Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Sign the End Is Near

Moments ago, we spotted a white convertible -- ancient; in fact, the plates read "1923" -- heading East on Artesia with one of those magnetized signs on the passenger side that read: "Christmas has been cancelled; go directly to dying eggs"

You'd think the car's antiquity would have been enough...


Good - Alert readers will remember my love affair with Polar Fleece Funnel-neck tops. Curious I went back to landsend.com to see if by any chance they made Polar Fleece pants and they do! Mine arrived yesterday morning and they are wonderful - a low, wide waistband that softly squashes belly fat and legs long enough to cover my Uggs to the foot. They were $24.95 which is pricy, so I checked out Target and while they have varous styles of tops/hoodies, no pants. Other sites listed were in Pakistan, etc., but Land's End tops and bottoms are made in Jordan.

Perhaps Not So Good - A catalog arrived for Richie the other day called "Joie de Vivre - Authentic French Specialities" - you can visit at frenchselections.com.

The front section covers various food products (fois gras, escargots, jams, jellies, etc.) But I soon became extremely suspicious of their mark-up in prices. Because we stay with Michelle in her condo, we cook and grocery shop; thus I know what Amora mustard (sort of the French's of France) costs and it is most decidedly NOT $6.95 for a 15.5 oz. jar.

The back half of the catalog covers bistro-ware, tea towels, oven pads, boxed cookies and so forth. One item did catch my eye and it is this: a doormat (made of coconut fiber so it'd last approximately 30 minutes in any rain) that has a horizontal line dividing it. If you are facing the front door, it says "Bonjour." If you are leaving the house, it says, "Au revoir" which I think is funny. But it's $30 plus shipping to have a laugh so ... fuhgeddaboutit.

Very Fair Price - They sell an 8-person raclette set for $119 plus shipping. "Raclette" is the French name for the Swiss custom of melting cheese at the table.

It's a rectangular or round grill top with an electric heating unit directly under it; then an open space of some 2 inches and the individual "skillets" to hold the cheese. The grill is used to heat up ham, salami, cured meats. The melted cheese is poured over boiled potatoes and the traditional garnish is those little bitsy French pickles called "cornichons." Each guest does his/her own cooking.

It's a great, informal way to entertain dinner guests and I recommend getting one. Comparison shop! Don 't buy the very first one!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Nursery Stuff

I hunted this up for friends who recently had a baby and showed it to dinner guests last night to see if anyone remembered what day of the week they'd been born. A gay guest hit the last two words, roared with laughter and said, "Oh, well - that explains it!"

Here's the poem:

Monday's child is fair of face

Tuesday's child s full of grace

Wednesday's child is full of woe

Thursday's child has far to go

Friday's child is loving and giving

Saturday's child works hard for a living

And the child that is born on the Sabbath Day
is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

"Sabbath Day" indicates that this is a verrry old rhyme.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Day After Thanksgiving

Driving to the gym we noted that the Kiwanis tree lot had unloaded and set up a number of Christmas trees, but hadn't yet cut the individual trees out of their bindings.

You could have fired a cannon across the gym and not run any risk of hitting anyone.

Our route home takes us past Debbie and Jeff's Christmas Tree lot (last week it was Debbie and Jeff's Pumpkin Patch complete with two live chickens) where a big truck from Sun Valley, CA, was being unloaded. Richie spotted a woman overseeing the unloading and got all excited that maybe that was The Real Debbie.

Such is the excitement on the day after Thanksgiving here.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mandatory Phone Greeting onThanksgiving Day

Phone rings. You grab it and say this:

(gobble, gobble) Saaave me; saaave meeee" in a falsetto voice.

Guaranteed the caller will crack up.


According to Bon Appetit, this is what New Zealanders call a warm open-face sandwich. The recipe they gave is for AVOCADO TOASTIES WITH KIWI SALSA AND BACON

8 slices bacon, cooked, drained and set aside

1 T plus 2 tsp. fresh lime juice - set aside the 2 tsp. juice for the avocado
1 teas. honey
3 large kiwis, peeled and cut into dice
1/2 cup chopped, fresh cilantro (seems like a lot, doesn't it?)
2 green onions, chopped
2 teas. hot sauce
Mix together and set aside

1 loaf ciabatta or pain rustique cut in half horizontally. Using a large griddle, put the bread cut-side down on it and "toast" it until it's the color you want.

2 avocados, halved, pitted, peeled - mash them with the 2 teas. lime juice

Spread the mashed avocado over the toasted bread, top with a slice of bacon and some salsa.

But I don't think New Zealanders then say, "Bon appetit!"

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mothers and Daughters

First I read "Mama Makes Up Her Mind" by Bailey White. Unfortunately, I stupidly took it back to the library before I jotted down the publisher, number of pages (not many, it's a slim book) and price. Go to amazon.com; I did.

White seems to have made a cottage industry out of living in the South; she has at least four other books out. She writes about the vagaries of living in the South and with this one, pretty much living with her mother.

Her account of Mama's doings -- a Volkswagon stored on the front porch; Mama always sleeps on the back porch -- reminded me strongly of Big Edie and Little Edie Beale of "Grey Gardens" but she's just not quite as insane as they were. yet.

Next up was "Tip It" by Maggie Griffin. Apparently there is a television program called 'Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D List" and her 90-something year old mother has frequently appeared on it.

Kathy wrote her own biography; so here is Mom's which is, by and large, a lecture; don't dress your little kids like tramps and 'hos; why Bill O'Reilly and Judge Judy are her heroes and the book is punctuated with "witty" asides from Kathy. Based on her interjections, I would think she's kind of an angry objector with 'way too much mouth. I'm sure she would call it "biting sarcasm." To which I would say, "Not."

There are also 'way too many references to gay people and their lifestyles. I wanted to say, "Uh, it's 2010 now? They're queer and they're here? What part of that don't you understand?"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mapping Mexico One Bite at a Time

Richie and I went for haircuts the other day. Dale, the Tonsorial Parlor, has been cutting my hair for the past 27 years (and Richie's even longer.) We go together not because of any separation anxiety, but because the street parking in Manhattan Beach is nearly non-existent. And there's no parking lot near Dale, nor, come to think of it, anywhere but downtown Manhattan Beach.

Dale raved about a new Mexican restaurant so naturally, we drove directly to it the minute he'd finished with our hair. No time like the present and it was noon...

Teresa's Mosaic Cafe, 150 S. Sepulveda, El Segundo 310-648-7212
Apparently, the "mosaic" comes from the different areas of Mexico represented on their menu -- Sonora and Oaxaca and New Mexico (dessert sopapillas, a puffy, fried tortilla served with honey and powdered sugar.)

My beef taco and cheese enchilada were very good. ($9.50) Of course, they came with rice and beans! But the rice was very different -- imagine draining and adding a can of Veg-All to the rice and then tossing it with shreds of white cheese (like mozarella) and letting the cheese melt into the rice. Richie usually doesn't eat the rice, but he certainly lapped this version up.

Some of the things that aren't usually found on our Mexican restaurant menus --

Cazuela - traditional Sonoran beef soup from dried beef and potatoes. Small $4.50; large $8

Topopo - a version of a tostada with avocados, tomatoes, eggs, cheese, black olives and green chiles on a crisp corn tortilla with beans. $8

Tortas (Mexican sandwiches) - warm Telera roll "smothered" with beans and mayonnaise (!) topped off with salsa de aguacate, tomatoes, jalapenos and panela cheese. Meat choices are: breaded top sirloin or carne asada or chorizo - $8 apiece.

Tamales de Elote - sweet green corn tamales $12

Lomo Adobado - Sonoran style roast pork marinated in red spices $11

Camarones al Mojo de Ajo - garlic shrimp served with Calabacitas con queso (squash, corn, tomatoes, onions and cheese.) $15

And they even have fried ice cream for dessert! $4 (As well as a full bar and a tortilla making stand.)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Taste Testing

A photo in a magazine showed a platter of grilled shrimp that looked delicious. The caption read "Grilled Shrimp with ginger, chili flakes, honey, garlic and lemon." No recipe, no amounts, nothing.

Undaunted I assembled all of the above along with what the Brit "cookery" books call "a knob of butter" and started heating it up. I then threw in eight, good-sized shrimp and cooked them. When they were done, I spooned them out of the sauce, cranked up the heat and reduced it a bit. I served the shrimp over white rice with the sauce over the shrimp.

Next time, less honey, more ginger and perhaps minced real garlic. But it was good, just not as good as it could be. If you know this sauce, let me have the recipe, please!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Gift That (Presumably) Keeps on Giving

Yesterday's mail brought a catalog from an outfit called Heifer International, which modestly bills itself as "The most important gift catalog in the world."

The idea is that your donation pays for in part or in full a live animal (sheep, goat, cow, llama, honeybees, rabbits) to be given to an impoverished farmer who, after building the new animal a proper home and learning about its care, then receives that live animal. When that animal gives birth, the farmer must give one of the off-spring to a fellow farmer/villager.

Here is a partial price list for your consideration:
Gift of a goat or a pig or a sheep $120 Share of a goat, pig or a sheep $10
Trio of rabbits $60 share of rabbits $10
Flock of chicks $20
Gift of honeybees $30
Gift of a llama $150 share $25
Gift of a water buffalo $250 share $25

Countries listed as recipients include: Armenia, Arizona, Tanzania, Uganda, Thailand, Arkansas, Albania, El Savador, Kenya, Ghana, Guatemala, Ecuador, Georgia, China and Peru.

Learn all about it at heifer.org. This is not an endorsement of the program or the people who run the program, by the way.

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's Who You Know That Gets Your Book Published

"Paul and Me; 53 Years of Adventures and Misadventures with My Pal Paul Newman" by A. E. Hotchner Doubleday 234 pages $26.95

Hotchner wrote "Papa Hemingway" which was published in 34 countries in 28 languages in addition to 16 other books and screenplays. He and Newman met in 1955 when Newman appeared in a movie that Hotchner had written based on a Hemingway short story. In truth, Hotchner made something of a cottage industry of his friendship with Hemingway.

Both were at the start of their careers and would never have dreamed of the success Newman's food products would bring them. Hotchner and Newman were also partners in the Hole in the Wall Gang camps for cancer-stricken kids. They lived within 10 minutes of each other in Westport, CN. A favorite occupation was fishing at which both were dismally and routinely unsuccessful.

It's an engaging little book, full of anecdotes and gives insight into Newman's character. Hotchener claims that he was the exact same person in 2008 (when he died) as he was in 1955 when they met.

"This Family of Mine; What It Was Like Growing Up Gotti" by Victoria Gotti (and I'd bet $100 a ghostwriter) Pocket Books 379 turgid pages $27

To say that Victoria is a Drama Queen is understatement. She seems to be more than slightly ego-driven paranoid (if there is such a thing) as well. Describing hotelier Leona Helmsley's kindness to family during John, Jr's marriage, Victoria wrote, "The law enforcement types who approached her and asked to infiltrate the wedding were told 'no.' She was later prosecuted for tax evasion by the government in revenge." Right, Victoria, riiiight.

Victoria's younger brother was killed by a drunk driver while riding a friend's mini-bike. His mother had warned the youngster never to ride one; they were dangerous. He did so anyhow.

Several days after the funeral the kid who loaned the bike shows up at the house and asks when are they gonna buy him a new bike? The drunk who hit the boy lived directly behind the Gotti's house. He threw a noisy, drunken barbecue in his backyard. Mrs. Gotti heard the noise, grabbed a baseball bat and, in her nightgown stormed, around the corner where she proceed to beat the up the car that killed her son. The driver wanted to know who was going to pay for the damages! Not the smartest frocks on the rack ...

Immediately after his wife beat up on the car, Gotti took the family to Florida for a rest. Purely by coincidence, during their absence the drunk driver vanished, never to be seen again, dead or alive. Victoria doesn't think Daddy had anything to do with this; it was probably a friend of her father's who avenged this insult for him.

It's entertaining enough, but it's also reading about animal behavioral patterns, too.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Lunacy In Florida
A truck dealership is offering a voucher worth $400 for the purchase of an AK-47 if you buy a truck from the dealership. This offer was annunced to celebrate Veteran's Day! A critic of this plan said it might make more sense to give buyers a free flag and a pole to fly it for their front yard.

I think it's a terrible idea to give people AK-47s for this reason: the median age for Floridians has to be something like 102 years old. You really want to give a 102 year old a gun? Have you seen the way they drive in Florida!? They don't need guns!

Aw, Coo -- Prince William has finally proposed to his girlfriend. Certainly it was touching when he told the cameras that the reason he gave his fiancee his Mother's old ring was so that she would be a part of this event. (Aw...) However, given the fact they've been a couple for the past nine years and that she lives in his North Wales cottage...can't be many surprises on the old wedding night, eh?

The Dentist
I saw mine yesterday. He has an unusual way to administer the shots that numb your gums. He grabbed me by the cheek -- oh, very well -- by my sizeable wattles -- and began vigorously shaking my head! My eyeballs rattled around in my head like marbles in an empty Crisco can. I can promise you I never noticed the needle sticks. I remember thinking, "Man I'm so glad he's not my grandfather! Grandpa's coming - run like the wind!"

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

At The End, It Was a Sad Story

"Furious Love - Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and the Marriage of the Century" by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger Harper 500 pages $27.99

If you're old enough to remember the '60s, then you will recall what a scandal the Taylor-Burton affair caused. The Pope chastized them! I seem to remember they were banned in Boston... Double adultery, living in sin, much guilty moaning about "my children," suicide attempts, wild disbursements of cash to such as jewelers, hotels, staff (some 18 or 20 people on their payroll,) yacht brokers plus incidentals like Chasen's chili flown in to them in sites all over the world.

To say nothing of horrendous drinking bouts. In the end, it was Burton's inability to deal with drink (and Elizabeth) that did in not only their marriage, but his health. He died aged only 58. She, in her 70s, has slowed but by no means stopped. A month or so ago, there was a breathless media announcement that she was engaged ...and then the story abruptly died.

What amazed me is this: In their early careers, both drank like fish (Bloody Marys on set at 10 a.m.) but "delivered great performances, never missing a mark or a word." C'mon! I wasn't born yesterday. I've been drunk and I've seen drunks and none of us were coherent enough to star in a movie. That's a nice story, but it surely isn't true.

Monday, November 15, 2010

The New Neighbor

Not to brag or anything, but our new neighbor is a rock star. We met her for the first time as her shiny, silver convertible rolled smartly in to her driveway next door. When her chauffeur, John, had parked and her lady's maid, Angie, had fluffed her hair, the convertible top came down to reveal her regally enthroned in the back seat. She was just home from a jaunt to the beach (it was really a lovely day.) She stretched languorosly in her bunny suit as we admired her.

She is known professionally as Son Altesse but her real name is Ella. She was also just four days old! Yet, with what aplomb she greeted us...

She arrived at 10:05 a.m. on November 7, 2010. No height given and I know she'd kill me if I put in her weight (8 lbs., 13.4 oz - hah! She can't read yet!) Her Mom said it was a long process bringing her here - she's wide shouldered like her Dad -- but I prefer to think that the train of the royal robes got twisted around an intestine or something. We are talking royalty here...

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sunday Silliness (Blog #700)

W is the magazine side of the newspaper Women's Wear Daily and covers fashion matters. The new one arrived yesterday ...

The Fat Whisperer is a "body therapist" in Pasadena, CA (Not my idea of a fashion capitol. Ed.)
She does spot reduction (butt and thighs) via a combination of wraps, glops, a vacuum machine and this: She whispers to the offensive cells, "I command you to get out. I listen to what emotion is in the cell membrane, then I talk to it. I tell the cell which way to move out of the body." (Barking mad. Ed.)

Here's a treat for the Greenies! Shoes made from recyclable plastic that cost $119 a pair. They are flats that are "chic enough to wear to dinner."

"All the romance and grandeur of a European castle, yet only 15 minutes from the DFW International Airport!" reads the headline above the full-page ad. Here's what you get for $8,950,000: 3.3 landscaped acres with a 19,000 sq. ft. house which has 8 bedrooms, 8 full baths, 3 powder rooms, 9 living areas, 4 full kitchens, 3 mini-kitchens, a cake decorating room, loggia and veranda, exercise room, pool and pool house, tennis court and tennis house with full kitchen and lavish guest suite, 7 garages, an elevator, nanny quarters, outdoor entertaining area with fireplace and bar.

There is an article on Sky Mall, the magazine of airline travel. I think we all need ... the Healthiest Deep Fryer - makes up to 2 lbs. of fried food using only one tablespoon of oil! $299.95 A sort of alien-looking mask that is worn 10 minutes per day to "achieve a 72% reduction in sagging." $149. The photo of a newborn looked so convincing that I literally jumped when I read it was actually the Cherish Baby Doll. (No price given) Why on earth would anyone want one? Only someone that was truly deranged was my conclusion. But then that could be said about me every time I renew my subscription to W ...

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Neighborhood

We've seen two interesting things at the beach recently -- "beach" meaning the parking slots on the hill overlooking the Redondo Beach Pier and the sea. This is a frequent stop for us while out running errands. It's a game to see if we can see Catalina or not and it's usually "not."

The first was the sight of one of those block-long limos gingerly ooching itself up and over the speed bumps to pick up a wedding party, milling around the parking lot. Apparently, it was a wedding on the sand as all of the participants were barefoot, including the bride. Much laughter as they sorted themselves out and clambered willy-nilly into the vast cavern of the limo.

The second sight was sad. The other day one of our local scuba divers (this "beach" is one of their favorite areas to embark) got into a bad situation of some sort and was declared dead at the hospital despite the best efforts of the RB paramedics to revive him.

We'd stumbled on to the memorial. A group of people stood on the sand; a smaller number had gathered to form a circle in the shallow water. This group was wearing big white t-shirts (pulled over their street clothes) and they had a floating bouquet of flowers. What struck me was the trust of these people -- the sea had taken one of their own, but they forgave it and in fact had gathered by it to celebrate a life now lost to them.

Today the city of Hermosa Beach is dedicating (to whom or to what is unknown) all of the "improvements" to Pier Avenue, one of the two main drags in that fair city. These "improvements" it must be noted removed half of the parking slots on the street, took out even more space to have palm trees planted down the middle of the road and they were a real bummer for the businesses there during destruction and construction which ran from January to last week.

We drove down Pier after going to the library book sale, but though the dedication was scheduled for 10 a.m., at 9:50 a.m. there were only a few desultory efforts to get ready -- a couple of small tents on the sidewalk, a bunch of balloons tied at this door or that one. Not many people walking their dog or shopping either. Life is easy going at the beach. We like it that way.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bits & Bobs

"I Can Get It Wholesale"
I really enjoyed a glass of Zonin Prosecco at Tin Roof Bistro the other day. Crisply cold, tons of vertical spiraling bubbles ... Tin Roof prices it at $8/glass or $32/bottle which is 'way too rich for my blood. Next day we were in Trader Joe's and on a whim, I went to look at their wine stock. Zonin Prosecco $16.99/bottle.

Still the Same
Seven months ago, new owners took over the venerable Rosa's Mexican resto which has been right where it is since 1972. It's known for good, but inexpensive food. Longtime fans were outraged, horrified, you name it at the new owner news. We popped in yesterday and it's exactly the same. Same salsa, same break-em-up-yourself tortilla chips. We had a cheese enchilada and a beef taco apiece and the tab was $8. Rosa's, 322 Pacific Coast Hwy, Hermosa Beach 310-374-9094 Mon. - Thurs. 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Fri. Sat. Sun. 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Fit To Be Tied (up in a Straitjacket)
Tuesday morning I have an 8 a.m. dental appointment to replace two crowns and get a filling. Due to the fact that I fear dental tools and human proximity, I prefer to be sedated. The less I have to know the better.

My personal space is about 3 ft. away from any point in my body. If you move in next to me at 2 ft. 11 in. I am going to start edging away. I'm not physically affectionate; I was raised that way (sniff.) So having the dentist and a tech literally in my face is not pleasant.

Sedation instructions were: take a 10mg valium before you go to bed on the eve before - here's the Rx for that. At 6 a.m. take the "forgetter" pill - here, it's in this little envelope. Be there at 7 a.m. for a second forgetter and the commencement of work.

Excuse me? I have an 8 a.m. but I have to be there at 7 a.m.? Despite my having stressed (repeatedly) to personnel there that I am a writer and writers don't do diddly before 9 a.m. Deaf ears ... selfish personal agendas (theirs; certainly not mine!)

I dutifully took the valium Rx in to the pharmacy yesterday and picked it up this morning. The dentist had checked the 1 to 24 supply box on the Rx so I'm all happy, thinking I'm going to get a nice supply of Mother's Little Helpers (Rolling Stones.)

It was one pill and that one pill was $11.99.

The only thing I can do is spin this thing like a politician. My mantra is now: the work that's being fixed is 30 years old; I'm 70 years old, this is probably the last major dental work I'll ever have to have...

Still doesn't make up for the indignation of absolutely having to be up at 6 a.m. and in an office at 7 a.m.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Honoring Our Veterans

Oldest Serving Vet Dies
5/15/09 Major Steven Hutchinson, 60, of Scottsdale, AZ, died in Iraq when a roadside bomb exploded.

Hutchinson, a Viet Nam vet, wanted to re-enlist the day after 911, but his wife objected. When she died of breast cancer, he did re-enlist in July of 2007.

Hutchinson was a pyschology professor at various California colleges, had had four marriages, no children.

It might be argued that he had poor impulse control (to re up the very day after 911 to say nothing of four wives) but certainly no one could possibly question his patriotism.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Letter To The Editor

One of the best ways to reach a number of people is to write a letter to the editor of your local paper and get it printed.

Ay, there's the rub -- get it printed. From experience, I tell you: keep it brief. Stick to your point and use the fewest possible words to convey it. Often the Letters column has just a little bitof space leftover and that's where your letter should be designed to go.

The Trump $12 million home not being news (at all) but an ad masquerading as news irritated me so much that I did indeed write to the Daily Breeze and my letter ran in today's paper. I boiled down the column to some 90 words.

I could have made it even shorter had I written:
Dear Sirs: So -- who's banging Trump's real estate lady?"
but I doubt they would have printed it.

Use discretion, sign with your name, address and phone number and know the thrill of seeing your name and, more importantly, your point of view in the paper -- without having to buy an ad!

Monday, November 8, 2010

(signed) Outraged Subscriber

It must have been a very slow news day because the Daily Breeze in its infinite wisdom plastered a huge photo of a woman walking barefoot across a wooden floor, shoes carefully held in her right hand as she peered at the camera through midnight black sunglasses. The photo and the headline "House With a $12 Million View" were above the fold.

As was the subhead, "Trump seeks buyer for lavish estate in RPV, where he's ever controversial."

Back story for non-locals: Trump has been at war with the city of Rancho Palos Verdes since 2002 when he bought the 261-acre site for $27 million. He put in a golf course; the 18th hole fell into the ocean. He put up a 70 ft. tall flagpole with an American flag (had he put up the Trump logo, he would have been promptly stoned to death) of commensurate size to the howls of outrage from residents above and overlooking the property.

Trump said, "I built the number one-rated golf course in the state of California and instead of saying, 'Thank you very much,' all they do is impede me." He called city representatives "nasty and incompetent."

In today's paper, he said, "Locationally, it's fabulous." Locationally? What language is Ego Central aka Donald Trump speaking?

Linda D'Ambrosi, saleswoman for the property, referring to a rumor that Trump lived there and was moving out: (It's) "one of the estates in Mr. Trump's personal collection." (Ed. note: Well, la-ti-dah)

What does your $12 million get you? The view, five bedrooms, an infinity pool flanked by two fire pits, inlaid marble floors, a full bar, a "huge" wine cellar and nine (9) bathrooms.

"It's a very special home for someone like Mr. Trump. It's a life style -- Palos Verdes," smirked D'Ambrosi.

If the Daily Breeze was trying to roil up the outrage at Mr. Trump and his various doings, this was not the way to do it. I'm outraged, all right, but at a more-or-less respectable local newspaper running a real estate ad disguised as "news" on the front page!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Experiment

Recently I read that the best way to re-heat a slice of pizza is to put it into a dry skillet and put the skillet over a medium fire. Reasoning? The crust will stay crisp. We had three slices of plain cheese pizza left. Time to slip into my lab coat and get to work.

I heated one in the microwave (one minute; medium) and it was soggy.

I put one slice in the toaster oven and set it on convection mode at 300 for about three minutes. Crust was crisp; top was pliable.

I put the last slice in a dry skillet and heated it slowly. Very slowly because you have to press down with a spatula to get all of the crust uniformly across the skillet surface. The crust stayed crisp and the top started bubbling.

Conclusion: if you're dying of hunger, nuke it. If you want "same as" the night before, put the slice directly on the wire rack in the toaster oven and do that. Having eaten three full slices, I had to go sit down, but I did it happily -- anything for my readers!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Richie's Big Adventure

He just left for the Chevron refinery, El Segundo, to hook up with Emma and Dale (both Thurs. Writers.) The three of them will board a posh tour bus and be driven all over the refinery while a Chevron employee tells them what they're seeing.

I have no idea what propels Dale (aerospace engineer) or Emma (retired grade school teacher) into the bowels of a refinery, but I certainly know why Richie's there. It's a free tour.

Richie loves "free" or even "nearly free." I think we all remember the recent Nathan's Coney Island hot dog caper? Billed as "Buy one at regular price, receive the second one for a nickel!"? And in his vast excitement, we arrived one full week ahead of time for this gala?

This is Chevron's third offering to a (supposedly) admiring public. I know this because Richie invited me to go the first one which I did and he dragged me, kicking and screaming, to the second. As it happens I hav a lot of uncles and cousins in South Texas and Oklahoma who were/are in the "awl bidness" thus a refinery is not all that exciting to me.

Chevron has very strict security, you must call them well ahead of time for the tour and make a reservation, including the full names of all in your party. Upon arrival, you must show Security a photo ID before your name is ticked off of his clipboard and you are allowed onto the bus which is, incidentally, quite fancy -- reclining seats, foot rests, big TV screen over the driver's head.

There are a couple of spots on the road that are quite exciting. This is becaue the road would only be considered two lanes if you were on a motorcycle. It is narrow; the bus is immense (comparatively) and there are a couple of very tight corners. I remember the driver having to back up once just to make a turn. Not quite a Disneyland E ticket ride, but when the back of the bus extends out, off of a cliff face, you tend to pay a certain amount of attention.

After about half an hour of winding around the refinery -- "We have our own fire department" -- "Employees use the bicycles in that parking lot to get around quickly" -- "We're proud of the fact that we have gone 3,452 hours with no accidents -- safety first!" -- you are deposited gently back at the offices where you started out.

I'm just as happy to be on my own at home. It looks like it's going to rain; all of the refinery buildings, fittings, pipes are varying shades of gray ... they can have it and joy to them!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friends of the Artists

Pat Cox (wife of Thurs. Writer Dale Cox) has works as part of a show now going on at the Zask Gallery. Pat is a "found" artist which means someone who can find/make beauty out of damned near anything. I don't doubt that Pat could take an odd piece of driftwood, two or three pearl buttons, a light bulb, an old jar and create something beautiful. To be a found artist means your eye must be accepting and imaginative.

One of the biggest pieces at the Zask Gallery is a rocket booster shell she bought from NASA! It was being sold as scrap!

We've been privileged to be guests in their home where we marveled at her personal gallery. I doubt they'd open their doors to just anyone (even a Word of Mouth reader) so do go to the Zask Gallery.

Zask Gallery, 31246 Palos Drive West (near Admiral Risty'[s restaurant) in Rancho Palos Verdes. pszaskgallery.com Friday and Saturday, noon to 9 p.m. Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Tues. wed. Thurs. 5 to 9:30 p.m.

Lerri Peterson (daughter of Thurs. Writer Joyce Peterson) is a visual artist who paints nature in acrylics, water colors and pastels. She also teaches at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center. Visit her by going to ArtByLerri.com

Lerri's works are part of an exhibit opening on Sunday, November 14th, from 3 to 6 p.m. at the Colortec Art Gallery, 24247 Hawthorne, Torrance 310-373-6717

Her mother, Joyce Peterson, is the artist who painted the Palos Verdes cliffs painting that adorns this column. She painted it as a card for my 70th birthday. Joyce is 92. I had it framed and it now hangs in our living room. Think how wonderful it must be to have that kind of talent -- to personally make something fine for something as mundane as a birthday card.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

It's a Numbers Game

Day before yesterday, I listed the cities in our area that are called the 53rd Assembly District along with total population (423,395,) people old enough to vote (340,064) and registered voters (256,619) because after an election, I'm always curious to see just how many people got up off their arse and wended their pensive way into a voting booth.

Voter apathy is such out here, that some years we have hated to interrupt the poll workers at their bridge game or knitting to give us ballots, but Tuesday's vote seemed lively. The parking lot was nearly full; there were a lot of people voting when we were there and poll workers reported a good turnout.

Today the LA Times printed the statistics that interest me:
53rd Assembly District
117,902 did vote (46%)
138,717 pulled a Meg Whitman and stayed home (54%)

Disappointing, of course, but bad as this is, it was still a major improvement.

More pointedly, Redondo Beach (pop. 60,000 +/-) had to vote aye or nay on a local issue and a lusty number of us did -- 19,236 total votes.
Measure G garnered 10,075 votes 'Yes" and 9,161 votes "No."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pumpkins Are Smashing!

The people who pack Libby's 100% pure pumpkin ran ideas for use of their product as something other than "just" pumpkin pie.

* Use canned pumpkin as a thickener in vegetable chili; a spicy stew, black bean soup or curry.

* Fat substitution - use canned pumpkin for half of the fat in quick breads. It will add color and flavor.

* A simple soup -- saute onion slices, add 4 cups of chicken broth and a 28-oz. can of pumpkin. Stir in 3 oz. of goat cheese and season with a pinch of nutmeg.

And when you do make that pumpkin pie, consider adding any of these ingredients -- brandy, rum, maple syrup, chopped dates, crystalized ginger or candied orange peel.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


The 53rd Assembly District is comprised of: Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, El Segundo, Lomita, Marina Del Rey and Torrance.

The population of this beach area is 423,395
Those of voting age number 340,046
Registered voters number 256,619 people

I can hardly wait to read the paper tomorrow and see how many people did vote. We normally vote in the morning, but this time held off until 3:30 p.m. to query the polling people and see how the turnout was coming along. To my joy, all said that it is better than has been historically.

Monday, November 1, 2010

1,657,137 Reasons to Vote

U.S. Military Killed in

World War 2 291,557
Viet Nam 47,355
War on terror 4,295

U.S. Military Wounded in

World War 2 1,076,245
Viet Nam 211,454
Iraq 36,231