Monday, November 28, 2011

Haiku Monday:Drink Your Energy

The Gators scor'd 1st,
long before the copycats.
Spurrier's team wins!

Why did I not act?
Sugar, water and some C
Pass the billions please

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Today is Small Business Saturday. The intention is to raise awareness of the need to support small businesses on the opening weekend of the Christmas shopping season. Small businesses are the back bone of America. We know  this truth from our own blog family. Be it Plastics, Art, Porkrinds, ChefHunters, Editing , Writing, Photography or Design  we are intimately familiar with the importance of independent businesses. Stay away from the mega chains, shop local, shop independent, shop hand made is the message being promoted today.

In our little Carolina town we have a very nice Farmer's Market. It adjoins the parking lot of our Arts Center downtown so there is plenty of  room for the masses to come on down. It is a charming L-shaped  open pavilion  with brick pillars, open rafters and metal roofing. It is designed for the farmers to back into their spaces so products are  displayed to those strolling through the pavilion. This is a good design which works very well.

Growing season is mostly over. Beginning this weekend, instead of the Saturday Farmer's Market, there is the Handmade Christmas Market Saturdays. I went today and was mostly horrified by what I saw. Seriously, Chickory and Boxer have no idea how good their stuff is. What did catch my eye was the snowmen and the penguin gourds. Those I liked. Actually I liked the idea of them . The ones I saw at the market were so poorly executed  I could not bring myself to spend  money on them.  In fact, I did not  see any buyers. Which is a shame because I think most, like me, came with the intention to be supportive of the market, the artists, downtown businesses, locally grown, hand crafted, or baked  goods. It was disappointing.

This is a bottle gourd.  You can even order seeds for these from Parks Seed Company.  Painting and dressing these as Snowmen makes a charming decoration. Even a great holiday activity with kids.
I can absolutely understand how at the end of growing season and approaching the holiday season the two became connected. What to do with all the late gourds?

I did not take my camera with me today so I fetched some images from the web. I was stunned by the quantity of stuff on gourd crafts, gourd growing, buying, carving, painting.The sheer quantity of stuff on the subject staggers the mind. Talk about a small business..... it looks bigger than small!

These are dried Penguin Gourds.

                                                                       So are these,

                                          And these. I love their cute little yellow bow ties,

But this handsome gourd is a turkey!
I think he would make a fine trophy for Blowfish
In honor of his first Thanksgiving as the TurkeyChef.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Great Blowfish Inaugural Turkey Frying Event

Our Thanksgiving was blessed.
Mermaid  traveled  safely home without much in the way of traffic miseries for her or worries for her folks. Even before  the headlights of her vehicle  lit up the back drive our spanielly pup felt her  vibe and started turning joy circles out in the drive. He always likes to be the first to welcome her home

This turkey has been part of our decorations near about Mermaid's whole life. The year she was                 born  Blowfish's mama came home with this fella,  a door prize from a holiday luncheon. She belonged to a group called "Sister Stitches". Some of the members knit, others crocheted, or cross stitched or did needlepoint or this stuff using yarn and a plastic grid.  Mostly these women got together once a month to be friends, to catch up on their happenings and to be supportive, encouraging, or
just a witness to each others lives.  Now this bird is
a witness to our Thanksgivings and a reminder on the importance of love, friendship and tradition.

Another Thanksgivng traditon is this pair of little pilgrims. They too are from Blowfish's Mama.  She has been gone for 18 Thanksgivings now. We always  include some of  her "treasures"  in our celebrations. This year,  it was such a beautiful day, we had our feast outside setting the table with  Adeline's pretty turquoise table linens. I know she was smiling with us.

We all had a bit of fun with all the activities surrounding the Great Blowfish Inaugural Turkey Frying Event.

                                         We moved  vehicles out of the combustion range.

                 Blowfish had spent part of Wednesday evening  getting the fryer assembled. After the cookies the breakfast and the third reading of the frying instructions, he headed out to get things set up out on the parking pad.

                                                 Mermaid and I added a few touches

                                      Our dog Will came to check out the new smells and commotions.

                                                  Clearly this expresses his disdain for our foolishness.

                              Or maybe he was hoping we would open the Ale and  pour some in his bowl

                                                I wisely watched some of this from afar.

                              The turkey displacement measuring and the test lighting went well.

These  cooking method is fast so shortly after the test phase I had to abandon my photo journaling and  get in the Kitchen to cook  the other menu items . There were a few issues with the turkey frying. There was occasional wind ,once strong enough to blow out the fire. Hum. Another issue was the frying  temperature dropped more than expected after lowering the bird into the fryer. The decision was to up the flame a bit and to extend the cooking time a bit. It is a  guess because the instructions say 3-6 minutes per pound.  Three could be underdone, six could be a 911 call. We settled on 4 minutes and our bird was a bit more done than we like, but still good.  Mermaid  stayed mostly outside with Blowfish during the cooking so she could be  on hand to assist should there be a problem. I am thrilled to report there were none :-)

 The biggest disappointment of the day? An absolutely horrible blueberry pie. But there was this for dessert.

Thank you all for your prayers  ... they worked ! No disasters and no injuries! The day was beautiful with bright blue skies and  balmy temperatures allowing us to enjoy our feast outdoors! Mermaid gleefully  skunked us in cards and  the Cowboys managed to  skunk our Dolphins by one lousy point.  Oh well.

I hope each of you had a very  happy Thanksgivings.
As many have noted, there is this amazingly smart. talented, funny, nurturing blog family to be thankful of.
I know I am as your presence in my life is very enriching. And often, a comfort. On this "Black Friday" I hope we all are in the black, not the red, in our business as well as our personal economies. I REALLY pray America will find the resolve (and the leadership) to return to the black as well. The free flowing Washington red is killing our nation. We need to staunch the hemorrhage. Do e-mail your congresspersons and senators to let them know your expectations. Stand up for America . Be a hero. Speak out.  Pray.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Bonfires and Turkeys

A few weeks back Blowfish and I went to a Bonfire Party in a riding arena. It makes sense, plenty of space, no chance of the fire spreading and  when it's over just use your regular equipment for dragging the  arena.

We had a fine time, which is noteworthy because Blowfish is not often comfortable at gatherings where he does not know most of the people.  He is , however, always a foodie and the food here was good and plentiful. There were good ol boys manning turkey fryers of every description.. Some of those fryers were cooking turkeys, others were loaded up with pork shoulders or beef slabs. Tables were laden with every vegetable, casserole, salad, bread and dessert you ever heard of and probably some you have not.  Blowfish was a happy man.

On the way home from this outing Blowfish allowed as how he thought he should fetch home a turkey fryer.
This was not unexpected. I had my diversions ready.
" You  think you will miss any of your games standing out in the road watching that fryer"?
" The road?  I will be right out on the deck!"
" Who's deck are you talking about?"
" Fishy, what the tarnation is wrong with you? Our deck, right out the Garden Room door. I can look in the window and see the games just fine".
" Will that deck hold a ton of sand"?
" Well, I just do not see how you are going to build a sand pit to set your turkey fryer in up on that deck. You saw how those experienced fry men each had their own station? Reason being if one combusted  the others would not?  Could you see in the dark, each station was set up in it's own little sand pit. Not to mention they had fire extinguishers out there too."
" Fishy, didn't you love that deep fried turkey taste?"
" Yes I sure did. The fry master I chatted with allowed he had been frying his for the last decade or so. I asked him if it was easy or if there was any steepness to the learning curve. He said he didn't think he had burned up more than a dozen turkeys, one truck and one shed, but  no houses."
" Fishy. I am  getting us a turkey fryer.  I am going to cook the turkey this Thanksgiving . I will agree to putting it 50 yards from the house, the fencing, the trees  and all vehicles. I will not go all the way up to the road . I can make  a sand pit but I think it  foolish."

Yesterday, when Blowfish came home he drove that big dually truck of his  all the way down the drive nearly to the garage. I heard banging and clanging for a bit then he went on and parked the truck up in the regular spot. He usually does this sort of thing when he is unloading something heavy  to be stored in the garage.

He came in whistling. With that extra little bounce in his step that indicates this is a fella real pleased with himself.  I was in the Kitchen  tearing lettuces for our salads.
"Hi. I can see you liked your day.
 How about a glass of red while I prep dinner and you tell me about you?"
Happy man told me a lot of things about his day with nary a mention about objects in the garage. We had dinner then I had to evacuate while the heads were dissecting the SuperCommittee failures.  I am too young to have a stroke. Plus, demented women foaming at the mouth angry are never attractive. Later he wandered up to my retreat and stayed to watch Antiques Road Show with me before going down to get his daily dose of facebook love from former students.  Still no mention of new objects in the garage.

This morning Blowfish brought the paper in saying it was already getting heavy with
 the early circulars for Black Friday sales. Our normal routine is to separate the circulars
from the actual paper. We rarely review them but today I skipped the paper and went straight to studying the slicks.  Blowfish looked up from reading the paper and said, " What are you doing?"

"What for? Is there something you need?
 Are those the grocery specials you're studying?"
" I am not studying the grocers advertisements"
" Don't you want to read the paper?"
" I got more important things on my mind this morning."
" What are you looking for?"
"An early Christmas present"
" What would that be?"
" A fire extinguisher and a truckload of sand"

"You are a cruel woman!!!!!!"

" Have you seen that good hands ad about all the turkey fryer fires?I have no interest in being their  Christmas commercial. I have not said one thing against you frying  our turkey. What I am saying is take some reasonable precautions so we can all enjoy the day".

" You and I don't have the same idea about 'reasonable'."

" Shall I download the video on the proper techniques for putting out turkey fryer fires? And might I remind you the  Turkey Fry Gods of the bonfire gathering all had sandpits and extinguishers? No need for you to be acting like I ordered hazmat suits for everyone There is nothing wrong with my idea of reasonable. Yours could use a bit of fine tuning though."

Blowfish returned to his coffee and paper while I continued to read the ads.
After a bit he said, " I will bring home sand and an extinguisher today."
" Thank you".
" What are you looking for now?"
" Orange cones"
" What?"

" You know those orange safety  traffic cones?
 I don't want yo to get run over on Thanksgiving
while you are up on the road frying our turkey"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

To Pine: grief by separation

" Fishy, you've been sort of quiet  lately. You okay?"
" Ummm"
"Was that a yes, did you nod?"
" Umm-hmmmm"
"Is there any dinner"
" Sure"
" I don't see any dinner"
" Well, would you like to go out? I heard they had
a new menu down at Irishman's Pub"
" If you want"

" Let's try something else.
 You got any notions about what you  might be wanting for Christmas this year?"
" A rock".
" You mean like another big diamond"?
"No Blowfish,  I have more jewels than I can wear".
" Well, what kind of rock are you talking about?"
" Amadour's"
" Whomadoors? What the heck are you talking about"
" Actually it's Rocamadour."
" What is it??????"
" The place where I left my heart."
" Where?"
" On Saint Amadour's Rock"
An amazing ancient city

Cleaved into a cliff face above the Alzou

The buildings are astonishing 

As are  their construction methods

The merge of man-made and God-made is intimate

Boggles the mind actually

the architectural detail is breath taking

The messages sometimes painful to contemplate 

Pilgrims come from ....everywhere..... to witness ... to experience ... to plea

preserved acts of adoration 

Devoted artisans made their contributions   

surely it was prayer that accomplished the staggering construction  logistics

For some, carving for God was a  life journey

Their contributions still  inspire, educate   

The location...defensible ... the access .....  limited

The hike to the ramparts is beautiful

And it's a long hike 

Worth every prayerful step

With interesting  venues along the way

and inspiration for pilgrims past and present

Saturday, November 5, 2011

" We are complete"

 Much to my surprise, I absolutely fell in love with the French sense or order. It is evident everywhere! Certainly in the shop windows, but also in every village, along  narrow country roads as well as along the super slabs. In ancient cities or great cities like Paris which is both old and new. The French love beauty too, in all it's forms.  The French expression of order combined with their love, respect and attention to all things beautiful  made my heart strum. Seriously, I am not sure I had a coherent conversation the whole time I was there. The absorption  of all things French commanded my attention.

In no way was the French passion for order more prevalent that at mid-day. A respite from 12:30 until 2:00 is sacred. Shops, banks, offices all close for lunch. Lunch is served most particularly within the assigned hours. Not before and certainly not after.  Foolish Americans who cannot understand this  importance or manage their time suitably,  go hungry. Literally. If you fail to make it to a restaurant, a cafe, a sidewalk bistro within that time frame, you will not be served. The French are quite charming in telling you  this.
Some starched, beautifully groomed individual will give you a horrified look before coming to your side to announce themselves , "Desolate Madame. Desolate. We are complete"

I was "desolate" a lot in France. Which is fine because a very simple lunch often cost $30, or more.  I was thinking if I had made it to lunch more often I would have had to wash some china. What was remarkable to me, besides how loud my stomach could grumble, was the differences in how food business is organized there, as compared to here. I've never worked in the food industry so my understanding of how things are done here is  from the viewpoint of a consumer  or as a project designer for a restaurant or cafe. In France, often the places will have a posted menu but equally often what they have is a hand lettered chalkboard with a listing of the days offerings. If for instance, lunch for a Tuesday is planned to provide 40 servings of a  fine pork cassoulet, a salade vert and an entire baguette then  that is what there is. When the servings have all been served, lunch is "complete". In restaurants where the larders are larger, they might not serve all their portions but at 2pm, I assure you, lunch is also "complete".  It's okay though, the views everywhere  fill your soul.