Bougainvilleas and Bananas on Thanksgiving

On this week before Thanksgiving, there is a lot of “Prep Work” to do.

The hedges get cut back,

House gets cleaned,

Shed gets cleaned,

Yard gets cleaned,

Well, you get the idea.

I would say this is where the law of unintended consequences happens.

While I don’t have a good definition for it, I can explain it really well in one short phrase:

Never paint your kitchen.

Why?  Because then your cabinets will look shabby.  You then have to replace them.  While your kitchen is gutted, you look at your oven from the last decade and think this would be a good time to do it.  Maybe swap out the electric range for a gas or propane one.  After all, being able to cook indoors is good for emergencies.

You get the idea.

So we got started.  Actually we started a while back before the hurricanes hit South Florida and cleared out the shed.  That gave me the open “16th Puzzle Piece”.

I talk about this often.  There is a game that has 15 square pieces.  Usually has numbers on them.  There is one piece missing, the 16th Puzzle Piece.  You slide the pieces around to get them out of order for someone and then hand it to them to “fix”.  I guess it was a Rubix Cube before there were any.

I often joke that I feel like the 16th Puzzle Piece.

It makes me feel like a banana.  Or this banana leaf, you never know where they will crop up.

Once you have managed to go out to the shed to get that piece you need to fix something that just broke, you notice the yard and the plants and take a pause.

But there is rather a lot to get done.

Also remember, the dog lives here and you don’t.   Different lecture but the tumbleweeds under the AC Intake that the dog left there need to be picked up reminding you that you need to replace the filter bag in the vacuum and no you can’t just pull the old dirt out and dump it into the trash because that bag had that done once already.

It’s a process.

But I will say that if you are reading this and your Turkey is still frozen, you may be out of luck.

I can help but I am not guaranteeing it will work…

Place your wrapped in plastic, frozen, and un-thawed meat (Turkey, Chicken, Beef, it doesn’t matter) into the sink that has been thoroughly cleaned and plugged up.  Fill the sink with tap water.  It does not have to be hot, and it won’t be for long.  Submerge that package of meat/poultry/frozen stuff in the water.   Check back in an hour.

The water will speed your thawing up.  It’s of course at your own risk so make sure it isn’t in there longer than you need it to thaw and it does not spoil.  The good thing is that it is faster and safer than leaving a frozen block of dinner out on the counter overnight.  But you do need to use your own judgement on how long to keep it in the water bath.

At least that one hour will let you vacuum the dog or the cat fur out of the kitchen and maybe even let you scour the bathtub.
Isn’t having guests a pain in the tail?

Speaking of guests and pets – remember don’t let anyone feed traditional Thanksgiving food to the dog.  Raisins, onions, and many of the herbs and spices that are in that feast will sicken or kill your dog outright.  Better to stick with their dog food if there is any doubt.

And no matter how much they beg, no Onions for the dog.

When you’re through with all of that and the meal is done, you can start on the wiring in the backyard.  You really did want to get the low voltage wiring run the 100 feet from the front yard to the shed so you can see inside the thing, didn’t you?

Ok lets just skip it and hit the Chinese restaurant for some Curried Chicken instead!  They’re open, aren’t they?

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Happy New Year From Ramblingmoose – or When Life Hands You Lemons, You Write About Them

So, Happy New Year, Folks!

I figured I would get that out of the way before I go all “WAAAAH!” on you.

See, it is New Years Day, and I shot myself in the foot.

Actually I did that a couple days ago, when I had to put together a graphic.  I guess that was on last Wednesday.

But I’ll have plenty of time, Right?

Not apparently.

When I went onto the Windows computer to use photoshop and write a blog article, I started it and heard a “SNAP!” then the computer locked up.

Then it turned itself off.  Joy and Happiness!  Lets try that again!

After three tries, I decided to shift some hardware around.  I have another computer that is almost the same hardware, despite being a different manufacturer (Lenovo vs a Dell).  Down to the processor and video card, simply different vendors.

Bright idea!  Lets swap hard drives and see what happened.

Success.  The Lenovo, now with windows, worked.

Success again!  The Dell, now with a copy of Debian Linux, worked.

I’d have time to figure all this out.

Not quite and I had other things to distract me.  BRIGHT SHINY OBJECT!  YAY!

That next day or so, I set to clone the Windows drive to another hard drive.  It is still running a couple days later.

That “took” my Windows computer out of service along with my copy of photoshop.  Once it is finished backing up, I’ll have my original computer back with a test version of Windows.   I say test because the data will be incomplete on the data partition.

Then time got to today.  Up at 4:15am so I’d have plenty of time, right?

Not so fast.  I got through the normal nonsense and decided that New Year, New Pizza.

I forgot that a Pizza from scratch will take between 2 and 3 hours depending if the dough is dry enough.

It wasn’t so it was more like 3 hours.

Cooked great with a nice crispy bottom, but while I was preparing the meal, I was also trying to throw together a graphic for this post.  Should have done that a week ago when the Lenovo came up under Windows.

Blah.  I Hate Windows.

See one of the nice things about running Linux as your main (everything but photoshop) computer is that you have a LOT free software.  The library of software that is out there and the quality of software is frankly, overwhelming.

So I basically went to an old school command line, Remember those?  C Prompts? and typed in “apt-get install inkscape”.

Inkscape is the program I originally used to manipulate pictures for the blog back in 2009.  Back then I could put text on the screen and bend it.  I wanted to take Rack’s picture and put a donut around his face with text.

Can’t blame Inkscape for that.  It installed in under a minute and looked like I remembered but I forgot how to use the software.

Ok, too much too quickly, and I gave up.  I finished with the really basic picture you see at the top.

So that’s my big “Waah!” story for New Years.

If you will excuse me, the timer just went off and I have some torpedo rolls to bake in the oven.

Fresh bread is great isn’t it?

I’ll get back to that graphic.  There’s plenty of time, right?

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.

Happy Thanksgiving

We’re having a bird.  Actually a chicken, but it’s close.  Someone in the house hates turkey, and frankly I’d rather not have a freezer stuffed with a 17 pound carcass worth of meat plus all the soup I’d have to convince myself to make.

Now, mind you, Rack the McNab SuperDog (TM) will not be having any of it.  The chicken will be cooked with Onions, and they’re toxic to dogs.  Chicken makes him sick because he’s got a grain allergy.

Sorry Pup, you’re noing to have to settle for your usual dog food!

In fact, there really isn’t anything that will be on the typical Thanksgiving table that you should feed to your dog.  It either has too much fat, sugar, seasoning, or is just downright Toxic.

Here is a list of ten foods to avoid feeding your pets.

So if you do celebrate the day, do enjoy it.  If you don’t you can enjoy it however you normally would.

But for me, I’m going back to watching TV in Spanish to practice.  See, I’ve been doing that all day and it’s getting easier.

Oh, and make sure that you bird has been thawed appropriately.  If not, fill the sink and plug it with luke warm water and put it in the water.  The water will “draw off” the cold and bring it up to temperature faster – you do not want to use hot water since it will cook it, and even breed bacteria.

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!

Happy Labor Day

It’s a quiet morning here.

It is (looking at the watch) just before 6:30AM.  Labor Day, Monday September 7, 2015.

Yep, I am writing this off the top of my head.  No rants, no copy and paste this time, baby.

I’ve been up for an hour and a half now.  Have been thinking about what to write here for Labor Day, and realized “been there, done that”.   It is a day set aside to remember the American Worker and the modern labor movement.

Yes, those folks who literally fought and died for the ability to have Saturday and Sunday off, and work a 40 hour week.

Who works a 40 hour week these days anyway?  You’re either home at night staring into a laptop finishing things off for tomorrow, or you’re one of the unfortunates who is working one or more part time jobs to make ends meet.

I salute you.

In my own case, I’m writing this at this oddball hour, an hour before sunrise because I have somewhere to go.  Got an interview today.  Who knows how it will go, it’s a fascinating position and fits in well with my own career “portfolio”.

But it is Labor Day.  So while you’re having that party in the backyard or the neighbor’s back yard or wherever, think about how it came to pass.

Oh, if you are having burgers, I’ll take mine medium rare.  Just “Meat, Heat, and Eat” – none of that seasoned crap or salt on the meat.  A good slice of extra sharp cheddar, some of those bread and butter pickle chips, maybe a bit of fries on the side …

Since I live in Florida, I can get away with wearing white After Labor Day.  Up there, who knows what you can get away with now!  Too bad I didn’t iron those Off-White chinos I have in the closet.

Enjoy your day no matter what you do!

Happy Fourth Of July – Now, Keep Your Pets Indoors Tonight

I’m glad that this sort of thing is getting some “traction” these days.

Oh sure, those without dogs will just shrug, or worse laugh it off and toss firecrackers around the yard closest to your side of the fence.

But as someone who has a fearful dog, I see it first hand.

When the storms come, my own Rack, the McNab SuperDog(TM) crawls into a corner and hides.  Then he starts to shiver to the point where the furniture is vibrating.

It’s not a good scene.

We’re expecting Thunderstorms today, in fact there’s a rogue cloud floating around

at this very moment.  That was what got me started on this bit.  I’ve got on my own noise canceling headphones and some electronic trance music on so it’s got to be close for me to hear it.  But when it goes quiet, I hear Rack’s dog tags rattling. 

He’s not a happy camper when it comes to this sort of thing.

Last night, Friday, I knew some yahoo would be firing off fireworks.  We had dinner, then our dog walk, then I sprang into action.  I drugged my dog.  That sounds a bit severe, but I do have some “herbal stuff” I got from the Vet.  It takes the edge off, and it helped.

When dusk happened at 8:30ish, they started firing off their rockets.  Rack was breathing a bit hard but wasn’t shivering.  At least I knew that the “Herbal Stuff” helped.

Tonight I’ll do the same thing.

If you’re going to give your dog a sedative, do it with the Vet’s knowledge.  Don’t just grab grandma’s happy pills and “hope for the best”.  The pills I’ve got here are prescribed.

As for the timing?  That was intentional – I did it a couple hours before sunset because if your dog is hearing all those fearful rockets and you give him the pills, they won’t work. 

I’ll be doing the same at around 6PM tonight.

As for that first picture?  Well I’ll copy in what I said last year.

Having borrowed the first picture from Facebook, I wanted to credit the organization I borrowed it from.

The N.O.A.H Animal Adoption Spay and Neuter Center – or Northwest Organization for Animal Help (NOAH) “is dedicated to stopping the euthanasia of healthy, adoptable and treatable homeless dogs and cats in  Washington State. We are committed to high quality spay and neuter programs available for low income residents, family friendly pet adoptions,  humane education, and volunteer programs through our state-of-the-art facilities and Spay/Neuter Center.”

They are based in Stanwood, Washington so if you are thinking about a pet you can check out their furry friends that are available or check out their photo tour.