Sunday, May 31, 2015

An Elderly Couple Gets Pulled Over By A Cop

The wife is driving, but she has a bit of a hearing problem.
The officer notifies her that she was doing 38 in a 25 zone.

The wife turns to her husband and asks "What'd he say?"
The husband replies "He says you were speeding!"
The wife turns back to the officer and says "Oh, sorry officer."

The officer goes on; "License and registration please."
The wife again turns to her husband. "What'd he say!?"
The husband, growing irritated, says "He wants to see your LICENSE."
The wife replies, "Oh, sorry officer. Here you go."

The officer inspects her license and comments, "Ah, you're from Brownsville. I'll never forget that city... I had the worst sexual experience of my entire life in Brownsville!"
The wife once more turns to her right and yells "What'd he say!!?"

The husband replies "He says he knows you."

Saturday, May 30, 2015

An Engineer Opens A Medical Clinic

An engineer who was unemployed for a long time decided to open a medical clinic. He puts a sign outside the clinic: "A cure for your ailment guaranteed at $500; we'll pay you $1,000 if we fail."

A Doctor thinks this is a good opportunity to earn $1,000 and goes to his clinic.

Doctor: "I have lost my sense of taste."
Engineer: "Nurse, please bring the medicine from box 22 and put 3 drops in the patient's mouth."
Doctor: "This is Gasoline!"
Engineer: "Congratulations! You've got your taste back. That will be $500."

The Doctor gets annoyed and goes back after a couple of days later to recover his money.

Doctor: "I have lost my memory, I cannot remember anything."
Engineer: "Nurse, please bring the medicine from box 22 and put 3 drops in the patient's mouth."
Doctor: "But that is Gasoline!"
Engineer: "Congratulations! You've got your memory back. That will be $500."

The Doctor leaves angrily and comes back after several days, more determined than ever to make his money back.

Doctor: "My eyesight has become weak."
Engineer: "Well, I don't have any medicine for this. Take this $1,000," passing the doctor a $500 note.
Doctor: "But this is $500..."
Engineer: "Congratulations! You've got your vision back! That will be $500."

Friday, May 29, 2015

What's Cookin' Dad? Hedgehogs?

You just can't make this stuff up.

My dog, Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) has a thing for Hedgehogs.

When I say a "thing" I mean a "I'm going to carry this around the house until it falls off" thing.

Every house that has pets, or rather pets and kids because after a fashion they are the same thing, has toys.  Toys that go everywhere.

I have a dog and a parrot and there are toys, fur, and feathers here.  If you are expecting a 1950s Mrs Cleaver house where everything sparkles I suggest you try the house down the block.  The one where I dropped off the mangoes the other day?  That one.  They have a housekeeper.  I'm too busy trying to live something that passes as a normal life while keeping up to date on technology.

Ever feel like you're out hunting a moving target?  Yo.  That's me.

The other day I was migrating from the dining room where I had my laptop set up, to the big green chair next to the window.  It was late enough after the dog walk that I wanted to push everything away and actually do what passes for relaxation here.  Turn on the TV, set the laptop on the table, plug it in and sit down and I hear....


That lump under my butt would be the hedgehog.

That noise called Rack over.  I didn't really mean to call him over, but it was going to happen.  He left his new hedgehog on the chair.  I say "New" because we had found one in a thrift store for a dollar and got it to replace the original hedgehog.  Then there were two.  Recently having the pleasure of a house guest, Craig, bring us two more hedgehogs, we're set for quite a while.  My little monster, Rack, is very gentle with his toys although he does have an unsettling habit of chewing the eyes off the stuffed beasts.

Handing the toy over to my dog with a cheerful "Hedgehog!  You've got a Hedgehog!", I went back to what I was doing not thinking too deeply about it.  Getting goosed by a stuffed toy is one of the hazards of having dogs in the house.

The next day I started cooking.  It was time to make some pork tenderloin for lunches.  Since you can get a really good slice of pork for much less than the price of some really cheap hamburger beef, I go for the pork.  Besides, it can be leaner.  Crock pot cooked to 140F in barbecue sauce and slice in the sauce will finish the pork by bringing the entire pot up to safe temperature and you have a meal better than Mrs Cleaver ever made.

But it has its own challenges.  It makes me hungry enough to chew my leg off.  It perfumes the house with whichever recipe I choose to make for that day, and usually a hint on the air for a day or three after.  It gets the parrot saying Hello every time I walk into the kitchen.  He begs.  Constantly.  I am a soft touch, so I usually toss a bit of fruit at the parrot because if he doesn't get what he wants, he can get loud.

Ear shatteringly loud.  Like Mount Krakatoa loud.  The noise that circled the world four times loud.  All from a pirate parrot bird.  SHADDAP!

But that merely brought Rack into the kitchen snuffling around.  He's looking for handouts as well.  I didn't want to get him started doing that begging thing but I'm used to it.  Practically every time I go into the kitchen, he's on task with the twin brown laser beams.

I turned around and stopped.  "How on Earth did you?".  He had a hedgehog stuck to his collar.

He also wanted some of that pork tenderloin that was swimming in the red Char Siu Barbecue sauce I had made up that morning.

Laughing I said "No matter how creative you are going to be with that toy, I am not giving out samples at this time!".

He merely licked his lips and went back to staring at the crock pot.

A loud "HELLO!" came from the other room.

I freed the toy from Rack's Collar and pet him on the head.  I was wrong thinking that would send him on his way.  He simply sat there and stared me down.

"Sorry, boy, you're out of luck this morning.  This is for lunch!".

It only takes 3 1/2 hours to get a 3 1/2 pound pork tenderloin to cook to temperature. 

Lunch was going to be a good one for me, and a sample for Rack.  Oscar the parrot? Nope.  Not happening.  I didn't have the right vegetables for him.  But we did all enjoy it.

Even the hedgehog.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

No Good Mango Goes Unpunished


There are two kinds of people.  Those who eat them and those who don't. 

By. The. Bucket.

There's a tree in the neighborhood.  It's on the property of an apartment building.  We know the owner and he told me to go pick my fill whenever I want to.

Well "Woo Hoo!" I said and have been picking that tree for a couple years straight ever since.  He keeps elevating the tree, trimming the lower branches, and that does make it difficult. 

With a Mango Tree, you do not want to do that.  The shape you should go for is an Umbrella - not very high but broad.  Why?  Keep the fruit as close to the ground as you can.  Since they can grow as large as two pounds a fruit, a solid Kilogram of sweetness, they can cause damage when they fall.

Imagine a melon falling from 32 feet in the air.  It takes a second to fall that distance.  21.9 MPH.  Imagine someone smacking you with an under ripe fruit at almost 22 Miles Per Hour.  An under ripe mango is about as hard as a rock...

Yeah, that's gotta hurt.

In Mango Season I go out with our trusty orange fruit picker pole and pick what I can.  When I get a bucket, I over-pick for my needs and hand some out to the neighbors.  Usually I keep a couple extra "dog bags" in my pocket so I can grab them when they fall.  The fruit tend to roll out into the street and make an awful mess if they haven't bashed in a windshield or dented someone's head.

But I have been watching our neighborhood tree.  It has been a good fruit year and there's plenty more where that came from.  It's going to take a ladder to get the ones up above the 20 foot limit of my reach at this point.

I got out there, picked my fill, and picked another dozen for a neighbor.  That's where my own size got in the way.  The neighbor's house is right around the corner, so I dropped the bucket on my porch next to the planter and pole and walked on over.   Up the drive to the front door.  I was in luck, there was someone inside cleaning.

Tapping on the window I said "Hey, I'm leaving this for the family here, can you bring this in when you are ready?".  

After all, the ants will get to a mango on the ground in 10 seconds flat, and it will be eaten away to nothing in a day.

I was greeted with a lot of yelling and hand gestures.  Ok, I can speak English, a bit of French, a tiny bit of Spanish, and a whole lot of Stupid.

As I started to turn and walk away, I draped the "t-shirt" bag on the doorknob.  "I'll just leave this here!"

More gesturing.  I don't think she can hear me.  She was yelling something in standard American English, I was wondering why she didn't just nod and smile.

"It's OK, I'll leave this for the family, bring it in when you can.  It's just a bag of Mangoes!"

More gesturing.  I spun to leave.

As it is, I'm a bit "top heavy".  High center of gravity.  I nearly fell off the porch.  At this point I realized it was either leave the fruit there and hope for the best or leave the porch and twist an ankle or worse.

I shouted at the door "It's OK, you don't have to open the door.  I'm going!".

Scratching my head in confusion I wandered down the drive.  The bag was left on the door until I was well out of sight.

That night I ran into one of the people there, Marc, and told him the story.   He laughed so loud that his dog looked up at him in some confusion, and my dog Rack dropped down to the ground.  I was told that the housekeeper was telling him about some giant guy that came by and left him some fruit but "She made a rather nice arrangement of them after all was said and done.".

So the moral of the story is that if you are going to spread the mango goodness, make sure it is jelly or jam.  Get a good recipe first.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Looking Out At The Everglades at 5 MPH

Of all of the activities that are available to people in an industrialized society, this is one of the more pointless ones.

We built a road through one of the most beautiful places in the world, the Everglades.  But true to form, it is not suitable to task so you end up sitting in traffic.

Actually, through all the years and the many trips, maybe even hundreds of trips, that I have taken to the Florida Keys, this was the first time I had been stopped in traffic at this particular spot.

By "this particular spot" I mean the 20 mile long corridor between the end of the mainland at the split for Card Sound Road in Florida City to the beginning of the Florida Keys at Key Largo.

You see, true to form, they widened the road.  But it is still just two lanes for the majority.  One lane up, one lane down.  Any traffic mishap and you're stuck until someone figures out a way to unstick it.  It used to be exactly one lane down and back.  It's a road built on an old railroad causeway after all.  Then it gained a shoulder because if it didn't have one you would have that same road blocked for hours.

The latest iteration was when the roadbed gained an actual barricade down the middle so that people falling asleep in the middle of the night don't drift over onto opposing traffic.  Improvements in drainage were made as well as the bridges were raised a bit.  This being Florida, they weren't allowed to say Global Warming or Climate Change because we have a state government infested with Republicans and other climate change deniers, but things were raised nonetheless - "Just Because".

However, the passing lanes were retained.

Instead of having two lanes down and two back, there are three separate Passing Zones.  Think of it as a place where the absolute best of driving habits come out to play. 

Mom and Dad in their giant motor homes trailing a regular car behind them can't maintain the speed limit which is theoretically 55 MPH.  They collect quite a few people behind them.  When the road widens for the passing zone, everyone behind the motor home floors it and tries to pass.  When they all reach the end, everyone tries to merge in front of the motor home.  The motor home slows and creates a new tailback behind it.  Each time this happens it gets a little worse.  You end up with a 20 mile section of road that has a permanent traffic problem on the weekends and holidays. 

You never want to drive to Key West on a Friday on a long weekend.

If it does happen to clear, it will happen again. Either a food truck, a motor home, or just some fool from the Midwest who is driving just a little too slow for everyone's liking will start it over.

My own personal favorite are those large trucks full of food going to refuel the restaurants.  The trucks are typically governed and under orders not to "maintain traffic speed", which is good and correct, but the cars stuck behind them will drive like fools anyway to get past them.

Since the entire road from Florida City to Key West is 125 miles, everyone everywhere tries to keep in front of those trucks.  All the food comes in on the same trucks.

So you end up checking the GPS for traffic information, see that the road is lined in red or dark red, and decide whether to head to the Keys or not.

When you get there and look out your window you see scenes of natural beauty unlike anywhere else.  You'll still be stuck, but it is still a beautiful scene.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Celebrating Craig's Birthday by the Sea

There has to be a reason, a good one, to drive 100 miles.

Actually it was drive 100 miles, get stuck in traffic for a solid hour at a walking pace, see some beautiful scenery, and finally end up slightly lost.

Yes, we had GPS.  But we had been there before.  We also knew where we were going, but like the saying goes "Not all who wander are lost".

While I'm dropping the old hackneyed sayings, sometimes the journey is the destination.

Plus I really do like going for a ride in the car.

Next time, we bring Rack, I promise.

You see, Craig came down.  He's a great friend.  We have known each other for years now, probably safe to say decades.  Knowing he's from up North, way up North actually, and had never been South of Orlando before, I had to get him to touch toes to the Keys.

I know of a great restaurant down there.  We all do if we go there enough, so I'll save its name.   Why am I not telling you?  Take me there and I will, but it was crowded enough.  It sits just on the South side of the key, on the water, in a cove.  Ok, so I have described about half of the restaurants in the Keys, from Key West to Key Largo and every place in between, haven't I?


You're looking at the view I had for lunch on Sunday.  I purposely put my arm on the railing, in the sun.  Just the right one.  I wanted a little bit of tan.   I can still see one arm darker than the other a couple days later, and I wasn't looking to sit on a beach. 

We sat there, I had my Fish and Chips (Mahi Mahi, actually), and a bottle of some rather excellent beer, and some incredible conversation with Craig, Kevin, the waitress, and some of the surrounding tables.  There was, typical to the Keys, plenty of things to watch that were natural.  Just below us were some small fish, and a fish I kept calling a Grouper.  It could have been a Grouper, but might not have been.  That doesn't matter, it would have made a great meal for two from the size of it. 

The children around us were thankfully well behaved, and I have no doubt that the waitress would have followed the instructions of the sign on the bar "Loose or Unattended Children will be fed to the Tarpon".

Keep your kids quiet, and at your table.  No matter how much you love them, others will find them annoying.

But we sat there taking in a 2 hour lunch watching the boats come in.  This was one of those places that while you're enjoying the jazz brunch, debating whether the singer is lip synching or not, and having fun telling R-Rated stories to the waitress, time goes on around you.  I'm not the kind of person who is used to sitting tight for a meal, I tend to be one of the first to finish and one of the first to want to leave.  But for once I was content to sit there and watch the little boats come by. 

Lucky dogs on that one there.  There were two.  One stayed with the owners, the other got bored and went back to the boat and curled up under the shade.  I'm with the dog, it would have been a great place to kick your feet up and watch things go by, slowly, at the Keys pace.

Having finished our main course, the waitress brought Craig a slice of Key Lime pie, and another waitress and the Jazz Singer to sing him a happy birthday while he sat there under the umbrella, smiling away.

You have to admit, if you're going to take two hours to get to lunch, sit in a 20 mile backup, and have lunch by the water, this was a great way to do it.

So, Craig, if you're looking for something to do on your next birthday, I know a great restaurant, by the water, with an amazing waitress, good food, interesting lip syncing or singing (we're not completely sure), and an entertaining view.

We'd like to have you back.  Besides, it gives me an excuse to take a good friend to a jewel that I won't readily tell people where it is.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is one of those home grown things.  There were many celebrations of remembrance that came to be around the Reconstruction period, after the Civil War.  People of the day realized that it was right to honor those who gave all in the fight to win the Civil War.

The State of New York was the first one to officially embrace the day in 1873 making it a statewide day of remembrance and by 1890 the rest of the Northern states had followed suit.  The South stubbornly refused to follow the trend and waited until after the First World War to acknowledge the day when it became a day for decoration for those who died in All Wars. 

In 1971 there was a congressional passage of the National Holiday that made it a three day weekend for Federal Workers, and therefore a holiday for all.  

No matter what the history of it, there has been a moment of silence at 3PM since 2000 to reflect on the sacrifices that were given in fighting for this Nation.  This is called the National Moment of Remembrance.

Have a safe day.  It's not all about the burgers and beers

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ring The Doorbell

A woman places an ad in the local newspaper. “Looking for a man with three qualifications: won’t beat me up, won’t run away from me, and is great in bed.”

Two days later her doorbell rings. “Hi, I’m Tim. I have no arms so I won’t beat you, and no legs so I won't run away.”
 “What makes you think you are great in bed?” the woman retorts.

Tim replies, “I rang the doorbell, didn’t I?”

A Couple Bonus short jokes:

I remember going to a store with 20$ and coming home with groceries to last for a week. But now? Damn security cameras everywhere.

A Couple was married for forty years:

But with the husband in serious financial trouble, he told his wife he was considering suicide.
"Don't worry, honey!" she said reassuringly. "We aren't as hard off as you think. When we first got married, I put away two dollars in our savings every time we had sex! We have almost $100,000 saved!"

"Wow!" the husband exclaimed, "what a genius woman I married! I only wish I had given you all of my business!"

Two silkworms had a race.  It Ended in a Tie.

My girlfriend isn't speaking to me for ruining her birthday.
I'm not sure how that's possible, I didn't even know it was her birthday.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

It's 3AM and a General Urgently Calls The Sergeant

A private awnsers the phone: -"Hello?"
-"Quickly, hand me over to the sergeant" the general says

-"No, i'm sorry, the Sergeant is sleeping, and he doesn't want to be disturbed, call him again in the morning".
The general, angry, says: -"Incompetent! pass me with the sergeant"

The private yells into the phone: -"Are you a tough guy? CALL BACK TOMORROW IN THE MORNING"

-"Do you know who I am?"
-"No, and I don't care"

-"I'm your General"
-"Holy shit, and, do you know who I am?"

-"Of course not" the general said.
-"Oh, what a relief" and he hung up the phone.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Who's Vacation Is It Anyway?

When I lived in Philadelphia people would ask: "When's the last time you went to see the Liberty Bell?".

Normally when I heard someone respond they'd say "Oh back when I was a kid" or "A couple years back".

I did go to see it from time to time.  I have a great picture somewhere, probably lost to the ages, of someone walking behind it so that it looked like The Bell was walking somewhere.

I guess you had to be there.

But that's the thing.  The Locals don't do these sorts of things. 

Oh sure, I was at The Rocky Steps, the Art Museum Steps in Philly, many times.  It was a great place to cool down when I had a race or was just out training.  It's also a great place to rub shoulders and meet up with friends, or friends to be.  But to go TO the Rocky Steps to do that run up them?  Nah.  The Art Museum in Philadelphia is a totally different thing, a world class museum of Art that if you're there, you should go see it.  I did... Back when I was in High School.

Get the picture? 

Now that I've been here 9 years, I'm starting to grow roots.  Some of them are quite deep, the others may just be a bit grey, but they're sinking in.  I'm beginning to make those comments about my adopted home city of Wilton Manors and Fort Lauderdale area in general.

"The Beach?  Floridians don't go there except in their car to look at it.  It's pretty but it's just full of tourists!"

"South Beach is a nice place to go for a meal but it's such a hassle to get there.  You can drive through it though and look like you're in an episode of Miami Vice or Grand Theft Auto!".

"The Keys?  You have to do it at least once, that drive to Key West, but be careful.  It could last anywhere between 4 to 12 hours to get to Key West.  I heard once there was a fender bender in the island just above Key West and the traffic didn't clear for two whole days!"

You know, those comments "Locals" say when they have been there a while.

So add to it the general "Nice" factor and you know what I am going through this week.

"Whaddya wanna do?"
"I dunno, what do YOU want to do?"

Then suggestions are made, the nay sayers are heard, and eventually something happens to the day.

Nice to have a day to "kill" anyway, right?  You're in paradise, the sun is bright, the weather is warm, the Everglades are burning because the wet season paused.

Oh that last one happens around this time of year.  You see things dry up and burn out there on the river of grass.

But yeah, you'll see it.  We can go for a drive there.  Hit Federal Highway and maybe drive down to the Keys if it's not backed up. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Removing a Catheter is a Happy Dog Day

Pretty simple really.  We had to be at the Vet's by 9:30.  We were about 5 minutes late. 

Rack needed to water the tree first, anyway.  After a day of being pumped full of fluids, he needed to pump them back out.  He also drank a full bowl of water.  That's 28 ounces according to the Fridge.

After going through sepsis from a dog bite, and spending the entire day in a crate, he seems to be back to his normal self.   Almost, anyway.  Standing up is still a little stiff, but the first walk this morning was done with him dragging me for a mile around town on his four legs instead of him doing the tripod hop on three.

I've still got a course of antibiotics to go through, and there is one last "exit" visit to the vet on Saturday Morning, but I think we're good.

Nothing like a nice quick visit.

 They will tell you they're feeling better.   Instead of Rack wanting nothing to do with anyone, we were greeted by him being excited and whiny.  Whine to say hi to the vet tech.  Whine to say hello to the puppy in the back.  Whine to the nurse.  Whine to the door to go out and water the tree, yet again.

But he's on the mend. 

He even whined at another car on the way back. 

That's a bit of a surprise.   You see there was a delivery truck near us too.  Rack has a strange habit around big trucks.  He tries to avoid them.  He avoids them by diving down behind the seat in the back and trying to make himself as small as possible.   Since I was sitting in the back with him taking up half the back of the four door Accord, it wasn't possible.  Instead, he whined at that truck, tried to dive under the blanket, then bailed and simply watched the truck from next to me.  All the while he was doing that, he was staring a hole through it from the seat.

Silly dog.

But definitely on the mend, no matter what.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rack in a Sleepover Cage

I'm not sure what to call these boxes.  I do know that leaving my boy at the rather excellent Dr Glass' Family Pet Center in Fort Lauderdale was not done by my first choice of what to do this morning. 

But I really didn't have a choice.

The thing is, that it was the best choice for him.  It also was a bit of a shock how it came to happen.

When they tell you that the mouth, dog or human, is one of the most dirty places around, believe it.

I'm having house guests this week.   My buddy from Atlanta, Craig and his dog Katie have arrived.

We went through all the normal precautions of how to introduce two dogs.   Both dogs were medicated with "Doggy Downers" so they were "toned down".  Katie was let in our back yard after a 10 hour drive here.  She was feeling off, so we introduced Rack to her while on his leash.  She didn't seem to care, so eventually we let Rack and Katie run free.   For a good half hour they were acting Normal.  Running around, sniffing, peeing, doing normal dog things.  We had no reason to expect otherwise.

When we all came into the house, after about an hour, Katie started coming out of it and Rack went off to his corner.

Then when he went to get a drink, Katie nipped his back leg.

Rack didn't even  really react other than my running over, separating the dogs, and sending them to neutral corners. 

After 10 hours in the car, Katie had had enough of today.

By the next morning, this morning, Rack was tender from the bite.  We got him to the Vet and found he had been running a fever and was put on antibiotics and a saline drip.

Not too much more to tell.  It's mid afternoon, my dog is probably in a really weird alternate universe.  We got a muzzle for Katie, a Gentle Leader for her, and some instructions to Craig on how to do some training exercises. 

I've got another hour before I can find anything else out.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Basil and Flower

When I make a pizza, and I want to go "All Out" and really make a good one, I use a lot of fresh Basil.

We would hit the supermarket, find a little plastic package with a couple fresh sprigs of the stuff, and buy it.

All the while I am thinking of what my mom would say.

"Bill?  Why aren't you growing that?"

Knowing her, there'd be a few random other things in there like "clean this", or move the car onto the roof, or some such blather mixed in.  She had her way.  Nothing was quite right.

But as for the Basil, she was right.  It really should have been grown at home, and in the garden.  Why not, she did that off and on all through my childhood.  

I didn't really see the attraction.  When I was a brat, it was too strong for me, and I used it sparingly.  The last time I made a hoagie, I left the lettuce off and used a layer of Basil.   That was a little bit too strong, but my tastes did change, somewhat.

I'll be more careful.

After many false starts of taking the leftover sprigs and trying to get them to root, only to find them melt to a green or brown mush in the bottom of a red solo cup next to the kitchen window that was a perfect home for my pet mosquito collection, I gave up.

Then I got the bright idea to buy one of those rather pricey starter/started plants at the supermarket.

I made a pizza the next day, and it was good.  The Italian Flag pizza of Red Sauce, White Mozzarella, and Green Basil was perfect.  I didn't use too much of the green goodness, and I still had some in the pot growing.

Promising myself to stick it in a pot on the irrigation chain "tomorrow", I left it on my window sill.

A bit too long, half of the plants moped away and faded to nothing.  By the time it made it to the white ceramic pot mid way down the pool, there was only one healthy plant left along with a few others that looked quite sad.

I wouldn't put those on a pizza, trust me.

After silencing my "External Voice" of someone who constantly told me that "Basil Won't Grow In This Climate!" and "When Are You Going To Do Something With That?", I finally planted it.

Setting the drip feed on low, it watered it gently along with the other flower pots. 

Suddenly I had enough Basil to consider putting on a sandwich again.  Then enough for a Pizza.  The little pot was a happy place in the full sun of my Florida backyard in Spring.

Wandering out the other day to get some fresh Basil for the salad I was making, I noticed a flash of white.  My Basil that wasn't supposed to grow in this climate was so happy that it was putting out a flower spike.  An inflorescence that looked like the Coleus in the corner of the yard. 

I had to get a picture of that spike, not so much to say "Look at what happened" but more to actually look at what happened.  Just like my Coleus that is so happy that it is going into year 9 of growing under my Bougainvillea, I had some tiny flowers.

I could hear Mom again.  "Bill, you want to pick those flowers or it will go to seed!".

Yeah, yeah, yeah, Mom, You're right, and that is what I want.  I'll get more plants that way.

At least I hope so.  But I had to get a good close up view of these things.  They were tiny.  The entire ring of flowers would fit on my thumbnail.  All the while guaranteeing some good sandwiches and salads in the future.

Everyone here helps out.  We make sure it is watered.  I do have to make sure that Rack isn't helping there.  We have caught him doing so. 

Better wash that Basil well!  You know who helps out!

So my little herb garden is growing.  Rosemary for rolls, pizza sauce, and other sauces.  Every time I brush against it, the Rosemary Oil perfumes me.  Basil for the same thing, more sauces.  Mint, courtesy of my godmother who knew I liked a lot of Mint Tea.  And on a whim, a little Green Onion for my stirfry.

If I could just get the dog to stop watering the stuff!

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Story of Betty's Pizza Rustica Recipe

Had she made it to today, my Aunt Betty would have her 96th birthday.  She was short of it by only a
handful of days.  But this isn't the story of a loss.  This is the story of a visit, some warm memories and a recipe. 

Not really a recipe.  It's hard to explain.  If you can make a proper Pizza Rustica out of this, I would like some of the leftovers.  I intend to try to make this.  I promised her I would but we never got really brave enough to try.

Now that she's gone, and we know where to get the ingredients here in the Sixth Borough of South Florida, we have no excuses.

This started years ago with a different family visit.  We would go from our "Wonder Years" house and life in Cherry Hill, New Jersey for a road trip to Woodhaven, Queens, New York City.  Up the 295 to the NJ Turnpike, over the Goethals and Verrazano Narrows Bridges to the Belt Parkway.  We would eventually be stuck in traffic before we got off that road, then head up Jamaica Avenue to Woodhaven Blvd, to 86th street, near the park and hunt for parking.

Or so I remembered.  We would be Mom, Dad, my sister, and I.  There we would spend a couple days with the extended family.  Some bickering would eventually happen but it was all in the family.   Some would end up in the living room in front of the TV watching the strange-to-us New York TV channels with their similar but different shows, and the party would be going strong.  It never really stopped for sleep, only paused. 

Food that we learned later to call "Italian Specialties" would be brought out in massive volumes.  Lemon Ricotta Pie.  Canolis.  "The Italian Flag Plate" of Tomato slices with Basil and Mozzarella drizzled with fresh Oregano and Olive Oil from a can that was stored on a narrow shelf to on the stairs to the basement.

The oven was running before we finished breakfast and since this memory in particular was a holiday, there were multiple pans cooking early morning.  Toward the afternoon there was this savory pie that I remembered fondly and think of to this day.  Easter Pie we called it.  It was my introduction to some ingredients like Barley and some of that wonderfully sharp "Extra Sharp Provolone" that actually was a little gritty due to its processing that is very difficult to find here in South Florida despite all those New York Transplants we've got rubbing shoulders with us.

No wonder why I grew to be a 6'4" man, you just couldn't stay small on all of that food.

I was telling this story while sitting on my couch many years later to my Aunt Betty, and how much I appreciated her, the family, and our quirky way of meshing through my childhood.  Her youngest daughter, Darlene and I were only a year apart, and she had told me many times how much she liked coming down for the flip side of the coin visit to our wonder years house and wandering around because it was "So Green and Beautiful".  It just felt normal to me, where my excitement was walking down to The Avenue, Woodhaven Avenue I think, and exploring those shops and plugging my ears when that loud El train rattled overhead.

When I mentioned to Betty that I thought the recipe was lost to the ages, she started talking about the ingredients. 

I stopped her and said "Maybe we should write this down!".  I wanted to make it and I knew that this should get back to everyone some day.

While there are many recipes for this pie, this is ours.  It may be missing ingredients, the crust is pretty incomplete for example, but the list is here complete with my own misspellings and scrawled handwriting.

To help find it in the future, the picture above is repeated in text. 

Dough with Crisco and Salt.
No Yeast.

2 Pounds Rice or Barley
24 eggs plus some for brushing the top
1/2 pound Italian Cheese (Locatelli or Parmesan)
1/2 pound Prosciutto
1/2 pound Genoa or Italian Salami
1/2 pound of Boiled or Virginia Ham
1/2 pound of Provolone
1/2 pound of Mozzarella (optional)
1 pound of Ricotta (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/2 pound sausage (optional)

Make Dough into Pie Crust
Boil Rice or Barley
Add eggs
Mix in Cubed Cold Cuts
Salt and pepper
Stir Very Well
Add Top Crust or Strips
Bake 350 to 375F for 45 to 60 minutes but lean towards an hour

"And That's It!"

Mind you, her ending flourish like anything in an Old Family Recipe misses a few details.  How you cook this was in a massive pan by my memory that is about the size of my own roasting pan.  It is not a small thing either.  Measuring one that is close to my decades old memory is a bit foolhardy but the one I have here for my own roasts is 18x13x3 inches and it does not fit my oven as closely as hers did.

Also, adding eggs, two dozen of them to the rice or barley?  Better make sure they have cooled down "some" or else the heat from the cooked grains will cook the eggs for you before they even get mixed in fully.

She would layer that crust inside the pan, then pour the filling in and cover it up, crimping the sides and poking holes in the top for the steam to escape.

We're talking 6 1/2 pounds of food to go into the recipe before cooking, and the Rice and Barley (I recommend Barley) will soak up more water weight as well.

It's going to be a massive pie.  If you do make this and run over with extra filling, make a second one.  Serve it to your neighbors.  Tell them it's "Aunt Betty's Pizza Rustica from Woodhaven, NY!", make up a story and tell them that everyone up there near the Forest Hill Park knew her and loved her and shared in this pie.

Why the story?  It's not a story, it's true.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Blonde is Roller Skating Down the Boardwalk

A blonde is roller-skating down the board-walk one day. She's just skating along in her lycra pants, smiling at everyone, listening to her Walkman.

She decides that she really needs a haircut. She skates into the first salon she sees and goes up to the hairdresser and says, "I need a haircut."

The hairdresser checks her out and says, "OK, sit down and take off your headphones."
"No way!" shouts the blonde, "If I take off my headphones, I'll die!" "
 Then I can't give you a haircut," replies the hairdresser.

So the blonde gets up and leaves and skates further down the board-walk. She sees another salon, goes in, and says to the hairdresser, "I need a haircut... but you can't take off my headphones or I'll die!"

The hairdresser looks at her a little weird, but says, "OK, no problem. Have a seat."

So the blonde sits down and the hairdresser comes up behind her, and when she isn't looking, rips the headphones off her head. Suddenly the blonde starts choking, and soon turns blue in the face, then keels over and dies right there in the salon chair. The hairdresser is a little freaked by this. The hairdresser leans over and cautiously listens into the blonde's headphones and hears...

"Breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out..."

Saturday, May 16, 2015

You Know You're In America When

-- A pizza can get to your house faster than an ambulance.

-- There are handicap parking places in front of a skating rink.

-- Sick people must walk to the back of the drugstore to get their prescriptions, while healthy people can buy cigarettes in the front.

-- Banks leave both vault doors open, but pens are chained to the counters.

-- Expensive cars sit in the driveways and useless junk fills garages.

-- People use voice mail to screen calls and call waiting to catch every call they might miss.

-- Drive-Up ATM machines feature Braille lettering.

Friday, May 15, 2015

So Why Is Your Dog In A Restaurant and Out Of Control?

You have a "Designer Dog".  A little bit of a thing not much larger than a Beanie
Baby or a Teddy Bear.

Maybe you have your own macho designs and have a bully breed.  Plops down next to you wherever you go.  Loyal dog who will walk through fire for you.

Could be a mid sized dog, a terrier or a collie
Amazing dogs of high intelligence that can do tricks, but also capable of reason and problem solving.

Great.  I don't want to hear them.

Don't get me wrong, I am a dog owner who likes taking my dog out around town.  When I heard that the restaurants in the neighboring city of Fort Lauderdale allowed dogs in their outdoor areas, I knew bedlam was about to ensue.

Typically those people who insist their dogs come with them into restaurants or other crowded places like Shopping Malls treat their dogs as a "Child Analogue".  They are trying to make a dog act like a child.   They have them in strollers - an annoying appliance in the best of times, or in a purse.  Ok, not necessarily a purse but a bag about the size I used to cram my gym gear in when I went for a workout.

Now that dog is forced to act unnaturally.  It is expected not to sniff the food as it goes by.  It is expected not to jump when the waiter five tables over drops a dish a little too loudly in front of the patron.  It is expected that it is not going to be in the way while it sits in an aisle while you step on its tail or bump into it on that little purse looking thing that you have hanging on the corner of your chair.

"Your fault" you are told when the dog snaps at you for a misstep.

Here's a better answer.  Leave the dog home.  If you can't leave the dog home, take the dog for a ride, in the car, to the dog park and actually interact with the dog.  Both of you will be better for the experience.

The hardest part of having a dog that is learning fast how to be properly behaved is
to realize that not everyone else wants a dog but a fashion accessory.  When my own dog, Rack, who's favorite thing in the world is to meet other dogs backs away from YOUR dog, I know there's a major malfunction going on here. 

If your dog is barking at another dog 20 feet away on a street or sidewalk, your dog is in need of training, and you, personally, need some of it yourself.

A "Cute Little Yorkie" on an impossibly long leash in a crowd is an accident waiting to happen.  When that cute little Yorkie gets spooked and decides to bark its fool head off, don't blame the boot when it finds the dog.

A bit severe? Perhaps, but you know what's going on in the mind of that person right now who had the altercation with your "Sweet Little Dog", right?

Person in a mall, good.  Dog in a mall, bad.
Person in a restaurant, good.  Dog in a restaurant, bad and probably unsanitary.

No, Ma'am I don't want little Frou Frou's fur in my Baked Cod.  Keep them at home.

By the way, in Wilton Manors, according to code, a Dog's Leash may be no longer than 4 feet - no exceptions.   Since the code here is typically "borrowed" from other cities and towns which is standard, I would be willing to bet that is pretty much standard as well.

So how do I judge whether the person on the other end of the leash is balanced?

Look at the dog.  If that dog growls, jumps, barks, shows teeth - the person is at fault.  They put the animal in the place where there is a potential to harm - dog or person.  That Person is therefore at fault if the dog decides to bite.

They are also the first to tell YOU that you don't have a right to be there.

Um, you're kidding me, right?

When Wilton Manors allowed dogs in outdoor sections of restaurants, it was done with the proviso that if the dog is acting up, it will be removed and banned from the business.  Any damage that is caused to the premises will be the responsibility of the dog owner.

However, any damage to anyone else, two legged or four, caused by the dog renders the business liable, as well as the owner.  The business itself can be banned from allowing dogs on premises.

There's a simple solution.  Keep your little fluffy furkid at home.  If you're calling it your child, or your furkid, or anything else similar, you're the problem and not the solution.  You are denying your dog's natural born right - to be a dog.

While I strongly believe pets are family and should be treated with the same rights within reason as you or I, I have a right not to be molested in public by someone who doesn't understand that it is not appropriate behavior to tie your little white dog to a bar stool and go get a beer.

Keep them at home, they won't miss you that much.  If you think they do, then keep yourself there too or take them to a dog park.  There are too many unbalanced creatures in society as it is.

Two legged or Four.

Train your pets, love and enjoy them, and keep them from harm.  But please, leave them home.  I'm tired of correcting your dogs.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Coconut Cookie Recipe

When I need something to occupy my mind, I bake.
When I need a snack, I bake.
When I need to feel creative, I bake.

There are a lot more things I could add to that list but why preach to the choir?  You wouldn't be here if you didn't like good cookies. 

These cookies are easy to make, and quite tasty.  The texture was crispy around the edges and chewy in the center so I would guess that if you want them to be all crispy you bake them longer or flatten them out more or if you prefer, go shorter for a chewier cookie with less crispy crunch.  I thought they were perfect the first time out of the oven at 12 minutes.

Each one of those big round cookies were only 1 LEVEL Tablespoon of dough.  This recipe made 24 cookies, and they really are worth the time. 

If you're wondering if they're tough to make - no, it is an easy recipe.  Mix the dry ingredients in a big bowl with a fork, then add butter and mix a little more, then your egg that has been pre-scrambled.  Once it all is nice and even, get out your "wide" measuring Tablespoon and measure them out.

Remember that these cookies will spread widely in the oven so do not crowd, and they just slid off the baking parchment so if you can actually even reuse the paper for the second batch if you were short on paper.  Also the batter was a little loose, and didn't "ball up" when you try to roll them out.  It really is easier if  you to use the "wide" Tablespoon to measure, then use your thumb to get the batter onto the baking paper.

Calorie count is difficult for this recipe.  If you use sweetened dried coconut, you'll get an extra 400 calories per batch.  Since that was what I used for the cookies, it meant each cookie was 84 calories.  Using dried coconut without sugar, the recipe gives 24 cookies at 67 calories each. 


  • 1 Cup Self-Rising Flour
  • 1 Cup Dried Coconut
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Stick plus 1 Tablespoon Butter (125g) - Melted
  • 1 Egg, Beaten

  • Preheat oven to 350F, 180C.
  • Line two cookie sheets with Parchment Baking Paper.
  • Sift the Flour, Coconut, and Sugar together.
  • Mix in the Egg and Melted Butter evenly.
  • Spoon out 1 Tablespoon portions of batter widely spaced on the cookie sheets - about 12 per sheet.
  • Bake for 12 minutes or until edges turn golden brown.
  • Allow to cool on the cookie sheet for at least 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack to allow proper setting.
Recipe was adapted from the Kidspot website at this link.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Goodbye Betty

These days you get news differently. 

I remember when Mom was alive, we had a hard and fast rule.  Stay off the phones after 9pm.   That was when the phone was reserved for important family business. 

When she finally went, it was years before I relaxed.  Still to this day if the phone rings after 9pm, I jump.

Now it's social media.

That's how we found out that my Aunt Betty passed away.  She was a week before her 96th birthday so I guess you could say she went because of that.  "Being 96".

What you will never know is how powerful that woman was.  She was a character.  Put the three sisters together in a room and you were due to have a tornado of strength going on.  You knew where you stood with her, my mom, and my other Aunt Millie as a result.

Do something they didn't agree with, they would tell you.  You'd eventually realize they were right, and you'd eventually tell them so.  Its pretty much the way things were.

Betty would come down to her condo in Century Village for the coldest months and having her there, in easy reach, was a blessing.  It meant that I could come up for random visits.  Of course those places were gated communities so a "drop in" was always a planned event.

We'd go out for our favorite "bad Chinese" food, run a few errands, and do other things which generally meant enjoying each other's company.  She had made the transition from Matriarch to Good and Trusted Friend decades before, and that was great with both of us.

Once in a while, we'd get to discussing things in general and one of us would get onto food.  Our family was very food centered.  Visits to any of the houses meant these large productions centered around too much food, loud conversations, and the extended families meshing in the house.

I can still picture that oven of hers in the house in Woodhaven Queens stuffed with tray after tray of foods, the counters crammed with dishes yet to be cooked or cooling, and every square inch of that little kitchen stuffed with people rubbing elbows.   There would be a card game going on in the bedlam at some point, and she taught me how to play with the best of them.

"How about a game of Continental?" would be heard and we would settle in as the oven finally cooled well after dark.

But this time the food got moved.  I had gotten to talking about the roasts we made.  The beef was prime bottom round.  We did that up "Old School" in a roasting bag with vegetables and made up a Port Wine Gravy that was so good that I would freeze the stuff up and dole it out sparingly for months.  Every bit of that roast was used with care.  Other than slices for dinners and sandwiches, the bits and scraps and other detritus that fell off the thing would be made into Cornish Pasties, Pot Pies, and other specialties for weeks.

That was when I heard Betty say "Oh that sounds goooood!".  I knew she was hooked.  She had a certain tone to her voice which turned it into an unsaid question of "You are going to make that for us aren't you?".

Of course we did.  It just took time.  Logistics.  You had to go to one of the few proper old line Butcher Shops here in Broward County and put in an order for just the right cut.  Not Choice, but Prime beef.  If we were going to do it, we were going to do it right.

We had to go to the liquor store and buy a bottle of Port.  That one, the one in the black bottle.

We got started using Port as a whim of mine.  It started with "Cheap Red Wine" as it said in the recipe, but we had run out, and the only thing remotely red was some horrible wine that was more vinegar than anything else and my cherished Port.  "Try it!" and it was good.  We never looked back.

The Port went in the roasting bag with onions, carrots, celery and potatoes.  If you never had roasted potatoes and carrots cooked in Port Wine, you are missing something truly wonderful.  The Port complements the carrots and enhances their sweetness and the potatoes are melt in your mouth good.

Can you tell we don't do this for just anyone?

Betty was looking out the window as she helped us get the roast into the oven.  We suggested a glass of Port by the pool.  She loved the idea and for every visit from that point on we gave her a generous glass of the stuff.  I broke out the bottle of the good stuff, the roast didn't need this.  This was a bottle of vintage port from a California vintner that after we got the bottle at discount learned that it was selling for over $250 a bottle.  Stock up!

Smooth as silk, it's called "The Ruby Relaxer" by butlers everywhere and this was some of the best.

She settled in on the side of the pool, breathed in the jasmine scented air, and sipped the glass of red warmth in pleasure.

"Oh Bill!  This is wonderful!  It's Bee-you-tee-ful out here!" 

Yes, she said it like that: "Bee You Tee Full!".  Her first language was Italian, and she learned English before hitting elementary school, but if you listened closely, there was the tiniest hint of it still decades later.

But she was right.  It was bee you tee full.  We sat outside under the umbrella, getting up occasionally to check in on the roast.

One point we were outside and heard a hum and a thump.  This being FPL territory and my having lived here for 9 years, I knew what happened.  There was a transformer nearby that blew.  Power was out and there was a roast sitting in the oven. 

While I prefer a rare roast, this was still a wee bit early by thermometer but not much.  Maybe 15 minutes worth.  We closed the door on the oven and gave it that time. 

Part of the preparation of this feast was that you remove the vegetables from the roasting bag, after removing the roast and let it "rest".  That allows the roast to have the internal temperatures equalize.  It's a good practice for any cut of meat when they're over an arbitrary thickness.  We placed the roast back in the oven although it was for all intents and purposes done at Medium Well instead of Well Done. 

It was this meal that got me hooked on making this dish by temperature in the future.  I don't care for Well Done as much as most.

But how to make the gravy?  We weren't going to waste all that Port Wine and Beef Drippings and the onions that sweetened it.  The next step was to pour it all into a blender, smooth it out, and then reduce it on the burners on the grill in the backyard if we had to.

Power was still out but I had a flash.  "Hey, doesn't your car have a 110V outlet in the back from an inverter?"

Yes.  This meal was going to be finished by making the gravy in the trunk of a car.

"Back your car up to the carport, pop open the back!  We will make the gravy in the car!"

Betty was still out back.  She was unaware of the drama.

The car got moved in place, and I heard the blender fire up.  After a while the gravy was brought back inside.

"Now what?"

On cue, we heard the power snap back on.  The oven had to be turned off, and we fired up all four burners under the roasting pan to quickly reduce the gravy.

True to form this was an amazing meal.  Betty enjoyed it so much that she asked to take some home with her for later.

"I'm glad you liked it.  Did you know what happened while you were out back?"

I told her the story and said "Yes, your gravy was made in the back end of a car!"

A one of a kind meal for a one of a kind woman. 

We all will definitely miss her. 

When I got the news from her daughter, Darlene, I was floored.  I was expecting it.  Our birthdays are two weeks or so apart.  I thought something was up when I didn't get a birthday card from Betty.  The last one was waylaid since it went to the Fort Lauderdale P.O and then back to Long Island.  I was hoping it was something like this but I somehow knew it wasn't.

We heard that she was in a hospital, and that she was recovering from an illness.  Things were touch and go.  If anyone could beat "this" it was Betty.

But she couldn't beat "Being 96".  She was lucid to the end, had a long life full of love, family, and friends. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Apparently We've Got a Substantial El Nino in 2015 Going On

Going through my morning routine, I stumbled across a BBC Article that said that we've got a Substantial El Nino event happening right now.  It was originally announced in March that it was a weak El Nino but apparently it's been upgraded.

The Australians have been watching since their normally dry climate there gets drier.  The assumption there being that you'll want to watch for more brush fires.

Since I'm not a weatherman, or a meteorologist, I decided to dig in and see what I could find.  That led me onto a long search on the subject of what does that mean to me here in South Florida.

Wetter than normal, fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic than normal in the summer.

If that is the case, that means we won't have any water worries for a while here because Lake O will refill (isn't it high already?) and the aquifers will recharge.

The pages that I came across were all about general trend and so forth and a discussion of how it all comes to pass.  Something shuts down the tradewinds that normally push water across the Pacific towards Australia and Indonesia.  The resulting wave allows the water to relax and flow back towards Ecuador and Peru.  Since that water is from a hot part of the world, the Australian water will warm up Ecuador and Peru when it gets there causing droughts and less productive fisheries.

The maps are general, and usually show "trends" with blobs all over the place to indicate the broad probabilities.  This NOAA map is typical, and shows the Summer.

That is what this video shows.  A nice concise description from Climate Central of the mechanics of the El Nino effect.

There are world wide consequences, mostly focused in the middle and central latitudes in a big thick band.  Above roughly latitude 40N (Philadelphia, PA) the effects lessen.

However, if you're a ski fanatic, book your trips to the Western Resorts since the weather is expected to be, generally, wetter than normal.  They need that there, but the Southwest, West, and South will be wetter, just like here.

Wetter winters can mean more snow and some more blizzards than usual.

Perhaps too much because we'll be hearing about flooding where there were droughts earlier.

That Wet And Cool implies either ice storms or blizzards in the Interior South of the US.

Again, that probability thing.  Since the weather is such a complex system, the idea that one El Nino will be just like the rest.  Looking back at the last 60 years, and categorizing the events by strength, the stronger events had a significant amount of variance between them.

The rain patterns are not set in stone and there aren't "Rules" but trends. 

The best thing to do is to say Weather Will Happen, and Be Prepared since you can't change it.

But for me, the takeaway is fewer hurricanes in Florida.  I've been wondering about that.  I still have Hurricane Food from last year to be eaten!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Coffee By the Pool

I usually warn people when they come for a visit about this.  We have mosquitoes that will carry off a small car here. 

If I know that we're going to be outside for any length of time, I will spray instant death into the hedges nearest where we'll be.  Barring a Simpsons Style Springfield Dome over the yard, that's about the best we can do.

What we were doing for a while was when we'd be in the pool is to turn on the big noisy fan.  It would be pointed at the seats in the shallow end where you could safely sit in the breezes.  It also had a side benefit of being cooling.  While things here aren't as hot as the big Northeast Cities are in Summer, it gets hot here, and the sun being almost directly overhead at noon can be a bit intense.

For some reason, this particular morning they were conspicuously absent.

My own routine is to take Rack out back after breakfast.  Give him one last chance at the trees before it's time to get busy with things.  After that, he will spend most of the day dozing in the crate in the house until dinner. 

Or as we know it, the Evening Mooching Hour.

I walked to the backdoor, looked back at him in the crate and asked "Do you want to go out back?".
The answer "Duh" seemed to be appropriate as he trotted to the door waiting for me to leave.

I normally wander around the yard inspecting the cuttings that I have out there.  I'm growing far too many cuttings for the yard in the "irrigation chain" at any given moment.  The result is that instead of having pretty flowers, the pots all have a bit of a "He's Doing Something" air about them.  They also need tending.

The morning poking and prodding of pots.  Except it was not really needed.

That particular morning, it just didn't feel right to do that, or to go back in since it was a bit earlier than normal. 

Rack was done, and hovering at the backdoor already wanting to be in.  I was being preoccupied with the hedges and perhaps a little passive-aggressive.  "I'm not ready to go in, Boy." as I sat down at the chair by the table near the pool.

At that point, the noise level stopped.  The growl of the weedeater down the block was silenced and no train or traffic noise reached me there.  The only thing I heard were natural sounds.

The Rock Doves making their nasal "Mehhhh" sound.
A flock of parrots rushing overhead chattering on their way.
The rustle of the palm fronds on the utility easement as a scrawny squirrel walked a tightrope East into the Sun.

Still no mosquitoes.  Strange.  You get used to avoiding the girls and when they're not there, you take advantage of their absence.

It just was too nice a morning to go inside.  Rack padded over and looked up at me with big brown eyes.  We enjoyed the respite before the day got going in full swing.

Even the amaryllis that was late blooming back in April was enjoying the scene.  It was sending up a flower spike that may put out some red tipped white flowers within a week.

Now I know what my friends were telling me about that spot.  If you can use it, it's actually quite a nice place to get your own motor started and watch the day get up to speed.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

One for Mother's Day

A family was having dinner on Mother's Day.

For some reason the mother was unusually quiet.

Finally the husband asked what was wrong.
"Nothing," said the woman.

Not buying it, he asked again. "Seriously, what's wrong?"

"Do you really want to know? Well, I'll tell you. I have cooked and cleaned and fed the kids for 15 years and on Mother's Day, you don't even tell me so much as "Thank you."

"Why should I?" he said. "Not once in 15 years have I gotten a Father's Day gift."

"Yes," she said, "but I'm their real mother."

Saturday, May 9, 2015


Did you ever wonder why earrings became so popular with men?

A man is at work one day when he notices that his co-worker is wearing an earring.

The man knows his co-worker to be a normally conservative fellow, and is curious about his sudden change in "fashion sense"

The man walks up to him and says, "I didn't know you were into earrings."
 "Don't make such a big deal, it's only an earring," he replies sheepishly.

His friend falls silent for a few minutes, but then his curiosity prods him to ask, "So, how long have you been wearing one?"
"Ever since my wife found it in my truck."

I had always wondered how this trend got started.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe

Ok, no matter how good or how bad a baker you are...

You can make this recipe.

Seriously.  Three ingredients.  It falls together.   Add your ingredients to a large mixing bowl.  Mix with a dinner fork until even or smooth consistency.  Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes or until they begin to look golden.

The hardest part of this recipe will be leaving them to cool for the right amount of time - a minimum of 5 minutes.

Really.  Go sit and watch TV for five minutes longer.  Find a great song on the radio.  Let the dog out in the backyard.  I don't care.  They have got to sit and "harden" a bit.

The taste?  Classic peanut butter cookie.  If you like them, use this recipe.  It really is great.

Now the nitty gritty.

They are peanut butter cookies.  Each one is 20 grams of batter and yes I weighed them out.  Thats a bit more than a teaspoon or exactly .70 ounces.  Use a scale.  That gives you a 100 calorie cookie, without the chocolate kiss.

The peanut butter.  Common every day supermarket brand peanut butter complete with all the junk like sugar that they add to it.  In this case the good/healthy stuff you grind up yourself (you mean you don't?) will change the recipe.  I used what I had on hand from last year's hurricane supplies and it was cheap but it did not have that nasty High Fructose Corn Syrup according to the label. 

Crunchy vs Creamy Peanut Butter?  You choose.  I used crunchy because it was what I had on hand.

Why am I using a gram scale?  More precise.  I'm not going to try to measure out .70 ounces of batter, and I do want to make sure that I can have two and not blow the diet.  While I am a tall and athletic type, I remain tall and not "Big" because I do watch what I eat within reason, and portion control is your friend.

All weights are both in grams and US measures where appropriate.  The batch yields just under 2400 calories worth of cookies, so you're on your own from here...

  • 1 cup any kind of cheap Peanut Butter - 1517 cal - 233 g
  • 1 cup sugar - 774 cal - 207 g
  • 1 egg - 60 cal - 53 g
  • Optional - One Chocolate Kiss per cookie.  Unwrapped, of course.
  • Add all ingredients to the bowl.
  • Blend all ingredients together to make a uniform batter.
  • Texture will be like a soft modeling clay.
  • Drop one teaspoon (roughly) or 20 grams of batter per cookie onto Parchment Paper or Foil lined cookie sheet.
  • Roll each drop of dough into a ball and flatten with a large-ish dinner fork for the traditional cross hatch pattern.
  • Cookies should be somewhat flat and will spread while baking. 
  • Bake Cookies for 10 minutes at 350F or 180C or until just beginning to turn golden brown.
  • Allow cookies to firm up for a minimum of 5 minutes before moving to cool completely.
  • Enjoy with milk or coffee.
2351 cal per batch.  493 g total weight.  Divide into 24 pieces. 20.5g each

There, wasn't that easy?

Recipe was adapted from this video below.  Worth a watch for this crazy Aussie Bloke's video style too.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Impossibly White Mailbox Becomes Impossibly Red

Have you ever done something a little different?
Perhaps a little "Out There"?

And did it simply because it pleased you?

This is one of those things.

Actually this is one of those things, version 2.0 or perhaps 3.0.

It was first the Impossibly White Mailbox.  Well actually, it was black, then it faded to charcoal, then it got cleaned and stayed charcoal.  It got painted Primer White, better known as that white nobody uses as their finishing coat except Grecian Islands like Santorini.  

"But these islands are so beautiful, why don't we paint our house white with blue trim?"

Because you have to clean that white, that's why.

I got thinking.  It can be dangerous when I start Thinking.  Capital T Thinking.

Why stick with "regular" colors.  There aren't any regulations to it.  Why not be creative.  The house is this weird Broward county color.  Peach I'd describe it but that was after years of being in the sun and bleached and coated with stripes of rust due to the ground water in the irrigation here.

I'll get around to cleaning that.  I got the rust cleaning solution a while back...

Yeah, I got it in 2007, it's in the laundry waiting.  Procrastination is a bear.

I was thinking all this when a neighbor walked by and said "You should really try something wild and bright!"  He suggested every color in the rainbow then suggested a rainbow motif.

I'm creative, but that's a lot more complex than I'd prefer. 

I smiled and took the suggestion and started banging it around.

Light colors fade quickly and will turn rust colored because the mailbox gets "watered" twice a week.  6AM Thursday and Sunday for 50 minutes I believe.

That won't work.  How about Barn Door Red? 

We set out to the paint store looking for anything rust colored.   Actually we did that as an afterthought and came home with "Real Red".  Ok, it was a styrene paint that promised a shiny and hard seal.  Think of those 1940s era nail polish.  That bright.

I painted a coat of that.  Not so good.  It looked streaky and the paint had a nasty habit of drying before it left the brush.  It also attracted bugs. 

Lots of bugs.

Luckily I got most of them out of the La Brea Tar Pit that was the gummy paint and since the box itself was textured, they hid well in the goo.

I put down a couple coats but each time the stuff dried so fast that there were some nasty brush strokes.  

Version 2.  I went out and literally peeled the paint off in sheets.  Like wallpaper.  There's bits of it still in the grass after it got mowed and hit with the weed eater.  Don't look too close.

I painted again.  More bugs since we're having an early wet season.  I painted over a mosquito in an inaccessible spot.  Nasty creatures those mosquitoes.

But the red looked good.  After a couple coats I stopped and sanded to get a good finish.

That rain thing?  Yeah, hit us with 2 inches of rain in 24 hours.  At least it's clean.

I'm waiting for a dry weekend.  We'll give it another coat.  Paint thinner was needed.   One last check before we left for the paint store again.

"Hey!  It thins with Water, we don't need to go to the shops!".

Damn, I like going to the shops.  Keeps me out of trouble.

So if you're coming by, just look for the Impossibly Red Mailbox.  Just like a candy apple or a fire engine.

Do they still eat those?

No, not the Fire Engines, Candy Apples!

The mailman likes it too.  He told us so.  Well, two out of three.  The third one was a little huffy.  "That's not traditional!"

"Neither are we, Ma'am, neither are we. But I do have one more coat to do when I get the chance."

Should look nice and garish with those gold numbers I have for the side!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Dog and the Hedgehog

If ever I were to open a "Proper" British Pub, I think I would call it "The Dog And The Hedgehog".

There would be lots of deep dark wood on the walls, yellow brass railings polished bright, and hunter green paint elsewhere.  Bottles of Hard Cider, Dark Ales, and fine Single Malt Whiskey would be on offer.  Maisey, my buxom, brassy, and brilliant barmaid would bring you your Fish and Chips on a platter the size of a hubcap, and she'd greet you with a larger than life presence.

"Cheers, Love!  'Ere's Yer Dinner!  Tuck in!"

Of course, pictures of Elizabeth would grace the walls.

But in this case, it's simply a story of a new toy.

You see, my dog, Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) has a fixation with his Hedgehog.  It hasn't been destroyed, completely, yet.  It has had its eyes chewed off in the grisly first few hours of it being given to him, and now is preened within an inch of its life.  He got it in a care package from a good friend of mine up in Atlanta, Craig.  The hedgehog was a bit of Swag from a computer show that he had gotten on a memorable trip to San Francisco.

When I pulled it out of the box, Rack's eyes got big and it was a match made in heaven.  It was also the first time I saw him assert himself towards a toy.

Rack reared up on his hind legs and grabbed it from the room divider, a full 3 feet off the ground.

A Meter high since we're talking about a British Pub.

Fish and Chips would be quite nice right about now, come to think about it.

Trotting off to his doggy bed, he settled down to blind the little plush toy in excitement.

Like Lettie before him with her fixation with plush Squirrels, Rack loves his plush hedgehog.

Hedgehogs aren't really common here.  They aren't native to Florida or the US, and are quite better off living under hedges in Britain, munching on grubs, and living in their native habitat.

Plush Hedgehogs are welcome though and we set off to look for a new one every time we went off to one of the handful of Thrift Stores here and there.  I always look at the plush animals, and finally we found a second and New To Us Hedgehog.

It made it home and sat out on the bar looking in at the kitchen window because you really do want to wash something like that in "superhot" water to kill anything that may have been hiding in the thing. 

Plush Hedgehog yes, bedbugs no.

Once it came out, Rack had the same reaction.  Mine.   Please, Dad, Mine?  He came over to me, and bore twin holes in my heart with two brown eyes.  I held the older hedgehog in one hand, the new one in the other.  Each time he reached for one, I moved the other out of reach.

Finally he realized what I was saying, One, Not Both, and grabbed the new one. 

Settling down with his prize, he fell asleep next to the big green chair in the corner of the little house on the Island dreaming of new toys, Hedgehog, and Maisey the Barmaid bringing me some proper Fish and Chips with a dark ale on the side.

Ok, maybe not the Fish and Chips, but you get the picture.   Kid with a new toy takes it to bed and sleeps well that night.

Now that he has two, I can actually wash the other one.  You see, these plush toys get a bit stiff after use. 

You really don't want stiff quills on the outside of a plush hedgehog.  That's for the real ones made of prickles and flesh and blood living happily under a hedge in a cool climate far away from here and a curious black and white dog.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ginger Flowers in the Parking Lot

Walking around town at all hours of the day, I expect to see new things in random places.

I'm one of the first to notice when a neighbor does something to their property like adds new lights or has a bit of fun with landscaping.  I'll notice when a new car shows up, or a business gets ready to open before most will.

It's all a part of getting out and exploring your environment.   Get out, enjoy the world, and see what is around you.  It's a requirement when you have a dog.  If you don't take your dog for a walk, frequently, more than once a day, you'll have behavior problems, guaranteed.

Besides, you could use a little time up from the keyboard or the couch.  I know I could.

This particular morning, my body woke me up at 5AM.  Just like a Swiss Watch, I'm up at 5.  I have no explanation for it other than I started getting up early when I was competing on inline skating races in Philadelphia and the habit stuck.

Throwing on clothes, the dog's harness, and loading my pockets with bags and other needed things, I entered the predawn darkness.

We walked through the regular places in our regular routes when we came upon the Gables Wilton Park.  A rather large and well kept upscale apartment community here in Wilton Manors.  It has always looked as I would expect an apartment complex to be for what it is, and how it is marketed.  The buildings are immaculate, the plantings are interesting, and the grounds are clean. 

Pretty much like you'd expect.

They have much the same plants you see everywhere in South Florida, and set in the gardens in pretty much the same manner.  Low maintenance, and I would expect low water use plants, kept in neat rows so that maintenance workers can get to everything.

I couldn't but I'm quite a lot taller than your average landscaper.

One of the things that was planted was some ornamental ginger.  I don't know if the stuff is edible, but it is the same plant that goes into my cookies when I make ginger snaps.

I'm used to seeing them all over town.  They're a pleasant plant for ornamental use, they don't seem to spread, they don't overgrow, they're not invasive, and they're about knee high. 

What I didn't expect was the flowers.  I've never seen them bloom before.  I guess I'm still getting used to being in South Florida and the tropics, but this just struck me as being a bit novel.  Not odd, simply new.

The flowers weren't overly scented, my own weak nose didn't smell anything at all.  They weren't large, the inflorescence was about the length of your hand.

Just novel.  A nice change of pace.

I made sure that Rack didn't water them himself, and we wandered on about our business making a mental note to get a picture of the things later when the light was better.

So that's what your ginger looks like before it gets turned into snaps.  Tasty!