Saturday, May 31, 2014

Haste makes waste or don't touch up your toe nail polish while you're peeing

The Duke of Earl and I have a standing date every Thursday.
We go out to dinner.
Someplace in the $$ range...Ruta's, Islands, Lazy Dog...
These outings do not require anything fancy in the way of grooming, 
but eating out is still special to me, so I always change my clothes 
and fluff up my hair.

While sprucing up for last night's date, I noticed that my toe nail polish was less than perfect--a little chipped on the big toe tips.  
As I was running a little late, the brilliant idea comes to me to multi-task.
I thought adding a little red touch-up polish to the toes while peeing would be a real time saver!

There has to be some advantage to peeing while seated, right?

I gave the polish pot a shake, loaded the brush, and bent forward.
I moved the beautiful red nail enamel from the brush and onto my right toe nail.
I'm feeling so efficient!
But then mid-task, Houston-we-have-a-problem.
I see a reservoir of red filling the channel between my toe nail
 and the toe itself.
A lot of polish.
Way too much polish.

I finish my business and begin to correct the cosmetic problem.
I decide that I need to c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y remove the excess puddle of glamour
using a Q-tip...stripped of most of its cushioned tip, for a more accurate
clean up.  This doesn't work.
The red gloss smears.  Oh, dear.

I grab the polish remover and, with another altered Q-tip, dripped in the polish remover this time, run it along the overspreading mess.
The Q-tip acts like a wick, sucking more polish out of its trough and adding to the staining mess.

I am now 15 minutes late for my date.
My toe looks like I was finger painting and missed the paper.

I continue swabbing with polish remover until there is but a blush of color on the skin.

O.K. 20 minutes late.

I don't want to leave the acetone on my skin, but I can't wash my feet because the thick top layer of polish won't be dry for days.
I soak another Q-tip with water and wipe the skin around the nail, to at least dilute the chemicals.

It's now
25 minutes past the attempt to save time.

I'm almost ready to go---
I just need to pee first.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

It's boysenberry picking time in the garden

I see that I've got your attention.

Yesterday, I picked the first of the season boysenberries from our garden and made this ↑ pie.

Here's what's left of it this morning.

We planted our boysenberry vines 35 years ago or so and have enjoyed the sweet tart berries ever since.

You can see how the trailing vines spread. This is one of the reasons boysenberries are not a popular commercial crop.  It is difficult to manage all this wild, thorny growth.  The berries have a thin skin causing the mature fruit to leak juice at the anything other than the slightest caress.
Add a short season to the list and it makes for a fruit that you won't find fresh in the grocery store.

From the mid-1930's to the early 1960's, the raspberry, blackberry, dewberry, and loganberry cross was grown in Southern California commercially.  Walter Knott, a berry expert before becoming an amusement park champion, was the first to cultivate boysenberries for market.

Wearing gloves is a good idea when picking boysenberries to protect against the thorns and juice stains.
Using a grass rake is also helpful, when picking, to lift the rambling vines
up.  There are always berries hidden under the first tier of creeping canes. And then more under the second tier and so on.
I wedge the head of the rake under the vine I want to lift, and then anchor the handle into the ground.  
Berries are more firm and come off more readily at night or early in the day.

I developed my own recipe for boysenberry turnovers, pies, and tarts.
When our children were all young, I would make turnovers from most of the berries, as a way of stretching the fruit.  This recipe is good for turnovers and tarts, as it thickens up the juices, so there isn't as much run-off in the baking and eating.

Rinse berries.
For turnovers:
Make pastry. Roll it out slightly thicker than for pies, to help reduce juice leakage.  Cut pie pastry into 7" circles.  I use an inverted bowl as a guide.

To 4 - 5 cups of berries gently fold in a mixture of
3/4 - 1 cup sugar,
(depending on the sweetness of your berries)
1/3 cup flour, and
2 - 3 tablespoons cornstarch
Sprinkle in Cinnamon to taste

Paint the edge of the circle of pastry with milk.  Put about a 1/4 cup of the berry mix in the center of the circle, and fold the dough over the fruit.  The milk on the edge helps to seal the fruit and filling inside.  Seal around the edge, pressing down gently with fork tines. 
Brush the top of the turnovers with milk and sprinkle with sugar.
Line cookie sheets with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray to prevent the turnovers from sticking.
Bake in 425 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

I get 8 turnovers from a recipe using 2 cups of flour for the pastry.
I get 12 turnovers from 4 cups of boysenberries.
(There's a math problem for you.)
I usually have some leakage, but it does not affect the taste.
Baked turnovers freeze very well.

For pies, using less flour and cornstarch will result in a more syrupy filling.
I used the turnover amounts yesterday and you can see the filling is more stable.  The taste is same, so it's a matter of what texture you like.
Dot the fruit with butter after it is resting on the bottom crust in the pie pan.
Roll on the top crust.  Pierce the top crust several times to let steam escape.
And add a collar of foil to prevent the edge from burning.

I like to give the top crust a wash of milk and a light sprinkle of sugar.
This produces a beautiful crust with a delicate crunch.
My mother used to tell me using milk and sugar on top of a pie crust was "cheating".  She thought the "golden brown" should come strictly from the baking, without any milky sugar help.
I never understood her reasoning on this.
I "cheat" on all my fruit pie crusts!
I bake until I see the boysenberry mixture bubbling out of the top vents.
This is about 35 - 40 minutes at 425 degrees.

If you don't have fresh boysenberries, frozen berries are a good substitute.

The next 4 cups of berries I pick will be baked in a cobbler.
I will also freeze some berries for use later in the year before their brief season comes to an end. 
Hey, I just remembered there are turnovers in the freezer from last year.
How did that happen?

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Sunday, May 25, 2014

that's my drink. i'm a frog. bingo!

posted by jennifer:

because it is memorial day weekend, and because summer is right around the corner, and seeing as it is the season to entertain... i thought i would share some drink marker ideas i have come up with. 

one of them i love, love, loved the most, until i had a eureka moment with the second.  the second are my new love, but they are both worthy.

the first are markers that are made by attaching a name tag on a bamboo knotted pick.  the picks  i used are 4 inches long.  all i did was cut small pieces of card stock, added a rivet, and then attached the name tag to the pick with a piece of heavy weight embroidery floss.  you can then skewer it through a piece of fruit or other garnish on your glass:  
  -a lime wedge on a margarita
  -a lemon wedge and sprig of mint on a glass of iced tea
  -a orange slice and cherry on a mai tai or fruit punch
  -a small slice of pineapple and a cherry on a pina colada

my new loves however, are markers made using loteria cards.   that is, bingo cards from mexico.  all i did was cut one of the cards so i had several small pieces...that way each guest could pick if they are:
  el borracho (the drunk)
  la pera (the pear)
  el venado (the deer)
  la sirena (the mermaid)
fun, and they so colorful and unique methinks.

these i have used on the bamboo picks as i did with the card stock name tags.... and also i have tied them to the stem of a wine glass.   

another idea.... which i know is old news.. but is good... i froze about an inch of water, along with a slice of lemon and a bit of mint in the bottom of a mason jar.  this works well for iced tea.   you could also freeze a slice of lime in the water.. or a sprig of thyme... a edible flower (lavender, nasturtium, pansy to name a few)...  you can make the drinks you serve as festive and as beautiful as your gathering.

happy summer....(almost)


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Peeking through a key hole

We have inched our way a little closer to finishing a kitchen/buttery update, which began in October, 2013.
At the end of these two adjoining rooms is our back door, which opens to the tomatoes.

Years ago a neighbor put an eight-window-pane door in his trash and I had the Duke of Earl pull it out to be upcycled for our back door.  It took considerable patience and skill to rework the "free" door, but it was a splendid addition to our house when it was finally swinging in place.

Au contraire, it has had the same door knob since it begun gracing our doorway some 20 years ago.  And it was looking rather shabby...and not shabby chic either.

I wanted a new door knob!

The Duke objected, based solely on the fact, that he didn't want to buy a new "Made in China" piece of deficiency.
Practicing good lets-use-this-as-an-opportunity-to-strengthen-the-marriage skills, we talked about it.

From this conversation, it came to light that he had stored, in his new "old stock", an old mortise lock set.  He had purchased it himself, right off the shelf, at our local hardware store in 1970.  The original box has the trusty price tag of $5.95.  Remember the days before bar codes?

There were 2 issues with using this old entrance lock set.  
#1 it uses a skeleton key
#2 it required that a pocket be cut into the door into which the lock would be fitted.

Security was the first discussion.  We decided that our backyard is secure enough to allow a skeleton key wielding old lock set on the door.  Plus I figured that the door has 8 panes of glass, so it is not going to keep someone one, who is bent on entering, anyway.
(I wonder what our insurance agent would think of such a door and lock?)

The Duke was confident in his ability to install the mortise lock.
(Wikipedia states that, "The installation of a mortise lock cannot generally be undertaken by the average homeowner since it is labor intensive and requires a working knowledge of basic woodworking tools and methods.")  I'm glad that the Duke of Earl is above average.

Here's the Duke using a Sawall to do the delicate job of cutting the pocket into the door.  I don't think this is the type of woodworking tool Wikipedia was talking about.

Ah, here's the fine wood working part...via hammer and chisel.

The mortise lock set came with brass knobs, but would accept many different styles of knobs.  I had a few to choose from.  (There are some advantages to having a man cave jam packed with old stuff.)  I love glass anything, so went with the glass knobs.

Here's the new "old" door knob fully installed.

What do you think?
I love it.  I love the way the new glass knob feels in my hand and in my home.  The outside knob has a slight yellowish tint to it.  The inside knob is clear.  Perhaps it will purple with more exposure to the sunlight.  

One thing I did not anticipate was the key hole.  You can see right through it!
I eased this drawback by sticking the skeleton key into the key hole, closing most of the open space.

Now to finish the base boards.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Friday, May 23, 2014

the case for crows. or why i love feathered apes

posted by jennifer:

at a dinner party last week....
  dinner party, that sounds very outdated.  and does not sound natural coming from my mouth.... or fingertips as the case may be.

while having dinner with friends last week, one of the women there was sharing her dislike of crows.  namely the ones that are always fouling up her solar powered bird bath.  and by the way, how does a solar powered bird bath work?  yeah,  i know it is powered by the sun, but why would your bird bath need power?  i should have asked her.  but at that point i was distracted by thinking of what to say to her in defense of the crows.

i know that she is not alone in her feelings.  but really, what do you expect when the group name of crows is murder.   a murder of crows.   hmmm.  i wonder what the crows would have to say about that?    and what about in a movie.  when you hear a crow calling you just know that it is not going to be all sunshine and rainbows in the next scene.

but really, they are amazing creatures.  

did you know that when a crow dies or is killed, all the crows in the area will fly to a tree together. they will have a few minutes of silence.  and then they will silently fly away from the tree at the same time? a kind of crow wake.   how cool is that?

and crows can remember faces.  and they teach their young to be on alert for those people who pose a threat to them.  not all people.  just the ones who the adult crows have been threatened by.  

crows can make and use tools.  the only other animals known to make tools are ape and humans.  hence the name feathered apes or primates.

crows have a very strong family unit.  the fledglings will stay with their parents for up to five years.   and the extended family sometimes helps out in the unit.

i heard a very neat thing from another woman at the dinner i was at.  she was telling us about an article she had read in sun magazine years back.  i couldn't find the article to read it myself, but the gist of it is:
  a couple of men were out hiking.  they saw an owl being heckled by some crows. (owls and 
  crows as well as hawks and crows don't really jive.   they are as was quoted to me "mortal
  enemies")  anyway, the crows won this battle apparently because when the hikers came to 
  a canyon,  they came upon the crows gathering small rocks, feathers, sticks and such, they
  were laying them in front of the dead owl.  i mean i guess it is a little sad.  i do like owls, but 
  crows are killed by owls as well.  and i am guessing the owls don't build a shrine.

and i guess i also have a soft spot in my heart for crows because when growing up, we helped raise two fledgling crows.  young crows that were on their own.....

 and by the way, i love that my mom was always okay with us bringing home birds to raise.  poor little things that had fallen out of a nest or some such bad fortune.   i mean she always seem okay with it outwardly.  i am sure that when we came home with a bird with no feathers... with eyes sealed shut... she must have groaned loudly inside.  but i really never remember her telling us to take that thing outside.  instead it was helping us make our special bird food.  bread softened with milk.  and helping us find the tweezers to feed the pathetic things.

but the crows.  they lived with us.  hop-a-long.... who wait for it... had a bad leg.  and blue eyes.  guess what color his eyes were?   no, not brown.   blue!   even after they were old enough to be on their own, they would come back to visit us.   blue eyes would caw for food by the back door.  well after the time he was already gathering his own food.  and we saw hop-a-long at the park for months and months after he was out on his own.  we always recognized him with his curled up foot.  
i guess that is the real reason i smile when i see crows in the yard.  and this year the crows beat out the hawks for rights at our oak tree for nesting.  i get to watch daily as they try to make it in a world where they are being scolded for  trying to clean their food  before they eat it..... especially if their sink is a solar powered bird bath.

here's to the crows.


Sunday, May 18, 2014

i've got 99 worries and a bitch ain't one

posted by jennifer:

99.   will the above ground pool burst and flood the neighbors?
98.   is that dry spot on my nose early skin cancer?
97.   will using the word bitch in the title of this post offend someone?
96.   should i have kept those reef flip flops instead of sending them back?
95.   is my evening margarita cocktail causing my recent weight gain?
94.   are those bug bites or a rash?
93.   do i have enough clothes for summer?  because after that last heat wave it doesn't seem 
92.   did i remember to lock up the chickens for the night?
91.   did the kids brush and floss?
90.   is smart rinse bad for the kids?
89.   should i be having the kids do more chores?
88.   did i give the kids their allowance last month?
87.    is my extreme fatigue a side effect of some serious condition?
86.   does my breath stink?
85.   are the tires overdue for a rotation?
84.   should i get a spare key made for the car?
83.   will i ever find time to work on my etsy shop?
82.   do i turn left or right?
81.   am i going to be late for pick-up?
80.   are these apples going to be mealy?
79.   is this chicken really, really free range?
78.   did the checker give me my milk bottle deposit back?
77.    am i going to be able to use this broccoli before it yellows?
76.    should i buy non-0rganic onions since they don't have any organic onions in stock?
75.    is that normal?
74.    will my apple tree survive being transplanted?
73.    will the gophers get through this wire mesh?
72.    will this drought end soon?
71.    when do i need to have the paperwork in for girl scout camp?
70.    did i already pay for camp in full?
69.    when are the kids due for their dental appointments?
68.    what country are the tdap vaccines manufactured in?
67.    how much longer before i need to buy more lay crumble for the chickens?
66.    am i going to get any tomatoes from my garden this year?
65.    did i plant too many tomatoes this year?
64.    where is my bathing suit bottom?  did i leave it at the hotel?
63.    are there remains of any buried pets in this spot of yard?  is it safe to dig here?
62.    where did that needle drop?
61.    did i get all the pieces of broken glass picked up?
60.    is it a sinus infection or just allergies?
59.    is there anything in my teeth?
58.    did i give emma her lunch money?
57.    are we almost out of milk?
56.    is there enough milk for my morning tea at least?
55.    has the laundry in the washing machine sat so long it is starting to stink?
54.    did i leave the water running?
53.    did i turn the oven off?
52.    is this a heart attack or just gas?
51.    am i going to have to stop drinking coffee because of this heartburn?
50.    what is more important?   shade grown coffee or fair trade?
49.    why doesn't target label what country market pantry items are made in?
48.    where is my sugar from?
47.    am i part of  problem when i watch the kardashians?
46.    is khloe doing okay?
45.    should i have sent thank you notes for maya's birthday gifts?
44.    where are those library books?
43.    how much can you owe in library fines and still be able to check books out?
42.    should i change trash disposal companies?
41.    should i change our cable service to direct tv?
40.   would it be better to just get rid of the tv?
39.   am i almost out of tampons?
38.   when will i go through menopause?
37.   do i need to wash this new shirt before i wear it for the first time?
36.   are the other harry potter movies appropriate for emma?
35.   do i get enough iodine in my diet?
34.   am i charging too much for my totes?
33.   am i shortchanging myself on my totes?
32.   is my cast iron griddle ruined?
31.   is cooking spray slowly giving us cancer?
30.   why am i having such a hard time finding aluminum free baking powder?
29.   how is it possible that the fda is so corrupt?
28.   are the rollie pollies going to eat my seedlings tonight?
27.    how safe is this sluggo plus anyway?
26.    is the venus flytrap getting enough to eat?
25.    is it bad that i crave onion rings 3x  a week?
24.   are alexia frozen onion rings really all natural?
23.   will the smell of onion rings cooking at 9:30 p.m. attract any kids already in bed?
22.   are my computer passwords secure?
21.    should we put handrails up in the front yard?
20.   should i have hidden my emerging gray?
19.   what kind of hairstyle am i going to have in 30 years.... when i am 73 years old?
18.    am i supposed to be doing self breast exams?
17.    is the amount of pee i leak when i sneeze going to get greater as i age?
16.    is this normal?
15.    are these cut off yoga pants baggy in the rear?
14.    will i ever be passionate about yoga again?
13.    will we ever get the kitchen floor done?
12.    are those asbestos tiles on the kitchen floor?
11.    it is strange that i painted that paint sample on the kitchen wall a year ago and nothing
         more has been done?
10.    is a stove hood vent really necessary?
9.      will ryan have another bad reaction to a bee sting?
8.      am i too outspoken?
7.      am i not outspoken enough?
6.      how long has that chicken broth in the refrigerator been open?
5.      is it too hot to make soup for dinner?
4.      will this surge protector protect the refrigerator during a power failure?
3.      do we have batteries for the headlamps?
2.      do i look like a total dork in this headlamp?
1.      will i ever be ready to own another dog?  because right now dog sitting for a couple of
         days scratches any itch on that front.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

okay, so it may not be 100% practical, but it is pretty awesome

posted by jennifer:

the other day i overheard a couple talking.   they were on a walk, and had stopped in front of our house to look at my oh so chic wine bottle border.  the conversation went somewhat like this:

her:  "i love that.  what a great idea."

him: "yeah, until you weed wack near it and the bottles break."

ugh!  men can be so annoyingly practical sometimes.

i decided to start saving wine bottles a few years back.  i initially thought it would be cool to make one of those great houses... think small...  tool shed/art room.  you know the ones where the bottles are inserted into the walls so from the outside you just see the bottom of the bottle... all the light coming through those circles of glass.    however, i knew that that project would be nowhere near the top of the to do list... i am practical sometimes, no?  but i did want to use the bottles for something.

enter the wine bottle garden border.

we tend to have gopher problems in our neck of the woods.   therefore, i am always trying to make raised beds... that i can line with hardware cloth... or some other hard material that can't easily be chewed through.  i thought that building up the ground a bit, and holding back the dirt could be done by wine bottles.  and i was right! i love the way it looks, it is free and i feel good about the three r's:  reduce, reuse, recycle.

i have had a couple of comments from people about the amount of wine that was consumed to make the said borders.  i have them throughout the yard...   but that is the thing with wearing things on your sleeve.
  i don't go through life hiding my whiskey bottles at the bottom of the trash can, so i am a target for these comments from judgy people.  but that's okay.  and anyway, you will also find many green,  square bottles....olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  the big ol' hard core bottles that will set you back a few bucks.  which just goes to show that wine is just a part of my healthy mediterranean diet.  

but in all fairness to the husband mentioned above.... you should be careful.  because a weed wacker will send shards of glass flying. 

( i no longer have my husband weed wack in the garden.)


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

My life with fairies

On a recent trail walk, light streamed through the oaks, sycamores, and California peppers at just the right slant to put me in mind of fairies.  My thoughts of the resplendent creatures drifted along on birdsong as I walked...well, at least until a blur of spandex clipped rudely through my personal space...

Do you have fairies at the bottom of your garden?
If fairyland is a place of beauty, tranquility, and magical charm, I most definitely have fairies at the bottom of mine.

My connection with fairy lore came by way of an English war bride.
Born in England in 1923, my mother probably grew up looking for woodland fairy rings and hearing stories of the Cottingley fairies.  

Image Wikipedia

Image Wikipedia

In 1917, without the benefit of photoshop, 2 young cousins pulled the wool over the eyes of some adults, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle among them, with 5 photographs they took of alleged fairies. They photographed the fairies near the beck (river) close to their home.  The Cottingley fairies were talked about, written about, and the photographs were scrutinized for years.
It wasn't until more than 60 years after they artistically created the fairies, that Elsie and Frances admitted that the photographs were fakes.

Narratives about fairies and fairy rings were passed to me from my mum, along with the lore of "little people", who were responsible for taking missing items.
Mom's tales of fairies were bolstered by a large format book, which I received from my cousins in England for my second Christmas.   Beautifully illustrated, by the Swedish fairy artist, Ana Mae Seagreen, the 14" x 18" book remains a prized possession of mine.  (I bet you weren't aware that "fairy artist" is a category of painters.  I wasn't until today.)

Here I am in 1956 in fairy attire for Halloween.  My wings don't show up too well, but you get the idea.  The harness, for said wings, was made with a bit of silver Christmas tree tinsel garland, which also trimmed the edge of the wings.  I think my crown was fashioned after the fairy Queen in the above illustration.   My sister doesn't look too pleased that I am attempting to turn her into a carriage.
 Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo
I must have been a combo fairy Godmother-fairy Queen.

Fast forward about 58 years from this Halloween, when I masqueraded as a fairy, and here's my vrbo rental house for fairies that might visit my garden.
The house is tiny, perhaps too small for a fairy.  But I guess their size is 
defined only by my imagination.  

Anyone can create their own fairy garden, and be transported to a  place of happy thoughts.  Fairies dance and play everyday, when we welcome them into our flights of fancy.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol

Sunday, May 11, 2014

a bend in the pinky finger.... on becoming your mother

-posted by jennifer:

while looking at pictures recently, i found one that made me think of my mom.  of all of the ways that i am like my mom.   of all of the traits we share.  both physical and personality characteristics.

of course, traditionally, when these glimpses appear the whole thing is met with groans, and is the butt of many jokes.  "ugh!   i am becoming my mom!"  and i think  if we are being totally honest it is not the idea of becoming our mother (or father.... for my audience members with members!  haha!)  but more that we are suddenly aware that we are not ageless.  

i thought i would share some memories of when i saw my metamorphosis in action:

the inspiration for this post.  this picture.  did you think it was going to be of something more profound.    just a picture of a hand....
side note:  the ring i am wearing was made by designer maya.   
but when i saw this picture of my hand, i saw my mom's hand.  lovely isn't it?  the slight bend in the pinky?  i never had really noticed we shared this until i saw this photograph and saw my mom's hand in mine.

the earliest memory i have of this, is hearing my mom's voice on the answering machine.  i was across the house, and heard it.  and i started tripping out because i thought i was hearing my own voice.  
for years prior people had said how much we sound alike but i just didn't get it.  in fact, once, a woman called our house (when i was still living at home)  and started to talk to me like she thought i was my mom.  if i was a trouble child i could have used this to my advantage.  but of course, jennifer the wonderful would never do that.

growing up, i was always so bothered with the fact that  my mom didn't chew gum,  eat candy (other than chocolate), or drink coke (i think i saw her drink soda 3 times... give or take) 
it just didn't make sense to me.... i mean she was the mom.  she didn't even need to ask.  she had the world at her fingertips..  she could drink as much coke as she wanted.  it was always a treat at our house... all the more reason to binge!   but she almost always declined.  it never made sense to me.  and i laugh when i think of how much thought i put into all of this.  but now, when i say no to soda, gum (i do occasionally like a long as it is not sugar free.  i hate aspartame!), or gummy worms, i smile inwardly.  mostly at the looks of confusion on my children's faces.  they just don't get it.... someday they will.  but you just have to get there.  there is no explanation that makes sense in this instance.
but like my mother i love chocolate.  and like her, it is best late in the evening... before bed with tea or wine.

and of course there is the mirror. 
 mostly when catching a glimpse of myself when walking by a mirror... or the mirror on the sunshade in the car.  i will see at first my mom... and then myself.  and it is a lovely thing.  because she is a beautiful woman.  she is a good person.  she is a bit crazy.  and i couldn't be happier that i am becoming my mother.

happy mother's day!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Easing gas pains

As I was recently held captive in line at Costco to pump $4.30 a gallon gasoline into my car, I began thinking of some of the more memorable times when I have bought gas in the past 50 years.

My first experience of buying gas was for my high school best friend's '56 Chevy.  In 1964, "gas wars" were not uncommon.  One gas station would lower their price, and then another would go lower, and another still lower all around the town.
It was during one of these "gas wars" that gas got down to 19¢ a gallon.
That in itself is a story, but how we paid for it is equally improbable.

Both, Bobbi and I, were from middle class families.  We were still in high school, and relied on $1.25 an hour, 4 - 8 hours a week, wages from The Broadway.  We didn't have much money, to say the least.

To supplement our "gas fund", we would go through magazines and cut out the manufacturer's coupons.  We would take the clipped coupons to the grocery store and skipping the middle part, of actually buying the product, would "cash" them in.  Yes, they would actually give us the cash value of the coupons in money.
We did this for months, maybe even a year or so, before someone put a stop to it.
Those toothpaste coupons did brighten our smiles, and bought us enough gas to cruise Whittier Blvd. on many an evening.

In 1970 in our new Ford van, The Duke of Earl and I went on a 3 week, 7,000 mile road trip.  Our first child wasn't walking yet.
We pumped fuel into the gas tank in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon.  By the time we were back in California, we had very little cash left.  We had no credit cards.  We had our check book and money in the bank, but no one would cash an out of town check.  This was in the time before ATM's or debt cards.  If you ran out of money, well, you were out of money until you could get to your bank, during business hours at that.

To get home,
we drove from San Francisco going 45 mph to increase our gas mileage.  We arrived home with the gas gauge on empty and a nickel in our pockets.
The next time we were going out of town my dad gave us a gas credit card to use, if needed, so he could sleep at night while we were gone.

By 2000 we had credit cards and debt cards, but weren't too much smarter.

We often camped in the remote Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in Eastern Nevada.  The campsites along White River are primitive and 10 miles off the highway by way of a dirt road. The area is so isolated that we would see only an occasional car or person during our 2 week stay. 
We would drive into the nearest town, Ely, once or twice to buy ice, groceries, and gasoline while we were there.
The ghost town of Hamilton, Nevada is 40 miles from the campsite where we pitch our tent.  And on this particular trip to town, we decided to drive the loop that goes from Hwy 6 up to Hamilton and down to Hwy 50 into Ely and back to camp.  

The extensive ruins of Hamilton, the roadside and fields of wildflowers, the birds, deer, clouds and mountains normally made the jarring ruts and potholes along the dirt backroads a fun ride.

But this time a thunderbolt hit at 
 the point of no return, when I was told we were getting low on gas, as in "check gas gauge" low.  We were 18 miles from Hamilton where there was the greatest possibility of seeing another human being.  We were some 58 miles from Ely.
I comforted my anxiety knowing we had water and food with us.  I had my books.  
After bouncing along the rocky, steadily climbing road in nervous silence for 40 minutes, we came to a sign that read "Hamilton 5 miles".
Finally, Hamilton came into view, and with it, Will...a horse riding, chap wearing, real cowboy.  Duke inquired as to where the nearest gas station would be.
 Will told us where his ranch was located and where his gas pump was.  It was one of the kindest things a stranger has ever done for us.
Will, if you are reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Wouldn't you know, the gas gauge is on empty again.
I'm off to fill 'er up.

t.t.f.n. ~ Carol


Tuesday, May 6, 2014

eat dirt... gummy worm!

posted by jennifer:

a few weeks back i took my girls out to do some needed shopping.  i decided that to make an evening of it and take them out to dinner.   my oldest wanted to go to mimi's... mostly because of the dirt pudding on the kids menu.   this is how she convinced my youngest that we should go there.    i was pulling for chipotle.  

the cheese stands alone.

well, dirt pudding is no longer on the menu.  and i was unimpressed with my crepes.  and maya still hadn't experienced dirt you can eat.

until a couple weeks later when these appeared on our menu.  

here's how:
   chocolate pudding.   i must strongly suggest you make it from scratch.  it is easy, chances 
        are you have all the ingredients on hand, and it blows the competition out of the water.
        i don't remember the source of my recipe... but there are plenty out there to choose 
    after the pudding is ready, divide it up in your serving dishes, and allow to cool.  i
        happened to have these buffalo china mugs with a green rim.   doesn't it have a spring 
        grass feel?   

   after the pudding is cool, add a few gummy worms.   only three out of the five in our home
        had worms peeking out.  and for that matter, one was complete after the pudding was 
        cool.  this girl likes her pudding straight up.

  for the dirt i used chocolate sandwich cookies.  i scraped out the frosting (and much to my 
       children's horror) tossed it.  i just put them in a ziploc bag and then crushed them with
       a rolling pin.

  sprinkle the dirt on the pudding.   if you have a 5 year old around, i am fairly sure you can
       plan on having a helper.... with both the dirt and the worms.   

that's about it.  the dirt pudding was a hit.   mimi's can eat dirt... okay well that is a little strong, but what if it is chocolate dirt?  does that make it less harsh?  methinks it does. 

 and by the way,  next time mama is going to get her way with chipotle.