Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I Love You Newman E. Drake

As you can see from below, it appears as if I've never done a post on leap year. To be fair, of the past six years, there would have only been one day (in 2008) to do a post and apparently, I missed it.

So here's a photo of one of my favorite New York treats -
Drake’s - to get you through the next four years. The Drake's brand can't be found anywhere but in the Northeast - from what the Wikipedia entry says, they tried to branch out to the Maryland and Washington DC area, Florida and California, but those expansions failed. Whenever I come home to New York, I pick up a box - it's one of those wonderful regional things that also involves a childhood memory. Sort of like Yoo-Hoo and Sabrett hot dogs.

My favorite items in the Drake's line are, in order of deliciousness to me, are...the Devil Dog , the Coffee Cake, and the good 'ol Yankee Doodles. Hence the reason I will not be donning a bikini come bathing suit season.

Well, unless I become a mad
chain smoker.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
1-6 YEARS AGO: Sorry, no previous posts for this day.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Making Tracks Across The Country

When recently looking for some other photos, I came across this shot I took of a train board. At the time, it reminded me of my grandfather, since he had trains set up all over his house since the day I was born, until the day he died. He had big and small scale trains, N Scale, OO and HO Gauge if I remember correctly. He had a large, extremely detailed train board that my brother and I loved to watch him work on. When he got older and my grandparents moved from their house to an apartment, he had a smaller board set up in the kitchen. It was great.

Today this picture made me think of everything we pass by on a daily basis when on the road. I look at everything - trees, farms, broken down cars in people's yards, swingsets and kids toys strewn about, cows and horses grazing in fields. I feel like my work day is alive, with something always going on. Always different, always somewhere new.

I've mentioned before how I have favorite parts of the country, and mostly it's because of what I get to see while there. I generally hate anywhere that's hot, but if I can't escape the heat, I prefer to be in an area I enjoy. I really don't like the western part of the country at all - especially the Southwest where everything is flat, dusty, dead looking and barren. I like seeing trees, rivers, mountains, fall foliage, spring buds, barns, snow, traffic and urban areas.

I love when I come across something unexpected. Like a week ago this guy in a pickup truck cut in front of me, from the far left lane to the far right lane, speeding of course, to pull into a rest area. I was watching him thinking, "What an idiot. Why is he going so fast into a rest area?? That's so unsafe." when BAM! - his front left wheel completely FELL OFF THE TRUCK and he slid about a hundred feet in a shower of sparks. The entire wheel, tire and rim, just came right off and went rolling behind him down the ramp he just pulled into. I got it on video. I don't know what happened because I couldn't stop, I was already past him, but I watched it happen out the passenger window.

Or today, when I saw a guy in an orange helmet, on a zipline that ran parallel to the interstate - he was crossing the river at the same time I was - him on the zipline, me over the bridge. Very cool.

I see animals all the time playing in the fields with each other - horses running side by side, cows butting heads, calves nuzzling their mothers. I love seeing alpacas, because no matter how many times I've seen them, there's always that moment where I say to myself, what the hell is that?? and then I remember. Oh yeah, an alpaca.

The only time I like to drive at night is when I'm going across an area that I don't like or that's visually unappealing to me. Have you ever driven through West Texas? I happen to think it's beautiful at night. It seems I won't be around for the smattering of snow the Northeast is going to be getting, but maybe I'll be a little luckier on the next trip.

Life, for sure, is passing me by; but in the good way. And I'm not missing a minute of it.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Eddie Is The King Of The Dome
Do It For Half An Hour A Day
Sipping In Nyack
The Tink Tink Tinkle Of Recycling
Ralph’s Service Station
The Isle Of Capri

Monday, February 27, 2012

So That's How It's Done

Ohhhhh, so I should be reaching for a cigarette instead of Dunkin' Donuts! Who could have known it was as easy as lighting up? According to this ad, if I don't smoke, I could look like the woman to the left in five years. Oh, shit. I already look like the woman on the left. What should I do now??

These are two vintage cigarette ads I came across on the internet recently that made me just shake my head in amazement. Although I know many vintage ads touted practices that are no longer considered desirable, part of me truly and deeply believes that there are still scores of women out there who'd rather smoke than be fat.

I guess more people would rather die from tobacco use than to not be able to fit into their skinny jeans.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

It's Vital For My Existence

Some people call it global warming, others climate change. But whatever you call it, it's happening. The average person, the one who never leaves their state, city, town or even block, probably doesn't know what the weather is doing in other parts of the country. I'd venture to say they don't pay too much attention to the national weather forecast, they're more interested in what's happening tomorrow and whether they need a sweater or parka.

But lately, it seems neither of those are necessary. It's warm. Hot, even. In a lot of places. I drive all over the country and yes, it's cold in some places, it's February after all, but we've been in the New York and other than a small smattering of snow, there's nothing. Going back and forth across the country brings the subject of weather front and center. You want to know what you're going to run into, so it's best to check every once in a while to see what's happening. All I know is that I haven't had to pull out a winter jacket yet. Not even a sweatshirt.

But it's coming, I'm sure of it. I've been wishing for cold weather, snow, sleet, ice....anything that happens below freezing temperatures. Just a little to make me happy.

It's winter, after all and I need it.

“There is still vitality under the winter snow,
even though to the casual eye it seems to be dead.”
~ Agnes Sligh Turnbull, American Writer

Saturday, February 25, 2012

A Little Nip Of A Love Affair

I'm not a hard candy chick, but when it comes to Coffee Nips, that's just a big fat lie. When it comes to Nips, I'm all kinds of a hard candy girl.

I don't know when I first discovered these, but for a long time I totally forgot about them because they're not available everywhere - I have only been able to find them at
Walgreen’s. They're available online, but when I'm on the road and need a fix, I can't just order stuff on line and have it shipped to me. I must find a Walgreen's.

With truck parking.

For the last few months, I've been on a Nip kick. I bought them when I was home for Christmas and then stocked up again when I was in Florida in January - I made my friend Greg stop at a Walgreen's just so I can go in and get a few boxes. But now I'm out again and I'm totally jonesin' for a Nip.

I like to have a few when I'm driving because they last such a long time and the creamy coffee flavor is like having a cup of coffee caress me for miles and miles. But since I'm out, the only way to get through the day is to push the thought of them of my mind. I'll be getting more this week, and I'll make sure to stash some in the truck somewhere so I will have an emergency supply.

It's a slow week here at The Daily Rant, so expect a few more random posts about nothing until things pick up a little. Nothing planned for the weekend, but things should pick up next week. See you then!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It’s A Serious Addiction
Why Play Fantasy Football When You Can Spend Your Time Making Lists For The Halle Experiment?
I Hope There Isn’t Going To Be A Quiz
Sunglasses Required
Golden Eye
Making A List And Checking It Twice

Friday, February 24, 2012

From A Bodyguard, To Men Of Honor, To Good Deeds

I have this thing for Black movies. I'm sure the term "Black movies" is somehow politically incorrect, I probably should say "African-American" movies, but I can't seem to fully embrace the African-American term, I've just always said "Black". Honestly, I don't even know what's right anymore, but since the website Black Classic Movies says "black", I'm going with it for the purpose of this post.
There's just something about black movies that are appealing to me. I usually prefer a predominantly black cast, but I also like black-themed films, where it may not be a largely black cast, but the story is about a black person, community or issue.

One of the big reasons I like black movies is because a lot of them center around the genre of music I prefer - R & B, Motown, and Gospel. Here are some of my favorites in that category.

The Fighting Temptations: Cuba Gooding, Jr. finds out he'll inherit stock from a recently deceased Aunt but he needs to get her church choir into the Gospel Explosion competition in Atlanta before claiming it. Yes, he's tasked with directing a gospel choir - something he's not done before - but when you have the voices of Beyoncé, Ann Nesby, Faith Evans and Melba Moore to work with, it's not such a daunting task. What a great soundtrack, too.

The Bodyguard: I love this movie. Kevin Costner guarding your body? What woman doesn't love a man who will put his life at risk for yours? They have great chemistry and this is another movie with a great soundtrack. Hell, it's Whitney - can't do better than that.

The Gospel: Popular singer turns his back on God and his father's church, then returns years later to redeem himself. Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. This movie has a kick-ass soundtrack (Gospel powerhouses Yolanda Adams, Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin, Martha Munizzi, and Hezekiah Walker lend their voices) and the main characters are Boris Kodjoe and Idris Elba. Those two could be the last things I see and I'd leave this earth a happy woman.

Cadillac Records: Another film with Beyoncé - in this one, she plays singing legend Etta James. The movie chronicles the rise of Chess Records and the recording artists signed to its label.

Drumline: The energy in this movie is palpable. If you don't feel the beat while watching this movie, get yourself to a medical facility quick! It's really an entertaining movie and the precision and artistry of the marching bands featured make you think twice about the dorkiness of band camp.

Dreamgirls: Beyoncé is in this one too, but the real star is Jennifer Hudson. She's astounding. When Jennifer opens her mouth, "Beyoncé who?" will be the only thing you're thinking. As Effie White, her performance is certainly worth the Oscar she received.

The Preacher’s Wife: Denzel is charming and Whitney is divine, but it's the soundtrack that really got me. It's been called one of the best gospel movie soundtracks ever - I love "Step By Step" and Who Would Imagine A King.

The next type of black movie I like are ones that deal with cultural issues in the black communities, or situations in which they have had to overcome the color of their skin because of the prejudices of others. The most satisfying to me are cases in which justice prevails...whether it's an immediate resolution or 30 years later, as in the case of the assasination of Medgar Evers. In addition to that story, here are some of the others I love.

Remember The Titans: For a girl who abhors sports, I'm in love with sports movies. And if the sports movie has Denzel in it, I'm even happier. Inspired by real events and battling racial prejudice, the Titans go through the season undefeated, eventually gaining support from their community.

The Hurricane: Denzel Washington was nominated for an Oscar for his portryal of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer who was wrongly accused of murder. It's a powerful movie and it's almost impossible not to be touched by the story.

Ghosts of Mississippi: The dramatic story of the 1994 trial of Byron De La Beckwith, who killed civil rights leader Medgar Evers in 1963. The best part of this movie? When Byron De La Beckwith is found guilty and sentenced to life in prison gets sentenced to life in prison at 74 years old. Infinitely more satisfying is knowing he died while spending the last six years (it should have been more) of his life in prison.

Men of Honor: I. LOVE. THIS. MOVIE. This movie is inspired by the true story of Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear (played by Cuba Gooding, Jr.), who was the first African-American Master Diver in the United States Navy. He is determined to overcome the racism he encounters in order to be the first African-American Navy Diver - Master Diver being his eventual goal. Robert DeNiro is brilliant as usual, but the inspiration comes from Cuba's performance. Fun fact - Carl Brashear was born to sharecroppers in Tonieville, Kentucky, which is just nineteen miles from where I lived and he was raised in Sonora, Kentucky, only twenty-five miles from where I lived and in the same town in which I once spent the night at the home of a friend's grandparents who lived there.

Pride: Another true story, this one featuring Terrence Howard in the leading role. An incredibly inspiring story about Jim Ellis, a schoolteacher in Philadelphia in the 1970's who founded the first African-American swim team in one of the city's toughest neighborhoods, to compete with other local teams despite the challenges of racism, violence and threats made against him and the teens on his team. A stand-up-and-cheer kind of film.

Hotel Rwanda: The true story of hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina who housed over a thousand Tutsi refugess during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda. A really amazing story of how the lives of people are affected by the genocide, political corruption and violence taking place all around them. Really opens your eyes to what happens in places other than the vanilla lives most of us lead.

The Help: Who, at this point , hasn't heard of The Help? I read the book when it first came out, before anyone was talking about it and I recently saw the movie. The book was great, but the movie put a face on the people and made them real. The women in the movie made you laugh and cry and feel. Laced with humor, it was still really about seeing how black maids were treated, and even though it's a movie and we've heard this story before, it's still heartbreaking. To know people treated black domestic workers (especially in the South) this way and to know that racism is still alive and people who are domestic help or migrant workers, are still treated this way, makes one wonder what goes on in the heads of those who do it.

The last category of black films that I enjoy are what I call the "girlfriend films", or ones where relationships are explored. I love how black girls talk to each other, dig at each other, support each other and call each other out when they're doing wrong.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back: Everyone wanted to get their groove back after seeing Taye Diggs. A fun movie, with a great chick flick theme - love and romance on a beautiful tropical island with a strapping twenty-year old.

Waiting To Exhale: There's nothing better than a girlfriend flick, and this girlfriend flick takes the cake - nobody does girlfriend better than these women. Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Lela Rochon? So perfect. So fun. All set to a great soundtrack.

Jumping The Broom: I knew I wanted to see this as soon as I saw the coming attractions, but reading about the screenwriter, Arlene Gibbs, on Bleeding Espresso's blog sealed the deal. Two black families, from different economic backgrounds, come together on Martha's Vineyard for a wedding. Funny and delightful...with a gorgeous cast.

Something New: Gorgeous Sanaa Lathan falls in love with gorgeous Simon Baker? A fun romantic comedy that tackles the issue of interracial romance. That's still an issue?? This pairing is perfect and anyone would be lucky to find a romance like theirs. Yeah, yeah, I's a movie. But still.

Love & Basketball: Girl. Boy. Basketball. This combines my love of sports movies and my love of a chick flick. Plus, it's got one helluva soundtrack. And yes, every time I mention a soundtrack, it does mean I own it. This one gets a lot of play on my iPod. "I'll Go" by Donell Jones is one of my all-time favorite songs.

Love Jones: Nia Long is beautiful in this movie, and the relationship explored in it can echo feelings one has when trying to figure out if what you're in is real or just for fun.

Above The Rim: I remember liking this movie when I saw it which is why it makes my list, but I think what I liked most is that Tupac was in it and it has a kick-ass soundtrack.

Daddy’s Little Girls: Idris Elba (Can you say gorgeous?) plays a down-on-his-luck mechanic trying to keep his three girls from being taken away from him. A beautiful attorney takes his case, they fall in love and it becomes a lovely, romantic story. I'm a sucker for mushy.

Well, if you haven't seen any of these, this list should keep you busy for a while. Next on my list is the new Tyler Perry flick, "
Good Deeds". The coming attractions look good enough to add it to my list right now.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Just What I Need
Waterfront Dining
The Best Is Yet To Come
It’s Not Just A Medicinal Oil After All
Tracy Hilltop
Calming The Flatulent Tiger

Thursday, February 23, 2012

This Could Be Very Confusing For Men

Not that I'd think they'd mind - I'm sure they'd be happy with either pussy. (Photo found on Pinterest)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
The King Of Thrift
Dances With Sheepskin
The Seat You Offer To Your Arch Enemy
The Man With The Silver Handbag
Silver Snowscape
Let Go Let Flow

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

How To Make A Mustache Famous

I came to know about Orange County Choppers about ten years ago, just after their television show debuted. At the time, I was dating a guy who was into motorcycles and when he was watching the show, I'd often just sit and watch it with him (but not really by choice).

When I heard "Orange County", I just assumed they were in California, but then I saw something on the show, on one of their bike trailers or something, that had "Rock Tavern, New York" painted on the side. Rock Tavern was ten miles from my Dad's house! In the county I grew up in! When we went to visit, we just drove up to their shop, went inside and looked around. It was actually the Orange County Ironworks building - the shop where Paul Sr. ran his steel manufacturing business out of.

The Orange County Choppers part looked as if it were an afterthought, an area hastily set up for bike building. But it was the exact shop they did all the filming in. The girl in the office told us we were welcome to look around. When we asked about Paul Sr. and Jr. she told us they were in Daytona for bike week. Too bad we didn't get to meet them, but we were in their shop, which was just as cool.Ed and I recently went to their
their new shop new shop, located in Newburgh, NY. From what I know (which isn't much since I don't watch the show anymore), Paul Sr. and Paul Jr. have had their spats and don't work together anymore, so this shop is run by Sr. and his staff (as long as Sr. keeps paying the bills). The place is ENORMOUS!!!

In the photos below, you can see the size of the building (click to enlarge). The two top photos are the side of the building you see from Route 17K, the third photo is the building from the back, and the fourth photo is what it looks like as you approach from their driveway. I was in awe, as the building is actually that impressive. The side of the building is all glass with the OCC logo, as is the front of the building - which you can see in the first photo of this blog post.
The showroom is impressive, with t-shirts and sweatshirts and motorcycle gear and helmets and sunglasses and mugs and baseball caps. Everything in every color and every size you can imagine - they have onesies for babies and 4XL shirts for big boys. Amazing. We talked briefly to one of the employess and she made us aware of a viewing area that was open to the public - a hallway that runs along the length of the shop, with windows for watching the guys build bikes and the filming that they do. The girl said they usually film Monday through Friday from 8-5. She said Sr. was there earlier in the day and sometimes you'll see them walking around in the retail area of the shop.

Around the perimeter of the showroom were several of the bikes they built. Really unique, shiny and beautiful under the lights. They showcased several of the theme bikes (like the Fire Bike in the second picture) and this really cool bicycle done in the shape of the OCC logo. You can see more of their bikes in the chopper gallery on their website.

I'm glad we were able to stop by and see the place - I might just have to start watching the show again.

As for Paul Jr. - who was one of my favorites on the show - he has his own gig now called Paul Jr. Designs. To me, he's the real creative force behind the bikes. He's the one who created the Orange County Choppers logo and he's got a mind that just oozes creativity. He's definitely got a gift and I love that he's continuing to do something he's clearly so good at.

I'm not sure how real hard-core bikers feel about these guys. I'm not much into the "biker" thing, they're just not my kind of crowd, but I do admire the art of creating. What these guys do is very artistic, and that's the part I like.

I also really like the Paul Sr. mustache t-shirt. I might have to go back and buy one.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Just Want Tiny Little Elephants To Massage My Earlobes

My friends left for Bangkok this week, going for their yearly wellness trip - which they've dubbed the Body Works Tour 2012. I'm jealous of all the massages and pampering they'll be getting, but that jealousy is quelled by the fact that it's 96 degrees and humid. Marlaina said it's even uncomfortable for her, which means if I were there, I'd be spending my entire trip in the hotel room. Or emergency room.

She asked if I wanted anything, so I've put in my order. I've requested a Thai silk purse and/or tote bag, anything that screams Thailand (but isn't made in China - I can get that here), and perhaps a pair of earrings that has an Asian theme to them - like the tiny elephants or serpents seen in the photo below.

I found the pictures of these earrings on this site, which features items from different regions around the world. I thought it might give me a good idea of what's available. I'm very excited to see what she's going to bring back - she's got great taste and has been there several times, so she knows where to look for the good stuff.

If she has time between the nine two-hour foot massages and fifteen one-hour body massages she has scheduled.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
App-solutely Crazy
NCIS Investigates The Kitchen Aftermath
Sometimes There Are FOUR Sides To A Story
Made With Pride
Coke Crushes The Competition
Tired And Mute

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pinwheels, Cartwheels, What's The Difference?

Tonight for dinner I made spaghetti with a quick tomato and basil sauce and after seeing beef top round steak for braciole in the grocery store (it seems they only sell it this way - sliced and ready to make into braciole - in New York), decided to make some braciole to go with it. Braciole is something that always reminds me of my childhood. My grandmother always made it, and so did my father.

After pounding the beef top round pretty thin, I stuffed it with chopped garlic, parsley and Locatelli cheese (pecorina-romano) - laying out the flattened beef and sprinkling each ingredient in layers - rolled it up, secured them with toothpicks and browned them in some olive oil.

While those were browning, I started the tomato sauce by sauteing some garlic in olive oil, throwing a few red pepper flakes in because Ed likes a little spice. Once the garlic was translucent, I added in my can of tomatoes. I bought Cento brand whole peeled tomatoes and just crushed them with my hand as I put them in. I seasoned it with a little salt and pepper, added a little bit of water and let it simmer.

After the braciole was browned, I also added it to the sauce. In order for the braciole to be its most tender, you'll want to let it simmer for about two hours - that'll add a real nice meat flavor to your sauce too - but I didn't have two hours, so even though it was good, the meat was a little less tender than it could have been. Just before I was ready to serve it, I took the braciole out, added some fresh basil and simmered for about five minutes, letting that flavor incorporate a bit.

Before serving, I added my pasta and tossed it all together. When I plated it, I sliced the braciole, laying the pinwheels on top of the mound of pasta and then sprinkled it with some freshly grated Locatelli cheese.

Ed was over the moon - he loved the fresh taste of the tomato basil sauce, he loves pasta and he does cartwheels when there is meat included in a meal. I totally scored!

You can score too - get the recipe to print out HERE.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Maybe You Left It On Mars
The Art Of A French Cooking Friend
Eddie Supervises Friday
Squeaky Clean
Rushing No More
My Constant Gardner

Sunday, February 19, 2012

I'd Like Some Snow For Dessert

Yesterday I got in touch with my cousin to let him know we were in town - I was hoping that he'd be around and not traveling for work - when he heard we'd be here for a few days he invited us right away to join them for dinner today. What I didn't know was that he also invited my other cousin and their kids, and his parents, my Aunt and Uncle. I haven't seen any of them in almost three years. It was a wonderful surprise!

It's a long time to go without seeing family, but honestly it doesn't really feel that long because they send pictures of the kids several times a month and we email, text, and talk on the phone. But nothing beats hugging my Aunt Ronni and smelling her Chanel No. 5, hearing my Uncle Tony call me "Cie", his nickname for me, and watching the faces of the kids as they marvel at the truck. I always love being in New York; just crossing the state line makes me so happy, and seeing my family made it extra-special.

I was hoping for some snow, but the weather has been very mild for this time of year - crisp, but not freezing - which makes it kinda hard for Ed to keep his promise to take me snow tubing.

Dinner with family was great, but bring on the snow, please!!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Greatest Love Of All

Today they bury Whitney Houston. What an absolute shame, this loss of such a talented life.Late yesterday afternoon just as it was getting dark, Ed and I drove through Newark planning to pass the New Hope Baptist Church, where the services for Whitney Houston are taking place today. My master plan was to park the truck somewhere in the area and then get as close to the service as I could. A semi-truck in Newark, as big as it is, is ignored. And I doubt anyone suspects the driver of an 18-wheeler to be stalking a celebrity funeral. Odd as it may sound, we went unnoticed in the truck - probably more so than if we were trying to get close in a car. Hanging out the window of a car with a camera? Total sore thumb. Scoping out the scene from the seat of a big rig? We blend.

The great thing about the truck is you can see everything from the height of the cab seats. But its sheer size certainly creates a challenge when trying to creep through the tiny streets of Newark, circling Rutger's University, trying to get close to the block where a spectacle was going to be taking place. But Ed was behind the wheel and if there's one thing I know about Ed - he can do anything.

Since this area is pretty truck friendly (unlike miserable California), there were no restrictions prohibiting us from being on those surface streets. Speaking of California - the odd thing about this week is that we were there when Whitney died, thirty miles from her hotel in Beverly Hills. And then yesterday, we delivered our load nine miles from where her funeral service is going to be. On the trip here, I listened to Whitney songs on my iPod, as if I were traveling along with her.

Too many artists I've listened to - mostly R & B - have died in the last few years (Teena Marie, Amy Winehouse, Teddy Pendergrass, Nickolas Ashford, Michael Jackson). But Whitney was different for me. She meant more to me than Michael Jackson, believe it or not. Oh sure, Michael Jackson was an iconic and his music filled my childhood, but Whitney's music filled my teen years and my early twenties...where memorable events often had a Whitney Houston soundtrack to them.

I was twenty-five when The Bodyguard came out - that movie has one of my favorite soundtracks. Of course, I Will Always Love You is an incredible ballad, done like only Whitney can do it. But I also happen to love the song in the following video, I Have Nothing. That voice.

This next song was undoubtedly sung by many women who found their man stepping out on them. And you know what? She's right. We made it anyway.

And who thought Whitney could do Chaka better than Chaka? This next song is an anthem. It's empowering. Inspiring. I love those little girls dancing. I love that part of it is filmed in black and white. I love that Whitney is pregnant. And I love that Chaka Khan, Valerie Simpson of Ashford & Simpson, T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli from TLC, and her very own mother Cissy Houston appear in the video.

Pure Whitney. A beautiful woman. A talented woman. A loveable woman. A troubled woman. A memorable woman.

Every woman.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Step It Up
It May Not Be EVERY Day You Learn Something New, But It’s Certainly True Of THIS Day
Dreams Of Do-It-Yourself Dolloping Come True
Rest In Peace Sweet Green Eyed Beauty
George And Ira
Zip It Up!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Many Thanks To Those Of You Who Come To Peer Through My Windshield

While Ed was driving through New Jersey, I was looking at the setting sun through the windshield and thinking. My thoughts were about my readers and how thankful I am to have people out there who take the time to stop by my blog.

Even if I only post a picture, I know you're looking at it. Even if you don't comment, I know you're reading. And it's great - great because I know that there are people out there who come here to see what I've posted and that makes me feel wonderful.

So I want to say a big THANK YOU to all of you, wherever you are. I love when you comment but I love just as much knowing you're lurking. I'm incredibly overjoyed when one of you writes to me - to ask a question, make a personal comment or sometimes to tell me I've inspired you to do something - cook, travel, explore. Whatever it is, I'm always thrilled to hear it.

Sometimes there's not much going on to write about, sometimes I only have time to sleep and take a picture. But whatever it might be, thanks again for inspiring me to keep producing content, no matter what it might be, for the seventh year in a row.

Keep it up! And know that you're VERY appreciated!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cheap And Accessible

I don't know anything about wine. In fact, I don't even drink. I wish I did, because then I'd definitely have a thing - something to do in each state - like go to wine tastings! The only thing I use wine for is cooking, but because we aren't allowed to have alcohol in the truck, the number of times I buy wine on the road is...absolutely zero. I can't even do a good Chicken Marsala out here - I can do a mock one, but not the real thing.

I do love to cruise the wine aisles though, and since I don't go out of my way to go into an actual liquor store, my cruising tends to take place in grocery stores. The wine section of this store - Ralph's in Long Beach, California - was comprised of several aisles. I love to look at all the bottles - the shapes, the labels, the color of the wine, where they're from. A lot of them, as you can see by some of the price tags, are incredibly inexpensive. There were pricier ones, but since I was just looking it didn't really matter.

Since we can't have alcohol while working, we'll have to ditch the idea of wine tastings, but after the visit to the cheese shop, I might have to consider cheese tastings.

That's the kind of thing I can totally get into.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
What’s In A Name?
Missing The Day
Shameless Self Promotion
Dwarfed By A Behemoth Of The Sea
Hudson River Solitude

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Celebrate With A Wild Desire

A poem for Valentine's Day written by my favorite Victorian Era poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

I Love You
I love your lips when they’re wet with wine
And red with a wild desire;
I love your eyes when the lovelight lies
Lit with a passionate fire.
I love your arms when the warm white flesh
Touches mine in a fond embrace;
I love your hair when the strands enmesh
Your kisses against my face.

Not for me the cold calm kiss
Of a virgin’s bloodless love;
Not for me the saint’s white bliss,
Nor the heart of spotless dove.
But give me the love that so freely gives
And laughs at the whole world’s blame,
With your body so young and warm in my arms,
It sets my poor heart aflame.

So kiss me sweet with your warm wet mouth,
Still fragrant with ruby wine,
And say with a fervor born of the South
That your body and soul are mine.
Clasp me close in your warm young arms,
While the pale stars shine above,
And we’ll live our whole young lives away
In the joys of a living love.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Powerful Stuff
Falling In Love With Ugly
A Love Like This Can Know No Death
Peace To This House
The Sultan Of Love
It’s Even Better Than Arbor Day

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Roaring Forties Tasmanian Devil Of A Blue

We visited the Belmont Shores neighborhood again this weekend, this time to check out a cheese shop. Did you hear me? A shop that specializes in cheese. Oh My God. It was a small shop but the two glass cases they had were jam packed with cheeses from all over the world.

And they let you taste anything you want. We couldn't really decide, because how is it possible to decide which one you want when you are faced with so many choices? I asked the girl who worked there to suggest a few types and she did. I can't even name what they were, but they were delicious.
I read several of the cards describing the cheeses - nutty, soft, ultra creamy, tart, tangy, earthy, grassy, herbal, buttery, woodsy, moist, sweet. Who the hell knows what all that means? Would I like an earthy cheese? Does it taste like dirt? What about grassy? Nutty?

I wound up buying a piece of the Roaring Forties Blue which was featured on their website (photo below from their website). Isn't it beautiful? It's Australian - from Kings Island Dairy in Tasmania. The description says, "matured in wax, moist, sweet, tangy, good with honey, nuts, dried fruit". It was $21.50 a pound, but I didn't need that much, I only bought enough to make the following recipe.

I'm going to make a recipe I found in the
Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook - it's called Blue Cheese Pizza with Caramalized Onions. It's similar to the one I made with goat cheese, but I think this blue cheese is going to make this pizza ROCK. Here's the recipe:
BLUE CHEESE PIZZA with Caramalized Onion
6 tablespoons extra-virgin oliveoil
2 1/2 pounds onions, halved and thinly sliced
1 large sweet apple, peeled and cut into thin wedges
3/4 pound store-bought or homemade pizza dough
8 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

In a large skillet, heat 4 tablespoons of the oil over low heat. Add the onions, cover, and cook, stirring occassionally, until tender, about 25 minutes.

Uncover the onions and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Stir in the apple, season with salt to taste, and cook until the apple is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 500°F with a rack set in the lowest position.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll the dough out to a 14-inch round. Transfer the dough to a large baking sheet and brush the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Scatter the caramelized onion-apple mixture over the top, leaving a 1-inch border all around. Scatter the cheese and nuts on top. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the crust is crisp and the cheese has melted.

Wow. I cannot WAIT to try this!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Waiter! There’s A Beer In My Soup!
I’d Rather Go Naked Than Wear Wolf
Eddie Getting His Licks Friday
The Place Is In Ruins
Winter Shadows
The Angels Of The New York D.O.T.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dreams Explored Over Dinner

Can you count all the masts in this photo? No, I didn't think so. This is the Where's Waldo of Ed's world. His dream is to look for Waldo among the hundreds of boats you see here - the fun part being seeing all the boats, and not actually finding Waldo. Every time we're in a coastal area with anything that floats, Ed is out there salivating over it.

If he could put a mast on Tom Sawyer's raft and sail the Intercoastal Waterway, he'd be in heaven. He'd be alone - because I wouldn't be going with him - but in heaven. I don't really have any desire to sail around the world, but Ed would do it in a heartbeat. Whenever we're near boats, he's calling to find out what the slip fees are, walking the docks, taking pictures, checking out the nearest West Marine store. He loves it.

I could love it, but it would require a written contract that would ensure I wouldn't have to do anything boat related - no hoisting of masts, no swabbing of decks, nothing on the port or starboard side, no asking me to come about.

If you want me to make you a sandwich, get you a cup of coffee, pour you a frosty beverage, fine. Rinse the seawater out of your bathing suit, fold your signal flags, read you a passage from Moby Dick, fine. But anything that remotely resembles "working a ship", I am not doing. I may change my mind in the future, but right now - and especially after just seeing a documentary which featured the Old Sow whirlpool, I won't be going out in any open waters anytime soon.

Tonight I'll be making Shrimp Scampi for dinner. That's my contribution to the vast world of what can be found in it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A Nodding Donkey On The Hill

One of the many pumpjacks that dot the Signal Hill area in Long Beach, California. They're everywhere - next to Starbucks, behind grocery stores, in the Home Depot and Target parking lots, next to Jack-in-the-Box, in residential areas. It's odd to see them while going about daily business - in other areas where I've seen them, like Texas for instance, they're in the middle of nowhere and the entire place smells like crude oil.

Not so in Long Beach; in Long Beach they just nod to you as you drive by.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
What A Croc
Flash Of Pole
They Hire ‘Em Young These Days
Setting Sail At Sunset
Happy Bee
It’s Not Unusual

Friday, February 10, 2012

Fun, Fresh, Fabulous Little Neighborhood

The Fresh Produce clothing store on Second Avenue in the Belmont Shore neighborhood of Long Beach. Cute area, lots of shops and restaurants, people watching galore!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
What Do Get When The Daily Rant Meets The Plum Trucker? A Plum Crush!
Industrial Morning
Sunset On Venice
4 YEARS AGO: Knots And Nautical Miles
What Is The World Coming To When The Girls Next Door Think They Are Fat??

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

He Might Not Be Able To Move A Rubber Tree Plant, But He Can Certainly Get Transportation In California To Come To A Screeching Halt

Just what makes that little old ant, think he’ll move that rubber tree plant, anyone knows an ant can’t, move a rubber tree plant, but he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes…
~ High Hopes, Frank Sinatra

The bee trip went well - no swarms, no issues, no problems, no nothing - until we got to California, that is. As if California isn't pain in the ass enough with all their rules and regulations - special speed limits for trucks, no idling laws, CARB, kingpin-to-rear axle length restriction - they also have a pretty strict agricultural inspection. This isn't something we'd normally care about because we never haul live plants, livestock or insects.

Well, except for these bees.

We made it through the Arizona agricultural checkpoint just fine - apparently, the only reason they'll pull you over in Arizona is if you're an immigrant or look like an immigrant - they don't care about bees or other insects.

California though, is a different story. As soon as we got to the agricultural station, they asked us to pull over for inspection. They came out with their little beekeeper hats and looked over the load. Ed had to loosen the straps on the load and pull back the netting. Then, since it was dark, they took their flashlights and went to town. They were so intent in their search, you'd think they were looking for someone who hasn't screwed Lindsay Lohan - which of course they couldn't find.

What they did find, were ants. Jackpot! So they issued us a "Notice Of Rejection" which stated, "Bee Colonies (animal) violated the California Food and Agricultural Code, Section 6461.5, Live Pests. Bee Colonies are infested with live ant, and are prohibited entry pending identification. Ant Free Certification is invalid and expired. Insect tentatively identified as "C" rated ant via digital imaging system. Sent to a Destination under a 008."

008? The British Secret Service is involved? Wow - how elusive is this "C" rated ant?

OK, so James Bond and his crew weren't involved, but what this document meant for us was spelled out in their final comment: "Bee colonies can not be offloaded at destination without prior authorization from the County Agricultural Commissioner's Office."

Easier said than done.
When we called the customer to tell him the news, he wasn't very happy. After saying, "You're in, right?" making sure we got into the state, he told us "Don't worry about it, it doesn't mean anything, they do this all the time, you just need to get here and unload." Then he added, "It's raining, it's cold, I have a plane to catch, and I don't have time for this."

Oh, reaaaallly? Well, since the document we signed said if we offloaded the bees without permission, we'd have a misdemeanor on our record, he wasn't getting any bees until that happened. And wow, what a holy bee shit-storm that unleashed.  The county inspector wouldn't be in until eight that morning, it was only six when we talked to him, and this guy was hot to get his bees.

So as usual, I wound up doing not only my job, but someone else's job also. This happens so frequently, I should get paid extra. So at eight, I started dialing.

I called the County Agriculture Commissioner in the first county to get someone to inspect the bees before we unloaded, but midway through the back and forth of the calls, the customer decided he wanted us to unload two hours north of the original location which meant I had to call the next county over get them to come out to inspect the bees.

When I gave them the unload address, they told me that it sounded like I'd be on the county line, but not in their county, in the next county over. I felt like I was playing musical counties. When I called the last County Agriculture Commissioner's office, I ultimately reached someone who knew exactly where I was going and what I needed to do and by the end of the conversation, I knew more about California county lines than I needed to.

After a few more phone calls, we met the guy who was going to unload us and followed him several miles into the middle of a barren field. Two guys swooped in and unloaded the truck, stacking the boxes in a "quarantine area" for inspection. We got permission from the County Agriculture Commissioner to start unloading, saying they'd send someone out to check the bees. We never did see the guy, but permission was all we needed to unload, so that's what we did.

It would have been nice to have had all the paperwork in order to avoid this delay, especially since they do this all the time. In the end, they got their bees, I assume the guy was able to catch his plane, and we didn't get any violations from the state of California. A win for everyone.

Except this guy.
We made our delivery, on time and in perfect condition, and we got the hell out of there. I'm not saying we'll never do bees again, but if we're heading to California, we know what we need to get in and who to call if we have a problem.

And just to be clear, I don't have a problem with the agricultural inspections at all. In fact, I think it's essential that they check for pests that can contaminate crops and cause problems - problems with produce that increase costs for everyone. But who would have thought one little ant could cause such a ruckus?

Oh, the rubber tree plant probably knew, but it was likely being held captive at the agriculture checkpoint.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Business As Usual In America
Teeny Tiny Cows Are So Delicious With A Side Of Teeny Tiny Tortellini
Sleeping Atop Signal Hill
Eddie Reads A Book Friday
Finally! Someone Who Thinks I’m God’s Gift To Man
Pool Shark