Monday, December 14, 2015

Boston Tea Party

Earlier this week, I heard something about the scheduled re-enactment of the  Boston Tea Party.  Hmm, I thought. That sounds like something I should check into.  Yes, yes, I know that the Boston Tea Party wasn't truly a tea party.  As we all learned in school, it was a rebellion against the tax that had been imposed on tea, in 1793.  Three ships owned by the East India Company sailed into Boston.. full of tea. The colonists wouldn't let the ships unload their cargo... and then they boarded the ships and threw the tea overboard.

But still ---  Tea Party.

So I quickly found my way to the website - and just as quickly discovered that the event is held on December 16th every year, and that for this year, the event was sold out.

You're kidding me.  A tea party -- and I'm not invited???

But before I could get too pouty, I found myself on a page with a short history of the tea party, and while I already knew what it was about, I figured I'd take a gander.

And I discovered that one of the captains of one of the ships had pretty much been caught between a rock and a hard place.  The colonists wanted him to leave, and he was ready to return to England and let the East India Company sort things out...  you know, one of those 'above my paygrade' sorts of things.  Unfortunately, the Governor had announced that no one was allowed to leave Boston Harbor, without his permission.  The captain who wanted to leave asked for permission, but of course the Governor turned him down. The entrance to Boston Harbor was protected by an armed fort, and it would have been impossible to sail out of the harbor without being fired upon. So there the captain sat, and the other two ships sat with him.

That was very interesting, and it added another layer to what I thought had been a pretty simple situation.

But still -- no room at the Tea Party for me?

And then I read on a bit further.  You know those colonists?  This was no hot-headed impulse sort of thing. They planned things out, and they had a number of meetings before they dumped the tea.  There were only about five or six hundred registered voters, but the organizers knew that they were due to get quite a crowd at the meeting, so they announced that the first meeting would be in Faneuil Hall - which would accommodate about 1300 people.  But as the time for the meeting approached, and the crowd grew well beyond expected numbers, the organizers quickly adjourned the meeting and reconvened at the Old South Meeting House. Estimates vary, but it's pretty clear that there were at least five THOUSAND people at that meeting, and the subsequent meeting were a bit more.

Oh my.  The fact that there was no room at the meeting to plan the Tea Party kind of trivializes the fact that there's no room at the Tea Party itself.

Still.  No room at the Tea Party for me?  I think I'll pout and go have a cup of tea.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Trump Solution

I just posted about Donald Trump calling radio stations and attempting to make his statements and present his views, without regard to what the program hosts wanted to do or what the format of the show was (Go to Break!).
And while I don't typically get political in my teapot musings, there's something here that I just can't keep quiet about.

We all know that Trump has expressed some very strong opinions about Isis, and Muslims, and immigrants, and a whole bunch of other topics.  And that's ok.  We want our aspiring politicians to let us know their positions. 
Quite recently, Trump was on a radio program - Morning Joe - and he was asked some questions, and he gave some answers.  
Now, I don't want to take things out of context, so I'm going to give you the background, and then  I'll quote part of the transcript of the show.  

Donald Trump has very publicly proposed a ban on Muslims traveling to the US, and he reiterated this position on Morning Joe. He said there would certainly be exceptions, that this would not apply to Muslims who are US citizens, or are here for sporting events, and that this would only be temporary. Willie Geist, one of the co-hosts of Morning Joe, asked Trump how the ban was going to be enforced. Willie had to ask the questions a couple times before he got an answer, but that's how politicians are. Willie pointed out that a passport doesn't reflect religion, and Trump agreed that questioning would need to take place.  And the discussion continued as follows:

GEIST: And a customs agent would ask a person his or her religion? 
TRUMP: That would be probably -- they would say are you Muslim? 
GEIST: And if they said yes, they would not be allowed in the country? 
TRUMP: That's correct.

OH    MY     GOSH    
How could we not have seen this before??  All we have to do is ASK people.  
When my TSA Precheck expires, I was going to apply for the Global Online Enrollment System.  Sure, the GOES costs $100, instead of  the $85 I paid for Precheck, but I thought it would be worth it -- clearly I was wrong. Because all I have to do is step up to the TSA counter and state "I'm a good person and I'm not going to blow up the plane."
We can get rid of all criminal attorneys and judges, because we just have to ask the accused "Did you do it?"  And we certainly won't need juries to try to figure out who's telling the truth, because everyone will tell the truth if you just ask them the question.
And I don't have to show my ID when I write a check or use a credit card, I'll just state that I am who I say I am. 

I'm feeling pretty foolish right now, because I would have assumed that a bad person just might consider lying, because - well - because they're bad.  Gee, it's really a shame that no one thought to ask Dzhokhar Tsarnaev if he was going to leave a bomb at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, or Adam Lanza if he was going to shoot twenty children at Sandy Hook. We could have avoided a lot of grief and suffering if someone had just thought to ask those questions.

I mean -- surely if you asked an Isis guy "are you a Muslim", he's going to say yes, right?  And then we don't let him in the US, and our problems are solved.  Too bad we didn't have the Trump Solution before, and thank goodness we have it now.

Oh.         Wait.

You know, I'm just not convinced that al qaeda  members are going to be truthful.  Or Isis members, for that matter.  Or Daesh members.  I mean, sure, the truthful, honest, reasonable Muslims will answer yes... and so we keep them out -- just temporarily, of course.  But the Muslims who are willing to lie (cheat, steal, kill).... we're going to let them in to our country, because they will answer No to the Trump Solution Question.

Gee, Mr. Trump.  Your solution is not one that solves any of my problems.  

I'm going to have a cup of tea, but I'm not going to invite Mr. Trump to join me.  You see... while I'm willing to listen to opposing views, I have no time for stupid people.

Go to Break!

I have something that I just have to share with you.  Actually, several somethings.  In fact, this was going to be one post, but it got far too long...  so this will be one of two.  And it's important, so pay attention.

MSNBC has a morning radio show called Morning Joe.  The program is hosted by Joe Scarborough, Mika Brezinski, and Willie Geist.  In the words of the website, the show "features interviews with top newsmakers and politicians and in-depth analysis of the day's biggest stories".  Yesterday, Donald Trump was on the program.  In case you haven't see the coverage of this, I want to tell you what happened.

First... one of the hosts asked Trump a question.  Instead of answering the question, Trump started trumpeting his own agenda.  Of course, we see this from politicians all the time.  But this time, after repeated warnings, Joe Scarborough went to commercial.

Wait, I see from the expression on your face that you don't get it.  So let me fill in some more information.  Trump was not an invited guest or a scheduled guest, he called in on his own.  Well, I suppose that's ok. His agenda certainly matches the show's programming.
And then he started talking. Well, that's ok too.  He is a politician, we expect them to talk.
But that's where things changed.

You see, one of the hosts asked Trump a question -- which is the typical format for the show.  Trump ignored the question, and continued with his own agenda.  The host tried to repeat the question, and Trump just talked right over her.  The host kept asking the question, Trump kept acting as if he'd been invited to say whatever he wanted.

And that's when the wonderful thing happened!  Joe Scarborough told Trump he couldn't just talk, he had to let the hosts ask questions... and Trump kept talking.  Scarborough threatened to go to break if Trump wouldn't quit talking... and Trump kept talking.  So Scarborough said to the director or whoever  - "Go to break".     He had to say it a couple times, but the show went to a commercial break!!

Woo Hoo and Hubba Hubba!!!!

Surely I'm not the only one who gets tired of watching debates and interviews where the politicians won't answer the questions and won't quit talking, and won't follow the rules.  These people are too old to be spanked... but some sort of discipline needs to be imposed, or we have chaos.  To go off-air, to go to commercial break, when a politician won't follow the rules, is an excellent form of discipline, in my opinion.  

I watch The Today Show most mornings, and I'm generally happy with the interviewing skills of the news anchors.  But on more than one occasion I've stood there and shouted to the television - 'That's not what he asked', or 'That's not an answer', or 'Quit interrupting her'.    Even the toughest interviewers can get walked on and pushed around by the person being interviewed.. and most often the pushy, non-cooperative interviewee is a politician.  Politicians have enough opportunities to present their own agendas  in their own ways.. when they are being interviewed, they should answer the questions being answered.

Yes, I know we had the recent incident where the moderator's questions were - well - really stupid, irrelevant and unimportant.  But we all  - including the politicians - know that most of the time, there's nothing wrong with the question.  It's just that the politician wants to put his or her own spin on the topic. And let's be honest, sometimes the politician simply doesn't want to answer the question.  

So let's get back to Morning Joe.  I don't listen to this program.  It's on earlier than I get up, and I don't listen to a lot of radio.  But I just might start.  Thanks to today's technology, I can access the broadcast of this show, any time I want.  I like the idea of somebody who insists that the rules be followed, and who shows that there are consequences to not following those rules.  I've seen the clip of incident with Trump a number of times, and I'm amazed at how many times Scarborough had to say "Go to Break" before it actually happened.  But I suspect that the person in charge of doing whatever happens to make commercial breaks, was caught off guard and was taken by surprise.  Or perhaps he thought Scarborough didn't mean it.    But Scarborough did mean it.  And the program went to commercial.  

Now, in all fairness to Trump, I feel compelled to point out that he hung around.  When the show returned to the air after the two minute commercial break, Trump was still there.  He responded to the questions that were posed (in a fashion), and he quit speaking over the hosts.  Not everyone would have done that. That doesn't mean he gets a free ride - I'm still going to hold him accountable for what he says (see my next post - The Trump Solution).

But I like the fact that this actually proves that Scarborough's approach was the right one.  The media has taken a lot of heat, more so every year, it seems.  But - all you media people - take note.  You can present information to the public, without allowing yourself to be bullied and walked on by the person you're trying to interview.

Hmmm, I wonder if Joe Scarborough is interested in running for political office?
I wonder if he drinks tea?  Well I do, and the kettle is whistling, so for now, I'm done.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Eye of the Beholder

We've all heard the phrase "Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder". During the Renaissance period, women were considered beautiful and sexy if they were somewhat plump.  In the 'Twiggy' era, extreme thinness was considered a sign of beauty. And today, we're mostly somewhere in the middle.  If you saw a Botticelli model walk by today, you'd likely think that she'd look much better if she lost some weight.

Whenever I hear the phrase 'Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder",  I think of  "Consider the source." When you really look at it, both phrases are saying the same thing, it's just that the one focuses on beauty, and the other deals with - well, everything else.  Just as you have to know the eye of the beholder, to know whether you're likely to agree with them, you can't blindly accept an opinion, without knowing who is rendering that opinion.

Let me show you what I mean.

I was recently at a barbecue, and someone offered me some of their cake.  "It's wonderful!" they said... "best cake ever".  I took a bite and had to work hard to not spit it out.  On the one hand, there was nothing wrong with the cake.  It was moist, and it was thoroughly cooked but not overcooked.  The problem was that the cake had a lot of coffee flavoring, and I don't like coffee.  The lesson, of course, was that I should have determined if the person rendering an opinion on the cake, shared my food likes and dislikes.. or at a minimum I should have been a bit more cautious before taking a big bite.

And of course this applies to far more than just beauty and food.  It applies to everything.

When someone asks me to recommend a book, I first ask them what sort of books they like.  As much as I enjoyed Lev Grossman's The Magician King, it doesn't make sense for me to recommend that to someone who mostly reads biographies.  And frankly, before they asked me for a recommendation, they should have asked me what I liked to read.  I've been doing some writing, and I'm looking for beta readers.  But for me to offer my writing to someone who doesn't read fiction, or only reads romance novels, would be a double waste of time.  My writing is fiction, and it is most certainly not romance.  It would be wasting their time to read it, because they wouldn't enjoy it.  And looking at their feedback would be a waste of my time, because their feedback would have no real value.  But there's a detail here that shouldn't be overlooked.  If you want a book recommendation from me, you shouldn't care what I write, you should only care what I read.

You don't have to be a beauty queen to judge a beauty contest  (I got that saying from my mother!), but I want to know what you consider to be beautiful.  You don't have to be a good cook, but I want to know what you like to eat, before I take your recommendation.  You don't have to make a good cup of tea... but that's because I'll make my own, thank you very much.  Some things you just have to do yourself.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A post-Thanksgiving post

In case you hadn't noticed, Thanksgiving was last week.  I certainly noticed - but then, it's my favorite holiday of the year.  One of the family members who was with us this year commented that he didn't care much for Thanksgiving, as he's not really into the food -- and I was astonished.  Nope, not because he isn't into food, but because that's what he thought Thanksgiving was about.  Oh sure, there are some recipes that only get pulled out once a year... but I cook a turkey several times a year, I make cranberries even more often than I make turkey, we had sweet potatoes just last night, and the squash souffle is a winter favorite. I'm even able to persuade my husband to make his homemade noodles a few times each year.  So, for me, Thanksgiving isn't about the food.

And it's also not about the Indians welcoming the Pilgrims.  And frankly, it's not even about giving thanks, not really.

For me, Thanksgiving is tied in with my early memories of the holiday. The memories include extended family gathering together. There was lots of hustle and bustle throughout the day, generally focused in the kitchen, and the kitchen at my grandparents' house was a warm and wonderful place to be. And then after the meal, the kitchen was once again full -- this time, with everyone helping to clean up.  No dishwashers in those days, of course, so there was plenty of work for everyone, between washing, rinsing, drying, and putting away the dishes.  Except that it didn't feel like work, because everyone was laughing and talking, and enjoying being together.  Sure, we cooked the food together, and we ate together, and we cleaned up together, but the food was just the excuse. That's what Thanksgiving is about... being together.

A couple days ago, someone asked me how many people we had at Thanksgiving, and I didn't know what to tell them.  There were eight of us who sat down for the main meal.  There were four others who had been invited, but were unable to join us for the main meal; we were very happy that they were able to join us later for dessert.  But there were also two people who were too far away to join us in person, so we skyped them in.  Yes, that's right.  We set the laptop up on the sideboard, and they planned their meal so that they began eating when we did. We included them in our conversations, and while it wasn't the same as having them there, it wasn't bad.
And then there was my dad.  This was our second Thanksgiving without him, but he was very much in everyone's thoughts, and we mentioned him, often.  We have so many memories about Thanksgiving that involve him, that I don't think it will ever be possible to get through Thanksgiving without at least a handful of stories about dad.
And last but not least, it's not possible for me to go through a Thanksgiving celebration without my grandmother.  She is the major reason why Thanksgiving is so important to my family.  She always remarked how wonderful it was to have a holiday where the only purpose was to give thanks, and she passed her love of the holiday on to the rest of us.

So - how many people did we have at Thanksgiving?  A lot.
Is Thanksgiving about giving thanks, or being together?  And if it's not about the food, is it at least about the memories that are invoked as we prepare and enjoy the meal, and even clean up after the meal? Yes, yes, and yes.

And so, as I said at the beginning, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.  I hope your Thanksgiving was a good one, whatever that means to you.. whether you enjoyed the food, or the company, or even the shopping.

And of course, each Thanksgiving creates new memories.  I think I'll have a cup of tea, as I consider this year's memories.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The granola bar recipe

granola bars

Recently, friends shared some granola bars with us... granola bars that their daughter had made.  I don't mind a good granola bar... my husband isn't a big fan of granola bars.  But these granola bars were WONDERFUL!  They were chewy and oaty and nutty and not too sweet.  These granola bars were the KING of all granola bars.  The family was leaving on vacation the next day, but they were kind enough to accommodate my request for the recipe, and they sent it to me before they left.  Being only a week away from my own vacation, I saved the recipe, put it aside, and then promptly forgot about it.

But last week I was reminded of the recipe, and more importantly, those granola bars, and I went back to the recipe.

Now, I've posted about recipes before, so you know that I like the rules and the formulas, even though I occasionally go 'off-track'.  But I like the rules and formulas  (yes, I know, I already said that, but I really like rules and formulas).  This recipe was more about going off-track than providing any sort of rules or formulas.  The ingredients list included entries like '2 or 3 cups', and it had more items that were optional than items that were required.  And in case the reader of the recipe was still feeling a bit constrained, at the end of the recipe was a long list of ingredients that you might want to substitute or add in.  This was NOT a Laurie-sort of recipe. The formulas were fuzzy and the rules were almost nonexistent.  The friends' daughter had included a couple of comments about things she'd done differently -- this did NOT help.

But boy oh boy, those had been some really outstanding granola bars.

So I put aside my pouty face, went to the cupboard, and dragged out all sorts of mandatory, optional, suggested and implied ingredients.  I went to work, trying to be the free-wheeling, unconstrained being that I am most definitely not.
And I was worried.
I was worried that we might like the granola bars and I would never know how to repeat them again, and I was worried that we might not like the granola bars and I wouldn't know what not to do, in the event I ever made a second stab at this.  So as I added each ingredient - listed or not - and as I measured the ingredients I was adding  (really?  2 or 3 cups?  what am I supposed to do with that suggestion?), I made detailed notes about what I was doing.

The resulting granola bars were BETTER than wonderful!  They were the TZAR of all granola bars! They were more than outstanding, they were phenomenal!

There now, see why it was such a good idea that I made a note of everything I did!

And then I realized that I'd forgotten to add the shredded coconut.  And the shredded coconut would have been really good.  I mean ... Really.  Good.

So.  Apparently I'm going to have to try this recipe again.  Except that this time, I'll simply use MY notes of ingredients and measures... and just go a tiny bit off-track and add a handful of shredded coconut.  Yeah, that will work.

By the way, in case you were wondering, those granola bars went great with a nice cup of tea.

I don't generally post recipes here, but it only seems fair, this time.  So in case you're interested, here is the original recipe.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A real fish story

A few weekends ago, we were looking at a bad marine forecast.  Sure, the onshore weather was going to be fine, but some offshore storm moving up the east coast was going to leave us with choppy seas, and significant winds.We knew better than to try to get to our favorite boating/fishing spots... but that still left us with plenty of alternatives.  We headed out on Saturday to an area that was somewhat protected.... but after getting tossed around, decided to head closer to our home port.  Conditions weren't unsafe, they were just unpleasant.

We let out the trolling rigs, and went up and down the shore a few times, catching small fish - below the legal limit.  All of those get tossed back into the water, with the admonition "Grow!"  After all, there's always next year.  :-)

But then --

We caught a 'keeper'.  Minimum size of 28"...  and this one was 34", well over the legal limit. What a magnificent fish!   We cleaned it up, took it home, and turned it into 5 dinner-sized packages.  4 went into the freezer, and the fifth we enjoyed that night.

Sunday, conditions on the water were no better - perhaps a bit worse.  But that was ok. Although the weather was choppy and it was a bit breezy, the day was warm, and it was pleasant being on the water. We returned to the location we'd ended up the day before. Once again, we caught some undersized fish, and returned all of those to the water.  Once, we even had two fish on the trolling rig at the same time!  But as we always told Dad -- No!  You cannot add up the totals.  The minimum size applies to each individual fish!

Our day was nearing an end... and we considered it a success.  No fish in the fishbox, but we'd had plenty on the hook, and we'd had an enjoyable day.

And then we caught one more.

Now, these are striped bass that we're fishing for.  They're a very powerful, muscular fish.  So even the 'schoolies', the undersized fish, are fun to catch.  But this last fish was far from a schoolie.  Even before we saw it, we knew this was a big one.

This last fish measured 36 inches.  That's right, 3 feet of fish!

But of course, we'd caught a 34" fish the day before.  And there's only two of us.  We like fish, we eat a lot of fish, but I'd just added 4 more meals to the freezer.

We looked at each other, we looked at the fish, and we threw this outstanding specimen of a fish back into the water.  We couldn't say "Grow"...  the fish was plenty big enough.  So as we threw the fish into the water, we called out "Be Free!"

We went home, feeling very good about ourselves.  And what do I do when I feel good?  Why, I have a cup of tea, of course.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Move Your Butts

Ok, people.... pet peeve time, here.

I've known a lot of smokers in my time - after all, doctors didn't begin to link lung cancer and cigarette smoking, until around 1950.  Even by 1960, only a third of all doctors believed that cigarette smoking was bad for you.  So when I was a child, a significant majority of the adults I knew, were smokers. And once someone becomes a smoker, it's very difficult to quit.

But this post isn't about those who began smoking before the risks were known, or those who began smoking long after the risks were known, or even the difficulties of quitting.

This post is about the NASTY and DISGUSTING  and INEXCUSABLE habit that some smokers have, of leaving their butts wherever they happen to be.

No, I'm not talking about a fire hazard.  Yes, I know that many such smokers will make the argument that the remains of a cigarette are biodegradable, so there's no reason why it shouldn't be ok to just leave the butt on the ground.  But I'm not buying that argument.

First, most cigarettes today have acetate filters.  That acetate filter takes many years to decompose.   That's not what I call biodegradable.

Next, that filter is full of a wide variety of toxic chemicals; after all, that's the purpose of the filter. Every time a smoker drops their cigarette butt into a storm drain, or on the street or in a gutter -  where the next rainstorm carries it into a storm drain, or on that nature trail, the wind and the rain carries that butt into the water system.  What happens then?  Those toxic chemicals leak out into the aquatic ecosystem.   Yes, the aquatic ecosystem is large.  Yes, one cigarette butt is small.  But there's not just one, they add up.

Dog owners aren't allowed to leave dog poop on the ground; we expect dog owners to pick up after their dogs.  And dogs aren't harmful to your health.

If the cigarette butt is cold enough that it can be left on the ground without causing a fire hazard, it's cold enough for the smoker to put it in his or her pocket.  If the thought of that makes you go ewwwww   --  well, that's what I do every time I see one of your butts on the ground.  And if you really don't want to put it in your pocket, then you can carry around a little plastic bag until you get home, just like dog owners do.

Yes, I do realize that there are some smokers who clean up after themselves... and this post is not aimed at them.  Re-read the beginning... this isn't about smokers, it's about smokers who leave their butts around.

I'd say I feel better now that I've had my little rant.  But I don't.  Because before I sit down to my much-needed cup of tea, I have to go clean up the cigarette butts that are in my yard.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Location, location, location

Ordinarily, the phrase 'location, location, location' is used to refer to real estate.  There's no real consensus on when the phrase was first used, or who coined it, but there is documented use of the phrase in 1926 in a real estate classified ad in the Chicago Tribune.   The point of the phrase is to emphasize the importance of location in the value of real estate.  You can renovate a house, you can put on an addition, and you can even raze the building to the ground and start over.  But without a decent location, you have a problem.  Oh sure, I suppose you can move a house... but that's a huge enterprise, and perhaps it only goes to show just how important location is.

I like my house, including it's location, but when I think of 'location location location', I think of eating dinner on the boat.  I've often said that being on the boat makes even a stale peanut butter sandwich taste like a wonderful gourmet meal.

And that's when things are ordinary.

Tonight, we grabbed a couple of salads, and headed out.  And things were far from ordinary.   They were truly and deliciously extraordinary.

Find that hard to believe??  Take a look...

Our first hint of what was to came, came when we were heading out the river...   the water was amazingly flat, and the sky was still.  Even the windmills were at a standstill

Then the sky began to take on a pinkish cast, with a teasing suggestion of an amazing sunset

but wait!   it wasn't just pinks, it was also golden orange!!

oh sure, the salads may have been ordinary.....

and we didn't bring dessert with us.

but that was ok... Mother Nature provided dessert 
the no-calorie kind, a dessert for the eyes and the soul

Did I have a cup of tea when I got home?  Of course I did.  What better way to end a beautiful dinner.

Monday, June 29, 2015

A second flash fiction challenge

Hmmm... I'm kind of getting addicted to these flash fiction challenges.  If you can call 'twice' getting addicted.  But I like the challenge.  Or - at least I've liked the last two.  But see, the thing is, you have to put a LINK to your story in a comment on the page that posted the challenge.. and this is the only place I have to link to.  If this goes on much longer, I'll start a separate page on teapot musings, to keep the challenge submissions separate from my usual posts... maybe.

This week's challenge  (well, actually the challenge was posted last week, but it's due this week) was to use a randomizer to choose a song title, and base a story of 1000 words or less, on the title (the actual words of the song were irrelevant).  I keep most of my music on Spotify these days, and I found a website that incorporates a randomizer.  You 'click here', and one of your songs pops up.  I got "Somebody that I used to Know", by WOTE (Walk off the Earth).  Pretty cool song, even better video.

Somebody that I used to Know

“Thanks, Charlie.”
I tossed the nickel and three pennies that the clerk had given me as my change into the dish labeled ‘take one, leave one’, grabbed the paper bag holding a couple of turkey sandwiches, some chips and two bottles of water, and walked out into the sunshine.
I was early.  It was just barely 11:00, the park was only two blocks away and I wasn’t scheduled to meet Lisa until noon, but that was ok.  I had some thinking to do.  I took the long way around to the bench where we were supposed to meet, which meant I turned right and walked counterclockwise on the path that went around the park.  But even so, I found myself sitting on the bench forty-five minutes before she was due to arrive.  I stared off into the distance, and started to let my mind wander when I became aware of someone else sitting down on my right side.  I had intentionally positioned myself near the middle of the bench so as to discourage anyone else from joining me.  I didn’t want any company now, and I most certainly wasn’t going to want any company once Lisa showed up. I turned to the interloper in annoyance and began to say “There’s another bench…” but even as I was raising my arm to point, I froze. For a moment it felt like there was no longer any oxygen in the air.
“Hey, Davey.”
I stared, speechless.
“Oh come on, bud, I know it’s been awhile, but I can’t believe you’ve forgotten my name.”
I squeezed my eyes shut, and then opened them.  But I was still looking at a young boy who was the spitting image of my best friend, Jack, exactly the way he had looked on the day I last saw him, nearly thirty years ago.  He was in those black jeans with the bleach stain on the bottom of the right leg, and that stupid Monty Python shirt he liked to wear all the time.  And as I looked closer, I was able to discern the faintest faded trace of the black eye I’d given him about a week before he’d left.
“There you go.  I knew it would come back to you.”
He always was a smart ass.
They'd done a great job finding this kid.  I looked around the park, trying to find the hidden camera crew and sound van.  But I couldn’t see them.  I looked back at the kid.
“What’s going on?”
“What’s going on, Davey boy, is that I need a quick word with you.”
Almost no one but Jack had called me Davey, and absolutely no one but Jack had ever called me Davey boy.  Ok, so if this wasn’t a prank, then it must be a hallucination.
And then he punched me in the shoulder.  Even at twelve he’d had a hell of a jab, and it hadn’t changed.  I rubbed my arm, thinking ok, so maybe it isn’t a hallucination.
“Hey?  What did you do that for?”
“Davey, I don’t have a lot of time.”  And then he laughed.  “Well, I kinda do, but I don’t have a lot of time to talk to you right now.  So I needed to get your attention.  You’ve got this decision you’re stewing over, and it’s a real big one in a global sense.  I’ve seen the outcome both ways, and it’s important that you make the right choice.  And the silly thing is that you know what you should do.  So just do it.”
“But how can you be here?”
He shook his head.  “Come on.  Do I have to remind you of all those times we talked about time travel?”
I just looked at him.
“Look, I told you I don’t have much time to talk to you.  Here’s the scoop.  We were right about some things, and wrong about others.  The bit about not running into yourself or you’d tear a hole in the fabric of time?  We were pretty much right about that.  But what we didn’t know was that when you visit people from your past, you show up exactly the way they last saw you.  And then there are all sorts of complicated rules about who you can visit, and for how long… which is why I don’t have much time. But the important thing is — this decision you’re pretending you haven’t already made?  Don’t overthink it.  Do it.”
“But how do you even know..?”
Jack sighed.  “Future.  Time travel.  And besides, did anyone ever know you as well as I did?”
Well, he had a point there.  “So when you and your folks moved away, is that when ....”
He looked at his watch.  “Sorry, bud.  Gotta go.  Maybe I can catch you later.”
Just then, I heard Lisa call out “David!”  I turned around and saw her strolling toward me, and I stood up to give her a hug.
“Who was that?” she asked.
I turned back around and watched a twelve year old boy run down the path and out of sight.
“Oh, just somebody that I used to know.”
She frowned and started to say something.  But I interrupted and pulled her down to join me on the bench.
“Look. I have something I need to tell you. I’ve been thinking about this a long time, and I know it’s the sort of thing we probably should have talked about and decided together, but it never felt like the right time to bring it up.  And now - well I just feel like there’s really no choice.”
She gave me a concerned look and started to talk, but I held a finger to her lips to quiet her.  I looked down the path where Jack had disappeared, looked back at my wife, took a deep breath, and said “I’ve been offered a position with Stephen Hawking.  And I’m going to take it.”

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Sex ....

....of zucchini blossoms

Yes, I realize that Same Sex Marriage is a BIG topic, what with the recent Supreme Court decision -- and yes I would agree that the Court's decision is important, both for what it says, and what it does not say ...  but that's not what I want to talk about right now.

I want to talk about my garden.  More specifically, I want to talk about my zucchini.  Well, my summer squash as well, but zucchini is a funnier word.  And even more specifically, I want to talk about my zucchini blossoms.

Last year my garden was overrun by deer.  While I like deer, I'd prefer that they ate wild plants, or even somebody else's garden -- just not my garden.  This year, I've used a combination of bird netting and strategic placement of tomato cages, and at least so far, I've been successful at keeping the deer away.

My garden isn't large, and the variety of veggies that I grow is limited.  I'm growing two different types of tomatoes, some peppers, cucumbers, and zucchini and summer squash.  Not only does everything seem to be doing well, but this may actually be my best garden ever.  I have lots of tomatoes - still green, of course, and even more flowers waiting to become tomatoes.  Similarly, my pepper plants have loads of flowers, and even several small baby peppers.  The cucumbers seem a bit behind schedule this year, but we've had an odd spring, and I have faith that they will quickly catch up.  But this is my first effort at yellow squash and zucchini, and I'm pleased to report that the plants seem quite healthy.  No flowers yet - but this is New England and it's still a bit early.

Now, I've heard that an average family only needs one - or at most two - zucchini plants.  Apparently your typical zucchini plant produces 6-10 pounds of zucchini.. and that's a lot.  But they come three to a pack, and the thought of simply throwing one or two plants out, made me sad... so I've planted all three. Plus the three yellow squash.

So in anticipation of a monster yield of yellow and green, I've been perusing the internet for recipes. Sure, there are lots of recipes, but most recipes take some silly amount like "1/3 of a zucchini". Hmmm, I guess I'd assumed that a typical zucchini bread took 3 or 4 LARGE zucchinis... but apparently not.

And then I starting coming across recipes for zucchini blossoms.  Really?  It never occurred to me to eat a pansy, or a snapdragon.  So it certainly never occurred to me to eat a zucchini blossom.  And besides, what if I eat all the blossoms, and then decide I want more zucchini?

Turns out that the answer to that last question, is very simple.  You see -- on each and every zucchini plant, there are boy blossoms, and girl blossoms. And while the boy blossoms are necessary for the process, only the girl blossoms make zucchini.  So as long as your girl blossoms have (ahem) clearly been fertilized  (by which I mean they have little baby zucchini growing)... you can snip off the male blossoms, and eat them to your heart's content, without adversely affecting the zucchini produced!

So, while trying to put visions of Lorena Bobbit out of my head, I next considered how one went about determining which blossoms were boys, and which were girls.  Turns out it's very simple, and can be done without putting any of the parties involved in compromising positions.

The girl blossoms are the ones that are very close to the center of the plant, and are on very short, stubby stalks.

The boy blossoms are the ones on the end of long stalks that kind of wander through the plant.  Ok, sounds simple enough

So now I'm heavily armed with my recipes for zucchini dishes, and my recipes for zucchini blossom dishes.. and I'm waiting for Mother Nature to finish doing her thing.

Hmmm...  Still waiting.

Guess I'll have some tea while I wait.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Automatic Voter Registration

I'm generally not a political person, and I'm definitely not interested in discussing politics with people. But this post is just about voting, it has nothing to do with politics.

Nearly 60 MILLION Americans who are eligible to vote, aren't even registered.  In case you're wondering, that's 60 million out of 206 million.  That's right, over one quarter of the American adults over the age of 18 haven't even bothered to register.  And according to Rock the Vote 12,000 Americans turn 18 every day.  So why don't these people register to vote?

Let me stop you before you start trying to figure out the answer to that one.  Because it doesn't really matter.  Candidates spend tons of money trying to persuade you to vote for them, many organizations - including Rock the Vote and MTV - spend tons of money trying to persuade you to vote for anyone, and Rock the Vote and others are spending money trying to persuade unregistered voters to register, so that they at least have the option of voting.  That's tons and tons and tons of money.

A politicion received a lot of attention when she recently called for universal automatic voter registration.  And my thought was 'Hey!  What a great idea!  How come no one thought of this before?' But then I decided I didn't care why no one had thought of it before, because now that the topic had come up.. we should just do it.

Except that it turns out not everyone thinks this is a good idea.

A number of politicians have gone on record as being opposed to this suggestion, arguing that it .. wait, what was it?  Oh yeah, since being registered to vote means your age and address now become public record, it's an invasion of your privacy.  Yeah, right.  As if you can't get the age and address of almost anyone, on the internet.
And one of the politicians said that it should be a matter of choice, not a mandate.  Really?  We're not forcing anyone to vote... they still have a choice whether they vote or not.
And apparently there has been some discussion as to whether people should be required to exercise their responsibility to register, in order to exercise their right to vote.  Again - really?  Why don't we just leave it that they have the right to vote?  Do we really need this extra layer of paperwork?

So.. let's see... the only requirements to vote  (other then minor things like 'not being a felon') are a minimum age, and the act of registration.  We want more people to vote.  Implementing automatic voter registration would remove an obstacle to voting.

Seems like the math is pretty simple.  Automatic voter registration = more registered voters.  More registered voters = more people who might vote.  If we implement automatic voter registration, now all we have to worry about is making people care enough about the issues that they go to the polls.

I vote for automatic voter registration, and I vote for more tea.  Very different issues, but both - in their own way - important to me.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Flash Fiction

This is different from what I usually put on here -- very different.  
Someone challenged me to do a Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction thing.  Who's Chuck Wendig?  Well, he's a lot of things, but what's important for now is that he's a writer with a blog, and he periodically puts up 'assignments' for readers of his blog. Here's the link to his blog. This week's assignment?  Write a story of no more than 1000 words  (super short stories are called flash fiction), and the story MUST begin with a dead body.
The story isn't my best effort, it's been a very busy week, the sun was in my eyes, and I had to walk uphill both ways, in the snow.  Excuses out of the way - here's my submission.

I’m Ready

         Magda poked at the lump of clothing and flesh, but it didn’t move.  With a determined look on her face, she poked again, harder this time.  The result was the same.  Frustrated, she stomped her foot, although there was no one around to either see or hear her.
“I can’t believe this has happened again,” she muttered.  “But at least this time there were three.  I wonder where the other ones are.”
Taking her time, Magda explored the area, inch by inch.  Back and forth, she went, taking care to inspect every possible hiding place, every resting spot.
“Aha!” she said, as she found the second body beneath a pile of old newspapers.  She took care to remove the newspapers without disturbing the body, but as she pulled away the last few papers, she could tell that this body wasn’t alive, either.  Nonetheless, she poked at it, in the hopes that she was wrong.  Perhaps it was only sleeping or even just seriously ill.  But when she poked at the lump, it was definitely old and mushy, and it had a bad odor as well.  She didn’t bother poking at it a second time. 
Magda chewed on her finger nail, as she considered.  “Let’s see… they always say the third time’s the charm, and good things come in threes, and all the stories give you three wishes.  Well I did begin with three of them.  That’s probably good enough.”  But after a moment’s hesitation, Magda closed her eyes and clicked her heels three times, snapped her fingers three times, and then blinked her eyes three times.  If that wasn’t enough threes for good luck, well - she was out of ideas and didn’t know what else to do.
She continued her slow, thorough examination of the area. As she neared the end without finding the third one, she had to resist the temptation to rush.  She refused to consider what she would do if her search came up empty.  And finally, in the last corner she was searching, she found the third one, curled up into a tight ball.  Holding her breath, she reached over and gently touched the body, prepared to jump back if it moved.  There was no movement.  Not yet ready to give up, she gingerly tried to uncurl the body.  And that’s when she realized that this body was as dead as the first two.
        “Mom”, she called again.  Still no response.
Magda sighed.  When her mother was in the middle of project, you had to get in her face to get her attention.  She headed for her mother’s office and walked in without bothering to knock.  She walked over and waved her hands in front of her mother’s face, and her mother finally looked up.
“Hello Magda. Do you need something?”“Yes, I do.  I need you to come with me.”
Her mother smiled, stood up, and took Magda’s hand.  “Ok dear, let’s go.”
A few moments later, they were both staring at what Magda was starting to think of as ‘the scene of devastation’.
“Look.  There.  Just like last time.”
“All three of them?”  Her mother peered closely at the nearest body.  “Are you certain?”
“Of course I’m certain.  I poked all three of them.  None of them moved, and one of them smells really bad.”
“Well you know what the pet store owner said, dear.  He warned you that earthlings are the most difficult pets to keep alive.  That’s why your father and I tried to talk you into starting off with martians, or even neptunians.”
“But I wanted earthlings!”
As Magda began to wail, her mother put a comforting arm around her.
        “I know you’re sad, dear. But these things happen.”
The wailing grew louder.
“Hey, how about a tropical fish?”
The wailing stopped.
         “Maybe one of those fish that has black and orange stripes?”
Her mother laughed.  “Yes, one of those.”
Magda clapped her hands.  “Oh goody!”  She picked up the small aquarium and ran into the bathroom.  A moment later the toilet flushed, and Magda came out of the bathroom with the empty container in her hands and a big smile on her face.
“I’m ready!”

Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Few Words about Fishing Regulations

NO!  Wait!!!   Don't close this page and move on to something else... this is important, I promise. You might not go fishing, but certainly you eat fish, don't you?  Even if  you don't, you must know someone who does.

Last year, we spent a few days in Acadia, Maine. Everywhere you went, there was lobster-something-or-other. Lobster bisque, lobster rolls, lobster salad, boiled lobster --  well, you get the idea.  Not surprisingly, we also saw lots of lobster trap and lobster boats.

Living near the coast in Massachusetts, we certainly have a lot of lobster things, including lobster boats... but we also have a lot of fishing boats.  But in Acadia it struck us that - whether sitting in a restaurant with a water view, or being on the boat doing the sightseeing tours of the puffin nesting areas -  there was nary a fishing boat in sight.  Yes, that's right.  Nary, is in less than a few, as in not a single one.  We didn't even see anyone fishing from shore.

So we asked one of the locals about the lack of fishing, and we were told a very sad story.   You see --  many years ago, fish such as cod and haddock and halibut had been very plentiful in that particular port.  But then the commercial fisherman came through the area, dragging their nets.  Nope - it's not what you think - it's not that they overfished the area, it's that their dragging nets destroyed the eelgrass beds and other seagrass beds. Without the eelgrass and other seagrasses, little fishes had nowhere to hide from predators, and all fishes were missing an important food source. The commercial fisherman were following all regulations, but their legal fishing  had some serious consequences.  As a result of this, today there is no fishing in Southwest Harbor - not because of any regulations, but because there are no fish.

This year, there have been quite a number of changes in both the state and federal fishing regulations for the waters off of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and southern Maine.  Let me share just a few of them with you. For recreational fisherman, we are not allowed to fish for any cod at all -- that's right, ZERO.  If we catch a cod fish by mistake, we must throw it back, as we are not allowed to have any in our possession.  We can still catch and keep haddock, but the limit is reduced to three fish per person, and the minimum size is increased to 21 inches  We can catch striped bass, and the minimum size is still 28 inches, but the limit is reduced from two, to one.

But that's the regulations for recreational fisherman... those of us who stand onshore, or on our boats, holding a fishing rod.  The regulations for commercial fisherman are quite different.

Commercial fisherman are allowed to keep as many haddock as they can catch, and the minimum size is 18 inches.  Yes, that's right.  All those 18, 19, and 20 inch haddock that I have to throw back, they get to keep.  But they can only keep cod if they're at least 19 inches long, and they can only keep 200 pounds, so that sounds fair, right?


You see...cod and haddock are generally found together.  When I am fishing for a haddock and I accidentally catch a cod, I remove the hook from the fish's mouth, and throw it back....  and nearly all the time the fish will swim away, none the worse for wear. And if the fish does die, at least I've only killed one fish at a time. But when a commercial fisherman --- fishing with nets --- is fishing for their unlimited number of haddock,  they are also fishing for their 200 pounds of cod.  Once they reach their limit of cod, they keep fishing for haddock, of course.  And they continue to catch cod in those same haddock-catching nets.  They must throw the excess cod back, of course... but by the time they've sorted through their catch, separating the keeper haddock from the throw-back cod, and they then throw back those excess cod, a significant portion of those cod don't survive.

I suspect that if I were to go fishing every day during the cod-fishing season,  and catch - and keep - let's say 3 cod per day...  that would be a pittance compared to the number of cod killed by one commercial fishing boat in one day, even when the commercial fishing boat complies with all regulations.

Nothing that I've told you is a secret, and none of the arguments I've made are unique.  The regulators will tell you that it's important to let the commercial fisherman stay in business, and they'll tell you if the commercial fisherman go out of business there will be a serious shortage of fish at the retail level. I wonder what the residents of Southwest Harbor, Maine think of that argument.

Fishing regulations should be far more complex than a minimum size for fish, and the number of fish you keep.  There is supposed to be a 'management' aspect to the fishing regulations...  and I'm not seeing much management of the overall fishing situation.  You can't just manage those who are fishing... you have to manage the environmental consequences of the fishing regulations.

But then --  no one asked me what I thought.  In fact no one I know was asked what they thought. You see, these regulations were imposed as 'emergency' regulations, so there were no public hearings held before the regulations were implemented.

As I do for all emergencies, I'm going to have a cup of tea.  It won't change any of the regulations, but it might make me feel better.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Surfin' Safari

As a child, I grew up in the middle of the country, far far away from any coast ...  and surfing was something that they did on that show with Annette Funicello and in the Beach Boys song (two songs, actually - no, wait, make that three, no wait - it's actually 10*), and then later they did it on Hawaii 5-0. These days, I live on the coast, but it's the 'wrong' coast, as far as surfing is concerned.

Yet, like most people I now surf on a daily basis...  and of course I'm talking about surfing the internet.  I remember the first computer we had at home...  my husband and I got an Apple computer, and we spent many an evening gathered around the monitor.  (yes, you can gather, with just two people!) Generally, our surfing was a bit aimless...  one of us would say "I wonder how..."  and we'd look it up, or "What if..."    We would take turns at the keyboard, exploring 'the information superhighway', and often, each answer would lead to the next question.  (note to youngsters:  this was before Siri, and even before Google, if you can believe it!)

So how did sitting in a chair in one's living room, get the same name as being on the ocean, standing on  a board, and trying to stay upright?

Funny you should ask that.  My guess had been that someone thought that jumping around from one idea to the next, was kind of like gliding and sliding from one wave to the next.  If that sounds pretty good, you're just as wrong as I was.

Turns out that a librarian by the name of Jean Polly  was writing a beginner's level article about the internet, back in 1992.  Her article was to be a departure from the typical technical writings that were being done.  She wanted a title that "expressed the fun I had using the Internet", but also conveyed that skill was necessary in order to use the Internet well..  She wanted something that would engender a sense of randomness, and a bit of danger. Thinking back to my early wanderings on the internet, I can appreciate and understand the fun, randomness and certainly the requirement of skill (although not too sure about the danger).   And then she glanced at her mousepad, which had a picture of a surfer on a big wave... and the rest, as they say, is history.

Except not really.

As I said, Jean was a librarian, and being a librarian, she liked to research things.  Nine years after she wrote her article she was updating it and she discovered that - although she'd never heard the word surfing used in connection with the internet before she used it in her article, there were a few people here and there who had used the phrase 'surfing the internet' several years before she did -- and ironically enough, that's why her mousepad showed a surfer.  Also ironically enough, the reason why Jean didn't know this when she was coming up with her title was that 'net surfing was new enough that it was much more difficult to find this information in 1992, than in 2001.

So who does Jean say first used the phrase "surfing the internet"?  According to her, it was a fellow by the name of Mark McCahill.  When Jean asked him how he came up with that phrase, he told her that he did a lot of windsurfing... and the idea of browsing the internet made him think of surfing the ocean.

AHA!!!!  We were right in the first place!!  Surfing the internet is the intellectual version of surfing waves!

Well I always like being right, and I say that's cause for celebration.  Put on the kettle, it's time for a cup of tea.                      

*By the way, I'm sure most of you know the names of at least a few of the  Beach Boys surfer songs, but in case you don't know them all ...  there's Surfin', Surfin' Safai,  Surfer Girl, Surfin' USA, Surfer Jam, Noble Surfer, The Surfer Moon, South Bay Surfer, The Rocking Surfer, and Surfer's Rule.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

My Avocado Problem

Over the last few weeks I keep finding emails in my inbox  about avocados, and it seems like everyone is talking about avocados.  I like avocados, especially in a salad, and I realized I hadn't had any avocado in awhile.  So last week when we went out to dinner, I ordered a turkey tips and avocado salad -- only to be told that they were out of avocado.


Now I REALLY wanted some avocado.  Not a problem, I know how to make my own salad.  So the next day I went to the grocery story, with visions of a wonderful salad with green peppers and radishes and mushrooms and black olives and romaine lettuce and feta cheese - and of course avocado.  I had some of the ingredients at home, and I quickly picked out the romaine lettuce and fresh mushrooms, and then walked over to the avocados.

Ugh!   Hard as a rock.  Perhaps harder.  The avocados weren't bagged, they were all separate, and I went through every avocado on display, but
could not find one that I could eat that night.

Yes, I know that avocados in the grocery store are often quite hard.  Yes, I know that it's very easy to ripen them by placing them in a paper bag.  Yes, I had a paper bag at home.  But that didn't solve my problem, which was that I wanted avocado in my salad that night.  And there's really no suitable substitute for avocado.

Wearing my best pouty face, I put three avocados in my cart, prepared to pout for the several days it might take for the avocados to ripen.  As I pouted and dragged my feet in the direction of the checkout lines, I realized I was walking by the organic produce section.  I have never purchased anything from the organic produce section, being quite satisfied with the ?inorganic? options.  But as I looked up, I saw that there were little organic avocados -- packaged three to a mesh bag.

Keeping my three hard avocados, I added a mesh bag of organic avocados to my cart, turned my pouty faee to a happy face, and went through the checkout line.  Was the cashier mystified at my grin?  Don't know, didn't care, I was having avocado in my salad that night.

About now, you're wondering 'Gee Laurie, what's the problem? Were the organic avocados bad?"

No they were not, they were wonderful.  And I had a salad with avocado the next day for lunch, and again the day after that.

Here's my problem.   I still have 1 1/2 organic avocados left.  And my three avocados that were hard, are now quite ripe.  So I have 3 large avocados and 1 1/2 small avocados, all needing to be eaten, and eaten fairly soon, and there's only so much avocado you can put in a salad.

So I'm looking for recipes.  I could make guacamole of course, but then you need chips.. and I was hoping to keep this on the healthy side.  I see a recipe for an Avocado-lettuce-tomato sandwich... which sounds good, but doesn't use up much avocado.  I see that you can fry avocados -- again, doesn't sound very healthy, plus one serving only uses up 1/3 avocado.

But I may have found a winner here, I may have found a solution.  I've come across a recipe for avocado pie.  Only uses two avocados... but that's ok.  That might be enough that I can use the rest up in salads.

And I'm pretty sure avocado pie will go quite well with a nice cup of tea.

But WAIT!!!
I now see that you can grill avocados... typical serving is one 'cado per person.  And avocado soup sounds interesting.. that's 1/2 'cado per serving.  Oh wow, I just found a recipe for grilled marinated avocado that you serve as a side dish.. that's one 'cado per person.  And mashed avocado on toast sounds pretty good, too... that's 1/2 'cado per person.  And I see a recipe that has you putting avocado in your potato salad!

Oops.  New problem.  Now I need more avocados.  Better get more tea, as well.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Riding a bicycle

I've always found the phrase 'it's just like riding a bicycle' to be extremely annoying.  To me, that phrase can be translated to  'it's really, really, really, difficult... and might even be impossible'.  Yes, that's right, I can't ride a bicycle.  I can sit on a bicycle with my feet on the ground, and I can fall off a bicycle.  And that's the extent of my abilities.

Now, you may be familiar with a You-Tube webcast called Smarter Every Day  The webcasts are done by Destin Sandlin.  Destin is an engineer  ....

no, no, no... not that kind... this kind

.... and his webcasts include all kinds of scientific experiments.  They're generally short, they're typically amusing, they're almost always interesting.  And they're usually somewhat unique.  While I enjoyed the webcast on Laser Tattoo Removal, my favorite 'casts are Hummingbird Aerodynamics, and Flipping Cats.

Recently, Destin did a webcast on riding a bicycle.  The first thing that he did was comment that the phrase 'like riding a bicycle'  is used to mean that something  a) is easily learned, and b) once learned, it's always remembered....  and he then goes on to show how that's not true.  It's difficult to explain exactly what he had to do... it involved a modified bicycle, and re-teaching his brain how to ride the bicycle, and then he couldn't ride an un-modified bicycle....  Well, if you're interested, click on the webcast link and look for Backwards Brain Bicycle.

But the point is, that riding a bicycle isn't this simple, never forgotten skill.  To all those who've laughed at me for not being able to ride a bicycle, I say HAH!   and So There!!

I briefly considered trying to popularize the phrase 'as easy as making a cup of tea'.  But the truth of the matter is that while anyone can make a cup of tea, it takes some skill to make a good cup of tea.  And if you're not going to make a good cup of tea, why bother?  I suppose you could say that making a good cup of tea is like riding a bicycle..... but I'd rather just make a good cup of tea.  And so I shall.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Roses for Dad

My dad loved roses - he loved to grow them, he loved to look at them.  He liked them in all colors, he loved the ones with really large blooms, yet he also appreciated the normal sized blooms, and even the miniature blooms.  But for dad, the hallmark of a truly wonderful rose was the fragrance.

Dad never had the opportunity to go to the International Rose Test Garden, but he would have liked it there.   The International Rose Test Garden is located in Portland, Oregon. It's been in operation for nearly a hundred years, and the place is huge.  There are over seven thousand plants, and more than 650 varieties of roses.  The Garden truly is a testing garden.  Rose companies and rose growers from all over the world send hundreds of new roses to IRTG every year, free of charge, in exchange for the research and evaluation that is done at the Garden. Roses are tested for all sorts of attributes, including color, size, hardiness, and how well the blooms age.  And of course they're tested for fragrance. There's a plaque at the entrance to the Garden that lists Frequently Asked Questions and their answers. The final question on the list is "What is the most fragrant rose?", and the answer is "That is always up for debate".  But it's beyond debate that  fragrance is indeed a key attribute.

I was at the Rose Test Garden last fall.  It was past peak viewing time, but the Garden was still magnificent.  I did a lot of sniffing that day, and I took a lot of photos, but I didn't photograph everything.  As I said, I was there after the peak flowering time.  In order for me to take a picture, the rose had to be beautiful.  But equally important, it had to have a wonderful fragrance.  Dad wouldn't have it any other way.

Here are some of the photos I took.  You can see that they are beautiful.  You need to trust me that they all smelled wonderful.

My favorite type of rose is a tea rose... but then, you probably already guessed that.