Morning Dew on Betty’s Vinca

I’m constantly clearing out my garden.

Down here if you are eating anything with seeds and some of it falls on the ground, you will have plants.

I need to remember that with some tomatoes and melons, preferably in the back on the drip feed irrigation chains.

There are a lot of pots on those chains, and they’re all watered in a measured way.  The orchids don’t hold water in their pots so they drip down into pots that are strategically placed.  I have two layers of plant pots in most places, sometimes three.  It all depends on what is back there.

The thing is that I have some plants that are just growing everywhere and getting leggy.

They would be Betty’s Vinca.

Betty was my Aunt.  She was a powerful woman, but in the best of all possible ways.  A person you wanted on your side.  She gave of her self readily, and was well loved by her family.

She had two places, one on Long Island, and the other North of me in Century Village.  Yes, it’s a bit of a stereotype, but sometimes stereotypes are there for a reason.

In front of her condo she had some flowers that she was quite proud of.   Proud as she was, she liked to share.  She insisted that I have some cuttings on my last visit with her and they made it to my yard.

The point with Vinca is that they are somewhat invasive.  Constantly blooming plants, they tend to spread if you don’t watch them.  I like them because it gives me a smile to think of Betty and how proud she was of her little garden and those flowers in them.

On the other hand, all of mine got very leggy so they needed to be cut back and replanted.

In a bit I’ll have pot after pot of these plants all over my back yard.  All blooming in the

morning dew, they’ll be there.  Spreading.

But if you are lucky, and the conditions are just right, these simple blooms are just beautiful.  In the golden hour, misted by the dew or my irrigation misters, they will do their best to shine.

I hope so, since they’ve now spread into my neighbor’s garden from the back of the yard to the front.

If he likes it, I have some mint that I need to repot.  We all know how that stuff spreads.

What Does A Lava Lamp Look Like When Shaken? A Tradition.

Way back in the day, all my hippy dippy old Boomer friends had these things.
I liked them and I guess there may have been a little hero worship built in.

So eventually, at a scratch and dent sale in Best Products (R.I.P.) on Woodhaven Road in Bensalem, I found one.

Yoink.  It’s been mine for … decades I guess.

I had always been told “if you shake it, it will never be right again”.

Being the “curious” type, I did.  It took about a week and a half to settle back to looking normal.

I mentioned it to a friend that you can do that.  Get the light all nice and hot and vigorously shake the thing.  It will turn solid red, or whatever color the wax is, and two weeks later, you will be right back to normal.

The response “NOOOOO!  Mr Bill!  Don’t Shake Me!  NOOOOO!”.

Never been one to take no for an answer here.

I responded “So, what?  This is ‘Don’t Shake Me Bro?”.

You can see the result.

At least I got a giggle out of that comment.

Granted this is from an older picture.  Every time that friend goes away, the last night before he goes, I shake the living daylights out of the Lava Lamp

Besides, it gives me something to look at and obsess over.

My friend is going to Douglas, The Isle Of Man for three weeks.  He’ll hardly know it ever got shaken.

Tradition, my man, Tradition!

Ginger Blossom and Frog

Travel.  Broaden Your Horizons.

Bring a camera.

All that.

I don’t actually get into the Jeep often.  15 year old car with only 46,000 miles on it.  So when I do go for a drive, there has to be a reason, and I almost always really enjoy it.  It’s a fun vehicle to drive, and I’ll get there.  You may not, but I will.

The occasion was that I got to visit one of my favorite people, my godmother Kathie.  She’s a prime example of love makes a family.  The godparent tradition came from our childhood, and we both have found different spiritual paths.  But we stayed in touch via her moves to Florida, my much later move, and many years.

Plus she’s great company.

I got a message in my email asking if I wanted to come up and enjoy a lunch in the restaurant.  Sure! Great! When?

When became a rainy trip up.  We’ve had a lot of random smallish rain storms.  Fun.  I’ve got the right car for it.  30 inch rubber donuts, no lifts, it’s a Jeep not a Mudder.  My theory is that 10 mpg is no fun, and while the car is rated 15, I drive gently and get 18 city, 22 Highway.

Not a Prius.  But I don’t fit in a Prius.

After watching people do stupid things on the back roads, and one clown spin out, I got there.

We chatted, I added her printer to her Mac, and we went out to look at the Preserve.  Hurricane Irma took out a few trees, including a Honeybell Orange that I will miss.  But she did point out the Ginger plant.  We’ve got one too that I just planted, so I was interested to see it in bloom.

You know that motto, Always Bring A Camera?

She lifted a fallen leaf to show me the blooms and right there, sitting on the flower was this wee little Frog.

“I need a Picture of that!”

“For Ramblingmoose.com?”
“Of Course!”

So there it is.  We still don’t know if that is an Ornamental or Culinary Ginger, but it is a pretty thing.  The flowers merely smell Floral instead of smelling like a Gingerbread.  That may be what I will get out back by the shed.

The ginger, not the frogs.   Frogs are welcome too.

The Story of Santa Clothes and the Lump of Coal

A comment flew by me this morning that tripped a memory of a while back.

When you are a kid, one of the things you want the least are clothes for the holidays.

Oh sure, you need them, but they’re not exactly exciting.  At least now.  I remember an old picture of right after World War 2 in the rubble of a bombed out building, there was a child who was clutching a brand new pair of shoes as if it were the crown jewels he had just been given.  So be thankful that you can have that sort of a First World Problem, young child…

I know, get off the soap box, big guy, right?

Anyway, my nephew was another one of those kids.  I was like it and so was my sister, his mom.

“Uncah Beewl!  Santa Claus is coming soon and I am getting toys!”

Yeah he had that kids twang to his voice.  Uncah Beewl.  For the record, I never liked being called “Uncle Bill” because it reminded me of that horribly saccharine show Family Affair from back in the 1960s on US Television.   I had told my nephew it was ok, just call me Bill, but it didn’t stick.

“Are you now?” I asked

I was then treated to the excitement of a little pre-school boy telling me a list of toys and what he wanted to do to them.  Of course I was going to have a bit of fun with him.

“But, I heard you were getting a lump of coal!  Are you sure?  Maybe it is Santa Clothes who is coming, not Santa Claus?”

“NO! No lump of coal!  NOOOO!  No Santa Clothes!”

“But I heard that you were getting a lump of coal and some new clothes.  Socks and T Shirts for school.”

“You silly, Uncah Beewl!  No Santa Clothes! Noooo!  No lump of coal!  Toys!”

I swear the kid believed me, but hey he was young still!  “See, Santa Clothes comes when Santa Claus can’t.  Santa Clothes brings good boys and girls the clothes they need to go out in the world and be with their friends!  You are a good boy, right?”

I got the strongest “YES!” I could ever get from a kid.

“So you will get some clothes for the holidays then.  I will tell Santa Clothes that he can come and you will get socks and …”

“NOOOOOO!  NO Santa Clothes, Uncah Beewl!  No clothes for Christmahahahahs!”

 

He was on the edge of crying, I needed to back off a bit.  “We will see.  Maybe I can get to Santa and see what he can do.  But remember the holidays are soon and the sleigh is packed!”

My sister thought I had lost my mind, she may be right, it might have slid out my ear and rolled under the couch somewhere.

So when the day arrived I had found some items.  Wrapped in a nice pretty box was a bunch of kids socks.  Yep, had to do it.  Along with it was a separate box of a lump of black licorice candy that looked like a lump of coal.

Jon was not downstairs yet, so I slipped the two items front and center under the tree.

He came down, spotted the pretty little box with the lump of coal inside of it and opened it.

“Jon!  It’s a lump of coal!  Isn’t that great!”

“No Uncah Beewl!  Not great!”

“But look closer!  It’s not a lump of coal!  It is candy!”

Jon perked up.  He opened the candy up and had a smile on his face when he tasted the stuff.   I see he had the same like for Licorice as I do.

“There’s another box, Jon, go for it!”

Ok, not so happy about getting a box of socks are you?

“Jon, come here”  He was pouting thinking that his holiday gifts were over.  I had to make this right.

“Come on out to the Jeep.  I caught up with Santa but he said he was late and could I bring things to you personally? ”

Jon’s eyes were huge and he got real excited.

“Lets go to the Jeep!”

We trundled out to the big grey CJ7 that was parked in front of the house.  I remember some ice on the driveway that I skidded over.  I opened the tail gate on the car, and Jon got another big present.

This was the year of the fire engine.  My sister hated that thing, just like mom did.

 

But it was Perfect!

Santa and the lump of coal aside, this Fire Engine was big, and Sturdy, and when you pushed it, the siren would sound.  It was the hit of the year.  In fact it was the hit of the next couple years.

He went from being a pouty toddler to being completely happy with what he had.

The next couple years became a tradition.  Until he was around 18, Jon would get some licorice candy in the shape of a lump of coal.  A couple years I even got it back.

Good licorice candy too!

So the moral of the lesson was to calm down and Uncah Beewl will make it right.

And lumps of coal can be tasty too!

Happy holidays folks.  Glad you could share this fractured memory of days gone by in the prairies of South Jersey.

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.

Getting Rack Ready For The Walk

Ok, I don’t know which TV Show scarred me for life with these little sayings, but let me get them out of the way first!

“I caught you looking at my butt!”

“Quit looking at my butt!”

*WHEW*!  There we go, back to normal!

You see getting Rack ready for his walk is a ritual.  It could be as many as three or more rituals.

It all depends on the time of day and “which” walk we’re taking.

I suppose we could throw weather into that too although it’s either dry or rainy here.

You see Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) is a herding dog.  A McNab Dog like him loves routines.  He can predict what will happen next and when we make a change to the house, we can see how he’s a bit confused by it all and then adapts.

After all I can’t say “ready” without him wanting to go somewhere.  I changed that to the Spanish “Listo” for when I am “ready” and want to go somewhere and don’t want him to know.  He will learn that and I’ll find another Key Word.

Suggestions anyone?

Herding dogs like the McNab, any collie, or any breed with Shepherd or Heeler in their names were bred for intelligence and flexibility.  You can teach them anything.

I didn’t realize I was teaching him to crawl between my legs.

Yes, they are my legs, but we went through this already.

To get him ready for a walk all I really have to do is show him a leash.  The leash has the harness already clipped to the end for convenience sake.  I hold the harness open and he simply walks through it.

But in typical “One Plus One Equals Three Fashion” of a herding dog, Rack … keeps walking.

Around 43 pounds of wriggling mostly black fur wants to keep going.  The easiest place to go was between my legs.  So as I am trying to reach under his chest to snap the harness together, he has his head stuck back there and is looking around excited.

Trust me, an excited McNab Dog is a very interesting thing.

He will stand there trying to walk forward while there.  I weigh about five times more than he does, roughly, so he’s not going anywhere.  But he’s trying to move forward.

Put your hand under him and push him backwards?  That doesn’t really work, he simply walks forward until he’s stuck.
Step aside?  He’s walking to the front door.

Sure, he’ll come back if called since that is the hallmark of a well trained herding dog, but standing aside isn’t really effective.

So there I am.  A dog sticking his head between my legs, wagging his tail, and waiting to go explore the world.

I’m shaking my head, amused at the entire thing.  Wriggling dog and all.

Sometimes, you just need a Cheesesteak and Fries

I had been baking all morning.

I made some Chocolate Chip Cookies, Coconut Cookies, and Anisette Cookies.

Yeah I know, I’m repeating myself.  Actually, I am writing this right after I wrote about the Anisette Cookie recipe.

Tasty cookies, amazingly easy batter to work with too.

But, I was informed.  Told.

“Lunch today is a Cheesesteak, and by the way, you’re making fries”.

Do.  Tell.

Actually, Kevin makes a good cheesesteak.  We had gotten some appropriate “Home Made Hoagie Rolls” at Publix.  Just how a supermarket chain can make a “home made” roll, I don’t know, but they do make a good roll.  They’re not Amoroso, but they’re damn close.

That trip to Publix, I actually found Cheese Wiz.   What Cheese Wiz is, I don’t know.  We discovered that it makes a great dip for crackers though.

So we started.  A quarter of a sweet onion got grilled.  Twice what I needed but hey, I have eggs and I know how to use them.

Then the rolls were thawed, split, and slathered with a generous layer of that Wiz stuff I was talking about.

The Steak was cooking in the skillet.  I put half of the onions on top.  The onions immediately stuck to the “Cheeze” like substance.

Then the steak.  It melted the cheese.  On a whim, I squirted catsup on the fries and the steak.

Wow, ok, Food Porn.

See, Cheesesteaks are a religion in Philadelphia.  Museums are online dedicated to the art of the perfect Cheesesteak.  There are a laundry list of places that people will visit over others.  Every one of those people have most likely tried to make a steak at home.

I grew up with Provolone on mine, but mom was Italian and didn’t speak English until she was 7.

But, here in South Florida the true cheesesteak is not something that you can’t find easily.  There are some close calls, but it’s a bit off.

Like that roll.  Good, close, but not Amoroso’s.

No worries, it was a great meal.