Saturday, July 26, 2014

On Vacation - So That's How It Works; Supper at Five Guys

After Godzilla, it was time for supper. We decided this would be as a group. Those who went to the movie would find a place nearby and go for dinner, thereby extending the camaraderie. But, a number of other guild members, who didn't want to see the movie, also wanted to participate in the dinner. Where to go which would accommodate a bunch of people, some of whom had never met, in a relaxed setting without us being too much of an imposition? There are a lot of eating places around the theatre and the group decided on Five Guys.

I've never been to Five Guys. It's only recently made it into the Chicagoland area. I really knew nothing about the chain, but other people said it would be the perfect place to rendezvous after the movie. It was perfect.

Ollivor and Jorlynn and Zylostout and Wendrah joined us so we shoved four tables together and had a blast.

The place was billed as the burger equivalent of Culver's, an upper Midwest chain. I guess that would be an apt description. You place your order under the "Order Here" sign and then wait for your number to be called. Nothing is made ahead of time. It's all fresh. You get a huge bag of fries with your order and I was told to order the small side of fries. It was still pushing it to finish. I found the burgers just average. I've had better burgers in other locations, usually at small spots who are not part of a chain. The fries were good, but nothing I'd bend time and space to have if I craved fries.

The service was a bit slow. I'm not sure if it was because we descended upon them in a mass and they weren't quite prepared for all of us all at once, or they were understaffed, but we had to wait a good 15 minutes for food. In the pseudo-fast food area, where Five Guys is positioned, this is a long time. I had to wonder how they handle the Tuesday lunch crowd because I would cease coming to a fast food place that took that long to prepare my food.

And that does bring up one of my "favorite" pet peeves. These people, working on a Saturday early evening to prepare food for people on vacation who have Saturday off and had just watched a movie, are considered "unsuccessful", because they are cooks at a burger joint. I applaud them for choosing to work here so I could try the food.

I did learn a new skill at dinner.

Perhaps you have seen these new beverage dispensers at Wendy's. They always frustrate me. How the heck do they work? Wendy's advertises that these dispensers will give you well over 100 different choices of soft drink. I just want a Dr Pepper. Is that possible? My daughter, who is way smarter than me, shows Wendrah how to operate the machine. After watching, I could get a Dr Pepper mixed with Coke or Root Beer or Sprite or orange or all of that. Now, I'm not intimidated by this machine when I go into Wendy's, which is the only place I've seen them. Funny thing, I haven't been in a Wendy's since April.

It was a great experience to be with guild members, sharing food and friendship. I'm glad I had the chance to eat at Five Guys. It's not bad, I would eat there again, but it's not a place I'll go out of my way to find. Perhaps, if I gave other menu items a chance, instead of just eating a burger, I might find something I like much better.

Beverage:  Huckleberry Tea


The Next Crafting Project

I went to  JoAnn Fabrics last week to get an item to finish this wedding present. While I was there, I noticed bolts of cloth sitting on a rolling cart.

Oh my. Carole's boyfriend, Larry, is a huge Star Wars fan. He also doesn't have a Hawaiian-style shirt made by me, in a loud fabric. I could certainly use one of these prints to make a shirt. This one was particularly attractive to loudness.

So I asked Carole which print would be the most attractive. I have no illusions about whether the shirt would be worn. It was more the idea of him having a shirt this "loud" in a print he would like. It's the proverbial Christmas gag gift.

Carole's response?  " about curtains, mom?"

Now, I haven't made curtains in years, decades even, but rod pocket curtains are very easy to make. The problem, for me, is doing the math to figure out how much fabric I need. But, heck, I can do this. It will be fun. Normally, I would wash the fabric to get the sizing out of it, but, for curtains, I don't have to. My friend, Pam, and I sat in JoAnn Fabrics surrounded by all the bolts of Star Wars AND a bolt of Star Trek fabric because Carole said that would be cool, and did math. In the end, I didn't need that much fabric to cover 4 windows.

Here's what I purchased.

I have curtain material for the side door, above the kitchen sink, the dining room and the home office. Now, about that chunk of Hawkeye fabric on the end there. It was off to the side. Someone had taken the rest of that bolt and this was to be added to the remnant pile. It's about a yard in length and is 60 inches wide so there is a lot of fabric. It's soft. It's a very soft flannel.

As I was waiting to have my fabric cut, I could hear it whispering me. "Hi there. You're a Hawkeye fan. I know because you keep looking my direction. You've picked me up a couple of times, too, and noticed I have football and basketball emblems on me, as well as Herky and the tiger hawk. Buy me. I'll be greatly reduced in price because I'm a remnant and the only piece of this bolt left in the store. Buy me. You know you want to." I got the remnant for 75% off. Since this fabric wasn't on sale, that was a big reduction. The rest of the fabric was on sale for 30% off AND I had a coupon for an additional 15% off everything. Not bad for curtain material.

I did purchase material for the shirt. That will show up in another post. I have no idea what I will make with the Hawkeye material. I have two other chunks I need to do something with. Maybe I should consider that Hawkeye "patched-look" blanket I've been thinking about making.

I am on a deadline. I will be back in Virginia in October for a Highland games and I want to bring the curtains along at that time and hang them. The shirt can wait for December and Christmas. There is a book on the ottoman I should finish reading. I'm up to book number 8 and I don't want to abandon the drive to read 12 books this year. So many things to do.

But, this is my next project and I'm excited to get started just as soon as I clean off the table.

Beverage:  Huckleberry Tea


A Strong Recommendation

I only recommend things I like. This is one of those things.

I bought these sandals back in May. They were on sale and proceeds go towards animal welfare and rescue. After I fell and my feet and legs, especially the right foot and leg, swelled, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to wear them. I took them to Virginia. On the day we went up into the mountains, I tried them on and they fit. The elastic on the top stretched enough to get my still swollen foot into the sandal. They were light weight enough that walking didn't feel like I was dragging around a ball and chain. My tennis shoes, back in May, felt very heavy on my battered leg. I preferred going shoeless, but that's not an option in the office. Plus, if I took off my shoes, I sometimes couldn't get the right one back on as my foot would swell during the day.

Since that day, I've been wearing these to the office and on errands. The thick sole is great for my stability, as is the fact that they are almost more of a shoe than a sandal. They have great flexibility and are comfortable. Plus, I can get them on when my hands don't want to work.

So, if you are looking for a sandal that is almost like a shoe, these are fantastic and come heartily recommended.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


So You Don't Have To

You know that time when you MUST eat something not at all healthy? I had one of those times recently. Here was my purchase.

And you know what? They weren't bad.

The vanilla cookie was typical Oreo quality, crunchy and solid. The inner filling was the usual texture of the vanilla filling in a typical Oreo, only it was lemon flavored. It was not overpoweringly lemon, either. It wasn't like taking a bite out of a lemon. It was light, just enough, I feel. The overall taste of the cookie was very good.

I like lemon cookies. You can buy "generic" brand lemon cookies in this style. Is there a benefit to buying Oreo brand? Not really. Still, they were on sale and, if I found them on sale again, I would consider buying them. I divided the package into smaller bags of 5 cookies each, after I'd eaten one side of the bag during a WOW raid. I grabbed a package with my lunch and 5 cookies was just enough to make a long afternoon at work feel not so long.

So, unlike other foods under this headline, I think these are okay and can recommend them, if you like lemon cookies. These aren't dunking cookies. I don't think I would eat them with milk, but they are a fun flavor in the seemingly endless versions companies are churning out in the drive to increase market share.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Saturday, July 19, 2014

On Vacation - A Movie

One of my goals, now that Carole is settled somewhere, is to see that area of the country in all its various seasons. I had been to Virginia in mid-May and in mid-August. We had traveled through, years ago, in mid-June. The other thing I have to incorporate into a trip is a get together with guild members who live out that way or who can get to Virginia. I decided to mesh these two things together over Memorial Day weekend. I could stay longer because I wasn't using up a lot of vacation time and people wouldn't have to dash off early because they have work the next day. Now toss in the release of the newest "Godzilla" movie and it's a complete package weekend.

I'm a big Godzilla fan, but, and this is huge, I'm a fan of the original Godzilla, the guy in the rubber suit stomping around a balsa wood rendition of Tokyo.

It really doesn't get any better than this for sheer camp. Add in a giant moth and you have the makings of a great night of cinematic unintentional silliness.

Godzilla was all about the horrors of the nuclear age. All of the creatures he fought and, indeed himself, were designed to remind people that what we had unleashed with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, could turn on us in an exceedingly violent fashion. That the movies became cult hits because they were quite bad was not the intention.

There was another attempt at recreating the magic of Godzilla. Those of us who know the franchise and love it for what it is, were horrified by the 1998 movie starring Matthew Broderick and Jean Reno. The upright dinosaur we knew was replaced with a velicoraptor-like monster. "That's not Godzilla!", we all said and the movie flopped.

So it takes a good 10 years to get a new Godzilla into development. I watch as the project goes through a couple of directors and some script writers. You're dealing with an icon here, folks. While you think it's about a guy in a rubber suit stepping on Tokyo, there has to be a reason, a meaning behind the actions, even if it's the most superfluous reason you can find. I wasn't expecting anything to come from the announcement of shooting starting on a new Godzilla movie.

Then, in December of 2013, the first trailer showed up.

Whoa. There isn't a guy in a rubber suit, but it's clearly not some creature that it shouldn't be. I started thinking about seeing this. I needed to pass judgement on this new movie. Was it "Godzilla" or some cheap knock off?

Then the release date was announced and it was one week before Memorial Day. We could have a whole weekend of guild stuff! We'd go to the movie and then go out for dinner afterwards. The official guild party could be the next day. It was perfect.

So, on Saturday, May 23rd, Skipkick and his lovely wife, Becky; Dorelei, her 2 children and her husband; Totorodoo (not in the photo. We couldn't find him after the movie.); Carole, Larry and I went to see "Godzilla". Verdict? It was awesome!

He's a bit too fat, like he's been lying on the sea floor eating too many fast food wrappers which drop from above, but the homage to the original is clearly evident in the creation of this version. I very much enjoyed that cities other than Tokyo were destroyed; Las Vegas, Honolulu and San Francisco. If you have not seen the movie, trust me when I say some of the loudest laughs were when Vegas takes monster damage.

You don't go to something like this looking for an Oscar winning screenplay or Oscar worthy performances. Still, they got Bryan Cranston, Ken Watanabe, David Strathairn and Juliette Binoche to stand in front of green screens and look very, very serious. Those people did an exceptionally good job.

They also didn't unleash Godzilla on us until about 45 minutes into the movie. That's a long time for the movie's namesake to be only discussed and never seen. You've come to see the monster. Where the heck is he? The 1998 movie tried the same tactic, but the overall effect was a disaster precisely because they chose not to show Godzilla in any trailer and because they had changed him. When this Godzilla arrives, it is the old one, the one we know, walking upright. We had also seen enough of him in trailers to know he was an homage to the original. And when he finally turned on the breath ray, a cheer went up from the audience.

As a movie designed to make you think, this doesn't. Some of the acting is either over the top or they could have used a sock puppet to the same effect. There are plot holes bigger than the holes Godzilla puts in San Francisco's buildings. But there were twists I didn't see coming, things that made you realize the people involved in this Godzilla know, and, more importantly, love the original, even if their San Francisco is CGI and not balsa wood.

Can't wait for it to come out on video.

Beverage:  Huckleberry Tea



I've been trying to add more play into our daily routine. Pilchard isn't that interested, but get Mija going...

It's a string onto which is a lure with feathers. I drag this across the floor and across the recliner and she will chase it. She loves it when I drag it across the top of the recliner. She dives under whatever I have across the back and attacks the bird when she feels it going across her head. We'll do this for about 30 minutes before she tires of it and quits.

I'm looking for something I can get Pilchard involved in. She really needs to exercise and play, rather than sleep on the bed.

Beverage:  Huckleberry Tea


Embarrassment - I Didn't Know About This

It's probably happened to you, particularly if you live in proximity of an urban environment. You live for some 30 years in one location and you think you know the place pretty well. Then, a client calls and says, "We're replacing this foot bridge over the railroad tracks at 35th Street so we need you to inspect the Douglas Tomb." The what now?

The Stephen A. Douglas Tomb, an Illinois Heritage Site, on a small patch of land off south 35th Street in Chicago. I looked at my boss and he looked at me. He can be excused. He's only lived in the area for 7 years. I however, ...

You all know Stephen A. Douglas, right?

He was famous already before he debated a young state senator by the name of Abraham Lincoln. You might have heard of him. They debated a total of seven times across the state leading up to the election of 1858. Douglas defeated Lincoln to retain his seat in the US Senate.

He was hugely instrumental in the Compromise of 1850, which was to have "settled" the issue of slavery once and for all. He believed, very strongly, in the right of the populace to decide the laws under which they would live. He never came out against slavery. He was always arguing for the preservation of the union over anything else. His opposition to the Dread Scott decision by the Supreme Court gained him the Democratic nomination for president but split the party in two, creating a southern Democratic party. This paved the way for Lincoln to win in 1860.

I assumed he was buried downstate. He was born in Vermont. He and his first wife, who was the daughter of a slave owner who had a plantation in Mississippi, moved to Chicago in 1847 to take advantage of the new town's growth. After his defeat in the presidential election of 1860, he tried to find a compromise to the impending secession. He offered to mediate any meetings to keep the union together. Once Fort Sumter was bombarded, he read over Lincoln's call for troops to put down the rebellion. Lincoln asked for 75,000 men. Douglas disagreed and urged Lincoln to ask for 200,000 men. "You do not know the dishonest purposes of these men as well as I do," he told Lincoln.

He was in Chicago in the spring of 1861 when he contracted typhoid fever and died in June. He was buried on land he owned on the south side of Chicago. Leonard Volk was hired, in September of 1861, to be the custodian of the grave site and he began the business of raising funds to build a suitable memorial. What is on the site is a scaled back version of what Volk initially proposed. The cornerstone was laid in 1866 with formal dedication later in the year. But, financing a war and with it President Johnson's spending in office shut down construction for several years. The state of Illinois was asked, repeatedly, to chip in $50,000 to finish the tomb. Due to foot dragging (Imagine that), the bill languished and so, therefore, did completion of the tomb.

Finally, in April of 1881, the necessary funds were appropriated by the state and the tomb was finished. It's a square monument on a circular base. There is a statue of Douglas on the top of the column. Below the column are bronze bas-reliefs depicting Native Americans, pioneers, commerce and education.

There are also four bronze statues off the corners of the monument.

They represent justice, history, eloquence and Illinois. The monument is limestone.

You can view Douglas' tomb via an entry on the east side.

When the monument site is open, there is a caretaker available to talk about the tomb and Douglas' life. I was there during unofficial time, which was great for being able to do my job, but not so good for wanting to know about the tomb and its construction. There is no door so you can see inside to the tomb itself and the bust which rests on the tomb.

It's in wonderful condition considering some of these stones are over 100 years old. I apologized to Senator Douglas for having to take photos of his final resting place. I found a couple of chips in the limestone of the monument and general cracking of the caulking between the stones. The Illinois Historical Society believes this is the oldest state memorial. There are benches to sit and gaze at the monument.

I have to go back to this area for more inspections so I'm going to try to time my travels to when there is someone at the site to talk about the tomb. I just want to hear what they have to say. There was a Union prisoner of war camp near this location, on 160 acres of land the Douglas family owned. I knew of this camp, but I didn't know exactly where it was located.

So, I was thrilled, once I learned where this was, to be given the chance to inspect it. I also am embarrassed to admit I didn't know about this. It takes longer to get here than to tour the monument but it is a gem.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Geranium Joy

I needed to sweep up the deck yet again as the chipmunk has come back. He's riddled the pot which holds zinnias and killed a couple of the flowers which were in that pot. I'm going to get a few more flowers for under the zinnias and I covered the soil with so much cayenne, it's not brown dirt anymore. It was a fantastically beautiful morning so, after doing that, I just sat on the deck, wrote a letter and read book #9, or is it #8. I'm behind in my book reviews.

July is also the month that flowers tend to be at their peak of blooming. The geraniums are no different. As part of the cleaning up process, I deadheaded the spent blooms and removed old leaves. This was the set up before I cleaned.

It's lovely to walk past this riot of color as I go into the house.

This is the set up now that I've cleaned.

I still need to paint the deck, but I have no energy. The zinnias are tall to begin with but they were quite leggy due to lack of sun. I think they will be happier in the corner. You can see I really pared down some of the flower heads. I also turned everyone 90 degrees so they all wouldn't lean one direction toward the sun. The only flowers not leaning were the marigolds. It's a lovely arrangement and makes the deck quite pleasant. It's more than enough for me to maintain, too, in addition to the impatiens on the front steps.

Here are my geraniums. White.

Light pink.


Dark Pink.


And red, which has orange in it when photographed in the sunshine.

The dark pink geranium I bought this year. It's in the pot with the salmon-colored one as that one is down to just a couple of stems. The rest have their own pots and are at least 5 years old, probably older. I bring them in every fall and put them in the back room where they have access to sunlight. I water them when I remember, which can be a good 3 weeks between waterings. I don't do anything else to them. In the spring, I cut them back once they have been outside for a week and we go another year. I used to have a striking purple ivy-leaved geranium but it really was an annual. It did not take to over wintering. I'd love a purple geranium, but I do have to watch how many I get. I only have a finite amount of space to overwinter them.

Beverage:  Huckleberry tea


Sunday, July 13, 2014

And it Was a Good Pair

I had to be out in the field on Friday. The job was to cover a quarry blast so I was in and out of the Jeep to set up and retrieve equipment. When I'm unloading the machines from the Jeep after the shot, I happened to notice my jeans.

The split is about mid-way on the upper thigh, between the hip and the knee.

I'm rather bummed because these are one of my favorite pair of jeans. I thought about just putting a patch on the inside but I don't think that will look very good. I thought about dragging out the sewing machine and zigzagging over the rip. But, it's been my experience that, when a pair of jean splits like this, the surrounding fibers of the pants are also weak and zigzagging the tear shut is going to result in a larger split. I've actually lost weight so it wasn't because I was trying to stuff my too big self into too small pants.

So, I tossed the pants into the wash. I'll wash them and then stick them in the materials box. You never know when you can use denim to patch something else. There's always the idea of making a quilt. Time to buy a new pair. That's the part I really don't like.

Beverage:  Water


So You Don't Have To

And a different flavor of M&M's is released to the public. My friend, Meredith, sent me a bag. I have been giving it the "all-American" try and here is my report.

Meredith said her kids really like these. I, on the other hand, have found it extremely difficult to sit down and eat more hand a couple handfuls at a time.

First of all, the colors of red, blue and yellow are not appealing. I don't quite know why I find the whole image boring, but I do. Birthday cakes aren't just red, blue and yellow. They are white and orange and green and pink. Usually, I'll dump out a bunch of M&M's and eat one color first, one color second, you know what I'm talking about. With these, I just dump out a few, eat those up and reseal the bag.

Second, that eat and close maneuver is because these aren't very good. The impression after eating one M&M is that it's quite sweet. I don't like the excessive sweetness. You know, the more I think about this, the more I think that, for me, birthday cake is not about the flavor. Birthday cake is about the cake part. And, anymore, birthday cakes can be cheesecakes, brownies, sundaes, cookies, etc. I think that's what I miss in a candy that is flavored like a birthday cake, texture.

So, once I finish this bag, I won't be getting another, not even if it's on sale for a dollar. I kind of wish they would just stick with what flavors they have or make the cherry ones available all year 'round. I still have 2 bags of those on top of the fridge. I'm saving those for emergencies.

Beverage:  Water


Sunday Crafting

I created this item last year. It was part of the desire to finish something which was started. I knew of a couple upcoming weddings so if I was invited to those, I'd have something finished. I wasn't invited so this languished in the drawer.

Then, a good friend announced he was marrying his longtime sweetheart in August. They have been together for some time so a toaster or a set of drinking glasses isn't needed. I remembered this piece that I'd never finished. It's perfect. It needs a backing. The bride's colors are royal blue and dove gray. This is where being something of a pack rat comes in handy. I happened to have royal blue lightweight satin in the material boxes.

I washed the piece, let it dry and then ironed it. Then I added their names and the date. I should have waited to wash it until after adding the date, but I didn't think that quite through. The bright red of the roses ran in the wash, even though I used cold water. It's not much but I was rather irritated by that. I guess it's a testament to the age of the project. Most kits come with color fast floss now.

I cut a piece of blue the same size and stitched the right sides together, leaving the top open to turn. Once turned, it was ironed.

The next step is to braid some ivory cording to make the hanger. The kit has enough cording to make a white tassel at the bottom of the piece but I think I want blue. I'm also fairly certain JoAnn Fabrics has ready made tassels so I don't have to make one on my own. I found something I need to have framed so there's another reason to go to JoAnn, not just for a tassel.

It looks good in its uncompleted state. We'll see if I can braid without "help" this week so I can finish this. I have a little over a month before the date. I can't go owing to where they are getting married, but I can send good wishes and a handmade gift.

Beverage:  Water


A Visitor

I'm not sure if he's mocking me or he just wanted to be in the sunshine but he showed up yesterday.

If he wasn't digging in my flower pots, he'd be so cute.

Beverage:  Water


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Home With A Gift

The people who had Tobey also had a cat tree for him. But because of the dog, Tobey couldn't always get down to use the litter box. . When Carole said she and Larry would take Tobey, the original owners agreed to give them the cat tree. Unfortunately, then they smelled it. But, a deal is a deal so they bought another cat tree for Tobey.

This tree, however, wasn't the sturdiest. It's smaller than the original and, given the size of both Tobey and Faux, it wobbles when either of them tries to climb it or even sit on it. So, when I was there, they offered to give it to me. My girls are smaller in size and I've often wanted to get a cat tree for them.  We had to take it apart to put it in the trunk of the rental car.

After sitting in pieces on the living room floor for a couple of weeks, I finally assembled it. I felt the girls needed to completely sniff it, give them some time to smell for both Tobey and Faux. I discovered I was missing a nut which holds one of the main posts to the bottom, but, because I tend to save everything, I actually had the right size nut in the basement.

It's a nice size when assembled.

I set it on the floor. They looked at me like, "Yeah, so, now what?" So I picked each one up and put them on the tree.

We're going on a month of this sitting in the living room. They still sniff it. Mija has to be picked up and put on the tree. It's a bit wobbly even for my girls. I need to move some stuff around in the living room to put this up against a window. I think they would use it if there was something to view. I will give them treats on the levels and have found Pilchard lying on it.

She saw, right away, the value of a space on which to lie down and drape one's paw over the edge. I put them on the top pad and the whole thing moves just a bit too much for my tastes but it's okay where she's lying. She's also discovered the posts are covered with sisal and that's fantastic for stretching and scratching. Of course, she won't scratch when I have the camera handy. Neither one really cares about the dangling ball, even when I make it move. Maybe that will be discovered, in time. 

This is fun for them. Once I figure out where to put it, I predict many long and useful days spent lazing on the cat tree. 

Beverage:  Rooibos Tea


On Vacation - Friday Night Eats

On Friday night, we decided to go get something to eat. Carole had driven me through downtown Warrenton, which wasn't as spectacular as I expected.

I admit to having preconceived notions of what the downtown of an early 19th century town might look like. There would be lovingly preserved buildings, which there are. There would be stores which have been there for a long time, probably true. But there were a lot of offices and not many restaurants. There weren't many shops. It's not a downtown for parking and wandering. This is a product of the location and how the roads have to come into and go through downtown.

The city is built on rolling hills. This makes it quite picturesque. Owning to the city's age, homes and businesses are built very close to the road. It's a remnant of the time period of founding. Wide front yards just aren't that common. The road has to wind through the town, following the trail which was laid out in the years after the war of 1812. The downtown is a slight mishmash of roads and directions and not four-way stops. There are a few things to see, some eclectic and the buildings make for a lovely visage, but for tourists, it's not a downtown for them.

So, in deciding where to go for supper, we went out to the main drag, which is the highway that loops around the southeast side of the city. That's where the big box stores with their attendant strip malls have landed. We wound up at a place called El Agave. It's in a strip mall near the branch of SunTrust Bank where Carole works.

That is two chicken chimichangas with refried beans, lettuce, sour cream, guacamole and a tomato. It's topped with shredded cheese and fried.

I run hot and cold on Mexican food. I don't care for tomatoes although I do love tomato soup and sauce. I don't care for guacamole or onions or sour cream although I use sour cream in cooking. These were soooo good. Mexican food can come in huge portions but this was just enough. Yes, we had chips and salsa. Their chips could have been from a bag but the salsa looked homemade. I would heartily recommend this place to anyone in the area. It's really good and reasonably priced.

From there, we went to a Warrenton institution, Carousel.

Every town should have one of these.

Larry said the store started in the 1980's. It used to be just a truck that would park at this intersection during the summer. (It's very easy to find. Take highway 29 into town. Where 29 intersects with 211, turn left. It's right there, adjacent to a strip mall where there's ample parking.) Eventually, they built the permanent structure which is open until Thanksgiving-ish. They reopen for the week of spring break, and then open for the summer around the middle of May. He said the original owners still own the place and still work it. There were a lot of teens manning the windows and I'm thinking Carousel gave a lot of teenagers their first job.

The menu is huge.

They do have a "lunch" menu with sandwiches but you go to Carousel for ice cream. When we were there on Friday, the line for full-service was 25 people long. They have a window for ordering just ice cream cones. So many flavors. All the ice cream is soft serve. I never knew soft serve could come in root beer flavor. Larry got a vanilla cone with chocolate sprinkles. I got a chocolate dipped cone and Carole got a cherry dip.

There is a lot of outdoor seating around the place, but when we were there, it was all filled so we retreated to the car to eat. It was so good, Carole and I stopped by on Tuesday afternoon, on the way back from our adventure and I got the cherry dipped cone.

The place just exudes happiness. The pink and blue and red neon of the trim just makes you feel happy. I half expected Pharrell Williams to jump up singing "Happy". You can tell the community is hugely supportive of this, too. The "Talk of the Town" bulletin board behind Carole had listings for all sorts of community and area wide events from concerts and plays to flea markets and festivals.

It's probably a good thing I don't live out that way. I'd have to sample everything.

Beverage:  Rooibos tea


The Little Bugger

My deck, amongst the flowers, has been a disaster lately. Dirt is everywhere. I attributed it to squirrels because they will hide food in flower pots, but it's not the end of the year, unless they know something I don't know.

Last weekend, I caught him in the act.

That little twit. It's a chipmunk. I'm not sure what he's looking for but he's the one digging up the plants.

In any other situation, this would be an "awww" moment, but I had to sweep off the deck, yet again, because he's digging in my flowers.

After chatting with some guild members about this, one of them suggested cayenne pepper. I had some from when a raccoon was trying to dig into the roof by the chimney. I got that out and sprinkled it around the affected plants.

We've had some rain in between then and now. He hasn't been back since I sprinkled the cayenne pepper.

I just wonder why he was digging. Did he think he'd planted food in the pots or that I had planted food in the pots for him? Chipmunks are cute except when they are digging in my flowers. It's taken them many years to be bold enough to move back into the yard. Rascal used to hunt them and she's been gone for some time now. I hope I've convinced them in a non-pesticide way to move along. Nothing to see here.

Beverage:  Rooibos Tea