Thursday, March 31, 2016

Who Wore It Best?

Ob-gyn's office

Who Wore It Best? Farmers Market



Clever girl!  She grabbed the carrots on her own!

Miguel and unknown old lady

Who Wore It Best? Thurs. Writers


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

At Thurs. Writers

Thurs. Writers at work and play and our weekly view of the ocean and Pier

Monday, March 28, 2016

From Irritant to (tah dah!) Saving the Day

Richie collects little miniature cars, trucks, and so forth including ambulances, police cars, various fire trucks and semis that detach from one another.

They are all over the desk top in the living room.  I would like to see them all "collected" in a large box (to accommodate all of them) and said box stored somewhere such as in the garage or under the house.  It's not like he plays with them.

But:  they have turned out to be a life saver when it comes to entertaining little kids!  Ella, 5, and Jack, 3, go nuts for them!  They set up roads for these vehicles and more than that, they parked them correctly - police and paramedics and fire engines are all together.  I thought that was very smart indeed, not surprising as they are smart and beautifully mannered as well.  "Nina, may we play with ____________?"

I am, today, actually rather grateful to have them.  It makes the kids happy to come see us! 

Yes, of course, they have toys at home!  Don't start up some kind of "Toys for Tots."

What They Ate

In the Yorkshire Dales -
Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding
Roast and Mashed Potatoes
Cabbage   Carrots
Dessert:  Eton Mess*
Cheeseboard and Grapes
North of Chicago -
Deviled Eggs     Bruschetta
Ham      Salmon
Scalloped Potatoes
Asparagus Gruyere Tart
Peas   Carrots
Asian Pear Salad
Assorted Small Pastries

Redondo Beach (with comments by the chef)
Deviled Eggs   Crab Langostine Rangoon   Shrimp Toasts  (we have a new toaster oven; I didn't set it right and the shrimp were cold on a warm shell)

Ham and Pineapple Dressing
Green Bean Casserole
Mashed Honey-Butter-Jalapeno Sweet Potatoes (used the "juice" from a jar of jalapeno slices - not spicy at all - honey elbowed it out of the way.)

Dessert - Assorted small "cake bites" and vari-flavored macaroons
Savory Course - no one wanted any more to eat, but I was ready anyhow - Carambazola cheese, cashews, candied pecans. salt and pepper crackers.

* Eton Mess - This is served in a tall glass and consists of crushed meringue, raspberries and heavy cream.  Am not sure "heavy cream" exists in the U.S.  

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter!


If this is a holiday you celebrate.  If not,  apologies for being politically incorrect (something of a hobby of mine.) 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Easter Fun

I ribbon-tied an empty Easter basket to our front door with this message: " This basket for diets."

Andes Crème de Menthe after-dinner mints are great for twist-apart plastic eggs.  They fit inside easily; they're difficult for little fingers to unwrap and thus there's a cutback on the dread Sugar Overload Syndrome! 

I am working on a photo project, using a hat with bunny ears.  So far have shots of:  the Thurs. writers; two nurses at the ob/gyn offices, vendors at the HB Farmer's Market and after Sunday, our Easter guests wearing it.

Am torn between "Who Wore It Better?" and "(All Sing!)  In your Easter bonnet .. with rabbit ears upon it ..." as captions. 


Friday, March 25, 2016

In the Easter Basket Grass...

IS it ham what am?
I Googled a lot to try to discover what is the meat most people served at Easter because I've always thought that ham was it. I was bewildered when one of the people I asked said, "Prime roast beef."

Come to find out lamb is popular!  Not around here (our table) but other places.  Except for an Italian market in San Pedro which annually advertises baby lamb, whole, for this holiday I've only seen ham mentioned.

This is a real find for ham-sters such as myself - If you have a Ralph's card (local supermarket) a half ham sells for $11.39 and this is gospel because I bought one - spiral-sliced, honey-baked 'n all.  For $11.39. 

This is probably about all it's worth for this reason - spiral slices end approx. 5 in. or more below the hock or bone and is inedible unless you make soup.  I tried making split pea soup with leftover ham once, but during the mandatory overnight soaking of the peas - they grew a nasty froth on top.  Toss!  Something about the sea level here.  

So much for prying into what's on other people's dinner tables.    

Traditional Favorites
 A cousin of mine always makes Pineapple Dressing to go with her ham and the recipe is from her daughter's husband's mother.  It would never have entered my mind to make a "dressing" to go with a ham (?!) but now it would never enter my mind not to make it.

Jean Clark's Pineapple Dressing
1.2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs - original recipe says 4, but 2 works just fine
5 cups diced white sandwich bread
1 20 oz. can crushed pineapple
pinch of ginger or allspice or both

Cream the butter and sugar together, beat in the eggs
Toss in the bread cubes, mixing as you go
Add the crush pineapple and mix again
Bake at 350 until the top browns and a chopstick inserted in the middle comes out clean

Astute chefs - aren't you all? -- will recognize this as a version of bread pudding. 

My sister, a far more elegant creature than I will ever be, serves this take on a (very) pedestrian version that I love.

Fresh green beans, steamed, sautéed in butter with sliced fresh mushrooms and finished with toasted almonds. 

2 cans drained green beans (French cut or not)
1 can mushroom soup
lashings of white pepper
Mix and bake or stove top it until it's hot; serve with an open can of Durkee's fried onions for individual garnish.  If you cook the onion straws with the dish, they get soggy.  Be glad if you have leftover onion strings - great snack!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

This'n That

Ah, the Wonderful Dignity of Today's Presidential Candidates
The Donald and The Cruz for starters.  Cruz ran a photo of Trump's wife in the altogether; Trump countered with headshots of his wife and Ted's and guess who didn't look pretty?

I have to wonder what Bess Truman, Mamie Eisenhower and Eleanor  Roosevelt might be saying if they can see this ...spectacle. Any one of them in a bathing suit let alone in a birthday suit would drop honest citizens in their tracks. 

Meanwhile, President Obama is photographed dancing the tango with a very fit professional dancer in Argentina, having just visited Havana with his wife, her mother and the couple's daughters' for Spring Break. 

One Jar, Two Recipes
You will need a jar of any brand Alfredo Sauce.

Version #1
Saute a strip of bacon, drain and crunch or a bunch of diced pancetta along with some chopped onion.  Drain off the grease, throw in the Alfredo and let simmer.
Toss a handful of frozen peas with the cooking pasta, drain and add sauce.  Toss well and serve.

Version #2
Chop up some roasted garlic cloves, chop up some Balsamic-marinated mushrooms, add Alfredo and microwave.  Serve over the cooked pasta of your choice.

These are not particularly "gourmet" but they are quick and Version #2 is sort of different.

Headline Doubles
This morning's Daily Breeze has a good laugh in it - a JetBlue flight attendant panicked at a check point, ripped off her heels and fled, leaving behind something like 68 lbs. of cocaine.  This story is at the top of the page.

At the bottom is another (!) JetBlue headline - the airline is opening service to Reno-Tahoe for $59 per ticket. 

"Fly High!  Fly JetBlue!  Low fares limited time only."


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A Belated Coming-of-Age Story

"Go Set A Watchman" by Harper Lee   Harper   278 pages   $27.99

When the book came out, many of the reviews were negative due largely to the subject matter which was (loosely) racism in the South.  Ever'body was agin' it, to save you some time.

Jean Louise (Scout) Finch has returned to her home town for a visit; she now lives in New York.  She is at the time of this book 26.

She grew up with an older brother, her father Atticus and the black housekeeper Calpurnia.  During this visit, she attends a local citizens council whose guest speaker is a rabid anti-Negro racist.  Appalled, she watches her father listen to this nutcase.  Her father's law practice often helped blacks with deeds, wills, minor disputes and here he is actually listening to this trash?

Appalled, she slinks away, vowing to go back to NY in a New York minute and to never return.The entire town and all in it would no longer exist for her nor would she for them. 

The ensuing conversation between Scout and Atticus is not the climax of the book; her conversation with Atticus' brother Jack is.

Despite a rather 'round robin of disapproval by critics at the book, I liked it. This, Lee's first book, provides engaging pre-shadowing of the characters in "To Kill a Mockingbird" - brother Jem (bossy) and neighbor Dill (fey) and Calpurnia as the mother figure, but not.  It's a quick read and I recommend it even if the characters do go on a bit about slavery, etc.   

Monday, March 21, 2016

How Come?

Noticing a photo of Obama and Castro "reviewing the troops" made me wonder - why is one of a visiting dignitaries first duties to review the host countries armed forces?  This does not strike me as ... particularly welcoming.  In fact, downright sinister comes to mind. 

Spring Cleaning aka Ka-ching! Season

Home maintenance is important to both of us.  Richie's dad built spec houses on Long Island (bought the land, the blueprints, materials, built the house and sold it) and from his dad he learned the importance of maintenance.  This is definitely not a case of the shoemaker's children running around barefoot. 

The wood trim on the second floor of the house, facing the street, is showing the effects of our weather - the paint is peeling and I wanted to have it scraped and re-painted.  Richie said, "The whole house gets painted - there's no point in fixing the wood only to have to paint a year or two later."  And then the more I studied the wood trim, the more I wanted it gone with just a smooth surface facing the street. 

The contractor gave us the bid to tear out the wood and re-stucco (they call it "lath, scratch, brown and color coat" whatever all of that is) and it seems okay to me ($5,225) given the fact that I have no idea what so ever on what it should or could cost.  I know their work lasts. 

I am waiting for the painting contractor to get back to me with a bid for painting the house, washing the upstairs walls and painting a bannister to match a wall.

Then the contractor and the painter get to arrange a schedule whereby perhaps the painters start at the back of the house while the contractors work on the house front.   Their problem and, as they are all sensible adults, am sure they will work it all out.  If not, I will happily pass amongst them - I LOVE to wrangle with contractors. 

Meanwhile, yesterday I'd stuck a couple of slices of leftover pizza in the microwave when it gave a kind of loud shuddering groan and the power went out.  Done for.

We already knew that the convection toaster oven was taking longer and longer to toast an English muffin.  Time for a new one.

So today's Big Adventure is going to Sears for a toaster oven and a microwave.  Coffee pot? you ask?  Got the back-up Mr. Coffee in its shiny box, ready to roll.

The Spring cleaning part is wiping off where all of the appliances used to sit.  I think I can handle it.

Note to apartment dwellers:  stay where you are - toilet leaks?  garbage disposal dies?  This is how you fix these messy little problems - "Hello, Manager?"  Absorb the above as a warning.  When you own the house, there ain't no manager - you're it. 

Later that same day...The Sears' Lady told us that today's young people have no idea what a "toaster oven" is - "The just put their Pop tarts in the microwave..." she said rather sadly.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Easy Huevos Rancheros

Richie was in the mood for a Mexican breakfast - last night!  Plan Ahead is his motto and mentally I did a run-through on what's on hand to make his dream come true.

With no further ado --
take a tortilla, dot it with cheese (Velveeta spreads well) and plop in the microwave.  Leave it.

Open a jar or can of Enchilada Sauce and pour about 1/2 in. deep in a skillet and heat until bubbling.  You can also add chopped green onions and/or pickled jalapeno slices as well.

Break an egg or two into the sauce, cover with a lid and poach the raw eggs in the sauce.

Just before the eggs are ready, nuke the tortilla for 30 seconds, plate it and cover with the sauce and eggs.

Set out the salsa and guacamole (Sam's Int'l Market) and have at'em. 

Saturday, March 19, 2016

An El Cheapo Easter or Minimal Disposable Income Easter

After the initial excitement of "A store where everything in it is 99 Cents!" faded (rather quickly) we rarely if ever went back to it.  Oddly enough, the last time was several years ago when I bought broad brimmed straw hats in bright colors (traffic cone orange; neon pink and black) for the females at our Easter dinner.   I still have mine (black) and am saving it for Palm Springs or Cabo.

That was then.  Yesterday I remembered that I wanted to buy plastic eggs for the kids' Easter egg hunt in our back yard.  The terrain is rather challenging  - aka Vietnam West - so I will be spectating (and laughing) from the balcony above it. 

Toward that end I remembered the 99 Cents store and off we trundled.  I bought a couple of bags of plastic eggs and a box of Peeps and four decorative (read: sequined) eggs on thin sticks.  The idea is to "plant" them and let people think you are "growing" eggs despite the fact that they most closely resemble unfurled tulips.  They will look nicely realistic stuck in with the hydrangeas that are just coming up in the window box. 

The Peeps presented something of a moral dilemma for me.  I wanted them as a historic and classic Easter treat, but I didn't want anyone to eat one.  Huh? you ask?  I have noted that much of the goods at the 99 Cent store are Made in China and we all know what that means - a healthy dose (oxymoron) ((ha ha)) of whatever poisonous powder was popular the day they were made.  Still ...

This morning I examined their box and discovered that yellow chick Peeps are made in Bethlehem, PA.   How innocuous is that?

Further reading disclosed that they originated in 1953 when a Russian immigre named Sam Born bought the Rudda candy company and began making them almost daily..  When he had a fresh batch, he would put out a sign that read "Just Born" referring to the "chicks" and people would come in for them. 

Not content to sit on the nest for long, in 1995 lavender and blue colors were introduced and from 1999 to 2002 additional flavors (strawberry, vanilla, chocolate) were added and the product line extended to lip balm, nail polish and Halloween costumes. 

 I was glad to see the Traditional Yellow Peeps again.  I look forward to introducing them to the three kids (5, 3, 1) who will be joining their parents for Easter lunch here.  I am going to squat down (or if this isn't possible, sit in a chair) hand each child a Peeps, relate a brief history of them and then instruct them, "First you bite the head off..."  Ah, Easter traditions - they never get old, do they?

Friday, March 18, 2016

When the Title is Damned Near As Long As the Book

"Before I Forget - Love, Hope, Help, and Acceptance in Our Fight Against Alzheimer's" by B. Smith and Dan Gasby with Michael Shnayerson,  Foreward by Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D
Harmony Books   319 pages   $25

B. Smith, 66 of Long Island, is a former model, restaurateur, lifestyle guru, author and celebrity chef who was diagnosed as having Alzheimer's in 2012.

She and her husband Dan Gasby have been married for 23 years. 

The book, written largely by the husband, is a running account of B's losses, medical information (every 67 seconds, someone is diagnosed with it, but whether this is US-only or worldwide was not stated) helpful ideas for primary care givers - "Be patient"  "Divert to a new subject or outing" as well as progress (slim) and the need for funding research  rather than money for diabetes, cardiac problems and cancer.    

I read it for the help tips.  Here was a statistic that amused me - if you live to be 85, half of you and your fellow 85-ers will develop Alzheimer's.  I myself will be 85 in 10 years time and we'll see if I'm laughing then ...

Based on what I have read in this and other books, the biggest jimp for a caregiver is this:  the afflicted person looks the same.  Because they don't look "different" one tends to forget that they are now very different indeed.  That, I think, is the biggest and most difficult hurdle to overcome.   

It was an interesting read.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Three Leafed Clovers


In honor of this annual Great Occasion, we watched "The Quiet Man" with John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara last night.  It was made in 1952 when TECHNICOLOR! was apparently still new (and garish.) 

The magic had vanished and the tarnish on the screen was vividly apparent to all.  John Wayne just walks around being John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara does a splendid version of a startled doe - face shows horror, feet take flight.  We mostly saw the back of her, speeding away across the fields and through the hedge rows.  I estimate she lost a good 10 lbs. shooting this movie due to the almost incessant running she did.  Not an Oscar appearance unless running was suddenly a contributing factor. 

Tonight's excitement is "Waking Ned Devine" made 46 years later (1998) and I remember it as reasonably funny.   At least it concerns itself with a new plot line - winning lottery ticket causes heart attack; machinations by the locals to profit. 

Several of the Thurs. Writers have vowed to reunite after our regular meeting to hoist a glass or a soup spoon (the Pitcher House serves food as well as drink and their chicken tortilla soup got raves last time we met there) to dear ould St. Paddy, may the Good Lord bless his heart.

I think he's earned praise all these long years because he ran the snakes out of Ireland and for that alone, he should be revered. 

OT  I told Richie yesterday that if he dies a natural death, I am going to deserve a reward for  Hugely Restrained Murderous Rage.  This may be a common remark among the marrieds; only you and your spouse know; as am not conducting a survey.  Lock away the cutlery and have a great ST. PATRICK'S DAY!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Traffic Light Safety for Kids and Dogs

The other day, we were stopped at the traffic light of a busy intersection.  Nothing new there.  But as we waited for several women pushing baby carriages and a couple of guys with dogs on leashes to pass,  I noticed something.

All of the baby buggies were being pushed in front of their mothers and all of the dogs were 5 to 8 ft. in front of their owners.  Dogs and kids would be hit first.

One car running a red light is all it takes ...why don't mothers pull some kind of cart with the kid in it?  Why don't dog owners teach their dogs "Heel!"? and mean it?

Psychology reasoned that mothers want to see their babies, so they push the carriage.  Dog owners just aren't thinking.

Your dog and your kid will get hit first.  Presumably they are the things you love the most.  Why put them at risk every single time you cross the street? 

Why don't mothers stop, stoop,  pick up and carry the kid across the street?  Push the empty carriage in front or tow it along behind.  But keep your baby close.  The stores are full of new and used prams, but they don't sell babies. 

Dog owners with unruly dogs, work with the dog so that every time you approach the crosswalk, your dog automatically goes to your left side and stays there while you both cross the street? 

Another thing ... People my age (born right after the last dinosaur died) were taught (with force in some places) to look both ways before you started to cross a street.  Today, every day that we are out and about, I see men and women blithely stepping off of a curb without looking left, right or to see whether it's their light.  They just assume.  The only way too be safe around these idiots is to very carefully look around yourself to make sure none have just launched themselves out into the street without a care in their head or so much as a glance left and right. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Whinging or Whining? Same Difference

Whinging is BritSpeak and we all know what whining is here in America.   So you can pick the epithet that should be applied to me this morning.

First off, getting up in the dark is NOT my idea of when the day should begin.  If there was a reason to get up in the dark, I probably would bound out of bed with a grin and purpose in my stride, gimpy though it is.    Good reasons would include:  someone is coming to see us;  we're going to go see someone.  Or Palm Springs is finally hot enough to make a visit worthwhile.  Or we have to catch a plane.

Furthermore, adding insult to injury, it was not only dark at 6:30 a.m.  but when it did get a little light, it was overcast and rainy looking.  We even had a brief shower to further bring down the humor. 

And why is all of the above detrimental to good humor, love thy neighbor, and hearty, wakeful zest?  Because of Daylight Savings Time.  I wish to God whoever decides these things - and who is it anyhow? - would make up their presumably-collective minds and leave the time the hell alone.   Either way - I don't care; all of us are adjustable and well able to cope with the minor details of our lives.  (Note I said "minor.")

Still, under the operating rule that it can always be worse, think of the poor bastards that live in or near Laughlin - the Colorado River divides Nevada from Arizona and there is an hour difference between Laughlin, NV, and Bullhead City, AZ,  every day of the year.  After a long time of making appointments on the Other Side, or being on time for work every day, I think you would be about half insane.  And that's enough to make you whinge.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

"Meh," I Shrugged - "You Can't Win 'em All"

The Daily Breeze "Question of the Week"  for February 16th was "Could You Vote for a Socialist?"

Not surprisingly, I had thoughts on that and wrote to tell them (editors) so.  Nothing happened.  They never ran me.  And I looked faithfully every day.  Nada.  Zip.  "Well ... if that's the way they want to be...they can't run me every time I write in...

By the way looking for myself was no hardship at all as I read the Letters column every day.  It is a great tool for sensing the mood and/or whims of the local public.  I recommend it heartily.

But, hark!   Today - March 13, 2016 - they ran me.

Socialism kills incentive to create new products

Socialism kills entrepreneurship.

Why would anyone want to half-kill themselves bringing out a new product or service so that the government could profit from it?

Nina Murphy

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Bo Derek?! Jakov Smirnoff?!

(Love interbangs and rarely get to use them.)

The above were on Nancy Reagan's guest list for her funeral and they were there along with both Lyndon and Lady Bird's daughters and Caroline Kennedy.

Mr. T accepted his invitation and showed up via a side door wearing full camouflage, combat boots and an American flag wrapped around his head.  Whether this was a visual reminder to "Just Say No" to drugs or because he is crazier than betting a NASCAR race is unknown to this writer.

So detailed were many of the accounts that I read  that you will be  interested (or not) to learn that Mrs. Reagan's coffin was made by the Marsellus Casket Co., of Syracus, NY.  They previously boxed up her husband, Ronnie. 

Reading further, I ran across a long list of notables that Marsellus (founded in 1872) provided with burial boxes.  The do have a certain reputation for dealing with presidents and wives, i.e.:
Harry and Bess Truman
John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy
Now both Reagans

Other notables - Arthur Ashe, Vince Lombardi, Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Leonard Bernstein. 

Whether any of the above ever had buyer's remorse will never be known. 


Our friend "Dee" e'd this morning to explain the math error I made in yesterday's column about the Euro vs. the Dollar.  I should have divided, not multiplied...  others have frequently reminded me to stick to words and leave the math to those with some knowledge of it.  My apologies if anyone rushed out to buy Euros ...

Friday, March 11, 2016

A Very Good Deal

The Hotel Ibis, Le Chesnay, is a four minute walk to Michelle's house and that's where we wanted to stay.  It's 10 minutes to the H bus which takes one to the Rive Droit commuter train station and on into the Gare du Nord.  We'd do that if we were going into Paris, but we're not. 

Non merci a Paris ces fois.  No thank you to Paris this time. 

Michelle e'd this morning to say that she'd negotiated a good price at the Ibis (not to be confused with ISIS) and it was:

955 Euros for 8 nights with breakfast.  That is 119.37 Euro per night or $106 American per night.  The exchange rate today is $1 = .89 Euros. 

France is not expensive as it used to be - start saving your pennies.  We did. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Dry Your Tears Downton Abbey Mourners

Proving once again that this column will go to no end to provide readers with succor in times of trouble,  we present a book that will (no doubt) continue your obsession with Great Britain Once Upon a Time.

"Rose: My Life in Service; Recollections of Life in One of England's Grandest Households by the Personal Maid to Nancy, Lady Astor" by Rosina Harrison   Viking Press   237 pages   $8.95

Rosina was a self-described Yorkshire lass and as such, wasn't apt to take a lot of (or any) guff from others.  She met her alter ego in Nancy, Lady Astor, who was equally strong-willed in addition to being something of a dictatorial bitch.  The entire household (more than 40 indoor servants and many more working outdoors in the gardens and stables,  quailed and hid as much as they could from her biting tongue.  Her usual response to Rosina was "Shut up, Rose!"  And that was when she was in a good mood!

Rosina was born in 1899 and died, age 90, in 1989.  Lady Astor was born May 19, 1879 -- interestingly enough husband Waldorf Astoria was born on the same day and year -- she died in 1964.  Rosina began working for her in 1929 and was still toiling for her 35 years later when Nancy died. 

Rosina had a good eye for details and ably describes the various houses the family owned, Cliveden, 25 miles from London, being the most frequent weekend destination. There the ladies changed clothes no less than five times per day, depending on the activity planned.  Ladies maids had to present a spotless riding attire the next morning after the rider came home covered in mud and brambles the day before.   Cleaning tips were eagerly shared.   

 Further, she gives penetrating looks at life among the servants and their hierarchy.  She says she had no interest in Nancy's politics or friends as the class distinction between them was too vast.  Instead, this is a recounting of life working for Astor.

She had tremendous responsibilities, among them being handed a 5-page list of the jewels Astor owned along with a precise description of each.  It was her job to keep track of them as Nancy had a bad habit of misplacing them and then accusing a servant.  Astor and her daughter routinely traveled with 20 pieces of luggage and expected Rosina to never lose any of them.  She never "lost so much as a ribbon" says Rosina.. 

All in all, it's a riveting account of life behind the green baize curtain and I am enjoying it hugely even though I only watched one episode of Downton Abbey.   Another book you enthusiasts might like is The Little Princesses by "Crawfie," nurse to the then-Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

We Don't Have to Die to Go to Paris

Peggy, of Zen Travel, really went to bat for us big time.  Our seats are not only already paid for due to our first go around, but:  we get a $600 refund as the prices have changed since then.

We did have to change dates - I wanted to leave April 2nd so that I could say, "One year ago today, I broke my hip - and look at me now!"  But such selfish foolishness would have cost about $4,000 more.

Peggy pointed out that at this time of year, the Spring Breakers are loose in the airports of this and many foreign lands.  Air France, for example, was charging $1,000 to go Coach to Paris -- and $5,000 for a Coach ticket home.  (Suck in breath, then gasp because flights were sold out!!!)

We leave on a Monday on AF 65 which departs LAX at 3:25 p.m. and lands at CDG Tuesday at 11:15 a.m.  (time change - it's still a 12 hour flight.)

The following Monday, we linger until 7"10 p.m. when AF 76 departs for LAX, landing at 9:40 p.m.

So -- today we see the accountant for our taxes, to be paid before departure.  I have to call the credit card company and get the chip; call Verizon and tell them the smart phone is going to Paris, ask the catsitter if she can come in ...

Am not going to fuss about wardrobe; we are instantly recognizable as "Americans" - the French seem to be born chic.  And us not.  Tant pis!  We're going to France!

Monday, March 7, 2016

"It Was a Dark and Stormy Night ..."

In Redondo Beach?!  We don't do stormy here - although, of course, we do do dark.  Our winter dark starts about 4 p.m. and it is not unusual at all to see the mailman's head-mounted flashlight bouncing down the street as he faithfully delivers the mail.  .    

Our adventure began around 5 p.m. when the wind rose up and smacked the trees below us around.  I almost understood seasickness as I watched the trees whipping back and forth.  I have a great seat for wild weather - across from the balcony where the tree tops are just visible above the balcony railing.  There is a fan palm tree top that is virtually hypnotizing. 

Normally any storms we have are merely cells passing over and after an initial rat-a-tat on the skylight, they are quickly gone.

Not so this morning.  Richie was coming up the stairs when there was a tremendous clap of thunder and Minuit nearly took him out flying down the stairs at warp speed to get under the bed.  Time passed as he turned the coffee on and then went out to get the papers.  Halfway back up the stairs, repeat scene - BOOM! THUNDER CLAP!  Cat racing down the stairs like a runaway freight train, tail streaming out behind her. 

It's been an electrifying morning here (and it's only 8:52 a.m.)  I just glanced over my shoulder and Minuit is having a drink of water out in the kitchen.  Or ... refueling?... I hope not.  Richie's not as young as he used to be and being charged by a 12 lb. cat is the equivalent of the Pamplona chased by the bulls scenario. 

But the storm is gone and the skies are clearing.  Maybe the wind-tossed tree dancers will be back late this afternoon, but that's easy to live with and enjoyable to look up and see.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Today At Spanish Class

Today I distinguished myself with this --  we are each given a card with a sentence in Spanish on it.  We are to read the card aloud in Spanish and then, again in Spanish, respond to whatever the hell it said.

Vives en un piso O en una casa?
You live in an apt. or a house?

Yo vives en una casa grande - mi papi esta un jefe de los drogues.
I live in a great big house; my Daddy is a drug lord.

These classes take place the first Saturday of each month.  Anyone want to make book that I'll be kicked out by June, if not sooner?

Friday, March 4, 2016

I WILL Go To Paris - Dead or Alive

We have been trying to get there since June of last year.  Two?  Three? times we've had to cancel; I can't even remember any more. 

But this time we are going even if one of us is dead (more airplane food for the living.)

This is what I'm considering.  The dead one is dressed in street clothes, with a bulky winter coat, put in the transporter wheelchair with a baseball hat pulled down over the face (to hide closed, dead eyes) and when the survivor hands over the passports, his/her line is, "Please, he/she's finally sleeping!  I thought the sleeping pill would never take affect!  Please don't wake him/her up!"  (And good luck with waking a dead person anyhow." )

The survivor will brush aside a flight attendant's offers of assistance - "Oh, no, thank you but if he/she wakes  up with a strange face staring down at him/her, she/he will freak out.  This illness has caused ... some unfortunate dependency issues ..." which should take care of that. 

To guarantee first off of the plane at CDG, the survivor will ask for help - "OMG!  I thought he/she was just sleeping!" as the plane begins its descent into CDG.    

At that point, the dead one can be transported straight from the Triple 7 to the crematory; the survivor can go on to enjoy their vacation and the airline can sell the now empty seat to someone else for the return flight home.  Don't hope for a refund on the ticket.  The French are too frugal for that kind of nicety. 

 The loser's box of ashes will just have to fly via US Postal Service.  But it's not like they'd want any champagne...Being dead and all ...


Thursday, March 3, 2016

St. Ignatius of Loyola, 1491 - 1556

Every now and then I run across a phrase or a thought - or thought fragment - that intrigues or amuses or makes me think a little bit.  This poem is an example and I ran across it in a Penny Vincenza novel where it was used as a part of a funeral service. 

Lord, teach me to be generous
Teach me to serve you as you deserve
To give and not count the cost
To fight and not heed the wounds
To toil and not seek for rest
To labor and not ask for reward
Save that of knowing that I do your will. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Letters to the Editor

Daily Breeze - 3/2/16

Only color Hollywood cares about is the color of money

Dear Sirs:

What's all this talk of black and white at the Oscars?  Hollywood only knows one color - green.

Richie Murphy