito, this was sweet but not syrupy.   You can actually taste the flavors of all the ingredients instead of feeling like you are drinking flavored corn syrup.  If there is a drinks competition, their Mojito wins, at least with me.

Monday, November 12, 2012

My Aunt and Uncle - Picture

Going through the shed, I found some old memories tucked away in a cardboard box in the form of some 20 plus year old pictures. 

Betty and Sal always looked so happy together, even when they were sparring with each other.  When I had visited their house up on The Island in Noo Yawk, they posed for this picture for me.

I liked the picture so much that I put it into that box with other things that were marked with all sorts comments and warnings.  Made sure it got to Florida first with all the important papers and pictures and other things we collect along the way to make sure that our memories and our lives are intact when we arrive in our new life. 

Now that Aunt Betty has moved back to Noo Yawk to be near her family, there isn't a day that I don't think of them and think of them well.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Woman Who Lied - Humor

I'm not completely sure what got in Velma's head when she sent me this one.  I do know I got a chuckle out of the little story when I read it.

The Woman Who Lied

One day, when a seamstress was sewing while sitting close to a river, her thimble fell into the river.
When she cried out, the Lord appeared and asked, "My dear child, why are you crying?"
The seamstress replied that her thimble had fallen into the water and that she needed it to help her husband in making a living for their family.
The Lord dipped His hand into the water and pulled up a golden thimble set with sapphires.

"Is this your thimble?" the Lord asked..
The seamstress replied, "No." 
The Lord again dipped into the river.
He held out a golden thimble studded with rubies. 

"Is this your thimble?" the Lord asked..
Again, the seamstress replied, "No.." 
The Lord reached down again and came up with a leather thimble. 

"Is this your thimble?" the Lord asked.
The seamstress replied, "Yes."The Lord was pleased with the woman's honesty and gave her all three thimbles to keep, and the seamstress went home happy. 

Some years later, the seamstress was walking with her husband along the riverbank, and her husband fell into the river and disappeared under the water.
When she cried out, the Lord again appeared and asked her, "Why are you crying?''
"Oh Lord, my husband has fallen into the river!"
The Lord went down into the water and came up with Morris Chestnut. "Is this your husband? The Lord asked. 

"Yes," cried the seamstress.
The Lord was furious.. "You lied! That is an untruth!"
The seamstress replied, "Oh, forgive me, my Lord. It is a misunderstanding.
You see, if I had said "no" to Morris Chestnut, you would have come up with Shemar Moore. 
Then if I said "no" to him, you would have come up with my husband.
Had I then said "yes," you would have given me all three. Lord, I'm not in the best of health and would not be able to take care of all three husbands, so THAT'S why I said "yes" to Morris Chestnut.
And so the Lord let her keep him. 

The moral of this story is:  Whenever a woman lies, it's for a good and honorable reason, and in the best interest of others. That's our story, and we're sticking to it. 


All Us Women 

Laughter is like jogging on the inside.  Exercise your 'innards' every day.

"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones."

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Robots - Humor

Oh I could use one of these robots, but I'm afraid of what it can do!


A father buys a lie detector robot that slaps people when they lie. He decides to test it out at dinner one night.

The father asks his son what he did that day.
The son says, "I did some schoolwork."
The robot slaps the son.
The son says, "Ok, Ok. I was at a friend's house watching movies."
Dad asks, "What movie did you watch?"
Son says, "Toy Story."
The robot slaps the son.
Son says, "Ok, Ok we were watching porn."
Dad says, "What? At your age I didn't even know what porn was!"
The robot slaps the father.
Mom laughs and says, "Well he certainly is your son!"
The robot slaps the mother!

P.S. Robot For Sale

Friday, November 9, 2012

Accidental Irish Cream Butter for the Coffee? SURE!

I like Irish Cream.  Once in a while that is since it basically is butter and alcohol.  67 calories of fat and booze.  Three ounces make 200 calories, so it's not something for every day.

Pour the stuff on some ice cream if you really want high test.   Last night I didn't want high test, I wanted to use it in my coffee.  Good dark home roasted decaf coffee with a little sweetener and Irish Cream.

Easy right?   Not when you get it all wrong.

I had just been given the bottle by someone who didn't know to try using it like I did and the bottle was unopened.  Sheepishly I was told by him "I love the stuff but I can't figure out how to use it!".

I'm not a big drinker.  One or two a week is quite enough.  Gin and Tonic, Screwdrivers, that sort of stuff.  A glass of Port is a wonderful luxury.  But I can be creative with Irish Cream.  

I know a British Ex-Pat who swears by the stuff in his evening tea to relax to the British Dramas on PBS.

But the stuff really is cream plus whiskey.  So enjoy in moderation but finish the bottle within 3 weeks once opened.

That is where I got in trouble.   I wanted it cold.  Why I wanted it cold, I just can't say.  Probably so I didn't have to finish it in 3 weeks.   I'm a lightweight when it comes to drink, really I am.  I can't even write like Hemingway, let alone drink like that man!

Put the bottle in the bottom shelf of the refrigerator and wait.  In my case, I waited for about 10 hours.

Three scoops of home roast decaf in the French Press, three packets of Sweet-n-Low, and the kettle was screaming for attention.

Pouring the water on top of the grounds, I gave it a quick stir, then went to the refrigerator.

SnapSnapSnap and the metal ring let go of the cap while the bottle was opened.  Upending the brown bottle over the measuring cup to get 3 ounces of the brown liquid, nothing happened.

Aiming the opening into the light I looked in.  

Looking back at me was a tan clot of something that looked like frozen Sweetened Condensed Milk.  Except it wasn't frozen, merely congealed.

*THUMPTHUMPTHUMP* on the back of the bottle like an errant Catsup container.
"Well!  That didn't work!"
"What's going on out there?"
"I made Irish Cream Butter!"
"The Irish Cream had thickened into butter in the fridge!"
"Wait, you put Irish Cream in the fridge and didn't expect...?"
"Yes, I know, Blond Moment."

I stuck a butter knife into the thickened tan goo and it came back coated as if I stuck it into a stick of butter.  My mind is racing thinking of some more alternatives like making whipped cream out of the stuff if I can ever get it free.

"I'd microwave the bottle if I didn't think it would explode like some weird Mythbuster's moment."

Turning on the tap full hot, I was able to gently melt the "butter" into a liquid again and pour out the required amount.   The bottle is sitting out on the counter just like it was last night, I won't make that mistake again.

So if I do make Whipped Cream out of the stuff, I'll let you know, but for the meantime, feel free to laugh with me at my buttery and sweet mistake.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Now they're naming Winter Storms? Give Me A Break!

This morning, through all the web chaff I wade through, I made a stop to check the local weather for Fort LauderdaleThe Weather Channel's website went through a recent redesign to make it more social.  The problem is that it made it less useable and more difficult to actually get the information that I want to see on it.

I'll work around it.  It's not pretty but it will have to do.

The problem was that I loaded the page and my heart did that usual little flutter it does whenever I see that "Warning Will Robinson" red stripe at the top that screams there's something to watch out for.    Reading it and dreading a late season Hurricane, I saw these words:

Breaking News:  What Will Winter Storm Brutus Bring?

I will tell you, it's going to bring me laughing at The Weather Channel and refusing to take it seriously.  The Weather Channel is the channel that brings you all hype all the time, I realize that.  After all it had that bobble headed blond Jen Carfagno call the King Kamehameha Hotel in Hawaii the "King Kammey Hah-hah-hah" hotel, as well as quite a lot of misinformation when the Tsunami disaster happened in Japan a year back.

You basically want to hit the weather channel when they do the cut away every 10 minutes for the information and turn to something else when the bobble heads come back with their "news".  My suggestion would be to turn to your family and talk about current events because the hype machine would roll on regardless.  I guess it drives Ad Revenue but frankly it feels a bit irresponsible, in my opinion.

The National Weather Service has just put out a message telling their people not to use these Winter Storm Names because they are not a part of their "product".  It's a pretty good idea not to.  All those names do is give more fuel to the hype machine.

My own reasons are pretty basic.   I lived in Metro Philadelphia most of my life.  I've been through countless winter storms.   Some of them were pretty scary and dumped more than two feet of snow on the roads.  I don't want to minimize things, they can be dangerous.  But adding to the fear of preparation, such as going to the supermarket and "buy Milk, Eggs, and Bread" with your whole zip-code, is irresponsible.

No, really that's the going joke.  Winter Storm is coming, you have to buy Milk, Eggs, and Bread and stand in line for hours.  After all, all your neighbors will be making French Toast the day of the storms because the cities have finally learned it makes more sense to close the main roads so your first responders can clear them and get to people who really DO need the help.

I think I'll make French Toast later, come to think of it...

So I'll be looking for a better place to get the weather information.  I've had quite enough of The Weather Channel's hype machine and screaming red bars for a storm that basically works out to be a strong Tropical Storm and rarely, maybe once a year, a weak Category 1 Hurricane equivalent.  I want to know when the storms will form because I want to know my sister, her husband, and my nephew will be safe in New Jersey.  That goes for my cousins in New York City and The Island too, but the hype has got to go.

Time to change some links I guess.  The Weather Channel has rendered itself next to useless to me.   Since I stopped watching their blather on cable, I've found that I am actually better informed.  They've become the Fox News of Weather Forecasting.

And Friends Don't Let Friends Watch Fox News.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

11:16PM November 6, 2012

Just like many of us, I couldn't get to sleep.

I spent most of the evening skipping between the BBC, NPR, MSNBC, Miami Herald, and some of the other news sites looking for some information about this little election thing that happened.

BBC tends to give information about the US that is a little more "raw" at times since US media are either not allowed to disclose or decide not to for the sake of people in other areas.  I had voted a week before so that didn't really matter to me.

By the time the returns started filtering in it was a see saw battle of who was in front at any given time.

Finally after waiting for a computer backup to complete, I realized it was after 11 in the evening and having been up since 5 in the morning it was time to go to bed. 

I gave the news sites one more pass and concluded that I couldn't change the results and it was going to be close. 

Sleeping the computers, I got the dog up to go out front for one last sniff.   Staring up at the skies, I heard my neighbor Theresa.   She's a couple houses down and in the clear crisp quiet of a November night, she said to her husband that "ABC Just called Florida for Obama".  Less than a minute later "AP Called the election, Obama's Won!".

Theresa and her husband danced in the moonlight in front of their apartment and that made me smile.

If you have ever been in a stadium you may have experienced this effect.

I am near Wilton Drive.  I was standing a couple blocks away from it, roughly in the middle of its curvy mile.

As it turns out it was the perfect place to experience this outpouring of joy.

From the Drive, the bars erupted one after another with cheers.  My distance from them a perfect spot.  Where I was the sounds passed from one side to the other as if some great Celestial DJ was playing with the balance control.  From one ear to the other as each bar's sound hit me, it was a great sound of relief and joy.

After the bars calmed down, the cars on the streets begun to sound their horns and a few people in the distance started firing off firecrackers.

Then the fireworks started to report from Fort Lauderdale across the Middle River.   Cracks, pops and flashes all interspersed with sounds of joy.

I gathered up my dog, too old to hear the sounds in the distance, and went inside.

They Called The Election, Obama Has Won.  Montgomery Burns will go back to his little life and not get his extra Ivory Backscratcher. 

After all, every election needs a Simpsons Reference.

This morning, it all seemed a dream.  Just to "pinch myself to see if I was awake", I checked the Big Board on NPR.  Big Bird would have a job for another four years, NPR had confirmed what I heard from Theresa last night.  Obama Has Won.

One last state had not certified their results as of that time, 7AM.   Florida, my adopted home.   They really should change the state motto to:

Welcome to Florida.  The Fix Is In!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

VOTE!!! For iPhone? Huh?

Sometimes these things just write themselves.

This morning, I was offered the following advice.

1) Vote a straight Democrat Party Ticket.
2) Vote NO on all Florida Amendments.  Seriously, they were written as "Poison Pills" to further erode the strength of the very wobbly middle class.  If you read them very carefully you will see what I mean.
3) Bring a small folding chair, water and maybe even food if you vote today.  You will be in line and you may be there for hours.
4) If you plan on voting Republican, remember that the lines will be much shorter tomorrow.

Oh and that title?  Vote for iPhone?   It is actually a game you can download and play to bash either Presidential candidate.   It is free at least today, and you can just swipe through the adverts so you can bash the Presidential candidate of your choice.!!!/id534309109?mt=8

I'm thinking on Wednesday this particular game won't be quite as fun to play no matter how things go.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jonathan on the Big Bike

I decided I wanted to do a little more work on my latest little woodworking obsession, building iPhone docks out of bamboo.  Walking out to the shed, I knew I wouldn't find the tools I needed and a later trip to the hardware store would be in order.  Sometimes you do something in the hope that you're going to find what you need or something even better.

It's called Serendipity, and a lot of my life is lived that way.   Keep working on the task until you finish, or if you hit a roadblock, find something else equally productive to do.

I flicked the numbers on the lock to the combination, went in, and poked around on the workbench out back but couldn't find what I needed.  So much for a small circular file, lets poke around.

When I was preparing for the Big Move to Florida, I packed box after box of things I couldn't stand to lose and moved them down to the basement of my house on a hill in the big city.  They all got some sort of cryptic explanation of what was inside when they were parked.  A few of those boxes are left, although this one caught my eye out in the warm shed.  It was helpfully labelled "Bill's Books" and inside there was a cache of pictures.   These were old, probably more than 20 years old and I spotted the picture of my nephew Jon on my old Honda.  

When I'd roll up to Mom's House on that big bike, my nephew who was younger than 3 at the time would run and hide.   He was terrified of the thing.  All I had to do was put my hands on the bike and he'd run off scared. 

One day I decided that he needed a little help to get past his fear.   I took him aside and told him that I wanted to show him what the bike was. 

"Nooo Uncah Beel!  I Scared!"
Smiling to myself I said "Don't worry I won't let it hurt you."

We walked out to the front porch of the house and looked at it a while when I told him it was time, lets go see the bike.

Going across the cement to the resting hulk of metal must have felt like the last mile for the little kid, but he made it.

"Ok, just touch the seat"
His hand reached out as if it were going to be burned and made contact with the vinyl warmed in the New Jersey sun.

The wonder of a toddler confronting his fears and realizing it was time to move on.

"Uncah Beel, it not scarey, it feel warm!"
"How would you like to sit on it?"
Hesitation until I scooped the kid up and in one motion he was on top of the Goldwing.
Once he was sitting on top his blue eyes got wide and he was smiling.

I reached for the key and said "We're not going anywhere on the bike.  I'm just going to start the motor"

Cranking the key, the 1200CC motor obediently roared to life.
My nephew started to squeal in delight.

Thinking "Yeah, kid the bike does that to me every time too" I grabbed the camera and squeezed off this picture.

This became my favorite picture of my nephew.   I have many others, in fact more pictures of him than I do of my own sister, his mom.  It was a memory to me of a moment when I helped someone much younger and smaller than I gain some knowledge and help him past a hurdle.

He never did get to ride the bike.  I didn't have a small helmet for him and didn't want to take the chance of breaking my nephew.  He meant too much to me to take the chance.  But the picture and the memory survived to this day.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A Little Catholic Sense of Humor

Even if a little confession is good for the soul, we all hate doing it.  Unless...

A little Catholic sense of humor

'Bless me Father, for I have sinned. I have been with a loose girl.'

The priest asks, 'Is that you, little Joey Pagano?'

'Yes, Father, it is.'

'And who was the girl you were with?'!

'I can't tell you, Father, I don't want to ruin her reputation.'

'Well, Joey, I'm sure to find out her name sooner or later so you may as well tell me now. Was it Tina Minetti?'

'I cannot say.'

'Was it Teresa Mazzarelli?'

'I'll never tell.'

'Was it Nina Capelli?'

'I'm sorry, but I cannot name her.'

'Was it Cathy Piriano?'

'My lips are sealed.'

'Was it Rosa DiAngelo, then?'

'Please, Father, I cannot tell you.'

The priest sighs in frustration. 'You're very tight lipped, and I admire that. But you've sinned and have to atone. You cannot be an altar boy now for 4 months. Now you go and behave yourself.'

Joey walks back to his pew, and his friend Franco slides over and whispers, 'What'd you get?'

'Four months vacation and five good leads...'

Saturday, November 3, 2012

God Created Children - Humor

I'll admit it, I have a folder in my email just for days like this.  Velma sends me jokes, I chuckle and set them aside for later use.  I had this one around and thought I used it.  Senior moment I guess, because I hadn't. 

Anyway, perfect weekend to post this.  Right after Halloween, the day before you mess with your clocks to set them back an hour and gain an hour of sleep tomorrow morning even though you will wake up when your body is damn good and ready to and wonder why the shops aren't open, and simply because it's Saturday.


To those of us who have children in our lives, whether they are our own, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or students... here is something to make you chuckle.

Whenever your children are out of control, you can take comfort from the thought that even God's omnipotence did not extend to His own children.

After creating heaven and earth, God created Adam and Eve.
And the first thing he said was 'DON'T! '

'Don't what ?' Adam replied.
'Don't eat the forbidden fruit.' God said.

'Forbidden fruit? We have forbidden fruit?  Hey Eve..we have forbidden fruit! '

'No Way! '
'Yes way! '

'Do NOT eat the fruit! 'said God.

'Why? '
'Because I am your Father and I said so ! '
God replied, wondering why He hadn't stopped creation after making the elephants.

A few minutes later, God saw His children having an apple break and He was ticked !
'Didn't I tell you not to eat the fruit? ' God asked.

'Uh huh,' Adam replied.

'Then why did you? ' said the Father.

'I don't know,' said Eve.
'She started it! ' Adam said.

'Did not ! '
'Did too! '

Having had it with the two of them, God's punishment was that Adam and Eve should have children of their own.  Thus the pattern was set and it has never changed.

If you have persistently and lovingly tried to give children wisdom and they haven't taken it, don't be hard on yourself.

If God had trouble raising children, what makes you think it would be a piece of cake for you ?


1. You spend the first two years of their life teaching them to walk and talk. Then you spend the next sixteen telling them to sit down and shut up.

2. Grandchildren are God's reward for not killing your own children.

3. Mothers of teens now know why some animals eat their young.

4. Children seldom misquote you. In fact, they usually repeat word for word what you shouldn't have said.

5. The main purpose of holding children's parties is to remind yourself that there are children more awful than your own.

6. We childproofed our homes, but they are still getting in.


Be nice to your kids.
They will choose your nursing home one day!




Friday, November 2, 2012

Cactus in a Sneaker or just Athlete's Foot?

You have something growing in your shoe.
Did your Athlete's Foot run amok?
Why is there a cactus growing in the sneaker?
Ok, that's just COOL!

That's a sample of the comments I get from my cactus.   I have two, although this is the nicer of them.  The other one had a mishap with a weedeater and I'm trying to get it to look right again.

There's a tradition of upcycling and recycling that I hold to.  If I find something, I will look at it and wonder if I can make it work for me or someone else who is needy.   I've been recycling desktop computers for literally decades now, and there are many of them around here and there. 

This kind of craft, well it just amuses me.  I saw it somewhere up North.  Someone had an old construction boot and put some flowers in the thing.  It did duty guarding the front door of someone's porch for a season.  Of course I spotted the thing and decided that one of these days...

Just stuff your old shoe with some potting soil and put a cutting in it.  Water liberally, and treat it as a pot.  After all, it's better than it mouldering in some landfill!

It's not the first time I posted a similar picture.  A while back I posted this same shoe.  What brought it to mind was this week we had the arborists by.  The damage we had to the bougainvillea right behind the house was enough from Hurricane Sandy that we called in the cavalry.  That one will come back, but it lost about 3/4 of its original mass. 

Before they started, they had a discussion about that shoe.  Four people standing around pointing and talking about the shoe and the cactus.   When I spotted them, I told them to please be careful about my pineapple plant and that the athlete's foot problem really isn't that severe.  Oh, and I'll move the plant out of harm's way on to the table.

After a laugh it went there and it remains.  I really should find a better spot for that, maybe the porch.  Everyone likes plants on the front porch, even if they are just a cactus in an old shoe.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween on Wilton Drive

After getting our one and only group of trick or treaters, I began to shut down the computers.

I had a mission.

Hearing the thumpa-thumpa of the party a few blocks away, I thought that I should go out to see what was going on.  I put on the costume of the night, a passable Doctor's lab coat and scrubs from my sister, and walked out the door.

With a "collie dog's smile" plastered on my face, I left the porch and started toward The Drive.

You did know that The Drive is always capitalized just like some other places like The Mile or The Avenue?   If you live near these places, you know what I mean.  It could just be Downtown, we've all got them.

I turned East toward the nearest thumpa-thumpa and started seeing them.  People not as they are, but as they want to be.   I had to ask myself why someone would want to be a zombie, but apparently many people did want to be un-dead.   Personally... well it seems a bit overdone.

Just a bit.

We walked up toward one of many stages, a Doctor and a Hard Hatted Construction worker, being spotted by one Zombie in particular.

"Doctor, Please... BRAAAAINS!"
"Sorry, I think you're too far gone for me to help!"

One of many zombies.  So many zombies, so few braaains.

There were costumes that reminded me of New Years, or was it Mardi Gras?   Giant feathered things piled high on shoulders like huge wings in shimmering colors that caught the light evening breezes.  Some looked like they had just came off "Two Street" ready for the strut, others were looking for "The Quarter" resplendent in their purple, gold, and greens.

Being dressed as a Doctor, I was asked if I gave exams.  There was a very cute pair of women in particular.   One was dressed like the Swiss Miss cocoa mascot, the other ... well she was all in pink.  In fact she was a whole lot of pink bits.  All those flaps of pink felt in an excellent representation of "lady parts".

If you don't know what "lady parts" are, ask mom.

"Doctor, can you tell me, how do I look?"
"Professionally, I'd say you look really sweet!"
Her partner said "you can believe it!"

I gave them each a piece of well earned chocolate and posed for a picture between them.  Somewhere floating around is a picture of a doctor, his exam, and the Swiss Miss cocoa girl all smiling and acting silly.

It was an excuse to make new friends and visit with old ones.  I got the chance to chat with three of my neighbors, and enjoyed it so much that we had to break it up when one of my neighbors called her mom asking where she was and what she was doing.

"I'm on The Drive looking at all the fun!"
"(address) Come and find me, we're having too much of a good time to come home"
"Can you believe it, my daughter is trying make me feel guilty!"

 We did decide, though, that skin was in, but if you're going to show it, make sure you have it to show.  Even if you don't have it, make sure it shows.  After all, that's what tissue paper and rolled up socks are for.

The one thing that stuck in our minds was how frustrating it was when people come up to you and say hello and demand that you know who they were. 

"No, I didn't recognize you, you look like President Obama only really tiny."

Or  "I think that's one of the commissioners, but I'm not sure..."

It was one of those days where you thought you were lucky you knew "practically the whole police force by face" because there were so many people walking around dressed like cops you thought you were at a donut shop.