Palm Trees and Blue Skies

While the North has had a significant snow the last week, we’ve been enjoying days that look like this. 

The season has started.  Temperatures in the low 80s with few storms and few clouds in the afternoon.   This was on Veteran’s Day, but I could have taken the same shot today. 

Other people seem to have the same idea.   The parking lots are more full, the bars are getting tougher to get served in, there are more out of state license plates on the roads.

Of course in 6 months and a few days, we’re going to be talking about the start of the Hurricane season.  For now, it’s time for us to enjoy the weather, get the outdoor chores done in the cool of the morning, and even wonder where we put our winter “coats” at.  

Snowbirds are arriving.  Enjoy your snow.

Excited Border Collies love MONKEY! MONKEY! MONKEY!

You never know what will send someone flying.

What we have here looking like road kill is a Flying Monkey.  This toy just narrowly missed getting shredded by an overzealous Border Collie after being launched across a living room by a rather large Moose.

The Moose, being me, learned that the Border Collie, being Lettie will have a mental meltdown every time she sees this toy. 

The toy in question has a sound box in its torso that when vibrated will scream like a howler monkey.  The arms are thin covers to a rubber tube that I’ve used in First Aid Certification Class as a tourniquet and they stretch out as long as your forearm.  Put your fingers in the hands of the monkey, pull back on the legs, and off the monkey flies into the screen of the window screaming all the way.

All this excitement means that all I have to do is hold the monkey by its head and shake it so the legs move and Mrs Dog, the non barky dog, starts to bark … over and over.  I haven’t made her hoarse yet but I am sure it’s on its way.  She’s not the type of dog that goes crazy, and she rarely barks. In fact I call her the “Stealth Dog” because she’s generally a quiet creature and usually is quite non verbal.

Just show her this toy and she will bark non stop until you either put it away, make it fly, or she manages to catch the thing.  What she’s going to do with it I have not a clue because every time she gets it, she brings it to her mat and sets it down as if to wait for it to do something on it’s own.  By that time I am able to get the thing away from her.

Needless to say, the white velcro on its hands means the Monkey is safe hanging from a hook well out of Dog’s Reach.

Keeping a Border Collie mentally stimulated means you don’t have a dog that is destroying the house.  Every so often, going way over the top with the dog and getting her over stimulated is a good thing – in moderation.   Only once or twice a week is all I need to keep her quiet and happy.  But when it happens… WOW!

Post Apocalypse Construction Picture

More of this Post Apocalyptic Stuff?

Kind of. 

The construction has started on the old Wings and Things site again.  This picture is about a month old and I thought I’d get it out before things change too much.

I’m in the process of doing some publishing and graphics work for Wilton Manors Main Street . That means that I have to go around the City taking pictures.  When things visibly change on the Wings and Things lot, I’ll make it a point to get a few digital shots off. 

The view here is through an arbor that is on the South side of the lot from the back.  I’m not quite sure what the intent is, but it looks like an Arbor was intended and it would be outside seating.   When Main Street did our “reimagineing” of the drive for the Two Lane Initiative, there’s a view of this porch covered with vines and seating under it.  I am truly hoping that this will be the end result of all this construction.  It should be a beautiful site.

For now, I’m hoping it will be as Delaware DOT says – Temporary Inconvenience, Permanent Improvement.

Parrot Curiosity Killed the Xmas Lights – Picture

Strictly speaking it didn’t kill the Xmas lights, I caught him in time.

Back in 1986, I bought Oscar from a pet store in Pennsylvania.  I’ve had him ever since.  He was an adult when I got him, and is named Oscar because he’s always been a green grouch.  He’s mellowing with age so the name isn’t quite as fitting as it once was.  I’ve kept him around through all the moves because he’s manageable as opposed to having a telephone booth sized cage with a cockatoo in the house.  His antics are entertaining, and he’s actually engaging in his grumpy ways. 

Realizing that he’s not really a grouch, just a fearful bird, I tend to take a hands off attitude with him, allowing him to play on top of his cage as I do my own thing around the house.  The cage is in the middle of the room on a room divider that is just the right height for me to use as a workbench.  Every time I pull apart a computer to build a Dumpster Server or work on something that needs room to roam, it tends to be on there. 

Standing with the project to the left, the bird cage to the right and Oscar comes out and climbs up on top so he can preen my hair and my ears.   He’s learning to be more friendly and with that comes more curiosity. 

Yes, preen my ears.  Maybe he’s saying hello, but this is pretty common behavior now.

This being the holiday season, we tested the lights and found one string of LED lights didn’t work right.  They change color through the rainbow and are C6 size.   They also look “retro”, and since the house was built in 1968, they work really well here.  The one string that didn’t work right was coming on red and staying red so we sent that one back to the vendor and got a new string.  That one string seems to work but was out on the room divider.  Oscar was out of the cage and he decided to explore while I was allowing them to “burn in” for testing purposes.

Putting things on top of the room divider is a great way to get this old buzzard curious.  He’ll climb out if the door’s open and walk over to what ever is there, look in and handle it.  I’ve ended up with screwdrivers on the floor and cables bitten through as a result.  He hasn’t chewed the wood… yet, but he has “handled” it. 

Needless to say, parrots are the Perpetual Two Year Old of the animal kingdom.  “Mine!” and “No!” are in their clownish little heads as they try to explore the entire house.  Luckily he has avoided Mrs Dog, and she wants nothing to do with him.  

I watch them all closely.

Sitting in the Big Green Chair doing my own thing, I hear rattling as the C6 bulb taps the glass.  Looking over I give the Big Green Bird the Evil Eye and say “I’m Watching You!”.   That’s quite enough for him, he pads over to the cage and climbs back in… for a while.

We went through this twice more when I decided that he might be safer without electrical appliances with mains voltages running through them, and I rather like having the little green clown safe around the house.

Burn in period is done, Oscar’s fine, the lights are fine, and all is right on the room divider now that the projects are done.

You just never know what your two year old will get into, even if he is 24 years old by the calendar.

Simple Lemon Pie Recipe and Review

This pie is SO simple that it could become a treasured childhood memory as you make this with your elementary school child.

It is SO simple that someone who “burns water” can make this.

I mean it REALLY is simple.   Three ingredients plus a ready made pie shell and an optional topping.

Here are the ingredients:

  1. 1/3 Cup Lemon Juice
  2. 8 Ounces Cream Cheese
  3. 1 Can (14 ounces) Sweetened Condensed Milk
  4. 1 Graham Cracker Pie shell.  

That’s all…. Oh how to “cook” this?  That’s the beauty of this pie, you don’t.

  1. Mix together the ingredients in a big bowl until they’re smooth.
  2. Pour Ingredients into Pie Shell.
  3. Chill in refrigerator until set.

Yes, you too can make a pie.

Now here’s the review: 

I made this for Thanksgiving.  I was pressed for time after churning butter, making biscuits, cookie dough, lunch and some other things were tossed in the mixed the day before Thanksgiving.  I had some “backup” cakes in the refrigerator that were ready-made so I was safe if this turned out badly.  I wanted quick!

It took me all of 10 minutes and that was because I dawdled.   You can put it all in a blender to make the filling silky smooth.  Next time I will because I used low fat cream cheese and it clumped more than I like. 

I also used Meyer Lemons which are amazingly juicy but a milder flavor than “regular” lemons.  One lemon gave me 1/3 cup juice which is an awful lot in comparison with the “regular” lemons.  I’ll use two next time and add a little cornstarch to thicken the mix a little more.

The pie’s taste was like a Lemon Cheesecake.  It was rich, tasted like a no bake cheesecake that I’ve had before.  I will make it again, especially since it was so quick to make. 

The only draw back I found was that since it was a No Bake pie, it wasn’t truly “firm”.  The texture was a wee bit looser than I personally prefer, but it did set up perfectly.  When my piece was served, it was also warmer since it was sliced and set out on the counter for 30 minutes.  I recommend serving this cold.

Variations include more lemon juice, use lime or another citrus juice, add a meringue topping, add whipped cream, mascarpone cheese, and finally low fat cheese.

Don’t forget the Cherry on top!  Enjoy and best of luck!

Happy Thanksgiving – Picture

Happy Thanksgiving from

Today, I expect… you may not get to this.  So I threw together the picture you see here.

I’m going to be having a Pot Roast today.  They sold the Prime Bottom Round that we were going to roast out from under us, so today we’re having Sirloin Tip roasted.  I don’t know what this will be like, and I’m writing this “yesterday afternoon” so if Plans Change, I’ll let you know.

I’m sitting in the Big Green Chair researching recipes, and I think what I’m going to do is make a Lemon Pie with three ingredients plus a Graham Cracker shell (Ready Made – Don’t Tell!).  If the pie comes out well, I’ll report on that later.

There’s going to be biscuits which means there will be extra butter for making cookies… that all has to happen “yesterday” so since “today” I’m taking off… Enjoy your holidays!

Pregnant Turkey – Humor

Sure, its two days in a row posting humor.  This one is from Velma.  I liked it so much that I have to share it.  Being an “Above Average” cook, I may try this some day… I’m not so happy with most stuffing anyway!

Since we’re having a Prime Roast in Port Wine Gravy instead, here’s my turkey for the day.  Thanks, Vel!

Pregnant Turkey

*This is priceless – would love to do this.*

One year at Thanksgiving, my mom went to my sister’s house for the traditional feast. Knowing how gullible my sister is, my mom decided to play a trick. She told my sister that she needed something from the store.

When my sister left, my mom took the turkey out of the oven, removed the stuffing, stuffed a Cornish hen, and inserted it into the turkey, and re-stuffed the turkey. She then placed the bird(s) back in the oven.

When it was time for dinner, my sister pulled the turkey out of the oven and proceeded to remove the stuffing. When her serving spoon hit something, she reached in and pulled out the little bird.

With a look of total shock on her face, my mother exclaimed, “Patricia, you’ve cooked a pregnant bird!” At the reality of this horrifying news, my sister started to cry.

It took the family two hours to convince her that turkeys lay eggs!

Yep………………SHE’S BLONDE!

Things You Can Only Say On Thanksgiving – Humor

Since we’re coming up on the giant gorge-a-thon that is Thanksgiving, I’m posting a joke that I got from Velma.  Feel free to repeat it on Thanksgiving – but only then because it would be weird. 

Things You Can Only Say On Thanksgiving……………..

1. Talk about a huge breast!
2. Tying the legs together keeps the inside moist.
3. It’s Cool Whip time!
4. If I don’t undo my pants, I’ll burst!
5. That’s one terrific spread!
6. I’m in the mood for some dark meat.
7. Are you ready for seconds yet?
8. Its a little dry, do you still want to eat it?
9. Just wait your turn, you’ll get some!
10. Don’t play with your meat.
11. Just spread the legs open & I’ll stuff it in.
12. Do you think you’ll be able to handle all these people at once?
13. I didn’t expect everyone to come at once!
14. You still have a little bit on your chin.
15. How long will it take after you stick it in?
16. You’ll know it’s ready when it pops up.

Elephant Ear Flower in Bloom – Picture

Being a chilly day (for us) I wanted something bright to look at.  It should be tropical and not terribly common.

I went through the most recent photo libraries that I had around and spotted this one picture.

I’ve heard them called Elephant Ear plants but after doing a bit of digging I found that it’s also Taro which the Hawaiians eat as Poi

The flower itself came and went, glowing in the evening setting sun.  The leaves are still there, as the plant is grown as an ornamental here.  There is a rather large stand of them next door.  Standing waist high these giant leaves make for a pleasant and showy display. 

Reading the description, it seems that you can grow them readily as long as they’re kept warm and planted in rich soils.  Protect from cool weather under 50F/10C and you are good to go.

So, Pat, you can grow them outside, but you’d have to pull them up over winter.  If you really want an exotic plant, I know of a couple palm tree species that will grow up there in the New Jersey Prairies and overwinter outdoors…

The Dumpster Server

I have been building PCs for about 22 years now.  I haven’t bought a new in the box computer since the 1980s.  I know the hardware intimately, and if anything assembling a desktop computer is getting easier.

You would expect me to say that but the truth is that as they put more parts on the motherboard, there are simply fewer pieces you need to put on that motherboard to get a workable low end or mid level desktop computer running.  

Laptops are different.  I’ve repaired them and the smaller hardware is always more difficult to work with.  You don’t pull a motherboard in a laptop, they’re not designed for that.  Other than swapping out disc drives, memory and a few other parts most people need to keep the screwdriver away from their laptops.  Leave that to some guy with the tools and most likely a magnifying glass.

I’ve pulled dead laptops apart and replaced the LCD a couple times before, and while it is always annoying, it can be done.  Replacing a CD ROM with a DVD burner is an annoying upgrade but for the most part if you’re patient and have the repair documentation you can do it yourself.

All that might explain why I have contempt for services like Geek Squad’s $199 in home set up of a PC.  If you do that and you’re near me you’re going to get a lecture, especially since I could use the cash.  In Home PC Set Up is a dead simple exercise if you can Read The Friendly Manual and that manual has been reduced to a single sheet of paper these days when you buy a brand new PC.

I have a rather large pile of cast off PCs here too.  Since we have a network, I use an old desktop machine as a server because it is safer than putting the “750GB Craig Drive” in an external box and plugging it into the USB port that gets stepped on by the dog or worse, me.

For the most part, people will have their machines for about 2 years, then buy a new one because the old one is too slow.  Without realizing that it is installed things like “toolbars” and other “crapware” that hitchhiked onto their machine when they installed something that they really needed by taking the “Express install” instead of the “Custom install”, the machine slows down with each piece of software until that 2 year old machine joins the other one that was in the closet from 4 years ago.

I live near a shopping center.  In the back of the center there is a dumpster that has a habit of having an interesting amount of electronic hardware of all sorts.  Since I can solder a new switch onto an old board, I’ve salvaged some interesting things out of that dumpster.  The latest was a practically new office PC.  By which I mean lightly used, almost no dust inside, treated like it was a religious object then sent to the thrift store who put it in there.  I got it home, plugged it in and it turned on happily and went to an almost empty desktop.

After reformatting the hard drive from the recovery partition, the machine was fully functional and happy as a clam.   I added extra memory and realized that while it is a Pentium 4 3GHz machine, slow by today’s standards, it had a few benefits for me.   The motherboard itself was a small one – about the size of a sheet of letter paper with some of the bottom trimmed off.  The machine now had 1GB of memory and running Windows XP and was quick by even my standards.   Sure, it was built in 2003, but it had a lot of life left.

All that took me about an hour of actual “work”.

It gave me the opportunity to move the hardware inside that big black IBM case into a little cube of a case I’ve had here.  After moving everything along, I dropped the Craig Drive in there and now I have a server.

Why is that important?  You can’t stuff a desktop disc drive in a laptop no matter how hard you try.  If you are using a Cable Modem and High Speed Internet, having a network is nothing more than adding a little hardware and configuring the machines to work together.

The price was right, and it fit very nicely under my hutch on my pine desk out in the Florida room.   If it were a little newer, I’d tell you how to enable Wake On Lan so you can get your machines to start remotely… but since it isn’t I’m happy with walking out there to press the On button when I want access to that big drive.

Dumpster Servers can be real nice, if you know how to make them work for you.  Speaking of which, it’s time for me to “do a backup” of this laptop.   When is the last time you did a backup of your PC?  Hmm?