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Lockrum Isle and Old Dubrovnik

The Croatian Flag flying on the battlements The mini-adventure on the Montenegro ferry was fun, so the following day we took another fer...

Monday, January 25, 2010

Unpleasant Altercation at Chez Claire's

A dozen eggs from the Terry's hens, minus an omelet or two!

Since mid-month, the Terry's 3 chickens have laid a dozen eggs - count 'em, that's 12 eggs!

My 3 birds? They've laid 'zip'. I'm beginning to think my girls are lazy. So a couple of days ago at feeding time, I asked them what's up with the no-egg-laying. They said 'bwaaaaaak, bwak, bwak' which means "We're not in the mood yet'.

Let me tell you, I gave the girls their options. I mean, Hello! I enjoy 'coq au vin' as much as I enjoy 'eggs over easy'. The management at Chez Claire does not tolerate slackers.

When I went out to feed yesterday, I found an I.O.U. - penned in feather quill - for a dozen eggs plus one - interest payment!

I mean, what the hell, you know?

I had no choice. Slapped their feathered butts with a lien on their deluxe hen house and run. Hey, I mean, I'm not running a charity here. Chicken scratch costs money, and time wise, all that chicken poop on the porch doesn't clean itself up. The girls were too stunned to say anything about the lien. I'd better be knee deep in omelette's PDQ.

The girls are flabbergasted

[The Management assures everyone Ms. Miller is only having a laugh here and no pullets were harmed in the writing of this post - yet]

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Slide Scanning Revisited

Back in December I tried out a new slide scanner, but I returned it. It was just too limited in what it could do. This time I did the research and got an Epson V500. It is bang on for the slide/old photo scanning I have to do.


Cool - even if closed it looks like a coffin

The scanner holds only four sides at a time, which means slow going. As I scan at 1200 dpi, the scanning is even slower, add to which after scanning, I use a photo program to lift out the individual slide pictures. Here's a 4 slide scan before I lift out individual shots. Below the initial tiff scan, I have a couple of photos I lifted from it and some others as well.



My family took loads of photos on roofs - My mother,
my sister Dolores and Juan with my father (circa: pre-Claire)


My brother releasing me so I could roam free & scorge the countryside


My maternal Grandparents Lomax and Adele, my mother and brother


I totally loved that my Halloween bat costume
almost as much as I hated that wall hanging

Hurrah! Now I know what I'll be doing on future Sunday afternoons. I have loads of family slides that predate myself by a decade or two. Many are from my father's travels in the 1940s and family slides from the 40s, 50s and 60s. I'll share the more notable ones from time to time. I also have several thousand slides of my own from the late 1980s onward, when I got my first single lens reflex camera.
I'm saving my new scans as tiff files and I guess that'll keep them safe until the next photographic revolution. By then I'll be scratching my head to figure out how to convert tiff files to 3-D stand-alones that move.

Other things the Millers used to do on Sunday afternoons

Monday, January 18, 2010

Rainy Day Treats

Whimsical Cutlery Chandelier Entrance
at Diego's, a Chilean restaurant

Drove up to Grass Valley for my quarterly SCIO (new age therapy stuff) appointment. Afterwards I met for lunch with an old friend, Pinky, whom I haven't seen in ages. It was seven years or so ago that she lived in Grass Valley, then moved to Humbolt County. But guess what? Pinky's back!

Pinky chose our lunch meet venue, Diego's, a Chilean restaurant, also in Grass Valley. I've never been to a Chilean restaurant, and we had tons to chat about, so knew I was in for a double treat. The sky was pouring down rain when we got there; practically had to swim across the street to get the restaurant.

This is the first thing you see at Diegos - entrance
brickwork complete with forks and knives

Here's Pinky Zalkin, keeping dry at Diego's &
showing off one of the restaurant's cute teapot candle

While it stormed outside, we delighted over the restaurant decore and cool cups and things at our table. We took our own sweet time to order lunch - over a plate of starters; calamari and dips. I decided on Pork Loin, which was sort of chicken fried and accompanied by BBQ veggies and mashed/grilled sweet potato. Loads of food - I would come away with enough leftovers for lunch the next day. Pinky had a similar spread of sides for her grilled rainbow trout.

I'm so happy Pinky is back in town. We haven't seen each other in ages, but it didn't feel that way. Pinky is one of Fran Zalkin's sisters, so you can imagine we had loads to talk over. There were melencholy bits but then the last hour - we were at Diego's for ages - we discussed our mutual hungering for adding a dog to our homes. Pinky is more or less looking to adopt a small, cuddly adult dog. For myself, I refuse to get a dog until I retire and have the time to train a new puppy.

By the time we left Diegos the restaurant was empty. Truth be told, I was so exuberant in our conversation, I found myself hoping the other patrons hadn't left to escape the loud mouthed lady - 'moi' - in the booth!

Caramel for Madame's coffee? Gracias!

Ensie,adorable 2" biscuits with fresh herbed
butter were replaced as they disappeared

Hum... tamales, Chilean food... That's been two 'Friends 'n Food' posts in a row. Hum... my trousers feel sort of snug. Oh well! Not too snug for dessert!

Oooo... Key Lime Pie... *drool*

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Chili Today, Hot Tamales

Far too much good stuff going on. Last week I went to a tamale party at Rick & Mommy Nancy's. Years ago they used to host annual New Years tamale stuffing parties and they decided to revive the tradition.

Tamale making is a long process so the more tamale affectionados to help out, the better. This was my first tamale making gig but as I am a great fan of eating them I figured it is about time I participate. What with boiling chicken until the meat falls off the bone, shredding the meat and mixing the cornmeal massa, and assembling the ingredients like origami, then steaming the finished tamales, making tamales - a hundred or so - can easily fill up most of a day.

On the cool side, at least to me, tamale recipes seems the sort of cooking you don't really need a recipe for. When it came time to add spices to the shredded chicken, we got artistic. A little chopped jalapeno here, some garlic there, not to mention varying teaspoons, dollops & dashes of cumin, salt, pepper, paprika, cilantro, and anything else that seemed tasty.

The massa - cornmeal with good old fashioned artery hardening lard, salt and such was prepared the previous day. So after soaking corn husks in water, we were ready to go.


Paste the prepared massa onto a husk
the black bits are raisins - yummy

Then add a dollop of shredded chicken. spiced & mixed
with hot peppers & every Mexican spice found under the sun;

Fold the husk, then turn the thing 180 degrees & roll

Finished wrap - all full of goodness & tied off with a bow

Final step - the tamales have a hot tub party,
(they are steamed actually) then they are ready to eat

That's it! Yum.... The best thing about Tamale parties is everyone goes home with tamales! You can reheat them by steaming, or freeze them for future use. Tamales as 'leftovers' are heaven.

And now a word to the wise, or to those with eyes bigger than their stomachs & thick skulls like me. You see, once upon a bit, decades ago Rick and Nancy gave me a dozen tamales from one of their tamale parties. I ate some - yum... then I ate some more... yumm.... then I ate yet another and suddenly - I thought I was gonnna die! Tamales can be quite petite, and they go down easily. However, after you eat them, the cornmeal absorbs all your stomach liquid and blows up like a puffer fish. OUCH! So be careful eating your tamales - or else!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Eggstra, Eggstra, Read All About It!

Madame Ami - Today I am a Hen!

Back in September I got four day-old baby chicks. When the fuzzy darlings were about a month old, it pleased me to give one as a pet to my friends, the Terrys. They named the new, and their third baby chick, 'Ami'.

Last night, as I lay in bed, almost ready to switch off the light, the Terrys called me. They were all excited, clucking and crowing because Ami, laid her first egg! It was doubly amazing because the Terrys also have two Rhodies (Rhode Island Red) pullets that are 2 weeks or so older than the Faverolles (French) chicks I have. So none of us were expecting any eggs out of any feathered behind until February at the earliest.

The first ever egg out of any hen are practice eggs. Most first eggs, like Ami's are smaller than they will be as the hen's innerds mature. Some eggs, amazingly come with no shell, just a membrane. Those eggs are rather 'jelly' eggs. I've heard that jelly eggs can really freak out the hen owners don't expect them. As first eggs go, Ami did very well to produce such as sizable egg, and one of such a lovely, rosy brown color. Good girl Ami!

The Terry's called me about the cool egg after I was already snug in bed. I got right up and tip-toed out to the chicken house to see if my girls laid anything of note, but nope, not yet. But I will keep my eyes open and my egg boxes open and ready until I get that first beautiful, egg.

The 'egg-of-color' in the center is Ami's pride

Monday, January 11, 2010

Shut your mouth, go away!

The Miller/Carter Tree; carrabean centered
but some roots are still missing

GAK! Have been quite busy. Spent most of the weekend working on my family geneology project. No great discoveries, but did add numerous 2nd and 3rd cousins on the paternal side of my family tree. Who knew I had so many cousins, and them spread all across North America?

Truthfully, I sometimes had an arm's distance relationship with my Father's side of the family. I used to get dragged to visit them at family parties, which in general I hated visiting them because dancing for the adults - torture for me - was a requirement. Anyway, the Miller's loved a party, the air was always full of calypso and Latin Music.

The only song I liked was Mama Look at Boo Boo. I remembered that song for ages, but never heard it after we left NYC. That is, until I was on my first trip to Alaska, and sat down for supper in a podunk cafe in the podunk tiny town of Tok. In the middle of nowhere, what played on the radio? Mama look at Boo-boo! Great calypso song about a man so ugly his impudent children call him 'Boo boo', like he's a wound - how cold is that! I remember the beat being much faster, but here's a version of it on YouTube. Click here to hear it! Sing it and get your Caribbean on!

Mama Look a Boo Boo
by Lord Melody (Belafonte at Carnegie Hall version - 1959)

I wonder why nobody don't like me. Or Is it a fact that I'm ugly?
I leave my whole house and go. My children don't want me no mo'.
Bad talk inside the house they bring. And when I talk, they start to sing...

Chorus: "Mama look at Boo Boo", they shout. Their Muddeh tell dem "Shut up your mouth! That is your Daddy."
"Oh no! My Daddy can't be ugly"
So... Shut your mouth, go away, Mama look at Boo Boo day! (UMMPH!)
Shut your mouth go away! Mama look at Boo Boo day!

Couldn't even digest me supper due to the children's behavior. "John!"
"Yes Pa?"
"Come here a moment, Bring the belt, you're much too impudent."
John says, "It's James who started first"
James tells the story in reverse!
I raise me belt from off me waist. You should hear them screaming 'round the place

Chorus

So I began to question the mother, "These children ain't got no behavior
"They're playing with you," my wife declared, "You should be proud of them my dear.
Them children were taught to bloom and slap."
That ain't no kind of joke to crack

There I was, one foot in Tok Alaska, one foot in Harlem NYC, swinging to Belefonte and Boo-boo!

These days, all my paternal uncles and my aunt are gone. My cousins - zillions of them are who are left and I'm learning about them on a family site on Facebook. Amazing! I thought I'd never get to know any of them, but the Internet is rounding us up - and this time I don't have to dance.

In other news, I did something new on Saturday. I volunteered 2 hours getting petitions signed at the Sacto Food Coop with a Museum docent acquaintance, Mary. Went very well, we got 130 signatures while I was on duty. The cause celeb? Saving our California State parks through an initiative to add a $18 bucks to car registration which would go directly, no bypassing allowed, as secured funds for CA State Parks. When you compare the $18 annual with the cost of one adult visit to Disneyland at $98 it doesn't seem like much, does it? The reward? Free park entry fees for everyone. So one State park visit per year and your registration sum is re-cooped in full. We're hoping the initiative goes on the ballot in November. Really want it to pass.

It was COLD, but the signatures made it all worth while