Archive for August 2016

08-31-2016 Journal – The Big Easy!   Leave a comment

Well, my better-half and I arrived home last night after spending 6 glorious days in the party capitol of the USA . . . New Orleans.  If I disregard our god awful experiences with Jet Blue then we had a great time.  It’s been a number of years since I visited NOLA but I was thrilled to see that it was the same old exciting place that I remembered.  The evidence of Katrina’s visit eleven years ago has been all but erased.

70530540

I grabbed this shot from their website because mine was blurry as hell.

I booked our hotel in an off-the-beaten-path location located in the old creole section of NO on Burgundy Street, 2 blocks north of Bourbon Street. The St. Pierre hotel was once the NO Jazz Museum but has since been converted into an hotel.

DSC_0011

DSC_0012

It consists of a group of 150 year old creole homes joined together with small intimate courtyards and swimming pools hidden from street view.  If you ever visit there you need to know this is not the Hilton or Weston style of hotel.  This is an old building with 150 years of character and an 1850’s atmosphere.  We loved going native for a few days and would do it again in a heartbeat.

DSC_0008

This pool was 30 feet from our room. This is the view looking down from the balcony.

The weather was typical NO. It was 90 plus degrees all week with never less than 80% humidity. It was feel-like temperature of over 100 degrees.  Even though the heat was brutal that pool made it bearable. We visited it twice a day to cool off and have a drink and meet people from all over the world who were also staying there. Just fabulous.

DSC_0006

Another view of the courtyard from our balcony.

This posting is just the start of our trip. I’ll probably continue posting on our other activities for the next week or so. There was a lot to see and maybe I can give you a little taste of how it felt to be there.

IT WAS AN INCREDIBLE WEEK BUT WE’RE GLAD TO BE HOME.

Advertisements

08-22-2016 Journal – Herbs!   Leave a comment

With the Summer more than half over our garden time is more about canning, drying, and storing the results of our efforts than anything else.  I’ve been asked in the past how I can get so much production from such a small garden. There’s really no simple answer. An old adage immediately comes to mind: “Plan the work, then work the plan.”  Test your soil and keep it fresh, season to season, with compost. Plant your plants near compatible plants.  Pull the weeds and kill the bugs. Easy peasy!

The following picture was taken this morning of my small herb garden. The total square footage is 60 ft. which isn’t all that much.  I’ve noted the herbs planted there and while they are jammed tightly into the small space they are flourishing.

DSC_0002A

This small patch has been supplying us with fresh and dried herbs for more than seven years and will hopefully continue to do so.  We’ve had so much luck with our herbs growing that next year we’re converting another 100 square feet of garden space for a much larger herb selection. This little patch will continue as is but the new area will be loaded with every herb I can find that we can dry and store. With a larger and more diverse collection I can begin harvesting herbs to create my own mixes for picking, canning, home brewing, and cooking.

Growing more herbs has a number of advantages over vegetables because none of Mother Nature’s little critters seem to like the herbs. That doesn’t include neighborhood felines who find fresh catnip rather interesting. That will allow me to remove some of the fencing I have in place and eliminate my current problems of ripping my clothing on the fence  or constantly falling on my butt trying to climb over it.  My better-half claims that I’m the clumsiest person on the planet but I dispute that.  I’m just unlucky is all.

I will try to post as usual but our upcoming vacation may make it difficult. I’ll attempt to post from New Orleans if I can but after all it is a vacation. I’ll have plenty to post about upon our return.

ENJOY THE REST OF YOUR SUMMER

08-20-2016 Journal – Another Salsa Day!   Leave a comment

If you follow this blog you already know I love all forms of salsa and make many versions of my own.  One of my favorites has always been Roasted Corn & Black Bean made with varying degrees of heat.  I love getting feedback on what I make especially from my son-in-law who loves salsa.

I made a batch a few months back and for the first time he made a request for the next batch.  He said it was delicious and hot but it needed more corn and more beans.  Many people feel that putting beans in a salsa is just wrong. It may be wrong but I do it anyway because it tastes so damn good. Yesterday was once again salsa day with many more beans and a lot more roasted corn.

I first collect the canning lids and rims and the jars and heat them up in a hot water bath.

DSCN0525

DSCN0530

If you decide to try this be sure to wear a thick pair of kitchen gloves to save yourself a lot of pain from the hot peppers. Plain latex gloves are too thin unless you double them up.  Add your ingredients into the pot and cook for approximately 15 minutes and then it’s time to fill the jars and return them to the water bath.

DSCN0529

Looks good and tastes even better.

DSCN0533

After a nice boiling hot bath for fifteen minutes they’re removed from the pot and allowed to cool for a few hours.   I always recommend waiting at  least a week or two before eating. It’s been my experience that over time the salsa gets a little hotter and a little thicker.  Then it’s corn chips (Yellow) all around the table for a sensational Mexican pig-out.  Top it off with everyone’s favorite beer or wine and you’re good to go.

MY MOUTH’S WATERING AND BURNING AT THE SAME TIME

I LOVE IT!

08-18-2016 Journal – Summer Cooking!   Leave a comment

DSCN0522

Fresh and delicious shrimp.

Do these shrimp look good to you?  They were just as delicious as you might think or so says my better-half.  She’s a shrimp junkie going back many years and considers herself an expert.  I tried just one and really couldn’t disagree.

Summer time meals are something special around here and are to be enjoyed and relished whenever possible.  While I’m not a big fan of shrimp or lobster I do love just about everything else that the ocean has too offer.  I experiment when possible to come up with new flavors and textures with my seafood.  This week we picked up those shrimp and a large haddock fillet just for me.

DSCN0517

To make things a little more interesting I poached the fillet in habanero wine.  I made this wine a few years back and it carries with it a delicious flavor and heat. Once the poaching was completed the fillets were dropped onto the grill to give them a little crispiness.

DSCN0519

Just sooooo good.

Then it’s off to the table with a side of fresh corn-on-the-cob and a glass of Chardonnay.  Cherry tomatoes picked just before the meal and chilled are a perfect addition.  That beer in the picture belongs to my better-half.  She considers any beer she drinks as her Chardonnay.

DSCN0520

The garden continues to flourish now that we’ve had a few days of rain to help perk things up.  I picked this collection of hot peppers (Serrano, Fresno, jalapeno, and Anaheim’s) today because tomorrow is salsa day and I want them as fresh and hot as I can get.

DSCN0523

I’ll be slicing and dicing all of the other salsa ingredients this evening in preparation for tomorrow.  This is the best part of Summer for me without a doubt.

OLE!

08-16-2016 Journal – Death Trivia!   Leave a comment

We do a lot of trivia on this site which usually consists of total useless information about totally useless things and people.  Today will be a miscellaneous mish-mash of things I’ve discovered recently.  First is something called the Manner of Death statistics.  It’s a list created by some group somewhere telling us all how we are dying in descending order of frequency. Enjoy!

Heart disease: 614,348
• Cancer: 591,699
Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 147,101
Accidents (unintentional injuries): 136,053
Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 133,103
Alzheimer’s disease: 93,541
Diabetes: 76,488
Influenza and pneumonia: 55,227
Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 48,146
Intentional self-harm (suicide): 42,773

That’s enough to send a cold chill up anyone’s back. The perfect way to start your day.  Next is a list of injury types, hospital data, and a whole lot more.

  • Number of medically attended injury and poisoning episodes in the population: 39.5 million
  • Episodes per 1,000 population: 126.3
  • Number of visits (to physician offices, hospital outpatient and emergency departments) for injuries: 80.1 million (includes visits for adverse effects of drug, medicinal or biological substance)
  • Number of emergency department visits for injuries: 43.0 million (includes visits for adverse effects of medical treatment)
  • Number of discharges for fractures (all sites): 1.1 million
  • Number of discharges for poisonings: 260,000
  • Number of discharges for certain complications of surgical and medical care: 1.0 million

Mortality

Total number of deaths: 192,945

Deaths per 100,000 population: 60.2

Poisoning

Number of poisoning deaths: 48,545

Deaths per 100,000 population: 15.4

Traffic Deaths

Number of deaths: 33,804

Deaths per 100,000 population: 10.7

Firearm Deaths

Number of deaths: 33,636

Deaths per 100,000 population: 10.6

Are you feeling more secure now?  Do you even want to leave the house?  It appears that life in these United States is a real crap shoot.  Roll the dice and hope for the best every time you leave the house.

I admit I’ve depressed myself with this posting so I’ll keep this last item short. On this day in history many people have passed on. Here are two that died on this day that I thought might interest you.

babe-ruth

1948 Babe Ruth, Baseball legend (NY Yankees), dies in NY at 53

elvis-presley

1977 Elvis Presley, American musician, dies at Graceland at 42. Official cause of death is cardiac arrhythmia

I THINK I’LL GO BACK TO BED

08-14-2016 Journal – My Almost Friend!   Leave a comment

th40UGZYTQ

Mother Nature is normally not my friend.

We celebrated yesterday because it finally rained.  Not like the dozen or so sprinkles we’ve received in recent weeks but an honest-to-god rain shower.  The rain cooled things off overnight but ten minutes after the sun came out this morning the temperature zoomed back to 90 degrees.

I should be happy . . right?   Not very.  We need a good five or six days of rain just to get the water levels back where they belong.  Early this morning at 5am both my better-half and I were awaken by the sounds of tree branches cracking. Just outside our bedroom window a rather large tree branch snapped and barely missing the house.  This portion of the tree was obviously dead and we knew it was only a matter of time before it fell.  I once attempted to climb the tree with a chain saw to cut it down but it was just too dangerous.

DSCN0515

The house is just a few feet to the right of the photograph.

How it missed the house is a mystery but thank god it did. That’s the second time in the last year a tree has fallen close to the house and missed it completely.  We must have a guardian angel keeping an eye on things.

DSCN0514

Mother Nature isn’t usually this kind.  I remember a time in Massachusetts that we had a storm that dropped a 100 foot tall oak tree onto our backyard and took the corner of my house with it.  At the same time a giant pine tree fell on my car in the driveway and crushed it completely.  I count my blessings any time she chooses to leave me alone. Today was one of those days.

MOTHER NATURE IS NOT NICE

08-12-2016 Journal – #/*#! Politics!   Leave a comment

thQQFH5AW8I’ve been doing everything in my power to disassociate myself from politics during this presidential election year.  I’ve been keeping my opinions to myself except for a few comments to my better-half.  If the truth be told, I have little or no use for any political party at this point.  I’ve morphed from being an social moderate, fiscal conservative Independent to an “Anyone But Hillary” Libertarian.  Actually all of those labels are mostly BS anyway but everyone insists that everyone else have a label. If our forefathers could see us now they’d be sad, disappointed, and most certainly ashamed of what we’ve become and are still becoming.

thVZ6V3NYP

With that thought in mind why don’t you sit back and read some of the thoughts of the men who helped create this country. Take those thoughts from our forefathers and match them up to any of the antics of either the Bushes or Clintons.  If your an intelligent and thoughtful American you should be able to figure things out before pulling the lever for Hillary.

  • “A government of laws, and not of men.”  JOHN ADAMS 1774
  • “If the government is in the hands of a few, they will tyrannize the many, if in the hands of the many, they will tyrannize over the few.” ALEXANDER HAMILTON 1787
  • “A wise and frugal Government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” THOMAS JEFFERSON 1801
  • “The aggregate happiness of the society, which is best promoted by the practice of a virtuous policy, is, or ought to be, the end of all government.” GEORGE WASHINGTON 1790

thIEPENR4Z

Do  those statement in anyway describe our current political situation?  That would be a big “HELL NO”.  Lets take a moment to discuss with our forefathers the matter of government corruption.

  • “Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power.” BENJAMIN FRANKLIN 1738
  • “Few men have enough virtue to withstand the highest bidder.” GEORGE WASHINGTON 1799
  • “Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct.” THOMAS JEFFERSON 1821
  • “Where the private interests of a member of Congress are concerned in a bill of question, he is to withdraw.” THOMAS JEFFERSON 1801

I think they’ve made my point for me.  I’ll drop in one last quote from the most infamous of all politicians that perfectly describes many of out current representatives, senators, and Big Businesses.

  • “I recognize no moral law in politics. Politics is a game, in which every sort of trick is permissible, and in which the rules are constantly being changed by the players to suit themselves.” ADOLF HITLER  Mein Kampf 1924

I realize that my opinion means very little in the grand scheme of things but here it is anyway. Hillary Clinton is the epitome of what’s wrong with our government. Donald Trump may be brash, loud, and combative but he’s a better choice than anyone else I see.  We’ve had eight years of Liberal nonsense with Obama and Hillary  will be more of the same.  Trump will be a breath of fresh air in the halls of Congress that currently smells a lot like a hot and humid day in an outhouse.

th1AAVPDZT

VOTE TRUMP!

08-10-2016 Journal – Garden Frustrations!   Leave a comment

As you all know I love gardening.  That doesn’t change the fact that at times it’s as  frustrating as hell.  Last year my garden problems concerned a number of God’s annoying little critters that insisted on attacking my garden.  Since I’m a problem solver I installed a fence around certain portions of the garden that they like to eat. Problem solved, right? No way.  The following photos were some of the items harvested so far this year in spite of the critters.

DSCN0463

The culprit from last years fiasco has since disappeared and we haven’t had one of his nightly visits this year. Unfortunately he has friends that were apparently given detailed directions to find us. This year for the first time in eight years we were visited by a big fat groundhog.  He was sitting right in the middle of the yard watching the house when I spotted him the first time.  He ran into a culvert to hide and I immediately dropped a couple of fire crackers in after him.  If it didn’t scare him, it certainly deafened him.  Problem solved, right! Not hardly.

DSCN0483

A week later he was back sitting in the same spot and it appeared he may have been taunting me a little. I couldn’t see all that clearly but I think he might have been giving me the finger as well.  It was time for the big guns.  With my handy pistol in hand I gave chase and took a shot at him. He was one helluva lot faster than he looked and escaped with his life.  Problem solved, Right!   No effing way.

DSCN0512

A few day later I discovered that someone had been eating my kale plants that were of course, not inside the damn fence.  It’s man against the critters once again.  I’ve never won any battles against them before but maybe this time I’ll have more luck.

THERE ARE TIMES WHEN I HATE MOTHER NATURE

08-08-2016 Journal – August in Maine!   Leave a comment

I have to say that the last week of weather has been as good as it can get for Maine in August.  Temperatures during the day have been in the mid-80’s and dropping into the mid-50’s at night. Just perfect.  Since it’s been so nice we decided to take our visitors for a day trip to Portland.  A hot and sunny Sunday in August means lots of tourist and thousands of people to watch.  Finding parking is usually a problem but we got lucky, parked the car, and headed down Commercial Street into the Old Port.

DSCN0490

Commercial Street runs right along the length of the harbor and always has some nice shots available of the boats.

DSCN0489

The ladies were in and out of a dozen shops and buying, buying, and buying. I spent most of that time people watching and taking a few pictures for future use.

DSCN0496

DSCN0493

We returned home tired and hungry and began the preparation of our dinner. Shish-kabobs, salads, pies, cakes, and a growler full of Goat Island Light beer. Since it was my birthday my better-half bought me the only beer I like. and it was wonderful.  After dinner we made our way to the beach located in Scarborough, Maine. A cool breeze was blowing and the water was perfect for wading and relaxing.

DSCN0499

DSCN0505

The clouds just kept getting darker and darker but it never rained.

It didn’t take long to tire us all out and we returned home to relax for the rest of the night.  Another great day and an even better birthday.

 

 

 

08-06-2016 Journal Entry – The 2016 Squirrel Wars!   Leave a comment

th49DC9NIH

I’m a little late in posting today due in part to visiting family from Maryland.  All of us have been kept rather busy for a few days which makes posting this blog more difficult.  Things remain much of the same around here. I take care of the garden, cut what grass that hasn’t been burned away by the heat and lack of rain, and of course . . . PRAY FOR RAIN.

I’m also in the midst of a battle with a community of squirrels (both gray and red) that have a special love for our house and our bird feeders.  A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in our second floor living room doing some work on my laptop. The living room is directly adjacent to a porch that leads onto a second story deck.  I had the door to the deck open so the stupid cat could lounge around outside which in hindsight was my first big mistake.

thJKUJQPEC

I was completely focused on the computer  but  noticed some movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked up and sitting in the middle of the living room was a red squirrel calmly watching me.  Apparently a string of loud curse words are the perfect squirrel repellent I’ve been looking for.  He made a dash for the door and onto the deck and dove straight into the nearby trees.  Where was my ferocious cat?  He was asleep on the chair not three feet from the damn squirrel. He barely blinked an eye as I was screaming at it.  He’ll pay for his total lack of interest in the very near future.

thA5U40T9Q

The very next day I heard a noise on the porch and that same little red squirrel was in the process of chewing through a bag of bird seed. Again he escaped but just barely.  He sat in a nearby tree chittering at me until I shot him in the ass with a B-B gun.  I hate killing them but I will certainly take every opportunity to give him a bruise or two with that B-B gun.

Soooooooo! Today I was once again alone in the house working in the living room. I was really concentrating on my project and jumped nearly three feet in the air due to a loud crash on the porch. I ran over to investigate and found a big fat gray squirrel sitting next to an overturned container of bird seed. He saw me and very calmly walked out onto the deck and split.  I may be a little slow on the uptake but I’m reasonably certain the word is out in the squirrel community that I have food on my porch.

th5N062IUR

Tomorrow I will begin taking steps to address these issues but I’m not optimistic.  I’ve been involved in two other squirrel wars at other places I’ve lived and sadly lost them both.

I’M  HOPING FOR THE BEST AND EXPECTING THE WORST