Archive for September 2015

09-29-2015 Journal– “Hola, Como estas"   Leave a comment

As you can see I’m feeling a bit Mexican today.  Living in Maine has it’s advantages and I’ve listed them many times before.  Unfortunately for those of us who love Mexican food the restaurants in Maine have always left us unsatisfied. Most of the current restaurants that claim to serve Mexican food insist on Americanizing it by cutting back on the heat.  The result is a food that’s pretty to look at but has no zing. You know it’s a bad thing when you’re required to sneak in with a bottle of hot sauce to get the heat to a proper Mexican level.

We’ve been visiting on a semi-regular basis a restaurant that’s only been around a couple of years.  The food has gotten progressively better as time has gone on which makes us very happy.  I’ve eaten good old down home Mexican food in small restaurants along the border in Texas and this place could be one of them.

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Yesterday we wanted to enjoy a beautiful Fall day and while we were out we stopped at Casa Fiesta for lunch.  I was jonesing for some hot Mexican food and that’s exactly what we got.  First they delivered the always delicious nachos and salsa while we waited for our meal.  I consider myself a salsa aficionado and make three or four versions of my own on a regular basis.  This was without a doubt the best restaurant salsa I’ve had in many years. Super hot and super flavorful. 

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We went through two baskets of nachos and two bowls of salsa. I could have eaten even more but I was forced to stop so I had room for the entre. I wanted a red wine with the meal and they offered a nice selection. I settled on a delicious Agua De Piedra from Argentina.  It was smooth and sweet and was perfect for the meal.  I’m not going to bore you with a lot of information that the wine snobs love so much like finish, color, oakiness, and all of that nonsense.  I like wine and make a lot of my own.  For me there are only three types of wine; Good, Bad, and So-S0. All of that other stuff has no meaning for me. If it tastes good . . . buy it. If it tastes Bad or So-So . . . don’t buy it. Easy peasy.

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The meal arrived at the perfect time and was delicious. I feasted on mushroom quesadillas while my better-half had a steak fajita taco salad.  Does this look good or what?

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I was full of excellent food and wine and my head was sweating like I had hoped it would be.  What more could I ask for. We left for home fat, dumb, and extremely happy.

Just so you know my burning mouth stayed with me all the way home. Perfect!

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09-27-2015 Journal – My Return to Puberty!   Leave a comment

A lot of people that know me really don’t know me as well as they think.  I’ve been described by many over the last few years as nothing more than an old fart.  While some of them do it jokingly other really seem to mean it.  They don’t understand that underneath all of this sarcasm and rapier wit resides a very sensitive person who’s feelings can be easily hurt just like everyone else.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not whining only stating the facts. As of this late date I feel the only people close to me that really “get me” are my two grandsons aged three and six months.  They came to visit last night for a few hours while their parents enjoyed a night by themselves away from the madness of child rearing. 

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‘The house looked like a Toys-R-Us exploded.’

My first job was to spend a half hour with grandson #1 chasing him around the house and generally irritating the hell out of my better-half.  For a change I had a partner in crime which allowed me to misbehave a great deal more than usual and to blame it on him.  We ran around the house throwing and bouncing balls in every room until he got bored, I got tired, and she got angry. Our fun night was just beginning.

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I spent the next hour helping him empty out the toy box which left toys and trucks everywhere. I sat and mindlessly helped him build things and destroy other things.  He made me his official play-pal when he gifted me with an honorary plastic dinosaur.  The way he presented it to me made me feel like I’d just won an Oscar.  He was very serious about it and it apparently held a great deal of meaning for him.  I was really  honored.

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‘And the winner of this prestigious award is . . . . ?’

We then took a break from the action by sitting on the couch with his little brother. That little guy just makes me feel good all over because all he does is smile and giggle.  I played a little paddy cake with him which I hadn’t done for more years than I care to remember.  I have to admit it felt pretty good.

I’m a person who loves to eat, a true foodie, and when dinner came around I found out we’d all be eating from the three year olds menu. Since he’s partial to fish sticks, guess what, we had fish sticks.  The last time I had a plate of fish sticks was more than four decades ago. That first bite took me back to age ten in one giant mouthful.  It tasted exactly as I remembered and that was pretty cool.

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The six month old downed a mug of thawed out mothers milk and crashed on the sofa next to me. The three year old finally ran out of his endless supply of adrenaline and fell asleep rather quickly on my chair. Even an exciting Mickey Mouse movie on Netflix couldn’t keep him awake. Unfortunately for me I’ll be singing and humming all of those catchy little tunes for the next week.  The curse of Walt Disney.

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‘An full hour of this is almost unbearable.’

Once they were all asleep my better-half and I returned to our reality, a cold drink and a little peace and quiet.  These babysitting nights are always a lot of fun but also a little strange at times. If my mind wanders for just a moment all of a sudden I’m six years old again and playing with my childhood friends. It must be true what they say, everything we experience in our lives is stored somewhere in the brain and comes out when we least expect it.

I look forward to their next visit and the little bit of time travel that it offers.

09-24-2015 Journal–My Own Private Sh*t List!   Leave a comment

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Anyone who ever met my late father and had  more than a two minute conversation with him was sure to have heard the term "Sh*t List".  Some one was always being added to his never ending list and included almost anyone who ever annoyed or irritated him.

He and I disagreed on many things but I really loved the idea a list of people, places, or things that ruined my day in some fashion.  My better-half and I adopted the practice a number of years ago and swore to each other to keep our candidates on the list only until they reversed their offensive actions. They could then be removed after a probationary period that included one additional visit from us showing remorse for their questionable actions or bad attitudes. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it and there are times when I wish it wasn’t me.

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Our list contains the names of dozens of retail cashiers and managers who were rude or just plain ignorant. In most cases that included the retailer they worked for and who permitted their bad behavior without taking appropriate action.  Walmart has been on and off the list at least three times already and we been forced to keep a close eye on them.  Home Depot was a regular offender until recently when their latest customer service program began producing excellent results.

If you’re wondering why I’m posting this information, let me explain. We consider it a public service to let people know where the places that suck are located.  Today’s announcement concerns the Appleby’s restaurant located in Biddeford, Maine.

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Four years ago we placed them on the list for their high prices and less than delicious food.  Their waitresses were unfriendly and a bit snotty.  We waited a few years until we’d heard of a major menu change to more of a bistro or sports bar style of food.  After our next visit we were thrilled to remove them from the Sh*t List.  Major improvements were observed in all categories.

I’m saddened to report that Appleby’s is once again back on the list. They seem to have become complacent once again and are backsliding into the proverbial dumpster.  Since they’re a second time offender we won’t be returning for at least a year to check on them.

Being a public servant can be really inconvenient at times because we’re slowly running out of restaurants where we can eat.

WE ARE EQUAL OPPORTUNIT SH*T LISTERS

09-23-2015 Journal–Snow, Sleet, & Ice!   Leave a comment

I always seem to be talking about Winter approaching these days and with good reason.  Winter in Maine lasts at least six months but it certainly seems longer. Just two weeks ago I was sleeping under a ceiling fan for eight hours a night because it was so damn hot and humid in the house. At the time I thought that miserable hot weather would never let up.  Let me tell you, it’s let up.

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‘Ahhhh Memories’

As of last night I’m convinced Winter is much closer than I thought. The last few nights we’ve  had temperatures in the low forties which are wreaking havoc on what remains of the garden.  I was reminded early this morning when the cold air in the room jolted me awake.  Last night was the first official #5 night for my electric blanket. Unless some sort of Indian Summer happens it could mean an early arrival of the season which includes an unwelcome amount of our favorite white stuff.

Fall is probably my second favorite season of the year after early Spring.  I love the vivid colors of the foliage just like every other photographer on the planet. Maine is already known for it’s beautiful scenery along the coast and inland in the forests and around the many lakes.  Throw in millions and millions of colorful leaves and it becomes for a short time an effing paradise.

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My cameras and lenses are cleaned and ready. My snowblower’ been taken out of mothballs, gassed up, and ready to go. All that’s left for me to do is the unpacking of my unfashionable and ugly winter clothing.  It’s almost impossible to look good wearing three layers of clothing, a hat, gloves, a scarf, and big clunky boots. . . and unfortunately I’m just talking about the women. The men look even worse as they let their beards grow out and suit up with their favorite snowmobiling outfit.  There’s nothing better than hanging around an ice fishing hut with a few of your buddies telling tall tales about fishing, hunting, and sexual prowess and guzzling as much  beer as you can drink.

The never-ending number of hunting seasons always irritates me a little.  There are times when entering the woods around here to take pictures can be a life threatening situation. If you not wearing bright red or fluorescent green you could easily be mistaken for a moose, a turkey, or even a cow.  It’s a little like Vietnam out there if you throw in a few cases of beer to make things interesting. Scary doesn’t even begin to cover it.

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As you can see from my remarks, I’m neither a hunter nor a fisherman. I’ve never been all that crazy about killing helpless animals with high powered weaponry and high tech fishing paraphernalia.  I prefer to do all of my shooting with a camera. I also hate the thought of eating wild game thanks to my father who insisted I try to eat a little of everything he ever shot. Yuck!

Time to Crank up the electric blanket and hunker down for another six months of snow, sleet, and ice.  I only hope I don’t slip and fall this year and break any additional bones. Trust me, it’s happened before.

09-21-2015 Journal–2016 Garden Additions!   1 comment

How often do you open your eyes in the morning and spring out of bed to face the day?  If you do, congratulations, but if you don’t then you’re like me.  I lay there for at least ten minutes with my eyes tightly closed and not moving a muscle.  If I made any movement my big hairy alarm clock (the cat) will pounce on me in a flash.  He wants fed and watered and won’t take no for an answer.

If things are really quiet I know my better-half has already left for work making it possible for me to ease into my day.  I make my way to the WC, take care of that business and then to the kitchen to feed the effing cat and get COFFEE!!!!. Without the promise of coffee I’d never leave the bedroom.

I made a trip to Lowes yesterday and purchased some lumber for today’s project. I decided to get a jump on 2016 by making a few alterations to the garden  before the snows arrive.  I’m hardy ever this motivated but I convinced myself to get off my butt and do something useful.

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The better-half and I discussed making garden changes last week and I think I even surprised her a little yesterday.  I decided to add two side frames to the garden that will be used to grow nothing but sunflowers.  The total square footage will increase by only 32 square feet but that’s more than enough room for a lot of sunflowers.  The better-half loves them almost as much as the birds that eat them do.

The first chore was to dig up the existing grass for removal to other areas of the yard to re-sod a few bare spots.

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The soil in this area contains a lot of clay and it makes growing things difficult. That’s the reason for the frames. They are are to be filled with a lot of good topsoil and fertilizer to help those sunflowers along.

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It’s takes a lot of work and time to carefully move the sod. We have one section of the yard that’s refused all of our efforts to grow grass. I’m hoping this effort today will finally solve that problem once and for all.  After all of that work I’m left with two area like this:

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Come April and May I’ll be so glad I finished this project today. Thank God for dark roast coffee.

09-19-2015 Journal–Random Unimportant Acts!   Leave a comment

Today’s posting is just a little of this and a little of that, nothing earth shattering by any means.  With Fall and the holidays in my immediate future I’m just taking a few deep breaths and resting up for the on-slot to come.  I’ll need all of my energy to deal with Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and everything that entails.

Topic one is the ongoing Dish Network table project.  I was able to complete the first two coats of red paint, the staining of the base, and the creation of the coax cable pieces needed to make it a little more interesting. It’s coming together fairly well with only a few minor problems that were easily dealt with.

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The hard part is coming.  I finally have the finished version of the mosaic for the table top laid out but getting it installed perfectly will be a challenge. 

Topic Two is the garden cleanup.  Yesterday I removed many of the plants that have been producing for most of the Summer.  The cucumbers, zucchini’s, beans, and kohlrabi’s made their way to the compost pile.  I left the tomatoes and peppers alone for now.  In another two weeks they too will be gone.  All in all 2015 was a very productive year for us.

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Topic three; After working in the garden for a while my better-half and I made a quick trip to Federal Jacks restaurant and micro-brewery in Kennebunkport. I was in dire need of seafood and a large cold glass of Goat Island Light beer. Here’s the view from the second floor dining room overlooking the harbor.

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And last but not least here’s a cold glass of Goat Island Light. As I’ve stated many times before, I’m not a beer drinker.  After all these years I finally found a decent beer I can occasionally drink and enjoy.  I never thought it could happen but I’m glad it did.

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09-17-2015 Journal – CSI-Saco, ME   Leave a comment

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On any given day I’m never sure what’ll  happen around here but today even surprised me a little. I was minding my own business and enjoying my life until I found a corpse in my driveway.  I make it a point to be aware of what goes on around my residence by checking things regularly every day. I was able to determine the time of death based on my last patrol of the property and let me tell you that corpse was fresh.

With my investigative background it took only a quick glance to determine that this death was not accidental. . . . it appeared to be murder. I could plainly see the blunt force trauma to the head and several deep puncture marks along the side of the body. It wasn’t pretty. 

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‘Deadly head trauma to be sure.’

I closely searched the surrounding area looking for obvious clues but found nothing.  This investigation really couldn’t be all that thorough because I no longer have access to the appropriate forensic equipment except for latex gloves and a big, old magnifying glass I found in a drawer.

In recent weeks there’ve been reports of suspicious behavior by a gang of delinquents (coyotes) roaming around the neighborhood after dark and wreaking havoc throughout the area.  It’s resulted in the loss of a number of  household pets and those guys are persons of interest.

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‘He never had a prayer.’

There was no way to identify the body so we’ll just call him Mickey Doe.  He had brown hair and a large unruly mustache. I was able to get a couple of photos of the body but they added very little to the investigation. As you can see this will be a difficult case to solve and I expect it will go cold rather quickly.

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‘Some serious bite marks.’

My main suspect lives across the street and is often seen skulking around looking for trouble. He had motive and opportunity because I saw him just before finding the body as he was high-tailing it home to hide under the porch.

As of this report the case remains open. I was forced to remove the body from the driveway and reverently picked it up by the tail and tossed it into the woods.  We have no refrigeration facilities here to store corpses.

Another sad and merciless loss of life here in Maine.

BE ON THE LOOK OUT FOR THIS GUY

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FANGED AND DANGEROUS

09-15-2015 Journal – Hot Damn !!!   Leave a comment

Do you have a favorite food?  I think everyone does but unless you ask you may never know what it is.  For most of my life bacon was my favorite but as with all things, changes can occur.  I still love bacon and will eat it until I die regardless of the possible consequences to my health.

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‘My favorite pie.’

I now have a new love in my life that captured my attention about ten years ago.  For me it was like finding the Holy Grail.  I’ve been obsessed with it ever since and there’s no end in sight.  What is it you ask . . . Habanero Peppers.  They’ve changed my life as well as my taste buds, FOREVER!!

Many people love hot food laced with Cayenne, Serrano, or even Ghost peppers but heat isn’t everything.  I require as much heat  as possible but I also want flavor as well.  I’ve tried almost every hot pepper I could find over the years and even came up with a few exotic mixtures in my lame attempt to find excellent flavor with head-sweating heat.

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‘Red-Savina’

After a few years I began hearing about a type of habanero pepper called red-savina.  I ordered some from a place in New Mexico and my life was changed forever.  Since my discovery I’ve made many batches of chili and salsa using red-savina’s as the heat.  The flavor is incredible and the heat is a killer. The perfect pepper for me.  It’s difficult to find them in regular markets but my solution was to periodically purchase a red-savina mash on–line.  It lasts a reasonable length of time in the frig and I can get a half pint for approximately $10.00.  That will last me a good six months.

Recently I found myself running out of red-savina’s and was forced to temporarily fallback to using the standard habanero peppers.  Some were grown in my garden and the remainder were purchased from a local food store.  Then it was time to get to work. I put on my extra thick latex gloves and began the process.

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‘My babies.’

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‘Sliced and Diced’

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‘And Dehydrated’

If you’re going to try this make sure you wear the appropriate mask to keep the dust from your nose and sinuses as you’re grinding it.  You’ve been warned, it really is painful.  The end result is a  small jar of habanero dust good to use with almost any meal you’d like to prepare.

I’m working on a new recipe which uses habanero soaked bacon strips laid across a stack of tasty pancakes covered with maple syrup.  Sinfully delicious and hot enough to make you cry.

09-13-2015 Journal–Rainy Day Projects!   Leave a comment

With the season change looming and with a few days of rain expected, it’s time to get back to work on some of my side projects. One in particular needs immediate attention because I’m running out of time to have it done by November 14th.  It’s a weird but special gift for my better-half the beer connoisseur.  On top of being a beer expert she’s also a collector of sorts. Over the last twenty-five years she’s religiously saved bottle caps from every type of beer she’s ever tasted.  We ended up with a garbage bag filled with hundreds of beer memories (bottle caps) but had no idea what to do with them. 

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It’s funny how things fall together at times. Just as I was cutting our ties with the Dish Network by removing their equipment from the side of our house, I had a revelation.  I took the dish and all of it’s component parts, reconstructed them into a sort of interesting but weird side table.

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As I was working on the table I looked over to the corner of the workshop and saw the bag of bottle caps.  It was then I decided to use the colorful and interesting bottle caps to create a mosaic top for my Dish Network Memorial Table. What better gift for a beer connoisseur than a one-of-a-kind table for her to sit her beer on.

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I used a floor-leveler compound to flatten out the dish interior a little and then got to work on the mosaic top. The wide range of bottle cap colors surprised me a bit but made the job much easier.

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Two coats of high gloss paint will make it pretty and mounting it  on a wooded base will keep it sturdy enough for everyday use.  Then it’s adhesive, bottle cap placement, and a decorative grout.  I’ll post my future progress  (if I have any) and hopefully this thing will be finished in time for the birthday celebration.

09-11-2015 Journal – Presidential Politics Once Again!   Leave a comment

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“I will never forget.” is the extent of my comments for today on all of the 9/11 anniversary coverage. I have no need to write paragraph after paragraph about that day or to show any of the many horrific photographs. “I can’t and won’t ever forget.”

For too many years of my life I’ve wasted time fretting about politics and inept politicians. I’ve allowed myself to become upset and irate about how this country has slowly eroded many of our civil and human rights without a second thought. With the new presidential campaign beginning it’s time for me to bury my head in the sand and go into seclusion from it all.

I see nothing that interests me. It’s more of the same idiocy, the Clinton’s, the Obama’s, and the Bush’s. All we need is for someone to throw in a couple of Kennedy’s and we’ll finally have completed our time travel back to the 1960’s.

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I’m one of the many citizens who’ve lost faith in our politicians as well as the American voting public. Any group of people, large or small, who are gullible enough to vote for an obvious anti-American to a second term as president deserve exactly what they get. This country has been in decline since the arrival of the Obama’s who’ve done nothing to stop it, if anything, they’ve accelerated it. Now the Democrats want Joe Biden to step in and attempt a third Obama term. The way things are going in this country he’ll probably get elected and the media will convince everyone it’s a huge mandate. Then he can become the scapegoat that can then be blamed for the downfall of the United States as a superpower. Turn out the lights people the effing party’s almost over.

I’ve finally eliminated from my life the constant barrage of political propaganda, both Republican and Democrat, that’s being spewed from millions of televisions across the country every day. I’ve also stopped listening to the radio which has become just as bad as television, if not worse. I’m done with it all.

My late father always told me that my vote meant something. I’m glad he didn’t live long enough to see what happening to this country . . . it would have killed him. The individual vote means nothing any longer because the political parties have successfully separated the citizens into small and diverse groups based on any number of differences. They play the blacks against the whites, the whites against the blacks, the heterosexuals against the gays, the blacks and whites against the Hispanics, and even the religious against the non-religious. We now have Red states against Blue states which helps keep everyone arguing and fighting on stupid social issues that mask all of the games that the political elite love to play.  It’s become almost impossible with all of the factional infighting to elect a president with a majority of the popular vote.

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So I hope you’re all prepared for the browbeating and propagandizing that’s coming your way for the next year. Let me know how it’s going from time-to-time if you can because I’m tired of trying to do the right thing and having it thrown back in my face.  I’m tuning out just like the powers-that-be want me to do. They’ve won the battles and they’ve won the war.  By disenfranchising us citizens they can continue to rule as they please without interference from the “great unwashed”.

HAPPY DAYS