Saturday, November 30, 2013


Eight years of National Blog Posting Month or NaBloPoMo comes to an end today.  It's been a long haul blogging every day, not the least of which is chasing down that pesky Muse to inspire me with something juicy.

Unfortunately the neighborhood has been cooperating!  Barky dogs not so barky.  Insane drivers not so insane.  Squirrely squirrels not so squirrely.  Everybody behaving themselves.  How can I get inspired in such a calm, ordered world.

Well, here's to some crazy times ahead, perhaps.  I'm sure we can get some puppies in the neighborhood to keep us up at night.  And drivers, what's up with not turning right from the left-hand lane?  The lawns are rich with acorns for all you fat squirrels to go nuts on.

Come on, guys, let's get busy.  We've got work to do!

And with that Kink and I are going to pig out on the last of the eggnog and call it a month.

Until next year.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Not the Leftover

Leftovers have such a bad reputation.  I think it's because in the simplest case a previous meal is reheated and served somewhat stale, not quite as good as the original and with low expectations.

But with a little thought and some different ingredients a leftover can be turned in to a magnificent meal.

I give you - Turkey Tetrazzini!

Surely this tasty dish is served by itself as a new, main course.  Following a Thanksgiving roast turkey dinner you have the main ingredient at hand, that is, turkey!

All you need to add is spaghetti, mushrooms, almonds, cheese and cream.  Of course, you can jazz up the recipe with some white wine and colorful vegetables, but the basics are just fine.

Here's the blueprint:

Turkey (duh!)
Sautéed mushrooms and almonds.
Cooked spaghetti noodles.
A white sauce with cream added.
Grated parmesan cheese.

Mix it all together in a casserole dish, cover with cheese and bake at 350 until browned.

Amaze your friends and create a leftover leftover, leftover turkey tetrazzini.  The crowd went wild.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Don't Mess With Thanksgiving

That's the rule:  Don't mess with Thanksgiving dinner.

Here's the blueprint:

Roasted turkey with strips of bacon on the top.  Internal temperature 170.
Cornbread stuffing with ground sausage, onions, celery and pecans.
Cheese scalloped potatoes.
Claire's fresh green bean casserole with mushroom sauce and onion bits.
Dad's candied sweet potatoes.
Brussels sprouts with roasted chestnuts

Those items are "fixed" on the menu and subject to change only after an experimental phase followed by general consensus.  The green bean casserole, for example, was added several years ago after a couple of years as an unofficial side dish.

Molly's cranberry relish was added last year as a trial and survived another year as an experimental side.

Here are things that were mistakes from the get go:  goose, fish, ham, turducken and anything not turkey.  Mashed potatoes - not a hit.  Grilled yams with mango sauce - just say no.  Roasted potatoes and carrots were once on the list, but have fallen out of favor in the last decade or so.

I once offered to smoke the turkey.  Vetoed.
How about deep frying the turkey?  Uh, no, no and No.  En Oh.
We could go out for dinner.  Sure, and we'll skip Christmas, too.  Not a chance.

It's not a bad rut to be stuck into.  We have a few traditional items that we only make once or twice a year, for no reason other than it's what we do once or twice a year, and we bring in new items not as replacements for traditional fare, but to provide some new excitement to the dinner.

Thanksgiving Dinner is something we look forward to all year long.  It's just not the sort of thing you'd want to prepare every day or even once a month.  It's too special.  Of course, in a few short weeks we'll be doing it all over again with Christmas Dinner but, you know, we're already looking forward to that!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

W the D

"Do you want to go for a walk?"

You can ask this to any dog in the World and get this look.

Any dog.  Any country.  French dog.  German dog.  Italian dog.

You can ask a dog in France, a French dog by any definition, "Do you want to go for a walk?" in English, IN ENGLISH, and you will get this look.

This is the "Hell Yes, Let's Go" look followed by a wagging tail and whimpering sounds.

All dogs love to go for a walk.  It's just what a dog does.  You just mention the phrase and the dog is ready to go.  Now!  You can't say, "I'm going to take the dog for a walk in 20 minutes," because the dog simply turns off after the word "walk."  Twenty minutes is the same as NOW!

Ask a cat the same question and if, maybe if, just maybe perhaps IF,  the cat acknowledges your presence in its world the answer, if you are lucky, would be a blank stare or perhaps a yawn or the commencement of licking some itchy part of its anatomy.

But, not only does the dog know, it's very difficult to fool the dog.

You see that dog in the picture?  Yeah, that one with his tongue out.  That's his Happy We're Going For a Walk tongue.  See those eyes?  They're looking at you.  They're looking through you.  Those eyes have ESP and that dog knows what you're thinking and you're thinking "Walkies!"

We tried to fool the dog by spelling.  That worked maybe once.  "Hey, I think I'll take the dog for a W-A-L-K."  The dog was not fooled.

We tried, "Hey, I think I'll take the D-O-G for a W-A-L-K."  Didn't work.

Then it was, "Hey, you know," head nod to the door.  Didn't work.

And, of course, the "I'm going to W the D," was a total failure.

We tried texting.  Didn't work.  The dog saw me press Send and heard the phone across the room go "beep."  Total failure.

The dog knows.  And the dog knows that you know which is why he gives you the Puppy Dog look and whimpers.  Face it, all your weaknesses have been exposed by 15,000 years of evolution honing the ability of the dog to know when the walk is going to happen.  I imagine that eons ago when man and dog lived in caves and the leash had not been invented that when Thag asked Barky, "You me go walk?" it was the same thing.  To no avail that was probably when cavemen learned to spell, and greatly disappointed by the result.

So, here I am typing this story and You Know Who is staring at me.

"You writing about me?  You got something to say?  Come on, big guy, let's go.  Get the leash before there's trouble."

Yes, master.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fire It Up

Our house has a gas fire.  Two, in fact.  One in the Living Room and one in the Den.  They're great on  a frosty winter's day here in Houston when the thermometer dips below 65. Quite comforting.

All of our previous houses had real fireplaces that required wood to be burned on a grate.  That was great, too.  There was something majestic about the ritual of starting the fire, getting the wood organized (sometimes going out into the snow to grab some logs), and the chopping of wood or organizing a delivery of a rick.

One of my best memories of fireplaces was staying at a condo in New Mexico on a skiing holiday.  They had a fireplace but no "gas starter."  It was just a hearth and a grate for wood.  The people who were sharing the condo with us simply gave up trying to start a fire, but not me.  Using my trusty Swiss Army knife I trimmed off enough wood to serve as a starter and managed to get a little flame going with a single match.

Yes, a single match.  Any more would have been an insult!

The wood was dry enough that my little fire caught the larger log on fire in short order and soon the room was ablaze.  No, I didn't get any thanks, nice of you to ask, but I have the satisfaction to this day of having used my camping skills to bring warmth to our little freezing group.

These days I'm quite happy to press a button and have a flame erupt around our fake logs.

Kink doesn't care, either.  He just curls up beside me with his back to the fire and purrs.

Smart cat.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Left Hand Haiku

Kink on my lap sits
Pinning my right hand tightly
With left hand I type.


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Foul Weather Friend

Kink is a real coldy bones.

He arrived at our house at the end of January on a rainy afternoon and immediately made himself at home on a soft blanket on the couch next to the fire.  Over the years he has not changed much although he sports a thick coat of fur.

He still gets chilly willy.

When the weather starts heading towards Winter, that is, below 55-degrees, Kink seeks out the warmest lap, curls up and hunkers down for the duration.

Like today.  Tomorrow.  And the next 4 months!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cranberry Best

I fell in love with a young thing a few years ago.  Yes, my wife knows and she approves.

My love is an extraordinary chef and talented writer.  Who could not fall in love with that?

This is the blueprint for cranberry relish that I relish ever since I cooked it a few years ago:

24 oz apricot preserves
3/4 cup white distilled vinegar
3/4 cup raspberry preserves
ground cloves  OR NOT!
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
2 bags fresh cranberries
1/2 cup crystallized ginger
1 1/4 dried tart cherries

Relish it you will.

Basically you combine the first bunch of ingredients, then the cranberries until they "pop" which is about 30 seconds, then let the thing cool and thicken.  You will not be disappointed but you may be in love with Molly who reproduced this dish from her family recipe.

OMG, so good!  You will never buy Ocean Spray again.  Here's the stuff.  Just do it.  No regrets.

Molly, I love you!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Where Were You When ...

On this day, the 50th anniversary of the death of President John Kennedy, the Internet is full of stories about "where were you when Kennedy was shot."

Well,  not to be outdone here's my story.

I was in the 7th grade.  We had just come back from lunch and were settling into our seats when the teacher, Mrs. Alford, came in and we all got quiet.  We always got quiet when Mrs. Alford came in because she was a tall, imposing teacher with a stern look (yes, she looked aft) and you just didn't want to cross her.

That day, however, she was looking a little down.  She slinked into the room, shoulders hunched, eyes downcast and we all knew we were in big trouble.  We didn't know what we had done, but we had done something and the boom was about to be lowered.

But, the boom never came.  We were off the hook.

Mrs. Alford straightened herself at her desk and addressed the class.  She talked to us about the units in government we had been studying, about the House and the Senate and the relationship between the President and Vice President, sort of a review.

Then she caught herself as if stifling a sneeze and many years later I realized it was the emotion of the moment that seized her.  She looked up and said, "The President has been shot.  In Dallas.  That's all I know."

Someone in the class shouted, "Hooray!"  The "someone" was the local thug who was pretty much a moron on a good day but his was the only voice and he quickly shut up.  You see, Kennedy wasn't universally loved, especially in the South where I lived.  There were a lot of people who didn't shed a tear at the assassination of the President.  Some openly laughed.  However, at that moment we in Mrs. Alford's 7th grade class were silent.  However we felt personally we didn't want that boom to be lowered on us.

Alford went on for a few more minutes about the issues of succession following the death of a president and it was clear that she hoped this wouldn't happen.

Suddenly the school librarian appeared at the doorway.  She was clutching a handkerchief and was red-eyed.  She looked directly at Mrs. Alford, who stood up and looked at her expectantly, and said, "He's dead.  The President is dead."  Our room was at the end of the hall.  The librarian turned to move to the next classroom before she realized she was at the end of the hall and did a little double-take not knowing which way to go.  Pausing slightly she looked left and right then walked away the way she came.

Funny how one remembers details like that.  I remember the librarian wearing a flower print dress, red flowers on a light background.  She wore glasses.  But I couldn't tell you the weather that day or what I wore or what I had for lunch.

Following the news Mrs. Alford slumped into her chair and looked at nothing for what seemed a long time.  Eventually she looked up, surveyed the class, and asked, "Who can tell me the name of the Vice President?"  We all knew the answer to that question because it had been on a quiz a few days before.  We knew the names of the Cabinet Secretaries, too, and the Speaker of the House and all sorts of other people.  Normally half a dozen hands would have shot up to answer a question posed by the formidable Mrs. Alford.  We were all eager to please.  Not today, though.  Not at this time and in this place.  We sat there in stunned silence.  Nobody said a word.

The usually animated Mrs. Alford didn't seem to care.  No cajoling, no encouraging, no berating.  She had lost the wind in her sails and was totally spent.  Before she could catch her breath, though, the loudspeaker in the room blared to life and the Principal announced that school would be dismissed early today.  Immediately, in fact.  Please be careful going home and students who needed to call their parents could do so using the telephone in the school office.

I picked up a couple of books, left the classroom and rode my bicycle home like I did every day.

The streets were empty.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Beaujolais nouveau

It arrived!

The 2103 beaujolais.  It's bright, fresh with a hint of France and possibly bottle and cork.  Hmmm, it's red and behaves like a liquid.  It goez doun a treat maning i'm enjoying each bulp.

Oh, golp.  goll.  no, gulp!  gu;p.  sip.  yeah, that's it sip. not what i'm not typel.

OK, good it is.  Hints of slcohol sna it might be aloghoic, I dunno.  there's a quirrel1,

where'st he shuft key.  fug it1

i can't find shirt, shfti , shifrt, fusoud , focus, shift key.  that thing.

must sleep

Nouveau good.  in small doses.   plz

me bad xmple.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chestnut Friend

I have a new friend. We met over a chestnut.

Yes, that's strange.  A chestnut?

Well, the story is somewhat short.  It turns out we had a mutual friend on Facebook who had never, ever in her entire LIFE eaten a chestnut.

Not chestnut stuffing nor chestnuts with Brussels sprouts with lemon and butter, nor the best - roasted chestnuts (over an open fire, just like the song.)  

Nope.  Never.

So, in her Facebook posting came many comments about chestnuts but one in particular stood out.  It read in part:

"A roasted chestnut is best eaten from a street vendor on a cold night.  It creates a memory that will never fade."


London.  Winter.  Years ago (many).  I and my sweetheart were strolling along Cromwell Road on our way to some pub or event when we passed a vendor hovering over a charcoal fire roasting chestnuts.  

If you have ever walked by a coffee shop roasting coffee, this is second to that. It's a delightful smell on a cold winter's night, full of sweetness and promise, not unlike squiring my sweetheart through the streets.  Both delightful.

"Oh, chestnuts!" she said.

"I've never had them," I said.

"Oh, please, you'll like them!"

She had me at "Oh" so I bought a bag for 50p and we continued down the cold street cracking chestnuts and feeding them to each other like some kind of lovebird, so many years ago ... did birds eat like that?

Chestnuts.  I loved them.  I loved her.  I loved the times.

The question remains.  Are chestnuts good?  Yes, they are.  But more than the sweet, smokey, nutty taste of chestnuts is the taste of love past, present and future.  Chestnuts are Dickens and Tiny Tim and cold nights, warm covers, hot fires and passions fulfilled.

Chestnuts are comfort and a link to past times when chestnuts were the promise of a future, safe from the cold and with the warmth of things to come.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Pizza Race

Tonight I signed up for a pizza race.

Here are the rules.  Order a pizza with your smart phone, then race home to beat the pizza guy.

I was zooming through my neighborhood when I saw some headlights in my rear view mirror.

"Could be the pizza guy," I thought, and I speeded up.

He speeded up.

As I performed a Fast and Furious handbrake skid turn into my driveway he screeched to a halt in front of my house.  We both raced to the front door.

"Beat you!" we both shouted simultaneously.

Breathing heavily I gave the pizza guy a good tip for effort.

"I'd share this with you," I said, "but I guess you're sick of pizza being a delivery guy and all."

"Not really," he said.

So, we sat there on the lawn and ate pizza right as the International Space Station soared overhead.

"Wow," pizza delivery guy said, " that would be a cool delivery."

Silently we both agreed.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Snot Funny

Kink the Cat sneezes.  He sneezes a lot and once he gets going he might belt out three or four head-shaking, snot-rattling snorts before he sorts himself out.

Cat's don't give you any warning when they sneeze.  It comes on suddenly and they might even be asleep before, KA-SNLAFFFFF, and you're covered in sticky goo.

The first time Kink really got me with a head-full of Kat Goo, I was reminded of that scene in the movie, "Ghostbusters," where one of the guys gets "slimed."

I know how it feels.

It's not just wet, either.  It's sticky and not the kind of stuff you can just wipe off, although that is your immediate reaction.  If you wipe, it only smears out into a thinner layer of sticky goo.

The first time Kink sneezed all over my laptop screen I naively got a paper towel and tried to wipe it off.

Big mistake.  Wiping just made it worse.  Screen cleaner didn't help, either.  I thought I was in that Cat in the Hat book where Thing One and Thing Two make a huge mess cleaning up a small spot.

But, being the patient type I finally just closed up my laptop and went to bed.  It turns out that was the right thing to do.

Dried cat snot has quite different physical properties to wet cat snot:  it simply flakes off.  Eureka!

Still, even though I know the secret it's no fun getting slimed by Kink.  However, it's not all bad.  When Kink blows his sinuses all over my screen, I just close it up and go to sleep.

Even if it's two in the afternoon.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Old story, new update.

Eons ago I subscribed to the Scientific American Library, a series of books that would come out every few months for about $20 each.

The first book was, "Powers of Ten," a visual exploration of the very large, the Universe to the very small, the inside of the nucleus of an atom.  Each page represented a power of ten magnification (or reduction) from the previous page.  Fascinating book.  Way pre-Internet.  Published in 1982, the book transcribed the essence of the 1977 film by Charles and Ray Eames.

Great concept, fantastic visual book and a real keeper.

So it was with most of the books in the series, always a surprise to open the package.  Alas, all good things come to an end and several years into the series the books came more infrequently, were thinner and less comprehensive and the subject matter not as interesting.  I began to return books, as was my privilege, until the publishers got snippy and told me I either had to start buying the books or drop the subscription.

I dropped the subscription as did many other subscribers and the program faded away.  Good while it lasted.

The new update is that in making room on the bookshelf for tomes littering the house it became clear that something had to give, go or be given away.  Having not cracked open a Scientific American Library book in nearly 25 years and noticing that the pages were fading, covers cracking and spines hardening, I recovered several feet of shelf space and said good-bye to old friends that were once a good buy.

The old story involves one particular book that arrived on a particular day as we came home from work.  The book was leaning against the door and I spied it as we drove into the garage.  Excitedly I commented that a new Library book had arrived and while my better half went inside to change out of her work clothes, I moseyed around to the front door, picked up the book and started to open the package.

Inside I announced, "Hey, I was right.  It's a new Scientific American Library book."

"What's it about," I heard from the back of the house.

"Fire," I shouted.

"WHAT?" came a somewhat alarmed response.

"Fire," I shouted, "the book is on Fire!"

True, that was the title and subject of the book:  Fire.

Immediately, though I had a wild-eyed, panicky, not-so-better half running down the hall prepared to man the hoses.

While I stood there calm and clueless (a persistent condition, I might add) she was looking around for the fire and only after a few tense seconds did the misunderstanding get resolved.

"Fire?" I said quietly, "the book is on Fire?"

And those were the last words heard in the house that day.

I guess there is an epilogue.  Of the twenty-plus books I culled out two as keepers:  Powers of Ten and, of course, Fire.  I mean, after all we'd been through?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

This Can

See this can?  It's good until 2020.  How do I know?  Easy, I have cans older than that in the back reaches of my cupboard.

So long as they don't explode when I open them, or on their own, they're good to go!

Besides, these dates are all approximate and figured out by "scientists" and unreliable people like that.  I say if the food doesn't kill you it makes you stronger.

Yeah, Mushroom Soup, you tell them!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Old Cat

We have an old cat.

Really old cat.

Twenty-one year old cat.

He purrs a lot and I imagine when I'm his age, relatively speaking, I won't purr so much.

I'll be shouting at kids to get off my lawn!


That will be me.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lamb Curry

I love lamb curry.

Sorry, you vegans, but I love vegetable curry and lamb curry.

It turns out that the recipe I use for lamb curry and Texas chili is exactly the same.  Oh, well, not EXACTLY the same but close.

The main ingredient is TIME meaning you need to let it simmer for at least 2 hours.  Other than that you need onions, lamb or beef, chopped tomatoes, stock, and spices.  

Surprisingly, it comes out the same, only different!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

School Zones

We all drive through School Zones when they are active, that is about 20 MPH.  No big deal.  It's between 2:30 and 4PM and it holds you up for, like, 30 seconds in the grand scheme of things.

So, what is with people who not only drive at 60 MPH through a school zone, but who honk at people driving at the correct speed limit.

Oh, I get it, cell phones!  These people are talking to Very Important People who don't care about little kids crossing the street.

Well, I'm glad that's solved.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Kink Blessing

Hail kitty, full of grace,
You have whiskers on your face.
Let us stroke your silken fur,
Bless us with your gentle purr.

I imagine Kink on a Queen's Cushion giving us the hands on.

We are blessed, Kink!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Porky Stewy Thing

If I told you I was going to cook a pork stew I wouldn't be offended if you thought that kind of meal was rebarbative.  Indeed, at first blush I was skeptical of the "recipe," such as it was, and whether this concoction of pork, onions, peppers and broth would be anything more than bland.

However, history has demonstrated that what we now call the Porky Stewy Thing is quite remarkable.

Here's the blueprint, although many adjustments can be made, all good:

Pork chops - I use about 1.5 lb of boneless, butterfly chops cut into half-inch cubes.
2 onions
8 Roma tomatoes
8 tomatillos
2 jalapenos
1 bell pepper ( red, green, orange or yellow - your choice )
2 tbsp tomato paste (or more if you like it)
1 Knorr stock cube, beef or chicken or vegetable
corn - fresh from two ears or frozen or canned
water as needed

Time - about two hours.

That's it.  I often throw in a chayote squash that I cook in the pot, whole, then pull out and remove the inner core, chop into cubes and return to the pot.  Perhaps an ancho pepper.  Maybe a zucchini.  A potato works.  Carrot, too.  Your choice.

I don't overload the porky stew with too many different vegetables.  Only a few works well and doesn't complicate the dish.

The surprising thing about this meal is that it doesn't require any additional spices. I don't add salt, garlic powder, chili powder or anything.  Just the stuff above and let it simmer for about 2 hours.

The broth thickens and the natural spices blend and the result is hearty and usually spicy enough. If not you can always add a dash of your favorite chili sauce to your bowl.

Serve with hot tortillas or corn bread.

The key ingredient is time!  Anything less than two hours will result in a less than satisfactory, thinly tasting gruel.  Don't skimp on the time!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Waiting for a Song

If I had any skill in melopoeia I would fill the air for this little guy.

For now I'll just let the light tell the story.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Out of Tune

Today I conducted a training session on "sparking."

No, not that kind of sparking!  And, no fires.

The "sparking" was how to jazz up a meeting involving youth, or a banquet.  Sparking in this context is about making an event fun, exciting and interesting without pole dancers.  Rats, I may have missed out on something.

In the course of the session I was called upon to lead a song which is always dreadful.  I am totally absonous creating a noyse neither sweete nor melodious.  But, I got through it and nobody died.  Hey, winning!

Anyway, the sparking was sparky and the singing was, well, that word.

Friday, November 08, 2013


Hot water.

We take it for granted.  Turn on the tap, wait a few seconds and lovely hot water to wash your hands, hair, bod or stuff in the sink.

Hot water.

It's everywhere.  Gone are the days when you boiled it in a pot or kettle, poured it in a tub of cold water to take a bath.  Just turn the tap and there it is.  On demand.

Except ...

... when the oojah goes South for the winter and hot goes tepid to lukewarm to downright chilly heading for cold.

That's when you make the call to your faithful plumber who is always sitting by the phone waiting for that call at which time he will tell you, "Oh, the oojah went out.  Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but your house has two oojahs and they'll both have to be replaced.  Hang on for a second while I call the BMW dealer and place an order for a new car."

Plumber put me on hold.  Hold music was Pink Floyd, "Money."  Figures.

Well, two oojahs later we are back in hot water, somewhat poorer but richer in the luxury of hot water on demand.  And demand it I will.

In the morning.  Right now all is well in Mudville and I'm calling it a night.  It was a tiring day watching those guys work.  Out with the old, in with the new (times two, of course!)

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Gam a Mam

Let's do brunch.

So done.

A gam with a man, man a mam.

"Where you been?"


"Oh, how long?"

"Five years."

Long pause.  Five years?  Has it been five freaking years?  Really?

"Yep, five years.  What's gone on in that time?"

Well, I dunno, a furnace, dishwasher, refrigerator, pool pump or two, roof work, painting, several cars, kids in college, the mind boggles!  THE MIND BOGGLES!

Five years!  Are you insane, man?  Stuff happens!

What have you done in five years, I asked?

"Well, I wrote a book and now I'm editing it and I built a boat.  What about you?"

Hmmm, well, I wrote about 10,000 Facebook postings, didn't build anything and hate boats.

"Seems like you did very well," we both said, and drank our coffee in silence.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Muckibus Moon

"Was there an eclipse?"

"I don't remember.  Yesterday, maybe?"

"No, tonight, the moon, it's all muckibus."

"Nay, sentimental it is not, dark it is."

"So, that's an eclipse?"

"Are you going to drink that?"

"Nay, nay, ye can have it.  Nothing but spit and froth."

"I've had worse.  Muckibus worse."

"Aye, sentimental."

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Damp Squib

"A penny for the Guy!  A penny for the Guy!"

A kid on a street corner in London held out a red charity canister asking for a donation.  Next to him was what looked like a scarecrow:  pants and a shirt stuffed with something, a crude head and a hat.

I had no clue but dug in my pocket for a coin, brass if possible.

That was my first introduction to Guy Fawkes Day, an English celebration of the day, November 5, in 1605, when the hapless Fawkes was captured underneath the Houses of Parliament guarding a cache of gunpowder he and his fellow conspirators were planning to use to blow up parliament and the king.  Guy Fawkes and his confederates were executed a few months later, but the audacious plot captured the imagination of the population and the day has been celebrated by fireworks, parties and charity collections asking for a "penny for the Guy," a Fawkes effigy.

A failed pyrobolist, Fawkes succeeded in providing an Autumn celebration, making an excuse to set off fireworks and to have a bit of fun.

Blowing up buildings in the 1600's was nothing new, actually a pastime of sorts.  Not without its hazards, of course.  A particular kind of bomb called a petard would be carried to a castle wall and the fuse lit.  Premature explosions were an occupational hazard for the sappers who dealt with petards coining the phrase "hoist by one's own petard."

During the siege of Corfe Castle, sappers dug successfully under one of the towers and set off a huge charge.  Unfortunately, the tower was very well constructed and simply sank about 5 meters entombing the attackers who are, apparently, still down there.

Large parts of Corfe Castle still exist.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Not In Hot Water

If you're going to have a plumber, it's best if he's Scottish.  There's no messin' around.

"Aye," plumber Scott said, "it's aefauldly knackered."

He could have ended that sentence with "ka-ching" because that was coming next.

"What are the damages," I enquired as tepidly as the "hot" water running out of my taps.

"Well, it's never easy these things, is it?" Scott ruminated.

I heard, "Ka-Ching."

Scott mused, "There's the piping and the grommets and the widgets and the whatzits and you'll need two thing-a-ma-bobs."  Scott was lost in a vision of driving his new BMW.

I heard, "KA-Ching."

"Oh, and there's the haulin' and shovin' and pushin' ... all uphill ... both ways."

I heard, "KA-CHING."  "Will there be bagpipes," I asked?

"Oh, aye, and haggis!  Ye do have a nice supply of single malt, I hope.  Helps the installation a treat."

And with that Scotty danced a little jig out to his truck while I rummaged around in the liquor cabinet for some single malt.

"Might as well start now," I thought, and poured myself a double KA-CHING.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Turkey Savasana

I was savasana.  Prone but 180 degrees not prone.  Looking at the sky.  Thinking, "Do turkeys fly?"

And about that moment, not a moment too soon or a moment too later, I observed a whooshing quite close to my closed eyes.  More of a flap-flapping than a whoosh.  A whoosh would have been a swan or a goose (Canadian, probably.) or an errant Frisbee.

But, no this was definitely a flap-whoosh.

I cocked an eye, always wanting to cock an eye and having no idea what "cocking an eye" actually meant, other that it didn't involve a cock - of any kind.

Anyway, I squinted as best I could and saw a small bird about the size of a Tyson chicken flapping overhead at full speed.

Without thinking I uttered a, "What ho!" at the errant avian and to my surprise he stopped mid-air and hovered.

"What ho, yourself!" he squawked from overhead.

"Where do you go, my little Tyson morsel, er, my little drumbstick?"

The bird examined me closely and confided, "I'm testing the escape route," pointing to the red comb attached to his beak, "Turkey disguise."

Oh, I thought, very effective, just like a very small turkey.

The bird continued, "Tyson doesn't do turkeys.  We've spent months working on this disguise.  I'm the first over the wall."

"Well, you fooled me," I lied and the little chicken flapped his wings even harder, looked pleased and zoomed into the sunset.

Later that month I observed thousands of turkey-disguised chickens winging their way to freedom.  And to this day I wonder where they went and what was their fate.

May I ever know?

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Really, Mall, really?

Really, Mall, really?

You think it's Christmas, already?

Hello, Captain Calendar calling, it's No-vem-ber.

No.  Freaking.  Vember!

Of course, I'm overreacting to the inevitable that's been inevitable for over a month, now.  Yeah, I've seen Christmas displays in a few stores as early as late September.  At least if I act quickly I can get my opanka order in this year.  Missed it last year.  To slow.


There used to be an order to things, said me as the old man sitting on a park bench reminiscing to pigeons who only came for the breadcrumbs but tolerate the rant mainly because they speak Pigeon, not English, he said avoiding the obvious reference to pidgin English.

Anyway, there used to be an order to things and what kept the order was Elementary school.  Yes, it's true.  In elementary school there were four parts to the Fall semester:

1.  September with the beginning of Fall colors.  Stories about pioneers, drawing pictures of trees and coloring the leaves in yellow, brown, read, burnt orange (my personal favorite, go Longhorns!) and, for reasons I can't personally explain, magenta.  I think I just liked the name.

2.  October was the month of Halloween, duh, with drawings of pumpkins, Jack o' Lanterns, candy and all that stuff building up to the great night itself, lured by the promise of a 15-lb haul of free candy.

3.  November brought Thanksgiving with stories about Pilgrims, Indians, hardship and, of course, the great feast.  Who hasn't made a Pilgrim hat out of construction paper and worn it proudly.  Proudly, I say!

4.  December, finally, at long last, oh, how we have waited for you bringing us Christmas!  And like the previous devious months we had to wait until the end.  We sang songs, drew a thousand bad Santas, although, to be fair, we wouldn't appreciate a real "Bad Santa" until much, much later (Oh, my, little girl, you have been so very, very bad ...)  Then Christmas would slam down upon us in full fury - a candy fest, a present fest, a feast fest and all so overwhelmingly good that we would need an entire year to recover, prepare and dive in to it's decadent luxury once again.

But, now the Mall has gone and messed it up.  The Mall ignored September except for a pathetic Labor Day sale, as if anyone really cared about a day of work.  October was completely ignored.  And here it is, the month of the first Fall feast and, what?  Any turkeys to be seen?  No!  Any Pilgrims pilgriming?  No!  Just a big, fat, fake Christmas tree announcing to all the world that you have LESS THAN 60 SHOPPING DAYS LEFT BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!!

Begin the stampede, trampling the true order of things.

Well, not me.  I'm going to enjoy my November and ignore the other stuff.  I've got a new oven coming and into it I will stuff the biggest turkey I can find.  Don't worry, Mr. Tyson, I've got your back!

Friday, November 01, 2013

National Blog Posting Month


I promised to write more and failed!  Damn you, Facebook!  I'm been spending time there and not here.  My bad.

OK, one of my readers, possibly my only remaining reader asked if I would be returning to NaBloPoMo and the answer is YES!

Thirty days of postings starting with this lame excuse.

What a year it's been, 2013 and I can't believe it's already coming to a conclusion.  I mean, a fang in a Jag lasts longer!

So, I'll have some stories of 2013 past and present.

Meanwhile, Yea, NaBloPoMo!

(p.s.  Got a rotten cold just in time to be non-productive.  Rats.)