Sunrise and Sunset in Wilton Manors

I am trying to reset my clock.  I should probably just ignore it.

What I mean is that since the Time Change is coming, I should do what I do every year and stop trying to “sleep in” because when Spring Ahead comes in a couple weeks, I’ll be getting up at a normal hour anyway.

Normal is just a setting on the clothes dryer anyway, right?

Yes, I still get up at Stupid O’Clock, but as Einstein will tell you, Time Is Relative, anyway.

I almost never am up after dawn, and I almost always have foot and paws to pavement on the first dog walk before then.

Mind you, while you are laying in bed, drooling into the pillows, snoring and rolling over to let the blood flow back into your arms, there are things you are missing.

The mornings here can be pretty amazing.  In the case of the sunrises, they can be stunning.  I live about 2 miles from the beach, that is 3 Kilometers.  Wilton Manors, Florida.  If I stand in the street in front of my house I can just clearly see the top floors of the hotels at the beach.

In this part of the world, having a clear sky is not all that common.  I mean literally completely devoid of clouds.  It’s the Tropics.  There is a lot of humidity here.  Typically there is a line of clouds that form well off shore that you can just barely see the tops of on a clear day.  They tend to dissipate once the sun comes up and it used to be that you could predict afternoon thunderstorms between 3 and 4 in the afternoon.  Too many people have moved here and created a heat island, but if you go to the smaller cities just North of us, that weather pattern still exists.   Fort Pierce for example.

I once was told by an Old Florida Hand that he knew when he was Up North when the stripe of sweat down his back disappeared.  Sure it would be hot up there, but the humidity keeps our backs damp.  Hard to explain to you people up North like in say the Carolinas…

But the clouds come through and decorate the skies.  Little Puffy Clouds, sometimes coalescing into showers or storms too small for Radar to spot, would float past, leave spots on the car, then move off somewhere else.  Keep the flowers blooming.

Those clouds do something else right around Sunrise and Sunset.  It captures those first or last rays of the sun that have traveled through many more miles of air than they would at noon due to the angle of attack.  Longer wavelengths of light such as blues and greens get stripped away and the clouds light up in brilliant yellows, then orange, then finally red as they fade to night, or the opposite as the lights begin to tickle them from underneath to start your day.

In the case of this particular day, it is a happy accident.  These pictures are one day, February 21, 2017.  Both the sunrise and sunset were captured.  Both were beautiful in their own right.   One brilliant light show started the day, and another closed it off.  Both were with in a few steps of each other, literally less than 100 paces apart.

All you have to do is wait for it.  It will get here, and if you miss it… there is always tomorrow.

This is a picture of the Nations First Permanent Pride Flag installation, or so I have been told.  It stands on Wilton Drive, across from City Hall, in Jaycee Park. Taken June 14, 2016 at around 2 in the afternoon.

About a week after it was installed, the murders happened in Orlando at The Pulse bar.  Now the flag is at half staff along with all the other flags that were seen on Wilton Drive.

It was described by John Oliver as The Most Florida Thing That Could Ever Be.  A Latino night at a gay bar in the theme park capitol of the world.

Or very close to that.

It was a closeted man, hyper religious, and hyper authoritarian.  He had a profile on a gay dating app called Grindr.  Whether he used it to date or to look for victims, we don’t know yet.

 

Probably both I would expect.

 

We do know he basically hated everyone, according to what his boss said in the interview that I saw.

I will not Pray For Orlando.  It was religion and prayer that got us to where we are.  Had this murderer been following a Religion of Peace, he would not have killed.  His own personal version of the particular religion that he did follow was a twisted relic of evil once his hateful mind got through with it.

I will leave it up to you to judge.  I simply will never support someone elected to office who supports the possession of those sorts of weapons.  They are designed to tenderize their victims and turn them into hamburger before the victim hits the ground.  They are designed to kill people more effectively.  They have no place in this world.

It is long past time to act.  If Sandy Hook and 20 children dying there, and Columbine’s massacre weren’t I doubt this will be acted on either.  It probably is too profitable for the paid off class of people to want to anger the NRA.

Enough praying.  Time to pass some meaningful gun control laws in this country and where ever else needed.  If the laws are there already, why aren’t you people enforcing them?

Lead, Follow, or Get Out Of The Way.

The Flu – or how I lost a week and a half and gained a yard of flowers

I think that the flu is one of those things we’re all expected to get through.

That is to say, it is more like the closest thing to death that we’ll get through and everyone will just shrug and go on.

Having a cold, you seem to think “Hmm, I feel off” and you muddle through.

The Flu?  Each time I have had it, and I can only think of three times, it has been the same.

10:24AM – Yay, feel great, lets go do stuff!
10:25AM – Hmm, This isn’t quite right.

10:26AM – A cold?  Is this a cold?

10:27AM – I had better check the fridge, are there enough supplies, this isn’t normal.

It always is a Fast Onset like that.  Bang, you’re down.

The last two times I had it it I thought, Ok, well it’s going to be four days of down, plus a few days of the wobblies, but no worries.

Hah.  Just Hah.

That particular morning, I had a memorial service I wanted to go to.  A good friend had died and I was told about a month before that there would be a get together and I was specifically invited.   He knew that he wasn’t going to make it and wanted to make certain that I could get there and visit with family and friends.

Sorry, Emilio, but someone somewhere decided that I was going to have the flu that particular day.

I say it that way because it was a friend of a friend who went to work with the flu and inoculated her entire office.  I am collateral damage.

Being one of those people who never can just sit down and be sick, I got started on some projects.  Things that I knew I wanted to do but didn’t want to do until I was in the right frame of mind.  I had some sewing that needed doing because I went past the Stitch In Time and it needed about 100 stitches.  I had a laptop that had to be completely disassembled and put back together.

Laptops are usually one of those “Clear The Deck” things.  You never want to do that in a rush.  This one took me through lunch time and it worked.  In fact, the original owner, happy with having the data recovered, told me to keep the machine.

Oh no, please take it, I don’t need another machine, please, oh please.

It’s still here.  Along with another one.

Oh well.

Day two was full on Flu.  We laid in supplies and thought that it would be a total of another four days.  Blown weekend and all.

And then it hit like a tornado.  Around day five I realized that I was scheduling a trip out back to the yard.  As in “I have to walk the 30 feet to the back of the yard to pour a half cup of water into some bamboo I am trying to clone, will I make it” schedule.

I made it.  That day was day four.  It was not fun.

There are things that the world would expect you to keep doing.  If you look at tasks that you do, you realize that you have them on a schedule.  Every single day like OCD.

Mine is Spanish.
I log into a website called duolingo.com and practice with some basic Spanish quizzes.  I set my goal very low so that all I had to do was one quiz in case I got tied up.  See, I was thinking.  Be able to do it in case I got busy and was traveling.

Good thing that I did that.

I had been doing 30 questions a day for a very long time.  Duolingo has a graph on it.  When you hit a point where you skip, the graph dips.

Duolingo told me when the depth of the Flu was.  It was mid week, day 6 of a four day flu.  It took me all morning to get one quiz done.  It usually takes me about 10 minutes for all three.  By the end of the day when I passed out shivering in the cold, I had only completed two quizzes.

I think that day, my bamboo didn’t get watered either.  In the stand of bamboo out back that is about 10 feet across, about 5 feet off the ground there are two plastic bags tied to the stalk.  In the bags is a small handful of soil that I was keeping moist.

Luckily on Day 7, the soil was still slightly moist.

I walked out back, watered it, walked back in.

By Day 8 the coughing started.  I walked out to the bamboo, and the dog followed me.  I thought to myself, “How did Rack get walked last week”.

I still don’t know.

Coming back to the house, I noticed that there were orchids blooming that hadn’t bloomed before.  The Milkweed was in flower.  The Mango tree on the corner was in full flower.  My podocarpus cuttings were either dying or rooting, depending on the Gods of the Garden.

I had very little idea what caused it all.  Things just “happen” in a garden, whether you want them to or not.  Blink and it all goes wild.  I had had carrots, onions, green onions, and a rogue rutabaga planted back there.  It’s all under a layer of clover now.  Have to find that stuff, quick.

Long past a blink, this was an 8 day black out.

Spanish on Day 9 was all about medical terminology.  Enfermedad – sickness.   Muerte – death.

I was finally coming out of it enough to enjoy the irony.   The little laptop was telling me “Estoy amando tus labios” and I was thinking it was creepy that the machine that I breathed life back into was saying “I am loving your lips”.

You know you are finally coming back when you are thinking of all of the times when some fool said that Flu Shots don’t work.  Funny thing about that, I don’t remember getting one this year.  I will remember the flu.

And those lips that my laptop seems to like.

Snowy and Rainy Days and Full Freezers

I wanted pizza.  Instead, some people get more than a foot of snow.

When that big front comes into the Northeastern US, it trails a long tail.  The classic shape of it on Radar is a comma.  It starts as a storm in the middle of the country, then works its way across basically driving I-10 to the ocean.  Then it gains strength as it hits the warmer waters of the Atlantic and comes up North to visit you people.

But as it’s doing that, that front works its way down to visit me.

It was a wet weekend.  Oh sure, an inch of rain plus can be dealt with in South Florida, we are used to it.  The grounds are basically a Swiss Cheese of Limestone from “The I-4 Line” of Daytona to Orlando to Tampa.  In reality North of that as well, but everyone down here talks about the bad weather being up above the I-Four-Line and ignores it until it gets closer.

That Swiss Cheese flavored Limestone soaks up all the ground water and eventually it’s a memory.  But it did keep us indoors.

After all, it’s January, the pool has cooled down to 59, and it isn’t a good beach day.  It also got a good 20 degrees colder than the high the day before and the house isn’t designed for a high below 70.  We get miserable when it is colder than 70, and if it is raining, you’ll be giving me some fine cheese to go with that fine Port Wine.

So what do you do.

I know!  Lets cook!  In other words, I filled the freezer.  To the point where next week’s plans are shot.  Can’t even make a pizza here because there is so much food stuffed in every nook and cranny.

I remember when the older generation had these fridges with a suitcase sized freezer and they were always crammed.   We’ve got a side by side fridge and I’m complaining that I want a chest freezer.  I’d just fill that too.

But it started with Saturday raining and our deciding that it was a perfect time to make a Roast Chicken.  I will say it turned out great, but that also meant a run to the stores.  Why?

 

Soup Kit.

Prepacked and wrapped in plastic, this had all the vegetables for you to make a proper Chicken Soup.  I’d suspect that with a few more ingredients you could make a proper Vegetable Soup, or stew.  Turnips, Rutabaga, Carrots, Dill Weed, Onion.  Something that looked like a carrot but white.  It all went into the “Lobster Pot”.  By the time we were done, there was two gallons plus of Stock bubbling happily on the stove.

Two gallons.  That would be about 8 litres of soup stock.

The chicken roasting in the oven, we would have a good meal.  Stuffing was made and put in the little bird, and a baking dish, and this all wasn’t going to get dealt with until dinner.  Lunch had to be made.

All of that eventually hit the table, and the extra chicken got pulled from the bone.  Bones into the stock pot to boil another two hours.  Made up a wonderful stew with the addition of another half pound of carrots and two potatoes.

The next morning getting up I realized I needed to make English Muffins.  I got out all the gear, made up some beer bread batter from 2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour, a bottle of room temp Presidente beer, and a tablespoon of sugar.

When that finished I realized I had to stop.  There was just enough room for the extra English Muffins to fit in the door.

But … wait, there’s more!  Or rather, there can’t be more.  I can’t make the Cream Biscuits I wanted to have with some sausage gravy because there simply is no more room in the freezer.  Every square inch was crammed with covered dishes, cooling, and waiting to be eaten.  The Gallon Jug that I keep in there to freeze in case of emergencies had to come out.  The blue blocks of ice were out.  Still no more room.

Damn, no biscuits and gravy, I’ll have to have cereal.
How about Pizza again?   Nope?   No room for the extra rolls.  I’m toast.

Oh and it’s Sunday and cold.  We’re baking again.  You see, it’s Fruitcake season.  None of that rubbish that you get from the shops.  Claxton fruitcake?  No, that’s too cloyingly sweet.  Ours is home made from a Welsh recipe from the 1800s.   Each cake is a heavy block that is soaked in Spiced Rum to allow it to absorb the flavor, and is usually best after sitting in the freezer for 1 to 3 months.  We eat fruitcake in the summer because the candied fruits we need to make it are only available from Halloween to mid January – if you are lucky.

So we got enough for 8 fruitcakes.  Each cake being the size and weight of a Belgian Block from a street in an older city, and you know we are going to have a lot of baking to do.

“Hey, our plans got changed, no fruitcake next week!”

There won’t be enough room in the freezer for us to make more since there are the better part of two gallons of soup in there.

Still no pizza.  Did I tell you I make the second best pizza on the island, in my own little kitchen?  It’s just that that makes 3 large hoagie rolls as well.  You guessed it, no room in the freezer.

So while you are still digging out from your 12 to 36 inches of snow in the Northeastern US, I’m digging my freezer out of homemade food.  If you stop by, I may even give you a slice of fruitcake.

Don’t laugh, this stuff is good!  If they sold this in the stores, people wouldn’t turn their noses up at it.

But it is, still, fruitcake.

Anisette Cookies for Pat’s Birthday

It is Saturday when I write this.

I’ve been up all morning and into the afternoon baking.

You see, this is a family tradition that some good friends have had the pleasure to enjoy.  For years instead of buying something that will end up in a landfill or forgotten in a drawer, I have been baking gifts for friends and family.

This one baking stint isn’t over yet, I’ve got more to do tomorrow.

I was going to make Fudge, but this isn’t winter and it would be a mess by the time it made it to New Jersey.

So I baked the Coconut Cookies from this blog.  It makes 24 1 ounce cookies, and I am keeping 6 here for myself.  I’ll have those at work.

There’s more to bake tomorrow, and it won’t be a surprise that it will be my own chocolate chip pecan cookies.  No, this recipe I won’t share, and there are plenty recipes similar out there.   Try the internet cookie recipe it is based off of that but I have tweaked it to make it my own.

But I did get to wanting some Anisette Cookies, like when I was a wee brat.  Mom would bring these home often enough that I got to think of them as something everyone had.  Nope.

This recipe is quite similar in taste.  I will be adding a little extra Anise Extract since I enjoy a strong licorice flavor from time to time.  The taste in this recipe is “Authentic” instead of being a “Kick in the pants”.  If you came from an Italian family, this is familiar.

First the ingredients:

  • 1⁄2 cup butter, softened
  • 1⁄2 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons anise extract
  • 2 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 -3 tablespoons milk

Now the Process:

  • Wet ingredients – to a stand mixer, cream your butter.
  • Add the sugar and the eggs.
  • Finally add the Anise Extract.
  • Hold back the milk at this time!
  • All ingredients are to be added one at a time, as things incorporate.
  • Mix your dry ingredients in a bowl sifting them together.  Using a sifter isn’t absolutely necessary, I just tossed it in the stand mixer with all the wet stuff while it was running but you could use a fork in a big bowl if you chose to.
  • Trust me it isn’t fussy.
  • Finally, the milk is to be added to the stand mixer one tablespoon at a time.  The ending dough will be soft and pliable, but not sticky.  Think of that play-doh you had as a kid – Modeling Clay.
  • To Bake:  The resulting cookies will double in size and be rather soft inside like cake.
  • Spoon out 1 level tablespoon amounts into balls on Parchment Paper spaced evenly.
  • I got 15 cookies per “regular sized” cookie sheet, and really they don’t get all that big.
  • Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
  • Bake the Cookies for 10 to 12 or so minutes – they will NOT get golden brown except on the bottom.
  • The resulting cookies will be soft.

Oh, and, Sorry Pat, you’re only getting about 1/2 of these.  They were GOOD!

Happy Birthday Pat

Happy Birthday, Pat.

By today, you will ggt The Box.

You know, that box I was talking about last week.

Three kinds of cookies, and maybe more.  Depends on whether I found anything else to toss in there.  Everything was baked by hand.

We’ve been doing this for years, the back and forth of boxes of goodies.

The day itself?

Well here’s what went down that Saturday.

I got up late, and since I was half asleep from taking Melatonin to sleep, I was groggy.  A double mug of full Real Coffee.  You know, that bag of beans you see?  Guatemalan Estate Grown Antigua Huehuetenango roasted to just before Second Crack.

What that gibberish means is that it’s a Medium Roast, full flavored and complex.  The bitter has been roasted out.  A Central American Coffee is never to be roasted dark, it kills the flavor.

Anyway, it’s all for you, on your day.  Or about a week before your day.

We’ve been in the house working on furniture, playing Bollywood music and having a great time listening to bouncy stuff we couldn’t actually understand.  Good day for it.  Saturday.  Almost dinner time at this point, there has been so much to do.

The last of the coffee will be roasted soon and bagged for the trip.

Oh coffee.  There is a rule of Fifteens:

15 minutes Ground.

15 days Roasted.

15 months Green.

Grind the beans and brew within 15 minutes for peak flavor,

Roast the beans and grind within 15 days for peak flavor,

15 months to roast the Green Beans.

or something like that.  So don’t save it, after all The Holidays are coming, and there is bound to be more.

Happy Birthday Pat!

2203 Posts? Yep it kept ticking for five years!

This blog.  It’s been a part of me for five years.

I started it with a hello world post.  Everyone seems to.  You find your way back to it if you are interested.

I actually found that I enjoy writing.  I do get wordy, some of these posts are over 1200 words.  Almost all of them are off the top of my head.

Things got slower after a while.  You know, that New Blog Smell wore off.  I was writing about things that happened here in Wilton Manors, and the City Government scene.  I had to stop going to the commission meetings after a while, they were going well into the night and frankly I fall asleep at 10pm on a late night.  Doing that in the commission chambers when the meeting ended at 11pm would be sending the wrong message.

And I am actually quite in awe of the job that the commissioners do here, on average.  If you pay attention to your own city government, you’ll find a few rotten apples here and there and a couple decisions you can’t stand.

No comment there about specifics.

But since this is an “Anniversary Post” for the 2200th posting that happened over the weekend, I figured I’d do the old school Top Ten List of all times.  Since everyone seems to hit the same postings over and again, why not?

So from the most popular post to the 10th most popular post, here it is.

Most popular post:  The Gold Medal Flour Biscuit Recipe.  Trust me, this is an excellent recipe, I use it all the time when I want to show off.  If I really want to show off, I make home churned butter by putting the cream in the food processor and running it for 5 minutes or until I have butter and buttermilk in there.  Works like a champ!

#2:  Two Cycle Engine Repair – I replaced a primer bulb on a weedeater and apparently I did a good job of it since I still use the machine, 4 years later.

#3:  Simply Hired and the User Experience -The website simplyhired.com is not one of my favorites, and I wrote why and showed why they need to change.  They did incorporate a few changes of mine, and continue to change.

#4:  Puns and One Liner Weekend – A List of puns.  I really debated long and hard about posting Jokes here.  Then I realized that people actually enjoy the silly things and this blog gets hit heavily for them.

#5: GFS Marketplace Review – GFS Is a Wholesale marketer of foods and restaurant supplies.  They also sell directly to the public.  I’m quite happy with the store, but their coupons truly annoy me.  The software that they use to create the coupons, on your PC, require that software be installed.  Since nobody has told me what that does on my machine, I can’t say I trust the software.  BUT the place is really quite good, and the staff is friendly.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10:

#6:  An Impatiens Flower Picture – This variety is no longer sold and went extinct.  Impatiens are now larger.

#7:  Jewfish Creek Bridge Picture – The view you get when you enter the Florida Keys.  This is what I think of as the “border” although I may not be technically correct.

#8: Canning 1, Pineapple 0 – Although I am a good cook, sometimes my recipies don’t work!

#9:  Hotmail Annoyance: Turning off Hotmail’s former interface behavior of hotkeys.  I hated hotmail, and I hatie Outlook so much more.  Microsoft has turned evil since Ballmer left.  I can’t believe I am saying nice things about Ballmer since he was the punchline to a joke but there you have it.

Finally

#10: Sister Mary Ann’s Gasoline – Yes, another joke.  Apparently loads of folks liked her story!