Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Sign Of The Times


The Bruno Truck Sales sign can be found in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, right off of Interstate 278.  It is a scaffold design and was built around 1965.  

These signs, like the old Kentile Floors sign, are quite popular with historians and sign aficionados.  Everyone remembers a sign from their childhood or from a place they loved.  Maybe it was a spot that marked how far you were from a place ("once you see the XYZ sign, you know you're almost there"), or it belonged to a business you frequented.  I have many memories like this, as I'm a visual person and often associate a place or memory with a structure like this.  I take pictures of the signs I love when I can - anything to avoid another flickertail.  

If you happen to be a fan of the Bruno Truck Sales sign, you can now wear it - it's been memorialized on a t-shirt.  

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2019:  Sorry, no post on this day.
Essential Travel Preparation
2017:  Getting The 'Ol Girl Washed
2016:  Lit From Below
2015:  The Devil's Highway Takes You Past A 27 Million-Year-Old Rock With Wings
2014:  One Of Millions 
2013:  I Walked In The Footsteps Of Richard Gere
2012:  Flower Bar
2011:  A Sign For Sore Eyes
2010:  A Primm Landscape
2009:  I Am A Kandee Addict
2008:  The Tiny Intersection Where The Colors Collide
2007:  Loved Shack
2006:  Holy Mother Of Pearl
2005:  The Starfish Effect

Monday, September 21, 2020

Rescue A Coconut, Save The Planet


In 2009, Ed and I found ourselves in Key West, Florida taking some time off after delivering a load to a business a few towns over.  While there, we rented scooters to get around town and had some fun wrangling coconuts.  The abundance of the coconuts there for the picking got me thinking.  I thought about the tropical islands you see in the movies, where the main character is usually stranded, just them and the palm trees.  What do they eat?  A lot of coconuts, I imagined.  But seriously, when you have an abundance of something what do you do with all of it?  Especially the parts that are leftover.  

I collected about 15 of those coconuts, in their husks, and brought them home to family members.  I still have mine.  But when you take the actual nut out of the husk and eat the coconut meat, you're left with a shell.  We've all seen the coconut bras sold at seaside souvenir shops.  But what can really be done with them?  People in locations where they're plentiful must use them practically.  Have you ever wondered what happens to all the coconuts in the world?  I have.   

Well, you no longer have to wonder.  

Rainforest Bowls has the answer.  And they're out to save the planet with a solution.  In a partnership with them, through their Ambassador program, I'm here to offer you a way to help.  First, this, from the documentation I received from them:

Did you know that over 55 billion coconuts are harvested worldwide per year?  It also means that billions of coconut husks are discarded and burned in landfills each year. Rainforest Bowls helps the Earth by turning coconut waste into useful, food-safe bowls.  With your purchase, enjoy peace of mind knowing that you rescued a coconut shell from being burned as waste, you're supporting the livelihood of local farmers and artisans, and you're doing the environment a favor by choosing sustainable products.

They have a mission.  For every 10 bowls they sell, they will plant one tree through environmental charities - One Tree Planted and Trees For The Future -  that focuses on global reforestation.  So if you buy a few bowls, you're not only adding something unique to your home, you're helping to save the planet.  Can't get any easier than that, can it?

The bowls are beautiful!  I have this set:

The bowls are made from reclaimed coconut shells and handcrafted by local artisans in Vietnam.  See how they're made here.  

And courtesy of Rainforest Bowls and my association with them, they are offering my readers a 20% discount if you decide to make a purchase.  Just use the coupon code SALENALETTERA at checkout to get the discount.

Click HERE to start shopping!

And don't forget to follow them on Instagram and Facebook!

* Sponsored post.  Photos courtesy of rainforestbowls.com

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2019: Sorry,  no post on this day.
Pom Wonderful
2017: How Do?
2016: Silver Luxe
2015: Art From The Bottoms Up
2014: Weekend Getaway
2013: Long Shadow In Kansas
2012: Spreading Joy, Pixie Style
2011: Coming Soon 
2010: Feren Films Y’All Shouldn’t Miss 
2009: This Guy Sucks 
2008: Shine And Shine 
2007: Eddie Hoots It Up Friday 
2006: Eddie The Bird Whisperer 
2005: Laundress

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Fire And Brimstone In The West


The fires in California have left an eerie haze over much of California, Arizona, and Oregon.  Reports of smoke have come from New Mexico and as far as Europe.

In this photo, we woke up in Suisun City, California to a weird yellow cast over the sky.  There was ash on the asphalt where we parked.  At first, we thought it was dust, but when Ed reached down to inspect it, discovered it was white ash.

We've seen the haze in the sky here in Tucson and up in Phoenix and our neighbors have family in Oregon whose farm has been affected by the fires.  

What else is 2020 going to bring us?  Should I keep my eyes open for locusts?

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2019:  Bird Of Prey
2018:  Down The River
2017:  Valion Pride
2016:  Be Virtually Anywhere
2015:  This Is Not 100% Natural Spring Water
2014:  Rain Day Delay
2013:  That Sunday, That Summer
2012:  Heading To The Mountains
2011:  End Of Summer Rainbow
2010:  UGG, What A Surprise!
2009:  Under The El
2008:  We Escaped With Our Teeth Intact
2007:  Praying In The Jewel Of The South For Over 250 Years
2006:  Drive Time Champion
2005:  Yukon Bet We're Far Away

Friday, August 28, 2020

Hotel Magnate Starts His Empire In The Lonestar State

The water tower in Cisco, Texas at sunrise.  

Fun fact:  Conrad Hilton started the Hilton hotel chain in Cisco, Texas with the purchase of a single hotel.  He came to Cisco to buy a bank but the bank cost too much so in 1919 he bought a hotel instead. 

That hotel is now a local museum.

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2019: Sorry, no post on this day.
Football Season In Minnesota
2017: Ideas Blooming
2016: Blushing Rain Clouds
2015: Last Night Was Super!
2014: Sloths Are The New Kittens
2013: In The Shadow Of Mount Olympus
2012: Toni And Her Sisters
2011: Paper Boy…And Girl
2010: Breakfast Of Champions (And Truck Drivers)
2009: Vegetarianism Brings On Extinction
2008: It’s Beauty Is Just The Beginning
2007: Eddie Relaxes In Style Friday
2006: How To Tell Your Parents You Don’t Have A Roommate
2005: Mangia! and You Just Know When You’ve Met “The One”

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Boundless American Optimism

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.  It is the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere.  

Architectural critic David Dillon opined that the arch exists not as a functional edifice but as a symbol of "boundless American optimism". He articulates the arch's multiple "moods"—"reflective in sunlight, soft and pewterish in mist; crisp as a line drawing one moment, chimerical the next"—as a way the arch has "paid for itself many times over in wonder".

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The Movies Have Always Been An Escape

2018: Nowhere Near As Cute As A Kitten
2017: Celebrating Seven And A Half Decades
2016: Makes Complete Sense
2015: I'm Always Hoping It's The Last Time
2014: Apes At The Hitching Post
2013: History On Water Street
2012: Do It Like The Settlers Did. With Whiskey.
2011: No Vacancy
2010: Imperial Sand
2009: How Many Twenty Year Olds Have A Seventy Pound Head?
2008: My First Time
2007: I’ve Been Everywhere Sunday
2006: Text Me
2005: Eddie Dines Out Friday

Sunday, July 05, 2020

Truckin' To The Truck Inn

The Truck Inn was located in Fernley, Nevada at Exit 48 on Interstate 80. This Freightliner cabover-in-the-sky marks the spot where it stood.

Operating from 1984 to June 2008, it was your quintessential truck stop - breakfast 24 hours a day, horseshoe-shaped counter lined with solo drivers. They offered live gaming from 1990 to 1998, and then slots only from 1998 until they closed. They leveled the building after it closed. All that remains is their giant parking lot.

Which is where we were last night to watch the fireworks show.

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2019: Sorry, no post on this day.
Commerce On The Savannah
2017: The Horsepower Of The Apaches Was Natural
2016: Putting In The Miles
2015: Grand Parking Lot
2014: True Independence
2013: Pyrotechnic Parade Across The Midwest
2012: Plane, Train, Or Automobile – Just Get Me To Canada!
2011: Hello, Kitty. Who’s Your Friend?
2010: If It’s Good Enough For Homeland Security, It’s Good Enough For Me
2009: The Top At Dock
2008: Night Interrupted
2007: Just A Train And A Tree
2006: This is One Lawn Boy I Have No Desire To See Naked
2005: Not So Cuddly

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Fire On The Mountain

This is the mountain I see from my living room window.  The mighty Santa Catalinas.

I've photographed and written about it many times.  You can see pictures of it when it wasn't on fire here, here, here, here, and here

Oh, and here, when it had a rare covering of snow on it.  

It is currently on fire.

They are calling it the Bighorn Fire, presumably after the Bighorn Sheep that roam the range.  
It was started by a lightning strike and has so far burned 37,028 acres and is 21 percent contained.
The Santa Catalina Mountains - we just call them the Catalinas - is the most prominent range in the Tucson area with the highest elevation, at 9,157 feet above sea level.
We were on the road when we heard about the fire. Although we are close to the area, our house was in no danger.  And we weren't required to evacuate.  Yet communities just a few miles from us were asked to evacuate their homes because the fire was getting too close for comfort.  They didn't want to wait until the last minute to get people out.
We arrived back at our house at 2:30 in the morning.  We could see the orange brightness of the flames from Interstate-10, at least 9 miles from our house.  I saw fire on the very top of the mountain and on Pusch Ridge, a little to the north of the peak on our side.  
These photos were taken this week. I noticed the giant plume of smoke when I left to go to the store.  It was massive.  Because it seems to be on the backside of the mountain there isn't as much smoke smell in the air.  The night we got home the entire neighborhood smelled like a giant campfire.

We saw helicopters a few days ago hauling giant buckets of water to the fire and before we arrived home planes spread fire retardant on the mountain, which is now visible in red streaks across the landscape.  

In the more than 35 years that I've lived here, I've never seen anything like this happen.  It's an incredible sight, really.  We have a close-up view of the result of what Mother Nature can do with just the crack of a lightning bolt.

See more spectacular images HERE.

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2019: Celebrating The Dads
2018: Pastoral
2017: Dune Crawl
2016: The Closest I Get To Camping
2015: This Guy Rocks It, Man
2014: Pillows Of Deliciousness
2013: Staring Me Down On Dad's Day
2012: Load Check
2011: Hotel Special Effects In An Instant
2010: The Great American Shoe Hunt
2009: The First Glimpse Of The People’s Coast
2008: Ohhhh, So This Is How It Works
2007: Can You Hear Me Stereotyping Now?
2006: In The Kitchen With Eddie
2005: Top Ten

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Signs Of Summer

Ed took this photo of quail eggs under a rock in our backyard.  This is the time of year when we see the parent quails being trailed by 10-15 of their little ones.  We've already seen one set!

Can't wait for the next batch!

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2019: Sorry, no post for this day.
2018: Tip-Top Turtle
2017: Education In Ruins
2016: She's Dressed In A Tuxedo
2015: Turn Of The Century
2014: The Passing Strange
2013: One Pan Eddie: Five Steps To Paradise
2012: Crossing The Hackensack
2011: Don’t Hate On Me On This Lovely Golden Day
2010: See You At The Curb
2009: A Blaze Of Crotch Sniffing And Licky Kisses
2008: Going To Market
2007: Lazy Sunday
2006: Can Someone Define Their Purpose??
2005: Sorry, no post for this day.

Sunday, May 03, 2020

Now You See It, Now You Don't

When most people see our truck rolling down the highway, they probably think it's a van trailer, like some of the other semis they see on the road.  But our trailer is actually a platform trailer, a flatbed with a rolling tarping system.  In our industry, it's called a Conestoga trailer.

This type of trailer allows us to carry freight that goes on a typical flatbed trailer and instead of Ed spending hours and hours tarping (yes, it used to take him several hours to secure and tarp a load), all he has to do now is unlock a few latches to roll the tarp open, load the freight, and then roll it closed.

We can haul anything of legal dimensions that will fit on a flatbed trailer.  And because of our custom interior dimension, we can also haul shipping containers - either two 20' foot containers (that's a 20 footer pictured below) or one 40' container. 

The trailer has retractable twist locks to hold the containers on the trailer so no additional securement (like straps) is needed. The tarping system also opens from either end in the same accordion fashion for easy access to the freight.

We hauled this container from Savannah, Georgia to Terminal Island, California.  To see a video of how the tarping system works to cover the container, click HERE

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2019: Green Sticks Everywhere

2018: Designated Office Space
2017: Desert Garden In Bloom
2016: Agile Cat
2015: Future Steak
2014: What Should Have Been Paul's Place
2013: At The Drop Of A Hat
2012: Passing Up A Little Afternoon Delight
2011: Annnnnnd…It’s Back On!
2010: Rise Early. Work Hard. Strike Oil.
2009: It’s All Connected To The Pigskin
2008: The Sorriest Team Drivers You’ve Ever Seen
2007: Ooooooo, A Contest!
2006: Modern Convenience
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Monday, March 30, 2020

Isolation Biscuits

Photo by Jamie Schler @lifesafeast
I saw this recipe on Twitter, and although I'm totally bummed that I can't make them here in the truck, I am saving the recipe for when I get home.

Look at those amazing biscuits! What are they, three, four inches tall?  I need to rip those golden brown tops off and slather them with butter or jam.

And that's what Jamie Schler, the woman who posted the recipe, said you should do. 

Here is her recipe.  She said she's been making these for forty years (talk about time tested!) and from the looks of them, it seems like she's perfected the recipe.  If you make them, please let me know how delicious they really are.

2 cups (270 grams) all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (115 grams) unsalted butter, slightly softened
2/3 cup (160 ml) cold milk
Extra flour for work surface

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C) before starting.

To measure the flour, stir the flour to lighten it before spooning it up & placing it in the measuring cup. Fill to the top/mounded then, using a long flat surface like the back of a knife blade, level the flour across the top of the cup.

Place the flour in a large bowl. Add the baking powder and salt to the flour and stir to blend. Cut the butter into cubes and to the flour in the bowl then toss to cover the butter cubes in the flour. Using your fingertips, rub the butter and flour together rather vigorously until the butter has been completely incorporated into the flour and the mixture resembles damp sand or cornmeal.

Add the milk, about a third at a time, mixing vigorously into the flour with a fork until the dough forms into a rough ball & there is no more dry flour/butter mixture. Gather the dough together and place on a floured work surface, dusting the dough itself with a little flour. Knead the dough very, very briefly only until you have a homogenous and smooth dough.

Using a rolling pin and a very light touch (roll the dough without pressing down on the rolling pin into the dough with pressure), roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/2-inch (1 cm). The dough should be light and fluffy, not packed. Using a round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out small rounds (press straight down then up, not twisting the cutter) and place on an ungreased cookie or baking sheet.

Place the cookie/baking sheets with the biscuits in the preheated oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.  The biscuits will have risen, the layers slightly separating, and the tops and the bottoms (carefully lift one up and look) will be a nice golden brown.

Eat hot or warm with butter.

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The Color Purple

2018: Inch By Inch Design
2017: Flashback To French Blooms
2016: Crooking Its Bright Red Finger
2015: This Is Why
2014: Fill'er Up!
2013: Texas! Texas! Margaret...
2012: He Forgets He Lives With A Maven
2011: Does Anyone Notice The Shoes Of A “Very Important Person”?
2010: Do You Think Raquel Owns A Dog And Gets Enough Potassium?
2009: No Need To Do Anything Drastic; There Will Always Be Re-Runs 
2008: Beautifully Retro
2007: Ready, Set, Go!!
2006: Giving New Meaning To An Ambulance Chaser
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn’t start until May 2005!

Monday, March 23, 2020

When Life Gives You Lemons

Well, it's the beginning of a brand new week for us.  That really has no meaning during this pandemic, though.  The Coronavirus doesn't know the difference between weekdays and weekends.  Many people will start this week sheltering-in-place, in quarantine, in a hospital bed, or worse.

I'm 52 years old and I've never seen anything like what's happening right now.  I've never been in a store where shelves were bare, I've never had to isolate myself in my home for fear of getting sick, I've never had to stay six to ten feet away from friends and family. I've never seen people hoard toilet paper.  Good thing Ed and I are so used to being three feet apart all the time, this thing is going to be easy for us.  

I'm a homebody, so nothing makes me happier than being told to stay home.  The shelter-in-place suggestion is just another day for me, and it's not a big deal.  But I've been reading a lot of stuff online and have seen Tweets, Instagram stories, internet memes, and Facebook posts joking (and not joking) about how difficult it is for people to stay home.  Especially people with kids.  

I don't get this at all.  Sure, I'm a natural hibernator so it's easy for me, but can people really not stay home??  Don't they know how to read a book, play a game, work a hobby, watch TV and movies?  There is SO much to do at home.  We have the internet, cable TV with 500+ channels, Amazon Prime, Netflix.  Back in the day, we had 13 channels that went off the air for the night.  TV went to sleep like we did. 

I actually think there's something wrong with people who don't know how to relax, chill out, and just be alone with themselves. Or their family.  There's something wrong with the need to socialize, to go out, and to do do do all the time.  What are you afraid of if you miss the gym for a few weeks?  Go outside and do jumping jacks.  Why must you go out for dinner or drinks?  And if you just can't sit still, God help you, clean out your closets.  Bake.  Make and freeze soups.  Organize your pantry.  There's stuff to do, people.

One big problem I see - which is not just a problem during this pandemic, but a problem in general - is people don't cook.  These poor souls live on DoorDash, fast food drive-throughs, Chinese takeout, and frozen pizza.  If a restaurant is closing their dining rooms to protect their workers and the general public, why would you order delivery from them?   The person preparing your meal could be sick, or maybe they didn't wash their hands.  No way.  I'm not taking that chance.  And you shouldn't either.  Learn how to cook or eat a bowl of cereal, or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

We are back on the road this week and we've already been to a shipper that asked Coronavirus-related questions - Do you have a cough or fever?  Have you been diagnosed with the Coronavirus or have you be in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with the virus? Are you self-quarantining?   Well, I'm not self-quarantining since I'm at your gate in an 18-wheeler to pick up freight.  But, no to the other questions.

Ed and I are self-isolating.  My friend made a distinction between the quarantine and isolation thing - if you're sick, you quarantine, if you're staying home or away from others of your own free will, you're self-isolating.  Other than going into the truckstop to pay for fuel or signing paperwork at a customer, we haven't interacted with any other people.  And when we get back to the truck, we wipe down everything (pen, folder, phone, etc.) with a Clorox wipe, then wash our hands.  Or use hand sanitizer.  We're not taking any chances.

This isn't a joke.  This is serious.  The media isn't making it more than it is, and people who think what's happening is a plot to hurt Trump are morons.  People are sick and dying all over the world, and they don't give a shit about Trump.  And you shouldn't either.  Listen to the scientists, the doctors, the nurses, the specialists, the CDC, the intelligent people.  The ones on the front lines.  The truth-tellers.  Because this is a life or death situation.

And since we have to make adjustments to our way of life, let's all try to be vigilant about the social distancing, the handwashing, and whatever else is necessary to help each other through this pandemic.  We have to follow the direction of those who know more about this virus (or medicine in general) than we do.  We have to do our very best.

Let's make some lemonade.

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2019: Istanbul Cobble

2018: Circulating The Morning Air In The Lonestar State
2017: It's The Real OLD Thing
2016: Stopping In Style
2015: Patiently Waiting
2014: Find Out Where You Can Dine With Giraffes
2013: Sputtering With Excitement
2012: Water May Not Be The Only Liquid Nourishing These Flowers
2011: Nappy Time
2010: Dick. Not A Dick. Which One Are You?
2009: First The Poultry, Now This
2008: California Moon
2007: Ryno And Rob
2006: Living The Dream
2005: Sorry, no post on this day. The blog didn't start until May 2005!