Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2017

Archive for the category “Food”

Looking Back 

Throwback Thursday

1I THINK IT’S TIME FOR A FEW OBSERVATIONS about Ireland. Of course, none of these are all that important and not meant to denigrate Ireland or its people. It is all just things my warped mind has noticed.

I have noticed that wherever we have stayed there are modern, state of the art appliances – except – for the microwave ovens. We have washer/dryer combos that you need to be a NASA physicist to understand and really neat convection ovens that double as Bessemer Furnaces for making steel. When it comes to microwaves it is like stepping into a time warp back to the 1990s. They work fine, but, seriously, when was the last time you used a microwave where you had to set the time and power level with dials.

Very Sherman and Peabody.2

This is not our first time in Ireland and the Irish are friendly, helpful, and very understanding of our American quirks and I try to do the same with their idiosyncrasies and ideas.

3

Famine Museum and Cafe

One of the most traumatic and history changing times in this nation’s life were the years of the Great Famine. Just before the potato blight destroyed the economic and social structure of Ireland for the first time in the 1840s the population was over 8 million people. A million people starved to death, another million fled to other countries, the U.S. taking in huge numbers. Even today, 175 years after the first famine hit, the population of Ireland has not recovered – sitting at about 6.5 million souls.

The reason for this short history lesson is that the other day my wife, the lovely and ever on top of her history, Dawn, and I visited the National Museum of The Great Famine. It is located in Strokestown on the grounds of the former British Lord who had his plantation and large numbers of sharecroppers and land lessees. When those Irish workers were unable to turn a profit for the Lord or pay their rents to him he evicted them, destroyed the shacks where they slept and left them adrift in the midst of the road. With others, he sold them (there is no other word) onto emigrant “Coffin Ships” bound for American shores.

So – today 135 years since the last total crop failure – the Famine is a sensitive issue.

And that is where My Observation enters –

There we were at The Nation Great Famine Museum and taking all of this in about starvation and cruelty, and what did we do?4

We sat down with a seriously overloaded plate, filled to overflowing, with turkey with bacon, carrots and three scoops of potatoes with gravy. There was enough for at least two people on my plate alone.

I just found this lunch, and the idea of a café at all, as a part of the Great Famine Museum, to be in questionable taste (no pun intended), and ironic to the Nth degree. But who am I to argue – it is their country and their history.

The turkey was excellent, by the way.

My last observation is not nearly as important, except on an intimately personal level.

5I have noticed that the Irish are really into conservation, making things have multiple uses, and recycling. I’m cool with that, but I think they may have stepped over the line when you have Irish toilet paper that can also find service in the woodworking shop as the business end of your belt sander.

Belt_sander

This Has Not Been A Good Week

I HAB A CODE IN MY NODE.

About three days ago I sneezed and I said to myself, “Uh, oh. That was no ordinary sneeze. That felt like a head cold type of sneeze. I was right. The next morning I woke up with my first real nasty head cold in a couple of years.

It has been at least two years, maybe more, since I’ve had to deal with the aches and pains, sneezes, and all of the other fun symptoms of your garden variety head cold. I guess my lucky streak was over.

I knew it wasn’t the Flu or Ebola or anything serious. There isn’t any major coughing, or tummy trouble or bleeding from all body orifices – just the usual yucky stuff.

I’m telling you now – buy stock in the folks who make Kleenex because I am going through it as a vicious clip. I am burning through those tissues faster than Rosie O’Donnell at the Caesar’s Palace Buffet line.

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Do You Believe In Miracles?

A SATURDAY MORNING IN THE RAIN. While you are reading this on a Tuesday I wrote it a couple of weeks ago. And it’s raining again. We could seriously use a miracle.

The past two weeks have been very wet here along the Banks of the Wabash – and those banks are a lot closer than they were before all of this rain. We have had over 7” of rain in the last week or so. Everyone and everything are waterlogged. All I can say in a positive sense is – At least it’s not snow.

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Blinded By Science!

THERE IS NEWS…AND THEN THERE IS NEWS.  The following doesn’t really qualify as any kind of news above a 7 pt. font.

Flash from the PBS NewsHour of January 3, 1914:

“Dogs poop in alignment with Earth’s magnetic field, study finds.”

How’s that for a headline?

This thunderbolt of journalism comes about as result of a study published in a journal called “Frontiers in Zoology” – not an item currently found on our coffee table.

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Happy Hour!

LITTLE BY LITTLE, STEP BY STEP. The universe is starting to listen to me and take my suggestions to create a better world.

Example: 

This morning I pulled the Toyota into the parking lot at St. Arbucks and I noticed a large sign tied to a steel barrier by the front door.

Happy Hour at St. Arbucks? Two weeks when their “Frappe-whatevers” will be half price. Well, Yippee-ki- yo – I guess.

Leave your day behind. Forget the stress and strain of the job and drown it all in a pancreas shattering blast of sugar.

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Rooty, Tooty, Point And Shooty

NAME THREE ACTIVITIES THAT CAN BE VERY DANGEROUS:

1) Sky Diving

2) Space Travel

3) Breakfast

The first two are pretty obvious, but the third can be downright deadly.

About a month ago in the town of Decatur, Illinois the pancakes went flat at the local IHOP when some customers became a bit unruly and the Manager stepped in to make everything Fresh and Fruity once more.

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Fiction Saturday – “And Pull The Hole… Chapter 36 Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter 36 Continued

pull-tijuanaOutside, the sun was beginning to go down and an offshore breeze was finally cutting through the hot and hectic city. The shopping-mad tourists were heading home and the drinking-mad tourists were arriving. The mood in Tijuana was changing, like it did everyday at this time, from commercial cordiality to alcoholic depravity. The zebra-painted donkeys that pulled small carts along the avenidas so tourists could have some unusual pictures to take home to Iowa, were being replaced by other donkeys for another kind of entertainment that Tijuana was famous for.  

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There Is A Scheme To This Rhyme

  1. “Oh, Spring! Child of the aged Winter, up from the ice and cold with promises of dewy life and coursing warmth. You are most welcome.

“The empty nests in high branches above are homes again with small lives that will grow to sing with their joy of life.

“The icy winds, fleeing as the South moves with the sun and those holy words from men all in blue, ‘Play ball!’”

— Joey Bagadonuts

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I’m Only Following Orders 

ADDITIONALLY HAPPY, ADDITIONALLY HAPPY, MODERATE JOY, MODERATE JOY.

A little piece of the jigsaw of my everyday life has fallen into place once more. About a month ago the Little Chinese restaurant in the neighborhood reopened and yesterday the Dollar Store right next to it has returned to active duty. Both places were hit by a pair of teenage arsonists last August. The little intestinal orifices were caught, but I was in Pot Sticker and Won Ton withdrawal for a long time. Now, praise to heaven above, both commercial spots are open again.

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Throwback Thursday from April 2016

Throwback Thursday – from Ireland

Grocery Shopping Can Be Fun

supervaluYOU CAN EVEN SURPRISE ME once in a while – and that’s not easy anymore. After being so long on this planet one sees most things and the variations on those things that crop up along the way.

While I make no claims to any superpowers. I barely have any skills at all other than an active imagination and decent powers of observation. I do notice things.

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Thank God Texas Has A Lot Of Room

TAKE ME TO THE BUTTER CHURN is a cry I hear on a regular basis when we go south to visit family. “The Butter Churn” is a restaurant/feeding station aka buffet just a waddle or two away from the family home in Sinton, Texas. And every time we visit, along with an assortment of several generations of nieces and nephews, we go to The Butter Churn.

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On The Road Again

WHILE THE CIRCUS IN WASHINGTON CONTINUES I find that there are smaller side shows going on that I find both interesting and entertaining.

Example: While we were down in Texas, visiting family and avoiding nasty northern weather there was a great story on the TV about two Congressional Representatives from The Lone Star State who felt the need to get back to Washington and actually do their jobs. The problem for them achieving this end was that the entire northeast, including D.C. was getting blasted by a late winter snowstorm and airports in the area were closed down.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2016 – “Dialogue With A Daschund”

Dialogue With A Daschund

dog tilt 2HAVE YOU EVER TALKED WITH A DOG?

I mean, sat down and had a face to muzzle conversation with a dog? If you have you know that it doesn’t take long to see that, aside from their name, and a word or two like “bacon,” or “down,” they really don’t know what you’re talking about. The movement of your lips might keep their eyes focused on you, but deep down you know that nothing is really getting through.

I get that same feeling when I try speaking with some people.

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My Morning With The Queen

car1UP WITH THE CHICKENS AND THE NEIGHBOR’S INSOMNIAC DOG THIS MORNING. I’ll be taking the Toyota (Barcelona Red) into the dealer for an oil change, tire rotation, and its 30k mile checkup. That sounds a lot like what happens when I go to see my human doctor, except maybe for the tire rotation bit. I do that myself: Shoes in good weather and my boots when it gets cold or rainy.

I don’t suppose that there was any good reason for me to agree to bring the car in at 7:45 AM. That really disrupts my morning routine.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2016 – “One Person’s Trivia…”

One Person’s Trivia Is Another Person’s McRib

mcd firstSOMETIMES THERE IS A BENEFIT when the conversation takes a turn to something boring. This morning over coffee one of the Usual Suspects started to talk politics. My brain glazed over and my eyes began to wander. It was then that I saw a teeny-tiny mention of no import.

 

“McDonald’s opens restaurant in 120th country.”

Sonovagun. I never would have guessed it was that many.

While voices muffled by politics faded in the background I read on.

The newest nation to allow Ronald the Clown to cross their borders is – (Fanfare!)

KAZAKHSTAN.mcd kazak

I do have to admit that my knowledge of Kazakhstan is rather limited, but as a McDonald’s stockholder for the last 30+ years I feel obligated to learn what I can. So, here goes.

Mcd pres

Nursultan Bazarbayev

Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked nation on earth (ergo: not much of a navy).

It has a population of about 18 million souls, and now, 1 McDonald’s.   The Capital city is Astana. The President of Kazakhstan is Nursultan Bazarbayev. He is generally considered to be an authoritarian ruler (read “dictator”). It is unknown at this time whether or not he likes the McRib mcd mcribSandwich.     

That’s it. That’s all of the relevant information about Kazakhstan I could dig up.

McDonald’s, with its new restaurant in Kazakhstan, has well over 36,000 sets of Golden Arches worldwide. They employ 1.9 million people. I would wager that most of them are either teenagers, senior citizens, or people who were just not Taco Bell material. I may be wrong, but my personal observation of the McD’s here in Terre Haute (That’s Kazakh for “Where’s my Shamrock Shake?”) tell me that I’m not wrong.

In my own personal experience I have been in McDonald’s all over this country and in Ireland. I have no intention of trying to visit all of them. There are people who try to do that, traveling all over the map in a quest to visit them all. These are people who will eventually work at McDonald’s. Who else would hire them after looking at a resume with a twenty year gap during which they ate breakfast, lunch and dinner next to Ronald the Clown.

In an effort to gather information for this snippet of reality I went to the McDonald’s Corporate website to learn more about their worldwide operations. Fascinating.

mcd irelandMcDonald’s has blanketed Europe. There are more than 50 Mickey D’s in Ireland. While I’m there (leaving for Dublin in just a few days) I may visit one to satisfy my need for fries (chips), but I think we will eat at home most days.

I learned that there are 11 McD’s in Lithuania, ancestral home of my mother’s side of the family. Europe is definitely well served.mcd lith

The one glaring gap on the world map is on the continent of Africa.

There are about 23 McDonald’s in Egypt – more than I expected.

There are 200 stores in South Africa. That is way more than I would have guessed.

That’s it. Egypt on the north coast of the continent and South Africa at the other end. In between – nada.

If you live, let’s say in Burkina Faso (another landlocked country) and you have a craving for an order of Chicken McNuggets – you are SOL – Snack Out of Luck. You are going to have to hoof mcd burkinait across the Sahara to Egypt or, if you’re not in a hurry, pack a sandwich and head south, way south.

 

I admit that I have not delved deep into the subject to determine if there might be a Burger King or even a Subway (Sans Jarrod) in Burkina Faso. If there is – all I can say is “You deserve a break today. Boy, do you ever.”

mcd nuggets

All I Want Is Everything Done My Way

ok1I’M NOT PICKY. REALLY, I’M NOT. I just like things done the way I want. Is that too much to ask? I think not. When things are not going the way I like, I tend to get cranky. This morning is a case in point.

The time: early this morning – about 6:45 AM. It is still dark outside. It is 30 degrees colder than it was yesterday at this time and I haven’t had my coffee yet.

When I stepped out into the cold the motion detector light mounted by the door does not go on so I have to inch my way to the car. It rained last night and there are patches of ice everywhere. Things are not going well and I am already starting to growl softly.

I made it to the car, turned the key to start it up and I am immediately blasted by 150 decibels of the Zak Brown Band. I must have not turned it off last night.

After putting my heart back in my chest I enjoyed the peaceful drive, all two blocks of it, to St. Arbucks – my oasis, my refuge, my aerie to let me observe the world below.

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Pack A Lunch

highway-sign-jpgSOME THINGS ARE JUST BEYOND MY COMPREHENSION. A fact can be as hard and cold as last week’s biscuits, but I still can’t easily slip it into place in my brain. I’m not stupid, despite testimony to the contrary. I’m just a skeptical sort who enjoys being persuaded.

What brings this to the front right now? Lemme tell you.

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Fiction Saturday Chapter 29- “And Pull The Hole In After You” – Continued

Fiction Saturday

Chapter Twenty-Nine

 

escherHorton Plaza looked like the love child of Rube Goldberg and M.C. Escher.  Seven levels high with a hundred and forty shops, restaurants and touristy boutiques, all connected by stairs, escalators, ramps, and glass elevators.  The entire structure was painted in a full palette of pastels, with multicolored banners, flags, and flowers fluttering in the soft ocean breezes.

High up on Level Seven, in a choice corner location, was The Captain’s Table restaurant.  It had everything that a family on vacation from Nebraska could ever want—a  six page menu offering seafood delicacies named for every exotic locale on the globe, several tons of nautical-looking adornments made in China, and decals on the front door promising the acceptance of all major credit cards.

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It Has Been A Slice

pizza1WHO SAYS WE DON’T KNOW HOW TO BE SOCIABLE? We can be just as sociable as any other group of semi-civilized men who spend their Golden Years discussing the important issues of the day: Which was better – “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” or “The Bionic Woman?”

The “Usual Suspects” as I call them, or my “Play Group” as my wife, the lovely and sarcastically fine tuned, Dawn, calls them, hold our meetings in the Chapel at St. Arbucks almost every morning over coffee.

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Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy

joy1HAPPY! HAPPY! JOY! JOY!

The sun is back rising in the east. Up is up. Down is down and Baseball is soon to reappear and…

My favorite little hole in the wall Chinese restaurant is open again. It was closed last August when two “youths” decided to burn down the Dollar Store next door. A brilliant move it was not. Not only did the fire gut the Dollar Store, but smoke and water damage destroyed my favorite little family run restaurant. All of this just a bagel’s thrown from St. Arbucks. But now…

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