Wednesday, July 20, 2016

A quilt for Sean


Maria writes:

This quilt went to live with my oldest stepson, Sean Flora. He's been due a quilt for a long time, and I'm so glad it finally reached him. It has scraps from dresses I made for Lisa Flora, when she was tiny, and from her bed quilt, plus lots of others that went into happy projects for other people. There are fabrics John and I bought as we traveled, including one to represent Sean and other family members. So we are all connected at Sean's house, even though we live far apart.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Coming home from the BMW MOA Rally last year


Today was the final day of the BMW MOA Rally in Hamburg, NY - a day when tents are struck, bikes are loaded and everyone hits the road, mostly for home.

That day was July 26 last year and about this time that afternoon I was sitting at a country store in the South Dakota Badlands with Jeffrey Vestal of Greensboro, South Carolina, waiting for this storm to move out of our path on I-90. Drivers from the east reported heavy rain and hail and at least one motorcyclist crashed.

Jeffrey was riding a BMW GS bike and emailed me that he made it home safely. He sent me this photo.

TCB


Some weekends pass without me accomplishing much of anything, but this weekend was different.

We were up early Saturday to hit the ASU Farmers Market for tomatoes, peaches and a watermelon, then off to Morgan's house to attack mulberry trees with chainsaws. I say chainsaws plural because I took both of my Poulan saws in case one failed. And it did. And in the middle of the job the remaining saw showed definite signs of a dull chain. I know some guys like to sharpen their own chains. I bought a file and tried it once but decided I didn't want to take the time required to get good at it. The alternative is to buy a new chain when the old one gets dull. I'd rather spend $16 or $17 than fool around with a file. We needed to go to Lowe's for Delta faucet parts anyway.

We even got permission to go into the neighbor's yard and cut some mulberry trees that were attacking the fence that separates the two properties.

Back at home, I tackled the leaking faucet on Maria's side of our double bathroom sink. Turns out the guy in Lowe's plumbing department gave me the wrong seals, which necessitated a late afternoon return and a pleasant dinner at Qdoba.

I finally finished the repair this morning.

Now I'm wondering whether I want to mow some grass while the temperature is 91° and the heat index is 101°. It's supposed to be hotter still tomorrow, so maybe if it cools off this evening...

Saturday, July 16, 2016

I finally got it right


I'm testing this Hamilton Beach espresso maker for the Amazon Vine Program and finding out how little I knew about espresso and cappuccino.

I've been using a modest Mr. Coffee espresso maker that my son Steve gave me years ago and expected the Hamilton Beach unit to deliver similarly satisfying coffee drinks.

But when I loaded it with my usual Starbucks Italian Dark Roast coffee, the result was a thin, watery brew that left me unimpressed.

Then I did some research and figured out what wasn't spelled out in the owners manual. Unlike my less expensive model, this unit demands finely ground coffee. The regular Starbucks grind lets the water blow through without picking up enough flavor to make it interesting.

So I put some Starbucks into my coffee grinder and reduced it almost to a powder, filled the brewing cup with it and tamped it down with the included tamping tool. The result was the satisfyingly rich espresso I had been hoping for.

The Hamilton Beach unit sells for $123 on Amazon.com with these specs:

15 bar Italian pump for excellent extraction and rich crema
Patented Slide & Lock filter holder makes setup easy
Swiveling steam wand for steaming and frothing milk
Removable water reservoir and drip tray
Pressure pump for excellent extraction and rich crema

Thursday, July 14, 2016

On this date in 1945


The team of scientists and engineers headed by Robert Oppenheimer hoisted the world's first atomic bomb to the top of a 100-foot steel tower in the New Mexico desert, two days prior to detonating it.
The USS South Dakota became the first U.S. warship in WWII to shell the Japanese homeland.
And I was born.

Monday, July 11, 2016

I've been in Florida (and Tennessee, and Mississippi, and Alabama...)


I slept well last night, probably because I spent 14 hours in the Lexus covering the 815.3 miles from Skip and Gloria Hess's home in Holiday, Fla. to my home in the Arkansas woods.

Skip suffered a stroke earlier this year and, since he's 78 and probably not immortal, I figured I owed him (and myself) a visit. Skip came to The Indianapolis News a few months after I did in 1967 and we've been good friends ever since. He and Gloria are our kind of people - smart, conservative, funny, and crazy about dogs. They have had as many as seven rescued dogs in their home when they lived in Indianapolis. They share their Florida home with four - Bo, an Aussie mix; Ben, a black lab mix; Seneca, a mystery mix; and Lacy, a Yorkie mix. Bo is their only Florida rescue and he took an instant liking to me, making a point of greeting me first thing every morning.

I left here about 6:10 a.m. last Tuesday and was in rain off and on most of the way from south of Memphis to somewhere around Montgomery, Ala. I had hoped to do the entire trip in daylight, but sunset caught me about an hour north of their house.

I stopped for an early dinner at the McDonald's in Perry, Fla. Road-addled, I left the McD parking lot turning north on U.S. 19 instead of south toward my destination. Looking for a place to turn around, I made a left turn at the next stoplight, then whipped a U-turn on the side street and headed back south. Seconds later, I noticed the flashing light bar of a Perry police car in my mirror and immediately pulled into a parking lot and stopped. I was wearing my NRA concealed carry vest with my Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol in an inside holster/pocket so, when the officer came to my door I immediately informed him that I have a concealed weapon permit and I was carrying a gun. I handed him my driver's license and permit and he asked where the gun was. I showed him the vest pocket and offered to take it out, be he said to leave it.

It took a few minutes for him to run my driver's license number and plate to make sure I didn't have any outstanding warrants, during which time he opined that Arkansas concealed carry permits are nicer looking than the ones Florida issues. Then he sent me on my way with a verbal warning to be careful. (For what it's worth, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee have CCW reciprocity with Arkansas, so my permit is valid for the entire route.)

Skip and Gloria have a lanai and pool, so daily dips were in order. We went down to the Gulf shore Wednesday and Thursday evenings to photograph the sunsets and I tracked down the Tampa Bay BMW dealership and bought a shop t-shirt.

They took me to dinner the last two evenings - a BBQ place and a seafood restaurant that serves a killer crab-and-pasta in cream sauce.

The only regret I have about the trip is that Maria hasn't earned enough vacation time to come with me. She will go with me next time.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Not going to the BMW MOA rally this year

The 2016 BMW Motorcycle Owners of America rally is next weekend in Hamburg, N.Y. and I will not attend.

It's a 900+ mile ride from my northeast Arkansas home, which is considerably less than the 1,400 miles I rode last year to the BMW MOA rally in Billings, Mont., but I was pretty sure I was going to pass this year as soon as I learned where it would be.

I have no desire to ride to New York State. I've been to that region several times and it holds no interest for me. In fact, I consider it an area to avoid.

Next year's rally is to be in Salt Lake City, Utah. Count me in.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Happy 4th


Happy Independence Day. Say a prayer of thanks for those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Then pray that we can stop the destruction of the Republic.