Happy New Years a little bit early from Ramblingmoose.com

I know,
I know,

Yes, it’s only December 26th.

So why am I wishing Happy New Years on Black Friday?

Because I am avoiding shopping malls, driving, and being in stores at all costs.

All those people, on the road, with gift cards in hand.

Running hither and yon screeching into parking spaces.

Hey, South Florida makes Boston look like pikers in aggressive driving contests.

I’ll be around town today, walking the dog, patching pool scoops, and transplanting things.

I have a friend who gave me a Milkweed Cage here in town that I need to let know that I put some Green Onions in his pot and am ready to return the thing to him.

The Cage is fixed and doing its thing protecting the plants.

The pot is on my front porch.  Four green onions are in the pot ready for cooking.  Just leave a thumb length of bulb in order to keep your perpetual onions growing.

At any rate.

South Florida being basically, weird, has already started the wind up for the great page turning of 2019.  Yes Happy New Years now if you’re drunk and need a place to pass out, go use the bar parking lot.  I don’t want to have to use the hose on a drunk at 5AM when I go to take Rack for a walk.

If you are going out on amateur night, paying too much for a champagne toast at midnight at a restaurant you normally would not go to, go lightly.  After all, this whole week, if you are driving at night… you are a target both for other drivers and for the police.

Yes, Drunk Drivers, those of us who are not on the road hope “The Rozzers” catch you.

That’s British Slang for the cops… or so I have been told.

I’m already hearing fireworks at night which will scare the poop back into you if you’re my dog.

*sigh*

Well happy new years anyway folks, I’m going to duck and cover!

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Happy Holidays From Rack and Ramblingmoose.com

So sure, I could mess with my schedule and put this picture up, when, next Tuesday?

What fun is that?   I really do like how this picture came out.

Besides, that’s for New Years.  Thanks Calendar Cartel for not straightening out the dates!

Harrumph!

What this was is actually the end of a dog walk.

I have three dog walks per day, as you should if you have a dog.  Rack being the superior McNab SuperDog, (TM), that he is, he has plenty of quirks.

He speaks English,

He tells time,

He has a map of the neighborhood in his brain.

He may even be learning Spanish – I have to be careful with the phrase “Estoy Listo” because “I Am Ready” is a phrase I may want to keep close to my chest.

Here is the story as I see it.  Even if I am reading too much into it, well, I have been told that I can tell a story well.

We left, as normal, from the house, and went out to walk the block.

“Rack, this is your walk, take me where you want to go.”  Wag Right.

When a dog wags right, what you said or did pleases him.  He feels in control of the situation and confident.

When a dog wags left, he may still be pleased but he isn’t completely in control of things.  I get that when I tell him “Go Poop” and he’s not ready.

He really does like to be talked to.

Rack did take me on a “modified” walk.  I have a very set pattern of blocks I walk at that time of evening.  Probably because I try to avoid the bars, don’t want to disturb the patrons at the Italian Restaurant, and I want to avoid noise and other distractions.

No, really, if I walk past Bona Italian Restaurant, it causes a ripple of people talking and pointing at my dog.  There is a waitress in there that loves him, as well as one or two of the owners, and I really don’t want to stop business just for a walk around town.

He does, however, and he took me past the restaurant.

After a few cookies and some attention, we wandered on a different route until we got back here.

As we approached, I said “Rack go wait at the door and let me get a picture”.

He did … Just That.  Walked to the door and waited.  Ok, he knows more English than I thought.

I got the picture you see, however, any photographer will tell you – always take a second.  I wanted to play with flash and settings and re-compose the shot.

This one isn’t perfect, I could have adjusted settings, but this is as close to perfect as I could get all the way to the palm trees hiding above the house.

He thought I was fussing too much and he came over to see.

 

Looking up at me as if to say “are you alright?  Did you get this figured out yet?”

I responded “Why don’t you go back to the door so I can get another?” in a conversational tone.

He did!  Wow that is one smart dog!

I ended up using the first shot but this dog always impresses me.

Now that he’s gaining confidence, he’s getting a bit too assertive at the door.   We have to work at that bark, he’s authoritative enough to have me jump out of my skin inside!

So Happy Holidays to one and all, no matter where in the world you are, no matter what holidays you celebrate.

Thanks for stopping by over these years.

Rack and the rest of us at Ramblingmoose.com

Thanksgiving? Why not Pot Pie Black Friday?

How do you take all the dried out pieces of the Thanksgiving feast and make them edible?

How about if all you needed was some gravy, veg, and a pie crust?

Yep, Pot Pie.

I have had enough bad turkey, overcooked beef roasts, and desiccated chicken at Thanksgiving dinner to actually look forward to this hack.

To be fair, I don’t generally eat vegetarian or vegan, but this process is so simple that the gravy and protein ingredients can be switched with alternatives if you wish.

With planning, all you have to do is make is a Pie Crust and you can even buy that in the frozen section of the supermarket.

A pot pie uses the gravy you made for the Mashed Potatoes that was leftover.  It could be even jarred.

I will say that since we’re having roast beef, my gravy will be Port Wine Beef Gravy.  Just reserve some of the gravy.

A pot pie always has vegetables.  Traditionally, at least in my own experience, it has Peas, Carrots, Potatoes, and Corn.  If you served all that, reserve it.  I was at the market Monday Night and bought a … CAN!!!!

Mind you, the Amateur Nutritionist in me says always get the can with the lowest Sodium.  You may not to need to watch your salt intake… now, and you won’t miss it.

Now, the Meat… Reserve the dried out bits, and some of the better cuts of meat.  Roast Ends, Wings, that top bit of the breast that wasn’t exactly moist… that sort of thing.

Once you have made the Pie Crust (Recipe Below) or have bought one, it’s time to assemble the meal.

This is all by preference.  Not mine, yours.  I usually add 12 ounces of Meat, 12 ounces of Veg, and enough gravy to make things appealing.

Process:

  • Add the can of vegetable medley to the Pie Crust.
  • Add the finely chopped meat to the Pie Crust.
  • Add enough gravy to the mix in the Pie Crust.
  • Mix it until everything looks “even” and “wet”
  • Bake at 350F (Medium Oven) until the crust begins to brown.
  • Slice and enjoy.

The Easy Pie Crust Recipe is as follows:

(Pretty much lifted word for word from this link so I can refer to it later)

For comparison, a traditional cold water/butter pie crust is at this link, but it would need to be doubled so you have a top for the pie.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup Shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Milk
  • 1/4 cup Boiling Water
  • 2 cups All Purpose Flour.

First, add Shortening, Salt, Milk, Boiling Water to a mixing bowl.  Whip with a fork until smooth and creamy.

Second, add 2 cups of Flour to the mixing bowl with that fork until the flour is incorporated and smooth.

Finally, This will make a crust for a double crust pie, top and bottom.

P.S.  Save the scraps from the pie, roll it thin, and put a bit of jelly in the middle.  Fold over, crimp closed, and bake with the pot pie.  Makes a nice dessert.

Happy Fourth Of July, Now, Please Go Protect Your Pets

I am beginning to see the truth in the way New Jersey handled this back in the day.

They banned anything that went “bang”.

Luckily we have some “doggy downers” from the vet in the house.  I have learned to dose him about a half hour before sunset which takes the edge off.

Rack, my McNab SuperDog (TM) is like just about every other dog I can think of.  He hates Thunderstorms and Fireworks.  It turns him into a shivering mess.

This is the day where more dogs go missing than any other.  He will be hiding in the corner, trying to merge with the couch.  It’s where I sit at night until the sun comes in the front window, then again where I reappear when the sun goes behind the taller buildings to my west.

I expect that since the rednecks down the block are staying here instead of going to someplace else where they can get bit by mosquitoes and go Fish in’ and Hun tin’, they will be shooting off an obscene amount of fireworks tonight.  If not them, someone else will pick up the slack.

Rack is in for it.

Mind you, I like fireworks and the way they look.  Ooh and Ahh and all that.  I used to go to a park in Cherry Hill NJ near the house and watch a number of professional fireworks from a chair or in the comfort of my car.  A good friend Laurie cued me into that you can park in a lot in Cooper River Park and see more fireworks than you could possibly consider firing off in a lifetime from there.  Plus the reflection on the river itself was rather nice.

Bring a camera, preferrably a time lapse one.

So since sundown here is 8:16 PM, We will have gotten our walk in, and I’ll give him his happy pills about a half hour before that.  Hopefully we will get back before they turn this street into a war zone.

Then again, it is wet season and we have an 80% chance of rain.  I’m praying for rain.

On the other hand, I do have a time lapse camera and a porch, and I know how to use them.

Watch over your dogs.  This is not a night to leave them out.  Cats too should be brought inside, well every day since an Outdoor Cat is merely a stray.  People can be evil to strays.

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?

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.