The Frenchman and The Englishman

The Frenchman and the Englishman

One day a Frenchman saw an Englishman having breakfast at a cafe. He decided to have some fun with him.
“Hey buddy,” the Frenchman said as he approached the Englishman.

The Englishman ignored him, and continued to eat his bread.

The Frenchman pops some gum into his mouth and takes a seat opposite the Englishman.

“Do you eat the bread crust in England?” The Frenchman asks, chewing his gum.
“Yeah.” The Englishman replies.
“Well in France we don’t. We melt the crust down, turn it into bread and sell it to England.”
The Englishman ignores him and starts to spread jam in his bread.

“You take jam with your bread?” The Frenchman says and blows a bubble.
The Englishman grumbles back, “yes.”
The Frenchman smiles and says, “Well in France we squeeze the juice outta the berries, then melt the skins down into jam and sell them to England.”
The Englishman rolls his eyes. By now he was annoyed by the Frenchman’s snide attitude and the blowing of his bubblegum.

He asks the Frenchman,” do you have sex in France?”
The Frenchman blows another bubble and grins,” heck yeah we do.”
“And do you throw away the condoms after you’re done?”
The Frenchman gives a confused look,” of course we do!”
The Englishman tells him,” well in England we don’t. We melt down the used condoms, then pass it off as gum and sell them to France.”

What Do You Do At 4:30AM When You Have House Guests?

The first thing I saw was a black nose.   I didn’t know it was a nose, I just knew it was in my face and in my left eye.

I opened the other one just for good measure.

Having stirred in my sleep, I awoke my dog.  He returned the favor by awaking me.

Seeing the clock glowing the hour of stupid O’Clock in a brilliant teal, I tried to convince myself that getting out of bed at 4:30 in the morning was not a good idea. 

That lasted for all of about 15 minutes.

Rack had settled onto the cool terrazzo next to the bed.  I rolled over, draped my left arm down and began giving him some well earned belly rubs.  If you can’t get back to sleep, you may as well make someone feel good whether that someone has two legs or four.

He flattened out and splay his legs to the four cardinal points of the compass.  Amazing how flexible a herding dog can be at times, as his muscles relaxed and contracted under my hand.  By the time I gave sleep a second shot, he was turned into something resembling a canine pretzel in the predawn gloom.

I rolled back over and pulled the covers up with a groan.  5:00am.

Closing my eyes, I entered that semi sleep state that we all are annoyed with.   Too early to get up, too late to fall asleep, I knew that it was going to be a long day or perhaps a longer day than normal.

Watching the night draw to a close through the inside of my eyelids, I pretended to ignore the flashes.  My mind hadn’t completely shut down, nor had it completely rebooted to full speed, but I did realize that it would be a good idea to haul my own bulk out of bed and get going.   Dog walks are a logistical problem when you have 45 pounds of bouncy active black and white fur covered muscle that simply wants nothing to do with the storm that was dousing Dania and Hollywood, and surrounding my house on three sides.

I had to call Rack three times simply to get him out of hiding.  Him being in the bedroom next to me is one thing, having to go for a walk in that nonsense was another.  Didn’t his human realize that being out in a Florida Thunderstorm was dangerous?  Didn’t he have the common sense to be afraid?  Didn’t he realize that walking wet was unpleasant?

Yes, Yes, and Yes.

Doesn’t matter.

It was a choice of getting out into the wet or getting out the mop and cleaning up the wet because it became too much of a wait.

Rack finally listened to my bellowing Come Here! and at 5:30 and we began to suit up for the weather.  He was vibrating.  I’m used to him being fearful, but this would take a bit more coaxing than usual.  I managed to get the collar on and felt him shivering.  It was more of a constant vibration with muscles moving in a sinusoidal motion under the black fur.  The white parts moved as well but you can’t see those in the morning gloom.

Fla-BOOM went the weather.  No sounds yet from the rain.

After pulling Rack to me three more times, I managed to get the harness on, double locked to the collar, and around his belly.   We were on our way.

There’s a rhythm to the city you get at this time of morning.   People were just getting up, and true to form, I was able to get out before most of them.  The street was dark, but way off in the distance, the approaching 5:45 out of Miami was coming up the FEC corridor

Yes, I heard a train, but this time it was a real train and not an approaching weather front.   We would be able to get the majority of the walk in unscathed.  I didn’t even have to open the umbrella.  To call it an umbrella was a bit unfair.  It was a golf sized purple and black carbon fibered weapon against torrents.  Exactly what you need in Florida since lightning can strike 10 miles away and the airport was only 8.

We started walking.  Rack’s breath was more like a panting.  He was doing his impression of a steam locomotive.

Rack, you sound like the Hooterville Cannonball, Easy!  We could still stop in the Shady Rest, I hear Kate is serving up a roast with sauerkraut, biscuits and gravy, and fresh made pie!

Not even an ear perk.  I wasn’t going to be in control even if the rain was far enough away not to even drip on my arms.  But that pie sounded good.  Never did get Biscuits and Gravy that morning.

We walked around the neighborhood and out to The Drive.  It was unproductive but fast.  I was being pulled around the block at a marching pace.  The Train had gone through and the parrots were arguing with the rain that hit them from above.  Contrary to my own Oscar, these feral cherry headed amazons didn’t want to be knocked around before six in the morning by atmospherics. 

They were quieted down for a moment by the same lightning strike that hit south of us and left a purple afterglow on the retinas for another minute or three.

Air conditioning compressors were roaring loud enough to drown out some of the other noises, and join in with the rain that was just beginning.  Toads in the sewers making a racket would join them.  

Still no Train Approaching sound that meant Duck and Cover.   We walked through the parking lot.  Rack was well out at the end of the leash stretching my right arm an extra inch or three.  I had my shoulder wrenched as we rounded the last corner near the house.

Not so fast, boy, you’re not finished.

We did our block again.  Just as he began The Dance, the rain hit.  Hard.  Golf Umbrella deployed we walked home in the gloom.  Alone with the weather, even the parrots were silent.

Is Yogurt Dog Approved? Of Course! How About Some Other Ffoods?

My old dog, Lettie, was never fussy with food until she got quite old.  I used Yogurt to wake up her taste buds for a while.  She’d tear into it with a puppy like energy and really seem to enjoy the stuff.

Rack, my year and a half old Mc Nab Dog, has always been fussy with food.   So I tried the yogurt trick with his food.  Big surprise, he prefers his food with a bit of yogurt on top.

I got the old Doubletalk recently.  The question was: Since Cheese is not a good idea and milk is just a bad idea for a dog, why yogurt?

It turns out that Yogurt brings its benefits to aid digestion.

Pretty much the same reason why you should be eating the stuff is the reason why your dog could use yogurt in their diet. 

Assuming that you’re not giving the dog massive doses of yogurt, only a tablespoon or two are recommended for your dog, it may help with some of your dog’s more annoying dietary byproducts.

The rule is simple.  Plain yogurt, no sugars, definitely no artificial sweeteners like splenda, and you’ll be fine.

What it does give your dog, and you, are a healthy payload of “probiotic benefits”.  Good bacteria as well as some extra calcium and protein.  So make sure that the yogurt you feed your dog has Active Cultures or Live Cultures. 

If you don’t have live cultures, give that brand a miss.  You’re basically eating pudding.  Pudding may be nice, but it doesn’t bring many benefits to the table for you or your dog.

If you make your own, you are guaranteed to have the right stuff at a fraction of the price.  I make about a quart of yogurt a week. The recipe is simple.  Warm your milk to just below boiling, allow to cool to lukewarm (105F/40C or less) and add a tablespoon or so of active culture yogurt to the now cooled milk.  Stir vigorously and allow the mix to “brew” on the counter in a warm area for a day or two until it sets.  Cool and serve.  No weird machines, no trips to the store, and you can use your old yogurt to make new yogurt. 

My own yogurt recipe is linked here, and there’s a jar of the stuff I just put into the refrigerator the morning I wrote this piece.

If you’re making your own, you can use any kind of milk you prefer.  Skim or 1% is best, since everyone benefits from less fat in their diet, and that includes your furry best friend.

While you are considering tweaking your dog’s diet, you can also introduce some specific dog safe fruits and vegetables instead of those pre-packaged treats.  Dogs can eat blueberries, bananas, apple slices, and melons.  Some raw vegetables that I have found are safe are carrots which are great raw to keep their teeth clean, zucchini slices, green beans, and frozen peas.   All of those vegetables are low in calories and help with keeping a pudgy dog more fit and definitely more regular with all that dietary fiber.

You can even slip in some oatmeal to the dog’s diet.  Oatmeal is great for humans for the same reason.  Soluble dietary fiber will cleanse your arteries and lower cholesterol.  It will aid in digestion, and your dog will love it too.  Just be careful not to give yourself a payload of extra sugar that you both don’t need.  Try serving it with fruit and fruit juice instead of milk.

Bill, Why Are You Eating Mangoes in the Laundry Room?

It all started with a hello.

More like a couple hundred hellos.

I was safe with the first course.  I guess Biscuits and Gravy wasn’t interesting or he was just distracted.

Rack, my dog, doesn’t really care.  He knows that typically I will stand at the kitchen sink or sit at the small table in the kitchen and stare out of the windows while stuffing my face.   Once through, he may get something if he doesn’t beg.   He will go to the backdoor and stare at me through the glass into the kitchen and go out to water the plants and sniff the dog on the other side of the double fence.  Besides I’m not having yogurt today.  That’s when Rack gets insistent and I eat all of my food under cover.

It usually gives me time to have the majority of breakfast.

Oscar, on the other hand, is weird.

My parrot has realized that me in kitchen means food.  Food can be in a bowl or on a plate.  He’s starting to realize that I’ll give him something just so he will shut his beak.

Hello in a shrill little girl voice repeated can be quite obnoxious especially when repeated at a volume that reminds me of my neighbor’s motorcycle.

On the other hand, it is Mango Season, so I can’t completely blame him.  I have had the first harvest of these sweet orange fleshed sugar bombs and am wondering when I can get the next one from the tree.  That tree is a neighborhood gift.  The owner doesn’t eat mangoes so we pick the fruit so it doesn’t fall from the sky. 

A two pound mango falling from the skies can leave quite a dent when accelerating at 32 feet per second squared.   Two seconds from the top of that 60 plus tree.  Pick with a long pole, and don’t stand under the fruit.

It just got weird in the kitchen.  I did tell him that he shouldn’t be begging for what I had.  Really I did.  It’s just too strange when a parrot is begging for a piece of egg salad sandwich. 

No, Oscar, this is your cousin from Maryland.  Eggs are not good for birds.

Second course had him fully warmed up, repeating Hello constantly.

I sliced up 12 ounces and set aside the broad flat pit.  It’s a deal, Oscar, you get the skin and a block of the fruit, plus the pit and some more orange flesh.  That should keep you quiet for a bit.

Walking to the cage, I open the door with sticky hands.   Orange drops of mango juice hit my right foot and splatter on the recently cleaned floor.  I’ll have to mop that up, it will only be the second time today that the floor gets attention. 

Oscar’s eyes pin.  The pupils shrink down to almost invisible.  His excitement is obvious.  I put the skin and the pit on the paper in the bottom of the cage commenting “I hope this shuts you up for a while”.

Grabbing the bowl, I take my mango into the laundry room and finish it while looking at the video feed from the security camera systems.  The night speeds by in a few segments where cars pass by the house in the wee hours.  No, nothing strange happened, and it really is a safe neighborhood.  The strangest thing that happened overnight was a moth that tried to mate with the camera over my Jeep.  No cats to catch and rehome, no dogs lost, no weird neighbors having a party at 3AM.

At least for now, the neighborhood is quiet.

My mind flashes to the week.  I’m having house guests so I have to make bread.   Sourdough rolls take a longer rise time so I have to make the pre-ferment.  Add everything but two cups of flour to the standard recipe, then let it sit for a half hour.  If I see action in the mix, it will rise, if not add yeast.

Adding the sourdough starter to the bread machine’s bucket I hear it as I feed Mother for her trip back to the refrigerator.

Hello!

Bloody freaking hell… Oscar you have had enough, eat your mango!

Add sugar, oil, salt, lukewarm water…

Hello, Hah Hah Hah!

No Oscar, you don’t want this!

A cup of flour, press start to mix the pre-ferment and walk out of the kitchen.

Oscar stops.   Just like a light switch.  Life goes quiet and back to the routine.  Late 90s Pop playing on the internet radio and the clock ticking loudly in the background.  Back to normal.

Except… time to add those two cups of flour…

HELLO!  URP!

It’s going to be a noisy day.

The Nice Thing About A Dry Spell

As Sophia would say on the Golden Girls:

Picture it.
South Florida.  A weekend in Late May 2014. 

We were out having a cookout this weekend.  Of course.  It’s pretty much required. 

There was a varied menu.  For four people, one nosy dog, and a grouchy parrot, we had a table leveler of a meal.

What’s a Table Leveler?  So much food that the table won’t rock on the long leg, of course!

The corn had been soaked in the husk and grilled on the grill.  Three sides of the grill had some yellow sweet corn surrounding it, you know they’re ready when the outer leaves begin to turn dark brown or even a little charred.

The burgers had just come off the grill and are sitting inside on the counter. 

Large “vat” of baked beans were cooling from Volcano Hot in the kitchen.

There were two types of Baked Potatoes:  With or Without Dill.  Still in foil, they would join the rest of the food when serving time came.

I was outside with my neighbor, Bill.  His mom Lisa was indoors in the cool.  Kevin was making sure the final preparation was done by pulling the Cherry Cobbler Pie out and placing it on the cooling rack on the room divider.

We were grilling Bill’s favorite cut of steak, DelMonico steaks.  They looked like little Filet Mignon steaks with fat marbling throughout.  They had had 5 minutes per side, and since they were thick I was testing them to make sure that they were done.  I was shooting for 150F, Medium Rare.

After 10 minutes of intermittent hovering, they hadn’t gotten finished cooking so I was standing next to the grill obsessing.

Kevin came out for the burgers and the corn, then left for the cool of indoors.

Bill and I were standing out in the yard next to the grill. 

I was on guard as usual.  Looking for the girls.  Grills and Girls.  One makes the food, the other makes you the food.

The Girls were uninvited Guests.   Usually I carpet bomb the yard with canned poison to raid them out of their homes.  They don’t belong in my life in any way, shape, or form.

The Girls were the swarms of Mosquitoes we get here.

Snowbirds staying at the beach don’t usually get them because it’s too salty right there, but I am two and a quarter miles inland. 

The thing is that where I was standing I wasn’t being bothered.   I am usually watching very closely to make sure that I’m not getting bit because I have “Sweet Blood”.  Whatever it is that a Mosquito likes, I make it.  She’s going to home in on me, and the biters are always “She”, and try to make a meal out of my ankles, or any other part of my body. 

I was in Jeans and a dark grey T Shirt, so I closed the lid and moved under the Lanai.  There are normally more mosquitoes there since the neighbor’s Air Conditioning Unit drains into their side yard, and our irrigation system waters the Bougainvillea every day.

But nothing.  Sure, it was the warm part of the day, but I have never been On The Lanai without having to watch.

Freaky.

It has been about two weeks since the ducks were using my swale as an impromptu bathtub in the last rains that flooded the streets.  Now it’s dry, and the dogs are sniffing the pavement for Garbage Truck Goo as we walk the neighborhood.  A frequent rain in the almost tropics keeps the dust down and washes the Goo into the grass, so if the dogs are sniffing the pavement, it has been a while.

But I, The Mosquito Hunter, have been unaffected by my little girls.  It has been a while since the last bite.

I can tell just how dry it is.  If I go on the East side of the pool, I don’t get clouds of my children following me – even next to the row of plant pots that are there.  The West side of the yard has a large hedge along it of Night Blooming Jasmine.  The hedge on the East side has Podocarpus – Japanese Yew to their friends.  Both hedges get watered daily with misters and drip feed irrigation to save water.  Step too close to the hedges and … There they are!

It has gotten so dry that the mosquitoes will retreat to the hedges during the day even with 225 pounds of tasty Moose walking around the yard. 

Since there are going to be workers back there I’ll resort to chemical warfare in a can.  Once the sun came up I had an excuse to spray insecticide through the hedges, in the pots and underneath where the hedges are moistest.  I might just be able to be unscathed. 

It was nice to have a little freedom while making a steak.  I wouldn’t want to make the mistake of thinking this is an ongoing thing.  After all, while it is an El Nino, it’s only a tendency toward dry and cool and that is relative.

Just like the girls.  Relative.

Happy Memorial Day

 
Memorial Day.  
It has become a day to sit out and have a cookout here in the US, think about your veterans, perhaps do some more.
In this day of the Internet, stories get flung around about things, and of course there’s always a varied degree of truth to the stories.   Some of the most outrageous ones are the political and truth there is rarely the object of the story, it exists as a call to action to get people to agree with a cause.
One of the stories was a romantic retelling of the origin of Memorial Day.  It gave me pause and a reason to do a little bit of research.  Since people have been remembering their fallen for as long as there have been people, this idea of a day of remembrance isn’t new, but the way we did it was new and unique to America.
The story goes that former slaves reburied dead Union Prisoners of War in May 1865 in Charleston, SC and held a cemetary dedication ceremony.  They had a celebration that led 3000 black schoolchildren who marched around the grounds decorating them with flowers and setting aside the land at a race course behind a whitewashed fence which was consecrated with an official dedication ceremony conducted by the ministers of the black churches in Charleston.  This was the same city where the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor, seemingly coming full circle.
That happened.   It didn’t create a national Memorial Day holiday, but it is a wonderful story.  The implication was that these freed black slaves were grateful to their liberators that they spontaneously did this act in order to honor their release. 

There was an event around the same time that started in Waterloo, NY in the summer of 1865 with a local druggist suggesting to his friends at a social gathering that while praising the living Civil War veterans was great, it would be well done to remember the war dead by placing flowers on their graves.  As with most good ideas, this was a false start, but on May 5, 1866 the city was decorated and flags flown at half staff in a sign respect.  This happened again next year and by 1868 Waterloo joined in with the Grand Army of the Republic’s observance on May 30th.

The original holiday was created three years later when the Commander in Chief of the Union Veterans Organization called the “Grand Army of the Republic” established Decoration Day as a day of remembrance and a day to decorate the graves of the fallen.  The date was picked as May 30 since it was late enough in the year to allow flowers to bloom all over the country.  Everyone will then have a chance to participate.

The timing of the two events coincided to allow the holiday of remembrance to continue and build steam.   It became a national event through time, and official in New York State on March 7, 1966.  The US House and Senate passed the concurrent resolution recognizing the birthplace of Memorial Day as Waterloo, NY on May 17 and 19th of 1966.  President Lyndon B. Johnson signed that proclamation on May 26, 1966.

While the trauma of the Civil War faded, the need to honor those who kept us free hasn’t.  However you do celebrate it, have a happy Memorial Day.

The Goat and the Horse

The Goat and the Horse

There was a farmer who had a horse and a goat.

One day, the horse became ill and he called the veterinarian, who said: Well, your horse has a virus. He must take this medicine for three days. I’ll come back on the 3rd day and if he’s not better, we’re going to have to put him down.

Nearby, the goat listened closely to their conversation.

The next day, they gave him the medicine and left.
The goat approached the horse and said: Be strong, my friend. Get up or else they’re going to put you to sleep!

On the second day, they gave him the medicine and left.
The goat came back and said: Come on buddy, get up or else you’re going to die! Come on, I’ll help you get up. Let’s go! One, two, three…

On the third day, they came to give him the medicine and the vet said: Unfortunately, we’re going to have to put him down tomorrow. Otherwise, the virus might spread and infect the other horses.

After they left, the goat approached the horse and said: Listen pal, it’s now or never! Get up, come on! Have courage! Come on! Get up! Get up! That’s it, slowly! Great! Come on, one, two, three… Good, good. Now faster, come on… Fantastic! Run, run more! Yes! Yay! Yes! You did it, you’re a champion!!!

All of a sudden, the owner came back, saw the horse running in the field and began shouting: It’s a miracle! My horse is cured. We must have a grand party. Let’s Cook the goat!!!!

Lesson: Management never knows which employee actually deserves the appraisal.