Friday, October 23, 2009

This is a previously published column..

Changing Lanes:Facebook
It’s been my impression that I am keeping pace with computers and related technology. I love email, it made sense to me right from the start and it is a great way to communicate. I keep in touch with friends, family, and acquaintances in that manner. Half my communications with Emmy, several floors away in this old house, is via email.
I use the computer to schedule appointments, write, and I even dabble in the use of the much maligned ‘Excel’ program. That alone is like trying to learn French, but on a grid pattern. I will never master either one.
I was told I should have a blog, starting it up and adding to it is still a learning experience for me. Though I don’t make as many ‘posts’ as I am advised to, I manage to add to the blog every week.
Computer geeks keep coming up with new ideas and applications for the computer. I know they usually mean to streamline our lives but most of the new programs require what seems to be unending lessons to learn.
A new menace has arisen in my life. Facebook, appropriately named, is in my face everywhere I turn on the internet. My first contact with it came when I got an email from “The Facebook team”. They said my son Jon, wanted to invite me to be his friend, in order to do that I would have to join. If I became his friend, he would then send me photos of himself and his family via Facebook. It is unlike Jon and me to talk about it, but I’ve considered him a friend ever since he started doing wonderful things like moving out of the house and producing grandchildren. I didn’t think I needed a team from Facebook to make him my friend.
I wanted to know why it was important I join them. My suspicions harked back to my belief that any group who would have me as a member does not really meet my standards.
I became more curious than cautious; I took the bait and joined Facebook, though I had my doubts. I needed to examine it more closely before I rejected it completely.
Facebook looks like a desperate attempt to find friends, via the internet. What’s wrong with the old way- at the bar, drinks, becoming obnoxious, then morose, offending any new friend you have made, any old ones who are present, being escorted from the bar, ah the good old days..
I digress.
Facebook has multiple ways of communicating with others. You have to step carefully. You can write something on your own “wall” or another person’s wall. After offending a few people because I didn’t realize whose wall was whose and how many people could see it, I’ve stopped writing on anyone’s wall for a while.
There are games, clubs, and quizzes on Facebook. There are causes you can join. Some of them are serious, most are frivolous. You can become a fan of various things like ice-cold beer or campfires. I’m already a fan of those things and I don’t need Facebook to weigh in.
This all sounds as though I don’t like Facebook and I really didn’t until a short time ago. The other day my son and his family left for Disney World. I checked my Facebook page the same day they left. A photo of my 6-year-old granddaughter popped up. Her red curly locks tumbled around her face as she sat in the co-pilots seat of an airliner. They had boarded the plane for Disney a few minutes earlier and Jon had taken a picture of her seated there and posted it to Facebook with his fancy phone.
I knew they were in transit but in my old-fashioned mind, I had not expected to hear from them for at least a week, maybe two until they were back and settled at home again.
I kind of like Facebook.
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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Lackadaisical Lackey

Betty and I have been home now for several days. It is great to be in a place bigger than a couple of appliance boxes, I no longer have homicidal urges towards my wife. It is amazing what being couped up in a small space will do for a couple.
Our next possible (tho unlikely) show will be Christmas in the Country at the Hamburg Fairgrounds. The work I have to do is a long list including repair and painting our displays and repacking our display trailer for inside shows intead of the outside ones.
I have too much winterizing lackey work on the house as well..

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Lacking spring in my step

Betty and I are less than a week away from the end of this, our latest sales/visit trip. We've done just two shows in the past four weeks and had lots of visit time with our kids.
We are in Geneseo NY at a Walmart and tomorrow is our Letchworth show.
We both agree that this camper is too small to spend this amount of time in together. Every action has a reaction. We haven't been able to be outside enough and patience is wearing thin. It doesn't help that the shows have not paid as much as we'd hoped.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Chicken Surprise

This is a column published a few years ago when I was still working full time...

Changing Lanes: Chicken Surprise
I keep my culinary skills honed to a fine edge by making dinner once a week. This gives my wife, Emmy Lou, a break from kitchen duties on one of her busier days.
My specialty is what I call “Chicken Surprise”. I make this one dish, baked, surprise often, even though Emmy makes a face and pretends to shudder when I reveal my plans for dinner.
In the past, I switched off between “Chicken Surprise” and “Pork Surprise” but Emmy Lou stopped eating red meat. I have pointed out to her that pork really isn’t red meat but she’ll have none of it. My dinners became limited to chicken surprise only, although I have to say I come up with a lot of variety without switching meats.
I always begin with chicken breasts and condensed cream of mushroom soup, after that, is the surprise. This one dish can be prepared in so many different ways it’s remarkable.
Sometimes I add onions, potatoes, and carrots, maybe even turnips, or stuffing. It is when I really experiment with other ingredients, my wife strongly objects. I tried Lima beans, tomatoes and some raisins; it turned out great but I think Emmy has something against Lima beans.
I tried applesauce with “stiffeners”, (no matter how much flour or stuffing I added it came out soupy, and it didn’t taste that good). My spouse objected to further experiments with fruit of any kind in my Chicken Surprise and I bent to her wishes even though I was on the verge of a breakthrough with pineapple.
One time I decided to put whole sweet potatoes in my “surprise”. Then I figured if I boiled and mashed the sweet potatoes and then mixed flour and baking soda with them; it would come out of the oven like fancy chicken and dumplings.
It didn’t work out as well as I would have liked. I ended up with a sort of a chicken cake, which was a bit dry but I must say, delicious. Emmy ate some but said she had just started a new diet of which I was unaware, so there was a lot left over. Bob the dog loved it; he always loved it when I cooked.
Emmy often asks me where I got the recipe for this or that. I’m kind of dumbfounded that a person who has cooked as long and as well as she has, is so dependent upon recipes. That is like using a map every time you travel or asking for directions when you’re driving.
She sees recipes as strict specific road maps; I see them as general guidelines. Sometimes, you have to set your general direction and leave the map in the glove compartment, not worrying so much about arriving at a specific place. Life would be pretty dull if you always followed a map.
Last week I tried a new recipe, my own invention of course, in a crock-pot. I called it “Chicken Pot Roast” only to be informed by some stickler for definitions that “Pot Roast” doesn’t really involve a chicken at all but beef. I had to call it something else.
Being a forward thinker, I was sure that anything you started at three in the afternoon in a crock-pot would certainly be done by dinner.
I ordered pizza that night and we saved the “Crock-Pot Chicken Surprise” for dinner the next night.
I’ve had a new dish floating around in my mind for a while. I was going to call it “Fish Pot Roast” but apparently, beef still has some sort of patent on the “Pot Roast” name. I guess I’ll go simply with “Crock Pot Fish Surprise”.
I’m still sharpening my culinary skills..

Monday, October 5, 2009

A lackey's work is done- for now

Camden Hills State Park Has a great Campground from which I write this. CHSP also has a shore line trail and Batty Mountain. The drive or climb up Batty rewards the traveler a beautiful view of the harbor with its tall ships and the craggy shoreline.
Betty and I are not taking in the splendorous view but instead licking our wounds after a weekend where we did poorly in sales but on the up side stayed cold and damp too.
Our booth and Betty's heater seemed to be the talk of the other vendors at the show. We had them last year and no one seemed to notice. I think the difference this year is that their were far fewer visitors to the show so people had time to observe and talk about each other. Our Booth is a sturdy one, from Custom Canvas in Buffalo. I don't think any other vendor would argue it was the sturdiest one at this show however, it was also the most labor intensive to put up.
On Sunday morning, several hours after opening up Betty sold a seven dollar set of earrings. The total went up to $18 dollars and stayed that way till just after 2pm. I wasn't happy but Betty takes it harder. Several sales after two-o-clock in the hundred dollar range pulled us out of the completely-in-the-crapper range.
Love Camden, don't think we will do the fall show again.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

lacking sales in Camden

Betty and I are in the middle of a Camden "Harbor Arts Festival" weekend. We have had constant rain up till now, today is showing signs of being much better, it is just a heavy mist with thick fog.
The first day of our show went well for the amount of people who faired the rain and visited our soggy booth . Betty seems to be the talk of the show, this time because we have a back room with heat in it. I spilled Rosemary oil on my shirt and because I don't have that many shirts along on this trip I continue to wear it hoping the smell will wear off. Fellow artisans probably get a kick out of my Rosemary scent.
There is supposed to be a cruise ship docked in Rockland and we are to have as many as 2500 extra people here, ferried up to Camden via shuttle buses, at least that was the idea. So far, not so much. With the bit of xenophobia from the locals, lack of sales and a dreary weekend I am kind of bummed so far.
I keep coming back to this blog when I make my trip from the booth for one thing or the other. Our tent is so dark we have to light it, especially on such a dark day. I came up to get a fresh battery this time.
My low down bummedness will probably change if we start to sell something. So far today $7.00.

More later.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Nothing Lacking in Camden

Betty and I are sitting in Camden Maine. We set up today for this weekends' Harbor Arts Festival. It was leisurely and a beautiful day, overlooking the harbor with it's tall masted ships swaying on the water. There were an unusual amount of cancellations this year so we have a prime spot in the "hilltop" section.
It is a good thing the rain held off so we could enjoy setup so much. The forecast is for 100% chance of showers on Saturday and 90% on Sunday. Oh well.... Set up was beautiful.