Tuesday, May 31, 2016

O Tempora O Mores II

Many of us have known the bliss of winter snow activities ... when rosy and flushed and maybe shivering slightly, we came into the house or resort or other shelter for a warming cup of cocoa with or without a marshmallow bobbing lazily on the top.  Hot, sweet, refreshing and then energized to go right back out and do it all again.

Times have certainly changed.

In today's Daily Mail there is an article on the newest club craze in Europe.  People, the article claims, now go to clubs and snort ..... cocoa powder!

Promoters of this bizarre activity claim that snorting cocoa provides an endorphin rush, the epicatechin widens the blood vessels and the magnesium relaxes muscles.  Clubs that look benignly on this practice do not serve alcohol nor allow other, uh, snortables on to the premises.

Comments' writers pointed out that snorting cocoa could give new meaning to the phrase "to brown nose" while others worried about coating their lungs and sinuses with chocolate and the ensuing difficulties thereon with breathing.  One wrote "I guarantee you a trip to the ER." 

I thought so, too.  Call me Old-Fashioned, but I'll have my chocolate in a cup or a candy bar.  As for the mentions by commentators on the efficacy of candy bars as suppositories  - that didn't appeal at all.   Europe can have their new fad.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Visualize This ...

A poster depicting the river and skyline of Chicago with this caption:   Chicago! 
                                  America's largest outdoor shooting range!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Tidbits Too Small to be Seen by the Human Eye

The roar of the grease paint... except today it will be the roar of race car engines through the house what with the Indy 500 and the NASCAR 600.  There is always a show-off who drives both of them; very dramatically being choppered to a private jet and wheels up!

I never covered either (as a freelance photographer) - my bragging rights are saved for Formula 1 at Bandol, France.  At least you get good food there.

So this blonde walks in to an airport...
"Raffish" our adopted nephew (Ladies - he's a medical doctor who is teaching doctorate-level human anatomy with a black belt, 3rd dan in karate and he's single - contact the writer for further details) flew to Okinawa for 10 days of karate training at a well-known dojo.

He lives in San Diego and has better flight choices out of LAX so he drives up and leaves his car in our driveway. 

Last night he was due in on a China Eastern flight.  Excitedly I tracked his flight and the posted arrival times which changed faster than a stock ticker.  I suffer from an obscure syndrome called "Must Be On Time" so as you can imagine I was all atwitter. 

The plane landed, I waited patiently (for me) and finally decided to call him since he had to be on the ground. 

The phone rang, a distracted voice kept yelling, "Who? Who?" and when we got that straightened out, I said, "So you must be on the ground by now - " and he said, "Huh?"  Figuring he'd had some major brain damage during training, I said, "Where are you?" (an attempt to see if he was oriented times four.)  "Here - in Okinawa." 

"OMG" I screamed, 'Hang up!  This will cost a fortune!"  He laughed.  We sorted it out (as diamond- encrusted phone minutes clicked by.)  He'd forgotten that he left on the 28th and (much like flights to Europe from here) landed the 29th. 

He'll call us when he's on the ground tonight.  Not last night.

This Worked Out Okay ...
We had leftover chicken cutlets so I made Chicken Divan the easy way.  Saute the chicken in butter in a skillet until it's done; add chopped deli ham (Black Forest in this case) and shredded Swiss cheese.  Put a lid on the pan, turn off the burner and wait until the cheese melts and serve.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Memorial Day

There are some conflicting stories about who exactly was responsible for the first Memorial Day which was called Decoration Day in 1868.  Some accounts have pinned it to some Union soldiers who first decorated war dead graves in Decatur, IL.  Others point to the popularity of the custom after Abraham Lincoln's assassination in 1865.  The Confederate War offered many choices for burial and subsequent decoration as it cost 600,000 soldiers' lives. 

There are two great racing events on the Sunday before the Monday remembrance.  The Indy 500 started in 1911, followed not so quickly by the NASCAR 600 in 1961.  In fact, Memorial Day wasn't an official (pompous throat clearing) holiday until 1971.
This polite confusion (ladies at 10 paces with folded, pointy umbrellas) simply points out the truth of the adage "Success has many fathers; failure is an orphan." 

The proper flag treatment is to raise it at dawn (or whenever you get up) and immediately lower it to half past.  At noon, go out and raise it to the top as usual. 

We are not very far from a cemetery and during this weekend I like to drive past it and see all of the flags.  It is not a military cemetery, but every grave gets a flag or so it appears.  The tiny flags, waving gaily, are such a contrast to the reason that they are there that it can cause deep reflection on wars and there sometimes dubious necessity. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Going to New York? Take Your Own Salt

.There's an article in WeaselZippers.us today on the disputed ban in New York on labeling fast foods with the amount of salt they contain.  The new regulations call for the addition of little salt shaker images on the menu or, presumably, the wrappers of said foods.  The number of salt shakers shown depends on the amount OVER the daily minimum requirement contained therein.

This is a  pet idea of Mayor Bill de Blasio and it is being hotly contested by the National Restaurant Association which is adamantly "aginst."  This foolishness has reached all the way to the highest court in New York State where it is currently being debated. 

Another hotly-contested food law that went to the high court  was former Mayor Bloomberg's ban on Big Gulps.  He wanted them limited to 32 oz.? rather than the 64-oz. then available.  Bloomberg's head was so far in the clouds on this one that it clearly never dawned on him that you could buy two at a time.  It did to whoever was on the bench and it was roundly rejected. 

Not sure who is the genius behind this one, but a pack of NY cigarettes now costs $12.50.  That's per pack, not per carton.  This price includes a $4.35 state tax and a $1.60 sales tax.  I paid $45 for a carton yesterday at Redondo Tobacco.

Now that all of you gentle readers are now frothing at the mouth at the incivility of NY laws toward any kind of fun -- forgot to mention this - it's no longer punishable by fine to urinate on a NY sidewalk.  Which you do have to admit ends all of this troubling nonsense about which bathroom for what sex.    Just whip it out and pee on the street of your current location. 

The commentators on the salt article had a lot of fun. 
"Gotta meet my salt connection - wanna split a nickel bag?"

Are we going to start getting frisked for salt shakers as we go into a restaurant?

We should be desalinizing the oceans - all of that salt can't be good for sea life.

Waiters could tell nervous diners, "Oh, the salt shaker?  It identifies as pepper."

It's okay to pee on the street, but not salt your food?  WTF?!

Welcome to the People's Republic of Gotham!  (Got any salt on ya?)

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

THIS Will Set the Cat Among the Pigeons...

ICE has okayed the construction of the Prairieland Detention Center in Alvarado, TX, at a projected cost of $42 million.  Said construction will require 100 new jobs/workers for completion.

Alvarado is 26 miles south of Ft. Worth and is considered a nice bedroom community for both Ft. Worth and Dallas.

In 2000, the population was 81% white; 7% black, 18% Mexican.  Average salary was $31,000 against  home valuation of $83,000.    Married people average 52%; those with children under 18 37.59%.

Construction of the Prairieland Detention Center is expected to be completed in November, 2016, and will consist of 700 beds with a 36 bed entirely separate section for the illegal immigrant transgenders and their special needs

If you're not already roaring at the thought of a transgender illegal alien special center, perhaps these can bring a smile...

A husband and wife were driving somewhere new and the wife kept saying, "We're lost!  Why won't you stop and ask for directions?!  We're LOST, I tell you!" to which the husband replied through gritted teeth, "We.Are.Not.Lost.  We are merely at an undisclosed location." 

Another couple, another story.  I sweet-talked the painting crew to install the new solar-powered motion detector light on the garage roof.   They obligingly did. 

The only problem is that we don't know if it works or not - we're not up late enough to go and see!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bigamist Marries 8th Tree - HindustanTimes

A Peruvian environmentalist activist named Richard Torres married a 1,000 year old tree in Oaxaca in May, 2016.  The ceremony, according to onlookers, was colorful.  A photo showed a gnarly-looking tree with a bridal veil twisted around it.  Presumably this meant that the tree was, in fact, a virgin.

Torres, also an actor, seems to have forged something of a second career by traveling to various locations and marrying trees.  This was his 8th venture down the aisle with a tree. Or rather, up to a tree.    Previous marriages to trees have been neither annulled nor has any tree divorced him as far as is now known. 

The Comments to this article prove once again the willingness of American citizens to work together in a creative way.  Herewith I give you a sample:

"We'll call our first child 'Cord.'"

"Someone remind me why we're fighting the people that want to throw these assholes off of rooftops?"

"I was in a sexual relationship with a tree ... it was 100% heterosexual, but the tree cheated on me with the gardener."

"What a birch!"

"Thank yew." 

Monday, May 23, 2016

The Swiss Army Knife of the Dinner Table

The Swiss Army Knife is famed for the many uses it has and there are so many choices - with or without little tiny scissors ... tweezers or not ... my favorite accessory is a little tiny ivory-looking toothpick.  I like to visualize someone using it (preferably with a big, bushy beard.)  It would look like the user for reasons known only to himself is sticking a whole wad of metal in his mouth.  I am using the male here as women do not use toothpicks in public and very few of us use them in private.  Trust me, I have researched this and we all know I am rarely wrong and of course, when I am I never admit it.

This is far afield from the dinner table.  (Slight error) 

A dear friend down in Texas sent me a recipe for a dish so versatile that you can make meat balls or meatloaf or stuffed peppers with it.  If that's not handy, there are few things that are. 

Hamburger to fit how much you want to make - I think most of a pound would do it ...
1 egg
1/3 cup of catsup
1 cup oatmeal
1 medium onion, chopped and sautéed

Mix together thoroughly and shape for end product.

1/2 cup catsup
1/4 cup vinegar
chopped onion
1 T dry mustard
3 T brown sugar
1 cup water

Boil together until sauce is the consistency you want it. 

Y'all hurry back, y'hear?  We're having stuffed peppers tomorrow night.

Saturday, May 21, 2016


Huh?  New type of haiku?  A code of some kind?  Word association?  Nope, none of the above. 

The painters finished painting the house yesterday.  The walls are "Daisy,"   a cheery shade of yellow and the trim is "Calypso," a deeper, brighter blue green.  The upstairs bathroom will be painted "Passive," a very neutral shade of gray. 

Going through the paint samples fan, I wasn't paying much attention to the colors but when I had to tell the paint contractor what I wanted, I did.  When you find yourself seriously telling another person, "Yes, the Passive - 136-2C" you will begin to wonder if you sound as big a fool as you seem to yourself.

Curious I went to shermanwilliams.com (two of the three painters were wearing Sherwin Williams t-shirts so the logical deduction was our color choices were for their paints.)

What a treasure trove of colors - better still divided into what was popular when, going all the way back to the 1830s!   Here's one from the 1880s - "Bunglehouse Blue." 

The 1980s were defined as "The Mauving of America" featuring mauve, blue and gray.  "Favorite Jeans" was one of the choices. 

In the '50s, pink and turquoise appliances were hot (but all I can remember is avocado green and a kind of dull yellow.)  The colors that accessorized were Pink Flamingo and Classic French Gray, in case you're thinking of going retro.

The copywriters at Sherwin Williams ran with the ball and some extremely fervid prose.  Sample for "Latin Zest." " Latin Zest encourages you to feel the sun on your face, the earth under your feet and the scent of rain forest on the breeze."

To which I might add:  "And the peyote running amok through your system." 

Of no real interest to anyone but me:  the above is the 2,500th blog I've written for a so-far total of 79,383 page views.  Thank you all!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Vending Machines - From Holy Water to Used Schoolgirl Panties

H/T to Yutaka, one of five visitors to Thurs. Writers yesterday.  The group are ESL students and their teacher thought it would give them confidence to write and read aloud short pieces about their country of origin.  Yutaka said that there are 5.52 million vending machines in Japan and that triggered this.

A man named Hero of Alexandria invented a vending machine in the 1st century.  The buyer inserted a coin into the machine; the coin weight pressed down on a lever that released a small amount of holy water into a container.  Vending matters apparently stalled thereafter (communications being what they were in those days) and it wasn't until 1883 in London that one Percival Everitt re-invented them to dispense stamps, postcards in post offices and railway stations.   

In 1888 the Thomas Adams Gum Company began using vending machines to dispense chewing gum.

Japan - the entire country - now leads the rest of us in Variety of Products Available From A Vending Machine.  To name only a few - noodle meals, bread in a can, umbrellas, neckties, batteries, cigarettes and beer.  There is a vending machine for every 23 residents. 

There is one more item that seems to have become more of an urban legend than a viable product for sale and that is used ladies panties.  They were a major item of interest to visiting foreigners.  To be on the safe side perhaps, in 2004 the Japanese government issued a series of laws forbidding this practice but with little wrist taps rather than the mandatory five year sentence for child porn found in the U.S.

Canny manufacturers today sell roughed up underpants (think "distressed denim") and in Japanese the label informs the buyer that they are manufactured and not garnered from young Japanese ladies desperate for an allowance infusion. 

And I couldn't make this up.  Go to Wikipedia.com and reassure yourself that I didn't.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Something New (to me) in Mexican Food

Since we were in the neighborhood and it was noon, we slipped into Rubio's on Sepulveda in Manhattan Beach.  It's a chain so you may have one near you ...

I ordered the taco with cheese, bacon and grilled shrimp in a sort of chipotle-mayonnaise sauce.  Okay, you say - nothing new about that.

Ah, but:  the construction goes like this:

Take a smallish corn tortilla and put it in a skillet with vegetable oil;  pick it up and cover the raw side with a white, vaguely sour-ish cheese - cotillo? and put it cheese-side down back into the frying pan.  It will brown up nicely.  Put it on a plate, cheese side up.

Cover the cheesed side in sauce, add cooked, chopped thick bacon and the grilled shrimp
Kind of bend the taco over to shelter the filling and serve.

I ate the shrimp and bacon and then peeled off the browned cheese, rolled it into a fat cigar and ate it. 

Maybe a little time consuming, but with a modest amount of prep work, it's just  a question of assemblage. 

Letters to the Editor

The Daily Breeze asked readers the other day "Who's your pick for a third-party candidate?"  Today they ran the replies that came from all over - La Verne, Glendora, Hawthorne, Chatsworth -- and one lone entry from Redondo Beach. 

Dear Sirs:

My choice would be Alfred E. Neuman of the "What?  Me Worry?" Party.

Richie Murphy

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Surcease in Difficult Times - The Dagwood Bumstead Sandwich!

It is ill-advised to comfort one's self with food.  In a modest effort to keep myself from sinking onto the couch with a pint of Ben & Jerry's Cherries Garcia, I've gotten into inventing sandwiches for myself.   I think of it as "doing a Dagwood," the beloved comic character, famous for building skyscraper-high sandwiches.

Dagwood needed consolation ... from heir to the Bumstead Locomotive company to disinherited when he married a flapper named Blondie Boopadoop.  This was back in the '30s and so at that time began the popularity of Boars Head meats which had been founded in Brooklyn  in 1905 by one Frank Brunkhorst.  The 5th generation of Brunkhorsts runs it today, but HQ are now in Sarasota, FL.

 One of Dagwood's creations was listed - 1.5 lbs worth - and it consisted of:
Three slices of deli bread
Genoa salami
Lettuce, tomato, roasted red peppers, banana peppers, red onion, deli mustard and lo-fat mayonnaise.

I would consider the above sufficient to sate four guys watching a football game.  Mine is a more delicate appetite so I have been sampling various Boars Head products on a much smaller basis.
Some samples of my modest genius - note that all start with white sandwich bread, crusts trimmed.  The final step in my sandwich construction is to take the flat of your hand and smush the bread flat to match.  This makes for a nice thin sandwich that easily fits in the mouth.  And this is important - who wants to deal with a sandwich so thick that you can't get it in your mouth even if, much like a boa constrictor, we were able to unhinge our jaws? 

Sandwich bread, Horseradish sauce, blackened turkey, slice of cooked bacon
Sandwich bread, Black Forest ham, butter and Colman's mustard
Sandwich bread, Chipotle chicken, Chipotle mayo and a slice of cooked bacon.
Sandwich bread, mortadella, mayonnaise
Sandwich bread, chipotle chicken, sandwich pepperoni, Cajun mayo

The strip of cooked bacon comes from Trader Joe's and requires 20 seconds in the microwave. 
All sauces listed are also Boars Head (and quite tasty.  They aren't kidding around with the chipotle.)

Make yourself a sandwich, grab the potato chips or Fritos, pick up that good book and ignore news broadcasts.  You'll feel better.  And if you're still puckish, check the freezer for the Cherries Garcia...

Monday, May 16, 2016

Could You Pleeze Just SHUT Your Lingerie Drawer on Your Way Out?

I don't think of myself as a prude and I seriously doubt that anyone else does either.  However, I do have a limit as to whether or not I wanted to be harangued by sexual theories, first person stories, projections or personal anecdotes along the lines "When I discovered I was a (fill in otherness) on a daily basis.  Clearly SEX is the big topic in this news cycle.  Please, please pedal away ...

The following stories all appeared today - 5-16-16 - in such as the dailymail.co.uk, national newspapers and the front page of the LA Times.

LA Times front page: a story about a born boy, now aged 9, who prefers to present as a girl.  Okay, good for her.  According to her parents (who should be prosecuted for child endangerment for letting their kid tell her story in a national newspaper) she expressed this desire as early as age 3 or 4. 

As alarming as all of the above is (Gothic novel ideas present themselves) I found this more shocking.  Dr. Johanna Olson-Kennedy, medical director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development said that  doctors at the Childrens' Hospital, LA, saw about 40 transgender and 'gender non-conforming' youths a decade ago.  "Now, she says, "the center sees about 600 transgender patients between the ages of 3 (three) and 25" a year.  I don't think that little kids know or care which sex they are because, at least in an ideal world, kids less than 10 or 11 have no idea of what sex (in the adult sense) actually is.  Color me ignorant and old-fashioned.  But backed up by the expressed opinion by a medical doctor. 

"Successful Penis Transplant!" chirruped national newspapers.

One Thomas Manning, 64, of Halifax, underwent two days of surgeries (total 15 hours) at Mass General Hospital.  He said that he allowed the publicity to show other men that there is help for accident victims and cancer patients.    Good enough, but I don't think they had to include a picture of him in his hospital bed looking cheerful..  Can you picture it when he gets out of the hospital?  "Hey, show me yur new dick!" as he wends his way down the streets of Halifax. 

And, finally - and we were both wondering if there was one, right?

Germany in an attempt to welcome "immigrants" (not stated if illegal or not) has had the German Federal Centre for Health Education put up a Website that helpfully explains - among other things - that porn stars often have undergone breast and penis enlargement and tells the reader not to expect these after-market additions in real life.  Cost to German taxpayers?  94,775 Euros.   Cheap at twice the price if it prevents some poor immigrant from running, crying and disillusioned whimpering, "But, but - she was flat chested!"  from a sex scene, right?

If I had to blame it on someone - Bruce Jenner/Caitlin Jenner, stand up. 

Saturday, May 14, 2016

O tempora O mores Cicero 106 BC - 43 BC

1939 - 1945   World War 2

1955 - 1975  Viet Nam War

1990 - 1991  Gulf War

2016  - Bathroom Wars

Friday, May 13, 2016


Probable congested area:  anywhere near the Manhattan Beach Pier

Times involved:  8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Sunday

Reason:  the 4th annual Tour de Pier, attracting 1,500 riders and 4,000 spectators

Purpose:  to raise money for  the Hirschberg Foundation for Pancreatic Cancer Research, the Cancer Support Community, Redondo Beach and the Uncle Kory Foundation.  Goal is $1 million and as of this writing they are within $36,000 of reaching that goal

Amusing factor:  the contestants' 400 bikes are stationery bikes and no one is actually pedaling away to anywhere.   Each contestant has signed up for an hour's worth of exercise and (bicycle) seats are sold out. 

Event co-founder Lisa Manheim,  executive director of the Hirschberg Foundation, remarked, "It's not a rubber chicken black tie dinner, it's not an auction, it's so different to have 400 bikes parked facing the ocean ...there's so much energy around it matched with women riding who are without hair, men who are battling for the second or third time - it's that marriage of the good of everyone coming together."

Wish them all good luck and brunch at the Hermosa and Redondo Beach Piers.    

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Re the McCarran - Walter 1952 Immigration Act - Necessary Update

A fellow Thurs. Writer pointed out to me that both were Democrats.  Specifically:  Pat McCarran, Sen. (D) Nevada and Francis Walter, Congressman, (D) Pennsylvania. 

Settling the Immigration Issue

Of late (and before late) we have all become accustomed to the push me/pull you give and take of admission of others to this country.  A basic fact is:  if you take the time to enter this country legally, following all of the rules and regulations, you are literally home free and many of us remark that's exactly what our parents or grandparents did.  If, on the other hand you're in a hurry and crash the gates (so to speak) you are either vilified or adored, depending upon the observer. 

In the fire storm that is today's politics regarding the above, a little-known fact emerges.  And that is the 1952 Immigration, Naturalization and Nationality for Other Purposes Act aka the McCarren Walter Act. 

Specifically it was meant to exclude post WW2 and early Cold War (i.e. commies!) from living here.  These were the halcyon days of the Hollywood Black List, McCarthy hearings and sporadic hunting under the beds for Communists sporting events. 

Later it focused on denying those who were "unlawful, immoral, diseased in any way, or politically radical."  Those that were accepted were "willing and able to assimilate into US economic, social and political structures." 

Truman, a Democrat, vetoed it, but Congress passed it anyhow.  The Democrats have been against this "best way to preserve national security and national interests" ever since. 

By the way the McCarran and Walter who authored the bill are:  Sen. Pat McCarran (D) Nevada and Congressman Francis Walter, (D) Pennsylvania. 

Source:  UWB. edu or Google and take your pick.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Bacon Jam and Other Matters of National Importance

Bacon Jam  I spotted it at Trader Joe's New Items stand and having read about it in various food magazines and even seen recipes for making it (too lazy) and immediately put a jar in my cart.

I asked the checkout guy if he'd tried it and he said it was good on a bagel.  I speculated  that it might make a good cheese quesadilla and he agreed.  Arriving home, I toasted an English muffin and tried it.  Despite the fact that "cooked Applewood-smoked uncured bacon" was the first ingredient listed which means that's what there is the most of in any container I couldn't taste anything but a trace of bacon.  To be truthful, it tasted like fig jam.  Instead of fig seeds, the little black dots could be cinnamon or clove or dark brown  which were also listed.

However I think you could make a better one by frying up a bunch of bacon to "crisp" then crushing it and mixing the ensuing powder with honey and salt and pepper and a dot of Liquid Smoke.

COMMENT:  I also came to the same conclusion about the bacon jam; didn't like it at all.   Florida Lady

Beer Takes a Patriotic Turn
Anheuser Busch wants to change their Budweiser brand name to "America" and add silver script reading "Land of the free and home of the brave" to the label.   I wonder if this is a political nod to Donald Trump and his blue collar supporters or what?  If you know or find out, let me know.  Our usual bar choice is a Stella, but as a supportive American, what the hell, gimme a Bud.

Someone Got It Backward
Today's news includes the information that US Department of Justice employees cobbled together $75,000 as a donation to Hillary Clinton's campaign.  Given her dicey legal positions re Benghazi, unsecured e-mails, whatever, shouldn't it have been the other way around?

Looking for a secluded island hideaway?
Now on the market - the late Prince's Providenciales island home with 10 bedrooms, two beaches and  a purple-painted driveway.  $12 million.  Gaping tourists unlikely, but thanks to the photos and story in the Daily Mail, the purple driveway makes it a snap to be found.  Tour buses are undoubtedly revving up even as I type.   

Ah, they grow up so fast, don't they?
Tween magazine is taking some heat for the article they ran for 8 year olds -" Find the perfect bathing suit for your body type!"  Am not a pederast, but even a cursory glance would tell the casual onlooker that girls AND boys of that age look pretty much the same.  Flat, bony chests and poochy bellies. 


Monday, May 9, 2016

The War I Missed

This morning I feel like I was in one, yet I don't remember it ... strange, right?  I think it was all of the (unaccustomed) walking I did. 

The four of us got to the Fullerton Amtrak station in good time and boarded the train when it arrived.  Amtrak is vigilant about staying on time and as the stations progressed down the line to San Diego, we often heard (sample) "Next stop Solano Beach - 30 seconds to detrain."  "Thirty seconds!" I gasped in terror, wondering how I could get my languid ass off the train that quickly.  I am handicapped, you know, and have the parking sticker to prove it.

Richie had a word with the conductor and I got up to wait for the door opening.  Raffish was there, Richie handed me off and away the train pulled for their stop - Downtown. 

The Old Town station is a popular one and Raffish, not having a handicapped sticker of his own, had had to park not far from Carlsbad (a previous stop.)  Undeterred, feeling spry, I rejected (politely) his offer to go get the car and walked it.  Once there, after climbing the Matterhorn that is the passenger side of his Jeep, we paused so I could gratefully inhale a cigarette.  Finishing it, I field stripped it (because I hate to litter) and Raffish gently chided me, saying that a homeless person would have enjoyed the butt! 

Then followed a discussion of the vast number of those  as we roared off to the restaurant.  According to Raffish,  they're imported from other states due to San Diego's fine climate. 

Peohe's seated us at a choice outside table and we ordered drinks - a Moscow Mule which came in the traditional copper mug ($12) and a Bloody Mary ($10) for me.  The garnish looked like a salad - two blue-cheese stuffed olives and a whole, pickled okra plus a wedge of lime on the glass lip.  We enjoyed Maui onion rings ($9.50)  with chipotle catsup and a soy honey sauce as we admired the view.

He ordered the shaved prime rib poor boy $15) which came with shoestring fries and dipping gravy and I ordered Eggs Benedict ($15).  Our food arrived in due time and poking at mine, I noted that I'd never seen ham that looked like that - definitely pink, cut in little cubes. The bite I took didn't have ham texture either.  Puzzled, I showed it to Raffish who began laughing.  It was salmon!  And it is well known among my associates that I Don't Eat Fish.     

With near-perfect timing, our server showed up at the very moment of this unfortunate discovery  and asked solicitously if all was to our liking?  I gently told her what the difficulty with mine was   and she instantly volunteered to take it back, but as it was Mother's Day and they were doing a very good business, I declined, saying that the rest of the dish would be quite filling and anyhow we were splitting dessert (chocolate lava cake $12.) which was generously sized, with lots of liquid chocolate and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Unfortunately, the cake itself was very dry.  Nevertheless, it got gone in record time. 

To guard against the possibility of stomach distress, we shared a couple of splits of Zonin sparkling prosecco.   That and champagne are well- known as "Rich Man's Alka-Seltzer."

To Be Continued  - if one of us can find the receipt for the funky bar we went to afterward.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Road Trip!

We are going to San Diego and back today via train.  It leaves Fullerton at 9 a.m. and gets there at 11:30 a.m.

Richie and his mates "D" and Mouton are going to the Padres-Mets game; "Raffish" is picking me up at the station and we're going to lunch at Peohe's, a beautiful restaurant with a to-die-for view across the Bay to downtown and amazingly good food for a view restaurant. 

Who got the better deal?  You can ask?!

Saturday, May 7, 2016

We Aren't The Only Ones in the World That Phrase Ourselves Well

I had to look it up because I associate "Proverbs" with the Bible.

Proverb:  short, pithy, saying of a truth or piece of advice.
Similar: adage, saw, maxim, axiom, motto, bon mot. 

Call these what you will!

This just in from Readers Digest - "The axe forgets; the tree remembers."  African proverb
I particularly like the sinister tone of the above.

"The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on."  Arabic proverb

"Rooster, be not so proud;, you were once only an egg."  African proverb

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Cardiologist Gets His Close-Up

Richie had a routine appointment with his cardiologist and since he'd be told the results of a recent nuclear treadmill test and blood work, I went along.  This is not as unusual as it may sound -- his previous cardio (now retired) once remarked that he welcomes spouses since they know the patient much better and often are of diagnostic help.  I try to oblige..I snickered and said he'd gained 5 lbs. .

The addition to his office is a 36 in. touch-screen, hung vertically like an eye chart.  By pressing a finger tip to one of the many little pictures on this chart, he can blow up the image to readily-seen dimensions. 

An aorta some 1 x 2 ft. big is quite impressive.  With finger taps and pinches, the doctor can narrow and widen various arteries that feed the heart and heart muscle and add and subtract plaque(s.)  Very helpful and all of that, but I just hope my ob/gyn never gets one.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Mother$ Day

This Sunday is Mother's Day in the US.  The Arabic world (National Geographic didn't specify which countries) celebrates  March 21st, coinciding, generally speaking, with the arrival of Spring.
In Panama the date is December 8th to celebrate what the Catholic Church believes to be the Virgin Mary's birth.  In Thailand, the date celebrated is August 12th, the birthday of their Queen Sirikit whose rule began in 1956.  Born in 1932, she is now 83 years old.

The Brits celebrate Mothering Day with the intent of going to church at the "mother" church of your faith, instead of one's usual local parish.  This would seem to have empty parishes dotted here and there and bursting at the seams cathedrals or "mother churches."

Meanwhile, all over the world, celebrants will buy 133 million cards and spend an average of $162.94 per Mom.  In all, Mother's Day is a $19.9 billion (billion) holiday. 

From firsthand experience:  if you must go out to brunch/lunch on Mother's Day, book at least a week ahead of time.  Ports O Call (often mentioned in this column) is an example.  My friend, the ladies' room attendant, told me they serve 3,000 people that day.    This tidbit inadvertently caused a near-crisis on Father's Day.  "Raffish," Tony and we went there on what happened to be Father's Day. 

As we walked across the parking lot, the lads expressed concern that it was Father's Day and we didn't have reservations.  Blithely I assured them that "Oh, Father's Day is the biggest day in the year for collect calls to wish old Dads a happy day.  They don't get taken out for a meal."

Less than three minutes later, we were seated on towering stools in the bar, surrounded by a great many males.  Dads to a man.  Do the same for reservations for Father's Day.  You won't be sorry and you'll (probably) get a far-better table than we did.  The bar was also doing a gold rush business.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

February 1, 2004 - A Day of Infamy in France

That was the day that a new law came into effect - no smoking in hotel rooms, among other places.  This is hard news indeed for someone who loves a morning coffee, cigarette and the TV news. 

Previously we've encountered this situation in Marseilles (get a room with a balcony) and in London (get a room with a private patio.) 

The Ibis, Versailles-Parly 2 is no exception.  The fine if you're busted is something like 80 Euros.  And French landlords evidently live for that chance.  Our windows did open - approx. 3 in but... not worth the chance.  Generally speaking, the French are a very cruel race. 

When I asked plaintively at the front desk where one could actually light up, I was directed to a short hall, and  a left turn into the breakfast buffet space.  A big glass door there led to a very sizeable patio with tubs of trees.  A chimney ashtray rested in a corner of the porch. 

I perched quietly on a tree tub edge and thoughtfully regarded my surroundings.  Movement caught my eye as a small black cat came tentatively out of a low hedge, sat down and looked at me.  I nodded and continued to look around.  You have to ignore a cat; they can't stand not to be the center of attention.

Sure enough, after a couple of moments of scrutiny on her part, over she padded.  I extended a fist for her to sniff and then petted her a couple of times.  Cigarette done, so was I.  It was very cold out there.  She followed me to the door, but stopped short and sat down in the porch corner.

Her food bowls were empty and she began grooming herself, so I knew she'd been fed.  We became friends, largely I don't doubt because I would give her tiny pieces of cheese from the buffet. 

When we went to the supermarket (beer run) I hunted out the cat food section and bought her a tin of salmon (and a can of rabbit for our cats - I wanted to see their reaction.)

Back at Michelle's I tore a sheet of paper out of my note pad and wrote:  "A Mlle Ibis a votre amies en Amerique - Minuit, Fred et Rayon" (For Miss Ibis from your friends in America")  and taped it to the can.  When we got back to the hotel, I stopped at the desk to give it to the day manager. 

Who promptly went into a near fit of hysteria reassuring me that the hotel feeds the cat!  You would have thought I had insulted his mother or something.  He tore into a back cranny and re-emerged with two bags of dry food (each different) shaking them in each hand; ran back and returned with 6 or 8 cans of wet food.  Looking around furtively, he said, "We can't put the buffet slices of ham out again, so she gets them, too." 

I made an envious face and said,, "How spoiled!" and he said, proudly, "Ah, oui, Madame - she 'as a staff of four!"

Having to go outdoors to smoke was worth it. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Les Fermes De Gally.com

My favorite breed of chicken looks me over.  I am clearly not his favorite breed of human.

 This is the first and so far only time I ever had lunch in the middle of a nursery and garden supply company.  Les Fermes really is one-stop shopping - and, oh!  While you're here, have some lunch!

The restaurant is one of those "living room" places like some coffee houses here.  In this case, the dining room faces a large picture window, but you won't be seeing rolling hills and rushing rivers.  Behind this window is a flock of chickens (!) happily disporting themselves in a living room, too - complete with dining table, a lamp (shade somewhat streaked) and  everyone looked quite content.

The menu is rather limited - "Do you want potatoes or eggs?" Either choice involves cheese - such as batons of a very hard cheddar or melted raclette - or saucisson - prosciutto, ham or pate.  All of the egg dishes arrive boiled in the shell.  I've mentioned this in a previous bulletin.

The usual garden supplies take up a great deal of space ,- nearly  adult trees in pots, bags and bags of fertilizer, massive tables of potted flowers as do the cages of chickens and the odd rabbit - surely as a pet and not a future dinner?

There is a modest supermarket (home grown products) as well as a section where you can buy little hen houses for up to four chickens. 

It rained while we were there and hearing the pounding rain on the metal roof while standing in an aisle with chicken cages on one side and tables of blooming flowers on the other was ...bizarre to say the least.   Still and all, it's an experience not to miss.  Not-Fodor's recommends it.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Let the Thumping, Banging and Crashing Begin!

No, we're not holding a NASCAR race in our driveway.

The construction guys have arrived to demolish the '50s wood trim on the front of our house.  This area is directly above the garage roof and the other side of this house wall is our kitchen.  The cats are so far under the bed that it'd cost a hundred dollars to phone them. 

Since the house is stucco-finished, when they get the offending trim down and away, they will chicken wire, stucco, scratch and color match, collect the money due and vanish. 

Our neighbors, Ann and Jim, are in Hawaii enjoying a wedding anniversary and when they return on Friday, they will certainly be surprised at our house. 

And I was just this minute surprised myself - one of the guys hit the kitchen such a lick that the cabinet doors for the china popped open!  And that was with click-latch/child-proof doors!  (Necessary here in Earthquake Country)  The (heavy) Caphalon pots and pans on the rack above the stove were dancing! And clanging loudly.

This is too exciting to miss - headed out to the driveway.  After all, we're paying for this entertainment - and am considering charging them for the psychiatric care the cats are going to need.  The bird is fine - singing away. 

Oops - another cabinet door popped open ...happily it's just the plastic containers storage.

In a noteworthy error, Richie didn't get the car out of the garage before they came.  We are  prisoners.  But Fed Ex can get to us - send food!  Or better still, money.  You might send something we don't like to eat. 

JOKING.  We have everything we need.   

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Today is Labor Day - In France

It's not called "Labor Day" in English, but "La Fete du Travail" or the labor festival or perhaps "union party time!"  It's a day for union members, trade union members, etc. to march.  This is extremely unlike the French who are rather inclined to more indolent activities than marching.  For example, the famous cinq a sept (5 to 7) set aside for a married man to pay a call on his mistress, enjoy her company and then head home for a leisurely dinner and a nice visit with his wife and kids.

So this burst of marching and (even more tiring) waving big banners are really not the enthusiasms of the French public at large.

Interestingly enough, the inspiration for this celebration of labor (as long as little of it is actually done) comes from America - Chicago, to be specific.  Few could ever confuse Chicago for Paris.  On May 1, 1886, some 35,000 Chicago workers walked off of their respective jobs.   When that news finally reached France, many a wise old head nodded and the owner said, "Damn!  Wish I'd thought of that!"

The French could counter that giving family, friends and passers by a small sprig of Lilies of the Valley (mugeuts) is very definitely "French" since back in 1561, King Charles the IX was given a sprig of them and he thought it such a charming custom that every May 1st, he handed out mugeuts to the ladies.

We happened to fly into Paris on a May 1st and were extremely surprised to be handed a little nosegay of lilies of the valley as we walked out of Customs.  We thanked the givers profusely, of course, but for all we knew they could have meant "You're next on the guillotine."

Because today is Sunday, there is much grumbling in France today.  La Fete du Travail has cheated thousands out of either a 3-day weekend or a paid holiday.  Try not to land today at CDG - the natives are not in a good mood.   No one would wish to be beaten to death by bouquets of mugeuts.