Monday, January 15, 2018

Monday Eats - Flying Frisbees of Goodness


Abby T.  Lab here - Mom made my favorite flying Frisbees this morning after she shoveled the long driveway after we had several inches of snow in Chicagoland.  Dad is in England on business so she figures she deserves some pancakes and bacon for the extra work.  There's her excuse anyway.

I don't get syrup on mine, but they are FUN to catch and eat.

This is the best recipe ever and makes the lightest, most aerodynamic Frisbees ever with the best texture as well as lift over drag ratio!

In one bowl mix:

1 cup flour (Mom is allergic to malt which is in the cheap store flour - she uses White Lily or an organic flour such as Arrowhead Mills - they are both Malt free but if you see White Lily in Texas snag some - it's a Southern soft winter wheat, unlike the flours up north and makes the lightest and fluffiest biscuits, pancakes, muffins, and waffles)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
In small bowl mix

1 cup room temperature Kefir (Kefir is a drinkable yogurt found with or near the yogurt in th store in a quart sized bottle.  It is normally lactose free and full of probiotics - if you can't find it use buttermilk or milk soured with a tablespoon of lemon juice replacing a tablespoon of the milk.)
Splash of pure vanilla extract (about 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon)
1 egg (at room temperature) or equivalent egg substitute.

Whisk wet ingredients together, and then SLOWLY stream in while whisking - 

1/4 cup melted butter

Mix wet and dry ONLY until mixed (do not overmix) and cook on a griddle on which a drop of water sizzles.  The batter should be fairly thick.  If it is not (this should NOT be a pourable batter) add 1 Tablespoon of flour.

Don't make make them too big to make them easier to flip as these are thick fluffy pancakes. Mom uses a 1/4 or a 1/3 cup measure to make the pancake.  Makes about 10 medium sized pancakes. They freeze well - no need to buy those expensive boxed frozen pancakes.
- Abby T. Lab
Warning - Eating Too Many May Induce Flying Frisbee Coma

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Like a Hawk



This morning, we got up about our usual time for a Saturday and there was NO activity at the bird feeders nor a squirrel in sight. Normally by around 7:30 they're out and about and with it 10 degrees out I knew the birds would be looking for food and the fresh water I put out.

I looked carefully through the yard. Under the Spruce tree by the feeders, I saw a shape. At first, I thought it was Mr. Bun, our yard rabbit, but it was too big and he's normally out at dusk.

It was a hawk.

Lying in wait under the tree. For I have the feeders under the branches of two 100-year old Spruce trees so the critters have a little protection. He was just waiting. Now, I know hawks have to eat too, but not in my yard, there's a forest preserve two blocks away that's about 6 square miles with lots of critters in it.

I grabbed a bag of peanuts and went down my steps in my bathrobe and bright pink pajama bottoms and ran towards the hawk, shouting and waving the bag of peanuts. He flew off. I turned and saw our next-door neighbor, a retired Navy Vet in his driveway laughing.

I said, "just feeding the birds Bruce". He just chuckled and said, "I'm sure they appreciate it!"

I think I"m a regular source of entertainment for the neighbors.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Thankful Thursday - The Word "Love"

Today we are joining


and his Thankful Thursday Blog Hop with some thoughts on love, and how lucky we are to have it.
"Dog's don't know the word "love". To them, it's just a word like any other, a sound that defines or simply fills a lack, a word they don't need to know any more than they need to know the word for fear and pride. Yet, though they can't articulate it, they show it, as though nothing else had ever been, our form the shape and echo of all that is necessary to them.

--from "The Book of Barkley" by LB Johnson

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Driving Mr. Barkley

For about 3 years I had a commute of about 4 hours each way every Monday morning and Thursday night between Indianapolis and Chicago. I worked four 10 hour shifts a week so it made for some LONG days.  I wanted to move to Chicago permanently to join my new husband but  I had a career and a townhome in Indiana.  My large home had sold and I was just renting the townhome, but transferring up to Chicago job-wise wasn't an option as there were no openings at my pay grade (I'm sort of like "Director" if we were NCIS) and I was too close to retirement to take a pay cut to be closer to home.  With people retiring, I knew there'd be an opening if I was just patient.

Fortunately, I had a big, sturdy American made barge of a vehicle to haul Barkley, and later Abby when we rescued her, back and forth.

Sometimes there's miscellaneous cargo of the squirrel, and not so squirrely, in the back..
Often it was dark when I left Monday morning, which was actually my favorite time to head out. It gave me another night "home"  and I missed the worst of the traffic.  At 3 a.m. the roads were mostly vacant, the sky nothing more than the thin deceptive perception of safety.
So I always made sure the truck was full of gas and the road ahead clear and then I'd get Barkley in his harness and ready to go.
Madam - I'll just wait here on my dog bed until you bring the car around

Uh, Barkley, the LITTLE grey bed is your dog bed.

Soon, the night succumbed to day, and everything quickened.  The traffic and my pulse would quicken, as the light spread over the road like water. Soon it's day and from the vantage point of a vehicle that sits up high, I could see all sorts of things.

It's fun to look back on some of the trips, "bed hair" and all. If we were moving I'd just hold up the little point and shoot camera while I kept a hand and eyes on the road and snap back at Barkley.  Some of those were hilarious.  And if we were slowed or stopped in traffic sometimes we could get a shot of an interesting vehicle.

Diary of a Drive with Mom
I'm in the truck with Mom!  I'm in the truck with Mom! I'm in the truck with Mom!
Ninety Nine Boxes of Treats on the Wall, Ninety Nine Boxes of Treats. . .
Can't you change the channel?  It's the "Corn and Cow Show" again and I've seen this episode.
Does she even notice I'm back here, It's been like a YEAR since I got a treat.
Where did he go?
I am SOOOO bored. 
Mom - I think I'm getting car sick.  Can we stop again.  Perhaps at a burger place? 
ZZZZZZZ

Wake up Barkley -there's an interesting vehicle!~

The doggie gaze equivalent of "Mom - What the. . . .?"

This truck probably cost more than some of the houses just west of here.  You could have performed surgery off most of its surfaces.  The driver apparently very proud of it, wants you to know who is driving it by the giant dayglo orange name across the back window.   At first, I thought his name was "Tarzan".  Either I'm getting nearsighted or I REALLY need to clean these windows..
Driving through the freeway stretch of Gary (which is normally done at twice the speed of sound, the cops not even wanting to pull anyone over on that particular stretch), I saw what appeared to be the Batmobile.  At least the Batmobile Gary style.
The young man driving it was probably the best driver on the road, in and out of lanes discretely and expertly, yet not being stupid (unlike Vlad the Impala that tried to kill me several times).  I'm not sure what that hood ornament is.

On this same stretch of road, another trip, there was a vehicle for which I didn't get a picture as the traffic was too heavy to be distracted by a camera. There were a couple extra antennas on it. One looked like it was Elmer-Glued on. It looked too new to be a Grand Marquis de Sade, more likely a later model Crown Vic, but the shape and color were such that hundreds of drivers in the past had likely slowed down in its presence thinking it was an unmarked cop car.

The driver, as well, was all in black, with a black baseball type hat, earpiece in his ear, muscled arms clenched on the wheel. In the back window, another black ball cap, this one with 3 letters indicating a squirrel type employer. At this point I started to grin, knowing a bit about such headwear. I can tell you one does NOT put them in the back window of their car, although you can buy fakey looking souvenir ones on the internet. They're worn for a specific purpose and it usually involves a search warrant.
But what our Mall Ninja failed to realize, that despite the old police shaped spiffy car with the extra antenna or two, the clothing, the hat he bought on the net, and "the look", one thing just screamed "mall ninja!"

The yellow triangle in the window that said "Baby on Board".

I did get a picture of this. . .
Camouflage submarine?

Even with a state that's about as hilly as Saskatchewan, I still don't get more than 18 miles to the gallon.  But I bet I get more than this guy, driving a truck that appears to be made out of four separate vehicles with a camper that appears to be attached with Velcro. I kept my distance in case the wind picked up.
And, in an off the freeway foray to get gas in a safe area,  I saw this. Fifteen miles per gallon in hot pink.   I'd tint my windows too if my SUV was that color.
Then - this classic, another pink vehicle, a distinct shade of light pink  I recognized. It's a Mary Kay car I thought. You know, one of those new and shiny fancy cars with the sticker on the back "I Won It, Ask Me How - Mary Kay."

But as we got closer I could see it was a very beat up Volvo, with the rust marks to show its age. But it was pink. Pink, painted with a brush.

With a fresh and flawless Mary Kay "I Won It Ask me How" sticker in the back window.

The man driving it looked like the guy from the Red Green show and the car was full of junk, likely a run from the farm to the junkyard or dump.
There were quite a few drives though, where the cars were mundane, the landscape clouded with shadow and the camera stayed still.  Such were the mornings I looked at the light coming up in the sky, shooting upward in the darkness like the upward floating tresses of a drowned maiden sleeping in a motionless sea, I wish I could capture that.  I also knew that the cheap little camera in the vehicle, in motion, never captured it, that moment or the words in my head and I go back to my coffee and the thump of the miles.

I kept an eye on the weather as well, high winds not being a big concern in my vehicle, but definitely affecting other drivers I'd just as soon stay out of the way off.  I kept the radio tuned to the local alerts, and there is always the weather cow, one of the first pit stops on the journey. It's not the cheapest gas around, but the place was frequented by most of the local LEO's.  It was more country than city and the bathrooms were spotless (unlike the ones up by Crown Point where I think they lock the gas station bathrooms to keep people from sneaking in and cleaning them). 
 Weather cow says it's windy with a chance of flurries
 Weather cow says it's sunny.
Weather cow says it's raining.
Look, Mom !  A trailer full of tractors!

Barkley could sometimes be a pest, with stops for walks, and begging for treats and Barking at the Dart Trucks (I think he thought the Dart guy on the back of the truck looked like the UPS man) But I so I missed him after he went to the Bridge, driving that big Chevy Subdivision of a vehicle, logging miles between light and dark, the clock on the dash only changing the minutes, it seems, when I look away, the slight of hand of time that shapes us all.

So glad we've arrived at the townhouse so I can do something more exciting while you go to work!

Thank you, Barkley - for all the good trips and the good memories and for watching over Abby Lab and me while we made that last year of drives without you. We miss you every day.


Sunday, January 7, 2018

Fun Animal Facts (Now with Science!)


Taken from a Roof in the United Kingdom with my Point and Shoot.

It's been a long week, and I had to deal with travel, politics, dirt, unwanted contamination and idiots (and yes, as separate items).  With freezing rain pending, I just spent some time outside refilling all the bird feeders, getting the block warmer going on the SUV in case we have to get out of Dodge later, and getting the last of the laundry out of the cold basement. 

So for today, just a few photos and some wandering thoughts before a LARGE glass of wine and make a meatloaf.

Cat Physics: 


When buttered toast is dropped, it always lands butter-side-down. When a cat is dropped, it always lands on it's feet.

I propose to strap buttered toast to the back of a cat, butter facing up. The resulting spinning force, could provide more power than a thousand wind farms.
You play with the tinfoil - you have to wear the hat.


Murphy's Laws (updated):

If at first you do succeed, try not to look astonished.

If it happens, it must be possible.

If it jams - force it.

If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway.

If no one uses it, there's a reason.

If things appear to be going well, you have overlooked something.

When the going gets tough, everyone leaves. 
No - it's not THAT finger.

Infernal Dynamics:

•An object in motion will be heading in the wrong direction.
•An object at rest will be in the wrong place

Teamwork:

There no "I" in TEAM but there's "Me!" if you rearrange the letters.

Technology:

EASY TO INSTALL - Difficult as heck to install, but there's pictures!
Barkley was still upset "cookies" weren't  real cookies.


Science:

LB's Laboratory Law:  Really, really hot glass looks just the same as cold glass.

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

It is a mistake to allow any piece of mechanical testing equipment to realize you are in a hurry.

Animal Facts:

A study measuring the effects of music found that cows produce more milk when listening to soothing music. They produce the most when listening to R.E.M’s “Everybody Hurts.”

Despite cobwebs that end up in trees and everywhere . . .spiders can not fly.
Amen

It has been established that people who own pets live longer, have less stress, and have fewer heart attacks.

Dogs nose prints are as unique as fingerprints and can be used forensically to identify them.

I could have gone all year without knowing this:

Turtles can breathe through their butts.

On that note - I'm thankful I have a pet - so that I'm less stressed and will live longer.
Mom - I didn't think they made BIG GULP sized wine glasses.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A Smile and a Song


We've had some brutally cold arctic weather the last couple of weeks. Yesterday it was minus 15 in our garage when my husband went out to start his vehicle. That's been hard on the critters. We have a rabbit that lives in the big evergreen bush behind the house and about half a dozen squirrels that make our hundred-year-old Spruce trees in the unfenced side yard their home.
Our bungalow  - in warmer weather.

Of course, there are always the Cardinals, finches and a few doves that make their home in the top of a neighbor's old garage that has fallen into disrepair after they passed away and it awaits probate and sale. I've been feeding them, and putting out water, not so much they forget how to forage but enough to help. Just watching "peanut wars" from the dining room window is entertainment enough.
The sideyard in warmer weather - the original homeowners
bought two lots when the Bungalow was built so we have a side yard
and room for a driveway and garage, not typical in the city.

The bunny wasn't joining in the fun until a few nights ago when he hopped out of the fenced yard over to the bird feeders to eat some spilled seed. I knew he had to be pretty hungry to leave the safety of the fenced yard as we have hawks, owls, and coyotes around due to the nearness to the forest preserve. The next night he was out at the same time, right at dusk, sitting by the feeder under the tree out of sight of any winged predators. The night before last I went out with some spinach and shredded carrot. He didn't hop away and just watched me from a few feet away while I set it under the bird feeders.

Last night he was there right on time as I put out some Alfalfa Pellets I got from Chewy. I'd barely walked away when he hopped over and started to chow down.

This morning it was a balmy 14 and the sun was peaking through the scattered snow showers.

As I went out the rabbit was waiting under the tree, the squirrels were watching and birds were fluttering over my head.

I felt like Snow White in that scene from the movie.

Stay warm and safe my friends.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Dibs! - A Chicagoland New Years Post

Yes, as a former farm dweller, Chicago was the last place I thought I would end up.  Until I married an Illinois native that got his dream job there (wherein he leaves me to fly to China and South Africa and Austrailia on business about every other week :-)  What we do for love . .

But I've grown to love our life.  We live in a turn of the century home in an outlying village that has almost no crime other than the occasional garage break-in, a few small and quaint local businesses, and it's surrounded by park system on three sides, which is a great gang buffer (especially with rivers as most of them don't know how to swim).

That being said, as we ring in the New Year, a smile for your Sunday. Here in Chicagoland, there is something known as "dibs" wherein after you spend an HOUR digging your car parked in front of your house out of multiple feet of snow, you block the spot so you have a parking space when you get back. It's also legal, some wordage to the effect in the city code. It's considered rude to do it unless there is a boatload of snow, it must be a spot in front of your house, and slashing the tires of someone who moved your blocks is considered rude, even in the worst of neighborhoods.It's like our hotdogs, pizza, and Cubs, there are some things you just don't mess with if you are a local. We are lucky in that the original owner of our 100+-year-old home bought two lots so we have a large side yard on one side of the house with a driveway, though we may clear a "dibs" spot for party guests for New Years.

Some of the "dibs" seen around the city still crack me up. Happy New Year everyone and thank you all for your growing friendships this last year.

If it looks like a 60's shower curtain, even more the better. 
 Want to bet that is electrified.
 Unfortunately, now the chickens have gotten out.
 Zep isn't a poison unless you drink a gallon but I like how he thinks.
 If that's full, that IS going to get lifted in 5 minutes.
 My personal view on ironing.
 Yes, Jesus Saves - the ORIGINAL Dibs
 Use Grandpa's Walker because being old in the winter isn't hard enough.
Sam's parking spot. 
 My kind of guy.
It's not like we vacuum or anything.
 That girl that dumped me after the State Fair won't care.
Just another day in the neighborhood.
 I made my child dig my car out.
 Don't' go out half dressed to free your car.
 My roommate doesn't think much of my musical talents.
And my PERSONAL favorite (because what's a gal to do with a Leonardo DiCaprio life-sized cardboard figure).