Monday, October 31, 2005
The lone bagpiper was playing in honor of the memory of a former resident of our town. I'd like to have the pipes played in my honor after I pass. I'd also like a New Orleans jazz band and to have my coffin driven around town by Clydesdale horses. This is feasible since know someone who raises Clydesdales and the carriage house here in town has custom carriages and a horse drawn hearse. The New Orleans jazz band might prove more difficult and expensive to obtain. Perhaps, I should only request two of the three. Pipes and jazz might clash, but how do you chose one over the other?
We are all ready for Halloween. We decorated for two days and I quite like the lightning and thunder effects we added this year. We buy candy and favors for 300 kids. That's a lot when you realize that there are probably only 30 - 35 kids in who actually live in town that are the age for trick or treating. Most of our tricksters come from neighboring towns and the local farms and countryside since we have a nice concentration of old houses and everyone gives good treats. I gather a lot of folks think these Victorian houses are sort of spooky. With what we spent on decorations, favors and candy, we could have spent the night in St. Augustine and had dinner at The Columbia. Next year, Flaurella gets the treats and a well deserved rest.
Anyway, we've also added high beam lighting (think Kleigs!) to the show the moss in the trees behind the house. Spanish moss looks good and spooky when lit up at night. I think I need a newer camera to be able to get a photo from any distance. Will plan to add more pix here.
There are dozens and dozens of little bats fluttering on our porch, jack-o'-lanterns, giant spiders crawling near the door and black cats in the windows. W4D even wired up a PA system with horrible sounds. You will need earplugs to even get close.
Friday, October 28, 2005
Once upon a midnight dreary
Click below to view a
Please don't email me about how lame
Thursday, October 27, 2005
He has also studies how many of the other two candidates letters have been tossed. Remember that the other two candidates sent folded flyers, not contained within sealed envelopes. W4D is smirking because one candidate's flyers are frequently ending up in the trash with the seal unbroken. Who knew that good old W4D had an analytical, sneaky side? I wonder from whom he inherited the political DNA?
Enough about small town government. Just in case you have been living in a cave this last week, click here to experience the exuberance of youth. These guys crack me up!
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
This is a good time of year for candles. I'm partial to vanilla or spice scented candles. It is also the perfect time of year for an Appletini. An apple martini is easy to make. Most recipes call for apple flavored vodka but I prefer vanilla vodka in my appletini's. Lately, I am on a Denaka kick. Denaka is a good Danish vodka that is reasonably priced and very smooth.
To make a Flaurella Appletini, use two parts vanilla vodka, one part sour apple schnapps and a splash of Rose's Sour Apple Cocktail Infusion. Shake ingredients over ice and strain into a martini glass. Add a slice of Granny Smith apple for nutritional purposes. Light a bunch of vanilla candles and think warm thoughts while your husband is out glad-handing and talking politics. Sip your appletini and enjoy the peace and quiet as you huddle near the candles for warmth. Arrange all kitchen candles in a semi-circle on the table and set your appletini in the middle. Admire the ambiance as the sun dips below the tree line. Note how pretty the candles are when shining through vodka. Hunt for more hurricane candles in the panty, err... pantry. Light and feel the warmth. Make another appletini. Slice more apple. Check the clock. Rummage through fridge for leftover chipotle dip. Scrounge through freezer for mini quiche appetizers. Sip, munch, huddle. Feel the glow. To hell with supper.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
W4D says he is surprised at how quickly people invite him inside their homes. He says when it was hot, everyone's house was freezing cold with AC and when it is cold like the last three days, everyone has the heat blasting and many people have colds. Since the Lubricator and I live in an 1885 house without central heat or air, we tend to deal with the seasonal temperatures by opening or closing windows and adding or taking off layers of clothing. We never get ill and I have always sworn it is because we live within our temperate environment. The Lube is now a believer. I almost didn't say, "I told you so."
I wanted to know about constituent footwear. What sort of footwear do people wear in these overly climate controlled houses? Do they have on cute shoes at home? Are they wearing slippers or socks or tennis shoes? Does anyone wear June Cleaver heels? W4D had to think about that question for a moment. He eventually declared he has never looked at his constituents' feet since he always looks them "right in the eye." :::rolling mine:::: I ask you, how can you spend time with someone and not notice their shoes? It must be a man thing.
I am tired of folding letters, stuffing envelopes, checking addresses and affixing stamps. The other two candidates sent their campaign letters as folds without envelopes but we are sending ours in plain vanilla envelopes. Yesterday, W4D asked me after I folded and stuffed his letters if I would lick all of his envelopes. Excuse me? Have you never heard of a sponge? I wonder how many peeps still lick envelopes? Not very sanitary. And, what a PITA it was to sponge seal all those envelopes. I sent the candidate to the office supply store today for pressure sensitive envelopes for the rest of the letters. Sheesh.
Did you know that you must have an info-blurb on the bottom of campaign letters that includes the stated approval of content by the candidate and the source of the funds that pays for the letter and postage? W4D's letter has been completed and printed for about two weeks. While we have already received the campaign letters from the other two esteemed candidates, I have just today mailed the first batch of The Lubricator's letter. I'll finish tonight and tomorrow all will be posted. The Lube thinks it will be best if his letter arrives as the last one while I tend to think it looks like he is slow to respond. Of course, that is not true. It's his campaign and I am just a bystander, his lowly gopher, his very own intern in a blue dress - err... in blue jeans.
Had it been me running for Town Council, I would have used brightly colored stationary, had gaudy, sparkling posters and loud lawn signs printed. I would have hosted a beer fest with an oompah band or maybe a wine and cheese party. I would have had a clever slogan and worn cute shoes. W4D is very low key, patient and steady. I am like a Roman candle that shoots off sparks, blazes across the sky and then burns out. He makes a good candidate. I make a fun intern.
Monday, October 24, 2005
Hurricane Wilma is and was well south of us. It was 59 degrees at 5:30 this morning, 57 degrees at 9:30AM. Looks like the cold front is sitting on top of us and protecting us. It's been windy with intermittent rain for 12 hours with a few feeder bands but nothing much worse. I am looking forward to a windy, cool day, and we're expecting a low of 42 tonight and a chilly 39 degrees tomorrow morning. This was the longest summer but even so, at least I didn't have to deal with three hurricanes like last year. The State of Florida is well -prepared for hurricanes of any magnitude. You will never see any New Orleans-like fiascos here. In a few weeks, you will not even be able to tell that we had this storm. In fact, Key West which got pummeled by Wilma, plans to go ahead with most of their world famous Fantasy Fest events over the next two weeks. The Conch Republic knows how to celebrate with gusto.
Our local Fall Festival went off as planned even with Hurricane Wilma waiting in the wings. In fact, it was miserable hot and humid. I guess I shouldn't complain since it didn't rain but it would have been great if the cooler weather had reached us just one day earlier.
We enjoyed old and new friends and had a great fall weekend with plenty of adult beverages, roasted oysters and lots of laughs. Our first guest was sort of a quiet fella. He didn't drink anything or talk to anyone.
By Sunday morning, there were a few empty bottles left sitting on our porch rails. Apparently, we have some quiet neighbors with very steady hands who guzzle beer after dark.
The sky is getting brighter, the wind is blowing hard and cold from the north and I see a glimpse of blue. Looks like I will have to change my shorts for jeans and socks and go close a few windows. Goodbye, summer!
Friday, October 21, 2005
There's plenty of food and adult beverages with a sundown dinner, then a raffle and music after dark.
The first course is always "Goobers," (boiled green peanuts) and corn on the cob. It sounds weird but it's good!
Dinner is BBQ pork and chicken and Brunswick stew, southern style green beans with lots of bacon and potatoes, cole slaw, and bread. You will note there is no salad or anything remotely resembling rabbit food. For desert, the ladies prepare a ton of sweets and deserts and wisely cut everything into small portions so that you can have a little taste of all sorts of treats.
The Whitehurst Ranch is a serene setting and I love to watch the sunset there.
Tonight is a another party night with our all best town friends and the Festival is tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing all of you who will be stopping by for a visit. After four straight days of parties, I may need to take another week off.
Hurricane Wilma, GO AWAY!
Do not come to Florida. You are already in Mexico. Just stay there. Please.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Grilled pork chop with grilled fresh pineapple, sweet and sour
red cabbage, boiled potatoes with garlic and chives.
To make boiled potatoes, select waxy potatoes, not baking potatoes. Peel or not, but scrub well if you don't peel. Cut into uniform chunks, not too small, about 2 inches is good. Add to warm, salted water, cover and bring potatoes to a boil. Turn down heat to low and cook until fork tender, not too soft. (If potatoes break apart when you fork them, you have overcooked them.) Drain water from pot and place back on stove over low heat to evaporate all traces of water. When potatoes are dry, add a few of pats of sweet cream butter to taste. A lot of butter makes them better but try and show some restraint. Add some minced fresh garlic. Please don't use that crappy garlic salt stuff. No wonder so many people think they don't like garlic. Garlic salt is bitter, too salty and tastes like chemicals. Buy a good garlic press and always use fresh garlic.
You've added unsalted butter and fresh garlic to your dry, boiled potatoes so now you must add some herbs. You can use your fave herbs. I prefer chives, parsley, or dill weed and often use a combination of two or three. The heat of the potatoes melts the butter and will release the flavor of the garlic and fresh herbs. I recommend fresh herbs but dried will work if that's all you have in the pantry. Gently stir after you add each ingredient being careful not to break the potatoes. They will crumble just enough for serving if you are gentle. Taste and add salt and pepper if you wish.
To make sweet and sour cabbage, crumble a couple slices of pre-cooked bacon and place in heated pan. (I cook off a pound of bacon at a time and keep it in the freezer in a zip lock.) Stir the bacon for a bit until it gives off a little bacon grease. Add a tablespoon or two of finely diced, sweet onion. Cook until transparent, about 1 - 2 minutes. Add thinly sliced, fresh red cabbage. Stir for a minute until the cabbage starts to wilt. Add a sprinkling of dark brown sugar and stir for another minute or two on medium high heat. Salt and pepper to taste. De-glaze pan with a couple of splashes of cider vinegar. Cook another 30 - 60 seconds and serve immediately.
Monday, October 17, 2005
Salmon topped with garlic and herbed Gulf shrimp, served with flat Italian green beans. Gulf shrimp are pink and almost always available here in Florida. For the most part, we eat healthily. So why is it that I can never lose any weight?
Friday, October 14, 2005
Here's how I make a super-charged Flaurella Lemon Drop Martini:
2 ounces Citron (or lemon flavored) Vodka
3/4 ounce orange flavored liqueur - try Cointreau or Triple Sec (for sweetness)
1/2 to 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice (for tartness)
Toonie shaker of ice cubes
Sugar (Superfine is best but not required) for rimming the glass
Slice of lemon to wet rim for sugaring
Twisted peel of lemon for garnish
Some folks like to add a teaspoon of sugar to the liquor blend but I think it is plenty sweet after the mixture flows over the sugared rim of the glass and into my eager gullet so be brave and try it my way first.
To create a sugar-rimmed glass, take a slice of lemon and run the edge of the glass so it is barely moist. I like to cut a little slit into the lemon and run it around the glass without squeezing the lemon wedge. (You can use the same lemon slice several times by cutting a fresh slit for each glass) Now, dip the damp edge of the glass into little heap of fine sugar on a saucer, spinning the glass as you touch the wet rim to the sugar, both inside and out. You should end up with a hard and solid edge of sugar about 1/16th to 1/8th inch deep on the rim of your martini glass.Mix your best lemon lemon vodka, your fave orange liquer, and the fresh lemon juice in a cocktail shaker full of ice; shake well for about 10 seconds. Pour strained cocktail into the sugar-rimmed martini glass and garnish with a twisted peel of lemon. Makes one giant-sized Flaurella Lemon Drop.
Just call me the Lemon Drop Kid. I plan to drink Lemon Drops every single day until it finally turns cool. Enjoy your weekend.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Man and beast had been down the block and back when I saw an immaculate, huge white sedan from the late 70's or early 1980's ease up beside DH and his charge. The tinted window on the driver's side eased down and a man who has lived here more years than I am old, whom I honestly thought had passed away some years ago, stuck his head out the window.
"Frank, you have my vote," said the former local politician.
"Thank you, sir," said The Lubricator.
"God help ya."
End of conversation. The head retreated, the tinted window rolled up and the land yacht sped away.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Beast thinks pizza box with "window" is cool.
Beastie refuses to leave pizza box.
And yes, he needs a bath. If you ate dinner in a pizza box, you would need a bath, too.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
What a wonderful abundance of produce available in the stores this month. I guess this long hot summer has been good for something. The growing season is still in high gear. Here's a few examples of what was in the produce section of the grocery this weekend for less than one dollar:
Fresh Corn on the Cob --- 4 ears/dollar
Fresh Green Beans -- $.99 per pound
Yellow or Green Summer Squash -- .99 per pound
Fall and Winter Squash -- .99 per pound
Red or White Grapes -- .99 pound
Small bags of assorted apples -- $.99
Ornamental gourds -- dollar a pound
Camouflaged Squash and Gourds
The buy of the weekend was 8 ripe California Haas avocados for 50 cents! We ate avocado salads all weekend long. With prices this good in retail stores, I bet the Farmer's Market and produce stores really had some bargains.
Eight Haas avocados for fifty cents!
Some people prefer the small California avocados to the large Florida varieties. Both are delicious if you catch them at the perfect point of ripeness but I think the Florida avocadoes have a nuttier and richer buttery flavor than the California fruits. Others may differ in opinion so I guess it depends upon what you grew up eating. We grow a lot of different kinds of avocadoes in Florida and the peak of the season has arrived. Check out this picture of all the nice Florida grown varieties.
Hass avocadoes fully ripe
There are at least 50 different varieties of Florida avocados. Varieties are classified as either summer, fall, or winter. The summer fruit has bright green, smooth, thin skin. The fall or winter varieties are also green but have thicker, rough textured skins. A single tropical Florida avocado can grow up to 5 pounds in weight. I've always been partial to the autumn avocadoes but I eat them all year long. Since we live in North Florida, I miss having avocado trees in my yard like we did in South Florida. Still, I wouldn't give up the change of seasons for avocado trees as long as they are abundant in the markets and I have friends upon whom I may impose to bring them up from down South.
Avocado is a welcome addition to any salad at my house. I like to cut it into chunks or slices, sprinkle it with lemon or lime juice and arrange it on a green salad with a dollop of mayonnaise or sour cream. Another great salad is made with a melon ball tool. Use the melon ball tool to make small round balls of the avocado and do the same with canteloupe. Mix both in a bowl with wee cherry or grape tomatoes and dress with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. It's one of my fave salads and the green avocado with the orange cantaloupe and red cherry tomatoes is beautiful served on colorful salad greens or in berry bowls. Of course, avocadoes are a natural when served with shrimp, crab or grapefruit salad. When you can't eat any more fresh fruit, you can make guacamole and when you can't eat any more of that, you can use it to moisturize your hair.
Monday, October 10, 2005
Yesterday afternoon was such a pretty day after what seems like weeks of rain that we decided to take the dog for a Sunday drive. There are a couple of beautiful cattle ranches that edge the lake nearby. The Bubba likes to go see the cows so off we went down a narrow two lane road through the country to call the cows home. We pulled over, cut the engine and rolled down the window and started calling cows. We whooped and hollered for almost 10 minutes, much to the delight of our beastie boy. The cows think we are insane but they are intrigued and they come very close until the dog joins in and then they all stampede. It is great fun for man and beast. When the dog gets to go in the car and see cows, he thinks it a grand adventure.
After the cows resumed their grazing at a safer distance from us, we decided to run over to the other side of the lake so we headed on north and west a few miles and stopped on the 2 lane bridge over the River Styx. Our River Styx is a real river that connects Orange Lake to Lake Lochloosa.
We were sitting on the bridge when a pickup truck drove up from behind stopping beside us. A couple of good ole boys said howdy and asked us if we liked their cattle.
"Yes, you have some fine cattle there. We often bring the dog up to see them."
"That don't look like no cow dog."
"Ah, but he thinks he's a cow dog. That's what's important."
"Well, we heard y'all clear across the field."
"Hope we didn't disturb you or the cattle."
"Nah, but y'all sure do raise a ruckus."
Pleasantries exchanged, the cowboys roared off in their pickup truck and we mosied on around the lake to the east side where we sipped bourbon and sat without talking while we watched the sunset light up the lake with a gazillion orange and crystal sparkles.
Friday, October 07, 2005
Thursday, October 06, 2005
Having decided that if I went, I should look respectable, I harnessed my bosom into one of those torture devices known as a brassiere and attended the Garden Club meeting this morning. I was going to wear some funky Halloween jewelry but at the last moment, decided it might be a tad early in the season so I took it off. I walked to the meeting on a soft, gray day. It looked cold and foggy outside at a quarter past nine but the temp must have been already 80 and the humidity at least 98%. It was like walking outside into a wet, wool blanket. I had to gasp for air so I was unable to mutter weather curses as I made my way across the park where our Civic Center is located.
Our Civic Center, Home of the Garden Club
Arriving at our CC which was built by the CCC during the Great Depression, I smiled at the large greenery arrangement in a pumpkin planter arranged by the door. Inside, all the lights were off with candles glowing on decorated tables of black cloths with heavy orange netting topped with witches hats, spiders, pumpkins, fall leaves and more. Darn! I should have worn the Halloween pins. We were each asked to select a colorful silk leaf to wear. I picked the biggest, brightest leaf I could find and pinned mine to my lapel but would have liked to pin it to my hair. That large orange leaf would come in handy later in the morning.
My girlfriends, active garden-clubbers, were the hostesses of the October meeting. I do think I shocked them that I actually showed up as they have been asking me for years to attend. Last time I was at a garden club meeting was over 20 years ago and I was the youngest person in the room. Today, I don't believe I can claim that distinction.
The glow of all the candles was very nice on a rather dark and dreary day. The decorations were very clever and nicely done and there was a charming autumn buffet. We all noshed and socialized. The meeting was called to order with an odd sound (wonder what it was?) and after the Pledge of Allegiance, we ladies of the club enjoyed an autumn poetry reading. No, I am not kidding, I was properly harnessed and listening and nodding to poetry before 10:00AM. I would not have been at all surprised had a lightning bolt come down and shot sparks at me or lit the bushes a-burning in the park. Flaurella, the maverick non-joiner was making polite conversation with the Garden Club Ladies.
Next on the agenda was an Herbalist guest speaker who gave a detailed talk and demonstration on growing and cooking with fresh herbs. Some of the ladies took copious notes. I didn't but I did give an approving nod here and there.
As it happened, I was picking at a piece of home-made pumpkin bread topped with bright orange pumpkin butter when the tender cake crumbled and landed on my bosom which was unusually up-right and perky thanks to being propped up and out by the engineers at Bali, making a crumb plateau that isn't usually there. As Murphy's Law would have it, the cake landed with the bright orange pumpkin butter face down making an unattractively large, orange stain on my white blouse with the thin silver and black stripes, which I might add, I had never before worn, having just removed the tags this morning as I dressed. I just knew that bright orange honey butter whipped stuff was gonna leave a mark. It did, but I was able to move my large silk maple leaf to cover the stain. Now, I was the only lady with a huge leaf smack in the center of her chest five inches above the naval but at least no one could see what a klutz I am that early in the day.
I didn't think I should throw myself into Garden Club shock by sitting there another hour or two so at the next break at 11:20, when the Ladies of the Club made a bee-line back to the buffet, I thanked the speaker and my hostesses and slipped out after two hours of brassiere wearing, chit-chatting, lady-like floral falderal. The business meeting following the frivolities should not require my presence. I can see the CC from my house and the business part of the meeting went on for well over another hour. I shall have to ease myself into this sitting around making nice-nice. About an hour and a half is my limit for being genteel and keeping my comments to myself. By two hours, my eyebrows begin to wiggle and wag uncontrollably and I am itching to make pithy comments and snide observations.
Actually, the experience wasn't too terrible and I may attend another meeting next month so I can talk turkey. I wonder what the odds are that I can convince them to have the meetings in the afternoon instead of the morning? I wonder if anyone has ever spiked the punch bowl...
Wednesday, October 05, 2005
Speaking of flowers, I've been invited to join the Garden Club. Can you imagine? I am not sure I will fit in with the genteel ladies of the club but I may give it a try since W4D is running for Council. I have a hard time narrowing my activities to one thing at a time so sitting in a line of straight chairs and being still for any length of time while someone talks about pruning shears or garden pests may not be my cuppa. I will also need to curb my "tourette's" and make polite conversation. To make it even worse, the meeting is at 9:30 ayem. That's like practically daybreak. I am not sure I can be civil by such an early hour.
Tuesday, October 04, 2005
W4D took the day off to drive me so I wouldn't have to drive under the influence. We ran at least a dozen errands and then went Halloween shopping. I bought lots of decorations but my favorite thing is a thunder and lightning machine. It will look neat on our upstairs veranda with lightning flashes illuminating the hanging skeletons between the columns and the black cats in the windows. Bought strings of bats, pumpkins, purple lights, black bows and assorted spooky frou-frou for the downstairs veranda. (I have figured out that DH likes to take me shopping when I am drugged for I don't care how much money he spends.) I also found a second sound effects CD. Between the thunder and lightening and two separate CD's of blood-curdling sounds, we can fill our whole block with creepy effects.
Our little town goes all out for Halloween. I buy for 300 kids even though there are only about 35 kids that live here in town. People from near and far come here on Halloween as this old Victorian town is a great place to Trick or Treat. Also today, I got all the spider rings, bat rings, glow in the dark snakes, cock roaches, scorpions, etc. that I like to give out with the candy. I'll get the candy later this week. After we give out candy for 300 or just a few more than planned, we turn out the lights and go out and enjoy some adult beverages.
Tomorrow, I will not remember much about the dental visit nor what I bought. Xanax is my wonder drug. It is a glorious thing to me that I can forget the trauma of all things dental when I take it.
I just sent DH out to get me a milkshake for supper. While he does that, I will put on my nightie and curl up on the couch. I should be asleep by 8:30.
Monday, October 03, 2005
Since I haven't had any time at all to think about blogs today, I shall offer you a quick photo of what scared the holy crap out of me this weekend.
W4D and I have long taken great delight into scaring the bejeezus out of each other with fake spiders and snakes. We each have a stash of realistic looking plastic bugs, snakes, critters and spiders that we keep for our shenanigans and we like to creep each other out all year long, not just at Halloween.
I have been plotting where to hide a nice little scary spider which is all of 2 inches across. One must be slick and not obvious to truly frighten the stuffing out of The Lubricator or me. I even have special gummy stuff so I can stick a spider on a wall or suspend it from something. I have ways of attaching fake spiders to draperies or shower walls. We can make a toothy rat peer out from a potted plant, a realistic snake slither from under a porch step or from behind a commode and startle the best of them. We are not amateurs.
Last week, I found HUGE poseable spiders in the mall and bought a couple for our porch at Halloween. They came all scrunched up in packaging so I took one, stretched it out and shaped him like he was ready to skitter across the floor. These spiders will look great near our door at Halloween! I played with and posed one of the big spiders for a bit and then wandered off, not going back near the parlor for a few days.
Over the weekend, I wanted to set the VCR in the old room since we've never figured out how to work this fancy new one in the family room that does VCR-DVD-MP3- RFM-XFT-BTE-ME - just everything - or would, if only W4D could figure out how to hook it up properly. So, mission in mind, I breezed down the hall, popped through the French doors and into the parlor. Out of the corner of my eye, I spied a HUGE black spider! I skidded to a screeching halt, screamed, staggered back and clutched at my chest. I had scared all the meanness out of my own self with a spider that is over 4 feet across.
I ask you, how likely am I to run into a real four foot spider with purple sparkles on his legs in my parlor? If the odds are so slim, then why have I had spider nightmares for the last two nights? When I went to change the file name and upload the photo to FLICKR, I noticed that the Mavica assigned file name was mvc-666f.jpg. Hardly a coincidence, I think.