Monday, December 31, 2018

Twas the Night Before the New Year

And all through the house, Richie was bidding a 2018 farewell to all.

To the cockatiel "Lady Bird:   This is the last morning I'll uncover you in 2018 …

To Fred the cat:   "This is the last morning I'll let you out on the balcony in 2018 …

To me, the wife:  "Ahhh,  this is the last cup of coffee I'll have in 2018."

And mildly irritated because I know this is just the start of a very long day, I said, "Honest to Gawd Richie, if you stepped on an ant, you'd want to have a funeral for it!"

I left him upstairs and came down to the office, knowing full well that he was looking for an ant to honor.   I doubt if he could find it in his heart to step on it though.  

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Green-ifying Cremation and the Mafia

In yet another thing we can do to (presumably) save the earth is commit to a water cremation while we're still around to do the paperwork.

The Mafia has been doing a sort of unofficial water cremation since the '20s.  It consists of committing the deceased as is to an endless dip in an ocean, river, lake or other suitable body of water. For variety they also practice letting Mother Nature have her way with the deceased in any handy forest or woods.

But the Greenies have refined the process - the deceased is contained in a steel pod with liquids for  alkaline hydrosis which destroys all flesh.   In as little as four hours the body is reduced to nice, clean bones which are then  ground into powder  which is then returned to the relatives.  The substance left is described as looking like ivory-colored powdered sugar.

The Mafia, having few chemists among themselves instead put the body not in a fancy steel pod but in an empty oil barrel or similar and fill up the spaces left with concrete.  Let set and get out the boat

I mention the above because in the news was the fact that outbound California Governor Moonbeam signed AB957 to do it.   Several other states have already okayed it.

Check out the 1973 movie "Soylent Green" if you want a real horror movie.   You may want to invest in a couple of oil barrels...

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Headline: Parachute Fails - Victor Vermillion Survives a 750-Foot Leap

Who is Victor Vermillion and why should you care?  He was my Dad.  My younger sister was going through old papers - a kind of New Year's thing to do - and she came across this news item.  I quote it below in it's entirety.

"Many folks around Yates Center, KS, will remember Victor Vermillion and his 750 ft. leap when his parachute failed to open.  Victor pulled off this thriller at Moline, KS, 14 years ago.   He is now employed at Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Corp., Kansas City, and the story leaked out at the plant through a friend.

The Wasp Nest, a magazine published by the Pratt and Whitney Co., published this story concerning Victor. (Ed. note - my Dad was always called Vic or Dick - his sisters used to make him crazy by calling him "Dicky Bird")

"The way Victor Vermillion of our Production Engineering staff looks at life, nothing can happen to him, no matter how painful or joyous, to destroy the inner tranquility of his soul.  This is no passing mood with him, either.  He's felt that way since June 29, 1930.  (So he was 26 and this article was written in 1944.)

A friend of his came around to see us the other day and said Vermillion went his way among his associate operation sheet writers, quiet and composed.  "Why," said the friend, "they didn't have an inkling that here was a man - the first man in history, so records say - who survived a 750 ft. leap when his parachute failed to open."

We looked up Vermillion, and sure enough, he is as placid as a cornfield in July.  He lost all tendency toward excitability, he said, at Moline, KS, 14 years ago when he pinch-jumped for a parachutist who failed to appear in the air circus he was serving as a pilot.  Vermillion began his jump at 1,500 ft. but he couldn't extricate until the 750 ft. mark.  Then his 'chute failed him.  We asked how it felt to fall that far?  "Just like you were falling 750 ft." Vermillion said reasonably.

"Had he hit in a lake or a feather bed?"
"In a cornfield," Vermillion said calmly.
"My God, man," we said, with considerable agitation.  "Weren't you hurt?"
"Broke every bone in my body," he replied thoughtfully. He pondered a minute and went on, "Of course later some bird out in California survived a malfunctioning parachute, too.  He fell into some telephone wires.  I imagine he's like me.  Nothing much exciting can ever happen to him again."  End of article.

Daddy like most males was never loathe to make a story just a leetle bit more interesting by embroidering a few of the details.  Such as:  He didn't break every bone in his body.  He did turn his rt. ankle and heel into "scrambled eggs" and a rt. thigh break in several places.  The doctors wanted to amputate, but I wouldn't let them.  Only my tailor knows that leg is 3/4 in. (me) " "a foot and a half" my sister.

He was in the hospital for a couple of months and "when I got out I weighed 120 lbs.  But I was still 6 ft. 1 in. tall - on the left leg."

"Placid as a cornfield in July"?  Hah!  He had a hair trigger quick temper, and five minutes later he wondered aloud what was wrong with you?  He'd made his complaint (vociferously), everything was clear; let's get on with it.

Thursday, December 27, 2018


Is Vladimar Putin Gay?

I'm beginning to believe he is (and there's  nothing wrong with that.)  In fact, I think an "openly gay" (stupid phrase) President of any country you want to claim would be perfectly fine.

As for my own suspicions ...we rarely get to see him wearing a shirt.  Granted that age 66, he does look to be in shape, Putsie, you might want to look into some quick breast removal surgery.  The arms look fine; cannot report on the state of whether he has legs or not; never seen them

And then today - the issuance of the Vladimir Putin Calendar of 2019!  Surely as happy a day in Russia as the Nouvelle Beaujolais arrival is in France.  O/T I've never understood why - it's a really shitty wine.  Acid, sour … Rise up Pinot Grigio!

Scenes from actual 2019 calendar photos show him: on a dock, gingerly holding up a biggish dead fish, the fish-holding arm holding it shows off his well turned arms.  The expression on his face defines repulsion.

In a swank ornate room, holding up a treat for a blond and white dog that is (on his back legs as tall as Putin.)  He owns three great big dogs.  Apparently the most photogenic got the photo opp.  

His annual private polar bear swim is faithfully documented.   He appears to be standing inside a sort of cattle pen with in the background  a trio of men in floor-length winter coats in case you miss the point  that IT'S COLD! out here!

The most entertaining shot was Putin riding a bear (yes, you read that right) in a forest with another bear in the somewhat distant tree line.  The bear looks comfortable and, of course, Putin is giving his usual stern expression.  As in, "Where I spit, no grass ever grows."

Curious as to what a normal day would be for him, I discovered that he stays up very, very late and doesn't get up until noon when he is served breakfast - varies from porridge or omelet with quail eggs and juice on the side.  His favorite ice cream flavor is pistachio.  Because it's a hard nut to crack just like him?  When he's finished, he has his coffee.

And then he might workout in his private gym (his workout clothing being a plain white t-shirt and a pair of track pants said to have cost $3,200 - clearly Target has not gone to Russia yet ) or swim for two hours (an aide says he gets his best ideas while swimming)  or he might schedule an ice hockey game with his bodyguards.  You think they give him as good as they get?  Not on your tintype.  Beat Putin and spend the rest of your life bragging about it from prison would be my guess.

What made me write this column was a shot of Putin and a younger (probably mid-30s) man toasting each other with raised coffee cups.  The look they're giving each other tells it all or did to me.  But Putin married Ludmilla in 1983 when he was 31 and divorced in 2014.  He has two or three daughters (no one has ever penetrated the steel curtain of privacy that he demands) to find out for sure.  Thus the guy in the photo of the toasting gents is NOT a son of his.     But clearly on very good terms indeed.  Good for Putsie!  Score for the home team!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Post-Christmas Report

In this morning's news:

Woman throws Christmas ham at dinner at home of woman in argument over dinner.

Woman throws Christmas tree at another one during argument Christmas Day dinner.

California marijuana sales five times greater over Christmas holiday say retailers.

It occurred to me that if ever marijuana was "needed" it would be at these two women's houses.  And no doubt other homes on Christmas Day.  Make a note for next year - be prepared!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Today - December 25th!

From a Couple who may
have lived in Southern California a leetle too long … 

Sunday, December 23, 2018

A New Discovery

And that would be a Website called   which sells t-shirts with witty sayings.

A sample:

Life is short; smile while you still have teeth.

In my defense, I was left unsupervised.

My billfold is like an onion, open it and I cry.

Three out of two people have trouble with fractions.

I've reached by sleep number - 6 - glasses of wine, that is.   

Saturday, December 22, 2018

"Oh, Er, No Thank You!"

That was me turning down an invitation to join Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and on down to Kate and Williams' sprogs.  Nothing against the pleasure of their company, but, uh, the dinner is, uh, less than appealing.

Post church lunch - starters of a shrimp or lobster salad, followed by roast turkey carved table side - no mention of stuffing or gravy - parsnips, carrots, Brussel sprouts topped off with a Christmas pudding and brandy butter.

With drinks though there is something of interest - Potted Shrimp, said to be a Royal favorite which is quietly amusing because it was Wallis Simpson's favorite cocktail tidbit.  I think we all know what the then royal family though of Wally.  Strumpet being the least of it …

This is her recipe - equal amounts butter and little bay shrimp mashed into a paste with a nutmeg sprinkle over and into the pot.  Chill until ready to be eaten on warm toast points.  In theory this melts the butter in the pot and adds richness to the whole thing.

But I don't fancy having to make an entire meal of an appetizer.  And if upon being welcomed it was noted that you had McDonald breath … heads might roll in this day and age again.  

Friday, December 21, 2018

Ah, the Mandatory Rites of Winter Are Here!

Some things happen every year … you can almost set your watch by them.  In no particular order …

Dire Weather Prognostications - Going to Florida?  There is a hurricane brewing in in Outer Mongolia and it will arrive on Christmas Eve!

Beddy Bys at the Airport of Your Choice!  Don't buy hard shell luggage!  You need a duffle for this.

Traffic Reporters - "We're expecting 17 trillion people, driving to Grandmas and another 32,000 driving from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas - bring plenty of water!  And snacks for the little ones.  Figure at least 10 days to get back across the border into the U.S.

And another old favorite - Henny Penny the sky is falling!  And the government will be shut down!  In 2013 to date has taken $24 billion out of the economy and 0.6 per cent off of the annualized 4th quarter of 2013 GDP growth.  That's not all a shutdown  shuts down.  Bill Clinton and The Intern Event That Will Not Die was one of them.

What I cannot understand is the poor financial planning that causes all of this fanfarod about the budget.  Graphic verbal pictures of starving babies, Santa, sleigh and reindeer sitting mournfully by the side of the road somewhere in Arkansas surrounded by sobbing toy manufacturers ... all because the government is or is going to be shutdown.

If we ran our personal finances in this slipshod manner … we would be in bankruptcy court or debtor's prison.

I vote that we shut down the idiots who keep passing unworkable finances the previous year. Yes, this removal of a counted-upon annual event will cause grief in certain circles, but it's time to do it.  

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Calendars For Dinosauers

In this case, "dinosaurs" are those of us who depend on paper and ink calendars for appointments, events and a list of the new year's upcoming birthdays.  Yes, I am well aware that these listings are easily posted to an app on your phone.  But what if the batteries die?.  Then what?


One of the great seasonal amusements to me is buying the next year's calendar in, say, November, but not touching it until January 1st of the new year.  Then I go through it, marking birthdays, doctor appointments made in the old year for the new year and using a fluorescent pink pen to mark the dates when I have to be somewhere.  At a glance, the pinked items pop out at you.  No excuses, Mabel.

The brick and board bookstores have always had a very good selection of calendar themes - not only dogs, but specific breeds of dogs!  Destinations - Paris, Tokyo - on and on.  You can pass ("waste" some say)  a half an hour poking through the selections on offer.

Some time ago, a movie came out called "Calendar Girls" about a village in England whose gardening club put out a calendar to raise money for medical treatments for a member's husband.  It became a sensation; the movie of the calendar (possible?) spawned  a play.  The ladies raked it in.

Richie who always pays attention when money is involved proposed that the South Bay Writers make a calendar of us!  The writers.  This is not a really good idea due largely to our ages and girth (yes, that was deliberate.)   I said, "Bless your heart" and turned my attention elsewhere.

Today is running Irish Farmer Calendars and they are delightfully whimsical.  This shot stands out in memory - an Irish farmer (their word; not mine) is on one knee in the middle of a rural road, fully clad, (note to the ladies - shirtless is as good as it gets.  Pity, too.  Some of them are quite fit looking.)  wearing a bright yellow-green vest, holding up a sign that reads "Stop" to assist a fat red hen picking it's way delicately across the road.

Proceeds from this 10 year long calendar event go to aid rural farmers.  Useful eye candy.  Rare in this old world.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Hey, Lucille! How Ya Been?

We haven't seen Lucille since somewhere in the '90s.  For one thing she moved farther south on Hawthorne Boulevard and got a face lift.  (She looks very nice with it, too.)

Back then, we'd heard about her and so we made her acquaintance with dinner one evening.  Somebody in her kitchen was not entirely "kosher" and during the night of that tasty dinner, we both displayed the signs of food poisoning. (you don't want to know) and consequently, we haven't seen her since until yesterday (12/18/2018) when we had lunch.

Richie hadn't wanted to do this; he has a long memory when it comes to food turning on him.  I pointed out that since the '90s, they'd probably had quite a few chefs and servers pass through her doors.

We were given a choice open-ended booth and the first thing to happen there was the delivery of a complimentary basket of buttermilk biscuits with a little cup of honey-Dijon mustard butter.   The biscuits were excellent - a hard exterior, covered lightly with sugar.  Honey-mustard butter was a new and very welcome addition.

Lucille's bar was open so I ordered a Bloody Mary and Richie a huge schooner of Lucille's Blond Draft.  $6 and $7.75 respectively.  I ordered a half order ($6.99) of onion straws to go with them which were not only as good as I remembered them, but must have been the harvest from several fields of onions.  In short a huge pile of them.  The three fat bottles of different bbq sauces of Lucille's design made great dipping sauces for them.

Richie ordered the Tri-Tip Plate with barbecue beans as his side ($15.75) and I the pulled pork sandwich on a potato bread bun ($10.99.)  Richie loves barbecue beans so I ordered that as my side to give him as, based on the plates, we would have dinner of the above as well.

His tri-tip was lean and thrifty looking - slices, no bun.  My pulled pork was a huge pile of it topped with her signature cole slaw.  Both of us were too full to do much more than ask for take-home boxes.  The price for all of this largesse?  $47.48.  Lunch for two and dinner for two - $12 per person per meal.

If you'd like to make Lucille's acquaintance, she's at 21540 Hawthorne Boulevard, Torrance  310-370-7427   Google for her extensive menu.  And tell her "Hi" for us.

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Best Christmas Present!

This column got Comments!    Wheee!   Sometimes I feel as if I am in a gopher field, shouting down a hole.

Re:  Puns  "The one about puns was spot on!"

Re:  Hammacher Schlemer  "I get the H-S catalog every Christmas season and flip through it in awe at the products and prices.  I ask myself, 'Who buys that stuff?'  But then I realize someone must be buying it because they have been in business since James K. Polk was President."

Re:  Sinatra's Palm Springs Home  "So, why haven't you made an offer on the Sinatra property?  As a joke, my wife and I once made a ridiculous offer on a local mansion (named White Hall) advertised at $3 million and the owner actually countered.  We offered $92,000; the counter was $2.6 million!  We rejected it and had a great laugh. I'm sure the owner did, too."

Thank you, Indiana Doug Vermillion

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Frank Sinatra's Palm Springs House For Sale - Again

I laughed to myself to see that it is now listed for $4.5 million, up from $3.95 million back in 2015.

Back in 2009 it was "only" $2.5 million.  I know this because one of my favorite P.S. treats is grabbing a couple of the real estate magazines that list Properties For Sale to leaf through while waiting for our breakfasts to be brought to the table.

It was very pleasant to sit outside on the enormous patio surrounding the Rock Garden Café, sipping coffee, listening to the gentle hiss of the misters in warmer weather and turn pages and laugh.  There was never an issue that didn't have a home from a dead movie star among the listings.  The cheapest houses were something like $15,000 for a mobile home out in the desert.

When I came across A Genuine Frank Sinatra former home for $2.5 million, I immediately began scheming to at least get up the down payment (to no avail, I must add.)   Richie cocked an eyebrow skeptically at me and turned another page in the Sports section of the Desert Sun.  Breakfast was served.

One of the great attractions to me was the amenities - Parking for 20 or 30 cars, swimming pool (Ava Gardner loved to swim nekkid in it,) , lighted tennis court, and a helipad.  It was his habit to fly into the PS airport on his private jet and then take a waiting chopper up the mountain to his lair.  Five bedrooms and a 1,690 sq.ft. 3-bedroom guest house and a pool house with his'n her saunas.  It was rightfully called "a compound."  

Further, the house itself has all hardwood floors, five local stone fireplaces, with several viewing decks (the "view" being rocks set into dirt reminiscent of a moonscape - and an outdoor dance floor.

Deal killer:  Bright orange tile counters and backsplash.  Orange was said to be his favorite color and used somewhere in all of his houses.  BTW you can rent the Malibu house for $110,000 per month in the summer months.  Just in case you don't want to be tied down by ownership.  The décor which was totally inappropriate to a mountain log cabin style home  was fussy and fancy with candlestick chandeliers and a painting of some religious figure over the living room fireplace.  The late Barbara Sinatra's taste was all in her mouth.

The other real estate deal I missed out on was the offer of a 6-bedroom motel for $200,000 which would have been perfect for family and friends visits.  And everyone in the East Coast would have been on a plane headed for Palm Springs starting in November.

I wasn't meant to live in compounds.   But I will always have the comfort of reading Real Estate For Sale over breakfast there.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Who ARE These People?

Hammacher Schlemmer has been peddling goodies to the rich for 170 years.  Proof,  if any needed, that P.T. Barnum was right.  Or: that a fool and his money are soon parted.    

I clearly made a big mistake when I ordered something recently for Richie for Christmas.  The minute the deal went down, I was (literally) bombarded with online offers to buy OTHER stuff from them.  No kidding.  All through every day since I placed the order, H-S has sent other offers to separate me and any cash I might have.  The following are from the Website, not the catalog that came in the mailbox.  Apparently my credit rating told them that they'd be wasting paper sending it to me.  Perhaps they decide these matters by zip code?  If so, I'd hate to live in Bel Air.  But then those people have servants to deal with unwanted solicitations.  Some of them are armed I've been told.    

On the other hand, you may be the perfect pigeon for such as:

A self-propelled aquanaut suit - $825,000.  

A 7 passenger tricycle - $20,000  Rig it out with a bar, sell tickets to peddle around imbibing and get your money back?  

An authentic New York hot dog cart - $,5,500 - Apparently you provide the dirty water to make it a truly authentic NY hot dog cart.  

A genuine Irish Telefon booth - $6,000.  I did read that the Celtic Tiger was in deep do-do, but if they sell all of the phone booths how's anyone going to find a job?

A dunk tank (liven up that cocktail party!) - $2,800

A hot tub boat - $75,000  It looks like a smallish flat boat that some deranged engineer rigged to carry a spa/jacuzzi, sized for six people.  

A golf cart hover craft - $58,000 - if you can't legitimately beat them, terrorize them by swooping down as they tee off.    

A London Black Cab - $40,000  For use in those countries that drive on the left only.  

A personal submarine that seats 6 (I think) ((too lazy to go look it up)) - $2 million.  

A life-sized Tyrannosaurus - $185,000 For the six year old that still loves dinosaurs.  

A very realistic race car simulator - $185,000  Better in a simulator than on the road … 

I would love to see the H-S customer  list of hot prospects to buy this nonsense among their customers .  I have girlfriends who are still single… 

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Sharing the Pain - of Puns

I count a number of Punsters (their word, not mine) among my friends and sister.  This morning my younger (and only)  sister submitted the following:

Writers Sunbathing
While Any Tans, George Mackay Browns, Robert Burns.  

Yes.  I feel your pain - I suffered it first and am lonely.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Fooding ...

Library Paste for Dinner - Two Nights in a Row!

 Last Sunday, we attended the South Bay New Orleans Jazz Club monthly gala,  We attend every Sunday that we're in town and go out for an early dinner afterward (around 5 p.m.)  Off we went to Charlie's, a NY Joint, on PCH in Redondo.  The new addition to their menu is Shrimp Scampi, six or seven big fat shrimp in the traditional olive oil, crushed garlic, panko crumbs scampi combo.  They are delicious!

I ordered Pasta Alfredo and there I found the above-mentioned library paste.   The cheese sauce was not rich, but gummy.  Any flavor to be found was too elusive TO be found.  I ate a bite or two and asked for it to be boxed.  I will give it a pat of butter, a shot of milk to thin out the paste a bit, add some chopped cooked bacon, a handful of green peas, lashings of Parmesan and a garlic clove or three, minced.  I believe these measures will get it banished from the library.

Last Monday we met with "D" and Mouton for our monthly dinner together.  The venue of choice was Jackson's Food + Wine, 2041 Rosecrans, El Segundo.  When I saw "D" had brought a bottle of champagne, I was appalled - "D" they won't let you do that!" and he smiled evilly and said, "Corkage."

Sure enough, out came flutes and the usual flutter that attends champagne.

I ordered a Caesar salad (well dressed and tossed - every leaf had dressing) to be followed by their macaroni and cheese with bacon and jalapenos and  roasted garlic.  Presented in a wee iron kettle, this dish looked quite appealing with an au gratin crust of bacon, flecks of jalapeño and invisible roasted garlic.  Once under this crust was "normal" macaroni and cheese and both were gooey.  The crust had all of the good stuff.  I asked for it to be boxed after digging around for awhile and last night I slapped some butter in the pan to heat it and dropped a thin slice of Velveeta on top, heated, stirred and finally had "Macaroni and Cheese."

It was quite tasty.  But I don't plan on ordering Alfredo or Mac and Cheese again at either and will be wary of it on other menus, other places.  

Whole Foods 
Just got busted for cancer-linked packaging chemicals.  The items were deli and pastry packaging.  Trader Joe (no deli) had zero!  Yay, TJ!  And a big fat "Ha ha!" to you Whole Foods (Healthy my sweet patootie!)

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Kwanzaa or Ignorance Showing

Having very little information about this holiday I googled it and discovered that it begins December 26th - the day after Christmas - and not quitting until January 1, 2019, I thought it ight be more timely to write about it then.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Chanukah Today Because of Christmas Post - WW2

Israel was granted statehood in 1948.  That year was well into post-WW2 when the military returned and moved into American suburbs.   There they faced a new upset - most of these little communities were Christian and with post-war jubilation at the return of  available goods including toys, and the fact that they had the money to buy things, they celebrated Santa with gusto - and made fun of the Jews among them who, of course, do not celebrate Christmas.

No parent likes to see their kid humiliated and made fun of so the rabbis and others decided they needed a holiday of their own and it needed to take place around the same time.  Chanukah fit the bill.  It's the story of the Maccabean Revolt, an action against the Jews Greek and Syrian oppressors. Oddly enough Chanukah was never that big a deal in Israel.

For Christmas lights decorating trees and homes, the eight days of the Festival of Light substituted menorahs, the 8-day candle holder, used blue and white decorations, such as outdoor lights which were the colors of the newly-created Israel flag.

The flag colors of blue and white in turn came from the colors of the tallit or prayer shawl which were white with black stripes and a single blue thread which was dyed blue using blue snail dye which was frequently mentioned in the Torah.

And so from a meanspirited bunch of little kids, Chanukah was upgraded and is celebrated with great gusto today.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Why Red and Green for Christmas?

For no good reason yesterday, a tiny (Christmas) light went off in my brain and I asked myself so why red and green?  Whose decision was this?  And, if known who, why?

It wasn't anyone we know.  These colors come to us from the Middle Ages, from the Romans who traded holly branches in January for good luck in the coming year and the Egyptians who did the same.

In the Middle Ages, very few people could read.  Thus the church held a yearly holiday to celebrate the birth of Christ and the learned one would read it to all of the other parishioners.  There were no apples on the trees in Europe in the dead of winter, so a branch of a pine tree with presumably home made "apples" tied to it, doubled as the tree to represent Adam and Eve.  No word as to whether or not a snake was used to give full historical gravity.

They were serious about their religion back in those days - but think of it - few could read - so there was no necessity for printing a lot of books.  There was little entertainment other than the occasional torture and banishment of someone in the village … so going to church was a great chance to see others, gossip, court and in general, get crazy.  Crazy for those days which were as we see quite limited.

The red color of the holly berries was meant to be Jesus blood - their sharp, pointy leaves made up Jesus crown of thorns.  That color - red - was later adopted by the Catholic Bishops' robes.

Green came from the holly, ivy and pine - evergreens.

So, one thought logically leading to another (somewhere, not in this house) why blue and white for Chanukah and red/green/black/yellow for Kwanza?  Tune in tomorrow.  The Google Hound is ON IT.

Friday, December 7, 2018

"Bring It!"

A new cookbook's title - "Bring It! Tried and True Recipes for Potlucks and Casual Entertaining" by Ali Rosen  $25  237 pages

Some of it I would leave at home … flavored popcorns  such as Spicy Smoked Paprika or Orange and Vanilla or Chocolate and finally, Lemon Lime Popcorn - drunk with 7-Up?

Her guacamole - one version - calls for the addition of  "one orange, peeled, seeded and diced" and throw in some chopped mint, too.

"Did nothing appeal to you O picky eater?" anxious readers want to know.  Yes, oddly enough this sounds good -

4 or 5 large ripe plums, diced to make 4 cups +/-
2 large English cucumbers ((I think this means hothouse grown) sliced into 1/4 in. thick disks.
3 T fresh lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
1/2 T dried chili flakes.
Combine everything and save cooled until ready to eat it.

This rework of melon and prosciutto with extra virgin olive oil and a few grains of sea salt becomes
4 ripe peaches, halved, pit removed and chopped into 1/2 in. chunks
8 slices good prosciutto (what?  You can buy bad?) cut in small pieces
1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2  T extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
Pepper to taste
Toss and serve.

I think we're all smart enough to figure out ways to transport the above - Yo, Tupperware!  Gitcher butt outta the cabinet here.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

O Sister! Update

This morning's paper gave fuller details on Sister Theotine and her partner in crime.  It seems that over a 10 year period, they embezzled some $500,000 (as in half a million) from tuitions, various fees and donations to go traveling and casino gambling.  Civilians, it appears, are not the only ones who cannot resist the siren sound of clanks, whistles, off-key music at the $1 - $5 slots.

Parents of students during this 10 year spree are up in arms, microwaves are full of little sacks of tar and the Dads have gone bird hunting for a ready supply of feathers.  They are particularly riled because these two perpetrators in their in their wimples and gowns are not to do any jail time.  They are so very, very sorry.  Another branch of Catholicism is picking up the tab.    Providing a great lesson to children.  Not.  Which is part of the anger from the parents.  "We raised them right!  And when we send them to school, this is what they learn?" with much (justifiable) gnashing of teeth.  Lawyers in this group are gearing up for lawsuits.  So the parents are temporarily calmed apparently.  But they didn't take the tar out of the microwave .. not just yet.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

It Never Rains But What It Pours?

For several days I have been hunting about for something to write about.  Nothing piqued my interest.  In desperation I picked up a new cookbook at the library and leafed desultorily through it.  Eureka!  Some material!  That was day before yesterday.  Then Richie gave me a brief lesson in Economics 101 which made me laugh so much I had to let others in on this real money saver.

And then yesterday's mail brought something so funny that I laughed out loud for an honest five minutes.  I'm grinning as I type this.

Some of you may remember that last summer, in a fit of being kind to the executors of our estate, I ordered and paid for our tombstone.  See below.
I then gave the matter no further interest.  Until … yesterday when the mail woman brought an offer from St. Patrick's Cemetery Office.  It is 4/c shots of various GRAVE BLANKETS and PILLOWS for Christmas!  All are what looks to be fir; all six offerings have Big Bright Red Bows.  Prices range from $29 to $48.  An offer I'm going to refuse inasmuch as we aren't dead yet.   And for future reference, I don't want one when I'm dead either.  Waste of perfectly good money.  Further it's stupid - when did a bunch of fir branches with a big red bow ever keep anyone warm - dead OR alive?                              

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

In Which Richie Offers a Short Course in Economizing

Yesterday in the course of running various errands of no import here, Richie chose to drive up and down Hermosa Avenue, which with Pier Avenue are the main drags in Hermosa Beach.  Hermosa Avenue before Pier Avenue is a lesser point of interest (gyms, clothing boutiques, manicures) but continuing on Hermosa will lead you past various restaurants.

Now that you are geographically located...  He said, "Look and see if the parking meters are covered for the holidays."  I reported back, "They are."  "Good," he replied - let's take a look at the restaurants we've never eaten in and look them up.  Free parking!" with some glee.

Dutifully I pulled out my little tablet and a ballpoint and began writing.  Steak and Whisky...Dia Campo... Chelsea Pub … Standing Room … Chef Melba's which was kind of cheating because we had eaten there with "D" who loves it but I didn't particularly like it.

The results of casual poking around …  I present these (opionated) brief reviews in the event that you, too, want to go spend $75 or $100 for dinner but the parking is free.    And you can gloat and mentally give the universal "Hah!"  gesture to the City of Hermosa Beach.

Dia Campo - a taco $11.  Group seating.   No thanks.

Steak and Whiskey - No menu listed but as the sister to Abigaile and Little Sister, I know it is roaringly expensive.  Abigaile was when we went there for "D"'s birthday.

Chef Melba's - "If you and "D" want to go there and eat lamb, have at it," sez I.

Chelsea Pub and Lounge -  Purports to be an English style bistro.  This appealed (kind of)  Scotch Eggs - a hardboiled egg rolled in pork sausage with sourdough crumbs and deep fried with a curry Hollandaise.  $7.95.

Standing Room - this hits it right out of the ball park - Deviled Eggs with kimchi, scallions and bacon $5.  Of note:  happy hours are Monday, Tuesday 2:30 to 7 p.m.  Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 3 to 6 p.m.

Tell'em Richie sent you.

Monday, December 3, 2018

It's In the Air

The Sovereign State of California has long been the butt of jokes from other States.  For some time, it has been fashionable to make cruel slurs and insults as to the residents sanity.  Frankly, it stings.  I may live here but:  I didn't pass the following laws and had they been on the ballot, I would not have voted for them as I believe Common Sense (rumors of his/her/gender neutral demise are false) would take care of the following:

It is no longer legal for prison guards to have sex with the inmates.  A spurned lover could set fire to the whole place which is hardly fair on the non-sexually involved residents.

You cannot throw a Frisbee on any LA County beach without the permission of the Life Guard.  I see a wonderful chance here for said guards to make a little extra over their salary…

Women driving your kids to school, do not wear a housecoat.  It's against the law.  I think this would require information on what constitutes a "housecoat" as they vanished circa 1954.

Animals are not allowed to have sex within 1,500 feet of a tavern, school or place of worship.  I can understand that a school yard tryst between two dogs could raise some awkward questions from children, but taverns?  Is it believed that the sight of animal copulations would make the alcohol-impaired grab the nearest opposite sex (or not, this being California) and have at it?

Speaking of dogs, in San Francisco, all dogs must have their owners on a leash.  Which raised the question from a commentator as to whether the dogs must be required to clean up owner's poop?

Today I heard a possible explanation for all of the above.  It's in the air.  The weatherman advised us this morning that on Wednesday "unstable air"  may cause thunderstorms.  Unstable air … yup.  That explains a lot.  You're welcome.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

A Thought ...

As we head into the Season of Great Joy and Greed, ponder this:

                     "Comparison is the thief of joy."
                            Theodore Roosevelt.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Good For George Herbert Walker Bush!

He got to go Home and to Barbara, his wife of 73 years.   It's a joyful thing - to be celebrated with cheers and laughter! (And lots and lots of champagne.)   Godspeed, George Herbert Walker Bush!

I always like a happy ending.

Especially when it requires champagne.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Sister Theotine, You're BUSTED!

This morning's Daily Breeze front paged this headline:

"2 nuns blamed in thefts at school"  followed by this information. Monsignor Michael Meyers, the pastor at St. James Catholic Church, Redondo Beach, said that a letter arrived that alleged that  two Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet had, over years, appropriated substantial sums for their private use from the St. James School, Torrance.  The article went on to say that the nuns were abjectly sorry and no one was at the moment planning on suing anyone.

Reactions - a NUN stole?   What in HELL is for "personal use" for a nun?   Victoria's Secret underpants?  Upgrade from Trader Joe's $5 wines to $15?  Generous donations for praise?  Your ideas?

I await with some interest this list...

Of note:  There really was a Sister Theotine.  She was Richie's great aunt, sister of his great grandfather.  She entered the convent as a fully-fledged nun in her teens and  died aged 90 or 91 - no one can remember - in said convent.  She taught math at a girls' business school. When the Pope said the ladies could wear more modern clothing, Sister Theotine ignored this well-meant directive and insisted on the full black and white ensemble until the end of her days.  In a group shot, she would have looked like a very large bat...  Richie and his brother dreaded her infrequent visits as she was a martinet of the first order.  Posture, shirt tails - in or out - table manners and a great deal more were noted and remarked upon and difficult math tests were issued all the days of her very long  life.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

An Idle Mind...

Steel-cut Oatmeal.  This is a phrase that has puzzled me since I first saw it on a menu.  Why "steel-cut"?  What special properties does steel give a flake of oatmeal?

This morning the in dominatable Heloise reminded me of this old curiosity when a reader wrote in to know what's so hot about steel-cut?    News flash - that oatmeal is "bigger" in size and thus takes longer to cook.  This is good?  When you're hungry and you're running late?  She helpfully added that it has less sugar and salt than instant for fewer calories and a nuttier taste.

So now both that reader and I can wonder no longer why oatmeal is not cut with, say, a rusty nail file or a ballpeen hammer or a used cocaine razor blade… let your imagination be your guide.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

We Have A Winner!

My longtime go-to for describing how badly I don't want to do something is:

I'd rather sit naked on a stump eating raw bacon while a snake slithers up my spine than …

The winnah:

I'd rather neuter a fully-aware bobcat in the trunk of my car with only my Swiss Army knife than …

Use it wisely, my friends.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

A Public Warning

Monday while wending our way through the aisles at Target in search of space heaters, we passed men's wear.  Richie was foraging ahead of me which was just as well because this item caught my eye:

A Christmas fabric had been used to make a suit for a man.  I am talking regular pants and a blazer jacket.  In Christmas cotton fabrics of green pine trees with gold bells with scarlet ribbons … mini-Santa sleighs … to be worn over (as they showed) a white t-shirt.

I was enchanted.  What a grand gesture they would make at a Christmas party, office party, your local, the supermarket, CVS...  but perhaps not out to dinner at a "nice" restaurant until two days before Christmas.

The price on this triple-piece*  male attire?  $49.99   Target.  Dirt cheap for something that would be useful for years!  There's a Halloween every year just as there is a Christmas, you know...

Richie had doubled back to spur me forward so I pulled out a hangar, showing it to him and said I'd buy it for him if he wanted it.  He emphatically did not.

But I do.  Just the jacket - over, say, dark green corduroy pants and a white fleece top … smart!  Chic!  Funny!  Yes.

But realizing this kind of outerware isn't everyone's cuppa, I thought it only polite to warn you mine may be appearing soon in your worst nightmares.

*  Didn't say whether the white t-shirt is included.

Monday, November 26, 2018

"I Was the Prius In The Porsche Parking Lot"

So writes Daily Breeze restaurant reviewer Merrill Shindler in this morning's edition.

He was talking about his visit to the Porsche Experience Center, Carson,  on Main near where the 405 meets the 110.   Located on 53 acres, the building houses the headquarters of Porsche North America, displays of historic cars and a look into the workshop  team at work.  There are also three tracks to test drive a Porsche in varying configurations with a choice of models.

Model prices vary, but the 911 Turbo is yours for 90 minutes and $500 or $5.50 per minute on the track.  If you plan to have lunch there ($75 per person average cost) may I suggest "driving" the simulator for 30 minutes for $35?

After touring the gift shop, you feel a little hungry?  The 917 Café offers rather upscale-priced victuals.  "Aw, just a burger and fries," you murmur.  May I direct your attention to the Kobe Burger, composed of the following - Roasted red pepper aioli, butter lettuce, smoked bacon, tomato, a confit of raclette cheese and "frites" (French fries to the rest of us.) Oh, that'll be $20 please.

Shindler was most impressed by the butter offered - shaped like a Porsche (two) on a plate with a little mound of sea salt.  For maybe $10 you could ask for an order of rolls and butter?  Or - I bet the gift shop carries Porsche-shaped butter molds.  Buy one of those and at home,  stuff it with I Can't Believe It Isn't Butter.  Budget Porsche Butter!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

My Faith In The Media Restored!

AP is up to it's usual standards (critics would mutter "none") and here are fragments of what I'm talking about.

 "NEARLY 500 flights cancelled!  (Note to readers:  please add exclamation points to all of the below; am too lazy to do it) when then actual count is:  491

" storm IS EXPECTED to head to O'Hare (ORD) and Kanas City (MCI) and cancel flights.  From personal experience, I can tell you that to even get to Kansas City, you have to go through DFW when from the East or Left Coasts.

Potential flyers are warned that" … storm COULD dump NEARLY a foot of snow."

Are we all breathless now?

I didn't think so.  Our next treat, however, should be the mandatory, traditional "Look at these poor bastards trying to sleep in ORD, LAX, JFK! (the domino effect on incoming and outbound)

"That'll teach them to buy hardshelled luggage" we mutter scathingly …   Ah, the joys of Thanksgiving - the gift that goes on well past the actual day!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Yesterday Town and Country hit the mailbox with a resounding thump and in the front section is an area for doting parents to buy totally useless things for their 5 year old's.  Motive not being very Christmas-y as probably purchased for one upsmanship at cocktail parties and such. 

The other day we had a nice example of that in the pages of the Target circular - extremely expensive brand ride-in electric cars from Target.   From $124 to $309 for a BMW or Volvo - big ticket cars.

T and C as they fondly call themselves has a topper - and a bargain as far as cars for kids goes.  The bargain is a Big Toys Green Country Mercedes G55 SUV for $460.  Bargain?! you gasp?  (see below - roomier than the Target offerings no matter how la de dah they may (or not) be.

The "Can you top this? item is a Circu Magical Furniture plane bed for $22,430.  

Your eyes are not failing you - $22,430 for a kid's bed.  I noticed that to get into this flight to dreamland, the kid has to use what looks like a suitcase for a boarding step onto the mattress.  Probably available for a modest sum would be an alligator-skin trunk from Louis Vuiton for another $5 or $6,000.

With parents who are crazy enough to buy something like this at a price that is higher than the plane's projected altitude, I had to wonder if the kid would still fit in it when he was 35 and how could you take it apart for reassembly in the parent's basement (now a suite for the kid.) 

If you are handy with tools, here is a site that will allow you to build a version of this wretched excess.  It is   and it is a charitable donation to buy parts of airplanes, cockpit and flight attendant seats, instrument panels and other bits and pieces.  The proprietor, Captain Nick Louis (Ret.) a former UAL pilot is assisted by his son, a pilot for AAL.  Even if you don't have kids, and would certainly never toss out that kind of money, the site is an interesting place to visit and browse.   And in certain circles, day dream ...

Friday, November 23, 2018

A Backward Glance at Yesterday's Meal

Some small discoveries... 

I did most of the prep work on Wednesday so that, basically, all I did was lay out the appetizers after I turned on the oven on.  

Our no-waste-turkey:  bones, skin, giblets and worse  was replaced by 2 lbs. of Boars Head roasted breast of turkey cut into half-inch steaks.  All meat and plenty of it.  The turkey that contributed to our table was the Dolly Parton of birds.  This is not a "bargain" as 2 lbs. cost $25 which would have bought a 30 lb. turkey but No Waste.  You could and we did eat nothing but "pure" turkey meat and the white meat at that.  

Roast Squash with a Butter Maple sauce turned out well after some initial difficulty cutting the ends off and halving it for face-down roasting.  An hour later at 350 degrees, it was done and cooling to be bathed in about a half stick of butter and half a bottle of pure amber honey for the sauce.  I'd given this a small shake of cayenne pepper to give it a little more than pure sweet.  The garnish offered was glazed pecans, but our guest "D" said he like it with just the sauce.    His mother's recipe cranberry sauce was delicious, as usual.

The only disaster - and it WAS one - was trying to cook the stuffing in a waffle iron.  I will gloss over trying to get the lid open to check on degree of doneness and breaking the lid lifter (which snapped back on) BUT the waffler still refused to open.   In desperation, I unplugged it (based on the odor of burning trash and steam from the cracks)  and let it cool.  Eventually we were able to open it to find sad black patties indistinguishable from coal.  The whole thing went out on the balcony where it spend the night in deserved seclusion.  

Richie's pumpkin pie finished off dinner and this year's added attraction was a generous scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.  "D" was particularly pleased at this addition - he loves him some ice cream.  

All in all, it wasn't a bad dinner; it just wasn't as good as others I've made in the past.  As I am stubborn and love the mental picture of gravy pouring into all of the little waffle holes I remind myself, I've got a year +/- to perfect stuffing waffles.  Gravy Greed can make you crazy.    You read it here.   

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Wretched Excess More's the Pity

I now consider the Thanksgiving Day meal done and dusted since I did prep work yesterday; mentally assigned specific bowls to certain foods, the platter for the turkey, spurred Himself into clearing off the dining room table  and all I have to do is heat it and dish'er out.

Freeing me to read the Target ad which I did.  One item positively leaped off of their pages and it was Kids Cars.  On several levels - does a 5 year old need a driveable "car"?  The makes and models - what the hell is a kid doing knowing model numbers on such as the Volvo, Mercedes Benz and more.  And a great deal more.  This would indicate to me parents who are more than a little concerned about "status" and extending it on down to clueless kids.  Cruel.  And then they wonder why Sonny, age 35,  is living in their basement with free use of the servants (if any) and doesn't pay rent.  Or have a job.  Or want one.  Look in the mirror Moms and Dads.

As you see from the above I can almost always get indignant about something.  I'm not proud of it.

Anyhow, if you are dying to get your Satan's Image a sit in, drive around "car" here are some from which to choose.  Target, shipped to you; not kept in stores.

The following run on a 6V battery.

BMW 18 Hybrid Concept $175.99

Mercedes-Benz GL 450 SUV in white  $124.99

Ford Mustang, red $169.99

BMW X5  black  $199.99

Audi 6V gray $128.99

ProGolf Cart   white  $128.99

Revving up - the following are 12V
Chevrolet Bel Air in light blue $249.99; in pink $241.99  no idea why.

Volvo XC 90  white or black  $299.99

Chevrolet Camaro seats two kids  $369.99

Kawasaki KFZ motorcycle  $249.99

Arctic Ca  army green  $309.99


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

or as it's known in some circles - The T-Day Gobble-a-thon!

Get on your mark, have your fork ready and GO FOR IT!

Other Thanksgiving Traditions Rarely Mentioned As Such -- But They Are

And so this morning, we are reminded of more traditions than turkey starring in dinner menus.

The media is helpfully cranking up the angst with photos of such as the 405 freeway at night - a double ribbon - white headlights going north and another ribbon  of red taillights going south towards LAX.

Overbooking airlines with resultant bad feelings throughout airports; the mandatory shot of wanna be travelers sleeping on the floor; suitcases as pillows.  A photo can't show it, but there is incessant noise - from the change of gate announcements, the reminder that you cannot park in front of the airport entrance, screaming children, yelling adults and crying babies.

The East Coast weather (always bad and predicted to get worse) slowing or delaying flights; scare headlines that predict no Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade due to high winds or snow storms …

None of this is "news" because it all happens every year and is definitely a Thanksgiving Day holiday tradition.

More's the pity.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

As Always...

If I can't find something funny, interesting or mildly educational, I'll keep my trap firmly shut.

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Brief History of "Festivus" a Holiday NOT Invented by "Seinfeld."

Sad news, I know that the devotees of "Seinfeld" will be devastated.  Tough shit.  Neither Seinfeld nor Curb Your Enthusiasm are even remotely of interest, let alone to be considered hilarious.

This is how Festivus came about.  In February, 1966, a now retired Readers Digest editor named Daniel O'Keefe - apparently a major romantic (or a guy who just liked to have a few to celebrate damned near anything) created  what he called "Festivus" saying later that the name just popped into his head.   He insisted that his wife join him in celebration of  the anniversary of their first date.  Hard to get more nebulous than that …

Time went on, the couple had three sons, one of whom wound up as a writer on the "Seinfeld" show.  A fellow on the show overhead Dan O'Keefe describing it to other show writers and lobbied to have an episode written about it.  O'Keefe didn't want to do it and protested mightily to (clearly) no avail.

Before "Seinfeld" the O'Keefe household celebrated Festivus on random holidays - not just Christmas.  Activities included wearing funny hats, Dan and his two brothers wrestling and a clock put in a bag.  This mystified the boys but all their father would say was, "That's not for you to know."  This may be a sort of Celtic recognition of death inasmuch as the first Festivus arose from the death of O'Keefe, Sr.'s mother.  A way of saying, time is fleeting; seize the day, we never know when the bomb will drop on us.  There was no pole made of  aluminum, pine or anything else at the O'Keefe residence.  

Airing of the Grievances on the show was in turn inspired by O'Keefe the Elder's admiration for Samuel Becket's play "Krapp's Last Tape."  During the continuation of Festivus at the house from the '60s, '70s and on, he would tape himself talking about whatever had gone on during the previous months.  Again, an item copied by the show writers.

Now you know more than you may have wished about Festivus.  Since, ideally, this non-official holiday includes food and drink, and plenty of it, give some consideration to the end of January as your Festivus.   The bills have come in, the weather (and many of you) has gone south on us all and it is, generally, a good time for a party.  Ice the champagne and caviar and have at it!


Friday, November 16, 2018

Bad Weather and (Probably) Worse to Come: Timely Correspondence From Our On the Ground Reporter

My cousin, Doug Vermillion, in Indiana is our correspondent from his catbird seat in lovely Anderson.  Aside:  a family motto - "Keep nepotism in the family!"

Breaking:  We are having ice, freezing rain, sleet and snow here today.

Sidebar:  A suitable poem from a high school classmate - totally appropriate for this kind of bad weather - and yet, delightfully educational for all who read it and want to know a little about weather in the mid west.  With no further adieu …

It's winter here in Indiana
Where the gentle breezes blow
At seventy miles an hour
While it's thirty-five below

Oh, how I love Indiana,
When the snow's up to my butt
I take a breath of winter air
And my nose gets frozen shut

Yes, our weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave Indiana
Because I'm frozen to the ground!

Thursday, November 15, 2018

How To Foil a Package Porch Thief

Timely, considering Christmas presents are coming to our front porches soon.

Yesterday, Dave from Silva Construction came over to see what we want done here so as to give us an estimate.  Our business concluded, he left.  An hour later, I noticed his measuring device on top of the dishwasher (with a lot of other crap.)  Knowing the firm has more than one, I didn't worry about it.

He called last night and asked that we leave it on the porch for one of his guys to pick it up today.  "Of course," I said.

This is clearly an expensive item - this tape measure - as it is clearly industrial length.  It may weigh as much as 2 lbs.  Our porch is visible from the street, but only if you're a porch bandit looking.

I wanted to follow instructions (for once) but I worried it might get stolen.  FLASH!  idea!  (A rare and wonderous thing for this writer) so I took a sheet of typing paper, switched over to Word, chose RED INK and typed:


Richie came in from his morning walk, noticed my bomb outside the man door to the garage and came into the house yelling, "Call the police!"  I said, "It's okay, Blondie.  Calm yourself."

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"If You Can't Say Something Nice, Don't Say Anything At All "

The above quote could be from any one of our mothers.  So, not for the first time, I will try to foil (!) my own mother, by saying as much "nice" as I reasonably can and still get something to write about for today.

Here goes.

It is a very large room, made to look even larger by the vast paned windows that stretch all the way across the space, overlooking an outdoor rectangular patio and the street.  The bar is to your right as you enter and the dining area - wood tables, bar height and normal -size dining tables and chairs, all of which is dominated by a HUGE TV screen that must measure 6 or 7 ft. tall and 8 or 10 ft. wide.  I joked to our server (a very personable guy) "I congratulate you on having a TV Stevie Wonder could watch!" and he roared.

Happy hour prices are properly lower than normal as evidenced by my $2 dirty gin martini, but it was served in a flat champagne glass, not a flute.   Richie had a Citra ale $8, and "D" a glass of Sky Fall Cabernet Sauvignon $9.  Those finished, "D" had a second and Richie his first.  The wines were $27 for three.  In addition to my $2 martini, I had a glass (smallish) of De Luca prosecco. $8

With our drinks, they ate (and clearly enjoyed) the Chicken Tenders, $5, and I joined them in the order of house-seasoned French fries , $4, which were nicely crisp.

"D" ordered and ate with enthusiasm, the Fish Taco, soft shell, $9, and Richie the Tavern Burger, $12.50, and I the grilled cheese sandwich of white Cheddar on cranberry/walnut bread which arrived on a square wooden plate, neatly quartered and burned.  $12.50.  A bit price-y I thought for two slices of bread and some cheese, whatever they grilled it in (and semi-charred) and NO side dishes.

The tab was $96 of which $59 was the bar.  So never mind my whine about a grilled cheese sand for nearly $13.  It was a good flavor pairing and now we can all make them at home for considerably less.

The Laurel Tavern
1220 Hermosa Beach, Hermosa Beach 90254  Take a gander at your own risk - the online and on site menus are different.



Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Full Gravy Boat Lifts All Spirits

Perhaps it's due to having grown up in the Midwest when gravy is very often a dish on the dinner table or just an instinctive love of it, isn't known.  It was  the first thing my mother taught me too cook when I was 12 years old.  Unfortunately Ironing Lessons came along about the same time - easy stuff, to be sure, sheets, pillowcases and my Dad's boxer shorts. So much for my pitiable childhood stories of forced labor.

In a section of Parade (I think) last Sunday, there is a series entitled  "What America Eats" and it was fancy-pants sandwiches made the day after T-Day.  One of them that caught my eye called for using waffles made from stuffing as the BREAD of the sandwich - that also contained barbequed turkey, crisp bacon and cranberry jalapeno mayonnaise.

"Hmmm," I thought.  "Waffles from stuffing …"  Why not serve them with the real meal?  Think of all the gravy those little holes could hold …

So:  make your favorite dressing (here we have 1 in. baguette cubes, lavished with chicken broth, chopped red onion, and lashings of white or rainbow pepper and plenty of sage)  and while it sits, get out the waffle maker (everyone has one - classic wedding gift) and brush the grill with the oil of your choice.   When done, stack them on a tray or pan  and put in the oven with the turkey to stay warm until ready to be eaten.

Mentally, I am blissfully pouring gravy  into waffle holes! Let the level of the gravy boat rise!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Don't You Hate It When the Computer Goes Blooey?

It happened to me this morning.  Tried everything I know to no avail.  Finally called Horizon and a very nice lady fixed the router from whence the problems stemmed.

Back at the usual stand tomorrow - I read a great idea for waffles.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

100 Years Later - Lest We Forget

Billed as "the War to end all Wars,"  it didn't and wasn't.  This war which killed a total of 9 million people - both actively fighting and merely staying at home defending their land - began July 28, 1914 and ended on the rather poetic 11th hour of the 11th month of November 11, 1918.

                                                               Never Forget

These are not poppies, but they're also not a theft from a photo bank.  Richie shot a bouquet he bought from the Farmers Market.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Camels Would Be Better ...

Nevertheless, here is a shot from this morning's (11/10/2018) Daily Breeze - those are llamas tethered to a lifeguard station  - you are not hallucinating; this is just Southern California.   But camels would make better getaway means...

Friday, November 9, 2018

Driven By It 1,000 Times; Finally Stopped In.

I'm referring to a restaurant named  Frito Misto, 316 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach.  Visit their menu at 

Pier Avenue is one of three ways to get to the Hermosa Beach Pier.  The other two are via Hermosa Avenue and pulling your yacht in as close as it can get and hoping the dinghy to shore you ordered, will show up.  We don't have a yacht (snort!) so we drove.

In the wake of the most recent mass shooting, I was relieved to note that the minute you walk in the front door, you are facing a very large arc of booth seating with a table sized to them and a wooden barrier behind it,  stretching to nearly the ceiling.  Ushered around it by our server (very perky and funny Wendy) we were given a nice table at the back and bigger portion of the room, now visible because we've cleared the barrier.

As always (except for breakfast out - unless it's brunch and then, of course, one has champagne) ) we ordered a drink to sip while perusing their menu.  Richie had a Stella $3.75 and I a glass of the rose $5.25 for a healthy pour.  The fresh bread in a basket came with real butter (!) so I very politely asked that if they had the olive oil and balsamic dipping sauce and if so, may we have some?  Two seconds later, she was back with the tall, slim glass bottles of them plus a small dish filled with chopped garlic.  Del-icious!   Bonus points:  the cats didn't want any part of us when we got home.

To start, I ordered the side portion of Caesar salad for us to split.  If that's a "side" by God I don't want to see the entrée-size salad.  At any rate it was $6.  I don't know what's up with restaurants these days, but to a place they are using the dark green top of the lettuce leaf which looks tired even while it's back in the kitchen I don't doubt.  The dressing was inoffensive (translation:  could use a little pepping up) with a generous dust of chunk Parmesan tossed over it in  devil-may-care style.

Richie ordered the Chicken Marsala - two chicken breasts seared with sautéed mushrooms and Marsala sauce on a bed of linguini.  He said later that the linguini was a little too al dente for him; the chicken was headed toward "Tough" but the sauce was "okay."  Asked if he would go back, he nodded, "Yes."  $18.

I can rarely ignore pancetta, the Italian bacon so I ordered the Pasta Pancetta, composed of that, sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions and a garlic cream sauce to which I will add  little chopped garlic for dinner tonight.  $15, and another glass of rose.

The grand total was $53.25 for four servings (leftovers for dinner tonight) which is a very affordable dinner out.  

And now we'll stop in from time to time!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Voting With Dick and Jane ... or Party Animals Vote

We can turn damn near anything into a reason to party, even if it's only the two of us.  I seem to remember going out to dinner at Bring Dollars, Home of Very Expensive Food Bistro and Bar one time to celebrate Ground Hog Day … So yesterday - Election Day - was no exception.

Even the day's start was fun as we have a new French teacher who Gets It that when a class is called French Conversation, that's what you do!   Previous teachers have grounded us well in French history.   My favorite story is one of a general who commandeered all of the taxis in Paris to take his men to the front line, but this is not the sort of thing that is going to pop up for discussion in today's France.  Or at least, I don't think so.

Anyhow, class ends at 10 a.m. so we promptly hied ourselves off to vote.  We were delighted and I was particularly gratified to see a full parking lot at our polling place and that we were numbers 10 and 11 in line to vote.  For a conceited nanosecond, I imagined that many of them were readers here and acting accordingly to my diatribe on The Importance Of Voting.   In real life, I doubt there was anyone there, aside from Richie, who does read me.   Didn't matter; there were another 8 to 10 in line behind us.  A friend, working this election told us that business there has been extremely good, starting with the poll's opening - at 7 a.m. - and hadn't slowed since then.

Even if we hadn't been there to vote, one of the workers was worth the wait.  She was dressed in:  very brief denim shorts with heavily frayed front pockets cut to show the red and white stripes on the pockets underneath  them, a shirt of stars and stripes, a big white cowboy hat with a red/white and blue band and a pair of white cowboy boots with a 6 in. fringe around their tops.  The only thing I could imagine was that she had gotten excused from her shift at the pole dancer emporium.  Made standing in line semi-amusing speculating on former Miss Texas?  Simply your average Southern California attention-seeker … or what?

Since our polling place is across the street from Las Brisas, when we got back in the car after voting I proposed treating him to lunch there.   With alacrity he accepted.  Since it was a beautiful day (the sun had finally come out) we elected to sit out on the patio,  which at that time of day was shadowy with splotches of sunshine.  The big plants sopped up traffic noise and we contentedly nibble on chips and salsas with an icy cold Pacifico.

It was so pleasant that after our food had been ordered and eaten, we ordered a second beer.  It was just too pleasant to go rushing away home.  Instead, we reminisced about previous elections, turnouts,  and I remembered back in the day in New York or Missouri, that if you sported your "I Voted" sticky label, the bartender gave you a free drink for voting.

No more had to be said.  We finished our beers and went straight to Suzy's, a live music-themed bar and grill that has rapidly become our go to spot.  Few customers at noon - in fact, none except for us - but the barmaid and her husband the chef were good company.

Entertainment of a sort was provided by the Hermosa Beach Police rousting a homeless man who had been living (presumably) in the parking lot.  They numbered four with a pick-up truck and two cop cars.  Business had to have been slow in Hermosa Beach.   The man was sitting on the curb at the base of a Big Lots sign.  After more than an hour, he got up, they all talked some more and they took him away.  Show over, we finished our beers and went home.  Where we both had a nap.  Mexican food is so filling

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

La Tristesse de les Gaufres Francaise

or "The sadness of French waffles."

"Yes, you there in the back?  No, (laughing) I have not lost my mind!"

SAVEUR, a food and wine publication arrived the other day and  throughout  it's pristine pages, I noted that almost all of the bakery items on offer were … very brown on top.  Some might even say, "Hellfire, woman, they were all burned!"

In the back section the magazine gave us a recipe for waffle sandwiches.  The normal breads in which sandwich ingredients are normally enclosed was - burned waffles.  This is not the only insult delivered to waffles with what could only be a resounding slap - I was instantly reminded of a lunch we and Michelle had in Trouville and my dessert was a waffle, covered with vanilla ice cream and tracings of strawberry jam.  No one else at the table wanted to help me out in this matter and poking around in it with my fork, I understood why.

In reading the following recipe I noted several decidedly UN-American waffle ingredients.

1 and 1/3 cups sour cream
1/2 cup whole milk
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup of sugar, divided - doh; two 1/8ths sugar
pinch of kosher salt - use sea salt instead
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour sifted
1 stick (4 oz.) butter, melted
4 large egg whites

Whisk the sour cream egg yolks, milk, 2 T sugar, sea salt, followed by adding the melted butter  
Whip the egg whites and other half of the sugar and gradually add to mix very gently.
Ladle 1/3rd cup of mix onto the waffle maker, close the lid and cook until the waffle is lightly browned around the edges.

Their recipe continues - "butter the waffle with mayonnaise, layer on slices of avocado, add sheets of prosciutto or Spanish ham and dot with arugula.  Top with another waffle, squashed with a weight such as a heavy skillet and bake until warm.

Obviously, you can put in any filling that you want to add, but I can't recommend Velveeta somehow.Which is kind of sad - it makes such a great grilled cheese sandwich - any bread.   …

Monday, November 5, 2018

Election Drama Avoidance

Why get yourselves agitated by liars who mislead in exit polls and TV stations that "predict" outcomes when they are not smart enough to come in out of the rain?  

When the polls close, that's it.  The next day is soon enough to find out. Then, fresh from a blissful night's rest, you can rant all you want to because you will be well-rested.  No matter which way you voted or whom you expected to win.

We'll be watching the last episodes of "Lord Wimsey; the Nine Tailors"  during this frenetic madness and happy to do it.

You betcha we will have voted (as we have in every election preceding this one.)  The new French class from 9 to 10 a.m. and straight to the polls.  I will be interested to hear what the voter turnout had been up to that point.  The 2016 election had a line out the door of our voting place.

Vote - so you can participate in the post-election discussions...

Sunday, November 4, 2018

A Voting Alert

Today is a good day to read up on various propositions (and candidates) we will be asked to vote aye or nay on next Tuesday.

Sunday is traditionally a day of rest thus a hour devoted to political research is a lot more possible than from 9 to 5 weekdays or during Saturday errands (also a long-standing American tradition.)

Especially if, in the past, you have shrugged and said, "I don't have any idea what they're talking about so I'm not going to bother to vote."

I don't think that this is or would be much of an excuse to all of the families who have lost loved ones in America's numerous wars to insure our freedom and most especially our right to vote.

I feel very strongly that if you do not go vote, you absolutely do NOT get to carp and complain about any of the measures that were passed or the men and women who were elected.

Put your money where your mouth resides or lose the post-election whine until the next one.  Sorry, you're not allowed regrets if you didn't vote.  And, I might add, we know who many of you are and will not hesitate to tax you with this thought:   No Vote, No Whine

Saturday, November 3, 2018

A Scientific Treatise On The Effects of Daylight Savings Time on Our Pet Cats and Dogs

Unfortunately I found no specific results for this topic on your average gerbil or hamster.  In lieu of same, I would add that I once had a tank of goldfish that were smart enough to know when feeding time was and would churn up their waters at their usual time for a bite.

As is true of too many scientific tests to be measured, both cats and dogs and many others of our animal friends are driven by greed.  I.e. for  owners who feed their cats/dogs at a specific time.  While these animals can't read a clock per se their stomachs serve as their time-telling aids.

An oddity in this matter is that pets who are given a medication at a specific time of day, never seem to await that as they do their normal food.   Our 17 year old calico cat gets a liquid medicine at 7 a.m. every other day and so far, she still tears into her breakfast and then curls up for a digestive nap, making it very easy to tip her head and insert the syringe into her mouth.  Now a smarter animal might be able to figure the routine and instead of going to her cushion, hie out like a car thief for a new , less visible spot, but so far not and I am grateful.

So in answer to the many pet owners who contacted me re this pressing question, feed as normal during this new time and your pet will gradually accustom it's self to a new feeding time.  Over-the-top owners:  you don't have to change feeding time by five minute increments.  Both you and the pet will wind up confused as hell. Moderation in all things …

T/U Richie for asking me about this this morning.  I hope you find this information useful.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Trick or Treat Head Count - 2018

We had a 700% increase over last year's numbers.

Last year's number was zero and we ate leftover candy until Easter.

What're your numbers?  Take advantage of the Comments below and tell us.  Thanks!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Ah, November or Bring Out Your Dead!

The Mesoamerica period was a period of different ethnic groups, but all of them believed in an afterlife.  Though all different, all believed that the afterlife was a many layered thing.  There were 13 heavens and 9 underworlds each in it's place with a separate god ruling it all.  The most favored final destinations were held aside for soldiers, mothers who died giving birth and the unfortunates who had been sacrificed to various other gods. This celebration ran for the entire month of August.

And then came the Catholic missionaries.    They hijacked this gala celebration of death and declared November 1st All Saints Day.  November 2nd was celebrated as All Souls Day.  A previous belief was kept  - that at midnight on October 31, dead children came back.  They weren't there to trick or treat, but for family to see that they were happy.

To remember their dead with love and grace, families and friends went out to the burial place, bringing food and drink (tequila without doubt) to spend the day with the spirits of their dead.  They tidied the burial plot, decorated it with such as spun sugar skulls, articulated skeletons, flowers, banners and ribbons.  There were special dishes, prepared primarily for these days.   All in all, it was a great fiesta and one eagerly anticipated as the days grew near to celebrate it once again.

Perhaps this celebration of death  results in the absolute fearlessness I have observed in Hispanic men.  Best example:  Puerta Vallarta - an Army pick-up truck in front of us with 8 soldiers perched on the sidewalls of the back of the pick-up on a road that was lavish with pot holes rocks, what have you and they were doing 60 mph.  Fearing an unlucky bounce and a soldier across our hood, we gave them plenty of room.  

Pan de Muertes is one such tradition - the recipe made me think of the Italian Christmas bread Panettone but without the dried fruits Italian chefs throw in.  It is also mildly seasoned with anise, cinnamon and sugar.

1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 package active dry yeast
1/4 cup very warm water
1 egg - the recipe called for two but never used the 2nd egg in the recipe - use your own judgement
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teas, anise seed
1/4 teas. cinnamon
2 teas. sugar

Bring the milk to a boil, take it off the heat and add the butter, spices and sugar
Mix the yeast with warm water and let sit 5 minutes.  Add the milk mixture to it.  Separate the egg and put the yolk with the yeast mix and save the white to glaze.
Knead this into 4 "ropes" and braid three of them.  Take the 4th and halve it making a ball on each end for "bones" Drape them in a cross, beat up the egg white and glaze and then bake the whole thing for 35  minutes at 350.

Please accept my best wishes for your dead.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Air Force 1 Always Flies with Body Bags Stored Onboard

This was about the most riveting thing I read in "First Women, The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies" by Kate Anderson Brower  $28.99  380 pages.

Brower covered much of what's here in her two previous books both covering the period from Jackie Kennedy to Michelle Obama.

Mamie Eisenhower was practically hauled kicking and screaming away from the White House as Bower claims she loved it the best (aside from Hillary Clinton.)  Hillary idolized Jackie Kennedy and being invited to a trip on the Remolar, Maurice Templeman's yacht, totally blew her out of the water. (Ha ha - couldn't resist.)

Pat Nixon kept to herself, as did Rosalyn Carter.  Given party issues, I found it surprising that Laura Bush and Michelle Obama are quite mate-y.

There are only four living former First Ladies - Rosalyn Carter, now 91, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush and Michelle Obama.

I can see that this would have been a wonderful source of both gossip and information had I not already read the preceding ("Next in Line") and first (The Residence") books.  

Still and all … body bags onboard?  Thought provoking.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Re-Visiting Laughlin or Pictures At Last

We are somewhat indolent when it comes to getting photos of a trip developed.  Richie will wait until we're going somewhere else and I will say, "Oh, well, might as well dump the phone shots, too.

With no further adieu...The Don Laughlin Car Collection - $2 per person.  The view from our room of the river.  It was mesmerizing.  Next are happy boaters (read: tourists) aboard the USS Riverside fan deck.
The fried deviled eggs with remoulade sauce.  Deviled my sweet patootie!

Our waiter explained the Gump signs - if you want something flip so the red shows - "Any server in the area will immediately come to your table to see what you need.  The blue side tells the server, Go on about your bidness; we're fine here'."  River views...