Say Something Sunrise

Ironically this was one of my earlier wake up calls.

Not the morning in the picture, but today, when I am writing this blather.

More than two hours before sunrise, I was up walking around this same spot, a little more than two years later and thought to look East towards the sunrise.

Except it won’t be there for a while.

Coming home to sit in the dark house, I’m going about procrastinating everything that I needed to do and did “other things” instead.

Looking out the back window from my Poang Chair, through the bougainvillea, I saw the same colors starting to show in the eastern skies.  Orange tints began to appear, painting the large banana tree leaves under my mango tree back there.

After all, I’m in South Florida.  I think it’s a state requirement that you have at least one fruit tree on your property and since I know how to propagate plants, I have too many.  Too many banana trees is not really a problem, but the mango can get massive.

My mango looks like it has been mistreated lately, I hacked it down from 15 feet to a more manageable ten.  If you “lower” the top of the tree, you will end up with a skeletal look, but the plant is quite forgiving.  It’s putting out tiny little chartreuse leaves from the trunk just below where I butchered the plant.

That’s my yard, too many fruit trees in pots.  So many that when I look at it from “space”, I can see the trees around the pool.

But that picture.  I was standing at NE 7th Avenue and Wilton Drive in Wilton Manors, Florida.  Looking east towards the ocean two miles away and the approaching sunrise there was a sign flashing.

See Something
Say Something

I did see something.  A beautiful sunrise.  It was all for my benefit, at some level.  The city has not awakened on that day, June 24, 2017, at 6:14.  The warning sign kept repeating its mantra, and I stood there, my faithful sidekick, Rack the SuperDog (TM) looking towards the sunrise and up at my face.

“Isn’t it beautiful, boy?  It’s our privilege to be up this early and see the city like this!”

I got a wag or five out of him and he went back to looking at it.

“Well, lets go home, the house should be waking up soon.”

Rack stood up and began walking across the street in the general direction towards our house, tail wagging and leading the way.

Beautiful mornings should be shared.  My dog seemed to enjoy it too.

Now, two years later, I’m sharing it with you.

Get out of bed early once in a while, go have a look.  You never know what you’ll find.

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Rack Wants To Grill Lunch

There’s an old line about Dogs Playing Poker that you probably have heard.

They can’t.  You will know how good a hand they have because they will show you by wagging their tail.

Rack, the McNab SuperDog (TM) is clearly one of those emotional ones.

I let him follow me just about everywhere on the property.  I’d take him with me in the car more often except businesses can get rather arbitrary as to what they allow in their stores.

Leaving a dog in a car is a definite no and since I have a soft top Jeep Wrangler, if we’re going somewhere, he’s got to come with me.

It’s a Jeep Thing.  You leave nothing that you would not mind losing in a convertible car where the windows are held on by slots, velcro, and zippers.

But at home, it’s open.  I walk around the property and he’s following me while I am doing things.  Actually, my Morning Yard Inspection, he comes out, and does his own thing until he gets bored.  He’ll keep coming back until he gets to go back inside.

I have a higher tolerance for “boring” things I guess.

I’ve told him before “Go do something, you’re just bored, I’m not ready yet” and he will wander off and snoop around the property line until something else looks good.

In this case, we’re getting ready to grill some burgers this morning, and he knew it.  Plopped himself in view of the grill and waited for me to bring out the sausages and the burgers.

Smart dog!  Have a Burger!

Besides, if I use the brush on him out back by the hedges, the fur will magically disappear and I don’t have to use the vacuum cleaner to pick up quite so much of it.

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.

Cream Biscuits Recipe or How It Took Me Three Weeks To Make A 10 Minute Recipe

The recipe is straightforward.

2 Cups Self Rising Flour

1 1/2 Cups Heavy Cream or Whipping Cream
1 Tablespoon Sugar.

To large mixing bowl
Add 2 Cups Self Rising Flour.
Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon sugar on top and stir a little bit.
Pour 1 1/2 cups of Heavy Cream on top.
Stir until it begins to form a dough.
Continue to mix with your bare hands until it forms a “Play Doh” consistency.

The dough will go through phases where it is:

  • “mealy”
  • dry and lumpy
  • dry on the outside but one ball
  • slightly tacky and moist on the outside – STOP HERE!

Roll the dough out to 1/2 inch thickness, about the thickness of your thumb, palm down.

Use a 3 inch (about 8CM) drinking glass to cut into circles.

Cook the biscuits on a foil lined cookie sheet at 500F until tops are brown – about 10 minutes

Make sure that the biscuits are cooked fully, give them the time they need in the oven.

 

So my own long winded story.

I was out skating, because that is what I do.  Some of my best ideas come when my heart rate is ticking along at 173 BPM, I’m sweating like I just walked through a car wash, and I’m on eight or ten wheels.

I was thinking about getting home and having something “special” and Biscuits and Gravy came to mind.

Biscuits are one of those things that every “Good Southern Lady” has been taught how to make, and if they are successful, they do it this way because “That’s How Momma Taught Me!”

Usually it takes “cutting in ice cold butter” in pea sized chunks so that the steam from the butter will help to give it height.

I’m neither Southern, nor a Woman – not that there is anything with that, nor not that there is anything wrong with not being that.

I also tend to look for shortcuts in the kitchen.

That Southern Recipe is kind of fussy and really does take practice.

The recipe up top there?  It’s easy.  You just have to be patient in the oven.

That night when we went shopping I remembered I wanted the heavy cream to make these biscuits.

Since I was going to be left alone for a couple weeks, I also had to get some ground beef for Rack, my McNab SuperDog (TM).  I ended up getting 30 pounds of ground beef which basically ate my freezer’s extra space.

I never bake just one of something, and the biscuits would serve me a week of breakfasts.  But with Mr Dog’s food ingredients squatting on the prime real estate in my freezer, I had to wait until the freezer drained of “extra” food.

So I watched.  Every time I opened that freezer and took something out, I did a little mental Happy Dance to think I was getting closer to being able to have those biscuits.

In later shopping trips, I did manage to over fill the house, and get some jarred gravy.  If you are reading this from outside of the US, this is not brown gravy – it’s something called Red Eye Gravy, which is a white Bechamel Sauce cooked with Sausage Chunks and some black pepper to make it all savory.

This stuff is not light, it’s not healthy, and it may not be something for every day, but some people do it daily, and I have seen pictures of an English Breakfast and was amazed at just how much food was on that plate!

Having been on a training diet since 1979, nobody who regularly eats an English Breakfast (Or Irish, Or Canadian, or …) has any room to point fingers.

Once the freezer had finally been “eaten down” to creating the space for seven biscuits to go back in there, I decided it was time.

This Morning.

I made the recipe, and had the results in that picture.

I am impatient when it comes to Biscuits.  I tend to pull them too early, and this was no different.  I did not allow them to cook the full 10 minutes, and they were raw inside.

Back in the oven you go, I ended up giving them three more minutes at 500F to get them almost perfect.

Served in a bowl with 1/4 cup of steaming hot Red Eye Sausage Gravy on top, I was in heaven.

3 weeks to get them, they had better be good!

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!

Baby Sitting Bear, the Chow. An Old Herding Dog Owner Can Learn New Tricks

I got the request about a month ago.  I caved.  I forgot that if you are going to babysit another person’s dog, you should only do it at home.

Your home.  Only.

If your dog and theirs don’t get on, you should not do it.

Mind you, Bear, the other dog, and Rack, my own dog, get on quite well.  However Rack’s personality quirk of being explosively happy with almost every dog on the planet does not mesh well with many dogs.

I did not want to take the chance with Bear, and Bear lives across the street and a few houses down.

So, great, now I have another dog for about 2 weeks.  How do I manage.  After all, I’m used to having Herding Dogs.  18 years of almost continuously living with McNab dogs have led me to expect specific behavior.

Bear is a Chow.  He looks like a teddy bear.  His fur is the consistency of the stuffing of my living room sofa or a new pillow.  He likes me, and the feeling is mutual.

But if you want to know someone, you have to try to live with them.  Since we are talking about a dog, we are also talking about a creature that has been raised to expect certain behaviors that may be risky or unacceptable – to you.

Never did this, lets dive in.

First walk out, Bear was expecting to be the Hunter, and not be told where and how he may walk.  Oh sure, he’s got his walks, but he’s decided that every single Lizard on the planet is to be eaten.

Not a good idea, Lizards carry salmonella and I am not interested in packing a 70 pound dog into my Jeep and visiting a vet.

I had to teach him “No”.  Simple concept huh?  You see, I was almost pulled down by Bear.  There’s a little alcove just left of the apartment where on each side of a door is a palm cluster.  Perfect place for the little critters to live and Bear attacks it every time through.  Not wanting to be face down on the pavement kissing concrete, “NO!” was said every time we went past it.

With four walks a day, by day 2 the charging at the walls lessened, by day 3 that spot was off limit.

Yes, Bear was learning.

He was still as slow as molasses, but he was now more manageable.

Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks.

Next step.  I had to relax on the walks.  These weren’t so much of a walk as a very slow trudge around the place.

This was because he was a Chow and they only need about 20 minutes of walking a day.  Total.  I had to look that one up.  Both me and my Rack are athletic.  I think a walk of anything less than a half mile is short. Bear on the other hand, no way.  I had to come back for that second walk of a day to “empty the dog” on those palm trees.

He refused to go off property.  I didn’t understand it but it did sink in.  We are in South Florida, in summer, and the Lunch Hour is VERY bright.  Sun angles of about 85 degrees at this time of year.  92F yesterday.   Almost “Due Up”.

Try that wearing a fur coat that will stop every breeze in its tracks.   I realized that this was the case when I saw him hunting the tiny little bits of shade we had around the building.

I’ll hold off walking the boy until the later walks, just let him “Have His Head” and decide where he wanted to go.

Here we are mid week.  The first walk was much easier.  He did a lap around the building, spotted one Lizard and looked at me before he walked over to it.

How a 70 pound dog can pull down a tall man of 223.4 pounds (this morning) is a bit of a surprise.  Bear is overweight, but he is a muscular overweight.

A much better reaction.  But that was it, we went for a walk, he did what he needed to, and we came back home.

I’ve simplified and rationalized his food recipe.  There is way too much salt in the recipe, however I’m going to hold off managing that for them.  Have a chat with the owner and make sure that he understands that a dog of 70 pounds should never have any more than 200mg salt per day.

I’m not a vet, I only play a Know-It-All on a blog.

Sitting with him after his breakfast early this morning though, he was looking for attention, and giving me warm vibes with his brown eyes.

Yeah, Bear’s a good dog.  11 out of 10.  Good boy.

Now, if I can only get through this week.

Banana Leaves With A Side of Sparkle

6 months of Desert, 6 months of torrential rain.

That’s our climate.  I did see a map once that said that Fort Lauderdale and coastal Broward County are considered a Rainforest Climate according to the Koppen criteria.

It never freezes here, but it gets damn close.

The rains just finally opened up this week.  They got so strong and so commonplace, even though they’re late, that my dog is going through Panic Attacks going out at night.

I will say that it’s probably due to the combination of Rain, Thunder, and Fireworks that happen this week.  If I had a place way out away from everyone, we would be there.

The nice thing is that when you get up in the morning, the world is washed clean.  You have the streets scoured of anything that was killed on them over the last few months, the dust runs off to the soil, and the air smells cleaner than usual.

Where I am, 2 1/2 miles or about 4 K from the ocean, there isn’t much pollution coming from the east.  What we do get are dust clouds from the Sahara Desert.

Seriously.

As in every time I take the Jeep out I have to hose it down.

As in I just spent an hour dusting the room divider of that stuff.

Going out into the morning makes you see why things are green and lush.  My plants are loving this weather.  I’m liking going out after a rain storm and seeing temperatures edging down towards what passes for cool here.

The plants are dusted clean, and usually there’s a mist covering their leaves.

That is what caught my eye.  I was walking around my yard picking up things.  In the corner of my eye, my Banana Tree sparkled this morning.  Like one of those cartoons when you see things cleaned and you hear “ping ping PING!”.

The leaves were misted with tiny jewels of water droplets.  Each droplet catching the light like a band of that reflective paint.  Some bending the light and giving me a show.

I’ve said it before, if you look, you can even find beauty in your own back yard and in your own pots.

In this case, I caught it, even if it did have to be enhanced by the sun in the golden hour after sunrise.