Tuesday, December 31, 2019


"Doubles" above is not a drink order.  (In this case anyhow.  You're on your own in this.)

A sort of indoor hobby with me is writing Letters to the Editor.  And then waiting to see how Me vs. Editors turned out.   I am more than pleased to say that at least half of the time my missive runs.  The bragging is now over.

The other day I did a double submission and this morning my scream of joy announced that the Daily Breeze, our local subscription paper had run it.  And then my cup runneth over and both cats ran for Under The Bed when my scream announced that the LA Times had, too!  Yeesssss!

Why this one?  What had I written?  What deathless prose?    "May we all get what we want and not what we deserve in 2020."

I have championed "write short" for years now to aspiring others.  One could hardly get shorter and it worked.

And oddly enough it touched on a personal superstition for the New Year that I forgot to mention in yesterday's column.

I like to think that if you have a talent in some area - painting, drawing, writing, play a musical instrument that if you do it on New Year's Day you'll be able to do it (whatever) all of the coming year.  Happily these editors aren't reading this or they would put my name on some kind  of black list, never to be heard from again.

                              HAPPY, HEALTHY AND PROSPEROUS 2020!

Monday, December 30, 2019

New Years Eve Superstitions

Here's a surety, not a superstition - drive drunk, get caught, bye-bye drivers' license.

But on a lighter side, let us answer the deeply curious beliefs about underpants.  You will need one pair each of red or yellow panties (or boxers as the case may be.)   Turn them inside out and don.  What you can expect from this bizarre-ity

Red:  Passion and love
Yellow:  happiness and money
As both are always welcome, patchwork panties in red and yellow?

Red or yellow with contrast embroidery?

After about five minutes, excuse yourself and put them back on, right side out.  This part - wearing them right side to - will ensure a full closet all year long.

In Argentina where they practice the same superstition the color is pink.  (Possibly in West Hollywood, San Francisco and Palm Springs, too.)   Pink, red, meh  - both mean looking for love.

At midnight, open all of the doors in the house and let the old year out.

Throw a cup of water over your shoulder to wash away the year's tears.

Make a list of things that annoyed or hurt you in 2019 and burn it.  I think this might actually be therapeutic.

If you go out, do not take any treasures with you.  They will vanish in the new year.  With a concert grand piano, this is not going to be a problem.

Don't wash your hair!  You'd be washing out 2020 luck!  Or do laundry.  If you do, it, too, will wash away good luck or your laundry in 2020 will either get lost or you'll have a great deal more of it to wash.

In Italy it is believed to be lucky to line up 12 grapes and eat one per church bell bong for good luck.  I, for one, would prefer a glass of wine that used 12 grapes in the making of merlot say.

                                          HAPPY NEW YEAR AND MANY MORE

The basket of various-sized red and yellow panties is right over there by the skype hole on your computer. .

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Gelson's or Bristol Farms - Duking It Out For Most Expensive?

Both are upscale supermarkets.  Gelson's is new to the South Bay (Manhattan Beach) but Bristol Farms (Rosecrans, Manhattan Beach)   has been here some time.

In years gone past, I would go to Bristol Farms for exotica for Christmas presents to family on the East Coast.  Fig jam for Brie and crackers, being an example.  Back in the day when we entertained a hella lot more than today, I always set out chopped liver.  Bristol Farms was reliable for a number of years and then came the day I waltzed in to get some and when I said, "Chopped Chicken Livers was handed  a small bag with - O horrors! -  raw, naked chicken livers!  I thought 25 cents for the contents was very cheap!  Until I opened the bag.  And set a land speed record for getting back to the butcher counter and hysterically handing them over.

In recent years, Dee has liked to join us New Years Eve for champagne and caviar.  And there was none.  Bev-Mo?  Gone and they used to have a whole glass-fronted showcase of it with varying prices.

Yesterday, we decided to have a mini-adventure and go stroll the aisles at the new Gelson's.  If this doesn't strike you as mad adventure, remember that we are old and it doesn't take much in the way of entertainment.

Many were the sights we saw - a wine bar that serves tapas,(get about half lit and then go grocery shopping.  Uh, huh.  Not a good idea.)  a fresh sushi place but most wondrous of all, - a couple of shelves of caviar!  I scooped an ounce ($27) jar and in passing the meat department saw lobster tails for sale - $12 each.  Certainly cheaper than "market price" in restaurants; market price being $40-$45*  

Near the cash register, we found the bakery department.  A lime green frosted cake wearing a lei?  The smaller version - $48; the larger $52.  yes I am talking about one birthday cake.  It reminded me of the 85 Euros chocolate cake I once saw at Ladura's in Paris.

Also of note was the scarcity of customers.  I later read that high prices drive consumers away making for a much faster shopping experience with fewer people out and about and no hanging about at checkout.  Rich people, it was explained are happy to save the time  (snort.) It's much more likely to save the time while the housekeeper is out doing the marketing (and escaping house work..)

One guy in the article  sighed,  "I can always get my ostrich meat at Bristol Farms."

*Our second stop was Ralph's Supermarket where lobster tails were $4 each.  I bought three.  Do the math.  $12.  Sound familiar?

Saturday, December 28, 2019

"'This Is Goooood," she purred'

Then belched daintily behind her napkin.  What is "this"? you ask?  One of the best Reuben sandwiches I've ever eaten.  Where were we?  Richie, Dee and I?

The Standard Station Bar and Grill, 26 Standard Street, El Segundo  

What was the occasion?  None, really - just a holiday lunch.  Dee was the finder and naturally we had to put him to the test.  Here follows what we each ate and why it was so good.

Dee:  The pulled pork with barbecue sauce, cole slaw and tobacco onions (aka onion strings) on a brioche bun with French fries.  The brioche top was shiny from grilling; the cole slaw on the sandwich made it Tennessee-style and the tobacco onions for crunch.  For once it was a proper amount of French fries, not half of the plate space.   $13

Richie:  The Italian Melt with salami, pepperoni, mortadella, capicola, olives, peppercinis, red onion, provolone and Italian dressing.  He chose cole slaw as the side.   $13

Self:  Grilled Reuben with corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut on marble bread (dark swirled into white)   $13.  For once a deli got this creation Just Right - my sandwich actually had sauerkraut - many restaurants either omit it or add about five strands.  The chef gave the whole thing a generous splash of the dressing, too. I traded the French fries originally for tobacco straws with no fuss at all.

I ordered the churro dessert which is considerably up-graded from the ones you buy crossing the border.  These are cream-filled with caramel syrup drizzled over them and three great puffs of whipped cream along the side of the platter.  The server, of course, brought three plates and three spoons.  She'd seen us clean our plates.  She was very, very good at her job, too.

It's difficult to give you an exact count on the cost due to missing information (Richie apparently lost the part of the ticket that lists the item and cost which has been a godsend to me over the years of blathering on about various places.  Anyhow, here goes -

Three $13 dollar sandwiches  $39
One churro dessert                      6
For $45
Two 805 beers
One lemonade which added   $30
Grand total:  $69 + tip (always 20%)   Or $23 per person - and well worth it.


Thursday, December 26, 2019

Boxing Day, December 26th

Boxing Day celebrations go 'way back.  In England, it was the day that the mansion owner gifted the sarvints with sort of a yearly tip - money (in a box) given - along with a day off - to said help.  This was understandably better than Christmas Day for most of them.

Other box items might be a turkey for the family or similar food gift or a warm blanket - something to make life easier for them.

St. Stephen was martyred in Sweden but his fame spread as far as Germany where church on the 26th could be very exciting indeed.  St. Stephen liked animals in general but his pet love (deliberate) was the noble horse.  Thus there are race meets on Boxing Day.  There is even more excitement in a German church where horses are to be ridden around and through the main chapel.

How the world changes department:  a friend e'd from New Zealand that today the 26th the family was going to a movie "a tradition on Boxing Day."

If you can't find a movie about and starring horses, maybe switch in "Best in Show" and say, "What funny-looking horses" abut the dogs.  You're unlikely to get a box of money or a live turkey in a box from your boss.  But enjoy Boxing Day and I wish you many more of them.  Happy encroaching New Year!

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Family - Prix Fixe - Friends So much to eat; So Little Time

As a holiday treat, Richie and I go out to dinner Christmas Eve night every year.  Dress up a little (very little this is So. Cal.)   Last night Dominque's Kitchen got our patronage and this is what we ate.  Here is what the choices were from the menus given out -

Pink French bubbly (champagne, but they had to sound cute)  and Amuse Bouche - literally to amuse your mouth, in this case our mouths laughed at little two-bite pastry shells, two with glazed onion filling and the other two  with potatoes and cheese.   Just the right amount - gone in a twinkle of Santa's eye.

Appetizers - Parisian-style blue crab and wild Mexican shrimp in a somewhat spicy remoulade sauce.  The shredded crab and a little lettuce in the bottom of the bowl; four big shrimp hooked over the bowl edges.  For both of us
Creamy porcini and summer black truffle soup with a fresh herb Chantilly profiterole
Entrée - a three meat platter with:  Roasted rack of lamb with a Dijon and parsley crust,
pork and grass-fed beef filet mignon with pomme chateau, Farmer's market vegetables
and a shallots and burgundy wine reduction.
Lobster and crawfish with Morel mushrooms and broccoli florets, imported Italian pasta and a champagne and cream reduction  For both of us

Desserts - A mille feuille  (thousand leaves pastry  - which gives it the desired flakiness) with organic berries and Grand Marnier custard Richie - who would mug Santa for a crème brulee.
Five assorted French macarons  Me.

Dinner tab?  $80 per person = $160 +  $40  of wine for four glasses of our choices and not the chef's suggestions.  $200 and we've got a remarkable dinner tonight.  What the hell - it was Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Festival Goats and Sports Terms

I came across a ceremonial use of goats in Gavle, Sweden, that is said to date back to pagan times.  Today's goats there are made of straw and red ribbon, structures as high as 30 feet.  The pagan was Thor, who was believed to ride about the skies in a two-goat hauled chariot.  It was believed then that the last sheaf of grain bundled had magical powers.  Which were unspecified in the mention of this holiday for Sweden, Finland and Norway.

Arsonists make a game of trying to burn it down and today's massive goat is guarded by security cameras and right-there police.  In 2005 a man from Cleveland succeeded in at least setting fire to it, was seen, jailed and fined 100,000 Swedish kroner.  His lighter was confiscated as the judge didn't find him capable of carrying one.  He fled back to Cleveland and never paid the fine.

It's customary in Sweden for a small group of carolers to gather and go house to house singing their little hearts out.  Each home visited is expected to add a member to the group as they continue through the neighborhood.  It's a great chance to "hide the goat" (a small replica) in the house as a prank, another custom.

Christmas isn't the only goat fest - in Ireland, in the village of Killorglin, in the Ring of Kerry area, in August there's a three day (drunk) festival  celebrating the King of Puck ("puc" is Irish for billy goat.)
An innocent wild ram is brought in from the land, groomed, fed lavishly, fitted out with an elaborate crown. He even has a Queen of Puck; usually a young school girl.  At the end of three days, the goat is taken back to roam his former fields and the little girl gets ready for school in September.  We've seen this town during a tour of southwest Ireland.   There was a pub on every corner of the town square.  We were sorry to have been there in May and not August when the fun kicks off.

Not all countries and religions are as kind to their goats.  Muslims during Eid, said to be their holiest time period, slaughter a goat and family and friends gather to celebrate, apparently much as we do Thanksgiving or Christmas.  In 2017 there was a goat shortage in Palestine who had to come up with enough goats to feed 15 million people,  all of whom were trying to get/find one.    

In 2015 it was the year of the goat - or ram - in the Asian calendar.  Goats get around!

Sports Lingo, used beginning in the 1900s when if the team called you a goat, that meant that you were the dummy that moved wrong and cost the team a victory.

But then it devolved (with the help of rapper LL Cool J) to mean Greatest Of All Time.  Yes, well...

If you want to show a goat that you're not mean like those people in other countries,  contact goat farms and offer them your used Christmas tree to feed the buggers - goats will eat anything - only if the tree  has not been sprayed.

And mark your 2020 calendars for August and a trip to Ireland.  Sounds more like fun than freezing your chitlins off in December in Gavle, Sweden.  And - oh, if you go leave all incendiary materials at home.

Monday, December 23, 2019

In Which Richie Points Out An Error

He reminded me after reading yesterday's column "Flashing Forks" that I had clearly forgotten the most glutinous eating of them all.  Super Bowl Sunday.  If you are reaching for a chip or a beer, at hearing "Super Bowl Sunday" you didn't need reminding.

As usual, overkill on my part …
11.2 million lbs. of potato chips followed by 8.2 million lbs. of taco chips
1.2 billion (billion) chicken wings - flew away
8 million lbs. of guacamole
60 per cent of take out or delivered?  Pizza!

Little side note on the wings - the number eaten that day equals 300 times the weight of all 32 of NFL team players together.

$13 million for vegetable trays (amount of dip that usually accompanies these was not noted.)
$89 million in popcorn
$58 million in deli sandwiches

$1.2 billion (billion) for beer, flavored malt, cider, $5 94 million wine, $503 whisky

Avocados - without which no Super Bowl game could take place, are said by reliable sources (not me) to date back to 500 BC and were originally called "aguacates fruit."

In the '90s the game edged out of sports and into partying.  Whatever - if you can eat guacamole in front of a TV - let the games begin!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Flashing Forks

I never cease to muse on America's determination to EAT at every major holiday.

Toast the New Year in with lashings of champagne and caviar.  Bev-Mo used to sell it for as little as $70.oz. found in it's own little locked refrigerator (some as high as $200 per oz.)  They quit carrying it and I quit looking for it there.  The new Gelson's on Sepulveda, Manhattan Beach probably has it.  And closer to the $200 mark and up.

Valentine's Day - take your sweetie out or cook him/her a special dinner at home.

St. Patrick's Day - you're a pinko commie fag if you don't eat at least one corned beef sandwich!

Easter - Bring out the honey-baked ham.  Post Easter, use the leftover eggs for the basis of a dynamite deviled egg sandwich mix.

Mother's Day - if you don't take Mom out to the breakfast buffet, you are automatically written out of the Last Will and Testament.  The Ladies' room attendant told me that the now gone Ports O Call, routinely served 3,000 guests that day.

4th of July - hot dogs and hamburgers all around!  Don't forget the potato salad either.

Halloween candy to Thanksgiving turkey to Christmas which is where we are now.  "Alka-Seltzer anyone?"


Saturday, December 21, 2019

Ancient Amusements While Waiting for Santa

Long ago, well before even the invention and popularity of the radio (!) people of all ages and wealth loved jigsaw puzzles.   They gathered around a card table in front of the fire, sipped sherry and occasionally reached down to pet the dog at their feet and among squeals from the ladies and hearty guffaws from the menfolk, an evening passed in great entertainment.  Glancing back and forth between piles of oddly-shaped pieces of cardboard and the box lid which showed the completed work, people loved the sense of a successful conclusion when Viola! it was done!  And the compliments that ensued.  "A thousand pieces!  My lands! would you look at that!"

In today's world (and am not going to list them here) jigsaw puzzles have been elevated to an astonishingly different status.

My favorite site is jigzone.com a free (free - this can never be stressed too much) set of hundreds of puzzles and a variety of innovatively-sized puzzles pieces - traditional, birds - set bird shapes that interlock for a completed puzzle.  Euros, the US States - Florida is a give away; polygons  (good luck) bulbs, circles... Numerous choices for subjects, too.  Animals - dogs, cats, miscellaneous (camels, horses, monkeys) birds, butterflies, gardens, flower close ups, portraits, cities - St. Louis Square New Orleans …  Right now Christmas - of Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving among others, is currently running in the New One Every Day challenge to finish in the shortest period of time.  Number of pieces are your choice, too.  Start every shape new to you by getting six pieces (babies could do it) and on up to 279, your choice of shape.  The 48 piece Euros are my favorite.

All of this entertainment for free!.  And then you go to bed and in the morning, "Why Santa Claus was here!"  Sometimes updating an old thing into a new one can be quite entertaining.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Drawing A Bead On "The Best Caesar Salad in the South Bay"

This is quite a bit better than "runner up."  Yesterday the (formal) South Bay Writers Workshop/ (informal) Thursday Writers had their annual holiday luncheon at  Café 1511, corner of PCH and Avenue H in Redondo Beach.  They had the perfect place for us and it's called The Garden Room.

A curving booth facing a small one for three people and one wheelchair guest.  Previously, all of our choices (yes, we vote) put us at a long tables making conversation and conversing difficult.  To properly circulate, you have to get up - bench seating means you have to be Very Careful not to knock the person next to you onto the floor or mis-step and shove them into their food.  We have been trying for years to find a round table.  

Be that as it may and it is.  In other good news, they offer various beers and wines including a coup de champagne and thought it was not served in a flute, it was even better their way - a white wine glass and a hefty pour!  Ditto with the other wines.    Another point in their favor - swift, very good service for the 13 of us present.  As far as I know, everyone got home safely even if they had to roll from their car to their front door.  Portions are as generous as the wine.   So much for the bad luck of 13 at table.

I know this personally.  Our first visit I tried the poutin - French Fries with white Cheddar cheese curds and brown gravy - and it would have served a family of four and this was the small size!

So I thought I'd try them on a Caesar salad with house dressing and crispy bacon.  It was delicious - icebrg lettus well chopped and a lot crisper than Romaine which has such thick stems that if you're me, you waste dining time cutting the leaves off of the lettuce stems.  The bacon being crispy enough - always a concern; gah to nearly raw bacon - and it was.  Crispy.  And croutons which I never eat anyhow.   I shared them with the others as a petite hors d'oeuvres.  They went over well.

At $11.99 yes, it was pricey but well worth the money.  Their house dressing had just  the right amount of mixed flavors and the bacon provided the vitamin B.  No dithering about the menu next time we visit - a glass of champagne and a Caesar salad.  Perfection is nearing …

Thursday, December 19, 2019

He's Impeached. Now Can We All Calm Down and Get On With It?

"IT" being Christmas/Chanukah/Kwanza.

I came across a US News poll for (of all things) the worst U.S. Presidents of all (in a long line, I might add.)  By order of time period:

Benjamin Harrison - widely blamed for the Panic of 1893

Chester A. Arthur - won the election but he was not a party favorite.

Herbert Hoover made (or is said to have made) the Great Depression worse.

In a tie - John Tyler and Millard Fillmore  Both wicked but who was worse?  Dunno.

William G. Harding - one scandal after another Teapot Dome the  most notable

Franklin Pierce - set the stage for the Civil War

Andrew Johnson - impeached

James Buchanan - Refused to challenge states that had accepted slavery.


Richard Nixon  #15

Jimmy Carter #18

Gerald Ford #19
Side trip over to impeachment in the United States.  Parade led by Andrew Johnson who escaped eviction by one vote.  Bill Clinton just went on about his business while much of America grumbled in indignation.  (None of us were alive in Johnson's day; thus we can only speculate at the indignation roiling around him.)

The slap on the hand that impeachment means to me - just that.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Dear Santa - Skip the Murphys I Know What You're Bringing

Because Richie is Santa around here and I know exactly what I'm getting.  This is why ..

Thirty six years ago, when we were first married, Richie was clearly at a loss as to what to buy me for Christmas.  Picture it ….But I'm forgetting his first Christmas present to me when we were dating.  A bottle of Shalimar perfume (the real deal and not cologne) and a rubber bathmat for the tub.  "Your bathtub floor is slick."  I'd say that was kind of a shared present, wouldn't you?

Two years later, the happy couple is strolling through the women's department at Macy's.  She is looking thoughtfully at such as cashmere sweaters (go big or go home) cool jackets... meanwhile, He is running back and forth from say cocktail dresses and dragging them over to Her who is feeling the cashmere to see if it's thick enough.  He did this several times with the enthusiasm of a hunting dog bringing back a dead bird.  They might be twice my size or a color I hate and never wear but his enthusiasm never lagged.

Discouraged by my "Uh huh" responses, he goes to jewelry where I tell him that I don't need any.

I do find something I like and He says, "Well go look over there (pointing around a corner) there might be something else that you'd like.  I didn't so came back to find Richie putting his credit card away and the navy cashmere sweater I liked peeking out of the tissue in a Macy's bag.

Christmas morning held no surprises, let's just say.  Not in my side of the pulled-off paper anyhow.  I liked the navy sweater - exactly what I wanted - but not being able to use something you got before Christmas Day kind of takes the shine off.

Now years later, he starts asking me (in late August) "What do you want for Christmas this year?"

"I want to replace the toilet in the downstairs bathroom," firmly.

"No! No!  That's not a Christmas present!" he thunders.

"If you get what you want, it is!" I snarled.   Had some discussion on this  - He, "There's nothing wrong with it!"  She counters, "Well yes there is - it's round and the oval upstairs is much more comfortable and takes up less space!"  He, closing the discussion, "It's not a Christmas present."

This morning I remembered something I had wanted last year and that he also refused to buy me.  Target is selling men's cotton (I presume) sport coats with a Christmas theme - a pattern of green trees or red and green lollipops.  Which would look tres chic with jeans and a white sweater.  You can or could rather buy matching trousers which I didn't want anyhow.  I have that outfit in my mind and I know it would be cool for the Thurs. Writers annual seasonal lunch.

This morning he was even more emphatically against the awesome jacket.  "You'll wear it once!  A hundred dollars to wear something once?!"
"No," I could wear it every Christmas!"
"No, think of something else."

So I did.  I want to go to the 99 Cent Store and buy stupid things like reindeer antlers on a headband - last year's was "SELFY" on a headband and at the lunch we passed it around and photographed everyone wearing it.  That was fun.  So I want to go back an see what's on offer this year.  The price is certainly right for Richie … And who knows?  Maybe they're selling crepe paper Christmas sports coats?

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

HOOK - to hook you into the restaurant and PLOW through the extensive menu

The Hook and Plow restaurant, 425 Pier Avenue, Hermosa Beach  Google their menu to gawp at such as a black kale (and other stuff) salad.  It bills itself as farm to table.  They do bow to the fishing industry with various fish.

Monday, December 16th, 2019 was the December Dinner for us and Dee and Mouton, and the last of the 2019 once-a-month gatherings, largely to worship and alternately castigate the Dodgers.  I play with my phone during discussion time.    All four of us are happy especially when Dee brings a bottle of champagne.

The restaurant is very pretty in a non-rustic way.  I would estimate that the walls came from a dismantled barn; the tables are those round Big Pedestal farm dining tables, all painted white.  The main dining room is outdoors with working (and very good job they did) heat lamps.  Since it was in the mid 50s I wanted to find the warmest, most wind-saved corner inside, but the server (a beautiful Brazilian) was so convincing about the warmth generated and the pleasures of sitting on the sidewalk that we agreed to try it.  It was quite cozy!

I ordered the Bar Snacks to accompany our champagne "And put it on my bill," I told her.  They consisted of three small round steel bowls which held sugared almonds, crisp chick peas with Aleppo pepper and Castelv - something or other olives - in a herbal marinade.   As we are used to rather lush  offerings elsewhere (Dominque's Kitchen, Hudson House;) they disappointed.  $12

The three of them ordered a cup of the house clam chowder - $4 which arrived packed in the bowl with a green tracing  of something across the mountainous top of ?  Guacamole? asked Dee.  Wasabi? I asked.  None of the above,  We were told (borderline sneeringly) "Chive oil."

Our mains were:

Grass-fed beef slider with onion jam, Gorgonzola cream  $3.50  Someone's ide of a cheeseburger?

Roast pork soft tacos (corn) with white Cheddar, peach sriracha and cilantro garnish  Two for $8.   The only reason I ordered this was curiosity about the peach sriracha.  Never tasted it.  Never saw anything that could look like it.  Fought back bitter tears.

Richie complained that the beef slider was tough, all three of them complained that the slider rolls were too dry.

Consensus:  We'll we've been here, we don't have to go back.  Where shall we go in January?

Monday, December 16, 2019

Tinsel on the Rug

"Protest Nativities"  Perhaps in your neighborhood?

Christ Church Episcopal Church, located in downtown Indianapolis, IN,  has replaced the traditional and familiar manger scene with this version.  All three of the principals are in a chain link cage to protest Trump immigration policies.  This church is "Known to be politically active."  No!  You think?.

United Methodist Church, Claremont, CA has the trio divided into three chain link cages - not even the unity of all in one.  That's kind of sad don't you think?  

And lastly I have to call bullshit on Rev. Stephen Josomas, St. Susanna Parish who said (winsomely perhaps)  "Our goal was never to fill the pews.  It is to live out the Gospel."  Whatever one might think of his sincerity in this matter, he said it. And then had to hurry to catch up with a group of press he was showing around their display.  A three cager.

Whatever happened to separation of Church and State anyhow???

A Royal Christmas  Queen Elizabeth II rewards her faithful staff by sending out 1,500 Christmas puddings (Brit fruitcake?) and 750 cards.  I heard that she likes to decorate her own tree, one of three located in the Marble Hall at Sandringham.

Christmas Doings at the White House  I recommend   whitehousehistory.org which is rich in hard facts and intimate details.  A taste - The White House was wired for electricity in 1894.  Three years later in 1897, Grover Cleveland and his family delighted in the first Christmas trees to be lit - red, white and blue bulbs were the theme colors.  His daughters were thrilled to bits according to reports at the time.

The number of trees in the White House went up considerably under Mamie Eisenhower's reign.  Her first Christmas included 26 trees throughout the official and private areas of the White House.
In 1997 the Clintons upped the ante with 36 trees and in 2008, Obama downsized the number to 27.

The Trump theme for 2019 is The Spirit of America with four-star- spangled trees with an eagle topping the trees in the East Room; a Gingerbread house in the State Dining room.  Trees in the South Portico of the White House with a Liberty Bell, Mt. Rushmore,Statue of Liberty.   The Grand Foyer shows swags of 22 evergreens and 14 magnolia topiaries.  I searched and could not get the number of trees this year.  Annoying as I try to be factual.

White House pastry chef, Roland Mesnier will make yet another gingerbread house.  The first was five cottages for the George H.W. Bush family.  In ensuing years, a recreated White House (the whole thing) or the South Portico have been popular models.

He has to start the fruit cakes and their aging early because there will be a half ton of them.  So the kitchens start in early summer and then they are aged in refrigerators until the season calls for them.  Mesnier has written several books and I look forward to finding them in our local library.  I don't want to bake anything, (I can't stand flour on my hands) but I love the behind-the-curtain stories of the greats and not-so-much ones.

Now - go get the vacuum cleaner and sweep this mess away!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

A Poet, An Artist and a Farm Wife

My aunt Vera and her husband, Uncle Floyd, lived on a farm outside of Yates Center, KS, pop. minuscule, bought a farm in 1946 for $6,100 and paid off a $40 year note in a brief five years.  From my childhood visits, I remember that there was a water pump in the kitchen (water lines hadn't been put in yet) an outhouse some 40 or 50 ft. from the back porch.  They put in a bathroom when the water got to the farm.

They had to use oil lamps until electricity arrived and trimming the wick so it would burn evenly  and cleaning the glass was a big job.  Heat was provided by a trio of black stoves - the big one in the kitchen for cooking; the two middle-sized in the dining room and parlor which was seldom used.

 They raised pigs ("Don't sit on their fence; you fall in, they'll eat you!") a couple of draft horses to pull the plow and reaper in season and a couple of cows.  Vera sold milk and cream to a dairy - after separating out some of the cream for her uses.  Her whipped cream for various desserts could truly be cut with a knife.  My job was feeding the chickens and collecting their eggs, a great adventure for a six year old.  They bite!

Their farm was at the end of the road, and Vera named it Wits End Farm, whether ironically or in desperation was never known.  She painted a sign and hung it on the gate onto the land.  It was lonely out there, no close neighbors; Yates Center some five miles away.  Too far to walk, especially in a Kansas winter where, unstopped, the snow blew in with vigor -  and regularity.

Uncle Floyd was taciturn to the point of nearly not talking at all.  Whether he was the same when they were alone will never be known, but what is known are her poems, hand designed and painted birthday and Christmas cards.  Vera's grandson Leslie came across this Christmas poem, written July 26th in 1946.

'Tis the day after Christmas
and all through the flat
There are boxes and wrappings
Scarce room for the cat

The house is all silent
Except for Pa cracking nuts
And I go around munching
Too much candy and such

How proud of my presents
My loved ones have given
Sure looks like old "Santa"
Some good bargains had driven

My greetings from friends
Both near and after
Gives me a happy feeling
No loneliness can mar

I clear up the nutshells
The tinsel and trash
Take down the little tree
Once a beautiful thing

Put away the decorations
Carefully wrap the soap deer
Pack away each bauble
To use next year

There's a feeling of sadness
The girls are gone*
But I had a good Christmas
With everyone home

*Referencing their two daughters Mardell and Marjorie.

Saturday, December 14, 2019

First Responders! Att: for cats and dogs

If you're the owner of either and they go south on you for some reason, you're going to be the 1st Responder. Do not call the closest fire station; call your animal's  vet.

Tis the season and all that, but it's also the time of the year that dogs/cats are tempted to chew up the creche and all that lies within it but also the plants particular to Christmas.    The following are poisonous:

mountain laurel

1st - get them away from the source  2nd cautiously swab their mouth out with a finger;  3rd.  save any vomitus in a plastic bag or a small sample of whatever was eaten leaf, flower, and take it with you to the vet.  It can help in a diagnosis by your vet and instant proper treatment.

Another emergency help source is the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Poison Control Center    Website is   www.aspca.org/poison   Phone:  888-426-4435

Heloise said a consultation fee may be assessed.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Today is Friday the 13th! Hide or go about your business as usual?

About half of us are quivering under tables or beds in our happy place; another quarter are laughing and making fun of the "scaredy cats" and the last quarter forgot it was Friday the 13th and have carried on as usual.

 And then there are those of us (too small a number to make it into the statistics) who love this day and consider it to be lucky - "Huh? the fear and trembling crowd wonders?   All of the others are home and not making traffic snarls in the streets; planes fly marginally less filled; of course, you can the reservation time you want at a restaurant … all good things.

What can you do if you're superstitious?  These sound kind of made at home with loving hands-ish, but here are some remedies listed online.  Burn sage.  Go to crystals and stones; light a white candle, do a good deed and do not throw shards of a broken mirror away.  Since in many places, a broken mirror will get you seven years of bad luck, perhaps just let it be on the floor.  And for God's sake don't go padding around the site barefoot!

Another bit of advice sounds faintly pornographic to me ... cleanse your chakras with fresh flowers.  I have no idea what a chakra is nor where it is located in the human body and my would-be source on the matter (Raffish, MD) is out of town.  

If you wouldn't be freaked out about flying on this date, you could flee to any of the Spanish-speaking countries where Tuesday the 13th is feared.  In Italy, it's Friday the 17th.

British auto accident numbers  may go up as much as 52 per cent, but in the Netherlands, the statistics go down - there are great numbers there who stay safely in their houses.

Speaking of flights … the possibility of a flight going down on The Day is 0.067 but on any normal flying day that same rate is 0.091

Calme toi  There were two in America in 2019; next year in November, 2020, will be the only one. All you have to do is toast midnight tonight and skip gaily through life until then.  

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The Wine Popularity Contest

Curious, I asked whether red or white wines are the most preferred in the United States and now I'm sorry I did because red won at 60 per cent.  And among the reds the most popular is cabernet sauvignon followed by merlot.  (sigh)  No wonder nearly every wine list I've seen in any restaurant is heavy on the reds and light on the whites and rose might as well be nonexistent.  

Clearly my preference is white if I'm sighing.  And of the whites, I like pinot grigio and most emphatically not the chardonnays which always have too much cork and/or oaky flavor.   

So it is with great delight that I beg your kindness in my pimping a new white on me.  Honey Moon Viognier, specifically which is a delightful mouthful of melon, honey, apricot.   It's $5.99 per bottle which contains 600 calories - no more no less.  

It edges out my lovely Venetian Moon pinot grigio $4.99, 600 calories at Trader Joe.  I know that is popular because it's frequently sold out.  Which is how I happened to try the Viognier.  Always have a Plan B and the V is mine!  Try it - if you like whites.  If you're a red fan, well I tried.

Bottoms up whatever your tipple.  

Monday, December 9, 2019

Happy 103rd Birthay Issur Danielovitch!Perhaps

Perhaps better known as Kirk Douglas.

He was born in Amsterdam, New York, surrounded and (presumably spoiled rotten) by his six sisters.  I couldn't find a reference (one too many sisters?)  to his reasons for joining the Navy in 1941 through 1944.  Having done his service to our country; when he left he was a Lt JG.

I've heard that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.  Well, he served in the Navy in WW2 and that didn't get him.  The sisters, previously mentioned and Show Biz.  Chug on Issur!

Sunday, December 8, 2019


Loved comparing gun oil and Madeleines.  For a Proust fan, that was a riot.  Good luck on the book; love your writing.  Jim, LA

I just finished your book today an I must say I found it filled with amusing anecdotes.  I particularly liked Chapter 28, London's "friendly" bar.  I could just picture in my imagination how you recoiled as the woman pummeled you with kisses.  I liked your metaphor of comparing it to being caught at Pompeii.  I also liked Chapter 33: Impressions at a funeral" - it was not at all what I expected and I  laughed aloud several times.  The book was a good read.  D. Vermillion

Funny, and you catch yourself laughing out loud.  Where has Nina Murphy been?  Her new book "Word of Mouth" is just what the Doctor ordered for the summer months or any time of the year.  It is clever, interesting and full of surprises about some people you may have known or heard about.  Murphy says people are quirky and with that statement she allows us to see ourselves more clearly and with a sense of humor.  She and the book are a "find."  James Newman.

An easy cruise - Nina has the gift many authors lack; she writes as we think and speak.  No need to battle with excess flowery prose, just for the sake of filling pages.  An easy cruise through situations we have all lived in one form or another.  Well done!  APHS

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Who Sez So? Comments on "And the Best Block Is ... Word of Mouth

The Comments listed below are probably what gave me 4.7 stars out of a possible 5.  Disclaimer:  none of the comments shown here were written by me!  Scurrilous as I am no doubt; despite my oft asserted statement that I'm a mercenary at heart, I still haven't sunk that low.

Watch this spot though ...

This was exactly what the author said it was: little mental tidbits to nibble on while you're getting your oil changed or catching an Uber for dinner.  It's entertaining and just plain fun.  Now that you can get it in Kindle format there's no excuse not to give it a read.    Tracey Johnson, author of "A Different Place to Die"

Author Nina Murphy's "And the Best Blog Is Word of mouth" gave me a little vacation.  If her intent were to make me laugh, she hit the target.  I really enjoyed this book. .

Clever observations, reality in your face, unbiased opinions and random thoughts from someone who has seen it all, Nina Murphy is that crazy lady down the street that would make your Thanksgiving dinner conversations better than with your own relatives.  Highly recommended. Michael C. Messineo, author "Rigby's Roads"

A very enjoyable read.  I am thoroughly enjoying reading this book.  Perfect reading for the hot summer days.  Light, fun and interesting.You certainly have a way with words.  I have young grandchildren and sometimes during this loong summer vacation, you just need to escape and this is the kind of book that lets you take short breaks from the chaos and the heat.

Keep writing, Nina, I look forward to your next book.  I hope I can add to this review because I have just finished one of Jeremy Clarkson's books and I love the fact that Nina and Clarkson have the same style.  No flowery descriptions, no time wasting on superfluous stuff...just straight to the point, short, sharp and funny.  Love them both.    A  fan in Netanya, Israel

Nina, your book is incredible!!!  I've been waiting for its release since you told me about it.  In addition, I like the fact that I can go on your blog at any time and stay current without having to explore the hodgepodge of different dispatches in order to find out what is going on in our world locally and internationally.  I don't trust the media nor do I enjoy reading the news so reading your blog keeps me up to date and amused.  Your anecdotes, use of fun and interesting  language and most of all, your fresh perspective keeps me reading.  You've lived a very full and interesting life and you offer readers a very unique perspective into your life and the lives of others.  I look forward to sharing this book with friends and family.  Mattthew

To Be Continued

Friday, December 6, 2019

Back Cover

Or:  a further explanation re the contents of "And the Best Blog Is ..Word of Mouth"

WAITING;    Illustration is a slug turning into a butterfly to signify  waiting and the results thereof.  .

Do you hate to have to just sit there?

At your doctor's/dentist's office?

At the car wash when you've long since gotten over the excitement of watching your car go through?

Sitting at the gate, waiting for your flight's boarding number?  And you're in Group 6?

At the laundromat (unless it has a bar)?

For an oil change or minor auto repair?

For the bail bondsman to show up?

"And the Best Blog is" was designed and written for those tiresome moments.  It's a collection of short pieces so that you can start and stop reading with ease and not lose the plot line because there isn't one!

The mention of "Bathroom books" often cause a slight grimace of distaste in polite company, but a nice thick-ish book (196 pages) like "Word of Mouth" is perfect for those, uh, secluded moments; yes, that's the way to say it.  .

Thursday, December 5, 2019

"What's it all about, Alfie"?

Well let's start with basic information.  First and foremost, I am not named "Alfie."  You should have twigged this on your own as there are plenty of clues on this site as to the fact that I'm Nina to friends and foes alike.  (If you are a foe, please let me know at your earliest convenience. I will make every effort to fix it whatever it might be.)

What in this instance is the book I am touting so assiduously about?  From the copy on amazon.com

"Little kids go through a period when their every utterance is either "Why?" or "NO!"

I got over "No" pretty quickly but to this day I've never gotten over "Why?"  Why would anyone go three months without bathing just to live like they did in Tudor England?  It turns out that the Tudors were a lot cleaner than we might have thought in a land where people of wealth existed with only three pairs of underpants each - one on them, one in the wash and one in reserve.  Nice ones were left in Last Will and Testaments!

Why would any man be loony enough to go around marrying trees?  Some sort of bark fetish?  As it turns out, he is an ardent ecologist.  And in my not-so-professional jargon "bat shit crazy."

How did that pistol turn up in an old suitcase under our house?  And who put it there and why?

Why can you buy kosher marijuana in New York, but not Los Angeles?  Because New York has the highest Jewish population of all American cities.  And I didn't know the population figures either.  Double new info.

I like the quirky because human behavior fascinates me.   When something strikes me as odd, funny or faintly educational, I'm off on the hunt to find out more.  "

So, to answer your curiosity, that's what it's all about, Alfie!

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

OMG! Only 24 shopping days until Christmas!

This is not yet an emergency though.  Four days or four hours to shop IS!  But in an effort to be helpful to you, my readers, I have found a gift - among the very many - that you can order from your very own abode and have sent to your intended recipient.  No braving bad weather - talkin' to the East Coast here but it could be Southern California today - rain, lashing winds and the furnace roaring away.

It's a modest gift, gently priced, a perfect stocking stuffer if the stocking is a size 17 EEE.

It's my book "And the Best Blog Is - Word of Mouth" by Nina Murphy  196 pages  $12 or $1.99 Kindle  amazon.com   barnesandnoble.com

Monday, December 2, 2019

De-coding the Southern Lady Code

"Southern Lady Code" by Helen Ellis 203 pages  $22 

Although Ellis now lives in Manhattan, she was born and brought up in Alabama and she has not forgotten the rules for Southern Ladies and what they're really saying.

I am reasonably sure that no matter where you were born and raised whether as an Eskimo in Alaska or an Italian in Little Italy, Manhattan, NY, one or more of your mamas stressed to you " If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.  The Southern Ladies, however, have also been instructed  "Say something not so nice in a nice way."  "Bless her heart" plays strong for this. "She's got a rack like a loaf of WonderBread and she's jes' so proud of them (insert bless, etc. here)

It's an amusing book, if you find Southern isms funny or educational.  The funniest I've read so far in this genre is Southern Funerals.  Hint:  pimento cheese (not Velveeta), deviled eggs and Co'Cola cake  are mandatory for the funeral afters.

I enjoyed this book except for the chapter on watching porn like a lady.  Flat doesn't make sense given the nature of porn itself.  Other than that .. hit'er!

Saturday, November 30, 2019

New (?) Fun for the Family

Yesterday my sister sent me a picture of her (and husband's) first grandchild, a not-so-little girl now at eight months.  Seeing her reminded me of an off-hand comment by my sister.  "She looks just like Steve (her Daddy) as a baby!"

When a baby is first born "He/she looks just like (fill in relative)!" is often heard.   Too late now for Thanksgiving and the presumed gathering of the clan, but what if everyone - immediate family - brought a baby picture of themselves and added it to a bulletin board or down the festive table prior to eating there?  Think police mug shot books.  

There will undoubtedly be disagreements "Oh, you never had dimples like so-and-so!" and argumentive tones may be in use.  Better than taking the butter knives to one another yelling about politics!   If there are no new babies at the time of the gathering, borrow someone else's kid!

Newborns aren't exactly at their most photogenic days after birth anyhow.   If you've been lavish with the pre-dinner drinks, no one is going to recognize that it's a stranger's baby anyhow!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Leftover Turkeys

Mistaken - Correction 
It has been wrongly reported that the mild earthquakes that occurred at around 5 p.m. yesterday across the United States were the end of the world.  They were not.  What they were was everyone who had generously served themselves from the Thanksgiving feast all burped/belched at the same time.  

Remembering the Dead and being thankful for their company
Tombstone Division

 Here lies Noah Scape
He always felt trapped

A husband and wife twin tombstones.  His read Stupid; hers, I'm With Stupid

   Here lies John Yeast
Pardon me for not rising

(Somewhat mean-spirited)
Here lies my wife
I bid her goodbye
She rests in peace
And now, so do I

This one has an Irish lilt to it, I think

Uncle Walter loved to spend
He had no money in the end
But with many a Whiskey and many a wife
He really did enjoy his life

Rejoice for lunch today!  A turkey and dressing sandwich on air bread (white Wonder bread or similar) lay on the mayo!  Tragically I didn't make enough dressing.  Turkey and gravy with a slice of raw onion?  Barbecue sauce instead of mayo?  Don't forget the dill pickle to nibble on with your sandwich.

Lastly - Happy 92nd Birthday Vin Scully!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Let's Talk Turkey

Many of us will be seeing one very shortly.  Here its 9:30; thus 12:30 on the East Coast and … the oven door is sliding quietly, quietly shut .  Another excellent meal on the way to our rumbling bellies.

Not however in Japan (God knows what time it is there right now anyhow.)  Thanksgiving is not celebrated there.  In stark contrast, many of the Japanese celebrate Christmas when the big holiday treat has been KFC!  That's right - Kentucky Fried Chicken!  Since 1974 when the good people at KFC tried a new market.  It was a  hit alright, some 3.6 million families buy it every year!  Reservations at your favorite outlet are encouraged.  Reminds me of pre-ordering a honey-baked ham for Easter where if you snooze, you lose.

Who eats more turkey than us?  This surprised me and may well you -  Israel!  They log in with an average of 25.4 lbs. per person!  Here we're a very poor second with 17.5 lbs. per person.

Paltry amount or not, the top turkey-producing US states are Minnesota, North Carolina, Arkansa, Missouri and Indiana or 2/3rds of all turkeys produced for US consumption

Perhaps you have heard denigrating expressions such as, "Turkeys are so stupid that they drown in the rain."  They keep their faces turned up to the sky, if you didn't know.   For awhile, people denigrated others in friendly conversation as "You turkey..."

Top speed on a domestic turkey?  20 mph.  A wild turkey?  50-55 mph.  How come?  Domestics are bred for size and weight and they literally are bogged down by their own bodies!

Lastly the heading for this column "Let's talk turkey" does not mean that you and friends don't lift a few and start gobbling, replacing the American language as we know it.  Several meanings; among them - to speak affably or frankly and it was first noted in a newspaper article in 1824 and
 still (sadly)
no one seems to be fluent in talking like a turkey. (Damn you computer)

Sidebar:  This morning Richie brought me up to sped on local weather conditions.  At 6:50 a.m. it was 47 degrees and raining like a bastard.  Now even granted my stupid-as-a-turkey status, even I could see and hear it on the skylight pounding rain.  It was the 47 degrees that startled me.  Now at 5 to 10 a.m. it is soaring!  48 degrees!  Hmmm I bet that if everyone in Redondo Beach who is roasting a turkey and they left the oven and front doors open a sliver we could get it up to 50 by 2 p.m.!  Definitely a "think about."  The hell with the gas bill.  Mass turkey roasting does only happen once  year...Spend a little!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Mandatory Reconnaisance

The South Bay Writers Workshop.com (aka Thurs. Writers) has two social events per year.  Only two? you say in disbelief?   Ahem, I would have you know that we are a Serious Group of writers.  Not a plumed pen amongst us.

These two annual glam events are held to celebrate the Summer Solstice and  Christmas.  Both are luncheons; we're mostly all too old to drive in the dark.

We do this necessary party planning by vote.  The Thursdays available in December come first.  At the moment 12/19 is ahead, but the 12th seems to be inching forward.

Next up is which restaurant.  Suggestions are filed, voted on and the restaurant is chosen.  Rock'n Brew, Riviera Village, has been the choice at least four times so far.

Criteria include free parking, comfortable group seating with  round booths, not long ones, and a relatively quiet noise level.  With anywhere from eight to 14 of us, we can generate our own noise, thank you.  

I found a new one for the vote.  1511RedondoBeach.com  It has ample free parking, several huge crescent-shaped booths, a varied menu, big portions and reasonable prices.  Very nice, but is the food any good?!

To find out, Richie and I had lunch there yesterday.

It used to be the Redondo Beach Café, then ownership passed along and at least two other places have now been replaced by 1511.  The new owners have really spiffed it up and while this is a cliché the interior is absolutely sparkling clean.  (Always reassuring.)  Our server Leo was good waiter-ship personified (Ladies, he is also hot, hot, hot!")

The menu is varied with Greek salad, gyro sandwich and two other dishes.  Quebec is represented by Poutine which is their national dish as escargot are to France.  It's a generous serving of French Fries topped with white cheddar curds and a rich brown gravy.  Back to France, they serve crepes for dessert.  Along with American cheesecake and apple pie. The menu is four pages of various items.  Breakfast is served all day.

So what did we have for lunch?  Richie went for huevos quesadilla which comes with cole slaw $11.59.  I had the Portobello burger which consisted of a possibly mutant-sized Portobello with melted white cheddar, tomato, lettuce, and sliced avocado.  $12.99  Leo had subbed in a small portion of poitine instead of cottage cheese or fruit or whatever.  $4.  A small portion would have been more than ample for four people.  And they would have relished it.  Good food, properly prepared with splashes of exotic.  I will recommend it to my fellow writers.

Pricewise, reasonable.  $28.58 before tax; water only.  Did I mention the ample free parking?

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

French Conversation

This is a Tuesday class at the Hermosa Beach Community Center.  There are usually between 8 to 12 of us and to our collective amazement, one of us is a poet!

And we all liked what follows - his other offerings have been in French and in translation, they are very different.  Ron confided that getting phrases to rhyme in French is a great deal harder than working in English.  Here's one in English.

Cat Got Your Tongue?
    by Ron Percuoco

What's the matter?
Cat got your tongue/
They say youth is
wasted on the young.

Whiskers here - whiskers there
Whiskers flying everywhere
Feline foes fighting fiercely
Folks -- it's aa cat fight.

Drink my milk - purr for my master
A cat's life is hard to master.
But for me there's always hope
I have eight more lives to help me cope

Kitten sitting on a rug
Use my claws to kill a bug
I hope my kitty litter's new
Acting aloof is what I do

Persian, Angora or just a stray
I arch my back to show dismay
I'll lick your hand if you pet me twice
A ball of yarn would sure be nice

I'm cousin to lion and leopard and such
I'm soft and furry to the touch
I don't get out now very much
Trapped like a rabbit in its hutch

Did you like my little ditty?
Won't you tell this pretty kitty?
What's the matter?  Cat got your tongue?

Monday, November 25, 2019

Mad Hatters and the Not So Mad

Watching an episode of "Inspector Morse" last night, one of the characters popped up on-screen wearing a (very) floppy beret.  He didn't look French (but he did look silly) and he did have an English accent.  And I wondered to myself (Richie would not have been particularly interested in the subject of mens' hats)  whether the well-dressed Englishman would be wearing one?  And didn't berets begin with French artists?

Which started me wondering about specialized hats and their beginnings.

Beret - French Chasseurs Alpine began wearing them in 1889.  They drifted into use by the British Royal Tank Regiment  during WW1 when it was discovered that they stayed on when the wearer entered or exited small-doored tanks.

Bowler hat - As famous as a beret in France, the bowler hat is synonymous with fleets of British businessmen charging around The City.   Brothers Thomas and William Bowler created them for the 2nd Earl of Leicester in 1849.  Reason?  The top hat, more normally worn until then was too easily knocked off. And yet I believe that scholars at Eton? Oxford? wear robes and top hats to class every day.  Trying to toughen the lads up by fighting over their hats every day?  Is this how the University teaches "The Art of War"?

Cowboy Hat - Surely any American can tell you why cowboy hats were invented.  Wearable shde trees!  But wait!  in the 13th century, Mongolian horsemen wore them or a very near substitute.  But in nearer times, one John B. Stetson adapted it for American use in 1865.  They've been uni-sexy ever since.

Baseball cap - The first ones were made of straw (!) and the first team to use these then caps, was the New York Knickerbockers on April 24, 1849.  Later circa 1851, they were made of fine merino wool and the visor/bill emerged.

Yellow Sou'wester rain gear hats. - First used in England by fishermen and presumably named for the Southwest prevailing winds around the United Kingdom.  First responders and airline bag busters wear them, too.

Finally (Most gloriously?)  the ladies' Ascot hat.  Glorious concotions made of feathers, plumes, structural steel for all I know and range in price from $499 to $6,000 for custom designer work.  It has developed into a contest among the ladies for most spectacular success.  There are tons of informal assignment of Bests:  Most Spectacular, Most Inventive, Most Amusing, etc., etc.
So popular has this custom costume party become, that fancy hats have traveled to America for the Kentucky Derby.    I've seen some doozies, admittedly, but nothing like what is shown at Ascot.    Where P.S. you can RENT an Ascot hat!  Can't you just see the Duchess of Thisnthat screaming at  another lady, "You bitch!  That's my hat!  I wore that last year!"  And the retort might be, "Shouldn't have sold it to the secondhand shops, darling.  That hard up that you have to cash in your Ascot hat?  Tsk, tsk."  Hairpulling ensues.

Both hats utterly destroyed.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

An Inadvertant Omission

Re:  November 11th's Column "Just Joking Around,"  Jay Not Z gently chided me for omitting his beloved pet - Cat Mandu.  Our apologies.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

TV Tidbits

Sicilian Lemonade
Rick Steves was visiting Sicily (pretty place) and he and "my friend and fellow tour guide" stopped at a street-side café for a glass of lemonade.  It's so simple I could do it thus, it appeals.
Tall glass, lots of ice, amount of pure lemon juice that appeals; fill up with soda water and a pinch of sea salt.  My first thought was, "Do-it-yourself Gatorade?"  Sure sounds like it would be good for body fluid replenishing in the summer.  If you already have your 2020 Calendar, mark July for this version of lemonade.  Going to France?  Same recipe minus the salt and sugar added instead.

Vaping Discourse in White House meeting with manufacturers
 I wonder which seller put in this ad in Vaporous, The Journal of the Perpetually Wreathed 

Tired of your teen age kids?  Endless whining, eternal toilet tongues, refusal to help around the house - and then think of forth-coming university fees for these ungrateful barbarians?  Eliminate all worries and irritations, introduce them to your neighborhood vape dealer!  The oils are not expensive - $2.99 for  10 ml; $6.99 for 30 ml. and for holidays, 480 ml for $59.99

It's habit-forming, very bad for you and comes in seductive sounding flavors.

The Summer Solstice, a combination of ripe oranges, strawberries, pineapple, banana and coconut rum.

The Cowboy Cooler, mixed berries (weren't specified), blueberry cheesecake and menthol

Other popular taste sensations - buttered popcorn, cotton candy, vanilla, strawberry and banana.

Just make sure your health insurance is up to date - the creamy varieties -ice creams, cheesecakes are said to be lethal to the vapor's lungs.

 On the other hand … certainly solves disrespect around the house on a daily basis...when they can't mouth off because they can't breathe...You did your job as a caring parent; you told them it was bad stuff, but did they listen?   You reap what you sow is still a truism.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Just Joking Around

Have a larf as our across the pond friends would say - What did one snowman say to the other?

"Yeah, I smell carrots, too."

What's red and white and falls down chimneys?  Santa Klutz!

The progressive farmer sold fresh tomatoes from his roadside stand.  One potential purchaser asked him suspiciously, "Are those tomatoes," jerk of his chin at them, "Genetically modified?"  "No, not at all," said the tomatoes

Some cat names for your consideration …
Isaac Mewton     Farrah Pawcett     Reese Whiskerspoon     Yoyo Meouw     Obi Wan Catnobi

The Great Catsby     Winston Purrchill     Draco Meowfoy  (? who dat?)

Speaking of animals - don't do this.  "My Mom's furious with me - I let her dogs see their Christmas presents and so now I've ruined their Christmas."

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

March, 1995

Is the date on the copy of Esquire magazine that Richie found lurking in the garage.  There are numerous other treasures on the horizon including ancient French tabloids.  My friend Marcelle used to pass them along to me as an explanation.

As it happens I was surprised to find that if you type:  March 1995 Esquire magazine - up that issue pops!  It has Sharon Stone (then 37) wearing what looks very like a flesh-colored, very snug fitting pair of long johns and some kind of dorky looking work boots.  Three husbands and three adopted sons later, she is now 61.

The writer's interview with her was that kittenish style of writing that I had forgotten all about.  The cover line is  "Are You Man Enough For This Woman?  Sharon Stone gets naked with Bill Zehme."  Spoiler alert it was on twin masseuse tables at her house not in a bed.  Zehme got accidentally naked when the table collapsed underneath him as he was climbing aboard, so to speak..  Stone guffawed and the Asian masseuses giggled.

It was interesting to see in this 1995 issue ads for men's clothing fashionistas who today are gone and probably forgotten.

Much like the beloved Cosmo (at a certain age) always have a test yourself - because we all love us - is not ignored in these pages.  Cover blurb is Getting In Touch with Your Inner Number.  This refers to a new psychological understanding of your inner self with a series of 52 choices; each being an opposite such as Sheltered  or Out there.

Google Enneagram for a free test.  I took the short version because I pretty much know me (hungry at the moment)  but how to figure your score was incomprehensible so am leaving it at that.

See for yourself - git googling

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Dinner at a Very Posh High School Cafeteria

Such as one might find at Beverly Hills High or Friends, Washington DC  White tile galore, plain tables and bare chairs (chair cushions available on request?)

The occasion was our monthly dinner - Dee, Mouton and us.  It was Mouton's choice and it was Pier 76 Fish Grill, 2181 Rosecrans, El Segundo, CA  310-616-3178.  I googled a picture of the place and was surprised to find a one or two story site.  I say that because Rosecrans is largely composed of tall office buildings.   Many of them have very posh restaurants indeed on their ground floors; but Pier76 looks like a perfect lunch take-out place mainly because you peruse the wall-mounted menu board, order, are given a table number and sent off to sit there until your drink and meal are delivered.

Pier 76 was something of a surprise to me as it was a rare thing for us to NOT be sitting in a place with booths, white napery and menus slightly shorter than the New York  phone book with a separate wine list.

However the wall did display some choice items on the menu.  I ordered a glass of rose and it turned out to be a generous pour in one of those bowl-shaped stemless glasses.  $5.75 - of note, all of the wines are house and $5.75 each.    Dee had a chardonnay.  Mouton and Richie had a beer apiece.  Richie's Stone IPA was $6.50.  Dunno if all beers there are priced the same as wine fits dinner a little better (in my mind if nowhere else.  Wanna be sophisticate here.)

The appetizer was killer - popcorn shrimp in a honey sauce (the shrimp carried the flavor) and lashings of grilled Shishido peppers which, frankly, looked like dead seaweed hardly appealing and 'way too many of them. $7.95   For dinner I ordered the Maine Lobster Roll which came on a doorstop of split, broiled bread.  $18.95

Whenever Richie's offered clam chowder, he'll order a cup of it.  Dee and Mouton joined him.  Richie was the only one not to like it - "Too much oatmeal," he said.  $4.95.  His main course was Shrimp Tacos $2.99  The menu should say naked shrimp tacos because the only extra was a cup of black bean soup.

Our tab was $47.09 before tax, $51.57 with it.   I'd go back for those popcorn shrimp in a heartbeat, high school cafeteria style, upscale or not.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Still in the Kitchen; Different Chef

Richie made Seared Scallops with Brown Butter and Lemon Pan Sauce.  It was quite tasty:  Alert:  It is no substitute for roast turkey on a Thursday coming up.  Turkey Thursday Thanksgiving is sacred in many circles.

12 large dry sea scallops
juice of three lemons  or 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
small handful of chopped chives
sea salt and pepper
  2 to 3 T Extra-virgin or vegetable oil to coat skillet - heat till it begins to shimmer
3 T sweet butter cut in chunks
2 teas. drained capers

Season the scallops with salt and pepper to your taste and saute them face down until brown on that side and translucent on the other side and gently flip them over and cook that side.  Set them aside and add the butter, capers, lemon juice in the now-empty pan and stir and swirl.  Plate the scallops and pour the sauce gently over the scallops.

Haven't seen capers for some time and at first glance they looked like 'way overcooked frozen peas.  Next time he makes it, I suggested real lemons as bottled are sourer than an old maid at a cotillion.  

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Saturday Class

 Story after it's happened.  French from 2 to 3:30 p.m. and where we go after it.  And it's NOT ooo-la-la!

No one wanted to go for a beer so Himself and I took ourselves to the Pitcher House and had one.  Saturday afternoons are particularly nice for having a beer.  You put the tools down Friday, ran the errands Saturday morning and Sunday is lie-in day.  Hidden gems in Saturdays, eh?

I'd done the prep work for making chili prior to going to class.  So dinner was an easy job.  While stirring it I had an idea ...  French onion Soup as all of us who've ever eaten it comes in an oven-proof bowl, topped with toasted bread slathered in Swiss cheese which has melted over the bread.

What if you flipped the ingredients over?  Hmmm... then remembering I had those small 4 in. tortillas in the refrigerator, I got out two cereal bowls about 5 in. across with 2 in. sides.  Gave their interiors a good shot of spray Pam, nuked the tortillas and put the in the bowl and then topped them with slices of cheese.  When the chili was done, pour it over this mess and eat.

I could have used a little more of the juicy part of chili and Richie complained that it wasn't flavorful enough, but all in all I'd do it again with those caveats firmly in my mind.

Friday, November 15, 2019

To My Surprise and Petty Theft 101

Yesterday's mail brought me my first ever letter from the wife of a sitting president.  (Melania Trump.)  After I ripped it open, foolishly expecting a desire on her part to be besties, and saw that like so many in politics, she just wanted a donation.  Still after reflecting on getting a letter from her, I began to feel a little miffed that I'd never heard from Nancy Reagan, Betty Ford, Laura Bush.  I probably did from Hilary Clinton - she seems willing always to accept a little cash - but none of the others.  As it is said in French "tant pis" or "too bad."

Now on to this petty theft business.  On a Web site this morning I ran across a featured segment on Jimmy Kimmel Live! that shows celebrities' reactions to mean tweets about themselves..

So, in the interest of witty snipes, may I present?

"I would rather listen to a barn full of baby pigs being vaccinated than (listen to the band or singer of your choice.)

"So and so's audience must be the people who taste the gas before they fill up with it."

"That band (fill in) looks like they travel in a white van with "Free Candy" signs all over it."

Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Recommendation For Those Who Like to Go Backstage

An activity that both Richie and I share.  We both love travel and doing it.  Thus a new show on PBS has been a very pleasant surprise.  It's called "The Travel Detective" and is hosted by one Peter Greenberg.

What appeals are weekly features such as "Hidden Gems" which explored how those enormous cruise ships are designed - how many bars, restaurants, attractions such as a zipline  with on-site building tours, with everyone in sight wearing the mandatory hard hat.  Incidentally, all of the ships covered, every presenter of his ship was a CEO or equal level of the ship being toured.

Another segment pointed out airports with the least amount of layover.

Insurance  and why for air b'n' bs.  Your host has to have it in most states as well as a license for it.  For obtaining all of the various licenses, plan on spending as much as two years.

Greenberg's demeanor is calm, we are not given the usual 45 percent churches, museums, 35 percent tourist attractions and five percent food, and Miscellaneous .  Enjoyable as they are.  Specially the food parts. Most often my reaction BTW is "People eat that dreck?"

We saw it on a Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. on PBS.  Check your local PBS listings, if this interests you.  I look forward to seeing another one and checking our main libraries for season DVDs.  One can learn with this guy.  And every day we can learn something is a bonus day.  Carpe diem!

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

What the Murphys Won't Be Having for Thanksgiving

And if you're as appalled as I am at the October edition of Bon Appetite, neither will you.  The cover touts "The Perfect Thanksgiving" and then lists several dishes.  In order of unlikelihood, shall we?

Coconut Creamed Greens - Pistachio-Lime Brussel Sprouts - Chile and Sausage Cornbread Stuffing -
Perfection is clearly in the eye of the beholder.

Coconut Creamed Greens relies on "hardy greens" and suggests Tuscan kale or curly kale or Swiss chard or mustard greens.  Four bunches of whatever you like of these suggestions.  (And here I thought Kale was dead; clearly one of those "reports of my death are premature" situations.)

Additional seasonings:  garlic cloves, onion, red Thai chile thinly sliced, ginger, mustard seeds, coriander, turmeric and - you've waited for it, I know you have!  2 cups unsweetened coconut milk, coconut flakes and last but not least virgin coconut oil.  

Brussels Sprouts with Pistachios and Lime
2 lbs. Brussels Sprouts and I was outta there.

Mashed Potatoes with Crispety Cruncheties.  (Spell Check went nuts.)  Make mashed potatoes in your usual style, put them in a service bowl and top with crushed potato chips.

The only recipe I would consider is Charred Sweet Potatoes with Hot Honey Butter and Lime.
Quarter as many sweet potatoes as will be eaten, face down on an oiled pizza pan or whatever similar.  When they're done (450 degrees) flip them up and fill with butter and honey creamed together with a hot of Tabasco or your favorite.  Put it back in the oven and let the sauce burble.  A teaspoon of coriander is optional in the sauce.  Serve with quartered lime pieces for tableside squeezing.          

If any of these did appeal (who am I to judge others?) simply pay a visit to bonappetite.com                                                                                                                        

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Here and There

I thought of my Dad yesterday.  He wasn't a  veteran of any war and every time Veteran's Day rolled around, he pissed and moaned all over again.  "Too young for World War 1; too old for World War 2."  So let us briefly celebrate those that wanted to serve and could not.

When a French mathematician cusses, very often they will say "Merde a la treize puissance!"  Or translated:  Shit to the 13th power!

Signs of the times:

Priorities - from an Irish zoo - Do not stand, sit, climb or lean on zoo fences.  If you fall animals could eat you and that might make them sick.

A very timely ad, that being a big billboard along the freeway  "Text and Drive, XYZ Funeral Home"

Dunno where this came from but it almost had to be Somewhere Else.  Polar bear in the area!  Extreme caution.  If you have to go out, take a slower co-worker with you.

The zoos are really cracking down!
If you throw articles at the crocodiles or snakes, you will be asked to retrieve them.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Everything's Up To Date in Kansas City - They've gone about as far as they can go"

A song in the hit musical "Oklahoma" and extolls the modernization of Kansas City, Missouri.  I mention this because a friend who lives there sent me a compilation of how different today is from yesterday.

For example, Texaco sold six gallons of gas for 99 cents!

For kids - good manners on the rotary phone.  Always be polite, use Mr. and Mrs., ask if you may take a message.  Today's three year old's are installing apps on their cell phones.

Fashion - an ad for the ladies offered Professor Williams Fat-En-U Foods -" plump up and be rosy with honest fleshiness of form."  I don't know how "honest" flesh is if you have to eat God only knows what and, more to the point, how much of it.

 In 1965, a barbershop window admonished, "No Beatles hair cuts!"  Instead they listed the styles that they would do - the Peter Gunn, Ivy League Flat Top, or a Crew Cut.  Do we see a trend here?  Shampoo manufacturers loved the Beatles cut!

In 1898 Bayer began using and advertising HEROIN in their ads and medicines.  It was for colds and coughs.    And, presumably, a life-long drug dependency. Cocaine wasn't far behind to get up on a shelf for purchase.

In 1889 the Halcyon Matrimonial Company ran a price list on their virtual store with various shelves of goods.  East of the Mississippi - $50   Females who wanted to go West - $25 (the Old West needed women!)   Men from west of the Mississippi River - $95!

Requirements were a $10 deposit then and there and the remainder due after the nuptials.   In 1889 that was serious money.

Tobacco was not forgotten.  In the 1960s this product was on the market - Mister Merry's play lighter (looked like a Zippo)  and bubble gum cigarettes.

A 1915 Illinois billboard:  "The use of tobacco in any form is a dirty, filthy, disgusting, degrading habit.  No gentlemen will use tobacco in this city."   (Tell us how you feel about 'baccy, won't you?  Don't be shy.)

So we see, antiquities class, that some things remain the same.  Illinois' warning lives today. With quite a great deal more gusto than is needed.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Some People Never Learn - or Else They Are Damned Optomistic!

Or in some cases (mine) terminally stupid.  I have written and published three books so far - the first did do well.  The second and third have not yet set the rivers on fire.

But, nothing daunted, I am just beginning work on "Resume" which will be my fourth to not sell.  "Funny title for a book," you might think but it's a cool way to do your own biography.  Go to the Social Security office and ask them for a print-out of every dime you made and paid in.

One caution - our office only goes back to 1978.  Mind you from 1958 to 1978, they  list the money, but not the company title.  Instead everyone of the entries for that time period reads:  EARNED/NO  DETAIL AVAILABLE.

Toward creating an intro, I looked up resume quotes and came upon quite the treasures.

"Choose a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life."  Confucius  He's dead solid right

"You can't build a reputation on what you're going to do."  Confucius  Listen up all politicians

"It's not what you achieve, it's what you overcome.  That's what defines your career" Carlton Fisk, Boston Red Sox, 376 home runs.

"Work to become, not to acquire"  Elbert Hubbard, American writer and philosopher. He died broke (made that part up)

"Find out what you like to do best and get someone to pay you for it."  Katharine Whitehorn, British wit

"The best way to predict the future is to create it."  Abraham Lincoln  See above politicians

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.  The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time."  Thomas Edison  Several professional boxers might disagree

"Dreams are extremely important.  You can't do it unless you imagine it."  George Lucas

"If you can dream it, you can do it."  Walt Disney  George and Walt - haven't gotten #1 in the NY Times top bestsellers yet.  So hah!

"I cannot do everything, but must not fail to do the something that I can do."  Helen Keller

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything."  Albert Einstein  Eating ice cream in some countries - how did you like some of their ingredients?  Draw the veil. 

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) Hates Us Right Back

We just don't know it.  In fact, they have a secret Face Book site call TSABreakroom with 18,000 members.  Airport by airport, fellow travelers, we're seriously outnumbered.

And remember the part about they don't like us either?

This site has the usual complaints about management (often more hated than hapless travelers) with some special twists that come with the job.

The caption beneath a very big, very fat "child" - looks to be about 8 or 9 years old - reads:  "She's old enough to drive a Kia - get her grown ass outta that stroller."

A pet peeve appears to be "Well, I went through another airport and they didn't say anything."  Many were their thoughts on that!  The best would be:  "Bitch I don't care.  This is my airport and my checkpoint and this is how we do it here."

I must add to this report by saying that all the ones we encountered at LAX are quite affable.  I think we as pax have something of an obligation to make the inevitable beeps and chirps and pat downs pleasant.  Charles de Gaulle, Paris, is hell bent to pat you down and they do not use a wand.  They use a gloved hand which makes the passenger wonder just how far they intend to go.  An evil sign those gloves.

When they were issued new gloves - black and shiny looking, sinister somehow - names for them were solicited.  These made the cut:
The Jack the Ripper Signature Model
The Boston Stranglers
The O.J.s

There is a minor detail that will tell you if you're about to get  a  random full tilt boogie check.  Look at your ticket face, lower right hand side for the give away - SSSS or the LLLL. If you've got one, be nice.  One TSA guy wrote, "Don't even try - you can't be pettier than the TSA."

Don't even try.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Charity Giving From the Grave

Famed chef and adventurer in the world's kitchens, Anthony Bourdain, killed himself age 61 in June 2018.

October 30, 2019, iGAVELAUCTIONS.com held an auction that drew 3,000 people to bid on some 202 personal items from Bourdain's estate.   This auction gleaned a total of $1,846,575.  Much of the total has been set aside as a donation to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).  What went up on the block?

Bourdain's personal, custom knife - $236.50

A US Navy jacket presented to him by the crew of the Navy ship that rescued him and the rest of the "No Reservations" crew from Lebanon after the 2006 war broke out.  $176,150

 Simpsons cast signed script from his appearance on the show.  $18,750

Three watches -

Rolex Men's Oyster $48,750

Panerai Radiomir  $33,750

Patek Phillipe  $26,250

Post mortem giving means you may be gone but you won't be forgotten!

Visit iGAVELAUCTIONS.com to window and comparison shop.  Quite amusing in the now-November weather.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Cluck Cluck Cluck - Who Knew Chickens Are So Smart?

According to Christine Nicol, Professor Animal Welfare, Bristol University.  She writes to us via  boredpanda.com this cheery morning.

Chickens can count to five. Why they would want to count to five was not disclosed.  

They understand that an object that moves away still exists.   This is information that comes much later to human babies.  

Can recognize up to 30 other chickens.  Do they give each other names or is facial recognition all that they need? 

There are 25 billion chickens which is more chickens than humans.  But admittedly with a much shorter life span.  

All chickens today descended from the Red Jungle Fowl found in South Asia.  They are said to be so shy that when picked up, they are so scared that they can have a heart attack and die.  Self-killing dinner?     

Some time ago I wrote about the pet chicken fad in Silicon Valley.  Given the run of the house, wearing little diapers, cuddling with owners - now I understand why Silicon Valley's geniuses like chickens.  They're just as smart!

Monday, November 4, 2019

"Won't You Let Me Take You On A Sea Cruise?"

The boat "The Maiden Factor" is looking for four new crew members for two legs of the around the world cruise.   Requirements:  you must have some sailing experience and you must be a woman.  The Maiden Factor is an aluminum sail boat under the skipper ship of boat owner Tracy Edwards.  She has a fascinating story.

She left home at 16 and began backpacking all over Europe.  Working as a barmaid in a Greek tavern, one of the customers asked her how she would like to be the cook on his yacht?  She would like it!

Her experiences on it gave her a deep love of sailing.  And curiosity as to why sailing was such a Men Only sport.  She is a quick learner and soon wanted to be the navigator.

Her first racing competition was in the Whitbread Round the World in 1989.  Corporate sponsors were sparse as the Powers That Be didn't think a crew made up solely of women could do it.  She did bringing in The Maiden as winner on two legs of the race and second overall for her class.  Hers was the first all-female crew to sail around the world.

Forced for financial reasons, Edwards sold the boat but after help from King Hussein's daughter, the boat was relocated and restored.  King Hussein was a believer and is quoted as saying, "With faith, honor and courage, anything is possible."

Today it is on a three year long world tour, fund-raising for women's charities, aiding more than 1.4 million in 32 countries.  These charities include:
I Am Girl
Just A Drop (sustainable water)
the Orchid Project  (abolishing female genital cutting)
The Girls' Network
Room to Read (building libraries)
and no doubt more.

If this sounds appealing, visit   themaidenfactor.org  and read the blogs of current and past sailors.  Read about five days without food ... terrific battles with the sea and bad weather, snapped main masts.  Showers and washing one's hair are strictly rationed even though the ship carries a water distillery machine.  Most of the time, the crew is totally isolated from the rest of the world.  Just the Maiden and a helluva lot of ocean.

Our friend, a member of the LA Yacht Club, invited us to the reception for the crew while the Maiden lingered in the San Pedro/Los Angeles Harbor.  They were 24 to 40 years old, very fit looking and personable.  It was a pleasure to see and hear them.  A documentary of this story is available and information about it on the Website.   Thank you, Jan, for a very pleasant and informative evening.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Of Course I Got It Wrong!

How can you even wonder?  I'm referring to Spring Ahead, Fall Back.  In the bathroom, in the dark of night, I punched on the little travel alarm clock and the luminous numbers said, "6.07 a.m."

Usual getting up time.  So I will!  and slithered upstairs, lit a cigarette and on a whim, looked at the phone for the time, vague thoughts of 'something about time change?'  and discovered it was 5:15 a.m.

Thumped back down the stairs, and into my side of the still-warm bed.  Richie never twitched.  He's smarter than I am, no hands down.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

But Would You Want Your Daughter - or Son For That matter - to Marry One?

Your child's resume reads:  Snake Wrangler services.  Was sent  to find, trap and dispose any one of the four types of rattlesnakes found in Southern California.  ( My method, though somewhat messy, involves a stick of dynamite.  And again, is not suitable as a day job.)

Bo Slyapich, 61, is one such removal expert.  His captives are put in plexiglass bins kept on the back seat of his vehicle (mine would be a Sherman tank) for removal to snake avoidance training programs for dogs.  Otherwise they get transported to uninhabited land (and in my case, if it wasn't it soon would be as my running feet would thunder through the echoing silence.)  He joked to the reporter that he isn't too hasty getting rid of them.  He joked, "I keep them until the check clears" which is  pragmatic businessman to the core.

If you call first responders to a snake sighting, the firemen have shovels and axes and that snake will not trouble anyone any further.  However, if they can't get to the snake, they let it go and both go on about their business.

One woman reported three snakes in two weeks.  "One more snake and I'm selling the house," she is quoted.  Another reported a grand total, over the years, of 100 snakes.  Slypich has a number of repeat customers.  In 50 years of working in this field, he says he has never been bitten.  Good for you, Bo!

Keep on truckin' - if you have a snake alert line for rattlesnake sightings in Redondo Beach I'd be happy to pay a small sum to be on it.  We already have possums, skunks, and the odd coyote, so why not snakes?

Snake deterrent fences work (or there wouldn't be so many snake deterrent snake fencing companies.)  Specifications - made of sturdy mesh, 3 ft. tall and 3 in. deep in the ground.  They cost $7 to $9 linear foot or $400 to $550 on three sides for a 20 ft. x 20 ft. back yard.

Good to know there is something snakes cannot get through, over or under.  Roll out a couple of bales of it and git'er done!

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Halloween Candy Tally

The free subscription site called nextdoor.com was of use, I must say.

North Redondo Beach - a Costco 150 count bag of candy plus more

Golden Hills, six large bags of candy

We never get anyone, so I stopped buying candy in mid-Redondo

South Manhattan Beach - I heard people say they are staying in due to the air quality and the fires (To which I say, "huh?"  We have had a steady onshore strong breeze since they began)

Another from Golden Hills wrote, "Halloween is on a Thursday and that's a school night.  And a lot of schools are having their own party."

Jane, our Libertyville, IL correspondents reports that as of 5:30 p.m. there "A few older trick or treaters."  It was snowing here.

Charlie, Huntington, Long Island, reports a grand total of five.

Here?  Nary a one.  We now have two big fat bags of KitKats.  Put them in a dark closet for next year?  Fatten up the Thurs. Writers?  Eh, we'll find a use for them.  "Would you like a KitKat with your glass of pinot grigio?"

Will add to this informal poll as information comes in.  Haven't heard from Kansas City or Texas yet.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Happy Boo!

If we get any kids, which is doubtful considering the population I see around me, it's either kids in strollers or the family down the block who appear to have two little girls around 5 and 7 (best guestimate.)

Our street - hardly a major throughway as it's only three blocks long - doesn't seem to have many kids.

But one of the Trick or Treat evenings in the pass, we got so many kids, that they were bussed in!
No kidding!  Granted they weren't 50+ passenger buses, but two or three shuttle buses can add up to a lot of kids.  Homeowners were going nuts!  The worst nightmare came true - we were all running out of candy!  We were all out on our driveways, screaming back and forth, "Have you got any left?"  "No!" would come back in an anguished wail.

Happily the majority of the kids were short as they were 5 to 8 years old and incapable of much in the way of damage.

Today, it seems that schools and churches have parties at their location which is a great deal safer anyhow.

What this means at our house is buy only what we like.  Richie is very much the Be Prepared Boy Scout so Thurs. Writers will all be diligently working for cavities post-Halloween!  We're all too old to slobber for sour gummy bears and such.  Mini-candy bars are a hit though.

As it happens that Halloween IS on a Thurs., we are planning a mini party of our own.  Sparkling cider (when we'd all prefer wine which the City which owns and runs the Veteran Park Senior Center has expressly forbidden.)

Instead, sticking to our writerly duties, we're all supposed to write a scary six word novel.  Yes, I scoffed, too.

The example given is:  For Sale
                                      Baby Shoes
                                       Never Worn
Does that give a chill or what?!

As Game 7 ran to the close, I came up with the following.  If you'd like to play, too, Comments is your spot or write me direct..

Rich grandma's walker - steep basement stairs.

Sister's husband beats her!
At Scrabble.

From my friend in French Conversation - "Ghoul screams!  What? No ice cream?"

Jay not Z contributed
Happy Halloweens have  haunting and howling

Manager South Bay Stories"Show -
It's morning blood on my pillow.

AND Miss Sweetheart of the Yacht Club contributed a whole poem!

Halloween Lament
THEN  All Hallow's Eve was a time to grieve
NOW  We see a witch fly and get a sugar high

THEN  Treats were homemade
NOW  Look for a razor blade

THEN Costumes were funny
NOW  Only dress as a bunny

THEN Kids giggled with joy
NOW  Not sure if girl or boy.
   By Janet White