Monday, April 30, 2018

Be Of Good Cheer!

Ports O'Call is here until December!  To explain.  Some developer cut a deal with Disney Cruises.  Disney will use the LA Port for embarkation if the City of San Pedro would tear down all of the existing buildings along the water to re-build.  Ports was on the list.  My heart sank like a donut in a cop's cup of coffee.

So yesterday's news that they will be open until December caused quiet tears of joy in my heart.  A vast buffet and a constantly-replenished flute of champagne will live through the summer and fall.

And improvements have been made within Ports, too.  The dessert selection was: cut your own wedge of cake or pie or ladle of chocolat mousse, tapioca pudding, etc.  Consequently that area looked like a bomb had hit it.  Now it is delicate slices of dessert on little plates.  Just scoop and go.

That's not all - at the Salad Bar, the caviar is in a nice bowl, same as before,  with surrounding bowls of toasted baguette slices, chopped red onion, chopped hard-boiled egg - all of the fixins' for classic caviar less a lemon wedge - you will still have to scoot over to the Seafood station (wherein dwell peel and eat shrimp, crab legs and mussels) for that. This is imminently do-able.

But no rosy skies without a hint of gray ... Eggs Benedict?  Vanished.  A ton of bacon?  Alas.  I loved to get a couple of strips of bacon on my plate, slither over to the Eggs B and discretely spatula a poached egg and sauce onto the bacon and stealthily sidle away.  If this is the worst thing that ever happens to Ports ...
Contemplating the reprieve... 

Richie always looks worried when I'm the shooter.

I Still Don't Get It, But I'm Trying
"To My Trans Sisters, A Love Letter to our Community From the Women Who Understand," compiled by Jennifer Finney Boylan

The book is comprised of nearly 100 letters and includes writers, activists and media names.  I checked this book out because I was curious.  Wanting to be someone else, let alone the other sex, is utterly foreign to me.  If I knew what was what, I reasoned, I could understand this transition business better.

I read maybe 45 - 50 of these letters and then the same mentions over and over again, palled.  Every letter that I can remember stressed, "Be yourself!" which I thought would not be particularly helpful to  trans people be they Joe or Josephine.  If a trans doesn't know who they are, how can they "be themselves."  This is well above my pay grade so I wish them all a good and cheerful life. 

Even though two-thirds of the letter writers professed to have been sexually confused at age five.   Clearly kindergarten  in Kansas City, Missouri, was not particularly helpful in my later years for much of an understanding about gender confusion.   They meant well.  Learning to read beats everything else I can remember learning there.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

The Pianist

The pianist in this case is a woman named Gaynor Trammer and we first had the pleasure of hearing her last Tuesday night at Suzy's our local live-music-every-night bar and grill.  Tuesday nights are her regular gig, but if you miss Tuesday night, Wednesdays from 1 to 2:30 p.m. you can enjoy her playing in the Torrance Memorial Hospital lobby where a grand piano holds pride of place.  She also has daytime gigs at Silverado, a senior facility on Prospect in Redondo Beach.

She has a vast song book and encourages her beaming audiences, "Tell me what you want to hear!"  And rips right into into it with no sheet music!  This is awesome all by itself.  Her latest CD "A Time for Love" is a compilation of movie themes.  There are 28 different songs, all of them played by heart.  Which is kind of a "So?  What's special about that?" to her.

These local gigs indicate that she is slowing down from a career that sent her literally around the world on the Princess Cruises and her favorite ship, the SeaCloud, built in 1931 for E.F. Hutton and his bride Marjorie Merriweather Post.  At the time, it was the largest privately-owned private ship in the world.  The couple divorced, but their ship sailed on.

It's a great way to see the world - from a piano bench with free room and board and  a salary.  Encourage your kids to "See the world!  Practice that piano!"

Friday, April 27, 2018

Dining Out

from left - "D," self,  Mouton, Richie   
Second City  April 24, 2018

Once a month, the four of us dine together, restaurant choice rotating around among us.  This April, it was "D"'s turn  and he chose Second City.  

It's a habit to have an appetizer with our drinks and so we shared onion strings - lightly breaded, non-greasy and good and New Zealand Green Lip mussels.  The comments on the mussels were "Smallish,"  "Tough," but the sauce was great for dipping bread or an onion string or two.  

I dined from the apps side of the menu and had tempura shrimp - nicely coated, not that big puffy surrounding of air and grease and the"giant"  crab cakes.  $11.45 and $9.95 respectively.  The two crab cakes were round, slightly bigger than a golf ball and ... fluffy!  Nicely crisped exterior and quite tasty.

Richie and Mouton ordered a full rack of baby back ribs ($26.95) and the kitchen wasn't kidding when it offered a full rack.  I thought the two of them had split a whole pig.  They came with a fancy dancy kind of mac and cheese in that it was rigatoni, a creamy sauce with bits of chopped green onion all topped with bubbling cheddar cheese.

"D" played Official Table  Malcontent and critiqued his meal of oven-baked salmon with white rice and baked cabbage.  One whine after another -- "The rice could have used a little seasoning of some kind.  The cabbage wasn't baked long enough. (pause for thought) but the salmon was good!"  

We were too full for dessert.  We waddled up Richmond to the cars.  Of note:  There are no street parking meters in El Segundo which makes it a desirable destination if all of the restos served Ken-L-Ration. 

Dominque'  Thursday, 4/26/18
House-made chicken pate with red onion chutney and arugula with dressing, on left $6; toasted baguette slices, saucisson (French salami) and cornichons - French sour pickles $6

Six Bourgogn escargots $13

I had the appetizers for dinner because I wanted to save space for their dark and white Belgium chocolate mousse au chocolat $6.

Richie went for the big taste and ordered the slow-braised short ribs with pino noir, tomato, celery, garlic, onion and truffle-crushed potatoes $27 and ate every bite.   No leftovers for dinner tonight.  He'll have to make do with whatever he can scare up here, but for that matter, so will I.  I ate all of the appetizers.  

AND THE GRAND FINALE TO BIRTHDAY WEEK - Sunday Champagne Brunch at Ports O Call!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

More Important Than A Birthday

I gave myself a $1,400 birthday present when I paid for an ad on the front page of the Daily Breeze to hustle my book on my birthday.  You remember it ...

If you live outside of the South Bay (Torrance, Palos Verdes, Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo Beaches) you won't have seen it.  The ad lady said my buy covers 25,000 subscribers plus kiosk copies.  That works out to a per person cost of 0.065.  Very cheap until you remember the $1,400 part.

With a $4 royalty per $12 book, I have to (somehow) sell 350 copies to recoup the ad cost.  

But take a look at these numbers - keeps a list of sold books and their place on the Amazon charts.  From a rather dismal start for the book in the overall list - in the 4 millions, and 1,300,00 or so in Humor Books ...

The morning after the ad ran yesterday, here were the rankings:
Overall - # 128,489
Humor - # 565!  565!  I broke the 1,000 barrier!

Yesterday's royalties were $36.90
8 a.m. today - $44.80

Amazon doesn't issue a royalties check until royalties are a minimal $100.

I would stress again - writing is a business.  All very well, to lean back, scan your masterpiece and think, "Damn!  I wrote the ass end out of that!"  Now market it!  

All of us have a birthday once a year (ho hum) but tracking book sales can be a birthday (for joy) every day.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

April 25, 1940

Exactly 78 years ago, Al Pacino's Mamma welcomed him and my mother welcomed me.   It's a toss-up which of us looks worse today.

More to come including dinner last night at 2nd City, El Segundo; a nightcap at Suzy's and a visit there with an incredibly good pianist named Gaynor Trammer.  Spoiler alert:

Right now it's off to French class and the monthly 4th Wednesday of the month class luncheon.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Today's News

The Daily Breeze Editorial department asked:  Do you take Comey's comments seriously?

Publicity Seeker
James Comey is just another publicity-seeking Stormy Daniels ... in a three-piece lawyer's suit.
Nina Murphy, Redondo Beach

Monday, April 23, 2018

Boom Boom or Bang Bang?

Several times I saw Boom Boom Shrimp on restaurant menus, but was always enticed by something "better" in the shrimp line.  As Florida has one toe in the Gulf, so to speak, the shrimp there are uniformly large and very, very fresh.  They are, of course, flash frozen on the boat that got'em, but that is nothing  - they still seem from the sea to the kitchen to your very own mouth.

Even though I didn't order it, doesn't mean I wasn't curious ... Boom Boom Sauce ingredients - tartar sauce, sweet chili sauce, sriracha, sesame oil, cilantro.   Very nice, but exactly how much of each would have been helpful.

3/4 cups mayonnaise
2 T catsup
2 T sweet chili sauce
2 1/2 teas. garlic powder
2 teas. sriracha sauce.  This recipe is from a woman who admits that she adapted it to cut out some of the "hot" in sriracha.  I thought the garlic was kind of daunting myself.

Bonefish Grill offers Bang Bang Sauce

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
1/4 teas. sriracha sauce.

In addition to being used with shrimp, it is also considered a very fine French fry dip or slathered on the bun of your hamburger.

I wouldn't know.  Yet.  Trader Joe has the Thai chile sauce (pink for some reason)  in a tall, thin bottle.  And you can't throw a rock in a supermarket without hitting a jar of mayonnaise or a bottle of sriracha sauce.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sunday and Our Last Meals in Florida

Ruth Ellen met us at the hotel and the three of us set off for the Manatee Refuge in Ft. Myers for a look-see.  In addition to the manatees in a power plant discharge canal, there is a bird sanctuary and another for butterflies.

We picked a bad time to do this - it was Sunday - gift shop was closed; the "season" is December to March and consequently all of the residents - birds, butterflies and manatees were visiting Elsewhere.

Undaunted we walked over to the discharge canal to see if there were any manatees that had missed the bus out of town.  There weren't.

By now, it was lunch time so we went restaurant hunting.  Few and far on the ground - the Sunday thing.  But we did happen across Beef O'Brady's, 11341 Palm Beach Blvd, Ft. Myers.  Ruth Ellen said it was a Florida chain, but there were cars in the lot, so we sauntered in.  Big room, sports bar themed with 25 good-size TV screens and a patio that must have been as big as the indoor dining area.

Richie and I had a Stella each  ($11.50).  Richie was feeling a bit peckish so he was satisfied with the soup and half sandwich meal. ($7.49)  The soup was billed as Jerk Soup and appeared to be very fluffy rice in chicken broth with cilantro sprigs and jerk seasoning.  We both thought it could have had some kick to it which was sadly missing.  My order was a lettuce wrap of shrimp and cabbage slaw, Thai-style ($9.99)  Ruth Ellen said, "Oh, I haven't had one of these in ages!" and promptly ordered a Reuben ($8.99)

And off we trundled to meet again at 6:30-ish at Maria's Pizzeria for as much of family as we could scrape up for a family dinner.

But ... the winds kicked up, it sprinkled, then rained intermittently but we left in clear weather which changed as soon as we got over the bridge from Ft. Myers to Cape Coral.  It began raining which is understatement to describe what would be a monsoon in other climes.  Lightning flashed (happily five miles away) and thunder boomed distantly.  Meanwhile the rain slammed us (safely still in the car) with more gusto than I felt was really called for.  We get it!  It's raining.   Finally it waned to a point where we could splash into the place with minimal damage to hair and clothes.

Pull up a chair and sit down with us!  Ruth Ellen and her husband, the late Giovanni, and their two sons Alfredo and Joseph own and run Maria's which frequently wins "Best of "awards.  They have been successful with Maria's since 1991.  They have a reputation (deserved) for quality and use real butter, cream, primo olive oil, etc.

We ordered Bruschetta Rustica to go with our drinks ($7.25) and it is a slice of thicker-than-thinner Italian bread, toasted, slathered with olive oil, chopped tomatoes, black olives and more and  presented on a platter, artfully drizzled with balsamic vinegar.  Quite tasty and, um, I pretty much filled up on them.

Ruth Ellen and I had Caesar salads ($8.50).  This was all I ordered (because I wanted their homemade tiramisu for dessert) but Ruth Ellen got the Giovanni's Veal Special - tender veal sautéed with mushrooms, spinach, heavy cream, butter and Romano cheese over your pasta of choice. ($24.95)  Richie was in culinary heaven.  He loves Chicken Cacciatore and can never find it out here.    Just what he loved - chicken breast with sautéed mushrooms, green peppers, onions, black olives and pepperoni in housemade marinara sauce. ($17.95)

We drank:   Cabernet Sauvignon  for Richie and sparkling prosecco splits for me.  Can't remember if Ruth Ellen had a drink or not.

Now it was time for tiramisu!  Italians have a deserved reputation for generous portions and this was no letting down the side.  It was a square portion, perhaps the size of half of a concrete block and every bite was delicious.  I shared it - I had to not only because it was such an enormous serving, but because it came with four forks and I didn't have much choice.  Share or get stuck.

And thus ends our informal restaurant tour..  We were up at 5 a.m. the next day for an 8 a.m. flight home; no time to eat and the hotel resto wasn't open at that ungodly hour anyhow.
Dueling showers - rt.


A beach on Sanibel

The manatee pirate

Saturday, April 21, 2018

4:45 p.m. London; 10:45 a.m. Houston

Queen Elizabeth II is celebrating her 92nd birthday today.  The gun salutes are probably over in - Hyde Park 41 guns!  Windsor Great Park - 21!  Tower of London - 62!

Barbara Bush, 92, is being laid to rest in solemn ceremony- the 11 a.m. service is about to start.  Honored guests include four former Presidents - her husband, her son, the Clintons and the Obamas.  Many other notables will be there, too, and I read the list with interest.  A pair of names caught my eye - Keith and Jon Meacham.  Given the Bush attitude toward same sex marriage I was surprised so I looked them up  Jon and hi wife Margaret Keith Smythe Meacham are hetero and have three children.  He is a historian, she a former executive director for Harlem Day Charter School.

The service is clearly expected to be finished by 12:15 p.m. as the cortege will leave at 12:40 p.m. for a private interment at the Presidential Library at 2:40 p.m.  "2:40 p.m. to go from a church to a graveyard?  What?  They're going to hit the drive-through at MacDonald's?"

Everyone but me knows that the Presidential Library is in College Station, TX. 95 miles away with an estimated driving time of one hour, 29 minutes.  I stand corrected (and embarrassed.)

Barbara Bush had a tremendously good sense of humor.  I wonder if it's possible to attend your own funeral in spirit if not life...and if Barbara Bush is also waiting to see if Hillary will find some steps to fall down and what Michelle Obama will be wearing.

I wish her Godspeed as I think of the utter sadness of her husband, in his wheelchair pushed by daughter Dorothy, gazing at the closed coffin.  What memories he must have.

Friday, April 20, 2018

More Food? But, But ...

Saturday Ruth Ellen turned us loose no doubt hoping that we would be behaviorly correct and not embarrass the family.  She had raved about the Edison Ford Summer Houses, so we went to take a look.  Edison and Ford, both inventors of great talent, had an affinity for one another probably because of their shared day dreams that became reality.  Happily their wives and families found each mutually congenial.  Speaking of congeniality - their guest quarters were both larger than the houses they lived in!

The grounds were lovely and we enjoyed seeing them.  What was rather disappointing is that our "tour" of the houses was limited to such as standing on a veranda and peering through the windows.  Tourists are not allowed inside either home or the guest quarters.

Now it was time for lunch.  We had seen a place Friday called Ford's Garage during Ruth Ellen's tour  of  downtown Ft. Myers that today was doing a brisk business - the sidewalk tables were many and customers at every one of them.

The interior was themed right up to its eyebrows.  "Normal" wooden booths and tables and chairs, but few restaurants have an early model Ford car hanging over the bar.  The napkins were mechanic's rags with a c-clamp securing them.  A service bar was a rolling tool chest which had the cash register on top and the drawers held napkins, silverware.

This is the sort of thing that is cute, but truly touristy as was Doc Ford's (pretend Caribbean shack) and soon to be seen  Rum Runners.

The menu dishes were honored by being named for the Mayor, Police Chief and so on.  Richie had Ford's signature burger $12.50 with fries which came with a very good seasoning dusted over them.  I had a Caesar Salad (not a winner in my quest) $7.95 and we split a slice of Key Lime pie $6.95.  Two Stellas each for $25.  Total was $55.54 and portions had been extremely generous.

That night Ruth Ellen and her mother, Richie's Aunt Pat took us to dinner at Rum Runners, a restaurant next to the water, a yacht brokerage (no, we didn't shop) and very trying to be upscale (white tablecloths.)  Casual dress.  I can't remember seeing anyone in Sunday best the whole trip.  Just as well; I would have stared which is rude and would have been  a great shame to the family.

The room was vast, a big space here, another there all with some kind of water view, which wasn't really studied by us - too deep in conversation.   We had been seated next to the loudest groups in the whole place, but when we asked, were graciously moved to another area and we all sighed with relief - and could hear each other doing it!

We started off with drinks - Richie's usual pre-dinner tipple, a Tanqueray and tonic $8.65, a shot of Johnny Walker Black for Ruth Ellen $11.45, water for Aunt Pat and a prosecco split for me.  $10.50.  Aunt Pat ordered sweet potato fries $4.99 with our drinks - she just loves them due to the seasoning dusted over them - kind of peppery, but not tonsil threatening and kinda sweet, but no dentist would be alarmed.

Two orders of Gulf Coast pasta, $14.50 each, one pork tenderloin $22.99 and a Caesar salad and shrimp cocktail $9.99 came to our table..  They didn't list the Caesar salad amd I can't give you a price for it because I couldn't eat it.  Billed as "romaine" lettuce (pale, green spears of lettuce) what came was a jumbled, wilted mess o dark-green, big leaved something.  It looked like a pile of sautéed spinach to give you an idea.   I took one bite.  I wasn't going to say much of anything unless asked why I wasn't eating it by our server Kaitlyn but Ruth Ellen, a restaurant owner herself, rapidly called Kaitlyn over, pointed out the salad and said to take it away.  Lettuce qualities and colors were briefly discussed and I ate my shrimp cocktail and later told Kaitlyn it had been very good as a sort of appeasement for the salad.  There's no doubt I would have been a collaborateur in WW2.

I praised my sparkling prosecco which intrigued Aunt Pat and after I had given her a sip, she declared she loved it!  So she and Richie split another one.  I should note that Aunt Pat is now 91 years old, lives alone in a spacious condo, golfs, and just bought herself a new SUV - "I like to be up high," the straight-backed diminutive lady said.  If I get older (no one has shot at me yet) I want to be just like her.  Full of fun, full of enjoyment of life.

I am tired of writing about food for the moment and for all I know, you are all sick of  hearing about anyhow  Tomorrow we will polish off Beef O'Brady's and Maria's.  Stay hungry, my friends!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Breaking News - Richie Hits A Double!

How about that?  When he dictated it, he said, "Send it to both papers," and I thought, "I dunno about this ..." thinking (for no good reason at all) that if they both ran it, both saw it in the rival's pages, they'd strike him from their rolls of accepted contributors.  

And once again (quit groaning) "Write short to get in!"  Even with computers, there can be awkward leftover spaces.  That's our spot!  We own it!  Go for it!  A newspaper's editorial/letters page has a much bigger audience than the habitués of Smokie's Bar and Barbecue or the family dinner table.  

Share your thoughts and write of your indignation (if any.)   

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Eating In Florida

I'm trying to do this logically.  So.  Yesterday we got here.  Now it's time to eat!  It was a lovely surprise to discover that Florida restaurants on the whole are a lot cheaper than here in SoCal.

Friday, the 13th
Four Points of Sheraton Ft. Myers Airport - Breakfast
They have an extensive menu with surprisingly many Mexican breakfasts.  My scrambled eggs and well-done bacon and cheese quesadilla  - the eggs were the fluffiest scrambled eggs I've ever eaten.  The tortilla was warm and dry and cut in four pizza-type servings.  Richie wolfed down his sausage and eggs burrito with enjoyment.
     Our daily orange juice (fresh but no pulp which I welcomed) was served in a beer glass - the kind that has a pinched waist toward the bottom of the tall glass.  Generous to say the least, well worth the $3 each they cost.  We ate breakfast there Saturday and Sunday, too.  $23 +/- each day.

Friday - Lunch
Doc Ford's Rum Bar and Grill  Captiva Island locaton
This was a great place, a sprawling huge place with a vast veranda.  Even though it was a nice day, we ate inside as Richie's cousin Ruth Ellen, a longtime resident, is bored with the heat and I can't blame her.  It was about 80.  It was slightly dim inside and the a/c was nicely gentle, not arctic blasts as are usual in other hot climes.

It was a late lunch (3 p.m.) because Ruth had toured us all over Sanibel AND Captiva and it was so interesting that we didn't start yowling to be fed at the usual noon-ish hour.

Richie - 1/2 order fresh oysters on the half shell - $8.95
1 1/2 lb. order Yucatan Shrimp, the house specialty.  $15.95
A Stella Artois $6.25

Ruth Ellen - A fried Grouper sandwich with Tartar sauce $18.95
Generous shot of Johnny Walker Black $9.00

Me - Yucatan Shrimp, 1/2 lb. order $15.95  Comes with two generous chunks of buttered, toasted bread to sop up the sauce.
One split Brut champagne $7.95

Tab was $88 + 20% tip

The restaurant is used to recipe requests and after we raved about the shrimp, he put the recipe in with the tab.

4 T sweet butter
1 large garlic clove minced
Juice of two limes
1 T Indonesian sambal - this is the hot part and it is quite hot.  Turn it down and use whatever appeals that is milder is my suggestion.  Not theirs.
Kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
1 lb. large, fresh, shell-on shrimp
Garnish - 2 T chopped cilantro

1.  In a small sauce pan on low heat, melt 1 T of butter, add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
2.  Add the remaining 2 T of butter and when it melts, stir in the lime juice, sambal, salt and pepper.  Turn off the heat and let it all "rest" (from what is not in the recipe)
3.  Boil the shrimp in well-salted water for 2 minutes until they are just firm and pink.
4.  Toss the shrimp and sauce well, sprinkle with cilantro and toss again. Serve with plenty of bread to sop up the delicious sauce.

As we'd eaten so much for lunch and so late, none of us were hungry for dinner so we repaired to Ruth Ellen and sons pizzeria Maria's on Cape Coral to sit around on the patio with a glass of wine and visit.  Eventually we did feel a bit puckish so we split an excellent 12-in pizza.  More on Maria's later.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Where To Start? Getting There Is a Good Idea...

Many of you already know that Richie is retired from a Major American Airline (MAA) and as such is entitled to discount travel anywhere MAA goes.  We're billed for taxes and sundry other little things.

This most emphatically does not mean we fly with the same sang froid  of a paying customer.   We are very much the redheaded stepchildren - "Beat Us Up With Abandon!"   And accepting our kind  if somewhat masochistic offer, MAA does.  But then, when we get the flight we signed up for and we get 1st ... whale away!

Be that as it may.  Our flight to DFW (and thence to Ft. Myers) was loaded, the door was about to be closed and we're all just sitting there, bags stowed, books out, laptops warming up when the co-pilot comes on and informs us, "This is your co-pilot speaking, the Captain is in the terminal clearing some paper work for the delay we had for a slight mechanical problem.  That's all been fixed and we will be departing as soon as the Captain boards."

I said to Richie, "I'd prefer to think he's in the bar having one last shot."

Once rolling, we dutifully scrubbed the tray table, armrests, TV screen and controls with a wipe-on disinfectant sheet and settled back.  In my case, waiting for something to eat.  This was an 8:15 a.m. flight and we hadn't had time to eat anything other than a quickly gobbled pain chocolate" waiting to board.

As usual, I didn't pay any attention to the details underneath the photos of food available for sale.  There are set times for breakkies.  For flights that leave after 5 a.m. to 9:40 a.m. you can get a Continental Breakfast (basically a bagel and cream cheese) or harboiled egg slices and turkey bacon sandwich on a croissant which appealed and tasting turkey bacon might be interesting.  Due to our late start, and the 9:40 a.m. there was nothing but a fruit and cheese plate or a can of Pringles which didn't appeal somehow.  They did give everyone a packet of two shortbread cookies.

The aircraft was an AB-something and I didn't like the seat layout in the euphemistically named "Main Cabin" - three - aisle - three.   Same on the 737 we got coming home.  Business was the same layout!  First looked like it usually does with two - aisle - two.   Not that we got either.  But you know what?  I bet they got food!  And hot food at that! None of this 5 to 9 menu business.  No doubt MAA chuckles and says, "Hon, if you pay these prices, by God, we'll feed you and bless your little hearts."

Monday, April 16, 2018

We're Home - and Damned Glad To Be Here!

 But coming your way -

The Degenerate Gambler at Our Hotel

Where the Manatees Are - Not

Closing Down Four Restaurants and How To Do It

and more.

Friday, April 13, 2018

we're here!

We got here at 1 a.m.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

I Don't Like To Do This But ...

A blogger is supposed to write not appropriate other people's works, but in this instance I'm gonna do it.  It's a site called and it is a moving graphic showing the countries - by time period -  that sent us the most immigrants within that given time.

A teaser - Ireland led the field from 1820 on through to 1850 when the Germans took the lead.

A friend wrote back asking what percentage of the incoming immigrants had been driven out of their own countries and why?  Were they more casual about whom they let in back in the day?

The Irish fled the Potato Famine which was apparently horrendous - roads lined with dead bodies - men, women and children "buried" in the ditch.

From my mother's side of the family ... an entire village were Mennonites in Russia near what is now Poland (or vice versa.)  They rented their land from the czar who was proposing a massive rent hike.  This did not sit well with them; life was hard enough as it was.  During the head shaking and general gloom came news of the Kansas land grants - free land! so as to populate the young state.

A vote was taken, money collected and the village elders came over to check it out.  Back they went, full of stories of great swaths of lovely land.  So the village, as one, said, "Let's go!"  And they did.

Now we get to the pertinent part re immigration.  My grandfather was 12 at this time and all feared what Immigration would do if they learned the kid had conjunctivitis or "pink eye."  So they dressed him as a girl and explained away his reddened eyes as "crying for our lost homes."  They got away with it.  And they flourished thereafter.

My sister in responding to an e about this mistyped Iceland for Ireland which spurred more curiosity.  Few immigrated from Iceland due to their location - distant - and many were listed as Danish due to the fact that Iceland was under Danish rule at the time.

Who knew?  Even if you don't care when who came here, the graphics are pretty.  I admire the work that went into doing this interesting site.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Giddy Gaiety at the Library - Shhhh

Today is National Library Workers Day.  Who knew?  This Tuesday is only a part of National Libraries week.  I read that a proclamation was made January 25, 2003 to start this whole deeply intellectual week but not by whom.  

Anyhow, research would suggest that the library denizens do rather well for themselves.  Interestingly enough, the festivities are limited to library workers and not the general public.  I read wonderingly of parties with cake, raffles (small TV, hotel stay) and, in general, maximum gaiety.

Good for them.  If it weren't for libraries - which, please note - preceded Google - my IQ would be in a much lower place.  "Looking up stuff at the library" exercised my legs as well as my brain as I traveled from Biographies, to Dow Jones matters, recipe books and a great deal more.

I say, let us celebrate these daunting men and women and thank them by turning in all of our overdue books and DVDs.  It's not much... but it does show them we care.  Plus late DVDs are $2 a time when they're late.  

Monday, April 9, 2018

A Nice Idea

We're taking a long-ish weekend and going to Ft. Myers, Florida, to visit Richie's relatives on his mother's side.

When the Four Points by Sheraton Ft. Myers Airport confirmed, they included all of the information pertinent to them - breakfast $10 per person, free Wi-Fi, outdoor pool and so forth.  But I'd never seen this!  A seven-day weather forecast for the time we'll be there!  (Low 80s)

This is so useful when we pack for the trip - Yes, take bathing suits; yes, summer clothes - always providing, of course, that the weathermen/women have got it together.  Taking a sweater just in case.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Lazy Sunday

The Wanna-Be Mime
Teacher:  I don't think you're cut out to be a mime.
Student, looking sad:  Was it something I said?
Teacher:  Yes.

The Wandering Wife
Man to his lawyer:  I want to divorce my wife.  She spends every night prowling through bars and pubs!
Lawyer:  Is she looking for anyone in particular?  Someone special?
Man:  Yeah, me.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Haircuts, Nicaraguan Beer and a Great Dane

Not many can get an excursion out of going to get a haircut.  We can!  I deliberately booked us in at 11 a.m. with the thought of going on to lunch.  After all, for Richie getting a haircut at all is a traumatic experience.  He is clearly believes he is a life support system for his hair.  Some 34 years of suggesting, pleading, nagging on my part have done absolutely nothing.  Thus I knew he would be in need of serious sustenance after "The Rape of the Lock," so to speak.

El Segundo (Tonsorial Parlor, Dale Snowberger, owner and star cutter) has a surprisingly large number of people who go out to lunch.  Parking was problematical, possibly because there are no parking meters in El Segundo.  I stress this because  having to nervously pick at your salad and glance at your watch simultaneously is bad for the digestion.  No meters; no worries.

Rock'n Brew is blessed with its own lot and we quickly slid into a vacant spot.  We chose to sit out on the patio - for once the sun was out earlier than 4 p.m. - and studied the beer menu.  My eye fell upon Nicaragua - Panga Drops, Keller Pils.  8 Oz. $4.  The price alone would have been a choice factor for me.

But this time sentimentality ruled - "Raffish" our adopted nephew (and I always make sure to say that when introducing him so as not to shame his family by an association with us) has family there so to honor him - and have the can as Show and Tell, I ordered one.

It came with a stemmed heavy glass goblet and a "Stubbie" size can, i.e. half the size of a "normal" can. It's yellow with turquoise trim.  Here is the copy:

"Unfiltered, golden crisp and refreshing with a taste of Nicaragua in every sip.  Say "Hola" to the perfect craft pilsner for the beach, packed in an 8 oz. stubbie so every drop is enjoyed cold.  Adventure awaits.  MADE IN NICARAGUA.

I liked it for it had a very faint citrus back taste. And the little baby cans are so cute.  And don't forget the $4 part.

As we were finishing our LA Dog (me) and chili (Himself) in came a man with a jet black Great Dane on a leash.  The dog was huge, well-mannered and ate a naked hot dog in one gulp and these are not small hot dogs.  His didn't have mozzarella cheese, bacon, grilled onions, thin slices of fresh jalapenos and it wasn't on a pretzel bun like mine was, but he seemed to like it despite the fact that he ate it so swiftly I doubt there was even any taste.

We had a nice day.  Any excursion involving food and drink always is.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

"Get Me Re-Write!"

The Eurythmics, 1983  Sweet Dreams
Sweet dreams are made of this
Who am I to disagree
I travel the world and the seven seas
Everybody's lookin' for something                                                

  A Cheese Shop Window Sign, Unknown Location
Sweet dreams are made of cheese
Who am I to diss a Brie
I cheddar the world and the feta cheese
Everybody's lookin' for Stilton

Cheese lyrics courtesy    

One hour later:  cannot get song out of my mind.  Damn you, Eurythmics!    

COMMENT:  I thought this was really quite Gouda.  Tom T            

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Concidence? Or Alien Attack?

Looking at the pictures of YouTube shooter Nasim Aghdam, 39, and gun control advocate David Hogg, 17, in rapid succession it struck me that both of them look like the popular conception of what a space alien looks like.  Except that they weren't pale green.  

The round bulbous skulls, high foreheads, tapering to almost pointed chins, tight rosebud mouths ... slight bodies ...

I think I'm onto something here...

Tuesday, April 3, 2018


I only took photos of people; Richie free floated around taking pictures of cactus and the dogs.  As you won't know any of the people (much like me) and cacti are not unusual here pointless to run them.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Easter Adventures

My cousin Doug and his wife Jackie live on a 10-acre "ranch" and for years they threw an Easter Egg Hunt and barbecue with potluck dishes while Doug nd his brother Bob did the barbecuing.  I fell in love with the guy whose potluck dish was about a vat of pulled pork.  Doug and Bob were letting the smoke kind of drift past the Steamship cut of beef, a pig and a whole goat. They were not "welldone." Bob, the morning after, mused to the rest of us around the breakfast table,  "We got a lot of goat left; didn' invite enuf Messicans ..." Bob was the family's Designated Vulgarian.

As we all aged, they eased out of doing it in their mid-70s.   Sadly Doug died last June, aged 81,  and  Jackie decided to do it as a celebration of his life this year.

Cousins arrived in good numbers - I think there were 45 to 50 people as opposed to Olden Days when the record then was 103.  Of course, a lot of those were babies, toddlers and so on.  Today they are adults and I didn't recognize anyone under the age of 30.  I was at a distinct disadvantage.  Perfectly strange people were throwing themselves on me, hugging me like a boa constrictor and screaming, "I ASKED if you were coming!  OH, it's so GOOD to see you!" (smack, smack)  This is quite a bit more effusive than I am used to, particularly the part about "so glad to see you!"

I hope to have pictures tomorrow.

Meanwhile, we spent the night at the Days Inn, Hemet.  It was less than satisfactory.  Richie seized his vitriol pen to address matters as he saw them.  When he finishes it, I will print it here.

Dear Sirs:

On the night of March 31, a Saturday night, we had a reservation at your Hemet motel.  From the outside the motel looked great.  When we entered Room 126, it did not look so great.

As I looked around, I spotted black stuff on the ceiling.  Mold?  The room was also in need of a coat of paint.

As we had had a long day, we said what the heck.  We were in need of sleep.  So I went to get a drink of water - no glasses.  Next I looked around the toilet.  The seat was loose.  The toilet paper holder was not in use; instead the roll was stacked vertically - on top of the spindle.   The plaster was chipped around it.

The shower was next.  It was roomie but around the bottom was brown crud.  More mold?

To wash hands and faces and bathe, two small discs of soap.  And they were for two people?  C'mon.

Next I noticed the phone connection hanging out of the wall.   I sat down in the chair next to the phone, the chair arm was broken.

As I said, we were tired.  So we sucked it up and went to bed.  An uneventful sleep at best.  I gave up at 4:30 a.m.  The plug-in coffee machine was okay, but there were no cups.  I went to the front desk and had to wake up the clerk (sleeping on a sofa in the lobby) to get cups.

I had a headache and sinus pain - Breathing in mold?

I know your name is Days Inn, not Comfort Inn.
Sincerely, Richie Murpy

P.S.  Close the room, make the repairs and disinfect and paint the room.