Tuesday, June 30, 2015

If You Are Walking Your Dog In A Traffic Lane, You Are Doing It Wrong

Walking the dog early is usually the easiest lap around town. 

I wander out to Wilton Drive simply because there is just enough activity at 5AM to keep the dog on his toes.  Being very fearful of loud noises, having silence is not beneficial.  I actually look for a little bit of noise, just the right level, so that he will calm down.

He's getting better, and starting to relax.  It's 5AM, what else is up at that hour?

I was not paying too much attention to my surroundings other than to ask Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) whether he needed to "Go Poop?" over and over in a mantra. 

He didn't.  Instead he gave his tail more than the usual four flips when I talk to him.  When the wagging didn't stop but got more constant and more vigorous, I looked up and noticed about a long block away there was another dog.

Actually there were two little balls of fluff, one white, one black.  They were being walked by someone who was walking this way.

When he spotted me, he walked out into the traffic lane to give me more room than he really needed to.

Basically, if your dog is so untrained that you need to walk into a mostly deserted five lane highway, it is you that need to be trained.

I kept walking toward them.  Rack's tail stopped wagging and dropped some.  He recognized the signs as
well.  Someone needed an education.

We both watched the two dogs and the owner as we got closer.  The owner was head down and picking up the noisier of the two dogs, an unstable little black bedroom slipper of a dog.  He was talking to the dog in low and gentle tones and picking it up.

I could see the other white dog backing away from the drama as if to say "Hey, this isn't me!".  It watched us dispassionately and even sat down.  The white dog was much more balanced, and even calm in this situation.

So what was the owner saying to the little black dog? 

Primarily he was feeding into the misbehavior.  Clearly the owner wanted the barking and the nonsense to stop.  He never hit that dog, and hitting a dog is both cruel and useless behavior, but nonetheless the dog was being mistreated.

Why "Mistreated"?  Because the owner was buying into the unwanted behavior by caressing the dog.  Instead of giving the dog a verbal correction when he saw the behavior start, he was feeding into the circular logic of the situation by picking up the lap dog and "comforting it".  What he was doing to the dog was approving the behavior by giving it the attention it craved since lap dogs want to be handled. 

Different breeds have different personalities.  Certain dogs need to be handled, others to have a job, others to guard.  It's all in understanding that personality and working with it and conversing with the dog in that context to make certain that behaviors are amplified only when they are beneficial to the dog's well being.

Two dogs and a human in a traffic lane at 5:20 in the morning just to quiet a yapper down proves that the owner clearly was not in charge and not leading the pack.

At least the owner was taking the dog out for a walk, and for the size of the dogs it was going to be a significant one.  Little frou-frou yappers out on that particular spot of a commercial street were going to get more than a quarter mile walk even if he turned them around in frustration.

The best thing he could have done was to check himself.  He was clearly tense.  Shoulders were solid, back rigid as he bent down to talk to the dog - pointing himself backwards in an admittedly unused traffic lane. 

We passed.  The little white dog watched us pass but nothing really happened there, it was content.

The black dog was continuing its stamp of disapproval on its owner by growling and barking in mid air.

At that time of the morning the solution in my mind was simply to keep moving.  We never broke stride
even as we both watched the situation closely.  Rack was riveted on it as well.

I can only hope that this is a new dog owner.  I can say that it's clearly too much for the owner.  Then again, some people shouldn't have a picture of a stuffed animal let alone a dog.

So what's wrong here? 

No rules - the dogs were on a 10 foot leash together and allowed to roam without direction or guidance all over the broadest part of the sidewalk. 

No boundaries and limitations - instead of being kept close to the owner where they would not be getting into trouble, they were given the freedom to wander all over the place. 

No, I'm not repeating myself.  The roaming in this case is that instead of merely being at the front of the leash it was in all directions, and the owner was not bringing the dogs back to task.  Ideally the dog should be at your side with a slack leash.  If you are at that point, the leash is merely a legal limitation, it probably can be off leash for a while, but it is best not to do so. 

If the leash is not slack, at least make certain it is not being pulled by an overeager dog.  That takes time, and it also shows how well the conversation between owner and dog is going.  If the leash is directly in front but pulled tight, it shows the dog knows where it is going.  That isn't ideal, but it is markedly better than having a dog weaving all over the place.  A weaver of a dog like that and you are lost.

You really can read the leash of another dog and its owner to know how well trained the dog is.

When you find yourself in that situation where you have multiple dogs with some or all acting up, it's time to reverse and regroup yourself and do something different.  Rehoming one or more is a possibility, but first try to keep the house together and walk the dogs separately.  Work with each.  After all, you have more than one walk a day, so make the quietest dog walk environment the walk where the pack is together, the busier one would be the separate walks.

Don't want to do two walks with two dogs at a time?  Sorry, it's that or find a trainer.   Not for the dogs, but for yourself. 

There's a line that you hear about this sort of thing from time to time:  "Who's walk is it anyway?".

It's not your walk, it's the dog's.  Take the time, calm yourself down, calm the dogs down, and take it one step at a time.  You will have a much better time at it and so will the dog.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Thoughts And Decisions And Clearing Your Mind

Take a breather.
Enjoy the moment.
Congratulate friends on their hard work.
Thank your allies.

Great.  There is a lot more work to get done.

No, not a "bring down" moment.  Just reality.

Share the moment, the glow of the decision, and breathe in the hope.  Think of the things in society that are wrong and need to be fixed.  Think of the work that will be needed to bring those who disagree with you, sometimes kicking and screaming.

I am fond of saying "It is a marathon, not a sprint" or "You're in it for the long haul".  There will always be naysayers, people who will refuse.  Their loss.  They are on the wrong side of history and they will be left behind.  The parking brake left on after the car is pulled into traffic.

Smug?  Perhaps.  I can think of other Civil Rights issues that were argued about in the past and decided and people adapted.

When is the last time you heard about someone complaining about a woman's right to vote with any sort of seriousness?

But there are many issues that need just the same attention as did same sex marriage.  Pick one.  Be involved.

If you are progressive in your society and you decide to sit at home next time voting day comes around, you are the problem, not the solution, and I will silently judge you as will many others.

If you are not progressive in your society, and that is your right, I have to ask you why.  If there is something incorrect, wrong, or broken, it certainly needs to be fixed.

Just ask anyone who crossed that bridge in Selma, Alabama if things are perfect.  They will tell you no.

Oh and that flag?  It's not a Pride flag, not that anything is wrong with flying a Pride flag no matter what your political bend.  It's an Italian Peace flag.  The word says Peace in Italian.  It's a wish for Peace towards all.  Even those you disagree with.  High goal to work towards.  I know I've got a way to go with that one too.  I have been told that I can be a bit ... "irascible" at times.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Angelic Time

A man prayed for some good fortune.

An angel appeared.
He asked the angel what's the equivalent of 5 minutes in heaven?
To which the angel replied 5 minutes is equal to 5 millenia in earth time.

How much is 5 million dollars in heavenly currency?
The angel said it roughly equates to 5 cents.

Can you grant me one wish?
Only one wish said the angel.

Can you grant me 5 million dollars?
To which the angel replied... Give me 5 minutes..

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Man Was Driving With His Wife When Pulled Over By A Cop

The following exchange took place. The man says, "What's the problem, officer?"

Officer: "You were going at least 75 in a 55 zone."
Man: "No sir, I was going 65."
Wife: "Oh, Harry. You were going 80." (The man gave his wife a dirty look.)

Officer: "I'm also going to give you a ticket for your broken taillight. "
Man: "Broken taillight? I didn't know about a broken taillight!"
Wife: "Oh Harry, you've known about that taillight for weeks."

(The man gave his wife another dirty look.)

Officer: "I'm also going to give you a citation for not wearing your seat belt."
Man: "Oh, I just took it off when you were walking up to the car."
Wife: "Oh Harry, you never wear your seat belt."

The man turned to his wife and yelled, "SHUT YOUR MOUTH!"

The officer turned to the woman and asked, "Ma'am, does your husband talk to you this way all the time?"

The wife said, "No, only when he's drunk."

Friday, June 26, 2015

Mint in the Garden. It Really Is Like A Boat

I heard the call:

"Hey, does anyone around here have any mint?"


But ... plant it in a pot that is placed on concrete. 

I am aware of the idea that you plant things in accordance to your conditions.  Native species always take precedence over something that has been introduced.

Who knows if that pretty flower that you have loved when you lived in a different place will take root and go wild.  If it goes wild, it will upset the reason why you moved to this place, wherever it is.  Because you liked the environment.  That would be my guess.

Once it is established here in South Florida, nothing ever dies.   It just gets big and takes over.  There's this palm tree in front of my house because it sprouted in a pot in my backyard.  I wasn't quick enough to pull it out of the pot and I took the high road.  It looks good there in The Island, fighting off the dying bottlebrush tree but that is a different story.

My own yard has some invasive philodendron and some aggressively invasive Virginia Creeper.  Both grew into the turf in the backyard and the only way to eradicate those is to tear up the grass.  I'm considering concrete.  Maybe Napalm or contacting our government to see if they have any of that Agent Orange stuff left over.

Yes, those beautiful green heart shaped leaves that you have stuck in a pot up North are growing through my grass and weaving themselves tightly.  I may just send a box of the stuff to my sister.  She likes the plants and they won't survive up above the freeze line in the winter.

I'm hearing her shout "NOOOOO!" already.

It's all the same problem as the Mint.  You see, they grow on runners.  Technically they are rhizomes, I think.  The plant sends out roots at a regular interval while it is on the ground.  Those roots take hold and burrow down.

Whether it is Virginia Creeper, Philodendron, or Mint.   Keep that plant in a pot, and don't let it touch the ground or it will be assimilated.

Just like the Borg.

You see little plants in strange places, so you pull.  As you're pulling you feel some snapping.  That's you leaving that root underground.  It "comes back" in a couple weeks.  A new crop.

I went out to my Mint Pot.  It sits by the back door and on the deck.  I am very happy to have it since I will just cut pieces off of the plant, stick it in a tall glass, pour boiling water on it after it has been washed, and let it steep.  Add a little sweetener, and I am a happy camper.

No, really, Mint Iced Tea is a great "surprise" after a workout and you're waiting for your heartrate to come down below 180.  Helps you hydrate quickly.  At least when I hit that bottle with the mint in it, I just down the thing.  Water isn't quite as exciting when you're sitting in a Jeep with the A/C blowing and you're cooling down.

But don't let the stuff even hover over the garden.

I saw one little plant.  They also have tiny little flowers, did I mention that?  Those tiny flowers will self pollinate and seed.  Those seeds grow.

Spearmint Tea is a wonderful thing.  Spearmint mixed in the garden can be a major nuisance.

So much so that if I knew someone I didn't care for, I have a prank in mind.  Just drop a sprig in the garden next to the sprinkler head.

"Hey Hon?  What happened to all the flowers we planted?  All we have is Mint!"

As the happy husband gets swallowed up by the creeping green carpet.  Boil him in water and add some honey.  Your husband is gone but he'll make a great tea!

So, sitting on my windowsill is a red plastic cup.  It's stuffed with bits of mint.  There's a bit of water in there and I'm waiting for it to root.

That is if I survive it growing out from the kitchen to assimilate me.  Careful!  I'll make iced tea out of you, I really will!

So how is Mint like a Boat?  Easy!  It's better if your neighbor has it.  That way you can borrow it whenever you need it.  Just like a swimming pool.  Be nice to your neighbor and they may just allow you to use it!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Learning Spanish With Franny's Feet - A Little Girl Who Has A Weird Thing For Shoes

About 2 years ago, I signed up for Duolingo.

Like most people, I picked a language and promptly dropped it.

There went those dreams of speaking Spanish.  Now, I have always said "If you can't learn Spanish in South Florida, you aren't trying hard enough", so I eventually went back to it.

Duolingo will teach you the language you select in a game format.  You answer simple questions, get clues, and have a goal.  By the time you finished today, you have learned a little of your selected language, and can come back tomorrow to do it again.  I selected a low goal because I didn't want to be playing games all day, even if it did help me get better at my goal of speaking Spanish.

According to Duolingo, I am currently 50% fluent in Spanish.  I'm finding that I'm picking up snippets of conversation in public, getting some of the words in songs, and even able to watch TV in Spanish with the Spanish Closed Captioning Turned on.

I guess I'm about a year and a half old again.  When I watch Sesame Street, make that Plaza Sesamo, I can follow it just about completely.  Simple Spanish sentences help me learn too, not just your toddlers and preschool kids.

I branched into watching some Spanish language TV when I realized that listening to the talk shows was quite a bit too advanced.  Plaza Sesamo was a good choice and it emboldened me to instead look into something geared to a slightly older audience.


I was channel surfing after taking Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) out for his romp around the yard one morning.  There is a small TV in the back room and I was looking at the over the air channels.  I stumbled onto a little girl with a high squeaky voice speaking to me in Spanish about some adventures she was on.

Mind you that wasn't what my mind was translating.  I did say I was only 50% fluent in Spanish, right?

The show called Franny's Feet was about a little girl named Franny.  She lived in a shoe repair shop with her grandfather.

Great!  Just up my alley!  She spoke slowly and clearly, so did abuelo or grandfather, and I could follow along.

But it got weird.

She would be chatting until the doorbell rang and in came a client.  They would invariably drop off some old shoes to be repaired.  I knew they were old because they always were discolored and had holes in the soles. 

Normal for a cobbler's shop, but I did say it got weird.

Franny's job was to put the shoes away in a box to be worked on later.  That's pretty easy except next she'd get this weird shoe fetish thing going on.  She'd set the stranger's ratty shoes on the ground and then ...

Step inside the shoes.

That's pretty gross to me, an adult who didn't really completely understand the action.  It must have been pretty gross to her because at this point she'd start to hallucinate.

The screen would spin around and she'd fall through a wormhole and appear in a magical world.

I did say that it was a wormhole.  There must have been something truly strange in those shoes the client brought in. 

She would have adventures with cartoon animals that all talked and told a story.  There was a light plot, after all it was about teaching children how to speak in which ever language it was dubbed in - It originally was an English Language cartoon from Canada.

At the end, everything was wrapped up in a nice bow.  The goats were reunited with their mom, the flamingoes became friends with the peacock and peahen, and there's one about a moose I'm looking forward to seeing simply because well, this is www.ramblingmoose.com after all!

I'm thinking what ever hallucinogen was in the shoes would then wear off and she'd fall back through the wormhole to the cobbler's shop.  Looking back inside the trippy shoes, she'd find something that came back from the other realm.  A feather or an old sweat band from the shoes would be placed in her shoe box of treasures after she put the old shoes in the work box.

It really seemed that it is like one of those old cartoons that a kid would watch and be entertained, and an adult would sit there and wonder what on earth was going on?

None the less, I haven't grown out of the show since I can actually follow along with the dialogue.   It's a little more advanced than Plaza Sesamo, and it's helping me learn.

Isn't that the point?

When I described this I was told I was reading way too much into it and got an email back with a sentence in Spanish:

a veces un cigarro es sólo un cigarro
Sometimes a Cigar is only a Cigar.

A rather famous quote from Freud.  A very nice touch by a friend.

In other words, maybe I am reading too much into the little girl's cartoon adventures, but I will say that this weird trippy view of the children's show is helping me stay interested enough to practice my Spanish in a safe and non-confrontational way.

We all hate confrontation.

So enjoy your cigars safe in the fact that they're just cigars, and that the Acid Trip that the little girl is taking is all in your head. 

Meanwhile, make sure you have good clean socks.  They're Calcetines you know!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pizza Sauce From Scratch Recipe

It's tradition with me and Pizza, I have to quote Homer Simpson:

Mmmm, Pizza!  Ahhhh!

The thing about Pizza Sauce is that everyone can go to the store, buy a jar off the shelf, and make a pretty passable pizza if you have a decent crust and some good cheeses.

If you do go with the jars, the best one I ever found was a black and white (mainly) label from a company just two towns over from where I grew up.  Medford, NJ.   Some of the Italians moved out of Philly after the Second World War, settled in the pines in NJ and made some pizza sauce.

But.  It's jarred, and therefore "not fresh".

You can't just use Mom's Spaghetti Sauce either.  The spices are wrong.  I don't know how to describe that other than to say that Pizza Sauce should be slightly sweet, thick, and not runny at all.   If the sauce is "hot" with a peppery burn, it's done wrong - this is Italian cuisine and not Tex-Mex.  If it is not thicker than Spaghetti Sauce consistency, the water in the sauce will stop the crust from cooking properly.

Nobody likes a soggy bottom in a pizza.

The original recipe for a pizza was purported to be nothing more than sun dried tomatoes on a slab of dough with some mozzarella cheese on top, and then baked quickly in a very hot oven.  Get the bottom crispy.

That goes for Sicilian as well as Neapolitan pizzas.

So along with the quest for the perfect pizza crust, I'm looking for the perfect pizza sauce.  When I said the other day that I wanted to make a Pizza For The Weekend, I was told that my sauces weren't up to snuff.  My response was simply:

"Find me a better recipe".

This is Better.  It's not Perfect.  But there is no such thing as a perfect pizza sauce unless you make the effort to make it yourself and really hone that sauce to what you want - because it is what YOU want.  Besides, my standards for "Perfect" are high.

Extremely and perhaps Obsessively high.

Never Mind All That, Here's the recipe we have settled on:

  •     4 Teaspoons Olive oil
  •     1 Tablespoon Butter (optional or sub more olive oil if you're being healthier)
  •     8 Cloves of Garlic, minced - going to roast it first next time
  •     3.5 Teaspoons Onion Powder
  •     1/2 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  •     3 Teaspoon Fresh Basil,
  •     2 Teaspoon Fresh Oregano, chopped *1 Dried
  •     1 large can San Marzano Tomato's crushed by hand
  •     1 small can Tomato Paste
  •     2/3 cup Fresh Parmesan Cheese, grated
  •     4 Teaspoons Brown Sugar
  •     1 Cup Warm Water
  •     Dash of fresh ground pepper


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and butter and heat until almost shimmering. 
  2. Add the garlic, stirring a few times around the pot and then quickly add the onion powder, red pepper flakes, basil and oregano. 
  3. Stir a few times and allow the herbs to bloom. 
  4. Add Parmesan Cheese, and brown sugar and then quickly dump in the tomato sauce, tomato paste and water. 
  5. Stir to combine and bring to a light boil. 
  6. Turn down to low, season to taste and allow to simmer for 1-2 hours for ultimate flavor or use immediately if needed. 
Oh, to make the pizza you see in the picture?  The pizza I called "The Second Best in South Florida"?
  • Use this stove top pizza crust recipe,
  • 7 ounces of this sauce, 
  • 6 ounces mixed cheeses, 
  • 1/2 a jar of mushroom pieces, 
  • and a couple slices of Ham - because I can
  • brown it in the oven broiler after it cooked in the skillet.
  • served two adult men comfortably.   About 400 calories each person.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Monarchs in the Ruellia Rescue Pot

The easiest plant I have found to propagate is the Ruellia.

Mexican Petunia.

They are also considered invasive weeds by some. 

One of those things I guess, the butterflies and bees love the flowers, but the plants get out of control and will grow just about anywhere in the South.  Zone 8 to 11 if you're taking notes.

I guess I shouldn't propagate them, but since my entire property line on the East side is covered with them, they aren't going anywhere.  I get an almost 100 percent propagation rate from cuttings stuck in damp soil, and they make for a rather nice display in a pot.

Like I said, the butterflies like them and I'm all about making the butterflies happy.

I had this pot, one of my Rescue Pots where I was planting all sorts of stuff to see if it takes.   When I got a care package of some Mexican Milkweeds, I tossed the seeds into this pot and waited.

Nothing.  Nothing took.  That was back in March. 

Shrugging, since I needed to trim back the Mexican Petunia a couple of lawn mowings ago, I simply saved the cuttings and stuck them into the soil of that pot, densely.  Now the pot has this giant tuft of purple flowers and green leaves.

In the middle of that pot there was one odd ball Mexican Milkweed.  I could tell it was that because the leaves were not as dark as the Ruellia.  The leaves are almost identical, but it looked faded.

With my puttering in the garden each day, I thought it odd that my Milkweed had grown back healthy after being eaten back to sticks by all the Monarch Butterflies we have here.

Then it happened.

Momma Butterfly found my lone plant in the strawberry pot.  She missed the one in the Ruellia.

I shortly had three little baby Monarch caterpillars munching my plant to sticks.  "Oh Well, That Is What It's There For!" I said, promising myself to watch after my tiger striped pets.

A couple days later, they grew so big that they ate themselves low on food.  One of the caterpillars got hungry enough to try to escape the strawberry pot.  I saw it on the outside of the pot looking lost.  It immediately climbed onto an offered Sea Grape leaf that I picked up from the ground.

You guessed it, it went into the pot with the Ruellia.

So now I have caterpillar number 3 getting fat and happy with the Ruellia, which it seems to have a taste for too, as well as the other two back on the lone Mexican Milkweed that now is almost leafless.  

Good luck creatures, long may you fly!

Monday, June 22, 2015

How to Make Oat Milk

When a friend was coming for a visit recently, he warned me.

"If you have any Almond Milk, I'd appreciate it.  I can't drink Cow's Milk.".

I didn't.  We don't have any lactose problems, and while I have been drinking skim or 1% it's because I try to shave unnecessary fat out of recipes where I can as a personal challenge.

We went to a warehouse store and found a half gallon of Almond Milk, and presented it to our friend when he arrived.  It was what he wanted and lasted past the length of his trip.

Since there was the better part of a half gallon left in the fridge I tried it.  It was fine, it didn't taste particularly strongly of Almonds so I finished it off.  Toward the end when I got to the bottom where all the sediment was, I noticed the taste getting stronger.  It was fine enough, but since it was markedly more expensive than the gallon of milk I used in my recipes, I thought I'd probably not get it again.

However it did get me to thinking about how this is done.  When a neighbor made up some of his own, Istarted looking into the process and thought I wanted to try it.

Since I truly hate wasting food, I thought I'd search for something I had on hand and would try the recipe with that.

It turned out that many Northern Europeans would drink a "Nut Milk" made from oats.  Oats are very cheap these days, and the recipe is dead simple:

  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • Optional sweeteners and flavors like honey or cinnamon may be added
The process was simple, and the whole recipe made a quart of Oat Milk by the time it was done.

But why would you do it? 

If you are trying to get more oat fiber into your diet, this is an easy way since all the soluble fiber is kept in the resulting milk.

The taste?  It tasted like plain oatmeal.  Since I don't cook oatmeal with any milk or sweeteners, it was familiar. 

The Process was very simple.

  • Add 1 cup of Quick Oats to the blender.
  • Add 2 cups of Lukewarm Water to the blender.
  • Blend the two together until completely smooth - a minute or more.
  • Strain the oat mixture in a metal strainer to make Oat Cream.
  • The oats strained may be used in other recipes or eaten as is.
  • Strain the Oat Cream through a nut bag, layer of cheese cloth, or a piece of sheer drapery material to make Oat Milk.
  • Add extra water to get the desired consistency.
  • My yield was 1 1/2 cup of Oat Cream, plus enough water to make 1 quart (four cups) of Oat Milk.
  • Refrigerate the Oat Milk and use like you would other nut milks within a week or so.

Yes, you double strain the mixture.
Yes, you thin it out to a quart since the Oat Cream is extremely thick.

Oat Milk is best in a breakfast cereal, and I am sure there are other places where the extra oat flavor will be welcome like in certain cookies and baked goods.

The whole process took me about a half hour.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Three Turtles Go On A Picnic

Three turtles packed their picnic basket full of amazing food and decided to go on a picnic.
They take 100 years to get to the top of a mountain, and finally they arrive.

 They start to unload the picnic basket and realize they did not bring utensils. Rock-paper-scissor and they decide one of them will go get them from home.

The turtle tells the other two, "don't eat before I come back!" After he gets their word that they will not eat before he comes back, the turtle goes back down the mountain.

So the two turtles left behind wait 200 years but the turtle is not coming back.
They wait an extra 100 years and decide that turtle is probably not coming back, so they start to unpack the food to eat.

Suddenly from behind a rock, the turtle that left 300 years ago pops out and yells, "A-HA! I KNEW IT!"

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A 3 Legged Pig

A traveling salesman was driving on a back road when he saw a huge pig with three legs. The salesman had some time so he pulled up to the driveway and found a farmer.

The salesman asked, "I was driving by and I saw your pig and I was wondering what happened to it."

The farmer replied, "Oh, that pig he's a special one. One year we were in a rough drought and the well dried up, and this pig dug straight down until he found water. Then the next year this pig saved my wife from our barn when it caught fire."

"But what happened to the pigs leg" the salesman asked.

"Sir with a pig that special you don't eat it all at once."

Friday, June 19, 2015

Rack! Rack! Rack! Run! Run! Run!

I need to stick a video camera to my head.  Maybe glue an old cell phone to a baseball cap or borrow a Go Pro.

You see, we have a new game in town.  It used to be that I could just stomp or jump and Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) would run around the yard a couple times.  Keep that up for a good five or ten minutes and we end up with a tired dog.

A tired dog is a happy dog, right?

He got onto us and stopped running around after a good clap and stomp.

Not good.  That run just before the dog walk would have him go back to the wormhole behind the shed and do his business where the iguanas, opossums, and racoons would come into the yard at night.  Him leaving his business back there in the beach sand that passes for soil here left scents and kept the wildlife away.

Now before you get started, I like wildlife, I just don't want it using my pool for a place to wash their food.  Cement ponds, movie stars?  Well the wildlife droppings doesn't mix well with crystal clear salt system chlorinated pools.

When they pay the mortgage, they have a say.  I can hear someone say that already.

So, what to do?

I jumped once, and Rack got interested.

I'm a big guy.  6'4" and 225 pounds.  My workouts consist of a lot of aerobic activity in the way of some very high speed inline skating and a lot of walking.  It also means that I'm a bit wobbly.  Oh, I am fine on my feet, but when I stop I end up shifting from foot to foot.  The phrase "Built for speed" is appropriate there.  You can make me wobble but I can't easily be knocked down.  I'm too used to moving.

So I jumped again and this time I missed my landing.  I ended up stepping forward to remain upright.

Rack was immediately interested and ran over to my side.

I trotted away.
Rack ran past jumping the entire way.

Fine, Rack, since you like that sort of thing, lets try this...

"This" was me jumping and trotting around the palm tree and bougainvillea in a figure eight.

You can't outrun a McNab Dog.  It doesn't happen.  He was right on my heels.  However he did end up in front of me.

I chased him for a change chanting "Rack, Rack, Rack!  Run, Run, Run!" in an excited voice.

He did.  This brought back the energy I was trying to drain.   He started to chase me, while I was chasing him.  We were in a feed back loop.

Winding around the palm tree in ever tighter circles, it created a vortex.  The winds were effected and the trees started to bow into the calm in the center of the storm.  There was a collapse of space-time and Rack and I ended up falling into an area beyond the universe.

We saw the Tardis fly by and waved at Dr Who when he was doing his wibbly wobbly timey wimey thing.

I forget who slowed first but it was enough to break the spell.  Rack ended up flattened out on the grass rolling onto his back to show his joy that Dad, that's me, figured out what to do next with this high energy black and white cookie of a dog.

Mmm, Black and White cookies!  Yum.....

I gave him a tummy rub, a well earned one, and then stopped. 

Rack's brown eyes flashed potential excitement.
I trotted off again "Rack, Rack, Rack!  Run, Run, Run!".

Rack sprung to action back onto his feet.  Leaping over the cashew tree, he was on my tail like a flash.  We had a second session of running around the palm tree and more high pitched laughter from me.

If the neighbors were home they'd laugh too.  It's that kind of neighborhood.

After we fell back into normal space time post visit to Rack's family on the other side of the wormhole in the alternate universe, we slowed down to a plod.

Both of us were tired, excited, but very, very happy.   We had created a new game.  It turns out that my running at full speed isn't really necessary, a brisk walk is enough. All I need to do is walk toward him and say "Play!" and we're at it again, giggling, and trying not to fall.

This game is that.  See who gets dizzy first.  It's not always me, in fact I'd say it is probably equal, fifty-fifty.  Rack will flatten out when he needs a rest and I get to gather up my own wobbles and catch my breath.

Eventually I know it's at its end.  Rack will either try to drink from the swimming pool or trot over to the back door looking to go inside.

"Water?" I ask and get a tail wag in return.

Nothing like a little fun with the dog, right?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wilton Manors, Where Nobody Thinks Twice if You Are Running In The Sprinklers at 6:45AM

I've lived in a few places, but all of them were what I'd call Suburban.

I grew up in a Wonder Years house, in the Wonder Years suburb of Cherry Hill, NJ, in a split level that backed up to a wooded area and some small wetlands, baseball diamonds, and places to explore.

I moved off after college to an apartment building in a similar suburb, or rather a set of suburbs, and finally settled in Chestnut Hill, Philadelphia.  Oh, yet another suburb.

All of those places were stable.  There was a certain quiet way of life.  Sure, the kids were out and about on bikes, skateboards, and rollerskates having fun and generally tearing up the place.  This was the era that kids did that sort of thing, now it's called Free Range Parenting and it is the exception and not the rule.

That's a shame.  Kids are expected to sit in front of a screen making icons move and play first person shooters.  Turn the games off, it's a more interesting world offline than it is online.

But there was a certain way about these places.  Nothing too out of the ordinary, everyone seemed to have a role in life.  I guess there also was a bit of a small town air about it where you knew your neighbors and they'd look out for you if you needed help.

Then I moved to Wilton Manors.  Think of it as a resort town where the resort is for adults who want to sit indoors and play with their cell phones, just like anywhere else these days.  Some of that is good, the rest of that is a bit odd.

Again, Odd can be good.

Down the block there's a neighbor, Scott.  He has a wife, Cindy, and their kids.  When I moved in here I came to the realization that it isn't quite what it seemed living two blocks off of Wilton Drive.  I think I moved into Mayberry.

The kids were small back then.  They would come walking past the house in a pack.  Probably the only kids left on the block at that time, the families having raised their kids before and moved on out.  Homes get bought in waves when they are built in waves, these homes were built in the 1950s and 1960s so those children raised in these homes are at least in their 40s and have their own kids.

But the reason why they were in a pack was because it was difficult to walk with a big green aluminium rowboat on your back.  They'd go down to the nearest open water access with their fishing poles and buckets and go on the water for a proper day of fishing.

When their dad needed to find them for some reason, he'd come flying past the house.  No, he didn't run.  He was on a skateboard and frankly he's better at it than I am.  His wife was good at it too.

I figured if they could use their skateboards, I could get back on my inline skates and be at home.  I was.  Nobody thought twice about it.  In fact, I suggested that they use some of my old racing wheels on the boards for a smoother ride.

After a while they gave up the skateboards for an ATV.  Quad bikes.  They'd go up and down the block learning how to ride the things that gradually got bigger as they did.   The kids were better at driving than most people on the roads here in South Florida, and Dad had just as much fun as they did on them.

I remember telling them that they had better toys than I did and I was jealous.

I stepped out onto the porch thinking about this.  They were going off to the river today, early and on a rare week day.  I didn't see them as they were approaching, but that wasn't why I was out. 

It was irrigation day.  Sprinklers were running and I needed to check the things.

On the porch, I looked through the gardens.  There are a few plants there to make the property look less sterile, and they're indifferently cared for.  Some took, others withered away.  I didn't know why until I looked at the sprinkler heads there.  One was turned off, the other was down to about 1/2 power.

In most suburban neighborhoods, someone would notice a sprinkler problem and Have A Guy Come By.  That way you don't have to get your hands dirty and surprise the neighbors.  Always be wary of that, you don't want to surprise the neighbors.

People my great-grandparents age would say "Stop that, you'll scare the horses!".

Nonsense.  The sprinkler was turned off, and it needed to be turned on.  Now.  While there was still another half hour left on that zone.  That was Zone 1 and it only runs 50 minutes twice a week.

I watched the timing and realized I could trot out past the golf sprinklers that watered the yard from two directions and get there relatively dry.  I was right.  I got to the distant one and turned it up full, then repeated the process on the nearer sprinkler head.

Looking down I realized that my foot was in standing water.   Comes with the territory.  Wet clothes and wet shoes.

I watched the timing and trotted back to the porch.

At that moment I heard the kids say "Hey, you made it!".

I had a small audience.  Instead of being concerned that I was being odd or Un-Suburban, I smiled and thanked them and went back to playing Sprinkler Guy.

"Good luck fishing!"  I called back to the big green aluminium boat on the little cart that I grew to accept as part of the background here.

I heard "Thanks!" as I reached for the door knob.

Yep.  I live in a town where nobody thinks its too strange if you're running through the sprinklers talking to a rowboat on a cart just after sunrise.  After all, the crotons in the garden like it too!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Olive Oil on Bread, Rollerblading, and Roseanne


I still do it.  I have skated over 21,000 miles.  I'm still trying to get a feel for the trails here in South Florida, and I have to say skating here could be better.

When you build a path that is due East/West and due North/South, you're going to have one direction that you are with the wind on your back, another that it is in your face.  Just the way it is when the winds come off the ocean pretty predictably.

But, it's here, and I'm in paradise, and I can skate.   So I do.  Push myself with a heart rate that feels like I am slacking if it is only at 160, and I have seen it peak over 200.

Sounds excessive?  Maybe.  If you hear "He went while he was skating" just think "He went doing something he loves".

It wears through wheels quickly, and since you can't really find proper racing wheels easily these days since the sport died around 2003...

(Hey!  Where did everyone go?)

The idea of going to My Favorite Skate Shop is done.  I didn't like paying $6 a wheel when I would have to replace 2 after two workouts and I'd do 4 workouts a week.

I know... blah blah blah.  It's safe to say that I easily have more skate parts in Wilton Manors than any other place in town.  That box has enough bearings to last into the next millennium and it's packed solid with replacement wheels of five different sizes.

I had this conversation with myself without realizing I was actually vocalizing it the other night.  I was sitting on the couch half watching Roseanne trying to write in her basement and commiserating with her character that no matter how good it is, sometimes you just can't do what you love. 

Then I realized I was having that conversation with someone in the house.   Writing can be hard.  You hit a writer's block and you need a topic.  It's what others call A Muse, but I am not really good enough for a Muse. 

"Why don't you write about Olive Oil in restaurants.  You always complain about that and you haven't had a good Rant in a while".

Nobody really wants to hear about that.

You see I have a major problem with being presented a small dish of olive oil and sometimes herbs or balsamic vinegar with the implication that I'm expected to put it on a piece of bread. 

First off it looks like something I drained from the crankcase of my Jeep. 

Who ever got the idea that it is oh so very wonderful to dip a piece of bread into a puddle of motor oil and yard sweepings needs to sit over there in the corner with their face pointed into the wall.  Now, just wait, I'll go get my baseball bat and re-enact a scene from The Godfather.

No.  Just no.  Not ever.  Bring me the butter.  period.  Unsalted if you have it, Salted if you don't.  If you don't have butter, take the damn bread away.

I actually said the motor oil comment in a posh restaurant once.

Excuse me, but do you have any butter?
"Sorry, No."
Then can you take the bread away?
"Sorry, No."

She sniffed and spun around on her heels and left.

I think she may have had an idea when I insisted on our leaving a pointedly small tip.  I haven't been back.  I won't go back.  Rudeness is never an option in business or in clients.

I don't care if you personally think it's the best thing on your sliced bread since sliced bread.  I don't care if it is trendy.  No.  Just, No.

The idea of sticking a piece of bread into a "Fine reduction of balsamic vinegar, herbs and spices, and extra virgin olive oil" leaves me cold and a side order of wanting to lose the last particular meal I was fortunate enough to eat.

Yes, I understand it is a first world problem.  There are people starving, even in the same city I am in.  There are more important things to concern yourself with than someone's affectations.  But, in a restaurant, I know somewhere there is butter.

Bring it or the waitress's tip dies.

Is it old school?  Last Millennium?  So very last century?

Who the hell cares, bring it.  It's called Service.  Not Motor Oil on a plate.  I'd rather eat that push-wheel off the back of the skate than put that glop on a piece of a baguette.

"So why don't you write about that?  I would love to hear about it!"

No, it would just sound like a rant about how food trends are annoying and distracting from the actual quality of the preparation and the food itself.

"But why not?".

We will see.  Let the mind roll and see what spills out.  It was exactly what I was saying to the TV.  Write what you know, you will get something better out of that than if you forced yourself to write to someone's affectations about what you should or shouldn't do.

That whole controlling thing.  People don't want to be controlled, especially when they are paying for the privilege of it all.

Just like a little porcelain bowl filled with Fine Herbs, Spices, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and a Special Balsamic Reduction.

I'll take whatever the chef's got for butter, please.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Stove Top Pizza Definitely Is Worth A Try

In my quest for making a pizza better than the run of the mill pizza shops that we have here, I have tried many recipes.

Just search this blog for Pizza, I'll wait.

You see, all the bits and pieces are here but they've not quite come together yet.

My oven also doesn't have a proper pizza stone.  Oh, I've tried them a number of times, but they always shatter.  A Pizza Steel, a thick slab of steel over 1/4 inch thick heated to over 500F, will be tried when I find one.  But the oven barely makes it to 500 as it is.

The hotter the oven, the better the pizza.  Proper Wood Fired ovens reach 800F.  Melting of Lead happens at 621F.  My oven?  Struggles to get past 450F.

So I have tried different recipes.  The water in South Florida does something weird to my dough.  Or rather Pat's Pizza Dough Recipe.  I've used it since around 1995 or so, and it makes an incredible bread.  Rolls, Pretzel Rolls, and Sesame Rolls are three of the things I use it for.  But the water here... not so good for pizza crusts.

I have used filtered water and that helps get a crispy when toasted crust that I was looking for.  The next time someone comes down from the Philadelphia area, please come back with a gallon of local tap water?

So I experiment.

In this case, the experiment worked.  It's made a better crust than I have made since I moved down here.  That Cracker Crisp crust that you want in a Thin Crust Pizza?  It's definitely possible.

Mind you, the recipe needs refinement.  As I list it below, the crust is a little underdone.  It probably needs 12 minutes in the second stage of baking - after you open the vents on your skillet.  It certainly could benefit from a quick couple minutes under the broiler to give you a nice layer of caramelization on top.   Cooking a Pizza in a skillet means that the toppings (Cheese, or otherwise) will be hot and gooey, but a different texture.

If you do try this, you will understand.

And do try this.  It went together in less time than it takes to cook a frozen pizza from the supermarket.  It took me 20 minutes from scratch ingredients to slicing it up.  That means that you have a very dangerous recipe here once you figure out all the wrinkles.

If you are really observant, you'll notice that the stove is still on in the above picture and set to "3" - Medium Low.  My stove has numbers from Low, 1 to 8, and High.  Medium is "5".  Your stove may vary, but this is typical for an electric stove in the US.

This recipe is adapted from the video below and a host of other references online. 

But this is how I did it this past weekend:

Stove Top Pizza

  • Crust
    • 1/2 cup Self-Rising Flour
    • 1/2 cup Plain Flour
    • 2/3 cup luke warm water
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 rounded teaspoon dried yeast
    • 1 teaspoon honey 
    • Olive Oil to grease the pan

  • Toppings - 
    • 4 ounces "Pizza Cheese" 
    • at least an ounce of Parmesan, (My Preference)
    • 10 fresh basil leaves split between the sauce and the top
    • 1/2 can of mushrooms 
    • 7 ounces of Pizza Sauce (give or take)

  • Prepare the ingredients in a COLD and oiled skillet with heavy and seal-able lid.
  • The Skillet should be 12 inches or 28 CM.
  • Add all ingredients for the crust in the greased skillet until a slightly sticky dough is formed.
  • Spread the dough evenly on the bottom of the skillet to form your crust.
  • Add toppings to the pizza crust.
  • Turn on the burner to MEDIUM.
  • Place lid on the skillet and make sure vents are sealed.
  • Now that the burner has warmed up, place the skillet with the completed pizza on the burner.
  • Cook the pizza for 5 minutes with the vents sealed.
  • At the 5 minute mark, open the vents and cook the pizza for another 10 minutes at MEDIUM LOW
  • The pizza should easily separate from the skillet at this point with a spatula.
  • Check the bottom of the crust for your own personal preference of "toasted", more time will be needed if it is not brown enough.
The video that inspired me to make this pizza is missing some answers to some questions, but it is included below.

Monday, June 15, 2015

How About a Mango Lassi With Breakfast?

This is one of those things that I do pretty much all "Mango Season", but I do it without even thinking it's odd.

It's also something that I had been doing without realizing.

There is a recipe, but I understand that everyone has their favorite.  Mine is sweet, savory, and leaves a warmth on its way down but nothing really overpowering.

Since I mentioned it in passing, and a good friend on Facebook, Emilio, said that it brought back memories, I  thought that I'd expand here.

You see, I love mangoes.  We're deep in the peak of Mango Season at this point.  There are two pound fruits falling from the trees all over the place and I simply walk past, pick them up, and say "Oh, there's breakfast!".

But how do you eat them?

I was scooping out 10 ounces of Mangoes and serving with 1/2 cup of plain yogurt on top.  That works with Bananas and other "fleshy" fruit like Strawberries or melons of various types.

Then I got bold and dusted it with cinnamon.

I realized I was onto something that I deeply enjoyed at an Indian Restaurant and thought I should look deeper into it, and perhaps formalize it.

So here's the recipe for my version of a Mango Lassi:

  • 10 Ounces of ripe Mango Chunks, frozen.
  • 4 ounces or 1/2 cup of plain unsweetened yogurt.
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Turmeric (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Coriander Seed (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Ginger (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground Cloves (optional)
  • 4 (more or less) crushed Ice cubes
  • Optionally sweeten with honey, sugar, stevia, or not at all.  I don't.


  • Slice Mangoes into chunks and flash freeze on a cookie sheet in your freezer.
  • Add to the blender all ingredients.
  • All spices are to taste, and as such, they are all optional.
  • Turn on blender until everything is mixed thoroughly, the ice is chopped, and the drink is smooth.
  • Add a tablespoon or so of water and re-blend if the drink is too thick for you.

Serve in tall glass.

Calorie count is 215 (or so) for the entire recipe using non-fat unsweetened yogurt and no sweetener.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Train Set

The Train Set

A mother was working in the kitchen, listening to her five-year-old son playing with his new electric train in the living room.

She heard the train stop & her son saying........''All of you bastards who want off, get the hell off now, 'cause this is the last stop! And all of you bastards who are getting on, get your ass in the train, cause we are going down the tracks.''

The horrified mother went in and told her son, ''We don't use that kind of language in this house. Now I want you to go to your room & stay there for TWO HOURS. When you come out, you may play with your train, but I want you to use nice language.''

Two hours later, the son came out of the bedroom & resumed playing with his train.

Soon the train stopped & the mother heard her son say, ''All passengers who are disembarking the train, please remember to take all your belongings with you. We thank you for traveling with us today & hope your trip was a pleasant one.''

She hears the little boy continue, For those of you just boarding, we ask you to stow all your hand luggage under your seat. Remember there is no smoking on the train. We hope you will have a pleasant and relaxing journey with us today.''

As the mother began to smile, the child added, 'For those of you who are pissed off about the TWO HOUR delay, please see the fat cow in the kitchen

Saturday, June 13, 2015

An Orchestra In Albuquerque in July

A travelling orchestra had planned on being in Albuquerque in January and Minneapolis in July. However, their manager got the dates wrong and the group ended up doing a three-day run in an outdoor theater in Albuquerque in the middle of the July heat. The event was exhausting and by the third night, everyone was just hoping to survive one more concert and move on.

During the last song - Beethoven's Ninth - the bass players in the back of the orchestra hatch a plan. There's a bit in the middle of the song that's all violins and flutes, surely they won't be missed. They decide to sneak out to the bar next door for a drink, 'just to keep hydrated.'

They stay a little longer than they should have, and drink a lot more than they would have, when one of them realizes that they are going to miss their entrance. The ring-leader of the group tells them to not worry, as he had the foresight to tie the last page of the score down with a bit of string. It will take the conductor a while to unite it, which means the concert will stop and they can sneak in. They drunkenly congratulate him for being so smart as they stumble back to the theater.

Meanwhile, the conductor is in a bind. The very energetic end of the piece is coming up and his bass section is missing. The violinists are working up a sweat trying to keep up in the heat when suddenly the first violinist faints from heat exhaustion. This is the last straw for the second violinist and she faints too. The bass section begins stumbling in not so subtly as they are knocking people, instruments, and chairs over. To top it all off, someone has tied down the last page of the score as he is desperately trying to flip the page.

It would do us good to sympathize with the conductor and put ourselves in his shoes. From his vantage point, he begins to realize that:
  • There are two out, at the end of the ninth
  • The score is tied
  • And the basses are loaded.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Hey! Can A Dog Get A Little Privacy Here?

We've got an evening ritual around here.

I eat first.  My house, My rules.   That's fine because having a beta dog, my boy Rack wouldn't have it any other way.

After I finish or at least put a major dent into the plate, I call Rack over and start to feed him.   He's always eaten slowly, painfully slowly.  Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) is afraid of his own shadow.

We describe it as he's aspiring to be at the edge of the pack, close enough that he can see it, but far enough away that he won't get snapped at by the alpha dog.

I may be that alpha dog here, he certainly treats me like it.

I have to shake the bowl at him, tap the bowl, make sure that the food is properly hydrated with hot water, and hope that he doesn't hear a thunderclap less than 10 miles away.

No, I am serious.  No closer than 10 miles.  If it is any closer, he shuts down, begins to shiver and walks off.  It's not a pretty sight.  He really is that fearful.

So while I'm prodding my dog to finish his dinner, I'm listening closely to the conditions, trying not to knock anything off the plate, and for crying out loud just don't sneeze!

Now that we've got food in both of us, I rinse the bowl and my plate off.  It's a delaying tactic.  The longer it takes, the more likely he's going to go do his business back in the yard.

He's getting ready since he's sniffing at the back door as I scrape the last bit of sauce from my fork or my spoon.  Not alpha enough to dare staring me down, except in rare circumstances, I catch him looking at me through the corner of his eye.

I guess at this point he'd be doing the potty dance if he could.

"Gotta go?"  I ask.  "Back up!" to get him away from the door, I then remove the locking bar and the lock from the sliding door.

"Come on, Rack, Let's go!".

I step through and Rack darts past.  Once the pressure is relieved we move onto the next step - the dance around the pool.

Assuming that it's quiet, there aren't any trash trucks over at the Shoppes, or thunder out over the Everglades or the Bahamas, we start charging around the pool.

Throwing my arms wide, I start to run around with him.  He loves that.  Figures that he's part of the pack.  We both get winded eventually, although he's faster than I am.

At this point he starts sniffing again with a purpose.

Along the hedges on the East side of the property is a triple fence.  The property line, the wooden fence on the far side, and hedges and ornamental fences on my side.  It creates a couple dens, nooks, crannies, and small spaces that I can't get into.

On the other hand, Rack loves it.  He walks through it regularly.  If I don't watch, he's going to end up having a den behind my hibiscus and it won't be easy to get to him, let alone get him out if I need to.  This being Florida, there could be all sorts of critters back there too.  It's not exactly the best idea to let him go into the hedges since that is a prime location for nasty bite-y creatures.

But there he is.  Before I can stop him.  He squats.  I catch him looking at me.  Through a layer of wooden slats, a couple ruellia flowers, and the stand of hibiscus, I see one lone eye.   Dark brown.

I am being accused of being a Peeping Tom.  It as if to say "Can a Dog get a little privacy for a change?".

I follow after this dog for three miles a day.  Stuff my pockets with plastic bags of questionable strength.  Tested at home with pressurized air from my own breath, I make sure there are no leaks before I use it to pick up anything that I wouldn't want to touch.  We walk all over town.

So why are you hiding behind the hibiscus and the fence to get privacy, Now?

He comes out of the fence looking all proud of himself.  Chuffed.

We've got time to do a couple more laps around the pool.  I throw my arms out and say "Play!" and we start running like crazy people.

I guess all is well with the dog world after all.  He's running around two pounds lighter.

"Water?" Rack looks up and trots to the door.  I guess all's done out there.  What he did was to make the backyard safer for us and less of a habitat for wild creatures by leaving what he did by the fence.

Dog Logic.  I'll leave that there.  Keeps the iguanas away and it will fertilize the hibiscus.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Avanti in Pompano

In the TV Series Sex and the City, it is said that New York City is a place where models run wild on the street and you can actually see them.

In South Florida, Classic Cars run wild on the streets, and you can actually see them.

The other day when I rolled into the parking lot at Pompano Airpark, I saw this cherry beauty.

Avanti.  The last automotive remnant of the old Studebaker Car Company.  There's still a husk of the
company left doing leasing or some such nonsense, but their cars are long gone.  Their last year was 1966 when the last car rolled off the production line in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  March 16, 1966.

The Avanti was never a common car, although someone near us in New Jersey had a gold one well after the company went away.  5800 roughly were built total.

You or I will probably never drive one, and maybe it should just be that way. To find one on the road these days is the automotive equivalent of the holy grail.

When I rolled my Jeep in next to it, I parked far enough off from the car so as not to spoil the shots.  You just don't see these things in the wild.

I was That Kid that every neighborhood has even to this day.  I could recognize cars as a wee brat and tell you make and model with the high accuracy that only a child's OCD could manage. 

When we were older, my sister and I would be taken places by our cousins.  They were the ones responsible
for igniting my own Motorhead spark.  We'd stick our heads inside the cars and ooh and aah at the speedometers that crept well over the more pedestrian 120 MPH of Dad and Mom's Buick.  Muscle cars of that era had speedometers that were well over 150 MPH. 

Meanwhile I have a Jeep Wrangler.  It's never been over 80 and I can't say I've ever found the need to go faster than that.  Aerodynamics of a brick but I'll get there.  You may not, but I will, even if I have to take him off road.

Squatting down in the parking lot I got these few pictures for friends who appreciate the art of automotive design like I do.

I know of someone who will be firing off an email to me any second demanding full sized copies of these, and I'll just send him here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A Cashew Tree Is Born

We have been through this once before.

We tried it last year and I guess I am the cause of it failing.

You see, all these pots in the backyard by the pool are there for a reason.  I propagate "interesting" plants so that they can go into the gardens.

Anyone with the right conditions can do it, anyone with a green thumb has at least thought of it.

With all the three irrigation zones we've got, it makes it easy.  Put a pot out there on Zone 3, where it will get a daily gallon of water delivered directly to the roots without any extra  help from me.  Stick a seed in the pot.  Step away from the pot.

We did that last year.  Then I got started putting other things with it.

You see, a baby cashew tree does not like having its roots disturbed. 

It was joined by Japanese Yew.  Some of the Japanese Yew took root and it's doing well in the hedges on the other side of the yard. 

Where a little is good, a lot is better, right?  I stuck so much Japanese Yew in that pot that it was hard to find the cashew tree.

It gave up.  "You win" and dropped its leaves.   I babied the stick that was left and a few leaves came back, then it gave up again. 

This May when the Cashew Fruiting Season happened, we got three more cashew fruits.  They're an
interesting thing.  Orange or Yellow when ripe, they have a clean and almost astringent flavor to them.  The seed is on the bottom, and that is what we all recognize as those wonderful Cashew Nuts that we pay a premium for.  Cashews are expensive, relatively, because they need some special handling to get rid of the poisonous outside skins.

After all, the cashew nut grows for the benefit of the plant, not mankind.

So who knows what the cashew will bring, but it has started to toll for me.

Well, not me specifically, but I'm sure we'll find a place for it in the yard if I don't kill it with kindness.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Spider On Art

I have always noticed Public Art.

I will say that in this case it's a welcome art installation that works exceptionally well at night.  Art that Functions is a difficult dance to do well.

In front of Gables Wilton Park on Wilton Drive, there were once these blank spaces.  They begged to be filled.  Someone there decided that the thing needed was some lights.  Lights are great in Urban or Suburban environments, you never know what you will find.

Broadly, or what may find you.

They had the idea to put up light boxes.  Big rectangular boxes to break up the lines of the columns of the buildings.  Something to add to the aesthetics of the place while shedding light on the night.

Sure, they could have just put up a couple lights on a pole but where's the creativity in THAT? 

Instead of having just a big white block in front of the building that would detract, they filled it with what reminds me of holiday wrapping paper or perhaps wallpaper.  It isn't rigid geometric lines, there is some texture and irregularities to it to keep it interesting, and the "wallpaper" is crumpled a bit.  The crumpling added a certain something to it to catch the eye as you walk by at 5:25AM, or whenever you are in the area.

All of that was a while ago and it has had time to settle into the environment.  Florida itself has acted on the art but it has remained remarkably stable in the punishing UV that we have here.

The environment has been moving in.  We live in an area that if you drop a seed, it will grow, and wildlife lives here with you, despite whether you like it or not.  Coyotes in Boca Raton, Iguanas blocking toilets, Black Racer Snakes in the garden, Cuban Brown Lizards on the windows, and Geckos keeping down the pesky mosquitoes that are everywhere.

I could do without the mosquitoes, truly.

In the case of the big orange square, er, rectangle, a large spider has made it its home.  There's just enough of a gap in front of it that a spider had strung a web there for the last week or so and is getting visibly larger each day.  Spider, go eat those bugs!

I'm sure someone will squeal at it and either knock the web down or worse, but for now it greets the day with eight legs, eyes, and who knows what else doing its spidery business, decorating art for all passersby.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Add a Little Sweetness to Your Life, Have Some Mango Truck Nuts

Every so often you see something that makes you stop, scratch your head, and laugh like a fool.

I couldn't stop thinking about just how South Florida this was.

A bag of mangoes hanging off of a trailer hitch on the back of a Lexus SUV sitting behind a waterfront apartment in Wilton Manors, Florida.

So lets deconstruct that.  I will anyway since I'm still amused at the sight of it all.

It was taken in Wilton Manors, Florida just two miles from the beach.  Pretty South Florida to me.   Add to it that we're just about as central a location as you can possibly get.  Travel time to Downtown Fort Lauderdale can be as little as 10 minutes, and we're by time about the same distance from West Palm Beach and Miami's respective downtowns.  It's a little further to West Palm Beach but the roads are better heading North.

Now, that whole Truck Nuts thing?  It's a more redneck affectation - you generally don't see them hanging off of anything that isn't a pickup truck.  I have seen them on a random Jeep, but normally it's an F150 pickup truck that has been through a few miles.  A Beater.  Someone who wants to shock you. 

Why a shock?  Trucks generally don't come from Factory Equipped with a pair of day glow testicles hanging off the back so it's a bit of a sartorial mistake.

Doesn't harm anyone, but it is a bit weird.  My truck has bigger balls than you do or something equally Juvenile Mindset.  For the record, my Jeep's Trailer Hitch doesn't have anything on it at the moment.

This was a Lexus.  Mind you it wasn't exactly a new one, but it was a Lexus SUV.   So the idea of putting truck nuts on the back of a Lexus is a show stopper to begin with.

Now, it really isn't a pair of truck nuts.  It's a bag of about a dozen ripe mangoes.  Folks who have mango trees generally are trying to find a place to put all the fruit at this time of year.  A mature tree can easily put out about 100 pounds of fruit.  A large child or a small woman's worth of fruit.  It all ripens within a month of itself.

Some of that fruit can get big.  I have personally picked one mango that weighed more than 2 pounds.  That would be a full Kilogram for our Metrically Aware readers.  (Hello!)

You have to keep after your trees because a mango falling from 32 feet in 1 second is going to hit you in the head at about 27 miles per hour.  2 pounds hitting you at 27 MPH/43 KPH could be fatal.  So pick them before they fall.  The ones you don't get will roll out into the street and get mashed into the pavement or eaten by ants in short order.

Now what are you going to do with 100 pounds of fruit?

You can only make so much Mango Jam, Mango Bread, Mango Chutney, Chunked Mango, Caribbean Honey Spiced Chicken with Mango, and my own breakfast today, Mango Lassi.  Make too much and your eyes will roll back into your head in a sugar shock and you'll swear off them for the rest of the year.

I made 12 jars of Mango Jam and canned 9 of them.  If a storm knocks out power, we will have plenty of sweet Mango Jam to trade with the neighbors to have with their Peanut Butter sandwiches.

When September comes, My Dear Sister will probably get one.

(Hi Pat!)

That's how you get rid of your extras.  Some folks will sell a "Homer Bucket" full of Mangoes online.  The going price is around $10.  

But that's not what happened here.  A neighbor of this truck owner was gifted a bag of them and they were left to amuse me as I walked past.

In front of the little apartment house, next to the river that surrounds the Island City of Wilton Manors, deep in the heart of South Florida.