Monday, December 11, 2017

Kitchen Exotica and a Damned Fine Carbonara

At our only social event this season (not that I'm hinting or anything)  there was an interesting device on our hosts' coffee table.  A round base, a round wheel of a pale yellow/cream-colored cheese and a handle attached to a blade that when turned provided thin, thin rosettes of cheese.  They were very decorative and very simple to chew as they were paper thin.

I asked the man I was perched next to who was using it what it was and he told me it's called a "girolle" and originated in Switzerland in 1982.  In addition to being decorative, because it's slices are so thin, it's excellent for toasting on bread, etc.

girolle.ch  sells them (so does amazon.com) and there you can see what I'm blathering on about.  Usage calls for specific cheese - Tete de Moine (Monk's Head) at $26.46 lb. if you can find it.  The device itself runs from $30 to $60.  I think any hard cheese that does not crumble would work myself.
But:  there is another device with a similar end result and that is a Japanese spiral slicer.  With one of these, you put a carrot, or potato, a radish, or a hard cheese on the stake in the base (to hold it steady), put the cover on and turn the handle  It will crank out the same paper-thin spiral into the cover as the girolle and in the case of a radish is used for garnishing a plate or a dish.  The spiral cascading over a bowl of potato salad, say,  is very attractive and, bonus points, is edible.  Both are said to work well with blocks of chocolate.

Since I have the spiral slicer, no need to buy a girolle.  Since we don't have company to impress anyhow. Ah well.  Onward.
*****************************************
During this festive season the three beach cities - Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan - have graciously bagged all of the parking meters.  This is certainly an incentive move for us locals. 

Thus, after the Jazz Club, we went to Casa Vincenzo, 439 Pier Avenue, Hermosa.  Richie was in search of the elusive Chicken Cacciatori and had high hopes that he might have found it.  Alas.

But he consoled himself with their lasagna and very nearly ate the entire portion.  He had a temporary mental lapse about our house rule, "eat half; dinner tomorrow night."  I had to gently remind him (fork tines in the hand and a rabid glare work well.)  I am looking forward to dinner tonight myself and I really shouldn't have chided Richie as I could easily have scraped my bowl clean, too.

There was only one server working, a delightful, beautiful woman, with a slight accent.  I asked her if she spoke Italian and she smiled nicely and said, "No, French." Yeehaw!

Richie loves melon (cantaloupe in this case) with prosciutto so we started with that.  Beautifully displayed - melon crescents, cut in the middle to make an X which was then piled with prosciutto on the cross top and the whole thing lay on a bed of bright green vegetable (unknown to these eyes)  glistening with olive oil.

Seeing this I had high hopes for my quest - the perfect Caesar salad and then the pasta carbonara - but she said, "It's a huge portion of salad, I don't think it's a good idea with the pasta.."  Nodding her head, she added "Enough for a horse!" and I laughed and exaggeratedly looked out the window and we both giggled.

The Carbonara was linguini pasta with pancetta and a creamy Parmigiano sauce.  The balance in the sauce - rich, full, slightly salty due to the pancetta, was insanely good.  I remarked to her that the chef was tres sympa with pasta.  Meaning, he really understood pasta and knew his way around with cooking it.    

Lest you not like going out for dinner or if you miss the unveiling of the parking meters probably at midnight December 25th  - our local governments are greedy if nothing else, consider their weekend brunch.

I spotted two lures ... Eggs Benedict with pancetta, not Canadian bacon.  Vast improvement.  The Pizza Vincenzo contains parmigiana cream topped with black truffles.  For sheer snob appeal (truffles - of the earth and dearer than) I would order it.

Prices are reasonable, too - our tab was $67.00 before (20%) tip and taxes $6.37.
One flute of Prosecco Brut (me) one robust glass of Cabernet Sauvignon Maggio (R)
Melon prosciutto $12 - must have been most of a whole, large cantaloupe
Lasagna - again a generous portion served in a deep, square bowl $17
Spaghetti Carbonara $18.

It's 10:07 a.m. -- not too early for dinner, ya think?




Sunday, December 10, 2017

Caviar Pie

For probably the only social event in our schedule until mid-2018, we gleefully but somewhat sadly went to the party thrown by fellow Thurs. Writer Laura.  Beautiful house, incredible ocean and Catalina Island view ... if all we had done was sit out on the spacious patio and watch the sun go down, it would have been a gala occasion.

Happily, there was food.  I brought Country Pigs in Blankets (Hillshire Farms Lil' Smokies with orange marmalade instead of mustard)  as our contribution.  The degree of labor intensiveness  is a dead tie with making deviled eggs.  But they are very good and were soon gone. 

Few will admit to this, but the person who brought something will periodically cruise past to see how much is left.  If you brought a poor seller, so to speak, you won't bring it again somewhere else.

Another guest brought guacamole which is akin to saying the Pacific Ocean has a lot of water in it.  The bowl was easily as big as a baby's bathtub and it was filled to the 3/4th mark.  Surely it required 30 or 40+ avocados or stripping an entire tree to make it.  And it may be our (Southern California) last look at an avocado for some time.  The massive fires have damaged the avocado trees with fire, ash and smoke.  For Super Bowl you may find yourself prone in shock on the floor of the grocery store fruit and vegetable section, right next to the sign that reads "Avocados - $10 each."    But worry about that when it happens.

I was talking to a lovely woman named Noreen when a third woman came up and in the course of our conversation said that she'd brought her mother's  recipe for Caviar Pie.  Quicker than you could have sneezed, I departed the ladies and hurtled into the dining room to get some.   My love affaire with caviar is well known to long-time readers so will not dwell on it.

Her mother knew what she was doing - the mix had a perfect blend of sour (for sour cream and cream cheese), perky (the onion) and of course the salt of the lumpfish caviar.

Visions of it lingered.  Here is a recipe I found on line. Based on the ingredients, feel free to add or subtract things you don't like and I'm thinking of the red onion.  I love it; others loathe it.

CAVIAR PIE
6 hardboiled eggs, chopped and put in a pie pan.

Add 3 T mayonnaise  and 1 cup chopped red onion.  This is your base or "crust" in the pie pan that you've "greased" with mayonaise.  Mix well.

Spread 8 oz. of softened cream cheese mixed with  2/3 cup sour cream over the egg/mayo/onion crust.

Smooth the caviar over this as lavishly as a 4 oz. jar of caviar will go, give the cav a squirt or so of lemon and chill till serving with a variety of crackers.  Bon appetite!

This would make a great hors d'ouevre New Year's Eve.  If not Christmas Eve ...

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Drawing A Cartoon Using Words

We'll see how good I am at "showing" you a cartoon using nothing but words.  Okay ready?

Picture a stately building at the foot of a nice, somewhat winding road.  Arching over this road is a sign, made of wrought-iron, that reads:

The Sexual Harassment Center for Rehabilitation and Revenge, founded by #Me Too, and funded by the Office of House Employment Counsel

Two men are walking slowly up the drive.  One, in a navy suit, white shirt and Yale tie, says to the other clad in Sperry Topsiders, no socks, khaki Docker pants and a navy Ralph Lauren polo shirt -

"What are you in for?"

The other hangs his head in shame and says, "When I was five I played "Doctor" with the little girl across the street."

Friday, December 8, 2017

#FREE RUDOLPH!

As I am unfamiliar with "hash tags" ignore the one above.  The point I want to make is that there were 228,000 new jobs in the month of November, 2017, alone.  None of the applicants wanted to replace Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.  

Now Rudolph is 78 years old (!) and Santa Legree still expects him to haul the sled full of presents (to say nothing of Santa himself who clearly hasn't missed any meals) as well as drag any work-shy reindeer along behind him.

This is hardly work for a 78 year old.  Rudolph should have been allowed to retire 16 years ago!  But, no, Santa "depends" on him and Rudolph, not being any smarter than he needs to be, buys it every year.

He's led an active, athletic life, but:  it's also true that he only has to be a jock once a year.  Arguably, few of us have 364 days off.

I propose this - instead of cookies and milk (or Scotch and cashews in the more affluent households) -  that we all put up a sign instead that reads "Let Rudolph Retire!"

You may be worried that  if Santa (the red fatso) doesn't get his treats, he will be very cross with you and, in a fit of pique, could just say to himself, "No presents for these people!"

But:  Mrs. Clause put a lot of time and effort into getting you just what you wanted and she can be quite shrewish from the sheer fatigue of satisfying everyone.  She is not going to go for this At All.

Pithy comments about fat husbands who most certainly do not need additional food supplements are bound to fly until at least mid-January and because Santa is secretly afraid of her, he wouldn't dare bring back a sack of undelivered stuff.  "Nobody home" is not going to fly as an excuse at all. 

Thus, no worries; you'll get all you ordered.  But don't forget to eat/drink the treats yourself while you make a big sign that reads "FREE RUDOLPH!" (Santa doesn't know what a hash tag is either.  Just leave it off.)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

December Fires - Mother Nature and Uncle Sam

Mother Nature
Apparently wherever she is, she likes to keep her tootsies cozy thus all of the fires in Southern California.  Perhaps we could donate from now until next December chipping in for space heaters to dot around her quarters?

This had never occurred to me until I read this morning's Daily Breeze.  The Getty Museum and the Skirball Cultural Center were designed and built to withstand fires, largely because both are located on woodsy land, far from LA concrete.  Both are constructed of stone and steel panels; both have additional smarts to repel fire.  The Getty has a 1 million gallon water tank; the Skirball has drip irrigation that keeps the trees and bushes green on the mountain side of their property.

The Getty has an air filtration system to keep the priceless art work inside it free from smoke and ash.  Planning ahead - and they did.

Uncle Sam
The media and the Liberals are all aflame about President Trump's declaration that Jerusalem is to be the capitol of Israel.  Clearly the liberals have forgotten that he is not the first President to make said declaration.  William Jefferson Clinton said it first, followed in succession by George W. Bush and finally Barack Obama.   Back to the history books, people.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

"Puck, puck, puck" Said the Hen

Richie cooked last night (leftovers tomorrow night) and he made Poulet Cordon Bleu aka Blue Ribbon Chicken.  "Blue Ribbon" refers to the elegance and style of chicken this way, not that the chicken was wearing a blue ribbon.

However, there is a famous breed of chicken in France - the Bresse -  that is so fancy that it has the AOC or Appelation d'Origin Controllee just as certain (very expensive) wines are AOC meaning that production of either one is limited to a particular breeder/vintner and his/her acreage.  Upstart commoners whether chicken or grape need not apply.

Interestingly enough, the Bresse chicken, out of Eastern France, does have slate-blue legs.  Perhaps this blue ribbon stuff started with a Bresse chicken try to scratch it's neck and the blitzed farmer thought they were wearing a neck ribbon?  We'll never know.

CHICKEN CORDON BLEU (as it's usually listed on restaurant menus)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
4 teas. Dijon mustard
4 slices Swiss cheese
4 slices Black Forest ham
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken stock + 1 T butter
`1 T flour
1 cup cold milk
1 beaten egg
Panko crumbs

Oven 350 for 35-45 minutes

Butterfly each breast, season with pepper.  Top with a slice of cheese, then a slice of ham and close with toothpicks that you've soaked in water so they won't burn.

Dredge the chicken in flour, then dip it in the beaten egg and finally roll it in panko crumbs. 
Bake on a sheet of parchment on a pizza pan or cookie sheet.

SAUCE
Heat the wine in a sauce pan and reduce by half.  Add the chicken broth, and simmer, then keep warm until ready to use.

In another saucepan make the roux:  melt the butter, whisk in the flour and continue to whisk for 8 to 10 minutes (unnecessary length of time Ed.)

Then whisk in the cold milk and the warm wine sauce and whisk together until hot.  Plate the chicken and drizzle sauce over it.   Richie serves his with noodles.  I eat it with gusto.


Monday, December 4, 2017

"Being Welsh, he was a stickler for time"

The title is a quote from a long article on the 50th anniversary of the Queen Mary arriving in Long Beach as an attraction and later a hotel in Sunday's Daily Breeze.

The "he" is Captain John Treasure Jones.  I knew that the Welsh, as a group, were famous for their singing abilities and subsequently numerous singing choruses, but had never heard that punctuality was also foremost in their lives.  This required examination.  But first I had to get through the singing information.

Various theories are expounded as to why so many of them sing so well - they have a sing-song speaking accent.
Singing is given emphasis as entertainment for both the singers and the audience. 
It took a long time for them to get electricity and thus TV (my own theory.)  

Wales is known in some circles as "The Land of Song" which is a far nicer way to describe your home country than, say "The Land of The Atomic Bomb Whose Leader is Deranged Enough To Use It."

Back to punctuality.  The Arriva Trains Wales are on time - within one minute - 85.4 per cent of the time.  Were he alive today, Mussolini would be eating his heart out with jealousy.  "He makes the trains run on time" was the only semi-nice thing ever said about him.

As an extra = the Scots are the friendliest; the Welsh the shyest' and Londoners the coldest.   Make up something about the Irish on your own.  I rather fancy, "Ireland - where your living room is the pub down the road."

I think the Scots are the friendliest because if you are a man wearing a skirt, the odds are good that another man is going to take umbrage and a lot of women are going to want a peek.  You need to be nice to deflect unwanted attention.

I think Londoners are unfriendly because they have to be wary of people carrying funny-looking back packs "Is that a coil of wire there, over by the zipper?" "Why's he carrying a pressure cooker on the Tube?"  In their case, suspicion and distance are good ideas.  We understand. I wouldn't be friendly either.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Somewhat Unclear On The Concept...

An ad seen on weaselzippers.com this morning:  "If you own a computer, you must try this game!"

I was reading the ad on a computer!

Philadelphia councilwoman Cindy Bass wants to pass an ordinance banning store owners from protecting their businesses with bullet proof glass and to remove any that they may have up. 

She stated that her constituents "shouldn't have to suffer the indignity of shopping through bulletproof glass."   Apparently she doesn't understand that bulletproof glass is a two-way street - her constituents are protected by it from gun-happy, deranged clerks in said stores.

A potential dozen:  Yer Mamma's so old that in her school, they didn't have books; they had stone tablets.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Tempus Fugit...

Few things could remind us of our advancing ages than this morning's news that Keith Thibidoux is 67 today.

And you quirk a brow and go "?"

Keith Thibodeaux who starred as Little Ricky in "I Love Lucy" celebrates his birthday.   His 67th.  A child actor to begin with, he joined the show when he was five years old.  Big Ricky re-named him "Keith Richards" saying that "Thibodeaux" was too hard to pronounce.

All of the others in the show have died.  Keith is literally the last man standing.  When he was 21, he received $8,000 which was the last payment of the trust set up for his wages as a child.  Reports say that he spent half of it on a sports car (let us all bow our heads and acknowledge that the days when you could get a sports car for $4,000 are far behind us.)  The rest he blew on amps for the band and whatever the hell else he felt like, including drugs.

In any event, he married a ballet dancer/teacher named Kathy in 1976 and they had a daughter they named Tara who also teaches ballet.  She married Bryce Drew, who played basketball for the Chicago Bulls and the Houston Rockets.

Apparently Little Ricky is not yet a grandfather, but doesn't matter.  The initial shock has arrived.  Little Ricky is 67 today.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Part of What Is Wrong with Politics

Among the recently accused of sexual misbehavior is one John Conyers, Dem., representing the Great State of Michigan in the House of Representatives.

Representative Conyers is 88 years old and has been in the House for 50 years.  Simple math (and it better be simple for me) says that had he retired as most of us do at age 67 or 62, he would not have overserved himself at the Congressional table for either 26 or 21 years.  

At a salary of $174,000 per annum, Rep. Conyers has made (notice I don't say "earned") a cumulative salary of $8.7 million dollars. 

He is by no means alone in the contest for "Longevity Beyond Ridiculous in the Senate or House."  He's just the most recent to dance across the stage, grinning at the spotlight. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Of Candy Canes and Caries

Caries:  dentist's reference to cavities.  First time I was reluctantly ensconced in a dentist's chair and he said that, I was perplexed.  Cheerfully, he explained it, as he reached for the largest chisel on his tray of medieval torture instruments.

Raise your hand if an adult ever chided you by saying, "All that candy is just going to rot your teeth!"  I thought so.  Well, for once an old wives tale (no single women were ever consulted?) is true, sort of.  Sugar, in and of itself, does not rot teeth.  Teeth get rotted (?) by the interaction of sugar with bacteria already in your mouth.

Sugar + bacteria = acid and that's what eats away the enamel which is said to be the toughest surface in the human body.   But how tough is enamel  if there's an acid that will harm it, but the acid won't kill you by just being there?  Put it this way, I have my doubts about the toughness of enamel.

Further, this enamel-gorging acid lasts 20 to 30 minutes in your mouth.  It was said that bolting down a sugary soda rather than sipping on it all day is better for your teeth, if not the waistline.

So:  sugar does rot teeth.  Better to crunch to smithereens any candy and wash it down quickly with soda.  For those who like to savor their food rather than gobble it down like pigs in the barnyard, this is disquieting news.  I am one of you and you have my sympathy.

But:  when we were children of six or seven, our so-called baby teeth were falling out of our mouths like gentle rains on a meadow and we didn't care a bit!  Because we were all potential entrepreneurs and a lost tooth meant cash under the pillow.  (rub hands together and leer.)

And we Americans are not alone.  All over the world little kids are getting rewards for lost teeth!  We are not innovators!  How disappointing ...  however, let us brush embarrassed tears aside and see who shares our greed.

Native Americans have a twist.  The tooth is buried on the eastern side of a sage bush which is a symbol of childhood.  No mention of the kid getting anything but presumably a plat map to show where his sage bush is located.

In Turkey, parents who want their child to grow up and be an academic bury the tooth somewhere on the local university grounds.

Brazil and Greece toss the tooth up on the roof.  Egyptians tissue-wrap it before tossing.  The Japanese have made tooth disposal more complicated by throwing a top tooth on the roof to encourage the new one to come in and the bottom tooth is buried to form strong roots for the new tooth.

Swedish kids put the tooth in a glass of water at night and next morning there are coins in the water and the tooth is gone!  Midas would have been envious.  Turning a baby tooth into gold.  No child under 6 years old would have been safe in his village.

A dubious honor in Latin American countries and France is the belief that a rat comes and takes the tooth away.  El Raton (Hispanic) and Le Rat (French) are believed to have extraordinarily strong teeth and the parents want their child's new teeth to be just as strong.  To be real carie-fighters!


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Watch It, Royals

I pride myself on being a fair person no matter what some (many)  might feel about me.  Much like a rattlesnake, I make noise before I strike.  Fair warning that some major shit is about to come down by either one of us.

Even so, my famed calm demeanor holds a boiling cauldron ready for use and I am about to have to dump it on the British Royals.  I have been patient for some 37 years but even my legendary patience is being tried. 

Naturally you want to know, "What in hell is she carrying on about now?"  I will tell you.

November, 1948 - birth of my younger (and only) sister and Prince Charles.  Naturally our family thought that, of course, they were fated to be together.  Hah!  Charles slithered away and married Ditsy Diana.  And then the traitor finalized his relationship with Camilla.  But, what ho?  My sister wisely married another and they had three kids - two boys and a girl.  Take that, Diana.

But Diana had given birth to William in 1982 and Harry in 1984.  My niece Leslie was born in 1981.  Yes, she would be a year or three years older, a mere bagatelle in today's world. 

And then perfidious William did a runner with Kate.  Now Henry has announced not only his engagement to a California-born woman, but announced the date - sometime in May. 

I have one last hope before it all starts to go south, or "pear-shaped" as the Brits say.  My nephew just married and if they have children, at least one of them could be matched up with Prince George or Princess Charlotte, spawn of William and Kate.  And reportedly, there are two more on their way as Kate is expected to deliver twins in April, 2018.  We can still win this war.  I would hate to have to beat the shit out of the Queen.  At 90-something, she is far too frail for a fight.  Especially with me.


Monday, November 27, 2017

"Dessert? It's $90 a Bite"

New York, more specifically Manhattan, seems to be the leader in show-offy expensive dishes for the Discriminating (or just filthy rich) Diner. 

Well and good; no complaints here, far from it.  Blow your $50s and $100s out of your limo window and crank up the volume, rich dude.  What's for dinner tonight?  $2,500 hamburger, check.  Done.  Ditto the Kobe hand-rubbed by nubile virgins steak ... check. Done. 

But oh no-ers!  Nothing good left?  What about dessert?  Don't remember doing a fancy dessert ...  Driver!  Stop!  (sound of squealing brakes) right there (manicured index finger points out of the lowered window) - "Rafele's restaurant.  Didn't I read somewhere that he has a $5,000 cheesecake?" 

Limo driver opens passenger door, chef Raffaele Ronea throws open the restaurant door, grinning wolfishly.  "Good evening, sir - right this way ..." and seats Rich Dude, tentatively offers a menu, but Rich Dude demurs - "No thanks, had a Mickey D earlier, but I would like to try your $5,000? (cocks an inquisitive eyebrow) cheesecake?  You can get five grand for a cheese cake?  In Greenwich Village?  This I gotta see - bring it on!". 

"With pleasure, kind sir," grovels Raffaele, and turning snarls at a waiter, "Bring the good cheesecake, you fool!  Didn't you hear the man?  He wants a slice" - turns to Rich Dude - "you didn't want the whole thing, did you?"

"I'll start with a slice, see if it's any good - what's in it anyhow?  Gold bars?" (laughs at own joke.) "That's what? $450 a slice so ... $90 a bite."

"Oh, no - no gold bars, sir!   Just gold flakes decoratively plated to add to your visual pleasure.  The taste alone will make your taste buds ask where have you been all of this time - this is heaven, sir." 

(Skeptically) "And what is heaven made of?"

The chef looks around furtively, bends down toward the table and says, "First the crust - it is crushed biscotti covered in finely-chopped hazelnuts with a pouring of melted chocolate over that.  Set aside.

Now for the pie - I use a fromaggio cheese from water buffalo in Italy.  The buffalo are very happy; they live good lives and you can taste that in their cheese.  Now, beat in three shots of a 200 year old cognac - $300 per shot - add vanilla from Madagascar, and now, mince and add an Alba white truffle from Italy to the cheese mixture.  These truffles are $4,000 a pound but we don't need a pound.  People think I am crazy - I think I'm crazy - to put truffles in a cheesecake, but ahh..." voice trails off, left hand is wafted in bliss (or semblance thereof)

Rich Dude puts a bite on his fork, lifts it. sniffs it and puts the fork in his mouth.  He roils the bite around in his mouth and smiles - "Yes, give me a doggy box for the rest.  I like this.  I like it very much." 

Gratified, Chef Raeffaele scampers kitchen-ward to do this himself, meanwhile calculating a 20 per cent tip on a $5,000 tab. "Ah, P.T. Barnum, you were so right ..."


  

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Christmas Shopping

Give the gift of laughter --

Available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com Pages, Manhattan Beach
Book $12.00  Kindl  $1.99

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Our Plumber Is In Ireland

He called this morning - from Ireland! - to say that he will text his designated hitter to call and come and fix the blocked drain.  He said it was very cold in Ireland, in case you were wondering.  Had I answered the phone, I could have told him that Ireland is consistently 40 degrees except for a week in August when it soars up to 60.

What kind of a world do we live in when your plumber can phone you from Ireland???   I am old and I am shaking my head. 

1990

Richie's continued excavations turned up my 1990 Calendar.   Highlights ...

April - we embarked on a 7-day Mexican Riviera cruise to celebrate my 50th birthday.  I was disappointed to have missed out on the escargot soup, but cheered by a one-on-one interview with the chef.  He gave me an autographed cook book of dishes served on the Carnival something-or-other.  To this day, I have never made any of them.

May - four days in New Orleans, no reason given.  We would go back as we loved being there.  It was our Favorite North American City and in years to come, we made probably 10 or 12 visits.  Until Katrina.  Put Paid to NO. 

June - Began working as a waitress at the Mermaid, Hermosa Beach.  Thurs. the 21st - tips $17, bus $5, salary $25.50; grand total $37.50

August - my mother-in-law died and when I asked my boss for time off to fly to Long Island for the funeral,  he said, "Take all the time you want - you're fired."  So endeth my career as a waitress.  (In 1990 we weren't called "servers" yet.)

I smiled as I read the entries spelling out dinner with this person or that or various couples.  Road trips to Las Vegas, Barstow, Pomona - still working as  racing freelance photojournalist.    I remembered those people well and it was pleasant to think about them and Olden Times. 

If one of your old calendars turns up, take a moment, sit down and leaf through it.  Few things can give you a better idea of where you were and what you were doing.  I recommend it!

It has been a long time since we went to New Orleans though ... hmmm...

Friday, November 24, 2017

And So the Traditions Begin Once Again ...

Among the time-honored festivities we find:

The Gala of the Gut wherein we are encouraged to eat a special meal and then brag about how much we ate.  As part of the celebration, the males of the household watch football on TV and the females wash the dishes.  A holiday for some is not necessarily a holiday for all ...

The Friday Fights and Free For Alls - when merchants encourage greed by discounting many of the items in their emporiums to encourage people to leave their cozy homes in favor of camping out city-style on the sidewalks and parking lots of said markets to be first when management opens the store doors.  So far this 2017, a 19 year old male was shot in Columbia, Missouri, and is at the moment "spending" in an ICU.  An entire mall in Alabama had to be closed due to the rioting wanna-be customers. 

We are not safe in our own homes from offerings of deeply discounted items on line.  So far this morning RiteAid and The Irish Store specifically have let it be known that they crave my patronage. 

And yet there is hope.  At 11 a.m. today Father Joe of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church will be blessing the trees at the Kiwanis Christmas Tree Lot, Pacific Coast Highway and Pier Avenue.  The blessing is said to be a tool to remind us of Jesus existence and (presumed) goodness.   I doubt that there will be any riots nor fights over the perfect tree.

A much more genteel event.  Viva  Tradition!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

GOBBLE GOBBLE GOBBLE - SAVE ME!



                 HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

May politics never come up at your table
                 Nor old family feuds

If you're lucky enough to have friends around the table, here's the annual toast at our house:
"We can't choose our families, but we can sure as hell choose our friends!  Here's to'em!"



Don't give the dog or the cat a chicken bone - they splinter and the vet is closed today.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Of Mashers, Hat Pins and Turkeys

Given the backwash of bad behavior on the part of men today - and 30, 40 years ago - it would behoove us to take a look at Olden Days.  Especially as a man's basic character, personality whatever don't change.  or so 'tis said.  Long gone are the courtiers of yore who wooed with poems written for their beloved as well as flowers, and valuable gifts.    Oops - valuable gifts do still exist.  "Oh, baby - I'ma in love - what color Beemer you want - tell Daddy!"

Be that as it may be.  In 1903 American women were wearing enormous hats - many of them were themed - several birds in an elaborate nest perched on and in the woman's hair were popular.  Great swaths of tulle were wound around a basic bonnet frame and from extant pictures, this head gear looked like the pictures of A-bomb testing on a slightly smaller scale.

To hold these weighty and not dainty at all confections on their heads, women employed a tool called "a hatpin."  These instruments were often a foot long and always had a very sharp point (to force the way through the tulle) and a dull end for the fingers pushing it into the hat/hair.  

Mashers and lechers (virtually interchangeable) were in for a rude awakening and the birth of what they themselves called the "Hatpin Peril."    In Scranton, PA, a 19 year old girl gave her boy friend a "playful" stab which fatally pierced his heart where upon he upped and died. 

Hatpins weren't used just against men.  Wives would tackle mistresses and the duel would commence out in the street to the amusement of all of the neighbors. 

By 1909 Hatpin Peril had spread internationally and the mayors of Hamburg and Paris were considering banning hatpins. 

But, as the '20s approached, women began getting their long-enough-to-sit-on hair bobbed with the advent of the flapper.  Out went the hatpin; in came the flapper slap.

Interestingly enough, you can still buy hatpins today.  Hello, Google?  But sadly what no longer seems to exist today are women tough enough to pack a hatpin and use it.

A Stroke of Genius - or Not?
Over the years, our usual Thanksgiving dinner guests have waned in numbers.  Moving for the job took three adults; even worse two died and others had never come to us because they already had somewhere  else (and doubtless better) to go.  This year's head count is one with maybe two more.

I don't like baking a turkey in the first place for that awful sweetish, nasty smell after about a half an hour in the oven.  Further, I had to go through a couple of years of Richie whining, "I want a real turkey!"  This means wings and legs.  He has been overly influenced by turkey ads.  I counter that no one we have ever invited likes dark meat.  "I don't care - I want a real turkey!"  You can imagine the amusing conversations here re "real" turkey vs. breast only.

Another reason is that we always have leftover turkey.  I have spent time with paper, pencil and calculator trying to calibrate number of guests with size of turkey to be purchased.  I always have gotten it wrong and poor old turkey lingers in the refrigerator in its little aluminum dress forever.  Or at least until one of us bites the bullet (but no part of the dead turkey) and tosses it. 

This year I got smart.  I strutted up to the deli counter and bought a pound and a half of Boars Head Oven Gold turkey sliced into half-inch thick slabs.  My turkey is boneless and skinless and you can eat every bite of it!  It was $35, but zero waste.  I think that's worth it.  I will gently baste it in chicken broth to heat it and put it in descending slices prettily on the platter and drizzle gravy down the middle just for garnish.    And do dance steps as I bring the rest of dinner to the table.  NO TURKEY WAS BAKED IN THIS HOUSE. 

And I didn't have to use my hatpin on Richie to convince him we don't have to have a "real" turkey.  Win win.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

I Was (Not) Sexually Harrassed in the Supermarket!

And this is what didn't happen.  I was the only Next! customer in the deli line.  I was trying to eyeball the various kinds of sliced turkey needed to accomplish my great idea (more of which anon) when a trio of Manhattan Beach Fireman joined the line behind me. 

Of course, the instant I deciphered the uniforms (everyday blue - turnouts would have made me function nanoseconds faster) I gestured for them to go ahead of me. 

"No, no," said the one on the left, patting my shoulder, "you go ahead."
"Really," and I gestured again; he patted again.  So I said, "Well, if you're sure ..." a third pat and a reassuring nod so I turned back to attempted turkey perusal (not helped by the fat lady and her cart parked directly in front of the display) and they resumed their joshing among themselves. 

It wasn't until we were back in the car, speeding away with our spoils that it dawned on me that were I a 22 year old bimbo two things might have happened - the pat would have had an entirely different meaning and the bimbo would have either hollered "Masher!" and stabbed him with a hatpin always at the ready or flung herself into his manly, blue-clad arms, begging, "Take me, take me!"  Which would have certainly alarmed everyone in the store.

However:  reality is:  the fireman/paramedic went into "Paramedic Comfort" as swiftly and as easily and as unthinkingly as we would a tuck into a hot dinner.  After all, the lady in front of them was definitely an old lady (77) and probably using the cart as a walker (not as much as six months ago;) and any traces of beauty she may have had (age 4 to around 5 1/2) were definitely behind her.  As was a substantial derriere.    

But I thought to myself as Richie stopped for a light, "Back in the day, baby ...I could have lit your fire ..." and grinned evilly just to myself.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Taxpayers Rejoice! Manson Is Dead

Charles Manson has died, age 83, "of natural causes."  I'd like to know what they were specifically so that they could be given to the rest of the lifers on Death Row. 

Some statistics to explain my desire to empty our prisons - via the needle.

2011 - California spent $9.6 billion (billion) on our prison system.  This figure includes guard and prison personnel and worked out to $71,000 per year per prisoner. 

In contrast, the State spent $6.7 billion on "higher education."  Whose higher ed wasn't specified in the statistics I consulted.  This equals $8,667 per year per student.

Manson went to the Grey Bar Hotel aged 35 and remained there for 48 years at an estimated cost of $50,000 per year for a grand total of $3,408,000 spent on Manson.  As he was kept in solitary for most if not all of those years, the State saved $21,000 per year.  Whee!

Apparently he didn't want a sex reassignment surgery - another savings because the great State of California would have paid for that, too. 

We the taxpayers are getting stiffed every year when a simple rope or sufficient voltage to blow the prisoners underwear off or the gentle prick of a needle would save US money.  Time to reconsider sending nothing but bleeding heart liberals to the House.  After all, we vote - prisoners can't. 

Although I did hear disquieting rumors that legislation is being prepared to let "convicted felons" vote in future.  Pyschos and murderers, eat your hearts out.  And maybe die from that.  Fingers crossed. 


Sunday, November 19, 2017

Amusements

Ignoring any religious instructions about Sunday being a day of rest because You Know Who did, the day has always been one of my favorites.  After a five day workweek, Saturday was then devoted to errands but Sunday it had all been done and it was a day to somewhat spoil yourself.  I can get behind being spoiled.  Who can't?

Some fun amusements for me that you might enjoy and BTW, you can sneak them into the regular work week if you've got a fast screensaver on tap.

JIGZONE.COM  Jigsaw puzzles with a great deal of variety.  The easiest are the 6 piece classic and progress up to a grand finale of 247 pieces.  BFD, you mutter.  Here are the various shapes - classic, zigzag, birds, wavy, round, tetris, Euros (my favorite) US state shapes.  There are all kinds of what you puzzle, too.  Animals - cats, dogs, birds, fish, various.  Landscapes - cities, country inns, Caribbean beach shacks, farm fields and a great deal more.  Close ups of items such as a tape measure; fine art with Michelangelo's fingers touching painting...

VIDEO POKER  Wish you could go to Las Vegas but don't have the time or the throwaway bucks?  freeslots.com/poker.htm  is just what it says - free and video poker.  Get your gambling fix and never risk a penny.  The game starts you off with $500 in play money.   I won't say anything about my work habits (or lack of) but I've worked that up to $1,546.  Which speaks for itself.

My only caveat would be don't play excessively or you risk a case of carpal tunnel syndrome.

SOMETHING NEW for Alzheimer, senility or dementia victims.  So far it's only available in select test senior nursing homes.  (Silverado, Prospect, Redondo Beach has one.)  Created and put out by an outfit called Mynd VR it is a set of virtual reality scenes for the deranged (and I'm getting closer every day.) 

The patient wears a lightweight set of earphones with boxy glasses over the eyes.  The scenes can be chosen by either the patient or the nurse and allow the patient to - go mountain skiing or deep sea diving or race car driving or ...

Post-use tests have shown that in many cases, a "treatment" with the Mynd VR is beneficial to the patient and can elicit conversation about the experience and happiness at having had it in people who had been largely silent previously. 

There are no claims whatsoever that the device can reverse the problems in the brain.  It is meant solely as a device to make patients have a little fun and to do again what is forever lost to them. 

And they have access to it every day, not just Sundays!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

1% 2%

The 1% is a common reference to multi-billionaires who presumably got an education and then shifted their arses out of bed every morning thinking, "What can I do to make a buck today?" and went out and did so.

The 2% is altogether different and it applies to two groups of people and has nothing to do with wealth acquired or inherited. 

"Mensa" a rather exclusive international group is by and for the 2% of us who have genius IQs. 
"Densa" is for the 2% who, to put it gently, don't have genius IQs. (aside) "How're we doin'?"

Originally, according to Wikipedia.com, the "Densa group" was a jokey article in the Mensa periodical "Boston & Outskirts Mensa Bulletin (BOMB)."  The treatise about Densas was printed in 1974.

Recently (day before yesterday) mention of Densa was made in the Readers' Digest and urged readers to Google "Densa" and take their IQ test to see where we rank.  Highs and lows ranged from "Smart enough" to "an IQ lower than a loaf of bead." 

The questions are sneaky.  So as not to be a spoiler, here is only one example.

"Is there a 4th of July in England?"  Ans.  Yes, of course!  There's a July 5th, 6th, etc. too. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hot News!

We went to Las Brisas our favorite Mexican restaurant for the past 32 years for dinner last night.  It should be noted that the menu offered last night was exactly the same as the one 32 years ago, only the prices have gone up and only slightly at that.  Las Brisas, much like MacDonald's, is dependable. Variety comes in the nightly specials.

But what ho?  Along with the dark red reasonably hot and the milder salsa came a new one in a little pot just like the others, but the contents were a vivid, bright green!

We tried it and liked it after the initial sneaky punch to the tastebuds.  Afterburner comes to mind.  I asked our waiter about it - jalapenos and cilantro?  "No," he replied, "Serrano and cilantro (pauses to think) and onion."

If I were going to make it I would go one-third each serrano, cilantro and white onion.  Use a mini-Cuisenaire or blender - something that will reduce each ingredient into paste form.    

In the turmoil that was this office what should turn up but the flyer from Ted's Place which serves the best corned beef hash I have ever eaten.  Crisp on the outside - much like properly-done hash browns - served with three eggs, any style, hash browns or home fries, toast and jelly.   Brace yourself:  $5.99

As we have nothing planned for Friday, and can spend the rest of the day in a food coma, I have a feeling that we will be going out for breakfast...and I know exactly where we'll be going.
Ted's Place, 23401 Normandie Avenue, Harbor City, CA 90710 
Normandie between PCH and Sepulveda. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

I Wanna Be a Congressman

These facts aren't bruited about nearly enough:
Congressmen (shut up, PCs) have a yearly salary of $174,000.

Congress is in session only 126 scheduled days leaving these poor, pampered darlings 239 days off to amuse themselves. That works out to $1,380.90 per day for going to work.

Meanwhile we newsreaders have just learned that the US Treasury during the last 10 to 15 years has paid out $15 million in settlement of sexual harassment charges against Congressmen. 

Pause for a moment to reflect on this. 

I would add that no wonder so many of them are happy handed - if charged by some toothsome little girl, no worries, man!  Government will pay!  And enterprising bimbos - up the payout!  What the hell - it's not like payment is going to come from the offenders pocket!  Mercy no! 

But maybe the Pentagon's offer to soldiers - a free sex change surgery - is better in some circles.

It's a real competition for "government" funding to see who can make the most - and not for us taxpayers either.

And by the way, if all of these charged males (and the odd female - literally) are apparently doing nothing with their days other than chasing and catching women, who's making the movies, putting on the plays, funding the documentaries - oh, and voting legislature? 

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Very, Very Long Apprenticeship

Happy 69th Birthday, Prince Charles.  Congratulations on graciously waiting for 48 years for your turn on the throne.  It is God's blessing that your mother, at 91, has been sitting on it for 70 years despite what you may privately consider rather a looong service to her subjects.

During her inauguration, she vowed, "I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service."

Dude, she wasn't kidding! 

Still and all, waiting (or lying in wait as the case may or may not be) has not been that arduous, despite your whinging from time to time.   About how as a lad, you were cruelly shipped off to school as a boarder at the tender age of 8; the rigors of military service (Army and Navy) with free flying lessons on a variety of aircraft; by the way - you could have gotten a job as a pilot until you were forcibly retired from it. 

Presumably you have enjoyed the free travel - Mum has her own fleet of aircraft - no, no - don't touch - private rail cars and once upon a time a yacht, the "Brittania."  It should be noted here that Queen E has lasted longer than the ship. 

You presumably have never gotten tired of the wallpaper as the Queen, husband and children have always had a seasonal schedule that takes them from palace to castle and back again.  Christmas and New Years at Sandringham; from February to Easter at Buckingham Palace, London, with weekends at Windsor Castle.  July and August in London and then Balmoral and the late "Brittania" until October. 

Forgot something in all of this moving around - rather one of the help forgot to pack something - no worries.  A plane was once sent to pick up Charles teddy bear, carelessly left behind.  He was in his 30s. 

His valet puts the toothpaste on his toothbrush (silver with the three plumes design) every morning and night.  It could be argued that with this kind of attention to his every whim, becoming King might just be more of the same.  You have been waiting for 48 years - plenty of time to figure out how you will rule -- and changes you will make although putting the toothpaste on the brush seems unlikely after all this time.  At least Camilla has replaced the teddy bear.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Homeless? You Need a Smart Phone!

Richie, good citizen that he is, hied himself over to the 9 a.m. Saturday meeting with our District Councilman.  He again presented The Useless Fire Hydrant and again received the usual assurances.
That's his project, not mine. 

But I was interested (however briefly) in the hand-outs he brought back.  An RBPD off-duty (one hopes) cop gave a lecture on  home security systems and touted as particularly effective, a firm called Ring which offers a selection of video cameras and floodlights.  (Redondo residents get $25 off the ticket price. Contact Ben at 310-601-8469 Ext. 42)  

You will probably not be surprised to learn that you can check who is at the front door by using an app on your smart phone!  Wow, huh?  The officer told the group of seeing the tape from an attempted break-in and the burglars were waving at the camera!  Such audacity! 

I saw several situations where I think a steel security door is a better bet - the Ring devices are either battery or hard-wired.  Earthquake and you can't charge the battery and you don't have electricity to power it.  And looting is widespread due to the earthquake. 

I can't see too much point in have two-way talk ability - you only need the microphone inside the house and, frankly, yelling "F--k off!" out of a window to a wanna-be intruder would be just as effective as far as having any positive reaction - like the burglar apologetically slinking off of your property.  

But one of the best reasons is to have a steel security door is that during the summer, lock it, leave the wood door wide open and enjoy the nighttime breezes.  Try that with a security camera, eh?

Another piece of literature (using the word loosely) was a shiny bigger than life postcard directing the homeless to call the PATH hotline or e-mail them at southbay@epath.org.  PATH cheerily asks "Living on the street?  Our Outreach team is here to help connect you with services." 

The few local homeless I've seen needed a roll of toilet paper and a bar of soap a lot more. 

Why, of course, homeless people who have been absent minded with their meds; they ALL carry smart phones!  They can just tap out an e-mail quick as a wink!  However these PATH peoples' hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.  Weekends you're on your own. 

Additionally, he was given a list of various help agencies available to us all, not just the address- challenged.  This struck me though as a little ... sinister.  After the phone numbers for substance and alcohol abuse, local hospitals, etc. down toward the bottom of a rather extensive list are the numbers for Greyhound Bus and  Union Station.  Talk about a hint about as subtle as a sledge hammer ... maybe PATH could give you a couple of sandwiches and a bottle of water and directions to either?

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Help for the Hapless

The gutters all across America are filled and overflowing and not with rain.  Story after story peeks out of the morass that is "Hollywood" and, of course, politics.  Where would we be for entertainment if both were shut down?  (pause for a quiet "Farewell, Kevin Spacy, Louis CK, the Moore guy running for office.") 

Even every-day males without any connections to show business or politics are now unsure of themselves when addressing women.  At Thurs. Writers two of the guys were discussing this matter with real fear in their voices.  They more or less agreed with some enthusiasm that the best policy is to say nothing to any woman who is not your wife.  Smile and nod at the comely supermarket clerk (if you can find any) and keep your hands above her counter at all costs. 

I thought then as I do now that that was sad.  So - never content to sit back on my hands when I could be fomenting revolt, revenge and apocalyptic punishments for the Happy Handed, it occurred to me that if these sex-mad bozos had a good enough (note: enough) pick-up line they could offer the woman a little more choice in the matter and everyone could be happy.   Except, of course, the lawyers handling sexual malfeasance suits, but lawyers are only happy after a kill so let's not worry about them.  At the moment, the US population of NON-lawyers is still ahead. 

Where was I?  Ah, yes, pick-up lines.  Our good friends at jokes4us.com had some suggestions which, in the emergence of this sad situation, are time to liberate a select few of them from a quiet life on a Website.  Let us tarry no longer -

You're more beautiful than  100 pink flamingoes on a golf course.  (Mouton, take note)

Do you believe in love at first sight, or do you want me to walk by again?

Do you have a pencil?  I want to erase your past and write our future.

Roses are red; bananas are yellow - would you like to go out with a nice little fellow?

You look much prettier in real life than you do through my telescope, neighbor!

Just say yes now and I won't have to spike your drink.

Stand back - I'm a doctor!  Get an ambulance and I'll loosen her clothing ("Raffish" take note)

Playing "Doctor" is for kids - let's play ob/gyn! ("Raffish")

I just got out of Alcatraz - can I steal you a drink?  Mercedes? 

Can I domesticate you?

And for all of the Hollywood producers and actors, all of the fat, ugly politicians, this one's for you, dudes - I may not be the best looking here, but I'm the only one talking to you.

Friday, November 10, 2017

"A Telephone That Rings, But Who's To Answer..."



After the Las Vegas carnage, last responders remarked on the number of abandoned cell phones, eerily ringing away as loved ones tried to contact someone dear to them.   There is so much sadness in just that one thought ... a phone that rings, but who's to answer.

The line comes from the song "These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You)"


Thursday, November 9, 2017

Filing To Do

Which I am.  The office is getting a new piece of furniture - some would call it a "wardrobe", others an "armoire."  Whatever you call it, the office needs to make room for it.  I hate to file and never was it more evident than when I have to do it.  Am finding stuff I wrote back in 1983!  The rejection letters?  Apparently I was saving them to wallpaper a bathroom.  And I could except the paper is all crumbly and couldn't take the paste - it would dissolve. 

Never mind all of that - clearly one reaps what one has sown - or never filed. 

NATIONAL SANDWICH DAY
It was last week, I think.  It didn't register with me because I eat a sandwich for lunch nearly every day (chipotle chicken with a strip of pre-cooked bacon on white with mayo.)  Thus familiarity with our friend the sandwich rendered me insensate to the importance (if any) of the day.  

First of all Dagwood Bumstead's creator Chic Young did not invent the sandwich for Dagwood Bumstead.  Or anyone else.

Who did was a dude called the Earl of Sandwich.  I was going to write a nice little History of the Earl of Sandwich, but my source, Wikipedia.com, apparently felt moved to print the entire genealogic line!  There were Earls of Sandwich falling out of the trees!  'Way to lazy to put up with that, so just know that An Earl of Sandwich made the first one.  Or rather, given the Earl thing, he directed one of the cooks to make it to his directions. 

CHEAP TATTOOS - BUT YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR
And permanency is not one of the things you get.  Tattoo Socks (more aptly named "Tattoo Pantyhose")  are sold on something called Etsy.com.

They are pantyhose with an imprinted design running up the leg to thigh land.   There are a variety of images from which to choose - a trellis with roses, various flowers, spider webs, etc.  They are $29 a pair which is considerably more expensive that, say, a pair of L'eggs.

In fact, buy a pair of L'eggs, spread them out and, using magic markers, draw your own design.  That way if you get a run in them, so what?  They didn't cost $29! 

And - capper - you didn't have the expense, pain or time spent on a genuine inked tattoo.  With do-it-yourself, you can change your look as often as - well,  you change your socks!   

NOVELTY SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS

Some degenerate created spaghetti inside the meatball.  Here is how it goes according to the how-to photos:  Make the raw meatballs in your own inimitable style.  Take the meat and pat it into a bowl, making a meat shell.  Put cooked sauced spaghetti into the raw shell.  Make a flat "lid" of the raw hamburger, and invert the whole mess on a baking sheet.  Bake at - what?  400? until the meat is cooked and serve.  The squeals of delight (or horror, take your pick) when this baby is put on the table and the first cut made will be a certainty. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

In An Effort To Promote Racial Congeniality ...

Yesterday I was reminded of the old "Playing the Dozens" contests among blacks and wondered if whites played a version of The Dozens.  I didn't think so - it is such a well-established black thing that I figured if any white tried it, they would be loudly and forcefully accused of racial diversity theft. 

I was to be happily surprised.  (jokes4us.com) Apparently whites do it, too, although I have never personally been around when one did.  My loss.  But in all truthfulness, blacks have much funnier lines.  Herewith a sample of both:  you be the judge -

You Mamma So Black -
I shot her and the bullets came back with little flashlights saying, "We can't find the bitch!" (That's imaginative!)

She could show up naked to a funeral.  A reference to wearing black to funerals.

She had to get white chalk tattoos...

When God made her, He said, "Damn! I burnt me one."

You Mamma So White -
She make vanilla ice cream say, "Daayum!"

During winter she's invisible.

She so old and racist that she keeps asking you to track down her runaway slaves.

She thought Malcom X was a porno.

I don't think any one would play the dozens if they knew this historical fact:  playing the dozens goes back to those sweet old days of slavery when blacks on the auction block would get into it with one another which their owners considered property crime and punished the offenders accordingly.  Playing the Dozens came about as a substitute for physical combat and to win, the contestant had to be the wittiest and the most outrageous.  As the game went on, contestants were forced to drop out. 

As a side bar, the old slaves, well past their prime, were sold by the dozen.

But:  if we all could stay farther than Mamma's arm length, we could have a good time.  It just requires an indifference to skin color. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Getting Squirrely

A friend told me to check out the bushiness of the squirrel's tails in Veterans Park, Redondo Beach.  A fat, bushy squirrel tail indicates a harsh winter.  I looked it up in the Farmers' Almanac (almanac.com) and found they say the same thing.  Bumping up the class factor, the Almanac also printed a little poem which goes like this:

Squirrels gathering nuts in a flurry
Will cause snow to gather in a hurry. 

Isn't that precious?

Thurs. Writers (the august South Bay Writers Workshop) meets in a room with great views of the park on the left and a large patio on the right where the squirrels chase each other presumably in play or else it's breeding season for a long time in Redondo Beach.  Be that as it may.

We visited Galena on our recent trip and it's very much six or eight blocks of tourists "window licking" (a French expression for our "window shopping.") and among the many, many shops we came to Wild Birds Unlimited which had books for sale and always having been intrigued by squirrels, I bought "Enjoying Squirrels More (or Less) which explored such lively topics as "Profiles in Furage" but it seemed to me that the book was more interested in Ways To Prevent Squirrels From Eating All of the Bird Seed.  Bit of a bias there ... birds good/squirrels bad. 

What I gleaned:  squirrels date back to 54 and 37 million years ago.  (How anyone could check this beats me, but no scientist I)

Antarctica and Australia are the ONLY two continents that don't have to worry about their bird feeders.  There are no squirrels (but persistent and unsettling rumors report that small boats have been seen approaching their land masses.) 

Dissecting the Squirrel: 

Self-preservation - large oval eyes are located on the sides of the head for spotting predators.  Rounded ears make it easier to hear predators such as cats.  They have powerful back legs which enable them to jump around and climb in tall trees.  Their leathery foot pads and nasty claws are said by the experts to make for a softer landing and if they don't have to stop and do first aid on a paw, they can beat feet much faster.

Their sense of smell is acute and combined with the claws on paws, enable them to locate, dig up and re-store nuts. 

One of their biggest assets, the author states, are their tails which act as balance assistance and or cushioning a fall (probably young squirrels.)  In cold weather, the tail serves as a blanket as they huddle in their nests.  I've never seen this, but it's claimed that the tip of the tail, when hoisted up over their head serves as an umbrella. 

The tail also reflects agitation - an enemy approaching - swish!  Swish!   

Having read the informative chapters in the book ($3.99) I feel even more friendly to the local squirrels.  Except for one.  We have an avocado tree that is so tall it brushes up against the office window.  The squirrel likes to tease Fred the cat by facing off with him - squirrel in tree; Fred in window making this peculiar ... gobbling ... noise.  This is all okay with me, neither one can get to the other so enjoying the show is refreshing. 

But this kind of puts me on the side of the "GET OUTTA THE BIRD FEEDER!" and it's this.  That freakin' squirrel takes one bite - or a brief gnaw - which kills the avocado for human consumption. 

Punxatony Phil is looking better every day of avocado season.

 

Monday, November 6, 2017

Need To Know ... and Not

I came across useful information yesterday from reading my friend Lynne Braden's blog (winnieviews.blogspot.com) where she mentioned that in the event you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, that Social Security will fast track that person's application for early benefits. 

Additionally, we have all heard horror stories about some prescription costs - $30,000/year, month/etc.  Big Pharma has a program called "Compassionate Care" and presumably under certain circumstances, they will provide the necessary drug gratis

Since it's unlikely that any of us are at this moment planning to take a trip to Paris, the news that there is now a nude restaurant - O Naturel - in the 12 arrondissment of Paris - that seats 40 and has a prix fixe menu of 36 Euros per person is not going to have anyone e-ing them for a reservation.

Newspaper accounts report that the routine is upon entering for your reservation, you will be directed to a locker room to disrobe and hang up whatever you are wearing and then proceed (proudly or trying to hide your bits and pieces is up to you) to your table. 

Two comments amused me - a neighbor to this place said that he and his fellow neighbors don't care at all as they do not see anything and, "After all, it's not a brothel." 

The best reason not to go is this:  a column reader remarked, "What if you have to go to the bathroom and when you come out, the toilet paper is not stuck in your shoe?"  Disregard the visual and laugh - you know you want to ...

Sunday, November 5, 2017

The New Neighbor

She's 246.4 ft. long, 69.79 ft. wide and 57.57 ft. tall.  Her first name is Wingfoot 2 and she's the newest member of the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company family.  Her house in Carson is nine-stories high and it required 73 miles of polyester  to construct the double shell of her new home.

She's kind of a snob; she never stops to talk to us, just goes right over our heads.  I guess that's blimp behavior.

According to news reports, she is in every way better than her Daddy, Wingfoot 1.  Much less noisy both inside and out; stronger due to being constructed over a frame rather than depending on air to keep her sides rigid.  She now has a girdle, so to speak. 

Wingfoot 1 was seen so frequently in our skies that Redondo Beach actually named it the official city bird.  The route from Carson where it was based and where the new blimp will find a new home, goes over the residential areas to the ocean.    We are so accustomed to the old blimp's loud hum which made a sort of thrum noise,  as if it was a giant egg beater, whipping away, that we no longer rush out on the balcony to see it. 

Wingfoot 2 has made a couple of test flights and we did yank back the moonroof cover in Richie's car to see it.  At a brief glance, she does look slimmer and sleeker than her predecessor.  She can now seat 12, and the passengers can stand up inside and NOT have to wear headphones to communicate.  The old blimp seated only six. 

I think almost everyone who sees it quietly longs for a ride in it.  One of my great buddies when I was covering off-road racing was a guy named Jim Alexander, who was the Director of Goodyear's racing programs.  I thought that if anyone could get me a ride, he could.  Wrong.  He told me that he can't even go on it.  The blimp is reserved for only potential product-buying clients.

And then Richie's former employer, a Major American Airline (MAA) had as a guest speaker at one of the monthly retiree club meetings, one of the several blimp pilots.  His talk was an interesting one - three days to go from, say, the LA Coliseum to the arena in San Francisco - the noise, the differences in flying a blimp as opposed to a helicopter or regular airplane ... we were all rapt. 

At the end of his talk, I was chatting with several members of the club and I mentioned my passionate desire to get a ride, why I couldn't (Jim Alexander) and one of the men said, "My grandson, age six, and I had a ride."

"Oh, I'm so jealous?  How did you manage that?" with typical curiosity.  He didn't look happy, in fact, he looked kind of sad when he said, "It was one of the Make A Wish foundation rides - he had (note past tense) cancer." 

As anyone would be, I was horrified at having made such a gaffe, but he was very nice and said, "How could you have known?" 

Be careful what you wish for was never truer.   

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Safety in the Cemetery

"What could possibly hurt you in a cemetery?" you ask.  "They're all dead!"

They are.  But the roving gangs of thugs that lurk in Pere Lachaise, Paris, and Cemetery #1, New Orleans, ate very much alive and worse still, on the prowl.  It is best to join a tour guide-led group even if it costs a penny or two.   The old "safety in numbers."

But in an effort to discover burial grounds where you must exercise caution, I found a site called   cemeterytravel.com.

The author must be visiting a lot of rural (to say the least) cemeteries.  The list would be helpful if you are planning to visit great-grandmother's grave, deep in the country.

First, ask the locals what's likely to be a problem.  Such as wild boars or the gentle Disneyland deer which is anything but.  Deer are very large, very timid and if you are between them and an exit, they will attempt to go right through you.  Look around you and be alert. 

Carry a walking stick or cane to thresh your way through tall grass that could harbor a local snake. 

Sprinkle ground cinnamon on your shoes to thwart ants.  If ground cinnamon is so effective, how come I have only heard about flour or chalk?  

Carry a first aid kit for chigger bites, mosquitos, and other flying insects plus the usual items for an outdoor excursion. 

Bring a couple of bottles of water. Cemetery taps (for flowers)  may well be grey water. 

Very often, there is no cellular service in rural cemeteries.  Who're the residents gonna call anyhow?  Don't rely on your cell phone, but do make sure that someone who's staying at home knows where you went and when you could reasonably be expected to emerge. 

The author recommends buying a RoadID for the paramedics that may have to attend you.  It lists your contact numbers and medications.  This bears looking into for anywhere you go.  A passport does not carry a list of people; only one as a contact.  There's no space for a list of meds unless you create one by typing it out and taping the list inside the first Visa page. 

This column was prompted by the fact that our French class will be attending a lecture on Pere Lachaise November 11th and today is the last day of two for Dia de los Muertos.  Yeah, a day late and a dollar short...

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dashed Expectations and a Bit of Knowledge

Monday night was the monthly dinner meeting of the Peppertree Apartments Four.  Some 34 years ago, when we moved there, our across-the-stairwell neighbors were Mouton and "D" who were roomies in a two-bedroom flat.  All three of the men are ardent Dodger fans.  Time passed and "D" bought a house in Hermosa, Mouton a condo in Long Beach and us our house.   But the friendship continued.

We all take turns proposing a restaurant for this monthly feast and that night was "D"'s choice, the Chart House, Redondo Beach.  Knowing where we were going, I promptly pulled up the menu and made my choices.  This was Saturday.  Plan ahead. 

The dessert called to me with a siren song ... "Our signature dessert" of Hot Chocolate Lava Cake, infused with Godiva liqueur, topped with chocolate sauce and crushed Heath bar candy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Even dividing it into quarters, it still carried a hefty punch of calories.  $11.50

So I down-pedaled my main   and ordered the Thai Coconut soup with shrimp, morel mushrooms, all ginger-infused.  $9.  I liked the sound of the ingredients and pictured a creamy (the coconut) soup with plump shrimp. 

I was wrong.  It was a thin, watery broth with slime-y mushroom slices - flavorless needless to say, and four or five tough, dried-up crayfish.  Thai flavors?  The ginger-infusion?  Nowhere to be tasted.  It had such a strong lemon taste that my face puckered up at the first spoonful. 

Since we were having cocktails, I ate about half of it just for something in my stomach for the booze to bounce off of and not render me incoherent with laughter. 

I love champagne and rose wines so I tried a split of the Banfi Rosa Regale, rose $12.  It was very, very sweet.  When asked if I'd like another, I promptly switched to a split of Korbel Brut. $9.  That was so good that I had another.  $9. 

The dessert arrived, splayed out on a long rectangular platter, prettily garnished with long, wide stripes of chocolate sauce.  The cake was not molten, but it was very dry.  One of the guys must have scooped out and grabbed any Godiva liqueur; I never saw any.  The Heath bar crunch was rather skimpy, but the vanilla ice cream was a big, fat ball. 

I was 0 for 2 on dinner.  After it though, we and "D" finished the evening with a now-traditional stop at Suzy's, Artesia, Redondo Beach.  They seem to have live music every night there as we have been there on varied nights of the week and someone was always up on the little stage bangin' away.

We ordered beers and halfway through mine, I went out to the smoking patio for a cigarette.  I wasn't to be left in solitary contemplation as a guy came out and lit up, too.  As bar creatures do, we fell into conversation.

He was a drummer, had been asked to sit-in, if needed.  I told him I thought drums must be the most fun because they get to ad lib and wasn't it true that the drums lead the band?  He agreed.  I said that I thought it was cool that drummers don't have to read sheet music, they just bang it on in and he corrected me and said that drummers do require sheet music.  When I expressed puzzlement, he tapped on his phone and pulled up a sheet of drum directions.

It looked like a piano score until he pointed out little tiny "x"s on the bottom clef - that's when the drummer tings the top hat.  The third clef down was for the tom tom or the bass; can't remember but just Google "drum sheet music" for a fuller explanation. 

We continued our conversation by comparing desires - football?  I'd be a quarterback (because they get to tell everyone else what to do.)  He countered that it is infinitely better to be the center - the guy who hands off the football to the quarterback.   "This is crucial," he said.  "Doesn't matter how good the quarterback is if he gets a badly handed-off ball."  Baseball - he said catcher.  It was a fun conversation.

The band was back on stage, we made cordial farewells and I went back inside where Richie and "D" were deep in a conversation about the Dodgers, a subject they seem never to tire of for some reason.

All in all, a lovely evening.  A good conversation where you can learn about something that you didn't know can beat out bad food every time.   Bon appetite!

 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Modern Wedding

The last wedding Richie and I attended was in August, 2012, in Marseilles, France.  So when we went to my nephew's wedding a week ago, we had very little current knowledge about weddings.

You may not have been to a wedding for awhile, so ...
"Why, honey - I didn't know you could do that!"

"Anything you can do, I can do, too."

A New England Patriot's jersey lends pizazz, no?
 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Crafting with Wine Corks

No, I didn't empty the bottles first to get the corks and get confused with here and pinterest or something.  Although, as an idea, I can't totally dismiss it ...

These are the placement cards to show you where to sit.  The groom is a certified sommelier so the wedding was Napa-themed, so to speak. 

You will need per place setting:

one cork, vintage unimportant

four thumbtacks - look carefully at the base of the corks - you can barely see them.  The purpose, of course, is to keep the corks from rolling which could result in a wild scramble by the guests. 

one sharpish knife to cut the slit in the corks to hold the name signs. 

There was a bottle of Rutherford for each guest, with a silver ribbon tied around the neck holding a net bag of three wrapped chocolates and a utility cork embossed Steve and Gabby  10-22-17.  The tag reads, "Thank you"

Of note: in France, there is a separate dumpster for wine corks only.  Not the bottles.  Just the corks.  I believe they are recycled in some fashion.  You may never have the pleasure of drinking a Chateau-de- $1,000 a bottle, but you might get bits of the cork.   Something is better than nothing.  A votre sante!



Sunday, October 29, 2017

Whatever Happened to Helen Reddy Anyhow?

You may remember her hit song, "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar!"  That line was followed by, "in numbers too big to ignore."

Yes, well, according to Wikipedia (Google was busy, apparently totting up the numbers of women bleating about their own sexual harassment) says that:

She was born in 1941, making her 76 as of October something.  Forgot to jot it down, but the date has passed anyhow. 

In 1961, age 20, she married a much older man in order to flee from her parents. The marriage ended  shortly thereafter and she became a single mom to their daughter Traci.

In 1968, she married producer Jeff Wold and they had a son named Jordan.  In 1981, Wold entered rehab after an eight year romance with cocaine, a romance that was costing $100,000 a year.  She decided to divorce him, but after a month, she had changed her mind and took him back.  In 1983, Wold went back to cocaine and they were divorced in January, 1983, and she married the drummer in her band in June, 1983.

Hear me roar. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Why Do Environmentalists Always Get It Wrong?

Today the Redondo Beach Police Department teamed up with Behavioral Health Services, Inc. a non-profit organization funded by the LA County Dept. of Public Health under the Substance Abuse Prevention and Control Division to hold a drug drop-off. 

Gather up all of the Rx drugs you are not using, put them in a bag and drop them off at a designated place.  Today it was 200 N. PCH at Vincent an other department of the RBPD. 

We already had a metal box (formerly held cookies)  full of stuff we were no longer taking so it was an easy matter to chuck them all into a plastic bag and twist tie it shut.  Handing the bag over to one of several people standing around under a little blue tent,  we then motored stately on our way.   Personnel seemed very concerned that we hadn't included any needles which, of course, we hadn't. 

We were given a brochure on Safe Disposal Methods Do's and Don'ts

DO
Take Rx drugs to events like this one today

Take them to a designated police station with drop-off boxes - locally that would be Redondo, Hermosa and Manhattan Beaches plus a Walgrens at 1344 W. Redondo Blvd, Gardena.

Take drugs back to the pharmacy and use their drop-off box.  I have never seen a drug return box in any pharmacy I have ever been in and that includes "ours," the CVS on Pier Avenue.  Our drop off is I march up to the Consultation booth, hand them over and say, "I can't take these - they (fill in symptom") and they take them back.  The first time I did this, I suggested that they give the pills to a poor person without insurance and they were still laughing as I wended my way to the store front door. 

Dump the pills in with a used box of cat litter or coffee grounds in a bag and seal the bag. Remove the label from the plastic pill box and toss them into regular trash. 

DON'T
Flush drugs down the toilet.  Here is where I start to lose it ... "This pollutes our ocean and drinking water."

This is so patently absurd that it makes me want to drop kick whoever said it straight off of a cliff.  Palos Verdes isn't that much of a ride ... it could be done ... let them pollute the ocean as they rot away in it. 

Whatever is in the toilet is flushed to a sewer line which leads to a treatment facility that has standing tanks that filter waste from liquid, and put the dried waste in landfills.  Pills dissolve.  They are not going to be found in a landfill. 

The liquid left from this process is then filtered, cleaned and re-filtered again before going into the ocean. 

Tell me how a Rx drug - or even an aspirin for that matter - is going to harm any living thing!  Answer:  it isn't because it can't. 

And yet environmentalists make a big song and dance about polluting our oceans!  To hear them you would think your toilet flushes directly into the ocean! 

Which brings me to this gentle suggestion:  whenever one of these idiots tells you something like that, nod, smile pleasantly and go look it up.  They really are full of shit.


Friday, October 27, 2017

A Mixed Bag

Do you want the good news first or the bad?

Okay.  The bad.  My favorite happy place (outside of our house) is the San Pedro restaurant Ports O Call.  La! the merry times we have had there over the years with family and friends as guests as well as all by ourselves.  I put a lot of the gaiety down to the fact that the Sunday brunch includes unlimited champagne.  Champers is a real mood elevator.  I think of it as Rich Man's Alka-Seltzer post a lavish meal.  Or during one.  Or, in fact, as the drink of choice before dining. 

It is to be torn down this November.  Gentrification and wild dreams of avarice are turning the rather sleepy port into a "destination" site.  In a blatant effort to squeeze every nickel possible from people setting off on a cruise, as well as other tourists, the old Ports O Call (including the little stores) is being razed and replaced or homogenized.   This is not progress.  This is a  disaster in the making. 

The good news - to me, if no one else - is that "And the Best Blog Is: Word of Mouth" now has all five stars of the amazon.com's possible five stars.   I think the glowing positive comments given by many of you put it over the top.  I am most appreciative and I thank you profusely.

Now, if you can halt destruction of Ports O Call...

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Different Country

Wild Turkeys on Parade This is the tail end of a group of 12.  Don't get excited and reach for your shotgun.  They have a terrible gamey taste.

This is a woodpecker.  I wasn't used to them having a scarlet crest.  Do yours look like this?

The Mississippi in a serene mood

Winter skiing - summer zip line

Leaf season - they dance on the two-lane blacktop roads.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

We're Home!

A day not without certain frissons of annoyance.   But we are home and all is well.  Fred showed his annoyance at being Home Alone (despite having an excellent cat sitter) by snubbing us; Streak couldn't be bothered to come downstairs as we panted our luggage in.  But Lady Bird the cockatiel shrieked a gladsome welcome.  

It was a gala food fest every day and if I didn't go there fat (bite your tongue) I certainly came home that way.  (Now bite away.)

More tomorrow.  We also stayed up half the night visiting and both of us are tired. 


Thursday, October 19, 2017

Hopping Like A Rabbit In Chicago

We are shortly going to a family wedding at a resort (Eagle Ridge) in Galena, IL, which is 13 miles from Dubuque, Iowa.  The wedding is Sunday afternoon; Monday we drive to Libertyville which is 20 miles north of Chicago.  Just to give you a feel for the trip. 

Tuesday morning is our only shot at touring Chicago as we fly home Wednesday.  One of the tour companies sounded good - a two hour land tour on a little shuttle bus, followed by an optional boat ride.  Both appealed, particularly the boat cruise.  We are fools for riding around on the water.

But then I remembered that part of the wedding festivities include a boat tour.  Happily Chicago has what we so enjoyed in London - the Hop On, Hop Off Big Red buses.  I loved sitting on my languid ass, atop a bus where there is a 360 view and a (with any luck at all) knowledgeable bus driver. 

In London, we hopped off at Harrods's to do some hostess gift shopping and, of course, to see the memorial to Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed, product of a deranged father's dream.  Back to the Big Red Bus stop and off again at Kensington Palace to see an exhibit on Queen Victoria.  It was dull but we split a great shrimp sandwich in the cafĂ©-gift shop. 

The Big Red Bus - Chicago - is the same thing.  we'll take the commuter train in to town and the closest bus stop is the enormously tall Willis Tower, billed as either a 3 minute walk or a 4 minute cab ride or a bus ride of uncertain duration. 

Richie likes going to the top of buildings (Sears Tower previously) and to look around.  As I am terrified of heights (once assumed the fetal position on the floor of the glass elevator at the Rio, Las Vegas, from the first to the 50th floor) I stay sensibly on the ground as God no doubt intended us and wait from him to return, babbling about how far you can see!  If I wanted to see farther, I'd buy a telescope.  (snort.) 

We are trying a new house sitting service for this trip.  It seems that the Jehovah's Witness have a sideline.   The live in your house while you're gone.  Their arranger, who assigns houses to their volunteers made only one request - did we have a couple of lawn chairs they could put out in the driveway so as to contact more possible converts? 

As a matter of fact, we do.  So, dear readers, a warning - if you drive past a house and see a pair of either sex sitting in lawn chairs out in a driveway - hit the gas - that's our house and they are Jehovah's Witnesses.  When the lawn chairs are gone, we're home.