Friday, January 31, 2020

"Walkies? Well, First You Have to Put On Your k9 Anti Coronavirus Mask, Rover, Be a Good Doggie"

These masks exist despite the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) says that the virus cannot cross from human to animal.  Just to be sure though, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) specifies that animal masks be as "strong" (?) as those for humans.

k9 Masks, of Austin, TX, sells them for $55 each; five different muzzle sizes and reports a 300 per cent upsurge in sales world-wide despite the fact that these dog masks are used in the event of excessive dust, smoke  (think our seasonal fires) and bacteria.  

One of their big clients is Hong Kong; anti-tear gas.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Dissecting a Bestseller

A friend at Tuesday's French class had remarked favorably the previous week about a book she was reading and enjoying immensely.

"Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens   $26   370 pages

She brought in last Tuesday and I'm now on page 157 of what could be; in fact, should be a good read.  It isn't particularly.  Poor folks have been depicted in much more interesting detail than this one.  Am not a gourmet by any means but constant references to grits, cooking of which, availability and cost pall and I'm only 157 pages in, above.

Owens is well-equipped to cover the "nature" stuff in the book.  She has a BS in Zoology and a PhD in Animal Behaviors.  The book is set in North Carolina in or on a swamp which figures in much of the plot.  Forests, too.  The heroine is very frequently - too much so for my tastes - running away into said forest to hide from predatory people.  This is her first novel.

In comparison, a much better book with a similar theme of poverty, unlikely and unlovable characters is "Last Train Home - A story of an Arkansas Farm Girl" by Wanda Maureen Miller.  The heroine here is trying to escape a mean father and a scared mother - to get out in the world and make a better life for  herself.  From an outdoor toilet to a house with five bathrooms, she succeeds admirably and with great humor.  And shots of extreme cruelty that will keep you awake wondering when her evil father will get his.  A much better book if you are looking to be entertained.

Miller should receive as much or more fame and fortune than Owens.  Quite possibly more.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Old Files Found Interesting

In digging around in the above, a newspaper article turned up of great interest to me.  The article concerned itself with my paternal grandmother on the occasion of her 95th birthday.  There may be more articles on her because she didn't die until she was 101 and five months.  Certainly good news to her off-spring except that her husband, my grandfather, died age 65 (hotly debated in some family discussions,) but anyway he was in his 60s.  He brought the average age down in any event.

Stella Ann was born January 2, 1876  Now that was a verrry long time ago!

Her family came to Kansas in a covered wagon and crossed a river to Rulo, Nebraska, on a ferry boat with cable and windlass.  The power?  A large mule.  She and my grandfather married in 1894.  They then proceeded to have five children - three boys and two girls.  Of note:  The family last name was Vermillion and for reasons known only to the blissful couple, they thought of 10 names so as to give each children three initials ALL of them being "VVV."

Varney V; Virgil V; Vera Vedette; Victor Verdun; (my Dad) Vivian Violet.

The reporter concluded, "It is a pleasure to talk to Mrs. Vermillion for her philosophy on life, her sharp wit and great sense of humor are certainly something to remember."  (She bitch slapped me for getting familiar?)

I can only wonder who the hell he/she was talking to as my memories of Stella Ann were singularly sour.  She lectured my mother about letting me wear jeans (age 6) and usually had no time for me.  She did at least have a bookshelf with books to amuse me.  "Donovan's Brain" was singularly interesting.  Through some freak accident (or deliberate scientific prodding)  Donovan's body was separated from his head leaving only his brain to communicate.  I was 8 and wondered about that for quite some time.

In fact, going off to Google it right now.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Still ...

Total population of China in 2017:  1.386 billion

Reported cases of coronavirus  4,474
Deaths  106

Not planning to go anywhere near Huwan or any other Asian area.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Kudos to Richie

His letter to the Daily Breeze Editor ran this morning.  And probably in about 10 other local newspapers - the Daily Breeze is part of a chain.

It's time for a new name for the Houston Astros
This just in:  the Houston Astros baseball team has changed its name to the Houston Sign Stealers.

Richie Murphy
Redondo Beach

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Conflicting Reports or ..."Who ya gonna believe? Me or your own lyin' eyes?"

Six of one to a half dozen.

Front page of the LA Times, right hand side.  "Virus is no cause to panic, experts caution."

Wuhan - 15 dead, total 1,300 exposed. Three in France, two in the USA. Australia has one.   New are confirmed every day (mainly in Asia) the death toll is rising!

Front page of Drudge:

You tell me - who is right?

Friday, January 24, 2020

Awash In Material

That would be me regarding the (apparently) latest book on the Kennedy family.  I could argue that I am vastly outnumbered, having but one (and younger) sister.

The Kennedy Heirs by Randy Taraborelli   $29.99  606 pages   Taraborelli has developed a cottage market in Kennedys unto the third generation.  This is his fourth book about them.

Several things popped out to me not the least of which being Ted Kennedy and his children, his first wife, their mother and himself.  Cancer was the link.  Ted, Jr., childhood bone cancer,   Kara, small cell lung cancer led to a massive heart attack due to the chemo treatments,  Ted himself brain cancer; and a bout with breast cancer for his ex-wife, Joan.  Son Patrick Kennedy and widow Victoria Regge are, so far alive.

Bobby Kennedy's widow Ethel was a notoriously bad mother to their herd (11 children would frazzle most anyone.)  Not until much later in life (her 90s) she was quoted thusly:  "While I've accepted who I was as a mother, it's sometimes harder to accept who I wasn't."

Many mothers might  like to be able to kick their off-spring out of the house - after a rousing couple of slaps on the face to speed the process, few do.   The Kennedy women often slapped their children right across the face - because that's what their mothers had done.

The entire family flatly refused to accept addiction as a disease.  Which goes far to explain some of that family's repeated stays in various rehab centers.

As you can see from just these little tidbits, it is a richly satisfying read to the historical gossip reader.  I am one - join me.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Next Up - The Virus!

That would be the coronavirus, country of origin apparently China and this morning's Drudge bannered that it may be transmitted from snakes!  Specifically a farmer's market that specializes in such food stuffs as bats, the afore-mentioned snakes and God knows what else.

Some major American airports are screening arriving passengers from countries afflicted with it. As they are most notably Asian passengers,  do you know where this is going?  Betcha do - the Politically Correct will start hyperventilating in 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 seconds, only to scream "Racial Profiling!"  

In case you missed it, I made a mechanic laugh yesterday.  Oh, so you did miss it.  Richie's Toyota 4Runner has been acting up.  It trembles at stop lights and has gone on to shake like a belly dancer while running.  So he took it back day before yesterday.  When the mechanic called yesterday afternoon, Richie seemed to be having difficulties explaining what, exactly, the car was doing.  I leaned into the phone and yelled, "It was shaking like a virgin on her wedding night!" and heard his guffaw.  It did prove to be diagnostic (of a sort) and Richie got the car back later that afternoon.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Joy of Finding a New Author

I am merely one in a large group of omnivorous readers.  We are so depraved that we will read the label on a bottle of aspirin or the list of ingredients on a can of soup.  yes, dire indeed!

But better to be an omnivore than a bear wandering in the woods.  Or something.  Thoreau maybe?  

Such is one William Shaw, who has written for the UK papers Observer and Independent and the NY Times.  

I came to admire him reading "Salt Lane" whose heroine is Detective Sergeant Alexandra Cupidi a recent transfer from the Metropolitan police into Kent where this novel takes place.  

What happens after an unidentified woman is found floating in a local marshland?  The tale that ensues features one person using another's ID, more murders as well as the personal notes.  Cupidi is charged with mentoring a Kent officer; has a badly-behaved teenage daughter and more. 

Low key but riveting all of the same.  454 pages  $27  Your library - since there are three more novels - may well have it in its shelves. Other titles include: "She's Leaving Home," "The Kings of London," "A Song for the Broken-hearted."  Shaw lives in Sussex, England.  His author photo shows what looks like a youngish, middle-aged man.  Good.  Keep'm coming Shaw!   

Monday, January 20, 2020

Martin Luther King, Sr.

As a white person, who recognizes that January 20th is an annual celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr's life,  it suddenly occurred to me to wonder what about Martin Luther King, SR?  You don't get a Junior without a Senior hovering somewhere in the background.

Martin, Sr. was born December 19, 1899 and died, age 84, on November 11, 1984.  In between these events, he got an education, graduated from Moorhead College with a degree as a minister, when he was 26, and made his fiancĂ©e (of eight years duration) Alberta's parents very happy.  Married, the  happy couple went on to present the  grandparents with three kids in four years.

The family's serenity was tragically interrupted when Alberta was killed by a crazed gunman, age 23,  while playing "The Lord's Prayer" on the church organ during Sunday services on June 30, 1968.  The gunman also killed the minister presiding, bitterly disappointed, one assumes that it was not Martin Luther King, the sights of either one of the two pistols he was carrying and sadly using.

The gunman was quoted saying that "You are serving a false god"  "Black ministers are a menace to black people"  finishing off with a resounding, "All Christians are my enemies!"

Senior brought Junior up to continue the movement which he did with some enthusiasm. He was assassinated for his beliefs April 4, 1968, aged 39.

A quote Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  I leave you to ponder the irony of death in the King family.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

A Shocking Dearth of Meghan and Harry Jokes

If ever a great opportunity for some - alas.  The following is what I could scrounge up.  They are not inspiring.

Kimmel - It's every parent's dream to NOT have the 35 year old kid still living with them.

Colbert - Leaving the United Kingdom but remaining on Queen Elizabeth's Verizon family plan.

Queen Elizabeth now calls Kate 'the one in the Will.'

And from a Comment online:  Two cheeks on the same arsehole.

Immediate comeback - Neither made a good marriage.

Feel free to let me know what you glean.  My fields were clearly old cornstalks.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Last Actress Standing - Happy Birthday Betty White!

The Golden Girls is still running and a man connected with the show remarked that he made probably $600 per episode, but reruns are now paying him $3,000.  So we don't have to fret about "poor Betty White; how does she live now?"

Add in royalties from her seven published books and the answer could easily be "very well indeed."

At 98, she is left to carry the banner for Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty.  So follows this bit of trivia.

Betty and Bea Arthur shared a birth year - 1922 - but Betty is older within that year  1-17-1922; Bea May 13, 1922.

Estelle Getty was born in in 1923 and Rue came in last and consequently youngest in 1934.  She died in 2010 aged 76 of a massive stroke.  Notably she also had six husbands and one child.

Estelle died of Lewy body dementia in 2008 age 84.  Lewy's is ranked #3 below Alzheimer's then vascular dementia.

Bea Arthur married  twice and had two children.  She died of lung cancer on April 25, 2009 which was my 69th birthday.

Golden Girls debuted September 14, 1985, when Bea and Betty were 63; Estelle was 64 and Rue 51.

Senior citizens can so keep working!  The Golden Girls were in every sense a credit to their ages.  Long may they be remembered - especially in reruns.  Their estates will thank them.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Beating Black Ice

Readers in So. Calif. are going to laugh at what follows, but those all through the Midwest and East Coast are probably not.  That's where the dread black ice lives.  It's a real menace to driving but mentioned far less is just walking along your street to walk the dog or bring in the mail or the newspaper.

A good friend lives in Kansas City, MO which was predicted to have ice today.  Not specified was whether it will be "just ice" or black ice.  She has a little dog named Heidi who wants a minimum of four walks a day.  Not kidney issues, just a very sociable little dog who wants to pay calls to her dog neighbors up and down the street.

My friend is my age (older than dirt) and doesn't need a broken hip so … how to get around this?  Golf shoes!  They're cleated.  Eisenhower busted up the floor of the Oval Office by wearing his there straight from the course.

I asked my sister if they (golfers all) switch them over for use when it's icy?  Her laughing reply was that they only time they would is if they were caught out on the course with no recourse.  Not helpful.

And then I remembered mountain climbers who use a device called a "crampon" which is a strap-on set of fairly hefty spikes.  They're used for mountaineering and ice climbing.  No reason they couldn't be used on city streets.  Because they are a collection of straps, buckled on, it's easy enough to whisk them off when you get to your destination, put on your regular shoes and go about your business .

Who has them?  Out here the REI stores or Dick's Sporting Goods.  They range in price from $18.99 to $129.95.

Of note, Where the snow blows EMTs and first responders have a pair in their backpacks.  Right next to the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED)  

This wasn't mentioned but I bet they'd be good for push off on a sled...There's usually more than one use for any device.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Hypocrites or Clueless - You Decide

In the recent news, Meghan the gold digging wife of the formerly known "Prince"  Harry is currently residing on Vancouver Island, Canada.  She is being loaned a $14 million home as sanctuary.

The other day she hopped a sea plane (probably the home owner's private plane) and bopped over to the mainland (a 20-minute flight)  where she visited a shelter for women.  It is reported that she left baby Archie (and I still think naming a possibly future King "Archie" is odd and altogether too flip for Elizabeth's Royal family) with her best friend - and quite possibly six or eight nannies.  A previous story, just post-birth, said that she was obdurate that no one tends to Archie but her.  Not even Harry.  Nannies were quitting left and right at her dictatorial ways.  Something of a sea change, no?

Curious, I looked up the charities she is reputed to support.  I would have guessed Max Factor, Revlon, etc. but a make up company sells their goods; they don't give them away.  Hardly a charity.

Here's what I came up with.
CHIVA  Children's HIV Association  Helping families with kids who are HIV+.

CRISIS - homeless  Probably plenty of room in her host's house, but … that would never do.

The Myna Mahila Foundation,  providing advice and education, sanitary supplies to women during "that time of the month."

Scotty's Little Soldiers - aiding kids whose parents died or were gravely wounded in a war.

StreetGames  Encourages poor children in England, Wales and Scotland to play suitable games on their own doorsteps.   I don't see that somehow in Archie's future.

One last meow - given the endless shots of besotted Harry and adoring Meghan, how come he is still by his lonesome in England and she is cavorting around in sea planes?  I suspect the worst.  Let's hope I'm right!  She did leave an ex-husband wandering around somewhere.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

A Petty But Real Annoyance and Deconstructing the Human Body

Paper Cuts

They are a good example.  A careless gesture, a wrong move and your finger is bleeding like a stuck pig.  Oh! and it stings like hell!  Speaking of hell, what the hell is this?  It's a papercut and it's usually to a finger; said finger apparently containing the nerve endings of every one of them in the entire body.

And the wound (medical people love to say "wound" rather than, for example, "piddly ass cut.") could only be as deep as the outermost layer of skin.  Where the suntan shows.

After I cut my right index finger on the very sharp edge of a can of cat food, I stopped the bleeding - toilet paper, pressure and keeping it above the heart for a quick fix until I could wash it in cold water and soft soap, carefully pat-dry it and apply Mupericin (the best antibiotic cream out there) and a band-aid.  I made an unpleasant discovery.  Wherever the cut happens to be it is going to be vulnerable to being opened up again right after the bleeding stopped.  I for one didn't realize how often and how carelessly I treat my fingers.

The good news is that it should be healed in three to seven days.  No one ever (so far at least) has died from a papercut.  Just keep a band-aid on it until it is healed.  And watch it in the future.

Obesity and Flat Feet
For no reason at all, I suddenly wondered about this.  Can one be so fat as to flatten one's own arches?

The human foot is comprised of 26 bones with more than 30 articulations.  The foot is charged with three duties:  support, shock absorption and weight bearing.  Can one be so obese as to flatten an arch?  A study of women age 20+ showed that 44 per cent of them could.  A scary thought.

Some doctors might disagree.  I once asked an orthopedic surgeon if morbidly obese (we're talking 600 pounds plus) people destroy their knees?  He said they didn't.  I mentally disagreed with him then and still today.  Even so, I have quit eating a mid-afternoon snack of perhaps cheese and crackers or a candy bar.  Better safe than sorry.


Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Ah, Tis the Bard of Lisle

Sit back and prepare to enjoy another example of his wit and humor ...

"First there was Brexit and now there is Megxit
Mark my words the Queen wants to hex it

Meghan married a prince and soon had a son
But from royal duties she's now on the run

No more does she wish to bow to the Queen
Life as a royal has quite lost its sheen

The trading of lifestyles has been flipped on its ear
Harry traded for hers to start the new year

He'll live in the New World in more ways than one
Meghan's in charge to dictate what's done.

He can't be King and she can't be Queen
At the back of the line, neither one is too keen

They'll live in Canada and learn to say "eh"
But will the Crown still keep them as it does today?"

Grateful thanks to the inimitable Bard of Lisle.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Rock'n Roll Writer - And Not Bad at That

"Me  Elton John" by Elton John  372 pages  $30

Richie is a great fan so I bought him the book for a Christmas present.  He plans to start it today (January 12th.)  He was reading something else and his motto is finish what you began.  Admirable, I suppose, but it also meant I could read it first so no harm no foul.

It's an interesting saga, a little too much music stuff in the front … music played, venues played, other performers (he adored most of them - in every way, ahem.)  I liked it for the anecdotes of the rich and renowned. When he saw Queen Elizabeth II slapping her nephew Margaret's son in the face for not doing her bidding - just little slaps - don't get all hinky - used to punctuate I Am The Queen You Do Not Disobey Me.  When he ran out of the room to check on his sister as ordered, she turned to Elton and winked.

He was also tight with Princess Diana, which will be remembered at her funeral, playing a version of "Candle in the Wind" rewritten by Bernie Taupin to laud her.  Became a worldwide hit and he put the royalties in his Elton AIDs charity.

He and Giorgio Armani were best friends,  Armani's murder gutted him.

 A tour with Tina Turner and Elton fell through after she called him to say "how awful I was and how I had to change before we could work together.  She didn't like my hair, she didn't like the color of my piano - which for some reason had to be white - and she didn't like my clothes.  You wear too much Versace, and it makes you look fat.  You have to wear Armani," she announced."

Juicy tidbits like this, spicing up the narrative are largely what made the latter part of the book a delight to me.

I am shallow.  I have no pressing need to learn what my betters are up to and why.  Hey!  They sold the book!   Don't look at me!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

"Lucille, Honey Is That You?"

In the case of Lucille's Smokehouse Barbecue, it is!  Don't believe me?  (Shame on you) but visit  Or go over to her house at 21540 Hawthorne, Torrance,  We paid her a visit last week.

It's a big sprawling place with a bar in the center, outdoor tables shielded under umbrellas; another big room filled with banquets and apparently  back, private dining room/s.  As we waited for our food, about 25 or 26 firemen in their blues passed our table in an orderly line bound for it apparently.  They didn't look particularly jovial but they didn't look sad (a funeral afters.)   I muttered, "Union meeting," to Richie.  We'll never know and it certainly doesn't matter.  They weren't carrying hoses either.  I wanted to say to one of them, "Helluva kitchen fire, eh?" but they were gone before I could.

Instead of chips and salsa, Lucille gave us a pair of biscuits with a little dish of honey butter.  Tasty but Beware the Biscuits - they are so flaky that they practically explode at being buttered.  use your gentle hands,  don't get a grip on the knife like Grim Death.

Richie, apparently feeling parched after a visit to the audiologist, ordered a Firestone 805 small beer ($8) and I had water

We started with an order of  deviled eggs with smoked bacon and green onion ($4.99 and the yolks had been fluffed up to cloud size.  The bacon was tossed around them on a bed of shredded lettuce. ($4.99)     I cannot resist onion straws so we got a half order ($6.99)

For mains, put him down for the pulled pork place, side choice beans ($10.99)  and I went for the burned ends brisket ($13.50)  In my childhood, in Kansas City, occasionally my father would stop off  on his way home from work and pick up a pound of burned bits and I still remember these fondly.  Lucille's wasn't" shack by the road" burnt ends.  They looked burned, they were tender (not chewy like beef jerky)  but they were fatty which is anathema to any right person's thinking.  My cole slaw was quite good.  Cole slaw has as many variations as spaghetti sauce, meatloaf, or pizza toppings.

Lunch came to $44.47 before tax and following their suggestion, added a 20% tip of $8.89.  Throw in the tax and lunch for two came to $48.69.  Considering we had leftovers for dinner and still  have plenty of meat left -- not bad.  Lunch and dinner for two - $22.00  Certainly reasonable, Lucille.  Honey, you done did good, heah?

Saturday, January 11, 2020

"Mr. Watson come here I want to see you"

The telephone was invented by Thomas Edison and debuted March 10, 1876 when he said the above to his assistant Watson.

Today, 144 years later, hearing aids are state-of-the art with brands that connect to your cell phone (no small amount of irony here) and one merely turns the phone on, taps the Widex app box and viola!  You can adjust the hearing power or turn it down, both  choices custom tailored to your surroundings such as Party, which filters out extraneous noise and gives you the ability to talk one to one without yelling which is especially welcome in noisy restaurants and sports bars.

I know this because yesterday I got this app on mine.   Since my computer skills are non-existent, I had the audiology specialist put it in.  If I tried to do this,  I might find myself listening to and trying to understand conversations conversations in Outer Mongolia.  This app add is free as it is covered in the cost of the hearing aids.

Side Bar:  We were lucky enough to visit the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford summer houses in Ft. Meyer, Florida during a visit with Richie's Aunt Pat and her daughter Ruth Ellen.  They were such good friends that they built and occupied houses next door to one another.  A separate museum shows a great many of both of their inventions and is utterly fascinating.  If you're ever in Ft. Meyer …

Friday, January 10, 2020

Tunisian Food - a New Cuisine, New Flavors

Once upon a time there was a neighborhood pub that welcomed any number of regulars and had for a number of years.  Every night they featured live music, but they also opened around 2 or 3 p.m. which  depended on the bartender's feelings that day.  A perfect hour for having finished the grocery shopping, the dental appointment, general errand running.  These afternoon visits were singularly refreshing because the customers were just like you and had finished their stuff, too.  It was quiet.

But then!  Disaster!  Suzy's owner sold it to a newly-planned Tunisian restaurant; a logical off-shoot from their wine store in Manhattan Beach.  Many fits and starts and Barsha opened.  Wednesday night we and another couple decided to see what had happened to Suzy's, a matter of great curiosity to us locals.

A pleasant surprise!  Where Suzy's had been dark, the space was now light and airy.  Altogether attractive.  Okay, pleasant surprise; enough about the interior, what about the food for our interiors?

We began with an appetizer called "The Hand of Fatima."  Right away I thought we were hapless and ignorant visitors to a Muslim restaurant.  Disquieting indeed.  Leave a generous tip and your head?

Happily it proved to be nothing but a collection of various dips for the crusty French bread.  Picture a typical salsa server - with a big central dish for the salsa, surrounded by a ring of taco ships.  This was the reverse - small oval ceramic dishes, each with it's own treat - hummus, harissa, pesto and tapenade of olives.  These small ovals were laid out in the shape of a hand and sat upon a big round plate.  The ceramic servers were brightly Arabic-looking with vivid coloring.  ($12)

Fatima is a Catholic treasured icon.  In 1917 three kids aged 3, 7, and 9 were coming home from tending sheep in Fatima, Portugal, when they saw the Virgin Mary.  She has been celebrated ever since.

I can only report on what I ate which was the grilled prawns with horia, tiny cubes of cooked carrots , and labenah a mixture of yogurt, with olive oil and lemon juice.  The prawns were served with the eating part ready to go, but the feeler end of the prawns was stuck back on -for decorative reasons?  I looked at Mary and said, "Remind you of France?  Where every prawn you eat in that country, you have to clean it first?"  She nodded.  ($24)  We all shared a rose trifle ($9) but I had ordered it.

What they ate - Chicken Mosli $21, Lamb Meatballs ($20) and La Goulette Mussels ($14)

Wisely they don't drink, but Richie and I do.  Three North Coast Pilseners $21)  1 Glera Frizzante prosecco for two - Mary graciously helped me out and had the other half after her meal.  (19)

The very welcoming friendliness of the servers (they outnumbered us) was lovely.  Nothing was too much trouble.

The whole tab for four of us (none with a dainty appetite) was $153 before taxes.

It's a very pretty, sophisticated layout, but I don't like Middle Eastern food.  I didn't grow up on it and don't plan to start now.  (signed) Yankee Doodle.   1141 Aviation Blvd, Hermosa Beach.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Edward VIII and WallisSimpson vs. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle Redux?

Eddie abdicated (i.e. ran like a Frenchman) when he couldn't install the redoubtable Wallis on a matching throne.

Today, the saga of Harry and his sweetie seems like more of the same.  She holds him in a grasp that makes Wallis grip look as gentle as a kitten's sharp little claws, but make no mistake:  both women ran/run their mates like a train. I got so tired of endless photos of Meghan looking adoringly at gawping Harry.  I was reminded and perhaps you will be, too,  of Nancy Reagan giving Ronnie The Look.

Talk of Harry being "a senior royal" irked me since the line of success runs:
Prince Charlie
Prince William
   Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince, George
Prince Archie (as unlikely a name to be attached to "King" as anyone could imagine.)
And coming in at #7, Prince Andrew - first to be King from a U.S. jail!

Where does Harry get money?  Well 95 per cent of it comes from the Duchy of Cornwall; this has been a very fruitful Duchy as it supported Edward VIII first, beginning in 1938.  Originally he had to make do with 410,000 pounds annually (more than Queen Elizabeth II makes today I read.)

Harry and William got the bulk of Princess Diana's money - $13 million - and Prince Charles is said to be generous financially.  Harry is believed to have inherited well from Granny Queen Mother to boot.

The Royals big mistake was to forget that Meghan is an actress (by desire and profession.)  If they'd been smart the Royals would have convinced her that every public appearance is a one-person production starring her!  They didn't, as we all see today.

I read that the couple had already registered a Sussex Website before the rice was swept away from the sidewalk in front of the church.   Meghan plans ahead.  It is well-known that "The Tig" is her clothing line.  God only knows what will come next but word is out that Oprah wants to do a series with them.

God Save the Queen!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

A Scientific Project to Educate Our Children

I read recently (this morning looking for it) that the temperature required to turn sand into glass is 1700C or 3090F

It would be very educational to today's kids to try to do this for a life lesson.  Since Iran is not being very friendly, how about starting with all the sand areas in the country?  The magical sight of ordinary desert sand (dotted with the odd camel poop here and there) magically turning into shimmering sheets of glass - reflecting the sun and the moon at night - serve as a great model to kids.  And it's scientific!  Desert sand is varied thus the results will be, too.  Areas of glass could act as stepping stones on the sand!

No praise, please.  It's what I do.   Anything for our precious children.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Seeing the Travel Shows When You've Been There - Bliss

Travel shows have become more specialized than ever before.  Instead of a topic like "France!" there are specific areas such as "Chateau de la Loire Royal Visit" which we watched last night.

The Loire Valley, some 60 miles from Paris, is dotted by enormous and fabulous chateaux, most of them scenic to say the very least about turreted buildings - immense - used as hunting lodges for royalty and the gentry.

During a visit to Michelle and Bruno in September some 20 years ago, they graciously took us on a tour of the more notable ones.  Bruno drove and we weren't out of the parking garage at their condo outside of Versailles.  Someone called him and the radio which had been merrily playing "traveling music" became a phone call!  A device built into the car.  The next revelation was a stop for fuel - gas and something else.  Two separate tanks.  I marveled at both and Bruno waved a hand and dismissed my awe, saying, "C'est normale."  That's normal.  Run low on one?  Switch to the other.  Gearheads out there, leave a comment and tell me what "the other" was?

Bruno took us to his favorite chateau which could not have been more barebones..  It was built in the 12th century and that was the style then.  "I like that it is plain," he said.  "Did you see the view off in that direction?" flinging out an arm.

Next we headed to Michelle's and my favorite -  Chenonceaux, the castle that spans the River Cher.   Its  nickname is Castle of the Women" for previous tenants, several of which were Henry the whichever's husband - and I count three Henry 1, then 2, and finally #3.    Diane de Poitiers led the parade of women, followed by Catherine de Medici who died in 1589 and finally her daughter-in-law Louise de Lorraine, widow of Henry III.

Michelle and I walked the square garden, looking back at the chateau and laughing.  We agreed that the home decorators had the last laugh because no woman wants to live in her predecessors "home. "No! No! that is not the color of the drapes that I ordered!  Take it back immediately!"

We pondered the likelihood of mold in every corner - living in a castle that spans a river (and it was not a trickle-y little stream either. )

 It was beautifully sunny, then a cloud would shade the sun so this traveling light was amazing.  Lightweight jackets were just fine for that kind of a day.  

On leaving I noticed a shuttle van arriving and Asians departing it.  I asked the guard if they had many Asian visitors and he said, "Ah, yes - the Japanese now, they are very nice, but the Chinese (and he nearly spit on the driveway with disdain, "they do not obey.  They will stand directly under a defense de fumeur (no smoking) sign and puff away.  They pretend not to understand.  Bah - they can all go home!"

Our last stop was Chambord, famous for 77 stairwells and 282 chimneys.  Bruno looked at the roof bristling with towers and antennas and said, "He must have had a roaring case of erectile disfunction."  We laughed all the way back to the car.

We had a wonderful time then and again last night - without even stirring from our favorite chairs.

Monday, January 6, 2020

Taylor Swift Is Wearing My Kitchen Curtains

The materials had to come in the same bolt of fabric.  Except that my curtains are at least 30 years old.  French Provence fabric and sunflower design.

I was indulging myself this morning "reviewing" (this means laughing out loud while thinking, "What the hell was she thinking?!")  about most of the ladies' dresses at the Golden Globes awards.  

O/T  Ricky Gervaise use of colorful language:  Whoever hired him could expect a couple of times the F Word would be used - he's hosted several times before.  But now comes the self-righteous complaints.  The squeaks and squeals of outrage!  OMG! 

Anyhow, if you want to see my kitchen curtains, Google Taylor Swift's Golden Globes dress which is described thusly, "Talor Swift blossoming in a floral print."  Well, go Ricky Gervaise yourself, my kitchen blooms every day!  So hah!       

Sunday, January 5, 2020

Looking to Winter In the Caribbean?

Specifically the Dutch Caribbean?  As in Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, St. Maarten, Saba?  To name a few of the most popular tourist destinations.

Richie unearthed a copy of the KLM Guide to the Dutch Caribbean.  The prices about to be quoted were current as of 1972, 48 years ago.  There have been some changes.

Aruba-Caribbean Hotel and Casino   Single:  $36 to $47;  Double $38 to $52; Suite $85.
In 2020 a double is $493/night.  

Dinner at Le Petit Bistro, Aruba-Caribbean?  A five course fixed price dinner is "a stiff $15" to quote the guidebook.

What are the most affordable places?  Dominican Republic

Can't have one with a contrasting second...the  most expensive are St. Bart's and Anguilla which has the distinction of best dining in the Dutch Caribbean.  We were there with Richie's brother and wife some time ago and we can all swear to (not at) the food.     Deeelicious!  Since there is virtually nothing else to do in Anguilla but spend the day at the beach, eating lunch or buying a beer at the beachside shacks; dinner was about the only thing to look forward to every day.

But I'd go back to St. Martin, the French half of St. Maarten in a minute.  We only paused there long enough for lunch before making our flight, time which had to include casting a glance at the Duty Free goods.   Swiss chocolate and watches, French perfumes come to mind.

The more I write about and remember, the more I want to go back!

Saturday, January 4, 2020

A New Year and New Ways With Old Favorites

Latkes have traveled from ancient history as part of the Chanukah  celebration to this southwestern version in 2019.  They sound good to me, so see what you think?


1 lb. package frozen corn (3 1/3 cups)
1/2 cup finely diced red peppers
2 whole green onions chopped, 1/4 cup
3 T chopped cilantro or Italian parsley
1/4 teas. each:
Dried oregano, freshly ground pepper, cayenne pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
1 large egg white  1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable or whatever you like

Puree the corn, adding in all of the above for the batter.  Spoon 2 T each of batter into the pan for the "pancakes"  Fry until they're golden brown and carefully flip and do the raw side.
Garnishes for this masterpiece?
Finely diced tomato or chopped cilantro or sliced avocado whole pitted black olives or black olive slices  Set out the hot sauces in the refrigerator door.

Source:  LA Times Food section 12/20/2019  Consult it for recipes for
 Kabocha Squash Latkes,

Chunky Spiced Cranberry Apple Chutney

Zucchini Latkes with Dill  (salmon go with?)

From the book "1,000 Jewish Recipes" by Faye Levy

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Guest Columnist

Richie thought the following was important enough to merit the following brief column.  In the interests of peace in the house, may I present "In Baseball News"  (Bear with me; he doesn't ask much.)

"In case you did not notice it yet, perfect is no longer in vogue.  And to prove that point, Don Larson died today, age 90.  "Don who?" you say.  Well in October 1956 everyone  knew of Don Larson.  He pitched a perfect game in the 5th game of the 1956 World Series.  (Richie was 15 then for interested parties.)

He pitched a perfect game for the New York Yankees against the great Brooklyn Dodgers.  Who can forget the picture of Yogi Berra hugging Larson on the mound.  Yep, it was in all of the papers, world-wide.

"What are papers?" you ask?  Shame on you!"

"At Grandmother's house, there was Richie, sitting on the floor watching TV baseball!"
Richie's cousin Ruth Ellen

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The Annual Bookkeeping - Bring It On!

January 1st of any new year is one of my favorite days.  We buy write-on calendars in December with nice big squares to jot down various appointments, regularly scheduled events - Thursday Writers is every Thursday from noon to 2 p.m.  French classes are (whatever they are) - but there's room for doctors and dentists and social occasions.  The monthly dinner with Dee and Mouton.  It's really at a glance because I highlight events where we leave the house with a neon pink highlighter.

Statistically it interests me to take a look at the Dead List, carefully maintained as to person, age at time of and cause of, if known.  There are 26 names on this list; my father's death leading the parade as of July 16, 1986.   Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries.)

The total of my known dead is 26.  Of them eight died of cancer; five of old age and 13 of other events - cousins Lee and Judy died in Peru when their tour guide's car went off of the side of a cliff 8/27/2012.

I look at the list fondly and think for a moment or so about them.  Some readers may be thinking I'm a ghoul, but I see it as a way to honor them by remembering them and the events around our intermingled lives.

Much more cheery - the Birthdays List inasmuch as they are a celebration of a life in a good way.    The birthdays have been organized by month and date of month on their own little list.  January 1st is the day I settle in at the dining room table and start entering them in the write-on calendar by month.  Example:
7th  Audrey
11th Mike
22 Dee
28th  Sean
28th  Ina
This list is posted at the top of the calendar, not on the day itself.  Another at a glance reference.

This list also gives you a head's up on when you have to have a card in hand.  When the cards are in the house, write the date where the stamp would go and stack them in order.

Hallmark used to have funny cards, btw, but no longer.  Ralph's supermarket has some dandies.  For evilly dirty cards, hit your closest car wash.

My list is 49 people with the most being May birthdays (6) and March and February tied at five.

I have a third category:

12/25/2006  Loud, our cockatiel got the cage door loose somehow, the screen door was open (it was a hot Christmas day)  and the last I saw of him was bright yellow feathers heading straight south.

1/7/2007 We got Lady Bird, a 7 year old cocatiel.  Now in 2020, she's 20 years old.  And the cage doors are twisty-tied down.

Five of our previous cats, not all at one time, lived an average 15 years 6 months.  The oldest was 19  The youngest (breast cancer) was 11 and really brought the average down.

Statistics!  Bookkeeping!  Ready for a new year!  Enjoy!  .