Monday, July 31, 2006

one step backward in the kitchen

I've been making great progress learning to cook, until today. I found this great recipe for beef chile relleno casserole. I went to the garden and got the chile peppers and bell pepper that I needed. I got everything ready and started combining ingredients. I looked at the recipe and it called for a tablespoon of salt, or so I thought. That seemed like too much salt so I read it again. I should have used my reading glasses. I put the tablespoon of salt in the ground beef that was browning on the stove and then read the recipe one more time. This time it said one teaspoon. After hitting my forehead with the butt of my hand I looked in the frying pan and the salt was pretty well absorbed. I went ahead and added all the other ingredients. Maybe it wont be so bad. All that other stuff should soak up some of the salt. I tasted it. Yeccch!

I went to the computer and Googled the problem. I found a solution! I cut up a potato and added it into the mix, let it cook awhile then fished out the potato pieces and threw them away. It helped some, but it was still too salty. Dorothy likes salty food so maybe she won't notice. I ate some for lunch. It wasn't so bad, although I've drank two glasses of iced tea since eating.

I enjoy cooking but there's a bit of mystery to it. For instance, how does the kitchen stay so clean when Dorothy cooks? I fill the sink with soapy water and wash the pots and pans as I go, but there's still a mess when I finish. In spite of my efforts to keep it neat, I found grated cheese in the silverware drawer and bits of ground beef all over the stove top. By the way, here's a tip, wait a while before you clean the stove, those burner grates are hot when you pick them up. Our kitchen sink has been draining slow. I told Dorothy it was because of all the grease she pours down the sink. She said she never pours grease down the sink. I guess it's from the grease I've been pouring down the sink.

I'm not going to give up; in fact, I'll make Kung Pao Chicken this Wednesday. I've done that before and it turned out good. I'm thinking about throwing this relleno dish away before Dorothy comes home, so don't tell her I wrote this. Let's just keep it between you and me.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

checking the pumpkin

Last week this pumpkin was the size of a marble, now it's bigger than a tennis ball. We'll be checking on it at least once a week so you can see the progress. This hybrid has reached weights of over 1400lbs. I'll be happy if we can produce a 200 pounder.


Marley and Hunter went to their dad's employer's annual picnic. All the children were to dress to a hillbilly theme. Here is Hunter with his corncob pipe and a rope to hold up his pants.
And Marley as Daisy Duke

sunday morning

Dorothy and I played hooky from church this morning. She's been working hard and needs the rest, and me, I'm just lazy. I started the sprinkler on the garden this morning. It's been so hot, and I don't want to lose the corn before I've had a chance to taste it.

This is my crop of corn. There is a never ending battle to be fought against bugs when you try to grow food. I don't use chemical pesticides because I don't want to pollute the environment and I sure don't want to eat vegetables that have been sprayed with them despite the manufacturer's assurance that it's safe. I usually use an insecticidal soap or pyrethrin. Both are organic and break down very quickly. Pyrethrin is made from chrysanthemums. Sometimes I make my own with dish soap, horticultural oil, and maybe some cayenne pepper. Japanese beetles are the primary culprits this year. I noticed something had been eating on my cornstalks so I whipped out my trusty spray bottle of soap, pulled back a leaf on the cornstalk, ready to spray, when I noticed a little frog nestled down amongst the leaves. Well, now, here's a partner to help me eradicate those pesky insects. I checked several more stalks and found frogs in them. I put the spray bottle away. I'll let the frogs do their work.

My insecticidal frog. (I'm afraid my digital camera doesn't take good closeups)

Cows are curious people. This one looks over the fence to see what I'm up to.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

things change

I enjoy living in the country but as the years pass and I get older I find that I'm gradually becoming insulated from nature. Almost thirty years ago we lived in California and I commuted 85 miles to Los Angeles each day to work. The smog, traffic congestion, and the rush of life in southern California drove me to seek a quieter, more serene environment.

We were just kids when we bought the house where we now live. I was 33 and Dorothy was 29. We were after the true country experience. The old wood frame house on ten acres and a creek had no air conditioning and was heated with a wood burning stove. I fell into the country life with great enthusiasm. I bought a chain saw and cut wood to keep us warm during the winter. We did without air conditioning, using fans and the breeze coming through the open windows to cool us at night. We grew a garden and Dorothy canned the harvest. We had two horses, five cows, two goats, and two pigs.

Country living is not easy. Oh, I've seen people retire and move to the country with an income that allows them to enjoy living close to nature but have the work of cutting wood, hay, repairing fences, etc. done by other people. But I was still employed and all the chores necessary to survive had to be done after work. Over a period of time things began to change. We gave up the live stock because it was too much work. Isn't it nice to drive down the highway and see cows in the pasture? It's just like a painting. But those cows are rather high maintenance. They require shots and sometimes expensive medical care. Calving is not always free and natural. Some cows require the help of a veterinarian to give birth, and if you don't want the expense you can learn to reach in and pull the calf out yourself. If you're raising cattle to sell, it's necessary to castrate the young bulls. If the pasture doesn't produce enough hay to last the winter you must buy hay to feed the cows. I didn't know all this when I used to day dream about country living. Now I let neighbors pasture their cows and horses on our property and we can have the pleasure of looking at them without having to care for them.

Now the kids are grown and I'm retired. The house is equipped with central heat and air. I let my neighbor cut and sell the hay in exchange for maintaining the fences. I grow a garden and mow the lawn with a garden tractor, but since my gall bladder surgery I'm beginning to realize that I'm not going to be able to maintain the property as well as I had planned. For the first time I realize that I'm not going to live forever and even if I last thirty more years this body is not likely to cooperate for the entire journey. Dorothy and I are thinking about moving to town. That won't happen soon, but we're beginning to see the practicality of living close to hospitals and where going to Wal-mart does not involve a twenty mile drive. We'll just wait and see and be ready to make adjustments as things change.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

quote of the day

All of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon - instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.
-- Dale Carnegie

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

quote of the day

For the happiest life, days should be rigorously planned, nights left open to chance.
--Mignon Mclaughlin

Monday, July 24, 2006

drooping pumpkins

Look how the leaves of my pumpkins plants are sagging. I have the sprinkler on them to perk them up. I'm trying to grow some giant pumpkins for Marley and Hunter for Halloween. It's going to take a lot of water and fertilizer.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

quote of the day

Humanity needs practical men, who get the most out of their work, and, without forgetting the general good, safeguard their own interests. But humanity also needs dreamers, for whom the disinterested development of an enterprise is so captivating that it becomes impossible for them to devote their care to their own material profit.
Without doubt, these dreamers do not deserve wealth, because they do not desire it. Even so, a well-organized society should assure to such workers the efficient means of accomplishing their task, in a life freed from material care and freely consecrated to research.
-- Marie Curie,(1867-1934)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

lizzie is no longer welcome in my home

This afternoon I was showing off my garden to my friend Roger when Lizzie the wonder dog casually trots up to a tomato bush and picked a tomato and played with it like it was a ball. I shooed her out of the garden with some very harsh talk, marched into the house and informed Dorothy that Lizzie was going to join the cats on Proctor hill. She ignored me. I tried to give her to our company, Roger and Judy, but they politely refused even though I bragged about Lizzie's mole catching abilities. Ok, I'll give her one more chance, but if she picks one more tomato she'll get her walking papers.

feline overpopulation

We like to have a couple of cats around to help keep rodents and snakes away from the house, but they have a way of multiplying until we have a real cat population problem. Currently, we have nine felines hanging around eating expensive food and making a mess. I've been tempted to give them an anti-freeze cocktail some evening, but I don't like killing animals so I bought a humane trap. I brought it home this morning and within five minutes of baiting it with a bowl of cat food we caught one. I put the trap with kitty in the back of my truck and took off for Proctor hill seven miles away. When I opened the trap, out bounded the cat as fast as he could go across the meadow and into the woods. I thought I heard him crying, "yipee, yipee", as he ran. I could be mistaken. He'll be happy. These cats have been catching a lot of moles, mice, and rabbits at home so he has the necessary skills to make a living in the wild.

Now here's the problem. Lizzy the wonder dog wont let any cat near the trap . She stands guard and chases away every cat that comes near. Has she been overcome with altruism and can't stand the thought of those kitties living a life in exile? No, she wants the bait for herself. She's already set the trap off trying to get inside to have a little snack. I may have to pull her out by her hind legs if she gets stuck. I guess I'll have to do my cat catching at night when Lizzies in the house sleeping.

portrait of an okra pod

This is what the edible part of an okra plant looks like.

Friday, July 21, 2006

hot hot hot

Our back yard looks nice after it's been mowed, doesn't it? My neighbor Mike Wolf did this for us.
I went out to check the garden this afternoon and everything was sagging, even the okra. You know it's hot when okra begins to droop. Okra is a plant belonging to the Hibiscus family that originated in Africa and maybe even further to the east. The Africans sold into slavery brought it with them to the Caribbean and America where it's been a staple in the diet of southerners ever since. Some people don't like it. If you've never tried it let me warn you; don't boil it. You'll never eat it again. Dorothy cuts it up, coats it with a mixture of flour and corn meal and fries it. There's nothing better this time of year than fried okra, potatoes and green beans, tomatoes, squash, and corn on the cob. Of course, a tall glass of iced tea is a necessary accompaniment.

retired, again

Yesterday I resigned from the fire department. I turned in my equipment, keys and radio. I hated to give up my fire helmet, though. Now I feel like I have retired a second time. Not that it was a full time job, but it was a full time worry for me. I have a tendency to take things too seriously and and that can lead to more stress than I want to carry. Now I'm free to go off on another tangent. Who knows what activity I'll find myself involved in next. I'm exploring a few options which I will tell about later, but right now I need to take care of my garden, finish some remodeling projects (before Dorothy finds another man to finish them for her), paint a couple of pictures that have been floating around in my head for some time, and just do some meditating (maybe I'll contemplate my navel for awhile).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

summer heat

Yesterday it was 106 degrees with a heat index of 113. That's hot. I watered some plants and the water that first came out of the hose, which had been laying in the sun, heated the nozzle to the point that I could hardly hold on to it.
The plants in the garden are drooping.

Today I made chicken enchiladas for lunch. The onions and peppers came from the garden. I made the sauce from scratch. I get a kick out of preparing food from ingredients I grew myself. I wonder if I should raise some chickens and have organic free range enchiladas. I don't like the idea of killing them, but maybe I can get Dorothy to wring their necks.

I went out this morning and picked the chile peppers and was going to cut some okra but the bees were so busy I thought better of it. I don't want to disturb them while they are involved in their important work, nor do I want to get stung.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

decisions, decisions

I'm seriously considering resigning from my position with the volunteer fire department. Due to my surgery in April, I can no longer respond to fires. I could still continue with my position as secretary, but some recent complications are compelling me to withdraw completely from the enterprise. I was notified recently that I was to be nominated for the position of board member. I told the person who informed me that I wasn't interested and
since I would be absent from the meeting when the election took place (I was in Arizona at the time) to stand up for me and explain to the members that I would decline if nominated and refuse to serve if elected. I wanted to make that perfectly clear. When I returned from my trip I learned that I had been elected. The person whom I trusted to convey my message says he doesn't remember the conversation. I'm feeling a bit manipulated. These volunteer jobs have a way of becoming full time with plenty of accompanying stress. Combine that with the frustration of local politics and it becomes an unsavory stew. I think I've accomplished something for them. I set up their new computer and incidence reporting software; now anyone can take over with the aid of the instruction manual and information cd.
I'm retired and I'll be 61 next month. There are things I want to do and explore but I haven't accomplished much of what I intended. For example, I like to paint landscapes and I've only painted two pictures since I retired. I want to get back to it. It's not that I want to quit my involvement with the community (although there is a bit of the hermit's soul in me ), I'm already exploring other opportunities (more on that later).
Anyway, wish me luck. What's your opinion?

quote of the day

The difference between a moral man and a man of honor is that the latter regrets adiscreditable act, even when it has worked and he has not been caught.
-- H. L. Mencken, 'Prejudices: Fourth Series,' 1924

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


We've passed a milestone that Dorothy and I look forward to each year. It's the day that we can eat an entire meal made from food grown in our own garden. The other day Dorothy cooked up new potatoes and green beans, steamed zucchini and yellow squash and fried okra. Then tonight I made tacos and the pico de gallo was made from our own tomatoes, onions, and peppers. We also had chile rellenos made from our Anaheim chile peppers stuffed with cheese, dipped in batter and fried. It is so satisfying on several levels to eat food that you grew in your own garden.
I am in awe of the process whereby a tiny seed gets buried in the ground and immediately begins to manufacture living cells (billions per day), breaking into the light of day, reaching for the sun, working a beautiful alchemy that takes water and nutrients from the ground and transforms them into green stems and leaves, producing fruit containing many clones of the original self. It's miraculous.

Monday, July 17, 2006

cadillac ranch

Cadillac Ranch is a work of modern art set along the historic Route 66 just west of Amarillo, TX. It's aligned precisely facing west like the Cheops pyramid so I guess you could say it's the American Carhenge. It commemorates the Golden Age of American Autos. The Cadillac models half buried there range from 1949 to 1963.

This says, "Kill all men, we can live without them." What if there's a leaky faucet? Who's going to fix it.?
Italy had just won the World Cup the night before so someone didn't waste any time applying this graffiti.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Jenna Grace Turns Over

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travel notes

  • We play a game while traveling called "Twinkie". Whoever spots a yellow car calls out "twinkie!' to claim it and the one with the most twinkies at the end of the day wins. Whenever I saw an unusual vehicle I'd call out, "There's a '47 Nash, you don't see them every day. That was worth at least 53 extra points!" So I would always win. I was never challenged. Of course, it could be that no one was paying attention. It's hard to say.
  • Another game that adults could play is to count how many times the kids ask, "Are we there yet?"
  • When we drove to Laughlin, NV, it wasn't to gamble at their many casinos. No, it was for something far more financially devastating. Dorothy and Kelly wanted to shop at the outlet mall.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

quote of the day

Nothing is so awesomely unfamiliar as the familiar that discloses itself at the end of a journey.
-- Cynthia Ozick

wooden rocks or stone trees?

This trail wound through a section called the Crystal Forest. It was a good opportunity to work off some of the road food we'd been eating.

Friday, July 14, 2006

the petrified forest

The Petrified Forest is not one of America's favorite national parks, but it is one that no one should miss. It's like being on another planet. Dorothy and I visited here last October, but learned so much more this trip with a rambunctious 3 year old boy and very curious 6 year old girl along. How did an ancient forest come to be in the middle of the Arizona desert? According to the park ranger, Arizona has not always been where it is now. 225 million years ago it was located nearer to the equator and was lush with tropical forests. Then the shifting of the continents began and the forests arrived at their present location. The combination of torrential floods knocking them over and volcanic ash burying them caused minerals to leach through the ash over millions of years and be absorbed by the wood cells. Eventually the trees turned to stone. Some of them still possess wood material (permeatized), but most are pure stone (agatized). I asked the park ranger if she was interested in an alternative theory. She said, "Aliens?"
"No," I said. "But just to the west of here there is a meteor crater over a mile wide. Do you think the dust and ash from the collision could have covered the forest and caused the petrifaction?" She got this far away look in her eyes. I didn't pursue it. Experts are never interested in alternative theories, especially from amateur thinkers, but I think that since the crater was discovered after the scientists developed the current theory, maybe it should be considered too. Yes, there is a volcano nearby but not as close as the meteor crater. Marley had her own questions and between the two of us we kept the park ranger on her toes.

Petroglyphs carved into the rocks by the Puerco River indians 650-2000 years ago.

getting the fidgets out

Whenever children travel they develop a bad case of the "fidgets", a condition known to cause restlessness, inter-sibling squabbling, and whining. The ubiquitous motel swimming pool is the only known antidote. Here you can see Marley and Hunter getting their "fidgets" therapy.

Dorothy and Kelly wanted to drive down to Laughlin, NV to shop at the outlet mall. Even with the cloud cover it was 114 degrees.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

back to the travelogue

Whenever we go west we have to have hamburgers at the In-N-Out.
Dorothy puts the finishing touches on the groom's cake at her sister Gin's house.
Dorothy made the layers of this cake at home and they rode, wrapped in plastic wrap, under the seat of our mini-van. She decorated it and stacked the layers just before the wedding.
Father of the groom Dave Payton, Pam, Ray, and mother of the groom Gin. (Dorothy's sister) We arrived just before the ceremony started and were seated at the back of the church so I was unable to get good photos.
Ray's sister Kathy with her daughter Sally. The baby is my grand daughter Jenna Grace.
I love western art and I found this huge painting (12'X6') in the entryway of the Dambar Steakhouse where the reception was held in Kingman.

making pasta

Marley and Hunter were down today so we made some spaghetti with my pasta machine. While we were at it we made some linguini. Marley and I had picked some okra this afternoon so we had spaghetti with fried okra on the side.

Sampling the final product.

quote of the day

Courage is being scared to death - but saddling up anyway.
-- John Wayne

more photos

When I was a kid and living in California my family would travel across this desert on our way to Oklahoma. As soon as my dad got home from work on Friday night we'd take off and drive all night across the desert. Those cars of the 40's and 50's would easily overheat traveling during the day. In those days it was common to see cars on the side of the road with the hood up and steam rising. Remember those burlap water bags travelers would hang on the front of the cars to keep water cool? On the trip we would eat sandwiches that my mother had prepared or stop at a store for bread and lunch meat. I don't know if we were really that poor or just saving time. There were five of us kids in a '47 Buick, frustated by the heat (no car A/C back then), picking on each other, while my dad threatened to turn the car around and go back home. Of course I was always the smart aleck who said, "Yes, please do!".

This is highway 68 between Kingman, Az and Laughlin, NV. It's an area known as Golden Valley. Just 30 years ago we traveled this road often and there were no dwellings in the valley. Now look at it.
This is the view from Dorothy's sister's front yard.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

quote of the day

Work is not always required... there is such a thing as sacred idleness, the cultivation of which is now fearfully neglected.
--George McDonald

trip photos

Before we left for the trip I wanted to get a lot of yard work done, and since I hadn't felt any discomfort and pain from the surgery for awhile, I did a lot. Too much. The morning of the departure I wasn't doing so well and by the time we made Albuquerque I was ready to turn around or go to the hospital. After a night's sleep I felt better and we pressed on, but this last week has been like recovering from surgery all over again. Dorothy says no more hard work, at least for awhile. Pity. ;)

We got as far as Amarillo before the storms began. It looked as if we were going to miss this one, but we didn't. Downpours off and on across New Mexico and Arizona.

We made pretty good time in spite of the rain. We left at 6:15am Thursday, spent the night in Albuquerque, and then arrived in Kingman, Az. on Friday at 3:30pm

Whenever I see this stretch of I-40 stretching across the valley and over the mountain, I know I'm close to Kingman.

A rainbow reveals itself as we drive across Golden Valley.

we're back

We pulled in from the trip last night at 9:30. I slept until almost 9am this morning. I'll have photos later.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

hello from kingman

I'm writing this post from Kingman, Az. We drove through rain most of the way. Actually, downpours. We arrived at 3:30 yesterday afternoon and enjoyed a delicious meal at the Dam Bar with the wedding party. The reception will be held there also. Well, gotta go. Dorothy is going to decorate the cake this morning and take it to the reception area. She baked the cakes at home and we brought them with us. They made the trip fine.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

another call, another accident

This afternoon we received a call from Tara's sister Sam. She and her friend Christie had been driving in downtown Fayetteville, when they were t-boned by another vehicle. Neither girl was hurt, thank God, but this is beginning to wear on me. I try to think positively, like the law of probability would indicate that the likelyhood would be slim of either girl getting involved in an accident in the future. You never know. But two sisters in accidents within two days. That's weird.

another trip

Tomorrow morning we leave for Arizona. I'm taking my camera so I'll have lots of pictures for the blog upon my return. Unless I run across a computer on this trip this blog will be silent until next Wednesday. See you then.

4th of July

Burk lights up the black snakes children love so well on the 4th of July.

This morning I went to the garden and dug a bucketful of potatoes and we wrapped them in foil and baked them on the grill along with corn on the cob and chicken. We had a great meal and watched as Burk set off fireworks.

Lizzie, Hunter, Dorothy, and Marley eat ice cream after the fireworks.

jumping to conclusions, unwarranted assumptions, etc.

Every parent and grandparent dreads that call. The telephone call that brings news of an accident or illness of a loved one. Monday night Dorothy answered the phone and from the tone of her voice I knew it was one of those calls. Our oldest granddaughter, Tara, had just been injured in a motor vehicle accident. At once, my imagination took over. I was hearing only Dorothy's side of the conversation and my mind filled in the blanks. I just knew those crazy teenagers had been out driving recklessly with tragic results. Listening to the telephone dialogue, a few words jumped out at me: "Mustang", "Highway 59". The movie began to play in my head: They had been careering high speed down that stretch of two lane highway, their hair flying in the wind, talking with their friends on their cells phone, attempted to pass another car and had a headon collision.

What actually happened was that Tara was riding as a passenger in her friend's car on their way to another friends house. They had stopped to let the traffic go by before making a left turn when an elderly lady hit them from behind. Tara and her friend were both treated at the local emergency room. Her friend may have an injury to her neck, but she was released. Tara escaped with no apparent injuries although the next day she was very sore. Both girls will be watched carefully as injuries are known to manifest themselves days later.

Sometimes I think it's a good thing for me to imagine a worst case scenario because most of the time things are not as bad as I think, and that's always a relief.

quote of the day

"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan, 'press on' has solved, and always will solve, the problems of the human race."
--Calvin Coolidge

Monday, July 03, 2006

ice tea

I just finished mowing the lawn and weedeating in preparation for tomorrow's bbq and fireworks. I'm working on my third glass of ice tea. I love the stuff. Always have.

You know how some aromas and tastes evoke memories? That's the way it is for me with ice tea. I'm not talking about that insipid brown water they serve in restaurants, (except in the South where they know how to brew sweet tea). Hold a glass of tea up to the light. Is it red-brown? If not, you may not know what real tea tastes like. When I make tea I like to steep it for a long time and then when I pour it into a pitcher I toss the tea bags in too. Let them steep some more while we're drinking it. I don't use as much sugar as when I was a kid, but my tea has to be a little sweet. On a hot day like today, when the tea is just perfect, I can sit under the maple tree and enjoy memories like these:

In the early fifties my family lived in Hermosa Beach, California. Some summers, usually during August, we would drive back to Oklahoma to visit relatives. We would leave when Dad got off work on Friday evening and drive all night and all the next day across the desert. We were dead tired when we arrived in the land of red dirt and humidity that caused your clothes to stick to you.

One family I enjoyed visiting lived on a farm. They had a bunch of boys so we spent all our time at the creek swimming, catching turtles, and smoking grape vine. If we got thirsty one of the boys would raid his dad's melon patch. When he broke the watermelon over a rock, we would grab a handful of that red, sweet flesh and have a feast. When we were called to the house for a meal, we would eat fried chicken (from a bird that had been clucking and pecking at corn that very morning), vegetables right out of their garden. And ice tea. In mason jars. The ice was not white cubes from the refrigerator freezer, but chunks of clear ice chipped from a block that had required a trip to town to acquire. Today when I make ice tea, that's the tea I'm trying to make.

During the late fifties I would spend a week or two each summer with my grandmother who live in Manhattan Beach. We would go to the Redondo Library for the science fiction books we both enjoyed. We would take the books home and read them while we sipped ice tea. Two books I remember from that era were The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham and The Keeper of the Bees, by Gene Stratton Porter. In the evening we would watch tv shows like 77 Sunset Strip, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Seahunt. While we watched, we drank tea from fancy goblets. I always try to make my tea taste like it did then.

I was a teenager during the 60's and by that time had learned to make my own tea. Sometimes I would make just a single glass of it. I always had a glass of tea at my side when I sat up late to watch the Steve Allen Show on KTLA, Los Angeles. He was the funniest guy I'd ever seen, and I always used his jokes and copied his mannerisms to make people laugh. After his show, I usually sat up another couple of hours reading. It was during this time that I read Robinson Crusoe, Swiss Family Robinson, the Jack London books about the far north, and I also discovered John Steinbeck. The first Steinbeck novel I read was Cannery Row and I went on the read almost everything he had ever published. I usually slept until noon the next day, then walked to Dorothy's house to spend the day with her. She would make iced tea and we would drink it from those colorful aluminum tumblers that were so popular back then.

That's the tea I strive to create today, and every once in awhile I get it just right. And then, I can taste yesterday.