Monday, June 30, 2014

Biding My Time Till the 4th

It looks like a promising week - two of my favorite cousins will be in town (on other business) from Houston and we haven't seen each other in ages.  Our adopted nephew is coming in from San Diego for the weekend.  Our friends and former next door neighbors invited us to their new neighborhood's block party -- bring out the champagne! 

So today isn't a total loss, my sister brought a new cruise line to my attention.  It's call "Un-Cruise Adventures" and they do the Snake and Columbia Rivers from Portland and back, using small boats with an average head count of 88 passengers or slightly less.  This is the Lewis and Clark  expedition - on the water. 

Better still, they do one in the Sea of Cortez and depending on the time of year, you can admire mother whales showing off their whale-etts.   Cherry on the Sundae Dept.  You fly in and out of Cabo.  I can always do me some Cabo.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

4th of July Necklaces!

No, I am not advocating hanging a string of lady fingers around your neck and setting them off!  Fireworks are illegal in most cities and states, so don't break the law.

But Hallmark has come up with a similar effect (without the subsequent burns) with their 4th of July/Bastille Day necklaces.  It is a thin chain of red, white and blue stars that will flash (in three speeds) at the press of the button.  Very festive looking.

Fran, of Fran's Hallmark, took great pains to show me the two extra batteries in the back of the package and cautioned me to look for them before pitching it.  She further warned that when those batteries are dead, buy the replacements at the 99 Cent Store.  She cautioned that in other stores, the same batteries will cost $6 or $8. 

Each necklace is $6.  They may be available at other places, but I know for sure Hallmark has them.  And am not shilling for Hallmark! 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Chef Absurdities

If that's actually a word...  I read three cooking magazines every month and I always take a look at the new cook books at the library to see if anything appeals.  Very often I run across recipes that strike me as bizarre, strange or outrageous or some combination of all of that. 

Bon Appetit wins the roses today.  Chef Jonathon Sawyer, of the Greenhouse Tavern, Cleveland is pushing ...

2 1/4 cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 teas. vegetable oil
1/4 cup plus 1 T popcorn kernels
3 large egg yolks
4 teas. corn starch
3 T sweet butter, cubed
1/4 teas. pure vanilla extract

Combine the milk, cream, sugar and salt and bring to a boil over moderate heat.  Stir well to dissolve the sugar.

Heat the oil and pop the corn.  Set aside one cup for garnish and put the rest in with the milk-cream mixture and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Whisk the egg yolks and cornstarch until smooth.  Strain the milk-cream mixture and discard the solids (i.e. the popcorn)  Gradually whisk in the hot cream into the egg yolks and then put it all back in the pot and then stir until it comes to a boil.  Shut off the heat, beat in the vanilla and butter and put the whole thing in a dish for the refrigerator.  Cover the pudding with saran-wrap placed directly on it. 

When you serve it, garnish with the leftover popcorn. To save time, nuke a bag of popcorn and pour vanilla yogurt over it (in the popcorn sack) eat and discard the bag.  I think that makes a little more sense...

Friday, June 27, 2014

Gangsta Chef

"L.A. Son - My Life, My City, My Food" by Roy Choi   An Anthony Bourdain Book *   340 pages   $29.99

If I saw Choi, out on the street, nowhere near any of his various restaurants, I think I'd walk just a little faster and maybe cross the street.  He does not look approachable; he looks like a gangbanger.  Baggy shorts, baseball hat, body covered in tats ... and a real toilet tongue.  The book is generously laced with the F Word.  I am certainly not a prude (and have the vocabulary to prove it) but 340 pages of gangsta talk and idioms - I'm tawkin' to you, homie - would be wearying for a "nice" person. 

That said, he does have some interesting recipes. 

4 ears of corn, shucked,  with a chopstick or skewer stuck in one end to serve as a handle. 
3 T vegetable oil
2 T softened butter
Pinch of sea salt
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
1 cup grated Cotija cheese
Pinch of cayenne
2 limes, halved

Heat the griddle with the oil, slather the butter on the corn and brown the corn.  When it's done, mayo them and shower with the cheese - the ears should be completely covered in cheese.  Dust them with the cayenne and lime juice.

1/2 watermelon, sliced
Pinch of salt
1 lime, halved
1 cup goat cheese
Cracked black pepper
1/2 cup toasted cashews
2 T extra virgin olive oil

Season the watermelon with salt and lime juice; crumble the goat cheese all over it and add the pepper, cashews and olive oil.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 in. rings
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup rum
Splash of orange juice
2 T butter

Caramelize the pineapple rings in the skillet or griddle.  When they're done, add the sugar and caramelize just slightly and then deglaze with the rum.  Add a splash of orange juice and eat.

*  Who knew Anthony Bourdain is now a publisher? 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Our Lunch at the Chateau Marmont

The four of us chose a table on the spacious, tented patio and waited for service which was not slow in coming. 

We asked for water and the bus asked, "Sparkling or flat?" and I said, "Flat" while the rest of them were sorting out what that meant.  In France, one says "Robinette" which means you want tap water.  Sparkling is a gyp.

The menu tips a fedora to several classic English food items - the strawberry Eton Mess (last encountered in the Dales,) the sticky treacle pudding and the Sir Kensington Ketchup said to date back to Catherine the Great who requested it at a dinner.  Kensington went out into the kitchen and made it for her.

Richie ordered a Stone IPA ($8) and I a Bloody Mary ($18.)  Charlie and Rosalind stuck to water.

Richie's starter was a crab and avocado concoction, neatly formed into a cube.  For this type of presentation, the chef takes a 3 in. length of PVC pipe, crams in the contents and ever-so-carefully eases the pipe off.  Viola!  I haven't seen this presentation since the 1980s, I think it was. 

All three of them ordered the house version of a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich ($18 each) and Richie later told me that if the meat in all three sandwiches had been used in one, it would have been a great deal more "steak-y."  I got the BLT with avocado, hold the L please ($16)  All four of the sandwiches came with shoestring fries.  Richie poached some of mine; his hadn't been in the fryer long enough.

In for a penny, in for a pound, we ordered dessert.  Charlie and Rosalind split a hot fudge sundae garnished with chunks of brownie ($11.)  Richie had one to himself and I got the sticky treacle pudding ($11)  It was exactly the way one should be - with a dig-through-it shell, and a date cake interior, sitting in a puddle of butterscotch.

The tab came to $159.14 (my treat) and the tab also had a sliding scale of gratuities printed on it - just in case you somehow forgot - running from 20%.  I chose 20% or $31.83 and Charlie shrugged and laid down $32 for it.

Looking back, what I remember is hotel food and high prices.  One Bloody Mary $18?  Where was the bottle of vodka and another can of tomato juice? 

Rosalind rationalized that it was an attraction and if we'd had to pay admission and then had a cheaper lunch, it would still be that expensive.. .

We've been, we don't have to go back is my take. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Split Personality of the Chateau Marmont

The hotel consists of 63 rooms and suites and it's small possibly because it was built in 1927 and there were far fewer people wanting or needing a place to stay.  Over the years, its quirky charm has appealed to writers (F. Scott Fitzgerald, Fran Leibowitz), actors, directors and rock stars.   Janice Joplin and John Belushi died here.

New-ish owner Andre Balazs, 57, went through a lot of red tape to buy it as it is under historical protection.  And this is part of the split personality.  I noted that in the Ladies room both of the sinks had cracks, but the light fixtures were the mother-of-pearl push buttons of a much earlier era.  In the 87 years of its existence, don't you think anyone else noticed this?  It's a funny place to save money.  Women are notoriously picky about bathrooms. 

The '20s and '30s  -era furniture used in the interior are all sort of musty looking --as if a cloud of dust would puff up if you thumped yourself down in one.   The patio tables and chairs are woven plastic "cane." 

Because it is a working hotel with (presumably) guests, visitors to the place are not allowed to see the pool, cabanas or bungalows.  The patio where we settled for lunch was spacious and conversation was muted.  All very civilized..

But how about the food? 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tomorrow ...

We're gonna bomb on up from the beach to Hollywood for lunch at the Chateau Marmont.  Get your beauty sleep tonight - tomorrow you may be "discovered"!  And scoop up all the coins you can find in your sofa cushions.  I think you're gonna need'em...  menu at 

Monday, June 23, 2014

House Cat Cafes

I read about this new craze in an online periodical for hip young women.  The writer gushed on and on about being away from home and missing her beloved kitties so much that she traipsed across half of Paris (I think it was Paris) to find a cat café.

Which is what?  An opportunity to take tea and scones or pastries in a room full of cats.  You will pay a fee for both. 

The cafes had to be designed differently from a "regular" café in that an airlock is needed to keep them inside; fur repellent fabrics are required and there must be ample platforms and ladders for Miss Kitty's enjoyment. 

It is believed this unusual sort of tea shop came out of Osaka, Japan, where very few people are allowed to have a pet in their apartment.  Instead they schedule and book kitty time.  This seems tragically sad to me ... to have to book time with an animal because it can't live with you.

But in other locations, the cat population changes because visitors fall in love and adopt a particular cat.  Much more practical and humane way to do things. 

Even if a cat café did open in our neighborhood, I wouldn't bother to go because we have two cats - no point in going out looking for trouble which is what it would be if Richie ever spotted a cat café.  It's embarrassing to have to drag a grown man away by an ear.  But the cats would laugh...

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Some Measuring Required - French Summer Drinks

These are classics, particularly in Provence where the summers are scorching. 

The Two Kirs
The everyday kir (pronounced like "deer") is a white wine like Pinot Grigio with a shot of black current liquor, called "cassis" and served in a champagne flute.

A Kir Royal is made with a shot of Cassis in a champagne flute; fill with Champagne or( if you're economizing,) prosecco.

Everything is Peachy Keen!  Let's have a Bellini!
1 bottle Amour de Paris peach champagne
I bottle peach juice
(Both available at Trader Joe's)
 Put a shot of peach juice in a flute and fill with Amour de Paris peach champagne. 

The Classic
Pastis (a licorice-flavored liqueur) which is drunk with gusto and sometimes breakfast all through Provence.

You will need a tall glass (until you get used to measuring the amount of pastis you like. )  The usual set up is an ice bucket and a pottery pitcher for the water.  My pitcher even has "Pastis" written across its belly - talk about job specific....
  All you need now is the booze. 

Pour  a finger of pastis into the empty glass.  Add cold water - it will look milky -- you want this -- and then ice and sip to taste. Too much pastis?  Add more water. 
 Pastis is available at Bev-Mo in the $25/big bottle range.  .
All of these drinks are meant to be adjusted by you as to strength of drink.

If all of the above is just too much bother, reach for the bottle of icy cold rose.  Because it is served very cold, don't waste money on a "good" rose.   The box version is plenty good. 

A bientot!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Disease and Medicine in Elizabethan Times

You may want to re-think going back to Elizabethan England after you hear some of the medical treatments for diseases you've never known existed.  Doctors of those days relied on Galen's teachings (he lived in the second century.)

Galen believed in the four "humors" of the human body.  Yellow bile, black bile, phlegm and blood.  These "humors" wee attached to moods.  Yellow bile affected the liver, so one became "liverish" which still exists today as the universal French obsession with that organ. 

The plague was deadly.  1563 - 17,404 dead.  1603 - 32,257 dead.  The official advice of the College of Physicians was to perfume the bedroom and keep a fire burning.  The physicians, incidentally, didn't make house calls. 

Funerals, during plague times, were held at dusk (no electricity) to discourage mourners from attending. 

People were so devastatingly poor then that if you did fall ill with the plague you could hire a poor woman to  be boarded up with you - yes, windows were covered and nailed shut - to do the cooking and cleaning.  The odds were very good that it would be the poor woman's last job. 

One man who had the plague didn't fight.  Instead, he had his grave dug not far from his house, had a bunch of straw laid in the hole for a bed,, climbed down, asked for a blanket and "so departed out of this world."

Modesty was in short supply.  If you were pregnant and didn't invite your best girlfriends to the delivery, it was considered something of a slight to them.

There is a reason people got sick - plates, tankards and pots were washed, but no soap was used. 

Contrary to popular belief today, the Elizabethans did not accept nor ignore noxious smells from the outdoor privies or indoor chamber pots.  Sir John Harington, Elizabeth's godson, built a water closet with running water.  She had the design copied for use in her Richmond home.  Royalty always gets the good stuff...

Friday, June 20, 2014

Everyone's On Brazilian Time


We're the most interested for America (of course) but we can spare a little love for France (at the moment 5 - 0 over  the Trolls of Switzerland) for Michelle; Britain for Frank, Anne and John; Venezuela Tomas and Olga.   

Enjoy these games - they only come around every four years.  It'll be a long wait until 2018...

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Famous Love Story or a PR Sham?

Mary Matalin and James Carville seem to be famous because he's a yellow dog Democrat and she is just as fervently a Republican and both have worked the past three presidential campaigns, each for "their side."  Their marriage has been questioned as to whether it was a political stunt?  A sham? (Presumably for the publicity) and the ever-popular, "What could you possibly see in each other?"  

"Love & War - 20 Years, Three Presidents, Two Daughters and One Louisiana Home" by Mary Matalin and James Carville   Blue Rider Press   336 pages   $28.95

This is a good read.  They took turns writing on a variety of subjects; thus it reads very much like a conversation/interview (in the good sense when the interviewees are being responsive.) 

From everything I've read so far, few could be as diametrically opposed in so many ways as they are and stay in the same room, let alone the marital bed.  He was diagnosed with ADHD five years after the marriage; she doesn't have it.  His parents and siblings shrugged off any bizarre behaviors with, "Oh, that's just Jimmie being Jimmie."   

He writes that the only way possible for him to survive is to have a rigid routine and to never take on a job that requires long spans of attention.  She can (and has) watched eight movies in a row. 

During the Bush-Gore recount, things were extremely tense, but otherwise they seem to consider political work as just a job and why discuss it at home?  "A plumber doesn't want to come home and want to fix the toilet," is one of his oft-quoted statements.

 It is an excellent memoir of the past 20 years and covers Clinton, Bush and Obama.  I'm only on page 201 and can hardly wait to get to Obama.  Some extremely interesting tidbits might pop up ...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Two Fruit Friends

(Quit laughing, T)  

They are Mr. Fig and Ms. Date and both can provide a new twist on some classical  combinations.

Example:  a "white" pizza (mozzarella/ricotta) with thick bacon chunks and splatterings of fig jam can make you sit up straight.  Tin Roof Bistro actually calls it Pig and Fig Pizza. 

Dates are agreeable to being split, pitted and stuffed with - oh, let's see - bleu cheese?  Bacon wrapped?  Maybe an almond with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar?

And then I read a recipe for "Date Ketchup."  Say what?  A woman wrote in to Bon Appetit looking for a recipe for spiced lamb sliders with date ketchup.  You can keep the lamb, spiced or not, and here's the ketchup* recipe.

1 T olive oil
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 cup ketchup (presumably tomato - they didn't bother to say)
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
11/2 cup pale lager (Longboard comes to mind)
2 T apple cider vinegar
Pepper to taste

heat the oil in a small sauce pan, sauté the onion until it begins to brown, then add everything else BUT the vinegar and stir as needed for 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the vinegar carefully.  Puree the whole thing in a blender and let cool. 

*""Ketchup" is defined as "A sauce made chiefly from tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and spices."  Yeah, I was wondering, too.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Free-er, Clearer - Nicer!

I'm looking at the changes that talented Tanja Price made on it.  The space looks a lot cleaner and clearer.

Big shout out to her. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Happy Birthday, Richie!

Today he woke up and was 73 instead of the 72 he was when he went to bed last night. 

His brother Charlie and his wife Rosalind are visiting their daughter et al from Long Island and will be in town for two weeks, extending the possibilities for celebrations to a quantum level. 

I don't consider having a birthday without at least seven solid days of celebrating.  And then two weeks in rehab the following Monday...

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Fathers Day

Good fathers rock!  Enjoy your special day. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

You Are (Still) Known By What You're Wearing

And it's been that way since Elizabethan times.  Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen, was certainly no demure young thing in the drawing room.  The style in the 1600s was:  if a woman showed bare arms or ankles, she was a harlot, a tramp AND a vixen.  Conversely exposing great swaths of bosom was perfectly okay.  Elizabeth's tits were greatly admired by the French ambassador who made note of them three times in his correspondence.

It wasn't just the dress style, it was the very fabric and color found in the material.  A descending list of fabrics from the most luxurious to what the poor people wore:  The rich - silk, velvet, satin, damask, taffeta, grosgrain (poor.)

Colors for dying were problematical as England then had very few dyes that would produce a deep enough tone.  Improving trade, due to better ships, imported various dyes.

How complicated is this?  "Kermes" are a parasitic insect that lives on evergreen oaks.  When the insect is pregnant (how can they tell?) it is killed with vinegar, dried in the sun and then slit open for the wormlike larva which in turn are rolled into balls called "grains" and then left to soak in water which becomes a crimson dye.  Hence the words "ingrained" for the process and "vermilion" for the color. 

There was no identifiable "style" back then because due to their explorations, the British were exposed to Spanish, French, German and Dutch styles and a finished gown could trace bits of its look to that variety of countries.  "Hodge podge" might describe it ...

And here in America we are just as easily grouped as to wealth and/or prestige.  Right now at our gym, the mad lust for Day-Glo-colored sneakers is fading.  In the '50s "baby doll" pajamas were de rigeur for slumber parties because the boys would be peering through the cellar windows.

Having a big butt seems to be among the in things these days.  It is widely rumored in the less intellectually-driven  periodicals that personage Kim Kardashian West has been getting botox shots in that location.  I think she's gone too far - it's become grotesque.  Guys, most beds are amply and deeply cushioned.  You don't need the girl that way, too.  Overkill. 

Elizabethan facts from "The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England"

Friday, June 13, 2014

Do You Suffer From Triskaidekaphobia?

Don't worry - fear of the number 13 isn't usually contagious.  Today IS Friday the 13th and curious about the origins of this "terror," I went looking.

There wasn't even Friday the 13th fear until 1869 when Rossini died on that day.  Improved news circulation insured that (eventually admittedly) every one was whispering, "Poor Rossini, he died on Friday the 13th!"

"Twelve" is considered the "good" number - the months in a year, hours in a day, tribes of Israel, years of the Buddhist year and zodiac signs to name only a few. 

Fridays in general have been considered bad luck since the Canterbury Tales came out.  No one started a journey or got married on a Friday because in medieval times, Fridays were also the Hangman's day to go to work.  In France, when extremely annoyed, one will yell, "Merde a la puissance treize."  English:  shit to the 13th power!

Today the airlines claim no fewer passengers on Friday the 13th, but the police say that there are fewer accidents.   Superstitious people stay home, but consider the fact that most accidents occur IN the home.

Happily there's only one this year and today is it. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014


An unfamiliar word to anyone under 40, but it means to receive a piece of mail and respond to it by typing a response, addressing an envelope, sealing said response in the envelope, putting proper postage on the envelope and putting the envelope in a mail box.  I know, unnecessarily complicated when you can just e someone with a few keystrokes.   But you would miss the opportunity to be obnoxious in a dignified way. 

Food & Wine
P O Box
Des Plaines, IL

Please Be Advised

I did not order this book; your firm sent it to me on spec.  Not wanting the book, I promptly returned it to Food and Wine Books.

Am not about to pay (1) for something I did not order or (2) $38 for a re-hash of recipes in previous issues.

Do not trouble me about this matter again.  If you decide to pursue it, know now that I will never pay it and, further, I will have to take certain steps.

Nina Murphy

AARP Medicare Rx Preferred
P O Box
Hot Springs, AR

Ref.: Member ID

Dear Sirs:

Please cancel the above policy.

I have paid your premiums (which I believe started at $18/month) for some years.  I am now paying $50.10 per month for absolutely nothing.

The last straw was when I received a letter informing me that I am no longer eligible for a non-generic drug -- for which your firm has never paid in the first place!

Faced with that kind of gall, I can only react by withdrawing my (tepid) support.  Expect no further payments from me as they will not be forthcoming.

Nina Murphy

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The 24-Hour Fitness Gym and Twilight Zone

The above are definitely connected.  Let us exam this row of portraits that once were seen at the gym and then mysteriously ... never again.

The Bejeweled Tattooed Lady - I noticed her just after we'd started at the gym seven years ago.  She was probably 5 ft. 6 in. and 80 lbs. with  purple fade long hair.  The top was lavender, darkening to purple at the ends.  Bracelets cascaded down both skinny arms and a series of 10 to 20 bead necklaces rested on her bony chest.  She was somewhere between 80 and 100 years old and her body language told me she was not best pleased with the staff trainer.  The beach is not Hollywierd and to say she stood out is major understatement. 

The Gangsta Rapper's Get-Ups - He liked the end of the row of the stair-climbers, near his lounging posse on the exercise mats.  He seemed genial enough in his bandana or "do-rag," baggy t-shirt and shorts nearly down to his trainers -- all of these articles were bright, Day-Glo orange.  As he ran the stairs full out (despite wearing about 40 lbs. of gold necklaces,) his shorts flapped at the legs and I could swear he was also wearing lacy, thigh-high hose.

Didn't We See Her at the Poopdeck?  I had just come into the ladies' locker room when another person barreled past me.  For a nanosecond I thought I'd walked into the wrong locker room, but then I realized it was just a very big girl.  She was wearing sneakers, shorts and a t-shirt.  She had to be at least 6 ft. 5 in. tall and in perfect shape - just bigger than everyone else in the gym (men included.) 

I didn't want to stare so I didn't but I'd swear that Richie, "D" and I had seen her one holiday weekend visiting with the bouncer at the Poopdeck who was just as tall as she was.  We were treated to the sight of these two Goliaths standing back to back trying to measure who was the taller.  It was a tie (despite conflicting opinions of the bar customers.)  That established, she laughed and went on her merry way up The Strand. 

The Widow - Exiting the lobby, I held the door to the parking lot open for another lady.  She was short, probably 5 ft. 3 in. and somewhat overweight (by about 30 lbs.) with thick, snow white hair and deep facial wrinkles. 

Conversationally, she said, "I don't know why I put myself through the gym only to go home to an empty house.  I lost my husband May 19th - and it isn't easy."  Startled by this personal revelation, I quickly thumbed my way through a mental file of "What to say now?" and softly said, "I'm sorry for your loss..."

"Thank you, dear," she said and rambled on for a few steps until I had to turn right and she went to the left to her car.  This happened two days ago and I haven't seen her since. 

The good news in the disappearances -- innocent or not -- from the gym is that I haven't seen the enormously fat woman wearing a scarlet thong, back to me, bent over drying her feet.  Believe me, no one wants to see that!  I thought my eyeballs would catch fire and I'd never see again.

Monday, June 9, 2014

At the Library

I went so you don't have to go -- five books. 

"How About Never - Is Never Good for You?  by Bob Mankoff   Henry Holt & co.   285 pages   $32.50

Mankoff estimates that the New Yorker magazine has published some 78,000 cartoons in the 20 years before he became the cartoon editor and that 14,000 of them were his.  I've always loved the New Yorker cartoons so how to submit, how to get in were both interesting to me. 

 In olden times, the cartoonist put about 10 cartoons in his portfolio and hied himself to the editor's office.  Today?  Probably via the internet. 
"The Woman Who Walked Into Doors" by Roddy Doyle  Viking   226 pages   $22.95

I'd just finished Doyle's "The Gut" and liked it.  This title intrigued me so I brought it home.  Unfortunately it's a coming of age of an Irish woman named Paula Spencer and as such it's unreadable to me.   I hate "coming of age" as a theme.  You did it - everyone else did it - Next!  So the book goes back today.
"The Baby Boom; How It Got That Way" by P.J. O'Rourke   Atlantic Monthly Press   263 pages   $25

There are an estimated 75 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964 and I am not one of them.  Therefore, their doings are of no interest to me.  Back today.
"The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England" by Ian Mortimer  Viking   393 pages   $27.95

This looks quite promising -- notable people of the time were Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake - but the book concerns itself with the ordinary people and their fields of interest such as food, clothing, shelter, sex, medicine (such as it was) - the bits of daily lives.  Looking forward to it.
Mandatory Trash Read:  "Spelling It Like It Is"  by Tori Spelling and some other lady   Gallery Books  302 pages of All About Wonderful Me!  $26

You may remember I recently read her mother's book about her 70,000 sq. ft. house interspersed with nasty remarks about her daughter.  So I thought "Fair play" when I saw this one.  

They both deserve each other. 

Saturday, June 7, 2014

What They Were Doing

What with Memorial Day followed rather abruptly by the big 70th D-Day celebrations, the public's interest is focused on patriotism which is as it should be -- VA scandal and L'Affaire Bergdah anyone?

I reviewed Carl Sferrazza Anthony's book "First Ladies" previously, but I also said I'd get back to it.  We're back.

Anthony very cleverly keeps us abreast of times in the White House by telling us what the former and someday First Ladies were doing at the incumbent's time.  For example: 

World War II   Mamie is the First Lady and Ike is in Europe.  Edith Wilson, Woodrow's widow, joined her at Red Cross events.  Pat Nixon was newly arrived in Washington after urging Richard to become a part of the Office of Price Administration where she also worked.  A lack of servants at Hammersmith Farm meant the Jackie Bouvier had to pick up the slack by gardening, learning housekeeping and doing the cooking for friends.  No more "Cook we'll be 12 at lunch today."

Harry Truman desegregated the Army but Jackie Bouvier resented that her school, Farmington, did not accept blacks or Jews.  Rosalynn Carter was appalled at the difference in schooling in the South  when a young black girl asked her for homework help.  Betty Bloomer (hadn't married Gerald yet) was nicknamed "The Martha Graham of Grand Rapids" and ran a dance group, ignoring any "color line."

I liked this spotlight on a group portrait.  Perspective is all. 

Friday, June 6, 2014

We're Here Because They Were There

With genuine gratitude to all of our veterans - of any war or skirmish whatsoever.

Side note:  Apparently God doesn't strike people down with lightning (or anything else) because there was President Barack Hussein Obama on Omaha beach in Normandy today.  

I can lose my fear and go forth!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Miz Fix-It Is In

I don't want to break my elbow patting myself on the back, BUT:  I have had a sensational idea that will end all of this fussing back and forth between American citizens and illegal aliens.  The simple brilliance of this idea stuns even me, who had it.

But, no!  you cry.  How can this be?

I propose that the United States buy Mexico.  If we did that there would be no border and everyone could just stay where they are and not have to pack up and move, take the kids out of school and so forth.

Mexico should go for it; they don't have any money which is the reason so many of them come here.

If this proves to be un-doable (I sense that Cancun would be reluctant) how about we offer to rent a 200 mile strip into Mexico?  It's not "getting rid of the border" but it damned well would make it more difficult and time-consuming to enter the U.S.

Genius, right?  (Hold your applause)

Now onto other, smaller matters.

"Relish" magazine encourages us to cut deviled eggs in half horizontally and then packing them in "a clean egg carton."  I have never seen a clean egg carton; they are always made of grey, rough-textured cardboard which would be impossible to wash as one would a dish.  Don't do it.  

The dinner fork is apparently handier than a pocket in a shirt.  In addition to cleaning shrimp, you can now slip the tines carefully into a taco shell which will hold the shell steady while you use both hands to fill it.  

Did you know?  A strawberry huller can remove the "eyes" from a fresh pineapple?  

I hate using fresh cilantro because the recipe always says "discard the stems" and I don't have the patience to stand there and strip the leaves off of the stems.  This suggested method isn't much better, but at least it's a novelty.  Take your colander, insert the stems in the holes and then cut them off and you'll have a colander full of cilantro leaves.    

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Overcome: Fear of Faux Lobster Lumpia

Yesterday we stopped in at Fish Shop for lunch.  I was in a very good mood, having ravaged and looted Talbot's for a pair of white pants and a killer navy blue dress.  The occasional foray into Shopping Warrior mode is good.

And, high on the thought of myself in my new killer navy dress, I decided that even if the lobster was  hake, well, hell, it wouldn't kill me.  I might have the added pleasure of rubbing the defective dish into the waitress' hair!  Whee!

Speaking of whom, they don't have wait service there.  They have "runners."  After you have stood in line, given your order and been given a number for the table top, you find one to your liking and sit until he/she runs the food out to you.  Usually, they bring a paper napkin-rolled knife and fork.  You've already gotten your own water.  The cashier handles the beer and wine servings.  Perhaps the runner is a bit of a dipsomaniac? 

She was different.  The uniform is a dark shirt and decent-length shorts.  The legs of the shorts ended about 3 in. below her pudendum and were longer in the back; not cheeky at all.

But:  descending from underneath the back leg's hem were two large, tattooed cherries and green stems, for all of the world as if she was wearing a garter belt beneath her shorts - minus the stockings. 

What could the shorts possibly be hiding in the way of the rest of the tattoo?  Speculation occupied me until the food arrived.

The lobster lumpia were crisp, halved on the diagonal  and the dipping sauce was very good - spicy and sweet.  The lumpia wrapper held rice, seasonings and presumably the pinky-grey bits were lobster.  I'd order it again.  But not the onion rings - the beer-battered variety which are puffy and filled with grease.  The ranch dressing served with them was milky rather than creamy.

Richie ordered the large grilled shrimp taco which came with a cabbage slaw and not all that much chopped shrimp.  Richie later speculated that they use one big prawn - for 10 tacos. 

The tab came to $23.98 and covered:  two lumpia, onion rings, one grilled shrimp taco, one Stella and a glass of water for me. 


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Callifornia Direct Primary Election - Today!

I read the sample ballot carefully, marked my choices and will take the sample to the polls with me. 

In my perusal, I noted that all eight of the people running for the position of State Senator are Democrats!   That doesn't seem fair somehow.  We DO have other parties -- American Independent (I think they're armed) or the Greens and dear old Peace and Freedom.  I think Gov. Jerry Brown secretly leads them.

We really should try to be as patriotic as Chicago -- did you know their dead vote there?

Surely our illegal aliens can do as well?  We've got hell's own amount of them ...

Monday, June 2, 2014

Computer Fun

H/T to Mike of the Mountains, who sent me a list of computer programs to amuse.  None of them are vital to our lives,, but it amuses me to see how creative people can be and how many things  are clearly someone's work who had oceans of time on their hands.   

Account Killer - Promises to take you completely off of social media sites such as Face Book, etc. instead of the site just putting you in storage.  Since I'm not on any social media, it's of no value to me.

Date to Date Calculator - Now this was handy.  If you go from April 25, 1940, to June 16, 1941, as I did, you will find that I am 417 days older than Richie or one year, one month and 22 days.  I needed to know that.   Make your own comic strip.  Site owners believe it to be addictive, but I didn't even try it; too used to working with words alone.

Ripe Track - type in a fruit or vegetable and up will pop a bar graph showing you in color (green, yellow, pink) where the item is in seasonal age.

Two Foods Instant Food Comparison - wavering between a donut (incidentally this Friday is National Donut Day) or a banana?  Type the two words in and sit back.  But I think we all know that a banana is better for you than a donut so this site is kind of ... unnecessary.

Online Etymology Dictionary - Now this site would be not only interesting to me but useful, too.   I rarely use Roget's Thesaurus; don't need to flip through the French-English dictionary that often (Michelle, you never write!) but words - just for themselves - do interest me.     

You are now free to go exploring.  Every day that we learn something is a good day.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Art at the Beach

The beach cities do have an interest in the arts although given our bicycles and flip flops, laid-back style you might never suspect it.  Art shows don't exactly abound except for such stalwarts as the Malaga Cove weekend outdoor painting exhibits which are held one weekend a month through the summer.  Hermosa Beach has an annual Art Walk, again outdoors in the area surrounding the Community Center.

An artist friend alerted me to something of a gala that is coming up and it is this:

Organically At Your Best, a spa, is having a potpourri of attractions on Sunday, June 8th from 1 to 4 p.m.  The spa is located at 830 Torrance Boulevard, Redondo Beach  (310) 540-1543

Four prominent local artists' will be there with representations of their style and ready explanations for it.  There will be free refreshments and snacks, a drawing for an expensive spa package and quite possibly live music.

Be sure to see Lerri Peterson's art; we are lucky enough to have one of her paintings and we love it. 

I like the idea of combining  beauty types:  personally or on a canvas.   Kind of kooky to have an art show at a spa gala, but then again ... think about it.   Innies and outies.