Hmmm…HOT!

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Photo Source.

Photo Source. Really, wish I was there.

You know, if it’s going to start getting dark earlier, then I think the temperatures should be obliged to do so as well. It’s just common courtesy, isn’t it? I mean, REALLY?

Good grief, it’s 5:50 pm, the sun is setting but is the temperature?  It’s currently 95F (35C) which is unholy. I mean, it’s September for heaven’s sake! It’s a desert climate (meaning it gets cold at night). This is just obscene. No other word to describe it. The weather service issued another heat alert.

When I was a kid back in Wisconsin, Labor Day was the beginning of school. Well, not exactly on Labor Day but you know what I mean. Children, en masse, surged back into the classrooms wearing sweaters. Yes, wool sweaters! How I miss the heavy seasonal changes.

Every year this happens. How is one supposed to get in the mood for Halloween, Thanksgiving or even Christmas, when it’s in the 100’s? We’re just “coming out of it alive” if we’re lucky, when Thanksgiving hits.

Why all this pent up (obviously) grumpiness? Well, get ready, here’s the forecast (read it and weep with me): 106, 109, 111, 106 and so on. Meaning, add 10+ degrees and that’s what it’ll be here. :( I’ll repeat, it’s f’ing SEPTEMBER for heaven’s (or in this case HELL’s) sake! Just kill me now and kiss all hopes of lower food prices in the foreseeable future, a fond farewell. DROUGHT, HELL YEAH.

Sorry, just had to get that off my chest (along with all my other clothes). Too much info? Too bad. Maybe SoCal should go nude. Actually, did you know one can go sans top in LA legally? One of the “stars” kids did it a few months ago to protest the fur trade (or something like that, I don’t recall the specifics).

This line of thought is brought on by the “news” story that France is re-thinking it’s topless beaches. Frankly, I think the French population is just getting old, like ours and sees that it may not be such a pretty sight as it was 30 years ago.

Well, that was certainly a leap! From one kind of heat to another. Sorry but if it was 98F in your house, would you be very sane? Hmmmmm???

Photo Source.

Photo Source. What can I say?

Always Perfect Pie Dough (at least IMHO)

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I was reading a past post on The Amateur Gourmet’s blog about how much trouble he has with pie dough. It reminded me of my early teens when I was into baking, as in bread and pie. For whatever reason, my mom didn’t make those things (which seems strange since she was raised by her Victorian grandmother). And we didn’t have food processors back then.

Actually, thinking about it, my great grandmother was probably really tired by the time she had to raise a second family of her granddaughters. I know my mother was all about convenience though she did have a few really good “from scratch” recipes.

Anyhow, I was famous in my family for my “lead bread”; dense, barely risen loaves that only my little brother Rusty would eat. Bless his little heart. This was before I learned about killing yeast which I’m sure I did on a regular basis back then.

I really wanted to make pies too, as in apple, pumpkin and so on. I tried the pie crust where you cut the butter into the dry mixture…omg, I hated it. Pure torture that never yielded a decent flaky crust. I inevitably had thick, unruly, cracked crusts like the one pictured below. Of course we also didn’t have the internet or the plethora of cookbooks either, where I might have learned to chill and cube the butter and keep the dough from warming up. But I didn’t.

Photo Source.

Photo Source. Note: this is a link to a traditional crust tutorial you might enjoy.

Then one day, I was looking through something like “Woman’s Day” and came across the pie crust recipe that was going to change my teen age world and become my “go to” formula to this day. It’s so disgustingly easy that I couldn’t believe it would work. But work it did and I’ve had gorgeous, thin, flaky crusts ever since.

I’ve used it in single and double crust pies, lattice pies and even tiny pie crusts when I use my mini-muffin tin and made teensy pecan pies. So cute!

Disclaimer:  I’ve never claimed to be a great cook or baker. I just know when I’m happy with something. When you read the ingredients, you won’t believe it but it’s never failed me no matter what I’m making with it. I’m sure it will be pooh-poohed by the “real” bakers out there, but I’ve always been more than satisfied with its performance.

My No-Fail Pastry Crust (or the Pie Crust Recipe for All Those Cooks Who Cringe at the Thought of Making a Pie Because the Crust Will Fail

1 c. plus 2 T. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/3 c. neutral vegetable oil (like canola)
2 T. cold water

Mix 1 c. plus 2 T. flour and 1/2 t. salt. With fork, stir in 1/3 c. vegetable oil. Sprinkle with 2 T. cold water and mix into a ball. Roll between 2 sheets of waxed paper, wiping counter with damp cloth to keep paper from slipping. Between passes with rolling pin, pick up waxed paper-covered dough and flip. Then carefully peel off the top sheet and reposition for the next couple of passes with the rolling pin.

Repeat this procedure every few passes and replace top sheets as they start to become wrinkled and worn looking. This allows dough to stretch out without the wax paper ripping. Make sure you roll the dough out far enough to cover pie pan and edges.

When you’re satisfied with the size and thinness (about 1/16”-1/8” thick), flip and carefully lift and replace the top sheet. Then flip again, lifting the other sheet of wax paper, removing it completely. Use the remaining bottom sheet of paper to support crust as you transfer it to pie pan.

Makes a single shell 8”- 9” pie crust. Note: For 2 pie shells, do not double the recipe. I have found that this never works well. Instead, just mix a second single crust by itself if making a covered pie. Be sure to slice a couple of slits in the top crust or the filling can ooze out the pie’s seam.

If you find it’s a bit crumbly, add a bit more oil, half a teaspoon at a time. You can fill the crust as is or blind bake it if you like. Looking back I noticed that I usually cook this with filling on 375F for 35 to 50 minutes depending on the filling and my oven.

I’ve never tried it as a rustic galette but think I’d make two, combine them and roll out a bit thicker than 1/16 -1/8 inch. BTW, I won’t be making this until temps have dropped out of the 100’s which will probably be in November.  :( Now go feed your pie-hole!

Excessive Heat Warning and Pets

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Oh joy. The heat just keeps on giving. Now the National Weather Service has issued an Excessive Heat Warning. Apparently the temps of 105-110F (C) which translate to 115F+ where I live, are mixing with the approaching moisture from Hurricane Norbert moving north and creating a rather deadly combo.

After too many unnecessary deaths of children and animals in cars throughout the summer, I was happy to see the Service had a warning to that effect regarding the unholy temps that can occur in cars, even with windows open.

It amazes me how stupid people can be. A 90F car can reach 160F in 10 minutes! Animals can sustain brain damage, irreversible organ damage and die from within just 15 minutes.

“It’s important to remember that it’s not just the ambient temperature but also the humidity that can affect your pet,” says Dr. Barry Kellogg, VMD, of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association. “Animals pant to evaporate moisture from their lungs, which takes heat away from their body. If the humidity is too high, they are unable to cool themselves, and their temperature will skyrocket to dangerous levels—very quickly.”

“Some signs of heatstroke are heavy panting, glazed eyes, a rapid heartbeat, difficulty breathing, excessive thirst, lethargy, fever, dizziness, lack of coordination, profuse salivation, vomiting, a deep red or purple tongue, seizure, and unconsciousness. Link.

Share this video and information on your blog or Facebook, Tweet it, etc. just so people realize, learn and avoid such situations.

Also be aware of hot asphalt/pavement.

Please share this too! Thank you and stay cool.

Better…Righting One’s Mind

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Sorry to have bothered you with my less than upbeat post on the 26th. But I was correct in thinking that writing about things that were disturbing me, would help me sort them out in my mind. Sometimes just getting negative stuff out of your system by giving it up to the universe is surprisingly cathartic. When you put things out and away from you, there is less to dwell on and internalize about.

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It makes me think of Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata. “…do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.” “And whether or not it is clear to you, the universe is unfolding as it should.” And so I have found a bit of peace by sending my fears and worries off into the ethers.

Reminds me of the little box of “worry dolls” my Dad brought back from one of his trips to South America in the 50’s.

Photo Source.

Photo Source. Click on this link to learn more.

The idea is that your take each little doll and give  your worry (worries) to them or write down your woes and put the paper into the box with the dolls. During the night the little ones will take your concerns away. It actually works, sort of the way my writing about things that are bothering me. You can find out more by googling “worry dolls”.

And miracles do continue to occur in my life somehow. Amazingly.

A budgie has returned. Don’t know if it’s the same one but I found it perched on the chain link fence just eight feet from the back door yesterday. So I feel quite graced and happy to see the little ball of feathers. It has the sweetest little chirp.

The weather continues its onslaught of heat hitting 112F+ (44.5C) yesterday. Thankfully the humidity was only 25%. The forecast is in the 100’s for the next six or so days. Then we’ll supposedly be in the high 90’s. Part of the problem has been the night temps which should be in the low 60’s but aren’t. At least they aren’t until about 5 a.m. in the morning. Without that cooling over the whole evening, the uninsulated buildings (which is most of California’s housing) don’t cool down so we start the morning already in the red zone.

I’m trying to just grit my way through it and pray for mid-November to hurry. Yes I know, so many of you are saying adieu to summer as I type this. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case here. I’ll probably still try to get someone to help me set up a few containers with herbs before then and be happy if I can do that.

I’ve marked my calendar for November 1 to 15 for planting sweet peas.Sweet Peas2010-Garden Gate They’re so easy and have a lovely, light fragrance when they bloom in early spring. Such a nice, old-fashioned flower.

Anyhow, I’ll leave you with a little memory and a couple of stunning performances.

Tribute to Led Zeppelin by Heart at the Kennedy Center in 2012. Here’s more of the tribute in the following video, including Stairway to Heaven.

Thank you for stopping by.

Maybe it’s the heat…

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It seems that my interest in blogging is waining as my absences here get longer and longer. Not really sure what’s causing it. Part of me wants to moan that it’s the ^&#@%# heat. It’s been in the 100’s for weeks now and it just gets old. I’m sick of the window air conditioner running 24/7.

But it’s probably a combination of things. There’s my little missing budgie, the person who was going to run errands for me only to last about a week and a half plus just a general milieu and loneliness that have melted over me. I know I have to back up and explain since none of this makes much sense I’m sure.

So, about the budgie. A few weeks ago I noticed a build up of bird poo right by the back door. Then there was the night I went for groceries rather late and wound up coming home at almost 8 p.m. and after I dragged the bags to the back porch, I went to open the back door only to have a flurry of feathers and wings explode above me.

The little budgie.

The little budgie.

It was the little budgie and I’d scared it out of it’s sleep. It in turn fled, running thunk into the roof overhang. Poor little guy :( I felt so bad but how was I to know the little creature had appropriated a wee nook in the eaves right above the back door as a little house?

It was sleeping on the conduit that led to the flood light on the back porch. Well, after that I was super careful not to use the back door after 8 at night. Or if I did, I made sure that he knew I was going to interrupt his sleep, so he could fly away and not be so surprised.

I felt rather privileged that the spot was considered safe for sleeping. It seemed like it had sort of adopted me. Yes, I know, I REALLY need a dog. My anthropomorphizing has gone into overdrive. Anyways, it gave me a happy feeling.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. There are essentially five or six songbirds that have called the yards and trees around this house “home” for several years and suddenly one Tuesday, they all vanished, including my little adoptive budgie.

My gut feeling is that a new renter moved in somewhere nearby. One with a cat that was allowed to roam and hunt. I’ll never know but suddenly there are no tweets, chirps or trills in the air. Not a songbird in sight. Even the raucous green parrots have gone away. It gets me irrationally angry but then again how can I be sure? So I’ve felt lonely and hurt. Part of this is from the isolation that comes with the inability to get around like a normal person.

I no longer get out weekly to see my friends in the knitting group or go “window-shopping” the way I used to. The result is feeling more and more cut off from the world. Even my sleep is off kilter as I sit here at 4 a.m. writing this. I am never up this early, much less functioning. And this isn’t the first time. It’s very odd.

My mom used to say that my brother and I could entertain ourselves. That she could sit us down with paper and crayons and not hear a peep from us for hours. Well, that’s probably a good thing at this point. Anyhow the point of writing this isn’t for your sympathy. Heck, everyone has crap in their lives, it’s more to make sense of it for myself really.

Currently, today is the anniversary of our marriage. yeah, big deal. CRH/Jerkoff. 34 years gone to hell. Thanks Chucky.

I find that if something is bothering me, writing about it can “right it” for me or at least have it make sense to some degree. Well, it’s now 6:40 a.m. and it’s lights out. I should go back to bed and see if I can wring any sleep out of what’s left of the night before the hellish heat returns. To be continued….

 

Make My Monday

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I thought of the title for this post, when I ran across the clip from Dirty Harry, where Clint Eastwood utters the rather infamous phrase “Go ahead, make my day” and thought this would be an appropriate positive twist. A few posts ago, I mentioned possibly putting some of the amazing and heartwarming videos and images that I’ve run across, up on my blog to share with you.

Please note that I am not advocating for or promoting any group, etc., I just think good thoughts and positive feelings shared amongst us could make this whole planet better for everyone and everything. These images and videos come from many different sources. For example the first one below is a life insurance commercial but you’d never know it. Sometimes things are just too good not to pass around.

Okay, now for a cuteness overload. Not a video but it will make getting through Monday much easier. Promise. Here’s a sample:

Photo Source.

Photo Source. Okay, can you not feel happiness in your heart looking at this?

Keep this image in your mind and life may not be all soft and cuddly, but you’ll tend to feel happier about any so-called problems. Just remember to ask yourself, “in five years will this (problem) really matter?”

And last up…you may need tissues, but in a very good way!

Hope you have an excellent beginning of the week. :)

Heat and Drought

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This year our summer began the second week in May. Finally on May 18, after a week in the 100’s it cooled off…everyone was really beginning to wilt. The produce from Trader Joe’s wasn’t fairing a whole lot better. I opened a newly purchased package of tomatoes at the beginning of the week only to have them collapse at the slightest touch. So much for tomatoes in my salad.

Then we were graced with a period in the 80’s and low 90’s which was delightful…hot but not too bad. June normally arrives with wonderful hazy mornings that don’t clear till at least noon. Hence the nickname, June Gloom. Well, this year June had other plans. :/

So now it’s July 12 and 100F+. Temps have been in the 100’s since June. We’ll occasionally get two or three days of mid-90’s and then it’s back up into the 100’s. Oh, and I finally figured out why my thermometer outside doesn’t agree with the forecast. The weather station that reports our local temps is located on a golf course that sits high up against the foothills. Of course there’s going to be at least a 10 degree difference. Let’s see, the valley flats covered in asphalt vs. a green well-watered course? Yup, an easy 10 degrees or more.

Today, at 5 p.m. the house is only 87F (30.5C) with window air-conditioner running. For the last week it almost hit 90 (32+C) in here…aauugghh. I have become “one” with my little desk fan.

I noticed the next few days have been revised “upwards” out of the high 90’s into the 100’s (so 110+ for us). This is going to be a very long summer. As much as I love LA, I’m seriously tiring of the heat. Summers used to go from mid-July to mid-September, but now, they’ve stretched from mid-May through the beginning of November. No wonder we’re having a killer drought.

Oh, and btw, I think all golf courses should be closed and greens allowed to die in the face of a drought. I mean seriously, what’s more important, food on the table or a small bunch of boozy fat men with bad comb-overs, wandering around after a little white ball? Oh, I forgot to add,…and then retiring to their extremely well air-conditioned club house for more drinks and munchies. Just my opinion, based on experience.

To illustrate the drought:

Photo Source.

Photo Source. Rather dramatic, yes?

Photo Source.

Photo Source. Downright scary, no?

For some even more dramatic and telling images check out this short article with photos from NASA, showing the Central Valley where so much of the nation’s food is grown.

On a totally different note, my car had to go in for service since the “check engine” light came in. Sigh. Turned out the radiator was cracked as was it’s cap. The gas cap that you have to remove to put gas in the car was also cracked, requiring replacement. So there went $700.00. Could have done without that. Still it’s better than a monthly car payment. Luckily my friend S. could take me there and back, sparing me having to rent a car for 3 days. So that was great!

Have you ever noticed how your appetite diminishes in terribly hot weather? When I went to pick up my car from the shop on Wednesday, I noticed my black linen pants were a bit hard to keep up. The keys in my pocket were pulling them down on the right…rather substantially. I’m not complaining, just making an observation. Will have to dig up a pair the next size down.

Going back to my friend S., her Mom who lives in a small house on her property is 89. She still gets around great despite two total knee replacements and a hip replacement. But last week she decided to give up driving. She has a non-repairable torn rotator cuff in her shoulder and the steering on her car is very stiff. So now S. has to take her everywhere…doctors, labs, groceries, bingo, etcetera. Don’t think it’s sunken in just how much of Ms. S’s time this is going to take up.

Well, that’s all the “excitement” from this coast. I know you can barely stand it. :) I’ll leave you with the following bit of information:  did you know that many hospitals in China don’t label the fourth floors of their buildings because the words “four” and “death” are so similar in Chinese?

Born on the 4th of July

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Truth be told, July 4th and Halloween are my least favorite holidays. Used to like them as a kid, but then something changed. No idea what. Thought it was just one of my weirdnesses until yesterday when I was in CVS to pick up some meds. While waiting in line I heard one of the employees express the exact same sentiments. I was totally shocked… a fellow-holiday-hater.

Meanwhile the illegal fireworks here have already started going off. What amazes me is that with the high-drought conditions that any fiery “toys” are allowed. People drive around, light the explosives and toss them out car windows. Just hate it.

Or maybe it’s the people who think it’s funny to strap these incendiary devices to animals. My Dad once found a puppy with half its face blown off by a firecracker someone tied to its neck. Dad immediately left work and brought the poor creature to a vet to euthanize it. I remember catching a glimpse of my Dad later that night, crying to himself. I’ve never gotten over it. All you have to do is Google this and you’ll see all the horrors perpetrated by sick youths that you’d ever want to see. If you want a REALLY horrifying graphic, go here, but you’ll need a very strong stomach and steely heart. I don’t recommend going there, your imagination can do enough.

It’s also possible my feelings could have been cemented when I first moved here and the ratty kids in the house behind me, one lot over got their jollies by tossing plastic bottles with lit firecrackers into neighboring yards (this creates a very explosive device). One was tossed into my yard scaring the shit out of my Siberian. She had never been afraid of anything but never recovered from that evil kid’s act. I could have shoved a cracker down that two legged embodiment of evil’s throat and to be honest, not blinked twice.

Fortunately his crippled father was evicted along with the kid for nonpayment of rent a few months later. (Note:  don’t feel sorry, he was part of a well-known bad news motorcycle gang and was hurt when trying to haze an innocent runner with a pipe while riding with other members in circles around the runner.) And it’s not that I wished them ill but I guess I have karma to thank for keeping an eye open.

Sorry, didn’t mean to go off on a somber little rant. I think it all really came up because of an article I found today about a soldier born on the Fourth of July. First let me give you one, really sobering fact: veterans of the last two wars commit “suicide almost every hour, according to the Department of Defense”. But for some there are miracles like Axel. You can find his and Captain Jason Haag’s story here.

Photo Source:  Today.com

Photo Source: Today.com

Perhaps it’s the contrast of the senseless waste of companion animals to human malevolence and the loss of human beings to their families from the violence of war that is at the center of this post. Maybe it’s the fact that Axel was rescued from a shelter and given a new life. A life that gave life back to another, who like Axel, may not have made it out alive, were it not for him and other dog’s like him/her being on this earth as “throw-aways”. For humanity to step to a higher plain and find a purpose for those who I sometimes believe were put here for a reason, somehow balances a lot out.

To all our service personnel past, present and to come, thank you for all you sacrificed, continue to and will sacrifice. Nothing will ever be forgotten.

P.S. I would be sadly remiss not to send hugs over the Rainbow Bridge to my beloved Corgi, Blue. The poor little guy suffered through four July fourths in a shivering little ball. I loved him and miss him dearly, though this is one day I’m glad he’s across the bridge. May heaven bless all of you and your loved ones be they two, four or more footed. xo

Monday Marvels and Selfies

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According to a number of articles I’ve recently read online, apparently you’re either in the “selfie” camp or not . For those “in” the camp, whose arms fall a bit short of the task at hand (or, at arm) there’s a solution. Get ready for a laugh :)  It’s a bluetooth selfie kit. You’ll find it at ZShoppers for only $49.99. I mean, really? The website is here and there’s a photo below. You know you want it. Lol!Selfie.4

I have to ask again though, seriously?

Videos, Links, Ideas and Whatnot

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Hi and happy Friday to you! As I surf the internet, I often come across inspiring and thoughtful videos that touch my heart and on occassion necessitate the use of facial tissues (aka kleenex). I’ve collected quite a few and thought I’d possibly share them with you on a weekly basis. The thing is, I’d like your opinion and ideas on what to title these featured items…you know, like “Meatless Mondays” or “Friday Favorites” etc.  Some names I’ve come up with are “Friday Film Day” or “Films on Friday”. Or “Thoughtful Thursdays” or “Saturday Storytime”. Do the title have to have the same letters, like SS or FF? Maybe “Out of the Ordinary” or “Extraordinary Ordinary”?

Videos or photo stories would be similar to one I posted a while back:

Or it could just be something really cute like this one from an older post:

It could also be a story of redemption or inspiration like this link. It’s tales like this that move me to tears every time. But why not be moved by kindness, love and joy rather than war and hate? Random acts of faith and sharing and happiness restore my faith in humanity which is spread a bit thin of late with all the politicians and their posturing that’s currently in the news.

Or maybe only do a post once a month but have several videos/stories in it? Would such posts even be of interest to you or am I just blowing in the wind? Seriously, I won’t be hurt if it doesn’t appeal to you. Really! :) I may still publish such links anyway but would like love your feedback. Thank you so much and have a lovely spring or early summer weekend and thank you for stopping by!

BTW, we can just ignore it’s Friday the 13th, okay? Only a few more hours to go here on the West Coast. Never been a big believer in this superstition, but why tempt the fates? ;)

 

 

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